Category:making movies

Two films by Etienne Sauret, including the eerie WTC: The First 24 Hours, [which screened on the program with my first film at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight] are showing at Film Forum today through March 16. Etienne will introduce the films tonight at 6:15 and 8:00.

Mark Holcomb reviews them in the Voice and gets cranky about the FDNY. Stephen Holden reviews them more straightforwardly in the Times.

February 20, 2004

Ford Exploring

Tom Ford has signed with CAA agent (and longtime friend) Brian Lourd to find films to direct. The NYPost's Suzanne Kapner pitches him a really edgy story:

Tom Ford after his last Gucci menswear collection, image: Robert Evans called. He wants his schtick back...

"For his last Gucci menswear show, there were scantily clad dancers with big hair and heavy eye makeup gyrating around stripper poles and worldly gentlemen with tumblers of whiskey.

Keep an eye out for such images in a future film - perhaps a cross between Ocean's Eleven and Showgirls?"

Suzanne, Brian's not taking calls right now. Can I get your number, and I'll pass it along?

errol_morris_foot.jpgLast week, in the Sony Classics offices on Madison Avenue, I sat down to talk with Errol Morris, whose current documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Morris's films are best known for the intensity of the interviews he conducts. He invented the Interrotron, a teleprompter setup that gets the interviewee to look and speak straight into the camera. I, in the mean time, didn't have a digital recorder, so I decided to use a DV camera, the Sony VX-1000, to record our discussion. (Plus, that'd give me a chance to drop it off at the Sony Service Center downstairs to get the viewfinder fixed when I was done.)

I set the camera on the coffee table. Not only did I not get Morris looking directly into the camera, I ended up with an entire tapeful of Morris's bouncing sneaker. Just as he did in The Fog of War, I structured our discussion around eleven lessons. [OK, fine. I went through the transcript and stuck eleven smartass lessons in as an editorial conceit. Close enough.]

Lesson One: Start an interview with an Academy Award-nominated director you've admired for fifteen years by sucking up. Big time.

Greg Allen: First congratulations on the film and the nomination. I should tell you, seeing Thin Blue Line in college was one of the reasons I wanted to become a filmmaker. It was so powerful and so not what you'd expect a documentary to be, especially at that time. So, thank you.

Errol Morris:

Thank you.

GA: With The Fog of War, a great deal of attention has been focused on the interview footage itself and what McNamara did or didn't say, and was he going to take responsibility for the war or were you going to grill him about this or that. But your films have such a strong aesthetic and dramatic sense, which you achieve with other elements. I'd really like to hear more about how you go about making a film and what your process is for the putting those other elements together.

Lesson Two: I am a babbling sycophant.

February 19, 2004

Che Sera

Che Guevara onesies and kiddie shirts, from Appaman, image: Doin' it for the children of the revolution: Malick's directing another movie before these kids graduate from college.
Production is set for four months, starting in July--this July, 2004-- for Terrence Malick's next film, Che, starring Benecio Del Toro as the world's most logo-friendly marxist. Malick's writing and directing. Del Toro and Steven Soderbergh (I thought he was taking a year off?) will produce the $40 million picture, which comes--if you calculate by Malick-Time-- almost 14 years ahead of schedule (i.e., six, not twenty years after his last movie, The Thin Red Line).

[a Guardian/ Variety story.]

February 19, 2004

Stop-Action Knitting

Anthony McCall's Line Describing A Circle, image:[via Fimoculous] Michel Gondry's new video for Steriogram is all stop-action knitting. There's a little too much Peter Gabriel going on, but the shots where the band's watching a knitted movie are brilliant.

It reminded me of a piece at the Whitney's "Into the Light" exhibit of American video art, Anthony McCall's 1973 Line Describing A Cone, where a projected image of a circle created a cone of light in the smoke-filled gallery.

I just watched all Gondry's videos, and I must say, they made me a little tired. The White Stripes Lego video is probably my favorite. The transposition of filmspace onto flat lego boards is pretty ingenious. There's some of that, with knitting in perspective, etc., in the Steriogram video, too.

[update: it didn't occur to me to add a link to buy the Steriogram CD until an hour later.]

