Tag Archives: film

A few rules on how not to be a filmmaking douche bag…

I’ve been on the festival circuit now on and off since YOU ARE ALONE broke in 2005. Lately even more so because I seem to have hit a nerve with COLOR ME OBSESSED. And I’ve realized that a lot of my fellow filmmakers are, well, douche bags. Plain and simple.

“What makes them so douchy?” you ask. Well, two things in particular in regards to festivals.

1. Most festival are limited in the amount they can spend on bringing filmmakers to their weekend of film. So, it’ll usually be a handful of us mingling. Now, I will always try and see everyone’s film. Attend the Q&A’s. Even ask questions. I try to get involved. I’m there to work. Festivals might seem like a vacation. Ask my wife, they’re anything but. You have to be on, you have to schmooze, you have to be selling yourself and your film every moment. Part of that involves seeing other films, supporting other filmmakers. I’ve even been told by fest directors that every time they turn around they see me walking into a screening. And nothing makes them happier. But what pisses me off (and even more so fest directors) are the filmmakers who take all the travel perks, come into town, screen their film, do a half-assed Q&A (you can always tell the douche bags by their Q&A’s), then sleep, drink, sightsee…basically do anything BUT watch other films. They expect you to watch their masterpieces. But can they return the favor? No. Of course not. (And these are usually the same film school assholes who at their Q&A expound on how filmmaking is such a collaborative art form, and how great it is to be involved in the filmmaking community. HORSESHIT!) These filmmakers annoy the piss out of me because they don’t realize filmmaking is a job. Instead of being thankful for being flown and put up in a strange town, they believe it’s deserved. Such is their sense of entitlement. Of course these are always the one “hit” wonders who soon discover filmmaking isn’t for them, and are soon making bad cappuccinos at Starbucks. Karma is a beautiful thing!

2. The other inexcusably douchy thing filmmakers do all the time: cancel on festivals at the last minute. I know one fest director who paid for flights and rooms for three members of a specific filmmaking team, only to have them not show. And look, I know shit happens. But fellow filmmakers, unless someone VERY close to you is dead or in the hospital dying, likewise for yourself, or unless you house burned to the ground, THERE IS NO EXCUSE. You’re fucking over not only a fest director who liked your work enough to invite it to their fest (and remember the director of a small fest today, is often running a much larger fest tomorrow), but also the audience who might have wanted to ask you a few questions. And mostly you’re fucking yourself in so many unpleasant ways. The fest director has identified you as a douche, and will never go near one of your films again. They’ll spread the word to other fest directors that you are Douche of the Year on their short list. Plus you lose the chance to mingle with potential fans, potential buyers of DVDs and VOD. And you miss out on sleeping through the screenings of the other filmmakers, which you would have skipped anyway.

Actually the more I think about it. The festival, the other filmmakers, and even the patrons, are better off without you there. Stay home. Practice your barista skills. They’re going to come in handy for you one day.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under film festivals, filmmaking, independent film, rants

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 30

When CMO took on a life of its own, and honestly pushed every other project (ONE NIGHT STAND, and my new novel NOT SO PRETTY especially) aside, I started over-dosing on rock documentaries, or rockumentaries, if you will. There were many that I love:

I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART, A FILM ABOUT WILCO is amazing because filmmaker Sam Jones is the luckiest sonofabitch on the planet. Not only did he get to make a doc on Wilco, he witnessed them recording one of their most acclaimed albums, the firing of one of their founding members, them being dropped by their label, then being resigned by another label (and payed three times the advance) owned by the same parent company. Seriously, there’s so much amazing conflict that you half expect Jeff Tweedy to discover a cure for cancer during the recording of Heavy Metal Drummer. Shot in glorious black and white, the film is perfect in almost every aspect. I love this movie.

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON is another masterpiece. And why? Because filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig had access to Johnston’s life in such extreme detail, nothing was missing. How could it be, Johnston recorded seemingly his every thought. This is of course more than a rock doc, it’s about mental illness and the power of art. It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL is yet another. It’s the real life SPINAL TAP, a true story of never letting go of the rock dream…no matter what. And it even has sort of a happy ending.

