2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 41 posts. There were 7 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb.

The busiest day of the year was March 8th with 155 views. The most popular post that day was Interview on the Web Series.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were alphainventions.com, facebook.com, mysteo.com, twitter.com, and simplicitas09.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for stephen king, david lynch, the last picture show, kartik singh, and last picture show.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Interview on the Web Series March 2010


Stephen King “On Writing” September 2008


Lynch: Not Moving the Story Forward July 2009
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Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) April 2008
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Best Indian Short Films February 2009

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TOP 5 Reasons YOU Should Submit Your Film To The 2011 Kansas City FilmFest


1. Times a wastin’ – the next due date is December 15th.

2. Your entry fee is discounted if you upload your screener.

3. Our final judges include senior programmers from Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, Slamdance.

4. Your film may screen in the state of the art, all digital AMC Mainstreet Theatre.

5. It’s our 15th anniversary and the celebration is going to be a real barnburner.

Kansas City FilmFest 2011 – Call for Entries – Our 15th year celebrating independent filmmaking.

Presented by the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee

All filmmakers, anywhere, are invited to submit your short or feature film – drama, comedy, documentary, animation, or experimental work. It must have been completed since January 1, 2009.

DEADLINE DATE:  December 15, 2010  (Other deadlines: 1/15/2011 & 2/04/2011)

ENTRY FEES:  Vary by short or feature and increase with each new deadline date

SAVE $5 on your entry fee by UPLOADING your screener to our secure website and save on postage too. If you prefer to send us a copy – SEND your screener (DVD-region 1), check, entry form to: KC Jubilee, 4826 W. 77th Terrace, Prairie Village, KS 66208-4321

EARN $5 for each filmmaker you get to submit a film. JOIN our Jubilee Affiliate Program. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Go to our website – kcjubilee.org- for complete details, entry form, and pay fee online. You may also submit through WAB.

Check out our special CinemaJAZZ division if you have made a work (short or feature) inspired by JAZZ

Kansas City FilmFest is scheduled for April 6-10, 2011.

Visiting filmmakers will include – Andy Anderson, Elvis Mitchell

Jurors will include senior programmers from Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

If you have any questions – call 913-649-0244 or email: kcjub@kcjubilee.org

Fred Andrews
President, KC Filmmakers Jubilee

PS – This is an awesome festival.  If you want to hear more about my experience with this festival (I have shown four times here, and I won Best Narrative Film in 2008), drop me a comment here or drop me a line by e-mail.  Kartik

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John Hughes really was Peter Pan, until 1987

This week, I stumbled upon a Breakfast Club audio commentary done after John Hughes’ death.  In it, Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall share stories about Hughes.  They marvel together at how plugged in to teen life he was.  To illustrate, Nelson recounts that in Sixteen Candles, Hughes added a detail to the props: Molly Ringwald’s notebook had The Psychedelic Furs written on it.  The amazing thing is that at that time, this band had yet to record their first album!  How do you get so up on teen culture?  To what lengths did he have to go to discover bands and teen lifestyle?  Clearly, it was his passion.  And it was not his generation.  He was in his 30’s when he made these movies:  34 on Sixteen Candles, 37 on Some Kind of Wonderful.  Was it an adamant refusal to grow up, to become the adult, the enemy?

I don’t know many filmmakers who steep themselves in youth culture.  While Larry Clark and Gus Van Sant come to mind, their films are dark and sometimes perverse.  They are like creepy old guys hanging out with kids.  It’s like, “Who’s the old dude?”  These guys have made some good films, but they are not films I care to see more than once.  And their relationship to youth culture comes off as a little bit pathetic and gross.

It wasn’t like that with Hughes.  His films soar with humor, life, emotion and well-observed quirkiness.  He was not a cultural tourist or cultural vampire.  There was no trying to be a teenager.  He WAS a teenage, and not only that, he was the coolest teen of them all.

Then in 1987, his career took a sharp turn.  Hughes shifted away from these teen films to focus on movies that would cross over beyond teenagers to all demographics.  And successfully: 1990’s Home Alone remains the top-grossing comedy of all time.

What changed?

Had he said everything he wanted to about teen life?  Maybe.  But I cannot help noticing that by “growing up”, he also moved into a life fraught with “adult” problems: pressure to succeed, conflict with Hollywood, and eventually, a retreat from public life altogether.  It’s a pretty high price to pay.

