Views From Views

The world of experimental film has become a very interesting place for me lately. More words on that later. First, I wanted to post some pictures that I took at my screening, which took place on October 7th.

The setting: The Walter Reade Theater. This is where the Views from the Avant-Garde portion of the New York film festival plays. Before the programs start, we all gather in the gallery. I was very pleased to see that the program in which my film was playing was sold out (click the thumbnails to click through a slide show of the full-sized images):

Carl’s Shoes 01 The Crowd 01 The Crowd 02 The Crowd 03 The Crowd 04

I recognized a few faces, but as I said, I feel that I have become estranged from this world. A group in which I once felt so at home and seemed so welcoming to me seems at once elitist and alienating to me now. So I did what any normal person would do. I went to the bathroom with my iPhone to do some quick e-mails and take photos of my fish purse:

Fish Purse 01 Fish Purse 02

What? Wouldn’t you do that?

After bonding with my fish, I decided the two of us needed to get to the theatre before the films started:

Fish Purse 03

So yeah. Then the films started and I stopped taking photos and playing with my toys. Great program. Great films, all around, actually. I’ve exhausted all of my past strength to write detailed critiques about avant-garde films, though. I might write about a couple yet… It just always took a great deal of effort to write about these works and I kind of felt that the energy was lost. Again, more on that later.

I was kind of surprised by how many of these works were digital this year. Much of the experimental film world has been fairly “anti-video” for a while. With the exception of the occasional hiss at the video projector (yes, someone actually hissed), it seems like this “rule” might be beginning to bend (this is the avant-garde, after all- we’re supposed to be all about bending the rules). Though I have been doing a lot of video work lately, my film was shown on 16mm. Unfortunately, the 16mm projector bulb was having “issues” which resulted in my already dark film being projected MUCH too dim. I’ve grown out of my “artist throwing a fit” stage and have accepted the uncertainties of working in the medium I have chosen. Besides finding it somewhat unfortunate, I simply let it go.

Besides, there was a director’s party to get to and wine to be had:

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 01 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 02 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 03 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 04 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 05 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 06 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 07 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 08 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 09 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 10 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 11 New York Film Festival Director’s Party 12

I really didn’t drink all that much wine. I just liked the way my phone’s camera handles reflected light in low-light situations. Now, for stars (the movie kind that don’t emit their own light making them actually uninteresting subjects for my camera phone- again, click to enlarge):

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 13

Jason Schwartzman!

Not really. I thought it was him, but I’m really bad at the whole “identifying people” thing. But I swear this is Wes Anderson:

New York Film Festival Director’s Party 14

Huh? Huh?! Forget it. I have no real pictures in this category. They actually kicked us out rather early, but this being New York, we just moved to a new bar.

New York Diner 01 New York Diner 02

Most of these folks are filmmakers whose films were in the Avant-Garde program, but I will spare them from being identified by my text here (that makes it Googleable and, let’s face it, some people don’t want a fuzzy strangely-lit picture of themselves popping up on the Internet when stalkers Google their name).

Finally, I snapped a couple of photos of graffiti outside of the restaraunt. A friend of mine asked me to snap a couple of shots because she thought it was beautiful. I agreed:

New York Graffiti Art 01 New York Graffiti Art 02

These Little Town Blues… and Nicole Kidman!

I love New York. I wish I could live there again, but I know better. Living in that city really took its toll on me. I might live there if I didn’t have to make a living there, but as it stands right now, that’s not happening.

A friend of mine had put the movie “Ghostbusters” in my head, so I was taking pictures of the various places in the film:

Ray: “Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.”
Venkman: “You’re right, no… human being… would stack books like this.”

Gozer? Who’s Gozer? And what’s he doing in MY ice box?!”

“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say ‘YES’!!!”

I arrived at the festival office to collect my credentials, hoping to see a film or two (because, you know, film festival). It turned out that I wouldn’t be able to see most of the feature films. The films that were playing over the weekend we were there were the so-called “popular” films, with stars like Nicole Kidman:
Oh, wait. What? Was that actually Nicole Kidman? Gee, I don’t know, let’s get a closer look:

Why, I think that was, in fact, her. Better look again, just to make sure.
Okay, these pictures kind of suck. I mean, I think the bluriness is kind of cool, but not when you’re trying to prove someone’s identity. That was Nicole, just take my word for it (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis now because she walked in front of me). Yes, she is beautiful in real life. Also, she smells like roses. No, not like rose perfume, but like a bouquet of roses. It was a little surreal.

