JAN. 30: It's a Wrap
Nuestro and Manda Bala (Send a Bullet). I particularly proud of
Tamara Podemski who played Miri Smallhill in our film Four Sheets to
the Wind who was given a special prize by the jury “for a fully
realized physical and emotional turn”. Tamara is one of those
performers who is so easy to edit because she gives so much in every
take. We’re all very proud of her!
For a full list of Sundance Award Winners,
Tamara Podemski at
the production of Four Sheets to the Wind. Please subscribe in
iTunes via my site to keep in the loop.
Jerry, to address your comment, we’re working to setup a special
article on this site about the technical workflow of Four Sheets to
To all of you who read this blog and supported Four Sheets to the
Wind. Thanks so much. Until next time.
Basically, when a film is shown at Sundance or other large-scale festivals, there are secret meeting places and greenrooms for the filmmakers and their cast (sometimes celebrity) to wait comfortably for the film to start. After you give many hugs and wait nervously, a theater staff member escorts you through an Entourage entrance into the theater for reserve seating. It’s pretty rad. Unless you watch movies at the Arclight in Hollywood or The Bridge, reserved seating can be hard to come by in movie theatres so I really enjoyed this special treatment. I must add that in every venue, the staff has been totally cool. They work hard to make the experience for all theatergoers a special one.
The film played really well, the Eccles was packed. Sterlin brought the actors and department heads to the stage for Q&A. Normally Sterlin gets a lot of questions about his inspiration or casting but today we had a large amount of comments, everyone shared how much the film meant to them. One woman in the audience said she had lost her father earlier in the year and wasn’t sure about seeing the film but something told her to go and she was moved by the experience.
Standing on stage, I felt really proud to be up their with our cast and crew. I could also see the faces of a lot of our crew in the crowd, my parents, and the audience. So wonderful. I also felt a special pride in knowing that I was standing on stage next to producer Ted Kroeber, a childhood friend. They say in film school that you’ll never make movies with your friends but it’s not necessarily true.
Sterlin told some great anecdotes at this screening, stuff about his family, and watching Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as a kid. Oh and I almost forgotÃ¢Â€Â¦ before the movie, Sterlin walked up on stage to address the crowd and asked everyone for a picture. The audience waved and Sterlin took a photo of our packed house.
After this screening, we’re done. We await the audiences’ votes and jury results for the competition. Christina, my folks, and I loaded K and R’s car, our generous hosts, and drove to Salt Lake City to catch a plane. We were so fortunate to have a wonderful place to stay in town, especially with family. (Thanks so much!)
At the airport, we all attempted to catch our flights however Salt Lake’s weather had other plans. My folks got rerouted and Christina and I ended up in some other airport with a massive shuttle trip. Our bags will follow us in a few days.
So now I’m back in L.A. without baggage. Still a few more blogs left to go. I want to answer your comments with some technical info about the film and keep you posted about the awards ceremonies from this weekend.
Cheers, and goodbye Sundance. It’s been an awesome ride.
Then Christina and I walked down to meet my parents for an afternoon screening of “For The Bible Tells Me So”. This documentary is a pragmatic look at the misquoted biblical rhetoric used by some biblical literalists to attack gays and minorities. One might think that a doc like this would be really inflammatory, but I just found it so straightforward and humanistic. Basically, a lot of folks quote certain passages of the bible, but when taken out of historical context and language review, they can be used to hurt others. The film follows families who have learned to love their gay children, ministers, and parents for who they are and not fear them for being different.
One of my favorite discussions in the film is where a theological expert reviews the use of “an abomination”. Many biblical literalists say that “homosexuality is an abomination”. Technically, the bible doesn’t literally say that but there is a passage that is quoted to represent that idea by some (I challenge readers to take a crack of actually finding that exact language in the old testament). The movie discusses the use of the word “abomination” in a historical context as the original text used to have a different meaning than we have today. It also points out that before and after are additional listings in the bible that aren’t ever quoted condemning shrimp eating and the wearing of wool with linen as abominations. Frankly, I know plenty of people who love eating shrimp and I don’t see anyone trying to write a constitutional amendment to stop them. (Wool and linen might be worth it though.) Unfortunately, this film might be preaching to the choir, but it’s a really pleasant film. My parents and Christina all enjoyed it and it’s message of love, family, and acceptance. Well edited and well directed, but due to the subject matter, it’s questionable if those who actually fear homosexuality will ever take the time to watch it.
