Monday, November 24, 2008

Trust the art, not the artist.

I've been telling everybody that Hide and Creep (my first feature, co-directed with Chuck Hartsell) is about the small Southern town where I grew up, and Interplanetary is about my (day job) workplace experiences as an adult.

But I've been wrong.

Hide and Creep is about where I grew up, and Interplanetary is about the stuff I watched on TV. Battlestar Galactica. Buck Rogers. Movies like Star Wars, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and John Carpenter's The Thing. And, most significantly, Star Trek.

Now, I wasn't totally wrong. There are plenty of Interplanetary bits informed by my Office Space-like professional life. But when you get down to it, Interplanetary is me trying to make my "Menagerie."

Wouldn't you know, it was my sister Somer who set me straight. I let her borrow a DVD of the Norway cut of Interplanetary, and she emailed me with her review. She hit the nail on the head during the first paragraph...

"I felt like I was reliving all of the Star Trek shows/Black Lagoon/sci-fi stuff we watched when we were younger!"

I mention all of this just because it amuses me that, after years of work on Interplanetary, I am still discovering new things about it.

So thanks for watching, Somer. And thanks to the cast and crew of Interplanetary for helping me unleash my inner Gene Roddenberry.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Norway Thursday.

As I mentioned in the last post, you can get the Norway Thursday Bergen recap from John's blog. To his notes on the day, I'll just add a few photos...

One of my favorite things about Norway this time of year is that it never really quite gets daylight. Bergen and Os are far enough north that the sun comes up around 8 a.m., hovers along the horizon, and sets around 4 p.m. I took this next photo around 12:45 p.m. local time. Notice how low the sun sits in the sky.

Anticipating cold, wet weather, I actually left my beloved Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers at home and wore a new pair of Gore-Tex hiking shoes while in Norway. Here are my shoes (and me) on the way down the funicular.

Finally, a reflected-from-above shot of John, Stacey, and me in the ferry boat on the way back to Os.

Stacey stayed in Thursday night, while Bjørn treated John, Jen, Stianpian, and I to a special private screening of Sex Galaxy at the local sports bar, walking distance from the WT fest community center. I gotta say, Sex Galaxy is a trip. Most of the movie consists of re-dubbed and re-edited public domain footage from old sci-fi movies. So the look is quite old-school, but the dialog is modern, as is the plot, which concerns a group of astronauts leaving a future Earth where pre-marital sex has been outlawed.

It was great seeing an off-beat movie in an intimate setting, and it gave us our first opportunity to hang out with Bjørn and Stianpian away from the relative craziness of festival central. The only downside was we missed the night's "big" screening, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. But Brooks is now available on DVD here in the States, so I'll Netflix it at some point.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

John covers Bergen.

I'm going to post some photos from our visit to Bergen, Norway, ASAP. In the meantime, please check out John's take on the city over at his food/travel blog, Cooking With Juan...

Monday, November 10, 2008

First day in Norway.

(Wednesday November 5, 2008)

For a week I've been meaning to email Bjørn, my contact at the Os film fest, to confirm our arrival time and his plan to send someone to pick us up at the airport. But I never got around to that email, so I'm a little nervous as to how we're going to make the 40-minute trip from the airport in Bergen, Norway, to the city of Os.

I'll worry about that later. Our first stop of the day is the airport in Copenhagen, Denmark. Before we land, the flight crew announces that Barack Obama is the new President-elect back in the States. Good for him. I am cautiously optimistic that Obama, being young and intelligent, might repair some of the damage caused by all of the old, stupid guys in Washington, D.C.

We run into a little trouble at the Copenhagen security check, due to a misunderstanding over some beverages purchased at the duty-free store back in the States. The problem is quickly resolved, as the ladies working security are actually polite and helpful. And they're very excited about Obama's election win. We talk politics with them for a while before moving on to wait for our flight to Norway. Everybody else we meet at the Copenhagen airport treats us like guests, not potential terrorists. Will airports in the States ever be that way again?

I actually get a little sleep on the short flight to Bergen. The "arrivals" side of the Bergen airport seems pretty small. There aren't many people in the area... except for a guy holding a "WT Os Film Festival" sign. Yes! Ole Bøe is here to pick us up. Actually, Ole is here for our luggage (he brought a grip truck!). Jan Christian (J.C.) will be taking Stacey, John, Jen, and I to Os in his Mercedes.

Picked up at the airport in a Mercedes. That's pretty serious rock star treatment as far as I'm concerned.

J.C. takes us on the "scenic" route into Os, and it is quite lovely. The tiny road winds through hills and mountains. And lots of trees. It reminded me of some areas Stacey and I saw when we visited Alaska. Talking to J.C., I realize that his English is excellent. As opposed to my non-existent Norwegian skills. We'll find out later that most folks in Norway are fluent English speakers.

