30 December 2009

new series of articles by yours truly

So I've gotten a lot of questions lately about the whole #2wkfilm process, so I've decided it would probably just be best to write it all down. Ergo, I'll be writing a new series (well, a mini-series) for Blogcritics titled "How to Make a Feature-Length Film in Two Weeks" (they changed my original title: how to make a feature-length film in 2 weeks without losing your sanity (or your girlfriend). go figure).

It'll cover the process, from start to finish. Part 1 is up now.

For the last couple of years, there have been countless articles written about how the new digital revolution will grease the wheels of film production, how your phone will allow you to make a movie on your way to work, edit it over your lunch break, and then have it broadcast to the world by the time you get home. Before you know it, Hollywood will come calling with millions of dollars and a three-picture deal. And while that sounds good in abstract (and makes for a really good subject of an article), anyone who's ever made a film knows that it just isn't that easy. The smallest film you've ever seen has about a thousand moving parts, all of them subject to breaking down at any given moment. So while greasing the wheels is nice, it's only a fraction of the process.

If you're like a lot of filmmakers, working out of pocket or with no budget at all, this is just an open invitation for a project to fall apart. And most of the time, that's what happens. A filmmaker can spend years trying to get a modest production off the ground, to no avail.

This is super frustrating.

Stay tuned for the rest.

29 December 2009

gimme gimme gimme

You'll notice on the right-hand column (unless you're reading this in RSS, in which case I've copied it down below), a Demand It! widget from Eventful.

If you're going to do a DIY distribution of your film (and more and more it looks like that's what we'll be doing for Blanc de Blanc) then stuff like this will make your life a whole lot easier, for obvious reasons. Combine that with some DVD sales and all of a sudden the goal of breaking even isn't so remote anymore (it also helps if your target number is really, really low).

So, bring an indie film to a town near you. Click the button. It'll be fun. Honest.


22 December 2009

in my email

I'm pretty sure this person won't mind me sharing, but I'll leave his name out anyway:

great f***ing movie, was way impressed.

When I stopped to think about the scope of such a project, I became even more impressed and then when I remembered the self-imposed timeframe, I became even more impressed.

I think I liked it more than UP

He saw the download version we're sending people who pre-order the DVD. You can do that too either from the box on the right or from the Facebook page.

19 December 2009

20 Films from a Decade

Sure, I haven't done the best job of seeing everything, but still I like to make lists as much as anyone else.

I'm sure if you ask me on a different day, it'll be an entirely different list.

1. The Best of Youth
2. Before Sunset
3. Wall-E
4. In the Bedroom
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6. Saraband
7. The Royal Tennenbaums
8. Talk to Her
9. American Splendor
10. Lost in Translation
11. The New World
12. I'm Not There
13. Sideways
14. Yes
15. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
16. 25th Hour
17. Little Children
18. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
19. There Will Be Blood
20. My Wife is an Actress

18 December 2009

handicapping BLANC DE BLANC

Jonathan Pacheco with a rather long essay on the difficulty in fairly judging a film like Blanc de Blanc, that pretty clearly needs to be judged on a curve:

Completing a feature film is a small miracle in itself; doing most of it within a two week span is that much more impressive. The challenge serves as a way to get the filmmaker to let go of excuses and just make a feature film. There’s no time to second-guess yourself and no time to allow your project to fall into any sort of limbo. There’s also no time to fix, to edit, or to retool your film. If something doesn’t feel right while shooting or cutting—tough. You’ve got a feature to plow through. I imagine that the majority of the shooting and editing takes on a run-and-gun style just to get the darn thing completed. [1] To say the least, there will never be a #2wkfilm Avatar.


It's overall a positive review with constructive feedback (I think). The interesting part (to me) is that Jonathan's favorite scene is the one I'd most like to cut, if I could.

Go figure.

Read the full thing here

16 December 2009

and away we go...

So the first review of Blanc de Blanc is up and running. It also includes an interview:

This is his first feature. And, it is his best film yet.

This was made as an experiment, as part of a Twitter project where a group of filmmakers around the world made films in only two weeks. Lucas took part and BLANC DE BLANC is the result.

Without giving too much away, the film is about a relationship that develops between a seemingly homeless man and a nurse.

The film is beautifully shot making excellent use of Pittsburgh locations. Starring Rachel Shaw, the star of his previous film GRAVIDA, this shows that Lucas is working at a much higher level than the mumblecore filmmakers. Where the film goes, the way the mood of the film changes, it is always unexpected.


Read the full thing at the Moviezzz Blog

03 December 2009

Blanc de Blanc poster

Here it is, the poster as designed by Ryan Davis. A screenprinted version of the poster is on sale in the d press Productions Store for the low, low price of $12 (plus shipping)

02 December 2009

Blanc de Blanc pre-orders

As you can see on the right, you can now pre-order tickets for the Blanc de Blanc Premiere on 14 December in Pittsburgh. Also, you can purchase a bundle that will include a pre-order of the DVD and a screenprinted poster that we should be unveiling soon. There will be more info on these items in the days ahead.

Right now, this is only really for premiere purchases. We'll start selling DVD/Poster pre-orders very, very soon. We just have to figure out the shipping costs and everything.

If you have any problems, please let us know.

23 November 2009

thoughts

Some thoughts typed on the sly while I'm supposed to be working.

++ Kickstarter seems to be making some headway in the all-important quest to help artists find money in ways that aren't soul-sucking. It's a tricky balance, to be sure, but this blog post showcases some of what makes crowdsourcing possible.

It’s a different kind of consumerism. It rewards sincerity, originality, and creativity instead of profit projections and merchandising opportunities (though I would happily back any project that involved a lunchbox). It grants everyone involved the ability to determine the equation — including the unique power to define what’s a commodity and what’s not. And it’s a better feeling, too. I’ll back another 500 music projects on Kickstarter before I’ll buy another CD.

++ That dovetails nicely with a blog post I put up last December about using the money you'd normally spend on Christmas presents at Wal-Mart to give a unique gift. Really, it's the same thing.

++ It's to the point where if you aren't using Kickstarter (or something similar) in your project's early stages, you're hurting yourself. You need to be establishing an engaged audience from Day 1. We didn't do this on Blanc de Blanc, but that's kind of a unique situation.

++ Along that same vein, Ted Hope weighs in with The Twenty New Rules: What we all MUST TRY to do prior to shooting. As with most of Ted's blog posts, this is a must read.

12 November 2009

poster

My film, Blanc de Blanc is going to have 2 posters. This is the first one, courtesy of Matt Croyle:


02 November 2009

Vote

I don't tend to get into politics all that much here, even if my political views aren't exactly a secret.

