Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keep it light.

W e i r d n e s s.

I didn't go out much last weekend as I had just gotten back and turned my house into a self induced hermitage. I did go out a few times, for dinner with Connie and her brother, for groceries and to mail off DVD orders. Over the course of the weekend I had three occurrences of complete strangers approaching me and introducing themselves saying they saw Scrapped or read an article about it in the paper, etc.

It was great because I felt like all the work is paying off. People are finding out about it and maybe I've made people think a little about their lives, their families and scrapbooking. The coolest thing was that I was met with smiles, warm faces and full on eye contact. The kind where someone doesn't look at you... they look into you. It was great because I was tired and busy and I had this intimate moment with someone, we connected and was all wrapped up in 45 seconds. I didn't have to worry about calling them, no email about when we're getting together again for breakfast. Just in, out and over but very meaningful for that brief moment in time. I love that!

The funny thing is that one of my big premises of the movie was that I already have too many one way relationships with people on TV, movies, radio, etc. and need more with some depth so I guess the jokes on me. Either way, it worked and I liked it.

Thanks for reading, watching and responding.

So are you more of a keep it light and happy kind of conversationalist or a 3 hours over coffee with Kleenex close by type?

The Devil Wears McDonalds

I'm back home now but wanted to catch up on a couple things that tickled my brain in Milan. One was how previlant McDonalds was. I mean everywhere. Out of all the cultural wealth we hold here in America, our calling card to the world is McDonalds. Nothing gave me a double take like the shop in the middle of the galleria in Milan. We have a galleria here in the Twin Cities, as you probably do as well but Milan's might have you beat. Built in the late 1800's you can stand on miles of marble floor and turn 360 degrees in the middle and see Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Louis Vuitton and yes... Mc Donalds in the next storefront.

The crazy thing is that it wasn't filled with tourists and aspiring young American wanna be youth. It was filled with local men chatting, nice old ladies having coffee and a broad range of clientele. The part that really got me is you can't walk more than 100 yards in Milan without bumping into a bistro or coffee shop with 1 euro espresso's or cappachino's ground on the spot and the coffee at Mickey D's was being constantly poured and it stunk. I'm not even a coffee guy and I thought it was horrible. Go Figure.

I should also mention that I have been liberated from guilt of taking bad pictures. Yes, I know these pictures suck and no, I don't care too much. They're for a disposible blog and I snapped then as I was walking by. Ahh, what a refreshing feeling to have zero pressure to make something artful and expressive. :0)

Oh, and for those of you wondering what this season's Prada bag bombshell will be, I snapped a shot:

Who ever would have guessed fur dashboards would ever be in style outside of the low rider community?

Monday, November 20, 2006

counter clockwise

Which way does the toilet flush in Italy ( to the left or to the right? )

Well, um.... it doesn't.

Loosing never felt so good

To get the two penitent questions out of the way first. yes, I got my bag eventually and no I didn't win in the feature documentary category. The good news is that after seeing some of the other work in my category I'm very happy I was even accepted. There were a couple other projects that were very, very good. Even getting my foot in the door and attending got me connected with some amazing people and for that I'm very excited. Over the last few days I've gotten to know a few people very well and re-connected with some friends in the industry.

Here's an example, it's me sitting at lunch with my friend Sven who's been a production designer for features and television for over forty years. He's worked on Oscar winning movies like Babbette's feast ( he's the guy that made that table and kitchen look so good. ) He's the guy who I've got my arm resting on, next to him is Bart Gavigan who's also worked on many award winning features and television. The person in the foreground is Malcolm whom I've seen and met briefly at other festivals and conferences in Germany and the US but have never gotten more then 10 minutes to chit chat with. He's been producing for twenty five years and has done many project that ended up on the BBC and othr networks around the world that we wouldn't recognize. Finally on the right is Dave who's had beers with Dustin Hoffman, a date with Geena Davis and worked on more high profile projects than you can shake a stick at. How can I be anything but ecstatic? Loosing to people like this has proven to me that this crazy basement Scrapped project has won me admission into spending the afternoon with these guys. The best part is they had a good chuckle when I told them the night before my project was about scrapbooking - a FEATURE about scrapbooking. Sven admitted he made one years ago but everyone else wasn't really even up to speed on what they were. Curiosity got the best of them and they all attended the showing.

