Liar

Rollins Band

Weight

Played 164 times

Music for the Weekend: LIAR by Rollins Band.

I’d like to dedicate this song to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Read my open letter to him and you’ll understand why.

Back on the road, back to financing. In Canada, surrounded by lovely, nice people. I love it here.

Have a safe, wonderful weekend.

Announcing my new feature project, 6 ANGRY WOMEN.

Yes, this is my take on Sidney Lumet’s classic 12 Angry Men, except set against a fictional trial of the murder of a young black teenager. Sound familiar? It should. Between Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown / Ferguson and Eric Garner, this is a subject that is not only timely but necessary.

The twist of this production is that I’m going into rehearsals without a screenplay, only an outline, a set of objectives, and a ton of research. I’m going to count on my actresses to improvise and build the script in rehearsals, an approach used with great skill by one of my cinematic heroes, Mike Leigh.

I, of course, am no Mike Leigh and I find the approach absolutely terrifying. I’m a scientist by nature, I plan things out to molecular detail. But this is an exercise in letting it go, of having absolute control and none at the same time. I’ve been planning for over 18 months now, and hopefully my preparation will serve me well.

In the coming weeks I’ll be going into detail of the pre-production and production of this film, just as I did with Lilith. This is an infinitesimaly smaller production than Lilith - microbudget is an understatement - but it is just as big, if not bigger, in its emotional scope and political impact.

Onward we go, into the great unknown. I’m going to be counting on you, my loyal and hyper-smart followers, to help me promote this production throughout. It needs to build steam as it is a vital issue and a very unorthodox way to discuss it. We need to come up from the underground and give as strong a voice possible to the voiceless. The world should know about this film long before it reaches any screen, it should be the film made by the people and lifted by the people. We can do it.  

Hope you like the poster, I designed and illustrated it myself, a nod to Saul Bass and Otto Preminger. Seemed appropriate.

Have a great weekend!
Zoom Info
  • Camera
  • EPSON Perfection V33/V330

Announcing my new feature project, 6 ANGRY WOMEN.

Yes, this is my take on Sidney Lumet’s classic 12 Angry Men, except set against a fictional trial of the murder of a young black teenager. Sound familiar? It should. Between Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown / Ferguson and Eric Garner, this is a subject that is not only timely but necessary.

The twist of this production is that I’m going into rehearsals without a screenplay, only an outline, a set of objectives, and a ton of research. I’m going to count on my actresses to improvise and build the script in rehearsals, an approach used with great skill by one of my cinematic heroes, Mike Leigh.

I, of course, am no Mike Leigh and I find the approach absolutely terrifying. I’m a scientist by nature, I plan things out to molecular detail. But this is an exercise in letting it go, of having absolute control and none at the same time. I’ve been planning for over 18 months now, and hopefully my preparation will serve me well.

In the coming weeks I’ll be going into detail of the pre-production and production of this film, just as I did with Lilith. This is an infinitesimaly smaller production than Lilith - microbudget is an understatement - but it is just as big, if not bigger, in its emotional scope and political impact.

Onward we go, into the great unknown. I’m going to be counting on you, my loyal and hyper-smart followers, to help me promote this production throughout. It needs to build steam as it is a vital issue and a very unorthodox way to discuss it. We need to come up from the underground and give as strong a voice possible to the voiceless. The world should know about this film long before it reaches any screen, it should be the film made by the people and lifted by the people. We can do it.

Hope you like the poster, I designed and illustrated it myself, a nod to Saul Bass and Otto Preminger. Seemed appropriate.

Have a great weekend!

Big Announcement Tomorrow!

Excited to announce my new feature project tomorrow. It’s something that’s been in the works for about a year and a half, and the time has come to take the leap and just do it. Events in the world have dictated that I need to make this film now.

For me it’s an entirely new approach to making a film, and truthfully it scares the living daylights out of me. But it’s an essential step in my development, to become the filmmaker I aspire to be.

Watch this space!

#6aw

Loctaine

Peter Murphy

Lion [+digital booklet]

Played 184 times

Music for the Weekend: Loctaine by Peter Murphy.