Below is the Op-Ed by Molly Ringwald, published in the New York Times on August 11, 2009.

ps – This week is Thanksgiving.  If you don’t know Planes Trains  and Automobiles, check it out!  Careful though.  While it will definitely make you laugh,  it may also make you cry.  You’ve been warned.


In life, there is always that special person who shapes who you are, who helps to determine the person you become. Very often it’s a teacher, a mentor of some kind. For me, that person was John Hughes. Along with the rest of the world, I was stunned when I learned that he had died of a heart attack last week at 59.

Not long after hearing the horrible news, I found myself talking on the phone to Anthony Michael Hall, my friend and co-star in several of the movies John directed. His experiences mirror mine to a large extent. Both of us were catapulted from obscurity and planted in the American consciousness through the films that we did with John. Michael, as he prefers to be called, will be forever associated with “geekdom” just as I will always be the girl whose 16th birthday is forgotten. But for both of us, what really matters is less the mark that these films left on the world than the experience of making them with John, the mark it made on us.

We stayed on the phone for a while reminiscing about our old friend and mentor. Since the days of John’s death, we have both been inundated with missives from friends and acquaintances, sending us their condolences the way you would for a close family member. Yet the strange thing is, neither of us had talked to John in more than 20 years.

Most everyone knows that John retreated from Hollywood and became a sort of J.D. Salinger for Generation X. But really, sometime before then, he had retreated from us and from the kinds of movies that he had made with us. I still believe that the Hughes films of which both Michael and I were a part (specifically “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club”) were the most deeply personal expressions of John’s. In retrospect, I feel that we were sort of avatars for him, acting out the different parts of his life — improving upon it, perhaps. In those movies, he always got the last word. He always got the girl.

None of the films that he made subsequently had the same kind of personal feeling to me. They were funny, yes, wildly successful, to be sure, but I recognized very little of the John I knew in them, of his youthful, urgent, unmistakable vulnerability. It was like his heart had closed, or at least was no longer open for public view. A darker spin can be gleaned from the words John put into the mouth of Allison in “The Breakfast Club”: “When you grow up … your heart dies.”

I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. Though it does seem sadly poignant that physically, at least, John’s heart really did die. It also seems undeniably meaningful: His was a heavy heart, deeply sensitive, prone to injury — easily broken.

Most people who knew John knew that he was able to hold a grudge longer than anyone — his grudges were almost supernatural things, enduring for years, even decades. Michael suspects that he was never forgiven for turning down parts in “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” I turned down later films as well. Not because I didn’t want to work with John anymore — I loved working with him, more than anyone before or since.

John saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself. He had complete confidence in me as an actor, which was an extraordinary and heady sensation for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old girl. I did some of my best work with him. How could I not? He continually told me that I was the best, and because of my undying respect for him and his judgment, how could I have not believed him?

Eventually, though, I felt that I needed to work with other people as well. I wanted to grow up, something I felt (rightly or wrongly) I couldn’t do while working with John. Sometimes I wonder if that was what he found so unforgivable. We were like the Darling children when they made the decision to leave Neverland. And John was Peter Pan, warning us that if we left we could never come back. And, true to his word, not only were we unable to return, but he went one step further. He did away with Neverland itself.

“I just remember how fun it all was,” Michael said on the phone.

It was: the concerts he took us to (the blues great Junior Wells at Kingston Mines in Chicago), the endless mixed tapes he made for us and, most of all, the work itself. It doesn’t even seem like you should be able to call it “work” because we enjoyed it so much.

There’s a scene in “Sixteen Candles” where my character, Samantha, and Michael’s character, “the geek,” have a heart-to-heart talk. The scene lasts all of six minutes, but it took us days to film because we were all laughing too hard. John, too. He sat under the camera — his permanent place before directors retreated to the video monitor — while the assistant directors stood around rolling their eyes waiting for him to stop laughing and reprimand “the kids.” But how could he? He was one of us.

About 15 years ago, I wrote John from Paris, where I was living, to tell him how important he was to me. I had been on a François Truffaut kick and had just watched the series of “Antoine Doinel” films that he had made with the actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. There was something in the connection of actor and director that I recognized in us, particularly in the first film of the series, “400 Blows.”

