Friday, July 31, 2009

1254 - It's Always Sunny in Philidephia: season 1 & 2

A buddy of mine loaned me this and the first two seasons come in a set so I didn't really pay attention to where the seasons split. I suppose it's when DeVito joined the cast.
This is a really funny show that doesn't apologize for a damn thing. Don't watch it if you're easily offended, but if you're a fan off wonderfully inappropriate jokes, storylines and characters than this is the show for you. I look forward to more of it and hope that it continues to stay fresh!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1253 - Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

It's been awhile since I've read any of the books and so my mind has nicely forgotten large chunks - which helps from getting annoyed with choices of what's cut out and why. The problem with this film is that it was just... underwhelming. There was no sense of joy, fear, longing. I think they wanted that from us but practically everything in the film feels quite unmotivated. Of course I'll see the last two, but this could be my least favorite of the series thus far.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TUWOPS: Auditions: Day One

First day of auditions. Finally! We had to cancel our auditions about two weeks ago because of some issues with the actor’s union, but that’s all been resolved and we’re moving full steam ahead. We’re also in the midst of locking down a bunch of key locations. Our first day of principal photography is set to be August 23rd and things are shaping up nicely.

So today we looked at people for Lisa, Hayley, and Harold. Our casting directors, Sara Kay and Jenny Lewis, are ninjas. I’ve done enough auditions over the years to know that you’re always going to get the right person in the end, but you’ll have to weed through some sludge to get there. Today – zero sludge. Not even close. It probably helps that this if the first film in which I’ve actually used casting directors.

Auditions are a funny thing, you see so many great and talented people. Dozens for the same role, and you really want to contact the runner-ups afterwards just to let them know how great they were. I realize that professional actors realize what they’re up against odds-wise, still – it’s just really awesome to have a bunch of talented people come out and bust-ass for you. So to all you actors out there – it’s much appreciated.

Tomorrow’s auditions… more Lisa and Hayley – and Ray! Today we saw all the Harold’s that we’re going to see and there was a great selection of choices – so we’ll probably be deciding on that role within the next day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1252 - Stardust Memories

In the weeks leading up to shooting my feature I'm trying to surround myself with films that inspired me to be a filmmaker in the first place, and this is definitely one of them. Probably one of Woody's most under-watched, under-appreciated films. If you're a fan of Woody's and you haven't seen this film then you're not a true fan yet. There's a wonderful quality to it, like you're on the inside of this wonderful joke. The usual clever witty commentary along with some wonderful moments. This is a great film and I never tire of it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

TUWOPS: The casting (almost) begins…

We’re a little more than a month away from principal photography and things are gearing up nicely. I think I’m always going to have this little nagging feeling like there’s something else I can or should be doing. Yesterday I got my production binder started, which gave me great pleasure. I don’t know why, but I really really enjoy buying office supplies and organizing things. And I feel better knowing that I’ll always have all the information I need by my side while running around and doing all of the other things that need to be done. Later this afternoon we’re doing a little bit of location scouting for two of our more important locations. Of our fifteen day shoot we’re in different locations almost every day, so there’s a lot of places to find.
The other main element that’s finally getting underway is the casting. I’m proud to announce that we’ve cast two of our leads.
Kris Holden-Reid as Paul:

I’ve never worked with Kris before but I’ve enjoyed his work thus far. You may remember him from his role in the first season of The Tudors. He’s a solid force of an actor and has an amazing resume that will only grow. If this movie was Thanksgiving Dinner, Kris will be bringing the turkey to the table. We’re going to meet up next week and I’m very much looking forward to it.
The other cast member I’m proud to announce is Mary Krohnert as Sam:

I’ve known Mary for many years as both a friend and an actor. In fact it was due to my wife’s suggestion of looking at her for this part that I met her husband Anthony, the film’s producer. Over the years I’ve workshopped this script and held several public readings and Mary has always been a favorite. I couldn’t imagine making this film without her. If anything good comes out of this film, I hope it’s that Mary gets recognized for the wonderful actor that she is.

