Tag Archives: Slamdance Film Festival

“Not Forgotten” night at the Mann’s Chinese!

Friday night was the Hollywood premiere of my new movie “Not Forgotten” at the Mann’s Chinese and let me tell ya, it rocked! We had an awesome audience, great food and drinks at the after party at The Grill, and best of all, the movie played to packed houses all weekend long. Yay!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #1

No official word on what that means for future distribution plans, but according to the fine folks at BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Not Forgotten” did manage to beat the pants off heavy-hitters like “17 Again”, “Hannah Montana” and even “Wolverine” (again!) on a per screen average, so, I’d say we kicked ass!

Also, I just found out that we will be moving to the Mann Beverly Center 13 on Friday, so, if you missed us last week at the Chinese, check us out this weekend at the Beverly Center by clicking here.

In the meantime, back to the premiere! After mingling with the cast and crew in the lobby, I walked the press line outside the theatre for a few pics and then Christine and I headed upstairs to our sweet-ass leather seats in the VIP section. Yep, I said leather seats, amigos. Honestly, I didn’t even know the Mann’s had a VIP section, but it was awesome.

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #2

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #3

The funniest thing was that Christine and I — who have both seen the movie a gazillion times — were completely freaked out by the kidnapping stuff this time around. I know it sounds crazy, but we both kept looking at each other like: “Should we call home just to make sure Greta wasn’t taken by Santa Muerte?” Wow, I guess that’s what being a parent is all about, huh? Weird…

Without giving too much away, all I can say is that if any of that spooky shit ever happens to my daughter…I might just go “mental” too. Yikes!

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Immediately following the screening there was a super cool party just around the corner at the swanky Hollywood Grill. In keeping with the Tex-Mex setting of the movie, the food was all Mexican — right down to the never-ending bottles of Corona with lime! — and though the chicken tostadas were kinda weird, the carne asada was out-of-this-world fantastic. My brother, Ryan, and I went back for that like, three times. Awesome!

Of course, the company was even better. Although neither Simon Baker or Paz Vega could make the premiere — she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant and lives in Spain, and Simon is supposedly filming a movie in Australia, although he appeared on both “Regis & Kelly” and “Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night, so, who knows? — the rest of mi buen amigos from the supporting cast were there in spades and we had a blast.

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And though there were several cool celebrity sightings — Marion Ross from “Happy Days” came with her son, Jim Meskimen, who is the nicest guy in the world, even if he plays a child molester in our movie! — my favorite had to be Oscar-nominee and 70’s icon, Karen Black.

Miss Black was supposed to appear in an AFI student film of mine, “The Lone Star Letters”, way back in the day and I had always wanted to meet her in person. So, when I saw her noshing on tacos near the bar, I stumbled over. Being the geek that I am, I started with: “Are you Karen Black?” Lame…I know, but I was completely starstruck.

She was beyond cool and of course had no memory of my nerdy student film or why she couldn’t appear in it, but really, who cared at that point…I mean, I was talking about my movie with Karen-freaking-Black, how cool and totally Hollywood is that? Crazy!

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Anyway, we all stayed way too late and drank and ate way too much, but, wow, what a party! Thanks to everyone who came to the premiere to party down with us and most of all to those of you who went out and actually paid to see “Not Forgotten” on it’s opening weekend in Los Angeles. My Aunt Linda and Uncle George actually drove down from the Fresno area to see the movie on Sunday afternoon. Wow!

So, thanks again for all the “Not Forgotten” love, amigos. You guys rock!!

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15th Annual Slamdance Film Festival

As you know, I am a total film festival geek, so when I heard back in December that a movie I co-wrote and associate produced was going to be screened at a fancy “name” film festival like Slamdance, well…I was kinda blown away.

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And after spending five plus days in Park City, Utah enjoying both Slamdance and her larger sister festival, Sundance, I can tell you without a doubt that we were in the right place. I mean, sure, Sundance has a higher profile and a rich history of launching the careers of some pretty talented filmmakers, but twenty-five years in, Sundance is just too big for its own good.

