September 29, 2010

I'm back in Chicago, and the first thing I notice is that it smells. Oh, Canada...
There is seriously not a single cherry coke in all of Edmonton (aka Jerry coke).
"They took a SWORD, and they put it in my ELBOW." This video wins.

Edmonton Days 3 & 4

I just e-checked into my returning flight, which means home is near. With my trip to Edmonton and my work on Munger Road I've spent 35 of the last 40 days sleeping in a hotel.

I grew forgetful very quickly about taking pictures on this trip, mostly because an iPhone just isn't an ideal photo-taking device. In fact, it can be incredibly annoying. Still, a few random photos found their way onto my hard drive. Before those, I'd like to talk about the Forget Me Not screening, since that was the whole reason I came here.

The folks at EIFF have been downright incredible, and despite my reservations about a block of shorts screening at 12:10pm, the theatre had at least 200 eager guests. EIFF Festival Director Kerrie Long has a few brain children running loose at the festival, one of which is the "Lunchbox Shorts" hour during each week day. A 45 minute program of shorts at 12:10 to 12:55, plus a "bag lunch" of sandwiches, drinks, and dessert, for the downtown business crowd. Amazingly, it's popular and very lucrative for the festival. For that, I am grateful.

Today the Festival arranged to have me driven from my hotel to the screening, and as one of the few attending short filmmakers, gave me a 10 minute window prior to the films to yammer on about myself and the film. People's reactions were great both before, during, and after the film (the Edmonton Film Commissioner even had a few nice things to say), and as painfully expensive as this trip has been, I wouldn't trade it for anything. In fact, despite spending my youth openly mocking Canada as a whole, I'm pretty sure I love it now, and Edmonton in particular. The city is a bastion of artistic and intellectual integrity in what is casually referred to as "the Texas of Canada." They all deserve more visitors and supporters here.

I also met a fellow filmmaker named Amar Chebib, a Canadian/Kuwaiti who shot a short film in an arabic district of Paris called "La Boucher" ("The Butcher"). The movie was great, and we ended up spending most of the day watching movies and eating food together. In fact, due to scheduling crap there was no one to host the Q&A for his film, so I did it. We basically just conversed in front of people for ten minutes, because audience members are always bashful at those things.

Tomorrow, I'll give a little run-down of the films I saw (in addition to snapping a photo of Rexall Stadium for my hockey-loving cousin). For now, a few pictures:

A snack everyone in Edmonton pushed on me (but tastes like Shitty Cheetos)
 Albacore Tuna salad at Lazia, which doesn't hold a candle to the Ahi Tuna salad at the Atwood...
Hotel Room #2 at the Metterra on Whyte. It's quite fancy. Also, two bed again?
Hotel #2 has a full patio, just for me! Fancy Shmancy!
Fancy Bathroom at Hotel #2, with glass shower stall like in "The Specialist," minus naked Sly Stallone

September 28, 2010

Finally screened "Forget Me Not" at the EIFF. Response was even better than expected. They made room for an impromptu Q&A for me, hoorah!
Strange thing about Canada: I forgot they have $1 and $2 coins, and just now realized my "pocket change" equals $21.50.

September 27, 2010

Moved to Hotel #2 of my Edmonton trip, and eating a yummy lunch before watching a batch of Spanish shorts.

September 26, 2010

Should have packed a tie... I think I'm being interviewed tomorrow? Good thing I'm at the second largest shopping mall in the world!!!!!!
Just saw "The Rivals," pretty classic sports documentary, a little rough around the edges, but worth the watch.

Edmonton Day Two.

Saturday was relatively quiet. I slept off a wine hangover from Friday's after-party, and realized that the first film I wanted to see didn't start until 5pm.
After party on Friday, where I know 0 people. I was also under dressed.
I spent the first part of Saturday afternoon in search of wireless internet, then the rest wandering around Edmonton's gigantic City Centre mall. As a visitor, I felt it was my duty. I could then say with reasonable authority that malls are in fact stupid, American or otherwise. Edmontonians don't seem particularly in love with the mall, either. It was mostly full of teenagers and people with no taste.

The rest of Saturday I spent watching movies and chatting with the folks who work for the film festival. In chronological order:

Kerrie Long: Festival coordinator, and lover of short films. She's been in charge for four years, and seems to share conceptual/programming responsibilities with a fellow named Guy Lavellee (The most French Canadian name I've ever heard, but he sounds like he's from Cleveland). I was using my laptop outside the Festival theatre area, and upon passing me, she invited me into the nearby Elephant & Castle (A sponsor of the fest, and general place for hanging out between shows). She apologized for not being able to "offer" more to short filmmakers who visit the festival, all while buying me a beer, letting me into any film I want free of charge, and putting me up in a swanky hotel for two of my five nights. I thought, "next year, it'd better be TWO beers."

