Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Master Says 142

I discovered that what's really important for a creator isn't what we vaguely define as inspiration or even what it is we want to say, recall, regret, or rebel against. No, what's important is the way we say it. Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It's not what we say but how we say it that matters.

Federico Fellini

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Master Says 141

There's no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.

Martin Scorsese

Sunday, February 25, 2007

24 Hour Film People

Yesterday at 5 was our call time for Reflux. We got off to a rocky start but settled into some good work. We wrapped at 4am. I woke up yesterday at around six. Went to sleep at five the next morning, this morning. I slept in until nine am and then went to work as a grip on the Pander Brothers film, ID. We were released at eight thirty, totaling twenty seven and half hours of filmmaking with a brief four hours of sleep.


Signore Operaio

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Master Says 140

When you're sent something and read it, either you can see it while you read it, or you can't.

Steven Soderbergh

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Film Festival

Several things conspired this evening to air out a lot of old film footage. I have a few unfinished films to my (pending) credit. I've written them off and I've sworn them off. I've been nagged by them and shamed by them. But you know, they're all pretty good. Perhaps not as brilliant as I once hoped they would be. Once upon a time, I hoped only for superlative success. How else could I be good enough? I mean nobody would want anything to do with me unless I made brilliant films and took Hollywood by storm. Right?
You don't have to answer that.
We're filming February's short Saturday. It's called Reflux -- a man finds a few moments of self-acceptance in exposing a shameful personal experience. Or something like that.
Anytime soon I should be able to hold my own film festival. I feel the forces gathering to revisit and complete many past projects. And the new ones are coming along as well.

Stride On,
Signore Direttore

The Master Says 139

You can love someone for their defects and their differences from you.

Guillermo del Toro

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Master Says 138

Change in all things is sweet.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Two Weeks Notice

I gave notice at my day job yesterday. I have mixed feelings about it - I'm swimming in the sea between excitement and fear, lighting here and there on sadness. I want to say overall that I have very good feelings about it, but I think it's more accurate to say it is clearly the right time to do it and leave it at that for now.


Dirty Old Man

I say that with extreme irony in reference to Peter O'Toole in Venus. Perhaps it speaks to my own weak character, but I found nothing dirty about the old fella's lust for the young woman. It was uncomfortable to watch at times. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Life is coming to an end for the old Lothario as he pays the price to touch youth once again. Much as in life, it is hardly as simple as that.
Venus is a beautiful little film that masterfully paints the nuances of being human. One of those movies that makes you hold your water for fear of missing even a moment. O'Toole was brilliant. Every word, breath, movement saturated with truth. Even sitting still in the distance, he brings life to the frame. And what beautiful frames, many like a painting. And the light, absolutely unsentimental. The girl was pretty splendid herself, rising like a contemporary Venus from the ugly coarseness and shallow self-absorption of watching daytime telly to become a beauty sensitive to the world around her quite worthy of the great man's love.
I have yet to see Last King of Scotland, but my heart if not my money is on Lawrence of Arabia for the Oscar. His eyes are as stunning as ever.

Go see this film.

Signore Direttore

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Master Says 137

The future you shall know when it has come; before then, forget it.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Master Says 136

You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it.

Duke Ellington

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Master Says 135

Being a screenwriter is not enough for a full creative life.

William Goldman

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Master Says 134

Excellence is not an act but a habit.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Master Says 133

All the characters in my films are fighting these problems, needing freedom, trying to find a way to cut themselves loose, but failing to rid themselves of conscience, a sense of sin, the whole bag of tricks.

Michelangelo Antonioni

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Checking In 2.13.07

I exchanged emails with a producer friend of mine about an upcoming project. He has extensive experience making films budgeted under $500,000. Something you and I might envy, but that has worn him ragged. His advice to me was to make sure our post- budget was solid going in, that "chasing finishing funds is a fool's errand". We weren't counting on finishing funds, but we haven't firmly researched and commited our post-production budget.

What else? I'm glad to have the last two weeks of chasing my tail with software stuff behind me. I dug into getting the edit suite a bit more organized and tidy last night. I think part of me likes the chaos that it's been. It's given me an excuse not to go down there. I'm beginning to practice letting go of the results more regularly, which makes editing more enjoyable and possible. I'm ready to remove the obstacles of chaos.
With some reluctance I've begun the search for a new assitant. I have a new perspective on the relationship. JKM spoiled me in some ways. He was very capable and I was too dependent on him, thus letting him run a bit autonomously. Which ultimately wasn't good for me as I tended to ... well, let's just leave it as I was too far from the details of how things were running. I've been forced by his departure to take good stock of the gear and the projects. In the past I've often relied on assistants to get me organized without starting them off with some structure. I'm focusing on setting up better organization.
Which is difficult because I'm flooded with inspiration right now. And my office is a mess from closing the acting studio and dumping it all in the big room.
As you might know, I've made the commitment to shoot a monthly short. Last month's project isn't finished, so I don't want to start something new and ambitious until I've brought that one closer to completion. Not finishing projects has been a terrible habit for me. I've been a bit stressed becuase I want to keep my commitment to creating a new short each month, but also mind my commitment to finishing things.
The other morning I did some journal writing. I stumbled onto something that was awesome to get out. It wasn't my intention when I sat down to write, but I think it's going to be the text for a very simple piece that can be shot in an evening.
I've also been thinking of filmmaking as folk art. Matt McCormick often refers to it as such. As does someone else close to me. It's a very liberating perspective.

