Sunday, March 30, 2008

Humboldt DNA Series, Part I: FIVE EASY PIECES

Okay, today we're starting a new series. We thought we'd do some posts about the films that inspired "Humboldt County." The films we're going to cover in this series of posts all inspired HC in some way - whether in the writing, the visuals, the tone, the acting, the narrative structure.

Here's what would be great. If we ever do a post on a film that you, our beloved LCLs, have not seen, please go and watch it and post a comment about your thoughts on the film. Deal? Great. Nice working with you.

And now, onto the first film in our Humboldt County DNA series: FIVE EASY PIECES.

First a little primer on the film's context:

"Five" was released in 1970 and was directed by Bob Rafelson and starred Mr. Jack Nicholson. At the 1971 Oscars, the film was nominated four times. Karen Black was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor, the film was nominated for Best Picture and also Best Screenplay.

The film was the second of three 70s collaborations between Rafelson and Nicholson. They first worked together on Rafelson's first film, "Head" which Nicholson wrote. They would work together one more time in the decade on a film called "The King of Marvin Gardens" which will be another film we discuss in this series.

Many claim that Nicholson had more to do with the end result of "Easy Pieces" than Rafelson but Darren and I have been unable to corroborate that claim.

The film is flat out incredible. First of all, it is beautifully shot by our late friend Laszlo Kovacs (see more info on Laszlo in our post about Peter Bogdanovich). We referenced the visuals of "Five Easy Pieces" quite a bit in our preparation for "HC." The way that Laszlo captured the beautiful Texas vistas in the beginning of the film, as well as the gorgeous greenery of Nicholson's family home directly inspired some of our color palette for HC.

I want to talk about a particular shot, however, that deeply affected the way we decided to tell "HC." That shot is the first shot in the movie. It's only about 10 seconds long. It is a shot of dirt. And then the dirt begins to move, and then you realize that the dirt is actually in a huge construction shovel. It's a simple but engaging first shot because it tells the audience that nothing is as it seems. Dirt isn't merely dirt and Nicholson's character isn't merely a dumb, hard-hat working the oil fields. He, like the film, is much more than that. That first shot summed up the entire film and that's why it is brilliant. Darren and I thought quite a bit about that shot in crafting "Humboldt" - we wanted to do the same thing - let the audience know that everything is not as it seems. Pot farmers are not just pot farmers and stereotypes are often only a starting point to understand our fellow human beings. (If you've seen the film, you know how we achieved this affect with our own first shot. For those of you that haven't, I won't ruin it for you here.) Nonetheless, that one 10 second shot provided, in some ways, the entire approach for our film.

The other major way that "Easy Pieces" affected us was with its subtle blend of drama and comedy. Both elements are rooted in absolute reality. There is very little (except for maybe a scene where Nicholson ends up playing a piano on a truck on a highway) that isn't rooted in a reality that we all know. This comedic/dramatic blend and its deep roots in reality inspired the tone of "Humboldt" more than we even realize, I think.

Over the course of writing and directing "Humboldt" Darren and I probably watched "Easy Pieces" about forty times. There are parts of that movie that I know as well as my own film. There are so many scenes in "Humboldt" that are directly inspired by ones in "Easy Pieces" that to list them here would be to ruin the entire plot of our film for those that have not seen it. So I won't do that now. However, once you guys have had a chance to see both films (hopefully soon!) then we can have a real discussion.

Okay, LCLs, go out and rent "Five Easy Pieces" and let's start a great discussion in the message thread!

Till next time.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Film Professors,
D&d

Friday, March 28, 2008

What if Danny & Darren are Superheroes?

LCLs:

Darren here, reporting to you live, 3:37 pm, Friday, March 28, 2008. The last time I slept was Wednesday night. For 7 hours. And it's now Friday. And I appear to be fully fuctional.

A bit delirious, yes.

Slap happy? No doubt.

But functional. And for the moment, not even tired (I'm not allowing myself to close my eyes for more than 2.3 seconds, however).

Last night, Danny and I took a little writing retreat to a friend's apartment in Santa Barbara, and we worked on our next script for about 12 consecutive hours. We've probably put in 8-10 hours a day everyday this week, as we've essentially undertaken what they call a "page 1 rewrite" on this baby. And doing it in 5 days is, well, challenging. But as of 10 am this morning, we got through it. CD and a few others are now burrowing through to give us notes before we dive back in to complete the actual draft by Monday morning. Yup, it appears Sunday night could be another all-nighter for your intrepid writer-director-fools, Danny and Darren. Fortunately, we're superheroes and we apparently don't need to sleep.ncpjbnedb

Oops, sorry about that typo. I nodded off for a sec.

I know many of you are eager to know when our picture will make its way to your part of the country/world to be seen on the big screen or on DVD. I assure you, keep reading our blog and you'll be the first to know (well, after us). Right now, we hope to show the film in Humboldt County, where we shot it, and where it was obviously inspired, as well as (cross your fingers) in as many theaters as possible. But we won't know for a few weeks at least, so be patient and keep checking in.

