Wow...so much to write, so little time. The internet is still down in the condo, which makes blogging much harder. The iphone is not good for blogging.
OK, so where did I leave off...
I've gotten free sunglasses, luggage tags and a blockbuster movie rental.
I was going to going to go see the movie choke yesterday, but then read 3 bad reviews on the way there, so I decided to bail...at that moment the bus stopped at the Marriot and I saw some skinny kid all bundled up. I knew instantly that must be Alex Orr. So I jumped out and said hello. While we were talking WILLIAM H MACY walked into the hotel. I also saw one of the guys from AINT IT COOL NEWS that I met in SXSW. We had a great chat on the bus after we said goodbye to Alex and on the way to the Yarrow.
I tried to get tickets to American Teen, but they actually turned away ticket holders, which was crazy. Not even the #1 person in the wait list got a ticket. So, I trudged back to Main Street.
On the way there, I found out that the TBA screening at the Egyptian was the film 'UP THE YANGTZE'. I had been trying to get tickets to that screening, but without luck. So, I trudged up the hill and got a wait list #. 15th in line, so good chance.
Once I came back 30 minutes before the screening, I was chatting away with a student who is getting college credit for seeing movies, a man walked up with tickets. I jumped on him immediately and bought a ticket. Joining a new and better line, I gave up my number to the guy who was too slow to buy a ticket, as he had #87.
What a fantastic movie. Incredibly well done and thought out in advance. Incredible access and trust by his subjects. I was blown away by the story and the culture, and how America is corrupting the culture around the world.
More movies later as I need to go see a movie with David Bowie...because I love him!!!
For some reason, I'm having serious issues loading videos, so unless they are really really short, you won't be seeing them here. Sorry, cause I got some fun stuff.
Saw Alex Orr this morning. He seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit...seeing lots and lots of movies between freezing outdoors.
JD is off on the slopes again, so I'm just chilling out..visiting with friends and failing at wait list lines.
I'm not having good luck this year on tickets. You have to get there 2 - yes 2 - hours early this year for the wait list, which means if you are in a movie, you will never get out and back in line to see another. Movies generally let out about 1-1.5 hours before the next one starts, so by the time you get a wait list number, it's high enough that you know you won't be getting in. Wait list #77 when there are less than 200 seats...yea, not gonna happen.
In addition, they have been calling movies "sold out" when there are actually seats in the theater still. This is maddening to me. I have friends in the wait list line that tell me the movie is sold out, yet, I have a seat available on either side of me. Last year, they were militant about making sure all available seats were filled. They are losing so much money on this, it's pathetic. And I think of all the people who are missing out on a chance to see a film because the ushers and theater managers just don't seem to give a shit. I'm enjoying the extra leg room, but seriously they should be packing them in like sardines so that as many people as possible can see the movie.
I blew off a morning movie, failed at getting tickets later, but found out that the TBA screening at the Egyptian is the doc "up the yangtze". Since I have time to kill, I'll be heading up there shortly to stand in line and try to get a good wait list number. I did that for The Drummer last night. 3rd in line for the wait list and then someone had a ticket for sale and I grabbed it. Very happy about that.
Wish me luck!!
Hopefully I'll also get tickets to IOUSA then see Bigger Stronger Faster on the adrenaline pass. Both docs with a good buzz.
Pretty Bird was really well done. Paul Giamatti is brilliant, but this isn't news. Billy Crudup was amazing as he strattled the line between over the top and perfect for the character. Great movie. I really enjoyed this. JD had some issues with the execution...he found the camera jumping the line a lot and odd composition, but frankly, I felt like the choices were stylist ones, not mistakes....but what the hell do I know. I was entertained.
And the director is an actor. His Q & A was hysterical. I would love to see this guy do standup.
Sleep Dealer. Hmm. Great story, brilliant concept. First time director, poor performances.
I gotta tell ya, a good story is a must, but if you screw it all up with poor performances, it just doesn't matter anymore. I would like to see the idea remade with better actors, but he did a great job creating an environment that was futuristic, but also felt very now.
I love those culture war movies - the city and youth vs. the country and wisdom.