Earlier, I had to squeeze by John Turturro on my way out the door (who does not smell like roses). We had not reached the level of fame required to stay in the press room for the photo ops. I said, “screw that” and made our own little photo op:

Courtney Hoskins, director of “Snowbird” and “Gossamer Conglomerate” at the 2007 New York Film Festival for the premiere of her latest film “The Counter Girl Trilogy.”

Carl Fuerman, director of “The Box” and “Oft Not” in attendance at the 2007 New York Film Festival.

And then we were really kicked out.

The press conference was for Noah Baumbach’s new film “Margot at the Wedding,” starring, obviously, Nicole Kidman and John Turturro, but also Jack Black (who wasn’t there, but I’ve already “met” him, so whatever), Flora Cross (of “Bee Season,” which was an excellent movie based on an even excellenter* book), and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are others, I’m sure, but I didn’t see the film, so I don’t know much about it other than what was posted there. I’m sorry I missed it at the festival, but I’m looking forward to it.

Incidentally, Jennifer Jason Leigh and I must have similar-looking hair. Perhaps we even look a bit alike. When I exited the building, there was a brief moment of excitement resulting in a couple of pictures, but that passed as soon as it was determined that I was no one. And I KNOW they didn’t think that I was Nicole Kidman- the only other famous female at the conference.

In all, quite a first day in the City!

*new, real, legitimate word

Air travel joys

I had a nice hotel room with a big, fluffy bed in Chicago, so I was a bit sad to leave it, knowing I would be crashing at a friend’s apartment soon, imposing myself on their lives like any good former New Yorker would.

Sigh. I quickly got over it, though. I was, after all, heading to New York- a city dear to my heart and always full of excitement. I was also heading there to attend the New York Film Festival, where my latest film was going to be screened. I could get over the loss of a fluffy bed and pool.

Nothing, however, could ever make me happy about Chicago O’Hare (well, except for the UFO sighting (a video here), but that’s neither here nor there- oh yes, puns intended).

Traffic to the airport was awful. For some reason, the cab driver seemed to believe that if you alternately slam your foot on the brake and gas pedals, the car would either fly over the offending vehicles, vaporize them, or somehow alter the spacetime continuum, making it possible to get to where you were going on time. Needless to say, none of those things happened. I got to the airport only an hour before my flight, though they “recommend” two.

I quickly learned that in the world of overbooking, “recommend” translates to “require.” I was too late to check in and was bumped to a later flight, flying standby. Still, I flew out, eventually, and the trip out of the city was at least visually interesting.

Arriving at Newark airport turned out to be a mistake, however. $85 to get to Brooklyn? Ouch…

The Rest of Chicago

After three days of the Adobe MAX conference, I started craving art for art’s sake, rather than art that is design which is supposed to maximize profits and provide a better, faster, and slicker “user experience.” I didn’t have time to go to the Art Institute of Chicago, which is unfortunate. I’ve been there once and wanted to return to the Joseph Cornell collection. I did get a picture of it from the outside, however:

I also got to walk around the city a little bit. Alone with my iPhone full of great music and its little camera, I was inspired by many city scenes:

I fell in love with that mirrored sculpture. I love photographing reflections:

This is a really cool water sculpture. The face towers are actually video images (that’s my one complaint with my iPhone- no video) lit by little LEDs within glass or plastic bricks of some sort (see the bottom photo):

I really like Chicago. I think it’s a beautiful city. I wish I’d been able to see more of it on my trip (as well as visit some of the folks I know who live out there)!

The User Experience

The title of this blog is one of many phrases I got sick of hearing while attending the Adobe MAX conference in Chicago earlier this month. Others included “integration” (mixed with a variety of other words), “client-side,” “runtime,” and “Adobe is the king of the world.”

Okay, I didn’t actually hear that last one, but that was the general point of the conference, so I “sensed” it enough. In fact, many of the workshops and lectures I attended seemed to offer more of that sentiment than actual “information,” but some of them offered some new tricks and tips that I have been able to use in my job and my creative life.

One of several Adobe pep rallies- this one was the unveiling of new products to the crowd of eager geeks (of which I was one- when I learned that Flash may start “integrating” inverse kinematics tools in their product, the animation nerd in me got all choked up).

I got so bored in one of my morning workshops that I encrypted my notes to keep from dozing off:

Indeed, I am a geek among geeks.