This is your source for any and all news of Humboldt County, as well as the nonsensical ramblings of two apparent insomniacs.

Ishkabibble,

Darren

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Summer is in the air....and that means...

So our private screening was last night in New York and I heard it went well. Neither Darren or I was there but our intrepid Producer's Rep was. A producer's rep basically is given the task of selling a film. He does everything he needs to do to get this baby into theatres or homes.

Anyway, Captain Deadpan got the report from him and the report was that the screening went well. The distributors that came apparently stayed for the entire film, which is a good sign. You have no idea how many times distributors will only go to a film for about 20 minutes before leaving. It happens more often than you'd think. In fact, from what I can gather, it happens way more often than distributors watching an entire movie. It's an entirely nutty practice if you ask me. I don't understand how it's possible that someone could decide whether or not they like a movie after the first twenty minutes but that's just me.

Anyhoo, a couple distributors didn't show up so the next week plus is going to be spent loaning our 35mm print around to those NYC companies so that they can screen the film on their own time. Then next week, we'll do it all again for the companies out here in LA.

Darren and I are trying to stay as aloof as possible. That is made all the more easy by the fact that Dgro and I have something like six days to get our next script, The New York Challenge, into fighting shape. Our intrepid producer has applied to a producer's program thingy with our script and they want to see the next draft by the end of March. Which means we're writing much faster than I'm comfortable with but, hey, that's show business babby!

In other, much much much more important news....THE BASEBALL SEASON HAS BEGUN!!! And once again, I've purchased the Extra Innings cable package so I can watch my beloved Cardinals throughout the season. Many wasted afternoons are in my future, I can smell it already.

Okay, LCLs, take care and for any of you that were at SXSW and saw the film, please go to www.imdb.com and write a user review of the film!

Let's talk soon, guys. This has been fun.

Peace,
d

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Video Fun Part VII: Memories!

Hey LCLs,

Sorry it's been a few days. Darren and I have been decompressing, getting back into the swing of our relatively normal and unexciting life in L.A. That means we're back to tutoring Korean high schoolers and editing undergraduate and graduate school admissions essays. So it goes.

We're also waiting on pins and needles for two upcoming screenings:

1. Our NYC screening next Tuesday
2. Our LA screening the Tuesday after

Both are for potential distributors and we're nervous as all hell about them. Those screenings, perhaps more than the screenings in Austin, will go a long way towards determining whether, and in what capacity, "Humboldt County" reaches its audience.

So on the next couple of Tuesdays, hold your breath and say a little prayer for Humboldt.

Here's another video for you. Enjoy!

video

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thank You Card

Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs
Humboldt County Writer/Directors
Los Angeles, CA

March 16, 2008

Austin
c/o South by Southwest Film Festival
Austin, Texas

Dear Austin:

We felt compelled to write to express our extreme gratitude to you for helping to create one of the greatest experiences of our lives. We've seen amazing things before: incredible concerts, our beloved Cardinals winning the World Series, proof of the existence of extra-terrestrials, but not until we entered the doors of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin did we ever see our film lit up on a marquee.


Not until we arrived in Austin did we encounter lines of hundreds of people waiting to see a picture that we first dreamed up in an Inn on the Pacific coast in Shelter Cove, CA, just over 5 years ago.

Looking back on the festival experience now -- with a few days worth of decompression -- it's difficult to imagine a better experience. We showed up with an army of almost 50 friends and family at the first screening, and the volunteers and workers who worked the festival helped us accomodate as many of them as they possibly could. Everyone was so friendly, complimentary and gracious that Danny and I were compelled to be mean to each other just to balance the scales.

The filmmakers we met -- and there were many -- were inspiring and talented, and we hope to have forged a number of connections and friendships that will last. We're excited to see more work from such a talented group.

We don't have years of festivals to compare, but we can honestly say that our South by Southwest experience was smooth and ridiculously positive. As filmmakers, this goes a long way, because it is an incredibly nerve-wracking experience to screen your film for the first time in a packed theater.

So thank you, Austin, and thank you South by Southwest. We owe you a debt of gratitude. You popped our cherries, you were gentle, you exceeded our expectations, and as such you'll always be our first love.

We hope to be with you again, and again, and again, and...

Sincerely,
Darren
&
Danny


......

p.s. LCL's: Expect more SXSW thoughts coming soon, and check out the NEWS page on our main page over at http://www.humboldtcountymovie.com/ for links to reviews and interviews from SXSW!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

SXSW Premiere Night Pictures

Hey guys! Just wanted to post some pics from our premiere night at SXSW today. Happy Saturday!

This one is Dgro with his momma at the after party post-premiere.


This one is just after the premiere screening in front of the theater. I have no idea who I'm looking at or what I'm thinking.


This one is me and my moms. She had never seen the film before the premiere. This is just after the movie ended, in front of the theater.


