Saturday, December 30, 2006

Redemtion

So I've been re-writing a screenplay of mine, and I'm suddenly more and more liking it. Of course I have no idea on how I'll get this into production, but for now I'm enjoying the experience of writing a new screenplay. As all of you know there are several stages a filmmaker goes through with his or her film. At any one of those stages the project can fall apart, or go through some drastic changes. I enjoy the writing stage, but it's a lonely one, and it all happens in your head. I know from experience that what is put down on paper is usually only a blueprint and that with more and more outside influences come change. It's a good thing and a bad thing. You as the originator of the idea have to know what is a good idea and what isn't. That person is called the director, and it's you're job to direct the project to a good and satisfying conclusion. In other words you NEED to know what happens and you need to get form point A to point Z. A director realizes his or her vision.

But in the early stages as the writer the imagination does rule. With me I can't help but see real world problems that will happen in a production so because of that I try not to write things like: "and Charlie saw something that mankind had never ever seen before". Somehow I try to write things that I can shot.

Any way right now I'm just happy that the ideas are coming, and that my characters are developing. It's a good feeling to wrestle with those creative juices, and just be creative. Maybe it's my Christmas gift to myself. It's cheap, and I can work with that. See you in the funny papers people.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Broken Flowers


Okay I had to write this after seeing Jim Jarmusch’s film "Broken Flowers" starring Bill Murry as Don Johnston. It is a very little odd tale of a man who gets a letter supposedly from one of his many girlfriends that tells him that he has a son. The women’s identity is unknown, and there lies the mystery and the adventure that our hero takes. I can’t say I’ve seen many of Jamusch’s films, and the ones that I’ve seen I’ve either been impressed or just plain confused. To say Jarmusch is an acquired taste is an over simplification of his films. You either love it or hate it. There seems to be no middle ground with the Jamusch’s films.

I was turned on by Jamusch’s first film "Strangers in Paradise". Basically it was telling of a story all in master shots. There are no real close-ups in the film, and the film is heavy on dialogue. "Strangers in Paradise" was the film we talked about in film school. It came out in 1982, and it was just at that time as I started film school. The one thing that it proved is that you could make a film outside of the system and get noticed, and Jim Jarmusch certainly got noticed. "Broken Flowers" is as close to a Hollywood film as Jamusch comes to ever making. There are the films "Mystery Train", "Night on Earth" & Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" which are films that had a sizeable budget, but they were steered more to the art crowd, and didn’t get a sizeable distribution which is unfortunate because some of those films are Jarmusch’s best work.

Back to "Broken Flowers". I just saw this film on one of the cable channels, and I came away from it wondering what I had just seen. The film is an interesting character piece. Bill Murray plays down his character, and you get the feeling that he’s an ordinary guy with a lot of issues, but there are some interesting performances from various actors in it that really make the film stand out. The film is slow to move and I believe Jarmush does this on purpose. There is really no resolution in the end and the film leaves you guessing. I know that Jarmusch likes to do this. After all life isn’t really so neat, and a lot of conflicts never get resolved in real life. I even watched the film again after seeing it only a few days after the first viewing. I must say I caught a lot of little nuisance that Jarmusch put into the film. Sometimes silence can be more powerful then dialogue and Jarmusch isn’t afraid to do just that.

I need to re-visit some of his other films, and see how I feel about them again. Jarmush puts a lot of stuff in his films, and they do feel like slice-of-life vignettes strung together in a film that as a whole tells a story. Like I said if you like to see some interesting performances pick up the film, but be prepared to sit through some slow pacing. At a 106 minutes the film isn’t that painful to sit through, and the cinematography by Frederick Elmes is stunning to watch. One thing for sure is that I need to take a closer work on Jarmusch’s other films.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Deadly Obsessions


Okay so I've been thinking about it more and more, and so why not. I've been saying that this blogs purpose is to reach like minded people like myself. Filmmakers, film enthusiasts, and people who just love the cinema. Call me crazy but the cinema is a passion of mine. Heck I even made a film that's how crazy I am about the cinema. I've learned valuable lessons in what to do and what NOT to do, yet with all its headaches I still want to make more films. I'm finding it frustrating to move on, and do another film. Since this time of year is a time of reflection for most of us I too have also been doing just that. So what am I getting at? Well if you are a reader of this blog I thank-you whole heartily for reading these meanderings of this crazed person. I also want to extend my thanks and give you a chance to see the film that I did. Just send me your mailing address to: kgbproductions AT gmail DOT com. I check on this email every so often, so I'll check it in a few days and see how the response is going. I have a limited amount of DVD's to give, so I'm hoping not to run out. I'll let you know how it goes, and I'll be real honest about its progress.

