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Hipstercrite: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blogger vs. Wordpress? Wordpress Won!

Ok, guys. It's finally happening. That blog redesign I told you about earlier this year and I kept saying was going to happen and it never happened and you were probably thinking that I was full of shit, well, it's finally happening!

Next week Hipstercrite 2.0 will officially launch!

It won't be all crazy different. The biggest differences are that I switched over to Wordpress and that the layout is now magazine style. Design-wise the aesthetic is still minimal since I have limited resources and limited skills in making it all fluffy. Plus, I like modernism? My wonderful web designer is making the blog transition seamless, so you shouldn't have to do anything. If you are following me through a reader, everything will stay the same and the URL is staying the same. Oh, and I finally got hip with the times and got me some tabs! Now my posts will be categorized by such phrases as "Music", "Pop culture", "Austin", and "20-something" etc.

My goal all a long has been to have a blog where I can talk about different things without the blog seeming disjointed. I want to talk about Austin things, but if you're not from Austin and could give a flying shit about Austin, you could read my 20-something musings or pop culture ramblings instead without having to sift through stuff. Or vice versa. This current one column setup on Blogger made me feel that this goal was unachievable.

While I was hemming and hawing over redesigning my blog, I wrote a blog post called Blogger vs. Wordpress where I discuss the pros and cons to both blogging platforms. I was torn between staying with Blogger- something I was comfortable with and use to, but ultimately unhappy with because of the limited customizing options and my inability to find a web designer who enjoyed working with Blogger OR switch over to Wordpress which is ultimately more customizable but would require money (not an ass load though), migration and hiring someone who actually knows what the hell they are doing. If you're a blogger thinking of making a similar switch, I can tell you that if you're slightly smarter than me, which you probably are (I didn't do well on my SATs), you probably won't have to hire someone to do the migration for you. I understood about 75% of what was required to make a smooth transition from Blogger to Wordpress- getting myself self-hosted and installing the Woo Theme I purchased- but the other 25% of uncertainty made me horribly insecure that I would somehow blow my blog up. Specifically migrating my blog with all it's content and followers over to Wordpress. The nice thing about Wordpress is that once you're set up on there, it's pretty easy to figure out.

If you're thinking of making this change and don't feel comfortable doing it yourself like me, before you go shopping for web designers online, talk to your web savvy friends and see if they can help you. For a lot less you will probably be able to find a friend who can help. I was getting initial quotes from web designers upward to $2,000 for absolutely no reason. Make sure you find someone who understands what you're looking for and don't be afraid to ask questions!

Blogger, our time together is coming to an end. I won't have to look at your '60s-era logo and features anymore. I will say that I am a wee bit sad and nostalgic right now. You were my introduction to the blogging world and you have been good to me. Maybe one day we'll meet again, but for now....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Forgive Student Loan Debt!

I don't know about you, but I have debt.

Car loan debt, credit card debt, and school loan debt.

The car is almost paid off and I'm two years into a four year plan of paying off my credit card debt.
My school loan debt, on the other hand, has a few years to go. I'm one of the lucky ones though. I have roughly $10,000 left to pay on my school loan. The average college graduate owes $24,000. I know people who owe $40,000, $60,000, $80,000 and up and can't find work OR or are stuck in a job they don't like but can't afford to leave.

One of my favorite reads is Huffington Post's ongoing "Majoring in College Debt" series where they encourage readers to discuss how much college debt they're in. Some of the stories are downright frightening- students owing over $200,000, making coffee shop wages, or being harassed by their lenders. One man shared his story of owing over $250,00 for medical school and the great lengths his lender went to try and f*ck him over. While he was working his residency his lender labeled his as a graduate and demanded he start paying back his loan. He tried to explain that they were wrong, but no one would listen. They threatened him with everything they could. It wasn't until he went to the media that the lender finally listened.

