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June 30, 2004

Today I watched through the entire Godfather trilogy, back to back. I'd seen the first half of the second film really late one night when I was in 9th grade, but all that stuck with me were a few images of Robert DeNiro standing under distinct lighting schemes. Needless to say, I now feel rather atrophied, but it was well worth it. The first two lived up to their legend, the third to its mild disrepute (it was good, but it'd be even better if they hadn't made it).

I've gotta crash. The next Netlfix installment should be here by Saturday. In the meantime, I'm heading out in a few hours to the mostly worthless state of Oklohoma to jump off some waterfalls.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:09 AM

June 29, 2004

My favorite movies of the first six months of 2004 are, in no order save for the first one: Before Sunset, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring, Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, The Dreamers, Spider-Man 2, Kill Bill vol.2, Coffee & Cigarettes, The Saddest Music In The World, The Passion Of The Christ, Farenheit 9/11...and that makes ten. The first three will surely remain at the end of the year. The last two should share a spot. Everything else runs the risk of being replaced by a new movie from Wes Anderson.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:10 AM

June 28, 2004

Spider-Man 2 is totally...well, do I really have to say it? Honestly? Don't you know me well enough by now?

On a more subdued note, I read this terrific New Yorker article about writer's block this morning and afterwards was able to write ceaselessly for the rest of the day! Well, not really, but the article really is worth reading, and I did make a plot breathrough with this script that was personally rather satisfying.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:11 AM

June 27, 2004

I finally saw Bergman's Persona today. At this point, I still like Cries And Whispers just a little bit better, just because its pain is so instant and clear; it oppresses you heavily, immediately, whereas Persona, equally painful, cuts away at you slowly. Its highly surreal nature makes it far less accessible -- although if that were truly so, would it have the same effect? I think it's only the perception of confusion that makes it seem inacessible, while all along its working away at you, digging into your psyche.

Bergman himself compared the two (thank god I have that book to turn to after I see his films):

Today I feel that with Persona - and later in Cries And Whispers - I had gone as far as I could go. And in these two instances, when working in total freedom, I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover.

The opening six minutes of Persona, and then the reprise of that imagery halfway through the film, is some of the most stunning stream of conscious juxtaposition I've ever seen, shattering the fourth wall in way I'd only seen once before, at the end of The Last Temptation Of Christ.

But that leads me to my disappointment in seeing him use what I thought was a brilliant idea of my own. When I was writing Post two years ago, I thought that if the actual film burned, the way it does when it gets caught in a projector, at a strategic point in the plot, the effect on the audience would be truly horrifying. Well, now I know I was right -- Bergman does exactly that in Persona. I guess I can take comfort in the whole 'great minds think alike' notion and scratch that off my list of great ideas.

And to continue with McCabe & Mrs. Miller: It's the most convincing period piece I've seen this side of Barry Lyndon, but where Kubrick generally preferred to keep his camera back and create elegant and stately mise-en-scene, Altman's approach -- the style that makes this and all his films so wonderful -- is akin to finding the devil in the details, pushing past the primary action of the story to see what else is happening in this flawlessly created environment. Rather than bury the story, this roaming technique roots it in reality, suggesting that Altman's camera could be filming anything in this town and just happens to keep catching the bits and pieces that tell this story.

The featurette on the DVD, made at the time of the film's production, was pretty good, despite of the humorous period narration describing the film as an 'adventure.' Particularly interesting was the fact that the crew members kept themselves occupied with the working corn whiskey still on the set. That's a good idea that I'll try to remember for my next film.

So now these first three films are going back in the mail; should have the next ones by Wednesday. My eyes feel like they're burning.

