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The Outlaw Son (recap)

Thank goodness for The Outlaw Son. For a while there I thought intimate personal filmmaking was an ideal. A pipedream. Producing this film completely restored my will and faith in making films my way. What a wonderful, compelling shoot it was. I’d happily be a producer if it is these kind of films from beautiful minded artist like David. To me the thrill of making it small and warm was far greater than that of working on a million plus dollar clown show that most sets seem to be (or want to be, even if they don’t have the money.)

We had nine people on the crew (plus or minus a few here and there.) The majority of the time spent standing around waiting was by the crew instead of the actors. I’ve never worked on a set like that before. I loved it. The lights were set, camera and sound ready to roll but David needed more time to rehearse with the actors. So we waited and there was no stress. I was happy for them to be spending the extra time. In the end we had an entire extra roll of 400ft film left over!

Traditionally film sets are very stressful and fast moving but I’m proud to say that not only was this shoot efficient and effective but was equally laid back and fun. Kyle and Machete fit right into the set like old pros even though this was their first time acting in film. The entire crew was wonderful (especially Clay Liford who I would call MVP for the shoot) and I’m looking forward to working with all of them again. I’m really in love with this style of working and I can’t wait to do it again on my upcoming trilogy of shorts.

We had a fine moment in Guerilla Filmmaking when we faked an airport terminal at a hospital. We had every person on the crew acting as an extra carrying various suitcases walking through an exterior foyer at the hospital for about 45 minutes and me standing with my cell phone keeping a close eye on the security desk. Yet, no one stopped us or even asked us any questions. We just had nine people walking around with bags and nobody cared.

The majority of the crew and the cast stayed at my house making it a slumber party every night. Aside from Kyle being really sick and Machete getting sick the last day everything went smoothly and aptly so, Kyle’s sickness played into the film very well. We got a wonderful deal on the camera and lighting equipment from MPS. These guys truly support independent filmmaking so please go rent from them if you’re looking for gear. They actually know what it’s about and love to work with people doing what they love. I’d also like to give a huge thanks to my wonderful wife Amy for giving up not only her house for our slumber parties but also her restaurant for the entire shoot. She is gracious beyond my worth.

Right now I'm sittinging in the living room of my good friend Jim McMahon waiting for my lovely wife Amy and my best friend David to arrive in L.A. for a week of respite. They are driving across the desert plains as I type this.

Major congrats to Jim on landing a sales rep for his directorial debut Bloodshed.
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Rehearsals and BNAT 7

Austin this weekend was spirit swelling. First I met with Abbey, Anika, and Cory for a discussion about their respective characters and the joint backstory that they all share. I gotta tell you, I have definitely hit the nail on the head with this cast. I mean everyone is so on point and into their characters. This is going to be truly compelling experience. Since Abbey is in Dallas she rode down to Austin with Amy, David and I. She's a truly amazing personality. I'm really glad that I followed my instincts in casting her.

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to Butt-Numb-A-Thon Seven. I have completely rediscovered my love affair with films. Call me a filmgeek and I will wear the tag with pride. The 24 hour movie marathon is inexplicable. You have to experience it to understand it. Many other people including David will explain all the details much better than me. But here's a list of the films:
The Most Dangerous Game
King Kong: Yes, it really is as good and brilliant as most people are saying. If you just let it take you away you will be in love with this movie.
Betty Boop Short
Footlight Parade
Sick Girl (Masters of Horror Series): Props to Lucky, Angela, and Jaye.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
The Professionals: Classic western that I've never seen. Brilliant performances all around. I'm in love with this movie and I need to watch it again.
District 13
Cigarette Burns (Masters of Horror Series)
The Descent: Holy Fucking shitballs this is scary. I mean truly creepy. I can't wait to make Kara watch it.
Stunt Rock: Good god.
Drum
Fuhrer in Your Face (Donald Duck Short)
V for Vendetta: I can't believe that a major studio is putting this out. I hope there is a major shit storm happening after this film lands. V is for Anarchy, V is for revolution. This film will be hard to top next year.
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Cast up

GDMF is now fully cast. Abbey Collins (Bridgette), Cory Criswell (Mark), Anika Kunik (Violet), and Hanna Hardin (Loretta) are now charged with the incredible task of bringing brilliant performances to my skeleton of a script. I know they can do it. They are an incredibly interesting group of people and I can't wait to get to work on rehearsals. Since three of the four cast are in Austin I'll be spending lots of time down there and that's a good thing.

Next week it's off to Austin for the first cast meeting and Butt-Numb-A-Thon with Amy and David. Then the week after that we shoot The Outlaw Son. It's gonna be grueling but fun with lots of great vegan food.
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World Wide

Good news abounds. We're well on our way into production for The Oulaw Son which I'm producing and David is directing. I have cast my lead for GDMF. Still trying to figure out all the other roles though. I guess soon it will be time to make a website for it.

Deadroom has picked up a Sales Agent for worldwide distribution. All we have to do is sign the paper work and deliver a bunch of stuff for the DVD: behind-the-scenes, commentary, dialogue transcript, M&E mix, and a bunch of other technical stuff that thankfully David will mostly be taking care of. So that's that. We'll see where it takes us.
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Filmmakers need to rise up

2257 Regulations are a direct attempt to censor mature relationships in film. Why isn't anyone else talking about this.
http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/blog/2005/10/scene-2257-take-three.php#comments
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Quality of Life

Yes, Graffitti Filmmaking.
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Casting Call: GDMF

Project: GDMF
Writer/Director: James M. Johnston (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1435934/)
Company: Beautiful Confusion Films and Road Dog Productions
Description: A rookie high-dollar striptease performer takes on her first private client. Later she learns a disturbing fact about this man's identity.

Casting Call:
Bridgette: Female, 20 years old - Sultry, exquisite and street smart (lead)
Loretta: Female, Mid 20's - Sultry and street smart (supporting)
Mark: Male, Early 40's - Businessman. Well kept and handsome. Aged well. (lead)
Violet: Female, Early 40's - Simple style and motherly grace. (supporting)

Details:
Experimental Short Subject. Paid (flat rate, low pay.) DFW/Austin shoot. Meals Provided. Tentative shooting dates in early February with heavy rehearsals (bi-weekly) leading up to shoot. Improvisational ability is a must. A large part of character development (and some story development) will rely on the actors. I am really looking to work with talent dedicated to the artistic pursuit of filmmaking and attempt to break free from the conventions of acting. Talent must be comfortable with non-explicit, non-exploitive nudity (for Bridgette, Loretta, and Mark.) This film deals with mature subject matter. Please do not submit if you have reservations.

Please submit H/R to: cast_gdmf@beautifulconfusion.com
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N.O.

I Wish I Was In New Orleans
(Tom Waits)

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy
A bottle and my friends and me
Hoist up a few tall cool ones
Play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone calling me home
And I can hear the band begin
'When the Saints Go Marching In'
By the whiskers on my chin
New Orleans, I'll be there

I'll drink you under the table
Be red nose go for walks
The old haunts what I wants
Is red beans and rice
And wear the dress I like so well
And meet me at the old saloon
Make sure there's a Dixie moon
New Orleans, I'll be there

And deal the cards roll the dice
If it ain't that ole Chuck E. Weiss
And Clayborn Avenue me and you
Sam Jones and all
And I wish I was in New Orleans
Cause I can see it in my dreams
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy
A bottle and my friends and me
New Orleans, I'll be there
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My Rant, My Mantra, My Mission

I guess I should update this thing. I've had little interest in dolling out my innermost being onto your computer screen lately. I only started this blog as part of the game. You know, as a filmmaker, thinking maybe if I could get you interested in me as a person or how I go about my "craft" that maybe you'd be more interested in my films. Honestly, I have zero passion for writing this journal. It's a complete chore and bore. I'd much prefer to show people than tell them on this damn thing. I should probably start a vlog but not the kind you're thinking of.