It make me appreciate the importance of culture. I wish I could travel more. Actually, I wish I could live in a foreign country for a good amount of time. I want to go back to Bhutan and hang out in the mountains with monks again. I miss that.
I'm still a cry baby from my last post, but it all started - the crying, not the realization - from this movie. First and foremost, Dakota Fanning's sister, Elle Fanning, is a brilliantly talented little actress and singer. Her performance, for a 9 year old, is stunning. And Patricia Clarkson - name a bad role, you can't - is also wonderful.
This movie was ripping out my heart at 9am this morning. I loved it. A fantastic message on so many levels. Performances were stunning, the story and dialogue were brilliant. This better be in theaters, because it's simply beautiful.
To read about it, go to the fest website as I could not do it justice. It's just a wonderful film that everyone on the planet should see.
Time to dry my eyes, pull it together and go see another movie.
OK. So this year, I decided I would blow off the buzz and see what grabbed me. That honestly hasn't been a lot of stuff.
So, I've been just enjoying my time here. Going to parties, meeting interesting people, meeting funders and setting up meetings after the fest, enjoying food, taking things slow, no pressure, no worries, no stress...since I haven't been doing much of that lately. But I'll get back to the movies later. I want to talk about my process as an editor and a documentary filmmaker.
It's funny. Someone said to me recently "So, you're a documentary filmmaker." I actually got defensive and pissed off a little. "No, I'm not. I do narratives". I said. Then instantly, I recanted. I didn't understand my reaction and I had to stop and analyze my reaction. It was strange. Just like someone called me a director, and I said. "Oh, no, I'm not a director." But you know what, I am. I've never wanted to be, and I certainly still don't want to be. It's not who I am as an artist. I make dreams come true, but I don't dream the dreams.
Many of you know, but for those that don't, I've been working on a doc over the past year and a half. I, by default really, became the director and have been editing the film with a great editor, Richard Williams, of Post 22. It's been tough finding the story and trying to finish the film in time for festivals. Many of our deadlines have passed, and although I'm constantly mocked by those Festival update e-mails I get everyday, I know the film is better for having taken this long.
It's been a tough journey for me, as I consider myself a non-artist. I'm a molder. I take your creativity and elevate it to the next level. I've been producing long enough to know what true art and true artisans can do. I've been extremely tough on myself, and I finally came to this realization.
My story rocks and that's all that matters at the end of the day.
I shouldn't keep trying to make it a festival film, or at least, a doc that pushes the boundaries of doc filmmaking. That does not serve my story. It is what it is. Could it be better if I took 2 years to complete it? Sure. But who in the hell has two years? Not me. Not my investors. And certainly NOT my story. I know many things about my film could be better, but ultimately, I did the best with the resources I had. I'm proud of the hard work of my crew and the story I think I will be able to tell. It's an amazing story and I just have to trust it to lead me where we want to go with it.
I'm really proud of what we've accomplished and I'm really excited about finishing this movie. I certainly know I will hear lots of crap about it, as my standards are very high and I'm not sure I met them on my first directorial attempt, but you know what? I don't care what anyone thinks, but my subjects. I'm so scared I'm not doing their story justice. I think that is much of the stress I am under more than anything else. I need to finish it, and that's stressful, as I've been working for 6 months without pay, but really, I'm so worried that I won't due to the story justice that it keeps me up at night.
My characters are deep, rich and complex, and I need a mini-series to convey that. But I only have 1.5-2 hours to tell a life story, the struggles, and the complexities of their life. I'm scared as hell I will fail THEM, not my audience.
I'm actually crying as I write this. I'm truly scared as hell. I'm out of my comfort zone completely. I'm the one freaking out, crying, call my director friends begging them to help me off the ledge I feel I'm about to plunge off when I'm overwhelmed. I used to be the one that would help them off the ledge. I didn't know what it felt like to tetter on that edge. I never understood that freak out that artists have about being hacks. I get it now. It's just part of the process you must endure. It's a fucking dark place to be sometimes, but it's so funny too, because as soon as you think the darkness will overwhelm you something amazing happens. A happy accident or a new way of thinking...suddenly all the answers are right there in front of you, but you just couldn't see them before. Your eyes were not open and you weren't ready for the possibilities.
