Intake for 3/18-28

Rear Window (1954)

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Ida (2013)

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Lately I've been tied up with prep, production and wrap for a new music video for Daniel Markham. We shot overnight for 2 nights last week and I should have plenty of beautiful footage to work with. Production overall wasn't as smooth as I had hoped, but on the bright side, all of the issues were things I could have avoided had I been better prepared and made a few more educated choices. So there were plenty of lessons to be learned. Tomorrow I start on post and I'm anxious to get to work. Keep your eyes peeled because the video should drop on April 8th (thats is, if all goes well).

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful video essay on what makes Lynn Ramsey's body of work worth your time.

As always SXSW was both overwhelming and a blast. The first night I caught the premiere of 1985 with the Texas Shorts and I'm so proud to be part of a film this beautiful and moving. Lindsay Pulsipher took home a well deserved special jury prize for her performance. In fact (and I say this as the production designer, meaning I had absolutely nothing to do with the acting) I felt that the performances were what really set 1985 apart from the other films. Lindsay and Robby were brilliant and totally devastating.

Day 1. The next morning I caught Little Sister, Zack Clark's new film, which was great. Then I saw Shorts 2 -  my standouts were Homeful Bliss, Ernestine & Kit, and Victor. Later that night I saw Ti West's new western In A Valley of Violence which was a return to form (I'm admittedly not a Sacrament fan) and probably the most fun I had throughout the festival.  

Day 2. I started with Shorts 1 - another super strong block with no glaring weak links - my standouts were Homebodies, How Was Your Day?, and Thunder Road. Next I went to a very amusing and illuminating discussion with David Lowery and Andrew Bujalski. Then later I saw the premiere of Collective:Unconscious, which was terrific. All of the shorts were so different, yet they all felt part of a hypnotic whole. I was partial to the segment with Frank Mosley by Daniel Carbone, it had breathtaking black and white imagery and was a short film that I felt was strong enough on it's own to play any festival on the planet. I'm also prepping a project in black and white, so I couldn't help being drawn to its visual style. The last film I saw was Transpecos - an Austin produced border thriller that was OK. The director seemed incredibly humble but the script had some problems for me and I couldn't stand the lead actor.

Unfortunately that was it for me this year. My grandfather passed away recently and I needed to take time off for a short trip to Louisiana. This along with other factors meant that I had to return home early to get back to prep for this music video next week. It's alright because I came away inspired and focused which is always my post SXSW goal. Mostly, I was reminded of something I feel I had lost sight of lately - stay true to yourself. Make films out of whatever you are drawn to and don't chase an audience because you can't please everyone and you'll drive yourself mad trying to.

David Lynch puts it this way "You've got to be the audience for most of this trip (making a film). You can't second guess them. If you did, you'd be removing yourself from yourself. Then you'd be out there in really dangerous territory, trying to build something for some abstract group that's always changing. I think you'd fail. You've got to do it from the inside first and hope for the best."


Intake for 3/15-17

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

The Roaring Twenties (1939)

The Killers (1946)

The Witch (2016)


Castor, LA / March 2016

Castor, LA / March 2016

Intake for 3/6-10

Road Games (2016)

I was drooling when I heard about this thriller starring Josephine De La Baume.  That said, I thought it was a bit disappointing.  She was terrific but everything else felt rather flimsy. You should probably just watch the Road Games with Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis instead. 

Mulholland Drive (2001)

The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant (1972)

So excited for SXSW which starts tomorrow and goes into next week. 1985, Yen's new short that I designed is playing. It was shot on film and I still haven't seen it, so it's my most anticipated film by default. Of course, there's also lots of wonderful people in town and plenty more potentially great movies to look forward to.

I'm almost done prepping a new music video for Daniel Markham. We shoot the week following SX and it feels so good to be going into production again. It has been way too long since I've directed anything. Expect a swift post with an online release in early April.


