Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite (And Not So Favorite) Films of 2008

And the drum roll please ...

(And I don’t care what you say. Oscar worthy, schmoscar worthy.)

Son of Rambow
(Make Believe. Not War)
I loved it. I own it. I make all of my friends watch it. It would be my number one. It makes me want to say "Lee Carter" in a British accent all day long.

Shotgun Stories
Jeff Nichols stirs an unsettling, southern tale straight out of a Faulkner novel.

Tell No One
It leaves you guessing right up until the very end. And it’s such a fun non-stop ride to get there.

Drillbit Taylor
I’m a sucker for high school films. And I’m a sucker for the underdog. And hell, I’m a sucker for Owen Wilson too. So yeah, I totally dug it.

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

One of the best teen comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

Step Up 2 The Streets
Just for the opening subway scene alone. Can we say, "Thank you Jesus for bringing back the dance movies!" Although I'm not sure I'm ready for the remake of Footloose starring Zac Efron. I might be singing a different tune.

Stephen Chow, you’re my hero. I love you so much and I wish we could be friends. I think you're really really cool.

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
I haven’t laughed this hard and non-stop since my college days of getting high and convincing Ama that Calista Flockhart played the female Gelfling in The Dark Crystal.

Swing Vote
Give me more Kevin Costner. The funny, charismatic kind. It’s a shame this film didn’t get an audience. It left me more excited to vote than any political rally, sappy campaign ad or heartfelt speech. And that ain't no lie.

The House Bunny
Dear Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions, Thank you for believing in Anna Faris. She’s truly one of the great living comedians we have. I hope you'll give her more money to make more movies. Because she's really funny and has a super big heart. Sincerely, Kat Candler.

The Fall
If you know me, I've probably pushed this film on you at some point. It's solid. Visually breathtaking. The best performance of the year from a 5-year old little girl. Take that Oscar committee!

Glory at Sea
I haven't seen such an unusual and wonderful voice in cinema since well, a really long time. I can't wait to see his first feature. Yes, my friends, this is a short. And it's available. And you should watch it.

(Overall, I think if you look closely there's a running theme through my list of faves ... most of them involve kids and most of them are all about the funny. )



The Happening

Let’s see how badly we can direct actors before they realize it's a joke. Ok, now let's see how long the studio will shell out money before they realize it's a joke. Oh wait ... it's not a joke? Oh shit.

I had high hopes. They were trampled on, smashed, dashed and shoved down the garbage disposal. Please let Chris Weitz mend them back together again.

Hamlet 2
Mean, mean, mean, mean. Not funny, not funny, not funny. Except for the Jesus song. That was kind of funny. But not the rest of the film.

Diane Lane, go back to the light.

The Lost Boys The Tribe
I know, I know. Why'd you even shell out the $3.50, Kat? I thought it would be so bad it was good. Silly me.

Again, so bad it was good? Nope. Not this one either. Dagnabit.

Prom Night
How is it humanly possible to make a teen slasher flick so mindlessly boring? At least Jonathan Schaech got a paycheck.



The Happening
Too bad the movie was a big pile of poo.



Mister Foe

Happy Go Lucky
The Visitor
Paranoid Park
Iron Man
The Wackness

Word on the Street

Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard = Engaged.

Say what? When did they ... how did they ... for real? So yeah, it's pretty cute but totally unexpected. Wow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Alligator - Shoot Day

The Arts and Labor crew spent the day shooting Jeff Marrow's short film The Alligator. It's a new collaborative we started. We hope to shoot a short film each month. So far two down, many more to go. Eric and I created the sound department. I've never been a part of the sound department. I got to work with the lav mics, boomed some shots (until my arms got tired and I handed it back to Eric) and kept up with my logs. Jeff was fortunate to have a pretty kick ass crew and a huge grip truck. Lucky duck. All in all it went really well. I think he'll have a super cute film on his hands. They have a lengthy post production because it's heavily animated. It was a fun day. Making movies with your friends rules.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favorite Music of 2008

My Favorite Music of 2008
(in no particular order)

Records Stuck in My CD Player
  • M83
  • Girl Talk
  • Santogold
  • Sigur Ros
  • The Teenagers
  • She and Him
  • Weezer
  • The Killers
  • The Gaslight Anthem

