filmmaking

What is the movie "Three Worlds" about?

Every week since its release, I get an email (or several) asking a question similar to this, “hi, can you please explain “the XYZ” scene in your movie Three Worlds (sometimes they spell it “3 worlds”). Occasionally, I get the all encompassing, “what is the movie Three Worlds about?”

I try to reply back to all the sincere questions, but the answer is not a fully satisfied one, though the response to my answer seems to be enough.

I recently tried to think if I had ever thought about “meaning” in a film. And it occurred to me that I had not, at least not in a concrete way, but I assume this is irregular.

My answer is always the same; “I have my ideas about what the scene (film) is about, but yours are better than mine, even if you haven’t decided yet.”

Happy Thanksgiving Friends, enjoy time with your loved ones. And if are particularly feeling alone, reach out and say hello.

Roscoe and Amir

Things w/ Amir Motlagh Ep11

Slowly turning into a pod(web)cast, lol. This was longer than I wanted, but much quicker to get through on the backend. Still working it out. Fixed the audio drop-out issue, which is a weird Premiere Pro bug.

I have been feeling under the weather (not emotionally man!!), but pushed through to keep consistent.

This episode is more free flowing, as I go through some history of filmmaking in the last couple decades. Again, my preparation is next to nil, which is why so many important points where skipped over. The tradeoff is that I can actually deliver these in a weekly manner.


"Three Worlds" Nominated at QPIFF

THREE WORLDS gets a Film Festival Nomination for "Best Editing" in the Feature Film category at the Queen Palm International Film Festival. Best of luck to Bryan Tuck, who put the most sweat equity.  

QPIFF Award Nomination Certificate - Best Editing -Feature Film_Three Worlds.png

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".

Tomorrow is the LA premiere of "A DYING KING"

Tomorrow starts the limited theatrical run of my friend Bobak's documentary, A DYING KING. I spent a good amount of time on this production, which spanned many years. This was a real passion project for him, and never having made a film before, he took a giant leap of faith & unsurprisingly, saw it to the end. Most people will never realize the difficulty in completing an independent film, let alone a feature-length documentary. The amount of work just compounds & whenever you think you are finished, a whole new set of challenges appear. 

You can catch the film this week in LA, starting Wednesday at Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Thursday at Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino. A New York run starts the following week and it will tour through several cities including some European ones.

The online release starts in 2018.  

Here is a link to the LA Times review:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-dying-king-review-20171114-story.html

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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.

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.

ADR and acting....

Coming from an acting background, I personally despise ADR. Sometimes, like today, it is a necessary evil. However, with that said, the audio specialist's who make it work are amazing at what they do, and at what they can endure.

On Hollywood films, ADR is par for the course. But, something is always lost in the translation. The level of disconnect from the initial scripted (or not) words, to the performance,  to the sterile soundproof booth is the grandest of artifice. I cringe whenever I find myself in that situation.

However, my experience tells me that it's never as bad as it is when you hear it, raw, out of the monitors at the sound studio.     

my man Ojan at Stems Post.

my man Ojan at Stems Post.

the lusting after things beyond our control....

One thought of late has been about my relatively recent obsession with animation. Ghibli obviously being the crown jewel of the cinematic version, has my complete undivided attention, a feat of impossibility these attention starved days. My most anticipated movie this year for me, the one that really gets me excited is THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA, and the previous year was Miyazaki's THE WING RISES. 

That happened to be my favorite movie going experience as well. I was all alone in the theater. 

My reasoning can be in due part to Ghibli's scarcity. Miyazaki is retired, and Takahata I'm assuming will too. Takahata is in his late seventies. They are the last of the 2D master's and with them retired, the cinematic art form of traditional animation will suffer a great, incalculable loss.

I also feel that my obsession is driven by the fact that this process is so foreign to me, but such a specialized gift that is not aided much by other things in it's raw sense. It is an expression from hand to screen. And, I also know with almost absolute certainty that I can never personally draw a 2D movie. (However, I would be more than happy to direct. In fact, I have a concept ready to go, so go ahead and hit that contact button if you're a a visionary first, and a super cool investor second. Thanks.)

We often do storyboards in live action, then film it. The process itself is always a reenactment of something. A reenactment of life when we work in the pseudo realism tradition of today. One that is in love with it's scripts.  Of course, cinema is full of examples of people who strove for something else. The Tarkovsky's, Chris Marker's and a grand host of other's rejected this traditional Western reenactment for for something else. I only use these two examples to expedite this thought to page. 

Animation to me is a pure process. Of course, massive amounts of man power and time (often much more time than live action) are needed to make it happen, but in it's purest sense, it lives on a piece of paper. Less tools, less middle men, less technology and much more a translation of a dream.

this is my favorite studio  logo....

this is my favorite studio  logo....



Only Lovers Left Alive....

The most remarkable thing about Jim Jarmusch's modern vampire movie (the only non-Japanese movie I've seen all month) was the way in which street landscapes where represented. The nighttime photography from a moving vehicle, of Detroit, created an authentic awareness and respect of space. Similarly but with equal contrast, Tangiers was an opium infused hallucination, one that was a throwback to expressionist soundstage production design and mis-en-scene. 

Using what amounted to a spotlight as the car moved through the night was an interesting choice and certainly one born out of necessity. You could rather keep the scene very dark, or with a light on a moving vehicle, do what in essence, wedding videographers do with those small LED lights attached to a camera. Of course, this is not as simple, but that's probably what was going on.

On a Hollywood Production, the whole street would have to be lit to mimic the "feeling" of nighttime by making sure everything damn thing was completely visible and exposed "the right way".  Of course this is a generalization, but If you've ever scene a large production take up a block on Hollywood Blvd, or Downtown LA, you are keenly aware of the fact that enough amps are used to light up Kabul for a week.

The other peculiar thing I found about this movie is Jarmusch's subtle disdain of the internet and it's culture of accessibility. Most artist dealing with the enormous digitization of the world probably feel nostalgic about the old days, whereby we couldn't find every image ever created on Youtube or Tumblr. 

Memory is but a memory. But memory is often more beautiful then the real thing.

digital all the way baby!

digital all the way baby!