Wednesday, February 28, 2007

That quality of life thing


A very close relative of mine just relocated to Sri Lanka because the quality of life there is better for that person. Sri Lanka is of course a place that has had a war type situation for the last 20 years or so. Granted, it is not widespread, mostly limited to the north, but still, how can a place that has a freakin' WAR/armed conflict going on be better than the most productive & one of the wealthiest, most free, and safest countries on the history of this planet; the US of A? I guess it all depends on what you use as your criteria to figure out which place provides a better quality of life. Living in Sri Lanka is certainly far cheaper. A person can live comfortably in Sri Lanka for about $200 a month. That's right, two hundred dollars a month. And if you are from that culture or immersed in that culture and a big fan of it, then there is probably no place better.


Living in a functional, successful place (most of US for example) surrounded by very productive people can have a positive effect on you: can make you more productive, play by the rules/rule of law, etc. On the down side, you may be driven to work way too much in order to maintain a lifestyle that is not completely necessary, in all of its trappings. Although I've never had a problem with that and have chosen quality of life & happiness (being able to make films, watch a lot of films, hang with friends, do stuff to help other people out) over working as much as possible and over making as much money as possible, since about 19 or so, I can see how people can get caught up in the tremendous amount of opportunity to work & earn money, & the constant push to buy shiny new stuff, in the US & then grow tired of the "rat race" & not be able to feel much joy in living & working here.


One - Figure out what you like to do (legal stuff that is :), and work in time every week to do those things - gardening, bowlng, making movies, roadside surgery (that's a Tom Waits reference for all you Waits fans out there :), volunteering, reading, checking out art, whatever that makes you happy.

Two - Don't buy stuff & services unless you absolutely need them. Save yer money. Having a lot of savings will give you more freedom to do the fun things that you like to do & work less. And investing those savings wisely will help you get rich. If you save $3 a day, by the end of the year, you will have saved over $1000! So have one less Starbucks coffee every day & put the $s in yer savings account at the end of the week.

Three - This country (& specially the film industry) is famous for its long work hours and short vacations. Have a limit to the amount of work that you do every day/week/year. Make your rest time as essential as your work time - because it is; unhappy & or unhealthy due to lack of rest people tend not be very productive.

Four - Use other stuff, besides the amount of money you earn/have or the latest gadget that you own, as your primary sources of happiness. They could be obvious things as being glad that you are alive & healthy & observing the beautiful things in this world, the significant other, family & friends, appreciating the hawk in the Kazakhstani flag, that lovely park near your house, whatever, good things that do not cost a lot of money.

Five - Happiness is a cultivated skill. You don't necessary need anything special to happen in order to be happy & content. Even under very difficult circumstances some people can be happy. So try to be happy as a matter of habit, unrelated to things that may or may not happen day by day.

Those are just a few ideas. If you have more, add them to the Comments. Thanks & good luck being happy & productive wherever you are. Actually, being happy is slightly more important than being productive (even though the two things are closely linked for many people), so, good luck with being happy & maintaining a high quality of life wherever you are. Happiness & a high quality of life is definitely possible for many, specially in the "first world", & in much of the rest of the world too - if you focus on the right things.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Academy should add an independent category to the Oscars

Not independent as in Little Miss Sunshine independent, but real independent, produced and distributed outside of Hollywood, like: Mutual Appreciation, The Debut, Jumping Off Bridges, Robot Stories, Head Trauma, Four Eyed Monsters, etc. The Oscars already have a foreign film category - for films made outside of the US & without (i think) Hollywood involvement to any significant degree (i may be wrong on that for certain "foreign" projects, but nevertheless, there is a line that separates domestic films from foreign films - thus the separate category in the Oscars). Certain Indiewood projects like Half Nelson are recognized by the Academy/A.M.P.A.S., but it would be cool if they added a complete new category for real indie/DIY movies - movies that were made completely outside the Hollywood/Indiewood system & are distributed outside that system. Now why would they want to do that you ask? So the Oscars would be more complete in recognizing domestic (US) filmmaking and distribution. And, real indie filmmaking is a talent pool from which Hollywood can draw from for future projects. Being nominated for an Oscar would make a new-to-Hollywood-filmmaking director & his/her Hollywood project perhaps an easier sell to the public and the media. If real indie filmmaking & distribution is recognized & supported by the Oscars, then the awards show & the Academy itself will become more relevant and more reflective of the total filmmaking picture in the US. The existence of the Gotham Awards and the Spirits Awards, and specially the real independent movies that those programs sometimes recognize, shows that there is more to awards show worthy relevant American filmmaking than what Hollywood puts out. Also the thousands of real indie movies that are recognized & celebrated at the hundreds of US indie film festivals each year are an argument in favor of adding an indie category to the Oscars. Because the material certainly exists, and recognizing some of the works at the Oscar stage could be useful to the film industry. Incorporating some of that real indieness would make the Oscars, the Academy and Hollywood itself more exciting and more hopeful. Excitement and hope, along with a great new movie and a fresh voice, can equal a lot of dollars in revenue, and also a lot of dollars worth of publicity and good will.

- Sujewa

breaking news - US ambassador hurt in Sri Lanka

UPDATE 12:18 AM, 2/27/07

According to this post, the US ambassador & the Italian ambassador were "slightly hurt". Read it here.


11:55 PM, 2/26/07

Just heard about this; sounds like the US ambassador to Sri Lanka has been injured by a mortar attack. Here is what's available at Forbes so far:

"COLOMBO (XFN-ASIA) - US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake was wounded in an artillery attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in eastern Sri Lanka, human rights minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who accompanied him, said."

