Saturday, June 17, 2006

CAVITE: Formula For a Successful $7K Film

This political thriller, made with peanuts, is riding a wave of positive reviews, capacity crowds, and has launched the career of it's makers. Let's call it the holy grail of all film student-video film geek "nobody's" who aspire to be "somebody's" in our domestic cliquish and fickle film industry. Two pinoy buddies (Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana), pack up a video camera, and just "do it".No need to dwell on the background history of these guys, and the story's behind can do your own search...this blog is about the film's textbook EL MARIACHI/RUN LOLA RUN formula (btw--El Mariachi was advertised as being made for $7K too - the reality is that once a distributor picks it up, they go eeeeeechhhh, and pump in another 100K or so to polish up the post work).


1. Tell a story that has never been told before (CAVITE is about an Filipino American Muslim dragged into the underbelly of Manila and the Abu Sayaf underworld - audiences LOVE to "go where no man has gone before"). It helps that it had the classic Hollywood Structure of indentifying the SIMPLE problem for the protagonist, and we follow him as he tries to solve it. I call this kind of film the "premise" film -- it's not a true story, but more of a "situation"(RUN LOLA RUN needed money to save her boyfriend. In CAVITE, it's money to save his mother and sis). Another example of a "premise" film would be Fincher's PANIC ROOM. Note: The simple plot point "tension" thriller element brings in the crowds -- the film's socio-political messages bring in the critics.

2. Include great locations and lots of people - it makes the film look more expensive. (Cavite was clever that way. If two American guys are walking down the street with a video camera in the Philippines, EVERYBODY is gonna stare...but hey, thats no problem, because the one protagonist in this film is paranoid and sticks out like a sore thumb people are gonna stare the shots give a POV reference -- clever, eh? - the locations in this film could only have been accomplished video guerilla style with one or two people - try shooting in an airport with a full crew--good luck)

3. Shoot in a foreign country: Exotic Location with exotic characters (El Mariachi did it)

4. If the plot is simple and thin (like RUN LOLA RUN), keep a manic pace, jump cut edits, and clever not bore the audience with long takes cuz the plot ain't gonna hold their interest.

5. Here's a clever device they used that could almost be considered "artsy". There were 2 scenes (SPOILER alert!) that there was no way they were gonna shoot because of the money, but were pivotal in the story. The first was a scene inside a bank where the protagonist has discussions with the teller, bank manager, and gets a sack full of money out--what did the boys do? They recorded the conversation inside the bank, and laid this audio on a kid watching our protagonist ENTER the bank, we cut to the kid going buying a burger, and coming back to see him coming OUT of the BANK. Voila! Story telling accomplished! Another similiar tactic was even more audacious--The protagonist sets a bomb inside a church that will go off in 7 minutes and leaves. The story follows him feeling guilty and upset. We know what he did...but there is no explosion, no blown up churches, worshipers dying, etc... it's just simply left out, because the story revolves around the protagonist's mindset. We, the audience, knows what he did, and that's all the filmmakers care worked.

6. Small Crew and minimal amount of Actors (CAVITE really set a record for this - One protagonist we follow throughout, a couple of support actors here and there, a crew of 2, with some of the shots definitely hand held by the actor himself pointing at himself!!!)

Bottom line -- an impressive indy effort.

Playing this week at the LUMIERE

Thursday, December 29, 2005

City Hall to Build Soundstage?

The dirty little secret is out and the Film Commission members are talking about it. First, that S.F. is routinely used for exterior shots, and then the heavy budget TV and film productions sceddadle to places like Vancouver for the more lengthy interior soundstage work. Another “revelation”: this exterior work generates very little for the city compared to the steady interior work.

In January, a report on what the City can do to increase it’s out- of- town film production dollars will hit the commissioners, headed up by Stephanie Coyote.
Laurie Rowley, one of the authors feels that the lack of a proper soundstage is a big problem. What we have on Treasure Island is not a soundstage, and you can hear the bridge construction noise no problemo. We’re talking a 2 million to 100 million price tag.

At the same time Sup Alioto is introducing legislation to change the fee structure for filming, offering incentives to long term productions. Yaaaaaaaay~! Finally those people are doing something.

Reminder to the Commissioners: Add extra incentives for locally produced and locally made small indie productions. These are the seeds for future steady work here. We keep waiting for our own Woody Allen….well, he’s out there somewhere in the avenues writing a script right now……

Friday, December 23, 2005

Distribution:2 Points for the Indie!

