Sunday, November 27, 2011


Ok, I did a fall movie preview just a couple weeks ago, and I know it isn't technically winter yet. But, there is so much good stuff out there I just had to showcase a few other films I am super jazzed to see. The theme this winter seems to be dark, noir inspired flicks with perhaps a bit of a neo-realistic perspective. I see a pattern of less glamourous, less throw away, mindless garbage. That is not to say that all of these films are going to be winners, but I am seeing a trend towards films that are tapping into the despair and fear that a lot of people are feeling. But its not really as bad as all that, behind each of these films is a sense of hope amidst the somber themes.

(2009) Released Nov. 20th 2011

Documentaries don't get a lot of attention outside of art houses and film festivals, but I think they have the power to really transform the way people think and feel. If only they could get the same attention as the big blockbusters. While the most popular modern documentaries have surrounded political and social issues, very few popular documentaries have take on the subject of history. Garbo: The Spy is not only taking on a historical figure, but a rather unknown one. So, according to trend, this film should get little to no attention. However, the style of the film is beautiful and incorporates found/historical footage, interviews and animation in a way that hasn't been seen in a documentary before. Now, some might say that this film has a look of a History Channel special, but I think the director Edmon Roch has attempted to incorporate a narrative story line which may give this doc a more plot driven feel. I say, check it out. The trailer alone is amazing and I am sure it will not disappoint. Be advised that you might not find this film in your local corporate theater. Try looking for independent theaters.

(UK 2012) 

Another documentary I am excited to see is Into The Abyss. This is a social documentary that looks at the divisive subject of the death penalty from the perspective of the offenders, the victims and state officials. The film comes to you from the German director Werner Herzog, who directed Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. For doc lovers, this film is a must see, but I think it is important for all Americans to see. I think we often hear about capital punishment and brush it aside and rarely think about what it says about our society. Herzog is not one to sugar coat tough subjects, this film is raw, dark and expressive. It will make you think.

USA (2011)

Part of the reason I chose this film is because I love Woody Harrelson. He is a cult hero, but I think people forget that he is actually one of the most talented working actors today. I mean, the man works hard. This film proves it. I am literally jumping up and down with excitement. This will be the next film I see in theaters and the next film I review. This style of hollywood film really appeals to me, and the cinematography looks great. The film was written and directed by Oren Moverman, who had a quiet directorial debut with The Messenger and is better known for writing the screenplay for I'm Not There. I expect this film to get a lot of attention in the coming months. I think this film elevates Moverman's status and I expect him to have a long and successful career. The trailer pretty much speaks for itself, and I will do a full review once I see it, so thats it for now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Hello Everyone!

One thing a lot of young filmmakers/photographers run into is people who say 'no' to the simple request to photograph. Now I appreciate if individuals do not want to have their face photographed and I would never publish a photograph of any reasonable person who requested that I not. This, however, excludes police officers, security guards, combative property owners, and celebrities.

Most people will say that your best bet is to scram if someone approaches you and says you can't photograph, but I have found this to be the most idiotic thing an aspiring filmmaker/photographer can do. It is the rule, not the exception, that people don't want photographers around. Also, if you are aspiring, it probably means that you don't have the money to apply for permission permits. My advice is that you can NEVER, ever, ever take no for an answer. There are people of all shapes, sizes and education levels who will deny you, threaten you and in some cases harass you if you attempt to take photographs. These people are everywhere and they usually have one thing in common, they have little to no respect for artists. If you let them, these photophobes will greatly reduce, even stop you from getting the most interesting photographs in the most interesting locations.

If you feel passionate about a location, don't ever take no for an answer. You can try negotiate, bribe, you can try find another vantage point to photograph from, dress in a disguise, lie or sneak. Just be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions. Truth is, you may get arrested, banned from a location or, worst case scenario, get your camera taken away or smashed. But you need to ask yourself what price you're willing to pay for your art.

