Sunday, April 26, 2015

Other Stuff Learnt

Having got back from Colorado last night I'm jet-lagged to the point of incoherence.
We shot about 520GB of 4K Quicktime movies. That's about 220 (or so) individual shots.
Marijuana doesn't actually do that much for me. I'm not saying it does nothing to me, it just isn't exciting enough to eat more granola bars or smoke.
I think I brought back about three-quarters a ton of Colorado sand back from the dunes in my knapsack. Right now it's hanging upside-down over my tub in an attempt to dry it off after multiple rinsings.
Un-color-corrected screen grab android in the desert. did a very nice job of dealing with our rental. They sent us that Pelican with the BlackMagic 4K inside. And all the other (seemingly infinite) bits and pieces you need. We did the trick of putting a paintball gun inside and declaring a firearm in the baggage. The theory is that makes it harder for baggage handlers to steal your luggage. I don't know if it worked. We got everything we checked (and carried on) back at the end of the flight, so maybe it worked (Southwest Airlines lets each passenger check two huge bags for free.)
The altitude affected me. I became very achy. I know, I know, marijuana can help with that -- ha ha. But seriously, I needed more time to acclimate.
The script and the call sheets were all on my Kindle. This worked out vastly better than flapping sheets of paper all over the place. But the screen on my Kindle got a divet in it. I contacted Amazon about that (admitting that it probably got scratched against something in my pocket) and they're sending me a new replacement for free, which is some excellent customer service.
We're done shooting with the Blackmagic for this shoot though. The rest of the movie will be on the GH4. It should be interesting.
You know, it would only cost like $38,000 to fly cross-country on a private jet...

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What's next?

So, what are you doing?
We're getting ready to shoot our next movie.
How's that going?
Well the schedule is up in flames.
What's up?
You know, art, set, that sort of thing.
Doesn't this happen on every. single. movie. you. make?
Why yes. Now that you mention it. It does.
What are you shooting first?
It looks like we'll be shooting on sand dunes in Colorado first.
Really? You're flying out to CO?
Yeah, we're staying in a house.
Wait, marijuana is legal in Colorado.
I was not aware of that fact.
My NSFW street cred was having some trouble lately.

What are you shooting on?
We'll be using the Blackmagic Production 4K. We'll be shooting on sticks as well as handheld with a brace borrowed from Libby Csulik. We're shooting at 400 ISO just like all the blogs tell us to, but we're using a .9 ND filter to drop the light down 3 stops.
What about tap?
Right now I have this ridiculous notion that we'll take the SDI output from the Alphatron eyepiece and feed a second Alphatron eyepiece because the sunlight will just be too bright for a regular monitor. That way two people will be able to watch through the camera without setting up some obnoxious tent to cut down the light suitably to look at a monitor.
So what about the shooting in the studio?
I don't know. One thing I feel is that we need to use the Letus Helix because we have to emulate having a huge dolly on set. Oddly, the Blackmagic does not work perfectly with the Letus because of the optical center -- it means there's a big motor right where the monitor on the Blackmagic camera is. You have to put another monitor on the Helix.
At the same time, there is a kind of merit to using the Helix with a Panasonic GH4 (at 400 ISO) because of the flip-out monitor. Now, the Panasonic, like the Blackmagic, gets noisy above 400 ISO. And the Panasonic has more rolling shutter. But the interiors do not need composites the way we'll be compositing out in the desert (my problem with rolling shutter is the way compositing works, or doesn't work, without global shutter). Also, the smaller sensor size of the GH4 gives us a bit more depth of field which helps our lives when we have a moving camera and are desperately trying to follow focus.
You seriously have no idea what you're doing, do you?
I do not. I am, however, desperately trying to find out.


Montserrat Mendez has directed a new play called Unmentionables.

Get tickets.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Like, Goo, Altitude

Watch David Ian Lee and Karen Sternberg's "Pinecone". Then click the "like" button. Heck, you don't even have to watch. Just click like. How to make white goo. I love this girl: The street outside my office is at about 28 feet.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tabs Must Go!

Via Caitlin Cisek, a pretty thoughtful article on appropriation. The line between "appropriation" and, you know, just wearing a Canadian Mounty costume is kinda fuzzy.
Staying on the right side of the inspiration/appropriation divide requires individual awareness and attention to three S’s: significance (or sacredness), source and similarity.
The author is Susan Scafidi. She wrote a book called "Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law" which seems kinda interesting.
HFSExplorer is a free program for reading HFS discs on a PC.

And for those of you playing along at home, Caitlin Cisek's Tumblr.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Final Girl

So the awesome Kristina Leath-Malin has completed her documentary My Final Girl.


I'm looking forward to seeing it. There are a lot of awesome interviews.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Must. Unload. Tabs.