While out among the prairies of the beautiful Great Southern Plains I had lots of me time. Lots of thinking. No sirens, no phones, no internet, no traffic, no friends, no business, no scripts. Just me and my movie camera. Jarid peddled away the miles in 100 degree heat. A literal uphill battle as he moved from about 600 feet above sea level in Fort Worth to about 5000 feet above sea level in Denver. Sometimes facing 60-70 degree hills, plains storms of the ilk I've never witnessed in the city, and truckers who refused to share the road with a bike. All of this with no hesitation, no doubt of the end he sought, constantly in motion. I watched the pronghorn, buffalo, prairie dogs, jack rabbits, ferruginous hawks, burrowing owls, king snakes, and multitudes of insects go about their lives. Constantly caught up in the movement of nature. I sunk deep into my core. I thought about painters, musicians, graffiti writers, poets, writers and sculptors. Exactly what am I doing? Not on this doc but in general, in film, what's my goal?

I came to some conclusions. I'm here to make films. I'm not a writer or a businessman or a partier or a diplomat. I'm sick of writing scripts in hopes that some producer somewhere will see a spark in it or a name actor will see a way to make themselves look good or some development exec will be charmed by my witty other side of the tracks repertoire at a party. I'm a FILMMAKER. Break it down. Film - Maker. I want to make films. I'm not here to play a game. I'm not here to wait around for five years hoping someone else will make my film happen. I want to be creative constantly. If you're not willing to put your own money, blood sweat and tears into a project how can you expect someone else to?

I can't go an hour without some grand idea swelling up inside of me. But I suppress it. Always suppress. Must work on this script, must write so I can impress potential players of the game. I'm not really a writer. I can write, and I should write and I will. But for now, at this point in time directing is where I want to be. I know that most of my ideas can be made into an outline that when executed with the actors on camera will be much better than they ever can on paper. Or at least be better written into script form by a much more disciplined writer. It's just my instinct and I can't explain it. That is what excites me as an artist, to make not write. That is a driving desire for me. To get out there into the unknown and make something happen for better or worst.

I made DEADROOM a year-and-a-half ago and what has it got me. We've played the game. We talked to producers, sales reps, execs, etc, etc. For what? A string of excuses and the ever essential wisdom that our film "just isn't marketable." So a well made, experimental, maturely directed, intriguing thought provoking film with great no-name actors from no-name directors just isn't marketable. Nowhere in the millions of people in the world is there a market for that? Great. Point taken. I guess I'll never make a damn red cent in this life because that is the only type of film a ever plan on making. When I see my friends with brilliant scripts being passed by over and over I know there is something wrong. I no longer have any respect or trust or faith in the so called "independent film" world. Indiewood is a very correct nomenclature. It's now monopoly and monopoly jr. The indie industry has been corrupted beyond repair. We have to find a way to move beyond being "indie."

So what does this all mean? Where does it take us? I just know that I'm sick of waiting. With limited money and limited resources what can an artist do. Be creative and put the balls to wall and do something. I can't think of a single excuse to go years without actually making a film. Some would say that playing that game is part of making film. Speak for yourself. I have wonderful talented friends, we have cameras, we have sound equipment, we have editing equipment and we have wonderful ideas. I plan to drag them all along with me in my grand scheme to be prolific. If they choose to wait for someone else to get their films made. Great. They can play that game and I will help them all that I can. But in the mean time will you (my creative friends) please help me get my no frills, no chance for distribution or making money projects off the ground? Please? Inevitably we will probably end up in the game but at least we can arrive as doers not beggars. We will land in the industry on our own terms as so many great filmmakers have before us.
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Morn-norM

It was a strange morning. I woke up early, around 7:30, and decided I'd mow the lawn before it got hot. Amy had just got home from her pilates class and parked in the driveway. I went in to get the keys to move the car into the garage since it was in my way and she was washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. After I mowed the lawn I came inside to a clean kitchen and we decided to have some cereal. We got our bowls and set down at the dining room table. We had breakfast together, in our home at our table.

That's the most domesticated I've ever felt.
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What is "The Downing Street Memo?"

http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/index.html

Minutes from a meeting on July 23, 2002, eight months before the invasion of Iraq. Here's an excerpt:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Although I don't find this too hard to believe and I'm not suprised the media isn't giving it more coverage, it's still strange to read such direct proof of the adminstration planning their lies to justify war. Particularily damning is this chart: http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/whycare.html which outlines quotes the Bush administration made in direct conflice with the information in the memo. For instance:
“I don't like war. [...] That's why I first went to the United Nations to begin with, on September the 12th, 2002, to address this issue as forthrightly as I knew how. That's why, months later, we went to the Security Council to get another resolution, called 1441...

I've not made up our mind about military action. [sic] Hopefully, this can be done peacefully...”


- George W. Bush,
Mar. 6, 2003,
White House Press Conference
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Doc

BOBBY
Now I want you to think about a boxing match. It's one of the greatest sports isn't? Man to man. That's it. I tell you, I love watching it. Just imagine if they changed the rules. What if the champ was allowed to stand out in the crowd hidden and camouflaged with a pile of rocks. So when the bell rings the contender steps into the ring but the champ isn't there to meet him. He stands there with his hands up ready to fight and suddenly, BAM, he gets hit in the left temple with a rock. He keeps his hands up, looking around for the champ, ready to defend, but he keeps getting pelted with rocks. Pretty soon he's knocked out and the champ keeps his belt. He dances around, hooting and hollerin, the crowd is cheering for him.

He looks around the room at the men's faces.

BOBBY
Now is that sport?
(beat)
Is it?

MEN
No.

BOBBY
Is that victory?

MEN
No.

BOBBY
That's right. That's right, and that is the reason you are here today. In this class I'm gonna teach you how to step into the ring with nature and come out a real champion.
___________________________________

I'm writing again. It's going pretty well. I have a precise idea of where I'm going with the story I just have to get the characters to play along.

I'm about to start headlong into a documentary. It will take up most of my time this summer. It's about The Great Plains Restoration Council (www.gprc.org.) I will be following Jarid, GPRC's Executive Director on a 12 day, 1000 mile bike ride from Fort Worth to Denver to raise funds and awareness for their programs. The doc will also cover the Plains Youth Inter-ACTION Program and the Youth Summit in South Dakota where GPRC works with at-risk youth from the inner-cities and Indian Reservations teaching them to assess and address issues that are critical to the health of self, community, and our unique Prairie/Plains environment. The third tier of the doc will cover The Million Acre Project where GPRC is working to build a million acre wildlife reserve in both western South Dakota (Northern Plains) and in the Southern Plains where Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma roughly meet.

I'm definitely interested in making a different type of documentary with this. I don't want it to be full of talking head sit down interviews and pie charts. To me, this issue is about more than information. I'm really trying to put together a grouping of images and conversations that will hit people on a gut level. Something that will make them feel as much as think. I'm approaching this as a narrative. The story is the land, and the people trying to help it are the characters.

I am trying to raise some money to cover cost for equipment rental and travel cost for the crew (flights, hotels, food.) So if you have any money to spare or know someone that does please email me: doc at beautifulconfusion dot com. I'd very much appreciate any help.
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Revenge of the Sith


David and I, first in line for the last time.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this really cool video that David made about Star Wars and his life in creativity. Check it out, it's quite amazing and wonderful: http://www.road-dog-productions.com/confluence.mov

I kept a log via my cell phone based on the days happenings. It's pretty boring actually but since mundane is the new punk I'll go ahead and post it:
2:09 p.m. We have arrived at the Palace Theater in Downtown Fort Worth. We are the first two people in line. They actually had to come out and place the barricades up for us. We are the biggest nerds in downtown FW. Kings.

