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I thought maybe someday I'd have to commit suicide, but I never thought I'd have to grow up, or get rid of this stuff.


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  • Picture Lock

    Picture was locked on around July 23rd.  I brought in an editor named Kelly Montgomery to help make some cuts that I wasn’t able to.  He did a great service to the film by cutting many minutes that I wouldn’t have been able to, which, in hindsight, I didn’t miss—which is very amazing in itself.  He also cut about five scenes in such a way that material I wasn’t crazy about could be cut out and there still could be a scene left—something I couldn’t figure out how to do myself for those particular scenes.

    He also cut many lines and scenes that I felt the film couldn’t live without and I put those back in.  In the end he improved the film a great deal but we were only able to work together up to a certain point, when his knowledge of the heart of the film reached its maximum.  At that point I had to take over again and go through several more versions before locking picture at 84 minutes.

    For about seven weeks since locking picture I’ve been working 14 hours a day and seven days a week on the sound.  About six of those weeks have been spent cleaning dialogue tracks that are very problematic—with low signal-to-noise ratios or way too much background sound.  There are certain scenes where only the camera mics were delivering sound, because either the sound from the boom mic was lost, or the sound from the boom mic cut out in the middle of the take.

    This obviously has been extremely difficult, even with specialized software like the Waves Noise Suppressor, which is made only to clean dialogue tracks, and Izotope RX 2, which has several tools like a Denoiser, Spectral Repair, De-hummer, De-clicker, etc.  I’ve also made a lot of use of a parametric equalizer.  There’s very little noise-removal that can be done without damaging the dialogue itself, so with every clip it’s a balancing act to remove as much noise as possible, damage the dialogue as little as possible, and match the way the dialogue sounds to the clips around it.  I’m going through the dialogue line by line, sometimes syllable by syllable, to make it sound acceptable, i.e. not distracting.  With noise removal it’s easy to end up with digital artifacts that are as distracting as the noise that’s been removed.

    I’m doing everything I can to avoid asking Greg and Sarah if they would be willing to record more ADR, especially given the lack of funds available.  Fortunately I recorded some ADR with both of them in January of 2010, guessing which scenes were the worst.  And some of this has been useful, although some was unnecessary, whereas I should have re-recorded some scenes that I didn’t, just because I didn’t suspect they would be problems until I got into working with them in the last few weeks.

    Several great pieces of music have been composed and produced for the film, but so far I haven’t had much time to work those into the film, or do much creatively with the sound, given the amount of time spent getting 90% of the dialogue to an acceptable state.

    The reason why I’ve spent such a concentrated amount of time on the film recently is that the late Sundance deadline is coming up fast—September 26th.  I intend to enter LOST TO LOVE in the best state I can—which will be a rough mix of the whole film, but no color-grading.  Then the late Slamdance deadline is about a month later, October 21st, and I hope at that point to have the film finished, with color-grading, VFX (mainly the gun shooting), titles and credits, and a finished sound mix.

    • September 13th, 2011 - 3:52 am
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  • On the way to a locked picture.

    I had another editor, Kelly Montgomery, spend about ten hours working on three scenes of LOST TO LOVE and he did great work.  He was able to see things that I am not because I’m so close to the material.  He was able to cut a lot but still keep the same meaning, and also enhance the effectiveness of the best material.  Right now I see the only way to proceed is to hire him to go through the whole film.  I think that if I do that a locked picture is very close.  However, the catch is the money to pay him.  I had hopes that the Kickstarter campaign would provide the money, but right now it doesn’t look like the goal will be reached.  I’m also trying to sell a Mac Pro tower, which would raise enough money, but there hasn’t been a great response on Craig’s List.  So it remains to be seen at this point how the money will come in to get to a locked picture.

    • April 6th, 2011 - 5:00 pm
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  • New and Improved Editing

    The editing has been going extremely well since the screening in Seattle on the 6th of March.  I received very valuable feedback, and from it got a very specific direction.  After executing most of the suggested changes, I felt a change in my relationship to the project.  For the first time I felt like I knew the two main characters—almost like they were two new friends.  And I got a sense of the flow or pacing of the film, and what I needed to do to improve it.  Previously, by comparison, I had only been working with big chunks of material, trying to remove the right chunks to get to this point of intimacy with the movie.  It had been very frustrating to not feel that intimacy for my own work, and almost feeling that I was working blindly, not knowing what chunks needed to be removed and what chunks needed to stay, or get moved around.  Now the characters and the movie itself are talking to me and guiding me.

    • March 15th, 2011 - 12:58 pm
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  • Blow Up

    While watching Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP recently I remembered that I never liked it, despite the fact that the Yardbirds are in it.  It seems a long way from L’AVVENTURA, L’ECLISSE, LA NOTTE, IL DESERTO ROSSO, and even LE AMICHE, IL GRIDO, and CRONACA DI UN AMORE, all by the same director.  Most of those films, especially the first four (which also had Monica Vitti as a common thread), changed my life in one way or another.  A film that changes my life first gives me the feeling that I’m not alone.  It first demonstrates that the same essence that is within me is also in some one else – namely the director.  Once I understand that the film reaches down that far then I’m ready to learn from it.  I must be ready, since it’s a treasure that I don’t want to squander.  And it’s very personal.

