Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"The Punk Mariachi All-Stars" (Seznec Brothers & Shervin Boloorian) play sweet songs of D.I.Y. romantic comedy in Date Number One
More "PMAS"/DNO music notes coming soon.
In the meantime, check out the The Seznec Brothers website, they've got some music there.
Also check out music by Cory's new band The Groanbox Boys (under Projects, here).
about 3 years later, was it all worth it?
F*** YEAH! making this movie has been one of the best things i've done in my life! and the fun is just starting; distribution is gonna kick into higher gear starting this summer.
thanks a lot to everyone who has made it possible to come this far with this project. we will all hang & party very soon.
Here is a morsel:
"The atmo of DN1 reminds me a bit of a few 60s-era underground films or post-punk works like Downtown 81 or Liquid Sky, though DN1's cast of characters are a lot friendlier and live a few stories higher on the under/above ground scale.
- David Hudson, GreenCine Daily"
Check it out here.
Originally published 9/06
Forget Factotum man, if you want to experience some modern (not 35MM holly-indie-foreign- wood weak reflections of) down & out seedy existence complete with substance addiction & prostitution, and of course Bukawski esque humanization of the afflicted, go check out Mike Tully's Cocaine Angel. The movie will most likely make yourself feel a lot better about whatever partially self-created & temporary indie hipster tragic situation that your life may be at the moment. Whatever it is, the kids in CA got it worse. A well made movie, here's an interview with the director Mike Tully:
Sujewa - Hey Mike, how do you feel about the upcoming NYC premiere of Cocaine Angel at the Brooklyn Independent Cinema series? [note, this happened last year,2006]
Mike - we feel very excited about it, of course! to be honest, i haven't really thought about the film or watched it for quite some time, so i'm a tiny bit nervous about how it's going to play (too much expectation is always a bad thing), but we're still proud of our accomplishment and that feeling will never go away. obviously, we hope people "enjoy" it (if you've seen it, you know why i put that word in quotes).
Sujewa - Was Cocaine Angel influenced by Charles Bukowski?
Mike - Cocaine Angel wasn't influenced by Charles Bukowski, but the excessive debauchery in my twenties certainly was. this is a question for Damian, as the writer, but i think i can safely say that Cocaine Angel was influenced and inspired by real life, not fiction, poetry, literature, music, or cinema.
Sujewa - How & why did you get into filmmaking?
Mike - i really don't know. i kind of wish i didn't. but here i am. honestly, it just feels to me like the most challenging, exciting, inspiring, lively way to express myself, and i have always felt the need to express myself.
Sujewa - You seem to have a love/hate relationship with NewYork City, please elaborate.
Mike - i just hit a wall with New York City. for relationships, they say it's the two-year mark, right? the point at which you either break on through to the other side or call it a day. or maybe i'm just making that up. with New York City, i do feel like i've read somewhere that the wall is around seven years. for me, after seven years, i was simply exhausted by the noise and subconscious energy i expended on a daily basis. of course, if i were making a living with my creative projects and didn't have to supplement my income doing the exhausting daily grind, i wouldn't want to live anywhere else. but i really liked the slow living in Maryland and look forward to settling down outside of the city within the next few years (unless the movie making catches on and i actually get paid to do it as a day job, that is).
Sujewa - What were some of the best/worst parts of making Cocaine Angel?
Mike - i remember one day Shawn Lewallen, our life-saving DP, and i were driving around going to some seafood restaurant to treat ourselves right on an off day, and i had this true appreciation of the fact that i wasn't in a cubicle, i was on a crazy mission, and i felt like i was exactly where i was supposed to be. not hiding behind anything, not sitting in a cubicle because the rent had to be paid, not wishing i had the balls to make a movie. i even felt like i knew what iwas doing. of course, all credit goes to Damian for trusting me with his vision. without him i would be a far more tormented soul right now.
Sujewa - How do you like your new home Brooklyn?
Mike - i lived in Park Slope for a few years before leaving, but this time i actually found my dream set-up. great roommates in an impossibly great brownstone, and it's just steps from the entrance to the park. so maybe the world doesn't hate me after all. it's like, i always talk about when i'm going to 'live the dream,' but if i'm honest with myself, i'm pretty damn close to living it right now (at least as far as my living situation goes).
Sujewa - How do you feel about the new school of filmmakers (Weiler, Ekanayake, Swanberg, Bujalski, etc.) attempting to reclaim indie film through D.I.Y. distribution?
Mike - more power to you guys. (we must also mention Arin and Susan in that list, because they're really pushing it to the next level.) it exhausts me just reading about it. i simply don't have the energy to play that game. making the film is all i can get excited about. i worry that this means i'm not one of the chosen few, because nowadays it's like you truly have to be an all-in-one enterprise to be an actual player. and if that's the case, that's fine with me. but i hope that i find some support that will help me out with those later stages when i finish future projects.
Sujewa - Will you engage in any self-distribution activities in the near future?
Mike - very casually, if at all. i hope i find that spark at some stage, but right now it seems like a time-draining exercise in futility and i don't know if i'm up to banging my head against that very stubborn wall.
Sujewa - How much money do you need to make your next film?
Mike - well, i guess the Silver Jews documentary i just shot is technically my next film, and there won't be much money needed for that. so that's a good thing.
Sujewa - What kind of projects are you thinking about trying to film in the near future?
Mike - the plan is a mid-budget film set in New York City, a low-budget film that takes place throughout the south and west, and a big budget movie that will be made on a much grander scale. my hope is to make any and all types of films, with all types of budgets, in all types of genres.