3:58 p.m. We are still the only two people in line. Right now David is taking some pictures with his Mace Windu doll that he brought. Not doll, action figure. Do you want to say anything David? "No." So...that's all that's going on. We've had lots of people come by and say how cool we are for being in line but we're still the only people.

6:39 p.m. We have been joined by one other person in line, Jake, he's been here for about an hour probably. That's it, nothing else going on.

8:08 p.m. Alright, the line is starting to get big now and our first costumed people have shown up. It looks like it's gonna be a good crowd...that we're gonna be having fun. Me and David were able to slip away and grab a beer (New Belgium's 1554 on tap) so we're feeling kinda nice and Amy's gonna join us in a bit, bring us some food, so it's all looking good.

8:32 p.m. A lady bought a box of chocolates for the entire line so she handed it to me since I'm number one in line but I couldn't eat any since I'm Vegan and they're all milk chocolate but it's a very nice gesture and it's cool.

8:33 p.m. (I hand the phone to a young couple for comments)[young man makes random noises I can't think of a way to type and then passes phone] "This is Colleen and I'm here at Star Wars in my great robe, it's so awesome."

10:07 p.m. (I hand the phone to Mateo Zeske, who has cut in line with us, in an attempt to garner some comments from him. Instead he clams up and can't think of anything to say so I tell him to push cancel but he misunderstands me and yells "CANCEL " really loud into the phone almost crushing my eardrums as I listen to playback.)

10:07 p.m. The line is around the building, around two corners of the building. They're gonna start seating at 10:30 p.m. so it's gonna get crazy.

10:18 p.m. Some teenage kids with a video camera came and interviewed David and asked him how long he's been in line, who his favorite Star Wars character is. Then they asked him if we would show them some Jedi moves and asked if we would do a fake Jedi fight but we kindly declined.
That's about all I got. It does seem sort of random and boring. Indeed it probably would have been insipid to any outside observer. David and I pretty much held a constant conversation for the entire duration. Bouncing between Star Wars (duh), film, our projects, musings on experimental film and creative commons liscense, how sexy the picture of Brigitte Bardot is on my Desktop, and other things of importance.

Random memories:
--A lady bringing a shit load of taco bell tacos for everyone in line (again we couldn't partake but the gesture was swell.)
--Being unofficial diplomats for the theater. Everyone seemed to come up and ask us questions instead of just going to the ticket booth and asking.
--A bicycle cop riding by throwing up devils horn rock n' roll gesture with his hand yelling "You guys rock, I'll be joining you later."
--Walking down the street after having a beer and a man stopped us and said "You guys better get back to your post."
--The manager of the theater, who knew David from a previous job, offering to let us watch the film at around 4:00 p.m. while they did a tech run. It was hard to say no but opted to wait and see it with the crowd and our friends.
--A girl walking by and saying "Star Wars is retarded" to which I replied "So is your mom but I still line up for her."
--A gentleman about my age confiding that all he could think to bring with him was a cigar and some scotch. He, David and I shared a shot of that scotch. There was no toast or words imparted. It was a bittersweet unplanned moment of silence, all of us aware that this is indeed the last time.
So what did I think. I loved it of course. People keep asking is it as good as the originals, is is better than I and II. That's all besides the point to me. I love Star Wars therefore I love the films. It's that simple. Lucas made the film he wanted to make. There's nothing he could have done to make these "as good" as the original trilogy. They aren't the original. They are the prequels. He's a forward thinking visionary filmmaker, why would he go back and do things the way he already had. People are selfish. They take Star Wars so personally and expect so much but they won't allow Lucas, the creator, to do that for himself.

Since I never really cared too much about the extended universe I come away from this film as the end of all things Star Wars and I am perfectly happy. I'm not jaded or cynical. I now turn to plotting a way to talk George into letting me and David do some sequels.

I had a dream the other night that I emailed everyone I knew and said "I just saw a great documentary about life on Mars. It's called Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. You should all go see it. It's really good."


BTW- This is completely unrelated to Star Wars (or is it) but I want to mention it before I forget. I was at Spiral the other night and poet/activist Tammy Gomez [http://www.hyperweb.com/tammyg/gomez.html] dropped by. She said "I saw you on a vlog yesterday, you were standing in the background while someone else was talking." Well the only thing I could think of was Chuck so I asked if it was Blogumentary [http://blogumentary.typepad.com/] and she couldn't quite recall. I mentioned SXSW and that rang the bell for her. Funny, a woman in Fort Worth, Texas recognizes me from a vlog of a man in Minneapolis, shot while we were in Austin. Connectivity.
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Broken

A minor tragedy has struck my family. My cousin, Wesley Stone, has fallen off a balcony and broken his back. Here are the details that I know:

Wes was at a wedding in St. John (Virgin Islands?). During a party at a hotel someone decided to play a joke on all the people out on the balcony smoking and lock the door. So Wes, in a "I'll show them" kind of move decided to climb on to the balcony next door and go through the room and back into the hotel room where the party was going on. As he climbed the trellis either something broke or he lost his grip and he fell twenty feet. He was careflighted back to Austin and landed just today.

Even though we're only cousins we actually grew up quite close. Without taking a long time to explain the fragmented dynamics of my family I'll just say I'm as close to him as I am with my brothers (actually more in some cases.) I spent most of my childhood wearing his hand-me-down clothes. We had slumber parties, we played football and most importantly we got into lots of trouble. Him and my other cousin Todd were like my older brothers and gracious enough include me in their goings on. Of course as we got older and became adults our relationships changed and we started to only see each other a few times a year. Until lately. Wes was always very into film and filmmaking, he lived out in L.A. for quite some time and did pretty well for himself before moving back to Austin to go back to school. Since Deadroom has taken off he's been amazingly supportive, calling me and emailing me. He was there for the SXSW premier with a group of people that he brought to show off his little cousin. He even drove down to Fort Worth once just to bring his girlfriend to eat at Spiral. He really is one of those "guys". You know the type. Beer drinking, weed smoking, fun having, joke telling, wild and crazy and full of life kind of guys: the free-wheeling not giving a fuck kind of lady's man. Now that's all gonna change.

He broke his spinal cord between L1 and L2. At the best he will be paralyzed from the waist down.

I just find myself saying over and over: It happened to the wrong guy. He's definitely a strong willed man with a great outlook on life but as Todd said in an email to me "So overwhelming. So much is over. So much unknown. Would be so difficult not to sink into depression."
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SW III: ROTS

FUCK YEAH!!!
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What About Now?


I'm surprised I haven't mentioned how fucking cool these guys are: http://www.foodfightgrocery.com/

You'll notice that I added a new link under Political Site for Sensual Liberation Army. It's a blog that post progressive political information and articles intermingled with links to porn and nude sites. Their motto is: See some nudes/Save the world. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it but it's definitely an interesting way to get peoples attention on to politics and they do discuss and link to a lot of good stuff that needs to get out there. Plus they are pretty sex positive. I've noticed that some of the porn stuff they link to isn't so positive (at least in my opinion) but they themselves are all about freedom of sexuality, self-expression through the human body, and just plain being an adult and recognizing sex as something fun.


You'll also notice I added "Wake Up and Smell the Fascism." This rise of Christian Fascism is something that really freaks me out. I try not to be too paranoid about it but all the signs are there. It just boils down to whether the majority of American people will actually put up with it and allow everything to go down hill. Four years ago I would have said "Hell no, the American people won't let this happen." But look at where we are today. I just don't know anymore. To me this is all beyond conservative or liberal. If one section of society loses their rights we all do. We as a nation need to wake up and realize there is one thing that can still unite us as citizens: actually being free in the U.S. Why can't we recapture the spirit of a nation that created a flag with a snake ready to strike that said "Don't Tread on Me." Where did the lust for liberty go? No government is perfect. They all suffer from human nature. At least throughout our history we've made progress and confronted some of the obvious contradictions of our system. But what about now? Where are people's sense of irony?

