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Dear Ms. Cho (comments left at Eugene Hernandez's open letter to NYC re: proposed film permit rules)

Check out iW's Eugene's letter here, and add your thoughts and constructive ideas to the comments. Here are my comments (this is the spelling errors free version :). Ms. Cho is Julianne Cho, Associate Commissioner at NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting (MOFTB).

::

Dear Ms. Cho,

It seems that the proper intent of the new MOFTB rules would be to regulate large budget commercial filmmaking activity. However, the proposed rules, as they stand now, severely restrict ordinary citizen's free speech conducted through the mediums of film, video & photography, & thus would invite legal challenges and lawsuits. If the MOFTB is interested in refining its policies towards big budget (a budget level could be identified in the rules to clarify what big budget is - over $250,000, over a million $s, etc.) filmmaking, the rules can specifically mention that and should specifically mention that amateur & low budget/"no-budget" filmmaking, video makin…

New article on Warhol's films

By Glenn O'Brien at Times Online, check it out here. Here is a sample:

"It’s hard to imagine today, but back then a Warhol film was a glimpse of a new world, a strange, weird, compelling, funny, scary world. Warhol film was for the initiated, and so it was also initiatory.

When I was in college in Washington DC, we once drove miles to an obscure theatre in Maryland to see Bike Boy. After ten minutes it occurred to us that it wasn’t Bike Boy at all; it was a male porno film. Bike Boy was opening the next night. To see Warhol films you had to go out of your way.

Not this summer, though, when, to mark 20 years since the artist’s death, there are ample opportunities to catch Warhol’s films in seasons around the country (see list below)."

Read the whole thing here.

- Sujewa

Making indie shorts & features in LA, dealing with the past & the future - interview with director Amir Motlagh

Amir Motlagh during a screening visit to MD in '05. photo copyright 2005 sujewa ekanayake
Amir Motlagh is the director of the 2007 completed short film Knock.Knock and the upcoming features Whale (in post-production) and Micro (in production). To date Motlagh has completed over half a dozen short films and have screened them at festivals and other events. He is also a musician who just released a new album. In early June I spoke (via the magic of e-mail) with the filmmaker re: his current, previous & future projects, being Iranian-American and a few related matters.

Sujewa: Amir, can you please 1) list all of your previously completed & released films briefly (up to My Break Ups let's say, that's what you just finished the last time I interviewed you, in 2005) and, 2 ) then take some time and introduce us to each of the current or very recently completed films (post-My Break Ups), including Knock. Knock, that you are working on; titles & descriptions, along with …

Picture New York Fri 7/27 1st Ammendment Rally links

Here's one page of photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tozzer/sets/72157601051682283/

95 photos in this Camera Wars set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/i-m-bitter/sets/72157601049199582/

Will post up more links later today.

Go Picture New York!

RELATED

- Public Comments re: the issue (proposed massive restrictions on photography & film in NYC) by Jenny Livingston, Amy Taubin & more, at the Picture New York site.

- Sujewa

How To notes on producing a 1 week long run of a feature, with info. on gear & costs.

the venue ready to go
DVD player, with 2 RCA to XLR cables for audio playback/the speakers
amp
audio cables from the DVD player plugged into the sound board


For many low-budget DIY filmmakers, working with distribution companies, regular (up & running on a regular basis) movie theaters, and even working with festivals for screenings is not always/some times hardly ever, an option. Thus, it is a good idea to know how to produce a week long run of your feature at an alternative venue, and about some of the gear that you will need to use, and the costs of things.
First, theatrical exhibition (or theatrical type exhibition, since in this case we did not use an actual movie theater) will most likely lose you money, even if each screening is sold out. Why? Because in order to get each screening to sell out a lot of work needs to be done (hours = $s), even if by volunteers, plus most likely you will have to advertise, that along with dozens of other minor costs that can add up, will make …