All you Indie filmmakers out there know about Customflix right? The company where you can make and market your own DVD. There's been alot of gripes that well, yeah, you can make the DVD's all right...but wheres the marketing machine behind it? I got an email from Customflix....they were bought by first thought "WOW". My second thought --- cautiosly optimistic. 2 points for the Indie..

From Customflix:
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of DVD Publishing News. Since our last newsletter, we have been busy with an exciting organizational change — CustomFlix Labs, Inc. is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of, Inc. We are thrilled about this change because it dramatically improves our ability to help independent filmmakers, content providers, educators, and video producers connect their programs to a worldwide audience.

What does this mean for you? You will continue to receive the same great service and high-quality products from the same (and rapidly growing) team here at CustomFlix. As a member and content provider, you can also receive broader distribution and exposure for your films on's Marketplace program.

Finally-New Coppola (Francis) Film in Production

So the other day I'm in a meeting downtown, and it gets out about 11:30am--right before lunch...and lo and behold i'm in the neighborhood of Coppola's restaraunt in North Beach - Cafe Niebaum Coppola. Never been there, always wanted to.

I walk in, it's a tiny place, the wall crammed with pics - Coppola with Spike, Coppola with Brando, Coppola with Scorcese--you get the idea. I sit down at a small table near the bar, and order a delightful mussel-mixed green salad. The bartender (I'll call him Charlie) is a friendly sort--so I ask him if Francis actually eats in his own restaraunt

"Ohhhhhhhhh yeah. He loves the food...he loves food."
uh huh
"So, is this where he sits?" as I point to a roped off little booth with a huge Tati "Mon Uncle" poster over it.
"Oh yeah, thats were he sits with friends"
"Does he drink martini's" I ask.
"Nooooo, he luvs his wine, though, then after dinner, espresso, brandy, and a cigar...not necessarily in that order"..the bartender spoke with affection for his boss, you can tell. Francis may be a superstar, but he still connects with the regular joe.
"So whats his favorite wine?"
"Ahhhh, Francis likes the Claret, Diamond Collection"
Not missing a beat, I order up a glass.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, smooth as a babies behind. Damn. Part of the Cab family, and oh so oakey.
"mmmmmm nice"
"So I hear Francis makes more money off his wine than he does from film"
Flustered, Charlie corrects me, lest I make a wrong assumption:
"Francis is a filmmaker first, it's in his blood. It's part of him. He's in Romania now shooting YOUTH, small, low budget, with Bruno Ganz"

"Cool - finally"..........

From Variety:

Francis Ford Coppola will finance and direct Youth Without Youth starring Tim Roth (the bartender said Bruno Ganz).

In the movie, a professor's life changes after a cataclysmic incident during the dark years before WWII. Becoming a fugitive, he is pursued through far-flung locations including Romania, Switzerland, Malta and India. Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz and Marcel Iures will also star.

The story is based on the novella of the same name by Romanian author and intellectual Mircea Eliade. Coppola also wrote the screenplay and will produce through his American Zoetrope production company. Shooting is in progress in Bucharest.

Although he hasn't directed a movie in the 8 years (since 1997's The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon), in the interim Coppola has produced several movies of note -- and also a lot of wine through his Niebaum-Coppola Winery in Napa Valley, California.

A small Francis Coppola film....Sounds like a special treat, like that Claret...

Monday, October 24, 2005

gripe dept: Dear Mr. Mayor.......

I am a San Francisco voter, homeowner, and taxpayer.

I recently saw an extraordinary film called QUALITY OF LIFE shot for $30,000 in San Francisco by a San Franciscan. It’s playing at the U.A. Galaxy. It premiered last year the Berlin Intl Film Festival.

The filmmakers were very enthusiastic about the support they received from the Film Commission. I’ve experienced the same thing, and I thank you for all your effort in making this a more pro active department.

Unfortunately, the same level of enthusiasm and encouragement for up and coming San Francisco directors is not shared by the local tax supported non-profit San Francisco Film Society and S.F. International Film Festival. QUALITY OF LIFE, was rejected by our local festival. This is not the first time local unkown feature filmmakers have been snubbed, even though their films were widely regarded as good.

Local films, with local grassroots shoe string financing especially need our support. Making the film is the easy part, but marketing, and promotion is tough. The San Francisco Intl Film Festival is in a position to be an active participant in helping promote local unkown San Francisco feature filmmakers, and introducing them to the international film community.

There is a big difference between wooing Hollywood productions (most of which have no interest in doing post production here), and growing a grass roots, viable San Francisco filmmaker community which lives and works in San Francisco. The S.F. Film Society needs to be an active participant in supporting and promoting unkown San Francisco narrative filmmaking directors.

Anything you can do to encourage this would be appreciated. Local residents want to see local films.


