Archive for the ‘video’ Category

We’re gonna riot, we’re gonna say our shit

July 18, 2013

I don’t have a sign for this, but I do have songs – one old, one new, both signs of the times. Reading the comments on my news24 column made me wonder how 10 racists could take over a conversation on a column recommended by 60 people. So I sought comfort.

In Godessa’s “Social Ills” It’s late-90s, early 200s Cape Town awesome. “Knowledge of self is personal wealth we need to question ourselves / And kick pink panther mickey mouse snouts with big mouths Below their motherf***ing belts (that’s what I’m saying!)” Take a listen

And then there’s Pussy Riot – a band you can’t destroy because anyone is in it. No matter who you imprison, there will be more women who think Putin is a doos – not much better than Russia’s communist oppressors.
Watch it here.

Yes, that's a real oil rig.

Yes, that’s a real oil rig.

Putin’s latest video just seems like a joke by comparison. Propoganda…

What is she building in there…? A speedrail slider!

November 28, 2012

I have a confession. I should have been a guy. My best memories of my dad from when I was a kid are all about the smell of sawdust. He tended to be stressed and grumpy in that garage, but he let me help, he taught me how to use a circle saw and a screwdriver and fit things together, and he bought me my first and only set of power-tools (they were stolen out of a friend’s garage when I stored them there after my 2nd big breakup.) He also made me my first crib, my first rocking chair, my double bed, my pencil case and various salt bowels – all out of cherry pine. I always think of him when I smell sawdust. And he’s not even dead.

He recently helped me improve on an Indymogul build for a rain machine, which I used in a movie. It worked out really well, and I thought of him a lot as I woke up this morning and set about making my own slider / speedrail for a directing project I have to shoot and edit by next week (or one of my personal heroes, Prof. Martha Coolidge is gonna give me her disappointed-in-you look. I don’t want that to happen.)

I know there are better, and quieter ways, to build a slider. I went this way because I wanted swivel wheels on the cart, so that when I need to do circular movements I can make that happen with just a flat surface or maybe a circle slider, if I can figure out how to build one. No luck so far finding something that curves and could act as track.

Thanks to Pete Vanderpluym for stapling the rail (cheap plastic edging from Home Depot) to the pine planks (also home depot) as well as for recessing and drilling a bolt hole and making me some starter-screw-holes. I secured the rest with duct tape and then screwed it together once I’d tested the placing, using a leatherman. The whole thing could have been done with hand tools… I just skipped that pain cause I could.

Oil is the world’s heroin

June 20, 2012

Ya, you knew that already. And I love my car as much as the next man, so I’m not pointing fingers here. The thing is, there are other ways to fuel your car, to get you that great coffee you need, and to keep your computer running.

As you can see, most of the oil is used for getting around. This mostly means moving goods around. In our import-export economy, transport of goods, people and information drives oil consumption. This would explain the black grime that coats my balcony in California, where the air is relatively clean by US standards. Image source:

I recently discovered an organisation called Fuel Freedom which focuses on alternative energy sources, rather than lifestyle changes. This is probably a smart move – Americans don’t want to stop using a plastic spoon every time they stir their coffee. Some fellow-students and I made a #psa video (that’s public service announcement) for their campaign. It’s kinda fun, and only 1 minute long. Take a look.


Personally? I think America should stop disposing of everything. What’s so hard about washing cups, Starbucks? Why must every motel guest throw away their plate, cup, spoon and water glass in the morning? It’s ridiculous, how personal “health” and convenience needs have created a sense of entitlement, to destroy the world while going on about freedom and the children and saving the animals. By which they mean the plague of poodles and other small, cute, useless dogs that pet stores have unleashed upon the planet. And don’t even get me started on smokers who toss their butts no matter where they are. I have ended relationships for less. You may as well piss on my bathroom floor… (but don’t) because one day I’ll be swimming in the sea and one of those things will float past me.

