Sunday, February 27, 2005


Portman incites angry mob in Jerusalem. That plug ought to initiate clicking the hyperlink.
Are these real countries?

Be honest, did you know these were real countries?

Is this news? Does it deserve to be the front spot on CNN.
The Best Film Writer

I know of no current film writer better than David Thompson. He's the only person who'd I recommend reading re: Oscars.
Financier of Insurgancy Caught

A Silent Protest

I waxed philosophical discussions with a co-film student last night as we location scouted. We talked about among other things, 546. 546 is a class at USC that selects 4 films a year to produce. Everyone is allowed to submit scripts and reels and the faculty selects 40 eligible scripts, 10 directors, and 10 producers to all hook up and pitch a project. Sounds cool, eh? Well, everyone thinks so coming in, but within USC, 546 is like the bastard step child no one cares to talk about openly and candidly.

The class is a joke. First of all, it pits students against one another in a selection process. I can hear the chorus of Capitalists already - but that's how the real world is - get used to it, you pussies. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That's missing the point. In real world, one does not pay tuition to get an education in learning how to make films. Film school ought to be a mixture of learning craft, discovering your own voice, and learning about how to function in the world outside of school - in that order. 546 neglects craft (there is very little), hinders discovering any type of personal voice (50 opinions on your dailies every day), and learning how to function in the outside world - I don't know yet, but if 546 is like the outside world....I will never make films. The outside world, for all of it's flaws, is efficient. Perhaps to a fault....the bottom line always matters. An investment is made and expected to be made back. 546 is an inefficient process - shooting over the course of several weekends, dozens of hands in the mix, giving opinions and criticisms, bureaucratic elements up the ass, all hurting the creative process, and wasting TIME (which is money, in the real world).

But, to another point, the psychological impact of being selected (or not being selected). Being selected for 546 is a case of luck, not desert. Filmmaking is so subjective, anyway, an acknowledgement of such much precede any type of "selection."
If you took an informal survey, however, of classmates and peers, I imagine that the 546 selectees would not rank near the top of filmmakers. In fact, I'd bet on it. However, the selection process privileges these filmmakers and will have two effects - giving them an inflated sense of themselves and two, giving those not selected the unwarrented sense of rejection, that you are not as good as so and so, or perhaps even worse, the knowledge that you are as good, but you cannot be publically recognized as such. When learning, this type of rejection does not help one become a better filmmaker. If I wanted rejection, I'd ask random girls out for free, not pay tuition to be told by the faculty.

Anyways, the post has gotten long...but a couple of final things. For the school, it ought to test itself and not require 546 and see how the class survives. I am willing to bet the class could not survive in a "free market" itself. For all of it's claims to prepare for the "real world" the class itself is one big hustle. They force students to pay 6 g's tutition to take the class. If it weren't a requirement, would people take it? There's you test.

In any case, the discussion over whether to pitch to direct a 546 goes on. Part of me is like, well, don't be a hater, just give it a try. Part of me wants practice pitching, but all of me knows the process is debilitating and creatively unfulfilling.

PS - I've yet to see a good 546 - only films that are good for being a 546.

So my friend silently protested never submitting a reel and refusing the process entirely. Kant's categorical imperative may apply....

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Stakes for Oscars Higher Than You Thought

Apparently winners live an average of 4 years longer than the losers. Who knew?
Wonkette on Stern

Good, long article on a interesting man, by an interesting woman. My friend thinks Howard Stern is the lone genius in entertainment. 20 years of entertainment, 5 hours a DAY, entertaining people on the radio. As a filmmaker, it is difficult to entertain someone for 12 minutes (which are the size of films we make at school). If you can do it for 2 hours, a career is made. Stern does it everyday for 5 hours. Insane to think about.
A Must See

Check this out, a movie from the point of view of a suicide bomber, made by a Palestinian director.

I have to see this film.

If I ever made a film about a suicide bomber, I would most certainly end the film with a shot of the bomber with an erection right before he attacks. I'd be willing to bet some of the 9/11 dudes were fully aroused as the planes went into the buildings.

I'd love to read a Freudian interpretation of 9/11.

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Blog

Devoted entirely to totally funny ass query letters to a Hollywood Manager. Good Stuff.
I'm With Chris Rock

Rock has joked that joining a political party is like joining a gang; of his own political beliefs, he says on crime he's conservative, on prostitution he's liberal. But at bottom, there's no denying the right-leaning strain underlying his social commentary. Even his economic outlook is Republican: Black people, he says, would do well to take their money out of rims and put it into stocks.

This ain't about right and's common sense...does anyone think it is smart to spend money on material crap than on wisely investing it?
Chris Rock

Thanks to Stephanie, I got this article on the Oscars. Admittedly, I don't give two shits about watching the Oscars...I'm sort of with Rock on this one, "no self-respecting straight black man would watch the thing..." I am G. Black, after all.

However, in contrast to all most of the other straight black men, I actually am a filmmaker (student now ought to appear in parenthesis), so I actually care about who wins, but wouldn't waste 3 hours of my time watching that fashion, marketing show, unless there were drinks and chicks involved in some type of party.

But here's the rub...reading this article almost makes we want to watch Rock dish on all the terds that will be expecting something elegant from the Oscars. Just reading his bits make me laugh.

I tried looking up Drudge's criticisms on Rock and couldn't really find them. All he did was post this, which is more like an AP report on things Rock did and said and how some Oscar people got nervous. Again, it's freaking funny stuff.

I don't read Drudge, but I get the sense the man has a sense of humor and I doubt he'd see anything wrong with Rock, the genius. But if he does, he's damn cracker ass cracker who needs to get laid. Go Rock!
Searching For Mohammed Atta

What about a documentary about searching for an Islamic Terrorist living in LA? Do we think there is a terrorist living in LA? Could we find him and interview him? This could be an incredible documentary.

UPDATE: Ahhhh. Indeed Nate hits upon the crux of the issue, the same issue everyone that I talk to seems to have interest in....the ethical element. I think the great part of the idea is that who knows whether it's a comedy or deadly serious. And while I imagine access to Al Queda is even more difficult than the public schools...who knows without trying, right?

Many feel I'm setting myself up for'll be impossible to find al queda and the audience will be angry, knowing it's set up that way. Maybe. And maybe if I did find an al queda, I'd have an ethical obligation to turn them in. Or would I? What about journalistic or professional integrity? I know doctors, counselors, are obligated to turn in patients when they may harm someone. But one of my favorite quotes is from a friend, "There's no ethics in filmmaking."

But whatever - how can you address ethical issues before they've even arisen?
I Could've Written This

And maybe I did...I'm moonlighting as a columnist for the Chronicle...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

More on Female Scientists

Did I mention that Virginia Postrel might be my favorite blogger these days? Read this perspective on the whole female and male scientist things. She's talking about a much bigger issue with respect to professional women - the issue of motherhood.
Rapping and Blogging

Dan Drezner compares the two.

We sample and remix media. My nizzle.

I'm trying to do a documentary on Islamic Radicalism. I'm not getting very far...I've got no sense of story, very few characters, and the prevailing criticism is that "it's too big!"

Well, it's true, it is. And this was the same problem with my early narrative projects, trying to go too big with concepts. Hopefully, I've learned something and can quickly settle down and find something smaller scale - like a family or get involved with a mosque....ahhhhh, there's an idea.
Weber and Iverson

Now the Sixers will be the team to watch...I don't think this makes them winners, necessarily, but Iverson and Weber, I imagine will play well together. Weber scores and rebounds, but is actually a great passer. Iverson is great at two things: scoring and stealing the ball. This could be a really good match.
A Couple New Links

Phil RW has been added to the blog roll on the side. Phil has been blogging longer than anyone else I know personally, and it is great to see the "Of Local Interest" blogroll expand.