This is during the Q&A after our premiere screening. That lovely lady between us is Madison Davenport, who played "Charity." She was the rockstar of the show. Darren and I just blathered nonsensically.



One more wide-shot of the premiere Q&A.


Ahh Austin. Lovely lovely town.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Casting Part Seven: The Don

When Darren and I set out to cast the part of Professor Hadley in Humboldt County we had one specific goal in mind: find an actor who could make a potentially completely unlikable character, likable. It was a challenging goal because, on the page, we didn’t do the actor who would play the role any favors. Still, we always knew that the right actor could make the audience feel sympathy for the character even as he sought to crush the spirit of our plucky young protagonist.

What we ended up getting for the role was much much more than simply an amazing actor who could bring the character to life. We got perhaps the most knowledgeable cinephile on the planet and a direct connection to the American 70s cinema that has so influenced us as filmmakers. We got Peter Bogdanovich.

As we were writing and conceiving of HC, Darren and I were watching, repeatedly and endlessly, any number of seventies films including Five Easy Pieces, Harold and Maude, The King of Marvin Gardens and Bogdanovich’s own The Last Picture Show. Bogdanovich not only made some of the seminal films of the 70s, but he also has a foundation of knowledge regarding cinema that is perhaps unmatched. Orson Welles, a good friend of his, stayed in his guest house, he interviewed and befriended Howard Hawkes, John Huston and Alfred Hitchcock among many others, he has won Oscars and his Last Picture Show has been lauded as the second coming of Citizen Kane.

To say that Darren and I were excited to be meeting him would be an understatement. We had sent him the script on a lark. We knew he was an excellent actor – having watched him through the years beginning in his own, superb film Targets all the way up to his psychiatrist role on The Sopranos. So when we heard he was interested and wanted to meet us, we put on our best jeans and headed over to a swanky hotel in Beverly Hills where, apparently, Mr. Bogdanovich lives.

We headed up to his suite to find him, ascot around his neck as always, eating a shrimp salad in front of a grand window overlooking Hollywood some twenty floors below. It was one of the more surreal moments for a couple of dummies from the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. Soon, it would get even more surreal as Pbogs (as we affectionately call him) finished his salad and had his assistant wheel away his tray to reveal that he was, indeed, still in his pajamas. Awesome.

Within a few minutes, Pbogs was fully doing a spot on impression of Hitchock and telling us about the time he visited the set of a Hitchcock film and the plump sized director poked fun at Paul Newman. We were in heaven.

In addition to bringing him on board as an actor, Darren and I also told him to feel comfortable making any suggestions throughout the filmmaking process. We wanted to take advantage of his vast mental resources. And indeed, throughout the filmmaking process, he was a godsend. In addition to his superb acting, he would sometimes call Darren and I over and whisper a particular idea or concern. And 95% of the time, his suggestions were absolutely amazing.

After Darren and I finished editing we had one of the most unbelievable experiences of our entire lives. When we moved to LA we made concerted efforts to procure mentors in the industry, people we could meet with periodically and gleam wisdom for their vaulted perches. One of those people was Laszlo Kovacs. If you don’t know who Laszlo Kovacs is you should 1) Be incredibly ashamed and 2) Be incredibly ashamed. He’s one of the greatest cinematographers who has ever lived and the list of classic films he has shot over the years is too long to mention here. Laszlo also happened to be a common collaborator of PBogs himself. In fact, Laszlo shot most of Pbogs library of films. So when we finished editing, we managed to get Laszlo and Pbogs together and screened Humboldt County for them. They hadn’t seen each other in years and before we started the movie, Darren and I just sat back and listened to them reconnect. They talked about shooting the highway sequence in Pbogs’ first film, Targets and how they didn’t have any permits to shoot on LA’s famed 405 freeway. Laszlo recounted how the cops eventually showed up and he ran. It was amazing to simply be in the room as these two cinematic giants talked craft.

Three days later, Laszlo Kovacs was dead. He wasn’t in very good health and, apparently, his various injuries and illnesses got the best of him. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. Darren and I had seen him on Wednesday and by Saturday we were listening to Pbogs on NPR talking about what Laszlo meant to him and to filmmaking in general. It was a terrible loss but we felt happy that we were responsible for Laszlo and Pbogs seeing each other one last time. And it is surreal, but probably true to say that the last film Laszlo ever saw was Humboldt County.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oops, we did it again.

Well, we had our final screening - a slot very difficult to bring in a good audience for: 1:30 PM on a Thursday. Many people are at work, those that aren't are seeing the likes of Van Morrison, Spoon, REM, and Vampire Weekend in the huge SXSW music fest.

So what happened?

We sold out.

2 theaters.

AGAIN.

And still turned away 50 people.

The SXSW staff members on hand at the theater couldn't believe it. They haven't seen anything like it in their many years at the festival. Seriously, Darren and I figured we'd maybe get to 75 percent capacity in one theater. We could never have imagined that we'd duplicate our success from Tuesday night. But we did.

