Friday, March 30, 2007

About 30 years later, low budget & highly respected feature Killer of Sheep gets its theatrical run

Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep was shot on weekends in the 1970's for around $10,000, as a grad school thesis project. Now, about 30 years later, the much praised film is receiving a theatrical release. Read all about it at GreenCine Daily.

- Sujewa

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Panel discussion with Araki & Moritsugu!

Read all about it here. Wish I could have been in the audience for that one, two of my secret indie/punk/DIY filmmaking heroes in one place! Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

a pic of Moritsugu that i did some decorations on for an interview i did with him a couple of years back made its way over to the post mentioned above - the b&w pic with the red explosion around his head. fun to see a little side item i created randomly show up at a blog many months later, at a great post :)

read part 2 of the panel discussion notes here.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah has been selected for the Kensington Real Independent Film Festival

Waco, Texas based director Chris Hansen's amusing and well made mockumentary The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah will screen at the Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF) in Kensington, Maryland. KRIFF, both a new film festival and a new kind of a film festival - one that celebrates real independent filmmaking in America and one that will share ticket sales revenue with filmmakers, happens September 6 - 9, 2007. Screening date and time for Messiah are to be determined. Messiah will be one of only 10 fiction feature films that will screen at the festival. KRIFF 2007 is the inaugural version of the film festival.

Messiah is a low budget, actually independent comedy-drama about the misadventures of a character who believes he has been chosen for a special mission by the God of the Christians. The feature was made with the assistance of Baylor University students. The film is a real independent movie since it was created, as far as I can tell, without any assistance from, and outside the control of, Hollywood (the major studios that dominate US film production and distribution) and Indiewood (divisions of Hollywood studios formed for the purpose of creating and distributing low budget movies that are similar in several ways to real independent movies). The only visible connection the film has to the Hollywood film industry is the appearance of actor Tony Hale (best known from Fox's TV show Arrested Development) in a minor role. At the time the film was selected for KRIFF, in late March, 2007, Messiah was being self-distributed. One of the goals of KRIFF is to support and celebrate the self-distribution of high quality real independent films. As such, Messiah's self-distribution status made the movie very attractive as a programming choice for KRIFF. Reviewers, film festival attendees, and other audience members have been enjoying Messiah at screenings since early 2006, and more recently on DVD from CustomFlix. Visit here for more information on the film.

The September '07 visit to Kensington by the film and possibly Hansen will be their second time at the DC suburb. Both the film and the director were in Kensington last year for a much smaller event - a Capital City Microcinema screening at the Kensington Row Bookshop. I look forward to introducing the film, possibly the director, and the at times delightful and at other times annoying regional messiah character played by New York based actor Dustin Olson to many more Kensingtonians at this year's festival.

Sujewa Ekanayake
The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Suggest movies I should invite to my fest

Fest: The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival, September 6 - 9

Aside from the two traditional ways of seeking movies for a film festival: call for entries/submissions & inviting films that I know about, I want to try a 3rd method: opening the floor up to the readers of my blog to nominate/suggest some movies that I should invite/try to get to screen at my fest.

Read the 2 or 3 posts below this one to get a full idea about my fest. KRIFF will be a very good deal for indie filmmakers; they will get 15% of tix sales, assistance with travel/housing/food & a chance to sell their DVDs & other merch. And no submission fee.

Here's what I am looking for:

- Fiction features
- No Hollywood or indiewood movies - no Hollywood or indiewood stars, or money, or control in or over these projects.
(some exceptions maybe made if a Holly/indiewood actor has a tiny part/more of a favor to a home town friend as opposed to a major marketing move by the filmmaker or something like that)
(also, real indie movies that eventually, after a lot of self-distribution perhaps, got a big name distro co. for the DVD or something - as in the case with The Debut - is OK, will have to look at it on a case by case basis (perhaps even theatrical through an established Holly/Indiewood company maybe OK in some cases - here I am thinking about movies like Tarnation), since self-distribution has only taken root in the indie scene in a big way kinda recently, only w/in the last couple of years)
- Low budget movies, "no" budget movies, ultra-low budget movies
- High quality movies (movies should be either very interesting in a positive way or entertaining)
- Comedies or dramas generally. Arty stuff (people talking a lot? :) very good. Other genres OK if there is something really special about the films/something that would appeal to a person who is not normally a fan of a given film's genre.
- Not sure yet if I am going to have docs & shorts in the fest (there is already at least one excellent short festival & one excellent doc festival in the DC area). Maybe. Feel free to suggest some anyway/just in case.
- Films that would provide a good value to a paying audience member. The image can be scratchy & or out of focus sometimes & the sound can be off/weird, but the film as a whole - the story/content/ideas has to have something valuable to offer - good/great entertainment or some very good ideas worth thinking about.
- The films can be made whenever, they do not have to be from just '06 or '05. Most likely I will program stuff made within the last 10 - 20 years. Actually I am open to films made & released at any point in time.

How's that for some loose guidelines? OK, suggest away. Filmmakers can nominate their own films if they really think their films would work for an ultra-indie film festival. Films that have been or are being self-distributed are specially welcome.


- Sujewa

Submission info. and intro to The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF)

Can be found here. Or scroll down two posts below to the 3/23 entry. Thanks.

- Sujewa

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Front page of the KRIFF site up!

Just created the front page for The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival(KRIFF)'s website. Check it out here. Not much there save for the name of the fest & a coming soon message. But it is a start, oh yes, more stuff on the fest at the KRIFF site very, very soon.

- Sujewa

Friday, March 23, 2007

Update on my fest: The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival - KRIFF - September 6 - 9, 2007!

Ladies and gentlemen, The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival - a celebration of ultra-low budget/"no" budget, outside of Hollywood/Indiewood filmmaking excellence - will be happening this fall!

A festival that will give a % of ticket sales from each screening to the filmmaker responsible for the screened film (try saying that 13 times fast :). Plust other goodies to filmmakers. See below for the details.

KRIFF - A Celebration of the Real Indie Film & the Real Indie Filmmaker.

