August 20, 2005

London's Train Station Memorials

In the London Review of Books, writer Iain Sinclair sets out to visit the now-nearly invisible WWI memorials in some of London's train stations:The panels advertising the war dead are invisible to through-shuffling station users, clients of apathy. The false ceiling doesn’t help. Nor the perch of CCTV cameras keeping vigil on the permanent queue for the cash machine. Search the list for a lost relative and you are bang in the middle of the surveillance frame. Cameras are spiked...
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Posted by greg at 12:04 PM

April 10, 2005

Restoring Canada's WWI Memorial

The Canadian Government has begun restoring the WWI-era Vimy Memorial in northern France:It was 88 years ago today [apr. 9] 20,000 Canadians stormed out of the trenches and into the history books, but the scene of Canada's most famous battle still poses a deadly threat for those toiling here to honour their memory... But workers rehabilitating it and surrounding landscape must exercise extreme caution... The same armaments and implements of war that left more than 10,000 Canadian dead or wounded...
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Posted by greg at 08:42 AM

March 14, 2005

"shaped by their directors' experiences with grief"

The lingering after-effects of tragic loss are figuring into American feature films now. Some films are specifically--if obliquely--related to the September 11th attacks, but others can be attributed to a post-9/11 heightened sensitivity to the nuances of experiencing a loved one's death. Makes sense to me; I set my first short, Souvenir November 2001 in this aftermath, after the active, self-conscious mourning is past. People say that the hardest time is actually several months after the funeral of someone close,...
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Posted by greg at 12:54 AM

January 02, 2005

Bill T. Jones on New York's Golden Age

It's too bad it's not online, becauseThe NY Times City section's feature, asking 14 prominent New Yorkers when the city's "Golden Age" was, makes for interesting reading. Counting the two who said, "Always," five people said "Now": John Leguizamo, Robert Stern, Laurie Anderson, Oscar de la Renta, and Yoko Ono. But the choreographer Bill T. Jones said "Right after 9/11," which, I agree, was a unique time that's being lost and forgotten:New York had a true reappraisal of itself at...
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Posted by greg at 08:12 AM | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Wong Kar Wai talks about 2046

2046 barely screened at Cannes, after the director hand-carried the not-quite-finished print to the rebooked theatre. Now it's being released in the UK, and it turns out Wong has actually re-edited it since May. Read Howard Feinstein's interview with WKW and his recounting of the tortured making of in the Guardian "It was like being in jail" [Guardian UK] Related: I, too, delivered an unfinished film to Cannes, a fact I mention because of the deep, meaningful resonance between Wong...
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Posted by greg at 12:25 PM | TrackBack

July 16, 2004

Looking at Tall Buildings

A correction: Reading Herbert Muschamp's review of MoMA's "Tall Buildings" show, which includes the United Architects proposal for the WTC site. [The 'Dream Team' proposal is in there, too, but I've said all I'll say about that.] Coming after the pissed-to-be-publicly-accountable Meier, United Architecture's proposal was surprisingly moving that morning in Dec.2002. They had made a video (it's still on their site) with cuts of all kinds of happy shiny people looking up from the street, pointing at the...
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Posted by greg at 07:27 AM | TrackBack

July 10, 2004

On the dislocation of airports

Like the road, the airport is a nonplace, something encountered on the way to going somewhere else, better measured in time - always too long - than in square feet. Now that it is unsafe to hitchhike, and affordable to fly, the terminal makes a better canvas for transition or self-discovery. As such, it is the setting du jour for our narratives of romance, longing, adventure and intrigue. "It's unlegislated territory," Mr. Iyer said. "It's a psychological limbo that becomes...
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Posted by greg at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

November 30, 2003

On Cinema and a Sense of Place

In an excellent Times Arts & Leisure article, James Sanders looks at the way computer animated walk- and fly-throughs are changing the way architecture is anticipated and understood. Sanders looks specifically at visitor experiences depicted for each of the WTC Memorials; some are impossibly dazzling points of view, while other eye-level walkthroughs emphasize the key emotional moments of the designs. He issues a call to create virtual environments in which the public can wander freely, a la Ground Zero: the...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

Memorial to the Missing War

This morning I was in DC, so I thought I'd go to the WWI Memorial. [Veterans Day began in 1919 as Armistice Day. It was expanded two wars-to-end-all-wars later, in 1953.] Nice plan, except that there is no national WWI Memorial. On 11 November 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated in a ceremony which was relayed by telephone to New York and San Francisco. ["In the open air the President's voice swept over the crowd in...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

On Transit and Memory

Santiago Calatrava talks about his vision for the transit hub he's designing for the World Trade Center site. I'm a fan, although there doesn't seem to be a lot of design meat here. And the New Yorker's Jane Kramer gets Berlin artists/memorial designers Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock to talk about a memorial for the World Trade Center. Their comments seem well suited to the discourse of a year or so ago, when entertaining the world of possibilities didn't feel...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

