Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Update

Hello there! I haven't posted here in a while because I'm in the process of moving to my own website instead of using blogger. Also, friends, I had to move the Watching Patch studio. Kind of a bittersweet time. The place I rented where I made Heavens and Speed of Sound was sold and I moved 30 blocks north to the Green Lake neighborhood. A lotta blood, sweat, and tears. But this new neighborhood is soooper nice, I must say. It reminds me of Italian horror movies from the 70's when its dark. And during the day its this ridiculously idyllic neighborhood. I've been busy directing social awareness short film for the university but look out for some more Watching Patch adventures this summer.

Friday, May 16, 2014

((Speed of Sound)) Diary Part Three

Part Three. Post-Production.
Based on my therapist's suggestion, I went to Whidbey Island to go camping. My brother lent me all the camping gear I needed. I bought a magazine. It was a Discovery magazine with hammerhead sharks on the cover. I also brought some food and booze and a toothbrush. I drove out to the ferry and made the trip, about sixty miles from my house.
It started raining when I got to Whidbey Island. When I got to the national park where I was going to spend the night, the rain let up for a while, long enough for me to pitch a tent. Making the tent was pretty much slapstick comedy. There were too many parts. I wanted to make a simple teepee and get my nature on. 
I wondered off, along the ridge that overlooks the sound; solitary and aimless, feeling crazy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

((Speed of Sound)) Diary Part Two

Part Two. Pre-Production and Principle Photography.
"Thinking it over" often means you're either waiting for your intuition to appear or waiting to see if it changes. Saying "think" is misleading, since it isn't a rational process. If it were, someone might say "thinking it through," like it was a plan. In January 2013 I was thinking it over. Whether to make the movie David and I had been planning, Speed of Sound.
I was relying on David for psychological support. 16 speaking parts. 32 locations. 2 weeks. 65 pages of script. 70 scenes total. And I still thought feature films had to be made with expensive cameras I'd never seen before, with armies of people working on them, who spoke a secret Hollywood language that called clothespins C47's. David was the first person to encourage me to make a feature, and had experience acting and producing in them. He was a warm and creative friend. He was irreplaceable.
At the end of January, my intuition hadn't changed and I decided to make the film on our original schedule. I divided the work David would have done for separate people and approached two friends of mine, Chy Chi and Erica Karnes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

((Speed of Sound)) Diary Part One

It's just about the one year anniversary of shooting Speed of Sound, I'll be posting the year-long production diary here in three installments.

SPEED OF SOUND Production Diary by Brian Perkins
Part One. Before Pre-production.
I spent most of 2012 working on a project called You Poor Thing, which was supposed to be my first feature. It was a psychedelic monster movie that had some metaphysical ideas and film noir elements, and was going to be potentially so scrappy and lo-fi it could be shot on our phones. At first it was going to be shot in Milwaukee, then in Portland.
It was an eccentric project for sure. The script was a mess, a loosely-knitted patchwork quilt of diverse influences. Ghosts and monsters appeared in it, filmed with lots of color but also with a documentary quality. That's what I wanted, anyway. It was myself (in Seattle) and several others in Portland, a small group of creative people but inexperienced film producers.
When David Fetzer told me he was moving to Seattle, the news was fucking delightful. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Update 2

After some years blogging here, this blog is now the namesake of my new production company, Watching Patch Productions, LLC. New website coming late spring/early summer. I've been hired to do some social awareness shorts for the University here and its because of that that I'm now starting a video production company. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

At the Northwest Record & CD Convention

Found these at the Northwest Record & CD Convention at the Seattle Center yesterday. Above, a 45 from the Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr movie, Son of Dracula.

I'm a fan of the Sonny & Cher soundtracks.

The whole record sounds good until you get to Natalie Wood's song, which has been ruined on this record by its previous owner's overplaying of it.

From the back: "The story is a drama set in a lower middle-class neighborhood in Brooklyn about a man named Nunzio, in his late 20's with the intellect of a 13-year-old whose greatest goal in his dreamlike world was to be a superhero."

One of Delerue's best.

