Hans Luttmann Writes

Three more days, Three fantastic films

As we close out our inaugural 2014 NuHo Online Film Festival, we finish strongly and break the tape with three fantastic films:

image

The American slice of life indie "Lost on Purpose" directed by Ian and Eshom Nelms (winners of our Director as Independent Award for Artistry) starring Jane Kaczmarek, James Lafferty, Aaron Hill, C Thomas Howell, Dale Dickey, Jeremy Ratchford and Octavia Spencer.

image

The Canadian generational feature, "Empire of Dirt" directed by Peter Stebbings starring Cara Gee and Jennifer Podemski and winner of the Best Canadian Feature Film Citation for Performance at the Toronto International Film Festival.

image

And Closing Night, we proudly present Craig Brewer’s debut film, "The Poor & Hungry".  Craig has made this film FREE to all his fans.  As Craig says on his website

"This movie is special to me. It’s my baby, my favorite.
It launched my career and taught me how to be a filmmaker. But for years no one has been able to see it or own it.
Now you can!

- Craig

Yes, please spread the word and thank you for experiencing the future of film festivals. 

Hans Richter _ Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk, 1927)

Experimental Film Day at NuHo Online Film Festival.  Catch Frames and Sodium Party today. 

Crossing the River of Racism

image

According to legend, Vittorio De Sica cast both the lead actors in his neorealist classic The Bicycle Thief specifically based on their walks.  De Sica knew the impact that an actor’s body language could have on an audience.  After all, Charlie Chaplin was his favorite filmmaker. When we watch De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, our hearts droop as we see a desperate father and his son pad the streets in a downpour and souls crack as the film’s end when we see them shamble toward their fate amid a damning crowd and disappear forever.  Truly, the walk of shame.  

These thoughts came to mind when I watched Emilie McDonald’s vivid and striking short film, Crossing the River at the NuHo Online Film Festival.  From the moment I saw Grant (Tyler Williams), the hero of the film, ambulate across the screen, I knew I was in for something different and was instantly catapulted into his world.  Tyler Williams is remarkable in this role from start to finish.  In fact, his performance in this short film is the finest acting I have seen during the whole run of this festival.  Emilie McDonald who not only wrote and produced but also directed this film, has a magical touch with her actors.  Bruce Smolanoff plays Ted with the poxy of a homegrown terrorist whose emotions are shooting out of his eyeballs.  It’s a harrowing bit of acting that jolts us into the nightmare of racism and the nurturing of hatred.  Matt Sarno’s editing on the film is fine indeed.  It is storyteller sharp and gives way to a shot at the film’s end that literally took by breath away as he cuts to the angelic Michaela (Desiree Ross).   

image
For much of this fourteen minute film, I felt so much sorrow and shame. I was torn apart again and again by the divides of black and white and the anguish of racism.  But then the light came on in a scene without any words or dialogue, just behavior and a walk toward hope.  And by the film’s end I understood what Emilie McDonald had been magnificently constructing all along: a film that could help us cross the river to the other side of hate.

Just log in and you can watch this film now at the NuHo Online Film Festival.

Hans Luttmann

Twitter: @HansLuttmann

Oversimplification, Kurosawa, and How I fell in love, fell in love, fell in love in my 20’s

image

“What is Cinema? The answer to this question is no easy matter.  Long ago the Japanese novelist Shiga Naoya presented an essay written by his grandchild as one of the most remarkable prose pieces of his time.  He had it published in a literary magazine.  It was entitled “My Dog” and ran as follows: “My dog resembles a bear; he also resembles a badger; he also resembles a fox…”  It proceeded to enumerate the dog’s special characteristics, comparing each one to yet another animal, developing into a full list of the animal kingdom.  However, the essay closed with, “But since he’s a dog, he most resembles a dog.”

