Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I Heart New York "and Other Idiomatic Expressions

Thom Powers, Kurt Norton and Paul Mariano at the "These Amazing Shadows" post screening Q&A - IFC Center Theater, New York. (photo by Justin Paine)
Paul and I have spent a lot of time together over the past two years working on These Amazing Shadows. I mean a lot of time. It is to the point that when we go to a special event or important appointment we will often wear almost the same clothes. It's kinda freaky and disturbing. Paul has taken to wearing one of our popular "I Heart Movies" buttons (see below) in order to make sure people can tell us apart.

TAS is not on the marquee but shared the theater with all those great films at the IFC Center Theater, NY.
On April 21st we screened TAS at the IFC Center Theater in New York. Our appreciation goes out to Thom Powers, the director of the Stranger than Fiction documentary series that sponsored our screening. He was a great host and is so knowledgeable about documentaries. Thanks, Thom.

You can tell Paul and Kurt apart by the "I Heart Movies" button Paul wears daily.
The IFC Center Theater, New York screening of These Amazing Shadows was really fun. We expected the typical crowd and experience but got something much different. What we got was quality over quantity. Our audience was not as big as we would have liked but it was a very sophisticated NY industry crowd. Every audience is a bit different but we are used to getting the predictable laughs, oooos and ahhhhs at certain points in our show. This audience was not like any other. No big laughs. No real emotional ooooos and ahhhs. I was rather crushed. But, after the screening we found an audience full of life, opinions, intensity like no other. We simple Californians were not prepared for the full New York experience. Thanks so much to Barbara Kopple, Dan Strible, Bob Hawk, Nina Paley, John Magery, Myna Joseph, Jill Bauer, Peter Golub's mother, Brian and (the lovely) Hanna Oakes, and many others.
Paul mugs with Kurt's niece, Tessa Rexroat at the IFC Center Theater in New York. (photo by Justin Paine)
Kurt tries to convince his niece, Tessa, to take his place at the TAS post screening Q&A. (photo by Justin Paine)
Our "I Heart Movies" buttons are very popular. We thought about all kinds of giveaways, but due to our limited budget landed on buttons. Here are some of our buttons designed by our graphics guru Brian Oakes. Ignore the square...think round.

Stranger than Fiction documentary series facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6016344979

IFC Center Theater

Thom Powers

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Let's All Go to the Lobby" - Redux'd, Revived and Redone

One of the delightful moments in These Amazing Shadows is when George Willeman describes how and why he got the bumper, Let's All Go to the Lobby, selected to the National Film Registry.  Like all great works of pop culture art - LAGTTL is often imitated, mashed and mangled. You can watch the original version above. The following four videos are marvelous examples of the timeless art of imitation and parody. Long live LAGTTL!

Let's All Go to the Lobby...Simpsons Style!

BrainPhunk Version 1.0

The Freshmoore Animation Class presents...Let's All Go to the Lobby!!!

From Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Information on:
Let's All Go to the Lobby - original
The Filmack Studios
The Simpsons
Wack Piktures
Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Let's All Go to the Lobby (1957) was selected to the National Film Registry in 2000.
Thanks, George.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Favorite ipad/iphone App.

We realize that not everybody uses a iphone or ipad so we apologize for reviewing an app that does not have a version for the Android market. I am currently on my ipad honeymoon, which I offer as my excuse. My current favorite app is: FILM STUDY.
1) It's free.
2) It's well designed.
3) It's fun.
4) What is it? If you are a film enthusiast (or even if you're not), you can use this app to connect to the world of public domain movies and stream them from anywhere that there is an internet connection. It includes a great directory of all kinds of great public domain films. The directory contains categories like comedy, film noir, romance, sci-fi, westerns, silent films. I went right to comedy and spotted a Cary Grant film from 1936 entitled, The Amazing Adventure. In many ways is a poorly made film, but totally great fun to watch. Crude jump cuts. Overly on-the-nose script. Despite those short comings it is still fantastic and it lead me to be hooked on this app. Other comedy category offerings: William Powell in Our Man Godfrey, Buster Keaton's The Cameraman, W.C. Field's The Fatal Glass of Beer and an indescribable film entitled, Samogonshiki. Full disclosure: since this app uses public domain films that means you can get them on your own via youtube or the Internet Archive. But why when this app brings the best together for you. The interface presents the films in a way that gives them the importance they deserve (especially on an ipad). There are a lot of features I haven't mentioned that are left to you to discover. One complaint: no search feature. Or, at least I haven't found it.