Monday, February 26, 2007

About my '07 feature comedy FILMMAKING FOR THE POOR

GreenCine Daily Mentions Filmmaking For The Poor Movie Project :: Update On Script

Thanks GreenCine Daily!

The script is now going to have multiple stories about the making of low budget movies. I may or may not keep the storyline inspired by the making of Date Number One. Maybe the DNO production & distro stories are better saved for the DNO DVD v2 - for the extras. Either way, FFTP should be rocktasticly entertaining.

The title of my next film is FILMMAKING FOR THE POOR

That's right, I am going to use the name of a blog of mine, Filmmaking For The Poor, as the title of a new feature length comedy-drama about low budget filmmaking. I've been working on several possible scripts for some time now, and this one is the one that I am most excited about, the one that I want to shoot next (I've actually started shooting a little bit of stuff for this movie a couple of days ago). I plan on starting full-on production around May 15 to June 15 of this year. Hopefully the completed film will be available to view this fall (of course my last movie, Date Number One, took over 2 years to finish, so don't be surprised if I am a little off on this project completion time estimate :). Hopefully FFTP will be my Living In Oblivion, Day For Night, Irma Vep, etc., etc., insert name of great movie about movie making here, etc. :) The film will be shot on digital video, on an ultra-low budget, with unknown (by Hollywood & Indiewood standards) actors, and will be self-distributed. The film will be a partially (& entertainingly) fictionalized account of the making & distribution of Date Number One, with other stuff from my filmmaking "career" thrown in at appropriate places. FILMMAKING FOR THE POOR: A Tale of Low Budget Movie Making Glory. FILMMAKING FOR THE POOR: Sex, Coffee & Digital Video! That's all for now, will update as things get done. Thanks!

- Sujewa

Run Cody & This Is My Home at Busboys and Poets, WDC, March 10, 10 PM

Go enjoy excellent food and drink and see 2 great short movies to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. RUN CODY (30 MIN.), directed by Amy Flannery is a fiction piece in which the hero is a victim of Hurricane Katrina. THIS IS MY HOME (25 MIN.), produced by Advancement Project is a documentary about people in New Orleans trying to reclaim their homes post Katrina.

WHEN:March 10, 10 p.m. (doors open at 9 p.m.)
WHERE:Busboys and Poets (seating capacity -- 120; first come first serve)
2021 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
It costs $3 to attend the screening.

All the proceeds will be donated to a reputable charity to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. Larger donations are welcome.


Thirteen-year-old Cody escaped hurricane Katrina, but can he survive life in Washington DC with his drunken father? A little man with big aspirations, Cody plots to sail away from his troublesome world with the woman of his desires. Always just beyond his grasp, Cody never lets go of his dreams. ( -- Run Cody was written/produced/directed by Amy Flannery, with Director of photography Mel Henry. It was shot in Washington DC with local actors.

“This Is My Home” is a documentary about the fight for public housing in New Orleans. Most of the city’s public housing withstood the hurricane with little or no damage, yet thousands of families are still shut out of their homes and remain displaced across the country. “This Is My Home” is a tribute to the perseverance of the displaced residents of New Orleans, and it is a call to action for the public, politicians, and all justice-minded people to support their right to return home.--produced by Advancement Project, a democracy and justice action group working with communities seeking to build a fair and just multi-racial democracy in America.

The movies will be followed by a Q and A with Amy Flannery and Anita Sinha from Advancement Project.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

note on new post presentation format

an upcoming screening events post for Date Number One & an ad post for the DNO DVD (which is for the moment a post about the coming 3/15 availability of the DVD) will precede any new posts for a given day. so even if u see familiar looking posts at the top of the page for several days, that does not mean new posts have not been made, just scroll down a couple of posts to make sure. thanks a lot.

- sujewa

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Turning your festival experience into cash

Alright, so you make an indie film. Maybe, like me, you are self-distributing thus you do not care about some distrib exec watching yer film at the fest & picking it up & possibly making you rich (well, at least a tiny, tiny bit more than before) & the movie famous (at least a little). So, on that front you can ignore fests & go on with your DIY screenings. BUT, there are many, many, many, many, many festivals. And festivals are a gathering place for film enthusiasts and the press (also hot, intelligent members of the gender you like to play with who think indie filmmakers are sexy?). So, participating in a festival maybe fun (i have not been attracted enough to festivals to try to participate in them thus far with Date Number One, but i have done a few group screenings in the past with other movies, & those were fun) and you may get a cool critic at a big local paper writing a nice review about your little film out of the deal. From what I can tell most indie film fests, at this point, do not share a percentage of their ticket sales with the filmmakers - the people who have created the reason for festivals to exist. Which to me sounds very absurd, but that seems to be the current state of things. Maybe that will change, or can be changed, in the future. But in the meantime, there may be some benefits to participating in fests. BUT it may cost you some to a lot of money (submission fees, travel fees if fests can't pay it, other travel related costs maybe - food, etc., loss of work time & pay from the day job, etc.), so what are some things that you may be able to do in order to try to make some money out of the festival experience. Here are some ideas that I just thought up, feel free to submit your own:

1. Merchandise: make all kinds of cool stuff related to your film to sell at the fest. T-shirts, buttons, books, all manner of clothing, lunch boxes, and whatever makes sense for your movie.
This, after all, is how George Lucas got rich (through merchandise, not selling them at indie fests though, as far as I know :).

2. DVDs - if the fest is cool with you selling & signing DVDs, that is another way to make some $s.

3. Posters - this would fall under merch, but these you have to make anyway, might as well make a couple hundred extra in case some peeps want to buy them at the fest.

4. movie soundtrack CDs - again, more merch.