By the way, if you pick up a ghost is born, keep in mind that the louder you listen to it, the better it gets -- especially the last twelve minutes of track number eleven.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:12 AM

June 26, 2004

I got my two weeks of Netflix off to a good start today with Duel In The Sun and McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The former, directed by King Vidor, was a great, red-blooded, melodramatic bit of Western pulp. It was pretty brutal and racy for 1946 (the Catholic Church condemned it and dubbed it 'Lust In The Dust') and would have been even more so had the female lead been played by an actual half-Cherokee fourteen year old, as the character was supposed to be, instead of the far too old and far too bourgeoisie Jennifer Jones (who happened to be producer David O'Selznick's paramour). But it was still a terrific, vibrant piece of cinema; Gregory Peck was amazing, as always, and the technicolor cinematogaphy was easily some of the best I've ever seen.

(I took a break after I watched it to write a Fahreneheit 9/11 review, which is nothing you probably haven't read about it already. That crowd wrapping around the theater last night was a good sight to see.)

Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a picture I've been wanting to see for a while; I think I heard it mentioned in the same sentence with Cormac McCarthy once, and David Gordon Green has talked about how much he loved it, and, of course, it's an Altman film, which is reason enough by itself. It popped into my head again when I read 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' a few months ago, but I decided to hold off on it until I had finished writing my own cold, depressing western (the first draft, anyway), to avoid any subconscious influence. I don't think I've ever seen a movie that's so -- well, let me hold off on that, I've about to watch it again with commentary. In the meantime, go read Ebert's very astute Great Movies review of it.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:13 AM

June 24, 2004

"You been crying."

"You ain't?"

There was a large paragraph here about this script I'm working on, but I decided to delete it. I don't need to write about it; people can just go listen to the song.

I went back and signed up for Netflix today. I have until July 7th before I get charged for anything, at which point I'll cancel it until I can afford to continue. I filled up my queue with the first fifteen movies I could think of that I've been meaning to see for ages. Factoring in the shipping time casts doubt on whether I can make it through all fifteen in less than two weeks, especially since the first three won't arrive until Saturday or Monday, but I'll do my best. I could easily pull this off if all these movies were at a theater, but spending so much time in front of my TV is going to be tough. I can't wait to finally see some of these movies, though, so it's a challenge I can't wait to take up.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:15 AM

It's been a long time since I've read something in the news that seemed to be positive, but this fits the bill. Take that, Clear Channel.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:15 AM

June 23, 2004

To follow-up my theater related post below, here's Neil LaBute talking about why he likes the stage more than film.

But back to movies. I just finished watching A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Cinema, which chronicles the role of the director, personified by the filmmakers Scorsese personally found most influential and inspirational, from the birth of cinema up until he himself started making films in the sixties. It's just under four hours long, is far too short, and was yet another reminder of how many amazing movies there are out there that I still haven't seen. The clips from Duel In The Sun particularly struck my fancy. After it was over, I went straight to Netflix, determined to finally sign up, lack of income be damned, but the site was down for maintenance.

The doc was made in 1995, which I had forgotten until Scorsese started talking about Kubrick and how he "moved to London, where he still lives and works." That brought back memories of going to my high school library and reading on-set reports from Eyes Wide Shut on the internet during lunch. By that point I had seen most of his films and was a big fan, and remember thinking how important it was that he was, at that moment, shooting a new one.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:16 AM

June 22, 2004

Just when my anticipation was waning, I find this. I keep having to pause the new Wilco album in between tracks to listen to it.

I read this wonderful quote from Truffaut today:

"I begin a film believing it will be amusing -- and along the way I notice that only sadness can save it."

That's how I always feel, and reading that circuitously lead me through various introspective thoughts about my own writing process. Like how when I see or read or hear something amazing and/or beautiful, it inspires me to work harder, and I love that. There's nothing better than seeing a great movie that leaves you feeling like you're floating, and then going home and harnessing that feeling and using it to your advantage. But I've realized that if I don't focus especially hard, my writing will be infused with that film's greatness, rather than whatever I might be able to pull up from within myself. It's not literally plaigarization, but if I look closely at certain scripts that I've written, I'll see a tone, or multiple tones, only present intermittently, that come from something else.

I've been developing my own style over the years, but when I come across something I love, I'll think "THAT'S what I need to be doing," and I instantly feel like throwing away everything I've worked towards that I can call my own.

