Sunday, December 19, 2010

International Film Festival Summit

Earlier this month Gabe and I attended the International Film Festival Summit. While we were there, Gabe partook in a podcast with the Filmmakers Notebook. He did a great job. Take a listen.

One thing we also did this year at the summit was organize a sponsorship roundtable. Here is an article from the Examiner that covers the roundtable with Janet Tiller, from Kodak. We've worked with Janet for the past several years and it was wonderful to be able to bring her to the summit and talk directly to other festivals.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Gigs

Since leaving the Atlanta Film Festival in July, Gabe Wardell (former Executive Director of Atlanta Film Festival) and I have started our own business.

At Indie Memphis Film Festival Oct 2010

We formed an LLC (StickyToePads) to use as the umbrella for the various projects in which we will be involved - but there's mainly two branches: 1) Atlanta Film Forum and 2) Consulting/Event Planning & Management. Some people have been a bit confused, so the structure looks like this:

StickyToePads, A Limited Liability Company

Atlanta Film Forum
  • DecaturDocs ( - a documentary film series that screens in Decatur, Georgia. We had our kickoff screening, a teaser really, last night and it went very well. We're pleased with attendance and everyone seemed to truly enjoy the movie. The first official series will begin in January. Each series will have four screenings - making 12 in total for the year. The series is subscription based, but individual screening tickets can be purchased at a premium price. We're very excited about the prospects and have already been in contact with many documentary filmmakers who are interested in screening their film with us.
  • 48 Hour Film Project Atlanta ( - an annual timed filmmaking competition where a team of filmmakers must write, shoot, edit and render a short film (4 - 7 minutes) within 48 hours. All the teams are given constraints such as a character, a line of dialog, a prop and so forth in order to authenticate the film. All of the elements must be present in the film and the film must be completed within the allotted 48-hour time frame to qualify for the competition section.
  • Special Screenings - this can vary depending on what all's going on in the film world. For example, we did a four-film weekly screening series a couple months ago in honor of Elia Kazan and had the Atlanta premiere of Martin Scorsese' personal documentary tribute to Kazan - A LETTER TO ELIA. We're currently exploring some screening opportunities so stay tuned.

Consulting & Event Planning/Management
  • Southern Television and Film Summit ( annual gathering of industry talent will become the epicenter of new ideas around on the business of television, film, and new media. This will be a three-day event that will have panels, workshops, open casting sessions, pitching sessions, an industry luncheon and an awards dinner. Since this summit encompasses both TV and film, it will be packed with a powerhouse of network executives, producers (little and big screen), directors, investors and entertainment lawyers. It will essentially have three tiers of people (Decision Makers, Working Professionals, Aspiring Industry/Students) and the summit will be structured for access - meaning there will be lots of networking opportunities. The summit will be March 31, 2011 - April 3, 2011 at the W Midtown Atlanta.
  • International Film Festival Summit ( - this is an annual summit for film festivals - festival directors, producers, development staff, etc. They gather once a year to discuss the state of the industry and the challenges some currently face and what's on the horizon. Gabe and I have both been speakers/panelists at this summit for the past few years and this coming year. However, one thing we're doing this year now that we're not in direct competition with most of the attendees, we're providing consultation sessions to festivals. We've had many festivals register for this service so it's very exciting for us. We've consulted many times before, but being associated with a festival while consulting come with natural limitations.
So, that's the dealio. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Please visit all of the web sites and help spread the word. If you want to sponsor any of these events, please email me or Gabe at or

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Separated at Birth

I love shit like this.

Justin Beiber

Chord Overstreet (new kid on Glee)

Tim Linecum (SF Giants pitcher) & Wiley Wiggens (actor from DAZED AND CONFUSED)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Elia Kazan screening series coming to the Plaza Theatre

Atlanta will get to experience what has drawn attention from the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals: Martin Scorsese's personal documentary tribute to Elia Kazan. The film will be the one and only big-screen viewing of the film. Read the New York Times' review here.

Elia Kazan launched the careers of Marlon Brando, James Dean, Eli Wallach, Eva Marie Saint and Warren Beatty, to name a few. He inspired a generation of filmmakers from Sidney Lumet and John Cassavetes to Arthur Penn and Woody Allen. He favored real locations over sets, unknowns over stars, and realism over convenient genres. He pioneered the use of the "method" in film — bringing sensitivity and understanding of the acting process. Producer George Stevens, Jr. concludes that Kazan's films "changed American moviemaking."

