Friday, March 31, 2006

Pictures and Video from SXSW

I've been back from Austin for a while, but it took me this long to recover and get back into the blogging mindset. Here are some pictures from the SXSW experience. The Festival remains the pinnacle of greatness and is the high-point of my year so far. I can't say enough about the experience. A week in Austin during SXSW is just good for the soul. I will make it a point to be there every year, whether I have a film playing or not. Please allow me to present a few of my favorite images from the Festival. We did our best to document the experience, and you can find more on the LOL Journal.



If you're doing a Festival DIY style, you need to cram people in. Our friend and fellow filmmaker Justin Johnson (who is almost finished with a documentary about the 12-year-old girl who made the zombie movie) hooked us up with a place to stay. At one point we slept 9 people in this room.



Scoping out the venue. This theatre fits 500 people and I think we got about 350 in there for the World Premiere. Not bad.



Doing the press thing is crucial. Here's the LOL gang doing a station announcement for an Austin public-access show.



I was very honored that Matt Dentler, the director of SXSW, personally introduced LOL. He went out of his way before and during the Festival to promote our film and encourage people to see it. I owe Matt big time, and hopefully some day I can pay him back for all the kindness he has shown me.

For a video recap of the trip, check out Kevin Bewersdorf's Podcast from SXSW, which just went up tonight!

If you live in Philadelphia, come see us next weekend! All of us will be there for both screenings of the film. April 7 and 9 at the Cinema at PENN.

Part Three of Three (interview/review)

Part three of Lance Mannion's review/interview series on my film has been posted. Here's the link:

The Proper Care and Filming of an American Messiah.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cinematography Merit Badges

Tonight, Jim and I spent an hour and a half explaining the 180 Degree Rule, pans, tilts, storyboards, dolly grips and so much more to a Boy Scout Troop. My friend Jon who manages all of the Austin Zen's (yes, I've befriended many Zen employees) asked us to help the boys with their Cinematography Merit Badge. We had fun watching them put together a scene and learn to use cameras. Jon said the only other merit badge that they had this much fun with was the plumbing merit badge.

I also found this Italian blog talking about jumping off bridges. I wish I knew what it said. All I know is that there's a great track of Sufjan Stevens doing a solo version of For the Windows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti. No back up vocals.

my chicago friends, go see my film

a side note, "my break ups into a million pieces" plays at the Chicago Asian American Film Festival on Mon. April 3rd at 6PM at the Gene Siskel Theater. I will not be there, as i spent all my money at the San Francisco screening last week. on another side note, the SFIAAFF screening went very well with a very nice and supportive packed house, and quite frankly, a simple and smooth Q A in which i did not try to upstage anyone on purpose. look at me mom, i'm all grown up.
Oh, a side note, if you are in or near Chicago, try to make it to the screening, and if you like it, you can pretend to be me. and if you hate it, well, you can curse my name to hell, and say that if his short film is any indication of his filmmaking talent, then that concludes that "whale" will be just as or more terrible and worthless, but goddamn that poor child for trying. goddamn him..

Links to the 1st 9 Indie Features 06 films

Site visitor Josh Boelter suggested about a week ago that I add links to all the IF06 films to the top of the front page. So yesterday I went through most of the February blog entries and collected the links for the first movies to participate in this blog. At present there are 18 bloggers representing 15 films, I think (will make sure later today), at this blog. Here are the URLs & links to the 1st 9 of those films. The rest I will collect & post later today or tomorrow morning. All the links will also be added to the LINKS column on the right side of the front page this week.

1. Date Number One: http://www.wilddiner.com/index.htm
2. Deadroom: http://www.deadroommovie.com/
3. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah: http://theoreticalentertainment.com/american_messiah/
4. Kicking Bird: http://www.angryfilmmaker.com/kickingbird.htm
5. September 12th: http://www.september12th.com/
6. Elizabeth Gunness: http://www.elizabethgunness.net/
7. Killing Down: http://www.killingdown.com/
8. LOL: http://www.lolthemovie.com/
9. Whale: http://www.whalefilm.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hello from New Hampshire

Many thanks to Sujewa for extending the generous invitation to contribute to this blog! I've spend the past few days reading it from back to front and, wow! what a great bunch of people!

My name is Deborah Scranton, I'm a filmmaker/director from New Hampshire and my first feature length doc THE WAR TAPES , just got accepted into Tribeca in international doc feature competition. (fingers crossed)

The internet made this participatory film possible. This is the opening post on our film blog/website which seems like it would work as a good introduction here as well:

Welcome to TWT

Here goes…

I’m a film director, single mom, former competitive ski racer, New England farm girl, semiotics major, classics minor, military history neophyte, and -- as of today -- blogger.

February 12, 2004, I got an offer from the New Hampshire National Guard to embed as a filmmaker. I called the public affairs officer and asked if I could give cameras to the soldiers instead? He said yes…but it would be up to me to get soldiers to volunteer to work with the project.

