Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Holidays!

So, I've been traveling quite a bit this holiday season, and computer access has been nominal. I did want to take a moment to post a few reviews...

"...one of the best shorts of the year." Wowza!

First, MY MOM SMOKES WEED is on the front page of FILM THREAT! Don Lewis gave us a really fantastic review. Check it out here!

Next, Yen Tan's CIAO played in LA this past weekend. It got a rave review from the LA Times. You really should read it. And you can, here!

Now it's off to LA for Bill and Dana's wedding. A few interesting meetings lined up there as well. Very close to solidifying my next feature. Fingers crossed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I totally forgot this existed...

...and there's probably a reason for that! Leave it to Adam Donaghey to produce what's probably our only "behind the scenes" video for MY MOM SMOKES WEED. 

I can assure you that nothing illegal is transpiring here. However, the sheer notion of the education process going on here may cause a shudder to run up a few spines. Thanks to Sylvia for being such a good sport. And thanks to Chris for demonstrating a special skill set none of the rest of us possessed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ciao Opens Friday (Only in Theaters)!!!!!

My good friend (and producer of MY MOM SMOKES WEED) Yen Tan's amazingly understated meditation on unrequited love and loss, CIAO open this Friday in select theaters. 

We're all so very proud of him!

The film was also edited by David Lowery (who shot MMSW). 

Check out ciaomovie.com for details and screening venues.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



Just a real quick note. MMSW is playing this weekend at the Dallas Video Festival...

"Shorts After Dark":
Date: 11/8/08 (Saturday)
Venue: Angelika Film Centre (Mockingbird Station)
Time 10pm
More details

And the following week at the Lone Star International Film Festival

Shorts Program 2 on Friday, November 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm and Saturday,
November 15, 2008 at 1:30 pm

More details

There's a piece on the Dallas Observer blogspot about the Dallas Video Fest. It features MMSW, as well as several other deserving films, such as a personal fave of mine... Frank Ross' PRESENT COMPANY.

Hope to see you at either or BOTH!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sidewalk 2008! A Pictographical Journey in Picto-Photos!

Wow, so as you may or may not know, I was at this year's Sidewalk Moving Pictures Festival in Birmingham, AL. MY MOM SMOKES WEED screened there. And of course, I brought a camera. And even more of course, my photos sucked!!!

But guess what, just like your Uncle Fred, I'm gonna subject you to them....

right NOW!!!

I call this one...BEHIND THE SCENES!

Actually, it's VULCAN. Not Spock's homeworld, rather the Roman God of Fire and Banana Hammocks!

We were treated to a welcome luncheon at the base of his fiery buttocks, also referred to as the Vulcan Observatory.

And what is there to observe at the observatory, other than the obligatory giant metal butt? Why, other filmmakers, of course!

Here's one of them now!

Why it's Tim Burton, director of "Terminator 2" and "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey." You shouldn't be here, Tim. You should be on the set of your new film, "Saturdays Night Fevers!"
(editor: This is actually James M. Johnston, director of "Merrily, Merrily")

Here, David Lowery takes a photo of his favorite celebrity, the fourth floor stairwell! It truly is a "Night of 1000 Stars!"

Here, your intrepid Picto-Photo Journalist gives a "thumbs up" to the beatific skyline of Birmingham with his freakish mini-chin-fist. It truly is a grotesque sight, especially in light of the grandeur surrounding it.

Oh well, it's off to the smelter with TV's Frank V. Ross.

Birmingham's natural export is smelted iron squares. The Sidewalk filmmakers were invited to act as ambassadors of smelting. Like the mighty Vulcan himself, we smelted our little butts off, and in some cases, other body parts as well...

Look, it's smelting! And guess who smelt it?

Why, it's TV's Frank V. Ross! AGAIN! Frank is this year's recipient of the Frank V. Ross Award for Excellence in Being Frank V. Ross. "The Frankies" for short. It was a close race, this inaugural year, with Frank winning by a nose (as depicted above), and swiping the Frankie from "Bull Durham's" Natalie Portman.

