Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday gallery

With zero rhyme or reason:

And this one is specially dedicated to my friend Matt:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

YouTube Parade

I just wrapped a short called "The Magic Finger," directed by JR Burningham and produced by Tess Ortbals (who apparently doesn't have her own website, and therefore doesn't exist), and it was a blast. There was a live duck, for example, who was very well-behaved. Also, JR and Tess are phenomenally good people, and everybody else involved was extra fab, so it was easily one of the best shoots I've had in a while. Hooray for heartwarming Hollywood experiences! Better than chicken soup for the soul, except for having to wake up at 4:30am on a couple of the shoot days. That part is more like moldy, sour grapes for the soul. Ick.

Anyway, below is an assortment of various YouTubery that I've been enjoying lately, take a gander and see how loopy I am.

Howard Jones, "The Prisoner" This is an extremely rare view of a camera being professionally wielded by a woman -- only imagine! The music video plays with some interesting concepts (photography as a form of 'capturing' somebody, manipulation of a person's image signifying a shift in power between the manipulator and manipulated, blah blah hermeneutic crap blah blah), plus it has Howard Jones being all 80's-style soulful, so I love this thing. I don't get the bride-with-a-syringe imagery in the middle (Bridezilla will sedate you, monkey boy?), plus there are so many ripoffs (er, homages) of classic photos that it really makes one's head spin, so consider yourself warned.

Channel 4 'Get set for digital' MAX HEADROOM LIVES! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! I would totally smooch Max Headroom. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Granted, I might be reduced to licking a TV monitor, but I still say it would be worth it. Yowza.

Here Comes Another Bubble - The Richter Scales Fun rant in song format about Internet bubbles, sung to the tune of "We Didn't Start the Fire." Surprisingly entertaining, at least for me, and I think we've already established that I am very, very easily entertained; for goodness' sake, I'm now licking TV screens. Sigh.

Dylan Moran - Monster He completely switches gears midway, but all gears are clearly labeled 'Awesome.' I have never seen such a terrifically thorough portrait of a stereotypical French starving artist in my life.

Ze Frank - "Privacy" Ze is not to everybody's taste, but I still think he's neato. He makes going to hell in a handbag sound good, or at least entertaining.

"very creepy, disturbing children's cartoon, banned from TV" This was brought to my attention by my friend Jason, and boy howdy is this video riveting. RIVETING. What can I say? I'm a sucker for brilliant claymation.

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

AND the entire film clip list for "100 Movies," above
This is such a great idea, I'm kicking myself for not having thought of it first.

Zero Gravity Water Bubble Hypnotic.

"Man Cold" from Man Stroke Woman Why ARE guys such weenies when they're ill? Most interesting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm a MAD non-conformist

This is in reply to Rory's words in A Neopoleon Creation Story - Day Six - #2: Rallying the Troops. I was actually just going to post this in the comments section at, but this quickly grew into a ginormous, informative thing that I now feel deserves a proper post on my own blog. So, here goes:

"back when I started this site in 2003, women still didn't know about the internet."

Er, I had a webpage by 1996, mainly because I was really that talented at avoiding organic chemistry homework. I've since forgotten everything about organic chemistry, with the possible exception of cyclohexane (nothing special about it, I just remember the concept of cyclohexane), but I still do webby-type things.

"Now they're here with the rest of us, clogging up the web with their recipe swapping and knitting advice."

I don't cook often if I can help it, and I still have no idea how to knit. There is another Astrid Phillips who has commented up a storm on various knitting forums online, but she is merely using my name for maliciously inane purposes.

"To show my gratitude, I'm going to thank one (female) . . . . Astrid and I've been writing back and forth for quite a while now, and I've probably been linking to her more than is appropriate."

True. But, hey, my website's views quadruple every time you link to me, plus I enjoy feeling like a member of somebody's coterie -- but only if that coterie involves geeks with great cheekbones and murderous sandwiches.

"Anyway, I said I was going to flirt, so here goes: Astrid, I totally want to touch you on the leg. How'd that go? Was it flirty? Maybe a little creepy? A little of both? 'Crirty'? 'Creety'? 'Fleepy'? 'Flirpy'?"

I'm partial to 'flirpy,' nicely done. As for the actual leg-touching, I'll quote a friend of mine who quoted this at me last night from somebody else he was quoting: I'm still plotting data points on you. You've already been beta tested, and apparently there were some bugs before you were recently upgraded, so...yeah. Thanks, though. I'll keep you posted on the leg touchability when my focus group finally gets back to me.

"Astrid . . . might be too professional to know how to advise us cheap-ass Handycam dorks."

Never. You're forgetting I'm also a film instructor; advising cheap-ass Handycam dorks comprises a sizable chunk of what I do.

"As Cliff said, she's a 'cinnamontog. cimanym.tog. synonymtograf.'"


"I don't know how to spell the word either"


"but it's pronounced like 'cinnimootohgrahfur'."