Songs Stuck in My Head (in a good way)
  • Beyonce Knowles, Single Ladies
  • TI, Whatever You Like
  • Kings of Leon, Sex on Fire
  • The Gaslight Anthem, The 59' Sound
  • Santogold, LES Artistes
  • Kanye West, Love Lockdown
  • Usher, Love in this Club
  • Rhianna and TI, Live Your Life
  • Weezer, Greatest Man That Ever Lived

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ten Things I Love About This Christmas

  1. Putting out oats and hay out in the front yard for the reindeers to snack on while Santa's leaving presents in the house.
  2. Deanna's buffet of cookies: Sugar, Tom Thumbs, Carmelitas, Mini Pecan Pies ....
  3. Spending lots of time with my BFF Bella
  4. Watching A Christmas Story and laughing non-stop through the whole thing even though I've seen it a million times. It holds up every year.
  5. Play Doh, toy trains, EZ Bake Ovens and Barbie.
  6. Waiting for Christmas dinner and all the delicious smells that go along with it.
  7. Watching Mark open his new DePalma Rock N Roll T-Shirt that I was so proud to get him.
  8. Discovering that I like the Wii. And I don't entirely suck at video games.
  9. Family. Even if they're three or four states away.
  10. Hanging out in my PJs all day long.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut - The Script

On our way to Houston, I read the script for Eyes Wide Shut. It's actually a pretty quick read. Not terribly well written in terms of spelling, grammar and description. And tame. So tame compared to what I remember the film to be. I saw the film when it hit theaters years ago and felt "eh" about it. Some great performances, haunting score, beautifully shot, but felt lifeless to me. The script is interesting in comparison to the film. What would happen if you acted on your secret fantasies and desires? Literally flirting with death. The mess that you would leave behind. I don't know. Again, it just sort of left me feeling empty. If what we dream about stays in our head, we're safe. But when you disclose those fantasies, they're like giving your partner an itch they have to scratch. They infest your partners thoughts and trust, even.

I'd like to revisit the film, just to see how it all translated.

Dawson's Creek Revisited

I was never a follower of Dawson's Creek. Kevin Williamson's TV hit show post Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. I caught it once or twice but never got hooked. Mark was sweet enough to get me a box set for my birthday this year, thinking probably that I (being a self proclaimed lover of teen films) must have been a big fan. Well, here are a few of the reasons I was not.
  • I never liked a guy like Dawson in high school. Bad hair, cheesy socks and pants. No really, he wears really bad socks in the show. I was a Jordan Catalano kind of girl. Skaters, punk kids with attitudes ... those are the boys that set my heart on fire.
  • The adults in Dawson's Creek are painfully awful. Mark and I were wondering if the kid actors were aware of how much they out acted the adults. Both their storylines and their performances are pretty cringe worthy.
  • It's extremely dated.
  • It doesn't even hold a candle to My So Called Life. That's a show that holds up ten years, fifteen years later. Just one little season outshines however many seasons of any other teen television show. Why? It has heart. And lots of it. And it's real. Through and through.
But here's the thing. I did love a few things about Dawson's Creek. That show gave us Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Michael Pitt and Joshua Jackson. Whoever did the casting for that show, nailed these kids. And thank god.

What's been fun is cozying up to my boy watching back to back episodes and giggling like mad at the cheesy dialogue and funny socks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Brian de Palma - Essential AFS Cinema Series

Oh boy. What a treat for January and February. If you're not an Austin Film Society member yet, now is a good time to sign up!

Jan 13 – MURDER A LA MOD (1968, 80 min., B&W) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 17 – GREETINGS (1968, 88 min., color) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 20 – HI, MOM! (1970, 87 min., color and B&W) at the Alamo South Lamar

Jan 24 – DIONYSUS IN 69 (1970, 85 min., B&W) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 27 – SISTERS (1973, 93 min., color and B&W) at the Alamo South Lamar

Feb 3 -- PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974, 92 min., color) at the Alamo South Lamar

Feb 10 -- CARRIE (1976, 98 min., color) at the Alamo South Lamar

Signature Holiday Dish - Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl

I didn't make it to as many holiday parties as I'd intended. Let's just say cramps kept me curled over in pain most of the weekend. But I realized that I have a signature party dish. It was one that I used a lot in my early 20s and now I'm revisiting in my mid-30s. Spinach dip in a bread bowl. It's cute, contained and it's good stuff. But unlike my early 20s when I used to make it fresh, now I get it from the local Central Market grocery store. I have every intention of making it from scratch but end up flaking out and buying it premade last minute. It's a pretty great signature holiday dish. One of the first to go at the food spread table. Go spinach dip!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slacker on YouTube

Now you can watch Richard Linklater's beloved debut feature, Slacker on YouTube.

