Category:making movies

If screenwriter/director Avary doesn't reveal enough for you in his Q&A session with the Guardian, go to his weblog--which he must deplore. And when you view his webcam, he may flip you off personally.

He was working on the script for David Fincher's remake of Dogtown and Z Boys but the Guardian has him adapting Bret Ellis's Glamorama now. But since I missed his garage sale (an army of professional rummage sale zombies rummaged it clean as soon as the garage door opened), I'm not the most up-to-date source of Avary goings on.

Filmmaker reports that in the face of religious boycotts, the missionary-meets-boy tale, Latter Day, was dumped by its Salt Lake venue, Madstone Theaters. Actually, this is good news; it means they might be open to dumping Mel Gibson's controversy-baiting The Passion of Christ, which is scheduled to open Feb. 25.

In the Village Voice, Ed Halter hears the good news about Mormon Cinema. [O me of little faith...] I think I may have been friends with one of the silly Mormon comedy producers. If not, I'm sure gonna be friends with them soon.

Other things I just posted about that turned up in the Voice [Choire's making money for this, too. Note to self...]: Independent film's dead! Long live independent film!, and John Cage festivities, this time at Anthology Film Archive (tomorrow night, tickets available until after the films start, from the sound of things).

Gotta run, but before I do, the fine fine folks at Filmmaker Magazine timed the launch of their weblog to the opening of the under-the-radar Sundance Film Festival. Sundance is not, as its name suggests, held in a warm, sunny place, but in Park City, in the state of Utah. It may not be of any interest to you, but if it is, the festival has a little website.

Also at Filmmaker this month, the makings of a great short film, tips from a festival programmer. [via GreenCine]

I see through fellow Best NY Blog nominee Lockhart Steele's feeble ruse to get me to post more non-NYC stuff. Even as I'm powerless to thwart it.

Tommy Ryk's documentary, Work Sucks, I'm Going Skiing follows the antics of a New York hotel developer in South Beach. No story there, folks. Throw a rock in SoSoHo (as I called it in 1990, when then-friend Tony Goldman put me up in the Park Central) and you'll hit a New York hotel developer.

No, Ryk's film is about The Creek, a hostel-turned-hotel, full of wacky young artists, guests, and contractors. It opens at the Made in Miami Film Festival. According to this Herald article, Ryk was hired to shoot web video of artists redoing the guestrooms, but instead turned his cameras on guests who stayed on to help renovate; ersatz security guards auditioning for porn flicks, a cast of characters you could never write without sounding like Weekend at Bernie's III.

Christopher Guest talks at length with the Guardian's Richard Grant about the incredible levels of authenticity required for making fake documentaries.

Hilarious anecdotes from This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind ensue. If Grant's right when he calls it "the funniest film ever made," the DVD of Spinal Tap is twice that funny; the outtakes and deleted scenes are easily as long and as good as the original version. A Mighty Wind opens next week in the UK.

Oh, and Jamie Lee Curtis says she gets better dinner reservations when she calls herself Baroness Haden-Guest. I'm sorry, but is that something you actually call yourself? Isn't that why you employ a herald? I need to check with some titled friends on that and get back to you.

On another site, the headline would read, "Walter Murch edits Cold Mountain, but on MacCentral, the headline is "Final Cut Pro used to edit Cold Mountain."

Posthouse DigitalFilmTree set Murch up on four full FCP stations and several PowerBook-based "satellite stations, " which they used when there was massive amounts of footage. DVD Studio Pro was used to burn and distribute the dailies to everyone, and special effects went back and forth for review via Quicktime.

Apple, thankfully, lets Murch--who is an editing legend, if for no other reason than surviving the year-long torture that was editing Apocalypse Now--do most of the talking. If you like that interview, you should definitely read his book, In the Blink of An Eye, which recounts some Apocalypse Now tales while exploring the theory of why editing works in the first place.

Related: Murch also praised FCP for enabling him to give his assistants experience editing professionally shot material. In a sidebar on and an article at Post Magazine, he explains how he'd create tutorials with dailie and his notes, and let the kids have a go at it. Nice work if you can get it.

And if that's not enough for you, check out Millimeter's detailed article on Cold Mountain's workflow, including putting 600,000 feet of film into the shared storage/access system; creating change lists and synching FCP with post-production sound tools (both challenges which the new FCP4.0 addresses handily. time to upgrade, I guess); and color-correcting. After all that, you, too will be able to finish a $130 million Romanian epic. But by the time you raise the money, the whole process'll be available on a laptop.