I should also mention there was a short that played before by Jay Rosenblatt called “I Just Wanted to Be Somebody” which chronicles the life of Anita Bryant and the impact she had on gay culture. When you see those old 1970’s clips of her getting a pie in her face or preaching her fears (that simply aren’t based in any reality), you can’t help but laugh. Depending on your outlook on the topic of the film, you could see the ending as either tragic or justified as Bryant’s family life, career, and financial situation has crumbled into nothing. A well-told short story.
In the evening, our kind hosts here in Park City took us up to the Sundance resort for the fourth public screening of “Four Sheets to the Wind”. The Sundance resort is a 45+ minute drive from Park City so the generosity of our hosts is munificent.
The Sundance resort is gorgeous. It’s small, charming, and a great getaway from the bustling streets of Park City. The staff is really wonderful and the small theater inside reminds me of the screening rooms we used to watch dailies in during college. There’s an energy about the theater, many of Hollywood’s great storytellers have passed through that theater via the Sundance Labs and had the opportunity to find their artistic voices in a safe environment, nestled in the mountains. This particular screening of “Four Sheets to the Wind” was special because my parents saw it for the first time. Now, I’m sure they’re biased but based on their hugs and prideful responses; I’d say they loved the movie. I really enjoy having my folks come out for these events; they just immerse themselves into the festival and get to know everyone. I left my Dad alone for a moment and when I returned, he had befriended a film/television director from Singapore.
After the film, our projectionist Brad Jones went to grab some food with us at the resort’s deli. Brad is an old friend from film school, a fellow editor, and someone I called on numerous times during the editing of our film for advice. It was a wonderful surprise to find out that he was invited to project the films at Sundance. Again, Sundance is a special place.
We caught a taxi back to Park City and joined in at the Native Reception Party. This party rocked. Lots of people, great location, so much fun. My folks cut a rug on the dance floor and chatted with some of Hollywood’s up-and-comers.
Following the party, we shuttled to a Condo Party hosted by some filmmaking friends from Los Angeles. They had a screen and projection system setup in the living room to show films. We watched a few animations and shorts, one by Scott Land, Eric Kurland, and more. A great time.
Which brings me to my final through for the day. I love Sundance! I love the fact that in a period of a few short days, you can take a class, watch a controversial movie (or three), have discussions about things that are tough to talk about, experience cultures and worlds that you can’t experience except through the eyes of a filmmaker/ artists, eat and drink with your friends, and travel to remote beautiful locations. I love Sundance!
More to come.
early morning packed audience screening of my favorite film Four
Sheets to the Wind. The screening was at 8:30 am so the folks that
got up and made it out for the show are die hard cool. I’ve noticed
that every audience has a different vibe. It’s so interesting.
Sometimes crowds are big and excited, sometimes they listen more and
connect with the tears more than the laughs, and sometimes they crack
up hysterically at stuff you never thought would get big laughs.
It’s so great to hear folks enjoy the film. Afterwards, we heard
some awesome reactions from the crowd; people seem to really fall in
love with this movie. Audiences are compelled to hug our Writer/
Director Sterlin Harjo a lot after experiencing the film. I find
that so interesting, instead of a standard handshake of congrats, a
lot of folks really feel like they need to thank him from the heart
with a hug. I’m so proud to be a part of this film.
to a quick brunch at The Eating Establishment on Main Street.
Yummy! Ted has been working so hard that it was nice to just go and
hang out a little.
Christina and I jetted across town to a screening of George Ratliff’s
Joshua. A well-acted urban horror film starring Sam Rockwell, Vera
Farmiga, and Michael McKean. I loved its dark premise however I
thought the film lagged and could have been cut down a little more.