Made In Dagenham: A surprise of a film, which had me misty eyed through the entire second half. Not in a Dancer In the Dark kind of way, but in a Mr. Holland's Opus kind of way. It's a great ensemble, but Sally Hawkins definitely had a chance to shine the most. It's the story of a group of female Ford factory workers in Britain in the late 60's, who are re-classified as "unskilled labor" in order to cut their wages. The result of which sparks a women's labor rights movement across most industrialized nations. It's a pretty cool story, though the trailer makes it look really cheese-ball. [Link]

Gisela: A very friendly volunteer at the festival, who chatted with me for awhile between shows. She also gets brownie points because she helped make room for my film's promotional post cards on the big "promo table." She is German-born, but spent several years in Ireland, and now travels across the world volunteering at film festivals. Her story sounds insane (in a charming way), but you can read about it in her own words at her blog: Life Is A Festival!

Let Me In: An understandably controversial remake of a very recent and successful European thriller (Let The Right One In). The original is probably one of my favorite thrillers of the last decade, so I went in skeptical, but not cynical. Honestly, it was incredibly good. No hint of American Twilight fever, no watering down of the two kids' darker sides, and no softening of the torment that the central characters endure on a daily basis. It made enough changes to satisfy my desire to see something "new," but keeps enough to capture every bit of spirit and tone from the original. In light of the rash of J-Horror remakes that were nearly all pointless and bad, consider this closer to The Ring than The Grudge. Remake or not, the cast, the attention to detail, and the script were all handled masterfully. The two lead kids alone make this movie unbelievably fun to watch. I found out later that the director (Matt Reeves) last helmed Cloverfield, which was a second surprise, because I didn't really care for that movie. Let Me In means I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever he does next. [Link]

September 25, 2010

Edmonton Day One

Now that I found a place with decent wireless (Thanks Healthfare!) I can post evidence of my travels.

It began with me missing my flight, of course. I've flown maybe 3 times in my life, and apparently never got the memo that when they say a flight departs at 10:02am, they mean 9:47. Rather, the flight sits there for 15 minutes while you watch it, unable to get on because they close the doors early. To nurse my sorrows, I ordered some mildly edible airport food.
Fake 1950's cuisine since 1986. Now available in Qatar! 
This was my plane, which I had to board from the ground (?), further illustrating that I was headed to a strange place. That place is called Canada by the locals.
Hop on board, eh?
I arrived, passed through customs, and realized that I had spent my entire trip-planning phase assuming I could use my iPhone to navigate. Wrong, wrong wrong. Data roaming costs $40 a megabyte. Without access to google, email, or a single useful phone number, I had to find a hotel who's name I had forgotten. My taxi driver was mercifully tolerant.

I resorted to asking strangers for directions. I managed to get 1) from the airport, 2) to the film festival production offices to pick up my badge:
My ticket to fancy parties
3) from one side of Edmonton to the other (about 4 or 5 miles- ahem, 8 kilometers) via this insanely beautiful river valley:
Edmonton has the largest park of any city in the world...
...yet all anyone knows about this place is the "big mall."
4) and then over to the hotel, where I have an extra bed for some reason.
Not pictured: full stove, full fridge, microwave, tea kettle, pots and pans, strainer. WTF?
It only took 6 hours.

I then watched the opening night film (Score! A Hockey Musical), which was actually really awesome despite the film's terrible poster art. It was kind of like Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog, but with Hockey. It was also really, really Canadian, but in a charming way.

Following that I got incredibly drunk on Malbec at the opening night gala, stumbled back to my hotel room, and slept for 12 hours. The End.

September 24, 2010

I'm restricted to wi-fi for pretty much the whole time in Canada, as roaming charges on an iPhone require one to be a millionaire.

September 23, 2010

Festival #6.

"Forget Me Not" is among 5 short films that may get a slot in this year's final selection at Ellensburg in Washington State.... The trick is, only the top voted film gets selected. They've set up an online screening option (here at Indieflix), where people have one week to watch the films and vote for their favorites...

It goes without saying that I want "Forget Me Not" to be selected, so I'll be begging, pleading, and annoying every person I know on earth to sign up at Indieflix and vote. For the lazy among us, signing up takes about 10 seconds and doesn't even require an email confirmation as far as I'm aware.