If you'd like to review the film on you're own blog that would be great. Both positive and negative reviews are welcomed. I'm a big boy and I believe I can take the criticism. Maybe we can even discuss what I did and how I did it. Anything that would be helpful to you in getting your own project off the ground would be a kick and something that would make me happy and all this worth while.

I'll leave a deadline of January 31st for all inquirers to be sent. After that the offer expires.

You won't get it right away since I'll be sending the videos out as I get the money to mail them out. Every payday for me more will be sent out. That I promise. I also promise NOT to keep any of the addresses that are emailed to me. As soon as I send the DVD out I'll discard the info.

So again thanks for reading, and I hope that in some way a project of yours is getting closer and closer to fruition, and that you find yourself happy and healthy in the New Year.

Thanks again. Hope all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a productive and safe one.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Media: What's it all about?


So the other day I cruised the web. I sometimes do this to see what’s new & different in the world, and as Time Magazine proclaimed ALL of US to be the person of the year I began to look at some of us. As an aspiring filmmaker I kind of have a vested interest in all this. After all don’t I want my films to be seen by a lot of people? Isn’t that what a filmmaker does? He or she communicates through their films in a form of entertainment. Well now with such things as MySpace, and YouTube we now ALL can communicate with each other and entertain too, so the walls of mass communication are starting to crumble. No longer does a studio or a media conglomeration have sway in what we see or watch. Variety has sprung up, and WE are all stars of our own lives.

But wait hold on for a second. Weren’t we stars of our OWN lives before? We’re we NOT important before, as we are now with all our media outlets available to us? I would think so, or are we living our lives as we always have been only this time more people know about us. I’ve read some articles where people criticize Time for punking out in essence. I mean how lame can one get. Surely there is someone who deserves to be person of the year more then WE all do, or am I wrong? Did WE collectively start something that we are now responsible for? Has the digital revolution made us the stars of our own lives, and by sharing our lives and expressing our opinions have we NOT made a difference? I’d say YES, but is this a fad, or just something that will peak and then die down?

There are some pretty funny video blogs out there in cyberspace. Way to many to list. If you want to see what’s around go to The broadband Internet access charts on wikipedia is an interesting view on just how many of us are driving this digital revolution. In an interesting article from the Times Sir Tim Berners-Lee a British computer scientist tells us about the warnings of why the democratic ethic of the world wide web may be about to end. Net Neutrality is a new term that is fighting to stay alive, and is an early warning sign of things to come if we don’t try and make the web more a place for ideas and not commerce.

There is no way of getting around it. The web has become commercialized. A lot of us do our shopping on the web, and it’s a convenience. With more and more people uploading videos are we not drowning in the noise itself? Who are the gatekeepers? There seems to be no one, and in a democratic way there should be none. As the Internet audience matures we’ll see more and more polished videos and the audience will become more sophisticated. Like TV in the 50’s we’ll see a lot of regional type programming, but as the net begins to evolve will see more and more commercial videos come about as more and more companies fight for your attention for their product. Either people will get tired of watching bad videos or they’ll tune it all out.

How does this apply to filmmaking? It’s another form of distribution, where the people decide on whether they like your product. You can target your audience now more selectively. Got a horror movie you made? There are a ton of horror web sites out there that could potentially help you promote that film. Maybe you’re film deals with a certain different lifestyle. You can target that market as well. It’s gotten easier to do this, but it’s going to get harder to get your message through. They’ll be a lot of other filmmakers and studios shouting about their new film and product. It’s up to you to be smart and come up with some interesting ways to get passed the clutter. In the future be prepared to know web design & what it will take to promote you’re movie. Set aside a marketing budget for your film and begin planning your marketing strategy right at the beginning of the film. Even before the film is shot. Not only shoot publicity stills for the film but videotape interviews with cast & crew. The more you provide the more interest you may generate for your film. It’s a difficult slope to climb, and one that may not get you the notoriety you want. I’m sure they’ll be companies that will be better at this since they have a bigger budget for this type of advertising, but a lone filmmaker can buck the odds. Maybe if you’re not as commercial as the rest of the studios and try to go for the more home grown feel you’ll have success. I’m just hoping that there’s a resurgence in better filmmaking about human values we can all identify with and that have some sort of message without the message being beaten over our heads. After all isn’t the Internet a place for ideas? And wasn’t it created to further those ideas by discussion. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Time Management?


