Fools by Martin Walker

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blessings and Frustrations

The past few days have been particular windy in L.A. When the weather begins to turn cold and I start hearing about Halloween parties, I remember that it was two years ago when we first started shooting the film around this time. Two years that consisted of re-shoots, more production, and post production. Hellooooooo. A lot can happen in two years: a new President (of historical significance), the financial melt-down, the rise and fall of Jon and Kate. And we inched closer to finishing this baby.

I've been having a helluva time trying to find the right (gratis) music to use for my piece. And just when I've completely fallen in love with a song for a scene, I find out that it's gonna cost me. No one said falling in love was gonna be cheap. So then I try to break up with the song because I can't afford to love it. But because I'm truly an optimist in the body of a cynic, I think I may be able to convince the music publisher to grant me a gratis festival license. No such luck. Heartache.

But about three weeks ago, after listening to hundreds/thousands of songs on myspace, I found a couple of songs that I just loved by a couple of indie musicians. I went to their website and found a contact for the music licensing. I emailed the music licensing woman and she emailed me back right away. The next day, we chatted about my film, the project, music, and marketing. She agreed to to help me find other music for the film. After months and months of looking for music with no success, I finally found a kind soul willing to help me out. If I could bottle the feeling of total gratitude and joy at that moment, I'd be a very rich person. I guess that's just how indie filmmaking works. If you look long and hard enough, you will find that one (or more, if you're lucky) person who will help you. But at every step of the way, there will be obstacles. One after the other. Until you meet that one kind soul who just offers you the break.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My 16 candles for John Hughes, R.I.P Friend

Three films that inspired Love Song
1. Some Kind of Wonderful (written by John Hughes)
2. Singles (written & directed by Cameron Crow)
3. Love Actually (written & directed by Richard Curtis)

Of the three films, Some Kind of Wonderful had the bigger influence on Love Song;
The love triangle, the girl musician, the clueless best friend and of course the happy ending.

John Hughes has had an even bigger impact on my life than I thought. His passing has affected me deeply. How could the death of a person I did not personally know leave me feeling so empty? And then it hit me, I did know him or rather he knew me and he knew me well. David Edelstein on his blog, The Projectionist said it best, “John Hughes, captured for a generation of kids (largely white, middle- and upper- middle class) how it felt to be marginalized, misjudged, alienated from parents, and alone in a crowd of so-called peers”. That was me and most of my generation growing up.

It bothers me that almost every article I’ve read describes his audience as largely white, middle- and upper- middle class. My girlfriends and I dreamed of Jake Ryan and Ferris Bueller driving across the George Washington Bridge and taking us on the dream date of a life time. We did not let socioeconomics get in the way of our celluloid fantasies.

That’s not to say that some of my friends have not chastised or questioned my love for this man’s films over the years. “There are no brown people in his movies” or “the characters are affluent” or “they live in Chicago” and my favorite “how can you relate to any of it”. My answer was, “I like his work, his movies make me feel good”. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Watching his films as an adult, I realize what drew me to his work, what makes stop channel surfing if I stumble onto one of his gems; in the end, the outcast gets his/her happy ending and I love that. Those are my favorite kinds of movies, commercial or independent, the story of the outcast/outsider/underdog has always appealed to me especially if the outcast/outsider/underdog gets a happy ending.

My least favorite of his films is Pretty in Pink (he wrote and produced). Why? Because she ends up with Blaine when she should have ended up with Ducky. The 16 year old in me was rooting for Blaine but that’s my point, the movie sends a bad message. However, I think this one has my favorite soundtrack, music from Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, it’s heaven.

Mr. Hughes’ films rarely got the respect he deserved. Perhaps posthumously his critics will come to understand and appreciate his work and what it meant to people like me.

We are almost done with the film - Coming to a festival near you in 2010.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hey there, gorgeous, yes you, you sexy color corrected scene, you...

Yesterday my friend showed me the first two scenes of Diving Lessons that she "took her pass at" with "less orange".


It looks awesome. One shot almost looks three dimensional.