Stories like these scare me. How do they expect people to afford school? How do they expect people to want to go to school knowing that they will have a dark money cloud constantly hanging above them? I've thought about going back to school myself, but the idea of taking out more loans is not appealing to me. I make just enough to pay my bills now, why would I want to add to that? Have you gone back to school as an adult while working full-time? How did it work for you? Was it worth it?

Student loan debt is a burden that many of us have and we are often prisoner to it. If I didn't have my college loan debt and all it's interest to pay each month I would be ten times more likely not to be a tight wad.

Currently a petition created by MoveOn's Robert Applebaum is going around calling for Congress to forgive college debt. It explains that by forgiving college debt, consumer spending would go up and we all know how scared everyone is to spend right now- me included. Maybe this is just the shot in the arm we need to get out of this terrible recession. The petition currently has 423,492 and his growing. Democratic Michigan Rep. Hansen Clark has decided to take this action on. Who knows how far this will get, but it never hurts to try, right?

Do you think forgiving student loan debt will help the economy?

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Become a Social Media Manager

I mentioned two weeks ago that I finally made the leap from 9-5er to freelancer. I'm still acclimating to the change and trying not to feel guilty about waking up at 9:30AM and working in my underwear. Listen, I know that sounds all wonderful-like and you're thinking, "Shut your face!", but I have to figure out stuff like getting my own health insurance, paying quarterly taxes and hoping that none of this falls apart, so there.

My freelance works involves two regular writing gigs and one social media managing gig.
It still dumbfounds me that anyone would pay me for my writing. There is this semi-prevalent concern that one day people will call me out on the fact that I can't write at all. But if I've learned anything from my "How to Make it as a Freelancer" research, that attitude is a no-no. Believing in yourself is the only way you're going to be successful. So far both publications I write for haven't said, "Get lost, assface!" so I must be doing something right.

The social media managing gig stemmed from a conversation I had with the producer on the film I currently work for at a mutual friend's birthday party. I started going off about Twitter and blogging and we both realized that I was a nerd had the skills to be a good social media manager (and losing the skills to being a normal, healthy human being). She offered me a gig on her movie and so far it's been a blast. Having gotten really into social media because of my blog, it's been interesting and exciting starting from square one on another person's project. It's like planting a seed and watching it grow.

I used to not like social media. Or rather, I hated Twitter, had no idea what LinkedIn was, and wrote my blog without advertising it on any platform other than occasionally Facebook. It wasn't until I moved to Austin- the #8 most socially networked city in the country- that I realized how important social media has become with anything and everything. If you have something to sell- business, band, blog, you name it- you are greatly missing out by not partaking in social media. Granted people have sold ideas and products for centuries without the use of Twitter, but now we have this 100s of millions-reaching marketing and advertising resource to us for free. A resource that is effective depending on how much you put into. The more dedicated you are, the better the results. It's challenging, it's engaging, and it's fun. You get to meet people from all over the world, people in your city, celebrities, reps from major corporations and startups, artists, and people who have nothing to sell at all- they just love social media. As I mentioned before, for an only child you spent a lot of time talking to stuffed animals as a child, social media is the megaphone to the world I had always dreamed of.

I've been utilizing the tools I've learned from managing my own social media accounts to my new gig. What to do and not to do (like tweeting every single lyric to your favorite song back-to-back). I joined Hootsuite and keep my fingers crossed that I don't have a #gettinslizzerd moment (considering I don't drink much anymore, I doubt I'll have a boozed-fueled rogue tweet such as the one that appeared on @Redcross, but I do have to be careful not to drop the f word, Jeff Goldblum-musings, or late-night Wendy's takeout rants on my work account). I've learned through the years about social media etiquette, the fine line of self-promotion, how to create conversation, how to build up followership through meaningful content and connections, and the art of summing up what you're trying to say in 140 characters or less. It's a world I love and am excited to be a part of.

