Just finished a terrific Boston premiere this past weekend at the historic Coolidge Corner Theatre where BLUMENTHAL screened as part of the 25th Annual Boston Jewish Film Festival. I've been floored at the level of organization, press attention, and filmmaker hospitality at many of the Jewish film festivals and Boston is at the top of the list. When we started the "Jewish" touring San Francisco a few months ago, I didn't know what to expect. It's been fascinating to see the response to the film from predominantly Jewish audiences and the Q and A's after screenings have been more vibrant than ever before. The best part? Jews don't wait for a Q and A to ask their questions. When I was standing at the back of the crowded theatre in Boston, a middle-aged woman entered the cinema about ten minutes into the film. She walked right over to me at random, tugged my jacket and whisper/yelled, "What did I miss?" Only at a Jewish film festival...
They say comedy doesn't translate overseas. That is the industry rule of thumb and a major consideration when studios and distributors make market projections for films. The logic (and statistical evidence) being that while drama is universal, comedy is fundamentally cultural. Ironically, it seems it is that very cultural thread of BLUMENTHAL is what might make it more universal than I had originally thought.
With our Jewish Film Festival tour now in full swing, we are learning that Jews anywhere can and will laugh at Jews from anywhere. The past week's screenings of Blumenthal in London were completely sold out. It was fascinating to hear the audiences spots of laughter throughout. In general the British audience seems to favor the subtler humor, and in some cases laughed at things that I had no idea were funny.
My wife sends me reviews of the film she finds online. The reviews from London have been awesome. I try not to focus on those things, because if you believe the good ones, you kind of have to believe the bad ones, too. My wife doesn't send those, but I'm sure there are some. She did, however, just sent me a little blurb she read on the Virgin Media site that I thought I'd share. It's less a review of the film and more a review of this blog and the overall process it chronicles. Have a look!
Long overdue, but here nonetheless. For all of you wonderful people who supported BLUMENTHAL on Kickstarter, the merchandise is finally here. Stills, DVDs, and more! Some of you will even be receiving a nifty mug like the one above. As soon as I can cram this stuff into boxes they will be headed your way. Thank you for being patient!
Just days before Blumenthal screens in Boston, I will be flying to London for the UK Jewish Film Festival. This festival is unique in that it screens not just in London, but throughout the country. In addition to its two main screenings in the capital, Blumenthal will screen in Leeds and Liverpool. I'll be attending one of the London screenings on November 6th at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. On a personal note, I have a ton of family in this part of London, many of whom were early supporters of Blumenthal's Kickstarter campaign. I'm excited to be able to share the film with them on the big screen!
There will be a Q and A after the screening with me and the late Harold Blumenthal aka the live Brian Cox CBE. Fun fact: "CBE" means that Brian is a "Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire". After several years of Commanders complaining to the Queen that it took far too long to write their names, they came up with "CBE".
Click here for details: http://www.phoenixcinema.co.uk/whatson/?progid=4513523
I think the British take on the synopsis for the film is by far the best I've read. If you are in London or anywhere near London, come and see me and Brian Cox at the Phoenix on Wednesday, November 6th!
We have a few festivals coming up in the next few months that we are very excited about. The only one I can publicly announce at this point is The Boston Jewish Film Festival. Like San Fran, Boston's fest is old and huge. We will be screening twice: ● Saturday, November 9, 9:15 PM at Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline
● Thursday, November 14, 7:00 PM at Arlington Capital Theatre, Arlington
If you are in the Boston area, please come out! The other two festivals are our first international screenings. As soon as they announce their programs, I'll be sure to flaunt the details here.
Lots of exciting things unfolding in the next few weeks regarding distribution for Blumenthal. That's right! All of you will finally be able to see the film, regardless of where you live! Some of you might even be able to see it on the big screen...
More to come!
I'm pleased to announce that BLUMENTHAL will have its Northern California premiere at the 33rd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. This is the first Jewish festival at for us to screen and we couldn't have asked for a better place. It is the oldest and largest Jewish-themed film festival with attendance numbering up to 30,000 people. Naturally, we are all very excited!
For those of you who haven't yet seen the film, you might be wondering what about the movie constitutes as "Jewish". I have, up till now, shied away from describing the film as "Jewish" mainly because I think that would be reductive and might narrow the audience. The fact is that is the film, like any other "Jewish" film, is really for everyone.
Here's the Jewish(est) spin on the film: BLUMENTHAL is about a Jewish family in New York in the wake of a relative's death. For many Jews, the loss of a family member can end up being a decidedly Jewish moment in their lives. It is a time where they are forced to confront their feelings of loss and must grapple with their emotions. That loss is the catalyst for much of the action in the story. Additionally, there are more socially relevant issues touched upon in the story such as interfaith relationships, hypocrisy between people's philosophy and actions, and self-loathing within a secular society.
I must confess, the above paragraph is the first time I've consciously gone through the Jewish elements of the film. Much of what transpires in the film is actually based on a very common dynamic of a show-business family. "Jewish" and "dysfunctional" sometimes go hand in hand in this New York arena which is where our story blossoms.
As we gear up to schedule a release of the film, the Jewish Film Festival circuit will be a key part of reaching the Jewish film-goers and cultivating that niche part of our audience. Anyone who knows anything about the movies or the movie industry knows that Jews love film. Almost every community in the country has their own annual festival, often with sold out screenings. We are thrilled to kick off the Jewish fests right. San Francisco, here we come!
Tickets and dates here.
The "New Fests" part is really just a tease. I said tease, not a lie. We have two really cool film festivals coming up at the end of the summer, but neither have announced their programming slates yet, so my lips must remain sealed for the time being. I should have more details soon. We are also in the midst of mapping out the details for our distribution model. As things develop, I can promise some juicy transparency throughout the process.
In other news, Jacob Salamon and his awesome Napkin Note Productions did nice little blurb about Blumenthal and in addition to asking me why in the hell anyone would do things the way I'm doing them. There is also a smarmy portrait of yours truly exercising his eyebrow.
For those of you unfamiliar with Napkin Note, they are a cool little production company on a meteoric rise in the webisphere and in Hollywood. You've most likely seen their viral video series Bubula, Please. If you haven't, it's hilarious. They even did a recent episode with BLUMENTHAL alumnus, Fred Melamed!
I recently came across this little video from a location scout we did way back during pre-production. What's nice about having documented so much of this process is that you can stand back from the project and look at a specific scene in each phase of production. Let's start at the beginning. [vimeo 24679219 w=500 h=281]
The major things to note are where we talk about putting the camera, where we talk about putting a fish tank, and the entire look of the room we are standing in. While so much can change your plans on the day of shooting, I'm surprised at how much we stuck to the initial map.
As you can see, Marie Lynn Wagner did a killer job dressing up the place. Harder to tell in the behind the scenes shots, but check out these stills from the final cut once the lights were up. Below, you can see the main camera setup we were discussing in the video.
One thing that completely changed from our initial discussion at the top was the placement of the bookshelf. The idea was that we would follow a character, Saul, from the couch to the bookshelf. We ultimately put the bookshelf opposite side of the wall in order to keep the lighting scheme consistent as we did the move. The end result was a reverse shot like the one below.
Finally, you can see some other angles of this particular setup in the trailer for the film. Specifically, look at moments from 1:25-1:29.
[vimeo 46904894 w=500 h=281]