Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just a Quickie...

Readers--

Danny and I are quite impressed with a couple names you've suggested. Feb. 1 is the deadline for any further submissions. Last chance to participate in naming yourselves. After that, ye shall have an online identity on this page.

Now, the reason for this brief posting: let it be written and let it be known, that on this day, Tuesday, January 29, 2008, I carried the finished Humboldt County answer print in two cases from Technicolor headquarters in Universal City, CA.

Take a look for yourself. In my hands, the finished 35mm print that is the result of thousands of hours of labor, sweat and stress.

I drove immediately to Malibu and deposited the cases into the ocean, where they shall float into oblivion. Fortunately, this was just the backup, and CD is picking up the other print next week.

Do me a favor: don't tell anyone what I did. ok? Just keep it between you and me? Cool.

-DG

Friday, January 25, 2008

Casting Part IV: Earth Mother

Greetings, still unnamed brethren & sistren of Humboldt County (see previous post):

It is time to rejoice in another edition of our ongoing series examining the casting process for Humboldt County. Today, we revisit the saga that resulted in our having the good fortune to work with the wonderful Frances Conroy, who plays Rosie Truman in our picture.

Rosie Truman, you see, is the character in the picture who is loosely inspired by real-life-living-person and future humboldtcountymovie.com blogger Aunt Laura.

It's significant to note that the "Humboldt" characters featured in this film, while complex and hopefully realistic, represent only one type of resident of the county rather than the county as a whole. It would be impossible to tell the story of an entire community of people in an intimate, character-driven picture like this one. The characters we explore in this film are representative of people I came to know as a child. Members of my family and others like them moved from cities around the country into the woods (and not into Humboldt's more densely populated areas) to remove themselves from the temptations, luxuries and (from their perspective) evils of modern urban society. They did this in search of a better life. Did they find it in Humboldt? Well, for that you're going to have to see for yourself.

And that brings us back to Rosie, who is a woman of great knowledge and experience, yet she also finds herself completely comfortable in this simple ascetic lifestyle nestled in the arms of nature. Rosie has taken on the role of a spiritual earth mother herself, and in many ways she is the emotional core of this family and, thus, the picture as a whole.

Needless to say, a difficult role to cast. Like our experience in casting Jack (an experience documented quite well, I dare say, by Danny a few posts ago), we had the difficulty of going out to actresses (who we could not audition) through agents (who we could not be sure were even passing the script along to said actresses).

We had nibbles from some incredibly talented actresses but we just had not yet found the magical connection between actress and character. It's a tough combination to pull off: wise and wordly, yet earthy and loving. These are seemingly contradictory characteristics that require an actress of great talent and skill.

Similar to our experience casting Max and Jack, we were fast approaching our start date and the role was not cast. "Nervous" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it does not sufficiently describe the cold-sweat anxiety that keeps you awake at night as you imagine calling "action" to an empty space where an actress should be. We were a week away from beginning principal photography. We had finally found our Max in Chris Messina. Brad Dourif was about to sign on as Jack. But we had no Rosie.

I was up in Humboldt meeting with crew, scouting locations, generally working that end of preproduction, while Danny was holding down the fort in LA. We were, in a word, panicked.

Then, a fateful day. For we had been intrigued by an actress who had wowed us on HBOs Six Feet Under, but we had held our excitement in check, doubting the likelihood of our being able to get the scipt to her. She was, after all, a Golden Globe and SAG Award winner, as well as a three-time Emmy nominee.

But on September 18, 2006, 7 days before we were to begin principal photgraphy, I received the following email from our intrepid producer, CD:

"I just got a call from Frances Conroy's agent. She (Francis) read the script and is interested."

My jaw dropped. That night, I spoke with Frannie on the phone, and my jaw dropped some more. The first word I like to use about Frances Conroy is this: inquisitive. She asked more questions in that phone call and gobbled up more information than I thought possible. And not just information about the character, either. She asked about my background, Danny's, how we knew each other, how we decided to write this script, what our ideas were for the themes we wanted to explore, etc. She was genuinely interested in the answers to these questions, and this seemed to be a part of her process. We laughed about common past experiences and shared our impressions about the characters and their lifestyles. Needless to say, we hired Frances the next morning, and all was well.

