Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Interview with director of photography Daniel Patterson



Director of photography Daniel D. Patterson creates an inimitable naturalist vision for each story he works on. His work can be seen five nights a week, as he photographed the opening sequence of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


His latest feature, director Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, opened nationwide on Feb. 13, 2015. The film previously closed the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on June 2014. The PBS documentary series POV will be kicking off its season on June 22nd with Out In The Night. That film is the story of (the "New Jersey Four") a group of lesbians who were arrested for fighting a straight man. Its a powerful and important film that needs to be seen. Daniel was kind enough to answer some questions I had about his work.


How do you define the role of cinematographer?


The cinematographer creatively helps bring the director's vision to the screen using cameras, lenses, light/shadow, interesting angles/frames, significant camera motion.

Is there a film or film maker that inspired you to pick up a camera?
My first inspiration for picking up a camera is life. I think it is important that we share our experiences. Within the film industry, I've been inspired by Ernest Dickerson, Roger Deakins, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Frank Capra, Spike Lee...and countless others.

As a DP what are the main differences between working on a narrative feature and a documentary?

The main difference between fictional narrative and documentary narrative is that you do not get many "do-overs" in documentary. Often in documentary, you only get one chance to capture the moment.


Out In The Night is an impressive film from both a visual and an emotional standpoint. What attracted you to that project?

My first attraction to any project is the story. When my friend, and the director, Blair told me the story, I was horrified. I wanted to participate in exploring our judicial process, pointing the camera at our media, and most importantly getting to know these women, was key in my reason(s) for getting involved with the film.

What were the challenges unique to working on Out In The Night?
One unique challenge was accessing prisons to conduct some interviews. That challenge was more so for production/the producers. Visually I think it was challenging be in the right spot with the camera, because nothing is scripted, and there are no do-overs.


Do you think film can have an impact on the culture, be it positive or negative?

Film impacts our culture both positively and negatively since film has been in existence.
The impact depends on the audience and depends on the film.

When I look over the projects you have been associated with I can't help but assume you are selective about the films you become involved with. Gun Hill Road, Out In The Night, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and Evolution of a Criminal are all thoughtful examinations of people who have been hurt by our society. What makes you decide to take on a project?
That is an interesting interpretation/observation you have with those projects.
I decide to collaborate on a project if it speaks to me, if it moves me when I first hear the story, or the pitch. In between Gun Hill Road, and Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, I also shot a film called Newlyweeds. Many folks thought it would be another "stoner flick", but it's not. I decided to take on Newlyweeds because of the challenge of presenting a romantic relationship story with the inherent prevailing stereotypes in our culture surrounding "weed movies"...I also felt kin to the characters.

I've always loved Spike Lee's films. Even the one's that don't completely work for me have visual elements that are compelling or a point of view that lingers around in my head for several days. How is it working with a director who has such strong visual style?

Working with a director who knows what he wants makes my job easy. I also received the benefit of learning his visual style/ sensibility.

There is a shot early in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus that pans across the ceiling of a church and we are shown the florescent lights forming a cross. In the hands of a lesser film maker that shot could have easily been too on the nose or jarring but for some reason its quite evocative. How do you strike a balance between subtle and overly forthright?

You are 100% right. That shot could have gone wrong, easily. You strike the balance between being subtle and being overly forthright by editing. What the editor Randy Wilkins decided to put before and after a shot dictates the flow, the order and the audiences sense of balance. I also would like to think that the crescendo style camera motions help make digesting a shot like that smooth and easy. The technical elements have to be present and correct to perceive evocativeness. The dolly move, the booming camera movement on the dolly while in motion, the camera angle slowly tilting down, the racking of focus, the lighting, the geometric elements present in the frame, all effect how you feel while viewing a shot.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interview with Heather McIntosh



Heather McIntosh recently moved to Los Angeles from Athens, Georgia. House cellist for the Elephant 6 Collective, she has played with of Montreal, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Music Tapes, Gerbils, Elf Power, Circulatory System, Apples in Stereo, Great Lakes, and The Ladybug Transistor.

She has extended her talents outside of Athens performing with Linda Perhacs, Kevin Ayers of the Soft Machine, Faust, Animal Collective, Cat Power, Superchunk, M Ward, The Clientele, St. Vincent, Azure Ray, Icy Demons, Bright Eyes, Washed Out, Dr. Dog, Gnarls Barkley, and Lil Wayne.