5. Set up a DIY screening to follow the fest screening. Right after the fest screening is over (not like the same night, maybe a week or more later), set up a DIY screening. Unlike at the fest, you get to keep all or some of the ticket sales $s from this. And another chance to sell merch. Maybe having played the fest will help lower your publicity costs.

6. Use the fest play & trip to the fest as a scouting trip for future biz opportunities: visit the local indie theaters, say hello to the programmers, tell them that your awesome flick is playing in the local fest & that maybe later they might want to take a look at the movie for a possible booking. visit the local indie record, DVD & other relevant retail folks, get yourself set up for future business dealings with them. same with local press.

7. After the fest, promote the movie through local media & advertise the DVD. Perhaps the fest generated some press that can be used in the promotion, or the fact that the film was selected to the fest may be enough. If locals heard about the film through the fest but missed it, perhaps this will be an opportunity for them to check out the film on DVD/for you to make some cash.

8. I wonder if you can get small business or corporate sponsors for your fest appearance. Hmmm. Like maybe they'll get to advertise on yer site, blog, film promo material like posters & flyers, your clothing or whatever in exchange for them paying you some money. Maybe complicated, but maybe worth looking into.

9. Great fest coverage at your blog: may drive up your number of visitors, and that may help with any affiliate programs & advertising revenue stuff that you may have going on at your blog.
Check out a bunch of films, talk to people at the fest - filmmakers & audiences, load up some photos & video & do the DIY journalist thing.

So I guess the possibly indirect ways to make some money from the fest experiences boil down to: 1. merchandise, 2. getting to know future business partners/collaborators (of course you should follow up later and get the movie into the venues & get sales), 3. post-fest screenings maybe, 4. perhaps some $s through reporting on the fest, and 5. possibly sponsorship/advertising.

Indie filmmaking is time consuming & thus can be expensive, and distribution, at any level, is both time consuming & expensive, so, being on the lookout for cash generating opportunities is a very good idea.

If you've got some ideas to add to this list, post 'em in Comments. Thanks!

- Sujewa

Friday, February 23, 2007

Is Saudi Arabia beheading people with 15 year sentences, with the help of possibly unfair trials?

This news story from Sri Lanka indicates that Saudi Arabia maybe sword-happy when it comes to capital punishment. Apparently a Sri Lankan who was sentenced to 15 years in jail was beheaded in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps Saudi Arabia is a place that needs a regime change - or at least an overhaul of their capital punishment system. I wonder what other evil stuff is happening in Saudi Arabia. Time to start looking.

- Sujewa

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Film by a filmmaker from Maryland gets reviewed in New York Times

Mike Tully now lives in Brooklyn but he is from Maryland (or at least a long time MD resident) and he often visits here. Here is the New York Times review of his movie Cocaine Angel, now playing at the Pioneer Theater in Manhattan.

- Sujewa

Interview with The Loft Cinema's Jeff Yanc

Lance Weiler talks with Jeff Yanc, program director and the film booker for the indie theater The Loft Cinema in Tucson, Arizona. Lots of helpful tips for self-distributing filmmakers, specially on screening your film at Loft Cinema.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thinking outside Hollywood & Indiewood time frame for DIY success

What is the Hollywood & Indiewood time frame for the initial most significant period of distribution of a film & making money back from the project? I'd say usually 12 - 24 months. Within that time a film will have its theatrical wide release (if Hollywood) or have its premiere at one of the famous film festivals (if Indiewood, and now some Hollywood films too) and, if Indiewood, may go on to some level of theatrical distribution (most Hollywood theatrical goes far wider), or will go to DVD and other markets (both Hollywood & Indiewood stuff). All that happens within a 12 -24 month period, as far as I can tell, for most Hollywood & Indiewood projects with a theatrical & DVD distribution component. And through all that the Hollywood or Indiewood companies that own the films may make a lot of money, and may make the film and its director and perhaps some if its actors famous. And all that work would have been accomplished by spending a lot of money (hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars) and having dozens of people work on the marketing & distribution of the project. So that is success by working within the Hollywood/Indiewood time frame.

What about fame & wealth through DIY filmmaking & distribution? Usually, on DIY indie projects the filmmaker is also the distributor and can often be the sole worker engaged in getting the movie out to the audience. The bright side of this is that less money (less than for a Hollywood or Indiewood project) needs to be made in order for the project to be profitable. But due to lack of a large amount of capital to widely market & distribute the film within a 12 - 24 month period, the successful DIY films have a different time frame for the completion of the initial most significant distribution phase of the project.

Let's take a look at three DIY indie films: The Last Broadcast, The Debut, & Funny Ha Ha. Each film can be considered a success due to the following reasons: Lance Weiler's film The Last Broadcast reportedly has earned over 4 million dollars as of 2006, Gene Cajayon's The Debut reportedly grossed $1.8 million through 20 months of theatrical self-distribution (also is a project that spent 11 years between conception in 1992 and being available on DVD in 2003), and Funny Ha Ha made its director Andrew Bujalski relatively well known among film critics & festivals which most likely led to his second film Mutual Appreciation getting significant film festival and critical attention and receiving (I believe) comparatively wider theatrical self-distribution (Mutual is still being shown theatrically, and is currently available on DVD). Time frame wise all three projects worked outside of the 12 - 24 month Hollywood/Indiewood time frame identified at the top of this post, in order to achieve the successes mentioned above. The Last Broadcast was first made available to audiences in 1998. Both The Debut and Funny Ha Ha spent over 2-3 years each getting through festivals and theatrical self-distribution.

