May 10th, 2013 · Panel
The Art of Documentary Editing: Case Studies
Presented by the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship
Notes by Beth Balaban
Photography by Nellie Kluz
L-R: Garret Savage, Pola Rapaport, Francisco Bello
Panel Moderator: Garret Savage
Panelists: Francisco Bello, Editor, Our Nixon and Best Kept Secret
Pola Rapaport, Editor, Here One Day
The Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship was founded to recognize, discuss and promote the contributions of documentary editors. The year-long experience honors the memory of Karen Schmeer, a talented, young editor who launched her career by successfully crafting what Errol Morris called an “uneditable” film – Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (1997). She went on to work with Morris and other directors on a large number of feature docs before her life was tragically ended by a hit-and-run driver in 2010.
Garret Savage is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. His documentary editing work includes the features My Perestroika (Sundance 2010), Ready, Set, Bag! (LA Film Festival 2008), and the HBO series How Democracy Works Now. He was a 2009 Sundance Documentary Editing and Storytelling Lab Fellow.
Francisco Bello is an ACADEMY AWARD® and three time EMMY Nominee. He produced and edited War Don Don which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, and for which he was awarded the first Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing. He edited two films that premiered in 2013 Best Kept Secret (2013 IFFBoston Audience Award Winner) and Our Nixon (2013 Rotterdam, SXSW).
Pola Rapaport is an independent filmmaker, editor and sound editor EMMY Nominee. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a fellow of the NY Foundation for the Arts. Her work includes Subway: The Musical (work-in-progress), Hair: Let the Sun Shine In, a celebration of the musical Hair (2007), Writer of O (Grand Prix Urti/ 2005), and Family Secret (Grand Prix SCAM, France/ 2000). She also edited the award-winning Grace Paley: Collected Shorts, Auf Wiedersehen and Fine Rain. [Read more →]
Tags:Adam Roffman·Beth Balaban·Documentary Editing·Francisco Bello·Garret Savage·Here One Day·IFFBoston·Karen Schmeer·Nellie Kluz·Our Nixon·Pola Rapaport
April 2nd, 2013 · Q&A
White Reindeer Premiere Q&A @ SXSW Film Festival
4:15 PM, Alamo Ritz Theater
Cast & Crew of White Reindeer
Chad Hartigan, Director, This Is Martin Bonner
Zach Clark, Director, White Reindeer
Anna Margaret Hollyman, Actress, White Reindeer
White Reindeer tells the story of Real Estate agent Suzanne (Anna Margaret Hollyman), who seems to have everything going for her. Her weatherman husband Jeff (Nathan Williams), has landed a plum job that would have them relocating to Hawaii. Unfortunately, just a few days later, Suzanne comes home to find him dead. At the funeral, a close friend of Jeff’s reveals to Suzanne that Jeff had an affair with a stripper named Autumn (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough) during the last year of his life. Suzanne seeks Autumn out at her job, and they wind up forming an unlikely friendship that leads to a period of self-exploration for Suzanne.
At the outset of the Q&A, Chad Hartigan–who attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (then called North Carolina School of the Arts) with Clark, revealed that this Clark’s senior year film also had a Christmas theme to it. This served as a Springboard for Clark to explain that Christmastime has served as the backdrop of some of his saddest memories. He thought it was important to capture some of the weirdness that sometimes surrounds the holiday season.
“When I was 12 years old, I had Christmas at my grandparents’ house. My parents were helping my grandmother cook in the kitchen. My brother and sister and I were sitting on the couch in my Grandpa’s library. He was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and starting to lose his mind. We were kind of just hanging out, and he starts talking about how everyone is out to get him, and that people were stealing from him, and he started weeping. My sister and I–I’m the oldest–were sort of sitting there on the couch, and I was wearing a sweater I’d just opened. He was like (Clark makes a noise). [This happened] right exactly at the time “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” started to play. That’s the sadness I wanted to show.”
Clark introduced the cast and crew onstage. Hartigan asked his own question, then opened the questions up to the audience.
Hartigan: How did you and Anna Margaret get together?
Clark: I met you (Anna Margaret) at Anthology, and we talked a little before a screening Gabi on the Roof in July. I knew you were an actress, and I remember talking to you, and thinking, “She is the right type [for the role].” She was like the right (makes a knocking sound) tall.
