Just Make Media!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


David Carr has relaunched his seasonal Carpetbagger column in the NY Times as we head into the Oscar season. The concept behind Carr adopting the self-described kissy-entertainment reporter identity (the man standing on the red carpet) is for the ex-Minnesota Twin Cities Reader reporter to blog about Oscar celebs leading into the statute horse race.

In one of his first blogs, Carr reveals he is writing a story of the upcoming Sunday NYT (December 2, 2007) on Minnesota-girl-gone-Hollywood Diablo Cody while speaking to JUNO film lead and Halifax native Ellen Page.

Carr also confesses he is ashamed of his kissy-ass reporting for the Bagger blog. Humm... I wonder who's holding the gun to his head?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


TERROR'S ADVOCATE opened this weekend at my neighborhood movie house, the Oak Street cinema. A small movie on a complex subject, it is the work of accomplished French director, Barbet Schroeder who never stops to wallow in fame or fortune and continues to explore controversial topics and the people at the center of international uproar.

In today's political world simply being French and born in Iran could be inflammatory enough to get all the smashmouth screaming radio-jocks and FOX News anti-intellectual blowhards spitting and angry invective. Add to that the subject of this film, Jacques Verges, the lawyer who defended Pol Pot, Carlos the Jackal, Slobodna Milosovic and Klaus Barbie and the wizards of emotional spin on the right-wing are likely to go all-Taliban on us.

Even decent Americans who believe in the fundamental America right in the great writ of habeas corpus might wonder why Verges is attracted to the most evil men in the world and how he can defend their rationalizations let alone be in their close company.

Barbet Schroeder is a French director born in 1941 in Tehran to a German-born physician mother and a Swiss geologist father who came into filmmaking during the French New Wave of the early 1960s. He grew up much of his youth in Central Africa and Columbia before settling in Paris. Schroeder is also fascinated by why and how people become so contestable.

Barbet's first film as a director was MORE (1969) on the subject of heroin addiction but he later directed a number of large budget American films BARFLY (1987) with Mickey Rourke based on the alcoholic poet Charles Bukowski (the first of many Bukowski bio-films); KISS OF DEATH (1995) another thriller with Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson; SINGLE WHITE FEMALE (1992) a New York thriller starring Bridget Fonda; and notably REVERSAL OF FORTUNE (1990) that won an Oscar for Jeremy Irons for his depiction of the films subject Claus Von Bulow.

Barbet is well known for his 25 year engagement with French New Wave star and working theater actress Bulle Ogier (mother of the late film star Pascale Ogier) until he finally married Bulle in 2000. I first met Barbet in Los Angeles in 1984 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel while he was preparing for the Bukowski film. Despite his cross over success from the French producer of Eric Rohmer's films to director of big-budget American films, Barbet remained interested in making small films that challenge educated art-house audiences and clearly L'Avocat de la Terreur (TERROR'S ADVOCATE) is one of his films that asks us to look at the world with all its complexity instead of simple black and white dichotomies.

Schroeder is a filmmaker who keeps us actively thinking about the moral and ethical dimensions of our world. He could be making millions of dollars shooting action thrillers but there is more to life than fame and fortune.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Found this story in the Huffington Post from the picket line:

OKAY, I know you are screaming that we are not offering balanced and objective journalism (like you are used to with FOX News?), so in the interest of providing the other side in this debate, here is Producer Roger A. Trivanti:**

Thanks Mike Maupin for refusing to write anything in the coming days as we near Thanksgiving, but remember, you cannot use the WGA Strike as an excuse for being lazy and not blogging or making deadlines. You must be covered by the WGA contract pending and not just writers' block. You're only striking yourself and we see through the guise. Being lazy is not the same as being on strike. Writers block cannot be blamed on the strike!

** If you are having trouble viewing the clip of Roger A. Trivanti, remember, there is a strike on right now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


A Letter from Dave Halls

Our friend John Soberg passed away this week. He was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct in May. John was a member of the Minnesota Film and TV Board of Directors, as well as an executive committee member of Shoot In Minnesota. Many of you did not know John, but you should know the impact he had on our production community.

