Monday, June 29, 2009

Referral

While I still have my sore throat, brother Brian is doing lots of interesting posts on the success of his new graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm having such a good day/night!

Some cool progressions with the movie, several of which I can't talk about. As always, you'll know when I can!

We have a fabulous new review up at Best Horror Movies. Pretty cool.

Hey, did anyone listen to my radio interview last week? Host Kurtis said it was super popular; had the most downloads. You can download the recording of WORST SHOW ON THE WEB's 6/15/09 episode to hear me talk for half on hour about THE COMMUNE and Chauntal Lewis losing her hand and becoming an activist. The hosts Kurtis and Harry, both Santa Rosans, were amazingly supportive and awesome. Thank you, guys!

Went with Brea Grant to the LA Film Festival to see HUMPDAY (Fabulous!) and finally met Mark Duplass (charming & brilliant...but more importantly, is his brother Jay single??).

(Speaking of film festivals, co-founder of DANCES WITH FILMS film festival Leslee Scallon has some great ideas about how we can support and increase female filmmakers' work in US festivals and at out multiplexes...she's a busy mom who's also still recovering from birthing the twelth year of DWF. But wanted to give you a heads up that she'll be guest columning here soon.)

Had a great planning conversation with editor Todd Miro about PISTOLERAS, then headed to the New Beverly to see the 2007 restoration 35mm print of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Still out of this world, but unimaginably better on a bigscreen with a worshipful audience.

B-day plans all week...it's a festivus!


Me and Randy Harris, talented writer/director of TINY LITTLE LIES.

Monday, June 22, 2009

1 in 4 South African men admit to rape

One in four male South Africans surveyed admitted to committing rape, according to a research group.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

50 movie posters from Berlin

Breathtaking collection. They distill each movie down to the id.



I want some Jungian Berlin artist to interpret THE COMMUNE!!!

On second thought, maybe I don't... ;)



UPDATE: Or Poland and Polish artists, as Ray helpfully pointed out. Have I mentioned my fever still hasn't gone away? And apologies to fabulous Barbara Stepansky, the one person I know from Poland.

A sonic scream from outside the Hollywood system...

By filmmaker Kate Perotti, it's MOMZ HOT ROCKS, a documentary on punk band member moms who are louder than their kids. Playing the Ventura Film Festival end of June.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

HollywoodFemmeGate continues...

Because women don't go to the movies and lead boring lives male viewers couldn't possibly find value in.

But a blow has been struck in the mighty northwest metropolis of progressive Seattle...

The Seattle International Film Festival has awarded the Jury Prize to a female director (Barbara Schroeder's Talhotblond) & top director awards to 3 more:

Best Director Golden Space Needle Award
Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker (USA, 2008)
First runner up: Lynn Shelton, for Humpday (USA, 2009)
Second runner up: Kari Skogland for Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)

And there were several more large prizes awarded to women.

Has this EVER happened in any other contest??

Congrats to women filmmakers, and to ALL of us!! Humans benefit when half of the population is valued.

Seattle International Film Festival's awards are a huge leap forward in what is the modern ghettoization of female stories.


Just to give you perspective, most screenwriting contests award less than a 1/5 of their prizes to women, and even at the truly independent and barrier-breaking Dances With Films festival there was only one female winner of the 13 awards given, and she was a co-director/writer/producer sharing the award with a male partner.

Maybe I'm just grasping at any little hope with the Seattle Film Festival's fantastic awards after this horrifying news out of Hollywood last week:

The Huffington Post
Thursday June 8, 2009
Women Don't Go to Movies
by Nia Vardalos

A little-known fact: some studios recently decided to no longer make female-lead movies.

Lately, I've been in meetings regarding a new script idea I have. A studio executive asked me to change the female lead to a male, because... "women don't go to movies."

Really?

When I pointed out the box office successes of Sex and The City, Mamma Mia, and Obsessed, he called them "flukes." He said "don't quote me on this." So, I'm telling everybody.



Oh...sigh.


Thanks to The Huffington Post for following up on this topic, especially after Ellen Snortland's article profiling me and Heidi as producers of THE COMMUNE with this slant just three days before.



I've personally been turned down by female managers who claim I'll never get funding for Pistoleras because "no one wants to see a female western."

Which means fellow women didn't even read page one of the screenplay that has won two big industry awards.

Here's one more interesting tidbit along the same subject, this time from respected online journal Cinematical. My favorite line from This article is "Women aren't flukes." My least favorite part is that there continue to be bone-headed comments to this brilliantly executed piece. If you replaced "female" with "black", your comments would seem unacceptable even to you, sir.