New photo of director/blogger for profile pieces & interviews

I just did a long interview for an upcoming (September) exciting sounding web site owned by an indie film distributor. They wanted a photo of me, so I spent a couple of hours yesterday taking photos of myself. This was the winning shot. Will be used for press requests until I get a better one. Will post the link to the interview when it shows up on the web.
- Sujewa

Rally TODAY (Fri 7/27), 6:30 PM, at Union Square to help save film, video & photography in NYC

Yeah, we should all (film/video makers & photographers, other fans of those mediums, everyone else in the US & world who might one day want to visit New York City & take some photos, shoot some video) work to get the insane proposal to severely restrict ordinary people's ability to practice image making in NYC defeated. Here's all the info. re: the rally today & info. on other methods of protest, plus all the background info. re: the issue, from Picture New York:

" Friday’s First Amendment rally at Union Square

Please join the Filmmaker/Photographer contingent at this Friday’s First Amendment rally at Union Square. Recently proposed regulations seriously threaten the rights of photographers and filmmakers to operate in NYC, and they could go into effect as soon as this August. Other laws already restrict our rights to parade, dance, meet, bike, shout, and assemble.

Join performance artists Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the Rude Mechanical…

August is time for NYC :: The Secret Lives of NYC Indie Film Bloggers Project

This time last year I was focused on showing Date Number One in NYC (the screening at Pioneer in late August '06). That was fun. I had a good time taking a couple of trips to NYC & hanging out there - kind of like a vacation type thing. So, August '07 is rolling around and I am thinking of NYC again. Not ready to show DNO in NYC again - that will have to be in the fall at the earliest - but I've come up with a good excuse to take a trip (or two) & hang out in NYC in August:

The Secret Lives of NYC Indie Film Bloggers Project

Well, the name is extra exciting but in reality I will just be doing some live interviews with some of my favorite NYC based bloggers who write about indie film. I am going to talk to them about topics other than indie film- for the most part.

This idea evolved out of the desire to create an iW blogs page blogger meetup. Producing that event feels like it will be too much work for August '07, so I am going to do this similar - & mor…

Notes from the 7/12 - 18 Date Number One run in Kensington, MD

7/26/07 note:
I should have taken more photos, specially at Q & A segment following the screenings, specially on opening night. Next time. Below are a few photos from the 7/12 - 18 Date Number One run.
All photos Copyright 2007 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films.
Will add a few more notes links to this post later today.


A few friends of Fritz (DNO actor & crew, 4th from left), on closing night of the run - Wed 7/18.
I think this photo, of me at the entrance to the theater space, was taken on Tue 7/16.

That's an image from Story 1. There are people in the theater, in the front rows, even if you can't seem them in this photo :)

A few more audience members from the closing night - Wed 7/18.

More people on closing night.


That's Fritz on L, Stephen J. on R, working the door.


Main entrance to the venue.

The Venue.
Ready for the next show.


Me after the first night's screening.
That's Mike C. & Stephen J. working the door.


DNO poster at town's sign, close up.


Afro-Punk goes to Japan!

Here's a part of an update I received today from the folks behind the movie Afro-Punk:

"AFRO-PUNK Is premiering at FUGI ROCK FESTIVAL on the 28th JULY. Asia's largest rock festival has chosen to make Afro-punk one of only three films screened at the festival this year."

Visit the Afro-Punk website here.

- Sujewa

1st annual iW blogs page blogger meet up in NYC this summer?

So I read all these bloggers every day of the year, and I am always looking for a good excuse to visit NYC, so, what do all the people who are a part of the indieWIRE blogs page think about meeting up for a live event/party/whatever in NYC one night this summer?

Let me know if any or all of you want to do it. It might be fun. And of course we can blog about it :) - with photos!

If at least 10 of the iW bloggers are interested I'll go ahead & buy my Chinatown bus ticket.

Thanks!

7/27 UPDATE: See the post re: The Secret Lives of NYC Indie Film Bloggers.

