BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer

DATE NUMBER ONE on Vimeo VOD

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc participant & NMWA Film & Media Arts Programmer KJ Mohr


KJ is showing some interesting movies at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I missed Sugar Cane Alley yesterday, but I plan on checking out some NMWA movies in the future. I interviewed KJ for Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc earlier this week. Go here for more info. on NMWA film events. Here's KJ's blog about food, film, & everything else. KJ is one of the 3 DC area people interviewed for the doc; other two being Erica Ginsberg from Docs In Progress & myself (we also have Armando Valle from Towson, MD, but that's Baltimore area). Photos of the other bloggers recently interviewed for the doc coming soon.
- Sujewa

Man On Wire video interview

At Cinema Echo Chamber.

- Sujewa

Editing, making DVDs, writing...

... be back in a couple of weeks.

- Sujewa

Hacker Ethic has raised $800 out of their $2500 IndieGoGo goal, with 43 days to go

Pretty impressive, check out the Hacker Ethic page at IndieGoGo. And of course you can join, & give some money, become a part of the doc project.

- Sujewa

Scarlett Cinema's Top 10 Movies That Deserves More Buzz (in 2008) list

Check it out.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on the destruction of a once powerful & useful symbol, or another good Dark Knight article

In a conversation I was having with someone yesterday, they said that I am the only person that they know who does not like The Dark Knight. I thought about that later, and, I think one of the main reasons for me not liking the movie is that TDK has taken an old symbol for justice and muddled it up, bled all the useful vitality out of it - thus I no longer respond positively to the symbol. Batman, in TDK, is no longer someone to admire for his service to society, but rather a vigilante to keep an eye on/check/stop because he tortures suspects, uses illegal/total wiretapping, and is used as a tool for rendition/kidnapping by the police. More on the destruction of a once positive symbol by another person who does not dig TDK; David Cox at the Guardian:

"All of which would doubtless be explained away easily enough by the scholars of Bat-philosophy. The ambiguity of it all is the point, see. We live in times when the distinction between good and evil has evaporated. That's why The Joker is good fun and Batman is a bore. Our fates depend on the flip of a coin, like those of the lawman's victims, not on what is right. Cool, man!

Whatever. Certainly, Hollywood's other superheroes also seem to be losing their moorings. Yet if they can offer us no succour, then their time has passed. The dark knight's ethical indigestion will be the death of him. For, without morality, there can be no saviours. Once you've arrived in Mad Max land, you don't need another hero."

Read the rest of Cox's article here.

- Sujewa

"Hacker Ethic" - letter from Brian Geldin re: a new IndieGoGo project


Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker" Geldin is producing a new documentary called Hacker Ethic. Check out his letter about the flick & IndieGoGo below:

"Hello, hope you're all having a fantastic summer!

I wanted to let you know about "Hacker Ethic," AMPeter's feature documentary
currently in production that explores the politics and culture of the latest
generation of hackers. Fundraising for the film is now officially open on this really cool online social marketplace known as IndieGoGo.com, whose innovative mantra is Do It With Others (DIWO). (FYI, AMPeters is a contributing notetaker
here at The Film Panel Notetaker, and I am one of the producers for "Hacker
Ethic.")

Help us reach our goal of raising $2,500 on IndieGoGo in our first round of
fundraising. Funds will go toward camera, lighting & sound equipment rental. As
of today (July 29), we have 45 days to reach our goal, and we can only do it
with your help. There are several levels of donations you can contribute to, and
each comes with perks. The more you contribute, the more you receive. And once
we have met that goal, we can move onto our next round of fundraising.
For more information on "Hacker Ethic" and to make a contribution, please go to
the following link. Once there, be sure to click on the "Contribute Now" icon:
http://www.indiegogo.com/project/view/646

Thank you very much for your support on behalf of AMPeters, dinomonster films
and the "Hacker Ethic" production crew!

Best regards,
Brian Geldin"
- Sujewa

NYPD storm troopers

Yes, I know, the reference to the Nazi's gets old after a while, but, we still use it because it clearly conveys the idea; these people are not good guys. Yes, cops have a tough job (don't sign up if you can't handle it), but what's worse than being abused by people that you (or others like you) pay to protect you? Nothing. Check out two videos of NYC's "finest" in horrible action at The Obenson Report. And yes, I know there are a lot of good cops (thanks & good job to you guys & ladies), but that does not excuse out of control cops like the ones shown in the videos. Those dudes in the video should be fired, and prosecuted for assault. Check out the videos at The Obenson Report. Police brutality should not be tolerated AT ALL, 'cause if you do, the next step is having to live in a police state - where the police rule society through illegal violence; not a pretty picture/situation to live in.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hung out with M. David Lee III, one of the few indie feature filmmakers in the DC area





Pictured above: Scenes from M. David Lee III's new movie Slow Down...You're Dating Too Fast!
And seeing David's photo of me at his blog reminds me that I badly need a shave; looking like a mountain man in that photo :)

Slow Down...You're Dating Too Fast! is David's new movie, now available on DVD. Here's the intro to the story:

"Life is too fast… work too stressful… and sex, well let’s just say it’s not all fairly tales and flowers. So how does a busy person, in the hustle and bustle of the world today find time to have a “meaningful" relationship? Like everything else in life, you just have to speed up the process!See what happens when five, relatively well adjusted adults try to find love in the 21st Century?"

More here.

Check out David's site here, he's made 4 features so far, all low budget, real indie efforts. One inspired by the Dogme95 filmmaking approach.

More on David's movies in the near future. We are planning a screening night for our movies soon.

To get in touch with David for a screener, if you are interested in checking out his movies & reviewing them, go here (or e-mail David).

- Sujewa

Sugar Cane Alley and other upcoming screenings at NMWA in DC

Upcoming film screenings at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC, also a workshop organized by NMWA:

"Wednesday, July 30 at 7pm
Sisters in Cinema: Euzhan Palcy’s Sugar Cane Alley
Euzhan Palcy was the first Black woman to direct a feature film in Hollywood, A Dry White Season in 1989. SUGAR CANE ALLEY (Rue cases nègres, 1983, 35mm, 103 min., French with English subtitles) is Palcy’s first feature. This compelling story follows an orphaned boy and his grandmother as they struggle to escape from the shantytowns surrounding a sugar plantation in Martinique. ASL interpretation will be provided for the discussion.
Members, Seniors, Students: $4, General $5.
*
Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, August 20 at 1pm
Thursday, August 28 at noon
MR DIAL HAS SOMETHING TO SAY
MR DIAL HAS SOMETHING TO SAY (Celia Carey, 2007, 57 min.) is a fascinating and expertly crafted documentary that explores the topic of racism and classism in the elite world of the American visual arts, focusing on the experiences of Thornton Dial, a 79 year old “self-taught” artist from Alabama, and featuring prominently the women from Gee’s Bend. The artists and leading art critics, curators and cultural theorists explore these important and poignant issues. Has African-American improvisational visual art been disregarded by the mainstream art world as less important? Have terms such as “outsider,” “visionary,” “primitive,” “folk,” “self-taught,” and “naïve”—all of which have been applied to this particular style—downgraded the importance of this art? Admission for this program is FREE.
*
Wednesday, August 27 at 7pm
Sisters in Cinema: Cheryl Dunye’s Short Films
Filmmaker in person!
Join us for a special screening of the short films of Cheryl Dunye (Watermelon Woman, My Baby’s Daddy) and a discussion with the feted filmmaker. The program will include a documentary about Dunye’s research for the making of her HBO award winning feature film Stranger Inside, in which Dunye conducts a screenwriting workshop with inmates at a correctional facility in Minnesota, and also collaborates with renowned photographer Catherine Opie. Also included in the program: GREETINGS FROM AFRICA (1994, 16mm, 8 min.), which mixes film with video as Cheryl (played by the director) humorously experiences the mysteries of lesbian dating in the 90’s; the hilarious queer film classic THE POTLUCK AND THE PASSION (1993, video, 30 min.), which explores racial, sexual and social politics at a lesbian potluck; the self-refletive SHE DON’T FADE (1991, video, 24 min); and others. Members, Seniors, Students $4; General $5.
::
Sign up now for…Saturday, August 30 9:30am – 4:30pm
Sisters in Cinema: Role Model Workshop with Cheryl Coward
Express Yourself: Online Chapbooks with Cheryl Coward
Writer and multimedia designer Cheryl Coward leads this intensive workshop, in which students ages 13-18 use creative writing exercises and a web design tutorial to create a chapbook showcasing their writing and art.
Free! Reservations required. Call 202-783-7370 or email reservations@nmwa.org.