Disturbingly, It Keeps Coming Back to WWI

From a BBC report: Protestors spray painted anti-war grafitti at Etaples in Northern France, the largest British WWI memorial cemetery in the country. What it said (in order of increasing shock and awe) "Sadaam will win and spill your blood," "Death to Yankees (swastika included)," "Bush, Blair to the TPI [International Court of Justice]," "Rosbeefs [what the French call Brits when they hear 'frog'] Go Home," and "Disinterr your trash, it contaminates our soil." The French are suitably pissed, as...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2003

On The French And WWII (and WWI)

When Maciej started French Week ("fighting francophobia since wednesday"), Jason linked to the first installment, "Ten Reasons to Love France," which was a breezy response to the frivolous tone of the fries/toast/kiss gag. It's not funny anymore. From day two, "WWII, the Real Story"...But there's a more profound, indirect reason for the French defeat [in 1940], which explains why the German armies were able to score this tactical coup in the first place. And that reason is the French experience...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2003

On Remembering Or Repeating History

History shows that a war which follows on the heels of a Serbian assassination doesn't go well for anyone involved. As I've written before, one reason I chose a WWI battlefield as an object of my first film, Souvenir (November 2001), was because it had been "forgotten." Practically speaking, there is no one left alive who has direct experience or memory of WWI in general and the Battle of the Somme in particular. At best, it's taught, analyzed, considered, memorialized,...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:47 PM

December 21, 2002

Souvenir (November 2001) Screening Recap

I'm quite behind, obviously. Thursday went very well, as I wrote earlier. Souvenir (November 2001) screened last in a program of four short films which, in the words of Festival Director (and MoMA curator) Sally Berger, were "different from all the Sept. 11-related things we've been saturated with...These 'makers use a more essayistic, and in one case [mine, -ed.], narrative form to explore issues and ideas." The other three films were: Encounters of the WTC Kind, 2002, dir. by...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2002

Wellwishers Multiplying Like Rabbits

Thanks to all y'all (as we'd say in NC, at least when our parents weren't around) who've sent your kind wishes and congratulations re Souvenir. Since 1) You mailed from work, 2) you mailed from outside New York, and 3) there were far more of you than bodies in the theater, I conclude most of you weren't actually at MoMA yesterday. So thanks for the vote of confidence, too, I guess. So far, the winner of the farthest-away-wellwisher goes to...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2002

Souvenir Screening: (Too Much) Like A Dream (Team)

I'm beat, but I have to mention one experience from the premiere that caught me totally offguard. My film, Souvenir was shown with three other short films, including Etienne Sauret and David Carrara's haunting WTC: The First 24 Hours. Sauret captured the empty shock and silence of Ground Zero, images of a time and place otherwise closed to the media, like these fragments of the Towers' trademark steel columns. Still, WTC: The First 24 Hours, dir. by Etienne Sauret....
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Posted by greg allen at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

Souvenir (November 2001) World PREMIERED

Three-line synopsis: It went amazingly well; about 60 strangers(!); a couple of media, and interest from one critic; three very interesting companion films in the program; chuckles in the right places; thoughtful questions afterward; and supportive friends, crew, and family. Oh, and Sally Berger, organizer of the Festival called it "wonderful and moving." We're going to dinner now, then I'll return to earth and give more details....
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Posted by greg allen at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2002

Documentary Fortnight, Last Night

Last night was the filmmakers' reception for Documentary Fortnight, which followed a screening of Family, by Sami Saif and (So)Phie Ambo (see below). The film was pretty good; the nervous Sami's emotionally high-pitched quest to find his Yemeni father. Arriving in Yemen, Sami tells one of many "uncles" how he, his brother, and his Danish mother suffered after his father ditched them in Denmark. With girlfriend Sophie behind the camera, the film has an uncomfortably intimate feeling, well suited...
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Posted by greg allen at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2002

On Short Films, Mine and Others

Documentary Fortnight at MoMA is underway. The first event I'll be attending is tomorrow (sun.) night, a screening of Family by Sami Martin Saif and Phie Ambo. After the deaths of his mother and brother, Saif travels from Denmark to Yemen to find his father. There's a filmmaker reception after that. I'll give you a report. Let me know if you're going, or look for me there. That's me in the orange jacket. Blocking out the production schedule...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2002

Tilting at Windmills: Script Annotation and PR for Souvenir Premiere

Have spent most of yesterday and today writing, researching, annotating the AM script. As discussed before, it's based partly on a real-life crime story, so it's critical from a CYA standpoint to document the sources of characters, facts, events, and evidence in the publically available record. It's a rather laborious process, but fortunately, I've kept a fairly comprehensive file of source material for the last 2+ years. Obviously, I didn't imagine using it for a movie--much less an animated...
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Posted by greg allen at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2002

Souvenir (November 2001) to premier at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight

Just got formal notification, although I was contacted a couple of weeks ago. The Documentary Fortnight runs from Dec 13-23, and Souvenir will screen December 19th. From what I understand, they have put together a program of three WTC/September 11-themed films, including mine. The Director apparently heard about the movie after the preview screening of the nearly completed version in June. Needless to say, I'm stoked. Stay tuned for more info and updates, and start making your Christmas in New...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:10 AM

