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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.