Less than two weeks later I was on plane down to Fort Dix, NJ. I stepped out in front of those 180 men and told them of my vision. I was met with a hailstorm of questions.

Are you for the war,
Are you against the war,
What are your politics,
How are you going to take and twist our words,
What do you want us to film,
Why should we believe you….

At the heart of their questions was - why should we trust you with our experiences? My reply was, we would do this together. We would tell the story, their story, wherever it took us, no matter what.
Directed through near perpetual IM and email. The soldiers would quicktime clips to me from ambushes and self interviews, and we would talk about how best to tell the story, THEIR story. Tapes would take approximately two weeks to get from Iraq to me. Pretty amazing process. Five soldiers filmed their entire year’s deployment with several one-chip high end Sony video cameras. The mounted tripods on gun turrets, inside dashboards and with the POV mounts on their kevlar. They filmed all of the footage in Iraq, over 800 hours of tape. They became cameramen and journalists. We did it together. For more info please check out our website www.thewartapes.com. We have five clips up now as well.

The web is a critical partner in our evolving narrative now, as we continue to tell the story, just exactly as Sean Coon noted in a recent post as "a foundation of knowledge; an element that can be built upon with new elements of video, images and text to create an even broader and more reputable narrative thesis.” I really believe that this new model of ‘living’ narrative constructed from a center narrative will reverberate much longer and farther, like the ripples in water displaced by a single stone. At least, that’s my hope. *smile*

So the countdown towards my very first festival begins... who else is going?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

3 DIY film events for April-May (early notice): Baker & films in DC, Ekanayake & "Date Number One" in Seattle, Lowery & "Deadroom" in DC

3 D.I.Y. film events for April-May (early notice): Baker & films in DC April 19 & 20, Ekanayake & "Date Number One" in Seattle May 19-21, Lowery & "Deadroom", "Some Analog Lines" in DC May 25.

(this is a re-post of items from indieLOOP DIY Film Group earlier today)

:: Baker & films in DC area, April 19 (sound tech class), April 20 (screening)

Kelley Baker will teach a sound design for indies class on Wed 4/19 @ Kensington Row Bookshop (home of Capital City Microcinema) in Kensington, MD. There is a fee, will announce it by Mon 3/27. Baker was the sound designer on several films by Gus Van Sant.

Angry Filmmaker Kelley Baker at Capital City Microcinema, Kensington, MD on Thu April 20. Baker will play one of his features and several of his short films, introduce the work & discuss/do a question & answer session afterwards. $5. More info. on this event coming by Mon 3/27.

Screening venues interested in booking Baker & or his films can contact him here.
Bloggers & other media interested in talking about Baker & or reviewing his films can contact him here.

:: Ekanayake & "Date Number One" in Seattle, May 19 - 21

DC based Filmmaker Sujewa Ekanayake will appear at Seattle's Northwest Film Forum from May 19 until May 21 to play his new feature "Date Number One" and discuss the work. Tickets: $8 general, $5 NWFF member, $6 children & senior. More information on this event will be available by early April. Visit the "Date Number One" website for info. on the film.

Screening venues interested in booking "Date Number One" can contact Sujewa Ekanayake here.
Bloggers & other media interested in talking about & or reviewing "Date Number One" can contact Sujewa Ekanayake here.
note: Date Number One screener DVDs available starting 1st week of April

:: Lowery & "Deadroom", "Some Analog Lines" in DC area, May 25

Texas based filmmaker, blogger & former Dallas film reviewer David Lowery is tentatively scheduled to appear at Capital City Microcinema in Kensington, MD on May 25 and play his most recent feature "Deadroom", short "Some Analog Lines" and discuss his work. $5. More information on this event will be available on Mon 3/27.

Screening venues interested in booking "Deadroom", "Some Analog Lines" can contact David Lowery here.
Bloggers & other media interested in talking about & or reviewing "Deadroom", "Some Analog Lines" can contact Lowery here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We're Not Alone!

I am as much a proponent of D.I.Y. and truly independent films as anyone. After all, on my feature-length doc, Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land, I served as Producer, Director, Camera, Publicist, Masochist, etc...but this blog is such a great reminder that we are *not* truly independent and we are certainly not alone. We have a whole network of other folks that we depend on to remind us of that fact.

So, thanks, Sujewa, for inviting me to be a part of this and reminding me that there are a lot of us out there going through very similar things in this messy-exciting-confusing world of indie film distribution. I especially need this vote of confidence from my colleagues right now, as I am embarking on probably what will be the biggest adventure for Jericho's Echo yet.