But enough small talk. So how does one become a social media manager? Well, I'll be honest, I have no seminar to sell you or a long list of steps to becoming one. I have one very clear and simple answer- you have to love the living shit out of social media if you want to become a social media manager. If you do, then you're already a step above the rest. You have a skill that many others don't. You've learned the game. You have become a master of something, a "thought leader" in the ever-expanding bubble known as social media. You also have the resources to find that social media managing job. You're going to know where to look for those jobs and who to talk to.

So what are you waiting for?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We're Almost Finished Making a Movie!

We just wrapped our Austin shoot on Loves Her Gun. The gang is now en route to NYC in a Winnebago that looks like this:

Our three week shoot in Austin has been awesome. We had so many wonderful cast and crew helping to make this movie something special. The footage looks great and we had some amazing talent in front of the camera. Our lead actress, Trieste Kelly Dunn, has starred in the IFC film Cold Weather, the indie hit Vacation!, and starred on the law drama Canterbury's Law. Here is a picture of Trieste getting bruised by our make-up artist Liz Rische.
photo by Brandi
Our lead actor, Francisco Barreiro, happens to be one of the hottest talents coming out of Mexico City and we are so lucky to be able to work with him. His last movie, We Are What We Are, a film about a cannibalistic family living in LA, premiered in Cannes and Fantastic Fest last year!

Our film also stars the absolutely adorable Austin-based actress Ashley Spillers and NYC writer/director/actor Geoff Lerer (who also was our butt-kicking 1st AD)
I co-wrote Loves Her Gun with my sweetie pie, Geoff Marslett. This badass guy below:
photo by Patrick Rusk
Here are the two of us in San Marcos getting underwater footage for the film.

Loves Her Gun has definitely had it's challenges but nothing abnormal for an indie film shoot. In fact, the shoot was pretty seamless. Whether you're shooting a $100 million studio flick or a $20,000 indie flick, movie production is exhausting, stressful, but hugely rewarding. The cast and crew become a family and we're so excited to see how the movie turns out. Loves Her Gun is about female empowerment and we had several amazing women working behind the camera. Below are some pics from the set. You can see more on our Tumblr page.

Our DIT and script supervisor Brandi
Our DP Amy figuring out the shot at Wheatsville Co-Op
Renee, our sound operator extraordinaire!

 The Karate Kids come out at night! (photo by Patrick Rusk)

The cast and crew of Loves Her Gun
Partial cast and crew on their way to the NYC shoot

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

She Only Dreams in Black & White

if she was able to count them all, she would see that 12,456 people have passed through her life. she will have met 65,657 by the end.

there was her kindergarten teacher who told her she'd be a flight attendant some day (she did not), the manager at her first job, and the young man she went out on two dates with but decided on the first date that she didn't like him because of his inability to talk about anything other than himself. she will never know what happened to them. she will never hear that the first one died of cancer seventeen later. her former boss still manages the restaurant she only thinks of twice a year, randomly, when someone mentions the word "skillet". the last one is married now and lives with his wife and two kids in new jersey.

don't they all live in new jersey?

she doesn't have romantic notions anymore because she's exactly where she wants to be. as she lies on his bed, watching the pattern the sun makes through the trees, she touches the sheets to remind herself of this. she thinks of the first time they met and she realizes there will never be another moment like that. now there is a love, when before it was about the possibility. no more feeling the rush of "what if" because his secrets are hers now. they combined storylines.

today on her bike ride home she noticed a dog thoughtfully looking at a tree and a team building exercise involving segways. when she spoke to her grandmother later that day, she didn't mention either of these things. she couldn't think of anything to talk about. her brain have had given up the ability to imagine anything. this concerned her grandmother who in turn told her mother that she thought something was wrong with her.

she had a dream last night that her hair had turned gray. when she woke up, she went to the mirror to examine and noticed that two stubby gray hairs had sprouted in her part. what it meant, she wasn't sure. all she knew as that in pictures of herself now she looks like the woman she was meant to become. someone vaguely familiar.

but the picture hasn't become clear yet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Looking to Songs for Answers

Tonight I saw Arcade Fire, a band I affixed great emotional significance to a long time ago. I recall lonely nights of drinking to, jerking off to, or crying to their first album Funeral. Of thinking that the swell in each song would carry me away to the place I was meant to be at. At 21 years of age and meandering into adulthood, their gospel held truths that I was meant to study and adhere to. When Neon Bible came out, it was the same thing. An organ meant proclamation. Of what? I'm not sure. Either way they were the gateway to the beginning of it all. Or so I thought.