I was honestly pretty surprised at how well received Scrapped was. This was my first showing with an audience of people where pretty much NOBODY had any clue about scrapbooking and zero emotional connection to it. It was marvelous! There weren't any comments about their style of scrapbooking being underrepresented, no comments about manufacturers or products, no agenda that can sometimes arise from women who get territorial about the passion of their life. I don't mind that but I didn't realize how refreshing it would be to have the absence of it. There was just laughter and learning. I was amazed at how much people laughed and had the hushed sounds of thought when different segments came on about hard times, challenges, etc. I had an amazing amount of feedback from industry people about the compelling story. I was focusing on the production quality and they completely got sucked into the story and ended up being truly fascinated with the whole concept of the project and scrapbooking to the point where the guys at this table ( this picture was shot immediately after my screening ) had at one time or another in the afternoon told me about how they should try it, start documenting their families, etc. Dave pulled me aside in the middle of the movie after mine and wanted to grab a coffee to talk all about Scrapped. How cool is that? It looked like they were literally entertained AND engaged in the subject matter and these are people that have seen an awful lot of movies roll past their eyeballs, even in the last few days. So I guess all this to say I am very, very pleased and am feeling a great sense of accomplishment to be able to talk shop and learn from people like this. I'm learning a ton and in the end, 4 out of the five people at this table entered projects ( and then became finalists ) and 3 of them actually won their category. I was thrilled to be able to hang out with these guys for lunch and then ended up going to the awards night gala with them. It hit me how fortunate I was when I was sitting in an auditorium with thousands of people and ended up in a cluster of so many people holding statues. I felt like I became part of the cool kids group in the lunch room. I guess the icing on the cake was that I've actually won an award at this festival two years ago for another project I did in a screwball category which wasn't even around this year so I squeaked in by the skin of my teeth.

Afterward the festival planners wanted pictures with the winners and we became friends since I attended two years ago so they wanted me in pictures as well. I'm glad I shaved and wore a suit. I then got to go party with all the winners in downtown Milan until three in the morning. I kind of felt less like a bush league bozo and more like a legitimate movie guy, not based on Scrapped necessarily but because I have gone through the tough process of taking on an amazing amount of responsibility, debt, work, strain and criticism to attempt and complete a movie. I felt like I found a niche. The place I'm moving towards instead of looking at the place I've been walking away from.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Enjoy the Journey

After two late flights which meant two missed connections and a detour through Paris, I've arrived! My bag is somewhere still hanging around Paris though... It was supposed to be arrive last night, then this morning but is still missing in action.

Good news: I got to meet Paulo Simones, the general manager of Sony Pictures releases department here in Italy. Bad news: I've been wearing the same clothes for three days with no comb, deoderant or change of underwear. ickkk...

Paulo had some great things to say. Did you know US domestic market is about 45% of total international sales is movies? I guess it's a no brainer but it's down from 55% just a few years ago. It just goes to show how little the world is becoming. The internet is cracking open the global community. A kid in Yugoslavia can download trailers for a movie before it's released and start finding his Divx pirate copy before it hits theaters opening week. One of the things he said reminded me I'm right on track with this Scrapped thing. he gave two marketing strategies for two different movies Sony released here in Italia that represent two very different techniques in promotion. Spider man and Million Dollar Baby. Both good movies but Spiderman was a huge marketing effort with product promotions, mass media, partnerships with other companies, and TV, print and magazine advertising. Million Dollar baby was strategically sent to pockets of people and promoted through word of mouth. It's appeal wasn't easily presented in movie posters, trailers or sound bites. You have to watch it to get it ( or someone you know has to watch it and you see their passion. )

This reminded me of the emails I get from people asking if / when Scrapped is going to hit their local theater. It sounds almost sub standard to say it's probably not because we're used to the whiz bang events and promotion but that stuff costs huge amounts of money, anywhere from 1/3 to ( sometimes on small budget pieces ) even half the total budget. Paulo's talk reminded me that we're working a legitimate marketing strategy to get the word out about Scrapped and basically we've been able to move about ten thousand copies in the last few months just by word of mouth and a few companies getting behind it and it's message. I'm starting to actually feel proud of the work I, and many, many other people put into it. Here among my peers I'm seeing what an amazing accomplishment it is. I'm meeting people I've seen and gotten to know at other festivals when I did the circuit with my last project a couple years ago. They're actually amazed we were able to pull off pulling together concept, scouting, research, scheduling, funding, shooting, editing, promoting, etc. in one year. Yes, I just checked my email and the anniversary of me sending out the first email saying "hey, I'm thinking about doing a project about scrapbooking... does anyone know anybody that does it?" was last week.

