Friday, December 29, 2006

The Holidays Can Be... Interesting

Okay, so I haven't been blogging throughout the holidays. I've had a good break. Got to see a couple of good movies (Apocalypto and The Good Shepherd). Had a good time with my in-laws (who are terrific people, and no -- they don't read my blog).

They left on Tuesday, and my parents flew into town on Thursday. I almost got the house back to normal before they arrived. Picked them up at the airport, and we went out to lunch. Everything was great. Got back to the house, and my dad was feeling tired. I attributed this to the fact that they left their house in Atlanta at 5am to catch an early-ish flight.

When he woke up from an extended nap, he felt miserable. Fearing strep or the flu (and concerned about having a pregnant wife at home), I encouraged him to let me take him to an urgent care center, so we'd know what we were dealing with.

It isn't the flu.

And it's not strep.

Can you say, "pneumonia"?

Yikes. So my poor dad is laid up, away from his own home, with pneumonia. And no one can go near his bedroom, of course. The doctor is giving him mega-doses of antibiotics and trying to keep him out of the hospital and get him well enough to get home!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coming Soon... a DVD retailer near you. Okay, actually my movie, The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah, is going to be self-distributed via CustomFlix (for now -- I'm still pursuing distribution options).

You can buy it soon -- in the next few weeks -- via CustomFlix:

It's a "Special Edition" 2-disc set, with a 60-minute "making-of" documentary (an excellent piece made by one of my former students) and 30+minutes of deleted scenes.

I'll announce the official release when it's available. At the moment, it's still processing through the CustomFlix system.

NFL Super Bowl Ad

As I posted previously, I was a judge for the NFL's "Pitch the Best Super Bowl Ad Ever" competition. I went to Dallas a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, my first ever visit to Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. And given that this was the NFL's gig, it all took place in the press areas and the sky boxes. Jerry Jones has done some nice stuff up there. I felt like a real VIP while using the monogrammed paper towels in the bathrooms in the Jerry Jones screening room.

Turnout was a little light in the late afternoon that day, but I heard a bunch of pitches, had a good time watching college football with the NFL's marketing folks, and ate a bunch of catered food, all while sitting in a press box overlooking the field. Very cool.

So now they've narrowed it down to twelve finalists who pitched great commercial ideas. Some of these are really great. Take a look, and vote if you're interested. I'm told you can vote once a day, so if you have a favorite, you can come back and keep voting for him or her.

NFL's Super Bowl Ad Finalists

Officially Announcing...

...the newest member of the Hansen clan:
Hansen kid #4 is due in mid-July.

Christmas Has Officially Begun...

...for me, anyway. I can never get fully into the season until the last of my work responsibilities are complete. Commencement was this past Saturday (I serve as a faculty marshall for the ceremony), and that is the official end of my "daily" duties for school. Of course, I still have stuff to do, and I will still do some work over the holidays, I am sure, but for now, I don't have anything really weighing on me.

So I've (a) gotten sick (always happens to me as soon as classes are done, as if my body holds out until it knows I can collapse; (b) done a bunch of Christmas shopping (are crowds getting worse? Yikes -- I hate going out to the stores and dealing with crashing shopping carts and all those people!); (c) slept in (well, almost. I still get up to take the kids to school -- which is tough when you're not a morning person. I have to get them to school by 7:30-ish!); and (d) started thinking about my new film.

Clean Freak is a short documentary about, um, me. Okay, so I'm trying to make this film without a full cadre of people working on it with me, so I decided to exploit my own neuroses. And I'm a bit of a clean freak. I come by it naturally -- my mother is an inveterate clean freak, and I've inherited her tendencies. So I'm using this documentary to explore the ways this obsession gets in the way of life. But I also want to use it to explore the state of the documentary form, and the ways in which documentarians "lie" with real footage, or recreate events on camera to "tell the truth" (as they see it). So I'm really going to try to do some interesting reflexive stuff with this film, and I have no idea where it's going to end up at this point, which is both exhilirating and frightening.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Wrapping Up the Fall

Fall semester classes ended last week, and I've got all my projects graded and final grades posted as of this afternoon. That's always a big load off my mind, as my classes tend to be very project drive, and I end up with long projects due at the end of the semester, requiring an intense period of grading. But I saw some really great work from my students.

Also on tap this week: jury duty. Yay. I have to drive to a neighboring town because I was assigned to a trial there. It's abotu 30 minutes away (as opposed to the ten minute drive to downtown Waco where local trials take place).

So I have Tuesday and Wednesday to work on syllabi for next semester, specifically my course on "Mavericks of the 1970s American Cinema." We'll be studying Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Kubrick, and others. It's one of my favorite periods of the cinema, and I'm looking forward to delving into it once again to teach the course. I've been working on my screening schedule for the semester, breaking it down by which films (from the 70s) I should show from each filmmaker. The big ones are easy (i.e., the major films from the filmmakers I mentioned above). By focusing on just the 70s, I can show almost all of the films they made in that limited period. Where I'm vacillating is on the other films and filmmakers to show. I want to show Lucas's THX 1138 and possibly American Grafitti (though I've never loved that film, to be honest). Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind will be fun to revisit. I'm thinking about The Parallax View and The Candidate to explore the political atmosphere (or to explore how politics impacted the filmmakers of the period). Any other recommendations?

In other news, I finally had a successful grant application. I won a small grant to pay for some student labor on my next (short) film, which I'll be shooting on and off through the spring and summer. It's called Clean Freak.