Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Monday, March 28, 2011

closing shop.

Decided it's time for a change, and a blog not named after an editing command seemed to be a good part of that. Join me over at Circle of Quality. Or don't. Either way, it's been fun. Intermittent fun, but fun nonetheless.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DJ Playlist: Golden Dawn, 27 March

Ida - This Must Be The Place
The Whitefield Brothers - Ntu
Bebel Gilberto - So Nice (Summer Samba)
El Rego et Ses Commandos - E Nan Mian Nuku (from Analog Africa - Legends of Benin)
Hot 8 Brass Band - Sexual Healing
Frightened Rabbit - Swim Til You Can't See Land
Ranil's Jungle Party - Mambo En Espana
Ebo Taylor - African Woman
Goblin - La Via Della Droga
Garage Monsters - Safari To Mumboomba
Nouvelle Vague - I Melt With You
El Timba - Descarga Bontempi
Bossa 70 - Here Come The Hiltons (from Peruvian Funk)
El Guincho - Antillas
Tom Waits - Jockey Full of Bourbon
La Sonora Cordobesa - El Sabrosito
T-Fire - Will of the People
Man … or Astro-man? - Nitrous Burn-Out
Lord Rhaburn - Disco Connection
Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm - Philly Dog
Sharon Jones - How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?
De Frank Professionals - Afe Ato Yen Bio (from Afro-Beat Airways)
Ondavaga - Mambeado
Sugar - Believe What You're Saying
Beirut - Scenic World
Hedzoleh - Kaa Ye Oyai (Don't Be In A Hurry)
Seu Jorge - Life On Mars?
Bill Fox - I'll Give It Away
Orchestre Polyrhythmo de Cotonou - Se Tche We Djo Mon
Jay Mitchell and the Mitchellites - I am the Man For You Baby
John Barry - Space March (Capsule In Space)
Sun Ra and the Blues Project - Batman
Sweet Talks - Eyi Su Ngaangaa
Q And Not U - Soft Pyramids
Unrest - Yes She Is My Skinhead Girl
Cedric Im Brooks - Shaft
Armando Sciascia - Circuito Chiuso (from Psych Funk 101)
Jacques Dutronc - L'aventurier
Wareika Hill Sounds - Coconut Head Special
The Fall - The Classical
Explosions in the Sky - First Breath After Coma
Evolutionary Control Committee - By The Time I Get To Arizona (whipped cream mix)
My Bloody Valentine - Map Ref 41 N 93 W

(break - performance by Forest Spirits)

Bob Wills - Bring It Down To My House
Oluko Umo - Praise Jah
Dry Bread - Words To My Song
Tallest Man on Earth - Graceland
Kicking Giant - She's Real (Version)
Cassimbas Negras - Bumburumbumbum
First Aid Kit - Hard Believer
Crooked Fingers - New Drink For The Old Drunk
Petra Haden - God Only Knows
Ratatat - El Pico
John Coltrane - Locomotion
Lucille Spann - Woman's Lib
Johnny Thunders - You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory
Buddha On The Moon - 2-Star Motel
Ozzie Hall - Take Five
Cyril Diaz and His Orchestra - Taboo
Glasser - Home
David Byrne/Brian Eno - Home
Alliace Makiedi - Passeio Pour Luanda
Asei Kobayashi & Micky Yoshino - Oriental Melon Man (from Hausu)
Lord Rhaburn - More Love Reggae
Syl Johnson - Dresses Too Short
The Clash - Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
Anibal Velasquez y su Conjunto - Santo Amor
The Meters - Look-Ka Py Py
Willie Williams - Detroit Blues
Gilberto Gil - Bat Macumba
The Dismemberment Plan - Back and Forth
The Dirtbombs - I'm Through With White Girls
Merle Haggard - I Think I'll Just Sit Here & Drink
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
Sam Cooke - Medley - It's All Right - For Sentimental Reasons
The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So the screenplay for THE SOCIAL NETWORK is now available on its website. It's a must-read for screenwriters, directors, and producers alike. I'm not sure that any read this blog, but I press on, regardless!

One of the interesting things about it, on a first glance, is how minimal it is. Pages and pages of only dialogue. Very few parentheticals. Most descriptions brief as possible. The inter-cutting of the film feels minimized during the script; although it's certainly indicated, it doesn't overwhelm the reader. (I'd have to see it again to see how different it is.)