Martin Scorsese, who presented Kazan with his life achievement OSCAR®, counts himself among Kazan's greatest fans. His personal documentary tribute to Kazan, A LETTER TO ELIA, initiates this series of 35mm prints of four Elia Kazan classics.

$10 general admission
$32 Screening Series Pass
Free for Emory Students

September 13, 7:30 PM Double Feature!
Martin Scorsese's A LETTER TO ELIA &
Marlon Brando in VIVA ZAPATA!
Buy Tickets Here

September 20, 7:30 PM
Buy Tickets Here

September 27, 7:30 PM
Buy Tickets Here

October 4, 7:30 PM
Montgomery Clift in WILD RIVER
Buy Tickets Here

4 Week Screening Series: $32 (20% discount)
Buy Screening Pass Here


Plaza Theatre
1049 Ponce De Leon Avenue, Atlanta GA 30306

Below is a short documentary about director Elia Kazan based on a 25 page paper written by Joe Baughman for Film History class during the Summer of 2009.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HD, 3D and Misleading Advertising

I'm really getting tired of all of the hype and misleading advertising around HD and 3D technology. First, let's start with HD.


Here's the latest Comcast ad regarding HD:

The claim is that Comcast has more HD than satellite. And here is what Comcast lists on their web site:

More HD choices than Satellite

  • More than 3,000 HD shows and movies On Demand.
  • Access to Starz® HD movies On Demand-before their network premieres.
  • No additional HD programming fees.

True HD Experience

  • Every whisper and every squint in like-you-were-there crystal-clear quality.
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
  • An amazing library of HD movies available at your fingertips.
But the real info is this (from the troubleshooting section):
Can view HD channels but not in HD quality
  • Not all programs are broadcast in true HD-format, therefore, you should check out the programmer's website for a listing of programming schedules and the format that each broadcast in

AT&T U-verse
Then, AT&T has a commercial:

AT&T claims it delivers more HD channels than cable in most markets:

What to watch

With AT&T U-verse, you get access to over 120 HD channels and growing! AT&T U-verse offers one of the best values in the industry for access to HD programming and delivers more HD channels than cable in most markets. AT&T U-verse provides a robust HD Channel Lineup that includes your favorite sports, events, and movies in HD quality picture and sound with the touch of your button on your remote control.

HD channel availability varies by package(s) selected (you must subscribe to a standard-definition premium channel to receive the HD version).

But once again, the real info is here, in the trouble shooting section:
Note: Not all programs shown on an HD channel were filmed in High Definition and won't reflect HD quality.
Direct TV
Beyonce tries to woo us with her hips and lips for Direct TV's HD channels:

Direct TV seems to make the same claims that Comcast (now Xffinity) and AT&T U-verse. They contend that they have "the most full-time HD channels." They advertise 160 HD channels. What they don't advertise is......go ahead, take a guess. Yep! Even if you have a certain HD channel, if the program you're watching wasn't shot in HD, it won't be viewed in HD.

Now, I'm not an idiot, I don't think that just because I have HD all things should be projected in HD. I just think the content service providers' advertising is a bit disingenuous. The real HD advertising should be done by the individual channels - stating that 90% of their programming is in HD (shot and projected). I guess I do have to point out that Comcast does state that they have "More than 3,000 HD shows" - which does clarify it a bit.

I have the same problem with 3D advertising. There is a huge difference viewing a movie that has been shot in 3D verses one that was shot in 2D and pulled into 3D in post production. I feel cheated as a consumer when I buy a ticket to a 3D movie, like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and I'm severely let down. The difference is so clear. One thing I've noticed lately is a mixture - which I guess is maybe a way of saving some money in production - partly shot in 3D and partly pulled into 3D in post. Again, it's clear when that's done and it actually takes me out of the movie. Notes on ALICE IN WONDERLAND 3D:

Sony Pictures Imageworks designed the visual effects sequences. Burton felt 3D was appropriate to the story's environment. Burton and Zanuck chose to film with conventional cameras, and convert the footage into 3D during post-production; Zanuck explained 3D cameras were too expensive and "clumsy" to use, and they felt that there was no difference between converted footage and those shot in the format. James Cameron, who released his 3D film Avatar in December 2009, criticized the choice, stating, "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2-D and convert to 3-D".

