Tuesday, July 31, 2007

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 making & photography are excluded from the permit & insurance requirements of the rules. Otherwise the rules, as they stand now, invite harassment of millions of tourists, thousands of film students, also many amateur & low budget filmmakers from the police and other law enforcement agencies. The rules also invite, as I mentioned earlier, legal action against, and a ton of negative press for the office of the Mayor of New York. Beyond the legal and financial and publicity drawbacks to current proposed rules, the MOFTB will be putting the economic future of the New York based film industry at risk by making it difficult for new filmmakers to refine their skills through low budget filmmaking.

As a visitor to New York City and a fan of New York City filmmaking (an important section of the nation's film heritage has come from low budget filmmaking and careers started in New York; that of John Cassavetes, Andy Warhol, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, to name just 4 world renowned filmmakers who got their start making low budget movies on the streets of New York) I sincerely hope that the permit rules as proposed do not become law but rather a more refined set of rules are adopted; a set of rules that protects the ability of the ordinary citizen to celebrate New York through film, video & photography and encourages aspiring filmmakers (future engines of positive publicity & wealth/economic activity for the city) to pursue low budget filmmaking without fear of police harassment.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sujewa Ekanayake
Filmmaker
Visitor to & big fan of New York City

::

First lady of France secures the release of 6 foreign prisoners from Libyan captivity

Very interesting (& of course very cool for the families of the prisoners). Reportedly the EU has been trying to get those prisoners (5 Bulgarian nurses & a Palestinian doctor) released for 8 years. Read all about it at the Washington Times.

- Sujewa

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

Sunday, July 29, 2007

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 what you hope to accomplish, creative wise, with each project?

Amir: I’m just going to list them in order of completion dates:

Films:
Dino Adino - 2001
Love @ 11:47 - 2001
Still Lover -2002
Pumkin Little - 2004
My break ups into a million pieces -2005

Videos:
Lessons in Self-Destruction (a six part series) - 2005

There are others, but I’ll keep it short. At least these are pieces that people have seen, or maybe a few people have seen…ha ha. So after that interview which I believe was in 2005, I will describe some of the newer projects. Please forgive the fact that I can’t just keep this discussion in film, because things in my life seem to intertwine.

In 2006 I started to film "Whale" which Is my first fictional feature film. I planned it out so that it could span time, the films idea is a sort of journeyman time travel. Not in the sense of science fiction, but in the banalities, or better, modernities of month to month. This film is my search of what story means, how it functions, and how important the things left out are to a story, as the story itself. Maybe its similar in some sort of spaced out way to Ozu’s concepts of mu, and mono no aware. There is no doubt an Iranian sensibility of Doc and Fictional merging. In truth, it is as simplistic as can be. Its about a man coming back home to his mother's house after a hurtful relationship. The man is a writer who has never finished a novel he has been working on for years. Coming home, many things remain the same, although he is almost thirty. In its form, it could be thought of as a fictional narrative verite. It will be done in 2007.

Also, during this time, I finished a small little film called, "Tracing the Edges" - 2006. It was a 16mm film, only 3 minutes long, that I wanted to do, to test a more traditional filming of drama with more of a traditional context. The film is about the boiling point of conflict in a relationship that should have been resolved a long time ago. You know, when people that shouldn’t be together, prolong a relationship for many reasons, but ultimately, should have ended it a long time ago. It all takes place in a tiny bathroom, and finishes in a flash. I think you have seen it Sujewa, but I have never really released it in any form. [Sujewa's note: saw it, found it to be interesting, definitely a quick snapshot/a moment from quite possibly an end of a relationship, well shot & well acted - if I recall correctly ] I didn’t even send it out because of other projects, and it was such a small little thing. But I liked my actors, both Tom Oconnel, and Rachel Sciaccia, who is a very good actress.

After Tracing the Edges, I finally finished the last recordings for the record, A Day Late: Instrumentals for Illegal Aliens with my band Shanks and the Dreamers. This record took two years because of film related stuff, but, shit, I have to plug it. It will be made available in a limited print on June 16th 2007 (go here to get info. on the record). It's been sitting, waiting to be printed since Dec 20th 2006, but there never is enough time.

In Oct 20th 2006, I had a video installation go up at the Seed Design Studios in Santa Ana, Ca at the Artist Village. The piece was called "The Astonishing Experience Box Set" and it included six videos played in a loop. I don’t want to get into a long winded discussion on this piece.

In Dec 2006, I directed a music video in still photos, creating a stop motion like aesthetic. I tend to use photos in my films.

In Febuary 2007, I stared production on the film Knock. Knock. It was shot in Super16mm by Zamir Kokonozi. I developed the concept with comedian/writer Chris Manz. A few months in its development, I asked him to be the lead, Chris in the film, since the character was based on him in many ways, not all, but the chance to do a fictional character study, with a real subject partly as that character was interesting. I had a great group of actors, Keaton Shyler who played Karla, Chris’s ex girlfriend, and Lene Pederson, who played Sharon. I feel that it was also important for me to work in a traditional narrative, that had broader appeal. Even though I never catered to a perceived audience, I tried to be engaging and kept from alienating by being too specific. I have to also say that I had wonderful production design by Tom O’Connel and editing by Rick Curnutt.

