Our Vision Of The Universe Is A Time Machine

Time travel is go.  When we look into Extreme Deep Field aka Space we see the past.  We photograph the past. We approach the past.  It is time travel.

When you look into space, when technology renders it real for us, when we capture the images, our imagination soars.  Without art, we'd have less science.  Without science, we'd have less art.  Peanut butter & jelly.  Blucheese and fresh figs.


You Too Will Be Glad You Moved Here

"Fog is cool" I said to myself as I stumbled in from a weekend nosh of idiosyncratic food and drink.  Diverse places and people in a city nestling with nature.  It sure isn't NYC -- and that's a good thing.  I took it as an omen that this video popped up as I thought of my wife  soon joining me here in my new home.  Change is a wonderful thing, particularly positive change and the joy of having someone to share it with.

How great would it be if San Francisco was the Indie Film Hub, and this time instead of a group of aspiring artists and entrepreneurs trying to make it, it emerged as a true community that knew that it had to work together, amassing and learning from mistakes, forever aiming to make deeply resonate work, regardless of individual authorship, work that celebrates the expansive aspects of life today, doesn't shy away from complexity or lack of comfort, and is based on exploration far more than declaration.  Ah, a person can dream....

First The Feature (Script), Then The Short

We hosted Anna Boden as an Artist In Residence at The San Francisco Film Society recently.  I found it interesting to hear her say she and Ryan Fleck had been inspired by Peter Sollet's RAISING VICTOR VARGAS and the prize-winning short that preceded it 5 FEET HIGH & RISING.  They had written the HALF NELSON script and in trying to figure out how to do a short that could help get the feature made they decided to shift the focus away from the focus on the teacher (later played by Ryan Gosling in the feature) and put in on Shareeka Epps the student (and who stars in each the short and feature).  This is the short  GOWANUS BROOKLYN that helped get the feature HALF NELSON shot.

Punk Rock's Cranky Old Man Speaks The Truth

I saw Black Flag live for the first time around 1984 and they blew my mind, full throttle.  To see Henry Rollins powered by the band's onslaught was to see rage and force and commitment unleashed.  It was scary fun and is forever seared onto my DNA. I owe a debt to that band (among others).  That must be why I find it so much fun to see him now tell it like it is, in his "cranky old man" guise -- but he really gets it right, and you don't have to be a "young person" to need to be reminded of this advise.  It is not fair, but so what?  Be stronger and don't let their good fortune or bad ways get in the way of what you know must be done.

But oh man was he anything  but that back when:

 And check out this show too when it really was just people in a garage letting loose.

Criterion Classics You Probably Need To Catch Up On (for FREE!)

Don't worry that the Hollywood output this week is a bunch of crap, Hulu has a great collection of Cinema Rarities courtesy of Criterion up that you can watch for free.  We all can't go see The Master multiple times so it's nice to sit at home and get caught on some classics you may have missed.

Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped, 

Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky,

Kenji Mizoguchi’s  The Life of Oharu

Wim Wenders' Alice In The Cities

Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night, 

Giuseppe de Santis’s Bitter Rice.

Kaneto Shindo’s The Naked Island, 

Bryan Forbes’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon,

Kon Ichikawa’sPrincess from the Moon,

Jaromil Jireš’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Proof How Indie Film Requires So Much Support

If we didn't have the Indie Film support organizations, you wouldn't have indie films in the theater.  Cinereach, IFP, Film Independent, SxSW, Tribeca, Sundance, and yes, my new home, the San Francisco Film Society -- it takes more than a village; it takes a freakin' army.

The proof is in the pudding.  Look at all the films in theaters this week.  All these films were discovered at Sundance and supported by these various organizations.  Where would they be without them?  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  And just the start.  If you don't go see them -- and soon -- our very culture will be threatened!

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD written by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar and directed by Benh Zeitlin



HELLO I MUST BE GOING written by Sarah Koskoff and directed by Todd Louiso



KEEP THE LIGHTS ON written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias and directed by Ira Sachs



LITTLE BIRDS written and directed by Elgin James



SLEEPWALK WITH ME written by Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish, and Joe Birbiglia  and directed by Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish



COMPLIANCE written and directed by Craig Zobel



THE WORDS written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal



Everything Counts; Try, Fail, Rebuild It Better

A friend of mine -- an accomplished director and writer -- once said to me that you have to write eight screenplays before you can actually write one.  It is a well know adage that writing is all rewriting. Yet do we really yet get to incorporate that in our filmmaking.

The analogue era was about completion and perfection.  You made it and put it out and that was it: it was part of the world.  Yet the digital era is about something quite different; it is about evolution, transformation, iterations, and versioning.  Not only can it change everywhere, but we can do it in ways that weren't possible several years back.  We can shoot a film on the cheap, and then revise it, or connect to it, or pull from it subsequently.  Some artists are already adept at quoting themselves.  

Watching Bruce Sprinsteen perform from over 40 years back, it's sort of thrilling to hear elements of his later work in his early songs.  I know that there are artist making movies now that will be doing just that same thing with their films of today when they make their films of tomorrow.


Jack London's Rallying Cry

I was reading the NY Times piece on Occupy Oakland, and came across this quote from Oakland native Jack London, given to NYers at the turn of the 20th century:

 “A million years ago, the cave man, without tools, with small brain, and with nothing but the strength of his body, managed to feed his wife and children, so that through him the race survived. You on the other hand, armed with all the modern means of production, multiplying the productive capacity of the cave man a million times — you are incompetents and muddlers, you are unable to secure to millions even the paltry amount of bread that would sustain their physical life. You have mismanaged the world, and it shall be taken from you.  

The words still hold true, and apply to many aspects of modern life.

We can build it better together.

Who Is Making The Best Short Films Out There?

If you were going to give an award to the "Best Short Film Director", what would be the criteria? I think the director would have to have made at least three shorts. Maybe over a five year period. If a director only has made two shorts, my sense is that they aren't doing it for the love of the short, but more for their "career". Three shows a commitment to the form. Making one great, or even two great short films does not detract from the strength of those shorts, but again it does not show the devotion to the form. Now, as I believe that the dominance of the feature film form is on it's last legs, and that ending it is TGHOTFOC, I think we will see even more great short directors in the years ahead. Presently though, I am a bit at a loss to nominate multiple directors who have made three or more excellent shorts. Nonetheless, that limitation does not reduce my enthusiasm for my nomination.

I had the good fortune of being asked to be a judge at TropFest NYC this year. It was an incredible program, and in the highlights of years passed, I was reminded of how great Nash Edgerton's short work is (I also dig his feature The Square). Can you name a filmmaker who has made three shorts stronger than these:

LUCKY (Tropfest Finalist TSI "Umbrella")

SPIDER was the short film that brought Nash to my attention. I have blogged about it before.

BEAR is Nash's sequel to SPIDER and it's pretty f'n awesome too (although having set a high bar with SPIDER, I confess I wanted things to go even further with BEAR). Unfortunately I can only find this teaser online to share with you, but trust me. He hits the trifecta with these. Maybe if Nash wants to win the HFF "Best Short Film Director" Award, he'll have to put the full version online for you to decide...

Who would you nominate for "Best Short Film Director"? But remember, they must have done three excellent shorts.

PS. Nash's partners at Blue Tongue deserve some extra kudos for their entire body of work (Kieran Darcy-Smith "Wish You Were Here", David Michod "Animal Kingdom", Spencer Susser "I Love Sarah Jane"). If the film business had any sense, they'd give these guys a heap of money to do whatever they wanted... #Just Saying