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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Variety interview, IFP panel coming up :: Still not motivated to submit to festivals

Looks like I will be interviewed for a Variety article next week. It's for an upcoming indie film issue of theirs (didn't know they had indie film issues, very cool). Will write more about this after the interview happens.

Also, speaking of new indie film opportunities, last week I was invited to speak at an IFP panel event in October re: self-distribution & using new media/alternative publicity methods, etc. Will do a full post about this in the coming week. The panel event sounds interesting & useful. One that I would attend even if I wasn't a part of it. I've never been on an indie film panel before, so this is exciting. & the event will be in NYC, which doubles the excitement level.

Still not motivated to submit Date Number One to film festivals. Fest deadlines come & go
w/out having any real impact on me. I've had good luck with 4-wall screenings & a couple of excellent bookings, so I think I'll just keep heading in that direction. Festivals are useful, but not every indie film needs to take the festival route to get to the audience. I like being able to (or at least there being the chance of) making money from every screening, makes the management of debt-related-to-the-film a tiny bit easier. Fests at this point do not share revenue from screenings with filmmakers (there may be a couple of exceptions out there). When fests do start sharing $s with filmmakers, I will no doubt take them more seriously. But, my objections to participating in them aside, film festivals are, & have been, a very positive thing for indie film fans & makers for a long, long time.

Now I am off to check out a great deal I found on an ad space at an excellent blog.

- Sujewa

Out of Wassup Rockers, Devil Wears Prada, Clerks II, Miami Vice, Scoop, the best is...

I've been on an indiewood/Hollywood new flick watching kick lately. Who knows why, maybe thinking about what to avoid in my next flick (& perhaps what kind of things to consider adding).
Saw Woody Allen's new movie Scoop last night. Scoop was photographed well and there were at most 3 moments that I found to be lightly funny, but overall the flick is not very engaging, or, the flick is dull. But I did like Match Point quite a bit. And Woody Allen will remain one of my film heros 'cause he made Manhattan & Annie Hall & several other excellent movies. Anyway, out of all the indiewood & Hollywood flicks seen recently, Clerks II is the clear winner for "the best movie seen in a while" title. Now I will return to watching & writing about excellent indie/DIY flicks that most mall movie goers will not hear of and of course promoting the NYC premiere of my flick Date Number One on 8/31, 9 PM @ the Pioneer Theater. If you only get to see one movie this week, consider Clerks II. And if you live in NYC or close by & you only get to see one flick on the week of 8/31, u know which one I want you to check out :)

- Sujewa
PS: ooops, forgot about Pirates II, I liked that one, in a thrill ride league all its own, recommended.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Miami Vice knocks down the "digital can't be beautiful & cinematic" argument

Just got back from watching Miami Vice (a dude's gotta take a break from a steady diet of d.i.y. film activity & sample some hyper-hyped hollywood stuff every once in a while :). What sealed the deal on going to see MV was the New York Times review I read today, it said something like that MV is an art film for action fans or an action film for art film fans, something like that. Plus a little bit of decadent shiny-ness reflected back from the 80's was thought to be a welcome diversion for a couple of hours. Anyway, back to the artiness of MV: yeah, it's arty. A lot artier than most Hollywood action flicks. At one point the camera pans away & focuses on ordinary highway activity, this happens at the end of an intense confrontation between the two MV cops & an informant, then the flick completely surprises us by....(see the movie for that :) and then jumps into the next, unrelated to the previous, scene as if nothing happened while the audience collected their breath. Unpredictable storytelling coupled with excellent visuals (the film did not suffer due to the use of digital video, in fact, I think dv was the ideal format for this flick, but, like the old argument goes, it wasn't the format but the talents behind the camera that sealed the deal) lifted the film far higher than it would have gone on actors & plot alone.

And so now on to the not so great aspects of the film. The flick could have used better dialogue. The two lead characters should have been introduced in greater mundane detail (small talk - well written small talk, a little bit of humor, some unique habits, etc.) at the beginning of the film to help the audience forget the famous real life personalities of the actors who are playing the roles. The reasons for the relationship between Sonny & the criminal woman, how it ended up being what it became, needed to be revealed - why did those two individuals put their careers & lives at risk?

There is room for improvement in the character & dialogue areas, but the cinematic storytelling (mostly the images, also editing, use of sound in relation to images & story details & emotions) in MV is excellent.

- Sujewa

Friday, July 28, 2006

AsianAmericanFilm.com mentions Date Number One 8/31 NYC screening

Here's the link to the post.

Thanks a lot AsianAmericanFilm.com!

See Date Number One's website for all the info. on the film. The flick screens at the Pioneer Theater on Thu, 8/31 @ 9 PM, buy tix here ASAP if u r interested in attending the event (if the 8/31 screening sells out by 8/1 Tue or so, Pioneer may add more screenings & that would be sexcellent, so let's get the 8/31 show sold out!!! :). Thanksalot!

- Sujewa

Real indie filmmaker Kelley Baker is angry at Michael Moore's fest, fake indies

At his blog Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker says:

" Michael Moore Can Bite Me! I just finished reading an article about Michael Moore's new film festival. "Moore Hopes Film Festival Sends Message" (AP). GIVE ME A BREAK!!! He is showing films like The Wizard of Oz, and is ending the night with a special screening of Woody Allen's new movie SCOOP. In between we are getting films by Jeff Daniels and Larry David. And let's not forget a film starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson. Atta boy Mike, that is INDEPENDENT!I am so sick and tired of all of these Hollywood movies acting like "Independents". Is it because they have budgets under 10 million dollars? Wow, that is "indie"!