Hartigan: Were you casting at that point?
Clark: We were actively casting at that point. And you (Anna Margaret) told a friend of ours [words not audible here].
Q: I noticed [the movie] was Kickstarter backed, and I would just like to hear a little about how that happened.
Clark: I wrote the movie to be more expensive than we ended up making it for. I tried to go through the traditional funding channels for about a year to try and fund a large amount of money to get it made. It just wasn’t happening, apparently. Hard “R” Christmas movies aren’t super profitable. It was August, and a lot of money hadn’t materialized, and December was coming up fast. When you’re making a Christmas movie, you should shoot it December, because production design is free.
Basically I asked myself, “Do I want to keep trying to do it for the larger amount of money and find myself in the exact same position next year? Because it’s hard to really know when you’re trying to find a lot of money when it’s going to come, or do I want to just pull the trigger, raise the money through Kickstarter, and shoot this December? That’s what we ended up doing.
There’s a 60-day limit at Kickstarter. We wouldn’t have made the movie without it [because] we wouldn’t have had production funds. We either got the money, or didn’t. It was a really awful emotional experience. Everyday, I had to come to terms with the countdown. Some days, it would be like, “Yeah, we’re going to make it!”, and other days, it was like, “It’s never going to happen.” But we did it.
Q: I really like the part where the drugs were happening. Who came up with the decision to [words not audible]. I really like that, and I think that’s playful.
Clark: The last movie I made was a beach party movie. And in that movie, there was a ten minute acid freakout scene. I used similar things, they were different colors, and they were in there, sort of disorientedly used during that sequence. They weren’t written into the script or anything. When I was putting the sequences together, I knew that when they were doing the cocaine, I knew that needed a little, you know, every time she did it, and I decided it to be in sort of her thing. It turned out perfect.
Hartigan: What would your dream Christmas Feature be?
Clark: All That Heaven Allows is maybe my favorite Christmas movie, even though it’s not entirely about Christmas. But the parts that are about Christmas are the most similar to this (movie), like the installing of the TV. It had some things that I wanted to try and get at.
The only time I’ve done this, and this was actually helpful, if anyone wants to try it, I watched All That Heaven Allows all the way through, then I made a shot list for it. I wrote down every single shot, and I had to keep track of when they were returning to a shot. It really helped me see how that was constructed and put together, because I wanted to live in the spirit of that movie.
WHITE REINDEER (2013) Trailer from Zach Clark on Vimeo.
Q: Tell me about the Bellican Beer. Why did you pick that?
Clark: You’re pointing out something I have no idea about. (Audience laughs.)
Q: This question is for both Zach and Anna Margaret. Can you guys just talk about working with each other? Zach, what did Anna Margaret bring to the script? Anna Margaret, how did Zach help you as a writer and director on the film?
Clark: Anna Margaret brought everything. (Audience laughs.) It’s true! The script is just words on paper, and you get a human being to turn it into something real and relatable. And she did that. We had a lot of dinners, I showed her some movies. I showed her All That Heaven Allows. The biggest thing that I wanted to go for is that I wanted the movie to be playful and totally crazy, and totally sincere.
Hollyman: He gave me a bunch of movies to watch. We watched [All That Heaven Allows], and it’s such a crazy film. People think Douglas Sirk [words not audible]. Color scheme-wise, totally the way the shoot it, is crazy. I had a good time, and I really, really admired Zach’s work from Vacation and Modern Love, which Melodie (Sisk, the film’s producer) is in, as well as Maggie, who plays the cash register lady at the end.
It’s very rare to find a director who wants to work with his own female ensemble cast essentially. He writes characters that are kinda dizzy, kinda scrappy, and absurd. The reason we watched a David Lynch film, or a John Waters film, or anything else, is that you can kind of co-exist with the film. You’re crying, you’re laughing, you’re depressed, and you’re like “This is sooooo funny!” I felt down to play every woman’s secret [word not audible], and it’s like, “Oh, come here!”, something that we’ve all felt and haven’t seen before. [This extends] to the stripper, who was free enough to do that, which is rare. (To Zach) Thank you for making this film.
