Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen’s documentary “Raiders!: The Story of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” premiered this week at SXSW. We edited “Raiders!” here at September Club… with our own Barry Poltermann taking the lead.
IndieWire: Raiders! is an exhilarating documentary for anybody who has dreamed big.
SlashFilm: It’s a beautiful, inspiring story told with a ton of excitement and context. Plus, in the end, you realize this isn’t just about making movies. It’s about the struggle and accomplishment of fulfilling your dreams.
Variety: Often poignant, occasionally pathetic, but never short of entertaining, “Raiders!” captures the obsessive hold movies have on young people’s imaginations…
Congratulations to the whole team!
More on the film at its official site.
CNN has acquired “The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers” out of Sundance. The short documentary was directed by Michael Vollmann (our Senior Editor) and produced by Chris James Thompson (“The Jeffrey Dammer Files”, “MECCA: The Floor”)… one of our most prolific directors.
From Filmmaker Magazine.
The documentary will lead off a new CNN initiative – a short-form series. More info at Deadline.
Congratulations to Michael, producer Chris, and the entire 414s team!
UPDATE: You can watch the film on CNN here.
September Club director Chris James Thompson and Head Editor Michael T. Vollmann‘s newest short documentary, “The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers”, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
The film, directed by Vollmann and produced by Thompson, examines the first widely recognized computer hackers, a group of Milwaukee teenagers who broke into dozens of prominent computer systems including the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1983, and inspired the term “hacker.”
Congratulations to Vollmann, Thompson, and the entire team that worked on The 414s!
(Documentary Short, 2014)
We are excited to see that ESPN’s 30 For 30 Shorts won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program. We contributed to the series with Chris James Thompson and Michael Vollmann‘s “MECCA: The Floor”
30 for 30 Shorts was nominated alongside other popular programs “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” “COSMOS: A National Geographic Deeper Dive,” “I Was There: Boston Marathon Bombings,” “Jay Leno’s Garage” and “Park Bench With Steve Buscemi.”
Dan Silver, who oversees the series for ESPN, said this of the series after the win:
We started this series with a very simple, but ambitious goal: “How can we make, distribute, and monetize cinematic quality short-form content that is platform agnostic?” Meaning, these aren’t just pieces that live on the web, but rather, across all of ESPN’s outlets – web, TV, social, etc. So the reason why I’m so ecstatic about this win is that it’s a validation of the hard work and collaboration of many different people, from many departments across our company, essentially creating something from nothing.
Check out some of the series’ other great films at ESPN.
Manny’s brother recently adopted the dog, who has been released from it’s military service. Manny traveled to North Carolina with his brother, his mother, Kellie Marquez, his brothers Anthony and Alexander Marquez — a true family affair.
Shortly after landing in Tulsa, Kellie Marquez put the journey in perspective.
“It was incredible, it really was,” she said. “This has been one of the most enjoyable 20 hours I’ve spent in my life.
In the newest ESPN 30 for 30 short “MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous” filmmaker Chris James Thompson has captured a unique, however unlikely, piece of Milwaukee sports and art history lore. The Mecca Arena, as it was once called, (now the U.S. Cellular Arena) was home to the Milwaukee Bucks (1970 – 88) and the Marquette Warriors (now the Marquette Golden Eagles) basketball teams as well as a venue for other events.
In 1977, the worse-for-wear arena floor was replaced, but it would be no ordinary basketball court because it just so happened that renowned Pop artist Robert Indiana was commissioned to design a new floor – a massive, utilitarian art work. That in itself, along with Indiana’s $27,500 fee, was a point of contention among many as well as a sense of fascination to others. Indiana had created the uber-famous “Love” icon which permeated 1970’s American culture, landing on hats, t-shirts and even a postage stamp. Now he was on to something else.
But until recently, that floor was languishing in a Missouri warehouse waiting to be sold off, until a few determined Milwaukee Bucks fans saved the day. Andy Gorzalski, Greg Koller, (who initiated the idea and sadly passed away) and his son Ben put themselves out on a financial limb to rescue the floor. And for one amazing summer night in 2013, that floor was reassembled to celebrate and relive a bygone era.