I've got to tell you. It's really weird sitting in screenings with all these different artistic and dramatic movies knowing that in a couple days all these stylish Italians, european jet setters, directors, producers and creative citizens from all over the world are going to sit through a feature length project about scrapbooking. I've talked to a couple people asking if I've got anything in this year and what the storyline is. I say scrapbooking and they have a blank stare. :0)

You have to remember that Italy was creating high art hundreds of years before anyone in North America was doing more than hunting bison and finger painting. This place oozes passionate expression. In the 4 block walk from my hotel to the theater where the festival's at there's the " Saint Maria del Carmine" church built many, many years ago in a traditional style with a modern statue erected out in front in the plaza. It's a great example of how continuos the progression of art is here and it blows my mind. I guess it's time to drop the scrapbook bomb.

Enough people read this blog that there's got to be at least one person interested in bikes... I saw some crazy bikes in New Zealand / Australia but never posted... too lazy. Not this time. The silver bike is a Kawasaki but not like one I've ever sen in the states and who would guess you'd see a Huskie trials bike sitting outside a bar as someones daily driver?! Crazy.

PS. I can safely say I was the only person in the Amsterdam, Paris and Milan airport wearing a flannel shirt with pearlescent snap buttons and cowboy boots. I think people are allergic to flannel in Europe and walking the streets of Italy I stand out like a sore thumb. I have seen cowboys boots in some swanky shops here in the clothing district though but only for women. I think there's more Ferrari's than horses here.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Had a quick interview Friday night on the local CBS affiliate who did a story on scrapbooking. It looks like scrapbooking is hitting the mainstream more and more.

click here to watch

It was supposed to air on the 10:00pm news but it actually made it on the 6:00pm slot so I missed taping it. Did anyone get a copy?


Friday, November 10, 2006

Beasts of the Field

We're back stateside and I'm glad I took some pictures. I didn't want to and did the sadly typical thing of ust wanting to enjoy the moment... who can be bothered with pictures? We've been back 3 days and someone asked what we did. I lazily said this and that but showing pictures took care of the work for me and I'm sad to say I'm currently focused on a cold I've got and forgot much of what we did even last week.

I also tried kangaroo meat for the first time. It tasted pretty much like beef but twice as expensive which is odd because you can find roadkill roos all over the inner half of Australia.

Meet Zoe, My biggest little fan from Melbourne. She was very excited to meet a "movie star" and I didn't want to spoil her excitement with the truth so I changed the subject and we talked about our cool boots.

Took the manditory walk down to the Opera house in Sydney. We tried to catch a show but the only one appealing at the time was canceled so we went to the zoo instead.

This picture gives Connie the perfect in for her joke. Q- Why do gorilla's have big nostrils? A- They have big fingers.

One of the cool things about the Taronga zoo in Sydney is it's location. It's right across the bay from the bridge and opera house so every picture's a good one.

And FInally a tourist shot of a tropical bird trying to make a move on Connies fries. Don't be fooled. This cute little thing kept creeping in until it snagged one and made a run for it. I had to shoo it away from grabbing my wallet next. You can tell he does this for a living.

On a different note, I had a quick interview for WCCO (CBS) that will air tonight or tomorrow night on the 10:00 PM news at the Midwest Scrapbook Convention. I've got a cold but was loving every minute of it. Met some great people there who seemed to be profoundly touched by the movie. I also have an interview with KMSP ( Fox ) on Monday so I've got to kick this cold.

I take of Tuesday to Milan, Italy for a big film festival that Scrapped was accepted into. I landed a spot with some big documentaries from some popular people so I don't know if I'll actually win anything but even to be screened and nominated with some of these other projects os a big deal. I'll post lots of pics.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Aussie Culture

Well as you can see I'm getting the respect I deserve here in Australia. Scrapbooking women are wild at heart and down under is no exception.

Kiss and Tell

Well it's not all work here in New Zealand. Getting caught up on the blog means talking about sheep, an Irish brunch and hiding in caves.

I was shocked to find out Connie has never had proper fish and chips ( a personal favorite.) We were both shocked to find out I've never had black pudding and it was really no shock that I kissed a sheep.

Black pudding for those not in the know is pretty much filler food soaked in blood and cooked until it solidifies. It ranks right up there with haggis as one of the finer culinary delights brought to us by the celtic nations. No wonder there's so much beer drinking going on. For the full scoup on this tasty treat ( the brown disk on my plate ) you can visit here.

We also paid money ( well our kind host paid money ) for us to go climbing around in dark wet caves. It involved alot of falling over submerged waterfalls, scraping my big back end through small underground spaces and looking at glow in the dark slime. All in all a very good time.