Also added is my new favorite website, Senses of Cinema. It's a wonderful site dedicated to film lovers, without much pretention, which is amazing to see. They have an entire database of articles written about "great directors" which is fan-frigging-tastic for pleasure reading or research on nearly anyone you could possibly think of.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jericho Mile

Watched this TV movie as part of my Michael Mann research. Quite good. It's a prison story about a man put away for killing his father. He sums up his situation as such, "I'm in here for life. I'm guilty. I did my crime, I deserve this, this is where I belong."

The man stays out of everyone's way, all he does all day long is run and run. One day, a prison psychologist times him and he's running close to a 4 minute mile. The main story involves the man hooking up and racing with track stars with the eventual possibility of running in the Olympic Trials.

In the backdrop is the political organization of the prison, the whites, the blacks, and the Latinos, vying for power and control.

It's a TV movie, but I quite enjoyed it. A bit hoaky at times, but for a TV movie made in 1979, not bad.
Funny Shit

The Onion, as usual, is smarter than most of the "real" news.

Hey man, it's a volunteer army...what can I say?
NATO Done For

Article found via Instapundit on the future of NATO. It sucks, but it's true...the idea of NATO being, "if one is attacked, all are attacked," simply did not hold up. As an American, I never felt solidarity from our European allies. They did not feel as if they were attacked. It's like when friends don't stand up for you when they really ought to. Often people think strong people or strong countries don't need support when being picked on. "America can handle it" - that type of attitude. I can't stand that shit. It'll be the same people who won't stand up to smaller scale things that won't stand up for bigger scale things. That I can guarantee.

I gotta check out this book, the Underminer. I bet it has political implications.

On another note, my crit studies teacher would have a field day with this comment:

International relations are like ex-girlfriends: if you're still deluding yourself you can get her back, every encounter will perforce be fraught and turbulent; once you realise that's never gonna happen, you can meet for a quick decaf latte every six – make that 10 – months and do the whole hey-isn't-it-terrific-the-way-we're-able-to-be-such-great-friends routine because you couldn't care less. You can even make a few pleasant noises about her new romance (the so-called European Constitution) secure in the knowledge he's a total loser.

First of all, it's a really funny quote. But it's got some seriously problematic issues lying underneath - America viewing itself as the macho man and viewing the Europeans as whiny chicks. This is one of the most legitimate criticisms, to me, of colonialism, the psycho-sexual element, reducing the colonized to the feminine, submissive and the whole sexual fantasy of pentration into another culture. If we're stuck in the narrative of ourselves as men and the rest of the world as women to be settled down with, or conquered - Virgin's or Ho's...witches or queens...or any other type of "partnership" rooted in dominance and Freudian sexual motivations - I do believe we'll be in perpetual war. A war of sexual domination.

But if we're going to be in that war, perhaps it is time the Europeans bent over and took one in the rear, they've done it to enough people themselves. Ah, yes, the morals of Sublime....(Date Rapist) now takes it in the behind. Hat tip, Bradley on the mic, in the LBC.
Camera Placement

Just got a good crash course in camera placement for a scene in M Uno's class where I was a substitute actor for much to learn, but Uno really broke it down, shot for shot, the nuts and bolts of cutting together a scene and how to shoot with that in mind. Very helpful.

Basically, he begins with the line...busting out his pink string and makes the actors hold the line. Then he puts the camera down for the main shot, whether it be a master or whatever; and then he uses a second camera (to simulate the next set up) to show where one will need to place the camera to get the shot to cut to. Then, as the actors move and the blocking is set...he does the same thing for the other shots. Once you get in a roll, you really break down the scene and feel like you're doing something purposeful - which is good.

Although I like the work I've done in Kagan so far, I wonder if taking Uno for this class and Kagan for advanced might have been a better move. Too late now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Film Permits in Other Cities

One of my jobs as a SPO worker is doing work for Joe W...right now we're doing an investigation into how other cities do film permits. To me, this is a ginormous pain in the ass, calling these people and asking inane, unspecific questions about shooting there.

But another thing that makes this whole endeavor seem pointless to me is that it doesn't really apply to LA. These cities have 20-50 student film projects per year, where none of the students spend any money....none of them require police or other fees. At USC and in LA there are thousands of projects each SEMESTER and I can imagine from the EIDC standpoint how much work that creates for them. It's hard to say - well, Seattle doesn't charge for permits...when then shoot like 20 student films a year. We have that easily each week just at USC.

Anyhow, this kind of crap takes a lot of administrative time, and Joe passed it to Christine to do, who has passed it to me. What a crock. I'm billing for this.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Over Aggressive Youth Sports

I started to read this article because I thought it was going to be another bitter piece in favor of the "pussification" of America.

But it's more about obession and the weird cultural pressures put on young athletes to specialize on a single sport and train relentlessly for it. I played tons of sports as a young man and was under constant pressure to participate MORE. It was my laziness and contempt for fascists that often led me away from the path of more teams tried to court me for year round play, which I turned down three or four times to stick with basketball and baseball. But I quit basketball after freshman year in high school because it was the absolutely most grueling sporting experience ever - 6am practices once a week before school, games and practice 6 days a week - little to no social life during the season, other than the bball team.

Baseball was the worst of all, most of the players in my high school playing year round ball, traveling on the weekends to far away places to play in meaningless, bs games, just to be playing. But the weirdest, most fucked up element, was the svengali like influence the coach had on the players...constantly gossiping and digging up dirt on everyone to tease and influence. Freaking homos.

I think I survived in the margins, never becoming too committed to any single group, and getting out what I could...I had a great sophomore year in baseball, but that was it. We won 4 MCAL championships that our coach promised would be one of the highlights of my life. Truth be told, I don't give a flying rats fuck about any of those championships today. Maybe if I knocked up some ghetto bird and didn't finish community college, like some of the other baseball players in Marin County, those days would be my glory years...

Soccer fluctuated from being the sport I was best at, but liked least, to being my favorite overall sport...high school we had a badass muthafucking team that couldn't win a championship because there was another more badass muthafucking team, ranked 2nd in the nation in our league, with national team players. But I loved high school soccer - it was the club soccer that was a nightmare.
Freed Palestinian Prisoners

In the long run, this step needed to be taken. You can't live in perpetual war and hold people prisoner for their intentions....which I don't doubt, in most of their cases, was anti-Israeli militancy. But such a militaristic policy is patently unsustainable in the long run. I hope it works.
Ipod World

Check out Andrew Sullivan's little societal commentary about Ipod people. Very, very interesting.

I was skiing over Christmas and one of my friends was listening to an ipod - it was weird, I thought, we didn't talk as much. He turned it off most of the time, but it was weird to yell to someone and not have them respond, even if it was only once or twice. Something was disconnected.