Brought to us by the folks at Cinetic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Script to Screen Class = Full

I just filled up my spring Script to Screen Class yesterday. It's officially jam packed. If you're still interested in the class, I can put you on the wait list. Just send me a note.

Love Me - The Read Through

I'm holding a read through of my teen thriller Love Me tonight. I'm inches away from taking it out. It's (hopefully) a fun, popcorn flick with a few twists and turns and some loveable teen characters. It's probably one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had writing a script. Maybe because it's a new genre for me. Anyhow, I hope to get final bits of feedback to give it a good polish before I make it out to Los Angeles again. I'm planning a trip in February. Tickets are dirt cheap! Dirt cheap. So yeah, that's the plan. I'd be cool with just selling the little thriller.

I'm almost finished with the first draft of a new one. I should have that draft wrapped up by the end of the year. It needs a ton of work, but the skeleton is there. It needs some soul infused into it. I want to keep it in the drama genre but it keep whispering in my ear to scoot it over to a thriller.

Next semester I'm doing an independent study class with some of my UT students from this semester. We'll each (it's a class for me too) be writing a feature script over the semester. I have a big, budget comedy for that one. I'm actually pretty impressed with my idea (good job, Kat!) It'll just take some time and concentration to pull it off. For some reason, right now I'm fixated on the idea of fathers and sons. Don't ask me why. I'm neither a father nor a son. And I'm also fixated on boy scouts. Again, I was never a boy scout, but my dad was a boy scout leader for years and years and my older brother was an Eagle scout. So I went on many a camping trip and suffered through Boy Scout Jamborees, box car races, spaghetti dinners ...

Arts and Labor - Group Hug

A little over a year ago I moved into an office at Arts and Labor Productions. Jason Wehling (August Evening) lured us into a collective of filmmakers who would office with and work with Arts and Labor (run by Alan Berg) on various projects (Dell, On Networks, industrials, documentaries). It started out as a super cool idea. A collective of film makers and film lovers with different skill sets (videography, writing, directing, graphics, sound design, editing ...) We would office next to each other in order to share ideas, contacts, pep talks. Over the course of a year it turned into an amazing circle of friends and a strong group of collaborators. Last night was our holiday party. Looking around at the faces ... some I see every day, some once a week and some every few months, but all of whom are the sweetest, kindest, hardest working, most talented group of folks you'll meet. I think I got super duper lucky falling into this little community. I heart Arts and Labor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

End of Semester - UT RTF

We had our end of semester UT RTF screening at the Alamo South today. Oh man, I couldn't have been more pleased. These kids worked their little butts off and their hearts were all over that screen. A very big, beautifully projected screen. I was proud. So very proud.

What I've learned this semester at UT:

1) Don't underestimate what they don't know. Is that right? Because they think they know a lot, and that makes you think they know a lot, but really they don't know as much as they think they know. In fact far from it sometimes.
2) Be honest with them. Honest feedback helps. Sugar coated feedback doesn't.
3) Encourage them. Give them a chance. And if they fall, it's ok. Make sure they get back up, brush off their pants and keep going.
4) Make them reshoot. Sometimes it's not an option.
5) Stick to deadlines. Don't let their excuses sway you.
6) Know when to give them room and when to rein them in.
7) You can't hold their hands. They have to take responsibility.
8) They will surprise and delight you.
9) The quiet ones are sometimes the forces to be reckoned with.
10) The humble kids are usually the rock stars.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unfaithful and Damage

I started writing a screenplay a month ago about adultery. It's a subject that I find compelling and one that I have very, very strong opinions about.

