May 24, 2011
As previously noted, St. Nick has been on the road in Texas this past month, via the Texas Independent Film Network. I went to the screenings in Fort Worth and in Dallas, and then this weekend past headed down to antique town of Bastrop. There the screening was held in the Council Chambers of the City Hall. Tucker and Savanna were also in attendance, and we all got put up in a charming Bed & Breakfast, and prior to the exhibition the Mayor gave me an official proclamation, which was just enough of a once-in-a-lifetime experience to leave me a little bit humbled.
The following night we brought the film home to the screening room at the Austin Studios, the very room in which we first showed the film to an audience in July of 2008. The crowd was smaller this time but no less wonderful, and we all drank and spoke for a long time afterwards and as the evening dwindled down I felt a gentle ebb of emotion tugging at my heels. After some time everyone left and we packed up and locked the screening room doors, and here St. Nick came fittingly to a lovely and natural end.
When I wrote about that initial showing nearly three years ago, I mentioned that Frank V. Ross gave me a compliment afterward that was so good I wanted to keep it to myself. I'll give it away now: he told me the film looked like me.
Posted by David Lowery at 5:00 AM
May 23, 2011
St. Nick DVDs 4 through 6
Including a scene we didn't shoot because, for once, we couldn't justify the risk.
Posted by David Lowery at 1:18 PM
May 18, 2011
An Okkervil River Short Film
The day after we got back from Sundance, Toby and I took off to Rhode Island to make this little film:
We landed around 4pm, at which point Toby remembered that we had forgotten to pack any sound gear. We chartered a taxi and were ferried the nearest Guitar Center, where Toby bought one of those handy dual-headed recorders and a microphone. It's a fact that I hate Guitar Centers, so I waited outside. A little while later, Will Sheff picked us up in the frosty parking lot and we started shooting right about then.
The next morning, as that massive blizzard fell upon the East Coast, Will dropped us back off at the same Guitar Center. We returned the recording gear for the full purchase amount and then headed to the airport, where we spent eight hours waiting for flights to resume. It was a good trip.
Posted by David Lowery at 3:13 AM
May 14, 2011
A Sure Sign
I'll tell you this: there is no better marker for the passage of time than to have made a film starring children. You spend a brief period in extremely close and intense collaboration with someone, creating with them a lasting testament to their selves at a time which in the moment seems anything but fleeting. That being accomplished, the partnership ends and months go by and when you see that person again they're a whole head taller. Another month or two or a year goes by and your paths circle back around and that little girl or boy's voice has changed and the definition of his face has shifted with it and when he speaks he does so with an assuredness that is new and strong. You can see an adult for the first time, and what is most disconcerting about this is that over all this time you've felt no change in yourself until this evidence is presented and you realize: I must be mistaken. This is not like that gradual, imperceptible change which parents are witness to. This is not a matter of wondering oh where did the time go, but rather the clear and irrefutable answer to that same question.
Film is a preservationist's art form. In the life of a picture a few years can pass without pause, and in parading around these frozen moments one can feel frozen as well. Guarded against time until time turns your own ruse back on you and like Dorian Gray exposed your whole self must answer for all that's transpired.
All that being said, I'd do it again in a second.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:51 AM
May 10, 2011
Holy crap, Baltimore! 2011 Maryland Film Festival
The picture above, taken at approximately 3 in the morning this past Friday, represents everything I love about the Maryland Film Festival: a concentration of amazing people, all making amazing work and all occupying the same space for three days of films and conversations. If you ever find yourself in the month of May and in need of creative rejuvenation, get yourself to Baltimore.
Everything about it feels geared towards helping filmmakers, from the opening night shorts program (which it was an honor to be a part of this year) to the fact that that just about everything occurs in one space: the beautiful Charles Theater and the tent village erected in the parking lot across the street. You never don't run into anyone; you run into everyone, and it's a beautiful thing, one fostered even more from the offset this year by an opening day symposium run by Joe Swanberg and Craig Zobel, designed to give directors and actors and critics and exhibitors an informally organized venue to talk, voice their opinions, bitch, whine, get over it, exchange ideas and make new friends.
