Follow by Email

Monday, December 29, 2014

When Mike Nichols Fired Robert De Niro

When Mike Nichols Fired Robert De Niro: Excerpt from 'De Niro: A Life'

Robert De Niro was initially cast in Mike Nichols' "Bogart Slept Here," but the film never got off the ground and the material was later reworked to become Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl" starring Richard Dreyfuss. Read the full story below in this excerpt from Shawn Levy's new book, "De Niro: A Life."

To read full article, click below:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014



When Spanish dancer Carmencita brought her saucy act to Edison’s lab, she became the first woman ever to appear in front of a motion picture camera.

Click below to watch history:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding for Filmmakers

Indiewire's Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding for Filmmakers

A good article on crowdfunding by Indiewire:

As crowdfunding becomes more and more the standard for independent film projects, filmmakers continue to look to Indiewire for resources on the best practices and tips for crowdfunding. Indiewire's developed quite a corpus on the topic, and we've got a list of our essential reading below.  Feel free to bookmark this page; we'll keep it updated when we publish new articles that are essential reads for those prepping for their campaigns.

To read full article:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Very Short Stories

Very Short Stories

Yes, more on the art of the short storytelling form. Below are some extremely short stories. As filmmakers, which of these can be made into a film? Which ones might be cinematic? Visual?

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
Eileen Gunn

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
Margaret Atwood

He read his obituary with confusion.
Steven Meretzky

Rained, rained, rained, and never stopped.
Howard Waldrop

Osama’s time machine: President Gore concerned.
Charles Stross

To save humankind he died again.
Ben Bova

To read read more, go to the full article here:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roger Deakins on the Art of Cinematography

Below is some excellent advice from an amazing DP. My favorite is -- 
"Don’t Get Distracted with Technique"

1. Don’t Get Distracted with Technique

“Operating the wheels needs to become second nature as it can be a disaster if the technique of operating distracts from the relationship that an operator has with the subject. When I was starting I practiced doing figures of eight with the wheels and progressed to signing my name with them. I don’t feel the need to practice anymore but I do reassure myself that I can still sign my name each time I start a new film, if I am using a gear head. A gear head is not everyone’s choice and I don’t always carry one but it does have distinct advantages on certain set ups and on certain films.”

2. You Must Discover Your Own Style

“I am very wary of showing too much in the way of plans and diagrams. Not because I am secretive and I don’t want to give away something that is personal. Not at all! I just remember that when I began as a film maker and a cinematographer I never watched another cinematographer at work. The closest I ever got to seeing ‘how it was done’ was by shooting some documentary footage of Doug Slocombe at work on ‘Pirates of Penzance’. I loved seeing him work but it had absolutely no influence on the way my work evolved. Our styles could not be more different. That’s my point really. You can’t learn your craft by copying me or anyone else. I hope what I do can do is in some way inspire others but I would be appalled if I though my work was being studied as ‘the right way to do the job’. My way is just one of an infinite number of ways to do the job.”

3. Compromise is Sometimes Needed for a Better Film

“Sometimes, as with the death row scenes on ‘Dead Man Walking’, it is better to compromise composition, lighting and perhaps even sound a little and shoot with two cameras in order to help an actor get their performance. Sometimes it is better to go wider to include a prop in frame than break an actor’s concentration. When an actor appears on set ready to do a take it may be too late to change anything. At that time if I see a bad shadow or an eyeline that is slightly off I might talk to the actor or I might not. Perhaps I might think it better to change things for take two. If not then I judge it my mistake and I must try not to let it happen next time. In the end a film can look lousy but work because of a great performance but not the other way round. That’s something always worth remembering.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

advice on writing the short story(film or prose)

Process. Habits. Write everyday. Work on many stories. Things will come, you'll get better. You will learn by doing. 

For film, write stories with few characters and few locations. This will be easier for you to make, and also force you to dig deep into emotions/conflicts and character.

Monday, November 10, 2014

scene from BIRDMAN

Yes, such a good film.

Here's a great scene. Well written and incredibly shot. Such energy.

Give the drummer some!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Want to see a great film?

This is it. Extremely creative. Incredibly shot. This film is a force.

