It Happened One Night at A World of Film

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A new article I wrote for A World of Film, this time I tackle the Frank Capra classic “It Happened One Night” – among the earliest of “road trip” movies.

[reblogged from A World of Film]

… The atmosphere on set was tense as Gable and Colbert disapproved of the material, citing the script aslow quality. It is purported that when Gable first arrived to set, he told Capra, “Let’s get this over with”, making it clear how unhappy he was to have been loaned out for this “inferior” project. Gable and Colbert took a liking to one another through their common dissatisfaction with the script and only lightened after Capra suggested that Gable play occasional pranks on her.

Although she got along well with Gable, Colbert continued to demonstrate her displeasure while on set. She is said to have had many tantrums, largely motivated by her deep seeded hatred towards Capra. She balked at the idea of hiking up her skirt to entice passing drivers to give her a ride, citing that it was “beneath her”. Capra responded by introducing Colbert to her double, a chorus girl. Upon seeing her legs, a disgruntled Colbert changed her mind and agreed to do the scene without a double. Knowing that Colbert was perfect for the part, Capra took it all in stride, believing that the headache would pay off in the long run…. (read more at A World of Film)

[reblogged from A World of Film]

 

 

No Budget Filmmaking

Indie Filmmaking
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[Originally Published on Renegade Cinema & re-edited for Film Anthropology]

No/Low budget independent filmmaking is a necessity for most filmmakers who want to produce work that will help break them and their friends into the film business, or at least, get recognized by what’s left of the film business. Robert Rodriguez, the king of no budget cinema and the master professor on how to avoid spending money on your indie project even goes as far as to feature a “Ten Minute Film School” on the DVD release of his breakthrough film El Mariachi. The audio commentary in and of itself is one example after another on how to cut costs down to zilch. Although I am a film school graduate, the Rodriguez approach has always been far more helpful and yielded far more positive results than the ins and outs I had been taught at VFS. I’m not alone.

There has always been a basic system in place, a journey so to speak, that every filmmaker attempts to traverse: a filmmaker gets a bunch of people together, all with different talents and interests and all of them go out and make a movie. This is one of the hardest activities in the world to engage in because a lot of these kinds of projects are achieved through trial and error and generally go against the grain of society’s normal functions. Those with the knowledge and experience to make life a little easier for these cats only work for financial compensation. More on that later. So let’s say that the movie does find its way to completion. That movie enters the festival circuit and wins a few awards or at the very least gets an honorable mention, which in this day and age is considered an award in and of itself. This recognition is not lost upon distributors and soon the film gets picked up and everyone wins. Sure it’s an outdated, bullshit system that doesn’t really work as much as it used to, but the route is still possible and still attempted by many independent filmmakers.

It would seem that the production culture of some of these smaller films have driven the “professional” and “working” freelance community to the point where there is now an unofficial and unannounced war against these no/low budget filmmakers.  It would seem that, at least in the big cities, anywhere a filmmaker can go to find help with his or her project is being taken over by freelancers who are crying fowl, engaging in vicious attacks against the filmmakers. An example of this is the decreasingly popular website Craigslist,  where both no budget and low budget filmmakers can list their projects and production needs for any and all to respond to. CL even offers the option to list an ad as “Pay” or “No Pay”. It would seem that some of these pay only freelancers are sick and tired of sifting through the hundreds of no-budget calls for crew and the CL website has unofficially developed into a sort of anti-no-budget zone.

New Jersey filmmaker Chris Notarile said, “I believe that while it is improper to abuse or take advantage of free labor, a filmmaker should not be penalized for being resourceful and making a no budget film with willing participants.” Notarile went on to say, “If we just blindly crack down on all no budget productions, the only people we hurt are ourselves and our own community.” Notarile is correct. Without an outlet for filmmakers to inform the community that they are making a project and that they have a need for various talents, the very existence of independent filmmaking is threatened. Of course there are some that would welcome this depletion of projects from the pipeline. Another crewing website, Mandy.com, no longer allows for the listing of No Pay productions at all, unless it’s a short or student film.