John almost literally "fell out of the sky" for us. Three years ago I received a phone call from him, and he introduced himself by saying that he briefly was a stand-in for Garrison Keilor on "A Prairie Home Companion.” He said he was fascinated by our industry, and was amazed to discover that Minnesota was rich in technical and production talent. He had heard that locally our industry was struggling, and was aware that there was an effort underway to lobby the state legislature for production incentives. John told me that he was fortunate to have been successful in his business ventures and was looking for new challenges in his life. He mentioned that he had experience as a volunteer lobbyist in Washington, D.C. as well as being politically connected here in Minnesota. He asked if he could be of help to Shoot In Minnesota.

John was extremely intelligent and articulate. He was a big man both physically and spiritually. At 45 years of age, he died too young, yet he was a wise old soul. He was one of those people that seemed to always say and do the right thing. He also did what he said he was going to do. John often said to me, "the only thing we are fighting against is fear, doubt and uncertainty". I know that John lived by those words until his last breath.

John's talents and abilities were quickly noticed by Lucinda Winter, Executive Director of the Minnesota Film and TV Board. John became a member of the Film and TV Board of Directors in 2006 and served as Chair of the Snowbate Operations Committee.

Whenever the legislative process became difficult to understand or when there were moments of despair, John was always there with sage advice, a positive attitude and a plan of action.

It was always a bit of a mystery to me why John was compelled to help in the effort to strengthen production incentives in Minnesota. His motivations were not driven by professional or financial gain from the motion picture industry. He told me that he did not quite understand it either, but that he did indeed feel "a calling" to be involved. In an email that John sent out in May, announcing that he had been diagnosed with cancer he said the following, "It has been a great journey. Several lifetimes of experience and adventure have been compacted into these years. I have found that service to others is the most fulfilling.”

John was indeed a man of service. He gave his time unselfishly to our cause. John took the time out of his busy days, managing his businesses, and raising his four boys, to give advice, encouragement and to take action. John represented our community well at the State Capitol as he met with legislators and Governor Pawlenty. John attended a meeting at the Capitol in September with representatives of the Governor’s office. John was visibly very ill and under quite a bit of discomfort at that time, but remained his old self - articulate and persuasive.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to John's wife Tarryn and their four boys, Zach, Alex, Daniel and Benjamin.

John's absence in our community will surely be felt. Yet, we are stronger, better people for knowing him. In honor of his memory we move on, always fighting fear, doubt and uncertainty.

God Bless John Soberg

Dave Halls
Executive Director/Shoot In Minnesota

Friday, November 16, 2007


Live from New York its Saturday night...!

One thing I've thought long and hard about with labor strikes is why the producers, instead of just being role players in the production process, somehow own the labor and creativity of writers and actors. Why do the creative players so easily relinquish the product of their labor? Being on strike doesn't mean you have to live under the steal heal of the man! Take control of your labor and creativity.

According to items on Broadcast & Cable web site and TV Squad the crews and cast of SNL and 30 Rock plan live performances at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and, of course, the tickets for Saturday and Sunday were instantly sold out.

NEXT STEP: Tape them, stream and post the live performances on the internet. And it would be great to see episodes of The Daily Show and Colbert Report performed as live stage shows as well. The WGA could use the vast network on the web to schedule meetups along with live performances in cities around the U.S. for a variety of the shows no longer in production. And the proceeds from the performances as well as internet ad sales could go to benefit the WGA strike fund.


Finally, the AMPTP's has a spokesman who is clearly articulating their concerns in a personal and passionate response to the WGA. It is important that you listen to this man's plea for understanding. There is more than one side to this strike... Please listen!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Have you ever been out on a first or blind date and exploring the world of shared interests with the person you've just met and THEN the shoe drops. You find out the other is a Darkon superhereo RPG or s/he starts talking very seriously about how shape-shifting lizard-people are running the world or Paul Is Dead! and was replaced by a look-a-like Billy Shepherd back in December 1966. Or she loved the movie TROLL 2. WTF?

Well, I have had all these dates during the first 40-some years of my life (before I met the most incredible woman in the world) it seemed these types of dates were the only ones I'd ever get ONCE.