He also does a little side note about how NYC is dead. Huh? I'll need to follow up on this, I was thinking about going over spring break. That would indeed, be too bad, the bourgeoise taking over the cultural capital of the US.
Syria and Lebannon

It's nice to see the focus of the problems in the middle east shift away from from Israel for a little while. F the Syrian thugs. Go Lebannon. Yeah.
Body Mass Index

I'm not really sure you need a calculation tool to figure out whether you're overweight or underweight or normal, but in case anyone was looking for one.
It's Raining

It's pouring, the old man is snoring.
The Underminer

Just from the blurb, this could be the best book written this year.
G W Bush

He doesn't anger me as much as he seems to anger most people I know. But he apparently loved Hotel Rwanda...watched it twice and wanted to meet with the guy who the story is based around.

Fans in high places
Add President Bush, the first lady, and the cabinet to the fans of Hotel Rwanda, the film about how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle with Hutu militia killers. Bush saw it twice and "loved it" so much, said an aide, that he hoped to meet with Rusesabagina during his trip this week to Europe. That was, until the White House found out the hero was in Washington last Thursday. So after lunch, the first family and Rusesabagina and his wife huddled in the Oval Office. "[Bush] said he was very much moved by the movie," the humanitarian told us. He also said the prez revealed his goal of ending genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. "He's very much concerned about it. He's very much committed to solving the issue."

So it turns out GW has really bad taste in films, I would have expected nothing less....but it's really, really odd that he liked THIS film. It seems to me that a dumbshit liberal would be fooled and suckered by a film like Hotel Rwanda. If Bush wasn't Bush and wasn't cutting taxes to the wealthy, I might be suckered into thinking, by his foreign policy, spending habits, and film tastes, that he was secretly a Progressive Wilsonian Democrat.
Hunter Thompson

I don't think I've ever read any of his books. I may have read Fear and Loathing. I don't remember. Here's an interesting post talking about his life. And here's the SF Chronicle article...where he used to work in the 80s...I guess he actually worked at the Examiner, but now the chronicle and Examiner are one in the same.

A quote from the man, I find worthwhile:

It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—that kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run ...

Sort of sums up life a little bit, eh?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Theo Van Gogh

Here's a dutch intelligence report on the Theo Van Gogh murder. Very interesting. My understanding is that Dutch intelligence is famous for being quite good for a European service.

The most interesting point with this report, that differs from my popularized version of the Van Gogh murder, is that Van Gogh was NOT attacked as a result of the offensive nature of his movie. The killing was NOT a reactionary move. Rather, making the film "Submission" put Van Gogh on a "target list" by a radical Islamic group because he became a public symbol of anti-Islamic thought. This list included a couple of Dutch politicians, including a mayor and a few representatives to Dutch of those representatives was the screenwriter of the project, a Muslim-Somali women, who, police think, was the real target of the attack. The Islamicists could not get to her because she already had police protection. Van Gogh was a secondary target.

The reasons for the attack, again, were not simply a reaction to the film. The attacked coincided with the US assault on Falluja and was meant as a response by a loosely-organized insurgent group, with ties to Zarqawi as a counter attack.

It's an interesting, rather long report, worth reading if these issues are of interest to you.
Best Undergrad Academics In the Country

Or at least the top 10, right here. A bunch of colleges you wouldn't expect, I suspect. I'm proud of all the liberal arts schools - I'm of course biased, but I certainly think you can get the best education from them.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Hey, Leave Lindsey Alone

I don't like crew members who talk shit about Lindsey Lohan. She has the right, like any 18 year, to come to work hung over, drunk, and not respect her elders.
Girls Suck at Math and Science

Hehehehehe. I know this kicked off a firestorm on my blog a couple weeks back and here it comes up again on Nate's New Blog, which will be added to the blogroll on the left. But the Sullivan quote pretty much sums up my position way more simply and better than I did....

I cannot believe the hysteria. Well, actually, the sad things is I can believe it. But if Summers goes down, the chilling effect on intellectual freedom in this country will be intense. That's what the far left wants - turning universities into propaganda tools rather than centers for genuine intellectual inquiry. The idea of the university, to purloin Newman and Oakeshott, is under attack. This is about far more than university politics. It's about the future of free inquiry.

Ahhh the future of fair inquiry.
More Torture

I fail to see how this helps anyone in anyway. Man, I wish the world wasn't so filled with morons.
Michael Mann

Watched the Insider again last night - great movie. It's what every docudrama should aspire to be. It makes little things one wouldn't think of as being filmmable, interesting. I find that pretty spectacular. One of the best sequences is at the driving range, when Russell Crowe notices a corporate thug spying on him. No dialog, nothing flashy, just pure visual storytelling with music (it's Michael Mann, after all) and you're totally scared and wrapped up in this man's predicament.

Some other great scenes - Mike Wallace yelling at the corporate lacky's at CBS. The lawyer going off on the Brown and Williamson lawyer....these are scenes that had they been done on documentary, probably wouldn't have had the dramatic impact, because I'd imagine a regular office scene would be fairly boring, as would a sworn deposition. And who knows if the incidents really happened on not. But for a fiction film, they are constructed, and they work great. My other favorite part is Pacino going off on Wallace and the news executive about why they won't run the segment - "Is he telling the truth? Yes. Is it newsworthy? Yes. Are we going to run it? Of course not. And why are we not going to run it? Because he's telling the truth."

Doing this director presentation on Mann just makes me respect the man more and more.

Now, this is how product placement ought to work.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ethically Questionable

I just showed a segment I edited for documentary class, where I very purposefully selected the most radical and edgy thing a Muslim guy I interviewed said in order to provoke a response from the audience. I tried to counter it with the revealing of him as a character, to make him likable later in the piece. Overall, however, I felt like selecting any 5 minutes from a 60 min interview was going to be misleading...and at the forefront of my mind was always - will this be interesting to watch.
Tired of Mapquest

Here's another directions website recommendend by my friend, who specializes in geography, cartography, and all things related to directions.
Torture and So Forth

One night we argued in the Lucas lounge about the legitimacy of torture under certain circumstances. The Film School crowd seemed horrified at my position that in certain circumstances torture would be permissible. Here's a post at Instapundit that reiterates my essential position....but more importantly, the position of most Americans and I would argue, most reasonable, rationale Americans.

As a note, everyone makes the slippery slope argument here, but I don't understand why. The slippery slope these days is often used to avoid making difficult decisions or taking difficult positions. Its an oversimplification.

Dumbass biker gangs were roving up and down Sunset last night, cruising fast through the middle of lanes, causing havoc and cars to slow down and get nervous. Fucking idiots. I ought to have bumped one of them....their intimidation tactics are perfect for this day and age - intimidation through your fear of hurting them. Almost ironic, if it wasn't so pathetic.

What makes people want to be a part of hundreds of bikers wearing gay-colored jackets and crotch rockets? Were they rejected from fraternities at large State schools?

Motorcycles...honestly, who rides a motorcycle?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I had a good conversation with a professor at USC today about the state of the documentary I'm developing. She gave me tons to was almost humorous, her answer to most of my questions went something like this, "oh, you should really read this book, or this article," and she kept piling things on me. Academics.

Eventually, I actually stopped her and told her about why I wanted to make a documentary, as opposed to say, write an article or book - to get more at the personal side of things, as opposed to simply the readerly. Anyhow, it was still good stuff.

We talked about how America is perceived around the world and she seemed to think, like most people, that America is perceived as ignorant and bossy to people in the middle east. Even the French and British, she insists tend to know more about the middle east and muslim culture and so forth, and therefore their news coverage and so forth tend to reflect a greater sophistication.

It got me thinking about the hostility towards America and I'm beginning to think it's all about power. America is probably less ignorant today than of any other time in our history. Prior to WWI, we were essentially an isolationist nation - we exercised power in subtle ways, but we weren't widely recognized as the exercisers of power around the world. Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and so forth would exercise power much more liberally than the US.

