MCN Blogs
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar


Whirlwind weekend.

I flew into NYC on a red-eye flight Thursday night, arriving at JFK at about 5:30AM, so as to have Friday to unwind and see some friends. I wanted to fly Virgin, but there were no direct flights on Virgin from Seattle, and it would have cost a lot more, so I ended up flying JetBlue on the recommendation of a frequent East-West commuting friend. JetBlue was great, as far as long-ass cross country flights go. Slept most of the way, other than when Anxious-About-Flying Woman next to me kept freaking out and wringing her hands; when we hit a bit of turbulence she freaked out and started yelling, waking the sleeping 2YO behind us, which everyone on the packed flight very much appreciated.

Landed, grabbed a cab, got to John Wildman and Justina Walford’s very stylish digs about two blocks from John’s office at Film Society Lincoln Center. Their apartment would make a nice set for a short film about a smart, hip, professional couple. John and I grabbed breakfast with my good friend Karen Gehres, a filmmaker I met a few years ago at Ebertfest when her film Begging Naked played there. Ebertfest is a great place for making lifelong friends. I wanted to go for a long walk around town, but I was SO tired that I really just needed a bath and a short nap before meeting up with Jennifer Merin, Joanna Langfield and Thelma Adams from Alliance of Women Film Journalists over happy hour. I brought Karen along with me, and a good chat was had by all.

After that, it was time to hook back up with John and Justina, who were hanging out at the Walter Reade Theater, where John had to work as they were screening The Heartbreak Kid , with Elaine May and Charles Grodin on-hand (John’s part of the crack publicity team for FSLC). Justina and I hung out at the party for NYFF volunteers, where no one seemed to know or care that we weren’t actually volunteers. Got in a quick hello and hug with Eugene Hernandez before he headed off to lead a Q&A for the film, and then John, Justina, Rose Kuo and I grabbed some dim sum down the street. Our waiter kept harassing/stalking us in a weird way, practically demanding that we order alcohol, and being very disapproving that we only wanted dim sum off the carts, not entrees. I mean, it’s a dim sum cafe, right? And trust me, we consumed a LOT of it because we were all starving. So whatever.

Next day, I was up early to get to the Killer Hope Indie Film Producing Masterclass for which I trekked out to NYC. Joe Shapiro, who’s my editor for my short film, Bunker (and who also aspires to direct a feature himself, having done several shorts and made his reputation already as a terrific editor on Police Beat and Zoo), also made the trip from Seattle to NYC for the workshop. The workshop itself was packed — packed! – full of mostly youngish, enthusiastic faces eager to hear what Christine and Ted had to say. I know them both a bit and have heard their individual takes before, but I wanted to catch this workshop both to see what new nuggets of wisdom they had to offer, and to hear them play off each other. They’re both fabulous indie producers, and if you want to work in this industry they’re both great models for how to do so; they also have very different styles of working, so it was interesting to hear them back-and-forth on issues like how to put together a package and get financing, and the state of indie film generally from their perspective.

There was a great Twitter feed going throughout (you can find it at #KHNYC), but some of the interesting things that came up were how the digital age has changed, and continues to change, the indie film landscape. Killer Films is now, in addition to their usual stuff, also working on things for television and the internet, and both Christine and Ted talked a lot about the need for this generation of producers to rethink what distribution means and really think creatively with how to make back money on your film. The subject of how to monetize short films came up (I perked up at this) and Ted talked about how, whereas five years a go or so, a filmmaker would have just made a short to be a “calling card,” these days you can use crowdfunding not just to raise money for your project but to market it and build an audience, and perhaps even make some money back on your creative investment. All in all, the whole thing gave me a lot to think on. Joe and I had lunch (NYC pizza at Patsy’s! Yum!) with a young NYU student, and her energy level made me wish that I had all the energy and enthusiasm I had when I was in my 20s … only with the experience I have now.

Post-workshop, Joe and I walked with Ted and his producer/director wife Vanessa over to the after-party a bar. Vanessa and I stepped inside, saw the crowd, and bailed to head across the street to a little juice bar/bagel joint where it was quiet and we could catch up. The juice was just meh, but I did nosh on a NYC bagel — why can’t they make them taste like that in Seattle? I’d forgotten how good a real NY bagel is. Vanessa’s working on an fascinating doc project, and I wanted to hear all about it. Plus, we both hate bars, crowds and noise. Caught up with Ted a little after he disentangled himself from the hoards of enthusiastic admirers, and then Joe I I took the subway down to Tribeca to head to a little impromptu dinner party at Rose Kuo and Larry Gross’s apartment, which also looks like it could be a set for an indie film. Lots of color, lots of art, spiral staircase, plus Rose, ever-stylish even while cooking, effortlessly whipping up a huge salmon, broccoli rabe, potatos, salad. Rose is a great cook and hostess, she cooks like LA — spare ingredients done very, very well, with emphasis on freshness and flavor. Great little crowd of Film Society folks plus me and Joe, and the wine and conversation flowed until late.

Things I didn’t get a chance to do on this quick trip: Get over to Brooklyn to see my friends who live over that way, get down to Wall Street to check out Occupy, get to any vintage shops to dig around for fabulous finds. Missed a few friends who were busy or out of town. All of which gives me a reason to get back to NYC sooner rather than later. For now, though, time to board my flight home, catch a nap on the plane, and get back to Seattle to finish up the last few days of hectic preproduction before we shoot Bunker this weekend. See you from Seattle.

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2 Responses to “Whirlwind”

  1. Thelma Adams says:

    So glad to get a chance to hang with you in NYC. Sounds like it was a great — if quick — weekend all around.

  2. Karen Gehres says:

    Miss you already! Ok then,let’s plan the next visit shall we?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon