Monday, February 27, 2006

"Home" Review

Directed, written and edited by Matt Zoller Seitz
2005, Brooklyn Schoolyard LLC

Review by Sujewa Ekanayake

I may be the wrong person to review "Home" due to my relatively narrow taste in movies (some favorites: "Amelie", "Mystery Train", "Annie Hall", "The Unbelievable Truth"), however I do want to talk about this movie because: I can see that Matt Zoller Seitz, the director of "Home", is very talented, his next feature may be a major breakthrough, and "Home" might be the ideal film for some people. In its promotional material "Home" is billed as a romantic comedy-drama that takes place one night at a party at a house in Brooklyn. "Home" plays like a combination of: a well made documentary like re-enactment of a 20-30 something year old, city-dwelling creatives party where much happens but not much of significance, a collection of a few comic and surreal moments, and several short stories about dramatic moments in several romantic relationships. Due to the fact that "Home" does not fit neatly into any one currently existing category of movies, I would classify it as an Experimental Romantic Drama and approach it as such in order to get the most entertainment value from it.

Bobby (played well by Jason Liebrecht), a mid-late 20 something man dressed in a black suit, shows up early to a party being thrown by the housemates Susan (Nicol Zanzarella) and Rose (Erin S. Visslailli). The film stays with the party from its under populated beginning to its over crowded peak to its "time to clean up, no one's here to help" ending. The key story being told is the one between Bobby and Susan. Bobby pursues Susan throughout the night, has to figure out how to deal with the presence of Susan's ex-boyfriend Tomaz (Pavol Liska), and I'll leave it up to the viewer to find out if Bobby gets Susan or not. Within the frame established by the Bobby-Susan story we get to witness dramatic moments from a couple of other relationships. One involves Susan's housemate Rose and another involves a pair of guests who are a constantly squabbling couple. In between these stories we get to see some odd, some mundane moments from the party: two beefy dudes trying to figure out who is the strongest, few people hanging out on the front steps and making music at times, a guy who hangs out alone in the back yard interpreting people's dreams.

The dream interpreter (played very well by Dennis Cabrini) scene was probably my most favorite scene in this movie. It is well acted by all, and beautifully lit and filmed. In this scene two party guests (including Bobby) approach the dream interpreter, one at a time, get their dreams interpreted, and leave. This simple scene has an almost David Lynchian surreal quality to it, but with sweetness, not the Lynchian dread.

The cinematography by Jonathan Wolff is excellent. Even though the film was shot in color digital video a couple of years ago, at points it felt like I was watching an art/indie/foreign
16 MM black & white film from the 60's. There is also a lot of great music (performed by King Radio, Matt Wilcox, Kristin Mainhart, Dave Zoller, and several others) spread throughout "Home".

This debut feature by Seitz shows promise and I look forward to seeing what he will do next. "Home" is probably fun to watch on a big screen, with a bunch of upbeat people who are talking back to the screen. So for all you indie film fans in NYC, your chance to do just that is coming this week. "Home" plays at the Pioneer theater from Thursday March 2 to Wednesday March 8.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Press Action for Matt Zoller Seitz's "Home" run begins

Filmmaker & critic Matt Zoller Seitz's film "Home" starts playing at the Pioneer theater in NYC this week. Press coverage has begun. Here is a very positive article from the Downtown Express. Enjoy.


Shifting Gears

Right now, as I get very close to releasing "Date Number One" to reviewers (mostly my fellow bloggers in this round 1 of press submissions), submitting to film festivals, dealing with screening venues, preparing promotional material & packaging DVDs, the interest in blogging about general indie/D.I.Y. film matters is rapidly decreasing. Right now my brain is full of info. about Final Cut Express audio mixing capabilities, not the details necessary to compose blog entries about the latest developments in indie film. So, the number of new posts on this blog will be going down starting this week. During the last couple of months I've posted at least 2-4 (sometimes 5) times a week. That will be changing. From now on I will be blogging only when very important developments happen and specially when "Date Number One" related news breaks. The sweet days of blogging a lot about many indie film related subjects are over, but the sweeter days of gettting the movie out & blogging mostly about "Date Number One" self-distribution are here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jon Moritsugu Interview

(a September 2005 interview)

- New York Underground Film Festival

Jon Moritsugu has played his movies in, and won awards at, underground film festivals and he has also played his movies at international, mainstream forums including the Cannes film festival. He once made a 16 MM Panavision movie for PBS with a budget of over $350,000 and he has also made feature length movies for under $5,000. This versatile, very creative, always super independent, punk rock influenced and inspired American filmmaker has a two decade long resume and body of work that most creative professionals anywhere would envy. Moritsugu's latest feature "Scumrock", shot on the shockingly amateur and inexpensive Hi-8 analog video format and starring, among others, musician Kyp Malone from the well respected indie band TV on the Radio, won Best Feature award at the 2003 New York Underground Film Festival and Best Feature award at the 2002 Chicago Underground Film Festival. His career is being celebrated locally and abroad. In 2004 the Anthology Film Archives in New York City presented a one week long retrospective of Moritsugu's work. This year, from October 12 to 16, the Lausanne Underground Film Festival in Switzerland will present a week long retrospective of Moritsugu's films. The following is an interview conducted through e-mail in September 2005. Interview By Sujewa Ekanayake :: September 2005
Copyright 2005 Sujewa Ekanayake/Wild Diner Films

Sujewa: Hey Jon, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk (through the miracle of e-mail) to me. You shot your most recent feature "Scumrock" on Hi-8 analog video. And the movie won several festival awards and received excellent reviews. Do you wish you had used inexpensive video as a shooting format earlier in your career (possibly to save thousands of dollars and have a less of a waiting/fund raising period between projects)?

Jon: I definitely would have used video earlier on, but the problem was that in the 80's and early 90's, video was still really expen$$$ive. Digital video (DV) did not exist, desktop editing didn't exist, no protools, etc, etc, and video was still pretty low-fi, unless you stepped into an online studio (which could cost you major buckage). I actually stuck to 16mm cuz it was a low-cost option. Even my feature MY DEGENERATION cost about $5000, which is a large chunk of money, but if you're talking about shooting and completing a feature film (color 16mm), it really is quite reasonable. I actually totally appreciate the fact that I was able to crank out a bunch of movies in the waning days of 16mm production. I think the movies have a certain look and feel that just wouldn't be the same if they were shot on DV. As far as SCUMROCK, it was shot in 2000, and at that time, DV was still pretty expensive. I shot it on analog Hi-8 because that format has incredible color saturation and does look a little like film, plus all the gear was real cheap (our main production camera was purchased brand-new for $300 vs. a couple thousand for a DV camera).