And a few moe paragraphs of anger later, we get:

" Hey Mike! How about a film festival featuring movies made for under $100,000 with good actors that no one has ever heard of? How about lending your name and your publicity machine to actually helping REAL Independent Filmmakers? Even Sundance abandoned that approach. They must have found out that it was a lot more fun and profitable to hang with the Hiltons, and other celebrities instead of promoting an entire festival of unknown filmmakers! But at least they tried in the early days. What about you? Please stop this fucking charade that your festival is about "independents", unless of course you mean the Hollywood Corporate Independents. Then I guess you'll feel right at home."

Read all the rage over here.

And here's the link to Michael Moore's film fest, the Traverse City Film Festival. It looks interesting, even though it may not have any real indie movies (have not checked out their full list of movies yet).

Kelley Baker's most recent film Kicking Bird is very good. I screened it for about a dozen people in Kensington, MD earlier this year, almost EVERYONE in the audience loved the movie & almost everyone ended up buying a DVD of that flick & a few other Baker DVDs.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Indie Features 06 is popping with info. on several excellent real indie flicks

At Indie Features 06 you can now read about the self-distribution adventures of several indie flicks: Date Number One playing at Pioneer Theater in NYC on 8/31 (info link)- 9 PM(tix link), upcoming LOL & Jumping Off Bridges screenings in NYC (Pioneer again), The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah getting into several festivals & its director driving cross country to screen his movie in MD, Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker's DIY touring & screening adventures with Kicking Bird & other movies of his, Lance Weiler's ambitious multi-city theatrical screenings & nationwide DVD release of his new movie Head Trauma, and that's just info. on a few titles off the top of my head. Indie Features 06 is THE place for news on real indie films right now. Tired of reading about fake Hollywood indies in every other blog & magazine baby? Then stroll on down to IF06, spend some time reading through the blog - there's over 100 entries there - all from this year!, it'll put a smile on yer face & warm yer heart.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You can NOW BUY TICKETS to the Aug 31, 9 PM NYC premiere of Date Number One! :: less than 84 seats left

Want to experience the superdelicious, no-budget, ninja-errific DIY filmmaking & self-distribution glory that is Date Number One when the flick has its New York City premiere? Want to hang out with the filmmakers & actors, possibly make some new cool friends? Then go HERE to buy tickets to the Thu, Aug 31, 9 PM NYC premiere screening of Date Number One at the Pioneer Theater. As far as I know, less than 84 seats are available now. Buy tix, spread the word, let's have an awesome time on 8/31!

- Sujewa
ps: I am going to be speaking about self-distribution at an IFP panel event in October, it would be very nice to have a DNO NYC premiere tix sales success story to tell :) thanksalot.

Notes from inside the process of getting & promoting an indie film screening in NYC

From the outside, the event looks pretty simple, as a lot of complex occurrences may appear: 1. man in DC makes a movie, 2. man submits movie to a NYC movie theater to get a screening, 3. the movie theater offers a screening, 4. man accepts the screening offer & begins promoting the event. Step 1 took about 2 years to complete. Steps 2 - 4 took about 2 weeks. The completion of step 4, promoting the screening until it happens, will take about a month. But there is more inside this seemingly simple process, read on.

I noticed the Pioneer Theater through my web searches on indie film at least three years ago, around 2003. And about two plus years ago I decided to make an ultra-low budget, 100% indie, self-distributed feature on digital video. Prior to that I had created a feature on 16MM, spent a lot of money, and the result was less than expected, so the film never made it past (i didn't let it get past) my hometown, Washington, DC. But the plan this time around was different: do as many things as possible by myself & do them as well as I can, ignore Hollywood & distributors & film festival tastes, focus on creating a movie that both I & people who shared my tastes will enjoy, take as much time as needed, and if the finished film turned out to be good - then self-distribute, take the film as far & wide as possible. One of the main sources of inspiration for the new, non-indiewood, approach to filmmaking & distro was inspired by a local punk band: Fugazi, & its ultra DIY record label: Dischord. I followed Fugazi in the news and through local shows/concerts as much as possible since I discovered them around '92. Their method of making exactly the kind of art they wanted to make, making that art through means available to them, and self-distributing that art, offering their customers a good deal AND most importantly using their position & work to assist valuable humanitarian efforts seemed like, and still seems like, an excellent way to live & work as an artist. So, w/ the DIY approach firmly in place I wrote, produced, directed & edited a mostly self-financed (through $s earned at my dayjob at a used bookstore) feature comedy called Date Number One. Date Number One & the reaction it received at its DC premiere (a four walled event/a venue rental ) far exceeded my expectations. Thus I decided to go ahead with my self-distribution plans, my beyond DC self-distribution plans.

I had contacted the Pioneer Theater through indieWIRE's indieLOOP I believe a couple of months prior to completing Date Number One in May of this year. A NYC filmmaker who had worked with Pioneer told me very good things about them, how their operation is very indie & how they do good work - by seeking out very indie films to show & assisting filmmakers by running a no-nonsense but fairly accommodating operation. Since I am not a fan of indiewood or Hollywood B.S., Pioneer seemed like an ideal partner for distro work. Anyway, right after the DC premiere of Date Number One I flew out to Seattle to test out my ability to put on screenings on the other side of the country. Learned some very valuable lessons in Seattle (chiefly, finish the film as early as possible prior to the screening dates & promote, promote, promote the screenings) & the quality of the film was re-affirmed by Seattle audience members, specially one ex-Washingtonian named Tom Kipp. While Seattle and the following screenings in DC were happening, I would send occasional updates on the project to Pioneer. They wanted to see the movie to see if they wanted to book it for a screening. After producing & recovering from 9 screenings in about 8 weeks, I finally sent a Date Number One screener to Pioneer earlier this month.

