Sometimes I think I should be reading something a bit more cheerful, but as Jay-Z says, you are who you are playa. So let me recommend two really good books I’ve read lately on violence, crime, and punishment.Ted Conover’s Newjack is an award-winning account of his year spent as a prison guard at Sing Sing. I saw him tell a story from this book at a Moth reading a few months back and ran right out to the library to get it. Newjack is scary, sad, thought-provoking, and mesmerizing. You won’t look at this country’s penal system the same way again after reading this. Nor will you stop hoping that we can change it into something that doesn’t dehumanize everyone involved with it. Conover’s book led me to James Gilligan’s Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic. Where Newjack contemplates American brutality strictly at the personal level of inmates and their guards, Violence approaches the subject from multiple angles: psychological, sociological, historical, and mythical. Violence is sprawling and ambitious and sometimes redundant in presenting its thesis that shame creates violence, but there’s so much great stuff in here that it’s well worth the effort. As with Newjack, Violence deepened my understanding of the “inevitable” savagery of our species and – perhaps best of all — makes a convincing case that we can do something about it.Happy reading. After these two, you/I will have earned the right to reading nothing but Sassy and Super Chevy for a few weeks. (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Brooklyn)
If you love great spaces and haven’t yet been to the NYPL Rose Reading Room, stop reading this stupid blog right now and get your ass over there.And Car Song by Madder Rose would be a great song to listen to while you’re there. With headphones, of course.Releated Post:Lions in Winter(NYPL Humanities & Social Sciences Library, 42 St & 5 Av)
As I grow older, I find myself more and more fond of sharing unsolicited advice. Today’s lesson is about accepting the fact that you can’t always win.I know it takes a big man to admit he can’t be a playa 100 percent of the time, but fortunately by admitting this, I am also reassuring myself that I am a big man.Take my street name. It may be hard to believe, but “JP” wasn’t my first choice. But this guy that owns a business in Flushing had already taken my first choice – and he was a lot bigger, smarter, and richer than I was.So what could I do? Well, first I cried and cried, feeling sorry for myself and verbally abusing anyone that tried to console me. (That last part is what hydrologists and psychologists call “displacement.”) But after about a week of this, I realized I had to move on, or at least get out of bed. And when I did, I found the strength within me to accept my situation and make the best of it.I think you know the rest of the story.(Main St & Roosevelt Av, Flushing)
We dropped off the film at ACV at 6:35pm, an hour and twenty-five minutes before the deadline. I hope I get some points for the nifty mailing label.There are a few technical issues I wish we could have fixed before submission, but overall I think it’s a very good little film and definitely something I’d enjoy watching even if I hadn’t made it. Let’s hope the judges like it too.Whatever happens in the competition, though, I’ve had a great time and feel really lucky to have had such an amazing cast and crew. Thank you, Aaron, Debargo, Kavi, Daniel, Catherine, Christopher, Rich, and Cooper. And special thanks to TJ at Ace French Dry Cleaners. Bravo, kitty kats!Now for some sleep…
Our shoot went well — and went over. I was hoping to be done by midnight, but we didn’t wrap until 2:30am. Rich the editor stopped by at the end of the shoot to get the tapes. I got to bed around 3:30am.Rich started editing Sunday afternoon and I joined him after biking about 16 miles from my apartment to his place in eastern Queens. It was a good ride and I needed some fresh air, but probably not the best thing for me to do after a 22 hour day and barely five hours of sleep, especially with a PowerBook in my backpack. My neck and shoulders still hurt.When I got to Rich’s, I was excited to see that the footage looked great and the performances were as strong as I remembered them. I knew that Kavi, Debargo, and Aaron would have great chemistry together and was thrilled to see proof of it on the screen.Rich plowed through the shots, meticulously putting together a rough cut on his G5 while I created the end titles on my PowerBook, offered comments every now and then, and ate really good chicken and broccoli with fried rice. We argued about some editing choices and agreed on the other 99 percent. I was in awe at the collection of DVDs and film-related books in Rich’s collection and started reading the shooting script to Magnolia while I ate. P.T. Anderson is one of my favorite writer/directors and I was hoping that I could cop some of his greatness for my project. During the evening, Cooper and I spoke on the phone several times about music and sound effects, and around midnight Rich and I started to match the audio files he sent us to the footage. It was really coming together.We locked picture around 3am and I got a QuickTime version of the short to take home with me. Rich and Cooper would work together on Monday trying to sweeten the audio track as much as possible before the submission deadline.As I munched on a Korean marshmallow puff (in post-production, apparently, directors can mostly eat and sit around while other people do the real work), I felt lucky to be working with such talented people. If the film didn’t work, it would be entirely my fault as a writer/director, because the cast and crew did a great job.I got a ride back to Brooklyn and was asleep by 4:30am.(Rich’s secret underground editing suite)
The theme of the Shootout is “AKA.” After brainstorming with the cast and crew at last night’s Launch Party, I went home and started writing, but fell asleep pretty early without having written anything.I woke up at 5:30am and started writing and emailed the finished script to everyone at 11.As of now, I’m a little bit behind on the shot list, but I’ve got the storyboards done. We start shooting at 7pm.
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled blog for the Second Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout. Over the next three days, I’ll be leading a team that will be competing against 50 or so others to write, shoot, and edit a six-minute film, based on a theme to be given tonight by the contest organizers. The final film is due Monday at 8pm.I’m very happy to have assembled a great cast and crew. Team Beckoning Kitty Kats is:JP Chan, writer/director/producerKavi Ladnier, actorDebargo Sanyal, actorAaron Yoo, actorChristopher Low, director of photographyDaniel Valdez, sound recordistRich Song, editorCatherine Lee, assistant directorCooper Madison, composerTime permitting, I’ll blog with updates throughout the weekend so that Bklyn Blggng readers can join us in this fun but nerve-wracking adventure. Wish us luck! (Den of the Beckoning Kitty Kats)