New Music Video!

So proud and excited to share the news that the band Giant Kitty, featured in my short film ACID TEST, asked me to direct their music video for the title song of their debut album “This Stupid Stuff.” The song is about microaggressions in our language and actions today that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices in our world. The lead singer came up with the concept, which I formalized and structured for shooting/editing purposes.

“The new video, directed by Jenny Waldo, is one of those combination concept and performance videos that’s a throwback to the ’80s, when music videos had their own dedicated television station and the politics of hate weren’t as overt as they are now. With the clever use of the most basic of props, sticky notes and a Sharpie, interwoven with footage of the band performing the tune on stage, ‘The Stupid Stuff’ exposes the absurdity of the politics of hate and fear and its reliance on stereotypes and labels to feed into the ignorance and prejudices that adversely influence your actions and interactions with others.”Examiner.com

Enjoy!

Why this project? Why now?

There’s a lot of work that goes into making a movie – short or long – and I know it’s a choice I make to do it, especially when it’s outside of my day job that keeps me and my children alive. Yes, I would love to be able to do this as my job full-time, but it’s also incredibly freeing to choose which projects to do and when. And no matter how much is going on at my day job, I am constantly, constantly, working on a creative project. I don’t see filmmaking or writing as “work” even though it’s hard. I don’t see it as work even though I know sometimes I’m sucking at it. To me it’s like breathing – it’s part of my autonomic system. It’s in my DNA.

The cover for my journal when I was 15

That knowledge was something I discovered when I dropped acid as a teenager and came home after a concert with hours more to go in my trip. All I wanted to do was write things down. I was a wildly moody teenager (or maybe that’s just being a teenager) and writing about the world and about what was going on in my head helped me survive from one day to the next. I truly believe that writing saved my life, and as it saved my life it became my life. So no matter what I’m doing, every day, I’m writing or reading or watching something that expands my knowledge of the world, of myself, of people, but mostly of storytelling. The goal changed as well from simply surviving to the next day to producing something for someone else to enjoy.

Recently, I wrote a short film about this moment in my childhood. ACID TEST will be in production at the end of January. So the question is: Why this project? Why now?

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Support Short Films! ACID TEST

We are producing the upcoming short film ACID TEST about a teenage girl who drops acid at a concert only to go home and confess to her parents what she’s done with four more hours to go in her “trip.” Set in 1992, the story is about teenage rebellion and parents’ unconditional love and was inspired by difficult personal experiences.

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To be or not to be…Casting

I’m currently casting for an upcoming short film that I’ve written and will direct. As a writer/director, I both love and hate the casting process. I love it because I get to try on different faces and voices and bodies to the characters and words I’ve had dancing around in my head; I hate it because I have to pass judgment on people based on face value. It always makes me think how hard it must be to be an actor, putting your face and your body out there for a quick judgment without knowing you or your abilities or your passions. I couldn’t do it, and so I admire everyone who is bold enough to throw in their hat, and I want to tell each and every one of you “Good luck!” and “I wish I could take all of you!”

At the same time, I see a number of ways that actors are shooting themselves in the foot with their submissions. Websites like Backstage.com or Actors Access allow you to submit more and more to peak a casting director’s interest, but MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. So here are some things, obviously based on my own opinions and experience, that I would like to offer as food for thought when you submit:

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Nightmares are Real

One winter when I was around 10, on the road back to DC from Montreal, the weather forced us to stop overnight. In a hotel room with a street lamp right outside our window, casting shadows everywhere, my father turned on the TV and watched NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I was supposed to be asleep in bed, but I wasn’t. And so I watched and would be afraid of Freddy Kruger well into my adult life.

Wes Craven terrified me as a child, and yet from everything I’ve read about the man, he seemed so unassuming, so quiet, and so nice. There was something about this sensitivity, his intelligence, and his quiet yet forceful dedication toward storytelling and filmmaking that I always respected and admired. He was part of the flashiest section in the flashiest field and yet he seemed anything but. It’s a testament to the imagination. He is our generation’s Hitchcock.

RIP to a man who made nightmares real and revolutionized and inspired horror films.

