Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nah, absolutely needing $200K to make an indie/real indie/DIY movie is an artificial/unnecessary requirement

Since movies - features - can be made for $0 to million$ - I don't think it's healthy for me to set up a specific $ standard (as was mentioned in this post) to meet before embarking on a new project (reminds me of the not very productive 16 MM era - ah the sweet sweet wasted nineties :). Maybe my real thinking was that it would be nice to have a whole bunch of money around when I am making & distributing my next fiction feature so that there will be greater flexibility - more room to get things done well, pay bills early, etc. So, the plan from that post is still on - raise $s & put it aside for film projects - but - the filmmaking track will be independent from the overall financial life track - unless of course I get the deep urge to make a period epic or something (which i do not see happening any time soon) - or some such project that absolutely requires a lot of money to get started on.

Anyway, work (mostly writing at the moment) on the next project is happening, also I'll need to start fundraising for that & other film projects - and the two tasks can be mostly independent of each other - as far as waiting to have a certain amount of money before starting a project. Giving yourself the freedom to do what feels right for a given projects at a given moment is probably a lot healthier & productive way to approach dealing with the relationship between money & filmmaking/distribution. Specially in this digital age - where shooting & editing something is easy.

However, the broader goal of eventually not needing a day job & being able to take a lot of time to work on one of my movies is I think still a great goal to shoot for. So there will need to be (& always have been to various degrees) a connection between money & filmmaking from time to time - but - I think the beauty of the DIY path is being able to get a project going or even finish a project even when there isn't a lot of money around (just takes a lot of time in that case) - & I think that's a great thing to keep in mind when making new plans - it will remove money from being an impossible road block.

Updates on other projects:

Will be having that house screening/sneak preview of my most recently completed flick Indie Film Blogger Road Trip this Sat 11/1 at 4 PM in Brooklyn. I'll e-mail everyone about it tomorrow.

Date Number One DVDs are still on the way. They'll be here in November.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barack Obama - Closing Argument (full speech)

Hot little doc fest in Silver Spring, MD wants you

Well, not so little - SilverDocs wants you to submit your doc to SilverDocs '09, go here for the info. You should do it, among other things, if you get in, it would be a good excuse to come visit the DC area (& perhaps hang out with the new prez & vp team! - hopefully this one).

- Sujewa

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My next fiction feature will cost $200K from script to DVD

So, moving a couple of steps away from "no" budget filmmaking on my next project - a fiction feature (the Actress story will be a part of it, overall the next feature is about several young travelers - without giving too much away before the script is done) - it will still be an ultra-low budget project but I would like the luxury of working on it full time so that I can 1) get it made very well, and 2) not take forever to make it (having a FT job doing something else for $s & then making films on the side results in the films taking a long time to finish).

I do not think it will be too difficult to raise $200K. That's 1000 sources providing $200 each or 200 sources providing $1000 each, or some other combination similar to those formulas.

One of the up sides of having a $200K budget will be that I will be able to pay everyone who works on the movie, and not be in personal debt by the time the film is completed.

The $200K budget includes making & marketing a significant amount of DVDs of the movie.

More on this movie as things happen. I am considering this generally as my 2009 Project #1. Much of it will be filmed in Brooklyn.

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 25, 2008

No Brooklyn this weekend

Too much to do in DC/Kensington today, will not be going to Brooklyn, so, the little house screening of the blogger doc will have to wait 'till next weekend - perhaps on Sat 11/1 - will have info. towards the middle of next week for those who are interested.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

There might be a little private Indie Film Blogger Road Trip doc viewing party on Sat eve/night in Brooklyn

SAT 10/25 Early AM Update: Will not be able to go to Brooklyn today, so, the screening will have to happen next weekend. Stay tuned.

(here's the original post, no longer valid)
If all the 2 Do items in front of me at the moment get done properly tonight & tomorrow, I should be watching my new doc Indie Film Blogger Road Trip in Brooklyn this Sat 10/25 eve/night @ a friend's/my temp house. Since most of the NYC bloggers featured in the doc are from Brooklyn, I think this is in some way very appropriate. Anyway, if you are interested in attending this little event, let me know.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There may be good reasons to not like Ballast, but the fact that a "white" director made it should not be one of them

Here's my comment re: SpoutBlog's post Does Ballast Really Deserve a Backlash? In that question lies another question - is it acceptable for a director to make a film about people who belong to another social/ethnic/political/economic/"racial" group? Here's what I said about it:

I don’t see any problem with a person from one group making a work of art/entertainment about a person or people from another social/religious/political/national/ethinic/”race”/whatever group. We (humans) have been doing it for thousands of years. Some do it well, others don’t. But either way, it’s alright to do.