Pioneer was my first choice for a NYC screening venue because it is a relatively simple operation (as far as I could tell), meaning the key decision makers will be accessible & thus it would be an easy entity to work with, & because they were showing the kind of films that I would show if I ran an indie theater. In my perhaps way off the mark impression, Pioneer is to current real indie & interesting film what CBGB's may have been to punk rock at a certain early, crucial point in the history of that art form. As I look at Pioneer's calendar today, I see that they have upcoming screenings of LOL and Jumping Off Bridges happening this year. Those two are two very indie films that I know about from a group blog that I created, Indie Features 06, and when I learned a lot about those two films and a lot of other IF06 films I contemplated attempting to set up screenings for those movies in DC (i did follow through w/two of the films, but due to time & resource availability, am holding off on producing more screenings of work by other filmmakers until Date Number One distro is done). The point being, I am in agreement w/ a lot of the programming choices that I've seen Pioneer make. So I was thrilled when Pioneer's programmer Ray Privett contacted me a couple of days ago & told me that he would like to screen my movie.

DIY distribution & specially doing a screening in NYC is a task that comes with a set of unique challenges and opportunities, as far as I can tell at this early point of promoting my NYC screening. Pioneer's approach to screening my movie is pretty simple & fair: they'll do one screening, will share the box office with me, and if the screening sells out, they may add additional screenings. So far, so good. I think in order to sell out a screening for a 100 seat venue at least several thousand of the target audience needs to know about the screening. Which means a lot of promotional work, to be done on a low budget, which is the budget at my disposal. NYC offers a challenge - there are all kinds of movies for New Yorkers to see/much competition, and an opportunity - the city is passionate about film (and all other arts for that matter, but I call it the "traditional homeland" of indie film, since it is the birthplace of indie film as most of us know it, the place that witnessed the birth & development of indie careers of John Cassavetes, Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch & Spike Lee, among other luminaries of the field) and a LOT of indie film bloggers & a LOT of indieWIRE readers live in New York. Plus I have been dreaming for a while about visiting & hanging out in NYC, meeting people I know thus far only through the internet, & seeing some "important to me" sites - such as the Pioneer, and the hundreds of other sites important to the current & historical US indie film narrative.

The positive psychological connection that has been made in me to the epic & deeply valuable city of New York by getting the upcoming August 31, 9 PM screening of Date Number One at Pioneer Theater is possibly of immense use to my development as a filmmaker/artist/individual. It is too early to tell, as I am high off the rush of doing things that need to get done NOW in order to make the upcoming screening a success. So, as far as I can tell, there is no way the screening will be a spiritual failure. But I am working to make the screening also a material success, for there are many people who have worked hard to bring events to the current point, many people I do not want to disappoint, people whose work I want to honor & celebrate because they have sacrificed & shared valuable (or at least highly entertaining - here I am thinking of the DC punk rock icon John Stabb in a ninja suit) aspects of themselves through my silly no-budget movie about several first dates.

So my view from the inside of the process of getting & promoting a NYC screening of an indie film is one that contains: a lot of hard work, a lot of gratitude, a fair amount of warranted or unwarranted confidence, and a dose of sheer exhilaration over what is still possible for one or few artists in an often very expensive field of work seemingly ruled by supergigantic, deep pocketed corporations that pump out mediocre, soul killing art & entertainment on a daily basis. It is also a view that offers a clear sight of the beautiful process of 100% independent (from Hollywood & the like), ultra low budget motion picture production & distribution - a freaky and positive occurrence, a thing that defies ordinary reason, and a thing that offers one of the most valuable & rare gifts that can be found on this planet: HOPE.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Date Number One screening listed at Pioneer's website!

It looks beautiful. Letters in various bright colors on a black background, quotes from Michael "Cocaine Angel" Tully, Jerry "Hollywood Is Talking" Brewington, Jon "Scumrock" Moritsugu & Chuck "The Chutry Experiment" Tryon, and a description of the flick. Go here and scroll down until you see DATE NUMBER ONE at the August 31 slot.

The BUY TICKETS link should be active in a few days.

Thanks Pioneer!

- Sujewa

Less War, More Date Number One

Ananda (Subodh Samudre) & Missy (Jewel Greenberg) from Date Number One.
photo copyright 2006 sujewa ekanayake/wild diner films

I just discovered a new site, thanks to filmmaker Agnes Varnum (she's hip to new useful teknological stuff - also introduced me to Flikr), called Upcoming.org. Looks like its a tool to help plan & promote outings. The link above takes you to the Date Number One NYC premiere notice/upcoming.org page for it, which is happening on 8/31 @ 9 PM at the mighty Pioneer "Independent Film Without Excuses" Theater. Thanks Agnes!

- Sujewa

Monday, July 24, 2006

Date Number One NEW YORK PREMIERE Thu Aug 31, 9 PM at Pioneer Theater!

DATE NUMBER ONE
http://www.wilddiner.com/
a comedy about several first dates
a movie by sujewa ekanayake

Thursday, August 31, 9 PM
The Two Boots Pioneer Theater
http://www.twoboots.com/pioneer/
155 East 3rd Street
(between Avenues A and B, closer to A)
New York, New York
212-591-0434
ticket prices:
$9 adults, $6.50 members

:: link for advance ticket purchase will be available soon ::

Director will attend the screening.

"The film is about as charming as they come...presents a world in which cultures don't clash, they mesh. It's refreshing to see characters who all appear to have a natural optimism, as opposed to the typical indie-film predilection for bitterness and cruelty. "
- Michael Tully, Rotterdam & SXSW film festivals selected filmmaker
http://blogs.indiewire.com/tully/archives/010529.html

"I found the characters and the premise sexy, sexy, sexy."
Jerry Brewington, Hollywood Is Talking blog, on Story 2 of Date Number One
http://hollywoodistalking.com/Blog/508/"Date+Number+One"+Review.html

"FIVE really entertaining, fully realized romantic interludes...a shamefully rare achievement"
- Tom Kipp, Seattle audience member, former film reviewer for Seattle alternative weekly
The Stranger
http://diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/2006/05/interview-with-seattle-audience-member.html

