Monday, October 13, 2008

A Social Class War?

Some interesting things are happening in our country. Banks are failing, unemployment is growing, and people have been ostriching about it, but not for very much longer.

I believe this election season is going to be the most polarized in decades. Somehow the tipping point has been achieved; there's always been a few (call them hippies, yippies, etc.) who are resolutely in the left of the political column -- but today there seem to be more people who have moved from the "Don't care/don't follow politics" to the "I *DO* care very much" column. I see those on the right becoming increasingly aggressive, vituperative, desperate to cling onto their party's hegemony of our country.

The Republican Party has alienated thinking people in it's "maverick" effort to embrace "Joe Sixpack". This collective pseudonym is just "code" for the working and less educated class -- which connotes the unflattering image of a boorish, slug of a fat white guy drinking beer in front of his TV and farting into the cushions. Isn't that a lovely way to backhandedly compliment your constituents?

For years now, the Republicans have packaged up their obfuscation of the real issues in a pretty box with a nice bow and presented it with a pious nod, a Palin wink. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! But at some point even some of their "Base" of Jane and Joe Sixpack will have enough of their mavericking ways and kick them out. The rest will ostrich, continue to polarize around hot button issues and never allow themselves a moment of self-reflection because they are CONVINCED that the Republican of the Year will save them all from the Liberal Elite Boogeyman hiding under the bed.

I declare myself Jane Latte and I approve of this moniker.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


When I was a student at AFI in the producing program from 1997-1999, Jim Hosney lectured for 30-45 minutes then showed us a film on Tuesday nights.

He's now blogging and has listed 100 of the great American Films in his first entry.

Now his students over the years from Crossroads, AFI and other places he taught are throwing him a big bash for his retirement over the Thanksgiving weekend. I wish I were in town, because it will probably be an amazing event. I learned about it via a Facebook group, The Hosney Underground.

I saw some incredible movies in Jim's lecture hall: The 400 Blows, The Conformist, Day for Night, The Loved One, Last Tango in Paris, 8 1/2...Jim's enthusiasm was boundless for these films. This class was the first time I'd sat in a lecture at the AFI where I felt my intellect was being addressed - so much of our coursework was about the nuts and bolts of how to be on set. I'd just come from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where there was a much more intense and scholarly atmosphere. The first lecture I slipped into I was stunned at how crowded it was and how this guy with the big black geeky glasses was reading from Cahiers du cinema. Then we saw the films, and sometimes he even spoke after them. It was a struggle to stay awake, not because I was bored but because our days were long and jam-packed. The classes sometimes ran to 10:30 or 11:00 PM. Sitting in a dark room when you're tired makes falling asleep a breeze!

Jim Hosney made my time at AFI incredibly rich and I thank him for it. I hope every one of his students, adepts and acolytes will join in honoring and celebrating his contributions to us and our business.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Heat Wave Broke

This morning it is cloudy and there's a fall dampness to the air. The Small Dog is sleeping beside me on the dining room floor. It feels much more like October now.

But I digress!

I've been reading the scripts of my colleagues in the Producer's Lab, just finished a script that reminded me very much of an incident I witnessed in my own high school life. I thought it really captured the smaller moments of people's private lives incredibly well. I have the Sloan winner's script to read this morning.

I've been looking at Peter Broderick's website, Paradigm Consulting he was one of the speakers at the Filmmakers Forum. I like what he is doing to help indy filmmakers, you might want to check it out. My former colleague Don Burton has finished a short called Homeland and has a nice website up for it or check out Don's personal art site, Flickering Spaces.

I also met with people at The Culver Studios this week to see what they were up to, and of course, being a DC Native I had to watch the VP Debate last night.

I Twittered my commentary but at some point after shouting at the TV and dinner being ready, I got up and switched it off before it was officially over. Today in the Huff Post I found this article which seemed to square with my own perceptions of the debate. All I can say is that clearly it's Republican Doctrine to pronounce the word Nuclear "Nuke-you-luhr" as opposed to "Nuke-lee-uhr" because I don't see an additional U in this word, do you? It's their shibboleth but I bet she couldn't say where it came from.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just a bit more on the Filmmaker Forum

Without the gratis pass from the benefit of being in the Producer's Lab I would not have attended this event. Mostly because I just don't have that kind of liquidity to shell out a few hundred dollars on things like this. This year I am exceptionally blessed because I also get to attend the AFM in November as a guest as well. So I am most grateful for FIND and all the nice perks they give us.

