Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview re: new book The History of Independent Cinema

Check out an interview with The History of Independent Cinema's author Phil Hall at Alternative Film Guide.

From the interview:

"When did independent cinema as we generally define it today — small-budgeted, character-driven, thematically off-beat — take off?

It was always there. One could argue the so-called “race films” – all-black films produced exclusively for racially segregated audiences in the Jim Crow period – were setting that example beginning in the early 1920s, when Oscar Micheaux [right] was producing and directing films such as Within Our Gates."

Read the rest of the interview at Alternative Film Guide.

Whatever Works trailer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Predator review link

Saw Predator again after like 50,000 years. Flick is still excellent - except for a few goofy moments, it's kind of like a sped up Terrence Malick movie - but with an alien hunter (emphasis on "kind of like" i guess, also what if Terrence Malick were to re-make Predator?, that might be awesome). For those who are new to this achievement in cinema, here is a review of the movie at PopMatters. From the review:

"Written by brothers Jim and John Thomas (who claim influences by Greek myths and Apocalypse Now) and directed by newbie John McTiernan (he had only made Nomads, in 1986, and Die Hard came a year later), Predator is surprisingly fine. Taut and relentless, it pares down, stage by stage. Beginning as if it might be a war movie (the team is sent on a dangerous mission), transforms first into horror (skinned bodies and splatted heads), then into science fiction (the discover of the alien, with electric gimmicks and awesome weapons), and finally, becomes an existential conflict between man and not-man."

Read the rest of the review here.

And doesn't everything ultimately come down to an existential conflict between man and not-man? I think so.

Also, while we are on the subject, when are they going to make Predalien? (at the end of Predator vs. Alien I saw a Predalien being born).

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Production blog for Todd Verow's new, 80's cinema inspired movie

Check out the blog here.

Check out the trailer for The Boy With The Sun In His Eyes here.

A description of the film:

"After his best friend Kevin commits suicide, John decides his life needs a change and he spontaneously heads off to Europe to follow Kevin's muse Solange, a minor pop music diva and eccentric B-movie actress. As the odd pair become embroiled in a world of sex, drugs, and murder the boundaries of trust start to wear thin and John begins to wonder whether Solange is the victim of a bizarre lifestyle or its mastermind. Shot on location in Europe and featuring a killer soundtrack, Todd Verow's most recent film is an homage to 80's cinema and a fun installment in the prolific director's portfolio."

More about Verow's movies (16 features it looks like so far, most are low budget & digital) at Bangor Films.

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First 12 mins. of the 2 Week Film "The Dabbler..."



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For more on the film, go here.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Yet another post about the state of indie film (this one is an optimistic one, & about the real indie/D.I.Y./individual artist w/ a day job level)

Like that old quote about it being impossible to organize a revolution with anarchists (or something like that :), most indie filmmakers (myself included) do not listen to advice (or they hear it, but believe that they are the exception to the rule & thus it does not apply to them), but here are some observations that may be of use if you are trying to make & distribute low budget movies outside of any kind of structure remotely resembling the film industry:

1 - It's the best of times for real indie/way off-Hollywood filmmakers & it's possibly the worst of times for filmmakers who dream of getting selected to a top festival & selling their movies to a distribution company & jump starting their Holly/indiewood career. Let's take a look at what's good about the current moment for real indie/D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) filmmakers:

- relatively inexpensive, high quality image & sound capture technologies

- relatively inexpensive access to a marketing & sales space through the web

2 - A LOT is beyond your control as a filmmaker who wants to distribute your own work or collaborate with distributors but want to retain ownership of your own work. Such as building & maintaining a filmmaking community (takes a lot of time, and a lot of people have to be enthusiastic about it), state of film journalism, film festival programming decisions & also the future of the film festival industry. However, SOME VERY IMPORTANT THINGS are within your control: such as creating awesomely creative, unique, can't buy from Hollywood type movies (or the room for the existence of such movies is here, even though I have not seen very many of those movies come into being yet) - in order to create those you will need to come up with a new way to talk about/show/tell stories about old subjects, or will have to start focusing on new/relatively under-explored subjects. Not a difficult thing for artists to do in other mediums (literature, painting, music, etc.), so probably not too difficult for us to do with film.

3 - Best to not depend on your movies being able to pay ALL or even ANY of your bills anytime soon. Operate with that in mind, and when & if that situation does change & you make a very decent amount of money from your movies, it will be a pleasant surprise. So, find a day job or several that you can stand, that will give you free time to make & distribute your movies. Also, since each film is a unique product, there probably aren't any sales/money makings solutions that will work for all or even most films. A real indie film that will end up making a lot of money will probably get to that point after its maker/distributor has experimented with different ways of promoting & selling the movie & discovered the unique combination applicable to that movie only.

