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September 26, 2007

Two Articles Of Interest

The first is Nick Dawson's fantastic conversation with Andrew Dominik (with liberal mentions of Cormac McCarthy throughout) over at the Filmmaker Website.

The second I found via Limitless Cinema: an article by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, published yesterday in the Bangkok Post. When Syndromes And A Century was banned by the Thai government a few months ago, thousands of filmmakers and cineasts from around the world signed a petition seeking to Free Thai Cinema. A draft of just such an act was recently brough forward, but as Weerasethakul reveals, it seems to be a fairly hollow attempt at censorship reform.

Since the article seems to be unavailable online now, I've posted the contents after the jump.

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THAI CINEMA AND THE NEW FILM & VIDEO ACT

Earlier this month, I took part in a seminar at Government House to discuss the content of the new Film and Video Act, which has been drafted to replace the existing Film Act of 1930 that miraculously continues to be in place today.

Participants at the seminar included representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Committee of Proper Media, Federation of Film Producers Association of Thailand, Thai Film Directors' Association, cineplex operators and industry observers.

Since the proposed draft would soon be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), the seminar was intended as a last-shot attempt from those who perceive the elements of unfairness and impracticality of the new bill, to convince the government to make corrections.

I had perused the draft of the new Film Act after the censorship board, in April, requested me to cut "just four scenes" from my latest film Syndromes and a Century. That incident convinced me that the fate of Thai cinema would be irrevocably doomed if the power to censor remained with the police, and I was enthusiastic to read the draft of the new law, which was supposed to represent our new hope for freedom of artistic expression.

But my first impression on studying it was that the draft appeared to have been written in a great hurry and had many holes in it.

The Ministry of Culture often cited the fact that filmmakers and producers had walked out from preliminary meetings with state officials, and thus the lawmakers didn't receive necessary input and couldn't properly accommodate their demands in the draft. To me this seemed like crude finger-pointing which failed to consider why there had been a walkout in the first place, and whether the views of filmmakers had been given any due consideration.

There are a number of issues in the new Film Act that disturb me, and which I had brought to the attention of several round-table seminars in the past few months.

Chiefly is the clause that spells out: "Filmmakers must not make films that undermine social order or moral decency, or that might have an impact on the security and pride of the nation."

At first glance this may sound sensible, but what has always caused major conflicts between filmmakers and the authorities is the definition of "moral decency" and "pride of the nation". At the end, what is decent or indecent, or what will disrupt social order, will be decided by government-appointed "arbiters".

Because we are living in a nation that still refuses to believe that prostitution exists in this land _ there's no need to list all the vices that exist everywhere in the world, most of all in this country _ my view is that the new Film Act is not a step forward.

The underlying mentality of the law remains to exert control over our thoughts, the only difference being that this power to decide what is acceptable and what is not will be transferred from the police to a new agency to be set up under the Ministry of Culture.

I'd like to remind you that this is the ministry that never fails to come up with comical campaigns _ from encouraging citizens to dress in traditional Thai costume, to the promotion of Thai-sounding nicknames.

I understand that these campaigns might have had their origin in Unesco's urge to preserve the world's cultural heritage. But what the ministry has been doing is just the icing on the cake and a waste of our national budget, as if they still haven't quite fathomed what the word "culture" really means.

By using our tax money, they propagate empty morality and dispense "national pride" as an excuse, when in fact what they are doing is simply force-feeding what we may call "a facade culture" upon us.

At the seminar this month, participants also discussed Article 26 of the new bill, which stipulates Thailand's first-ever film rating system. As written, a movie will be classified into one of the four categories: fit for all age groups; viewers under 15 must be accompanied by a parent; not allowed for anyone under 18; and not allowed to be screened in the Kingdom at all.

In my view this last category _ which basically reads "banned!" _ is the crux of the problem.

The basis for a ban order concerns our three fundamental institutions: chart, sasana, phra mahakasat_ the nation, the religion, the monarchy.

At the seminar, representatives from the Federation of Film Producers and cineplex operators pledged that they would not permit anything "sensitive" that might harm the the three institutions, and by making that pledge, they accepted the right of the state to ban movies.