I find that a lot of my critique of films this year is in the
direction/editing. I had an instructor in college that used to say,
“You must be ruthless with you editing”. I’m down with slower pacing
in an edit if the story calls for it, but in general these Indy films
need to cut the fat.
After Joshua, Christina and I went to see (drum roll please) the
controversial film Hounddog starring Dakota Fanning, David Morse,
and Robin Wright Penn. So if you’re not keeping track, Hounddog
has received an incredible backlash from all sorts of religious
groups and political organizations for a rape scene involving
Fanning. Parent groups have called her Mother, Agent and Director
“irresponsible”. Charges had been threatened for depicting a minor
in a sex scene. Rumors had flown big enough that Sundance actually
had to facilitate a forum to discuss.
So here’s my rant/response to all of those “morality critics” who
haven’t seen the movie. Shut up! You have no idea what you’re
talking about unless you’ve seen the film; you’re also attacking rape
victims with your stupid press releases. (Most organization based
critics of the film state in press that they haven’t actually watched
the film). I mean please? The speculative criticism I’ve read going
into the movie is idiotic. Plus, this is a film about a rape victim
and has the potential to help young women find the courage to speak
out or heal. A very Christian thing, why would you condemn that
without watching the film? If you haven’t watched it, you’re not an
authority for speaking about it, so please step out of the ring, or
please continue and help those of us who enjoyed the film and think
it’s important to spread the word, so that more people can see it.
What is Hounddog really, from someone who’s actually seen the
film? It’s a tasteful, responsible, well-told story that needs to be
viewed and discussed. A stunning piece of filmmaking, admittedly
difficult to watch at certain points, but truly one of the best works
I’ve seen. The rape scene is horrific, but not because of someone
being irresponsible behind the scenes, or graphic (there’s nothing
shown really, it’s mainly audio); it’s horrific because no one wants
a child to face something as horrible as rape. This film opens a
great discussion about the topic of abuse and sexual crimes, one that
tends to get suppressed, as many young women are afraid to speak out
after such an attack.
Also I’m making a predictionÃ¢Â€Â¦ Dakota Fanning, Best Actress Nomination
2008 for her performance as Lewellen. There are actors many years
her senior who would never attempt a role this challenging. A
tremendous undertaking. So brilliant that a woman in the crowd
mentioned that she saw it earlier in the week and brought her 13 year
old daughter to see it a second time. Congrats to the filmmakers
behind this impressive film for having the guts to keep making it
after 10 years of rejection. (End rant)
Later we had a wonderful home cooked meal with our hosts in Park
City. My folks just flew in to catch some movies as well. In the
evening, we saw a late night showing of Zoe Cassavettes’ “Broken
English” starring Parker Posey and Drea de Matteo. Funny, charming,
great acting. Same critique as earlier, the film had some
unnecessary scenes that could be trimmed out.
On our ride home, the cab driver commented that a lot of folks have
been saying that the movies this year are really well acted, but
running too long. I guess I’m not the only one.
Tomorrow, more movies and excitement. Also, my parents are going to
check out our movie for the first time.
to the Wind. It’s interesting because every audience has a slightly
different vibe and audible experience. None-the-less, there seems to
be a consistant enjoyment of the movie. It’s such a beautiful little
story, but people have been really connecting big with the humanity
of it. The Q&A’s have gone really well and our audiences have been
audience. It was a huge honor to meet him and have him see our
work. In the end, he can love the movie or not, but the fact that
someone as respected as this person was there, totally made my day.
Afterwards, a bunch of cast and crew went out to dinner. It was the
kind of meal where you pull up a bunch of tables and make room for
everybody. So much fun to have a dinner with good people.
Finally, we went to a bunch of parties on Main Street. Made the
mistake of paying a cover charge at one place, but then we got into
the Miramax Party for Eagle vs. Shark. It was a ton of fun!
Now it’s 2am and we have a screening in a few hours so I’m off to
bed. G’night from Park City.
party. I woke up pretty ragged, a casualty of the whirlwind of this
crazy festival. However, today was a very special day, and no matter
how tired I felt, there was no way I could miss the World Premiere of
“Four Sheets to the Wind”.
