Monday, April 18, 2011

The Film Mom at the film festival

I attended and volunteered for the Sunscreen Film Festival this past weekend and much to my surprise, the films I did get to see, weren't as interesting as prior years. But I didn't get to many. Our daughter Blair The Moviechic actually made very good connections at the Sunscreen Film Festival 2 years ago and has since worked for Harbinger Pictures/Dreamworks on "The Help."

She did all the hard work, networking, staying in touch and landing the job. It's not an easy business to break into if you are timid. Blair is not. She is constantly meeting new people in various aspects of the industry and trying new jobs and braved moving to make it happen. Her short film, "Relative Eternity" will be entered into festivals in the latter part of 2011 and 2012.

So I began to ponder what we learned from our earlier research of film schools, UCLA and USC. They stress that the filmmaker's main job is to tell a great story. Many film hopefuls are not writers but visionaries. Like many parents, I thought film school were focused on the technical aspects of production, camera technique, special effects, but in truth, those processes don't mean a thing if you don't have a solid marketable story and that's where the hard work comes in!

Take the block of short films I had the chance to view this weekend, I disappointed at the "lack" of conclusion in many of the comedy shorts. I was spoiled by the quality I saw 2 years ago. The films I saw this year reminded me of the "rushed" but talented films of the "48 Hour Film Competition" we crewed as volunteers for Blair's production. It's understandable that a 48 Hour project would have a less than perfect story, but a festival entry in my view, has to be more.

Now, I do appreciate the filmmaking process and heart that goes behind the shortest of films, but I feel the tweaks these films needed would likely have been stressed through several viewings by family and friends. Afterall, we all spend money to watch entertainment and some quality feedback would go along way in making a promising movie a great short.

The take away for me:
  • Lottery stories are overdone and I don't challenge anyone to prove me wrong!
  • Don't bring a baby/cute kid or dog into a story without telling us where they went?
  • I don't like dance remixes and I definitely don't like movie remixes. Example: one story was basically the "pina cola song" in a non-musical video with few scenes changed around.
  • Don't go high quality on the intro if the story doesn't match. I was swept away by the opening of one film only to be bored by the final product.
  • Do make sure you have good sound quality. My favorite film was hard to hear.
Ok, I'm just a fan of films, so give me stories to rave about and I'll glad do so.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kindle vs. Nook sales

I am very new to e-publishing. My Nook sales over the last 10 weeks are about 91 total sales and Kindle is only 3?

Now in fairness to Kindle, I just got started a couple of weeks ago. I do know that I can only in list 2 categories for Kindle searches and the Nook I can list in 5 categories, so the opportunities to be found are greater on the Nook. I have to say, this is the most exciting time to be a writer. My nephew, Erik Williams, is doing fabulous with the various short stories and novels he sells. He is really my inspiration. Please look for the link to his blog "Drunken Monkeys and Angry Penguins" to learn more.

What I am now preparing to do is determine my best strategies to write more. I am much disciplined in my sales and marketing job. Now I need to focus the limited spare time I have to write. Since I write in both fiction and non-fiction genres, I am trying to determine how to reach both audiences.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Visiting the Moviechic