I, however, would like to take a different view and oppose the "ban" category. The measure may be effective in some countries, but it will fail here and will betray our claim of being a democratic country.

Thailand has been plagued with double standards and nepotism, and we do not want the government to stick their head in and complicate matters by using the hollow claims of "protection" and "good will".

Naturally, it is unacceptable to do anything that might tarnish the image of the King _ that is out of the question _ and there is already a law to punish people who behave thus. But the readiness of certain parties to swear to the powers-that-be that they won't touch "the nation" and "the religion" is a mark of our utter weakness; it is a testament to our fear and cowardice.

It shocked me that the Federation of Film Producers and theatre owners voluntarily dropped the subject. Instead of questioning the authority and the people who use it, instead of promoting constructive debate for the sake of development, we are so ready to let the state silence us.

Will we ever see a movie about Field Marshal P Pibulsongkram and his dictatorial rule? Perhaps Thai people do not care about "the nation" and "the religion", and we're so willing to look away from them the same way as we look away from the existence of prostitution.

What if I called my new film My Beautiful Life Under Thaksin and the Military Junta? Would they deem it a disruption of social order and ban it? Or should I simply copy one of those films that contain scenes of Buddhist monks running away from ghosts and falling into a toilet, because that's not actually bad publicity for Buddhism? Or maybe one of those movies with a lot of homosexuals shouting dirty expletives, because that's acceptable in our moral standards?

Things cannot be improved if we continue to have state-appointed "arbiters" to judge a movie. I am not a legal expert, but I believe it is possible for the government to allow the film industry to become self-regulated. An independent body can be set up to be run by professionals from the film community. Free from state influence, this agency would be responsible for monitoring and assigning rating, and it would bear direct responsibilities towards the audience, who in turn would monitor the performance of the agency. This way, the film industry will be liberated from the state's shackles and begin to have a dialogue with the public.

As the audience's tastes grow and social values change, this agency will develop accordingly _ I believe this is an index of our society's intellect.

Right now, a writer need not let the police approve what he/she will publish, likewise with painters or performing artists. But movies continue to be controlled by Big Brother (even though the high ticket price automatically limits the exposure). Filmmakers have ethics and moral codes, too, and we are always open to criticism and objection from the audience. In case a movie happens to violate a person's right or integrity, there is already a system of fair trial that will bring us to court. I believe that this is the way we exercise freedom in a democratic society.

An officer from the Office of Cultural Surveillance once quoted research that claimed Thai people as having an average education of Grade 6, and thus they are not ready to be exposed to certain materials. In my view, this claim is an insult to the intelligence of the people and an allusion that most Thais are morons. By deciding for them that they are not "ready", by playing their uncalled-for protectors, the agency is simply denying the chance of young people to grow up and develop their own judgement.

The insistence of this agency to keep the right to ban movies means they do not believe in the age-classification system. They also do not believe in allowing the people to learn from experience, because they are afraid youngsters will be addicted to pornography (which doesn't exist in this country, of course).

In short, the discussion on the rating system is not necessary if the agency still insists on the ban order. Judging from their attitude, I am not sure if this new Film Act is only a sham designed to transfer the power to control from the police to the Culture Cop.

I strongly believe that government intervention must be removed from the activities of filmmaking and screening in Siam. I am ready to be bullied by the "arbiters" picked by the people in the industry, but I refuse to be bullied and raped by the so-called "protectors" appointed by the government.

By the end of the seminar, a Cultural Ministry officer insisted that every party should support the new Film Act for now and corrections could be made later. This sounded like a cover-up, and I feel apprehensive at the state's unusual haste to rush this draft through the NLA, despite the fact that the election date has been set.

Filmmakers have always been invited to round-table seminars hosted by the government, but after a few times I began feeling like I was being used as a Referendum puppet: the invitation was a mere formality and my presence was used to justify the "democratic" process of writing a law.