So what's the bottom line? Don't worry too much about how long it takes for you to make your DIY film famous (at least in the indie world) and for the film to earn a significant amount of money (let's say over $100,000). Do the work at your own pace, in an affordable & manageable fashion. If your film is good (receives a positive response from the target audience), as long as you continually work on distributing the film, it should eventually be seen by a large number of people and it should eventually earn a significant amount of money. There is no rush. Hollywood or Indiewod can't fire you because you did not achieve significant success in 12 - 24 months because you are a DIY filmmaker & you own your movie. You have the rest of your life to show & sell your movie because you are a DIY filmmaker and thus are able to operate outside of Hollywood time.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mike Tully's COCAINE ANGEL opens for a 1 week run tomorrow (Wed 2/21) at PIONEER THEATER, NYC!!!

Go here to buy tix for tomorrow's screening.

Pioneer's website with info. on the other 6 upcoming screenings of the film (scroll down 'till you see COCAINE ANGEL).

Here's the Cocaine Angel website.

About the movie:

"The flip side of the sunshine state. COCAINE ANGEL is caked with legitimate, unforgettable grime, one that makes similar Hollywood efforts seem as fake as an orange juice commercial."

"Another American low-budget highlight, first-time director Michael Tully's convincingly grimy Cocaine Angel goes a long way toward rescuing the addiction drama from junkie stereotypes and self-help cliches, thanks in no small part to star/screenwriter Damian Lahey, whose shambling presence is well matched by his gift for free-ranging monologues.”

"Most impressive about the film is its conclusion, which hits just the right note of optimism; Scott may be doomed, but the world he's living in turns out to have a little bit of beauty in it after all.”



With unflinching realism and dark humor, COCAINE ANGEL captures a tragic week in the life of a weary young drug addict who is clinging to the remnants of his once hopeful existence amidst the stink, the sweat, and unforgiving heat of Jacksonville, Florida.


Jem Cohen wins independent spirit award: clip at youtube

lotsa interesting things in this clip. including tarantino, cohen & a little story about getting the camera confiscated by the government. check it out.

- sujewa

get yer peace, love & understanding here

actually right here. a youtube video to warm up yer winter heart. over 27,000 views. go!

- sujewa

Rob Nilsson plays movies about love

Received an interesting screening announcement from filmmaker Rob Nilsson today. Here it is:


I am inaugurating a series of screenings at the Edwin Johnson Screening Room here at 1418 5th. St., Berkeley, home offices of Citizen Cinema, our new film institute/production company. The newly completed screening room, designed and built by Charlie Wilson of Sonic Zen Records, also located in the building, is named in honor of Edwin Johnson who was a major force in all of the Tenderloin yGroup films from CHALK to the 9 @ Night series.

We will begin with a 12 week series on the subject of love. Capitalized or not, in or out of italics, it is everyone’s sacred cow. Without love there would be no human race. Without an interest in sex the human race would be over in 40 years. Without eroticism, Art would end up desiccated and dead. Without friendship and comraderie we might live in isolation chambers viewing porn, which could happen anyway, because pornography has a fascination linked in some ways to religious mysticism.

Love is full of contradictions. The highest pilgrim and the lowest scoundrel both use “love” as a sales tool for their World Views. No one can speak out against Love without being seen as a crank or a crackpot. And yet Christianity, the so called Religion of Love, sponsors inquisitions, pogroms and terrible tortures in the name of God. Contradictions and paradoxes. When we recognize them, we’re finally talking about something real in the world.

We’ll show films, have some popcorn, a glass or two, and discuss afterward. Nothing formal but conversation where we try to do a little more than the usual polite patter. I’m hoping we can let our hair down a little and speak from the heart. As some of you already know Citizen Cinema is planning to produce a 10 film series on Love and I’m hoping this will fuel the flames.

Our inaugural film will be LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972) by Bernardo Bertolucci and featuring Marlon Brando. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a necessary part of your film education. If you have, it’s probably been awhile. Either way, this is a chance to air your views.

LAST TANGO IN PARIS will show on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 7:00 PM. We’re asking for a $10 donation to help fund our soon to be launched Citizen Cinema workshop program. You can also donate $100 for the complete 12 film series if you’re feeling flush. However, if you’re not in the dough these days, come anyway. There’s little enough real conversation on the Arts these days, and I want this to be a freewheeling exchange between true believers, fellow travelers, and sun burnt souls. RSVP if possible at (510)527-7217 or Seating is limited."

Go check it out if you are in San Francisco, it sounds like a good event.

- Sujewa

Monday, February 19, 2007

Coppola: The Indie Years?

I don't mean Sofia, I mean the other famous filmmaker in the Coppola family: Francis Ford. Sure I loved his big Hollywood movies like The Godfather before I discovered indie films, but Hollywood's broad spell has not been so powerful after that. So FF Coppola was not a director I thought about much in the last 14 years or so. But his new self financed (from his day job?/side job? in the wine biz - in classic real indie style/making yer movies with money from yer day job :) Youth Without Youth sounds very interesting. As is the general real indie direction that he is heading with his career. Read all about it here. Maybe he'll self-distribute YWY - David Lynch style or possibly even new Star Wars or Passion of the Christ style - for total indie freedom. Either way, looking forward to the flick. I've read & liked some books by YWY author Mircea Eliade. YWY is a great title & a great name for a band. I bet there already is, or if not, soon will be, some indie band with that name. And now here is a question for film geeks & Eliade/religion geeks: By voluntarily participating in the ritual of totally indie filmmaking, is Coppola also participating in the cinematic version of the eternal return? Is YWY an attempt at a monumental psychological & spiritual break from Hollywood & a return to a more sacred work time by Coppola? I hope so. Discuss.

- Sujewa

TV torture trouble

Very interesting article in the New Yorker about various reactions, including a couple of different military reactions, to the use of torture by the "good guys" in Fox's show "24". Read it here. Thanks GreenCine Daily and CineFile Video for the link.