It's a common mistake for screenwriters to overwrite descriptions, but here's a great illustration of why you don't need to. (I mean, if you're a genius and can write Sorkin-esque dialogue.)

It's also an interesting exercise for directors. Because the script is so minimal, it's quite easy to see, on reading, the TV version of it, filmed by someone much less ambitious (and/or on a more grueling schedule, let's be fair). Fincher makes a lot of interesting choices. I'd have to look again and count, but I'm pretty sure he uses more camera setups to establish a busload of girls coming in to the final club party at the start than he does during the entire multi-page opening dialogue scene between Mark and Erica.

(And read that again! Jesus! What an intricate piece of dialogue writing!)

I'm not mentioning this in particular to advance a thesis; I'm mentioning it because it's not a choice I'd have made, I don't think; yet watching the film, it really works. It would probably make a great master class for any director to read a scene from this screenplay, shot list it, then watch the scene, and repeat for the entire movie.

(We did this for the opening scene in PULP FICTION at South Seas; every single person made the shot list more complicated than Tarantino did.)

As an aside, as well, in a culture that venerates the writer-director, it's great to see the talents of a writer at the top of his game and a director at the top of his game coming together. Usually when you see a script of a film that's not by a writer-director, there's major variations from the final product. But from the first 30-some pages (which, truth in advertising, is all I've read thus far, having scanned the rest), you can see how closely Fincher hewed to the text, whilst putting a directorial signature on it that is unmistakable on a second viewing.

As for producers: the script makes it abundantly clear that, a few rowing scenes aside, the script's basically 162 pages of people talking. Which is supposed to be commercial death, blah blah blah.

And yet: as you may have heard, it's both done well at the box office and garnered heaps of awards.

So maybe talking isn't all bad, huh?

Monday, January 10, 2011

some quick notes on a culture of violence

In the face of the horrific shooting in Tucson, a consensus seems to quickly emerge that the violent rhetoric of the right-wing should be blamed, excoriated, and eliminated. Keith Olbermann's impassioned monologue is as good of an exemplar as anything.

Before I go any farther, some things I should make clear:

- what happened was, as I stated, horrific, and my heart goes out to everybody involved.
- in general, I think the Tea Party are to be abhorred and shunned, and have thought that well before this shooting.
- violent rhetoric has no place in politics.

What is gradually becoming obvious, however, are the parallels to other shootings. I'm not talking about political assassinations here, but rather, school shootings. Such as the Virginia Tech massacre, where the film OLDBOY was linked to the killer. Or Columbine, where the killer's interests in music and video games were chronicled at great length in the days after, as were the spurious parallels to THE BASKETBALL DIARIES. Or the myriad cases connected to NATURAL BORN KILLERS.

Here's the thing. If you think violent imagery in one part of popular culture can cause violence, you have to think that elsewhere as well. And this is what I'm struggling with - how can I freely consume violent media on the one hand and fight strenuously for my belief that such work is important and can and should be freely available to consenting adults, while using this event to condemn the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party?

Maybe there's a way, but I can't do it. Putting crosshairs on a map was wrong when they did it, it's wrong now, but any causal relationship is as much of a stretch as blaming OLDBOY for the dead at Virgina Tech. From early reports, the Giffords shooting was not the act of an organized right-wing militia, but the act of someone who was seriously mentally disturbed, to the point where he wasn't allowed to return to his college because of mental health concerns.

And if there's a massive outcry that goes on now, it should be over this:
a. how is it so easy for people who are mentally ill to get firearms?
b. how can we reach out to the mentally ill to prevent these types of tragedies before it's too late?

Because, regardless of whether or not the extreme right-wing turns down their rhetoric -

- and I believe that as responsible human beings, they should, and should have well before this, because the difference between politics and creative works is that, by and large, politics involves real-life human beings and creative works do not -

but regardless, there will be another shooting. And maybe next time, the person who does it is inspired by, say, KICK-ASS, or I SAW THE DEVIL. Or the music of Grinderman. Or The Communist Manifesto (which some commenters have claimed is an influence on the Giffords shooter). Or whatever else. And make no doubt about it - the Tea Party will seize upon this with all the righteous fury their rhetoric is notorious for, and amplify it into a noisy inferno of a witch-hunt. An inferno to which all those who are using this assassination attempt as a kudgel against the Tea Party are currently supplying the kindling for.

