For the month of October, and going into the first Wednesday of November, the Walker Art Center Moving Image department is showcasing the work of French filmmaker Jean Epstein, one of the greats among the pioneers of independent cinema. Epstein directed 44 films during his career -- shorts, narratives and experimental documentaries. The Walker featured nine of his films, four narrative features and five short films. Below are photos I snapped during the inspection process. The last batch of films I'm running Wednesday, November 4th, are perhaps the best looking 35mm prints I've ever come in contact with. The final evening of films include The Three Sided Mirror (1927, 38 minutes), A Song for Poplars (1931, 6 minutes), and The Storm Tamer (1947, 22 minutes).
Because I ran a 70mm print of Interstellar at Willow Creek from November 2014 - January 2015, I felt compelled to share this story. Thus, the story comes full circle.
I was first introduced to Christopher Nolan on Tuesday, May 5th at 1:00pm, when he and his assistant were brought over to the cinema by Walker's Senior Film Curator and Program Manager. At the time he met everyone working on the Regis Dialogue for the evening, but then requested to see my projection booth.
I gave Nolan a tour of my booth, then we chatted for a short period of time about projection equipment, different film formats. He thought it was especially fantastic that the Walker's Kinoton projectors could switch between 16mm and 35mm, then he said, "I heard you ran a 70mm print of Interstellar here in the state." He asked if Walker ever considered putting in 70mm projectors. I explained, "It was discussed, but ultimately scrapped because 70mm didn't have the pull or interest even 4/5 years ago. It was only a year later that Paul Thomas Anderson would release The Master on 70mm, then you would bring 70mm to the forefront, now Quentin Tarantino and JJ Abrams will be releasing films on 70mm." At the time we needed to begin the tech-check for the clip session with Nolan and Scott Foundas.
A week prior to Tuesday's Dialogue, Chief Film Critic for Variety magazine, Scott Foundas, sent me a list of all six clips he wanted to run through-out the duration of the Dialogue. The idea being, he and Nolan would discuss a particular film and the themes, etc on stage, then I would project a specific clip out on screen. Because the clips were 35mm, I had very specific in and out points to follow. For instance, when I got an in-point time of 01hr 26min 41sec for The Dark Knight, I know that's at the beginning of reel 5, so I begin searching through reel 5 to find and mark the clip, prepping it for show. The afternoon clip session was done primarily for Nolan and Foundas, to see if they approved of the ins and outs I selected. Nolan and Foundas approved of all clips.
The Nolan Dialogue ran from 8:00pm until 9:45, then they opened up the Q&A to the crowd. For several weeks I had been trying to get Dave a ticket for the event, but had no luck. Dave, for those of you that don't know, is the head projectionist at Willow Creek 12 Theatre, a man that has been in the industry for 40 years. It was because of Dave that Willow Creek ran Interstellar on 70mm. You can watch the short documentary I made about Dave by following this link http://www.justincayd.com/the-man-in-the-booth-2012.html
By some miracle, at the very last minute I was able to get Dave a ticket for the Dialogue, so sure enough Dave was the second to last person picked to ask Christopher Nolan a question during the Q&A. Dave stood up, took the microphone, told Nolan he had ran a 70mm print of Interstellar perfectly for 10 weeks straight at Willow Creek, explained his love for film, the importance of keeping it alive, to which Nolan smiled and Dave received a loving, warm round of applause from 339 people in the auditorium.
After the Q&A wrapped up, Dave came up into the booth to look at my equipment. About five minutes into me giving Dave a tour, one of my colleagues opens the booth door, "Mr. Justin, Christopher Nolan has requested your presence in the green room." I leave the booth and walk back stage.
Nolan, Scott Foundas and a few others are enjoying some post-show snacks in the green room. Nolan smiles, shakes my hand and thanks me for "running a smooth clip show", he went on to say, "It's nice to see someone so young have an interest in running 35mm film."
I added, "You know the second to last gentleman you picked for the Q&A? That's my Jedi Master, he's the one that trained me in 13 years ago at Willow Creek. He's the reason I do what I do. He trained me in on 70mm."
Foundas and Nolan begin to smile after I mention this. Nolan adds, "You know, I was thinking that in the back of my mind when he said he ran Interstellar in 70mm. Because you just seem so young to know so much about 70mm." I laughed a little bit, as did Nolan and Foundas. At the time, I asked both of them if I could get a photo, to which they said it would be their pleasure.
For all the loud, epic, intense and busy films he makes, he's a very calm, quiet and peaceful person. And that's the story of when I met Christopher Nolan.
Here is a link to a Star Tribune News Story about the Nolan Dialogue, where Dave and I are both mentioned inadvertently:
I haven't done the best job at maintaining this blog,. I've had great intentions, but it never happened. I figured I'd share with you some of the pieces of work I've created over the last month or so.
First up, A Little Bit // No Reason -- this is just a small collection of footage, cut together for the sake of keeping at it.
2. An Interstellar 70mm Presentation Trailer I assembled to play before movies at Willow Creek 12 Theatre
3. The preparation of 70mm at Willow Creek 12 Theatre [shot on an iPhone 5]
4. 30 second television spot for pic Future.
5. Fairfax Cryobank | Recruiting Commercial
6. Interstellar 70mm | Preparations | The arrival, inspections and loading of 70mm film.
7. The Man in the Booth -- I finally got my 2012 documentary up, thanks to Self Destructive Films.
I am not an expert when it comes down to this little thing known as crowdfunding, yet I like to think I've learned a lot over the last several years.
Originally when I heard celebrities were using crowdfunding to raise money for their features, I was quite upset. I didn't understand. Why do those already in the "Hollywood System" need the money and support from individuals such as myself when they could easily have a studio back their efforts?
