Sunday, May 30, 2010

SXSW Recap and Clips

As you know it's been 2 1/2 months since SXSW 2010, but I'm still processing everything I saw and heard. 

As you know, my first night I saw Leaves of Grass. Here's a trailer. And here are part one and part two of the q&a following the screening. Last I heard it was releasing wide in July.  I'll definitely be seeing it again. By the way, I missed Kick Ass, because it screen at the same time, but I've since seen it and it rocks!! (Here are the words of Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloe Moretz at their panel.)

Saturday, March 13, my first full day, I started off the day gently... with blood and gore at the Directing the Dead: Genre Directors Spill Their Guts panel.  Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth were supposed to be there, but they ditched at the last minute, even though hundreds of people had already been waiting for hours to get into the panel.  Those guys have class. But, since Tarantino wasn't there, the other directors actually got a chance to speak, which was awesome!  Ti West, Ruben Fleischer (his Zombieland is awesome!), Scott Weinberg, Matt Reeves, Robert Rodriguez, Neil Marshall were great speakers.  Here are clips of the panel. 1 2 By far, my favorite part of the panel was this section where Matt Reeves talks about being true to source material when making adaptations.  Also, I got to speak to Ti West later in the day at another panel, and he was very friendly and kind.   All in all, a great experience.

My next panel of the day was The Kids Are Alright: Jay and Mark Duplass Plus.  Their film Cyrus showed later that night.  The Duplass brothers direct is a way that is completely opposite of how I like to direct.  They know the goals of each scene, but the dialogue, mood, pace, and blocking of a scene changes dramatically from take to take.  I like to plan every angle and every shot, but I did like the idea of casting actors you can trust and giving them freedom to be creative and spontaneous and allowing them to use their intuition and stretch their acting muscles. Cyrus, the story of a single mother (Marissa Tomei), her new boyfriend (John C. Reilly), and her clingy grown son (Jonah Hill) was amazing - both surprisingly touching and surprisingly funny.  It opens on June 18.  Go see it! (Here's the trailer.) My favorite part of the screening, though, was during the q&a when Jonah Hill heckled the audience for not asking good enough questions! Hilarious! (For the whole Q&A, see 1 2 3 4 5)

Also that day, I saw the short Star Wars: Retold, where a girl who has never seen any of the Star Wars movies gives her analysis of the films based on the bits she's seen.  So funny!!  This was a warm-up to The People Vs. George Lucas which was a brilliant documentary full of great interviews detailing the amazing rise of George Lucas' fandom, and then their spectacular turn on him.  Definitely check it out.  Also, if you like Star Wars, check out Saber, starring two of my Twitter "friends"- Rileah Vanderbilt (the brunette) and Clare Grant, (the blonde) who is now Mrs. Seth Green.  Awesome!

Sunday, March 14, I went to some interesting panels, but, by far, the highlight of the day was the Jeffrey Tambor acting workshop.  (SXSW hasn't posted a clip of this panel, but here's a bit of the '08 workshop.)

The feature I saw that night wasn't very good, but the short before it, Always a Bride, was hilarious!

Monday, March 15, I went to two of my favorite panels, but neither are posted online. One was how to use storyboards in direction, and the other was how to plan for sound ahead of shooting.  I wish I could share!  March 15 is a sad anniversary for me, so I went home early that night to watch Chuck and go to bed early.

Tuesday, March 16, began with the MacGruber panel.  I didn't see the film, but the panel was awesome! (Including a fun NSFW cameo by Seth Meyers.) I also really enjoyed the Filmmaker War Stories panel.

That evening, I saw World Peace & Other 4th Grade Achievements, which was outstanding.  It's preceding short, Diplomacy, was also outstanding.  That was a really good session.

Wednesday, March 17, was my last day of SXSW, but I ended with two great films, and by meeting one of my favorite singer/actresses!  The first film was a documentary called For the Sake of the Song: the Story of Anderson Fair, and it chronicled the life of an amazing music venue in Houston.  I wanted to see it because Lyle Lovett, one of my favorites, was interviewed in it, and I walked away with a deeper understanding of Texas music and a desire to go to this place myself someday.

The second film of the night was Get Low, the story of an old man (Robert Duvall) who wants to cause a stir and maybe find a bit of redemption in his final days.  Sissy Spacek plays his old friend and former sister-in-law, and her daughter, Schuyler Fisk, is one of my favorite musicians and actresses.  Since I'm apparently all bold now, I approached her, told her how much I loved her music, and asked to take a picture.  I admit, I wasn't quite as cool as when I approached Edward Norton, I was maybe a little enthusiastic, but she was very gracious.

All in all, it was another great festival, and I am already making plans for 2011.  Wanna come? :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Leaves of Grass and Baby Steps

Tonight was the first night of SXSW 2010.  For my first film of the festival, I chose to see Leaves of Grass, which was written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson and stars Edward Norton (as twins), Tim Blake Nelson, Keri Russell, and Melanie Lynskey.  I have deep respect for all of these actors, so it was the obvious choice for the evening.