"Heartfelt...poignant...I loved it!"
- Jon Moritsugu, award winning filmmaker

"Date Number One is quite funny...twentysomethings and occasional thirtysomethings looking for romance recall Richard Linklater's philosopher slackers and Jim Jarmusch's minimalist attention to conversation...also a subtle, thoughtful film...might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city...depicts a comfortably multi-ethnic community...I'd happily recommend it."
- Chuck Tryon, media professor & blogger, The Chutry Experiment blog
http://chutry.wordherders.net/archives/005873.html

Film's Description:
"Date Number One" is a comedy about several first dates. This 115 minute movie is made up of 5 different stories: Story 1: Just Another Ninja Searching For Love, about a ninja who goes on a blind date (ninja is played by John Stabb Schroeder from the DC punk band G.I.), Story 2: A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, Story 3: Washington "City Of Love" DC/Start Over, about a writer who tries to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 4: Air Quotes Woman, about a woman who always uses air quotes, and her search for a new boyfriend, Story 5: The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a little bit of French in an unusual way.

*

Featuring Hot DC Indie Film Stars John Stabb Schroeder, Julia Stemper, Jennifer Blakemore, Shervin Boloorian, Dele Williams, Steve Lee, Kelly Ham, Christine D. Lee, Fritz Flad, Subodh Samudre, Jewel Greenberg

*

Not Rated * 115 Minutes * yummy

website: http://www.wilddiner.com/
blog: http://www.diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/

Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

* see you there *

Got a couple of characters for the next flick

Date Number One distribution project is just getting started (9 screenings so far, DVD v1 coming around 9/1 - will be available through wilddiner.com's STORE, $12, & lots more screenings coming starting in September) but I am already thinking about the script for the next flick.

Unlike in the past I won't give too much away until the flick is made, but this much I can tell right now: the next feature will be shot in early '07, John Stabb Schroeder (ninja from Story 1 of DNO) & Jennifer Blakemore (Sunshine in Story 2 of DNO) will reprise their roles (in the case of John he will play the ninja's twin brother, a bartender, seen in one scene in DNO, Jennifer will play the same character - Sunshine). Making decisions on the plot & story right now, collecting notes for characters & scenes. This next feature will also be an ultra low budget, DIY, self-distributed flick.

But for the rest of this year & until the next flick is ready to play at some point hopefully around the middle of next year, my main film related activity will be Date Number One distribution & the required promotions. Committing to making another movie is exciting, even if there is a LOT of work ahead. Making a new feature w/in the 1st half of the year & spending the rest of the year distributing it might be a good pattern to get into.

- Sujewa

Sunday, July 23, 2006

a bunch of Mutual Appreciation screenings coming up

In about a month or so, 8/22 & 23 it looks like. Get the info. here.

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks II is very funny, best Kevin Smith movie so far

Just saw Clerks II. Me & the rest of the audience at the packed theater in Silver Spring, MD (!sharktown! there is a huge shark on top of the Discovery Channel building right now, Shark Week promo) enjoyed the movie a lot. There are 3 kinds of Kevin Smith movies: the comedies, the drama (Chasing Amy), and the one I was not interested in seeing (Jersey Girl). Of the comedies, Clerks II is the best, and the original Clerks comes in at a close second. Cinematography in Clerks II was the best, if I recall correctly, out of all the Smith flicks. Tonally, this movie feels right. There is more sadness in this one than in the original Clerks. There is also one of the wildest climax (end of Act II?) scenes ever in this movie, involving confession of important secrets, the police, the fire fighters, a donkey and a half naked man in leather. Whereas his peers (of sorts) Jarmusch, Hartley, & Linklater staked their claims to a certain kind of storytelling & kept getting it right more than half the time film after film, Smith offered up a promising combination in Clerks and then did not return to improve on his debut until this current film, Clerks II. Congrats to Smith & the rest of the team. Go check out the flick for yourself, lemme know what you thought.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dischord promises a whole lot of new DC punk in the 2nd half of '06

From their News page:

" 6.29.06

So .... we always say that we release records along with the ebb and flow of our community here in Washington, DC. Well this idea will be well illustrated after a year of relative calm with a VERY active release schedule planned for the second half of 2006. IN 2005 and 2006 the DC punk scene has taken a turn back to the underground and we are now beginning to see the fruits of this period of introspection with forthcoming albums from Channels, Soccer Team, The Evens, Joe Lally, French Toast, The Aquarium and possibly Antelope. "

Read the rest of the update here.

Dischord Records is an awesome punk label (home of Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, etc.) and a source of inspiration for D.I.Y. artists everywhere.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lance Weiler's awesome hybrid (DIY theatrical + DVD release w/ partner co.) approach to distributing Head Trauma

Head Trauma gets to play in theaters & also gets into stores nationwide on DVD while Lance retains all the important distribution rights to the flick.

Here's the initial Indie Features 06 post that introduced the HT DVD distribution topic.

Here's a portion of Lance's comment re: a question about how he is getting his DVD into stores nationwide while doing DIY distribution of the film:

" I'm doing a hybrid model. The theatrical is DIY and the DVD release is in conjunction with a small label. After running my own label I wanted to find a partner that I could do the release with. Last time I spent 2 much time on management. So this time I struck a deal with a small label that helps me reach retail and rental BUT allows me to hold all rights. Plus I was able to create an amazing deal - I leveraged the theatrical release to help get me the best terms possible. I carved away all digital rights, VOD, Theatrical, even the rights to sell DVD's over my sites and I get the DVD's for a little over cost and can sell them myself."

Read the rest of the answer here, in the Comments section.

Here's the website for Head Trauma.

Newcomer DIY filmmakers such as myself can learn some valuable DIY distro kung fu skillz from experienced DIY pros such as Lance. Lance is writing a book that addresses the topic of DIY distribution, I will be getting a copy of it when it comes out next year.