The Wonder of Harry Potter Land

It’s summer in Florida; people said not to go. But due to various scheduling restrictions, we had no choice. We had to go to Orlando at the end of July and do Disney and Universal with the mob of everyone else. I think we did it right overall, but the highlight of the trip, hands down, was Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando.

“Why?” My brother asked, astounded (and possibly disgusted since he hasn’t read any of the books and only saw the movies under familial pressure). “You’ve traveled around and seen real castles and real towns and real beauty, but you act as if nothing compares to Harry Potter Land.”

He was right: nothing compares. I can tell you that Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve been to and still go googly-eyed looking at the Hogwarts Castle in Hogsmeade. They are two completely different things. One is borne out of history and survival. The other is borne out of the imagination.

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Movie Mondays: What I Learned at Cannes

I can only speak to my experience, and I hope to go again to build from this experience. I’m sure some of this info will change for the next year, but the gist of it will probably remain. I think so much depends on your expectations and goals and how you adjust to the reality when you arrive.

Going into the trip, I imagined Cannes was going to be a glamorous and elegant event all around, filled with celebrities right and left. Having lived and worked in Hollywood for a few years, especially on studio lots, I thought that by gaining entrance to this invitation-only event, that I would be treated like I belonged in this crazy world of movie-making.

Why am I always looking for approval and validation?

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Movie Mondays: The Importance of Intimacy

Instead of calling this a review of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, I want to talk about finding the HEART in PLOT. Yes, AGE OF ULTRON is a big huge action movie. Yes, it’s fluff and fun and who thinks about intimacy and feelings when there’s stuff to blow up that looks awesome at the same time? And I LOVE big huge action movies, so it’s not like I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges. So, yes, AGE OF ULTRON is fun, it’s watchable, it has some moments, but it’s lacking in something critical to making audiences really connect with the action, really feel the stakes that are at risk, and from a writer/director who I know can do so much better, that left me disappointed.

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Movie Mondays: NEWS! Cannes Short Film Corner

The short film I produced last year, NEXT EXIT, was accepted to the Cannes Short Film Corner!

Organized by the Festival de Cannes, the Short Film Corner is the essential rendez-vous for filmmakers.  Since 2004, short film producers and directors have chosen the Short Film Corner as the place to present their films, make meetings reality and take decisive steps for their future careers.  “The Short Film Corner hands you an annual tailor-made program of industry meets, workshops and conferences that deal with strategic issues. You will benefit from all the advantages of being a Festival de Cannes accredited attendee, from being able to access the Marché du Film exhibitors or those in the Village International. You will also be able to network with all the biggest industry players: institutions, financiers and the most important international reps in the film business.”

Whoop whoop!  So excited!!!!

The official selection for the Cannes Film Festival competition is then made from the selection of films in the Corner, to be announced on April 16th.  Fingers crossed we still have a chance to be part of the official Cannes Film Festival!

Movie Mondays: THE ONE I LOVE review

I have a love/hate relationship with what is considered “indie” film.

On the one hand, the fact that the tools to make films and to experiment with that medium are cheaper and more prevalent than ever before and that is an amazing and exciting development that allows for diversity in visual story-telling. I love the energy of independent films: it’s walking a tightrope without a safety net. Everything is on the line. Everyone is putting in their all on the prayer that their film gets noticed in a big enough way that they can break even, get another job, or better yet make money and launch a career. Indie films are often intimate stories that often focus on the real and dirty parts of the human existence in a realistic or honest or even scathing way.

On the other hand, many of the films I’ve seen or read about that come out of the festival circuit with lots of buzz are just plain weird. For a while there was a cinematography “style” where shots were never fully in focus. A lot of the festival favorites are so myopic in their “slice of life” tale that the audience has no idea how the characters got themselves into their particular situation or how it will all resolve even after the credits roll.

But what I truly hate about independent films is that I often don’t feel a damn thing once I’ve watched it. The film might be thought-provoking, even interesting, but more often than not, indie films follow completely unlikable characters and use odd plot devices to get their characters into a strange situation and I don’t end up enjoying the ride. I feel nothing except the confusion that I spent an hour and a half watching good actors and beautiful cinematography and good editing/sound design and I felt no connection to the characters, to their dilemma, and when it ended I couldn’t care less.

That was my experience of THE ONE I LOVE.

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