Slackjaw Rises

September 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Zach here. I’m in La Grande, OR right now and just two days away from the finish line of of Ian Clark’s new movie – A MORNING LIGHT. I’m acting. It’s fun. I can’t think of a better way to follow up my own project than to sit around for eighteen days looking pretty, not worrying about shit, and eating for free. Thanks, Ian. [UPDATE: I’m not in La Grande anymore but the fact that it was fun still stands.]
By contrast, however, August was a month fraught with uncertainty, tension, last-minute saves, and occasional high leisure. I’m referring to the production of SLACKJAW – the mildly political bromantic superhero origin dramedy I made with usual suspects Nandan, Rob, Brad, and Jesse – along with the indispensable help of several fine local yokels that I’ll introduce shortly.

While the project began as a complex excuse to restore the blog to former glory, things quickly spiraled out of control and the movie took over. We’re arguably not kids anymore, and even just a scant 35 continuous days of someone’s time/energy is becoming a lot to ask. That’s why I decided to skip a process that we in the industry refer to as pre-production and launched into shooting almost totally unprepared. Turns out it was a fucked up decision. Anyway, my point is that while I would have loved to provide a daily breakdown of our progress complete with pretty stills and fun anecdotes, it just wasn’t possible. That’s why I’m here now – to save face with a general description of what it was all like, and to highlight some of the individuals involved.
That’s Rob Malone checking himself out after a makeup test in his dressing room. At least one of Rob’s appendages appears in every single scene of the movie. He was the first person on board since at least eighteen months ago. He underwent a full-on Raging Bull-style transformation for the role, exploring and embracing the chill NW lifestyle. Bless him.
This is clearly Nandan. From our very first collaboration he displayed an unparalleled talent for putting the camera on a tripod and finding focus. And that was back then. This is Nandan 2.0. Observe the muscles and the effortless personal style. Look at that motherfucking Steadicam. Can you imagine how cool this movie must look?
The man on the right is Brad, looking timeless in his money print button down with the letters U, S, and A shaved/painted into the side of his dome. Brad produced the movie, but he is seen here reviving his brief role from THE INTERNATIONAL SIGN FOR CHOKING, which he also produced. He is always down for a cocktail and/or a deep thought no matter the hour or circumstances. In the above photo he is enjoying both after we shot our big Fourth of July sequence. On the left we have Ian Clark (mentioned above). Let’s get a closer look at him.
Ian is directing the movie I’m working on right now. He drove up from Portland just to hang out that day and found himself playing a key role in a handful of important scenes. Look at the dedication at play here. All in the span of a day, Ian submitted himself to a gross hot dog eating contest, multiple beers poured over his head, roman candles fired at his car, and – best of all – the haircut pictured above.
Here we have a classic behind the scenes image, with the camera looking high tech as ever. The more dedicated Newhard fans will recognize Kym (from YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG) on the left, followed by Johanna and Martine. The three of them showed up on short notice one day and crushed their cameos. They are great. Fourth from the left we have Blaise. She had one of the larger roles in the movie. As is my custom, I cast her without any sort of audition or prior knowledge of her acting abilities. She exceeded all expectations and tore the role to shreds. I must have a demon watching over me, because I surely do not deserve this level of excellence. Hail Satan.
And here we have MaryJane. She is a punk singer/general performative genius. She appeared in a handful of scenes and every time she came to set we felt like frauds to have someone so rad hanging out with us. Check out that switchblade earring. You can’t write that.
In this corner, representing the corporate bro lifestyle, we have the Jesses. On the left is Jesse Ruiz, the Slackjaw MVP of handsome and high charisma. On the right is Jesse Rudoy, star of Nandan’s THE MEN OF DODGE CITY. Like Rob, Rudoy went deep method with his role – never shedding his fresh teal polo or ceasing his stream of improvised frat-grade witticisms. Not pictured is Alex Rivera, my since-day-one homie and critical third member of the movie’s bro-trio.
Speaking of corporate, here’s a taste of the movie’s high production value as evidenced by this sick sign my dad is holding behind the scenes of his brief cameo as a stock photo model. Psyched about that. Not pictured above but entirely worthy of thanks are people like Kanako, Peru, Chask’e, Kyle, Chris, Justine, Steve, Jahla/Kenny (who performed this beautiful music in one of my favorite scenes), and everyone who came to our shoots and delivered a line or simply walked/skated by in the background. Also thanks to Seth the campus cop who rolled by on a Segway while we were shooting in the Evergreen basement at night without permission (me wearing nothing but a sheet) and simply said, “Carry on.”