I've recently been watching films for inspiration. First Unfaithful. I remember really liking Unfaithful the first time I saw it in the theater. The film takes a hard look at the motivations or lack of motivations that propel a housewife into an affair with a sexy book seller. Stealing away from her suburban life of washing dishes, picking up after her son, lunching with girlfriends, she finds herself sneaking off to the city for a steamy affair with a sexy French man. But when her husband finally puts two and two together, it ends in complete and utter disaster. What I like about the film is Diane Lane's character, Connie. There's such confusion of emotions. The scene on the train of her remembering and crumbling, it's pretty riveting to watch. And what's interesting about this film is that the affair brings the husband and wife closer in the end. In a believable way. I guess what I like about this film is that I believe that it could happen and that it does. Even with a faithful husband and small child. It's heartbreaking, but I believe it.

Here's the thing ... I can almost (heavily emphasized) understand a one night fling if you're in a situation at home that leaves you hollow and depressed. But to go back again and again after that one time ... I don't get it. These are only guesses, (because I've never been in this situation) but I would assume that the pain and sickness that you'd feel about yourself would be unbearable. Especially if you have children. That to me is just downright inhuman. And again, I have pretty strong opinions. I'm not very forgiving when it comes to this kind of thing. Unfaithful still held up for me though. Especially the third act of the film which for some reason I'd forgotten. I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Richard Gere's character. He's a good man who loves his wife and would do anything for her, regardless.

Next up, Damage. I never saw the film when it first came out. I think I was too young maybe? It's pretty racy. Maybe it doesn't hold up with time, I don't know, but I didn't like it. Or rather, I didn't buy it. The whole introduction to Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche's affair isn't believable. They stare into each other's eyes at a party (without a single word) and then next thing you know they're ripping at each other's clothes. Maybe in our fantasies, but not in real life. And I didn't care about the characters because they didn't seem to care about each other. I never saw love in anyone's eyes. Besides those betrayed and left behind. And the idea that a father would continue an affair with his son's girlfriend and continue to want her long after his son's death (which was a result of the affair). Really? The film otherwise is stunning ... performances, cinematography, pacing, tone ... but I just couldn't believe it.

So I'm exploring what leads people (smart people) to affairs? People in committed relationships who truly love each other. Why would you risk all of that? I think it's probably different for women than for men. Or at least that's the sense I get in conversations with friends. But I find it really interesting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Headphones = Cool

I think I look cooler with headphones. I'm wondering if I should buy a pair and wear them around town.

Music Obsessions - Santogold

I love this song so much. I've been listening to the album incessantly. I can't get enough.

I also can't seem to take Elliot Smith's Either/Or out of my car's CD player. I miss that guy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Film Score Focus, Saturday, 12/13, 10AM

Brian Satterwhite a dear friend and talented composer hosts the show Film Score Focus show on Austin radio station 89.5 KMFA on Saturday mornings at 10am. This Saturday Brian will play selections from all of the films he's scored this year including Quarter to Noon. The score in Quarter to Noon is pretty wonderful. Everyone who sees the film always comments on the music.

Even if you don't live in Austin you can tune in here.

Slamdance - Zombie Girl (2008)

Sundance announced their entire line up. Features, midnight screenings, shorts. I don't know a soul who got in. Usually there's at least someone, but this year, no one. The folks I would've expected to ... nope. The only friends I know who got into Sundance or Slamdance this year are the team behind Zombie Girl: The Movie. I couldn't be more pleased for these boys. They deserve it up and down. It's a great film with a huge heart. But I wouldn't have expected anything less from them. So congratulations Aaron, Erik and Justin!

Footage Happy

I can't put the footage down. I'm super giddy for it. Mr. Marshall Rimmer ... give the boy a camera, some creative freedom and watch him do some kick ass work. Marshall, you did good, friend. You did real good.

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Moon Minus Hardwicke

So word hit the streets today that Ms. Hardwicke is no longer attached to direct New Moon, the second installment in the Twilight series. They blame schedules, but I suspect it's for other reasons. I'll be really curious who they pick for the next round of Twilight madness.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ninja James - Wrapped

Yesterday marked our last day of production. We got rained out a few weeks ago and had to postpone until after the holidays. I'm glad we did. We got some great stuff yesterday. Luckily no one got arrested. I'm not kidding about that. We were driving a 3-4 mile circle around downtown Austin with two prop cars, three actors, two cameras and a pick up truck. Between the two cameras and camera guys strapped in with bungee cords and two of my over enthusiastic actors who really played the part of bullying gang boys, I'm surprised the cops didn't stop us and make any arrests. My heart was pounding and some times I had to turn my head in fear. I will say that plenty of innocent bystanders either got super nervous or were thoroughly entertained by our theatrics. All in good fun.