PS. Speaking of fascism: In twenty-four hours I'll be watching the rise of Lord Vader.
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Leonard Clonin'

The other night I had a half asleep dream that I was conducting a Leonard Cohen cover band called Leonard Clonin'. It was very conceptual and the basis was four members dressed as Vulcans doing Sci-Fi space age covers of Cohen's songs. I think it could be pretty brilliant. If I could get David, Curtis, Ramsey and Cri together and perform in public places without invitation it could be quite amazing. Oh well.

It's always great to come across local music that's really good and you don't have to force yourself to want to like it simply because it's local. I came across one such musician today on Myspace. Her name is Audrey Lapraik and you can find her music and info at: http://www.myspace.com/audreylapraik. I think it's great and worth checking out.

While the end is near, I can't help but wonder what life will be like post Star Wars.

This is cool: http://www.bradleyking.com/ORG%20SITE/thanksgiving_dinner.mov

So is this: http://www.filmfodder.com/mt-weblog/archives/001525.shtml

My respect for this guy (http://www.saddle-creek.com/) is growing. Check it: http://homepage.mac.com/onegoodmove/movies/leno050205brighteyes.html

This should be interesting if it gets out: http://www.missiontomatrimony.com/

A manifesto we can all learn from, whatever our respective places in society might be:
My name is Yen Tan. I'm a filmmaker in Dallas, Texas. I'm Chinese. I speak fluent Mandarin and broken Cantonese. I seek to make films about everyday people living their everyday lives. Most of them are homosexuals. I don't consciously set out to do so, but I believe it's my subconscious attempt to push forward a representation of the gay everyman in contemporary cinema. We're not just hustlers, druggies, gym bunnies, drag queens, sex fiends or asexual comic reliefs. We're also the plumber. The postman. The accountant. The teacher. The unemployed. The retiree. We are human above our sexuality. We eat. We shit. We fuck. We pay our bills. We seek love. Sometimes we find it, other times we don't. Most of us are not cute. Or dress well. Or drive fancy cars and have mucho disposable income. It's only in our most unfabulous moments, that truth and beauty exist.


Sorry about all these random links but I've just been saving them as I come across them. I've actually been working on a few more substantial comments that I hope to post if I ever get around to writing them. One involves the Anarchy of DV Filmmaking (I do mean the true definition of Anarchy not the apocryphal version that mainstream media and education has fed us all our life) and the other is about the ultimate truth vs. faith. I wouldn't consider these essays at all just commentary.
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Overpopulation Customer Service Tip no. 1

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Independent Art Filmmaking

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East Coast Represent

The greatest thing about coming back home was seeing my beautiful lady waiting at the baggage claim for me. If I could have ran I would have but there was a ridiculous crowd of people swarming around between her and I. So she waited patiently as I made my way through the crowd inching closer to her, smiling at each other all the while. I'm not even sure I was walking, I think I might have been floating towards her. It was an excruciating 75 seconds or so before we finally met and embraced. That moment and that feeling right there is inexplicable. With Amy it doesn't matter where we are. Home is with her.

Now on to the recap:

I landed in Philly with Texas tree pollen still dangling from my shoelaces. This physicality matched my attitude. Like it or not, I'm a little piece of Texas. Surprisingly, this worked to my advantage. It seems that people are generally pretty intrigued by Texas. Particularly on the East Coast. Everywhere the four of us Deadroom directors went during the festival we were greeted as the "Texas Contingent." This is funny because obviously none of us represent anything about the typical Texas stereotypes. I think they were just surprised that we can survive and prosper in this buckle of the bible belt.

As usual, film festivals are as much about the people you meet as they are about the films. We met some cool folks and were treated with great respect and honor by the wonderful guest services of the festival. Susan Dietrich and Andy Preis were particularly attentive and helpful throughout our visit. Like I mentioned we got to meet Malcolm McDowell and have a decent conversation with Steve Buscemi. It was great to run into Lily Bright again, who is the Executive Producer of The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. We ran into her at SXSW and she knew Deadroom because we've played alongside her film in Cleveland, SXSW, and now Philly. It was also great to run into Josh Sternfeld. We actually got to have an extended conversation during the McDowell party. I wish him much luck on Winter Solstice, his directing debut. I was trying really hard to make the Solstice screening at the fest but didn't wake up in time. I guess that's for the better because now I can watch it in theaters and it will add to his box office numbers. We also got to spend some time with fellow Texan, Kelly Williams of the Austin Film Festival. He was a really cool guy and hung out with me and the fellas for my pre-screening birthday celebration at this really cool bar (the name escapes me.) All I know was they played great music and the nightly special was a can of PBR and a shot of whiskey for $3. Anyway, Kelly and I got to have a long discussion about the world of film in Austin and all the great projects he gets to see via the festival. He actually came up to Nick first because he saw the Deadroom credentials Nick was wearing around his neck. He got to see a screener of the film and really liked it a lot. We briefly hung out with David Walker who directed the doc Macked, Hammered, Slaughtered and Shafted about 1970's blaxploitation cinema. Which I didn't get to see but am very much looking forward to. Probably one of the coolest moments was talking to Miranda July who was incredible humble and seemed so surprised about the great response she's been getting. She was telling me that she's really worried that no one will come see it when it's released in theaters. All I have to say is that if people don't see this film they're goddamn idiots.

The films I watched were:

Me and You and Everyone We Know
The Far Side of the Moon
Evilenko
Off Beat
Cool!
Izo
Lonesome Jim
Music From the Inside Out


Of course, as I've mentioned "Me and You..." was by far my favorite at the fest and will probably be the best thing I see all year. Although Miike's psychotic romp through time with a character hellbent on killing god was quite enjoyable in a whole different way. Unfortunately there were tons of films I wanted to see but couldn't.

As I mentioned, New York was great. I mean how could it not be. However, I'm pretty sure that I could do just fine never living in NYC. I'd definitely love to live on the east coast, I'm just not sure NYC is the place to be. Of course, I won't know until I live there so I'll probably still give it a try. I found East Village to be terribly charming. With MooShoes, and great vegetarian restaurants like Kate's Joint, it seems pretty ideal. Another great restaurant highlight (not in East Village) was Candle 79. We got to meet the owner and chef and they gave some great free appetizers. It was absolutely delicious. Can't wait to go back. The Philly restaurant highlight was definitely Gianna's Grill. While I'm perplexed that they aren't fully vegan it was delicious none-the-less. The vegan Pizza, Philly Cheez Steak, and Cheez Fries was amazing along with their homemade vegan desserts. I ate a lot.

The center piece of NYC was the dinner party. Once again, much thanks to Jessica and Geoffroy for hosting us. They were wonderful to us. Also, thanks to Yen for cooking all day to prepare wonderful food for the party. So, lots of cool people showed up and we had lots of great conversations mainly centering around wine and film although politics crept in a few times. See Yen's blog for the list of wonderful guest and more details, also see David's for other details.

Man this is getting really long and I'm tired of typing it. I've been working on it for the last two days because I keep getting sidetracked. Plus I'm stressing out 'cos I need to prep Vacilador for the Sundance Labs and Yen has a new draft of Ciao I need to read and give feedback plus I have a million emails I need to write and/or respond to. Anyway, deep breath...I really want to make note of all this so I can look back on it in a few years.

So, the screenings: Yen was a little inaccurate in his assessment of the crowd. There were more like 30 people at the first screening. The coolest thing was that every single person stayed after for the Q&A. That's an accomplishment in my book. Second screening didn't have the same retention rate but a lot of people talked to us in the lobby after the screening for about an hour. One guy came to see the film twice. Mad props to Ti West and Graham Reznick who came out from Delaware to represent. We met these guys at SXSW where Ti's awesome film The Roost premiered.