I thought Gandhi was well done - not that I am an expert on the life & times of Gandhi - but, as a movie goer - what I saw & heard seemed like a good reflection of what I knew about Gandhi, even though the movie was made by a non-Indian & “white”, British director. So, it is possible, I think, for a person to make a good movie about a person or a group of people from another group/nation/time, etc.

Back to Ballast: within any large group of people there is a lot of variety in personalities, reactions to the world, etc. It would be impossible to prove that a certain character trait does not exist or has never existed in a given group, as portrayed (sp?) in a movie.
Have not seen Ballast yet. If I end up not liking it, it won’t be for the fact that a “white” director made it even though it’s about “black” people. Say NO to segregation in art making ya’ll.

For the Spout post & all the comments, go here.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Success Driven Happiness of Galactica, Recognition of Beauty in Ordinary Existence Driven Happiness of Mystery Train, Spinoza's guide to happiness

In Battlestar Galactica the main characters face enormous challenges, and most of the time they overcome those challenges, and the audience is satisfied by that pattern. Of course if all the humans or main characters - human & Cylon - who the audience identifies as positive - end up dying at the end of the series next year, perhaps the audience will be very disappointed. Success, in the Galactica world, ultimately means survival. Success in our world can also mean survival, except, we know all of us will die one day - from old age, etc. So, even though survival works as the ultimate signifier of success in the Galactica world - or in our judgement of the lives of the characters in that world, that is not an option that we have in our/the real world. Survival is only available to us as a source of temporary happiness - we know we are alive now, but who knows what will happen in 10 minutes or 10 years? Let's take a look at another kind of success, another kind of happiness, in a set of filmed entertainment far different than Galactica.

In Jim Jarmusch movies, such as Mystery Train, neither the characters nor the goals that they try to accomplish are enormously important compared to those in the Galactica world or traditionally big dreams & plans of individuals in our world. So, what is the thing that makes us happy about Mystery Train? I would say it's the reflection of the world, and existence, as an interesting place - beautiful in several ways, full of unusual characters. So, the knowledge that such a perspective and thing - a movie that finds value not in epic plots & life or death challenges but in beautifully observed amusing, relatively ordinary, moments - gives us happiness. So, the Mystery Train kind of happiness, happiness that derives from ordinary existence, which is different than the victory-over-possibility-of-getting-killed-by-robots kind of success/happiness of the Galactica world, is, I would say, more accessible to a greater number of people in the real/our world.

What did philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1623 - 1677) think about happiness, or about the kind of relationship with existence that leads to lasting happiness for individuals? From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "Spinoza's "free person" is one who bears the gifts and losses of fortune with equanimity, does only those things that he believes to be "the most important in life", takes care for the well-being of others (doing what he can to insure that they, too, achieve some relief from the disturbances of the passions through understanding), and is not anxious about death."

So, if a character in the Galactica world or a person in our world were to combine Spinoza's idea of success/ideal way of reacting to existence and were to add to that the model for happiness offered by Mystery Train - recognition of beauty & humor of ordinary existence - it might be a useful & rewarding approach for them.

There is of course a lot more to Spinoza's ideas, go read an intro here, including about Spinoza's unique interpretation of the idea of God (the God or Gods concept is an important idea in both the Galactica world and of course our world). The world of Jim Jarmusch movies/Mystery Train is not concerned with the existence of & the will of a creator being/deity but Jarmusch's focus on otherwise minor characters (characters who would be minor characters in most Hollywood shows, including Galactica) and small moments does feel at home with Spinoza's view that all of existence is God (a re-defined God as opposed to the Biblical God, a God not concerned with goal oriented success practiced by humans). Again, a big subject, check out more on this page about Spinoza.