* Location: Computer Lab (Room 311) of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, in downtown Washington, D.C.

Sisters in Cinema is funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Reservations are recommended for all programs. For more information: (202) 783-7370 or reservations@nmwa.org

NATIONAL MUSEUM of WOMEN in the ARTS Theater
1250 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC
(Two blocks north of Metro Center)

All public areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible."

- Sujewa

Searching for female filmmakers on AFI's Top 100 list

Atlanta Film Festival's Charles Judson takes a look at AFI's Top 100 films list (the top 20 of the 100) for female directors, producers, writers. From the post:

"So I read the Hollywood to Women: Drop Dead post over on Indiewire. In it, it links to the recent studies about the low number of women behind the camera, on the screen and reviewing/critiquing films.

It got me to thinking. We've got a 100 years of film behind us, what has AFI chosen as the 20 best American films as of 2007. Surely, there's got to be some strong feminine energy--can you tell I used to write poetry--on that list.

Here's just some cursory observations:"

Read them at ATL 365 blog.

- Sujewa

Principal photography on Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc is done

At the moment I have about 13 hours of interview footage, featuring 12 bloggers, which is everything I need to start editing the feature length - 90 min. - doc.

In August I'll go back and finish an unfinished interview, and perhaps a couple of new interviews (mostly ones I could not get in July due to scheduling conflicts), and I will have to film a few segments where I am addressing the camera; intro, transitional, and outro segments, plus narraration, and then add music. But the footage featuring the 12 bloggers (KJ Mohr, self, Brian Geldin, Tambay Obenson, Gabe Wardell, Paula Martinez, Chuck Tryon, Erica Ginsberg, Noralil Ryan Fores, Armando Valle, Brandon Harris, Melissa Silverstein) will allow me to start creating the final shape of the film over the next couple of weeks.

I expect to have Indie Film Blogger Road Trip completed by the end of August.

- Sujewa

On beads and nudity

GreenCine interviews David Redmon about his doc Mardi Gras: Made in China.

I have not seen the doc, and I don't really see anything wrong with people volunteerly exchanging beads for nudity at party/carnival/festival type events (i mean, it that's what you really want to do), and I don't see how that activity in America is responsible for working conditions of some Chinese (working conditions are the responsibility of the employers, not the eventual customers of a product). So, after I see the doc, and whenever I run into David on the web or in real life, I am sure we'll have a lot to talk about :)

More about the doc at GreenCine Daily.

- Sujewa

Henry Miller Asleep and Awake

Check out the free SnagFilms selection of the day. First, about the movie, from SangFilms site:

"Filmed when the author was 81, HENRY MILLER ASLEEP AND AWAKE is a voyage of ideas about life, writing, sex, spirituality, nightmares, and New York that captures the warmth, vigor and high animal spirits of a singular American artist. The man is Henry Miller and the room is his bathroom. It’s a miraculous shrine covered with photos and drawings collected by the author over the course of his long and fruitful life. Graciously, in his raspy, sonorous voice, he points out the highlights of his improvised gallery, speaking of philosophers, writers, painters,mad kings, women, and friends."

And now, the movie:



- Sujewa

Monday, July 28, 2008

Visited the only museum in the world dedicated solely to art by women


According to KJ Mohr, Film & Media Arts Programmer at the museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC is the only museum of its kind in THE WORLD. Which, when you think about it, is kind of bizarre; the world is a huge place; with billions of people and hundreds of countries - and there's only 1 museum ON THIS WHOLE PLANET dedicated to art by women??? Well, on the bright side, I guess it's a start. I visited the museum today to interview KJ for Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc. Did a part of the interview, ran out of time, will be going back to interview KJ in August. Go here for more info. on the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

- Sujewa

Government funded blogs?

Someone may be dreaming up of a WPA/Federal Writers Project style government funded blog project; more at Steve Rosen's blog.

From Rosen's post: "There are already 112 million blogs worldwide, according to search engine Technorati, and these diary-like Internet web-logs provide 112 million running commentaries -- sometimes with video footage and sound -- on every aspect of politics, the arts, religion, sports, sex ... even daily updates on flying-saucer sightings. They comprise a genuine populist, democratic communications network. They're a public service and a worldwide and nationwide civic asset."

More at the post.

- Sujewa

Ingrid "Shooting People" Kropp interview at Infinicine

Another interesting interview to check out at Infinicine.

- Sujewa

Interviewed at Infinicine

About a week or so ago Laure at Infinicine (Laure also works for Zeitgeist Films - one of my favorite distributors) interviewed me for that site. Here is a segment of the interview, from Infinicine:

"[I]nfinicine: What do you think the biggest challenges have been for filmmakers in the past in distribution and getting their films out to the public and making money in the process?

Sujewa: I think the challenges for indie (working outside of Hollywood) filmmakers, when it comes to distribution, have always been pretty much the same; it takes a lot of money and a lot of work to properly or widely distribute a movie - at least theatrically, and then followed by various home entertainment options. However, few indie filmmakers (that I know of) have done theatrical distribution successfully. And many more have done distribution on DVD, etc. successfully. So both are possible to do."

Read the rest here.

- Sujewa

Home Page, a '99 doc about the web & life

Now I recall hearing about this movie (probably because Doug Block probably told me somewhere along the line that he made a movie called Home Page :), but had forgotten about it until Erica Ginsberg & I were talking earlier today in Silver Spring about documentaries that tackle the idea of communities that spring out of web activities. Would like to check it out sometime.

More on Home Page here.

- Sujewa

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip is the new title

The new title for the in-progress doc The Indie Film Bloggers is Indie Film Blogger Road Trip. More on that at the site.

Humans like to travel, we are a mobile species. We find many reasons for traveling; business, religious, traveling for the sake of traveling, to catch people who have skipped on bail bonds, to show movies at festivals and or at under-attended theaters, to play noisy music, whatever. The complex and noble idea of freedom itself can be illustrated well, and simply, using an image related to traveling. Since a key inspiration for the doc about indie film bloggers was a book of photos taken across America with text by a writer who became famous for a novel inspired by road trips, AND, since this approach will provide a very interesting structure to the movie, Indie Film Blogger Road Trip feels like a great title for the doc.

- Sujewa

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Report from the New York International Latino Film Festival

By Brandon Harris, at Filmmaker Magazine blog.

Baghead is better than The Dark Knight

Come to think of it, one of the lead dudes in Baghead (the one with the "elvis hair") might make a good Batman in the future.

Anyway, yeah, I enjoyed Baghead more than I enjoyed The Dark Knight (the last movie I saw at the theater, before Baghead). TDK was ultimately depressing (made even more depressing by the fact that a lot of people in America seem to think that TDK offers "deep ideas"), Baghead is unique (can't think of another movie that mixes a little bit of horror and a little bit of comedy and low key observational humor about filmmaking, & some relationship stuff), and is ultimately a feel good relationship comedy, and the plot is unpredictable for the most part.

Note: I missed the first ten or so minutes of Baghead, got lost on the subway a little between Queens and the Lower East Side, I came in at the point where the four leads are sitting at a restaurant? and come up with the idea to go to the cabin & make their own movie. Will need to catch the first 10 mins. or so later.

There is a plot to the movie, a good one, I won't give it away here.

Check out Baghead; it's fun, well acted, well written. Cinematography is not so great by traditional standards - looks similar to that of The Puffy Chair - as if someone was shooting it with a video camera on auto mode (quite a bit of unnecessarily out of focus stuff), and handheld; inexperienced handheld (shakes & half thought out - seemingly - movement that serves no real function). So either a stylistic choice or the person who shot it did the best that they could with personal and or logistical limitations of the moment. It should be noted that I watched Medicine for Melancholy a couple of hours before watching Baghead, and the MfM cinematography is excellent - in a traditional sense, and MfM was shot on video - perhaps the Duplass brothers should give MfM DP James Laxton a call for their next movie.

