Thursday, March 28, 2013

I AM a writer, dammit!

I am.
I am, I am, I am.

If I sound petulant, it's because I'm tired of arguing with myself. On one level, yes. I am a writer. It's what I get paid to do. It's in my job description. It's my day job's raison d'etre if you want to get all fancy and French about it.

But on one level, I'm not. On that level, I'm a a procrastinator. And a perfectionist. And a self-promotion artist. Who, to be honest, should spend more time writing and less time self-promoting. And every time I whine about not having enough time, I think about Stephen King banging out Carrie on a typewriter on his motherfucking lap, sitting between the washer and the dryer with a couple of kids and a wife outside the door waiting for him.

So. I've fallen short where it hurts the most. With my own writing. And the most success I've had to date focusing and actually getting shit done has been during Nanowrimo. Which falls during November. Until, that is, I saw that holy crap! There's a summer camp! There are TWO summer camps. And damn it, I'm doing both of them. There. It's in writing.

The poems. The short stories. The novels. The children's books. The sketch comedy. The screenplays. For the love of god, something is going to get polished and finished and submitted.

And here is my inspiration: From J. Robert Lennon's March 24, 2013 review of Jamie Quatro's I Want to Show You More--

"A truly excellent writer, though, pursues her obsessions and allows them to dictate what form her work will take. That sounds simple, but in fact it is hard for any writer to recognize what those obsessions are, to face them squarely when they are frightening or puzzling, and to shape them into persuasive works of art. That is why we so admire what George Saunders is doing now, or what Alice Munro has been doing for the last few decades: They have been living with their obsessions for a long time and have figured out how to give them form."

And for just a little more to shoot for:
"Jamie Quatro's "I Want to Show You More" is an obsessive first collection that feels like a fifth or sixth. It is a dogged, brutally thoughtful piece of work, and gives us a writer of great originality and apparent artistic maturity who seems to have come out of is a strange, thrilling and disarmingly honest piece of work."

Coming soon. Ready or not.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hell No: 2013 SXSW Midnight Short Write-Up

While we didn't win an audience award this year, the energy and reactions in each screening were pitch perfect. Here's an excerpt from a nice write-up by Corey Mitchell of Bloody Disgusting:

"The best of the batch included the Austin-centric Hell No, which posited the question, “What if the characters in a horror film actually made the right choices?” Director Joe Nicolosi evokes the best of horror cliches and simply says, “No more stupid choices.” The result is a bloody good riot."

To read his entire midnight shorts write up, read on

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Film, Film, Film

Today was a work day for me--screenings of Coldwater followed by Spark: A Burning Man Story and Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton. So, so fun. First, the SXSW volunteers are amazing--so hanging out with Rachel Zern (manager), Rest (Austin graffiti artist) and others between films can hardly be considered work.

Coldwater came with the surprise bonus of a huge number of cast and crew members in addition to Director Vincent Grashaw. For the record, he and actor P.J. Boudousque are huggers--that always goes over well in the south. Great group of people. What a pleasure.

Then on to my burners' screening--so many enthusiastic Burning Man fans--both directors attended, and plenty of questions were asked.

Last--Big Joy. I'm ashamed to say I'd never even heard of James Broughton, so it was wonderful to be introduced to his work--especially by such a kind man as Stephen Silha and his lovely partner. I felt very badly that they received a ticket for the bed they had parked outside the theater--plus I heard rumors that one of their fans was hauled off in his underwear, but it seems appropriately subversive for the subject matter, and they managed to keep their joy in the face of it. (That's Stephen in the first picture!)
This, however, was Sixth Street when I left the Alamo Ritz. It is completely insane. It is also an incredibly lovely evening in the mid-70s, so I'm thinking we're going to make some more fans of ATX tonight. Three more movies tomorrow, and then I'm almost finished for the year. Sad!

Come see me at Topfer for the day screenings tomorrow (Short Term 12, Bayou Majarajah and Brothers Hypnotic) or come see the midnight shorts (complete with me wielding weaponry!) at Vimeo tomorrow night. There's plenty of seats--come claim yours!

