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BREAKTHROUGH WEEKEND Teaser Trailer

Friday, December 30, 2005

My 2006 Blog Project: Write about 52 D.I.Y. Features. Submit info, get some press filmmakers!

Time to help build the m*****f***ing US (& world?) D.I.Y. indie film scene up baby! Time to take the overall US (& world?) indie film scene down to the proverbial next hot & sweaty level. Since I have at least a dozen, maybe 15, readers at this blog, my help-my-D.I.Y.-film-brothers-&-sisters-in-2006 project is to write about 1 new (new to this blog in '06) D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself), ultra-low budget/no-budget, self-distributed (or willing to self-distribute) feature length film every week of this coming year.

So, low-budget/no-budget D.I.Y. filmmakers out there:
* Post a comment here about your new feature and include the URL for the project's web site
* E-mail me directly if you do not want to leave a comment, tell me about your movie (e-mail:
wilddiner at aol dot com), my e-mail addy link is available from this blog's About Me type page, or you can go to my web site & e-mail me from there: http://www.wilddiner.com/.
* When you have some preview DVDs, send me one, no guarantee that I will watch it & write about it, but most likely I will, whenever I am not busy with distro work on my new movie Date Number One. Actually, send me an e-mail first and let me know about the film, will let ya know if I wanna see it, so that you don't have to waste time & money on it otherwise. Will give my snail mailing addy through the e-mail.
* Both US & international filmmakers are welcome (but if you are gonna send me a foreign DVD, make sure it can play in the USA - NTSC region 1 I think is the local format)

All right, let's get this thing started. For Week 1 of 2006 (Sun 1/1/06 - Sat 1/7/05) I am going to point my dozen or so readers to an '05 project called Kissing On The Mouth. So here we go:

Filmmaking For The Poor 2006 52 D.I.Y. Features Blog Project
Week 1 - 1/1/06 - 1/7/06, Film 1
Title: Kissing On The Mouth
A film by: Joe Swanberg, Kris Williams, Kate Winterich, and Kevin Pittman
The goods:
This film caught my attention due to a Braintrustdv interview where filmmaker Joe Swanberg revealed his affinity for indie rock scene/industry inspired self-distribution:

"As really good projectors become cheaper and cheaper, and more and more independent-minded people create microcinemas to showcase outsider films, I can image a network that would allow a filmmaker like me to get in a car and travel around the country showing the film to audiences and charging for tickets at the door."

And also because apparently this film openly and clearly depicts people having sex, which is not something you find everyday in the art/indie/DIY films that I check out (haven't seen 9 Songs yet). Anyway, Kissing On The Mouth is about the romantic and sexual drama of four young people. I'll write more about this project after I see it. In the meantime, check out this excellent Braintrustdv interview and check out the film's site.

UPDATE :: 12/31/05 3:17 AM
What am I doing up at 3:17 AM? Don't ask. But the good news is that this blogging thing works pretty well. Less then 24 hours after publishing the above entry, I learned that a couple of filmmakers are already sending me their DVDs to review. One of the movies that I will write about in the near future is The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah. It sounds like a funny & interesting movie. Chuck T. wrote about it a while back. Oh, and Happy New Year!

UPDATE :: 1/1/06 10:38 AM (January Freakin' First 2!0!0!SIX!!!!!!)
Happy New Year for real kids! Kissing On The Mouth's Joe Swanberg just finished making a new feature film called LOL. Here's a part of the synopsis from the site:
" The relationships of three men are explored through their use of technology. Tim is an Internet addict, struggling to give his girlfriend the attention she craves. Alex can't commit to real girls because he's holding out for one he met online. Chris is home from college for the summer, and his cell phone is the lifeline between he and his girlfriend. " Joe's influences include
Caveh Zahedi, Larry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" David and Michael Winterbottom, a pretty fine creative, funny & productive set of peeps to be inspired by I'd say. I believe I will be able to review LOL here on this blog this month. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Best Film Blog of 2005: GreenCine Daily

I choose GreenCine Daily as the best film blog of 2005. I first stumbled upon this excellent blog, written for the most part by David Hudson, in early '05 and moved on thinking that it is not a blog but a newspaper or a magazine or something because the production values and the quality of the writing were so insanely high for a mere blog. Then, a while later, I interviewed Jon Moritsugu, and I e-mailed several indie film press outlets, including GreenCine Daily, about the existence of the interview. David mentioned my Moritsugu interview, and from that point on I was an avid reader of GC Daily (now that it was proven that GC Daily is in fact an actual blog in spirit and practice for reasons that I find valuable - accessible to probably anyone who is into film/who is willing to shoot David an e-mail re: a relevant matter). Anyway, GC Daily embodies excellent craftsmanship and a sense of high quality egalitarianism (David writes about unknown excellent indie filmmakers as well as excellent Hollywood classics) and even though it is joined at the hip with the video on demand and mail order DVD company GreenCine, the scope of material covered at the blog makes it evident that GC Daily is not just the house organ or a promo newsletter for GreenCine. Also GC Daily embodies well the D.I.Y. news coverage and direct communication possibilities that live at the very core of the whole idea of blogging. So GreenCine Daily, you rock, excellent work in 2005, looking forward to reading you daily in 2006.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