Anyway, I've been trying really hard to stop that.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:17 AM

June 20, 2004

The day after I saw Before Sunset last week, I got an invitation for a second screening of it, this one to be preceeded immediately by Before Sunrise. It was today, and the cumulative effect of the last four hours in the theater has left me happier than I can remember being in a long time.

I'm feeling inusfficient as a writer right now because I can't think of anything else to write about it. I keep typing and deleting. I don't want to drag it down with words. That's almost all the movie is, is words, and I can't top that. I don't want to work on my script right now because it's too depressing. I feel like calling someone, just to talk.

Anyway, as you might have guessed, it's my pick for the best movie of the year.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:18 AM

Read about Bjork's new album.

I trust her bones.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:19 AM

June 19, 2004

The annoying scandal revolving around the (not so) new Nicole Kidman film makes me slightly worried that we'll have to wait even longer to see it. I don't think anyone I've mentioned it to has even heard of it, but the trailer I saw at the New Line luncheon last September suggested that it might be one of the most original movies to come along in a long time; having just seen that Jean-Claude Carriere (of various Luis Bunuel classics) is behind the script, I'm even more excited about it.

There've been a lot of plays in the area that I've wanted to see lately -- Topdog/Underdog, The Mercy Seat -- but haven't; live theater is something I generally don't feel the urge to seek out, although I've often felt the urge to feel that urge. I wish it wasn't so expensive. But the local premier of Patrick Marber's Closer was this week, and it's one of those plays that I've been wanting to see, and rather than kick myself later for missing it, I decided to jump at the chance to go. It was quite good, but it also seemed very distant, and it took some time before I could relate to any of the characters (aside from Alice, the needy, screwed up girl who is the kind of character I always end up relating to). Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking about how great it would be, how much deeper it would seem, with close-ups (I'll find out if I'm right this Christmas, I suppose). I guess one of the things I don't like about plays is that you can't have quiet moments to examine people up close; no long scenes of people walking or sitting still and thinking. Of course, theater has plenty of things that movies don't have, and I guess it all comes down to the fact that film is simply my medium of choice. I can't even read a book without filming it in my head. Maybe I'll write a play.

Anyway, the story takes place in London (providing the production's only real fault, as one of the actors hadn't mastered the accent as well as his costars), and in between scenes the darkness was appropriately scored with Britpop: Radiohead, Muse, Portishead and such. The lights went up at the curtain call to the tune of Blur's Tender. I haven't listened to that song in three years, for no reason in particular, and hearing it was sort of a shock. Not because it's been three years since I've heard it, but because the last time I heard it was three years ago.

P.S. when I mentioned that the song on the new PJ Harvey album called The End was one of my favorites, I was mistaken; I miscounted track numbers, and the song I was referring to, which is my favorite, I think, is called The Desparate Kingdom Of Love.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:20 AM

June 16, 2004

I've really been slacking off on the screenwriting this past week because I've (finally) gotten around to reading Peter Biskind's Down And Dirty Pictures. I finished it earlier today. It has all the same faults as 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls;' one of the things I don't like about his writing style are the little jabs he makes (Billy Bob Thornton is particularly victimized, for no apparent reason); he'll slight a movie or a person based on his personal opinion, which frequently cheapens the journalistic integrity of the piece, and thereby the reading experience.

As before, much of the book seems based on carefully sculpted hearsay, but it's an expose, so what are you going to do? It's still a great read -- unputdownable, as Nick described after he read it last month -- and for someone in my position, I might call it essential. Unlike the seventies, I've been around for the era this volume covers, which technically is still progressing. My absorption with the independent world began shortly before Pulp Fiction was released; I didn't begin to follow the industry until the very end of the nineties; and even up to last year, I was trying to piece together how Focus evolved from October and USA. Biskind in fills in all the blanks in great detail, leaving me with the odd feeling that I'd taken a trip down memory lane from someone else's perspective.