When people see a camera, they are automatically wary. Photographers present a threat, a threat that they will expose secrets, lies, and scams. When photographing in an unfamiliar location, you need to treat every person with a certain level of skepticism . If you see someone walking towards you, walk away, slowly, don't run away. Running implies guilt.  If you hear someone call out to you, the best bet is to say nothing, or if faced with a face to face confrontation, repeat, "I'm just about done," "I will be gone in a moment." "Hold on," and "Wait." These phrases will usually buy you enough time to get capture a few more frames with out being confrontational.

Now I should say that it is never wise to get confrontational with people, in any circumstance, but don't let people bully you. Those with no other recourse will resort to intimidation or smart-assery. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. But also be polite and know when to rethink your plan. As a woman, and as a young person in general, people will often speak down to you and be all around awful to you. But just realize that those types of people don't matter in the long run. The best thing you can do is forget them, get your pictures and stay fabulous. 

Today I exercised the advice I just gave you. Granted, my encounter with a combative (alleged) property owner ended with me cursing him out and finding another (better) vantage point in which to take pictures. This alleged property owner was suspiciously alone and not very friendly, he was acting very strange and shifty. He started harassing me right off the bat, and became very agitated within 30 seconds of our encounter.

Rather than argue with a person who looked to be capable of violence, I found a public path behind the Mill which provided me with the images you see above. Even though these types of encounters make for decent stories, the truth is, I was not interested in that man or his illicit behavior. I just wanted to to show this wonderful location in Minneapolis before they renovate it into something ugly and corporate.  I have every intention of retuning to this location to gather some images from the inside. But I am going to wait until winter, when water fills the basement of the Mill and creates a makeshift indoor ice rink. It is strictly forbidden, but I live life on the edge.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

100 Greatest Shut Ups in Film

Stumbled upon this thought I would share it with everyone. 


Mine is,
"Shut the fuck up Donnie"
- The Big Labowski (classic) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Today I spent a few minutes messing around in photoshop and this is what I came out with. Comments!

I'd love to make this into a sticker! 


Just kidding. But now that I have your attention, I would like to discuss the bit of controversy the famous comedy director/producer, Judd Apatow has stirred up. You probably know Apatow best as the director of 40 Year Old Virgin, and producer of the surprise hits Pineapple Express and Bridesmaids. We all saw them, we all talked about them and quoted them for months. The films made so much money, and got so much attention Apatow himself was like a star about to go supernova. So logically, everyone thought this comedy director/producer could be the first one in a long time to get the nod from the Academy. Well, we all know how that worked out. And judging from this interview he is still a bit bitter not only about his own lack of an Oscar, but his fellow comedians as well (though he disguises it with some humor). So, Mr. Apatow, took the opportunity, while on an interview with the LA times to explain why The Hangover deserves its own category. You can check out the full LA Times video interview here. I encourage you to watch it before you read the rest of this article. It's 2 minutes long.
 "It doesn’t seem like it’s screwing up Schindler’s List for Hangover to have its own category. 
It didn't mess up the animation people to do it. Then we could kinda get rid of the Key Grip 
category. (boos from audience). I love the Key Grips they do a fantastic job, but at hour
four, I would rather watch Zach Galifianakis come on, than my friend Curtis"

Apatow makes a decent point about trying to compare the merits of one genera versus another. However, he ruins it by suggesting that somehow the antics of some actor is more worth celebrating than the hard work key grips do, day in and day out. 'Curtis' might not be famous or hilarious, but ask yourself this, what if Zach Galifianakis was your key grip? Now I understand that Apatow says most of this in jest, and I get that he is just spitballing. But I think he is tapping into something very real. Anyway, I digress. 

The way the Academy seems to work is, if you work for a certain number a years and if you reach a certain level of success, you'll get your Oscar. I think the Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby Oscar was a bit of a gimmie. For Apatow, his films, and his own stardom have begun to eclipse that other dramatic film directors. Yet, for all his success, for all the money, there is one thing he hasn't gotten, that illusive gold statue. Perhaps he feels as if he and his fellow comedians will never get one if they continue to work in comedy. So rather than change up the style to appease the Academy, he seems to want the Academy to make more room for him and others like him on the ticket. It is a fair enough request, but the real question is, do we honestly think, that out of every hard working filmmaker around the world, that Apatow, is the type of filmmaker the Academy needs to make room for? If Academy Awards were about attention garnered, Apatow and his buddies would win, hands down. But I tend to think that the Oscars are more than just entertainment. I think they are an opportunity for peers to give praise to those who are pushing new boundaries in filmmaking.