10 Filmmakers To Watch In 2006

Merry Christmas everyone! And of course Happy Holidays, for all you non-Christian inclined rock stars like myself out there. It's early morning in Kensington, MD and I am still high on the Christmas food, family & assorted holiday related dramas, and I am still in a year-end list making mood. So here's a list that looks forward, all the way to year 2006 - it's the future but it is only 7 days away! All of the filmmakers listed below have recently completed or released interesting sounding movies, will be playing festivals and theaters in some cases, and their work should be available on DVD now or at some point in '06. Some of their recent works I have seen and liked, and for the rest, I am looking forward to checking out their movies in the new year. And finally, applause & drum roll please, here's my !10 Filmmakers To Watch In 2006 list!, in alphabetical order:

1. Kelley Baker
The Angry Filmmaker. He tours with his movies, teaches workshops, has done sound work for Gus Van Sant, has a cool D.I.Y. film distro philosophy, and he's got a 2005 film called
Kicking Bird that I am looking forward to checking out. What will Kelley do in '06?

2. Andrew Bujalski
Andrew's Mutual Appreciation has appeared on several "best of 2005" lists. I saw the movie and liked it a lot. Mutual Appreciation is about an indie rocker who moves to New York City, tries to get settled and working, and starts to draw some special attention from his best friend's girlfriend. Mutual Appreciation played in several festivals in '05, I am looking forward to seeing this movie go in front of a wider audience in '06.

3. Andrew Dickson
As I discovered yesterday, Kensington, Maryland has several connections to the L.A. indie and Hollywood production worlds. Yesterday I met 3 people who live in L.A. and are involved with the movies as producers and or directors. They were all visiting family in Kensington. Andrew Dickson is one of them and he is definitely the more indie of the three. Andrew is currently busy with a very interesting and hilarious sounding performance art piece called AC Dickson eBay PowerSeller. He's got some film projects cooking too, but I won't go into those details here. I am sure we'll hear about them as the new year unfolds. The fact that Andrew took his movie Good Grief on the road like a touring punk rocker in '01 has placed him on my filmmakers to watch in '06 list.

4. Miranda July
How do you follow up a Cannes win and an excellent, odd romantic comedy? I do not know but Miranda probably has some ideas. Looking forward to seeing what she does in '06.
In the meantime, here's the web site for her '05 movie Me And You And Everyone We Know and the blog for that movie.

5. Jon Moritsugu
Last time I spoke with Jon he was working on a script and getting ready to shoot a new feature. So, if it all goes well, Jon should have a new feature done or close to completion in '06, I think. His very enjoyable '03 movie Scumrock was shot on Hi-8 and it won all kinds of awards. Here is a September '05 interview I did with this legendary & inspirational* punk/underground/indie filmmaker. [*Scumrock: !an award winning feature shot on Hi-freakin'-8 (& edited linear using 2 VCRs!!!)!]]]

6. Amir Motlagh
Amir is the hardest working man I know in this indie film show business. He is working on his first feature Whale at the moment. I liked his shorts Still Lover and My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces a lot, so I am looking forward to seeing Whale in '06.

7. Elizabeth Nord
Did you know there is a punk scene in Israel? Never thought about it did you? Me too, until I heard about Liz's documentary Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land. Looking forward to seeing it in '06.

8. Todd Rohal
Todd's new film The Guatemalan Handshake got into Slamdance '06. I've been checking out his production blog, so it will be very cool to see the results of all the effort.

9. James Spooner
James has a new movie called White Lies, Black Sheep. I still have not seen his previous movie, the documentary Afro-Punk. Will be checking both those flicks out in '06.

10. Caveh Zahedi
Caveh's movie I Am A Sex Addict was my favorite movie of '05. Sex Addict will be playing in theaters in '06, starting with Seattle's Northwest Film Forum on January 6. Looking forward to seeing the theatrical self-distribution campaign unfold, and then the DVD, and then seeing what Caveh will do next. Whatever it will be, I am sure it will be wild.

And of course I am looking forward to seeing how people will react to my new feature
Date Number One when I show it all over America next year. Showed a bit of it to a friend from Seattle last night, he liked what he saw and thinks the kids in Seattle will dig it. We'll find out for sure in '06.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy 2006 everyone!