I mean, their box office looked like Disneyland or something, big, impersonal and totally corporate. The movies were still great, but for the most part, they featured big stars in low-budget commercial movies that mostly already had distribution of some sort. I swear to God, for most of those movies, screening at Sundance is more like a marketing tool, a cool logo they could splash on their posters and DVD’s to move some product.

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That’s not a bad thing, mind you, but that is not what Sundance used to be. Luckily for us, there’s Slamdance! Started fifteen years ago just up the hill from the fancy, movie-star-packed venues of Sundance, Slamdance set out to be the anti-Sundance in every sense of the word. Ironically, what it has become in the past few years is what Sundance used to be…a truly independent film festival.

For instance, Slamdance only features films by first time filmmakers with a budget of below $1million. Since our budget on “Not Forgotten” was considerably higher, we were not allowed to screen in competition but rather as one of several “Special Screenings” playing throughout the festival.

But the biggest difference between the two festivals is the people. Sundance, as I said above, is big and staffed with scads of chic, Hollywood phonies. Sorry, but it is. Unless you were a big star (or Paris Hilton, who got the freaking mega-star treatment!) the people at Sundance treated you like shit.

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Except, of course, for the super cool folks at the Queer Lounge, who rocked! Run by GLAAD, the Queer Lounge was one of the only all-admittance hangouts on Main Street, and man, was that place cool. Fake grass on the ground, giant fake mango trees overhead and all the free flavored Absolut vodka you could drink…whew…we loved that place. Thanks, GLAAD!

But, trust me, the Queer Lounge was the exception to the rule at Sundance. The rest of the Sundance lounges and clubs were impossible to get into and the people at the door, yikes…crazy mean!

Slamdance, on the other hand, was staffed with the coolest, funkiest folks you’ve ever shared a Jagermeister/Pom shot with. Seriously, these guys ruled! Totally down-to-earth, friendly as all hell, and completely devoid of any shred of pretension, these are the folks you wanna celebrate indie film with, baby!

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They remembered our names, hyped our movie to anyone within earshot, and treated our entire “Not Forgotten” crew like rock star royalty the entire time we were there. Hell, a bunch of them even sat in on my Screenwriting Fireside Chat just to support me and the other writers on the panel! How cool is that?!

So, for all those reasons and more — did I mention the Filmmaker’s Lounge with free-flowing booze from 5-7PM each night? Awesome! — Slamdance totally lived up to every childhood notion of what I thought a film festival should be. Hanging out with cool writers, composers, directors, actors, hell, even just the bad ass film geeks in the audience…there was a genuine sense of community there that I haven’t experienced since film school.

And seriously…what else could you ask for in a film festival? It was amazing, and my post-Slamdance super cold aside, I had a freaking blast. So, muchas gracias, Slamdance. Hope to see y’all again real soon!

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Oscar Nominees 2009

Came home from Slamdance with a wicked cold, so, forgive me ahead of time if I don’t over-analyze this year’s Oscar nominees. It’s not that I’m not excited about them — because there are some really cool movies in the running this year –but having slept on the couch last night to avoid getting Christine sick, I am definitely not at my finest.

That said, if I had to describe this year’s crop of nominees in two words, I would call 2009 the year of the working actor. And with longtime journeyman actors like Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Tarija P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and even Josh Brolin (“Milk”) for that matter, all scoring first-time nominations, the acting categories have never been stronger.

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Sure, some big stars snuck in there as well — Sean Penn for “Milk”, Meryl Streep for “Doubt”, Robert Downey Jr. for “Tropic Thunder” and the Oscar “it” couple du jour, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt scoring nods for their work in “Changeling” and “Benjamin Button” respectively. But the big story today is all about the old-school character actors.

And how refreshing is that? I mean, shit, Richard Jenkins has wracked up a whopping 82 onscreen credits since 1974, Leo has 78, Langella has 77, and Josh Brolin has been in 42 movies since his memorable debut in “The Goonies”. So, congrats to the “old-timers” of all ages…you guys have served your time and are totally due for some major gold!

