There’s something about CHRONICLES OF MARNIA, the new record from Marnie Stern that just makes me smile.
I love noise pop. LOVE it! I love guitars. Big guitars, loud guitars, out of tune guitars. Guitars with broken strings. Guitars with fret buzz. Every guitar is beautiful. Every guitar has a soul (If I hear a synthesizer starting up a song, I take it off.) I LOVE balls to the wall rock in the spirit of The Replacements or the Archers of Loaf. I find beauty in the choas, peace in the noise. I love bad singers, people who screech and wail, and tear their hearts out through their sleeves, and always manage a few off-pitch notes during every song. There’s no passion in perfection. There’s nothing more boring than perfection. People who can play and sing every note perfectly, repeating such perfection perfectly each time, are robots. Soulless. Gutless. Artless. It’s powered milk for the masses. Pure shit for hip people. (Guitars can’t hurt people, only people can hurt guitars.)
I love artists who aren’t afraid to take a chance and try something new.
Artists who turn genres on their ear.
Artists who realize failure is the only road to success.
Friends (with benefits) shot for a total of 18 days, beginning on April 18th, 2007.So, we’ve really been editing it, tweaking it, playing with the song selection, and score, and titles, and color correction, for going on two years now.(The original assembly was 125 minutes without end credits, the final cut runs 94 minutes complete.)Doesn’t seem like that long has passed, but then again perhaps it does.I think once you see the film, you’ll understand why so much time was spent on editing.We tried to do something a little different here.(The producers rep who ultimately took on the film called the editing “ground breaking.”And while I don’t know about that, we’ll certainly take the compliment!)
As a novelist (my website, GormanBechard.com has all the info you could possibly need on that), I thought we’d bring a little of that feel to the film, thus in my mind it’s “a novel with moving pictures.”While all films on DVD are broken into “chapters” I thought we’d take that one step further and actually break the film down into real chapters.But no one wants to watch a book.So, how to make it move fast . . . real fast?
Well, originally I wanted the film, especially the dialog, to movie at a breakneck speed, like “His Girl, Friday.”But there are two truisms in film.The one that fits here is, and I’m paraphrasing: “There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, and the film you edit.”Anyone who’s ever directed a film knows they are three very separate beasts, each with a mind of their own.
So, while that breakneck pace seemed great in concept (and even in rehearsals), the realities of casting and filming got in the way.Until editing, that is.We threw out the rule book.And decided that we would not allow the audience time to blink (at least for a part of the film…when need be, as a director I am a big believer in giving the performances room to breathe.)
(FYI: I never used the rule book when writing my novels, hell, I flunked English 101 in college, and likewise, for any of you who’ve seen my last feature YOU ARE ALONE, you know I don’t “do” the “master/over-shoulder/over-shoulder reverse” coverage.It’s boring, it’s lazy, it shows not one iota of originality or belief in your script, or your ability as a director…it’s movie-of-the-week.Really, just put a bullet in my head and shoot me now.So, yeah, I certainly wasn’t going to start following the rules now.)
The Friends (with benefits) secret weapon?Split screens.If two stories were happening concurrently, why not show them?Adjust the timing here and there, and let the characters on the right answer the characters on the left.It was just an experiment at first.Tried it in one bar scene where two male characters are conversing about the same subject as two female characters.What do you know?It clicked.It worked.Jokes came faster.You didn’t have time to blink and you were laughing again.Or in a few cases, the inherent sadness of a friendship perhaps destroyed was given an even greater emotional impact.
Watching and using the split screens, co-editor Ashley McGarry and I just knew in our guts this was right for the film.
And that’s what it comes down to for me.That gut feeling.Whether holding on someone’s expression for a beat longer than you might think necessary, because in reality sometimes we need that extra moment of reflection.Or inserting a list of “rules” as a text scroll to make a scene go where it needed it to go.Or dozens of other little examples in this film.(Some big examples: cutting a huge emotional scene down to one line because I felt the rest made one character just a hair less likable, cutting scenes because I found an actors blocking distracting, sacrificing a few amazing shots that ultimately did nothing to move the story along, or reducing characters down to a few lines because either the story wasn’t really about them, or I felt their performance distracting.) You go with your gut.In the end, as director, it’s your name signed at the bottom of the canvas.And after a horrible bigger-budget filmmaking experience back in 2002 (read the blog entry titled “Just say no to Billy Zane” from September 2008), I promised myself I would never again sign my name to a film or book I wasn’t proud of.