Movie was edited well. And I liked the overall simplicity of the movie; a little bit of music, pretty straightforward story, not a lot of time/moments wasted.

All four lead actors did a great job I thought.

So, Baghead, a comedy/romantic comedy of sorts with some horror genre elements that are genuinely scary; ultimately good entertainment.

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Got my interviews done, off to see Baghead

Interviewed Armando "Horror 101" Valle in Towson MD on Thu night, Brian "The Film Panel Notetaker" in Queens yesterday, and Melissa "Women & Hollywood" Silverstein in Brooklyn earlier today, all for The Indie Film Bloggers doc. The film work - until tomorrow evening in Silver Spring, MD - is done, now am off to relax with Baghead in Manhattan.

- Sujewa

Female film reviewer numbers

Women & Hollywood blog points to a study about the number of women engaged in writing film reviews for the nation's newspapers. Get the link to the study & a perspective on the numbers at Women & Hollywood.

- Sujewa

Friday, July 25, 2008

Photos of several Indie Film Bloggers


Check them out at The Indie Film Bloggers site.
Pictured here: Noralil Ryan Fores of ShortEnd Magazine
Photo Copyright 2008 Sujewa Ekanayake

Interviewed Horror 101's Armando Valle

Just got back from Towson, MD after interviewing Armando Valle from Horror 101 blog/site for The Indie Film Bloggers. Great interview, and Towson is a nice little town. Off to NYC next.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where the day job work week ends and the film work weekend begins

It's Thursday, so, off to film Armando Valle in Baltimore tonight, then a couple of indie film blogger interviews & hanging out in NYC Fri - Sun AM, & then a blogger interview back in Silver Spring, MD on Sun evening, followed by another blogger interview in DC on Mon. So, I'll be back posting at this blog on Tue.

This using the weekend for getting film work done (every other weekend lately) strategy is working well for me; try it if you have a day job during the week & are frustrated by not moving forward with your filmmaking work - set aside at least 2 weekends a month for your filmmaking work & follow through, no matter what (generally speaking). Using that strategy I have been able to shoot all the footage I need (by the end of this weekend) for the feature doc The Indie Film Bloggers, in less than 2 months. If necessary I plan on using the same strategy for shooting the upcoming fiction feature Actress (working title) in August & September. Also for Untitled New York Comedy that I plan on starting work on in October.

Also, equipment rental is cheaper on the weekends; I am getting a GL2 for about $80 for the weekend (Sat & Sun, Fri eve pick up, Mon AM return); an affordable price for this DIY filmmaker.

- Sujewa

A new post about an old band




At Limited Control, a new site created by a Jim Jarmusch fan, there is a links & YouTube clips filled post about Jarmusch's early 80's band The Del-Byzanteens; check it out.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MySpace Indie Filmmaking News Site

Check it out here. Posts from several interesting indie film/film blogs & sites show up there.

- Sujewa

Hey, I hung out with that dude in Atlanta

That dude being filmmaker Daniel Robin, one of Filmmaker's 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Congrats Daniel.

Go here to check out the Filmmaker profile of Robin.

From the Filmmaker page:

"A graduate of San Francisco State University, Robin is the creator of the Web series Neighborhood Stories, which he began in 2000, long before anyone knew what a Web series was. “I‘m into being self-contained and not depending on a crew,” he says. Next he is developing another Web series as well as a project about “family mythology” that may turn into a feature. Robin also recently moved from San Francisco to Atlanta to teach documentary film production at Georgia State University. He intends to use my olympic summer in his curriculum."

More here.

- Sujewa

Interview about making The New Year Parade

At ShortEnd Magazine, check it out. Here is a bit:

"SM: Talking a bit more about what you and Mark were doing aesthetically, you'd said in an interview with Brandon Harris over at Cinema Echo Chamber that you were concentrated on beauty shots, which would essentially be these interstitial shots between the scenes of main emotional action. Part of the way that you went about shooting these was just to follow the actors around for a few hours with a camera. It's a much more naturalistic way to work, and so I was hoping you could tell me about that, going around with the actors and just doing these very fluid, everyday action sequences.

TQ: I shot B-camera for a film called The Other America, which opened Slamdance a few years ago by a filmmaker from Philadelphia named Eugene Martin. He's really amazing, and it's something I learned working with him on set. He would put aside several days to just be with the actors in their environment. You weren't rushed to get dialogue pieces or even parts that were in the script. You had time to film everyday life, and by doing that for a day or two, it really opens up a character on screen."

A lot more at ShortEnd.

- Sujewa

Will need a place in NYC starting October 1

Well, after many years of talking about it, finally all the ingredients are right for me to move to NYC. In the next few weeks I will be looking for a room to rent in an apt. or house, I guess for around close to what I am paying here in the DC area (but, many variables in NYC, I know), so maybe in the $600 - $800 range (less the better of course, but, I'd like to live in a relatively OK neighborhood). I'll probably end up in Brooklyn or Queens. It would be cool to live with other indie film or film types (the shared houses & apts of indie rockers in DC in the 90's was a great social & creative space). And of course if the price, location, etc. is good a studio or 1 bedroom apt. could be cool too (may be worth the extra $s) - just myself as it was in Chicago. Let me know if you hear of any good places/housing options I should check out.

So, October 1 is the target date for the official start of the living in NYC thing.

And that month I'd like to start collaborating with some filmmakers I know in NYC & start creating, possibly (this might ultimately end up being something that I direct myself, but, we'll see), a feature made up of several short films dealing with one common subject or event. A "no" budget, some evenings & some weekends, most likely DV, project.

So, we have a clear place (NYC), time (October 1), a clear thing (moving to NYC), and a not so clear another thing (making a collaborative feature - possibly); so, a lot of the key elements needed for a new story are in place :)

I wonder how living in NYC will affect my blogging; blogging now is a way to connect with other indie filmmakers & indie film bloggers in relatively far off places/mostly NYC I think (not many who make fiction features or blog about indie film as much as I do live near me now, so, the blog is a door to a virtual community), but when I can talk to these people in person & hang out, will I still blog as much? Probably. I'll probably find some new angle (related to film, about filmmaking, etc.) to explore through this & other blogs of mine (will definitely have to get busy on the Indie Fabulous NYC blog, on hold at the moment). Maybe then the blogging will be about what it is like to be a DIY filmmaker living in & making movies in NYC (& also blogging), among other things. Who knows. But should be fun.

I'll also have to work out the work/day job situation; probably will keep working the DC area job in the weekdays 'till I find something I like in NYC even after the move (since DC is only like 4 hours away on a fast & cheap-ish bus (not a Chinatown bus, I am off those if I can help it), I can do like a 4 day work week in DC & be in NYC 3 days, for a while; got a place to stay when I am in DC). So, another item for the 2 Do list this summer & fall - job hunt in NYC.

Anyway, let me know if you hear of any cool places that I can rent in NYC starting October 1 (see para 1 for more on what I am looking for). Thanks.

- Sujewa

FilmInFocus's Behind the Blog spotlights Chuck Tryon

Check out The Chutry Experiment's Chuck Tryon getting the FilmInFocus Behind the Blog spotlight right here.

Congrats Chuck.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"People who want shit real bad are good people to make movies about" - Jay Duplass

That and other nuggets of Duplass brothers wisdom at a Filmmaker Mag interview conducted by James Ponsoldt; check it out.

- Sujewa

Congrats Barry "Medicine for Melancholy" Jenkins on Filmmaker's 25 list

25 New Faces of Independent Film 2008 at Filmmaker Magazine.

From the Jenkins profile:

"The film‘s reclamation of the definition of “urban African American,” usually pictured either gang-related (in Hollywood) or not at all (in the mumblecore scene), is a further statement, especially in relation to urban (and cinematic) gentrification. “M4M illustrates how the effects of gentrification make it virtually impossible for minority urbanites to just ‘be,‘ and explores the resulting process of negotiating one‘s identity,” notes the director. “[The leads] represent two sides of a conversation heretofore absent from cinema‘s representation of the black experience.”"