In the meanwhile, I have been cutting Whale. This summer will be its completion I hope, because I have an 11 day, 35mm project I’m shooting in October called, "In the night I forgot".
Also in July, I start a new feature project called "Micro". This will be a "whale 2", a sort of conceptual sequel but not really at all. I will continue to refine some concepts, and continue to try to form a different type of narrative, but hopefully, keep it interesting and accessible at the same time. I don’t know if its possible, but I need to try. This film will also take a year or so, because the design of the film is such.

The reason I do a film like Whale, then do one like Knock. Knock. is because I love the craft of filmmaking, but I also am an artist. Maybe if I keep working, the projects would start to assimilate and it would not seem like I fluctuate between more mainstream work and more art house. They will become the same thing. Hopefully, they already have.

Sujewa: As I said in my review of Knock.Knock, it is a light drama, almost (and I am sure many people will groan when I say this) Mublecore-y in a way; something happens between a couple of people - not too clearly/explicitly defined, one character may or may not be significantly affected by it. Were you thinking of Mumblecore movies when you made Knock.Knock or did you come up with the story/film that you came up with on your own/through your own process & areas of concern? And while we are on the topic, what do you think of the Mumblecore movies that you have seen?

Amir: In effect, it might come across as light, but I think that it works more like a character study, with a light drama acting as its metaphorical barrier. For me, it’s a kind of personality film, yes; I would say that’s what drives the film. I wasn’t thinking of any movie before making this. Maybe in visual design, the cinematographer and I worked out a design based on seeing other large scale movies, but I don’t work from other films. I’m not sure about the Mumblecore comparison or what that means really, frankly because I have very little knowledge on it, only heard of it from blogs. I have seen Bujaski’s film Funny Ha Ha, and I liked it, but in my opinion these two films have nothing in common. It would be absurd to think of going into this film or any film without my own process. Also, I must mention that I did not write Knock Knock., I only worked on the scripts development, and also co-wrote the scenario. Chris Manz wrote the screenplay. I would never make a film based on something else, that’s not how my process works, unless it’s through influence, but still, that’s a whole separate issue. We worked on this film by a long improvisational developmental process, in an actor’s workshop sort of way. On another note, this work is different then my other films. It is not completely a separate entity, but I feel that it works different. And yes, there are areas of concern in this film that are my own even though I didn’t pen it. How else can you make movies?

Sujewa: For day job work you work on other people's projects, right? Can you talk about some of the jobs you've done recently, a quick run down of things?

Amir: Well, my work life I like keep private mostly. I work on project development, and as a director for a client based media company. I also work as an artist. I don’t mind working, but I do wish that all my source of income would be from project based.

Sujewa: This question is related to a bigger topic of identity/nationality that we were talking about earlier - on the phone a few weeks ago, the concept of being both American and other; so far you have not explored your Iranian heritage (and I have not explored my Sri Lankan heritage, although Sri Lanka gets mentioned a lot in Date Number One) in your movies. Are you thinking about tackling that aspect of your life through a movie? I'd like to do it with Sri Lanka, though I have not thought up of a doable movie (given the budgets I work under presently) where I think I can pull it off well; but I think it is only a matter of time 'till I figure it out. I heard Caveh Zahedi is about to do a doc about being Iranian-American. Anyway, on to you (Are you thinking about tackling/discussing your Iranian heritage through a movie?).

Amir: Well, my feature “Whale” deals with it, not quite as a direct subject, but it is inherent in the film, the character and the world. Also, “Micro” is an extension of that. But besides these more recent works, I have almost always dealt with identity in all my work, and at times through the notion of nationality. Both my documentaries “my break ups into a million pieces” and the featurette Pumkin Little deal heavily on these subjects. The only difference is that the subjects of both these films are Filipino. This was my way of easing into how to deal with my own heritage in filmmaking.

Sujewa: And another, perhaps sensitive subject to bring up; casting in your movies. Will you be casting minority actors in your future movies or do you feel that having minority characters in lead roles may make it difficult to receive wide distribution for your movies or will cause other obstacles for success? As an audience member, the films that had your presence in the acting arena, as the narrator of Still Lover and as the lead actor in Love @ 11:47, were more interesting to me since one of the things I look for in movies is a minority presence in the cast.
.
Amir: Again, I only deal with the work that is in front of me, without imposing a liberal agenda for its own sake. For “whale”, the cast is completely diverse, but then again, the film deals with the reality of that particular cinematic world. In Knock. Knock the subject of the film is dealing with an all white world. I’m not about filling quotas, that’s not my job. Someone can make a case that another nationality could have been in one of the roles, but then again I wouldn’t be making a film that was in front of me, I would be doing something else, and frankly, coping out of the material in some ways. I’m not political in that sense anymore, I don’t really spend time thinking much about these things maybe because of my own circumstance, whether I have an ethnic cast or not really comes down to the work, plain and simple. I’ve become color blind because of the diversity I was brought up in, growing up in Southern California, which by all means is different in other areas of the US.

