Monthly Archives: September 2002

9/30/02 Day 2 of our

9/30/02

Day 2 of our IFP experience left us exhausted, but happy to be in the company of a lot of other filmmakers. One thing that separates New York from Los Angeles (other than an average IQ differential of about 45) is that people here in the movie business are all about “collectives,” other loose partnerships, and the general good will that a high tide raises all ships. In Los Angeles, every success becomes a referendum on the failures of everyone within the successful person’s penumbra, as well as a good time to work up your resentments into a fine patina. I probably shouldn’t use the word “resentment,” which is too fine-tuned for the LA experience; best go with outright naked “jealousy.”

Not so in New York, or at least not so obvious. We actually want everyone to do well, and talk up projects that we may not even like. One such narrative we saw today, and the conversations later all started with “I don’t want to be mean…” and finished with “…but I really respect what he was trying to do.” We also saw some pieces today that needed no qualifications, as they were quite good without any waffling from us. Paul Devlin’s documentary “Power Trip” about the electricity outages in Tbilisi, Georgia (former USSR) was cool, as was Jessica Sharzer’s short film The Wormhole (word on the street was that she got a 3-picture deal from Universal out of it fuckin’ yikes).

My favorite dudes, of course, are the ones who got into the Market through spit and vinegar, and don’t mind dorking out while they spin their various yarns. Like this guy, for instance:

I think his documentary is about the venerable urban legend that we didn’t actually go to the moon in 1969, and the whole lunar landing was done on a soundstage in Burbank. Which makes you wonder if Apollo 11 was a hoax, why did they keep pretending to go back, even after the TV ratings dipped? They took six more journeys to the moon after the first one, including the botched Apollo 13. I dunno, it just seems like a lot of work to keep the ruse going.

Keeping the conversations purring at these things takes more out of you than you realize, like a lot of sun on a hot beach day. Tomorrow is our big day at the festival; we show our clips at 1:45 at the Angelica, put on a little dog and pony show, and hope for the best. I’m a little concerned about the approachability and conventionality of our project it seems like we’re not just the only comedy, we’re the only feature with a linear storyline. One of the documentary guys said “you made a comedy? You guys are brave!

me and Tessa on the subway home, dressed in our pink best

9/29/02 It was at the

9/29/02

It was at the IFP party tonight that it hit me: we really did accomplish something with this movie just by getting it done. If you’re going to be emotionally healthy about it and believe that the journey is indeed the destination, then we can claim success right now. In the artistic world a sphere in which I tentatively cling to membership

9/28/02 Note to self, and

9/28/02

Note to self, and note to entire blog-reading public: going to the New Jersey Ikea on a Saturday afternoon in September is about as much fun as a trip to the DMV in the Bronx during a heat wave. There are so many humans in one place, all clamoring for the same semi-disposable Swedish furniture, most not speaking English, and nary an Ikea staffer among them. Have a special order? Good luck. It’s like getting extra gruel rations in a Eastern Bloc prison.

I didn’t know Ikea was famous for its Swedish Meatballs, but approximately 1 x 10 to the ninth other people did, and you had to wait in line with them to even get near the cafeteria. Later, Tessa waited half an hour for a shopping cart that never came I swear, if we’re doing this much waiting, there better be a Ragin’ Log Flume Ride on the other side.

The sad thing is that Ikea’s stuff can be so cool, so perfect for your needs, and, once in the privacy of your own home, quite nice to assemble. It’s just the physical store that is so reprehensible, with the airport noise and the crunch of people, and screaming, screaming Russian babies.

I figure there are a lot of good places to get the flu around here, but the sneeze guard at the Elizabeth Ikea cafeteria has to be the best place to start. I was so disgusted that I had to make a list of the other nine:

2. the M23 bus pole during morning rush hour along 23rd st

3. the pediatrician’s office downstairs after 47 baby sneezes

4. the pen for signing Visa bills at the Yaffa Caf on St. Marks Place

5. the copy of New York Newsday on the seat of the 2 train heading out of Manhattan

6. the cab door handle out front of the Chelsea Clearview Cinemas

7. the divot where the cashier tosses you a subway token at the 125th St. A-train station

8. the game basketball at the W. 4th St. courts

9. the “START PRINTING” button on the Rite Aid copy machine on Hudson Avenue

10. tonguing drunk sailor at the Manhole during Fleet Week

The night got better, as we went to Jane Barnes’ 60th birthday party put together by her daughter Nell Casey. We ate, danced, listened to toasts, got high (at least I did) and then rode home with Lorraine, Alex and Bliss Broyard. I forgot my camera, more’s the pity, but Bliss took this cool picture of us:

Tessa, Alex Draper and me. I look like a drunk Southern lawyer

9/27/02 Know what that is?