Beanie Barnes for Salon.com, pretentiously wrote an article, labeling independent film as America’s “next Wal-Mart”, arguing that there needs to be less independent film made for the entire film industry to survive. “Anyone who says we need more of this, without offering any solution to make it better, is part of the problem.” Barnes wrote. “Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.” For Filmmaker Magazine, John Yost tackled the subject of low/no budget indie filmmaking by taking on the no pay aspect, in his article The Microbudget Conversation, Unpaid Crew vs Underpaid Crew. Yost wrote, “It’s amazing how much of a difference even $50/day will make to some of us. Just knowing we’re not working for free goes a long way in making us more likely to give our best effort to some poor, inexperienced, yet passionate filmmaker. ” While there is a sort of wisdom and logic behind this thinking, and a great deal of collective examples of this, across many industries, this is only a fraction of the truth. In my experience and in the experience of others I’ve collaborated with, the animosity from crew members who weren’t my friends previous to the project, were nearly identical in both no pay and low pay productions. The common mentality with these specific crew members who were getting paid x amount a day was that they felt they were getting stiffed, regardless of the amount. They’ll always think you can afford to give them a little more and that’s problematic when there are so many other expenses on these projects than payroll. Going back to some of Robert Rodriguez’s comments on the El Mariachi commentary, “once you start spending money you’ll never stop” and this is absolutely true.

The other side of this is a much more serious problem. So many filmmakers are not capable of raising what the freelance collective would consider “proper financing” for their projects and some of these worker bees, while incredibly talented, are a bit sociopathic about this reality, insisting that if you can’t pay everyone to help you make the film then you shouldn’t make it at all. This line of thinking is incredibly dangerous, both to film and the art world as a whole. Many filmmakers take their projects very personally and some that I have talked to have no interest in having people on board their projects who’s dedication to the film is only commensurate with the capacity of a paycheck, or exists only when a paycheck exists. No money = no passion is not something that sits right. “You can pay a person to do anything” says one independent filmmaker who asked to remain anonymous, “anything goes, if the price is right. There’s something different about films made by people who are engaged in the project for reasons other than what they can get from it or whether or not it gets picked up.”

While I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of understanding and demystifying film through making films and writing about film, I have no intention of surrounding myself with people who’s hearts aren’t in the right place. With that said, I agree with both sides of the aisle because I am both an indie filmmaker and a freelance editor. How do you establish a peaceful balance with both sides when freelance film and video makers and pseudo journalists are rising up against the very existence of no and low budget filmmakers, even going as far as to relabel these cats as “bum filmmaker wannabees”, who also often become the victims of cyber bullying in the very forums where they post ads seeking out collaborators. How do you establish an acceptable balance when the hatred for one-another continues to grow. How do you establish a mutual understanding when these same freelancers are publishing media content like the spiteful and mean spirited video that has been gaining views on YouTube. It’s clear that a peaceful discussion among filmmakers and would be collaborators and service providers is desperately needed. Money is tight but we shouldn’t let that threaten the output of independent cinema. From a personal perspective, if I had waited until I had sufficient funds in place for all of my projects, I’d have no projects at all to speak about and I can safely claim that my truth is the truth for most filmmakers.

Bibliography: Salon | Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Magazine |

[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

FA Filmmaker Profile: Matthew Harrison

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Courtesy October Films

Matthew Harrison and Kevin Corrigan.

Recently Film Anthropology flew out to Los Angeles to interview filmmaker, artist and television director Matthew Harrison, about his life and career. From his roots in the New York underground art scene to his achievements at some of the world’s most influential film festivals, Matt Harrison tells all. He talks about starting out shooting super 8 as a child and winning his first award at the New York Downtown Film Festival, which encouraged him to bring up his game and how he went on to win the jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Matthew elaborates on working with Super 8, 16mm, his first union experience and how he came to work with Martin Scorsese on his feature studio picture Kicked In The Head.

Matthew’s film My Little Hollywood, which he shot in the mid-1990’s was recently completed and has spent the past year in the 2012 and 2013 festival circuit.

 

Direct Link URL: http://youtu.be/kZ-R3jufBss

Matthew’s Official Website: http://www.filmcrash.com/

About Filmmaker Profiles: This video is the first in a brand new incarnation of the Filmmaker Profiles series, a collection of interviews that Eric originally started at the Anthology Film Archives when he volunteered with the NewFilmmakers series.