- Sujewa

Variety article (from June 21) re: indie filmmakers & print press

I somehow missed this article, by Anne Thompson, when it first came out in June. Just read it, interesting.

Article is about indie filmmakers searching for print reviews, also about web film writing vs. print film writing.

My own take on this is that yeah, print press is still very important for film distribution. Not just film reviews, but print articles about movies, movie makers, actors and about a movie (from a production or distribution angle) gets people to notice a movie.

BUT, any positive press from any medium is good/useful for indie film distribution. So far I've gotten print articles, print reviews (well, at least 1 for a previous project that I painfully recall :), and several web reviews, and all have helped in selling tickets.

Also, web press maybe more accessible, easier to get, than print press. And, web press can result in print press.

I think, at this point, both web & print press are important for indie filmmakers and distributors. Each kind of press has its own …

Saudi Arabia getting ready to behead 19 year old foreign maid without fair trial

Get the full story here at the AP article Sri Lanka fights threatned beheading of teen maid in Saudi Arabia over death of infant.

From the article: "Nafeek, who was without legal representation at trial, allegedly confessed to her guilt in the child's death, according to the embassy, but then recanted, saying her confession was obtained under duress. Human rights groups say the boy's death appeared to be an accident."

F**ed up, the whole situation, a dead baby and now a 19 year old about to get her head cut off. Hopefully the beheading can be stopped.

Contact the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC here. If you want to tell them to stop beheading people without a fair trial, or stop beheading people all together - which would be very good. Or at least to stop the beheading of the 19 year old Sri Lankan maid.

:: Embassy of Saudi Arabia contact info:

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Main Number: (202) 342-3800

Through th…

I might be the first, and the second

That is, the first "Sri Lankan-American" or US filmmaker from a Sri Lankan background to make & release/screen a feature length fiction film in America. I screened my feature comedy Wild Diner (an '05 review of the film by Amir Motlagh here, and there's also a Washington Post article & a City Paper review from '99 out there) for a week in DC in mid-'99, followed by several one night only screenings in several venues during the following months.

According to this Wikipedia entry, immigration from Sri Lanka to the US did not happen to any significant degree until the mid-'70's. Even now the number of Sri Lankans/Sri Lankan-Americans in the US is relatively small I think (i am not sure what it is, probably not even half a million, probably not even a quarter of a million). Out of that small group only a few have pursued careers in the arts & entertainment, let alone filmmaking, as far as I know.

Recently I finished a one week run & the 20th…

Cashback sounds good

Check out this review of the new film Cashback at Twitch.

Finally a new movie that I might really want to see. Interesting sounding visual strategy (in a film developed from an 8 minute short) & nude models in a grocery store - what more can you ask for?

Of course not really sure how it actually is, but will be checking it out.

And here's another positive review, from a writer named Ashtyn Evans.

And then I looked at the review quotes at the GreenCine Daily post for the movie; not totally enthusiastic - but I'll be checking out the movie anyway.

Leave a comment if you've seen Cashback & at all liked it.

- Sujewa

ICRC films from the 1920s

The Red Cross has been making movies since the 1920's. Get more info. here.

Here is a paragraph from the document:

" The first four films were produced for the 10th International Conference of the Red Cross, held in Geneva in 1921. Le rapatriement des prisonniers de guerre via Stettin-Narva (The repatriation of prisoners of war via Stettin-Narva) shows how some 40,000 soldiers returning home were transported across the Baltic Sea to Russia and Germany. Les réfugiés russes à Constantinople (Russian refugees in Constantinople) tells of the first relief provided to 170,000 Russian refugees who had landed in Constantinople in November 1920. Actions de secours en faveur des enfants hongrois à Budapest (Relief operations for Hungarian children in Budapest) illustrates the ICRC’s work on behalf of children and the poverty endured by the inhabitants of Budapest. La lutte contre le typhus: l’activité du CICR en Pologne (The fight against typhus: the ICRC’s work in Poland) is about th…

Mr. Burns has taken over the JetBlue blog!