Tags:All That Heaven Allows·Anna Margaret Hollyman·Chad Hartigan·Douglas Sirk·Joe Swanberg·Kickstarter·SXSW·SXSW 2013·White Reindeer·Zach Clark
March 29th, 2013 · Panel
Break It Down: Harmony Korine & His Spring Breakers
L-R: Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Harmony Korine, and Eric Kohn.
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Harmony Korine, Director, Spring Breakers
Ashley Benson, Actress, Spring Breakers
Selena Gomez, Actress, Spring Breakers
Rachel Korine, Actress, Spring Breakers
One day toward the end of my senior year of high school, trying to fight off senioritis and kill some time, I read Owen Gleiberman’s review of Mike Figgis’ The Loss of Sexual Innocence in Study Hall. One particular quote stuck out and resonated with me:
Has everyone sold out? Thank heaven, no. Every so often, though, you run across an ironic specimen of overcharged integrity. I’m speaking of the person who hasn’t sold out but, in fact, should — the filmmaker, for instance, who cleaves to his Uncompromising Vision like a dog who’s bitten into a bone you can’t pry from his teeth. For me, Woody Allen would top the roster. At this point, if he suddenly agreed to direct, say, Armageddon 2: Hellfire on Earth, there’s every chance that it would be a fresher movie than his latest cranky Upper East Side neurotathon. Two other somber auteurs I’d happily consign to the integrity-overdose list are Mike Figgis, who took a break from his usual longueurs with Leaving Las Vegas and is now back to overinflated form with the lustrously shot, dazzlingly pretentious The Loss of Sexual Innocence, and John Sayles, whose latest plodding fanfare for the common man is Limbo. Quick, will someone please stop these two before they commit creativity again?
The quote still resonates, and I think Gleiberman has a point that certain directors might benefit from leaving their comfort zone once in awhile. With Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine sells out in the best possible way. Before Spring Breakers, the name “Harmony Korine” probably didn’t come to mind. In fact, when I was in high school, the delinquent skateboarders of Kids and the cat murderers of Gummo were about as far removed from the vacuous Spring Break culture of Spring Breakers, and for this high school student, that’s what made him so cool.
But it was the bacchanalia of Spring Break and it’s darker side that drew Korine to create Spring Breakers. With Spring Breakers, Korine manages to take Girls Gone Wild, MTV’s Spring Break, Skrillex (who scored the film, and whose song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” played on a loop before the panel), Britney Spears (Britney’s song “Everytime” gets played on a grand piano by James Franco, and the girls do a rendition of “Baby One More Time”), twerking, Dirty South, and Crunk, and subverts expectations by showing the bleaker undertow of contemporary youth culture. Even what appears to be the stunt casting of Disney Channel starlets Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez are part of the whole, rather than a mere selling point. The only things that could’ve made this more “pop” were the presence of Bieber and Miley (though some people don’t necessarily think that Miley’s lack of presence is a bad thing). Korine concieved the film with the idea that “I wanted the film in a lot of ways to be like pop music, with choruses, mantras, and things that would come back and get in your ear.”
[Read more →]
Tags:A Bundle A Minute·Ashley Benson·Britney Spears·Eric Kohn·Gummo·Harmony Korine·James Franco·Kids·Owen Gleiberman·Pretty Little Liars·Rachel Korine·Selena Gomez·Skrillex·Spring Break·Spring Breakers·SXSW·SXSW 2013
Sustaining a Career in Indie Film
L-R: Bryan Poyser, Kat Candler, Craig Zobel
Bryan Poyser, Director, The Bounceback
Megan Gilbride, Producer, The Bounceback
Kat Candler, Director, Black Metal
Craig Zobel, Director, Compliance
It’s hard for me to believe that it will be ten years in May since I graduated from college. My goals, I have moved along in my career have adjusted and evolved as I’ve gotten older and have had more experience. Way back when, I was informed you either “made it”, or didn’t. That Hollywood was the premiere destination for those who wanted to “make it”. I was in my early twenties and my tastes in film were evolving…Hollywood hadn’t. People who I showed my scripts to were not interested in taking my projects on. One reader who worked at a Universal Production shingle suggested I go high-concept or die.
During that period, I read a book by Lance Olsen titled Rebel Yell that introduced the concept of having a writing career without waiting for a jackpot to arrive. I think I secretly wished that a similar guide to film had been written. I made a documentary that didn’t really go anywhere, or didn’t go as far as I would’ve liked it to go.