But, because I'm from Maine, there's a sizable number of readers from there. As you may have heard, Maine is voting to overturn a civil rights bill tomorrow. There's quite a lot of support for this referendum (sadly, among my own family), but if you ask me, there isn't a single valid reason to vote for it.

The civil rights bill doesn't require anyone to do anything. No one's going to make you talk to a gay person, much less marry one.

To deny someone a right that you freely hold is not only un-American, it violates the Constitution.

Regardless of what you may have heard, there's no chance the Jesus portrayed in Matthew would ever, for one second, support this type of discrimination. Never. To suggest otherwise, is to misrepresent everything Jesus stands for. It's sickening.

Really, it has nothing to do with you and what you may or may believe. It's about denying the rights of your fellow citizens. Your religious views have nothing to do with what should be the law of the land. Nothing. If you think otherwise, you desperately need to take a civics class.

Do the right thing. Think of someone other than yourself.

21 October 2009

great, you got it, now earn it.

There's a really great article up at MovieMaker on how to maximize your return at a film festival.

During every festival, one or two movies emerge as “it” films with a life and buzz all their own, and it’s usually not the token star vehicles which open and close the event. Want your indie to be an “it” film? Then make sure you do the following:

Why, yes, I'd love for Blanc de Blanc to be that film. I'm glad you asked.

Basically, it confirms what I've long said: no one cares about your movie as much as you do, so no one's going to sell it better than you can. Hell, chances are no one's gonna promote it at all if you don't. Long gone are the days where you can just be an artist who doesn't think about promotion. If you're not pushing your film, it'll die on the vine.

19 September 2009

the indie world as i know it, as of today

It's been an interesting couple weeks in the indie film world, and as I get ready for a couple days off in the great state of Maine, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out some valuable stuff...

++ The big news, of course, was Josh Olson's diatribe I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script in the Village Voice.

Some thoughts: Olson, while failing the asshole test, makes some good points. In fact, he's almost entirely correct. There's an influx of people who think that surely they can write a script, when all evidence says that they cannot write something as simple as a 1-page term paper. Some of them aren't really willing to, you know, learn their craft. And they don't really see that as an issue. So they press on, and that's fine. They should press on.

The thing is, in skipping the craft of writing (or filmmaking), they've also skipped the part where one learns how to handle constructive criticism. This is almost as important as learning how to write. For their entire lives, they've been encouraged by friends and family (as they should be), but no one's really sat them down and said, "look, you aren't God's gift to film" (to borrow my father's phrase). It's a shock to their system, I guess, and they lash out, which is a terribly rude thing to do when someone spends a lot of time they don't have trying to help you out. They aren't out to crush your ambitions, but someone needs to be honest with you. Calling them an asshole doesn't help.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, that's what killed the uber-indie project. It just wasn't worth it anymore.

++ ...many people think tv programming should be widely available for free on the internet. Of course the content is never free. Someone has to pay to create it and we purchasers of cable and satellite services pay the subscription fees that pay the content companies and allow them to create all that content. Someone always must pay for free. Its unfortunate that there are some incredibly greedy people who think their entertainment needs should be subsidized. We aren’t talking healthcare, we are talking The Simpsons. No one in the country has the right for their Simpsons to be subsidized. -- Mark Cuban on TV Everywhere

++ In case you missed it, Anne Thompson is now over at indieWIRE. So, update your bookmarks. Her summary of the marketplace at Toronto is a grim one, but contains a glimmer of hope: The old independent market is over. A new one will take its place.

We can only hope.

++ About that new one...One of my favorite producers, Ted Hope, has been trying to rally the troops over at the must-read truly free film. There's two recent posts especially worth a read:

++ I have been a beneficiary of others' slack behavior. I got full advantage of an inefficient, lazy, inbred, elitist system. I have gotten to make over 60 films in 20 years. It gets much harder from here. I am doing what I can to help and there are some others that are out there doing the same, even a few doing more, but it is not enough. We have work harder to increase the reach of our web, to shrink the holes in our net. We have to get our comrades to adopt and utilize the tools before them. -- DIY, DIWO, But Just Do It.

++ The time is now. If we don't fully own the absolute necessity to change how we've all been working, we won't be working -- and we won't have the illuminating, inspiring, transforming films that we now enjoy. It's your choice, but action is required.

There is the capacity for many more of us to create and prosper from creative media work. This capacity can also close up and vanish along with our audiences. The canaries are now the size of Big Birds and we somehow are able to ignore them (but that is a subject for a different posts).

SO YOU SAY YOU WANT A SUSTAINABLE & TRULY FREE FILM COMMUNITY AND CULTURE? Time to take some action.
-- 18 Actions Towards A Sustainable Truly Free Film Community

So that's it for now. Go. Read. There's a way to make this work for those of us who make films outside the studio system (and with no money). One of us will crack that code, and probably soon. But we'll never do it if we don't think outside the box, if we don't try pretty much everything.

1,000 words (#7)

14 September 2009

what's so great about that film?

One of the more frustrating aspects of the festival submission process is the seemingly arbitrary method by which films are selected. Since no one person has the time to watch the hundreds or thousands of films a festival receives, fests have to parcel out the preliminary aspects of screening to, at minimum, get the list down to a manageable size so the core programmers can make the final decisions. Often these people in the first line of defense are volunteers and, let's face it, they may or may not know what the hell they're doing.

It's not surprising, then, when good films don't make the cut and bad films do. It's just one of the hazards of festivals.

Some say the answer to that is for festivals to give feedback to the films that didn't make it, but isn't that just making the situation more volatile by giving the already over-taxed screeners more work? How does help?

Enter the Festivus Film Festival, a 3rd year festival out of Denver geared toward "the guy that pawned his car to make a film." They're a very filmmaker-centric festival (and one that programmed my film gravida back in year one) named after a Seinfeld episode. This year they've added something interesting: videos of the screeners talking about what they like in this year's crop. Here's Johnathan McFarlane (also the festival director) on Jeremy Dehn's Miracle Investigators :



Does this add more work for the festival? Yeah, sure. But it also puts a face on the festival and shines a little bit of light on the process. I think we can all appreciate that.

See the rest of the videos

12 August 2009

in the UK

In case you haven't already heard on Twitter or Facebook, the still to be color-corrected #2wkfilm Blanc de Blanc will be playing in the Video Cafe of the Portobello Film Festival in Swinging London[1]. What's the Video Cafe? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's pretty much a screening room where they have a bunch of films on-demand, and you can watch whichever one you please. It's kind of cool, but it's a Screening Out of Competition thing, so it's not, you know, fantastic. But, for a film that hasn't been color corrected, we'll take what we can get. Plus, we've been rated by the London Film Board or something as 12A. So, we need to spice in some nudity or something to get that higher.