So now we start the post production process. A heavy post production process. It'll take a good little while to piece it all together, add in the visual effects and get it looking as strange, kinetic and stylized as it is in my head. This has been a major experiment for me. I'm crossing my fingers that it plays out on screen.

I'm happy it's Sunday. It's been weeks since I've had a whole free day to myself. I went to bed at 8:30pm last night and didn't get up until 8am this morning. I plan to spend the rest of the day in all out laziness.

Glory at Sea (2008)

I missed Glory at Sea at SXSW this past year. When I finally watched it this morning online, it stole my heart. I'm a big fan of their other film Death to the Tinman so it was no surprise that this film surpassed all expectations from what I'd heard from friends and around the festival circuit. While you're sitting on your lunch break or up late surfing the web, take the time to watch this film. The vision, imagination and heart that this team brings to the screen is something I haven't seen in a long time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Alone in the Dark (1982)

A film so cheesy and wonderful. Full of a few honest to goodness frights. A great synth soundtrack. Laugh out loud performances and dialogue. Pink hair, leggings, hockey masks ... and characters named Bunky. And Murdoch from the A-Team as the lead. It can't get more 80s that that. Loved it!

Butt-Numb-A-Thon Poster

Gordon made a pretty sweet poster for this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ciao Opens NYC

Yen Tan's quiet, beautiful film CIAO opens in NY this weekend at the Landmark Sunshine Theater. Please go support this stunning film in its opening weekend. I promise you won't be disappointed. It slips under your skin and sticks with you long after you leave the theater.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

It's a small, quiet film about a boy who takes care of his younger sister after their home is destroyed during WWII Japan and their parents become a casualty of war. It's a story about the lengths you'll go for someone you love. Gorgeous to watch and heartbreaking to experience.

Ninja James - Last Shooting Day

We're prepping for the very last day of shooting (I hope). Rimas and Chadwick have been putting together a loose first cut to see what we might be missing. Sunday Chadwick and I will meet, put our heads together and get crackin' on some major editing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Highlights

Watching Bolt with my two nephews and their BFFs. Little boys like movies where people get hit in the head, poop, slip on banana peels and where cars flip high in the air and smash to the ground. That's so awesome! Whoa! Cool!

My niece Caroline is obsessed with Chicken Nuggets. She named two of her dolls Chicken Nugget Girl and Momma Chicken Nugget.

I suck at bowling on the Wii. And my 4 year old nephew Christian can make ten strikes in a row.

Dan in Real Life is still a great film the second time around.

A three hour layover in Dallas blows.

My sister in laws' brother's daughter loves leaf parties.

I miss Ama and Karen very very very very very very much.

Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau and Kristin Chenoweth can't save a really bad script.

I think Kristin Chenoweth is super cool.

I need to see my family more than once a year. My heart aches to see them more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mr. Smith Geeets 'Em!!!! Geeet 'Em! Geeeet 'Em!

Oh those poor gang boys. They didn't even see it coming.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Paris BFF - Goodbye Bikini Corey, Goodbye Shelly

I don't care if everyone knows or not ... I watch My Paris BFF. So what?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Billy Madison the Musical?

Tonight a friend mentioned that there was a new Broadway musical version of Billy Madison. Please god let it be true. I rushed home to look it up but can't find a single thing. Please, please, please point me to evidence that it exists. This is the best news I've heard in months!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alicia Keys - Superwoman

My new theme song.

Rainy Day Blues - NJ Wrap Up (Sort of)

Pork Chop (my little gray fluffy, one eyed cat) stares at me from the couch. In between licking his hind legs, he probably wonders why I'm not petting his belly instead of working on my computer.

It's been one of those days. The self loathing, feeling sorry for yourself kind of crummy days. After a Saturday of pick up shots and fun adventures to Mopac Media in Leslie's minivan, this morning we woke up to a drizzly, drizzly early morning. We made the call to cancel the day's shoot. I was quick to cancel, needing a bit of a mental break from the short. I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I think this has been the hardest thing I've ever shot. There are many reasons I won't go into. So instead of driving around the downtown city streets with Curtis and crew, I slept. I slept until 10am. And I didn't feel one bit guilty about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend #3 Ninja James - Here We Go Again

The call time is an hour later. Tomorrow is just a bunch of pick ups, close ups, inserts ... smooth sailin' sistah.