I remember picking up Frannie and Brad at the airport in Eureka -- there they were, the Rosie and Jack that had been in our heads for so long were now standing in front of me -- and sitting back to just observe these two acting greats connect over shared friends and experiences. How could we be the first to put these two together on screen? I still have no idea, but I count my lucky stars we were. We lunched that first day at Arcata Pizza & Deli (not to be missed if you ever make it to Arcata, CA), and Brad and Frannie regaled us with stories about their experiences in the industry and beyond. The old nervous anxiety was replaced with unadulterated joy.

Needless to say, they connected and made these two characters more vivid and true than Danny or I could have ever imagined. It's funny to look back and remember the panic, as we wondered if we were going to find the right actors and how it was possibly going to work out. But now, I can't imagine anyone else playing any of the parts in the film. Stay tuned for the next in our casting series in a few days.

Fondly appreciating our amazing cast,

Darren

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fed Cuts Rates

Dear Friends--

In an effort to thwart a potentially disastrous posting recession, I recently decided to trim 3/4 percent off my posting rate. The results were predictable: a sudden increase in activity from Mr. Danny Jacobs, ultimately leading to a lower quality of blog for all Humboldt County fans. Our blog has always been different, from Iowa through New Hampshire and beyond, because we do not believe you should pay for the mistakes of the past, but let's be completely honest here:

Mistakes were made.

...

Don't ever say I don't take full responsibility for mixing political references nonsensically.

...

But truthfully, much is happening here in Humboldt land...

---We're toiling away at cut #2 of the trailer, working our tails off to get it ready for your consumption as soon as possible.

---Part 4 in our ongoing casting series is nearly up (and to those of you holding out for information on any particular principal cast members, we shall cover each of them in great detail, I assure you).

---We are days away from launching the all-new Aunt Laura blog. Speaking as the actual nephew of Aunt Laura (although she is Aunt Laura to us all), I am eagerly looking forward to the musings of such an extraordinary lady.

---An even bigger announcement is coming in a matter of weeks.

---Check out the all new Humboldt County Facebook page here. We need your help, faithful readers, in taking over the vast network that is the Facebook, so join our burgeoning club there, and do...well, do what people do on Facebook (Danny?).

Lastly, a Humboldt County director's blog challenge. Danny and I have struggled to find the proper name to refer to you Humboldt County director's blog readers. Do we call you "loyal readers"? Too trite. "Friends"? Too NBC sitcom-y. "Folks," "World," or "Internet"? Too vague. So we turn to you, "as yet unnamed readers of the Humboldt County director's blog", to name yourselves. Leave any and all suggestions in the comments of this post, and the best one shall win. We will begin each post addressing YOU with YOUR new name. Fire away!

The larger Humboldt County writer-director,

Darren

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Viscountess Mona Has Invaded Your Kingdom

Monday, January 21st. My day:

8:45 AM - I get up. Groggy. Wish it was 11 AM but it's not.

9:17 AM - After a lengthy internal debate about whether or not I want to go to the gym, I decide not to and head downstairs to my lap-top, flip on a pre-recorded Anderson 360 program and open up my Internet Browser. It is about this time I wish I had breakfast available. And also about this time that my unbelievable procrastination attempts begin.

9:38 AM - I've been on Facebook for the last 20 minutes. I'm angry at myself. Why am I on Facebook? What the goddamn good is Facebook anyway?! For 20 minutes, I've been playing games of Scrabulous, Attack! and the evil incarnation that is Knighthood. I've turned into a Facebook junkie. It's terrible. I have a problem. I admit it. Stop judging me!

10:07 - I start this blog post as yet another way of delaying the inevitable writing that will have to be done before the day is done.

10:18 - Someone has stolen one of my vassals in the Knighthood game on Facebook. I am incensed. How dare Baronness Cindy infiltrate the palisades region of my castle and steal Knight Andy! I mean, the nerve. Really. This requires my immediate attention and I marshall my army and engage in a counter attack. Knight Andy is once again mine. It is a victory, to be sure. Why, then do I feel like such a loser? Oh, yeah - becuase I just got upset at a goddamn Internet game in which I create a fake castle! Christ.