4 - Internet communities for filmmakers are probably overrated. Sure, we can learn about other filmmakers & various screening & other development opportunities through the web, but, ultimately, movies are made in the real/outside of the web world (generally) & screened in that same real world. Even though it is possible to watch movies over the web, that's a whole other & new industry that probably will not replace the joy & excitement of watching movies with other people in the real world. So, at some point you will have to make some filmmaking friends in the real world & if not many such people live in your town, you might have to move.

5 - There are multiple dangers in being or trying to be both a film critic/reviewer & a filmmaker. At some point, if you want to go the the "next level" (whatever that next level may be for you at your current point of career development) on either profession, it will probably be easier to choose whichever one you like best (either criticism/reviewing or filmmaking) & work on that goal. Filmmakers work for a broader audience (generally), critics/reviewers work for a very narrow audience (mostly other critics/reviewers & also for film historians & educators) and ultimately film criticism is not necessary for film production & distribution. Criticism is a completely separate line of work, related only in a very minor way to filmmaking. Also, critics (professional film watchers) are looking for different things from movies than regular, paying (with money or time) audience members. As a filmmaker you are probably better off being outside of the critical mind & community & more in touch with filmmaker & audience needs.

6 - All of the following things now can be done by one person, one item at a time:

- writing a screenplay

- fundraising (in this case it's using $s from day job, & donations, & small loans/"investments" from friends)

- casting

- directing rehearsals

- shooting the film & sound recording (may be better if there was help for these items, but not impossible to do well by oneself -with a lot of practice)

- lighting

- directing actors

- editing

- setting up screenings

- creating DVDs

- setting up websites & blogs to promote the film

- managing a screening

- selling DVDs over the web

- shipping DVDs out to customers

That's pretty much, in broad strokes, all the steps required for creating, showing & selling for home use an indie film. On top of those you can look at other web distribution options such as Internet VOD (video on demand). And beyond that all the usual distribution avenues - television, working with theatrical distributors, etc.

7 - So, we are at the point in time when filmmaking can be practiced by one artist with some assistance from just a few others. Just like writing, music making, painting, etc. That kind of production & being is not Hollywood, nor is it Indiewood, it is its own new thing. And, in the near future, it may have its own star & superstar practitioners. So, all in all, this is a very good moment for people who are interested in making movies (even if it is a bad moment for people who want to break into Hollywood through indie filmmaking).

What about the new indie film scene? Well, that's always happening. There is always a bunch of people making real indie movies & keeping in touch/helping each other out & writing about it, checking out each others movies, etc. If you look over the past two months worth of posts on this or most other blogs & sites that cover real indie film, you'll probably see over a dozen links, per site, to various real indie film scenes - small & large. That overall scene will expand as more & more people make real indie movies & let others know about it & connect with other filmmakers & audience members. Scenes/communities happen when filmmakers stay in touch with other filmmakers. Filmmakers happen when people make movies. So, at the core of filmmaking communities is the decision to make movies & keep in touch with others who do the same kind of work - both are items that most people can now do if they decide to organize their lives in such a way as to make those activities possible - thanks to new filmmaking technology & the web.

And you could also go check out what's playing at venues such as Anthology - they've been showing new & old real indie films for a long, long time. Also at a lot of the smaller indie film festivals. Also check out postings re: D.I.Y. screenings - at the sites of filmmakers or at blogs like this where such events are mentioned from time to time. All those spaces & events are places where real indie communities & meetings happen.

So, the bottom line on the state of indie film: it's the best time to make real indie films, it is probably as challenging as ever to break into Hollywood by making indie films, there are both web & outside-of-web/real world spaces for watching real indie films & also being a part of the indie film scene.

So, ultimately, for an indie filmmaker, this sounds like a pretty good place in time/good point in history of indie film.

- Sujewa

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

A post about an old timey (1934) movie/doc about Sri Lanka

Shooting Down Pictures writes about Song of Ceylon (1934). Have not seen it yet, have heard about it, looking forward to checking it out at some point. Read all about it at Shooting Down Pictures (& see clips).

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Moving - be back normal sauce style in a month

Thanks to my landlord (actually, landlady) & various arrangements, found a small but 2 bdrm apt in a very nice neighborhood in Brooklyn, so, tons of things need to be done to get my stuff in MD organized & moved & also same with my stuff in Bed Stuy - so - I don't think there will be many new posts here for the next 30 days or so.

As on-going film projects (Date Number One, Indie Film Blogger Road Trip, Brooklyn Fantastic) come to completion of various stages (start of distro in a given format, post-production, production, etc.), will post updates here. Other than that, no blogging 'till the epic moving project is done.