Then one day, I logged into Netflix, and a movie popped up on my list of recommendations. It read, “If you like Slacker and Stranger Than Paradise, you’ll like Mutual Appreciation. It was directed by Andrew Bujalski, a 29-year-old substitute teacher from Boston. My thought after seeing the movie, and then watching the trailer in the extras section and seeing the number of festivals it had been to was, “People still make movies like this?”
Perhaps the resources didn’t exist then, but I think I would’ve appreciated seeing this panel while I was still in college. Actually, I think seeing a panel like this in college would’ve saved me a ton of grief.
[Read more →]
Tags:Bryan Poyser·Craig Zobel·Day Job·Directing·IFP Lab·Kat Candler·Megan Gilbride·Scott Frank·Sundance Screenwriters Lab·SXSW·SXSW 2013·Teaching·The Bounceback·University of Texas at Austin
One-on-Three interview with J-P Passi, Sami Helle, and Toni Välitalo: The Punk Syndrome – Winner, SXGlobal Audience Award
Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day
J-P Passi, co-director, The Punk Syndrome
Sami Helle, bassist, Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day
Toni Välitalo, drummer, Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day
by Erin Scherer
Erin: My first question is for J-P. What compelled you to make a movie about this band?
J-P Passi: The anarchy of the guys. We have two directors, and the other one saw them on TV on a news program. It was a news flash on the band, who were still in the very early stages of their career.
Sami Helle: Four years ago.
J-P Passi:He told me about the band and asked if I would be interested.
[Read more →]
Tags:Finland·J-P Passi·Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät·Pertti Kurikka's Name Day·Punk Rock·Sami Helle·SXSW 2013·The Punk Syndrome·Toni Välitalo·Wesley Willis
March 21st, 2013 · Panel
Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop
March 10, @ 1:30pm, Vimeo Theater, Austin Convention Center
Jeffrey Tambor, Actor
Lindsay Burdge, Actress, A Teacher
Michael Stahl-David, Actor, The Bounceback
Each year, Jeffrey Tambor gives an acting workshop at SXSW that over the years has proven to be one of the most popular panels at the festival. Popular enough that Tambor has taken this act on the road, incorporating civilians into his routine on tour. I previously covered this workshop in 2008, when he used Greta Gerwig and Kent Osbourne as his guinea pigs. This year, the guinea pigs were Linsday Burdge, star of A Teacher, and Michael Stahl-David, star of The Bounceback, both playing at SXSW.
Lindsay Burdge resides in Brooklyn. While she has been acting her whole life, she has only been doing it as a full-time profession for the last two years. Michael Stahl-David, a Chicago native, currently lives in Los Angeles and has been acting for fifteen years. His goal as an actor is to aim for spontaneity.
Jeffrey Tambor trained at San Francisco State University under the tutelage of Milton Casellas. The first note Casellas ever gave to Tambor was, “‘You’re a good boy, you’re a director’s dream. You need to not be a good boy.’ Best advice I’ve ever gotten.” Later, he trained with Jessica Walter (with whom he’d later appear with on Arrested Development) and Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction). He paid his dues doing regional theater. “I went around for 12 to 15 years doing every regional theater in this country. Louisville, San Diego, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Guthrie.” These days, Tambor doesn’t “like the business much anymore, but I love from ‘Action!’ to ‘Cut!’”
[Read more →]
Tags:Acting·Acting Workshop·Betrayal·Harold Pinter·Jeffrey Tambor·Lindsay Burdge·Michael Stahl-David·SXSW·SXSW 2013
February 15th, 2013 · Panel
New York Film/Video Council Microcinema Summit at UnionDocs
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Presented by Jon Dieringer and Rebecca Cleman of NYF/VC
Notes by Amy J. Boyd
Last month, friends gathered into a packed house sipping coffee, beer and tea in the downstairs screening room at UnionDocs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to join in a conversation about microcinemas. The panel consisted of programmers and curators from five local (mostly Brooklyn) cinemas and galleries, which show a wide range of repertory films, contemporary documentaries, video shorts and art pieces. [Read more →]
Tags:Brooklyn·Light Industry·Maysles Cinema·microcinemas·Microscope Gallery·NYF/VC·Spectacle·UnionDocs
January 10th, 2013 · Awards
By Liz Nord / Twitter @lizfilm
On the eve of Academy Awards announcements, the documentary community was out in full force celebrating its own at the 6th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. And what a community it was! From notable presenters such as Michael Moore, to delighted winners like Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia), the word “supportive” was thrown around with gusto throughout the evening.