10:49 - Success! I've opened my Final Draft program and even opened the current draft of the script I'm working on. This is excellent! Now, hopefully, in a couple of hours, I'll start actually writing! Feeling positive. And slightly hungry.

11:42 - Depression is setting in. I've spent the last hour scouring the Internet for articles. I have an addiction to articles. Articles of any kind are fine. First, I search endlessly for anything related to the St. Louis Cardinals. Once it appears I've exhausted that front, I turn to politics. CNN, NYTimes, WashingtonPost are all regularly visited. Then, once I'm done with those, I turn to whatever I can find. It doesn't matter what it is really. I visit weird sites like Applerumors.com which gives rumors about future apple computer products. I don't even own a goddamn mac. Sigh.

12:28 - Getting really hungry now. Hmmm....maybe I'd be in a better mindset to write with a nice turkey sandwich from Subway in my belly. Mmmm...honey oat bread....

1:34 - Okay, I had a great 12-incher. Back at the saddle and rearin' to go! Time to write baby!!!!!

2:17 - Arrgggghh. I've spent the last 45 minutes reading blogs of other filmmakers. Most of the filmmakers I've never heard of and most of the films I will never see. I just did a google search and started reading. Why am I doing this? Who have I become? I begin to question everything. The answers are not comforting.

3:20 - I've at least looked at my final draft document. Have I made any changes? No. Someone has gone and attacked m castle. I've got to defend it. And my friend used the word "Fuzi" in our Scrabulous game. "Fuzi"? Really? Come on. I mean, come on. Seriously, something must be done....right?

4:10 - I hate life. I mean, what's the point of this grand, wicked game? What are we doing here? What am I doing here? There are people out there that are working to improve the lives of others. There are people who are starting non-profits as we speak. I bet they're happy. I bet they just love their lives. I'm still in my pajamas.

5:02 - I WROTE! 2 pages baby! WOOOHOOO!!!!!! I am feeelin' good. Man, I am one productive son-of-a-bitch. Goddamnit, I'm good. Well...I've got some stuff I've got to do tonight so my writing day is over. But, my god, what a productive day. Really, nice job today, Jacobs. I mean that - you're a super star. You were efficient, focused and came ready to rumble. A couple more days of this and you'll be --- oh. wait. Knight Meagan has rebelled. Got to go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Video Fun Part Tres: Development

Hello faithful, and a happy Thursday to you.

I'll keep this one short and sweet. Today, for your continued enjoyment, Part III of our video series. This one covers the development of the key elements that eventually became "Humboldt County."

video

Have a great day!

Danny

P.S. Anybody seen Darren? Hope he's not dead.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Welcome to the Situation Room

Hey world, Here's hoping you haven't gotten primary season burnout yet. Not me, no sir. I'm a junkie at this point - completely unable to turn off Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. And I can tell you from experience that 4 hours a day of Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room will make your head spin. I swear, if I hear him introduce his political analysts as the "best, most experienced political team on television" one more time I'm going to start looking for sharp objects to penetrate vital veins.

I hope everyone's been enjoying the snazzy new website! Keep checkin' it cause there'll be more and more fun stuff comin' to it over the next few weeks/months. First and foremost is the trailer. This week, we finally had a look at the first, very rough version and I'm pretty excited about it. Still, it's likely a few weeks away yet from being done.

Also, I am happy to report that "Humboldt County" is now completely, absolutely and utterly done. A few days back we went into Technicolor and viewed the color corrected version of the film one final time. The film looks georgeous and I really can't wait to show it to people. It's weird, though, to have nothing more to do on it. There will be no more tweaking, no more changing, no more worrying about tiny little details that no one will ever notice - the film is complete. Over four years ago (maybe even five, yeesh) Darren and I got a little room on the Pacific ocean in Humboldt and I discovered the place for the very first time. That moment of inspiration led to two plus years of writing, one year of fundraising, an insane 18 days of shooting and a year of post-production. Now, at last, the film is no longer ours. It is it's own. The pregnancy is almost complete and soon, the amniotic fluid will be wiped off and it will take it's first, jelly-legged baby steps into the world. Hopefuly, by the time it reaches Kindergarten, it will know how to read and complete complex tasks.

