Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Starting on a new project today. This is a work for hire, which is always a little different than when you're writing your own idea, but still, you want to do a great job. Actually just booked two jobs, so, juggling.

I picked up Lajos Egri's "Art of Dramatic Writing" because sometimes when I don't know where to begin, it helps to start by just reading about writing.

He quotes Ibsen (who funny enough I just read as further inspiration for one of these new scripts) who says -

"When I am writing I must be alone; if I have eight characters of a drama to do with I have society enough; they keep me busy; I must learn to know them. And this process of making their acquaintance is slow and painful.

I make, as a rule, three casts of my dramas, which differ considerably from each other. I mean in characteristics, not in the course of the treatment. When I first settle down to work out my material, I feel as if I have to get to know my characters on a railway journey; the first acquaintance is stuck up, and we have chatted about this and that.

When I write it down again, I already see everything much more clearly, and I know the people as if I had stayed with them for a month at a watering place. I have grasped the leading points of their characters and their little peculiarities..."

Well, Lajos, didn't write what the third pass was, but these two were a good start. I too hate to see people and do a bunch of socializing when I'm immersing myself in a new writing project, so I felt a kinship with Ibsen from the start of the quote. But I think what he's really saying, a great script is not something you enter into casually. It takes everything you have, and it should.

Like Red Smith says, "There's nothing to writing, you just sit at a typewriter and open a vein."

Anyway, that's more or less me putting my friends on notice that you probably won't see me for a while... going Ibsen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Good Humor Fridays

If more nature shows were like this I would watch them all the time. Doesn't really have too much to do with filmmaking, but I'm designating Fridays as Good Humor Fridays. Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Will Follow

This Friday. March 11th. Support black film.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brooklyn Mike!!!

I don't know when Mike Tyson became my favorite comedian, but...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Really great video for all filmmakers-

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

10 Movies Every Photographer Should Watch

I read this article on a blog (see link) and thought it was a great list for filmmakers and writers as well since the primary goal is to tell a story visually.

Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section.

10 Movies Every Photographer Should Watch
13, September 2010

A Still Image from the Movie “The Night Porter“

SO much is going on that I barely have time for anything other than taking care of what’s right in front of me. David had surgery last week, all is good there, he’s recovering nicely. We’re packing up our house, downsizing for the move to NYC! You never realize how much stuff you accumulate until you move! We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on with the Blog that I can’t exactly share just yet, but I think you’ll all be pretty stoked when the news breaks! And I have been working: I shot an ad campaign last month for some nice $$. I shot another Harper’s Bazaar Arabia editorial, this time I shot the cover too! Have an editorial coming out in KURV Magazine in Australia that I’ll blog about once that hits the newsstands and my portfolio now officially is in NYC full time and won’t come be in my possession again until I’m living there! It’s been called in about once a week to various advertising clients and magazines. The transition is going smoothly but it’s non-stop work! AND, we’ll be back in NYC this weekend for our first ever NYC Seminar! We’re shooting at Drive In Studios in Chelsea and we have a great group of people coming that I’m really excited to meet and work with! Damian Monzillo, my brother from another mother, soul friend and hair stylist extraordinaire will be doing the hair for the seminar! He rocks the Universe with his hair, he’s that good! And he’s MY official hair stylist, giving me those razor sharp bangs, my signature trademark. One thing that makes me so happy to be moving to NYC is that Damian lives there! We have such a passion for inspiring work and we love collaborating so my excitement for the move is doubled by knowing Damian will be along side me on the crazy ride that NY surely will be!

Inspiration! I get asked what inspires me almost every day! Most people ask what blogs I follow and they’re disappointed to find out that I don’t really follow any other photographer’s blogs. I follow fashion blogs like Fashionista but I don’t subscribe to any photographer’s blogs. I don’t really check out too much photography either because I get my inspiration from my life experience much of the time. I know I have to keep current with the trends, fashion moves forward with every season and keeping up to date with what’s NOW is really important. Even fashion photography has it’s trends and of course I have to keep up to date with those trends as well. But I don’t sit on other photographer’s blogs reading about photography. If I really am honest here, and I know you appreciate this blog because I’m honest, I get my lighting inspiration from movies. I learn lighting from watching cinematography. I found the cinema before I found the camera. And I was completely hooked from a young age.

A Still Image from the Movie “Chinatown“

My parents were one of the first in our neighborhood to get cable TV. Yeah, way back in the day! We had ON TV. It was one of the first cable TV providers. ON TV had foreign films on it, late at night of course because they were “risque”. I was about 15 years old and couldn’t sleep one night so I was up watching cable and this film came on by Bernardo Bertolucci called La Luna. The story line was pretty racy: a mother and son’s “distorted” relationship involving heroin and opera! Epic drama! But the lighting! I could’ve watched this film with the sound turned off because the visual imagery was so moving. Vittorio Storaro was the cinematographer on La Luna and his work has since then captivated me. He’s lit such other epic films as “Reds“, “The Conformist“, “Last Tango in Paris“, and my personal favorite, “Apocalypse Now“. Who can forget the richness of lighting in that film?? The Robert Duvall scene where he made his troops go surfing during a bombing. Or the deleted scene where Martin Sheen has an affair with the French opium addict. The lighting in the bedroom of that scene sits in the archives in my brain as “go-to” lighting monumental moments!

