Friday, December 17, 2010

"Contentment" Titling

Contentment was recently invited by the Dallas International Film Festival, and it got me thinking - I should probably finish it. It currently has no credits, and that's kind of important.

I had an idea to do the credits handwritten, since the shooting and editing style was so loose and fluid. It would match better than some computer font. After searching around among my friends and colleagues, testing their handwriting, I discovered my good friend Candace Lewis' handwriting, which is quite nice.

So Candace helped me write out the credits, and now I'm working on photoshopping it into workable titles.

It'll be done soon! 

[EDIT] It's done! Check it out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relax Again

Shooting Episode 3 of Danger! Relax, Please! now. Yes, that's Dan McLellan in a sharp tie and 'stache, and yes, that's a "tripod" behind him.

Unfortunately, Boa Simon and Jenny Hou, the DP and star of our show, are leaving for the holidays, and we only filmed half of Episode 3, so we're not going to have the new episode done before 2011. I guess that's what happens when you don't pay anyone.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Second Unit Psychedelia

A few weeks ago I was asked by a director friend of mine, Jay K Raja, to direct second unit on his short film The Drop. I'd never done second unit before, which on larger productions generally consists of shooting establishing shots of buildings or closeups of signs and such. When he explained what we were going to do, I couldn't wait to start.

Essentially, Jay handed myself and cinematographer Boa Simon a fish tank, some neon blinking lights, a number of inks, and both a 35mm and a RED camera - and said, "it's a trip-out scene."

So for four days, Boa and I played with ink, water, and light. You've probably seen footage of ink hitting water and making interesting shapes. Well, they wanted something a little more ... psychedelic. And after four days with a fish tank and inks, you start to get creative. I'm fairly certain you've never seen this kind of footage.

Below is a small sample of what we shot (password is "drop in"):

I'm really happy with what we got. Some of it just looks too weird - like computer graphics. Trust me when I say it's nothing but light, ink, and water. Pretty great for a second unit shoot!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wyoming? Wy not? part deux

Just returned from a very snowy Wyoming, and a five-day trip that was fun, relaxing, and hopefully, informative and interesting. A few photos from my talk with the Jackson Hole Community School follow:


It was a great time!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wyoming? Wy not?

In a few days I'll be flying out to speak with a community high school in Jackson, Wyoming. A local there saw my film La Nina del Desierto at the Reno Film Festival, where it won the Best Short Film award. She invited me to come speak to the students there.

And of course the Jackson blogosphere is already overloading with excitement and anticipation:

Well, I don't know about overloading, but I'll at least receive a cup of hot chocolate on my way in. And while I'd hate to saturate Jackson with too much Los Angeles irony, I hope they're aware that the photo and title "filmmaker extraordinaire" are tongue-in-cheek. I don't want them thinking some ego with legs and a cigar is going to walk in and yap about his important opinions and timeless oeuvre.

That costs extra.

If you haven't already seen it, you should head over to Danger! Relax, Please! and watch episode 2. And turn up your speakers, this isn't some artsy photogenic exploration of an old gravedigger's soul set to lonely acoustic guitar. This is entertainment, dammit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hey, you! Relax!

Narrative anarchy is here!

Click to Visit Dangerously
The first episode of my much-anticipated (by me) web series, the not-very-relaxing Danger! Relax, Please! is now up online! And with it, its own website!

Jenny Hou is patiently ludicrous as the lead, Boa Simon brought his considerable lighting and camera talent way down to my level for it, and Brian Andrews supplied the rowdy music, channeling god only knows what Saturday morning cartoons.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite projects I've ever done. After sweating and toiling through formal narrative for so long, trying to develop a storytelling voice while still maintaining a basic level of classic filmmaking language, it's incredibly liberating to just cut loose and do whatever the hell I want.

Although there is a certain frantic rhythm to it.

Episode 2 is on the way. It's been shot (see previous post) and is in the cutting room now. Episodes 3 and 4 have been written and cast. What eye-popping zaniness will Angry J get herself into? What will she get angry at? What comical cartoonish sound effects will garnish it?

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why So Series?

Recently, due to the unforeseen popularity of a very silly short I made, Water Worries, I've decided to embark on a new project: a web series.

It'll be truly unlike any web series out there - I only label it such because it exists on the web, though I hesitate to call it a "series," lest it imply some kind of consistency. Unless inconsistency is consistency enough.

All of this smoke and mirrors will become clear enough very soon - for now, dwell on this image.

