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I made a movie, sort of Libertarian. Some Mises Inst in-jokes.

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SoNowThen Posted: Thu, Nov 1 2012 12:38 AM

Hi all,

I've been lurking on this forum for a few years, and always preferred to read rather than post. Some of you really helped in the push to full-on ancap, so thanks for that. I made a movie and I figured I'd come on the forums and build up some reputation first by posting on various topics, but honestly I didn't have much to contribute.

So I'm just going to throw my project out here and see if anyone is interested. It's mostly a drama about the friendship between an old guy and a young guy, and their pursuit of beauty. But there are some comedic elements and a bit of politics thrown in as well.

You can all check out the trailer here to see if you are interested: artifactsofidealism.com

If it is to anyone's taste, you can download digital copies from the store for free. Just enter "0" in the price field.

If there are any cinema buffs here, the movie is somewhat in the style of Eric Rohmer / Jacques Rozier.

Would love to hear what you all have to think about it!

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Groucho replied on Thu, Nov 1 2012 5:20 AM

I'm intrigued by the trailer - and I like the thoughtful cinematography apparent in scenes like where the old guy and young guy are taking to each other while sitting on a bench, but neither is in the other's frame. Seems like interesting dialogue too. I'll check out a digital copy in the next day or so and see what the whole film is like - thank you for making this available!

BTW, is this your first movie? From what I've seen in the trailer it looks very well done.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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SoNowThen replied on Thu, Nov 1 2012 10:59 AM

Cheers!

This is my second feature-length movie, but the first one was a few years back and it didn't see much play. Those were the days when I thought one could just ship it off to a few festivals and sit back and wait for the plaudits to come in. 

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As an aspiring filmmaker, I'll say this: awesome!

What kind of camera did you use, if you don't mind me asking? Was your set-up single camera or multi?

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Nov 1 2012 5:47 PM

Look cool, I'll certainly watch it!

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Lol, Hoppe at the end.

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SkepticalMetal:

As an aspiring filmmaker, I'll say this: awesome!

What kind of camera did you use, if you don't mind me asking? Was your set-up single camera or multi?

Canon T2i (or 550D, whatever you like to call it), with some really interesting older Soviet lenses. What they lack in sharpness and control they make up for in the tactile (and unique "chalky") quality of the images. Just a one-camera shoot; tried to keep it as simple as possible.

...

Neo: thanks, please do!

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Interesting. Also, did you use a shotgun mic or a wireless mic? (I apologize if I'm bombarding you with questions)

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Malachi replied on Thu, Nov 1 2012 6:39 PM
Have you ever thought about directing a 75 minute gunfight with 10 minutes of dialogue? Because that would sell some tickets.
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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SkepticalMetal:

Interesting. Also, did you use a shotgun mic or a wireless mic? (I apologize if I'm bombarding you with questions)

Mostly wireless, which was a big scandal to the sound people I know. If you want to get more technical or go into more equipment detail without boring the others on an economics/politics forum, feel free to PM me. It's a pleasure to discuss this kind of stuff.

Malachi:

Have you ever thought about directing a 75 minute gunfight with 10 minutes of dialogue? Because that would sell some tickets.

Ha. I've thought about it, yes, except those kinds of movies bore me, so I suspect others would do a lot better job at it than I. Also, to the best of my knowledge, most of Rohmer's movies made a nice profit, as did the major works of Fellini and Bergman. Or to put it in American terms, Frank Capra did pretty well with no gunplay. You could argue that audiences today wouldn't support that sort of thing, but it seems to me it's just a matter of controlling the budget and playing to a few niches. That's why I was hoping with the inclusion of some attractive actresses and the titillation of some libertarian politics I could appeal to this crowd.

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Thanks. I just messaged you.

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Aw, man. Ya got some state on your film! Actually, wait. Who's that at the end? Okay, you got it off.

I see you're into Soviet lenses. It's funny, I have a 16mm motion film Krasnogorsk from 1989 (that amazingly still works). Some free marketers we are! 

Anyway, keep up the good work. This looks like a movie that could attract a diverse audience. Can't wait to watch the whole thing.

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I finally got a chance to watch your movie. I thought it was pretty neat.

There were two times during the movie when I laughed out loud. Movies rarely make me do that. I usually just acknowledge in my head that something was funny. During these two parts, laughs came out of my mouth uncontrollably:

1. When "Robert"? (the retired guy who hires the detective to get information about the girl) is finally sitting next to the gal in the greenhouse.

2. "I look like your mom?"

Especially cool was the ending scene in the cafe.