TROLL 2 has won the distinction as the worst movie EVER! Bad writing, bad acting, bad direction, filmed in Utah... a movie that has it all. Although I have a hard time telling good horror films from bad, my standard is if it reminds me of all the bad dates I've ever suffered then it's a nighmare.

Then in 2007, or so the story continues, TROLL 2 became a cult classic, at least in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake where audiences line up around the block to see midnight matinees of the movie and shout lines from the amateur actors mouth before they say them just like ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. When actors, producers and the director appear at the screenings, frantic fans earnestly tell them how much they loved their performance and how "honest" and authentic their emotions are in the film. Astonished, all those actors can respond with is "Really?"

The lead actor Michael Stephenson, who played the 11-year-old lead Joshua Waits in TROLL 2 and regretted it for the next ten years of his life, has made The Best Worst Movie, a documentary marking the evolution from its making in the ealty 90s to its being declared the best worst movie to its comeback as a cult hit in 2006.

Stranger things have happened. You know NASA faked the moon landings.

Trust me: It's best not to go looking for old flames.

Monday, November 12, 2007


As they say, films are written at least twice -- once by the screenwriter during pre-production and then again by the editor when cutting the film. A story can change radically through this process and nuance can be added or lost.

In this YouTube clip are a few scenes cut and deleted from the 2003 film HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG exquisitely adapted by Shawn Lawrence Otto and edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin (DEAD MEN WALKING, GATTACA, CEDAR HOUSE RULES among others) with voice over by director Vadim Perelman.

Often, story or character exposition is left on the cutting floor for the sake of timing and pacing through the dramatic apex of the film or when it seems plotting and repetitive. However, in this set of deleted scenes, probably the most missed scene cut fom the film is between Ron Eldard (playing the deputy sheriff Lester), Ben Kingsley (playing Behrani) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (playing Nadi).

Editing a film is a reductive process, while writing it is a additive and creative building endeavour. A million decisions have to be made and each could have a significant impact on the quality of the finished movie. The debate around these decisions and all the aesthetic considerations are the tools to honing the art and craft of filmmaking.

There are no right and wrong answers, just better ways to reach masterful films - that is what can be so vexing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


United Hollywood has become the homepage/blog of the WGA strike with daily updates on the progress of the industrial action. Striking writers have been encourage to write their thoughts on the strike and offer suggestions on possible resolutions including a modest proposal to Google by writer, director, producer, and WGA member Ed Decter.


A lay person's explanation (sans lawyers) for the uninitiated about the issues behind the WGA strike from Greg Daniels, Paul Lieberstein, Mike Schur, B.J. Novak, Kelly Kapoor all the writers for the THE OFFICE, a show with 7 million iTunes downloads and no compensation to the writers... Watch, Listen and Decide.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Striking under Walter P. Reuther was never this exciting!

Diablo Cody, who Hollywood elsewhere's Jeffrey Welles has taken to calling "the new Tarantino" takes the picket line outside Paramounts Bronson gate entrance after a world-wind tour of Italy and London pimping her film JUNO at world festivals.

Is that Versace couture - sexy, fierce, and chic? Cody is high on everybodies preliminary lists for an original screenplay Oscar. Other Minnesotan's topping the lists are the Coen Brothers for best adapted screenplay and best picture for their NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN opening this weekend in theaters.

Talk around Hollywood is Cody had dinner with auteur director/producer Quentin Tarantino (if you're the new-Tarantino a meet is inorder) and also did phone with legendary rocker Roger Daltrey and posed in front of an Audi, tatoos ablaze in the flash of photographers strobes for the AFI Centerpiece Gala for JUNO -- officially the L.A. opening for her film.

As Jason Reitman blogged, JUNO got to play the Cineramadome, "...one of those milestones every filmmaker wants to hit in their lifetime" said the 30-year-old film director. However, Reitman felt comedy doesn't play as spirited on the crowd in the Buckminster Fuller geodesic domes vast space.

"That high ceiling just sucks the energy out of the room," blogged Reitman about the geodesic that is regarded to have the highest ratio of enclosed volume to weight.

