Tag Archives: movies

Positive feedback on the Faeries script feels so good

18 Oct , 2009,
Chip Street
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2 comments

Although our screenplay “Faeries” didn’t win at Shriekfest, we still got to see the judge’s notes… those kind folks who put so much time into reading all those screenplays. We’re feeling pretty good about what they had to say…

A lively, unusual slasher movie that delivers plenty of gore, and introduces a new set of monsters that could be worth a franchise.

I could see this as a movie… so many are hard to see actually made. This could be a fun little romp. 9 out of 10!

Clear and atmospheric writing that flows easily down the page. I enjoyed it. Definitely above average writers.

Thanks, amazing readers at Shriekfest! We appreciate your time, attention and obvious good taste!

scion – short film

1 Sep , 2009,
Chip Street
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No Comments
Earlier this year I was a screener for the Santa Cruz Film Festival. I had to watch a truckload of crap… most of it was crap, frankly. Being a screener (or a screenplay reader) is a real eye opener, really… because most of it is crap. But I found a few gems, and I thought I’d get around to sharing them with you. Not all of them made it into the fest (not for lack of quality or vision, more for programming reasons) but I still think you should know about these films.

Scion_artSCION
Written and Directed by Michael Rosetti

Deep in an abandoned factory lives Scion; lonely and crippled, he hobbles along, trying to create a companion.  When a mysterious man stumbles into the factory Scion eagerly follows him and the two develop an odd relationship, ultimately changing Scion’s insulated existence forever. Creation and destruction are bound together in a story of the search for meaning and existence.

I was stunned by Scion. At only 12 minutes long, and with only a single line of dialogue, Scion is a beautiful movie with delicate performances. Shot on 35mm by Greg Mitnick, Scion’s urban grunge post-apocalyptic setting is filmed with the light and composition of a Vermeer.

In fact, my recommendation to the programming committee went something like this:

Read More…

the hollywood blacklist redux

7 Aug , 2009,
Chip Street
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one comments
trum

Dalton Trumbo, blacklisted screenwriter of "Spartacus" and "Exodus"

Recently, somewhere in Hollywood, somebody got taken for a ride (no surprise).

They got so upset about it that they decided to start an organization dedicated to bringing film industry scammers to justice; hanging them out to dry where everyone could see them and be warned about them by listing their names, and businesses, and misdeeds.

Is this a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. Posting the names of known scammers could be helpful, I suppose, if they’ve been found guilty of a crime. But what makes a scam? Sometimes, indie filmmakers are just dumb (would naive be nicer?) and don’t do their due diligence on people who just don’t have the resources or expertise to do what they promise to do. Or sometimes well meaning producers just aren’t able to finish their project, so that “credit and copy” never make it to all those folks who volunteered their time. That’s not a scam.

Now in this case, it indeed looks like a scam. The guy is allegedly pitching himself as representing companies he’s not associated with (though he was once). And he is allegedly representing that he has connections that he apparently does not. But as near as I can tell, the guy has NOT been charged with or convicted of any crime.

Nevertheless, the site invites people to post their own stories about being scammed, and has posted claims from victims alleging that the scammer “apparently own a company called Central Films (Central Film Company) and has an office at the Lot studios in West Hollywood, California”. This claim isn’t true — Central Film Company was also a victim of this scammer and has severed all ties with him — but it’s getting repeated elsewhere and Central Film Company has now had to defend itself against this on numerous websites. In this case the site is apparently hurting innocent victims in its fervor to play scam cop.

That alone should be enough to bug me. But here’s what bugs me.

The site is called The Hollywood Blacklist.

What the hell? Are you old enough to know that the “hollywood blacklist” was a dark and evil period in the history of the U.S.? No? Let me educate you, son.

Once upon a long time ago, Hollywood (and the U.S. Government) went through a rabbit hole of paranoia and wound up in a witch hunt called The Hollywood Blacklist. It was an institutionalized unAmerican effort hinged on fear, racism and nationalism that destroyed careers, lives and relationships.

