Monday, December 28, 2009

The Road (2009)

What can I say that hasn't been said about this movie. It is a scary and upsetting film about the end of days. I had to catch this film before it vanished from theaters. With Avatar and all the new holiday films glutting up the theater screens I raced to the theater before the distributor pulls it. I understand why not many people have seen this film. It's a hard film to watch. There is no Mad Max action that usually is standard in films that deal with the Apocalypse of civilization. Maybe the film "2012" seems to have covered that territory and more audiences went to see that then "The Road".

I haven't seen "2012" and from the coming attractions I'll wait for the DVD. I know I'll miss the spectacle of the end of day shots that Roland Emmerich has compiled for the BIG screen, but I'll put my money on John Hillcoat's version of the end of the world thank you very much.

Why? You ask. Simple. It's a better film. The mood, the feel, and the performances of its actors in "the Road" are all of top notch quality. It is this quality that makes the film a real masterpiece of cinema. I'm not putting Mr. Emmerich's film down. After all sometimes spectacle is really cool, and fun. But for true heart "the Road" will have you gripping the theaters chair not from suspense, but of the sheer emotional onslaught that the film will deliver to your senses. "The Road is based on the book by Cormac McCarthy who wrote "No Country for Old Men". The filmmaker follows the book from what I am told, and it's because of this that the film is so powerful. There is not much dialogue in this film. The musical score is haunting, along with it's cinematography., but not just one element can be singled out in this film. It is ALL these elements that make the film such a powerful viewing experience.

Viggo Mortensen, and Kodi McPhee give outstanding performances. I have to say all the performances in the film are top notch. Charlize Theron is and will always be an actress who is severely under-appreciated.

If you can. Go see this film before it leaves the theaters. It's worth seeing. It's a film that stays with you for awhile, and that's a good thing. It makes you appreciate the here and now, and what we have, and maybe makes you even think about how dark it can become. This is a dark film, and one that grips you from beginning to end. Maybe not something you would see around the holidays, but if you do yourself a favor and love cinema I suggest you go see it. It's a film that is timeless, and will eventually become a classic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bless you Tiny Tim!


Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" has been played out on stage and screen for longer then Dickens was alive, and yet several adaptations of the story have become classics. On of my favorites is the one with George C. Scott. Maybe it's because of nostalgic reasons I like it a lot, but seeing it does make me well up, and get emotional. I was watching that very version the other night with my mom, and thought that that's what a film really needs to do. It needs to move me. It's kind of cathartic when one sees a good movie that hits the viewer with a variety of emotions which we all share.

I've been silent because in this season of what has become a consumers nightmare of overload I've stepped back. Maybe it's because I'm older and I have kids, or maybe it's just getting back to basics for me. Where's the fun, and the excitement of it all. Personally I see a lot of ups and downs headed my way, and I'm sure many of you out there also see the same. I also grimace at not working at what I love to do, and that is making films.

For all its chaos and frustration film making is still a fun endeavor to do, and one I find rewarding. I complain of lack of time, lack of money, and lack of just plain faith, but its all excuses really. If you have the will to do something creative usually that creative spark finds a way out. It's like you can't contain the spark within oneself for too long. With all the tools available to an artist now in today's age there is a way to self expression no matter what the odds are.

Which brings me to this little entry. No more words, it's time to throw up things and see where they land. Being that movie making is a collaborative art form it is time to bring others into the fold. My idea is like a rock, and I need to toss it out there. Like a rock hitting water the ripples do occur and spread out hitting other ripples. Ideas are no good alone. They need to be shared, and talked about. Maybe the idea becomes something different, and evolves, but it all starts with and idea. Your idea.

The currency we use is our own desire to self expression. Meeting other artists who want to do the same is the key. The desire for a story to be told is all that is needed. The how's, the whys, and the what's will be answered by others who see differently then you, yet also share a desire to tell a story.

Of course there is reality. Nothing happens in a vacuum. The realities are family, finance, time, location, etc, etc, etc. One overcomes when one needs to. Life is to brief to think otherwise.

People talk about plans and business proposals when they should think more outside the box. If the system is broken, or different then work with it, and be innovative. Do what you love. If you love it that much that idea should rise to the top and be heard. If not, it doesn't matter. The desire is to tell a story or stories is what matters. Dickens did so, and was not compensated for his work very well in his time. I won't compare myself to Dickens, but I will dream of his greatness through reading and or watching his stories.

Now go out there and be the story teller you want to be, and be unconventional. The time is now, because you hear that BIG clock tick, tick, ticking away. That's your life going on by, and there is so much to be said before one is through. Thanks Mr. Dickens for the stories.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Corman gets an Oscar

Seems as though there was a bit of a dust up about Roger Corman getting his Oscar in the old blog-o-sphere.

Here's a link to the ceremony itself. Both Ron Howard, and Jonathan Demme salute Corman, and it's a nice touch.

The dust up happened at a web site called Cinematical. Neil Sarver over at Bleeding tree wrote a interesting piece about criticism, and Corman. In the piece there are links to other opinions. Head on over and take a look.

When I heard about Corman getting an Oscar I said "about time". Call Corman the devil or the angel of independent film you still have to give him his due. He's created some interesting films throughout the years.

I have an affection for the guy, and I did meet the man and he is a very courteous and soft spoken man. I have all the respect for Corman, and I like the tribute they gave him.

I had thought that they would give him his Oscar in March of next year during the academy's broadcast, but instead they give it to him now.

I'm a bit saddened to hear that. I would have loved to see what some editor would do with the many clips from Corman's movies.

I was ecstatic to hear that Gordon Willis also received a Oscar. He is another man who has been looked over by the academy. Again though why not just televise it during the ceremonies next year?

Maybe it's just me. Too much the cine-file to let it go. But just those two men alone deserve MORE recognition then what the academy gave them. Come on academy these are true artists. They deserve more.

And don't get me started on Laureen Bacall either. She was another person honored too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Irene Glezos on Law & Order

TV ALERT everyone! Irene is on Law & Order this Friday (Nov. 13th). The show starts at 8PM, and Irene plays a wife of a murdered victim I believe. She says it was a great role. SO set your Tivo, VCR's & DVR's to NBC at 8PM to 9PM, and cheer Irene on. I think this is her third appearance in the L&O series, not including her appearance on the series "Conviction" which was a L&O spin-off that was cancelled mid-season.

Want MORE IRENE! I know I can't get enough so go on over to practice of artemisia.com. You can see her there too, along with a very talented bunch of other thespians.

Go Irene!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Windmill Movie

I noticed that I had missed the premiere of Alexander Olch's documentary "The Windmill Movie". Lucky for me HBO has it on demand till the end of November. To say that I was captivated by this film is a pretty fair way of describing it. The film was made by combing through 200 hours worth of footage of Richard P. Rogers autobiography. Rogers died in 2001 and it was up to his protege Alexander Olch who was a student of Rogers to make any sense out of it.

What unfolds is a beautiful honest piece about a man who feels compelled to say something, but has no idea what to say. It is only after his death and combing through his diaries, and recordings that Olch's makes sense of it all.

The site to the movie is here. If you do get a chance do see the film. It has always been my belief that we all have a story to tell, and yet we don't know what that story really is. Here is an example of a filmmaker who pointed the camera at himself and revealed to us the depth of life, and what it means to be a creative soul.

Go to HBO on demand and order it. If you subscribe to HBO it's free. How movies slip threw the cracks always amazes me, and I'm just glad I got to see this. It is inspirational, and challenging.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Is this the Winter of our discontent?