Shortly after I was transfixed by Bertolucci and his beloved Storaro, I saw a picture in the LA Times advertising a film by Francois Truffaut: “Small Change“. I fell in the love with the picture in the ad and begged my mom to drop me off at the local Landmark theater in Pasadena, The Rialto. The Rialto played all the foreign films on the big screen. I went by myself and sat and watched “Small Change” and “The 400 Blows” by Truffaut. And I was hooked. I went as often as my mom would drop me off to that little theater on Fair Oaks. I soaked it in. I was 16 when I first saw “Last Tango in Paris” and I nearly fell out of my chair. Ha!! But it was the lighting, mainly, in these films that really moved me. And it’s the lighting that still does really move me when I watch a film. And to be even more honest, I can forgive a movie for it’s weak story line or tepid characters if the lighting is profound. In other words, I will watch a movie deemed by the critics as “bad” if the lighting is interesting.

Still Image from the Movie “A Very Long Engagement“

Below is a SMALL list of the 10 movies that have made an impact on me as a photographer. This list is small because there are 100′s of movies that have inspired me. They’ve inspired my lighting, my aesthetic, my sensibility, my eye. Some of them have even inspired me in the way I shoot fashion. I’d love to hear what movies have inspired you as photographers. If I haven’t seen it yet, I will check it out because I am always looking for movies that help direct and guide me on my path of learning and growing as a photographer. 

The Night Porter: This film will always be controversial. You have to see it to understand why. But for me, the lighting in it was amazing. It’s such a twisted dark story but even the main female character, Lucia, who’s name means “light” and her leading man’s guilt complex being afraid of the light just adds so much more intrigue for me as well. I have watched this movie so many times and I always see something new every time I see it. Alfio Contini lit this dark story beautifully.

Apocalypse Now: I mentioned this film earlier and have to mention it again. Although the story carries the film itself and Francis Ford Coppola is truly a genius, the lighting is equally brilliant and so strong that it made you feel like you were really there with the gang on their journey to find Colonel Kurtz. I mentioned a few scenes that stand out to me but I’ll mention another one; the final chapter where Martin Sheen confronts Marlon Brando! I mean, the lighting in that scene is so incredible. I’m getting goosebumps now just writing about it. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s just simply a must.

The Godfather: Again, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film will remain one of the top films ever made. The story, the actors, the art direction, they’re all amazing in this movie. But the lighting was impeccable. I remember the first time I saw this movie. The first scene had me. The lighting had me. Gordon Willis has always been one of my favorite cinematographers. He also lit my favorite Woody Allen movies, “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall”. AND he lit one of my all time favorite movies ever: “Klute”. I put Klute on as background when I’m in bed working on my computer.

Don’t Look Now: Anthony B. Richmond: Genius!!! He also did The Pianist which is phenomenally lit. I go back to “Don’t Look Now” about once a year and watch this movie. Again, it’s a disturbing tale but the lighting informs us that we want to have sympathy for these characters and the grief they’re feeling with the loss of their daughter. It’s just a must-see for the whole entire movie.

Days of Heaven: Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler did such an amazing job on this film that it won an Academy Award, as did a lot of the movies I have mentioned so far. I was basically unconcerned with the story and can’t even remember the plot line too well but I could talk about the cinematography for hours. Nestor Almendros also did “Sophie’s Choice”, another beautifully lit movie.

“Chinatown“: John A. Alonzo lit this tragic story in the harsh Los Angeles sun thus informing the viewer that a film noir doesn’tand “The Pianist”. He’s a genius and he chooses genius cinematographers. Watch all of his films. He just proves that film noir does nothave to be shot in black and white to convey the heaviness of a story. Roman Polanski directed this film and he really is one of my favorite directors. He also directed “Repulsion” and “Rosemary’s Baby”

Strangers on a Train: We can’t leave Hitchcock. And there is so much to learn about photography and film making by watching his movies. I listed Stranger’s on a Train here but Robert Burks, Hitchcock’s premier cinematogapher also was the cinematographer on “Vertigo”, “Birds”, “North by Northwest”, “To catch a thief”, etc. etc. And there is much to learn from all of these films. When 4 of the films I just mentioned either won an Oscar or was nominated for one, you have to study the cinematographer earning that kind of respect. And while I don’t watch Hitchcock’s films on a regular basis, I did when I was going to Art Center and learning about lighting for the first time.