I haven’t forgotten Ken Saro-Wiwa, who Shell’s lawyers had murdered by the Nigerian Government for the crime of protecting his people from big oil. Big oil will kill. And it will keep killing, in Afganistan, in Iran (coming soon to a TV near you, now featuring Israel as America’s bitch) and in probably in Egypt.

All I wish is that I’d had a couple of extra days to work on the music for my film. It’s kinda rushed and the deadline was firm: The 18th.

Working with animals

September 27, 2011

The poster I made, next to a real one on the dog park bulletin board.

Working with animals is a lot harder than it looks. And it’s not something they bother to teach us at Chapman, for some unknowable reason. Probably financial. So I decided to give it a shot early in my career. The result was a short film my production teacher didn’t like very much, for good reasons, but that I still think is sort of fun – and not bad for 12 hours’ work – writing, casting, shooting and editing. Take that, 48-hr Film Festival!

Thanks to all that helped out. Especially Daisy the dog, Vinny the actor and dog wrangler, Anirudh the cinematographer and Megan, the actress, who came all the way from LA to star.

For those interested in filmmaking, here’s how the dog made things trickier than they would have been with a human star.

1. She had to be enclosed and on a leash at all times as she isn’t a stunt dog or trained to sit and stay. This meant we had to shoot in the doggy park – otherwise she could have run into the street.
2. She isn’t used to playing with strange dogs, so she was nervous.
3. I didn’t know her before the shoot, but she bonded with me first. So it was hard to make her bond with the actress.
4. It all took so long that we couldn’t move locations to the more ideal place to shoot the scene where she sees the poster. I wanted to make it a different place. Shooting in the doggy park also made the dog being lost at all seem much less plausible.
5. Dogs drool, put hair all over you and have to be taken care of. It’s hard to direct when your first priority is not the actor, or the cine, or even the shotlist, but this slightly helpless hairy creature who doesn’t speak English. Have a handler on set – this stuff is not suitable for student skeleton crews.

Still, I’m not sorry I tried.

PS. Mom if you’re reading this and you want to watch the video you should click the play button (it’s a triangular thing in the middle of the video thing in the page). And I love you.

Next, Please

May 18, 2011

I’m switching to a directing emphasis in my MFA, while continuing with screenwriting too. So almost double the workload for me, which I’m gonna love. And this also made me a lot more nervous at the screening of this project. I felt people would be sneering at me: “She sucks. What is she thinking?!” I finally understand why my director friends don’t enjoy going to their screenings. When it’s up there massive on a movie screen with real sound, every flaw is obvious. And the good stuff looks so much more incredibly good… except when the movie is a porn movie. Then it’s just gross. Nothing grosser than a pubic pimple the size of your head. This isn’t, though. A pubic pimple. Or porn.

Compression, or my monitor, has made this all look woefully pink. It looked a lot better playing from blu-ray full size. And the my credit is missing. Something happened on the cutting room floor / buggy lab! Anyhow, the music is all from, who are amazing.

I learned a lot making this film: about actors, about working with editors, about stress, about directing, about cinematographers, about the people in my team for this project – Alex, Dan, John and Kennedy. We literally laughed and cried. Or at least, I did. And not only when I had PMT.

The result of all this tears and trauma? Four minutes. A fun little piece about a teenage girl who goes to get birth control, and encounters a really weird guy in the waiting room… With Matt Green, Claire Gordon-Harper and Dalia Perla, cinematography by John Nodorft, edited by Dan McDonald. I wrote and directed this for my Production II 16mm 3-2-1 project (3 pages, 2 characters, 1 location).

Cemeteries of the soul – behind garage doors

December 5, 2010

Garages are the attic of a man’s world. While the photos of you when you were a kid, the first drawing of a dysfunctional / smiling family in front of a house, the blonde doll you alternately loved and tortured and your dead puppy’s collar might end up in Mom’s attic, Dad has his own cemetery of the soul.

Garages have always fascinated me. I shot my first production exercise in one. It’s full of mistakes (I’ll never zoom again as long as I live, I swear). But I still love it.

