Baby’s Got a Brand New Passport

My new, hopefully post-bed bug life coincides with my new passport, which I just got today. A clean slate! I feel so fresh, like a newborn 40-year-old.

I need the extra visa pages for my upcoming festival tour, which includes:

Durban International Film Festival
July 23 – August 3
Durban, South Africa

Melbourne International Film Festival
July 25 – August 10
Melbourne, Australia

Brisbane International Film Festival
July 31 – August 10
Brisbane, Australia

Jecheon International Music and Film Festival
August 9 – 14
Jecheon, Korea

Who needs an apartment when you’ve got airplanes and hotels? And who needs money when there are party snacks and meal vouchers? See you on the other side of the World!

Meanwhile, if you’re in New York, Sita will screen at the

Long Island Film and Wine Festival
July 31 – August 3
Martha Clara Vineyards, Long Island, New York

Obviously I won’t be there, but a bunch of NY Sita collaborators will! Come see the movie and say hi to them.

A Very Bad Time

Infested

These last few weeks have been pretty awful. I am broke and homeless. Time I should be spending working on promoting my film – my only asset, my life’s work – has instead been consumed salvaging what I can from my apartment, bagging things in ziplocs, laundry laundry laundry, carrying stuff up and down and back and forth, throwing things out, calling exterminators, calling the landlord, calling friends, sleeping on a sofa, not sleeping on a sofa, taking showers and immediately changing into more ziploc-ed clothes, more laundry, wiping salvaged computer parts down with alcohol, weeping, talking to other tenants in my now-former building, confronting debt, canceling accounts, checking messages, begging for help, watching red bumps grow on my hands and arms (I have a delayed reaction to bed bug bites; it takes 9 days for the red welts to really blossom, then they linger a long time), reading bedbugger.com, reading craigslist housing ads, weeping some more, et cetera.

Continue reading “A Very Bad Time”

Information wants to be free, and so do I.

sitaholdsrama.jpg

My main goal with Sita Sings the Blues was always to have people see it, but the movie business makes that very difficult. I’ve been trying to go the movie biz route, really trying, with a sales rep and everything, but I’m about to throw in the towel. Distributors gain exclusive rights, and if they don’t exploit those rights competently, your film remains unseen (and for a little indie feature like mine, they offer to pay shit for those rights). Television actually pays very little for indies – about 1/6 what studio films get. Then there’s the problem that I can’t afford to sell my own film, due to the cost of officially clearing rights to the underlying compositions (the Hanshaw recordings aren’t protected by Federal Copyright law but the songs’ underlying compositions are still controlled by publishers and estates). I already owe $6,000 just for “festival rights” – the right to lose money sending the expensive prints to film festivals. To officially sell DVDs, I’ll need to purchase even more expensive rights – at prices designed for moneyed studios, not broke artists – and buy “E and O Insurance,” and doG knows what else. Yeah, yeah, I knew this going in, but I expected a distributor to pay for some of it. These costs are a pittance by studio standards, nothing at all really, but I’m still an “indie,” and no matter how many awards Sita wins, no distributor is going to spend real money on her.

I just want people to see the movie.

So last night I thought, maybe it’s time to investigate Plan C – giving it away for free. But how? Free online video like youtube is too low-quality, plus it’s not set up for feature-length works. I’m happy to give the film away for free, but I don’t want it to look like crap! There are higher-quality online venues like itunes, but those aren’t free. I’m pretty adamant about it being free, because

a) I can’t afford to sell it (see above)

b) no one should be denied viewing for lack of funds

c) I detest the movie business and their Digital Rights Management, and don’t want my film used to support their bullshit.

Yes, it would cost money to give Sita away – someone would have to donate a lot of server space and management. But it could be a worthy cause. Has anyone ever given away a really excellent, award-winning feature film online before? Maybe we could start a new trend. I’d ask for donations, of course – to me as an artist, not for the film – and there’s always merchandise, if the film gets really popular. I know many readers of this blog and fans of Sita are progressive, creative computer types. Any ideas? Any friends in high places who could help? I made Sita by ignoring the rules of filmmaking, I’d like to distribute her the same way. Information wants to be free, and so do I.

It has happened to me

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are like Syphilis for apartments. They appeared on the other side of my building a few years ago; it was only a matter of time before they came here. My downstairs neighbor detected and began treating an infestation while I was traveling last month. Possibly they were driven upstairs when her place was sprayed, or perhaps they were waiting all along. Whatever the reason, I didn’t leave an infested apartment, but I have returned to one.

Treating bedbugs is a lifestyle. Anything made of fabric must be washed and dried at high heat, then immediately transferred to ziploc bags. You then live out of ziploc bags for months (I’ve already spent the last month living out of suitcases, which I thankfully haven’t brought back to the apartment; those at least are not infested). You vacuum constantly. You change into ziploc-fresh clothes immediately before visiting friends, in order to not transfer hiding bugs to them. Everything you own must be inspected, cleaned, sterilized, heated. Furniture must be emptied and pulled from the walls. Exterminators visit every few weeks to spread poison. You are supposed to continue sleeping in the bed, as bait to attract the bugs from their hiding places over the poison. You keep doing this for weeks or months, until the bugs leave you alone. Of course they just move to a neighbor’s apartment, and play musical beds unless your whole building is treated. Good luck with that.

So I’m moving out. My lease ends September 30 anyway. I can’t move my stuff, of course, as it is possibly harboring renegade bugs and needs to be sprayed at least 3 times over 2 months, with no guarantees. I’d like to salvage my computer, but everything else I own could vaporize for all I care. I wish it would.

Bruno and I are going to stay at a friend’s house for a while (friend will supply a fresh outfit from my off-site suitcase I can change into to prevent infecting his car, and anything else I bring with will be sealed in bags and placed straight in a washing machine; cats aren’t known to carry bugs except in the most severe cases). Much as I hate travel and have longed for home these past weeks, I don’t really have a home right now. Since I can’t afford to rent or buy a new place now (I’m in deepening debt from Sita) I may just go from festival to festival for a while.

By some miracle I haven’t completely lost my mind yet, but I’m getting there.

I’m back!

sitacinemacity.jpg

Now I get to enjoy two glorious weeks in my favorite city in the World. Sita did very well in Europe, especially France – in addition to the Annecy prize, she won “Best American Feature” at Avignon. All of which takes some of the sting out of returning to a lost potential romance, a friend’s descent into alcoholism, and a bedbug infestation in my building (the exterminators come Friday). Still, I am overjoyed to be reunited with my beloved cat Bruno, and walk and bicycle in the city I love, bedbugs and all.

Here are some pictures of Novi Sad, Serbia, I took while attending the Cinema City film festival.