My first concert ever was a Bauhaus show, at the Gothic Theater in Denver. I was thirteen. I’d listened to all the tapes but I had no idea what to do at a show. I showed up in an Einsturzende Neubauten t-shirt, baggy jeans and a beat-up pair of Air Jordans. I was surrounded by mostly porcelain-pale women dressed in black lace, black nailpolish and lipstick, and black / purple hair covering most of their faces. They shrieked and cried as the band played, and despite sticking out like a sore thumb it was for the first time that I felt any kind of sense of community. I loved this kind of music and was ashamed of having dark thoughts, and here was a bunch of people who expressed it outwardly, without shame or embarrassment. The room was full of fog and piercing lights, and Peter Murphy emerged from the mist, shirtless and skeleton-like, and full of a primal, dark energy as he dove headfirst into a blistering rendition of 'Stigmata Martyr.' A hot girl next to me was so excited that she grabbed me and kissed me long and hard on the neck, leaving behind a black lipstick reminder. It was technically my first kiss.

Six days ago on my plane ride home I was listening to Peter Murphy’s new record, and between my post-fever haze and feeling emotional about leaving my grandparents, this song brought tears to my eyes. I felt like one of those ghostly goth girls, swelling with feeling and sadness. I can still feel the raw power in Murphy’s voice, now fifty-seven years tested, and I put this track on repeat and listened to it for an hour.

My sickness has taught me to live in the moment, that our lives can change on a dime. It’s been one year since my wife and I experienced our tragic loss, and where I once used to think the flair for drama and bellicose was silly, I see now the value of living out loud, in the present moment, not caring what people think. Which doesn’t mean we have license to be inconsiderate - in that theater with Bauhaus we respected each others’ space, and any outward displays were in the name of passion, love and life. We learn lessons from life, and sometimes we need a trigger - a reminder - of those moments that meant something to us and changed our lives. I never realized until now how important my first concert was, beyond it being my first concert. It was my first experience of a shared love, of connecting with who you are with people who understood you. That’s pretty special.

Next time you go to a show, think of that scared thirteen year old who finally learned to let go and let life happen to him. You’ll hear the music in an entirely new way, a powerful way, a way that art can only affect you. You’ll find it magical.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Back home, weird dreams.

What a trip. Got a lot of business done but turn around succumbed to the worst fever I’ve ever had. Eight days with my temperature above 102, two days where I was near 109. Started seeing things. Couldn’t put words together. Never thought I was going to die, but I was worried about my brain.

I was worried about my brain because I was having really bizarre visions and dreams that would get stuck on a salient point, and when I awoke I too would be stuck on that salient point. And I mean stuck. To the point where my mind would obsess on what things meant and how it all fit together.

I had a singularity dream where I collapsed in a bathtub and through the drain I could see one thousand different versions of the same event, each slightly different than the other. It was as if my life were one of those 100-CD carousel players and all I had to do was stop on one of them and my life could continue on. I would choose a particular reality but end up back in that bathtub, looking down that same drain. As if I could not escape time, that it would find its own equilibrium.

My second dream involved a black USB cable that had no function, but it was extremely important. I could see myself holding the cable and hear myself saying the words “black USB cable” over and over again. It was a piece of a puzzle to making a larger technological construct work, and I was surrounded by robotic machines and giant chunks of twisted metal, one of which needed a black USB cable. I could feel it in my brain, lucid in vision, but I could not articulate it. My nurse tells me that at the height of my fever I tried to explain to her something about a “head start,” about having it all laid out before me and locating a power source. She said I was talking gibberish. Even now I feel like something important in my brain is trying to express itself.

It’s believed that altered states are when we are at our most lucid - we’re looking into the ether of something beyond logic. My brain was cooking itself and making connections that could either be interpreted as madness or some greater pattern that is worth investigating more.

It’s a gift that I have perfect recall of my dreams, but figuring them out is an entirely different matter. The imagery produced is vivid and often does find its way into my work, but when I figure out a narrative puzzle it makes for some very interesting scenarios, born of legitimate tension and pull. Doesn’t mean I seek altered states - the loss of control is probably the greatest frustration I can experience and I do not cherish it. But altered states can also be achieved without the use of drugs or being pushed to the medical brink. Transcendental meditation, sensory engagement / overload (music, paint, color, sex, etc.) and simply being open to the indifference of the universe can take you there. It’s the major difference between creating a scene and creating an experience. If we can convey rawness of being in our most simple and elegant forms, then what we commit to paper is hard truths, real feelings, and sometimes things we weren’t supposed to find.