Badass Paperbacks

Found these paperbacks at Cinema Books on Roosevelt recently. Hammett is an old favorite. This Ivor Montagu one looks interesting. He covers all aspects of filmmaking, circa 1964. Champion ping pong player, Soviet spy during WWII, editor of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger (1926)... interesting guy. I like how they join an image of Étienne-Jules Marey's photogun with Antonioni and Eisenstein stills.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Luis Buñuel Makes Dry Martini

Happy Friday. Here's some interesting footage of Luis Buñuel making a dry martini. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Harry Smith's Heaven and Earth Magic 1957-1962

I'm finding the legend of Harry Smith increasingly appealing in our digital age. I like being able to watch rare films on youtube, but there's something romantic about Harry Smith, the bounty hunter of cultural artifacts, going to real locations and collecting objects, compiling Folk anthologies, and making animated films that seem to be made from a secret, ancient, image-based language.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Basketball Series 3.27.14

I don't do these anymore but I couldn't resist this one, since their doing the pose, kinda...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Update

Hey it's spring. Time for adventures. Time to get hooked on magic, investigate mysterious places, and navigate minefields of romance. Am I right?

Post-production on Speed of Sound is still going on. I'm happy with this new version and am not making deadlines like I was in 2013. However, the only reason I'm not saying it's almost complete is because I've said it before and I don't want to be like the boy who cried wolf. So I'm not saying it's almost done, because of that. I'll be submitting it to festivals starting next month.

I'll be posting here a memoir-like five part making-of "diary" on Speed of Sound in the coming weeks. Maybe because of my friendship with David Fetzer and how we were working on the film, and everything else that followed, I felt compelled to write this. It's been exactly a year since our Indiegogo campaign.

I've been starting some exciting new projects, including Ages Ago-Go, a big, weird concept you'll be hearing more about in the future.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Of Muppets and Men: the Making of the Muppet Show (1981)

A behind the scenes doc with the puppeteering involved in the making of Jim Henson's Muppet Show. Beautiful stuff.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Casual Introduction to Věra Chytilová

Hey there, how's it going? This is casual. A casual introduction to an important Czech filmmaker who passed away today, Věra Chytilová (1929-2014).

In the last month, I've been thinking and journaling about Věra Chytilová so much that I can spell her last name without checking the internet and sort of pronounce it. She was the Czech film director of "Daisies" and "Fruit of Paradise"-- two feature films with one foot in experimental film and one foot in narrative. 

To the American watcher, Chytilová is the maker of three available movies: Daisies (1966), Fruit of Paradise (1969), and the short film, Automat Svet (1966), which is part of the omnibus film, Pearls of the Deep. Since the rerelease of Daisies (beautifully done by Janus Films or whoever is responsible for that) and of it's soundtrack (by the wonderful Finders Keepers), its reputation has been growing in the last five years or so.

She made a lot more films than that, but I haven't been able to find them even in bootleg fashion. 

Daisies stands out. From descriptions of many of her unavailable films, Daisies remained an unusually bold film for the rest of her career, and many of its attributes were not consistent in her following films. In other words, if you've seen Daisies and want more, get in line. None of us here in the line are really expecting Daisies-calibre awesome shit, though. 

But there is Fruit of Paradise, a beguiling and at least equally unconventional feature she made after Daisies. Fruit of Paradise is for now only available from a Facets DVD, and it's print quality doesn't look great. Maybe its reputation will grow once Janus and Finders Keepers get their hands on it, please?

Fruit of Paradise is a great film but let's talk about Daisies. 

It's an explosion of creativity and inspiration. It's Chytilová's second feature film. Her first in color. Her husband, Jaroslav Kucera, was the cinematographer on it and was a writer on it. They were expecting their first child while making it. And I think that's interesting.  

Another major collaborator was Ester Krumbachová, who worked on the script and design---two big contributions on any film but especially Daisies, since the speeches were the only thing they kept from the script and much of the film plays out in beautifully designed tableaus. Krumbachová was a filmmaker, but primarily a costume designer who worked a bunch of times with Jan Nemec and also did Fruit of Paradise. She's a great, resourceful designer; the more I look at this work the more I admire it. She also co-wrote and designed Valerie and Her Week of Wonders---another amazing film with an amazing soundtrack released by Finders Keepers, and the design is one of the best things about it.