In addition she has scored the films; Compliance, Honeymoon, Black Rock, Z For Zachariah, Faults, The White City and Manson Family Vacation to name a few.

Power Rangers fan film that is better than most summer update/remake/reboot/adaptation things


Seriously, just watch it. 


What's New On Netflix in March?



March 1
30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men (2015)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Evelyn (2002)
1953. Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children, Evelyn, Dermot and Maurice, make it clear to the authorities that his is an untenable situation. The Irish courts put the Doyle children into Church-run orphanages. Although a sympathetic judge assures Desmond that he'll get his children back after he gets a job, he learns there's another barrier. During that time, Evelyn suffers abuse while Desmond goes to court to get his children back. A barmaid, her brother, her suitor, and a tippling footballer become Desmond's team

Finding Neverland (2004)
Mercy Rule (2014)
Monster High: 13 Wishes (2013)
Patch Adams (1998)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Teen Witch (1989)

March 5
The ABCs of Death 2
Food Chains (2014)

March 6
Aziz Ansari Live at Madison Square Garden (2015)
My Own Man (2014)

March 9
After the Fall (2014)
Cesar Chavez (2014)
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club (2014)

March 10
Monster High: Haunted (2015)

March 11
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.


March 15
Marvel & ESPN Films Present: 1 of 1: Genesis (2014)

March 17
Dummy (2002)
You're Not You (2014)

March 19
Life Itself (2014)
The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.



March 20
God's Not Dead (2014)

March 23
November Man (2014)

March 27
Frankie & Alice (2010)

March 31
Ask Me Anything (2014)
The Man With the Iron Fists (2012)
On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.



TELEVISION
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 1, March 6)
Archer (season 5, March 7)
Glee (season 5, March 7)
A Different World (complete series, March 15)
Third Rock From the Sun (complete series, March 15)
A group of aliens are sent to Earth, disguised as a human family, to experience and report life on the 3rd planet from the sun.


Bloodline (season 1, March 20)
Mad Men (season 7, March 22)
Garfunkel and Oates (season 1, March 25)
Turn (season 1, March 25)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with Peter Rajesh Joachim



A film-maker from Bangalore India; he scripts shoots and edits all of his projects, a one man army. I had Peter on the podcast to discuss his film Blood Empires.

Blood Empires is an independently produced crime drama focused on street level gangsters, cops and the middle class families that are affected by having loved ones on both sides of the law. At its heart the film is about individuals grasping to hang on to there humanity while their professions strip it away. The film seems to ask if people who are involved in such brutal lives can find and maintain love.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Interviews with Ethan Hawke and Seymour Bernstein about the IFC film Seymour: An Introduction




INTERVIEW WITH ETHAN HAWKE
How did you first meet Seymour?
I met Seymour at a dinner party. We were seated next to one another and I began confiding in him immediately. There is something magical about him that invites honesty.

When you first met Seymour, did you immediately think, "I should make a movie about this man?"
It wasn't really my idea. He invited me and a few friends over to his apartment and he played for us. I was transported. His friends seemed to have the same reaction. We knew he wasn't giving any more public concerts - so a documentary leapt to someone’s mind, who started pressing me to do it. I thought I would find someone else to do it, but then slowly realized I wanted to.

Had you ever considered making a documentary portrait of anybody before?
I'd written a profile on Kris Kristofferson once for Rolling Stone and enjoyed that – it felt a little bit like making a doc. I enjoy the process of meditating on the lives of artists that I admire.

How did Seymour react when you approached him with the idea?
We just talked about it once. He's a teacher- he's always excited to teach.

You've made several fiction films previously, and you've been an actor for decades. Was it a much different experience directing a documentary?
It was more different than I could have ever imagined. I felt really lost with it. My respect for the form has exploded; it’s much more like writing, easy to get lost.

What's your musical experience - do you play any instruments?
I am a simple fan. I love music like some people love church.

Do you have to be a musician to benefit from Seymour's lessons?
My hope is no. My hope is that by watching anyone excel in life there are profound lessons to be gained. Playing the piano, throwing the football, building an engine… if you do anything well the secret to the universe seems momentarily unveiled… My hope is that what Seymour has to say about the piano- could be relevant to being a good parent, friend, co-worker, anything…. and if you are interested in the arts – I have no doubt that what he has to say to speak to you.




