I’m stoked to announce that our film, “Funny You Never Knew” has been selected for the 20th annual Newport Beach Film Festival that will be running from April 25th - May 2nd this year. NBFF was listed in Movie Magazine’s “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” and has a great reputation for supporting indie film so we are very much looking forward to what will be our West Coast premiere. Find out more about NBFF here: http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com/
I’m excited to announce that my feature documentary “Funny You Never Knew,” which stars Fred Willard and Kevin Pollak along with Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin and a host of other amazing people, has been accepted into the 17th annual Garden State Film Festival. The festival kicks off on March 28 at Asbury Park, New Jersey.
You can find out more about the festival here: http://www.gsff.org/
As we are coming toward the end of easily the most challenging project in my career I thought it was fitting to include some behind the scenes photos from our last day of shooting on "Funny You Never Knew" with Kevin Pollak and Fred Willard in Los Angeles. The cinematographer pictured below is the talented and lovely Nancy Schreiber, A.S.C and the location was the home of Emmy-award winning comedy writer Jerry Belson (Dick Van Dyke Show, Tracy Ullman Show) who is sadly no longer with us.
We have some remaining bits of the licensing process to complete after which we will, at last, be able to go into the final sound mix and picture grade. Will keep you posted...
Currently In Post-Production: I'm making a feature documentary entitled "Funny You Never Knew" about the re-discovery of three amazing comedians from the 1950's, Imogene Coca, George Gobel and Martha Raye as experienced through two contemporary comedians, Fred Willard and Kevin Pollak. Interviews include Lily Tomlin, Bob Newhart, George Schlatter, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Tom Smothers, Jack Carter, Carol Channing, Alan Young, Hal Kanter, and Rose Marie.
The project is the brainchild of Karl Tiedemann, the film's Executive Producer, who used to write for David Letterman, Robert Klein, Disney etc. and is a respected expert on America's early years of comedy.
If you have a favorite story, clip or episode from any one of the three I'd love to hear it. Drop me a line or leave a comment below. Thanks!
I was interviewed live - at 4am in the morning NY time no less - on Newstalk ZB's Sunday show "Real Life" this month. It's an iconic radio station in New Zealand that I grew up listening to thanks to my Dad always having it on in the car! It also played an interesting role in my life when I survived the massive earthquake in Cairo back in the early 90's and ended up doing a "live to the nation" interview with the great Leighton Smith, as you'll hear me talk about in the interview. When the producer initially contacted me about being on the "Real Life" program, he told me that it has been "the top rating show for its time slot nationwide for the last six years" and having been a part of it now I can see why. The host of the show, John Cowan, is a great guy, very funny and creates a relaxed atmosphere for the interview. They also had me provide them with a list of five of my favorite songs that have some personal meaning to me. During the hour long interview they would come out of each ad break with one of these songs and discuss them and it was great, somewhat analogous to the way that certain smells can take you back to a time and place.
Some of the songs include "My Lung" from the amazing Jo Mango, "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" by Corinne Bailey Rae and "Rocketlove" by Houseparty (a band I was a founding member of back in the day and this was our first single.) I had also chosen my brother Deryck's band "Semi Lemon Kola" and their single "Before Heaven" but sadly it was the only one they didn't play. Sorry Deej! Love that song tho. For those of you who have never heard it, out of share loyalty and love for the song, click here to play it! (I've been listening to it as I write this post!)
The interview turned into a bit of a "This is your Life" program so for any of you curious about my past lives sit yourself down with a nice glass of wine, (chilled Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in NZ would be best) put your feet up, relax and press play!
The images above were from a celebrity shoot I did earlier this year as a part of Bloomingdale's October Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was the second time I'd used the Canon 5D MKII and the results were excellent. It wouldn't be my first camera of choice tho, in general at least, and would rely largely on what I was shooting. The audio problems are solvable with a decent sound guy and I don't mind syncing things up in post like the old days but I do find shooting on a compressed format (H.264) annoying when it comes to grading the image in post. The color information is just not there and you feel like you are dealing with some 8bit image. When I first started using the camera I was transcoding it, as one must, to an editable format like prores422 but have since started using the prores422 (HQ) setting to ensure I take as much color information into the grade. There's no doubt that you'll pay for anything incorrectly exposed with this camera and it simply doesn't carry the same latitude to afford a "fix in post" mentality.
Having said all that, the big chip and a long lens produces a beautiful and very shallow depth of field that is wonderfully cinematic and makes going back to an EX3 or the like - without any film adapter - quite disappointing.
For this shoot I needed a two camera set up so that I could walk away with two angles out of each interview. As is often the case when filming celebrities we were not given long with each person so a big plus of the Canon 5D MKII is it's cost point, making a two camera shoot easily affordable.
I wouldn't want to shoot a "run 'n gun" styled documentary with one of these but in the right circumstance it's an amazing tool to have at your disposal. Did I mention it also takes great stills!
Please note: All photos above were taken by the wonderful Tim Greeson. (http://timothygreesonphotography.com/)
The following photos show how the interviews were used in the Bloomingdale's stores. These were taken at the flagship store in Manhattan.