That's pretty much it for now. If you'll excuse me, I need to figure out which moving box contains the hard drive with the film on it.

***********
[1] London may or may not be swinging

05 August 2009

the Heath Ledger music video

My girlfriend is a massive fan of Modest Mouse (me, I think they're pretty good), so I've sort of gotten used to forwarding any news of them to her. Well, yesterday this came across my RSS feed a couple of times. Heath Ledger directed a Modest Mouse video before his death. One source (Cinematical?) said the animation was Terry Gilliam's, which looks right, but his name doesn't appear in the credits, so maybe not.

Anyway, enjoy.

21 July 2009

preview of coming attractions?

I've started working on something new. I've got some random ideas floating around my head, and it's anyone's guess right now if it'll work.

But if you're curious...it's sorta kinda about this (bonus points if you know where it's from without cheating):

19 July 2009

Out of Sync


It's no secret that I've long been a fan of Peet Gelderblom (even if I can never remember how to spell his name) and his comic strip Directorama, which you can now purchase for your favorite cinephile.

Well, he's got a short film coming out later this year, Out of Sync, shot on the RED for something of a pittance. You can read all about it here, and below is a teaser he's put together on iMovie. (Side note: maybe it's time to take another look at what iMovie can do?)



Also, get yourself over to Facebook and become a fan of the film. That's where all the latest news is hitting first.

18 July 2009

Hitchcock's Bomb

The AFI has just launched a video section, where they're running all sorts of archival material. There's a lot of nice stuff there, but the first thing that drew my attention was this clip by the master of suspense, explaining film tension. Enjoy

16 July 2009

words. words. words.

This is a few days old, but here's an interview with me about my #2wkfilm, Blanc de Blanc. Enjoy.

Original Link

Why did you decide to do #2wkfilm?

I remember when you first suggested it to Amir, thinking it was the craziest fucking thing I'd ever heard of. But then, after I thought about it for a little while, it began to make sense in a strange way. Eventually I realized I had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario I make a terrible film under impossible circumstances and I shake it off as a learning experience. But, if the film is actually any good. Well, then that's all upside.

What are the things you learned by doing #2wkfilm?

I learned that after a point, maybe on hour 30 in two days, your brain sort of shuts off, and if you don't have storyboards, you're in trouble.

Seriously, though, I think I learned how to trust actors. There's a big difference between letting actors do their thing and knowing when to let them do their thing and when to rein them in. Part of my approach here was to give the actors a great deal of free reign in building their characters and performance (80% of the dialogue was improvised, after all). Considering the time constraints, it felt like the only way to get solid performances was to bring the actors into the process from the very beginning and let them help come up with the story, to effectively help write it. Most of the time that worked, but there are scenes where I had to take that control back, and scenes where I should have done it more. It's a tricky thing to figure out when you're moving that fast, but I think I'm better at it than I was when we started.

Of course, the actors may not agree with that...

What would you do differently?

I'd be better organized. Specifically, I'd have gotten someone to start editing as we were shooting. Editing in the evenings after work made it hard to get into a groove. Having someone to get everything sorted out in the early days would have been a great deal of help. Also, I probably would have taken a couple weeks off work.

What would you expand on?

The two weeks?

I would have pushed to get more connective tissue. I think the biggest problem with the film is that it lacks the footage to connect the scenes, and that can tend to give it a kind of choppy feel. I'm not entirely sure where we would have found the time to do that, but I wish we had.

Also, I would have added a couple of weeks of pre-production. That would have been vital.

What are you going to do about the release and distribution of the film?

I'm not sure. I'm famously skeptical of a method that jumps right into streaming the film for free online. I just don't think it's as effective as we all hope it could be, at least not yet. So, I'll send it to some critics and at very least the festivals that screened gravida (to try and capitalize on any existing audience I have there). After that, I'm leaning toward setting up screenings in non-traditional places to see if we can't make some of the budget back and get the cast and crew some money in their pockets, even if it's not a lot.

Would you do #2wkfilm again?

I'm not sure. I'm not a fan of making films just for the sake of making films, as I think if you're going to spend that much time and energy on a film, it should be in pursuit of a story you really want to tell. Otherwise, what's the point?

So, if I did #2wkfilm again, it'd be because I found a story that'd benefit from the treatment, which is certainly possible.

Has #2wkfilm changed the way you approach filmmaking?

Yeah, I think it's shown me that you don't have to always have all your pieces in place to make a film, that you can wing it a little and it won't all go horribly wrong. Plus, it was pretty liberating to tell a potential actor that we can't reschedule for the next weekend because they had to do a play, that we were going to make the film on these dates, whether they could help or not.

Did the cast and crew like the #2wkfilm process?

Probably everything but the last 3 hours of the day. For the most part they found it exciting to be flying blind, but man were they exhausted by the end.

Would the cast and crew do another #2wkfilm?

They very well might, but I don't think they'd do more than one a year. We kind of swung for the fences where maybe we should have just tried to hit a double.

What has been the response to your film so far?

So far I've been keeping it under wraps until I can figure out what to do with it, but the couple of people who've seen it seem to like it a fair amount. As for everyone else, well, we shall see.

What else would you like to say about film and filmmaking?

I think the real value of something like this is that it allows you to shake off the cobwebs, to get out of the eternal cycle of trying to get a project off the ground. It's a fantastic change of pace. And while I don't know if the approach would be ideal for every filmmaker, but I think every filmmaker should do something like this at least once.

If nothing else, it's gotten me moving a little faster than before and introduced me to other filmmakers around the world, and for that it's been so very valuable.

09 July 2009

the fan box

As you've no doubt noticed (unless you're using an RSS feed), there's a Facebook box in the right-hand column of this here blog for the express purpose of promoting my new film. Normally, I wouldn't mention such a thing, but I think it's an example of where indie film distribution is heading.

There's an article in Wired about how Facebook is trying to operate in direct competition to Google in fundamental areas such as search. Essentially, whereas Google uses really complicated formulas and whatnot to tell you where to go on the internet, Facebook relies on the recommendations of people you know (or sort of know or think you maybe went to school with). The theory being that people trust people they know. It's all very interesting stuff, but what does it mean for us?