Sujewa: This question does not have anything to do with film but about Iranians in America. What exactly does the term Persian mean? Why is Persian used by Iranian-Americans as opposed to Iranian or Iranian-American when identifying themselves beyond their American identity (this is something that I have encountered, maybe it's just unique to my experience, maybe you can shed some light on this)? Are you close with that community or is the existence of that community something that you do not give a lot of thought to? I think most Americans do not have a complex understanding of Iran, Iranians & Iranian-Americans, so this is my small step towards solving that issue :) Feel free to share any thoughts you have re: Iranians in America or the diversity (if so) within that demographic.

Amir: I believe that the word Persian is historical. It is epic and refers to a great period in national history. The word Iran came about during WWII, which refers to the original Aryan Race. To me, it really doesn’t make a difference. I guess I would refer to the times in which I live, making myself an Iranian American, otherwise, it just sounds ridiculous to bask in nationalistic pride of yesteryear's. Have you ever heard someone say Persian American? Well, I’m sure you have, but that’s a bit pretentious I think. I’m not that familiar with the community, although have been so more recently. They are a well-educated bunch down here though, which is pretty cool. Shohreh Aghdasloo is a wonderful actress. I’ve seen her in some plays as well.

Sujewa: Back to film; what's it like to be indie in the shadow of Hollywood (since you live near LA & often work in LA)?

Amir: Well, right now I am living in Los Angeles. I don’t even think of myself as Indie anymore, just a filmmaker, or artist that works in this medium. I’m just like any other artist that lives in LA. In terms of Hollywood, I can do what they can do craft wise, probably even better then some, so just give me the cash, just a little.

Sujewa: It felt like, in 2006, the interest in DIY film; ultra-indie production & self-distribution went up to a degree never before seen in this decade, and this new interest in DIY seems to continue until the present moment. Did you notice that, and if so, what do you think of it?

Amir: I think that name artists who go DIY really help, and this has been happening because it has become viable. But for myself, I am not into the politics or agenda of filmmaking. I just like to be creative, whether for myself or through a company. Doesn’t really matter. The only thing that I am happy about is that I came from these roots; where I can make a movie for a few hundred or thousand dollars, and still have lots of people see it. And even if they don’t, it’s still cool with me. At the same time, I have the craft to make the larger picture. In some sense, to really truly understand the situation, you have to have had both, and I have never had a truly commercial project, and have never worked for a studio as a director so my experience is rather limited. Of course, living in Los Angeles, I have worked in the studio world, but never as a director. I’m not going to fight something I don’t really know about. For me, both worlds are interesting, until I get fucked, legitimately by either. I don’t know if that’s possible in the DIY world, but I guess not making a living wage is getting screwed, as you age.

Sujewa: How are DVD sales of your various movies going? Do you have any tips for other filmmakers who are interested in making & selling their own DVDs?
.
Amir: They have been good, but I have stopped selling them directly. I have been trying to finish “Whale”. I also have a new film compilation coming out next year tentatively titled “Dependent Life”; so next year will be a better time for that question.

Sujewa: Is there anything else that you'd like people to know at this point?

Amir: Only the survivors survive. Peace.

Thanks Amir! Looking forward to Whale & Micro!

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 28, 2007

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 the project a not-profitable thing. However, the press & publicity/awareness that can be generated from the theatrical or long runs of a movie can be very useful for DVD sales & other non-theatrical sales of the movie, so, in my opinion, theatrical exhibition is worth pursuing. Now that that warning is out of the way, let's take a look at all that took to produce a week long run of a DIY feature; the Date Number One 7/12 - 18 run in Kensington, MD.
::
Cost: Total money spent on the 7-day long event was close to $1800.

The details re: the event: Screening a 2 hour long movie on a 10'x10' screen in an auditorium that can accommodate over 200 people per show. One screening per day for seven consecutive days.

How the money was spent:

1 - Venue rental. Many discounts came into effect for this rental, thus the cost was low. The venue is not typically used in July by other clients, plus a part of the proceeds from the event went to charity, plus the film was made in the town that has the venue - these factors resulted in a lower than usual rental price for the use of the venue.

2 - Advertising - a 1/5 page ad in a local alternative weekly. Money was also spent on duplicating posters & fliers. With various discounts the cost was $408 for the ad.

3 - Equipment rental - the 10'x10' screen had to be rented. With a discount for renting the screen for 7 days straight, the cost was $355. Other gear - projector, speakers, etc. came with the venue.

Gear used for the event:

1 - Projection: the video projector used is the small type that is used for business meetings. Such projectors, used, can be purchased for under $500 in the DC area, or can be rented for about $150 or so a day (can get discounts for a week long rental, usually).

2- Screen - a rented 10' x 10' screen.

3 - Audio - two large speakers (each about 3 feet tall), powered by the sound board/amp unit. The speakers were connected to the sound board using XLR cables, and then two XLR-to-RCA cables connected the sound board to the DVD player.

4 - Playback - the film was played back from a DVD, using a $40 DVD player from Radio Shack. There were no playback problems, the film played back perfectly each night.