I recently completed production on a six episode series based on the New York Times bestselling book "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller. Check out some behind the scenes production stills below. The series comes out in October. You can see the trailer for it in my Films section or simply click here to go to that page.
I'm currently in the middle of post production on a spot with Kristin Chenoweth for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It will be out next month. Will load it up here when it's done.
My wife Joy and I attended the 2010 Film Independent Spirit Awards as a result of my film "The Love Game" winning the nationwide Bflix competition. It was a fun night. Bloomingdale's put us up in the Casa Del Mar on the beach at Santa Monica, which was awesome, and added to the whole experience. As they say: location, location, location!
The event itself was great. It started with a walk down the red carpet, which oddly enough is blue at the Indie Spirit awards, followed by cocktails, then a dinner and finally the awards. During the cocktails I met and talked with Leonard Maltin who was fascinating to chat with and then the highlight for me: meeting with Jermain Clement from "Flight of the Conchords". I said to him, "thanks for putting NZ on the map" to which he replied, "not everyone thinks so, a lot of people complain that we made fun of NZ". He was very "down to earth" to chat with and it was just great meeting another Kiwi at the event.
Eddie Izzard was a brilliant host although I'm not sure the American audience got all his jokes, but we were killing ourselves laughing! After it finished we went on to the after party which was OK but we were tired and had to get back to Elias who was being brilliantly looked after by our good friend Sunu. Thanks Sunu!
It's Sunday and we're about to head off for breakfast and then a walk along Santa Monica pier. So enjoying the weather and the break from the New York cold and snow!
You can check out some photos from the event below:
Joy, myself and our sixth month old Elias, flew to the UK during the worst winter Britain had experienced in 30 years for Christmas with Joy's family in Leeds. The trip included a drive down to London for my interview with TV3's European Entertainment correspondent Kim Chisnell about "The Love Game" winning the Bflix competition. It was great having them there and adds to Elias' total of key events he's been present for with "The Love Game": from being on set during the filming when he was only a week and half old, to being at the premiere, the Hampton's International Film Festival, The Tribeca Screenings right up to the awards night and now an interview with one of my favorite NZ TV channels. Something I will tell him about when he's older for sure! Click here for the online article:
The Love Game wins!
The HIFF was a blast. The screening went well as did the Q&A. It was the things outside of that though which were the most enjoyable. We were put up in a beautiful house next to the beach owned by the president of the Whitney Museum which was beautiful to say the least. Then we were invited to several parties and met some interesting people, not least of which for me included Alec Baldwin. I'd heard he was very supportive of emerging filmmakers and he certainly came across that way. On top of it all I had my first experience of a pulled pork roll at a Texas BBQ restaurant. Not something you'd find down home in NZ. It was awesome!
"The Love Game" and the other four Bflix films are screening at Tribeca Cinemas next week. It's an industry screening for press, cast/crew, and other industry insiders. The screening will be followed by a cocktail reception and a panel discussion with myself and the other four directors. It'll be so good to see it on the big screen and to see the cast and crew again after what feels like forever! I'm certainly over watching it online. Just not the same.
For those of you who've been invited I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday! Will keep you posted on where we play next.
The Bloomingdale's promotion ends soon but the five films will have a life outside of the BFLIX campaign. They will tour the international Film Festival circuit starting with the prestigious Hamptons International Film Festival this week. I have never attended this festival before personally but have heard a great deal of good things about it so I'm very much looking forward to it. I will be on a panel on Sunday along with the other Bflix directors discussing "New Approaches to Reaching An Audience". Definitely a hot topic in Independent film right now. Here's the details of the event below or you could click here to go straight to the site.
My new film "The Love Game" has been advertised as part of Bloomingdale's Bflix series of five short films made in conjunction with the release of their 2009 Fall Collection.
These ads were in Vanityfair magazine and the New York magazine this month. This is certainly the difference in having someone as large as Bloomingdale's behind your short film as I don't usually find myself in the position to promote my films this way!
You can see The Love Game at www.bloomingdales.com/bflix
Don't forget to leave a review and more importantly VOTE!
I went to the HD Expo last week and attended the Q&A with Lance Acord (DP on Being John Malkovich, Lost in Translation and Where the Wild Things Are, to name a few). We also got to see some of the commercials he has directed and man, he's as good a director as he is DP. Very talented guy.
I was chatting with him afterwards and was super impressed with how mellow and authentic he was to talk to.
Earlier this year I was sent, first to London, and then to Amman, Jordan to consult on a 30 Episode Drama series the BBC are planning in the Middle East.
In this photo I'm standing with one of the lead actors from a popular Bedouin drama series shot in Jordan. On the right is Tim O'Mara (long standing director of Eastenders, Coronation Street and other British classics).
It was a fascinating trip and very interesting to see, first hand, how different production is done in Jordan compared not just to the West but to other parts of the Arab world where I have worked in the past.
I've been invited to take part in a panel with Megan Alexander - Correspondent with Inside Edition and D.T. Slouffman - Emmy winning TV Producer. The subject is the Art & Challenge of Storytelling in the 21st Century and it's being held on April 15 at CBS.
We met in the Rainbow Room at NBC for breakfast and enjoyed the stunning views of Manhattan as we discussed our plans for the forum.
I shall include a copy of the invitation for those interested in coming below.