Here is the lastest video I made for Punch just got picked by by The Hairpin. Also, it’s based on a previous series of storytelling videos I used to make. Also, I am really enamoured with the writer/actress/comedian/STAR! Sasheer Zamata who is SO FUNNY and really great at the nuanced levels of story within story.
Hopes you like.
Have you guys read this New York Magazine article about Patrice O’Neil? It’s pretty incredible.
So here is the trailer for The Exquisite Corpse Project a film I co-wrote with my friends from Olde English. The premise is pretty straight forward: Ben Popik, the director picked 5 writers and had all of them write 1/5th of a feature. But the catch was that after the first writer (me!) wrote the first 15 pages and the next writer could only see that last 5 pages, and so on and so forth.
The results are interesting and at times really inspired, but what I think makes it a beautiful piece of work is the interweaving doc about the process. It really gets to the core of what it’s like to make something and collaborate, which first and foremost is what film is. I’m currently finishing my first feature (How to Follow Strangers) as a writer/director and at times it feels like all you get are lumps. Trying to balance egos and expectations, make something true and honest while still engaging the audience can be a brutal process. And if you don’t step back every now and again to remember at the beginning, there was a childlike wonderment and desire to play with people who inspire you, it may not make sense why you keep taking it in the butt.
Unless you like taking it up the butt, in which case, more power to you.
When I was in college I remember staying up all night and reading the Robert Rodriguez book Rebel without a Crew, and it was really inspiring. To have the ability to make a movie with little money and be really self reliant was something I could totally get behind. Also, at the time I was in film school being inundated with auteur theory so feeling solely responsible for something had a certain narcissistic charm to it. So much so, that it took me years to realize how much harm I was doing to myself as a creative person.
See when you make something by yourself, there is a tacit thrill of knowing you are the maker of your own destiny. Which is great! And it’s fantastic to learn the technical skills to make something all the way through. But what I also found was that my work was increasingly becoming harder to make. I was tired a lot. And began to feel frustrated whenever I had a new project to undertake. And at the end of the day, when I’d finish something, I’d be so exhausted by the process, making a concerted effort to put it out there seemed both self centered and frankly, too much trouble. I was having a one on one conversation from me, right back to myself.
A few years after doing this sort of uphill battle, I went on a trip to Mexico and met an expat there. Somehow we started talking about work and the creative process, and he mentioned that when he graduated from Cooper Union, the keynote speaker (a famous painter who’s name I forget) told them the secret to success as an artist. So immediately I was hooked. I said: “what is it?!” And he replied, “it’s so simple, you probably won’t take it seriously.” And he was totally right. But I’ll pass it along anyway: Read the rest of this entry »
A few years ago I worked as an editor on a tour documentary about Sting with Anthony Mathilde, a fantastically talented filmmaker. We used to have this philosophical split about how to structure the information; Anthony preferred to have tour docs play out chronologically, whereas I am more inclined to let narrative structure the order of the film. Both have merits, and considering how many tour docs Anthony had made (one for David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Genesis respectively) his ideology won out. Also, he was the director, so you know, there’s that.
Cut to a few year later when I was making my own tour doc about TV on the Radio, I decided to try out the theory that I had. Recently, we had a preview screening and I was able to show Anthony my doc, and in essence, continue our conversation about how we like to make films. I don’t necessarily think ours was an argument that can be won1 but to challenge each other by trying new things was a really exciting revelation.
I recently read a fantastic New York Magazine article about Louis CK, who is one of my favorite comedians, and an inspiration as a filmmaker. He talked openly about disliking the crazy fast paced style of 30 Rock. And his show reflects his aversion. He was quick to point out that while he admires the talent of Tina Fey, it’s just not for him, which is democratic but also pretty cool when you get to the root of that statement: Rather than just complain about why something sucks and how it should be a different way, he just made his version different. Now, I like both of those shows, but I LOVE how there is this sort of tacit conversation that comes about simply by making things. Read the rest of this entry »
The above video is Broad City’s season finale. I’ve mentioned how much I like the show a bunch and I wanted to highlight it for one key reason: These Bitches WORK! 36 Videos in less than a YEAR! Grinding! It’s great that they are so funny, but I’m almost inclined to believe that with that kind of dedication, it’d be impossible for them not to.
There’s this part in the Steve Martin book “Born Standing Up” (a must read) where he talks about how there was a period of his career where he could work different rooms for like 8 hours a DAY! Which is absurd. But also great in that it allowed him to try new things all the time, and to work out the kinks of being a novice performer quickly. He also mentioned this one idea that I think is amazing:
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Not all pieces have to work for everyone. Moreover challenging the form leads to major innovations. Arrested Development in a lot of ways is a fuck you/love letter to the network sitcom. It embraced a single camera style that both aided the jokes, and on a practical level helped to dictate what the comedy would be (turning away from three camera shows of the past). Right now I’m super inspired by things like Eric Andre’s teaser for his new show (above) or the video for I am your Grandma, which are both contain classic comedy structure, but are also fucking crazy. When I think of work I really gravitate towards, like Etger Keret short stories or that Dogwalker book by Arthur Bradford, they feel like people trying really hard to express themselves without copying other things. I like that. My favorite thing I’ve written so far is this short story about a guy who falls in love with a talking hot dog because it’s a silly idea that I felt got pushed to the hilt, AND it really expressed what I felt without talking about that stuff directly. I think it’s the most honest thing I’ve made and my goal is to do more things like that.
So when thinking about what the goals of my comedy would be, the first thing that popped into my head was to make people feel more human, and maybe even deeper, to make people feel good.
When my mom was sick with cancer, I remember going to the video store a lot, and constantly trying to find things to bring home that wouldn’t be a total bummer to an already bad situation. And what surprised me was this: in the grand scheme of things, most movies are depressing. Or mean. Or scary. There are very few that are actually interested in making people feel better. Read the rest of this entry »