9/27/02

Know what that is? It’s a teaspoon, natch, the hard-fought mascot of our new movie trailer division. “The Teaspoon Trailer Company” was officially born today with a press release sent out to various and sundry folks in the know. We’d thought of several names for the company: The Pudding Lane Trailer Company (mine), the Superette (Tessa’s), Daisy Trailers (various girls in the office) but Teaspoon came from a bunch of cooking metaphors we’d been working on, and we liked the idea of movie trailers being the distilled essence of a product. The kind of distillation, like vanilla extract, that can only be measured by teaspoon. There’s another reason for “teaspoon” but Tessa wants to keep it a secret.

We put together the website, and it already looks cooler than most dot-coms I’ve worked at, and with greater functionality (the links will work when you click on them, for starters). What’s great about this idea, at least for me, is that it is fairly organic. I like making trailers the same way I like solving a puzzle: how can you take a movie and reduce it to its most intense dramatic, funny or surreal moments? I approach it like a brilliant math problem that is the ultimate combination of algebra and art, and when you’re finished, there’s a real sense of accomplishment. Sure, it’s not a life passion, but we’re really good at it, and we can follow Michael Mastro’s dogma of “get a day job you like.”

9/26/02 1:37am late Thursday night,

9/26/02

1:37am late Thursday night, after thirteen hours of editing the movie, making our last push before the IFP and winter festival deadline, almost unable to form words, our brains the consistency of strawberry & cream oatmeal, mere minutes from our first real rough cut

9/25/02 I could have gone

9/25/02

I could have gone to bed long ago, perhaps at midnight, or even 11:30. I’ve had about twenty hours of sleep this week in total, and I’m starting to hallucinate during the day, seeing bears in the corners of rooms and talking to electrical appliances. But something compelled me to try and fix the Pink House music problem anyway, and here I sit at 3am, having laid down four more tracks to put in the movie. Certainly no evidence can be laid out that says that these little snippets of songs and aural ideas will lead the movie to victory, but tomorrow is our last day of editing, and being utterly irrational, I imagined that the inclusion of these pieces would make a difference to the movie’s future.

I mean, why not? All things have a tipping point, so why can’t the movie? Perhaps that tiny violin glissando I just barreled through will appeal, even subconsciously, to a festival judge, and it will marry him to the material enough to give us the go-ahead. He won’t know why he liked the movie, he just liked it. But you and I know, don’t we?

The hilarious thing is that none of what I do music-wise will ever end up in the final product; we have a whole budget for my mom’s orchestrations and the music supervisor’s bands. My little semi-quaver band-aids serve only to give the movie drive, and spackle over any strange spells that an orchestra will skim-coat later. But if you put yourself forth, and believe in the Buddha and yourself, your desire, self-kindness, and plain old tenacity pays off somewhere down the river. That’s my faith for this evening, and I’m sticking to it.

directing late at night during reshoots or at least LOOKING like I am

9/24/02 Any of you reading

9/24/02

Any of you reading this are lucky I wasn’t keeping a blog in late 2000 or early 2001 not only would you have to endure daily rants about the suck-assitude of That Internet Job, but I would have waxed philosophic about my back pain, which I raised to almost biblical metaphor. Before my injury, I used to think back pain was mostly bullshit, probably stemming from this one particular All in the Family episode where Archie fakes an old army injury in order to get out of a pool game. Suffice to say I learned my lesson on that one, having spent the better part of a year in unabating agony, trying everything from steroid pills to acupuncture in a futile quest for relief. Two things healed me: time, and a few Pilates exercises that Jessica Arinella showed me. But mostly time.

Occasionally, I’ll have a few bad days, and this is one of them I went on a bike ride with Tessa through Prospect Park, and spent the rest of the night wishing I could jab a fork in my kidney just to give me something else to think about. But in the bathroom, just before sitting down to write this, I had an epiphany.

