Friday, November 12, 2010

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

As some of you know, I am in pre production of my new feature film, a low-budget independent musical.

You may be asking, "Low-budget independent musical? Do they even make those?" Well, it turns out that they do, and successfully so.

Independent filmmaker Damien Chazelle's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is such a movie. After a run on the international festival circuit, this film is now playing at Cinema Village in NYC. If you're in the NYC area this weekend come on out and support independent filmmaking! Damien will be there for a Q&A on Saturday.

And if you can't get enough indie musicals, also check out!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Movies We Like: Sans Dialogue

Of course the birth of comedy filmmaking is rooted in silent cinema, which relied on pure visuals to tell a story and create hilarious comedy.

There are several contemporary short comedy films out there that emulate silent classics.  Ones we like include Kevin Maher and Casimir Nozkowski’s silent homage Silas and Mange...

stunt-man turned Buster Keaton fan Cliff Cronan’s The Lucky Penny...

...and from one of our earliest shows, the very first collaboration between Iron Mule legends Jay Stern and M. Sweeney Lawless, Suffer the Little Children.

But you don’t have to just copy Buster Keaton to make a comedy without dialogue.  Animated films do this all the time.  Below are some short films that prove that good ideas and good comedy can be made without people shouting one-liners and saying funny things in words.

Flowerpot, from Austin, TX filmmaker Steve Collins.

flowerpot - watch more funny videos

Any movie by Hotdogboy, our favorite Canadian short comedy comedy film duo.

The Modern Daydreams films by Mitchell Rose are simply beautiful and also funny.

Jay Stern and M. Sweeney Lawless’ Turkey Shoot features the first appearance of Iron Mule regular Ramona Floyd who later became one of our producers.  Not using dialogue made it much easier to mask the fact that this film was shot entirely in Central Park.

Do you know of some good short comedy films (non-animated) that are dialogue-free?  Leave a link in comment section.

Notes from our November 6th screening

Welcome, intrepid Iron Mule followers!  Despite a few technical difficulties, the show did in fact go on last Saturday night, as hosts Jay Stern and Victor Varnado led an enthusiastic crowd through yet another fun-filled evening of short comedy films that at least one audience member described as, "intimate."  We're taking that as a compliment.

Running the show from a jerry-rigged laptop, Jay shared the trailer to his currently-developing feature film, "The Adventures of Paul and Marian," a romantic comedy musical adventure (if you missed the show, you can catch the trailer here).  Then, due to a last-minute cancellation, Jay & Victor solicitated material from the audience, to fill the time left by the missing film.  Unfortunately, nobody had come prepared!  Note to filmmakers: always bring a reel with you when out on the town, as you never know when the hosts of whatever you're watching may ask for, say, a comedic film under 10 minutes.

Guest Judge Ioli Andreadi with Jay and Victor
Continuing the program in earnest, Aaron Hughes was back with another pixilated film, "Strangers," about flowers coming out of strange places and the perils of smoking.  Aaron and frequent star Maori (previously of "Maori's Morning") talked a little bit about the process of shooting one of these curious films and how to make a person appear to fly out of screen.

interviewing Aaron and Maori
Jay then introduced a block of "Foreign" films; one from Romania, one from France, and one from a Seattle ex-pat.  "The Scream," from returning Romanian filmmaker Mirel Bran, features some unusual lessons about love and outdoor defecation.  From the acclaimed animation school in Paris, Gobelins l'Ecole de l'Image, we presented Oktapodi, a high-paced romp through an idealised Greek town following two octapi on the run from a hatchet-wielding butcher.  And rounding out the block, Iron Mule regular Dale Goodson presented the latest in his Man Without Shirt series, "Hangs Too Much."

with Dale Goodson
Checking in with the evening's special guest judge, Ioli Andreadi, a London theater director and native of Greece, she informed us that the town depicted in Oktapodi must be a very rich place because all the houses had swimming pools.  Shows what we know; we thought all Greeks had pools.  But Ioli seemed to enjoy the movie anyway, and we moved on to our final block of the night.

Starting us off was "Stages of Emily," written by and starring Danielle Uhlarik and directed by James C. Newell, from Chicago.  The story follows a newly-engaged woman who believes she has only 48 hours to live.  The filmmakers pull quite a few laughs out of this dark story of mortal wedding anxiety, thanks in no small part to a strong cast of Chicago stand-ups and improvisers.  And our last film in competition was, "Tombstoned," an SVA student thesis film by Dillon McCarthy.  The partially-animated sci-fi film follows three slacker astronauts who attempt a stoned moon landing.

Dillon McCarthy
But before the night is through, an Iron Mule show wouldn't be complete without this month's Wanna Be A Star? film (for more details, visit our website).  This month's retro-awesome entry was entitled "Secret Sunshine" and starred audience member Paula McDonald as a renegade lone-wolf secret agent named Sunshine.  Director Andy Brown and star Paula were on hand to talk about the concept of the film, shooting action scenes on the fly, and the original theme song that played over the end credits.  Stop by next month to see what director Gabriella Willenz can make out of the title, "Peanut Factory," starring lucky audience member, Meredith Flood.

Paula McDonald and Aaron Hughes
After all the ballots were counted, our Audience Award winner for the evening was "Oktapodi," and our Judges' Award winner was "Stages of Emily!"  Congrats to our winners, we're sorry the filmmakers couldn't attend the screening and receive all the accolades and free drinks coming to them.

And that's it for us this month, but join us on Dec. 4th at the 92YTribeca for a special holiday show featuring the return of "White Blood Cell Saves Christmas," a special 8-minute edit of every version of A Christmas Carol imaginable, new films by Dale Goodson and Jesse Epstein, and new episodes of Iron Mule faves Old People News and Broad City!