While most of the other films at the festival were having difficulty selling out their theaters, we were having no trouble. I am so amped, I don't even know what to say. It was amazing. The screenings started late as the amazing SXSW and Alamo Drafthouse staff hustled to get the film print ready and interconnected into two separate projectors. At one point the film print fell off the platter (the thing that holds the film) and we got delayed in starting the film(s). Finally, 25 minutes late and with the audiences beginning to get a little grumpy, the HC played for the final time as part of SXSW 2008. At one point, Darren and I went into one of the theaters to watch one of our favorite scenes and then walked right to the next theater to watch it again (The second theater was running about 2 minutes behind the first). It was thrilling, and humbling, and exciting.

No matter what happens the rest of the way (and we hope much happens), we were absolutely floored by our experiences at SXSW. I'm back in LA now - I have an audition tomorrow that I had to get back for. Darren will be returning tomorrow. What a ride. What. A. Ride.

Thank you all who read this blog and support the film. Let's all cross our fingers now and hope to dear god that this is only the beginning....

Peace and Humboldt love,
d

P.S. This is Darren and I in front of the two theaters. Notice how they say "Humboldt County 1" and "Humboldt County 2". Pretty freakin' great.


Also, here's one more shot. This is the crowd waiting in the theater after we already filled up one theater. The line goes waaay out the door....

Final Screening in 3 Hours...

Danny's post regarding our second screening said it all. It was truly one of the greatest nights of our lives. So many people wanted to see Humboldt County, and when they announced to the line that they were going to open up another screen, the place erupted in applause. On that night, our film was a great success. And all the hard work, the dark times, the highs and lows, they all came together in a kind of cathartic rush of energy as people filed in to watch our movie. Thanks to all you LCLs and all the people who have come out to support the film thus far. It's not our film anymore, it's yours.

We screen once more, in just 3 hours, and then Danny heads back to LA (I return tomorrow). What a ride it's been. Expect some posts as we decompress and process all that has transpired.

Talk soon, LCLs...

-Darren

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wow.

So remember in the last post how Darren said that after our next screening the number of people who have seen "Humboldt County" would double?

He lied.

Yesterday, I'm walking around Austin trying to drum up some publicity, and I'm seeing this immense influx of what appears to be rock stars walking everywhere. The music part of SXSW is about to begin and I think to myself, "Jeez. Will anybody be interested in seeing movies anymore?"

Yes.

We got to the theater early to help organize, and by the time we arrived, a good hour and a half before show time, there was already a huge crowd standing in line to see "HC." Apparently, the good buzz spreading about the film and the excellent reviews we've been getting have been paying off. Thirty minutes later, about an hour before show-time, the line was waaaay out the door.

There were so many people there that we were going to be able to fill the theater in a heartbeat but would have to turn away literally hundreds of people. So our fearless producer's rep, Mr. David Garber, got on the phone. He called the head of the festival, Matt Dentler, as well as the head of the theater chain, and convinced them to bump another film and open up a SECOND theater for "Humboldt County." And you know what? We sold out that theater too. In fact, we still turned away about 100 people after filling two theaters.

It was insane. SXSW staff members working the theater said they had never seen anything like it before.

Darren and I split up the film introductions and the Q&As afterwards - I did one theater and Dgro did the other one. It was such a rush. Just knowing that there was such interest in the film and that people seemed to really enjoy it was an amazing feeling. Darren and I were on fire all night.

Today we celebrated with my first bottle of Dom Perignon ever while eating all you can eat ribs at this amazing place outside of Austin called The Salt Lick. I am satisfied. In more ways than one.

One more screening to go. I hope people still want to see movies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3 Hours 'til Screening #2...

LCLs:

Just a quickie....

Remarkably, despite all this press and hustling we've been doing, fewer than 200 people have seen Humboldt County. In a matter of hours, that number will double. We hope it goes as well as the first one.

In food news, we ate at the Ironworks BBQ today, downtown. Good stuff. I had the sampler: brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. I am full. Very, very, full.

Austin observation: the mood and vibe and makeup of the people is changing. People are suddenly becoming more attractive. Clearly, the movie dorks are being overrun by the rock stars. Yes, friends, the music festival is about to begin.

-DG

Three Nights in Austin

Hey LCLs,

So our press schedule is (finally) winding down. We've got a couple more interviews today and tomorrow. As such, I'm hopeful we'll be able to actually check out some movies before we leave on Friday. This is, after all, a film festival. Though I haven't seen anything, I've heard that "Baghead" is quite good as well as a film that Helen Hunt wrote and directed that I can't remember the name of at the moment.

