Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh godness!

I can't believe it has been three months since I last posted on my blog. It feels neglected and sad. Well, no longer- I am back to breathe new life into it. I think one thing this blog can do is show that one can move on from one film and do much more. I became very obsessed with my thesis film "push/pull" and it dragged on me for way too long. But in the past 12 months I think I've finally made the transition from film student to filmmaker. I've made about 8 shorts for Filmaka and another 4 for work. The films work have been interesting in that they are about subjects I'm not passionate about but I am very passionate about getting them right. I'm feeling a lot of pressure though on the producing side- I've got an MD breathing down my neck to reduce the budgets and increase the quality. Basically, they want me to be a magician- please, build a better house in less time with fewer materials! Well, I realise I can only give it a good effort and if they don't like it they can *&%!

Filmaka has been such a great outlet for me. I'm dying to know if I won their final contest. I have a 1/38 chance, which isn't bad, but then again I have a 37/38 chance of not winning, which is pretty darn close to guaranteed. The prize is a contract to direct a feature film, the big kahuna. I guess I'll find out in April. Today, Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and member of the Filmaka jury wrote about my final film: Very well done.

Awesome! That made my day and I could temporarily forget that I'd just had to cut my camera assistant, second camera operator, steadicam and art assistant from my crew for a job next week...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tired and happy and sad

This weekend I spent a very rainy Saturday at a small post production house making the final touches on a screening copy of push/pull....why's that? you ask. Well, it has finally been selected for a really cool festival, the London Short Film Festival. I'm super excited that it will premiere at the extremely amazing ICA theatre. That's the Institute for Contemporary Arts- Here's the link. So, I've spent all my money and got a nice beautiful digibeta tape copy to show there and I'm hoping it looks as lovely as it did in the colouring session.

It feels great to show at a festival, but just gives me a bit more of a burden to get the DVDs done and get it into a few more festivals. There is something about being able to say this film screened at festivals x, y, and z...then it feels like you've done you're best and can move on.

Speaking of which, I'm kind of exicited to write a romantic comedy script. And I want to make some more shorts for Filmaka. And I'm dying to make a proper short on 35mm. I've never worked with 35 but it has this allure like no other.

So why sad? Well, just tired of the cold, dark weather I suppose. And hate that when I go to a film lecture, as I did tonight, I just want to race out of there at the end- I can never bear to stay for the networking drinks because I feel shy and awkward. And my boss says I give off an "anxiety" vibe and need to chillllll. I told him that's just ambition in the face of not having enough to do. So I'm really trying to chillllll. Maybe I'll bring in a radio tomorrow and a Hawaiian shirt. beach chair. sandals. lolly pops.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Almost forgotten

My film is dangling in an abyss. I sent in a beta tape, screened it on the San Francisco State campus, graduated and then this: nothing. I realize it has been more than two months since I have written in this blog, and since not much has happened in the past two months, I thought I'd write a post in the hopes that writing in the blog would stir up the cosmic universe in favor of progress. I've been rejected from numerous film festival and numerous jobs. Well, my short has been rejected, but it hard not to take it personally. I am waiting for the festival programmer to call me up and say "I see something unique and excited here and want to screen it." But I think that may never happen. So, other good things could happen instead. Like maybe my next film will get me some where. I was talking to someone last night was saying how I have a job- being a filmmaker- and I should never go work as a waitress or receptionist because who cares about being poor and my art is more important, blah blah blah. It is easy to say this when you're employed, can enjoy a nice meal at a nice restaurant and holidays at the beach, and feel integrated with society. But those of us who are alone, the artists sitting in their little dark rooms in the suburbs and villages and highrises with the internet as our main friend, feel that perhaps its time to put in application at starbucks in hopes of social interaction, free coffee and money to see a movie with a new coworker on the weekends.

Monday, May 07, 2007

filming final glory

This morning, my film "push/pull" got yet another rejection- from Hamburg Int'l Festival...as usual, I felt down, my boyfriend cheered me up, I moved on and thought about entering the film in more festivals.