Also surprised to see Kate Winslet nominated in the Best Actress category for her searing performance in “The Reader”. Till now, her “Reader” role has been relegated to the Best Supporting Actress category, with her role in “Revolutionary Road” taking the higher honor. I have always thought she was much better in “The Reader”, so, glad to see her pick up a nod for that performance instead.

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Oh, and speaking of “Revolutionary Road” — which fared far worse in the nomination count than I think anyone expected — the biggest surprise for me was the Best Supporting Actor nomination for Michael Shannon. Playing the deeply-troubled grown son of Kathy Bates, Shannon ignites every scene he’s in. Seriously, “Road” would have been a hell of a lot more boring without him. Very, very happy to see him pick up his first Oscar nomination today. Yay!

And though I agree with most of the Adapted Screenplay nominations, I gotta tell ya, the Original Screenplay category is kind of crazy this year. I’m not saying any of these movies are bad, but, wow, even the most experienced Oscar prognosticator couldn’t have guessed that this bunch of scripts would pick up nods. I mean, we’ve only seen one of the nominated films in this category…and we see everything! Ha!

On the directing front, happy to see Danny Boyle pick up his first directing nomination for “Slumdog Millionaire” and even though I hated “Benjamin Button” — and hate even more the fact that it scored 13 nominations…yikes! — I do love me some David Fincher, so, kudos to him for finally making the cut!

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Also kind of shocked that the Academy bucked the award-season trend by not awarding “The Dark Knight” a nod for Best Picture — giving the “wild card” fifth slot to “The Reader” instead. I guess Christopher Nolan and company will have to settle for their raft of technical nominations to go with the expected posthumous Supporting Actor nomination for Heath Ledger.

And while I was sad to see “Rachel Getting Married” and “The Wrestler” fail to pick up nominations in the Original Screenplay and Best Original Song categories, I was very happy to see the actors from both films pick up some very deserving nominations. So, yay!

Below is a list of most of the nominees in most of the major categories, to see the full list of nominated films, click here. And, as always, love to hear what you guys think of this year’s nominees…so, comment away!

BEST PICTURE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“The Reader”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Ron Howard – “Frost/Nixon”

Gus Van Sant – “Milk”

Stephen Daldry – “The Reader”

Danny Boyle – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ACTOR

Richard Jenkins – “The Visitor”

Frank Langella – “Frost/Nixon”

Sean Penn – “Milk”

Brad Pitt – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Mickey Rourke – “The Wrestler”

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway – “Rachel Getting Married”

Angelina Jolie – “Changeling”

Melissa Leo – “Frozen River”

Meryl Streep – “Doubt”

Kate Winslet – “The Reader”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin – “Milk”

Robert Downey Jr. – “Tropic Thunder”

Philip Seymour Hoffman – “Doubt”

Heath Ledger – “The Dark Knight”

Michael Shannon – “Revolutionary Road”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – “Doubt”

Penélope Cruz – “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Viola Davis – “Doubt”

Taraji P. Henson – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Marisa Tomei – “The Wrestler”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Courtney Hunt – “Frozen River”

Mike Leigh – “Happy-Go-Lucky”

Martin McDonagh – “In Bruges”

Dustin Lance Black – “Milk”

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter – “WALL-E”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Roth and Robin Swicord – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

John Patrick Shanley – “Doubt”

Peter Morgan – “Frost/Nixon”

David Hare – “The Reader”

Simon Beaufoy – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“Bolt”

“Kung Fu Panda”

“WALL-E”

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Baader Meinhof Complex” – Germany

“The Class” – France

“Departures” – Japan

“Revanche” – Austria

“Waltz with Bashir” – Israel

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Alexandre Desplat

“Defiance” – James Newton Howard

“Milk” – Danny Elfman

“Slumdog Millionaire” – A.R. Rahman

“WALL-E” – Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Down to Earth” – “WALL-E”