C. Montgomery Burns, the thin, sickly and somewhat evil owner of Springfield's power plant (& the employer of one Homer Simpson) is blogging at JetBlue's blog. Go & check out what he's plotting.

Here is a paragraph from a post by Burns:

"I believe customers have the right to keep quiet as I pluck every penny from their upturned pockets, but you insist on charging honest fares AND offering free TV and unlimited snacks. Mind your profit margins, man. Your rates make a mockery of the corporate greed our great confederacy was built upon. Who taught you to be a robber baron? Mother Teresa?"

- Sujewa

Being an independent filmmaker at a time of serious & numerous conflicts in an underdeveloped world

I think a few months ago I read something like the "earth is flat" type theory when it comes to doing business at this point in time on this planet. Due to improved communication, cooperation between countries, increased trade & greater openness some companies believe that they are no longer competing within their own countries or localities only but that they are, or that they can, compete with any other company in the world in going after customers anywhere in the world. In a sense, many old boundaries in many places have come down, pretty much everyone -openly or quietly - has embraced some type of capitalism as being essential for maintaining a healthy economy. On that item, the world is one country.

If we take a look at this one country we see few spots of great prosperity with law & order, individual rights - off the top of my head I'll say those few spots include: the US, Canada, "old" Europe (France, Germany, England, etc.), Japan, Australia. Tha…

Preserving The Right To Film In NYC links

As reported a few days ago by Anthony Kaufman, NYC adopting rules that would require "permits and insurance for any group of two or more people using a handheld camera in one location for more than thirty minutes" (NYCLU) is definitely bad news for indie/DIY/low budget or student filmmakers as well as tourists & anyone else who wants to take photos or shoot video in NYC and this might also be bad news for indie filmmakers who live in other cities; because I can see other cities adopting or wanting to adopt the NYC rules in the name of "security" or whatever other equally bad for film creativity & individual rights reasons they can come up with.

Here are links to a couple of groups who are working to stop that unfortunate future:

- New York Civil Liberties Union document "City Agrees To Reopen Debate On Film Permit Regulations", with links to:
" Click here to read the Fact Sheet on Film Permitting Scheme Comment Period (PDF)
Click here to read the…

Alex Cox's suggestions for a new punk cinema

This post has a connection with the previous post in that the link will take you to an article that discusses Derek Jarman's film Blue. When I met filmmaker AJ Schnack at SilverDocs '07 we talked about how his film Kurt Cobain About A Son reminded me of the Derek Jarman film Blue (Blue has a blue screen with various audio elements, About A Son has a recorded phone conversation as the main audio element which is set to visuals that often do not directly relate to the audio). In his post Alex Cox talks about Derek Jarman being a well known "punk" filmmaker, and goes on to suggest a few ideas for the creation of a new punk cinema. Check it out here.

Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.

- Sujewa

Closing night of the Kensington run was excellent

OK, the Date Number One Kensington, MD 7/12 - 18 run is now over. Tonight was great - had the second highest daily turnout for the run - 14 people. People enjoyed the movie, and there was a couple of good discussions re: the movie after the show. I believe about 55 people saw Date Number One during the run (will need to count the ticket stubs later). Got a bunch of photos & thoughts to post, will get to that tomorrow.

Next for DNO: fine tuning the thing to 110% before setting up the next screening, making DVDs for sale.

Up soon at this blog: AJ Schnack interview re: Kurt Cobain About A Son, Amir Motlagh interview re: knock.knock and other work, and a long conversation with both the director and the star of the doc Water Flowing Together. That stuff should be up before the end of July.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who made the 7/12 - 18 run possible, and to everyone who attended the event. Looking forward to the next DNO screening - probably in the fall, probably in NYC.

Very hap…

DCist mentions the 7/12 - 18 DNO run :: DVD update :: Stranger Than Hollywood film, blog

Today DCist mentioned the 7/12 - 18 Date Number One run in Kensington, MD. Thanks DCist!

