Monday, February 28, 2011

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” Ansel Adams

Me holding a light meter and a can of air.  Freddy Gompf and Neil Kendricks also pictured.

I know you're making fun of my hat. No. I'm not a Robert Rodriguez wannabe. I haven't even seen El Mariachi. We were shooting in the desert and I needed it to protect me from the sun. And I wanted to show off the hat I got at Telluride during the film festival. EVERYONE gets this hat. EVERYONE.  It was so sad when I sat on it and I couldn't put it back the way it was. Stop laughing. Shut up.

Making films used to be about photography. I think people have forgotten that.

P.S. In all my rambling and ranting, I forgot to say the name of the book I'm holding. It's the American Cinematographer Manual.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learn to shoot on super 8. Check.

I've always wanted to shoot on super 8 but never got around to it because I've been making films on super 16 for years.  Until today that is.  Here are some screenshots of what I did today. I will write more about my experience later. Right now my pup requires my undivided attention.

Have a lovely evening.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bleh and Meh: Oscar Picks

I wasn’t going to do this because honestly I don’t give a shit, but James just asked me and I wrote him back and I might as well post since I went through the trouble of typing them.  These aren’t really my picks.  My picks aren’t even nominated.  This is a list of what I think the winners will be.

Best Film: The King’s Speech

Best Actor: Colin Firth (actors know that to win they have to ugly themselves up or go half-retard)

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (A+ for effort to this girl)

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (I think the Academy has forgotten he beat up his mum.)

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, but a possible upset by Helena Bonham Carter.

Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (If Sorkin loses, that means they really, really hate him.)

Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech (Movie was bleh meh, but it will be good if they give an old fart an award.)

Foreign Film: In A Better World

Director: Tom Hooper (David Fincher should but the DGA went to Hooper)

Animated is tricky. I'm inclined to say Toy Story 3, but they might be sick of giving Oscars to Pixar, so The Illusionist might upset.

Art Direction: King’s Speech (Alice in Wonderland might upset)

Make up: The Wolfman (who’s even heard of Barney’s Version or The Way Back?)

Cinematography: Fucking stupid boring shitty Inception

Costume: King’s Speech (maybe the Tempest, but the Academy does love Brits in fancy threads)

Doc: Inside Job

Editing: The Social Network

Score: The Social Network

Song: We Belong Together from TS3

Short animated: Day & Night (hey, it’s Pixar)

Short live action: I'm going to go with Na Wewe because it's got Africans in peril.

Both Sound editing and Mixing: Inception

Visual FX: Inception

So yeah. Meh and Bleh.

I am, however, excited about the possibility of snow on the Hollywood Sign and shooting and hand processing super 8mm film this weekend.

Hope your weekend is good too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our Mission Statement

"I don't give a fuck what anybody says. If you don't have time to see it, don't. If you don't like it, don't. If it doesn't give you an answer, fuck you. I didn't make it for you anyway." -- John Cassavetes 

This is going to be a really bitchy post.

I’m irritated. I’m fucking irritated. I’m really fucking irritated because I didn’t get enough sleep Tuesday night and I still haven’t recovered.  I have The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to thank for that.  I left my dog behind, sad and moping on the couch, and headed for the Samuel Goldwyn Theater for a special screening of the ten shorts nominated.  I was really looking forward to it, especially since Kenneth Branagh was hosting and conducting the talkback session. 

Yes, yes, yes. It’s true. For the most part, I don’t respect the Academy and what it stands for. I’ve blogged about it a few times. I only watch the Oscar telecast so I can bitch the next day about how awful and boring it was. The Academy Awards are a joke, a sham, a disgrace, a “humiliating institution.” Think Crash (Paul Haggis), the worst, most insulting, condescending, racist piece of shit winning and then think Stanley Kubrick never winning. Despite my feelings, I thought that somehow the short subject nominees would provide a somewhat redeeming perspective on the Academy’s shenanigans. I went to the screening expecting to see some of the best shorts the world has to offer and that I was a fool for such delusion is a gross understatement. It was one of the longest nights of my life.