Other production notes:

- There were about 2 - 3 people on the production team for each night's screening: the director/screening event producer, a ticket sales person, a door person to collect the tickets.

Overview:

This was the first week long run that I produced at an alternative venue (the venue used does not normally show movies, theater groups stage plays there). Overall, I found it to be less expensive than renting a movie theater, & the event came off without any problems from the building or the gear used. I will definitely be repeating such presentations in the future.

What I would do differently at the next 1 week run:
Lots & lots more advertising/publicity work.

- Sujewa

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

Friday, July 27, 2007

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 Orchestra, Critical Mass bike riders, and Picture New York — a new coalition of concerned filmmakers and photographers, for a festive and un-permitted celebration of the First Amendment.

Friday, July 27, 6:30pm
Union Square, north end
Press Conference and Creative Rally

Bring: marching bands, gospel choirs, props and signs, cameras, projections, bikes, YOU and YOUR FRIENDS, and the 44 sweet words of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Upload: photos and videos of the rally or of your First Amendment feelings to YouTube and Flickr and tag them “camerawars” and “pictureny”. Send links to the Mayor’s office at http://www.pictureny.org/jcho@film.nyc.gov and us at info@picturenewyork.org.

Why now? Recently proposed regulations by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Broadcasting, and Theater could severely restrict the ability of even casual photographers and filmmakers to operate in New York City. A group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour (including setup and breakdown time) could be required to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The public comment period has been extended to August 3rd, but the regulations could soon go into effect thereafter.

Please take action before August 3rd:

1) Click here to email comments to the Mayor’s Film Office and the City Council committee that oversees them.

2) Upload videos and photos. Post your NY works or works about these rules on YouTube, tag them “PictureNewYork” and “CameraWars”. Send links to http://www.pictureny.org/jcho@film.nyc.gov and to info@pictureny.org.

3) Click here to sign a petition.

4) Join the spectacle at Union Square on Friday at 6:30pm to add to the image of New Yorkers celebrating their rights to free speech and assembly.

According to the NYCLU, “these regulations violate the First Amendment right to photograph in public places, and open the door to selective and discriminatory enforcement.” And they are a part of a broader continuum of attacks on our rights, including laws and regulations regarding meeting, filming, shouting, biking, parading, and dancing which, taken together comprise a serious threat to our freedom as well as our ability to defend that freedom.

At Union Square almost one month ago, before a Critical Mass bike ride, Reverend Billy was arrested for reciting the First Amendment. The charge? Harassment of the NYPD. The story ran in press outlets around the world. This headline-grabbing and constitutionally questionable arrest, and the recently proposed filming regulations, suggest that this is a perfect time to throw a party, First Amendment-style, for the press and the people of New York City…

See you then!

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” "

From Picture New York; "Picture New York Without Pictures of New York".

Thanks to Anthony Kaufman's Blog for the link.

- Sujewa

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 - & more fun (I think), & simpler project instead.

Reading the recent 8 Things Meme answers provided by various bloggers I follow also helped me think up this project.

Will be in touch w/ various bloggers I read to see if you want to get together & talk one day this August. NYC based indie film bloggers who are interested in this project can also e-mail me (wilddiner@aol.com) to get the dialogue/planning started.

Most likely I will be in NYC for a week or so this August. Exact dates to be determined very soon.

Hmmm, V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N project. Most excellent.

- Sujewa

$66,000 Aetna bill gets reduced to $500 just 48 hours after Michael Moore becomes interested in the story. Coincidence?

Just heard about this on the Tonight Show.

Click here to read a blog post about it.

Well, Sicko might have significantly helped at least one family.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 26, 2007

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.



Sign in middle of Kensington. That orange poster is the one for DNO run.

::

Notes from Date Number One's 1 week (7/12 Thu - 7/18 Wed) D.I.Y. theatrical run in Kensington, MD/@ Armory Building.

:: Wed 7/11, 9:20 PM:


I should have done this at SilverDocs, keeping all the posts re: that one event as a part of one post, so that I won't have to go back later & work on pulling everything together to read my notes from several days/from one event. So here goes;

- Went over all the preparations for the event today, got final (for now) posters up in Kensington, tested out the gear & venue (a most excellent venue - tall ceilings, lots of space) one more time. Will have pics soon. Everything is running smoothly, with back up plans in place & tested.

- Waiting for the Gazette to come out. Also City Paper tomorrow. We'll see if we also get anything in the Post, very likely. Press & publicity work continues, and will continue every day of the run.

- This run is gonna be awesome - lots of excitement & positive energy re: it in Kensington.

- About 14 little tasks to do 'till we open for bidness tomorraw; according to my 2 Do list. Off to get some of that sh*t done right now!

More tomorrow- from day 1 of the first ever week long run of DNO!!!!!!! It took a loooong time (since late Spring '04) to get to this point, glad we got here baby, glad we got here.

:: Wed 7/11, 10:09 PM:

Got this week's Gazette, nothing re: the flick in it-perhaps that interview they did will be published next week. It's a good thing we've got the CP ad, On Tap article, fliers, e-mails, blog press, & word of mouth definitely happening.