In the article, Facebook claims to be "an advanced communications network enabling myriad communication forms", so let's assume for a minute that it is. Let's assume that all that random information about your friends and co-workers actually means something, let's assume that when my status update reads (as it does now) "Lucas McNelly is supposed to be getting things done, but is instead spacing out and listening to the new Bill Callahan album" that Facebook can take that start to build an idea of who I am. What does that mean? Well, for one, when my friends start searching for something new to listen to, Facebook can tell them that I listen to Bill Callahan, which if used correctly could prove more valuable than a search for new albums on Google. A friend of mind can add that to what they already know about my musical tastes and purchase their music accordingly.

If you're thinking this sounds kind of creepy and Big Brother-ish, stop. This sort of thing could save our asses.

Lately, Facebook seems pretty committed to utilizing this sort of thing as they strive to find a way to actually make money on their social network (much like Twitter will be in a little bit), and so they've rolled out the fan box you see on the right to try and spread their reach a little bit further into your web experience.

I'll repeat: this is a good thing.

So now, not only can you get people to be fans of your film (which, let's face it, almost no one is utilizing effectively) who are already your friends, but people who are friends of friends, or stumble across your blog. And then, you have access to information about them--demographics, tastes, etc.--information you can use to promote your film.

There's so many ways to make this work. Your Facebook fan box should absolutely be integrated into every other web page you use, it should be your point of contact to the world. You should be giving away content to people who are fans that other people don't see. Hell, it could even be your film's Official Web Page. There's no reason not to be using it, none at all.

But you need to be doing more with it than just setting up a page and hoping people become your fans. A lot more.

You can start by being a fan of Blanc de Blanc (hint, hint).

08 July 2009

9 minutes

For your viewing pleasure, David Lowery has posted the first 9 minutes of St. Nick. Enjoy.

07 July 2009

oh bloody hell

A couple of weeks ago, my beloved, 6 year-old G5 ran into a bit of trouble and had to take a trip to the Apple Store. It was a minor issue, but I had to back up everything important while they formatted my hard drive or whatever it is they do. I was pretty sure I did that properly, but I'm not the most tech savvy person in the world, so mistakes will be made.

Can you see where this is going?

So last night I finally go to boot up my screenwriting software, and after I track down the serial number, I realize that all the scripts are gone.

Seems I didn't back up everything.

I've managed today to track down a pretty recent pdf copy of a feature script I was thinking of doing next, but I don't believe that'll easily convert back to Movie Magic Screenwriter, so it looks like I'm going to have to re-type it by hand. The rest of the stuff is totally gone. Ugh.

But, you know, other than the time issue, maybe it won't be such a bad thing. It might actually be a not-terrible method of seeing what works in a way I might have missed otherwise. At least, that's the hope.

Wish me luck.

28 June 2009

Billy Mays (RIP)

Somehow, of all the celebrity deaths this week, this one hit me the hardest.

Billy Mays, at his best.

24 June 2009

Free!

I asked this on Twitter a couple of days ago:

  1. Lucas McNelly
    lmcnelly I know everyone thinks giving your film away for free online is the future, but I'm not convinced. Does it help the filmmaker?
  2. Lucas McNelly
    lmcnelly It seems like it essentially turns the film into a commercial

From what I can tell, people who've done this successfully fall into a couple of categories:

1. Radiohead, etc.

Radiohead could put out a blank CD and still sell 250,000 copies and get glowing reviews. I'm sure I'd buy one.

2. Four Eyed Monsters

FEM made something like $125,000 from DVDs and YouTube ads, but not until after they'd played festivals and shown in 31 different cities and been sponsored by Spout and YouTube.

3. Stuff on Hulu

What I'm having trouble finding is evidence of single feature-length films that started out free online and then were able to translate that into something more tangible than a view count.

And the more people I ask, the less possible it seems. Perhaps it's a myth?

14 June 2009

on my iPod: Breathe Owl Breathe

I'm not so sure about these videos, but their music just kills me. Someone needs to get them to score a film. Obviously, this is about as lo-fi as you can get. Visit their webpage. Buy a CD.

And, yes, most of their songs are about the woods.





13 June 2009

It Came From Yesterday (a local film)

To prove that there's actually more to Pittsburgh these days than hockey and zombies, we have news today that Jeff Waltrowski has uploaded the teaser to his long-in-development It Came From Yesterday, which essentially looks like Sky Captain, minus Jude Law and all the shitty parts (i.e. all of it).

I've not seen the entire film, but I have seen some of it, and Jeff was kind enough to rent us his camera at a fraction of the going rate so we could complete Blanc de Blanc. Even without that, I have high hopes for this film, based mostly on the previous work I've seen from them, namely Steve Tolin's effects abilities and Jeff's work as a DP on Rue Snider's short The Bar is a Beautiful Place[1].

Anyway, there's not yet an embedded version, but here's a link. Go, check it out.

http://www.itcamefromyesterday.com/


***********
[1] A film in which I played a creepy drunk guy.

07 June 2009

Happiness is a warm puppy


For the last couple of days, I've had the idea of filmmaking as it relates to happiness stuck in my head. Blame, if you will, David Lowery's post, which was itself a reaction to a great post by Ted Hope that runs the gamut of what challenges currently face the indie filmmaker. There's more there than I can digest in one sitting and you'd be a damned fool not to go read it right now. Go on, I'll wait.

[imagine your favorite hold music here]

Anyway, this is the part that hit me. From Ted Hope:
I know that back in my early days -- when I gave up trying to be happy and instead decided to pursue an interesting life -- I found as a result: things got better and I got a lot happier.
To which David replies:
That sentiment seems to trickle down through the rest of Ted's discourse, and it's one I subscribe to entirely, both in terms of my life and in filmmaking. Which isn't to say there's much separation between the two; for myself, and for many of my friends, there's come a point when the two become more than intrinsically linked, more than symbiotically bound. Filmmaking ceases to be a career and becomes a lifestyle, and just as in one's life one must achieve a balance between comfort and integrity, similar choices must be made regarding filmmaking - choices which aren't always the most immediately careerist options (and which can, indeed, entail turning away from it entirely), and certainly don't lead to the happy ending to which we've all, at one point or another, prescribed.
Filmmaking ceases to be a career and becomes a lifestyle. What I haven't been able to get out of my head lately is that right now, I couldn't say with certainty that either is true. My checkbook will gladly inform you that filmmaking isn't a career (hell, it isn't even an extra income), and in the process of getting older, I don't know that it's even a lifestyle anymore. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The other day I turned 30, and while it wasn't fun, it wasn't the soul-crushing event I suspected it might be. My hair didn't all turn instantly gray. The world didn't stop spinning. Really, other than a deluge of messages on Facebook and the yearly reminders of how old Orson Welles was when he made Citizen Kane, nothing happened. (Although a friend did point out that if 30 is indeed the new 20, I have plenty of time to become Orson Welles, for whatever that's worth) Thing is, if five years ago today you would have asked me where I'd be at 30, this is a pretty far cry from it. And maybe that's a good thing, maybe not. There's certainly a lot less on my IMDb page than I would have predicted.