If a movie advertises itself as being 3D - then I think it should mean that it was originally shot in 3D - making it a true 3D movie/experience. If it wasn't shot in 3D, or only partially shot in 3D, then I think it should be called 2.5D, and cost half the premium of the 3D movie ticket.

And, as far as it goes for 3D on TVs - I don't even care about that. I don't want it. I don't want to have to wear anything on my face while at home watching TV. Even if I buy one of the TV's that don't require the glasses, I want to be able to lay on my couch and watch TV, you can't do that with 3D TV. Lastly, I honestly don't want to watch 3D programs at home. I want my regular ole 2D programs - preferably in HD.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


If you haven't had a chance to see RESTREPO, make time soon! RESTREPO, an independent documentary, premiered at Sundance in January 2010 and took the Grand Jury Documentary Prize. Directors Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger do a remarkable job of showing us the war through the eyes of the soldiers fighting in it.

Sergeant Brendan O’Byrne (l.) and Private First Class Juan “Doc” Restrepo (r.) of Battle Company, 173rd US Airborne on a train one week before their deployment to Afghanistan. Italy. 2007. Image © Outpost Films

The movie's title has been one of question - is it a person or a place? Well, the answer is both - it's a person first, then a place. Juan Restrepo, a young soldier who voluntarily enlisted in the army because the physical challenge and disciplined appealed to him, was sent to Afghanistan in the spring of 2007. A camera crew was embedded in Restrepo's platoon, which was sent to the Korengal Valley, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan, to secure an area of land needed to build a major road. Shortly after arriving in and getting briefed about Korengal, the group of soldiers come under fire and Restrepo is hit. This is really where the film begins - this is where we, the audience, get a look into the minds and motivations of the soldiers. As a sign of respect and honor, Restrepo's group names their camp "Outpost Restrepo."

Outpost (“OP”) Restrepo. Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. 2008. Image © Outpost Films

In addition to documenting the surviving soldiers' feelings and motivations, Hetherington and Junger spend the rest of the film carefully depicting realities of the war most never think about - like meetings with the elder residents of the surrounding villages. The interesting takeaway from this film is thus: The bond that's developed between soldiers is a crucial element in their motivation to fight - much more so than the objective mission with which they're originally charged.

Captain Dan Kearney of Battle Company, 173rd US Airborne meets with
local Afghan elders in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
2008. Image © Outpost Films

Whether you're a supporter of the war, a supporter of the soldiers, none or all of the above, make it a point to see this movie.

By the way, Sebastian Junger's book, War, expands upon his experiences in the Korengal Valley and his time with the platoon. It's on bookshelves now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2010 Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project - Best Of screenings

Congratulations to the 2010 winning teams. Winning jury films will be announced at the screening. Below are the 2010 48HFP audience winners and runners up- also being screened. Get your tickets before they're all gone!

Audience Awards GROUP A
"Always Remember the Little Things"
Whatever - Jeff Shipman

Runner Up: Song of the Silenced** - Avalanche

Audience Awards GROUP B
"Reel Life: I Live with a Method Actor"
Lemon Party - Matt Swinsky

Runner Up: Lightning Love - Somoney Pictures

Audience Awards GROUP C
Mavin - Pat Clark

Runner Up: Thesis** - White Flame Studios

Audience Awards GROUP D
"The Unstoppable Edwina Chambers"**
Film De Femme
DIM Pictures - Anthony McHie

Runner Up: It's All about Timing - Khol Slaw Productions

Audience Awards GROUP E
FUGO Studios - Eric Haviv

Runner Up: My Last Time - Intelligent Design

Audience Awards GROUP F
"It's in the Bag"
Godmother Productions - Linda Harding

Runner Up: Love Transcends - Creative Studios

** Denotes Jury Award Winners
Jury Prizes will be announced at the show--including the Grand Jury Prize winner1

Thanks to Our 2010 48HFP Jury:

Elizabeth Strickler, Georgia State University - DAEL Lab
Jason Marraccini - ECG Productions
Matthew Foster - Dragon*Con Film Festival

Grand Jury Prizes - will be announced at the show! ALSO--VOTE FOR THE GRAND AUDIENCE PRIZE WINNER AT THE SCREENING! Your vote will determine the Grand Audience Award winner.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

C'est la vie

Today is my last day with the Atlanta Film Festival. Leaving breaks my heart but staying would break my spirit.