Chris Thompson, a venerated filmmaker whose last effort “The Jeffrey Dahmer Files,” (picked up by IFC) chillingly retold the grisly account of Milwaukee’s notorious serial killer, this time, along with a bevy of local filmmakers, portrayed a much more positive slant to the city in documenting this magical effort of recapturing the Arena‘s floor. Chris explained to me this fascinating story of the historic floor and its glorious return to form.
“What happened was Andy Gorzalski, who is a friend of mine and an avid Bucks fan here in Milwaukee…had just put his credit card down to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks basketball court from the old MECCA Arena in the 1970′s in Milwaukee for $20,000…but he didn’t actually have $20,000.”
But that little fact did not stop Andy…
Chris continued: “Even though he’s a hard working guy, he’s not a wealthy person…but he was so passionate about this floor and what it meant to him and having gone to games with his dad when he was a young boy and seeing the court and all his heroes for the Bucks playing on it. He just couldn’t imagine the court being sent away or shipped off to another country or chopped up…he really was passionate that it needed to stay in one piece and it needed to stay in Milwaukee.”
Obviously, that determination paid off and Chris realized as a filmmaker, that it was “impossible not to get on board with him and see where the story went…You know when you hear from a third party that someone bought a court for $20,000 it seems a bit ludicrous, but when you spend a few minutes with Andy it starts to make sense somehow.”
Upon his first meeting with Andy, the Arena’s history was fondly explained to Chris: Robert Indiana painting the beautiful floor, the Bucks winning the championship, Marquette winning a championship, and many great basketball players playing on the floor and other events that were happening in there, and how it was such a beloved venue, a MECCA in many senses of the word for so many people.
Yet before the intervention of Andy, Greg and Ben, it was amazing that some art aficionado didn’t snap it up first. Or was it because sports and art somehow don’t generally mix?
Chris reflected that “Robert Indiana is such a prolific artist, and the project itself was so unique: to paint every square inch of an entire basketball court had never been done before… (it could very well be) the largest pop art painting in the history of the world…There was lots of different opinions on how much it was worth…a single piece of art can be…priceless in some people’s opinions, and it could be completely worthless in other people’s opinions.”
And in reality, what could one actually do with such a massive and cantankerous proposition?
It’s an enormous floor, weighing thousands of pounds and it takes up so much space that there are very few buildings that it could actually be displayed in or even stored in safely.
“That was another part of the story, that more capital-minded art dealers, salvage people and scrap people thought…it could live on as maybe many different floors for different buildings or different rooms or even cut into table tops or even wall mounted pieces if you cut the wood small enough…which to Andy and a lot of Bucks fans just sounds like a nightmare.” Indeed.
As to the logistics of the task at hand, Chris informed me that “The floor belonged to an organization called the Wisconsin Center District which owns those buildings, the Expo Center and the MECCA…They were the ones that were trying to sell it and were the ones indirectly that Andy was purchasing the floor through, via a website called “Planet Reuse,” so once they found it that this is a local Bucks fan that was going to buy the floor and wanted it to stay as all once piece, I think they sort of worked in cooperation, realizing, hey there’s some interest here. It would be great to have a single night where we could display the floor again, and all these Bucks fans can come back and remember what this floor looked like in its original home inside the MECCA. I’m not sure financially what the agreement was, but I think they were all pretty friendly because they realized the significance of this night and how important it was to the city.”
And Chris, aided with a lot of enthusiastic Milwaukee filmmakers, helped capture the events surrounding the pilgrimage of the floor to make sure as much could be preserved of the story as possible. Along the way, such luminaries as Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks) and Doc Rivers (Marquette) weighed in with fond memories of time spent playing on that court.
Being older than Chris, I had to enlighten him that the arena was also home to the hard rock/heavy metal concert culture in the late 70′s and the 80′s. So, a lot of people didn’t know the arena as an exclusive sports arena but as a concert venue. And I related an infamous event to Chris: “It was around 1980, or ’81, and Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult were on tour and this is when Ozzy Osbourne had left Black Sabbath, and Ronnie James Dio was now their lead singer. Well anyway, a lot of fans were just so vengeful that Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t the singer – that in Milwaukee during the second or third song that Black Sabbath played – someone threw a beer bottle and it hit one of the Black Sabbath members.”
