Got this today; good news, Matt is back as a critic (though not in print), & the indiefilmbloginterwebcosmicbrain just regained the bit of intelligence & soul matter lost from Matt's departure a few weeks ago, very cool:
Although I have more or less quit print journalism to focus on filmmaking -- and will be shooting a science fiction feature in Dallas this summer -- I intend to continue being a critic. From now on, the work will just take a different form.
I intend to do a lot of these video essays once I perfect the format and get up to speed. They will be posted to YouTube and other Internet video sites; they will also be featured on the film and TV criticism blog The House Next Door, which I founded in 2006 and recently turned over to my friend Keith Uhlich: http://www.thehousenextdooronline.com/
Update 7/20/08: working on 3 movies (Indie Film Bloggers, Actress, and Date Number One DVD release), and will be busy with distribution on those next year, so, producing a film fest is out for '09, perhaps later/at some other year.
I have read, at some point far back in one of my history of art classes, of painters putting on group shows (example); basically several painters get together, exhibit their work, with all the attendant press, details (food, music, etc.) in tow, and also sell their work at this event.
Maybe this idea can be adapted to the real indie film world because;
- film festivals, most of them (or at least many of them), as we know them now, draw significant attention & attendance from the general public but are not events whose primary mission it is to enable filmmakers to receive money from the public directly, at the event, for their work (either from screenings or DVD sales)
The event could include indie filmmakers as the primary organizers but significant inp…
"After years of hard work, the Austin Asian American Film Foundation has arrived. Our unique foundation promises to bring the best in Asian and Asian American cinema to Austin. Texas may seem like an odd location for an Asian film foundation, but we are the fastest growing minority in an already lively and vibrant Asian community. We are supported by the University of Texas, Austin Film Society and many Asian organization. This October we are proud to present:
The 1st Annual Austin Asian American Film Festival will be held on October 9-12th, 2008. Our four day event will have exciting screenings, thought provoking panels, great parties and many filmmakers in attendance.
This year we are proud to announce our festival will be held at the Alamo Drafthouse. Recently voted “Best Theatre in America”, the Alamo takes our festival to the next level!"
It's that time of the year again folks; the "sleepy"? town of Silver Spring, MD turns into a pretty gigantic celebration of documentary films, doc filmmaking, & doc filmmakers. I'll post links to all my posts about SilverDocs '08 on this page, so that we may locate them with ease in the future.
6/27 update: This page is missing a few links, will add them next week. In the meantime, click on the blog's title, go to the top of the blog & scroll down to see a few SilverDocs entries.
You can't take three steps in the indie/art/specialty film blog world these days without running into a post about the glorious & revolutionary days of '68 Paris. So, for us kids who were not yet born when all that happened, the new doc Generation 68 might be interesting & perhaps even educational. From the SilverDocs site:
"Simon Brook’s raucous exploration of the pivotal year of the 1960s is a tale of many cities––London, Paris, New York and Prague––and a record of revolution.
The music was fabulous, fashion was fun, sex was safe, and flower power blossomed. Meanwhile, American cities burned with race riots, Martin Luther King was assassinated two months before Robert F. Kennedy was killed, the flowers of a Prague spring were trampled by Soviet tanks, and a war raged on in Vietnam.
Brook is most interested in the youthful exuberance that bubbled to the top of the seemingly placid social status quo, revealing the roiling conflicts of racial injustice, sexual polit…
Jonathan Marlow's wake up call to some indie filmmakers is getting read & commented on over at GreenCine Daily. Here is my comment re: the post, might be of interest & use to some indie filmmakers in dealing with the challenge of distribution & making money from distribution:
"Lots of people check out indie films at festivals, so, that's a positive starting point; people are willing to pay money & give time to watching indie movies in a theater type setting under certain conditions/at festivals.
Groups of indie filmmakers could work together to create new festivals; ones where some of the ticket sales $s can go to the filmmakers.
