Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Great Filmmaking Losses

I was still fairly reeling from the loss of one of the filmmakers whose work inspired me to become one myself ("Ingmar Bergman, master of the art of darkness, dies at 89") when I read this morning that Michaelangelo Antonioni died within hours of Bergman ("Antonioni, film's 'poet of ennui', dies at 94").

Obviously, it's a sad day and a loss for the artistic community. On the other hand, these men lived to ripe old ages and made many great films. Which doesn't make it any less sad -- but at least it's not tragic.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Productive Day

Things accomplished today:

1 -- wrote one of two script reviews/feedback reports that I have to do for the UFVA annual conference next week (my script was selected for a reading and response, so I have to do two responses myself). Incidentally, my film is also screening there as a finalist in the juried screening category.

2 -- mowed the front lawn, AND got a compliment on how green the grass looks from my green-thumb neighbor. Traditionally, my lawn -- while not horrible or overgrown with weeds -- never looks great. And last summer, while I was on the road for three weeks, I forgot to have the lawn watered, and the only green left was from the weeds. So to actually get a compliment is a real achievement.

3 -- went to see The Simpsons Movie on opening weekend. Okay, technically I haven't done this yet as I'm planning to see it tonight, but I'm still counting it.

Currently Watching
: Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau's Tanner '88, an HBO series from 1988 chronicling the presidential candidacy of faux candidate Jack Tanner. Good stuff. I'm five episodes into the 11 episode series. I got the Criterion Collection edition for my birthday earlier this month, and I'm just now getting around to it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Incident at Loch Ness

I watched a film today that's been sitting on my DVR for weeks, Incident at Loch Ness, directed by Zack Penn. It's an ingenious faux documentary that purports to follow enigmatic filmmaker Werner Herzog as he makes a film about Loch Ness called Enigma of Loch Ness. Zach Penn, a Hollywood screenwriter, is producing the Herzog movie, and a documentary crew is recording this as part of THEIR documentary about Herzog. Confused yet?

Penn, who wrote and directed this film, gamely sends up the Hollywood establishment by playing himself as a total sell out now that he has achieved the "power" of the producer. He does all the things that he himself, as a screenwriter, would hate -- hiring a model to pretend to be a sonar operator; planning a fake Nessie for the cameras, etc. All of this is done behind Herzog's back. While Herzog is trying to make a documentary about why people choose to believe in myths like the Loch Ness Monster, Penn is trying to "sex it up" and turn the film into a blockbuster.

Of course, the inevitable happens -- they encounter the real thing. But even though this is inevitable and we expect it, the film really creates an entertaining experience along the way. The growing tension between Penn and Herzog, especially as Herzog discovers Penn's lies, is palpable, and Herzog is a pretty naturalistic actor. One throwaway comment by Penn, after Herzog has called him out, was priceless. I can't recall the precise wording, but it was something to the effect of: "At least I didn't drag a boat over an island," to which Herzog spins and says, "What did you say?"

This is, of course, a reference to Herzog's Fitzcarraldo as well as his reputation as a dictatorial, crazy filmmaker.

It's a smart film that works overtime to maintain verisimilitude and convince you that it's real. In fact, the only thing that prevents the viewer from really buying into it is that, had these events really occurred on the set of a film by such a noted director, the whole world would know about it (or at least the film buffs likely to watch a film by or about Herzog).

If you have the opportunity, I recommend you check it out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Bullets

Well, I've just had nothing substantial to say of late, because I'm not sleeping that much, what with the new baby and all. Actually, my wife isn't sleeping that much. I'm sleeping more than her, but still not enough. My in-laws left yesterday. They had been here since Ava arrived, but now that they're gone, it's just the two of us and four kids. We're completely outnumbered here. They can double up on us.

I'm kidding, of course. We're doing fine, if a bit tired and overwhelmed in the standard ways parents are when they have a new baby. The timing was good, though, because I am not teaching this summer, so I don't have to get up super early to drop the kids off at school and go to the office.

In other news, plans to shoot Endings next summer are ongoing. We have some money committed, and we're looking for a bit more. The producer and production designer from American Messiah are already back. and I'm working on the editor (who will also be the animator for animated sequences) as well.

Clean Freak is moving along more slowly, in part because of the crazy summer (the baby, etc.). But I'm working on it. When I get my act together and start editing some of the footage, I will try to post a scene or two here (via YouTube, probably).

Finally, I just have to comment on the situation with Michael Vick. I'm a longtime Atlanta Falcons fan -- which is, in itself, a long-suffering vocation. This whole thing with Vick and his federal indictment on dogfighting charges is just a major disappointment. For several seasons, I felt like the Falcons were on the brink of a major turnaround — that we might actually be a good team for a long-ish period of time (for a change).

Now we are entering the season with a washout at starting QB (Harrington) and a huge mess in the Vick situation. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is, or how disturbing the allegations against Vick are. If he’s guilty of half of this stuff, I’m so disgusted that I hope he never plays again.

