Monday, May 12, 2008

Guerilla filmmaking goes wonderfully right

Once again I dreaded making the drive downtown to the Alamo Ritz for a screening. I dread the parking and the hordes of drunken college students. But all that fades once I step into the dark theater house that so many times before has left me inspired. A few days ago I read an editorial in the paper about a young local filmmaker – Kevin Ford. He was going to be showing his most recent project When is Tomorrow starring himself and Eddie Steeples from My Name is Earl. I really had no idea what to expect. What I found was what will become an underground gem in the same vein as Linklater’s Slacker. It is testament to the fact that you don’t need millions of dollars, 35mm
Panavision cameras, monstrous crews or time for that matter to make a film worth something. This film was shot all over Austin in three days with guerilla tactics.

The story chronicles the day and night before Mike is to be married off into adult life. His best friend Ron has flown in from New York to be the best man. What looks from the outset as a carefree final hurrah for old times quickly becomes a study in the manipulative nature of friendship and the ever present threat of needing to grow up and move forward.

When is Tomorrow is alive, vibrant and real. There are many of us who struggle with our own ability to grasp the day and use it toward the deepest passions we each possess. Ron, a poet, embodies this seemly unattainable but ultimately desirable state of being. A poet is passionate by definition. He lives his faith. Mike represents all of us who teeter on the cusp of maturity. He is a man full of inspiration but no direction. He preaches his faith but does not practice.

I fear that to describe the story, characters or structure anymore would give something away so I will leave you with this; It’s not every day that you see or read something that makes you question whether or not you are taking the right steps to better yourself. Because, ultimately - the choice to grow up and move forward is a singular choice and a difficult and sometimes painful choice.

GO SEE THIS FILM – Alamo south Lamar – check listings

Adam Moroz
Cita Mag

Monday, May 5, 2008

Villa Muse News

Sadly not in Austin....hopefully still close!

Friday, May 2, 2008

UT Masters Class with Matt Stone

In Helping us understand our world, you're pretty much at the top."

Oh, That's too bad."
- Matt Stone

Matt Stone graced the UT Masters Class tonight with host John Pierson at the legendary Austin City Limits studio on the six floor of the UT communications building. Very much like Inside the Actors Studio the setting was simple and intimate using the classic ACL backdrop and two chairs in talk show fashion. Students and AFS members watched in shear delight as Mr. Pierson picked the brain of one of the most influential social commentator's of our generation.

Stories of stardom could hardly best the quirky alternative rise to the top experienced by best friends Matt Stone and Trey Parker. A product of the 80's Stone and Parker did not have the vast networking capabilities of the internet to market themselves. Though, they do have plenty of wonderfully 80's references such as Cartman channeling Jamie A Escalante from Stand and Deliver. They did however do something quite remarkable. The spirit of Christmas Aka Jesus vs. Santa Clause was a short animation in somewhat bad taste that appeared around Hollywood in 95. Word spread like wildfire. People were making VHS copies. Then copying the copies until the the quality was almost not watchable on some. Today this would be called a Viral video and be on YouTube or something similar. Who were these guys? No one knew. Stone and Parker had decided not to put any credits. This added to the mystique. Mysterious funny as hell animators afoot in Los Angeles. They drove to Sundance with a with their finished film Cannibal the Musical and had no planned screenings. Yet, they managed play it up and make it work. This business is all about how badly you want it and how far you are willing to go to make that dream come true.

Then in 1997 the first episode of South Park airs, the rest is history. Literally an overnight success fame and more importantly, constant work slaps them in the face. This would be welcome considering Stone spent the entire OJ trial in front of his TV smoking cigarettes and eating burritos while waiting for their William Morris agent to call. Stone couldn't say how it all come together or if it would have ever happened if they had been part of the YouTube generation.

On a more present note, when asked about their experience in Hollywood during the writers strike Stone explained that it it did not affect the show except in commentary. South Park has always been non-union and as result he got to watch the strike come and go. He told us that many in Hollywood believed it to be a failure . Certainly not an "inspiration, not only to us but the entire organized labor movement." As spoken by Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East. Then he laughed mocking the WGA for being so boisterously cocky; as if they needed anymore work or money.