Misha Anissimov

Friday, October 14, 2005

QUALITY OF LIFE opens in SF to rave reviews

Local S.F. feature QUALITY OF LIFE opens this weekend at the U.A. Galaxy on Vanness.
As many of yo know, opening weekend is make or break time with distributors. Deep six all your whining about crummy Hollywood films. If you don't make it out this weekend to see this flick, you may not see it for a long time. Don't sit on your ass like the young Kerry supporters did in the last election-the results could be disastrous. See ya at the movies..........

Lefty Nobel laureate Pinter's Screenplay Masterpiece

American expat lefty director Joseph Losey (resettled in England after the 1950's commie witchhunts) and recent lefty Nobel prize winner Harold Pinter combined talents in 1963 to make the english masterpiece THE SERVANT. No dought THE cinematic and screenwriting masterpiece to come out of England throughout the 1960's. Pinter's sensitivity to the working class relations with the upper class is uncanny. No left wing working class bleading heart sentimentalism here----all the characters are assholes with agendas- monumental writing. Think "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" meets dysfunctional "Discreet Charm of the Bougouise". 1963 England, B & W, directed by Joseph Losey, written by Harold Pinter.

Monday, October 03, 2005

SECONDS: A.D.D. Film Review #19

Frankenheimer's 1966 Cold War era midlife crisis nightmare SECONDS is a worthy addition to my ongoing list of that genre of films called "people who's faces are bandaged up". Frankenheimer was famous for the original MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, a surreal cold war era masterpiece, and SECONDS does not dissapoint. Picure this: you're a 51 year old white guy banker in a dead end marriage...and you chuck it all for reconstructive surgery to become an artist and...Rock Hudson! Priceless. And there's even an eye popping group nude grape stomping scene.....a bacchanalian delight. 1966, John Frankenheimer, B & W

ZODIAC movie Mark Ruffalo Sighting.......

Stumbled upon the ZODIAC shoot last Saturday at Irving and 25th in the foggy Sunset (our "third" and smallest Chinatown). A couple blocks were shut down and Fincher was shooting a "news crew rushes to the scene" scene, with 1960's vintage KGO news vans and all. Anyway, they're screamin down Irving, about 10 vehicles, including 1960's vintage motorcycle cops, and screech to a halt in front of the "ex" city leased art space which was converted to a "St Vincent DePaul" and who steps out of the lead vehicle?...a quizzically looking Mark Ruffalo playing a SF reporter. His long hair "do" was nothing less than stellar...I used to have one of those!~
Mark Ruffalo is a likable guy, and that ain't no small feat because the first time I saw him was in that horrendous Indy film XX-XY which screened at SF State (long story). He played a wishy washy charactrer I really wanted to choke, but then I kept telling myself "he's only playing a part, only playing a part". He was excellent in Campion's criminally underrated IN THE CUT.

Technical Observation: the entire scene was shot with no artificial lighting due to our unique daytime FOG, which acts as a natural diffuser.......

Another bit from a PA (from LA) I spoke to on the scene..lets call him "Vincent"...17 days shot here in SF. The shoot is wrapped, and they're off to LA to shoot the remaining 83 days (Fincher hates location shooting...see PANIC ROOM, etc...). Big difference between ZODIAC and something like MATRIX which went on and on. Not to belabor the point, but if more energy was spent developing SF Directors with opportunities (remember the Robin Eickman feature award?)...we can keep ALL the shooting schedule AND post THAT would help out local coffers.........

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Going, going.. gone?

Hey there, everybody in blogland. I'm on vacation for this month of September. In the interest of making efficient use of cyberspace, as well as my time, feel free to weigh in if this blog is worth continuing when I get back. One idea I had was to contact the local directors you see here in these pages and add them onto the site as contributors...but it all takes time and work, and filmmakers are normally busy as heck. It's been fun, but the local response has been so-so. Best to all.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Alby dreams of Weeki Wachee Mermaids

From S.F. Director David Munro, comes this first look-see production still from FULL GROWN MEN

Saturday, August 27, 2005

out of the eye of the storm : FULL GROWN MEN wraps production

S.F. Director David Munro (missing Hurricane Katrina by a swizzle stik) wrapped his Florida production of the upcoming 36-year-old-boy/man-coming-of-age comedy FULL GROWN MEN last week. The film stars Alan Cummings, Amy Sedaris, Matt McGrath and the multi talented seductress-rocker Debbie Harry (confession: I, as everyone else in the 70's, had a crush on "Blondie"). Harry plays, of all things, a delusional ex-Weeki Wachee mermaid named Beauty. I remember Debbie Harry in a 1995 film called HEAVY directed by James Mangold. She can act. Other quirky characters include (in no particular order) a retirement home pool man gigolo, an underworld toy trafficking kingpin retiree, a sociopathic Bible-beating motel night get the idea. Munro is now back in the city and gearing up for editing and post production. Check out his filmmaker's diary, including contributions by producers Xandra Castleton and Brian Benson in SFGate. I think I'll go have a Mai Tai now.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