But the question of the hour isn't career ambitions, but the contrary. Can happiness replace it (and ultimately prove richer)? Of course it can. Am I happier than I was at 25? Sometimes.

Part of the problem for me is that I struggle with depression, a fact that should surprise no one, so things maybe tend to look worse than they really are. That can be helpful at times, but at other points it's crippling. And in the aftermath of a high-energy, high-stress event (like, say, shooting and editing a feature-length film in 2 weeks), it can sometimes get real bad. Maybe that's why I haven't gotten this topic out of my head ever since I read it on the way to work this past week.

Maybe I just need a puppy.

Or maybe I need to work harder, to immerse myself more in film, to make it more of a lifestyle. I've never been depressed sitting in a cinema.

More from Ted Hope:
Your work is your life. You aren’t striving for any one thing other than to improve and to change. Don’t think about that ONE movie you want to make; focus on the long term and what you need to feel as excited, as engaged in fifteen years as you are today. Use your resources. Use your audience. Grow it. Sustain it.
Your work is your life. Amen.

02 June 2009

24 May 2009

#2wkfilm wrapped

We're done. Finished.

Well, not really, but we kind of have to stop or we won't be able to turn in a finished film.

We had a sound crisis on the second weekend, so we're almost going to have to ADR stuff before sending it to festivals and stuff.

The biggest thing you lose doing this (besides sleep) is those little things to connect the dots: establishing shots, transitions, things like that. There simply isn't time.

12 May 2009

someone call imdb

We have a working title:

From God's Eyes

We don't have a finished script, but we do have a working title.

Also, look for production updates from @whitebellykitty

07 May 2009

linky

I always wanted to be one of the Links of the Day

In related news, today I did an interview with a local paper for #2wkfilm. It probably won't run for a bit. I think they want to take photos of the production.

25 April 2009

Also

And if this project wasn't hard enough, I'll be in the USVI for the
next week. I have no computer, but they tell me my iPhone will work
fine.

Oh, the plane's getting ready to leave....

24 April 2009

Introducing, the 2 week Twitter film

Wednesday--this Wednesday--what started as a joke between a couple of filmmakers on Twitter turned into a challenge: make a feature-length film in two weeks. Yes, two weeks. And I know what you're thinking, that's an insane idea. True, but that's exactly why it's a great one.

You spend two weeks in hell making a film that no one expects to be any good at all. And if you can clear that hurdle and make something people actually want to see, you've got a film that you can say, "We made this in two weeks on a Twitter challenge". That's a pretty good promotional hook, don't you think? There's festivals that would love to show a film like that.

And if it's terrible? Oh well. I doubt anyone will hold that against us.

The rules (such as they are): feature-length (60+ min), have 2 weeks from start of filming to fine cut (but not final cut, so we can color correct and whatever before sending to festivals), and it must be done by the end of May.

Reid Gershbein has put up a FAQ you can read.

I'll be posting updates on Twitter (@lmcnelly), and there's a Twitter tag (#2wkfilm), and I'll post longer updates on this blog. So far there's anywhere from 2-5 filmmakers from around the country (actually, one's in the UK) considering this, so it's not just me being crazy.

So we're going to give it a shot. Currently we have no script (but an interesting premise), and a handful of people have said they'll help, schedules permitting. Normally, I wouldn't tell you guys about a film this early in the process, as there's too many ways it could go wrong, but we're on such a tight schedule, that I feel like I kind of have to.

Let's say you want to help with this insanity. Here's what you can do: if you have any artistic ability you want to lend us, that'd be awesome. Currently I'm figuring out who's willing and able and what they can do and using that to decide what, exactly, we're going to do.

So I think that's it. I'm going to be in a US Territory next week, but AT&T tells me my phone will work just the same down there, so I should be sort of kind of reachable, maybe.

Get excited. Good or bad this will be fun.

23 April 2009

a self-distribution roundtable

Recently, I was invited via Twitter by Alejandro Adams to participate in a roundtable on the self-distribution problem. My contribution is at the bottom, but here's what I wrote:

If the current system was broken (and it is), then taking your film's destiny into your own hands makes a lot of sense, if for no other reason than the tangible satisfaction you'd get from being out there on the road, doing something.

But lately I'm wondering if that satisfaction is all you'd get. Honestly, how effective is it?

The thing is, we've already got a pretty extensive distribution model in place, one that can get your film in front of hundreds of people around the country passionate about indie film. But for all the benefits of the festival system, it doesn't do a whole hell of a lot for a film's bottom line. The average filmmaker will easily spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars simply getting into festivals and then make 0% of the festival box office. And while it's easy to say that perhaps festivals could kick a percentage back to the filmmakers, a lot of the small festivals are struggling to break even. The extra money is just going to come in the form of higher entry fees, which defeats the purpose.

The solution, I think, has to lie in finding a way to use the existing festival infrastructure in a way that can help filmmakers break even (and enable them to make another film) without canabalizing the festivals that do such a great job of introducing audiences to filmmakers. Festival directors have already connected with cinemas, so why not use that connection to bring films back for limited runs later in the year? Audiences in the city are already familiar with the film (and will hopefully tell their friends), and a screening in conjunction with the festival would also give the fest an excuse to promote itself apart from their normal window. If nothing else, it's a good starting point for your self-distribution, and those festival laurels can validate your film to an audience and convince them to open their wallets.

It's a pretty simple solution (and if it's already being done with any sort of scale, I haven't heard about it), but what I'd really like to see is those filmmakers using the sort of social networking that made this roundtable possible to promote fellow filmmakers. Say I'm doing a screening in Denver. I should be finding fellow artists I believe in and showing their shorts or trailers of their features in front of my own. It's as easy as a series of emails. And not just filmmakers, but musicians, and painters, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Plus, maybe you'll meet someone who can score your next film.

It's not the greatest, most revolutionary idea, but I think it's a pretty good one. More importantly, I think it's do-able.

Anyway, you should go and read the entire roundtable and follow the various contributors on Twitter, as they have lots of interesting things to say.

What's that? You aren't on Twitter yet? What the hell are you waiting for?