Plus, it's a chance for people to see the movie who haven't yet!

Please. Go. Vote.

September 22, 2010

This Must Be The Place.

At long last, my website is going live. This also coincides with the first public screenings of my film, "Forget Me Not." For the first time ever, many random strangers across North America will be subjected to stuff that I've made.

They may even stumble across this website. They may even revisit. But, as everyone knows, websites aren't legitimate until people have arguments in their comments section.

I would be lying If I said I fully understood how to utilize the internet as an artistic and commercial tool... and I don't like lying. I know that I like to talk to people, and this seems like a good way to go about it. Blogging is an uphill battle, though. Facebook and RSS feed aggregators are insidiously compelling outlets, but somewhere in this vast network, someone has to be generating actual content in their own space. Right? (Right?!)

Information and art appear more democratic to me in recent years, thanks to these glorious Tubes. Similar to the advent of the Blockbuster era in the 70's, the early 21st century is posing some interesting changes and problems for the film industry. All the while, my peers and I are trying to make a living at this. We'll see where the chips fall! In the mean time, I'll keep making things.

As a founding member of the Nintendo Generation, I hereby swear to start understanding Creative Commons licensing, Internet distribution, and global markets before my films die of asphyxiation.

Here goes nothing!

September 21, 2010

Business cards, plane ticket, hotel room, passport, film festival movie passes: check. I think I'm ready for Edmonton on Friday.

September 20, 2010

"Priest" (synopsis): Good actors sign on to a movie that looks even shittier than "Legion."

September 19, 2010

Doing returns and wrap out today for the "Munger Road" art department. It's like shopping in reverse!

September 18, 2010

Making movies is like going away to summer camp. This one even included Mosquitos.
Just wrapped "Munger Road," the first feature I've worked on from start to finish. All I can think about is sleeping.

September 17, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 19: it's a little musty in the barn.
Munger Road Photo Journal 19: it's a little musty in the barn.

September 16, 2010

Today is gonna go better than yesterday. I know this because we're buying more dulling spray.

September 15, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 18: hangin' out under a tarp with the Red. Mostly cooperative weather thus far.
Munger Road Photo Journal 18: hangin' out under a tarp with the Red. Mostly cooperative weather thus far.
Just heard that "Forget Me Not" was accepted into the Flint Film Festival in Michigan. That makes 5... Crazy!
Using Q-Tips and 20 minutes to make a fake handprint on a car window's fake fog. Result: what you can do in 2 seconds with real fog. FML.

September 14, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 17: The barn. Not pictured: 20 year's worth of hay, dirt, spiders, and pig shit.
Munger Road Photo Journal 17: The barn. Not pictured: 20 year's worth of hay, dirt, spiders, and pig shit.

September 13, 2010

OkTrends is the best blog ever. This month's topic: racial stereotypes.
Munger Road Photo Journal 16: all the bugs here are bigger, but this moth was the nicest
Munger Road Photo Journal 16: all the bugs here are bigger, but this moth was the nicest

September 12, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 15: surprising amount of trial and error to make fake window fog
Munger Road Photo Journal 15: surprising amount of trial and error to make fake window fog

September 11, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 14: laundry + red shop towel + white long underwear = pink long underwear
Munger Road Photo Journal 14: laundry + red shop towel + white long underwear = pink long underwear
Using a laundromat in St. Charles to get the grime and bug spray out of my clothes. It makes me miss the Fun Wash Lavandaria in Pilsen.

September 10, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 13: This spider web was the size of a postage stamp
Munger Road Photo Journal 12: scene inside a drug store

September 8, 2010

Spent yesterday and all morning making a fake tunnel look like it was 140 years old. Shooting there today.

September 7, 2010

Spent two days with my art crew sanitizing and prepping an abandoned farm house. We wore respirators and head lamps. Filming there today.

September 6, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 11: Ellie's Creepy Doll

September 4, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal 10: Ball room at the Hotel Baker
Munger Road Photo Journal #9: Fun With Video Assist
Munger Road Photo Journal #9: Fun With Video Assist

September 3, 2010

Munger Road Photo Journal #8: Armorer teaching the actors to load shotguns on set
Munger Road Photo Journal #8: Armorer teaching the actors to load shotguns on set

September 2, 2010

14 hour overnight, and the only thing open at 6am in St. Charles is IHOP. Coincidence, or Serendipity?