:: Wed 7/11, 11:14 PM:

Still working the publicity machine-updating all the blogs. Need to get that wilddiner.com website updated ASAP too. Full-on 7/12-18 run publicity work is on!

:: Thu 7/12, 12:25 AM:

Doing a US wide theatrical release w/in a short period of time - even w/in a couple of years, is a lot of work & is very expensive- too expensive for most low budget indie filmmakers, BUT, producing a week long run of a film at one venue is doable -w/the right venue & the right film. Coupled with bookings & fest screenings/other screenings elsewhere, & w/ blog & other internet exposure & whatever print exposure that can be had, with DVD sales & rentals & VOD following closely, a DIY film could be "released" by a DIY filmmaker- independently & on a low budget, w/ in a relatively short amount of time (3 mos - 1 year after completion of film perhaps). That is at least the path that Date Number One is traveling on at the moment/or at least one possible direction for it to go at the moment. Stuff to think about.

In order to embrace that future the Hollywood/Indiewood idea of success will have to be fully put aside. Is that truly possible & is that even something to aspire to? More stuff to think about.

Regardless of the future paths, producing a week long run of the movie is a very satisfying & happiness-inducing thing. In that sense the event is already a massive success; I've been high on this thing for like 3 months or so now. Now let's see how many people show up to the show today & how they like it :)

rest of day, Thu 7/12:

highlights:

Mike Tully publishes his interview with me re: DNO & the 7/12 - 18 run. Thanks Mike!

I found out that the Gazette did publish an awesome article re: me & DNO, because of the 7/12 - 18 run. Happiness all around.

Opening night notes. A good time was had by all there, myself included. Thanks a lot to everyone who came.

Mon 7/16

It's early AM - 2:53 to be exact and I am looking forward to some much needed sleep. Some quick thoughts;

- don't have much time to blog while the run is on, will get caught up on it on 7/19 or 7/20 when the run is over.

- the Armory is a great venue. Such non-commercial venues maybe the ideal path to take with DIY screenings because such venues are more affordable & there is a sense of community & a positive casualness about having the event at such a venue - an agreeable simplicity.

- having a great time with the run.
.
.
More Notes/Links Coming Soon
.
- Sujewa

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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

Low budget musical??? IFC blog interviews director Richard "Colma" Wong

IFC blog has an interview with Richard Wong, the director of the $15,000 musical movie Colma. I am not a fan of musicals but it is impressive that one made for $15K is playing in theaters & is getting some good press. I would say it is a low-budget triumph! :)

UPDATE: Colma blog.

- 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 advantages & disadvantages. But I hope print coverage of film does not go away. There is something old fashioned, familiar & satisfying about reading an article on paper/newsprint/a page of a magazine. Hopefully newspapers will find a way to stay in business & expand their film coverage while film coverage on the web grows, increases in quality & gets more readers. Newspapers should use the web to get more customers, I think some are doing that (this article suggests the idea/advantage of web media buying up newspapers to offer both platforms to advertisers, the reverse can also happen - newspapers buying up or building attractive web content to increase value & revenue for the print business).

- Sujewa

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 the web.

:: Other Saudi Arabian offices in the US:

http://www.saudiembassy.net/Embassy/Ministry.asp

:: US State Department contact info. (perhaps they can help):

http://www.state.gov/aboutstatedepartment/

:: Amnesty International might be interested in this issue

:: Human Rights Watch might also be able to help

- Sujewa

100 Greatest Sexy Moments in film - according to Channel 4

I remember there being some hot moments in Henry & June, not sure if that film is on Channel 4's list of 100 Greatest Sexy Moments. An entertaining summer list, if nothing else :) Not sure when the list was made. Sexy moment No.1 comes from Dr. No.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

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 screening of my second fiction feature, Date Number One (2006), in the US (screened so far in NYC, Seattle, DC, & a couple of MD cities). DNO might be the second US fiction feature made by a director from a Sri Lankan background (and in my case, actually from Sri Lanka, I immigrated in the mid-'80's, as a young teen), after Wild Diner. Soon/hopefully in early August the DVD of DNO will be available (and at some point in the near future Wild Diner & other earlier works will be available on DVD also - not sure if anyone really wants to see that stuff, but it'll be available :). Anyway, I have not heard of any other US based filmmakers with a Sri Lankan background making and or releasing fiction features. Ever. Never in the relatively brief (compared to the 2,000+ years old Sri Lanka) history of the US.

So, it is quite possible that I am number 1 or 2, or at the worst in the top 5 for "filmmakers from a Sri Lankan background who made & released/screened a fiction feature in America" :) A little obscure factoid for us to break out in like maybe 50 years or so :) Maybe sooner.

Of course the "1st widely/Hollywood level released fiction feature by a US filmmaker/director from a Sri Lankan background" title is not claimed yet. I guess something for me to work towards, possibly :)

- Sujewa

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 the measures taken to combat lice, which were responsible for spreading the typhus epidemic in central Europe."