Here, dreams and pride gather dust. Stuff that might belong to many people, dumped there for safekeeping and never collected. If you ask to borrow something from garage, the answer will almost always be “yes”, and quite often becomes: “As long as you never bring it back.” In South Africa, an organisation I wrote about called Men at the Side of the Road raised funds partly by clearing out people’s garages and re-purposing their junk.

And I’ve never been in a garage you couldn’t write a movie about. Happily for me, we were shooting Sarah’s 789 (that’s Dodge-speak for “five minute short”) in an actor’s garage last night, after mine turned out to have no electrical plug for the lights.

A shovel. A ladder. Some unidentifiable stuff. Mattresses? And wait... what is that?

Ronald Reagan signed photo

It's a signed photograph of Ronald Reagan. The president who called a 1988 strike on Iranian ships "Operation Praying Mantis". He was one creepy guy. And look who all's in the background!

And this cat. Loved enough to have its portrait taken and framed. But now the picture's on the floor behind a mattrass, gathering grime. Who was Kitty Cat?

Take 5, Shovel. Starring Dan McDonald, Daphne Karpel and Will Kasson.

Being American seems to involve owning copious amounts of American flags, which go all over the place. On matches. Above the creepy crawly spare pipe. On cupboards, cars, post boxes, doors... Above a box of golf clubs that don't seem to have made it out onto the green for a while.

Speed, freaks and the thrill of the chase

November 11, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action! Kink! Hot rods! Babes! Elephants! Oscars! Five out of seven ain’t bad.

Shopping for this shit was a mission. Then I still had to sit and sew stuff. The result? Relatively convincing, for a student production. Mrs Bleach, I finally found a use for all the stuff you taught me, although I have to inform you that your washing of my mouth out with soap for swearing was a 100% fucking failure.

It’s the same, every week. I arrive in production class sure that this time I’ve gotten this damn film-making thing right. Usually a couple of people have had a look and given me feedback, which I’ve then implemented in the edit. I’ve tried to avoid the mistakes I made in the past, like making my own puppets, zooming, appearing naked in my own videos or taking instructions literally.

For the chase sequence assignment, I even got real people to act. Vanessa Wolf (a theatre student at Chapman) has quite a lot of experience on films. Whatever’s wrong with my work is nothing to do with her.

Jennifer Wolf is great to work with. I hope she'll let me use her for something again. For the final shot, I said I wanted it to be funny and porno, and asked her to play it straight. And she did it perfectly - without losing dignity.

Ed Moore, a second year director who has helped me more than once before, put me on to her. Then Josh Sheets (yes, his real name) has done some acting and modeling here and there. I met him at the sort-of-wrap-party for Wilt. I thank the power of tequila for the fact that I thought he needed to star in one of my films and asked for his number. Remind me: Who said drugs were bad?

Anyhow, it’s short, but we had under two hours to shoot it and chases are heavy on set-ups, particularly at night when you need to light stuff. Those who’ve wanted to see my car: it is in the movie.

Twisted – Jean Barker
Fixed version – updated 5.28pm on Nov 12.

Apart from directing my own chase, in which I only kind of appear (as the driver of my own Mustang, Sally) I also agreed to act in quite a few. I starred as a Concerned Citizen, A Thief, and a Large Breasted Woman. In the two where I have to run, it’s kinda scary just how much bouncing goes on. This has made me realise I need to lose a few pounds. Not for health reasons – my BMI is fine – but because I’m vain. Why lie about it?

The assignment was different from class to class. In most classes only directing and cine students needed to do the chase, and shot it on 16mm. But in ours we were all made to do it, though the writers, producers and other floozies of film were only required to shoot on digital. This means I’ll probably post another story with the directors’ and cine’s work, as their stuff’s mostly still at Kodak. The videos I appear in have not been posted online… yet.


Andrew Kappel – Jerkins
A cute, sweet, sad, cringe-inducing film about a pre-teen looking for somewhere private to get intimate with a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. John Nodorft – a cine, and someone I hope I get to work with more – shot this one for him. The kid is pretty much a professional actor.

