Year of the Possum trailer

As many of you know, I filmed the Green Grass Cloggers on their 40th anniversary tour, from April 2011 – February 2012. I have finished up shooting, and now I’m starting to edit. Here’s the film’s trailer!

Anyone wishing to donate funds to offset some post-production costs (getting the screen on my second computer repaired, printing and packaging fees for the completed film, film festival submission fees) may do through the kazoofilms website! Simply indicate in your payment that the donation is for “Year of the Possum.” A donation of any size is helpful, and very much appreciated!

We’re in at Appalachian!

So after long months of waiting we’ve started hearing back from film festivals! Our first official festival screening will be at the Appalachian Film Festival in Huntington, West Virginia. Our film will be leading off the festival on the evening of Thursday, Feb 23 at the Black Sheep venue. We’re super excited and can’t wait for the film to reach a broader audience. We hope to see some of you there (especially Ted Cooley and Cory Shenk)!

7 Films that Influenced “If I Had Wings to Fly”

I have seen a lot of movies. And you could make the argument that they have all shaped me as a filmmaker. That being said, I’m going to mention a specific few that I draw a lot of strength from. It should also be noted that these are films that have influenced me positively. I could easily argue that a very influential movie for If I Had Wings To Fly was, let’s say, Transformers, because I saw that and thought, “I want to make whatever is the opposite of that.” This applies to most big blockbuster movies. Honestly, another negative influence is the WNC-set Songcatcher. Harrison and I saw it, and we wanted to do something really different.

I am also writing this to give a little bit of recognition to these mostly-on-the-obscure-side films. There are a lot of really good movies that will simply never play in most American cities, which to me is a shame.

(This list does not necessarily reflect the influences of Harrison.)

Old Joy  – Directed by Kelly Reichardt (2006)

This is a beautiful little movie about the spaces between friends, set against the wild of rural Oregon. To me, it shows the artistry that can be accomplished with a relatively low budget. Check this one out!

 

Mutual Appreciation – Directed by Andrew Bujalski (2005)

In my opinion, this is the most worthy and wonderful film in the “mumblecore” genre. It’s very subtle. The acting, the imagery, the storyline, all seem to have the volume turned way, way down. It is an intentionally cheap, low-key, intelligent, yet unambitious look at young people who are cheap, low-key, and intelligent yet unambitious, acted out by non-actors who are all these things in real life. Its triumph is simply getting all the unimportant stuff – big name actors, big set pieces, big drama, etc etc – out of the way to let the small moments of humanity and truth shine through.

 

Slacker – Directed by Richard Linklater (1991)

Iconoclastic hipster director Richard Linklater’s first film, shot on a ridiculously low budget. Basically a portrait of the young, grungy unemployable intelligensia of early 90’s Austin. As he was making it, he would tell his actors (all non-professionals) “I’m making a documentary about people acting in a movie” or something like that. Everyone is playing themselves and they seem to be having a pretty good time. Some critic once wrote that it is “in the tradition of great Russian novels. That is, the most important philosophical questions in life are at the very center of the story.” Or something like that.

 

Tropical Malady – Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2004)

I love this movie! I can’t say exactly how it’s an influence…. It interweaves a contemporary, human story with elements of folklore and fantasy, which I admire. It is steeped in wonder and love for the natural world, which I admire. It is really, really slow, which I like, but of course that turns a lot of people off. The first half: a young solider in Thailand falls in love and begins a tender courtship with a local farm boy. The second half: the farm boy is re-imagined as a shape-shifting tiger, the solider as a hunter. They stalk each other in the jungle, where all sorts of wondrous events occur. Sound weird? See it!

 

Days of Heaven – Directed by Terrence Malick (1978)

Here is a movie to which I, like many other young filmmakers, will ever aspire. The story unfolds like a dream. Image after shining, beautiful image rouses from slumber, stretches toward the sky, and then fades away. The very landscape aches with the unfulfillable longing of the characters. Yikes!