Sujewa
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Saturday, December 17, 2005

A New Romance, "Good Grief", Fave Movies of 2005

It's been a most interesting & delicious birthday week over in these here parts. Met an awesome new girl at The Cassettes show on 12/9 Fri, been hanging out w/ her a lot, and had my b-day a few days ago, so not much film or blogging work got done this week but I think a lot of important life work - possible raw material for future art work - happened.

When I got to work today I found on my desk a Punk Planet article written by Andrew Dickson about him touring with his movie Good Grief. It is an interesting account of his adventures on the road. Since touring is the preferred & recommended way of low budget/no budget theatrical self-distro for myself and a couple of other DIY film people I know, I am into what Dickson is talking about. Here is a page w/ info. on Good Grief.

And now, ladies, sea horses and gentlemen, my Favorite Movies of 2005, as of 12/17/05 (being movies I saw for the first time in '05, one of these was first released slightly earlier):

1. I Am A Sex Addict
2. Good Night, And Good Luck
3. Mutual Appreciation
4. The 40 Year-Old Virgin
5. Melinda And Melinda
6. Me And You And Everyone We Know
7. Broken Flowers
8. Scumrock (a '03/'04 release, but I saw it for the 1st time this year)
9. Junebug
10. March of the Penguins

Note: This list may be revised on or before 1/1/06. I have not yet seen Syrianna, Munich, The New World, or Match Point.

Thank you & good night! It's back to Date Number One editing for me. Talk to you again in a few days.

- The Sujewa

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Romper Stomper comes to life in Australia

Some news accounts say it was 5,000 White youths attacking Muslim/Lebanese looking people on an Australian beach, and other stories said it was 20,000 - 30,000 people. Well, time to cancel my travel plans to Australia. I don't really feel that having to fight off thousands of neo-Nazis or just drunken idiots or whatever they are as they attempt to stick a broken bottle into my neck would be a fun way to spend my free time. First France, and now the Land Down Under. 1992's "Romper Stomper", one of Russell Crow's pre-Hollywood fame movies, took a fictional look at racial violence in Australia. Come on France & Australia, get your intergration thing going, that White power stuff (or Muslim power or Laotian power or Sinhala power or Tamil power for that matter) is a dead end.

We all die at some point babies, keep your ugly tribalism in check in the meantime. Evil hate action gets in the way of commerce, creativity and productivity and more importantly it gets in the way of enjoying the little bit 'o life granted to us by this sweet and bitter universe.

"Birthing is hard and dying is mean-- so get yourself a little loving in between."
- Langston Hughes
American poet

And while we are sort of on the subject, check out these blog entries I wrote a while back about the false and dangerous but very popular concept of race. People do all manner of wicked stuff to belong easily and to have an easy & simple identity. Flex your head: recognize individuality, reject negative groupthink, hold only the guilty accountable for evil actions - not people who just look like them, and use the legal system to punish people - that's why we have that thing people.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Am An Award Addict: 1 Question w/ Caveh Zahedi Re: The Gotham Award

I spoke w/ Caveh Zahedi, director of the film "I Am A Sex Addict", in mid-November when he came to Silver Spring to show the movie. A few days ago he won a Gotham Award. I asked him about how it felt to win the award. Here's the question and the answer:

SUJEWA: Caveh, how do you feel about winning the IFP/Filmmaker presented "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You" Gotham Award?

CAVEH: It feels great. The Awards Ceremony was a lot of fun, and it's wonderful to be recognized for your work, but the high only lasts a few days, and then you have to win another award...

*

For more on this topic see this December 3rd blog entry from the Filmmaker Magazine's blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kelley Baker: Makes Movies, Travels

Filmmaker Kelly Baker AKA Angry Filmmaker has a new movie called Kicking Bird. Baker travels the US and shows his movies, teaches filmmaking workshops.
He's done sound work for Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes. And he's got a blog. Baker is a source of inspiration for DIY filmmakers.

Here's the description for Kicking Bird from Baker's website:
"KICKING BIRD (2005) is the story of Martin "Bird" Johnson, a 17 year old white trash high school kid who runs. With his Mother in jail, his father gone, one brother in a work camp and his bitter grandfather beating him, there is nothing else to do but run! One day the manipulative high school cross country Coach sees Martin out run his entire team, (they want to beat him up), and thinks that Martin is his ticket to a college coaching position. On a budget of $6000 and an 18 day shooting schedule this movie was shot in digital video. It features an original Soundtrack also available on CD."

