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February 22, 2011

Bad Fever trailer

Here's that aforementioned teaser:



Posted by David Lowery at 3:55 PM

February 20, 2011

Ephemera 11

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A smattering of things:

Posted by David Lowery at 2:04 PM

February 10, 2011

Pioneer (and others) at SXSW


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The SXSW lineup, which was largely announced last week, has just been expanded to include midnight films, Fantastic Fest selections, and short films - which means it's now safe to reveal that Pioneer is an official selection of my favorite film festival! A huge thanks to Janet, Jarod, Claudette and the rest of the staff for having us back.

We'll be playing alongside new work from some amazing filmmakers, including Michael Langan, Josh & Bennie Safdie, Evan Mather and Jake Vaughan, as well as fellow Sundance '11 selections The Strange Ones and Ex-Sex.

Among the features that were announced last week, I must express my biased excitement that Dustin Guy Defa's Bad Fever be having its world premiere. I edited this film last summer, and can't wait to see it with an audience. Among other things, it proves that Kentucker Audley is an acting force to be reckoned with. Visit the official website for a suggestion of things to come.

I'm also thrilled that I'll finally have a chance to see Alison Bagnall's The Dish And The Spoon; to revisit that Sundance adrenaline shot called Bellflower; to attend the world premiere of Ti West's The Inkeepers; to see Will Oldham act in a different movie, R. Alverson's New Jerusalem; to see my own cameo in a certain film from a certain friend of mine; and, last but not least, finally see Joe Swanberg's magnificent Silver Bullets unfurl in its finished form.

Plus, as to be expected, all of the ones that are thus far completely unexpected and that always make Austin in March such a wonderful place to be.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:22 PM

February 9, 2011

Elegy for my MacBook


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Early last month, I was updating some software on my 17-inch MacBook Pro. I hit restart; the familiar reboot chimes rang out, a blue screen popped up and then the computer shut right back down. I repeated this process several times before coming to the conclusion that my machine had bit the dust, at which point I flung myself down on the bed and sank into a deep depression.

I bought the computer four and a half years ago, a few days before traveling to LA for my first prolonged stint there. Since then I have edited, by my count, eight feature films and who knows how many shorts, commercials, DIT jobs and so on and so forth. What history has run through its circuits! What flights of fancy its processors have facilitated! It's been all over the world with me (I remember opening it up in Costa Rica two years ago and seeing a swarm of tiny red ants spill from its guts). It's often been my sole creative implement; I had an old PowerMac and an iMac, but I gradually gave those away to friends as I grew closer with the notebook. I preferred working on it to a desktop system. It made me feel closer to whatever I was working on. Through thick and through thin, from the time I sold my first script to when I was living in my car and siphoning wi-fi from strangers' houses at five in the morning, it's always been within my periphery. I've dropped it who knows how many times - the edges are battered and shellshocked, and it won't close completely - but it still worked like a charm.

Which was why the prospect of its absence in my life was so devastating; we'd become so inseparable that suddenly not having this computer was like I was being robbed not just of a tool but of my creativity itself. Twee bonds of connectivity aside, I suddenly realized how utterly dependent on it I was on this device , especially because I was not, at that moment, capable of running to the Apple store and replacing it. Sundance was right around the corner, rent was due right after that, I had to make a quick trip to LA before both of those expenditures; there was no way I could afford a new Mac right then. I felt stranded. All of my life choices suddenly seemed incredibly ill-advised. In too many regards, I still live paycheck to paycheck, and the unexpected prospect of having to replace my computer brought my folly into crystal clear focus: I was not living a sustainable life.

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The next morning, the desperate, gnawing sense that my life was a complete failure had dulled; it was time to move on. I borrowed a friend's Mac (the nice thing about having a strong creative infrastructure is that one can often find an abundance of Apple devices to temporarily pilfer) and managed to get mine to mount in hard drive mode. I backed up my essential data, unplugged the firewire cable and - lo and behold, my computer instantly and without provocation booted back up again. I turned it back off, and then back on; the problem seemed to be fixed. It was like a new dawn, with bold new possibilities! I didn't know how much time I had left with my beloved MacBook, but by God I was going to use it. And indeed, this past Friday night, I went to bed happily thinking that I'd already gotten more quality work done in the first two months of 2011 than I had in all of 2010.