October 12, 2002

On Invention learning who his mother is the hard way

from to Finished the MemeFeeder project on time. The scene I thought I'd do turned out not to be the scene I'd actually been asked to do, although I only saw the email with the actual scene assignment yesterday. So, no sooner did I complete the shoot, then I found out I had to do it all over again, with a scene I'd never thought about. And, I'd have to do it in This, after I completely rethought and shot...
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Posted by greg allen at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2002

On Arches, Now and Then

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church, Renzo Piano, 1991- The architect Renzo Piano is conspicuously absent from both the discussion and the process of rebuilding New York City. Conspicuous because he has already designed Manhattan's next important skyscraper, the headquarters for the NY Times [see the model]. Conspicuous because he is clearly one of The Times' critic Herbert Muschamp's favored architects ("Piano is a humanist, perhaps the leading exemplar of that tradition in our time.") Conspicuous because he developed the master...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2002

"If I am lonely in a foreign country, I search for ruins."

Albert, Somme, France 1920 The quote is from Christopher Woodward's book, In Ruins, which was sensitively reviewed in the New York Times. Cited near the end of the review, the line resonated with both the story in my short film Souvenir and my own experience. It reminded me of an overheard comment from almost exactly a year ago, "I just wanted to be a part of it." The great part of Woodward's book deals with the "pleasurable pain" ruins...
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Posted by greg allen at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2002

a void with no building in it, a building with a void in it, a quiet place with some statues in it

A NY Times account of "Monument and Memory," a panel discussion presented by the Columbia Seminar. Jewish Museum architect Daniel Libeskind cited his own powerfully programmatic work in arguing architecture's ability to deal with trauma and memory. TheNew Republic's Leon Wieseltier demanded a void and a flag, lashing back at Libeskind's (and, by proxy, Architecture's) reflexive "materialism" and egotism. (Libeskind apparently didn't win many points for rhetorically bitch-slapping the pensive philosopher on the panel, either.) While I tend to...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:06 PM

September 30, 2002

Souvenir got accepted into its first festival!

But I can't tell anyone yet, until I get the confirmation letter and screening agreement. Stay tuned, though. Hint: It's in December....
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Posted by greg allen at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

arguing over nothing, or the lack of nothing

On Artforum's discussion boards, I had posted some criticism of Nico Israel's article about visiting (but not finding) Robert Smithson's earthwork sculpture Spiral Jetty. He responded, and I responded back. Other Smithson-related posts: one from after visiting the Jetty, and one about the Jetty's reemergence and Smithson on filmmaking. [Update: Commemorative T-shirts are now available in the two-item store.]...
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Posted by greg allen at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2002

Jonah Freeman, Artist. Cinematographer. Geeenius. Tonight. On "In the Artist's Studio"

Jonah Freeman, Making the Nature Scene, 2000, c-print For a while, Ive been meaning to post some information and images of Jonah Freeman's work. He was the DP and editor for my short film, Souvenir November 2001, but his main gig is visual art: he makes photography, video, and sculpture/installation art. He exhibits all over the place, and he shows regularly at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in NYC. This past spring, while he was editing 24/7, he was also working...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2002

On Souvenir; On encountering one's past and being just fine, thanks

Souvenir updates from the road: Spoke with some folks in Austin, and submitted Souvenir (November 2001) to the festival. As you can discover by surfing through the Souvenir-related links at left, the film is a sytnhesis of scripted narrative and documentary language; Austin is very adamant about it's "NO DOCUMENTARIES" requirement, which I can respect, but which I think has to be considered in a contemporary context. After talking to a couple of people in the short film selection office,...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2002

On only seeing in retrospect the obvious influence of Agnes Varda on my short film

Writing and music rights: Agnes Varda's Gleaners and I is on Sundance again. [It's been released on DVD now, too.] While I've mentioned the, video-to-film transfer pleasure aspect of seeing it on TV, it's weird to see how similar some of shots in Souvenir November 2001 are to her movie. I'd been influenced even more than I knew. Attribute some similarity to shooting in roughly the same places: overcast and rainy French autoroutes, rural side roads, fallow fields, smalltown streets....
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Posted by greg allen at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2002

As if the Prelinger Collection

As if the Prelinger Collection isn’t remarkable enough, it turns out almost the whole thing is available online. It’s a collection of educational, industrial, military and propaganda films, as well as newsreels and commercials. (via boingboing) Truly transfixing. I wasted the whole morning here. Some highlights: Robert Altman’s (!) The Magic Bond (watch parts One and Two), a promotional film about the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Especially after watching some sociologically-interesting-but-filmmakingwise-mediocre films, Altman’s talent is obvious. There are ensemble shots...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

Souvenir (November 2001), Bruegel, Houstonization, The WTC

Rewatching Souvenir (November 2001) a dozen+ times in the last 24 hours, I'd begun to wonder what it can actually contribute to the increasing volume of the WTC memorial/rebuilding debate. There was 4,000-participant offsite Saturday (with a 200-participant makeup session Monday for observant Jews and Hamptonites, I guess). Everyone and their dog is weighing in on the lameness of the Port Authority-driven devil's choice: Memorial Office Park or Memorial Mall, but is this looming Houstonization of Ground Zero possibly the...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:23 AM