Sunday is a bunch of driving with Mr. Smith. Driving, driving and more driving. And Miss Savannah Welch in a little cameo. Haven't seen that lady in a long while. Nice mini jumping off bridges reunion.

Twilight - A Review from a Girl who's Obsessed with Making Teen Films

I was supposed to stay up until midnight last night to catch Twilight with a friend. Around 10:30pm, I was fast asleep. No deal. So at 7am this morning, I woke up, took a shower, did a little work and headed to a 9:30am screening where I thought I'd sit in a somewhat empty theater enjoying the film mostly by myself. Not the case. I arrived at 9am and already there was a line of what looked like 40-something book club women ready to giggle and act like 13-year olds. Yes, they had on Team Edward and Twilight garb. They giggled with excitement just like the even fewer teen girls who's mothers were cool enough to let them skip school. Standing alone in a line at 9am with a bunch of other women ... I felt downright silly. But whatever. I settled in to my seat in a pretty crowded theater all ready to swoon over Edward Cullen. And swoon I did. Yes, the Rob Pattison is dreamy. Yes, the hair, the lips, the brooding forehead, all very sexy. Thank god for close ups and lots of them. Because every time he came on screen, the whole audience let out a collective sigh. No joke.

Was the movie good? Uh, no. And as a disclaimer, I've never been a Catherine Hardwicke fan. But I was curious to see her take on a Hollywood, mainstream film. I thought it would have an edginess about it that she forced on us with Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. But no, it went into ultra cheesy world. Really bad flashbacks, cringe worthy effects ... and yes, I was thinking in my head all of the things that the Book Club women were chatting about in the bathroom afterwards. How could she have cast that girl as Rosalie? Alice is not what I expected at all. Will teen girls love it? Oh yeah. Will they go to the theater more than once? You betcha. The best scenes in the film are between Bella and Edward alone, in her bedroom, in science class, in the car ... the realistic moments when it's not about bloodlust or flying through trees ... it's about being awkward around someone you totally dig. And that's what makes the ladies sigh.

In summation (giggle) ... the book is totally cheesy. There, I admit it. It is. But I'd rather relish those cheesy moments in my head than see someone else's interpretation of them on screen.

Luckily for the studios, the girls will flock. FLOCK to the theaters again and again. They'll show Hollywood that they care and their dollar counts.

And finally, if you really want to see a good recent teen flick, rent Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist when it comes out on DVD. Peter Sollett nailed it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr. Smith's Car

I love this photo that Alexis took from the set on Saturday morning.

This is Mr. Smith's car. A 1969 Thunderbird owned by one of the sweetest men in Texas. It's a beauty if I do say so myself. It's almost become a character in the film. All the cars have. I wish I had a photo already of the gang car. That'll come soon. Along with shots of my beloved gang boys. Total cutie pies.

Ninja James and the Beast Boy

Mr. Smith (Curtis Wayne) and Alex (Sam Richardson)

So Exciting! So Exciting!

Holly Bronko and Alexandra Valenti - Art Show, 12/4

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ninja James Footage

We're 4 days into a 6 (possibly 7) day shoot. That 7 day will be reshoots. And those reshoots will take place after the Thanksgiving break. 90% of the footage looks awesome. The other 10% is the reason for reshoots. What's working though is really working. It's got a very 70s style feel and look to it. Between the crazy zooms, whip pans, camera flares and old school cars ... it feels aged, which I love. And Curtis, well, the man was born to play an action hero. His face just says it all. Curtis in that 1969 Thunderbird just makes me grin from ear to ear. And my beloved gang boys ... all six of them, the babies and the older guys, I just want to squeeze their little cheeks they're so cute.

All in all , I'm very, very pleased. And once we hand over all the footage to Chadwick and Keefe to work their editing and effects magic, I think it'll be pretty darn cool.

What's been great about the last two shorts is that they're completely different from what I've done in the past. That's my goal. To stretch my little directing muscles and learn by doing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please Don't Yell at Me

I'm a nervous wreck getting my blood drawn. I don't do flu shots because I hate, hate, hate needles. My stomach turns and clenches anytime I have to talk to a cop or a State Trooper (which I had to do this weekend). I don't do rollercoasters because I'll give myself a heart attack. Now I can add something new to my list of freak outs ... UT Equipment Check In. (Insert scream from a horror film here.)

