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January 31, 2005

I was watching The Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman recently - three brilliant films, of course, but rather than talk about the films themselves, I want to call attention to the menus on the Criterion edition DVD, which are works of art themselves. Each features one of Bergman's flawless compositions as the background: a close-up on the faces of two of the lead characters in each film (the one exception -Winter Light - is composed slightly differently, but no less evocatively), faces unequivocal in pensive misery, weariness and (as is the case with all faces) mystery.

What makes these menus exceptional, however, is that they are not still images; the faces tremble, lips purse, eyelids flutter, faint breathing is perceptible. What Criterion seems to have done is taken four or five seconds of footage from the films (and indeed, it couldn't be more than that) and looped them. Furthermore (as far as I can tell) the segmented shot plays once forward, then once more in reverse, creating a seamless loop. This results in what is essentially a motion picture functioning as a still photograph; allowing the contemplation that affordable by the latter simultaneously with the dynamism inherent to the former. A perfect piece of media, unto itself.

I've given a lot of thought to the contextual properties of images. It is an almost inarguable fact, I think, that a perfectly composed shot placed at the right point in a motion picture will always lose some, if not most, of its aesthetic value to the greater good of the narrative. Whereas taken by itself, that same shot can be beautiful, powerful when existing to its own end. On the extreme side of things, this is why trailers are generally packed with a montage of the best images a film has to offer; mostly separated from the narrative, they call more attention to themselves, and in doing so make the film seem more impressive (while in the film itself, those same shots will pass unnoticed - unless the film is bad, in which case it becomes nothing more than a drawn out checklist of intermittently pleasant images). Likewise, compositions that otherwise might not be as immediately memorable may become moreso in the context of the narrative, although if the director is a good one, every image will be outstanding, no matter how simple.

That is what these Bergman compositions are: simple, and oustanding. They tell entire stories, chronicle, and explore the depths of, relationships. A still image of these compositions functions perfectly well a window into its own particular moment, but letting them exist in a (simulated) state of natural motion, as these DVDs do, cathartically releases (or, depending on your point of view, brings about) a certain tension in those relationships. As with any image, the longer one stares at them (and they are hypnotic), the more one begins to intuit, to impart, to acknowledge the reflective properties of the composition; but in these three cases, the narrative aspects of the image are far more tangible.

All of this is sort of the progenesis behind the conception of a new ongoing project which, predictably, would be based entirely on the long term narrative qualities of the human face (and possibly other subjects) in a state of natural stasis. I may or may not follow up on the idea - time is an issue at the moment- but it's something that's growing more and more appealing to me, the more I think about it. Just imagine the possibilities of a gallery exhibition of photography in which each photo is in subtle, constant motion! I may do a few examples on miniDV, although this is something I'd much rather do in a higher resolution.

I know I said this would be a post about Bergman, but I guess I lied. I can, however, recommend watching all three films in The Trilogy, which are all as good as - or far better than - the menus on the DVD suggest. Films about faith are tricky, but it's a trickiness Bergman completely understands - but that's a topic for another post another day.

Posted by David Lowery at 6:49 PM

January 30, 2005

My number of waking moments have been increasing since two days ago, when my brother bought a French Press. We've got fairly snobbish taste when it comes to coffee (not as much as our uncle John -- he actually roasts his own beans, whereas we just buy them), but we've long put up with a standard coffee maker, which we overwork about as much as we do our computers. But it's a thing of the past now. The unbelievably rich flavor this press provides is equal only to the amount of concentrated caffeine compressed into each fluid ounce. After two cups or so, I feel as if I'm stealing time from somewhere.

As a result of the extra stimulation to my brain, my usual level of procrastination has dropped temporarily. I've been working on putting together an illustration portfolio (from a painting in which that eyeball above is excerpted) for an application for a job I'm pretty sure I won't get; but I haven't drawn this much in ages, and it's always good to push those muscles. I've also been writing essays, writing about essays, managing a few words of prose here and there (a short story about an actress) and doing a rather extravagant amount of website work, both for this site and for someone else who I was honored to be asked to help. More on those later (although the updates to this site are already in effect, at least in part). And also working in bits and pieces on this Deadroom trailer, which will premiere next month on the SXSW site. If I hadn't stopped to watch some movies, I probably would have managed a few shots on the animated short as well.