Tonight I'm meeting with one of the actors from the Made Crooked experiment. He'll be the first person to see it aside from JKM and I. I've made another screening date with another cast memeber later in the week. I look forward to seeing it a few times with different people. I think it will be good way to absorb its lessons. I've been striving to treasure it as a very valuable resource rather than as a failed filmmaking endeavor.

A River Dertchee
Signore Direttore

The Master Says 132

The individual life is a dream.

John Patrick Shanley

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Klepto Update

Even though I haven't posted about Klepto for the past two weeks doesn't mean I haven't been working on it. A software bug prevented getting a crucial clip into the project. I spent hours toubleshooting and surfing message boards until I discovered a solution. The workaround required software that I own but is missing. I arranged to borrow a friend's copy, but had to work around his schedule to get it. Aren't you glad I didn't keep you posted? I'm glad it's over.
The edit is now ready for audio.

Signore Direttore

ROAD - At long last

I finally got to see the fruit of our labor last night. It's been three and half years since we finished shooting. The film has been done for almost two years, but the producers have been reluctant to hand out DVDs until a deal was in place.
Anyway, I watched it. I liked most of it. It looked really good. The cinematographer, Antoine, was clearly talented and a great person to collaborate with. I thought the art direction was pretty good, if I say so myself. As with good hair and makeup, you don't notice it when it's good. As I watched certain scenes, I remember working so hard and then seeing it look so simple on screen. Which is good and a testament to my willingness to let go of some measure of ego at the time.
The perfomances were really good. Ebon was great as I knew he would be. He's a good actor and it was very good casting. Catherine was good, too. They won the Best Acting Award at the 2004 LA Film Festival for ROAD. The bit players - James Urbaniak, Jane Houdyshell, Peter Appel, Marty Zentz - were great. I saw myself in tow quick scenes. They happened so fast it could have been anybody.
Leslie, the director, clearly had a vision for the film. There is a nice tone through much of it. In the end, I don't think it delivers on its promise. Most films made for less than a hundred thousand rarely do.
For all of its ups and downs, I'm proud to have been a part of it.

It's playing on Showtime this month. DVD release comes later in the year.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Master Says 131

I went through a phase where I thought nostalgia was a bad thing.

Dario Argento

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Master Says 130

I mean simply to say that I want my characters to suggest the background in themselves, even when it is not visible. I want them to be so powerfully realized that we cannot imagine them apart from their physical and social context even when we see them in empty space.

Michelangelo Antonioni

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Folk Wisdom 025

Don't overlook the wonder of the ordinary.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Master Says 129

The directing of a picture involves coming out of your individual loneliness and taking a controlling part in putting together a small world. A picture is made. You put a frame around it and move on. And one day you die. That is all there is to it.

John Huston

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Master Says 128

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stay there, lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again... but also, she will never sit down on a cold one any more.

Mark Twain

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Master Says 127

I tend to be attracted to characters who are up against a wall with very few alternatives. And the film then becomes an examination of how they cope with very few options. And that's, I guess, what interests me in terms of human behavior.

William Friedkin

Saturday, February 03, 2007

That Never Happens

Checked my email just before lunch yesterday to find a message asking where to send a deferment check for a movie I worked on four years ago. Not only am I going to get paid some money I wrote off long ago, but the film is going to play on Showtime this month.
I've heard the film isn't great, but some good people worked hard on it and I'm sure there's at least some good stuff.
I was the production designer and had a very tiny part.

So check it out if you have Showtime.

It's called Road by Leslie Mcleave. It plays on Showtime Women on the following dates:

Tuesday 4:25 AM
Feb 10 6:30 PM
Feb 18 4:30 PM
Feb 21 10:30 PM
Feb 27 5:35 PM

The Master Says 126

This applies to many film jobs, not just editing: half the job is doing the job, and the other half is finding ways to get along with people and tuning yourself in to the delicacy of the situation.

Walter Murch

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Master Says 125

I'm very comfortable with failure. I'm very comfortable being the guy who disappoints people.

Steven Soderbergh