I have to brace myself to go to UT Equipment Check In. Checking out .... no problem. But check in ... argh. When I haul the equipment in, I hold my breath and pray to the heavens above. There's a bit of a chill when I get there. It's quiet, not too many smiles (especially at 8 or 9am). My stomach tosses and turns as I wait for the staff to pour through every item looking for anything broken or missing. Please let it all be there. Please let it work. Please don't yell at me. Please don't yell at me. I hate getting yelled at. The first week, I was missing a Lav Mic clip. This week I came in with a broken C-Stand and a missing quad extension cord. A few hours after you leave, you get the dreaded "UT RTF Check Out" email telling you how much you owe for the mishaps and how much you suck for letting it happen. Not really, but you feel like crap because you couldn't keep everything in check. Like getting yelled at by your parents when you hid your veggies in your napkin. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know I suck.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A friend of mine is conducting this workshop. If you know anyone who might be interested, spread the word.


Are you frustrated with your current relationship? Do you feel like you're not yourself anymore? Deciding whether or not to make a change in your relationship is difficult and often comes with fear ("What will happen if I actually decide to leave?") and doubt ("What if I make the wrong decision?"). This class will help you move away from these anxieties by providing you with helpful information about decision making in relationships as well as thought-provoking exercises to get you moving toward clarity, focus, and confidence. This seminar is open to all people. Whether you are single, dating, partnered, married, straight, or GBLQT, there is something here for you. Megan Bayles Bartley, LMFT, LPC and Michele Malooly, LPC are therapists in Austin who are dedicated to helping men and women have the most fulfilling relationships possible.

Date: Tuesday 11/18/08 7-9pm (Can't make this one? Ask about future dates!)

Cost: $60, or $50 with a friend

Location: Genuine Joe Coffeehouse - 2001 W Anderson Ln, 78757

RSVP to: Michele@AustinTalkTherapy.com or call 512.569.2500

10 Things I Learned on Set this Weekend

(That's me with the red sweater and cute little hat.)

1) There are really drunk frat boys wandering the city streets at 5am on a Saturday morning. And not only are they drunk, it's 30 degrees outside and they're wearing T-shirts. Stupid, stupid drunk college boys.

2) Choreographing prop cars, actors and extras on city streets is like being six again and playing with my legos and matchbox cars.

3) When actors are fighting in the streets in their beat up Thunderbirds and bright purple Cadillacs, acting super tough, random bystanders who don't see the crew around the corner get REALLY nervous.

4) Boys who appear rough and tumble on the outside are sugary sweet on the inside. Gary Grizzle, Mark, Jeremiah, Sonny, Curtis, Gordon and RJ I'm talking to you.

5) How to cram four people into a car (1 Actor and 3 Crew) and hide the three crew from the shot that the camera in the adjacent car is getting.

6) How to talk on two different cell phones at the same time to two different prop cars (one in front and one in back), while you're in the third (in the middle) and choreograph all three driving through the city streets, while the actors are in character, sound is rolling and random pedestrians are freaking out because you're "gang boys" keep getting out of the car to pick fights and whistle at the ladies on the sidewalks.

7) That Sonny and RJ should have their own little "Gang Boy" TV show where we just follow them around and they improv endlessly. You get lots of great one-liners. "Your whole family's made of useless".

8) According to Sonny when he worked with Mike Judge on Idiocracy, Mike Judge shoots everything from 40 different angles. Whoa. That's just totally exhausting to even think about.

9) Marshall is in love with Chipotle burritos.