Sujewa - You complain quite a bit on your blog about not having luck with women, is this true or is this a part of an elaborate down & out rejected artist persona that you are carefully cultivating in order to make millions of $s from consumers who find that image appealing/representative of their own identities?
Mike - my complaint is that i wish i would meet and fall in love with that oh-so-special someone, not that i 'don't have luck with women.' maybe i misrepresented myself on my blog. maybe i should stop whining about being lonely on my blog. thanks, Sujewa, this has been very illuminating. i'm going to go stuff my head under a pillow now.
Sujewa - Why should everyone go see the excellently made Cocaine Angel on Mon 9/4 @ 7 PM? [again, already happened in 2006]
Mike - i don't know if you should see it actually. check it out if you're into that sort of thing. or stay home and watch the US Open. but seriously, this might be one of the few chances you'll get to see it on an even somewhat "big" screen and we worked hard on it and think we captured a special little moment in time. but if you do come, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Also, I forgot to mention that Cocaine Angel was selected by the '06 Rotterdam Film Festival & several other film festivals.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
" I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?"
Read the rest and the over 1000 comments here.
Thanks James Ponsoldt for the link.
"Beginning in January 2006, Oscar-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme filmed in and around New Orleans, chronicling the lives of dozens of people—each of whom has their own unique story. The result is a documentary on the pioneering individuals and families who have chosen to exercise their self-granted “right to return” to their devastated homes and rebuild their lives following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Tavis accompanied Demme to New Orleans to visit with some of these courageous people who are central to the culture of the Big Easy."
Find out more about the show here.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
One of the easiest-to-get-started ways of making money back from your film is to do mail-order DVD sales. Set up a website, and a blog, drum up some publicity for the film through festival screenings or DIY screenings (screenings that you produce), post some clips on YouTube & MySpace Film, get your local newspaper to write a story about you, advertise wherever you can afford to advertise, set up a PayPal account, get a PO Box (if you don't want everyone in the world to know your home address) and when people mail you checks or pay through PayPal, mail them DVDs of your movie. I know of a handful of indie filmmakers who are doing this right now and some of them are doing pretty well at it, selling over a thousand DVDs of their unheard-of-in-the-mainstream DV movies in less than 12 months. And on the high end of the revenue scale, The Last Broadcast & The Debut has reportedly earned over a million dollars each; TLB $4 million as of '06, Debut $1.8 million in late '02 from theatrical alone.
But, for most filmmakers, what does it take to make a living through DIY filmmaking & self-distribution? I guess that depends on how much money you need in order to live well. If you were to sell 5,000 DVDs of your awesome indie movie over the course of one year, with each DVD selling for $12, you would collect $60,000. That's before expenses: before paying taxes, shipping (at least $1-$2 per DVD through US Post Office for shipping within the USA), paying back the cost of making the movie (to yourself or to your friends/investors), and the cost of marketing the movie/DVD for a whole year. Maybe after all the expenses you can make a profit of $30,000 - $40,000 or more. Not bad at all for a very small, start-up, more than likely a part-time, new business.
And when you have more than one feature being sold down the road, you can do the math, the amount of total revenue & profit gets bigger.
Selling DVDs through the mail is one relatively simple way to make $s from a movie. Then there are other ways that you may or may not be able to make happen, such as licensing your movie to TV & cable broadcast. Also you can sell merchandise related to the movie, teach a class on making & distributing indie/DIY movies, etc. If you have a good movie (liked by audiences) then ways to make money from it can be thought up. There is a whole section of the book publishing industry catering to this subject, hit yer great used bookstore or more likely Borders or Banes & Nobel or better yet, your local library & study up on it. The web can help a lot with that also.
I still have my great slacker day job. But I do see a point where I can quit it & live off of revenue from my films, in the not too distant future. When I actually get to that point, I'll be sure to let you know :) Perhaps that will be additional encouragement to the next generation of DIY filmmakers.
How come I am sharing this info? Am I not worried about competition? Nope. Indie film can be/is art, and no two artists are going to tell the same story the same way. That doesn't happen even in Hollywood. Plus, there are a whole lot of great stories out there all over America & the world that are not being told, that I can't possibly tell due to the limitations of my/any one person's experience & interests & skills & of course available time, but that can be told by many eager & enterprising filmmakers if they have an avenue to use for producing and distributing their work. DIY film can be that avenue.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
And, from time to time, brief posts about films by friends may get into this blog. But other than that, from now on, all DNO news all the time over here. 'cause we are taking the DNO self-distribution project to the "next step" right now. it should be a most rocking & deeply delicious experience.
Here is a description of the program, from this PBS page:
"THE SLANTED SCREEN
From silent film star Sessue Hayakawa to Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Jeff Adachi’s film explores the portrayals of Asian men in American cinema and television, chronicling the experiences of actors who have had to struggle against ethnic stereotyping and limiting roles. Through a parade of 50 film clips spanning a century, the film presents a critical examination of Hollywood’s image-making machine. The program includes interviews with actors Mako, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Shigeta, Dustin Nguyen, Phillip Rhee, Will Yun Lee, Tzi Ma and Jason Scott Lee; comedian Bobby Lee; producer Terence Chang; casting director Heidi Levitt; writer Frank Chin; and directors Gene Cajayon, Justin Lin and Eric Byler and features a new song performed by the San Francisco rock-punk band Say Bok Gwai. Presenter: Center for Asian American Media."