 

I’m Not There – Directed by Todd Haynes (2007)

Todd Haynes is one of my favorite directors, and this is a artful and brilliant exploration of Bob Dylan’s career. I admit, though, I’m Not There doesn’t really resemble If I Had Wings to Fly. Its influence comes from the way it uses music – I’m Not There is not only about music and a musician, songs are woven into the very texture of the film. From the soundtrack, to on-screen performances and music videos, to lyric fragments in dialogue, and visual puns, the film bursts at the seams with music. Music permeates the story, but does so in a way that advances the narrative, and illustrates the emotional journeys of the characters. It is music used intentionally – rare in a film industry where a cloying musical underscore is an unquestioned convention.

 

Bummer Summer – Directed by Zach Weintraub (2010)

Harrison and I went to college with Zach. He left school a semester early to go to his hometown, Olympia, Washington, to make a little movie about young hipstery kids like himself. Then, Harrison and I moved to North Carolina with some vague ideas about making a little movie about young people playing banjos and hanging out in the woods. A few months later, we got to see an early cut of Bummer Summer and we said, “Hot damn! If he can do it, so can we.” So we decided to stop farting around and actually make If I Had Wings to Fly. Actually, the farting around continued for a long time, and hasn’t really ceased as far as I can tell, but the movie did get made.

To be exact, Bummer Summer more inspired than influenced us. Most movies, when you see them, you think to yourself, “I could never make that” or “how the heck did they do that?” Which, to my way of thinking, is bad. I like a movie that makes you say, “Hey, I’m gonna make a movie too!” Like Bummer Summer did for us, and as I hope If I Had Wings to Fly does for somebody else.

Woody Guthrie said “I just hate a song that makes you feel no good.” And Bob Dylan said something like “I’m just trying to inspire people. I mean, what else can you really do for anyone?”

So there ya go.

Bruno

Sneak Preview Screening of “If I Had Wings to Fly”

Well well well,

We have a special announcement today. There will be a sneak preview showing of our film this October, the day after Forrest Oliphant’s wedding! This is your first big chance to see the project!

Now, this is a sneak peek – not the official premiere. There will be significantly more hullaballoo at the premiere, and it will also be held at a more central location than Murphy, NC (sorry Murphy). Also, please note that this advanced screening is in honor of Forrest’s wedding; the movie is not finished yet! There may be some outstanding sound issues, and color and resolution will not be finalized. Hopefully full credits will be in place, but no promises!

So, one and all are invited to the film showing, but if you can’t make it, don’t fret! There will be others! In the coming months, If I Had Wings to Fly will be coming to a theater near YOU!

Where: The Historic Henn Theater in Murphy, NC

When: Sunday, October 16th at 2 PM

The Henn theater has graciously offered to show the film without charging admission, but their concession stand will be open if you want to support the theater (which you should). And as always, Kazoo Films will be accepting donations to help out with the costs of finalizing the project – DVD printing and casing, posters, film festival submission fees, etc.

See you there!

Picture Lock and Sound Editing

Howdy howdy,

We are proud to announce that If I Had Wings to Fly has reached picture lock! The next step is sound editing.

It feels really good to have what in many ways resembles a completed film. But now, we have to do nothing less that create a soundscape for each and every scene. This means mixing and smoothing all of the music, dialogue, sound effects and ambient noise that we recorded during production, as well as going into the field and into the studio to record more of all of the above. Sound effects recorded in the studio are called Foley, for reasons beyond me. We also may do some automated dialogue replacement (ADR).

We are teaming up with local Asheville sound editor Chris Burbach. He uses the software ProTools; he’ll be working with us to craft a sound mix that does justice to all the great performers who lent their voices and music to the film. We are thrilled to add him to the Kazoo team! Welcome aboard Chris.

On an (even) lighter note, we have some good news to announce! If I Had Wings to Fly actors Forrest Oliphant (Felix) and Dom Flemons (Joe) are getting married this October (not to each other)! Forrest’s wedding will be at the John C. Campbell Folk School, around where much of the film was shot. Congratulations Forrest and Dom!


Love is in the air…..between each of them and their respective fiances.