Dates: September 6 Thu - 9 Sun, 2007

Place: Kensington, MD (a town + area/zip code of about 22,000 people who live a short distance away from the screening venue), 15 minutes outside of Washington, DC.

Films will be screened at the Armory Building, a venue that can seat over 250 people.

Line up: still working on it. At this point I am sure that a Jon Moritsugu film will be in the fest (most likely his recent Hi-8 feature, the "experimental" & sweet Scum Rock). I will also be inviting many of the other real indie/DIY filmmmakers that I've been blogging about for the last year or so to participate in the fest. Specially the self-distributing ones.

Submitting films:
Real indie* filmmakers can submit their feature length (around 80 minutes or longer) fiction films (*ultra-low/"no" budget films without hollywood or indiewood stars, made outside of Hollywood or Indiewood money & control, comedies & dramas generally - other genres feel free to take a chance, extra points for self-distributed movies) starting now. Films made in any year are eligible. I expect to have a final line up by May 1. I plan on screening 10-12 movies at this festival. No submission fee. Mail a DVD with contact info. & any press material to:

Sujewa Ekanayake
Wild Diner Films
10408 Montgomery Ave
Kensington, MD 20895

If you want me to return the screener DVDs, include a self-addressed stamped envelop.

Benefits to filmmakers:
1. each filmmaker will receive 15% of money generated from the ticket sales to the screening of their film or a $100 honorarium, whichever is greater,
2. assistance with meeting the travel, housing and food expenses associated with attending the screening of your film (yes, there are lots of details to be worked out on this item, will work it out on a filmmaker by filmmaker basis since each one's needs will be different, the goal is to make it relatively easy for each filmmaker to attend their screening while keeping overall expenses to the fest low/reasonable),
3. relentless Washington, DC area publicity for the film & the filmmaker in '07, leading up to & during the festival
3.5. in addition, filmmakers may sell DVDs of their films & other related merchandise at the festival

Screening Format Info: Films will be screened from beta tapes. With DVD as a back up projection format. Filmmakers will have to provide their films on beta tapes and on DVDs if their films are selected for the fest. Will have more information on this item very soon.

A more formal & detailed announcement, a web site, a blog, a yahoo group & more KRIFF stuff are all coming very soon!

In the meantime, leave a comment or contact me at if there is a question, concern or if you have tips on creating an excellent real indie film festival.

Also get in touch if you would like to assist: volunteer, donate money or goods & services, or if you want to advertise on festival publicity material & websites.


- Sujewa

ps: it's gonna be K-RIFFick! :) (yes, that will be on a retro-50's font sportin' t-shirt, jacket, hat, etc., being sold soon for KRIFF fundraising purposes)


This post re: The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF) Copyright 2007 Sujewa Ekanayake

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Real Indie Film News Blog

Since this blog is going to be used primarily for Date Number One news, I started another blog to write about real indie film news items generated by other filmmakers & projects. Check it out here.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

DNO in NYC '06 flashback - Live from Bagel Zone (around the corner from Pioneer Theater!)

Originally published 8/31/06

Got to NYC. It is a lovely day. Sleepy. 4 hour bus ride from chinatown, dc to chinatown, nyc was not that bad. eating some oatmeal, hard working lap top people are at both sides of me.

we are ready as much as we can be ready for the Date Number One NYC Premiere at Pioneer Theater tonight (9 PM).

had a nice walk from chinatown to east village.

got a nice giant orange poster for the show tonight, it should be up on the theater's door soon.

meeting up w/ sis later to get some yummy sri lankan food.

& then, the show.

will write stuff when neat stuff happens.

see ya at the show if u r coming.

- sujewa

DNO in NYC flashback 2 - NYC Premiere of Date Number One went well :: Tired from an overnight 6 hour Greyhound trip

Originally published 9/1/06

But, I did get to sit next to a model from Ethiopia all the way from NYC to DC, some lively company on the loooong Greyhound trip overnight.

The NYC Premiere of Date Number One last night at Pioneer Theater went very well. I will have a more detailed post about the event this weekend, after I get some real sleep & deal with this cold that is coming on. Don't have the exact tix sales & attendance figures (will have them soon) but it looked like 30 - 40 people attended the screening & perhaps 40 - 50 tickets were sold (advance tix sales, some people who bought tix did not show up).

People laughed at all the right places, did not have any major projection issues (thanks to the excellent Pioneer projectionist whose name I sadly do not recall; Tom? Jim? anyway, you rock).
Story 3 starring Steve Lee & Kelly Ham got the biggest laughs as usual. More on reactions to various stories soon.

Ray the programmer gave a great introduction to the film & the director. All the work put into this screening was worth it for that alone.

Some of my iLOOP & IF06 friends came to the show. New collaboration plans were hatched.

Yeah, it's not just hype, NYC is a fun & exciting place to be. Looking forward to doing more work there.

Also, photos are coming from last night's screening.

time to eat & sleep, talk to you soon

- Sujewa

DNO in NYC '06 flashback 3 - a date number one nyc premiere photo: sujewa & ray, post-show Q & A

originally published in early September 2006

well, not the highest quality pic is it? that's me & the pioneer theater programmer ray doing the post-screening q&a session on thu 8/31, after the Date Number One NYC Premiere.

better photos on the way.

- sujewa

DNO in NYC '06 flashback 4 - Team Date Number One 8/31 NYC Premiere screening/post-show photo from Pioneer's album

originally published 9/12/06

Found this photo in Pioneer Theater's photo album (lots more interesting ones there, go check out the album). Pioneer has not updated their blog in a while, but the photos are relatively fresh. The photo above was taken by Pioneer programmer Ray Privett, following the Date Number One NYC Premiere screening on Thu 8/31/06. That's me in the yellow shirt, w/ an indieLOOP friend on the left, Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker"/"The publicist" Geldin over my left shoulder, and two of my sister's friends on the right side of the pic - my sister is on the far right w/ a tan colored bag on her shoulder. After the Q & A session ended we were hanging out outside the theater for a bit when this photo was taken. Good pic Ray!

