blue light

Hooray we have a three day weekend ahead of us! We’re starting to shoot my short film so it’s going to be a very hectic couple of days, rather than calm time off. Yet again, we’re turning part of our apartment into a set, which means even just relaxing at home is a constant reminder of plans and progress. The cats don’t really know what to make of it as two rooms have been commandeered for projects.

In the days leading up to shooting I’m just hoping I’m not forgetting something. There seem to be a million little details that need to be taken care of. I feel like I have a handle on everything and then I think of something that I’ve totally missed and wonder what else there might be. So much responsibility. In any case, at this point I’m more on the excited side, ready to jump in, than on the nervous side which is helpful.

Yesterday when Shawn and I settled on the final location we realized, not for the first time, that we’re not the sort of people that take a weekend off to do nothing. Instead we try to create things, to make something out of our spare time. While it’s nice to relax, it’s very rewarding to be so productive.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend filled with creativity or just a break if that’s what you prefer.

The Path of the Beam

photo // Shawn Bannon

Being a blogger makes me overly sensitive to internet trends. There is one in particular that begs discussion, one that I’ve noticed more and more recently. With the rise of entrepreneurial culture, there is this proliferation of the idea that if you pursue your dreams with vigor you will get what you want. It is The American Dream. Work hard and you shall prosper. It’s a nice idea, isn’t it? But lets get serious for a second. It’s just not true. Now let that sink in for a second. The truth is that you do have to work hard to get what you want but working hard does not guarantee anything.

First, I’m not trying to be the harbinger of bad news nor am I trying to stomp on your dreams. It just seems we all need a good dose of reality. Second, I’m not saying that you can’t live your dream in some fashion. Besides, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who actually gets exactly what you want.

Mostly I’m wondering about this idea that people have a singular life goal. How many people really have this one true passion they must follow for happiness? Is that something that comes to you in a flash of light or a dream? Is it the love you feel when you first do something new that you think you could do for the rest of your life? I personally have so many loves like that. Whenever I go on a bike ride I’m filled with a sense of elation, but that doesn’t mean I want to become a professional cyclist. There is something diminishing in turning a love into a career. This reason alone is why I’ve never turned this blog into my profession.

Very soon, I’m directing my first short film. The first since I was in college and I made “video art.” The first since I was a teenager and had to edit videos on dual VHS decks. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m terrified. Part of me has always wanted this. Part of me has always been afraid of this. I can’t tell you if my perpetual trepidation is a result of me not wanting to let go of other interests or if it is because I’m am unsure of myself and the possibility of failure. Despite the fact that I’ve produced a feature film, making this short is somehow much harder for me.

Making it in the entertainment industry is hard. That goes without saying. Of course, it’s even harder as a woman. Only 5% of the top 250 grossing films of 2011 were directed by women. I just love movies. While some have always known they want to be a writer or director, I’m not absolutely tied to any one piece of filmmaking. There are about 10 thousand different people that have a part of making a film, many of which I’d be happy doing (many I would not). My trajectory is not so much a clear path. It involves a lot of trying things out. It involves a lot of working really hard at something and realizing that it’s not what I want at all (the number of times this has happened is embarrassing).

Yet, I still have hope. I’ll admit sometime it is wavering. I believe that I will find my place, where there is actually a connection, or at least a balance, between what I do for a living and what makes me happy.

What do you think? Are you following your passion career? Do you even have one? Can you imagine yourself being happy with something else?

The Source

One of my favorite films from SXSW this year was the documentary The Source. It recounts the rise and fall of the Los Angeles commune lead by Father Yod and of course, their Hollywood vegetarian restaurant. This film had such an impact on me, I think partially because of the outstanding archive of film and photos from the era used in the film, devotedly saved by Isis Aquarian, one of Father Yod’s 13 wives. These images were able to breath life into the stories told by the members of the Aquarian family. The film was also soundtracked by the music recorded by the family back in the 70’s, further transporting the viewer into their world.

The other thing that struck me about this film was that years later, many of the members still held Father Yod and their time with the Aquarian family in high esteem. Whereas we’re led to believe that so many communes of the time are horrible, brainwashing cults, The Source allows us to see beyond the stereotypes. Those who came to Father Yod and the The Source restaurant were looking for something, and for many of them, they found the spiritual practice they were seeking. That’s not to say that everything was perfect, which is clearly shown in the heartache of Father Yod’s first wife, as the laws of their life together change during the groups development.

I found this film utterly fascinating and was completely drawn into the story of each family member they spoke with. This was one of the films that sparked my thoughts in this post. It was captivating to see the evolution of the group from it’s humble beginnings to it’s dramatic end.