Have a great rest of May, see ya (back on a regular/daily basis) in mid-June.

- Sujewa

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DJ Spooky on digital culture


DJ Spooky on Digital Culture from Brian Lehrer Live on Vimeo.

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McG must travel to the past & hire a very good screenwriter & an editor to save us from the current version of Terminator Salvation

The audience I saw Terminator Salvation with in a theater in Silver Spring, Maryland tonight was laughing AT certain scenes & lines spoken by characters in the movie.

So, one of the scariest movies/stories of my younger days has been turned into a confusing & mostly nonsensical accidental comedy in its 4th incarnation.

We need to send McG back in time, to maybe 3 or 4 years ago (whatever point before they started shooting TS).

Here are some of the elements McG & a great/skilled screenwriter & an editor need to work on, as they re-make TS:

- the threat to humanity needs to be less sci-fi/time travel/alternate reality/theoretical whatever. What worked in the original terminator was that AN UNSTOPPABLE ROBOT WAS COMING TO KILL HUMANS.

-- possible ways to achieve this: take the story forward in time - Skynet has given up on trying to use time travel to keep John Conner from being born. Now it is using other methods, unexpected & more sinister methods, to deal with John Conner & the Resistance: how about creating a John Conner look-alike Terminator to mislead the Resistance. Maybe the real John Conner/the human one has to battle crazy odds to put a stop to this.

- if you must use the current send-the-teenage-version-of-your-dad-back-in-time story, MAKE IT SIMPLER - maybe have Skynet reveal to that android who thinks he is human character exactly how the time travel/time manipulation thing is a real threat to humans, a definite threat.

- the humans need to behave in ways that make some realistic sense - like why would a resistance fighter risk her life to save a terminator type person? We need more background on that yo.

- also, what's up with characters who have never met before completing each others ideas/sentences - being aware of each others needs & storylines though such information has never been revealed to them? Is there some sort of a hidden time travel/whatever reality at work in the world of the movie? If so, let us know, sell us on it.

- also, the world of the movie does not make much sense. Why are there massive Resistance air bases with jets & helicopters? Wouldn't Skynet be able to detect planes taking off & landing?

- also, how is destroying one shiny & tall & very visible building going to kill a computer based/electronic intelligence that could live all over the world - in underground computers, in satellites, as invisible signals, whatever. We need to see how & why Skynet is limited (if it is actually limited) to that one big building Conner & friends are trying to take out.

I thought Bale's John Conner did a good job, trying to figure out the various timelines & what things mean. Bale's character seems both sufficiently lost & moving forward determinedly at the same time - as he must, since he knows that what he knows (his mother's tapes, the past) is real. The thing that needs to change is the world that he operates in - a less confusing time travel threat, a less confusing world (for the audience), and a bigger threat from the Terminators/Skynet. So good job on directing Bale well in the present version of TS McG, & good job to Bale for whatever choices he made to keep the Conner character behaving "realistically" in a half-formed world - keep those things in when you re-make TS.

Anyway, good luck with going back in time & fixing TS. If all goes well in the next time line this blog entry will not exist, and I will instead be coming home from the theater going f* yeah!, T4 rocked!

- Sujewa

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Talking about final cut

In this episode of Very Independent Producers, Ted Hope, Christine Vachon & John Sloss discuss directors having or not having final cut on their projects:





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Jordan & Bear: Episode 5

This one has a dream sequence.


Jordan & Bear: Episode 05 from Phase Four Productions on Vimeo


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Indie Film Blogger Road Trip - Episode 2: North Carolina, Rest Stop, Atlanta 1

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Check it out here (while I figure out how to embed a player that'll fit right into this space).

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In this episode we visit Chuck Tryon (The Chutry Experiment) in North Carolina, then take a food break at a roadside restaurant, and continue on to Atlanta. Atlanta Part 1 features a walk in a park with Noralil Ryan Fores (ShortEnd Magazine, we'll see more of Fores in Episode 3), and an interview with Gabe Wardell (Gabe's Declaration of Principles) & Paula Martinez (Paula's After Thoughts) who are directors of the Atlanta Film Festival. Topics discussed include: roles blogs play in keeping in touch with film culture in larger cities, positive and negative sides of the film blogging revolution.

For more on Indie Film Blogger Road Trip, go here.

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Old man Stewart shakes his fist at Twitter

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Twitter Frenzy
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor
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Alfonse Maiorino blog 5
http://alfonsemaiorino5.blogspot.com/2012/04/blogger-user-profile-alfonse-maiorino.html

Links at Alfonse Maiorino Blogger Profile page:
http://www.blogger.com/profile/01850766319936497029


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