Saturday, March 28, 2009

The First Feature To Be Shot Entirely On a Digital SLR

About two years ago, while I was producing the Liberation Commission Video blog. I was forwarded a link to another video blog about two guys who had bought an ambulance and were taking it on a road trip across the country. The producer of the vlog was Andrew Disney, a filmmaker who had just graduated from the NYU film program and who was originally a Fort Worth local. Eventually I got to meet Andrew in Fort Worth and I've been following his filmmaking exploits ever since.

A few days ago Andrew posted a video on his Vimeo page, of some test footage using the new Canon 5d Mark II, shooting RAW video on a digital SLR. Through the new blog that he confounded with his business partner Tyler Kitchens, called Patathread (their company is called Patahouse), he told of his excitement about the development of this new camera system. The test really excited me, especially because Jonathan and I had been discussing the possibility of using the same camera for our movie in New Zealand. And then, just a few days ago, Andrew released the teaser trailer for his upcoming feature film Searching For Sonny, shot beautifully on the Canon 5d Mark II.

Searching for Sonny - Teaser Trailer/Canon 5d Mark II Feature Film from Andrew Disney on Vimeo.
The teaser is masterfully executed. If you're a fan of Wes Anderson's films, you might notice some similarities in the use of the character titles and symmetrical framing (of course this style could also be attributed to the earlier films of Michael Powell).

It's great to see one of my contemporaries excelling in the new digital cinema medium. And it's especially exciting that he's chosen Fort Worth as the location of his recent work. I suggest that you check out his new blog Patathread, it's been one of my favorite blogs for a while and it's yet to disappoint. Look forward to more great work coming from Andrew Disney and his gang.

Quick Update: Ten Days of Madness

The past week has been one of the busiest weeks of my career. I've somehow been doing four different jobs simultaneously. I can't hold a thought in my head at the moment, yet somehow, I can continue to do the work without mistakes. I have a feeling though, that once these ten days are over, I'm going to realize that I forgot to do a lot of necessary day to day things. For example, I know that I am out of underwear and that I am going to have to wear running shorts under my jeans tomorrow, because I haven't had time to wash any clothes. Truth is, I could hardly be happier. I love my work and it's a blessing to be so busy before my upcoming trip to New Zealand. I need to make all the money I can before I leave for that trip.

Today on the way to Rancho Cucamonga for an early morning shoot, there was a bad accident in front of me and the highway was completely shut down. The day before, it had taken me 40 minutes to make the same drive. This morning, it took me 4 hours to reach my destination. During the long drive I was able to think about a lot of things (I was also highly caffeinated). I even got an idea for my first essay, I think I'm going to call it The New Suburban United States: Where Dreams and Racism Go to Die - or something like that.

Stay tuned for the next post. I'm excited to share something of worth!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Now I Need A Logo

I almost forgot to tell you, the other week, when I went back to Dallas-Fort Worth, I started a new company! It's called Deliberate Entertainment and yes, it goes along with the same "deliberate" theme as this blog. As the name suggests, I'm taking a greater interest in the "business" of entertainment. I applied for the business name in Texas for a couple of reasons. I hope this doesn't sound incriminating, but I don't want to be a California resident, at least not at present time. Also, my business manager and almost all of my clients are based out of Dallas. Oh, and my "permanent" address is in Dallas-Fort Worth, because I'm still a vagabond. And I don't plan on that changing any time soon.

Justin, ball's in your court (just kidding dude, I know you're busy).

Re-Studying Cinema

As I write this I'm lying on the couch and watching a feature length film, for free on hulu.com (yes, the one from the Alex Baldwin Super Bowl ad). There are only about 100 full movies on the site right now but some of the titles are pretty incredible (ex. Richard Linklater's 1991 masterpiece "Slacker"). My current choice is a 2003 Indy Australian picture called The Rage in Placid Lake. It stars the singer-songwriter Ben Lee, and the beautiful Rose Byrne (currently starring on the tv show Damages). It reminds me of the movie Eagle Vs. Shark (youtube, Apple), both recent-ish Indy flicks, one from Australia and one from New Zealand - maybe they both have similar dramedic sensibilities.

