Archive for the ‘Regional Film’ Category

SXSW Observations, Pt 1

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

The Year SXSW Got Big. While I don’t agree with David Lowery that it’s (yet) in danger of becoming Sundance, attendance swelled this year. The growing pains were sometimes apparent, especially with sell-outs and long lines.

From my perspective, I think sell out screenings are good, both for the fest and for the filmmakers. But more than a few noteworthy films were only programmed once during the main festival (Fri – Tues) and others were booked at venues that were far too small for the demand. In previous years, these issues wouldn’t have been a problem. This year, though, even with a Gold Badge, if one hoped to attend a screening it meant standing in line for more than an hour. Needless to say, all that time spent in line cut down on the films one could see. I took it in stride, in part because my badge was complimentary for moderating the Cinematography for Improv panel. It wasn’t hard, however, to hear the grumbling of others standing in line. As long as I’ve been attending, SXSW has been well-run, so I’m hoping that this is just a hiccup and I’m optimistic that festival organizers are looking for solutions for next year.

Two Highlights. Of the films I did get to see, the highlights were Justin Molotnikov’s Crying With Laughter and Jukka Karkkainen’s The Living Room of the Nation, both of which stand a good chance of making my Top 20 list at year’s end. The former is a Scottish thriller set against the backdrop of stand-up comedy. The centerpiece of the film is a tour-de-force performance by Stephen McCole. Living Room, on the other hand, is a deadpan chronicle of the lives of ordinary Finnish citizens in their homes. Shot with an almost entirely static camera, the film has a mix of comedy and desperation that is hard to shake.

A Few Disappointments. When I come to SXSW I especially seek out the regionally-produced independent narrative films. In the past this has been, for me at least, one of SXSW’s most distinctive areas. This year the handful I caught were somewhat disappointing. My policy on this blog is not to write negative reviews — particularly for small movies that need all the help they can get just to be noticed by audiences — so I won’t name names. That said, I was surprised that the low points of the festival were all centered in this area. Perhaps it was just an off year, or maybe I just saw the wrong films?

Did I mention I missed a lot of films? With a fest this big, it’s easy to miss movies you really want to see and this year I missed more movies than I saw. I missed some, as previously mentioned, because of sell-outs. Others I missed because of time conflicts with other movies, or conflicts with my panel. Regardless of the reason, here are some films I’ll be eager to see in the coming year: Audrey the Trainwreck,Cold Weather, And Everything is Going Fine, Myth of the American Sleepover, Lovers of Hate, Tiny Furniture, and World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements. That’s a lot to look forward to.

Cinematography for Improvisation: Post-Panel Links

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The Cinematography for Improvisation panel that I moderated was a blast — and, while I felt like it was a success, the one hour we had to dig in flew by. I personally could have listened to Andrew Reed, Allison Bohl, and Justin Molotnikov talk shop for another couple of hours. There were easily 100 people in the crowd on a Monday afternoon and the feedback after the panel was very positive.

Here are the links, as promised:

Justin Molotnikov

 

Crying With Laughter — Justin showed clips from this film, which had its North American Premiere at SXSW.

Synchronicity Films is Claire Mundell and Justin Molotnikov’s production company. For those of you that attended the panel, Claire sat near the front of the room and shared some thoughts from the audience.

Finally, the improv film webisodes from the Wickerman Music festival that Justin briefly mentioned can be found at www.wickerman.tv.

Allison Bohl

“Blessed Be, Honey Bee” — This is the music video that we saw behind-the-scenes stills for, but which we didn’t have a chance to screen during the panel. Allison directed and shot this video.

Allison’s reel is also on Vimeo. The reel features, among other things, selected shots/scenes from “People of Earth” the feature that Allison showed a clip from on the panel.

I Always Do My Collars First – website for Allison’s first documentary

Andrew Reed

Quiet City — Andrew showed a clip from this film, which had its World Premiere at SXSW in 2007.

Cold Weather is the new film by Aaron Katz, shot by Andrew Reed. The trailer can be found here.

Paul Harrill (moderator)

Obviously, if you are here, you have found my blog. Information about my own work as a filmmaker can be found here.