- Sujewa

Monday, March 19, 2007

Date Number One & film festivals :: My DIY film festival project

Date Number One & Film Festivals

So far I have avoided submitting Date Number One to film festivals because blogs & DIY screenings have offered more than what festivals may be able to offer the film, for the most part. Reviews of the movie at blogs & additional press generated through DIY screenings & $s generated through DIY screenings have helped to keep the start of the distribution project going along at a steady pace since May '06. Some of my big objections to fests have been that: 1) they are a semi-commercial middle person, and can hinder a DIY project from reaching the paying audience (DIY filmmakers can be lead to believe that the response from a fest equals the true value of their movie, and may be discouraged from dealing with the consumers directly if the fest response is negative), 2) fests require a submission fee, for the most part, w/ no guarantee that anyone will actually watch the movie, let alone program it in to the fest, 3) they do not openly pay the filmmakers (some fests do, on the down low, i've heard). But, on the bright side: fests can generate press for your project, they are a good place to network- find future collaborators, and fest play may help with securing a paying audience for your film. Plus there are 100s of festivals (close to 2500 in the US by some counts), playing many of them may be a good way to get the word out about the existence of a film nation wide for a relatively small amount of money & time spent. So, with regards to Date Number One, once the DVD is available for sale from my website in early April, I will submit the film to festivals. The time & money spent on festivals may be recouped from DVD sales that may result from festival exposure.

My DIY Film Festival Project '07

My ideal film festival would be one that: 1) focuses mostly on real indie films (ultra low budget/ no star/high quality movies, with special attention paid to self-distributing filmmakers), 2) pays for filmmaker's travel & room & perhaps some of the food at fest, gives the filmmakers a % of ticket sales from the screening of their films, pays the filmmakers an honorarium (a small but significant fee - perhaps over $100 per day, more a symbolic but useful gesture of appreciation expressed through money than full on pay for appearing at the fest), 3) gets the films a lot of publicity, a big audience, and 4) delivers some excellent movies to the festival goers, stuff that they most likely would not hear about & thus would not get to see otherwise. Many have said that it would be difficult to have indie film fests that provide all that to filmmakers, specially the % of tix sales. I am going to create a film festival myself & see if they are right. I have the feeling that they are not. So, this fall, there will be a new film festival in America, in the DC area, one that focuses on real indie films & gives a % of tix sales & lots of other goodies to filmmakers. More on this fest in the coming weeks. Oh, and there won't be a submission fee to my fest. A well thought out budget, fund raising, community support (including donations & gov grants), advertisers & sponsors, and ticket sales may be able to pay for all the stuff that I want to provide through the fest to both filmmakers & the audience.

- Sujewa

Austin Chronicle review of Aaron Katz's film Quiet City

I liked Aaron Katz's '06 film Dance Party, USA. So I am looking forward to checking out his new movie Quiet City whenever I get a chance. Have not seen too many reviews of the movie, but here's one at the Austin Chronicle.

- Sujewa

Doug Block, 51 Birch Street, Truly Indie: The Interview

[originally published November 12, 2006]

But First, A Long Introduction: 2006 = Year One of the New Self-Distribution Movement or go on you sexy hard working self-distributin' filmmakers!

I am very happy with how some of my fellow indie filmmakers & would be indie filmmakers & indie film fans are tackling "the distribution problem" this year. 2006 is a record year for self-distribution/partial self-distribution & experimental distribution projects in the US independent film scene (i know 'cause i've been keeping track. this year, more than any other year in history, has seen more high quality ultra-low budget indies/"real indies", fiction & doc features, getting in front of an audience -outside of festivals -due to distribution efforts by the filmmakers. will have an year end report on this phenomenon in late Dec. or early Jan.). A couple of Saturday's ago I went to see Mutual Appreciation in DC & spoke briefly with indie filmmaker & self-distributor Andrew Bujalski. And then last Saturday I screened my film Date Number One in DC & then after all the work was done I went to see Borat. It was interesting being at Borat because the several hundred people there, for the most part, probably did not know - in painful detail - about ALL THE WORK that happened between completion of the film and them seeing it in a comfortable stadium seating containing gigantic screen mall movie theater. Take that amount of work and multiply that by 100 (due to lack of: studio level funding, experience, a track record & contacts, & the resulting power to influence) & add the stress of not having any extra money or not enough money and not enough helpers and not enough sleep and then you might have a good understanding of the kind of work challenge that Bujalski & Doug Block & other self-distributing filmmakers are confronting this year as they take their movies to audiences in various cities. One of this year's specially noteworthy cases of self-distribution is Doug Block's documentary about the mysteries of his parent's marriage: 51 Birch Street, and the service deal route that is now taking the film before theatrical audiences. Block & business partners chose the Landmark Theaters affiliated distributor-for-hire service Truly Indie to assist them in getting their award winning & well reviewed movie out to the theaters. Here is an e-mail interview, conducted within the last couple of weeks, with Mr. Block regarding his bold & apparently very-rewarding-on-certain-levels self-distribution project (and yes, I do bring up the Caveh Zahedi/Sex Addict/Mark Cuban issue from earlier this year, can't really leave that out of a Landmark related indie film post can i?, well, at least not this year :):

Interview with Doug Block regarding distributing 51 Birch Street with Truly Indie's help

Sujewa: Can you explain how Truly Indie works? As far as I understand it is a distributor-for-hire service: a flat fee is paid to Landmark's Truly Indie for getting your film screened at a certain number of theaters & you get to keep the $s earned from ticket sales, right?

Doug: Once you get chosen and agree to go with them you're given a list of Truly Indie cities (about 20), the local Landmark theater it will show in that city, the seat numbers, ticket prices, and an exact fee it will cost for that city down to the dollar. The fee includes a publicist in each city (overseen by Melissa Raddatz, the Landmark Director of Publicity), 2 ads in the local paper of record, and in return you keep 100% of the box office. Most important of all, you keep all other rights to your film.