Sujewa: I read somewhere that one of your movies played at a theater in France for over a year. Amazing! Which movie was it and could you reflect on that whole seemingly mind blowing experience? Did that year long theatrical engagement in France increase the number of your groupies and did it make you obscenely wealthy?

Jon: HIPPY PORN played at the Action Christine theater in Paris for almost a year. This was in 1993, when indie film in America was just breaking and getting huge. This upstart French distribution company took the film (and 4 others) as examples of the "West Coast new wave" and put a lot of energy and money into the theatrical release. Quite exciting actually. I was flown to Paris and ate lotsa cheese and had a great time, but really didn't make any money. I don't think anyone made money, though it was a great way for people to bond as a community trying to change the face of filmmaking, and also for this company to get a start in the industry. It was a cool experience, though, where I felt the French audience (with all of its artsiness and pretension), connected to the raw, revolutionary and punkoid nature of the flicks.

Sujewa: Your movies and public personality makes me think of, a little, John Waters and Greg Araki. I'd say all three of you have a gleefully subversive art/punk/trash/underground/subcultural quality in a lot of your work. Am I totally off base here or do you see some similarities between your work and that of Araki & Waters?

Jon: Sujewa, you are totally on base! I definitely was inspired early in my filmmaking days by some of John Waters' early work. Greg Araki and I also go waaaaay back - I met him at an Asian film fest in the late 80's and we bonded on feeling like freaks at the event. We did some hangin' out in the early 90's and kept sane by shooting the shit and trying to fight the power for the Asian brothers and sisters.

Sujewa: As far as I know you are the most famous filmmaker to come out of Hawaii (I am assuming here that you are from Hawaii, correct me if I am wrong). Does Hawaii love Jon Moritsugu? Are there Moritsugu statues and streets in Hawaii yet? Do Fidel Castro style gigantic portraits of Jon Moritsugu hang on buildings & streets of Hawaii? I'd like to visit there, it seems lovely. Is Hawaii lovely?

Jon: Yeah, Hawaii is lovely. I was born in da islands and lived there recently for a year, and it finally feels like independent film production/DIY culture has arrived there. My films have played at a couple of fests and venues in Honolulu, and there is definitely some type of humor in the films that the Hawaiian audiences totally dig. Very sarcastic and messed-up humor, actually. No streets named after me, but lotsa people named Moritsugu who I don't even know.

Sujewa: Dogme 95 changed the indie film world. Until they came along filmmakers who used formats other than 35MM or 16MM film were not taken seriously by the Hollywood/Indiewood related culture. How do you feel about this change? Some commentators have said that the DV revolution makes things worse - more movies, less quality projects, more competition for distribution - how do you feel about the DV revolution?

Jon: Rock on DV! I'm all for cheaper movies and filmmaking being a more "democratic" form of expression. I like the fact that you can now be your own movie production studio - you don't have to invest millions of dollars to get your story/ideas up on screen. Just like punk rock, the 4-track, and now digital home recording freeing the music scene and making it immediate/accesssible to more people, I feel digital video is doing the same. Hallelujah.

Sujewa: Your life and work seems to be heavily influenced by the punk rock scene. How did you discover punk rock and what about it made you want to become a part of that scene/culture? Jon: When I was a kid, I remember going to a record store with a friend one afternoon. He grabbed the last copy of "Never Mind The Bollocks" by the Sex Pistols (very hard to find, as this was Hawaii) and I grabbed some live Frank Zappa album that Rolling Stone highly recommended. We took them to his place, had private record party, and I was totally floored by his choice and bored by mine. Later that night we spray painted the school. Very nice memories and my intro to punk rock. I've been into punkoid shit ever since, and it has also inspired my filmmaking. In the mid to late-80's in the USA, I really had no sense of there being a "film scene" or community of people doing lo-fi, underground, or independent work. On the other hand, the music scene was exploding with bands, clubs, and labels like Dischord, SST, Touch & Go really getting the music to the people out in the scene. I was totally stoked and inspired by all of this and decided to make it a model for how I should pursue my filmmaking and distribution activities. I've always appreciated the practicality and lack of pretense (generalization) in the punkoid scene. You know, punk rock = modern day quaker.

Sujewa: When I saw Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train" for the first time in '91, I realized that most American movies & television, including most indie movies, do not reflect the diverse ethnic make up of American society. "Mystery Train" had Japanese tourists characters and an African-American character in lead roles. Your recent film "Scumrock" too contains casting that could be called diverse or casting that reflects the multi-ethnic nature of America. Why do you think that most American movies & television have refused to portray & reflect the always multi-ethnic nature of the American population?

Jon: Yeah, I love that "Mystery Train". Anyway, I think the bland homogenization is all about creating projects that will not be challenging and ultimately controversial. It's about capturing the largest audience by using the most "acceptable" ideas. And that is why stereotyping is used. Oddly, I feel a lot of the public WANTS to see change. The public wants to be presented with strange or different ideas. You know, the Asian American character who doesn't speak with an accent and who is bad at math. The African American character who doesn't play sports. etc. But it seems like the networks, mainstream producers and studios really don't want to take too many chances. Even something as normal as inter-racial + same-sex couples is rarely seen, which is why we need the revolution, man!

Sujewa: As far as I can tell you have engaged in theatrical self-distribution for several of your projects. I am finishing up a feature called "Date Number One" at the moment and I am looking forward to theatrical self-distribution of that project. What advise do you have for me and other filmmakers who are contemplating D.I.Y. distribution?

Jon: I have done a lot of self-distribution of my movies, though I have also worked w/ distributors on theatrical releases. As far as this all goes, I've been able to "control" my release as well as make a little more money through the self-distribution route. However, it can be a big job and I certainly rely on the help of others. For instance, I have a European theatrical distributor, Jack Stevenson, who I've worked with for years. He's in Denmark and also handles all the print traffic, which simplifies my life. We save tons on postage since he's got prints of all the films plus he's really familiar w/ the various territories, their nuances, and the language. It definitely is good to form alliances with people you trust, especially over the long term. Theatrical releases have gotten a lot harder to do recently because the audiences are shrinking. But there has been a microcinema revolution, which is pretty cool. Look into "alternative" spaces (art galleries, cafes, your living room) and also plan for a DVD release of your film - maybe even overlap it with the theatrical release. Get these DVDs into rental stores, record stores, websites, make them available to distributors, and also check out alternatives like streaming video.

Sujewa: I believe your film "Mod Fuck Explosion" played at Cannes. Was that your first film at Cannes? Have you been there since? What was the Cannes/M.F.E. experience like?

