Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Glass Boulevard

Filmed in the dullest imaginable environment of shops along a major Los Angeles street at night when the shops were closed.

My Christmas film.

The music is a public domain recording of Artie Shaw and his orchestra playing 'There's Something in the Air' in 1936. The singer is Peg LaCentra. I found it at the Internet Archive.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fire in My Belly by David Wojnarowicz

This is the film by David Wojnarowicz that the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery decided to remove from a recent exhibition because of some politically motivated protest focused on its brief images of a crucifix covered with ants.

Now other museums with slightly more educated staffs are showing the film.

An activist who hung an iPad round his neck to show the film while he walked around the Portrait Gallery has been banned from the gallery for life.

There's nothing wrong with making images that insult religion. There's nothing wrong with an artist or anyone else using a religious icon for purposes other than worship.

And there's nothing wrong with walking around the National Portrait Gallery with an iPad around your neck.

The Smithsonian is filled with idiots who have no strength - no courage - no conviction. No art.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Horror Short: Helping Hand

This is a graphic horror film. It's not intended for young children. If you are under 13, do not watch this before discussing it with your parents! Seriously. Also, you should probably not watch it if you are at risk from sudden fear, anxiety or shock.

A woman answers the phone late at night and does not recognize the voice on the other end.

This is my own contribution to the specific horror genre exemplified by the series of Saw movies. It also has some of the qualities of the moral warning fairy tales in which awful things happen to innocents because of relatively minor errors in judgment.

It's really fun to make a hardcore scary little movie for Halloween! I've wanted to make a horror film for quite a while and just never had the perfect opportunity. It's a very simple film but it can really give some people a bad scare.

I set out to make a horror short the way I might have done it as a twelve year old. In fact, the film pretty well sums up my thoughts on what horror films really are, how they build suspense and anticipation through a series of ordinary events and actions viewed as slightly askew.

Of course, horror should always have some kind of payoff.

This was filmed entirely without digital effects. It's all analog like the old days! Lots of fun. I love horror shorts and will try to make another one soon.

Enjoy and have a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Film: Prénom Ernesto

Marvelous movie! Prénom Ernesto was made by Gabriel Dib and it stars Ernesto Salles as Ernesto and Debora Gaspar as Anna K. It's in Portuguese and I don't understand more than several words of it but I don't have to. It's a wonderful film that is inspired and heavily influenced by the work of Jean-Luc Godard. The filming of traffic at the beginning of the film is a Godard signature, the gunshots on the soundtrack, the sudden on-screen titles and the quote from Godard that goes, 'All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun.' That's essentially what this film is about. It's shot with that casual sense of people interacting with objects that Godard perfected in the early sixties. Dib has made a very careful and productive study of Godard's technique and uses it in a way that shows how fresh and modern it still is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bike Parked in Fake Snow

Looks just like a real bike parked in real snow. But it's a trick. A horrible trick.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.3

Friday, October 8, 2010

Samuel Beckett's Play, 'Krapp's Last Tape', Starring Harold Pinter

The late British playwright, Harold Pinter, stars in the Royal Court Theatre production of Samuel Beckett's play, Krapp's Last Tape. It's about a man listening to himself.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thinking About Underground Film - Part 1

If you live in Los Angeles you've probably seen it many times: the caravan of white trucks parked along the block and around the corner, diesel generators roaring, cables strung along the gutters, piles of lights, rolls of cables, racks of costumes, makeup trailers, bored extras, bored crew members, bored motorcycle police, and fascinated passersby.

That's all you need to see to know that something mainstream - feature film, TV show, or commercial - is being made.

But what's an underground film?

Bad Lit, my favorite site devoted to underground film, has an article about the problem of defining something as slippery as 'underground film' in which several definitions are offered by different people. Mike Everleth, the site's editor, defines underground film this way:
"Essentially, I believe it is a film that is a personal statement by one person and a film that dissents radically in form, or in technique, or in content, or perhaps in all three. However, that dissension can take on any number of forms."

I agree with that, but would add the requirement of hostility. There should be an element of combativeness which attempts to counter a much larger established force. There must be some rebellion in the work. It can be very subtle - nearly imperceptible - but it's usually there somewhere. In fact, I think the hostility should even tend to include the general culture surrounding the filmmaker/s. Dissent, by itself, can be rather subdued, soft-spoken and shy. I think underground film requires a willingness not only to dissent but to kick apart.

While thinking about all this mainstream versus underground stuff, I went searching around on YouTube for something that might fit the discussion. I found this peculiar British documentary film about filmmaker Donald Cammell who co-directed, along with Nicolas Roeg, the 1968 film Performance. The film is one of those odd mixtures of underground and mainstream. It features Mick Jagger and involves a lot of mind-bending drugs, sex and criminal underworld shenanigans. It's actually impossible to forget once you have seen it.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

The documentary, Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance, describes a time when a group of intensely creative artists from various disciplines could operate on the fringes of the mainstream to create an essentially underground film with something resembling support from a mainstream production company. It's a scenario that does not exist today. If you watch all 7 parts of the film, you will be immersed in that strange hybrid world of the 'popular underground' that defines much of what was happening in the 1960s and 70s. Today, if it cannot be jammed into a mall and sold with Sour Patch Kids, it won't get any money. That holds as true for 'independent' films as it does for summer blockbusters.