So, yes the trip was great. And now I'm finally going to end this horribly long entry with this great link (thanks to David): http://ifuckedanncoulterintheasshard.blogspot.com/

PS. You have to check out Clayfield's great thoughts on the democratization of film over at Esoteric Rabbit.
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New York is a Ball Darling

So, second day in NYC. It's a damn fine city as everyone knows. It's nice staying with Jessica and Geoffroy. It kind of allows me to see what it might be like living here. I can't wait to live on the east coast however, my heart still beats for Austin and that's where I'll be first. East coast can wait. I've enjoyed eating lots of good Vegan food here in NYC and in Philly. David suggested I start a review site which I'm considering but you know, I'm not really a critic, I'd just talk about how good everything is. Still, it might be interesting. I think The 400 Blows is playing tomorrow at the MOMA so I'm gonna try to catch that. Other than that I get to hang out with Jarred Alterman whom I met at SXSW, I'm also hoping to catch up with Susan Leber at some point. Tonight is the dinner party with the friends we've made through film. Should be fun. I don't want to spend all my time writing in this blog so I'll update more later when I get back.

Good news, my brother Jeff is back.

I sure do miss Amy. She would have a ball in this city. It's a great place for lovers.
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Illadelph

Well it's not officially my birthday anymore but it is still my birthday night so show some fucking respect. I'm in Philly and it's a goddamn fine city. I'm having wonderful time hanging out with Cassie and the crew. Every bar in Philly serves really good beer, none of this bullshit Bud Lite/Miller Lite. People have good taste in beer. Represent.

My only regret is that my sweet beautiful lady friend isn't here with me (for a nice birthday romp.) Other than that it's a damn fine time. So far I've got to hang out with Malcolm McDowell (yes THAT Malcolm McDowell,) and Peter Riegert (of Animal House fame) who is now a director. Tomorrow we get to hang with Steve Buscemi. See, here in Philly instead of huge parties at bars they have really small parties in sponsor's houses so you can actually talk to people. But honestly, none of that means shit 'cos the real cool people to hang out with is David, Yen, and Nick. We're having a rip roaring time with lots o' laughs.

Now it's time to get serious for a second. Last night I saw the most amazing Independent film I've seen since George Washington. It is called "Me and You and Everyone We Know" by Actor/Writer/Director Miranda July. I'm not even gonna try to go into any sort of review. Trust me, it's sheer goddamn genius. And if you don't think it's the best film since George Washington I will fight you.

ghhjkl<--This is an addittion from Yen who is really high and drunk right now. We totally popped his party cherry up in this bitch. REPRESENT! Personally, I've had nothing to drink.
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Bloodshed and the City of Brotherly Love

A hearty congrats and best wishes goes out to Jim McMahon who's feature film Bloodshed is premiering at Dead By Dawn Film Festival in Scotland. This is pretty amazing because DBD is a huge top 10 genre festival and they are slating Bloodshed as one of their major features at the fest. Even cooler is the fact that everyone of their screenings is already sold out. And the fest doesn't even start until the 21st. Jim is heading up there on Monday to do some press and radio interviews. Good luck and godspeed my friend. Jim is a right fine filmmaker as you well know from his brilliant D.P. work on Deadroom (and Mere Acquaintance which none of you have probably seen.) Bloodshed is his feature film debut as a director.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Philly where Deadroom is a recommended feature at the Philadelphia International Film Festivals. If any of you happen to be out that way here's the info on the screening: http://www.phillyfests.com/pff/templates/film_details.cfm?id=3986.

Philly Fest is a big festival that's only getting bigger and more respectable. They actually have a huge emphasis on International Cinema and only accept a handful of American Independents so we're proud and lucky to be in it. Usually they pay for flight and hotel but since there is four of us their only paying for hotel. Which is very nice of them especially considering where we're staying. After Philly is done we go to NYC where we're meeting up with some friends we made at SXSW. Should be fun.
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Don't Worry, It's For Sure

I wake up every morning and open up my Screenwriting program and try. 'Cos no matter how horrible I try to tell myself I am I just can't stop. I absolutely can't. The same thing goes for directing. I will be hustling to get my next project off the ground until the day I die. I have to. There are three certain things in my life: 1) I love my wife, 2) I love my friends, 3) I love filmmaking. Those are constants. The greatest thing about it all is that my wife loves film as much as I do and fully supports me morally and financially in my endeavors and three of my best friends in the world are filmmakers
David pointed out to me that people who don't know me might think I'm in the most dire creative crisis. Trust me, it's not that big of a deal. I just like to use my blog as a diary sometimes. It amuses me to lament so. I don't write any sort of journal besides this. I'd like to be able to look back and see how I was feeling at any given time. Thanks Harry and Yen for your kind words.
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Hangin' In There (Maybe)

Yen's got a great new post up on his blog. He brings up some great points. I've often been tempted to quit myself. As hard-headed and arrogant as I seem to be I'm not immune to the constant rejection and uphill battle of making film. The thought has crossed my mind: How easy it would be to just work at Spiral with Amy. It's fun and rewarding. We're the owners so we don't have to answer to anyone else. It's successful, full of instant gratitude. Actually, more than that I've thought that maybe I should just be a producer. Maybe I'm just not good enough to be a writer/director. I mean my friends are immensely talented and they need someone who can hit the streets and makes some calls. They need to be concentrating on their craft not worrying about producing. Maybe I should just hang it up and do that.

I can turn on myself so easily. And working with hugely talented people like Yen, David and Nick it becomes even easier to put yourself down. These guys are wonderful writers, when I read their stuff I don't even know why I try. And reviews like Clayfield's don't help things any. Although there are a few things in there I have some problems with. For one, his statement "The film looks really good as well, though I think I put this down more to the production design than the DV cinematography" is pretty off base. In a film as intimate as this the production design and cinematography are symbiotic. The production design looks good because of the cinematography and vice-versa. I know for a fact that Jim meticulously designed the lighting based on the color and style Kara designed for each set. As far as the awkward framing, well I'm not sure where thats at but only the directors are to blame for that. I think Jim did a brilliant job with the direction he was given and the time and tools at his disposal. And while I think the thrashing of my segment is a little over the top and the bit about the monologues is way off point, I do agree with him on most points about my segment. It just always sucks to read it in print and it really sucks that of all the reviews we've gotten this has to be the one that's linked to from GreenCine. Therein lies part of the reason I will never review or critique indie films on my blog. I think constructive criticism amongst filmmakers is better left via email. One might ask if I would feel the same way if he had given us a glowing positive review. Well, for the most part he did. The film as a whole comes off looking great. But having read his opinion who's gonna want to give my segment a chance? Negativity tends to permeate the minds of people a lot deeper than positivity. Anyway, that's my theory.

So back to my original point. Of all the things I want to do, I beat myself up the most about writing. But guess what? I wake up every morning and open up my Screenwriting program and try. 'Cos no matter how horrible I try to tell myself I am I just can't stop. I absolutely can't. The same thing goes for directing. I will be hustling to get my next project off the ground until the day I die. I have to. There are three certain things in my life: 1) I love my wife, 2) I love my friends, 3) I love filmmaking. Those are constants. The greatest thing about it all is that my wife loves film as much as I do and fully supports me morally and financially in my endeavors and three of my best friends in the world are filmmakers and no matter what I can always ride on their coattails (that is until they stop returning my phone calls and start avoiding me at parties.)
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Tommy Korn

I've been busy since we got back from The Texas Film Festival. First off I just want to say thanks to Heather and Josh for putting together a great festival and also for the wonderful award bestowed upon us. David and I had a great time down there and met lots of cool folks. Thanks to Lauren, V, Becca, Lauren, and Elisa for being great host. We also got to meet some cool filmmakers so all in all it was a great experience. I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention something but such is the filter of memory. Further reports on the festival, including what we talked about in our brilliant workshop on Artistic Integrity, can be found on David's blog here and here.