After Truffaut died, I heard that Jean-Pierre Léaud had suffered a kind of breakdown, going so far as to drop flower pots on people from high-storied buildings. This is most likely a rumor, French film lore, but I think I now understand how painful it is to lose someone like that. John was my Truffaut. A week after I sent my letter, I received a bouquet of flowers as big as my apartment from John, thanking me for writing. I was so relieved to know that I had gotten through to him, and I feel grateful now for that sense of closure.

Toward the end of my phone call with Michael, we spent a little time catching up on mutual friends and family. I told him that my 5-year-old daughter, Mathilda, had just secured the part that she wanted in her theater camp — Tiger Lily, the Indian princess in “Peter Pan.” Michael made me promise to invite him to Mathilda’s debut as a fellow thespian. So in a few weeks we’ll drive to the theater and spend a couple of hours with Tiger Lily, Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys.

Turns out, you can return to Neverland. At least for a little while.

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Callback Trailer

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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions – Callback

1. What was the budget?

Callback is a no-budget feature.  Our goal was to get through production for under 5,000 euros.  And we almost did.  Had it not been for crashing the car, we would have stayed in that budget range.  We took a setback on  that one.  But all told, even with post-production and marketing, we are still at about 10,000 euros or $13,000.

2. It says France-USA.  Are you American or French?

This is an English language movie.  I am American, but I have been based in Paris for 15 years.  I arrived in France for film school and have been here ever since.  But I am interested in reaching an American audience, hence the film shot in France, but in English.

3. So I won’t have to read subtitles in this movie?

I should warn you, there is one short scene in French, but it only lasts a couple of minutes.  And it is subtitled.

4. You crashed a car?

Yes.  And we were filming when the accident happened!  No, the accident was not at all part of the story.  And fortunately no one was hurt.  You can read all about it in “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie, but a priceless German sportscar was”.  The book details the making of Callback.  The moral of the story for young filmmakers is this: get insurance and read the fine print to see what exactly gets covered.  If you know you need something special or extra, negotiate to get it.

5. Is this a mumblecore movie?

No.  Despite the low-budget of Callback, I just wanted to make a drama, not connected with the recent movement known as mumblecore.  If people want to call it that, feel free.  It was not my intention.

6. What were your influences?

John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence.  And the Dogma films from Denmark, especially Open Hearts by Susanne Bier.

7. Was Callback a Dogma movie?

Not quite.  We do use music.  And we also had artificial light sources in the movie.  And we picked costumes for the lead actors.  If you removed these three points, we would qualify for Dogma status.

8. Is Enrico Felucci a reference to Fellini?  To Bernardo Bertolucci?

Neither actually.  It references one of my all time favorite films, Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life.  In it, the Lana Turner plays an actress who lands a big role in the Enrico Felucci picture.  She then has to decide if she is willing to give up everything to be in the movie.  Not unlike what happens to Grace in Callback.

9. Why another movie about Hollywood?

There have been a lot of great films done about the movie business.  Some of my favorites are The Player, Living in Oblivion, Swimming With Sharks, Bowfinger and True Romance.  But when it came to Callback, I was not interested in dissecting or poking fun at Hollywood.  What mattered most to me was to show what Hollywood represents for actors.  It’s the ultimate stage.  If you make a big splash there, you could have an amazing career.  People know that, and not surprisingly, many are prepared to do any and everything necessary to land that role in a big Hollywood movie.  All actors are not like Grace, but that type of actor is out there.  I wanted to make a movie that honors the struggle, not just of those actors, but all actors.

10. Was there much improvisation?

I love the freedom that can come with improvisation, and I try to use it whenever I can.  Though most of what you see is scripted, within that frame, there are times when the actors used their own words and it was exciting.  When an actor is relaxed and really believes what is going on around him, the words that spontaneously come to him bring a truth that goes far beyong anything I could write.  I am grateful to my actors for taking that journey and trusting me.

11. Any future projects?

I am in development on my second feature.  And I recently received a public grant in France to make a short film dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.  Beyond that, I continue acting when parts come my way, and I do a lot of script doctoring.  And this fall will be my fourth year of mentoring high schoolers making their first short films.

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September 17 (3:30pm) & 19 (3:45pm), AMC 34th St. NYC

Coming this month to New York City, the first screenings of my debut feature film Callback, as part of the Urbanworld Film Festival.  Tickets are $13.50 and can be bought at the door or online.  Visit http://www.urbanworld.com for more information.  See you there!