So how do I begin? I've been writing a screenplay that was so-so, and is slowly becoming something I'm interested in. I've been reading a lot of film criticism blogs lately, and I sometimes feel as though I'm not culturally empowered. I always feel as though I'm playing catch-up. I do read, and go to movies, but in my older age I've become more selective. Maybe it's a time thing. There are only a certain amount of hours in the day that I can create or try to indulge in my film making endeavors. After that theirs work, family, and sleep. So where do I try and catch up? Well let's see. If I cut in on my sleep time I'll be a big grumpy mess, who will eventually rap his car around some tree, so sleep is good and it's better to have more of it then less of it. Trust me as you get older you'll feel it. Then theirs family time. Let's see I grew up with a father who worked hard, and had little time for his family. It kind of sucked, and I never really got to know my dad as well as I'd liked to have, so that's not an option. After all I really like to know what my boys are up to and I'm sure they'd like to know their father a bit more. Work is a given. Can't shorten that without getting hit in the old pocket book, so that isn't an option. So again where do I fit in all that I want to do in order for me to be a productive artist, and one who is creative?

Selectivity is the key. I used to go to a lot of movies in my youth, but I've become selective. The mainstream isn't for me. Reading books is even harder. If it doesn't have anything to do with the cinema I'm probably not interested. Maybe it's short sighted, and limiting, but with the time I have I can't waste time on a novel that I MAY like. I've said it here in this blog that I'm a very technical oriented guy. It's a plus and also an Achilles heel for me at the same time. If it's one thing in film making I've learned it's knowing what will work and what won't technically work. Of course then there are times where you throw out the technical manual and wing it. So being too stuck in the technical can make for a boring and flawed film.

Originality is something I try for, but it's impossible to do. There is always someone or some film that is similar to yours. It's how you stage it, and present it to the audience that makes it stand out. So again how do I stay culturally relevant when I don't have time to see or read everything that might be relevant? Simple answer: I don't. I do what I think is relevant, and what I find as interesting. Going with the flow never seemed to be a viable option. If it was I'd be working for one of the studios in La-La land churning out reality series or cheap sit-coms.

In the grand scheme of things I know I'm nobody significant. There are a lot of others who produce good work. My challenge is to produce work that I can be happy with, and yet maybe just maybe make a unique piece of work. It's a dream, but it's a dream worth while working for.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

INLAND EMPIRE



I've been hearing about this for some time, and what makes it more interesting is that a BIG time director is actually distributing his own film. David Lynch is a filmmaker who you either love or hate. There seems to be no middle ground with a David Lynch film. "INLAND EMPIRE" is a 3 hour film, and maybe that's why Lynch is doing what he is doing. After all a filmmaker's job is to get his or her film seen by as many people as he or she can, and doing it through the Internet is a good way to go. Lynch already has a fan base, and he has been getting a lot of free publicity by being interviewed by the press, and standing out on the corners of Hollywood promoting his film. Over at the workbook project there is an interview with Eric Bassett. Bassett is a managing partner of Absurda. Absurda handles all of David Lynch’s interactive properties and is currently overseeing the DIY release of David’s newest digital feature, INLAND EMPIRE.

Promotion is more then half the battle, so check it out, and see what Lynch and company are doing. It is inspiring, and I must say I'm a bit envious at the interest Lynch is generating for his film.

Personally Lynch is a favorite of mine. He has always made the films that he has wanted to do, and never compromised his vision. Some would say his film "Dune" was a compromise, but even now Lynch is having the last laugh when the studio releases Lynch's directors cut of the film on DVD. I look forward to seeing INLAND EMPIRE, and hope Lynch has much success with it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ferris Bueller's Day Off


So it’s Christmas and the networks blast there holiday favorites. Some how the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” starring Matthew Broderick has become one of those movies that gets played a LOT during this time of year. The funny thing about the film is that it doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas. “Home Alone”, “Planes Trains & Automobiles”, heck even it’s a “Wonderful Life” I can understand why they play these films when they play them. But Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? What’s that all about? Well I do have a theory, so I’ll give it a shot.

What does this film by John Hughes have to do with the holidays? Absolutely nothing, but as like all John Hughes films they do stir up memories for it’s audience, and right now those memories are very fresh. Why you ask? Well “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released in 1986. It was one of John Hughes most successful films, so a lot of people saw it. Now flash forward to today, and what do you have but adults having a nostalgia trip when they see the film. The film itself is a happy romp of a teenager who we all would like to hang out with. The most popular, the handsomest, the all-together kid. Now if that isn’t a misnomer I don’t know what is. All together kid? There is no such animal. It’s a fantasy, but we buy it hook line and sinker in this film. What I always thought was funny and unique was that Hughes character Ferris breaks down the forth wall of the theater and he (Ferris) actually addresses the audience. Ferris is our pal, and WE like him. He talks to us, and we're in with the cool crowd suddenly.

