Article RSS Feed en-us 40 The main blog feed for my Web site. First Entry <p>Hello! The Internet is cool &#8212; I&#8217;ve installed this weblog onto my server located in Austin, Texas from my cousin&#8217;s house in British Columbia, Canada. Awesome!</p> <p>So this is the first entry for the new documentary diary. You can view the old diary here:</p> <p>I&#8217;m looking forward to getting back and seeing progress on Blaze.</p> <p>I&#8217;m in Canada doing some location scouting for a coming-of-age film that&#8217;s in development. I hope to begin working on this film within the next five years. I&#8217;m also getting some needed R&amp;R &#8212; although I&#8217;ve also managed to work on a segment of the documentary at the same time. But this is more like creative work than the detailed work happening back in Austin.</p> <p>Damon has finished his paper edit for the family segment of the documentary. Mike is working on the Georgia segment and by the time I get back, one of the Georgia folks will be in Austin for a week to assist Mike and visit. Kai is working on Blaze&#8217;s songwriting career, Lisa is working on the Houston music scene and the women in Blaze&#8217;s life, and Aaron will be back to work on his segment.</p> Tue, 12 Aug 2003 05:00:00 GMT New Music! <p>Discovered new music from Georgia. The song &#8220;Sitting by the Road&#8221; is part of this new batch of tunes, apparently recorded in a studio judging by the slight reverb on Blaze&#8217;s voice and the separation of guitar and vocal on each stereo track. Very nice work, probably recorded pre-1980.</p> Mon, 25 Aug 2003 05:00:00 GMT From the Edit Bay <p>Aaron Vega is back from New York and editing here in the edit bay. Damon is coming in this week to assemble his clips for the childhood segment and Mike is beginning to capture clips for his segment on the Georgia days. Kai Mantsch has turned in his paper edit and is now somewhere in Nevada at Burning Man. It feels very early in the project still, there&#8217;s so much to do, but it seems to be progressing.</p> Tue, 26 Aug 2003 05:00:00 GMT Blaze on a Budget <p>Aaron Vega is gone and he leaves behind many rough assemblies. We&#8217;re making progress, which is very encouraging. But time is beginning to run short for the movie if we want to finish it by mid-February. Aaron is talking about Fall of 2004 if we continue running at this rate.</p> <p>There are three characteristics for any project: Speed, Quality, Expense and <span class="caps">BLAZE</span> is no exception. We can choose only two positive aspects of the three, the third must be negative. For instance, we can finish the movie with high quality and low cost (two positives) but it will take time (a negative). I&#8217;m not compromising on Quality, so that leaves Speed and Expense.</p> <p>I&#8217;m trying my best to speed it up, so wish us luck!</p> Thu, 04 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT Rough Assemblies <p>Damon Chang has finished his rough assembly &#8212; Mike Nicholson and Kai Mantsch are in the process of capturing footage into the computer &#8212; and Aaron Vega is back in New York working on another documentary about a musician but will be back in either late October or early November. I&#8217;m busy wrapping up a feature-length documentary of a historic home in Granger, Texas and hope to back on Blaze this week. Mars is joining us in the editing suite as media manager, a much welcome addition to the team!</p> Mon, 15 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT Blazingly Difficult <p>Had a phone conversation with Austin Film Society&#8217;s Elisabeth Sikes to find out why we weren&#8217;t awarded a Texas Filmmakers Production Fund grant. First of all, there were 181 applicants and 17 awards, so slightly less than 10% were awarded.</p> <p>Second, the panelist reviewing our paper application had doubts that, although Blaze sounded like an interesting character, a film about an obscure, dead musician would be difficult to watch for 110 minutes. That was my fault, I arbitrarily picked 110 minutes as the finished length of the film when actually I have no idea, at this point, how long it&#8217;s going to be.</p> <p>But the panelist did make a valid point &#8212; mostly what we have are people talking about Blaze. We&#8217;ve been fairly successful at finding videotape of Blaze performing and there are audio tapes of him talking with friends but very little videotape of him off stage. This is something I&#8217;ve been aware of for several years and have been thinking about &#8212; how to tell his story and keep the audience engaged throughout the entire movie.</p> <p>It&#8217;s an interesting and challenging conundrum. I&#8217;ve been told by several people that the finished length should be 60 minutes. 70 minutes will get us into most film festivals as a feature-length movie, so the festival circuit version may be over 70 minutes while the distributed version is less than 60 minutes long. That&#8217;s one solution &#8212; limit the amount of people talking about Blaze.</p> <p>There&#8217;s also his music &#8212; like Robert Johnson, he wrote songs about his life. So incorporating his songs throughout the story (which we intended to do from the start) is like having him tell his story autobiographically. I&#8217;ve always wanted it to be over 50% music, thus making it elligible for the Grammy long-format music video award. (Gotta aim high if we&#8217;re going to break this movie into the mainstream.)</p> <p>So a bummer that we didn&#8217;t get the grant, we were counting on it, but good that we got feedback to push the story further onto solid ground.</p> Tue, 16 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT Experimental <p>One of the things I&#8217;ve been wrestling with is how to tell Blaze&#8217;s story. His life was so unconventional that telling it through a conventional documentary sounds deadly boring to me.