So tonight, in a large field in the middle of Austin, I closed my eyes and tried to stir the nostalgia for a time I looked to songs for answers, but it just wasn't coming. I closed my eyes more tightly and concentrated as hard as I could. I kicked the dirt over the memories of lying on my bedroom floor hitting repeat on "Rebellion (Lie)" thinking that eventually the song might make me burst into a million tiny pieces. I dug deep for the memory of when I saw Arcade Fire alone in Los Angeles, a pilgrimage to find direction when I was considering leaving the life I knew and head anywhere else. But tonight, I had no great epiphany, no dropping to the knees. Instead I listened, I enjoyed and nothing changed.

And I realized, my life currently has no soundtrack.

Music is an important part of the human experience. Without it, I believe we're nothing. It acts as the backdrop to the story of our lives, often changing from chapter to chapter or staying with us for a lifetime. For me, I have my bands that have stayed constant: Talking Heads never wavering at the number one spot, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello. All the tried true standards. Then there are the ones that came and went, the flings that represented my age and my setting: Dave Matthews Band (high school), Ben Folds Five (high school), Arcade Fire (LA), Modest Mouse (LA), Bloc Party (LA), Wolf Parade (LA) etc. Hey, don't judge.

Currently, all I have are my staples and nothing else. Nothing else that has quite inspired me.

I live in the city known as "the live music capital of the world" and I'm completely clueless as to what is going on in music. Just like when I lived in LA, when you live in a city that is built around a certain industry you tend to shy away from it, overwhelmed with it's vice-like grip on the city. When everyone scrambles to eat up the daily concerts and various festival line-ups, I retreat, overwhelmed by it all. Where do I even begin? What if I don't like the band? What if it's crowded? What if it's too loud? What am I even looking for anymore?

I'm losing my edge, but I'm not really sure I ever had it. Maybe I'm not necessarily even concerned with that. I kind of miss the days where I needed music as an emotional crutch. I'm no longer in a place where I seek it and I realize how much I am missing out on. Being in a substantially happier state than I was in my early 20's has left me listening to light and fluffy stuff, songs I can dance to and make me smile. There is nothing wrong with that, but watching Arcade Fire tonight made me realize that I no longer listen to anything that stirs me.

Am I afraid to go to that dark place again?

Friday, September 16, 2011

This Post IS About ACL, but NOT About ACL Afterparties. Sorry.

Well, it appears that I am going to ACL! A photographer friend was nice enough to hook me up with a
writing gig. I will be writing a recap of the festival for Consequence of Sound- a New York and Chicago-based music blog. I'm pretty stoked, but running late, so I have to go!

Check out this post I wrote over at CultureMap. It is a dialogue between my mother and I on the line-up for this year's ACL fest. Who does she think sucks ass? Who does she thinks rocks? That woman is full of surprises.

Gosh, I love her...


My mother and I have dramatically different music tastes. When I was a young girl, I’d listen to her record collection from the 60s and 70s while she bought the latest Top 40 CDs. As she bounced around the house singing songs from Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It" or Right Said Fred's "I Have No Idea What the Album is Called Nor Do I Care—two albums she still proudly listens to—I was mimicking David Byrne's dance moves in front of the TV while watching the newly discovered 15th anniversary release of Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense."...

