Juno

Okay... I'm a really shitty blogger. I'm an absentee blogger. I doubt any one reads this webpage anymore. Why bother. Posting eveyr three months isn't exactly how it's supposed to work. That said, I have gone back over the last few months and created bite sized posts on everything that has happened. All my crazy travels. It's not as detailed as usual, but perhaps that's for the better. If you like, go back to the London post and read your way up to here and you'll be completely caught up.

The most important piece of news is my new movie - "Juno"

It was a hot spec script a year ago when Brad Silberling jumped on board to direct. I’ll be completely honest - At the time, I was really jealous. I loved the script. But, a few weeks ago, he parted ways with the film and I have been given the shot.

The story follows a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant, but decides not to have an abortion. The movie follows her relationship with the two parents that decide to adopt the unborn child. The dialogue is simply delicious and it’s as good a script as I’ve ever read. Can’t wait to start shooting.

It was written by a woman named Diablo Cody who is quite the blogger (much better than I am). I would name her website, but it’s rather vulgar. In fact, the story goes that the guy who discovered the script stumbled on her website while searching for porn. I’m sure you can google your way there in a few seconds.

Updates as they come in. Hope to be shooting by Fall. Wish me luck.

Australia

I’m catching up on all my blog writing while on a plane back from Sydney. In fact, on this trip, I will officially cross one hundred thousand miles of flying for the year (and it’s August 2nd). I have joined the highest level of membership within the United premier system and I have come very used to living on planes. I can do a week trip with only a carry on. I'm beginning to reckognise flight attendants.

The Melbourne Film Festival was really cool. We played in this theater called the Regent which is an old gorgeous palace that seats around 1500 people. We were sold out with a line around the block. The film played huge. I can’t tell you what it’s like to hear that many people laugh at your film.

Day two of my trip, news came out that Mel Gibson had launched into an Anti-Semitic tirade following a drunk driving arrest. Immediately, I began getting questions about his early involvement in TYFS. Truth is, I spoke to the guy once. He called me from his plane back in 2001 to tell me how much he enjoyed my script. Never spoke to him again. I wasn’t a fan of the Passions. I found it offensive and a cruel piece of filmmaking. As far as the arrest goes, I guess the best part of building a church in your back yard, is confession is always thirty feet away.

Last night, we showed the film at an event called Popcorn Taxi. A film community thing that has boasted many director appearances in its past. I was halfway through my Q&A when I realized it would be the last stop on the TYFS tour. I’ve been invited to do more stops. France, Italy. Peru. I was even supposed to go to the Jerusalem Film Festival. We actually opened in Israel a week ago and got some box office. My wife thinks that it’s just people trying to avoid being bombed. Anyhow, it hit me that it was all coming to an end.

You see, I’ve signed up for my next movie, and I have to get back to work. Don’t get me wrong - Touring with the film is absolutely wonderful. I know I’m an asshole to turn down free trips to Paris and Rome, but at some point, you need to create something new. As I fly back to Los Angeles, all I can think about is getting back on set. We’re having a meeting tomorrow to discuss casting and locations. More to follow on all that.
Dsc00540

Hard C

It’s time I mention my new company. Hard C. I formed it with my producing partner, Daniel Dubiecki. We have a deal at Fox to make subversive indy comedies. We’re gearing up to do a whole bunch of cool shit. We have already hired a writer to begin a first project and are eagerly looking for young short film makers to kick start their careers.

We opened up an office in Hollywood above a tattoo parlor and below a gun shop. Once a day, someone comes in asking if we are the gun shop. I just can’t imagine how they come in, see the movie posters (and no guns) and still manage to ask. We’re either in the safest or most dangerous building in town.

In July, we had our coming out party by holding the Hard C School Dance – An event at a club in Hollywood where everyone came dressed in private school uniform and we only played music from the 80’s and early 90’s. It was outrageous. You can’t imagine what it looks like when studio execs and agents dance. JK Simmons came dressed as his 70’s high school principle.

Watch for plenty of cool stuff on the horizon from the company. We’re going to be taking part in all mediums. First, I have to get air conditioning in my office. We’re having a heat wave and my arms keep sticking to my desk.

Germany

I land in Munich after a canceled flight out of New York and am pretty exhausted when the flight attendant says over the P.A. system, “Passenger Reitman, please see us before you deplane.” Yikes, not what you want to hear when you’re a Jew arriving in Germany. Turns out, the Munich Film Festival convinced the airport I was some sort of celebrity and they had a waiting BMW 7 series to pick me up.

