Art

A meta episode in the vein of Seinfeld, not much happens - Things w/ Amir Motlagh Ep 13

This is all meta and in the vein of Seinfeld; nothing happens, and all bundled with 99% less laughs. Anyways, as I had feared before I revamped this, that bottlenecks would thwart my consistency. And, yes, they have. So, while I have been perpetually aiming at making these better, or rather, more value oriented & better researched, that has not happened. Will it, who knows? To be honest, it is what it will be.

Though, I do like to talk freely like this, so, maybe I’ll just keep at it. The volume has been increased as my friend Jonathan implored me to bump the gain knob. I noticed that I was mixing it at a volume that film dialogue would be at, and that is probably to low for the web.

What happens in these 7 minutes? A quick chat about the last couple weeks, the weather is spectacular and why you should read ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert Pirsig.

As always, come say hello and subscribe if you’re feeling generous, if not for these, but for all the other more important stuff.

With love,
am

THREE WORLDS Reviewed by Premier Arthouse Cinema Site PINNLAND EMPIRE

When you make art & you put it out into the world, it becomes a vulnerable time if you haven’t done the necessary work to detach. Essentially, equanimity is the only barrier between this raw period and the world. I seldom read or look at reviews, but this one was a bit different because I felt the reviewer got it (the essence), for lack of a better term, and that connection is wonderful.

So, when you got a moment, check out this THREE WORLDS review from the stellar arthouse cinema site, PINNLAND EMPIRE.

Amir Motlagh dispels some of the superficial stigmas put on Los Angeles while at the same time embraces the very real superficialities associated with L.A. (outside of Los Angeles being the epicenter of the entertainment industry, it’s a very cool city unlike any other if you know the right people).

And putting all Mekas/Malick comparisons aside, this is very much Motlagh’s own film. The movie is filled with obvious autobiographical content that comes off as genuine & organic as opposed to pretentious. That’s not an easy task with a film like this (ambient, sprawling, artistic and sometimes chaotic). A young filmmaker could easily get self-absorbed & pretentious with a movie like Three Worlds but that’s not the case here.

This will definitely require a second (or third) viewing. And that’s a good thing. This isn’t something to fully digest in one sitting.
— Marcus Pinn

The feature film MAN is officially live!!!!

Here it is! The second of three releases of the THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS series. Only available on Vimeo On Demand (worldwide) over the weekend, then Amazon Prime (US/UK), and then the rest of the digital platforms.

I wouldn't tell you how to watch it, but I do think a solitary experience heightens the effect, preferably with some headphones. 

The film is experimental in the structural sense, so, come with open eyes and let it unfold at its pace. 

$2 bucks to rent. $7 to buy. A steal! 

Enjoy luv. 

(ps: If you were part of the IndieGoGo campaign, we got cheat codes :) )

Zebras in America Podcast Episode 54 with filmmaker Amir Motlagh

Was interviewed on the Zebras in America podcast with host Marcus Pinn (Pinnland Empire) and Scott Thorough. We discussed a range of topics, with the focus being my two latest 2018 films, Three Worlds + MAN.  

Come listen in to Marcus Pinn of Pinnland Empire describe Three Worlds "like jazz".

Three Worlds - Mother's Day Surprise!

Happy Mother's Day! This is a surprise clip from the upcoming feature film, THREE WORLDS. Sign up for the mailing list on the sidebar to be the first to know our next screening/release schedule. Look out for our trailer coming shortly.

Synopsis 

Three Worlds (2018) is a psychological science fiction drama that explores the three lives, or 'worlds,' of a man who undergoes an experiment that triggers haunting memories and alternate life 'memories.

Cast / Crew

Written & Directed by Amir Motlagh
Produced by ANIMALS, Amir Motlagh, Charles Borg
Director of Photography: Amir Motlagh

Cast:

Amir Motlagh                 Saam Heidari
Samantha Robinson     Ashley Evans
Rey Deegan                   Charles Adler
Keaton Shyler               Danica Mihajlović
Gregory Linington        Thomas Blaumberg

Editing:  Bryan Tuck,  Amir Motlagh
Original Score by:  Julian DW Brink

Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer: Stephen Holliger

Media Quotes

“It’s always exciting whenever a distinct new voice makes itself heard on the indie landscape. Amir Motlagh is such a voice.

honest and soulful.. ”

— Adam Schartoff FILMWAX RADIO

““These unique experiences are made even more exceptional for their Iranian-American perspective.” 

...the experience of both films (MAN + Three Worlds) is one that any film connoisseur must have. To sit with an awareness of the film, and, an awareness of how you are watching it, is a surreal act that can only be described as “art.” Motlagh’s work is definitely a piece of art in the medium of film.”

— Jonita Davis THE IRANIAN

“there is without a doubt a definitive boldness to “Three Worlds”, both in its tone and aspirations, and it will certainly require viewers to lean in a little closer, which is never a bad thing…..a curious and fascinating watch.”