Off to near fatal accident land!

Whoa! That metal looks REALLY hot! I sure hope it doesn't spill out onto someone's head!

Oh wait, look out!!!!! No!!!!

Melty! Melty! Thank God for the affirmative action policies of Alabama which require a minimum of three midget smelters per factory. If these had been full-sized smelters with a full-sized bucket, Kris probably would have been killed!

After a trip to the Birmingham Office of Desmelting, Kris Swanberg is once again right as rain. Much fun is had, and much metal is smelted. New friendships are forged and many bad metal-based puns and analogies are made.

And this was just DAY ONE! Stay tuned for DAY TWO, where I didn't take any photos because I forgot my camera was in my pocket, so you'll be staying tuned for a long long time!

For a more fair and balanced view of the further adventures of Sidewalk, please refer to David Lowery's blog here!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baby's First Festival!

Looks awful similar to the last post, don't it! Yeah, well there are a few MINOR changes. Besides coloring and the correction of a few typos, we've added the laurels of our first festival! Yes, MMSW will be playing at the awesomely cool Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival this month!

The time slot has not been updated as of yet, but if you're in Birmingham the last weekend in Sept, you should come check it out.

The lineup of films is quite amazing, and includes several fantastic films from friends and collaborators. James Johnston's MERRILY MERRILY, David Lowery's CATALOG OF ANTICIPATIONS, Frank Ross' PRESENT COMPANY , Ari Gold's ADVENTURES OF POWER,
and Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig's NIGHT AND WEEKENDS, just to name a few.

I know pretty much all of the above filmmakers will be in attendance, so it should be great fun.

In other news, I finally delivered A FOUR COURSE MEAL to its eventual foreign distributor. Hopefully that means we'll be seeing DVDs in the coming months. Also, I just shot a new short film for James Johnston entitled RECEIVE BACON. The film is a stylized deconstruction of a barroom hook-up gone awry after a particularly devastating piece of bathroom humor provides its own form of coitus interruptus. I had great fun shooting it, and I think it ought to be very funny (and mildly embarrassing---in the best possible manner).

Finally, ST. NICK will be returning to New York for the IFP Market next week (I think). Let's all wish it luck, as it's up for another round of possible grant money! It's a very deserving film. I can't wait for more people to get a chance to see it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Like an Old 70's Paperback...

Yen makes pretty posters. This one isn't totally finished yet, but I couldn't resist posting it.
It looks more like a paperback book cover than a movie poster. That's a compliment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

St. Nick in Filmmaker F'ing Magazine!!!!

So David Lowery just informed me that St. Nick was featured in the summer issue of Filmmaker Magazine. That's the one, pictured above. I immediately rushed over to Borders to buy a copy, and there it was, complete with a nice color photo from the film. Really nifty mention. Classy stuff. Pick it up if you get a chance.

And in other news, Yen Tan's magnificent feature film CIAO is officially being released by Regent Entertainment. This is a theatrical release too. Amazing. And this for a film that seemed to come out of nowhere. I've seen it like six times now, and helped out on the color correct. I really think it's a transcendental piece. You really need to see this one when it rolls out this Fall.

Also, on my other dumb blog, BUDDY BUDDY PAL, I have the first in a series of lame photo accounts of my trip to San Diego Comic Con this year. I got to interview all sorts of cool people, and I'll be uploading "exclusive" videos in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

St. Nick Screened in Austin, but I'm not gonna talk about it...much!

ST. NICK, David Lowery's treatise on the restlessness of youth (extreme youth, in this case) pitted against the authoritative controls of society and nature (my lame-o interpretation), played before an Austin Film Society member audience Monday night. It was the first public screening for the film, and my second time to see it. I'm not going to go into details, as David hasn't completed the film. I do think it is shaping up to be pretty darn awesome. The flow... the overall length.... The whole affair is poetic and takes its time, but certainly doesn't wear out its welcome. 