Jon: Yeah, MOD FUCK EXPLOSION played at Cannes, though it was in the film festival market, which is sorta considered the "meat market" and "blood and guts" of the festival. Lotsa softcore porn movies, action and cop flicks, everything up for sale and being pushed by sales agents. Needless to say, MOD FUCK (with its artsy sensibilities and strangeness) stood out like a sore thumb. People were baffled and confused by it. I didn't actually make the trip out to the fest, though in hindsight I should have just for the sheer experience. $1500 hotel rooms and $20 cocacolas on the French Riviera, who can resist?

Sujewa: I read somewhere that the 9-11 attacks significantly changed your perspective on film and filmmaking. Can you please elaborate on this? Does this mean that future movies of yours will take a broader view of the world, a view that takes in people and lives outside of the American punk/indie/underground culture?

Jon: I shot SCUMROCK before 9-11 and was just starting the editing when the attacks occurred. The movie was originally supposed to be much more cynical, but this all changed. Though SCUMROCK definitely does not have a "happily ever after" ending, the negative vibage was toned done. It just didn't seem right to release something that was totally bleak into a world that felt totally bleak.

Sujewa: I have not seen your film "Terminal USA" yet, am looking forward to checking it out. I read that it was created on a budget of $200-$300,000 for public television. What was it like to work under such a budget and production entanglements, as opposed to working completely independently at (I assume) a much lower budget on a project such as "Scumrock"? Which production environment do you prefer, of the two mentioned above?

Jon: TERMINAL USA was shot in 1993 with a budget of $360,000. This was a complete shocker, since my previous feature was completed for about $12,000! We used panavision color 16mm equipment, had a crew of 50, and still had a really hard time. Everything felt rushed and there was a certain lack of flexibility and spontaneity throughout the production. Plus we were on an insane nocturnal schedule shooting from early evening to early morning (baaaad idea but necessary for clean sound). On the other hand, SCUMROCK was shot over 5 months with a crew of 3 for far less money (movie "in the can" for $5000). It too, was a challenging project, but it definitely was more intimate and felt much more like a "family" thing. I think it would be great to make a movie somewhere in between these two extremes. You know, have enough money and help to get the shooting done quickly and not too painfully, yet not go overboard and create a "film army" situation.

Sujewa: The prolific filmmaker Todd Verow (of Bangor Films fame) was the photographer of your movie "Mod Fuck Explosion". What was it like working with Verow? And what was it like working with lead actor Kyp Malone (from the band TV On The Radio) in "Scumrock"?

Jon: It was great workin' with Todd (he also shot TERMINAL USA). Very talented DP and really great w/ lighting. We had lotsa laughs on these productions. Kyp Malone was awesome! I met him in San Francisco and he came to an audition for SCUMROCK. We ended up casting him as the lead actor because of his natural abilities and "presence", though he had never been in a movie before. The role was originally supposed to be for an Asian-American actor, but Kyp totally broke through all racial boundaries and barriers.

Sujewa: It looks like you have traveled a lot for you work (film festivals, screenings, etc.). Do you have any amazing, spectacular or horrible stories from the road that you would like to share? Accounts of unforgettable things that have happened at festivals or screenings or while getting to those events or while coming back from those events?

Jon: Ok, here's a funny experience: MOD FUCK EXPLOSION played at the Freakzone Film Festival in Lille, France a few years ago, and I traveled out for the event. Since the audience was mostly French speaking, they actually hired some actors to sit backstage and do "live translations" of the movies from the scripts. So we're in the middle of MOD FUCK, a particularly dramatic moment, when the audience starts laughing like crazy. I'm baffled, then a friend who speaks French (who's also laughing) leans over and tells me the actors have lost their place in the movie and are flipping through the script, saying things like "shit, are we on page 6 or 7....I'm totally lost, how about you?" etc. But this really isn't the funny moment. So I'm at the awards ceremony where they're picking the "best feature" of the festival. I've heard rumors that MOD has a really good chance of winning. So speeches are being made (of course in French), and after a really long speech by the festival director, my name is called out! WOOOOHOOOOO! I'M THE WINNER!!! MOD FUCK EXPLOSION WINS!! I run down the aisle, jump up on the stage, and shake hands and hug the director. I make a very passionate speech about "how we are all winners in life-there are no losers-there is no room for jealousy-we are all filmmaking brothers and sisters," then they hand me my prize (it's supposed to be $$$), a stack of French comic books. This is sorta odd, I think, as I walk back to my seat. I sit down and my French friend whispers in my ear, "you do know that you didn't win first place... you just won the honorable mention award, right? They're going to announce first place now..." I was totally embarrassed, man.

Sujewa: Wow, great story. On a different note, even though feature film production is very affordable and the knowledge required for production is easily available (through the internet, library books, etc.) right now, it seems to me that a lot of people who make indie movies in America are not coming from a ethnic minority background. I think the situation is much different in the arena of American music or literature - lots of minority artists participate in those two creative areas. Why do you think indie filmmaking has not caught on more with American minorities at this time? Do you think this will change in the near future?

Jon: I actually think there is a sizable and growing group of minorities doin' the film thing. Maybe it's because I'm seeing it all from a West Coast perspective (I've lived in Frisco, Honolulu, and now the Pac NW), but the whole stereotype of "you can't be artsy if you're a minority" is rapidly breaking down. In the Bay Area, for example, there are lotsa alternative film fests (Latino, Asian American, Hong Kong, African American) as well as "minority" theater companies, film organizations, non-profits, etc.On a worldwide scale, it's also really cool that some of the most cutting-edge and exciting filmmaking is coming from countries like South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, even Brazil and Mexico. Woohooo.

Thanks Jon!


See Jon Moritsugu's official web site here
Buy Jon's movies through mail-order from here
Download several of Jon's movies here

12 Year Old Texas Filmmaker & Her Zombie Feature

I just posted a link at Indie Features 06 to an '05 AICN story about a 12 year old Texas filmmaker getting a grant to make a zombie feature.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Matt Zoller Seitz in person at every screening!" ("Home" @ Pioneer, NYC, 3/2 - 3/8)

"Matt Zoller Seitz in person at every screening!" screams the Pioneer theater's web page w/ info. on Seitz's 2005 film "Home", and of course they are referring to the upcoming 1 week long run of the film. Seitz is a filmmaker & a critic and "Home" is his first feature. What do Seitz's peers in the dark & sexy art of film criticism think about his first full length effort?

"An intimate, intoxicating chamber piece about an all-night house party at a Brooklyn brownstone, Home perceptively details the niceties and nastiness of friendship, romance, and sexual affairs.", "A convivial portrait of love-struck and lovelorn twentysomethings searching for contentment and companionship, Home coasts along on an enchantingly boozy groove."
- Nick Schager, Slant Magazine.