14 April 2009

The Notorious Newman Brothers


starring: Brett Butler, Jason Butler, and Ryan Noel
written by: Brett Butler & Jason Butler & Ryan Noel
directed by: Ryan Noel
NR, 85 min


The Notorious Newman Brothers is a new film from the Butler Brothers, but not by the Butler Brothers. This is an important distinction.

Their last film, Confusions of an Unmarried Couple, starred Brett Butler and was directed by him and Jason. Brett starred. Of his performance in that film, I said, "He speaks excitedly in a thick Canadian accent, rattling off profanities, and operates almost completely by his own single-minded ethos. As an actor, he's serviceable, but as a screen presence, as a character, he's a delight to watch." The film itself was flawed, but enjoyable, and considering they shot it in a weekend for $500 (Canadian), you can't really ask for much more than that.

Which brings us to The Notorious Newman Brothers. Here Brett stars as Thunderclap Newman and Jason as (naturally) his brother Paulie. They're mafia bigwigs, involved in all sorts of high-end mafia-type business, and have numerous expensive houses and cars and women, none of which are shown on-screen. Instead we see them in a house that I assume is where someone working on the film lives[1].

And once again, the film is carried by Brett Butler's performance. His Thunderclap Newman is a deluded, wickedly funny, force of nature. More than ever I'm convinced that Butler, given the right opportunity, is a star just waiting to happen. He's rough around the edges, sure, but he's a gem. I'd love to see what an accomplished comedic director could turn him into, given the right supporting role. If he were in the next Judd Apatow film, I'd camp out for tickets. I don't see why he couldn't have Judah Friedlander's career.

The premise is this: mafia kingpins Thunderclap and Paulie have hired filmmaker Max Chaplin (Ryan Noel) to follow them around and document their lifestyle for reasons I've forgotten, but aren't all that important anyway. Max, who under the pretense of being undercover[2] wears a obviously fake mustache, is to our eyes as much a filmmaker as the Newman Brothers are mafia bosses. There's pretty much zero evidence that Max knows what he's doing as a filmmaker. I think this is on purpose.

What Ryan Noel (who also directed) attempts to do here is make the film look like it's being made by a bad documentary filmmaker, but there's a couple of missteps. First, he's got a crew following him, but there isn't really a point where the crew (especially the camera operator) is as inept as Max is. And second, there's two ways to make a bad documentary. You either don't know what the hell you're doing and the film is nearly impossible to watch for technical reasons or you make it look like you don't know what the hell your doing while covering up all the technical problems that most audience members won't notice anyway. I think Noel is trying to walk a line here between the two methods, but too often he ends up in the former. The most egregious example being a long, long scene in a kitchen where an entire white wall is being blown out by the sun coming through a window. It's painful to watch. Add to the fact that Noel's Max Chaplin speaks in a whiny, high-pitched voice[3] that makes him more annoying than pathetic. You're glad when he's not in a scene.

All of which makes me wonder, what exactly does Noel bring to this equation? I've seen what the Butler Brothers can do as writer/director/actors and I don't see where Noel's doing anything they can't do better themselves.

As for the film itself, it veers pretty wildly between being hilarious and painful. It's not as good as Confusions, but there are moments that are very good, moments inspired enough that you're excited by what might come next. Think of this as one step forward and two steps back. But when the film is clicking, when everything is working, it has the potential to be one of the funniest things you'll see all year. But when it's not, when the jokes aren't working, you'll wonder what else is on. For me, the best parts are most inappropriate. They're at their best when they push the limits of R-rated humor.

The version of the film I saw is six minutes longer than the version currently showing at festivals, so I hesitate to talk about the script, which I felt needed some tightening. It's entirely possible that's been addressed. But without getting into details, one thing I found interesting about the script is how the third act retroactively fixes the first two. There's things throughout the film where I'm just sitting there going, "But...um...", things that don't work at all, that fall completely flat. Then, after the reveal, they make a lot more sense. Do they all work retroactively? No. But a lot of them do. It's an interesting approach, and surely risky, something I bet they don't recommend in the screenwriting books.

And that's one of the things I really like about the Butler Brothers, how they're able to approach their films from a different angle than you'd expect. They work on the thinnest budget imaginable[4], and while that costs them a lot of polish and finesse, they more than make up for it in creativity. Take Thunderclap and Paulie. Most low-budget filmmakers, when trying to show mobsters, make the mistake of trying to hide the fact that they don't have a proper budget to do a mob movie, but the Butler Brothers flaunt the fact that they don't have a budget and thereby turn a liability into an asset.

That's harder than it sounds.


*************
[1] I don't know much, but I know the house of an indie filmmaker when I see one.

[2] Why is he undercover? Beats the hell out of me. The subplot is pretty much dropped, but the mustache isn't.

[3] I assume this is not Noel's actual voice. If it is, apologies.

[4] This cost $500 Canadian. Depending on when they shot it, that equates to anywhere from $500 to $500,000 American.

08 April 2009

the very first film ever made

is now on YouTube, courtesy of the Library of Congress. Enjoy.

a preview

Coming soon (maybe even today), a review of The Notorious Newman Brothers, a new brew from The Butler Brothers. You may remember them, as previously I reviewed Confusions of an Unmarried Couple.

Anyway, until I get around to finishing the review, watch the trailer:

04 April 2009

Wes & Matt

If anyone isn't already aware, Matt Zoller Seitz (of The House Next Door and Home) is running a great series on Wes Anderson over at the Museum of the Moving Image. I'll let Matt set it up:

With just five features in 13 years, Wes Anderson has established himself as the most influential American filmmaker of the post-Baby Boom generation. Supremely confident in his knowledge of film history and technique, he's a classic example of the sort of filmmaker that the Cahiers du cinéma critics labeled an auteur—an artist who imprints his personality and preoccupations on each work so strongly that, whatever the contributions of his collaborators, he deserves to be considered the primary author of the film. This series examines some of Anderson's many cinematic influences and his attempt to meld them into a striking, uniquely personal sensibility.

more from Matt:

Part I "examines what Anderson learned from (and took from) Orson Welles, Francois Truffaut and "Peanuts" animator Bill Melendez.

Part 2, which will go up Friday, April 3, looks at what Anderson borrowed from Martin Scorsese (his mentor), Richard Lester ("A Hard Day's Night") and Mike Nichols ("The Graduate").

Part 3, which will debut Monday, April 6, compares Anderson and Hal Ashby ("Harold and Maude," "Shampoo," "Being There").