During the Cold War, we exercised a great deal of power around the world, as a counterweight to the Soviets. We were the source of some anger, but we got to share it with the Soviets, who I'd argue, were probably worse than we were.

Without the Soviets, we are the lone super power. We exercise power overtly and without shame. And this builds resentment. Whether it's justified is another factor. I've been in a position of power at an office and believe me, the crap I dealt with from underlings was unbelievable...almost as unbelievable as the bullshit I had to take from my bosses.

With the exercise of power, we ought to expect a certain amount of resentment. My question for Americans is this: Do we deserve this power? Are we responsible enough to exercise it? Are we capable of being a good boss? Are we ready?

Part of me truly thinks the answer to this is no. We aren't ready. But the other question is - what is the alternative? Power will exist whether we exercise it or not. The question is whether we are better suited to exercise power over Iraq than Saddam. These types of questions are what we are faced with today. Perhaps this is a lens we ought to be using more, as opposed to the typical justifications of war, ethical, strategic, ideological, etc....

My roommate was at Ikea yesterday and alerted me to a new promotion - a breakfast, eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, and coffee...apparently of fairly decent quality (better than anything around USC, he says) for get this, 99 cents.

My reaction: "Impossible. Coffee costs 99 cents."

"It's a loss operation, simply meant to get people in the door, since folks don't really live around Ikeas."

Pure fun. I'm definately hitting it up. They say free food tastes better...well, really cheap food might as well.
Nothing to Say

I have nothing to say this morning, and it appears I am not alone. CNN's big headline is that Michael Jackson goes to the hospital. It's so inane, I have nothing smart, funny, or stupid to say about it.
Alice is Not Alone

Sadly, the growing popularity of blogging has it's downside. All the more reason not to take a corporate job.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Just got added to my blogbar, mostly because of how popular she is and how much I'd imagine liking her site. I haven't read it all that much. Anyhow, I like this post, sometimes I feel like this in LA, in the entertainment industry.
Privitize Marriage

Now the idea is up on Instapundit - articulated, of course, much better than I did....but I've been saying this since last Valentine's day.
Talk About Thinking Outside the Box

Now this is an easier, more plausible, future solution to oil consumption and traffic than anything else I've heard lately - even better than hybrids - telecommuting.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Fellow Bloggers

May find this interesting, particularly because I often hear this coming from people when I ask them why they aren't blogging more or why they don't start a blog.
World War II Revisionism

Neo Nazis mourn the Dresdon bombings. Osama Bin Laden rails against the US for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We all thought we won WWII and that all agreed upon it. Why are these old things coming up now? Who said History repeats itself?
Interactive Project Proposal

Summary: “Film Producer” will be a website game. Players will go to a website and create their own “film project” by selecting packaging elements from a database, including actors, genre, story elements, director, writer(s), marketing strategies, and so forth. The website will run an algorithm that determines the cost and profit of the film “developed” by the player.

The Model
: I grew up playing simple computer games. I remember most vividly Lemonade and Oregon Trail. Lemonade was a simple game packaged with the Apple IIe computer, in which the player operated a lemonade stand and depending on the weather, cost of suger, lemons, cups, etc, chose how many cups of lemonade to make on a given day. The goal of the game was to make as much money as possible, by making enough lemonade to serve the customers, but not too much where you were wasting the raw supplies.

A similar, but more sophisticated game was Oregon Trail, in which the player chose his profession and consequently how much money and resources he began with. The challenge was to lead his family across the Oregon Trail, surviving with limited resources. To eat, the player could buy food, or hunt food (but it took valuable time to hunt and the player needed to purchase ammunition). The player also needed money to buy clothes, medical supplies for the family, or to pay for a ferry across a river. If proper measures were not taken, family members died off, one by one, from sickness or hunger or cold. The goal of the game was to survive the Oregon Trail get the most “points.” A player accumulated points when family members survived and what supplies were left over. A player got double and triple points if you did it as a poorer occupation, because you accomplished the trip with the fewest resources. The game adds an elements of luck, sometimes you lose supplies or Indians attack, but you can increase or decrease the chances of these unlucky events happening by planning well.

The Game: The film producer game would follow these simple models, a free website where players can go to create their own “ideas” for movies. The player or “producer” essentially packages elements from a large database of information.

One of the most fun and important aspects to the game would be to keep up-to-date information on the film industry from resources such as IMDB to accurately predict the “value” of each film product. Incorporating not only film industry information, but news about world events and conditions, competition from other industries, and general trends of public interest, would make the game more pleasurable and dynamic.

The goal of the game would be twofold – first to provide an entertaining game for web surfers to play in their downtime, to package deals they think may be interesting and to see whether their package is profitable. We hope the game will be thorough, accurate, and fun, enough so that studio executives and producers will eventually use the game as a tool to develop films. We already know this how many Hollywood movies are made, by the way the films are marketed and the ways they are developed. For example a simplified version of Wild Wild West (1999) would be conceived as such:

genre1: Western
genre2: Comedy
actor1: Will Smith
character1: studly sheriff
tag: good guy
actor2: Kevin Kline
character2: smart sheriff
tag: good guy
actor3: Salma Hayek
character3: damsel in distress
tag: good girl
tag: character twist
actor4: Dennis Quaid
character4: a confederate general
tag: bad guy
director: Barry Sonnenfeld
screenwriter: Jim Thomas
story element1: hyper-styled technology
story element2: one-line humor
story element3: minor twist at end
rating: PG-13
distributor: Warner Brothers

Each element has a specific valuation assigned, for example:

Will Smith = 100,000,000 (average of prior Will Smith films of similar scale)
Barry Sonnenfield = 50,000,000 (average of prior Sonnenfield films of similar scale)

In addition to a value, each element would be given a “relative value,” that is, a figure that would determine the influence over the entire movie of a given element. For instance:

Will Smith = .4
Barry Sonnenfield = .2
(Martin Scorcese might be a .6, because of the tendency of his films to have his “signature” on them. Same goes for a Warren Beatty movie or a Charlie Kaufman movie).

The combination “relative values” would allow the creation of a “multiplier” for each specific movie project. In the simplified example:

Will Smith multiplier = .4/(.4+.2) = .66
Barry Sonnenfield multiplier = .2/(.4+.2) = .33

The total valuation of the sample project would be:

Will Smith value: 100,000,000 x .66 + Barry Sonnenfield value: 50,000,000 x .33
= 82,500,000.

There would, of course, be more elements to each project to get the final total value of the project. Additionally, there would be a factor of “successful” combinations. For instance, a George Cloony and Steven Soderburgh movie would have a bonus added to the separate valuations of each of their elements. On the flip side, there would also be “negative” valuations for overused combinations. For instance, Freddie Prince Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

A final, important factor, would be the market factor. This would be a separate multiplier on the “total valuation” that would incorporate larger trends of movies against other industries and world events that would affect the number of movies people attend.

We would need to work out kinks with the mathematics and ensure the respective valuations were correct, but the basic principles outlined in the above example is how the database will operate.