Cinematical:
Girls on Film: A Desire for Varied Female Protagonists is Not a Political Agenda

by Monika Bartyzel (ed. note: Wonder what the comments would have been like if it were Mark Bartyzel)

By now you've probably caught fellow Cinematical writer Dawn Taylor's posts about desiring female Pixar leads and wanting some Bechdel rule-abiding women in Star Trek. Both posts got their share of positive comments, but they also got a slew of knee-jerk reactions and vitriol. I don't want to rehash what Dawn already expressed well, nor get into another argument about specific female characterizations. Instead, I want to look into this neverending trend where any desire for a strong female character leads to complaints and accusations of a political agenda.

Ask for a certain type of female protagonist, discuss inequalities, gripe about the proliferation of poorly developed female characters, and in a flash, comments will pour in with a myriad of political catchwords like: feminist agenda, feminist rants, equality of the sexes, affirmative action, sexist conspiracy, and political correctness. These will be joined by painfully inaccurate sentiments that equate a desire for female success with wanting "every unfulfilled desire," Hollywood bending to charity and catering to specific audiences, wanting to exclude men from film, a lack of acceptance at the equality already reached, and of course, that including strong female protagonists is somehow sacrificing or tainting good work. (All of the reactions mentioned in this paragraph can be found in the comments on Dawn's two posts.)

The fact of the matter is: Wanting interesting and diverse female protagonists is not a political agenda. It's a widespread human trait found in both sexes: the desire to find camaraderie and others who are relatable and recognizable...


Please continue reading this fabulous article over at Cinematical.


Here's one more great recent mention on the topic. Unfortunately I can't seem to figure out who wrote it over at The Tracking Board. If it was a single straight man, sir, may I take you out to dinner? I'll even dress like Ripley.

"...One very interesting sidenote to this film, isn’t necessarily regarding this film directly, but the slow change Hollywood, and independent films are taking towards their choice in protagonists. Just in the past month alone, the amount of scripts we’ve seen sell, and new films we’ve seen cast, as well projects going in to production, it seems audiences are beginning to seek out the strong female lead.

“Today’s audience wants to see more and more strong women in film. Finally, film is getting exciting again.” director Alexandre Aja said in regards to his curious choice of Riley Steele in his new Piranha 3-D remake. (Aja also cast one of our favorite female leads to date with C├ęcile De France in his French release HAUTE TENSION.)

I know I’ve always had an eagerness and excitement to see the strong female lead return. Bring us back to the Ripley days of old. I think audiences are eager, and waiting."



I agree that audiences are eager and waiting. Now how do we convince the Gatekeepers funding the production of movies?

UPDATE: The comments section just became a Must-Read, as multi-talented, award-winning filmmaker Eric Escobar has shared his brilliant thoughts on race and gender casting in Hollywood, and whether they should and can be fought within the system (if you read his blog you know that's a NO).

Weird Al's Craigslist

Via Mediabistro.

What's on people's minds?

Just curious what you're out there thinking about, stewing over, laughing with...how's your summer so far??

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gay penguin dads

Awwww!

Another radio interview for THE COMMUNE

I was interviewed on blogradio! Episode 6/15/09 "The Hair & Horror Show" by Worst Show On The Web.

I'm on from 79:00 to the end of the episode and twenty minutes on into the greenroom!
We discuss "The Commune", but spend most of the time on Chauntal Lewis and her Believe and Become foundation.

Thanks to the gracious and talented hosts, Angeleno Kurtis Bedford and Santa Rosan Harry Duke! It was a pleasure, guys! Chauntal Lewis and I appreciate your generousity!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This is how you make a movie

Sorry, kids. Your father's STAR TREK was better.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
*****
Space opera on a grand scale. Everything from the classic story structer, directing, acting to the score are pitch perfect. Genuine emotion and universal human issues are at stake here (friendship, fatherhood, death, revenge, responsibility, mentorship), and that is what makes this movie timeless. Families will enjoy it for decades to come, long after the latest special effects bonanza has faded from the local multiplex.

The screenwriters did an expert job of giving each character a fantastic moment built from their established storylines on the series, without being an irritating wink that detracts from the current story. Yet you needn't be a Star Trek fan to understand and love this movie. "How we face death is at least as important as how we face life...I was wrong about you and I'm sorry...I'm very proud to be your son." Even the eye candy addition of Kirstie Allie is a fleshed-out character who fits integrally into the plot and is given beautiful, genuine interactions with our stalwart crew.

Elegant, humanist, exciting, and moving. One of my few picks to take to a desert island, and the very definition of a five star film.

Friday, June 12, 2009

SOCIAL MEDIA: unlocking the awesome potential of personality disorders

Oh look, my second fav Venn diagram. Via LA Fishbowl.

me me me, blah blah blah

So the one thing that's been missing forever now from our press kit and website is my Director's Statement. Which is a bad thing not to have, because reporters want to hear from the director. They want to know the director cared, and wasn't just for hire.