Ryan Lock. Sort of the Royal Marines version of Jack Reacher.
What Wikipedia thinks is the order of credits in a motion picture.
Jasmine Lord is a DP in LA.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Memory James "J.J." Johnson

J.J. and I worked together at the Wooster Group in 1992. Later he recorded sound for my Hamlet. We did a couple other jobs together at Rutgers, mixing some TV shows. Then he moved out to LA and I only saw him a couple times -- once out there and once back in New York.
J.J. in May of 1992 in Zurich.
I always thought of J.J. as a "professional aesthete." His aesthetic sense was preternatural.  J.J. wasn't really an "Internet" guy, so when he moved to LA we were mostly out of touch and I hadn't heard he'd passed away until last week.

J.J. taught me so many things. How to actually work together to back one another up on a team. How Lone Star was a unheralded classic. His affection for a nice, old Schoeps microphone.
Eating at French and Italian restaurants was a joy with J.J. because of his encyclopaedic knowledge of continental cuisine. I was with him in Bordeaux when the change we got from the restaurant was in the old currency the government had just discontinued and therefore was useless (so they pawned it off on American tourists.) We laughed it off. Listening to J.J. talk about his love of jazz was better than listening to jazz.

He is missed.
His obituary.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sharon Fogarty's Bride of Frankenstein

I saw Sharon Fogarty's Bride of Frankenstein tonight. I saw her original version way back when at Theatresource. It begat in me a love of the second movement of Beethovan's 7th Symphony.

My thoughts about the show are disjointed. I suspect that was the intent of the production. Meaning, that it was created to confuse me. You know, I wrote that just now to be amusing but there is something about Sharon Fogarty's work which has always spoken to me, like it's work that is just for me. And I have to presume that is true for much of her audience. It seems like "oh look, she made this for me" even though any rational person would have to conclude that she's doing it for her.
Catholic, identity, women, image, monster. I don't even know what it's all about. Mary Beth Schroeder is simply un-human as the monster. From the very opening when she is nothing but an open mouth, a baby gurgling, perhaps a nascent Elephant Man but of the horror by human and not divine creation. Her mouth becomes limbs, becomes speech, becomes understanding other people and/or understanding herself. I don't know. Her physicality was the descant over which the music and the story played.

There's a fairly large chorus. Sharon has always done something with casting that's consistently blown me away. All the actors were very interesting to me and they made me want to know so much more about their characters. Dangerous territory, eh? When every chorus member who trots onto stage can be so fascinating and yet have such depths and secrets that one wants to follow them home, live in their worlds and their works -- it is then you are opening up beyond the simple four walls of the stage, into worlds you cannot control. It is beautiful.

You know, one thing about Theatresource is that our space was always difficult for dance. My recollection of the first version of this show is that Sharon had choreographed the dance to be rather restrained. I felt this show opened somewhat, could be played somewhat wider (the floor at Theatresource was never a good dance flooring and I always worried about dancer's feet on that deck.) But still the "restraint" is actually a part of the tension of the piece. Mary and her beloved monster can run outside chasing cars but their souls are constrained to such small spaces. As they are.
As they are.

Festival Dates:
Monday, February 16 @ 6:15 PM
Friday, February 20 @ 9:00 PM
Sunday, February 22 @ 4:30 PM

Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
New York City, U.S.A.

Monday, February 02, 2015

This is a junk post, just ignore.

Seriously. This is just junk that was taking up space. Don't read.
My biggest problem was in figuring out the train system. I understood that they had these carriages on wheels, but I was afraid for the longest time of being on one because I did not understand how the train-roads (I learned later they're called "tracks") worked.
Things that surprised me? Well, many things. How easy it was to come by clothing, for instance
100 best free fonts.

I started a list of best underrated films. I didn't bother to do much more with it.

Lone Star

Kansas City

Death Race
No, not Death Race 2000.

Love and Rockets

This is probably the biggest-grossing of all the movies I've mentioned. But it is simply brilliant. The screenplay is stunning. It should have won an Academy Award.

