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The Horn Blows at Midnight, Age of Consent, The Big Carnival

Wednesday, Sep 15 1999
The Horn Blows at Midnight
"It blows my mind that nobody's ever done a film about Miles Davis," says Laura Plotkin. So the Oakland filmmaker with the cojones grandes is planning an ambitious two-hour documentary about the man and his music. "He was a maverick," she says, "controversial and arrogant, very well-educated, and an addictive, violent person. I want to make a realistic, raw portrait showing the man the way he was."

Plotkin parlayed Red Rain, her riveting portrait of lesbian boxer Gina "Boom Boom" Guidi, into several key contacts in L.A. and New York. Though the Davis documentary is still in the early stages of development, she's corralled previously unreleased music and unseen footage, and enlisted Davis biographer Quincy Troupe as her main consultant. "He brings the family, the record producers, and the musicians" -- that is, credibility and access. Plotkin has investors interested and HBO intrigued, but absolutely nothing in writing. "I know I can get fucked by verbal agreements," she admits.

So why not wait awhile to talk publicly about the project? A combination of faith ("Something's carrying me on this -- I'm not exactly sure what") and timing (Jazz, Ken Burns' mammoth PBS series, sweeps in next year on a tsunami of hype that could capsize Plotkin's boat). "If I do this film and I do it right, it's going to be a huge film," Plotkin affirms. Clint Eastwood, are you listening?

Age of Consent
Is the bad boy of S.F. filmmaking, Jon Moritsugu, courting respectability? He's currently teaching his first course at S.F. State and begins a six-week UC Extension class, "No-Budget Filmmaking Workshop," later this month. "All the fame whores want to hit the jackpot and make it rich and, in our society, filmmaking is one of the routes," reflects Moritsugu. But most wannabes imagine an unrealistically smooth yellow brick road to success because, he claims, film schools fail to stress festival strategies, self-distribution, or how to market a video. "When you finish a film, that's when you start working," Moritsugu declares.

But rather than douse dreamers with tales of harsh reality, his goal is to demystify the process. "Since filmmaking is a technical art, it's easy to get lost and confused. I dispel the myths and cut through the BS and talk about how easy filmmaking is if you get to the basics." The DIY iconoclast behind Terminal U.S.A. and Mod Fuck Explosion muses, "If there's anything I can do, it's inspire people. If you're smart enough or thoughtful enough, you can do a film and it doesn't have to be an impossible task."

The Big Carnival
Remember that animated Frankenstein that Universal and ILM began a year ago? The powers that be decided they hated the story line -- after completing some 25 minutes' worth of computer-generated scenes and spending a few mil. Out with the old writers, in with the new, and everybody take a load off until the new script's finished, OK? ... A company called Renegade Pictures will release a collector's edition of Coppola's The Cotton Club -- with 30 minutes of additional footage -- on home video and DVD in November. I don't remember asking for it; did you? ... We're out of time, but tune in next week for the complete lowdown on the really big news out of KQED -- the locally produced, weekly half-hour magazine-style film show debuting in November.

About The Author

Michael Fox


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