“Black Sabbath was taken off the stage and a riot ensued where they tore up the Arena seats, the sound equipment, and everything. That made headlines. That was a huge thing. The mayor I believe banned Black Sabbath from coming back to Milwaukee. Anyway, they ripped up the Arena.” Those were the days.
As for what’s next on the plate for Chris, he informed me that he‘s been “…really interested in learning about the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Also, the rendition program that the U.S. Government was operating in the early part of the 2000′s in trying to combat the war on terror. I’ve been exploring the idea of making a feature film covering some of those topics, and I’ve done some interviews and a lot of research for a few years.” Sounds like it’s back to the heavy stuff again.
As to the future of the MECCA Arena, the naming rights were just resold, so it’s a good guess that the venue will be around for some time to come even though it lives in the much larger shadow of the Bradley Center (which is now home to the Bucks). Ironically, in 2013 a new floor was installed in the Bradley Center to pay homage to the Robert Indiana floor. Not bad.
“MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous” premiered on Grantland.com here.
From Manny Marquez: “This film documents the days leading up to the birth of my second son, Levon. My wife was almost two weeks overdue with the baby. Although anxious in awaiting the birth, I was inspired to watch my wife and oldest son, Gus, just loving each other and enjoying life that week. I built up my camera, and started capturing just one moment per day. I told my wife that I hoped the baby would be born on Friday, that way I’d have enough for a film. Well, Levon didn’t let me down, because on the 5th day he arrived! I consider this a documentary, because the days in the film are the actual days counted down until Levon was born on May 2, 2014 at 11:37am. Thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy. “
This film is for Leigh, Gus, and Levon. I love you, my dear family…you inspire me daily.
“Shouts Out & Goodnight” by Boxing. Hear it on the album, “Dig the Final Time.”
Special thanks to Josh & Seth Kasselman for the music.
And to Yvette Blanchette and Shannon, our midwives, for safe delivery of the baby!
(Music Video, THE EMPERORS OF WYOMING, 2014)
Emperors Of Wyoming boasts a seamless melding of American roots music country-and-western, bluegrass and folk bridging new and old. Cutting edge technology is used to record mainly venerable acoustic instruments. The mix of rootsy styles is spiced with subtle hints of spaghetti western, surf-music, hard rock and pop-rock into a distinctive and original sound.
The Emperors are Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Frank Anderson and Peter Anderson
Directed and Animated by Frank Anderson (The Life of Reilly).
For other music videos and odds and ends, explore the Attic.
We are sad to hear that our friend Michael Ruppert had died. He was 63. Michael was the subject of the documentary, COLLAPSE, which we edited in 2009.
This is Michael’s last broadcast of the Lifeboat Hour on PRN 13 April 2014.
According to Variety:
The jury awarded him for his physically demanding portrayal of a homeless addict.
“I hope that anyone who sees this movie remembers, you never give up on people,” Dastmalchian said
We are very flattered and excited to see that the “The Dissolve” is profiling “American Movie” as their featured movie of the week. If you aren’t familiar with “The Dissolve”, it’s the best film writing out there right now — made up primarily of former film critics from the Onion’s AVClub and owned by Pitchfork.
“When a trespasser on the land needs to be dealt with so we see how the Aswang can create a mucus sack around the victim and save the person for consumption later. This of course is never really explained in the legend. Do these creature eat live people as well as infants? Anyway the story really picks up pace in the second half as Katrina goes from feeling a bit uncomfortable with the group to waking up during a feeding time. The chain reaction from that propels the third act into its final crazy leaps that includes an aswang hanging by its tongue, captivity in the crazy woman’s house, a severed hand, fire, blood, birth and death It really is a great act and although Moses as Peter is a bit too over the top in his delivery it does not spoil the fun. So definitely a recommend from me on Aswang even with its flaws it is a very cool take on vampirism.”
From Horrorphilia… one of the best ASWANG reviews ever (audio only):
“Worth a watch. Pretty decent.”
“With the limited amount of characters, you don’t get all that many death scenes.”