On a separate, and fortuitous note, Darren and I have been angling to meet with actor/writer Kevin Pollak because he has the rights to a book called Three Nights in August that Darren and I want to adapt and direct. The book covers a three game series in 2003 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. It's amazing and, as you might have guessed by now, we're both huge Cardinals fans. Anyway, Kevin was at SXSW this year but we didn't get to meet him. Then, when our producer, CD, was on his way back to LA to care for his newborn child, he looked down the aisle and saw who else, but Kevin Pollak! He went up and talked to him, told him about us, and we got his email address. So it looks like the meeting will finally happen when we get back to L.A. I think this is the sort of lucky happenstance that happens at film festivals, when there are so many creative people all stuck in the same place.

Lastly, a shout out to an AMAZING place, called Austin Deep, where Darren and I received complementary deep tissue massages the other day that, to be honest, we couldn't have done without. We're still loose and free flowing because of their mad skills and generosity. Check them out here.

Talk to ya lates,
d

Austin Diary Morning Quickie...

Good morning, LCLs. Our postings have been few, but prepare for an onslaught after our return to LA, when things have calmed down a bit. The madness is kind of difficult describe while we stand inside it. And we don't have the kind of fancypants phones that enable us to blog from anywhere. We need an old fashioned computer.

Last night, for Danny's birthday, about 15 people gathered at Romeo's on Barton Springs for an Italian Feast. We proceeded to attend 3 parties afterward, chatting with now familiar friends and meeting new ones. The number of creative people to engage with at a festival like this is high, and that's one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience. Also, the love and support continues, as the rest of my dearest friends from college have now arrived.

Finally, the first two images of our madness, many more to come. What happens when you mix two writer-directors, a composer and a producer, and you ask them to look professional?

What if you ask them to look happy?

As you can see, we're very difficult.

-DG

Monday, March 10, 2008

Darren on a panel!

Hey guys,

So today, Darren was on an SXSW panel about drugs in film. It was kind of hilarious because the moderator clearly had an agenda, and that agenda was to give an entire history of drugs in film through the decades. So basically, he'd show a clip of like "Dazed and Confused" and then turn to the panelists and ask, "So wasn't that movie great?"

It was kind of hilarious. That is, until Darren made me come up and join everyone near the end. The things I do for this movie.

What was kind of annoying to me was that the moderator kept presenting movies like "Dazed" and "Big Labowski" as if they were about pot. The reality is they have nothing to do with pot. They are about growing up, and getting your rug back. Pot is just something the characters participate in, but it does not define them, nor the movies they exist in.

So it seemed to me that the underlying premise of the entire panel was kind of weak. Still, Dgro did a standup job and came off well. Anyhoo - festivities continue tonight. We've got a bunch of parties we have to attend to and then we're having a big b-day dinner for me with 18 people. Yikes.

Many of my friends (and my mom) have now left town. I'm beginning to feel the beginnings of a letdown coming....

Pictures are coming SOON. We promise.

Peace OUT,
d

P.S. Hey, wasn't that Cheech and Chong movie awesome?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Movies and Press and meetings, oh my!

Hey LCLs,

So...where to begin. This feels like a bar mitzvah. So many people in town. So many things to do. Hopefully, at the end of the week, Darren and I will get to read a haftorah portion and be anointed "men."

We've been busting it. Last night we went out with a huge group and celebrated my birthday a little early by doing some bowling, hard core. Then we made our way back to 6th street in downtown Austin for some more drinky drinky. All was fantastic. It was so great to have family and friends down here to celebrate with and, though Darren and I are slowly losing our voices, our spirit remains strong.

Today we did a bunch of interviews and photo shoots with the wonderful actress, Madison Davenport (Charity). They went really well. There are so many reviews and pieces coming out on the film daily at this point that, to be honest, Darren and I really have no idea what's out there and what's not. So if you're diehard, just do a google search and read to your heart's desire. Hopefully, soon, we'll post some links after the insanity of this experience dies down a bit.

Tonight we've got still more interviews and a couple of shmoozing events. At some point, I actually hope to see a MOVIE.

But first, I've got some Hebrew to study.

Shalom,
d

Saturday, March 8, 2008

People have actually paid to sit in a movie theater and watch our movie

Hello Faithful LCLs:

The first ever dual posting....

Not duel.

Dual. Meaning both of us.

So far, all Darren.

Darren continues: it's been a whirlwind. We screened last night to a packed house at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz downtown. We turned away over 100 people, including some friends who wanted to see the movie. That was hard, but we sure do appreciate the support.

Danny: The screening was craaaay-ze. Spelled just like that. I was so nervous I thought I was going to projectile vomit across multiple rows of seating.

Darren: A quick rundown of the leadup to that screening: Danny and I did a morning interview with IFC that will air tonight on IFC:

Saturday, March 8th at 8:15pm EST/ 6:15pm MST/ 5:15pm PST on IFC TV.

We then checked into the festival, got our badges and bags and headed to lunch with friends and early arriving family (Cajun place on 6th street called Roux. Good stuff). From there, we checked into the Hyatt downtown, changed (I wore a suit, Danny did not), and headed to the theater to await the screening.