Sujewa: What made you decide to purchase Truly Indie's services, instead of attempting to book the film with various theaters by yourself (or did you try to do that first?)?

Doug: We didn't want to do all the work ourselves. Truly Indie seemed like a good blend of DIY and going with a traditional distributor. And we were able to raise money from investors to support a theatrical release, our exec producers Priddy Brothers Entertainment. They were very intrigued by the Truly Indie model.

Sujewa: How was the 51 Birch Street opening in NYC? The film certainly received some excellent press coverage. And was Truly Indie helpful in securing that coverage or did you have to do most of the press work?

Doug: The NYC opening was fantastic. Helped greatly, of course, by a Sunday NY Times feature and a rave of raves from A.O. Scott in the Times. We got the Sunday piece ourselves, through a combination of knowing John Anderson from way back and serendipity. He happened to be a juror at the Miami FF where we had our U.S. premiere, so he got to see it early with a full house and my father and his wife doing a Q&A with me. The press has really built on itself, success builds that way, but a good deal of the early press was blogs, which we mostly got ourselves. But Truly Indie helped out a good deal and Melissa Raddatz somehow managed to get A.O. Scott to do the Times review, which was critical. We felt of all the Times critics he would "get" the film.

Sujewa: I was at a Mutual Appreciation Q & A with Andrew Bujalski in DC last night & he said he never expected to become a film distributor but now he finds himself as one. Film distribution certainly comes with a serious amount of challenges. How do you feel about being a distributor (even though you have a very useful partner in Truly Indie)?

Doug: Yes, it's been a very good working relationship with Truly Indie. They're very involved and they welcome our collaboration. A total team effort, which we wouldn't have with a larger distributor probably. But if you go with Truly Indie, or any service deal distributor, or even any small distributor, expect to do a LOT of the work yourself. I've been very lucky to have a great producing partner, Lori Cheatle, who's shared the load with me, and we have fun working together. But distribution, in general, is just a huge amount of work, and the marketing and outreach is never-ending. We worked really hard making the film and it hasn't eased up a bit since we finished.

Sujewa: What, if any, is the down side, as far as you can tell now, about working with Truly Indie?

Doug: Given how well the film was received, both critically and with audiences, it would have been nice to have a distributor that could have kept the momentum going with bigger ads. But that's hardly a downside since we knew that's not what Truly Indie does going in. The whole point of our theatrical was to see if we could at the very least raise the awareness of the film both with the public at large and within the industry. Because it's all about selling the DVDs down the line. And you need to get it on people's radar somehow for the DVD to be in demand. There's a ton of films out there and it's hard to break through the clutter. And I think Truly Indie has definitely helped us accomplish that. So, sorry, can't give you too much down side. Even having to raise the money to pay the fees has been a blessing in disguise. We now have a partnership with the Priddy Brothers that gives us access to greater resources and will carry forward into future projects.

Sujewa: In my experience theatrical screenings/distribution takes a lot of work. Are you working on 51 Birch Street distribution full time these days or are you able to maintain your regular job & also do the work required by distribution?

Doug: Getting your film distributed is like having 3 full-time jobs at the same time, none of which pay. I've managed to stay afloat with occasional freelance work, consulting, some wedding videos (which, yes, I still shoot), and honorariums. But it's been a sucky year income-wise. Hopefully, it'll pay off next year and for years to come. I believe that the laws of compensation aren't necessarily direct. They're circuitous.

Sujewa: Were you ever wary of working with Landmark/Truly Indie because of owner Mark Cuban's strange & counterproductive behavior with the I Am A Sex Addict release earlier this year (Cuban canceled the premiere of Sex Addict in a Landmark Theater a week prior to the event as a protest against Comcast's dealings with one of his businesses, Comcast being the cable VOD partner of IFC Films for Sex Addict, if I recall correctly)?

Doug: No, I like Mark Cuban. What happened with Caveh was unfortunate, but I like that Cuban's bold and thinks outside the box. Everyone knows the traditional distribution model is broken, but he's one of the few trying to do something about it. I like that he has his own blog and answers his own email. I have a lot of respect for what he's done with 2929 and integrating the companies under its umbrella (Truly Indie, HDNet, Magnolia and Landmark Theatres). It may not be visionary but it's very smart, and from what I've seen it works very well. Our emails to the Truly Indie core group often get cc'd to everyone, including Cuban. And I love that he has the attention of the entire industry. When the press release for 51 Birch Street went out, it was covered widely because we were doing the deal with Mark Cuban's Truly Indie, which wouldn't have happened with other distributors, believe me.

Sujewa: If the initial handful of cities respond well to 51 Birch's theatrical, do you & Truly Indie have plans to expand to more cities or is it on to DVD & cable after the currently scheduled theatrical engagements?

Doug: We definitely will be expanding to more cities, both with Truly Indie's help and independently. We've already booked a dozen cities and have more inquiries from theaters and semi-theatrical venues coming all the time. We'll be focusing mainly on calendar houses where the cost to us is pretty much non-existent.

Sujewa: All business/financial & work load concerns aside, does it feel awesome to share the film about your parents with audiences in movie theaters?

Doug: Of course! I became a filmmaker because I loved the experience of seeing movies in theaters with audiences. To be sharing my own work in theaters AND to have it be with a personal film AND have it so spectacularly well received... well, it doesn't get any better.

Thanks Doug!

Go here to find out the latest about 51 Birch Street and upcoming screenings.

11/19 update:
And go here for a few more important points about Truly Indie, at Doug's follow up post to this interview.

- Sujewa

Sunday, March 18, 2007

IMDB page for Date Number One

Not sure if I mentioned this at this blog in a while, or at all, but there is an IMDB page for Date Number One. Check it out here. Just added it to the links on the right.

- Sujewa

Swanberg interview at Workbook Project

Filmmaker & self-distributor Lance Weiler (Head Trauma) interviews filmmaker Joe Swanberg (LOL, Hannah Takes The Stairs) here.

