Friday, June 29, 2007

August Evening Wins LA Fest Jury Prize


A HUGE congratulations to the August Evening Team for a win at the Los Angeles Film Festival!

Indiewire Reports:
At the Los Angeles Film Festival, Chris Eska's narrative feature "August Evening" and Jennifer Venditti's documentary "Billy the Kid" won the jury prizes on Thursday night. The cash awards, $50,000 each provided by Target, were presented during a ceremony at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Director, actor, and composter Clint Eastwood received the Spirit of Independence Award at the festival as the event heads into its final weekend. Audience awards will be presented on Sunday night prior to the closing night screening of Danny Boyle's "Sunshine." [Eugene Hernandez]

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Precocious kids


We're creating the box artwork for the jumping off bridges DVD. Because we have NO money, we're applying for a grant and looking at loans to cover all of the upfront costs of this release. I dream of the day when we have ample funds in our business account. Please god.

Brain Brawl is sitting pretty on the desks of several production companies in Los Angeles waiting for that "YES WE LOVE IT!" or "Yeah, we're not into precocious kids" reply. Strangely, we've heard that response already.

The Spider in the Bathtub is getting workshopped again next week by my new lovely, writing group. Stacy's jumped the gun and started pitching it to a few folks. We're gathering line items to figure out how much it's going to cost. It'll definitely be under a million, but because of the CG animation, we can't be as scrappy this time around. It needs some care and funds to get it just right. I'm equally excited about this project as I am about Brain Brawl. Despite the CG factor, SITB seems easier to do from some reason. Maybe it's the one location, 6 character aspect.

My new project (we'll call it FOA for now) is stirring around in my head. I've written a little bit more and will start exploring some grant opportunities soon. I'm anxious to get some free time to really sit and fine tune it more beyond my initial proposal.

Roadside USA should be out the door next week. I took a stab at tweaking the edit and Stacy worked a little bit more. But I'm crossing my fingers that it's on its way next week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

J.T. Leroy Scandal

Years ago, on a friend's recommendation I picked up Sarah by J.T. Leroy. I couldn't finish it. I followed up with some short stories and it just wasn't my thing. What a crazy turn of events in the last two years though. Culminating into the most recent court battle. I find the real life drama much more delicious and entertaining than the actual works of fiction.

Vote for Leslie Powell!

Leslie, one of the actors from jumping off bridges is a finalist for the kid's reality show, Endurance, that will be on Discovery Kids/NBC on Saturdays this fall. Leslie is a force to be reckoned with and she would be awesome on the show. So vote here and vote as many times as you can.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cutting Kiss Scenes


I was teaching a teen student (one of my underdogs) how to edit tonight. I gave him a scene from cicadas to cut together and then set him free. At the end of the night I came back and he showed me what he did. Despite a minor glitch here and there it might have been better than how I cut it together years ago. I was a really proud teaching moment.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Break the Silence PSA

Katie Lemon who played Lindsay in jumping off bridges created a PSA for suicide prevention. We both spoke on a panel at the recent Mental Health of America Texas Conference and she went on to speak on a second panel about her PSA. I'm in awe of how Katie's gone beyond the movie and taken the issue to heart.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Goodbye Downtown Alamo Drafthouse


I know it's reopening and all that, but that location holds a dear place in my heart. For the following reasons ...

I had numerous screenings of cicadas there. I think Mark saw it for the first time at the downtown Alamo, before we'd ever met.

I saw a million screenings of friend's films Los Trabajadores, Butcher's 15 ...

Countless SXSW and Austin Film Festival screenings.

Seeing Slacker for the first time when I first moved to Austin.

And most importantly our wedding reception took place there over a year ago. Mark and I danced our first dance on stage to a back drop of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sarah Polley and then some.


One of my students asked if I'd met Robert Rodriguez. Nope. Never. "But wouldn't that be awesome?". Not for me. No, not really. He doesn't leave me weak in the knees. I think he probably has plenty of fans and admirers.

So I tried to come up with a list of directors that would render me speechless. Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, Hirokazu Koreeda, John Sayles, Terrence Malick (already met him and I couldn't form words, but if I met him again, it'd probably be the same), Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Martin Bell, Wes Anderson, Hal Hartley, Brad Bird, Albert Maysles, Guillermo Del Toro, Judd Apatow, and then of course there's a long list of dead directors (Robert Altman in particular). I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. New to my list would be Sarah Polley. I'm crazy excited about her as a director. I've loved her since The Sweet Hereafter. And now she's making equally amazing films as a director. And she just seems like a really wonderful human being. You can feel it in her film.

And they're off and running ...

My teen class shoot their films starting tomorrow. Back to back they'll be shooting five short films. Each of them will play a role behind the camera (and sometimes in front of) on each film. Some might even just be bringing lasagna to a set. What I love so much is watching them from day one, getting to know each other and that awkwardness to now where they hang out all the time, plot out shots, schedules, go see movies, grab coffee after class ... There's a real camaraderie. I'm super proud of that collaboration. It's neat to watch.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

I only work 16 hours a week at my official day job. Not referring to Austin School of Film. I don't consider teaching a day job because when I think day job, I think of work. And teaching to me is not work. It's fun, it's inspiring. But I digress. Back to the day job. As each day passes, the more I hate going. I've hated going since I started 4 years ago. And it's not because of the work. The work is tedious and stupid. It's talking to a travel agent, or processing licenses or putting together expense reports. It's because of a handful of people down the hall from my office. One in particular. I work for a company that produces Artificial Intelligence, so naturally we have some folks there that are, well, geniuses. Literally. And that's fine and that's great, but sometimes they take themselves a little too seriously. They seem to think that everyone else in the world is there to serve them. To do the things that they're way too smart to have to do. I don't have time for their mentality. I don't care. I just don't care anymore. I mean, I never have, but really now, I could give a shit. I hate going. I hate being belittled. I hate knowing that I'm better than that stupid 16 hours a week behind that desk. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Procrastination

So I'm totally procrastinating. I'm supposed to be working on this proposal and I'm being a complete slacker.

