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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

SF Film Commission Prez Spills Guts

In an uncharacteristic display of a bureacratic 10-step confessional, S.F. Film Commission President Don Canady spoke last night to the the Institute for Intl Film Financing. about everything thats WRONG with San Francisco as a film production location. There's too much hassle in getting permits, the cops charge too much (NY doesn't charge anything), we have no tax incentives (does Louisiana really give 25%??), neighborhood attitude, and a few things off the short, when LA producers are scouting locales, SF is at the bottom. Canady is determined to turn things around. After the confessional, he spoke passionately about all the things he CAN and WILL do. Red tape for permits is being cut. Legislation for SF City film production tax incentives is "in committee" and should get to the Board of Supervisors before too long. These tax incentives may potentially include production rebates (the current trend), as well as reduction or waving of local sales taxes. During the Q & A, local Cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko said yeah, thats great and all, but LA producers bring up their own crews.....even lowly positions such as P.A.' where's the jobs?
In response, Canady gave credit to the left wing of the Board of Supervisors (included, but not limited to Tom Ammiano) for shoe-horning provisions for required minimum SF local crew levels in order to qualify for the tax breaks. Canady urged anybody and everybody to contact your Supervisor expressing SUPPORT for the legislation.
In all fairness, Canady has an un-enviable job...all the responsibility, with none of the real power to make things happen. At least he knows what stinks, and he's willing to listen to the local film community. You go Don!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MOTHER AND SON: A.D.D. Film Review #14

Russian director Alexander Sokurov (RUSSIAN ARK) makes uncompromising Art Cinema. He is not popular in Russia, except among cinephiles. No Plot, no action, luscious moody visuals, and pure emotion. Until I saw MOTHER AND SON, I really did not think it would be possible to sustain a feature as one "slice of life", and with one pervasive emotion of regret, a Son consoles his Mother in the last moments of her life. Rarely does the act of dying given dignity in cinema.
A note about the visuals: Sokurov was attempting a 2 dimensional painterly quality...the film was shot with panes of glass mounted in front of the lens. Japanese oil paints were painted onto each glass to effect the color in certain parts of the frame. Each shot was, in essence a custom made color filter. With the plates angled in front of the lens, the images have a slightly distorted quality....beautiful. Either you'll hate it, or consider it one of those life changing "filmic" moments. On my "top ten" list for the last 10 years. directed by Alexander Sokurov, Russia, 1998. On DVD.

five out of five empty film cans OOOOO

Friday, July 15, 2005

Robert Bresson speaks.....

"Cinematography, a military art. Prepare a film like a battle."
quote from NOTES TO THE CINEMATOGRAPHER by Robert Bresson. 1975.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

An Observation from Comrade Pudovkin

"Remember the early days of the cinema, when directors were afraid to cut up the visual movement on the screen, and how Griffith's introduction of the close up was misunderstood and by many labelled an unnatural and consequently inadmissible method. Audiences in those days even cried WHERE ARE THEIR LEGS!!?"

from FILM TECHNIQUE AND FILM ACTING, by V.I. Pudovkin, 1929, Moscow

Film Financing Meeting: Find Your inner Santa

Investors, Producers, Directors...Dip your toes into the world of business plans, investment plans, and general good-time number crunching. Next Tuesday 6PM, 145 Ninth Street at the FAF facility, meeting for the Institute for Intl Film Financing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More Gasoline for the Fire...

Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gough (yes, he is related) wrote a book and made a doc about all the things he hates about fundamentalist Muslims and Allah. That pissed off Mohammed Bouyeri so much that when Theo was riding home on his bicycle, Bouyeri shot him six times and slashed his throat. He got caught, confessed, and is quoted as saying "I acted out of conviction and not out of hate. If I'm ever released, I'd do the same again. Exactly the same." He added that his actions were based on "the law that instructs me to chop off the head of everyone who insults Allah or the prophet." It's always the wackos on BOTH extreme sides of the fence that drag everybody else down (and I put doctor killing anti abortion lamos in this category).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hal Hartley Packs it in, moving to Europe