The doc can be purchased here & at several other places.
It would have been cool to see Greg Araki, Jon Moritsugu & Greg Pak on that program.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Motlagh's latest short film Knock.Knock tells the story of events that happen in a day in the life of a comedian who is moving a little bit up in the world. The comedian (played by Chris Manz- MySpace), wakes up and goes to work, has a somewhat amusing encounter with an actress (Lene Penderson) and then has a more dramatic encounter with a former girlfriend (Keaton Shyler). In the end, Manz's character seems to have a new understanding about his past, the present situation, and quite possibly his future. Beyond that I can't say too much more about the characters or the events in the movie because, this being a 21 minute film with a very small plot, I would ruin your joy of discovery.
I like unusual characters or at least rarely seen in movies type characters, and I like watching artist/entertainer characters, and I like unpredictable/somewhat surreal/on the verge of falling apart comic situations. So, both the main character, who is a young comic with an internet show, and the first encounter worked well for me.
The second encounter, which starts about 5 minutes into the movie and makes up the greater part of the movie, depicts a light romantic drama situation. This segment of the movie is also concerned with creative jealousy, career achievement competitiveness between romantic partners and selective memory. Unless there is a lot of humor intertwined with the drama, I am not a big fan of romantic drama, so the second encounter in this movie did not work as well as the first one for me.
I liked the beautiful cinematography in this movie. I was a little bit saddened to discover that the film was shot on Super 16 film (a type of motion picture film related to 16 MM film, but offering more image space - If I recall notes from my film school days correctly) and not a digital medium, because I was hoping that digital cinematography had progressed to the level of excellence, the richness & the velvety feel of the image, seen in Knock.Knock.
Generally the acting in the movie is good, although there were two crucial instances in the second half of the movie where I felt that the actors could have made better choices.
Knock.Knock is, for me, definitely more art than entertainment because, like the best of Motlagh's films, it pulled me deeper into real life, made me reflect on events similar to the ones depicted in the movie, and over a day after watching the movie for the first time, I am still thinking about some of the ideas and memories that the movie pointed to. For me objects of art are doors to other things; things related to real life. Things that I label entertainment are things that provide an escape from real life; a temporary, total escape. Some of my favorite art, like the two films by Motlagh mentioned in the first paragraph, provide both an avenue for deeper engagement with life and a little bit of a welcome break, a little bit of escapism, from life at the same time. Although Knock.Knock was not as enjoyable as Still Lover or My Break Ups, I am glad I saw it and will most likely watch it again a few more times in the near future (I've already seen it three times, film gets better with each viewing, also is better on a larger screen). It is entirely possible that the film works very well for audience members who enjoy watching romantic drama related situations; I would like to hear some reactions from such people when they've seen the movie. Knock.Knock is definitely recommended, worth watching.
The film should become available to view through film festivals, other screenings, or on DVD directly from the filmmaker or other distributors in the coming months. Visit Motlagh's blog for additional information and updates.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Here's a recent small mention of The GoodTimes Kid at the Boston Globe:
" "The GoodTimesKid"
Written and directed by co-star Azazel Jacobs (son of legendary avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs), this low-fi comedy bounces off the festival circuit and lands with a lovely little splat. It's one day in the life of three hapless Los Angelenos: two men named Rodolfo Cano (Azazel and Gerardo Naranjo) and the free spirit who bounces between them (Sara Diaz). Very rough, very funny, with sensibilities derived equally from Chaplin, Jim Jarmusch, and the Gang of Four.
-- Ty Burr"
I hope its not funny like Funny Ha Ha ('cause that kind of funny i don't really get) but funny like early Jarmusch or Hartley or even Seinfeld & some moments in Mutual Appreciation. That kind of funny I like.
Check out Kid blog here. Scroll down & read the Salon write up when you get to the blog, good stuff.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Also, it's been a while since I interviewed Amir (read Feb '05 interview here), will try to talk to him about Knock.Knock & his feature-in-post-production Whale & his other feature-in-the-works Micro later this week.
Back to working on the DNO DVD for me. Talk to you later.
"Ultra-indie filmmakers need to “jam econo”" & other interesting & useful thoughts at Camera Stilo post
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I just read a chapter called Guilty Pleasures in the Waters book Crackpot where he talks about his "secret" appreciation of art movies, and I was trying to find that chapter on line to link to, but instead I stumbled upon the Divine Trash page. Here is the link to an Austin Chronicle review of the film.
Need to see DT. After all, Waters is from Baltimore, a city that's just about 40 minutes from where I type this. And I liked most of Cry Baby, and I think most of that movie about indie/underground filmmaking - Cecil B. DeMented, and all of Hairspray, plus, no doubt, bits and pieces from several of his other movies (and why have I only seen parts of most of these movies so far? perhaps it is time for a John Waters movie night at the Sujewa house).
Saturday, May 19, 2007
For more on DJ Spooky (aka Paul Miller) check out his website here.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
" Although I didn't buy a movie camera till some time in '63, it had certainly occurred to me to be a do-it-yourself filmmaker long before then,..."
line is on page 29.
the fact that he used the term do-it-yourself is interesting to me. the book has a copyright of 1980 so maybe that's not so weird after all. i didn't think artists in America used the term "do-it-yourself" to describe their work until after the punk days, late 70's i guess - so if the book was written around the late 70's, then it all makes sense. but maybe the term was in use in the 60's, at least by some people Warhol knew. who knows.
aside from all that, the book is a good read, demystifies Warhol. it could all be an act, but why and how he did things is explained in the book, he does not come off as other-worldly as he often does in movies such as Factory Girl. the book makes him sound like a pretty ordinary & likable dude, with of course some very interesting ideas about art & people.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"...this film is like candy. It's not like taking medicine; it's like eating chocolate. You watch one hour, then you want to watch two and three and four. It's a little bit like a soap opera; you meet characters who reappear who are in different crises in their life and you want to know what's going to happen to them. So you need to think of it more like Sex and the City..."