The audience of primarily strangers, with no prior association to the film, reacted strongly (in our favor, thankfully) to what is still (technically) a rough cut. During the critique session Bryan Poyser held later, the fact that the attendees truly THOUGHT about the film became immediately apparent. I mean, the comments weren't simply 'it was good' or 'I liked it.' There was some real thematic brainwork going into the proceedings, the likes of which you don't typically see these days. It's refreshing to hear people process a work of art in total, instead of just glossing over it with the pre-ordained drivel of dismissive praise. This is the definition of a meditative film. David even did something extremely ballsy and old-school to open up the picture and establish the contemplative tone, which I won't spoil here (but if you're an aficionado of pre-80's theatrical epics, you may be able to figure it out). The funny thing is, you could really tell who in the room was a parent (and who wasn't).  Kids in (perceived) peril! A key element of drama and a great button-pusher (in this case, the good button). Gets em every time!

Overall, a great event. One I think we all came away stronger for having been a part of. I'm probably one of those rare filmmakers who actually values the testing process, as long as it's done with the right audience in mind. I think the reason most Hollywood directors loathe it is because they have ZERO control over the attending audience. Every movie has an audience. For some films, that audience may consist of twelve people. For others, fifty million (Dark Knight, anyone?). The key to making a successful film is knowing your core audience, making the film right for them (no pandering!), and not exceeding a budget larger than their movie-going dollars will allow. A ten year old kid is not going to get a movie like SAVAGE GRACE. Likewise, a patron of the arts with a season pass to the Dallas Opera is probably not gonna be down with a screening of THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (I totally picked these examples off the top of my head, and it shows). I know this sounds like an oversimplification, but in the era of escalating costs (coupled with a horrific economy), I think it's something to consider. Not every movie can or even SHOULD appeal to every moviegoer. There's an old adage, 'when you try to satisfy everybody, you end up satisfying nobody.' Truer words have never been spoken about the creative process. Obviously, if your movie cost over 100 million clams to produce, you gotta get every soccer mom with a pulse INTO THAT DAMN THEATER just to break even. But, of course, then you probably have computer-generated dinosaurs, or Bruce Willis, or computer-generated Bruce Willis to help you draw in the crowds, so what can ya do. Butts + Seats = Moolah!!!!

On a final note about testing, it's a somewhat known fact that Spielberg was a test-happy-monkey who loved to screen his films with audiences outside of LA (to get 'real' so to speak). In fact, his favorite stomping grounds for such work was none other than my current residence of Dallas, Texas. The theater of choice, the late lamented Medallion Cinema (off Skillman and Northwest Highway, where the Target is now--in case you live around there). It's the first place an audience of the "general public" ever got to see such classics as JAWS and E.T. Is it just a coincidence that now the Medallion is closed and Spielberg sucks? Gotta wonder.

Anway, I wish I could talk more about ST. NICK, but I really don't want to compromise what is still, in effect, a work-in-progress. I will say that the film feels very complete, even in this nascent form. It certainly will only get better, and I say that because I know David, and I know what he's capable of. And if you're reading this blog, I certainly don't need to tell you where to go for updates on the project (but I hyperlinked it anyway). 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

About Friggin Time...(for a Meal)!

So, it's official now. After a ridiculously long shelf-life due to some stupid choices made by yours truly, A FOUR COURSE MEAL is soon to be available on home video. I just inked a contract with a foreign distributor who is also going to help handle domestic sales. Hopefully this means a DVD will be available in the near future.

In the meantime, I just found this silly promo teaser I put together right after I finished CUT ONE of the film. Bask in the misappropriation of copyrighted music! Soil yourself in horror at the rampant low resolution graphics!

The few of you who know anything about it will note that it includes footage from the DELETED STORY SEGMENT entitled OUTPOST 7734. Fun.

A FOUR COURSE MEAL Original Teaser from Clay Liford on Vimeo.

I have over an hour of deleted scenes that I'm compiling for the release. I'm shocked at how much stuff we shot that didn't make it in, even on our meager budgetary level.