Incidentally, it would be interesting to see Jarmusch write & direct an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Probably not much will happen in that episode, but I am pretty sure that what little ends up happening will be funny, interesting, and probably will happen very slowly. Maybe an episode about two Cylons taking a break from hunting humans across space & enjoying some coffee & cigarettes while listening to Mahler.

- Sujewa

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saw Mongol

Pretty good movie. Mongol is part 1 of 3 apparently, about the life of Genghis Khan. Some aspects of the story was difficult to follow, probably because I do not know details of Mongolian history, but, generally, very well made ancient warrior epic. Here's A.O. Scott's review in the New York Times.

A clip, from a battle scene towards the end of Mongol:

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Saw Happy Go Lucky last night. It was good & funny. Here's a review.

And another review, this one from the Washington Post.

- Sujewa




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Gave in finally & started a Facebook page

Mostly to keep in touch with family members, but could be a good way to keep in touch with some indie film people too. Here's the link to my Facebook page, get in touch if you are on Facebook.

- Sujewa

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tomb of general who partially inspired Gladiator found

From this article:

"Macrinas, from Brescia in north Italy, served Emperor Marcus Arelius as a confidant. Macrinas was the pro-consul of Asia, and the emperor wanted him to lead Roman troops in battle against Germanic tribes to the north, the BBC reported."

More here.

The Gaius Baltar Appreciation Society, Presidential race & Galactica video

If you are a fan of the most entertaining (& probably most realistic - in the sense that most non-soldier humans who may find themselves in a very strange, post-apocalyptic man vs. robots space war situation may act as Baltar does) character on the new Battlestar Galactica, check out this Facebook page.

Also, fans of both Galactica & Obama may appreciate this video:

Here's what the video above is parodying, actually 4 different versions of it, from the 4 seasons of BSG:

- Sujewa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Film One Track Mind premieres on Facebook

Read all about it at the ATL 365 blog.

Now that Facebook is getting into film, I guess I should do something with the barely started but not touched in months Facebook account/page of mine.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From a Battlestar Galactica episode to the subject of gun control & genocide

So how did I end up reading about the relationship between gun control & genocide tonight? Let's see, I saw an episode (Resistance, from Season 2) of Battlestar Galactica - one that I had missed in my initial binge of BSG watching a few weeks ago - where Admiral (or is it Commander?) Adama - basically the head guy on the ship - is shot, & is recovering from surgery & the temporary guy in command - Tigh - suspends the civilian government of the fleet & institutes martial law. Then, when the civilian fleet refuses to go along Tigh sends Marines to a civilian ship to enforce his orders, resulting in civilian deaths. This got me thinking about the strange role militaries play (often protectors, but can be misused by evil politicians or other not so great leaders), and also about the relationship between civil/non military governments and the militaries. Anyway, some research web searches later I ended up on this page - with a chart (scroll down to the middle of the page) that aims to establish a link between gun ownership control & genocide. According to the chart several countries/governments that have carried out large scale murder of their citizens also had very strict controls on gun ownership by the general public. Not sure if the facts & figures mentioned in the chart are accurate, but am merely pointing to it as an item to take into consideration in this discussion. Would Tigh have ordered the Marines into the civilian ship to enforce his will if he knew the residents of the ship were heavily armed? Perhaps. But maybe not. On the flip side, how are governments & law enforcement expected to enforce unpopular but good laws if the entire population is heavily armed & might start shooting law enforcement agents? In the simple fictional world of Battlestar Galactica martial law & using the Marines to break up an act of civil disobedience was clearly the wrong thing. And, re: that chart, if an evil government is out to do some genocidal activities, it would be a good thing for the population to be armed. Maybe this is why the 2nd Amendment came into being - to discourage governments from using illegal violence (or legal but evil violence) against citizens. The gun control debate aside, that Battlestar Galactica is often a well written show - thought & web search provoking -as was the case tonight. Looking forward to the next season.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rooftop Films at

Check out some shorts from the Rooftop Films summer festival series at IFC's site.

More about the films: "The films posted are an eclectic mix of both live and animated narratives as well documentaries. All of these films are selections from the Rooftop Films summer festival series, which means that each week three more shorts will be posted on available for viewing."

Check them out.

