May 29, 2013

I THINK I DO (And Me!) On Public Radio's STUDIO 360

Over Memorial Day weekend, a story about my "Aha Moment" as a filmmaker aired on WNYC-FM's arts show STUDIO 360. The "Aha Moment" is a regular segment on Kurt Andersen's show as artists, authors, and (in my case) filmmakers talk about a specific moment in their creative life when a light went off and inspiration struck. In my case, it happened when I was in college and I saw the Merchant-Ivory film MAURICE.  It was the first time I had ever see a gay love story and, even more remarkable, one with an actual happy ending--at least for the title character, that is.

My piece aired on public radio stations around the country over the holiday weekend and I got some wonderful responses, hearing from a lot of folks some of whom I'd lost touch with even (including the editor the first short story anthology I was in, NOT THE ONLY ONE). But I also heard that a lot of people didn't get to listen it due to vacation/family events. So here's the link to listen to it online at STUDIO 360's website. Also you can get STUDIO 360 as a podcast, which highly recommend.

Anyway, I had a great time talking with the producer Jenny Lawton about my moment and she did a wonderful job editing the piece, to include clips from TV movies about AIDS, the film MAURICE, and my first feature film I THINK I DO (including the wedding proposal that Tuc Watkins makes!). While I had always been interested in movies and filmmaking since I was a kid, it was seeing MAURICE that really set me on my course as to what types of films I was interested in making.

May 23, 2013

Actor From AUGUST To Star In New HBO Show

A little belated news but THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER on May 15th announced that HBO is picking up to series a new gay-themed show about three friends living in San Francisco.  One of those friends is Murray Bartlett, the star of the feature film AUGUST that I co-wrote/produced with Eldar Rappaport. Murray was in the pilot for the series, directed by Andrew Haigh who made one of my favorite films of the last couple years WEEKEND, about two UK blokes who have a sexy/intense weekend together. 

I got meet Andrew when WEEKEND screened at the Castro the same week I was in San Francisco for the premiere of AUGUST. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with this show as it develops. There is not much word yet publicly on the story and it doesn't have a title.  All that's known is that it was based on a feature script by Michael Lannan who did a well-received short called LORIMER and who also notably produced the James Franco experimental film INT.LEATHER BAR that had Sundance buzzing this year. 

Anyway, I think it's great that HBO has stepped up to the plate to produce something in which the gay characters don't inhabit the fringes of a major show but instead, finally, take center stage. 

May 22, 2013

Subway Cars Go Into The Deep

If you've ever wondered where old subway cars go when they have served their time, the answer is probably not what you'd expect. They don't end up in junkyards or parked in old railsheds. Instead, they serve a deeper (ha) purpose, sunk to the bottom of the ocean to form artificial reefs.

Via the STUDIO 360 Twitter feed, I found these stunning images of subway cars on the way to their final destination. This series of pics, some surreal and some surprisingly beautiful, were taken by NYC photographer Stephen Mallon. The MTA has been dropping subway cars into the deep all up and down the Atlantic Coast for the last ten years to create the artificial habitats for marine wildlife. Certainly a much more productive reuse than the scrap heap.

May 17, 2013

The Shuttle From USS Enterprise Has Landed In Jersey

As Mr. Spock might say, "Fascinating." I found this old story from back in February on the New Yorker's website today when looking for Anthony Lane's review of the latest Trek adventure (in which the shuttle's play quite a major role in a number of action sequences). Lane by the way did not approve of the new film. I, however, loved it!

Anyway, it turns out that a shipbuilder/restorer in Atlantic Highlands bought the actual shuttle set piece used in the original STAR TREK TV show on eBay for 70K last summer.Now he is gently and lovingly restoring it in hopes of donating it to a science museum at some point in the future. He has a ways to go as it was in crap condition. But it's sorta wild that he would devote so much time and energy to this task as essentially an act of charity. May this dude Live Long and Prosper!

May 15, 2013

The Palisades, A Local Scenic Landmark, In Danger

I'm not usually one to promote causes and petitions on this blog. But this particular situation grabbed my visual attention. The spectacular view of the New Jersey Palisades is in danger of being destroyed by electronics company LG's plans for an enormously out of place office building that would tower above the pristine tree line. Note that this currently unspoiled view of the NJ shoreline is the same view that Henry Hudson saw (minus a few natural landslides) hundreds of years ago traveling up river for the first time. If LG goes ahead and builds this new building (surely so their executives can have supreme views of New York City) the magic of this unique part of the local landscape will be forever lost.

The first time I visited Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx and looked west, I was stunned by this view and equally amazed that it had not been spoiled.  When I heard about LG's plans, I went to this organization Protect The Palisades' website, set up to send emails of protest to the head of the company.  (A previous petition was already sent to them and local zoning officials.) Anyway, it only takes a minute to fill one out and send it along. So if you can, do you part to save one of the area's remaining natural wonders.

May 10, 2013

Marriage Equality Marches On To It's 11th...and 12th State

Double vistories for marriage equality this week in Delaware and Minnesota. The "First State" is now the 11th in the country to ratify marriage equality and Minnesota is now on track to be the first non-coastal state to approve marriage equality by an act of the legislature (Iowa got it through the courts). It's a remarkable measure of progress since last November when 4 states voted on marriage equality and won.  As of this month, a full 25% of the 50 United States will have recognized marriage equality. And, note to conservative church and Republican types, this number is only increasing...Illinois is likely to be next.

There's a great article on Mother Jones' website today postulating that the surge in marriage equality could be directly related to the Mormon Church. Last year, the Church gave up it's well publicized and incredibly well funded crusade against gay marriage.  You'll recall the Mormons were crucial in defeating Proposition 8 in 2008 which set off the recent push for marriage equality across the country and at the federal level as well. Now that they are out of the fight, the Catholic church has been trying to pick up the slack but when they lost Maryland (a large Catholic state and originally a Catholic colony), the writing was on the wall. They can't fight this fight the way the Mormons can.

I'm glad that the Mormons cames to their senses and realized this was only hurting their image and, obviously, was not exactly in line with the phrase "what would Jesus do."  Jesus believed in love not hate and fear. If only the Catholic church would come to its senses on this issue too they could save themselves a lot of time, effort and money.

May 6, 2013

The World's "Smallest" Movie Is A Viral Hit

Last week, IBM posted online a short animated film which is a fairly crude rendition of a boy and a bouncing ball that he plays with. It would be an unremarkable achievement in animation if not for the fact that the items being animated were atoms which had been magnified 100 million times so they could be visible to the human eye. 

This 1 minute video, A BOY AND HIS ATOM (which is essentially a clever ad for IBM) has garnered nearly 3 million hits since its debut. But what's almost even better, or at least a little more interesting to me as a filmmaker, is the behind the scenes process of making a movie with atoms. As it turns out, they are more difficult to deal with than actors!  :)  Anyway, you can watch the story behind IBM's atom film on YouTube as well.