Read the rest about Jenkins & Medicine for Melancholy at Filmmaker.

- Sujewa

Hammer to Nail vs. The Dark Knight fanboy film critics

At Hammer to Nail Micheal Tully criticizes the critics and urges them to wake up from the sloppy spell cast on them by The Dark Knight. From the post:

"Throughout the film, there were many moments when I had absolutely no idea what was going on. And then it hit me. This is the type of movie where lack of actual grounding passes for heightened intellectualism. For viewers, they always feel like they’re playing catch up, and when they do get enough of a handle on what is happening to realize it, they feel doubly excited, because they’re smart enough to play along with this fast-paced, hyper-smart storytelling! But I thought you critics would understand that this isn’t hyper-smart storytelling. It’s lazy writing that is only concerned with propelling itself to the next action sequence, or, God forbid, next speech. Or, to put it another way: there is nothing to latch onto whatsoever. How is one supposed to care about a world that has lost its morality when the world isn’t even somewhat fully formed? The Dark Knight is a collection of superficially dazzling set pieces. It isn’t a movie."

Read the rest of the long post at Hammer to Nail.

- Sujewa

Blogs of the 1st 12

By end of Mon 7/28 I should have interview footage with the writers of the following 12 blogs for my doc The Indie Film Bloggers. After that I need to get a couple of interviews with a couple of "old time" indie film bloggers in NYC - in August, at some point. In the list below we have an academic blogger, couple of filmmaker/bloggers, a film/video programmer for a national art museum/blogger, an online film magazine editor/blogger, a film festival executive director blogger & a film festival managing director blogger - that's just some aspects of the lives of some of the bloggers interviewed so far - with additional aspects being revealed in the interview footage. Check out the blog links for the 1st 12 for now; will pull descriptions, names, & blogs together for a future post; a who's who for the doc if you will. A little bit of mystery & detective work is good for now :) Anyway, the list:

Blogs of the 1st 12 bloggers interviewed* for The Indie Film Bloggers
(*some are schedueled to be interviewed by 7/29/08)

The Chutry Experiment

Women & Hollywood

Docs Interactive

The Obenson Report

Cinema Echo Chamber

Gabe's Declaration of Principles

Armando Valle

The Film Panel Notetaker

ShortEnd Magazine's blog and ShortEnd Magazine

Paula's After Thoughts

My World Bank Lunches

DIY Filmmaker Sujewa

Check out those blogs, get a feel for the opinionated & entertaining personalities behind them, & imagine hanging out with all of them at a party & talking about indie film & related matters, and that may give you a taste of the Indie Film Bloggers experience that awaits you when that flick gets done & out.

- Sujewa

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rick Schmidt's novel Black President


Rick Schmidt, filmmaker, author of Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices and Extreme DV , & an essential figure in the modern history of DIY film, has written a novel called Black President. From the publisher's website:

"Rick Schmidt’s prescient political thriller – he wrote the first draft pre-9/11 – is a brilliant historical gallop through half a century of subterfuge, civil rights stand-off, scandal and conspiracy, from the Bay of Pigs to the Twin Towers and beyond. Taking as his starting-point JFK’s well-documented promiscuity, Schmidt opens with the President’s seduction of a devout, married, African-American woman. Within two and a half years of the couple’s single encounter, JFK is assassinated. In a haunting blend of pathos, courage and ambition, and against all conceivable adversity, their son rises from poverty to attain America’s highest office.

Schmidt skillfully weaves together the most important events and prominent figures of US modern history, reinterpreting events with the benefit of hindsight and an in-depth knowledge of the greatest American conspiracy theories. He takes us into Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom, J. Edgar Hoover’s wardrobe and JFK’s cabinet meetings. From here, he leads us into the brutality of assassination – JFK, Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy – and thence to the quagmire of Vietnam.

A stirring and topical must-read.

About the Author:

California-based Rick Schmidt is the writer/director of over twenty independent features. These include the iconoclastic Emerald Cities and Sundance Grand-Prize nominated Morgan’s Cake, released since his feature film debut of A Man, a Woman, and a Killer (co-directed with Wayne Wang, Joy Luck Club, Smoke, etc.). Schmidt’s bestselling guides, Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices and Extreme DV (Penguin Books), are considered classics.

Black President is his first novel."

More at publisher Picnic Publishing's site.

- Sujewa

Filming in Baltimore, NYC, Silver Spring, MD & Washington, DC Thu 7/24 - Mon 7/28

And that's the latest re: The Indie Film Bloggers.

- Sujewa

Docs Interactive's Top 10 Online Resources for Documentary Filmmakers

Check out the list at Docs Interactive blog.

- Sujewa

Paula Martinez on writers, print film criticism, and blogging

Paula Martinez, one of the bloggers interviewed for my new doc The Indie Film Bloggers, & the Managing Director of the Atlanta Film Festival, blogs about the question who is a writer (with a capital W) and the changes happening in the world of film journalism and criticism; from Paula's post:

"This leads us to the other issue: Does the loss of paid (mostly newsprint) movie critics threaten the industry with the loss of writers? Gabe argues that losing paid critics (ie: Eleanor Ringel from the AJC, Nathan Lee from the Village Voice) jeopardizes critics' authority and compromises journalistic writing standards. He feels as though these people will stop writing reviews and critiques altogether since they are no longer employed. I disagree. First of all, I defer back to my original definition of a Writer. I argue that if these writers stop writing simply because they are not getting paid, then they are not true writers. To be a Writer, one must write - paid or not. So, I believe that the true writers will still write, probably even more creatively and possibly be more brutally honest than when employed by an authoritative print source."

More at Paula's blog.

- Sujewa

530 posts for '08 so far

1 post a day for a whole year would equal 365 posts, and I am already at 530 posts - at a little past the mid point of the year, so, I can take it easy on posting for the rest of the year & put more effort into finishing up my summer & fall film projects.

- Sujewa

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gypsy punk road trip movie

From SangFilms:

"In the summer of 2004, on a car journey through Eastern Europe, Pavla Fleischer falls in love with Eugene Hutz. Hutz is the lead singer of New York’s Gypsy Punk band Gogol Bordello. THE PIED PIPER OF HUTZOVINA follows Eugene and Pavla on a road trip through Eugene’s home country, Ukraine."

Check out the movie below:



- Sujewa

About women at the box office this weekend

Check out Women & Hollywood blog's post Women at the box office this weekend; a list of female-centric films in theaters & notes on Mama Mia.

- Sujewa

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What are some good east coast (closer to DC/NYC the better) indie film festivals to check out in the fall?

I enjoyed this year's Maryland Film Festival (happened in May), and am a fan of SilverDocs (happened in June), and I like the people who run the Atlanta Film Festival (happened in April), so, since those early-part-of-the-year festivals are (or will be next year) fun/interesting events to attend, what are some good fests to check out, if possible, in the fall & beyond - this year? Leave suggestions in comments (w/ links, URL to fest sites if/when possible). I may end up visiting Seattle (very likely, family) & LA & possibly San Francisco (slim chances for visiting those two CA cities) this year, but other than that, I'll mostly be in the east coast - DC/NYC area - but am not against long drives or train or bus rides - or if really needed, flying. So, maybe recommendations for east coast - close to DC/NYC fests will be best. But feel free to point to any indie film fests happening in the US this fall, any that you think will be fun/interesting. Thanks.

- Sujewa

Directors of this summer's blockbusters came from the indie film world

From Guardian's End of Indie? article:

"Meanwhile, mainstream Hollywood has, one might argue, not simply co-opted indiedom, but also been taken over by its sensibility, just as the Corman kids transformed the studios 35 years ago. Look at this summer's tentpole superhero movies, directed by, inter alia, Peter Berg, Jon Favreau and Christopher Nolan (and let's not forget Sam Raimi of the Spider-Man trilogy) - all with watertight indie origins. Last year's indie is this year's establishment: Soderbergh, Linklater, Fincher, PT Anderson, the Coens, Wes Anderson, John C Reilly, Charlie Kaufman and so on."

