While surfing for Cannes reports, I found this great Indiewire interview with Abbas Kiarostami from the 2001 Double Take Documentary Film Festival, timed to the premiere of ABC Africa, his doc about AIDS in, well, Africa. Some highlights:

  • The film was made during "location scouting," when he was still deciding whether to accept the UN's invitation to make a documentary.
  • "But when I actually started using [the digital cameras] -- and when I realized its possibilities and what I could do with them -- I realized that I have wasted, in a way, 30 years of my career using the 35mm camera, because that camera, for the type of work that I do, is more of a hindrance than a communication tool."

  • Information architecture question continued from the last post: Using the content of the weblog itself as a starting point, I created the directory of films and directors I've referenced and turned it into a navigation tool. When I've only mentioned a director (e.g., Paul Thomas Anderson) without specifying a film, I've left it off for now. We'll see how it works. I feel comfortable with this method of mining the archives, though. Still working on the best way to highlight non-production, non-film entries. They may eventually sort themselves into "art" and "about me" categories.


    There's no clean category for rants about some of my domain names expiring unexpectedly, throwing my sites into chaos for 3-5 days (I'm told), so I'll leave that story for another web log.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid. "All twenty screens were showing Attack of the Clones at midnight..."


    As you can tell from the Google sitesearch function, I've been looking for weblogging tools to make the archives accessible in a more intelligent way (Even I get tired of scrolling through a month's worth of gripping prose. ahem.) Talked with a classmate and friend, John Borthwick about it, since he's always been very smart and on top of where the web's going. (two data points: Read his testimony in the MS antitrust case here. AND he was an early supporter of Blogger back when things like that could be a business. [and now, with BloggerPro, they may be again. Thanks, Ev!]) So far, nothing, though.


    The crux of the problem is that archives work well for searching along the time axis, but not much else. Regardless of what David Gelernter says (in this case, in an interview with George Gilder), time is not always the best way to sort data. Of course, he doesn't say that it is, but his schtick right now is Lifestreams, a time-based knowledge management paradigm. Even the interface king, Steven Johnson doesn't have anything to say about what I guess is an IA (information architecture) question. (In a recent Salon article, Johnson does talk about weblogs as the utopian collective mind, "making sense of the web's infinity of links." I mean, that's great for the universe, but what's in it for me? All the recent buzz about weblogs seems to focus on their power as a newsfilter/zeitgeist-o-meter, or top-ten-generator. All that's well and good; Isigned greg.org up for the Weblog Bookwatch. But there seems to be an aspect to weblogging that is distinct from this supposed desire to be the next Andrew Sullivan. As Albert Maysles said in an earlier post:


    Most people never get the chance to have themselves truly represented and thereís nothing that they'd rather do than have people. . . somebody...pay attention to who they really are, to give them that recognition.

    Weblogging seems to make this an increasingly attainable reality for those people who don't happen to have a legendary filmmaker documenting their story.


    Some things I've thought about for presenting the content on this site:
  • Presenting steps/phases/happenings in the life of the movie project in a more visually oriented timeline.
  • Highlighting non-movie-related posts that are either popular (e.g., Andreas Gursky and Madonna, although Google is the source of these hits in the first place) or that I like and want to share (e.g., comparing real-life farmers with Terrence Malick's).
  • Top-ten posts, although this can be a scam, or at least a fabrication, as it appears to be on NUblog, a cranky web content site.
  • An index, like they used to have in books (I guess they still do.) I'm interested in seeing what emerges from some quantitative and KM-related analysis of greg.org; it surprises me how many entries in September 2001 were about poetry, for example. And then to see what movies I've watched and commented on could be interesting, at least to me (and to the future scholars of my oeuvre, of course. I'm that kind of a magnanimous guy.).

    Any comments or suggestions?

  • Went to an IFP24 Market orientation meeting tonight. This doesn't mean Souvenir's been selected for the market yet; it was a Q&A session for filmmakers hoping to participate in the Market. Here are the bullet points, primarily as they relate to Souvenir:

  • In the section Souvenir's entered, they'll select 15 shorts from probably 2-300 submitted.
  • The major prospects for a short film are pretty clear, and the Market is useful for at least the first two (in order of priority to me): first phase of a feature/series; calling card; and acquisition/distribution target.
  • To wit, focus more attention on film festival programmers and production companies than on distributors and buyers.
  • Be prepared to discuss the next project, whether it's expanding the short into a feature or directing another script (both)
  • Also, focus efforts not only on the short term (hook me up!), but on the long-term as well. (It's a relationship business, after all.)
  • Spend wisely (i.e., not that much) on glossy press kits, promo gear, etc. for industry people. They don't really care; they're looking for and at product, the talent; not the peripheral crap. (But what about all those muffin baskets I've been sending out?) Save the glossy promo material for the fundraising.


    LOLOL. Jon Stewart just said, "We're Oldie McOldington," on The Daily Show. And now Rupert Everett's tearing France a new one. Heh. He's funny.


    Of course, as soon as I started this entry, I turned on IFC and Ridicule was on, so I had to watch it. It's by Patrice Leconte, and it is a rippingly funny, smart movie about the court of Louis XIV, where wit was the coin of the realm, so to speak. Here's Roger Ebert's review.

