Sunday, April 29, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quick Note

I'm leaving for L.A. today--will be there until Tuesday morning. Not sure what my blogging situation will be, but maybe I'll post some pics. If not, I'll do it when I get back.

Assuming the plane doesn't crash and solve all of my problems... (insert smiley emoticon)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tell Them Who You Are

Recently watched a documentary recommended by Zig called "Tell Them Who You Are". It's a film shot by cinematographer Haskell Wexler's("One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", "American Grafitti", about 100 other films) son Mark Wexler, and the thing is really about Mark's relationship, or lack of, with his father.

And as the film went on, I just got more and more depressed. Haskell Wexler is a guy almost 81 years old, clearly sensing his mortality, apparently regretful of the way he's treated his son all of his life, and yet he almost can't help continuing to do so--even on camera when he knows he's on camera.

And here's his son desperately crying out with this movie for his father's approval, which I think most of us can identify with, especially those of us who are sons. In essence he's saying "Hey Dad, I'm trying to BE you! That's how great I think you are, that the best thing I can think of in life is to try to BE you! Can you appreciate it?"

But...his Dad can only criticize and condescend.

And there's a part where Haskell and Mark go visit Mark's mom who now has Alzheimer's, and it's really the first time you see Haskell show anything other than anger or disgust in the entire movie. He cries at what has become of this woman he used to love, this shell of skin that doesn't seem to recognize either of them, and barely says a word.

And then they show a snapshot: Mark Wexler, probably about ten, smiling on his father's young shoulders, and Mark's mom, looking beautiful in her youth--she was a very talented painter. They are vacation in Guatamala. They have their entire future ahead of them. It's bright, and will be filled with nothing but joy and happiness, wonder and success. At least, that's what the people in that snapshot thought.

If you had told her that one day she wouldn't remember her own name, that she'd be old and wrinkled, unable to even walk herself outside to talk with the strangers who claim to be her husband and son, well, she would have told you that you were insane.

And the thing that really bothered me, really depressed me is this: We ALL have that snapshot in time. That moment in time we look back to with fondness, thinking "Oh, to be there again..."

Some of us moreso than others. I have always been an incredibly nostalgiac person. No matter how well my life ever goes I am always looking at the past with regret. The grass WAS always greener on the other side in my mind.

And that pushes me to wonder--why do we try to celebrate growing old? The "Golden Years". There's nothing to celebrate there. Is it because the alternative is too depressing? To actually confront the fact that getting old is nothing but losing your physical and mental facilities while remembering what you used to be capable of...is that too much to bear?

See...I totally get why people latch onto religion. For the hope of it, because there's so little to hope for once you get old.

Unfortunately for me, I don't buy any of the religion stuff. Way too many holes in it.

But I still have hope. Hope that I'll die relatively young. And I hope this brightened your day a little. Cheers.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Family Taste

My family has no taste. I've known it for a while.

I told my brother he had to see this hysterical movie called "Ed Wood" when it came out. So he and my parents sat down and watched it one night, and I still get crap about it from them. "What's so funny about a transvestite?" they asked me.

I could only shake my head.

More recently I had told my brother about "Children of Men". I thought it was one of the best movies I'd seen in a while. Some amazingly-choreographed cinematography and a fascinating storyline(if somewhat swiped from the comic book "Y: The Last Man").

He apparently sat down to watch it with my parents, and again, I'm getting crap for it. "What did you like about that movie?" he asked me. Both my mom and dad shook their head at me and said they're not taking any more recommendations from me.

What can you do? They're family, so I can't exactly disown them...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let's Hate Me

Prejudice. Maybe I am.

I own the shirt that says: "I'm not prejudiced. I hate everyone equally."

And really, it's true. I have a lot of hate.

So what happens is this: Let's say I don't like someone. Let's say they're black. I may think "Nigger." (Yeah, I saw you flinch at the word--why is it that a word can hold so much power over everyone?)

Anyway--it's not like I'm thinking ALL black people are "niggers". What's really going on is that I've used whatever observation I have of the person to denigrate him. I know that "nigger" is derogatory for black men.

If he was Asian I could think "Chink". If he were overweight I could think "Fatty". If he were gay I could think "Fudgepacker". If he were Spanish I could think "Spic". You get the idea, right?