And meanwhile, the next shooter is out there, and the one after that, and mental illness goes ignored as a topic of serious discussion. And until we make the discussion about that, instead of our favorite cultural punching bag, we are complicit, ever so slightly, but still.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

the social marketing network

I have a lot on my mind, so let's start with something simple: McDonald's has a Twitter account.

I'm not going to link to it, but I will explain why I know it: they promoted a hash tag, #whats4breakfast, which was trending on Twitter yesterday.

(Long boring explanation for the Twitter-illiterate - hash tags are phrased starting with the hash tag that are used to identify threads across different Twitter accounts. Often they are used for people discussing a TV show - i.e. #Terriers or #Community - or for jokes or other memes that develop. And now, they are used for advertising.)

A few things that surprised me about McDonald's Twitter account:
1. It's reasonably clever. I mean, it's not clever enough for me to recommend, but it's better than I expected.
2. It's participatory. Somebody's on there full time, responding to every query somebody has about McDonald's new (redacted product that they're selling I won't help market further.)
3. 76,879 people (as of this writing) have asked to be directly marketed to by McDonald's.

Which is kind of weird to me, but I guess they do give aways and things, so maybe it makes sense, right?

The problem, which this is hardly unique or especially symptomatic of, is this:

a. social networking is now attempting to serve both its original intended purpose (connecting friends, family, and strangers) and its adopted purpose (a marketing tool for getting friends, family, and strangers to buy things).
b. these two purposes have different, and incompatible, goals.
c. when two purposes come into conflict, the one with more money behind it almost always wins.

I start with McDonald's because it's easy, but it's not fair. The problem is at all levels, much more widespread, much more pervasive.

For example: when I signed up to Facebook, I listed that I was a fan of various films, tv shows, bands, and so on. Why? The usual conscious reasons of wanting to share things I liked with other people, either so they could find common ground or discover new awesome things they weren't aware of.

In one of the 84,256 updates Facebook launched, they converted the "Fan" functionality to "Like", and made it so everything you liked converted to a page. And now, everything you "Like" has the ability to market to you.

Over December and January, I have discovered there are approximately 83 squintillion top ten/twenty lists being made in the world. I have discovered this because every single one of them has been posted by one of the bands, movies, record labels, or DVD labels I "like".

And I do like them. I just don't want them to be marketed to me everytime some guy in Portugal reckons that their album was the 17th best baile-funk album to come out on label that starts with "Q", or when Quentin Tarantino puts it on the same list as fucking KNIGHT AND DAY as one of his top twenty movies of the year.

So yesterday I decided to clean up my Facebook feed, so instead of seeing 23 posts about movies and bands and 2 posts from friends - which, given that I have friends all over the globe that Facebook was a great way to stay in casual touch with, I'd see more posts from friends.

And when I de-liked one movie, directed by one of my Facebook friends, that several of my Facebook friends worked on, that is a film I like, but it's a film I hear about several times a week, that I have no doubt I will hear any significant news about whether or not I subscribe to its feed -

- ten minutes later, I received a request to "Like" that film from the director.

I gave in, I liked it again. Because I like the director. I don't want to be rude to him. But now I am just hiding all the posts by that film from my wall. (At least, until Facebook removes that functionality.)

Marketing vs. friendship, Facebook actions as a social obligation. I've seen THE SOCIAL NETWORK twice now, and "Mark Zuckerberg" (whose name I put in quotes because I doubt the veracity of a single thing in that movie, other than the existence of Facebook, but anyway) says at one point - at several points - he doesn't want to monetize Facebook because Facebook has something else. Facebook is cool. And when you monetize it, you lose that.

Now, Facebook has monetized already in certain ways. But my various friends who are marketing their films, bands, and such aren't using Facebook in that monetized way - they're just using it as a marketing tool.

One that, I believe, is about to completely crater in terms of efficacy.