An Edgar Wright Interview with Diablo Cody captures the mood of L.A. striking writers while their conversation naturally drifts toward the life of a stripper. As with the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly demonstrates, the rag to riches tale of stripper to Hollywood A-list writer suggests she is holding onto the tail of the dragon. In that article she explains that she wrote JUNO while sitting in a suburban Minneapolis Target store - a world vastly removed from that of an A-lister in Hollywood.

If Diablo hopes the talk about her adventures as Margaret Meade in the red light district will end with JUNO, just wait until she's up for an Academy Award.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Bob Dylan, over the course of decades in the public spotlight is everything from a 60s pop icon to a angry recluse, a poet political sage, cowboy individualist, religious rivivalist, and a traveling troubadour. How do you play all these characters, wear all these hats, manifest all these roles? Better yet, how does a filmmaker portray them?

Todd Haynes has been American indie film's deconstructionist and semiologist and for him the big question is how do you cast Bob Dylan? Haynes' answer: six different actors; one of them a woman (Cate Blanchett), Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and one a young black actor Marcus Carl Franklin all using alias to evoke the periods in Dylan's life.

In addition to switching and manipulating film stocks, Haynes also jumped between psuedo-documentary (i.e., THIS IS SPINAL TAP) and dramatization while turning bio-pic genre on its ear. Not only does genre shifting present the director with unique challenges and the audience with a suspension of disbelief, it also provides an opportunity to describe Dylan in a fashion Dylan always cast himself -- a private man who's public faces were masked fictional personifications as whole and mulitfaceted as the songs the Hibbing native wrote and sang.

Two years ago I spoke with Todd Haynes when he was in Minneapolis at a reception for the 75th anniversary of the Jerome Foundation. I always felt Dylan in London, who leaped to the height of his fame in 1965 with his World Tour, was the most other-worldly of all the Dylan personifications over time. This was not the Dylan of Hibbing, Minnesota. This was a highly groomed, androgynous and pixy-pretty Dylan. Haynes agreed and told me he cast Blanchett to play Dylan during that period in his life. I was amazed at Haynes decision and she's amazing as Dylan or "Jude."

Haynes brillance, aside from daring-do, is in breaking through and looking at style conventions, like his 2002 drama FAR FROM HEAVEN did with cinema of the 1950s. With I'M NOT THERE, Haynes looks at film in the 1960s, media stardom, press mediated pop-music, and how Dylan deconstructed his own iconic image in the popular culture. Paying homage to Fellini's 8 1/2 and grainy balck and white rock docs such as the famed 1967 D.A. Pennebacker film DON'T LOOK BACK, Haynes dazzles again with his artful direction of film frame and his actors to capture the significant feeling of time. I'M NOT THERE is especially thrilling and filled with pregnant moments and poignant dialogue you'll recognize if you are a Dylan fan and know the entire Dylan canon of poetry and song.

I'M NOT THERE plays tonight in a special preview screening at the Walker Art Center with producer Christine Vachon will introduce the film and answer questions from the audience. The film will open in theaters on November 21st at Landmark Lagoon.

Walker Art Center: I'M NOT THERE

Friday, November 02, 2007


Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody accept the top prize at the 2007 Rome Film Festival for Cody's JUNO. Cody explained she was pimped in Versace dresses by Cody grooming Glam Squad before adding the old man's wooly rain cap.

The former-Minneapolis screenwriter can hardly believe her good luck in adapting to life in L.A. and the open doors she has encountered since moving to Tinsel Town. In addition to a grueling promotional tour, trips to film festivals to accept awards, being asked to reluctantly sit on "women in film" panels, she is also developing a TV series for Steven Speilberg called "United States of Tara" while facing a looming WGA writers strike.

Furthermore, there is much talk about Cody's next film, GIRLY STYLE an all-girl college sex comedy about a group of girls determined to lose their virginity yet may be too selective to achive their goals. Cody compares her movies to PORKY'S and other teenage sex titlators but believes she is taking risks by putting women in the lead roles normally reserved for young male actors.

Diablo Cody Interview