This makes me rethink my "fix it in post" negativity. I've begun to wonder, is it possible that the orange was planned all along, fully knowing that it would be toned down in color correction, thus creating what now exists AFTER color correction? Is it because of the hard orange that our actors are now able to have dramatic contours and not read as simply flat? Or am I just a lucky jerk with a good colorist?

It's something I want to do some detective work on. I know when I worked in the theater, the lighting designer would put up one colored light here, and a different colored light there, and when the two mixed it was "good for skin tone". Is it the same in film? I guess that all depends on the look you're going for - realism or stylized. As a director, I can say things like "this character's an icy person" or "this scene should feel like a fruity cocktail" and a lighting designer or a dp or a gaffer gets to interpret that on so many different levels. If got to know more about lighting, I'd be able to either shut up or speak up about what's going on before we shoot. Now all I'm capable of saying is, "it looks a little dark over there", but not know what's going to really come out on the other end (meaning AFTER color correction). Folks, that's suddenly not enough for me anymore.

Get me to a lighting for camera class, stat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Foolishness and Arrogance

It's been a number of months since I've blogged here.  In large part, I've been extremely busy with a full-time legal gig (which ended last Friday) that was an emotional and intellectual drain (but thankfully allowed me to get out of the debt incurred from making this film).  

Recently, a fellow filmmaker noted in his Facebook update that he's spent over 9 years in L.A. trying to make it in the film biz, and still doesn't know what it will take to "make it".   His other FB update stated that he's considering panhandling to get this next meal (I don't think it's that bad, but you get the point).  I mentioned this to another filmmaker friend and she laughed, agreeing that, sadly, it's true: you have no idea how long or what it will take to "make it".   Yet we're doing it anyway.  Either this is pure foolishness or arrogance that our talent will be distinguishable from the rest of the dreamers living on ramen.   Or perhaps it's a mixture of both.  Who knows why.  Does it matter?  

Anyway, I've been working with another editor to get another cut of my piece together.  After not seeing my film for several months, I found myself excited again.  It's like being reunited with a long lost friend, and realizing that you still like this friend--relieved that the original feelings of affinity are still there.   After I saw my rough cut, I looked at Lucy's and Laura's cuts to see the entire 3 stories together.   I don't know what the film festivals are looking for, but I hope they will like this film.  I'm sure it was a mixture of both foolishness and arrogance that made us think we could pull something like this together.  But in between those two extremes, we did pull something together.  We'll just have to see how it plays out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Earthquakes are to a girl's guitar - They're just another good vibration

On Sunday we went to the closing night of Lydia and an earthquake interrupted the 2nd act. It was my first earthquake experience and I was relieved to have my dearest friends with me. Mari, Barbara & Bonnie (my LA mothers), Christine, Laura, James (Mr. Laura) and Matt were there to support my sister as she ended her run on a play that’s been with her for over a year. We filmed Love Song between the Denver & Yale runs of Lydia.

I am starting pre-production on my next project. I will once again collaborate with my sister, Matt, Christine & Laura. I consider myself blessed that I get to work with my friends and my family.

Last night we celebrated Laura’s birthday. We got to meet Suzi’s boyfriend, he’s a musician and generously gave me two cds to use on the film. Mr. Suzi is a known rock star so I’m very excited to use his music. There’s a song I LOVE that I’ll be pitching to Christine.

I am now the Music Supervisor for Diving Lessons & Love 10 to 1. Christine’s piece is currently titled Love 10 to 1. For those of you who don’t know, yes, I’m getting divorced. I try not to go into my personal life here but my soon 2BX was in charge of music. I had a lot of fun picking music for Love Song & he brought in a lot of great songs. We’ve edited so much of the film that a lot of the music he picked ended up on the cutting room floor or more appropriate in the "deleted scenes" hard drive. There’s a great piece of irony in that sentence somewhere!

It will be interesting working on music for Christine’s film, she’s going to want Lilith Fair and I want to give her Judas Priest (kidding).