With the weather changing here in the Northeast one wonders and ponders future events. I've been on Facebook a bit more then I'd like, but yet the site appeals to me because of its interaction with others. Social networking is something of a new thing. I mean it is to the vast majority of us. Of course back in the day there were bulletin boards and forums that one looked at for info and social networking of sorts. But now it's more mobile, and people are tweeting, and texting each other like it was going out of style.

So what has this got to do with film making? Well everything of course, because these tools now put the power in YOUR hands to start a sort of grass roots distribution effort for your film. Don't get me wrong it's difficult to do. Nothing worth while is easy and why should marketing your film through social networks be easy. It's time consuming and tedious at best. I'll say it right now. I'm not that good at it, but I do like connecting to like minded people. Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum and using such tools as twitter and Facebook, and even Myspace you may be able to connect to an audience and or peers.

So why the title "the winter of our discontent"? Well it seems around this time there is more chatter out there and less content to be seen. C.C Chapman who lives in the Boston area said it in his blog today. There are more talkers out there then doers, and I so agree on that fact. But maybe that's just in general too. I've always been flustered by people who give no solutions to problems. These people expect someone else to FIX it. What usually does happen is that the problem is fixed but not before some stress and agita is given out to other people. In today's economy we're all working more with less, and this has become the norm.

I've REALLY been thinking about what I want to do. I have this production company and I so want to do another film, but I need to reach out to the creative community here and in the surrounding areas of where I live. Is it possible to come together and work on each others projects realizing that there are other priorities we may have in our life that may come up. I've always been a proponent of paying for someones service, but in today's economy who has the extra scratch to put up. I do like the idea of investing one self's skills into a project. In essence you become an investor in that project and all who work on that project give their time up for the project. I remember Rick Schmidt had that idea in his book "Feature Film making at Used Car Prices". I remember sitting with him and our group signing a contract together. It was a collaborative contract that stated that we all gave each other permission to work with the material we had shot, and that we would ALL profit from its success if that project became a success. It was a small video project way before the advent of DV, and it was to say the least very inspiring to work on.

I have been writing because after all ideas needs to be fleshed out, and written down. The screenplay is a blueprint of sorts. Only when your into production does that blueprint gets revised due to the realities of life. So I sit here pondering the possibilities. Which direction should I take?, what type of project should I commit to? What ever it is it needs to be something that I can live with for awhile because this isn't a short term project. I'm in for the long haul. So some serious thinking to do, and then a BIG leap needs to be made. Hopefully with a few other crazy creative types also, but none the less a leap needs to be made. Is this the winter of our discontent, or is it the beginning of something extra ordinary? We'll see what bubbles up!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Laundrea Thomas


I just found out that Ms Laudrea Thomas died on August 9th of this year in Los Angeles California. It seems that she took her own life. She was 32 and she was way too young to leave this earth. I'm not going to say that I knew Ms Thomas very well. She was in my movie "Deadly Obsessions", and she was a pleasure to work with. I had hoped some how that someday we would work together again because it's so hard to find real good talent who have a passion for what they do.

To say that I was taken a back by this news of Laundrea's death is an understatement. I can still remember Laundrea's first day of shooting Of "Deadly Obsessions" it seems that she had car problems and her car broke down on the PA Turnpike on the day she was suppose to check in to shoot her scenes. Her father managed to rescue her, and drive her to the hotel where I had some of the cast & crew staying. Laundrea still made it on time and even brought some props that she thought we could use, which we did. She was a happy and determined young lady who gave 110%. I will always remember her that way and her laugh.

There is not much else I can say. The world is a little darker, and less friendly knowing that such a lovely women is nolonger with us. A link to her obituary is here & here.

Memorial contributions in Laundrea's memory may be made to Domestic Violence Services, PO Box 359, Lancaster, PA 17608.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Content & Communications World Expo


I happen to be lucky enough to be invited to the Content & communications World Expo here in NYC, and take in a few presentations about digital media. First off it was very interesting to meet and see the men & women who work in the digital realm. Coming from an educational background I don't get to see, or play with the newest pieces of technology due to budgetary constraints. Where I work we do keep up with technology, but technology is a strange mistress. As soon as you get to know her she changes, and what you've learned about her becomes obsolete fast. I was hoping to see more technology for the class room, but here at the CCW expo it was more and more about monetizing the digital arena.

Since the technology is so quick to change there are companies trying to figure out how one can use digital technology and turn a profit doing it. I have no problem with this idea. Like all new techno logic breakthroughs there has always been people who want to profit from it, and make it more accessible to the consumer. Since the expo is called content & communications I met the people who provide the content to many different companies. From Television, to cable and even the Internet there are many people who contribute to this content. Yest as a society we seem to consume more content then we can produce. Also our content has become more and more specialized, or should I say more and more segmented.

In today's world its all about the here and now. I want what I want now, and if I can't have it instantly I go somewhere else. That's why there is a shift happening in media. Where Television, newspapers and magazines dominated in the past it is now all about on-demand satisfaction. This is in part because digital media is breaking out of it's box. No longer is digital media relegated to the computer, but it is now in our hands via cell phones and blackberry's. It is what we even watch. Eighty-five percent of us get our news via cable. The days of rabbit ears on the television are gone. Yet terrestrial TV is not dead. It has only changed, and is working hand in hand with digital networks. Through meta-data, SMS, and RSS we are connecting more and more with what we want to see. If your interest is in cooking you can find things about cooking a lot easier now, and so can marketers & advertisers. That's what I mean about segmented. These content providers need to get their content seen and they need to find an audience. Through digital technology this is happening more and more.

I can go on, and on about this and perhaps will since there is so much to digest, but what does this mean for me you are saying? Simple. To get or attract an audience you need to get it in front of eyes that want to see it. There is a number of various ways to do this, but I think you'll agree that the movies or serials you produce need to find their audience. Cutting through the clutter is a subject I've touched on previously here in this blog.

You can look at it in two ways. One, there is so much clutter that it's hard to stand out from the rest, or two you can do your own marketing and target the exact people who would be interested in your content.

I said it before and I'll say it again. There is a lot to say about all this, and a lot more to write about. I'll try and go through my notes and dissect them, and try to filter the most useful information out of them. I was very surprised that I came away from the expo a lot more optimistic, and hopeful then I thought I might. Maybe I can explain why here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A New Beginning!


It's been a while, and yet here I am. It's been a strange month, and now that were going into October that extra chill in the air kind of gives me a new spring in my step. Life has a way of running on by, and if you don't stop to look you just might miss it. So what's with the new Aggy philosophy? Since when is this a blog about feelings? Isn't it about film making?

Yes. Yes it is, and it time this fellow got back up, and start doing what he likes doing. Fuck fame & fortune. I'm not here to be the next Rodriguez, or Tarintino I'm here for me. Now don't get me wrong it would be really cool to get the recognition for ones films, and even make a living doing it. But the real question is why do I like film making.



Easy. Self expression. Before DV, and before the Internet I was just a dude with a camera who liked putting on shows, and telling stories. A lot of those stories were based on things I was watching, both on TV and at the movies. It was in college that I began to see film making as more then just storytelling, but as an art form. Unfortunately it is also commerce, and a lot of movies these days are just that commerce. Nothing bad about that, but I like a little meat on my bones. In essence more substance is what I'm after.

I've been looking at road blocks and been distracted from my goals. If there is something worth saying somehow you find a way to say it. That's not to say I've gotten all serious and high falutin about it all. Oh! not at all. I was more productive, and having MORE fun when I was doing my own little low budget horror, sci-fi epics then I was doing it professionally.