I used to get depressed when I saw an amazing doc, because I could see the creative choices made from the start and I could see they had a vision to begin with. I was visionless and I felt it showed. That honestly still chaps my ass about my lack of ability to have a specific vision. But I also realize, that I'm still blessed with my ability to mold. My story has always been there, waiting for me to mold it into something amazing, inspiring, heart-wrenching, yet full of hope and laughter.
I hope you feel the same when you watch my film some day...in the meantime...
Go to the buzz page, click on videos, and watch Diana's clip. If this doesn't break your heart, you aren't human.
Ga Film Office head Bill Thompson with writer/producer Brian Ransom.
Got a boost of adrenaline before the party as I realized my wallet was what I heard slip to the floor in the Eccles Theater earlier that day. Thankfully someone turned it in, but it sure woke me up when I realized it was missing. Got the wallet back...thank goodness. I had a payroll check, NO JEFF, I still haven't cashed the darn thing. ATM's that accept checks here are hard to find, and I have about $300 in cash, not to mention credit cards.
After the Kodak party wrapped up, we hopped in a cab and went to a private house after party til 3am. Got in bed around 3:30 and woke back up at 7:45 for JD's big movie day. He's been snowboarding everyday, so we had two back to back.
Once in the theater, I took this other photo with my iphone. I guess we're upside down.
Enjoyed them...more later when I recover my energy, but here, JD looks better than we feel. He's napping before his movie and I'm gonna attempt to nap before mine.
I just met up and had a soda with Janet Tiller, the southeast Kodak rep. She gave JD & I laminates to get into tonight's Kodak party from 10-1am. Can't wait to catch up with all the folks I know will be there. I won't be blogging after that party...that will come tomorrow, but I'll have photos I promise!
Here's the line for the daily giveaway. Each day from 2-3 a sponsor has giveaways...the Utah Film Commission and 360 vodka gave out mittens, Adobe gave out hats, and today rayban was the giveaway sponsor...but they were a no show. Not a lot of happy people in that line when they heard that!!
The Sundance Filmmaker Lodge hosted another meet and greet, this time with funders, television distributors and sales reps. Met Ruby Lerner, who some of you will remember used to be the Executive Director of IMAGE.
Panelists included Ruby Lerner of Creative Capital, Lois Vossen from ITVS and Independent Lens (met with her last year), Julie Goldman from Cactus Three, Josh Braun from Submarine Entertainment, Andrew Herwitz from Film Sales, Ryan Harrington from Gucci Tribeca Doc Funs.
Basically, everyone introduced themselves, the films they represent and what they are looking for. It was interesting, but they mostly seem to want to fund artists who are working in the documentary medium for the long haul. Again, they pointed me to their sports docs division. They all agree that since my film is serious, but well balanced (so I say) with humor and hope, that I have a greater chance of getting serious consideration at festivals and with distributors. I briefly discussed my interest in self-distribution vs. studio distribution and they all felt that I had a great chance at success with that approach, and still would have an opportunity to get broadcast on television.
Last night, after blogging about puujee and catching back up, I decided to try to nap before dinner. By the time JD returned to the condo to wake me up, I had just started to drift off...no nap for me damn it. I was still dog tired.
So I dragged my butt out of bed, got dressed and off went to go in search of food. Someone mentioned Bandits, the BBQ smoke house, so we thought we would give it a try. Oh my god. Great food. I had smoked pork, with cinnamon apples, fries and grilled green beans. Yummy. I had about 5 bites and I was ready for bed.
By the time we got home and I went to bed, it was midnight. I decided earlier in the day, that the only way to push out the thoughts of my doc edit, which keep me up at night, was to buy some sleep aides. So a sominex later and I got a solid 5 hours of sleep before I popped awake. I drifted back off finally, and then the alarm went off for my 8:30am movie. At 7:20, when I tried to get out of bed, I was so dizzy and sick feeling, that I laid back down til 10. Would have liked to see Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda in Diminished Capacity this morning, but I just couldn't do it. But now, I'm feeling like a million bucks. I'm back in action and ready for today's parties - docs and sushi from 5-7 and kodak from 10-1am.
