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July 31, 2008

The Onset of a Minor Proliferation....

One of these days St. Nick will have its own website. I'm working on a design that capitalizes on my own bad handwriting; it's not done yet, but what of it there is so far can be seen here.

In the meantime, we're making baby steps towards publicizing this thing. To that end, the film now has a Facebook page which you can befriend, and a mailing list which you can join. Thinking about marketing is, for me, akin to pushing small children down flights of stairs: it's an unpleasant but necessary evil. Luckily I have heartless friends like James to help me do it!

Posted by David Lowery at 12:43 AM | Comments (4)

July 30, 2008

Palimpsests

At the test screening last week, I tried something I'd been mulling over since way before we even shot the movie: opening with an old-fashioned musical overture. No images, just music for a few minutes, to put audiences in the mood. I don't think anyone's done this since Lars von Trier opened Dancer In The Dark with a black screen and selections of the score (that black screen would be replaced with impressionist splashes of color upon the theatrical release).

This idea came about as a result of wanting to include Bill Callahan's song Palimpsest in a movie that had no place for traditional song in its soundtrack. But this song - I listened to it a lot in the months before we shot. Its words, its arrangement, its very texture seemed to reflect what I wanted this movie to be about. It feels how I want it to feel, it sounds the way I want it to look. I also love the psychological implications of the title (which is on its own terms a wonderful word, scarcely altered from its Greek derivative). Literally defined, a palimpsest is a document that has been written over but which belies traces of its former contents. A would-be tabula rasa.

Here is the song. Close your eyes and listen to it:

Smog : Palimpsest : mp3

And now, in a way, you've basically seen the film. Which is part of the reason I decided that I wouldn't push this experiment past the test screening process. The first five minutes of the movie are essentially an overture all by themselves. A vorspiel to the opening movement. A beginning before the beginning.

* * *

Currently on repeat is Bonnie Prince Billy's new record, Lie Down In The Light. The third track, a duet entitled So Everyone, is making me swoon.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:36 PM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2008

Carnivalesque Films Launches Today!


david_ashley.jpg My favorite David Redmon story: he has a PhD in Sociology, and last fall taught a class at TCU on that topic as it relates to documentary film. He invited me to be a guest speaker one day, and the day I attended he was discussing Herzog. Towards the end of the class, he popped Even Dwarves Start Small in the DVD player; his students were summarily horrified, and he stopped the film after about 20 minutes. But later he wrote me to tell me that he felt so guilty about only showing them part of the work that he forced them to sit through the whole thing at the following class and discuss it afterwards. I'm sure they all hated him for it, but it's almost guaranteed that they'll never forget it.

I've had the great pleasure over the past year to get to know David and his partner in crime Ashley Sabin. We met at the Sidewalk Film Festival last fall and realized we were practically neighbors - which in the long term didn't mean much, because they were always off shooting a new project or wrapping up loose ends on an old one. New Orleans one week, Mexico the next. I've never met any filmmakers who travel and work as much as these two. And now they've found yet another way to keep busy, as they've added a distribution arm to their production company Carnivalesque Films. It officially launches today with the release of David's acclaimed documentary Mardi Gras: Made In China, which premiered at Sundance two years ago. His and Ashley's subsequent films, Kamp Katrina and Intimidad, will follow in short order, along with Tara Wray's Manhattan Kansas and (breaking out of the documentary mold) Ry Russo-Young's Orphans. You can read the entire press release here - and there's a fascinating, gloves-off interview with David over at Green Cine, entitled "Girls and Boys Gone Wild in the Context of the Global Economy."

David and Ashley both seem possessed by the same myopic drive to tell the stories that matter to them, and I'm excited to see this tendency extended to films that they themselves didn't make. Along with Benten Films, Carnivalesque is a boutique worth keeping both eyes on.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:09 PM

Animals making mistakes

I re-read that review of All The Real Girls the other day, and I think it's just about the saddest thing I've ever written.

Posted by David Lowery at 9:54 AM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2008

Light & Dark in Seattle

A Catalog Of Anticipations is opening up the Raw Stock Short Film Festival in Seattle tonight. Come for my film and stay for the epic nausea of Calvin Reeder's The Rambler, along with a dozen other great-looking shorts. Check out the official site here.

* * *

I've been watching this on repeat since I saw it on Kat's site the other day:

I can't get enough of Zooey's little visual asides to the camera! And the gore is so delightful! Speaking of Kat, I joined her for a few hours of writing at her favorite hang-out yesterday. Writing at restaurants actually works! Or maybe I was just trying really hard to match her prodigious output. I knocked out five really tough pages of one of the scripts I'm working on, and I think they actually turned out decent.