The only suggestions I could make for next time would be to try different sound equipment. I don't know what it is about the sound production of digital movies that sound so different from that of filmed movies. (I'm not just talking about Hollywood-level filmed movies, even Clerks sounds way different than digital movies. Maybe it's too much background noise? I don't know.)

And I think Charles was a little too well-dressed. I get that it's a part of his character, but at some points it was way too obvious that...I don't know how to put this other than "...that you could tell he was just a guy in a movie." Too wardrobe-y.

And I didn't understand how the irredeemable aspect of Marileen's life (Marileen was the name of the girl they were interested in, right?) was that she was a leftist. Besides, it's not like that group was really calling for anything drastic. "Education for all!" I actually don't see anything wrong with education for all, but the leftists think that means state-funded formal schooling for all. I thought that the older guy would be aware of that distinction. Maybe a couple of more lines of dialogue could have cleared it up (e.g. "What do you mean 'education for all'?" It would have made your political point better, as well).

Anyway, I thought the scene where they find out that the girl is in the lefist group fell flat, and it needed to be something more shocking. Maybe the group she was in would be planning to vandalize the city or something. But even that, why would the other parts of the girl's lifestyle be forgivable by the two guys and not this aspect of the girl's life?

But all-in-all, like I say, I think your movie was pretty neat. Nice to look at, too.

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Dec 22 2012 12:17 PM

Downloading now and will watch soon.

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SoNowThen replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 12:09 AM

QuisCustodiet:

I finally got a chance to watch your movie. I thought it was pretty neat.

There were two times during the movie when I laughed out loud. Movies rarely make me do that. I usually just acknowledge in my head that something was funny. During these two parts, laughs came out of my mouth uncontrollably:

1. When "Robert"? (the retired guy who hires the detective to get information about the girl) is finally sitting next to the gal in the greenhouse.

2. "I look like your mom?"

Especially cool was the ending scene in the cafe.

...

And I didn't understand how the irredeemable aspect of Marileen's life (Marileen was the name of the girl they were interested in, right?) was that she was a leftist. Besides, it's not like that group was really calling for anything drastic.

Awesome -- thanks for watching it and also for giving feedback. That's funny, the "mom" line is also the favorite of my good friend who helped me make the movie. Kudos to Simon (the young actor) on that one, as 95% of the movie is improvised dialog.

Point well taken about the gathering of leftists at the end. It's a sort of joke I have with my friends, that the only thing that turns us off of a pretty girl is when she is a leftist. I can handle shallow, or boring, and have no problem at all with simple/dumb, but when they post something positive about Obama on their Facebook wall it just makes me kind of disgusted with them. I was really hoping this end scene would be clear that everything they were calling for was for MORE government in all aspects, and also doing it in a shrill manner. "Stamp out inequality", "we need government who has the power to act and to give us what we need", the Warren Buffett lie about secretaries and taxes, and then right when Marilee says "why isn't the govt doing more to control how much people are making" it cuts to Robert, who we have seen before is a pretty wealthy guy. So it's almost like a direct attack on him.

But yeah, if that didn't come across then I didn't do my job correctly. The original scene was supposed to take place within a raging (almost rioting) mob of Occupy Montrealers, and the girl was to have something drastic done to her looks (like that horrible thing when chicks shave one third of their hair and sort of comb around it), and the guys run into her in the middle of that. Sadly, I was not able to pull it off. So we switched gears to more of a mockery of the Elizabeth Warren house-meeting where she popularized "you didn't build that".

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Might I ask how you did the film with the actors utilizing extreme improv when you were on a single-cam set-up? How one could do something like that has always been a little confusing to me.

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SoNowThen replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 9:19 PM

SkepticalMetal:

Might I ask how you did the film with the actors utilizing extreme improv when you were on a single-cam set-up? How one could do something like that has always been a little confusing to me.

We should first define what we mean by improv. I do not mean "actors get to say whatever comes into their heads whenever they feel like it and to drastically change it from take to take". I do mean "the script contains no dialog and the actors have to use their own words". So the whole story is carefully structured, and each scene is carefully structured, and the characters are fleshed out in much greater detail than will ever be shown on screen (so the actor knows their past, their preferences, their goals), and (time permitting) scenes are rehearsed. The whole enterprise is also composed in such a way that no individual line is really that essential to moving the story forward (there are the inevitable few, obviously, about time and place that we are seeing or will see on screen, and I did find it difficult managing that, but a director's assistant or a continuity person would have eliminated the problem).