The second, larger, philosophical reason for the game is to demonstrate how the process of putting together a film resembles a database of selected elements and that a film is nothing more than a construction of preexisting elements rather than an story of universal experience. Influenced by narratogolists Levi Strauss and M.M. Bakhtin, we will attempt to actualize a model for movie-making, helping to demonstrate, through interactive repetition, the codes and myths and structures behind films themselves. Once exposed, we hope filmmakers will be forced to develop new codes and create ways to excite and pleasure an audience in a different manner than the traditional method of Hollywood. The existence of the game is also a parody – the literal embodiment of a mechanized filmmaking process, undermining the idea of telling a true, universal story, but instead highlighting the processes, particularly market processes, that dominate which films are made each year.

The technical models we will emulate are the simplicity of google format, the density of information from IMDB, and the repititious fun of simple role playing games like Lemonade and Oregon Trail.

We will try to keep the game as simple and accurate, with the assumption that the simplicity and accuracy are what will make the game enjoyable. We will “play” with different elements and each element category will be an ongoing data field, constantly being updated with new information. We can use preexisting databases such as IMDB and collect lists of writers, actors, and directors from the WGA, DGA, and SAG.

Perhaps the most exciting element of the “Film Producer” is that it will serve as a starting point. Player data will be stored and can be tested later as to the accuracy of the predictive value. Surely, game players will devise “films” that actually get made by Hollywood. Perhaps a more sophisticated version of the game will be used to develop “pitches” to be taken into Hollywood executives or copyrighted as an original idea.

Just in case anyone was wondering what I do in my free time.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Gender Roles

After the show, I went out and realized this morning how often we fall into the typical gender roles.

I arrive at my friend's (a girl) house, bearing beer (as if it's the only thing a man can supply to a dinner party). I eat the food that she's prepared (as if only a women could do the cooking). Then we went out and I drove and the guys paid for the drinks. Typical.

Undermining gender roles will start when women start paying for drinks. I doubt many women are into THAT kind of equality.

Oh damn, I see an argument in the future....

Comment: Wooo hooo, drinks on my-december! But seriously, the greatest contribution of feminism to the world, I think, is the notion that the personal is POLITICAL. Practicing feminism is living it - and a decent start is to start paying for my drinks. :)
Herbie Hancock

Last night Herbie Hancock played at Bovard Auditorium. I'd been planning on going for weeks, but didn't get tickets because I was afraid I was going to need to rehearse and/or shoot. By the time I knew I wasn't, it was so close to the day, I decided I'd just try to buy tickets at the door. So I'm running way late and mosy up to Bovard, noticing the big RV that brought all the equipment and performers to the show parked behind the building. I walk around and see a back door, open it, follow some folks walking in...walk down hallway, open a door and BLAM - I'm in the auditorium full of well dressed students and jazz aficionados listening to the end of the warm up act.

An usher says, "would you like this seat near the aisle?" To which, I nod, "Sure, I suppose," and I sit guiltily thinking she's going to come down later and ask for my ticket. Minutes pass, the set wraps, a brief intermission, and I realize I'm home free.

Herbie comes on with Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker, the two celebrated horns (I guess Brecker is technically a reed instrument, but whatever) and they start their set.

It was alright. Jazz, to me, for all it's roots in improvisation and so forth is nowadays a little stuffy and formal. The audience sits, unmoving, listening to the finest of fine sound systems exporting music from the most technically gifted musicians on the planet. It's like watching a very well crafted film - like the English Patient. What I miss, and I'm not sure if it was ever truly like this, is Bird or Miles or Coltrane playing deep into the night in a dark club with whisky and smoke and a shitty sound system and just blowing their souls all over the crowd. But I imagine there was always a rigidity to jazz that I don't imagine, standards, and so forth.

The tunes they played were solid, but boring, my favorite parts were little riffs from Coltrane by Brecker, I recognized a few popular little elements that sounded like Love Supreme and Blue Note - but maybe I was just hearing things.

My favorite part of the show was when Brecker came onto the stage by himself to show off his EWI, which was an electronic synthesizing wind instrument. He could blow notes that would loop and then overlay more notes. He played some funky tunes and was bouncing all around the stage. After that, the encore was improvised for the most part, and the second most enjoyable part of the show.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Just watch this little fucker. 9 years old.
My Man on Afghanistan

Here's my boy who wrote Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies Eyes in a super long interview. I couldn't stop reading it.

The truth is scary:

"To secure as much of our way of life as possible, we will have to use military force in the way Americans used it on the fields of Virginia and Georgia, in France and on Pacific islands, and from skies over Tokyo and Dresden. Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms.

"Killing large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertilizer plants and grain mills--all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base. Land mines, moreover, will be massively reintroduced to seal borders and mountain passes too long, high, or numerous to close with U.S. soldiers. As noted, such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows. Again, this sort of bloody mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world."

And then there's this:

The fact is that any other terrorist group that America has ever thought would have been destroyed if it had as much damage visited on it as the directorate of operations at CIA has visited on al Qaeda. The president says we've destroyed two thirds of their leadership and arrested or killed 4,000 of them. And out of the next breath, he's saying they can detonate a weapon of mass destruction in the United States. The plain fact is we, as a country, look at terrorists as criminals and arresting them is the answer. As long as we do that against al Qaeda and its allies, we're going to get licked every time, because it won't work.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Iranian Web Blogger Arrested

And she recounts her story in the LA Times. Farsi is the 3rd most popular language for weblogs after English and Chinese, if my facts are correct...these kooks running Iran can't expect to be able to control that, do they?

Reading this makes me feel nauseous for when clever American's refer to Orwellian behaviour by our government. Doesn't that degrade accounts such as these which are in fact truly Orwellian?

Does it lead to a form of moral bankruptcy that fails to distinguish between a necessary evil (government itself - under which I would include the American government) and unnecessary evil (the Iranian government interrogating a citizen for webloging and forcing her to tell them about having pre-marital sex with her boyfriend).

Man, I wish I kick that interrogaters ass.
Maybe the Best Article I've Ever Read

Wow, that's a bold statement, but this is fantastic, particularly for someone like me - who considers himself a liberal progressive and NOT part of the current American Left.

These distinctions are important to understand these days.

North Korea is claiming they have a nuclear bomb. Greeeeaaat.

If anyone in the world figures out how to deal with countries like that, please feel free to post the comment on my blog.
On Michael Mann
More Censorship

Again, I've been censored...this time by a parent of a actor who doesn't approve of some of the content I added to a scene I'm directing. It kinda sucks, cause I don't have time to re-cast, the actor is down with it, it would be absolutely amazing for the scene, but the parent is uncomfortable with the message. I have this feeling this issue is going to continue to arise in any interesting project I do in the future. Boo hoo.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Gung Hei Fat Choy

Year of the rooster, suckas.
Euro Pundit

I've never read this blog before, but wow, what writing. It reminds of John Le Carre, which in my book is the highest of compliments.

Those whom the fall of the Berlin Wall had left orphans of a cause, spent the next decade plotting the containment of the US. It was a complex operation that involved the (in many cases state-sponsored) mushrooming of NGOs, Kyoto, the creation of the ICC, the salami tactics applied against America’s main strategic ally in the Middle-East, Israel, through the Trojan Horse of the Oslo agreements, the subversion of the sanctions against Iraq etc. I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as to think that all these efforts were in any way centralized or that they had some kind of master-plan behind them. It was above all the case of the spirit of the times converging, through many independent manifestations, towards a single goal.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Related Items

Does anyone else think this Abu Gharib stuff is related to these hazing incidents?

Methinks they are....

Methinks the Columbine incident is related to 9/11, Michael Moore suggests in Bowling for Columbine.