I remember busting out laughing when I read this essay, but it makes a serious point.  Cinema resembles so many other arts.  If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements. But cinema is, in the final analysis, cinema.”  - Akira Kurosawa, Something like an Autobiography

Kurosawa has been in my heart from the start.  I saw his film “Ran” at the Michigan Theater in the winter of ‘86 and that experience catapulted me on to this spiritual path that I continue to trudge and love and battle today.  It’s funny that I remember that it was in the winter and that it was cold.  Maybe February.  Maybe it’s sunny where you are today.  Maybe it’s cold.  It’s been like that for a while, hasn’t it?  Sunny or cold.  Well, regardless of the temperature where you are, there is something beating in your chest right now and it is the miracle (in all of its scope and wonder) of love.  Even if your mind is telling you that it is not.

image
Terence Nance has made a film for you and I believe it has the power to change you forever.  It is called “An Oversimplification of her Beauty” and it is a love story.  And love can change you.  The medium through which Mr. Nance has expressed his tale of love is cinema.  And in so many ways his film is as close to pure cinema as we ever get nowadays.  It has all the elements of music, poetry, theater, philosophy and architecture but at the end of the reel - it is cinema.  And since we are talking about what we talk about when we watch a film about love it can only be described as irrational, obsessive, uncomfortable, ecstatic, romantic, confrontational, youthful, majestic and pure.  Cinema.

“An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” will make you want to get out of your head and dance.  In many ways, this film is like a long playing vinyl record of love songs.  There is the opening subway ride overture into the world of the story.  There is the hip hop backstory number that clues us in, the syncopated visual movement of the “Musical Chairs in the Movies” sequence dovetailed with Namik’s “Ode to Glances” in spoken word.  On side two there is the brilliant splashy montage to past loves that is reminiscent of Fellini’s “Women I Never Knew How to Love” scene in “8 1/2”.  And, of course, there is the Love Language - Stop Motion - Dance Break.  You have to have a dance break, don’ you.  If you have not understood any of this - by all means experience the film for yourself.  

Terence Nance’s film is a meditation on love - a brutally honest and intimate portrait of love from the male point of view.  And as a man and as a boy, I relate to it one thousand, thousand percent because this is how I feel when I am in love and this is how I fell in love and fall in love to this day and all of my days.  Mr. Nance has done me a service with this magnificent film because he has opened my heart and allowed me to get honest.  He has inspired me to talk about love.  And when I get this close to that blue part of the flame and I can throw myself onto it and unite myself with it and become the flame then I have learned what I wanted to know and I can begin to understand myself in love.  

image

Hans Luttmann

Twitter:  @HansLuttmann

Stephen Dillane at the NuHo Film Festival.

You’ve seen him as Stannis on “Game of Thrones”.  I had the incredible pleasure of seeing Stephen Dillane in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing”.  The play was fantastic and Mr. Dillane was incredible.   See him this Saturday in the sweet and funny "Papdopoulos & Sons" streaming on the NuHo Channel.  It’s the independent film festival right in your home.  Do it.

image

Hans Luttmann

Twitter: @HansLuttmann

The Audience is Streaming - but who is the Audience?

Emily Best just made me swallow my gum and she doesn’t even know it.  (Maybe she does - she’s wicked smart).  If you don’t know Emily, she is the Founder and CEO of Seed & Spark and a great friend to filmmakers.  Team NuHo had the great pleasure of meeting her when she spoke on our NuHo Distribution Panel at the JumpCut Cafe in Studio City.

The panel discussion was lively and included Jason Brubaker from Filmmakingstuff.com, Adam Mosam, CEO of Pivotshare and Jerome Courshon (love that guy!)  As the prickly discussion heated up,  Emily declared that filmmakers needed to “know their audience”.  Now as writers and filmmakers ourselves, Team NuHo has heard that old axiom a thousand times.  But when Emily expressed that singular truth at that singular moment, we all seemed to hear it as if for the very first time.  She went on to challenge us to go beyond that general demographic B.S.  (18 to 34 year old woman in middle America) to something much more concrete and much more specific.  “Where do they eat?  Where do they hang out?  Where are they now?  What are they watching on Netflix tonight?”