- Sujewa

iLOOP Film Projects group for Date Number One

There is yet another place on the web to promote your film, and this one is connected to a website w/ a rapidly increasing membership: indieLOOP. iLOOP has a Groups choice called Film Projects, so far 5 projects are a part of this group. iLOOP now has over 2500 members, and I find it more relevant to me than MySpace (vast majority of the iLOOP members are involved w/ indie film, as far as I can tell, & iLOOP does not have any underage teen scandals associated w/ it, yet? :) at this point. I created an iLOOP group called Date Number One to promote my movie. Posted an update on the DNO distribution project there.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Saw "No More Tears Sister" last night

Saw the PBS re-broadcast of the Canadian made doc No More Tears Sister last night. Sister is excellent. It tells the story of Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, a young Sri Lankan Tamil professor of anatomy, mother & human rights activist who was most likely killed by the LTTE/Tamil Tigers because of her non-violent, peace & justice demanding work. The doc is a good, relatively brief introduction to the violence that has been rocking Sri Lanka since the early 1950's, the volume of which grew massively after July 1983 or Black July when 1000-3000 (by most accounts) Tamils were killed by Sinhala mobs while the then government & police stood by & watched & in some cases aided in the killings & other violence against Tamils.

At present the LTTE runs a military dictatorship in some of the Tamil populated areas in the north of Sri Lanka and there are frequent clashes between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government and its allied paramilitary groups. As it was pointed out in No More Tears Sister, the people who are suffering the most in this protracted war are poor Tamils. There is however armed resistance to the LTTE from w/ in Tamil society, a breakaway faction of the LTTE called the Karuna group are fighting the LTTE, most likely with assistance from the Sri Lankan government.

Sri Lanka is a nation that is in desperate need of peace. It is heartwarming to hear & see accounts of peace & human rights activists who do the impossible by calling on all combatants to value the lives of ordinary individuals & working to take care of the least able & powerless in a nation suffering from ethnic violence & terrorism. As No More Tears Sister points out, impossible & evil situations can produce extraordinary & good individuals, thus there is always hope.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Handmade Fassbinder t-shirts by Jordan Mattos

That's right, there's a person out there who draws images from & inspired by Fassbinder flicks & flicks by several other filmmakers on t-shirts & sells them at $150 a pop. That person is Jordan Mattos, a filmmaker who works for IndiePix. Jordan's t-shirt samples can be found at his site. I think this is a cool little hobby. Possibly a good way to raise $s for a project, special handmade t-shirts. Chloe Sevigny is a fan of the shirts. If you feel like getting one of those special t-shirts, you can order one throught the site.

- Sujewa

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ed Burns has a new movie!? :: The Groomsmen

Either I haven't been reading my blogs very carefully or Ed Burns' new flick's distro company has not sent any press material to the blogs I read. Anyways, the good news is Burns has a new flick called The Groomsmen, playing now in NYC & LA, according to the flick's website. Burns' Sidewalks of New York saved my life when I was shooting Date Number One in '04. Sidewalks' DVD extras had a segment where Burns talks about shooting the flick like a doc or editing it like a doc (quick shooting, jump cuts, etc.) and that approach helped me save the shooting of Story 2 in Date Number One. So, as a thank you, & since he's always made pretty decent movies (not as experimental as Jarmusch & Hartley, not as funky as Linklater, but solid stuff, & more enjoyable than Kevin Smith's work, to compare Burns with some of his peers) I am going to check out The Groomsmen as soon as I can. Maybe it'll play in DC, if not I'll check it out on DVD. Good luck with this one Ed.

- Sujewa
ps: I just saw Burns on Travis Smiley, and I think Burns thinks that Sidewalks of New York was not a success. I thought it was an excellent flick. Then again I do not care about the box office, so maybe he was speaking strictly about box office success.

DNO looking at NYC

DNO in NYC, it's gonna be awesome! Date Number One, the ultra indie DIY self-distro movie of mine playing in New York City, the traditional homeland of indie film, will be magical. First stop to check: the Pioneer theater, the CBGB of new indie films. Pioneer should have received the DNO screener today. So, at some point this month, hopefully, I'll know if I will be screening DNO at Pioneer or not. And that's the latest from Date Number One land. Maxin' & relaxin' & getting ready for the early August DVD v1 release, preparing it, & getting ready for Fall screenings & some festival play. Working on the slow transformation of self into a smooth operatin' DNO distribution machine. Also waiting for some new reviews. Details coming very soon on various juicy DNO distro projects.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Introduce us to your favorite painters & paintings.

There's a PBS (i think) show on French painters right now.

Other, older, forms of art, & the people who made them, can be inspirational & useful for filmmakers I think.

I've learned a lot from indie rock (some aesthetic stuff, lots of bidness stuff), maybe I can learn stuff from painting too.

So in July & August I am going to blog about painters & I would like you to comment & tell us about your favorite painters & other interesting stuff about painting.

Painting is thousands of years old. Filmmaking is a little over 100 years old. US Indie filmmaking as we know it is perhaps a little over 50 years old (w/ the beginning somewhere around the time when the Cassavetes generation got its inspiration/started work). Us new indie filmmakers - the digital/web/DIY generation, can probably learn a lot by taking a look at/getting to know, painting & other older art forms.

I'll start w/ Edward Hopper. Here's page w/ a lot of info on him. His most famous painting is probably nighthawk at the Diner. There's the 50's icons version of that painting, w/ Monroe & Dean, that a lot of people have seen. Wim Wenders has used imagery inspired by Nighthawks in I think in The End of Violence. Jarmusch's Down By Law has some moments that look like they came out of a Hopper painting. I think Hopper is a favorite of a lot of cinematographers.

Your turn, tell us about your favorite painters & paintings.

- Sujewa

Friday, July 14, 2006

Actor Eclipz at Hollywood Is Talking blog

The latest effort to assist the filmmaking scene from the fine folks at Hollywood Is Talking blog is a project called Actor Eclipz. The Eclipz are 1-minute clips of aspiring actors performing a piece from a play, film, book or original work for 1: our enjoyment and 2: to get work!