I'm going to ACL this year, and I was curious to see what my mother's stance was on the headliners. Do we still differ in tastes? Has she meandered over into the indie realm yet or is she still stuck in 1995?
I played my mother excerpts from this year's headliners' most famous songs. Our conversation went as follows:

Ryan Bingham:"Hallelujah"
Mom: (snickering)
Me: What are you laughing at?
Mom: I like the guitar, but it sounds like he needs to clear his throat.
Me: You don't like?
Mom: No. When he started singing, I was like "Whoa!" I turned down the volume to see if it would sound better. It didn't.
Me: What rating do you give him?
Mom: I'd give him a four out of ten and a cough drop.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Wanted to be a Narcissistic Middle-Aged Jewish Man as a Kid: How to Become Woody Allen

The other evening I watched Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Manhattan for the first time in a long time. While watching the film, I was reminded of how badly I wanted to be a middle-aged narcissistic Jewish male as a child. Forget being the Little Mermaid or Rainbow Brite, I wanted to be a freakin' horn-rimmed balding and big-nosed kvetch.

It should have been disconcerting to my mother that a young girl from Upstate New York would want to mold her future personality traits after someone such as Woody Allen. However, considering I had a penchant for dressing up as other short, but less narcissistic Jewish men- most notably 2 out of 5 of the Marx Brothers and Rod Serling- I guess it should have come as no surprise.

I recalled the other evening the precise feeling I had when I first watched those films. It was as if the light bulb had finally been turned on. Here were these people who lived in New York City, were unapologetically self-aware, vocally insecure, and flailed their arms around incessantly when they talked. Being an only child of Jewish lineage, I was already predestined to two out of four of these describing factors. All I needed was to move to New York City- the city she idolized all out of proportion.

Why are the characters within the world of Woody Allen so attractive to us? Why do we fall for these narcissistic anti-heroes? They're not contributing anything to the world other than a lot of hot air. They're self-serving, loud, and easily annoyed. They can't relate to anyone other than their overtly flawed friends and they're typically pessimistic of everything. On paper that sounds like a total winner, huh? So what is it? Is it that we appreciate their gaul? Do we secretly wish we had the balls to talk so incessantly about ourselves?

Whatever it is, I've taken note of what steps it's are needed to become one.

How to Become a Character in a Woody Allen Movie:

Use Fluffy Words- Such as "transplendant" or "devasting" when describing something as minute as a brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. This will make whomever you're talking to both equally want to punch you and jump your bones.

Jew- Being Jewish is the epicenter of your entire being. You're convinced that everyone on the street knows that you're Jewish and is muttering subliminal anti-semantic rant while interacting with you. Being Jewish will make up 30% of your conversations with people even though you haven't gone to synagogue ever.

Date Someone, Get Bored with Them- It doesn't matter if they're an underage model or a journalist for Rolling Stone, dump 'em. They may be more substantially more beautiful than you but they'll never be as interesting as you think you are.

It's All About the Glasses- What's the best sort of glasses you can wear? Ones that accentuate your already huge snoz. Remember, you're trying to model yourself after Groucho Marx after all.

Bergman, Bergman, Bergman- Keep repeating that name over and over because it's the only thing you should talk about. Bring Ingmar Bergman up in the most inappropriate time in conversation. Somebody's wife just passed away? Bring up Bergman! Your doctor is doing a prostate exam? BERGMAN! If you run out of Bergman anecdotes, throw in something about Normal Mailer or F. Scott Fitzgerald while you bide time looking up Bergman facts on your iPhone.

Get Analytical- Start seeing a shrink in order to have about 40% of all conversations with family members, friends, and strangers be about what you and your shrink talked about that day. Explain your life in terms of Freud as a way to not apologize for any narcissistic tendencies you may have. Talk about how your shrink may be more f'ed up than you are, but you refuse to see any one different.

New York, New York- Though you will complain about it ALL OF THE TIME, you can not live anywhere other than New York. Your pessimism is parallel with the stereotypical negativity known in the city. If someone took you out of NYC, you would shrivel up and die. You're afraid of anything that isn't dirty, loud, or gray. Though you may talk trash about the city, you view it within the rose color-tinted glasses of Gershwin tunes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Freelancer Diet

this stock photo came up when i googled "freelance"- obviously all freelancers are ex-businesspeople whose life choice banished them to walking the desert alone with birds

I've discovered the secret to losing ten pounds instantly: become a freelancer and live in constant state of fear.

