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February 27, 2010

Back (in New York)

I love the notion of staying in while traveling. I'd rather be sitting in my friend's cozy apartment looking at the blizzard that hit New York yesterday than actually plunging out into it. Of course, I'm about to do just that, since the St. Nick screening that brought me here is in a few hours, and my offer of a snowball fight still stands. This will be a good litmus test as to the word of mouth that a film like this can maintain a year after its premiere. Our last show in New York nearly sold out, with several hundred people in attendance. Is there anyone left who wants to see it?

On an unrelated note, it seems that my entire site is back up after being down for a little over a week (power outages is what the e-mail from my hosting company said) and I hardly noticed because I was so wrapped up in finishing these little films I've been making. I wrapped them up Thursday evening, a few hours before my flight, and they'll be hitting the big screen at their earliest convenience.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:58 PM

February 19, 2010

St. Nick at 92Y Tribeca next weekend


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Dear Friends,

I would like to invite you - those of you living in Manhattan and its outer burroughs, at least - to join me February 27, a week from tomorrow, for a very special screening of St. Nick at 92Y Tribeca. This is the first screening of the film this year, almost twelve months since its premiere, and it may be one of the last chances to see it on the big screen (at least in the US - should you reside in, say, Budapest, you'll have a chance to see it very soon).

So I urge you to venture out into the cold to break cinematic bread with yours truly. If you've seen it already, come for the company, and tell a friend to do the same. Allow me to entertain you, in my quietly distended way! I promise you won't leave disappointed. The screening is at eight o'clock - tickets and directions can be found Tribeca Film is giving away a pair of tickets, which you can register to win right here.

And afterwards, I would like to challenge anyone and everyone to a snowball fight.

I can't wait to see you all!

Love, David

Posted by David Lowery at 1:52 AM

February 17, 2010

Notes on Whimsy

This was the entry to a longer piece that I started a few weeks ago and then promptly forgot, inspired by a viewing of Spike Jonze's I'm Here at Sundance.

* * *

Whimsy is a delicate thing. As much an art in and of itself as a quality of art, it is capable of execution with as many varying degrees of quality as its outriding vehicles. Like wit, whimsy is a stealthy property, able to slip itself into the direst of straits. Wit is a razor, whereas whimsy is a dirigible, holding its host aloft against the general pull of reason.

Whimsy is a gentle transposition of expectations. A shift in color or proportion in a Magritte painting is whimsical. It is also surreal, a trait which, like irony, whimsy frequently trades in but which it is not interchangeable with. It frequently plays upon the extant, but it needn't alter it so much as widen our perception of it. In other words, it surprises us, but doesn't shake us from our footing. Flight Of The Bumblebee, for example, is whimsical, and it expands our comprehension of what Korsakov's opera is while leaving no doubt in our minds that we are, indeed, still listening to Korsakov's opera.

Like wit, whimsy often works - and works best - when its innate frivolity is a subterfuge. But give melodrama an inch and it'll combust all over, and hence what is whimsical will often come crashing down when buoyed by too much pathos - a great Hindenburg of caprice. This is often what we mean when we say that something is precious; its whimsy is leaden.

Posted by David Lowery at 8:22 PM

February 16, 2010

A Smith Brother

Last night, towards the end of a particularly good Valentine's Day, I was running to the car to grab some spare change when a woman crossing the parking lot stopped, looked at me and called out "you look just like one of the fellows on the Smith Brothers cough drop box."

"That's amazing!" I called back. "Do you know what those are?" she asked, and I confessed that I did not but that I'd look it up as soon as I got home. I did, and I suppose she had in mind the more surly of the two Smith brothers when my countenance stopped her dead in her tracks.

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Even if the similarities aren't as literal as she might have imagined, it's nice to know I'm so strikingly antiquated.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:25 AM

February 10, 2010

A Small Piano


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The result of discovering time and time again that magic never happens according to plans is that, eventually, you stop planning altogether. I've learned to trust in vague notions and my own eye for the moment. Sometimes I'm off, but it's worked often enough that I don't worry when, a few days before production, we have an 8 1/2-ish crew meeting that consists of shrugs, laughter and a handful of assurances that flying by the seat of our collective pants is actually going to work.

And so it is that, as I write this, I can hear the buzz of circular saws in the studio next door, constructing a set on which something will happen. We decided not to use motion control. We also gave up on the livestock idea. And while we were out shopping for a chandelier to drop this morning, Toby and I caught sight of a small piano.

DAVID: What if a piano came crashing down instead of a chandelier?
TOBY: That's not a piano.

And that's how these things develop.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:52 PM

Miniatures

Always plenty of room for some soft-focus nods....

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Posted by David Lowery at 12:53 AM

February 5, 2010

A Decade Old Lullaby

Ten years ago today I began to shoot Lullaby, my first attempt at feature filmmaking. I was recently nineteen and had hair reaching far past my shoulders.

I'd spun in my head a dozen more Proustian onsets to this entry, but then thought better of sentimentalizing something I've long since retired. One critic, noting last year that St. Nick was being billed as my first feature film, surmised that I'd apparently distanced myself from it. This is true, in a sense; in private, I'm very proud of it, but there's no need for it to exist in the public eye. I've got other work that I'm happy to be represented by; this one can fade away. The same can be said for much of my output between then and now, which I've pared down to the one or two offerings I feel actively contribute to my body of work, excising the many whose value was in teaching me what not to do.

I do my best to regret nothing in life, but were I to allow myself some celebratory leeway in this regard, I'd wish that version of me who was nervously directing coverage in a kitchen for the very first time ten years ago this morning had learned a little more quickly how to throw that coverage away and get to the heart of the matter. With any luck, he'd outpace this current, clean-palated me, who often - but not tonight! - thinks that that he has indeed learned just that.

I came out of that film with a many memories, mostly faded, and a few dear friends with whom I'm still making movies. Yesterday, I met up with James M. Johnston to sign off the last few contracts for St. Nick's distribution. You can find him in the picture below, taken on the last day of our first collaboration. Also in there is Adam Donaghey, who has three new films he produced playing at SXSW this year. I look forward to making many more films with them both.

Everyone else in the photo has more or less vanished.

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Posted by David Lowery at 1:46 AM

February 3, 2010

Catch the Trainwreck at SXSW

The 2010 SXSW lineup just went live, and chief among the titles I'm happy to report about is the world premiere of Frank V. Ross' Audrey The Trainwreck.

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As has been writ often on these pages, this film is a particularly beloved one of mine, my involvement with it notwithstanding. I can't wait to see it with an audience, and on the big screen. You can see the trailer, soon to be updated with festival laureates, right here.

There are tons of other great films in the lineup - I'm excited about friends' new offerings like Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture and Aaron Katz' long-awaited Cold Weather. Clay's film Earthling is in competition, Lovers Of Hate will have its first Sundance encore here, as will Cyrus and Enter The Void. Oh, and Trash Humpers is playing!

There are a few new things of mine that will be playing as well, to be announced at a later date. But ultimately, March in Austin is all about Audrey The Trainwreck for me. It's the real deal.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:20 PM