- Sujewa

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mentioned in guidebook Washington, DC From A to Z

Apparently there is a guidebook called Washington, DC From A to Z out there and my '99 released feature/my first feature (shot in 1 day on 16 MM color, 70 mins. long) Wild Diner is mentioned in it. Check out the mention at this link. Pretty cool, thanks goes out to the authors, needs to get me a copy of that book. Wild Diner is not in distribution at the moment, but, perhaps in the future it will make it on to a DVD as an extra item.

Some Wild Diner trivia related to a more recent & much better received indie movie: the DP of Wild Diner was Sean Williams, who also shot - years later - Ron Bronstein's Frownland. Williams also appears in a brief role in Mary Bronstein's Yeast. For Wild Diner Williams had to work under some very difficult conditions (like shooting a whole feature script in one day in a living room badly made up to look like a diner! :), and I don't think he was very happy with his work on that movie - so he was credited using a pseudonym in the flick. I have not seen the movie in years - but I did like the colors & the overall look of the movie, plus the scenes of DC in it - from 1998. And the music, lots of great local indie music in that movie.

I played the lead in Wild Diner. The movie - a comedy-drama - is about a guy who goes to a diner one night, meets several unusual characters, and by the morning all his problems are solved.
So, the lesson from Wild Diner is: don't shoot your 16 MM indie feature in one day in a set made up largely of colorful thrift store bedsheets. But if you do end up making a movie that way, you may end up being mentioned in a local guidebook several years later. Which, in the end, is probably a good thing - I think.

- Sujewa

Very long Ann Hornaday article about indie film in today's Washington Post

In the multi-page article From Indie Chic to Indie, Sheesh Ann Hornaday takes a look at the history of indie film - from Charlie Chaplin to Jim Jarmusch to Barry Jenkins - but mostly the article is a protest against the mainstreaming of quirk through indiewood movies, check it out at the Washington Post. Was a great Sunday morning read.

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yeast is funny (in its own way)

Yeast was one of my favorite films at this year's Maryland Film Festival. A little weird, action packed, somewhat disturbingly funny, in glorious tight close up hand held digital video - check it out through this post at Matt Dentler's blog - Yeast definitely will not put you to sleep.

For some post-movie watching reading/discussion, here's my interview with Yeast director Mary Bronstein.

- Sujewa

The 400 Blows, Down By Law Criterion DVDs - Used/Like New - for sale at Amazon

I just posted up 2 used - like new DVDs for sale at my Amazon store Wild Diner Films:

Down By Law - Criterion - $15

The 400 Blows - Criterion - $14.50

If you've been wanting to buy those DVDs, check out the links above.

I've been selling books, for work/the day job, for a couple of months now through Amazon and have been very impressed with the results. So now I will also be selling art, indie, foreign DVDs & related stuff & other media products (including my own DVDs - as soon as they are ready :) through Amazon. Just started my Amazon store, but should have a few interesting items there soon.

Update: 8:29 PM - both of the DVDs listed above sold today/within the first day that they were listed, so, I added a couple more used DVDs to my Amazon store: In Praise of Love by Godard - $9, and Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy - $9.50. Looks like some items will sell fast on Amazon - way cool. Time to unpack all my boxes from the move (& also go shopping for new merchandise/new & used DVDs, etc.) & get some DVDs listed on Amazon!

- Sujewa

Orphans trailer

New movie Orphans is now available on DVD from Carnivalesque Films - only $19.99 - get it, support indie film yo. Here's the trailer:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some music to keep the economic depression away

Early 90's indie film flashback: Slacker on Hulu

The summer before I went to film school (I think) there were lines of people outside a small movie theater in Dupont Circle in DC waiting to check out Slacker. When I finally saw the movie in Chicago a couple of months later I thought it was kinda neat. Since then, specially in the 90's - I think I've seen this movie on VHS fully or in part over a dozen times (great thing about Slacker you can drop in on it at any point & then leave when you get tired of it - not plot driven, each scene is its own story). Here's Slacker on Hulu:

Nardwuar vs. Ian MacKaye

When I feel like there is too much to do, I read about or check out interviews with the Fugazi dudes - for rest & inspiration - 'cause they've done a LOT of work over the years & a lot of interesting work too - along with like the I don't know 80% of support/routine/maintenance work that needs to be done in order to accomplish the 20% that is interesting to other people/consumers/stuff of DIY art/entertainment glory, no doubt. Anyway, saw this entertaining interview on YouTube a couple of days ago - was a nice little break from lots of not-too-exciting but necessary work:

Orphans review at Hammer to Nail

Check it out. From the review:

"There is an artistry at work here that recalls European cinema from the 1970s or early 1980s. Which is interesting, for that works in conjunction with Russo-Young’s main goal: to contemplate how the past continues to reverberate in the present. Watching the film, an interesting question arises: was Russo-Young influenced by her own childhood or by films from that era? The answer appears to be both. In the best way possible, she and her actresses have found a way to cloak the emotions of their own past histories in an artificially constructed story."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Health Insurance for Artists

The Independent's got a state by state links article re: getting health insurance for artists - check it out.

Here's the intro to the article:

"As freelancers, many members of the creative community -- writers, artists, and filmmakers -- often struggle to find the best health insurance for themselves and their families. Since artists typically do not work as employees, they are not eligible for insurance through a company. And it's not always an option to tag onto a partner's or parent's policy. But there are still plenty of options out there, if you know how to find them. Emerging and veteran artists may not realize that, in fact, they are eligible as artists to join certain organizations, and thus obtain a variety of more affordable health insurance options. So The Independent put together this list, broken down by state with the aim of helping artists learn their insurance options."

The rest here.

- Sujewa

For all you Charlie Brown, Wes Anderson & specially Bill Melendez fans

From Matt Zoller Seitz:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Link to Obama campaign created 13+ min. doc/ad on McCain/Keating/S&L crisis of the 80's

Check out the doc/campaign ad here. The URL is:

In the video William Black, a Federal Banking Regulator from 1984 to 1994, gives a brief overview of Senator McCain's relationship with Charles Keating & the Lincoln Savings & Loan collapse.

Not sure what exactly Truly Free Film is...

...or if it's even a good thing for me (I like selling DVDs of my movies & selling tickets to screenings of my movies, so, for the consumer end, I don't want my movies to be free), BUT, there is a blog written by producer Ted Hope about (a new idea?) called Truly Free Film, go check it out here, might be interesting.

Got the link from Matt Dentler's blog.

- Sujewa

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Message of Jesus is not about shooting wolves from an airplane

Bill Maher interview about Religulous:

Religulous trailer

Looking forward to checking this one out:

Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops

A video about an Amazon tribe working with Google to try to save their lands:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moving adventures in Kensington, MD & Brooklyn, NY

Spent like 12 hours on Tue moving all my stuff from one place in Kensington, MD to another place in Kensington.

Then got on the Amtrak (hanging out & working & snacking on a table in the cafe car while the land rolls by outside big train windows is the way to travel from DC area to NYC), came over to Brooklyn, picked up the keys to my 2 month sublet in Kosciuszko St., hung out/dinner with a couple of film bloggers from Indie Film Blogger Road Trip - Brandon Harris & Brian Geldin, & afterwards met the new roommates; good times.

And today, just had breakfast at a local diner near Kosci street (pretty cheap - $6.35 for 2 eggs, home fries, sausage, toast, & coffee - & good), met/talked with a few of people who live in the neighborhood/fellow diners at the diner. At a cyber cafe nearby at the moment.

Nice to be in Brooklyn. Living in 2 places (NY & MD) for the next couple of months should be fun. Also am planning on shooting a new movie in NY & MD over the next 2 months.

Lots of unpacking & getting settled in ahead. Some indie film related blogging, & some photos from the new places, soon.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Now let's hear a bit from an old indie filmmaker from the old world

Maybe post-World War II India is kind of the new old world, not quite the old old world, anyway, a clip from an interview with Satyajit Ray (look below the clip for a little bit about Ray, from the youtube page):

"Ray directed thirty-seven films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. Ray's first film, Pather Panchali, won eleven international prizes, including Best Human Document at Cannes film festival. Along with Aparajito and Apur Sansar, the film forms the Apu trilogy. Ray did scripting, casting, scoring, cinematography, art direction, editing and designed his own credit titles and publicity material. He was a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, graphic designer and film critic. Ray received many major awards, including an Academy Honorary Award in 1992."

From this youtube page.

- Sujewa



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