Southpark's success comes directly from their ability to be of the times. They can literally read a story in the newspaper, observe the public opinion and then turn around and comment just one week later. But, ultimately the story is about the boys stuck in a world of cliches and cultural faux pas that only they seem to see as ridiculous or damaging. It is this model that allows them to examine the social extremes to which many readily conform. Sometimes they agree with an extreme and other times they don't - but i am most happy when the finale lands somewhere in the middle because that is just where we are; stuck in the middle of never ending, randomly evolving social issues that always affect us whether we know it or not. And, the truth is - our reality is quite ridiculous at times.

Next year Southpark will go HD and right now you can view any episode up to the present on their official website.

"we succeed, but it's mostly because we are immature." - Matt Stone

Adam Moroz
Cita Mag

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Benh Zeitlin

Benh's Benefit Screening was very good. He is truly talented. I almost cried. I think Courtney did cry. The turn out was small but we went to the late show. There were seven films by a few different people; Benh Zeitlin, Ray Tintori and Max Goldblatt all of whom are very talented.

"The Egg" and "Origins of Electricity" by Benh Zeitlin had a Brother Quay feeling while his most recent work "I Get Wet" was very innocent, fun and very well constructed. The child actors were amazing i smiled the whole time. Max Goldblatt's "Kinetoscope" was disturbing in its Psycho-esque voyeur world where the line between reality and the dream is blurred, twisted, filmicly reflective and sometimes funny.

But, the one that got me the most was, "Glory at Sea". It had to have been shot shortly after Katrina in a devastated part of Louisiana. It was the story of a man who lost his girl friend in the flood. In his torment he makes a raft and inspires others to help in his effort full well knowing that those they seek are already dead. It was very moving and stylized. Poetic in its narration and beautifully shot. I'm still thinking about it, it was gorgeous. Everyone should see this film.

Benh Zeitlin was badly injured in a car wreck during SxSW this past year on the way to a screening of his films. After a replaced hip and 80,000 dollars later he is in the process of recovery. Proceeds from tonights screening have gone to help pay his medical bills.

Adam Moroz
Cita Mag

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Attended the TXMPA incentives "Texas Got Game" happy hour held at the Action Figure Studios on East Cesar Chavez. Enjoyed mingling among friends - and yet disappointed at the lack of crowd. There were maybe up to 100 attendees, and while that isn't horrible I've seen bigger parties of film enthusiasts in Austin! I learned that Michigan passed an incentives law of giving back 40% to those who make their films in Michigan. It sounds insane to me - but at the same time I kept questioning how on earth Michigan was able to pass such a bill when Texas has such a "strong" community and yet struggled to pass our 5% return. There is talk of this turning to 15% within a year which I'd love to see happen - I just hope those who are involved and want to thrive in Austin show up!

Iron Man +

Last night I had the privilege of seeing the premiere of Iron Man complete with the Jet Pack guy to raise the spirit of the crowds at Alamo Draft House South Lamar. First of all I'd like to say that I loved the Jet Pack guy - sure he was only in the air for about 90 seconds - but it was a single man flying alone with no parachute or airplane completely choosing his direction - now how cool is that?! For a girl who's drafted blue prints for wings since she was in elementary school - I was pretty excited!

The film was entertaining and while it didn't leave an impact on me where I was running through the various scenes or whatnot throughout my head the rest of the evening or dreaming of it all night - I had a good time and was definitely enthralled for the two hours.

The one thing that did leave a lasting impression on me was the female characters in the movie. According to statistics, men 18-36 are the highest rated attendees of movies and with that logistic studios understand the male interest movies will bring the highest dollar. I am a female, and I definitely enjoyed the film, but I do think the film had an overall lower impact on myself due to my non-association with a single female character. As an actress I definitely wouldn't want to play a single one of those roles except to earn a pay check - and as a young woman I definitely wouldn't want to embody any of the female characters either.