J.C. drops us off at our hotel, one of only two in Os. I'm pleased to see that it isn't a generic Holiday Inn-style hotel, but more... I guess "cabin-style" is a good description. Stacey's and my room especially, with our own front door, beds in the loft, and separate bathroom/shower. I check the small TV -- two channels in English, a Norwegian-language news channel... then static. John later informs me that there is free wi-fi. Looks like the computer will be our in-room entertainment for the rest of our stay.

Take a few steps outside and the view is unbelievable. The weather is sunny today, a rarity for this part of Norway. Our hotel is right on the water (the shore of a fjord), and in the distance one can see a glacier and snow-capped mountains.

After long-awaited showers, we make the two-kilometer walk down the hill to the Os city center. Based on J.C.'s recommendation, we try Peppe's. It's a family pizza restaurant, sort of like Pizza Hut, but with more variety. Apparently in Norway, a pizza place can also sell burgers and Tex-Mex-inspired dishes. Woot.

From there, it's down the road and up a different hill to the Os community center, where most of the week's film festival action will take place. We meet Bjørn and several other members of the festival staff. And we get beers, Tuborg beer from Denmark. The evening kicks off with several Norwegian short films. The first two horror-themed shorts are particularly well-shot, and I can pick up something of the story from the visuals even though I don't get much out of the dialog.

Stacey and Jen head back to the hotel, while John and I stick around for the opening night feature, a mockumentary from the States called Let Others Suffer. I must admit, I find most mockumentaries lacking, especially after the genre-defining This Is Spinal Tap. But Let Others Suffer is entertaining for the most part, and I liked many of the performances, especially Caroline Hall's.

It's a little late, and it's been a very long day, so John and I say our goodbyes and make the walk back to the hotel.

Rough translation.

While I try to get caught up on Norway-related blogging, I thought any non-Norwegian-speakers out there might want to check out Google's English translation of the WT festival's official blog at...

Read the blog in its original language at, or convert it to the language of your choosing using Google Translate.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Audience choice.

I am very proud to announce that Interplanetary was awarded "Audience Choice" at the 2008 WT Film Festival in Os, Norway!

This has been such an incredible trip, and I have much blogging to do. Hopefully, I'll get a lot of writing done on the plane and post it when we get home Monday night. For now, though, I need to try to get a little sleep. We leave for the airport in four hours (4:30 a.m. local time).

Many thanks to the festival staff and all of the good people here who made our stay in Os so special.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Screening update.

The screening was great. Interplanetary went over really well with the good people of Os, Norway. More details later. In the meantime, here is a small, grainy photo of Interplanetary on the big screen...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Back to the future.

"I can't believe we're going back to Europe."

Stacey said that at the Birmingham airport, like she was Al Pacino in that Godfather sequel complaining about how they keep pulling him back in. But this Norway trip was mostly her idea. Hers and John's. Not that they had to twist my arm that much. Hide and Creep didn't really do much festival business (other than the awesome Sidewalk premiere), so it's cool that people are interested in Interplanetary already.

I'm writing this on the new MacBook Pro. We're a couple hours from Copenhagen, one of our layovers, and I think the rest of my gang (Stacey, John, and Jen) are asleep. It's weird. It's 11:29 p.m. CST, so I'm guessing the presidential election back home is over, but no news has reached our plane. Or if it has, it hasn't trickled back here to us poor saps flying coach. The in-flight TV is playing The Simpsons. I'll take that if we can't have live CNN. "Ooh... bacon!"

Self-portrait of me on the plane.

After my last international flight, I'm trying to maintain a better in-flight attitude. That flight was miserable, and I figure maybe I was to blame. This flight has been okay, I only have one big gripe -- the captain is so damn stingy when it comes to turning off the "seatbelt" light. I just don't get it. The ride isn't that bumpy. I get up to stretch my legs and get grief from one of the flight attendants. This particular attendant is kind of a dick... Oops. I guess that's two gripes.

This Simpsons episode is really good... Lisa is telling Dr. Nick how to perform heart surgery on Homer.

Anyways, that's where we are right now. I think after Copenhagen we go to the Bergen airport in Norway, and then there's a car ride to the city of Os. Or maybe a bus ride. We'll see.

I was up late several nights working on the Norway cut of Interplanetary. I finally got a Blu-ray disc made (more on that later), and it looks and sounds good, I think. I'm excited to see how it goes over with the good folks of Norway. Our screening is scheduled for Friday at 9:30 p.m. -- seems a pretty sweet slot, so maybe we'll get a good turnout.

Now the in-flight TV is showing a thing about the manufacture of Leatherman tools. Neat-o...