Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I guest blogged for IFP!

Here's the link...

It's about short films and your career!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Mathematics of Love

So, if you're reading a blog written by me, you're probably aware of a couple of things. Firstly, that I work with a filmmaker named Yen Tan. Secondly, that Yen is extremely talented. And lastly, but most importantly (at least right now), that Yen is putting together funding for a new feature film. His third full-length feature as director (well, fourth, if you count his sweet segment from the anthology film, DEADROOM). Anyway, like most of us these days, Yen is raising a portion of his production budget via internet donations. I'll drop a link a bit later to where you're inevitably going to want to go donate. But for now, I'd like to focus on his previous film, CIAO. I think it really speaks to why Yen is an important filmmaker in a way my words cannot properly describe.

So, being a (or 'the') token straight on the gay festival circuit over the last few years (my movie EARTHLING has lesbians in it), I've noticed a few trends. There's pretty much a formula or mold that the vast majority of GLBTQ (I always get that wrong, so forgive me) films fall into. There's, for sure, many provocative and thought provoking documentaries. Powerful stuff of the STONEWALL ilk. There's also straight-friendly "fun" docs like BEAR NATION or PAGEANT. I think every festival CIAO traveled to was showing PAGEANT at the time. Docs seem to get the better end of the deal when it comes to content on the gay festival circuit. Narratives are another story altogether. I think in general (and I'm not purporting to be an expert by any means, so please don't take offense) the narratives tend to pull their punches quite a bit. I've seen some great ones. What I've so far seen of Kyle Henry's FOURPLAY, for example, is really quite amazing (and another time I'll talk about how fantastic Jonathan Lisecki's GAYBY is gonna be). But so many of the others are just light romantic comedies (and that's putting it rather nicely. They're more of sex romps) or "party time" ensemble wacky comedies. If you've been to many a GLBTQ fest, you'll know exactly what I mean. And yes, I'm well aware of WEEKEND.

Regardless of content, there is one thing missing from the majority of gay themed films I've seen. It's a defining characteristic. And by that, I mean, the films LACK a certain something that DEFINES them as anything beyond niche entertainment. I see gay filmmakers who define gay films as a genre unto itself. And perhaps that's completely valid. I'm probably not really qualified to weigh in on that. However, in any genre, there is a defining characteristic. Be it horror, sci-fi, whatever. And to me, sexual orientation alone is not a qualifier. And before you get mad, let me qualify my qualifier. In reality... In the REAL WORLD, I absolutely believe that sexual orientation is, or can be, a very defining characteristic. And it SHOULD be in film. But more often than not, I see gay films in which the characters may as well be straight, as the relationships seem to just be ported over from standard Hollywood fare. It's almost like that trend in action films, where you just give the male action star boobs and a sexy name and suddenly BOOM! You have a "female driven" actioneer. Well, we all know that's horse crap.

So now we come to CIAO. And I think it's a major revelation. And one that should be cherished by anyone involved in the promoting of gay cinema as its own genre. CIAO is a beautiful film. It's amazingly well composed. It has the pace of a poet. And the acting produces tears every damn time. But none of these qualities have anything to do with why I feel this ONE film has so much to say for gay cinema. The importance of CIAO, in my humble opinion, hides inside some very simple mathematics. It's an equation. But it's DEFINING by its uniqueness. The math validates the genre by the very existence of an equation that would be completely absent elsewhere.

Now, I have to give you a little story background on the film. This doesn't need a "spoiler alert" as there is a beautiful inevitability about the story which transcends lesser films' goofy reveals in the third act. Anyhow, so CIAO surrounds three characters. It is a love story. And like most great love stories, this one involves a love triangle. But this is a very special Isosceles. It CANNOT exist in straight cinema. This is pure math, folks. So, we first meet Jeff. Jeff learns that his best friend Mark has been killed in a car accident. It's not long before we realize that Jeff fostered a life-defining unrequited love for Mark. Mark did not reciprocate, so Jeff took what he could get. And that was friendship. We see how deep this friendship went as Jeff makes the rounds, dealing with Mark's family much in the manner a husband or life-long lover might. And once we know exactly where Jeff's head is, we're introduced to Andrea. And we meet him over the internet. Through his messages to Mark. Jeff is so entangled in Mark's affairs, he's innocently set about responding to Mark's emails. Letting friends and other acquaintances know of his fate. And it's here, in Mark's inbox, that he discovers Andrea.