I met so many great people, saw excellent (and not so excellent) films, drank on the job, contemplated jumping off buildings and running away, grew as a person, reverted to primal and child-like behaviors, fell in love, gave up on humanity, and pushed myself harder than I had ever before. I'm truly grateful for the friends I made, souls I connected with, lessons I learned, and births I witnessed (literally and figuratively). While my time with the Atlanta Film Festival 365 has ended, the relationships I made will continue - that makes me happy.

While this does not even do it justice, below are some of photos of my time there:

Out On Film 2006


Atlanta Film Festival 2007

Lab 601's Fire Pole:

Rapid i Movement 2007
(I kinda just like this picture of me)

Out On Film 2007

Atlanta Writer's Retreat 2007
Great little video by Kent Osborne:

2008 Atlanta Film Festival

Atlanta Screen Writer's Retreat 2008

2009 Atlanta Film Festival

Atlanta Film Festival Writer's Retreat 2009

2010 Atlanta Film Festival

Our Rock Band Album Cover:

“If you only do what you know you can do- you never do very much.” - Thomas Krause

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile | Video on

I love these TED Talks. They are so inspiring. I watched this one today and I thought I'd share it. I do have a problem counting the intangible and finding the right balance of happiness. He does a great job illustrating Happiness. He uses the following metric:

Happiness = Wanting what you have ÷ Having what you want

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile | Video on

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dear Cable/Satellite Companies:

So, the other day I read this article about how Hulu plans to start charging viewers. I'm so torn over how I should handle my viewing right now. So, what I'd like to do is customize my cable access by creating a personal viewing library. Since all of the shows I want to watch are available on some form or another to screen on my TV, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask to have it my way. I mean, if Burger King has all of the ingredients to make a burger the way I want it, and so does my cable TV provider, then........

So, I'd like to pay for the shows I want to watch. I don't want to subscribe to all of the channels I don't watch just to get a couple of the shows that I do watch. Honestly, where is the sense in that? I know some channels hope I will stumble upon a show, but I don't really work like that.

My proposal is simple. I'm willing to pay per TV show. I believe I should be able to subscribe to Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and whatever else I want to watch, individually. The subscription can be done in two ways: by season or by episode. I'm willing to pay $5 per show per season for a cable show and $0.99 for a single episode. How should that be delivered to me you ask? The answer is simple - If the season is over, then I should be able to watch it all on demand at my leisure. If the season is currently in session, I should be able to watch them as they are aired and they should be available in my personal library immediately after airing.

I want access to all shows available for broadcast. If I want to watch one I am not subscribed to, then I want the option to pay for a single episode - to determine if I'd buy access to the season. Local broadcasting should be offered to me free of charge.

I will pay extra for HD service - a fixed monthly rate of $15. I will also pay to rent a DVR - a fixed monthly rate of $10. Based on the programs I wish to subscribe, renting a DVR and getting HD, my monthly bill should run me approximately $50 per month.

Next, I would like access to the internet by using my remote control. I am willing to pay $25 per month for internet access.

Lastly, I understand that cable channels make money via ad sales. The less programming I watch, the more difficult it is to make media buys. But you know what? So what. Maybe if channels had better programming they'd be able to sell better ads. In fact, if you really want to offer the viewer a service, offer channels for free - subsidized by ad buys.

So there you have it. Now, I'd like to have it my way.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


So, I've been thinking about my list of movies for the last ten years and since several months have passed since I posted number 10, it's high time I post number 9. Luckily, I've chosen a movie that I reviewed a couple of years ago: SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. So I'm recycling my post from a couple of years ago.

I write this blog without reading any other reviews of the movie. That said, I'm sure there are several points of the movie that I will miss - simply because of the film's complexity. The movie is existential at its core. The first theme I see in the movie is Nietzsche's thoughts on Eternal Recurrence. The overly simplistic premise of this theory is that time is infinite, but matter is finite. We are finite beings, and as opposed to actually dying and/or being reincarnated, one lives the same life over and over again (because there is a finite amount of matter - meaning us- in an infinite span of time). So, the takeaway here is: if your life is infinitely cyclical, make it the life you'd want to live again and again, forever.