The Indie Film Community

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Sometimes douchbags come out of nowhere and nearly destroy a truly good thing without an ounce of remorse for the damage they leave in their wake, for no other reason than political, financial or other unseen gain. For several years now I have made a conscious effort to build up the independent film community in New York by volunteering at various film festivals, interviewing filmmakers and essentially networking the hell out of the artists who live and work here. At its core, the goal has been to connect every single one of us in a way where we don’t have to function as strangers or fear each other’s success, which seems to be an unspoken part of film culture.  Filmmakers tend to treat their peers like they’re competition. Art is so drastically different, especially at the independent level, that it’s infuriating to think indie filmmakers are in competition with one another. I have applied this logic when working with film festivals, uniting many of them by introduction or bridging them together through programming.

This month, some of the festivals I’ve worked with to solidify their involvement in the indie film community have come under attack for no other reason than because they’re low budget and don’t have notable sponsorships.

indiewirescreenshotOn July 30th, IndieWire.com published an extremely venomous article written by borderline asshat and full on sociopath: JASON GUERRASIO.  It’s called “Is This Film Festival A Scam? Sometimes, It’s Not So Obvious“.  The title was changed the following day to “Can You Trust This Film Festival” after a notice was posted on the message board, by a lawyer citing that the title crosses the line from free speech to defamation.

I screened with MFF in 2012 and have been working with their founder, Philip J. Nelson for about a year to help with the branding of the festival and find new ways to build it as a service to the indie film community.  When I met Phil last year at the 6th annual festival, I gauged right away that he was a good man who believed in the future of independent film and wanted to be a part of many filmmakers’ successes. That is why, upon seeing Guerrasio’s ridiculous article, I flipped a lid. I initially responded to the article with a very well thought out comment that was four paragraphs long. It was polite and offered a very good argument to why the article is inappropriate and biased. The comment has since disappeared from the site.

My missing comment aside, I find Guerrasio’s article suspicious to say the least, mainly because this “journalist” managed to pinpoint the top most troublesome filmmakers of the past two years and tell their “horror” stories to the indie film world, only to do the entire indie film community a disservice.  It turns out, after some light investigation, that Jason is actually an employee at the Tribeca Film Institute, which as you all know, is an affiliate of the Tribeca Film Festival as well as Tribeca Cinemas.  This is important information for later.  The first part of the article I would like to comment on revolves around Mira Gibson, a rather young and somewhat naive filmmaker who made a movie called “Warfield“:

Article excerpt:

“It was a fucking nightmare.” That’s how Mira Gibson described the premiere of her film “Warfield” at the Manhattan Film Festival last year. Certain it wouldn’t be accepted at the New York Film Festival or Tribeca, the Brooklynite wanted to screen in the city and thought MFF would be a good fit. (Editor’s note: Manhattan Film Festival should not be confused with the Manhattan Short Film Festival, a completely separate organization.)

She submitted her film and entry fee through online service Withoutabox; when the film was accepted, Gibson hustled to put the final touches in post. About 10 weeks before the 2012 MFF, she sent “Warfield” in the form of a thumb drive, along with specs.

When her big night arrived, Gibson was anxious—and not because she was about to unveil a film that she’d been hyping for months to her agent, manager, family, friends, cast and crew. The venue wasn’t readymade for a movie premiere: That year, the festival was screening films at The Producer’s Club, a Times Square space more suited for theater work.

It proved to be an omen of things to come.

As the lights went down and the picture came up, Gibson was horrified. “It’s the wrong one!” she yelled out. Her first audience was watching the version she’d submitted for acceptance—a work-in-progress with no color or audio correction, no credits or the score.

I remember Gibson from the 2012 season. I remember her wigging out at her screening because she didn’t like the venue and felt embarrassed that it was being held at the Producer’s Club. This was the same venue I got to screen my film, Caroline of Virginia, and I had no complaints. My cast and family had no complaints either. In fact, none of the filmmakers that screened in my block had complaints, ‘nor did most of the filmmakers of the other blocks I sat in on. In 2012 I attended almost all of the screenings, between the first Sunday of the festival and the last and she was maybe one of two filmmakers who pitched a fit about the quality of the projection.  Phil responded by re-programming the film on another day at another venue, the Hunger College Lang Auditiorium.