INTERVIEW WITH SEYMOUR BERNSTEIN

How old were you when you first started playing piano?
When I was three years old, my parents took me to visit Aunt Ethel. There I had my first encounter with a piano. Sounding tones on that old upright brought me into another world, a world where I somehow knew I belonged. When I was six, I begged my mother for lessons. Someone gave us an old player upright piano, and it was not only that my lessons began; as it seemed to me, my life also began at that moment.

What was performing publicly like for you when you were younger. What can you tell us about when and why you decided to stop?
I performed a lot in school. But I didn't perform publicly until I was in my teens. My career advanced quite rapidly and very successfully. Soon I became very disillusioned with the managerial world and with the commercial aspects of performing. I also longed to have more time to compose and to write. With practicing 6-8 hours a day and teaching, I had very little time for creative work. So at the age of 50, I decided to call my performing career to a halt. I arranged a farewell concert at the 92nd Street Y. My final piece on my program was a major composition I wrote entitled AMERICAN PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. Of course I continued to give lectures and master classes and performed a great deal during them. I have been exceedingly happy ever since.

What in your career do you take the most pride in?
I take pride in my ability to interpret music. I have a sense of intuiting what the composers had in mind in expressing human emotion. I also take pride in my ability to impart my knowledge to my pupils. My greatest pleasure is to help my pupils feel good about themselves.

Do you remember the first time you met Ethan, and what your impressions were of him?
I first met Ethan at a dinner party hosted by my pupil Tony Zito. The conversation that ensued at the dinner table could best be described as revelatory and explosive. Being performers, we shared to pros and cons of our profession. I was struck by Ethan's openness with me, even in discussing performance anxiety, which plagues all performers. I immediately felt a deep kinship with him. Of course I never dreamt that this would lead to Ethan directing a documentary about me. But in a sense, it is also a documentary about Ethan, since we have probed the deepest areas of why we have devoted ourselves to our art, and how that devotion has influenced our lives.

What did you think when Ethan approached you about the movie?
I was dumbstruck when Ethan approached me about making a documentary. I wondered why I was so special to receive such an honor. He explained to me very succinctly that his intention was to demonstrate to the public, and especially to young people how a devotion to an art form can influence our lives. He then asked if I would agree to give a recital for his theater group. I was 84 at the time and hadn't given a public recital in 34 years. Something in Ethan's manner, his interest in me, and his desire to share something with his colleagues made me say yes. I practiced for that recital exactly as I did for my New York debut. Saying “yes” was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

What was it like having cameras tailing you?
The first session was somewhat unsettling, as this was the first time I was part of a serious film. But after around the 3rd shoot, I enjoyed every aspect of it, especially my rapport with Ryan, Heather, Greg, and Ramsey. We enjoyed a combination of seriousness and humor. Of course I was extremely nervous in anticipation of my recital. But I became deathly calm once I entered the Steinway rotunda. There was Ethan who gave himself over to each aspect of the documentary with the dedication and zeal that informed his own extraordinary performances. There was no way I would let him down.

What do you hope most that somebody would learn, or think, after watching
this introduction to your life?

I believe that the essence of who we are reveals itself through whatever talent we have. I want people to know that a dedication to that talent, or whatever passion interests us, has an ultimate reward: by integrating our emotional and intellectual worlds, and in the case of instrumentalists, actors, and dancers, our physical world as well, we can actually integrate or harmonize our personalities.


Bruce Sinofsky dies at age 58




Fuck man. I didn't know Bruce on a personal level but I like many people was definitely personally involved with his work. The first Paradise Lost film came out when I was in high school and like many people my age it had a profound impact on my life. The film was about a horrific triple child murder that led to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence. This was the first film that brought out a pure sense of hopelessness and rage in me. I was beyond effected, I was changed. I assume that I always had a lefty "fuck the man" leaning deep in my soul but this film brought it screaming to the surface. My voice has never carried a deep resonance but seeing Bruce's film.... it taught me to never hesitate when I felt I should raise it.


I like many others are in Bruce's debt. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly were wrongfully convicted and placed on death row for the murders at Robin Hood Hills. Bruce Sinofsky made a film that led to the eventual release of the West Memphis Three. That's making a difference. That's leaving a mark on the world. Bruce in now swimming in the heavens and while 58 years is far too short a life,  it was one with meaning and impact, a life that we should all aspire to.

here is the entire film