Whew!: After a few weeks

Whew!: After a few weeks of fits and starts, a full day of editing followed by a full week of output-to-video frustration, I finally got the "finished" version of Souvenir (November 2001) on tape tonight. It's not drastically different; in fact, it may be hard to spot the differences at all from the preview screening version. But it feels very different to me. Except that I'm kind of burned out on it tonight, I feel really good about it. One...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2002

Music: Spent most of the

Music: Spent most of the morning following up on clearing music for Souvenir (November 2001). The process is moving along well. One thing I realized, though: I pointed a couple of the record company folks to this site to find further information about the film. ("Please visit for updates of me inviting you to visit") Is there some kind of Weblog Heisenberg Principle, where, by weblogging something, you alter it? If Wu Tang disses the movie, I guess...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2002

Here's a link about rights

Here's a link about rights and a song that I'm thinking of using, a possible replacement for Zabriskie Point. I've collated all Documenta 11-related entries in one page, which I'll keep updated. There's been a steady/increasing number of Google searches for Documenta and participating artists; rather than add a new index ("Shows I've seen" or something), I'll try this compilation page idea....
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Posted by greg allen at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Rights, On: I've been digging

Rights, On: I've been digging into rights issues for both the new project (which will get a highlights list soon) and for Souvenir, getting ready to meet with a lawyer referred by a good friend at Universal (until he just busted out). The two bodies of rights I'm working on are life rights and music clearance. Here are some highlights [up front, let me point you to Michael Donaldson's straightforward book, Clearance & Copyright: Everything the Independent Filmmaker Needs to...
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Posted by greg allen at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2002

Not only did I finish

Not only did I finish all the tweak editing I mentioned earlier, the momentum picked up. I worked on the pacing of some dialogue scenes, changing some breaths/gaps and taking out a few tiny lines here and there. It makes a noticeable difference (noticeable if you've seen the movie a hundred times; otherwise, it's just smooth.) I was a little wary, though, since I just read an interview with Soderbergh Filmmaker Magazine. Talks about The Limey writer Lem Dobbs, who...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2002

Editing: After a couple of

Editing: After a couple of false starts, we're finally set to make the editing tweaks on Souvenir November 2001 this week. (Since I only have FCP 1.0 loaded, and the project got saved in 3.0, I couldn't open it without 3.0.) We really worked to balance the documentary "vocabulary" of the movie, that is, the degree to which the filmmaking process asserts itself: lighting quality, high-contrast exposure rates, handheld camera movement, crew and equipment appearances. Post-preview screening, we heard strong...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2002

How my film is(not) like a busload of Chinese tourists looking at a famous war memorial

This morning, I did a driveby at the Iwo Jima Memorial (there had been a big formation of Marines there earlier in the day). Whatever Americans know of Iwo Jima today, it's almost certain they recognize the statue. It was based on a photograph by Life Magazine combat cameraman, Joe Rosenthal [ has good background information.] Within 72 hours, the first 3-dimensional version, sculpted in clay by Felix deWeldon. The monument followed on a wave of popular sentiment. As I...
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Posted by greg allen at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2002

Director's Headshot

One of the reasons I'd delayed submitting to some festivals was (of all things) my lack of a "director's photo (B/W)," which some festivals require. Last week, Roe Ethridge, a friend and artist whose work I've collected for three-plus years, took some photos of me. In the pinch, I scanned in a Polaroid and printed it out for the submission packets, but there are real prints on the way. Roe works as a photographer for a huge pile of magazines....
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Posted by greg allen at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2002

Private screening has been set

Private screening has been set for Monday, June 3rd, in NYC. For those who expressed interest, look for email in a day or two as details gel. Stay tuned....
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Posted by greg allen at 06:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2002

Submitted Souvenir November 2001 to

Submitted Souvenir November 2001 to the following festivals today: Locarno Int'l Film Festival Short Cuts Cologne Siena Int'l Short Film Festival...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2002

Now that the movie's finally

Now that the movie's finally done, I have a little breathing room, so I went to one of the websites we shot really quickly for insert shots in the wife's Google search scene. Of the dozens of sites we shot, we included maybe 5, for a fraction of a second each (with more screen time for Google, because it's integral to the story). The page: "MIT Architecture: 9-11 and its Aftermath," with a lecture/article by Prof. Hélène Lipstadt titled "The...
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Posted by greg allen at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2002

First the good news: I

First the good news: I got my keyboard replaced, and now I have my beloved Trackpoint back. Things are looking up. Bad news: Here is the list of picks for International Critics Week at Cannes. One short, The Day I Was Born, by Japanese director Manda Kunitoshi, features a "baby born on September 11 2001," so that may have filled the thematic slot I was targetting. There were no US shorts among the seven selected, though. In fact, there are...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2002