Detailed information on Film Study: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/film-study/id366105022?mt=8#
The Amazing Adventure
Our Man Godfrey
The Fatal Glass of Beer
The Cameraman (selected to the National Film Registry in 2005)
TAS tip-o-the-hat to the app designer, Richard Joffray.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Geese, a Goat and Harry Shearer

An Ashland goat.
Report by co-director Paul Mariano from the Ashland Independent Film Festival
Photos by Suzanne Chapot.
Ashland -- known for its Shakespearean festival -- is a wonderful town for a film festival also…as we learned. We arrived in Ashland for the festival on Thursday, April 7thTAS was set to screen on Saturday. The staff set us up in a charming bed and breakfast just outside of town. We had a great cottage in the back, and shared our environs with a goat and a gaggle of geese in the pond just outside our front door.

A gaggle of Ashland geese.
On Thursday night we went to the Opening Night Bash, where we ran into Harry Shearer.  Harry was appearing with his documentary The Big Uneasy.  Harry and I discussed our mutual producer (Christine O’Malley…the “best of the best”)…and This is Spinal Tap, a film in which Harry starred and is profiled in These Amazing Shadows

Harry Shearer, director of The Big Uneasy trades quips with Paul.
On Friday, we got a chance to see three other screenings and prowl around Ashland.  Everywhere we went, there was a poster of These Amazing Shadows on display. We hoped that this was a good omen.

Saturday morning TAS was screened in the 500-seat Ashland Historic Armory.  Paul and Suzanne (who has become the unofficial festival photographer) went early to talk with the staff and “check out” the theater.  The people filed in, the lights went down, the audience got quiet….and then it started.  It might have been cold outside, but it was warm and friendly inside the theater.  The audience absolutely loved TAS.  They laughed and they cried, and when it was over, they applauded longer and louder (there was even a standing ovation from some) than any audience thus far.  It was a heart-warming and rewarding moment…one I wish that the entire crew had been present to experience and share. Our thanks to the staff of the festival and to the audience who enjoyed our film so much !

Paul on stage post TAS screening at the Historic Ashland Armory.
This is Spinal Tap (1984) was selected to the National Film Registry in 2002.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New York Director: Sidney Lumet 1924 - 2011

Sidney Lumet on location in his beloved New York City.

Sidney Lumet, director, screenwriter and producer died on Saturday, April 9th.

We had a conversation recently about who we should invite to be a guest speaker at the April 21st screening of These Amazing Shadows at the IFC Center Theater, New York. Thom Powers, who will be hosting the screening, suggested it would be great to have a noted New York filmmaker. The first name that came up was Sidney Lumet. Many of his films have the gritty realism that represents to the world the true nature of New York City.

Mr. Lumet has five films on the National Film Registry:
Dog Day Afternoon (1975), selected to the Registry in 2009.
12 Angry Men (1957), selected to the Registry in 2007.
King: A Filmed Record (1970), selected to the Registry in 1999.
Network (1976), selected to the Registry in 2000.
The Pawnbroker (1965), selected to the Registry in 2008.

His humanity, love of actors and willingness to unflinchingly examine human emotions will be missed.

All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.
                                                                                - Sidney Lumet

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Darling Deschanels, Ashland, RiverRun and Tiburon

Zooey and Caleb Deschanel on the set of The Slugger's Wife in 1984.
One of the charming moments in These Amazing Shadows is Zooey Deschanel and her father Caleb talking about The Wizard of Oz. It's clear they share a bond through that movie (and an intense resemblance with their striking blue eyes). One of our ideas during production was to ask Zooey and Caleb if they had any home movies they would be willing to share with us. It was to be used in an elaborate TAS "Home Movie" segment. In the hectic environment of documentary production...we simply forgot to ask them. I still wonder - what would a famous cinematographer's family home movies look like? Not to mention the added layer of interest with his daughters growing up to be movie and TV stars.  I was reminded of that fumbled idea when a fan of TAS sent us the above photo.