  • All that Adwords talk got me thinking, so I climbed in bed with Google myself (or went into the alley behind a dumpster with it, anyway). I launched a small campaign, titled "Damn you!" to promote the movie. In it, I faux-curse some of the directors whose work/example inspired/encouraged me to get off my butt and make a movie.


    Each ad starts out, "Damn you, < insert director's name here >!" which is not a reference to Happy Gilmore, or even to Homer Simpson, although you're getting close. It fell from the lips of God's (and the NRA's) anointed, Charlton Heston, in the last scene of Planet of the Apes.


    Testing my campaign, I found this article on Apple's site about the production of Steven Soderbergh's new film, Full Frontal.


    Full Frontal, as you can read, was made with nearly the same level of equipment (DV and Final Cut Pro) as Souvenir November 2001. And in just four months. 18 days of shooting. $2 million budget. With Julia Roberts, David Duchovny, David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener. There's a website that documents the production of the film, week by week.


    Now, if you have trouble telling the difference between Souvenir and Full Frontal, just remember: Full Frontal's shot in PAL with DAT sound. Souvenir was shot in NTSC with MD sound.

    Submitted Souvenir November 2001 to the following festivals today:

  • Locarno Int'l Film Festival
  • Short Cuts Cologne
  • Siena Int'l Short Film Festival

  • Poetry using Google Adwords: One more non-traditional (at least by contemporary standards) medium for creative expression (besides ebay and amazon reviews, which I mentioned last week.) The difference with adwords, of course, is that it costs you money ($15/thousand views these days). This guy did it in April. I did it in February. 2001.


    There are two creative elements of an ad on google, of course: the ad itself, and the keywords it appears on. To drive a little traffic to my site (and to amuse myself, really) I set an ad to appear on searches for "haiku." It wasn't that the site that has anything to do with haiku, it was Google's adword format--which had launched at the end of 2000--which clearly resembled haiku:


    Invite visitors
    to my cluster of sites
    through keyword purchase

    While editing this post, I found an interesting article from the Online Journalism Review on the emergence of text ads.

    May 12, 2002

    I was on a panel

    I was on a panel today at -scope, an art fair held here in NYC this weekend. Hoping to follow in the tradition of the Gramercy International Art Fair, which began in the mid 90's by filling the rooms of the seedy-but-cool Gramercy Hotel with young galleries from here and there, -scope put galleries into three floors of the Gershwin Hotel and scheduled a bunch of ancillary events: a benefit, a concert or something, and "Collector's Day," (aka Mothers' Day). Here are some of my views on collecting art, from a wall text of an exhibition I curated 18 months ago.


    It was fine. A panel discussion is one of those tricky events where something a self-absorbed person deludes himself into believing (that, of course people want to hear him hold forth on whatever enters his head) veers dangerously close to reality (people do come to hear him say something; it's not a panel of mimes or monks, after all.). But too much self-deprecation aside, it went pretty well, I think. people only began to flee after an 1.3 hours or so, a respectable amount of attention to pay. So kudos to Bill, who organized and moderated, who probably collects more than I do, and who was easily dissuaded from holding an "art collector's game show" (his first idea). [Click here to become a contestant on Jeopardy!]

    May 10, 2002

    Just got back from the

    Just got back from the Tribeca Film Festival screening of The Director's Cut of Cinema Paradiso. What's the difference? Well, Giuseppe Tornatore originally released a 155-minute version of the film, which went unnoticed, then it got cut down to 123 minutes or so. That's when it won Cannes, Cesars, Igors, and the Oscar. So obviously, the thing to do is put back not only the missing 20 minutes, but an additional 15 minutes on top of that.


    So what's the difference in the story? In the movie experience? Since I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't know the story (It's been 13 years, after all. How long are we supposed to keep a secret?), I'll spoil it for you. When Toto/Salvatore goes back to his hometown for Alfredo's funeral, he finds, meets, comisserates, and hooks up with the grown-up Elena, his long-lost teenage love. The whole reason they were separated turns out to be the saintly Alfredo, who told Elena to forget Toto and not look back. That's the big difference.


    But as Vincent Vega wisely noted, It's the little differences. Toto's first sexual encounter is with the 'ho who turns tricks in the movies (and who gives him a nod years later outside Alfredo's funeral); the sister's married, with kids; Elena's parents were very involved and opposed to the kids' relationship; Toto's stint in the army was due to a bureaucratic error; he changed his name to make movies. It all adds up to more information and character exposition, but far a less coherent narrative arc and a much muddier emotional mandate. Toto's less likable, Alfredo's more meddling and less sympathetic, and Elena's, well, she can't live up to the idealized, true love that lived in Toto's mind (and that drove Toto to make his films). It was interesting to see the movie as a complex but ultimately negative example of a director's unfettered vision. That the shortest version could be "pulled" from the longer version, that it could be so completely different in its emotional nuances was very instructive.


    One last point: The setting of the film--in the aftermath of WWII--and the family's irrational waiting for the father to come back/their denial that he'd been killed resonated more than I remembered. Of course, on both the way in and the way out, festivalgoers crowded the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floor windows of the Battery Park mulitplex, which offered full frontal views of the World Trade Center site across the street.

    on the DC>NY amtrak: is a weblog like annoying conversations from the seats around you?

    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.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

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