Bergman-related post coming up next time. In the meantime, some zombies await my attention.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:42 AM | Comments (2)

January 26, 2005

While mixing sound the other day, Yen found the quite lovely French site for Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs. Judging from the trailer, the movie looks like a real work of art. Which it may well be. I have a feeling, though, that what the trailer suggests might be more substantial than the movie itself, especially since it's cut to Michael Nyman's score for Winterbottom's Wonderland, which adds credence by association and has all sorts of evocative qualities of its own. Advance word from the various festivals from Cannes to Sundance hasn't been all that positive, but I'll always give Winterbottom the benefit of the doubt.

I was on my way to the library the day before yesterday and listening to the classical music station, and John Williams' Raiders March came on. I hadn't heard that theme in a long time, and it thrilled me to no end. It made the entire day great. Driving really hasn't been as much fun since then.

James and I are in the last quarter of our screenplay. Without looking at the ten pages we wrote yesterday, I have this feeling that some approximation of profundity was achieved in them, but that's probably just wishful thinking. We did achieve a level of abstraction at a few points that will leave people scratching their heads, if not just giving up on the movie altogether, but that's never the type of material that inspires mass deletions on my part.

We received another morale boosting endorsement regarding Deadroom yesterday, from someone (who will remain anonymous) who called it 'spectacularly produced and directed...beautiful and never stagnant.' That was sure great to hear. One of the programmers at the Sundance Channel, meanwhile, was kind enough to offer a bit of feedback on it as well, calling it 'accomplished' but 'claustrophobic.' That's more along the lines of how I'd expect people to react to it. But hey, spectacular works too.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:14 PM

I watched À Bout De Souffle last night, of which I remembered only bits and pieces from my initial viewing ten (oh my god, ten) years ago, and also Une Femme Est Une Femme, which I almost feel like calling my second favorite Godard film now, of the ones I've seen (my favorite being Vivre Sa Vie). Its prize at the Berlin Film Festival cited the film's 'impertinence' as a factor in the award; I could hardly think of a better word to describe it, except for 'vivacious,' 'sensuous,' 'intoxiating,' 'ridiculous' and 'so-vibrant-it-made-me-want-to-plunge-my-head-through-the-screen.'

And I can think of one or two people who might roll their eyes when I say this, but twenty minutes into the film, I couldn't stop thinking about how much it reminded me of Kill Bill (I wish I could say it was the other way around, but hey, better late than never), a comparison Tarantino would surely love but which Godard might shudder at. Neveretheless, and scale notwithstanding, the similarities seemed obvious: Godard referenced, replicated, deconstructed the stylistic traits of both entire genres and individual films, from Singin' In The Rain to Pillow Talk, to accentuate his slightly off-color romantic comedy, just as Tarantino pillaged a variety of sources to spin his revenge tale.

The similarities began to fade when it became clear that Godard did not take his story quite as seriously as Tarantino did his. At a certain point, Godard starts referencing himself as much as the other films, and in the end, I think the entire purpose of Une Femme Est Une Femme is the gross sum of those references, and the manner in which they're utilized, disected, turned on their head, or simply honored; Anna Karina's wink to the camera at the very end is far more important to the film than her character's narrative resolution. On the other hand, the cliches drop from Kill Bill with a telling rapidity as the story nears its conclusion, and Tarantino never quite references himself (aside from certain cigarette ads in the background, trunk-cam shots and the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson). His film picks up weight, for better or for worse, whereas Godard's is practically a dirigible. Again, for better or worse, depending on your point of view.

My point of view, obviously, casts both filmmakers in an immensely favorable light. The stories for both films -- a stripper who wants to have a baby, an assassin seeking revenge for her child's murder -- are substantial enough to warrant serious and realistic, non-referential approaches, but then Une Femme Est Une Femme wouldn't be a Godard film and Kill Bill wouldn't be a Tarantino film, and that, in my opinion, would be a loss.

Take these comments with a grain of salt: I'm too much of a Godardian initiate to discourse upon his work with anything more than a fleeting fraction of a notion of authority. I do know, though, that my theory can be at least partially qualified by the fact that both of these films I've discussed can be viewed as works of adoration made by filmmakers obsessed with their leading actresses.

And I'm sure I'll be joining that club some day...