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Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Grants page


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Chamber


Farzad Rostami – Delaware History Trail


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Historical Society


Farzad Rostami – History of Delaware


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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving movie: Pieces of April. Cause of the day: Human Rights Watch

Pieces Of April

Yeah, it's not really indie if Katie "TV Star" Holmes is in it, but, the project is an InDigEnt project (I believe $100K DV movies is the goal of the program) BUT all indie/DIY pedigree aside, it's a good movie. A movie about Thanksgiving.

I just moved to a new grouphouse, and my new roomies (or is it housemies?) are blissfully unaware of the nitty gritty of indie film, so, I have the pleasure of getting them up to date on the works & the movements (perhaps much to their pain :). I will be taking Pieces Of April home for Thanksgiving weekend viewing.

Here's why I recommend the movie: 1) it's shot on DV (always encouraging for us lo-budget filmmakers to see a DV film get distro), 2) it deals with mortality (too many of us humans don't realize often enough that we are only visitors here), 3) it deals with family (can't live with 'em sometimes and wouldn't want to live without 'em), 4) it's got a little bit of multi-ethnic casting (looks a little more like the real New York City then Friends or Seinfeld, in my perspective [but I guess it all depends on who you're friends with, hang out with, perceive & reflect on everyday]), 5) it tells a good story, 6) I can't think of a better Thanksgiving movie, 7) I like the hair color of Holmes' character.

Human Rights Watch

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let us look beyond art/entertainment and pay some attention to people who are constantly working on making the lives of others better, let's check out Human Rights Watch (and perhaps share some of your good fortune with them by making a donation to them). Thanks a lot for your excellent & important hard work Human Rights Watch.

Have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone.

Sujewa
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Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 2 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 3 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 4 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 5 blog


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Grants page


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Chamber


Farzad Rostami – Delaware History Trail


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Historical Society


Farzad Rostami – History of Delaware


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Film Production Tips From Greg Pak

Greg Pak, director of the theatrically self-distributed feature "Robot Stories" (now available on DVD & VHS from Kino), has been operating a web site called Film Help. Its got useful info. for anyone about to make a movie. Some of the tech info. is old (such as the review of the VX-1000 camera) but still very useful (if you know how to use a VX-1000, you won't have too much trouble figuring out how to use its current siblings such as the PD-170). Check out various sections of Film Help for useful tips on other areas of the whole indie filmmaking game. Check out resources like Film Help and go make that no budget/no star but still excellent movie rock stars.

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Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 2 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 3 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 4 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 5 blog


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Grants page


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Chamber


Farzad Rostami – Delaware History Trail


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Historical Society


Farzad Rostami – History of Delaware


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Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Brief Conversation With Caveh Zahedi Re: "I Am A Sex Addict"

Caveh Zahedi has written and directed a very funny and apparently brutally honest film called "I Am A Sex Addict." The movie is an autobiographical comedy-drama with a whole lot of reenactments, done with an excellent sense of humor and quick structural gymnastics that I have rarely seen before. "...Sex Addict..." tells the story of Zahedi's long struggle with and ultimate recovery from his addiction to sex with prostitutes. The film played at the AFI Silver theater in Silver Spring, Maryland on Tuesday, November 15 as a part of the Under The Influence film series. Following the film there was a moderated discussion with the audience. This discussion included a psychoanalyst who went to great lengths to illuminate the issues that Zahedi's character deals with in the movie. It was an educational and amusing experience. After that official post-show discussion, three other audience members (including blogger and media scholar Chuck Tryon) and I sat down with Zahedi for a more informal discussion and a quick interview:

Sujewa: Can filmmaking be dangerously addictive?

Caveh: Yes.

Sujewa: All right. Did success, or lack of success, in your pursuit of a filmmaking career, contribute to your sex addiction?

Caveh: Yes, like I said at the beginning (of the movie), I was frustrated in my career, my marriage was frustrating, my career was frustrating, and in that vortex of frustration, something just kind of snapped.

Sujewa: Got it. Earlier on in your life, did being an Iranian-American propel you towards being a filmmaker? Since there are not a lot of images of Iranian-Americans in our media?

Caveh: No, that's not why I went into film. But one thing that is interesting is that if you look at Iranian cinema, a lot of it is very self-reflexive. It is a very metaphysical kind of cinema, and it's very much like what I do in a way. But I started doing it before I had seen any Iranian films. It might be like a genetic thing. The issues that interest me seem to interest other Iranian filmmakers as well, and it is weird because it is very much an Iranian cinema thing.

Sujewa: So you see similarities between how your films and their films go about addressing the issues raised in the works?

Caveh: Yeah, I mean they seem to be interested in the whole question of representation and revealing that it is a movie. They are very interested in the fiction/non-fiction relationship, and all of my films are kind of like that.

Chuck Tryon: The 9-11 film that you did, if I remember correctly, your film was about a class, about the process of making a film. I thought it was a really interesting way to address the trauma of September 11.