Cartoonish faces courtesy of Scott Sullivan.
Meanwhile, Cut to Black is going well. We had our third or fourth script meeting today, and we're making sure all the elements will come together in a quality way. I've designed a kind of teaser site, which you can visit here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Six-Spoked Wheel of Collaboration

Tomorrow will convene the second meeting of an upcoming production that is really very exciting. On the set of my friend and colleague Scott Sullivan's latest short film (my position was that of the noble dolly grip), Scott posed the idea of doing a Four Rooms-like film. The idea took root, phone calls were made, brows were furrowed, creative fumes were unbottled, and now the idea is a very real and very interesting one.

Though the project is still in its infant stages, the foundation is sound. Five directors from our Chapman graduating class of 2009, Scott Sullivan, Candace Lewis, Daniel McLellan, Adam Fox, and myself, each with a unique visual style, and thematic interests, will each write and direct a 15-minute short film which meditates on the subject of one's last day on earth - essentially, death. These short films will share characters, locations, props, possibly even scenes, to make them feel part of a whole. They will then be combined and bookended by a short parenthetical prologue / epilogue, written and directed by a sixth party, to unite everything.

The result will be a feature film which explores six interconnected perspectives on death, brought to life by the self-critique and creative collaboration of six writer/directors.

At the least it will be a fascinating experiment, but it has the potential to be a truly amazing film. Needless to say, I'm jazzed.

My segment, "Goldfish," about a comatose man whose mind is preparing itself for death, has a first draft written. Tomorrow we'll be discussing further production challenges and setting up timelines. We'll also soon be setting up a dedicated website and blog for the production, where all six of us will be updating our particular nooks. Look forward to that!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Brand New Website, Student Academy Awards, AFF Spots

Welcome to my new and improved website! It's streamlined, it's tightened, it's retro. Have a look around!

While you're peering about you might notice a new project I recently finished up - three TV spots for the Albuquerque Film Festival. Check them out below:

La Niña del Desierto is also still going strong, coming up now on the 1 year anniversary of its festival run. Since Amsterdam and the Student Emmys, it's been a finalist for the Student Academy Awards, as well as hitting the benchmark of acceptance to 20 festivals. We've won Best Short in Fallbrook, Foursite, and Reno since May. The year will finish up with the Albuquerque Film Festival, and from there - who knows?

For now, it's time to focus on smaller projects, like these commercial spots, which give me an opportunity to work with my good friends again (see my Network to the right there), all incredibly talented folks. While we sharpen our talents on these small scale productions, I've got a much larger one in the works...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Film Festivals Galore

Well it must be something in the wind, because where La Nina del Desierto was getting no festival response before, there's recently been a slew of acceptances.

We've got film festivals in Utah, Amsterdam, France, Fallbrook, Blue Jay, Newport Beach, Reno, Wyoming, Burbank, Canada, and Milan. Really exciting!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Screenings and Student Emmys

More people seem to like La Niña del Desierto! It's screened at a few festivals now, including Cinestud in Amsterdam, a wonderful festival (apparently the oldest student film festival in the world) that flew me out and put me up in Amsterdam for a few days.

And shortly thereafter, we received the 3rd place Student Emmy Award from the College Television Foundation - an incredibly fun night, where most of the crew was reunited, and we all celebrated in classic Hollywood fashion!

We also screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where I met up again with Dani-Rose, La Nina herself, and we participated in a great Q+A.

Finally, we won Best Short at the Fallbrook Film Festival, our first "Best of" from a fest! This has been an exciting month.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Boa Simon wins ASC Honorable Mention

Really amazing news - Boa Simon, cinematographer on La Niña del Desierto, and one of my very best friends, was one of four students who won Honorable Mention at the ASC's Student Cinematography Awards.

Considering that there were only two winners, one undergrad and one graduate student, this is a truly colossal achievement; the ASC considers Boa one of the six best student cinematographers in the country, based on his work on La Niña.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Year, New Shenanigans

I'm not one for new year's resolutions, not because I think I can't stick to them, but because the new year is such an arbitrary day. January 1st falls on absolutely no geological, astronomical, religious, or historical day of importance whatsoever. So really - why choose that day to start changing your life? You can start any time. I like that idea better.

Recently I've been submitting to a number of contests. I submitted to the Nikon Festival with my entry Contentment, which is also available here on my site now. It's an experimental piece but it turned out really great, I think. It's personal, moody, and short.

I also submitted myself for a New Zealand contest, and you can see my entry here.

And that's about it for now - I'm going to Sundance again this year, to volunteer. Should be an awesome experience!