Sounds excellent. Even if Flying is not quite like Sex and the City, I am excited about the fact that it is 6 hours of people talking about interesting aspects of their lives. Always wanted to make a movie like that. Plus, the movie takes place all over the world, another thing that I like. Will write about what I see of Flying in a few days. In the meantime, here are some Flying links:
Dox interview (PDF file)
Film Forum NYC page for the upcoming 7/4 - 17 run of Flying
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"Fees are not required of entrants who have screened at the festival in the past"
Very good, a useful & innovative & filmmaker friendly evolution (unless of course this is the norm in the film fest industry, this sounds like a new thing to me). Anyway, me likes.
Submission deadlines: 5/15 THAT'S TODAY! (regular deadline), 6/1 (late deadline).
Fest happens August 22-26, 2007 in Chicago, IL.
Here's their website.
Peter Sellars's "California Uber Alles" speech at SFIFF :: Speech also about art, democracy, Mozart, and hope in cinema
"So, state of the state. All of those groups who say, "Why were the German people silent?" And now I have to ask, "Why are the American people silent?" The German people were told that this other set of people were just not human beings, so it didn't matter what happened to them: "Pay no attention as these people just suddenly disappear. As this apartment is suddenly empty. As this job is suddenly available. They're illegal people; they do not have the right to be here. And they need to learn the value of work."
To watch all of this ideology be resurgent in this day is pretty heavy duty. I have to say, for me, I'm constantly searching as an artist for how we respond. One of my favorite stories and one of my favorite texts is -- I don't know how many people here know Boethius's "Consolation of Philosophy." From the sixth century, late Roman Empire, when the Roman Empire was at the end of the line, one of the last Roman emperors was Theodoric, a Goth, and things were so corrupt and so disastrous, they said, "We need to at least lift the tone a little bit here. Let's hire a major philosopher to be chief of staff and let's get some integrity back into the administration." So they hired a man named Boethius, who was a great philosopher, who actually wrote beautiful six books on the philosophy of music, based on Pythagorean principles of harmony in the universe. And they invited this man to be chief of staff for one of the last Roman emperors. He, of course, like any of us would, says, "Oh, my goodness! They're asking me. They want a philosopher, they want a wise person. How beautiful." So he showed up at the office, and soon enough began to say, "Oh, you cannot take these people's homes away from them. That would not be fair. It's not just." And he starts to be very mean to have around the office because he can't get anything done. The guy has integrity. So, they eventually have had enough, and they frame him and put him away in a dungeon where he lives the last five years of his life in a subterranean chamber with all sensory deprivation. Like a supermax at Pelican Bay. After a while, it's just too annoying that he's still alive, so they go in with big clubs and they just beat him to death, and turned him into putty on the floor. And then they don't have to worry about him any more, because he saw too many things. In these five years, when he was buried alive -- I don't know how; on toilet paper or what -- he wrote a manuscript. A manuscript called "Consolation of Philosophy." The manuscript is the story of him sitting in his cell and then a woman walking through the walls of the cell and singing to him about the nature of justice. And they would sing songs to each other through the night in this subterranean cell. So, of course, I'm right now working on a new version of "Consolation of Philosophy" for the state of California.
My favorite part of the story is that, five centuries after this man was eliminated and silenced, "Consolation of Philosophy" was the most copied manuscript of the Middle Ages. At a time when there was no publishing industry, and if you wanted to have a text, you had to copy it out yourself by hand, it was the most copied text. And now, 15 centuries later, it is the only text written in the entire sixth century that you can get in paperback in an airport. I really love that! Which brings us to the digital age and the stories that no one thought you would ever be told. And the access that you never thought you would have to certain communities. And the communities that were actually going to live, be silenced and never heard from again by the rest of humanity are actually the stories now that we're all looking for, gravitating towards. And the stories that actually have the life force that we're so thirsty for. And that we're hungering after."
And later, after talking about the value of Mozart's career and ideas that animated the creation of the United States, Sellars talks about a film about Khemer Rouge Cambodia and he also talks about contemporary US:
"The survivors ask the guards, "What were you thinking? How could you do this?" Those answers are overwhelming. In all of human history, it's one of the most overwhelming documents. "S21" -- it's an overwhelming film -- which gets us to something we don't normally feel we can do, which gets us to a type of bearing witness, a type of embodying history, recognizing history, processing history and craving a space for a future that only film can accomplish. And places us not at arm's length from history, but quite the opposite: right in the heart of it. And invites us to place ourselves in the place where you have to make the hardest decisions of your life.
As Americans, actually, we are in that place right now. It's just that the commercial culture around us conspires to never make you think that that's really where we are. That the decisions that are in front of us every day have this type of weight. And that the body count and the devastation. On our watch, world poverty has tripled. Tripled. Fifteen hundred years from now, they'll be saying, "What were those people thinking? Did they not notice? How could they not know? How could they not see? How could they not deal. It's unthinkable. What were they looking at? What were they talking about? What was so important for them?"
