Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for May, 2010

Big Film is losing the chess game and its theaters

The Rocketeer crashes into the Hollywoodland sign

The film industry is playing a high-stakes game of chess, and Hollywood is losing. Its piece count vastly outnumbers indie filmmakers, but in chess all it takes is a few missteps and a blindness to one’s weaknesses and any player can fall flat on their face.

Studio executives have a lot against them right now. The studios were built around a system of scarcity and expensive production costs, where few good films were made and even fewer respectable people were reviewing them. The challenge then was only to market them efficiently. Now that the scarcity has become plenty, studios have been in a panic. One strategy is to copy independent film’s marketing and distribution (see studio-backed Paranormal Activity‘s carbon copy of indie’s Four-Eyed Monsters for one, but there are many more examples of studios following indies’ lead.) Another is to bolster non-theatrical sources of income by embracing video on demand and shortening the timeframe between a film’s theatrical opening and home video release (shorter and shorter and shorter) And with this move, Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot.

The theater is the domain of Hollywood film. Big money will always be able to pay for big advertising campaigns, which even in the era of YouTube can cement a film’s success. But aside from cash, Hollywood’s primary asset is its access to a vast theatrical network–and the industry is squandering it. Instead of making the theatrical experience a funhouse of truly incredible proportions, the studios have followed the innovations of others in home video and allowed the theatrical experience to remain unchanged in its form for basically a century. (But what about color, and 3-D, you say? Please, that’s ridiculous. They both draw audiences to movie theaters, yes, but they are not on the level of the kind of change that has occurred in society around the watching of movies. Sorry Hollywood, but if you want innovation it has to come from you. Otherwise it’s an indie world and you’re just living in it.)

What needs to change in theaters? They must move into the modern age to play the role of community that they once did. Offer more diversity of films for longer periods of time. For example, allow a community to form a Criterion Collection film club and commit to watching one Criterion film per week. Host a discussion or an interview afterward. Add smaller theaters into a theater. Add prime restaurants, cafés with wifi. Look at the model of the Apple Store in being not just a place to buy products but a community hub. Bring back older movies and advertise them locally. Make a schedule that loads up with new releases but is also diverse and fun. THIS IS NOW CHEAP TO DO, why is it not happening? Why can’t I see Ferris Bueller in theaters?

It’s not happening because Hollywood is not in a position to innovate. As an industry built on conservative principles, change appears to be coming exclusively from without and not at all from within. Many industry execs see themselves as businesspeople first and entertainers second, and the difference between an entertainment and a business perspective here is the difference between success and failure. Remember, this is an industry that is known to egregiously miscast a film just to slot in high-banking movie stars, crippling the film, and then wonder why it bombed at the box office.

Perhaps I am being unjustly critical – most of the people I have known in the industry are very intelligent and certainly aware of these issues. But if all areas of the industry do not communicate, we will live in an era where indie films are completely equal in terms of how they are distributed, reviewed, talked about, and watched. That’s a world I am excited for, but you’d think it would have studio execs quaking in their boots and rushing to fix things at the theaters. Get your shit together, guys.

Don't ask don't tell..ephone?

US soldiers in Afghanistan remake Telephone. Now nobody can say that Lady Gaga hasn’t completely transformed our society. Damn…

Thanks Doug and Maddie for the link.

So you want to be a writer?

Ted Hope posted a beautiful poem about writing that I would like to repost here. I sit and rewrite, show work to friends, but visually I have stories I want to tell. These few years in my life are my time to answer the questions in this poem:

so you want to be a writer?

by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Exclusive! Beautiful antiwar film

An Everything is Everything exclusive!!

About three years ago I found a beautiful antiwar film, with haunting images set to Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek. I watched it many times and many friends greatly appreciated it. When searching for it recently, though, I saw that it had been taken down by YouTube. I was determined to find it, though, and messaged the creator on YouTube. A discussion followed, and my expression of interest in his film prompted him to repost it for all to see. Watch and share this beautiful film now that it is back out there:

My favorite part is “trains and sewing machines.”

His description:

It’s been a long time since I did this movie and looking at it now has been interesting experience. All of the anger at the lies and wanton destruction came racing back. The events in New York City of the last week with the SUV bomber and the very different outcome have sharpened these feelings.
This week we saw the response we should have seen on 9/11/2001. A police action to catch criminals. 9/11 as a declaration of war is the largest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people and the reverberations will continue for decades. This film is about the real war of Iraq, which was waged by the USA government against the people of Iraq and against the people who were unfortunate enough to be serving our nation at this worst possible time.

From his email to me:

Just a couple of notes on the video.  The hide and seek video was story-boarded during my weekly five-hour commutes to/from my last gig in Ohio.  The song had haunted me for months and I had a remarkable experience of suddenly seeing the words from a different perspective.  The spiral binder filled with the images for the lyrics in a few hours.  The hunt for images took a couple of months.  I was prowling radical websites to find images of the carnage and the stuff I found was bone chilling.  Those images would haunt anyone for a long time.  These sites have all been taken down now, I don’t know where they went.
When the photos of the returning soldier’s caskets were first released and then suppressed, I had already downloaded dozens of them, which led to the faces of the American citizens who were damaged, dead, or bereft with grief over the loss of their loved one.

I had many views on youtube and I made several attempts to contact Imogen Heap, via her website, to obtain permission to use the music but never got a response.  The comments on youtube were especially valuable to me, very little hate, a lot of strong reaction to the images and the music, very personal reactions.  That was very satisfying to me in that the shared expression of guilt and remorse somehow raises the general level of awareness of how such things can happen in our society… maybe… perhaps…

In any case, thanks for your interest.  As far as myself, right now, I am a house-husband, living with my wife for the first time since we got together eight years ago.  I’ve been on the road since 1998, working from China to the former East Germany.  Shareholders of manufacturing firms hire me to restructure, repair, revitalize, (sometimes save) their business.

I am also a programmer from the past (assembler, fortran, cobal, pascal, ada, module2) attempting to learn the modern technology (c, c++, objective c) to explore whether my skills are transferable to today and the possibility of a home business.  If not, I will be back on the road by October, probably working in Europe again.

Best regards,
Jim

Blog followers, come back!

I entreat you to forgive my absence. It was a whirlwind of PA work and now is a whirlwind of freelance work once again. As my peace offering with you, my fickle and google-search-buffered audience, I provide you with new content!!!

I was at a Yankee game on Sunday and wondered out loud, what would happen if a ball hit a bird? It must have happened before..turns out it did–whoa!!