Oh yeah, we got a four star review in the local paper there. Speaking of which the DEADROOM website has been updated with a press page linking to all the coverage on the film. Check it here: http://www.deadroommovie.net/reviews.html

I just finished the first draft of a short film based on a short story that David wrote about five years ago. We'll see how subsequent drafts turn out before I get all gung-ho about it.

My brother Jeff lives in Seattle and I miss him. I wish we could get into a damn festival there so I could visit him. I was thinking about how much Mark Wahlberg's character in I Heart Huckabees reminds me of Jeff and it made me laugh really hard. He would totally ride his bike to a fire.
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TX Film Fest: Final Day

I'm not quite sure how it's possible but we won the directors choice award for Best Narrative Feature here at the fest. So, that's pretty cool. More later.
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Tx Film Fest: Day 5

Oh my gawd I have to pee so bad.

Sin City is goddamn awesome and brilliant.

Becca, Elisa, Mike, V, Lauren and Lauren are great host. Much fun tonight. Tomorrow is going to be a crazy closing night.

Watched Popaganda: The Live and Crimes of Ron English. Brilliant of course.
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Texas Film Festival: Day 4

I actually found a computer lab in our hotel so that makes it much easier to check email and update this here blog. I've seen some amazing stuff the last few days. Last night we saw some amazing shorts. My favorites were Wednesday Afternoon mostly for it's stunning cinematography, Consent which is one of the funniest shorts I've seen in a long while, and the animated films The Balloon and Frog. Then came the docs Seoul Train about the horrid N. Korean refugee situation and Monster Road by Brett Ingram. It's about the life and work of claymation mastermind Bruce Bickford. Bickford's work is amazing in the same way Henry Darger's work was. Except, luckily Ingram got a chance to make a doc about him while he was still alive. Ingram did a workshop today about doc filmmaking and it went great. He is a teacher at the University of North Carolina Greensborough, and his professionalism really shined through. He showed clips of some great docs I haven't seen before so I'm gonna have to get a list from him. David and I have had a chance to hang out with him and he's a cool guy, real genuine and friendly. Speaking of hanging out I wanted to give a shout out to our host for the festival Lauren and Elisa. This festival is so cool that they actually assign a team of people to each director(s) to show them around town, give them rides, make sure they get food, etc. It's awesome. We've been hanging out with a whole crew of folks the last couple of nights so we don't have to go back to our boring hotel room (which we should be doing because David and I are supposed to be working on a script.)

Tonight were the Student Acedemy Award winning shorts. All of them were great but my favorite by far was Between Us. The story was great and it was beautifully shot, acted, and directed.

Okay, enough for tonight. We have to get up early (at least according to our current standards) and watch Sin City.

Geez, I miss my Old Lady like crazy.
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Gig 'em

Here I am in a computer lab at Texas A&M University. A&M is home to the Texas Film Festival which is a whole lot of fun so far. All the festival folks are really cool and everyone is generally pleasant. I never really had a real college experience but last night came close going out drinking with Brian Poyser, his special lady friend Becca, and some of the festival folks who I won't name for fear of incriminating them. We went to this place called Dixie Chicken that was a real live get drunk and stumble home kinda college bar. Then we patronized a bar that only serves shots, dozens and dozens of shots. Of course, I didn't get drunk 'cos I don't do that no more. No one really got drunk, we basically just set around like a bunch of film dorks and talked about the usual film dork stuff. I'm meeting cool folks here which is quite a pleasant suprise.

I watched Primer again opening night. I liked it even more this time. I really got to pay attention to other aspects besides the story and I noticed how great of an actor Carruth is. Last night I watched some great shorts and then Dear Pillow again. Same thing with Primer, I got to enjoy the finer points of the acting and filmmaking since I had already watched it for the story. I liked it even more having seen it a second time as well.

Oh yeah, I got to watch Poyser have a blow job.

I sure do miss my special lady friend.
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SXSW 2005

I am currently listening to Extraordinary Machine, the new album from Fiona Apple. It's amazing and beautiful and I'm gonna buy the hell out of it once it's finally released.

Man, SXSW was so much fun. I got to have a week-long slumber party with my best friends, watch a ton of great movies, go to lots of parties, and meet lots of cool people, including a bevy of filmmakers. I gotta tell you, it's very enriching to meet people in the exact same boat as you are. I mean people who really love cinema and want to make great movies for the love of it, not just for a meal ticket in Hollywood. Here's the list of films I saw that I loved or liked:
La Sierra
Occupation: Dreamland
Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
Mott Music
The Ramones and I
Sweet Soul Music
The Puffy Chair
Kissing on the Mouth
Press On
Palindromes
Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
The Boys of Baraka
The Roost
Dos Blokes
Reel Paradise
The Devil and Daniel Johnston

I think that's all of them. There were a few more I saw that I didn't love but were still competent. I didn't even bother with the bigger films (besides Palindrome) and I only saw one film that I hated. I'm not even sure how it got into a festival like SXSW but you know the saying: different strokes different folks. Of course there are a ton of films that I missed but my main goal at the fest wasn't to watch movies, it was to garner some good connections for future projects. I feel pretty confidant about having achieved that. Of course I met a lot of folks who are looking over your shoulder while they talk to you. But I met a few who were genuine and I hope I have a chance to work with them in some capacity in the future.

I suppose you'd like to hear about DEADROOM. Well, most people liked it, a few people loved it, a few hated it, and a few just didn't get it but still found it interesting. I wish more people "loved" it, but don't all artist wish that? There were times when I was so happy and amazed to be at SXSW and there were others where I felt like DEADROOM was the stepchild of the festival, largely overlooked and kind of pushed off to the side. Who am I to complain, we're lucky we got to play a huge festival like that. I'm really happy because the people who got the film, really got it and loved it. I've said this a million times but I knew going into this project that it wasn't going to be for everybody so I'm happy that we are finding an audience, even if it is a minimal one. SXSW is our first fesitval. We'll see how things go down at Texas Film Festival, Ozone Film Festival and Philadelphia International. We played Cleveland international simultaneously with SXSW. Unfortunately we weren't able to make it up there so I'm not sure how well it was received. I do know that our first screening had about 150 people in attendance but that's the extent of my knowledge at this point.

Technically I could say that I partied with Elijah Wood and went bar hopping with Dominic Monaghan, but that would be a half lie. I did attend several parties that Elijah and Dominic were at but I never actually talked to them. I did however, catch Dominic, staring at my Rosebud tattoo, we made eye contact and he nodded his head at me. True story I swear.

Here's some reviews from SXSW:
Moviehole at SXSW: Deadroom delivers
Austin Chronicle SXSW Film Reviews
Ain't It Cool News:SXSW 2005

So next month after the Philly Film Fest will be heading over to New York in hopes of bringing some of the these contacts we made to fruition in the form of meetings and such.
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Fuck Yeah

http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=19627
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SXSW: Day 2 - II

We found Yen. It's a crazy story. In brief: He ran back to his car 'cos he forgot his badge and somehow managed to lock himself in the trunk. Don't ask. We walked back to the garage to see if we could find him and we heard him banging from the inside of the trunk.
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SXSW: Day 2

Our screening was actually quite packed and at least 1/4 of them stayed for the Q&A afterwards. Last night at the opening night party I met Mageina Tovah. Which David and I were totally geeking out about. No one else thought it was that cool but they don't adore Spiderman 2 the way Dave and I do.

