Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another day in the life at Sundance Version 2.0, Volume 2, Chapter 2

The mini marquee for theater number five at the Broadway Centre Cinemas in Salt Lake City.
Another day...whew! They all have blended into each other. We shall begin with last night...Friday night in Salt Lake City. Most films at Sundance have a Salt Lake City screening. It requires leaving the protection of the Sundance bubble with it's festival friendly audiences and driving 45 minutes to the real world. It is conventional wisdom that the audience you get in SLC is a "real" audience and will give you a much better idea of what the public really thinks of your film. As you can see from the above photo of the mini marquee above the entrance to theater 5 we had a lot to live up to. It turns out the full house thought our doc was "Amazing." Once again, whew! Even though it was a late showing and the theater was rather warm - most of the audience stayed for the Q&A. Great questions and many pigeonholed us after for private questions. Really passionate people who love film. Great audience. Thank you SLC!

Composer Peter Golub talking with score mixer Mike Roskelley and his wife Kelly.
We were lucky to be joined last night by our composer Peter Golub and score mixer Mike Roskelley who was with his wife, Kelly. Mike and Kelly live in Salt Lake City. Kelly is a psychiatrist who practices at the local VA hospital. They are such a nice people. Several members of the team that Peter assembled to create his score are from SLC. Prior to the screening we had dinner with Peter who is a wonderful dinner companion because he can speak on such a wide range of subjects. He is one of those rare people who has strong opinions but is not preachy or over bearing. He is just very smart and personable - an unusual combination and a great person to hang with.

Co-editor Alex Calleros does some business on the web at the Sundance House HP computer center.
Our co-editor, Alex Calleros, has seen 124 films over the past ten days. Okay, that is an exaggeration, but he has seen a ton of films and reports to us daily on his favorites (The Details, Circumstance among others). He is the master at getting around town on the confusing free shuttle system. Not only is Alex out in force supporting These Amazing Shadows, attending parties, seeing films - he and two friends have launched a site called Finite Films (see link below). They propose to produce one short film every month over the next year following "constraints" that are submitted by the public to their site. They have a very clever pitch video that you must see that will explain the idea of "constraints." And, yes, they are asking for money and their pitch is really seductive. But, more importantly they are asking for your participation. You can actually collaborate with them. Simply said...these guys are talented so don't miss this opportunity.

Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Mariano discuss These Amazing Shadows distribution strategies.
We all piled out of the IFC/K-Swiss party at Jean Louis Restaurant and everyone (except me!) was handed a K-Swiss logo striped winter cap. After donning the caps Paul and Frazer transformed before our eyes into rowdy ruffians bent on besmirching the well crafted TAS public image (which was already damaged by my poor showing in the IFC/K-Swiss ping pong tournament...sorry everyone). After they realized that nobody was scared, intimidated or disturbed (well, maybe disturbed) by their gangster behavior we all retreated to our various cushy condos for some hot coco. What does it take to get the Park City police to take notice that some scary dudes are wearing stripy cozy winter caps.

Frazer Bradshaw, director of photography and co-director Paul Mariano.
George Willeman displays how a fashionable man wears a stripy cozy winter cap.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A day in the life at Sundance.

St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) plays at the ASCAP Music Cafe in Park City.
Kind of  crazy day - so I think it proper not to describe it in chronological order. Though I will start with weather - it was perfect. In the afternoon Doug Blush (co-editor) and I caught St. Vincent at the Music Cafe on Main Street in Park City. My word, she was great. At times she was a soft voiced pixie, then she was down on the floor ripping it up on her guitar like she was in the NYC punk scene in the 1980s. She appears to have these crazy long fingers that allows her to have a very unique guitar style. Please, please catch her as she tours around.

Paul Mariano and Doug Blush make their way to the
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City.

Our first stop of the day was a special high school screening of These Amazing Shadows at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City. There were about 450 kids from various high schools. Rather daunting audience. We were a bit skeptical they would get into TAS because so many of the films we focus on were created and released before they were born. How wrong we were. They were the most incredible audience. They clapped through the entire closing credits. During the show they would break out into applause when they saw a movie clip the liked, they asked great questions at the Q&A and one girl told us that our doc has changed her life because now she knows she wants to make movies as her life work. Crazy heavy stuff. 

Director Jennifer Phang at the HP Print Center in Park City.