EYES WITHOUT A FACE: A.D.D. Film Review #18

Continuing my series of that genre of films known as "peoples who's faces are bandaged up", one cannot ignore Director Georges Franju. He's known in France as the master of cinema of the "fantastique". Call it poetic art house horror. It's the story of the love of a doctor father obsessed with finding a face to transplant onto his daughters "face" which really isn't a face, but a batch of damaged muscle tissue due to her fathers car accident. Franju was told by his producer "make a horror film, but with no blood because it will create problems with French censors; no animal killing, because it will create problems with English censors, and no mad doctors because it will create problems with German censors" The result? a horror masterpiece with no cliche in sight. 1959, Georges Franju, France, B & W.

Four out of five empty film cans OOOO

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sexy Revolutionary Flick REVOLUTION SUMMER Wraps Production

Award winning Director Miles Montalbano is chopping at the bit to start editing
  • . With two cameras rolling during the shoot, Montalbano has 50 hours of footage to sort through and edit. The film was shot at various location around Oakland and San Francisco and stars S.F. State alum and hottie Mackenzie Firgens (RENT, GROOVE) who plays Hope, a disillusioned young woman seeking simple truths in a world of consumerism and self destruction.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Commonwealth and Film Financing Events Tonight

    It's Tuesday night, no date, you're editor is hung over, what to do? Here are some suggestions from the gang at QUALITY OF LIFE

    BENJAMIN MORGAN AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB (comment from yours truly: is there anything common about wealth?)
    Quality of Life director on panel: "Urban scrawl or artistic freedom?"

    Tuesday, August 16
    6:30 p.m. (reception follows)
    Commonwealth Club office, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco

    From the Commonwealth Club website:

    From its contemporary origins in the late 1960s, graffiti has spread
    globally, from the city and boroughs of New York to walls around the
    world. Some see the proliferation of graffiti as a veritable modern
    plague, an urban blight that clearly diminishes quality of life. Others
    would argue that today's graffiti is a historically significant art
    form, providing a unique means of creative expression to the disenfranchised
    and marginalized. Are the words of the prophets truly written on subway
    walls and tenement halls, or is graffiti nothing more than mindless vandalism
    that is directly linked to a host of societal ills? You be the judge.

    APEX, Street Artist
    BEN MORGAN, Director, Quality of Life (Graffiti Film)
    MACHAELA M. HOCTOR, Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco City Attorney's
    MOHAMMED NURU, Chair, San Francisco's Graffiti Advisory Board
    JONATHON KEATS, Art and Culture Critic; Visual Arts Critic, San
    Magazine - Moderator

    The evening's discussion opens with a slide show presentation by Jim
    Prigoff, an internationally known historian and documenter of murals
    spraycan art. Jim's personally photographed documentation is considered
    the largest of its kind and it is said that he has seen more street art
    than any other individual.

    $12 for Members, $20 for Non-members
    $7 for Students (with valid I.D.; to reserve student tickets call
    Details here
    : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

    Int'l Institute for Film Financing invites QoL producer back again

    Tuesday, August 16
    6:30pm (drinks and networking follows)
    SAP Labs North America
    3410 Hillview Avenue, Building D
    Palo Alto, CA 94304

    The IIFF is a new nonprofit organization devoted to connecting
    independent filmmakers with investors, helping educate both parties on the issues
    around indie film financing. It's a sorely needed group and they put on
    some fantastic events with amazing speakers (most of their San
    Francisco events are standing-room only).

    If you're interested in getting your film funded or are a film
    investor, you should check it out. Los Angeles and New York chapters
    are in the works.

    Also, as a bonus at the start of the meeting, Brant offers a few
    nuggets of wisdom for indie filmmakers from his ongoing notebook: "Things I
    learned while making Quality of Life."
    To see the full speaker list, get tickets, directions or other

    Producer Castleton sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

    Local Producer Xandra Castleton, sends word from Florida in an ongoing filmmakers diary series in the Chron that FULL GROWN MEN is past the half way point. Co producer Brian Benson mentioned the horrendous weather a couple weeks back - hurricanes.... through sleet, through snow, nothing shall keep the indie filmmaker from.....