These would have been my choices:
A) Screaming Afghanistan woman as her village is bombed
B) Intelligent sexy reporter who ends up sleeping with Iron Man right off and was considered "trash" the next morning
C) Mousy assistant to the genius who has worked for him for YEARS without him even knowing her birthday
D) Sexy woman at casino that is pushed out of the way when the men come to talk about more important things/sexy airhostess/sexy dancer on plane

Just a note to the movie industry - films like this create the audience that is currently considered "high dollar" - create more films that women can associate with equals more female viewers. I think this is definitely being recognized now that the teen girls are creating billionaires like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Miley Cyrus. We are a huuuuge market.

I believe its time to create Rainbow Brite the movie folks. Now who wouldn't be into that?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Maxim VIP Party

Last night I attended the Maxim Magazine party at the Barr mansion north of central Austin. I was confused the entire time, just what was the purpose of this party? I’ll tell you. Promote the beer and promote the magazine, but to whom?

From what I could gather every former frat boy and delusional princess found their meager way to this party. I am sure that there were some industry professionals and respectable people there, I just didn’t meet any. Wait, sorry, I met six people of the 200 or so there that had anything interesting to talk about.

This was a see and be seen kind of shin dig. When I walked in I saw any number of girls trying with all their worth to be noticed by the production wrapping up a commercial shoot that tied in with the party. The fray was impossibly cliquey. There was even a group of guys doing beer bongs while a group of screaming girls cheered them on. It was quite remarkable seeing as how this party was supposed to be high fashion and classy… Sorry I started to laugh but I am okay now. IT FELT LIKE HIGHSCHOOL! All the jocks and cheerleaders, equally simple, jostling for some kind position over one another as if they commanded that kind of attention. It was really sad.

The illusion of class and aristocracy was the pungent odor of the night and it stank. But upon thinking a little harder I realized that this is Maxim’s target audience, so, good show, bong some beer and drive home you peoples of the upper crust.

By the way production value and the staff were superb, wonderfully accommodating and polite. Cheers.

Adam Moroz
Cita Mag

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beats at the Ransom Center

Recently I braved the hordes of college students at the University of Texas on my way to the Harry Ransom Center which is located directly in the center of campus. For the next six weeks the center will play host to the writings, rants, manuscripts, sketches, paintings and music of Beat Era Icons such as Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Ted Joans, Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

The beat movement is hard to pigeon hole into specific dates but can easily fit between late 1940’s and well into the middle 1960’s. These years were riddled with racial tension and post World War Two idealism. It was the beginning of the cold war and the nuclear family; mother in pearls cooking dinner while little Johnny feeds the dog is how history remembers these golden years before Vietnam. Ginsberg and Kerouac were disgusted with the blatant paper thin idealism that shrouded the country at the time. Such structure and form confined their freer sensibilities. They were the ideal deviants.

Enthralled by the Jazz music they frequently listened to in the dives bars of Harlem, the Beats latched onto the musician’s ability to create new rhythms as they went allowing for development in any possible direction. They rejected structure for free form, content for process, statics for motion, and careful planning for improvisation. Jack Kerouac assimilated this strategy in the book, On the Road. Before writing he took many sheets of paper and taped them together to create multiple scrolls of more than one hundred feet each. The idea was that while typing using his scrolls he would not be confined with having to reload his typewriter after each page. This would allow him to write continuously without interruption in a manner we would term today as “stream of consciousness”.

They seemed to be on a constant quest for “here and now” never concerned with past or future. Education on a subject served only as a template for revision. Beats struggled to create and live outside of societal norms in an effort to ponder their purpose while still being delighted to exist within them, for without these norms they would have nothing to question. “I am learning by the week, but my poesy is still not my own. New rhyme new me me me in words. I am not all of this carven rhetoric”, Ginsberg writes in a letter to Kerouac during his years at Columbia expressing his frustrations with accepted written forms. Ginsberg delivers “Howl” October 13, 1955 at the Six Gallery six years after graduating from Columbia.