A recent post in cinematech revealed Hal Hartley's dissapointment in not attracting a conventional theatrical distributor for his latest film A GIRL FROM MONDAY. Hartley had to "settle" for a Netflix DVD release (I think it's what horror filmmakers are quite familiar with-it's called straight-to-video). Hal, welcome to the good 'ol US of A where you're only as good as your last film....unless you're Robert Altman making ballet movies.
I saw A GIRL FROM MONDAY and listened to Hartley's Q & A at the Roxie months ago.The irony is that from the start, Hartley said he saw his film as a low budget art film--but then he got bad advice and the budget ballooned (kind of like Bush's "advisors" giving him daily doses of reality), and now he's got pissed off investors on his hands. Frankly, I WAS struck at how "arty" the film was for a Hal Hartley film...and how disconnected the narrative seemed. Hartley is a polished writer. HENRY FOOL was extemely well written and nabbed a screenwriting prize at Cannes. If I was shocked at how inaccesible to the masses this film could be (and I like art films)..well..I'm not surprised at what happened.
Anyway, word is that he's going the way of Kubrick, Jon Jost and others to the European wonderland of endless film grants and subsidies (I AM jealous). Well, with all of Hartley's endless references to Godard, wouldn't be surprised to see him running around wearing a French beret, with a baguette under his arm...

Monday, July 11, 2005

QUALITY OF LIFE Director Beleives in the Redemptive Quality of Graffiti Art

S.F. writer-director Benjamin Morgan works with at-risk youth by day (filmmaker by night..what else?)..and carries with him a 24 hour a day work ethic as well as a contagious passion that graffiti art can heal. That passion spread to established artists, businesses, and small investors. An art auction with donated works kicked off the fundraising efforts, small investors where attracted with screen credits, Chen design kicked in graphics and office space, and Number 9 contributed a big-budget worthy flash web design. Morgan admits the project would not have happened were it not for these contributors (more about the killer graphics and web design in a later post).
An ill timed job layoff (is there ever a good time?) right before production only caused Morgan to redouble his efforts to make the film happen. He comes from the Rodriguez (EL MARIACHI) school of filmmaking.....just do it. Three weeks and $30,000 later, the super 16mm project is in the can, and on the editing table (well..i mean the computer was on the editing table and the media was in the drive..i'm being retro). Editor Sharon Franklin edited a rough cut in three weeks in time for festival entry.
The film premiered at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival to rave reviews, and eventually landed distribution (an official announcement and trailer is coming soon). Morgan says he has no intention of dropping the ball. He's still working a day job, but spends his evenings on the S.F. October premier and theatrical launch campaign. More on QUALITY OF LIFE later.

Friday, July 08, 2005

WILL SMITH shoots for knockout with PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Caught a sniff yesterday from SFist...Will Smith (ALI, MEN IN BLACK) is coming to town. Columbia Pictures and Smith have set up shop in the city to shoot PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Production will start in August. The feel good drama is based on the true life rags to riches story of stockbroker Chris Gardner. While homeless with his son, and living out of BART bathrooms, Gardner struggled at Dean Witter by days learning the stock trade. Today he's a millionaire with his own firm in Chicago. The story eventually came to the attention of Columbia execs from a 20/20 segment about Gardner. They bought the rights. Steve Gardner (THE WEATHERMAN) wrote it, Gabriele Muccino is directing, and Will Smith is producing and playing the lead...not to be a cynic...well maybe...hope Smith and Columbia give us locals REAL crew work, above and beyond making them burritos, feeding their L.A. faces, and being P.A. gofers...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

REVOLUTION SUMMER to Start Production

Local writer-director Miles Montalbano is about to kick off production for his much-anticipated feature film
  • . Montalbano's short film LOVE AND THE MONSTER (shot in 8mm with an amazingly crafted sound design) burned up the festival circuit, and was a personal favorite of yours truly when I saw it at a screening at SF State. A highly original short, straddling the line between horror and social commentary, Montalbano relishes creating genre with a message. S.F. State alum and hottie Mackenzie Firgens (RENT, GROOVE) plays Hope, a disillusioned young woman seeking simple truths in a world of consumerism and self destruction. Love, Murder, sexy Revolutionaries...what more can you want?.......Sexy revolutionary movies to rent to hold you over: Godard's LA CHINOISE, Antonioni's ZABRISKIE POINT, Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS (directors cut).