Point is - I'm actually lying down and enjoying a movie. Emphasis on "enjoying" - for someone who considers himself a filmmaker, I watch far too few films.

It's About to Get Crazy (Busy)

Just a quick update to give you a little layout of my schedule for the next 11 days. I'm shooting 4 days of behind the scenes on a low-budget National Lampoon style comedy. The movie is ridiculous and the behind the scenes are going to be even ridiculous-er. Early next week I'm sitting in on a color-correction session with a friend of mine who is a D.P. on a major network show. I guess that doesn't count as work, but I kind of consider myself an apprentice to him. Later next week I'll shoot one or two commercials for apartment complexes in the Rancho Cucamonga area East of Los Angeles. The U.S. may be having an economic crisis, but all those homes being foreclosed upon in suburban sprawl America is making for one hot suburban sprawl apartment grab. So true to my capitalist nature, I'm capitalizing on the booming apartment market. Next weekend I'm slated to D.P. three hilarious shorts for Team Tiger Awesome that I guess are going to air on Fox Reality channel. I've been a Team Tiger Awesome fan from the very start, so it's an honor for me to be working for them.

The idea is that I'm trying to do as much work as humanly possible over the next month and a half, to raise money for the movie that we are shooting in New Zealand in May. I don't want to burn myself out, but I love what I do. I'm literally praying to God that the work keeps coming. We've got a lot of equipment to rent for the movie and I've got a lot in taxes to pay. I know I've been quiet on the project, but if you would like to invest, it's a golden opportunity :D .

I promise to fill you in a little bit more on the movie before we leave.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wanna Go To London?



I've flown to London, I don't know 6 or 7 times. I've paid as much as $1,300 for the return flight and never less than $900. I logged into farechase.com, one of the best sites for finding cheap airfare and just used the dates they gave me, April 9th through April 16th, and I came up with some really cheap fares from both Dallas and L.A.

It's my favorite city. Got some vacation time burning a hole in your account? Go I tell you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Quest for the Perfect Place

Growing up I had a lot of opportunities to travel, my family drove every summer to my grandparent’s lake cabin in Northern Minnesota, I have memories from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from when I was 6, Hawaii in the 6th grade and a few cruises around the Caribbean. But I didn’t really get the backpacking bug until I was twenty. When I was nineteen and a sophomore in college I studied abroad in London for a month and then took a trip with my brother and two friends to Paris, Interlaken, Switzerland and Southern France. But even then I complained about the inconveniences of travel and the sub-par standards of hostelling. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, it may seem like I’m a born traveler, but the truth is, it’s been a long, step-by-step process, weaning me off of the comforts of my spoiled suburban upbringing.