I swallowed my gum.  As the Director of Programming for the film festival, I had been chasing films and filmmakers for months and now Emily was asking me to know my audience.   Holy crap.  Gulp.  Audience:  Who are you?  Where are you?  What are you watching tonight?  
image


So I did what I have been taught to do:  I asked for help, I meditated, and I listened.  I spoke with my brother Otto Luttmann, a skilled media and entertainment attorney in D.C., who has been my consigliere for quite sometime.  Together, we mulled over this question of audience and Otto introduced me to the dynamic mind of Michael J. Saylor, the young CEO of MicroStrategy.  When Otto started talking to me about Saylor’s take on software, something opened up for me.  Saylor writes about the movement of software from solid to liquid to vapor.  On your desktop, it’s solid – you have to go to the stationary desk.  With your laptop, software is liquid - you go to it on what Michael calls the “Wi-Fi waterway”.  Finally, with a mobile phone or tablet, that software transforms into vapor and you, my friend, can use it anywhere.  

Okay - so the desktop is a ball and chain- the laptop is a canoe, and our phones and our tablets are vapor - in the clouds - everywhere!  At Team NuHo, we suddenly realized that all we had to do was look up in the clouds and we had found our audience.  Because we are streaming everywhere!  No four walls for us. 

So where is that audience?  And what are they doing?  And most importantly, for us, what are they watching tonight?  

Our Audience is here:

image

Hollywood is our audience.  They want to see if our kooky idea works.  And some of them - to be honest -  want us to fail.  And what is our response to that?  More humility and more swagger.  We’re blessed to be where we are.  And we know it.  

Our Audience is here:

image


Where are these guys?  These Filmmakers? The Jumpcut Cafe in Studio City?  Coffee shops across America?  Filmmaker websites?   Fangoria?  Twitter?   Yes.  All of the above and we are out everyday finding these guys and handselling our concept to them.  There are some amazing innovative souls in this lot.  There are guys like Ian and Eshom Nelms who’s word is gold and who dream big and help us to dream ourselves.  Sadly, there are a lot of these guys who have made films and are too afraid of their Sales Agents and their Distribution dealers to fully experience the freedom found in the clouds.  I don’t begrudge them at all.  I have spoken with plenty of them.  I like them.  They are beautiful souls clutching the shores of an old, dead model that doesn’t benefit them or their careers but we’ll all keep swimming forward and see where the waters take us.

Our Audience is here:

image


The Tech World, San Francisco, Silicon Valley - these guys may not even necessarily give a hoot about the art of films or filmmakers but they are now gobbling up our All Access Pass just to see if what we are doing works.


Lastly, and most importantly - our Audience is You.  You - the movie fan.   The one who hangs out for the double feature, cries by yourself on the couch or in that out-of-the-way movie house because it feels so damn good.  We’re the ones whose heart skips when the hero prevails.  We’re the ones who want the romance.  We are the ones whose best friend is a movie fan too.  We love movies.  It’s that simple and that beautiful and that pure. So let’s keep moving and transforming from solid to liquid to vapor and if you’re a movie fan, like we are at Team NuHo, then stand up and be counted in the clouds.  I know where you are.  I know what you’re doing.  And I know what you’re watching tonight.

Oh yeah, and thanks, Emily.

Hans Luttmann

Director of Programming, NuHo

Twitter:  @HansLuttmann

We Started a Film Festival

We didn’t buy a zoo, we did something even more cuckoo: we started a film festival.  A first-of-its-kind online film festival with artists, business-types, distributors and a Canadian woman in a suit who told us we didn’t have a chance in hell.  But guess what?  We just got Spike Lee to be our Keynote Speaker!  Thanks, Mr. Lee. 

image

At our first business meeting, I was asked what I brought to the table: I blurted out “service”.  I was guessing.  I didn’t have a clue. In the end I brought my heart and a willingness to learn.  And after hours and months and weeks of work I now see that I really brought my inner DJ because we put together a slate of films - a  mixed tape of movies if you will -  that will make you dance and sing and laugh out loud.  Indie films that you can watch on your iPad and say “I want to write movies” - “I want to act in movies” - “I want to direct a film” - the kind of movies that inspired us to think those crazy thoughts ourselves all those years ago.  At the end of the day ours is a clammy tale of start-up bravado that turned into us thinking that a guy with two turntables and a microphone had everything in the world that you could ever need:  he had creativity at his fingertips.  Well, now you have a complete film festival at your fingertips.  When I see you next just let me know you’re on Team NuHo and I’ll have love in my heart for you and maybe we can dance. 