This afternoon, a tiny little one-day film I made for a website called Filmaka.com won a prize of $3000! I'm so pleased. I'm a bit shocked since the film was so incredibly no budget, but I feel really happy. It also means I get to keep entering their contests and maybe even win more money and prizes. Their grand prize, which I am now eligible for if I make another film, is a feature film contract. Ever since my first coloring contest victory (I won circus tickets), I've adored contests. Actually, even younger than that I would dream of winning the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes. I wanted to give all the money to making art centers in Africa. It's still an idea I'd like to see come to fruition...one day. I hope that this isn't a giant scam and I'm being a sucker...but for the moment I choose to believe they actually liked my simple little film.
In further good news, last week I had a script I wrote Shortlisted (i.e. a finalist but not a winner) for the Audi Reel Talent Award, which means it was in the top 11 out of 180 short film scripts. Had I won, the prize would be a 10,000 pound production budget...as it is I still want to make the film, but probably with a 10 pound budget instead.

Alas, some good news, but still those rejections hurt.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The quiet hush of rejection

I realize it has been more than a month since I last posted- for shame! I have been busy with my cross-channel move to London, looking for a new job, and enjoying the British (gasp) sunshine. Our little film got rejected from Cannes Critic Week so I probably wont be sashaying down La Croissette in evening wear. But actually it is a huge relief as I haven't got any evening or day wear that would be red-carpet worthy. And I'd need a 35mm print, which I am not currently close to possessing. Meanwhile, I am waiting to hear back from a few other festivals and getting prepared to send out another batch to more fests. As each application takes time, sweat and money, along with the possible emotional pain of rejection, it gets hard to send them out. Yet I am absolutely determined to get this film out and seen in a proper environment, be in Cannes or Hackney.
I promise my devoted blog readers, after two years of reading this, will be the first to find out when the film hits the big screen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I randomly found out about a little film contest ("filmaka" and entered my film "I am hungry" (not my masterpiece "Push/pull" of course) into it. It is a new and not well publicized contest, and I didn't think about it too much... but miraculously, my film was in the top ten (number 8 out of around 100)...and apparantly I won some money! Wow, I've never won money for my films before. It is a really nice feeling that people voted for it and got my wierd sense of humor (in which I eat very literally "like a bird"). If I understand the contest rules correctly (a big "if"), I get to enter another contest and make another film and compete for even more money. The thing is, the winners are chosen by a vote/jury combination...so I may be campaigning amoung my blog readers to register and vote (for me!)....

As for news about my other little film, the one I've been perspiring for 2 years thinking about, well, it's not done yet, but I really feel the end is in sight. I'm committing to graduating in May which means really getting this together soon. I will. I will. I will.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

tired and slightly down

It's been a whole month since my last post, for shame. I'm surprised if any one still reads it, but it really is my record so who cares.

Tonight we had the cast and crew film screening at a cafe called Dune in Paris near my apartment. I first showed two other little shorts I've made, and then "push/pull". People seemed to enjoy the films, even though I felt a bit sensitive to any remarks made. One actor wondered why I had gotten rid of the end scene that we filmed, another wanted to know why it looked so bright...but really what matters is that I've shown the film in public (albiet the version still is waiting for some "professional touches".
I took this acting class in college with this wonderful teacher and there were only a few of us in the class. We did loads of fun exercises. I remember in one of the exercises the teacher litterly prying my arms open and saying, "Sahra, you've got this whole world but I can't see it because you're hiding it in a little ball." That's kind of how I feel about this film, about all my films really, or my creative side in general. No matter how much time I spend dreaming of how lovely every film festival and red carpet will be, it kind of hurts to show them, like I'm being pried open against my will.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I know I have not posted in ages, and actually I'm probably in no condition to post at the moment. It's 1 a.m. and I just returned home from watching David Lynch's "Inland Empire". A friend who is a Lynch fan invited me, and I declined after reading a review. But then, sometime in the early evening, seeing I had nothing to do and having read a more positive review, I decided to go along. Big mistake.
Really, really painful 3 hours of my life.
I feel I should be given a mudbath and several bottles of champagne just for having sat through it. The first 30 minutes are pretty good; they don't make sense exactly, but one is willing to go with the flow and try to unravel what is happening.
Then it just goes downhill and keeps going that way for 2 and a half more hours, though the credit sequence is oddly cute.
Imagine you go to a conceptual video art gallery. There are four screens. On one screen is an extreme close-up of a woman crying. On another there is another woman looking at the woman crying and saying, "How did I get here?" on an endless loop; on the third screen are some polish gypsy circus people; on the forth is a woman standing in the video art gallery watching the video screens. This attracts your interest for all of 4 minutes. But then they shut the doors of the gallery and lock you in, make you sit down and really stare at the screens in an overheated room for another 2 hours and 56 minutes.
Finally, they let you out and you can breathe again, though there is no hope of getting your 10 bucks back for the admission fee.

