12 October 2009

Finally Watch Our Award-Winning Film!

TUMBLER: the boom is now online for your viewing pleasure:

08 October 2009

Watch Me On YouTube!

Justice Productions, the team behind the Project Twenty1 Audience Award and Best Marketing Award-winning film The Journal's Paragon, created podcasts throughout the entire production process to give viewers an inside look at the world of low budget filmmaking. They carried on this tradition throughout the festival weekend, and were kind enough to interview the TUMBLER teams during Saturday night's Shorts & Shots event. You can watch the entire podcast below, but if you're lazy and want to skip straight to us, then you should fast forward it to the 6:20 mark. But really, you should watch the whole thing.

It must be said that the Justice Productions team were the most spirited, positive, and all-around good natured group I've yet encountered in my Project Twenty1 experiences. They wholeheartedly supported their colleagues and the other films playing at the festival; I don't think they missed a showing, and if they did, it was because they were attending a workshop. They put us to shame with their enthusiasm, and I hope they continue to make great films in the near and far future.

Thanks for your support, guys. I hope we can return the favor soon.

07 October 2009

"I've got nothing."

The trailer for Zombieland didn't look very promising to me, but a bevy of good reviews from sources I normally trust and/or can gauge fairly well led me to see the film. It was a Monday night, I needed something lightweight, and The Invention of Lying didn't have any major cameos people were salivating to spoil. Zombieland it was. It proved to be disappointingly mediocre. It's far too good natured and easygoing to be called "bad," but I felt a keen frustration throughout; there is so much potential in the set-up and characters, yet all it ends up being is a lackluster road movie where everyone learns a goddamn lesson. For a film that frequently espouses its tagline, "Nut up or shut up," Zombieland has a notable lack of balls. I should have known to consult with the dourly incisive crew at Slant before popping off to the theater.

Zombieland is easily distinguishable from other zombie movies because of its notable lack of zombies. Except for the opening credits, a few strays who pop up to demonstrate the lead character's rules for survival (a promising bit swiped from The Zombie Survival Guide that isn't explored near enough), and the ending, where zombies are required so the heroes can save the haven't-been-dumb-yet-but-now-are-for-some-reason damsels in distress, the undead remain curiously at the corners of the film's world. They are never a threat, and at a certain point we realize that the characters will make it through unscathed, so there is no tension, no scares, no sense of horror underlying the uninspired comedy. We never feel that anything is at stake (how can there be when everyone has unlimited ammo, except when the script requires otherwise?), and so don't become drawn to the characters.

The characters also don't really carry around any of the problems that a person in a post-apocalyptic environment would have. Rather, they're beset with tired tropes straight out of the screenwriter's handbook: Jesse Eisenberg has to learn how to man up and be a hero (conquering a forced and tacked-on phobia of clowns in the process), while Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin's con artists must overcome their paranoia toward their fellow humans. It all ends pretty much how you expect it to. Woody Harrelson's ass kicker holds the potential to be more interesting, but he's the one person who doesn't get a lengthy, unnecessary flashback to his pre-zombie life (save for a few flashes that don't build his character so much as beg you to love him). On second thought, maybe that's why he's the person I most liked hanging out with.

It's all performed with enough competence and zest that we hope the characters reach their expected conclusions. The movie probably plays best in an audience packed with the sort of nerds who can readily identify with Eisenberg's character and delight in Harrelson's antics (yes, I am normally that type of nerd), or on a lazy hangover weekend when you stumble across it while clicking channels. Otherwise? Go back to Shaun of the Dead.

I've deliberately resisted writing about the one truly inspired scene until the end of this review, so all of you who want to avoid SPOILERS should bail now, even though I won't reveal quite everything about it.

The highly vaunted cameo in the middle of the film was the only sequence that had me cracking up. Some of it, as Slant points out, is easy, lazy humor, but I laughed nonetheless, especially at the celebrity's brutally accidental dispatching at Eisenberg's nervous hands and the guiltless, shrugged off aftermath. It was gruesome, morbid, and utterly hysterical. It felt like a scene from another, better film, one that had a few more balls than Zombieland. Perhaps the inevitable sequel will follow through on its nutting up promise.

06 October 2009

"I've never been in this position before."

Those were the first words that popped into my mind when I stood before an audience of peers to accept an award, and so I said them. People seemed to laugh in a good way. I rattled off words of thanks to the cast of TUMBLER: the boom, Tony and Shirley Griffin (my most patient, honest, and incisive critics and fans), everyone in the room, and my parents. It wasn't until I was sitting down that I realized I had completely forgotten to thank my co-director and closest collaborator on the project, Chris Kapcia.

Hey, it was my first time.

Chris outside the P21 venue lookin' like a rock star. Sorry, Chris!

That's right, folks, we have returned from Philadelphia, where I finally received some form of validation as a screenwriter, because our film won the Best Writing award at Project Twenty1. Technically speaking, it was a tie between us and Keystone Jackal, but a win is a win, and I'll tout it regardless. Of course, it wasn't all me; if we hadn't received great feedback from our cast and friends, and if they hadn't improvised so well to fill in the bits between the voiceover and the written lines, the film would not be as good as it is. The award is truly a recognition of their talent as well.

Our sister film, TUMBLER: the echo, won for Best Music, which means that the competition's organizers will be shopping our creations to other festivals together, hopefully leading to further attention and accolades.

The remains of a cheesesteak dinner at Abner's.

Duly Noted also scored a win at Shorts and Shots, the Saturday night event held at the Marathon Grill. It was an informal event where filmmakers brought short films to screen while everyone drank and mingled, with the best film decided by audience applause. Chris and I received the honor, thanks in no small part to Tony's boisterous yelling and entreaties to the crowd.

We spent all weekend in Philadelphia and had a great time watching movies, hanging out, and meeting our colleagues. The theme music for Project Twenty1 is still firmly embedded in my mind, and I don't expect to shake it anytime soon. We're sorry to see it end, but we don't intend to rest on our laurels. Bring on the next challenge!

A brief time for reflection.