Particularly satisfying was finding out exactly what happened to Stephen Soderbergh after sex, lies and videtope won the Palme D'Or, which is where his classic and out-of print making-of journal (Yen would concur with me on how vital and inspiring a read that is, if you can find it) leaves off. Reminder to myself: read this soon.

Miramax and Sundance are, of course, the two poles upon which the axis of 'Down And Dirty Pictures' turns, with the October/USA/Focus entity constantly floating between them. The Weinsteins are portrayed as monsters, as you'd probably expect, but they get their dues; a lot of people despise them with good reason, but there's no denying the good they've done as well. I stopped being a Miramax fan years ago, and although a few of the horror stories were news to me, it didn't really change my opinion of them, or make me like them and their company any more or less. Well, that's not completely true; just this morning, I watched the trailer for Marc Forster's unfortunately retitled Finding Neverland, and I felt like I had a new degree of insight as to what's been going on in the two years since the film finished production. It's a story full of potentially disturbing subject matter, but you'd never know that from the trailer, and, if Harvey Scissorhands did any work on it, you might not know it from the finished film, either.

Back to the book. Forget the Weinsteins and the hole they're constantly digging themsleves out of, Robert Redford is the one who gets bludgeoned. Biskind has nothing nice to say about Sundance. He paints a picture of a hopelessly timid, increasingly corporate mess, supported by a micromanaging idealist. Aside from the festival, the entire institute seems to be a failure.

Of course, the Weinsteins reluctantly agreed to be interviewed for the book; Redford, who holds a longstanding grudge against Biskind, refused, and no one else has apparently had any interest in countering all the negative comments. And now, more than ever, I'm pretty sure this has something to do with Primer winning the Grand Prize this past January. Geoff Gilmore says it would have been accepted to the festival even if an agent hadn't recommended it to him; yeah, and they rejected George Washington? Whatever.

From the perspective of an independent filmmaker: the book makes the whole game seem incredibly hopeless (at least financially, but that's because it focuses on the business far more than the art, which I can't really fault it for). It presents an industry that doesn't want to call itself an industry, and one that is as increasingly hard to survive in as it is to get into. Personally, I'd ask whither the tiny, artsy boutiques like Thousand Words, Lot 47, ThinkFilm and InDigent? Are they dirt free, ineffective? I suppose they came into the game too late to warrant inclusion. The book is certianly a biased primer, but it's also an effective one, and for that reason I recommend it; maybe it'll save a few people the trouble of getting into something they don't have the determination to do. At the very least, I'd recommmend reading the postscript at the end, which sums everything up where the independent scene is now, and which reads like a warning, if not an outright deterrent.

It didn't work on me.

And now back to that script.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 15, 2004

I've never watched a reality show, but I was willing to break that habit to catch our friend Mae Moreno's small screen debut in 'Next Action Star.' I guess I got the nights or the time mixed up, though, because I missed it. Maybe I'll catch the next epsiode. Or maybe not; the reviews have been terrible, even for reality TV, and seeing as how the show was shot over a year ago, there's not much suspense anymore as to whether or not she wins.

Mae and I both share credits in, among other things, the work of another Dallas-to-LA migrant, Ramzi Abed, who has since started his own blog in which he recently detailed the first major day of shooting on his underground HD feature, Black Dahlia. When will the second day of shooting occur? Who knows, but at least he's getting it off the ground...

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 14, 2004

You're too much for me, Ennis, you son of a whore-son bitch. I wish I knew how to quit you.

I read Anne Proulx's 'Brokeback Mountain' last night. It's a sparse story, cold and sad, set in the sixties and the decades afterwards but feeling like something lost in time. Its a love story, and it deals heavily in intolerance, but both issues are sketched with negative space, never mentioned explicitly.