Rarely do I see a film which inspires so much. Great story. Supurb acting. It is so intense in every way - feels like one continous shot. Of course it is not, but FEELS like it is. We are always in his head - between reality and not. Amazing how fluid this film is. Go see it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


You're invited to the SAG Foundation's latest panel on:
As digital media becomes more and more of a mode of mainstream distribution, content creators are looking for unique ways to showcase their product. The SAG Foundation's LifeRaft program is thrilled to present a panel populated by industry professionals who will provide insight in to obtaining financing and distribution in unique and exciting ways.
Neal Edelstein - Director/Producer, HAUNTING MELISSA
Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly - Writers/Directors, BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Chad Villella - Actors/Writers/Directors, CHAD, MATT & ROB 
Moderator - Zadi Diaz - Exec. Producer, YouTube Nation
Thursday, November 6th
Check-in will begin at 6:30pm. Doors close at 7:00pm and late arrivals will not be admitted.

SAG Foundation Actors Center
5757 Wilshire Blvd, Mezzanine, Los Angeles
(free validated parking - entrance off of Curson)


Alternative Funding & Distribution Methods
Aron Gaudet, Gita Pullapilly, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Chad Villella, Zadi Diaz
Thursday, November 6, 2014
7:00 PM 
Check-in begins at: 6:30 PM
7:05 PM PST
SAG Foundation Actors Center - Los Angeles
5757 Wilshire Blvd, Mezzanine Level
Los Angeles, CA 

(free validated parking)
Seats are available!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Six word short story!

Less is always more. Tell me these six words don't make you think/feel?

Friday, October 24, 2014

good short film (Blood and Chips)


What works with this film: it has a message, one location and just a few characters. Has tension. Yeah, it has its moments.

Link below to watch.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Mean Streets is one of my favorite films and certainly my favorite of Scorsese. It's raw and pure power. Lurching forward with such creative energy. Young DeNiro and Keitel - who are amazing.

Here's how the title came out:

The title for the film came from Raymond Chandler, who wrote in The Simple Art of Murder:
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

 Click on the link below to read a great article on the film. There's also a trailer and great pics:

Friday, October 10, 2014

John Lennon


Amazing short animated film starring john Lennon. Very creative.

During the interview the kid asks John how we the youth can help him and john answers by helping yourself. Change starts with the individual! As does revolution.

I Met the Walrus is an animated film directed by Josh Raskin (known for his musical project Kids & Explosions) and produced by Jerry Levitan. The film stars Levitan and John Lennon. The film's pen illustration is by James Braithwaite and computer illustration is by Alex Kurina.[1]
The film is based on an interview of John Lennon by Jerry Levitan in 1969. Levitan, then 14 years old, tracked Lennon to his hotel room atToronto's King Edward Hotel after hearing a rumour that Lennon had been sighted at the Toronto Airport. Jerry made his way into John Lennon's suite and persuaded John to agree to an interview. The animation is based on Levitan's 30 minute recording of the interview, which was edited down to 5 minutes.

Link here to watch:

The film was created in 2006-2007, produced by Jerry Levitan and supported by a grant from Bravo!FACT. The film premiered March 22, 2007 at This is London, a Toronto nightclub. Since then, the film has appeared at numerous film festivals around the world. The film has won many awards including a 2009 Daytime Emmy in the New Approaches, Daytime Entertainment category,[2] Best Animated Short awards for the American Film Institute[3] and the Middle East International Film Festival. The film was nominated for an Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[4] It was also included in the Animation Show of Shows. It was selected to be one of 25 YouTube videos to be part of the first Guggenheim Museum/YouTube Play "A Biennial of Creative Video".

Link here for main site:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Idea - it all starts with a good idea.

The Idea
The Foundation You Build Your House On

   Everything starts with the idea. Good ideas make everything that much easier. What I mean is, the better the idea, the better the script. The better the script, the better chance of landing good actors. Attaching good actors leads to easier ways to raising funds. There it is, with a good idea, good things can happen.
   Of course the opposite is true. A bad idea turns into a bad script. A bad script makes it impossible to attach good talent. Bad scripts and lack of good actors makes raising funds impossible. 

Read more:

Monday, October 6, 2014

One Bright Shining Moment

Watched this doc over the weekend. Amazing.

"Come home America," McGovern says at the democratic convention. This is a MUST SEE film to understand what the hell happened in this country, and yes, there is hope that perhaps we can get back to this?

So, you folks out there form like 15- 30 years of age - SEE THIS FILM! Any age. See it. Think. Do. React. Be.
When presidential candidate George McGovern took on incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972, no one really expected him to win – and he didn’t. But in his bold, grassroots, seat-of-the-pants campaign, which energized young and progressive Americans to a degree never before seen, we find the genesis of today's powerful and sophisticated progressive movement.