"The feature debut of the film critic for the New York Press, Home is the kind of modestly scaled, unflashy ensemble piece Seitz often scolds other critics for overlooking: witty, sharply observed, sweet but not treacly."
- Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper

"Seitz has a gift for authentic and funny dialogue and convincing character sketches."
- Peter Keough, The Boston Phoenix

Pretty decent reviews I'd say. The accomplishments of "Home" include the following film festival recognition: Best Feature Trenton Film Festival, Best Supporting Actor Trenton Film Festival, official selection of over half a dozen film festivals so far, including the Independent Film Festival of Boston, Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, Cinequest 15 San Jose and the River Run International Film Festival.

So go check out "Home" for yourself in March @ the Pioneer (yeah, the ease of DVDs & the hot new developments in VOD, etc. are lovely, but the most exciting & mythically satisfying way to watch a movie is still at a big screen in a dark movie theater), and give Seitz your take on the film (since he'll be there in person at every screen). But be warned, Seitz is a Tom Waits fan, so you never know what he'll do if he doesn't like your criticism.


Joe "LOL" Swanberg's 3 Day Rule

"If you can't get your hands on the movie in 3 days or less, we are doing something wrong" says director Joe Swanberg as he talks about screening & distribution plans for his new movie LOL. Read the entire post at Indie Features 06.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Liz " Jericho's Echo" Nord's Top Screening Spots

Liz Nord, the director of the doc "Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in The Holy Land" (now available on DVD), recently blogged about some of her favorite places to screen.

The venues are:
Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA
Cornell Cinema at the Willard Straight Theatre, Ithaca, NY
Grand Illusion Cinema, Seattle, WA
The Capitol Theater Olympia, WA
Castro Theater San Francisco, CA
Victoria Theatre San Francisco, CA
Cinematheque Tel Aviv, Israel

Here's what she says about The Capitol Theater in Olympia, WA:
"Also run by friendly volunteers, this place is home to the Olympia Film Society. It is a wonderful mix of grand-classical and modern-funky. They also host bands and other cool events."

Read the entire post here.

I'll need to start getting in touch w/ some of these places next month for "Date Number One" screening action down the road. By the way, DNO is still being edited. I should be able to make the 3/1 fest deadlines & the flick is looking very good/am very happy with it.


Monday, February 20, 2006

An Interview with Amir "Whale" Motlagh

As he mentioned last night at Indie Features 06, Amir Motlagh is at work on a feature film titled "Whale" and one of his short films will be playing in San Francisco soon. I interviewed Amir last year re: his prolific yet for the moment relatively unknown career in indie film (that'll change when "Whale" gets done).

Interview from February 2005. First published in Sujewa's DIY Filmmaker Webzine.


Amir Motlagh's filmography as writer/director includes the films "Dino Adino", "Lover @ 11:47" and "Still Lover". In 2004 he added to this output by finishing two beautifully hand crafted documentaries titled "Pumkin Little" and "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces", both set for release in 2005. The first three films have played in over 30 festivals and film related shows, winning five awards including an Audience Award at DancesWithFilms 2003, Best of the Fest at YardFest 2003, Outstanding Lead Actor WestFest 2003 and two Audience Awards at Friday Night Shorts. His film "Still Lover" was also named Top Ten AtomFilms of 2004 and is going on an 18 city world tour in 2005. Motlagh recently released a lo-fi 6 part video series titled "Lessons in Self-Destruction". This filmmaker is a trained actor and holds a BA degree in Psychology from UCLA. As a part of his 2005 tour Motlagh will make a stop at Washington, D.C.'s Capital City Microcinema on April 21 to present his film "Still Lover" and offer a special preview screening of "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces". Interview conducted by DC DIY filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake in February 2005.

Sujewa: Hi Amir, thanks for doing this interview. Why did you become a filmmaker and how did you become a filmmaker? What formats do you use, 16 MM, DV, etc.?

Amir: Well, that's a tricky question. I can't really answer the why to that question. Maybe I can reply with a why not? I've had an ambivalent relationship with film for many years. Some films and images have stayed in my head, and have always hurt me emotionally, or caused a deep understanding of my own struggles. Sometimes I can't escape the cinema, and feel that my own life has really turned into a film of sorts, a beautiful one, that's slow moving and has a pretty young man, isolated, and affected who thinks he's going nowhere as his social anxieties climax to a bitter revelation with a soundtrack that I performed, and then during the ultra late inciting event the character meets this enigmatic woman who destroys his heart by drinking every night at the local bars and destroying both their lives with her devil may care attitude. That sounds good doesn't it, but it's sad, no ? The other side being that I can barely watch most movies these days. The insincerity in most films is a disease. In terms of format, what suits the film first, what is realistic, and how fast I want to create the piece, meaning, the aesthetic consideration of the project is the first consideration for format and then, the reality and costs of production. Artists generaly shoot with anything they can get there hands on, while professionals will wait for exactly what they want, although they compromise the urgency of the film. I tend to side with the artists. To deem DV as soulless as many still do is laughable. DV has aesthetic merits and potentials yet to be realized in full and is damn beautiful.

Sujewa: How many movies have you made so far? Can you give a synopsis of each one, or as many as you feel like talking about at the moment?

Amir: I have made five films ranging in length from 5min. to 40min. and a six part video art series, and a feature fiction in development and a feature treatment in the future. Barely anything but a whisper in the wind.

And here are their obligatory synopses:

"Dino Adino": Dino is turning 23 and his friends decide to document it. Although he dreams of a life as a graphic artist, much is revealed about his conflicted character as the night goes on in the growing suburb of Irvine California.

"Love @ 11:47": A film about the obsessions that drive three characters into uncontrollable action as the clock turns to 11:47 PM in a place and time like any other.

"Still Lover" : A man, a woman, life and love one shot at a time.

"Pumkin Little": "And we shall dance to see another day", A documentary about a young Filipino American searching for himself, as a sea of labels (gangster, break dancer, student, boyfriend, son, Asian, American) proves his struggles and hopes.

"Lessons in Self-Destruction" #01-#06: A six part epic into things that lead to joy and hypertension.

"My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces": A short documentary about the daughter of the Filipino Fine Artist Santiago Bose, as she tries to escape the memory of her father after his death. She ventures to a strange new land (Southern California) and copes with the myth of Americana, while rediscovering all the beauties of life.

"Whale": My first fiction feature. That you will have to wait to hear about.