Another production/distribution option is to approach indie filmmaking & distribution not from a Hollywood or indiewood model, but from an independent music model; the artists make the work, tour & bring the work to audiences at whatever venues (clubs, theaters, etc.), and a home version of the work (DVD in the indie film c…
Michael Guillen interviews Peter X. Feng, University of Delaware associate professor of film and author of Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video. From the interview:
"Guillén: Though I’m aware that you were trying to focus on the history of Asian representation and—as you say—the Asian experience in more or less classic Hollywood film, I’m curious what your thoughts are on some of the more contemporary Asian American filmmakers like Gregg Araki or Eric Byler, or Asian directors like Ang Lee?
Feng: I have different thoughts about all those filmmakers. I really love Gregg Araki’s films. Mysterious Skin was amazing. I love his earlier films and I’ve shown his films when I teach my film class; but, I thought Mysterious Skin—without compromising what made him completely unique and bizarre—was more a professional film. Eric Byler is a really intelligent filmmaker who really understands contemporary sexual politics between Asian Americans. That’s what his films have tended …
Time to take a little break from The DC (area) & take a quick trip out to the city of cities to hang out, network, etc. I'll be in NYC this weekend, w/ a bunch of Date Number One screener DVDs, if any filmmakers/bloggers/film fans/others want to hang out, let me know. I think I'll have the most time available for hanging out on Sat 5/31.
The movies I planned on showing at Lo-Def/Jackie's Back Room will now be shown at Capital City Microcinema/Kensington Row Bookshop. Jackie's is interested in showing only shorts in the future (easier to incorporate food service, etc.) and I want to show a lot of indie features, thus the June - September screenings had to be moved to another venue. I am still planning on swinging by Jackie's often for the yummy food & to see what kind of art/entertainment events they'll have going on in the Back Room.
Capital City Microcinema will happen on Fri nights, once a month. At the moment I am working on shows for June - September. June show on Fri, June 27, 7 PM, several short films, info. soon. July - September shows will be features. Same deal as Lo-Def for filmmakers; $100 screening fee for showing a feature, $25 for shorts/participating in a shorts program by screening one or more shorts.
CCM line up for the coming months & completed site coming soon.
From about 1992, the year I dropped out of film school, 'till about 1998, the year I shot my first feature, I went to see a lot of indie/punk bands in DC, read zines, hung out with people involved in the DC area indie scene, even worked briefly at Dante's (restaurant run by DC punk people) & Black Cat (one of the few large indie rock clubs in DC). And I still try to keep up with what my favorite bands & labels from the 90's are up to these days. So, to me the indie music world is a real and working thing, not an experiment. So it is very easy for me to translate elements of the indie music culture into my filmmaking & distribution work. The CD = the DVD, the live show = theatrical type or large screen screening at a venue, the zine = the blog, concern with politics & the well being of the world = same, etc.
The business model, or one business model that would work well for real indie film is the indie rock model. In both cases artists are creating wo…
Yes, it's a promo piece for a company that indiewood company Focus Features does business with, but nevertheless, the article is about an interesting development in Mexico; from the article:
" "We realized that the success of [Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonazalez Innaritu and Guillemo del Toro] was a special moment, but then there was nothing happening on the ground in Mexico. There was no grass-roots [activity]. So, Canana can use the power [Gael and Diego] have as stars and public figures and be useful to the industry." "
"Whisky is one of many films supported and distributed by The Global Film Initiative, a U.S.-based distributor with one of the most dynamic distribution models in today's international film market. Co-founded in 2003 by Susan Weeks Coulter and Noah Cowan [of the Toronto International Film Festival], the Initiative touts itself as a "full service" distributor of films from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, offering production grants to filmmakers and a multi-platform release that includes a full year of high profile screenings through one of the most lauded touring festivals in the U.S. and Canada, Global Lens."