It seems Andrea and Mark had been fostering an internet romance. They'd exchanged the words Jeff only dreamt about exchanging with his dead friend. And part of the missives between the long distance lovers was a plan for Andrea (who lives in Italy, of course) to visit Mark in America. In fact, Andrea has tickets already! After the initial shock Jeff feels at discovering his best friend's essentially secret life, he decides to do the right thing and responds to Andrea. To tell him what happened. Initially, it's to give the man an opportunity to cancel his trip, but as they talk, it's eventually decided that maybe he should go ahead and visit. In essence, to pay his respects. And it's in this exchange that Jeff finds (maybe not fully consciously at first) his way to vicariously decipher Mark's love.

You probably already know where this is headed. Which, by the way, is one of the magical properties of the movie. It's the inevitability that draws you in. Yes, Andrea comes to visit. Yes, he and Jeff get close. Yes, there is something more than mere friendship there. But everything that happens between them, every beat, is hinged on the ghost of Mark. Now, here's where we get into the Algebraic portion of this essay.

If this were a straight film, we'd have a boy and a girl. It really doesn't matter which one of them meets a tragic fate. So let's say it's the girl. The girl dies. The boy was her unrequited love. He does everything Jeff does. And he finds the email. But in this version, since the characters are straight, the girl's Italian internet love is a man. You see the breakdown, right? Let's even say this Italian man comes to visit our boy protagonist. Let's say they bond in some platonic manner over our dead girl. Let's say all of that. But what then? Well, Mr. Italy goes home. Because our characters are straight. And we're making a HUGE leap that jealousy traps do not sully the mix previous to this. A HUGE leap. But when a three-way attraction is involved, things get tricky, and far more interesting. CIAO simply could not exist as a straight film. And although Andrea is a very attractive man, the core attraction between these two men is NOT physical. It's Mark. It's Jeff, able to feel what loving Mark is like by allowing himself to fall into something with Andrea. It's Andrea seeing Mark through the eyes of the man who loved him the most. More than Andrea ever had the opportunity to love him. And it's the mental love-child of these to storm systems converging that provides all the electricity in the narrative.

CIAO is a defining gay film. I'll say it again. It's a genre film that defines, in exact terms, the amazing possibilities of this burgeoning genre. It's a new narrative. I mean, yes, it's a love story and love stories are age-old. But it's also something unique. I feel at this point that I'm just rambling. I made my point at least a paragraph ago. But, yes, it is an important movie. Yen Tan makes important movies. He's about to make another one. It's called PIT STOP. And although it doesn't have the 'SAT question' love triangle of CIAO, it follows many of Yen's themes and interests. His interest are people. People in situations defined by 'the genre.' And Yen never goes for the cheap. I remember my jaded brain's first response to CIAO was, "at least the dead guy didn't die of AIDS." And sure, that makes me an asshole. But it's also important in that Yen wants you to focus on the characters, NOT the politics. Yen's stance is political by default since he's an "OUT" filmmaker. But he's not hiding behind the easy. He's not making the gay equivalent of the Jewish Holocaust film (and jeez, please don't take that out of context. Besides, I'm technically Jewish, so screw you if you do). Yen is saying, "I'm a gay filmmaker. I want to tell regular stories about regular people, who happen to be gay." But he's also making movies that are specially significant in that they utilize every tool in the genre's toolkit. Horror films have their own tools. So do SciFi films. We know what they are. I don't need to rehash them here. And now, because of filmmakers like Yen, we officially know EXACTLY WHAT TOOLS are in the toolbox for gay cinema. It's a matter of definition. It's a matter of math.