This woman doesn't look too unhappy, judging by the tweet and the pic she attached.

This woman doesn’t look too unhappy, judging by the tweet and the pic she attached.

I had the pleasure of talking to Mira again, at her second screening. She was in a relatively good mood and told me she was “impressed” by the festival and by their response to the situation. I tried to talk to her about the film, but she didn’t seem to want to talk to me about it. Her film was about a child rapist getting let out of prison so I thought it warranted some sort of discussion on the social ramifications of the subject, but she didn’t seem to have the ammo to go there. It’s strange that she was so angry about not having a Q&A.

It should be noted that Mira responded to the article on the comments section, regarding her interview with Guerrasio.  Gibson responded to me directly, insisting that she did not remember me and that she had plenty of nice things to say about MFF but Guerrasio chose not to use them.  Her comment has also disappeared from the website.

Article Excerpt:

On the surface, the festival sounds like a hidden gem among the thousands. However, after seven years, its profile remains very low (although for its first four years, its name was Independent Features Film Festival). And all the filmmakers interviewed for this story — whether they enjoyed the festival or not—commented on its rampant disorganization, lack of communication and screening ineptitude.

Seems like the writer, who works for the organization that works side by side with the Tribeca Film Festival, is throwing words around the MFF name to discredit it and keep it from growing.  Festivals start small – you can’t expect a festival that doesn’t have Bobby DeNiro as its mascot, to operate on that level do you?  Seriously, it’s an INDIE FILM festival!  It’s small, it operates on a very tight, out of pocket budget and it has kept a low profile because that’s the intention of its founder.  Just because a festival is high profile, does not make it a good festival, at least, not for independent film.

Article excerpt:

L.A.-based filmmaker Timothy L. Anderson screened his debut feature, the Coolio-starring dark comedy “Two Hundred Thousand Dirty,” at the 2013 MFF. Only available to fly to town on the day of his screening, Anderson was having lunch with a friend in midtown and prepared to do a final social media blast about the premiere when he got a call from his AD that the location on their Screen Booker page suddenly changed from the East Village’s Quad Cinema to Hunter College on the Upper East Side.”I was never emailed or called at all,” said Anderson about the change.

Panic ensued: Unable to get in touch with his festival contact over the phone, Anderson rushed to the Quad for answers and found only volunteers and staff who had none. Anderson then spent two hours waiting in the lobby until Nelson showed up, who only explained that there were booking problems.

“We did postcards saying it was at the Quad and they were right next to him as we were talking,” said Anderson. “So no one at the festival saw these and saw they were wrong? My lead actor was at the opening night party, no one said anything to him about it. I told [Nelson], ‘If you walk to the Quad and find out the film is now uptown, you’re just going to go to a bar.’” With only three hours before his screening, Anderson suggested a shuttle service.

“There were such repeated instances of clusterfuck.” 

Philip went above and beyond to correct this mis-communication and initially I was appalled that the filmmaker had cooperated with the interviewer, until I had been informed, by the filmmaker, that Guerrasio had omitted a very important piece of information: the filmmaker never felt scammed, and still doesn’t.  Philip paid for limo rides to the Hunter College venue, out of his own pocket, to keep things on an even keel.

You can see Anderson’s response posted in the gallery at the bottom of this article as an un-edited screen shot.

SUBMISSIONS

As I stated before, I was a selected filmmaker at the 2012 film festival. Yes, I won an award. It might not mean much to the main stream film industry, but it sure the heck meant a lot to me and it still does. Someone liked my work enough to give me a screening and on top of that, a plaque. Call it ego, or whatever the hell you want, but when you’ve gone through what I did to get my films made – and seen – an ego stroke is one hell of welcome thing. Mind you, the same film had been rejected from almost every other independent film festival in New York because of its awkward running time. At 40 minutes most film festivals were unwilling to try and fit it into their program. Phil took the challenge and made it work. He has since acquired the reputation of being able to accept medium length films that other festivals are so unwilling to take a good look at.  My invitation to submit to the 2012 festival was done so because I had submitted to the 2011 festival and Philip couldn’t fit it into that year’s program because of the awkward run time that I mentioned.  He invited me to resubmit because he truly believed in the film, regardless of its run time.