But I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Partly because it felt waaaay egotastic, and partly because it would literally be easier for me to write you a 70 page thesis on THE COMMUNE.

I'm not kidding. You've noticed how verbose I am, oui? Well...I have notebooks full of what and why and how things were done on THE COMMUNE. It's all purposeful, so how am I supposed to distill that down to one PR page and tell you I'm awesome so write about my movie?

Well apparently that's what sisters are for. Brenda woke up at 6 am yesterday and tossed this genius out like a true Fies. I filled in some details, but the majority is all her expert listening of me.


ABOUT ELISABETH FIES


Already an associate producer on Indie Spirit-awarded CONVENTIONEERS, tyro writer/director Elisabeth Fies has finally arrived with her acclaimed psychological thriller THE COMMUNE. Nobody loves watching movies more than Elisabeth. But, her years of education have trained her to see things others may not. From her undergraduate days examining pornography with Supreme Court expert witness Professor Neil Malamuth at UCLA, to her Graduate work at New School University in New York where she mastered in Media Studies, Elisabeth refined her intention of making responsible media with a message.

Returning to UCLA to complete her post Graduate Screenwriting Certificate provided the last piece of the puzzle for Elisabeth Fies to really understand the key elements required to make a good movie, which she feels are: structure, tone and purpose. “When any of these are faulty, it’s easy to lose your audience. I made it my mission to control the tone in THE COMMUNE.”

To date, Elisabeth has seen over five thousand movies and is ranked as #6 movie reviewer for NetFlix. While many movies have made an impact on her, her favorite movie remains a tie from twenty years ago. Elisabeth adores TERMINATOR 2 for its expert use of blockbuster storytelling to imbue a message of peace and feminism. But after viewing the emotionally raw SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE, she was inspired as she knew filmmaking would be the vehicle she would use to share her viewpoint with others. Elisabeth claims the three movies that directly influenced the making of THE COMMUNE were THE WICKER MAN, CHINATOWN, and DON'T LOOK NOW. After watching THE WICKER MAN, Elisabeth knew it was time to return to the 1970s thriller/horror masters to make a movie that subverted audiences' subconscious knowledge of genre mores, and like DON'T LOOK NOW make them care deeply about the characters whose pain they are watching.

Going home to the familiar surroundings of Sonoma County to film her feature was a comfort, and provided amazing locations never seen before on the big screen. Elisabeth is quick to point out that while Isis Oasis Sanctuary was a place she visited on more than one occasion while growing up, it is polar opposite to the type of commune depicted in her movie. It’s more of a wildlife sanctuary and the owner, Loreon Vigne, has been there since Fies’s childhood visits. They very graciously accommodated the cast and crew for 12 of their 18-day shoot schedule.

There were times in her Bohemian childhood that Fies remembers feeling like she was “the only grown up in the room” and recalls when she was encouraged to wrap a growling Ocelot around her neck, which she thought better of and didn’t understand what part of “angry cat” the adults outside the wild animal's cage did not see. It is that uneasiness that she used as a cornerstone throughout THE COMMUNE. “I find narcissism and lack of boundaries very dangerous and frightening.”

Contrary to making a statement about organized religion, Elisabeth guides her audience to consider the inherent dangers of blindly following cult leaders by depicting how truly disposable individual members may become. In addition, Fies tackles the topic of genetic cloning and megalomaniac's desire for eternal life through offspring. These are relevant, sensational topics both nationally (the Texas cult “Yearning for Zion Ranch”) as well as internationally (the “House of Horror” in Austria). At the world premiere Q & A for THE COMMUNE, Elisabeth remarked to a cheering crowd “I'm not against organized religion, I'm against hypocrisy. If you say you're about love and crystals, be about love and crystals. Don't hoard all the money and eff little girls.”

THE COMMUNE utilizes the archetypal trinity Virgin, Mother, Crone in the three female leads. It has a heavy undertone of mythology to showcase its message, from the naming of characters to the background images in each scene. Elisabeth’s goal is to expose taboo topics that have existed for thousands of years, crossing over cultural lines, coming at the expense of women and ultimately civilized societies. She also depicts the three different reactions women have to incest, as well as giving all three generations of women a sex and dance scene to express their varying sexuality.

In prepping to lead a male crew, Elisabeth incorporated several command styles, including THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, and brilliant military strategist Colonel Van Riper's IN COMMAND AND OUT OF CONTROL. She also received advice from boundary-breaking studio film director and master of horror Katt Shea. Many of the crew had never before worked for a “lady director”, and are anxious to be on Elisabeth's next film. "This time I got naked in front of the crew when I couldn't find an actress who would do nudity. Next time I'm buying us all platoon tattoos."