Posted by David Lowery at 3:16 AM | Comments (2)

January 24, 2005

We've spent the last two days mixing, and while the nails aren't completely driven through this particular coffin, the end is within sight. We're going back to the studio tomorrow to lay the mix back to the master digiBeta copy we've already made, and then Brad wants us to sit on it for a week or so and think about whether there are any more changes we need to make before we sign off on everything for the last time and ship it off to SXSW and make new DVDs and all that jazz.

So anyway, we basically went through the entire film and practiced the arts of subtlety and finesse (and, when necessary, synchronization -- and, for one single line, ADR). James provided a live update while we were mixing, and as he mentioned there, the improvements this 'quieter' mix has made to the picture are extraordinary. In particular, the way his segment pays off now is exponentially better, and has an incredibly unnerving Irreversible-style sonic quality to it. Why did we wait until now to do all of this? This is what the movie was always meant to be like.

Brad Dale rules. I can't wait to be able to pay him on our next film.

As a final note for the evening, a word of advice: if you ever have a big file that you've cut together in Final Cut Pro and you plan on taking it to another system on an external hard drive, make sure that you know where the render files are first -- and if you do know where they are, double check and make sure that they are in fact there. It'll save you a lot of trouble.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:01 AM

January 21, 2005

Oh my god. It's more beautiful than I ever imagined.

My own little stop motion effort is coming along nicely, although I've had to put off work on it this week so as to finish Deadroom. It's about 36 seconds long at this point. I had a breakthrough with it the other night when I was watching Alphaville and Anna Karina reading love poetry therein: I'd always planned on having this film be narrated by the main character, but now I think I might have the voice-over come from an incidental female character (unfabricated at this point) -- in French. It's going to be beautiful. Not as beautiful as the film linked to above, of course, but fairly pretty all the same.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:32 PM

January 20, 2005

More jittery notes of a late-night editor who knows this is pretty much the last time he's going to have the freedom to mess around with a film:

I watched the whole thing again this evening and realized that I was wrong about the running time. I'd actually included one segment in the assembly twice, and once it was removed, the film clocked in at just under 97 minutes. It went by surprisingly fast this time. Perhaps because it was quieter? Reminder for sound mixing on Saturday: trust silence.

Viewed (for the first time) in context, the various changes we all made to our rooms do indeed improve the picture. Especially James' ending.

This damn thing might just work yet.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:12 AM

I've suddenly become aware that Cormac McCarthy's rumored new novel has a title, No Country For Old Men; that it has a release date on or around August 23rd; that Scott Rudin has already bought the movie rights; and that it's a latter day western about money, heroin...and old men.

More news here.

That makes two novels I'll be buying in hardback this year.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:47 AM

January 19, 2005

We're outputting Deadroom to DigiBeta tomorrow, and I was getting the visual elements all locked down and ready this afternoon when I noticed that the current cut is actually two minutes longer than it used to be. After all the trims and the excision (again) of the controversial dog scene, I figured we'd be down to ninety five minutes or so. I guess I was ignoring all the shots we lengthened.

Speaking of which, I went to work on my first segment last night, reworking it so that it would play better without music. I slowed the pace down, letting the opening beats play out longer. I also made one somewhat audacious cut that solved a problem I'd always had with the segment (previously masked somewhat by the now-absent score). After several hours of incredibly frustrating trial and error, it hit me all of a sudden exactly how I could fix it, and sure enough, it works. At least I think so. Response from the other guys has been mixed, but I'm not going to change it. It feels so right to me -- to the extent that I'm actually more proud of the segment now than I was before. It actually felt surprisingly good to listen to their comments, think it over, and then decide that it was still the right choice for the film.

I could be wrong. I could always be wrong, but in this case I'm trusting what I hope is an innate sense of cinematic instinct (not that I couldn't argue the logic of the cut, too) and not an extension of my ego -- that id that rages with indignation every time someone suggest I might not be making the best choice in regards to a film, even when I know I'm making a mistake. It's hard to differentiate between the two sometimes.

The latest movie to unexpectedly astonish me: Aliens Of The Deep. Or, as I call it in my review, The Life Aquatic With James Cameron.

Oh yeah, and Crispin Glover's movie is finally opening. Or rather, it's opening in Austin.