There's sex in it too; the two cowboys scarcely know how to express their feelings otherwise, at least at first. There's been some controversy over reports that Ang Lee, who is currently directing the film version with Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger, from an adaptation by Larry McMurtry, has chosen to take a non gratuitous approach to the love scenes; chickening out, in other words. There's a point there, except that this isn't a mainstream movie we're talking about; this isn't about audiences wanting Jennifer Aniston to end up with the gay guy. I'd wager that if a consummate artist like Lee makes a choice to be nonexplicit, then it's a tasteful one, for the good of the film, and the finished product will be no less honest or powerful because of it. And if the page of screenplay that's surfaced online, containing the first sex scene between the characters and written almost verbatim from the tex in the book, is accurate, then it's all a moot point anyway: Lee's going to merely be staying true to the source material, which is entirely appropriate. I have confidence that Lee will make an amazing film out of this (as opposed to the hope, not quite met, that I had for Hulk), and that it might even break down some barriers; I hope people can think outside of the box and trust him to make a great movie without worrying about whether the two movie stars will get it on.

Although if they do, it'll be pretty sexy. Gyllenhall and Ledger as gay cowboys? Come on, don't tell that doesn't sound attractive.
Now I'm going to take this opportunity to take the high road and not make the obvious South Park reference.

Also last night, I spent some time trying to find a store that had a copy of Linklater's Before Sunrise, which I'd never seen, so that I could spend the next twelve hours forming some approximation of the attachment my friends who have seen it feel to it. No one had it, although I only went to three retail locations and refused to step foot into Blockbuster.

So I went ahead and watched the sequel, Before Sunset, this morning, and I loved it. Truly loved it. It felt like a conversation I want to have with someone. That I've wanted to have many times before, and that I'll probably still want to have in ten years. It's been a long time since I felt that a movie was stealing words from my head before I could say them myself.

The entire movie is a real-time conversation, but there's one physical moment that Julie Delpy has, a gesture she makes, that almost made me break down on cue.

I'll have to wait until I see the first film, which I imagine will now hold no ambiguity for me, before I write my review. Hopefully I can dig up a copy.

I had another moment recently where I felt intrinsically linked to some piece of art; the night of the screening, or morning actually, since I didn't get home until almost six, I was laying in bed and drifting off to Morrissey's new album. The best song, Come Back To Camden, was playing, and suddenly I got that feeling, the one I used to have all the time before my body isolated my romantic streak and started to form a cynical shell around it, that this song was about me. I was in a particular mood, and it just hit me, and maybe that's what left me so open to Before Sunrise. Or maybe, and more likely, it's just because it (the movie) is so well made, in all regards. That's what great art does, and that it can do that is what makes art so great.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:09 AM

June 13, 2004

Baadasssss was as great as I had hoped it would be. I felt a few feet higher when I left the theater; it made me feel really proud of being independent. Granted, I'm not making anything that's culturally and socially important, but it still inspired a little bit of a revolutionary spirit in me, and considering where we are in our careers at this point, where there's no turning back, I think that's a pretty important and necessary thing to feel.

It's also the best looking HD movie I've seen yet (at least until its producer's new film comes out at the end of the summer). It's not riddled with CGI (a la Lucas) or semi-sloppy photography (a la Rodriguez) that offer tell-tale video artifacts when transferred to film (I'm not counting the presence of actual cheesy video effects, since they were an artistic decision).

I think Sony's HDW-F900 is still the 24p camera of choice, but it seems that Panavision and Sony are now teaming up to raise the bar. I can't wait to see what sort of imaging power this thing has, what with the CCD being the same size as 35mm frame. Also, the mag-style VTR is a nice aesthetic touch.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 12, 2004

Well, that all went down quite nicely last night. I wasn't nervous at all until the movie had started and I went down from the projection booth and sat in the back of the theater; it was then that, on its own accord, my heartbeat jumped up to quadruple time. The best part ot the evening was James's statement in his opening speech -- something along the lines of "to like this movie, you need to have an IQ that's at least higher than that of our commander in chief." Actually, that wasn't the best part, but it was still awesome.