Fright unlocks a lot of dark truths. I was certainly frightened whilst in the hospital, in a different country, away from my loved ones. And it tapped something powerful inside of me. Because I am a writer I can explore this, and it is a new frontier for me, an infinite horizon of the mind. It’s exhilarating and powerful, and I am thankful I am able to do it.

Glad to be home. A few weeks and I’m back on the road, raising more money and putting it all together. Thank you for your patience these past three weeks, I will get back to posting regularly. Much appreciated.

Your humble director,
Sridhar.

Further Not Better

Wife

What's Between

Played 179 times

Music for the Weekend: Further Not Better by WIFE.

Am halfway around the planet in India, just getting started on my meetings with potential financiers for some long-gestating projects. It’s been three years since I was last in this country, which continues to reinvent itself on a daily basis. The world is changing at a pace that few of us can comprehend.

I chose this song because of its backstory. James Kelly, who is the brain behind WIFE, is also the brain behind Altar of Plague, one of the best black metal bands in Ireland. It’s a complete shift in musical ideology, and yet Kelly makes it work. Listening to this album on my flight reminded me that the greatest joy as an artist is to be unclassifiable. It means no one can peg you down, no one can predict your next move, and if you’re really good at your craft, the world will eagerly anticipate your next move.

It also means that you will continue to challenge yourself, you will never become complacent or spin your wheels. As the saying goes, change is the only constant, and this applies to so much more than just art. Never be bored. Never be satisfied. Never settle. Always change, always learn, always discover. The art which will come out of you will surprise you, it will be dangerous, and most importantly, it will be yours.

Have a great weekend.

Compulsion

Martin L. Gore

Counterfeit E.P.

Played 145 times

Music for the Weekend: Compulsion by Martin Gore.

I’m four weeks into my insane ten-week travel schedule and I’m already starting to feel burned out. I’ve done three cities in four weeks, a meeting a day, and still have the hardest part ahead of me, which is international travel. I’m abroad for the next three weeks.

Feeling worn out aside, I’ve gotten a lot of things done and things look promising. I’ve been in the film business long enough to temper my emotions coming out of an outstanding meeting (and I had a few) where everything seems perfect and your life is ready to change forever, but then weeks, months, sometimes years later you’re still waiting for those promises and agreements to come to fruition. It’s an old adage from my business law classes during my MBA, which is that if you don’t have it on paper, you don’t have it. I don’t start breakdancing until the ink is dry on the contract.

This song popped up on my playlist - a relic from my college days - and the lyrics hit me hard as I was sitting in a crowded discount airline cabin in my middle seat, at the back of the plane, by the lavatory.

Charms in limited supply and refusing to stretch
That indefinable nothing somehow keeps pushing you
Finding the right words can be a problem
How many times must it be said
there’s no plan
it had to happen

Got to move on sometime and it’s about time
By putting one foot in front of another and repeating the process
Cross over the street, youre free to change your mind
Strength through diversity couldnt have put it more plainly

It seemed to perfectly distill the process of pitching. You’re good in the room, your passion is authentic and vital, and the other side seems excited, but whether it is out of professional kindness or genuine sincerity is known only to them. Then the dance begins, the coaxing of that simple-yet-evasive one syllable answer: yes or no.

Scott Rudin used to say the best answer he could get from a meeting was a “yes,” but the even better answer was a “no.” Because when someone says “no” you can move on, you can try a different angle or strategy. But the media business rarely works like that. On average my discussions / negotiations with agencies take about four months of back and forth, all of it exceptionally noncommittal. It’s absolutely maddening.

We slog it out. Work damn hard. Make sacrifices. There’s few luxuries. Save money by crashing on the couches of loyal friends. Spend money where it benefits your goals the most. And sometimes you make a breakthrough and it’s our human nature to feel excited. But besides giving you a thick skin, this business will give you a new concept of delayed gratification. The celebration must wait until the movie is in the can, or even better when it’s onscreen, or even better when you get your first check from the receipts. There are so many stages, so many uncertainties.

Doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. It’s a cliche but it really is all about enjoying the journey, this is the source of our joy. Those moments when you look up at the ceiling of a room that isn’t yours, and realize that you’re working towards something that’s pretty fucking cool and is incredibly important to you, and is your mark on the world. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Soldier on. Back on a plane tomorrow and away for three weeks, so the posting may be a bit spotty. Thanks for understanding, and let’s keep fighting for our dreams.

Have a great weekend!

Asleep

Makthaverskan

II

Played 237 times

Music for the Weekend: Asleep by Makthaverskan.

What a brilliant record by this Swedish quartet. You know music is special when it can transport you, either to a future that you wish could happen or to the past you’d like to reclaim. In this instance for me it is the latter.

There’s something about this track that reminds me of my most awkward introduction to love, or what I thought was love. Sometime around freshman year of high school. I couldn’t stop thinking of this one girl in my math class. She wasn’t one of the unattainable popular girls, she was a figure skater and would show up at school at like five in the morning to practice. Nobody seemed to really notice her. In that sense we had a lot in common.

She was very pretty but more fascinating to me was an understated elegance to her. Every movement of hers was soft and on some sort of parabolic glide. She had sharp features mostly hidden by long, straight brown hair. I was mesmerized and awestruck. She was the first girl that reminded me of Audrey Hepburn. And the last.

She also had a boyfriend. Every nerd’s nightmare. She was off limits, and even if she was unattached I was so painfully shy I wouldn’t have done anything about it. What would a beautiful girl like her want to do with an introverted dork like me?

High school continued and two years later I ended up having a photography class with her. And her boyfriend. My torture resumed. Then one day I had my nightmare scenario. One early morning before school started, I was in the darkroom (we used to develop our pictures back in the 90s, kids) and I was developing a series of pictures that I took in the mountains. It was really good work, the nascent legs of a visual career that I had no idea would turn into my life’s passion. I was in the darkroom by myself, and then she walked in. It was just the two of us. I was petrified with fear. We worked in silence.

She looked over at my picture in the developer bath, and looked at me and tried to say something, but she choked on her words. I looked up at her, as if I’d done something terribly wrong. She smiled and said “your pictures are really beautiful.” My brain exploded, and I eked out an almost inaudible “thanks” and smiled at her. And then something amazing happened. We talked. Like a lot, for an hour or so, about a ton of stuff. Music. Mountains. Skating. Art. Life. We got out of the darkroom, and for reasons beyond my understanding, she asked if she could take my picture. I was dying inside. I said okay. She snapped a pic, and I took a picture of her on my camera. Our relationship thereafter was relegated to exchanged smiles in the hallway and a hug at graduation.

And that’s it. Rather unspectacular in the annals of recorded relationships, but the emotions that were invoked in me, the sea change of feelings, I cannot possibly give justice to. It wasn’t love, or infatuation, or some teenage masturbatory fantasy, it was a special moment when you just connect with someone on an entirely different level, when every nerve is activated and every cell engaged. Small, beautiful moments that carry on for the rest of your life. For that, I thank Lisa with all of my heart.

All this from one song. Such is the power of art.

Have a great weekend!

Polaroid by its nature makes you frugal. You walk around with maybe two packs of film in your pocket. You have 20 shots, so each shot is a world.

Patti Smith

I feel this way about film vs. digital. I’ve shot movies on both, from Super-8 to 16mm reversal to Super 35mm to RED, Alexa, Sony and Canon DSLRs. There is a unique economy to film that digital doesn’t have, because it is a finite resource.

I put a ton of thought into every shot irrespective of capture medium, but film has this additional pressure that repels any kind of shortcuts. There is no safety net with film, when you expose it you have that much less time and money to work with, so you make each one count that much more. Smith says it perfectly - each shot is a world.


Film strips by my late college professor and mentor, the great Stan Brakhage.

The thing to take away from this is that even when you shoot on digital, you treat it with the reverence and care of film. We are filmmakers, not videomakers. Film is an art, a craft that knows no shortcuts. You exercise it, you execute it, you practice it until you are a master of it like any other art. When you shoot digital, you plan for film, you light for film, you color correct for film. No excuses. When people start accepting digital as digital, this is when you see glitches, limitations and movies that look like backyard birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.

Everything - including digital -begins and ends with film.