Watching this documentary makes me wonder why so many filmmakers seem to have such trouble making the films they really want to make. After all, one can purchase a cheap camera and make exactly what one wants regardless of what one's career and money-earning responsibilities might be. Tormented filmmakers who are battling studois for creative freedom should simply make films with video cameras during their spare time. This would not only foster a healthy underground, but it would quite possibly prevent a few tragic endings.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Film: Velocity

Official selection at CINEME, 2003 Chicago International Animation Film Festival.

This is a short film that I started back in 2001. 9/11 happened and I put the film on hold for almost 2 years. When I returned to it I was able to finish it in several months of hard effort. I was working with Flash and my process was kind of awkward. The drawing is actually very crude. But the film came out decently. It got into a Chicago film festival in 2003 and it has remained in its Flash form on CandlelightStories.com ever since. It was recently shown by NewGrounds.com as part of their 'Treasure Hunt' festival of animation.

But getting the film out of the Flash ghetto and into video proved to be more work than I thought. So I've made a few little updates and improved some of the film effects a little. So now the film is actually closer to the film I was imagining back in 2001.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yellow Plastic Raygun Wins Best Experimental Film Award at Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles

Well I'm just very pleased about this. The Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles has given my film, Yellow Plastic Raygun, the award for Best Experimental Film. I was having quite a nice week attending various parties and screenings at the festival. Its use of multiple locations in the heart of downtown Los Angeles gives one a real sense of taking part in the life of the city and being involved with something that's helping to foster the exploding art and film scene in downtown. Most of the short films were screened in the new Civic Center Theater at the intersection of First and Main Streets, in the shadow of the famous City Hall tower that has appeared in so many crime shows and film noir classics. I attended the screening of my own film this past Saturday evening and was amazed at seeing it large since I had put so much work into it on small monitors. What's great about the Downtown Film Festival is that it shows a wide range of filmmaking styles, crew sizes and budgets. They show films made with lots of production resources right alongside films made by individual artists working with inexpensive HD cameras and even cell phone cameras. I am very proud to have won this and I look forward to more great festivals in downtown Los Angeles from the people who put this together.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Matthew Wade

Here's a film that was an official selection at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2009, Zero Film Festival L.A. and True West Cinema Festival in 2008. It Shines and Shakes and Laughs was made by Matthew Wade. He shot this on Super 8 mm color reversal stock. There's an easy unhinged nightmare quality to the film which ultimately turns into an expression of fear of domesticity, I think. That engagement ring against the clouds is my favorite shot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Film: Yellow Plastic Raygun

Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

You can watch in resolutions of 360p, 480p, 720p HD, and 1080p HD. I think the best compromise for quality and loading speed is the 480p resolution. You can also watch it in HD on Vimeo.

I may do a part two of this film. For now, this is the film in full.

The film is science fiction because it concerns the use of memory images for time travel. The powerful imagery of the singular event - the horrific event - is etched forever in the mind, yet it becomes fluid and its influences cannot be entirely trusted. What led up to the singular powerful event? What course was set following it? In what way would the entire world be different if the event had been avoided or not seen? Not recorded? If, as scientists say, the fundamental particles of existence change location or cease to exist when observed or not observed, then what about events in memory? Or events simply residing in the past?

If one asks, 'Why are we here?' Well, I think the answer is obvious. We are here to remember things. We are memory.

It's difficult to see a star clearly if one looks straight at it. Looking just off to the side can clarify the star in one's perception. Going back in time to recover something lost is very much the same. One is sometimes forbidden to look directly at the object sought. One must keep one's gazed shifted slightly or risk losing the memory entirely. This principal has been understood for a long time.

So putting one's eye on something like a yellow plastic raygun, or a car, for example, might in fact sharpen one's vision and allow an accidental recovery or a transfer to take place.

Odd thoughts? Yes, well maybe so. Very much like the thoughts that run through one's mind before sleep completely obliterates consciousness.

The film uses a mash-up of archival footage, drawings, digital painting, new video and video I shot many years ago. The imagery is very layered and attempts to duplicate the way images move through my mind as I circle around my ultimate objective which is sometimes nearly unknown. There are a multitude of connections and meanings to be drawn from the sequence of images. Some meanings might be very obvious, others would be almost impossible to predict.

Yellow Plastic Raygun: Film Images Part Two

Images exported from my upcoming Yellow Plastic Raygun. Sometimes the picture isn't in the main frame; it's in between.

The first set of images is here.

Alpha City Double
Dream Road
The Way Back Home
Tap That
Love Lights
Going Deep
Bang the Thing
Any Kind of Spaceship

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yellow Plastic Raygun: Film Images

For Only Your Eyes. These images are from my upcoming Yellow Plastic Raygun. Distilling single frame images is almost as much fun as making the film. What kind of a film does it seem like?

Second set of images is here.

Traffic Flow
Wave Rider
Planetary Intersection
War Drive
Whatever You Do, Don't Look Back
Gun Sight
Vision Rays
Mourning Sun