- Sujewa

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Conversation on mumblecore movies at Anthony Kaufman's blog

At this blog entry Kaufman talks about SXSW '07 highlighting a group of indie filmmakers known to some as the mumblecore movement; Bujalski (Mutual Appreciation), Swanberg (LOL, Hannah Takes The Stairs), Duplass bors.(The Puffy Chair), Katz (Dance Party, USA, Quiet City), etc. And I ended up leaving a couple of long comments re: a couple of other commenter's comments about the praise worthiness of the movement. Interesting stuff if u r into real indie (ultra low budget/no star/non-Holly or Indiewood) stuff.

- Sujewa

screenings calendar updated :: DNO DVDs update

just updated the Date Number One screenings page: the "July 12 - 18 in the DC area" run is on the boards now, as they say. when all the details of the run are finalized next week, will post all the info. re: the event at the same page & here at this blog & elsewhere where i post stuff up on the web.

couple more things to do on the editing front this weekend. should be able to order the first batch of retail DVDs on Mon. i think i'll get 100 at first, & order more as i sell them. if you want one, for now, & if you live in the US, send a check or money order for $12 (postage included/paid by me) to:

Sujewa Ekanayake
Wild Diner Films
10408 Montgomery Ave
Kensington, MD 20895

if all goes well you should get your DNO DVD w/ in the first week of April or earlier. make sure to include your mailing address & in case i need to contact you re: the order, e-mail & or phone (optional stuff, but could be useful if there is some confusion with the order). and feel free to drop in a little note in the envelop & say hello, if you feel like it. who knows, we might actually run into each other at some screening or another, and making new indie film friends is always grand.

by early April (or earlier if necessary) i'll have PayPal & credit card processing & international ordering info. & all that other mail order biz jazz figured out & set for selling the DVDs. there might even be a new PO Box address for, no doubt, the deluge of DVD orders that will be coming this way :) will have more on all those developments soon.

also, there may be some extras with this v1 of the DVD. yesterday i figured out that w/ Apple's iDVD, adding extras/bonus material to the DVD may be very easy. so we'll see. but extras or no extras, the entire 2 hour film in all its D.I.Y., real indie, digital video, made with love glory will be available for purchase in a shiny digital video disk with colorful, & some may say luscious, packaging. in less than 14 days!!!


- sujewa

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's gonna be a Date Number One summer in DC

Well, at least a week in July in the DC area. Looks like July 12 - 18 will be the dates for the 1 week long run of Date Number One in the DC area. Will have all the details such as venue, show times, etc. very soon. Maybe if the 1st week goes well, there can be more. Perhaps even a whole summer worth of screenings :) who knows, we shall see.

- Sujewa

Several good things came out of yesterday's screening

1 - the best so far version of the movie, one of the audience members said he did not notice any sound problems. the film is now just a couple of changes away from being on retail DVD.

2 - located a better projector. better as in far cheaper to use than the one that i've been renting.

3 - got the invitation to create a film festival, by two very significant sources of support. it will be small at first, very real indie, and will incorporate some of the things I like to see in other fests: a % of ticket sales $s going to the filmmakers, etc. more on this project once i've completed a formal proposal & a budget in a few weeks. hopefully my fest will have its debut this year.

4 - located a venue for a long run of Date Number One.

5- made some new friends, & got DNO a couple of new fans.

a handful of people showed up to the screening last night. it was raining, could not have helped with the turnout. but very happy that i had to get stuff done yesterday for the screening, which opened up the path to all the good things listed above. can't wait to put on the next Date Number One screening.

- sujewa

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I have a venue for a week long (or longer) run of Date Number One in MD/DC area!

Once all the details are worked out, will announce name of venue, when the week long DC area Date Number One run is happening, early ticketing info., & all that jazz. For now, I'll just say that the venue is large (can seat over 200 people), affordable, is used for performances, and if I can pull this event off well, I will have another very useful tool in my DIY distribution tool box, another option to pursue when art/indie houses are not accessible/too expensive, etc. The venue is a fairly unconventional place to play an indie/art comedy, but, this is indie film/the DIY/up and coming edge of indie film at that, so a little unconventional should not be a big issue for the Date Number One audience. And indie rockers play at all kinds of odd places, so why can't indie film do the same? Anyway, very happy about it. This'll give me the excuse to promote DNO all over the DC area for weeks to come. Most likely I will do the week long run of the flick at this mystery venue in May. More info. very soon. Back to day job work & prepping for the show tonight.

- Sujewa

Screening tonight. Winter slacking over.

From around 11/15 to about,well, today, 3/15, I usually end up taking it easy(er). Holidays & cold weather & all, you know. For the first time in a couple of months, I got up today around 6 AM & promptly got started on film work. Screening tonight. Very exciting. Also made more detailed plans on getting this movie out as wide as possible in the US this year. Hopefully in a couple of days I can set up a week long run for May in DC. Andy Horbal & Lucas in PA are waiting for screeners, new reviews to look forward to. The version of the movie screening tonight at Kensington Row Bookshop is a new version, cuts are tighter, unwanted space between dialogue has been taken out. But this won't be the ultimate version that will end up available on retail DVDs w/ in 10 days or so (definitely before April!!!). Still working on that version.

Re: putting time into making movies vs. distributing movies: I think I am going to try to get each movie I make seen & sold as widely as possible before making another movie. Greg Araki's ultra low budget feature The Living End reportedly was worked theatrically to a 1 million dollar gross, upon initial release. I am going to try to put in that kind of work (meaning, lots of time, maybe a year or two) to getting the initial distribution of each completed film done. That doesn't mean I can't shoot another movie this year, but I just have to wait until Date Number One is well on its way to the realm of the consumers before I put time & resources into completing & distributing the next movie. Thinking about DIY distribution as an essential step in the filmmaking process helps me in coming to terms with the wait that has to happen between shooting movies.

OK, off to wrap things up for tonight's screening. Talk to you kids later tonight or at some point tomorrow.

Oh, Lucas sent his short L'Attente in, received the DVD in the mail yesterday. So that will definitely be screening before DNO tonight.

See post below for all the info. on tonight's screening.