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    THE INVISIBLE MAN : A.D.D. Film Review #17

    Director Jame Whale's (based on the sci fi book by H.G. Wells) film THE INVISIBLE MAN falls back into that favorite horror subgenre of mine called "people who's faces are bandaged up". A Universal horror classic from 1933 it is now available (along with three sequels) in one tidy package as part of the Universal Legacy Series DVD collection. Distinctive features of this groundbreaking film are a. the booming over- the- top- voice of lead actor Claud Rains (Whale cast him because fo his voice-can't see him so might as well hear him) b. The revolutionary special effects of the time (the unwrapping of the bandages to reveal..nothing) c. That unique James Whale black humor sensibility... the film is creepy, and funny at the same time. The film is a bit dated, but all told, was a groundbreaking horror classic which triggered countless film, didn't even miss the blood and gore. directed by James Whale, 1933, B & W

    three out of five film cans OOO

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    A.D. Liano's SEVEN FALLEN OBJECTS nearing completion

    San Francisco filmmaker A.D. Liano's tells me that his surreal, black comedy SEVEN FALLEN OBJECTS is in the sound mix and very near completion. Onto the festival circuit. A collaborative effort between seven directors shooting seven dream sequences - Tim Kerns, Thad Povey, DP wunderkind Frazer Bradshaw, John Szabo, Finnian Murray, Alfonzo Alvarez and director-in-chief A.D. Liano. Score by "Lost in Translation" and "Adaptation" vet Kent Sparling. written by Greg Boyd and A.D. Liano. see my 5/26 post for more details.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    COLMA:THE MUSICAL in production

    The title alone conjurs up west side story guys and gals singing and dancing through graveyards! Producer Angel Vasquez sends word that COLMA:THE MUSICAL is in production at
    locations in San Francisco, Colma, and Daly City through August 22.

    COLMA:THE MUSICAL chronicles a year in the lives of three best friends (an aspiring artist, an actor and a writer) that recently graduated high school, and who must now take on the responsibilities of growing up.

    The film stars Jake Moreno, Patric Mendoza, L.A. Renigen, and Segrid

    COLMA is an original screenplay written by H.P. Mendoza.

    Directed by award-winning cinematographer Rich Wong (Fox Television Network Arrested Development (DIT), Surfacing, As Seen On TV, Year of the Scapegoat).

    Producer is Angel Vasquez (A Change of Faith, Cachao: Cuba with Love, Where are you going? Where have you been?, 24 CITY:SF) and Paul Kosanoff (Sin City, Firetrap,Eviction)

    One parting thought... I've always liked exclamation marks (!) in musical titles. How about: COLMA "!" THE even rhymes with OKLAHOMA "!"

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    S.F. Director Nick Katsapetse's END OF GRACE in preproduction

    My SFSU cinematography prof, Larry Smith, used to say in class : failure to prepare, is preparing to fail. San Francisco Writer-director Nick Katsapetses didn't go to SFSU (he went to the S.F. Art Institute), but he sure as heck must have heard Larry Smith's quote. He has been writing and rewriting his script for his third feature THE END OF GRACE for three years, and the results show for themselves. The screenplay has won three writing competition awards and attracted Bay Area producer Brian Benson and a "first look" deal with Sony Pictures Classics..once the "package" is together. Illeana Douglas will be starring in the $1.5 million production in this comedy about a dysfunctional family...Katsapetses is spending most of his time in L.A. tweaking the script and garnering star support (Brian Cox and Stockard Channing are looking it over). No stars = no money. What a long way from his first two critically acclaimed $10,000 features JOY OF SMOKING and GET OVER IT. No failure to prepare here, that's for sure.....more later.

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    Local D.P. David Chalker rides Latin New Wave

    About the time the first of the Latin New Wave films, AMORES PERRES hit the screen, Filmmaker and Director of Photography Dave Chalker and I had a conversation about it's intense, gritty style...and the urgent need of waking up a largely passive movie going public. AMORES PERRES was followed by films such as Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, 21 GRAMS, CITY OF GOD, and the newly released SECUESTRO EXPRESS, which Chalker shot. The Latin New Wave is more than just using cinematic shock tactics for entertainment's sake: it's about the use of cinematic intensity to raise political awareness about class struggle, and the socio-political ramifications of the drug trade. Chalker's visually intense, and inventive short film HYPOCRITE won the Golden Gate Award at the S.F. Intl F.F. a number of years ago, and went on to screen at the Palm Springs Intl F.F. That screening led to his assignment to shoot the gritty SECUESTRO EXPRESS in Venezuela, a story of the kidnapping of an upper class Latin couple. The film makes the most of the portability of the DV camera...a perfect case of picking the right media and the right D.P. for the intense story. Check out the sequence with the amputee skateboarder, as well as the climactic sequence of the lead actress at the edge of a cliff with her kidnappers...that's where a tiny camera and a good eye pays off. Playing NOW at the AMC 1000 Vaness.SECUESTRO EXPRESS,directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, 2004, Venezuela.