— David Fowlie KEEPING IT REEL

Three Worlds - Rooftop Sequence
Amir Motlagh as Saam. Samantha Robinson as Ashley
Gregory Linington and Amir Motlagh
Three Worlds - Suburbs of California
Keaton Shyler as Danica
Samantha Robinson as Ashley Evans 2
Hollywood Lake Amir Motlagh Keaton Shyler

MAN & THREE WORLDS AN AMIR MOTLAGH DOUBLE FEATURE PREVIEW SCREENING presented by Chicago Filmmakers

The THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS series of works gets a double feature screening of MAN & THREE WORLDS, presented by Chicago Filmmakers. The presentation starts at 6pm, Saturday, April 21st. 

The box office is open, so we would love to see you there. I am planning on attending (schedule permitting) but my producing partner & co-writer on MAN, Charles Borg will be present. If you are press, or know anyone who would be interested in writing about the event, or needs screeners, please reach out. 

This has been a long time coming, but we wish to come to other cities. If you are interested in booking the films, please reach out. Whether it be film festivals, one-off events, microcinemas, arthouse theaters or gallery spaces (etc), we are open and excited to hear from you. We want to bring this to you in a way that feels organic and connected.

I'll be updating as the date nears. Thank you all for the years of support. 💚

 

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And so I Wrote Something to be Read

Not only do you get a 2D cartoon representation of me, you also get some quotable gems I've probably (wisely) moved away from.

 Cartoon Amir.

Cartoon Amir.

In all honestly, this is a cool film series published by FOCAL PRESS with some interesting, and talented(this word is meaningless in many ways, but not always) filmmakers.

I however, did not reread this after it was sent 6 months ago to be published, because, what is the point of revising archived opinion?

With that said, can it possible be the best thing I've ever written? Not sure. 

Enjoy, share and let me know your thoughts.

BIG BRAINS - SMALL BUDGETS: DIY FILMMAKING ADVICE

On Thin Skins & Dreams of the 21st Century Cinema

Any time I write directly about film as a 20th century media living in a 21st century world, people get upset. My feeling is that the emotion is tied to a sort of existential anxiety about identity and career, coupled with nostalgia for something we hold dear. I get it.

I love cinema. It’s one of my most beloved passions. But, massive changes are upon us, both on the business end, and even more harrowing, the loss of cultural influence of a media that has absolutely dominated the 20th century. But, if we are to keep this thing moving forward, we all have a responsibility to create a clear vision of the road ahead. This is not a community effort, which would be impossible, but an individual one which demands honesty, projection and ACTION.

What this means is that a) the content has to change b) the delivery of said content (don’t be hurt by the use of that word) has to change c) the form of said content has to evolve d) all of the above. Does this mean VR, does this mean 4D, or the end of the movie star and lower budgets, or does this mean something else all together. 

I often hear people complaining about the lack of interesting movies being made. The classic, “they don’t make em like they used to” phrase. Bullshit. If they did “make em like they used too”, we would collectively be bored out of our fucking minds, because we would still be stuck getting sequel 300 of ON THE WATERFRONT (and I love that damn movie). Second, and more important, a ton of fantastic movies are made every damn year. This is without question. There is no lack in storytelling. That is the easiest and laziest fallback to a more complicated challenge. One that I hear time and time again. You cannot make this argument without context.

The real problem is an existential one. A question of supply and demand, and of a now, classical art that is too frightened of the future and too in love with its past to break through the noise. What does this mean? Without experimentation, and I mean real gritty experimentation we cannot know exactly, but, if we continue along the same path, this thing we all love so much will go the way of OPERA. And when it does, the good ol days is all we got.

People often point to studies done years ago about how the cinema is as strong as ever. This is misguided, because again, supply has increased, demand has decreased, while ticket prices have increased. It’s a shadow show. The decline of the American people going to the movies over the years has fallen drastically, while at the same time, the growth of media has increased tremendously. This is why Hollywood bets on the tentpole comic book franchises, those giant movies with endless sequels and stories cultivated years ago. That is where they have a true competitive advantage for now. Scale above all else.

But if you aren’t aware of Moore’s Law and exponential growth, its a good time to use wikipedia because those massive CGI movies are not far off to being replicated at home, with but a few talented people. We are already seeing that stuff being reproduced by small teams and sometimes individually on Youtube. We are not on stable grounds, and nothing, not even the most beloved, is safe. 

Build the future, and bet on your vision. Cherish LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, but please, don’t remake it.

______________

article originally posted on Medium

of YOUTUBE episodes and other expletives for the month of JAN....

Ok, so, here we are nearing the end of the first month of 2015, a wild month politically, and certainly, personally.

One thing that I promised myself, and I've made that socially clear as well is that I am going to commit to consistent communication. And Youtube is one of those streams I want to cultivate.

The only challenge now, is that while we at ANIMALS have been developing super material for the web, we have not figured out how to engage on a more simplistic, communicative level on channels like YOUTUBE

So, here and now, I keep to my word, while at the same time searching for ways to build the puzzle. Bear with me for awhile, since its not going to be pretty, but, soon enough we'll get into a flow .

For now, if you haven't, please subscribe. Do it. SUBSCRIBE NOW, not later. See, I'm not putting it off, and neither should you.

Enjoy this train wreck of a first attempt while it lasts.

Been revisiting architecture (googie edition)....

