Warm Clothes – A social experiment movie

by Jimmy on February 6, 2011

Premieres in May 2011.

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A man and his statue.  Coming in February.

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On December 22, 2010, I shot the first scene for my Bridgetower movie at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.  As it so happened, the first scene would be the most difficult.  At least, I hope.  The first scene was the all-important concert where Beethoven and Bridgetower perform their memorable  “Mullato Sonata composed for the mulatto Bridgetower, big wild mulatto composer,” whose title was later changed to something totally different after the musicians’ brief feud.

Director Jimmy Nguyen with his actors, who rarely have time to study their scripts because it was sent to them the day of the shoot.

Needless to say, the scene needed to be special.  The chapel room had to be decorated to be intimate and quirky.  The room had to be filled with distinguished extras.  The actors had to deliver their lines with great showmanship. Naturally, the music would take care of itself with such great musicians casted as the actors.  As always, all the actors, extras, set decorators, and video camera/sound operators were volunteers and my budget to decorate the concert hall was an arbitrary, but whopping $50.  And as always, I am eternally grateful to everyone that helped me out with this movie shoot.  David, Lenah, Dana, Lalita, Mrs. Johnson, Raycurt, Kevin, Matt, Alicia, Adam, and all the extras, thank you.

My friend Dana doubled as set designer, extra, and understudy just in case the main actress didn't show up. It takes an entire village to raise a movie!

After all was said and done, it was a stressful, but instructional event at least from a moviemaking standpoint.  I learned a big lesson.  The lesson is always, always storyboard.  Apparently, Ang Lee hardly storyboards any of the scenes in his movies not even for highly choreographed movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, he is a master.  I am not.   [click to continue…]

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Happy New Year from Jimbob Movies

by Jimmy on December 31, 2010

2010 was a good year for Jimbob Movies.  We made movies.  We made music.  We made people laugh, wonder, and turn away in disgust – numerous times!  In 2010, we went through 66 mini-dv tapes.  At 60 minutes per tape that equals about 66 hours of shooting plus many more hours of footage captured on my hard drive video camera.  In the past year and half, we made 24 movies and videos.  Naturally, we couldn’t have done it without all the great volunteers, unpaid actors and actresses, and musicians who gave their time and energy to make 100% authentic movies.  The last shout out is to the people who keep watching these movies and who keep critiquing my work and who keep encouraging me to produce more.  2011 is going to be even greater.

I wanted to write this blog post so that I could look back and see all that we’ve accomplished in the past 18 months and to keep my overactive thyroid a little less active.  Sometimes I can’t sleep because I feel like there is something I should be doing or learning about movie-making.  I should be writing more.  I should be working harder.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and worry that I’ll never make another movie again. What if I don’t have any more ideas.  Well, I decided to make a list of the 24 movies and videos that I made in the past 18 months so that I could rest a little bit easier at night knowing that I should be happy with what I’ve done thus far.

In alphabetical order:

  1. A Christmas Encounter (short movie) – 4 min. 20 sec.
  2. Busking D.C. documentary trailer (trailer) – 10 min. 04 sec.
  3. Cherry Blossom Serenade with Raycurt Johnson (music video) – 3 min. 42 sec.
  4. Ending Childhood Hunger (short video) – 4 min. 15 sec.
  5. Fighting Obesity (short video) – 5 min. 53 sec.
  6. FNS Got Talent (music video) – 10 min. 51 sec.
  7. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – Goals and Benefits (short video) – 4 min. 47 sec.
  8. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – Outreach (short video) – 3 min. 27 sec.
  9. Island Dog Robber (short movie) – 17 min. 23 sec.
  10. Lawrence and Raquel Wedding (wedding video) – 35 min. 26 sec.
  11. Log Warriors (feature length movie) – 41 min. 42 sec.
  12. Log Warriors trailer (trailer) – 3 min. 31 sec.
  13. Morning Milk (short movie) – 3 min. 55 sec.
  14. Olfactory Thriller (short movie) – 14 min. 51 sec.
  15. My First Day at Work (short movie) – 7 min. 26 sec.
  16. Play 60 with First Lady Michelle Obama (short video) – 3 min. 08 sec.
  17. Ron Vogel – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (retirement video/documentary) – 48 min. 09 sec.
  18. Set It Off (dance video) – 2 min. 25 sec.
  19. St. Tammany – HealthierUS School Challenge (short video) – 4 min. 44 sec.
  20. Steadycam Tutorial (instructional video) – 8 min. 20 sec.
  21. Stephen King Freestyles (music video) – 5 min. 09 sec.
  22. Taste of Culture (documentary) – 30 min. 37 sec.
  23. Zaza Slider (short video) – 3 min. 09 sec.
  24. What Happens Behind Closed Doors at FNS (7 video acts) – 35 min. 32 sec.