And even later, on cinema and its relationship with hope for a better world:
"Cinema is part of a new possibility of hope. Cinema is part of gathering in small groups and reinforcing a sense of where we're coming from, but also where we're going. And what it means to hold the images in front of us to say, "We're not there yet, but it's where we're going, so let's not stop here. Let's keep going there." That idealism is actually what art was invented to do. To hold in front of you something that you aspire to."
Read the full speech here, at SF360. Read it twice or more.
Thanks Hell on Frisco Bay for the link.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
- New "Still Lover" distro deal
- Knock. Knock completed & ready for festivals & screenings & distro
- (myself) Sujewa Ekanayake
films: Fresh Coffee (1992), Wild Diner (1999), Capital Heartbreak & Sweetness: 17 DC Poets (2002), Date Number One (2006). very indie/DIY. self-distributes.
- Amir Motlagh
films: too many to mention - over a dozen shorts, including popular short Still Lover, & the recent Knock.Knock. currently editing first feature Whale. also prepping to shoot a new feature called Micro this summer. very indie/DIY. self-distributes.
- James Spooner
films: Afro-Punk, White Lies Black Sheep
very indie/DIY. self-distributes.
A google search on these filmmakers will reveal all the links & info. you need for your articles. They can also be pretty easily contacted through the magic of e-mail.
Why did I group these 3 filmmakers together? Because they are very indie/DIY & use low budgets & digital video & make stories about young, contemporary characters AND because they are non-"white". In case the indie film media & related folks are only aware of the "white" Mumblecore filmmakers being the only interesting real indie film action happening in the USA right now (that often appears to be the case), I wanted to alert you to check out this alternative for your next article re: Mumblecore or re: exciting new young US indie filmmakers.
Thanks indie film media peeps!
& readers, feel free to add, in Comments below, names & links to other young indie filmmakers that should be considered when the press wants to write/talk about new filmmakers.
Let's show some appreciation to good/favorite internet film reviewing & criticism: ChuckTryon regularly delivers well written reviews
[Full disclosure; I started paying a lot of attention to Chuck's writing after he attended the World Premiere of my movie Date Number One a year ago (something that i did not expect him to do since he was a Catholic U. media professor & my film had absolutely zero - media, press, etc. wise - going for it at the time besides my own DIY promotional work at this blog) & then wrote one of my favorite reviews of the movie thus far. I like that review because it made me think about related things that I was not thinking too much about when I wrote the movie (life in cities, the anti-Crash quality are two of the things). And Chuck took the film & the ideas in it seriously, even though the film is an ultra-low/"no"-budget, no-stars, self-distributed with a "no" budget affair without any stamps of approval from film festivals & (at that time) no other critical attention. That I think is the best a filmmaker can expect from a reviewer: thoughtful attention to the work. Now that that's done, let's move on to the work in discussion.]
I just read many of Chuck's reviews from 2003 until yesterday - May 12, 2007 SEE THEM HERE, and I would have to say that Chuck consistently delivers very good to excellent film reviews (for my taste). The reviews impart a love for the medium as opposed to a general disdain for it & its creators (& Chuck's often on the indie side of the street), and an open, inquisitive, curious and humane approach to both the worlds depicted in the movies and ideas related to those worlds.
If you have any favorite internet reviewers, list , link to & talk about them below in Comments. Remember; the ones you LIKE, not HATE- this is the INTERNET FILM REVIEWERS APPRECIATION WEEK! :)
dno is now officially a year old. time for it to get out to the wider world (& for me to also get busy with making the next movie). DVDs will be on sale at wild diner films site later this week, just a couple of little things to take care of first.
of course a 1 week run is happening in kensington, md july 12 - 18, with a lot more screenings in other places happening later this year.
ok, sleepytime now for real.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
"[Reeler] For the record, what is Flying about -- if we can summarize the six hours?
[Fox] It starts with a personal crisis -- my crisis --about who am I as a woman. You know, entering my 40s, not married, no kids, multiple partners, several abortions and the whole kind of a typical modern woman trying to make sense of my life by talking to other women everywhere -- starting with my friends in New York to my friends on the West Coast, England, France, Germany, Africa, India, Pakistan, Cambodia. Trying to say what we have in common, how are we different, how can I find a mirror for my life when there are no mirrors. I don't have a difficult life, but at the same time, I'm constrained by typical things -- typical gender issues that have affected me my whole life. It's really an exploration about all of that, through an overriding storyline that's my own. I think there are 13 countries in this six hours. But it's very dramatically driven; it's not an ethnographic survey, it's not a sociological survey. It's a real story of me going on the road with my life."
Read the rest of the interview here.
Looking forward to checking out Flying.
Film is playing at Film Forum in NYC in July.