And I don't think this is related to anything...a girl scalped by another, older women for revenge. In Gregville, where we execute cannibals, would lock up scalpers for the rest of their lives - even if the victims happen to live. Fucked up weirdos bug me a lot because their goals are to be fucked up to fuck with everyone else's minds. I think a murderer who eats his victims is worse than a murderer who kills someone for revenge or anger or money. But maybe that's just me.
Volunteer Taxes?

I get annoyed with people who think the answer to all social problems is spending more money. It's an oversimplified position to say, "I believe education, welfare, social security, etc ought to have more money." Well, duh! Of course they should...everything SHOULD have more money. The whole point of money is that it is a tool to relativize value.

The analogy I use from my field is the budget on a film project. In student films, I've noticed no correlation between the cost of a film and the value of the product. In fact, if anything, I've noticed a negative correlation. When the costs of films are high, it puts enormous pressure on the director to succeed. Furthermore, it gives the film a professional look, which oftentimes serves to highlight the deficiencies of the project - inexperienced directing, writing, and acting. Sometimes, spending more is actually a hinderance. Robert Rodiguez says the same in his intro to filmmaking book....he argues that when money is no object, any problem that arises is solved by throwing money at it. Not the right sun today? Lets bring in HMIs. Not the right weather? Let's wait two weeks until the "right" weather hits. Not the right performance? We'll add music in post-production from a big pop star. These kind of solutions are possible with money. Without money, you need to be creative. Necessity is the mother of creation. Not the right weather? Shoot anyway - and perhaps you get the end of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, the snow storm, one of the most amazing sequences I've ever seen. Not the "right" performance. Maybe you get Klaus Kinski in Aguirre, Wrath of God. What a nut.

Anyhoo - why don't we implement a little additional element to our tax system where one can voluntarily pay more taxes? Then, instead of complaining about lower taxes, anyone can voluntarily pay more taxes to help fund the programs the government deems vital. People can stop being generous with other people's money and can affect change on their own. Just a thought.

This is an amazingly well written and thoughtful article on steriods and baseball, which is, the author acknowledges, "the elephant in the room everyone is ignoring."

I like the home runs, but can't imagine a future of public acceptance of steriod use in professional sports. In fact, I don't want to imagine such a future.

One of the most fucked up things that this draws attention to is the entire concept of cheating. When I was young, cheaping was oftentimes rampant in school. There was a time when nearly every student in 6th grade had access to history tests and greater than 50% of students cheated on the tests. In high school the trend continued, but it kept much quieter. The entire ethos of cheating involved the odds of being caught versus the qualms with such behaviour. In college, people were accused of cheating, but in the type of classes I took, cheating was basically impossible, unless you wanted to plagerize.

I never cheated much. I remember having access to some tests in middle school, and using them basically as a study tool and remembering the answers...but this was only a couple of times. To me, it was easy enough to study and I wasn't a grade fiend - I got good, not great, grades, and didn't care or need to cheat. The most fucked up thing I can remember doing would have been going back to sections on tests when I ran out of time.

Last semester I was talking to a professor about his fear of students plagerizing and he told me several students were kicked out of school because they plagerized his final exam paper on Star Wars. I laughed. What are people thinking? Why are they in school? Why cheat on something like that? Why take the class? Why pay $2000 to steal a paper off the internet? It's so stupid.

But...and here's the big but, it seems to me that in the "real" world, cheating is REWARDED. We act shocked with these steriod allegations. We acted shocked at Martha Stewart, at Enron, but these are symptoms of largely accepted practices. In the film business, producers constantly lie and cheat on their budgets. At USC, you break the rules and you get applause.

I don't think the answer to the cheating issue is always a crackdown. In the case of USC, think it ought to be the opposite - the loosening of rules. At USC, with all the shooting rules and restrictions, one is almost forced to "cheat." If you follow all the rules, you get fucked in the ass, thinking about bureacratic obstacles for everything. In school, from a young age, I think we should simply use an honor code. If someone wants to cheat - let them. We should eliminate this attitude towards cheaters that they must be caught, or else we'll get screwed...that simply leads to people thinking they need to cheat to keep up with the Jones'.

With respect to steriods, it becomes a health wearing safety belts. No steriods because it'll cause you harm down the line. With respect to money - we need to protect people from hustling one another. The simply way to do it, is double the penalties for those who get caught. If Martha Stewart screws smaller shareholders out of money from access to privileged information - she pays them back, double. We have actuaries who can figure it out.

I dunno, those are my thoughts.
Fucking Idiots

Is all I have to say about this.

It's awfully hard to get excited about "cease-fires" in Israel-Palestine, but this does feel substantial, doesn't it? I wonder how Abbas will try to reign in Hamas? Or will Hamas morph into a different organization. I don't see any way Hamas, as it exists now, can coexist with Israel peacefully. As an organization, it refuses to recognize the Israeli state. What is interesting, however, in this coverage, is that it points out the Palestinian problem - which are militants unwilling to try to force ahead for peace, but neglects to mention that Israel has the same type of militants on the other side. Sharon is in danger anytime he concedes anything to the Palestinians, as Rabin learned the hard way. We rarely hear about this intense pressure on Sharon, who I commend in his bravery to go against what he has stood for his entire life because he sees the necessesity of change for the long term survival of the Israeli state.

IF...and that's a big IF, this works and some type of Palestinian state can be set up in the next couple of years, with the recognition by other Arab states and the UN...well, that will really take the wind out of the sails for the Islamofascists, won't it? All of sudden, 5-8 years after 9/11, the facists will have lost their home base (Afghanistan), lost their biggest souce of popular support in the world (Palestinian-Israeli issue), and perhaps biggest of all, the future for Arab countries will look brighter with democratic reforms in Iraq demonstrating that indeed, the Arab world is capable of having a functioning democracy.

Monday, February 07, 2005

100 Greatest Directors

This may be sort of fun. It's just an list someone came up with, but I'd like to play along and give my favorite film for each director listed versus their favorite film.

To be continued....

1. Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho) [Agree, but also check out - The Lodger]
2. Stanley Kubrick (Dr Strangelove) [Agree, but also check out - The Killing]
3. Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) [Taxi Driver]
4. Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) [Rashoman]
5. Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) [Agree]
6. Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List) [Raiders of the Lost Ark]
7. Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) [Agree]
8. Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) [?]
9. Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita) [? - check out I Vittolini]
10. John Ford (The Searchers) [Agree]
11. Frank Capra (It's A Wonderful Life) [Agree]
12. Elia Kazan (On The Waterfront) [Agree]
13. Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) [Godfather Part II]
14. John Huston (African Queen) [?]
15. Oliver Stone (Platoon) [Agree]
16. Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly) [Agree - although Once Upon a Time in the West is pretty cool]
17. David Lean (Bridge On The River Kwai) [?]
18. William Wyler (Ben Hur) [?]
19. David Lynch (Blue Velvet) [Mullholland Drive or Lost Highway]
20. Luis Bunuel (The Golden Age) [?]
21. Ridley Scott (Gladiator) [Blade Runner]
22. Sydney Lumet (Network) [?]
23. Francois Truffaut (The 400 Blows) [?]
24. Roman Polanski (Chinatown) [Agree]
25. Laurence Olivier (Hamlet) [?]
26. George Lucas (Star Wars) [Agree]
27. Jean Luc Godard (Breathless) [Agree]
28. D.W. Giffith (Birth Of A Nation) [?]
29. Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin) [October]
30. John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate) [Black Sunday]
31. Charlie Chaplin (City Lights) [Agree]
32. Milos Forman (Amadeus) [One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest]
33. Robert Altman (Nashville) [McCabe and Mrs. Miller]
34. Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) [Straw Dogs]
35. Cecil B. De Mille (Cleopatra) [?]
36. Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) [Batman]
37. Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing) [Agree, but 25th Hour is close]
38. Woody Allen (Annie Hall) [Agree, but there are a couple of other noteable ones]
39. Jean Renoir (The Rules Of The Game) [Agree!]
40. Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) [Agree!]
41. Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) [Agree]
42. Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) [Sex Lies and Videotape or Out of Sight]
43. Erich Von Stroheim (Greed) [?]
44. Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) [Agree, reluctantly]
45. Alan J Pakula (Sophie's Choice) [Agree, but I don't really know]
46. Michael Mann (Heat) [Agree - Collateral is pretty damn cool]
47. Joel Cohen (Fargo) [Agree - Raising Arizona is pretty damn cool - as is Miller's Crossing]
48. F.W. Murnau (Sunrise) [?]
49. Jim Jarmusch (Night On Earth) [?]
50. Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) [Agree]
51. Terry Gilliam (Brazil) [Agree]
52. John Cassavetes (Opening Night) [?]
53. David Fincher (Seven) [Fight Club]
54. James Cameron (Titanic) [Terminator II]
55. Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream) [Pi]
56. George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid) [Agree]
57. Sydney Pollack (Out Of Africa) [Tootsie]
58. Howard Hawks (His Girl Friday) [Rio Bravo]
59. John Carpenter (Halloween) [Escape From New York]
60. Fred Zinneman (High Noon) [Day of the Jackel]
61. George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story) [?]
62. John Schlessinger (Midnight Cowboy) [Agree]
63. Norman Jewison (In The Heat Of The Night)
64. Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly)
65. Buster Keaton (Our Hospitality)
66. Anthony Minghella (The English Patient)
67. Mike Nichols (The Graduate)
68. Lewis Milestone (All Quiet On The Western Front)
69. Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally)
70. Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects)
71. Christopher Nolan (Insomnia)
72. Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs)
73. Brian De Palma (Scarface)
74. William Friedkin (The Exorcist)
75. Michael Curtiz (Casablanca)
76. Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line)
77. Victor Fleming (Gone With The Wind)
78. Joseph L Mankiewicz (All About Eve)
79. Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter)
80. Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings)
81. Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles)
82. Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet)
83. Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without A Cause)
84. Arthur Penn (Bonnie And Clyde)
85. Clarence Brown (Anna Christie)
86. Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show)
87. Blake Edwards (A Shot In The Dark)
88. Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential)
89. Sam Mendes (American Beauty)
90. Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter)
91. Vincente Minnelli (An American In Paris)
92. Robert Wise (The Sound Of Music)
93. John Woo (Face Off)
94. Sam Wood (A Night At The Opera)
95. Carol Reed (The Third Man)
96. Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)
97. Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy)
98. Don Siegel (Dirty Harry)
99. Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day)
100. George Romero (Night Of The Living Dead)
Kids Part Deux

As a follow up to my earlier posts on the kids at the movie shoot I was on this weekend...I wrote earlier about how the 4 year old did not get sarcasm, but the 6 year olds and older did "get" sarcasm. Well, I took the test a little further on Sunday while I was playing Uno with two eleven year olds. I asked a silly question to make fun of the game and one of the kids says, "What were you, born yesterday?" To which I replied, "No, yesterday I was at the movie shoot." They were like, "What are you talking about - you don't understand?" And I kept up the ruse, saying, "I was at the movie shoot all day yesterday, so obviously I didn't have any time to be born." They thought I was some total idiot from outerspace because they didn't understand the double-sarcasm or whatever you want to call the odd response I gave them.

Also, I think videotaping the background kid actors running around going crazy would be a more interesting 12 minutes than a "kids" movie. I'm a little biased, cause I don't like kids movies, but I tell ya, these "actor" kids getting together is a little nutso and quite interesting....a few highlights:

1. A 11 year old boy trying to "ham" it up with the 10 and 11 year old girls. He's flirting without even realizing it - asking them about how they were "discovered" and whether they have an acting coach. The girls were preoccupied with playing some type of game, but the guy was just trying to fit in and make friends. It was funny.

2. An African American boy was trying to refer to a younger African American girl whose name he didn't know and he referred to her as "the black girl." Well, this sparked off a firestorm of debate amongst the kids about why he called her the black girl, and why not the girl in the pink jacket and so forth. Some kids were more outraged than others who felt it an innocent remark because he didn't know her name.

3. The way the kids treat animals is actually rather abusive. There was the cutest little golden retriever puppy and the kids would chase it around and try to vie for it's attention by taunting it and grabbing it and putting it down the slide and pushing it and encouraging it to chase it's tail. And the parents just sat around letting them be little tyrants towards the dog. I didn't like it.

I've been censored by friends. One comment, I ignore, two comments makes me think twice.

First comment was by Chuck, which I inadvertantly deleted when taking down the pictures, but it was general horror at posting pictures of actors.

Second comment was by Avital: "I was horrified to see that you posted those actresses photos on your blog...i think it's a violation of their trust in posting on nowcasting and for your casting call. Now casting is not a public site, per se...It also feels pretty humiliating that you would do that to these women. none of them
consented that you place their image on a public blog site. anyway, i hope you consider taking them down."

Maybe my moral compass is off, but I didn't think this was a big deal for a couple of reasons....

First, the main point is about nowcasting - that these people post their pictures and resumes without even looking at the breakdown. I was looking for mentally handicapped people and thought maybe some down syndrome actors were on nowcasting. Instead, I get a bunch of glamour shots. I found it amusing. Pictures were more powerful that simply describing it.

Second, I think this goes back to the issue Alice faced when her boss asked her to take down entries off the blog. Here was my post then.

It is nutto to think that having these pictures of actresses up on Public Musings is going to affect them in any way. Between 20-30 people read this blog per day, most of whom are my friends. How does having their pictures up affect that? Sure, they didn't consent, but they would also never know.

That being said, I'm not being brave like Alice, and refusing to take my post down for a couple of reasons. I don't think this is something I should try to take a principled stand on - cause I suspect I might be in the wrong (but isn't that what makes it a little funny?) Also, I'm not trying to alienate readers. I'm perhaps trying to be provocative, but those lines can be fuzzy.

But I'd also like to point out a little hypocracy here. First, none of us directors would have any problem showing each other someone's headshot that was inappropriate or otherwise funny - isn't that a violation of their trust? Okay, fine, that's private, but this is public.....ahhhh, but in SPO there is always a headshot of the week posted up as a joke. Right now, it's some guy as a hacidic Jew or in some type of weird get-up. In the past, it's been a fat chick. No one seems to have a problem with that, yet it a lot more people see it and it's posted in this major public thoroughfare.

Also, I was in agreement with the outrage over Alice being fired for blogging and for the gay teacher being fired for blogging. But if you think there is no right to public "private" information (ie pictures) in a public space, without the consent of the person's name or picture or whatever, then it seems to me you ought to side with Alice's employer or the school who fired the gay teacher. What right does Alice have to publish funny anecdotes about her boss being an idiot? He does not consent to the publishing.

And lastly - ask yourselves this...would it be different if these were men, instead of women? I strongly suspect the reaction would not have been the same. You tell me.