Watching it and listening to the audience's reactions, I felt reassured that this is a movie that people might pay to see and feel that they've got their money's worth. Honestly, it felt like a real movie and not something that we'd made, which made the fact that we did make it all the more satisfying. People really seemed to like it. Of course, although I didn't know most of the people who were there, I think it was still a largely biased audience, but at the same time, I don't think anyone really knew what to expect from it either, including the people who worked on it.

But thanks to everyone who came out for doing so; to the cast and crew members who couldn't make it, we missed you, and you'd have been proud to see your great work get such a great response.

My bar tab at the after party: 21 dollars. I couldn't drive home, but it wasn't my fault.

Although we generally eschewed any press for this screening, we decided to let The Dallas Voice, our local Gay and Lesbian newspaper which has done a few articles on Yen in the past, mention it in their 'Things To Do' column. We were surprised when we opened it up yesterday to find almost a full page devoted to it, complete with what I guess is the first review of the movie. It's quite positive, but poorly written (they cribbed the plot description straight from the website) and rife with spoilers and some odd insinuations, and since it's not online, I have an excuse not to link to it. But still, that's our first bit of printed press (but definitely not the last, and I know that for a fact).

And now, I'm off to see Baadaasssss.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 10, 2004

So if you're in Dallas tomorrow night and you want to go see a movie and you think you might want to see Deadroom but are torn between that and all the other new releases, here's a handy breakdown of your options.

1. The Chronicles Of Riddick. I know, I know, Pitch Black was awesome, but believe me, you're better off seeing Deadroom. I saw Pitch Black while we were shooting Lullaby and have a sentimental fondness for it, and really wanted this to be good, but it ain't.

2. Garfield. What?

3. Saved. Finally going into wide release. It's great, but seeing it instead of Deadroom is kinda like playing it safe, and who wants to be safe? See it on Saturday instead. Plus, if you want Christian themes, James' room has got you covered.

4. Napoleon Dynamite. Actually, I don't know if this opens in Dallas tomorrow, but if it does, consider: would you rather see a $200,000 indie film based on a short film that premiered at the Deep Ellum Film Festival, or an under-$20,000 indie film made by filmmakers consistently ignored by the Deep Ellum Film Festival? I think the answer is clear. See it on Saturday, after Saved.

5. The Stepford Wives. I haven't seen this, and am in no hurry to do so. See Deadroom instead, in which there are at least two actresses and one actor who might be the next Nicole Kidman.

6. Baadasssss. I keep missing the screenings of this one too, but frankly, I think it looks awesome, and for all I know, it's probably better than Deadroom. So if you decided to go see Baadasssss instead of our movie, I wouldn't hold it against you. In fact, if our screening was at a movie theater showing Baadasssss rather than a museum, I'd probably join you.

Me, I'm seeing the re-release of the original Gojira tomorrow. Top that, sucka.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 8, 2004

I walked through the rain this morning to get the new PJ Harvey album; I've listened to it about three times so far, and I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon. There's a sole dedication in the liner notes that says 'The End' for Vincent Gallo. So far, that particular song is one of my favorites.

My friend Mateo Zeske (2nd AD on 'Deadroom') sponsored my participation in a photographic scavenger hunt he was holding for a friend's birthday party this past Saturday; he called me on Friday night and berated me for not participating, so I spent the evening taking pictures that might somehow fit the categories he'd come up with (stuff like Someone You've Made Out With, Nude With Inanimate Object, Compassion, Bodily Fluid, etc).

Still photography -- the non-digital kind -- is something I've been meaning to learn more about for ages. As it was, I was guessing on all the exposures, based on what I know about cinematography; most of them turned out okay. I've put the majority of them online, but before I provide the link, a few disclaimers: No animals were harmed in the taking of these photos; I just have a knack for finding dead things. Also, no digital alteration was done, except to correct the black levels in three of the darker pictures. Also, I will never again use 1 hour processing because they just screw everything up, but until then I'm just saying that the streaks in the pictures are supposed to be there (and they do kinda look cool in some of them). Maybe I'll take some classes and then build a dark room in my closet so I can have total control. Unfortunately, I don't actually have a closet.