When I was watching the movie at the Armory this past several days I saw a few things that still need to be fixed in the movie, so hopefully DVDs before the end of July. Of course at this point holding the DNO DVD project to any deadline is silly (since we've missed so many deadlines), but it will happen before we all get too old :)

Working on the script for the next feature; the film about making indie films. Current working title is Stranger Than Hollywood ('cause at times my life feels like a mixture between Stranger Than Paradise & Entourage :). Here is the blog - not much there yet, stuff coming in August.

The Kensington run of DNO ends tomorrow. It's been a lovely experience. Just tonight two people talked to me after the show & told me about how much they enjoyed the movie & why. Such encounters make all the work & expenses & headaches that come with producing D…

Yet another 8 Things post - this one's got a tree house

Agnes tagged me - thanks Ms. Agnes :), so here goes:

Rules (copied from Agnes's blog):
1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and that they should read your blog.

My Eight Things or THE OCHO:

1. I have two "homes". One is a tree house in Rock Creek Park. I sleep there from Wed night - Sun night.

2. One winter I was lost in Ohio & broke so I slept in a ditch. In the morning I woke up & walked into a local church & they gave me breakfast & asked me to sit in on the service. Then they started signing, and whenever they mentioned the devil they would turn around & look at me. It creeped me out, so I left.

3. In the 70…

Date Number One, July 12-18, Armory Building, Kensington, MD

:: After playing mostly one night only screenings in New York City, DC, Takoma Park, MD, Kensington, MD and Seattle (a weekend there), mostly in 2006, Date Number One is coming for a week long run in the DC area, in Kensington, where much of the movie was filmed. Here's all the info:

D A T E ** N U M B E R ** O N E
http://www.wilddiner.com/
a comedy about several first dates
a movie by sujewaekanayake

Thu July 12 - Wed July 18, 2007
Armory Building

3710 Mitchell Street
Kensington, MD 20895 :: map
7:30 PM daily
$7

Film's Description: "Date Number One", a comedy about several first dates, is made up of 5 different stories: Story 1 - Just Another Ninja Searching For Love, about a ninja who goes on a blind date (ninja is played by John Stabb Schroeder from the DC punk band G.I.), Story 2 - A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, Story 3 - Washington "City Of Love" DC/Start Over, about a writer who tries to get …

Another bunch of happy Date Number One audience members , 7/12 - 18 run day 2 notes

Showed the movie again tonight, not many people in attendance (about 10) but the ones who were there enjoyed the movie a lot, were all smiles after the show. I think I need to come up with new & massive ways to promote screenings, hmmmmm. Let's see what Saturday's turn out is.

Number of ticket sales is a problem for the distributor in me (or the distributor-in-training let's say :), but the positive reactions to the movie are definitely a massive reward for the filmmaker in me. I've got a good film, now ways must be devised to spread the word of screenings widely & fast.

Also, City Paper placed my ad in the museums section. Not happy with that, will have to talk to the CP about it. I guess it is nice to be listed with places that show art, but the more appropriate place for the ad was among other ads for movies.

Regardless of minor problems mentioned above, very happy with DNO and am glad that the 7/12 - 18 run is happening.

- Sujewa

Showing your film in a large space on a large screen to an appreciative audience is way cool: 7/12- 18 run day 1 report

When the day started there was no large screen, and we were not able to get sound to come out of the speakers. By 5 PM we had a gigantic 10' x 10' screen and an excellent sound system rolling out the Date Number One dialogue & music in appropriate servings.

For a Thu night/opening night the attendance was low - about 20 people. If Sat & Sun brings about 40 people each day & then we get back to the 20 neighborhood for Sun - Wed, the run will be successful. Of course I want it to be awesomely successful- so a lot more press work needs to be done. Gettin' on that tomorraw AM.

Last two weeks were spent pulling together everything that needed to happen in order for the event to happen. Now that that is done, the next 6 days I can focus on just two things: publicity and showing the movie each night.