Even though I went to film school and shot a TON of goofy films, I consider AFCM my true film school. Not to disparage it (or my tuition-based film school) in any way. I'm actually quite proud of the vast majority of what's in the final cut, and I think most of it still holds up (even post-Transformers!). The 'film school' part has to do with the hard lessons and difficult choices I had to make (both creatively and business-wise) over the life-cycle of the project. This is probably way more than you care to know, but I always find it interesting to see the point at which different creative people come into their own. AFCM is pretty much the first film I've completed that I'm comfortable with people seeing. That said, I am a totally different person now than I was at the time I wrote it. But I feel there's enough of a confident voice in there that my former-self is properly represented. I can't say the same for my actual University of Texas student films. Those need to be shoveled into a deep dark hole, never again to see the light of day.

Anyway, I'll post more info as the release approaches. I know it's been a long time coming. And for the few actual fans out there, many thanks for your patience.

As an aside, if there was an award for most aimless and rambling post, this one would surely get it. In fact, if anybody decides to make such an award, I nominate myself for the namesake. Then again, "The Clays" has a pretty crappy ring to it. Oh well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This Movie is Presented in "HIGH" Definition!

Worst pun ever. Anyway, I know that no paragraph should ever begin with the following sentence, but here goes...

So I really liked the trailer for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. This may be the least masculine statement I've ever made, but it's really pretty innovative. Not the movie, mind you, just the trailer. Actually, I can't speak for the movie because I only saw like ten minutes of it on my Mom's Direct TV last time I was in town visiting her. But I digress. No, the great thing about the trailer is it's basically just a truncated scene from the actual film. Like a scene that pretty much sums up enough of what the film's about and where it may be headed, without giving you too much information or any resolution. In essence, it does exactly what a trailer should do. It also has the awesome side effect of being so jarring in comparison to the standard trailer format we've unfortunately come to expect and accept, that when I saw it at my local movie house (in front of which movie I no longer recall), many people in the audience thought they stepped into the wrong auditorium. I mean you really feel like you're watching the first four or so minutes of that film. It's not even like that DARK KNIGHT promo with the bank heist, because they prep you for what you're about to see there. No this was an example of cinematic tomfoolery of the first (and best) order.

Anyway, in another potentially embarrassing paragraph header, I was actually inspired by the trailer to cut a similar one for my latest film, MY MOM SMOKES WEED. It's a truncated scene from the film (2 min). Not the opening scene, just an iconic one. It gives you a taste for the film without revealing too much information. I typically rag on short filmmakers who cut trailers for their films. I mean if a 90 minute film has a 2 min trailer, does that mean a 9 minute short should have a 20 second one? Please don't check my math on that. I didn't use a calculator. However, I thought it would be fun in this case (hypocrate, I know), and since I'm about to hit the festival circuit, this is probably the most I can show right now to the online community. Not that enough people read this blog to get me in trouble with potential festival programmers.

Anyway, here it is, my ode to THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. The MY MOM SMOKES PRADA version of the trailer for MY MOM SMOKES WEED...

MY MOM SMOKES WEED HD TRAILER A from Clay Liford on Vimeo.

This clip is also available on my youtube site.

AND, while I'm in an embedding mood, here's a silly sorta-reel I had to create for a potential investment deal on THE ABDUCTORS. It's probably only notable for the cool music I swiped from Scott Walker.


Hope you enjoy. Now off to rent 29 DRESSES!



When I went to youtube to search for that original DWP trailer I blathered about, it was nowhere to be found. In it's stead, I found a GENERIC TRAILER that exemplifies all things horrible about modern picture previews (and totally negates the experimental qualities of the original trailer). It basically ruins the movie for you. But, oh well. Whatcha gonna do?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Courtesy of Yen Tan's Camera...

The film's almost through the editing cycle. I'll have a better poster comp later too. This one's just for fun. I just wanted people to know we're actually making progress! It's coming along rather nicely too. I can't wait to start showing it to people.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gentlemen, start your checkbooks!

OMG! Off-topic post alert!!!

