January 21, 2003

Now Go Vote For This One

Lots of Robots, directed by Andy Murdock

This beautiful, entertaining Sundace Online entry, Lots of Robots is, amazingly, the product of one guy, animator Andy Murdock. Read about it at Wired. I love it, and not just because he has a website all about the making-of. Murdock's comments on the still above:
This is the first shot I created fof LOR. I had just purchased my new machine for home and I wanted to take it for a spin. I looked out window into the garden and saw a humming bird. How saccharine is that? But who needs to see another cg humming bird, I'm not about to compete with Mother Nature in the beauty department, so let's make a robot humming bird and a whole story to go along with it. What else am gonna do anywayÖ watch TV?

I find this to be the most enjoyable way to make art. You have no idea of what to do, but you start anyway. You put something down on the canvas to break the silence and just start reacting to what you see. Once you have a few critters walking around scratching their butts, you ask yourself, "What is that, and what's it doing there, where did it come from?" Now you have the beginnings of a story. Too many Hollywood stories come out of the "Formula." Want success, just change the names and fill in the blanks. I don't really want to know how this story will end until I get there. That way I get to enjoy it's flow along with everyone else. This is not the easy way, I know, but it's the way I like it. So thereÖonward.

"Get a Canadian friend to Tivo it for you in reruns."
-- an ain't-never-gonna-happen plea from Slate's Virginia Heffernan, who's taken on a thankless/hopeless/utterly quixotic task: stir up American interest in The Eleventh Hour, an earnest Canadian TV drama about "conscience-stricken producers" which plays like "a treatise by Susan Sontag."

Cyan's Colin Spoelman interviewed at Topic MagazineNow that S(J03) is locked and getting ready for color correction and film transfer, I thought I'd catch up with the guys at Cyan Pictures, who I'd been in only intermittent email contact with for the last few weeks. They're both walkin' the walk and talkin' the talk, in that order.

  • They're in production with Adam Goldberg's feature I Love Your Work, which emerged from veteran indie Muse Productions on.
  • Their first short, Coming Down the Mountain, has been accepted into the (rapidly approaching) Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival
  • And EVP/model ("just part-time") Colin Spoelman gives good interview in Topic Magazine. Remember, ladies, gentlemen, writers of all ages: he's a Scorpio, and if you want to get on his good side, his drink is Maker's Mark.

  • SCENE: A Park City Mill-about
    ELVIS MITCHELL scans the lobby, sees HOLLY HUNTER standing, quiet and alone. He says to himself, "What the [expletive deleted, Utah S.C. 1999-104.2.1] is this, The Piano? Why ain't that broad talking?", and determines to do something about it. The result is in today's NY Times: the actress gives Elvis her thoughtful views on indie film marketing, audiences' different reactions to Sundance and Cannes, and translating fleeting Sundance buzz into actual box office success.

    "On the other hand," she said, "I think this marketing is provocative territory. There's a real contradiction, which is anathema to the purpose ó nurture independent film and filmmakers. Having a truck back up with $10 million changes things, not always to the good."
    Yeah, just dump it in the corner. Do I need to sign someth-- Wha-- Hey! Hey! Someone shut her up!

    S-11, directed by Stephen MarshallBreakbeat meets media hacking in Stephen Marshall's S-11, which was made for GNN, Guerilla News Network. Where Norman Cowie's Scenes from an endless war (which screened last month before Souvenir (November 2001)) used FoxNews sampling to underline media complicity, Marshall's S-11 is more powerfully and closely edited for musical and rhythmic effect, which enhances its criticism of the current administration's entire approach to the terrorist threat.

    Bumble Being, by Billy BlobFrom the Flash Filosopher, Billy Blob comes Bumble Being, the bee version of "the butterfly effect." Blob also did last year's Sundance-ruling Karma Ghost. (If you haven't changed your life yet, see it before it's too late.) It's stylin' and simple, even if it doesn't have quite the impact (so to speak) of KG, but the Flash bio that accompanies it is hi-larious.