Read the rest of the article at the Guardian site.

- Sujewa

Yet another reason to stay away from the Beijing olympics

No "blacks & Mongolians" in Beijing bars says China, according to this South China Morning Post article.

Thanks The Obenson Report for the link.

- Sujewa

End of the world encounter at ATL 365 blog

From the ATL 365 blog, about Charles Judson & other Atlanta Film Fest 365 people checking out Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World:

"What the banker, philosopher and linguist all have in common is that their adventurers on some level. People who crave the new. At least, that's what they say. Herzog hints that for some, they're running away from the overwhelming confines of civilization. He then flips that and hints that many of the hallmarks of civilization are replicated in the wild. When a penguin becomes disoriented and wanders off towards the mountains, where it will surely die, it's obvious from both Herzog's narration and what he's shown us before, that he's linking the behavior of the people he's interviewing with their environment."

More at the ATL 365 blog.

- Sujewa

Updates on Amir Motlagh's new features Whale and Micro

From Motlagh's blog:

"“Absorbed”, and further updates on whale

So, the film Micro from last year is going to be titled Absorbed, and if you read my last post, i am giving it away free. I will keep relaying why i am doing this, to give it a greater context(both social and personal), and i think that in the end, the conceptual gap between the works whale, “Plain Us” and Absorbed will hopefully mend.

At this time, i am of the mind that as artist, we have to be very reluctant to give away our work for free, especially now that the internet audience feels entitled to media without fee, but at the same time i am starting to see a diminishing quality of work being put fourth in the ultra indie community that has abandoned both singularly(which i don’t mind so much and can be beneficial in the world of low budget DV/HD) and comprehensively (detrimental to the filmmaking community), concept, craft and art. The thing about the proliferation of DV in the nineties was that in the words of Jean Cocteau, ”Film will only became an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper”, well its not pencil and paper, but damn near close, although Jean Cocteau might not have been thinking about how the internet and lack of scope was going to muddy his quote. Because we are on the subject, this was another gem from Cocteau, “Art is not a pastime but a priesthood”, which echoes the commitment to the work that one does."

Read the rest of the post here.

- Sujewa

Even educated fleas do it?

Some weird & interesting writing in Let's Do It:

The Dark Knight is not that great as a superhero movie

Trying to blend a superhero character and justification for torture and unlawful wiretaps into one story yields very mixed and often depressing results in the Christopher Nolan directed Batman movie The Dark Knight. Perhaps the makers of Knight achieved what they set up to do: show how Batman can be viewed as a crazed, inflexible vigilante who will break rules, act as law enforcement, judge, jury and sometimes executioner (maybe accidentally) in the pursuit of what he believes is justice. In Knight citizens of Gotham City, a group of people that allowed themselves to be saved by essentially a masked criminal with unlimited funds and sexy weapons, perhaps have the hero they deserve in Batman. Thus, at the moment - the time period depicted in Knight - Gotham City does not have a traditional superhero, and the half-effective and partially corrupt police force may be a mirror of Batman; by operating outside the law, regardless of what small victories in favor of law & order Batman may achieve, he is not an argument in favor of the ability of citizens to reign in chaos and lawlessness. Batman himself is lawlessness. In order for there to be a traditionally good ending to the path that Gotham City is on in Knight, eventually the law enforcement apparatus of the city will have to get its act together; fight crime effectively, reduce corruption, and ultimately will have to capture and try Batman for breaking laws - including violating rights of the accused, pretending to be a law enforcement agent - self-appointed, and possibly murder. This is not a good direction for a superhero character story to go in. The deconstruction of Batman's superhero identity is one of the depressing aspects of Knight. However, since Batman has been, in the past - in other movies and comic books, something close to a traditional superhero, we will have to see if he is redeemed or completely destroyed in the next movie.

- Sujewa

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tambay not on the David Gordon Green express

I saw All the Real Girls, was underwhelmed, did not think it was anything too special - a well made movie with some nice moments (the clown lady, for instance). Have not seen George Washington, would like to at some point. Pineapple Express may be funny/entertaining, we'll see.

At The Obenson Report Tambay writes about the curiosity of a young filmmaker (Green may be in his 40's now, maybe late 30's) with only 4 features to his name getting a retrospective:

"But then I realized that Mr Green is the man behind the upcoming stoner comedy, Pineapple Express, staring everyman, Seth Rogen and the usually dramatic James Franco in a comedic turn. AHA! So that's the reason for this retrospective for a filmmaker barely into his 30s, with only 4 films to his credit! It's essentially a marketing ploy for Pineapple Express - let's shuffle our filmmaker around the country, who certainly has his band of fanboys and girls all over, who'll likely turn out to watch his films and catch a glimpse of their hero, and maybe even hear him speak or touch his hand; and we'll show his previous critically-acclaimed films, let him answer some questions from hosts and audiences, and, by the way, not forget to plug his next film, Pineapple Express, which will be released theatrically next month!"

More good humored (probably) filmmaker jealousy at The Obenson Report.

- Sujewa

Revisiting the point of entry into the greater indie film blogging community

I am writing a possible intro/narration piece for my doc The Indie Film Bloggers, and had to look up exactly when I got involved in the wider world of indie film blogs/the community (beyond whoever may have been reading my first blog Watch This Movie & stuff that was then at my site wilddiner.com). Luckily for me, the first mention in someone else's blog (at least the one that I recall as being the first mention) of something indie film related that I wrote for the web was at GreenCine Daily - one of the giants in the indie film blog world. It happened on October 16, 2005. David Hudson, editor of GreenCine Daily, mentioned an interview I did with DIY filmmaker Jon Moritsugu, here's what David wrote/published that day:

"Filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake has also interviewed Moritsugu; in general, his site's quite an interesting browse. He's been blogging about the feature he's been working on, Date Number One and has interviewed Californian indie filmmaker Amir Motlagh."

See David's full entry here; lots of links, including one for a then new movie called I Am A Sex Addict.

Several days after that bit of blog publicity (bloglicity?) I pointed David to a post I wrote about self-distribution, and David mentioned it at GreenCine Daily, on October 25, 2005. I was mentioned at the top of a post called Any means necessary (with a graphic from my site), about distribution, and that GCD post made a few new friends for me in the blogosphere; people that I am in touch with to this day - more than 2.5 years later (decades in internet years :).

So those early GCD mentions brough new attention to my internet writing efforts, which led me to create the Filmmaking for the Poor blog, which was later (a few months later, less than 12 months I think) added to indieWIRE's Blogs We Love section, and then ultimately I created this blog - DIY Filmmaker Sujewa - which replaced Filmmaking for the Poor in iW's Blogs We Love section. Being a part of iW's Blogs We Love section has opened many doors for me; in the blog world, festival world, and as a result in other areas when it came to production & distribution.

So, there you have it, the starting point of my association with other indie film blogs & sites, and some of the highlights/important moments in the journey so far.

So, big thanks to GreenCine Daily & indieWIRE for supporting my blog writing work.

But, prior to that, everything started with me needing to share some ideas & typing them out to the web in my own site & early blogs. A good thing to keep in mind if you are thinking about the idea of starting a blog; before other people can help you with your blog, you've got to get started.

And all this now leads us to The Indie Film Bloggers doc.

I have 5 interviews with bloggers scheduled, in DC area & NYC, for the Thu 7/24 - Mon 7/28 period. After that, few more interviews in NYC in August. So, in the fall I should be able to show the finished doc to people, and in it will be a more detailed account of how my identity as an indie film blogger came into existence along with those of others who are featured in the doc. Origin Stories I guess, in superhero speak :)

- Sujewa

Free movie of the day: Facing the Habit

This movie sounds interesting. From the SnagFilms site: "Can a root that grows in West Africa successfully treat heroin addicts and break the cycle of addiction? Dave is a former stockbroker whose life has spiraled out of control due to heroin addiction. A one-time millionaire, he is now reduced to petty theft as a means to supply his habit. Desperate to get help, Dave travels to Mexico for treatment with Ibogaine, a controversial plant-based drug reported to be the most powerful known treatment for drug addiction. FACING THE HABIT is an intimate look into the life of an addict, before, during, and after this last-ditch attempt at hope." Check it out for free by clicking below:



- Sujewa

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Free & super-interesting movie of the day: Confessions of a Superhero

Check it out (thanks to SnagFilms):

Summer travel tips for indie filmmakers

At MediaRights site.