Friday, May 11, 2007
From the Pioneer Theater's site:
"Join us for this one-time only double bill
bringing together for the first time in New York
HENRY FOOL (1997) and its sequel FAY GRIM (2006)
two major works from acclaimed filmmaker Hal Hartley
special guests include:
Hal Hartley, Thomas Jay Ryan, Richard Sylvarnes, Kyle Gilman,
S.T. VanAirsdale (The Reeler),
and others to be announced
Simon (James Urbaniak), a shy garbage man, lives with his sister (Parker Posey of PARTY GIRL and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, among dozens of other movies) and mother, who both treat him with minimal respect. Into Simon's life comes Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), a heavy-drinking self-proclaimed great writer who goads Simon into writing an enormous poem. The poem becomes the source of great controversy, proclaimed by some as a great work of art, denounced by others as perverse trash. As Simon's star rises, he tries to draw attention to Henry's work as well, to little avail. Though the premise seems simple, Henry Fool takes on something of an epic sweep as it follows the effects of fame on Simon's and Henry's lives. This rumination on art and inspiration was hailed by some critics as the best film yet by writer-director Hal Hartley (TRUST, SIMPLE MEN, AMATEUR), while others felt it brought out his worst self-indulgences. All movies written and directed by Hartley defy easy interpretation, and HENRY FOOL is no exception. Still, it's a rare film that even tries to tackle such subjects, let alone does so with a combination of intelligence and humor (ranging from verbal quirkiness to scatological embarrassment).
[synopsis adapted from Amazon.com]
Fay Grim, a single Mom from Woodside, Queens, is afraid her 14 year old son, Ned, will grow up to be like his father, Henry, who has been missing for seven years. Fay's brother Simon is serving ten years in prison for aiding in Henry's escape from the law. In the quiet of his cell, Simon has had time to think about the tumultuous years of Henry's presence among them--chronicled in Hartley's earlier film HENRY FOOL(1998). He has come to suspect that Henry was not the man he appeared to be. His suspicions are validated when the CIA asks Fay to travel to Paris to retrieve Henry's property. Her mission turns into a sprawling con-game, pitching Fay deep into a world of international espionage.
[synopsis from Magnolia Pictures]
Special thanks to Tom Prassis at Sony Pictures Classics, and Jeff Reichert from Magnolia Pictures."
I heard back from one DC focused print publication already re: getting press for the July 12 - 18 run of Date Number One, they like the idea of doing a story on the movie for their July issue. Once & when the thing is done & out, will link to it or will post a copy of the article here.
More publicity stuff next week.
Getting ready for tomorrow night's "1 year anniversary of DNO World Premiere" party. Perhaps I will have some photos from the party on Sunday.
"On closing night of the Atlanta Film Festival, director Hal Hartley spoke for thirty minutes about his newest release Fay Grim, a sequel to his 1997 Henry Fool. The following is an excerpt from his audience Q&A.
Gabe Wardell: Tell us a little bit about why you chose to make a sequel to Henry Fool this many years later, and what brought you to the process and back to telling the story.
Hal Hartley: When I was writing the first one, I knew that what I was writing seemed like it was part of something very long. That was exciting…The actors, during revisions, I would give them revisions for scenes from Henry Fool and take them out as they proved themselves to be superfluous as it were. Together (the actors) would be upset, “Oh, I really loved that scene.” And, I said, “Don’t worry. That will be part of the other seven.” Like good jokes, there was something real, and everybody understood that. We didn’t really take it seriously I think until we saw the film Henry Fool finished and knew that there was a future, particularly for the character of Fay."Read the rest of the conversation here.
Henry Fool is one of Hartley's most accessible & fun movies, so Fay Grim, the follow up to HF, should be exciting (also, a chance to watch Parker Posey, indie/indiewood star of the 90's in action in an indie film again is cool). FG is coming out on May 18, get all the info. here, looking forward to it.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Mission: Washington OR Let's see how much local press I can generate for the upcoming 1 week run of Date Number One (7/12 - 18, Kensington, MD)
It is May, I am home, and just because I am home doesn't mean I am not working...
Here is a list of my work shops and screenings for this month. If you are around please come out and see me.
May 9th - - Kicking Bird screening @ The Columbian Theater in Astoria, Oregon
May 10th - - Kicking Bird screening @ The Coaster Theater in Cannon Beach, Oregon
May 15th - - Guest Lecture @ Portland State University
May 15th - - Market & Self Distribution Workshop @ The Art Institute of Portland
May 18th - - Kicking Bird Screening @ 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle, WA
May 19th - - Sound Design Work shop @ 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle, WA
May 24th & 25th - - Workshops & screening @ Oregon State University
For more info on the Seattle events please go to http://www.911media.org/.
As usual I am booking work shops and screenings for the Fall US and Europe Tours starting now. So if you want me in your city, or your country, let me know. I promise I'll be lots of fun, and not like your gross Uncle that won't leave.
Don't forget to go to my web site and check out the New Projects link, and Buy My Stuff! The price of gas is obscene and I have to pay the bills somehow...
Take care and we'll talk later.
"PunkTV.ca: Speaking of doing what you’re supposed to do let’s talk about White Lies Black Sheep. I noticed a similar theme in this one. It reminds me that as writers we are taught to write about what we know and in this one your African American character is falling in love with a white girl and his friends are maligning him for not being loyal to his race. Tell us about that movie?
[Spooner] It is kind of a spin off of some of the themes that are dealt with in Afro Punk. It is done as a documentary/narrative so it’s a blurry line but it focuses on this kid AJ Talib that is a black guy who is involved in the New York rock and roll scene. He’s just more comfortable hanging around white rocker kids than he is hanging around black people from Bedstye which is where he grew up. The story really spans like a year and some change and it’s really his journey from going to a place where ultimately he doesn’t really like himself that much to a place where there’s hope and we can see that he’s finding out new things about himself and challenging who he is and where he’s been and where he’s going."
I didn't find any reviews of White Lies today. If anyone sees any, let me know. Looking forward to checking that film out when I can. Still need to see Afro-Punk, Spooner's previous film.