I'm not the most eloquent guy. Yen is far more well spoken on his donation page. You should check it out and consider donating a few bucks to get PIT STOP off the ground.

I hyper linked the website above. But it's also here:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

EARTHLING came out on VOD this week!

It's been a long time coming, but my second feature film, EARTHLING (starring Rebecca Spence, Matt Socia and Amelia Turner) just came out on pretty much every online video-on-demand platform. Basically everything with a joystick or a streaming web address.

Here's a link to Film Buff's (our distributor) page for the film. Links to available rental/purchase platforms contained within.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Now I'm just overdoing it...

This is all in the name of doing right by you, the three people who read my blog. What can I say? I'm a man of the people.

And this one...

Here's a WUSS video interview!

Fresh outta SxSW a mere four months late! My fault, not theirs! I was sooooo blitzed during this interview. When I get drunk I get even more long winded and hand-talky than usual.

Anybody wanna listen to an audio interview about WUSS?

Uh, um, anyone? Anyone???

Come on! The interviewer has a British accent for fraggle's sake!

Holy Crap! How long has it been!?!

Well, we've been together for so long, maybe I take you for granted sometimes. I'm gonna make it up to ya, baby. Swears it!

Anyway, I've been on the road with EARTHLING, as it does it's small theatrical run all over America (and some cool foreign spots like Brazil). And we're doing the festival run with my new feature, WUSS. Assuming if you're reading this, you already know about it, but here's the trailer anyhow...

So, EARTHLING comes out on iTunes in September. Check our website for future theatrical playdates and release info...

I'll be back again soon, baby. I miss us. I really do.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why does it seem like I'm the last person to link this...?

Because I probably am. Anyhow, better late than never. Here's the first "full" trailer for EARTHLING. Hot off its SxSW premiere and Dallas International playdates. Maryland Film Festival, Santa Cruz and London Sci Fi are right around the corner.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sorry So Sloppy!

Hey! I've totally neglected this thing for like, I can't even remember how long! I'm going to make sure to update it more frequently in the coming months. Films have been blowin' up all over.

We got back from Sundance with My Mom Smokes Weed, only to have to prep Earthling for it's SxSW premiere. Then immediately after that, MMSW went to Method Fest in LA, with Sarasota and Florida Film Fests following right after.

Earthling will make its hometown debut at the Dallas International Film Festival this weekend, with many more fests to come right after that.

I'll put announcements and links and whatever up here soon!

Also, my next feature is fully financed and set to go this Summer! It's a comedy starring Nate Rubin (from My Mom Smokes Weed) and follows the misadventures of a high school English teacher who's beaten up by one of his own 15 year old students and can't live it down!

Anyway, TTFN and I'll post more soon, I swear!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sundance Tomorrow!

Nate and I head out for Park Cities tomorrow, to be joined shortly after by Yen, Adam, Ellen and tons of other Texans (Lovers of Hate peeps, etc).

I'll be updating my facebook and twitter accounts (links on the right tab of the blog homepage) as interesting things happen. There are definitely some cool things in the works!

My Mom Smokes Weed begins it's Sundance screenings on Friday. Here are the screening times!

Friday, January 22, 9:00 a.m.
Yarrow Hotel Theatre 1, Park City

Saturday, January 23, 11:30 a.m.
Prospector Square Theatre, Park City

Sunday, January 24, 12:45 p.m.
Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

Thursday, January 28, 11:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City

Saturday, January 30, 9:00 p.m.
Tower Theatre, SLC

Sunday, January 31, 11:30 a.m.
Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We're Enticing! (apparently)

According to Cinematical, MY MOM SMOKES WEED is one of the 10 most enticing short films of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival! I guess a rose by any other name...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Trying hard not to dookie a shooter!