This spirit of community was embodied by Esther Robinson, the evening’s charming hostess and Cinema Eye co-chair. Not only did Robinson show off a photo of her newly adopted baby to the entire assemblage (would that ever happen at the Oscars?), but she also gave quite a pep talk to the crowd, which included many notable filmmakers. “Everyone in this room is doing something spectacular,” Robinson remarked, “We get up every day and we make something from nothing. It has meaning, it’s important, and it changes the world.”
The love and encouragement continued, pouring out of the mouths of up-and-comers and veterans alike. New filmmaker Jason Tippet accepted his award for Only the Young by expressing that, “It feels nice to be accepted into a community like this, and meet people whose films you’re obsessed with.” Tippet was honored with co-director Elizabeth Mims for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film. [Read more →]
Tags:5 Broken Cameras·Cinema Eye Honors·Detropia·Documentaries·Michael Moore·Only The Young
The Fifth Annual Finger Lakes Film Festival
Friday, November 16th, 2012 @ 8pm
The Cracker Factory, Geneva, New York
Kevin Dunn, Co-Founder & Publisher, Geneva 13
Michelle Eades, Zotos the Store, Geneva, New York
By Erin Scherer
In the past five years, the city of Geneva, New York, has emerged from decades of post-industrial limbo and embraced its status as a college town. Establishments like The Red Dove Tavern, Opus, Joe’s Hots (which was the subject of a documentary in this year’s festival), Finger Lakes Gifts & Lounge, Stomping Grounds, and Microclimate have reanimated a previously soporific (and sometimes ominous) downtown. Many of the owners of these establishments are not lifelong residents, but outsiders who have ended up in Geneva for one reason or another. Others grew up in Geneva and/or the surrounding areas, moved away, and then returned to take advantage of the wide open spaces and low property value. They are passionate about the natural beauty of the area and the opportunities Geneva represents.
On the more arts end of this development is Headless Sullivan, an alternative/experimental theater group; Geneva 13, a ‘zine devoted to documenting the peculiarities of the city; The Cracker Factory, an arts space that exhibits the work of artists and hosts the Finger Lakes Film Festival, an annual showcase of short films held every November. While not particularly oriented toward the independent film community, the Finger Lakes Film Festival is perhaps the only film event in Western New York that not only acknowledges but cultivates a DIY Film Culture. Like a lot of people involved with the exhibition of independent film these days, the organizers of the Finger Lakes Film Festival are motivated by nothing except a passion for showcasing locally-oriented short films.
[Read more →]
Tags:Christar Kei Yan Wan·Finger Lakes Film Festival·Geneva 13·Geneva New York·Kevin Dunn·Matias Shimada·Max Messie·Michelle Eades·Miles & May·Noah Pitifer·Raymond McCarthy-Bergeron·The Cracker Factory
In Conversation with James Franco
October 19, 2012
Notes by Erin Essenmacher
I fell in love with Austin when I first came down in 2009 for SXSW with my film MINE. So when my friend Richard Alvarez told me he was going to head down to the Austin Film Festival because his script made it into the scriptwritng competition, I jumped at the chance to come back. I had no idea that I was in store for such a treat. AFF has a reputation for being a real writer’s festival and that’s true enough, but what I’ve also found is a hidden gem — one of the best-run fests I’ve been to, filled with really smart, down-to-earth creative souls and plenty of star power – specifically the kind who really appreciate the craft and are happy the spend a couple of days hanging out with other filmmakers talking shop. And that’s exactly what I found when I went to hear a conversation with the actor James Franco– no pretention and no BS. He was in town in part to promote Francophrenia, a thriller that Franco directed based on his time on General Hospital (that’s a whoooole other post). He stayed to talk talk shop and even stayed after to take pictures, hang out with audience and sign autographs. Here’s a sampling of the conversation: [Read more →]
Tags:Austin·Austin Film Festival·Danny Boyle·Freaks and Geeks·Harmony Korine·James Franco·Paul Thomas Anderson·Spring Breakers·The Master