And of course, it goes without saying, when in doubt, regardless of what a TV show may or may not imply, don't torture! Torture is: generally illegal, unconstitutional, a war crime, useless & counter productive under all circumstances. Many experts will tell you the same, more in the article. Even if some "bright" legal scholars & attorneys play with the exact meaning of the word torture in order to allow you to carry it out or if certain circumstances will allow you to get away with it temporarily, torture is wrong. If you do it you will most likely have to pay for it one day; victims, their families, and most countries have long memories when it comes to these things.

- Sujewa

Latest Todd Verow film news

Digital video filmmaking pioneer Todd Verow has a new short premiering at Berlinale and he has shot a new feature called Between Something and Nothing. Very productive that Mr. Verow. Find out more about all his projects at Bangor Films.

Friday, February 16, 2007

next movie kind of like Manhattan

of course by the time it is done, it should not bear much resemblance to the very early models that i keep in mind while i am writing the script, even before the film is shot; but my next feature will be kind of like Woody Allen's Manhattan. of course the city will be DC, not NYC. it'll be in color & in digital video, not black & white & in 35mm film. the lead character will be nothing like a Woody Allen lead character. it will be a comedy/romantic-comedy/comedy-drama like Manhattan. if i am very lucky i will end up with some great music as Allen did with Manhattan, i doubt mine will be classical though. maybe only i will be able to see the similarities between my next movie & Manhattan, but, as long as it turns out halfway decent, the whole thing will be a fine & worthy undertaking. it helps me to have some models for the film as i am making it. my '06 movie Date Number One is, in some ultimately minor ways, similar to certain Jim Jarmusch movies (specially my favorite Mystery Train - with the multiple interconnected stories, etc.), & the next movie - the so far Untitled 07 Project will, maybe in some ways that are only important, recognizable, & useful to me, be like Manhattan. while we are on the subject, check out this post re: Manhattan.

today i sketched out a poster design for the new movie, kind of based on the Manhattan poster (see the Manhattan poster through link above).

- sujewa

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Microinvesting in DIY/ultra-low/"no" budget films

My newest indie filmmaking related past time is trying to help fellow low/"no" budget filmmakers make their second or third or whaterver, post-first & good, "no" budget feature. And by "no" budget I mean under $10K ($3K to $5K budget would be best, it is doable, Swanberg & Dance Party, USA & Kelley Baker & others have done it in the past). Often it isn't the exact amount of money that makes a big difference in an ultra-low budget project, it is the fact that someone other than the filmmaker believes enough in the filmmaker or the project to give any money to the project. I have been supported at very crucial times by small investments in my most recent project Date Number One. So I would like to return the favor, help another filmmaker or two this year.

I offered $500 (to be handed over in May, after taxes & current Date Number One debt & other related expenses of mine are well under control) towards the next feature of a filmmaker friend a couple of days ago. If he does not need it, I'll go down the line of people I know who blog & make low budget indie films. In exchange for my investment I would be willing to take an appropriate number of DVDs of the finished film that I can sell through my blog & other websites of mine, plus a producer credit in the film & an appropriate % of profit, if any, whenever it may (or may not :) happen. And if the film does not happen, then I would want the $s paid back, when possible, so that I can try to use it to help another project.

Now that indie films are cheap to make due to DV & can be self-distributed with press help coming from blogs, it is time to do (and more importantly it is possible to do) what we indie film fans can (including with $s) to make sure interesting movies get made by interesting filmmakers, even if we do not have a lot of money to spare. All a part of participating in the new digital & web enabled indie filmmaking scene.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Chelsea Girls review at Bright Lights Film Journal

check it out here. apparently Chelsea Girls was Andy Warhol's first commercial success.

i saw Factory Girl last night. it was interesting. visually it was very interesting - good production design & cinematography.

- sujewa

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the Date Number One ninja wishes you a Happy Valentines Day

Photo Copyright 2006 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

hope you get all the romance you want on Valentines Day. so says the Date Number One ninja.

- sujewa

all about the new doc featuring Melvin Van Peebles

How To Eat Your Watermelon In White Company (And Enjoy It)
a feature documentary on Melvin Van Peebles
directed by Joe Angio
2/15, 9 PM on IFC
and here's info. on the film from a promo e-mail that i received (looking forward to seeing this one):
" Synopsis: Melvin Van Peebles created a new style of African-American filmmaking in 1971, when on a shoestring budget he made Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, a violent action picture about a sex-show stud on the run from the police that below the surface served as a call for revolution in the black community.
But Sweet Sweetback was hardly Van Peebles' first or only bold achievement in the arts. After brief careers piloting cable cars in San Francisco and flying fighter planes in the Korean war, Van Peebles moved to Paris, where he wrote five novels, became a regular contributor to an anarchist journal, and directed his first feature film, The Story of a Three-Day Pass. On the strength of its critical acclaim, Van Peebles returned to America and made his first (and only) major studio film, Watermelon Man, which helped him gather the money and connections it took to make Sweet Sweetback (he also launched a recording career, making literate but streetwise albums that paved the way for rap and hip-hop in the early '70s). After Sweetback's critical and commercial success, Van Peebles staged a series of hit Broadway plays including Don't Play Us Cheap and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. In the 1980s, Van Peebles switched careers and became a successful Wall Street options trader, and watched his son Mario Van Peebles become a star. (Mario would also go on to make a film about his dad's adventures making Sweet Sweetback, entitled Baadasssss!)
How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) is a documentary made with Van Peebles' participation that looks back at his multi-faceted career and the brilliant, uncompromising man behind it all. The film includes interviews with a number of Van Peebles' colleagues and admirers, including Spike Lee, Gil Scott-Heron, Gordon Parks, and Elvis Mitchell. Here is what the reviewers are saying about the film:
THE NEW YORK TIMES "Superb...a fascinating historical document"
VARIETY "Vivid and inventive"
FILM THREAT "A riveting, gripping portrait"
Important links:
The TrailerView the trailer
The IFC Movie Page IFC Movie Page