Things get sinister when they arrive at the mansion, which looks like it was designed by Stanley Kubrick. The only inhabitants are the sickly mother, who keeps sucking on oxygen, a strange Filipino maid named Cupid, and an exotic white chicken who roams the premises freely. Oh yeah, there’s also an unseen sister who lives in a cottage out back. Apparently, she’s “a little touched.” At this point, I’d probably call a cab and head back home, especially after seeing a painting of an aswang, a Filipino vampire who drinks the blood of newborns, given prominent place in the study. Fortunately, our heroine sticks around, ensuring our enjoyment of a fucked-up, unusual vampire movie.
Row 3 stumbles upon ASWANG:
Shot like it’s an old 1970s relic, it has a similar feel to many of those slow paced, yet engaging horrors from that time period – until it picks up its pace substantially. A great find.
(Short Documentary, 2013)
A spirit of Malickian wonder permeates this poignant and lyrical tribute to the stories that parents pass onto their children. This is a very personal, poetic documentary.
Directed and edited by Michael Vollmann.
Michael T. Vollman’s Before You won the Cream City Cinema Filmmaker-in-Residence prize. Before You is a beautifully shot, lyrically composed lullaby of sorts which illustrates how the arrival of the filmmaker’s infant daughter was a total game changer.
Michael always likes to say: “When I begin any edit, I have two main goals – to make you cry or to make you pee your pants. Or both if I’m really successful.”
Consider Before You successful.
Congratulations, Michael! Check out the film below:
From The New York Times:
Kumar Pallana, an Indian plate spinner turned Texas yoga instructor turned — in his late 70s and long beyond — sought-after character actor in films by Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg and others, died on Thursday at his home in Oakland, Calif. He was 94.
Manny Marquez is down in Oklahoma shooting what we hope will be the final round of pickups and interviews for his documentary epic, PSYCHOPATH. The rest of the film is based upon footage shot back in 2005 and 2010.
Lots has happened during these nearly ten years, and the edit is coming together nicely.
Time to wrap this one up!
World from Hollywood is that everyone had a great time at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where the Sundance Institute just kicked off it’s new LA based film festival, NEXT WEEKEND — with “American Movie.” Press materials said it is “a film that exemplifies what NEXT Weekend is all about: an undying passion to make films against all odds and with limited resources”.
As a special bonus, they screened Coven, the short film whose production is chronicled in the documentary. And of course, Mark was there to do an amazing Q&A.
The trailer for the new Cosmic Psychos documentary BLOKES YOU CAN TRUST just launched. We were happy to see that our ancient music video for DEAD ROO is featured in the film (and trailer).
Some say that Kurt Cobain’s favorite band was the Cosmic Psychos (he was often spotted wearing one of their tour shirts). Butch Vig produced this one and we shot it one drunken day. The guys from Mudhoney were hanging out on set. A fun, amazing day making an awesomely stupid video for an awesomely stupid song. 1991.
From the description of the film:
For 30 years, the Cosmic Psychos have blazed a trail of empty beer cans and busted ear drums around the globe with their quintessential Australian drawl and pounding punk rock songs. With the founding member Ross Knight finding inspiration from the Bulldozer he drove on the family farm in country Victoria, the band forged a unique sound and image that resonated with punk rock fans everywhere. Iconic label Sup Pop! released their second album when the band fell into the ‘Seattle’ scene of the late 80’s amidst the likes of Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and The Melvins. Never quite finding the mainstream success of their grunge counterparts, the band managed to tour heavily in the USA and Europe thanks to a large and devoted fan base. The Cosmic Psychos were notorious for their ability to drink pubs dry, earning them a reputation that resonated around as a warning – “Never drink with the ‘Psychos”. But it wasn’t all shits and giggles. A heavy falling out with drummer and founding member Bill Walsh resulted in a line-up change and a bitter dedication on their new album with the song ‘Kill Bill’. They’ve been ripped off by several record labels, and dealt with the tragedy of the passing of guitarist Robbie Watts in 2006. But the band continues through all its adversity to remain strong to this day with Dean Muller on drums and John ‘Mad Macca’ McKeering from the Onya’s taking care of the guitar duties. COSMIC PSYCHOS : BLOKES YOU CAN TRUST follows the bands colorful history, as well as the enigmatic and entertaining founding member Ross Knight, to get behind the man who rides the bulldozer. Farmer, Father, Weightlifter, and frontman. His story alone, and told from his perspective is a unique portrait of an unlikely and revered rock and roll bloke.