Tag Archives: filmmaking

More DRIFT news!

DRIFT movie poster


DRIFT will have its World Premiere this weekend, at Washington, DC’s REEL Independent Film Festival & Extravaganza! Check the schedule for Saturday and Sunday screening times!

The Chicago Premiere and Press Screening will take place next month, on November 21, at the fantastic Portage Theater.

Visit DriftFilm.com for the latest updates!

(Poster design by Tim Swezy. Photography by Joshua Lopatin.)


“Sita Sings the Blues” Free to Watch Online; Donations accepted

Opening credits of Paley's "Sita Sings the Blues"

After she spent three years working on her film, animator Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues could not be released, due to licensing issues with music used throughout the piece. It’s now available online; Paley ended up paying the whopping $50,000 in copyright fees by way of a loan, which now remains largely unrepaid.

You can read more about Paley’s copyright struggle, and hear her thoughts on our “permission culture,” at QuestionCopyright.org (where you can also donate to help repay the loan).

You can watch/download Paley’s entire film online at Thirteen.org.

How Much Straight-Up CRAZY Can Fit Into This Film?!

Un-fucking-believable. Here’s some face-melting news:

Oscar nominee Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny and Udo Kier have signed on to Werner Herzog and David Lynch’s first collaboration, the psychological horror tale My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.


I made a general representational graphic of what I’m already expecting out of the final product (certainly no less):


[Screen Daily] article found through [FILMDRUNK]

Upcoming Screening Next Tues. 2/3/09: Airline to Barrington (Premiere)

Airline to Barrington

Next Tuesday: February 3, 2009
1328 W. Morse Ave. (1 blk. East of Morse Red Line)
@ 7PM (Part One begins promptly @ 7:15)

The film will be presented in two parts (TRT of each is approx. 1 hr. 20 mins) with a short break in between.


The World Premiere, HD screening of AIRLINE TO BARRINGTON. A feature length, documentary-style music performance film, featuring:

An Evening with Jeff Tweedy and the Old Town School Wilco Ensemble.
The 3rd Living Room Charity Show Performance from Jan. 12, 2008 (for the Letters to Santa program).

Directed & Edited by: Jim Vendiola
Cinematography: Jim Summers / Fletcher & Jim Vendiola
Location Sound: Chandler Coyle
Color Correction: Elliot Rudmann / Nolo Digital Film, Chicago
Add’l Post Production Finishing: Gary Adcock / Studio 37, Chicago

Preview Clips (available thru 2/3/09):

Click to view teaser*

[*note: I cut this trailer from our raw footage back in March ’08. The mis-matched coloration between shots does NOT reflect the mastering work done later, by our friends at Nolo Digital + Studio 37.]

"Thanks I Get"

Click to view "The Thanks I Get"

Our Fallen Spacemen (2006)

click image to view short film* (11:53)

Our Fallen Spacemen is a documentary short I made in 2006. It captures the methods and ideas behind a brief yet thought-provoking and widely seen public art occurrence, created by the late-night El-train rider ARD.

His three-hundred-sixty “Our Fallen Spacemen” posters, which appeared unexpectedly on Chicago’s Brown Line from May ’05 through January ’06, emphasize the potential obscurity of certain corners of American history by acting as small reminders of each individual who has died within our NASA program.

The film was commissioned by Chicago NFP film producers, Split Pillow, and premiered in 2006 as part of Volume 1 of their now-annual omnibus documentary film series, “Chicago 360.”

“Our Fallen Spacemen” has also screened at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Facets Cinematheque, Chicago Filipino American Film Festival, and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.

For a larger version, visit: http://tinyurl.com/fallenspacemen

Screen Magazine on Chicago 360, v.1

[*I’m currently having embedding issues, but the above image will take you to the Vimeo page.]

Mr. Lonely: Fargo’s Mike Yanagita

Mainstream auteurs Joel & Ethan Coen recurrently spin their own unconventional brand of crime story: skillfully calculated meditations — both farcical and bleak — on the flawed logic of unlawful scams, and the sublime human catastrophe that results. The characters responsible for these egoistic and deceptive acts are victims of their own fallibility, and usually have to endure the messy repercussions.

The Coens’ minor characters can and will fail, too. Perhaps my favorite example involves the memorable if puzzling inclusion of Mike Yanagita (Steve Park), a fidgety Japanese-American Minnesotan, in 1996’s Academy Award-winning Fargo. His brief involvement seems superfluous and strange at first; some may wonder if he exists merely for comic relief. But it’s his set up and payoff that indirectly though finally leads our protagonist Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) to her answers and the film’s conclusion.


During a terribly uncomfortable reunion between old schoolmates Gunderson and Yanagita, we learn (amidst awkward passes made by Mike) that he’s a recent widower. He has lost his wife, a third schoolmate named Linda Cooksey, to leukemia. This sets a morose tone, with Mike then pondering his romantic intentions behind the get-together with a married and pregnant Marge. Realizing the whole thing was hopelessly misguided, he breaks down, pathetically confessing “I’m so lonely!”

Occurring rather late in the film with no obvious connection to the main plot, the scene is cruelly hysterical but seems as tangential and random to the viewer as it does to our protagonist. However, the following day Marge learns the truth by phone, from a fourth schoolmate: Mike’s marriage to Linda and her subsequent illness, suffering and death are all complete fabrications; in truth Mike has psychiatric problems, and lives with his parents.

Upon this entirely unexpected discovery, Marge simply replies, “Oh, geez. Geez, well geez. That’s a surprise.” An appropriately understated response, but she resultantly becomes aware that perhaps her Midwestern, inherently good-natured and trusting tradition has betrayed her, rendered her a bit gullible. Ironically it was she who, in an earlier scene, politely called to question her deputy’s sloppy police work regarding auto dealer plates. She then traces the plates to the Gustafson’s Motors dealership in Minneapolis, where executive sales manager Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) initially eludes any potential suspicions from the investigating Marge, despite his strange behavior.

On a new hunch, after Mike Yanagita’s ruses prompt her to reevaluate the details of her investigation, Marge returns to the Minneapolis dealership. Her mere reappearance and brief follow-up with a guilty Jerry Lundegaard is enough to drive him to erratic, desperate measures. After previously avoiding any implication, this time Jerry gives himself away by fleeing during Marge’s questioning.

This chain of events, which effectively leads us to the film’s conclusion, is informed by the shred of doubt triggered in Marge, by her brief night out with Mike Yanagita.

Upcoming Screening, 1/14: The Christians (2008)

Stephen Cone’s indie drama/thriller The Christians screens this Wednesday at the Gene Siskel Center @ 8pm. It was made in Chicago, and produced by the local NFP filmmaking organization, Split Pillow.

The filmmaker and producers will be present for a Q&A following the show.

View the trailer:

The Christians Official Site