10) When you have a kick ass producer (Ms. Langee), crew and cast to make movies with, you get good footage, great performances and have the best time in the whole wide world making the magic happen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend #2 is a Go

Tomorrow morning, 5:30am starts weekend #2 out of 3 for Ninja James and the Beast Boy. This is a jam packed weekend full of fights, cars hitting characters, driving through the streets, gang boys ... I'm delaying my bed time for some weirdo reason. I need to go to bed. I should go to bed. I must go to bed ... but I can't. Me and Pork Chop are cold chillin' on the couch pouring through a feature screenplay that I want to have ready, ready, ready to go by January. Thinking I might put together a read through for feedback in December. In time to take home for the holidays. So much I want to do. SO MUCH. Ok, for real, I'm going to bed. I have a busy, busy, busy day tomorrow. I get to hang out with thugs, superheros and nerdy boys. Sweet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mr. Smith on the Run - Ninja James

A quick still that David Overturf took. Mr. Smith plows through a group of kiddos from Ninja James and the Beast Boy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rock N Rolla Research

Roger and I skipped out of the office late this afternoon to go catch Rock N Rolla. I considered it research as I continue to storyboard for this weekend's shoot. We're doing the fight sequence, all the cars at the stoplight and a few driving shots. I got lots of fun ideas to use. And then tonight I half heartedly watched Transporter 2 ... again for driving shots ideas.

I totally dug Rock N Rolla. About the first twenty minutes I was lost, confused, wondering if I'd like it, but then as it kept going, I got suckered in. What a great cast. Tom Wilkinson in particular. I adore that man. It was a fun, rollercoaster of a movie. There's an awesome sequence with Gerard Butler, Idris Elba and two thugs beating each other up in a heist sequence. Totally badass. And hilarious. I might have to make another action film after this one to keep working at it. I'm learning a whole lot. And loving it.

Role Models (2008)

It's raunchy, dirty, trashy, laughed out loud many many times ... I've never heard so many references to sex in a 90 minute time span in my life. But wouldn't you know, it's sweet as hell. Will it change your life? Probably not. Will it win an Oscar ... nope. But does it make you want to look out for the little ones ... yep. Between Wet Hot American Summer and this, I'm a new David Wain fan.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthday Schmirthday

Tomorrow I turn 34. I've already gotten a ton of sweet notes from friends. I'm guessing Facebook has a lot to do with that. It's been nice considering I keep forgetting my own birthday. This year it's different somehow. Usually I like to do my birthday up. Big party, scavenger hunt, lots of friends ... this year it's quiet. Mark's taking the day off and we're cold chillin' at the movies. Lying low and staring at each other. We haven't done that in a long while. And with two more weekends of shooting, it'll be sometime probably. Life has been a big fat dose of busy.

34 should be good, I think. 33 was alright. Well, actually 33 was a little rough and tumble. 34 will hopefully be a bit smoother ride. It'd be nice to have some cool stuff happen too.

To Direct an Action Film or Not to Direct an Action Film

That is the question. The first weekend of Ninja James and the Beast Boy is in the "can".

Day 1
It proved to be a pretty tough first day. I didn't tell a soul, but I was close to tears within the first two hours. But I gathered myself, sucked it up and put on the brave director face. That's what a director does. Pretends to have their shit together. The first half of the day was a bit of a blur. Between the lack of sleep, time restraints, packing way too much into the first day (I know, I know ... I should practice what I preach) and not getting the coverage I wanted, I was feeling a little "eh". That's not to say that I didn't get kick ass performances and have a beyond amazing crew that worked like a friggin' machine. I just was letting myself down a little. That happens, I guess. It takes the first day to find your feet. Or at least mine. So once I found my little Converse sneakers hitting ground, I set off running. The second half of the day we cranked it out. Everyone worked their little butts off and we got some great footage.

Day 2
Back at Will Branch's house it was like reliving jumping off bridges but with a slightly different crew and new actors. But the green walls and furniture from the Nelson family were still there. Well preserved. This time instead of a family getting over a loss, I had a grungy, tattooed guy burning questionable substances at a makeshift chem lab. The set looked super cool. And we hammered through the scene with speed and precision. By Day 2, I was laughing, giggling, feeling good.

From Will's house we hit the streets of Austin. Poor Curtis probably did more running in one day than I did when I ran a marathon. We got him from every angle, every whip pan, canted angle and against every cool looking building. Fun stuff. And my favorite scene so far is when he crashes through a group of school kids. Awesome.

So this week I prep for the next round of insanity. Making an action film = hard. But when you have a pretty incredible cast and crew working by your side, it makes it a lot easier. I can't tell you enough how much they kick major ass.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Eve of Ninja James

Tomorrow is Day 1. Just got home after a day of grabbing equipment, rehearsals, set decorating, costuming, losing my mind a little. But all in good spirits. 5am call. Must get sleep.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008