The movie starts by dropping us into the lives of the Cotard family. Caden Cotard, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is an overweight, thirty something psychosis-suffering husband and father. Caden's wife, Adele, played by Catherine Keener, is an unhappy woman, around Caden's age, longing for a more bohemian-type lifestyle, or just some other life and lifestyle than she's currently living. The couple share a four-year-old daughter, Olive, who suffers from her own obsession with the color of her poop, but still oddly enough appears to be somewhat of a normal kid. The family is an artistic one - Caden a live-theater director and Adele a painter. The couple seem to be on a continual search of something other than what they have, although neither know what it is they want.

We attend a regularly scheduled marriage-counseling session with Caden and Adele. Caden sits on the left side of the couch in somewhat of an upright position while Adele is on the right side, slouched down and leaning over the side - illustrative of any 15 year old teenager forced into therapy that she "obviously" doesn't need. Adele confesses to the therapist, played by Hope Davis, that she's fantasized about Caden dying so that she can start over again without feeling guilty. Caden doesn't appear shocked by the confession. We know their separation/divorce is inevitable and kind of hope for it, so both of these people can experience some sort of long-term happiness.

Caden wraps rehearsals of his latest apt production, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and returns home to share the accomplishment with Adele. Adele is happy for Caden, but informs him that she will not be able to attend opening night due to another engagement. Caden is clearly disappointed. It's obvious that Adele does care for Caden and vice-versa, but you realize that it's only a legal relationship at this point. Adele does manage to make it to the second night of the play, but it lacked the specialness of opening night. Hazel, the box-office attendant, played by Samantha Morton, readily and eagerly fills the vacancy on opening night. The two share a mutual attraction but Caden remains committed to his emotionally absent Adele.

The table turns when Caden is anticipating a trip to Berlin with Adele and Olive, where Adele will premiere her latest artwork. As the couple huddle over their kitchen bar for breakfast, Adele announces that she thinks only she and Olive should travel to Berlin. Caden is somewhat taken aback and Adele apologizes for hurting his feelings. Adele leaves with Olive and we are left with Caden, and all of his pustules - literally. Here is where the movie changes and somewhat resembles Being John Malkovich, also written by Charlie Kaufman.

Time passes but Caden doesn't seem to notice. He receives a fellowship grant that will allow him to produce his magnum opus. He rents a huge "stage" large enough to hold a city, which is a good thing because that is exactly what Caden proceeds to build, albeit unintentionally. Caden starts pre-production of his play, which he never titles although he tosses around lots of potential titles. The problem is that the play is only a reproduction of his life with Adele. Life continues to happen around and to Caden and he even thinks he's actively engaged in it, but he is not. (For example, Caden finds himself in a relationship with an actress named Claire, played by Michelle Williams, but only mechanically - he's not at all engaged in the relationship - even though the two produced a daughter, Ariel, whom he often calls Olive.) He is on an unknowingly mission to find the vanishing point in his and Adele's life. The actors in his plays take on the earlier life of Caden and Adele, but only starting at the point in which we are dropped into the picture. The movie continues to evolve like this and eventually catches up to itself and then surpasses it, with actors portraying Caden and the others involved in his life moving directly in front of Caden and the real "others" in his life. The movie ends when Caden becomes the directed instead of the director.

So many things happen between the time Adele leaves Caden and the end of the movie. It would take me several days, perhaps weeks, to intelligently write about the many complex layers in the movie so I will only focus on just the one. First, meet Sammy Barnathan - a very odd man who we see early on in the movie but don't find out that he is a real person (as opposed to someone in Caden's imagination, for example) until Caden is casting for his masterpiece. Sammy, claiming not to be an actor, auditions for the role of Caden and admits to following Caden around for years, taking notes. He knows the way Caden thinks and can accurately anticipate and predict Caden's actions and reactions.

Second, note that Hazel is still around. Granted after giving up on Caden ever reciprocating her feelings, she moved on, bought a house (that stayed on fire during the entire movie), married a decent man and had three boys (although she only admits to having twins). However, several years pass and Hazel loses her job at the box office and calls on Caden. She is once again sucked into Caden's controlling vortex and ends up losing her husband and children, although she doesn't seem too disturbed by it.