Park City is such a small town and that means you run into people you know all the time. I stopped by the HP Print Center late in the day to pick-up some beautifully printed TAS posters. I was organizing the materials when I heard someone call my name and to my delight it was Jennifer Phang. She is a director who had her first feature screen at Sundance two years ago and she also appears in our doc. She told me about her next feature and how she is trying to figure out if it makes sense to shoot in Norway. Her story needs startling beautiful locations. She may, for budget considerations, opt to shoot in Canada. 

What to say about the above photo? Stopped by the New Frontier art/media installations. Lots of great stuff but I must go right to the most unusual and cool multi-media installation. The actor James Franco has done something that on the surface sounds quite strange but is wonderfully funny and wonderfully bizarre. Can I describe it and do it justice...probably not but here go into a room that has a old couch, a rug and some plastic plants. Projected on one wall is the first episode of the 1970s comedy Three's Company. James, with help from somebody, voices all the roles and even sings the opening credits theme song. He reads the script as written but in a deadpan voice - then sometimes in an emotionally exaggerated way that is out of place for the scene. He also throws in lines like, "Meanwhile, back at the Regal Beagle." The above shot shows the moment that Mrs. Roper (wife of the landlord who thinks Jack is gay - making it okay for him to share an apartment with Janet and Chrissy) figures out that Jack is not really gay because he gawks at the barmaids breasts. Hilarity ensues. The whole thing makes no sense but is quite fantastic.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mr. Redford and Ms. Rossellini - the pleasure of their company.

Paul chats with Isabella Rossellini at the Sundance Director's Brunch.

We've had a pretty fantastic time of it here in Park City. We've hobnobbed with accomplished filmmakers (Steve James, Morgan Neville, Robert Redford), had some wonderful screenings of our doc, received some great reviews and been generally fussed over. One special highlight was meeting Isabella Rossellini at the Director's Brunch. She is such an elegant, friendly and warm person. She talked with us about our documentary and shared some stories about her project (see link below). The perfect moment was punctuated with her beautiful two-handed handshake. What an intimate moment.

We were one of the few to get a moment with Robert Redford. The Director's Brunch was jammed. He stopped to speak with Peter Golub, our composer. Peter introduced us to Mr. Redford who said he knew of our film and had heard great things. We gave him one of our very popular buttons that say, "I Love the Movies!" (previously we had given one to Trevor Groth, head Sundance programmer who wore it all day).

Animals Distract Me by Isabella Rossellini:

Troubadours by Morgan Neville:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Exhausted, Tired and Pooped at Sundance.

We have only been here for 24 hours and I am already for a long, long, long nap. It's been really fun so far and the weather is spectacular. We are less than 24 hours till our first screening, but we haven't had a moment to really think about it. A lot of meetings and talking and walking and more talking...then more meetings. A few celebrity sightings (Terrance Howard, Melissa Leo) and encounters (Morgan Spurlock, Michael Rapaport). Everyone is very nice. We are going to hit a few parties tonight if we can stay awake. In the morning Paul and I will head out to the Sundance Institute to have brunch with Robert Redford. (Sorry, you're going to have to put up with a lot of name dropping.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

These Amazing Shadows Trailer!

Our brand new trailer was just posted to The New York Times website. It can be accessed at the following link:

The trailer was cut by Stephen Garrett of Kinetic Trailers in New York City. We think he did a great job. Particularly in his selection of movie clips and the way he used Peter Golub's music.

The trailer will be available Friday on this blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Filmmaker Interviews.

A screen grab of Christopher Nolan from our documentary, These Amazing Shadows
One of the most challenging aspects of our documentary was getting interviews with prominent filmmakers. The reality is that prominent people have worked long and hard to build their success. Why should they risk their reputation and precious time with a documentary produced by two guys with no discernible reputation. We had to develop strategies to overcome this reasonable attitude held by the multi-layer of people between us and the person we wanted to interview. Our main ally was persistence. And, the benefit of some small to large connections to people we know who have real connections in the film business.

The most interesting "celebrity get" was the director, Christopher Nolan. He is unquestionably one of the top directors in the world. We interviewed him about two weeks before the release of Inception. We had no idea his film would become the blockbuster of 2010. How did we "get" Mr. Nolan? Here is the surprisingly simple story. Our editor, Doug Blush, has a very cute daughter. She takes piano lessons from the same teacher as Christopher Nolan's daughter. A funny coincidence. During a recital Doug met Christopher and struck up a conversation about movies. Through this real, but a bit tenuous connection we relayed an interview request to him. To our delight he accepted.