If you are in San Francisco, I highly recommend catching a screening of The Source at the San Francisco International Film Festival at the end of April. You can get tickets here. If not, keep your eye out for a screening near you.

Movies I want to live in

There are a few films that strike me on some level beyond just getting wrapped up in the story. Sometimes, films capture a time period with such cinematic beauty that I wish I could time travel to these fictional lands and spend the day there. Or longer, perhaps forever. Often, I’d like to leave the drama behind and just soak up the atmosphere and wardrobe, even though I know it is the story that makes these places so believable. So let’s journey for a moment into a few of the films I wouldn’t mind living in.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

What I wouldn’t give to spend the day at Appleyard College for girls. It might be strict but I’m head over heels for all the beautiful Victorian decor. So much lace and ruffles and flowers. I adore the layers upon layers of detailed decoration, from the elaborate wallpaper to myriad of photos displayed in every room. The girlish romance tied with the worrisome darkness makes this film irresistible.

The Incredibles

The Parr family, aka the Incredibles, have the best furniture. That’s the long and short of it. I love how the film created such an on point mid century style for their home even though the story itself is timeless. Of course, while the interiors are extreme, Edna’s house on the hill has an utterly classic modern style. I guess you can have whatever you want in the world if you’re animated.

Days of Heaven

There is almost too much I could say about Days of Heaven as it is such a stunningly cinematic film, and one I absolutely adore. The contrast of vast open fields with the remnants of turn of the century decor sets the scene for the characters’ dilemma. Yet it is the starkness of the landscape mixed with the few ornate details of luxury that make this setting so appealing to me. Or perhaps I just want to live in the magic hour.

There are so many more films I want to live in, so there will be another edition on the way for sure. Are there any films you want to live in?

Sundance 2012

I’ve only been to the Sundance Film Festival once before, when Shawn’s film IGNITE played. That year, everything was overwhelming and new. This year, I came with a plan and everything was exciting. I didn’t get to see all the films I wanted to (Room 237 for instance, and V/H/S) but I was really please with what I did see. That’s not to say I loved every film I saw either, but I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.

I have to say this was my personal favorite of what I saw at the festival. Written and directed by Marialy Rivas, Young and Wild is fun and racy while also being surprisingly serious. It is the story of a 17-year-old Chilean girl with an unrestrained sexual appetite, a devout evangelical family and a blog to talk about it. Go figure I’d like a film about a blogger. It was entertaining and touched on more than just the obvious; really a story about family, love and finding your way. It had a realistic, honest tone, but was laced with the playful writing of youth. I hope this film finds a larger audience and hopefully winning the World Cinema Screenwriting award will help make that happen.

This film, starring and directed by Mark Webber, is a sentimental portrait of a man struggling to raise his young son on his own after the death of his child’s mother. For the most part, this film has staggeringly authentic scenes that make you feel as if you’re watching an expertly shot and well edited home video. This is due in part to the fact that Webber’s real life son, at 2 and a half, is not really acting but rather being filmed in situation. And let me tell you, that kid is a charmer. The overall emotional tone is touching as you see Webber’s struggle to keep his life together. The End of Love manages to capture something rare and true in the depiction of this father and son, something that draws you into the story. I wish more films could be in touch with this sort of realism.

An absurd look at a fantasy life in Los Angeles, Wrong, gives you a glimpse into the strange world of Dolph after his dog is stolen. The film is much like a bizarre dream, with oddball characters and nonsensical settings (an office that rains indoors, a man that repaints random cars for no reason). It is for sure an amusing trip and is at the same time unremarkable. I definitely enjoyed the curiosity of it all. As a side note, I would recommend checking out this fun short by the director Quentin Dupieux’s (aka Mr. Oizo).

Already there is controversy around this film as it spawned a handful of hecklers at various screenings, including ours. To be honest, I am almost tempted to not mention it at all just to not give it any more press, but my blog doesn’t really count as press so I shall continue. Also, I’m going to include a spoiler so you can just skip this if you want. The big complaint about Compliance is that this film uses rape as entertainment and is thus exploitation. Personally, this isn’t even my problem with the movie Even though as a feminist I oppose the concept, I think it was shot and edited in a way that at least attempted to avoid this. My problem with the film is that it is boring. It’s boring and predictable and not worth the time it took to watch. It defends itself by the fact that it is based on true events and attempts to be a study of the individuals involved. Unfortunately, it never fully captures the motives or intentions of any of the characters and has the emotional depth of a bad tv movie. Instead of watching this film, I propose you instead read about the true events it is based on and you’ll get the full horrific effect. Some things don’t require artistic reinterpretation. That being said, Shawn thought it was compelling and interesting so there’s that.

p.s. These photos have nothing to do with these film, except that I took them in Utah.