The new Film Act will remain with us for a long time (the existing one has lasted 77 years and still counting), and although we've been fighting for it for many years, I know I'd rather wait another few decades for a complete, fair and sincere law, than to accept something that promises us nothing but a fake kind of freedom. Despite our protest, the final draft of the new Film Act is likely to be the Ministry of Culture's version. We, the filmmakers, the Federation of National Film Producers, and theatre owners will in this life never see the promised Film Centre or Film Funding. This government will never give freedom to the people. We are making a pact with the devil. If you're reading this, prove me wrong and I'll kiss your feet.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:47 AM

September 25, 2007

Festivals, Ennui

After a bit of a tizzy with the international postal service, the program down under will be unspooling in a few hours. I'm there in spirit! Meanwhile, Some Analog Lines will be playing at Sidewalk this coming Saturday morning. Technically, I'm scheduled to be there in person, but various imbalances might keep me landlocked (bedlocked, headlocked) instead.

Meanwhile, I've been scooped on my own film! One of these days, I'll provide a followup...

Posted by David Lowery at 2:14 AM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2007

Remember Ciao?

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I've been feeling pangs of painful nostalgia for the Ciao shoot, which was wrapping up its first week exactly a year ago. An attempt was made tonight, twelve months hence, to approximate some of that magic by shooting some new footage for the film. Ladies and gentlemen, I must admit - it was for naught. The past is the past, and a flickering image shot off a TV screen offers neither conduit to nor fascimile of something long since faded.

In other words, it's not really new footage. There's an important scene in the film where the characters watch footage of someone else on TV, and in the original cut we just used the actual video they were watching (we had shot it off a monitor during principal photography, but somehow it ended up being shot at the wrong frame rate and was summarily unusable). It always bugged Yen and I, how clean it looked. It needed that touch of generational decay to really sell the distance between the characters and what they were watching. So we spent a few hours this evening shooting the footage off a TV and dropping it into the original cut. Then we wound up making a few other trims. Nothing huge, nothing that'll warrant a re-pressing of all the screener DVDs that have been making the rounds. Just little things that'll make the film that much better when it finally hits the big screen.

After we wrapped (if you could call it that), we watched Lee Chang Dong's new film, Secret Sunshine. It's been a long five years since Dong's Oasis; perhaps my anticipation was built up too much in the interim, or perhaps lead actress Jeon Do-yeon's award at Cannes this past spring raised my expectations a little bit too high - whatever the case, I was slightly underwhelmed by this new film. I truly appreciate Dong's refusal to sensationalize his subject matter (particularly in its gentle but pointed criticism of organized religion), but as a character study it's so protracted that it becomes a bit predictable. It's still very much worth seeing, though, particularly for two scenes: one set in a jail, and the other occurring at the very end, just before the credits roll, in which a woman cuts her hair and the camera pans away to the ground. Both scenes are so perfect, in such completely different ways, that I look forward to seeing the film again for their sake alone.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:49 AM

September 19, 2007

The About A Son Soundtrack Challenge

AJ Schnack's Kurt Cobain About A Son is gearing up for its October 3rd release, and the official soundtrack - a bit of musical impressionism, as every bit as indicative of Cobain himself as the visuals that make up the film - has just been released on Barsuk Records. AJ was recently prompted to come up with his own sonic autobiography, and then proceeded to invite me and a handful of other film bloggers to take up the challenge, the rules of which are as follows.

1.) It must reflect music from each part of your life, including childhood, awkward pre-teen years, all the way up to your current existence.
2.) It should be music that is not just your favorite songs, but also things that make sense thematically.
3.) It cannot be your own music.
4.) Challenge at least 2 other bloggers to do the same.

Coming up with this list was hard. Music is such an all encompassing part of my life, but when I look at the development of my tastes, it seems so very disjointed and schizophrenic. Nonetheless, here for your viewing and listening pleasure is a Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man With A Stereo:

Puff The Magic Dragon - Peter, Paul & Mary My dad used to sing songs to me and my brothers before we went to bed every night, and this was one of my favorites. Listening to it again a few years ago, I realized how terribly sad it was - and how much its influence has trickled down to the films I'm making now.