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Stanley and Iris

I am a big fan of Martin Ritt’s Norma Rae, and this week, I saw his Stanley and Iris for the first time.

I loved this film.  Ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  It’s also a film about the unlikely connections we make in life.  It’s a simple story.

This simplicity is evident in Ritt’s directing.  The film is elegantly shot in an invisible style.  While use of angles and camera movement are part of the storytelling, they never call attention to themselves.  Clint Eastwood is a contemporary master of this brand of seamless filmmaking.  We can tend to think because we don’t see the choices, the director didn’t make any choices. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  In the future, I would like to employ this style in my films, though I appreciate the difficulties of mastering it.

Some choices I enjoyed in this film?  Setting some of it in the cake factory and having scenes throughout that depict life on this assembly line.  Also, Ritt uses movement, dollying and showing trays and carts in the foreground while the main action takes place further back.

Ritt is great at depicting the working class.  And Jane Fonda and Robert DeNiro are believable here.  Sometimes Hollywood stars are shown as working class and it looks totally ridiculous – like Tom Cruise driving a bulldozer at the beginning of War of the Worlds.  But Fonda and DeNiro fit perfectly in this factory world of people living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get by.

Made in 1989, the film comes just two years after Deniro’s performance as Al Capone in The Untouchables and just on the eve of Goodfellas.  Here, he is in territory very different from those films.  And he gives a beautiful, quiet performance.  In fact,  the entire film has a quiet quality that I enjoyed very much.

Fonda is brilliant, too.  Her spirit and her generosity carry the film.

The film is a great date movie. It has a romantic side to it that I think couples will enjoy.  We see two strangers looking for a second chance in love and in life.  Fonda was 52, DeNiro 47.  How refreshing to see lovers that are not in their 20’s.

Stanley & Iris is life-affirming.  That’s what I love most about it.  How interesting what happened just after.  It would be Ritt’s last film – barely a year later, he was dead.  Meanwhile, Jane Fonda went into retirement and would not make another film until 2005.

Check this film out and send me your thoughts.

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Muppet Movie

I grew up enjoying The Muppet Movie. Recently I found it online and caught it again (broken up into ten-minute clips). I found it thoroughly watchable even now, thirty years later. The film’s message is to follow your dreams. Thank you to Jim Henson and all the creators of this film. I had no idea at the time that I was getting wonderful life lessons with every viewing I had of this movie. I want to live my life just like Kermit and the muppets.  Here are a few of my favorite lyrics or quotes.

From “The Rainbow Connection”:

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

From “I’m going to go back there someday”

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet, it’s too soon to feel yet.
Close to my soul, yet so far away.
I’m going to go back there someday.
Sun rises, night falls, sometimes the sky calls.
Is that a song there, and do I belong there?
I’ve never been there, but I know the way.
I’m going to go back there someday.

and finally, the closing of the movie:

Life’s like a movie, write your own ending,
Keep believing, keep pretending.
We’ve done just what we’ve set out to do,
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers and you.

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Interview on the Web Series

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Patrick Swayze in Point Break

I was saddened by the news of Patrick Swayze’s death this past summer. I told myself that week that I would go back and watch some of my favorite films he made. Of course the phenomenon Dirty Dancing (first vhs to ever sell a million copies) came to mind. As did Ghost. But the movie I really wanted to go back and see was Point Break (1991). I had a fond memory of the film, and I enjoyed seeing it referenced in the wonderful comedy Hot Fuzz.
Going back and seeing Point Break, I found that it is a flawed film. But many things about it work. And at the heart of it is the character of Bodhi that Swayze so beautifully plays.
Bodhi is a cult figure among the surfers. Incredibly bright, he also understands the goings on of life on a deeper level than most. He has a connection to the ocean that is spiritual. As a bank robber, he is never greedy. By never hitting the vault, he just takes what he needs. With each successful heist, he is championing the lifestyle of people who are fed up with the system. How awesome is that?
The film can only tread that line for so long. A character this dangerous has to pay for his crime sooner or later. It’s a shame. A more daring film may have had Johnny Utah understand the wisdom of Bodhi and decide to join forces with this surfer Robin Hood.
The end of the film shows Bodhi going for the biggest surf ever, riding the waves at Bells Point, Australia that only come twice every century. It was moving for me to watch Bodhi disappear into the ocean, as the man who played him has left this earth. God bless you, Patrick Swayze, and happy surfing on the other side.

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