It Is Now Vitally Important To Protect and Nurture the Personal Life

Reds 1981 movie posterTwo of my favorite movies are about the Russian Revolution. I maintain this is because the two movies happen to be just really damn good, and not because I have a particular soft spot for the events of 1917. One of these films is obviously Dr. Zhivago, although it probably ranks somewhere between 15 and 20 on my list of favorites. But the other movie is Reds, and Reds is and has been, since College, my all time favorite movie.

Most people I have this conversation with have never heard of Reds, much less seen it. So, perhaps a primer is in order. Released the year I was born, in 1981, Reds is about real life journalist John Reed, who, along with his partner Louise Bryant, was one of the only Americans in Russia at the time of the Russian Revolution. He wrote a book about the experience, a classic called Ten Days That Shook the World. Reed is played by Warren Beatty, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film. Diane Keaton plays Bryant, and Jack Nicholson plays their friend, playwright Eugene O’Neil. A fantastic supporting cast fleshes out various American writers, artists, and creative luminaries of that era. Reds was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 3, including best director for Beatty.

Introducing: Cam Girl, my fourth short film

Think I wasn’t doing anything else whilst promoting Districtland? Well, think again. A few weeks before the premiere myself and an intrepid bare bones cast and crew shot a beautiful little character study about sex, desire, watching, and being watched. Last week I finished post-production.

 

More on this production as it goes through the film festival circuit, but for now I want to thank the brave crew who helped me make this: Director of Photography Chris Mariles and PA and Script Supervisor Erin Davis (and of course Stana Kimball for lending her art to the production value and keeping us well fed). And especially my gratitude goes to Agatha Jazmin for her performance as the titular Cam Girl. Thank you Agatha!

 

Cam Girl Poster (web)

Lessons from The West Wing’s Brokered Convention Episode

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 12.04.59 PM

 

So, here we are.

Donald Trump is clearly ahead, but may not get enough delegates to actually clinch the nomination on the first ballot. The race is down to three people. Ted Cruz could wind up with momentum going into the convention. And John Kasich is furiously trying to normalize the idea of a brokered convention in the first place to give himself a shot.

A few weeks ago I re-watched The West Wing’s brokered convention episode, where our hero Matthew Santos goes into the Democratic convention against the current sitting Vice President, Bob Russell, who has more delegates than him but also sucks royally and would probably get crushed in the general. There’s also John Hoynes, the disgraced ex-Vice President who is trailing a distant third but is trying to pitch himself as the voice of reason and savior of the party.

Sound at least a little familiar?

Who Should Win at the Academy Awards

imgresThe Washington Post has a handy retrospective on who should have won Best Picture over the past 40 years, as opposed to who actually did win. As they rightly point out, the Academy gets it wrong more often than they get it right – a lot more.

But the Post’s story admittedly has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and as such many of their picks seem obvious in retrospect, relying as they do on a movie’s enduring cultural relevance than a look back at what seemed right at the time (of course Pulp Fiction should have beat Forest Gump).

The year behind, the one ahead (A 2015 review and 2016 preview)

On the set of Moonshot.

On the set of Moonshot.

This year I found out where my limit is, because I passed it. You can tell because I now have, for the first time, white hair in my beard. We’re talking white, white – not gray. Look for me to be closer shaven in the coming year than I was last year in order to disguise said new white hair.

But seriously. For years and years I let time go by with a feeling of not having done enough with my life. Plans unrealized, goals not met, projects not started, or abandoned. In 2014 I began to seriously change that dynamic, and in 2015 I can say for the first time in my life that I maybe did too much.

To be fair, I am still, by my own standard, behind in life. I turned 34 this year; oh, the things I could have accomplished by now had I not been… so many things. But let us leave that extremely long list of past mistakes and regrets for another post, and continue on.

Project Greenlight: It’s amazing how willing I was to forgive bad behavior in exchange for good art

ProjectGreenlight640

A few nights ago I watched The Leisure Class on HBO, the movie which was made during Season 4 of the resurrected Project Greenlight. This is the reality show in which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon pluck an aspiring filmmaker from nowhere and partner with HBO to give the director money, a script, and distribution. Dreams come true, roll credits.

Every episode of Project Greenlight was fascinating, beginning with HBO’s decision to “bet on the director,” not on the script they’d chosen to give that director. Their pick from among a panel of finalists was Jason Mann. This is the guy who basically walked into the final pitch session trashing the script while professing only minor interest in actually directing it as his first feature film.

On My Watch-List Recently: The Duplass Brothers

They are fantastic models and will one day curate a whole list of interviews with them which should be must-watch, must-listen to for the just-starting-out filmmaker.

Today, watching their tiny little short that got into Sundance: This Is John

And, a recent interview with Jay Duplass at Austin Film Festival.

Also recently watched a fantastic Duplass movie I hadn’t known about until recently: Your Sister’s Sister, with two of my favorite actresses. Recommended.

Many of the Best Recent Movies Have All Been Distributed by One Company

What a crazy thing to learn today that one distribution company has actually been responsible for some of the best movies I’ve seen over the past two years, including Room, which – just… holy shit.

Slate profiles the upstart distribution studio in a recent story appropriately titled, The Distributor as Auteur.

In addition to Room, here’s what else they’ve distributed recently. All these movies are excellent:

  • A Most Violent Year
  • Ex Machina
  • While We’re Young
  • Laggies
  • Locke

A24 is also responsible for a few movies that, while not exactly excellent, are nonetheless sort of crazy, must-see, genre-challenging cinema. Those include:

  • Spring Breakers
  • Under the Skin
  • The Bling Ring
  • Enemy

They’re also about to distribute a few movies which I can’t wait to see:

  • The Witch
  • Mississippi Grind
  • The End of the Tour
  • Dark Places

What I Think About the Current State of Film Distribution

On my last birthday, which was in December, The Atlantic ran a story titled “The Death of the Artist – and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur.” In an article that is must-read for any creative type, this is the part that stood out for me:

Among the most notable things about those Web sites that creators now all feel compelled to have is that they tend to present not only the work, not only the creator (which is interesting enough as a cultural fact), but also the creator’s life or lifestyle or process. The customer is being sold, or at least sold on or sold through, a vicarious experience of production.

Yep. Because that’s what us “creators” are told we have to do over and over in order to get our work noticed. We have to blog about it, tweet about it, have a Facebook page, have a website, have an online presence, and all that. Hey, that’s what I’ve tried to do so far with My Love Is Real.