Here is the interview scenario...Christopher is working night and day trying to finish his very, very complex film, Inception. He has a family. He has the mainstream media constantly knocking on his door. Literally thousands of interview requests. What does he do in the face of all of this? He makes time for our doc. Really amazing. He appeared for his interview on time (big thanks to his fantastic assistant, Stacey Kelly!!), coffee in hand, wearing his trademark vest/suit and looking a little tired, but ready. He was so nice and gracious. He focused on our questions, gave thoughtful answers and even flashed us his boyish smile several times. As you can imagine, to us, Mr. Nolan is quite the prince.

Here's rooting for Christopher to win the DGA award!

DGA Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sneak Peak at the These Amazing Shadows Poster

The Brian Oakes designed one-sheet for These Amazing Shadows.
Hype, hype, hype. Did you know that movies have what is called a "poster release?" The idea is to find reasons to keep your project in the news - so publicists send out a big press release announcing, "Hey, look at our poster!" Violating this time honored tradition we present to all you Sundance Blog readers a sneak peek. Yes, that's right - before the official Poster Release! Hope you feel very special. But, seriously, we are very proud of this Brian Oakes designed poster. Brian is one of the top graphic designers in the country. His work on the documentary, I.O.U.S.A., has been hailed/studied by designers across the country as an example of brilliant design that conveys dense information in an entertaining and digestible fashion. In addition to the poster design, Brian did all the graphics for our documentary. He is known on our team as the "Zen Master" for his calm approach to problem solving. Appropriately, he is the only member of the team that is not on the West Coast. I say that because to remain Zen one must separate themself from the chaos and noise of the world - or at least from the rest of your production team. The main way we communicate with Brian is via video chat. It is so much fun to watch Brian's face change as he goes inward to that private creative space inside his head to puzzle out a problem. Then he resurfaces with a grin and the simple phrase, "How about this..."

Time for another quiz. Can you identify the movies used in our poster? Click on the poster to increase its size. Please send your list of the 11 movies by 5:00 pm Wednesday, January 19th to
The first five correct entries will win a poster! Now we realize that this is a low resolution version and it may not be possible to identify the image at the center of the poster, therefore we will consider identifying 9 out of the 11 images as a correct entry. Good luck!

Brian Oakes Design:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Del Reisman dies at 86 years old.

Del Reisman at the Geffen Playhouse in 2009.
Del Reisman, a wonderful person, former President of the Writer's Guild of America/West and one of our interview subjects died last Saturday. Del was a very gentle man who lived the kind of life of which movies are made. He grew up in Hollywood, was a bombardier in World War II (saw a lot of action over Europe), and a writer and story editor in the formative stages of television including working with Rod Serling on The Twilight Zone. His writing credits include episodes for Magnum, p.i., Six Million Dollar Man, Little House on the Prairie, Charles Angels, Kung Fu and many others. He was a thoughtful person who helped a great many people through his work with the Writer's Guild and the American Film Institute. He was a long time member of the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board.

Del was gracious enough to consent to an interview for our documentary. He arrived early, very prepared and was generous with his time. Though we were of different eras we found a connection through discovering we were both graduates of the University of California at Berkeley. Paul and I liked him very and will miss him.

Article on Del in The Hollywood Reporter:

Monday, January 10, 2011

One of our favorite interviewees wins a People's Choice Award. Plus, how we got the Tim Roth interview and other exciting stories.

Screen grab from our doc of Tim Roth, star of the TV series, Lie to Me.
On the set of Lie to Me - (l to r) PA Travis Rexroat, co-director Paul Mariano and DP James Laxton.
Even down to earth people like Tim Roth get fussed over in Hollywood.
PA Travis Rexroat stands inside the glass enclosed interrogation room on the set of Lie to Me. is the scoop on how we got our interview with Tim Roth, 1996 Oscar nominee, star of Fox TVs series Lie to Me and winner of the 2011 People's Choice Award as "Favorite TV Crime Fighter." We were interested in interviewing indie film fav Steve Buscemi, but we were told by his agent he was unfortunately unavailable due to HBO's Boardwalk Empire. This wonderful agent then said, "You know, Tim Roth is great and he is interested in film preservation." We said, "We know he's great, but is he into film preservation? Really!?" She's like, "Yes!" We're like, "Fantastic!" She's like "Yeah!" (the exchange went something like that). Our interview of Tim took place on the very cool set of his TV show at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. He was a lot of fun, very friendly, down to earth and shockingly photogenic. As you can tell we really like this guy. He told great stories and indeed has sincere interest in film preservation. He even twittered about the interview. One of the great stories he told was when he was a teenager in England he wrote Francis Ford Coppola to tell him that he was "available and interested in working with him." Francis, busy with Apocalypse Now or something, did not respond. Tim, being quite determined, also wrote George Lucas with the same offer. No reply. Fast forward years later to 2006 and Tim is a successful actor working with Mr. Coppola on the film, Youth Without Youth. He tells Francis about the letter. A short time later to Tim's shock the famed director produces the letter! Evidently, Mr. Coppla keeps everything. I can just imagine the scene: Francis Ford Coppola turns to Tim Roth and says, "To my archives!"