In other news, Jeremy's play opened yesterday in New York and his picture was in the theater section of the times. Here he is, as fancy pants Spinoza, the famed Jewish philosopher:


Jeremy is indeed believable, I think, as the famed philosopher, though the man doesn't have a drop of Jew in him. Anyway, he comes off well in the review, so check it out.

Also, I don't know if anybody else was watching, but I took a look at the "Golden Globe Ceremony" last night on TV. I put quotations around the phrase because it was essentially a glorified press conference. I was happy to see Daniel Day Lewis win and flabbergasted to see "Atonement" take away the Best Dramatic Picture award. The film is good, I thought, but overrated. Though, if you haven't seen it, you should - even if just for the amazing 5 minute plus shot in the middle. It'll blow your mind.

Lastly, on this lazy Monday, thanks so much for your continued support of the film! Keep the blog comments comin'! And, seriously, if there's anything you'd like to see, any questions about the process or the film, or any subjects you'd like us to blather on about, please, let us know. As you have no doubt surmised, I'm excellent at blathering.

Okay, Wolf is back, got to go.

d

P.S. Oh, hey, we forgot to mention - see over on the right of the blog there are links to other "Humboldt County" related pages, like our imdb site? Well, you'll also see a shiny new link to a shiny new blog. It's from our Producer, Captain Deadpan. Basically, since he came on board the project way back when he's been sending out periodic updates to our supporters and those involved with the film. He's now put all those updates into a blog, so if you want, you can check it out and see, month-by-month, how the film progressed and came together. You can also link to the blog HERE.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Offical "Humboldt County" Website is LIVE

Hey folks,

The official "Humboldt County" website is up and running!

http://www.humboldtcountymovie.com/

More features will be added over time, but check it out, poke around, read about the film etc.

Things to come:

1. Our trailer - we're hard at work on it and it'll be up and viewable, hopefully, within the next month.

2. A Second Blog - Darren's Aunt Laura is a longtime Humboldt resident (and the inspiration for one of the film's characters) and we thought it would be cool to give her a voice on our website. Of course, she doesn't have Internet access so we'll be transcribing her blog posts via phone line. This will hopefully be up and running within the next couple of weeks.

3. "Humboldt County" mailing list. In a matter of days (maybe even hours), you'll be able to put your email address into the HC email list. This way you'll get periodic updates on the happenings of the film as things progress.

Okay, cats! Tell all your friends!

Viva Humboldt,
Danny

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Casting Part III: The Patriarch

Hello faithful readers! Welcome to part III in our ongoing series on the casting of "Humboldt County."

Today, a primer on the patriarch of the film's Humboldt Clan - Jack, played by the ever talented Mr. Brad Dourif.

I met Brad for the first time about 5 days before I was supposed to head up to Humboldt for pre-production. Darren had already gone up there to start leading the troops, so I was left in LA to help finishing out the casting and begin rehearsals with our actors for a few days.

By the time I met Brad, we had been trying to cast the role of "Jack" for nine months. It was a bitch to cast. We needed someone who could be believable as a mountain man and a physics professor. That's a tough mix to find in an actor. To make the situation even more difficult, since the role was written for an actor in his 50s or 60s, we weren't really allowed to audition anyone. If we were big directors with some award winning films under our belt, no problem, older actors would audition for us in a heart-beat. But we're just Danny and Darren, a couple of schmos from St. Louis, Missouri.

So for nine months we sent scripts to actors completely blind. Most of the time, we wouldn't even know if the agents even sent the scripts to their clients. Finally, we started to get some bites and I met with Mr. Dourif in a small booth at Barney's Beanery in Hollywood.
I was nervous. I'm a big Deadwood fan and had been watching him alot recently. Plus, I've always loved his Oscar Nominated role in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - even though it was four hundred years ago. But making my nerves even more bundled with nervy goodness was the fact that Brad is an intimidating presence. He doesn't take shit from nobody. The man is confident in his talent, as he should be, and always expects everyone around him to step up. As a director, it's a great kind of actor to have on your project because he's just going to make everybody better.