Then on set we begin blocking out the scene, and in some cases building it up from the written version. After doing a few takes we select some of the elements we like, and we piece them together in a way that gets us from point A to point B. This occasionally results in material covered in close up of person X that was not actually shot for person Y. But a director who pays attention will be able to get all the elements he needs to cut the scene together, and so a habit of shooting "loose" (what I call basic but not excessive coverage of all major players in the scene in as close to a single shot as possible) is helpful. If one is planning to do slow-mo and have a specific song playing in the background and to do a couple tracking shots within the scene, you can't get away with much improv beyond a throwaway line here or there.

For the "your mom" line in question, the text stated that because the girl was drunk, the boy thought he could get away with staring at her (he is, after all, pretty much in love with her). She catches him staring, and since it is his nature to be judgemental, and since he didn't really buffer her from her parents as she requested him to earlier in the night, she misunderstands and equates his look to the stress her mom puts on her. So the actress says "why are you looking at me like that... like my mom?", and the scene called for the actor to change the subject by pulling out his iPhone to take photos. Since we had been shooting all day and it was then 3am in the morning, outside, running around full speed trying to get everything we needed, the actor was just in the zone and his character blurted out the cute misunderstanding line of "I look like your mom?", and even better they both brushed it off and just went on the the next beat. Of course it doesn't always work out like this and sometimes the actor is stalled and doesn't know what to say, but that is a failure of the director for not explaining things in proper detail and also for not giving them enough business (note to non-film types: "business" is all the little incidental stuff that happens in a scene, like "he fiddles with a lighter" or "she can't take her eyes off of the curtains").

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I see, that's quite interesting.

And on a somewhat other note - what editing program do you use?

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SoNowThen replied on Mon, Dec 24 2012 10:16 AM

Avid Media Composer. No real reason; just comfortable on it from past work.

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SoNowThen replied on Fri, Mar 8 2013 12:07 PM

Just a heads-up everyone. I'll be taking down the free downloads this weekend in place of a dvd that costs money, so if you want to watch the movie without paying please download it before Sunday.

We are applying to film festivals and they tend to get sad when your movie is available online in full for free.

One of the festivals at which we would really like to exhibit is Anthem at Freedom Fest in Vegas. If anyone feels like helping us out they could email the festival and say "hey, we'd love to see you show this movie...". We've already submitted to them, but any kind words of attention would help I'm sure.

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Have you considered Sundance for it?

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The real issue would be whether Sundance would consider me. I thought not, so I didn't apply. Most festivals charge submission fees (unless you have an in), and very few actually pick from an honest consideration of merit after watching through all submissions. I played that fool's game when I was younger, but now I check with festivals first to see if they would be interested in considering my project and waiving their fees. Anthem was gracious enough to do so, and a few smaller festivals responded positively, so I'll focus on those. If I may generalize, movies without name actors or heavily leftist messages or geek-culture genres do not stand much of a chance being accepted at Sundance, certainly not via unsolicited submission.

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Wow. I've also heard that festivals are where your film is most likely going to be picked up for distribution - if this is the case, do you just add in the distributor in the credits later on?

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They will tack on their credits sometimes, yes. Also a distributor will probably want to re-mix the sound, and possibly even do cuts.

Also, sorry if anyone tried to download this afternoon and didn't get emailed a download link. There was a technical issue and I fixed it now.

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Hans-Hermann Hoppe, I like! :D

"Nutty as squirrel shit."
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From the trailer it seems like my type of movie - are you planning to submit it to a film festival?

EDIT: nevermind, didn't RTFT.

"Nutty as squirrel shit."
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I see. Currently I'm writing an outline for a film, and I was planning on submitting it to the Miami International FF once I'm done making it.

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Sorry for the double-post, as for some reason my other post won't let me edit. But I was wondering if you could say more about your experiences at film festivals (like your dealings with reactions of people who view the film).

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SoNowThen replied on Tue, Mar 19 2013 12:54 AM

I've exhibited one short in a festival (Vancouver Intl) and had my first feature film shown as a one-off of an ongoing monthly program. Other than that my festival experiences til now have been pure rejection. My personal favorite whas the one time we had an in with a guy who actually had the power to accept the movie in a very small festival just outside of Los Angeles. Our contact (an old friend of his) delivered my feature, along with a bottle of red wine and some other plant-based presents, for his consideration. The response back was that the movie was "too David Mamet and too French New Wave". This was supposed to be an insult I guess. That was the greatest burn ever, since I consider both of those things to be awesome. This particular movie was pretty lo-fi though, so I could see it being harder to program, though I have seen much worse garbage play in bigger festivals.

