DIY = Do-It-Yourself. DIY film = low budget indie films made and distributed by the filmmaker. This is a blog by independent filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake. 2018 films - Werewolf Ninja Philosopher, Breakthrough Weekend, Brooklyn Fantastic, Agnes the Alien. Blog active since 2006, with posts on cinema, NYC, positive news, various other concerns. Indie film can save the world (or at least entertain a part of it :) ).
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.
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.
UPDATE: 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 :)
UPDATE 2: read part 2 of the panel discussion notes here.
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 as…
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) (als…
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 …
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 & …
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!
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 pa…
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…
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.
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:
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 fr…
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.
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…
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 …
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 …
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).
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."
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.).
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 f…
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.
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 platesin 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 email@example.com if you want to buy this awesome book. A very good & inspirational read, specially for in…
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 au…
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.
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.
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.
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 s…
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.
... & 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, th…
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. …
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 fe…
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.
INDIE FEATURES Update:
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.
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. 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."