Everyone I meet can pick out a scene they like in the movie, and I really think it brings us back to a certain time in our life that we think we had or are familiar with. I’ll be the first one to say that my high school days in the 80’s didn’t reflect what was on the screen, but Hughes movies touch us in some way or the other. The teenage misfit, the prom queen, the geek, the jock, or the teacher you hated. All are charicatures in a Hughes movie, but their charicatures that we identify with. All the characters in a Hughes movie are universally identified with, and thereby it’s no wonder that a lot of his movies are successful.

So back to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Why does it show up now more then it does any other time of year? I’d say one thing the movie has is it’s nostalgia for the past, and if you look at when the film was released back in 1986 you’ll find that a lot of people who saw it back then in the theaters are now in their middle age. The nostalgia of the past is quite strong among this group, and what better group to market commercials to at this time of year. The film is not offensive, and little of it needs to be cut, so it seems perfect for network TV or cable. Also the demographics is perfect. People 35 to 45 are starting families, and have children themselves. It’s where the money is, so is it any surprise that “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is such a popular film around this time of year. Even myself I’m captivated by the film. I’ll leave it on when I see the film not realizing that I’m feeding my own nostalgic desires of the past.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is a funny film. I love the characters, and I really like Matthew Broderick as Ferris. The parade scene with Ferris singing a Beatles tune is funny and you do get a good vibe off it. So it’s not evil by any stretch of the imagination. It’s fun filmmaking and it’s a film that I enjoy watching once in awhile. It’s like hanging out with Ferris. Hughes was ingenious at making Ferris’ character talk to us because when he speaks to us we actually feel like were hanging out with Ferris and that’s what makes the film a cool little film to watch. It captures our attention, and takes us on a ride. Just like what Ferris does to his friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). By no stretch of the imagination can this be considered a teen drama. It is a fantasy like most of Hughes films, and it is cast well. Jennifer Grey as Ferris’ frustrated sister is hilarious. At 102 minutes the film breezes on by and in the end you feel really good. Even at the end credits Hughes has some fun with the characters showing what happens to Mr. Rooney & even Ferris addresses us, and tells us to leave because the film is over. It’s that kind of fun that makes “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” a good little romp for the holidays.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Conflicting Feelings!

It's been a while since posting, and I just thought I should write something. Being that it's the holiday season things get busy in our household. With two boys dreaming of race cars, trains and Christmas trees it gets harder to concentrate on my movie endeavors. I'm still writing, and experimenting, but time is at a premium. Also I haven't been too happy in the quality of my writing, so maybe there lies the crux of the problem. I've already come to realize that in order for me to make another film it is going to take some time for me to pull it off, and if I'm going to spend a lot of time on a film it better be a GOOD one, and something worth saying. In essence it better mean something to me. Money is also a factor, but more importantly its about what I want to say. Life is too short, and I want my boys to look at my films someday and maybe get a clue on who I am or was. Of course it's hard. Film is a collaborative venture, but it takes just one man or women to start the wheels of production. The auteur theory has its place, but one man or women cannot make a film entirely by him or herself, so that person needs to generate interest and a certain amount of spirit in their project. How else can you get volunteers to work on your film for nothing or next to nothing.

You have to believe in the project so it's all on you at first, and since it takes a while to make a film with the limitations we set for ourselves or that are forced upon ourselves we need to make the film a GOOD film. One that when you look back at the making of the film you won't regret your time spent on it.

That's where I'm at now. We'll see how it all turns out, but hopefully something good is going to happen. I just need to remember that it's my LOVE for film making that drives me not my desire to be famous or wealthy. After all I have stories to tell, and it's all about storytelling.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Don Dohler


I just found out that Don Dohler passed away last Saturday. If the name sounds somewhat familiar it's because Dohler was responsible for such films as: The Alien Factor, The Galaxy Invader, Fiend, Nightbeast, and Vampire Sisters. He also published a magazine called Cinemagic which was bought by Starlog Group back in 1979. I was a kid back then who desperately wanted to know more about moviemaking. I would devour each issue when it came, and I even bought two books Dohler put out about Special effects & stop motion photography. This was way before the Internet, and it was comforting to know that others had the same interest as I did.