I recently read an article in CURBED about the possible demolishing of a NORMS restaurant on LA CINEGA and Rosewood. First, i've probably been to NORMS under 5 times in my life, and every single time it was after a night of drinking, when other options did not exist. Needless to say, I don't really have an opinion on the food they serve, and in all honesty, I don't remember too much. It probably wasn't that great, but that's just assuming shit.

But, the article was not about NORMS itself, but the building that housed it. The architecture of the GOOGIE STYLE, (50's-60's) and one of the real identity markers of Southern California. The style is so fantastic and timeless, by the shear dated quality of it. Yes, it's a contradiction, but the wholly unique attributes make it a style that stands apart. It also was a staple of some of our favorite cartoon designs.

And it's being erased from the landscape as more and more of these cafe's, bowling alleys and motels get demolished. So, maybe it's a good thing to save this little NORMS, but maybe not for the coffee.

Take a second of your day and enjoy our creative human endeavors with a little click of the mouse.

 look at how remarkable this is.

look at how remarkable this is.

Hollywood Movies; a commodity?...and other sidetracked thoughts...

The distinction of movies as art, commerce or technology is not an easy one to make, once you extinguish the emotional commitment to one or a combination of the others. The filmic language is probably easier to differentiate itself from photography, whose had a historically more contentious relationship with itself as art work (see here for just a glimpse and one sided take on the subject) . Films just have more moving parts.

But the other argument to make is that most filmmaking, most of the time in it's largest scale is really closer to being a commodity than it is an art. Hollywood churns out a product, a seemingly efficient one, although still messy that resembles a factory process. Now, we all know that this is not true in the same way you produce a cereal product, but, it's main goals is too redo whats worked as sound business practice. However, we all know that repeating a historic process doesn't guarantee a future. And that is precisely where we are now.

My biggest question on the matter of the filmic language is whether or not the form itself demands a need for universality. The means of production and execution have historically been massive. One Hollywood blockbuster could get at at least 100 hundred startups up and running. But that's not the point. To make the money back, you basically need not offend a large group of people, but at the same time, give them a very mediocre experience that's worked in the past. That's top down, middle of the road commoditization. That's what you get at the grocery store. And since, at that huge level of production costs, Hollywood thrives as a monopoly, minimizing risk is the top priority. But, as we all know, a monopoly who doesn't innovate, implodes eventually. 

The real issue is whether movies in the way they are created and marketed could continue to sustain itself in the longer run in a world where media elsewhere keeps downsizing and splitting of into smaller, but more dedicated niches. Even in entrepreneurship, the shift is too micro.

But micro was historically never intended for narrative movies, which had for years depended on a large segment of a population, mildly agreeing with it's storytelling because of habit, to recoup the large costs of production. Of course, Hollywood also created some(a large percentage) of the most memorable movies in the history of the media. 

I believe for now, that the move to niche is only possible, if niches for these new stories exist. And even if they do, is it economically viable for creators to keep producing, or, are we not doing the work necessary, to create another language with similar tools? Or do need to spend the energy on new tools and platforms?

Because supply is everywhere you look. The other part of the equation is undoubtably lessening.

The LEAP towards Youtube in 2007 or scared shitless of bad comments....

It's hard to believe that Youtube is not even a decade old. It seems to have been with us from the beginning.

What is more astonishing is that Youtube stars are more popular with teens than even the biggest top down celebrities as this Variety Survey documents. Poor ol Leo sitting in last place.

Now, these are the biggest of the big, but Youtube works in more lateral ways, and in smaller and smaller tribes, who remain vibrant and relevant. But this relevancy is different than what we were conditioned to understand. As Kevin Kelley described in his now famous (and in internet terms, dated) manifesto, "1,000 True Fans", relevancy is really only important to the people who care.

And you don't need too many people to care about what you bring to the table, as long as you're bringing something to that proverbial table in the first place. As Seth Godin would state, something REMARKABLE. Now, remember, remarkable is a shifting phrase. Pewdiepie is not remarkable to baby boomers, but he sure is too millions of teens. And that's the damn point.

So, this gets to my original thought. Back in 2007, while I was going through the ringer of an MFA program at this place, me and my pals (pretty much the whole class of fairly bright kids), all kind of shrugged our collective shoulders about using this new platform to reach out.

In the world of the higher arts, it was prestige less, a self publishing platform for people who couldn't find support in the business. A bunch of self absorbed people talking about non-important things, or terribly produced home videos with nothing to offer.   

What a fucking absolutely rubbish thought that was! And that's the difference between leaping fearlessly forward, or sticking to the status quo. You rather jump, watch somebody else jump, or sit on the sidelines watching other people take initiative and change the world.

So, here is a lesson for anybody reading this. Nothing is sacred in the arts or business, and all empires fall sooner or later (much sooner now). So, when an opportunity(really an obligation) presents itself, jump of that cliff and maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. But it's much cooler to be an explorer than a hesitant wimp. And Youtube won't last forever either. In fact, on the internet clock, it's running out of time, while a host of new platforms are springing up left and right. Are you experimenting, or rolling your eyes again? It's a choice.

So, cheers to a great 2015!