* * *

Last but not least, the inimitable Clay Liford on the test screening process.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:16 PM

Ciao Goes Theatrical!

IndieWire's got the official press release on the news that we've all been bursting at the seams to talk about:

North American rights to Ciao by Yen Tan have been acquired by here! Films for a planned autumn theatrical release through sister entity, Regent Releasing, the company announced Thursday. The film, which won the jury prize for best feature at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is described as an "emotionally astute film about the incidental friendship between two strangers living in two different parts of the world. Their connection is linked by the unexpected loss of a mutual friend. One has been with him for many years and the other has never even met him, but may have gotten to know him on a more intimate level through the e-mails exchanged." here! Films' Quinn Coleman negotiated the deal with Jim McMahon from Unauthorized Films. [Brian Brooks]

It's not my place to go into the nature of the deal, but in these days of falling skies and digital distribution, this sort of thing feels pretty unprecedented. If the current plans stay on track, the film will have a five city theatrical roll-out this fall, two years to the date that we wrapped production. Deliverables are due next month, so I'd better polish up the blooper reel I put together way back when. It's been a long road for this movie, but Yen's conviction is finally paying off. I couldn't be prouder of him. And to think that when he first started pitching the idea of the movie around four years ago, it figured it would be a quickie straight-to-DVD project...

Posted by David Lowery at 2:16 AM

July 24, 2008

Blacktop

The double feature started with The Shooting, which I'd never seen and which was a great bit of economical Westernry. But then came Two Lane Blacktop. I'd seen it twice before, but holy cow - I feel entirely intoxicated right now, and my heart won't slow down. I mean, shoot, I know there are better movies out there but I'll be darned if I can think of any of them right now, so maybe there actually aren't. It makes me want to hop in my car and drive to Los Angeles right this instant. With any luck a little tinge of this exuberant restlessness will linger until next week when I actually do drive to Los Angeles (again). Add to that driving from New York to Chicago last week and I've just about crossed this country and back again this summer. Now all I've got to do is criss it.

What a great night at the movies. Monte Hellman was there, too, and I sure hope I look that good when I'm his age. And that I have a film this vital under my belt.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:39 AM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2008

AFS Narratives In Progress: St. Nick


afs_screening_stnick.jpg

Last night, we put St. Nick on the big screen and in front of a filled-to-capacity audience for the first time. It was a test screening set up by the Austin Film Society and their Narratives In Progress program. I'd watched the film at the luxurious Austin Studios screening room a few nights earlier, with Bryan Poyser (who programmed and moderated the event), so I knew it would look and sound great. What I didn't anticipate was the response - which, critical though it was at times, left me feeling giddy and elevated. Everyone got the movie, and many of them seemed really passionate about it. I can't tell you how thrilling it was to sit in the back of the theater for an hour and listen to a crowd of strangers vigorously debate my movie. I'd been told it would be scary, but it was nothing short of invigorating.

I picked the right point in the editorial process to show it, too. The cut that we showed was 87 minutes, and had no sound mix or score. I think it'll end up being a little shorter by maybe a minute or two, and of course once the sound is done it'll really take thing up a notch or two. But to get the sort of response that we got last night - well, shucks. It let me know that I'm on the right track.

A big thanks to Bryan and AFS for helping coordinate the first of what will hopefully, eventually, be many great screenings. And to any other Texas filmmakers - do consider having a screening with AFS. It's well worth your while.

* * *

Although I had no part in choosing the audience that AFS recruited, there were a few familiar faces present to see their work on the big screen. Texas-expat Adam Donaghey flew in to Austin for the weekend to oversee the screening, and of course James and Amy was there too, along with Clay (cinematographer) and Toby (2nd AD and actor) and Marc (caterer, and whose son Aven completely steals the scene he's in) and Martin (audio recording). Frank Ross was also in from Chicago - I was really glad he had the chance to see it. He gave me the best compliment ever as I was driving home afterwards, the kind that's so good that I feel like keeping it to myself. We all went out and drank margaritas 'til the witching hour, at which point Toby and I decided it would be a good idea to go get some writing done on a project we're working on. And it was a good idea. Then we got up at 7 AM to go swimming in Barton Springs. I was feeling super productive until I took a nap, circa three hours ago.