Caden proceeds to develop his play and uses cast members to portray himself, Claire, Ariel, extras in his real life and eventually Hazel. The only two people not cast are Adele and Olive. He is recreating his life and when one thing doesn't seem as it should, he starts from the beginning again. This is the rehearsal that never ends - hence, the Eternal Recurrence reference above. The characters (real and projected) age. However, they never evolve into anything other than themselves. What's interesting is that the actors playing the real people (ie: Sammy and the actress playing Hazel) actually begin to make their own decisions outside of the rehearsal. For example, Sammy and the actress playing Hazel actually do get together and truly enjoy each other's company, but Caden gets jealous and tries to intervene. Naturally, Hazel submits to Caden's advances and loses Sammy. This is where the play catches up to itself and changes again.

In an effort to wrap this very long blog and not scare away future readers, I will say this: Go see the movie. Then see it again, and then a couple more times. Charlie Kaufman spent years preparing the script and then shooting the movie and crafting it just right. The least we can do is spend a few hours watching it, a few more hours thinking about it, and then hopefully a lifetime seeing how it applies to our lives.

Think about Eternal Recurrence. If you are doomed to live your life over and over again, what things would you change right now?

I leave you with the trailer:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A few of my favorite movies at the festival this year

In my humble opinion, a few movies not to miss at the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival (April 15 - 23) are:

FREEDOM RIDERS (opening night - April 15 @8:00pm) - Purchase Tickets Here The screening is followed by an after party at Hotel Midtown.

RACING DREAMS screens Sat @ 2:15pm and Mon @ 7:05pm (click on day/time to buy tickets) This is such a great little movie. It's like HOOP DREAMS for NASCAR.

NONAMES screening Sat @ 9:45pm and Monday @ 4:15pm - This movie touched me because it reminds me so much of my son, and a few other family members. The movie does such an excellent job of showing the fine line between external cause-and-effect and careless decision-making. Kathy Lindboe, the director, will be in attendance.

I AM COMIC screens Sun @ 5:30pm and Tue @ 9:40pm - Jeff Foxworthy, Dave Attell and Margaret Cho are scheduled to attend the Sunday screening.

10 CONDITIONS OF LOVE screens Monday @ 7:10pm - Rebiya Kadeer will be in attendance. China protested this film's screening in Australia and it resulted in the film festival's computer system being hacked. This will be the North American premiere of the film.

You can see information on the Chinese protests against the Melbourne Film Festival screening here:

THE SQUARE screens Wed at 9:25pm - This is probably my favorite movie in the whole festival.

BURNING ICE screens Thurs @ 7:10pm - I don't have a trailer for this film, but I do have a description: Burning Ice follows a group of 45 world-renowned artists, musicians and scientists as they travel to the High Arctic to witness the effects of climate change. Travelling on a Russian ice-breaker up the west coast of Greenland are musicians Jarvis Cocker, Lesley Feist, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Martha Wainright ,KT Tunstall, Robin Hitchcock; Performance artist Laurie Anderson; Photographer Chris Wainwright and Poet Lemn Sissay. As scientists study the glaciers and ocean currents, the sheer beauty of the landscape inspires an extraordinary outpouring of art projects, music and song. The journey is organized by the UK based arts organization Cape Farewell. Director Peter Gilbert will be in attendance.

THE SECRET TO A HAPPY ENDING - closing night - April 23 @ 7:30pm - I can't find a trailer for this movie. The Drive-By Truckers will be performing live after the screening - followed by an after party at Artmore Hotel.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oz Magazine

Below is an article that Gabe and I co-authored in the current issue of Oz Magazine - just in time for the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival - happening April 15 - 23rd in Midtown Atlanta.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger's Wood

Apparently I'm gonna be in the minority here, but I honestly don't understand why everyone is so damn interested in Tiger Woods' sex life - with his wife or his lovers. I also don't believe that his sexual behavior tarnishes his ability to be a role model to young golfers. The problem is with society's obsession with sex, sexual behavior and conditional norms.

Below are the arguments I'd like make:

1) Tiger Woods' sexual behavior should not affect his ability to be a role model.