If it's Tuesday, then it must be...

Holy poop! I'd personally shill out the extra ten buckazoids for the 2 disc gold collector's edition.


Danger and peril await! But you don't have to, um...await any longer. Bring home the magic, TODAY!

Hopefully this Nicholas Cage film will get the audience it deserves. Unlike the wrongfully maligned FUTURE CLASSIC that is Neil Labute's WICKER MAN.

Ahhh! THE BEES!!!!


You wanna know a national secret?

I love you!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Mom Smokes Weed!

(Nate n' Sylvia! Together again, for the first time!)

So, apparently I'm now shooting short films faster than I can edit them. I still have barely begun work on THE TIMENATRIX, and I've already finished photography on the follow up film.

This is my mother and me (and the top of a target my mom blew away at the shooting range).

This is my mother (kinda) portrayed by actress Sylvia Luedtke. Yes she is rolling a smoke. No it isn't tobacco (it's not weed either, thanks to the great fakery of Ellen Weaver).

The title pretty much sums up the movie. Oh, to clarify, the title of this post IS in fact the title of the new short. MMSW, as many of us have come to call it.

I realized that the majority of pics in my little Cannon Elph camera are not so hot. Fortunately, the pics from both my producer Yen Tan's and Adam Donaghey's cameras are VERY hot (mucho caliente!). See Adam's blog here for the proof.

Anyway, I'm very curious to see how this film shapes up. It's my first stab at anything even remotely autobiographical (albeit significantly embellished). It was nerve wracking during the audition process. Hearing actors attempt a stab at my mannerisms (via the scripted dialogue, primarily) and my mother's. It wasn't until the rehearsal phase that I was able to let go of the concept that this is a verbatim retelling of an episode from my life, and just let it live as a slightly humorous, hopefully identifiable situation in which a child is mortified by a parent, and then has to accept the fact that perhaps he can look at said parent as a person, and not just an ex-authority figure. Likewise, the parent is forced to see her child as a free-standing adult. Now I'm just waxing my psycho-babble T-bird, so I'll let it go.

Anyway, I'm already proud of it, even without a lick of editing accomplished. It's also the first time I completely divorced myself from camera operating duties (except for during The Timenatrix, when it was a necessity, since I was starring in it). Thankfully, I had two amazing and trustworthy lighting cameramen on the job. David Lowery and my long-term D.P. Jason Croft did an amazing job, with very little to work with. I think we had four lights. It was tough for me to stand back, but I think I did okay. Thanks guys, for understanding my silly anxieties.

I will post later of the editorial progress. For now, I've got this on my plate, as well as The Timenatrix (on which I may be officially handing over editorial duties to Blair Rowan, post haste), AND the rewrite on our (hopefully) next feature, THE ABDUCTORS. Not to mention, we're about to regroup for the next leg of KIDDO photography. Oh yeah, and there's a potential web series too, starring Chris Gardner as a Dungeonmaster. Fun!

Finally, a few farewells. Firstly, to Adam Donaghey, who is off to Atlanta for something like 6 months to earn money to pay for my films (wink, wink). Next, to James Johnston, who is off to a deserving festival run for the brilliant short MERRILY, MERRILY, which he just completed. Also, to Yen Tan, whose outstanding feature CIAO is also making significant strides on the festival circuit. I will actually have the good fortune of attending the Miami screening of the film WITH MY MOTHER at the beginning of May! And last, but certainly not least, to David Lowery, who is spending over a month in New York, working on a secret film project that I'm certain will be amazing.



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008, I hope you brought a fresh pair of undies!

SPOILER ALERT!!!!! I made another short film while you were taking a shower (or whatever you were doing in the bathroom that required the water to run full blast for like 40 minutes. Hey, I'm not judging).

Yes, 2008 is shaping up to be a pretty bitchin year. THE ABDUCTORS is just about to enter active pre-production for 6 weeks, to be followed by an 18 day shoot. Finally (jinx! jinx!)!