Last year you may remember that Sundance put on a group of meetings for indie filmmakers and funders and broadcasters. I attended again this year and met with Lisa Heller from HBO. She's the VP of original programming. She remembered me from last year, which was cool. Pitch went well, but she steered me to their sports doc people, as she doesn't handle sports docs. Good meeting, good connections.
Gotta go to another doc meet and greet...more on this later and maybe I'll take some pictures for you. ;)
I love Asian films, but not the action adventure, sword fighting kind.. the slow moving cultural films.
puujee is a documentary set in Mongolia. It follows a Japanese photographer who traveled around the world and found this 8 year old girl named puujee that he recognized as a very strong and amazing little girl. puujee and her family are nomadic sheep hearders and they live a very rough life. I understood this element having been in Bhutan and hearing stories of the nomads and meeting some. Life is very difficult. This film was just filled with tragedy. They didn't start out making a doc, but after a final tragedy decided to tell the story. I knew going in it was going to have to end that way, but I hoped it wouldn't. I'm tired of crying in documentaries. Can't more stories be happy or uplifting or have some damn comedy to them?
I'm sorry I'm not giving you more details about the movies, but I don't want to spoil them in case you get a chance to see them.
Got up to see 'Be Kind Rewind' as I've mentioned a few times. Just not a good movie. I like the message - film is community and community is film. I loved Mos Def. He just keeps getting better and better as an actor. I really dig him alot. Jack Black was the usual over the top Jack Black. He cannot act. It's just the same guy in every movie and I'm pretty over it.
They did some really creative things in the movie, but it was so overshadowed by poor writing, substandard plot devices and formulaic storytelling that I was just left wondering why I got out of bed.
BTW - does is look cold. It's 9 degrees.
I also spoke to Matthew Perry from friends fame. I was walking in front of him up Main and literally, 20 photographers asked him "Hey Matt, how do you like the festival so far?", and finally I turned around and said "Hey Matt, how do you like answering the same stupid question over and over again?" He laughed and smiled and I went back to my business.
Do I have photos? No. Here's the thing. I'm not star stuck. Personally, I think our fascination with movie stars is sick and that they should be allowed to walk down the street or have a bite to eat without people taking pictures or bothering them. I know - the price of fame. Whatever. I think it's just rude, so that's why I have a hard time taking photos of stars for you. Sorry. I did try to get a photo of Dan Rather, but he vanished into thin air after I spotted him.
Sunday, I slept in. I haven't been sleeping well or sleeping much long before I came to Sundance. My waking ours are spent with scenes from my doc floating through my head...quotes, comments, scenes, how they fit together, constantly playing tentris, so I when I woke up and felt like death warmed over, I went back to sleep.
I got up and JD & I went to a locals bar and watched the NFL playoffs.
Met two guys who joined us for the games. We had a blast. The bar was packed with football fans and the games were great. The Packers game was insane. I drank ketel one lemon drop shots and ate Mexican, then after the games we went for sake and sushi. Consumption overload for JD. He went to bed.
Somehow I managed to go to another movie- at friggin midnight. Jesus. I am truly delirious.
The Great Buck Howard.
The message was weak and I saw it coming a mile away, but I really like the performances. John Malkovich was brilliant as usual and Colin Hanks did an excellent job. Of course Tom Hanks had a throwaway role, but I have to admit I enjoyed the film. It was funny, but another example of a Sundance film this year that just didn't blow me away. Docs have been strong, but narratives have just been - OK.
Got home and went to bed at 2:30am, back up this morning at 7:15am for a movie. This is why I'm sleepy, sleepy.
Let's see. I'll catch you up on all the little BS first...
Friday night the power went out for 30 minutes or so and the whole town freaked. People yelling in the streets...300 people stuck in a dark club...patrons stuck in their seats in a dark theater...us in bed listening to people screaming outside as we noticed our power went out. Exciting stuff you know.
Saturday as you know I saw Secrecy. Great movie. Ran into the directors brother again today. We both saw 'Be Kind, Rewind' and both disliked it. I also snagged some swag for a few people.