Posted by David Lowery at 9:07 PM | Comments (2)

January 17, 2005

I just got my plane tickets. One month from now I'll be enjoying (hopefully) the last night in Berlin. I still don't know exactly what's going to be happening at the Talent Campus, other than that Chris Doyle will be giving a lecture, which is enough for me at the moment. Also, on the initial itinerary they sent me, the evening program is described only as this:

Evening Programme
Parties, parties, parties and films, films, films…

On the negative side of things: this wistful NYT article -- a requiem for something that shouldn't be dying.

Posted by David Lowery at 8:14 PM

January 16, 2005

Yen gave me Takashi Miike's Gozu for Christmas, and we finally sat down to watch it last night. It was quintessential Miike (and therefore delightful), and it made me wonder I wonder: does he have severe maternal issues, or does he just like to make fun of people who do? I honestly can't tell.

But no matter how enjoyable that was, it couldn't help but pale in comparison to the other movie we watched.

It was Wong Kar Wai's 2046, of course. I know I said a few months ago that we were going to be patient and wait until we could watch it on the big screen. But that was before a high quality Hong Kong DVD, with a good transfer and sound mix, was released. With no US distribution in sight, how could we resist?

I think I was prepared for the worst. What I got was hypnotic, heartbreaking, exquistie, aching, beautiful...in short, I was sure this would be the film where his extreme methodology failed him, but from the years' worth of footage he's pulled an absolutely exquisite rumination on memory; particularly, memories of love, requited or otherwise (something I personally think I'm doomed to remain obsessed with).

Suffice to say, it's my new favorite Wong Kar Wai film, and also the first great movie of 2005 (or the last great film of 2004, for everyone who saw it last year).

Posted by David Lowery at 6:45 PM

January 15, 2005

I finished the first actual shot for the stop-motion film late last night -- which still doesn't have a title, nor a script. Stop motion may not be the best medium for a Wong Kar Wai approach, but so far I'm really enjoying it, especially since the shot I did last night was perfect. It's the first one I ever did a test on, and I'd since done two more trial runs as I learned my limitations (and how to exceed them); the final ten second version last night was gorgeous. I hope I don't run out of time to work on this thing. And I hope that I haven't run myself into a corner before even starting by choosing to make a film about the most boring visual task in the world: writing.

Concerning writing and filmmaking, and also music: this wonderful new interview with Jean Luc Godard. Via GreenCine.

The New York Times has printed a delightful persuasion piece to discourage all of the people who only think they want to make movies from getting too far into the process -- thus leaving more room for those of us that do. Hooray!

Clay Liford gave me a call yesterday, just to catch up, and we ended up talking for quite a while about filmmaking and Asian horror films and stuff like that. He told me he's heading down to Austin this weekend to hang out with his friend who's an animator on Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, of which he's already seen some a little bit of the rough cut, and read the script (which he says isn't too different from the Charlie Kaufman version -- which isn't too hard to find online, by the way). He left me with the impression that it's going to be a great film; an impression I was already under, but now it's somewhat substantiated. The prospects of another brilliant Linklater effort, so soon after the last one, are tremendously exciting. And I hear the trailer will be out by the end of January...

Posted by David Lowery at 6:24 PM | Comments (4)

January 14, 2005

The rumors are true: the buzz amongst online cinephiles at the moment is the Conversation. Read the opening manifesto here. Then read the rest of it. Then try not to get too caught up in the discussion(s), as I've been all afternoon.

I'm now going to go off and try to pretend that measuring makeshift dolly track in preparation for tonight's stop-motion work is a vastly more interesting pasttime then defending Spiderman 2 alongside The Brown Bunny.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:49 PM

A melange of marketing materials...

E-mails concerning advertising have been flying fast. Neu's poster design is staying on the website, but we decided we also needed something with a more human look to get people to buy tickets to this thing. Yen and I have been coming up with dozens of rough drafts and many variants on the same themes as we work towards a design for a new one sheet (and also postcards and a series of 11x17 mini-posters). We're pretty close to a really gorgeous final version, which, come March, will be plastered throughout the streets of Austin.

And now, almost one year after beginning it, to finish cutting a new trailer...

Posted by David Lowery at 1:58 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2005

While watching the various retrospectives in NY, I noticed a few other repeat customers who were attending the same films I was, which reminded me of Cinemania, a documentary I'd always meant to catch about obsessive compulsive moviegoers. I watched it this afternoon, and sure enough, a few of its distinctive subjects had sat in front of me at more than one movie.