So that’s SLACKJAW. It’s a weird bird to be sure. I still don’t know how it’ll turn out in the end, but I needed to venture into strange territory and I thank all of the friends new/old who came with me. It was rarely easy and a few times it wasn’t even fun, but in accordance with Newhard law, we ended on a high note…
Screenshot 2014-08-25 15.59.15
The edit is well underway and I’ll probably serve up a teaser sooner or later just to keep myself pumped. [UPDATE: The edit is even more well underway and I made a silly teaser…]

Meanwhile, you can check out my previous movies on Fandor. I’m really excited about that. Also, if you’re in Seattle on Monday, Sept. 29, Brian Perkins’ movie SPEED OF SOUND will be playing Local Sightings at the NW Film Forum at 7pm. I acted in it and Brian is great. See you there or else see you here with future updates. [UPDATE: The screening happened and the movie was awesome. Look out for it.]


April 29th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. We just got our first review by a major US publication, and what a publication it was. See the title of this post for a subtle hint. You can read it here.

As you can see, it’s somewhat mixed, although the general vibe is definitely positive. Review-wise, we’ve gotten much better, as well as much worse. Before ever having made a movie, I sometimes wondered how I’d react to reading this stuff. Now I know: kind of apathetically. I don’t believe that movies themselves are “good” or “bad”, only the impressions that they leave on each individual viewer. When someone hates my movie, fine, that’s just one out of however many billion potential impressions. I feel the same way when someone loves it: so what? Admittedly, I’m human and I can’t help hoping that people approve of what I did, but I don’t get angry or defensive in the face of criticism. Except when it’s personal. The film and the filmmaker are separate entities, I can’t stand when people don’t seem to understand that.

But if I really believe all of what I said before, then why am I writing now after having been reviewed by someone “important”? Well, not everyone shares my weird, noncommittal views regarding movie qualification. Variety is a sort of a giant, and so I guess that what makes me anxious about the review is the thought of people taking it as an “official verdict”. Plenty of people make up their minds whether to see a movie based on reviews. Myself, I’m more of a trailer man. But then again, even our trailer has proven polarizing. Whatever, Bummer Summer is no longer my baby. It’s my chubby toddler that won’t stop crying at Red Robin. And I’m pregnant with another, god help me.

In other news, the movie had its most recent festival screening just last night in Athens, OH. Nandan was there in attendance, and from what he tells me it seems to have been our most lackluster screening to date. But I’ll reserve judgment until I read his detailed blog-report, which I’m sure will come any day now. I’m exponentially more excited for our next festival, but I’m not sure that I’m supposed to say what it is yet. Whatever, check back regularly because I’m sure I’ll crack soon enough.

I know it’s not even May yet, but get excited for June as it will include a screening at this festival in question, an article in another major publication, the launch of our fundraising campaign for The International Sign for Choking, and Bummer Summer‘s hometown premiere. Details in the coming weeks.

B.A. Bound

April 7th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. I just wanted to get in one last domestic update before I leave the country tomorrow. That’s right…


So here’s all of our news in brief. The results of the McDouble Challenge are as follows: Dusty came in second place with seven McDoubles, and I came in first place with eleven. It was a really weird night. My dismally failed stint as an editor concluded this afternoon as I boxed up the Fresh Starts for Stale People hard drive and shipped it east for Rob to take on. If it gets damaged en route, we’ll be upset. Finally (and this will really excite all of our Ohioan readers), Bummer Summer will be screening at the 37th annual Athens International Film and Video Festival. The festival runs the 23rd through the 29th of April in Athens, Ohio. The festival will not be taking place in Greece. I had been holding off on that last bit of news until the festival’s programming came out, but they’ve been having a hell of a time getting their website updated and I didn’t want to wait any longer. It should be ready within the week, at which point I’ll be back with another post.

And that’s it. I’ll be in Buenos Aires early Friday morning. I’m so excited. The last time I was there I met some VERY important people…
Let’s hope that the trend continues this time around. And that no one laughs at my haircut because I just made my little sister shave my neck and I think she kinda botched it.

Media Exbrosion

January 15th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Zach here. If you visit this blog via the link on our website, then you were probably surprised to see that it looks totally different as of today. You also may have noticed two new trailers. In case you didn’t, here they are:

If you’ve got a second to spare, leave a comment and let us know which one you prefer.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a facebook page. It includes stills and set photographs with which even the most seasoned blog-reader will be unfamiliar. Please visit this page by clicking here.