I didn’t have tickets and production was giving them away to
potential buyers/press. My girlfriend Christina and I were able to
use our credentials to get back stage and then through a wait list
line for entry.
Let me tell you what an amazing experience it was today. It was a
full house at the 602-seat theater. I’ve seen the film hundreds of
times during the last 8 months, and I’ve seen it on the big screen,
but when you seen it for the first time with an audience that large,
it’s tremendous. People were laughing at subtle things, crying at
times that moved them. It’s part of what I love about going to the
movies, sharing a common emotional experience with a large group of
people, only in this case, the cast and crew that I was sitting with
made the movie. There was such an incredible energy in the room and
I was so proud of everyone’s hard work. I also felt so lucky that I
got to work with Sterlin Harjo on the film. As the end credits
rolled there was an explosion of applause. A dream come true.
Sterlin brought the cast up on stage for Q&A including Cody
Lightning, Tamara Podemski, Laura Bailey, Jon Proudstar, and Mike
Randelman. I’m so proud of the whole cast, everyone really did a
great job. For many, this was their first time seeing the film so I
imagine it was an interesting experience for them on a whole
Later in the afternoon, we went down to the HD House where Fred
Schroeder and I were signed up to give a talk. Sterlin stopped by to
support and joined us on stage. In the audience was the talented
Mike Randelman, Blair Kroeber, friends from Steele Films and more.
It was fun to talk about the process of shooting High Definition
23.98 (if anyone is interested in a highly technical blog post on
that, please let me know in the comments). We covered color
correction, post workflow, visual effects, and more. A lot of people
would never know it but we were able to take performances for
separate shots and combine the best one’s into a single shot using
the Avid Symphony Nitris system. They’re subtle but effective.
Afterwords, Casting Director Chris Friehofer joked with Fred and I
that he heard what we had said but didn’t understand a word of it. I
have to say that I’m so glad to have worked with Fred Schroeder on
the film. We’re both tech geeks which helps take pressure off the HD
side and put the focus back on the art. He’s an incredible DP and
did an amazing job on this film, for instance, he’s not afraid to
blow out the back windows on video the way Conrad Hall was doing back
in the 70’s. For those of you familiar with shooting HD, this is
really tricky to do and make it look good unless you’re an expert.
Those sequences are visually some of my favorite scenes in the film.
I also had the honor of meeting screenwriter/director John August
after our talk. He’s such a young guy and has written so many hit
After the HD House, my girlfriend Christina and I headed back the
house we’re staying to catch up on some zzzzs. Not a lot planned for
tomorrow except screening #2 and waiting for reviews. Cross your
how the audience brings their own subjective experience to the film.
that chronicles a love affair and obsessions of a guy named Judas.
Actually, my account doesn’t do it justice. Lask has the characters
from his book played out in the movie by both “the real people” and
“actors”. It’s hard to explain but intellectually, this one makes
you think. The film is double cast (cast well) and depending on the
scene or situation, you invest in the same story played out by actors
playing actors, or actors playing real people. There’s a certain
amount of surface relationship going on in the film, intentionally I
would assume, and so when the very intimate and real moments occur,
they’re moving. My only problem with the film rests in the
structure; I’m probably hypercritical as well since this film was
improvised a lot and so the structure of a film like this falls a
great deal on the editor and director. Overall, the audience really
seemed to love it; I may be in the minority on this one.
After that, I headed down to Main Street. I caught up with the
folks from Zannel.com, the HD House, and checked out the shops.
Celebrity sightings of the day would be Crispin Glover and Teri
Hatcher. Way cool! I’m sure I must have counted at least 25 camera
teams on the street and the traffic was blocked for miles. Probably
a great time to go skiing as everyone in the area seems to be off the
slopes and on Main Street.
Then we were off to a party hosted by Loyola Marymount University and
the All Roads Film Project from National Geographic. The food was
great, the wine was plentiful, the party had so much talented
industry; it was amazing. Caught up with a bunch of folks including
Producers Ted Kroeber, Chad Burris, and Effie Brown. Congrats to all
three for their various successes this year. Also present were Four
Sheets to the Wind stars Cody Lightning, Tamara Podemski, Laura
Bailey, Jon Proudstar, Mike Randleman, and Blair Kroeber. Directors
included the talented Sterlin Harjo and Aric Avelino. DPs on hand
were Frederick Schroeder & Igor Martinovic. It turned out to be one
of the classiest parties we’ve gone to so far.