    One, directed by Stewart Hendler, image:phantompictures.com One, directed by Stewart Hendler (image: phantompictures.com)
    Best for last: Stewart Hendler's film, One, is a stunningly beautiful short about the painful last moments of a young couple's relationship. The hauntingly lit cinematography and fragmented, melancholy-tinged memories are reminiscent of the flashback scenes DP John Toll did in Terrence Malick's Thin Red Line, and I think we all know how things turned out for that guy... One was produced by Phantom Pictures; this was their first project. DP John Ealer, however, is a veteran by comparison. Watch this one full-screen.

    seagal.gif Mafia, Mafia, Mafia. Against my better judgment, I feel compelled to bring up Steven Seagal, aka "The Action Lama," once again. He's suing (again) the mafia (again) for harassment (again), only this time, it's not the (via Staten Island) Italians, but the Germans. According to his suit, visible at The Smoking Gun, Seagal is being extorted and threatened with a "ruined reputation" for unspecificied damage he inflicted on a Berlin villa he rented while shooting Half Past Dead (that's the title, critical appraisal, and box office performance, btw). In case the extortion charge doesn't hold up, SS (d'oh!) added some more:

  • Fraud - Seagal's reputation suffered from unwittingly associating with "nefarious underworld figures"
  • Infliction of Emotional Distress - The defendant/owner of the villa "broke into and entered" the villa during the lease period.
  • Breach of Lease - The defendant "refused to provide any sheets and bedding," apparently contradicting the NYTimes' claim that "(Tert�n Chungdrag Dorje) slept here" increases property values.

    Unfortunately for Mr Seagal, he undoes his own case in the filing: "The great success of his movies attests to the quality of Plaintiff's reputation in the movie industry and in the public."

  • January 15, 2003

    Maybe Take In A Show

    The Architectural League, Cooper Union, and MoMA are sponsoring presentations and roundtable discussions by the WTC site architects and teams. Go ask the "Dream Team" what they're trying to cover up. [Sample question (from The Last Emperor), while hysterically, spitting mad: "Confess your crimes!!"]
    Today (Wed.) at Cooper Union starts at 4PM and goes until 10:30 (it's sold out, but I bet it'll thin out around, say, 7.)
    Tomorrow (Thurs.) at Town Hall is a more civilized two hour program, starting at 7PM. MoMA's Terence "I helped pick these teams" Riley is one of the moderators.
    [thanks, Gawker!]

    January 15, 2003

    NYC vs. DC

    Like Europe, it's the little differences. One that dawned on me at the gym: Underclothes

  • Manhattan locker room: shorts, some undershirts
  • DC locker room: undershirts tucked into shorts
  • Williamsburg locker room: I'm sure everyone'd be goin' commando. If there were a gym in Williamsburg, that is

    Sorry, no pictures. [And, thankfully, Frank Rich was not involved in this comparison in any way.]

  • This is what I sent to New Directors/New Films:
    Synopsis: A man carefully irons a shirt before spending the day at the rural Utah dry cleaners once owned by his grandfather.

    Utah Ark? It is shot in one day and is about the past, memory, and the links between history and present. It's not one take, ain't the Hermitage, though, and we didn't shoot the nearby Springville Art Museum...

    Dogme? Well, it's close. Perhaps fitting for a movie shot in small-town Utah, it adheres quite closely to the Vow of Chastity. But the Dogme filmmakers are fighting auteur-y demons I don't see, I have to confess, we didn't put a record player in the backseat of the driving shots, so our music is verboten. And they don't certify short films anyway Dog-me films, indeed.

    The Grandson: No violent deaths, no throbbing neck veins and stifled rage, but from the reviews for The Son and a familiarity with/admiration for the Dardenne brothers' previous work, I have to imagine some of their films' stylistic tendencies and refusal of melodrama have an (indirect) influence on my work. Cf. Souvenir's setting in a loud manual work-place, the handheld camerawork and (near) absence of music. I can only hope I attain some of their film's emotional impact. Read David Edelstein's Slate review .

    Gulfstream G500, image: gulfstream.comMy street may have more Gulfstreams than any other in the world; the peer pressure to get one is intense.
    Alec Wildenstein has one; he flew Nobu chefs around in it for his Russian girlfriend.
    Edgar Bronfman has a G-V, although it's not clear for how much longer.
    Donatella Versace refuses to fly anything else.
    Ivana Trump doesn't have one. And if Tony Mottola had one at Sony, he doesn't have it now.

    Lately, for reasons I will soon explain, Cessna, the makers of the popular Citation business jets, have been wooing me to purchase one of their planes. A stronger man might be able to do it, but I worry; if I bought a Citation, would I have to park it around the corner, so my G-Thang neighbors don't harsh on me? What's a simple filmmaker to do? I want to be independent, take a stand, but it seems like folly to go against the sentiment of "the Manhattan street."

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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