- Sujewa

Atlanta Film Festival's blog on Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible

From Atlanta Film Festival's newly revived (so I hear) blog:

"For something dreamed up during the Writer's Strike and ultimately, more or less, the length of a sitcom episode, the hype on Whedon's project was high. The response was so overwhelming for the first act, it wasn't till sometime into day two of release that the Dr. Horrible site was back up after crashing the first day.

What's probably one of the best takeways is how, even though the novelty of Dr. Horrible being on the internets was a key PR/distribution component, Whedon and crew have seriously treated the launch of Dr. Horrible.

They did so by one, using names--with cult like status, two, limiting the window to less than a week, and three, doing the press rounds no differently than if Dr. Horrible was a network show. Whedon and crew have treated Dr. Horrible like a credible property and not just a neat experiment. The fact that Whedon seriously looked at the potential bonanza of ancillary products (T-shirts, stickers, statutes, etc) speaks even more volumes about the seriousness he treated this project."

Read the rest of the long post here.

And, only vaguely related:

That ATL 365 blog post gives me an idea, maybe I should make action figures to go along with my indie film blogger doc. Hmmm? :) I wonder what the size of the potential market is for a Gabe Wardell action figure? It may become huge in Japan, or Sweden, will have to get the research department on that ASAP.

- Sujewa

Blog discovery of the day: Docs Interactive

This is a great blog discovery for me for a couple of reasons; written by a female blogger (needed more of those for my indie film blogger doc a couple of days ago), and is written from the DC area (every other indie film blogger seems to live in Brooklyn :).

The blog is called Docs Interactive. Which is the blog of the arts org Docs In Progress. More about Docs In Progress:

"Docs In Progress is a non-profit arts organization which supports the development of independent documentaries and educates filmmakers and the public about documentary. It was founded by Washington DC-area filmmakers Adele Schmidt (Producer/Editor, Journey Films) and Erica Ginsberg (Producer/Director, CineCitizen Media)."

Check out Docs Interactive blog here.

- Sujewa

If your indie film related business does not have an official blog & blogger(s), this might be a good time to re-think that strategy

Why?

1. Blogging may be a fad, or it may be here to stay forever - the re-birth of journalism for the 21st century. But, at the moment, it is hot.

2. As I am working on my new documentary The Indie Film Bloggers, and the more I get to know the indie film blogscape better, it is apparent to me that there are quite a few very talented & passionate bloggers out there at the moment who may have extra time to do some paid blogging work for a company - specially if it is a company, product, or service that they really care about, would not mind promoting anyway (i just offered my volunteer or paid services to a great indie distro co. that do not seem to have a blog).

3. My new doc The Indie Film Bloggers may be the first documentary about any kind of bloggers/blogging; and this is probably not an accidental occurrence; BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR IN THE INDIE FILM WORLD. So, having a blog (written by a relatively experienced & or passionate blogger who can have some sort of an independent voice from the rest of the company perhaps) will be a low cost, interesting, entertaining way to keep in touch with your existing customers on a daily basis and attract new customers, and another avenue of providing content for the world (which in turn will get you more publicity, and with it, hopefully more sales of whatever product or service you are selling).

4. How affordable might hiring a blogger be? I've thought about this & talked with a couple of people, and of course each persons financial situation is different, so it could be several hundred dollars a month for a part time (very part time, like an hour a day, 5 days a week lets say) to several thousand dollars a month for a full time blogger. Either way, at the moment, for any company or non-profit or organization (or even some individuals or individual film projects) it may be of great value to hire a blogger to create, & or update, & operate a blog.

Contact me (wilddiner@aol.com ) if you want some recommendations on bloggers who may be a good fit for your indie film biz related company (no guarantee that I'll have an immediate answer, but I may be able do some relatively quick research for you, or point you in the direction of someone who might have the answers you need).

- Sujewa

SnagFilms acquires indieWIRE

From the iW announcement about the acquisition:

"IndieWIRE will provide archival and news content for SnagFilms.com and the company's virtual movie theater widgets, including breaking news from the indie sector, comprehensive film reviews and analysis, and the top relevant blogs. IndieWIRE will feature virtual movie theater widgets from SnagFilms, including the indieWIRE editors' top selections from the SnagFilms library. At the same time, SnagFilms will provide new resources to extend indieWIRE's coverage and enrich its offerings to the entertainment community and consumers passionate about independent film. IndieWIRE will continue to operate as an independent, standalone site. Eugene Hernandez, Editor in Chief and co-Founder of indieWIRE, will also become Editorial Vice President of SnagFilms, overseeing journalistic content on both sites. He will be assisted in this by his indieWIRE colleagues, Brian Brooks and James Israel, who will continue in the same functions after the acquisition. Financial arrangements were not disclosed."

Read the rest of the announcement at indieWIRE.

Well, maybe a good thing for all involved. Good luck SnagFilms & indieWIRE on your future together.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey, there's an Alliance of Women Film Journalists

Didn't know such a thing existed. But, scanning the web for female indie film bloggers led me to the Alliance of Women Film Journalists site. Check it out.

- Sujewa

Blog discovery of the day: Women & Hollywood

Check out Melissa Silverstein's blog Women & Hollywood. Here's the mission of the blog:

"Why focus on Women & Hollywood?

Ever notice that most of the films in mainstream Hollywood are by and about boys? Women & Hollywood does and is tired of it. Women & Hollywood will focus on bringing attention to the films, TV shows, theatre and other entertainment that highlights women and our contribution to the culture.

This blog will focus on what's going on for women in Hollywood: what movies are being made; what directors are getting jobs; what projects actors are working; and will call attention to the continuous disparity that dominates Hollywood."

Check out a few Women & Hollywood entries here.

- Sujewa

Interesting post at The Obenson Report about Will Smith's marriage & monogamy

Will Smith's open marriage story is, well, pretty irrelevant to the focus of this blog, but, taking off from that, indie filmmaker & blogger Tambay Obenson writes about his own views on getting married & related matters. Read it at The Obenson Report.

- Sujewa

Brandon Harris reviews The Exiles at Hammer to Nail

Check out Harris's review here. From the review:

"The Exiles represents perhaps one of the earliest examples of DIY filmmaking to surface following the advent of film education in the years after the explosion of television and the collapse of the hegemony that American film studios exhibited over narrative production (save Oscar Michaeux, Spencer Williams & the skid-row auteurs of the late ’40s) until the late 50s. Mackenzie was fresh out of USC’s brand new film school in 1958 when he began the project, which was shot with borrowed 35mm gear on short ends and discounted stock, with a crew made up mainly of film school friends."

More at Hammer to Nail.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Indie film blogger doc needs more ladies

I'd like to interview at least a couple more female indie film bloggers for my documentary The Indie Film Bloggers. There are only a few - a handful really - (that I know of) indie film bloggers who are female, so, extra work needs to be done to figure out if there are other female indie film bloggers out there.

So,
- if you are a woman who blogs about independent film & related matters
- and you live in or near the DC or NYC areas
- contact me (wilddiner@aol.com ), send me a link to your blog(s), and I'll see if we can interview you for the documentary
- the doc is bound to receive a nice amount of press (hopefully positive :) in the indie film blog world, maybe some screenings too, so, participating in the doc may be a positive thing for your blog & any other projects that you may undertake in the future

I have a great selection of bloggers on tape at the moment (the gender issue aside), so, the doc is going to be great. But, if possible, it would be better to add at least a couple more female indie film bloggers to the film.

Go here for more information about the doc.

Thanks!