Dohler's films were done on the cheap, but at that time it was a lot of money. Dohler was fortunate to have some films when the Star Wars craze hit. He sold his films to TV stations who demanded product. His films were a bit on the amateur side, but they were filled with love for the genre. If you want to hear an interesting interview with Don Dohler check this web site at Ourmedia:

http://www.ourmedia.org/node/115251

Dohler had begun to make films again under his new company called Timewarp films. What I liked about Dohler was his can do attitude. He had fun and made some money at it too, but for Dohler it wasn't all about money. Maybe that's why I liked him. I did meet him at a convention in Baltimore and said thanks for Cinemagic. Dohler was responsible for feeding a young mans dream back in the day where he felt he was the only one. It was fun reading his articles over and over again, and then applying them to a short I was doing. I am saddened to hear that he is gone, and yet I'm glad to have seen him & tell him how much he meant to me. God speed Mr. Dohler. You'll be missed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Film Criticism Blog-a-Thon!

Okay I saw this on Matt's web site, and was intrigued about the idea that Andy had about a film criticism Blog-a-thon, so here's my take on it all.

How does a person judge a film? A question asked for some time now. I mean I've always been intrigued by the French New Wave, and most of those filmmakers started as film critics, and I do sometimes here review a film I've seen. It's inevitable I guess. I'm a lover of movies, and so it's a natural progression that I write about them.

But what can I bring to the table that would make my film criticism special or unique. With the internet now there seems to be a new crop of film critics who put more heart into their work then the simple jaded film/TV reviewer does that usually writes for a publication. That's not a bad thing. Passion is good, and I've met some reviewers who came off cold, and just too business like. I guess its par for the course especially if you do writing reviews as a profession. Imagine all the movies and TV shows one needs to see and then put a deadline on it, and I can see where critics can loose their passion. It's the old publish or perish I guess, but how do I judge a film and what makes it work or not work for me is a matter of taste I guess.

Simple put does a movie work? Now this could be on several different levels. One was it entertaining? Did I forget my troubles when the lights went down, and the movie started? Did I find any interest in the characters in the film? Was the story too predictable? Did I know what was going to happen? Did I find it funny? (comedy), scary? (horror), eye opening? (drama), or did I just feel I wasted my valuable time?

Since I studied film in school, and I've actually made a film maybe I can add something to my reviews that would give readers an interesting perspective about the film. I've even worked on several films in different capacities so maybe I can add something different into the mix. I'm not saying I'm an authority in filmmaking, but lets just say I have some knowledge about what goes into the making of a film and leave it at that. In no way does this make me more superior or less superior then anyone else reviewing a film. Like I said earlier it's a matter of taste. Let's just say I'm more aware of what a filmmaker goes through to get his or her film up there on the screen.

Now all that said how do I go about reviewing a movie? If I have a good time, and enjoy it I usual like the film, but I do recognize what type of entertainment I've just seen. Will the movie leave a lasting impression on me? In Matt Riviera’s blog he stated that viewing it again and seeing if it still holds up is a valid test. I kind of agree on that, but if I see a movie, and it doesn't let go even after a week or two after seeing it then I know there is something special in the film. Now this something special may only resonate within me. Maybe the film said something to me, and no one else. After all we do bring EVERYTHING to the table when we review a film. Our hopes, our aspirations, our desires are all there, and a film can touch on all of them or none of them.

But what about the film working as a film? Structure, dialogue, shot composition, editing etc. Don't these all have to do with a films success or failure? I agree a well made film from a filmmaker who knows his or her craft can contribute to the films success immeasurably, but some well known filmmakers have been known to make some really bad films too, so that's only part of the equation.

There are several levels on how a film can affect me. A film like “The Dukes of Hazzard” with Burt Reynolds, and Jessica Simpson may entertain me and give me a laugh or two, but in no certain instance do I consider it a cinema masterpiece. It was simply entertaining, funny, and a good night out, or in this instance a good night in (thanks cable).

But what about a film like “The Departed” which I saw recently in the theater and had mixed feelings on. Did I like it or not? In my review I said I enjoyed the story, and told of its faults or what I believed to be the films faults. I was entertained, and enjoyed the story and characters. Pass or fail isn’t what I’m about. One star, two star, four stars are a bit more my speed, but then again how do you review something. Does a review have ANY merit? Does a person say because of this review I’ll go see this movie, or not. In this day of age where information can flow fast and furious I believe the consumer makes an educated guess. If he or she hears several BAD reviews they might consider seeing it later on DVD. But if that consumer is a fan of a particular star, director, or genre then maybe his or her mind won’t be influenced.

All I can say is that when I see a movie I try to enjoy it. Matt makes a good point in his blog, and that is whether you enjoy a film or not.

“Whether you're a film critic, a cinephile or a cinephage (a French term for people who 'eat' film), you never want analysis to get in the way of your enjoyment of the medium. So it's always perfectly fine to "enjoy first, analyse later"...

I like that piece of advice a lot. It’s something everyone should aspire to even critics, and that’s my two cents.