Let me step back to give y'all a little project history. For those of you who don't know, Jericho's Echo unofficially premiered in San Francisco just about a year ago before its official premiere at DocAviv (the Tel Aviv International Documentary Festival). The ensuing year has been a wild ride filled with festivals, two self-booked US theatrical tours, and putting together a DVD which will be released to retail through an independent music distributor in August. All of this junk (including production of the film) has been documented in my blog, if you want to learn the nitty gritty.

I will write future posts here giving tips and pitfalls of these experiences, since it seems many of you are at the beginning of that road now. In the meantime, what other big adventure could I possibly have in store? Well, I am leaving this week for a two-week tour of Germany with the film. It is 14 screenings in 14 cities in 14 days. and that's not even the scary part! To be honest, I just have absolutely no idea what to expect, bringing a film with lots of Jewish content to a place where a very small number of Jews live, for a very big reason.

So, wish me luck and feel free to follow the adventures. I don't know what web access will be like but I'll try my darndest. If you know people across the pond, please send them my tour dates. And thanks again for being out there and doing what you're doing.

Your friend in filmmaking,
Liz Nord

Drinking the Indie Features 06 Kool-Aid

Sujewa invited me to join the Indie Features 06 blog, and while I'm less a filmmaker than someone who writes passionately about indie and DIY film, I've decided to take him up on his offer.

For readers who don't know my main blog, the chutry experiment, feel free to stop by. I currently teach film and media studies at Catholic University in Washington, DC and came to know Sujewa through blogging and ultimately IRL at a screening of Caveh Zahedi's I am a Sex Addict.

My goal in participating here is to bring a slightly different perspective to indie based more on my interests in indie and documentary as an academic.

Monday, March 20, 2006

what have we learned from this sweet lonely monster DIY

This is in response to Caveh Zahedi's recent blog article on DIY titled "Apologia Pro Vita Sua..Please read his original entry as i dont want to paraphrase..
http://blogs.indiewire.com/caveh/archive/007520.html

"while i agree with your assement Caveh (in parts), we must not forgot our own subjective stance, as fed by our realities. your manifesto is an example of that, and how our positions for exceptance carry many many ways. If for example, we do not have a distributor(or we dont want one, hard to believe?) , we must proceed and we must validate its idealistic postition as you did in that article, as i've done for my own work. but when we have a distributor, we have to balance the joys of people having access to the work, but the fact that in many ways its not yours anymore, and should film ever be anyway(this is a seperate arguement)? but lets not forget the efforts of many people who have chosen, whether through ideals, drive, lack of talent, too much esoteric talent, who have chosen DIY as a model, the same model that media makers have chosen in the Indie Rock Scene, in the Punk Rock music scenes, all forms of art, publishing(this is an example of that) and of course, film. I think that DIY does not mean doing it all yourself, but more of a way to press forward, to establish a community of artist and ideals, the ultimate freedom if it can ever exist(which i think now, is a noble ideal maybe to difficult to attain). How do you take rejections from distributors, festivals, from systems, from people, when you still truly believe in what you do. Can we all assume that if it were good enough, it would get recognized. Well history is riddled with the opposite. I say DIY is not a myth, maybe not the best strategy, maybe extremely taxing and indeed alienating in film, but nothing could be more than human. To push an image farther then someone allows it, with your bare will. Time will tell if it ever has a chance in MovieMaking, i believe it might for some, but time will tell".

Some Indie Features 06 Luv from Professor Chuck Tryon

Catholic U (DC) film professor Chuck Tryon opens his blog entry on indieWIRE's new social networking project indieLOOP by giving some luv to our little-but-growing group blog:

" I've really enjoyed watching the apparently tireless Sujewa's Indie Features 06 blog grow over the last few weeks, and I hope the blog loses the "06" and continues to grow over the long haul. I discovered the blog through Sujewa, of course, but several filmmakers I know, whether through blogging, IRL, or through their films, are contributing, and it's nice to see that film community evolve (and it even makes me wish I had a movie to promote).

I've also enjoyed discovering new films and filmmakers through the blog, including Joe Swanberg's LOL-The Movie, which looks like a fun movie (and in classic indie form, LOL not only has a blog but a MySpace page, too (and Karina's review of the film also sounds promising). I'm also curious to see Kat Candler and Stacie Storie's Jumping Off Bridges, which has been getting some good buzz recently after a SXSW screening."

Read the rest of the entry here.

Thanks for the appreciation Chuck! You are invited to come write about, promote relevant projects here anytime. Check your e-mail for the official/access enabling invitation, to be used if/when u see fit.

And any IF06ers who have not checked out LOOP yet, do it the first chance you get. I think it will become an extremely useful indie filmmaking & distribution (& partying of course, being a social network after all :) tool here in the US.

Here's my LOOP page. Come by & say hi if u join.

Sujewa
*******

Another Review of September 12th


On the eve of our Pioneer screening, September 12th has received a great review from Ray Young at Flickhead.com. Ray calls the film "wise, understanding, honest, and compassionate." Check out the full review here.