Here's a good article on the rest of the weekend that was in my IndieWire feed this morning that sums up the event rather well.

Last night we began the Producer's Lab. They served us Indian food which along with Greek is probably my favourite. There was wine, another plus, and that seemed to make it slightly less awkward. The group all have varied levels of experience, some come from directing, some from development, some are writers. Myself and one other person seem to be the most experienced at physical production & the overall nuts and bolts of being on set. I was really inspired by some of my colleagues levels of passion for their material. I would certainly see each of their films because they all seem to embody universal themes of human existence: love, tragedy, missed opportunities. Some are already cast with ATL crew attached, some are just scripts (mine), others even have music. We are mostly women, with the exception of our "token male" whose project won the Alfred P Sloan grant of $25,000K. It's an unusual story and I hope it finds an audience. I do wish we were split a bit more between the genders, it's more of a reflection of our audience.

We are reading 2 scripts a week. Mine is up for discussion on October 13 along with one of the most developed projects.

Still no work. I'm getting the feeling that between the incredible upheaval in the global economy and the lingering labour unrest with SAG that this will be a very skinny and tough few months for many of us. What if there is another "Great Depression"? Well, last time we had one of those, people wanted escapist entertainment and someone's got to help make it. Or we can all stay home and eat Depression Cake!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Filmmaker Forum at the DGA

This weekend as a member of the Producer's Lab I was able to attend the Filmmaker Forum put on by FIND at the DGA. It began with a screening of the film The Brothers Bloom on Friday evening which was nicely shot by Steve Yedin, had great production design by Jim Clay but it just didn't grab me. I couldn't decide if it were a caper film or a romance -- but both Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz are gorgeous to look at. It's worth seeing, just not sure if I would have paid to see it in a theatre. On Saturday morning we had Ted Hope's keynote speech and in my opinion this sort of set the tone for the weekend.

We heard from the producers of Bottle Shock and Humboldt County about the ways they had chosen to self-distribute or at least be more involved in the distribution of their films.

Probably the most exciting panel I attended however was the one entitled: New Tools for Audience Building moderated by Lance Weiler of the Workbook Project and presented by Micki Krimmel and Alex Johnson all 3 very enthusiastic folks with whom I just wanted to hang out and spend more time with. It was in the DGA 3 screening room which wasn't wired for internet and also didn't have enough seats so we were in the aisles and relegated to watching only some static powerpoint pages on the screen. Micki told me later at lunch the next time she does one of these she will specifically ask for a wireless connection. Good idea. I kept trying to look stuff up on my Iphone but the DGA is somewhat of a black hole for a net connection over a mobile phone.

I have to run off to a meeting, so I have to cut this short. More later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Producer's Lab -- begins September 26th!

I just got the email this morning announcing the line-up for the 2008 Producer's Lab to which I was accepted (along with 9 other producers) with a script written by my dear friend and colleague M. I'm thrilled to be able to participate in FIND's Talent Development program. Our lab will be taught by Anne Clements who produced the feature film QuinceaƱera, which went on to win numerous awards including the Sundance Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, Humanitas Prize and the John Cassavetes Award for Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards. The film was released by Sony Pictures Classics.

I'm eager to meet the other participants and spend the next 7 weeks immersed in thinking about, watching and discussing independent film as well as readying our script for production in 2009.

It kicks off with the Filmmaker Forum at the DGA next weekend and they're even hosting a reception for us on Sunday night. A few of my colleagues are attending the Forum so I'll get to see some familiar faces as well as meeting my fellow Lab mates and making loads of new contacts. A networking heaven!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The APPle of my Eye -- Iphone 2.0

I finally upgraded my Iphone with the "new and improved" OS a few weeks ago. This is ALWAYS a little tricksy, upgrading anything on my Mac because it is so chock-full of pics, Itunes, all my show files, etc.

And well, I have to say, I'm very well pleased about the search function for my contacts. I still don't understand how I can search (or if I can) on a particular word. This is why I'm intrigued by Bento, Filemaker's newest database offering because I do NEED a database that is more functional than just a contact list and I can't seem to keep up with it in Excel anymore. And while I take umbrage at being labeled a "control freak" -- I prefer FlyLady's term "Born Organized" instead -- I am totally the demographic for Bento.

Once this show is over, I can get back to my purging of files and do a major electronics cleanse. At which point, I might actually have room on my machine for yet another program!