    Saturday, August 06, 2005

    Are you a Doctor or Engineer who Wants to Make a Movie?

    Do you stay awake nights thinking about the film you'd like to make? We at Cine 101 can help you make your dream a reality. For starters, we have a director of photography-35mm camera rental package available for $250/day. Kubrick's favorite camera, the Arri BL-1 and a set of pristine prime lenses. Sure, digital video is everywhere, but there's still nothing like the organic, luscious look of celluloid....and all things being equal...distributors love it. It IS possible to get a low budget 35mm feature into the can for $20K. Let's talk. Reply to this post with some details, and I'll get back to you.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    Credit Bill Murray for " Final Cut " Club

    I've always liked Bill Murray, ever since his SNL days, but there is something a lot more about him below the surface than his comedy. Bill Murray beleives in directorial creative autership (as long as he has a major say in his character, I'm sure). You can count on one hand the number of Hollywood funded directors that achieve "final cut" editing status. Producers in Hollywood avoid that like the plague, on the other hand, if you managed to nab marketable Murray for a lead role...hmmm. Murray features have been recently made by American auteurs (lets call 'em the "final cut club") Sophia Coppola, Wes Anderson, and now Jim Jarmusch with the Hollywood-funded BROKEN FLOWERS (I'm not counting "final cut" club members like David Lynch who routinely go overseas for no- creative-strings French for his upcoming INLAND EMPIRE: p.s. the French actually have an auteurship law, that legally gives the writer-director final cut). Word was that Jarmusch stuck to his guns during preproduction negotiations to not only retain final cut, but to not even have execs pass him notes with comments!! I credit Murray's star power, and director support. As long as Murray films make money, things are looking up for American autership.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    CRAZY LOVE : A.D.D. Film Review #16

    The latest installment in my genre film review series of “people who’s faces are completely bandaged up” is Belgian director Dominique Deruddere’s 1986 masterpiece CRAZY LOVE. Based on Bukowski’s novel THE COPULATING MERMAID OF VENICE, CA….this is an overlooked must-see from the 1980’s. It was highly praised by Coppola at the time (no wonder, that was roughly the time that Coppola was producing another Bukowski- laced feature: BARFLY).
    Warning: this film is not for everybody, and the ending may be too much for some….It’s a tragic tale of unrequited love, and the superb direction really stands out. It’s dialogue- light, and is a textbook in telling a story visually. This is what filmmaking has traditionally been, a visual story telling, that can’t be captured in words alone. Deruddere is no doubt, a student of silent cinema, and I haven’t seen such amazing communication with the face since D.W. Griffith’s 1919 classic BROKEN BLOSSOMS. Directed by Dominique Deruddere, Belgium, 1986, Color. On DVD.

    OOOOO five out of five empty film cans

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Sadistic, Weird, and R rating does best at Box Office

    CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (commonly referred to in the trades as "sadistic and weird"), and WEDDING CRASHERS (a producer-reluctant "R" for "raunchy" rating until the box office numbers started pouring in) are superstar standouts in an otherwise lackluster box office, and it's baffling pundits everywhere.
    Is it really a surprise? After continuously sanitized, neuterized, and blendisized fare, adults want some raunch in WEDDING CRASHERS (we're talking outside our SF bubble folks)....CHARLIE is another animal altogether, it's a 'crossover'. On the one hand it is marketed as a "family" film, which means every family in the US will see it at least once. Parents may be disgusted but kids will love it..... it's too late...the ticket has been bought. The other magnet elements are as follows a. Johnny Depp fans b. Tim Burton fans c. Danny Elfman (music) fans. My 19 year old falls into the Burton-Elfman category. She's a soft-goth hipster (no offense hon!) and she was in line opening was sold out and was SHE depressed! Next day, like clockwork, she was back in line with her boyfriend. That's a dedicated home grown Burton fan, who was captivated as a child with NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Nothing was going to stop her...and so the box office climbs. As my Dad would say: "vive le difference!"