“Jai Ho” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

“O Saya” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Changeling” – Tom Stern

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Claudio Miranda

“The Dark Knight” – Wally Pfister

“The Reader” – Chris Menges and Roger Deakins

“Slumdog Millionaire” – Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“Australia” – Catherine Martin

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Jacqueline West

“The Duchess” – Michael O’Connor

“Milk” – Danny Glicker

“Revolutionary Road” – Albert Wolsky

BEST ART DIRECTION

“Changeling”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“The Duchess”

“Revolutionary Road”

BEST MAKE-UP

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

BEST EDITING

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”

“Encounters at the End of the World”

“The Garden”

“Man on Wire”

“Trouble the Water”

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Slamdance or bust!

Hola, amigos! Just wanted to remind you guys that my movie “Not Forgotten” will be having its world premiere this Saturday night at the 15th Annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Hooray!

I’ll be staying at the posh Best Western in Coalville, which I hear is where all the big Hollywood stars bunk up. Not! But hey, hotels in Park City proper are expensive, yo! But seriously, if you’re thinking of coming out for the festival, the floor in my room in swinging Coalville is all yours, baby!

Slamdance!

Sadly, Christine will not be coming with me this time as she is what we call “very pregnant” and for some reason, the idea of riding on a plane to Utah and then trying not to slip and fall on snowy Main Street is not exactly appealing to her at the moment. Weird, huh?

Actually, I don’t blame her, I can’t tell you how many times I slipped and fell in snowy Santa Fe last year…yikes! Guess I’m more of a warm weather walker…or maybe I just shouldn’t wear my flip-flops in the snow…hmmm.

Anyway, if any of you are seriously considering making the trek to Park City for Slamdance (or Sundance for that matter!) you can purchase tickets to either the Saturday or Monday screening here. Also, there will be a filmmaker Q&A after both screenings, so if you’ve ever wanted to heckle me…now’s your chance.

And if you really wanna throw tomatoes my way, make sure and swing by the WGA-sponsored Screenwriter Fireside Chat on Tuesday the 20th at noon. Since most of America will be watching our first African-American President take the oath of office around that time I think the crowd at the Fireside Chat will be a little lean…so, you’ll be able to throw shit at me pretty easily. Yay!

Hope to see you there!

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“Not Forgotten” to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival

Found out earlier today, just hours before a rocking cast and crew screening at Raleigh Studios, that my movie “Not Forgotten” will have it’s world premiere at this January’s Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Yay!

Long considered sort of the spunky, younger sibling of the Sundance Film Festival — which is also held in Park City every January — Slamdance has come into it’s own in the past couple of years and is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year with all sorts of special events and screenings.

"Not Forgotten" movie poster #2

And, as luck would have it, “Not Forgotten” is going to premiere at one of those special screenings on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. As you probably know by now, the movie stars Simon Baker (“The Mentalist”), Paz Vega (“Spanglish” and the upcoming “The Spirit”), Claire Forlani (“Meet Joe Black”), Chloe Moretz (“Dirty Sexy Money”), Ken Davitian (“Borat”) and a slew of other cool actors. I’m not sure who all is coming out for the premiere, but it should be fun!

Christine and I haven’t started making travel plans yet — still kind of reeling from the shock of it all, I guess — but I will be attending the Festival for sure. In fact, I’ve already agreed to speak at a Screenwriting Fireside Chat sponsored by the WGA’s Indie Film Department, on January 20th at noon. Crazy, huh? I guess no one else was available to speak that day…ha!

Sadly, Christine might not be able to fly out for the Festival — she will be well into her third trimester by then, so, our doctor may put the kibosh on travel plans — but I will be there in my snowy weather finest. So, if you happen to be in Utah in January, come on down to Slamdance, amigos!

To see a full list of the movies screening at Slamdance this year, click here. And if you wanna check out the groovy new “Not Forgotten” website, click here.

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