Danny: During the screening, Darren and I stood in the back and tried not to pass out. With a drama, it's harder to guage the reaction of an audience during a movie compared to comedies. So, we weren't totally sure how people responded to it in the moment...but afterwards, it was pretty clear that the screening went really well.

Darren: Today, we were going to do a couple things in the afternoon but Danny swallowed his girlfriend's contact lenses which screwed up our day. He's an idiot.

Danny: What do you want from me? I was hungover and looking for water. Plus, who puts lenses in a mug?

Darren: Well, to her credit she did tell you that the lenses were in the mug. You just were too drunk to remember. That's pretty retarded.

Danny: Okay, can we just forget about it already and focus here?

Darren: Fine.

Danny: Thank you.

Darren: Idiot.

Danny: Darren!

...

We'll try to keep posting as often as possible, but things are crazy busy! More to come...

-D&d

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Humboldt County Screens Later Today...

LCLs:
Tonight, we BBQed (well, really, Scott and Tanya BBQed, the rest of us were just the lucky eaters), we drove to the airport (3 times today), CD the producer arrived, my amazing lady Renee is finally here, and now we rest a bit before it all happens.

The editing is long over, there's nothing more to add, tweak, color or talk about, it's just going to be our movie, a big screen, and a crowd full of people. As of this moment, I have no idea what's going to happen. I have no idea how people will react. I have no idea if it's going to be a magical evening or a nightmare. I'm proud of the film, and I'm excited. But I'm also terrified.

Might not have a chance to blog again 'til after the screening. Thank you thank you thank you to all the friends & family who have sent support through phone, messages, emails, mental telepathy, etc.

Here we go...


-DG

Austin Diary Vol. 4: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail


Ahoy from Austin!

So what a whirlwind. I got in yesterday, as Darren mentioned, and it’s been nonstop since the moment I arrived. Today, after retrieving Darren’s credit card from one of the 10,000 bars we apparently visited last night, we started out into the city giving out rolling paper packs and putting up posters. And of course, we do this on the coldest and rainiest day in the history of the planet. And that’s true, by the way, because we looked it up.

Eventually we wound our way to the UT campus and have been talking up the film a bunch in the communication department. I just spoke in front of an intro to film class and left two boxes of rolling papers for them. We’re definitely doing our part to corrupt the youth of America.

Darren is headed to the airport to pick up El Producer, CD, and then we’ve got a little BBQ tonight before heading back to the UT campus to talk to another film class. The insanity never stops.

Things are not all rosey though. We got word yesterday that Jeremy Strong, our lead, had to cancel his planned trip to be here for the premiere. He’s really bummed about it and so are we but he’s got a good reason. Apparantly, he’s filling in last minute in a major role for a play at the Public Theater in NYC opposite David Straitharn, Aiden Quinn and Brian Dennehy. What can we say? Our actors are just too damn good.

Though Darren and I are bummed about Jeremy’s absence, we’re all rooting for him to knock his new opportunity out of the park, as we’re sure he’ll do.

Okay! Tomorrow morning, when I wake up, I’ll be able to say “Today’s the day Humboldt County premieres.”

Wow.

Peace out cats,
d

P.S. We had a huge story done on the film over at The Hollywood Reporter. It came out yesterday. If you didn’t catch it, you can read it HERE.

P.P.S. Our first review is IN!!!!! It’s in the Austin Chronicle and it came out today. It’s fantastically favorable. Here’s the LINK.

Austin Diary Vol. 3 -- 3.6.08

How do you put the nail in the coffin of a head cold?

Heavy drinking. Who knew?

Since we last spoke, dear LCLs...

Danny Jacobs arrived in Austin, Texas.
He was wearing new prescription sunglasses, and brandishing a brand new Mac Book Pro or somesuch. Very expensive looking. Very nice. What an ass. We immediately headed for food, because Danny had planned poorly and had only eaten a bagel all day. After a trip through the drive through at P. Terry's, a local burger stand (organic), Danny was satiated and satisfied.

We were off to promote and put up posters: Whole Foods Market, head shops downtown, bars/restaurants around the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz were all attacked by the d&D (Danny got to see the theater where we'll be screening. TOMORROW)

First SXSW Party
At a place called the Belmont downtown, upstairs we hung with other filmmakers and met the famous Matt Dentler, who runs this whole experience, for some drinking and snacks (Dentler, by the way, doubly endeared himself to me by 1) being engaged to a lovely lady named Jarren. Great name, and 2) buying me a Maker's Mark, on the rocks. An unnecessarily nice gesture, but noted for its extreme generosity. Check out Matt's awesome SXSW (and other things) blog here.

First night of Debauchery
What followed the party is difficult to describe. Danny and I were joined by my cousin and our old dear friend Josh Katz, for some preliminary drinking. Josh had to excuse himself to go to sleep (something about waking up early for a job), and the three of us embarked on a bar-hopping excursion that led to me losing my credit card, dancing to the tunes of novelist Larry McMurtry's son, and ending our night at 3 am at Whataburger (unnecessary, but delicious).

