Monday, November 27, 2006

Love and Death on Set

Just finished production on a nice little indie feature. Good people. Good story.

I'm still tired as hell from the production process, but in moments like this (before the flurry of problems that come AFTER the film is "wrapped"), I think about what I've just gone through for the past month.

It's funny how completely anti-intellectual filmmaking can be. The actual process of production is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together in the back of a 4x4 that's rolling really, really fast over a rocky, pothole-ridden road. At night. With no headlights. There's very little time to think. Most of the time you just hope you've gotten it in the can.

At the same time, you exert tremendous brain-power trying to solve problems before they blow up into full-fledged crises. Or, on a better day, make things smoother, or make the shot more interesting or the performance deeper.

There are a handful of movies that sort-of capture this process well. "Living in Oblivion" does a good job. "State and Main" gets the army-invades-small-town vibe right, but misses the actual production part. "Heart of Darkness" is interesting to watch but most of the filmmakers I know (myself included) would like to have Coppola's problems (a studio film? a big budget? trying to control a "small" fleet of helicopters? Sign me up!) And of course, there's "Day for Night," which is terrific, but everyone has a lot more sex in it than I remember ever having on one of my sets (of course, it is a French film).

I think, though, that the definitive movie-about-making-indie-movies has yet to be made.


I scanned in a picture of a pita for CityMinx (link to her blog). I liked what the scanner did so I decided to mess with the pic a bit. Now it's the pita from hell!

Why was I scanning in a pita? Don't ask.


"The Fountain." Okay, it's not necessarily the greatest thing since sliced pita (you knew that was coming). It's NOT as wonderful and fantastic and profound as Darren Aranofsky would have you believe. But it's a lot smarter and more daring that 90% of what's out there right now, and if you can let yourself watch it without trying to impose too much on it, you'll see its beauty, its meditative nature, its brave attempt to ask some very big questions.

The fact is that any movie that stirs up such mixed reviews is something you should see. If the critics can't decide on it, it's worth looking at to see what they're so confused over. Film history shows that many of the "classics" got bad reviews when initially released.

Anyway, that's it for now. Mo' structured, less rambling posts to come, I promise.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Welcome To My World

Well, here I am in blogland.

Funny thing is, I remember a version of blogging from WAAY back in the mid-80s. You used to have electronic bulletin boards (sometimes called EBBSes or BBSes). These were usually maintained by one or two dedicated folks (SysOps) on their own home computers, hooked up via dialup modem (remember those) to a dedicated phone line. You could dial one up, email folks (but only other folks on that BBS), chat with the SysOp, or post random/semi-random thoughts to a bulletin board. Stuff like want ads or collaborative stories (where everyone took a turn), or just musings (sort of like... a blog).

Anyway, all of this got swept aside in the Internet juggernaut. I frankly miss the more home-crafted nature of those BBSes sometimes.

So much for memory lane. Onward then:

This blog is mostly going to be about my state of mind, what I'm reading, and things I catch out of the corner of my eye. As a writer and film person (I work a lot as a producer or production manager on indie films), I often feel like an alien sent down to observe human behavior. Hence the title of the blog.

I'm a guy in my thirties, and live in the greatest city in the world, aka NYC. I'm a lefty, so I'll probably make some very bad statements about conservatives. I apologize in advance... sort of.

I don't have much of a personal life at the moment (that's partly by choice, partly 'cause I work so damn much), but you'll get the picture after a few entries. [If I ever get this thing going past a few entries, that is.]

Well, to make this a touch more interesting, here's a book you should be reading RIGHT NOW: it's called "Collapse" by Jared Diamond (the guy who wrote "Guns Germs and Steel." In "Collapse" he talks about the why and how different societies suffer fatal or near-fatal collapses (hint: the environment and our treatment of it have something to do with it), and offers several historical and contemporary examples of collapses. This may seem like dry, academic reading, but I assure you it's not. He's a teacher so he knows how to dole out information in digestible chunks.

Anyway, I want you all to read this book and get back to me with a full 25-page report.