There are people out there who are doing there own thing, and having a good time doing it. I want to be one of those people again. Life is way too short for excuses. I need to produce, and in today's technology that is easier then it ever was. I mean do you know how hard it is or was to splice spaghetti (super-8) together? It's a lot easier now, and there is a lot of technology that can help.

So is this a new chapter? Maybe. I just need to break out of my own insecurities, and get that child like wonder back.

Anyone else feel that way?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen trailer



A shout out to a film shot here in Philly! Looks interesting!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Struggle!


Go over to Ballast Films and check out Bryan Wizemann video about a arguement he had with his wife about film. It got to me, and I can understand how Sabina (Wizemann's wife) feels.

A film career is anything but stable, and having a family is a hard balance when both film & family compete with each other. Personally I could never do the balancing act, and I've always thought family first. Also if you get a chance head on over to wholphindvd.com

I'd be curious to know how the filmmaker and his wife are now, and if they've resolved the career choices of each other.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)


Where do I start. I'm a Quentin Tarantino fan, and at the same time I have mixed feelings about this film. First off I have to say that my father served on the other side, and though he had nothing good to say about it I did hear some of his stories. They were all gruesome and none of them were happy stories. Tarantino's film makes every German a Nazi. This is just too simplistic for me. I know this is only a film, but films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Enemy at the Gates" truly depict the horrors of war. Tarantino's film does not. Sure he shows the gruesome details of the kill, but it's for shock effect, and no more. I like Tarantino's style, and have always thought of him as a skilled filmmaker, and a lover of cinema and I mean ALL cinema. The opening scene of the film is quite good and unnerving. His actors play over the top and it suits the film.

How Tarantino weaves his story lines is also fascinating, but then this is film is about revenge, and I really think the Tarantino has covered this theme already in his "Kill Bill" films. I saw the film with a very older crowd, and a lot winced at the violence, but all I can say is that people HATED the villain here. Christoph Waltz plays Nazi Colonel Hans Landa to a tee. The character drips evil, and vial all over the screen, and it does look like Waltz is having some fun. The same could be said about Brad Pitt also in his portrayal of Lieutenant Aldo Raine. Pitt seems to be enjoying the character, and watching these two on screen is highly entertaining. Which brings me to the length of this film. Clocking in at 2 hours and 33 minutes the film does move. There is a lot of talk in the film all in German or French, and there are a lot of sub-titles. I must say I'm a fast reader, but even I was challenged to keep up. Hey at least the critics can't say that the Germans had bad accents here.

If your a Tarantino fan you'll see this film no matter what, but if you're put off by sub-titled movies you may not like it as much. I had no problem with the sub-titles, but some may. Just a fair warning.

What gave me a problem and I believe this is purely an emotional one on my part was that of every German in the film was a Nazi. Having heard the horror stories of the Third Reich from family I would have liked to see a bit more truth depicted in this world war two movie. I know it's a send up to some B-movies of the 60's, but the central idea that all Germans were Nazi's just didn't sit well with me and really isn't true historically. The characters are black & white, and there is not much depth to them. Tarintino gives us a German soldier (Til Schweiger) who has killed many Nazis and he is enlisted into the basterds. There is only a brief back story about him, and that's it. I have no clue on why this man is the way he is and it seems neither does Tarantino. To me the character is added just to increase the body count. Maybe everybody else wants to think of this film as more then just a B-movie on steroids, but honestly that's all it is. I also found Tarantino's re-writing of World War 2 offensive, and really dumb. Yes it's great to see Hitler get machined gun and riddled with bullets, but that's not what happened, and it's gore for gore sake.

So can I recommend this film? Not really. For the cinema lover maybe, but otherwise I think Tarantino can do a lot better, and as Lieutenant Aldo Raine says at the end of the movie with a nod and a wink to Tarantino "I believe this is one of my best works ever".

Don't bet on it Mr. Tarantino! But I still look forward to your next one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GI-Joe (2009)


Okay before you say another word yes I payed to see this. I have a seven year old boy who seems to like action flicks, so I was destined to see it. I loved GI-Joe when I was growing up, and a lot of the time those GI-Joe's with the kung fu grip became my actors in some pretty primitive stop motion action. But that was a different Joe. The GI-JOE I remember were adventurers and protectors. There was NO Cobra to fight against. I believe only in the 80's did that come about, and then the action figures went from 12 inches tall to mini-action hero's.

No more kung fu grip or fuzzy type hair or beard. So Paramount pictures has me in their cross-hairs, and since I've got two boys it's all about the merchandising. I can only thank that my youngest isn't fazed by the JOE franchise. He'll stick to his dinosaurs thank you. But my oldest well he certainly is caught in the hype, and his favorite is of course Snake Eyes who is played by Ray Park.

So did I loath this film or did I like it? I can't say it was horrible. What I didn't like was that the movie was or is trying so hard to make sure that there is a second JOE movie in its future. That I felt a little too forced and didn't buy the plot lines as much. There are some character developments in the film, but not too much. I like what Marlon Wayans did to the character of Ripcord, and what Rachel Nichols did for the character Shana 'Scarlett' O'Hara. Sienna Miller looks fantastic, and does a pretty good job here too. I was a bit surprised at the love angle they took here between Duke and the Baroness. Guess they had to warm it up for the ladies in the audience. Duke is played by Channing Tatum and he's a bit wooden, but again he looks good. Other players which I wanted more from was from Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who plays Heavy Duty, and Byung-hun Lee who plays Storm Shadow. It seemed that the writers could have gone into more detail about these characters and given the GI-JOE team some depth.

DEPTH! You say? Why isn't this an overgrown live action cartoon? In a way yes, but remember it's audience. My son marveled at the JOE's equipment, and his favorite was the Sigma suits, which accelerated the person using it. Listen some critics have labeled the special effects cheesy, but actually I thought they weren't too bad.

Listen I'm not saying GI-JOE is high cinema, but it is some FUN entertainment, and watching my boys watching the movie made me feel good. Yes it has gun's and it is violent, but I try to explain all of it. The movie leaves you a bit hanging, and does leave you with some questions, but I'm sure that's on purpose. Paramount is trying to build a franchise, and I see no problem with that. I just hope that they get writers who fully love the world of GI-JOE and take it to the next level. The movie shows promise for a franchise I just hope the studios don't mess it up.

If you want a good time and have nephews or sons that like action hero's I don't see how you can't pass this movie up. It's fun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

DIY Days - Esther Robinson: Building a Creative Foundation



Here's the lecture that Ms Robinson gave, which I found inspiring. The lifetime of work is so true, and I love this phrase:

"Build your future, and not deny your existence".

Take a listen to it, and tell me if I'm not right. Listening to it again I'm inspired. Thanks Ms Robinson!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Tapeless Terror


I just read an article by Fred Olen Ray about his latest film which is directed by his son Christopher Douglas Olen Ray. It's an interesting article about what camera he used and what problems he first encountered in using a consumer-pro type of camera.

If the name doesn't sound familiar Mr. Ray's film have played theaters, late night TV, and lately Syfy. He is also author of a book called "The New Poverty Row" from McFarland, which is pretty inspiring.

Check out DV.com for the article, or just click on the link "Tapeless Terror".

I think you'll get some useful info about it. Check it out. Figured I pass it on.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

DIY - Philadelphia (Part 1)

So yesterday the heavens stayed clear, and we even got some sun out of the deal, and what do I do but spend it in a lecture hall. But all was good. TheDIY - Philadelphia conference went on at the University of the Arts downtown in Philly, and there was a good turn-out of people.