Monday, March 11, 2013

SXSW: Bad to Way, Way Better

My not-so-good start was not the fault of SXSW in any way, shape or form. It is the fault of a possessed clock radio that began blaring classical music by itself at 4 a.m. And I am a girl who  has seen far too many horror movies to even consider venturing out of my bedroom and down the hall to check it out. So it played for 2.5 hours. (Sorry neighbors.)

From there I saw the sneak preview of A&E's Bates Motel--great work by Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highsmith. Q&A afterwards with one of the writers of the show.

The afternoon brought two doc screenings. Both attended by people who participated in creating the films, which is always the best part of SXSW. The first, Xmas without China, explored a Chinese American's challenge to an American family to go without anything made in China for the entire month of December. It's not easy.

The second, Crash Reel, told the story of champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce, his horrific head injury and his long road to recovery. The footage available for the making of the movie was astounding, and the story is an important one. Look for a theatrical release around Thanksgiving, and on HBO as well. Seeing the screening would be experience enough, but Kevin and his brother Adam and two-time Academy Award nominee Lucy Walker also attended and did a Q&A. #loveyourbrain

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SXSW: The Last 24 Hours

 How much awesome can we pack into 24 hours? Quite a lot. Let's start with the Midnight Shorts premiere--lots of freaky, freaky stuff made its way to the screen. So freaky, that I'm still thinking about them and glad to get the chance to see them all again on Thursday night.

Nice to see other Texans' works onscreen--Owen Egerton's Follow was quite a departure from other projects I've seen from him--what a talent! And Joe Nicolosi did it again--great audience reactions for Hell No. Plus, there was a lot of talk about assholes. Literally. And because my descriptions will not do the range justice, I can only recommend that you go see for yourself.

That brings us today. For three SXSW's I have, for one reason or another, missed the chance to see Jeffrey Tambor's acting workshop. Year four was finally my time. And it was well worth the wait. I had a visceral response to what he was doing. Elevated heartbeat, leaning forward in my chair, eyes tearing up, willing the action on-on with everything I could throw at it from my seat. I slid him my card. And made a pledge to figure out how to get the opportunity to learn from that man. He is insightful and kind and generous with his gifts. Good man. Great teacher.

Rest of the day included a free box of fortune cookies, interesting conversations, and a wasted hour at the Long Center. (Sorry Jash. If you're going to take an hour of our time for a commercial, why don't you make it not suck?) Ughh. No patience for that kind of coasting when there's so much good around! My fault--should have known better.

I really want to see the Bates Motel event tomorrow morning and will start movie watching in earnest in the afternoon. Yessssssssss.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Much Ado About Day 1: SXSW

Day One is awesome. While officially it is Day Two, it is Day One to me, so on we go. Started the day with Danny Boyle, an assaulting (he'd like that) clip from his new movie Trance, and gems such as this (paraphrased)
  • First time is always wonderful--have to work not to lose that innocence and avoid approaching projects as if you already know how you're going to do them. There's a danger in well-trod paths.
  • Similarities between priesthood and his current career path--'poncing around.
  • Direction to actors for pivotal Trainspotting scene "Do it like you have to pee."
  • Logline for Slumdog Millionaire: Amelie + Trainspotting
  • What makes a strong actor? Storytelling instinct and the willingness to experience on others' behalf
  • Idea that we reflect our lives through the prism of the popular music of the time
  • The existence of Elephants--a short film I haven't seen (but now will...)
  • Logline for Trance: Memento + Eternal Sunshine
From there, mad dash out to the line that wrapped outside and around the building to see Much Ado About Nothing. LOVED this film. So appreciative for acting that brought the Bard's words to life and helped me better understand the humor and pathos involved. Great work by all with a special shout-out to Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney who provided fabulous comic relief as the constabulary. And I got to see Joss Whedon and almost the entire cast (minus Riki Lindhome whom I love and a couple others).

This should be required watching in high school. Just saying.

Ok. Onward. Tonight is the premiere of Hell No! Another stellar project with Joe Nicolosi and the lovely Stephanie Noone. It's showing with the Midnight Shorts as part of this year's SXSW, and I could not be more excited to be a part of it! And, I heard our bumper played before the Evil Dead premiere last night. So SXSW has already been freaking awesome. Aaaaaaaand I have a week to go!