Tales of Creation at the Garden State Film Festival

GSFF _Postcard_Front

My film Tales of Creation is going to be shown this weekend, Saturday April 2, at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Congrats to Victoria Guthrie, Eric C, Bailey, Stephen Long, Lenny Gonzalez, Jenna Payne, Jil Guyon, Celeste Hastings, Christine Coleman and everyone else who worked on the film! If you’re in Atlantic City Saturday afternnoon, check it out!

Garden State Film Festival



Big News

AriaHaven’t been updating the site lately, because I’ve been very busy getting to know the cutest baby in the whole world, our beautiful daughter, Aria. She’s five months old, and every day she brings new joy and fun to our lives.



Avengers: Age of Ultron

Finally got to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I enjoyed it so much more than the first one. The action was more exciting and more interesting. The character bits were better integrated into the action and were just the right level of depth for a comic book movie. The narrative actually made sense; I loved the way they handled The Vision; and Captain America’s costume wasn’t so ridiculous-looking that it ruined any scene he was in,

Of course Joss Whedon’s “the stakes aren’t real enough unless someone dies” is still the blind spot in his understanding of the genre he’s working in. The death at the end didn’t add stakes, it just added unnecessary and overdone melodramatics. At least he did us the favor of killing off a character he made no effort whatsoever to make us care about.

Still, the 12 year old in me, for whom The Avengers was his favorite comic, was giddy at finally seeing these characters done right on the big screen.



Excellent Beauty: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

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“Where am I? I am sleeping and only dreaming all of this.”

I recently saw Valerie and her Week of Wonders, a unique and wonderful 1970 Czech film by Jaromil Jires. Surreal, in the original sense of the word (“as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella”), the movie appears to take place inside the dreams of a young woman just entering puberty.

The young heroine, radiantly portrayed by 13 year-old Jaroslava Schallerova, encounters vampires, lecherous priests, a young man who may be her lover or may be her brother, magical talismans and long-lost parents.. The movie proceeds with the logic of a dream. Characters die and return and transform from one person to another; relationships and locations shift without warning; all with no attempt at explanation.

Sometimes Valerie watches the action from hidden recesses, as if observing for the first time the secret world of adults; sometime she is pulled into the action. She faces dangerous situations and discovers dark truths about her past, though facts seem to shift and transmute as soon as she uncovers them.

Human-made edifices, old and decaying, contrast with idyllic scenes of nature. Exuberant sensuality contrast with selfish, predatory lusts.

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Full of arresting, astonishing images, there is a wonderful magic to the film. The special effects are accomplished with the simplest edits, giving them an eerie power exactly because of their simplicity. Its ending is truly sublime, as Valerie seems to rise above her trials to find a moment of inner strength and bemused detachment, in the light of a warm and sunny day.

Criterion has just released a new edition of the film on Blu-ray, which means it’s also available from streaming on Huluplus. Check it out!

Valerie and her Week of Wonders on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders on Huluplus

Taking its name from Frances Bacon (“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”) Excellent Beauty is an ongoing series about films and filmmakers whose style falls outside of mainstream tradition. It’s a celebration of the quirky and refreshing, works that remind us that the art of filmmaking can be as vast and varied as the human experience, beyond the restricted styles, themes, and ethics offered by most mainstream films.



Rebel Seed’s Film Insights Podcast

I just found a great podcast for independent filmmakers: Rebel Seed.

Their Film Insights series features really amazing advice on marketing, fundraising, and distribution for indie films. It’s all very specific and very practical. I’m finding these podcasts extremely useful as we ramp up for production on Kim. Knowledge is power.

http://www.rebelseedfilms.com/rebelseedpodcast/



Extraordinary New Book of Choreography Notes by Tatsumi Hijikata

Ugly Duckling Presse has just published an extraordinary book of choreography notes by Tatsumi Hijikata, co-founder of Butoh, from a performance he directed in 1976.

Transcribed at the time by lead dancer Moe Yamamoto, the book presents us with the actual words and mental images Hijikata used to direct, motivate, and inspire his dancers at this stage of his artistic development. It demonstrates vividly how deeply interconnected words, internal images, and movement were for him.

The book reproduces the words, erasures and drawing from the original notes and gives us the original Japanese with an English translation on alternating pages. For anyone interested on the art and history of butoh, this is an invaluable document.

You can purchase it here:

http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/catalog/browse/item/?pubID=500



Kim Production Diary: Making a Budget, Fundraising and Business Plans

Kim Production Diary

Been crunching numbers lately, but before I go on, I’ll define a few terms for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of film production.