In the past two years, the discussion around independent film (and undoubtedly many other things, but I try to speak of what I know, so bear with me) has increasingly been around using social media, building audiences, creating a Web presence for your film, and so on. For instance, the top two resolutions for Filmmaker Magazine's New Year's Resolutions For Filmmakers both involve using social media. It's only at #3 that they start getting into things like watching or making films. Several people have positioned themselves as experts in the field, producing books, giving seminars, writing blogs, and generally talking about how amazing the future is when you crowdsource, leverage your social networks, create viral marketing opportunities ....


That's all great, but how about, you know, making a decent film?

Actually, I take that back: that's NOT all great. When everybody communicates with an ulterior motive, and nobody can be trusted, the value of that social connection as a "friend" is diminished. They're no longer a friend, they're a target market that you're trying to leverage, they're an opportunity for viral marketing you're trying to engage, they're a statistic on a Facebook page that can be used for ... well, I don't know what, exactly.

Working in the "creative industry" (whatever the hell that means), I have lots of friends who are doing the same, and trying to create their own opportunities. And, generally, I want to support them to the utmost of my abilities. And I don't mean to be dismissive of people marketing their own work.

Because it's hard. It's hard to get people to pay attention to good creative work of any ambition. That's one reason I'm a tireless advocate of stuff that I love. I know how hard people work to get it out there, and I think, for instance, that Glasser should be just as popular as Bjork, that Ben Marcus should be as widely read as David Foster Wallace, that lots of people would live Nigerian disco-funk if they ever heard it, that BEST WORST MOVIE can touch as many hearts as SPELLBOUND, and so on. I'm not delusional - I don't expect to live in a world where Richard Powers is more widely read than John Grisham or where Superchunk sells out stadiums. And I don't particularly want that. I just want people who have compatible tastes with me to get as much joy from things as I do.

But the line between sharing of passion and the marketing of creative works is a near-intangible divide, and once friendship becomes involved, it gets completely paved over. Can you trust my opinion of, say, the film THERE ONCE WAS AN ISLAND if you know that I know several of the people involved with it? Should you? I hope you do: it's an excellent documentary about an important issue told in a human way.

But you, and you, and you, and especially you have your own projects, and your own friends' projects. They can't all be good. Can they?

And even if they are, do I really want to hear about them every day? Because the key to being noticed is making more noise than every other person. But that just produces a scenario where, in turn, escalating amounts of noise must be produced in order to be noticed. And soon, we are drowning in noise, and the hundreds of posts about band x are lost amongst the thousands of posts about film y, and are soon to be lost amongst the tens of thousands of posts about abstract sculpture z.

(Okay, it's unlikely that abstract sculpture would get that much publicity, but without dreams, what are we?)

This is what happened with MySpace, which was once, in long distant memory, a way for humans to create connections and is now seemingly exclusively used by bands for marketing. And, from where I sit, this is what's about to happen with Facebook and Twitter.

And everyone of us who uses them as marketing tools are hastening this turn of events.


And then, of course, there's this: I have my own projects, and have to reconcile my preferences about usage of social media with not just my basic sustenance, but doing justice to those projects.

To name the big elephant in the room: the film I wrote and directed, JAKE, will be coming out, hopefully, finally, in 2011. (You may have not heard me mention it for a while, and wonder what's going on. Short story: we're working on it.)

Apart from self-serving goals, of which there are undoubtedly many, it's important for me to do justice to the hard and good work that so many people involved with the project put into it. But how do I do that without falling into so many of the traps I've outlined here?

The pragmatic answer that the experts would tell me would be to refine my social media voice to provide a defined valued proposition to my "market", or whatever. But, as I've already hammered into the ground, to me they aren't a market - they're people.

And all I want to do, in terms of social media, is be myself. Share what I love, try to connect with people, maybe get a few laughs. Treat people like I want to be treated.

And as I try to balance things, ultimately I will fail, and undoubtedly annoy some of those who are my Facebook friends (and perhaps my real friends). One thing I've learned over the years is that no matter what you say on the Internet, someone can and will, silently or publicly, judge you in a way you can never anticipate.

But I would like to think that, if we try hard enough, we can remember we're not just talking to a target market.

We're talking to human beings.

(Except for when we talk to McDonald's over Twitter. In that case, I have no fucking idea what we're talking to.)