Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fast Cheap and Under Control

I recently received a copy of a great new book titled Fast, Cheap and under Control: Lessons from the Greatest Low-Budget Movies of All Time written by John Gaspard.

First, it’s a great book. I highly recommend it for people interested in filmmaking and/or aspiring to making movies. Second, in a chapter devoted to four mock-docs, The Last Broadcast is written about in a very accurate, and informative way.

For myself, the coolest thing is that David Holzman’s Diary, a movie I studied in school and that was very influential to Lance and myself, is the movie that immediately precedes TLB. It’s kind of awing when you are being written about right next to your heroes.
I really wish my film Professor were still alive to see this. He’d have gotten a real kick out of it.

Along with our humble selves, there are many other interviews from sixty nine ‘indie’ movies, spanning a wide range of time and genres. It really is a great list of movies. Check it out.

Also, as September 26th approaches, it’s time for me to start plugging – the re-release of The Last Broadcast. As we near the ten year (GULP) anniversary of the movie’s inception, Heretic films is putting out a brand new, remastered movie, along with all the original extras of the first DVD, plus a slew of new ones. I’ve reconstructed the original website, and over the next few days will amp it up with new information. For now, check it out at:
Also, check out

Finally, check out Lance Weiler’s newest project at
He begins his fifteen city theatrical run tomorrow, so if you’re near one of the screens, go see it. Best of luck, Lance.

That’s all for the moment.
Have a good one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Where have the children gone?

A quick, annoyed entry about a survey that’s been generating a lot of talk in town.
Here’s a link to a story about it.

The crux is that young people today seem to like watching movies in ways besides  the theatrical experience. PC’s or ipods, etc.  The fear is that these other methods are supplanting the theatrical experience.
This survey asks all kinds of questions about how and why they like to watch movies.
It’s all very scientific with a +- error of a mere 3 percentage points.
After reading this carefully, I have formulated my own opinion. By no means the first time someone has said this, I think now is a great time to repeat it. It bears reiteration.

You want to know why ticket sales are down? It’s not brain surgery. (By the way, the brain is a thing people besides you have inside their skull)

It’s simple. You charge too much.  
Done. You greedy bastards killed the cow, and you’re wondering why the teat isn’t working so well?
“Hmm, maybe those wacky kids today like juice”. Blame it on the Internet.
NO, you idiots. They can’t afford the price of that stinky, sour milk.

Lower the prices and most of your problem will go away. Make better movies and even more will vanish. I like to watch a movie as much (well probably more) than the next person, but even I find myself not paying to go to the theaters.

Okay, this rant won’t change anything, but at least I put it out there.

It’s a classic problem with show business. We get so close to the problem, we can’t see it.

A classic forest for the trees.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

It's the weekend...

...and I am writing.
Damn it's good to be writing.
Saturday night, yeah!

Actually, there's no sarcastic tone meant with the above.
Across the street, people are having a blow-out party. It's 2:40 am and going strong, which is unheard of in L.A. It's a town that shuts down early. 12:30 - 1:00 AM. 1:30 at the latest. It was one of the strangest culture shocks for me. Very strange indeed.
There were times in New York that I wouldn't even begin the night till near midnight. Heck, even in Pennsylvania, one could be expected to go to an after hours breakfast somewhere on a Saturday night after partying till 2:00.

I have a good mind to go over there -
-and ask them for their playlist. Damn, the music is great.
A bunch of stuff that I've never heard, but seems like I should have.

I am catching up on my "Stooges" collection; not "The Three" rather just, "The".
If you don't get it, don't worry about it.

Maybe the tone of this blog has something to do with having listened to Iggy, Siouxie, the Horrorpops (my newest discovery) et al.

Quickie, over and out.

ps- I was wrong. The party ended at 2:48 Am, didn't slow down or fade out, just - ended.

pps - Brothers of the Head opened this weekend. Have you seen it yet?