As of this year, at my recommendation, it is now MFF policy to invite filmmakers who have been rejected from the current season’s acceptance list, to invite them to resubmit their films the following season with a fee waiver – in an effort to strengthen the relationship between the festival and the filmmakers – whether they screen or not.

RECENT INVOLVEMENT

This year I had the pleasure of advising Philip on programming at MFF on top of his festival’s branding. I introduced a lot of filmmakers to Phil and the festival. Why didn’t Jason interview any of them? Or any of the other filmmakers who were happy with the festival this year?  I would have done an interview. I know lots of happier filmmakers who would have and they’re not too difficult to locate.

THE TRIBECA MONOPOLY

SkyscrapersMonopolies in New York City are nothing new, especially when it comes to the film and television industries. In fact, the Los Angeles film industry wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for turds like Edison, who held patents on many of the technologies filmmakers needed to achieve their works.  Filmmakers responded by heading out west, where the long arm of Edison couldn’t easily reach them.  Without the need for city permits or the worry of wealthy and powerful men like those from the Edison company, film making in California thrived.

Tribeca is a massive organization that dominates many aspects of the film industry in New York and the tri-state area and is growing at an alarming rate.  For an organization that’s only about a decade old, Tribeca is massive and powerful.  This is disconcerting because of their influence in city politics, specifically with the Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting.  For Tribeca to openly allow one of their staffers to publish defamatory and slanderous content against the smaller indie fests like this, is a slap in the face to the independent film community that I’ve worked so hard to strengthen.  Organizations like Tribeca often overlook films that don’t have celebrities or bigger budgets in the hundreds of thousands.  MFF on the other hand has no bias when it comes to a film’s budget, shooting format or whether or not it can appeal to academia.  If Phil and his programming advisers feel it has any level of value or true indie spirit, it will be seriously considered.  He’s taken films I don’t particular have an interest in, but has also taken films he doesn’t have an interest in, at my suggestion.  He’s advised by many filmmakers and promoters, from all facets of the industry, both indie and mainstream.  As far as programming goes, Philip Nelson is one of the most honest programmers I know.

This isn’t the first time that Tribeca has committed a misdeed toward Phil and MFF.  In 2010 Phil was forced to file a lawsuit against the Tribeca Film Festival for theft of his innovative interactive concepts.  You can read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/jul/07/new-york-tribeca-film-festival

Tribeca Cineams vs. The Quad

In his article, Guerrasio insinuates that any festival that uses the Quad Cinemas is likely a scam.  This just isn’t true and is further proof of Guerrasio’s ultimate intention with this article.  It is clear to me that Guerassio, seemingly on behalf of Tribeca, is making a play to destroy the reputation of the Quad and any festival that rents the facility.  This makes sense when you realize that the TFI is affiliated with Tribeca Cinemas, another NYC movie theater.  It too is often rented by smaller film festivals.

Under The Bus

What’s of bigger concern is that the filmmakers Guerrasio interviewed were more than willing to throw the festival under the bus, because they didn’t get their way or were in some way, unhappy with their experience.  They failed to see the bigger picture or have an ounce of respect for the local indie film community, which depends on lower tier festivals, like MFF, to thrive.  I know many of you filmmakers will disregard or elect to not comment on this article because you want to stand a chance at gaining entry as an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, but everyone needs to understand why speaking out is more important than yourselves and why this cause is bigger than you.  People like Guerrasio and the other people over at Tribeca cannot be the only ones responsible for your future, you have to take control and not give them the satisfaction of putting this perfectly legitimate film festival out of commission.  They cannot be allowed to become the only people who have the authority to say what is good and what is bad in filmmaking.  They cannot be allowed to become the only people who have the credentials to dictate what is good or bad independent cinema.

MFF is a good festival run by a good person, Philip Nelson, who truly means well.  I’ve known him since the 2012 festival, it’s not long, but long enough for me to know that he’s an individual truly dedicated to independent cinema and the success of filmmakers worldwide.  Tribeca’s goal is growth and sponsorship,  that’s it.  Truly independent cinema doesn’t matter to them, I assure you.  If it did, they wouldn’t make such a blatant effort to destroy the reputation of a person they’ve never met and a festival they’ve never attended.