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Orange is for fruits - Navigating through Color Correction

I thought I would talk a little bit about what's been going on with the Diving Lessons portion of the film. I'm now in a part of production that's probably the least familiar to me - coloring film. When I worked on the short Las Perdidas, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted the color to represent in film - very saturated colors, bright candy tones on the characters all to play against the stark earth tones of the desert. When I talk about the essence of Diving Lessons, the words "pure" and "raw" are what I most connect with. Now what color tone is that? The first thing that comes to my mind is white. Some people suggested that we shoot in black and white, but I just think that doesn't lend itself well to a contemporary romance. Plus since I want to emphasis the complexities of love. black and white is too, well, black and white.

I have a generous friend who has offered to color the piece for me, and so we've been slowly working our way through the film, trying to figure how what this color tone is supposed to be. This is where a good pre-pro conversation would have come in handy. I think this film is the last one I'll ever do without thorough discussions with all the departments. Every film I learn something new. Clear story, check. Good actors, check. Color correction, oops! What happened in production is some of the shots have an orange tone to them, and some have a blue tone. And my guess is that's a setting on a camera that created it. ("Don't worry you can fix it in post!") Personally I like the blue tone look better and when I told the colorist that and sent along some photographs to demonstrate, she said, "Oh you want it to look like the seventies." Oh. No. Isn't that interesting that each decade not only has certain iconic fashion styles, they also have iconic color correction style? Back to the drawing board of concise communication and clear concept.

I've never been so indecisive as a director as I have been with the color for this film. It's actually embarrassing, if you want to know the truth. And perhaps that's because it shows to me how inexperienced I am with this part of the process. I do know what I hate about the color as it is now - there is too much orange in one of the actor's most important (and most used) shots in the pool scene when they're standing on the diving board. There's this big hot orange light hitting the actor's back and it makes me cringe because it looks so unnatural, and it's a totally different look than the other actor's shot. So I asked the colorist to take the orange out, and then it didn't have that raw, natural look I wanted. It was too desaturated (which I didn't like), because the walls of the pool have a brick colored tone to them, and that's got guess what? Orange tones. Now that I think about it, she could just spot color the actor and tone down that hot light, right? See? I'm totally clueless.

Do you think it means that we can't manipulate what's set in stone, aka "filmed", as much as I thought we could? If the one light is too harsh, then the one light is too harsh. Nothing you can do to help.

There's another section where we shot with two cameras and one camera's setting I assume was blue and the other's was orange, and so cutting back and forth you've got warm and cold tones. Not, not an artistic choice. Is that going to be able to be fixed? I could just use only the blue toned shots, but then that means I lose the excellent camera movement, and the best performance - not worth it.

At this point, we've decided to make a pass at the whole thing, and just "smooth it all out". I'm very curious to see what that means. My final direction? "Less orange." Maybe once I stop fixating on that we can move forward.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Almost Done

I'm going to edit w/Matt on Thursday. Hopefully this will be the last edit before picture lock.

Christine got a new editor and he's been posting clips to our site. I can't wait to see it.

We are hoping to have the film done by the end of the summer.

Sometimes it feels like it's taken us forever to get here, I am grateful and amazed that we have gotten as far as we have. We made this film with little resources, miniscule financing, a lot of heart, blood, sweat & tears.

I'm looking forward to seeing this project through. I start pre-production on The Big Deal sometime in June.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Onahoua Rodriguez stars as Ceci in Lydia at the Mark Taper Forum

The show closes May 17th.


Check out Art Hsu as Johnny Vang in Crank: High Voltage

Art has been amazing to work with, he's a terrific actor and a great guy. He cleans up well too, sorry ladies, this one's already spoken for.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time Flies

It’s been over two months since this page has seen any action. Sorry for our absence, we are still working on the film.
I’ve given Love Song to several people to critique/review. For the most part the feedback has been good and most people like it. The people who have been the most enthusiastic have been my non-filmmaker friends. I had a small screening (friends and family) in NY and I was very happy with the response.

The film got ripped apart pretty badly by two people and it deflated me to the point that I could not watch it for over a month.
I watched it a few days ago, trying to look at it from a different perspective to see what I could improve/do better etc. I learned so much making this film and looking back I would have done a lot of things differently. The first one probably would have been to delegate more but the reality is that there are a lot of people who say they’ll come and help, you assign them a job and then they back out at the last minute. That person who flaked left a void that needs to be filled and when there’s no one to take over you just need to step up and do it yourself.