Editing: Final tweaks over the

Editing: Final tweaks over the weekend to get a distortion-free output version has now deteriorated into a major structural problem with Final Cut Pro. If I didn't have so much other stuff to occupy my mind, I'd be worried sick. The program shows that a dozen+ audio files are missing AND that they're required to play the finished sequence, even though they're not in the sequence. IDGI. Anyway, I've started going through every file, recapturing those that are in the...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2002

I ended up making screening

I ended up making screening tapes from the DV master, since I have been having the same problems with output that we had before (ie., skipping, frozen frames). The movie may have found the maximum processing capacity of the G4 we're working with. Moral: don't go halfway on the memory or processing power. You'll use it all, so make sure it's enough. Jean and I drove from DC to NC for the weekend, and talked through the rest of the...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2002

Making screening tapes: Groundhog Day

Making screening tapes: Groundhog Day all over again (which may be redundant, I know). I've been working to swap out the shot that annoyed Jonah and me (shooting into the sun=super-blown out exposure), finding one that (except for some coke can/coke bottle discontinuity) is way way better. Now, though, the same popping and frame snagging problem that nearly derailed us last week is back, even worse. MoMA Benefit: what a laff riot. Spent hours in the afternoon rehearsing with David...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2002

Been working on my schtick

Been working on my schtick for tonight, where I am introducing David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin at a MoMA film benefit. MoMA is acquiring Russell's films for its permanent collection, and the fundraising group I co-chair is hosting the program/party. Given the crowd and the committee (almost all of whom are going to be there), I'm (Spike) Jonzin' to work the movie into the intro, no matter how tenuous the connection. Can't see it happening, though. And with Ben...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2002

Details, details. Worked on the

Details, details. Worked on the dialogue transcript, which will morph into subtitles, which I assume I'll be able to put on after some book reading. Need to add another screen of credits and acknowledgements. Right now, we just have one screen with the crew and principal cast. But since there are another nine people in the movie, we gots to get them in. AND, there are sponsors and people who helped out to be thanked. I learned how to do...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2002

Paris, lqnd of screzed up

Paris, lqnd of screzed up typezriters qnd keyboqrds% zell, qfter eight missed/rescheduled flights (including three yesterday, Tuesday), I got here with the finished version of the film, now officially titled, Souvenir November 2001. Dropped the screening copies off at Cannes Festival offices and the Director's Fortnight. Tomorrow morning I'll take the third copy to the Critic's Week competition; Qs you may know, the Cannes Festival is paralleled by two other events/series, Festival de Cannes being the most easily recognized. For...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2002

Editing, Last Day 3: Well,

Editing, Last Day 3: Well, we go on, editing through the Friday 9PM shipping deadline. (There go my 80K miles. And because of the Easter holiday, I have to fly through London to deliver the tape by Tuesday.) Thursday night, we called a few friends over to screen the cut with fresh eyes, to see if it made sense, had any unintentionally unclear/unexplained parts. Good thing we did. A couple of key moments didn't come across as I'd hoped. People...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2002

Editing, Last Day: Synched the

Editing, Last Day: Synched the sound, mostly. Almost halfway through cleaning up stray dialogue and sound (voices in the backseat of the car, feeding lines to the person onscreen, etc.), and always trimming down where it's obviously needed. The movie stands at 17.5 minutes, and we still hope that half of the cuts to come from general tightening, but aesthetic- and story-affecting cuts are getting tougher (and more necessary) to make. One phenomenon that came up yesterday: what people notice/latch...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2002

Editing, Day ??: I've lost

Editing, Day ??: I've lost count. Is it as tedious to read about editing day-to-day as it is to experience editing day-to-day? Since it consumes every one of my 20 waking hours/day, I'm left with little else to write about, though... Jonah locked almost all the CD (formerly Mini-Disc) audio tracks to the clips used in the rough cut. This, after a long night and early mornings searching for an automatic way to synch up the video and CD audio....
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Posted by greg allen at 03:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2002

Editing: Finished the (second?) rough

Editing: Finished the (second?) rough cut, re-editing the middle scenes and editing the final ones (the crater and the memorial), which had previously been only barely sketched out. Learned how to do dissolves. Picked up the Mini-Disc audio, now transferred to CD, which Jonah's going to start laying down tonight. As soon as I generate a list of all the CD tracks he needs to load onto the hard drive. To do this, we created what's called an Edit Decision...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2002

Editing: Jonah got about one

Editing: Jonah got about one third through the rough cut. That puts us in good standing for the LA Film Festival deadline Friday. Sound won't be done by then, obviously, but LA's down widdat. One thing we're sure of, though, is the need for some quick reshoots. In the NY location has it already been a month?], you may recall, there was a buzzing sound caused by grounding problems with the Mini-Disc player. Turns out we needed the cuts that...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2002


