Monthly Archives: January 2009

Hutton, Howard on Crude Independence

I really love it when I stumble across a project accidentally and get hooked on the concept immediately. And thanks to iMDB, that recently happened when I learned about director Noah Hutton‘s and producer Sam Howard‘s documentary, Crude Independence. What really struck me about the project was how effectively Hutton and Howard have marketed the documentary through YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr (and other online venues). So, after gathering as much info as I could, I contacted Hutton and Howard to see if they would be interested in an email interview. They were, fortunately.

Here’s the basic background on the documentary:

“Crude Independence is a documentary film about the heartland in the process of transplanting itself, and its new heart is pumping oil. In 2006, the United States Geological Survey estimated there to be more than 200 billion barrels of crude oil resting in a previously unreachable formation beneath western North Dakota. With the advent of new drilling technologies, oil companies from far and wide are descending on small rural towns across the state with men and machinery in tow. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley (population 1300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent, and captures the change wrought by the unprecedented boom. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America— a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America’s unyielding thirst for oil.”

And follow this link, to see which festivals will be screening the documentary in the coming months. One more detail–you have to respect any project that is executive produced by Jonathan Demme.

February 2, 2009 Update:  Hutton emailed me over the weekend to let me know the documentary, Crude Independence had been selected for the 2009 SXSW Film Festival, where it will be part of “the Emerging Visions competition, highlighting first-time and up and coming filmmakers.” Congrats to Hutton and Howard (along with the rest of the Couple 3 Film crew).

Continue reading Hutton, Howard on Crude Independence

Morgan Dews on Must Read After My Death

Morgan Dews is a documentary maker that I hope is on the cusp of major success. I’m a documentary junkie, no doubt, and his very personal work, Must Read After My Death, is a fascinating glimpse into the secrets of a family. Here’s a synopsis of the work: “When a Hartford couple turns to psychiatry for help with their marriage in 1960, things quickly spiral out of control. Couples counseling, individual and group therapy and 24-hour marathon sessions ensue. Their four children suffer and are given their own psychiatrists. Pills are prescribed, people are institutionalized, shock-therapy is administered. This is an intimate story in the family’s own words, from an extraordinary collection of audio recordings and home movies, illuminating a difficult and extraordinary time.” The couple? Dews’ grandparents. One of the children? Dews’ mother. Enough background, now on to the interview. My thanks to Morgan for his time. Keep an eye out for upcoming film festivals in your area, if your lucky, they’ll be showing this documentary.

Tim O’Shea: Growing up with your grandmother, did you have any idea the degree of what she and her children endured as a family?

Morgan Dews: None. As I say at the beginning of this film, this is a story that my grandmother never ever talked to me about. I found out about it through the tapes after she died. She would always say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This story is basically the opposite of that. She had psychiatrists saying that she should express herself, her doubts, anger and fear. These audio diaries became a place for her to do that. So it really is made up of the worst hours of the worst days of the worst years. In that sense, it isn’t a complete picture of their life as a family, which was, in many ways, quite lovely. It is the secret story of the dark days of a family.

Continue reading Morgan Dews on Must Read After My Death

John Rogers on Leverage

John Rogers is a writer I was first introduced to during his run on DC Comics’ Blue Beetle. When he stepped down from the comic monthly series, I was dismayed. But now that I know it was to develop TNT’s Leverage, I’m much happier. The premise of the show is classic and simple: “The series follows a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who act as modern-day Robin Hoods, taking revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others.” TNT ordered a 13-episode run for the first season, which premiered in early December, airs every Tuesday at 10 PM (EST). Now, you may be saying to yourself: “Nuts I missed it last night.” Well the good news is that TNT is making it available On Demand, and if you do not have Comcast as your cable provider, you can watch past episodes online at TNT’s website here.

In recent years, cable networks have consistently surpassed the broadcast networks in terms of quality. And while much noise is made about the quality product that the premium cable channels (Showtime with Californication and HBO with Big Love, for example), I consider Leverage to be one of the best new shows to be developed in the past year or more. I recently caught up with Rogers (who co-created the show with Chris Downey) via email and we were able to do a quick interview. I thank Rogers for his time and for not ruthlessly mocking me with how offbase my first question turned out to be. Continue reading John Rogers on Leverage

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: Holy Land Hardball

Holy Land Hardball, a documentary directed by Erik Kesten and Brett Rapkin, is set to have its Atlanta premiere at the 2009 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) on January 22 and 23. The 84-minute, 2008 film “follows the dubious formation of the Israel Baseball League (IBL) by Larry Baras, a Boston bakery owner with no sports management experience. Stirred to action by a midlife crisis, Baras recruits a diverse collection of executives and ballplayers for the IBL, the first ever professional baseball circuit in the Middle East. The team’s challenging task is to draw Israelis to America’s pastime, a game they’ve gone 5,767 years without.”

It’s an interesting tale, which I was able to watch thank to an AJFF screener, both from a baseball and family sense. It’s got a comical tinge to the project, for example, as the baseball tryouts were being shown the Talking Heads’ song, Road to Nowhere, was played. Throughout the film, you feel like the effort to form theIBL is doomed, whether it was or not. But that aspect of the tale was secondary to me. For me, it’s a story about loss and the importance of family, and in particular father and son dynamics.

Continue reading Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: Holy Land Hardball

“Man Almost Fell on the Baby!”

My wife travels fairly often on business, and like myself she is a people watcher.