I also had no money to pay for certain positions (production designer) so Matt and I decorated the house ourselves. At Brian’s suggestion and my pleading, Matt stepped in to edit. His priority is being a cinematographer so he works on Love Song when he’s between jobs.

As a director you need to be in charge of your set and I did the best I could with the resources I had. I am grateful to the cast and crew for going above and beyond. To have Ian & Jared (sound guys) help move furniture, Justin clapping the slate because we were short handed, Frederick downloading the footage along with all the other responsibilities he had as Matt’s right hand, Casey as the A.D/G&E/Dolly Grip/Transportation (I’m sure there’s stuff I’m leaving out) but you get the point, I wasn’t the only one doing more than one job. That’s not the norm, that’s not how I want to work but that’s what we had and that’s what we did.

All of that said, I still like the film, no, I LOVE the film. I am very proud of it and hopefully I will get the chance to do this again soon and I will bring what I learned in the first film to the second film.
The next step is for Matt to make minor edits. I am waiting on feedback from my mentor, I hope she likes it and if she doesn’t then maybe she can give me tips to make it better.

It is my goal to have the picture locked by June 1st.

I will keep you posted.



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snip, Snip, Cut, Cut

Back to Matthew's last night to edit some more. The majority of the living room scene with Shane, Dustin, Cali & Jim is gone. The majority of the limo scene is gone too, we left a quickie 15 seconds, maybe less. Added an additional 30 seconds scene to the photo shoot. We managed to trim down a good chunk, hoping to make the final time about 23 minutes.

We were done around midnight, I have to be at work at 7am. Somehow, I got up earlier than I needed. I think at this point my body is functioning on internal caffeine. I found a missing patch of hair in the back of my head. That tends to happen when I'm stressed out. Now I have to make an appointment with my dermatologist and she'll inject about 20 shots of cortizone which makes the hair grow back, she'll probably try to sell me some botox! Yeah, welcome to filmmaking with no $$.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another Song Cleared

I just heard back from Martin Walker letting me use his song "Fools" for Love Song. Matt and I are back at work on the rough cut and we stopped editing on the spot where that song goes (it was already 1:30am and I had to be at work at 8:30am the next day). I was praying that I'd hear back before Matt and I meet today. So on to finishing the cut.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Serendipitous Moments in Creating Work

The coolest thing happened to me last weekend.

Watson, our music supervisor, had given me a cd of some songs to consider using for Diving Lessons. I took a listen and totally fell in love with one particular track by an artist by the name of Adam Yorke - you can check him out on - his song is called "In Love and Doubt" - a great upbeat number and I really want to use it for the opening of Diving Lessons. I must have listened to it about a hundred times.

My co-worker invited me to go listen to her boyfriend's band last Friday night, at some random bar in North Hollywood (of all places!). My boyfriend and I arrived thinking that we were going to miss the band - he was scheduled for 9:30 but discovered that all the acts were late and the boyfriend's band was scheduled to go last. So we stuck around - and when the second act came up, Mr. Yorke, came out with only an acoustic guitar, and suddenly started belting out the words to this song I'd been obsessing over! I couldn't believe it. I had to take advantage of my luck and so I approached him after his set - and chatted with him for a bit. He's a really nice guy, and is definitely interested in working with me. If I could only be so lucky with the rest of the music...

Saturday, January 17, 2009


2009 is going to be a great year!
Congrats Love 10 to 1, Love Song and Diving Lessons. Dive into love.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oh the Horror! Indie, say it ain't so! - Please support Indie on the Web - CLICK HERE

Indie Activist:

This is an important message for the Indie 103.1 Radio Audience -

Indie 103.1 will cease broadcasting over this frequency effective immediately. Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge. Due to these challenges, Indie 103.1 was recently faced with only one option --- to play the corporate radio game.

We have decided not to play that game any longer. Rather than changing the sound, spirit, and soul of what has made Indie 103.1 great Indie 103.1 will bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and take an alternative course.

This could only be done on the Internet, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives; be it grunge, punk, or alternative - simply put, only the best music.