I literally stepped off the plane, walked down the stairs of the jet bridge and got into a car. I went to a VIP lounge where a customs officer came over to me to stamp my passport. Then we drive right off the tarmac onto the highway. I made the mistake of remarking how new the city looked. To which I was told, 80% of the place was destroyed during the war. I got to the hotel and the place was mobbed. The Rolling Stones were staying in the same place.

The screening at the film festival started, when I suddenly remember there’s a Nazi joke in the first five minutes of TYFS. We show a German guy gassing mice as Nick says in Voice Over “We found him in Germany. I won’t go into the details." I squirmed as the scene came up – But the audience howled. They love the movie. We even win the audience award.

Before I leave, I eat what is supposed to be the best Wiener Schnitzel in Munich. I am disappointed to find out that Wiener Schnitzel isn’t German, but rather Austrian. How else have I been defrauded?

The Lufthansa flight back is incredible. They have wireless internet on board I end up instant messengering with my wife the whole way back. It’s an exciting time to be alive.

Palm Springs

Got out of town for a week to write. Okay, I know what you’re thinking - What a wussy thing to do. I can’t write in my own living room? You know what? I can’t tell you how much easier it is to write, sitting in the middle of the desert in an air conditioned hotel room. I got fifty pages done in a week. Los Angeles is all distractions. Palm Springs sucks. 120 degrees? I can’t wait to get back there and do nothing but write and eat room service.

Funny story from dinner at Benihanas. I’m eating alone at one of those big stove top tables, where the chef performs for you (which is weird enough in itself when you're there alone), when this girl in her early twenties at a neighboring table suddenly gets up and screams “No fucking way! I’m not going to let him choke me! He’s going to kill me!” She storms out followed by a few friends. She was amongst a pretty big group. Maybe twenty people.

Later on, I’m at the valet waiting for my car where the aftermath is still unfolding. A cop is interviewing a couple people. People are split up in groups deliberating. One guy in his fifties comes up and asks me if I’m staying at the same hotel as his family. I am. He asks for a ride. His family seems nice enough. I say sure.

We start driving back up to the hotel. The father is really pissed. I ask him if he knew the girl who ran out. He sighs and says yes. He continues to explain that they’re all there in town for a wedding the next day… and the girl who ran out screaming is the bride. The last thing I heard as I left was one guy saying, “Well I sure hope we can still get a round of golf in tomorrow, make this whole trip worth while.”
Writing

LA Film Festival

Got back to town and juried the short films at LA Film Fest. After the last couple festivals, I’d seen over half of the shorts already. Crazy. I already have another jury gig at Palm Springs in August and I can’t imagine there’s many shorts I haven’t seen at this point.

I have to give tremendous credit to LAFF for moving to Westwood. I’ve been attending the festival for years and for the first time, it feels like the festival has its own village. Not to mention that the theaters in Westwood are the greatest in the world. And yes, the Mann Village is the greatest theater in the world. Fuck the Arclight. Fuck the Mann Chinese.

Seattle

Dropped into Seattle for a couple days to be a short film juror at the film festival. They programmed 180 short films and I watched all of them. I used Excel to calculate the amount of time I spent watching shorts – 26 hours of short films. Phew. We awarded best drama the this Hungarian piece called “Before Dawn”. Fifteen minutes, no dialogue, all one shot. It was incredible. Also awarded a doc called “Lot 63, Grave C” about the guy who was killed at Altamont. Incredibly subtle and beautiful.

I spoke on a panel about music in film with music supervisors and record label folks. I think I pissed off the rest of the panel when I opened by telling short filmmakers to steal music when it comes to film festival rights.

Sorry.

Japan

Tokyo is simply bad ass. Been a few times recently and can’t get enough. Style, food, technology. It’s unlike any place on Earth. We stayed at this place called the Strings that looks over the whole city.

Doing press here was crazy. I had this interpreter that wouldn’t translate certain jokes I said, if she thought they were offensive. She would just give me this funny look and then shake her head “no”.

The film showed at a short film festival called Short Shorts, where we played years ago with our short “In God We Trust”. The screening was a little out there. Everyone seemed to enjoy the film, but they definitely didn’t laugh like they do everywhere else. It’s as if they took the film as a drama. For instance:

When Nick Naylor goes to his son’s career day, a little blonde girl says, “My mom says cigarettes kill.” To which Nick responds, “Is your mom a doctor? A scientific researcher?” She demures and Nick continues “Well, she doesn’t exactly sound like a credible expert.” Normally, audiences find this hilarious. The Japanese response was completely serious. Like, well, he got her there.