Sujewa: Which general area of the world do you live and is there an indie film scene there in your town/city/village? How about an indie/punk rock scene? Is it easy or difficult being an indie filmmaker where you live? Is it easy for you to find collaborators to make the movies & also is it easy for you to get publicity for your screenings?

Amir: Right now I live in Orange County, California. Did you say an indie film scene? I also lived in Los Angeles for five years. Everyone makes movies there, lots of shitty films and there are lots of egocentric people running around talking about getting so and so signed on their project and how everyone is in pre-production and so and so is financing the film. Just general bullshit, so yeah, not much else but hype. Of course, there are lots of really talented people doing interesting things, but they don't get much press. Those are the types that unfortunately resist making the calling card type of film. Everything in this area is a little tougher because of the shear volume of productions. In terms of an indie scene in music, yes in Los Angeles, particularly the east side, many many good bands. In Orange County, a few good bands. Orange County has always been a hub for punk rock. The surf, skate punk. When I was growing up, I was the only Persian kid skating, surfing and snowboarding it seemed and so it was pretty amazing. Before that I was a B-Boy in a crew called OSB (old school beats) going to West Coast Roc Steady Crew practices and battling all the local crews at house parties, in the streets and malls. I was always looking for my identity. Music was big in my life and still is.

Sujewa: I saw your movie "Still Lover", liked it a lot, how did that movie come about? Who is the actress in that movie and what were some of her thoughts about the movie - the process of making it and reaction to the finished product? A short film made up of still photos is relatively unusual, but after a while I felt that the still photos were kind of moving or alive, full of moving people who spoke, like a scene in most movies.

Amir: Thanks, it generally is the film most liked out of my catalogue for some reason or another. I guess it has the most universality to it, using the phrase, "personal to universal". But when most people like something, you have to be suspicious, so I feel somewhat reluctant to accept the praise. That film is somewhat difficult for me to revisit. It was practically a response to my own relationship with the subject in the film. The actress, if she could be called that, was a girlfriend in the making. One day I showed up at her house at 6 AM armed with my old Nikon 35mm SLR, some slide film, a soft light, a tripod, and a hi8 camera and started shooting photos without telling her what I was doing. I followed her around and shot a day in her life from sun up to down, limiting the location to her house. I few weeks later, drinking at a bar by myself, I scribbled the narrative on a napkin and I had a film. Next I composed the music and recorded it with my sound man Reza Pormansor and production was done. The film moves fluidly I believe. That was really one of the goals. She was my first real love, and I think it's strange to have that captured for both her and I. It creates an extra dynamic. I thank her for the openness and trust, letting me examine those feelings in a time before we really knew each other. I can only wish her the best now, since we don't talk anymore. I edited that film at a small studio space at Cal Arts that was lived in by my friend Tuan Andrew Nguyen. I lived in this tiny space for a few weeks, with no air conditioner, it was about 100 degrees everyday in Valencia, CA. It was a wonderful time because all the students were playing music and partying like crazy with these art punk bands performing in small studios all night long. It was chaotic, and frustrating at times, but we finished it and all the kids would come in and check it out.

Sujewa: What's the full & official title of the movie that I keep referring to as "...Thousand Pieces...", and tell us about that movie - what's it about, why did you make it?

Amir: The title is "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces". The film was partly made because I felt I needed to finish the migration pattern first questioned in my documentary "Pumkin Little". In that film, my main subject was a Filipino who was born in the US, and was a male, and in "My Break Ups" the main subject is a Filipina who was born in the Philippines and migrates here to discover a new life. Instead of delving head first into my own situation, these films were a mechanism to make some sense of my own perspectives while observing others, capturing their joys and struggles. What I love most is that I constructed two films about relatively normal people. They aren't famous, and there is nothing sensational. Its all about aesthetics, honesty and intimacy. Maybe I was in a proletarian phase, who knows? My next film is about an Iranian American and these film experiences help that. But the making of the film came about in a peculiar way. I was recording an EP with my two man band Shanks and the Dreamers at Bassland studios in Santa Ana, CA. There, I meet Lilledeshan one late night after her ex-band was rehearsing, and we got into some argument about literature (I didn't know she was a writer). Well, my "Tentative Years" DVD was in the studio and she watched it one night, (because she lived there) and called me about getting some help on making a film of her own from a short story she had wrote and published a few years back called "Break Up Stories". After spending some time and hanging out, she invited me to this vigil she was doing for her father. When I went and saw what she had organized, the work of her father Santiago Bose and her sincerity and intelligence, I was going to make a film. And it so happened that it would complete my documentary cycle as well. I see myself working in the fiction mode for some time though.

Sujewa: What do you think about the current relationship between the US & Iran (since you have roots in Iran)? If you've been to Iran, tell us about it, do we get a full & accurate picture of that country through our media coverage?

Amir: I was born in New Mexico and immediately moved to Iran. I lived there until I was 6 or 7 during the Iraq-Iran war. I remember the sirens going off in the city and running into the bomb shelter at the bottom of the apartment building. We could see explosions like fireworks. The elders would try to laugh it of and amuse us, telling us that it was just for fun. I thought "shit, then why did we have to run to the bottom of the building with the cockroaches"? I also went back about 10 years ago to visit my grandmother. My head was shaved for being at a party by some rough neck type police with a bunch of other kids that were only trying to enjoy their sex drives. What's wrong with being young and horny anyway? These experiences are always enjoyable in hindsight. I believe that we get as accurate a view as we can from any media. Media operates under a set of beliefs implicit to the place they hold loyalties. Iran is a beautiful country with deep history and wonderful poets, intellectuals, artist, and filmmakers, but is a completely problematic state that I fortunately do not belong to.

Sujewa: Feel free to talk about anything that you want to communicate to other humans in this world at this point in time, on any topic at all. Thanks.

Amir: What has become of our intellect? Evolution is self-destructive, as humans, since we tend to continue to destroy the ones that don't look and feel like our own. Be nice, kind and offer a smile sometimes. Or, if you don't like me, don't fucking pretend to.

Sujewa: Are you excited about your upcoming multi-city US tour [note: now past, this interview was conducted in Feb '05]? Tell us more about it - dates, places, the movies that you will show, all the specifics.