Unless Tiger's sexual behavior was part of his role modeling prior to his admitted affairs, his sexual behavior should not be a considering factor for role modelhood after his admissions. The world considered him a role model (because of his superior golfing abilities) before learning of his promiscuity. He was having sex with multiple women without the world's knowledge of it. Had the world not found out, he would still be considered a role model. His sexual behavior has nothing to do with his golfing abilities.

2) The lack of money and sex is the root of all evil.

Okay, I admit to being a little cute here - Mark Twain is actually credited with "the lack of money is the root of all evil" but I think sex should be included in there too. American society is obsessed with sex - probably because the majority isn't having it and the rest think it's a bad and naughty deed.

Seriously though, as both readers of this blog probably know, I was a philosophy major in college. My favorite philosopher to study was Michel Foucault. One of my favorite works of his is "The History of Sexuality" volume 1. The book starts with the following passage: "For a long time, the story goes, we supported a Victorian regime, and we continue to be dominated by it even today. Thus the image of the imperial prude is emblazoned on our restrained, mute, and hypocritical sexuality." Foucault continues by introducing the reader to a summarized version of how sexual practices was turned from a "tolerant familiarity with the illicit" to a defined and regulated behavior by the Victorian bourgeoisie. Whereas sexual practices had little need of secrecy and concealment in the seventeenth century, sex had become a silent behavior only to practiced by married couples with the purpose of procreation - which was actually good for the propagation of the state. Norms were established: married sex with the purpose of procreation = good, any other kind of sex = bad. This basic concept still holds true in the twenty-first century - which is actually kind of sad.

3) Tiger Woods' sex life is none of our business.

Regardless of Tiger Woods' public figure status, what he does in private with other consenting adults is none of anyone's business except his and the person(s) he's with at the time. Making his sexual practices my business is just proliferating point number two (2) above.

Now, please don't mistake my arguments as my condoning Tiger's behavior. I'm simply stating it's actually none of my business and should not affect his role-model abilities.

If you're interested in reading Michel Foucault's book, you can find out more about it by clicking on the image below or buy it on Amazon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What to do.....

So, the festival is only a few months away. Things are getting pretty busy at work and that means frustration levels (particularly mine) are all over the place. I believe this will be my fourth Atlanta Film Festival. The organization has had a very stable staff in place for those four years, which is pretty unusual when it comes to nonprofits. Unfortunately, I feel I'm getting to the point of burnout. The burnout comes from the administrative end, not the creative end. And by administrative, I mean dealing with the board of directors.

In my humble opinion, nonprofits are broken - structurally. When a person joins the board of directors of a nonprofit, it should be done for a couple reasons: 1) A true passion for the organization's mission and, 2) The belief that you can help further organization's mission by helping it get the resources it needs to achieve its goals. If a person joins the board of an organization for any other reason, it does the organization a disservice.

I also think it's important to note that it's not the job of the board of directors to manage the organization - that is the hired staff's responsibility. The job of the board is to provide the organization with fiduciary oversight. Fiduciary oversight (a legal term) basically consists of two parts: initially creating a budget and then monitoring how effective and appropriate the year’s budget has been executed, in the best interests of a third party. According to, a go to site for nonprofits, they describe the role of a board of directors as the following:

The role of a non-profit board member is comprised of only three activities:
  • Fundraising (80 percent): Fundraising is the most important responsibility of a board member, yet many board members are reluctant to engage in this activity. Board members are expected use their connections to spur interest in and support of the organization they serve. Board fundraising activities may include major donor solicitations, sponsorship solicitations, membership recruitment, and efforts to boost event registrations.
  • Oversight of Programs (10 percent): The non-profit board is responsible for general oversight of the organization’s programs. This role does not extend to the operations behind the programs, but does include fiduciary oversight.
  • Strategic Planning (10 percent): The board is the primary force behind the organization’s strategic planning decisions. Board members create or update the strategic plan and evaluate the implementation plan presented by staff.
But, when board members see their job as an oversight of management, huge problems between the board and staff begin to arise. Gabe and I work as a management team - we work in tandem with sponsors, vendors and any external relationships the organization maintains. I have additional duties that include handling all of the finances and human resource needs, including staff management. Gabe writes grants and does other fund-raising activities. All in all, I guess it balances out for each of us. He, however, carries the title of Executive Director and therefore has a direct linkage to the board. I am the Managing Director (still an executive position) but on the staff side, not the board side. We both deal with the board and provide them with reports and so forth.

