Posts Tagged ‘slamdance’

I Play With the Phrase Each Other - A Slamdance Film

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


I Play with the Phrase Each Other is done entirely on a cellphone, with people on cell phones. Filmed in black and white with an iPhone and a 35mm lens, the film tracks a few key characters, the awkward and nervous Jake, his attractive ex-girlfriend in turmoil Erin, the wheeler-dealer Sean, and friend-to-all Zane, all having conversations on their cellphones. Is this an old gimmick? Yes and it is not new. In fact, I wrote a screenplay with this gimmick in the seventh grade. I’ve edited plenty of stories that were similar. Phone Booth had a similar idea. However, I Play with the Phrase Each Other is good. It is one of those instances where an idea many have had, a film that is only dialogue or a film focused on phone calls, actually works instead of just sounding good.

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Heckler on Slamdance

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Slamdance is not the most organized, most popular, or best laid out festival in the world. It is, however, a festival within the Sundance film festival. It’s like festivalception. And that joke is warranted here since Christopher Nolan, director of Inception, had his groundbreaking film Memento at Slamdance. Other films such as the film that Netflix has the hardest time recommending based on viewers’ previous viewing habits, Napoleon  Dynamite, have premiered here to great success equal or greater than their more popular Sundance cohorts.

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Real Life Superheroes

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Donning capes and masks these grown adults appeared as if they were getting ready to go trick or treating. Calling themselves “real life superheroes”, they seemed a little dorky at first.  The individuals featured in this documentary (written and directed by Michael Barnett) believe it is their duty to patrol the streets, fighting crime and picking up the slack that the police and other government institutions leave behind. As we follow the lives of several “real life superheroes” however, it becomes apparent that the work they are doing is not only beneficial to society, but vital to their communities.

The tone at the begging of the film seems to mock these cape and spandex wearing crime fighters. In the first few minutes of the film we take a tour of one man’s extensive action figure collection and watch as he sings along to  the Power Ranger opening sequence on his small television. He is known on the streets as the helmet and amor wearing Mr. Xtreme,  and he is the founder and  sole member of Xtreme Justice League, a citizen’s crime fighting organization in San Diego. His apartment is shabby and his social life is inactive to put it nicely. With a pot belly and no girlfriend, Mr. Xtreme  spends the free time he has between multiple day  jobs patrolling the streets hoping to prevent violent crime. We join him on a nightly escapade to patrol a part of campus where a sexual assault had been reported earlier. Although Mr. Xtreme runs into more hostility than appreciation from the community, (a guy threatens to call the police on Mr.Xtreme if he doesn’t leave his lawn), he is confident his presence, costume and all, is a deterrent to prospective offenders.

Next we meet Master Legend. He’s a long haired, middle-aged vigilante  who likes his beer and makes his own weapons out of cardboard and other household items. After cracking open a cold one he opens up about how his father was a member of the Klu Klux Klan and used to beat him. It was his loving and supportive grandmother, he says, who taught him that he had the potential to be a great force of good.  Turning past traumatic experiences into positive outreach turns out to be a reoccurring theme in many of hero’s lives we meet along the way. The commitment these ordinary citizens have to altruistic service is inspiring.  Every night  you’ll find Master Legend like many superheroes around the world (yes, it’s a global online community) handing out food and blankets to his cities homeless. A hero husband and wife duo hands out care packages every week to those living on the streets-the cost of which all comes out of their own pocket. Many of these heros have limited means themselves and it is astonishing the sacrifices they make in order to do what they do in their communities. When finances get tight Mr. Xtreme moves into his van rather than cease operation of Xtreme Justice League. You’ll come to really admire these quirky yet concerned citizens, as even director Michael Barnett admits he did in the midst of shooting this movie. What begins as a mockumentary becomes something very heartfelt as one grows  immense respect for these selfless individuals. Overall, this movie kills apathy and kicks evil villain butt!

My Festival Experience

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Main Street, Park City

Main Street, Park City

Being in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival (and all of the stuff going on around it, like Slamdance) was definitely an exciting and memorable experience. It was amazing to see the US premieres (and in several cases the world premieres) of the newest indie films and not knowing if you just saw a movie that will be the next big thing or a movie that will never be seen again by anyone who didn’t see it here. I found myself genuinely hoping for all of the movies I saw to receive the highly sought after distribution deals, especially after the Q&A sessions with the directors, casts, and crews. They all put so much passion, heart, and effort into an endeavor that may be their big break, but could also come to nothing. I have even more respect now for the amount of work that goes into making a film and especially into making one that makes it to this level. I also feel like I have a slightly better grasp now on the ever-elusive term “independent film.” (more…)

Sundance/Slamdance Shorts

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

One of my favorite experiences here has been the short films that are occasionally shown before the feature films here at Sundance and Slamdance. A short film is exactly that, a film that is not feature length. Usually shorts are shown in programs appropriately titled shorts programs, where many shorts are shown one after another. The beautiful thing about these shorts is that some of them that have premiered here in Park City have eventually returned fully blossomed into feature lengths. This independent film festival held each year presents filmmakers old and new, with feature length and shorts opportunities they wouldn’t have had other wise. (more…)

Real-Life Superheroes at the Slamdance Film Festival

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Kasey, Will, James, Hannah, David and I with some of the Superheroes

Kasey, Will, James, Hannah, David and I with some of the Superheroes

Last night a bunch of us ventured over to the Slamdance headquarters to catch a screening of Michael Barnett’s documentary entitled Superheroes.  We had heard a lot of buzz about the film, but weren’t entirely sure exactly what it was about or what it’s angle was.  I think most of us went into it expecting to see a bunch of costume-wearing, crazed, deluded comic book nerds who believe they have superpowers.  And yes, there were more than a few comic book fanatics involved in the film.  However, there were also ex-convicts, tattoo artists, school teachers, and even a fair number of women.  What they all had in common was a belief that the world is not as safe as it should be and a deep-rooted commitment to making it better in some small way.  And for the most part (with a few exceptions like Master Legend) they all seemed remarkably grounded, sane, and fully aware of the fact that they possess no actual superpowers.  We went into the film expecting to laugh at the people in it, and at the start of the film we definitely did a little bit.  But by the documentary’s conclusion, I think we all a new-found respect for these “real-life superheroes.” (more…)

Slamdance: First Time for Everything

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Marian Anderson of The Insaints

As anyone could have guessed Slamdance, the smaller independent film festival held here in Park City every year, definitely had a more intimate vibe to it than Sundance. There really isn’t such a thing as a wait list line and as far as getting tickets goes we were able to buy tickets just an hour before the film was shown. My first Slamdance experience took place a one of larger ‘theatres’ here and my guess was the occupancy was roughly around 60 people, and couldn’t be much more than that. The only aspect that took away from casualty of the atmosphere was the amount of time they dedicated to the directors of the works to do some Q & A, where literally one of the directors had less than three minutes to speak and field questions and comments. (more…)