Caveh: Yeah, the film is all about how one student does not want to be in the movie. And I am trying to get him to be in the movie, and being coercive. I threaten to throw him out if he doesn't sign the form, but he doesn't agree to sign the form, to give permission to be in the movie. And I eventually persuade him to sign the form, and we see him sign the form and hand it to me. So it's kind of like it's a drama on two levels. That kind of thing is very Iranian I think.

Another Person At The Table (I did not catch his name): Do you think this film will have a role in bringing more attention to sex addiction and establishing it as an actual addiction?

Caveh: Yeah, I think it will, and that's kind of why I made it. I really made it because when I went to my first sex addiction meeting I found it to be a very healing thing. I heard men talk openly about their sexual addiction problems. I'd never heard anyone talk about that before and I had always felt very alone. The shame is much greater when you feel like you are the only person doing something, so I kind of wanted to do for others what the men in the meeting had done for me by being honest with me. And since I am a filmmaker, the natural thing to do was to make a film about it, in order to reach more people and put it out there so that it would be less shameful for others to say "me too". People come up to me at screenings and say "me too." They feel that they can say that because I've created a space where they feel that they can do that.

Sujewa: Do you think distributors have turned down this movie mostly because this movie deals so directly with sex addiction?

Caveh: No, I think they just want to make a profit. They are afraid that it is too edgy, too threatening to people. They are always going for the middle of the road kind of thing that will maximize profits, the what-will-play-in-Kansas kind of thing.

Sujewa: No one's offered anything that you thought was a decent amount of money?

Caveh: No one's offered anything at all.

Sujewa: Wow, that's silly.

Caveh: The movie has played a lot of festivals, about twenty so far. Distributors have had the chance to see it. They know that people really like it.

Sujewa: I read that The Debut made like 2 million dollars through self distribution. I think you might end up all right with self-distribution.

Caveh: I think I will be.

Sujewa: About going from film to DV in your career, "A Little Stiff" was shot on film and the rest of the movies on video right?

Caveh: No, "I Don't Hate Las Vegas Anymore" was shot on film too.

Sujewa: What do you think about the two formats?

Caveh: I like them both, but for me it's great to be able to shoot & reshoot & reshoot. I am not a purist about it.

Sujewa: What are the upcoming theatrical self-distribution play dates for the movie?

Caveh: January 6 at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, January 27 at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, February 10 at the Cinema Village in New York City. Those are the only dates set so far.

Sujewa: Your past work has been concerned with spirituality and God, what do you think about life after death?

Caveh: I hope there is life after death.

Sujewa: What do you think about aliens and UFOs?

Caveh: I've never seen any.

Sujewa: Have audience members been hostile towards you after seeing the movie? Today's audience was very sympathetic I thought.

Caveh: Most audiences have been overwhelmingly sympathetic. There's always somebody who is pissed off but generally, surprisingly, most people have been sympathetic.

Sujewa: That one actress in the movie, was she really a French porn star?

Caveh: Yeah, she's a real French porn star.

Sujewa: In general the film was great. I liked the reflecting-on-itself type of structure, and how you made it all funny. Good job Caveh.

Caveh: Thanks.

And after that we talked some more, I turned off my camera and got quiet so other people at the table could ask some questions from Zahedi. After about 10 minutes or so the organizers of the film series pulled Zahedi away. Three of us from the table walked off into the warm Silver Spring night to get some coffee at the Tastee Diner, and we were thrilled to have been able to talk with the maker of the excellent "I Am A Sex Addict".

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Caveh Zahedi's "I Am A Sex Addict" nominated for a Gotham Award

The new award is from Filmmaker Magazine & IFP. Read all about it here:
http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/blog/2005/11/attractions-from-far-away.php

On a related note, coming in a day or two to this very same blog, a brand spankin' new interview w/ Caveh Zahedi, from the 11/15 Silver Spring, MD screening of the film.

Keep rockin' babies.

Sujewa "The Transcriber"
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Punk: Attitude", a documentary by Don Letts

Started watching the recently released 2 DVD punk documentary feast that is Don Letts' movie "Punk: Attitude". Finished watching the main film this morning, it was an informative & inspiring piece of work. This film fills in the gaps in my chronological knowledge of how the punk scene came into existence and grew into the many tentacled post- creature it is now. Important history covered includes info. on how the NYC punk culture affected the London punk culture (in the first wave of punk), and how Black Flag (of the Hard Core punk wave in the early 80's) was the first American band from that scene to set nation-wide and constant touring as a standard in that new D.I.Y. culture (creating the foundation & building the circuit for the scene that, 15-20 some years later, gained a whole lotta mainstream media exposure with the large scale marketing of the Seattle band Nirvana in the early 90's). A must-see for anyone interested in youth cultures and music. Personally, it was a joy to witness several of my secret heroes & Creative People of Interest: Jim Jarmusch, Fugazi, Minor Threat, The Clash, etc. in one movie. Henry Rollins, along with Jarmusch, is one of the several amusing and insightful commentators who show up throughout the film. Here's the web site for the movie: http://www.punkattitude.co.uk/.