- Sujewa

Angelina Jolie interview re: Darfur, refugee children in the US - transcript from CNN

It is a long interview transcript that touches on many humanitarian action related subjects - including the genocide in Darfur, and refugee children in the US. Interview is from late June. Check it out here at CNN's site.

- Sujewa

Monday, July 23, 2007

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

Sunday, July 22, 2007

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. That leaves several hundred other countries and billions of people who are not living a very comfortable existence on this planet - for a variety of reasons.

As a filmmaker, an artist, I am a type of person who leans towards the well being of people as opposed to suffering of people or indifference to the fate & state of fellow humans. In order to make movies you have to care about people, and when you care about people you learn about them and you begin to really care about them- beyond the care required by the job. Then you begin to see disturbing & sad things. Such as: there are no really good, insurmountable reasons for the vast poverty & misery & conflicts & violence in this world. Yet, obviously the poverty, misery, chaos, destruction exists, so maybe there are good reasons to why this world is the way it is and I can't see them or comprehend them. But, being the upbeat & resourceful type of person I see myself as being, I am going to lean towards my first observation in going forward: that there are no good reasons for the misery in this world, and the situation is fixable.

If the world is now flat for certain businesses, the world has always been very flat for storytellers. I remember reading ancient Roman & Greek stories as a kid in Sri Lanka, even though the general cultural climate of the place at that time was mostly antagonistic towards anything "western" (while, at the same time, many enjoyed "western" products & entertainment even while they complained about the "evils" of the west).

Even though colonialism & domestic narratives/theories have given the west & all things western a bad name in many places of this world, as I walk around & think in the US - a western/European offshoot place (and for many, the great symbol of the west) I do see many things that exist in this nation & culture that would be very useful world wide, such as: a great respect for the individual; individual needs, freedom, liberties, rights, etc., a focus on functionality over tradition ("if it works, and if it works better than what has worked in the past, we'll go w/it, regardless of what alien country or culture it came from"), comparatively vast respect for law & order - very few people are ever "above the law" here, and never/very rarely forever. Of course nothing is fixed and there is a daily debate re: commerce vs. individual rights, laws & safety vs. individual freedoms, and there are, to relatively small degrees, all the usual ills of humans; crime, disease, poverty, etc. here. But by and large, the US would be a paradise - in certain important ways -for many people who live in comparatively brutal places on this planet.

On the down side, as demonstrated by certain tragic foreign policy decisions taken over the last few decades, some in the US do not understand the common humanity that exists in other, far away, poorer & alien looking countries & cultures, or fail to recognize it because war maybe profitable. Or war may seem like the quickest way to fix a problem (it rarely is). But even on that point, there is hope here, because the "warrior class" & their business partners are ultimately subordinate to civilian authority.

So here I am, a US filmmaker, an independent filmmaker - a filmmaker who is not restrained by Hollywood limits (for both better and for worse - not being restrained by Hollywood limits also means not having the Hollywood resources), who is aware to some basic degree I think/I hope about the complexity & the tragedy of this world - the needless suffering on all sides - many with material suffering and some with spiritual/emotional suffering, and many with both - nearing a solid adult human age (I'll be 35 in December) and looking over my options on how I will use the filmmaking & self-distribution & marketing skills I've acquired over the last 15 or so years (since I started on the indie filmmaking path in '91) to both make movies/tell stories and help make this world a better place.

Even with the little peer support, some critical support, and the tiny audience I have now (Date Number One has been seen by over 550 people in America - and at least 1 person in Germany :) - since May '06) I am in a very privileged position compared to billions of people on this planet. Or, I have a lot of good things.

And kind of like the way that old saying goes, a lot is expected of those who are given/who have acquired a lot.

So, how am I going to both 1) make & distribute entertaining movies, make a living, and 2) help make this world a better place - since being a filmmaker gives me both the knowledge of the reality/a significant reality of the world & gives me a means with which to say something/do something about it?

Maybe the entertainment and activism will have to be two separate lines of work. Pure entertainment through the movies, and pure activism, humanitarian work done when not making & selling movies - but perhaps using some of the resources & connections & access & skills acquired through movie making.

This is something that I will have to think about and come to an agreement with myself on over the next few months, & make concrete plans re:, before I start what I consider to be the full-on adult years of my life - the 35 and over years.

I post these thoughts here in case another indie filmmaker or two heads down this same path and comes to similar intersections - actually, probably many do, all the time. Maybe some ideas written here will be useful to them, and maybe they'll share some ideas that are useful to me.

The complex question with no one answer is: what are some of the best ways to exist as a US based independent filmmaker at a time of serious & numerous conflicts in an underdeveloped world?

The filmmakers & photographers who are currently fighting the proposed NYC filming & permit rules are doing something very useful I'd say - their work favors the preservation of liberties for all residents & visitors to NYC. And the need that NYC feels for the new rules may have come from the state of conflict that exists in the world right now.

At the recent Date Number One run in Kensington several audience members in their 50's & 60's commented enthusiastically that the movie was the first time that they saw characters/people from many different ethnic/national backgrounds getting along with no or very little regard to their diversity - and they thought that was a positive, useful, and realistic thing. Perhaps I will expand on that approach & do some work to make "aliens" seem less alien to some American viewers, and also to some non-American viewers, in future movies I make.