Beat filmmakers struggled with similar issues of form and content. How does one access the unconscious and spontaneous in a medium that requires such careful consideration? Filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Christopher Mclaine and Maya Deren all dealt with these questions differently. Brakhage attacked the acceptable structure of “story” form from such a different angle that people weren’t quite sure what to make of his work. He would paint and glue things on clear leader. The result was a flash of color and a shape unlike anything ever done before it. Must a story be a linear tale of people or can it not be the transition from blue to red over the course of hundred frames. Kenneth Anger dealt with cultural acceptance of sexuality and innocence in an era where anything homosexual was considered to be socially deviant, almost criminal.

Beatniks where labeled by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as one of the greatest “menaces” to the stability of America in 1960. I wonder what he would have to say about them now.

-Adam Moroz

The exhibition runs from Feb. 5 to Aug. 3 in the Ransom Center Galleries at The University of Texas at Austin.

Beat Film Series screenings take place at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz at 7 p.m. consult for show times.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Do You Know Your Local Casting Directors?

The 1st annual Alliance sponsored Casting Director Q & A gave me more insight into the local casting directors than I had thought I'd gather. There were the extraneous check list of actors do's and don'ts in a casting office: make sure you have a head shot and resume, make sure you bring multiple copies, make sure there are more in your car just in case, make sure you LOOK like your head shot - the list goes on; and usually I go to these events more to make sure my agent knows I care and to socialize but I actually picked up a few things:

1) Do not spend your money or your time on sending the CD's random promotional items or gifts. It's better to use the money on new head shots or classes and they'd prefer if you were just memorable in your audition.

2) They do not remember how you sucked at an audition....forever.

3) You CAN actually ask them to let you do it again if you know that you didn't do it as well as you could have or if you have another take you'd like to try. Remember it is YOUR audition and even if it feels rushed in the office if you have something else to offer, ask. Apparently they only say no if you try to do this 4 or 5 times.

4) The CD's and other people in the room are on your side. They want you to be the one for the role, they want you to be perfect for the part. They're on your side.

5) Try to dress more simply. It's not about your hair or your accessories. When they pull you into an audition they want to see specifically what it is about you - your essence. The way your voice is, your body, and your face. What you give off as a person just as you are without all the stuff. Be natural.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strapped Entertainment Launch Party

On Sunday March 22, the US Art Authority played host for Strapped Entertainment's launch party. Headed up by Austin's own Brandy Rainey and Steve Barcik, this two person team of creative genius has plans to take over the world or at least put Austin on the map. The two have an unfaltering will and have chosen to stay in Austin regardless of better incentive programs provided by our neighboring states of New Mexico and Louisiana. This evening is meant to both celebrate their homemade works and to also stir the nest in an attempt to revitalize the ever dwindling community since the failure of the city to pass Villa Muse's annexations requests. Unwilling to be discouraged both Brandy and Steve continue to use Austin as their backdrop and local talent as their anchors. The evening of glitz and glamor was mixed with a sense of underground drive bar musk. This is the real indie film scene. My friend Corey and I fell upon the scene around eight pm and left around midnight only after viewing the three award winning short films slated for exhibition.

The first was Snake Pit, it falls into the category of horror and in my opinion remarkable achievement for a novice filmmaker upon its completion. Perhaps the hardest thing to do when watching indie shorts is to set aside all the Hollywood polished crisp and clear images that we expect. It was obvious the film didn't have the production value of a multi million dollar production but that isn't important in this situation. Instead i found my self watching the birth of a great a talent. It was not hard to notice the incredible attention to detail and lighting. Frequently when people view a film shot over the weekend they don't treat it as a serious piece but as a skit there friends could have just as easily made. This is not the case, the editing was simply superb and the concept fit together like clockwork. Editing a coherent story together is not as easy as it looks and when it is done well it is frequently invisible. So Good job Brandy.