I also got a little sick of filling out surveys every half hour (that is NOT an exaggeration) and eating potatoes. The potato thing got so bad that one of the parties featured potatoes in a martini glass. Them’s fancy taters!

To be fair, I won a great book on Flash video and learned how to shave time off of some of my projects. Mostly, though, I just received confirmation that I do things right. Oh, and I also got to attend an over-the-top party, the theme of which, from what I could gather, was “80’s pop/geek culture and stuff that makes you go, ‘oh yeah, I remember that!'”

BMX bikers and skateboarders show the crowd what can be done when you are not sitting in front of a computer all day:

A giant game of “Operation” (oh yeah, I remember that!):

Oh yeah! I had one of these:

And these (things are cooler when they are big):

Remember this movie (I was deemed too intoxicated to go back to the future)?

And the Fusion engine from the sequel (beer make car go fast):

This conference really was just kind of over-the-top for the most part. The conference center employees revealed to me that it cost half a million dollars just to unveil the new products to the crowd- I can’t imagine how much the party cost. Shareholders take note. Ahem.

I had fun, though:

Arriving at the party.

Preparing for the Segway obstacle course

The band. I actually like these guys. They did a swing version of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

Jell-O shots. Without alcohol. Still pretty, though.

This was a huge virtual graffiti wall connected to Wii remotes. You worked with another player to create your wall and then a picture of the wall was sent to flickr. But I took my own picture:

iPhone, iSlack

I’ve been so neglectful of my blog lately.

I jumped the gun on the technology bandwagon and got myself an iPhone before I really had the time to learn how to use it to write blog entries. I figured out how to do it technologically, but the actual writing threw me off.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone has an excellent keyboard. It’s actually very easy to write. What it’s not easy to do is edit! I’ve basically become addicted to cut and paste. It allows me to write fluidly and then go back and make edits after I’ve thought about how I want to communicate an idea. So far, I have not figured out how to do this with an iPhone, or any other mobile device.

Until then, I’ll have to just play catch up when I have the chance to sit at a computer and type. Or, I’ll have to learn how to hack the iPhone to get a text editing program on it. Or, I can figure out the best way to post photos directly from my iPhone because the thing takes gorgeous pictures!

(it’s always important to test a cell phone camera with a self-portrait first)



(the soap on my windshield at the car wash)

I recently took my little phone with me on a trip to Chicago and then New York. I plan to post pictures and stories from those trips this week.

I do love my iPhone. I had my music on me at all times and could take a photo whenever I was inspired to do so. I was able to watch movies on the airplane and share my own films with interested parties. I could check my e-mail from the road. I could wander through the cities with my phone, search for a place, get directions or go to the website or call them directly… I’m not going into the details here. You can go to the apple web site to see all of the tricks it does. It really is a magical little device! I’ve never owned an iPod or anything “Mac.” I’m very impressed!

American Quilt Part 9- A Richley Woven Tapestry

I concluded my story with a contemplative trip to the ghost town of St. Elmo. The drive there offered spectacular views of the collegiate peaks. I’m not sure which one was Mt. Princeton, but I imagine that one of them had to have been!

The ghost town itself had that essence of Americana that I actually enjoy, and I was glad to have visited.

This little town actually reminded me of Lars von Trier’s film “Dogville.” Luckily, there were no gangsters or crooked townsfolk (though the place is reportedly haunted by a crazy woman nicknamed “Dirty Annie”). Also, all of the buildings were real, not just chalk drawings on the floor. Incidentally, that was an excellent film. I was able to imagine the setting despite the film’s lack of an actual set. It was an emotionally difficult film to watch, but brilliant (with a most satisfying ending).

I was amazed that people actually survived here in 1878. The place made me reflect upon the richness of the history of this country. I’m not talking about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and other more obvious “patriotic” choices, but this seemed like the kind of spot Jack London would write about. This led my mind to weaving literary threads of Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Zora Neale Hurston, J.D. Salinger, Gertrude Stein (this list could go on for a while and I’d never be satisfied with it). I let my mind wander into the visual realms of American painters and filmmakers, photographers and sculptors… This is MY American history, the part of the culture that fascinates and fuels me. Unfortunately, it is the part that, without commercial zest, sports appeal, or military might, is marginalized by society.

I thought back on my adventures at the springs. I wondered if any of my subjects were aware that the strange, quiet girl sitting in the corner with her meatless meal and oddly-titled book was finding art, poetry, and comedy in their colorful vacation world.