P.S. An aside.OK…I did not sign my name to my last novel UNWOUND.It was published under the pseudonym Jonathan Baine.But not because I wasn’t proud of the book.I actually love the book.The name change was quite simply to trick the computers at Barnes & Noble.See, the big chains, like B&N, preorder copies of your new book based upon the sales of your last book.Now, most of my novels have had a first printing of between 5,000 and 20,000 copies.The first printing for UNWOUND was going to be 146,000 copies. Thus the publisher wanted the B&Ns of the world to order a lot more than what they ordered and sold of my previous titles.Smile.You just learned something about the publishing business.
As both the completion of my newest feature, FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) …and the start of its film festival run nears, I thought now would be a good time to turn the main subject of this blog over to the making of my newest film.
I start with BRAD’S RULES.Or at least 99 of them.The rules were not a part of the original script.They were born out of necessity, when during the editing process we needed to get from point A to point F in a very long scene that was just slowing down the first act, and do so in a way that was both organic to the script and also funny.And since Brad, one of the main characters in the film, was always mouthing off about his rules, we thought inserting those rules into the film might just work.Thus the actual list of 100 rules was born.
You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I think they provide one of the biggest laughs in the film.
But here now are the rules…live by them, and life will be good (which I guess is a rule in and of itself):
100. Friends don’t let friends fuck ugly people
99. Try everything twice, the first time you might have been doing it wrong
98. Fat girls give the best head because they’re always hungry
97. Cologne: overrated…Deodorant: a must
96. Blondes are usually too dumb to realize they’re having more fun
95. After puberty, that’s not “baby fat”
94. ATM = the Holy Grail
93. All hippie chicks deep throat, but few vegans swallow
92. Women like shoes. They will look at yours; purchase accordingly
91. BBBJ or why bother?
90. Women cannot parallel park
89. If you wanna fuck it, you’ve got to be willing to lick it
88. Ass, stomach, legs, boobs – in that order
87. If it’s not dirty, you’re doing something wrong
86. If a friend’s apartment is running low on toilet paper, you’re required to use it all
85. Cheerleaders are overrated
84. Under no circumstance may two men share an umbrella
83. Never allow a conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her
82. Other than in February, the 14th of every month is Pizza and Blowjob Night
81. Dogs are better than cats…period
80. Bigger is never better when they’re fake
79. Don’t leave the house if you’re not camera ready
78. A period does not equal a week off from sex
77. Mustaches and hunting are gay
76. Sucking your best friend’s dick, that’s priceless
75. You are not accountable if you bring ugly people home, unless you fuck them again in the
74. If her mom isn’t a MILF, chances are she won’t be one either
73. Fake orgasms count, as long as they’re not yours
72. The G-spot does not exist
71. There is NOTHING sexy about pregnant women
70. Persistence gets you laid
69. Never give yourself a haircut while drunk
68. No panties = a good night
67. Drinks hard liquor = a great night
66. Tongue piercing = God loves you!
65. Saliva isn’t always the best lubricant, just the most fun to apply
64. White cotton panties and knee socks.Enough said!
63. Never lend money to friends
62. Never lend books, CDs, or DVDs to anyone
61. The month you finish paying for your car, it will break down
60. Elvis is not dead
59. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone
58. What’s good for you does not always taste better. Example: processed peanut butter vs. the all-natural kind
57. People who don’t use turn signals deserve mandatory prison sentences
56. Never let a girl shave your balls
55. Porn saves lives
54. Republicans are better at…well…nothing
53. If you’ve never had New Haven brick oven pizza, you’ve never had pizza.There is no pizza in New York or Chicago.Don’t argue, you’ll just sound foolish
52. Old country = coolAlt-country = really coolNew country = sucks
51. Condition your hair once a day
50. Masturbate twice a day
49. Eat three square meals every day
48. Women should never cut their hair, unless they’re going to play for the other team
47. Crying is blackmail
46. Your choice: spay or neuter your pet…or yourself
45. If she sleeps in your bed, sex is a given
