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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
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

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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, na├»ve, 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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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.
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?