Last week was my first week ever not working a 9-5.
It was exciting and terrifying and freeing and exhausting.
I've been working towards this goal both subconsciously and finally consciously for the past eight years. Now that it is finally here, I'm like, "Dear Mother of God! I'm a woman on the loose!" I enjoy the analogy that @bbrosmarty shared with me: "We liken it to becoming a wild animal. You're free from the zoo- but you have to find your own dinner." Does this mean I'll have to grow my nails out and sharpen my teeth now?

Earlier this year as my freelance writing began to pick up I finally came to the conclusion that these 9-5 office jobs were getting old. Even when I worked in LA, I worked out of an office and I was always having to care for someone or something that in the end I didn't care much for. My Momma raised me to worry about things like a consistent paycheck and health insurance, so flying solo did not seem like a good option. The terrible posture I was developing from sitting in a chair, the Carpal Tunnel, the poorly circulated pancake ass were all afflictions I told myself that I could deal with. However, when my last job told me I couldn't freelance write, I very quietly and internally decided then that I was done. No more kidding myself. It has taken me most of my twenties to figure out what the hell I want to do- writing- and I'll be damned if someone gets in the way of that.

Not having a regimented schedule is confusing. It makes me feel guilty. Not going into an office and waking up at 10AM and working in my underwear is wrong, right? Even though I was glued to my computer all day and every day last week. I was afraid that if I wasn't working on my computer at least the entire day, than I was seen as lazy. By who? I'm not sure. The little labor elves who tell you that the corporate lifestyle is the only way to go.

Right now I'm sitting on my couch typing this. The front door is open. The sun shines down on my scorched cracked lawn. A rooster crows from behind my house. I just ate a cookie. My boyfriend is still asleep in the other room. He was up until 6AM shooting our feature film. I'm thinking of walking somewhere to get a breakfast taco. I will work on one of my jobs from 1PM to 6PM today. I will not have to drive an hour outside of town to do this. I will not have to say hi to 15 different co-workers. I should be reveling in this, but it's just too foreign to even comprehend!

I'm learning that it is up to me to create a schedule, to set up some sort of normalcy to my new found freedom. Maybe I try this: Wake up every day at nine. Lauren, you should really go buy a coffee maker. Block the 1st hour for the blog, block the next 4+ hours for your new social media managing and PR gig. Make sure to eat somewhere in that time. Try to break the habit of getting lunch at Whole Foods, ok? Maybe do some stretching? Stop and smell a freakin' flower while you're at it. Maybe you should learn yoga? But can you afford to go to yoga with your new income? You know, you're going to have to set money aside for taxes. What about health insurance? You're healthy, but you're not invincible! YOU'RE NOT INVINCIBLE! Block another 2 hours for any freelance writing. Read a book or watch a movie to keep the creative juice flowing. Your writing is starting to sound stale. Make sure you got your good dose of social media lovin' in today, THEN PUT THE GOD FORSAKEN COMPUTER DOWN, LAUREN! Put it down! Give it to me. You can do it, you can do it. That's a girl. How does that feel? Do you feel better? Can you even hear me? What's that glossed over look in your eyes? Are you still thinking about your computer? Are you? ARE YOU?!?

I found this blog, The Anti 9-tp-5 Guide, while Googling "How to Adjust to the Freelance Life" and I can't wait to dive in. If I learn anything over the next few weeks, I'll keep you posted. Otherwise, any tips that you have will be helpful so I don't lose my sheeot.

Friday, September 09, 2011

When Movie Productions Go Bad

Working on a low-budget indie film is new to me. When I worked in Hollywood I worked for big people and therefore there was big money put into the films (in other words I worked on pieces of crap). Everything was taken care of on set- food, transportation, accommodations- and you only had to worry about your own duties and not making eye contact with ANYONE.

