Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How it went

Where to begin.

Last night was the world premiere of the movie I Co-Produced called "The Violent Kind." At Sundance. Yes, I notrorious late starter Don R. Lewis, had a film at Sundance. How does that happen?? I have no clue. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, my connection to Sundance is incredibly strong. When I first got interested in film, I started volunteering here and that was like, 16 years ago. So just the fact I was returning here with a FILM in the festival was incredibly emotional and extremely surreal.

I got in on Friday and we basically started drinking from the get-go. Lots of nervous energy was abounding in our condo which I'm sharing with the Butcher Bros, Arianne our PR gal, George our attorney and my hero, Michael Gibson. It's a nice spot really close to Main street which is cool. So yeah, we've been drinking into the wee hours everyday and believe it or not, that's not very healthy. We're all dragging ass today. Plus I bought an adrenaline pass which is good for any movie before 11:00 am and after 11:00 pm which is cool provided you're not out drinking until 3:00 am and sleeping until noon.

There's been lots of good buzz about the movie and it's been awesome seeing the crew that came out as well as all the cast here. The entire cast is here except for Nick Tagas which really bums me out. He's so great in the movie and is such a great guy, I wish he could've made it. So all day yesterday I just laid low so as not to freak myself out which I'm prone to do before screenings of my little short docs and I did a good job. Ate breakfast, had a nice dinner...chilled with friends. Then it was off to the premiere.

Our screening was at 11:30 and I got there at 10:30 as I was in charge of doling out tickets to the crew who made the trip. We had a red carpet which was fun. I really, really, really love our cast and am so proud they got to be in a Sundance movie. I've always been a big Cory Knauf, Joe Egender, Joe Mackelheer and Sam Childs supporter so seeing them get some Sundance love was amazing. And Tiffany Shepis and I go way back and if it wasn't for her agreeing to be in this film, I probably wouldn't have got to be a producer so seeing HER finally get a movie at Sundance was amazing. Plus the crew was so giddy and it just felt really great.

I should note that as I write this, it's not coming off NEARLY as exciting as it was, sorry..

So we all sat down right on time and Trevor Groth, who is just a great guy and an outstanding programmer introduced our film. It was at that moment the huge wave of emotion swept over me and it finally really struck me that I had a film in the motherfucking Sundance film festival. It's still just a trippy, surreal feeling and I've spent all day processing it. And being hungover. But processing it too. It means alot not only personally but professionally as well but in my typical fashion, that freaks me out and sends my mind spinning out of control as to what I should do next. Silly, but true. Anyway...

The lights dimmed and what seemed like a 2-hour trailer for the festival came on. My palms were sweating and my heart was pounding. Where's our damn movie!? Then, a really cool 10 minute short called "Still Birds" came on and again....it was like Hitchcockian tension. WHERE IS OUR FILM?!?! Finally, THE VIOLENT KIND began and it was amazing.

I had only seen a rough cut a few months back and I was non-plussed. The special effects weren't done then nor was the sound design and it was really long. I liked it, but couldn't totally fall in love with it because it was so rough. So seeing the completed version was unreal. UN. REAL. It's just a really, really strange, gross, fun movie and I thought it was a blast. However I can't get a feel for what people thought and that's really weird. It's kinda like free falling and not knowing where the ground is or when you'll land. I mean, not to sound dramatic, but it's strange not knowing what people think of your work. It's been eerily quiet out there which, I'll be honest, isn't very good news. But we have the press screening today and another screening tomorrow so I'll be neck deep in peoples opinions soon enough.

So after the film, we did the Q&A and I got to go up on the front stage area which, again,w as surreal. I've seen sooooo many great films and directors in the same spot I was standing so man, crazy. After that we had a party from 2:00-4:00 am and then went to some bizarro house across the street from our condo from 4:00-6:00 then I went home and crashed and woke up at noon once again and ate the hard ticket I had bought for a friends movie. I suck. Tonight I'm laying low and am actually planning on seeing a MOVIE that isn't ours. But before that I'll be stressing out on the twitter feed hearing what all my film critic friends think of the film after the press screening in an hour.