Green Grass Cloggers Documentary

Howdy!

As some of you know, I joined the internationally celebrated traditional Appalachian clogging team the Green Grass Cloggers last September, shortly after we wrapped If I Had Wings to Fly. This is the team’s 40th year, and after some deliberation, in May we decided to start working on a documentary that would celebrate the 40th year milestone and chronicle the team’s fascinating legacy.

I have been filming our summer 2011 tour on borrowed cameras, and have decided to start actually raising funds to make this project happen.

So check out the kickstarter page for Year of the Possum HERE!

Thanks!

Rough Cut…Fine Cut….

Just a quick update today.

When you start editing a film, you usually first put together an “assembly” or a “rough assembly,” which is essentially everything you shot put in sequence so as to resemble the movie’s storyline. This will be very, very rough looking (and sounding), and way too long. Then you clean it up a bit, snip out the stuff that is obviously not working, and you have a “rough cut.”

The next goal to reach in editing is called the “fine cut.” The amount of work between rough and fine cuts is as little or much as you can imagine. Sometimes it’s just a little tightening and polish and suddenly, blam! you’re at the fine cut. But more often this is a lengthy process of working and reworking sequences, moving things around like a puzzle, removing and adding scenes, endeavoring to make the story come through properly while maintaining control of the mood and tone.

So, I am proud to announce that we have a fine cut. It is not the final cut as of yet, but what we have is basically a completed movie, it is just not quite yet the completed movie that we intend to release. Jesse Fisher, our talented editor, has handed over the post-production reins to Harrison and myself to pilot the film through the home stretch.

Once some final edits are made, we will officially have “picture lock,” which means that the image part of the movie will undergo no more editing. At that point sound will be mixed, which is a whole other, albeit briefer, adventure.

On-set photo by Tipper Presley

Brushing Away the Cobwebs

Well, it has once again been over two months since I have written a blog entry.

Actually, considering that the last two entries were technically penned by Anne Beale, it has been even longer. Anyway, it’s easy to write when you are in the habit of updating once or twice a week, but when inertia sets in, it sets in hard, and brushing off the cobwebs can be a more arduous task than you expected.

The Kazoo Films Blog

A rough overview of where we’re at: Jesse Fisher, our editor, finished the first cut of the film back in January. Harrison and I watched it a couple of times. We have done phone calls, emails, and video chats with Jesse, and for the last two months have been slowly and painstakingly working our way through the second cut, couple-minute chunks at a time. Most film festivals accept works in progress, so when we have a version of the complete film that we like enough, we will start submitting. Then, we will finish it up lickety-split, and start hosting screenings in theaters, churches, cafes, folk schools, on the sides of barns, and in your living rooms. Hopefully, between all these showings and all the festivals, we can get at least as many people to see it as helped make it!

Now, the first cut was far from being a finished film, but it looked great! It was exciting to begin to see the fruits of our labor come together in a nice fruit salad, even if the fruit salad had maybe a few too many blueberries, a rotten grape or two, the bananas weren’t sliced quite thinly enough, and we found altogether fewer mandarin orange slices than we had hoped. Also, we are endeavoring to emerge with a nicely arranged fruit salad, rather than a tossed hodgepodge, but I think what I’m trying to say is that in the first cut of If I Had Wings to Fly we saw all the ingredients for what could be a truly great fruit salad.

* * * * *

In other news: Kazoo Films featured performer Dom Flemons just won a grammy with his incredible group the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Congratulations Dom! And, may I say, congratulations Grammys for managing to actually give an award to folks who deserve it!

This is the only photo of Dom that I am aware of in which he is not wearing suspenders (he's on the left).

 

Also, a wonderful folk music blog called The Old Weird America just published an entry about Bascom Lamar Lunsford, featuring a concise discussion of the man and his work as well as the opportunity to download 30 of his songs. Check it out!

oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com

A young and angsty Bascom

Finally, please keep abreast of our cinematographer’s (very interesting) filmic doings on his (snazzier AND more frequently updated) website.

http://www.nandanrao.com

Thanks for reading!

love, Bruno