On a low-budget, guerrilla-style indie feature, none of this applies. Typically cast and crew wear many hats, eat homemade meals, and sleep on air mattresses. As stressful as it sounds, it can be a lot of fun because the ego involved in Hollywood is nonexistent. Everyone is the same and all working towards the same goal. They're working on the project because they believe in it.

Currently we have 6 people sleeping in a 3 bedroom house with only 1 bed and 4 couches including one couch from the set of Tree of Life. We are all sleep-deprived and pushed to the max. Daily needs like eating, showering, and peeing have gone out the window. Needless to say, people are toughing it out but the shoot is going pretty swimmingly.

Marveled at how well the shoot is going with the lack of resources available to us, I thought about famous film productions that have not gone well- whether they had studio money backing them or not. A few come to mind and I'd love for you to add any more that you've heard of!

"I love the smell of burning through studio money in the morning!"
Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 masterpiece had to be the biggest shitfest any film crew and cast has ever seen. The film definitely takes the prom queen crown for most cray-cray. Suicide attempts, heart attacks, bloated budgets and bellies, typhoons, drugs, and napalm define the setting for this film. The six week production turned into 16 months and Coppola ended up spending millions of his own dollars after he went way over budget. The stress from the film made Coppola turn into a little bitch, often threatening suicide on location in the Philippines. Marlon Brando ate himself into oblivion and showed up on set fat and refusing to learn his lines. Coppola had to get creative during shooting and hide Brando's food baby and he also had to read aloud Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness so Brando had an idea of what movie he signed up to do. 12 months into production Martin Sheen cracked and had a minor heart attack at the age of 38. Coppola shot over 200 hours of film and it took him 3 years to edit. Oh, there was also something about a typhoon destroying the set, cast members getting drunk and doing drugs, napalming the shit out of trees and slaughtering a water buffalo. All of this can be seen in the documentary Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.

"Werner, how can you shoot this face?"

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

What do you get when you mix a feisty German director with a feisty German actor? Fingertips blown off, murder attempts, sword swingin', and monkey trappin'. Werner Herzog's 1972 classic Aguirre: The Wrath of God stars Klaus Kinski as Lope de Aguirre- a conquistador who traveled down the Amazon River to find El Dorado. Snooze, right? Well Herzog never lets his shit get boring- in front of or behind the camera! Remember when he got shot by a bb gun in the middle of an interview? Well, guns seems to be a staple in Herzog world. Volatile Klaus got excited one night with a gun an accidentally shot an extra's finger off. He also bopped one on the head with a sword nearly killing him. When Kinski threatened to walk off set, Herzog countered his threat by telling him he would kill him, then himself. I would have liked to seen the CSI episode of that. A funny side note- Herzog paid locals to trap 400 monkeys to be use on set. The trappers sold the monkeys to someone else and Herzog intervened the delivery of the monkeys by saying he was a veterinarian and he needed to give them vaccinations. Herzog then stuck the monkeys in his jeep and drove away...sounds about right.

"Listen, I want you to just ignore the air strikes, ok?"

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Though I have not seen the documentary Lost in La Mancha based off this 2002 nonexistent film by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp, it is common story told throughout film school of a filmmaker's WORSE ABSOLUTE FUCKING NIGHTMARE. One the first day of shooting The Man Who Killed Don Quixote the crew discover that they were near a NATO target practice location. This f'ed up the sound and made it impossible to shoot. How this oversight happened is beyond me. I'm guessing that location manager got his ass slapped. The very next day, a random storm blew over the notoriously dry location and washed equipment away. When the storm passed through, the barren area was newly green and not appropriate for the shoot. Not long after all this jazz, the lead actor, Jean Rochefort, was diagnosed with a double herniated sic and was unable to act as Quixote. At this point, Gilliam threw in the towel- but not for long. Rumors are circulation that he will attempt to revive the film with Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor starring. Let's hope they the Quixote curse has lifted.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Things They Lost In the Fire