That raced through my head for many days after I first heard that Rob Thomas and the Veronica Mars kickstarter had raised over $1 million in just under four hours, including one generous donation of $10,000.
Before I go any further, I will stop and say I eventually understood what donating to a celebrity backed project was all about. In the case of Veronica Mars, the campaign raised a total of $5.7 million and ultimately backed by 91,585 individuals. 91,585 exuberant, crazy happy fans of the show. This campaign, and any campaign put on by any celebrity, like Zach Braff or Spike Lee (and now Don Cheadle with his Miles Davis biopic), is not about taking away from struggling artists, it is about artists supporting art. Art. Supporting art. Art, in general, needs exposure and new methods to continue to progress forward.
Kickstarter and the idea of crowdfunding was suddenly a mainstream entity because of the good and bad celebrity exposure. Kickstarter was no doubt a popular, much talked about and used tool that connected people to projects all around the world. But now because of the dialog created by the media because of celebrities using this tool, more people are discovering it. That is an incredible thing to think about. Since Kickstarter was birthed 5 years ago, 63,035 projects have been successfully funded, raising $1.1 billion dollars. That's an astounding number. To this day 44% of projects have met their goal.
I've been apart of a few Kickstarter campaigns in the last four years -- whether it was shooting a video or giving it exposure via Social Media.
Some of projects I've been involved with were organized and executed correctly, others needed help. Recently, a film that I'm doing Social Media work on, crossed the $15,000 goal mark in its 11th hour.
The morning of the final day was nerve wracking to say the least. 17hrs remaining, we still needed to raise $2,601. But as statistics go, of projects that reach 60% of their goal, 98% were successfully funded. While this is a good stat to know, it did little to calm my nerves. In the end, we hit $15k roughly 11 minutes before the end of the campaign. The feeling was... wonderful. A lot of mad work was put into the campaign, but when all was said and done, well, I slept like a baby.
The film I'm talking about above is called Our Fantasies Are Eating Us Alive, produced by Don't Mind If I Do Films, LLC based out of St. Paul, MN -- run by brothers Colin Markowitz and Daniel Markowitz, directed by Mike P. Nelson (The Retirement of Joe Corduroy). The campaign was set up to fund one of two short films based on the feature screenplay. The long-term goal is to submit to festivals and gain interest from investors to fund the feature film.
All of this crowdfunding research and involvement is not without reason. In March 2015 we're going to begin a campaign for Tess. It makes me nervous just thinking about it. And this is why an air-tight campaign is needed; a well-thought out, well-executed plan of action. In the end, it will come together and we will succeed.
This blog was a re-post, more or less, from my Tess page.
After a lot of thought, and some peer pressure, I've sent The Man in the Booth to some festivals. CraziFlix Film Festival, St. Cloud Film Festival, Big Water Film Festival, Highway 61 Film Festival, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival and Twin Cities Film Festival. We won't know the outcome for several months. I've been afraid of sending this to festivals, possibly because I'm my worst critic and I'm not sure if the movie is good enough or holds the structure of a more traditional short subject documentary.
People tell me not to over-think this or worry about it too much, because, as some have said, "A good documentary starts with a good subject, and you can't get any better than Dave." This is very true. Dave is such a fascinating person. One day I hope to make The Man in the Booth Part II.
Some have asked if they can see the film. Sometime soon I will get it up on Vimeo.
There isn’t a hugely profound meaning behind the name.
The first production title was Hard Eight Casino Films, which I developed in 9th grade (1999/2000). Even though I was young and didn’t have a use for a production company, I wanted to find something that wasn’t just my given name to represent my future work. It wasn’t completely important, but I needed it; I wanted it.
Ready for the non-revelatory reasoning behind how I came up with the name? I put two movie titles together. Hard Eight is Paul Thomas Anderson’s feature film debut, and Casino is a Martin Scorsese film; an over-looked gem of a motion picture if you ask me. I prefer it much more than GoodFellas.
It wasn’t until 2006 I decided to change Hard Eight Casino Films to H8C Productions.
[Aside from Robert Altman being my first big influence, Paul and Scorsese really brought story to my attention when thinking about film. I credit those filmmakers for ushering me towards looking at film with a new perspective. Film as art, as opposed to film as strictly entertainment. But you still need fun.]
There is a naive youthfulness to the H8C name which keeps me from changing it after all these years. In that I mean you must always remember why you do the things you do. For me, wanting to make movies from a very young age, it’s good to remind my adult-self to have fun while chasing that life-long dream. Too many people in the industry live with ego and competition driving their ambitions, and while that aspect is sometimes needed to get ahead, you also need to learn to enjoy your career choice and do it for the love of doing it, not because you want to make a name for yourself.
If there is an adult reasoning for why H8C is still with me, I can say that it represents simplicity in the way I conduct myself. If I do what I am supposed to do while creating a movie, you'll find the necessary complexity in the simple gestures.
Some incredibly fun news. I've been selected as a RAW Minneapolis Artist. The SPECTRUM showcase is on April 16th from 7pm to 11pm at The Pourhouse in Minneapolis. My showcase will feature The Man in the Booth plus a few of my other film projects -- probably some of my small experimental stuff, seeing as I don't have any other narrative shorts.
Tickets are $15 each. Each artist needs to sell at least 20.
RAW is an independent organization for artists, by artists. Their mission is to provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their career with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity.
To see the full lists of SPECTRUM showcase artists, follow this link. http://www.rawartists.org/minneapolis/spectrum/?artist=207220
I'm making the exciting transition from using my Tumblr as my website to having a real website. It's taken a few days to get all my material transferred over, but this website certainly is far more clean and slick than Tumblr, which is quite a messy place.
Stay tuned for some exciting news!