Why did I go to a DIY - conference when I already did it myself? Well to put it simple one film is not enough, and as the DIY mantra is: Fund, Create, Distribute, Sustain. There were some interesting individuals who gave some interesting lectures. Esther Robinson of Arthome gave an interesting lecture on Clarity & fearlessness. In her lecture she told it like it is, and that credit can be a GOOD thing. An interesting statement she said was "build your future & don't deny your existence." I think it was something like that. Lance Weiler was there too talking about his experiences, and what he's doing. Mr. Weiler had some interesting thoughts, and he seemed to be running the show as well, so he as a busy guy.

Douglas Rushkoff also gave a fantastic key-note address, and it made me think about how we tell stories in general. Nina Paley was also there and she gave us a breakdown on her film "Sita Sings the Blues" where she released the film FREE. Yep! That's right she released a film free, and strangely enough is making money off it. I swear Ms Paley I'll buy a DVD next paycheck.

I'll probably blog a bit more about all this since I have a lot of material from the conference, and I'm still digesting it all. I kind of stayed in the background and just listened. I did have some DVD's of my film, but I didn't see a point. I know the realities of DIY, and though I think it's great I do think you need to have $$$$ in the first place to launch your film. The reality is that there is so much out there and a film like mine seems to have a hard time competing with everything out there. Maybe it's because I don't yell loud enough or often enough, but as one speaker said yesterday it's hard to stretch yourself. Between the day gig, family and other things it's difficult to stay on top of what you need to do for your project. So that's my problem in a nut shell.

Yet I was still jazzed at seeing other filmmakers like myself at the conference. I mean there's a whole lot of us, and that's important to know. I do have a problem with the insular way these types of groups form. I know that it was an academic facility that was hosting the conference, but I wanted more DIY grunts as I call them. People doing their own thing from outside of academia. There are a lot of artists who are doing it, but the problem is that we are isolated in our art. Esther Robinson said it in her lecture that it is "dangerous to work as a project by project culture". I whole heartily agree. Such realities as rent, health insurance, mortgages for some, and the daily grinds of everyday life can be disheartening to an artist and can take the wind out of any creative persons sails.

That's why I would have liked a bit more everyday reality projected into the conference. Hey but maybe some other time. I still think it's a good foot forward idea, and it's great to see and hear other creative people coming together and talking to each other. Can't wait to do it again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

First off my oldest loves Transformers, and my youngest likes the smack downs that the robots seem to get into. That said you have to take this review with some biased. Going into the movie I was unsure whether to have my boys see the film. I heard a lot about it, but in the end my boys desire to see it with his buddy was overwhelming, and so we ALL went.

To say that I was disappointed about all the swearing in the movie is an understatement, but then I'm not one to shelter my children. To say that my big boy loved is is an understatement. He did not get up once to use the restrooms. He was that engrossed into the film. My little one only liked the rock-em sock-em time when the robots battled. Hey what can you expect, and all the colorful language seemed to go right over his head.

We had FUN when we went to see this film. It was loud, long, and did I say LOUD! But it seems that is what we pay our money to see. In the end it's all about the merchandising of the film, and merchandise they do. Go to any Target and head on over to the toy department. Transformer mana from heaven for the little tike's.

But this is suppose to be a review of the film. Is it a well made film. I'd have to say no, but that's me. In time this will only serve as a live action cartoon like movie. There are a lot of plot holes throughout the movie, but again it's a movie, and it comes at you hard and fast. Did we have a good time watching this movie? Yeah you bet. hey even the wife liked it, and so that's why it's doing what it's doing. It's breaking box office because people want to be entertained, and there are some laughs in this, so it's not all serious rock-em, sock-em robots.

Some critics have talked about the two new Transformers that speak how should I say very "ghetto". Since the two robots in question were the comedic relief I kind of liked them. I understand some critics and some of the audience being put off by them, but I have to say that the movie is based on a toy, and a 80's cartoon. It's not masterpiece theater. This film will be out before November in time to be under the trees for Christmas, and that's when the studio makes a whole lot more money. Because kids watch their favorite films over and over and over again. I know I'll be hearing the soundtrack of this film for several years (~sigh).

In the end it's a fun film to see in the theaters. It's not high brow entertainment. It's just FUN, with a capital F, and I liked seeing my boys engrossed in the film. They LOVE Optimus Prime, and he's a pretty good character. So if you have little ones I'd say see it. If they have any questions later they'll ask you about it, but I'm telling you little boys loves dueling robots, and after all it's message is about co-operation, and doing what's right even though it may be the hard thing to do. With that I really can't complain.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

DIY -Days


I've been in a funk, and the only way I feel to get out of it is throw things in the air. Meet new people, hear creative people who may be in the same boat I'm in. Film making is not a solitary endeavor. It involves a lot of people, and so this seemed like a good forum to go to, and re-charge the batteries.

Writing can only take you so far. What I need and want is creative input. I've been seriously thinking of just saying no more, but a little inner voice says no, and I'm listening to it. Even my wife wants me to continue.

I've always said it takes energy to get a project off the ground, and maybe this conference may just do that. I've always been up front with people. If you tell them what you want to do maybe some others can figure out how to help you. You just need to get out there, so we'll see how it all works out.

Trust me I've been silent, but only for a reason. If I had anything worth saying I'd say it, but right now I don't. Figured posting about this event may interest others out there.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Francois Truffaut marathon


Quick set the VCR's or get the popcorn Turner Movie Classics is running a Truffaut marathon tonight.

Go now. It's almost time!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pathogen


Came across this web site, and found out that the lady who made this was only 12 years old. I haven't seen this film, and hope to see it some day, but it does my heart good hearing about such individuals

You can buy it for $8, and it has commentaries and a blooper reel. How cool is that. At least that's what the web site says. When you go and order the DVD it says the DVD is selling for $10. Whatever it's available.

The story is about a pathogen in the water that turns people into zombies. It seems also that some other filmmakers made a film about our young filmmaker called "Zombie Girl". Their film has been in Sundance '09, and AFI Dallas International film festival.
Sounds interesting by all accounts. Just figured I mention it here under new cinema.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

David Carradine 1936-2009

It has been reported that David Carradine was found dead in Bangkok where he was to begin filming a movie.

Carradine was 72, and had been in numerous movies. His most famous or I should say most memorable was that of Kwai Chang Caine of the series "Kung Fu" which aired in 1972 to 1975.

Over the many years, Carradine has appeared in over 200 motion pictures and television dramas, including numerous plays. He was also a producer, director, and writer, for the screen as well.

My favorite film of Carradine is Bound for Glory (1976) where he played Woody Guthrie. Hal Ashby directed the film. Carradine will be missed.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beginning Filmmaking (2009)

I caught this little documentary Thursday, and I still haven't forgotten about it. It is on HBO this week, so if your interested check HBO's programming. I believe it is on at 3 PM Saturday the 30th on HBO family. That's EST.

Why am I writing about this. In some way the documentary caught my interest. I had my oldest boy Kris with me, and we started to watch the film. He grew impatient, and at times lost interest in the program, but for me I was very interested in it.

The film is about filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt's attempt to interest his young daughter in filmmaking. He starts when she is four, and it ends when she turns five. It was interesting to see how a small child plays with a video camera. I myself have tried to instill my love for movies in my boys, but it has been a futile attempt. I learned that one cannot dictate what a child likes or dislikes. They are their own masters. I tried to do that with trying to do a small little film called "the last Barbecue".

My youngest turned out to be a ham, but my oldest was nervous, and unsure of himself. I did not get mad at them. I smiled and said it was okay. I've come to the conclusion that the boys love fantasy and action. Star Wars, dinosaurs, whales, and the ocean are what they dream about. Their creativity in their playing is a sign of some good story telling, and my oldest seems to like to write, and draw.

