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.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Wrestler (2008)

Okay where do I begin? "The Wrestler" is a movie filled with heart & brutality, and it is Mickey Rourke's portrayal of Randy 'The Ram' Robinson that makes this film what it is. There are also great performances by Marisa Tomei as Cassidy, and Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie Robinson. Darren Aronofsky is the director of this film and again like with Pi and Requiem for a Dream Aronofsky creates a world that you cannot take your eyes off of. When you think the film is going one way Aronofsky takes you in a different direction.

There is so much that could have gone wrong with this film that doesn't. Robert D. Siegel wrote the "Wrestler", and in it their is a lot of truth in it. The film is about Randy 'The Ram' Robinson who after twenty years is still wrestling. Only this time it's to smaller crowds, and less money. Robinson works in a supermarket, and lives in a trailer park. He frequents a strip club where
Marisa Tomei's character Cassidy works. Though you think there are some sparks between the wrestler and the stripper there are problems, and Aronofsky takes us on a real journey into reality where there are no Hollywood endings. Not to give the ending away, but the end winds up realistic and satisfying. In the end I guess it's the only way the film could have ended without it being phony.

The two glimpses that Aronofsky gives us into Marisa Tomei's character Cassidy and Mickey Rourke's character Randy 'The Ram' Robinson are two sides of the coin. It is when the spirit is strong and the body is weak from age. In a way the movie sang to me about growing old, and dreams dying hard. Something that isn't easy to write about and less easier to film. The cinematography enhances the films look and feel. There is a lot of hand held work which I thought a bit daring, but probably more necessary since the production shot in real locations. The grain in the picture seems excessive, but I like the look, and it works for the film.

On NPR the program Fresh Air did an interview with Aronofsky which should be heard if your a filmmaker or are interested in how low budget film making works. Of course that said "The Wrestler" was shot for $6 million dollars, and to Hollywood that is very low. It was only on the festival circuit that the film finally got picked up by Fox Searchlight pictures. To date the film has made over $13 million, and that's only in limited release. Both Rourke and Tomei are both nominated for Academy awards, and deservedly so. I know I'll be rooting for Rourke & Tomei, and if the Academy does pass them over I will seriously curse out the TV set. It's great to hear about the awards that it is garnering, and I hope it translates into money for the picture. This film has heart, and in some way I'd like to see it get the acknowledgement it deserves.

I can't say enough good things about this film. You'll come out of it feeling exhilarated, and singing some pretty old 80's medal songs. Bruce Springsteen wrote a song for the movie, and it works so well here. The song sums the movie up and gives the film meaning. You will be humming it as you walk out the theater door. The film is rough, and shows how wrestling has changed, and there is no shortage of blood here. Rourke's performance is fantastic. I've been a sort of admirer of his since The Pope of Greenwich Village, and though he has been in some awful movies he still is one hell of an actor. It's very interesting to hear Aronofsky talk about doing ad-lib in the film with Rourke. In an interview Aronofsky says of Rourke that he has more talent in his pinkie then most actors have in their whole body, and he is right. The Wrestler proves that. Pairing Rourke here with Marisa Tomei is also a casting coups d'├ętat. Having such high caliber actors in a film with a good story is what makes this film special. There are no phony performances here. All feels real, and it is. It is this no holds bar look into the movies characters lives that sells the film along with strong direction by Darren Aronofsky. Go see "The Wrestler" I don't think you'll regret it if you like good cinema.