Sunday, September 23, 2007

Check out my latest project: Comedic shorts promoting the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

DISH premieres at OUTFEST 2007!

Come see my latest short, DISH, at this summer's Outfest -- LA's gay and lesbian film festival.

Monday, July 16th 7:00pm at the Barnsdall Theatre
in Silverlake, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 near Vermont.

DISH features in-depth interviews with fans of a popular television talk show host -- and you're just going to have to see it to find out who it is! Quick paced editing and eye popping animated graphics fuse the interviews together in a “Greek Chorus” of enthusiastic opinion. Whether they agree or if they’re in total opposition to each other, the interviewees form a virtual community where no one’s opinion is too obscure or outrageous.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A friend asked me to go see BECAUSE I SAID SO tonight and I was game, if only for the fact that I knew NOTHING about the movie. One of the benefits of not having TV (that's right! No cable, no rabbit ears, just a DVD player) is not seeing commercials for movies so much so that I'm sick of them even before they arrive in theatres. Of course, I've been known to even close my eyes and turn the channel (that is, when I did have TV) if a trailer or commercial came on for a movie that I am really excited about. But the last time I did something like that, it was for SLEEPY HOLLOW and, after I saw the piece of crap, I'd wished that I HAD opened my eyes!

But I digress.

I suppose I did know something about the movie from the poster. I knew Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore were in it. Two actors that I like. And, from the looks of it, Diane's the mom and she's kinda bossy. Got that. Whatever. So it was going to be a chick flick romantic comedy. That's cool. As a gay man, I don't have as big a problem with chick flicks as much as a straight guy might. Predictably, I was a big fan of DEVIL WEARS PRADA. But I'm also a pretty tough critic for romantic comedies, ANNIE HALL being the penultimate golden ring to reach for. I'm pretty sure it was the Diane Keaton card that possessed me to spend 11 bucks on this one. Fine. You caught me. Plus, Michael Lehmann directed it and HEATHERS is definitely in my top 20 and by far the best high school comedy EVER (CLUELESS and FERRIS BULLER running a close behind.)

Needless to say, Diane and Michael, I was pretty disappointed. ANNIE HALL or HEATHERS this movie is NOT.

Everything started out well enough. Single mom raises three beautiful daughters and lives her lonely life through them, marrying the first two in a pre title sequence montage of upper class wedding cake bliss. The hair, the clothes, the prop husbands who NEVER speak (then you would have to pay them). I've been on this train before.
I soon realized that the movie was going to be one long string of romantic comedy cliches. And I settled in to enjoy the ride.

Mandy is the youngest and unlucky in love. Mom places a personal ad for her without telling her and interviews the guys herself. Cue the "ugly guy" montage. But one emerges as the "perfect" guy for her daughter, Jason (Tom Everett Scott) , but a dark horse, Johnny (Gabriel Macht) crashes her interview session.

Cheesy montages aside, I was still holding out hope of a decent movie going experience. But I totally threw in the towel when Mommy turned a suspicious eye on Johnny and made her best guess on his past by clicking off various cliches about him without even asking. His comeback is "Thanks. I love being reduced to a stereotype." I waited for the clever comment from Diane's character, calling him on his ANNIE HALL reference, but no ... nothing! NOTHING! Can you believe this? A line stolen directly from one of comedy's masterpieces is one thing, but not acknowledging the source while an actress FROM THE ORIGINAL MOVIE is in the scene is blatant plagiarism. If Woody Allen were dead, he'd be spinning in his grave.

In case you don't remember, the scene in ANNIE HALL is when Alvy meets Allison (the amazing Carol Kane) at a political fund raiser and he flirts with her by totally guessing her family's history which he finishes by saying "Am I right?" and she says, "No, that's great. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype." Is such a friggin funny scene and this piece of crap movie totally stole it. Diane. How could you let this happen?

I won't bore you with descriptions of other scenes. Suffice it to say, Mandy is torn between the two hotties and, at different parts of the movie has both, neither, one and then the other and she's all conflicted and stuff. Mommy and daughter fight and make up and, of course, Mommy finds love, too. And just guess where the final scene takes place. That's right! A wedding cake cutting sequence! How hilariously predictable!

One last thing, though. There's way too many overheard phone conversations and answering machine messages, online postings and cell phone confessions in this film. It's become a little pet peeve of mine: the cell phone as a plot device. You wonder sometimes what romantic comedies did without cell phones. So many opportunities for instant knowledge of a character in a place other than their homes.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's ONE phone conversation in ANNIE HALL. Wait a sec. There is and it's hilarious. Alvy's broken up with Annie and in bed with Shelly Duvall's character and Annie calls begging for him to come over. He arrives and is dispatched to kill a large spider in Annie's bathroom. After he kills it, in one of the movie's most heart wrenching scenes, Annie confesses that she misses him and she breaks down crying. Now there's a good reason to use a phone: to bring two characters together in a scene. Lately, it seems that all phones are used for in movies is to suggest a connection between characters when they are in totally different worlds. Kind of a sad commentary on our modern culture.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS had some pretty kick ass phone conversations, too, by the way.

But I digress.

Long story short, don't go see this movie, BECAUSE I SAID SO.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Last night a friend asked me to go see the worst movie ever made. I said to myself, "But I've already seen Episode III." Well, it turns out there's two worst movies.

This one was called "The Room" and it has become kind of a cult phenomenon here in LA among industry-type hipsters. This guy, Tommy Wiseau (he of unspecified nationality -- I would say Transylvanian) self financed this film for $6 million. Never a good sign when the producer is also the writer and lead actor. Can you say "Vanity Project"?