Part 4, which debuts Wednesday, April 8, studies the impact of J.D. Salinger's fiction on Anderson's movies.

Part 5, which premieres Friday, April 10, runs the seven-minute prologue of "The Royal Tenenbaums" with onscreen text and graphics and screens-within-screens -- sort of a pop-up video approach to picking apart the director's style."

I've always been a big fan of Wes Anderson (which will surprise no one, especially anyone who's seen the photo of my past Halloween costume). I'm especially excited to see what Matt does with part 5. That should be very cool.

03 April 2009

Directo....something or other

From Peet Gelderblom, creator of the wonderful Directorama (hey, when's Kieslowski joining the strip?), comes this commercial he shot recently on the RED camera. I don't know what they're saying, but it's kind of cool.

01 April 2009

Ballet + Blood Disease + Satan = Awesome

Finally, the must-see film of the week is playing in Pittsburgh, but not the larger cities!



I'm so trying to get people to come see this with me. I'll bring the flask.

29 March 2009

huh?

The early contender for the oddest movie of the year (and I don't know how it could be surpassed, really) is After Last Season. It even seems to have a release date.

the synopsis, courtesy of IMDb:

"The end of another season has brought more than the usual change in temperature to the residents of a city. As they go through some tragic events, the residents, and especially a group of medical students, must reevaluate their lives and face new questions."

Ok.

As David Lowery says, the whole thing defies logic. My first thought is, clearly this is some sort of elaborate ruse. The film doesn't seem to be going to festivals or anything, that I can tell, so here's my theory: Mark Region isn't a real person. It kind of sounds like a made-up name anyway. This is somehow some sort of first step in a Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze sort of thing where you put out a trailer for a movie that may or may not even exist. I wouldn't be surprised if none of the footage in the trailer was even in the movie. Also, I think a studio is behind it in some way. How else would it be on Apple trailers this far in advance?

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

Ricky & Elmo

If you haven't seen this already, what are you waiting for?

Also, can we please get another season of Extras?



and just because...

24 March 2009

the 00's


from Film for the Soul:

"I want to take a look at cinema from 2000 - 2009, each month focusing on a different year, obviously starting with the year 2000 and I'm looking for submissions; reviews, opinions, awards, news, anything and everything film related for each corresponding year.

I believe that not only are we looking at 10 years of cinema but also the rise of the 'casual critic', the blogsphere has given voice to thousands of on-line reviewers and I'm looking for as many of those differing voices as possible.

[...]

I'm also after overall perceptions of cinema in the year 2000; genres, actors, world cinema, you name it, if it happened in the film world then send it on over, together we can build a record of cinema these past 10 years.

Over the coming months I hope to build a resource of film in the 00's, culminating with an ultimate list of the noughties greatest films at the end of the year."


Stay tuned.

22 March 2009

on my iPod: Norfolk & Western



Thanks to Pandora, I've been listening to a lot of Norfolk & Western, a band that I'm told is affiliated with the Decemberists (also apparently a Pandora favorite). The band is pretty fantastic, but this video...well...isn't.

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the edits, to the shot selection, composition, or anything really. It's almost as if they just set up a bunch of cameras, let them run, then put some iMovie effects on the whole thing.

Here's the lyrics, according to Lyricsmania.com:

i was the one
the favorite son-in-law
i was on track
to be behind the desk

and i could pretend
i'd be the only one
to solve the new
energy crisis

and i could report the facts
and tell them all to relax
everyone's so in love
with the trends
even though we know
we're trading in euro's
i can assume the law
is on our side

well all of the great artists are dead for sure
it's entertainment for all and that's all we want
though we all know this is a gilded age
the new king's court is in your home

we can't deny the trends
there's nothing to defend
ignore your neighbors
on all sides
i won't watch the wars
it's easy to ignore
as long as i am still
the favorite son-in-law


So with that, the best idea they had was to put everyone on a stage and just film it? Really? There's a ton of potential imagery in a song like this, and while it'd be a mistake to try and capture all of it, you could at least pick one of the themes and run with it. Like, say, the media aspect of it. The new king's court is in your home. At least put them in a living room or something. At least try to make a good video.

This, this is just a shame.

20 March 2009

Obama and the Madness



Here's what I like about this:

1. There's nothing more American than paying more attention than you should to sporting events, and the NCAA tourney is one of those that everyone pays attention to. For the President to act as if he doesn't have an interest would be dishonest. Also, it would make him odd. We know he plays basketball, so of course he'll be following the tourney.

2. Clearly he knows his shit. He knows that Arizona is in largely on reputation (over the more-deserving St. Mary's), that Pitt is strong inside, that the Pac-10 is down. I know self-professed fans who don't know that much.

3. Obama's a smart-ass. He's witty. He's quick on his feet. He makes fun of the ESPN talking head. He isn't pandering, and he calls out UNC. In short, he's a real, honest-to-goodness person who just happens to be the Leader of the Free World. He also happens to be highly intelligent, which is a nice change of pace.

Anyway, that's it. The games start again in an hour. Let's see if I can't get something accomplished before then.

14 March 2009

mumblecore?


I just wanted to use this photo because it cracks me up.

Obviously, if you're reading this blog, you've been paying attention to the mumblecore discussion that's been floating around the internets. I won't bother to summarize it for you, beyond a couple links:

+ The David Denby piece is clearly a must-read (and I love that artwork). I'll admit that despite his failings, I'm a big fan of Denby, partly because I think he's pretty good at being an asshole about films that are mediocre, or just boring. For that alone, I enjoy reading him.

Thing is, I don't know that Denby's really saying all that much here, but that's probably a result of the fact that the article is largely an introduction.

+ Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax is getting a lot of attention, and for obvious reasons. Twitter really seems divided on the film, much like I was torn on Mutual Appreciation. I haven't seen Beeswax yet, but I'm hoping to soon.

+ Alejandro Adams (who I've just recently come into contact with and seems like a very nice guy) is definitely on the negative side of the mumblecore debate, and he weighs in with a well-written post here. My favorite part?

"It takes a lot of nerve to go on the record as not caring about the technical aspects of filmmaking, especially if you're making a new feature every Tuesday. Joe is either stupid or manifesting some really unhealthy form of integrity. I have a strong suspicion that he's not stupid."