Getting back to the film "Beginning Filmmaking". I liked how the Mr. Rosenblatt let his daughter be her own person even though it was not what he would have liked. In the end it was heart warming to hear Rosenblatt's daughter, Ella, on what it was like to turn 5.

If you get a chance go watch it. I think you'll like it, and for the parents in the audience I know it will hit some familiar territory about parenting. For people who don't have families it will be an interesting look at a young girls journey into self expression. That's what this film does. It has something for everybody.

The film is 23 minutes long, and showing on HBO's family channel. Check your local listings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's Wrong with Dialogue


I saw this on in an article by Jane Ridley in the NY Daily News about Tarantino's next film "'Inglourious Basterds", which premiered at Cannes:

"However Jones attacks its length, adding: "its director should certainly have trimmed more of its flab".
Mike Goodridge of Screen International agrees. He says it "offers considerable challenges to the attention span of mainstream audiences" and "devotes much of the running time to dialogue"


I'm tired of people thinking dialogue is a waste, or boring. For those with short attention spans please leave, and keep playing your video games. I guess I can go on, and on about this, but if you take a look at a lot of the films of the 40's and 50's there was nothing but dialogue, and it was GOOD dialogue at that.

Maybe I'm an old fart, but damn just watch the movie for the story. If the dialogue is too pretentous you'll know. If you liked the movie good, but if you were bored by the all the dialogue stop going to movies. Instead just continue on going to those amusement parks. I'm sure you won't be bored there.

The article is pretty interesting about how critics see Tarantino. I've enjoyed his films, and he takes his material from some very obscure, but interesting films. Tarantino is also original, and I just want to say that. He's a favorite, and I'm sure his film will just do fine.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Star Trek (2009)


I've been a fan of the series for a long time, and hearing that they wanted to re-boot the series and show the original crew only younger I was a bit skeptical about the results.

Well rest assured my doubts as well as millions of others have been put to rest. J.J. Abrams has rebooted the series and as I've said before this Trek is not your fathers Trek, and that's a good thing. Origin movies are hard to do, but here Abrams does it well by casting some top notch actors in the roles that will clearly define their careers. Giving it an alternate reality is an interesting plot device, and having Lenord Nimoy in it kind of ties a nice bow on the trajectory of the Trek storyline.

I'm not sure about some plot holes in the movie that made me think WTF. It's only after I had viewed the film that I began thinking about the holes in the story, but then again Trek is meant to be a ride you don't forget or should I say an experience you bond not to forget. The core of the Trek series has always been the friendship between Spock and Kirk. In this film we see that bond begin.

It's a good summer movie. Hopefully the studio won't ruin it with stories that will be senseless and pointless to the franchise. I remember when Trek 2 came out and it was hailed as a very edgy Trek. Why it was called that was due to no small part to Mike Nichols who wrote an interesting and very personal Trek. It was in that movie that we saw how complex, and intricate the relationship between Spock and Kirk was. In the most recent one we get to see how it begins, and I hope the studio doesn't loose the focus on what the series is all about. In the end Trek is about the dream that man gets to explore space, and explore. It's a view of the future that has hope, and that humankind has a destiny. Maybe I'm reading too much into the series, but as a little boy it was those story lines that made me watch the series so intently. That is what is at the heart of Trek, and its characters are beloved folk hero's in American pop culture.

It's well worth the time if your a fan. If your not a fan you may want to skip it, but I think you'll enjoy it even if your not a fan, and that is what Paramount Pictures wants. After all it's a re-boot, and this isn't your fathers Trek. This Trek is meant to be for another younger generation, and hopefully not anger the loyal following it already has. Because after all what Mel Brooks said in "Space Balls" is true. "Merchandising, merchandising, merchandising", so viva the franchise!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The State of Things


Last night I was watching "Frozen River" the indie film starring Melissa Chessington Leo in a breath taking performance of a single women raising two boys. I was a bit saddened to see that she did not get the academy award for her performance in the film. I hope to see her someday again real soon in another film. But this is not really about the film "frozen River" or Melissa Chessington Leo performance. Instead it's about indie film in general.

There are so many other people out there who have more experience in this train of thought then I do, but since I did make a film, and have tried to get it shown I figured I could add my voice to all those other voices. As many of you who know I'm not a fan of the "mumblecore" films. In fact I just don't see how these films make any money at all. I see films like Susan Buice's and Arin Crumley's film "Four Eyed Monsters" and admire the work they put into that particular film. I even bought the first pressing of the DVD because I missed it when it was playing here in Philly. And there is the point. How does one make a film and make any money back when we live in a society where we are bombarded with so much information, and product?

I'm a married guy with two boys who has a day job that keeps him busy. I do live in a metropolitan city where art films do come, but can I afford a train ride to and from where I live, the price of a ticket, and a meal all to see an indie film that I know I'll enjoy, but be tapped out after seeing it. Why not just rent a movie from one of the DVD kiosks that have popped up in many local supermarkets. There it's about a buck a night, and I can watch it in my own home. Of course that would be after the kids are asleep, and that's if the lady of the house isn't too tired from her day also. Because lets face it seeing a movie alone especially a indie film is no fun alone. But I digress I guess. This is about "indie" films making money.

"Frozen River" was distributed by Sony Pictures Classic, and guess what their no longer a company. According to box office the film made a little over 2 million. After seeing the film I have strong doubts that the film ever showed a profit, but i could be wrong. I haven't seen the DVD sales, and I'm sure the DVD marketing is touting the movies theatrical release. Again It's a GREAT little film, but how do you make a film like this and make ANY money. "Slumdog" hit the jackpot, but that was a studio hyped film. It had a slow roll out and the company saw it had legs and so it struck more prints, and then went national. One film out of who knows makes it, and that's even very optimistic.

So again how do we as filmmakers make ANY money off our work. The Internet is an answer, but again a lot of the studios have co-oped the marketing and selling of films here on the net. Niche film making is good, and profitable, but you need to make sure that your product isn't more then your overhead. There are some filmmakers out there that are doing it, but I actually question a lot of their figures. The film business is not known for its transparency. In fact it hides its stats and figures like a close guarded secret.

I've wrestled with continuing on in my film making endeavors, and I really don't know what I'll do. I keep moving forward, and I grow weary of the game. It's all about perspective I guess, and priorities. I still have a deep love for film making, and would like to do some more films, but there are other things in life that I love doing, and I don't want to ignore them. Is all this "indie" talk just BS?, or is it something that may transform "indie" film making. Maybe that something will propell indie film making into a new direction, and onto a new plateau. As for right now I still think some interesting films are being made, but is there an audience who will go and see these films? The answer for me is that there isn't, and the business is transforming into something else. Everyone is trying to second guess what that is, but I don't believe anyone knows.

I still think Coppola was right about the farm girl in Idaho making something on her laptop that will blow distributors and audiences minds. It's being done everyday, but in what shape or form is any body's guess. Well that's my two cents, and for what it's worth I'd like to believe something unique is coming and that it will propel cinema into a new stratosphere of creativity and story telling. How cool would that be? We shall see.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dom Deluise 1933-2009


I hate writing these. I enjoyed Mr. Deluise's performances, and I even watching him on the Dean Martin Variety show way back in my youth. So it's with a heavy heart that I write about his death. I could go on and on about his credits, and his biography, but I'll leave that to the pros. I just loved him as an entertainer. Mr. Deluise made me and my family laugh. In good times and in bad times. In a way that's what a true star does. He or she makes us forget our dismal little problems for a moment, and makes us laugh. Mr. Deluise had done so much that he brought joy and laughter to so many of us.