Alas, my favorite thing about the movie was that it made me feel so much better about my own. Obscurity is definitely "in". Though comparing the two, my film is crystal clear, which is probably much less cool.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The six year old's reaction

Today I showed Nathalie, her parents, and 3-year old and 9-year old brothers, the film. Nathalie has grown since the last time I saw her, at her 6th birthday last summer. Her cheeks have lost their baby fat and she's gotten more giggly. I was slightly terrified that the family would watch in expressionless-horror, think that I had created some horrible impenetrable art piece that used their daughter as a wooden doll. But no, they actually seemed to love it. Nathalie and her brothers shrieked with delight when they saw her face on the television screen. She laughed because she remembered filming the movie but would never have imagined that this is what it would look like. The parents thought it was beautiful and flowed well. The three-year old was far more interested in showing me the farting sounds in "Ice Age" than watching my film. So it was a nice little bit of encouragement.

I am basically in a holding pattern, the sound and image editing 95% done, now I need to send the film to festivals and look for money. I have a friend of mine who is going to try to help me with this but it seems quite hopeless. Plus, I spend far too much time looking at film festival websites and dreaming of sitting in crowded theaters in krakow and lisbon and edinburgh and portland, and far too little actually looking for funding and writing scripts and being a creative spirit. The internet is an addictive force that is pulling me into mediocre behavior. I believe only chocolate will save me.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Oh happy new year dear blog readers. It seems quite strange that this blog is going into its 3rd year (is that possible? no!) on the same little film. To be honest, I'm quite tired of it. Not tired enough to abandon filmmaking, but definitely in need of a long nap. Just writing for a long while. In early December I managed to get this crusty old finance guy at my school to say, and I quote,"you have 950 euros to spend towards your project. I promise." Then I hassled two different labs until I miraculously negotiated a decent price with eclair for the beta master copy. Granted, this means abandoning hopes of 35mm blow-up, but it still is better than nothing and I need a beta tape to graduate. All this negotiating took a ridiculous amount of phonecalls and work. In the meanwhile I've been working on my sound and my sound designer is getting closer to giving me a quite nice sound mix. I have been plotting the cast and crew screening.
So today I head over to my disgusting, graffiti-filled, trash-dump of a school and present the estimate so I can pick up my purchase order, bring it to the lab, finish my film in the next few weeks, send it to festivals, and graduate before I start a job in London. All seems well. But then crusty old finance man seems to have completely forgotten his promise, claims the funds had already been used, there'd been some little mistake, ha-ha, oh well. I was not feeling ha-ha oh-well.
I feel set-back and deflated, but not end-of-the-world deflated. I read New Yorker comics on the train on the way back home and they made me laugh. I read the adorable "inspirational article" my friend Bronwen mailed me about picking yourself up when you fall down. I ate a delicious Belgium chocolate with a hazelnut inside that my dad gave me. I talked to my love on the phone.
So things are not all that bad. But not all that good.