After this we headed down to a reception for Asian Filmmakers at the
Panda Chinese Restaurant for some awesome food. We met up with a
couple of guys named “David” who chatted with us about all sorts of
films they’d seen. A recommendation was made to check out Nanking
and so we waitlisted and got in! For anyone heading up here in the
future, bring lots of water because waiting in lines and drinking at
parties quickly takes over into altitude sickness, so we chugged a
bunch of water and sat down to watch the movie.
Nanking is probably one of the best pieces of documentary I’ve ever
seen. It was beautifully crafted, heavily researched, and the
content is so stirring, it’s going to stick with me for a long time.
Basically, the film is about peace. Its recount is of the Japanese
invasion of China and a group of international citizens living in
Nanking who tried to create a safe zone to protect the innocent.
Imagine a small group of regular unarmed folks from around the world,
including Americans and Nazis of all things, working together and
standing up to armed guards to stop the rape and massacre of
thousands of innocent men, women, and children. They saved 250,000
people, the rest suffered horrific deaths, graphically retold by the
people who were there. The film contains interviews with children of
Nanking (now much older), soldiers from the Japanese invasion, and
the retelling of letters/journals played by a group of actors
including Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, Stephen Dorff, Sonny
Saito, and more. It’s difficult to put into words how powerful this
film was, hopefully it will be in a theater near you.
After we pulled ourselves together, we headed back to Main Street to
meet up with our cast and crew. We ended up at a Sundance Hosted
party in an Entertainment Weekly bar where I got a chance to meet
Oscar Winning Writer Jim Taylor (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election);
he’s a really nice guy, truly an honor.
After that we moved through the streets, went into several packed
bars and experienced the biggest after party out there. Park City
just doesn’t stop unless you decide it should, and so Christina and I
grabbed a cab ($10) and went back to our cozy housing. Pretty much
an incredible day.
Tomorrow, the World Premiere of Four Sheets to the Wind and I give
a talk at the HD House.
(one stop over in Vegas) yesterday. I lost some cash on the airport
slots; Christina made $23. On our star studded plane to Vegas was
everyone’s favorite reality personality Flavor Flav, Teller of Penn
and Teller, and we believe Dax Shepard who totally rocks, though it
could’ve been his “TV Movie” double. Dax? Care to comment?
in just for Sundance as the Bluetooth Headsets and logo’d swag were
abundant even at the airport in Vegas. We did a clichà© LA thing and
hit up the airport oxygen bar for a little R&R. Mmm, peppermint
On landing, we geared up for the new climate and altitude. The air
outside was crisp and snow salted the ground perfectly, slick ice on
the roads. Our loud shuttle bus antics during our drive into Park
City were led by the wild and crazy actress, Yvonne DeLaRosa of Benny Bliss and the Disciples of Greatness. We also got to chat to
the Key Makeup Department Head from Hounddog about the trials of
making a movie amidst controversy. Can’t wait to see it as it sounds
like an incredible film.
At one point the music was pumping, the vibe was fun, but then as we
slowed down to the sight of brake lights in front of us, I noticed
the whole bus get incredibly quiet. We suddenly came upon a horrible
car accident, the kind that makes your stomach turn as the rescue
workers tried to save a life in the middle of a highway. Instantly,
all of our movies and parties and adventures took second place to the
notion that life is short, and our time here is special. It was a
wonderful reminder to take time, smell the roses, and enjoy every
minute of this experienceÃ¢Â€Â¦ just as soon as I adjust to the altitude.
TomorrowÃ¢Â€Â¦ Movies, parties, celebrities, and more.
early to catch the flight in a few hours. Tickets? Check. Cell
phone? Check. Jackets, scarfs, hats, gloves? Ooo…I almost forgot
the gloves. Word is it’s freezing up there right now, last evening a
cool 4 degress F. For those of you in colder parts of the world,
that’s probably a perfectly normal reality, but the Los Angeles folks
are freezing!!! My plan is to make to the cold zone folks proud and
prove that not everyone from L.A. is fearful of the winter weather.