This bit of news doesn't affect DIY/real indie filmmakers but I thought I'd post the link in case this blog is read by minority and or female screenwriters who want Hollywood work.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I wonder if the popularity of art/independent/foreign films at a given period of time is directly related to how seriously the reviewers & critics at that time period take the medium/the works/the art form. Although it is not the job of the critic or reviewer to do so, well written movie reviews can add value to a movie, in the eyes of the audience. Or, if reviewers take a movie seriously and spend some time thinking about the many things that are going on in and around a movie - actual content as well as related ideas, even if the bottom line is that the movie failed to greatly entertain or convincingly make an argument for something- the audience might also allow themselves to pay more attention to the movie and think about it more, watch it closely, and in turn they might enjoy the experience more. I think the reviewer or critic can, through their writing, invite and make it OK for a non-expert/ordinary audience member to confidently deal with a movie as a work of art. One positive element of the internet is that since space is cheaper than at newspapers, the net reviewers can write at length about a movie, which will allow him or her to examine many aspects of the movie and ideas related to the movie.
Bigger budgeted or well established foreign and art and indie/indiewood films do seem to receive more thought and attention from most reviewers. In ShortEnd Hannah review case, it is nice to see a very low budget, no star real indie movie receive the same kind of thoughtful treatment.
This International Herald Tribune article from February of this year was, for me, a good introduction to the filmmaker. Here is the first paragraph from the article:
"Jacques Rivette's movies, like the legendary 12- hour "Out 1" (1971), have heroes who seem to belong to secret societies, characters as enigmatic as their quests: they skate out of control and bump each other in play, or treachery."
Read the rest of the article here.
" He [Coppola] said the realization of a planned adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road (which he is set to produce and Walter Salles will direct) will entirely depend on who is cast in the lead roles."
Read the full entry here, some interesting stuff re: Coppola's new film Youth Without Youth there.
i think i can file this post under the Beats & Film Blog-A-Thon
" HOOKS TO THE LEFT: "...one of the most interesting cinematic experiments of the year: Director Todd Verow filmed a auto-biographic travel diary with the camera of a Nokia cellphone ... The result is a mysterious, deeply personal and fascinating masterwork of no-budget film - and proof that creating film art has nothing to do with money..." Goon Magazine"
Anyone who reads German, follow the links & check out the article. And let me know if there is an English translation around.
From an interview with Burns, read it here.
Thanks GreenCine Daily for the link.
I've enjoyed, to various degrees, pretty much all of the Burns films I've seen (i think that's all of them except Ash Wednesday). Looking forward to checking out Purple Violets.
Monday, May 07, 2007
* Date Number One distribution
- party to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the World Premiere of DNO (5/13/06) on May 12 (next Sat!), an event for cast & crew & significant others & close friends
- DVDs will be available for sale from Wild Diner Store starting on May 13
- 1 week run in Kensington, MD: July 12 - 18
- lots more screenings! info. coming soon
** Start of the 10/30 (making & releasing 10 features in 30 months) project
- shoot feature 1 - working title: Filmmaking For The Poor (FFTP), starting in August, complete editing & start distribution in October/before November
OFF for '07:
It is possible to shoot a film part time & also distribute another film PT, while maintaining a FT day job, but I think it would be difficult to produce a film festival while working a FT job and while producing and distributing features. So, The Kensington Real Independent Film Festival (KRIFF) will have to wait until next year. KRIFF will not be happening this year, will have the new dates for the fest in Jan '08. Most likely it will happen in early September '08. Hopefully this does not mess up anyone's plans for '07 too much.
That's the latest for upcoming major '07 stuff. Will have details on things as they happen.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Yeah, the joke is old now (although, I just saw that episode of Entourage for the second time a few days ago), sorry, could not resist.
"Hannah (Greta Gerwig) seems to be drifting through life. She has a boyfriend, Mike (Mark Duplass) whom she seems to like, but suddenly breaks up with him because "he's the funny one. I want to be the funny one." She works for a production company of some sort -- I never quite understood what was going on over there -- with a pair of guys, Paul (Andrew Bujalski) and Matt (Kent Osborne). Paul is trying to negotiate a deal to publish a book based on his blog, while Matt is slightly older and more mature than the other two. After breaking up with Mike, Hannah more or less floats over to Paul, upsetting the office dynamic with their schmoopiness and later with their relationship difficulties. She turns to her roommate Rocco (Ry Russell-Young) and to Matt for solace."
The above paragraph is of course from the description of the plot of Hannah. Better stuff; insights and opinions about the movie, and some background information about the production, are at the full review, check it out here.
Hannah sounds interesting (i was not that into Kissing On The Mouth or LOL, but Hannah sounds more interesting than the earlier two by Swanberg), looking forward to checking it out.
Even though Hannah has been blogged about quite a bit and mentioned in articles regarding Mumblecore movies, the Cinematical review mentioned above is the first one that I found, so far, to take a clear look at the movie and write about it in a way that would be useful to an ordinary audience member. When dealing with a dialogue or character driven, "no" budget, small plot or "no plot" movie, some bloggers & other reviewers choose to write about matters related to or inspired by the movie and not about the actual movie itself, probably because it would take a lot of attention & note taking & reflection to clarify the thin plots and scenes that make up the movie. So, good job Kernion & Cinematical, well written & useful review. Thanksalot!
Another well written review of Hannah, at notcoming.com.