It's using whatever you know about the person as ammunition, and of course, their appearance is always number one. Is that prejudice?

It's not like I HATE a race of people. There are just certain ones I hate, so I then take whatever hateful word I can find that's applicable.

I'm not saying it's a good thing. Just wondering what you think.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More Boring Filmmaker Talk

Okay, let's talk about a specific problem encountered by low/no-budget productions that you don't encounter when you have money to burn(ala a studio production).

I'm moving forward with "Wounded Creature". Assuming I can shoot it pretty cheap(which is the only way I would shoot it, given its experimental nature), it appears that my investors are ready and willing to jump back in. Script is more or less done(there may be some minor additions), and I've begun working on a budget, script breakdown and shooting script.

So, in the real world I can find the location I'm going to shoot the scenes at and then do a shooting script. But in reality, I'm trying to break down a script into individual shots without even seeing any of the locations.

For instance: In my mind the house is set up so the kitchen is toward the back of the house, the living room up near the front door. A woman at the front door nearly faints, and someone helps her to a nearby couch.

How exactly do you design the angles for the shots when you don't know where the couch is going to be? If it will even be in sight of the front door? There are too many specifics in the shooting script, where I have nothing but an idea of the house in my mind.

If I'm a studio I can send out a location scout to find that house, or even better, just build a studio home--then I don't have to worry about noise or anything during the takes. High ceilings for easy lighting. Smooth floors for easy dollying.

But I'm not a studio. So here I am banging my head against a wall trying to do the shooting script to an imaginary location.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Weight Update

Now, I haven't mentioned my weight or my diet in like a month. Typically, that would mean my will collapsed and I fell off the wagon, so to speak.

Not so. I'm taking it easy, though. My current version still has me drinking four shakes, but I also eat some chicken fingers or fish sticks for dinner. Other small cheats. I'm still losing weight, but slower. The good news is, I could stay on this current version pretty much forever, and the weight still falls off.

Starting Weight: 228 Current Weight: 196.5

Destination: 180

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sexist Post #258

So the other day my wife came home and said she saw a truck she wanted. A Ford Explorer.

After I woke up she declared she had brought it home for me to look at, and she wanted me to fill out a credit app so the guy could run my credit and see what kind of deal he could make us.

I was like, "Huh?"

I knew she wanted a new truck--hers is pretty run down. The CD player doesn't work anymore. The windows are pretty erratic. It overheats during the summer, and the AC is mildly cool at best.

She tells me she's already talked to the guy, and blah blah blah he gave me a really good deal blah blah blah and she really loves the truck.

Lesson 1: Women can't bargain for shit. A woman who says she got a good deal from a car salesman is a woman who doesn't know her asshole from her elbow, pardon my french. Car salesman are just like car mechanics in that respect. They see a lady come in and they know it's easy-ripoff time.

So the first thing I do is tell my wife to go look at other trucks. See what other deals are out there. Then I search on the internet. I find the exact truck(VIN and all) that she wants to buy, and the internet price is over $300 cheaper than the lowered price the salesman gave her.

I print that out. After looking at a bunch of other trucks my wife comes back and tells me she saw nothing she liked as much as the other truck. No big surprise. Once she sets her mind to something, it's not going to change. But I like her to put in the work.

I tell her we'll go up and talk to the salesman, but that I will walk at the first sign of chicanery.

At the dealership I can see instantly that the car salesman is not happy to see me with the wife, especially since I have a folder full of papers that he can't see. What he can see when I open it is the 10 business cards of other car dealers that I have taped to the side to show him we've been elsewhere and will certainly go elsewhere.

I give him the internet paper with the lower price for the truck. I tell him that's what I'm willing to pay. I tell him what I want for the trade in. I tell him if he can do that, and there are no further costs tacked on, and he can honor the percentage rate, we'll leave with the truck. Otherwise we'll just leave.

He gives the usual spiel about "checking with my boss", then comes back. He's very nervous with me. He gets very talky about stupid stuff. His wife. His kids. He has pictures of them turned conspicuously outward toward us customers. "See, I'm a family man! You can trust me," they say.

He says they can do everything except the trade in has to be $200 cheaper than I want. It's okay, because it's exactly $200 more than I thought we'd get. I act like I'm thinking it over and then say, "OK, let's get started on the paperwork."