Amir: I rarely show my excitement about anything on the surface. The tour is in the works. Exact dates can't be expected of me, since I have a new film I'm working on. The films that will be screening are "Pumkin Little" and "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces" in a small "preview screening tour" with about 15 dates. I also hope to have some festival dates for "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces" and "Pumkin Little", individually. My video series "Lessons in Self-Destruction" has a few dates and "The Tentative Years" with my three films "Still Lover," "Love @ 11:47" and "Dino Adino" has some shows in a few galleries. And others, like Capitol City Microcinema are mixed shows with other filmmakers. I'm flexible. I will compile an up to date tour schedule on my website Oh, and word on the streets is that "Still Lover" will be going on an 18 city International tour in May 2005. These are the variables. What is for certain are the first five shows including RatPoweredFilms in Santa Ana, CA March 4th, Pusod in Berkley, CA March 19th, Anthology Film Archives in NY April 20th and Capitol City Microcinema in DC April 21st, 2005. I'll have more dates in the upcoming days and weeks.

Sujewa: How can people get in touch with you, purchase/see your work?

Amir: Easy, check out my website or or my upcoming site that will list my complete catalogue under my years as "A Year Alive Films". You can buy some of my films directly from me and they are available on some web stores, but it's always better to buy directly from the artist. You can always reach my company phone at: 310.951.4884
Or mail to:
A Year Alive
attn: Amir Motlagh
9 Coromande
Irvine, CA 92614

Thanks Amir!

indieWIRE loves us baby!

Filmmaking For The Poor has been selected as a "Blogs We Love" blog by the mighty indieWIRE. This I consider a major accomplishment since indieWIRE is probably one of the most visited indie film related websites in America. And like I told indieWIRE's Brian Clark, I "grew up" on iW: much of my thinking about the indie film industry has been heavily affected by stuff covered, opinions offered by iW - even if I haven't always agreed w/their take on things or the kind of projects that they sometimes choose to pay attention to.

Looks like indieWIRE is about to go through a major growth period - they have a new community section coming on line later this month. Looking forward to seeing what they've come up w/ & looking forward to seeing Filmmaking For The Poor headlines showing up on iW.

It took about 3 months and over 50 blog entries to get selected by iW. Looking forward to continuing the blogging over here & also growing my group blog Indie Features 06.

And right now over at Indie Features 06 there is a conversation going on about working w/SAG, and Amir Motlagh updates us on his new feature "Whale" and on upcoming festival play for his short "My Break Ups Into A Million Pieces".

Thanks again iW!


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Blake Calhoun's "Killing Down" SAG Experience

When I was getting ready to cast my new movie "Date Number One" in early 2004 I thought about possibly using some SAG (Screen Actors Guild, primarily & historically a union for Hollywood actors) talent. But that idea had to be quickly put away when SAG sent me a 500-600 page document (I think it was a contract) after I inquired about working with them. So I chose some fantastic non-union actors and got started on shooting my film.

One night, while shooting late at an old house in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC, a werewolf tried to eat one of my actors. I retrieved the gigantic SAG document from my car and threw it at the werewolf's head, knocked the creature out, and the cast & crew got away safely. My DP had captured the entire incident on high quality digital video (on an XL1s), and after reviewing the footage I decided that the werewolf had a certain useful screen presence. Later, following some intense negotiations that involved vast quantities of uncooked goat meat, I was able to recruit the werewolf (his name is Oliver) to appear in several scenes in my movie. Oliver is now thinking about directing.

Anyway, over at Indie Features 06, director Blake Calhoun talks about his recent SAG experience, had while making the upcoming feature "Killing Down".

Here is a bit of interesting info. from his entry (SAG talent looks more affordable now):
"The Ultra Low Budget Agreement is basically the same contract only now scale is $100/day, but now there is no deferred amount owed. Only the normal SAG residuals that you pay on any contract."

And another bit of info (perhaps we do not need to fear distribution roadblocks from SAG anymore):
"Also, now, none of the contracts (even the "experimental" ones) have SAG owning your film or any distribution rights. This is very important for the low budget indie filmmakers out there (for short films too)."

Check out Blake's post for the whole story. There is a link to SAG in that entry, so that you may pursue the story further and possibly get SAGs take on their new "indie filmmaker friendly" programs.

When I get ready to shoot my next feature, I'll call up SAG again. Hopefully at that time none of their documents will be 500-600 pages long. I will however keep the '04 SAG document handy for special purposes.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Rockets Redglare Doc's Website

I think I've seen Rockets Redglare in a couple of Jim Jarmusch movies.

Was he the liquor store clerk who got shot in the "Lost In Space" (segment title?) segment of "Mystery Train"?

If so, he may also have been one of the characters in the Willie & Eddie-cheating-at-a-card-game scene in "Stranger Than Paradise".

I will have to look those items up at some point.

I found the link to the website for the Rockets Redglare doc, titled "Rockets Redglare!", from the recently discovered comments at the Filmmaker Magazine's blog.

Here's the website.

And here's a recent Miami Herald article about the makers of "Rockets Redglare!" suing its distributor (thanks Filmmaker Magazine's blog for the link).


Friday, February 17, 2006

Self-Distribution Action: "September 12th" @ The Pioneer, NYC, March 21

Over at the Indie Features 06 blog I learned that the well reviewed post-9/11 drama September 12th will be playing at the Pioneer theater in New York City on March 21st.
Magicfying Films, the creators of the movie, are self-distributing it. As I said in an earlier entry, Film Threat highly recommends the movie. Several other reviewers, including Chuck Tryon, have said very good things about the movie. See some quotes at the front page of the movie's site.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am all for self-distribution but I am surprised that a movie that apparently deals well with such a mainstream & well known and yet cinematically under-explored topic (is there anything more well known in America right now then the 9-11 attacks?) has not been picked up by an established distribution company (or that indie theaters from around the country are not seeking out the movie and booking it for longer runs. is that something they even do these days? if not they should, programming their own unique choices will give them a competitive edge over "indie" chains & theaters that only program whatever few films the few indie distributors are offering at any given moment) . Perhaps the right offer has not come along yet, or perhaps Magicfying Films are stubbornly D.I.Y. like a handful of other filmmakers I know (no names please :).

Anyway, I plan on interviewing director John P. Touhey and producer Lou Giovino re: their distribution experience w/ the film and re: the film in general in early March. Perhaps we will get all the details on the self-distribution situation at that point.