On the other hand, maybe we’re better off and we really do need to be rid of him and have a more conventional offense. But that’s our #1 draft pick we’d be cutting loose, with nothing in return except for a major salary cap hit...

Sigh — this is what it’s like to an Atlanta Falcons fan...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Simpson-izing myself

I'm a longtime Simpsons fan, so when I discovered the new movie site's way to create a version of yourself as a Simpsons character, I couldn't resist.

It's not perfect, but you can see my results above. I even made it my new Facebook profile picture.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Monsters" Japanese DVD

I mentioned a while back that a film I wrote (and which was based on a play I wrote), Monsters Don't Get to Cry, is being released on DVD in Japan. I just caught a glimpse of the pretty cool DVD cover for the Japanese release, so I thought I"d share it...

I mean -- everything except for the misspelling of "Suspense" as "Suspence"...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

She's here (and, yes, it's a fourth "she")

Well, folks, Ava Jewel Hansen arrived on Tuesday, July 10th, at 1:29pm. She was 8 lbs and 22 inches long. You can see a few pictures below.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Eight Things Meme

I've been tagged by Chuck for the Eight Things Meme. And since I'm so rarely tagged for memes, I decided to do it. I'm terrible at these things, so my facts might be completely uninteresting.

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and that they should read your blog.

Eight Facts About Me:
1. By this time tomorrow, I will have four children. Yes, four. It sounds like a lot when I type it out. Actually, it sounds like a lot when I say it, read it, or think it, too.
2. I was a huge Doctor Who fan when I was in junior high and high school. Doctor Who, for those of you who don't know, is a British sci-fi show about a time traveling alien (a time lord) who takes companions with him on his adventures. I stopped being a fan sometime in high school, and the show ceased production not long after that, but it was revived around three years ago as a more adult-oriented show, and I've been sucked back in.
3. I was once in a car accident so bad that people I didn't know said to me, "That was you? I saw that on the news" when I recounted the story of why I was in so much pain. A Saturn ran a red light and bashed into the driver's side (I was driving) as I was leaving the movies (having just seen Robert Altman's The Player. Ironically, I was on my way back to the hospital anyway, because my dad had just had surgery for prostate cancer.
4. I struggled with my weight most of my life, finally losing 100 pounds four or five years ago (and I've kept most of it off).
5. I was born in New York and moved to Georgia when I was eight years old, leaving behind a life I can barely remember now.
6. I fell in love with my wife long before she fell for me. In fact, we had to "break up" as friends because I couldn't get over her. Two years later, things had changed, and we went out on our first date. We knew we were going to get married within three or four weeks.
7. I was an English major in college (this isn't that interesting, but I'm running out of "good" facts).
8. I have to get up at 4:30am tomorrow so we can get to the hospital for the induction procedure. This isn't particularly interesting either, but it explains why I'm cutting this short now!

I'm also going to break the rule about tagging eight people, because I'm tired and have a lot to do tonight!

Baby on the way...

The doctor is inducing my wife's labor tomorrow, so it looks like the fourth Hansen child will be here on July 10th (and I'll be unavailable for a while).

I will be back tonight, if time permits, with the Eight Things Meme. I was tagged by Chuck.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Delivering Deliverables

Today, I mailed the package of remaining "deliverables" to Reel Indies for the DVD release. (FYI, "deliverables" is a term that refers to the items one is contractually obligated to submit for a distribution deal).

I was pleasantly surprised that the list of required deliverables wasn't long or hard for me to complete. One acquaintance of mine had lengthy deliverable requirements that ended up costing him almost as much as the budget of my entire film. In fact, reading his post about deliverables made me think, hey, perhaps not getting distribution isn't such a bad thing.

Of course, that's silly, but I'm thankful that I didn't have to submit that much. I already had the film mastered to several tape formats, but we also created a high-res HD export for use on our CustomFlix DVD, so that's all they wanted. And we had done a lot of artwork (DVD case, DVD logo, posters, etc.). Add to that all our production stills (both "in character" and "on the set" stuff), plus the DVD extras (deleted scenes and a documentary about the making of the film), and we were done.

If this experience is a positive one, I'm looking forward to working with Reel Indies again. They've been very easy to work with thus far. The next step will be their production of the DVD itself, and I'm sure there will be some communication back and forth as that progresses.

My goal was to get this out the door before the holiday. The deadline they gave me was July 6th, and I didn't want to wait until the VERY last minute. On top of that, we have a child due any day now, and I really didn't want this hanging over my head when the baby comes.

As we were nearing 5pm, the rain started pouring down in Waco, and we had to locate the Fed Ex guy on campus. Josh, the film's editor, chased him down in the driving rain, which had come down so hard and so fast that the campus streets were flooded. And just as I ran back inside to get the package to give it to him, Marilyn (the Communication Studies department assistant) told me that she had reached him by phone and he was coming over to get the package. So we got drenched for nothing (sorry about the wet socks, Josh).

But, hey, the package went out, and we beat the deadline AND the baby's arrival!