I Don't Want To Live On The Moon - Ernie
One of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Within You - David Bowie
I was so excited when I saw Labyrinth on video in kindergarten and learned that I shared a first name with this electrifying goblin king of a rock star! It would be a full decade before I began to dig into Bowie's early work, but Labyrinth made me a fan from the outset. Meanwhile, who knows what effect those precariously stuffed tights that Jareth wears in the film had on me...

Ninja Rap - Vanilla Ice
I loved the Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, and so of course I had the soundtrack to the second film, featuring this quality track from Vanilla Ice. I thought it was cool. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that liked MC Hammer around this time, too. Two years earlier, my only friend in the world at the time had given me a tape with Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em on one side and Michael Jackon's Bad on the other. But now that I think about it, I was a lot more interested in listening to the Little Mermaid soundtrack at that point. Anyway, as of last summer, I've got an interesting working connection to the first Ninja Turtles movie, but I still don't feel comfortable disclosing that kind of thing.

One Day More - Les Miserables
I was a big Les Miserables fan (both of the musical and of Hugo's novel, which I read in its unabridged form several times during my home school years). I still like some of the music, but the lyrics are almost unbearably banal, which is why this international version works so well.

Edward Scissorhands Theme - Danny Elfman
I grew up with lots of John Williams scores on tape and vinyl, but by the time I was eleven, I had started modeling myself after Tim Burton, and so Danny Elfman naturally was my composer of choice. This still represents both artists at their best.

Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
The first rock album I ever heard was The Wall. I saw it at a friend's house when I was about twelve, and was rather shocked: it seemed oh-so-very adult. Then he played it for me, and I became obsessed. The following summer, on a family vacation to Wisconsin, I discovered that my aunt and uncle had it on vinyl, and so I sat for hours in front of their stereo with headphones on, trying to put together the narrative and officially entering puberty in the process.

Bram Stoker's Dracula Soundtrack - Wojciech Kilar
There was nothing I wanted more in the fall of 1992 than to see this movie, but my parents refused to let me. They did allow me to get the soundtrack, however, and I listened to it constantly. Someday I'll tell the story about how, in lieu of actually getting to see the film, I endeavoured to remake it, shot by assumed shot.

Zombie - The Cranberries
No Need To Argue was the first album I ever purchased. I had just discovered the alt-rock radio station that my Junior High 'friends' were all listening to, and quickly attached myself to this bit of bombastic musical melodrama (I think I liked the fact that it tied into what I saw as my cultural heritage). I rode my bike to the record store and bought the cassette. Then I tried to learn to play this song on the guitar.

Joy Divison - New Dawn Fades
My deep seated attachement to The Crow - both the graphic novel and the movie - lead me to Joy Division, as did Moby's cover of this song on the soundtrack to Heat. This is an anomoly in my musical development - given the other bands I was into at the time, it's almost hard to believe that Ian Curtis and co. meant as much to me as they did.

Spaceboy - The Smashing Pumpkins
Do I need to say anything else about The Smashing Pumpkins? I could insert dozens of songs here that meant the world to me, but I'm including this one because I used it in Lullaby, my first film.

Adagio For Strings - Samuel Barber
My discovery of this piece of music was a mistake. I was into The Doors in a major way for a while (I modeled my wardrobe after Jim Morrsison, including one particular habit of dress that endures to this day), and I was trying to track down the piece of music adapted for the end of An American Prayer ("God makes angels of us all / and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as raven's claws"). The piece was actually Tomaso Albononi's Adagio in G Minor, but I somehow lead to believe that it was Barber's famous work. Not that I'm complaining, of course - I'm happy to to have them both. Oddly, I never associated this with Platoon until much later.

The Man That You Fear - Marilyn Manson
I was really into Marilyn Manson towards the end of high school, although I never took him seriously the way I did Nine Inch Nails. The desiccated majesty of this song always appealed to me, as did the video, which I saw around the same time that I was getting into Fellini. Parallels abounded (although looking at it now, and knowing that Manson has been trying to make The Son Of El Topo for a while now, Jodorowsky seems a more likely influence).