!!! LOSE 6 LBS IN *30 MINUTES** !! Guaranteed* *Note: those 30 minutes are the duration of your movie, spread out across 10 days of editing. Also, if you were to position a mini-fridge near your editing station, you are guaranteed to gain 6 lbs instead. (I *have* lost 6lbs by sitting, nearly inert, for 10 days, BTW. At a final fitting yesterday it was noticeable enough to provoke concern from the tailor. TMI, I guess.) Back to the movie:...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2002

Editing: When I went to

Editing: When I went to bed last night, I thought the village montage was nearly done. But watching it this morning, I wasn't satisfied at all, so I recut the whole thing. Now, at least the raw material for a strong montage of village residents is in place. Most of the afternoon was spent stumbling over the crater. There were strong dialogue scenes with the caretaker and emotional scenes at the crater itself, but no real logical way to sequence...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2002

Editing: Met with Jonah today

Editing: Met with Jonah today to review the rough cut. As it stands, there are really only the two last scenes remaining to do, and I'm going to finish them tonight and Saturday (repeat after me: "loooozah"). Sure enough, Jonah showed me some quick/instant tricks that made things sing: slowing down a cut by even 10% to smooth it out, subtle enlargement of the image to crop out vignetting, and rapidly executed cuts and changes in the rhythm of scenes...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2002

Editing: Finished the gas station

Editing: Finished the gas station scene and the third conversation in the car. that means I've got it blocked out to scene 35, which is more than halfway through. Three major scenes remain: the village of Albert; the crater at La Boisselle; and the memorial in Thiepval. It's going a lot faster, though, when I can actually edit. Unfortunately, I lost time today because the townhouse across the street had two (2) jackhammers going in tandem, almost non-stop for four...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2002

Editing: Finished the third sequence

Editing: Finished the third sequence this afternoon, the 2nd conversation between the couple. It went much faster than the other one. Rewatched the first one, which I know now is at least 1 min. too long. That's good, because while I was/am determined to beat the 1 minute/page rule of thumb (after writing a 22-page script for a 15-minute movie, whaddya gonna do?), right now it's almost exactly 1 min/pg. Damn you, years of experience in the filmmaking industry... And...
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Posted by greg allen at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2002

Editing: Finished a second sequence,

Editing: Finished a second sequence, the first conversation 1:41 in the car and in NYC. The dialogue scene has roughly four times as many cuts, with four layered video/audio tracks as the airport scene, even though it's less than half as long. Then I wasted several hours trying to connect my mac and pc via infrared so I could upload the quicktime drafts. If I had an hour for every hour I wasted on tech stuff, I'd, well, I'd break...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

Editing: Built my first sequence

Editing: Built my first sequence in Final Cut Pro today, 3:45 at the airport (the opening scenes of the movie). I must say, it's too long, and there are some cheats in it, but I kind of like it. If I could get my infrared working on the Powerbook, I'd post the draft version. But as I'm finding out (the hard way), what I don't know about Mac connectivity can fill several books (and costs me precious time). Exposure and...
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Posted by greg allen at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2002

"Please join me in a

"Please join me in a moment of silence. The second plane has just struck the second tower." -NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg Is remembering reliving?...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

Is it inspiration or masochism

Is it inspiration or masochism to watch a movie like Robert Altman's brilliantly acted (and interwoven) Short Cuts while editing your first short? Whichever, it's a little late now, since the credits are running. Problems getting the firewire hub to work meant I've had to log and capture all the footage in 10Gb batches, filling up the G4's hard drive and then swapping the camera for the external drive. And since I only learned of Final Cut's "Move Media" command...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2002

Log log log log. It's

Log log log log. It's not making for much weblog weblog weblog weblog, though. After 1) a powerbook, 2) an external drive, 3) a new charger/AC cable for the camera, 4) a new Firewire connector for same, 5) a Firewire hub, 6) Final Cut Pro software, and 7) the FCP for Idiots manual, I've been logging in and capturing media (i.e., video and audio) at an increasingly rapid pace. As of this evening, half the tapes have been done, taking...
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Posted by greg allen at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2002

FINALLY. It's taken almost all

FINALLY. It's taken almost all week to get the system set up properly, but I started capturing and digitizing the tapes into Final Cut Pro. One thing after another: firewire 4- vs 6-pin, extensions for firewire hubs, replacement AC cable for the camera, the right hard drive (settled on the QPS M3, a truly portable 80Gb 7200rpm one). In the mean time, there were taxes, joint brokerage account problems to deal with, and (happily) my wife's birthday (now that she's...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2002

Did I mention that Dodge,

Did I mention that Dodge, the main actor in the movie, was not, in fact, the main actor? I was at the airport in NYC, preparing to leave, and to meet Dodge the next morning at CDG, when he called from a military airbase. He's been stuck in Afghanistan, held there by his various employers (CBS News, Discovery Channel, etc.) and the US military for (it turns out) the launch of Operation Anaconda in the mountains near the Pakistani border....
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Posted by greg allen at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

Has it been that long?

Has it been that long? Jet lag's lasted longer than normal. Fall asleep during The Daily Show, up before NPR Morning Edition. Jonah came back Sunday; picked him up at JFK (a very non-NYC thing to do, I know. Getting a car >> encroaching suburban mindset). He shot some more airport stuff on his own. He kept the camera through the weekend, partly because I had to carry back some precariously wrapped art I'd bought nearly two years ago from...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2002

I'm home and damn tired.