December 26th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. Things are moving along, slowly but a little bit surely.

Blogwise, I’m actually sitting on a decent pile of media-treats. A little video clip here, a little still photo there, etc. Having other people hard at work has left me time to putz around with this sort of thing. And yet, I’m not even getting that done.

But it’s not like I’m without excuses. I work a lot. And additionally, I’m very deep in story meetings on a cross country road movie. Its current working title is “Fresh Starts for Stale People” and it’s more or less a jaw-dropping portrait of a nation shattered by economic turmoil and the all-too-recent loss of its greatest pop icon.

It will go into production next month.

But anyway, I posted two new YouTube videos!!!


December 20th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. It’s tough times.

I’m fresh back from an overnight trip to rural New Jersey where the idea was to record some missing sound effects for the movie’s sound design. Naturally, a blizzard rendered this task impossible. I’m getting a lot of anxiety about finishing everything on time, because although there’s plenty to be done, all of it is out of my hands. People are on it, and while they’re all people that I trust and have confidence in, it’s not easy to just sit by with my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong.

So how do I deal with it? I sit around, I stress, I go to work, I make nervous phone calls, and most entertainingly, I browse my hard drive for amusing photos or video to post on the internet. Enjoy.

This movie will be done in less than two weeks.

Sound (and the reveal)

December 16th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here, barely.

Due to recent developments we’re suddenly facing an imminent deadline and it’s been causing a lot of stress. The only remaining aspect of the movie to finish is the sound design/mix. This is a huge undertaking. Our eager and generous sound designer Cecile was made aware of this right in the midst of a busy finals week, and two days prior to departure on a three-week trip to her hometown, Paris. Not advantageous timing.

Enter one of the movie’s most epic saviors to date: Katie. She’s got a lot of experience with post-sound, and consistently does a great job with it. Yesterday afternoon I sat down with Cecile and Katie to work out some way in which they could double-team the job so that Cecile could still get her hands dirty with the soil of experience (what?). Slowly and painfully, two very upsetting things became clear: that there was no convenient way to keep Cecile involved (this after her having put in work already), and that Katie would be taking on the full weight of our sound burden. Since then she’s already logged an absurd amount of hours towards our cause. Here’s a photo of her, hating me for what I’ve done to her.

Photo 57

In this paragraph I was going to explain why I’ve been secretive. I know it’s obnoxious. I think I’ll just reveal the secret.

Two days ago I was invited to officially premiere the movie as part of the official competition at the twentieth annual Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, CA. And I accepted.


And as exciting as that is, I can’t write anymore about it now because I’ve got to be up in five hours to work in a cramped sub-cellar stockroom with a low ceiling. Many more updates to come.


December 10th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Zach here. That semi-interesting something I’d thought I’d have by the end of the week was postponed. It wasn’t much anyway, just a little YouTube vid like in the olden days. Why the fuck is “olden” a word? According to my computer’s dictionary it’s archaic and/or jocular.

Today, five thousand filmmakers and I were regretfully informed via e-mail that our films were unable to be included in the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival.

The five thousand thing is what really blows me away. I couldn’t even begin to justify feeling bitter or like they’d made a mistake considering what a massive amount of people were given the very same “no”. With all of the time and money that goes into making these petty picture shows, it almost seems a little twisted to “select” a few of them.

“We’re sorry, but that whole year (or more) of your life you just spent, while commendable, wasn’t quite worthwhile.”

But we’re the ones who make it this way. It could be so rewarding just to finish a movie. It is, for a second, until we decide we want our work to be qualified and assessed against the work of others. So we get rejected.

Here’s to hoping I can take the news in such stride if/when less monumental festivals start turning us down.

On a positive note, tonight I gave myself that mullet I’ve always dreamed of having. It’s extremely subtle. Mullet-chic.

UPDATE: Immediately after publishing this post I realized that we’ve now blogged in every single month of the year. That’s chilling to me.


December 6th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. This is getting ridiculous. Progress is almost at a standstill. It’s been too long.

I promise something semi-interesting or better by the end of the week.

Picture Lock

November 19th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. Jesse and I met this evening and came to an official agreement on the cutting of the movie. The edit is now complete and the movie itself is on the verge of completion pending the application of Nandan and Cecile’s respective talents. To celebrate the occasion, here’s a photo of Jesse and I reaching our accord.

Photo 37

I’ll bet he’s bummed that his right breast pocket was all screwed up.

Keep checking back for similar updates and perhaps even the ever-elusive official trailer (no promises).

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