Stay tuned to see how it goes. In the meantime, thanks for your
comments and questions, I can’t wait to get up there and talk with
In the meantime, if you’re on the street here’s some cool people to
meet events to check outÃ¢Â€Â¦
mobile platform for content producers. If you have a band, or short
films, photos, whatever, you can create a Zannel channel for your
cellular. They say “Zannel” means Zillions of Channels. Really cool
Avid Technology ‘ I hear that Matt Fuery of the
bunch of folks from Avid are showing off some of the coolest gear
around. We used several inexpensive Avid Xpress Pro Systems and an
Avid Symphony Nitris HD suite to make “Four Sheets to the Wind” and
frankly, it’s the best editing system in the world. We saved so much
money in post; it was ridiculous. Be sure to meet up with the folks
at Avid and find out why Hollywood uses their stuff. You can also
hear an Avid Podcast I did on their website all about “Four Sheets to
this weekend. Crispen Glover, Hal Hartley, Robert Lynn, and yours
truly will be there. If you haven’t checked it out, RED Digital will
be a part of the presentation as well, expect to have your mind blown
by the resolution now possible on this cutting edge HD technology.
stuck in L.A. I imagine this would be a similar feeling that a kid
might feel on Christmas morning if they were forced to stay in their
room while their siblings ran out to open presents without them.
I’ve received several text messages and emails today from friends in
Park City. People are so supportive of our film, and I’m looking
forward to getting up there this weekend and participating in all the
fun. Things are a buzz.
Sundance! The big one! The anticipation is glorious. It’s
interesting because in television, I don’t think I’ve ever had this
experience, except during a live broadcast on “American Idol” several
years ago. I remember finishing the edit for a special segment on
the show while the episode was airing in New York. I output the reel
and ran downstairs to the control room where my video went live to
millions of people on the East Coast all at once. As the reel
played, for a moment, I held my breath, and when it was done, bliss.
Right now as filmmakers we’re all holding our breath, waiting to see
those wonderful films and waiting to see how the audience feels about
our films. Our hopes, our dreams, our sweat, and our passion are all
tied up in waiting.
Personally, I’m waiting for that first audience at the World Premiere
of “Four Sheets to the Wind” on Monday. I’m also waiting to check
out some short film work and give a talk at the HD House. There’s so
many features to see as well such as “On The Road With Judas”,
“Joshua”, “For the Bible Tells Me So”, and “Hounddog”. This year is
If you’re waiting to see something too, or have seen something and
you’d like to comment, please drop me a line. I’m going to try and
see as much as possible when I leave tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll
just be waiting.
Sundance Film Festival for the first time. It was a spur of the
moment trip. A bunch of crazy film students jumped into an SUV and
trekked up to Park City in a contentious 14-hour drive that tested
our friendships. Don’t get me wrong, the adventure was fun and the
people, well they’re still friends, but that drive was rough.
freezing in the snow as we attempted to find the best independent
film had to offer. None of us had passes, or tickets, or really even
a plan, just a willingness to learn from those who had gone before
us, and a curiosity about the cultural phenomenon that is Sundance.
Many years later, I’m returning to Sundance; this time, with a
movie! As the editor of the feature film Four Sheets to the Wind,
I’m on a mission to get as many people as possible to see our
beautiful film. I also have a bunch of tickets to this year’s lineup
of great movies, events, and experiences yet to come. My hope is to
share this day-to-day adventure with you and provide some insight on
the world’s #1 film festival: Sundance. Stay tuned!
Editor David Michael Maurer has a unique career starting in reality
television and expanding to feature films. His non-fiction work has
been seen on such shows as "Big Brother", "American Idol", and "The
Apprentice". Most recently David edited “Four Sheets To The Wind”, a
scripted feature film with a World Premiere at the Sundance Film
Festival 2007. David has two Emmy Nominations for “The Apprentice”
and he hosts a filmmaking podcast at
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