I have alot of friends who I respect their writing and opinions so I'm pretty nervous right now. But, it's so out of my control. I can't make them like it but I do hope they'll be fair. And not to be egomaniacal about it, but I'm sure there's alot of jealousy that I produced a film that got into Sundance. I can't think of a single film critic out there today who doesn't want to make movies so this opportunity I had could piss them off. But like I said, I just hope they'll be fair and enjoy the ride. The movies a trip and this whole experience has been a trip...but I'm ready to go home and see my girls and dog.

In the meantime I'm gonna chill and listen to "White Light" by Wilco a few times in order to keep perspective.

f you feel like singing a song
And you want other people to sing along
Just sing what you feel
Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong

And if you’re trying to paint a picture
But you’re not sure which colors belong
Just paint what you see
Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong

And if you’re strung out like a kite
Or stung awake in the night
It’s alright to be frightened

When there’s a light (what light)
There’s a light (one light)
There’s a light (white light)
Inside of you

If you think you might need somebody
To pick you up when you drag
Don’t loose sight of yourself
Don’t let anyone change your bag

And if the whole world’s singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on

And that’s not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight

Because there’s a light (what light)
There’s a light (one light)
There’s a light (white light)
There’s a light (what light)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Buy my newest film DRAG KING!!! (please)

Greetings readers! Look at that, 2 blog posts in a week!! This ones rather self serving though. Our newest short doc "Drag King" is available by clicking here now!

In 2007, John Beck and I took another long, strange trip in order to make a documentary about something crazy that exists, but that you might not get to see everyday. Each summer, residents of Lake County, California get together for The Fiberglass 500, a race in which people pull old, beat up boats around a race track with their demolition derby cars, trying to rip each others boats to shreds! Last man (or woman) standing wins.

Yes, you read that correctly. Cars pull boats around a racetrack and smash up the boats. It's frigging awesome and it's called "Drag King." We used 7 different cameras with 4 shooters and we only lost ONE camera! We were also fortunate enough to get Robert Malta of local legends hugeLARGE to add some music and I got the amazing 2 Cow Garage to lend me a song as well. It's a really fun little film.

"Drag King" was fortunate enough to appear at Cinequest in San Jose, the Austin Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, deadCENTER in Oklahoma City as well as the Beverly Hills Shorts Fest and the Big Easy Shorts Fest in New Orleans where it actually WON the programmers award for Best Documentary Short. Now we've made it available it you, the public.

For a mere $14.99, you can purchase this little slice of Americana redneck madness and bring it home to show your family and friends. You can tell them, "Hey! I know these Award Winning filmmakers!!" And most importantly, you can contribute money to help us pay for the hours of travel, therapy and rehab we endured in the making and promoting of the film.

But all joking aside, please buy a copy or 2 of "Drag King" and if you didn't already, buy a copy of our first doc "Stringers" while you're on the site (click here).

John and I are really proud of these films and by your purchase, you're helping us to get out there and make more movies. It's not cheap! Encourage friends of facebook, twitter and myspace to buy "Stringers" and "Drag King" as well. Forward this email to people who like fires, police, movies, documentaries and the like and ask them to buy a copy of "Stringers" or "Drag King," We'd really appreciate it.

Also, If at all possible, please create a new profile on "Createspace" as our royalty is much, much higher. However if you're in a hurry, I do believe clicking the link while you're signed into Amazon will allow you to purchase the film. But setting up a profile through this link: https://www.createspace.com/276233 takes about 3 minutes so please, do that!

Thanks for reading this far and thanks on advance for supporting our little films!!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top Ten Movies of 2009

Yes! It's BACK!! I posted my top 10 over at the new site I write for, Gordon and the Whale but since I figure you're all too lazy to look there (just as I've been too lazy to blog!) I'll post it here as well.