From Wikipedia:

“The Hollywood blacklist—more precisely the entertainment industry blacklist, into which it expanded—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or associations, real or suspected. Artists were barred from work on the basis of their alleged membership in or sympathy toward the American Communist Party, involvement in liberal or humanitarian political causes that enforcers of the blacklist associated with communism, and/or refusal to assist federal investigations into Communist Party activities…”

I’m happy to say that by and large we’ve thankfully left this black mark of American history in the past (efforts of delusionals like Michele Bachmann notwithstanding).

So the idea of anyone resurrecting this term, from WITHIN THE INDUSTRY in particular, for a new site that seeks to “warn” people about the “misdeeds” or “omissions” or very possibly “innocent failures” of others within the industry based even in part on unverified or uncorroborated hearsay really irks me.

Now look. I get it. The Hollywood film industry is infamous for being filled with nefarious characters prepared to steal your script (unscrupulous producers), steal your money (unscrupulous distributors), steal your virginity (unscrupulous agents) or steal your soul (unscrupulous culture).

And the indie filmmaking community has perhaps more than its fair share of scammers, looking to trade on the hopes and dreams of every small timer with a handicam who thinks if he can just find the right person to fund, produce or distribute his unique vision he’ll be the next Spielberg/Coppola/Coen.

So we ought to watch out for each other, sure. But we also have to watch out for ourselves. You have to be vigilant. You have to be smart. You have to educate yourself.

In the end, although this whole thing seems well intentioned, I’m not certain I like the unverifiable nature of the site, or the apparent visceral vengeance that seems to drive it. That seems like an irresponsible place to be coming from when doing this kind of thinig.

If they don’t start taking more care in what they do, I hope they at least change the name. That’s a period in Hollywood and U.S. history that I for one don’t need to have revisited.

pocahauntus

10 Jul , 2009,
Chip Street
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A few years ago I ended up talking with Veronica Craven about her upcoming slate of horror films. We chatted about me writing a zombie flick for her but that project didn’t come together (at least not with me).

pocahauntus-facepocahauntus-wardrobefullShe did, however, have a project going into production called “Pocahauntus” — a cheezy B horror flick shot on a dime. It aimed for fun straight-to-DVD fare and as far as I know it hit it. And come on, “Pocahauntus“? Somebody had to make a film called “Pocahauntus“.

I ended up doing a few character dev sketches for the film. Never saw it. But it’s on NetFlix. And here’s a few clips from YouTube.

"Away We Go" gains instant indie cred via hand drawn title font

16 Jun , 2009,
Chip Street
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3 comments

Away We Go is just the latest in a long line of “indie” films to leverage the oh-so-cool “hand drawn title” font, lending it serious street cred and instant indie validation before anyone even sees the film.

juno

Recently popularized by 2007’s JUNO, the quirky hand-made title font brought visions of diary entries and emo-teen angst-filled journal poems, setting appropriate audience expectations by screaming “We’re an honest unassuming micro-brew movie!”

nickandnorah

Leveraged again in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the wacky font inferred the hand written liner notes of a home-made mix tape. Plus, it promises that the movie is probably intimate, personal and low-fidelity-artsy, reminding us of the days of cassette mix tapes and Bic-penned song lists rather than CD’s and laser printered liners.

awaywegoSo then does 2009’s Away We Go not only give us a title font designed in the margins of a high-school English quiz, but an entire poster cartooned/rotoscoped like a modern-day Yellow Submarine (1968) or 1971’s The Point… or more contemporarily, hearkening right back to 2007 and JUNO’s opening title sequence — or the JUNO Soundtrack cover (See below). How quirkily indie-filmishly self-referential and hip. (Do the kids say “hip” any more? Or am I just fixated on “hip” because mine hurts?)

juno2

Yes, the same design firm (Shadowplay Studio) did the titles for both JUNO and Nick and Norah (not sure yet about Away We Go, but I’m guessin’). Anyway, sure they do fine work and all. But how long will it be before looking just like JUNO has people saying “What, again?” instead of “Ooh! Again!”.

Got more examples? Please share.

NOTE: In all fairness and in the interest of full-disclosure, I really enjoyed JUNO, plan to see Nick and Norah (love me some Michael Cera – Superbad rocks) and think Away We Go has two of my favorite funny people in it. But come on. This Title design trend is going to become as stereotypically “indie” as the wacky Grampa character addicted to porn.