Hans Luttmann

Twitter @HansLuttmann

The Business of Acting: Why we do what we do.

He was a dude on a train in a trench coat eating a green apple.  He was standing near the doors and it took a double take but I recognized him as Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  We were all underground on the red line heading in a hundred directions - some of us to law offices, some of us to restaurant gigs, some of us to acting class.  I knew where Phillip was headed because I’d seen the posters all around town.  He was directing a small play - “Jesus hopped the A train” by Stephen Adly Guirgis and they were in rehearsals and soon to open.  

image


I couldn’t believe he wasn’t out on the coast soaking up rays and living the Hollywood life.  He was an established actor on the big screen so why was he here on the island directing small plays?  For chrissakes, I had just seen him in Joel Schumacher’s “Flawless” with Robert DeNiro and it’s still one of my favorite performances of his.  He was lovely and vulnerable and well, flawless.  I wanted what he had.  But I was mistaken about what exactly that was.  He got off the train and I wondered about this “Business of Acting”.  I knew I wanted the big time and the recognition and to act with DeNiro and be directed by Schumacher in Hollywood and when all of that happened  - you suckers, wouldn’t see me around here for a long time.  I got off the train and scampered up the steps and headed over to Carnegie Hall where I was studying with the late, great Fred Kareman.  
   
That day in class Freddy let me know that “Art is fleeting, Kiddo.”  That’s what he tells me. We’re backstage in Studio 808 - that legendary actor’s workshop in the southwest corner of Carnegie Hall and about as close to heaven as ever I got in the Big Apple.  We were up on the stage and doing our scene work but I am choking and falling apart.  I’m working on a scene from Odett’s “Country Girl” - playing Bernie Dodd, a hot shot young theater director, a sort of Elia Kazan character but I am nowhere near it.  I am going up on my lines.  I am all up in my head, falling down face first.  Freddie takes me backstage.  He chomps on a plastic straw and says, “Sit down, Kid. Sit down.” I sit.  I’m drenched in sweat - my mind racing - sweltering in the wool suit that is my costume. “Art is fleeting, Kiddo. Do you know that?”  I have no idea what he is talking about.  “I’m fucking choking, Freddy,” I say to him.  Freddy reaches over and grabs an orange out of a bowl and thrusts it in front of me. “Listen to me. You’ve already done the work, Kiddo. Yes?  Now it’s time to let it go.  Now you eat the fruit and you throw away the fucking rind, Capeesh?”

We start the scene anew.  At or around the third or fourth line, I finally find myself in a moment. And then I find another moment and then another and then another.  Midway through, I’m finding my confidence.  I’m listening.  I’m leaving myself alone. I’m out of my head.  I’m living truthfully for the first time all day.  At scene’s end, the actress playing “Mrs. Dodd” slaps me across the kisser.  I feel the sting and ankle for the door and make my exit.  The scene ends. When I re-enter the Studio, the air is different.  The room is transformed somehow and so am I.  I see Freddy eating the orange and as he tosses away the rind he eyeballs me and says, “It’s fleeting, Kiddo.”  Then he wipes his hands, picks up the straw, and calls out for the next scene.

Art is fleeting and so is life.  Years have gone by now.  Years of suffering with a God sized hole in my soul that no acting role could have ever filled, no Hollywood paycheck could ever have ever paid off, no worldwide recognition that could have ever delivered me from.  And now I look back on that train ride below the island of Manhattan.  And I see Phillip there heading off to direct a play.  And I now get a glimpse of understanding what exactly he was doing in that moment.  This morning the sad news literally took my breath away.  I gasped out loud in the Atlanta airport when I saw the news.  Oh boy.  I sat down and I cried.   I couldn’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.  It’s all fleeting I suppose but sometimes you find a little bit of the eternal in a moment like this.  Rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman.

image

Hans Luttmann

Twitter: @HansLuttmann