Films I've seen lately that I loved:

Once
Away from Her
Project Runway Season 1 (not exactly a film, but still I LOVE IT)

Films that I did not love that I saw recently:

Offsides
Nancy Drew

And so the writing begins ...

I've never been a part of a writing group. With old friends, new faces and email pals, we've started Ken's Club. Named after Ken Lewin who initiated the group, but couldn't make it to the first meeting. I'm super excited to have a safe workshop circle. It'll be a lot of fun. And I have so many projects in various stages it'll be good to get new takes on everything. And it'll kick me in the butt with my writing. I need that right now. I've been too distracted by Project Runway.

Craig has beautifully documented our first meeting.

I love Tim Gunn


Tim Gunn, I love you.

"What happened to Andrae? Where's Andrae?"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nancy Drew


After a full day of casting with my teen class, I treated myself to an afternoon screening of Nancy Drew. I wasn't going in with any big expectations, in fact quite the opposite. I loved the books growing up. They were handed down from my mom who idolized Ms. Drew. In fact back when I was still working at Book People, after I'd done my first feature cicadas, I did the research into optioning the rights for a movie version. No one had done it yet. At the time Nancy Savoca was working on a Nancy Drew project. So I tossed in the towel. Like I would've had a chance anyway.

So what did I think? Eh. There were hints of what could've been a cool project, but it got muddled in setting the story in today's world of cell phones and high tech crime fighting tools. The music was really off putting. This doesn't happen to me often, but I thought the music was sort of slapped on there and had no relation to the film at all. It really took me out when she would listen to some R&B type song on her Ipod while gathering clues. I felt like the second half was much better when we actually got into the sleuthing. I would've preferred the film to be set in the 60s with the same tone and style of the books. I will say this though, whoever did the costumes was awesome. Emma Roberts outfits were something else.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Austin School of Film, Projects and Catching Up

We decided to let go of a project we were going to shoot this summer. It was basically a job. A good job, but one that we couldn't make work with the amount of time we'd spend versus the money we'd get. So we let it go. It feels good now that we did. I feel less stressed for sure.

I spent most of the afternoon updating financial stuff. Sadly, I'm a sucker for anything financial. I like numbers. I like plugging them in, adding them, subtracting them, dividing them and watching them grow.

So my summer classes are smack dab in the middle. I have students shooting. I've visited one set already and watched on like a proud parent. My kids are casting all day on Sunday. Things are moving along really nicely. I can't wait to see everyone's stories hit the screen at the end of July.

We have some fun, exciting meetings with the Austin School of Film folks. Meeting with them always leaves me wanting to take on the world.

About to head to a belated birthday dinner with my boy. He turned 32 yesterday and I wasn't able to spend it with him. I had to help Jim teach the kids about cameras and lighting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

Returning to 2001

I was explaining the new project to Deena this afternoon after a legal conference call for another project and it began to really unfold in a way that I could fully understand and fully convey. I began to write a proposal for the project this morning and continue to work on it tonight. As the days go by it becomes clearer and more defined. I know how it goes. I know how to create it. I know how to fund it. And I know how to distribute it. And most importantly I know why I need to make it.

I never found closure all those years ago with a documentary that I spent over two years of my life on. I'm not a big fan of not finishing things. But that was a project I couldn't bring myself to finish at that time for a number of reasons. And so I return to it. In a way that I can finish it. Marrying filmmaking, my newfound love for teaching and my affection for the stories of adolescents. And so I move forward with an unbridled enthusiasm and passion for what comes next.

It's 7:30pm and I've been working hard since 6am. It's time to close my computer and go back to the real world.

Chris Garcia, you're my hero!

Austin American-Statesman Hostel II Review

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for horror films. But I'm all for horror films with a point, with a story, with characters and ideas, with a human element. As I've gotten older, I've gotten a lot less tolerant for so much of the mean spirited shit that's hits the theaters. I have a response to it all. But I'd have to tell you in person.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mental Health of America Texas Conference

I spent the afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel for a screening of JOB at the Mental Health of America Texas Conference. Met up with Ms. Katie Lemon for a brief Q&A after the screening. There were some nice requests to bring it to other pockets of Texas through guidance counselors, teen suicide support groups and even the juvenile justice center. We're hoping to hire an intern to take over a lot of this JOB rental stuff. That'll be SO nice!

My students at the Austin School of Film are kicking ass and taking names. I might even teach a 2-week class for AFS. Still figuring that out. My poor husband is trying to arrange us to go to Houston to see an Astros game. Not until August, my dear. This summer is crazy.

More developing on my new project. The ideas are rolling and the partnerships are forming. So yeah, we shall see. I will truly die if I don't start a new project. I'm literally having panic attacks about it. Major anxiety.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Crazy Wild Ideas


I have a crazy, wild idea for a project in the fall. Well, it'll probably take me through next year. It started as a morsel of an idea and is turning into a full blown experiment. I'm excited to run it past a few folks and see what they think and how I can get it going. It's no budget, no frills, no nothing. But hell, I got that scrappy shit down!

I saw Knocked Up yesterday. I heart Judd Apatow.