Those two sentences say a lot, in my opinion. I think it'd be really worthwhile for someone to explore that further. From what I've seen of Swanberg's worth (and, admittedly, it's not much), I can see both sides of that argument. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Of course, I can't sign on to Adams' point for view for a couple of reasons: 1) I just haven't seen enough mumblecore to be sure how I feel about it just yet, 2) some of these mumblecore-ers are people I consider friends and colleagues, and 3) I have a sinking suspicion that if Adams was around during the French New Wave, he might have been saying some of the same things. Does that make him wrong or a bad person or whatever? No, of course not. It's just something to keep in mind. Movements like this (and I'm not even sure this is a movement) always seem to look a lot different when viewed through the lens of history than they do when they're actually happening. Let's face it, Swanberg and Bujalski aren't Truffaut and Godard, but who is? They're both pretty young, and neither seems to be lacking for opportunity, so the real question is whether or not they have the talent to be remembered when the movement is over. Someone said (and I forget who) that they think this time will be remembered for mumblecore. To me, we're not at that point yet, and I don't know if we ever will be. But, maybe.

The important thing, I think, is to give the movement a chance to breathe, to find itself. Maybe mumblecore is bullshit and no one will care in 20 years, but maybe it'll become something really great and in 20 years we'll all have selective memories of how we felt about it. Or maybe, just maybe, mumblecore isn't the movement, maybe it's the prelude to the movement. At any rate, we should shut the hell up and let them make their films. They aren't hurting anyone and they're making it a hell of a lot easier for the rest of us to find some acceptance. And for that, we should be thankful.

23 February 2009

Muriels: WALL*E

my blurb for the winner of the Golden Muriel.


"It's a robot love story", says my one friend. A robot love story? That sounds awful. But it's Pixar and the reviews are good, so the girlfriend and I decide to give it a chance. Even at the late show, the theatre is packed with screaming little bacteria traps. The first four trailers are loud, obnoxious animated films with talking penguins that seem like the perfect torture weapon for a cinephile.

Suddenly this doesn't seem like such a good idea.

Finally, the film starts and the little kids are quiet. There's a robot rolling around a barren wasteland, crushing trash into little cubes. Only, he's spending more time looking at shiny things than working, kind of like a bird that puts foil in his nest. And fucking hell, this is a good film. A very, very good film, maybe even a great one.

One of the first things I notice is how the folks at Pixar, led by Andrew Stanton, focus on the smallest of details to flesh out this post-apocalyptic world. Visually, the film is a feast, crammed with bits of dust and scuff marks and smudges and a plethora of things that, at points, make you wonder if maybe this isn't animated after all. The shots of space, in particular, are stunning.

But all the artiface and craftsmanship is worthless if it doesn't support a worthwhile story, and story (that robot love story) is WALL*E's strength. The robot love story is deceptively simple, basically the same love story we've seen since Shakespeare, but Stanton finds ways to make it feel fresh. Maybe it's the robots. Maybe it's the ecological message. Maybe it's Wall*e's puppy dog eyes (and, man, those eyes kill me). Honestly I'm not sure.

Rather then speding a lot of space here saying what Andrew Dignan has already said so well about this great film, what I would like to do is take a minute to talk about that robot love story.

When Wall*e meets Eve, at their "meet cute", Eve asks Wall*e for his directive. He doesn't really know what that is, but it doesn't take him very long to find one. Eve becomes his directive. He becomes soley devoted to her, to helping her, to being with her, to saving her, to (most importantly) holding her hand. And not to belittle his intelligence, because clearly he's a pretty inquisitive little robot, but it's almost as if he's oblivious to everything else. Or maybe that's a perfect representation of what it's like to be in love, just two people existing in a world all their own. His devotion, his single-minded focus, is what makes this such a compelling story. The fate of all humanity hangs in the balance, but none of that even registers to Wall*e. All that matters is that Eve needs his help. In one of the film's saddest moments, he even loses his memory trying to rescue her. You can't find a stronger love than that. In a room full of transfixed little DNA samples, I almost broke down and cried.

And, I don't know, maybe it's those puppy dog eyes, maybe it's the sequence where Wall*e cares for a comatose Eve with the same tenderness that so many people show when their spouse is unresponsive in a hospital, or maybe it's just that this is one of the first pure love stories I've seen since falling in love myself, but to me, WALL*E is one of the greatest love stories ever put on film. It's so far superior to every other film this year, I considered leaving the rest of the spots on my ballot blank.

22 February 2009

Muriels Best Picture

Paul is finishing the Muriels in grand style, counting down the top films by including a blurb on every film that got a first place vote, starting with reprise, all the way down at #35.

What's so great about this is all day I've been seeing films that maybe didn't do so well in the voting, but only because not many people got a chance to see them, especially me (but really, Dennis, Speed Racer?). It's a fantastic way to fill out your Netflix queue.

Every half hour there's a new one, thereby ensuring you won't get anything done all day, and I've still got a blurb left to come, so hopefully you don't see that one for a long, long time.

Also, if I get motivated, I may write something in the next couple of days about why Wendy and Lucy is such a colossal failure of a film. But for now, enjoy The Muriels.

13 February 2009

what's worse...

...than writer's block?

Well, a lot of things, but not having time to write down what's spinning around in your head is pretty shitty.

11 February 2009

script update

For Thom, and whoever else cares,

I have a to-do list in my pocket of 6 things that need to be done before I can call finished this large (and hopefully last) revision of my feature script. Not all of them are big.

They are:

1. A transition scene maybe involving a secondary character
2. Fix the end of an early scene
3. Add an exposition scene that adds to the main character's worldview
4. A line (or lines?) of dialogue to trigger a big shift in the script
5. Add a scene near the end, somewhat large
6. Write a description for an imaginary film that would go in a film festival program.

And then hopefully that's it. I'm shooting for the end of the week, but that's optimistic.

08 February 2009

Muriels: 25th Anniversary Award

Rupert!


What's so great about this for me, besides the fact that I voted for The King of Comedy, is that this was considered such a huge flop at the time, even though it's obvious now how brilliant it was.

Maybe the best part about DeNiro's performance is how you just know there's a huge reservoir of anger and violence just under his eternal optimism. You know he's gonna snap, you just don't know when or how.

See the full results

03 February 2009

Actor (Actress) in a Supporting Role

Something I spent a lot of time considering as I filled out my Muriels ballot this year:

If an actor in a role that isn't billed as the lead role (let's call him Heath) completely takes over the film, is he really a supporting actor? Isn't he then an Actor in a Leading Role? Doesn't that inherently go against the whole point?

To me, a supporting actor is one who makes everything and everyone else in the film better, not someone who dominates his or her scenes. This isn't basketball where coming off the bench and taking over is a virtue.


[edit] My girlfriend points out that she said pretty much the same thing 3 days ago at a bar. She's usually right (and when she isn't, it isn't worth pointing out).
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