" "At the Death House Door," directed by Steve James and Peter Glibert (the director and producers of “Hoop Dreams”), is a gripping, fascinating, powerful film about Pickett, about a wrongly-executed man named Carlos De Luna and his family, and about the tragic moral mistake that is the death penalty. Pickett's character unfolds with a stately grace. Being an old-fashioned Texan, he's reluctant to reveal his emotions, a trait which only makes them burn with more ferocity as you see them shine through, as you watch an amazing evolution of a man's feelings and ideology. It’s a rare and stunning transformation to see in a documentary, or in life in general."
The Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker advices indie filmmakers not to get too hung up on having the latest camera or editing program for their movies. From the post:
"Film cameras have been around forever and they all still shoot at 24 fps.I can take an Arri, an Aaton, a CP, or an old Éclair and run a roll of film through it and it’ll look great.I can also shoot with a Canon XL1 or a Sony PD150 and it will look great as well.As long as I light it correctly."
"It is the same thing with software and editing equipment.Find an editing program that you like and learn it backward and forward.Up grade only when you have too.Remember, many classic films were edited with a razor blade and tape."
Marlow talks about something I've brought up a few times at this blog. From the article:
"The festival circuit has instead become an ersatz distribution system unto itself that, for the most part, keeps money away from the makers. The ten or 20 dollars you spend on a ticket (or the $50 to $500 you spend on a pass) rarely finds its way into the hands of the folks behind the camera."
Read the rest of the long GreenCine Daily article here.
4 years after I wrote the first words of the Date Number One script, the final version of the movie has been screened once to the public and is now on its way to festivals, and homes, offices, and home offices of various interested people. Even though I've blogged a lot about the movie at this blog and elsewhere during the past 4 years, I felt that it was necessary to write a new & somewhat lengthy introduction/promotion piece for the movie, maybe something like a director's statement; with the simple, short description of the movie inside. So that long introduction has been written, check it out here. It will probably accompany film fest applications, press packets sent to screening venues, and the retail DVD (maybe it could be the insert).
Baltimore based filmmaker Armando Valle came to Silver Spring on Thu. night to check out Date Number One at Lo-Def screening #1. From Armando's blog:
"Last night, I drove down to Silver Spring, MD, for a screening of DC filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake's 'Date Number One'. The event took place at Jackie's (8081 Georgia Ave), just a few blocks from the AFI Silver Spring theater. Sujewa is working with Jackie's management to program a series of local shorts and features all thru this summer (the next screening looks to be on June 26th).'Date Number One' is a charming, DIY feature romantic-comedy presenting a refreshing, positive outlook on the trials of contemporary dating.A multi-ethnic cast, among them a seductive Indian man, a french-speaking hottie, a curvy blonde seeking a blissful three-way bi-sexual relationship, a Buddhist African-American woman, and a lonely career Ninja seek love in the modern city. The episodic film, completed through a long per…
photos copyright 2008 sujewa ekanayake * here's 5 of about 17 photos from the 5/22 screening of Date Number One, more soon perhaps. photos 1-3: people checking out Date Number One. about 25 people were there; they dug the movie, eat, drank, hung out, & had a good time. photo 4: the brains behind Lo-Def; Sujewa & Jackie (owner of Jackie's) photo 5: Jackie & friends photo 6: after the show, in front of Back Room; John Stabb, Amanda Haynes, Sujewa, J. Kim (whose short film 1 on 1 we'll show on 6/26 @ Lo-Def), & J. Kim's wife whose name sadly I do not recall at the moment photo 7: wide shot, outside the Back Room Lo-Def #2 happens on June 26! Get ready, see ya there. - Sujewa
5/25 update: no 1 week run of DNO @ Back Room this summer, venue is too busy, however, the other Lo-Def screenings (June, July, August) planned thus far are still on (will update if those changes).
I am glad (& am a little bit surprised) that Lo-Def #1 came off as well as it did (tons of impossible deadlines had to be met, but in the end it all came together). Photos & notes tomorrow (sleep now).