A few business trips back, she had arrived back in Atlanta and was riding the airport’s automated people mover (APM). The APM moves fast–it has to with a service claim of “less than two-minute wait times between trains”. Any one that rides it knows you should hold on when standing (there are few seats). There is an automated message advising folks to hold on, as a matter of fact.

Well, on this particular ride–there was a man standing opposite to a mother standing with her small child in a stroller. The guy was not holding on to anything and when the train took off he lurched forward, stumbling off balance, and narrowly missing landing on the child. Everyone was quite alarmed, understandably–yet relieved, of course. The mood changed quietly at first as it became apparent the guy was not going to acknowledge his minor miscalculation and apologize to the mother in some way. This bothered my wife, but she opted to mind her own business.

Such was not the reaction to a fellow standing nearby who loudly said: “The man almost fell on the baby!” At first, he said it in a state of disbelief. Then as the stumbler still refused to acknowledge what happened, the other fellow said it more loudly and emphatically. “THE MAN NEARLY FELL ON THE BABY!” This went on for a few more moments with increasing indignation about the man’s near miss, mostly to the amusement of everyone, except for the stumbler–of course.

So now, whenever my wife comes home from a trip, or if she’s on a trip and one of us is in need of a laugh–one of us will toss out: “The man almost fell on the baby!” Works every time.

“Man Almost Fell on the Baby!”

My wife travels fairly often on business, and like myself she is a people watcher.

A few business trips back, she had arrived back in Atlanta and was riding the airport’s automated people mover (APM). The APM moves fast–it has to with a service claim of “less than two-minute wait times between trains”. Any one that rides it knows you should hold on when standing (there are few seats). There is an automated message advising folks to hold on, as a matter of fact.

Well, on this particular ride–there was a man standing opposite to a mother standing with her small child in a stroller. The guy was not holding on to anything and when the train took off he lurched forward, stumbling off balance, and narrowly missing landing on the child. Everyone was quite alarmed, understandably–yet relieved, of course. The mood changed quietly at first as it became apparent the guy was not going to acknowledge his minor miscalculation and apologize to the mother in some way. This bothered my wife, but she opted to mind her own business.

Such was not the reaction to a fellow standing nearby who loudly said: “The man almost fell on the baby!” At first, he said it in a state of disbelief. Then as the stumbler still refused to acknowledge what happened, the other fellow said it more loudly and emphatically. “THE MAN NEARLY FELL ON THE BABY!” This went on for a few more moments with increasing indignation about the man’s near miss, mostly to the amusement of everyone, except for the stumbler–of course.

So now, whenever my wife comes home from a trip, or if she’s on a trip and one of us is in need of a laugh–one of us will toss out: “The man almost fell on the baby!” Works every time.

Jessica Faust on BookEnds LLC

The book publishing industry has always fascinated me. So, when I happen to run across Jessica Faust‘s writing at the BookEnds LLC‘s blog, I decided to contact her for an email interview. As detailed at the site: “BookEnds, LLC, is a literary agency cofounded by Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach. Originally started in 1999 as a book packaging company, BookEnds now operates primarily as a literary agency focusing on fiction and nonfiction books for adult audiences.

As a literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Her areas of expertise include historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and erotic romance, urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. In nonfiction, Jessica specializes in current affairs, business, finance, career, parenting, psychology, women’s issues, self-help, health, sex, and general nonfiction. While open to anything, Jessica is most actively seeking unique fiction with a strong hook, and nonfiction with creative ideas and large author platforms.

My thanks to Faust for sharing her take on the publishing world. (And my apologies to her for using the term “trashy novels” in that one question–it won’t happen again, I promise!)

Tim O’Shea: You’ve been in the publishing industry since the mid-1990s and have a great perspective on how the Internet has helped redefine your industry. First off, have you seen an increase in submissions from people that think they should be published (and have no chance) or has the rate and quality of unpublishable manuscripts stayed about the same in your experience?

Jessica Faust: I think there is a huge change. Granted what an agent sees is different from what editors see, but with the Internet and computers it is so much easier for everyone to write a book. When I started in publishing in 1994 typewriters were still the norm. Computers were new and many within the industry still didn’t one at their desks and certainly few had Internet access or email accounts. Now anyone can throw words on the page and easily find information on who to submit to. So yes, I see a huge amount of material from people who probably should not be considering publication. From an agent’s perspective though I think it can also make our lives a lot easier. We now email all our submissions to editors and can easily update them on anything that’s happening to those submissions.

Continue reading Jessica Faust on BookEnds LLC

Jackie Kashian on Comedy

I recently had the pleasure of email interviewing comic Jackie Kashian. Here’s her official bio before jumping into the actual interview: “Jackie Kashian has a half-hour special on Comedy Central and has appeared on CBS, NBC, and VH1. She has been a national touring comic for over 10 years and has performed at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival, the Bumbershoot Arts Festival in Seattle, Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and has toured Australia for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow.” My thanks to Kashian for her time and to Mary Jo Pehl for helping facilitate the interview. (Photo by Michael Helms)

Tim O’Shea: I noticed in your bio that you did a successful tour of Australia. While clearly Australia is an English-speaking country, their culture/interests/lives are different in some ways than Americans. How much did you have to customize your material for an Australian audience?

Jackie Kashian: When you do other countries there are two things to remember: The audience is full of a people with a long, rich culture that is complex and beautiful. And that every country’s television station buys Cops. So – everyone knows more about the US than you’ll know about their country, but find something local to talk about. Even if they get every reference and joke – if you don’t have ANYTHING to say about their lovely civilization – you’re an ass and they won’t laugh at any of it.

Continue reading Jackie Kashian on Comedy