Using a wealth of amazing archival materials, interviews with provocative figures including historian Howard Zinn, and extensive interviews with McGovern himself, this “tremendously thought-provoking tribute to the one man who could have dramatically and permanently altered America’s political landscape for the better [is] essential viewing” (CBS Radio).

Featuring music by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Donovan, Leon Russell and Elvis Costello.

Here's a trailer:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

what cameras are filmmakers using now?

How'd They Shoot That? Here's the Cameras Used By the 2014 Sundance Filmmakers

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory Panasonic HVX200, with Letus 35mm adaptor, and then the Panasonic AF100. Canon 7D, Canon T2I, Canon C300. EF Canon lenses, ranging from the 16-35mm f/2.8, to the 24-70mm f/2.8, and the 75-300mm f/4-5.6, and a few old Nikon prime lenses.
All the Beautiful Things
Penelope 35mm Appropriate Behavior Red Scarlett, u2028

Camp X-Ray
 ARRI Alexa, with Ziess Ultra Primes and Alura Zooms
CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart
16mm, Super 8, Red, 5D, 7D 

Cesar's Last Fast Betacam, Panavision Genesis, Canon C300 & 5D; ARRI Alexa & Canon C300 & Super 8mm; Arri 416 & Panavision Genesis; ARRI Alexa; Arri Super16 SR3; 35mm Panavision
Cold in July 
Two Epics, one set of Cooke s4s and an Angenieux 24-290
Cooties  ARRI Alexa with Master Primes
Dead Snow: Red vs Dead Red Epic
Dear White People Epic X Cooke 18 - 100 Cooke S4 set

ARRI Alexa and old Cooke Speed Pancros.
For full article:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

state of inde film distribution

"The rest of the market never really got fired up. Part of the problem was that there was a distinct lack of commercial product with known names, buyers griped. That’s bad news for the smaller-scale dramas that need big names in order to guarantee foreign sales. As studio executives and indie players noted privately, the movie business has done a terrible job of minting new stars over the past decade, and that’s creating real headaches for riskier movies looking for some insurance by casting big names in order to get bankrolled."

-- from an article on the Toronto Film Festival. What annoys me is the statement - distinct lack of commercial product with known names. 

Is this really why less indie films are being sold at festivals? It probably is but what a shame. Why don't these mind numbing idiots look at films with a different mind set, like if it's a great story or not. Are they really qualified to judge if something is commercial? I do not think so. Example, I'm sure the knuckleheads who made Righteous Kill, a film starring DeNiro and Pacino surely thought it had a commercial product with big name talent. What happened? Perhaps the story sucked? Who saw it?

Get off your high horse and forget the notion you can tell if something is commercial. Don't see it as a product. It's not a fucking hamburger! It's a story. Aren't good stories commercial?

To read the full article click here:

Toronto: Smaller Deals Show Tough Market for Indie Film Business

Friday, September 26, 2014


Somewhat off the indie film topic but so fuckin what? His advise on being on time is extremely on point in the film world. If you can't be punctual, stay away from me!

Anthony Bourdain's Life Advice

What’s the best advice you ever received from anyone and who gave it and when?
Show up on time. I learned this from the mentor who I call Bigfoot in Kitchen Confidential. If you didn’t show up 15 minutes exactly before your shift, if you were 13 minutes early, you lost the shift, you were sent home. The second time you were fired. It is the basis of everything. I make all my major decisions on other people based on that. Give the people that you work with or deal with or have relationships with the respect to show up at the time you said you were going to. And by that I mean, every day, always and forever. Always be on time. It is a simple demonstration of discipline, good work habits and most importantly respect for other people. As an employee, it was a hugely important expression of respect and as an employer, I quickly came to understand that there are two types of people in this world: There are the type of people who are going to live up to what they said they were going to do yesterday and then there are people who are full of shit. And that’s all you really need to know. If you can’t be bothered to show up, why should anybody show up. It’s just the end of the fucking world. 

For entire article:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LOVE STREAMS - John Cassavetes

LOVESTREAMS is the last film of indie godfather John Cassavetes, and for the first time, it is being released on DVD and streaming by Criterion. One of my all time favorite films. For me, it's his masterpiece. A culmination of every idea, emotion and theme he worked on throughout his career. A must see, so you must see it! Dig?