I think Apatow makes a good point about how difficult it is to compare comedy and drama. But I believe that wether a comedy, drama, or somewhere in between a film needs to be able to stand on its own as a great piece of art. The problem with comedy films today is not that people hate to laugh, but that the films only push boundaries when it comes to dirty jokes, risque subject matter, but they do very little to redefine the genera, or push the envelope cinematically. Comedy films today are all about who can be the most outrageous and still escape a NC-17 rating. Many comedy films are blatantly sexist and cast women as either the buzz kill or the psycho bitch.

However, I do have to mention that Bridesmaids was quite groundbreaking in the the sense that it showed that women can also be funny, only problem is, they are 30 years too late. Comedy films also play too often to the lowest common denominator with fart jokes, poop jokes, penis jokes, Three Stooges style physical comedy, and the all important funny boob reveal. But very rarely do these films tap into what is at the core of humor. Pulp Fiction is a funny, high quality movie because it taps into our devilish side that wants to laugh at someone getting their head blow off on the freeway. The Hangover is funny while you sit in the theater with your popcorn, and it might even be worth coughing up the 20$ for the DVD, but does it really deserve the highest honor in cinema? I tend to think no.

Let us look at just one of the comedy films in theaters right now. Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill has a 4% rating on The film was called 'disingenuous,' and Sandler's performance was called 'curdled.' This film is doing nothing to convince this movie goer that comedy is the smart one being left out by the snobs. The best comedies are the best because films like Jack and Jill are the competition.

So I think before Mr. Apatow says that the Academy needs to celebrate comedy, I think he needs to ask himself if the comedy genera is really giving us anything worth celebrating?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I am the type of artist that takes inspiration from the world around me. I don't often remember my dreams so most of my ideas come from how I view reality. For me, finding places in the world that speak to me is an important step in my creative process.

Today I thought I would highlight the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. This is a place of epic beauty and insane attention to detail. Not only are the exhibits spectacular but the building itself is a marvel of architectural genius. Unfortunately, the Shed doesn't present many photography opportunities. The atmosphere is dark with the lights inside the tanks as the primary light source. The pictures below are not mine, but they do illustrate how fantastic this place is.

I think nature is crucial for all people. For me, the lack of natural surroundings makes me feel lost, trapped. I am not necessarily the girl who wants to bike up a mountain on a Sunday morning, but clean air, dirt roads, and unkept fields will always trump sewer smell, hot tar, and parking lots. When I was living in Chicago, I had this feeling of industrial isolation, it consumed my entire life. I spent many months as unhappy as I have ever been in my life. Everything was so crowded, and I could never find a quiet moment or a quiet place clear my head. It took me a few months and a lot of depressing walks around the city before I finally coughed up the 21$ to go to the Shedd on a gloomy Chicago day.

From the moment I walked inside, I knew I had found my new (and very expensive) sanctuary. For the rest of my time in Chicago I visited the shed at least once every few weeks. I would go alone and marvel at the beauty and grace of the sea life as they danced peacefully and most important, quietly in the massive tanks. I would also lament at times looking at the fish because they were as trapped as I was. They were stuck in crowded tanks just like I was stuck in the crowded city. In the end I was able to escape the city and find my happiness but the fish are still swimming in their never ending circles.