Some of the fruit of Lo-Def #1:
- DNO will get a week (maybe more) long run in Silver Spring, @ Back Room @ Jackie's, this summer, dates coming soon
- had to finish the new version of DNO (nothing like a screening deadline/one for your own event - as motivation), instead of keeping on editing it forever; the film is vastly improved (a little more sound work needed in A Romantic Dinner For 3, this weekend, and then that's it, no more editing, screeners going out to people & places & indie film events on Monday, & very soon (June) limited DVD sales/from my site for the m…
"...Texas Snow is a well-crafted film. The cinematography is quite good, and Coffman is content, in places, to simply allow the camera to observe, to capture subtle details of a space, such as an apartment or an art gallery. The twentysomething characters certainly brought back memories of my own late nights during graduate school, and I think Coffman is attentive to the nuances of character and dialogue,..."
The LO-DEF Screening Event & Wild Diner Films presents: A writer, A ninja, A woman who is working on saving the world, and a guy who works at a bookstore searching for love in DATE NUMBER ONE http://datenumberone08.blogspot.com/ A movie by new director Sujewa Ekanayake Thu May 228 PMFREEThe Back Room @ Jackie'shttp://moviesatjackies.blogspot.com/8081 Georgia Ave.Silver Spring, MD 20910 Event contact: Sujewa Ekanayake, email@example.com, 240-354-3394 Date Number One, a comedy about several first dates, is made up of 4 different stories: Story 1 - Start Over, about a writer who tries to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Story 2 - 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 3 - A Romantic Dinner For 3, about a woman attempting to add a third partner to a romantic relationship, and Story 4 - The Superdelicious French Lesson, about a first date where a character learns a l…
Well, that depends on the venue. In a small room, say one that seats around 50 - 100, it may be perfectly fine to screen using a DVD. I know Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker has successfully screened (without technical problems) his movies quite possibly hundreds of times thus far using DVDs. I've also screened Date Number One about 20 times so far, to crowds that range from 25 - 100, using DVDs.
HOWEVER, some venues may have trouble using DVDs; not sure why this exactly is, 'cause DVD players work perfectly fine for millions of people - so, it is a good idea to have your movie on Beta or DigiBeta or some other pro tape format. Also, many film festivals may also request your movie on a pro tape format for their screenings.
Another option is to screen using MiniDV. I've tried this - using a MiniDV camera as the playback source, works fine. If you have a feature you'd have to get it on a MiniDV or DV tape that can hold it (i think some…
One of the key venues that aids in the growth/revival of real indie filmmaking (we are still in the early phase of this current - digital filmmaking & ultra-low/"no" budget & blogs & fests & self-distribution & DVD enabled - version of the movement I think, as opposed to the 16 MM, fests & distribution companies enabled indie scene of the 80's on) in the US is the Pioneer Theater in Manhattan. And for many filmmakers, the Pioneer Theater means Ray Privett. But now, after four years of extremely essential work, Ray is moving on to other projects; from the New York Sun:
"...the Pioneer is not just a small venue supporting emerging artists, but the epicenter of an independent film scene that has long since been squeezed out of most cities — and is currently being forced out of Manhattan — in favor of corporate-owned independent theater chains that cater to the specialty divisions of major movie studios.
As we have taken ideas & methods from indie rock, Hollywood, indiewood & wherever else in building DIY filmmaking & distribution practices over the years, I am taking a closer look at the film festival world; people like film festivals, a lot of them are well marketed & well attended (certainly more so than most DIY screenings) - so, there are probably practices in the film fest production & marketing world that can be adapted to serve DIY screenings well. Here's a starting point, an article called Promoting A Film Festival For The Long Tail: A Digital Marketing Case Study.