For the past several months now, our relationship with the board of directors has grown strained. Our board does not consider itself a "fund-raising board," even though that is the board we need. Instead, our board wants to be involved in the daily management decisions and wants to actively participate in creative endeavors. This is not the role of the board - this is the role of the staff. This is creating the burnout and high stress levels. I honestly feel that this will be my last festival and that makes me sad. I have loved being part of the transformation of the Atlanta Film Festival. However, I feel that, due to the state of the board of directors, we have reached a glass ceiling and cannot bust through. Learning how to deal with this is difficult. It reminds me of dealing with my son - he has SOOOO much potential (he's very smart) but he completely wastes his days away with nonsense and will not achieve his true potential. I see the potential the Atlanta Film Festival holds and it's so damn frustrating knowing that it probably won't achieve its full potential due to its own board. For a driven person, having to live in that type of an environment is just cruel and brutal.

So, I've been pretty depressed lately and have been trying to figure out where to go from here. I feel so lost because I had so much optimism going into this job and now I just feel defeated and deflated. I cannot live in mediocrity and I cannot lower my standards for success because I feel doing so does everyone, including me, a disservice. Sometimes I wish I could - sometimes I wish I could be one of those people who doesn't really care about things and can disengage. I think it'd be much easier to deal with and I might be a happier person. I'm not wired that way, though.

I read something today that I think quaintly explains why I can't give up, give in, or disengage. My friend posted an MLK Jr. quote, in honor of today's holiday. It reads: " Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, if I'm doing something, it's because it matters.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Number 10 - SILENT LIGHT

Well, I belong to the school of thought that believes a decade is 1-10. So, since we're in the 10th year, I will begin with my top films of the decade. I'll count down and it'll probably take me a long time to finally get to my number one film of the decade, but it'll be worth it.

I start this list with SILENT LIGHT, by Carlos Reygadas.

At first glance, I didn't quite know what to make of the film - it's slow moving and very artistic. The story follows a deeply religious Mennonite family but focuses upon the actions and reactions of three people: the husband, Johann, his wife, Esther, and his mistress, Marianne. It's clear that Johann loves his wife and family but he's truly drawn to Esther and feels as though she is his better match and truer love. Johann is tormented with falling in love with Marianne because he doesn't want to hurt Esther, whom he's been completely forthcoming with about the affair, but cannot stand the thought of losing either women.

The film brings to light the dilemma lots of people must face in life: Passion verses Duty. Johann and Esther are in a passionless marriage with seven fair-headed children. It's obvious they love each other and their children. They've made a commitment, under God, and Johann sees it as his duty to remain married to Esther and provide their children with the best life possible. Esther is very much aware of Marianne and the affair and suffers in silence as it is her duty to be the best wife and mother she can be - no matter the circumstances. Their stoicism is painful - to watch and for them to live.

But when Johann is with Marianne, he is filled with passion. The chemistry between the two is apparent and energized. Marianne is also tormented because she's in love with Johann yet knows that they will never be together. She also feels sad for Esther because she knows that even though Johann fulfills his husbandly duties with Esther, the fire in his heart burns for her.

I have to say that I honestly didn't like Johann that much. I felt his "honesty" to be brutal and careless. I cared much more for Esther and Marianne, which I finally decided that the story was about anyway. Both of these women were in love with this one man - who couldn't fully give himself to either one of them. They were both settling. I don't know who was more flawed, or even if one was more flawed than the other(s).

The story of this tormented trio is told beautifully with long quite shots that capture the stoic essence of a Mennonite lifestyle. The story does have resolution but I'm not quite sure how I feel about the ending. I think Reygadas employs some supernatural imagery that bothered me at the time. To me, the use of this abrogated the honesty portrayed in the story up to that point. I think the final decision could have still been the same without the use of unnatural happenings. However, this wasn't enough to sway me away from the film.

I recommend watching this film at least three times: Once to take it all in as a whole; Once to follow and contemplate the story and; Once to absorb the visually mesmerizing camera work. Below is the trailer.

I think my next favorite movie of the decade will be a bit more uplifting.