Upcoming projects include executive producing the horror anthology I HATE LA (going into production in July 2009) and raising the money for PISTOLERAS, her multiple-award-winning and beloved blockbuster screenplay about a clique of outsider teenage girls who are sold into a Mexican sex slavery ring and fight back to free all the children.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

7 Reasons Why the Horror Genre is Dying

I heart this article. Total agreement from me.

The Dances With Films festival crowd


Sunset Laemmle 5, packed! We love it!

I didn't tell you, we almost didn't get into our own movie! Yikes and cool!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Flip

Check out my friend's funny, multiple-award-winning 48 hour short film! Matt Orchowski was the key grip on THE COMMUNE, as well as playing two characters in the film. He's a great guy. And here you get to see his amazing work as his REAL day job: a talented DP!

Hit "full screen" to really see it:


Matt drove all the way out from Vegas to be at our world premiere! How cool is THAT? Can't wait to work again with someone so talented, tenacious, fun, egoless, AND supportive and loyal...he's got everything you need to "make it".

Someone videotaped my Q & A!!!

Here I am at 2 am in the Sunset Laemmle 5!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Huffington Post reviews The Commune

Are you kidding me???? What an honor.

The freaking Huffington Post article.

Front page of the Entertainment section! Has been for days!!!

Gogosha Face of the Day

Look at what amazingly rad awesome talented adorable hiptress fashionmaker Julia Gogosha did for me on my premiere day.

Do I have the coolest friends, or what? I am SOOOO lucky!

A pic from the premiere!

Me, Chauntal, and her momma!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Insight 101

Don't you get pissed when people tell you you can't write something on your own blog/site/twitter/facebook account??

They come on to your site, tell you you're wrong, and in so many words to shut the eff up??

I just saw Back to the Future again where Marty's fatal flaw was being called chicken...it would totally goad him into doing something stupid to prove he wasn't.

Mine is a man telling me I can't speak.

And whenever I stick up for myself after being attacked and told to shut down, it's always the same reaction: shock that I have an opinion, and hurt that I wasn't thrilled to be talked down to and set straight by his kingly wisdom.

Usually by someone whose opinion I don't respect. Someone who doesn't have the education and life experience I seek out in a person whose advice I'm actually asking for. Certainly not the type of person who sees the world in such black and white terms they would have the lack of boundaries to come into your world and tell you you're an idiot and only they are right. Wow. Just...wow. Must be nice living in Candyland.

I have so many friends with differing opinions, and I would DIE for their right to have them. I love them for it. But I respect them by not telling them they're wrong, or by telling them what they should think. And this blog is just where I say what I think. You can read or not read, agree or disagree...it's my space for my opinion.

I can't figure out where they're coming from. What do they want to achieve by telling me I don't have a right to free speech? Do they care about me and want to protect me from my own opinion? Do they really think only they are right and no one else can think for themselves, particularly women with their little bird brains? What do they think they're going to accomplish with their patronizing speeches to me?


Because what happens is: I see fucking flames! After all we've been through as women to get the ability to vote, to sit at the same table, to speak our minds... a guy telling me I can't say what I want to, especially in my own hard-earned webspace I've built is such a horrible, threatening personal attack it's just, just arrrrrrgh!!!....

It totally invalidates my core values I believe no human can live without...self-expression, partnership, empowerment, love, fun, enthusiasm...

Then there's the whole I'm the youngest child thing, so my opinion has already been invalidated most my life...and there's the public head injury thing, so you can SEE how I would find it utterly charming and winning to be told by a man that my brain doesn't work. Sign me up for more of that!!


Finally getting this. And now I need to stop falling for it. And just let it slide by.

Delete comment. Delete "friendship." Boundaries up!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

2 of my favorite people on one of my favorite topics

It doesn't get better or more important than Ellen Snortland and Gavin DeBecker telling us how to keep our women safe in this country. A must read.

Is Hollywood Abandoning Los Angeles?

Great Hollywood Hills symposium June 16th.

YES!!! Heathers sequel in the works

And my life is complete. A bus accident is now calling my name...

As if it weren't enough...

to worry about Friday night...I'm also naked in the movie, Brenda thinks people will fall asleep, AND...

I just starting counting how many exes will be in attendance.


Blimey! I get around a lot for someone who doesn't get around a lot.

Guess that's what nine years of living in LA does to a gal.

Brilliant social media campaign

You're So Year One...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Um...THANKS?!!

Big Sister:

"Hey, remember how three different guys fell asleep when you screened THE COMMUNE for them at our house? Aren't you worried the whole audience will do that at 1 am?
Especially after we've given them alcohol at the benefit?"



...!


Well, I WASN'T....