And anyone in the NY area, we hope you can make it to the Pioneer tomorrow at 6:30pm! More info here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Inspiration

I just returned from SXSW, and wanted to make a quick post congratulating fellow posters Joe, Kat and Stacy on their premieres at the festial this past week. To everyone who wasn't there, look forward to LOL and jumping off bridges.

You guys (and your films) have inspired me to work harder at getting something in the festival again next year.

and i survived the desert like you were there with me, smiling and such

So here was the plan. we needed to shoot in Vegas about three weeks from last Thursay. With a location secure about 75 miles outside of Vegas in the middle of nowhere, well, in the middle of the desert, and some local shots in the city, things were all good, given me ample time to reflect on my current situation, you know, with all the good and bad things circling my cranium at most hours of the day. And, oh yah, lets do a little more preparing for three weeks from now. Well, guess what, my camera operator forgot to mention that he needs to be in Hawaii three weeks from Thurdsay, my other actor forgot to mention that she has work three weeks from Thurdsay, and my location manager happened to mention that i don't have a fuckin location manager, and that my location has fallen through the conceptual days of Ed Ruscha's prints, in search of something more easy, you know, something that looks more colorful, impressonistic and less minimal. after all, "lo-fi" is for losers right? So, with all this good news, i made up my mind with even better news. Grabed a trusty friend, snatched my actor with some choice words, and a friendly threat, threw all the gear into a truck and of we were to Las Vegas at 6PM, in need of 2 1/8 pages of script, luckly with minimal dialogue. So, i drove, since my assitant has a DUI and cannot drive for a year no less "a good lesson best learned before the affliction" and by 10:30pm we were at our first location, one that was not secured, one that needed to be stolen. It was stolen rather nicely, since no one on earth was there at the time. Good, one down, it is now time for Las Vegas. For anyone with any bit of sanity, do not shoot in Las Vegas without permits. We did, and i want to preface that this is not guerilla, this is essentially what this film is, in character, and although i would like to have had more security like three weeks from last Thursday, the beast has to keep moving, has to feel vibrant and essential. This was an essential voyage, one in that i came closer to living the material(losing one's self with another, bartering if i may) in the film more succintly then with anything else i have ever done in the mediums of art. We were essentially a moving essay, characters lost in the midst of our own creation, our own drama. All in all, we finished shooting at 9am, and i drove home, looking at the wonderful desert and pondering its evolution. "damn it feels good to be a gangsta" if only for a nights day..."whale" continues friends, with a reckless rational...

Friday, March 17, 2006

AMERICAN MESSIAH: part 2 of latest review/interview

Continuing from my previous post, Lance Mannion posted part 2 of his three-part series on my film, The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah.

Maybe it's just my ego (loving that someone is talking about my film), but I'm really enjoying Lance's take on it, especially how the depth he's going into to consider the film and its meaning. One of the benefits of having bloggers write about the film, I suppose, is that they're not limited to a certain wordcount for publication.

Chuck Tryon, over at the chutry experiment, who wrote our first review, published a follow-up in response to Lance's review.

SEPTEMBER 12TH: More reviews and the Pioneer coming up!

We have received some more review for SEPTEMBER 12TH. Most recently, Daniel Stasiewski on his blog, The Film Chair

"The day to night to dawn cinematography is striking. It's not just impressive because of the metaphoric narrative guide. It’s more impressive because I have never seen lighting and photography used so well in digital filmmaking. John Touhey and his crew successfully create a psychological journey, from the bright, surreal light to the noirish, revelatory dark that works because the digital medium is intimately combined with Iacovino’s harrowing lead performance....September 12th gains its place alongside the subgenre of New York films as a dramatic ode to those lost." ***1/2

We are also getting ready for our screening at Two Boots Pioneer Theater in New York on Tuesday, March 21 at 6:30PM. It would be great to meet any Indie Features 06 bloggers in and around New York who can come to the screening. There will be a pizza and beer party afterwards.

The Pioneer is at 155 E. 3rd St b/w Aves A & B. Tickets are available here.

Lou Giovino

"Truly Indie" Distribution

I'm following up on Sujewa's recent post concerning his self-distribution road ahead and his desire to play theatrical venues. It sounds like he has a game plan, but others out there may need a little help (and he might be interested too, who knows?). :)

If you haven't heard of it - "Truly Indie" is pretty cool idea from fellow Texans (had to get that plug in) Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban. They of course have created a very nice situation for themselves with producing and financing movies under 2929 Entertainment; distributing movies via Magnolia Pictures (and they now have created a DVD distribution arm); distributing movies in HD on HDNet; and they own the Landmark Theater chain. This is where Truly Indie really comes in.

What is Truly Indie? From their website...

Our mission is to find quality films that have been overlooked and get them seen.