Next had Little Dove which is the story of unrequited love in the Romeo and Juliette forbidden sense. This is a large step away from her first horror project. From the outset of the film we can already distinguish that Brandy has talent far above that of the average. The subject matter and setting of this film are so vastly different from that of her first that we are starting to see the diverse nature of her interests and talents. Aside from knowing her own voice Brandy also commands a wacky sense of discipline and detecation. The crew of Little Dove actually camped in Big Bend for a week while shooting. This means no running water no bathrooms and no wimps. Cheers Brandy for taking it to the next level.

Finally we were exposed to the slacker comedy Open House which chronicle's the escapades of two brazen but really stupid young people who sneak into an open house only to party for a week before making a very hasty escape. Again this film is a large departure from the previous two films aside from the only similarity of shooting inside. In the course of one evening we witness the birth of a real talent through the exposure of three completely different short films whose moral fiber is both completely lacking in Snake Pit and ever present in Little Dove.

I don't think for a moment that this will be the last we see of both Brandy and Steve, in fact i think this is the beginnings of Austin's next homegrown hero. Like both Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez when asked by a young film student how they (Brandy and Steve) found their way into the business the answer was simple: "make films" and do it your way about what you want, nothing else matters.

Cheers Brady and Steve, See you soon.

Adam Moroz

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vortex Presents TROADES: The Legend of the Women of Troy

Bonnie Cullum and her crew at the Vortex do it again! TROADES: The Legend of the Women of Troy is an amazing story about the women of Troy told from their point of view.

I spoke with Bonnie and several cast members and they all said the same thing, the rehearsals were intense and hard. Going to see the show, it's hard for one to not see how much work these people put into this show.

The make up and costumes were amazing! The set was amazing! The light design was amazing. All these elements with incredible acting and beautiful singing make it hard not to enjoy this show.

The cast as a whole was strong. Stand out performances for me were Gabriel Maldonado who played Menelaos; Eric Porter who played Talthybios; Kimberley Mead who played Andromache; and finally Patricia Wappner who played Hekabe, the Queen.

It runs until March 29th (Thurs-Sun at 8pm) and you get to choose what you want to pay (from $10 to 30). There's a possibility of the show extending to another weekend. Check the website or call the box office for more information and also to reserve your seat.

Box Office: 512-478-LAVA

Patricia A. Robinson

Partyin with Perez - SXSW 08

So...I doubt there were many people at SXSW who were more excited about Perez Hilton's "One Night in Austin" party than I was. As a faithful reader of his gossip website, I knew that he was a fan of SX and of Austin, and I was eagerly anticipating meeting the "Queen of all Media" and maybe becoming best friends with him! didn't exactly go that way.

Let me just preface all this by saying that I feel like SXSW has become less and less about music and more and more about private parties put on by this or that company (usually having nothing to do with music), demanding that you RSVP (so that they have your email address now, duh) and then still waiting in line forever just to get into some empty warehouse that they've transformed into a temporary party palace with more advertising, MORE FREE DRINKS and more people standing around trying to look important!!! YAY!!! Oh, and sometimes there's decent music.

The Perez party was no exception. Even though my husband and I had RSVP'd as media (and my husband is legitimately media, he hosts a morning radio show in Austin) we were met with a long line and a cheesy guy parading as "security" asking if we had been "confimed." Um, no, we hadn't, but don't you know who we are dude? We are SO IMPORTANT, you better let us in! And this actually worked. We were escorted up to the front of the line and introduced to a PR person named Stacy. She let us in on the condition that my husband mention the sponsor of the party (Wrigley's 5 Gum) on his show on Monday and send her an aircheck. Yeah, sure, whatever. I just want to meet Perez!

So we get inside and it is PACKED. Not just crowded, but miserably so; the kind where you are constantly touching someone else and getting to the bar seems impossible. Somehow we managed to get some free drinks (mojitos, provided by some type of rum that I'm having trouble remembering. But Perez is Cuban, so I guess there was a theme...?) and walk out to the area outside that was a little less insane. A hair product company was also there and some hairdressers were giving people crazy hairdo's. We tried to talk them into giving my husband a haircut, but to no avail. We walked past the hair people and there was an area roped off, so of course we had to see what this was about.