- Sujewa

Monday, March 12, 2007

work in progess? - IndieFilmPedia

At Lucas McNelly's 100 Films blog there is a quite a bit of enthusiasm by a handful of people, yours truly included, about starting a web based independent film encyclopedia - a wikipedia for indie films, if you will. As a very early step in harnessing this energy, the group blog IndieFilmPedia has been set up. Interested people at the 100 Films blog have been invited to start organizing material for the wiki at the IndieFilmPedia. Maybe this will turn out to be something, maybe nothing, maybe a better working tool will be discovered, but, for the moment, here it is. We'll see what Lucas & the 100 Films commenters will want to do, I am certainly all for the project (as time permits).

- Sujewa

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Good long post at The Evening Class blog

It's about the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. Check it out here.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"As something of a companion piece to my Greencine interview with Rory Kennedy regarding her documentary Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, which premiered last night on HBO, I offer up this report of her onstage appearance at San Francisco's Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, with Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror, sponsored by the World Affairs Council. It was an evening made memorable—not only because of the opportunity to speak with Rory and to watch her hard hitting documentary—but because the RMS Queen Mary was gliding underneath the Golden Gate Bridge lit up like a brilliant tiara sailing out to sea. I love San Francisco. Living here is the best of many worlds."

And once more, here is the link to the post.

- Sujewa

Lucas McNelly's short film L'Attente to screen with Date Number One on 3/15

Pittsburgh indie filmmaker & film blogger Lucas McNelly's French New Wave inspired short film L'Attente will open for my feature Date Number One on 3/15 in Kensington, MD. Scroll down for all the info. on the 3/15 screening (place, time, & more info. on DNO, etc.).

- Sujewa

Friday, March 09, 2007

E-mailed Pittsburgh Filmmakers & Chicago Filmmakers re: screening Date Number One

Just e-mailed Pittsburgh Filmmakers & Chicago Filmmakers to see if they want to screen Date Number One at their venues. I like these filmmaking non-profits that exist around the country. When I want to play in a certain city, I look to see if I can work with any such institutions in that city. It would be fun to visit Chicago & Chicago Filmmakers again, the last time I was at both those places was in late '91 - early '92. I have a couple of film fan friends in Pittsburgh, and it would be fun to visit that city for the first time & hang out with people I know, meet new people.
Will see how it goes with Chicago Filmmakers & Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I will definitely play in Chicago & Pittsburgh this year. Of course the venues are not known so far. I also want to play New York City again (for at least a week this time, need that New York Times review), Los Angeles, Seattle again (a week or more this time around), Austin, San Francisco, Philadelphia, DC for the third time (for a week or more), and whatever other cities I can get the film into this year. Perhaps Boston too. And that is the latest on the '07 US theatrical screening work front for the movie.

- Sujewa

Jesse Owens vs. Hitler's Olympics

The book Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics tells a story that is ripe for a Hollywood adaptation. Have not read it yet, but it sounds very interesting.

- Sujewa

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Empowering Aesthetic

Things can be made to look either empowering or intimidating/stand-off-ish/too formal/too solid. Greco-Roman inspired architecture is intimidating (think federal buildings, banks, courts, etc.). Design of DIY album covers, DIY movie posters, some restaurants, lots of websites, can be fun, with some hand drawn elements or other non-slick/non-computer made looking design elements, bright colors, and that look can be both inviting & empowering. Empowering as in: that looks fun, easy to do & maybe fun to do, I want to try it. I guess in some situations you want a combination of the two approaches.

Just some stuff to think about when you are designing posters, DVD packaging, web site for your indie filmmaker non-profit, whatever.

By the way, I am not an expert on design. These are just my amature graphic & packaging designer observations. Stuff that I am thinking about while thinking about the Date Number One DVD packaging.

- Sujewa

Awesome book for sale at work: TRUFFAUT BY TRUFFAUT, $60

Found this great book at work, we are selling it. Here is some info. from the back cover:

"The first fully illustrated,
intimate account of Truffaut's life and work,
with the director himself as the guide.
500 illustrations, including 140 plates
in full color"

The book is about 13" tall and 10" wide. 240 pages. Published in 1987. In near fine condition with a very good dust jacket.

From the inside flap:

"As one of the most influential and beloved film directors of the last twenty-five years, Francois Truffaut was the subject of numerous books and articles. He was also that rarity - a filmmaker who wrote with grace and perception about the work of others. Now, for the first time, a book brings together Truffaut's revealing insights on his own life and work and illustrates them with previously unpublished documents from his own files."


E-mail me at if you want to buy this awesome book. A very good & inspirational read, specially for indie filmmakers who may be fans of the French New Wave & of course Truffaut.
- Sujewa

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: Date Number One in Seattle, 5/19-21 '06 PICS!

Originally published late May, 2006

Sujewa & Jimi, Seattle

photos copyright 2006 sujewa ekanayake/wild diner films

Date Number One, Seattle, 2006 flashback: Update from Seattle (it's awesome over here!)

Originally published 5/19/06

Flew in to Seattle yesterday morning w/ production manager/asstnt. producer extraordinaire Firtz Flad (also actor, he stars in Story # 4 in Date Number One - in the Air Quotes Woman segment), found Northwest Film Forum & my firend Keith's house, got lost for a while (of course, brand new city) but had a productive day. On the fun side this city & area is be-a-u-tiful. The Capital Hill area has a high quotent of indie & other potentially arts interested types walking around, lots of hot/cute/interesting looking women also, and the sun was out yesterday. Everyone at NWFF is supernice. The venue itself is awesome, ceilings like 20 feet tall. The two theaters that I am going to play in look good, comfy looking seats, big screens (for an indie venue). Glad I hooked up w/ NWFF.

It's 10 AM on Fri, the day of the first two Seattle shows (7 PM & 9:30 PM at the smaller theater @ NWFF). I am taping my movie out to DV tapes right now, did some audio work on the movie last night. It is going to play w/ out music (only music that appears in scenes - there are a couple of instances of that in Story 2) as it did in DC. I like the mood created by there being no score music to soften or heighten the feeling created by the images & the spoken words. But it is entirely possible that I will add some music to the movie in the near future. Will have to carefully try things out when I get back to DC/MD.