I watch a lot of movies, more than most people; and I know people who watch more movies than I do. But these folks' love of cinema is a little bit off the deep end -- and not because they do nothing but watch films day in and day out (something I wouldn't mind doing from time to time) but because they don't seem to reciprocate in any way. It is true that watching movies can enrich your life and let you experience things vicariously you'd otherwise miss out on, but what's the point when you're merely a sponge, when there's no form of output whatsoever? All that enrichment goes to waste. But I suppose that's compulsion for you, I suppose, and as Roger Ebert said in his review, there are things far worse than movies to be obsessed with.

There was a time not too long ago when I had trouble understanding how anyone who loved movies couldn't want to be involved in making them. I overcame this when I realized that I myself didn't want to make movies solely for an audience of filmmakers.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:27 AM | Comments (5)

January 12, 2005

The film is about two minutes shorter now and considerably stronger. Why didn't we feel the need to make these changes months ago? It all seems so obvious now. Anyway, we've got our sound remix session(s) scheduled for the weekend of the 21st, after which it will be better still.

For marketing/saturation purposes, James has set up an account for Deadroom at MySpace.com. So, um...check it out? Join it?

Posted by David Lowery at 2:00 PM

Yen gave me a Netflix subscription for my birthday, and I immediately picked up right where I left off a few months ago, with the films of John Cassavetes. I was going to withhold commenting on them for the time being, but I just finished watching The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie and just had to express how utterly riveting I found it. It's the first Cassavetes film I've out and out loved from the first frame to the last (and that includes the striking end-credit sequence). I have this suspicion that its flawlessness was due to its unfettered focus on masculinity -- that perhaps Cassavetes, as well as he might have understood women, knew far better what it meant to be a man. Interestingly, of the films I've seen so far in the Criterion box set (and I've only got one more to go), it's the odd one out. It's reconizable as one of his films, certainly, but it's also the one that's the least unmistakably so.

Nick and James came over today to do a little bit of Deadroom tinkering with me. They brought with them a few bottles of wine. Kara came over a little while later to, and then Daniel showed up to discuss a few of the changes to the score we've been thinking about. The glasses stayed full throughout the afternoon, into the evening. As much as we (to varying degrees) don't think Sideways is quite as good as most critics do (Jonathan Rosenbaum delves into this phenomenon quite lucidly right here), I think its romanticism of a good bottle of vino probably rubbed off on us a little bit. Make that a lot.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 9, 2005

Today, January 9th, marks the one year anniversary of the start of principal photography for Deadroom (a day recorded in shorthand form in one of the short behind-the-scenes clips on the website), and what better way to celebrate it than adding some festive olive branches to the poster.

More changes will be coming to the Deadroom website in the next month or so. Things like a press page, for example (hopefully there'll be a need for one).

And 'tis the season (or week, at least) for acceptance letters, it seems, since Matt just announced that he received one as well, for his short film Flushed, from the Adelaide Short Film Festival.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:41 PM

January 8, 2005

An influx of reading and viewing material always yields interesting parallels. Here are two very interesting and vaguely dichotic notions on the literary merits of cinema, culled from my recent reading.

First is Ingmar Bergman, who introduces his collection of screenplays, Four Screenplays By Ingmar Bergman, by expressing his frustration at having to fit his films into a medium that, as he sees it, is in almost direct opposition to their final form:

Film has nothing to do with literature; the character and substance of the two art forms are usually in conflict. This probably has something to do with the receptive process of the mind. The written word is read and assimilated by a conscious act of the will in alliance with the intellect; little by little it affects the imagination and emotions. The process is different with a motion picture. When we experience a film, we consciously prime ourselves for illusion. Putting aside will and intellect, we make way for it in our imagination. The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings.

Now, Jonathan Rosenbaum, in Dead Man: BFI Modern Classics, first discusses the literary possibilities of films...

One possible reason why there's so seldom been much agreement about what consitutes a literary film is a common bias against film as an art form within the literary world, especially the Anglo-American branches of it. It's a bias inflected with a sense of unfair competition or outright usurpment...But at the same time it often regrettably rules out the very possibility of other kinds of literary films - films informed and enhanced by literary qualities that are original works rather than adaptations.