So of course, as if on cue, the old workhorse gave up the ghost for good the following afternoon. It wouldn't boot up in hard drive mode; it wouldn't turn on at all. From deep within the recesses of its titanium reliquary came a wheezy clicking sound...and then nothing.

The parting wasn't painful this time; I was grateful for the extra few weeks we'd been given, after I'd already given it up for dead. This time, when I threw myself down on the bed, it was out of frustration for not having backed up the awesome work I'd knocked out in the past few days. Luckily, Toby came to the rescue; he heroically dismantled the body, extracted the hard drive, connected it to some strange, Cronenbergian pod and was able to recover those last few files I needed. That done, the cords were severed and my constant companion was gone for good. I'm replacing it next week; hopefully, by the time that one dies, I'll have gotten my life in order.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:53 AM

February 6, 2011

Scared Sheetless

Sergio Caballero's feature Finisterrae won a Tiger Award at Rotterdam this past week. I know nothing about the picture, other than what I culled from David Hudson's post about it and the trailer that was included therein:

Outside of the film's own latent qualities, the image of those two phantasms cut straight to my child's heart and made me innately happy. This, I can only imagine, was the director's intent: to depict literal spirits, but represent them in a symbolic mode with endless external connotations (childhood, Halloween, etc) and meta-perceptions.

I made a cursory investigation into the history of bedsheet ghosts (they began to appear on stage in the 1800s when the traditional representation of spectral presences via an actor in knight's armor became too technically cumbersome) and appearances in other media. Beetlejuice and Halloween both poke fun at the motif. Patrick Daughters provided a glimpse of a sheet-clad wraith in his Bats For Lashes video before going all the way in this Marcel Dzama-designed clip for Department Of Eagles:

I remembered seeing some in this She & Him video, but they don't quite fit the bill. Too culturally distinct and/or animated:

Where I'm going with all of this, basically, is that I wish I'd thought of everything I'm reading into the Finisterrae traile before I'd actually seen it, and made it into a movie of my own.

Posted by David Lowery at 6:35 PM

February 5, 2011

Ghost of February Past

The blizzard that hit Dallas this week reminds me that it's been exactly a year since we made this:

And last year's snow itself can be glimpsed in the third of the four trailers we made.

More on this year's SXSW next week...

Posted by David Lowery at 11:18 AM

February 2, 2011

Sundance wrap-up

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Above: James M. Johnston, myself and Toby Halbrooks at the Short Film Awards Ceremony, where, in spite of our expressions, the fact that we didn't win anything didn't effect our extremely high spirits. Photo by Mike Hedge.

So, that was pretty outstanding.

A week up in the snow with my best friends and collaborators, watching movies and showing off our own. As insurmountable and officious as Sundance seems to be from the outside, it's pretty warm and cuddly once you're through the doors. Everyone on the staff knows your name; everyone has seen your film. Everyone loves your film. It's all so nurturing and friendly and intense and thrilling, you just want to rush home and make a new film right away so you can reserve your spot for next year. Then you realize that after the price of your condo and buying tickets to see movies, you're not going to be able to afford to make a movie for a long, long time. Somewhere between those two dichotic extremes, inspiration and level-headedness triumphs.

As far as press goes, Filmmaker Magazine ran an interview with yours truly towards the end of the festival. And, as previously mentioned, I blogged about the festival for Rooftop Films. You can read my missives here, here, here and here. Forgive my typos, for I wrote most of my entries on my phone in between screenings. Speaking of which, I saw sixteen other films at the festival. These were Septien, The Woods, How To Die In Oregon, The Catechism Cataclysm, Take Shelter, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Oregonian, Attenberg, Here, Bellflower, Lord Byron, Uncle Kent, Circumstance, Terri, Another Earth and The Bengali Detective. Of these titles, there was only one I wanted to walk out of, and four that I absolutely loved. I'll let you guess which ones were which.

And although we approached Sundance without a blessed bit of business on our minds, it seems the rash of acquisitions that ran through the festival extended to us. I think we've sold Pioneer. More on that, and additional screenings, in the weeks to come.

We left Park City last Friday, and apparently took the winter with us. On Monday, Toby and I flew to Rhode Island to shoot a video for Okkervil River. We woke up there yesterday to a blizzard, and managed to fly back to a Texas encased in ice. The temperature here right now makes Park City seem relatively balmy. I'll count myself lucky and enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted by David Lowery at 8:47 PM