It saddens me to hear about a loss of such talent, but the best thing is that he left a lifetime of work for us to watch, and laugh all over again.

Good night sweet prince. You made us laugh with you, and you will be missed by many. God speed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And the Frenzy stops!


I've finished my script, and became a winner in the 2009 script Frenzy. I used new screenwriting software called Celtx, and it worked for me pretty good. I would thoroughly suggest using the software if you're starting out. It's free, and really it has some great features.

The script turned out to be 107 pages, and though I know it's all in the re-write I think I can be proud of the script. It's from the heart, and I wrote on what I knew about. I'm sure I can write a better script, but right now I love this one, and I guess that happens with every writer.

I have heard about doing a feature in two weeks on Twitter. I have to say I'm intrigued, but there is so much to think about, and there are a lot of limitations, but I do like a challenge.

It reminds me about the time I read about Roger Corman's film "Little Shop of Horrors". It was made on a bet that Corman could make a movie in 2 days using sets that were standing form other movies. I have to say that is intriguing.

Right now I'll bask in the after glow of writing a pretty good script, and to think I finished just in time for my birthday. It's going to be a good May Day! Remember filmmakers. UNITE we have nothing to loose but our chains.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jack Cardiff 1914-2009


I just found out that Jack Cardiff died today. Wikipedia describes Cardiff's career as: "spanning the development of cinema, from silent film, through early experiments in Technicolor (and, less successfully, Smell-o-vision), to film making in the 21st century. He was best known for his influential cinematography for directors such as Powell, Huston and Hitchcock." I knew him as an innovator of Technicolor film, and for his film "Black Narcissus" (1947). A lot of his early work was shot in the studio, yet it didn't look it. It is a testimonial to his skill as a director of photography that his films still are admired and loved.

Cardiff won his cinematography Oscar for the 1947 film "Black Narcissus", which was directed by the legendary duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Cardiff received two more nominations in the same category for "War and Peace" in 1956 and "Fanny" in 1961.*

Jack Cardiff was a legend," said British Film Institute Director Amanda Nevill.

"He was a world-class cinematographer who pioneered the techniques of shooting in Technicolor. "He made a unique contribution to some of the greatest films ever made."

It always sad to say good-bye to such a talented man, but it is always great to have his material available for us to enjoy over and over again.

If you like to see some stills and listen to Cardiff talk about his photography, and his film career go to Cardiffs web site. He was an astounding still photographer also.


* AFP

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Frenzy & the Documentary!


Dear Dad from Karl Bauer on Vimeo.

It's been crazy, and exhilarating all at the same time. When I do something I seem to tax all my resources, and push everything too the limit. I'm on page 59 on my script about my dad. It's gotten a bit difficult as I get up there on pages, but I'm getting there. Since I'm basing some of this on things that have happened it sometimes gets a bit painful to write. But it's amazing how much I forgot too. In these past few days I've been talking to people, and letting them tell me about how they saw things. Sometimes it's like Rashômon and at other times it's amazing how certain memories trigger others.

The above clip is part of the documentary about my dad. It has no music to it, and it's my voice that's narrating it, and I'm a bit uncomfortable hearing my voice, but it is a start. There is so much more to do, and I'd like to hear less of me and more of others, but that may be difficult since there are very few who are alive now who really knew my dad. But I figured I manage, and I did say I would try and post my progress, so here it is. Comments are always welcomed. I've been video taping my mom, and that's kind of fun. I hope to do more this week.

To inspire me I watched "Italian American" by Scorsese. Scorsese did a little documentary on his parents back in 1974 which is pretty neat. I like how his subjects do the talking, and how intimate it is. It's well done, and I'm pretty sure Scorsese shot this in 16mm. It's on YouTube if your interested. I'll post the first ten minutes below. It's a good lesson on how to make an interesting documentary, and it's really entertaining.

It's been interesting. I'm not totally satisfied with the script, or the documentary, but it'll evolve. The one thing I can say at lest is that I'm doing something I love, and that's important. Not doing was killing me, and doing something for yourself is quite rewarding. We'll see how it all goes. Of course there are a lot of other thoughts running around the old noggin, but lets finish some projects before we start others.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Frenzy is on...

So I've been writing. Twenty pages in, and closing in on finishing the first act. I have to say I'm exceeding my goals here, but I have a feeling as I get more into it I'll have a bit more of a problem. I do know how I want to end the script, and I do have some ideas for the middle, but the hardest thing for me to write is the son's part. Funny isn't that. Now I'm not basing it the son's character on me, but I would be lying to you if I said the character wasn't a bit of me. They say write what you know. Isn't that the key? Well I am and it seems to be flowing.

What frustrates me is that I'm not writing it to a particular budget. Right now it's pie in the sky for me. If I didn't do that I would have limited myself even more, and that would have hurt the story. So I'm writing for story sake. Not for budget. I doubt I could even put this into production, but the script is getting the creative juices flowing again, and I think I can do some justice to the story. I don't hate it, and that's not a bad thing for me. I just need to keep at it.

Last night I was watching TMC, and they had "Satuday night, Sunday Morning" which was Albert Finney's first part. I remember seeing it in film school, and it came back to me slowly. I like how the director Karel Reisz shot it, and used music to inspire a theme. (See the trailer below for an example of the music) Reisz would also do two other films I liked called The Gambler with James Caan, and The French Lieutenant's Woman with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. Seeing Saturday night, Sunday Morning kind of inspired me, and it jolted me into thinking on how powerful silence is sometimes in the cinema. Sometimes a shot is worth a thousand words.

Maybe that's what is making me write, but I want to take this writing assignment seriously. I'm not the greatest writer, but with practice i can get better, and with some editing a good screenplay can be a great screenplay. Hey right now the creative muse is singing, and who am I to argue. As for now the FRENZY continues. Let's see how it all works out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Write you bastard, Just Write!

Okay in for a penny, in for a pound. I've decided to go all in. Why not? Script Frenzy is happening in April. It's where you need to write a 100 page screenplay by the end of April. No prizes, no competition, just writing for writings sake. I was a bit dubious at first, but I like what these mad men & women propose.

My screenwriting teacher back in the day told me it all happens in "your head". She was SO right there. We can be are worst enemies sometimes. This wouldn't be my first script, but it would be one for fun. For the sheer whim. I have two or three ideas, but I'm not sure of what I really want. So between my fathers little documentary, script frenzy, and real life my plate is full.

Hope I haven't bitten off more then I can chew. But sometimes you just got to shut-up, and do. Let's see how it works out shall we.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shadow World year two


Shadow Word: year 2 - 02. He's the Bad One from David S Kessler on Vimeo.

I like to call attention to people I think are talented and doing great work. One of them is David Kessler. He's an artist here in Philly who is doing some great video work on the streets of Philly. Head on over to his sight. He's doing episodes now in HD, and their interesting. I like his stuff, and he has a very keen eye. If I had some extra money I'd throw some his way, so if you do have some extra cash he has a donation button on his site. It's called Shadow World 2, and he puts together great pieces of art and social commentary without hitting us over the head with commentary. Instead he lets his subjects do the talking. Above is one of his newest videos which I liked. Take a look you won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Documenting Dad Part 1

Wow it seems like I've been lax and not done much here, but instead review movies I've seen. I have seen some interesting and inspiring films of late, but that's for another time. I wanted this to be about my film making exploits, and of late it hasn't. Maybe that's because of the day job and the grind, but I have to say that it's me too. It's my fault for not being inspired, and not taking the time to do what I truly love to do.