Tomorrow: Monte Hellman double feature at the Alamo. Amazing but true.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:41 PM | Comments (5)

July 18, 2008

Real Girls Elude Me

There's a David Gordon Green retrospective going on at BAM, for which I've written a remembrance of All The Real Girls over at Hammer To Nail:

"The film is an ode to first love, wrought with all the eager preciousness of a young dude trying not to step on his new ladyfriend’s toes. It’s set in an old Mill town where folks don’t work, where they gather in bars and on the banks of rivers and whisper nonsense secrets into the rolling Appalachian foothills. Green once again plumbs the depth of the South for all the half-wit lyricism it has to offer, but All The Real Girls takes place in a different North Carolina than did George Washington. Those deep green hills have turned orange, and their mystery and wonder is peeling like old paint. "

I watched the film the night before last on the airplane back to Texas. Surprisingly, my faithful in-flight truism - that I always cry at movies on airplanes - failed me.

And now to grab a few hours of sleep before setting out for Austin at sunrise. There's an old house on the highway that I've been meaning to photograph for over six months now, so I figured I'd leave early and get it while the light's good. Which means I'll probably wake up late, spend thirty minutes getting coffee, find the house wherever it is along that rural stretch of 35, pull over, pull out my camera and then discover that I've forgotten to charge my batteries. Either that, or the house has been torn down. I think I'm just trying to convince myself that I don't need to get up so early.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:58 PM

July 16, 2008

Twizzlers for Breakfast

Great news! The Zellner Brothers' Goliath (which I reviewed here) is now available on demand through IFC Festival Direct. I'm imagining a sixteen year-old version of me, excited about the possibilities of independent film, stumbling upon this movie late at night and having his mind blown in only the way that tiny, indescribable little films that feel like secrets accidentally stumbled upon can manage. Isn't there's something about cable broadcasts that somehow engender some sort of mystique? In this age of instant cinematic gratification, the fact that it's not available for me to own right this instant is actually sort of thrilling. Probably moreso for me, since I've never been a cable subscriber, and have no plans to start.

* * *

Other good news: St. Nick is now down to 89 minutes. Acting on a nagging whim, I chopped out a major sequence, just to see how the film worked without it - and thought, upon screening it for a few folks, that it worked exceedingly well.

* * *

Not so good news: I've eaten more candy in the past few days than I have in years.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2008

The Case of the Screaming Wheel

After a week spent running around New York, rolling cameras and chasing down hard drives and drinking the sun up at least once, I'm now back in Chicago. I say this as if I've been in Chicago more than twice in the past eighteen months, which I haven't, but I have been here before and therefore this is, technically speaking, a return. I was borne to this windy city in a car whose front wheel was in dire risk of conflagration, and have arrived just in time...

...for the Chicago premiere of Frank V. Ross' Present Company at the Gene Siskel Film Center. It screens on Tuesday at 8:30, and Frank will be there along with the rest of the cast. I don't believe I've written much about this film yet, but rest assured, this deficit of coverage on my part is indirectly proportionate to its worthiness. I can't wait to see it again.

After that, I'll continue Kerouacking my way across the country. I have to be in Austin next Monday, and in LA by the 4th of August. And somehow, amids all of this, I've managed to cut a few more minutes out of St. Nick. When can I get a Final Cut app on my iPhone?

Posted by David Lowery at 12:19 AM | Comments (1)

July 7, 2008

Titles

Technically, part of the movie's been shot in New York now.

titleshoot.jpg

Posted by David Lowery at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

July 5, 2008

How to have fun on the 4th

It turns out that racing motorcycles though backwoods hills of Virginia is about all it takes to turn my least favorite holiday into a heck of a good time.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:37 PM

July 3, 2008

Frame Grabs

I've spent the past few days collecting missing imagery for the film. This first one is a temporary background plate. I'll replace it in the fall, when the trees match the rest of the film. Hopefully the red shopping cart will still be there.

stnick_street_with_cart.jpg stnick_sylvie.jpg stnick_savanna_blur.jpg stnick_floral.jpg

Posted by David Lowery at 1:04 AM | Comments (3)

July 2, 2008

Slow As Malaria?

Ciao sold out all 1400 seats of the Castro Theater in San Francisco last weekend, in spite of one local rag's claim that it was as "slow as malaria." Wow. I think that's a bad thing? Regardless, it was followed yesterday by this really terrific review in Variety. No guesses as to what the pullquote from this one will be.

Meanwhile, there are two really amazing developments with Yen's film that I'm going to have to stay hushed up about. Needless to say, the film's journey is proving to be full of surprises.

* * *

Speaking of reviews, I've two new ones at Hammer To Nail: one of the award winning short film The Execution Of Solomon Harris and the other in which I try to pinpoint the strange discontent I felt at the end of Ramin Bahrani's Chop Shop. And while you're out reading, stop by Short End Magazine, where Noralil Ryan Fores has a great conversation with Mike Brune, who's epic The Adventure is still probably the best (live-action) short film I've seen all year.

There was something else I was going to link to, but I don't remember what it was.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:07 AM