Tag Film

Aurochs and Angels

I saw a beautiful movie this weekend, Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s completely emotional and magical and I recommend getting to a theater if you can find it playing and seeing it. Set in the disappearing Louisiana bayou and told from the perspective of an six year old girl. She’s living with her father in a doomed shanty town that they call The Bathtub. It’s an incredible story, but the geography is real and so are the consequences for the people who live there.

Here is a short documentary about the Isle de Jean Charles. It’s worth a look.

The movie has a very imaginative and homemade quality about it. It stars community actors and was shot on 16mm film, it’s the work of American director Benh Zeitlin. If you’re curious you can watch his short film Glory at Sea, it shares a lot of the magical elements and themes of Beasts.

Short Film Helena

A few weeks after I got home to Montana my friend Vincent Ma told me about his short film project. He’s an NYU film student I met years ago on another short film project here in Montana. Now he’s living in Helena and has been boxing at the club in Eagle’s Lounge and thought it would make the perfect setting for his thesis project.

He introduced me to local soon-to-be-pro boxer Ariel Beck, who he was considering for the lead. She had never acted for a camera before so the three of us worked on screen tests. She was serious and eager and after a few hours workshop we we’re both agreeing that she would be great.

I was able to meet with her one more time, along with another Helena boxer, Duran Caferro Jr., for another performance coaching workshop before filming began. It was entirely fun, energizing and exciting work.

The shoot is all done now, here is the article from Sunday’s paper about it all. There is even a brief mention of the acting coach. Hey, that’s me!

Check out Vincent’s Vimeo page for great footage from recent fights.

The White Shadow

Early Hitchcock Film Found In New Zealand

Film preservationists say they’ve found the first half of The White Shadow, the earliest known surviving feature film on which Hitchcock has a credit.

The first three reels of the six-reel film made in 1923 were discovered by the National Film Preservation Foundation at the New Zealand Film Archive.

Thanks Mom for the link!


Dougy and Ralpho

In the summer of 1995 I spent two weeks in Red Lodge, Montana with my friend Kurt and our families filming a movie. I was Dougy and Kurt was Ralpho, we were the school yard bullies in a feature called Amanda. This week I watched it for the first time.


Amanda stars Kiran Culken who plays a Montanan and a pipsqueak, Biddle Farnsworth, who starts to go blind in one eye after falling from a horse. That is, until he meets Seven, a magical black blacksmith and his horse Amanda, a massive (18 hands) animal who may be an angel. Seven forges Biddle a pair of magic metal eyeglasses that improve his vision.

Kurt sent me some of his recollections of the time:

I definitely remember our production assistant, Michael who smoked all the time. I remember that we ate in a separate tent from the “extras” and had catered hot food where they had only sandwiches. I remember the problems with recording my line that I spoke in that scene, far away from you and the boom, and they had to wire me with a mike which kept malfunctioning. I remember Kieran and playing video games next to Macauley in our hotel. I remember how our moms were sitting talking with this woman about how stressful it was to be a stage mother, and then an assistant came over and said, “Mrs. Culkin, they’re ready for you.”


The whole experience was incredible and overwhelming in all the best ways, but for all these years, if ever the subject came up, the story ended with a big question mark because the movie was never released in the US.

Thanks go to my brother-in-law for finding the DVD. After hearing the stories my sister* and I had about the filming he refused to believe that it was still unavailable on video. After a quick search he found it for sale from this reputable online store.  Easy as that. *You can see Sara in  pink dress waking away from Jenny in the outside scene.

I’m thinking of trying that hairstyle on again though, I think it suits me.

The Projectionist

Here’s a short film my good friend Gene Alexander put together way back when I was living on Aotearoa, that other island. Gene and I worked together at the Paramount, a great movie theater downtown Wellington. We filmed this over a few weekends and off-work evenings. Unfortunately I  was in Helena before the project was done, that left Gene and his editor without much to work with. “It reads more like a trailer,” Gene wrote in an e-mail to me.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Those Old Machines

Watching this again brought me right back to my last weeks in Wellington. The projectors at the Paramount were so much fun to work with. We we’re the only theater in town that could run reel to reel, so just like the old days you had to watch for the “cigarette burns” to que to for a changeover. (I never heard another projectionist call them cigarette burns, always “que dots” or “changeovers”.) A changeover takes place when you fire up the second projector just as the reel of film on the first runs out. The projectionist’s goal is making as smooth a transition as possible, no gaps, no overlaps.