There’s something in the kitchen, you wake up in the middle of the night, you hear something stirring, in your kitchen you see five burglars, uninvited guests, how they got in you don’t know, through the window, through the door, through the basement you don’t know. One of them comes swinging wildly at you, so you better deal with that one first.

— Herzog on writing, from his Masterclass

Joe Swanberg’s Keynote at SXSW on his indie film career and financing his films

I enjoyed this one just as much as the one with Mark Duplass. I really love Joe’s films and while I don’t necessarily work in his style or want to make similar films, I’ve learned a lot from his DIY career approach and the way that he’s making a living as  a filmmaker without giving up creative control.

Wide-angle close ups and the Coen brothers

I’ve watched this EFIAP about eight times now. I watched it about a week before production on The Deadline started and I sent it to Nick the DP and he was like “oh man, I just watched that too!” So we ended up stealing the idea of going wide in close-ups and I’m really happy with the way it came out. You really feel like you’re there with the actors.

When I watch the scene in Tony’s video where the camera changes angles on Roger Deakins, I can actually feel an emotional difference–it’s subtle and probably most people can’t tell, but I think it’s meaningful.

I also like the way they shoot from “inside the space” between the two characters. Personally I don’t like dirty close ups because they take me out of the moment. There’s something ‘off’ about a character talking while we’re looking at the back of their head, and it always takes me out of the moment.

Here’s the video:

And here are some stills from the film. They haven’t been colored yet, but you feel like you’re right there with them. At least I do!Hannah's Import Sync.00_13_01_14.Still008 Hannah's Import Sync.02_34_04_13.Still029 Robert's Import Sync.00_53_03_22.Still015 Hannah's Import Sync.01_10_01_09.Still015


I love this scene from A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Existence

We are creative because everything isn’t okay (yet)

You don’t get creative once everything is okay. In fact, we are creative because everything isn’t okay (yet).

Centered and complete (Seth Godin)

Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party

One of my favorites from CIFF, by Chicago director Stephen Cone.

Computer Show

This series is so damn funny. Starring Rob Baedeker of the extremely awesome Kaspar Hauser sketch group (seriously, go find their podcast in iTunes and listen to Mundo de Perros! and Spicy Pony Head).

Only people who don’t give a damn have style

Canseco has been described as a charmer and a clown, but in fact he is a rogue, a genuine one, and genuine rogues are rare, inside baseball and out. It’s not enough to flout the law, to be a rogue–break promises, shirk responsibilities, cheat–you must also, at least some of the time, and with the same abandon, do your best, play by the rules, keep faith with your creditors and dependents, obey orders, throw out the runner at home plate with a dead strike from deep right field. Above all, you must do these things, as you do their opposites, for no particular reason, because you feel like it or do not, because nothing matters, and everything’s a joke, and nobody knows anything, and most of all, as Rhett Butler once codified for rogues everywhere, because you do not give a damn

…and this…

We have no style, you and I; only people who don’t give a damn have style.

– “On Canseco” from Manhood For Amateurs by Michael Chabon

Really enjoyed this book. And Canseco would’ve made a good Godard character.

Why I made a web series and not… something else

I’d be lying if I said that I’m a huge fan of web series. I’m not. I’m a huge fan of some web series, but I don’t seek out or watch web series in the way I seek out and watch good TV shows of films.1

So that might be a little rule breaking. Novelists should read a lot of novels and filmmakers should watch a lot of films, right? I don’t personally know anyone that watches a lot of web series. And Words Fail Me was more of a series of short films than a serialized story, for whatever that’s worth.

But I had a few reasons for making a web series, as opposed to a short film or a feature film.

One reason is that I eventually want to make a feature film.2 I had a lot of the artistic tools necessary for writing and directing feature film, but I was lacking in production experience. In fact, this was the first thing I ever directed, aside from a few improv shows, which is a fundamentally different kind of directing (usually called coaching).

I had read a lot of blogs and several books on film production and I had been on many sets as an actor in friends’ projects, student films, and one professional set of a commercial. So I had some familiarity with the process but the best way to learn any craft is to just fucking do it and make mistakes and learn from the mistakes.

I wanted to experience the filmmaking process from start to finish, but on a smaller scale, and this was a great way to do that. You get more or less the same learning with much smaller financial and time risk. A smaller project meant I could fail faster. You get all the experiences of a bigger project, things that you might not run up against when filming a short—trying to schedule multiple locations and multiple actors and a crew, feeding everyone, and a release plan that’s pretty low-budget but still involves a fair amount of planning.

The upside is that you uncover areas of risk without putting a lot of money on the line. There are a lot of things that, when they go wrong, can ruin any filmed project, but there are also a lot of things that can go wrong without ruining the project. The goal was to identify the former, which I call fatal risks, because those are the ones you want to insure against, prevent, and avoid.

Here’s another reason, which is more more existential than practical. I had been wanting to do more video work for a while, since mid-2013 and after about a year of saying to myself and my friends that I wanted to do more of it, I finally got sick of myself talking about it and decided to just shoot something.

“Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”
–William Blake

I read that quote in a great little book that I read a long time ago, called If You Want to Write.

I try to be careful about sitting around wanting to do something for too long without doing it—the risk is that I create a sort of inertia for myself. I don’t want to be in the habit of not doing what I want to do. So after I can sense the inertia building up for a bit too long, there’s like this internal pressure for me to either drop it entirely and forget about it or to just fucking do it already.

And finally, I wanted to make something that I was proud of. I wanted to look back at what we created and have it stand as something that I’d be happy to let anyone see as a sample of my work. And more personally, I wanted to be able to watch the episodes and laugh. I definitely accomplished this goal. In fact, I accomplished all the goals I set out to accomplish.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching.

  1. Also, I the phrase “web series” annoys me. It’s cumbersome to say, especially in the plural. I digress. That’s why this is down at the bottom. 

  2. And hopefully more than one, assuming it doesn’t kill me or bankrupt me 

All you need is one person to say “Get in”

A career in the arts is like a hitchhiking trip: All you need is one person to say “Get in” and off you go. And then the confidence begins.

– John Waters in his commencement speech at RISD

Older Entries //