Friday, July 29, 2005


Rick Sherman, pal from NYC and BookWars days, taught me once in his scattered apartment on Houston Street, how to do Powerthought.

It's a kind of magic, and I don'tbelieve in magic, but I started doing it again and it has its place.

Closest I can call it is a kind of creative that I strated doing it again, things are going OK

[Cause or Effect?]

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Running Around in Front of the 8 Ball

Just coming back from looking at computers,need to get a Windows machine to edit the new NGO job. With my savings from teaching,and the rest of the advancemoney, I'll have just enough to squeak by with a decent machine.

Still moving forward onSusan Hero, which I'll continue to edit on my old Mac laptop (keyboard dying too).

Thus,I'll have two dedicatedmachines for each project.

Am pitching a couple more projects, incl oneabout UXO (unexploded ordinance) and the devastating effects on the local populace -- who often seek and harvest these deadly items for 500 Riel a kilo just for the metal! Sometimes they use the explosivesinside for fishing, actually.

Below, see pix from one ofmy local playmates, Ritsa!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Stills from the Shoot / Leap of Faith

Quickly, before I forget; here is a link to the production stills from our recent shoot up NOrth in Ratanakiri province:

Now, I want to let you all know I have just made a momentous decision while eating a prawnburger for lunch; I have decided to quit my remaining teaching job and focus 100% on this NGO doc and Susan Hero.

** That is, I'm taking the Kierkegaardian leap of faith back into ONLY making movies again **

I can't help it: my inner voice told me very strongly to do it, and by the time I finished the prawnburger, I knew what I had to do...

Three cheers for Kierkegaard!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Back from Ratanakiri / A striking dream

Back after a week in the forest of Northern Cambodia, working on the doc about indigenous land issues.

Listening to Black Sabbath here in my modest lair/office and regrouping: although Phnom Penh is a small, laid back town compared to New York --which is to my liking -- it's a whirring metropolis compared to Ban Lung, the provincial capital up North and biggest town in reach of the indigenous villages we'd been exploring.

Thus, I go from a Tampuan village with pigs,. gourds, and old ladies with sagging tits, to the comfort of my Phnom Penh lair where I now peck, deal with SPAM and some important emails, and assess cash flow for finishing this project.

Also, now once again cutting Susan Hero, which I'm chipping away at as best I can given the continually changing circumstances of life here.

[will post pix from the Ratankiri shoot soon; needto update my system software first ]

Before leaving though, had a striking dream about my (long deceased) father which I must relate before moving into any tales related to the recent journey to the jungle.

I'll relate it here in capsule form, before telling of the trip to Ratanakiri.

Also might elaborate further on this and other things in "HURRICANE", the unedited diary of the making of Susan Hero.


Let me preface this all by saying that I've only dreamt of my Dad a couple times since he died back in 1976, when I was 8. Thelast time was back in New Mexico, while I was clawing away at trying to get the production for Susan Hero off the ground: another extremely trying and grim time.

Anyway, the present. The dream. I was a kid still, I think, and I was with my sister (I think)and some other vague family members, although I don't know who exactly.

We were walking towards a 1970's style station wagon, and I could see the sillouette of someone sitting inthe driver's seat.

"Do you want to see Dad?" someone asked.

I shook my head. No, I didn't I was afraid.

Nevertheless, I was lead over to the car, drawing nearer, and I was trembling as we approached.

Finally I arrived at the car, and I could see him inside, not dead, not a corpse (as I had feared), but "frozen" as ifa freeze frame in a movie. His hair was grey, he looked older, unfamiliar, but I knew if was him.

He began to move, as if my prescence activtaed him, broke him from his stillness.

He picked up his old Super 8 camera -- the very camera I first used to make my early movies, the camera I'd found tucked away on top of his shelf after he'd died-- and started to shoot very carefully through the windshield, then slowly panned around the interior of the car.

Finally, he put down the camera and began to look around as if he were trying to find something in the back seat, something nearby which he'd lost.

Instantly, I found myself standing in front of him, next to the car.

He was trying to say something to me, but the words came out as only unarticualted sounds. His tongue, for some reason, was black (*before I had this dream I'd read a book by Dan Brown which mentioned a murdered Pope whose tongue was black from being poisoned)

"Hmmm, hmmm, mmmuah, haummm...."

He said, reaching toward me as if to comfort me, to pat my head. I knew he was trying to comfort me, though I couldn't understand what he was saying.

In the dream, I dropped to the ground paralyzed by the weight of the moment and the overwhelming experience of seeing him again up close.

I was crying in the dream, dumb, unable to respond to him, overloaded, gushing.

I woke to the darkness of my room in Phnom Penh, the Mondulkiri wood bed, the slowly whirling ceiling fan.

Then and there, too, as the impact of the dream sunk in, I burst into tears uncontrollably, just sobbing and weeping uncontrollably for a long time.

I went to the bathroom to take a piss. I looked in the mirror, and the dream, like scales, gradually shed itself from me.