-Sam OG

SONG OF THE DAY: Iron & Wine

OK, so I don't do this every day, but I thought I would highlight a song and an artist that I am getting into on this gloomy November day. The artist goes by Iron and Wine and I discovered him on The Current (go figure). The song is Walking Far From Home, and it really uplifted my spirits. It is a song that has caught my attention in passing probably a dozen times, but I finally took the time to look it up on The Current's playlist. Iron and Wine is actually the brain child of the man Sam Beam. After listening to a few of his songs and muddling through youtube, I came to the realization that Beam is by no means a new comer to the music scene even if he is new to my radar. His sound is very dynamic and influenced by a variety of styles. There are hits of folk and reggae and traditional African tribal sounds. The vocals are very soulful and the lyrics are nostalgic stories.

Iron & Wine's newest album, Kiss Each Other Clean was released almost a year ago, which is essentially ancient history. Despite this, I am still going to highlight my favorite song from that record. Here it is, Enjoy!

I encourage you to check out Iron and Wine if they come to a city near you. They are on tour this winter so visit their website and get a ticket!


Monday, November 21, 2011


I was meaning to post this earlier, but here is a look at the new studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Check out their website, its awesome. I really I to get the opportunity to work inside it one day. Seeing this magnificent structure gives me hope that the New Mexico film industry will thrive despite recent threats from the Republican Governor, Susanna Martinez to cut the film incentive. 

I am not one to go on about how you should buy movies & see them in theaters. But I do think it is important to remember that the film industry is just like any industry. It employs thousands of people all across the country, and not just big name actors and directors, but truck drivers, carpenters and boot makers. The impact a film production can have on a small town like Santa Fe is huge. Small business thrive when the massive film crews stay in the cities hotels, eat in the restaurants, and get parking tickets on the city streets. 

A new studio or a new age of filmmaking? The future is bright. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Hola Amigos!

I have been having an awesome fall. I have discovered some new stuff that I thought I'd share with you.

I have been Camp(ing) for sure. I have been lost in the woods for days. 

Childish Gambino's new album Camp just came out a few days ago. I listened to it on NPR almost non-stop in the days leading up to its release. It is simply amazing. I have to say that I really admire this guy. He is multi-talented and has a pretty large body of work. People probably know him best as Troy from the show Community (which NBC has stupidly shelved). His real name is Donald Glover and he is a bit of a renaissance man. I think he is an example of a young person who is changing what it means to be successful in this ever morphing industry. His music has an modern sound, he is a gifted actor/comedian and a writer. I encourage everyone to pick up this record, grab a bottle of whiskey, light a fire and enjoy.

If you were a fan of Little Britain, prepare yourself for something laugh out loud hysterical. Now I get that a lot of Americans don't like or understand British humor. But this show is too good. It is not outwardly vulgar, but they do play up stereotypes in a way that probably wouldn't fly on this side of the pond. The costumes and make up are damn impressive as is the writing and production value. I am constantly surprised by Matt Lucas and David Walliams commitment to the characters they play. Check out Season 1 Episode 3 for a wonderful little surprise...

If you are under the age of 30 and live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area then you are very familiar with 89.3 The Current, which is easily the best radio station in existence.  So this is mostly for those of you who do not live in the Twin Cities. If you are a music lover and a fan of NPR then I encourage you to check out their website here and stream them 100% free. The current is a non-profit member supported radio and it has a reputation of playing the best most diverse selection of music. My only warning is that while this radio station is very good about playing different genres, if you are a strict top 40, hip-pop, club music fan, then this station might not be for you. However, for anyone looking to discover new music and learn a bit about the artists, look no further than this awesome radio station..


Friday, November 18, 2011

Photographs From Santa Fe


My trip to New Mexico is almost over so I thought I would take this quiet moment to post a few pictures. These images were taken in the historical town of Los Cerrillos Hills, New Mexico, a very tiny town near Madrid, New Mexico. This place is very special to me on many different levels. Firstly, it is a place I discovered on my own while taking a therapeutic drive through the desert. It is a bit off the beaten path and very, very small (only about 20 small homes in the whole town), but it is full of extremely interesting people and lots of history. It was slated to become the capital of New Mexico but was ultimately beaten out by Santa Fe.