I'm home and damn tired. And I carried this sculpture back on the plane; it's been at the gallery in Paris for almost two years. It's six feet tall. Good night....
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Posted by greg allen at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2002

France Location Day 5: Fred

France Location Day 5: Fred and Thomas went back to Paris Wednesday night. The rest of us stayed until Thursday morning. We got up at 7:00, checked out of our Twin Peaks castle, and rushed off to reshoot the approach to Thiepval. I wrote earlier that God was our co-pilot? Wrong. He was our key grip. The sun was at the exact height, with no clouds at all. As we drove up the empty hill, it came straight in the...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2002

France Location Day 4: The

France Location Day 4: The big day, by default. We still have to shoot the major locations: the Crater at La Boisselle and the Thiepval Memorial itself. In addition, we need to pick up more montage dialogue in town. I’d say the weather was perfect, but for production, “perfect” means “the same the whole time,” and it most certainly was not that. It was brilliantly sunny, no clouds, and slightly cold. Lochnagar Crater: We jammed over to the crater, where...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:24 PM

February 26, 2002

France Location Day 3: We’d

France Location Day 3: We’d planned to shoot driving scenes and dialogue in the car in the morning, when we expected clouds and rain. Of course, it turned freakishly sunny, pumping the contrast between interior and exterior light too high. We did exterior driving shots instead, and we found a great scene when we were looking for the single roadside grave mentioned in shot 31 in the script. It was very windy, clouds and shadows moving rapidly across the fields....
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Posted by greg allen at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

France Location Day 2: We

France Location Day 2: We wove our way back to the gas station, the first place the main character stops for directions. Got lost on the way several times. No rain at all; a glorious sky, with deep, textured clouds like a huge softbox diffuser. You can't buy clouds like that in LA (well, you can import them in post- now, I guess). The Total station was more perfect than I remembered. It's occasionally eerie; the degree to which aspects...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

Location Day 2 (actually; Day

Location Day 2 (actually; Day 1 in France): Things are off to a good start. NYC crew arrived a bit early, as did I, so we began shooting in Charles deGaulle immediately. The French crew (prod. exec. and sound engineer) arrived an hour or so later, by which time we'd covered everything that didn't require dialogue/sound. Fred, the sound guy, got set up on a luggage cart (standard equipment on a shoot as faar as I'm concerned), and we were...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2002

France Location Day 1: I’m

France Location Day 1: I’m not in France. Crew’s not in France. (Granted, Jonah and Alice are scheduled to leave Saturday night. I left for JFK Friday night, intent on getting to our production company’s office in Paris Saturday, to touch base with the equipment and sound folks. After five-hours, waiting on the plane and then getting regurgitated back to the gate, Delta canceled the flight. Grabbed a car and headed back to Manhattan at 2:00 AM. Now, I’m taking...
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Posted by greg allen at 03:26 PM

February 21, 2002

... I just got home

... I just got home from our first night of locations, here in NYC. First, thanks to everyone. It went extremely well, even if it took over twice as long as I'd originally planned. Some headaches/highlights: I reserved the sound equipment without checking/confirming with the sound guy, Slane. Result: no XLR cables (we had to have them messengered down. 45 min. lost); half-charged battery on the Mini-Disc (run out for add'l batteries. 20 min lost); an annoying buzz from the...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2002

This morning I was researching

This morning I was researching changes we may need to make to consent/release forms to enable us to shoot in France. I was reading through the WIPO site, when I searched across a memo written by an old friend and former roommate. He works at the MPAA, so in a sense, he's the boss of the WIPO. If I didn't know what a tough lawyer he is, I'd sing It's a small world after all. Oh, and I haven't found...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2002

Yesterday's B&H Photo haul (Total

Yesterday's B&H Photo haul (Total cost: around $400): Sony MDR-7506 headphones 40 - DV tapes (added to the 20 on hand) 20 - 74-minute mini-discs for audio recording After asking and studying both DAT and MD options, we've decided to use a combination of DV and Mini-Disc for audio, editing all on DV in Final Cut Pro and then laying down the superior MD audio on the final...cut. LAFCPUG's review of the HHB MDP500 Portable MD recorder was the clincher;...
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Posted by greg allen at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Another way things have changed:

Another way things have changed: I made the bed. Pulled the long, blonde hair off the charcoal wool blanket. It's just like the one on the floor. On that Jil Sander coat over there. On the seat belt strap when I got into the car for the first time in a week. Ubiquitous little signals of a life shared. And now I think of them as potential sources of DNA. Such as those the families of the missing only wish...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2002

Spent the last few days

Spent the last few days reworking the script, adding New York scenes. As Jonah suggested, it would be stronger to show the wife's own search as well, so we set out to find an actress who would do well on camera, not just via voiceover. Yesterday, I scouted out some friends' apartment, which is perfect; they graciously have agreed to let us shoot there this week. It's in Tribeca, and they have a great art collection, so it'll shoot really...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:27 PM