    Monday, August 01, 2005

    From Hollywood to Digiwood

    Stanford Sociology Professor Albert Bergesen sees the history of dramatizing the human condition in three parts. The first was theatre, the peak of which was in the late 19th century in N.Y. (the focal point of theatre companies and bookings for traveling theatre within the U.S. ). In 1904 there were some 420 theatre companies on tour.
    By the early 20th century with the growing popularity of celluloid film, the infrastructure and entertainment industry was shifting to sunny Hollywood. The year round good weather made film production feasible. Now the entertainment industry is undergoing another technological shift. This came about from technological advancements made here in the Bay Area as well as our current Digital infrastructure. Not just Lucasfilm, but Industriat, the Orphanage (S.F.), PDI/Dreamworks (Redwood City), Tippett Studio (Berkeley), Giant Killer Robots (S.F.), and Pixar (Emmeryville).
    Bergesen says “with the appearance of every new animated movie, we should increasingly speak of the role of Digiwood, not so much Hollywood, as the center of the latest technological and accompanying geographical shift in American art.”
    ………..and I’d like to add, it’s still about telling good stories.

    Saturday, July 30, 2005

    35mm is oil, Video is water color, shoot 35mm now!

    Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
    Video is great for doc's, but when you go narrative, 35mm is luscious. Here's your chance to shoot 35mm. An Arriflex BL-1 sound sync 35mm package (Kubrick's favorite camera) can go hand held, set of primes, (2)400 ft cans, and (2) portable batteries. Camera and an Operator/DP to go with it! $250 bucks a day. Get some Kodak double XX B & W stock, and shoot your own little noir. 415-504-9014 or leave comment here.I'll be in touch. Lets make a Deal!

    Friday, July 29, 2005

    ALAN SPLET, I can Finally Hear You!

    After all the pissing and moaning about declining box office revenues, and the rise of home theatre viewing……I finally did it. I went to Target and bought a home theatre DVD system. It’s kind of a cheapo, $200 Philips model HTS 3400…but there were some cheaper and some way more expensive. It came with a DVD player (which plays CD’s) and 7 (count ‘em) SEVEN speakers. First thing I thought of was…OK, which sound designer do I want to give up my home theatre virginity to? Only one answer…Alan Splet….and of course, that led me to Splet's first soundscape masterpiece-Lynch’s recently remixed ERASERHEAD. People, I kid you not….. in no time I was beamed to DOLBY heaven…………….. you never know what you’re missing until you get it…. Yes, theatres have a lot to worry about.

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    THE FACE OF ANOTHER: A.D.D. Film Review #15

    Those of you who read my posts, know that I have a thing for the subgenre of film known as "people who’s faces get bandaged up”. See my review of DARK PASSAGE (June 30 post). This 1966 Japanese gem from Hiroshi Teshigahara (WOMAN IN THE DUNES) is sure not to disappoint. The protagonist’s face is mutulated in an industrial accident; he is afflicted with a deteriorating self hatred, and so, goes out and gets a lifelike mask made by a twisted doctor. The protagonist is out to seduce his wife and prove her unfaithful. This is existential horror that transcends the genre. Issues of self worth, identity, trust, are debated, discussed, and examined. Teshigahara was obviously heavily influenced by Chris Marker’s LE JETTE (oodles of cool freeze frames). The interior design of the doctor’s office is amazing : retro-atomic..very cool. This film is psychological and visual eye candy. Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan, 1966, B & W. available at LeVideo.

    Five out of Five empty film cans OOOOO

    GROOVE Director gives back to SF

    Got an email from local producer Brant Smith about ex SF director Greg Harrison's (GROOVE) new film NOVEMBER, opening this weekend. Brant and director Benjamin Morgan are busy laying the groundwork for the release of their Graffiti scene film QUALITY OF LIFE. Brant wrote

    "Back when Quality of Life was barely a script outline, Greg Harrison took the time to help teach us the ropes and mentor us in what it takes to pull off the production of a San Francisco indie film.Greg knew a thing or two about this challenge: he was the director of another underground San Francisco film, GROOVE, the Sundance hit set in the SF rave scene. Greg believed in us when so many people wouldn't even return our calls and we want to publically thank him and say we literally would not be where we are now without him."

    Thanks, Greg, from the whole SF film scene. I remember Greg at numerous FAF functions selflessly sharing information, and helping other filmmakers.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    Spy Report: Local Film Productions

    Here's some scuttlebutt of films being shot locally. Most are not
    based in SF.

    DARWIN AWARDS wrapped a few months ago. Not sure if they shot in SF. I know they shot a lot in the east bay and some in Reno. Prod. Debbie Brubaker, Director Finn Taylor (CHERISH)

    SEVENTY FIVE. Some kind of slasher film. Mostly LA union crew Shot in Sacramento.
    Produced or co-produced by Wyclef Jean; not sure who directed.

