Monday, September 7, 2009

Help Name the Untitled Around the World Project!

We’ve been having trouble settling on a title for the as-yet Untitled Around the World Project. So let’s see what America thinks! Vote for your favorite title, America!

To inform your decision, you might want to look at our little temp website about the project here. The series boils down to this: our hero, Donovan, is backpacking through India when he becomes entangled in an ancient international conspiracy involving strange little rocks, secret agents, an enigmatic iPhone, and a ghost. This sends him on a chase around the world to solve said mysteries.

This may sound like a comedy, but really it’s more playful than wacky; it's often quite serious. We’re looking for a title that reflects this mix of tones. (To use vampire shows as examples, this project is less comical than “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but slightly more comical than “True Blood.” Plus add a dash of indie-film sensibility.)

So, here are twelve possible titles, in three duplicate polls. Vote in the first poll for your favorite title, the second for your second favorite, and the third for your third.

If you have any alternate title suggestions or brainstorms, please write them in the comments! And hey, if you come up with the title that eventually gets used, I’ll give you like $50!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Lost Coast at the Jacob Burns Film Center in New York

The Lost Coast will be playing as part of Out at the Movies, a special program at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York (just a hop skip and jump from NYC). The program is curated by the venerable Basil Tsiokos, former director of NewFest.

Three screenings of The Lost Coast, and actor Ian Scott McGregor (Jasper) will be there for a Q&A at the final screening.

So tell all your New York friends to go out and see the film!

You can buy tickets online. Here's the info:

Out at the Movies at the Jacob Burns Film Center:
Tuesday, May 26, 5:15PM
Sunday, May 31, 7:15PM
Wednesday, June 3, 7:15PM (Q&A with actor Ian Scott McGregor)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Survive Cannes Without Really Trying

In honor of the Cannes Film Festival, going on right now, I thought I might impart some lessons I learned while at Cannes 2008 with the Wendy and Lucy team.

Left to right: myself, producer Anish Savjani,
co-writer Jon Raymond,
and producer Neil Kopp.

Here is what I learned:

1. It’s pronounced “can”, as in: “yes, I can drink a can of Schweppes in the canteen in Cannes. And then go to the can. Because my bladder is now full of Schweppes."

2. Bring your wallet. And your ATM card. And your parents’ credit card. And a line of credit. And be sure your unemployment checks clear before you get on the plane.

3. If you’re getting new business cards made, put “+1” in front of your phone number. That way people know you’re cool and international, and no one back home will think you’re snooty at all. Why would they?

4. The dress code: Cannes is famous for mandatory tuxedos at screenings (this is only true for evening screenings in one theater). I was all freaked out about going to France in a bad tuxedo. Guess what? 95% of the men at Cannes look like idiots in their tuxedos: ill-fitting, their trousers a different shade of black from their jacket, and all way out of style. Turns out the French can be fashion accidents too. Oh, and by the way, unless you know how to tie a real bow-tie, just bring a clip-on. Real bow-ties are freakin’ hard to tie. And no matter how much you brag about your real bow-tie, nobody cares. In fact you may “accidentally” get a drink poured on you if you mention it too many times.

Tying bow-ties is easy for man-about-town Neil Kopp
(seen here assisting me with my tie).
Neil can do anything required of the suave.

5. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by film commerce. If you picture Cannes as an highfalutin celebration of obscure art cinema, it’s not. It’s primarily a film market for all sorts of horror films, teen-sex comedies, low-budget sci-fi, what-have-you, all packed into a trade-show style convention center. Sometimes the film festival part feels like an afterthought.

6. Cannes is filled with paparazzi, and the seriousness with which the French regard celebrity puts US Weekly to shame. The festival is like the Oscars, except without Joan Rivers there to remind you how silly it all is. Unless you’re a celebrity, or Harvey Weinstein, nobody at the festival, including the paparazzi, cares about you.

See how the paparazzi are completely ignoring poor Neil and Anish?
And they put on real bow-ties and everything! Just how suave do you have
to be to get some attention around here!?!

7. Don’t ever say “I’ll buy this round of drinks!” unless you want to end up paying $180 for six beers. (And why even pay for booze? There’s got to be a Weinstein party around here somewhere…)

Chillin’ with the free booze at the Weinstein party.

8. Speaking of parties, never go to a party on the Bud Light yacht. I mean, obviously, the terms “But Light” and “yacht” are not meant to go together (“Bud Light” and “houseboat,” sure).

9. And by the way, just because you work for P. Diddy doesn’t mean you can get into his stupid party. (Thanks a lot, four years at MTV.)

Moving on to advice about attending screenings:

10. Try to sit next to empty seats at a premiere. The famous people come in late and take the last few spots. (I got to touch elbows with Gael Garcia Bernal for two straight hours!)

Fortunately he didn’t remember me from this altercation
we had
at the Telluride Film Festival some years earlier
(yes, that's really Gael Garcia Bernal, and yes, that's really me).

11. Every film, no matter how much you like it, requires a ten minute standing ovation, where everyone stares at the filmmakers and claps until their hands hurt. Kind of like how it’s impossible to get a bad grade at Harvard: if you’re in Cannes already, they you must deserve a ten minute standing-o, right?

This is the standing-o for The Class. Okay, this film did deserve it.

And finally, advice on attending your own screening:

12. Don’t worry that you have no idea when or where to walk on the red carpet. The red carpet experience is surreal: basically all you have to do is walk up some stairs, but somehow it feels like climbing a mountain. In a tuxedo. With blinding lights in your eyes. Fortunately the paparazzi will ignore you. If you have a celebrity with you, they will only take pictures of her, and they will scream at you to get out of the way if you happen to get between them and their shot of said celebrity.

This is a little video I took with my still camera of our red-carpet
walk. (This was almost as surreal as
the time I was on
"The Price is Right." But that's another blog entirely.)

13. While walking down the carpet, try not to think about how everyone in the theater waiting for your screening is watching a live video feed of you getting yelled at by the paparazzi.

Michelle Williams (on the screen) during the red carpet for
Synedoche, New York, as we wait for them to get their
asses inside so we can watch the movie.

14. At the end of your screening, try not to be blinded by the bright lights aimed at you, and somehow try not to be embarrassed by everyone clapping at you for ten minutes.

15. Oh, and if you get the opportunity to watch director Spike Jonze get hoisted up the 150 foot mast of a luxury sailboat owned by an Italian liquor magnate, you should do that.


Follow these 15 easy rules and you’ll survive a week in Cannes with nothing worse than a bad hangover and a $5000 hole in your bank account.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I missed you so much, let's blog right here and now

Hello loyal blog readers. I’m back. Wait, let me speak first:

I know you’re angry. I know, I know. Those feelings you’re feeling are valid, I totally understand. So please let me apologize.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I sweet-talked you, wooed you into subscribing to my blog only to leave your inbox, and your heart, empty. I’m sorry.

The thing was, I was just really busy-

No, no, let me finish! This isn’t an excuse, just an explanation.

I thought we needed some time apart. A break, so to speak. I had to go out into the world, sow some, what are they? Well, let’s just say I had to see some other blogs. I subscribed to many other blogs while we were apart-

No, no, let me finish! I don’t say that to upset you! Not at all, it’s just that I feel I must be upfront! Honesty! Honesty is the bedrock of a healthy blog, right?

Right. I knew you’d be reasonable and see it my way.

I had to see what was out there, you know? What my options were. So I subscribed to many other blogs while we were apart. I hope you did too. You had every right to, every right.

Well, I hope you didn’t subscribe to that many blogs, I mean, it’s only been like eight months. I assume you subscribed to like, less than three other blogs, right?

More than three!?!


You really get around.

No, no, I’m not angry. I just thought you had more self-control is all.

(Huh, as a side note, maybe you should go and get your computer tested for viruses before we start blogging again. I trust you, I know you were safe, but just in case. You always used a Mac, right?)

Anyway, now that I’m back, I’m ready. I’m ready to settle. No! Not settle for you, I meant settle down! Settle down! Of course. You always misinterpret me, you really need to learn to listen better.

Anyway, I’m back, and I hope we can make this work. I promise to blog with you whenever you want, and blog with your needs in mind. I promise to never leave your subscription wanting again.

I mean, within reason. We’re not making a life commitment here. I’m not ready for that. No, no, hold on-

Jesus, just give me a little space here. Here we go with the smothering already! Just give me a year- let’s just put this conversation off for a year, okay?

Oh, I’m so glad you’re seeing reason! That’s so great! See? I’m good for you! You love my blog! My blog is pretty much the best thing you’ve got going for you!

So welcome back, I know how you’ve missed me.



Oh, and remember that 20 bucks you owe me? I could really use that back right now. I’m jonesing for a Coke Zero and I’m kind of having cash-flow issues at the moment…