Also saw the extra item about the L.A. punk scene, a short doc made by Dick Rude. It was funny & informative. Apparently it was possible to be young & very miserable in sunny California in the early 80's (and, on a separate note, I really liked Rude's movie about Joe Strummer, it's called "Let's Rock Again", saw it last year). Looking forward to checking out all the extras on this DVD set.

Let's hope a whole new generation of young musicians, other artists, and activists discover the spirit of creative rebellion, non-conformity with evil, righteous indignation and the do-it-yourself ethic through this film. We can definitely use it right now.

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Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 3 blog


Farzad Rostami Delaware Tobacco 4 blog


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Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Grants page


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Small Business Chamber


Farzad Rostami – Delaware History Trail


Farzad Rostami – Delaware Historical Society


Farzad Rostami – History of Delaware


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Friday, November 11, 2005

Show Report: Jem Cohen's "Chain" at the Hirshhorn Nov. 10, 2005

Went to see "Chain" at the Hirshhorn, it was, all in all, a lovely experience. The real world, the world outside of television and the internet, can be very fascinating under the right conditions. I took the metro to the Hirshorn, an excellent looking museum. The place was packed. Lots of people waiting patiently at the door to the screening room, hundreds of people, some talking with each other. Can't get that with renting a DVD at home by yourself (a note to all you kids out there trying to eliminate the theatrical experience). Got in to the theater, the 500 seat auditorium (at least I heard that it was 500 seats) filled up fast, people had to be turned away. A second show was announced, immediately following the first show. The programmer (whose name I did not catch) introduced executive producer Guy Picciotto (of DC bands Fugazi & Rites Of Spring fame, according to some rock writers the inventor of the Emo genre of punk/rock music). Guy said that they were having technical difficulties and that we would have to watch the movie from a VHS tape, not the digital tape as Jem had intended. No one protested too loudly. Guy also said he would come up to answer questions about the movie, after the show (Jem was traveling in Europe). And the movie began. The Hirshhorn screen is huge (I was in the front row, an excellently designed theater by the way, the screen size sure beats the "large TV" size screen at the Goethe). The movie unfolded in its hand made charm. Indie film stars Miho Nikaido and Mira Billotte played two transient women, propelled by vastly different causes, who spend a lot of time in the American mainstream/suburban landscape. I won't give too much away, there are a lot of neat and small elements to each woman's story. Since I see the world mostly as a comedy I liked Mira's character a lot, her approach to the world is laid back and perhaps unintentionally humorous. Miho's character is a very dedicated employee and thus we were not privy to her own personal experience outside of work, she talked a lot about her company's goals and the role she plays within those ambitions. Even through VHS Jem's images have an accessible charm, maybe all it is just seeing familiar locations projected large on a movie screen, malls and parking lots have rarely looked that poetic before. Maybe it's just the arresting magic of cinema, removing us from our environment and allowing us to observe and reflect on it. Maybe it is the fact that this movie was shot on 16 MM, and that I have been on a steady diet of digital images for some time now. Anyway, it took about an hour for me to fully realize that the movie that I am watching is a work of fiction, not a documentary. This, my friends, is a new and more accomplished model for a mockumentary or an intentionally fake documentary. Even though and perhaps because of the minimalism (compared to all the sensory overload that comes with even an Indiewood talking heads picture) of this movie, it was very easy to start caring about the characters on the screen. Some mildly shocking statements were made by the characters. Statements that revealed that even though the US and Japan may have cities and suburbs that look identical, the mainstream view of how the world operates, held by the populations of each country, are still very different. Perhaps the insides of nations, or world views, change at a different rate than the outside of nations, or business and retail complexes and housing developments. The movie came to an end with some relatively unique images. People clapped. Guy announced that the second show would be done using the digital copy of the movie, technical problem fixed. Some people left, some people stayed behind to ask Guy questions. Questions asked covered the following topics and more: production (Jem shot this movie over a 7-8 year period), budget(unknown), how the film was cast (Jem had seen Miho in a movie, met her in NYC, Mira was recommended by Guy & Ian "Fugazi, The Evens" MacKaye). I asked a complex question linking the movie with French architecture and the recent French riots, Guy agreed that the question was complex, but an audience member from Germany informed me that the French cities w/ the African & Muslim immigration population in the center suffered little or no damage, compared to those areas where the immigrant populations were less centralized or were on the margins of the city (or something like that, was not able to focus fully on the explation in that environment & moment). Can't get that kind of an exchange watching a DVD at home. Guy said several more interesting things about the project, which I will not elaborate on here because I do not want to ruin your live "Chain" experience ('cause I am sure all of you will go check this movie out when it plays near you). The next show was about to begin, we said goodbye and left. On the way back to the metro I talked with another person from the audience, a stranger, about the movie and related topics, and he told me about Kirkegard's theories about the effect of the environment on the aesthete and what it means.