If you go to David Lowery's blog, you can see how well ST. NICK is shaping up.

And, as I mentioned above, we shot another short film! And not just any short film, mind you. No. This one deals with the mysteries of TIME ITSELF! Oh, and wife swapping. Well, um some sort of infidelity. I can't keep it straight.

Anyway, I haven't even begun to edit the bastard, but Adam has some photos up on his blog, so check em out.

And here, for the first time, is the MAIN TITLE for the short. Yes, I spent a grand total of TEN MINUTES procrastinating the compiling of tax forms to bring you the first official image from the film (well, as official as 10 minutes can get you)!

Bask in it's half-assed glory!

You're welcome!

Monday, March 3, 2008

More from the digital confines of my micro-camera!


Sorry, couldn't resist.

I've really taken to this camera. I'm not a good still photographer at all, but somehow it really doesn't matter. I have absolutely ZERO ego about the thing. It may be the one thing in life that I don't judge myself by. Case in point, the following pics. My photo evidence of the fleeting greatness that was (is, still is) David Patrick Lowery's ST. NICK.

7 Chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch.

And on that ranch, there was a....

...NOSTRIL BEAST!!!!!!!!!!!

"Back to work, @$$hats!" This is our new AD after the first one perished in a horrendous "cotton gin" mishap. Foul play has yet to be ruled out.

Savannah (pictured above) worked out her aggression on the crew in preparations for a scene she personally added to David's (in her words) "abomination of a script."

*****SPOILER ALERT!!!!******

An alternate ending?! No. Merely a scene stolen from the PBS classics version of Wuthering Heights, written and performed by Savannah Sears. This still was taken mere moments before the black lung carried her away on soot-coated wings.

Producer James Johnston proves, much like Colossus of the X-Men or Thor of some stupidy ol' mythology junk, that she is the strongest bearded woman alive!

Oh, child labor laws! You so crazy! I wanna have yo baby!

I have nothing humorous to say about guest-audio mixer, Barak Epstein. Primarily because he'll stab you in the friggin eye for merely looking at him sideways! What a *%$@*bag!

"I'll miss you most of all, old wooden support column!"

Wikipedia defines "BRO-MANCE" as anything having to do with this picture. Or submission wrestling. Actually, this begs the question, "what's wrong with this image?" If your answer is anything other than "there's a little girl watching this transpire," you might want to consider professional help.

The effects of 2+ weeks of low budget shooting? Or merely another example of the bro-mantic principal? Yes, the Stockholm Syndrome is a many splendor'ed thing.

That's a wrap! The production team of St. Nick ensures our child actors will not grow up to be horrible party-monsters and pop divas by means of our special "retirement camps." Here, one actress in being permanently inducted by means of a Colombian neck adjustment.

Well, until the next shoot, lounge out @$$hats!

Image courtesy of David Lowery, pervert.

Friday, February 22, 2008

This is what happens when you buy me a camera for Christmas!

So, my girlfriend bought me a really neat camera for Christmas this year. It's my first digital camera, which may seem odd, since I make my living as a Director of Photography. I've just never really been one to take pictures (as will be evident by the following photo montage). Anyway, in an effort to change all that, here are my first batch of photos from the set of ST. NICK, the new feature film directed by David Lowery (and D.P.'ed by me).

You are BANISHED!!!! Director David Lowery utilizing techniques picked up at the Eric von Stroheim institute of child actor abuse.

James Johnston before the chair broke.

Adam Donaghey with a Mark growing out of his shoulder. This is a particularly well composed shot. Scholars take note!

Mark Sharon and a juvenile delinquent.

"Lite Rock" Martin (audio), oddly, loves Death Metal.


Gimme that lunch! I needs it!!!!!!

Oh Gods! I have been feasted upon!

The brutal carnivore, finally sated. But for how long????

Fun with insurance policies!!!!
Rudak teaches a continuing ed class on mortuary decorative fan making.

The picture for today?

Working on sets is hard! Sooo tired. Gonna take a nap so I can send more photos later, gator!

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