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


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?

22 June 2009

16 June 2009

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.


[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