The venue - the Kensington Armory - is excellent - simple & spacious & very comfortable. The movie is looking & sounding better than ever. Press is sta…

July 11 Montgomery County Gazette article: "Indie filmmaker does it his way in metro area"

First I thought the Gazette did not run this interview article yesterday, and then I found out a few minutes ago that they ran it in their entertainment pull-out section. An awesome article, much needed for press in MoCo (Montgomery County) for the 7/12 - 18 run of Date Number One in Kensington - thanks Gazette!

Here are the first couple of paragraphs from the article:

" Sujewa Ekanayake takes pride in keeping his craft pure and relatively simple. The 34-year-old Kensington filmmaker describes his latest film, ‘‘Date Number One,” as ‘‘an ultra-low⁄no budget, D.I.Y. (do it yourself), real indie, self-distributed feature filmed in the Washington, D.C., area.”

The ‘‘comedy about several first dates,” self-produced and distributed via his own Wild Diner Films label, Ekanayake says, ‘‘is made up of five different stories.” He notes that various reviewers have called it ‘‘witty,” ‘‘funny” and ‘‘sexy, sexy, sexy.”

The idea for the film came from ‘‘a funny scene involving a date” in his pre…

Quotes from blogs will get higher position in Date Number One print ads

Just saw the near final draft of the very noticeable (1/5 page) Washington City Paper ad for the 7/12 - 18 run of Date Number One in Kensington, MD & it looks awesome! - whoever worked off of my draft of the ad at CP did a great job - thanks anonymous CP graphic designer person! I'll post the ad here on Thu or Fri.

The ad features a quote each from The Chutry Experiment, GreenCine Daily and Hollywood Is Talking. Seeing the ad gave me an idea; in order to reward & further encourage bloggers to review and or otherwise write about indie/real indie/low-budget DIY movies, I am going to give prominent position to quotes from blogs in my print ads for the movie. There will be DNO reviews coming up from print critics - if not during the coming Kensington run then from some or many of the 50 or so 1 week long (or longer) runs that I am planning for this film; to occur over the next few years - but bloggers started reviewing DNO over a year ago! As the owner & the distribu…

50 cities, at least 1 week each, however long it takes: Date Number One DIY theatrical distribution goal

I think I accidentally stumbled on the theatrical screening goal for Date Number One in the post above; 50 US cities, at least one week each, and the project can take as long as it needs to be completed (hopefully not any more than 5 years, hopefully more like 3 years). Feels like a good goal.

While that's happening I'll be making & releasing new movies, hopefully at least a couple a year starting next year.

Low budget digital production & self-distribution is a wonderful things.

- Sujewa

Rick Caine thinks about AJ Schnack "suck"ing & "blow"ing

Now was it really necessary for filmmaker Rick "Manufacturing Dissent" Caine to start using grade school insults when arguing with excellent filmmaker, blogger & gentleman AJ "Gigantic/Kurt Cobain About A Son" about various film & blogging related matters? I don't think so. Seriously weakens his argument I think. Decide for yourself here.

- Sujewa

1 million DC area people may hear about Date Number One this week

One of my goals for the 7/12 - 18 run of Date Number One at Kensington's Armory Building is to let 1 million DC area people know about the existence of the movie. I may be able to achieve this goal, here's how:

- The Gazette newspapers claim a 90% readership in Montgomery County, and that (all the numbers on this post are very rough estimates, I do not guarantee accuracy) would mean about 810,000 people (I think, when they say 90% do they mean 90% of the total population or 90% of newspaper issues printed?). On Wed there should be a Gazette article re: Date Number One & the 7/12 - 18 run; they did a pretty long interview with me last week, and they already did a tiny mention of DNO in last week's Kensington issue of the paper. The DNO story this week should appear in all the MoCo Gazette papers, I think. So, if that happens, there is a good possibility of several hundred thousand people learning about Date Number One.

- I bought a Washington City Paper ad today, a pretty…