The first film festival (Vancouver) actually gave us free passes and drove us around to screenings and cocktail parties, and my handler was a very nice guy who made every effort to introduce me to other filmmakers and a few minor journalists. The problem was that I was young and cocky, and all the other filmmakers were total leftists who all used government money to make their movies, so I kind of despised them. I wasn't politically/economically aware at all back then, I just knew that I didn't want to be around those people. So I didn't network at all. The showing went okay -- they programmed a bunch of shorts together so they were able to pack a pretty big theatre. Afterwards they brought us up on stage to answer questions. I hate that shit, since the only people who tend to go to film festivals to watch shorts are already pretty up their own ass about what a great art appreciator they are, and then a certain percentage of them feel the need to ask questions just to show how super intelligent they are. So the "questions" turn into rambling monologues about the state of cinema. The rest of the questions are just people trying to be polite and asking stuff like "how did you come up with the idea?", then each person on stage gets 30 seconds to articulate why they spent the last 6 months working on something. The overall audience reactions to the film are similar to this as well, basically just being polite. Which is a death knell; you want them to either hate you or love you, only that they have SOME reaction.

I've found promoting your own film or having it shown as a one-off engagement to be a lot more fruitful, if only because you get a share of the box office, and you can actually try to focus your marketing on people who might care about the characters/story. Plus, when you hang around afterwards people tend to feel more comfortable coming to talk to you one on one. And then if you find a bunch of people you really like, you invite them back to a pub to have a solid chat about what did and didn't work in the picture. These criticisms tend to be worth a lot more, imo. I was able to grind out a profit with the first public showing of my recent movie, and at the same time connect with some of the community where the movie was set. There has been talk of them organizing a second screening at their local library, so it would be cool if it took on a life of its own. We'll see.

Hopefully I'll have more (positive) stories for you after July, when Anthem is over.

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Wow, sounds...negative. What I mean by that is that they don't sound all that fun. I remember I used to want to go to the Canadian government's film commission (even as a U.S. citizen) and obtain money for when I was ready to do a film project...ah, the days before I woke up to the Matrix.

But thanks for sharing. Not sure if you've heard of them, but I'd recommend you check out www.redlettermedia.com. They put out the Plinkett reviews (sardonic live action/Star Wars film footage hybrid reviews with a story arc to themselves) and the show "Half in the Bag," among other things. They appear to be completely independent, doing it all on donations and out of their own pocket. It's the kind of thing I'd want to do as opposed to attempting to cope with a big studio system which wants to shove in leftist sympathies at every turn - of course, I do have ideas for projects that would technically require a moderately big budget, but those are just ideas.

I guess there's plenty of ways a film made by an indie filmmaker could just end up sitting at the floor of his or her closet.

But good luck with Anthem - the film is definitely one that I know will be well-recieved by any audience, especially our kind. Might I ask how your actors took to being in a film with such libertarian themes, or did you do the seemingly impossible and get all libertarian actors?

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SoNowThen replied on Fri, Mar 29 2013 3:59 AM

Sorry for the late reply. I suppose it really can't be all that negative. If I would have got some commercial offer during a festival showing then I'd be all roses about it, but I didn't so I'm not, y'know?

I don't know that the big studio system wants to shove in leftist sympathies, they just don't want to take a whole lot of chances with their money (which is somewhat understandable) so right now there aren't a ton of great Hollywood movies coming out. Hopefully it's just a cycle. I think it's a few embittered souls in Hollywood who have a leftist chip on their shoulder who sometimes try to grow a project around that. I guess I miss the days of actual Frankfurt School influenced Marxists smuggling their dirty ideas into major pictures, and then being Red Baited. Those were worthy intellectual opponents. We just have a bunch of limousine liberals now, nothing a few episodes of South Park can't take care of.

About the actors... well, I'm not sure the libertarian themes in the movie are that overbearing (maybe they are and I just don't feel it). Myself and the other producer are anarcho-capitalists, and the older actor is a minarchist (family escaped the Commies from the Czech Republic), so all the elders in the production were of one mind. I think that made the youngsters at least open to listen. I pitched a private law society to the lead young guy one night when we were walking to location, and at the end of it he said "well, I know you're a nice guy so I won't hold it against you". He grew up in leftist Montreal where there are absolutely no other viewpoints so it was like an alien thing. But most of them were just apolotical. The main gal you could probably classify as a social democrat, but she really doesn't care all that much, and is just a wonderful human being in general so again, pretty open to talking and listening. We (the crew) are all very conservative looking guys, so I think that also scrambled brains a bit that we were doing something "creative", and doing it with our own time and money. Finally, the pickup character, well, he had to learn about Hoppe to play his character so I got to go over a lot of stuff with him and, while he never gave me his own opinion, in order to understand the character he had to think of it from an open and sympathetic light. It seemed like a net positive, along with all the other situations and feelings in the story, we were able to discuss these things that they had never heard before in the context of working together as a team.

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