How has Iphone specifically helped me in production? Let me list a few of the ways:
Texting -- I was able to give my boss a secret heads up in a meeting about a shit storm he was going to walk into once he left said meeting.
Photos -- I proved that damage to a Japanese Tea House was preexisting and not caused by our stunt people (as Ninja) jumping on and off the railings with a photograph taken by the camera, saving my show $3600 in repairs.
Locations -- I've been helped out numerous times by the mapping and traffic reporting functions.

It's a great tool that more and more of us in the Hollywood trenches seem to have. Take note app have customers in Tinseltown!

Hoping my lucky streak continues. I've been working consistently since late January and I'm a finalist in the FIND Producer's Lab with a project I've been developing with M.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Iphone - one month on

I've had it about a month now and I thought it would be worthwhile to articulate my experiences with it.

I was with AT&T to begin with so there was no real change in my service. I've found the coverage to be quite good - the only drop outs noted were in the DC subway (where evidently Verizon has an exclusive contract) and in the Sepulveda Blvd tunnel between LAX and El Segundo.

I migrated from a Treo 650 and when I exported my data as a Vcard the majority of it came over. I had segmented my contact data in the Palm Desktop software and those tags came over in the notes field on the Iphone so I will have to do a conversion eventually. I probably won't however because I just don't have the time and the patience to hack my way thru it. The main problem with the way I used the Treo vs the way I would like to use the Iphone is that I am unable to search in the Iphone.

I have thousands of contacts in my database. I can't always remember people's names but I usually remember their job function. For example, I can remember the gaffer I really liked working with - but what was his name? In my Treo I could type in "gaffer" and get a list of all the gaffers in my phone. In the Iphone, I have to try to remember the guys name and search by touching the letter of the alphabet. Was it Corey? Casey? Kacey? And suddenly I'm getting a headache (and wasting time) scrolling evig und 3 Tage looking for it. I can remember I have some great florists, but I don't always remember Mark's Garden. If I could search on Florists, they would be in the list of choices.

Yes, I use the Favourites button but I can see if I have more than 10 or 15 people in it I'm back to scrolling. Please. Apple. For the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, add a search function on the next upgrade. No more scrolling.

Cut and paste functions would be great as well.

Sometimes the touch screen is too sensitive and I'm moved out of scrolling back to the alphabet list. It's annoying. And I've discovered that if you are wearing gloves, you can't answer the phone, because gloves (well worn, red, leather) seem to deaden the sensitivity.

I really like the way it syncs thru Itunes but I'm not sure why there's a button for the Ipod and another for Itunes. The screen is not too small to watch media on. I've been enjoying League of Gentlemen on my Iphone/Pod/device/thingy. The speakers are just loud enough for me to play music and podcasts on the kitchen counter while I chop vegetables for dinner. (Girls Gone Geek is a new fave.)

Finally, I really appreciate the multiple weather cities and time zones and the timer function. I can tell someone, I'll call you back in 20 minutes, and I really do.

Now maybe I've just not yet figured out all the neat functions of the Iphone and it really DOES search. If that's the case, please tell me and I will sing your praises from the mountaintops.

It's a great device, but not perfect. But more than ever I use it, rely on it and would never trade it back for a Blackberry or a Treo.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Flaming Death Nostalgia

Whenever I go back to my hometown, I try to stop at a familiar place from my past. This time I made it back to Mario's Pizza on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. I have many memories of this particular pizzeria, most of which involve burning the roof of my mouth on the cheese. This is such a common situation with Mario's customers (at least in my circle of friends) that we called the pizza "Flaming Death" and by extension Mario's also became known as Flaming Death. The Highlander Motel and the 7-11 are both still nearby, though the Highlander is now looking more like it should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places just because it's funky architecture is worth preserving. I realised I had never visited Mario's during the lunch time hours and an entirely different crew works the day shift. In my 25+ years of patronage I had never had "lunch" there. It's always been the snack to start your night or an end of your night hangover preventative. How many times over the years have I stared at that tile floor in various states of inebriation?

I got my usual, 2 slices and was feeling the need for vegetation so I chose green peppers on one of them.

and it flamed me as it always does. Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose!

This is not the only pizzeria that I have nostalgia for. Stromboli Pizza in Greenwich Village on University Place between 12th and 13th streets is a close second. However, since I am not a huge fan of New York City (though I'm waiting for someone to convert me by showing me around and changing my mind), I don't get there too often.

I am now returned to Hell-Ay and just sifting thru all the strike news and a few other things that have come to my attention. More topics are pending.

At the intersection of art and new media, a place where the convergence emerges.