27 November 2007

A Christmas Sale

Just in time for the holidays and all those warm, fuzzy feelings everyone has, there's a sale over at my production company, d press Productions. From now until 22 December, you can get FREE SHIPPING on everything you purchase from the store. (We don't, however, guarantee that an order before 22 December will get there by Christmas, but we'll sure try)

What can you get? Well, you can get this tshirt for a mere $16:

And for $8 you can get the DVD of gravida, which just happens to be one of the best reviewed short films of 2007 (and should soon be coming to a festival near you).

If you can't fill, like, your entire Christmas list there, well then you just aren't trying and/or stretching the limits of what your family wants for Christmas.

EDIT: for reasons I haven't yet figured out, it's still charging shipping. So, if you get charged shipping, I'll send it back with the item.

19 November 2007

13 November 2007

uber-indie: Never Say Macbeth


starring: Joe Tyler Gold, Ilana Kira, Gregory G. Giles, Tammy Caplan, Tania Getty, and Scott Conte
cinematography by: Michael Millikan
written by: Joe Tyler Gold
directed by: C.J. Prouty
86 min/Los Angeles, CA

I'm pretty active in Pittsburgh's theatre community. Occasionally I'll be in a play, or just help out behind the scenes, and every summer I contribute in some way to the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. What, might you ask, does that have to do with the uber-indie project? Nothing, except that today we're reviewing C.J. Prouty's Never Say Macbeth, a comedy about a theatre group's production of William Shakespeare's cursed[1] play.

The story is simple enough: Danny (Joe Tyler Gold), a science teacher from Ohio, follows his actress girlfriend (Ilana Kira) to Los Angeles in an attempt to win her back. Of course, he accidentally ends up getting cast in the paroduction of the Scottish play, triggers the curse, and comedy ensues. At least until the ghosts of past productions show up.

Along the way we hit all the greatest hits of the uber-indie broad comedy: the forced Star Wars reference, the slapstick moments, the one-note supporting characters, the Kevin Smith influences, and the fish out of water motif. Add a formulaic romantic comedy storyline and some green screen effects, and there's your movie.

An aside: what exactly is the obsession with the Star Wars jokes and references? I understand the films were influential and hugely popular during the formative years of a lot of aspiring filmmakers, but enough already. It was wearing thin five years ago. Move on. I'm starting to think it serves more as a hindrance than a help, as everyone seems reliant on it as a convenient source of humor, rather than taking the time to fill that space on screen with something original.

One of the difficulties of watching Never Say Macbeth critically is figuring out where the line exists between the inept and the jokes at the expensive of the inept. Take, for example, the play's director. He's over-the-top and full of himself, to be sure, and sports a ridiculous, clearly fake gotee. As I see it, there's two explainations for this: either the fake gotee is a joke or it's just a terrible makeup job. If it's a joke, I see no reasoning behind it. But, considering that the character's second scene takes place with him standing in front of an old poster where he sports a shorter, real one, I think we're supposed to think the facial hair is real.

The cast, while generally bad (one gets the idea that some of the actors are giving stage performances on film...or is that part of the joke?), has some impressive moments, such as the ones involving theatre ghosts possessing the cast, but they're too few. It's a problem that exists film-wide. Never Say Macbeth is by no means a good film, as currently constructed, but there's enough good parts, enough inspired moments, to make me think a good film is possible, given the right circumstances. Worth noting is some spiffy special effects, considering the budget, and Michael Millikan's cinematography, which effectively mixes stage and film lights to add cinematic credibility to the end product.

Tim Labor's score, on the other hand, is the film's Achilles' heel. It is forced and omnipresent and cloying. The score is annoying in a vacuum, but to make things worse, it is too loud. The purpose of a film score is to enhance the proceedings on film, not to distract from them. Here, the music overpowers the dialogue, the actors, the images, everything. Moments that might work on their own fail simply because the score is dictating how we should feel about them. As you might imagine, that gets annoying quickly.

[1] According to Wikipedia: "said to be because Shakespeare used the spells of real witches in his text, so witches got angry and are said to have cursed the play...A large mythology has built up surrounding this superstition, with countless stories of accidents, misfortunes and even deaths, all mysteriously taking place during runs of Macbeth (or by actors who had uttered the name)." So there you go.

Check out Never Say Macbeth for yourself at the Official Webpage, where you can watch the trailer and see how the cast and crew suffered from the curse. Or, check them out on IMDB and MySpace.

Got a film you'd like to submit for the uber-indie project? Go here for details. You can also read these reviews at TalkingMoviezzz.com.

06 November 2007

a self-imposed deadline

If there's one thing I've learned in all my years of writing (especially in school, where I set world records for procrastination), it's that given the opportunity, I will wait until the absolute last minute to do anything. Even now, when I'm much more motivated to get my own projects done, I'll still delay things as long as possible. It's a terrible curse.

So, I've found that the best solution is to set deadlines for myself (I'd still be editing gravida, had I not given myself a deadline) and treat them as absolute. Also, it helps if I tell other people, since I hate to let people down.

22 November, 2007. Thanksgiving Day. I'm giving myself until then to finish the next draft of the feature script I'm working on. Will it be the final draft? Probably not. Will it be pretty damned close? I think so.

By my estimate, I have roughly 20-25 pages to write (to replace the 20 pages I've cut in the past couple weeks), and I have to re-configure one of the film's key relationships (they were previously friends, but I've decided the film works better if they're dating). Also, there's endless tweaking that I'll end up doing.

Anyway, there's the date. Cross your fingers for me.