Keep in mind the following...

I've decided "best of" lists of the decade or year are silly because, lets face it, we haven't seen everything. I know I haven't. In fact, I've yet to see "Up in the Air" or "White Ribbon," both of which would likely have come into consideration. So my list is more like my favorite movies of 2009. That being said...


I walked into OBSERVE AND REPORT expecting, like many people did, a raunchy version of PAUL BLART: MALL COP. While others were pissed that OBSERVE AND REPORT was not a dirtier BLART, I was totally blown away by just how dark, funny, sad, and weird the film was and it’s stuck with me all year. In a cinematic world homogenized for the masses, where every character has to be likable and go through a positive change, OBSERVE AND REPORT is a throwback to seventies cinema where not everyone is likable and sometimes they just don’t change.


I’m a big fan of Lars von Trier, and I’ve always loved the way he kind of bullies us into facing fears about what we believe. I also think the guy is screwing with his audience so much that he doesn’t even believe what he’s saying or telling us more than half the time. But with ANTICHRIST, not only is he making audiences squirm the old-fashioned way, I think he’s actually reaching out to audiences and trying to connect with them. People get so wrapped up in the gory and crazy aspects of this film, but I think it’s the most beautifully shot and best acted film of the year.


Again, I went into WORLD’S GREATEST DAD not knowing what to expect. We’re all fairly sick of Robin Williams being “zany” and I feared he would be at full ham strength in this film. I was literally slack jawed by the end of this film and was almost in tears by how honest and moving the film was and, I loved the dark and twisted package it came in.


THE HURT LOCKER is bad ass. At first I was a little irritated by what I thought was a lack of character definition in Jeremy Renner’s Sgt. James. However, upon multiple viewings, I found there were much subtler character traits that I must have missed while clinging to the edge of my seat the first time through. For as ballsy as the action scenes are, there’s also a very nice little human story involved here and THE HURT LOCKER really is a complete package of a film.


I’m a sucker for those tales of rebel country stars who like to drink, smoke and screw so I was into CRAZY HEART from the word go. And it delivers on all those things but also tells a sweet story about a man who never had to grow up and his life is finally catching up to him. Being an artist can be tough on your soul and Jeff Bridges as “Bad Blake” wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s an awesome performance in a really great film.


The biggest question I had after seeing Wes Anderson’s FANTASTIC MR. FOX remains: is this his best film? And I consider myself one of the biggest Wes Anderson fans around so even wondering if FANTASTIC MR. FOX comes close to RUSHMORE is a daunting question and I don’t really have an answer. Not only is the animation spectacular, but the acting is the best I’ve ever seen in an animated film. Plus Anderson gets to use his borderline OCD obsession with set design to it’s full effect and the result is a fun and funny film with some nice observations about human nature.


THE MESSENGER is another one of this years films that reminded me of a 70’s drama and I loved it. Obviously the film is very current in it’s subject matter but the age old question of what war does to a man lingers on. While I still have some quibbles with some parts of the story, I still love the Woody Harrelson/Ben Foster one-two punch and I think about THE MESSENGER all the time.


BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS is a batshit crazy film. Nic Cage is batshit crazy in it, too, and I think this film might be the most fun I’ve had at a movie all year. Fans of the old on-the-edge Cage will be thrilled by this “re-imagining” of Abel Ferrara’s classic bad cop drama and Werner Herzog cashes his paycheck big time by going totally over the top with this film.


MOON is just about the perfect little slice of sci-fi and I don’t really consider myself a big fan of that genre. Even so, MOON is pretty irresistible and clever and Sam Rockwell is genius in it. I’d love to watch it repeatedly on DVD but alas, it’s still not available in the U.S. Hint…hint…

10. UP

Pixar does it again.

I'm still figuring out albums so that's forthcoming!