Intake for 3/4-5

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Magical visual poetry that "deals, as all fairy-tales do, with what we dread and desire." Trick shots galore and marvelous practical effects. I've been meaning to see this for years and am so glad I was able to do so on the big screen. "It's devices penetrate the usual conventions of narrative and appeal at a deeper psychic level. Cocteau wanted to make a poem, wanted to appeal through images rather than words, and although the story takes the form of a familiar fable, its surface seems to be masking deeper and more disturbing currents. Brighter and more curious children will be able to enjoy it very much, I suspect, although if they return as adults, they may be amazed by how much more is there." - Roger Ebert 


Intake for 3/2

Blue Velvet (1986)

I'll never get tired of this movie. So many things worthy of a closer look: the sound design & score, the editing, the colors, the camera movement and position, the light, the characteristics of the lenses, the sets, Kyle MacLachlan's ear ring... I could go on forever. One of my all time favorites.

From Pauline Kael's New Yorker review:

"It's the slightly disjunctive quality of Lynch's scenes (and the fact that we don't question them, because they don't feel arbitrary to us) that makes the movie so hypnotic -- that, and the slow, assured sensuousness of his editing rhythms. This is possibly the only coming-of-age movie in which sex has the danger and heightened excitement of a horror picture. It's the fantasy (rather than the plot) that's organic, and there's no sticky-sweet lost innocence, because darkness was always there, inside."

Intake for 2/28-29

Prometheus (2012)

The script has some monstrous plot holes and some shamelessly convenient speeches and scenes, but the film does have it's moments that make it worth seeing. 

Dead of Winter (1987)

Another imperfect movie that has some great things going for it. Like most films of it's kind, it was at it's best when toying with the audience and mounting intrigue and suspicion. However, once the secrets begin to surface the tension goes out the window and it loses it's grip. I did think the last shot before the credits roll was wonderful and I will probably steal it one day.

"The Music of the Moon" by Thomas Ligotti

Intake for 2/24-27

The Witch (2016)

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012)

LORE (podcast)

Finally saw The Witch after over a year of anticipation and I was not disappointed. My favorite film of 2016 and I can't imagine anything surpassing it; just incredible and inspiring in so many ways. I would have seen it again already if I hadn't left the following morning for a short tour with Siamese and Jacob Metcalf. Here's some photos I took along the way.


Little Rock, AR


Cabot, AR


I-40, Arkansas


Memphis, TN

Yesterday was my first day back in town and I hit the ground running with a photo shoot for my wife's band Siamese. I was handling lighting and it was a pleasure working with the wonderfully talented Rambo. Please check out her photography if you haven't already.

Yen's latest short, 1985, which I production designed, just got into SXSW. I still haven't seen it, and there were these beautiful moments on set that I knew would be special, so I can't wait to see how it all came together. 

Intake for 2/5-1/10

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Sometimes I watch movies on the road that I would never, in a million years, consider at home. This certainly falls under that category. I won't go into it, but what a lazy and unnecessary sequel. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Not the best, or the worst super hero movie, though, it did lull me to sleep on the plane.

Paris, Texas (1984)

Harry Dean Stanton as a leading man, in a story by Sam Shepherd and Wim Wenders, with photography by Robby Muller, and Claire Denis was the AD. Production began with only half a script and Wim Wenders finished the second half midway through the shoot after Shepherd had left for another project. I've had the bluray for months and regret waiting so long because it looks incredible. 

This morning I awoke from a dream where I was investigating the disappearance of a missing child, and somehow Eisenhower, poppies, and time travel were involved. As I tried to recall the details, I suddenly remembered that I'd (finally) seen The Revenant last night and immediately lost interest in dream analysis.

What an incredible experience. Aside from the obligatory, Highland Park, elderly couple who wouldn't stop talking behind me, the only other unfortunate occurrence that managed to take me out of the movie, was that I could not stop marveling at how much everything must have cost -- the rigs for complex shots, the actors, the art, the vfx, etc. Horrible, I know, but I couldn't help it.

I'm still digesting it all, but I walked out of the theater totally stunned.

In a couple of hours I'll be catching a flight to Austin and then heading to LA on Sunday for a few days work. Tuesday and Wednesday were supposed to be major breakthrough days for me, but I encountered some creative roadblocks (an admitted lack of inspiration) that have been plaguing me lately.

Over breakfast I had a breakthrough on the project that's been troubling me, but it needs to be taken much further before I'll know if it's worthwhile, and right now I need to pack. I hope to, no, I will come back from this trip with more focus and intensity to push through and get things moving.