I arrived over an hour before the screening, but became worried when I saw the 100 or so people who were already in line.  I was in the last group to be let into the lobby, and almost didn't make it inside.  I was third in line, behind a pair of friends, when the usher came out and said that there was only one seat left.  Rather than be separated, these lovely ladies decided to give me the one remaining seat, since I was alone.  I have been praying since then that God bless these two women with something amazing this week to thank them for the wonderful experience they gave me.  I was literally the last person seated.

The movie, about an academic who returns home to rural Oklahoma when he believes his twin brother has been murdered, was really well done.  Norton and Nelson create a fascinating world that is both fantastic and believable at the same time.  The film is hilarious, but also touching and surprising.  Very few films surprise me, and this story had more than one shocking moment that I never saw coming.  Norton is brilliant as both the tightly controlled professor Bill and charming pot dealer loser Brady.  Leaves of Grass is truly a special experience.

After the film Nelson and Norton did a q&a, and both were well spoken and kind.  After the movie let out, Edward Norton came up next to me in the hallway.  Now, I have to explain that I have been near celebrities before, both in public and professional settings, but I never approach them.  I feel that if an actor is just out and about, living their life, that they deserve their privacy.  Also, because of my previous size, I felt embarrassed to be seen, so I didn't seek attention.

Tonight, though, I approached Mr. Norton, shook his hand, told him that I have a great respect for his talent and that I thought he had made a wonderful film.  He was gracious and charming, and went on with his night.  This was really important to me for three reasons.  First of all, it's EDWARD NORTON!!!  Squee!!  Secondly, I was given the rare chance to express my appreciation to a film actor.  In theater productions, the actors give their all, and the audience gives back to them by appropriate responses during the performance and applause at the end.  The audience gets to thank the cast and crew for their hard work.  In film and television, that rarely happens.  I felt really good getting to give something back to an actor who had given a great performance.  Finally, I was excited because I stepped out of  my shell and didn't feel ashamed of myself.  I felt normal and not-at-all-freakish, which is a new feeling for me.

It was a really special night, that I hope is just a preview of the magic waiting for me this week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm famous!

I was in a panel yesterday about how movie trailers are made, which was awesome. As I was waiting for the panel to begin when, no kidding, five different people said, "Oh, you're the interpreter from yesterday." (in the Jeffrey Tambor workshop.) It was insane. I have to admit, though, that I kind of liked it. :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I heart Jeffrey Tambor

By far the highlight of my week so far has been an acting workshop given by the amazing Jeffrey Tambor. He led two actors, Greta Gerwig and Kent Osborne, through a scene while demonstrating directing techniques. It was amazing. It felt like taking a year of film school in two hours. If I were in LA, I would definitely try to take a class from him at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. The best moment, by FAR, was when I actually talked to him! The girl next to me had asked him a question, but in a roundabout kind of way. He didn't understand what she was asking, so I restated her question. Jeffrey Tambor said that I used wonderful logic and had a beautiful mind. How awesome is that!?!?! I'll be high for a week off that. :)

Harold and Kumar are my new buds (ha!-buds)

OK, so I've only seen parts of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, and raunchy humor usually isn't my thing, but when given an opportunity to go to a panel with celebs, I jumped. The panel was made up of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, creators of H&K, Neil Patrick Harris, Kal Penn, and John Cho. They were all charming and well spoken, and I may just have to join the church of NPK. (When you see the sequel, it will make total sense.) Later that night, I went to the world premiere of Harold & Kumar 2: Escape from Guantanamo Bay. The whole cast was there, and it was a really great crowd, so it was a riot. I laughed until my sides hurt. It was awesome!

Opening Night

With great excitement, I attended my very first film festival - South By Southwest 2008. The opening night film was 21, starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth. Well, actually the real star of the film is Jim Sturgess, a Brit who is absolutely adorable. The film is the story of a group of MIT students who made a fortune counting cards in Las Vegas that is based on the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. The book focuses on (former) card counter Jeffrey Ma. The film was good, but the best part was a Q&A session following the film with Sturgess, Mezrich, and Ma. They were funny and entertaining. It was a really fun night.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Nominations Reactions

I was up early this morning, getting ready to go sub, so I got to see the Oscar noms live.

First of all, I'm so excited for Juno (my personal choice for best film of the year), and for Diablo Cody (nominated for her first film!!).

Not all all surprised at the love for No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, although one day I hope the Academy will realize that dark and violent doesn't automatically equal good filmmaking. Very surprised at all the love for Michael Clayton, which critics loved, but didn't really find an audience.

BTW, where was the love for Into the Wild? And Hairspray?

Also very surprised at Cate Blanchett's nomination for Elizabeth: The Golden Age instead of Keira Knightley for Atonement.

As usual, there were a couple out of far left field - like Ruby Dee for American Gangster and Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose.

Also, as usual, there were a couple of nominations that seem to be based on a strong career, rather than the actual film, e.g. Philip Seymour Hoffman (who was phenomenal in Capote) for Charlie Wilson's War, Laura Linney for The Savages, and Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah.

If only I ran the Oscars....