Thursday, August 28, 2008

David Fucking Milch

Ooh Danger!

I watched the first cut of Dangerous Writing today. I prepared myself for some big holes in the story and some gut-wrenching pain as best I could. I actually considered not giving any notes and just letting it wash over me this first time through in order to try to accept it for what it is rather than as having failed to bring my vision for it to life.
Though it was probably wise to lower my expectations, none of that was necessary. The film is good. We succeeded in making the film I imagined. The camera work is nice, the performances are all good to very good, and the story comes through. David, Aislinn, Joey and Andrew all do very nice work. They all have moments of excellence. The rest of the cast also does a fine job. The sound kind of sucks, but what do you expect shooting in real locations with no money? With some work it can be improved for the most part.
It was really great to see it. I look forward to seeing the next cut and I think this is a film everyone will be proud to have been involved with.

Grazie,
Signore Direttore

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Master Says 327

Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.

Tom Clancy

Vicky Christina Barcelona


Going to a Woody Allen film in the past ten or twelve years has been a tricky proposition. He's made a few good ones and more than a few stinkers. I haven't exactly gone out of my way to get to the theater for his films as I did beginning in high school. I think the last Woody Allen film I went to see in a theater was Celebrity.
I'm not a fan of Scarlett Johansen. Even her undeniably luscious curves seemed to diminish in the wake of her flat performances. But Woody seemed to find a way to use her effectively in Match Point so I wasn't going to stay away from this one because of her. I adore Penelope Cruz, especially when she has the freedom of speaking and being Spanish.
This film evoked Allen's films of the 70s and 80s - simple situational films dealing with neurotic relationships. Though this story was a bit thinner and the cast wasn't up to the antics of the great former Allen ensembles. Which isn't to say javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson are not good actors or delivered wanting performances. I just don't think they had much to do. In films like Hannah and her Sisters, which this film seems most closely related, the energy was up, up, up. Perhaps the culture of the siesta invaded the film. I want to remind myself here that Woody isn't obligated to duplicate his past triumphs or even continue the same themes. But with a voice as distinctive as his, it's hard not to have those expectations.
At times the lead female, Rebecca Hall, sounded just like Woody - nasally, acerbic, paranoid, absurdly rational. It was charming, especially due to the brevity of the emulative moments.
I worked with Chris Messina on a film called Road in New York. We have a lot of mutual friends. It was good to see him in a sizable role on the big screen.
The film was worth seeing and enjoyable. It reminded me of how simple a film can be and how few films that accept that challenge.

Signore Direttore

Saturday, August 23, 2008

XLI

Thirty, thirty-five and forty didn't bother me. They were milestones to be celebrated. Add one and suddenly I'm beyond the abyss. Which isn't to say I'm bothered today as I celebrate forty-one years of age. I'm quite happy actually, but I can't say I am entirely excited to state my age. It comes with a little interior tremor of, Really?
I ran this morning through Victoria BC, catching up to my family who were visiting the petting zoo in Beacon Hill Park while I had some alone time to gaze across the Straits of Juan de Fuca at the Olympic Mountains back in our suite before my run. I'm finally able to run comfortably after four years of rehabilitating a severe tendon injury in my right ankle. Running makes me feel light on my feet and young. I'm much slower than I was but minus the burn of the pack a day plus I used to smoke even when running competitively. I've been running all week with no pain in my joints. My muscles on the other hand are feeling the burn. My lungs, however, feel quite young.
I have mucho to be grateful for, obvious to my intellect but difficult for my psyche to accept. Oh, the great mystery of life! No sense in trying to sort it all out, better to live as mindfully and courageously as possible and leave the rest up to the universe.

feliz cumpleanos a mi,
Signore Direttore

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympia


We're in Olympia. Our cottage on Marrowstone won't be ready until tonight. We decided to split the car travel in half and spend a night here. I've driven through Olympia dozens of times without ever stopping. It's a really cool looking little city. I'm surprised it hasn't been used in more films. There are a lot of little alleys downtown. Then just a few blocks from the beautiful architecture of the old buildings and storefronts is Puget Sound. We saw two seals playing in the inlet to Heritage Lake. And some herons.
An old movie theater has been converted to a playhouse that has a Shanley play up. Lots of good little restaurants. I want to come back here. Maybe without the kids.
I also got back into Sway this morning for a thousand words or so. It feels good and totally familiar. I'm not going to let it take over our vacation, but I do want to try and pass the fifty thousand mark this week.

Ciao,
Signore Direttore

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Family Vacation Packing List

Phase I - Marrowstone Island, Washington

Binoculars
Audubon guides
Hiking boots
Rei/Columbia clothes
Campfire songbook
Crocs
Board games
Sway - first draft of novel in progress
Skateboard

Phase II - Victoria BC

Shoes - white suede oxfords
Oxford shirts
Trousers
Cashmere cardigan
Willy Vlautin's new novel Northline
The Wire season 3 box set
New Versace tie (for high tea at the Empress)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Master Says 326

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.

Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SLUT

video

A little tease from the short film SLUT starring Brendan Robinson and Christy Drogosch. Photographed by Brian Mohr. Hair and Makeup by Nicola. I did all the other stuff, as the forementioned were the extent of our cast and crew.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Master Says 325


The proper route to an understanding of the world is an examination of our errors about it.