</p> <p>Was having a homebrew this evening with Joey at the Draught House in Austin, a great place to grab a quality homebrew. We got to talking about how Margaret Brown&#8217;s documentary on Townes Van Zandt (<span class="caps">FLYING</span> <span class="caps">SHOES</span>) has the advantage of Townes interviews produced while he was alive. Blaze was shot before even a journalist could interview him (Lee Nichols of the Austin Chronicle was all set to do a feature story on him the week he died). All that&#8217;s left of Blaze are audio tracks and videotape of him talking between songs.</p> <p>We got to talking about a recent documentary where all the filmmakers had of their subject were photographs and the subject narrating his life story (the subject is not dead). Joey said (and I haven&#8217;t seen the doc) that it&#8217;s an experimental documentary in the storytelling structure and composition. That&#8217;s when it suddenly dawned on me that experimental storytelling style would be ideal for Blaze&#8217;s life story &#8212; it seems only appropriate for such an unconventional character.</p> <p>I&#8217;m not sure what this means, there are lots of ways to tell a story and some of them are experimental &#8212; Errol Morris is the king (in my opinion) of experimental documentaries that still find a wide audience. It seems only in character that we find some way to tell his story in the style that would best fit his character and yet expose him to the broadest audience possible. Two criteria that should be possible to satisfy.</p> Thu, 18 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT Flying Shoes <p>Met Margaret Brown this week &#8212; she&#8217;s directing and co-producing the Townes Van Zandt documentary entitled <span class="caps">FLYING</span> <span class="caps">SHOES</span>. Saw an impressive trailer for it that was produced two years ago and which attracted the director Rick Linklater. They&#8217;re now operating out of his production offices, &#8216;Detour.&quot; Margaret is really nice and offered all kinds of good leads and information on potential Blaze material. We commiserated over their good fortune to have Townes interviews and our lack of any Blaze interview. I turned her onto the Austin Pickers clips of Townes and Blaze by Ed Hefflefinger. <span class="caps">FLYING</span> <span class="caps">SHOES</span> is almost finished, she&#8217;s working toward the Sundance film festival submission deadline, so Townes will be out there, coming to you soon!</p> Fri, 19 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT News From the Edit Room <p>Mars is in the house! She&#8217;s helping with media management, making sure clips are following our naming convention, files are stored in the right folders, and capturing clips for Kai Mantsch.</p> <p>We had a nice visit with friends from Georgia and they gave us useful feedback on the intros we&#8217;re developing for the documentary. Will begin to contact more people about video and archival news footage from 1980 and 1989.</p> <p>Finally saw &#8220;The Kid Stays in the Picture&#8221; and liked its use of photographs to convey action and hold interest. It worked in the context of the documentary subject, but not sure if it will work for Blaze. The experimental aspect was subtle, Blaze will probably demand more weirdness with unconventional storytelling and imagery.</p> <p>Spoke with the producer of the Robert Johnson documentary, &#8220;Can&#8217;t You Hear the Wind Howl&#8221; and gained some insight into rights, promotion and distribution. He recommended Shout! Factory for distribution, started by folks from Rykodiscs, a good sign. You can find the Robert Johnson documentary at their website.</p> Mon, 22 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT Thoughts on Blaze's Death <p>About a year ago, we successfully requested the District Attorney&#8217;s files on the trial of Blaze&#8217;s killer who, as many people know, was acquitted. After pouring over the copious documents and listening to the testimony of friends of Blaze, several things appear evident to me.</p> <p>From what I&#8217;ve learned, I believe the jury delivered the correct verdict.</p> <p>I have a feeling that this statement is controversial. I&#8217;ll try and explain.</p> <p>Based on the evidence the DA was allowed to present to the jury, the ease with which the defense attorney was able to discredit the state&#8217;s witnesses, the composition of the jury, Blaze&#8217;s homeless nature and the fact that Blaze had been arrested for &#8220;illegally carrying a weapon&#8221; four months earlier after hitting Carey with an axe handle.</p> <p>Based on all this, it&#8217;s hard to imagine a jury, who didn&#8217;t know either the victim or the defendent, coming back with any other verdict than Not Guilty.</p> <p>Blaze was well known for getting involved when he perceived an injustice. When he learned that an elderly neighbor named Concho, had been physically forced to give up his pension check, he was so moved that he fought with his entire heart, unwilling to back down despite any opposition he faced. Six feet tall and 250 pounds, he had the bulk to back up his intimidating eyes and &#8220;angry face.&#8221;</p> <p>According to testimony by Concho, Blaze came into the house and chased Concho&#8217;s son out of Concho&#8217;s room with a broom handle and yelled insults. I&#8217;m only speculating here, but after six months of treatment like this by Blaze, the son returned with a .22 caliber rifle and shot him.</p> <p>According to statements and police reports, everyone had been drinking. It was like a boiling pot on an open flame.</p> Tue, 23 Sep 2003 05:00:00 GMT