I bring up these three films for a reason: the access the filmmakers had to the band/musicians in question. They were all present, offering almost disturbing insight into their creative prosesses. These to me are the only sort of rock docs that work. Otherwise, the films play like a VH1 Where-Are-They-Now? Special. And not that there’s anything wrong with those specials. They’re fine for what they are: a fun look back at a band/musician we loved. But that’s all they are. They are NOT, nor will they ever be, FILMS.

Yes, children “FILM” is a sacred word.

Leave a comment

Filed under anvil, daniel johnston, documentaries, filmmaking, rockumentary, the replacements, wilco

The FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) interview…

Some questions and my answers to a little interview I did recently for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS):

Poster designed by Sarah Hajtol

1. What would you say to someone sitting down to watch this film for the first time, knowing nothing about it?

To please put all preconveived notions about what sex and romance should be, to crank up the volume, and get ready to laugh and be turned-on…

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at Cafe 9 in New Haven

2. What was the inspiration for writing the story for this film? Is it autobiographical at all?

Well, yes, back in my college days, I had a few long-term friends with benefits, of course, we called them fuck buddies back then. Which was the original name for the script, when I first penned it back in 1999. But I was finding that none of my actors wanted a film called fuck buddies on their resume. I’ve always felt it was an interesting aspect to any friendship, especially male/female friendships. How can you not want to be with a person with whom you have a lot in common?

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at Willoughby's Coffee & Tea in Branford, CT

3. How did the project come together? Was it difficult to get this film off the ground and into production? What were the major challenges?

The biggest challenges are always fund raising and casting. I raised about half the money pretty quickly, based on the script. I found matching funds from a group interested in also putting the film out on DVD. A win-win, until they started giving me script notes. I’m beyond the point of taking script notes from investment bankers and accountants. My feeling is, you want to invest in the film, great. But you have no say. Life is too short to deal with assholes who think because they have money they know anything about story development. So, the minute they brought up script notes, I told them what they could do with their matching funds, and moved on to the lower budget I had already prepared. (I always have backup lower budgets.)

Anne Petersen, Margaret Laney, Lynn Mancinelli

4. How was the casting process? Any surprises in the cast you finally got together?

Well, Margaret Laney was onboard first…she was friends with Jake Alexander…who knew Brendan Bradley…who knew Anne Petersen. Then Jake remembered an old friend from Boston, Alex Brown. So that was 5/6 of our lead cast. It was the final role which took a while, and eventually went to Lynn Mancinelli. The leads rocked. It helped that a number of them knew each other, but it also helped that we rehearsed once a week for going on 6 months because filling shooting. They all seem like good friends. The chemistry is there. I couldn’t ask for more. And likewise, there’s no one else I’d picture in the lead roles. They own them. But, as always, finding supporting players was a lot harder. No real surprises, except for perhaps Tara Stiles, who plays one of the webcam girls. She’s an uber-famous yoga instructor now. She rocked that small part. Wish we had seen more of both her, and the coffee shop girl, played by Rooney Mara.

Alex Brown, Brendan Bradley, Jake Alexander

5. How was Rooney Mara to work with? What do you think of her casting in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

I’ve been friends with Rooney for a long time. I originally cast her as the Ilona, the Daughter of God, in the intended film version of my first novel, The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. In fact you can see her on the cover of the paperback reprint. But when I walked away from $2 million in funding (same reason as above), I moved on to FWB. But Rooney looked too young at the time to play any of the lead roles. I think she’s going to kick ass in Dragon Tattoo. I’m proud of her. Can’t wait to one day get Second Greatest Story off the ground.

The band: START MISSING EVERYBODY

6. Any memorable moments on set?

It was a tough shoot. We had a lot of locations and only 18 days. And there are many times I’m a 20-take director. So we don’t have much down time. Scratch that, we have no down time. But that said, my favorite day of shooting was the, well, without giving away too much, let’s just call it the orgy scene. It was very tight quarters. We shot that in an attic, so the ceiling where we placed the camera and crew was about 3 feet high. It was in the 90s, that day. No A/C. And yet, there’s one particular shot in which that scene all comes together. It wasn’t planned. It was as if the god if indie films was shining down upon us and it all just clicked. But you’ll know it because what you never expect to happen, happens.