So now the big drama is that Yen is missing. That's right. MISSING. We arrived at the parking garage, all four together, and headed downstairs to meet for a Austin Movie Show interview. By the time we got to the street Yen wasn't around. We walked around the building looking for him about 20 minutes. We tried his cellphone several times; nothing. It's been about an hour now and we still don't know what happened or where he is.
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Checking IN:SXSW

Just got my badge and now I'm chilling in the Filmmakers lounge. It's pretty sweet: Free food and drinks and the schwag bag. Contents: Party Passes, a bunch of DVD's, a bunch of magazines, and some other knick knacks. So far I've seen the real Dude, Jeff Dowd. Now I'm talking to Rachel Boynton who Directed Our Brand is Crisis which looks like an awesome documentary about political consultants in Bolivia. Okay, so I'm gonna go do some other stuff. More later.
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Much Better

"In Deadroom, four directors fashion four compelling conversations that further the "living dead" genre by suggesting that in talking to the dead - an unfinished relationship or an unsolved murder - closure may not necessarily be guaranteed as death may not completely free us of humanity. This ensemble cast delivers consistently solid performances and the multiple director effect results in an engaging rhythm that is complicated well by the clean aesthetic and original score." -Gregory Collins, Austin Chronicle
In regards to my last blog Yen had this to say:
negative reviews (whether they're fair or not) are a fact of cinematic life. the first one always stings the most (trust me, i got mine from file thirteen) and our initial response is usually emotionally driven. we didn't make an easy-to-like film, we knew that going in. people still have the right to cut it up, it's just the way things are. on the bright side, this is a campus review after all, and most kids are on fucking spring break, so chances are, people aren't gonna take heed. we're giving it way too much credit by revealing it on our blogs; esp. given the fact that we're linked to our official site. don't need to advertise any hint of bad press yet!
I totally agree with him and if I would have been able to sit down and talk to him about it I probably would have exorcised my demons enough to not write it on my blog. As much as blogs are used for marketing tools I also still believe in using for my personal record of events. So I'm not going to remove it as I was tempted to do just 'cos I want to remember what a baby I was being about it and laugh at myself when I'm releasing my next film that some jack-ass decided to bash.

Anyway, enough about all that business. I'm about to head off to Austin for a week of dreamy film geek fun and nerve-racking filmmaker business. One of the top film festivals in the country is world premiering my film on opening night. Today we record an interview for News 8 Austin. Tomorrow The Austin Movie Show, and Tuesday we go on the KLBJ morning "Dudley and Bob Show." That's all we have lined up so far but you never know who we'll run into. Once the buzz gets going about DEADROOM everyone will want to talk to us.
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It just kinda puts a damper on the whole thing

I wish Orson Welles was still around. I sure could use some advice. I'm trying really hard to convince myself that I'm not doomed to a career of mediocrity. Not that I think I'm a bad filmmaker or that Deadroom is a bad movie. Getting a review like that, two days before the world premier, is not healthy for the film. I'm not worried about the opinion of the reviewer, I could care less that he didn't like the film. But he more than didn't like the film, he said it was poorly made all together, which is a bald face lie. I can deal with not liking the concept and story but the execution is flawless. Anyone who says different is very lacking in their knowledge of film and it's process. Which a reviewer of film should be well versed in. Obviously this one isn't. Even though reviews don't mean a thing to me, they do unfortunately mean a lot to marketing and publicity and when you're a no name group of filmmakers like we are, well there you go. A review like this can stop any momentum dead in it's tracks. So there you have it. This jerk wad decides to exercise some vendetta he has against our little film. At what cost to our SXSW experience? Who knows. People tend to accept negativity faster than praise when they aren't familiar with the subject. Of course I'm probably giving this situation too much credit. Obviously, Matt Dentler and the others in the selection committee thought the film was great or why would they have accepted it amongst the thousands of entries they received. I just hope that people trust SXSW taste more than this reviewer's.

I'll just keep reminding myself that a couple of really cool people, people of note within this industry have had positive things to say. I'll also keep reading this from the Cleveland Film Website:
"To talk to the dead is a very human desire – to say what was never said, to ask a great question, to get the last word in. In DEADROOM, it happens. A stripped-down psychodrama with four storylines, each with its own director, the film slowly pulls the viewer in with each revelation. Each conversation happens in a sterile room with different lighting, each person facing the other across a long table. Kate wants the blessing of her late husband Layton to remarry; Julie confesses her attraction to Trevor, a gay co-worker; Tim interviews Percy, an arrogant author who seems to have written the tragic story of Tim’s family; and a mysterious man urges a woman to remember the events of the day before. The dead are alternately sweet, naïve, bewildered, confident and even honest, while the living are quivering bundles of anxiety, pain and rage. The film relies heavily on the writing and directing, and these folks deliver."
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Rosebud



It's true. As David hinted on his blog the stencil from the most famous sled in the world is now emblazoned upon my skin until it rots away from death. I got the tattoo on my forearm, the same place a sailor would get his anchor. The most famous word ever uttered in film history will now serve as a constant reminder to my eyes that filmmaking will be a part of my life as long that tattoo is and most importantly that it will never be easy. If it does get easy then I can look down and say "Oh yeah, it shouldn't be this easy. I need to stir some shit up. I need to take it out and chop it up." Speaking of which, this rules:
Sarajevo-born film director Emir Kusturica, who won the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985 for When Father Was Away on Business and in 1995 for Underground, has balked at demands by British censors that he cut a two-second scene in his latest film showing a cat pouncing on a dead pigeon. In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper, Kusturica railed, "I am not cutting my film for this jerk. Was he brought up by pigeon or something? ... I just don't get it. The pigeon was already dead, we found it in the road. And no other censor has objected. What is the problem with you English? You killed millions of Indians and Africans, and yet you go nuts about the circumstances of the death of a single Serbian pigeon. I am touched you hold the lives of Serbian birds so dear, but you are crazy. I will never understand how your minds work."
I've been perusing the various musicians attending the SXSW film festival. Mostly I'm trying to find stuff I've never heard of before. Looks like I'm gonna be spending some money on CDs. There's so much great music it's ridiculous. They have acts sectioned off by genre so I started with Singer/Songwriter. Here are my favorites so far. I would love to say I'll be able to see all of them perform but I know it's not gonna happen. I'll just try to make it to what I can.

Jennifer O'Connor: Beautiful lo-fi. I really liked her stuff so I wrote her an email and she actually wrote me back.
Tywanna Jo Bakette:Wonderfully haunting melodies.
Nedelle
Emily Sparks: Very interesting and beautiful, it's hard to describe but I definitely like it a lot.
Dayna Kurtz
Jesca Hoop: With a glowing recommendation from Tom Waits you've got to be good and she definitely delivers.
Jeff Hanson: This guy has got one of the most unique styles I've heard in a good long while.
Jolie Holland

I know there's a lot more on top of this. I'm just gonna keep listening until it's time to head to Austin.

There is an astounding amount of work involved in trying to be your own Producers Rep, Public Relations, and Administrative Assistant for a huge festival like SXSW. I'm a bit overwhelmed by it all. There is such little chance of a small film like ours getting recognition that I feel like we can't leave any stone unturned. Every pertinent person must be emailed and in a fest like this there are a lot of pertinant people. On top of that, it's a guessing game, trying to figure out what is the right thing to say. What will get their attention? Good grief. We made a great, unique, compelling film. Can't that be enough?
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Festivus

How can one family be so beautiful and talented. I just came across Martha Wainwright, Rufus' little sister. Her music is amazing from what I've heard so far. She's as pretty as her brother too. Check it out at http://www.marthawainwright.com/ She'll be playing at SXSW so I'll definitely be checking her out there. I'm looking forward to seeing Aesop Rock and Elvis Costello. I'm sure there's a lot more but the list is maddeningly long.