44. If a girl leaves her dirty panties lying around, she wants you to sniff them
43. There’s no such thing as giving 110%
42. Halloween is the only holiday that matters
41. Sympathy sex trumps make-up sex
40. Body hair just gets in the way
39. Rip bread, don’t slice it
38. Every man should learn how to dance, but no other man should know he can
37. Men have no right to speak on the subject of abortion
36. Every decade gives us only one great double album: The White Album, Exile On Main Street, London Calling, Being There, and Cold Roses.
35. Chivalry is not dead, but she has to earn it
34. Watch Carnival Of Souls at least once in your lifetime
33. If your pubic hair is blond or red, shaving is optional
32. You can cheat on girls with hairy legs
31. If they don’t answer, it means yes
30. Never turn down a chance to sleep with a celebrity
29. Sex is better in warmer climates
28. Emo guys = gay; emo gals = easy marks
27. Never trust people who don’t drink coffee
26. Springsteen really is The Boss
25. If there’s a problem, talk it out
24. If you can’t talk it out: fuck, then try again
23. Never lease what you can buy
22. Never break up using a post-it note, her biker friends will hurt you for it
21. Never say “no” to a green-eyed girl
20. Live life as if The Catcher In The Rye were your bible
19. Don’t lie, you will get caught
18. Admit that the 1986 Mets were the greatest baseball team of all time and life will be easier
17. Know the legal age of consent in every place you visit
16. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos, fairs, or roadside attractions
15. Pussy farts are charming
14. Only wear a bra if you’re going to offend me
13. Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder
12. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye
11. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
10. When in doubt, mumble
9. Masturbation is overrated
8. Small boobs are misunderstood
7. Better to be feared than loved, but even better to have your love feared
6. Handcuffs are the ultimate sex toy
5. If you can’t convince them, confuse them
4. Quiet girls are the most likely to toss your salad
3.Women do not understand remote controls, there is no exception to this rule
2. Never overthink
Of course, if you want to know the number one rule, you’re gonna have to watch the film.
Check back often for more stories from the front lines of making FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS)…
P.S. Remember my horror/comedy PSYCHOS IN LOVE will be released on DVD (complete with a boatload of extras) next Tuesday, April 28th. You can get it at BestBuy, Netflix, or preorder it here at Amazon.com
I guess in a way, PSYCHOS IN LOVE had its own set of rules:
I hate grapes.
I can’t stand grapes.
I loathe grapes.
All kinds of grapes.
I hate purple grapes.
I hate green grapes.
I hate grapes with seeds.
I hate grapes without seeds.
I hate them peeled and non-peeled.
I hate grapes in bunches, one at a time, or in groups of twos and threes.
Just wanted to update everyone on the long awaited US DVD release of my film PSYCHOS IN LOVE. Besides this being a pristine and beautiful transfer of the film, this DVD is LOADED (scream “LOADED” from the rooftops) with extras.
Here is the complete list:
Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard (from 2009)
Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard and Carmine Capobianco (from 2005)
Making Psychos in Love
Photo Gallery (make that a HUGE photo gallery)
Highlights from Psychos in Love: The Stageplay
As well as three of my short films:
Bartholomew the Strangler, Short Film (1983)
The Only Take, Short Film (1983)
Objects in the Mirror are Further Than They Appear, Short Film (2003)
Trailers from my last two features:
You Are Alone, Trailer (2005)
Friends with Benefits, Trailer (2009)
And a very cool video promo for my last novel:
Unwound, Promo (2007)
OK…first off, the 5 stars are for Lily Allen’s cover of STRAIGHT TO HELL.And so you know where I am coming from.I am not a huge fan of Ms. Allen.Don’t really know her music.Not my cup of tea.I am however a huge Clash fan.Saw them live 15 times from their first US gig to their last tour.I’d rank them as one of the two greatest bands of all time.(The other is the Replacements.)Their music to me is sacred.It should be respected, never covered.And STRAIGHT TO HELL is one of my three favorite Clash songs.Having said all that…
Ms. Allen cover of STRAIGHT TO HELL on the WAR CHILD PRESENTS HEROES compilation cd is the best song we will hear this year.She and Mick Jones have taken his and Strummer’s brilliant melody, riff and lyric and somehow (I don’t know how) taken it to a level where few musicians ever get to even see, let alone attain.