Mary Jo, Zooey and Caleb Deschanel.

This is a big weekend for TAS. We are screening on Saturday at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and RiverRun International Film Festival; and Sunday at the Tiburon International Film Festival. Co-director Paul Mariano (along with his wife Suzanne) will be in Ashland to do a post-screening Q&A. I will be appearing for a brief Q&A in Tiburon. We are disappointed that we cannot attend RiverRun. We will be posting photos from these festivals next week.

The Wizard of Oz Facts:
- premiered at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939 and Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood on August 15, 1939.
- selected to the National Film Registry in 1989.
- Toto is listed in the end credits as being played by Toto, when he was actually played by a dog named Terry.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paul is Shocked and George Wows 'em: Report from the Cleveland International Film Festival

Post-screening panel discussion at the Tower City Cinemas.
Festival report by co-director Paul Mariano
Suzanne and I flew to Cleveland on Friday to attend the 35th Cleveland International Film Festival for screenings of These Amazing Shadows on Saturday, April 2nd and Sunday, April 3rd. The star of our doc, George Willeman (from the Packard Campus - Library of Congress) with family in tow, met us in Cleveland to be part of a panel discussion on Saturday. The screenings were occurring at Tower City Cinemas located in the the Terminal Tower. [In case you're curious, Tower City was built in 1927 as the Cleveland Union Terminal, a railroad hub similar to New York City's Grand Central Station.  The Terminal Tower stood as the tallest building in North America outside New York until 1964. Its observation deck was originally intended to be used by Goodyear for dirigible travel between Cleveland and New York.]

Tower Terminal in downtown Cleveland.
On Saturday, we took a break from the festival to visit and soak up the rockin' atmosphere at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It was a musical journey down memory lane, and well worth the visit. One of the current exhibits is the really great: Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock. As you can see below, I was very sad to leave.

Paul is sad to leave the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Saturday screening was fabulous. The audience was large, and expectations were high. After I made some opening comments about the movie, one of the festival coordinators asked me to accompany her to another theater. I was shocked to learn TAS was screening in two theaters simultaneously. There before me was a second theater filled with excited and expectant moviegoers. What a treat! Two theaters...two separate audiences...both watching These Amazing Shadows. As a famous Oscar winner once so unabashedly said, "They like us, they really, really like us!"

Grafton Nunes, John Ewing, George Willeman and Paul Mariano.
George and I were joined for a panel discussion after the screening by John Ewing of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Grafton Nunes of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The topic: "Is art worth preserving". John and Grafton love film...and loved TAS.

On Sunday, we learned that the total festival audience on Saturday was 11,100 people...the largest single day total in their 35 year history.  (By the way, the opening-day crowd at the Indians baseball game was only 9,000.) Was it just a coincidence that this all-time attendance record was set on the very day that TAS opened (in two theaters) at the festival? Hmmmm...

Tonight we attend the final screening of TAS, and then off to the Closing Night Reception for directors and executive producers. The staff of the festival has been wonderful...well-organized and extremely friendly. And the audiences have been extraordinary. They really like film here in Cleveland. Cleveland rocks!

Review by Clint O'Connor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Debbie!

Photo taken by Doug Blush in 2010 during a performance by Ms. Reynolds at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Today is Debbie Reynolds birthday. We wish her a very joyful and fun day.

Debbie has two films on the National Film Registry:
Singin' in the Rain (1952), selected to the Registry in 1989.
How the West Was Won (1962), selected to the Registry in 1997.

She was nominated for a best actress Oscar in 1964 for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Her daughter, Carrie Fisher, also has a film on the National Film Registry:
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), selected to the Registry in 1989.

Interesting facts:
- They both had films named to the Registry during its first year of selections - 1989.
- They are the only mother/daughter combination to have films on the Registry...as far as we know. You could and should try to prove us wrong by checking the Unofficial National Film Registry Personnel Credits list.
- Debbie and Carrie share the experience of being teenagers when they made their first important movie: Debbie in Singin' in the Rain (1952), and Carrie in Shampoo (1975).

Debbie as Kathy Selden in "Singin' in the Rain."