Truly Indie provides independent filmmakers direct access to all the services of a professional theatrical release. We deliver everything your film needs, from access to the right theaters in all major markets, to custom crafting the marketing, publicity and advertising campaigns.

Truly Indie is your way around the traditional distribution system.

We help you act as your own distributor. You choose the theaters. You control the advertising. You control your future.

Check out their website for more details and see some of the first films to try this model. One of them is the Indpendent Spirit Award winning film "Cavite" (which I'd like to see - it was shot on mini DV in 24p on the Panasonic DVX100).

Keep in mind with this YOU are the distributor, so that means YOU have to come up with the cash to pay for advertising, publicity, etc. Truly Indie gives you the support, expertise and ultimately the venues to show your film.

It's definitely an interesting alternative to traditional "four walling". You're still paying for it, but you don't have to carry a projector and DVDs (or your only film print) around in your car and show the movie in some back alley in downtown Omaha. Although, that can pretty be fun too.

-Blake

Thursday, March 16, 2006

the Second Screening

We had our second and final SXSW screening today, at the Paramount. It was exciting when Kat and I rounded the corner of congress to see in the marquee, jumping off bridges. A moment of just...damn, it's real!
Less than a year ago we were still scrambling for money, film stock, people, and were planning a trip to NYC to see about convincing Michael Emerson to be in the film. Amazing what can happen in almost a year.

Today was a day of gratitude.
To Kat for writing a great story, to our crew and cast for bringing it to life, to our investors, to the people who brought food to the set and encouraged us and kept us going. I'm grateful to have been a part of that and to keep it going. I'm also grateful that I inherited some of my grandpa's hard headed nature, that tendency to go forward when any sensible person wouldn't has always served me well.

After the screening we all gathered at the Driskoll, then headed out to eat dinner with our friends from the Rough Cut Lab, Alan and Eunee. Then we watched their film, Inner Circle Line. I was exhausted, still, the film was a treat, visually stunning and full of soul and heart.

A good day all around.

A near sell out on a Thursday afternoon at the Paramount. A wonderful review in the Chronicle. A nice way to end our week at SXSW.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

2 links to pursue re: getting cheap UPC labels for DVDs

I will be duplicating & packaging Date Number One DVDs myself & will be getting them ready for retail sale (w/ someone like Disc Makers in mind as a potential back up solution in case doing it myself does not work out too well), and one of the things I will need is a UPC bar code/label for my DVDs. Fellow filmmaker & Indie Features 06 blogger Amir Motlagh called me last night & told me about needing cheap UPC labels for his DVDs (normally it would cost $700-$800 I think for 100 unique labels/for 100 items, directly from the UPC issuing authority, check link 1 below for more on that) so I did some quick research. Here are two perhaps useful finds:

1. From Kevin Kelly's "Cool Tool: How to sell your Book, CD, or DVD on Amazon" page :

" For DVDs: The official way to get a UPC is to become a member of the UCC (Uniform Code Council). You register online as a company here, and they issue you a company number which then becomes part of your UPC codes. The minimum membership fee is $750 for a block of 100 codes, plus an annual renewal of $150. This is obviously unacceptable for most self-publishers, so there is a gray market alternative. You can buy a UPC code from a reseller. Subdivisions caters to small-time entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and musicians. You can purchase a UPC for $35 (after a one-time $75 registration fee). "

Read the rest of the info. here.

2. The Subdivisions page w/ info. on $75 registration + $35 for 1 UPC label is here.

I am assuming that there is no limit to the number of copies of one item (like, 2000 DVDs of Date Number One) for which one UPC label can be used. If I find out otherwise, I'll let ya know.

If anyone out there has more tips on solving the "getting cheap UPC labels" problem, do share.

Thanks.

Sujewa
*******

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Wake Up Screening

This new book caught my eye... for all of us filmmakers out there who finally get their film made, then need help on what to do next (i.e. find distribution).

From Amazon's description:

The explosion of independent cinema over the past fifteen years has created thousands of would-be filmmakers, all dreaming of becoming the next Quentin Tarantino or Steven Soderbergh—and all working away like beavers, making thousands of independent films. But what do they do once the movie is made?

In I Wake Up Screening, powerhouse authors John Anderson and Laura Kim tell emerging filmmakers how to (and how not to) get their movies talked about, written about, sold, and seen.

The authors’ advice is supported by insightful interviews with more than sixty top industry insiders, all offering priceless behind-the-scenes tips and tricks. Making a film isn’t the end anymore—it’s only the beginning. I Wake Up Screening can make the difference between a movie that gets into theaters and one that ends up on the floor of the director’s bedroom closet.

About the authors:

John Anderson, chief film critic at Newsday, is a past member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival as well as a member and two-time past chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, a member of the National Society of Film Critics, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Laura Kim is the executive vice president of marketing and publicity for Warner Independent Films. Previously the senior vice president for the publicity firm mPRm, she has worked on such films as American Splendor, Dirty Pretty Things, The Pianist, Being John Malkovich, March of the Penguins, and Good Night and Good Luck.