Cinematography for Improvisation – SXSW 2010 Panel

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010


If you’ve not heard already, I’m happy to announce that the panel that I proposed for South by Southwest 2010, Cinematography for Improvisation — Lighting the Unknown, was selected. Thanks to everyone who voted in support of the idea via SXSW’s PanelPicker!

Though this will be my third SXSW as a panelist/moderator, this was the first time that I’ve ever proposed a panel. Selecting the panelists was a collaboration between me and the SXSW organizers, especially Jarod Neece. I’m very excited about the people we’ve got on board to tackle the subject. If you’re at SXSW, check out the panel on Monday, March 15 @ 2pm.

Panelists/bios:

Allison Bohl
Allison Bohl makes movies with a natural look and creative touch. With experience in documentaries, experimental films, and features, she has become known for capturing beautiful images with minimal equipment. She is based in South Louisiana, but has worked internationally.

Andrew Reed
Andrew Reed is the cinematographer of the feature films Cold Water (SXSW ’10) and Quiet City (SXSW ’07), both written and directed by Aaron Katz.

Justin Molotnikov
Justin Molotnikov is the writer/director of the feature film Crying With Laughter (SXSW ’10).

Here are some clips of their work:

Gina, An Actress, Age 29 on The Auteurs

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

For some time I’ve debated putting my short films online. My work is often quiet, has relaxed pacing, and it can be dialogue heavy. That, combined with the fact that some of my films are over 20 minutes probably makes at least some of my work not the best candidate for online viewing.

I’ve been impressed, though, with what The Auteurs is doing with online video. Their catalog caters to cinephiles, and their site’s design and interface encourages people to pay attention to the videos they’re watching. So I’m happy to say that my short film Gina, An Actress, Age 29, was recently selected for the site. It’s just gone “live”, and the timing is fitting, as the film premiered around this time of year in 2001, at Sundance.

 


Click on the image to view Gina, An Actress, Age 29 on The Auteurs

For now, the film is free for the first 1000 viewers. Spread the word, tell your friends, and become a fan of it if you like.

One way or another, if you do watch it, I hope you enjoy it!

Take the Survey: 50 States, 50 Filmmakers

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The United States of America


I’ve been looking over Ted Hope’s blog lately and one thing he keeps returning to is the idea that in order for cinema to be truly free (i.e., liberated), we have to do our part to help film culture. I agree.

That’s part of what this blog has always been about. One of the reasons I began this blog was to champion filmmakers working regionally.

But now I’d like to undertake a concrete project specifically dedicated to spotlighting filmmakers that live around the country. To do that I need your help. Not a lot of help, mind you — just a few minutes.

I’m calling this undertaking 50 States, 50 Filmmakers.

It will probably end up being a series of discussions with filmmakers working around the country. I hope to talk with others about why they live and work where they do, the challenges and opportunities they face, the resources available to them, and how they support their work. Ideally, these discussions will include links that allow you to watch or purchase their work. And I’d like to do one for each state, in case the title didn’t tip you off.

So, to restate, to do this project completely, I need your help.

I want you to tell me who you think is living and making interesting films outside of New York or Los Angeles. The films can be feature films, documentaries, or short experimental works. I don’t care. “Interesting” and “not-New-York-or-Los-Angeles” is all I care about.

If you want to nominate a filmmaking team or filmmaking collective, that’s cool. I’m open to doing a few historical surveys, too, so if you prefer to nominate someone deceased (say, Eagle Pennell of Texas or Colorado’s Stan Brakhage), go for it. I just want some interesting ideas.

So, without further ado, CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY.

Don’t know 50 filmmakers in 50 states? That’s okay. I don’t either. That’s why I’m doing the survey — to fill in some blanks and to get some good ideas for this thing. Just take the survey and give suggestions where you can. You don’t have to provide nominations for all 50 states.

And please pass this along to your friends. I’d like as many people throwing out ideas as possible. I’m going to leave this post up for a couple of weeks, after which I’ll start compiling replies.

Again, here’s the link to the survey.