The programming, as heretofore mentioned, was peerless. Indeed, I finally got to see The Good, The Bad And The Ugly on the big screen, and although it ran just a little too late for me to see Pedro Costa's Ne Change Rien, the fact that that film was playing before an audience next door was a comforting one all the same. I did manage to see an hilarious 16mm black-and-white-love-it-or-hate-it sibling relationship comedy called The Color Wheel that seems destined to be the sort of regional hit that starts small and winds up being a cult classic. And I woke up early one morning and caught a program of short films given the label Beyond The Valley Of The WTF that started out great and got improbably better, from the Sirkian incest melodrama The Strange Thing About The Johnsons, to the perversely sweet Mouth Babies, which grounded its surrealistic chiaroscuro with about fifteen frames of hardcore fellatio and a churning, guttural score. Also in that block were the Zellner Bros. classic Sasquatch Birth Journal 2 and two beautiful semi-documentaries, Ceiling-Head Angel and Door Man, both of which are nearly heartbreaking and sincere and yet fit perfectly in amidst the splashes of afterbirth and blood and other bodily fluids that demarcated its programmatic kin. The whole block was a remarkably deft balancing act, the likes of which could be found all throughout the jam-packed time and space of the festival.
And then you fly home and decompress and get back to work with a refreshed understanding of why you got started in the first place.
Posted by David Lowery at 6:03 AM
May 4, 2011
I'm off to Baltimore tomorrow, where Pioneer is one of the opening night films of the Maryland Film Festival. This is one of my very favorite festivals in the country, and as usual, the programming is impeccable. No shots in the dark here; there's no way I can see everything that I want to see. One thing I definitely will see, though, is the big-screen presentation of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. This is one of those classics I've still never laid eyes to, even though my brother gave it to me on blu-ray for Christmas, so being introduced to it on 35mm at the Charles Theater is too good an opportunity to pass up.
In the meantime, some other things:
- In LA last week, I finally caught up with Meek's Cutoff, which I loved but for the ending. It may be the right ending, but I haven't quite reconciled with it - nor do I really feel the need to. I'm willing to let it be a sore spot. The quality of the cinematography, in terms of both lighting and the boxy composition, more than made up for it.
- Another movie with an abrupt ending that pissed me off was Martha Marcy May Marlene. It was one of the few times I've ever felt like yelling at the screen in frustration, but there's no denying that, in this case, it was the right ending, and it just made me admire the movie even more. It plays in Cannes in a few weeks, opens in the US in the fall, and the official trailer just came out.
- I saw a double feature of Scream 4 and Fast Five last week, too, and let me tell you, that was an awesome night at the movies. Scream 4 was surprisingly really good. That whole bit where Hayden Pannettiere frantically (ecstatically) lists that litany of horror remakes elevated the entire thing by quite a few notches.
- That non-diagetic whale sound used so prominently at a certain point in Hanna is the exact same one we used in St. Nick. I used to feel so proprietary about sound effects, but now I'm a sucker for library sounds. Am I just getting lazy?
- Speaking of 35mm, my traveling schedule of course ensures that I'm going to miss all the best Summer Classics series at the Paramount Theater over the next few months. Why does McCabe & Mrs. Miller have to be during the LA Film Festival? Is the LA Film Festival worth skipping? That on the big screen is the only movie I want to see this summer.
Posted by David Lowery at 4:35 PM
May 2, 2011
St. Nick and the Texas Independent Film Network
New York, it turns out, was only the beginning. St. Nick embarks this week upon a 10-city theatrical tour, courtesy of the Texas Independent Film Network. This is a new program designed to bring independent film to theaters all across the state - in cities like Dallas, Austin and Houston, but also (and more importantly) to small towns that are too small to host film festivals or support art house theaters, but which do have grand old movie palaces, Last Picture Show style.
The first two entries in the series were Tobe Hooper's Eggshells and Eagle Pennell's The Whole Shootin' Match. We're proud to be the next installment. The first date is this coming Friday, May 6th, at the Museum Of Fine Arts in Houston. Producer Adam Donaghey will be on hand at this screening, while I'll be around for the events the following week at The Modern in Fort Worth and the Texas Theater in Dallas. I'll be hitting the road for more of them after that, and everywhere I go I should have one or two new handmade editions of the DVD to give away. I can't wait to see the film in some of these theaters.
You can find the whole schedule here.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:42 AM