photo by Keye TV of Bastrop, TX
Right now, surrounding Austin is on fire.
Small pockets in Austin are on fire.
Yesterday, I was having drinkings with a friend at the Black Star Co-Op (the world's first co-operatively owned and worker self-managed brewpub) and noticed a plume of black smoke behind her shoulder. The smoke cloud could not be more than a few miles away in Central Austin and we both got concerned. The entire city is combusting, I thought to myself. We scrambled to Twitter to see what was going on (both our first go-to for news) and didn't see anything. Later we learned that a fire started about a mile away but was quickly extinguished. Over 40 counties are on fire in Texas and local news reports new fires in Austin daily.

Everyone is on edge right now and heartbroken over the destruction the fires have caused, most notably the Bastrop fires. Over 550 homes have been damaged in Bastrop.

It's eerie how this complete annihilation can be occurring so close yet not touching us at all. This morning we all got a reminder when we woke to a hazy, smoky air. I walked out to my car and sniffed the wind, having momentarily forgotten what I cannot see across the horizon. Things can be taken so quickly.

Our script supervisor Brandi had to evacuate their family home in Bastrop. Her father initially stayed behind to hose down the house, but when it became too dangerous, he left. Her family is now staying in hotel and anxiously waiting to hear what has happened to their house. The sweet girl has continued to show up to work though the look of worry on her face tells us things are close. She heard a rumor that the fire could have jumped over her house, but she really has no idea yet. The fire is now only 30% contained after four days.

A few years ago, my friend's lost everything in one of the yearly fires in Southern California. Seven friends lived on a ranch in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County. The property was bought by a young USC graduate who wanted to have a place where he and his friends could create. I was connected because of a childhood friend who lived there. I became friends with everyone and the immediate and expanded "ranch" community reached at least 50 people. Every weekend there was something going on at The Ranch- music, film, dance, conversations, drama, and love. We were a close-knit and incestuous bunch and The Ranch is what brought all of us together.

Then one day it was gone. Nobody really thought it would be. Fires in the area were common and the property proved resilient. The inhabitants of The Ranch evacuated just in case, but didn't take many of their belongings thinking that everything would be ok. When they were allowed back in the area, they discovered what looked like the aftermath of a nuclear bombing. Everything was leveled, completely gone. A plastic chair melted into the pavement looking like nothing more than a chalk outline. A Steinway piano in the main house ceased to exist. Twisted metal and chimneys are all that remained- and notebooks. Notebooks that when looking at them appeared completely unscathed. When the owner of the notebooks reached down to touch them, they crumpled into dust.

photo by Andy Rydzewski
The passing of The Ranch was the turning of a page for all of us. It closed out my chapter in Los Angeles and because of it, I'm not sure I'll ever view Los Angeles the same again. My anchor there had been pulled up not by choice, but by an act of nature that we're all incapable of battling. The inhabitants of The Ranch moved on with their lives, but the tragedy definitely left a hole in everybody's hearts. My thoughts are with the families in Texas effected by the fire. If you'd like to help, the Statesman has a wonderful list of resources and ways to help here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Loves Her Gun

Holy crap, we're making a movie!
I can't believe it's actually happening.
One day Geoff and I were writing a treatment, next thing I know we're starting production.
Today we're on day 5 of production. Some of us have gotten very little sleep.
From the support of friends and fans, we were able to reach our US Artists goal. We have a terrific cast and crew on board whose talents have been showcased in Cannes, Sundance, and SXSW. Trieste Kelly Dunn (Cold Weather, Canterbury's Law) is playing our flawed heroine and Francisco Barreiro (We Are What We Are) as our loveable knight in hipster armor.

So besides being the co-writer and general extra hand on set, I'm also handling all the social media and PR for the film. If you have a moment, please check out our Tumblr page which we will update with photos, videos, and fun stories about independent filmmaking. Same with our Facebook page. I also finally set up an Instagram page which I'm having so much fun with!

I will update more later. Starting my new job today working on another movie (which I'll share with you later!)