We now propose the temporary suspension of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" to be replaced by our game "Four Degrees of Tim Roth."
1. Tim was nominated and won the 2011 People's Choice Award "Favorite TV Crime Fighter."
2. Also nominated in that category was Emily Deschanel of the TV show, Bones.
3. Emily Deschanel is the sister of Zooey Deschanel, one of our interview subjects.
4. Their father and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel is also one of our interview subjects. (Caleb is a member of the National Film Preservation Board).
Let's see Kevin Bacon top that!

Tim Roth IMDB:
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Our documentary has been bought by IFC for their new brand "Sundance Selects"

Logo for the new IFC brand, Sundance Selects.
We're really pleased to announce that our documentary was picked up by IFC under their new banner, "Sundance Selects." They picked out five feature films from the 2011 Sundance line-up to kick-off this new brand (ours is the only documentary!).  IFC will make These Amazing Shadows available via VOD beginning January 22 (the date of our World Premiere) for 30 days. It will be available in approximately 40 million homes on most major cable systems including Bright House, Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, and Time Warner Cable. After the 30 day VOD run our doc will be pulled to allow us a festival and theatrical window. After this "window" is over there will be a television broadcast, VOD and DVD release.

We've worked on this project for two years and often wondered if anyone would care about the story we were trying to tell. So, as you can imagine this IFC sale is kind of encouraging.

It's been quite the adventure to get all our paper work ducks in a row to satisfy the IFC delivery requirements. It is a totally accelerated process. Issues that normally take 60 days to complete are being done in 10. Paul and I tend to be a little cavalier about business type things so thank goodness our producer, Christine O'Malley, and the rest of the production team (much love to Alex Calleros, Larry Ellis, Matt Radecki, Scott Johnson) are serious minded-detailed oriented-deadline prone people.

Maybe the coolest thing to come out of the IFC deal is that they are about to complete a trailer for our show. It a total gas to see the take a trailer editor from NYC has on our story. The trailer will be available next week so keep tuned to this blog.

We live in a world of specialization. In the movie business if you want a trailer, you don't just go out and get any old editor - you get a trailer editor. There are entire businesses dedicated to this specialized art. Take a look at the house that is cutting our trailer:

You can read more about Sundance Selects and our docs involvement at Movie City News:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our new end credits...can you identify the movie posters we use???

You are getting a sneak preview of our closing credits. We are taking the unique marketing ploy of releasing our film in reverse. We're really proud of the music by Peter Golub and graphics by Brian Oakes.

We've had a heck of a time with these credits because just when we thought we had everything right someone would spot a typo. We would correct it, re-do all the graphics, feel great...then spot another typo. I do not want to tell you how many times this happened! If you spot a typo DO NOT TELL US! We want to live in our fantasy world that these credits are correct and finished.

Paul and I can't understand why Brian selected a movie poster for our "directed by" credit card that shows a man and woman (ya know...since Paul and I are both guys). Personally, I wanted our poster to be from the movie, Shaft, but Brian gave it to our director of photography Frazer Bradshaw. And, please notice that Brian gave himself Star Wars. to get our revenge against Brian.

Here is a quiz that could win you a valuable prize. Name in order the movie posters we use in the end credits. Send your list to:
Deadline is 5:00 pm PST Wednesday, January 12. The prize will be a These Amazing Shadows related semi-cool collectible. Possibly a Christine O'Malley or Doug Blush bobble-head doll.

Please don't re-purpose this video without our permission because it is copyright 2011 gravitas docufilms.