This place is also special because I shot several scenes of my senior thesis film there. In the process I got to know many of the local people who are so, incredibly fascinating. They are friendly (if a little wary of random outsiders) and eager to share their stories about their lives, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and the many actors & filmmakers who have come to the town throughout the years. It is not necessarily an easy place to be welcomed into, in fact, the people of Cerrillos Hills are very illusive. However, once they let me (and my film crew) into their club, they were the warmest, most lively group of people I have ever met. They took care of us like we were family during our shoot feeding us, helping us, welcoming us into their homes/property, one of them may have even saved my life.

I know many filmmakers say that after a film is complete they never look back. I have found that this doesn't often work well for me. I am always interested in the past and how it informs my future. I am continuously inspiried by this tiny town and every time I visit I discover something I have never seen before.  I will continue visiting for as long as I seek inspiration.

Specifically, these images are from the Cerrllios Hills graveyard, which has some of the oldest graves I have ever seen, some dating back 200+ years. It is also full of unmarked graves and an unbelievable amount of children and baby graves.  It is, perhaps, a bit creepy, but I don't know a more beautiful place to be laid to rest.

What place continuously inspires you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Mexico!

Hello Everyone!

Today I am traveling home to New Mexico. Well not home exactly, but to the place I consider my personal paradise. I am super excited about the posts to come this week. I brought my camera to finally get some super nice shots of the desert, the party and of course all my lovely friends.

I plan to go take pictures in Los Cerillos, Taos, Las Vegas, Los Alamos and maybe Cruses. I encourage you to look these places up and try to visit them before you die. New Mexico is a wonderful place to photograph and the terrain, the weather, and the unlimited number of spectacular vistas it will test your ability as a photographer. Photographing New Mexico is very soul inspiring and it has forever tied me and my heart to this land

Where are your favorite places to Photograph?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Once the big summer movie boom is over, I find myself spending less time in front of screens and trying to enjoy the heat and sun. But, once the cold sets in, it is back to the theaters for me. I have been hoping for a good fall/winter movie season, and I am happy to report that there are a handful of movies I am super excited to see, and super excited to review.

This season we are seeing a lot of moody, dark films. I am also seeing a lot of powerful women and historical figures as the subject of many promising looking productions.

Directed By: Lynne Ramsay 
Based on the novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

I confess that I have never read this book, so I am not going to try compare the book and this film's trailer. But my initial reaction to this is a big WOW! I am always struck by Tilda Swinton and this film looks like it was tailor made for her.  I am interested to see the chemistry between her acting style and John C. Reilly. The two actors who traditionally reside on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as subject matter. The young Ezra Miller is a relative new comer and I am excited to see some fresh blood. He will also appear in The Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012. 

Directed By: Simon Curtis

I love Marilyn Monroe and I admit I am surprised it took Hollywood so long to do a large scale bio-pic on her life. I do carry a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to this film because these types if films tend to have a lot of glamor with out a lot of substance. However, this film does have a lot of potential and if its good, it will be really good. Michelle Williams isn't necessarily my first choice for Marilyn, but she seems to look the part, lets just hope she brings a high level of honesty to the role and doesn't lose herself behind the hair and fashion.

The Iron Lady
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and Richard E. Grant

Watch Trailer Here

Ok, this trailer doesn't give anything away but there are some very interesting moments that make this film look rather exciting. The trailer is short and to the point and it leaves me with more questions than answers (which is an unfortunate rarity in movie trailers today). I like this trailer for its subtlety, but the real excitement is seeing Meryl Streep done up like the legendary Margaret Thatcher. This is a must see for me and other political junkies.

Directed By: Tristan Patterson
Watch Trailer Here

This is probably the one film I am the most excited about. I think what is lacking in contemporary American film is a genuine representation of the younger generation, the 9/11 generation. Those of us who grew up through war, and fewer and fewer opportunities, those of us who grew up to mistrust government, religion, corporations and any institution. We are the new generation, the one that didn't get the great promise of America. Few films exist that portray our reality. Dragonslayer seems to try tap into some of the feelings that are spilling out from young people.

What are you looking forward to this fall/winter?

Check them out!