So that’s it for now. Next week we’re in auditions so I’ll have more casting news to announce in the very near future.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1251 - Testees: season one

Finally watched this series. I'm not sure if this has been picked up for a second season or not. As a fan of Kenny Vs. Spenny, and all the way back to their film Pitch I was curious to see what Hotz would do with a narrative series. The answer isn't all that surprising.
I finally sat down to watch this to check out a few actors that we have in consideration for the feature, and on that side it was a real plus. There's some great talent on this show.
There's a lot of great laughs and some really clever bits, but I think that it's the kind of show that is great in small doses. I think they could probably get another season or two out of it and keep it fresh, but this isn't the kind of series that could or should go on forever. I think it was a nice test series for Kenny and he's got much greater things ahead of him still.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

1250 - Get Smart

I used to watch the series when I was a kid when it was in syndication. I even remember tapping the made for TV movie Get Smart Again! I don't think there's a better choice to play Max than Steve Carell, and who doesn't like Anne Hatheway - if you're thinking she's too young, don't worry - 'cause the filmmakers thought of that too ;-) But seriously, Anne has a long long career ahead of her. The girl can do anything - broad action comedy like this, and she can carry emotional indies by herself too. She's a forcee of nature and I look forward to whatever else she's got coming up.
Lots of really great laugh-out-loud moments. Simple plot, but on laughs. Really glad that this film turned out well - more than happy to see another outing if they've got one as good as this up their sleeves!

Friday, July 17, 2009

TUWOPS: Slowly But Surely

It’s been awhile since I updated. Sadly we didn’t make as much progress this week as I would have liked. A misunderstanding with the actor’s union caused us to have to delay our first round of auditions, which was completely and utterly heart wrenching, especially after having seen who our casting directors had lined up for us to see. All I can do is hope that the same actors are available when we resume, which should be shortly.

In lieu of that I’ve been doing some preliminary location scouting. We’re getting a great deal of our locations already for free, or very cheap, so there’s only a few that we really need to secure. Bookstore(s), film set (in a studio), Pool Hall, Some houses, and a loft. The nice thing about living in a city like Toronto is that there’s no shortage of great locations to shoot at – which is helpful when you need to group locations together on specific days.

Starting next week I should be able to get some work started with our production designer. One of our characters is an author, and another a filmmaker so we need to make some books and posters, or at least start designing them since the finished product might take awhile to make. The one big plus I have going into this feature is that the key crew is made up of people I’ve been working with for some time now, in the case of my D.O.P. it’s nearing on ten years. He and I spent years doing documentaries together and he’s shot everything I’ve ever directed (except my shorts I made while in film school). The last piece I made with this team can be seen by clicking the following link: Hoff's New Direction

Hope you enjoy the film. Looking forward to reporting more progress ASAP. If there’s anything specific you’d like to know feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’d be more than happy to answer anything that I’m able to!

1249 - Wristcutters: A Love Story

I remember watching the trailer for this years ago and being really intrigued and jealous of such a simple, clever premise. I'm not longer jealous. They've taken what's a goldmine of possibilities and seem to be happy with having found a few minor flakes in their pan.
This film, at 88 minutes, was sluggish. The plot is pretty much non-existent, and the storytelling spends way too much time just trying to be quirky to lead us anywhere nearly as interesting as the initial premise.
I really really REALLY wanted to like this film, but it just wasn't the case. Sadly I can't even really recommend this. I didn't hate this film, I just can't think of anything that makes it worth passing along. Which upsets me. Alas.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

1248 - The Big Picture

I actually had a hard time finding an image for this film. I needed a distraction while waiting for e-mails and phone calls to come in today, so I decided to watch something I hadn't seen and remembered this film I bought years ago in a discount bin. It's an early film from Christopher Guest, and the good news is that Guest, like a fine wine, got better with age. This isn't a bad film, but it's dated for sure. Picture an 80's version of Entourage, with a twinge of satire. Teri Hatcher has fantastic 80's hair here, almost as big as the music.
It's worth seeing if you like Guest, and especially if you like movies about filmmaking, but you might not be in on the satire if you don't have a little knowledge about the process.