Oh tay, lots to do. I'll probably have more time later, on Sat & Sun, to attend to all my blogs & e-mails. Talk to everyone then. Will have pics & more detailed updates this weekend & early next week. Off to enjoy Seattle & prep for the shows tonight. Date Number One DIY distro mission is on baby!

- Sujewa

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: DNO in Seattle Team Members Fritz & Allie

who did an excellent job helping me put on the Seattle 5/19 -21 shows. thanks allie & fritz!
this photo taken on sat 5/20 in Seattle

photo copyright 2006 sujewa ekanayake/wild diner films

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: Love Streams, Date Number One, Calvin "K Records" Johnson @ Northwest Film Forum tonight

Originally published 5/19/06

Of course I am excited to be at the Northwest Film Forum tonight 'cause my new feature Date Number One is opening there tonight for a whole weekend worth of shows. On top of that, my excitement has been taken up to 11 'cause John Cassavetes' film Love Streams will be opening tonight. And Calvin Johnson from K Records (and if my memory serves, from Beat Happening & other bands) will be playing music prior to the Love Streams 7 PM show tonight.


See all three attractions listed at the Northwest Film Forum front page.

See ya at the theater if you are in Seattle!

- Sujewa

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: Quote from an audience member

Originally published 5/20/06

Re: Date Number One

" Hilarious, with an amount of laughter that will leave your stomach feeling as if ninjas and Karate experts were kicking at it, but instead they were falling in strange love - and so was I "

- Lisa Wardle, Seattle Audience Member for Date Number One at Northwest Film Forum 5/20/06 Sat

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: Jon Moritsugu is in the theater now watching my movie

Originally published 5/21/06

Supercool underground filmmaker Jon Moritsugu came to watch the 7 PM show of Date Number One tonight in Seattle. Awesome! I am a big fan of Jon's DIY approach to filmmaking & distribution. Perhaps I'll do a mini-interview with him after the show.

- Sujewa

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: From the DNO in Seattle album: Jon Moritsugu & Amy Davis at Northwest Film Forum

On Sun 5/21/06

photo copyright 2006 sujewa ekanayake/wild diner films

DNO Seattle '06 flashback: Moritsugu Hearts "Date Number One"

Originally published 5/22/06

Last night at Northwest Film Forum, after Jon & Amy saw "Date Number One", I asked Jon how he liked it, and he said (and this is how it will be presented in the Date Number One promo material from now on):

"I Loved It!"
- Jon Moritsugu, film director "Scumrock", "Terminal USA", "Mod Fuck Explosion", etc.

Thanks Jon & Amy for coming to the show!!!

I did a brief video interview w/ them at NWFF. I'll post some of the content in text form (maybe video form, but most likely in text form) soon.

Jon & Amy took a ferry from the island that they live in to come to the city to see my movie. Most awesome.

- Sujewa

March 15*: first availability of Date Number One on DVD (*that being the latest & hopefully final deadline for the DVD v1 project)

Alright, it has taken foreeevveerr but we are very close to having Date Number One available for purchase on DVD. I am going to set March 15 as the new deadline for DNO DVD availability. There is a screening of the movie that day in Kensington, so it may all work out very well. Since I barely got started with theatrical in '06, the DVD, for the time being, will be available in a limited basis - mostly through my website & a few local (DC area) retail stores & a couple of web retailers. And the DVD that will be available on 3/15 will be DNO DVD v1 (version 1) - with no extras, for $12. After all of this year's theatrical screenings (i am gonna try to do 100s of theatrical screenings in '07) & perhaps some fest screenings, I will release another version of the DVD - the version 2 - with oodles of extras, in '08. The reason being that I want the theatrical self-distribution story of the movie to be reflected in the DVD extras, and at this point it is way too soon to do that. The '08 DVD will cost a bit more than $12 I think, so those who get it now will get the essential thing - the movie - for a little less $s. Also, post-'07 theatrical, the '08 DVD will be pushed through a lot more retail venues. Anyway, quite a few things to finish up on the DVD, so I will be blogging very little from now until the DVD is ready on 3/15. Check out some of the links on the right in the meantime. Thanks & talk to ya soon!

- Sujewa

Monday, March 05, 2007

If you like the early New Wave aesthetic & sly humor, then check out '06 short L'Attente

L'Attente is a short film directed by Pittsburgh based filmmaker & blogger Lucas McNelly. I am a sucker for the faux-ealy French New Wave look & sound (b&w cinematography, jump cuts, interesting/"bad" audio), and for humor (also anything that has to do with coffee - the first film I made was a short called Fresh Coffee), so I liked L'Attente a lot. It is in French but you can understand the film even if you do not know that language 'cause it is mainly a silent movie/the main action/story does not seem to have much to do with the little dialogue in the movie. Check it out.

- Sujewa

the weird freedom that comes with having done a "no" budget feature OR the next feature may be big budget/big star or no budget/no star...

... & either way, I am cool w/ it. Having fully embraced "no" budget/"no" star production & "no" budget self-distribution, I am strangely indifferent, at the moment, to budgets & stars, in a good way: I would be totally cool with making my next feature for $50, or $5000 or $50K or $50 million (of course the more money we have the more we can pay ourselves). With just some of my friends or the biggest Hollywood stars & best H-wood crew money can buy. Either way I will still be self-distributing - either "no"/ultra-low budget/Date Number One style - 1 theatrical screening & 1 DVD sale at a time, or super high budget (if I can swing it) Passion or new Star Wars flicks or American Haunting style w/ a distributor for hire - 1000s of theaters at a time, w/ nationwide DVD availability. I feel this comfortable indifference to budgets & stars 'cause I know that the essential things that my movie will deliver: the story, the dialogue, the moments, the ideas, the jokes, etc. can be delivered at any budget, and can be delivered on a "no" budget if I must, by a crew of one if need be - myself, using a 1 chip DV cam & my Mac Mini for gear, if need be. This may be one of the benefits of having made an ultra low budget movie & having started the self-distribution of it. You can see what is essential & how it can be achieved more clearly. I know, deep in my bones now, that the budget is not directly related to the quality of the film, but it merely appears so. And that is a very comforting thought. The universe is now clearly a malleable thing, not prohibitively massive and inflexible and indifferent to my needs and abilities; I can get some form of what I want out of it through my efforts.