Monday, February 12, 2007

Girls in the Directors Chair

a filmmaking competition for young women. get all the info. here.

newspapers & other media on google maps

knowing where to play your movie & sell your DVD is not enough, you've gotta have press to let yer audience know that yer film exists. here's the newspapers google map search that i just did. i expect a similar kind of search can be done for television & radio.

for blogs i guess a general search in google for the type of blogs you want will probably be enough, since the physical location & mailing address to the blog is not all that important since blogs can be contacted through e-mail, through addresses that would most likely be listed on the blogs themselves.

movie theaters google map

can serve pretty much the same function as the film festival & video store maps mentioned in the earlier posts: as a tool for indie filmmakers/self-distributors. check out a US movie theaters google map here.

film festivals google map

want to figure out where a certain film festival might be or where all the film festivals in America are? goole maps may help, check this map search out.

quite possibly all the video stores in America

want a complete list of all the video stores in America so you can possibly look into selling your indie movie on DVD to them? then check out google maps to figure out the important info; fast & free. this map is a general search on US video stores. shows, quite possibly, all the places in America that sells videos & DVDs & then some (the search returned over 1 million entries, a too high of a number to be accurate i think, may include businesses that have anything to do with videos & DVDs & no longer active stores, more refined searches will be more useful). i also did some searches for all the Blockbuster & Hollywood video locations, just to see where they are, & the google maps were very helpful with that task. but generally i think google maps will be useful in identifying independent video stores. since the thousands of Blockbuster locations may be accessible from one central office, & the same with Hollywood & other large chains. anyway, explore on indie filmmakers who may be self-distributing a DVD. also, for the touring filmmaker/self-distributor, the map may help with making plans for in-store events at indie video stores.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

punk love

a photo exhibit in dc. here is the introduction to the show, from Govinda Gallery's site: "Govinda Gallery is pleased to present Punk Love, a selection of photographs by Susie J. Horgan that is both an exceptional contribution to the history of punk as well as a true reflection of punk values. After meeting Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye while she was working at the Häagen-Dazs in Georgetown, Horgan began documenting the birth of the early Washington, D.C., punk movement in 1979. D.C. punk was a different kind of punk. It was hardcore. It was explosive. It was revolutionary. Often misread as a music of hate and anger, punk rock was spiritual and, at its core, the message was about basic values--self-respect and justice. In short, it was punk love."

So, self-distribution in 2006: how did it go?


2/6/06 (date started, updated after that as noted):

I definitely think it was a success, an exciting new development in US indie film. 'cause to me it looks like indie filmmakers embraced self-distribution at a greater number than ever before (since the birth of the new wave of US indie with Stranger Than Paradise in '84) AND had a few instances of success (depending on how u define it; but Head Trauma & Mutual Appreciation became well known among & available to their target audiences in '06 through self-distribution, to mention just 2 projects) AND self-distro also spilled over to Lynchland with INLAND EMPIRE. But I want to know what others who care about this topic think; let the discussion begin. I already sent an e-mail to one David Lowery, filmmaker, gentleman & Texas mischief maker, inviting him to weigh in on the '06 self-distro events, perhaps he will (a few of us had a long conversation about self-distribution at David's blog in early '06). So filmmakers & fans, let me know what you think about the subject: was self-distribution a successful move made by indie filmmakers in '06? What is the future of self-distribution? Share.

2/7/07 update:

Several hundred D.I.Y. screenings happened last year, serving several thousand audience members throughout the US. In the coming days I will point to several links where we can figure out where many of the screenings happened & which indie films were self-distributed in '06.

Here are some easy figures & a link (since the info. is in my head): Date Number One was screened in 5 cities (Washington, DC, New York City, Seattle, Kensington, MD, Takoma Park, MD), 12 times all together, and about 500 audience members in total checked out the movie at those screenings.

Links & whatever info. I can gather from the web re: several other '06 self-distributed films coming soon.

Here's a good place to follow up, a dozen or so important links there:

2006: The Year Independent Film Embraced Self-Distribution

Another good doc, w/poster art images for several '06 self-distributed films:

Select self-distributed indie films of 2006

Four long articles at Filmmaker Magazine re: '06 self-distributed indie projects:

Head Trauma

Jumping Off Bridges



A long interview DV Guru (R.I.P.) did with me last year re: Date Number One & self-distribution:

DIY filmmaking: an interview with director Sujewa Ekanayake

MUTUAL APPRECIATION: An '06 Self-Distribution Success Story? I think so. The film is certainly getting played in many places. Check out the list of screenings below, from this web page:

Jan. 25 - 28 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM
Jan. 25 Sara Lawrence Film Society Bronxville, NY
Feb. 2 - Metro Cinema Edmonton, Alberta
Feb. 4 OFFScreen Charlottesville, VA
Feb. 5 Bear Tooth Theatre Anchorage, AK
Feb. 20 School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
TBA Living Room Theatres Portland, OR

