A Strange Sound

Sons Of Magdalene

Move to Pain

Played 74 times

Music for the Weekend: A Strange Sound by Sons of Magdalene.

Call me a helpless romantic of the 80s. I was listening to this Sons of Magdalene album (which is not from the 80s) at 6:00am yesterday, looking out the windows of the subway train onto a gray, rainy and awakening Chicago. I was heading downtown to our rehearsal space for Six Angry Women, ready for another three hour session of improvisation and study.

After three weeks of intense one-on-one rehearsal sessions with my six actresses, this Tuesday was the very first time they all met each other for the first time. I’d laid down some ground rules, the most important of which was that they could not tell each other about their characters. I have to admit I was really nervous on my first day of group rehearsals, as I’d never done this approach before. Usually when I go into rehearsals I’ve got fully broken down script, and here all I’ve got are six very real and very vibrant characters.

Honestly I feel like a newborn baby learning to take his first steps. I’m tempering my need to scientifically analyze and trying to create exercises in rehearsal that will get us to the place we need to be. After two sessions, I’m more than happy with the work we’ve done. Our previous three weeks of work has really paid dividends, as I have the luxury of putting six fully-formed characters in any situation, and watch how they react. It’s really empowering for both me and my actors, and at this point it’s my charge to give them very well thought out and clear objectives to explore. That is my next responsibility, which is to fashion the script around these objectives.

I really admire these six ladies for all the extremely hard work and long hours they’ve put in with me to make these characters. They’re all completely different and unique from one another, and they’re all very real. I must admit that this improvisational approach to filmmaking is incredibly exhausting, even more so that just sitting down and writing a full screenplay and storyboarding it out. At least with the latter approach I have certainties, whereas here I’m faced with the unknown every morning. It’s scary but exhilarating, but the energy required to create something new every day and every minute is immense. I have to find ways to relieve the intensity of the process, or else we’re going to get burned out quickly. I have some ideas, and we’ll try them out on our next session this Saturday morning.

My cinematographer flew in last night and we’re already building our visual strategy and blocking patterns. Watching a lot of movies and pulling photo references, just as we did on Lilith, but unlike Lilith we really don’t have a template to build on. We’re building it from scratch. The film is going to be highly stylized but if done right, it the style will never formally announce itself. As everything comes together, it should coalesce into a new vision, a strange sound indeed.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Lights On

FKA twigs

LP1

Played 790 times

Music for the Weekend: Lights On by FKA Twigs.

I remember selecting FKA Twigs’ Papi Pacify last year for a MFTW choice, and I was completely mesmerized by her. Weird stuff, sexually aggressive lyrically to the point of slight discomfort, and out-of-left-field composition. Even her image was whacked out, elongated and morphed.

I guess that’s what I like so much about her. She’s a button pusher without blatantly being so. She’s being herself and telling us to take it or leave it - if I make you uncomfortable, you need to ask yourself why you feel that way. I mean, look at that cover image. Almost like a plastic doll, one eye made to look bruised, messy makeup that, for me, I find to be disturbing. But that’s me. It’s not like she’s trying to send me a message, I’m making my own. And it’s not pleasant. But I love it. And I love her music.

The song doesn’t pull any punches either:

Break or seize me
Let the things that I tell you survive
In the way that you handle your size
Never leave me

The fuck? I don’t know how to feel about that, especially when couched in an absolutely sensual treatment that screams love and trust. But this indeed is love and trust, and I need to see it in a different way. Not just for my or her sake, but for the sake of a different perspective. It’s fascinating. It’s like having a window to someone’s soul for five minutes.

The entire record is like this, and it’s a frontrunner for my pick of Album of the Year. Aphex Twin’s Syro might challenge that, and by year’s end we’ll have a winner, or a tie because what does it matter really. It’s rare to have so much great music that reaches the inner depths of our consciousness. Very, very cool.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Liar

Rollins Band

Weight

Played 219 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.

Loctaine

Peter Murphy

Lion [+digital booklet]

Played 181 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.

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 139 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 239 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!

Cigarettes & Loneliness

Chet Faker

Chet Faker - Built On Glass

Played 689 times

Music for the Weekend: Cigarettes & Lonliness by Chet Faker.

This weeks starts an insane ten weeks of work travel, and I’ve already spent a considerable amount of time in airports. I’m shopping three television shows and two feature films, all which has been written in the past two months. I’m all written out for now, but now it’s time to hit the road and sell.

My father used to be a consultant, and he was on the road all the time. There was a period in my childhood where I’d see my father maybe 1/3 of the year, because he’d stay for weeks in Europe on consulting gigs. He’d always come back with gifts from wherever he visited. He’d get me old comic books and weird stationary products from Asia.

My pops rarely if ever shared his stories from the road, but having grown up and logged my own fair share of miles, I can now understand why. The road is an amazing place, lonely and introspective, and simultaneously dangerous and exciting. Those stories are personal and just for my dad. Someday he might tell us, but that’s okay, we all have to take some things with us.

Eating dinner in a hotel bar, or getting room service in a small town hotel. I always order fish and chips or french onion soup. Don’t know why, but it’s comforting. Watch the spelling bee on ESPN. Local news, where the Mudcats scored three touchdowns against the Fighting Hornets. Weird guy who sat next to me on the airplane and who tried to convert me to Christianity. People crying on their own. Cigarettes and loneliness.

Have a great weekend!

Jumpin' The Turnstyles

Alms For The Poor

Sweet Mother: Free Activation Series No.1

Played 139 times

Music for the Weekend: Jumpin’ the Turnstyles by Alms for the Poor / DJ Z-Trip & DJ Radar

My brain feels like this song. Really. It’s been a hell of week. Perhaps I might’ve taken on too much, I haven’t gotten much sleep as I’ve got some big deadlines looming. Been writing an eight-episode TV bible for a noir crime show that uses time travel. That’s right. Time travel. Never easy, because there’s so many loopholes / wormholes to navigate, and I want to get the science right. So while my days have been spent writing, my nights have been spent studying quantum physics, particle / string theory, uncertainty principles and predestination paradoxes, singularity, the heat death of the universe and Schrodinger’s Cat among many other things. Because if the internet proves one thing, it’s that everyone loves cats.

Also this week I had an amazing opportunity to meet two very important directors who have had a profound impact on my life. I got to hang out with Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams and Andrew Davis, the director of The Fugitive. Both men were incredibly humble, despite having created some of the most powerful and influential films in cinema history, and what really struck me was that they were infinitely curious and asked questions with the same energy of a debut filmmaker embarking on their first project. It was incredibly inspiring, and I made two very good friends who I know will be there when I need some advice, an extra set of eyes, and a solid opinion. I was honored and humbled, and aspire to follow in their footsteps of creating art without compromise.


Andrew Davis, yours truly and Steve James. Chi-city represent.

Have a great weekend!