In my readings on Daisies, I haven't found anyone talking about Miroslav Hájek, who edited the film. He also edited Fruit of Paradise and a lot of other big Czech films from the 60's and 70's, like Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde, for instance. I think it's interesting because Daisies has a lot of razzle dazzle in the editing department. And both Daisies and Fruit of Paradise have Stan Brakhage-esque parts with flash edits and unconventional printing that help define them as experimental films. Which isn't to say Hájek is responsible for them, but it raises some interesting questions.

If you haven't seen Daisies, it's available bootleg-style on youtube multiple times, and lookin good on Criterion's Hulu page and DVD. 

It's a movie that benefits from multiple viewings. It also avoids easy categorization completely. Psychology feels mocked by the film, like consumerism and romantic relationships. So the traditional arch of storytelling, with one event leading to another while the characters learn about themselves and change, is thrown into Chytilová's bonfire. And yet something keeps Daisies from being angry. It magically stays buoyant and wonderful despite trashing everything. Maybe it's because it's so sexy, funny, and unpredictable. It's a dense 74 minutes.

Based on my amateur research, seems like we've got a couple of films bookending her available films to look forward to checking out. Her first feature, Something Different (1963), which Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote influenced Jacques Rivette's Out 1, and The Apple Game (1976), her first film after being banned from making films and the beginning of a more naturalistic style. She made a lot more films after that but its hard to find much info on them. People writing about Chytilová will refer to other things written about her which I can't find anywhere, including something written by Rivette. What I've been able to find was in Peter Hames expensive book The Czechoslovak New Wave, the liner notes of the record for Daisies, and the internet.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Grazie Zia (1968)

The above clip is from the bizarre psychological drama, Grazie Zia (1968). The soundtrack for this movie by Ennio Morricone is a cult favorite, and readers familiar with my soundtrack night dj-ing in Milwaukee might recognize the music @:43. This film is the source of the beyond sublime "Guerra e pace pollo e brace".

I finally saw the movie recently, from a bootleg-ish version from Scarecrow. It's a dissatisfying, sort of angry and disturbing movie about an incestuous relationship. It's full of great imagery though, as this clip attests. I think its probably even better if you know nothing about the context.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Page of Madness (1926)

This silent film always seemed like an anomaly to me, not fitting into historical groups or genres of silent film. I was reading about it recently and saw that the director made over 100 features, including Gate of Hell (1953) - which is streaming on Hulu's Criterion section. Also, Yasunari Kawabata wrote it, whose novels and short stories I've read and loved. If you've never seen "A Page of Madness" check it out sometime. It's never gotten a nice release or restoration so this youtube video really is as good as it gets nowadays.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Technicolor for your ears Part 9

Here's a ninth iteration of soundtracks and library music mixes. This one comes from various sources. You can hear VHS transfers, vinyl-rips, and CD-quality releases hobnobbing together in a volcanic explosion of cinematic sound. Enjoy!

1.  I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale - Guido and Maurizio De Angelis
2.  Run Cheetah Run - Nico Fidenco
3.  Celeste - Guy Pedersen
4.  Ah! Mon Cher Hector - Dani
5.  Watergate - Hugo Busoni
6.  Bumbling Along - Nino Nardini
7.  Capriccio - Piero Piccioni
8.  Motore A Ioni - Piero Umiliani
9.  The President is Gone - John Carpenter
10.  Éternels Indécis A - Paul Piot
11.  Les Levres Rouges - François de Roubaix
12.  A Blue Shadow - Gianni Oddi
13.  Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? - Bruno Nicolai
14.  Bree's Abandon (Take it Higher) - Michael Small
15.  Jazz Graphics No 3 - Derrick Mason
16.  Sei Donne per l'Assassino - Carlo Rustichelli
17.  Anche Si Voless I Lavorare - Ennio Morricone
18.  Alice au pays des syllogismes - Antoine Duhamel
19. Sililoquio - Gianni Ferrio
20.  Un Altro Mare - Ennio Morricone 

More Post-Production Adventures

More post-production adventures today as Elijah and I put finishing touches on the VFX for Speed of Sound, utilizing the tools of modern videography.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Finishing Line (1977)

Another terrifying British PSA, or public service announcement, about safety. This one might be the mightiest. It is bizarre, surrealistic, long (20 minutes), and excellent. 