John Nodorft – Mondays are Hell
John shot this awesome battle between the devil and Jesus in both digital and on film. I’ll post the film cut next week. My favourite bit is the last shot… A little behind the scenes info: both actors were extremely hung over. I know this because we were all at the same pre-halloween Halloween party the night before.

Bowling. Not for Columbine*. Just for fun.

November 9, 2010

… in which an alien goes bowling, breaks her In & Out cherry, and hears the sound of music.

This Japanese poster for The Big Lebowski is just... I don't even want to know what the title became.

Considering The Big Lebowski is one of the top 10 reasons I am becoming a screenwriter, and considering the fact that Cape Town is in truth very, very close to Parow, it’s surprising that I do not know how to bowl. I think I went, once, as part of someone’s birthday party, but all I remember about it was how much the birthday girl’s brother complained about driving to Parow the whole way through. I was dating the annoying, self-centred brother. Apologies for stating the obvious.

I got a ride with a girl in my class, Sarah, who has been nice to me. She’s also cool in an odd way my friends back home would like – the kind of person who could make driving a motorised tricycle seem stylish, but isn’t pretentious enough to do it. We we went cruising down the boulevard through 23.5 identical suburbs, past 789 identical 8-store markets, passing Disneyland’s nightly fireworks display and on. I’m not surprised onse babe Charlize Theron feels at home in California. It’s really very much like her native Benoni – just with fewer guns and better Mexican food. The GPS didn’t know which side of the road the bowling alley was on, but as it turned out, that wasn’t really a problem.

This sign is one of only 56,000,8998,99766 signs in the U.S.A. that is visible to the naked eye from space. The alien schools already hold compulsory early morning bowling classes in the belief that it will "help them blend in". Now you know.

We were out in Anaheim because one of the students who came from New York wound up living out there, thinking “eight miles from school isn’t far.” And because the beer was supposedly cheaper.

Americans have a newspaper for everything. For instance, Adult Daipers Monthly, which is printed on recycled disposible adult daipers. (Not really, but that'd be cool.)

It’s B.Y.O. socks for the next bit, where you hire a pair of shoes for $3.25 and pay 5 bucks to bowl. Or you order a pint of Newcastle and watch other people. That’s what I did. I have been having one of those weeks where stuff lands on your head all the time, and you fall all the time. If I wasn’t driving, I sure as hell wasn’t going to be handling balls that weigh more than my head.

I'm not sure I understand the need for the giant rear view mirror. I for one do not want to see my own ass on the way out.

At about midnight, we ended up at In and Out Burger. I’ve been trying to avoid this discovery, as their food is clearly addictive. Now I have tried it, I think about it three times a day. When I grow up, I want to be an In and Out Burger Dealer, although I’m not sure whether or not I’d be keen to sleep with In an Out Burger ‘ho’s. It’s not delicious because it’s packed with healthy goodness. In and Out is basically everything McDonalds wants to be, but isn’t. It’s like McDonalds that doesn’t have McD’s signature “faint whiff of garbage truck”.

Then it was back to the Bowling Alley, and the bar had closed.

The sign on the right says "Popcorn only in the bar". I guess the popcorn must be the free bar snack.

See now, in South Africa, when the bar closes, everyone bails. Often drunk drives, but if not, shares taxis, or whatever. In America… they start singing the songs from Musicals, apparently. Or maybe it’s just the film school students I hang out with.

Sarah wouldn't let me take a picture where she wasn't pulling a face.

I don’t know any songs from Musicals. They’re kinda big here. I guess a lot of them are from here.

Anyhow, they sang for hours, and then when everyone was sober, and only then, we left. Not that anyone got particularly drunk in the first place. I was impressed, and amused.

Driving back to American and British rock ‘n roll classics on the radio, I realised one of the very powerful things about American culture: That musicals and rock ‘n roll and pop radio hits are part of shared folk culture here. I suspect would be unimaginable, in America, to grow up with parents who couldn’t sing you a Doors song, or were vague about who Billy Holiday or Fleetwood Mac or Nina Simone might be.