The girl guarding the "oh so special area" just happened to be someone my husband knew from the radio station. She thought she was really awesome though and was like, "Sorry guys, can't let you in." When I told her that I just wanted to get a picture with Perez she goes "Oh yeah, I already got one with him, it was awwwsome!" Bitch! So when she wasn't looking, we walked past her. But we were quickly stopped by another cheesy security guy (and I say cheesy because they were all skinny and wearing light pink and blue t shirts emblazoned with Perez's party logo, so they looked super intimidating) but we just gave him the same story as the guy at the front door and he was like, "Oh! Ok, then you're fine. Have fun!"

SO, I bet you can guess, in the "special" area, it was more of the same. Free mojitos and people looking like they felt really important. At least it wasn't as crowded. And then...we saw him. Perez in all of his glory. I quickly handed my camera to my husband and moved in to ask for the photo op. I had to wait for him to finish talking to a really scary looking girl and then I got my chance.

"Perez! Can I get a picture?"

He looked nonplussed. "Yeah," he said flatly. He was wearing way more makeup than I was and had obviously visited the crazy hairdo people outside.

I tried to make him smile and want to be my best friend. "You look really hot," I cooed. But he just smiled for the camera and that was it. Picture taken, and he was gone.

UM, ok. Did Perez Hilton, famous in part for talking crap about celebrities for not being very nice to their fans, just blow me off??? I am a HUGE fan! And there's no way he could have known how much crap we had already given his "security" people, so what gives??? Well...let's just say we made up for it later.

Soon after the Perez encounter, yet another "security" guy noticed that we did not have some sort of blue wristband that we were apparently supposed to have to be in the "special" area. We argued with this guy for awhile, using the same argument that had been working so well before ("We're so important!") but this guy was not having it. But he was such a douche about it that we basically just refused to leave. So the douche returns to us with an even BIGGER douche, a guy who was wearing a white baseball hat with the bill FLIPPED UP, and this guy informed us that this was HIS party and that we better leave now. I told him I thought it was Perez's party, and the PR girl totally let us in here so he better leave us alone. This infuriated him and he accused me of threatening him. To make a long and probably not that interesting story shorter, we ended up leaving on our own accord, only to just waltz back in the back door and get another drink in the "special" area not even 5 minutes later.

We found some friends (who shall remain nameless) and hung out with them (very peacefully) for awhile, when douche #1 saw us again and immediately came back over and told us we'd better leave. At this point it was just a big joke to us. My husband pointed out that most of the people in the "special" area didn't have wristbands and why was he picking on us? Well, he called white baseball hat douche over again and it was like de ja vu. Except this time there were supposedly police on the way to kick us out. RIGHT. So again, we walked out on our own and had another good laugh. We contemplated going back in again but decided we wanted to go see some music.

Which brings me to this point...Perez was so excited about his music lineup, which included N.E.R.D., Robyn, Katy Perry and a bunch of other bands I have never really heard of or care about. We really didn't watch any of the music while we were there. I know that Perez prides himself on introducing new artists, but in a week where there is such saturation of no name bands, and not to mention the fact that is a celebrity gossip website, I would think that his party would have been more exciting with some actual celebrity guests in attendance. The only "celebrity" I saw was Cisco Adler, who is famous for dating Mischa Barton and I think is technically a musician...? wrap this all up, I was disappointed. And I don't know if my disappointment has anything to do with it, but I haven't been to since. Oh, and my husband didn't exactly have glowing things to say about Wrigley's 5 Gum on Monday morning...sorry Stacy. But you should have made sure we had the special blue wristbands.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW 2008: A Review

So this year I decided to take the plunge and do SXSW, full force. I volunteered my skills for a couple hours and got a Gold Badge, which got me into the film and interactive events. I liked this badge, because most of the events I wanted to do were film-related, and the films ran all week long. Also, it is more difficult to get into films without a badge than it is to get into the music events.