You can pre-order it on Amazon.com or I also found it slightly cheaper on OverStock.com.

I obviously haven't read it or seen a review (saw just a quick mention in the Hollywood Reporter), but it sounds pretty interesting. I actually just pre-ordered a copy for myself.

-Blake

Falling asleep at the day job

The four or five hours of sleep I've been getting every night since last Friday finally caught up with me. I'm back at my day job nodding off at my desk. Sitting still makes my eyelids very, very heavy. Last night I made the mistake of going to the Austin Chronicle Party instead of going to sleep. I looked for my people ... the Zellners, Heather Courtney, Bryan and Jake, but nothing. So I ate more appetizers, drank more Diet Coke and got stupid silly with Stacy, Tracy and Leslie. Tonight it's the Awards Ceremony, I think. I was hoping I might steal a nap beforehand, but I don't think that's gonna happen.

We're anxiously awaiting reviews. I've been on pins and needles. This is the part of the process that makes my belly ache. Well, shit, actually the whole process makes my belly ache.

A few of the bands/musicians from the film will be in town to play for SXSW ... Jose Gonzalez, Bosque Brown and Jeff Hanson. My music supervisor, Daniel Gill gets here tomorrow. Usually it's the music part of SXSW that draws all of my friends to Austin. I'm excited to show them the movie. No more tears on Thursday. I might be too tired to cry this time around.

We get to hang out with Alan and Eunhee from Inner Circle Line Thursday night. We met at the IFP Rough Cuts Lab last September and have been swapping stories, advice, experiences with each other ever since. I can't wait to see their film. I hear it's pretty wonderful.

Indie Film Press on Blogs

Check out American Messiah's latest press, on Lance Mannion's blog: Messiah on the Doorstep.

It's part one in a three-part interview/series. He'll be posting more tonight and tomorrow.

Leave comments there and here (I'd love to hear responses). I'm interested, too, in what people think about how blog-based P.R. works for indie films.

(Cross-posted on my blog).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Today's Recap

We met with Michelle Byrd today from the IFP. We love her. She's so kind and sweet. One of those people that instantly puts you at ease. We also met with Jannat from Alpha Cine and recapped and caught up with her. Was able to check out GRETCHEN and THE CASSIDY KIDS at the Paramount. TCK had a line wrapped around the Paramount. It was nuts. I'm so proud. Oh yeah, and did a quick interview for the Film Festival Channel. I like that Mocha Jean Herrup a lot.

Selling out

WE SOLD OUT!!! We turned away over 300 people at the door. It was absolutely nuts. And on top of that, people really liked it. We got so much wonderful feedback. I'm sort of on cloud nine right now. I'm so proud, so proud of everyone!

We continue with some more interviews, meetings and movie watching today and tomorrow.

It looks like I'll be playing my hometown of Jacksonville for the festival there. All of my hometown peeps will get a chance to see it. At the top of my list, Jeff Grove, my drama teacher who always pushed me when I sometimes wanted to sit still. It's always the drama teacher isn't it?

Garrett leaves today. I've been in heaven having Gena and Garrett be a part of all this. I got home at 2am last night emotionally and physically drained. But it was all worth it. Every bit.

We have another screening on Thursday, March 16th, 1:30pm at the Statesman. So if you're in Austin, tell everyone you know. It's a huge theater and we need to sell out again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

what we want from SXSW

In all the rush of prints and masters and posters and parties and trying to find time to feed the dogs and keep the lights on at home...

I like to have a clear goal and I like the number three. With that said, here are our goals for SXSW:
  1. Have a great premiere for jumping off bridges - increase our "pedigree" (that's a word all the industry folks seem to love). We'll get reviews, good ones I hope, publicity, and word of mouth and some notice.
  2. Get some meetings with distributors and work a deal with them.
  3. Get some meetings with production companies who work with indies (we have a list) and pitch them our next project.
We've worked hard to make all three things happen. Now, we just have to keep things in motion, show up and smile a lot. I know we're ready...wish us luck!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