Adrian Correia, Gorman Bechard

7. Are there any particular scenes you like the best, or that you’d like audiences to really take note of?

I have two favorite scenes in the movie that still to this day give me goosebumps because they feel so real. Both are between Chloe and Owen. The first is the kiss on up East Rock park, when they first talk about what they want to be when they grow up. The other is the dance at their senior prom, when he puts his jacket around her shoulders. The looks they give each other are beyond perfect. I made the film and yet I believe in those moments they are in love.

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at East Rock Park in New Haven, CT

8. How about any scenes that were particularly challenging to shoot?

The East Rock scenes…on those nights it would either be raining, or freezing, or both. NEVER shoot exterior scenes in low budget films. It’s suicide. Also the bar scenes. 21 pages in about 22 hours, with band performances, shooting overnight for two nights while the bar (Cafe Nine, in New Haven) was closed.

Poster used in film.

9. What would you say is the overall message you’d like people to take away from the film?

Sex is something different for everyone. We all have our kinks, whatever they might be. Instead of discriminating against people because of differences, we should learn to embrace and enjoy those differences. It might just turn you on like you’ve never been turned on before.

You can watch FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) now on Fancast or Babelgum. Or you can purchase the DVD (with tons of extras) at Amazon.

Happy Holidays to all…

2 Comments

Filed under Color Me Obsessed, directing, director's commentary, dvd extras, entertainment, filmmaking, friends with benefits, fuck buddies, gorman bechard, humor, romantic comedy, sarah hajtol, sex, sexfuck buddies, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 15

Before we continue with the interview process, I want to stress to any people making films out there, or thinking of making a film:

1. You’re out of your freaking mind!

2. You need a poster and a website NOW.

It’s one of the first things I do. Even if nothing has been filmed. Because when you speak about the movie you are planning to make, people will inevitably want to check it (something) out online. Thus, Sarah Hajtol initially set up a simple site for Color Me Obsessed, which was the poster you see below, and a bunch of simple HTML links on the side: what’s new, director’s site, pages for my last film, and the one before it, facebook, twitter, etc., and so on. SOMETHING.

But how exactly did we arrive at the poster? Well, I basically drove Sarah crazy (as I always do), telling her to forget everything she learned in school and go nuts. Now, enjoy this poster while you can, because a new one is in the works (see the plaid one at the bottom of this post).

But in the meantime, let me show you a few of the designs that never made it past their embryonic stage…

Before we went plaid, we were aiming for something based upon the old Let It Be house…

…or a speaker, as in the Bastards Of Young video.

…or a volume knob…

Until one day I thought…plaid pants…and sent Sarah every plaid background I could find…and voila, she made magic:

(P.S. We are missing names from the credits above…but that will be corrected on the new version.)

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, Color Me Obsessed, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, graphic design, independent film, movie, movie poster, punk, punk rock, rock n roll, rockumentary, sarah hajtol, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 13

Next up on that long day in Boston, Mike Gent of the Figgs, another big fan, who of course also backed Tommy Stinson on one of his solo tours. This was the first day interview where we realized we’d have a very pet friendly film on our hands, as I had to make the decision to allow pets (dogs mainly) to roam free, sit on sofas, etc. Or not. Well, anyone who knows me knows my decision.

Mike has this great old black pooch that kept jumping up onto the couch, chewing its Kong, coming over to the camera. Basically being a dog. He would be the first of many such canine cameos in CMO. And I truly believe they add a more human dimension to the film.

Mike told this great story about always searching for a copy of ALL SHOOK DOWN on vinyl. (It was never originally released on vinyl in the states.) Well, when in England on tour he found a copy. He was so excited he actually opened the album on the plane ride home, just to look at the record and insert. He found it a little strange that while there were grooves for six tunes on side one, there were only grooves for five tunes on side two. And ASD had thirteen tracks in all. When he got home he quickly discovered why. While side one was the first six songs of The Replacements’ last album, side two was inside a Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton album. A mistake from the factory where the vinyl was pressed.