- Sujewa

indieWIRE interview with The Exiles presenters

From the iW interview with Charles Burnett and Sherman Alexie, regarding Kent Mackenzie's 1961 film The Exiles:

"iW: Sherman, do you think "The Exiles" avoids the common American Indian stereotypes?

SA: Yeah, nobody has any magical spiritual powers. They're just regular folks. They could have come out of a John Cassavettes movie. That's one of the revelations of the film. It seems so funny to me to be talking about revelations in a film that's forty years old. I think one of the issues is that for many of the filmmakers, because we have so few opportunities, we try to shoehorn every possible message imaginable. In film, we don't get that many chances, so we end up making everything into a political document rather than an artistic film about people's lives. We're obsessed with politics. As an outsider, Mackenzie wasn't as obsessed with it. In that regard, being an outsider probably helped him.

CB: I think it's a question worth asking, because we asked ourselves that question in the sixties when trying to determine what a black was. Also, there's a great film called "Nothing But a Man" (directed by Michael Roemer, who was born in Germany). You can't argue that that's not a really good film. It certainly expresses, as some of the best black films, the black community. You have to look at that with an asterisk and place it somewhere very high up. I think we have the same problems. I take my cues from Sherman Alexie, and people like that, and he really likes ("The Exiles") and finds it informative. You're always going to get arguments, but what you can say is that it called my attention to issues of Native Americans in many ways."

Read more at iW.

- Sujewa

White Lies, Black Sheep interview at Cinema Echo Chamber

From the interview:

"CEC: Shifting gears, you had a background in visual arts as a sculptor originally.

JS: Yeah. Filmmaking came out of this necessity to reach a black audience, which is what I wanted to do. Not to just have people of color up on the wall and then an all white crowd in the gallery. Being a fan of artwork, I would always growing up be like, "Minor Threat saved my life!" To hear someone say, "Afro-Punk saved my life!," or, "I thought about suicide every day my whole life before I knew there were other people like this..." I realize, "Oh shit, I can make a difference." Filmmaking is what I can make a difference through, so I'm like, "Fuck it, lemme make another film." I mean, this one just happened."

More at Cinema Echo Chamber.

- Sujewa

So, when are the war crimes trials going to start?

New book: The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

From the description of the book at Amazon:

"In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. The radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of utter chaos and fear, but the key players, Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, used the crisis to further a long held agenda to enhance Presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.

THE DARK SIDE is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world-- decisions that not only violated the Constitution to which White House officials took an oath to uphold, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In gripping detail, acclaimed New Yorker writer and bestselling author, Jane Mayer, relates the impact of these decisions—U.S.-held prisoners, some of them completely innocent, were subjected to treatment more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition than the twenty-first century.

THE DARK SIDE will chronicle real, specific cases, shown in real time against the larger tableau of what was happening in Washington, looking at the intelligence gained—or not—and the price paid. In some instances, torture worked. In many more, it led to false information, sometimes with devastating results. For instance, there is the stunning admission of one of the detainees, Sheikh Ibn al-Libi, that the confession he gave under duress—which provided a key piece of evidence buttressing congressional support of going to war against Iraq--was in fact fabricated, to make the torture stop.

In all cases, whatever the short term gains, there were incalculable losses in terms of moral standing, and our country's place in the world, and its sense of itself. THE DARK SIDE chronicles one of the most disturbing chapters in American history, one that will serve as the lasting legacy of the George W. Bush presidency."

More at the book's page at Amazon.

The positive economic impact of even the smallest indie films

As I was driving my rental car on Thursday to pick up the rental camera & other production gear and monitoring the info. coming in from the cell phone re: the status of the phone account, I thought about the many small revenue streams that get generated by even very small indie film productions. Since digital filmmaking is now very affordable and thousands of indie filmmakers in America are making movies, when each of these small revenue streams get multiplied by thousands, we are talking about what the old folks call "real money".

A quick list of businesses that generate revenue from even a very small independent film production

1 - Power companies; need electricity for the computers, internet, etc. - in order to plan, organize the project
2 - Businesses that sell computers
3 - Internet service providers
4 - Phone companies
5 - Credit card companies
6 - Production equipment rental places
7- Businesses that sell equipment to rental places
8- Stores & businesses that sell production equipment
9- Post-Production gear suppliers for small films (or maybe I should just say Apple :)
10- Restaurants; folks got to eat
11- Businesses that sell goods & services to restaurants
12- Car rental places
13- Gas stations
14- Airlines
15- Trains
16- Buses
17 - Hotels & motels

If you can think of any other businesses or services that benefit from even ultra-low budget film production, list them in comments.

So, I think, the bottom line is, encouraging low budget indie film production is a good thing for many businesses, individuals, and the overall economy.

- Sujewa


B-Side vs. Withoutabox

I first heard about B-Side getting into the film fest submission business last Saturday when I was in Atlanta interviewing ATL 365's Gabe Wardell for my blogger doc. And now, there is a lengthy article on Withoutabox's new competitor at indieWIRE; check it out. From the article:

"As with Withoutabox, filmmakers will pay nothing to B-side to use the service, but pay festival submission fees directly. But in the case of B-Side, participating festivals pay half as much as they would for listing themselves on Withoutabox."

Read the rest here.

Indie filmmakers & film festivals having options is generally a good thing, so am looking forward to seeing how B-Side's new service develops.

- Sujewa

Purple Violets makers happy with iTunes distribution experiment

From the article about Ed Burns's Purple Violets & iTunes in Stream:

"Can you elaborate on how much money it made?

I can't, because iTunes is very concerned with not releasing that information, but a pretty sizable number of people have purchased it. I can tell you that in the first three or four weeks, it was the second-most downloaded title after Pirates of the Caribbean, out of 600 titles at that point. This was in November, so for several weeks, we were right up there with huge, mainstream studio movies. Five or six weeks later, we fell out of the top ten, but it's still being downloaded."


More at Stream.

- Sujewa

Monday, July 14, 2008

Interview with Mary "Yeast" Bronstein at ShortEnd Magazine

Check out the interview at ShortEnd.

Here is a segment:

"SM: There’s another quality about Rachel I’m drawn to. Her relationship with Alice, it walks a line between being really intimate in terms of friendship but also getting pseudo-sexual. There’s that implication, that she harbors feelings for Alice which aren’t quite platonic.

MB: We talked a lot about especially the kinds of friendships that women have, when they get so close. The friendship that I had with Amy in college, the two of us had this really, really close friendship, and that was sort of our entire world. That world had its own jokes, our own things that we did, our own way that we talked, and it excluded everybody else. When you’re in a relationship like that, it’s a breeding ground for all kinds of resentment, especially when the other person starts to date somebody or becomes interested in somebody. It becomes threatening, and you don’t even really know why. You’re not interested in them romantically, but it still becomes threatening because that person is trying to take a piece of them, almost that you can’t really have."

Read the rest of the interview here.

- Suejwa

Back in town, film blogger doc coming along amazingly well, podcast interview at ShortEnd Magazine

Is driving 1200 miles (600 or so each way) to interview 1 indie film writer/blogger/journalist worth it? Absolutely, if the person in question is Nora Fores (aka Noralil Ryan Fores) - quite possibly one of the hardest working & most talented up & coming film journalists in America.

Interviewed Nora for The Indie Film Bloggers on Sunday AM. Hung out in Atlanta for a bit (lovely town), & then headed back to DC on Sunday evening. Ended up sleeping over in Charlotte, NC on Sunday night.

Just got back to Kensington, MD. Quiet a few things to get caught up on, gear to return, etc.

Until I am ready to resume my regular blogging activities, check out this podcast interview that Nora did with me & Amanda (girlfriend), at ShortEnd Magazine. And leave a comment after you check it out, Nora wants feedback on her posts.

Thanks Chuck, Nora, Gabe & Paula from ATL 365, & everyone else I met in Atlanta on Sat. night @ Nora's (more on those guys this week) for an awesome weekend.

Before going to sleep in Charlotte I scanned through all the interview footage from this weekend - 4 hours worth - featuring 4 bloggers, and found that there is a lot of great material that will work for the doc. Some funny stuff from Gabe & Paula, including a challenge to indie filmmakers who want fests to share ticket sales revenue with them. Thought provoking at times, amusing at other times stuff from Nora. Lots of well researched & thought out perspectives from Chuck.