So I didn’t quite do 12 movies for every month in 2010, but I was very busy nonetheless.  See you in 2011 for some new movies and videos.  Let’s push the envelope…over a cliff…then base jump off of the clip, find the envelope at the bottom of the canyon, and then push it some more.

Director Jimmy Nguyen and star Andrew Lind team up to bring you the most thrilling Israeli Spy Movie ever in 2011. Picture from Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel

Julia Harris at the Bahai Gardens in Israel

Julia Harris gives a power-packed performance in the most thrilling Israeli spy movie of 2011. After this movie, people will be wondering, "Angelina Jolie, who?"

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Sorry I have not posted anything here for the last 3 months.  I have been working on several projects lately, but have not committed myself to the final crazed thrust of energy that is necessary to complete any movie.  Here is a list of upcoming movies you should expect in the next 1-3 months:

– A silent spy movie set in Israel.  When I went on a 2-week vacation to Israel at the end of September this year, I was able to devote 2.5 days to shooting a movie.  The cast is made up my wife Lenah and my friends, who are in medical school in Israel, Andrew and Julia.  We were able to shoot a lot of scenes in some very beautiful locations, which only Israel can offer.  There were scenes with the Mediterranean Sea, the Bahai Gardens of Haifa, castles in Bet Lehem, and a little falafel stand in the cat-filled city of Ber Sheva.  This movie has some potential to be quite entertaining.  The only problem is one of my DV tapes has seemed to malfunction and I cannot capture the footage to my computer.  I can see that it is there when I fast forward or rewind the footage, but when I hit play it refuses to do so.  Any video techies out there have any suggestions?

– Bridgetower.  A story about a black violinist named George Bridgetower, who impressed Beethoven so much with his playing that Beethoven wrote a sonata specifically for Bridgetower.  However, the two had a falling out, whose reasons were never quite confirmed.  Naturally, this movie will provide a new interpretation of the feud.  However, the movie will also explore Bridgetower’s childhood and life up until his notorious relationship with Beethoven.

We will be shooting the first scenes of Bridgetower on December 22, 2010 (Wednesday) and we will need extras.  The shoot will take place in a chapel and capture Bridgetower and Beethoven performing their sonata together.  More information to come.

Location of scene where Bridgetower and Beethoven will perform their sonata. We need extras to play the concert audience members so stay tuned if you want to be a part of the movie and at the same time watch a great concert.

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Zaza Slider Footage

by Jimmy on September 16, 2010

The Zaza Slider is a great tool that you can use to add steady sliding, dolly shots to any movie or video.  Used intelligently and correctly, it adds some dynamism to shots which otherwise could be static and stale.

Here is some test footage that I took using my Zaza Slider, which I built using the instructions shared at www.zazaslider.com.  When I say built, all I really did was tap some holes through an aluminum block and rail.  This merely required ordering two parts (the block and rail) from igus, a company that manufactures machine parts, and buying a few items from Home Depot.  Then I tapped away, which I must say does require some muscle and torque to produce enough threads in the aluminum parts for the required bolts to screw in to.  But in the end I tapped successfully, enough to make Savion Glover proud.

However, I believe now you can buy all the parts of the slider pre-tapped by igus for an extra cost of $15 or so.  If you don’t have a tap handle, taps, or necessary drill bits, this will actually save you money as all the aforementioned items might cost you $30-45 total at your local hardware store.

