Sawdust City at Los Angeles Film Festival

Sawdust City, the first feature by my old CalArts classmate David Nordstrom will be screening next month at the Los Angeles Film Festival. A big congratulations to Dave N. and everyone who worked on the film - it's very good and I wish them great success.

Dave just launched a Kickstarter project this week to get the film in good shape for the start of it's public life.

From Dave:

The slightly less good news is that we need a final push to get us over the hill to where we need to be. Thanks to the increasing quality of affordable equipment, our own hard-won no-budget filmmaking, and your own inestimable help, we've managed to craft a great little film.  However, it's going up on big screens, on big systems, alongside bigger films and we need to look and sound our best. Let's give this man and his film a Kickstart cause filmmaking is just too damn hard to do alone.

Pravesh Gurung

Good news from Pravesh Gurung my old classmate from CalArts. The project he's on in Bollywood just released it's first trailer:

It's amazing. Whether you like this kind of thing or not you have to admire the scale that Bollywood achieves. It's always epic, shamelessly nostalgic story telling. Maybe most importantly, it's fun too.. Pravesh's brother by the way is the perhaps the most talked about young fashion designer around - Prabal Gurung. Pravesh congrats and good luck!

From Munich Int. Student Film Fest, Last Day ::

Major improvements. Thursday was a train toward the Alps to see Ludwig's famous castle. Kitsch as can be, but being there, with dramatic mountain tops above and long green valleys below, and feeling the mass of the stone work, was impressive. Next day found the little river here in Munich where they surf a standing wave. Hypnotic. They tie an apparatus to the base of the bridge with climbing ropes, jammed by water pressure, it forms a little two/three foot standing wave. Its mostly one at a time, guys and a couple of girls. They were polite and so was the surfing.

The films went from bad to mind blowing. Monday they started with all these slow pace, Eastern European block house stories. Like dentistry to watch. By Thursday they'd screened a couple films that could hang with the pros. 35mm shoots, full crews, name actors, art direction and pretty solid writing and good editing; impressive. All the same, it was much better on the days without any films. Talking to people from all over, without the interference of competition, was nice.

Out of here tomorrow for Malawi. Been waiting for this. Spent a lot of time this week talking with people and thinking about the approach to this next film. Foolish to try and control a doc at this stage, so been trying to get some general ideas on paper before melee hits. Many many challenges. The web of complex problems that fall down with the pull of one little thread. Talking about HIV means talking about gender inequality, polygamy, sex, political corruption and poverty at the least. Heady stuff, and all that in a society so traditional that knee caps are considered too sexy for public. Also concered about hitting the audience too hard with heavy stuff. Hope to find some ideas to give Joe Blow access.

Got some motivation from a film I saw here this week. A doc short about an AIDS orphan in Zambia, poorly shot, poorly cut, from another American who was obviously slumming. It was pretty offensive, straight exploitation of a kid in a terrible situation. A great example of what not to do. The judges lost all their credibility with me and a lot of others by awarding it a 5000 euro prize. I have to wonder if any of that money will get back to Zambia. They should have given the kid the money. Clowns.

Really looking forward to Malawi.

From Munich International Student Film Fest

Long story short, the festival is rough. Tons of bad work that lacks emphasis, narrative density and other very depressing things. In the midst of this, looking at my film on a bad projector with bad sound a few lessons finally settled in. Anybody back at CalArts, take this to heart! Make a SHORT film, ten minutes or less. Turns out the world doesn't care about your vision if it isn't disciplined. If its loose, its going to get walked on. I'm taking some heavy shots and I thought I'd done OK. I was wrong. The films that are getting love here are short and too the point. All the spacious, moody films look like junkers next to those.