Thursday, August 31, 2006

Atlanta -- Best Mock Doc

The fine folks at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival named The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah the Best Mock Documentary Feature. (Of course, I don't know how many mock doc features were at the fest, but regardless, they did single the film out for an award...)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

IFC Media Lab

IFC (the Independent Film Channel) has started an online "media lab" -- people can upload short films and videos, and registered users can view these films and vote on them (rating them from 1 to 10). It all seems a little hyper-competitive, and I'm not a big fan of making films compete with one another.

However, given that the "prize" for this competition is your film getting shown on IFC, I went ahead and put the trailer for The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah up there.

So, if you're inclined to register (it's free) and view the trailer, I'd appreciate your vote/rating.

You can find it at:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine just opened, much to my surprise, here in Waco, so I went to see it the first day it opened, because, let's be honest, who knows how long it will last here?

So, a brief review here. BEWARE OF SPOILERS --

I liked it. I certainly can't say that I loved it, but I was taken with what was ultimately a sweet story underneath what got to be an excessive amount of crass comedy. I think Alan Arkin is a terrific and funny actor, but I can't say I was sorry to see him croak in the film, because I was getting sick of the profane-laden sex advice he was fond of giving.

I'm not a prude, really. It just got old fast, and as a reviewer pointed out, the profane gramdpa bit is wearing a little thin these days.

The fact that this film won at Sundance is disconcerting on a few levels. First, it's just okay. I would go as far as to say it's good. But the prize-winner at Sundance? I find it hard to believe there weren't more-deserving films out there. And that leads me to my second point: just how indie is a film starring these major stars? Okay, it's not like Jim Carrey is in the movie, but Greg Kinnear is an Oscar nominee, and Steve Carrell is the Emmy-nominated star of a hit sitcom. They aren't exactly unknowns. My point is that there should fests like Sundance should be focusing on more "true indie" films. I realize this is a popular opinion among indie filmmakers like myself, so who am I to talk?

Incidentally, Steve Carrell is impressive in this film, in part because it calls upon him to do some serious acting. I always knew he had really sharp comic timing, and that's on display here as well in more muted fashion, but his dramatic chops are pretty impressive as well. I found myself touched by this character's sadness, and his sadness is balanced well with his genuine feeling for his extended family in key scenes of the film.

Overall, again, a decent film, but not one I'm running out to buy on DVD when it's available.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Aren't there other people to do jury duty?

Seriously -- I've lived in Texas for only two years and have now been summoned to jury duty THREE TIMES. Three times in two years! I lived in Virginia for eleven years and NEVER got called there.

So, are we running out of potential jurors in the county or something?

I'm all for doing my civic duty. In fact, I'd find actually serving on a jury quite interesting (I have been called to duty but have yet to be placed on a jury). I would have found it very interesting for those eleven years in Virginia when I wouldn't care about missing a day of work (then again, I wouldn't have minded missing weeks at a time at my previous job).

But now I have classes to teach, and every missed class really throws the schedule out of whack. And I'm already going to have to miss several classes this term because of film festivals and such.

Ineterestingly, my summons indicates I have to appear on a Thursday at 3:45pm. Strange time for jury duty to start, I think, but at least I can probably make it without having it affect my classes, as I'm done with my last class for the week at 3:20pm on Thursday...

Friday, August 25, 2006

One week

Well, the first week of the fall semester is history, and I have a good feeling about things. I didn't change a whole lot about what I'm doing in my classes, but thanks to a faculty development seminar I did this summer, I went into the first-day orientation with a very positive attitude, and I spent time involving students in the orientation (by asking them to read from the syllabus, and by having a little fun making sure we all knew each others' names).

I sense I have some good groups in my classes -- very inquisitive and most of them are very engaged (if any of my students are reading this: no really, I'm serious). So I'm looking forward to the semester.

Also to come this fall: my third-year review for tenure, which at my university is the first really "serious" review (according to my colleagues). Not that the previous two didn't count, but the scrutiny is tougher in this one, with more constructive criticism, I am told. So I've been gathering my documents and accolades and service opportunities to put it all in my tenure notebook. The review will be in October or November.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Latest Fest News

Another invitation, this time to be the closing night film of the South Padre Island Film Festival (at the "tropical tip of Texas").

Monday, August 21, 2006

IFILM results...

Well, in about a day of being on the main page of IFILM, my film managed to get 3,158 views/hits, and cracked the top 20 comedy trailers on IFILM, placing at #17:

Maybe this will yield some distribution possibilities...

Friday, August 18, 2006


Check out the iFILM homepage on Sunday. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah is supposed to be a featured trailer on the main page.

And there it is, the trailer for my film at the top of the IFILM homepage. That's really, really cool.

Update #2:
I checked the film's trailer on IFILM, and it's been viewed 600 times. I realize many films on IFILM have been viewed thousands of times, but 600 views for my indie film is just kind of cool, to me anyway.

Update #3: Over 1000 hits on the IFILM trailer so far. Not sure when my "homepage exposure" will end -- by tomorrow at the latest -- but I'm enjoying knowing so many people are finding out about the film.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Rear-ended today on the way to work. Already stiffening up, neck getting sore. Not fun.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Microfilmmaker Magazine loves AMERICAN MESSIAH

The latest review of the film is out, from Microfilmmaker Magazine, and they love it. They also named The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah the "Editor's Choice" film for August 2006.

Check out the review.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Passing by Phone

Okay, weird call today. My wife got a call from (GUY) at (NY PRODUCTION COMPANY). Said company was reading a couple of my scripts -- like six months ago. I wrote them off a month or so back. So when my wife called to tell me that GUY from NY PRODCO called me and wanted to talk to me about the scripts I submitted, I was naturally pleased, thinking maybe that it just took them some time to get to the scripts, but ultimately they liked them (and they were a good fit for a NY-based indie prodco).

No, in fact, he was calling just to pass. And not a "we love your stuff, please send us something else" pass. It was like getting a generic "we pass" letter, but by phone.

Weird. A sign of respect? A polite assistant, sorry that it took so long? A nasty assistant who likes to hear the depressed voices of people he rejects?

Who knows? Any guesses?

Friday, August 11, 2006


Laziness prevented me from adding this blog to my StatCounter account (I already tracked my old blog and my Theoretical Entertainment site).

So now it's added. I'm counting.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Curb Your Enthusiasm marathon

I just got the Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 5 DVDs in the mail from Netflix this week, and I binged on the 10-episode season, watching every episode over the last couple of days. The show is hilarious, and while season four was funny, I felt like this was a real return to form after spending the previous season mired down by the "Larry is cast in The Producers" storyline.

Curb is one of the stylistic influences on my feature. It started out as a mock doc hour-long HBO special, and it was so realistic and natural that people didn't realize it wasn't real -- in spite of the fact that it obviously would have required multiple cameras for the multiple camera angles. I wanted to capture that style for my film. And I think I did, aside from when I intentionally went with a more traditional dramatic/narrative style and ignored the documentary style.

I also felt that the character of Larry David, being so acerbic and unlikable was a good role model for "Brian" in American Messiah -- it made me feel that you COULD base an entire narrative around an essentially unlikeable (yet oddly watchable) character.

Anyway, Curb is great, if a bit predictable at times (the rhythm and style of the show is such that, if you're a regular viewer, you start to see where the joke is leading -- but part of the joy of watching it is knowing this in advance and still seeing Larry fall into a mess, usually of his own making).