...before utilizing this quote from Kent Jones to explain how Jarmusch's Dead Man is not only literary but poetic in the most literal sense of the word:

In film criticism and cafe conversation, the word 'poetic' generally applies to films that evoke a lofty feeling of poetry (Wings Of Desire, The Piano). Dead Man is actually structured as an epic poem with rhyming figures (Blake's walk to the factory in Machine 'rhymes' with his final walk to the hut in the Indian village) and refrains (the film is punctuated by twisting journeys on horseback through rocky terrain, qoutations from the William Blake, and the crashing tremors of Neil Young's feedback electronic guitar score). Jarmusch also employs the rapid fades to black started during the train journey throughout the film. Sequences have no standardized shape, and the blackouts create an effect of pockets of time cupped from a rushing river of life.

All of this is true. Film is not a literary medium, and try as I might to make my own screenplays literary works in their own right, all those extra words will mean nothing when the screenplay is eventually translated to film (although the practice of publishing screenplays gives those words a merit of their own). However, the notion of a film that is literary (or poetic) in terms of form rather than content is one that I was excited to read about, as it's something I've given much thought to. I don't think it's a style of filmmaking that will ever have any sort of precedence or achieve much recognition; but it's something interesting for filmmakers to consider when structuring their work (or perhaps not - simply reading a lot, as everyone should, may subconsciously lay a more natural foundation for such structural technique in a filmmaker's writing - when the project is right for it, of course).

And, despite Jarmusch's frequent and literal use of Blake's work as dialogue in Dead Man, or my own use of Graham Greene quotations in Drift, I think it's important to note that mere acknowledgment and quotation of literature does not a literary film make. The recent faux-intelligent A Love Song For Bobby Long is more than proof enough of this. Quotations can be wonderful and enjoyable to read (and make soundbites of), but excessive use of them is not a quick route to profundity. Fake academics carry around books of quotes, like Kirsten Dunst and her Bartlett's in Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, as opposed to those of us who don't necessarily remember all the quotes because we're too busy contemplating the work as a whole.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:23 PM | Comments (3)

January 6, 2005

Yen, who quoted the Magnolia trailer quite accurately in description of the events of the past few days, has announced the news we received yesterday about our acceptance into the Cleveland International Film Festival. What he hasn't had a chance to update his site with is the news he just called me with fifteen minutes ago, which is that we've just been accepted into the Philadelphia International Film Festival as well.

James is going to have to conquer his fear of flying this year. And I'm going to have to conquer my fear of earning an income.

Posted by David Lowery at 9:44 AM | Comments (2)

January 5, 2005

In the interest of chronicling progress, an open letter to my fellow Deadroom directors:

Hello my dear compatriots,

On Sunday, it'll be a year since our first day of principal photography on Deadroom. Let's take a moment to reflect on that.

Okay, now that that stuff is through with, I think it's time for us to go back to work on our film here, to get it up to snuff before it's official official premiere. I've been going over it in my head constantly over the past two weeks, ever since I got the word, and have been thinking of ways to improve it. Getting word from James that Brad does still have the sound files on his hard drive and that he's willing to essentially remaster the entire audio track has me jumping with ideas for additional sound sweetening (I know that I've come to the conclusion that I need to lose all the music in my segments, except for the last, to be replaced with with...something,..which I may change my mind about once I actually LOOK at the film again, but it feels like a strong choice to me right now).

However, we probably should plan on having the finished copy for the screenings done as soon as possible; we don't want to be driving to Austin the day of the premiere, delivering the tape (as we've done too often in the past). I don't know when they'll ask for the materials, but let's say we need to have it done by mid-February. We may not make that, but I think that's a feasible goal.

As far as what needs to be done:

I think re-ordering the film may indeed help somewhat. Primarily with James's last two segments, and their imminent conjoining. James, do you think you could come over to my place on Thursday to get some editing done? Perhaps done completely, even?

My recommendation for our work flow over the next month is: get the re-edit and re-ordering of Jame's conclusion done, after which we all meet up to watch the film together for yet another astringent viewing, looking for what we want to fix on the soundtrack (what may have seemed great in May but perhaps has since lost its luster), etc. Then we begin sound work. I think we should also contact Daniel to see if there's any part of the score he'd like to re-record; I remember in the spring he mentioned that there were some recordings he wasn't completely happy with. Also, the re-edit of James's climax may necessitate a bit of new music throughout that entire segment.