Not Dark Yet - Bob Dylan
I bought Time Out Of Mind the same day I bought NIN's The Downward Spiral, and listened to both as I helped my uncle gut the house he'd just bought. It's still my favorite Dylan album.

Henry Lee - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
It's hard for me to remember life before Nick Cave. I first discovered him over at my friend Tony's place in 10th grade, via his sister, who played Stagger Lee for me. It was a little too intense an introduction and I wasn't quite sure I liked it, but this number, coming one or two songs afterwards on the Murder Ballads album, was much more my style (and it introduced me to PJ Harvey, too, whose new album I'm highly anticipating). Many years later, I would adapt this song into a screenplay.

Paper Bag - Fiona Apple
Towards the end of 1999, I was eagerly anticipating Magnolia and gradually becoming obsessed with Paul Thomas Anderson, which lead to an obsession with his then-paramour, Fiona Apple. I remember driving to multiple record stores, trying to find a copy of When The Pawn, and then listening to it nonstop for weeks afterwards. I've always had a thing for wounded chanteuses, and this album set a benchmark that really hasn't yet been met.

Everything In It's Right Place - Radiohead
Kid A radically changed my perception of what music could be. In retrospect, it's not that groundbreaking of an album - but at the time, at the age of nineteen, it was like wool had been lifted from my eyes. I remember hearing the first single and calling friends excitedly, telling them that I'd just heard something that was going to change the world. It was the first time I realized that music didn't need to fit into a neat little box of hooks and choruses. I started looking for the bands that Thom Yorke and co. listed as influences, and my musical horizons have been expanding ever since.

Ms. Jackson - Outkast
Likewise, Stankonia was sort of the Kid A of modern hip hop. It was my gateway into a whole new chapter of musical matriculation, during which I discovered Jurassic 5, Talib Kwelli, Common, Aesop Rock and dozens of other outstanding artists. And, of course, the entire oveure of Outkast, who hit their peak with Aquemeni and this album. Speakerboxx / The Love Below was strong, but it represented the dissolution of the duo. The Idlewild soundtrack was so underwhelming that I was turned off to the movie entirely -- although I watched it at home recently and was pleasantly surprised that I think I might have to write more about it at some later date.

You Know You're Right - Nirvana
My relation to Nirvana has been halfway well-chronicled on this page before. The chronology of my love for them is all out of whack. I heard this song while driving to work one day, and could barely get out of my car afterwards.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abbatoir Blues
This list needs more Nick Cave, just because he's always been there for me.

Members Of The Show 'Em How It's Done - The Theater Fire
And I'd be remiss if I didn't include The Theater Fire, who've not only stunned me with their music, but who include in their lineup some of my truest friends. If I hadn't met them, I wouldn't be who I am now. I wanted to take this opportunity to upload the live video of Cease that goes with the other two currently available, but I don't have the proper hard drive in my possession at the moment. In its stead, enjoy this slightly shaky but nonetheless thrilling performance of the last track of their most recent album.

Only Skin - Joanna Newsom
And now let's jump way ahead, past Bjork and Antony & The Johnsons and Will Oldham, all the way up to the patch of Texan interstate between the record store and my house, where I first heard Joanna Newsom's Ys last November. I've chosen this song in particular because Bill Callahan sings on it, and at this point in my life, I feel like all I ever need to listen to again are these two artists. They're my current muse.

God. What did I leave out?

* * *

And now, in postscript, I'll pass this challenge on to Kat and Wiley.

Posted by David Lowery at 6:58 PM | Comments (2)

September 18, 2007

Smoke & Mirrors & More Smoke

David Fincher's Zodiac hasn't yet been toppled from the esteem I held it in last March; I haven't watched it on DVD yet, but I'm anxiously awaiting release of the director's cut in January. In the meantime, the following clip has radically changed my perception of what I thought was a more straightforward production for its technologically innovative director:

The complexity of all those seemingly innocuous shots almost gives me a headache. A dazzled, mightily impressed headache.