Anyway, here they are.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

I think I'm in love. Head over to AICN to see the first image from Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, which feels like its been in development for almost a decade now, and which, based purely on the title alone, will be one of the greatest movies ever. And the photo certainly helps.

Last minute work has been resumed on the opening shot of my room. Below, on the top, is the opening shot as it is right now. Below that is the entirely CGI version, in its current incarnation.

The CGI version is obviously sharper, as it should be, since it's an actual environment and not just a video image of one. I put some Photoshop filters and grain on this screen grab to approximate how it might eventually look; I think I'll probably have to degrade it to get it to match the rest of the miniDV footage. My original plan was to dolly into the room from the right, but now I think I'm going to start in close at the table and pull out. My brother's finishing up the Layton model right now, and then it'll be time to start rendering...at the rate of about ten minutes per frame. The shot is about eight seconds long, and if you do some quick calculations, you'll realize, as I have, that it probably won't be done in time for the screening on Friday.

I still don't have the knack for modelling anything that's not made up of basic gemoetry -- my best creation yet is an Ed Wood style UFO. I can animate the stuff, though, so I think I might take that model of the room and use it to create some shots specifically for the trailer.

I really sympathize with George Lucas when I'm thinking about the possibilities of CGI; hopefully, though, I'll still have some iota of restraint in twenty years. On that note, I can't wait to see THX-1138 on the big screen; the new trailer is awesome, except for that awful robot factory, and the box for the subsequent DVD release is quite becoming as well. I've only seen the film on VHS, and that was ages ago, but if I remember correctly, it's beautifully experimental. I love all that white, and I imagine seeing it in 2:35:1 will make quite a difference.

That robot factory, by the way, is still not as bad as the additions to the original Star Wars trilogy. But I guess it's pointless to protest anymore; the most one could do is just not buy them.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 7, 2004

I was out biking this evening and wondering if there any snakes in the wooded riverside I was riding alongside. At that moment, I came across a huge cottonmouth, lying fully extended at the edge of the path, waiting patiently for a chance to cross. That's about all there is to that anecdote. Shortly thereafter, I returned home to watch some movies. James lent me his Netflixed copy of 'I Am Cuba,' so that I could finally know what PTA was talking about when describing how he ripped it off for the pool scene in 'Boogie Nights.' It blew my mind -- I'd hold it up next to 'Battleship Potemkin' as grand examples of brilliantly innovative political filmmaking ( I need to see 'Triumph Of The Will' now), although Kalatozov's film lacks the subtetly of Eisenstein's. The last segment is so heavy with propaganda that it borders on self-parody, but the chapters that come before it (particularly the first and third), while still very pointed, are self-involved enough that they work as personal, human stories, rather than commercials for Castro's revolution. The filmmaking used to tell these stories is breathtaking; everything's shot with an extremely wide lens, and nearly every shot seems to last the maximum length of the magazine. There's the famous pool that PTA mentioned, and then the one that moves out the window and over the parade -- it's the kind of shot that, even with all the technology available today, would seem impossible. I couldn't believe my eyes when it (that shot) occurred; I was wondering how far it would go, and I imagined how amazing it would be if it went as far as it looked like it might go, and then I realized that it was going that far, and by then I was experiencing one of those spine tingling, elevated sensations that is one of those incommunicable reasons for my love of all cinema.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 4, 2004

I haven't managed to watch the Farenheit 9/11 trailer yet -- apparently, its web presence is still rather spotty, but I imagine Apple will have a better QT version on their site soon. In the meantime, in anticipation of its release three weeks from today, here are a few choice links I've recently been made aware of, by people on both sides of the political spectrum, the spirit of which are somewhat attuned to Moore's approach. Check out this, this, and, if those are too subtle for you, this one too.