The full film schedule for SXSW is up along with trailers. DEADROOM showtimes are Friday 3/11/05 10pm, Tuesday 3/15/05 7:45pm, and Thursday 3/17/05 at noon. Come watch it goddamn. You'll be doing yourself a favor.

Our schedule for the Cleveland Film Festival is up. Unfortunately the dates are set precisely at a time where none of will be able to make it out. Tis a shame. I was looking forward to visiting even if it was for one short night. They gave us a great review for the program guide where they had this to say: "The film relies heavily on the writing and directing, and these folks deliver." Read the full review and get our screening times here. Hopefully lots of people will show up and enjoy.

The Texas Film Festival is going to be really cool. It's a small festival but they are truly dedicated to independent film and bringing it to a part of Texas (Brazos Valley) that doesn't ever get exposed to this sort of content. Plus they're paying for all of our expenses. There is no better thing a film fest can do for an Independent filmmaker than pay expenses. Everybody knows we're always broke. PLUS, they are giving David and I free reign over a workshop. We can talk about any film related topic we want. Of course being the film snobs that we are we've decided to discuss Artistic Integrity in Independent Film: Using Independent film as a way to make art instead of a cheap way to get into Hollywood. Also, we're the closing night film for the festival, so that should be really cool. We're playing Saturday 4/02/05 at 5pm. Anybody know where I can find some good Vegan food in the Bryan/College Station area?

EFilmCritic.com did a pre-SXSW interview with us. You can read it online at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1366

The nice folks at Texas Filmmakers are having a special test screening of DEADROOM (on MySpace at http://profiles.myspace.com/users/14812517.) Please come and check it out. They'll be showing the film and doing an extensive Q&A afterwards. It should be fun.

Where: Cool Beans, 1210 W. Hickory St., Denton TX.
When: Wednesday 03-02-05, 8:00pm


Congrats to Jeff Griffin who gives an outstanding performance in Contemporary Theater of Dallas' Far East. He plays the lead role Sparky. The play got a great write up in Dallas Morning News where they had this to say "Mr. Griffin, in his area debut, is particularly impressive – convincingly military, gung ho in a slightly naïve way, but smart as a tack. He makes a better Sparky than the actor who played him in New York."
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Finished

Just got back from David's where we finished the first draft of our new script. It is tentatively titled Sid after the main character. But I'm pretty sure that's gonna change.

Cool happenings the last few days involving Bright Eyes and Spiral Diner. David's already reported on it so check it out here.

We got into another festival: the Texas Film Festival. This ones really cool 'cos it's all expenses paid and we get to be on a panel.

Also, we're doing a special test pre-screening of Deadroom for the Texas Filmmakers Corporation on March 2. More info on that coming soon.

SXSW announced their official line up (view it here or here.) Aside from giving us a fucked up synopsis everything looks really cool.
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"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us."

"Thank you for your registration. This will confirm your FILM registration for South by Southwest 2005...Your badge is your pass to all SXSW Film festival, panels, workshops, trade show, and all other Film activities....Your badge will read:
James Johnston
Deadroom
Fort Worth TX"

Sweet words. I can't wait to take this journey. David and I were talking about how we want to get the most possible out of SXSW. No time for sleeping or anything else. I'm just realizing that Amy and I haven't taken a full-length vacation all by our lonesome since our honeymoon two years ago. We flew into L.A. and then drove from L.A. to San Francisco, staying at hostels along the way. It was relaxing and fun because we didn't have anything to do. This vacation unfortunately, won't really be a vacation. It will be quite busy. Which I can't really complain about. I mean it's gonna be fun, really fun. Just busy too. It would be delightful to take a nice relaxing, non event-filled vacation with my special lady friend though. Either way, it will be pleasant to get away from the stress and non-stop hustling of the Spiral Diner.

I'm quickly becoming obsessed with Altman. We set down and watched MASH on Tuesday. It's just amazing what he does on film. I can't even begin to explain it. I just wish that things could be as good for filmmakers today as it was back in the 70's. How is it that we've gone backwards in terms of censorship and creative freedom in this country?

Writing with David is going great. I'm really happy with the script as far as my vision goes. It's a great framework that will give me a lot to work with. I think David wants to make it a little more than just a skeletion though. He likes scripts to be a work of art within themselves so people can enjoy reading it. I find it impossible to explain on paper what I'm thinking about a scene, of course that's where David comes in and why he's great to write with. I'm sure you've noticed by now that we didn't get to lock ourselves up in New Mexico to finish the script. However, we've done pretty well without that. We're damn near done. We have maybe ten more pages to go.
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Post Sound

We're here at AMS working on the final touches of post-production sound. It's going wonderful. It's amazing what-

Oh wait, here's Nick with a special message: Professionalism is... And that's what I expect.

This is David writing now. The computer I'm writing this on, in a room next to the mixing suite, is a G5 iMac. I'm planning on stealing it. There are enough here to around, that's for sure. We just finished remixing the sound in my first segment, and I can now proudly say that
Deadroom is no longer without a a reference to Star Wars.

Yen here, writing. Something. Uhm. What to say? This is a very nice studio. Some paintings on the wall are enough to fund our next film. Or films. I'm a loser because I went to Austin to see Arcade Fire only to find out that they played in Dallas last night.


So there you have it. News from the front line. Anyway, what I was saying is: it's amazing what a difference sound can make to a scene. We completely reconfigured the score from my final scene and it's made me like it again. Much thanks to Daniel for hooking up new music on a short notice. Also, much props to Brad Dale for coming in on his days off to help us out.
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Vexing Lyrical

Things are getting exciting. We're starting to get official emails from SXSW. Setting up for our official VIP passes to all the cool stuff there. I've got a theory about some big premiers that will be happening. Here's my guess for three of them: The New World, Melinda and Melinda, and Sin City. We'll see if I'm right.

I feel myself moving toward great creative things this year. Maybe it's just living vicariously through David. Whatever works though. I've felt on the verge of something for most of my life. This year I'm feeling more on the verge of that verge than ever before. Maybe I"m just punch-drunk from the SXSW acceptance. But who wouldn't be. I'll be rubbing elbows with Christine Vachon, Harry Knowles, Robert Rodriguez, the Wilson Brothers and more. I don't mean that in a "oh my gosh celebrities way." I mean that in a "once they were just like me" way. I'm willing something good to happen while I'm there.

I thought of a really cool idea for a Ghostcar video. It would be for the song "earthman's overture." I'm fleshing it out with David. More on that when it happens. The script I'm writing with David is moving along nicely. David is such a disciplined writer whereas I feel I'm awful at the screenwriting process. I have so many visions but so few words.
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Spiral News on the March

As I mentioned in my last post, Spiral Diner has been really busy these past couple of weeks. No doubt an increase in media presence has helped us out. We've had five mentions in various publications this past two weeks, two of them major. Check em out if you're interested:

Review from Dallas Morning News.

Chow, Baby names us one of the top 10 restaurants in Fort Worth in her/his year end round up.

We got some very supportive Letters to the Editor over at Star-Telegram. Enough that they turned it into it's own little article in the Opinion section. This was in response to an article S-T ran in the business section on Xmas day called "Soy to the World." It's about how we've remained successful in spite of being in Cowtown. I would link to it but it's already been archived and cost $3 to view. It was a great article with several full color pictures and lots of great info. There were a few misquotes but they were harmless.

Now if we can find out how to generate some press like that for DEADROOM we'd be in great shape.

Now that it's 2005 Top Ten Films list are running rampant. My two trusty cohorts, Yen and David have theirs up if you're curious. As for myself. I can' t bother with making list like that. All my favorite films of the year just run together into a wad of greatness that I have to sort out later with DVD watching and behind-the-scene studying.