Pre-production is the time spent preparing the film before the actual shoot, this includes writing the script, hiring the crew, auditioning, casting, and rehearsing the actors, finding locations, rasing money, and whatever preparations we need for the camera crew and the art, props and sets.

Production is the time when the cameras are rolling and we’re shooting the picture.

Post-Production is everything that happens after the shoot. Editing, composing the music, doing the sound design and sound editing, festival submissions, marketing, and distribution of the final film, etc.

At this stage of Pre-production, Leeah and I have been working to finalize our Budget, Fundraising Plan and Business Plan, three essentials for proceeding with the production. With these three key components, we’re trying to answer these questions:

The Fundraising Plan: how are we going to raise the money for Kim?

The Budget: How are we going to spend the money once we get it?

The Business Plan: How are we planning to make the money back once the film is made?

Investors and funders will certainly want to see the Budget and Business Plans before they contribute money, but they’ll probably also be interested in seeing the Fundraising plan to make sure that our plans are solid and we’ll be able to raise the rest of the money for the production.

As we finish up the Budget, some of the issues we’re facing are trying to nail down the locations and the costs for the locations, deciding the size of the crew we’ll need on set as well as the length of the shoot, and deciding how many paid pre-production days we’ll have for the actors, the art department, and camera crew. We also need to include money in the busget for post-production or be forced into a second round of funding after the film is shot, as well as a little extra contingency money for unforeseen emergencies (usually about 10% of the budget).

Our Production Consultant, Jenna Payne, has been invaluable to the process, providing us much needed insight and guidance as we nail down the numbers. With her experience and expertise, she’s helped us cut expenses and helped us stay realistic in terms of what things will actually cost.



Kim Production Diary 3

Kim Production Diary

As I mentioned in the last post, Elle, our Production Designer, is beginning to work on images for pre-production. She delivered her first group of pictures this week, and they are AMAZING! They really capture the look I am going for.

Here are a few of them, you can see more on the Kim Website.

KIMskectch01

KIMskectch02KIMskectch03

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Filmmaking Resources Update

I haven’t updated the site for a while with any new resources for Independent Filmmakers. Here are some interesting sites and articles I’ve come across recently.

First off, here’s any amazing interview with Morrie Warshawski, author of Shaking the Money Tree: How to Get Grants and Donations for Film and Video, on raising money for the arts, with a focus on independent films. It’s a little dated on internet stuff, but solid on the timeless aspects of fundraising.

Interview with Morrie Warshawski

Here’s some great advice on how to find name actors for low budget films.

13 Ways to Cast A-list Actors in Mcrobudget Films

Next up, is Film Freeway, a site filmmakers can use to submit to film Festivals. Created as an alternative to Without a Box, Film Freeway is always free for filmmakers (no added fees added to the festival submissions fee) and it has HD online screeners, unlike Without A Box whose online screeners look terrible.

Film Freeway

I linked to this in an earlier post, but it’s worth repeating. It’s an article detailing how Tangerine, a hit at Sundance this year, was shot on the iPhone 5s. It’s essential that independent filmmakers start thinking creatively about how to save money and use their resources wisely.

How One of the Best Films at Sundance was Shot Using and iPhone 5s

Finally, here are some great tips from Mark and Jay Duplass for low budget filmmakers. I love their emphasis on the 250K film, both to retain control and to make sure your money is being used wisely.

This Is How You Do It: 10 Filmmaking Tips from Mark and Jay Duplass



Kim Production Diary 2

Kim Production DiaryAn ongoing series chronicling the production (pre, shoot, and post) of our new movie Kim.

I met with Elle, our Production Designer yesterday, and we had a good talk about the look of the film. We discussed what genre Kim belongs to and agreed that though on the surface it’s a science fiction film, Kim might be better thought of as a surreal dream or nightmare, at least that’s a productive way for us to think about it as we develop the visuals. I like the way Elle thinks. This meeting gives me confidence we are on the right track.

We talked about visual references for the film, Bosch, Escher, Guy Maddin, Under the Skin, but I also suggested she look at Tibetan Buddhist art. It has a deep spiritual character I would like to capture, and a strange balance of stillness and movement, especially in the sculptures. I suggested she visit The Rubin Museum, a treasure trove of Himalayan art and one of my favorite places in the city (free Friday nights to boot!)

I commissioned Elle to do some pre-production art, so we should see some of her work up on the website soon.



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