I am going to try to get the biggest production & initial distribution budget I can get for the next movie. But, after a certain period of looking for money, we are gonna start work with what we got, $s wise, and that will be the budget, and the film & the distribution of it will be made to work on that budget. $150K would be very nice for my next feature's budget. Send it to me if ya got it to spare :)

- Sujewa

ps: the next feature is still going to be Filmmaking For The Poor. shooting at some point in '07.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What's a nice thing I can say about Stranger Than Fiction?

Hmmmm. I can say that it was better than Factotum - in certain ways (although Factotum had a more interesting lead character & actor), I can say that. Other than that I will also say that all the characters are types, not further nuanced creations. Stranger Than Fiction is definitely not for me. I guess some people will like it/have liked it. I am glad I did not make that movie. I guess if I had to make that movie I would do it differently. Man, I should have picked up Chloe In The Afternoon. That movie might not be great either, but at least it may have been a little bit more interesting 'cause it takes place in France. Stranger Than Fiction was a pleasant waste of time for me. Good thing I had some interesting & interested-in-the-flick company, otherwise I would have turned the flick off if I was watching it by myself. I guess now I know what more to avoid in making movies, writing scripts. On the bright side, the film was shot well & the sound was good. There. I do like the people who made the movie; Lindsay Doran, Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhall., etc. They seem like nice people. Better luck next time. Hmmm, that's it.

- Sujewa

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cinequest film fest gets into distribution! New hope for the real indie film world?

Sat 3/3 Update/temporary note of caution:

Possible problem, for some filmmakers, with the Cinequest arrangement: a filmmaker who wants to remain anonymous told me that Cinequest wants long term exclusive rights for DVD distribution & that he heard from a couple of other filmmakers who are currently working with Cinequest that they were not happy with the arrangement. I'll try to figure out this weekend or early next week if Cinequest does require a long term exclusive DVD rights commitment before I permanently add those facts to this post. Some filmmakers may be OK with a long term exclusive DVD arrangement with a new distribution project, while many others may not be.

And now, here is the original post from 3/2:

1 fest down, about 2499 to go :) It's about time that more festivals experimented with ways to make some cash for the filmmakers/tried to use their events to help filmmakers with distribution & revenue. It's a thing that is also in the best interest of the festivals 'cause indie filmmakers who are able to make some money from their movies are likely to make more movies, which will give fests more (& hopefully good) material to choose from for future incarnations of the festivals. Good festivals can't exist without good films. And good films can't get made & filmmaking careers can't be developed if filmmakers do not have ways to sell their work to the audience. Read all about Cinequest's new distribution initiative here at indieWIRE. Go Cinequest! See the Cinequest DVD sales web page here.

Here is a small relevant portion from the indieWIRE article:

"In addition to the festival, Cinequest is touting its new distribution label, which incorporates Intel's Viiv system, Jaman's online community, as well as Netflix Inc.'s DVD audience, and Cinequest Online's established base, into what it calls "a multifaceted fluid system of distribution not previously available to filmmakers and film fans." "

Read the rest of the article here.

I recently read (at IndieFlix's site) that there are 2500 or so film festivals in the US. If many of these get interested in assisting filmmakers with distribution & end up creating new revenue streams for filmmakers, it will be a very good thing for the overall indie film community & its future health, product quality, etc. And all that is very good for film festivals, as I said above.

Now who's going to run with my (& many others no doubt) idea of giving a % of ticket sales $s from fest screenings to the filmmakers who made the movies? Which festivals will do this first (openly, i think this happens on the down-low already, in some cases, maybe)? Not sure, but it is going to happen. The Cinequest thing is a very good step in this direction of festivals thinking about the financial needs of indie filmmakers, indie filmmaking & real indie film distribution.

And one more time, go Cinequest!

- Sujewa

Angry Filmmaker gets tour support from Filmmaker Magazine

Kelley Baker AKA The Angry Filmmaker will be supported in his spring tour by Filmmaker Magazine. Read all about it here. Congrats Kelley! & good luck with the spring tour.

- Sujewa

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Work in progress: adding some new links sections :: Indie Features blog Update

I am adding the following links sections to the blog: Date Number One reviews, On DIY Film (my posts re: the subject of DIY production & self-distribution), Reviews (reviews I've written of indie films), Interviews. Maybe I'll think of a couple more sections. Should take a few days to add all the links to these new sections. Scroll down & check out the right hand side of the blog for the links.



Blogger has put a hold on postings at Indie Features until they can make sure that the blog is not a spam blog. Pretty weird, not sure what that's all about. Get yer act together Blogger, IF is a legit blog, loved by many. Hopefully the blog will be fully operational once more very, very soon.

- Sujewa

Lucas @ 100 Films blog wants to write about your real indie film

Check out all the details here. Sounds like an excellent idea. And here is a bit of the post:

" I've been trying to think of ways to make the no-budget filmmakers who, in my opinion, are an extremely important niche in the indie world, all that more viable to the larger film community. One method I've come up with is using the internet to write about them in much of the same way I'd write about the latest release from Focus Features. This serves two purposes: 1) it provides much needed exposure (even if it is only a little bit) for filmmakers who work very hard with little to no recognition, and 2) it's a critical voice by which they can get a sense of just how their film plays to someone who isn't inclined to dole out empty praise or criticize needlessly[1]. And being a no-budget filmmakers myself, I figure shining as much light on others as possible has to have some benefits, in terms of karma."

And once again, here's the post.

- Sujewa



Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

At DIY Filmmaker Blog's Facebook Page


BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer on Vimeo

Breakthrough Weekend teaser trailer on YouTube

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