On Saturday, August 7th, I was interviewed live on the satellite channel V.O.A show, Shabahang, with host Behnood Mokri. They showed a few clips of my work, talked a bit about WHALE, and a bit of the challenges involved in being an Iranian American filmmaker.
The segment ran about 15-20 minutes, and when a link is available, I will post it, although my Farsi is not so good, and I'm sure it caused a few laughs. All in all, I received lots of kind messages from people all around the world saying that they enjoyed the interview.
We are currently working on a new website which will make navigating easier, especially in trying to find some of my work, which is scattered everywhere..
In the spirit of making things easier to find, you can access some of my channels here. They are all a bit different(Vimeo and Dailymotion shows some longer films like Plain Us and knock. knock. for now, and Youtube has WHALE along with some other videos), although in the future, I will migrate them all to one place. For now, check them all out, see what you like, and connect with me.
Add IndieFlix too the growing list of places to purchase and or stream WHALE. As of now, you can purchase an IndieFlix WHALE dvd for $9.95, or rent online for 30 days at $4.95. The DVD is the lowest listed anywhere, although the artwork differs from the DVD you can purchase elsewhere, including Amazon.
So, maybe now, instead of wasting your time with a torrent, you can bring home WHALE for cheap and legally.
Whale will be available to watch on "IndieFlix" starting Tuesday, June 22nd. A week later, it will go live on "Youtube Rentals".
As far as other choices go, you can check it out on DVD, or Video on Demand and instant streaming on Amazon right now, with either a rental option or an instant streaming option, both with prices that are unfair, between creator and consumer. You guys win.
Two things on the agenda, first I am in the process of having a new website built, one in which will make finding what I'm doing easier, and as I've been quietly recently, its only because lots of things are happening.
Second, and more importantly, is a new interview I did with an M.A student in Film Studies in Kolkata, India, asking me some questions about what I thought "No-Budget Filmmaking" means, both concept and conception. This is for his dissertation paper, and since its academic in spirit, click if your only interested in such things.
Andy Horbal, the Pittsburgh film critic/writer has some nice things to say about WHALE, without even mentioning Mumblecore (not that I give a shit, but I think that label is lazy journalism), imagine that.
He goes on to say, "I was quite taken by Whale...Motlagh’s eye for composition (I knew I was in good hands from the film’s very first shot) and ability to flirt with indie film clichés without becoming entrapped by them mark him as a director to watch.."
To read the whole thing, which also describes Lucas McNelly's festival Indies for Indies click here:
Just a quick note, while I'm not fond of posting reviews and pull quotes good or bad, since this is a DIY film in every way imaginable, I have to head the promotional aspects as well, including posting the reviews that come out about it. Remember kids, the relationship between critic and filmmaker is tricky, and it can get ugly real quick. Just ask Kevin Smith.
With the DVD launch in progress, WHALE screens at the Independent minded film festival screening series, Indies for Indies. Indies for Indies is curated by Lucas McNelly, talking the freshest films from the Independent film circuit and screening them at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont Pennsylvania.
This is the perfect type of supplemental screening opportunity to further support my newer ideas towards releasing WHALE and possibly other projects. As I focus more towards the DVD and digital distribution options, screenings further support my main objectives. I am not relying on the festival first, then see what happens method. Those were my ideas previously, but as I spent more time finishing the project then I ever expected, I felt no need to further delay the existence of the film. Its here, if you want it, you can buy it. But, you can also see it screened if you are in the right place, at the right time. I'm hand choosing where this film goes, no blind festival submissions. Why lose money? Why not make money? The economic and industrial world we live in is a bit different, so why really on the same old approaches? Is it because it worked for so and so in the past? Well, fuck that, every case is different, time has passed, so I'm opening up to new possibilities, and so far, so good.
Also, another reason Indies for Indies is a fascinating case study, is that the festival proposes to give back some of the box office to the filmmaker. Now, isn't that a novel idea, one in which should have been implemented 10 years earlier. I applaud these types of positive approaches to the stagnate film festival infrastructure. Whether they work or not isn't the final question, but whether people have the initiative to try to do something different, something vital to resurrect a dying form which is losing younger audiences daily. Indy film will start to be vital again when filmmakers stop thinking they are Quentin Fucking Tarantino or Kevin Smith, and make work which truly speaks to their generations now. That's what was going on with Tarantino and Smith in the nineties. There was personalty, a fuck you attitude, a vision. Look at how loyal audience fan base were. Think about how Harmony Korine spoke to millions of young adults his age. People gave a shit then, they really did. And most importantly, it was the youth who admired the auteur. Nowadays, we lost them to Avatar and the newest Vince Vaughn comedy (not making a judgment on the quality(in fact i really was quite taken by Avatar), but on the fact that values have changed). Indie film nor the arthouse is hip anymore culturally, lets face the fact. But that doesn't mean that it cannot be again. Lars Van Trier proves the case, with personality, insight, radicalism, and again, a fuck you attitude. Hate the guy, or love him, you cannot deny the magnetism he draws on the form. He makes you go see the work. Of course, I'm talking about the little guys right now, who, if you support them, can grow into the next generation of filmmakers who speak directly to you, the audience. A stale, dying infrastructure will only drown the voices without peoples support.
So, get to work, and support films which speak to you. Support them the same way you support bands that you love. Go buy their shit, ask your local "arthouse" theaters to bring you new shit, make your own screening series of indie films at your local bar, or your own house. Indie film nights, coming straight to the couch. Buy some obscure DVD from someone you heard about, then invite a bunch of people for drinks and enjoy the night. Stop being a critic, a cynic, a negative asshole. Be good, be kind, be helpful. And last but not least, go see WHALE, or buy the damn DVD!