What I learned by doing SXSW:

You will not get to do all the things you want. There is always a million things going on at once, and logistics get in the way. What I ended up doing that worked well is I took my pocket schedule, crossed out times I was working, and then picked out things I wanted to do by looking at what was going on when I was free. A little planning goes a loong way.
Open bar is great; drinking excessively is not. You will not survive SXSW if you spend the whole thing drinking. It is too much work, too much walking, too many people. Alcohol can do weird things to you when you are already tired and a bit dehydrated to start. Plus, the lines for booze can be really long.

The film and interactive parties are overrated. I wasn't terribly impressed with the film parties and didn't see how they really differed from just going out, besides a lot more schmoozing and some swag. There was not one party I went to where people were dancing (ok, one exception) and I didn't even see anyone who was recognizably famous. A lot of line-waiting and people crammed into tight spaces. The one exception to this "overrated" title was the Frog Design Party. This was the one non-music party I thought was worth going to. It was at the Mexican American Cultural Center, a huge and lovely space, and they hired fire dancers and break dancers to keep things lively. Also , Grupo Fantasma played indoors and they are always fun and keep people dancing. I had a blast there.

The music parties are worth going to. Because there's music. Duh. But parties are worth going to when they have free food. You can't beat free. SXSW is all about looking for Free Stuff.

And now for the reviews!!

Films I saw: 21, Flying on One Engine, Secrecy, Reel Shorts 2, Stop-Loss, Mister Lonely, Registered Sex Offender

Best Films: Flying on One Engine, a documentary about Dr. Sharadkumar Dicksheet, a plastic surgeon who is paralyzed on one side, has no larynx, and an aortic aneurysm, yet travels to India for six-month periods to provide free marathon plastic surgery to children who have cleft lips and other facial deformities, was extremely touching and fascinating. I was riveted.

Mister Lonely, a very strange and beautiful film from Harmony Korine, follows a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) to a commune in the Highlands for celebrity impersonators. Weird as the film was, I found it ten times more human and moving than the two big-budget pictures I saw during SXSW. Diego Luna is perfect as Michael Jackson; a perfect performance. I couldn't keep my eyes off him. Samantha Morton was also fantastic as Marilyn Monroe. I also really enjoyed some of the nontraditional storytelling devices Korine used--song, soliloquy (especially Buckwheat's "Chicken" monologue), and symbolism. I hope this picture is released nationwide in the US. It really was a movie unlike any other I've seen before.

Music: I wish I saw more of it. I didn't have a music schedule, so the music I happened upon was all through word-of-mouth or walking by, hearing it and liking it and getting in. One great new discovery: French singer Yael Naim. She reminded me of Regina Spektor but with a little Alicia Keys thrown in. She has a sexy killer cover of Britney Spear's "Toxic."

And of course, I went to Japan Nite. (This is the third year in a row I've been.) I have to say, I was slightly disappointed. In the past it's been a lot of high-energy punk and ska bands, and this year, well, there wasn't. However, I did like Maki Rinka, a 1940s-esque jazz band whose smooth sound was nice to relax too after a long day of walking, and Damage, an alternative band reminiscient of Nirvana. Once the Emeralds took the stage though, the energy in Elysium went through the roof. They put on one of the best, most high-energy stage shows I've seen anywhere. By 1 AM when the Pillows took the stage, the crowd was up and the place was packed. I really enjoyed the pop rock of the Pillows, who apparently have a following in the US. All in all an enjoyable night, although no one band really blew me away. I guess it's hard to top last year's Go!Go!7188 who are, by my estimation, a killer band. Those girls are the most skilled rock guitarists I've ever seen and they brought down the house last year. Austin needs them to come back, in their own show.

So there you have it. SXSW 2008 in a nutshell. Can't wait for next year!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Working hard vs. Busting your ass

Is there a difference? Yes there is.

I'm currently involved in a project called, "The Monologue Project". It's a collaboration between Pollyanna Theatre Company and Ballet Austin which touches upon the bullying issues that teens and preteens face in school.