The earth maybe flat for some businesses, and I believe that the earth is flat for good stories & storytellers - or that filmmakers/storytellers are not only competing for local audiences but that their stories affect/can affect the global audience - people all over the world. I can see US indie/doc filmmaker Jennifer Fox's "Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman" having an effect world wide because 1) the movie deals with a universal issue -how to deal with cultural & gender expectations, and 2) the movie incorporates people from various places in the world as characters. Maybe as US businesses are competing with businesses anywhere, US storytellers/filmmakers are competing with stories/narratives/myths everywhere. I think culture is transmitted in part through stories, so perhaps positive stories that incorporate certain places and people may have a positive effect on those places and people. Something to think about.

Anyway, the original question is a big question, lots to think about, but I am excited about tackling it.

Got any ideas on what American/US based indie filmmakers can do to make this world a better place?

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 21, 2007

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 City's proposed rules (PDF)
Click here to read the NYCLU's comments (PDF)"

- Project Film/Photo in NYC at Not An Alternative

And here's the contact info. for the NYC Mayor's Office of Film if you want to voice your opinion re: the proposed rules (info. is from Kaufman's post):

Julianne Cho
Associate Commissioner
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
1697 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
jcho@film.nyc.gov
ph: 212.489.6710
fax: 212.307.6237

Or contact the Mayor's Office of Film using the link below (form another Kaufman post re: the issue):

http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/home/contact_moftb.shtml


- Sujewa

Friday, July 20, 2007

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

New blog for Kurt Cobain About A Son

Check it out here. Right now it's got a great review on top.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 19, 2007

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 happy about all the press that the run generated. Specially the Gazette article that showed up in over 5 different Gazette papers/in 5 different area cities. The article came out in Kensington today. The press should help a lot with DVD sales & rentals in Montgomery County & DC area.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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 DIY screening worth the trouble. Lots of details from the run & photos on Thu!

Next for DNO: a NYC & LA run, paying a lot of bills, working the dayjob/other fundraising, the DVDs, paying a lot of bills, working the day job/other fundraising, screenings in other cities. All the while the next feature gets produced. The DIY film experience rolls on gloriously (& at times very tiredly, like right now, goo' night!)

- Sujewa

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's I acted in a couple of westerns/cowboy movies shot in Thailand.

4. Last night I went to a diner after the Date Number One screening (from the Kensington, MD run 7/12 - 18) and was caught in the middle of a shoot out between two very short pimps. As I ducked & weaved out of the diner, as bullets were whistling past my head, the oldies tune Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow was playing on the jukebox.

5. I like reading interviews with Tom Waits.

6. My first job was helping an alligator tamer named Henry Dell. A week after I started Mr. Dell got bitten on the neck by an alligator, was hospitalized for six months, so I had to go find another job. When I saw Mr. Dell last he was looking leathery & he told me he was going to go live in the swamps. I think he moved to Florida.

7. I am a part time & secret architect. I did some work on the Roosevelt bridge, but the official records do not show it, for reasons that I cannot go into here, unfortunately.

8. I am very close to inventing an edible & e-mailable paper product. With this product you can e-mail someone an edible note or letter.

I tag David Hudson, Blake Calhoun, Jerry Brewington, Scott Macaulay, Amir Motlagh, Camera Stilo blog, The Film Panel Notetaker, Stacy Schoolfield.

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 14, 2007

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 sujewa ekanayake

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 back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 4 - Air Quotes Woman, about a woman who always uses air quotes, and her search for a new boyfriend, Story 5 - The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a little bit of French in an unusual way. The movie has been discovered to be: "Witty" (GreenCine Daily), "Funny" (The Chutry Experiment), and "Sexy, Sexy, Sexy" (Hollywood Is Talking).

*
Featuring Hot DC Indie Film Stars John Stabb Schroeder, Julia Stemper, Jennifer Blakemore, Shervin Boloorian, Dele Williams, Steve Lee, Kelly Ham, Christine D. Lee, Fritz Flad, Subodh Samudre, Jewel Greenberg

*
Not Rated * 115 Minutes * yummy
*
SCREENED AT: Goethe-Institut - Washington, DC (World Premiere, May 2006), Northwest Film Forum - Seattle (May 2006), Capital City Microcinema - Kensington, MD (June, October 2006 & March 2007), Sangha - Takoma Park, MD (July 2006), Pioneer Theater, New York City (August 2006), Warehouse Screening Room - Washington, DC (November 2006).
*
Director will attend the screenings. Brief discussion, Q & A period after each screening for those audience members who are interested in such things.