I am happy with my finished Zaza Slider and I use it usually in conjunction with my Velbon 7000 tripod and sometimes with a rotatable ball head for diagonal or odd angled slider shots.  The only drawback of the slider is it is 39 inches long and will not fit in an ordinary suitcase or duffle bag, which makes it hard to travel with if you’re flying.  I had to learn this the hard way as I was preparing to fly to New Orleans to cover First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to a local elementary school and appearance at a Play 60 event before the New Orleans Saints played the Minnesota Vikings.  Yes, I roll big time.  Actually, I spent most of my time at these events being herded around with the rest of the press pool, while being subjected to the icey stares of Secret Service agents.  I really felt like cattle the way they roped us off and told us where to go and video.  I wanted to scream, “I am the director of Log Warriors, treat me with some more respect.”  Anyways, that should be a future story.  The point is I was not able to take my Zaza Slider with me to New Orleans because I could not find a 39 inch or larger suitcase or dufflebag that could accommodate its odd length.  The night before my trip I was at Walmart at 12:00 am with a measuring tape trying to see if I could fit my Zaza Slider into anything.  That is how much I love my slider shots!

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When I first started to get interested in making movies, I often heard from “people in the know” that usually when writing a script, one page equals one minute of movie time.  It didn’t take me long to realize that this was a false dictum, at least in my case.  Personally, when I write a script, I try to leave room for improvisation and I like to include montages, long establishing shots, serene moments, tense moments, and contemplative moments that may take minutes on screen even though they appear as only one descriptive sentence on a page.

I recently watched Down by Law, a wonderful movie directed by legendary independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and had a chance to browse the director’s commentary.  One of the commentary segments touched upon the movie’s short script.  Jarmusch said he had a hard time procuring funding for the movie because many producers felt that the script was too short and would not be able to produce a feature length movie and therefore, would not be as profitable.  However, the movie actually turned out to be 107 minutes long with a script of under 50 pages.  Jarmusch concluded his story with an example that went something like this:

You could have a line in a script that says, “Then the American Revolution starts and the killings begin.”  However, that line might take up 10 minutes of your movie.

For my movie, Log Warriors, I wrote a script that was 6 pages long.  I was hoping to produce a movie that was under 20 minutes in order to enter it into the BET Lens on Talent movie contest.  However, to my genuine horror and delight, the movie turned out to be 42 minutes long.

Here is the script for Log Warriors, which was originally going to be called Best Friends Reunited.  Take a look at the script and you can see how a 6 page script can produce a feature length movie.  The lesson to take away is that you have to come up with your own “written page to movie minutes” conversion system to fit your writing and directing style.  For me, it’s probably  1 script page = 4 minutes of movie time.

Also, if you want to make independent movies, you should watch Down by Law and listen to Jim Jarmusch’s commentary.  However, I wouldn’t recommend watching Jarmusch’s other highly acclaimed movie, Ghost Dog – The Way of the Samurai.

Log Warriors Script

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Log Warrior Workout Infomercial

by Jimmy on August 10, 2010

YouTube Preview Image

The new Log Warrior Workout fitness program was created by the original Log Warrior, Jimmy Loggins.  With the Log Warrior Workout, Loggins has created a revolutionary fitness program that will transform your mind, body, and core all while using the natural power of the log. In this exciting new infomercial, you will learn about three new trailblazing fitness programs: the Log Warrior Workout, Introduction to Loga, and the  Log-Jitsu Self Defense Program. The three videos come standard in your Log Warrior Workout DVD package.  Rediscover your spirit core. It’s the Log!

run time: 6 minutes, 18 seconds
To order the Log Warrior Workout DVD Package, call 1-800-LOG-WARRIOR

Also, please watch the award-winning documentary about Jimmy Loggins, the founder of the Log Warrior Workout here.
Log Warriors Documentary directed by Jimmy Nguyen

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“Gentleman Bear and Son” Mural Painting

by Jimmy on August 4, 2010

This mural appears in my first feature length movie, Log Warriors.  I first wrote the script for Log Warriors specifically with a bear mural included.  Then I painted the mural.  It took me one week and over 30 hours to finish the mural, which I call, “Gentleman Bear and Son.”  The first night of painting the mural, I got so into it I stayed up the entire night.  I ask myself, “Why all this work for something that appears in the movie for less than 15 seconds?”  I answer, “Beauty is fleeting.”  Actually, the mural is still on my living room wall and maybe when I sell my house, I can add an extra couple of bucks onto the price of the house.

Bear Mural in Living Room

Bear in top hat mural painting

Gentleman Bear bids adieu or hello?

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