Aug. 22 Cinema Village New York City
Aug. 22 Theater N Wilmington, Delaware
Aug. 22 Loft Cinema Tucson, AZ
Aug. 22 Island Theater Martha's Vineyard, MA
Aug. 23 Circle Cinema Tulsa, Oklahoma
Aug. 23 Smith Rafael Film Center San Rafael, CA
Aug. 23 Cinema Paradiso Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Aug. 23 Stage West at the Duncan Theater Lake Worth, FL
Aug. 23 Avalon Washington, DC
Aug. 23-27 Emerging Cinemas at the Market Arcade Buffalo, NY
Aug. 25 Mountains Theater Scranton, Pennsylvania
Aug. 29 Imperial Theater Augusta, GA
Aug. 29 Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Memphis, TN
Aug. 30, Sept. 2 Galaxy Cinema Cary, NC
Aug. 31 Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center (at The University of Nebraska) Lincoln, Nebraska
Sept. 1 - Oct. 12 Cinema Village New York, NY
Sept. 8 - 14 Laemmle Theatres Sunset 5 Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 8 - 14 Playhouse 7 Pasadena, CA
Sept. 13 - 21 Brattle Theatre Boston, MA
Sept. 15 - 21 Laemmle's Music Hall Beverly Hills, CA
Sept. 22 - Oct. 19 Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA
Sept. 29 - Oct. 8 Red Vic Movie House San Francisco, CA
Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 Shattuck Cinemas Berkley, CA
Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 The Lark Larkspur, CA
Oct. 6 - 12 Images Cinema Williamstown, MA
Oct. 13 - 17 Bloor Cinema Toronto, Ontario
Oct. 20 - 26 Belcourt Theatre Nashville, TN
Oct. 20 - 26 Dupont Circle 5 Washington, D.C.
Oct. 21 Cinemarts Frederick, MD
Oct. 27 - Nov. 2 Regal Arbor Cinema Austin, TX
Nov. 3 - 9 Times Cinema Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 10 - 16 Music Box Chicago, IL
Nov. 15 - 18 Cinestudio Hartford, CT
Nov. 18 Crandell Theatre Chatham, NY
Nov. 20 Crossroads Film Society Jackson, MS
Nov. 17 - 23 The Loft Tuscon, AZ
Nov. 22 - 30 Starz Cinemas Denver, CO
Nov. 24 - 30 Ritz Theatres Phildelphia, PA
Nov 30 - 6 Salina Art Center Salina, KS
Dec. 1 - 7 Broadway Centre Cinemas Salt Lake City, UT
Dec. 8 - 9 Wexner Center Columbus, OH
Dec. 8 - 14 Regal Fox Portland, OR
Dec. 8 - 14 Northwest Film Forum Seattle, WA
Dec. 8 - 14 Capitol Theatre Olympia, WA
Dec. 8 - 14 Winnipeg Film Group Winnipeg, Canada
Dec. 13 - 15 Paramount Centre for the Arts Peekskill, NY
Dec. 14 - 21 Palace Chauvel Cinema Sydney, Australia
Dec. 15 - 16 Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque Cleveland, OH
Dec. 27 & 29 Munson Cinema Utica, NY
Dec. 27 & 29 State Theatre State College, PA
Dec. 29 - Jan. 4 Nickelodeon Theatre Columbia, SC
Jan. 5 - 11 International Film Centre & Vancity Vancouver, BC
Jan. 5 - 11 Amherst Cinema Arts Center Amherst, MA
Jan. 11 Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla, CA


2006 Was a Good Self-Distribution Year for Lance Weiler & Head Trauma

Here is Lance, telling the tale in his own words:

" Overall 2006 was an amazing year for me. HEAD TRAUMA had theatrical runs in 17 cities and multiple festival screenings.

Going from a world premiere at the LA Film Festival to a theatrical run 5 weeks later turned out to be a great strategy. I called it a compressed release and it helped me to leverage a ton of press for the movie. Over 100 reviews, lots of interviews and 8 national publications carried feature stories about HT.

It was a blur - being the booker, publicist, traveling to each city was fun and exhausting all at the same time.

The DVD hit stores and rental outlets in late September and the sales have been awesome!

I'm in the process of finalizing some world sales and the movie is being considered for a number of TV and VOD ops in the US.

The year ended on a high note as HT was listed on 8 top 10 lists for 2006 and was named the "best indie feature" of 2006 by Rue Morgue Magazine's staff and readership.

The self distro and the making of HT has opened a ton of doors for me. I'm currently working on two new scripts and have a tv show in development.

In the process of releasing HT, I decided to share some of the experience. I created a social open source project called the Workbook Project to help bridge the gap between tech and filmmaking. One of the projects main goals is to show filmmakers how they can build their own audiences, which in turns helps them to promote and distribute their work. One of the main features of the workbook project is a podcast called "this conference is being recorded." I do a new edition every week and this past week featured episode 11. It was interesting story that sums up the current state of independent film in the US. M dot Strange and his DIY HD animated feature "We Are The Strange" had a world premiere at Sundance and well you gotta listen to believe what happened.

2007 is off to a great start. This weekend I fly to the Berlin International Film Festival, where I'll be speaking about the DIY experience and also staging a special screening of HT. Then I'm off to SXSW and a slew of special screenings where musicians score the movie live in a remix version the movie.

I think 2007 is going to be an amazing year for DIY filmmaking and distro and I can't wait to see what happens.

Here's to DIY07 may it be another amazing year!"

- Lance Weiler
writer / director

more diy distribution '06 goodies coming soon...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Some '07 self-distribution action: Guatemalan Handshake at Northwest Film Forum

That Northwest Film Forum in Seattle is a lovely theater, looking forward to visiting there again. Guatemalan Handshake plays there Feb. 9 - 15. Get the info. here.
& of course: !goMDNewWave! :)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Puccini For Beginners, Smiley Face

Even thought the title of the movie sounds & feels way too much like Italian For Beginners, one of my favorite Dogme 95 movies, I'll still check out Puccini For Beginners (links galore from GreenCine Daily) 'cause I believe director Maria Maggenti is from Rockville, MD & the movie sounds interesting. :: I like the story of Greg Araki's career, very inspirational for low budget indie/arty/DIY filmmaking dudes like me, but so far I have not seen a movie of his that I really enjoyed. Perhaps Smiley Face (GreenCine Daily again) will be the one, it sounds good so far, looking forward to it.