Blair and Aries Spears of Mad TV
Just got back from Los Angeles and visiting our film maker daughter, Blair. We stayed at her place for a few days while she spent the first part of the week house sitting at the opposite end of the city. We love LA and I think we helped the economy by eating out and parking!
  1. Here's an overview: Got in on Friday evening around midnight 3/26 and had a late snack at Norms somewhere in South LA, a local diner/dive, but not the Guy Fieri kind. Saturday hubby had to go to Hooters to watch the Gators. The Burbank Hooters has a Gator alum section, so we had a good time, though the Gator's lost. Bummer. We later went to the Bookstar on Ventura which is an old movie theatre that Barnes and Noble has converted to a bookstore. Loved it! I always open my book on the Nook sample display.
  2. Sunday we slept in, we were time-challenged from the 3 hour difference. We all had pedicures in the UCLA area and just relaxed. Blair and I had manicures as well. There is place called Top Shoes that is in the college area that has great deals on shoes, so this was my 2nd annual visit to the store. :) Later we went to The Ivy and had a late brunch. We were cautious of where to park and read all the signs before we got out and walked to the restaurant. But we still ended up with a $65 ticket, though we don't know why?
  3. Monday was an early morning at "The Price's Right." We were to be there at 8:30 am. We parked at The Grove shopping mall around 7 am, a beautiful center, but expensive. We didn't think to get validation at one of the stores and spent $24 to park. It took 3 to 4 hours for all potential contestant to get interviewed. We didn't make the cut, but regardless, it would go much faster if they processed everyone as they arrived. It was fun to watch and I would go again someday if they sped up the procedures. We met a lady who had made it to the Showcase Showdown the week prior and lost. Contestants aren't allowed to play again for 10 years, but her husband was there to try out. We ate later at Maria's Italian and I was bummed they were out of eggplant, so I wasn't in the mood to have more than a few meatballs and a side salad.
  4. Tuesday we moved into the Best Western on Sunset and loved the nearby restaurants and comedy clubs in walking distance. We decided to go to Rodeo Dr. during the morning and walk around. I was looking for a shop I had gone to before, but it had moved. So we treated ourselves to The Blvd restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire and noshed on some delightful breads and Blair had the Sea Bass and Tom and I had salads. YUM! That evening we walked to the LePetit Four and had a beautiful cool evening dining outside as the they surrounded the tables in towering heaters. I had a Cobb salad and a wonderful layered apple dessert and coffee. Tom and Blair had ?? I don't remember. We strolled to Book Soup and glanced at the offerings. Loved the design of the store. It has its own unique system of categorizing the books.
  5. Wednesday was Blair's day to get her hair colored and cut, Tom also got a cut as I sat and read "The Help" on my Kindle. Since Blair's hair was an hour process, Tom and I strolled and got coffee. All the Starbucks and Coffee Bean's in LA are just packed with electronically-focused patrons sipping and surfing the web. We ate at the Saddle Ranch which Blair tells us will be featured in a reality show and we went down the street afterward to Tom Arnold's gig at the Laugh Factory and also saw Aries Spears of Mad TV and (well, just Max Amini, but I gotten give him a plug). Anyway, we sat in the front row and Blair is younger looking than her 20s, so it was interesting to say the least. Naturally, we got picked on for bringing our kid to the show and naturally Blair was the center of many of Aries jokes, as he made her well aware of how we brought her into the world. It was all good fun and fully expected. Afterward we walked to Mel's Diner for a milkshake nightcap before heading back to the hotel. The Best Western has breakfast included in the hotel offerings, so we started our day with coffee, fruit and cereal each morning.
  6. Thursday we went to the Craig Ferguson show and that was less time consuming than The Price's Right. We parked at The Grove again, but smartly got our parking validated, which brought the cost down to $10. Paul Giamatti was Ferguson's guest, promoting his new movie "Win-Win." I am a big Giamatti fan, so it was a treat. I was also on a mission to deliver a gift to Ferguson that my 75 year old mother wanted him to have. I wasn't able to accomplish an interaction with the Scot, so I left it in the studio, hoping he would receive it. My mother is feature on Youtube segment: "Nana Loves Craig." She has a major major MAJOR crush on Craig Ferguson. Thursday night we went to Casa Bianca with Blair's friends the Yuan twins (currently doing a stint on "Rules of Engagement") and Frank (the a television show editer). We enjoyed anti-pasta salad, pizza and cannolis. It was so nice to meet some of our daughter's friends. They are all so helpful and generous. The twins are making a slasher short film, Blair has just begun editing her dramatic short that Frank is also producing and they are all looking for projects for the future. It's truly a project-based business.
  7. Friday we moved out of the Best Western and went to the Urth Cafe for lunch. The only celebrity sighting we had was Chris Farley's brother (who was in line with us). What great food!! I had a chicken curry sandwich that was my favorite meal of the trip. We then went to the Landmark Theater to see "Win-Win." LA movie theater's rock! I just loved picking out our seats before going in and the cleanliness of the theatre, the sound quality and comfortable seats. The movie was great and afterward we drove to the Santa Monica Pier for our final evening in California. We ate a Bubba Gump's since most of the pier restaurants were closing. Afterward, we went to Blair's for a few hours of napping before our morning flight Saturday. We had time to sleep on the flight. Now we're home and back to work. We miss our daughter, but we'll be back soon! We still didn't hike to the Hollywood sign or catch any plays and of course, we'll have to go out when Blair's film "Relative Eternity" is released!