(and yes, Rockwell does consider her post re: Hannah a review, as noted here, not just a blog entry reflecting on the lack of female participation in indie film & a couple of related subjects using Hannah as an example; more on that below)
The stuff that Rockwell did talk about in her review; her belief that the lead actress was cast because she is cute, observation that there isn't enough female directors making movies, belief that the male gaze gets in the way of making good movies, are all interesting stuff to read & think about, but the essentials about the movie would be a very nice thing to find in a movie review. Even if it is just a blog entry movie review.
It's a good thing that newspapers still write reviews. Such coverage/press may be harder to get for real indies such as Hannah, but at least newspaper reviews, in my experience, impart the essential information about a movie that would help a reader decide if he/she wants to check the movie out even if the reviewer had tons of problems with the movie.
Also, several blogs & websites - GreenCine Daily, Filmmaker Blog, The Chutry Experiment, Hollywood Is Talking, indieWIRE, The House Next Door to name a few - do write reviews that provide the essential information plus a lot more to think about, so there is hope for more well written movie reviews on the web, all is not lost.
Indie filmmakers, even if they end up making a movie that makes very little sense to most audience members, put a lot of work into making their movies. It would be nice if bloggers who decide to review a movie can show a tiny bit of respect for the amount of work that goes into making a movie by sharing the basic and essential information about a movie with their readers.
Also, if you are a filmmaker/blogger/film reviewer, I am not very interested in hearing only or even mostly about what you would do differently on someone else's movie; deal with the movie as it exists and go from there. When you make a movie you will have plenty of time & opportunities, for many years to come hopefully, to discuss what you would have done differently on your movie. But when writing about other people's movies in a reviewer capacity, please give me the basics about the movie and then build from there. Thanksalot.
New York Times' Manohla Dargis briefly questions the choice to use black to depict evil in Spidey 3: "Though there’s something dubious about the idea that black still conveys evil in our culture, pop or otherwise (tell it to Batman and Barack Obama, for starters),..." Read her full review here.
Chuck Tryon has a review of the movie here, definitely not very excited about seeing the movie after reading that, now that I know about all the problems in the flick.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I may have a tiny role to play in making Micro; will have more on that in early June.
Check out Amir's blog for updates on his projects.
I interviewed Amir in '05, read that interview here.
Read a more recent interview with Amir, from '06, here.
And here's that list of Amir's work that I mentioned on paragraph 1 (note - looks like this list was made prior to shooting Whale, so it is a little bit old, but still good re: Amir's earlier work):
Whale (pre production/feature length fiction)
Pumkin Little (40 min documentary)
(short subject film/video)
When I die, will you remember my poem (in production/cinematic essay)
Still Lover (2003)
Dino Adino (2001/ recut intro 2004)
Love @ 11:47 (2001)
Lessons in Self-Destruction- an eight part video series (2004-2005)
#01. She Shouldn’t Lick Me There
#02. One Night With Stella, Harold and Maude
#03. The Flight of Flowers
#04. The Banalities of a Hard Dick
#05. WHS 96/97
#08. Persian Boy Spins Himself Into Extinction
Whale (pre production)
Trying to Kill Me (ver.2.0)
Love @ 11:47
Blood Types are Nothing
Writing (for film)
Whale (pre production)
My Life on the 405 (feature treatment)
Love @ 11:47Dino Adino
Memoirs of a man that will die tonight
(Novels, short story, verse, etc.)
The Most Tender Ovulations Man Can Withstand (short story and verse/ ongoing)
Excerpts at 2am (verse collection/2003)
Issues on Automatic (one act play/2001)
Mothers, Lovers and Fuckers (ongoing)
When the Kids Were Alive (2003)
Still Lover (2003)
Pumkin Little (2004)
I dreamt of a sweet suburban sugar cube (ongoing)
Polaroid’s tear my heart out (ongoing)
Camels, Colors, and other things disjointed (ongoing)
Shanks and the Dreamers (5 track EP “If only I were left a Heart” early 2005)
Pumkin Little (original score)
Still Lover (original score)
You can see the above list, illustrated with stills from Amir's films, here.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
"Wilson (Scoot McNairy), a twenty-nine-year old guy who has just had the worst year of his life, is new to Los Angeles, has no date, no concrete plans and every intention of locking the doors and forgetting the last year ever happened. That is until his best friend, Jacob (Brian McGuire), browbeats him into posting a personal ad on Craig's List. When Vivian (Sara Simmonds), a strong-willed woman hell bent on being with the right guy at the stroke of midnight responds, a chaotic, sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching journey through the black and white streets of L.A. begins. In the waning hours of the year, emotional vulnerability and bitterly honest humor seem to be waiting around every corner."
And about the production:
" In Search of a Midnight Kiss is directed by award-winning comic filmmaker, Alex Holdridge, whose last film, SEXLESS, is the only movie to have won both the Jury and Audience Award for best feature film at the SXSW film festival (2003). The veteran art house producer, Anne Walker, (Before Sunrise, Dazed and Confused) is Executive Producer. It stars Scoot McNairy (Art School Confidential, Six Feet Under) and Sara Simmonds (Echoes of Innocence). It is produced by both Seth Caplan (Flatland) and Scoot McNairy. Editing is by Jacob Vaughn (Cassidy Kids, Dear Pillow) and Frank Reynolds (In the Bedroom). In Search of a Midnight Kiss is a blend of up-and-coming talent and proven experience making it a dazzling independent film not to be missed."Well, sounds good so far. Looking forward to checking it out.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer
Space Rabbit Making Of + Scene 1
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