We were advised to go to the screening drunk, so we had a few cocktails before and we entered the theatre with a bunch of other people who were there for the same reason: to mock a really bad film. When we entered the theatre, a spirited Q&A was in progress with Mr. Wiseau holding court in a surreal environment mixed with hostility and admiration. I'll say this for Mr. Wiseau, he is not someone to back down from defending his masterpiece. I guess this is the first requirement of any filmmaker.

I got the feeling that the crowd was made mostly of entertainment assistant bottom feeders who have had to sit through one too many interminable screenings of self important movies followed by too long asskissing Q&A sessions where they had to hear the same questions over and over. I mean, really, how many more times do we have to hear "What was your budget and how many days did you shoot?" This was our opportunity for payback and Tommy was game. I wish I could remember a few of the questions, but they wouldn't really make sense if you haven't seen the film. He answered all with appropriate sincerity and seemed to like the attention.

But the fun really started when the theatre went dark. From the first frame, the audience couldn't sit still or keep quiet. This was an interactive experience if there ever was one: throwing things at the screen, calling out lines of dialog and asking questions out loud. Needless to say, the movie was a trainwreck with characters coming and going so fast, you couldn't keep any of their motivations or identities straight. Basicly, we're introduced to Tommy's character, Johnny, and his girlfriend, Lisa, in what was to become a love making scene forever burned onto my soul. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I fear these few minutes (too many minutes as far as I'm concerned) will take up too much time having been filed away so deep in my unconscious. I'll just give you a few visual cues from the scene and you can go from there: rose petals, gauzy lace curtains and a very confusing method of lovemaking on the part of Tommy.

Soon we discover Lisa is not as in love as she lets on. In what is, like, five scenes of BLEEPing about how much she hates Tommy (to her cancer diagnosed mother, her BLEEPty best friend and her lover, Matt who is also Tommy's best friend -- a fact he mentions over 5 times.)

The bizarre scenes continue including an assault on Tommy's adopted friend, Denny by a drug dealer who we never see again as well as a scene where all the men gather wearing tuxedos and play football. Apparently, in Mr. Wiseau's America, Football is a formal affair.

The crowd didn't let up. Some brought footballs to throw during one of the many "male bonding" scenes where the tossed the ol' pigskin around. And everyone was given spoons to throw each time a framed photograph appeared on screen -- placed in the background of the apartment set. I don't know what the big deal, was. I mean, I have framed photos of all of my kitchen utensils around my house.

All in all, it was a very cathartic experience. I seriously couldn't go to sleep until my adrenaline was calmed by some Ben and Jerry's later that night. There's something very therapeutic about seeing a bad movie not just for the endorphins released by laughing my guts out. But there is also the assurance I'm given that, yes, I actually DO know something about making movie and, no, I will NEVER make a movie as bad as THE ROOM.

If you want to know more about it, check out the IMDB page. It has a lot of funny posting from fans and crew on the movie. NPR also did a spot on it and their web page has some video of some fans doing an impression of Tommy's infamous line: "LISA YOU'RE TEARING ME APART."

Tommy, I feel the same about you. Peace, my filmmaking brother. Here's hoping you get to make that epic vampire movie you've always dreamed of, if not only for the merciless late night screenings it will no doubt inspire!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Here's a clip reel of a documentary I've been producing and shooting for the last few months. It's called RISE UP AND SHOUT and it follows some young gay and lesbian performers featured in a live talent showcase held in early September. You can read more about the event here. In addition to filming the event, the director, Brian Gleason, and I have been interviewing the performers as well as the organizers. What has emerged is a unique profile of what it's like to be a young gay person in LA and the challenges they face while navigating identity, ambition and community.

It's been challenging and exciting shooting documentary. I found myself pulling from my background in photojournalism. It's a pretty awesome experience when I am able to capture a moment, a look, an emotion as they surface in the moment. It's a lot like hunting, I suspect. You have to always be looking out of the corner of your eye for an opportunity to capture something special.

I would like to give big props to some of the people who helped out on the doc: Matt Johnstone, Mark Thompson, Don Kilhefner, Jason Dollar, Josh Smith, Peter Tang, Brad Sample, Kim DeRose, Abigail Severance, Julia Gandelsonas and Scott Hatcher just to name a few.

We're currently finishing up principal photography and moving into editing. Eventually we hope to screen it at festivals and, perhaps, sell it to a TV network.

In other news...

Read a great article about David Lynch in this week's New York Times. Here's something Dave had to say about finding the inspiration behind his new feature, Inland Empire...

Mr. Lynch has repeatedly advanced a poetic, democratic notion of ideas as independent of the artist, waiting to be plucked from the ether, or, in his preferred analogy, reeled in: he’s working on a book about the creative process titled “Catching the Big Fish.” With “Mulholland Drive,” he said the eureka moment came while he was meditating. With Eraserhead his indelible debut in 1977, inspiration came while reading the Bible. (He declined to specify the passage.) There was no equivalent lightning bolt on “Inland Empire,” but in due course “something started to talk to me,” he said. “It was as if it was talking to me all along but I didn’t know it.”

Pretty awesome, Dave.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hey! Check out a short that Andy Blubaugh did for the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival trailer this year.

HEART, my latest short, will be showing at SLGFF's Boy's Shorts program, Saturday, October 14 at 4:30 at the Cinerama Dome. So check it out if you're in the neighborhood.



Friday, September 22, 2006

Awesome quote from Ingmar Bergman from the LA Times Obituary of Sven Nykvist, his long time cinematographer and friend.

“Sometimes I probably do mourn the fact that I no longer make films," Bergman wrote. "Most of all I miss working with Sven Nykvist, perhaps because we are both utterly captivated by the problems of light, the gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, living, dead, clear, misty, hot, violent, bare, sudden, dark, springlike, falling, straight, slanting, sensual, subdue, limited, poisonous, calming, pale light. Light."