Like Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise" or like experiencing a church basement Positive Force DC indie/punk rock show, "Chain" offers a technically simple (seemingly), accessible, but totally inspiring and dare I say positively transformative experience that made me want to go home and work on editing my movie and made me notice the ordinary surroundings that I walked through daily in a more romantic light (at least for three hours or so at full effect). Can't get that from your average recent Hollywood or Indiewood movie or DVD (I know 'cause I tried all last week to recharge my creative batteries with the help of those movies and failed). Those movies, like malls, allow you to escape but at the same time alienates with glitz and slickness. "Chain" uplifts by bringing you closer to the beauty and sadness of ordinary existence and the ordinary man-made environment but at the same time neutralizes the psychological threats brought on by that same existence/environment by showing you its mortality and humanness. Good job Jem, Miho and Mira. !Thanksalot! Guy & Hirshhorn for a lovely evening of art/entertainment.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Caveh Zahedi in Silver Spring, MD on 11/15 w/ "I Am A Sex Addict"

I am off to see Jem Cohen's "Chains" at the Hirshhorn (see Chuck Tryon's write up on it here: http://chutry.wordherders.net/archives/005121.html), but here's info. on Caveh Zahedi's upcoming trip to town:

Filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (who played himself in Richard Linklater's "Waking Life") will be in Silver Spring, MD on 11/15/05 to present his new film "I Am A Sex Addict" at the AFI Silver, as a part of the Under The Influence film series.

Here's some useful info. about the screening series and the film, from http://www.recoverynetworkfoundation.org/uti.htm :

All films are shown at American Film Institute Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. 20910.
*Show times are 6:30-9:30 PM
*Admission is Free but you must have tickets.
Tickets are distributed at the AFI Box Office one hour before show time; two tickets per person maximum.
*Post-Screening discussions with addiction treatment experts, recovery advocates and filmmakers.

I am A sex Addict November 15, 2005

The eagerly anticipated Washington, D.C. area premiere directed by and starring Caveh Zahedi in the title role. "While the story is at once realistic and very serious, the cinematic construction and comedic exhibitionism make it wonderfully absurdist." Margaret Parsons, Guest Curator, Under The Influence. Director Caveh Zahedi will join the audience for the post-screening discussion and will talk about his own experiences in recovery.

Here's Caveh's web site:
http://www.cavehzahedi.com/


Sujewa
*********



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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sarah Jacobson, Inspirational DIY Filmmaker

"What is DIY, you might ask?..."Well, it's a term co-opted from the punk rock movement and it stands for Do It Yourself. For as buzzword-y as the label is, it stands for a very important concept in the independent world -- the idea that you don't need a big company or lots of money to validate you."
- Sarah Jacobson, 1997
from IndieWIRE

Sarah Jacobson (1971 - 2004), produced and directed the following widely seen & praised indie movies:
"I Was A Teenage Serial Killer"
"Mary Jane's Not A Virgin Anymore"
She Started a production and distribution company called Station Wagon Productions.
Her film "Mary Jane..." played the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.
She worked on television shows for Oxygen and VH1.
She traveled the country (and various parts of the world) showing her movies.
She inspired, and continues to inspire, many people (myself included) and was loved by many people (see the comments section of the IndieWIRE article cited below for more on this).

I spoke with Jacobson once on the phone regarding a screening event (at some point between '01 and '03 I think), it was a pleasant conversation, definitely all business, and then I got busy with my work & life, and the next time I heard about her to a very significant degree was in early 2004, when I heard that she had died. Life indeed is cruel (no matter what the "death is a part of life, relax & accept it" crowd says), for it is not acceptable, by any standard of excellence set by humans I respect, for a young and vibrant indie filmmaker to be taken away forever from existence.