The Train
This Fankenheimer picture with Burt Lancaster is, I believe, the last big action movie shot in black and white. There are many awesome scenes, one of my favorite is the lady who corrects Lancaster's character when he calls her "Madame" by growling "Mademoiselle" at him in French.
The Banality of Race-Based Casting
Hi y'all. White guy here. To talk about race. Yup. That's me.
I'm talking about race in casting.
And I'm going to talk about it from a white, male, producer's point of view. Which, I know, is shocking. But it's what I've got to work with here.
Now me. I'm a progressive guy. I'm cool, right? Right?
And better than that, casting a multicultural cast is an inherently good thing to do -- the greater the morphological differences between your characters, the easier it is to distinguish between them. So yay! Multi-culti-cast! With as many genders and you can fit in there! Hooray
Obviously, it doesn't work that way.
Let me start again. I'm watching this new TV series, Grimm, and I'm thinking to myself "I'm really sick of the good-looking white cop and the 'black guy' who is the partner."
And it's not like the "black guy" is any sort of stereotype in Grimm. He's just bland. There is (so far) zero tension between him and the lead (Grimm). It'll get better, they'll flesh out the other characters when they get picked up. But the problem is that there's an awesome character in the show -- a naturally ironic character -- a werewolf who helps our lead dude solve crimes.
But he's another white dude. Sure, he's another dark-haired white guy (who does, incidentally, look different enough from the lead to be easily distinguished). Why can't he be played by (say) an Asian guy or a Black guy?
Well, one issue is the fear of hearing "Hey, why are the only Black [or Asian] characters werewolves? What, they can't be human beings on your show?"
And remember, we got into this trouble all because in the rulebook the lead must be played by a White Guy.
Basically, actors are chosen by ethnicity and sex. Hell, the industry deliberately and overtly discriminates by sex and race. And then there's age, but that's for a post on another day.
OK. Let's look at how we might cast a show based on race for non-nefarious reasons. Are there any? Why yes, yes there are.
Say you're making a show and you have two dark-haired white guys in it. They're 30-something. And... I don't care what you say they look exactly alike. You cannot cast those guys together (the two dark-haired white guys in "New Girl"? I have no idea which is which). So you're going to look for ethnic diversity not just because you're a progressive producer and you want the broad range of humanity represented in your cast, but also if you don't your audience will get confused.
So, OK, that's cool. You're going to get an ethnically diverse cast for no other reason than simply because you can't have all your cast looking alike.
But how does that play out?
Well, it all starts with your white, male, lead. Why o why must the lead be white and (usually) male?
Oddly, the pressure to put a white guy in the lead role probably comes from overseas buyers more than anyone else. Americans (really) are more open to a variety of ethnicity in their leads.
But buyers from other countries want to see typically handsome (white) men when they buy an American show. "Why is this guy Asian?" is the response you get from Asian buyers of your show. They're buying from America. If they wanted Asians they'd have just bought something made locally.
OK, so where are you? You're starting with a pretty, white, male, lead. Sometimes you're allowed a pretty, white, female, lead -- but don't get your hopes up.
Now the easiest way to make characters interesting is to make them evil. But oops, black and Asian evil people can be racist stereotypes. So, we think, OK we'll make them the opposite of the stereotype. Asian dude won't be evil and conniving. Instead he'll be... physical, yeah that's it! And... oh poop. Now we're in Bruce Lee territory. Sigh. Maybe that's a stereotype too. So let's make the character kind of bland then.
The August 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief has a two-page report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."

In fact:

[A]n unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You Should Quit That Fantasy of Being a Third-Rate Movie Actor

Enemy is a deeply weird movie. It totally makes Toronto into a Polanski - esque late 60's noir thriller.
It's somewhere just north of Eraserhead but not by as much as you might think. The Pendereski-like score really helps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fire and Fury

I'm a Harry Connolly partisan. Basically he could tell me he's doing a re-write of the phone book and I'd sign up for his Kickstarter campaign. So maybe there's something wrong with his writing that I just can't see. No, that isn't it. Everything he produces is perfect.
His previous series was the 20 Palaces series and it was just freaking awesome. Indeed, the first book of the series starts off in such a way that I think it should be used as a model for how novels should start.
Comparatively speaking, his new novel The Way Into Chaos starts out slowly. I think everything doesn't explode until about page 3.

I love the imperfection of the characters. They're just exactly wrong. Indeed many of the characters are written such that you instantly dislike them but then they grow, and grow on you too.
The magic "technology" in the book is pretty fascinating. And the story is structured such that the exact way the magic works is revealed in sort of a logical, rather than a pedantic, way.
Judging a Book by its Cover
I am not proud of myself for thinking this, but I sure do like the feel of this book. How nice books feel is one of the things which has kept me away from an e-reader all this time. This paperback has a particularly soft and silky feel which I really really like.
The Way Into Chaos, of course, ends on a cliffhanger.* Somehow, stupidly, I did not back the project such that I would get the entire trilogy, just the first book. So yeah, I could read the other parts if/when I get a Kindle Voyage, but I won't be able to pet the covers on the way to the studio and back.

*Uh. Spoiler alert?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Woe is E

With my trashy reading habits, or, at least my seeming refusal to read anything "literary" in the way of modern books, I should probably get myself an e-reader. I'm sure it would save me hundreds of dollars per year in buying Kindle books rather than paperbacks.
Thing is, I've never been into e-readers. But there are things I want to read that are only in e-formats (and I do so hate reading long-form stuff on either a computer or a phone-sized device).
So I look around. The fact is that the basic Kindle is totally reasonably priced. The Paperwhite is still reasonably priced and looks better (by all reports, including by those who don't care that it looks better.) But I know I'm cranky and prissy with my reading and I know I'm going to be unhappy with anything less than the 300dpi equivalent of the Kindle Voyage.
Yup. It's two hundred bucks.
But that's not even the most irritating thing about it. The fact is that the Voyage is unavailable anywhere -- including Amazon. At least for three more weeks.

How am I supposed to hold out for three weeks?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dance on Camera

I think this is awfully good. This is "The official video for "Elastic Heart" directed by Sia and Daniel Askill, featuring Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler. Choreographed by Ryan Heffington." Dance for camera is very hard to do. And they did an amazing job telling an emotional story with it.