But a warning: it's violent and scary. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Golgo 13 No. 1: The Impossible Hit (1989)

This is a weird artifact from my childhood. I bought this comic book while visiting family friends in the Upper Peninsula. I remember buying it with change. And it blew my mind while I sat in what I now remember as a haunted, Victorian mansion, but was probably just a slightly older, bigger house than ours. Now I can't help looking at it and thinking of Jean Pierre Mellville's Le Samouraï. I must have been remembering it, in a way, when years later I loved Mellville's film. 

The comic book format here is interesting because this is basically an advertisement for a Nintendo game, with gamer tips in the back. It looks like they took the original Japanese Manga-size pages and blew them up to comic size, and sold that as tie-in merchandise. This makes it both lame and cool. Lame because, it seems like a cheap way of going about it, in more than one way. Cool because it looks like an 80's bootleg comic version of Manga.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Can performing "I'm Hiding My Nightingale" from Kamasutra

Hey. So I have this German re-pressing of Irmin Schmidt's soundtrack to Kamasutra (Vollendung der Liebe) which I like to listen to now and again. This morning I woke up with one of its songs in my head, "I'm Hiding My Nightingale."

I looked it up on youtube and found the above video, featuring Schmidt playing with Malcolm Mooney-era Can. It doesn't feature them prominently, but its a great little window into this pseudo-documentary, which I don't think is available. It looks like a perfrect example of the half earnest art film, half cheapo exploitation flick hybrid that was really common then, and often had great soundtracks.

Check out those dance moves!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Update

Brrr. It's February and it feels like it. I know I'm from Wisconsin, but still. You adjust, and then you say "Brrr" again. 

The big winter update is that "Speed of Sound" is reworked. While holed up with the flu, watching Anthony Mann westerns all day long, I had a bunch of ideas. I thought I was done with the film back in November, but it was not so! Of course. 

I was eager to be done with it back then partly because I was stubbornly sticking to a crazy schedule drawn up by me and David Fetzer in the fall of 2012. I'm really excited about the changes--- 95 total (I'm a big list maker). We're still getting the effects done and this new version is still probably about a month out.

I've also been working often on a new feature script, and several shorts including PSA's. Spending a lot of time in the laboratory this winter, as it should be. I was thrilled to finally dust off my nice record player and put it up in the office. It's been great to get out all the soundtracks, waking up to the Electric Company theme, and having one less screen to look at if I want to listen to something. And sunny afternoons have been lovely with the squirrel disco ball.

Above, Anna Huckabay, who plays Dave's girlfriend, Kelly, in Speed of Sound, stops by.

Above, ye old faithful. Making music more mechanical and valuable, and making me more nerdy and happy.

Above, a wintry David dreams of tropical Wisconsin.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Action Speaks Louder Than Words: Anthony Mann Interview

Recently, while struck with the flu, I watched a bunch of Anthony Mann movies. I was revisiting films I was already familiar with and still really enjoying them, especially the westerns he made with James Stewart including Winchester '73 (the best of them) and The Naked Spur (my favorite). Came across this vintage British documentary about him, featuring a long-ish interview with Mann, above.

Watching a quadruple-feature of 50's westerns was odd and refreshing. It's interesting to note that all the celebrated Mann/Stewart films had mostly different teams making them, and were not all made at the same studio. They can be pretty different stylistically. And they're all really different from what I'm in the habit of watching these days, which is definitely not 50's westerns. I read somewhere that Kelly Reichardt's recent Night Moves was influenced by these films, it'll be interesting to see that one.