UPDATE: Saw the trailer. That's some good marketing; it made me feel proud and upstanding -- like, yeah! We're making a stand! Then I felt a little guilty for letting a manipulative trailer get to me so quickly. All of Moore's usual (questionable) tactics seem to present and accounted for, but that doesn't mean the movie doesn't look fantastic and important, or that I won't be there to buy my ticket for the first show on opening day, even if I've already seen it in a press screening.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:23 AM

Shortly after that early morning Harry Potter screening the day before yesterday, Curtis and I met up with Nick and Kara and we headed out for another camping trip, in spite of the many people warning us that a tornado-riddled storm was heading our way. It hit shortly after we set up our tent, and so we go to fall asleep to the beautiful sounds of a torrential downpour and heavy illumination from the interrupted bursts of lightining. In the morning we rented a canoe and set out over a lake; an hour in, for reasons we never quite figured out, we tipped over and almost lost our boat. So that was a lot of fun. Later we went rock climbing, which I actually used to be somewhat adept at, leading me to believe that I could scale some precipices without rope or harness. Which I did, although I had several moments of severe doubt, all at very high and precarious points. I was thinking about how my Eagle Scout brother, a died in the wool outdoorsman, would be terribly unimpressed by this so-called adventure, but consider it on a curve: for a bunch of urban vegetarian art fags to camp in a thunderstorm and capsize a boat and climb sheer cliffs is pretty impressive. Isn't it?

After the rock climbing, Curtis and I hightailed it back to Dallas to meet up with Yen and James for a technical test for our screening next week. The great news: it looks really good. Something must have been wrong with the projection we did at the Magnolia last month, because we were all quite pleased with how it looked and were relieved that we wouldn't have to apologize to peopleabout the image quality. The slightly less great news is that the museum's auditorium doesn't have the best accoustics; there's a tad bit too much echo. But I guess if it was good enough for Matthew Barney, then it's good enough for me.

I keep forgetting about the screening, actually, and I don't think I've posted the details here yet; so here's the e-mail invite we sent out:


Hello friends,

Without further ado, you are all cordially invited to the first public screening of the feature motion picture Deadroom on June 11 (the 5 month anniversary of our first day of principal photography) at 9:30pm.

Make no misgivings, this is an art film. Thus, fittingly, the screening will occur at the Dallas Museum Of Art, in the Horchow Auditorium.

9:30 PM

This is not an official premiere, nor is it a gala event of any sort (feel free to dress down). Rather, the screening is being conducted for two reasons: to let the cast and crew see what they worked so hard on, and for us, the producers, to see what an objective audience thinks of the film. Consider it a test screening of sorts. What will it look like on a big screen? How will it sound? Will people fall laugh, cry, fall asleep? That's what we want to find out, and that's what we need your help in determining.

Thus: feel free to pass on this invitation to anyone who you feel may be interested. We've got 300 seats to fill. Worried about ticket prices? Never fear, the event is free (although donations to our sponsor, the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, will be accepted at the door). Need more information on the film? Visit our website, www.deadroommovie.com.

Will it be worth your while? We can guarantee only this: this is an independent film different from any you've seen before. Whether that's good or bad...well, that's up to you to decide.

RSVP if you like, or simply show up. We hope to see you there!

Yen's pretty sure we'll have a packed house. We've got about 75 cast and crew members who may or may not come, and the othe 225 seats in the auditorium will be filled with objective viewers. We'll be handing out comment cards to those lucky individuals, although their comments will likely hold no sway over the film itself. As James has said many times, if people don't like it, it's probably because they're just ignorant.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:00 AM

June 2, 2004

All the lights just came on, after a six hour blackout. It was almost frightening to hear, after getting used to a silence so heavy and complete that it started to sound like something in its own right. I'd quickly become used to it, and to the darkness that was equally enveloping; reading by candelight, and knowing that there was little else to do than that, felt almost like a luxury, a subtle pleasure rarely affordable. Later, hearing the low hum of all my various devices come back to life was almost disappointing.

Hearing the fresh passage of air through the vents, however, was a relief, and had this blackout occurred during the day, you'd never hear me wax romantically about it.

Five hours until Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:26 AM