Don't know how I missed this. The Guardian/Observer's Damon Wise goes on a revealing to Filmbyen, or Film Town, a Danish hive of suburban movie production, founded by Lars Von Trier and his producing partner, Peter "The Eel" Jensen. (That nickname'll be TMI in a minute, by the way.) Dogme95 co-conspirator Thomas Vinterberg has also set up shop in "town."

At the agressively but unsurprisingly unconventional Filmbyen, VT and The Eel insist on various musical and flag-raising rituals and on keeping alive whatever of their communist ideals they can. We're talking actual, card-carrying communists here, not Fox News slash-and-burn invective-style communists.

And on public nudity. Wise has a hard time maintaining eye contact: "Like ourselves and the rest of the pool's other patrons Vinterberg is wearing a swimming costume, but Jensen and Von Trier just whip off their clothes and dive in. Jensen's genitalia are on full display and we escape with just a glimpse of Von Trier's pallid bottom." What follows is a discussion Von Trier's long, hard, sweaty...process of writing, working with actors, and making his latest film, Dogville.

[Dogville opened this weekend in London (and which comes to the US in early April). See Philip French's dazed Observer review, or the official Dogville UK site.]

While I have nothing to add about communist genitalia, I have seen Dogville and will write about it soon.

After British director James Miller was killed--shot in the neck by an Israeli army sniper in Gaza in May 2003--while filming an HBO documentary, his wife Sophy, field producer Dan Edge and other crew members felt compelled to complete the movie. Her story is in the Telegraph, and Edge writes in the Guardian about making the film--and watching Miller get shot in front of him.

a sketch of the location where director James Miller was shot by Israeli soldiers on 2 May 2003, image:
The finished documentary, Death in Gaza, is a fly-on-the-wall account of a young Palestinian boy and his interactions with paramilitaries barely older than himself. The film also includes extended footage of Miller and his translator being shot as they approached an Israeli APC, while shouting "British journalist!" and waving a white flag. Sketches made during an independent investigation bear an eerie resemblance to camera setup diagrams used on the set. To date, no one has been held accountable for Miller's death.

The film screened last week as part of the the Berlinale's Panorama Dokumente.

Related: An account of Miller's death and an open letter to the Israeli Defense Forces from the Committee to Protect Journalists., a site set up by his family and friends, which contains the results of an investigation by Chiron Resources, a company which specializes in media support in hostile environments.

Related but lighter: background on the Panorama Dokumente, from Filmmaker Magazine's blog
David Hudson's and Cory Vielma's exhaustive-but-insightful daily coverage from the Berlin Festival, at GreenCine. It's the next best thing to being there.

[via Gothamist] The Style Section article a few weeks ago where Neil Strauss plays wingman to some David Blaine wannabe named Mystery (Seriously. You think the Times didn't factcheck something so goofy?) has been optioned by Columbia Pictures (along with a book based on the piece). The price? "In the low six figures." Strauss will advise, but not adapt.

February 10, 2004

K Street: Who's Acting Now?

Cheneyac Mary Matalin under oath in the Plame investigation, image:

For the ever-popular Law & Order, the producers mine today's headlines for new story ideas. HBO's K Street is just the opposite. Not in the "what, it blew and nobody watched it?" way you're thinking, in the "life imitates art" way.

In one K Street plotline, the actress and former Cheneyac Mary Matalin worried about being investigated by the Feds for leaking a CIA operative's identity. At the time, the subject was innocuous or implausible enough to pass the "no substance" filter that actual DC operatives ran their cameo appearances through. But last month, the Washington Post reports, Matalin and several other White House appointees were hauled before a grand jury to testify about who in the administration leaked a CIA operative's identity. She even wore the same "passes for fashion in Washington" jacket for both gigs. (Hey Mary, I know the IRS now works for you now, but I hope you got a receipt for that thing. Not that HBO wants it back...)

How to tell the truth from the fiction, then? Easy. On K Street, Matalin's lament rambled on (and on and on) over several episodes. In The Real World, her only line was, "I can't comment."

February 3, 2004

The All Too Real World

Mary-Ellis Bunim, the co-creator of The Real World, which revolutionized television while destroying civilization, died of breast cancer at age 57.

Bunim also produced The Real Cancun, which, while better than Justin and Kelly, was not as entertaining as the reviews of it. Take some solace, at least, knowing she probably had fun making it.

Very related: Support the fight against breast cancer

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Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

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about this archive

Category: making movies

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Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
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Chop Shop
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1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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