1 Comment

Filed under alternative rock, Color Me Obsessed, directing, documentaries, dogs, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, punk, punk rock, rock n roll, rockumentary, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 12

We interviewed Dave Minehan in his Wooly Mammoth Sound Studio. Not only had his band The Neighborhoods opened for The Replacements (and the Clash) way back in the day, Dave had played guitar on the first Paul Westerberg solo tour. So he was well-versed in Mats history. His stories were varied and funny. He not only loved the band (He “drank the Kool-Aid,” as he put it), he loved their every album. A rarity. In fact one of my favorite quotes in the film is his comment about Don’t Tell A Soul. (Of course, you’ll have to wait to see the film to know what it is.)

As I had long ago decided that Color Me Obsessed would cover The Replacements from when that first demo tape went from Paul’s to Peter Jesperson’s hands, through to their breakup at Grant Park on July 1st, 1991, my biggest predicament with Minehan came when he recalled an amazing tale about touring with Paul in London and running into Joe Strummer at an outdoor flea market. Luckily, we have a lot of knobs on that old answering machine on the CMO website. Click the volume control and you can hear the story.

If I wasn’t sure after interviewing Jack Rabid, that I indeed did have a movie here. Dave cemented it. We talked for over 90 minutes, and I left feeling that I had found my musical twin. The guy’s got great tastes in bands!

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, Color Me Obsessed, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, jack rabid, joe strummer, low budget films, paul westerberg, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, the clash, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 10

(It’s been a week…sorry about that, besides being on the road, I had to create an M&E for Friends With Benefits. That’s a music and effects track for foreign sales, which will allow for dubbing. But since most all of our sound was recorded live, all of the effects are surrounded by dialog. It basically meant I had to go in and pull or re-create every sound in the film, i.e. when Shirley puts a glass down on the bar, we need to hear the glass touching the bar, and not whatever Shirley might be saying. Tedious, so say the least. It was sort of like having your away-at-college kid show up unexpectedly for a weekend visit, and damn if you hadn’t turned their room into a music room, or screening room, or whatever your pleasure. Unexpected, but still you realized it was nice to see the brat.)

Ok…time to get sidetracked, as I was just in Cleveland for a few last minute cmo interviews and I finally had the opportunity to visit the rock n roll hall of fame, and ok, look, the Springsteen section was amazing, to see his old Tele (the one from the cover of Born To Run) was like seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night for the first time. Goddamn, did I want to touch it. The blacken neck gave me goosebumps. Every crack in the body’s finish seemed to bleed rock and roll. In my opinion it’s the most important guitar of all time. And I feel honored to have stood in its presence.

And look, sure it’s a gorgeous building, right on the lake, etc., and so forth…but we’ve all seen museums before. This one is supposed to be special! But aside from the Springsteen exhibit, which was inspiring (and the Bowie and Les Paul’s original electric displays as well), I was left wanting more. A LOT MORE. And y’know why? The punk section was closed because of remodeling, so no Clash, no Costello, no Sex Pistols, NO REPLACEMENTS, and yet I would still see shit like Steven Tyler’s or Stevie Nicks’ stage costumes, and countless FM radio crap, that all fell into the same genre. I’m sure that whomever creamed over the Lynyrd Skynyrd display likewise gushed over the ZZ Top. They were covered. But to put the most important movement in rock on the back burner because of remodeling. Fuck! Kill the goddamn Doors display. Or does anyone really care about Pink Floyd’s The Wall? Obviously, the powers that be at the Hall of Fame are as biased as the reporters on Fox News. And as always, the smart minority gets fucked. (Really now, you couldn’t have found room for even a hint of punk? Shame on you!)

Supposedly the remodeling will be complete in 2012, so anyone thinking of visiting should wait.

Ultimately was as the Hall of Fame disappointing? Yes. But would I go back? Sure, I’d give it one more chance to get it right.

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, low budget films, low budget movies, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, replacements, rock and roll hall of fame, rock n roll, rockumentary, springsteen, the replacements