In the meantime, if you live in NYC, make plans to go check out September 12th at the Pioneer on March 21st. It will probably be time well spent.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Easy Path to Becoming A Professional Indie Filmmaker

forget the wide release (for the moment)
forget wall to wall media coverage (for the moment)
forget Hollywood (for the moment)
forget Indiewood (for the moment)
forget the multi-million dollar paychecks (for the moment)
forget confusing fame, wealth, power for love & health (forever)
* P R O D U C T I O N
make a movie [feature length, or several shorts that can work as a feature length program]
(if u do not have sufficient filmmaking skills, learn them by reading books & websites & watching movies, also through trial & error - grab a video camera, mics, lights, some cheap editing software, work on your craft 'till u get it to a point where u & those whose opinion u care about will think the skills are awesome)
use DV or another accessible, affordable format
make it excellent
make it inexpensively
- forget the typical indie film financing insanity & B.S.
* fund your film from some cash saved up from your dayjob paychecks
(it's alright if it takes a while to get the movie done)
- also can do benefit events for the film project, can make merch to raise $s for the film, can get small loans from friends & other supporters, & small investors are cool as long as they know the full risk of investing in the project - the key is maintaining financial independence and not getting into a crippling debt situation
* D I S T R I B U T I O N
Once The Movie Is Done:
* call up a local theater/club/bookstore/record store/video store/someone w/ a space - anyone w/ a space that can accommodate several dozen people, a large TV or screen, projector if possible if there is a large screen, some audio amp/playback system
- set up a showing of your movie
- set up a website for the movie
- set up a blog for your movie, blog regularly - build up some readers/friends
- let all local media know about your movie and the upcoming show
- mail out some review copies of the movie to interested people on the web & in other media
- constantly promote the upcoming screening & the movie, self through all available avenues
Make Some DVDs to sell
* talk to media & other people who are interested in discussing your movie
- submit the movie to film festivals
- do your public screening, charge money for entrance if appropriate
- sell DVDs to whoever wants them
- keep track of sales, put some money aside on a regular basis for taxes & emergency film distro related expenses
The Road Show
- get in touch w/ other venues in town, see if you can play/show your movie
- rent some spaces to play if you have to
Contact Venues In Other Towns
- try to get some gigs
- get some gigs
- go play the movie there when you are off from your dayjob, sell some DVD's
Mail Order
- make the DVD available for sale through your website
- promote the movie, the DVD, self through other people's/friends/co-indiefilmmaker's websites, blogs
The Future:
* Make Another Movie When It Feels Right, Repeat The Steps mentioned above
* When You Have Plenty of Money Coming In Through Your Filmmaking Work, Quit Dayjob
* Continue To Make Movies until you don't feel like it anymore
* Enjoy yourself at all times. U R a lucky soul.
- This work is not very difficult, takes patience, action, creativity. You can do it if you really want to.
Playing w/ Indiewood & Hollywood:
once you have a feature film done & in self-distro, Indiewood & Hollywood may be interested in working with you, choose carefully and select collaborations that benefit you & your indie filmmaker career. If Indiewood & Hollywood gets in the way of living well & being productive, pull back, go back to your ultra-indie roots FT, get work done & out. You & your fans will be happy.

[And on a purely creative note:
creativity is a powerful gift & ability, use it wisely
being able to make a movie is a rare ability in the history of this world, use that power well
seek out things that should be celebrated but aren't, celebrate them, your peers will reward you for it
seek out things that should be articulated (because doing so will make life more livable for some or many people), no matter how painful, articulate those things through your art, you will be making the world a better place]


indiewire is cooking up some awesome community stuff

Ran out of web stuff to read while eating lunch, so I was clicking through the indieWIRE site, and finally read their plans for the upcoming community section. Looks like they are trying to do a MySpace or Friendster type thing here. Could be awesome. Here's a paragraph from the description of the upcoming community section (bold selections mine):

"Your indieWIRE member "homepage" will be a lot more than just a simple profile: it will be a place to publish your thoughts to a journal, have your own discussion board, organize digital photos, share bookmarks, manage events and create a network of your friends who are also indieWIRE members. Even more importantly, you'll be able to control who has access to those details, from sharing your journal with the world to sharing discussions with just your accepted friends list. The indieWIRE community will also include a more vigorous classifieds system for buying, selling, trading, swapping and hiring. Those entries, like everything else in the social network, are also searchable in a number of ways across the entire community."

Read the whole description here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

AJ "Gigantic" Schnack Joins the DIY Distribution Conversation

AJ Schnack, the maker of "Gigantic: The Tale of Two Johns", a doc about the indie band They Might Be Giants, has joined the recent conversation on Do It Yourself indie film distribution that has occurred on this site, David Lowey's Drifting blog and Paul Harrill's Self-Reliant Filmmaking blog. Read Schnack's post here. Lots of other useful & interesting info. on Schnack's blog, such as a response from Mark "Landmark Theaters" Cuban re: a conversation had on the blog re: Cuban's Truly Indie distribution initiative. Links to other blogs mentioned here can be found at Schnack's entry.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New group blog forming: Indie Features 06

I've started a new blog, a group blog, called Indie Features 06, for select indie filmmakers who have features in distribution this year (any type of distribution: theatrical, DVD, microcinemas, film festivals, VOD, whatever - as long as the work is available to the public in some form) to blog about their projects and other films.

So far feature filmmakers David Lowery (Deadroom, coming out on DVD this year) and Chris Hansen (The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah, currently at festival stage) have signed up as blog team members. Some other invitations are pending.

Check out the site. The purpose of the blog is explained in greater detail on the first post. If you are a filmmaker with a feature in distribution this year and you want another space to promote your project, let me know. Maybe your project/blog posts re: it will be a good addition to the kind of films that will be written about at IF06 (indie/arty stuff, w/ low-budget D.I.Y stuff heavily favored, pretty much the kind of stuff that I've written about in this blog for the last few weeks), and maybe you'll become our latest blog team member. Should be fun & worthwhile.

And this new blog should also help me fulfill my goal of writing about 52 D.I.Y. films in '06. I'll probably learn about some new & previously unknown DIY movies through the IF06 blog. Not sure how many D.I.Y films I have written about so far this year, will have to go back & do a count at the end of this month.

Oh Kay, later on, have a lovely weekend.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Date Number One" Playing at Seattle's Northwest Film Forum May 19 - 21

In this scene from "Date Number One" Karate woman Anne (played by Julia Stemper) chats with her date Ninja man Mark (played by John Stabb Schroeder) at her place before the two head out for the night.

Yup, that's right, my new comedy feature Date Number One will be playing at the cool Seattle indie film venue Northwest Film Forum (or, as it is known on some shady street corners: NWFF) the weekend of May 19 - 21. 6 shows are scheduled, and hopefully this will be the first of many Seattle engagements for this flick. Reviews, stills, maybe a trailer, additional play dates, benefit screenings info, an updated website are all coming in the next couple of weeks.

If you are a indie film/art/culture blogger type person or a film booker type person for an indie film venue, let me know if you want to see a screener DVD for the film. I am going to have a batch of them available Thu 2/16.

For people who've already requested a screener months ago, fear not, they will be on their way to you next week. Hopefully the film will be good Valentines Week entertainment for ya.