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Bird’s Do It, Bee’s Do It, do American Film’s Do It?

    Is blood, gore, shooting, killing, chopped limbs, and oozing guts better family fun for the American film public than tits, ass, pussy, and dick? Does the American public view exposed genitals as porn or a natural part of being a human specimen? Why do we consider KILL BILL great family fun but freak at the microsecond exposure of Janet’s boob? If a man and woman are boinking at random, why is the woman called a slut? Why is it that the porn industry is the biggest in the world right here in the U.S.?
    I like the French attitude toward sex in film: sophisticated and adult. French auteur Catherine Breillat (FAT GIRL, SEX IS COMEDY) explores sexuality like….um….an adult. On a whim, I recently rented a film called THIS GIRL’S LIFE, directed by “Ash” (any relation to single name cousins like Madonna, Seal, Prince is purely coincidental). It tells the story of a woman in the porn biz in LA from her point of view. Ultimately it was about all workers who feel like “whores” and what we do to attain self determination. It was an honest empathetic stab at a subject which is routinely portrayed dishonestly. Refreshing. No blood, just some tits and dicks.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    EXPERIMENT IN TERROR: A.D.D. Film Review #13

    Way before Dennis Hopper creeped us out with his gas induced weezer breathing in BLUE VELVET, director Blake Edwards (MARY POPPINS!!) made asthmatic breathing the signature of his serial killer in EXPERIMENT IN TERROR. The writing device is adrenalin, and not plot based, ala PANIC ROOM, RUN LOLA RUN, etc. . Lee Remick (i mean her character..heheh) is terrorized into robbing a bank while G-man (did I say "G" man?...meant FBI man) Glenn Ford sets up a sting. The suspense builds to a predictable conclusion, but the ride is wild, with a few interesting twists. And seeing a circa 1962 no 38 Geary bus was cool too. Another major plus: The crook dresses up in drag in one scene. Always a visual delight (rivals Norman Bates in PSYCHO). written by the Gordon's, directed by Blake Edwards. score by Henry Mancini. 1962. B & W. SF noir.

    Three out of Five empty film cans OOO

    PS: Rumor has it Columbia Pictures is working on a remake.

    Fellini Lite?

    L.A. producers Michel Shane and Anthony Romano (I, ROBOT) are hustling funds to make Fellini's "lost" project TULUM. The script outline is based on Fellini's 1980 visit to Mexico, where supposedly bizarre and paranormal events happened while researching the magical lore of the Aztecs. Italian Marco Bartoloccioni is attached to direct. Shane says "It'll be completely far-out, but it won't be an art-house ride. I think we'll do it as a homage to Fellini in the Fellini style, but ACCESSIBLY". Fellini? Accessibly? does that mean more fig leafs?.....damn I luv producer speak.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Michael Hilton's otherworldly ARREARS Wraps Production

    San Francisco graphic designer and filmmaker Michael Hilton wrapped principal photgraphy with DP Nick Anthony for his ghost story feature film ARREARS. The metaphysical, otherworldly story line is as follows: In the life before this life a bond was formed between twin siblings, a boy and girl. They were shown what their life would be like on earth and as a result the boy chose not to come--he is now a fallen being, a demon, roaming earth waiting for his sister to be born into the family that would have been his. Years later, the demon is back, and intent on destroying the family and claim his sister as his own.
    Hilton claims no influence from the present day crop of Japanese ghost horror films (perhaps M. Night Shyamalan?), but credits a more spiritual approach to the material.

    Hilton's film education is a cornucopia of classes taken from local colleges, CCAC, Brigham Young University, and our own local Film Arts Foundation. His previous short film SCARECROW won a coveted spot at the Rotterdam Film Festival several years ago.

    ARREARS is in post production.