“Out of Africa“: David Watkin’s lighting was so moving that I literally was choked up throughout the entire film. I saw this at the Graumann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd in 1985 and my first husband was so mad at me because I couldn’t stop crying. Ha! Just see if you haven’t. But watch it alone. ; )

“Se7en“: Darius Khondji’s lighting in Se7en is magnificent and flawless. He was also the cinematographer on “Stealing Beauty” which isn’t one of my favorite movies but the lighting was gorgeous! I study Darius’s lighting for Se7en a lot and it’s another movie I will keep on as background. Brilliant!!

“A Very Long Engagement“: Another one of those movies that had me choked up the whole time because of the lighting. Bruno Delbonnel’s lighting in this sad little love story is so over the top beautiful that I immediately watched, back to back, every one of his movies after seeing “A Very Long Engagement”. Delbonnel is probably more famous for “Amelie” but I prefer “A Very Long Engagement”. Maybe it was Gaspard Ulliel who starred as the lost lover in this film that has me won over the other movie. He’s been someone I’ve wanted to photograph for a very long time!
I had to keep this list short! There isn’t enough room or time (or memory in my own mind) to create a list of every movie that has ever moved me. But the above list is a start. Now I want to hear what films have inspired YOU!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Force

This was my favorite of the night. What was yours?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Contenders

The following is a post from John August's blog... a blog EVERY screenwriter should have bookmarked. It was about the WGA's panel "The Contenders" - where eleven of this year's writing nominees were gathered to discuss their projects including rock star Aaron Sorkin. I loved it and felt like the exchange below was one of the better moments of the night so figured I'd share.

"When to talk about your idea

Last night, I moderated a panel with eleven of the writers nominated for WGA screenwriting awards. By any normal standard, it was way too many people to have on a stage, but we managed to make it work. My thanks to the panelists, the WGA and the Writers Guild Foundation for putting it all together.

The organizers had already decided there wouldn’t be a Q&A afterwards, but I wanted to give the audience a chance to participate a little. So I told them to tweet their best question to @johnaugust. I would pick one to ask before the end of the session.

I chose one by @oHaiZZ:

Lawrence Turman suggests asking random people for their opinions of your concept. Any panelists do this or is mums the word?

Aaron Sorkin cautioned that talking about what you’re planning to write can easily sap your enthusiasm for it. Stuart Blumberg agreed, noting that even one ‘meh’ response might scare you off your dream project.

Lisa Cholodenko said that while they were working on The Kids Are All Right, they hadn’t talked to many folks about the plot. Only after the movie was finished did an executive mention that she’d read a couple of scripts with similar storylines over the years. Had Cholodenko known there were competing projects, she might have had second thoughts, worried that someone would beat her to the screen.

I largely agree with these opinions, but I also agree with Turman. I think the difference is that Larry Turman is a producer, not a writer.

A producer serves several functions, but one of the most important is pitchman. He needs to convince directors, actors, studios — and ultimately audiences — to invest their time and money in a movie. So he’s constantly testing and refining his message. He doesn’t have to write “Wuthering Heights with mummies” — he just has to gauge if there’s interest. If no one sparks to it, he has very little at stake.

The writer, on the other hand, has spent days, weeks or months thinking and writing. It’s so easy to get derailed and never finish. So my advice depends on your job title:

Producer – pitch constantly.

Screenwriter – zip it and write.

The 20-page threshold

Several panelists mentioned how valuable they found it to get feedback from trusted colleagues at around the 20-page mark. By that point, you’re far enough into the script to feel you have a handle on it. You hopefully like what you’ve written. But you’re wondering if it’s actually any good.

That’s a good time to get feedback.

It doesn’t have to be 20 pages. For Monsterpocalypse, I shared the first act. For Preacher, it was 45 pages. In both cases, enthusiastic feedback gave me a nice bounce of energy to help me finish.

Yes, you’re taking a risk that you’ll get a bad reaction. But if it’s not working at this stage, it’s unlikely the problems would magically resolve themselves by page 120. Very few good movies have bad first acts. It’s worth stopping forward progress to get the beginning right."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kanye West Power Ad

I want to hate him, but he's just too good.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

I had forgotten about this quote, and then for some reason woke up this morning and it was in my head. I think it's my favorite one ever.

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So, I had a freak out last year, a moment of paranoia, "they're watching me!" that led to me not posting for a little while. But that's dumb. I like having a place on the internet to store things that interest me, but that's interactive enough to let people give me feedback and share things that they like, so... I'm back.

I read this quote today and thought, it's as good as any to start up again with. It's from a book called Uncommon Genius about people who win the MacArthur Prize ("the genius award"):

In the end the common thing linking these creative people separated and floated to the surface like cream... They were all driven, remarkably resilient, adept at creating an environment that suited their needs, skilled at honoring their own peculiar talents... capable of knowing when to follow their instincts and above all, magnificent risk-takers, unafraid to run ahead of the popular tide.

Here's to magnificent risk-takers. Happy New Year.