He tries to get me to sign something that says they collect information from me and they may share it with other parties as allowed by law. I refuse to sign it. He acts like I can't do that(because no one typically does), but in the end they relent. I write REFUSED on the paper and they take it.

They try to get me to sign a bunch of stuff, which I also refuse until they generate the deal papers showing every fee involved. They want to make you feel like you've already gone through with the deal so that by the time you get to the paperwork you'll sign them no matter what they say.

By the time we leave I get the impression they're happy to see me leave. And that's perfect. That's just the way it should be.

And the wife is happy because she has a new truck, and it's the spiffy Eddie Bauer version with the bells and whistles(6-CD changer! whoopee!).

Me, I'm thinking it's big enough to haul a lot of movie equipment in...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Me In L.A.

Well, I've been trying to get the lead actress in FOC2 back here to do her looping, but it's not working out.

My last resort is flying out there myself to supervise the looping, so that's what I'm going to do. I've never been to California, and frankly I would have liked to go simply as a vacation, but it looks like I'm finally gonna see the west coast for myself.

Hopefully the looping will only take the one day, and I'll have Sunday and Monday day to look around and meet up with some of my LA buds that I haven't seen in a while.

Unless the plane crashes. Then, all of my problems are solved.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grindhouse With John Waters

Saw a preview of Grindhouse tonight--John Waters was there, which was funny. I figured he would have been able to catch an earlier preview, but I guess not.

The flick is like this: Rodriguez part was good, better than I expected, but does go way over the top at the end. The Tarantino part was horrible. A half-hour movie extended to 90 minutes. The first 40 minutes are excruciatingly slow.

It's like the guy's in love with his own dialogue, and it just goes on and on, and it's just some of the most drab and uninteresting conversation you will ever hear, absent of any of the clever Tarantino-ism's you've come to expect.

Maybe it was his joke, like "Hey--check out how bad the 70's movies' dialogue was!". If so, the joke goes on WAAAAAAY too long. I almost fell asleep.

There is a way cool car chase scene with shots of "How'd they do that?" moments with the stuntwoman hanging on to the car--shots that are wide enough you can see the cars are really ramming each other, and the stunt woman is sliding all over the place on the hood of the car.

So unless she was composited onto the hood(which would have been VERY well done) or they digitally took out the safety wires, I'm not sure how they did it.

The previews for coming attractions were great. But when did the whole "beheaded while getting a blowjob" shot come back into style? When I wrote one into FOC2 I hadn't seen one in a LOOOOONG time, and now in the span of three weeks have seen two(Grindhouse, BTM: Rise of Leslie Vernon).

When FOC2 comes out it's gonna look like I'm trying to ride the bandwagon. I'm glad I showed the scene at Fango, so some people will know I'm not.


Anyway, if you go see the flick, stay through the previews between, then I advise taking off. Watch Tarantino's half when it comes out on DVD.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Biker

I'm driving home today and I notice that there's a fucking biker on the road making all of us cars swerve around him.

Yes, I'm irked. It's a road. It's for driving cars. But the thing that really got me angry?

There's a bike trail literally(and I DO mean literally) twenty feet to the right, running DEAD PARALLEL to the road we are driving on. A BIKE TRAIL. FOR RIDING BIKES.

Honest, I thought very seriously about swerving into him. There isn't a judge(who owns a car) in the state of Maryland who'd convict me. I'd say, "Your Honor, I didn't mean to hit him. I was just trying to nudge him in the direction of the bike trail that he should have been on."

I mean...who could blame me?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jericho

This show has very quietly moved up my Tivo list. When it first started I was afraid it was going to be a show about "Who dropped the bombs?" and they'd space out the mystery of that forever, ala Lost's "What's the island?" mystery*.

Weird thing is, they've given you a few hints, but that's really not what's driving the show anymore. The show is now: How are these people going to survive in this new world? And they're people you care about.

A lot of three dimensional characters, a large dose of end-of-the-world madness, and you have a recipe for a show I've really grown to enjoy. (and the wife too)

Here's hoping it gets picked up for season 2.

*Speaking of Lost, I thought the episode this week was really very good. Clever use of flashbacks that led to a very interesting and macabre ending that I really didn't see coming(if that's the way they really end it...)