TUWOPS: Prep Begins!

This has been a busy week. Luckily I have time to focus on all of this. We still have another meeting to confirm our application for our actor union, but in the mean time we’re moving full steam ahead. We’ve been going over lists of actors that our casting directors have put together and getting ready to move as soon as we can. Certain parts we’ll be offering roles to and the others we’ll be auditioning. For the offers it’s considered good form to write a personal letter to the actor you’re offering the role to and so I’ve been working away on that.

We’ve got roughly twenty-five roles to cast, all of varying ages and types, which we could start doing as early as next week. The process involved is that you write up something called a break-down, which includes the character name, age, gender, and if it’s important – race. Then a description of the character – at least enough information to help an actor prepare. The break-down goes out to agents and they send it to whatever actors they believe would be good for the roles. Another thing you need to send out is something called ‘sides’ which are sample scenes from the film. For smaller roles you probably only have and need one scene. For leads or supporting characters 5-7 pages of script, and at least two contrasting scenes are ideal.

Based on our tentative shooting schedule we’re just under six weeks away from production. A lot of our key-crew has been hired, but we’re still missing some people that I’ll feel a lot more comfortable once we have. The next big thing to start doing is location scouting, which I’m going to start focusing on… now…

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

1247 - A Complete History of My Sexual Failures

I saw the trailer for this a while back and forgot about it until I stumbled upon it. Due to it's similarity to the film I have in pre-production right now I had to watch is ASAP. And now I'm relieved since there's quite a few gaping differences. There's some nice stuff here, lovely moments, and some hilarious with brutal honesty. In the end it's just a good film that could have been a great one. As the film moves along you start to understand why his exes dumped him eventually - you kind of want to as an audience member as well. In the end I don't quite feel like he's learned anything or changed in any significant way, and I suppose that's okay, it's a documentary after all - but because of his success (which maybe short-lived) you'd like to think he's earned it.
I think it's definitly worth checking out. Glad I did.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Just as a notice for future reference I’ll be titling the entrees about the film with the abbreviation “TUWOPS”.

So after long last I think it’s safe to announce that I’ll be directing my first feature film “The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard” in the very near future. Specific dates are yet to be decided as we move through casting and deal with availability. But it will be sooner rather than later.

So where are we now? Well, in Canada when you make a low-budget film and want to use union actors there’s a process you have to go through to be able to get them at a very low rate. It’s tremendously helpful in terms of your budget, but alas there is the process. It means that the union has to approve of your schedule, budget, etc… In reality it’s all towards helping you and making sure you don’t take advantage of their actors, making sure you can realistically make the film in the time and for the money that you say you can.

So we’ve got two fantastic casting directors standing by and ready to go. We just came from a meeting with the actor’s union and have a week to get a few extra things, and also re-look at our schedule, and then next week we meet again and should hopefully get approved and then we can start the casting process right away, which will dictate when we shoot. I’ll save all that fun stuff for another entry.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

1245 - Definitely, Maybe

I HEART Isla. It's not just cause she's a red-head and TOTALLY my type. It's because there's this energy inside of her. I'd pretty much watch anything just because she's in it. And I'm a big fan of Mr. Ryan Reynolds. I've had my eye on this film for a while as it tells a similar story to something I have in development. Thankfully there's nothing to worry about. Overall, despite the great cast, save one that I just kinda-can't stand (but refuse to mention), this film was just kinda 'meh'. It was like it couldn't pick a tone or decide what it really want to be. And the ending just kind of dragged a bit. Not a horrible film by any means, but not something I think you just HAVE to see. See it if it looks interesting to you, but for my money there's a whole buttload of better rom-coms out there.