I wonder what the South African equivalent is. Miriam Makeba, perhaps, or oh no, no. Not Shosholoza? I love being from a place with many questions, with no clear answers, that could still become anything it wants to. But sometimes, from far away, it’s hard to grasp and impossible to hold onto.

* Wiki says: The film title originates from the story of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold – the two students responsible for the Columbine High School massacre – attended a school bowling class early that morning, at 6:00 a.m., before they committed the attacks at school starting at 11:19 a.m. Later investigation showed that this was based on mistaken recollections, and Glenn Moore of the Golden Police Department concluded that they were absent from school on the day of the attack.[4]

I haven't seen The Sound of Music. But I've heard the whole thing now.

I see dreaming people – part III

October 27, 2010

Patrick Bosworth’s video, in which I starred as both a girl crying and a hat with hands, is now live here… I can’t get it to embed properly. But here is the facebook link – take a look. It’s made on the camera I want to buy, which costs much less than it would in South Africa… or, as I see it, the same as the average social smoker spends on cigarettes in a year. Or 20 takeout meals.
You might need to be his friend to watch the video – try though

Many other great ones. But I’m just going to stick to the ones I can embed. So only YouTube… pity vimeo insists on failing to embed on wordpress, and facebook (which people use for privacy reasons, even though they’re signing over rights when they do) is hopeless too.

So that’s just one or two.

Wendy Tzeng’s dream sequence
Wendy was the first person I spoke to at a social event at Chapman – during Dodge College’s various Mixer events. Mixers are parties where you kind of speed date, but without the sex. Usually.

Bethany Burr’s dream sequence
A late addition – some classes did things in a different order. Easily one of the best though. Bethany is  a screenwriter. She and her boyfriend work as a team, with him editing. Gorgeous photography too, by Oliver. District is a bar in Chapman. Popular with undergrads and people who sleep with them.

And previous installments in this series:
i see dreaming people II
i have a dream… you don’t wanna know

I see dreaming people… II

October 21, 2010

Want to see the stupidest, funniest Halloween prank video EVER? Here it is. Thanks, Donte. That expanded my consciousness – downwards – and I really enjoyed it.

Halloween: It’s about to happen, but it’s already been upstaged by the stuff produced by my fellow students with their Dream Sequence videos. Which is something to say, considering how very seriously Americans take Halloween.

This skull, posted in the window of a mommy-wagon - opens and closes its mouth. Just after I took this photo a family of five plump, cornfed Americans rocked up, and stared at me as if I was crazy, before climbing into the car.

After seeing what my classmates dream about I’ve realised I’m really not NEARLY as weird as I always assume. Also take a look at the previous dream sequence post with my film in it, if you missed it and you want to see me naked. Sort of.

John Nordorft – The Errand
The guy has a taste for gore, and this movie made me want to go out and buy condoms.
Vimeo’s dumbass embed code doesn’t work here

Jason Baumgardner – Half Awake

I also really liked Angelica Robinson’s, which may not be posted as it contains nudity and I suspect she’s agreed not to make it public. But it was one of my favourites, easily.

Sarah Marples – Stop
No prizes for guessing why this pretty much moved me to tears. Sarah is a screenwriter like me, and we help each other out on shoots. Actually she’s acted in two of mine as well as helping shoot others.

Andre Kappel – The Dream
He’s a production student. This is more atmospheric than narrative, but very beautiful.

The promised post from the shoot that I helped out on isn’t ready yet, but I will blog that in part III then.

For now, I have things to do, and nowhere else to go tonight. I’ll be finishing some work, and then figuring out how to dress up as a giant broccoli for Halloween, which those of us who are committed to shooting over halloween are celebrating a week early, tomorrow… and then again twice on Friday. Cause “…every day should be Halloween”. Or is that “Mother’s Day”? I forget how the saying goes.