Errol Morris

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Master Says 324

A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.

Stanley Kubrick

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Master Says 323

If you're a singer, you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes.

Mickey Spillane

Arrested Development



I was the kind of kid that skipped school and watched television. I started this practice in second grade. Cartoons in the early morning, game shows (Price Is Right, Match Game, Family Feud) later in the morning, Perry Mason at noon, afternoon matinee at 1, more cartoons from 3 to 5, followed by syndicated detective shows in the evening (Rockford Files, Mannix, It Takes A Thief, Hawaii Five-O) and finally primetime at 8pm. I watched between four and fifteen hours of television daily. I spent more time with the Flintstones and Perry Mason than I did with my parents. Both were more reliable in many ways than my role models in real life. Hence my own arrested development.

I don't own a television now that I have children. They get to watch a film once a week. And we go to the movies once in awhile. I don't really miss TV that much. Especially since I can watch shows on DVD without commercials. I like watching TV shows rather than movies sometimes, because sometimes I'm just too tired to watch ninety plus minutes of a film at the end of a long day.
People have been telling me how great Arrested Development is for years. I finally watched it last night. I was not disappointed. It's really funny. You probably already know that. It's five years later and it still feels fresh. Jason Bateman and Michael Cera are my favorites. David Cross is my least favorite. I will be watching it compulsively in the coming weeks.

¡viva!
Signore Direttore

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sports Update



Fireman Ed has some news for Jets fans: Brett Favre, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football is a Jet. He's at the end of his career, but he's a winner and hasn't missed a start since early in his career due to injury. Thanks to the poor performance of last year, the Jets have a soft schedule this year. They should make the playoffs and perhaps make the AFC Championship game like the Chiefs did it when Joe Montana left the 49ers late in his career.
Even if they don't win a lot, at least it will be nice to see the ball being thrown downfield for the first time in a long time.
The Mets suck and I've barely paid attention to them this year. I went weeks without looking at the scoreboard or boxscores. The Knicks have a new coach, but they'll still be a mess. I was happy to see the Patriots lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl, but while I don't hate the Giants as I loathe the Yankees, I don't have love in my heart for NY's NFC team. This move by the Jets revitalizes my ties to NY sports. For now.

Ciao,
Signore Direttore

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When Negative Reenforcement Becomes Punishment

. . . (the king) can deprive them of the benefit of sun and rain, . . . and they are at the same time pelted from above with great stones, . . . while the roofs of their houses are beaten to pieces. - Jonathan Swift

I am the type of leader that too often pelts subordinates with stones and beats their homes to pieces. I have a lot of difficulty accepting substandard performance from those in my charge. Especially from crew members. My thoughts that precede my reactions of scorn, both viva voce and silent, go something like this - I've got multiple things to track, you've got one thing to track; why can't you get the one simple fucking thing you've got to do right? While that might be a logical conclusion, albeit crudely so; it isn't very kind, loving or tolerant. It certainly isn't the way to make people feel good about working for me. (My shame is all the more amplified when I recall I rarely have had the ability to pay my crews.)
I am becoming more aware of this tendency, which is a huge step toward growing out of this brand of insecure leadership. Indeed insecurity is at the core of this issue. When it comes to set protocol and technical skills I overcompensate for fear of judgment from the crew. I strive to know their jobs better than they do so as to maintain my authority. I do this in the name of being a more complete filmmaker, but it's not entirely the motive. Perhaps by letting go of this fallacious attempt at authority, I will form more trusting relationships with my collaborators by treating them as such.

Humbly,
Signore Direttore

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Master Says 322


Not beautiful photography, not beautiful images,
but necessary images and photography.

Robert Bresson

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Master Says 321



Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.

Julie Andrews

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 1, 2008

Okay. Summer is half over. 2oo8 is in its second half. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of challenging events and relationships. My psyche has been invaded - my dreams full of anxiety all week. I'm exhausted. I'm wondering what the point of all this upheaval is exactly. This is not what I want. So I'm making some changes to quiet some of the turmoil while allowing for forward progress.
I'm going to take the weekend to consider dropping way back and punting on future gigs with the corporate client I've been working for. I don't want the work that I do based foremost on the money I'm earning. That's what this job is becoming - I think of the money first. In fact, it's the only reason I'm doing the job. And that has never worked for me.
There were three hours today when I felt like I could get excited again. I submitted a proposal for a project that we discussed energetically in our meeting this morning, but that won't get contracted. That in itself doesn't bother me. It's the fact that they're going to take three weeks to tell me they want to rethink the ideas presented in today's concept meeting. Which means we'll have another concept meeting. In a few weeks. How do I know this? Because that's been the pattern and the art director sent me an email saying he thinks the pushback is going to continue for reasons beyond his comprehension. I get paid for the meetings and the proposals, but I make the real money when we shoot and edit something. And then do it again. And again. For once I'm getting paid to talk and plan, but all these years of working independently makes me suspicious of such frivolity. I just want to shoot stuff. And I want to do it under circumstances that offer the possibility to succeed.

Ciao,
Signore Direttore