Good night.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Waves: heat, sound, and other

Frequency of my blogging is inversely proportional to the productivity in my life.
Ah, if only that were one hundred percent true.

It’s been a hot summer. That has slowed me down, somewhat. I’m guessing that a lot of people in the country have been operating at speeds rated less than normal.

It’s a hot one.

Before the heat hit, we went ‘environment cooling’ shopping. Having seen An Inconvenient Truth, and being from the ‘man is screwing things up’ school of thought, we looked for an alternative to air conditioning. Swamp coolers held promise for areas that are dry. Hey, Southern California is dry!

The premise behind one is that a fan blows through (or sucks) a very fine mist of water. Much finer than the misters used outside in Las Vegas (or the Universal theme park lines), the Swamp Cooler blows slightly damp air. The water pulls the heat out of the air, and Voila!, cooler air. In dry areas, it can cool the air ten degrees.

We got it, I filled it up and turned it on.

We waited; we put our hands in front of it to feel if the air was getting cooler…

We tried this for three days before coming to the realization that, maybe these things work in Tuscan, but in Los Angeles, they aren’t happening.

First, it essentially felt no different than a fan.
Second, you’re supposed to leave the doors and windows open. It’s simply no match for that.
Third, at the end of the day – you have room that is more humid. Humidity, while perhaps decreasing the overall temp by a degree or so, increases the relative ‘feel’ of the temp. So, actually – the swamp cooler just pissed me off.
Fourth, the Swamp Cooler also released what I call, “the smell of impending death”. It’s that damp, musty, ‘plastic’y odor of old folks homes that anyone who has spent time in a senior center will be familiar with.

So, with great disappointment, we returned the Swamp Cooler, and exchanged it for a portable Air Conditioner. We’d heard less then stellar reviews of those also, but with an intent of using it sparingly, one room at a time only, and only when it was really needed, we were hopeful.

Maybe I’ll write about my day of hell in the exchange sometime.

Anyway, the heat hit, and it’s a damned good thing I had AC instead of that Swamp Cooler, cause the humidity went up also (which isn't supposed to happen in Northeastern Los Angeles. It’s the first time in L.A. that I felt like I was back east. The heavy, hot, humid air at night. UGH! Just like Pennsylvania in July. Thankfully, the portable Swamp Cooler was able to pull that out of the bedroom at night.

The 100 plus degrees during the day were also made slightly more bearable. I was able to bring the temps in the office down to a comfortable 85 degrees, and survive.
Final verdict on the Portable AC: It's does the job. It won't win awards, but is very energy efficient and portability factor is good. It's esthetically as pleasing as any prop in Brazil and with its form factor and footprint should be given a name - like R2D2. All in all though, because we don't use AC more than absolutely necessary, it will do.

You know it’s hot when the cat looks forward to being soaked with water.

Dog Days Of Summer

Weather wise, a strange summer indeed. I guess I don’t need to tell U.S. readers that.

The business of making movies has been interspersed with going to the U.S Open of Surfing, Hollywood Bowl concerts, and the occasional summer block-not-so-buster. Also, my present “summer build project” is nearing completion. I wrote earlier about how I was building high-end microphones, and was accumulating parts for a high end mic Preamplifier – well, that project is about 98 percent complete. It’s been fun, interesting and occasionally frustrating. Though quite a bit more complex than any electronic project I’ve tackled in the past, I've only, shocked myself a couple times, burned myself only once and let the smoke out of only one component. Though that part was only a buck, I spent about twenty to locate it. Turning it on, and finally hearing it was very well worthwhile. The sound from this thing is frighteningly good. Besides being a clean, quiet, highly accurate machine, I can also turn up the gain (kinda like volume) to a point that if I aim a microphone out the office window, I can hear what’s going on across the neighborhood.

I feel like Gene Hackman in “The Conversation”; a classic thriller to watch, if you haven’t already.