It is time that filmmakers take control of the indie film world in New York and tell Tribeca to leave the boutique film festivals alone.  This is not the first festival Guerrasio attacked and it won’t be the last.  This article is part of a series he has started in an effort to further rip apart the community of independent filmmakers and the festivals that support them.  In addition, Tribeca needs to pressure its staffers to not post defamatory media about other festivals and organizations, as it reflects badly on the part of Tribeca.  If Tribeca truly wants to contribute to independent film culture in a positive way, they’ll order Guerrasio to issue a retraction and cease with his ridiculous series of articles that explore the “underbelly of the film festival world“.  By publishing these articles, IndieWire has done a lot of damage to the festival and to the filmmakers whom the festival has supported.

Shit Happens – Get Used To It

It seems like some of these filmmakers haven’t been around the festival circuit much and aren’t aware that they need to come prepared and ready for anything.  Filmmakers need to understand that circumstances change and sometimes events don’t go as perfectly as they should. Festivals aren’t locked down. I’ve seen Tribeca change show times, venues and even cut Q&A’s. This is COMMON practice.  I don’t see Guerrasio calling Tribeca out on this.  But I KNOW it happens because I know a lot of filmmakers who have screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am friends with filmmakers who have won awards at Sundance and picked up like recognition at Cannes.  These same people have also  screened at MFF and saw what took place there to be common with boutique film festivals.  It is not a scam, it doesn’t make it non-trustworthy, it just is what it is.

The author of the article insists that its not honest to boot a filmmaker from a festival and that a legit festival would never do anything like that. This is complete BS. The author’s own employer, Tribeca, has engaged in similar acts, even going as far as to booting ticket holders from a screening because they were asking difficult questions to the filmmakers.  Check out the details of that situation at the New York Times website: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/tribeca-film-festival-turns-away-protesters-who-had-tickets-to-gasland-sequel/

Other Festivals & Sponsors:

It’s important that I inform all of you that some of the festivals that the filmmakers that Guerrasio interviewed have had major successes at, also have similar complaints. Solvan Naim, the musician that made the movie Full Circle, claims that he’ll only screen at festivals with sponsors.  Solvan Naim did well at this year’s NYCIFF, but if you look them up on RipOff Report, they’ve got a complaint from another filmmaker who had the same problem that Mira had with MFF: he was pissed off that he had been programmed at the Producer’s Club.  In addition, other complaints included screenings being canceled and awards being given to people that had previously been affiliated with the festival’s founder/director.  Mind you, I only found it because I was reading Solvan’s Ripoff Report against MFF. Guess what? NYCIFF has Paramount Pictures on their step & repeat.  Does this make a person’s complaint any less important than those complaing about MFF? Sponsorship mean nothing.  Although I’ve never attended NYCIFF ‘nor have I talked with any filmmaker who has screened there about their experience, I would never assume that the festival or its founding directors had any other intention but good intentions when they decided they wanted to screen films on an annual basis.

The people involved in the defamation of MFF and the other festivals Guerrasio has targed are a vicious circle of filmmakers and film promoters who have nothing but selfish intentions. Or maybe they want to bully Phil into giving up the MFF name.  Who knows.  One thing is for sure, this guy Guerrasio, while heavily credentialed to write about Hollywood, is clearly not qualified to write about independent film and IndieWire is clearly not trustworthy a source of true independent filmmakers.

I urge everyone in the indie film community in New York and abroad to do your research and ask around before submitting your work to any film festivals.  Don’t go on Guerrasio’s article alone – from a filmmaker who has extensive experience with MFF, I can assure all of you that this festival is GOOD and operated by a phenomenal person and his amazing family.

Thanks for the ear,

-Eric Norcross | 2012 MFF Selected Filmmaker turned Volunteer

Mira Gibson tweet during her MFF event.

Mira Gibson tweet during her MFF event.

Tim Anderson Response

Jason 2Jason 3

Jason 1

Radioman at Anthology Film Archives

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Radioman with Filmmaker Eric NorcrossThe world famous Radioman made an appearance at the Anthology Film Archives this week to support a documentary film focusing on his life and career, aptly titled: RADIOMAN. The movie was followed by a Q&A with the famous NYC extra and day player, supported by a few of his friends who he has worked with on various film sets.