"The film is about as charming as they come...presents a world in which cultures don't clash, they mesh. It's refreshing to see characters who all appear to have a natural optimism, as opposed to the typical indie-film predilection for bitterness and cruelty. "
- Michael Tully, Rotterdam & SXSW film festivals selected filmmaker & indieWIRE blogger
http://blogs.indiewire.com/tully/archives/010529.html

"I found the characters and the premise sexy, sexy, sexy."
- Jerry Brewington, Hollywood Is Talking blog, on Story 2 of Date Number One
http://hollywoodistalking.com/Blog/508/
*

"...witty...often inventive...and, even better, airy: characters are given time and space to spell out their views...views that never bear the artificial markings of a Hollywood screenwriter's compulsion to reduce them to sound-bites."
- David Hudson, Editor, GreenCine Daily blog
http://daily.greencine.com/archives/002353.html

"FIVE really entertaining, fully realized romantic interludes...a shamefully rare achievement"
- Tom Kipp, Seattle audience member, former film reviewer for Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger
http://diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/2006/05/interview-with-seattle-audience-member.html

"Heartfelt...poignant...I loved it!"
- Jon Moritsugu, award winning filmmaker
*
"...somehow, someway, in the end, the love of the characters, the positiveness of the film, and Sujewa’s disregard for conventions wins you over. The act of making this film wins you over. There is only a positive through line in this film, and that is rare to see, especially when dealing with characters in their late to early thirties."
- Amir Motlagh, director of the popular '04 Atom Films' short Still Lover & upcoming feature Whale
http://stilllover.blogspot.com/2006/10/date-number-one-review.html

"Date Number One is quite funny...twentysomethings and occasional thirtysomethings looking for romance recall Richard Linklater's philosopher slackers and Jim Jarmusch's minimalist attention to conversation...also a subtle, thoughtful film...might be understood as the anti-Crash depiction of life in the city...depicts a comfortably multi-ethnic community...I'd happily recommend it."
- Chuck Tryon, media professor & blogger, The Chutry Experiment blog
http://chutry.wordherders.net/archives/005873.html

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Date Number One website: http://www.wilddiner.com/
blog: http://www.diyfilmmaker.blogspot.com/
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!Thanks!

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

Friday, July 13, 2007

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 starting to happen nicely, so the run looks like it will be a fun & productive thing.

Will have some pics from today & yesterday early tomorrow.

Time for some sleep now, more screening action tomorraw!

Thanks a lot to everyone who came to the show tonight. It was overall an excellent event.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 12, 2007

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 previous film ‘‘Wild Diner.” "

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

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 distributor of the film, I can keep playing the movie for a long, long time since I am only doing one city at a time and my DVD distribution capabilities will not be able to get the DVD out to the whole country at once. And I certainly can't do simultaneous nationwide advertising, so DNO will roll out very slowly across the US, with various places discovering it at various times. And every time I do a week long run of the movie there will be at least 1 print ad. Eventually I expect to see quotes from bloggers/net reviewers & print reviewers in the DNO print ads - but will be pushing blogs more; see some reasons below.

Print reviews are difficult to get for low - budget, real indie movies right now, even if they play prominent festivals. In my limited experience a film has to play/has to be booked for a week or more in order for newspapers to even think about taking that movie seriously enough in order to write about it.

It will be nice when we get to the point where even a one night only screening gets print press as newspapers now do with music performances. Perhaps competition from film blogs will make newspapers adopt wider & more generous coverage of film events.

It takes a lot of effort in order to get newspapers to review or write about real indie/low budget/self-distributed movies, but blogs are a lot more accessible. But bloggers are often not paid for their work, also blog & other web press & reviews are essential for the kind of distribution that I am engaged in, so perhaps playing up blogs in print ads & other advertising is a good way for me to show my appreciation to the essential contribution that bloggers make to the current indie film scene. The additional publicity that blogs receive from my print ads may help make those blogs & their writers more successful, thus making it possible & worthwhile for them to review more DIY movies. That's what I am thinking.

The CP claims to have a circulation of about 85,000. So it is probably fair to assume that this weekend at least a few thousand DC area people may learn about the existence of The Chutry Experiment, GreenCine Daily, and Hollywood Is Talking from my ad. And that's a good thing for indie film, I think.

- Sujewa

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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 large one - 1/5 page. CP claims a circulation of around 85,000.

- I am not sure what the circulation & web readership of On Tap magazine is. I guess I should find that out. There is a nice story about DNO in this month's On Tap. So, at least a few thousand readers from OT let's say.

- There maybe an article (or at least a small mention) in the Washington Post about DNO 7/12 - 18 run. I think the Post has a circulation of around 600,000 for weekdays & around 900,000 for the weekend (or is that just on Sunday?). So, if I get a Post article, that would be very good.

- On top of all the local print coverage, there is local & other US & also even some foreign blog coverage of the event. I think it would be safe to assume that sooner or later several thousand people will hear about DNO due to blog press generating from the 7/12 - 18 run. Good thing about blog press is that they will live on & on in the web, not put away quickly like a daily or weekly newspaper.

So, it is looking good. I won't ever know for sure, but when the 7/12 - 18 run is over, it is very likely that a million DC area people will have heard about Date Number One.

That can be good. I might be able to sell a few DVDs :) Which would be very good, I can get my low-budget (but sexy) self out of debt a little & think about shooting & releasing the next movie :) :)

Looking forward to seeing some of the CP, Gazette, Post, & On Tap, & also blogs readers at the Armory during the upcoming run of DNO.

- Sujewa

BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer

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