Thursday, August 31, 2006

Folk Wisdom 013

The Romans create a desolation and call it peace.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I told you not to call me here!

Summer of '03. On location in Geneva, NY for ROAD as Production Designer.

Walk Like An Egyptian

Ever wonder why Egyptians are depicted in such a contorted fashion? In a word, essentializing. Each body part was recorded in its most characteristic aspect. The face and feet in profile combined with frontal shoulders and hips. A very strange contortion to our eyes.
Film editing treats its subjects in the same manner, cutting from one angle to the next in order to reveal the subjects most characteristic aspect.
John Cassavetes rails against essentializing. He claims it is dishonest and artificial. Maybe. Or could it be that getting to the most revealing thing through the artificial means of film editing is as, or perhaps ever more, truthful than following your wife and your friends around with a camera?
In two or three thousand years, assuming celluloid lasts that long and anybody is left on this globe to view it, will the grammar of our films seem as absurd and contorted as Egyptian wall painting does to us? Will they sing a silly song about us?
Walk like an hollywoodian.

Signore Direttore

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Master Says 050

I write to discover the next room of my fate.

Saul Bellow


My friend Michael got married yesterday. It was a beautiful ceremony attended by many friends and family from both near and far.
I was touched.
Congratulations Mike and Laura. May your happiness together continue.

Molto amore,
Signore Direttore

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Master Says 049

Most movies use music the way athletes use steroids. There's no question that you can induce a certain emotion with music -- just like steroids build up muscle. It gives you an edge, it gives you a speed, but it's unhealthy for the organism in the long run.

Walter Murch

The Master Works 002

Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola

The Compound Scene - Capt. Willard/Martin Sheen goes to the intelligence compound to get his orders. He sits down for a meal with the general, his aide-de-camp and a man in plainclothes, presumably CIA. Everyone but Willard looks directly into the camera, but they don't seem to be looking at the audience. There's an extreme sense of subjectivity that makes it seem as if they're looking at Willard. Willard looks just to the left of the camera according to film grammar conventions. In doing so he seems to avoid their eyes. His hangover his emphasized by this as well as the drifting camera. The cameraman was Italian and Coppola told him in Italian to pan the camera whenever he got bored. So the camera drifts away from the speaker mid-sentence at times. The camera comes to a rest on Willard for the last shot of the scene. He looks directly into camera. The effect isn't like the others, he's not looking back at them. He's looking right at us, as if to say, Can you believe this shit?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Folk Wisdom 012

Insights do not produce growth until they are accompanied by specific actions.

or, as my buddy Carl Gustav-Scott was fond of saying:

Willingness without action is fantasy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Folk Wisdom 011

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Master Says 048

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the
direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things
behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will
begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded,
and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the
license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws
of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor
poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your
work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under

Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Master Says 047

To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

The Master Says 046

There's no democracy on a film set. The director has a vision of the film that he has to get into the heads of everyone involved.

Roman Polanski

Thursday, August 17, 2006


If you have this enormous talent, it's got you by the balls, it's a demon. You can't be a family man and a husband and a caring person and be that animal. Dickens wasn't that nice a guy. - Dustin Hoffman

I envy people who can just look at a sunset. I wonder how you can shoot it. There is nothing more grotesque to me than a vacation. - Dustin Hoffman

I wouldn't go so far as to call my talent enormous, but I have been on the fence about the demons of ambition and talent versus being a family man for several years. I've been leaning toward community and quiet for some time however. There have been hiccups and burps recently -- likely last ditch attempts at rebellion. Both in spite of and because of all of my actions and attitudes I continue to find my true center.
I want to look at sunsets.
Nothing is more grotesque to me than the lost souls, liars, self-important careerists and fame seekers that I regularly encounter in the film world. My recent trip to SoCal beaches and Disneyland with my wife and children was anything but grotesque.
JD Salinger inscribes one of his books to the amatuer reader with a doubt that the amateur reader still exists. I want to read for pleasure. As I want to watch and make films.
I could walk away from all of this right now. I'm not going to - not because it has me by the balls - simply because it's what I do.

Signore Dilettante

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Folk Wisdom 010

To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.

Mother Teresa

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Master Says 045

The best thing that can come with success is the knowledge that it is nothing to long for.

Liv Ullmann

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Master Works 001

The Marraige of Maria Braun
Rainer Maria Fassbinder

Maria Braun is on the bed with her lover, a black American soldier, when her long lost husband Hermann walks into the room. Hermann is a former Nazi officer married to Maria during the last days of the Third Reich. Maria (Hanna Schygulla) looks up, smiles and quietly says, "Hermann." She is happy to see him, yet remains gently between the two men. She neither rejects nor embraces either. Her strength of character is something to envy - the ability to accept oneself so completely. She embraces all of herself at once - her true love and her present lover - apologizing to nor for either.
The film is part of Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy. As Maria Braun symbolized the Bundes Republik der Deutschland, this moment serves as a perfect symbol of then West Germany caught between its Nazi past and its US Armed Forces occupation.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Master Says 044

Bus stop, wet day, she's there, I say
Please share my umbrella
Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella, we employed it
By August, she was mine

The Hollies

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Master Says 043

I do films to be behind the camera, not in front of the camera. I'm sure I say very intimate things about myself in all my films, but it's better to say it not too directly, to be hidden behind a woman.

Francois Ozon

Stepping In Three Times

Hou Tsien Tsien's Three Times played at the Whitsell Auditorium this weekend. Hou is one of my favorite filmmakers. His films are extremely challenging and breathtakingly beautiful. His camera moves slowly, revealing the details of each moment without drawing any conclusions. He connects scenes with the most sublime interstitial travelling shots.
Three Times is made up of three forty minute stories starring the same male and female leads as lovers. A Time for Love is set in the 60s. A Time for Freedom takes place in 1911 and A Time for Youth in 2005. A Time for Freedom was silent with title cards. Initially it was tedious, but I found its rhythm within five minutes or so. It was my least favorite of the three, nonetheless I was very inspired and envious of Hou's power to be so bold.
Each segment of Three Times felt at once timeless and precisely accurate historically interms of set design, costumes, language and behavior. The physical space between lovers was wonderfully articulated according to era. The drug addiction, bisexuality and aloof digital communication of the contemporary story rang painfully true. While the lovers in earlier times seemed trapped by culture, the modern lovers are trapped by themselves. These are personal observations, the filmmaker asserts nothing directly.
Film is such a young medium that remains very conventional. Thank goodness that all films don't have to satisfy Hollywood's strict 3-act formula. I'm all for a well constructed plot, but I love being absorbed by the rambling quiet and affecting moments of art films. I know so many producer and pro crew types that say art film as if they just stepped in something.
I want to step in more films like Three Times.

Signore Direttore