I am going to start submittin' the flick to film festivals late next week. Gotta update my Withoutabox account & see what neat festival deadlines are rolling up. I know I will be submitting to Chicago Underground and Los Angeles Film Fests. I am going to try to play as many festivals as possible.

All the ultra-low/"no" budget indie/D.I.Y. distro adventures will be chronicled in sweet detail at the movie's official blog.

Thanks, and start putting some nickels & dimes in a piggy bank so that you can catch a showing of Date Number One when it plays in your village or in case you want to fulfill that burning, unstoppable desire to buy the DVD.


A Waitsian Moment Discovered In The Production Notes For "Home"

A Waitsian Moment:

"Another night shoot was interrupted by a man with a crowbar chasing another man down the middle of the street."

From Production Notes page for "Home", a film by Matt Zoller Seitz.

"Home" is playing at the Pioneer, NYC, 3/2 - 3/8 (thanks GreenCine Daily for the link).

* * *

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"September 12th" Highly Recommended by Film Threat

Photo Courtesy SEPTEMBER 12TH Website
I received an e-mail today from the producer of the film and now I know about the existence of "September 12th". The film's website says: "set in New York on the third anniversary on 9/11, September 12th is a powerful drama about memory and those left behind". I requested a DVD so I can watch the movie and blog about it. Here's a little bit of what Film Threat has to say about the movie:

"While Oliver Stone and many other big wigs in Hollywood prepare their big budget, star studded spectacles tackling that horrible day, in comes “September 12th”, a heartfelt exploration in to a family’s grieving of their daughter. Touhey’s approach toward the story harkens back to “Moonlight Mile”, resembling many of its themes and plot point, but “September 12th” deals with how death can in many ways alter our perception of a loved one in more ways than we know. It can erase all the bad memories and faults they had and set in our consciousness a denial that in many ways lasts forever. “September 12th” is a dark elegy about how we perceive our loved ones, and how sometimes we choose to perceive them, but it’s also a truly unique drama about tragedy that even touched a nerve on a few occasions."

Read the full review here.

Film Threat highly recommends this award winning (Best Feature, Long Island Film Festival 2005) movie directed by John Touhey. I am looking forward to seeing it. The DVD can be purchased here. So far the film has been screened at several events and venues, including the Anthology Film Archives in NYC.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Adam Carolla & CBS Vs. Asian People

What was that saying about a land war in Asia? Perhaps it should be updated to include advise against getting into a media war w/ Asian-American activist groups over racist remarks. The latest round finds radio personality Adam Carolla & CBS taking on various Asian-American activist groups over a racist joke recently made by Carolla. Angry Asian Man has been following the developing story.

From the 2.6.06 Angry Asian Man update on the story:

This is a letter from the Center for Asian American Media, condemning Adam Carolla for his racist remarks and CBS Radio for its lack of response:

"I am writing to condemn Adam Carolla for his racist and insensitive comments on his radio program on January 24 ridiculing the Asian Excellence Awards broadcast on AZN Television. Even sadder has been the lack of response by CBS Radio's 97.1 Free FM (KLSX-FM).

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), a proud supporter of creative work that often pushes social boundaries, encourages challenging humor. But this situation is an example of bad humor that has gone too far. Within the spoof, Mr. Carolla's show substituted "ching chong" repeatedly to ridicule a show that was in English. We all know good humor is often shocking, but Mr. Carolla's skit merely revived age-old stereotypes that have no place in today's America.
Clearly Mr. Carolla found the rare example of the celebration of Asian American achievement an easy target. While he does have the right to express his humor, doing so with racial epithets is unconsionable. Mr. Carolla should be held accountable for his derogatory antics."

Read the rest here.

And I was just starting to forget my Sarah Silverman, Etc. post.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

LOL to play SXSW, indie fest Boston

photo courtesy LOL site
LOL, the new film about relationships in the digital age by director Joe Swanberg, will premiere at the SXSW film festival in March and will play the Independent Film Festival of Boston in April. Read all about it, see related art work & notes, and see a clip from the movie at the website.

Focal Easy Guide To Final Cut Express, Stat Counter

(published this entry last night, did not show up on the blog properly, so here's a copy)

I found a great how-to book for Final Cut Express: The Focal Easy Guide To Final Cut Express, For New Users And Professionals.

Here's why I like this how-to manual:

* It's only 157 pages (and that's including the index, the other 2-3 books I have on FCE are all over 400-500 pages)

* Its got a lot of photos & has very colorful pages (most instructional books are dull)

* It covers the basics fast so that you can get started w/ editing instead of having to read a book on editing for like a month and still not feel confident about using FCE

* And perhaps most importantly, it's only $19.95, an affordable price for the Poor Filmmakers out there. I got it from Borders in Silver Spring, MD.

And in other news, I added a stat counter to this blog. Should have done this a couple of months ago, oh well. Check it out on the right hand side of the Home page, below the links & above the Blogger icon.

Later, back to editing Date Number One.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

DC Shorts Film Festival Now Accepting Submissions

The last two times this festival happened I was too busy trying to get my new feature Date Number One off the ground, but this time around I am definitely going to try to go see some of the no doubt excellent short films Jon Gann & co have gathered from all around. Looks like DC Shorts takes care of their filmmakers really well:

" Filmmakers at DC Shorts are provided with opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with other filmmakers in our unique Filmmaker's Lounge, a gala red carpet party, sightseeing trips in downtown Washington, DC, as well as housing and meals. "
- from DC Shorts Film Festival website

So all you short filmmakers out there, submit yer flicks, maybe you'll have a good reason to come hang out in DC in September.

"Over 100,000 books published in the US last year", possible direction of growth in the film industry

Just heard a conversation on NPR re: books & the publishing industry. The guest on the show said something like that there was "over 100,000 books published in the US last year". This made me think about the increase in indie film production following the DV Revolution, and the new distribution initiatives popping up this year ("Bubble"/Landmark/HDNet, IFC Films, Withoutabox, self-distro by various filmmakers) and how the US film release landscape may look in a couple of years. I guess Hollywood releases, theatrically and on DVD, also through cable/TV play, a few thousand movies a year at this point. With new individuals and companies engaging in indie film distribution, the number of films released in the US is bound to go up. In a few years the film scene could look like the book or music scene: with blockbusters or best-sellers, with pop stars, but also with relatively unknown indie bands with dedicated followings, with indie publishers putting a few thousand copies of a book out. Basically a more diverse field with more productivity, several thousand more films coming out each year. This is a very good thing, 'cause for decades many individuals and population groups were not served well by Hollywood or mainstream TV releases. Now there will be more choices, and more opportunities for work in filmmaking.