The result of all that: a late start to our day, and oddly, the end of my head cold.

Now we're off to promote promote promote.

-DG

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How many cool coffee shops/hangouts can one town have?

Hello from Ruta Maya, on South Congress.

Today, I've walked the shops of South Congress, eaten at Guero's taco stand and had my first Amy's Ice Cream experience (the mini Mexican vanilla, and wow, was it delicious).

I also (completely randomly) ran into one of our crew members from the shoot in Humboldt: Maria Mateolli! Maria, who is a filmmaker herself, has apparently been in Rome for the past year editing her own feature and has recently come to Austin to visit her brother, who plays in a local band. I was walking down SoCo and was yelled at by her from afar. Now, she and anyone else she can recruit will be heading to one of our screenings. Small world. Humboldt karma, all the way.

I'm about to head into downtown for a few before heading to the airport to pick up the little Jew (Danny Jacobs) and continue our trek through Austin. Interestingly, SXSW buzz is far greater downtown than in the suburban areas from what I can tell. Well, I should amend that: SXSW music buzz is all over, and every coffee shop/bar/private residence has a band playing during the music festival. But the movie festival seems to be a bit more under the radar.

We need to change that. Anyone reading this in Austin?! Let's spread the word...the word of Humboldt County.

-D out

Austin Diary Vol. 2 -- 3.5.08

Greetings LCLs--

Head Cold? 95% wiped out. Feeling good. Ready to rumble.

Since I left you...

Head Shops: Who knew? I've never been more popular. Went to three of them, whipped out the papers and was swarmed by interested parties. We're going to have a very mellow audience for our screenings. I kept mentioning the word "drama" in describing the film, because I don't want people expecting Cheech and Chong. But all in all, hit the jackpot with these places for promotion.

Uncle Billy's: Met up with Tanya, baby Sam, some friends and eventually my Aunt and Uncle for some dinner (BBQ) and beers (delicious). We sat on an amazingly large patio, and dogs are very welcome.

Something about sitting on a patio, listening to everything from Zeppelin to Johnny Cash, drinking beers and eating chips (yes, more queso. And I ate a ton), that just makes you feel like life is pretty good.

Austin Java & Flipnotics: 2 pretty amazing coffee shops right across the street from each other on Lamar Blvd (that reminds me, I drove by our second theater, the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar, much more suburban. Parking should be ample). I find it's easier to strike up conversations with people when I am a customer, and so I buy something at each of these places and speak with the employees and then a few customers. Yesterday, in addition to my two meals, I purchased the following at various restaurants and coffee shops around town while promoting:
1 hot tea.
1 glass, red wine.
1 coffee (I drank none of it. I don't drink coffee).
1 diet coke (I drank it and two refills. I drink lots of diet coke).
1 white chocolate chip cookie (I ate all of it. I eat cookies)
1 sandwich (which I gave to a starving artist on the street after I told him I didn't have time to sit for him to paint my portrait).

All hail per diems.

Election coverage + 9.5 hours sleep:

I got home in time to watch both Democratic victory speeches, the comeback Clinton and the 'no matter what happens tonight we're still ahead in delegates and rhetoric' Obama. For once, I switched from the best political team on TV (CNN) to msNBC with Tim Russert and Keith Olberman (that very well may not be how you spell his name). They went on for a few minutes about the impact SNL had on Clinton's good night, then realized they might be overpromoting their own sister network's influence.

Agenda for the day:

I'm presently holding out leaving the house, hoping a shipment of 8.5 by 10 posters that CD sent will arrive so I can pepper the walls of Austin with them, but I will leave soon regardless. Planning to go downtown and to South Congress Ave, walk and talk and pass out papers and shake hands. Going to pick Danny up at the airport, and then we're going to head to a mixer for other early arriving filmmakers.

More blogs to come.

-D

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Austin Diary Vol. 1 -- 3/4/08

Dear LCLs:

Darren Grodsky here, blogging to you from "Austin's Pizza" on Guadalupe Street. It's 3:45, and I'm drinking a diet coke while a few Europeans nearby scream at the television which is showing a fut-ball match. Every other television is dedicated to the retirement of Brett Favre. Let us all take a moment of silence for the great Brett.

...

Ok, that's better. Here is my Austin experience thus far:

Yesterday afternoon: Flight

Uneventful. 3 hours. Slept a good portion of it. I have a bit of a head cold, and as a result the descent led to popping of the ears and head pressure that felt like diving down to the deep end of a 20 foot deep pool. It was painful. I think my ears finally completely popped back at 11:30 this morning.

Arrival in Austin: Yesterday 5 pm

Got my rental car (a white Chevy. First class all the way) and headed to my cousin Tanya's house. Tanya is married (Scott) and has an adorable 2 year old named Samantha. Last time I was in Austin, Tanya was pregnant, and Scott and I spent much of the weekend frequenting various bars and restaurants throughout Austin. It was incredible. I am excited to be able to party with Tanya and Scott this time. P.S. They like to party. This is going to be a wild week.