Got Chris Hansen's latest film the short Clean Freak in the mail today. Also received a feature called Dog Me: Potluck (IMDB), (official site) by Silver Spring, MD based filmmaker M. David Lee III. Looking forward to checking these two flicks out when I get some down time later this month.
Everything takes 50x longer in DIY filmmaking & self-distribution because a lot of things are being done by one person & when there is a free/non-day job & other-stuff-that-has-to-get-done moment. And that's cool, every situation has its down sides; I am sure indiewood & Hollywood filmmakers have complaints about their situations too. Even though a lot needs to happen over the next couple of days before the Thu screening of the new version of DNO in Silver Spring, I am going to try to cut & post up a trailer for DNO tomorrow.
Will have screener DVDs of the new version of DNO this weekend. Retail DVDs at some point soon (probably after I figure out if I am doing a longer ru…
"In an unprecedented television event, ABC News is asking you to help create a story that has yet to unfold. What will our world look like in one hundred years if we don't save our troubled planet?
You, our reporters from the future, will invent short videos from the years 2015, 2050, 2070, and 2100. The ideas and events in your videos will be combined with the projections of top scientists, historians, and economists to form a powerful web-based narrative about the dangers of our current path.
The most compelling reports will also form the backbone of the two-hour prime time ABC News special: Earth 2100, airing this fall."
Hopefully some people will create videos that also focus on the benefits of aspects of the "current path" of the world, not just the "dangers". Sounds like it could be an interesting program, also a good way to influence the creation of the future/how…
If indie film, and specially the real indie side of the indie film world, were a business (it actually is, but stay with me here), we would eventually need to find out how many customers there are/were in a given time period in order to extrapolate how much $s the business generates in order to plan for the future, etc. So, one way to go about this, to figure out the shape - $s wise - of this indie film thing is to take a look at attendance at film festival. To that end, here are some notes & links. You could multiply the numbers by 10 or 20 or more (at the last film fest I went to I spent at least $50 I think) to get a rough idea about the amount of money that may get spent just through ticket purchases at several film festivals. Of course a lot more $s get spent in related expenses: travel, lodging perhaps, food, merchandise, etc. The good news for filmmakers is that there are lots of people out there who will spend money to check out indi…
" Dear Fellow Film Lover, We're continuing our support of the Maryland Film Festival, but we need you to join us. We want you to become a Friend of the Festival. You'll see fantastic films year-round and get the chance to discuss them with the filmmakers themselves. A Friend of the Festival membership is simply a must for anyone who loves film. We've all lived and worked in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, so we know firsthand that it's home to great people and a fantastic place to shoot movies. In fact, we'd like more filmmakers to discover Maryland." Read the rest of the letter by Levinson, Waters, Simon at this page. If you were already a Friend of the Fest, you would have received an e-mail yesterday with info. on getting a free pass (for the 1st 50 Friends who responded) to watch Hitchcock's North by Northwest at the Charles Theater. So, go check out the progra…
In another Jarmusch movie + art museum event news item, MoCA Shanghai opens a new exhibit/project called Night On Earth tomorrow; from their site:
" MoCA Shanghai proudly presents Night On Earth, an innovative new project connecting a series of urban arts events in Berlin, Shanghai and Helsinki during the spring and summer of 2008. Night On Earth is an international co-production, generating a creative interaction between artists and the public through a series of intertwined events."
And a little bit more about the project from China Daily:
"Night On Earth is a three-part exhibition touring Berlin, Shanghai, and Helsinki. The exhibition is named after the Jim Jarmusch movie that follows five cabbies in five cities around the world on one crazy night. For their Shanghai stop, Asian and European artists thread together the urban cultures of three cities in one crazy exhibition."
"One of the pinnacles of the 1980s American independent movement, Stranger Than Paradise got its start as a thirty-minute short that Jim Jarmusch shot from leftover stock donated by director Wim Wenders. From that genesis, the $110,000 finished project evolved into the best picture of 1984 as voted by the National Society of Film Critics. Part of a new breed of indie auteurs, Jarmusch quickly ditched the Hollywood system and instead has made a career out of deadpan comedies that display a pastiche of influences as divergent as Japan’s Yasujiro Ozu and TV’s The Honeymooners."