* *

I'm in decompression mode. Jim's shoot, in which we completed out a total of four set-ups in the first day, was the polar opposite of Barak's (which regularly saw upwards of twenty shots knocked out within a twelve hour period). The former was almost more exhausting, simply because it was so meticulous. After we returned the gear yesterday, we went to the multiplex to see Cronenberg's Eastern Promises and James Mangold's 3:10 To Yuma. They were the third and fourth films I'd seen in the last month - my artistic consumption is in desperate need of resucitation. I think I'll put my all-access pass to the Angelika to good use when I get back to Texas. And go to some museums. And finish all the books I've started. And...

Posted by David Lowery at 3:17 PM | Comments (4)

September 16, 2007

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Andrew Domnik's new film is as lengthy and declarative as its title. Not content to be poetic, it aims squarely for Poetry and imbues its simple sonnet of a story with the heft of an ancient song.

And by and large it works, and works beautifully, running through a gamut of contrasts - mythic and intimate, grandiose yet delicate - and binding them with a deep sense of melancholy. Dominik's hand is as affected as it is effective, and there's a portentious deliberation to the film that makes it heavier than the work of the directors whose influence is most evident on screen (Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson), but it's a weight which is nonetheless deeply felt. "I look at my red hands and my mean face, and I wonder about this man who's gone so wrong," says Jesse James, speaking with precisely the poetry that John McCabe wanted to believe he had within him.

The way Brad Pitt spits those words brought him a well-deserved recent Best Actor award in Venice. The work of Casey Affleck as the other titular character is similarly grand, and their fateful pirouette is well played. But in the weeks since seeing the film, I've thought back most often to the scenes before the focus is narrowed, when neither Jesse James nor Robert Howard are on screen and the film concerns itself with the exploits of other members of the James game as they spend weeks and months in hiding in various safehouses across the South. There's a point to these sequences, but I loved how the narrative meanders on its way to making it, stretching out the in-betweens that most films would have covered in a simple crossfade. I also loved that they so prominently feature Paul Schneider, who in the past few years appeared in a handful of films not directed by David Green but has never had the chance outside those pictures to really let loose with his smoldering, tactful insouciance (his All The Real Girls co-star Zooey Deschanel is also present, in a beautifully rendered scene towards the end of the picture).

Less successful are cameos from James Carville and Nick Cave (who composed the score with Warren Ellis, tying this film to the other best Western in recent memory, The Propostion), who, quality of performance aside, hardly register as more than winks; and Dominik's penchant for obfuscating the lens of history with a literal smear of vaseline is the sort of precious touch that will be a red flag for any critic sensitive to pretension. Indeed, this is a film full of pretensions; it just so happens that it's substantive enough to back them up, and wrought with enough grace and vigor to make them linger.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:53 PM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2007

Jetsetting

A rough progression of time spent since Wednesday: I wake up around four in the afternoon, encode some DVD files for a long-delayed project, meet Clay and Sharon for dinner (breakfast?) and drinks, drive to the Blood On The Highway set with Clay, split off into our respective units, shoot until around six in the morning, wrap out most of the crew, head to the second location out in the country at the onset of a beautiful hazy dawn, shoot the denoument for the film, joyously applaud when the martini is taken thus signifying a wrap to the picture and a really amazing filmmaking experience, head back to Barak's house to offload the remaning P2 cards, congregate for a noonish wrap party, imbibe until three, go home, pack, meet Yen for dinner, fall asleep in Dallas at ten thirty, wake up in Los Angeles at eleven, go over various things with Jim regarding the short film he's shooting this weekend, drink some wine, force myself to go to sleep before six in the morning, wake up at eight, wake up again at ten, call my agent, call my mom, grab lunch (vegan pizza), pick up gear for the shoot and get ready to jump right back into things again. Right now it's just turned into Saturday. Cameras roll in seven hours. I'm burning a DVD that I'm about to run over to Fed Ex. This time next week I'll be back in Texas, with maybe just a little bit more time on my hands to write something about all the things I need to be writing.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:31 AM | Comments (1)

September 11, 2007

Hand-Made and Home-Grown: The Films of Evan Mather and David Lowery

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The 2007 Melbourne Underground Film Festival begins in just over a week, and included on the schedule this year are sidebars dedicated to the work of the inimitable Evan Mather and myself. Matthew Clayfield curated these sessions, and wrote the notes for the just-released programme:

For all their differences, the films of Evan Mather and David Lowery are, in some respects, very similar. Specifically, they are the films of artists who are similarly concerned with the intricacies of place, memory, nostalgia, imagination, and the physical processes of filmmaking itself. Mather and Lowery are filmmakers who, like children with scissors and glue, 'hand-make' their films; who use their films to remember their pasts, or to rewrite them; and who imbue place—be it Baton Rouge in Mather's Scenic Highway, Las Vegas in Fansom the Lizard, or Texas in Lowery's work more generally—with a loaded emotional resonance tied, inexorably, to childhood, adolescence, and to events further back in the collective memory of our culture. The will be the first time either filmmakers' work has screened in Australia.

There's more in the actual program, including the full lineup of films, which in my case covers everything from Still to A Catalog Of Anticipations. A big thanks to Matt for giving my work its antipodal premier - I wish I could be there. It'd be interesting to see five years of short films compressed into an hour. How meta-autobiographical!

Posted by David Lowery at 6:20 PM | Comments (5)

September 8, 2007

Merrily, Merrily Trailer

And now news of another trailer, this one for James' new short, Merrily, Merrily. I sat in on the final sound mix the other morning and got to hear Curtis' haunting score (featuring Mara Lee Miller of Bosque Brown on vocals) for the first time. It's beautiful stuff.

I think that was on Friday. Or was it Thursday? We've been on a night shoot schedule for a week now, and I have no idea what day it is anymore. But there's something really wonderful about being out in the countryside at two in the morning, with a cool breeze blowing and making the night seem bigger and quieter, stars shining overhead while lights rise on their stands, setting the grass ablaze with blue. One of my favorite parts of Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy was how well it captured the heightened surreality of an all night shoot; there's a chaos to it, but of a very enchanting sort. I love it, although I'm having trouble keeping up with my other affairs during my sleepy waking hours.

Last night (or this morning?), I splintered off to go direct second unit. And then suddenly the sun was up.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:18 PM | Comments (2)

September 7, 2007

And Yet More Blood


UPDATE: Maybe I spoke too soon - this trailer has been up and down all over the place for the last twenty four hours. I imagine it'll be up at Apple before too long. For now, it can be seen right here.

Posted by David Lowery at 5:23 PM

September 4, 2007

More Blood

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I've got some cool news to pass on here (and a review of The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford that I've averaged about a sentence on per day since I saw it last week), but I think it's going to have to wait until I've caught up on sleep and all the other things I'm supposed to be doing when I'm not working on this shoot. Sixteen hour days can sure throw a kink in your schedule - but it's hard to complain when they're so much fun. There's always plenty of blood, severed limbs and steadicam action (not to mention self-pleasuring homeless men who happen to wander onto the set) to keep things lively. Almost makes me want to make a horror film myself.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:38 PM | Comments (4)

September 1, 2007

Blood & Money

I'm currently here in Dallas working as a P2 tech (or data wrangler or on-set editor or whatever you want to call it) on my friend Barak's new film, a vampire comedy called Blood On The Highway. I was excited to learn that it's starring Nicholas Brendan, as I was a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer back in the day. Anyway, yesterday was the first day of shooting, and while I was driving to the set Yen called me to tell me that my name was on the list of recipients for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. So now I guess I should officially mention that I'm still planning on shooting a feature film this year, and that the title of the film is St. Nick.

A huge thanks to everyone at the Austin Film Society, and to the panelists who chose my project, about which I'll have plenty more to say in the coming weeks. I may not be able to afford to live like a normal human being but, thanks to them, at least I can afford to keep making movies.

And hopefully, I'll still have a camera to make them with after this current shoot is over. Yesterday, I volunteered my HVX as the B-cam, whose duties included being strapped to the hood of a car and driven down the freeway at high speeds. Hooray for reckless shooting! Today, I wound up on the opposite side of the lens, playing a vampire. I got some dialogue and my own pair of bloody fangs and everything. It was awesome.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:43 PM | Comments (3)