The CamcorderInfo Blog

The CamcorderInfo Blog may fill the void left in your digital video lovin' heart by the untimely demise of the DV Guru blog. Check it out here.

Date Number One screening on 3/15 :: First of new features to be shot in April/May

DATE NUMBER ONE SCREENING: There is a Date Number One screening coming up on March 15 in Kensington. Get all the info. here. More on the screening coming as the date nears. :: NEW FEATURES: I think I want to shoot a bunch of ultra-low/"no" budget features this year, DV films even lower budgeted than Date Number One, maybe less than $2K per feature. I am working on a few scripts. It will be film as entertaining art, projects with very little regard to most indiewood & Hollywood expectations, but hopefully as interesting & entertaining as the best of them. I am going to look at collaborating with new actors (new to film that is) & non-actors in order to get the movies done in an affordable way. Another goal with the new films is to get them done very fast (Date Number One took way too long to make, but i liked the way it turned out, it will be a model in some ways for the '07 films). It is possible to make high quality movies on a low budget and to make them fast - so that is a goal I will be shooting for with the new films. I hope to shoot my first feature of '07 in April/May. Distribution wise most of this year will be devoted to Date Number One, with some time & resources given to the distribution of the new features as they get done. If I make DNO pretty well known this year, I may have an easier time with getting the '07 features out widely (wide for low/"no" budget DIY films that is) in '08. So that, briefly, is my film work plan for '07. More as things get done. Project # 1 for this week: completing the DNO DVD & getting it ready for sale.

stranger & sadder than fiction: weird astronaut love triangle problem

i was spending the morning in bed thinking up plots & characters for a movie & then i turned on my computer to check the e-mail, saw this story, sounds too fantastic to be true, but there it is, in the news. weirder & more tragic than any fiction i came up with this morning. i thought astronauts were pretty low key & together people, but it is also nice to know that they can be as crazy as the rest of us when it comes to romance, sometimes.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Gadabout Traveling Film Festival

Who are they? From their site: "The Gadabout is a nationally touring film festival that screens a program of 20+ international short films. Independent in every sense, these films share the same willingness to challenge the conventions set for filmmaking. The Gadabout is a distribution avenue for truly indie filmmakers that distrust Hollywood and the commercial film festival circuit. We are NOT a competition, rather a celebration of what is possible in independent film and video." Find out more here, they sound very cool.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

perhaps simpler will be better for the Date Number One DVD cover

now that i've had a day or so to think about the possible Date Number One DVD cover (& the DVD face art), i think i still need to take another pass at it to get the final cover (see the current version of the cover in the post prior to this one). i think simpler will be better. although i am happy with the DVD face art (see a couple of posts prior, the circular graphic), it just needs a few more words & possibly a small photo or drawing added to it. i expect to finish up the design work this coming week, along with the final work on the DVD content - the movie. hopefully by 2/15 the DVD will be available for purchase.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

pretty much the final Date Number One DVD cover design

back cover is on left, front cover on right. this is pretty much the current plan for the upcoming Date Number One DVD's cover. music credits need to be added, but other then that, i think this is the cover (for now/1st run of DVDs, who knows what i will feel like doing in a couple of months :). once i have the DVDs made & ready to be sold, will post more detailed pics of the packaging & other related stuff.

DV Guru closes up shop

The informative digital video related blog DV Guru is closing. Read all about it here. Thanks for all the excellent work Team DV Guru, it was great while it lasted, & best of luck with future projects. This article lists the future plans of each of the writers; looks like they'll be doing some very interesting things & blogging from other places. I enjoyed my 15 mins. of DV Guru fame when Brian Liloia interviewed me last year re: Date Number One & DIY filmmaking. Check out that bit of the DV Guru past here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

and this (most likely) will be what the face of the Date Number One DVD will look like

working...working...working on it. the dvd is coming this month. can't wait :) the face of the dvd may very well look like that, except with more vibrant colors (the title is in red btw, not pink as it appears on my screen right now). should have an awesome sleeve/DVD box cover design soon. of course the inside of the movie is gonna be as yummy as the packaging, many changes have been made to the movie since the '06 screenings. the movie flows, and looks, and sounds a lot better now.

DC record label link of the day: DeSoto Records

check them out here. started & run by some of the folks responsible for Jawbox & other fine indie bands. and while you are there, read about cal robbins & how you can help. here is a little bit about DeSoto from their About Us page: "Deeply rooted in Washington, DC's independent music scene, DeSoto Records was nominally created in 1989 by members of the band Edsel to release their first single. Later that year, Kim Coletta and her bandmates in Jawbox offered to keep the DeSoto name alive by using it for their first EP. Before she knew it, Kim had turned DeSoto into what she now calls a "full-time labor of love." read the rest here. and one last link: cal robbins's parents have set up a blog for him, check it out here, and here's the introduction to cal's medical situation.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

new Date Number One screeners available next week

i know i still owe a dozen or so screeners to various people from last year. those requests will be fulfilled next week. the new version, the final version, of Date Number One will be ready early next week (received the final missing element for the project today, thanks amir!). it might still take until the middle of this month (February) to have the retail DVDs available for sale. but for bloggers who are interested in checking out the movie & possibly writing about it, screeners will be available next week. if you are a blogger who wants to check out the movie, let me know ( be sure to e-mail me the URL to your blog also. thanks!

- sujewa



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