When I was twenty years old, the summer after my junior year in college, I was put in a summer study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. I’d actually put the deposit down on a totally different, more decadent “culinary” trip, but after the 2003 Madrid train bombings, most of the fashion and interior design majors (100% female) dropped out of the program. So I was forced to either lose my deposit or take the last remaining place in an intensive Spanish language course in Madrid. The program only lasted a month and afterwards I booked a last minute flight on Royal Thai airlines to meet some friends in Rome. I’d never even heard of Royal Thai airlines and the fare didn’t even show up until 24 hours before the flight and not being the seasoned traveler that I am now, I was a bit nervous. On top of this, I had just booked sleeping arrangements in Rome at a campsite outside of the city and I was supposed to be meeting a guy I didn’t know very well to then go and rendezvous with friends of mine who were just getting off the London study abroad program. Needless to say I wasn’t, nor have ever been, a very good planner. The whole thing was very fly by the seat of your pants (whatever that means). When I got to the flight they showed me to my upper deck seat in Executive Class on their 747 with a LIT candle in the bathroom and offered me an in flight massage for a small fee (I declined). I arrived in Rome and hopped in a taxi and was dropped off in a rural area at what turned out to be some sort of gypsy encampment. I needed a nap, but fearing that I would never wakeup if I stayed in my 100 degree hot-box of a tent, I left my bag in the tent, put a small padlock on the zipper and ventured into Rome. Once in the city I tracked down my friends and had a fun evening before attempting to catch the last subway to the outskirts of town. Then I boarded a bus and went in the wrong direction, to the other side of town, where the bus broke down, leaving me stranded in a desolate parking lot in a bad area. After hiding behind a dumpster for an hour I flagged down a taxi only to discover that I couldn’t read the name of the camp site I’d haphazardly scribbled down in my notebook. Fortunately, the cab driver seemed to know where I needed to go and drove me back across the city and dropped me off in from of the campsite. It was now almost morning and the large gate was locked and the attendant was nowhere to be found. A group of drunken backpackers also arrived at the same time as me and we hoisted each other over the wall. The guy I was trying to meet didn’t show up the next day, so I ventured back into the city once again, though this time I was able to return to the campsite without a hitch. The next day I called my mom (who had booked my flights) and asked her to extend my trip another month. I was hooked. I was a traveler.

Rather than continue to narrate the many tales of my backpacking adventures I’ll get to the point of this story. I’ve now been to 5 of the 7 continents and seen many different countries, cultures, lifestyles and ways humans use the land they occupy. This has left me dissatisfied with any place I now go. Of all the cities I’ve visited in my life, London is my favorite. I love the tube, I love that you can take speed trains to the country side, I love the architecture and I love the culture. But I’ve only ever seen London in June. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it as much any other time of year. And even London is not free of slums. I loved Huahine Island in French Polynesia, it’s one of the most beautiful and tranquil places I’ve ever seen. But they have mosquitoes which carry Dengue fever. And it’s completely disconnected from the world, isolated in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. I love Europe. I love that you can travel between any country in Europe by train, arrive in a dense but beautiful city and hop on the Metro. I love that you can eat gourmet food anywhere you go. But hundreds of years ago native bear populations from Spain to Germany were completely wiped out by hunting. What looks ideal on the surface still bears the scars of human folly.

It’s not that I’m looking for perfection, because all things on earth are subject to the law of entropy. But my travels have indeed become a quest for places where man and nature coexist in a more symbiotic relationship. And where technology also exists as non-insidiously as possible. My goal now is to find a place to call home. Over the last eight years I have packed up everything I own and moved about twenty times. Over the last year I’ve sold most of my possessions; anything that wont fit in my backpack or in my small car is now gone. And I’m on a quest for a more ideal place to call my base. Taking notes from birds, I’m also hoping to one day migrate, having a summer home somewhere tranquil in Northern America and having a Winter home possibly somewhere near the equator. I know that sounds ideal, who doesn’t want that luxury? I’m just really being driven crazy by man’s inability to moderate his consumption and his inability to think with foresight when using the earth’s resources and developing the land. I’ve also noticed that some countries do this better than others. Some cities function better than others. A nicely designed home feels more welcoming to guests than a messy one. And a congested living space decreases ones ability to function properly within it. In short, messiness causes stress. To that end I’m studying the world while I travel and attempting to figure out how to alleviate the stress that is caused by problems in modern living. One day I hope to have some influence to help sort out the mess that’s been made of our planet. All that being said, the earth is still a fantastic place and worth the struggle to conserve it.

Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been? Any suggested reading on this subject?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

20 Pounds of Muscle Since August

That's how much weight I've put on in 7 months, since I returned from India weighing 145 pounds in August. It's thanks to 3 things; eating meat again for the first time in 3 years, P90X and protein powder. 165 was my imaginary ideal weight but now that I've reached it I still feel skinny, so I'm reaching for 175 before I leave for New Zealand on May 5th. As a testament to the P90X workout, my waist has not grown a single inch in 20 pounds of muscle gain.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From The Corner of This California King

I'm coming to you from bed tonight for a little update. After a slew of traveling, I'm back in L.A. for one final push to do as much work as possible before leaving in May to make a movie in New Zealand. But that's not why I'm writing. I'm just curious - how do you get here? Is it by Google Reader? Do you have a Deliberate Industries bookmark in your browser? Do you actually physically type it in? Let me know if you would.

P.S. I started a new company. I can't tell you what it is until I buy the domain name.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Weekend Work Adventure in Mobile, AL

This weekend I've been in Mobile, Alabama shooting a mother-son, father-daughter, husband-wife conference that my friend Travis is speaking at. I flew standby on Southwest starting on Thursday afternoon and was routed through Vegas, just barely getting pushed through the gate in place of a screaming woman running towards the terminal. She actually had a ticket, but she was late so she got bumped. We drove 3 hours the next morning to a campsite in Mobile and were directed to where we would be sleepng for the next few nights - a luxury bunk house above a large horse stable. My instructions for the weekend were minimal, just how I like them. Travis hired me to shoot video using 3 cameras, of a few skits and talks that he would be performing over the weekend. Set-up was minimal, so I just got to hang out most of the day sitting passively through the weekend events and just observing the patrons and making friends with the staff of volunteers. It's safe to say that Lower Alabama is the true South. And this was a fairly sophisticated crowd so I really got the best possible introduction to Southern culture. Each morning I woke up early and made my way to a large pavillion out on the lake where I would eat a steak sandwhich bagel, a cream cheese Danish and drink a couple cups of coffee. Then I'd head up a small hill I a large tent where my cameras were set up. Soon a blue grass rock band would come on stage and kick off the day with a mixture of orignal stuff and classical Christian worship songs. Then I'd shoot a couple of takes of the skits, shoot the talk, grab a barbeque lunch sittng outside in the perfect weather, shoot more skits and another talk, then head up to the house for wine and beer and boiled shrimp and deer burgers. My company was great, really sweet genuine people and cute girls. The whole experience was incredibly refreshing.

It's hard for me to believe that this culture even exists when I'm neck deep in my life in L.A. I'm really grateful to Travis for having me out for this event.

P.S. I just typed this out on my iPhone, I apologize for the typos.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lion Eats Camera - POV

You asked if I had the footage from the camera that the lion grabbed in Kenya last summer. Well, I do, and I've edited it into the video and posted it to the LonelyPlanet.tv website. Click the image below if you'd like to watch it.
It's actually on a minute and forty-five seconds long.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Tahitian Sunset

Over black sand, from my hotel room:
P.S. Something new is coming: The essays I've always wanted to post here. You may not like them. You may not like how opinionated I really am. Or, you may not read them at all. I think that instead of posting them like regular blog posts, I'll first write a warning and brief synopsis and then simply link to a Google document. Just wait, if you're willing to read them, they're going to surprise you.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Back In L.A.

If you were wondering, yes, Tahiti was great. It was summer in the Southern hemisphere, so it was hot and sunny. On one long day on the island of Huahini, I rode around in a fast boat, snorkeling and wake-boarding, and got really sunburned, even though I put on three coats of SPF-25. I also sustained some cuts and deep bruising while riding ATV's through the jungle and hiking up one of the mountains to a natural waterslide (I slipped and fell hard 3 times while filming, but managed to save the camera). There are a lot of mosquitos in Tahiti and I got bitten about 100 times. I also didn't get much sleep because our work schedule was very intensive (my call time was 5am one morning). Thus, yesterday, when I got back, I fell asleep at 4pm and just woke up at 7am.

I'm not allowed to post any pictures from the trip, but I'll post some landscape pictures soon. Just wanted to let you know that I'm back safe and sound and mostly in one piece.