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.