I honestly don't know if we have time to do an offline edit and offline color correction before March, especially since we'd probably have to do it in off hours. However, we need to get in touch with Chris about the possibility of getting some assistance in our bump up to DigiBeta; which of course would occur after our picture is locked but before we go to Brad for the sound work.

We should probably meet this weekend to figure all this out in more concrete terms; and if James and I have a new cut done, perhaps we can view that. I'm bound and determined to make sure the movie that plays in March is better than the one we have now...which is already pretty fine, but I know I felt after the screening on the 13th, after not having looked at the film in a few months, that it could still be a little bit better (as I'm sure we've all felt every time we watch it, but whatever).

So...anyway, that's that. How was New Years for you guys? Was my call from Times Square intelligible at all?

Let me know what you think, etc.


Posted by David Lowery at 11:49 PM

January 4, 2005

All right, I'm back home (but not for long) for the first post of 2005. The weather here in Dallas is unpleasantly balmy. The plane touched down, I went home, sorted through my mail (mainly the last few Academy screeners) and went for a long, purgative run. 24 hours ago, I took a midnight stroll across a mist drenched Brooklyn bridge, and now back to this routine. Which actually isn't bad at all, but I'll get to that momentarily.

Jumping back a few days, on New Years' morning, we went to the beach at Coney Island and ran into the waves. The water felt like knives. It was glorious.

Aside from The Lovely Bones, I bought and read Dead Man (BFI Modern Classics) by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Magic Lantern by Ingmar Bermgan (I also bought a collection of his screenplays, but haven't delved into them yet). I only made twenty pages or so of headway in the book I brought along, Graham Greene's The Shipwrecked, but other items that kept me occupied on the roughly two hours spent daily on subways include this interview with Art Spielgman at the Onion A.V. Club and the best-of-stuff in The Village Voice (fairly beautiful cover on that issue, I might add -- Criterion, take note for when you manage to get the rights to the rest of Linklater's oveure).

I spent a lot of time in the company of my brother Daniel, who goes to school in New Jersey and is a fairly successful celtic musician in Manhattan. He's two years younger than me, but somewhere around the time he turned sixteen and I eighteen, our ages were somehow transposed, with the distance in both age and common ground growing evermore ever since. But he watched Deadroom last time he was in Dallas, and I went to one of his performances in a pub the other night, and somewhere in the middle of all that he loved The Life Aquatic (which most of my family has seen now) almost as much as me. It was good spending time with him, and I look forward to hiring him someday when I need some traditional Irish music for the score for Henry Lee.

On the train with one of my siblings/partners in crime, Mary Margaret Lowery

And now for the chronology of my moviegoing over the past two weeks.



Highlights included all the retrospectives, especially seeing the brand new, completely flawless 70mm print of Playtime; realizing that, unlike In Praise Of Love, I completely got Godard's Notre Musique; seeing the Maddin shorts, which were insane; getting a personalized drawing from Bill Plympton) after the screening of his short; walking out of the theater into a snowfall; running from the MoMA uptown to the Film Forum downtown and being engaged in sudden and nonstop conversation with a fellow filmgoer for quite a few blocks in between.

Oh, and seeing the Griffith short and Two Tars (a classic Laurel and Hardy picture), silents both, projected in 35mm with live accompaniment from an oustanding pianist. They preceeded the screening of the Renoir film, which, along with the rest of the shorts, filled my evening last night; all four hours in that darkened theater left me so charged and excited that I actually couldn't wait to get home to get back to my own work. To begin serious work on my stop motion short. To further consider a short art film I suddenly conceived of in its entirety in the space of one transition during A Tale Of Two Sisters. To type up the things I've written. To finish the script with James. To prepare Deadroom for its big premiere. To make travel arrangements to Berlin (which may actually entail a stop back in NYC on the way or way back). So many things to do; starting tonight, with a great many e-mails that need written and, of course, perhaps not so pressing but necessary nonetheless, this post. Time to go to work.

Also, in light of all this tragedy in the world, forgive me if it seems shallow of me for narrowing my scope to acknowledge only one individual passing...

R.I.P. Will Eisner

Posted by David Lowery at 11:50 PM | Comments (3)