The thing is I just don't want to waste MY time. Finite resources, and finite budget, or should I say no-budget can only mean that I need to be creative in what I do. They say when you do a documentary you start off with an idea on what you want to do. Eventually it is what you shoot that dictates what you create. Ken Burns does a lot with archival footage and mixes it with interviews, and readings of letters and excerpts of books. I like what he does with that, but it does feel a bit anylitical. Movies like "Grey Gardens" or "Salesmen" are more viseral, and more impactful because WE see and HEAR the subject. There is no narrator to tell you the story.

In my quest to make a video about my dad it got more and more like that. I'm still trying to get the audio tapes transfered to a digital format, but even with those tapes it's hard to get to know the man except by second hand accounts. I am his son, and I do have my mother, but all that knew him as a young man are gone, and so I need to extrapolate from what I know to get a sort of picture of my dad as a young man. That's where the history comes in. I've been going over the historical timeline of when my dad grew-up. It is of a period of two world wars, a depression, and a demise of a country.

So I've been accumulating stock footage, and pictures, but it's hard to piece it all together. It's also hard being that it is my dad. Being objective is kind of hard. I'm still working on it, but it more difficult then I realized. At this point I don't know the length or the scope of the film.

As you can see it's hard to see where this might go. I have about two minutes of the film done, but there is a lot more to go, and I'm not 100% happy with the beginning. Maybe it's my own narration. I've set up a microphone connected to a DV camera near my computer. It's a better mic then what I recorded on at first, but I felt maybe I need to do a bit more narration that is scripted. Sort of setting up the time, and the place. I'll try and post the first minute or two next post and see if I can get some opinions from anyone reading this blog. I'd certainly appreciate it.

Till next time thanks for reading.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Taking Chance (2009)



HBO premiered a film last week called "Taking Chance". It stars Kevin Bacon as a soldier who escorts a fallen comrade back home to be buried. The film is short, and long in emotion. The film is directed by Ross Katz who was a producer on "lost in Translation" & "In the Bedroom". The film is written by Katz, and Michael Strobl, and it is a credit to them on how well they get it. PFC Chance Phelps was a real soldier who died in Iraq. Lt. Col. Michael Strobl was the soldier who escorted him back home, and he wrote the story about his experience taking PFC Phelps back home. It is due to this that it feels so real. There is no statements about the war, or agenda in the film. All it shows is how we honor the men that have fallen, and how they touch our lives.

Gone are the days where people spat on our soldiers and called them monsters, yet it still remains in our collective consciousness. After all it wasn't too long ago that this happened. Maybe and possible we feel guilt because of what happened back then. After all these people who wore the uniform weren't responsible for our countries foreign policy. They were following orders, and had no choice. This is what makes "Taking Chance" such a moving piece. Because here WE get it. Here WE understand the sacrifice, and here WE are shown it.

Taking Chance tries to show us the dignity and respect our military gives each fallen soldier. It also about LtCol Mike Strobl journey and how it changes him. There is not much dialogue here. All is said with images. Kevin Bacon gives a fine performance as LtCol Mike Strobl, and his facial expressions say more then words could have said. One reviewer called this a "Tone poem", and I whole heartedly agree.

On a personal note I found myself a bit emotional throughout the film. Why I can't say. Maybe it's in the eyes of my boys that I see this story. War touches us all, and with ever death we are diminished as a society and country. Katz gets it, and he understands it. Even a person like myself who knows nothing of military life. This is a finely crafted piece of filmmaking, and one that is worth seeing. It's currently playing on HBO's on-demand. Do yourself a favor and watch some good filmmaking, and a powerful story unfold. At the end we are even given a glimpse of PFC Phelps as a child growing up. It drives the story home, and makes one appreciate the sacrifice this young man made.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

WatchMen (2009)


I really didn't want to start my 300th post here with another review, but after seeing the movie "Watchmen" today I had to. Seems that there is interest, so let the debate begin. First of all is this one that I recommend. I'd have to say that with an "enthusiastic" YES!

Watchmen is yesterdays "Blade Runner". What do I mean by that? Well I remember seeing Ridley Scott's masterpiece way back when it came out in 1982. Even back then I knew I was seeing something special. I think even when the studio saw it they didn't understand it, and they screwed up the directors vision. Luckily with DVD we can now see Scott's film the way he wanted it. They even re-released the film in some theaters, which was great to see.

Watchmen on the other hand doesn't suffer from what "Blade Runner" did. Here the creators and the studios involved got it. Watchmen was something different. It was revolutionary when it came out in comic book form, which eventually became the graphic novel. I am and have not been a connoisseur of the graphic novel, but I am a lover of comic books. By the time the graphic novel became big I was away from comic books for some time. I still love the medium, and have great respects fir its creators. In fact my interest with "Wachmen" has peeked my interest into the graphic novel. I bought one today in fact. But let's get back to the film.

Is the Watchmen a good film. Yes I have to say. Zack Snyder does a good job here translating the novel into a cinematic journey of epic proportions. I am also very interested in the creators of the graphic novel, and have had interests in their story as well. Both Alan More and Dave Gibbons seem to be interesting storytellers, and I'm fascinated by Moore not wanting his name on the film. But that said I can't say that the film is less of a film without him. In fact I think the filmmakers and the studios stayed pretty close to the graphic novel almost to a fault.

The film seems to be episodic in nature, and maybe this is true because it was a comic book at one time, but on its own "Watchmen" works as a film. Some images are startling and breathtaking to look at, and the story is deeply layered here. It takes the superhero in areas that haven't been explored as much, and one of them is why do they do what they do? The performances were good. Some have complained that the performances weren't as good, but it didn't distract me from the story here.

I think what the studios and the filmmakers have done is create a film that will be watched often in the decades to follow. People will study the detail of this film. The art direction is fantastic. Even it's length did not bother me. Being a first time viewer of the "Watchmen" I knew nothing of them, and after the film ended I wanted to know more about their back story. Zack Snyder dose a great job here. The beginning sequence sets everything up, and it delivers.

Some have complained that it may be too unfamiliar to people, and that people will tune out, but I disagree. It drew me in, and I liked the back story. Even having it set back in 1985 was a very interesting thing for the original creators to do. If your looking for a standard superhero movie this isn't it. This one has some very dark elements, and it works. It's not a movie for the kiddies, but it works for us adults, and I really do think it is a film that can be put into a category of "great storytelling" movies. This movie breaks the mold of the superhero saga, and it deliciously fun to watch.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blood, Boobs and Beast (2007)


John Paul Kinhart's documentary "Blood, Boobs, and Beast" is a loving tribute to the filmmaker Don Dohler. Don who you say? Well Dohler was a filmmaker who gained some prominence back in the early 70's and 80's for his B-films. He is most known for such films as "The Alien Factor", "Fiend", and "Night Beast". All productions that were lovingly created in Dohler's backyard of Baltimore. For the record I have to say that I was exposed to Dohler with his publication Cinemagic which I read voraciously in my youth. I am such a fan that I pre-ordered my DVD back in November of last year.

I was one of Dohler's kids I guess. I carried my cinemagic's around with me and learned from the articles on how to create some cool special effects with my Super-8 camera. From scratching laser blasts into the celluloid, to creating forced perspective shots I did it all. Getting the magazine in the mail was exciting, and it revealed a world of other filmmakers. It's hard to believe that before the Internet there were fanzines that connected readers to the things that they loved.