Here are some links for further exploration:

a most excellent article about Sarah Jacobson:
Remembering DIY Queen Sarah Jacobson 1971 - 2004
http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_040218sarah.html

GreenCine Daily: Celebrating Sarah Jacobson
http://daily.greencine.com/archives/000379.html


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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Amir Motlagh, Filmmakers Touring Like Indie Rockers, DIY 05

As filmmaker Amir Motlagh http://www.amorproductions.com/amir_motlagh.html (whose new & first feature "Whale" http://www.whalefilm.blogspot.com/ is now in production) can attest to through experience, it is possible for one lone filmmaker to book his film to microcinemas and theaters, get it into festivals, travel and do Q & A sessions, do radio interviews and get the word out on the film, and get DVD sales of the film going through the exposure gained. In addition it will be possible to make some money from ticket sales to certain screenings. Both Amir and I were inspired by the self-distribution and touring successes of punk/indie rock so we have adapted the methods of those creative communities to suit the needs of the indie/DIY filmmaker, and in order to easily discuss the approach we have labeled it the DIY 2005 Film Movement (or DIY 05 for short). Touring with the film is not meant to replace the more well known "distribution company funded/simultaneous opening in several markets" film distribution strategy, but to remind indie/DIY filmmakers of another low-budget distribution option that allows them to have a certain valuable amount of control over their careers. As The French New Wave helped democratize the film business by promoting production with lightweight & more affordable 16MM equipment and as the Dogme 95 film movement promoted digital video film production and digital exhibition, it is my hope that DIY 2005 or the idea of touring with the film, which has been in practice for a long time by a few filmmakers, will promote greater indie/DIY film distribution. The three groups of filmmakers: New Wave, Dogme 95, filmmakers who tour, all highlight novel approaches to the business of filmmaking and distribution that make the cost of entry into the film field more affordable to more people, thus all are valuable examples for poor filmmakers.

Here is the web page for the DIY 2005 Film Movement:
http://www.wilddiner.com/diy2005.htm

3 relatively recent touring indie filmmaker heros who successfully distributed a feature film to theaters:
1. Sarah Jacobson/"Mary Jane's Not A Virgin Anymore"
New York Times Review: http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=154622
IndieWIRE article on the life & career of Sarah Jacobson (1971-2004):
http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_040218sarah.html
2. Gene Cajayon/"The Debut" http://debutfilm.pinoynet.com/home.asp
3. Greg Pak/"Robot Stories" http://www.robotstories.net/

My Blog "On The Road With Date Number One":
This new blog will allow me to easily post updates while I am traveling with my new feature film “Date Number One” during the '06 - '08 theatrical distribution period (hopefully only the Phase 1 of distro on that project). Here is the URL:
http://datenumberonemoviedistroblog.blogspot.com/

And here’s a lengthy October ‘05 blog entry of mine called Making Distro Low Budget Indie & D.I.Y..., on self-distribution and other related matters:
http://watchthismovie.blogspot.com/2005/10/making-distro-low-budget-indie-diy.html

Thanks!
Sujewa
*******



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Monday, November 07, 2005

Todd Verow: Prolific DV Filmmaker

Todd Verow has made over a dozen movies on digital video. I can't point to a document that talks about the budgets of his movies, but, in my "professional indie/poor filmmaker" opinion, his movies look as if they can be made for very little money (unless of course the talent & the small crew are paid tons of money). Either way, very inspiring. Check his web site out over here: http://bangorfilms.com/.

Sujewa
*******



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How I Assembled A Digital Editing Set Up For Under $1500

Of course even $1500, a paltry sum by Hollywood standards, is a lot of money for a lot of the poor filmmakers on this planet, but that amount is within reach for the disciplined American indie filmmaker with a dayjob of some kind (that pays in cash, as opposed to livestock or some other form of currency, I do not think the Apple Store trades their goods for chickens or pigs, yet).
Here is the digital video editing set up that I assembled for cutting my new feature "Date Number One" http://www.wilddiner.com/, along with the cost of each item:

Mac Mini, 40 GB storage (from an Apple Store in DC area) - $500
Firewire cable - FREE (already had it, would be less than $20 to buy)
PC Monitor, 17" - FREE (had an extra one at work, would be about $100-$150 or so to buy, I think)
Apple Keyboard - $40
Apple Mouse - $20
Final Cut Express - $300
Speakers (w/ a sub-woofer - weird name for a gadget - from Radio Shack) - $30
Headphones (from Radio Shack) - $15
Extra, external storage drive from Lacie (not bought yet) - $150
DVD burner (not bought yet) - $150

Total Cost: $1375

I am loading my footage in from a MiniDV camera that I already owned. If such an "edit-camera" had to be purchased, you could do it for around $300 (the Canon ZR 100 por ejemplo).
In that case the total cost of the editing set up will go up to: $1675.

So if you've got a burning desire to make a movie, and no one to fund it, now you know that for less than $2000, you can get everything that you need to edit a DV feature. Hope this helps. Go get a PT job, save up $s, get the gear, & be your own Executive Producer baby.

Keep making excellent movies. More poor-filmmaker friendly postings coming up.

Sujewa
*******



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