Here's a link to the post about this new feature: http://hollywoodistalking.com/Blog/ and here's a direct link to the page: http://hollywoodistalking.com/acting/.

Now go discover some hot new talent!

- Sujewa

IFILM wants more trailers & video from real indie films

Hey Real Indie Filmmakers,

Mike Everleth from IFILM asked me a couple of days ago to spread the word about their indie section: IFILM's Indie Film page http://www.ifilm.com/indiefilms. Mike said that while IFILM gets a lot of video material from the bigger distributors, they do not at the moment get a lot of video material from smaller, real indie, DIY, and self-distributed projects. So go check out their page & submit your trailers & clips to them. Could result in a higher profile for your movie. One thing I've learned from DIY distribution is that we can never have too much publicity for our small-promotional-budget projects. IFILM & other real indie friendly web sites can help us a lot.
As soon as I take care of some overdue work that should have been done like 6 months ago, I am going to cut a trailer for Date Number One & send it off to IFILM & other websites that promote indie films through clips & trailers. I should be able to get the trailer done this month, in time to help promote September & beyond screenings & the DVD.

- Sujewa

Takoma Park screening, Date Number One screening #9!, went well

Just got home from showing Date Number One at Takoma Park, MD. Highlights: awesome venue, Sangha does Fair Trade business w/ artisans from around the world, very cool place to play. Pretty decent turn out, everyone seemed to enjoy the movie. An audience member named Roland laughed a lot, almost at every funny situation. Dele William's (one of the stars in Story 2) sister & a cousin showed up to the screening, enjoyed the movie, asked some interesting questions about the film after the screening.

Takoma Park has a film festival coming up later this year, perhaps I'll submit DNO, maybe I can sell some DVDs at the event or because of the exposure from the event, if the film gets in.

I guess I should submit the film to at least a few festivals (even though I am not all that excited about the festival route, see previous post), mainly because quite a few important-to-the-project people expect me to do so, they think it will be good for the movie in the long run. So I will submit to a few fests, starting w/ Cucaloris (sp?) in NC. I think their deadline is Sat, better get on the submission thang.

Had some banana ice cream in Takoma Park tonight. Made some new friends. Takoma Park is a lovely MD town, check it out if you haven't yet.

Next up for Date Number One: the DVD v1, should be ready for sale in early August ($12), lots of screenings coming up in September, and I guess some festival submissions. A handful of new reviews should be coming up on the web soon, will link to them when I see them. Lots of exciting stuff ahead, details coming soon.

I love screening the film to audiences, specially ones who really dig the movie. Thanks Takoma Park, see you soon.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Indie Filmmaker Questions the Value of Indie Film Festivals to Real Indie/DIY Film Projects

Of course the generally accepted and probably overwhelmingly true answer is: yes, indie film festivals are very valuable and if your film gets into one & plays, it will be a useful thing in selling the film to a distributor or to the audience. But there is always a but, and that's probably why I have not yet submitted my new indie feature Date Number One to a single indie film festival and probably will not do so in the future. Read on.

The problems with the festival route:

1. The Psychological Factor or dude, rejection is tough.
When starting off on a new epic endeavor such as distributing a feature film you need all the feel good energy you can get. Getting rejected by a festival or festivals will probably affect how you see the film and probably yourself, and not in a good way. So I think it is useful to avoid getting rejected by a film organization early on in the distribution process. Maybe avoiding that option forever is a good thing.

2. The Right to Judge or who gave these cats the role of selecting some films as more worthy of audience & press attention than others?
I think there are only two groups of people who are essential for the existence of film as an activity: the filmmakers and the audience. Outside of those two groups we have agents, press, studios, financiers, critics & all manner of often supportive but sometimes obstructionist groups who make money off of & derive their power from filmmakers & audiences. I think film festivals can fall into the "useful to filmmakers & audiences" area or "not very useful to filmmakers & audience" area. Either way, in the past film festivals have launched films into the public consciousness. But what about the films that those same fests rejected? Is it possible I, as an audience member, may have really liked one of those films? I am not sure if I am comfortable with relatively few people making career building or destroying and audience taste forming decisions in an area of creative activity where being different from Hollywood (or not dictated by taste of a few individuals who have one eye firmly fixed on the box office) is the primary reason for the existence of the said area of activity. Or, to put it more simply (I hope :), being a fan of independent film and being an independent filmmaker is a major personal value commitment that may not be compatible with finding the taste making decisions of film festival programmers valuable or useful. Or, I personally do not care much if a given film did well at festivals or got into a or any festivals or not. What I do care about is do I like it? Is it good for me? And the only way I can find that out is by seeing it for myself (and talking to people whose taste I trust & share, so there may be some exceptions to all film festival decisions being questionable).

3. Film festival recommendations have let me down
I rented a movie a couple of weeks ago (I think it was called Steal This Movie or Rent This Movie or something like that, w/ John Cho (sp?), about a filmmaker lying his way into a festival) based on the fact that the movie looked like a movie that I would enjoy (judging by DVD cover info) & the fact that two film festivals selected the movie. The movie turned out to be horrible. So, obviously a film is not good just because it got into a festival. And the reverse is true also, a film is not bad just because it did not get into a festival.

4. With blogs around, the press that can be generated through festivals is not the only press I can get
I blog. Well, I make, show & sell movies - that's the main creative activity, I blog for fun. Blogging puts you in touch with other bloggers. Some of these other bloggers, in my case, are film reviewers, filmmakers & distributors. They knew for months that I was making a movie because I would talk about the project on my blog. When the film got done they wanted to see it. I mailed them DVDs & some of them wrote reviews on their blogs. I got my press or quotes from those reviews. And each time I do a screening I get more press from local media. So I don't really need festivals for press.

5. I am not looking for a distributor
I self-distribute, so I do not need film festivals as an avenue for getting the attention of distributors.