Criterion link:

Click here to view TRAILER:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Up, Stand Up

A 21 Protest Song Salute

Singer and activist Tom Morello says it’s his job as a musician “to steel the backbone of people on the front lines of social justice struggles, and to put wind in sails of those struggles.” Here’s a list of 21 songs that have done just that — from Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power

So my fellow indie filmmakers, how can you all put some wind in the sails of the oh so many struggles we face today?

Here's a link to the list, with videos of every song:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Peter is one of THE guys on the indie scene. He's now a consultant to indie filmmakers - which is an amazing resource, one which all indie filmmakers should use. I first met Peter at SXSW when my 1st indie film Sleepwalk premiered there. Then, he was working at IFC's Next Wave, and he purchased Sleepwalk to run on IFC.

His wisdom on the ins and outs of indie distribution is pure gold. Here are some snippets, then click the link for full article.

You’ve finally finished your film and have just received your first distribution offer. Now what?

Negotiation is an essential but little understood part of dealmaking. To make fair deals with good distributors, there are mistakes you must avoid and steps you need to take.

  1. Don’t submit to festivals too early. Most filmmakers do and end up regretting it. If your movie is not as good as it’s going to get but you submit anyway, you increase the already high odds of being rejected. You should resist the siren calls of festival deadlines until you’re confident you’ve made the strongest film you can make. You need to put your best foot forward with festivals, press, and distributors. Utilize test screenings with strangers (rather than family and friends) to determine if your film is ready to premiere. These screenings will help you determine what changes need to be made. Then you can test screen a new cut for another audience. 
  2. Don’t submit your film to distributors or producer’s reps without internally having a customized distribution strategy. This strategy should include your plans for each avenue of distribution. Too many filmmakers follow the old playbook and take a formulaic approach to submitting their movies to the usual suspects without having a clear vision of how they want their films to come into the world.
To read the rest, click here:

Monday, September 15, 2014

an extremely well written film

One can not see every film, listen to every piece of music before one dies. Let's be thankful for that, yes? Of course, yes.

You Can Count On Me is a film I've been meaning to see for a while. Don't know why I never caught up with it, but I finally did and yes sir, mam and all in between - here I am saying watch this film!

Not often do I see characters who truly seem real. These do. The end isn't overblown and roses don't rise out of the pavement. A brother and sister with real needs and real problems. Drama with humor, humor with drama. Excellent acting and yes, these two actually feel like brother and sister!

Here's a NY Times review:

You Can Count on Me is a 2000 American drama film starring Laura LinneyMark RuffaloRory Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, it tells the story of Sammy, a single mother living in a small town, and her complicated relationships with family and friends. The story takes place in the fictionalized Catskill communities of Scottsville and Auburn, New York.[1][2][note 1] The film was primarily shot in and around Margaretville, New York.
The film and Linney's performance received numerous positive reviews among critics, and dozens of award nominations and awards at film festivals and during the awards season, including two Oscar nominations.

The film was primarily shot in and around Margaretville, New York in the Catskill Mountains, circa June 1999.[note 2]
While the bank exteriors were filmed at Margaretville's NBT bank, the interiors were filmed in another bank closer to New York City since NBT considered interior filming a security risk.[2]
The scenes where Rudy Jr. walks home in the rain were filmed with the assistance of the Margaretville Fire Department which used their trucks and hoses to create the rain.[3]
Many outdoor scenes away from the Village—most notably the fishing trip—were filmed in Phoenicia, New York.[3] The cemetery seen in the film is not the Village's—which cannot be seen from the road—rather it is a smaller cemetery four miles outside the village on Route 30.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

indie film on showtime

Around June is still playing on Showtime. Click link below for times. And yes, a real indie film - made for under 500K w/out a distribution deal.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

domestic violence

Yes, I know this is off topic as the space here is dedicated to filmmaking ramblings, but since that word rambling is indeed part of our lexicon permit me to ramble. What the fu*k! It took the NFL to view a video of a guy punching out his woman to suspend him? Really? Her being knocked out totally and a video of her be dragged out of an elevator wasn't enough?

I should be ENOUGH! It should have been more than enough for the local authorities to put this guy behind bars ASAP. Why do the police treat protestors with more malice than they do with men who punch out their women? To protest is not a crime, last time I check. To assault someone is. Priorities? Can we not get them straight?

Fu^k the NFL!

And to all of you young and inspiring filmmakers - do something!  Write a story about this bullshit. Please.
I feel we're at a tipping point. I hope we are. That is, how people of color are treated by the police. How women are treated. Viewed. Keep the pressure on - social media, films, blogs, essays, etc.