Did I blog about The Linguist? Wow. What an amazing movie. Not in a filmmaking sense, but in the sense that I've been involved with something like their quest. Two linguists are trying to record dying languages around the world before they disappear. The two men are very different and very funny characters. I guess the movie resonated deeply with me because of my work in Bhutan. My best friends brother Joseph Houseal, run a company called Core of Culture (www.coreofculture.org) and is trying to record all the sacred ancient Buddhist monastic dance before it dies off too. Every two weeks another language becomes extinct. Every two weeks. Culture is dying in the name of homogenization. It's sad because with the loss of language, you lose its art, its culture and its history.
Another amazing thing about this movie for me was that it was at 11:30pm and afterward for the Q&A, only about 10 people in 300 left the theater. Usually at these late night screenings, most people bail, but everyone stayed til the end. It was a testament to the story and the longing we all have to know our own stories and pass them on.
Had a little food, feeling a little better, but still too stupid to talk to people...sleepy, sleepy...
Said 'Hello. It's nice to see you" to George Romero and he said "Hello" and smiled back. I did get a photo of him.
Smiled and said "Hi" to Matthew Broderick, who looked me in the eye and smiled back as we passed in the doorway.
Mark Wynns introduced me to Danny Glover, and I got to shake his hand and say Hello. Told him I like the message and his performance in "Be Kind, Rewind". Thank God he didn't ask me if I liked the film, cause I'm honest to a fault about that. Dodged a bullet for sure on that one.
Went to the doc meet and greet and was mocked by all the festival deadlines passing me by...and my inability to get something to them in time for their programs to be printed. They all agreed that I was better off not sending them a rough cut though, as unless it was "earth-shattering", it would not be considered anyway. They all recommended I just wait and send it to other festivals in the summer and fall. Tell me something I don't know...or perhaps that I want to hear... ;)
Off to get tickets for my Mongolia film, and hopefully pass out and take a nap after that....I'm sure I won't get to sleep though since I keep running into people I know who want to grab a drink with me...
I'm just too tired to blog..it won't make any sense, as I'm about to fall over...
Movies to blog about - Be Kind Rewind by MIchael Gondry - I ask why oh why did he make this movie?
The Great Buck Howard - liked it
The Linguists - loved it
Go Pat, boo Giants
sleepy sleepy sleepy more later that is actually intelligent I hope...sleepy sleepy
Mark Wynns and I are meeting for lunch at the Utah Film Commission filmmakers brunch...I'm hungry now though...sleepy
No time for naps, naps are for sissies...I'm old though, sleepy sleepy, I want to see another movie...Puujee, a Mongolian film, but I'm sleepy sleepy and I have another movie tonight at midnight....sleepy
I have to go talk to doc distributors and festival programmers, but I'm too sleepy sleepy to hold a conversat slllllllllllleeeeeeeeep
But I'm drunk after watching two amazing football games...and then drinking sake with new friends...so you'll have to wait for tomorrow for comments about last night movie which was an amazing revelation for me, today's football comments, and tonight movie...plus my thought on my own movie.
I actually have some insightful and introspective thoughts to share that might be useful to the masses...but I'm busy. ;)
I Produce, Line Produce, Production Manage, and Consult on Commercials, Industrials, Television Shows, Webisodes, Live Events, and Indie Features. I read scripts, provide coverage, and develop projects. I breakdown, budget, schedule, pitch, propose, close, negotiate, spend, reconcile, research, network, strategize, market, collaborate, consult, wheel, deal, and deliver. I face challenges, solve puzzles and plan ahead. I’ve worked with butterflies, penguins, dogs, maggots, horses, cats, flies, a taxidermy molded shark, babies, kids, entourages, difficult clients, movie stars, musicians, politicians, pro athletes, strippers, crack addicts, prostitutes, thieves, and murderers. I’ve shot, stabbed, and set people on fire, decapitated heads, drilled holes in arms, and smashed in skulls. I’ve shut down busy roads and highways to create an accident, raced a NASCAR car down Peachtree St, and faked a hurricane in Miami. I’ve shot 100 spots in 15 days with only a MoCo and an Arriflex, and taught Himalayan monks and grade school kids how to make movies. I can do 100 things at once, work 52 hours straight, stay on budget, and still make a damn good cup of coffee. I do film and I love it.