not enough time, ever, ever so tired

so, good news on the short front. "my break ups into a million pieces" has been invited to play at the Chicago Asian American Film Fest in April, then to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Fest(VC Film Fest) in May after its March (US) priemere at SFIAAFF. what does this all mean? I have now found a discrepancy in the film fest world which might ultimately relate to the indie film world as well. now, my last two films, both of which have been docs have had asians as lead subjects. i myself am not asian but as the tracking record goes for these last two works, asian american festivals are program friendly whereas the other fests are not. however, my white lead and iranian american voiced, fiction film "Still Lover" which preimered at DanceswithFilms played at those same fests where the new work is not. i am not discussing "Pumkin Little" as that was never a work for mass audience appeal, but in my estimation, "Still Lover" is as audience friendly, or better yet, accesseble as is "my break ups". One played at the regular fest, the other at asian fests. i find it hard to believe that "my break ups" is only interesting to Asian American's, or that the subject matter is specific to a group of people. it simply is about a young indie rocker moving to the US after her famous painter father dies. yes she is asian, and she talks about her experiences in the US, but, it is pretty fuckin universal if i so indulge in using that lame saying. sorry, thats the last of that. now,if festivals are neglecting to really view the US we all live in, that might be a very big problem. for some of us, its mainstream or indie (only financially speaking because i have no agenda), and for others its, mainstream or indie or indie with ethnic....and you know what, lets stop with this joke shit, and start viewing ourselfs human first and last. i had never really thought about this before, but with all the invites on one side, and rejections from the other, an ill lit light bulb ignitied. i wish it just burns out quickly. oh, and whale is moving ever so so so so something. i will be done before i die.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I might throw up.

Last night I had trouble sleeping. I was thinking about the premiere. The nerves are really setting in. I'm distracting myself as much as possible so I don't think about it too much. Or all of the people who are coming to see it ... my parents, distributors, long lost friends from far away, critics ... There's nothing I can do at this point. I love what we've put on the screen and I'm really proud of it. And if people like it, wonderful, if not ... I'll shrug my shoulders.

I finished the latest draft of Brain Brawl this morning. I sent it over to Stacy to read before I make any last minute changes. I want to send it to a few people who are making their way to Austin for the festival. A little plane reading material, if you will. Every time I dig into that script, I get giddy. I'm anxious to get some momentum behind it. It'll be a nice departure for me and a fun little ride from my usual sad, depressing fare.

Tonight the girls are vegging out. Stacy, Tracy, Leslie and I are kicking back, watching LOST and PROJECT RUNWAY. I need a good solid night of rest and relaxation before the hurricane gets underway. I missed last week's episode of LOST where Michael sort of alludes to not having told the truth ... go figure. Of course he's an "Other", people! He always plays bad, creepy, scary, psycho guys. If I'm wrong about this ... I won't be.

Joe O'Connell had a great article on the Austin Film Scene in yesterday's San Antonio Express News.

Monday, March 06, 2006

possible postcard solution: modernpostcards.com

Roy at the Tea Room here in Kensington, MD makes & sells a bunch of his own postcards. He told me he gets them done from modernpostcards.com, and that he gets 500 post cards for $125, and that they have a 5 day turn-around on jobs. Could be very useful for promoting
Date Number One. Will have to check 'em out this month.

If anyone has any recommendations on the following stuff, I'd love to hear about it:

- no budget/low budget D.I.Y. filmmaker friendly:

* graphic design programs
* sources for getting movie posters made
* great DVD & CD duplication deals/sources
* places to buy DVD boxes in bulk (i want to get some boxes w/ different colors, not just the basic black seen everywhere)
* shrink wrapping stuff (do i even need to do this for my DVDs?, will have to look into it)
* sources for stickers

Thanks!

Sujewa
*******

Halloween: The Comedy Remix

Film Threat recently featured this Halloween parody trailer I cut.

What if Michael Myers was really a shy comic genius who had trouble expressing himself?

Halloween: The Comedy Remix

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Trip to NYC

I spent the last four days in NYC. I met with producer's reps., distributors, casting agents and several people that are deep in the NY indie scene. This is one thing that producer's must do: walk that line between getting information, giving information and keeping the buzz at just the right level. While you're doing that, you're drinking coffee or eating, because, after all, you're in NYC.(I actually had a pistachio cream donut for breakfast on Wednesday!)

The meetings were good, great even.

jumping off bridges has pushed me into several roles I didn't think I was quite ready for, at least not all at once: producer/production mgr./line producer/post production and producer again. Our film is on the verge of finding it's place and all the work Kat and I (and our kick ass crew) put in over the past year will help make that happen.

It was good to come back from NYC and settle in to the growing list of work items we have to complete in the coming week. It's daunting, but then again, so was making a feature film on a tiny budget, and, of course, the marathon was a bit daunting at the beginning.

Please, no snow.

Stacy and Tracy come home today! I'm so excited. I feel like I'm missing an arm or leg when Stacy's not around. I'm crossing my fingers that they're flight doesn't get cancelled because of weather. There was mention of it. Please god, don't let it snow today.

Our indieWIRE piece came out today. You can check it out here.