From the opening da-da-da-da’s which sound so much like Strummer (I wish I knew for certain if they were, or if it was Jones), through to Ms. Allen’s phrasing, which is Billie Holiday-perfect, as are the production and the instrumentation, the song had been reinvented, re-envisioned.
And when Ms. Allen hits the bridge and sings “so mamma-san says” and the da-da-da-da’s start up again, I find the goosebumps coming and the tears welling.
This really is the song she was born to sing.It will make everything else that follows this year seem unimportant and unoriginal.
As for the rest, well honestly I’d give the cd 2 stars out of 5 at best.What we have are really bad covers of great songs (The Hold Steady, whom I like, doing injustice to ATLANTIC CITY), just misses (The TV On The Radio cover of HEROES is close, as is Beck doing Dylan), a number of what-were-these-people-thinking (really, you never cover the Ramones or Blondie, not because they’re the greatest songs ever written, but because you sound stupid even trying), a few that make you want to hear the originals and how they’re really done (The Kinks and the Costello songs) and the rest is just who-cares?
But all that said, listen to the Lilly Allen/Mick Jones track.And genuflect in the presence of genius.
First off, after two weeks I can say that Springsteen is doing quite well adjusting to his new home. Likewise Phoebe has become a great big sister to the pup. I’ll post more pix soon. We’re also closing up all the work on the Connecticut State Film Commission Tax Credit we’re receiving for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) and I will be posting a long blog explaining how everything went down, a good how-to for other indie filmmakers in the state.
But for now, yet another Top Ten CD list. This time from old friend Rob DeRosa. For the best of CT-based music you can hear Rob’s radio show on Thursdays on WESU FM, which is 88.1FM. It’s called HOMEGROWN. You can also listen to archived shows at: www.myspace.com/thinmanmusiclabel
Here now is his top ten:
The Hold Steady- Stay Positive. How could an ex Springstee fan not like these guys? Way too many words sometimes and chock full arrangements- that’s what drew me to early Bruce and it’s what enthralls me about The Hold Steady. I just hope there is no Nebraska in them to screw it all up.
The Mountain Movers- Why Don’t We open the Chest. This band is a pleasure. While I loved the horns on the first CD, the less is more approach here works even better. If Ric promises to bring extra strings, I’ll hire them for Daffodil Fest so I can hear this stuff live in my own backyard, so to speak.
The Manchurians 5×4, The Minster EP. I know, my label. But if this and my next picks were not worthy, we wouldn’t max out credit putting them out. This one rocks in a different way than the last one- probably due to Dean’s layering of sounds and his co-writing energizing Roger to write more songs than he ever did. Short- liethey like their live sets- but it kicks ass.
Frank Critelli- Watlzing Through Quicksand. Frank’s songs always had room for a full band and this disc shows why. His songs here are expansive and moving- and the tight band behind him propells him to rock star staus instead of simply the best folkie out there.
The Sawtelles- Dime Museum. Previously a either love ’em or leave ’em style- this CD shows incredible growth and cohesion of their rather unothadox style. Shany Lawson produced them the way it should have always been. Peter’s words are intiguing and Julie sings better than ever before.
MGMT- Oracular Spectacular suffice to say that this incredibly popular band was for all intense and purposes, my discovery. Well. not entirely- but the Wesleyan duo got their first off campus gig from me- as well as their first club date at Cafe 9 and their first airplay on my radio show. Then they went on to play every festival in the world this year( Cochella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, SXSW, Austin City one, two in australia and a few in Japan.) and get on most big music magazines best of lists. They deserve it. It’s a psychedelic dance fest with pithy, ironic and cheeky lyrics. AND the drummer is nailing Kirstin Dunst. Every young rockers dream story.