The beginning of our dress rehearsal today got off to such a rocky start that the director and choreographer stopped us (after the first 10 minutes), told us to WAKE UP and start from the top.

I wasn't surprised by their comments, because personally I wasn't present. I walked in with the intention of kicking ass and having a great rehearsal, but I let something I took personally get to me and I lost my focus. I'm pretty sure that for other reasons other cast members felt disconnected as well. Maybe some were tired, maybe some didn't want to be there. Who knows? I could feel that energy, and along with mine, the whole room reeked from it.

Anyways, the second go around was MUCH BETTER. We all managed to put the crap aside and get present.

After we were all back in our street clothes and ready for notes, Thadius (the choreographer) gave a speech. He likes to give speeches and I gotta say, they're pretty damn inspiring. Thadius told us that we need to bring our "A Game" every day. And that our A Game for today should not be the same as it was yesterday. It should be set at a higher level. That means come in every day and bust our asses.

He spoke in terms of a dancer's life, and said often times in dance if you do something less than stellar, your feedback is nicely said, "You need to work a bit harder". He decided to give it to us "raw" because he said we needed to hear it.

So what's the difference? For me, the difference is as follows:

Patricia "Works Hard" Scenario:

I had rehearsal today at 2, so I read through my lines for a 30 minutes early in the morning. Then I went to rehearsal and worked hard. I put all my energy and heart into the performance and was exhausted afterwards. Worked out for 1 hour; did morning pages cause I kinda felt like it...

Patricia "Busts her Ass" Scenario:

I woke up at 5 am, wrote my morning pages, worked out for an hour, after work went to rehearsal for two hours, came home, worked out for 45 minutes, worked on monologues for 1.5 hours, looked for acting jobs and submitted myself for about 30 minutes, worked on lines for upcoming show 2 hours.

Do you see the difference? It's not just about doing what you HAVE to's about doing what you have to do AND doing what you need to do (and what you should want to do) in order to keep your instrument polished and help you continue to get further in this business. You have to be willing to stick with it even when you feel like just quitting and sitting in front of the TV, or sleeping an extra 30 minutes.

It's like my girl, Michelle wrote in an earlier blog (An Actor's Life) "...if you don’t want to work on it every single day...if you are not 100 percent sure that you can deal with the...struggle and hard work then you need to find a new dream. It’s not all glitz and glamour all the time."

Thadius finished by telling us actors and dancers that if we're only willing to work hard rather than bust our asses every day, we need to remember that there's always someone else out there that's busting their ass and ready to take your spot.

Patricia A. Robinson

Facebook and the new avenue for film makers, etc.

Last Sunday I went to the Facebook Film Garage. Although I've heard rumors of TV and film moving more toward the Internet, attending this session was a real eye opener.

Not only is the Internet becoming another avenue for people to get their work out there, it's also becoming a way for studios to make casting decisions for their films and promote the upcoming projects.

Putting together a movie is hard enough, and money is a big one. Using the Internet gives others the opportunity to get their work out there and promote it even if they're working on a $100 budget. By setting up a page on Facebook, put your movie on it, then search for people interested in your movie genre, send them an email and ask them to check out your website. If they like it, they can blog about it and tell their friends and family to check it out (word of mouth).

*When the studio behind the film Iron Man were trying to decide whether or not Robert Downey Jr. would be a good match in the role of Iron Man, they went to the fans. Based on the fan's feedback on the Internet (ex. "Robert Downey Jr. would be perfect for this role...", etc.) the studio made the choice to cast him.

*an example given by one of the Facebook Film Garage speakers

Since the Internet helps make the world a much smaller place, filmmakers from other parts of the world with small budgets can also use it (Facebook, Myspace, etc.) to share their work with a wider, more diverse audience.

This business is booming. So much so that people are creating businesses/websites for this purpose. I spoke with someone that worked for one of these businesses out in LA and he said they were so busy now, they could hardly keep up. When asked if he thought this way was the future for film and TV, he comments, "I know it is."

Patricia A. Robinson