So this week I've been up to my neck in doing interviews for WHALE, which I shall post shortly.
But, first on the agenda, I was invited to be part of a roundtable panel discussion by Alejandro Adams for his site BrainTrustdv(who is one of the recent interviewers) on DIY distribution versus the traditional infrastructure in place now.
The panel includes many different points of view from a wide array of people making independent films today.
Info: Distributor: Movieola-The Short Film Channel & AYA Films Premiere: Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival, Oct 2008
Synopsis: Cy, an Iranian American indie rocker drops into the city he grew up in while on tour, to visit the family he could have had. Thing is, life's never so easy, even when you're in a rock and roll band.
Crew: Written, Directed and Starring Amir Motlagh Producers: Joshua Virnick, Amir Motlagh Cinematographer: Zamir Kokonozi Production Design: Tom O'Connell Sound Design: Brock Carter Music: Shanks and the Dreamers
Cast: Amir Motlagh Kindy Barr Nadia Anwar Art Toussi Tom O'Connell Rami Askar Kristen Penza Joshua Virnick
To be honest, this has been a relatively strange time for me. I just finished releasing an album, and am about two days away from finishing my first narrative feature that has been three years in the making. In between time, i have been very busy as usual.
But i have wanted to make some changes in pattern, and in all honesty, believe that i have been behind the curve on the internet for quite some time. Maybe i have been to busy, but probably i have been to near sighted.
I finished a film in 2008 called Plain Us. It premiered at the Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival in Oct. A few weeks after, it was solicaited by Movieola-The Short Film Channel for broadcast rights in Canada. This was very early in my usual cycle to go for this type of deal. I thought about other screenings and festivals and the usual pattern that films "must" go through.
But this time, instead of thinking it over long, i signed away on the contract, thinking that broadcast, the internet and a non-exclusive contract was best, and the sooner the better.
This time, i don't have the time nor the money, nor energy to dive all my resources into the festival thing. The "what if's" is not something i want to experience right now. I have been there, done that, and in the end, want to try something else for once.
I am coming on my 8th year as both a professional, and at many times amateur filmmaker, and i have put in my dues. So, without further ado, i present Plain Us, in full, for free on the web. Watch it, enjoy it, hate it, love it, be indiffent, but please send it to someone else, many people else.
Also, it is 24 minutes long, so take a deep breath from your twittering, and sit back.
So I'm adding a new feature on this site called, "The Photo Journal". I understand that its hella clever in the Bay Area sense, but i'll be updating whenever i get a chance, and when in fact at least a week or several have past.
The page is located on the sidebar (pages section). So after this first preview, i'll only link to it from this point on. Maybe not.
So, without further verboseness, this is the first edition, November 2008.
Shanks and the Dreamers live at Evocal 11-04-08
On stage with Dubfire_Nocturnal 2008
Before playing, 11.04.08
In the "small" Studio_ I keep my mutherfukin sunglasses on in doors..
This is an interesting time to say the least. I don't particularly like to go out of my way with opinions about the state of business on my own personal site, but i want to address some interesting things of late. While Plain Us just got its festival premiere a week or so ago, i had seven short film distribution companies contact me regarding the film over the last few weeks.
Mind you, i'm not quite sure how they got wind of the film, and it wasn't from public screenings because it just premiered, but nevertheless, it's been a good sign.
Now, out of the seven, three of the companies want to acquire the film. One is exclusive, the other two are non-exclusive. My concern has been that if i sign the dotted line, what happens to screening the film on a festival circuit?
Now, this is were i think that finally filmmakers should be on the upper hand. On one side, i can just hold of and play the lottery card that has become the festival selection process, or, go ahead and get the best possible deal i can right now. The truth is, especially for short films, is that we should be able to do all of the above. And by that i mean, get that broadcast deal, get that web deal, and hopefully tour the circuit all concurrently. Why should the process hold the filmmaker back. With all the changes in the distribution models of late, i believe that the same should happen to short films to give extra opportunities for exposure. Mind you, just because a film is available on the web, doesn't mean that screening it at a festival makes it somehow less viable. In fact, seeing something that has garnered attention on the platform and resolution that it was originally intended makes it that much more satisfying and viable.
Its not worth waiting months on end to see whether you get in here or there....Maybe if you are on that old school frame of thought, its understandable, but as my one and only mentor told me about a year ago, "Don't take no for an answer", espcially if you completely believe in what you are doing.
Cameron, a writer who seems to have never finished his first novel, returns home to his mother's house in Orange County Ca., after a failed relationship and lack of direction with life. Back home, Cameron spends his time reacquainting with old high school friends, only to find that life has only gotten more confusing for everyone. What is a young man to do when he seems to have lost all hope?
The film uses a cast made up of mostly non-actors, including Motlagh's real life parents. Many of the cast were first seen in Amir Motlagh's short film, Dino Adino (2001). By using an alternative narrative style, the film destroys the lines of fiction and documentary by engaging the audience in a way that traditional narrative fictions cannot. Motlagh utilized an approach that mixes the cinematic language, using influences ranging from Dogme 95, No Budget DIY, Iranian Cinema, Collage, John Cassavettes and Youtube to string together the film in a unique and original way.
-Quotes- "DIY meets cinema art"
"A collage of life, weaved with a sparring, gentle narrative that says more, without hardly saying anything"
"An autistic vision of cinema, equal parts beautiful, indulgent, and raw"
"Life unfolds in Amir Motlagh's new film whale"
-Cast- Amir Motlagh Darren Oneil Mike Flowers Atefeh Galledari Yousef Motlagh Rastin Ashtiani Kindy Barr
-Company Credits- Production Company - AYA Films Produced by - Amir Motlagh, Darren Oneil Music- Shanks and the Dreamers