    MISTRESS OF SPICES. Bollywood type film shot mainly in London, one week in Oakland and SF. Dir. Paul Mayeda Berges.

    ONE WAY TO VALHALLA. Shot entirely in the east bay as far as I know. A few days in Oakland and the rest in Alameda. Dir. Karen Goodman; Prod. Debbie Brubaker.

    HER BEST MOVE. In Production. Coming of age story about teen soccer player. Shot mainly in Marin county with a week or two in Berkeley and a day in Golden Gate park at the botanical gardens. Dir. Norm Hunter.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Put Down the Burrito, and have a Cinematic Evening

    Every once in a while, a starving filmmaker needs to take a breath, and smell the roses. In honor of Le Video's 25 th year anniversary as being the no. 1 video rental in San Francisco, I want you all to put down your burrito for an evening.
    Pull out your Marlene Dietrich CD :Lili Marlene, run out to Trader Joe's for
    a bottle of Coppola Rosso, a delightful fruity blend of 49%Zin, 38%Cab and the rest Syrah), and rent an obscure video you can't find anywhere else (REMINDER:not ALL films are on DVD..go to LeVid, where Netflix and GreenCine cannot). Cheers.

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    Sup Mirakami Proclaims Le Video Day

    Yesterday Le Video celebrated it's 25th birthday with cake, champagne, and popcorn for all. Supervisor Mirakami was on hand with an official San Francisco Board of Sups proclamation naming June 24 LEVIDEO Day. Why? Because, as Mirakami said, in an age of nationwide chains, and Blockbuster Video, one video rental business with a vision is actually making money. Le Video's mantra has always been "to provide a comprehensive film selection that also features esoteric, underseen, underappreciated, and hard-to-find films that deserve to be seen" Take note gang, it's mission was NOT to "provide whatever the customer is willing to pay for". If you've never been there, it's on 9th between Irving and Lincoln, and is guaranteed to blow your mind.

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Se7en Director Fincher to Shoot ZODIAC in SF

    According to S.F. Film Commission President Canady, the Hollywood production of ZODIAC is currently in pre-pre-production, but will be shooting in San Francisco. The film is based on the 1969 serial killings by the infamous "Zodiac" killer, known for sending taunting messages to lawyer Belli, Herb Caen, and other officials (another killer publicity hound-sic). David Fincher (FIGHT CLUB, SE7EN, PANIC ROOM) is known for his moody, saturated noirish visuals. I know one thing, next to Tarantino, Fincher is the gaga favorite of SF State film students. Expect a STAMPEDE for those slave wage P.A. jobs (oops, did I say jobs? from an LA production company?...Commissioner Canady..heeeeelp). Mr. Fincher, may I polish your shoes?
    SF Serial killer movie to rent: Clint's DIRTY HARRY...also based on the Zodiac killer.

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    LASOO CEO Popper sees Video-On-Demand Future

    Lasoo C.E.O. Steve Popper is today's David, to New Line-Miramax-Sony, etc.'s Goliath. We have podcasting, so anybody can produce their own radio show. We have DV cameras and Final Cut so anybody can produce their own movie. We have DVD burners, and Customflix so anybody can press thousands of DVD's and sell 'em. The last nut to crack is distribution. The powers to be are fighting tooth and nail to maintain mind control... what we see, when we see it, how we see it, and how much to cough up. Everybody knows that the indie filmmaker who actually MADE the film is at the bottom of the food chain. The holy grail of return on the filmmakers blood, sweat, and tear investment is distribution...getting your movie direct to your audience.
    Speaking at the recent Institute for Intl Film Financing meeting, Popper beleives in the future of VOD (video on demand) technology. Popper's analogy goes like this. We have a limited number of theatre screens in the U.S. The amount of films that actually get shown on these screens is limited, as well as being largely designed to a mass audience. Every home has at least one screen.... a television set. That's hundreds of millions of screens.. here's another analogy: you're the ugliest woman on the block, and all the "shallow" men you meet in your hood don't want to date you. If your image goes out to millions of screens, you can be damn sure youre gonna have a fan club in no time. Every film has an audience, the question is how to find it. Imagine you're an indie filmmaker who has a good film, but it didn't get into Sundance. Lasoo's technology is a non-proprietary approach to VOD technology that can work with any television. Imagine organizing a VOD film festival or having a "VOD" release instead of a theatrical release to viewers...anywhere. Finally, Popper says the future for the little guy is to think BRANDING, not TITLES. example: "Johnny Depp" is a brand. "Finding Neverland" is not. Imagine a world when you can actually see your movie on the tube... and be paid for it. It's enough to make me cry.