One night the festival took us to a restaurant owned by Kurosawa's family, using Akira's favorite recipes. We sat with Jitae Yoo from "Oldboy" and a real deal Sumo wrestler. I asked him if he has issues with these new eatsern European guy strying to crash the sport. He said no and that he respected them. he was very respectful in general. I asked if their body hair got in the way and he started to crack up. he finally settled himself and said that he was too focused to be thrown off by body hair.
Dsc00500
Dsc00425

London

In May, we brought the film to the UK. A fun exhausting trip. It started in Whales at a literary festival in a tiny village that boasts the most used book stores per capita in the world. They show movies and included TYFS. Fun audience. Stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, where the heavily tattooed inn keeper got in a fight with the couple checking in before us. Fun town.

One of my favorite doc directors, Nick Broomfield, attended our screening and we got to talking after. He seemed to dig the film. He showed half of his new flick, "Ghosts", there as well. It's a dramatic feature about immigrant Chinese in England. It was incredibly moving and and greatly benefited from his handheld shooting style. I can’t wait to see the rest.

All in all, the British seemed to really like the film. I think the dark sense of humor is up their alley. While doing press, I met reporters from all over Europe. It's crazy to think that people all over the world ar egoing to be seeing this thing. My wife and I went to see that Mary Poppins musical. Couldn’t get that annoying “Feed the Birds” song out of my head for weeks.

We touched down in Los Angeles for literally 36 hours and got back on a plane – This time for Tokyo. I know – I’m a rock star. Actually, I’m not. I’m really boring and just kind of exhausted.

Muslim Death Metal

I knew it had been a while since my last blog, but I didn’t realize it was a month. Yikes. For anyone who actually reads this thing… I apologize.

Aspen Shorts Fest was just fantastic. When young filmmakers come and ask me where they should submit their short films, I always start by saying Aspen. They have a separate festival strictly for shorts and have impeccable taste. They treat short filmmakers like artists and create a community among them for those four days that lasts a lifetime. I am still close with directors from my first year there.

That said, this year was different. This year, they were showing a retrospective of my short film work including commercials. In addition, this year I was a judge. The show of my shorts was a lot of fun. I got a real kick out of seeing work from almost a decade ago projected for an audience. But it’s kind of like looking at old photos of yourself from the 80’s. You can’t help thinking how dated everything looks…

I can’t believe I used to be into that music over the end titles.
That camera technique is so 1998 - Speed Ramps – Yikes!
Did I think white flashes were cool?

However, they ended the festival by showing TYFS. In looking at everything I’ve done over the last decade, I could actually trace my style and see how I got to where I am now. It also got me thinking about what I would learn over the coming ten years.

Being a judge was trickier than I thought. First of all, you’re not allowed to sleep through any films. I know this seems like a dick thing to say, but you’re watching a hundred films over four days in a dark theater. When I come just as a spectator, if there’s a thirty minute Polish film about the emotional crisis of a deep sea fisherman… I might just nod off. It’s a rare occurrence, but it happens. The nice thing about short films is you can wake up twenty minutes later and there’s something new to enjoy.

However, you can’t do that when you’re a juror. Reason 1 – You’re watching the films with the filmmakers… and for some ungodly reason, you always happen to be sitting across the aisle from the director of that short with five minutes of straight cow milking. (It’s a metaphor!)… Yeah, I get it. Reason 2 – If that one turns out to be brilliant, you can’t be the tool in the jury room that can’t quite remember what happened from minutes 2-14.

For the most part, the shorts are incredible and often make me want to be a better filmmaker. Favorites included a Spanish short film called “Crash” about a husband and wife going through an emotional crisis during a game of bumper cars. A British Short called “Antonio’s Breakfast” about a teenager forced to take care of his dying father (it’s better than it sounds). An Australian horror short called “Monster” that scared the bejesus (sp?) out of the audience. I think my favorite was this little short called “Heavy Metal Drummer” about a Muslim kid who just wants to play death metal, but is forced to play drums in a smooth jazz wedding band.

So much more has happened in the last month. I will try to write over the weekend. I’ve been doing all kinds of interesting interviews. Going on cool meetings. I even went to the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Stay tuned. I’ll catch up. Happy Cinco De Mayo.