Looking forward to editing IFB in August, after filming several more interviews in NYC at the end of this month.

More soon on everything above, including some pics from this weekend's trip, plus ones from the NYC filming trip #1 in June.

Check out the ShortEnd Magazine podcast in the meantime.

- Sujewa

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Riding I-95 South to Atlanta listening to Ray Charles & interviewing bloggers

Couple of quick notes from the road:

Interviewed Chuck Tryon for The Indie Film Bloggers yesterday, get his impression of the event here.

Saturday night I interviewed Atlanta Film Fest's Gabe Wardell & Paula Martinez; covered a lot of interesting material - specially takes on things from the film festival production side of the indie film community - will be a great addition to the doc.

The part of Atlanta that I am staying in is very sweet (a little bit of Seattle/NWFF area, a little bit of Dupont Circle DC); thanks to Noralil Fores - will be interviewing her in the morning before I head back to DC.

All in all an excellent & productive weekend so far. Thanks a lot to Chuck, Nora & everyone else who are making these blogger doc shoots possible.

More next week.

- Sujewa

Thursday, July 10, 2008

After the end of July filming in NYC I should have enough material to edit The Indie Film Bloggers

I am going for an around 90 minutes long doc with The Indie Film Bloggers; and by the time the late July interviews are filmed in NYC, I should have close to 15 hours of interview & other footage - plenty with which to create the movie I envision.

This project is happening a lot faster than my previous feature - the comedy Date Number One, which took about 1.5 years (summer '04 - winter '06) to shoot. Because Bloggers is an interview doc & not a scripted fictional work that requires auditions & rehearsals I am able to get it shot faster. Hopefully I can carry some of these new fast working abilities over to making my next fiction feature, Actress, which I plan on shooting this summer-fall.

- Sujewa

Get caught up on some older notes on DIY filmmaking & distro

While I am traveling & filming this weekend, if you need DIY filmmaking related material to read, check out the links on the right hand side of the blog; it's my On DIY Film links section, moved to the top of the right side panel for this weekend. Should be some interesting & hopefully useful notes there.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

DC to NC to ATL filmmaking road trip is upon us

So this weekend I'll be driving around; from DC area to NC to Atlanta & back - mainly to interview a couple of indie film bloggers (or, film writers on the web in NRF's case) - Chuck Tryon (and let us say once more; "one of the top 100 liberal arts professor bloggers!" :) and Noralil Ryan Fores - for my doc The Indie Film Bloggers.

Maybe I'll get to post from the road, maybe I'll be too busy filming & doing whatever the good people of NC & Atlanta do on the weekends - who knows. But I expect to get back to this blog on Mon 7/14. Will try to post an "in-production" trailer for the doc on or before 7/15 - if all goes well. Still need to post a few photos from the NYC filming trip a couple of weekends ago; perhaps all that on Mon.

- Sujewa

The DIY Path (as of July 2008) - A Quick Overview

Looks like I have everything I need in order to make, show & release/sell DVDs of my movies. I'll go over the stuff briefly in case anyone else wants to think about adapting this DIY path for their own filmmaking & distribution work.

1. Financing
- primarily from day job pay $s (keep budgets low enough, spread the work over time in order to make projects & distribution of those affordable, shoot on evenings & weekends, screen & do other exhibition & distribution work primarily on evenings & weekends)
- financing also can be from investors - each film project as a small business venture
- or from donations
- or loans
- or $s earned/raised through other work & means (freelance gigs, Amazon, EBay, etc.)

2. Skills
- developed over time
- each new project, most likely, will require the development of new producing, writing, directing, shooting, sound recording, editing, graphic design, web design, & distribution skills

3. Production Gear
- can be rented for relatively low prices (specially weekend rentals)
- can be bought; good MiniDV gear can now be found for less money than one or two years ago

4. Cast & Crew
- recruit as necessary per project

5. Exhibition/Screening of finished film
- DIY screenings
- submit to indie theaters
- submit to festivals
- can rent or own a video projector, screen, speakers in order to turn spaces into screening venues

6. Selling the film for home use
- on DVD
- can sell through Amazon, etc.
- can sell through blogs, websites
-- mail order
- retail stores (any that are open to carrying the DVD)

7. Publicity
- your blogs & sites, other people's blogs & sites
- regular/traditional advertising & marketing, publicity work & avenues

8. Long term financial picture
- pay off debt
- save money
- distribute each project & manage transfer of ownership, licensing of each project with long term profitability in mind for each project

9. New areas of development
- look at upcoming internet & cable VOD distribution solutions; specially avenues that allow for dealing directly with paying customers

10. Overall approach
- very DIY, avoid gatekeepers & middlemen as much as possible, find ways to deal directly with consumers
- keep things (production & distribution activities) small, simple, fast, & inexpensive (relatively)
- maintain ultimate ownership of each completed project (will assure future availability of each project to consumers, and ability to generate revenue in the future)

And that's how the next few movies of mine will be made & distributed. Well, that, at least, is the current plan. It feels pretty good.

- Sujewa

Peace on Earth happens Aug 29 - Aug 31

Unfortunately the Peace on Earth event referred to on the subject line is only a film festival and not the cessation of all conflict around the globe; however, you gotta start somewhere, and Chicago seems like a good place - & indie film is a good thing to start with; more on the fest - from Withoutabox:

"Peace on Earth Film Festival
1 Annual August 29, 2008 to August 31, 2008
...
MISSION & OBJECTIVE
Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF) has been established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent films from around the world on the themes of peace and non-violence. POEFF is a not-for-profit film festival whose primary objective is to raise an awareness of peace as a possibility, by bringing attention to independent films from around the world. Through the power of motion pictures, POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness into the light of communication, compassion and understanding.

ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Peace On Earth Film Festival has been established as a vision of New Thought Chicago (NTC), to grow and nurture awareness of the possibilities within all of us to contribute to peace in our own lives as well as the lives of everyone on the planet. POEFF will bring filmmakers of all backgrounds and levels of experience together in the message and promotion of peace and non-violence in Chicago and the world. POEFF invites filmmaker's challenging perspectives on issues such as war, conflict, world politics, environment, economics, and more, while presenting an alternative of peace and non-violence from all cultural perspectives.

ORGANIZERS:
Brad LaMar (Co-Director/Co-Producer/Web Designer) ; Clayton Monical (Director) ; Clayton Monical (Co-Director/Co-Producer/Artistic Director) ; Marshall Bock (Logo Designer/Logo Animator) ; Marty Couch (Treasurer) ; Milissa Pacelli (Operations Coordinator) ; Nick Angotti (Event Director)"

More here, @ Withoutabox.

And here's the official website for the fest.

- Sujewa

testing a new feature

Technorati Profile

update:

Add to Technorati Favorites

IFC's doc production grant

Read about it (& follow the links) at Still in Motion blog.

- Sujewa

NRA takes aim at Disney World

Let's see...in a country with generally high standards of law & order & citizen/resident security, & generally well managed police departments, & an all volunteer military that has not been used as a large scale instrument of oppression by the government against citizens & residents, and with private security at theme parks & other large recreational destinations, a gun rights advocacy group wants employees of a kids theme park to be able to bring guns to work. Is this - Disney World employees with easy access to guns at work - remotely related to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution? Um, probably NOT. While Disney battles it out with a misguided NRA, you can read all about the dispute at this AOL article. From the article:

"What part of the 2nd Amendment does Mickey Mouse not understand? That's the question the NRA wants answered in light of the decision made by Walt Disney World to prohibit their employees from keeping fire arms in their cars while they work. This decision comes in spite of a new state law--The Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008--that went into affect in Florida on Tuesday allowing state residents to do just that."

More here.

I think there being possibly hundreds & thousands of guns in the parking lots (Disney World's got 60,000 or so employees I hear) could make the theme park a tad less magical, and a lot more frightening, & perhaps far less safe. Hopefully Disney will win this insane legal conflict.

- Sujewa

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip

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