One of our running jokes is my alter-ego High Maintenance Boy, a superhero who can’t get through the day without Afrin, lactose-intolerance pills, Celexa and a white-noise maker. He’s comes chock-full of prerequisites, to be sure, but he’s also a very good-mannered superhero that brings empathy to any crime situation. I think I’m closer to that joke than I had realized, and tonight I gave myself license to understand one thing: I have a lower tolerance for pain than most people. Now this is the kind of thing that brings easy judgement; nobody wants to be around a fucking whiner. But if you truly accept that you just feel shittier than most people most of the time, you can take an incredible amount of heat off yourself.

My heat? The fear that I will become complacent if I start acting old. I want to want to get drunk, but the fact is, it just makes me exhausted and gives me acid reflux. I’m only telling you, the blog, because we’re not out drinking (if we were, I’d be dancing and singing and whipping out bon mots by the basketful) but secretly, I’d be fucking tired and craving two Zantacs.

But if you accept that you are indeed High Maintenance Boy, then you can say “well, it’s obvious. I’m getting older and things hurt me now, and it’s okay to avoid them without losing my pissed-off youthful integrity.” It also means that you are free from deciding whether or not to exercise: you must, because growing old and fat and creaky is simply not an option. You HAVE to stay relatively skinny and limber, because life after 40 is one god-damned disease after another, and High Maintenance Boy will be on permanent duty.

So tonight, I accept my position in life and understand what is laid out before me. I will hurt all the time unless I take steps not to hurt. I am thankful for my many needs, as they release me from the burden of choice! God Bless You, High Maintenance Boy!

9/23/02 You know, sometimes the

9/23/02

You know, sometimes the environment can really affect the way something proceeds. I’m not talking about the hemorrhoids that supposedly kept Napoleon from making smart decisions at Waterloo, I mean the more general rules about the situation in which something is displayed. They say a room has to be “cold for comedy,” in other words, if the theater has the heat on too high, none of the audience will laugh.

I think we ran into a similar problem tonight, as we screened both the short trailer and the longer industry reel of The Pink House for a bunch of friends at Automatic Slim’s in the West Village, and both seemed (to us, anyway) met with a flaccid response. It wasn’t until everyone came up to us in private, saying how much they liked it, that I breathed a small sigh of relief.

But again, it’s the environment thing. It was a bar-owned TV, high atop the racks adorned with the pricey scotch, with muffled sound and a small picture. Even the illustrious George Gilmore, who was tending bar, said “well, it’s to be expected. People watch TV in bars as a way of zoning out.” Which made me wonder why we had it there in the first place, but no harm done. We saw a lot of great people tonight (John Lasala, Alex Yong, Seth, James, Lizzie, Shielagh, Ed Ryan even Ben Feldman was there!) and handed out a shitload of tomatoes. Even if we only spread good will, then our job is well done.

And I might have to get used to this fact: the Pink House movie is an intellectual, intense pursuit full of great details that don’t make for laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a lot of small, wonderful little things that are part of the whole, not a joke unto itself. I wanted to make the kind of movie that people would take home with them, enjoy bits in private, commiserate in silent recognition. If we get people to come up to us afterwards and say they get it, then I won’t care if they laugh or not. Even if it is a comedy, god dammit!

9/22/02 What’s better than throwing

9/22/02

What’s better than throwing your dog into a swirling bathtub of lukewarm water, watching him sit still with the dread of impending hygiene, slathering him with Prell shampoo, and turning him into a black, droopy, soapy scourge of discontent?

Nothing!

9/21/02 You know that day

9/21/02

You know that day when the wind changes, and there’s that unmistakable little chill in the air you look off into the horizon and you swear you can smell fall, and then the winter coming? Well, today wasn’t that day. At all. Here we are in late September, up in the Berkshires, and it’s still so hot and humid that we have to crank the air conditioners all damned day.

It is sad, however, to come to the end of the growing season. The local uber-nursery Wards – a store that seems to attract every white old-school preppie dad and mom from Massachusetts and Connecticut – shut down most of their incredible greenhouse of exotic plants, leaving naught but a bunch of pumpkins and a selection of bulbs for next year. It’s a little unsettling. Up here, you can catch the faint whiff of desperation that might have kicked in for the ancient farmers, looking to the sky, then to their fields, and wondering if they had enough to get through the lean season not too far off.

All I know is this: if you could live on tomatoes, I’ve got the garden for you. And I know it’s the crustiest clich on earth, how homegrown vegetables taste better, but good lord above, I wish all of you could taste these:

this week’s haul Lindsay, Tessa and Dana in the background wondering why I’m taking pictures of vegetables