February 14, 2002

Last night I went to

Last night I went to the opening of German painter Gerhard Richter's retrospective at MoMA. Over 500 people shoehorned into dinner, while another 1500 or so poured into the galleries. It's the last major exhibition before the museum closes for a three-year renovation. In his speech, Glenn Lowry, the Director, likened the show (and the artist) to the museum's landmark exhibits of Cezanne and Picasso. Even at such a weighty, important, and exciting occasion, it didn't take more than one...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2002

Had the first reading of

Had the first reading of the script with the main actors (more about them later) to see how they fit/relate to the parts. It was unexpectedly nervewracking to hear the words I wrote being read by someone else as their own words. Would it suck? Would it sound likeme talking to myself? Turns out, it felt and sounded good. As they settled into the roles, and we talked about the characters between readings, they kept getting better and better. By...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2002

Update: Met with DP two

Update: Met with DP two nights in a row, discussing casting, scheduling, the script (which may go through another revision very soon), and some ideas for adding a shoot day in NYC. We're also going to do some readings/camera tests to help finalize casting. Alice, friend of Jonah's was along tonight; look forward to her joining. She's got some good experience, connections, and her french is excellent. The script's been downloaded far more than I expected (I never download pdf's)....
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Posted by greg allen at 02:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2002

YIKES. Within five minutes of

YIKES. Within five minutes of posting the script, I see the opening scene of IFC's With the Filmmaker: Martin Scorcese by Albert Maysles, where The Man says: The worst thing when you're preparing a film, is the endless stream of opinions and suggestions you get; people talking and talking. You can't concentrate and hear the one voice you need to focus on--your own. My automatic (deadpan) reply: "Are you talkin' to me? Are you talkin' to ME??"...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

Considerations made in posting the

Considerations made in posting the script for this short, called (for the moment) Souvenir: Adequately guarding intellectual property (Joe Eszterhas' Souvenir, rated NC-17, opening May 15") Having to deal with a wave of comments and suggestions ("Loved your script. I've got a few notes...") Having to deal with deafening silence & lack of reaction ("monthly traffic report: 2mb/ monthly allowed: 10000mb") This script under construction (it's currently v1.5.1, sure to change many more times within the two weeks remaining before...
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Posted by greg allen at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2002

Making this film means keeping

Making this film means keeping "artist hours," means watching the Australian Open semis live on ESPN2 while storyboarding. Updating the storyboard means ftp'ing on the site, means checking my logs. it's been a while. Favorite search engine query bringing me a visitor (from google): "I went to high school with Ben Affleck"...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:23 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2002

I've found a DP (director

I've found a DP (director of photography, or cinematographer, variously), Jonah Freeman, a brilliant artist who works in video and installation. Very excited. The last week has been spent rewriting and looking for a lead actor, who'll have to carry the whole thing, basically. The actor I wanted first, Ed Norton, just started shooting a new Hannibal Lecter film two weeks ago, so he's out. Jonah and I are meeting with some people today who he's worked with before. Stay...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2002

Details about the short: Cast:

Details about the short: Cast: New Yorker, 30, m His Wife, 16 (just kidding. 30), f [phone voice only] Mechanic, 22, m [french] Cafe Owner, 50, f [french] Farmer, 85, m [french] Locations: CDG/Roissy Albert, France & surrounding region...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2002

The last two weeks, I

The last two weeks, I have been consumed by the task of writing a screenplay for a short film that has been percolating/eating at me/distracting me since the late fall. ( You do the math.) I'm thinking of posting either an in-process or a finished version of the script here soon; we'll see. Shooting should take only about three days. The format a short film takes--as dictated by various film festival submission requirements and a group called The Academy of...
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Posted by greg allen at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2002

How NOT to screen video

How NOT to screen video of farmers baling hay that you shot on your first day of your first location: 1) Watch Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, in which nearly every scene looks like a Vermeer, a Hopper, shot at "magic hour."[note: this link's a bit random; a blurb on magic hour from a home entertainment center dealer] 2)Watch your own. shot on DV. You know, I have to say, I started writing this entry before I screened our tape,...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2001

This morning on NPR, there

This morning on NPR, there was a commentary about the Christmas Truce, a moment in the first year of WWI when British and German troops left their trenches, met in No Man's Land, and exchanged cigarettes and jam, sang Christmas carols, and even played soccer. This ad hoc truce was unofficial and unsanctioned, and it obviously didn't last, but it was a last vestige of a human, individual, moral approach to war that was rendered obsolete by WWI's technological advances....
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Posted by greg allen at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2001

The script: Some people have

The script: Some people have asked if I’ll post the script here, and I feel a little odd to tell them there really isn’t one at this point. It’s not really a matter of saying, “It’s a documentary; there IS no script,” because plenty of documentary films are scripted, or staged, or laid out before they’re shot. When I worked on a documentary for Japanese public television right after graduating from college, I got self-righteously indignant before interviewing an expert...
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Posted by greg allen at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)