Monday, August 27, 2007


I haven't been posting much because of the start of the fall semester. I've had lots of thoughts in my head, but not enough energy or time to put those thoughts into a post. So this is just a miscellaneous post of news and observations.

  • I've been invited back to my undergrad alma mater, Lee University, to speak to English majors about careers in creative writing. The English Honor Society there is holding a Saturday conference on the topic of careers for majors, and I'm told I'm one of few graduates who has gone on in creative writing. I'm always honored to go back -- I still love the place, and I'm eager to share what (little) I might know to students interested in film. In fact, though I now teach in a "Communication" field, there remain -- in my mind -- strong ties between my chosen field and my undergraduate field of study. They both involve storytelling, and I am only a (decent? good?) filmmaker because I was an avid reader of literature as a child and a young man. This invitation is doubly special because Lee's chapter of the English Honor Society (Sigma Tau Delta) got started when I was a senior, and I served as its first president.
  • My older kids started back to school today. It's always a happy and sad time. Happy because the kids need the engagement of the classroom to fill their young minds, which are truly like sponges. Sad because it always marks the transition of another year. My oldest is in fourth grade -- wow. But she still wants to be walked into school, so I'm savoring moments like that while I still can.
  • Film critics will be receiving copies of my film from the distributor in the next few weeks. I know this because a friend of mine who is a film critic forwarded me a copy of the press release he received from Reel Indies' PR firm. So that was kind of cool. I'm not sure what to expect -- I don't think direct-to-DVD releases get a lot of reviews, so I'm not expecting a barrage of P.R. or interviews, but I'm hopeful that the film will get a good review or two. Mostly, it's just nice to see someone else trying to market the film.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vintage Hansen

I'll probably regret this -- but my first film, a student project shot on 16mm and clocking in at 57 minutes long, is now available for online viewing. It's called Flanagan's Exile, and it's bad in a lot of ways, not the least of which is it's hyper-seriousness (I didn't have much of a sense of humor back then).

Oh -- and the hour-long running time? Yikes! What was I thinking. No one wants to watch a short that's not short. Just make it a feature, if that's called for, or cut the thing.

Well, it is what it is. I learned a lot from making it, the most notable thing being that I love making movies, in spite of how hard a thing it is to do well.

Watch Flanagan's Exile here. If you dare.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summer 2007 - One Last Hurrah

How did summer end so quickly? The summer of 2007 has ended (for me), because classes begin today. Last night, my dad and I went to see Live Free or Die Hard at the local discount theatre -- my last chance to see a movie or do anything late on a "school night" for a while. School starts back for my kids next Monday, so I can at least work my way up to getting up before the sun.

Incidentally -- the crowd for the late show at the Starplex Super Saver Cinemas? Weird. I'm not going to go into too much detail. Just weird.

The new Die Hard was a decent movie. I'm not in the mood to do a long review here, but it was an appropriate send-off for a series that is really one of the reasons a lot of today's action flicks even exist. Bruce Willis can still play John McClane in his sleep, apparently, and he still tosses off one-liners better than any action hero in recent memory. They effectively introduced his character as a dinosaur, an "analog guy in a digital age," and made good use of that theme throughout the story, with McClane kicking butt analog-style against digital baddies. And the production made use of "old school" special effects as well, employing live stunts instead of a lot of CGI. I'm not telling you anything you couldn't read in another (better) review. I'm just saying that they made it work, and dad and I had a good time.

As I said, classes start today. I'm looking forward to the semester, but it also brings a lot of chaos with it. With the kids in school, and me trying to make one film while prepping another, well, let's just say the next month or two should be a challenge.

In American Messiah news: as we wind down the festival run, we are screening in September at what may be our last film festival -- Southern Winds Film Festival in Shawnee, OK. And I found out last night that the film was nominated for two awards at the fest -- Best Feature (Narrative) and "A Ridiculously Good Film (Feature)" (which I presume is the fests "comedy film" category). So I'm honored -- and pleased to be potentially going out on a win. My wife and I (and the kids) are going to try to make the trip out there for the weekend of the fest, figuring we can shoot on over to Oklahoma City to see the memorial site there, which I've wanted to see in person for a while. We'll see how the next few weeks go.

In OTHER American Messiah news, I recently signed off on the distribution company's DVD-case art, disc-face art, and the DVD itself, with all the extras. They used a modified version of our design for the case (another thanks to Josh Marshall, the film's excellent editor who also designed all our art), and a modified DVD menu/navigation design, so I'm pleased that we did such a good job on our own that our stuff merited being used by the company selling the film.

And, finally, in a little bit of Endings news: I had a lengthy discussion with an actor about playing one of the key roles in the film. Nothing is set yet, but I feel like we're making progress. People are signing on for crew roles already. I've had discussions with people in the department about using our new Silicon Graphics 2K (HD) camera, for which we have true 35mm lenses we can attach with adapters -- some really nice looking glass that should really improve the look of this film. So we're on our way.

Now all we need is some money.