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Showing posts from 2012

Feast or Famine: Living as an Independent Digital Filmmaker

It's never easy. We all know that.

Fiscally speaking, the life of the independent digital filmmaker is about as rewarding as playing the lottery. Week in and week out we take chances, quietly hoping that this gig or project or music video could be the winning ticket to a staggering amount of dollar signs. In reality, most of us will never reach the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And that's okay. We're artists after all.

What's not okay is not learning to cope with all the in-between stages, which makes up about 90% of our life. It's the the day-to-day, the hustle, the grind. I usually try to avoid the cliche "tough skin" speech but it's getting harder and harder to soften it up for peers today. To succeed--and by succeed I mean, to stay (somewhat) gainfully employed AND creatively challenged--in this niche business of passions, you need to have a killer instinct. Yes, some days are better than others but everyday that you wake up you're still …

VIDEO ESSAY: Behind You

That moment when it feels like someone--or something--is standing behind you. But then you turn around and find nothing.


For the cinematic narrative, the point of view (POV) shot is a high-powered filmmaking aesthetic that thrusts the viewer from omniscient viewer to dynamic player within the context of the screen. Whether it's a subjective POV (where the camera/our field-of-view takes the place of the screen figure's own line-of-sight) or an objective POV (where the camera/our field-of-view exists alongside the screen figure, a la "cheek-to-cheek"), the POV shot invades the frame's axis, breaking the 180-degree rule, taking the visual rhetoric of the film to the next level. And as technology and filmmaking tools (e.g. the advent of 3D) continue to push the boundaries of audience-to-screen immersion, one thing remains constant: the audience sure enjoys their God's eye view in the universe of the movie.


Which is why the follow shot (sometimes called the "…

VIDEO ESSAY: Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master"

"He's making all this up as he goes along."

NOTE: I was fortunate enough to attend a rare 70mm screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master on Thursday August 16, 2012 at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. In attendance were writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and one of the film's actors, Kevin J. O'Connor (both of whom are pictured with mehere).


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The key to the success of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master doesn't come in its mammoth achievement of being shot on 70mm film or its carefully constructed parallel origin story of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology practices. Rather, that success is embedded in an intimate scene: a single shot close-up on alcoholic war veteran Freddie Sutton (an unforgettable Joaquin Phoenix) during a "process of time" session with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in prime Hubbard form). Up until this scene, the character of Freddie dutifully performed the task of delivering the film's dark lau…

A Now Sunless World

RIP Chris Marker (1921-2012)

"Marker is unclassifiable because he is unique...The French Cinema has its dramatists and its poets, its technicians, and its autobiographers, but only has one true essayist: Chris Marker." - Roy Armes, Film Theorist

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Chris Marker's influence is evident in of some of my visual poems/essays.

"You'll Never Work In This Town Again!"--And Why That Really Shouldn't Bother You

There was a time when the movie theatre--a temple for the cinema--was a physically domineering social hub for people; up until the 1960s filmgoers would catch up on their world news via short subject newsreels that preceded the movie and sometimes even congregated at after-parties to discuss or argue over that night's feature film. These days, with dark auditoriums glowing with mobile phones and tablet devices, that's a hard concept to grasp. Still, it's nothing to be disheartened by. The moviegoing "social hub" has migrated from the offline experience to the online experience and that's okay. Besides, most people get theirworld news from YouTube anyway.

I start with this point because there (again) exists some misguided fear--disgust, even--driven by culturally-disconnected gurus and so-called media "experts." Is it really an earth-shattering revelation that new generations of moviegoers expect more technically savvy films, up-to-date news feeds and…

"The Professionalism About Movies Will Be Destroyed Forever"

Hollywood has produced its fair share of disaster movies. How about one where the independents destroy the archaic financing, production and distribution methods of Tinseltown? I'm sure Roland Emmerich could throw something together there. 
As we continue to grow and mature as a new generation of innovative digital filmmakers, we're learning more about crowdfunding, are chiseling out bare truths behind film distribution and are solidifying ourselves as trendsetters in a social media-heavy world.

Considering all of this, it's (very, very!) invigorating to step back and see this larger, historical narrative play out. Consider the following two filmmaker interview clips.
(1991: Francis Ford Coppola, from Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse)
Here Coppola imagines a world where the filmmaking tools have been democratized. We all know this would eventually happen. And because this has happened, it wouldn't be incorrect to jump off Coppola's thoughts and expand h…

"Remember: The Less He Eats, The Better He Hunts"

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to draw the analogy between Canelo and today's DIY filmmaker. If you haven't already seen Luis Bunuel's Viridiana, then watch the clip below and discover some profound truth.

You always know how to cut to the core of me Bunuel.

The Camera Simply Watches: The Real Concerns Of The Director

At a recent social gathering, I found myself debating in dialogues about the "craft" of directing, the approach to acquiring cheap/free/affordable actors and the ability to single out strong screenplays. Mind you, those are all valid and very real concerns for the "Director." But what struck me during these debates was the vernacular coming from this pool of artists. Most indie filmmakers that I meet are deeply obsessed with the textbook language that comes with "directing"; almost to the point where I'm turned off by each of them as individual artists. Is that unfair? Maybe. But what has always stimulated me about the cinema and its iconic directors, were their projected sensibilities, their ambition and their ideas that were announced BEFORE the cameras started rolling.
I guess in today's circumstances, the act of "filmmaking" has grown to be a towering, romantic pedastal for most novice filmmakers. I can't tell you how many times a…

Film Is Dead: Edges Of The Digital Frame

Friends and followers, I have an upcoming video art exhibit at the I AM Logan Square Gallery in collaboration with filmmaker Amir George, curator at The Cinema Culture.
Press Release: FROM: I Am Logan Square 773-278-4257 /info@iamlogansquare.com



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Film Is Dead: Edges of the Digital Frame A Radical Video Exhibition That Celebrates the New Wave of Underground Cinema
“Film Is Dead: Edges of The Digital Frame” is a radical video exhibition that celebrates the new wave of underground cinema. Incorporating aspects of video appropriation, off-kilter narratives and culturally conscious video mash-ups, the works of Nelson Carvajal and Amir George represent an underexposed avenue of truly independent filmmaking—one that steers clear of traditional “film school” tropes and textbook rhetoric.
Film Is Dead: Edges of the Digital Frame, a video exhibition that celebrates the new wave of underground cinema, will open on Thursday, February 2nd from 6 to 8:30 pm, at the I Am Logan Square …