And I went back to bed.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Anatomy of a Scene

Check out some frame grabs from one of the tougher scenes cut so far, and it's still only rough since I haven't added the material of Dr. Morell on the road [EXT Car shots] Seen below are grabs of 1) Dr. Morell (played by Dr. alan Rice) shaving just after arriving in New Mexico 2) shots of Javier Appollinaire (jaime Estrada) and Susan Hendricks (Drea Pressley) at work in the Meadowlark Movie House. Also pictured is Sanghpop Elpee, Susan's boss (played by Carlos Cabarcas)

In this scene, Susan decidesto call Dr. Morell for the first time. Although his ad indicates he works with livestock for ranchers and horsebreeders, he is also now offering his cloning services to bereaved pet owners...which is why Susan, diatraught after the recent loss of her daughter, decides to call him.

Javier can only listen in as Elpee, her overbearning boss, homes in and disconnects the call:

"We can't make calls on company time..."

Susan flips out and soon thereafter she does something quite impulsive which causes her to flee the theater--but she runs into Javier on the way out, and in her rush has dropped her keys... (see both stills)

Anyway, this one was quite a puzzle to put together, but it's working now and will be even smoother once Morell's exterior car driving shots are online.

Coughing today, still rainy, back teaching although it feels very old now that I'm hired to make a doc for pay.

You are now leaving...the toughest year of your life

Not much more I can say. And I am not being melodramatic. Nor am I a rich guy from Connecticut with a hidden trust fund.

I'm a guy who was reduced to a bowl of PHO a day as I slowly, trickingly, watched my money run out, after a year of unspeakable trials and tribulations trying to get my second feature off the ground. [read the physical, unrated diary, HURRICANE, to get a better idea]

The grave economy in New Mexico led me to take the last desperate gamble: already reduced to Food Stamps, with my money almost gone, and screwed over by Rainbow Media and Kelly Devine to the tune of $2500, I decided to take a chance and come to Asia mainly to get some teaching experience, so that my skill set (already too narrow: film and TV? C'mon) might become more marketable.

This followed months of looking for work in New mexico where the employers all agreed that "we can't hire anyone with the war goin' on and all"

Nearly simultaneously do I get greenllit for the NGO doc (commissioned), but I FINALLY, after a full year of trying, get my back benefits (a mere $500) from NY State...but to give you an idea of how desperate I was, I was literally begging them to send the money.

Also, and more ass-kickingly: the road movie, my second feature Susan Hero finally has some momentum, astonishingly of all places here in Cambodia where I have scraped together a rudimentary editing system with pirated software, all I could afford (sorry software owners, I will send you the money later if I make it big I promise - really)

So now I catch myself each and every day, pinching myself to wonder why I am not so neurotic as I was back in the US, in New York, in New Mexico, where I was not getting laid, and the rent was big and always due...yet I am here in a place I never would have expected where life is moving forward again [knock on wood ]

Here here!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

==> Rainy Season <==

Rainy season has begun; yesterday on my way back from PTC computers with some new memory for my laptop and a power brick (backup power), some of the streets were flooded to the tailpipe of my motodriver's machine...certain streets we had to turn back, or take wheezing, wayward sloshing loops through streets on higher ground.

Am now burnt out and flu-ish. Taught a lot these past few days, been meaning to quit one or more of the gigs but had to wait to make sure they all panned out an became "solid" with the new terms. Anyway, I have one particulalry huge class (over 50 students) , at the end of the day, and by the time I was teaching that class yesterday I was feeling detached, dizzy...once when I turned too quickly to point to the board, I saw a quick star flash across my vision.

At one point I had to lean on the desk to remain standing without wobbling, and I did this as casually as possible. In the end, I played the tape a lot and let them do primarily listening exercises.

The very last class of the day, with only 8 students, was a relief after this. Also, there's an intriguing girl in that class who gave me a ride home once, I'd like to get to know her better.

Her name:(I sh*t you not) Cherry Tang, of Chinese descent

Today, since I'm having a sub cover for me at school, I'll throw a couple more hours at Susan Hero before taking on the evening classes--if I can hold up alright. The new memory helps, and the program cuts more quickly and the mahcine is more responsive.

Monday, July 04, 2005

+Jesus Christos+

Came across a lost page of the Bible today, it fluttered down form the Tamarind tree...

Felt like the ultimate loser yesterday, very doubtful about everything. What am I doing here? Then again, I have a place to live and a working space, whereas I was at one point reduced to living on foodstamps in New Mexico (read about it in HURRICANE) Here, I have steady work ---too much work, albeit it teaching--here in Cambodia, and I was just barely scraping by in New Mexico...also in New York.

Go figure. Just some passing doubts, but as the Bard says, doubts can be our traitors in the end.

More editing, I throw hours at the movie as best I can. Susan Hero is finally cooking. Nice sequences, also figured out a workaround re: the 32K ->48K audio problem.

I know who I am and what I'm doing, but I don't know if I can explain it. To everyone else, the moves don't quite make sense. When the picture's done though, looking back, everyone will slap me on the back and comment on how great everything worked out.

Til then, I'm invisible, a shadow.

Hope to have a solid cut to submit to Sundance in October, definitely achieveable.