Dinner #1

Tanya, Samantha and I went to Chuy's, for some Tex Mex. When I eat Mexican, I eat more tortilla chips than most Superbowl parties. It's sick. When we ordered the queso, I had already consumed two baskets. I kept going. Also had the "Big as your face Burrito," with steak. It was as advertised. Ate it all. And a frozen margarita. Good start.

Today: Alamo Ritz, Whataburger, & UT-Austin

Slept in, trying to knock out this cold. It's almost gone. This morning, I went to check out the Alamo Ritz, where the movie will screen Friday night. Awesome place. Cool neighborhood. It's not just a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, but it's also a party. I marvelled at how few seats 175 really is. We have a large contingency of friends and family coming down. We are a bit concerned. We shall see...

Ate lunch at the What-a-burger, in honor of a late night stop I made with Scott last time in Austin. Ate a Barbecue Cheddar Burger and fries. It was huge. And delicious.

Headed to Guadalupe street, aka "The Drag" and UT-Austin. Walked around campus. Ate a cookie at the Mellow Mushroom. Passed out some rolling papers (don't worry, LCLs, we'll have more after SXSW), talked to some people about the film.

Now, I'm about to head downtown to some more hotspots that were recommended by my cousin, and I'll be meeting them for dinner and drinks at a BBQ place around 6:30.

Danny arrives tomorrow.

We screen Friday. Excitement builds...

Stay tuned for the next edition of the Austin Diary!

Later,

-Darren

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Leavin' on a Jet Plane...

LCLs:

5 years and 3 months ago, December 2002, Danny and I checked into an Inn on the Lost Coast in Shelter Cove, California, set to work on a script called Welcome to Tomorrow. Inspiration took us elsewhere, and we began work on what would eventually become Humboldt County.

In August of 2004, we met Jason Weiss (Captain Deadpan, for those of you new to the blog) at the Blue Plate Cafe in Santa Monica. CD had the fish. We didn't realize it at the time, but a partnership was born over bagels that day. One that would see us shooting a film DURING his wedding, and now about to premiere our film just TWO WEEKS after the birth of his first child. We hope to continue to put strain on his marriage with additional ill-timed projects.

We wrote. We rewrote. We researched. We wrote some more. We raised money. We attached crew. We attached talent. Lost crew. Found crew again.

In October of 2006, we shot for three weeks in Humboldt County, California, on beautiful 35mm film with Panavision cameras.

Through the end of 2006 and all of 2007 we edited, re-edited, oversaw the placement of songs, music, sound, re-edited again, tweaked, and color corrected.

Tomorrow, on March 3, 2008, I will board a plane for Austin, Texas to watch Humboldt County with some of you this coming Friday night at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.

Normally, as this is a family blog, I'd refrain from using any sort of profanity, but pardon me for one moment, as the excitement is just too much...

Holy fucking shit! I can't fucking believe this is actually happening!


Apologies again.
Love and Humboldt,

-Darren

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Video Fun Part Six: Production

Wow. Things are getting intense. We are less than a week away from the premiere of HC. It doesn't seem real, yet. I've been thinking a lot recently about the beginning of this project, five years ago, when Darren and I got a little motel room in Humboldt, completely unaware that we were about to embark on something that would take longer than a presidential term to complete. My god.

Lots of comings and goings this week. We've been doing a bunch of publicity stuff - interviews for the Hollywood Reporter, blogs for the Huffington Post etc. When stuff airs, we'll let you know. Also, I've just been trying to get everything together and in order for the week to come.

And what a week it will be. On Tuesday night, I attend the Fox premiere of a film I acted in called Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation. Yes, it's a remake of the Tom Hanks comedy from the 80s and yes it's a ridiculous teen sex comedy and yes, my bare ass does make a cameo. Still, I think it came out pretty well and you should all buy a copy when it comes out on DVD on March 11th. Okay, there's my plug. And here's the poster (and yes, I have ridiculous facial expression in it):

So after the premiere on Tuesday night, I fly to Austin to meet Darren on Wednesday. Once there we will begin passing out these:



It might be a little hard to see in the photo, but those are "Humboldt County" rolling papers baby! They have our screening information on them and are really cool. Dgro and I will be handing them out on the streets once we hit Austin to drum up some buzz. Yet another incentive to make your way to SXSW.

Then comes Friday at 6 PM. The premiere of "Humboldt County." Just typing it makes me nervous. Darren and I are hoping to be able to stay in the theater for the duration of the film, but we may have to duck out and head to a bar for a drink if our nerves get the best of us.

Finally, the week culminates with my birthday celebration the next night. What a week it will be. And miles to go before I sleep.

Oh, and here's another video. In this one, we blather about the production.


video