For the June 26th screening event at Lo-Def in Silver Spring, MD, I will be showing about 1.5 to 2 hours worth of short films. Shorts by James M. Johnston & Amir Motlagh & J. Kim will be there. If you have a short film that you would like to screen in Silver Spring, MD, mail me a DVD screener of it to:
The usual plan at Lo-Def is to pay feature filmmakers a $100 screening fee (most of the time we will be screening features). For the shorts program each filmmaker will receive a screening fee of $25, since, most likely, there will be 6 or more filmmakers showing at the event.
Most likely the shorts screening will be a repeated event (different films, filmmakers each time), so even if your short does not make it in for 6/26, there i…
Since I now live only 4 hours or so, on the bus, from NYC, I don't really have to pack up everything & make a big move all at once to NYC; I can do it gradually, & hopefully less painfully. Step 1: weekends. Thanks to friends, things are now set for me to start living in NYC PT - mostly weekends, & maybe 3-4 days on some special weeks, starting around June 28. I hope to make living in NYC a full time thing by the end of the year, or earlier. And since MD/DC will be only 4 hours/$20 or so away when that happens, it shouldn't be too traumatic. Looking forward to exploring NYC, hanging out, meeting new people, and making movies in a new city, starting June 28.
L-R; Barry Levinson, Maryland Film Festival Director Jed Dietz, MFF programmer Skizz Cyzyk, at the 2008 Maryland Film Festival (photo by Jason Putsche) *Sujewa: I guess, barring any obvious/unavoidable signs like total poverty/homelessness/being banished from the land or death, the judgment on the quality of the times we live in is based on how optimistic or pessimistic we are; and I think at the core people who are involved in film - perhaps specially indie film - have to be very optimistic people because there are so many challenges to overcome in getting movies made and shown, even in this digital enhanced age of filmmaking & distribution; so I naturally think we live in a great time period for indie film - real indie movies - like many of the ones that were screened at your festival this past weekend, are being taken seriously (more then they have been in the past, w/ out having a well known director name or a slumming Hollywood star or some kind of a news worthy/very high $ Su…
YEAST Q+A at MD Film Fest 08, left-to-right: Yeast producer Marc Raybin, co-star Benny Safdie, star Greta Gerwig, writer/director/star Mary Bronstein, host Matthew Porterfield (director of Hamilton)(photo by George Hagegeorge, courtesy of Maryland Film Festival)
Sujewa - Hi Mary. Even though the title of this interview refers to Yeast being a "gloriously uncomfortable situation", based on what a lot of reviewers have been saying about the movie thus far, I did not think the movie was very brutal - probably because, even though Yeast's main character Rachel is kinda difficult to like, I think she probably means well. Were you nervous about creating an unlikeable (to many) lead character to build your first feature around, or did you think that the character & her situation was a great thing to explore/show when you first came up with the idea?
Mary -I really didn't feel nervous about presenting this character or these ideas to the world. Perhaps this was naive, I&…
When the DNO trailer is ready, it'll be here, plus any other DNO related stuff, between now and 5/23. Several exciting non-DNO stuff coming to this blog after 5/23; a Mary Bronstein (Yeast director) interview, a Jed Dietz (Maryland Film Festival Director) interview, perhaps a James Spooner (White Lies, Black Sheep director) interview, plus reviews (or at least mini-reviews, or at worst link roundups to reviews) of several new real indie movies. See ya then. & see ya on Thu 5/22 @ Back Room @ Jackie's @ 8 PM (doors @ 7 PM, FREE show, so get there early - small venue) if you live near Silver Spring, MD! * Go here for more info. on the screening. - Sujewa