In todays market the films of Dohler are a bit cheesy and out dated, but they still contain the heart in which they were made. "Blood Boobs, and Beast" is a documentary that tries to capture what Dohler was doing. In later years Dohler rekindled his passion for film making and started a film company called Time Warp Films. Such films as "Harvester", "Vampire Sisters", and "Stakes" were created as low budget video fare to try and get back to filmmaking, but as this film shows it seems as though Dohler was less happy with the results. His fight for telling a story and making an exploitative film was at odds with himself and his partners. You can see Dohler was a gentleman who didn't like the exploitative elements in most B-films.

I'd like to thank the filmmakers for showing that side of Dohler, and showing us a bit more of Dohlers private life. Dohler knew what was important in life. Instead of going to a meeting he instead sticks around to see his grandson being born. His love for his disabled sister is touching and thought provoking. Even how he handles death both his late wife's and his own is courageous. But here is where I have a problem with the film.

I wanted to see more of that. The private man struggling to tell stories he loves to do, while at the same time struggling with a balance between family and obsession. In this case filmmaking. Everyone marginalizes Dohler as a filmmaker, and I find that sad. It probably funny to think that Dohler wouldn't care one way or the other about all this since he did what he did for love of the genre. In the end I felt a bit sad after watching "Blood Boobs, and Beast", and realized that a man of Don Dohler's caliber comes along only a few times during a lifetime if that, and it was sad to know that he is not with us any more.

In the end the documentary is a beautiful tribute, but one that could have been so much better had they explored more of Dohler's character, and less on the triviality of making a film. The film comes with one of Dohler's films "Nightbeast", and though I haven't watched it yet I'll raise a glass in his honor when I view it. Mr. Dohler you left us too soon. God bless!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Regional filmmaking going global



I've always thought that regional filmmaking was the future. This tells us abuot "Nollywood." The filmmaking community in Nigeria. We sort of have this in the United States. Take a look at some studios and distributors such as "Tempe Video".

Nothing new, and I'm sure as time goes by there will be more "Nollywoods".

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Auditions

I held auditions 4 months before we started shooting Deadly Obsessions. I had originally wanted to shoot sometime in July, but August wound up as a better month for all of us. Before that I looked through hundreds of head shots that were mailed to me after putting a casting notice in Backstage. I found a rehearsal hall in Manhattan near 23rd street, and that's where I held it. My wife, and my father-in-law Sal went with me, and that day we saw a couple of actors. Phyllis set-up a small spread of bagels, and coffee and we began casting early after 9 AM. I had emailed, and/or sent the actors sides of the script. The sides were of two scenes and I was casting for the four main characters. This scene is of Karen Stanion, and Irene Glezos reading. Karen is playing the part of Rebecca, but in the film she plays Lisa. Michelle Verhoeven eventually played Rebecca, and I'll put that audition up next. Since the scene is long I figured I break it up here. I think through this clip you'll see how GOOD the actors really are. Remember this is a cold read, and we all haven't met before. I gave some direction, but not much. More back story of the character then what their individual motivation is.

I wanted to include these auditions on the DVD, but I couldn't due to the space of the DVD. If I wanted it I would have to have gone to a larger disk, and that was a lot more money. So it'll live here on-line. This is where I got my first taste of directing real actors, and I LOVED it. What a rush it was, and they brought so much to the film. Hearing the dialogue now I kind of cringe, but in the movie the actors really did refine it, and made it there own. First lesson in directing is stay true to the script, but don't be rigid in your direction. Give the actors some freedom to interpret the lines and make it their own. It'll sound better. I just wish I would have done this more. A bit more rehearsal and we could have done a better job, but time and money were against us. Next time I guess. I shot this with my Hi-8 video camera, and had a tripod, but sometimes I got bored, and wanted to get closer and more intimate with the actors, so sorry for the NYPD Blue cinematography. It did it's job, and I really studied the tapes after. Also I had another lady helping me in casting. Her name is Rebecca Lyttle, and she even auditioned for the part of Monica. I'll show her a bit later. She was a big help, and was my objective eye, and a great sounding board.

Hope you enjoy it, and get something out of it.


Audition Tape # 1 from Karl Bauer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Time to kick the tires, and light the fires!

What is he talking about? I guess that's what your saying about now. Actually it was a line from "Independence Day" that Harry Connick Jr. says to Will Smith. Hey since I'm such a cinephile you know a movie quote was the only way I could express myself. Okay buddy I got the line, but what do you mean by it?

Simple. I need to make a film. What film?, and what type of film I can only surmise would be a documentary of sorts. Who of you ask? Well I figured I start with my dad. I've been obsessed about his life since he became sick, and then passed away. Dad wasn't the most talkative person around, and he was pretty obstinate, but he was dad and we loved him. So what has this got to do about film making?

Dad would say if you're a filmmaker "make me a film". It's that simple, and since my resources are stretched at the moment I figured I better do something that was a bit personal. I have been writing on and off about a man who suffers from Alzheimer's and who in his declining years goes through some life changing events. Yes I based that man on my father, and our relationship. But sometimes I get stuck. There are gaps in my dad's history that I know little about, and even my mom knows little. My father's generation wasn't the most talkative, and a lot of history goes down the drain, yet it is a part of you. After all I owe my mom & dad my life. It's amazing to me how two individuals came together and feel in love, and ultimately spawned yours truly. I mean all that could have gone wrong, and all the circumstances it took for two people to meet can be quite revealing. Why, when, and how are all questions that we should know. Remember action speaks louder then words, and what your parents did speaks volumes on who you are.

Not that I'm unique. I think in some ways we all have interesting stories to tell that get lost to time. This is my way of capturing that time. There is so much to know and do, and yet it starts with setting up a camera and pressing record. Why do we make it so complicated? When I was younger I made films almost every other week-end. It was just as hard if not harder back then. I mean did you ever edit super-8 footage. It was like tackling spaghetti, and let's not forget about how editing sound was a bit tricky always cutting ahead of the picture because the sound was ahead of the image.
The trick is how do I go about getting Dad's history down on tape when he isn't here to tell me about it? I am fortunate enough to have audio tapes of him talking to his sister in Germany. I've been trying to find a reel to reel tape player that plays these tapes. They are special because on one channel is my dad talking, and on the other is him talking in reverse. You see my dad recorded on one side of the tape, and at the end he would flip it over and record on the other half of the tape. Playing one channel at a time isn't a problem it's also finding a tape player that plays the tape back at the right speed it was recorded at which I'm finding difficulty in. I have methods of trying to retrieve the audio, but it is time consuming. In the meanwhile I need to talk to people who knew him, and record them. If anyone knows of a better method out there to help me with my audio tape problem please let me know. I'd be eternally grateful.

I promised myself I would do something worthwhile, and so this is it. I'm also writing other stories as well, but those stories aren't ready yet. So I'm putting it down here on the web for everyone to see. That way there are no excuses. Maybe if I slack off there will be a few of you to remind me about this project. In other words I need other people to light that fire under my ass.

I know the excuses. No money, and no time, but those are excuses. The best work, and the best art is made when an artist is pushed to the wall. When he or she has no alternative but to create. That's when the rubber meets the road, and that's when you know your either a filmmaker or a one trick pony.

I'm four posts away from 300 posts for this blog. I'd like to make these a bit special, so I'll try and go over how "Deadly Obsessions" was pulled off. I have some casting videos I did, and you can see how and why I cast the people I did. I'll also post the making of my little documentary here, and try and be a bit more transparent about the film making process. Like I said it's time to light the fires.

I have some other projects I'd like to do, but they need to be more fleshed out. There is a lot of interesting people doing some interesting things out there. I think the time for excuses for me is at an end. I either need to move forward, or stop this dreaming, and that's something I really can't do. After all a man with no dreams is a man who is living half a life, so I'll Catch you all later. Wish me luck.