But I wasn't fully convinced that Brad was right for the role until he started talking about his love of astronomy. For about 15 minutes, I swear, I had no idea what the man was talking about. I kept hoping to hear familiar words like "nebula" or "star cluster" but this man was speaking in some long-lost astronomical language that laymen simply cannot speak. Still, I nodded vigorously throughout, afraid that if he knew I was clueless, those piercing eyes of his would begin emitting lazers that would burn holes into my forehead. After listening to his soliloquy, however, I thought to myself, "My god. This man is "Jack."

We hired him that day.

As Brad has done his entire career, he continues to work - constantly. Just looking at his resume makes me want to take a nap. Instead of going into it in detail just check it out here.

So in lieu of reviewing Brad's upcoming slate of films, I'll just end with an anecdote from set that epitomizes Brad's way of working. As an actor, he demands that his directors stay on top of their game. I remember one scene (that was eventually cut from the film) where Brad changed a word in one of his lines of dialogue. For some reason, I felt like his change wasn't as good as what Darren and I had written and I went up to Brad and said, "Hey, uh, Brad. Do you mind just saying the line with the word "buddy" instead of "friend"?" And like a whip, Brad responded, a ferocity in his eyes, "Why? NO."

And he was right. I didn't have a reason. I just missed my line. And I needed to let it go and allow the actor to become the part. That's a lesson, of many, that Brad taught me throughout the filmmaking process.

So, Brad, when you read this blog, and I know you do religiously, thank you.

Peace out cats,
d

P.S. As mentioend before, Jeremy (Peter) is opening a play in New York called "New Jerusalem" on January 13th. Find an insight into the production here. Especially check out the last paragraph.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Video Fun Part Duo: The Origins of "Humboldt County"

First of all, faithful blog readers and "Humboldt County" fans...I saw a movie last night that was brilliant and I had to write about it: "There Will Be Blood."

It's the fifth film by Paul Thomas Anderson who previously made "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia" and "Punch Drunk Love." This is a film that is so assured in every aspect of its production that it is truly remarkable. The score is haunting and visionary, the acting of Daniel Day Lewis is probably the best I've seen since...Daniel Day Lewis in "Gangs of New York" and the last twenty minutes of the film are as haunting as anything I've seen. Seriously, it's one of the best films I've seen in years. An instant classic. It's only out in LA and NYC right now but when it gets to your neighborhood, sprint to the theater. If anyone is in front of you in line when you get there, push them out of the way. I don't care if they are infirm or old, push god-damn it! Seeing this movie is more important than solidifying a moral code. This film is that good.

In other news, I guess you've read that Darren is back on the project. It's true. I won't deny it. He kicked my ass. You see, that's how it has always been for the entirety of our friendship. He'll piss me off, I'll retaliate by kicking him off whatever project we happen to be working on, and he ends it by beating me to a bloody pulp. It's an unfortunate storyline that has tended to repeat itself more times than I care to remember. But I've begun training...with a trainer...in a gym. So, fear not, faithful, one day, and that day may come soon, Darren will try to best me again and I will be ready. Like a coiled jungle cat I will pounce. And I will win. Oh yes, I will win. Darren, be warned. Your time is nigh.

And now...without further ado, Video Fun Part Duo: The Origins of "Humboldt County."

video

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Return of the Darren

A short time ago, I was thrown off this project by my co-director/ writer and supposed "friend" of over two decades, Danny Jacobs. This is not the first time this has happened. Danny and I have a hisory of knock-down, drag out fights that nearly lead to our death (as a society).

This most recent incident was no different. I've submitted to you the photographic evidence of our scuffle, and, as I think you'll see, in this game o' fisticuffs, I came out victorious. It was a brutal battle, but as evidenced by the fact that I have clearly returned to the blog and the project, Darren trumped Danny this time.

If you're going to follow along on our journey with Humboldt County, you'll no doubt grow numb to these incessant battles between us. Danny will likely respond to this post very cleverly, dismissing his defeat and my subsequent return as some sort of fabrication. But I assure you: this is the absolute truth. Danny threw me out like yesterday's garbage, and I beat the ever-living gobstoppers out of him (while taking my lumps, to be sure) to claw my way back in.

It feels good to be back. More to come soon, stay tuned...

-Darren

PS: And a Happy New Year to you all, from Danny and myself.

2008, my friends, is the year of Humboldt County.