For those of you with a computer at home or at work, log on to and listen to the new Indie 103.1 - which is really the old Indie 103.1, not the version of Indie 103.1 we are removing from the broadcast airwaves.

We thank our listeners and advertisers for their support of the greatest radio station ever conceived, and look forward to continuing to deliver the famed Indie 103.1 music and spirit over the Internet to passionate music listeners around the world.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Happy New Year Everybody.

We are getting closer to finishing the film, we'll keep you updated once we have more to report.

I am grateful for all the accomplishments 2008 brought my way. I am thankful that I was able to shoot my piece of the film and that we got everything "in the can". Wish us luck as we finish our rough cuts.

I wanted to congratulate Onahoua (our Shane, my sister) in winning the Ovation Award (Denver) for Best Actress for the play Lydia. She's currently in rehearsals at the Yale Rep for the same production.

Thanks to all of you who read our blog, feel free to leave us comments and send us emails.

Here's to a a proactive and productive 2009.



When Drummers Sing

A drummer is often overlooked. They sit in the background, propelling the rhythm, beat and movement. The singer and the guitar player have the spotlight and the drummer and the bass player usually get left behind.

A magical thing happens when the drummer moves up front to the mike. You get Dave Grohl, Don Henley, Phill Collins, Ringo anyone? Anymore out there? Yes, my myspace friend Mark Pickerel.

Mark used to drum for the Screaming Trees, the Seattle band that came up with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam & Alice in Chains to name a few. By the time the Screaming Trees reached their pinnacle with the song “I Nearly Lost You” featured on the Singles soundtrack, Mark had already left the band to follow the beat of his own drum.

I had the privilege of finding his music when I was looking for songs for my film. I fell in love with “I’ll Wait” and I’m hoping that he lets me use the song for the film. He sent me a message saying that if I came to his show and bought him a drink he’ll give me a great deal on the songJ

So I urge all of you to please support Mark at the Knitting Factory on 1/24. He’s from Seattle and needs all the LA Love we can give. If you can’t make it, then please forward this to the music lovers in your life.

The best way to describe Mark’s music is melancholic rockabilly but that’s just me. Take a listen & enjoy.

In no particular order these are my favorites, why? Because I feel like he wrote them all for me, that's the magic of a great song, when you feel like it belongs to you and you alone.
I’ll Wait
Cherokee Grove
Graffiti Girl
Let Me Down Easy


About The Three Shorts

Christine Le wrote and directed the 1st story Love 10 to 1.
The first story explores the life of a 29-year-old virgin, Jenny, who desperately wants to lose her virginity before her 30th birthday. As she encounters one loser after another on dates, Jenny pines after her boss, Dustin. While at her grandmother’s retirement home, Jenny learns a powerful lesson from her grandmother about sex and the meaning of life.

Christine Le (right) directs Shireen Nomura Mui (Jenny) & Justin Klosky (Jim).

Lucy Rodriguez wrote and directed Love Song.
The second story revolves around Shane, the lead singer of the L.A. rock band, Dirty Virgin. Shane has her pick of admirers but it’s her roommate Dustin she wants to be with. Shane confesses her feelings on Jackie and Jared’s show but when Dustin meets Cali, Shane’s shot at love starts to dwindle. With Dirty Virgin about to embark on a world tour, will Dustin realize that he’s the object of Shane’s affections? Will they risk their friendship to give this Love Song a chance?

Lucy Rodriguez & David Villar (Dustin)

Laura Somers wrote and directed Diving Lessons.
The final story picks up where Love 10 to 1 left off, but from the perspective of Jim, the guitarist of Dirty Virgin. Jim sees Jenny at a swimming pool, trying desperately to overcome her fear of diving. In fact, he finds out that she’s making a list of everything that she’s afraid of and trying to overcome them, one by one. He is instantly smitten and tries to convince her that he’s not just a rock star who ‘loves ‘em and leaves ‘em’. Can a rock star find love with a virgin?

Shireen Nomura-Mui, Laura Somers & Justin Klosky

Leah Anova is the Director of Photography for Love 10 to 1 & Diving Lessons.

Additional Cinematography on Diving Lessons by Erik Forsell

Matthew Boyd is the Director of Photography for Love Song.