UPDATE: I don't know if this was clear to Chuck, but the label retard was an explicit reference to the post they were responding to - for a mentally handicapped person. And I thought it was clear from the photos that these were not mentally handicapped actors - just ones who didn't read the breakdown.
SF Music Scene

What's so funny about this article is that I feel like I know and am a part of everything they are talking about. I remember the old Justice League and their hip hop shows - I saw Mos Def there. And I also know the Justice League was headed down the tubes because San Fran is not a hip hop town. I remember the old Tacquaria they are turning into the Galaxy 12...I remember the crazy guy walking downtown with his signs that the club is named after. I understand completely the sense that all music in SF is either house, cover bands, or top 40 DJs. House is the only interesting music in SF and if it's not your thing, well, there ain't much else.

Went to see DJ Shadow when I was up there last weekend, he even gets a mention in the article. What a douche-bag. He actually played "I love rock and roll." 'Nuff said.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Working on a 581 thesis film today...craziness. It's a kids movie, Disney-esque, and not my style, but today on set, there were tons of kids ages 4-12. I really liked hanging out with some of them. One set of red-headed brothers were fairly receptive to learning how to throw rocks properly...a 12 year old girl challenged me to a chess - that's right chess - she brought her own set and almost beat me. It was a close game that I finally won. Obviously, I'm not a good chess player, but she's freaking 12 for chrissake. A couple of the other kids were cool. Some weren't so cool. One 4 year old didn't understand sacrasm and got a little upset when I joked with her about having to leave the set because she was smooshing doritos into the ground. Some of the kids were liars - the told me the turtle ate some lettuce and wanted to show me, but it turned out the turtle just walked over the lettuce and it was sitting under him. They remind me of adults, often wanting something to be true so bad that they believe it, even if the evidence supports the other interpretation. I called them on their bullshit. They're also the only reason I'm slightly looking forward to tomorrow.

Coachella line up looks a lot weaker than in previous years Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Hoping to Find a Retard

I posted on nowcasting for a retarded girl, ages 20-25. See the full post here. These are 10 of the 14 responses below. Hmmmmm.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Movies on TV

Watching Donnie Brasco on TV - not a great film, but a damn fine performance by Al Pacino, if you ask me. Man, he's really doing something different from his usual post-Oscar ranting. And Johnnie Depp is so subtle and young. How old is he when this movie is made? (I checked - 37) He'd made tons of films by this point...but I guess this was sort of the start of him getting huge.

And Mo' Betta Blues - my favorite sequence from this movie is when Bleak (Denzel) returns from his injury and his old girlfriend and band underling are together and making amazing music. Her singing career has taken off and she sings Harlem Blues, one of my favorite made for movie tunes....
Proving a Point

My newest nowcasting notice:


Cast in Los Angeles | Released In Los Angeles
SAG Eligible Graduate Project | Starts: 2/8 or 2/12 or 2/13
Faculty Advisor: Jeremey Kagan
Director: Greg Johnson
Format: Digital Video
Audition Dates: 2/7
Pay Rate: Copy Credit Food
Electronic Submissions Only

Project Notes: Scene to be done for professional director Jeremey Kagan

Marcy - Starring / FEMALE / 20 TO 25 / 3' 0" - 5' 11" / Mentally handicapped female
Helpful Skills - Down syndrome
A down syndrome girl tries to seduce her school tutor.

Story Line: A mentally handicapped women tries to seduce a lover.

Anyone want to predict the number of submissions by Sunday night?
Cultural Difference

North Korea demands all men cut their hair short. NOW that's ground for invasion! Viva America!

Sucks my ass. Only about 50% of the people show up. What the fuck...and actors wonder why no one takes them seriously. The profession attracts retards. Speaking of which, does anyone know where to find retard actors

retard actors:
A Blog For Screenwriters

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Word on the Street

Is that Andrew Sullivan is going to discontinue blogging. Yipes! One of the best pure writers on the blogosphere, Andrew is in every sense of the word, a blogger rock star. Just read this post. I've had a similar experience to this woman, albeit coming from a completely different generation....
Nate Notes

Read Nate's comments here. Very smart, informative and accurate. We at public musings look forward to him starting his own blog and becoming part of the blogroll.
Solidarity With Iraqi Voters

Students at Yale showed their support for Iraqi voters by dipping their fingers in blue ink today. I find this wonderful.
Sunni Vote Protest

I didn't read the whole thing, but here is an account of how the Sunni's didn't vote. It strikes me as fairly clear - the Sunni's wished to preserve and hold onto an unequal balance of power, where the minority faction ruled in Iraq, as under Saddam Hussein. They are protesting the vote because they do not want a fair share, but rather an unfair share. That's not much of a position, if you ask me.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Charlie Rose

It's gotta be one of my favorite shows. Anyways, they have this guy on tonight who wrote a book about the big stakes of instinctual decision making, those decisions made upon first impressions, decisions made quickly - the exact opposite of slow, deliberate decision making.

One of the most fascinating examples he gave was that prior to the Iraq war, the US Army conducted a war game between the mighty US Army and a simulated Saddam Iraq army. The general who played Saddam ended up sinking half of the US fleet in the water, nearly 20,000 soldiers killed in the first couple of days. Unbelievable, right? Well, this author interviewed the guy who more or less explained making super fast, quick, intelligent decisions, while the US Army acted slow and deliberate and was caught completely off balance during the exercise. It was as if the general went to the hurry up offense and the defense couldn't react. I find this fascinating.

How this applies to filmmaking? DO NOT spend $30,000 on a 581! Avoid cumbersome beaurcracy at all times. Stay loose, flexible, cheap, and FAST. And chances are, you'll make something that flies under the radar and knocks the socks off the audience with it's freshness and raw creativity.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


I ran into a guy in my doc class today who said one of the best films he saw at Sundance was a documentary following the chief UN soldier in Rwanda. It's a huge indictment of an impotent organization not doing a damn thing while a genocide occurs under their noses. The same subject is, of course, dealt with in Hotel Rwanda, although, in my opinion, not very well.

BUT - the big thing to me is that the same EXACT type of thing is going on right now in Sudan and the UN is repeating it's mistake by sitting around and refusing to call it genocide. What the fuck?

What a freaking kook - I love it! Klaus Kinski, all 5'4", stuttering around in full combat gear, stumbling on a raft, intimidating the shit out of everyone on board, including his own daughter. Herzog is a master of using landscape and nature to tell a human story. What amazing shots. I don't have a ton to say about this film other than: see it.

Also took a look at Every Man For Himself and God Against All. I couldn't watch the whole thing, it was fairly slow, and I didn't have the time, anyway, but it's about this totally uneducated, wild man, who was thrust into civilization and how he reacts. The opening sequence is pretty amazing.
This is just really weird

and that's coming from a film student who does this type of shit for a living (or at least hopes to one day).

The American soldier supposedly taken hostage is actually an action doll...something like GI joe, I guess. It's so unbelievably stupid, that I can't imagine someone making this up. Also in the article is a reference to a 22 year old SF man who faked his own beheading and sent it to news networks last year.

Jim Morrison was right, people are strange.
More Werner Herzog

This guy is a tripper - this article sounds neat, talking about Herzog's film at Sundance dealing with the Disneyificaition of nature. I bet his wife is hot.

Despite Defamers wickedly cynical discussion of cell phone -TV technology, I get excited about this stuff.
Interesting Blog

Here's a blog where the blogger takes pesonality tests and simply posts the results. It's amazing how revealing the blog is - about what tests she takes and what they say about her. Very neat.

Hat tip, JR.