First, Branagh introduced the animated films and he was very funny and charming. He did not disappoint. The first film was the 3D version of Day & Night; the Pixar short that played right before Toy Story 3. I had already seen it. Yes. Pixar. Cool. Pixar. Then I was put in a coma by the excruciatingly slow The Gruffalo; an adaptation of a best selling children’s book. According to the filmmakers, the dialogue was exactly the way it was in the book, which was obviously for 2 year olds “said the little brown mouse in the deep, dark wood” in Helena Bonham Carter's voice. The computer animation was just Meh. Next was a mildly amusing and well meaning piece of environmental propaganda called Let’s Pollute. It wasn’t entertaining enough to wake me up, but the audience seemed to like it a lot and their laughter kept me from sliding off my chair. I prayed to Le Cinema Gods that the next short would be better, and it was. The makers of The Lost Thing were successful in creating a unique world, but the story was thin and the voiceover overdone and mostly unnecessary. Although it fell short and it was underdeveloped, I enjoyed the artwork and the spirit behind Madagascar, A Journey Diary. It was one of the two shorts that had a unique point of view. For a filmmaker who did not speak English well, its creator Bastien Dubois was incredibly longwinded. Thankfully, Branagh shut him up and we were able to carry on and watch the live action shorts. (In retrospect, it would have been less boring to try to decipher Dubois’ English.)

I looked at my watch and saw that it was past 9:30 p.m. I again prayed to Le Cinema Gods that the next batch of films was bad or good enough to keep me entertained.  Then I pictured my poor doggie depressed on the couch and waiting for her momma to walk in the door.  I started to tap my foot and that’s not a good thing.

Praying has never worked out for me and this occasion was no exception. What came next was material that has been recycled ad nauseum: adorable, incorrigible children that swear while in cute scenarios, the textbook Tisch B&W set in New York City romcom (those film students still want to be Spike Lee or Martin Scorsese), the Africans in life or death situations and the terminally-ill protagonist who wants to lose his virginity as a last wish.

And I was hoping to see the next Kitchen Sink, The Antichrist, or Next Floor. Silly, stupid, idiotic me. It’s the fucking Academy and it’s fucking Hollywood and they peddle pablum.

You’re probably wondering how I know there are better, more original shorts out there. Because I’ve seen more engaging films in festivals and even online that’s how. A lot of them blow these nominees out of the creative water. Of course, most are not shot with fancy cameras, haven’t cost thousands of dollars and don’t have the backing of powerful showbiz players.

So…filmmakers…if you want to be nominated for an Oscar make a B&W film set in New York city and/or Africa. Here’s your logline:

Hilarity ensues after two incorrigible youths defeat evil Africans with machetes while battling cancer in order for one of them to lose his virginity before dying and for true love to conquer all.

After this awful experience, I fully expect The Social Network to lose everything.

Now I fully understand why Ingmar Bergman wrote this letter.  He sounds really irritated. More than I actually.  It’s probably because he was insulted to be nominated.  After seeing what the Academy considers to be the best shorts of the year, I’d be insulted too.

photo by Teri Carson (all rights reserved)

So yeah, fuck you AMPAS. Seriously.

NOTE: You can see a lot of photos from the AMPAS Bergman exhibit HERE.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's not what's there. It's what isn't there.

Before I rant about last night's waste of time, my homage to Antonioni. I snapped this photo on my way from work this evening.

And here's a clip of Martin Scorsese talking about the master and what was happening in cinema then that's not happening now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beyond the grime is almost abstract.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, all I saw was grime.  No amount of palm trees and pretty people could distract me from the grime and I just couldn't accept that no one washes the grime off the city.  Also, I never understood why the world is so fascinated with such an ugly place.  Obviously they weren't seeing what I was seeing. No one sees what we see so there is really no such thing as reality.  Los Angeles is a cruel dystopia and it will fuck you up if you let it. Los Angeles isn't real.

I took these photographs on my way home after work today--at stop lights through my windshield.  I immediately noticed what I was seeing through the windows wasn't exactly what was on my screen and on my mind. I had to manipulate them even further.  That's what I do.

Someone told me recently to "imagine." It wasn't necessary. That's all I do. Imagine.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well...

...if one has not dined well." - from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

Part I

Part II

If you're interested I've posted links to my Poly Esther production diary below, where I bitch extensively about the food situation and all the problems with my producer.

I said no pizza.

Not even pizza?

You're the AD, I'm the AC.

All this trouble for a woman who can't cook a chicken.

Email to the crew.

Kentucky Fried Crisis

Tits and Ass

San Diego is on fire.

Post production blues.

“Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes.” N. Hill

Self-portrait at MOPA with moon backdrop.

"Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected." Robert Frank

"It is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph." Robert Frank

Lee Friedlander "Route 9 W, New Mexico"

"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." Diane Arbus 

"Girl with patterned stockings"

Jerry Berndt

Bruce Davidson

This photograph blew me away. I could not stop looking at it. This is exactly what we strive to do with words first in a screenplay: to tell a story visually. Wow. Just wow.

"Most of my pictures are compassionate, gentle and personal. They tend to let the viewer see for himself. They tend not to preach. And they tend not to pose as art."  Bruce Davidson

The photographs below were not part of Streetwise, but I decided to put them up for my own reference.

Here's a short clip of Miranda July's first feature. She looks younger in real life.