6. Film festivals don't pay
I covered this topic in a Filmmaking For The Poor post a few months back. The basic complaint here is that money is generated by film festivals through screenings but a part of that money does not go directly to the filmmaker's wallets (there are often good reasons for this I've been told - such as film festivals are expensive to put on). I have done 8 screenings so far w/ Date Number One and each screening brought in some money. Not profit but some money to help manage the production of screenings & to help manage the overall cost/debts of the project, including the cost of this early distribution phase. If those 8 screenings were film festival screenings where I made zero dollars, I probably would not be able to do the 9th screening tonight.

7. Indie rockers don't wait around for festival approval
They make the music, rehearse the live shows, get gigs, play, sell CDs & generally get the show on the road on their own terms/as they can/when & where they can. My kind of film distribution is similar to indie/DIY music distribution or is at least modeled on it, so it may be exempt from the festival route, or it/the film may do well w/ out any film festival exposure.

The DIY alternative to the festival route:

1. Get blogs to review your movie.
2. Submit your film to screening venues, get shows. (I find the idea of getting rejected by screening venues more acceptable. Why is that? Probably because there is money involved.
I guess the chance of making at least a little bit of money makes the potential screening more real/useful/valuable to me.)
3. Do press. (fliers, e-mail, ads. I spent a few hours this afternoon in Takoma Park putting out fliers & meeting people, inviting them to tomorrow's show - it was a very pleasant experience)
4. Show the movie, do the Q & A thing, entertain, learn & make some cash hopefully.
5. Continue on w/ more shows, repeat steps 2 - 4.

[By the way, my stance towards film festivals is very unique and there are probably some deep reasons that I do not even know myself as to why, so think very carefully before you tear up your festival strategy. I am just sharing my current thoughts about how I am not 100% (or even 40%) comfortable with the festival route and I am sharing alternatives for getting your film out to the press & the audience. What you do with this info is entirely your responsibility.
Good luck.]

So, as a DIY filmmaker who made an ultra-low budget movie, and as a self-distributor, I do not find submitting to indie film festivals appealing or useful at this point. There could be exceptions (like if a friend is programming a fest and I do not have to formally submit my movie/they've seen it & are inviting the flick w/ out me having to pay & fill out forms & if I get a share of the revenue generated from the screening of my movie at the fest). That's where things stand right now. I like the fact that indie film festivals exist (good opportunity for audiences to see movies that may not play in their local theaters). But I do not think I will be participating in them as a filmmaker. We'll see how things unfold, there may be some exceptions. Will have the final answer on this item re: Date Number One in a year or so.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Date Number One screening, Thu July 13, 8:30 PM, Sangha, Takoma Park, MD

DATE NUMBER ONE
http://www.wilddiner.com/
a comedy about several first dates
a movie by sujewa ekanayake

"The film is about as charming as they come...presents a world in which cultures don't clash, they mesh. It's refreshing to see characters who all appear to have a natural optimism, as opposed to the typical indie-film predilection for bitterness and cruelty. "
- Michael Tully, Rotterdam & SXSW film festivals selected filmmaker
http://blogs.indiewire.com/tully/archives/010529.html

"I found the characters and the premise sexy, sexy, sexy."
Jerry Brewington, Hollywood Is Talking blog, on Story 2 of Date Number One
http://hollywoodistalking.com/Blog/508/

Thursday July 13, 8:30 PM, $5
SANGHA
7014 Westmoreland Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912

301.891.3214
website: http://www.sangha.ws/
directions: http://www.sangha.ws/VisitingSangha.html

Director & some of the stars will attend the screening.

"FIVE really entertaining, fully realized romantic interludes...a shamefully rare achievement"
- Tom Kipp, Seattle audience member, former film reviewer for Seattle alternative weekly
The Stranger
http://diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/2006/05/interview-with-seattle-audience-member.html

"Heartfelt...poignant...I loved it!"
- Jon Moritsugu, award winning filmmaker

"Date Number One is quite funny...twentysomethings and occasional thirtysomethings looking for romance recall Richard Linklater's philosopher slackers and Jim Jarmusch's minimalist attention to conversation...also a subtle, thoughtful film...might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city...depicts a comfortably multi-ethnic community...I'd happily recommend it."
- Chuck Tryon, media professor & blogger, The Chutry Experiment blog
http://chutry.wordherders.net/archives/005873.html

Film's Description:"Date Number One" is a comedy about several first dates. This 115 minute movie is made up of 5 different stories: Story 1: Just Another Ninja Searching For Love, about a ninja who goes on a blind date (ninja is played by John Stabb Schroder from the DC punk band G.I.), Story 2: A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, Story 3: Washington "City Of Love" DC/Start Over, about a writer who tries to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 4: Air Quotes Woman, about a woman who always uses air quotes, and her search for a new boyfriend, Story 5: The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a little bit of French in an unusual way.
*
Featuring Hot DC Indie Film Stars John Stabb Schroeder, Julia Stemper, Jennifer Blakemore, Shervin Boloorian, Dele Williams, Steve Lee, Kelly Ham, Christine D. Lee, Fritz Flad, Subodh Samudre, Jewel Greenberg
*
Not Rated * 115 Minutes * yummy
website: http://www.wilddiner.com/
blog: http://www.diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/
Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

* see you there *

Monday, July 10, 2006

Chris Hansen's wild ride to DC to show Messiah

And by wild I mean lots of driving & doing the show/making some new fans & lots more driving back to a hotel room in the early, early AM. Chris came down from Virginia Beach to Kensington, MD to show his excellent movie The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah on Thu 7/6. He wrote about the experience at his blog, check it out here. Thanks a lot for coming down to K-town Chris! That was some fine Summer '06 DIY film distro/screening action. Very cool.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Former Navy SEAL & Iranian-American filmmaker Cyrus Kar sues Rumsfeld

This week filmmaker Cyrus Kar sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld & others over a two month long imprisonment in Iraq.