    I’ve also felt that way about many films by the director Andrei Tarkovsky, especially MIRROR, STALKER, NOSTALGHIA, and THE SACRAFICE.  (It’s interesting that NOSTALGHIA was co-written by Antonioni’s long-time collaborator Tonino Guerra.)

    For a long time I believed that people of such genius must have had no trouble finding the money to make their films.  But as I read more about their lives and filmmaking experiences I learned otherwise.  I learned that the shooting for L’AVVENTURA was closed down because of lack of money, and I learned how much Tarkovsky worried about getting the money to make his next movie.  As I remember it, in his published diaries, it seemed that half the writing illuminated his anxiety either about finding the resources to make films, or about coping with his everyday life.

    So I am reminded that the people who make the movies that change lives are no less human than I am.  I remember so clearly thinking that they couldn’t be as human as me.  When I was in high school Alain Resnais, director of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, was speaking one night at Smith College, about a hour from where I lived.  Having seen and been changed by the film, I was astonished that it would be possible to be in the same room with the man who made it.  My French teacher wanted to take me to hear him, but my parents wouldn’t allow it, sensing that she had an abnormally high interest in educating me about the French cinema.

    And then there is the ridicule that many of them experience.  I’m thinking in particular of the reception of L’AVVENTURA at Cannes in 1960.  It was so derided that several critics felt moved to write a letter condemning the reception it received, and declaring that it was indeed an important film.  It must not be easy to do the best one can do and find so little acceptance in the world.  And to make films like these one must believe so completely in them.  It must mean that the pain of rejection is all the more acute.

    I started the effort to make LOST TO LOVE, after ten years of writing it on and off, by forming an LLC and looking for investors.  The process of learning the process, forming the company, writing the offering, the operating agreement, and riders for various states in which I hoped to raise money, the writing of and printing of the business proposal, and distributing it and following up, took one-and-a-half years.  At the end of that time I had spent a considerable amount of money on the process, and I didn’t raise any money for the film.

    At one point two things happened.  I attended a “no-budget” filmmaking workshop.  The idea there was to look at how much money you have and make a movie for that amount.  No time or money wasted on fundraising.  This opened up a new way of thinking for me.  Going into detail about how to make a movie on such limited funds I got a new appreciation for what “guerilla filmmaking” really is.  It turned out to be much more extreme than I had imagined.

    The second thing that happened was that Ryan K. Adams, a Seattle director of photography and producer, decided that LOST TO LOVE should be made on a “no-budget” basis.  At the time I didn’t have the courage to spend my own money on it, which was necessary to make the film on this “no-budget” basis.  But I was in the process of shedding a lot of old ideas, which was necessary to make the film, and one of them, which I will never forget from my days at NYU film school, was “never make a movie with your own money”.   (I was also derided, by my teacher and film studies counselor Charles Milne, for reading Kierkegaard.  He insisted I should be reading comic books if I wanted to be prepared for a career in the cinema.  He might have been right, but I ended up with a second major in philosophy, which I still intend to fall back on if filmmaking doesn’t work out.)

    Encouraged by Ryan’s enthusiasm, and by the fact that over the period of a few days he had begun pulling together a group of people that could actually physically get the movie made, I began to gather my courage, act completely against the grain of how I was brought up, and what I had been taught, and do what was necessary to make LOST TO LOVE—namely spend my own money.

    A script consultant, Elaine Zicree, without whom I would not have been able to finish the script for LOST TO LOVE once told me, after reading the then current draft of LOST TO LOVE, that “No one at any studio will understand a word of what you write.”  This statement made me laugh, but also rang true, and was both a disappointment and a badge of honor.  I was becoming convinced that the only way LOST TO LOVE would be made was if I paid for it myself.

    Stuart Baker, a filmmaker from Seattle, had also commented that the only way to show anyone what I intended to do as a filmmaker was to do it; that there was really no way to explain it otherwise.  All these things contributed to the inexorable conclusion that I would have to do it myself, regardless of the cost to my sense of financial well-being, or my decline by other measures of well-being, comfort, or happiness.

    Although it is a stressful experience, and difficult emotionally, to sacrifice to realize one’s dream or one’s destiny, the decision to do so has its rewards (although it’s often difficult to pick them out of the otherwise often moonless night of day-to-day life under these circumstances).  I would do the same thing again given the same circumstances.  (Although of course I would avoid spending the money that I did spend to raise money, and instead use that money to make the film.)

    What are the rewards I mentioned?  Sometimes I can only see them through the eyes of others who, for example, commend me for staying true to my goals and dreams for so many years.  They say there aren’t many of us around (and I can see why).  Sometimes it’s in the feeling that, or hope that, when someone sees LOST TO LOVE they will have a similar experience to mine (when I saw the films that mattered to me) that leaves them feeling enlivened, hopeful, and less alone.  Sometimes it’s in seeing the excellent work and the heart that the actors put into their roles, and a feeling of pride in being a part of that, and a feeling that I need to honor that by doing the best job I can in finishing the film.  Sometimes it’s in thinking of all of the crew members and production personnel who also gave so much to see that the film is made, and so therefore wanting to see the vision through in order to honor their work as well.