Just ask Dharma. According to the Formula, you can have only one creatively named character per sitcom. Fortunately, Wired Magazine articles have no such limit. And so, in this month's wacky episode edition, Choire and Xeni team up to report on NYC Midnight, a DV Dojo -sponsored contest to write, shoot, and edit a film in New York, all in 24 hours.

What's that, the contest was in October? And it started in May with a rewritten press release on Daily Candy? So Choire and Xeni had to sit on this great story for months, at least until the damn check cleared? That's magazine publishing for you. I'd call it tired, but it's the end of the year; everything's tired.

[via Gothamist] Jimmy Orr, the Choire Sicha to George Bush's Nick Denton, has posted his new short film, Barney Cam II: Barney Reloaded, on his weblog, Elizabeth Bumiller, the Times' specialist on the dependent film industry, gives it a glowing review and talks with Orr, who co-produced Barney II with Bob deServi. DeServi is best known for his work as the key grip on many of Scott Sforza's productions, which are being shown on TV everywhere, all the time, on every channel.

Scott Orr films Barney II with what looks like a Sony VX-2000, Magic Hour? Scott Orr demonstrates his handheld video technique in the making of Barney Cam II. Image: Paul Morse,

Like Elephant director Gus Van Sant, Orr prefers working with non-professional actors (although it doesn't seem like he budgeted much time for rehearsals). He's got a scrappy, run-and-gun style which constrasts sharply with Sforza's theatrically staged fictions.

As these behind-the-scenes shots reveal, Orr also scorns the debilitatingly large budgets favored by his White Housemates. His equipment package and crew are strictly barebones: a Sony VX-2000 (good, but not Combat Camera good), with a camera-mounted mic feeding into the XLR adapter (no sound guy) and using only available lighting. Of course, none of this is unexpected; compensating for a small package is a recurring theme on Orr's site.

Also screening at
Secretary Evans Reads "Cowboy Night Before Christmas" [Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, FYI]
Mrs. Bush Reads "Angelina's Christmas"

Ungrateful criticism of diServi and Sforza by their star actor
Bumiller's first review of Scott Sforza and Bob diServi productions.

December 16, 2003

Combat Camera

Finally, someone's asking the right questions in Iraq, like, "how'd they get that shot?" Virginia Heffernan reports in the Times on the ultimate embeds: the soldiers who go into battle armed with digital video cameras ("the camera is our first weapon") to record US military activity. Like Saddam Hussein's medical checkup, which includes shots--like the glowing underside of Hussein's tongue--that Heffernan rates as high art.

Cameraman unknown, Video still from Saddam Hussein's medical examination by a US Army physician, image:, getty images what's the opposite of independent? Film, that is. image: images

These combat camera crews use Sony PD 150's, just like civilian photojournalists (and the rest of us). In fact, I bought my first camera, a Sony VX-1000, from a war-documenting friend (whose production company, no coincidence, is named Combat Camera), who was supposed to star in Souvenir November 2001 until he got pulled into Tora Bora (ahh, the memories).

Like most documentarians, these filmmakers have a hard time getting distribution; Pentagon suits are even tighter-fisted than Miramax. But if they make a real heartstrings-pulling story --like the Jessica Lynch rescue or the Hussein body cavity search--when it does hit screens, it opens verrry wide.

December 10, 2003

Gus Van Sant's Go-to Guy

Gus Van Sant, Elias McConnell, and Dany Wolf
at Cannes 2003, image:

There he is, scorched in Death Valley and on the Saltflats of Utah; in a mold-closed school with a barebones crew on scooters; and on the Palais steps of Cannes, where he accepted the Palme D'Or this year for Elephant.

Gus Van Sant? Sure, he's there, too, but I'm talking about Dany Wolf, the producer. The guy who actually has to figure out how to make the movies Gus sees in his head.

While I've been a fan of Van Sant's since Drugstore Cowboy, I've been very interested in his recent bold filmmaking experiments, which coincide with my own entry into the field. I wanted to find out Wolf's on-set experience and insight on making the films that are remaking film.

Below, read my November 2003 discussion with Wolf, an exclusive feature of

[Note: No underage Filipino data entry workers were harmed in the transcription of this 3,000-word piece. Special thanks to Dany Wolf, Jay Hernandez and Jeff Hill, who aren't doing so bad, either.]

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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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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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about this archive

Category: making movies

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99