I spent several hours last night at the Super 8 Motel on 12th and I-35 for The Austin Chronicle interview. It sounds kind of weird. Heather Courtney, Bryan and Jake, Paul Gordon, Korey Coleman, Steve Collins and Spencer Parsons. The photo shoot was kind of surreal. I'm curious how it'll translate. The night continued with plenty of beer, wine and a tape recorder. Spencer probed us with questions about the state of independent filmmaking in Austin. I became blurry eyed after about 9pm and not sure if I was making much sense. Everyone else was pretty saucy. Lots of sweet laughter through much of the night. It is pretty amazing ... the Austin representation at SXSW, I mean.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Starting from the ground up. Again.

In response to my last post, in which I cast some doubt on the release of my collaborative feature film Deadroom, Sujewa suggested that I follow Andrew Bujalski's example and sell DVD-R screeners through our website.

This is a tempting option, but at this point, there's a big difference between Bujalski's film and our own: demand. Mutual Appreciation has received enough acclaim that (compounded with the success of its predecessor, Funny Ha Ha) there are a significant number of fans and fans-in-the-making willing to buy the film sight unseen - and then buy it again when it gets its official release. I'm certainly one of them. I jumped for joy when Bujalski made the film available on his website. I didn't even mind when the disc wouldn't work in any of my DVD players, and I had to rip a disk image on my Mac and use the Apple DVD player to watch it. I really, really wanted to see the film.

My co-directors and I don't have that luxury. There was a time last year when we should have made a no-frills copy of Deadroom available, but that moment has passed, and I'd wager that if we did so now, we'd sell five, ten, maybe twenty copies. The film will no longer sell itself; we have to sell it. And we're going to need more than a DVD-R in a jewel case to do that.

We actually have at least two screenings of the film coming up in the near future (one organized by our very own Sujewa), and I hope that we can have DVDs available at them; and hopefully, they'll be of an official sort, with commentary tracks and extra features and attractive packaging (but that depends on if we can afford to have them pressed, and if I can find time to edit the behind-the-scenes documentary and other extra features). We'll be starting from the ground up again, and seeing how far we can get.

And if it doesn't get anywhere, you know, that's okay. We had a great experience with the film, and we learned a lot; at this point, if anything happens with it, it'll sorta be icing on the cake. I don't think too much about it these days (although I probably should) because I'm far more excited about focusing my attention on my new film, which is currently in post-production and will definitely be available this year - before, during and after any screenings it might recieve.

But more on that later (unless you tune into my own blog, where I talk about it quite frequently). In the meantime, I'm finding inspiration from posts like the one Joe made below, and Brian Newman's wonderful article over at Springboard Media. These are exciting times to be making and distributing films; mistakes will be made, sure, but you know what? I'm looking forward to making more of them, because they mean that I'm getting my film out there. There's always something I'll know better next time - and the beautiful thing about being a passionate, self-reliant independent filmmaker is that there always is a next time.

LOLlercoaster Ride

Now that my trip to Austin for the SXSW Film Festival is only a week away, I'm sitting here reflecting on the year, and how I managed to end up in the exact same position I was a year ago, with so much happening in between.

The main recurring thought is that Dan Brown and Matt Dentler must be my film guardian angels, sent down to watch over me and make sure my stuff gets seen by people. Dan is responsible for the very cool "Rollergirls" show that's on A&E right now, but before that, he was just another dude who I used to talk with on a message board. He was curious to check out KISSING ON THE MOUTH, and before I knew it, I got an email from Matt inviting the film to SXSW. Weird how the world works. Amazing. A filmmaker with nothing to gain by helping me out went ahead and helped anyway, and a Festival Producer with nothing to gain by showing my film, went ahead and programmed it anyway. I will forever be indebted.

SXSW was the launching pad for KOTM, and I'm hoping the same will be true for LOL. I met so many great people in Austin who I can't wait to see again, and I'm just as excited to meet new people, people who I don't know exist right now, but who will be dear friends in about 2 weeks. There's something about that Festival that's magic. Great weather, great parties, great films, it's just the best week I could ever imagine.

There's also work to be done. I want to do a better job getting LOL into the world than I did with KOTM. I was naive last year. I thought I could sit around and things would just happen for the film. I learned the hard way, through six long months of Festival rejections and passes from distributors, that the real indie film world runs exclusively on the sweat of real indie filmmakers. I feel better knowing that. I expect no handouts. I expect no special treatment. I expect to work for everything I get. I know that handing a DVD to Eugene Hernandez does not mean the film will ever be watched or mentioned on IndieWire. I know that a glowing e-mail from a Festival programmer does not mean the film will be shown in the Festival. I know that an acquisitions person telling me they will definitely make it to the Monday screening does not mean they will make it to the Monday screening. I know that running into that same person 6 months later and giving them another DVD copy of the movie does not mean they will watch it then either. I know that the only way films like mine will ever find an audience is if I work my ass off to make it happen. I know the only way I will ever make money as a filmmaker is if I sell my own work directly to people who want it. I know all of these things now, and I feel better for it.

One year has taught me a lot.

Here we go. Round 2. I'm coming out swinging.