So, it's now part of the public record. MY MOM SMOKES WEED is an official selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

This news comes on the tail of several other amazing acceptance notices. Bryan Poyser's fantastic feature film, LOVERS OF HATE, is one of the 16 films in the narrative competition. As well as being a friend and fellow Texan, LOH also stars Chris Doubeck (also in EARTHLING) and was shot by David Lowery (who co-shot MY MOM SMOKES WEED).

The Zellners also have a new short in the festival. FIDDLESTIXX, which played with MMSW at Cinevegas. And my good pal Don Lewis co-produced a feature playing Park Cities at Midnite. THE VIOLENT KIND. Can't wait to check it out!

Also, the Duplass Brothers have their latest film (starring John C. Reiley) premiering. Pretty amazing. A big gaggle of UT alums tossing snow balls around in January!

Texas and friends of Texas will be well represented.

More to come!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


In Austin this week for several reasons. First off, I decided I needed just one more teeny tiny scene for EARTHLING. This one involving just one actor...Amelia Turner (who happens to reside in Austin). Shot it within hours of arrving in town. Went fantastically well, thanks to additional support from friends Kim Hall and Jason Wehling.

EARTHLING screens tonight for it's first audience (larger than one) at the Austin Film Society screening room. The event is largely utilized for gathering feedback as I close-in on my final edit. Bryan Poyser is our gracious host. Event details are here...

The remaining HUGE reason I'm in Austin is because I have a film playing at the Austin Film Festival. Yes, MY MOM SMOKES WEED makes its regional premiere this week at AFF. Can't wait to see it with an Austin crowd!

Event details are here...

I'm in Austin through Sunday, so if you're in the ATX and wanna hang, shoot me a line.

I return to Dallas Sunday, and the following day I begin shooting my next feature film as Director of Photography. The film is called MINUTEMAN, and it's a sci-fi action'er.

Should be a fun deal!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hell has officially frozen over...

So, I really never thought I'd be typing this sentence, but A FOUR COURSE MEAL (my first feature film as writer/director) is finally coming out on dvd.

The North American release date is 12-22-09. Just in time for Christmas! Nothing says "Happy Jesus Day" like the gift of an unrated horror-comedy anthology film!

The fine folks at R Squared films are doing it up right too. There's the 16x9 film, trailers, 30 minutes of deleted scenes (I know. That's a lot for a 90 minute film!) and a brand new audio commentary.

The dvd will be available through most online and several retail outlets. More details as D-Day approaches.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yay! Internet!

So, after being without internet while shooting a film in Austin ("Chainsaw Found Jesus", the new short by Spencer Parsons) I came home to discover that due to a technical error, my home internet had be turned off. While I cleared the issue immediately with the fine people at AT&T, it still took over a damn week to get the f'er back up and running.

A bunch has happened. My Mom Smokes Weed has played another festival (Cinesol) and has another in the wings (TBA).

Earthling is cut (but still too long) and is being tweaked.

I'm just now beginning to sorta prep my next film.

I'll do more updating in a bit.

There's so much more. ST. NICK playing in foreign countries. Blood on the Highway on Video On Demand.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Watch ST. NICK on a friggin ROOF!



Headed to NY at the end of this month for the Rooftop Films screening of ST. NICK.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


EARTHLING BEHIND THE SCENES: Fun With Plastic Tubing from Clay Liford on Vimeo.

After our effects crew was killed in a freak latex accident, the remaining actors were coerced into applying and performing their own makeup effects. Here's an example!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I know I'm like the 50-bajillionth person to post this, but David Lowery was gracious enough to put the opening sequence from his amazing feature, ST. NICK, online. My ulterior motive for posting this is that I was the Director of Photography for the film, and maybe you'll want to hire me after you see this!!!

It's honestly pretty darn awesome. Visually, David is a very strong director, and I really can't claim any possessive credit for the overall look of the film. David's hand is firmly present in every shot. Um...but hire me anyway!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

English Version of Polish EARTHLING INTERVIEW

Here's the link to the interview I recently conducted with a Polish website. 

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