Radioman is a character actor, day player and movie extra that has more than 100 films under his belt, has worked for some of the most powerful directors in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Ben Stiller, Martin Scorsese and exchanged lines of dialog with some of the film industry’s most expensive and sought after actors, including Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and the list goes on.

Radioman Doc

Radioman Doc

Radio began his career as a heckler, sitting on the sidelines of publicly accessible NYC film sets. Beloved by the crews, the filmmakers began putting him in their movies and he has since become a staple of the NYC film industry. Some directors won’t wrap their productions until he agrees to make an appearance.

The documentary has picked up awards and honorable mentions at festivals in Europe and the Middle East and will be released in theaters in March 2013. You can find the film on Facebook (under the category public figure) and more media on the screening is available on the NewFilmmakers New York Facebook page.

You can view photos from the event at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfilmmakersny/sets/72157632420936819/

Likewise, here’ is a highlights video from the Radioman Q&A on the NewFilmmakers YouTube Channel:

Direct Link URL: http://youtu.be/xbFM4uXqk0k

Imagine Science Films: The Science of Sleep & Dreams

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NYC Skyline from 7 WTCLast night, I ventured up to the 40th floor of the new 7 World Trade Center building at 250 Greenwich Street for a panel discussion that was held at the New York Academy of Sciences. The subject of the discussion was “The Science of Sleep & Dreams” and is part of the continuing Imagine Science Film Festival, running until November 16th throughout New York City.  The evening started with a visually stimulating experimental short that utilizes animation to simulate what it would look like if we could see the brain “dreaming“.  This short presentation was followed by a flickering light display called “The Dream Machine” – which creates an effect that essentially puts people into a state of sleep (or near sleep for some). You can see a picture of its effect on Imagine Science Films’ Facebook Page.

This performance was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Tim McHenry, the Director of Public Programs & Performance & Producer of the Brainwave Series at the Rubin Art Museum.

Imagine Sci-Films Panel Discussion: Sleep and DreamsFirst up to talk was Professor Matthew A. Wilson, a professor of Neuroscience. He studies memory, how it is formed and how it is used. A part of his research delves heavily into dreams and he explores how dreams help with memory creation and maintenance. His experiments involve rats, mazes and the like. Hearing him talk about his experiments is intriguing and thought provoking. Mr. Wilson has found a mechanism to “hear” the dreams of his rodent subjects and can interpret what is heard into graphics, thus studying the rat’s dreams literally on a visual level. What he has established is that rats who are trained to run a maze, often dream about running mazes. There are some statements Mr. Wilson made that, for one reason or another, have stuck with me through the course of the night and I’m unsure as to why. Statements like “when the rat moves, it thinks about where it is, when it stops it thinks about where it could be“.

Erin J. Wansley from the Harvard Medical School was next to speak.  What is a dream and how do our minds select which of the barrage of experiences will be dreamed?  She explores this and the idea that sleep helps us to remember.  Her tests have shown that her human subjects who have dreamed tend to retain knowledge and those that don’t dream tend to have a more difficult time with retaining knowledge.  Her discussion also delved into the structure of dreams and how those structures change through the course of the night.  For example, early in the night the dream is in rehearsal mode, exercising what was learned while in an awake state and later on in the night it connects with historical experiences to help refine its own understanding of what it has learned. So the next time you have a dream in a strange locale you haven’t been to in decades or a dream that features people you haven’t thought about in years – it’s likely that your brain is using what is available to make sense of certain information.

WIDE AWAKE by  Alan Berliner

Filmmaker Alan Berliner is a documentary filmmaker who describes his profession as  about having “access”.  So it’s easy to understand why this self-described insomniac made himself the subject of his own film WIDE AWAKE, which explores his inability to sleep.  While they didn’t show the film in its entirety, they did show clips and the filmmaker talked briefly about his insomnia and a little about his experience making a film about it.  As soon as I get around to watching it on Netflix, I’ll post my thoughts on it separately, but I will say that I am genuinely intrigued by what I saw.

Fun Ideas I took from the panel discussion last night:

1. Did you know that babies smile in their sleep long before they learn to smile while they are awake? As we all know, smiling is an essential survival skill so it makes sense that the early on the brain would be actively teaching itself how to work it.

2. Dreams are no stranger a phenomenon than being awake, in that we don’t quite understand being awake as much as we don’t understand being asleep.