    These are not very tangible rewards, but they keep me and the project moving forward in otherwise treacherously still waters.

    • February 25th, 2011 - 9:53 pm
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  • Romantic Dreamer

    When you decide to tell the truth you never know what messed up thing is going to come out.

              Is it possible for someone who is psychologically healthy and emotionally stable to be in love?  One would like to think so.  But that probably isn’t the case with this guy:  “If I could choose a place to die, it would be in your arms.  Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?  Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?  I’m glad to do it, because I don’t want to fade away.  Give me one more day please.”  LAYLA was never one of my favorite albums but I’ve been listening to it lately to help me to fall asleep, and I’m hearing a lot of nice things in it.  I think it’s the saddest albums I know about, for one thing.  I didn’t know until recently that the guy who wrote and played the ending piano part on the song “Layla” killed his mother with a hammer 12 years later.

    I guess it just goes to show that you never know who’s next.   He was undiagnosed. 

    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.

              I guess there will always be an argument to make about that.  But it’s not like anyone has a choice.  Or, maybe that’s wrong.  I’ve met women who claim the ability to choose or not choose to fall in love.  As a matter of fact, maybe that’s most people, or most women.  Obviously I don’t know what I’m talking about, so I’ll move on.

              I was in love with the cinema.  And then it died and / or left me.  I’ll figure that one out one of these days.  Is it better to have known every possibility exists and then have them all taken away, or is it better to never have known they exist?  The vision from the very heights of existence persists for a lifetime.  It seems like a high price to pay for a temporary home.

               Sometimes I’d like to write like Zelda Fitzgerald.  But, again, a high price there is to pay.  Julia McAlee writes songs as inspired, but without the suggestion that to understand them one must risk institutionalization.  But I don’t think her best work is on her site.

              LOST TO LOVE now has eight parts.  I discovered this by outlining the 985 events in the film and grouping them into beats, scenes, sub-sections, and then sections.  8 sections.  I will put a fade out and fade in between each section.  That will help the viewer to keep track of things, I hope.  Ryan K. Adams and another producer both suggesting outlining the film before proceeding to the next level of cutting and I’m glad they did, because I was lost.  Now I’m found.  I’ve worked on the 5th section, and yesterday the 4th section.  Not that these numbers mean anything to the reader, except to convey the impression, I hope, that I am organized and proceeding with due diligence. 

              In addition, I listen to music like LAYLA or EXILE ON MAIN STREET and I think about how I could make what makes those good make LOST TO LOVE good.  Wim Wenders said that story in movies is like the drums in rock ‘n’ roll.  So if I could make the story drum like Charlie Watts I think that would be good.

              But I’ve never been happy with the idea of story.  It has always seemed too facile a way to explain the way things are.  But I think Wenders was saying that it keeps things together while you’re explaining the way things are by other, more mystery-laden means.

              His earlier films had a great impact on me:   THE AMERICAN FRIEND, KINGS OF THE ROAD, THE WRONG MOVE, ALICE IN THE CITIES, THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK.  After a screening of KINGS OF THE ROAD at the New York Film Festival in the late 70’s I asked him if he wanted to see a band called The Ramones at CBGBs.  He said he had some people he had to talk to.  American rock ‘n’ roll played a big part in his life. 

              And then there was Antonioni.

    • October 6th, 2010 - 2:58 am
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  • Starting new cut

    Tomorrow I start cutting on the new cut.  I think I’m going to start with the diner scene.  There’s some material in there that I think I’ve always realized could be cut.  And I’ve known it’s too long.  And then there’s some stuff in there that the story would be better off without.  Now to dive in and address all that. 

    • September 24th, 2010 - 2:07 pm
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  • Spreadsheet / Ryan wins award

    Time rushes on and I never seem to get enough done on the film.  I finished the spreadsheet that diagrams all the scenes and scene beats for the cut I have now.  There are 62 scenes.  I have this spreadsheet printed and taped together on my in three pieces.  End to end it’s about 11 feet long.  Now the trick is to look at it and discern what needs to be done.  Already I have the feeling that it’s helping me to see things that can and should be cut.  But it’s only this weekend when I’ll be able to stare at it long enough to actually make some decisions and hopefully I’ll also be able to put some of those decisions into action.  It’s definitely time I started to make some changes in the cut.

    • September 16th, 2010 - 1:53 am
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  • Rough cut feedback

    I received some good feedback from a producer and a composer and as a result I decided to step back and analyze the structure of the cut of LOST TO LOVE that I have now.  I need to become more objective about it.  I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to outline the action and divide it into acts, scenes, beats, and individual actions or events.  I think that this will help me to see where there might be repeated beats, and therefore where action can be cut without hurting the film.  I know there are stellar moments in there, but right now they are buried among too many other moments.  In order to make the amazing moments shine, I need to lose the repeated moments and not-so-stellar moments.

    • August 31st, 2010 - 12:57 pm
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