Here are some details from the AOL article (man, AOL's got quite a few interesting articles today):

" Kar was taken into custody in May 2005 after he visited Iraq to make a documentary film about Cyrus the Great, the Persian king who wrote the world's first human rights charter. Potential bomb parts were found in a taxi in which Kar was riding.

He was released July 10 after his family sued, accusing the federal government of violating his civil rights and holding him after the FBI cleared him of suspicion. He is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, according to news reports. "

Read the entire article here.

- Sujewa

India not cool w/ PDA, reaaallly not cool w/ gay people being alive

From an AOL article about an Indian royal family disowning a prince for being gay:

" Homosexuality is banned in India and punishable by up to 10 years in jail, but gay activists are trying to lift the veil of secrecy over the community in a country where public hugging or kissing even among heterosexuals invites angry stares, lewd comments and even beatings."

Read the whole article here.

Probably a rich cinematic vein waiting to be created there: movies (they would have to be indie movies more or less I think) about being gay in India. Time to export the idea of a Queer Cinema movement to India. Time to discover the Indian versions of Greg Araki, Todd Haynes, Christine Vachon, Todd Verow & the like.

Also a Public Display of Affection film movement could be useful there too.

- Sujewa

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fri 7/7 DIY, Indiewood, Hollywood notes: Messiah, Date, Rockers, Pirates

Chris Hansen came all the way down from Texas (by way of Virginia Beach) for a quick visit & screening in Kensington last night. His movie The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah played well to Kensingtonians, Chris had a good time, made some money (enough at least to get his car some gas to get back on the road to his next destination), perhaps he will blog about his screening experience at some point soon. I gave Chris a copy of Date Number One, so perhaps there will be a Chris Hansen review of Date Number One this month.

Date Number One screeners were mailed out to David "GreenCine Daily" Hudson & Amir "Still Lover/Whale" Motlagh this week. So more reviews soon I think. Screening #9 of Date Number One will be happening next Thu, 7/13, at Sangha in Takoma Park. Will have all the details on that screening later today.

Larry Clark's Wassup Rockers opens today in DC (yup, at a Landmark theater, oh well. now that Caveh's Sex Addict is doing pretty well, I guess I'll ease up on my Landmark boycott - and since many indiewood flicks only play in Landmark theaters in this area/until a cool competitor opens up a theater), looking forward to checking it out. A drama about Latin-American skate punks in LA, featuring non-actors, & made by the director of Kids sounds like the most exciting movie playing in DC this weekend.

After seeing American Messiah & hanging out with Chris for a bit last night, me & housemate Allie went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at 12:01 AM this morning. It was the first show of the movie ever at Majestic 20 in nearby Silver Spring, MD. At least 2 screens were sold out for the 12 AM screening - wouldn't mind making a movie that opens with that much anticipation at some point. Dead Man's Chest is good, a nice long ride, I think I liked it better than Pirates 1, some of the sequences felt too long, but all in all a lot of fun - lots of new monsters. I need to get me a Kraken. Wouldn't be surprised if they made more than 3 Pirates movies. Depp's Captain Sparrow can sell a lot of stories I think.

And that's the latest. Have an excellent weekend. More yummy stuff soon.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stranger Than Screenwriting

Jim Jarmusch's movies are unlike any other American movies around. Characters spend a lot of time without doing much or saying much. It would be very strange for a screenwriter other than Jarmusch to write a script that could work as a Jarmusch movie because financiers & producers will probably be very hesitant to support such an unorthodox script. Yet the weirdest of all possible film lawsuits are happening, GreenCine Daily points to this story about a screenwriter accusing Jarmusch of stealing the script to Broken Flowers. Perhaps the legal system will produce the truth.

It would suck if it turns out that Jarmusch did steal the Broken Flowers script. But I guess if that happens I can still be a huge fan of Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train & Night On Earth, since their originality is uncontested. Until proven otherwise, I am going to assume that Broken Flowers is a Jarmusch original. It certainly bears a lot of Jarmusch signs: quirky characters, dry humor, a protagonist who does not speak much, a blend of cultures (Ethiopian neighbor & soundtrack), a thin plot, a road trip, scenes with unpredictable beginings & endings.

Good luck to the truth.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!

Saw "Syriana" (well made, sad) last night but even that was not enough to keep me from getting enthusiastic about independence day. Happy 4th of July everyone, have a lot of (mostly safe) fun! Enjoy the holiday today, we'll get back to making ourselves & the world better tomorrow.

- Sujewa

Monday, July 03, 2006

Head Trauma "a true independent film"

From The Beach Reporter's coverage of Lance Weiler's new feature Head Trauma & its appearance at the LAFF:

" A true independent film, “Head Trauma” is written, directed and produced by Weiler. He is even handling his own press. But this is nothing new for Weiler who also wrote and directed the digital feature “The Last Broadcast,” which just finished a run on HBO and can be seen on IFC. He was also in “development hell” with a pilot that tested well but never got picked up, an inspiration for “Head Trauma.”

“I think in some ways it's very rewarding and there's that creative control,” said Weiler of independent filmmaking. “It's a case of the grass is always greener. You want more resources but you hear when people are working on studio films what they're looking for is more creative freedom. They're looking for the ability to own the negative, own their work. So I think it's always a Catch-22. It's very hard when you have to do all this stuff yourself. You try to maintain the integrity of the film, trying to make sure you are on schedule, trying to make sure you're getting all you can for practically nothing. I think we did that pretty well throughout the movie. I think we got a really high-quality film for what we had to work with.” "

Read the rest of the article here.

Weiler is also theatrically self-distributing the film. It doesn't get any more indie than this.

Read more about Lance's self-distribution plans at this Indie Features 06 entry.

- Sujewa

DATE NUMBER ONE on Vimeo VOD

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

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