3. Lack of control of sleep and dreaming is what disturbs us, not necessarily the content of our dreams.

4. Drowsy driving is equivalent to drunk driving on a cognitive level. I knew this, but wanted to reiterate it since I am an advocate of safe driving. Human error is normally the result of fatigue. So get some sleep friends, especially if you’re operating heavy machinery!

5. Lack of sleep and psychosis have a connection.

6. Dreams are often a depiction of movement through space, where time has been altered (or at least the dreamer’s perception).

7. Dreams are in part, a reflection of the processing of memory in the brain.

8. Studies have shown that the direction an athlete flies and the jet lag can often determine who the winner of an NFL or MLB game will be.

Imagine Science Films

 

IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS: The Imagine Science Film Festival is in their fifth year and is intended to bridge the gap between science and art by featuring films that feature scientific themes in a unique way. This includes documentary, experimental/avant-garde cinema, narrative fiction (like sci-fi yehehe)… basically an infinitesimal collection of styles.  The festival will run from November 8 through the 16th at various venues throughout New York City. For screening & other events that are a part of this film festival, I urge you to visit their website: http://www.imaginesciencefilms.org/

Peter Mettler: THE END OF TIME

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The End of TimeLast night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night film of the Imagine Science Film Festival. The lucky filmmaker to grace the screen at the Museum of the Moving Image was none other than Peter Mettler and his film THE END OF TIME.  Peter’s film is an experimental work that explores the concept of time in a way that might make movie going audiences uncomfortable if they come in with typical expectations.  The work explores a perspective that in itself seems to manipulate time, in that, at moments we feel like time has either sped up or slowed down (not to be confused with a movie dragging at parts or at other times picking up pace, to understand this element you’d probably have to view the film for yourself).  Moment to moment, we shift and squirm almost as if we’re being manipulated, or the space around us is being changed in some way and that we have to alter our own consciousness to adapt.   CERN Hadron ColliderWe’re fed marvelous imagery as we hear quotes from some of the featured characters that stimulate our respective imaginations, that test our mental resolve.  We explore the worlds of these characters – real life people like scientists working at CERN or the astonomers at the Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Peter’s subjects aren’t limited to the scientific elite, he also explores the lives of a young family that, at the time of his filming, are renovating a home in a derelict neighborhood in the outskirts of Detroit. He explores the neighborhood of a man who lives within steps of on-going volcanic lava flow. From the Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the slums of Detroit and quaint (but sort of dangerous) world of a volcanic Pacific – Peter manages to unite all these different worlds, cultures, backgrounds and the subject’s thoughts into his exploration of time.

Q&A With Peter MettlerThere were moments that stood out to me, some in the form of lines of dialog but mostly in plain imagery. Time lapse imagery of the Hawaii Observatory at night – while in operation – really blew me away. Line after line of haiku-like statements, strung together to plant the seed of Peter’s own ideas, convincing us that these are our own. Ideas like “If you have a beginning, then you always have a problem” was my favorite line (and apparently the director’s favorite as well).  “In reality there is no such thing as time by itself” and the idea that “We still operate on the level of Past, Present & Future” helps us understand that Time isn’t a thing, but an idea and not much more, albeit an idea that rules our lives.  He even comforts us with facts about human evolution, stating that by the time the sun burns out, the beings that will be around to witness the event will be as far from us as we are from bacteria today.  I haven’t slept so good in years.

The film would have been incomplete without a Q&A session with the director – and I’m happy he had flown in for the screening because his views on the film, the story behind the film, are all important to understanding the work.  I’ve been attending experimental film screenings at the Anthology Film Archives for a long time now and the one thing I can attest to about this art form is that while it can stand on its own legs with or without a trained audience, it’s so much better to be able to talk with the creator about the work.

Imagine Science Films

IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS: The Imagine Science Film Festival is in their fifth year and is intended to bridge the gap between science and art by featuring films that feature scientific themes in a unique way. This includes documentary, experimental/avant-garde cinema, narrative fiction (like sci-fi yehehe)… basically an infinitesimal collection of styles.  The festival will run from November 8 through the 16th at various venues throughout New York City. For screening & other events that are a part of this film festival, I urge you to visit their website: http://www.imaginesciencefilms.org/