Sigh. All together now: SIN-eh-ma-TAW-grah-fer. Dude, it's like, totally iambic pentameter dactylic dimeter [thank you, Einar]. Probably doesn't help that I sometimes like to call myself a 'cinnamontographer' when I'm feeling revoltingly cutesy.

"It means she knows how to take photographs of movies or something."

Exactly. Okay, seriously, here you are:

A cinematographer is an artist and craftsperson who tells stories using lighting and a motion picture medium (film or video, although I'm partial to flipbooks and hand-cranked penny arcade machines myself), and this is done in collaboration with fellow artists and craftspeople. In other words, I take what the director tells me ("make this scene look cold, scary, and really warped," for example), and I figure out what that means visually (most likely harsh shadows, lots of blue, and crazy/unflattering angles, just to continue the example), and then I translate that into technical stuff for my crew (like asking my lighting crew to put the lights in certain places and at certain angles to create harsh shadows, with certain shades of blue-colored gels [sheets of colored plastic] on said lights; perhaps also asking my camera crew to tilt the camera and stick a wide-angle lens on it to warp the actors' features).

So, lots of translating from the artistic into the technical, and lots of bossing people around.

Speaking of penny arcade machines (which really do make me almost obscenely happy), I'm going to quote my copy of The Voodoo MAD on the topic of movies:

MOVIES - ORDINARY CONFORMISTS . . . go in for uninspired Technicolor musicals, stories with happy endings, migraine-provoking Cinemascope, and 6 1/2-hour double features that destroy the eyes, ears, nose, and spine.

MOVIES - ORDINARY NON-CONFORMISTS . . . patronize stuffy out-of-the-way movie houses that show "experimental" films, arty-type films, documentaries, and obscure foreign language pictures with the sub-titles in pidgin Swahili.

MOVIES - MAD NON-CONFORMISTS . . . enjoy hand-cranked penny arcade machines which contain film classics like the Dempsey-Firpo fight, Sally Rand's Fan Dance, old Ben Turpin comedies, and Tom Mix pre-adult westerns.

Three guesses which one I am (in case you didn't bother reading the title of this blog entry).

Also, since Sally Rand is all sorts of terrific: Sally Rand dances with a very beautiful Balloon. This reminds me of "The Prisoner" (see intro here and part of the pretentious-yet-handy "The Prisoner Companion" [with balloon at 2:29] here).

You may now return to your regularly scheduled lives.

P.S. I think I mixed up my bracketing technique -- it usually goes { [ ( ) ] }, and I did it the other way around throughout this post. I'm only saying this because silly matters like that actually bother me, but when I tried it the other way around, it looked weird. If you don't give a crap, congratulations -- you are a relatively well-adjusted person. If you DO give a crap, we'll probably get along quite well, although our friendship will most likely devolve at some point into a frenzy of slapping each other over something remarkably stupid, like the proper pronunciation of 'coupon' or 'banal.'

T-shirt designs

Okay, I have four T-shirt designs I just cooked up. They're not officially on Cafe Press yet The I [RO] NY, Sexier In Semaphore, and Kiss Me / I'm Leprous designs are now on sale at Cafe Press! I just wanted to get an overall sense of what people like or don't like first, as well as preferred sizing etc. Let me know if you'd like to purchase Acrimony & Cheez or I'm Leprous as well. Here they are:




Happy zany holidays! Over and out, ten-four good buddy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

enough with the preening, already

Okay, no more bragging about myself for today. I'm rapidly approaching the point where my apparent excellence is so blinding that I'd like to stab my eyes out with a fork and cement the deal. Yeesh.

Instead, I'd like to brag on somebody else's behalf this afternoon before I finally go and get a belated lunch: Nick Patera. Just watch this.

Nick is a god. A GOD. You go, girl.

I'm the best producer who never was

I hate producing. I hate all the phone calls, and the amassing of resources and personnel, and the keeping track of money, and the constant panicking; it all seems so petty to me. Being a DP is much more relaxing; at the very least, it has a stress that actually energizes me, makes me happy, and keeps me feeling like I'm on the cutting edge of fabulousness. People may be yelling about losing daylight and the actor's threatening to walk and the generator having just died, but I pride myself on my Laser Death Ray Artist Vision, which cuts through irrationality, space, time, and egos, thus enabling me to Make Necessary Shit Happen.

It's not like I leave a wasteland of smoking ruins or anything, although that would be pretty cool. I merely state the obvious (which is usually half the battle -- people seem to like living in denial a lot), and then present what I consider the best strategy, with full explanations and zero smugness or pandering. It's stupidly simple, and feels very raw and immediate, even physical, like I'm bashing people's heads together with basic, implacable words of truth. It's like being able to tame a wild horse, or getting a two-year-old to take a nap. I've always been good at slicing through raging storms on set, and it makes me feel at least ten feet tall every time things are resolved to everybody's grudging satisfaction.

This is part of the reason I love being a DP. Even at its most disorganized, zero-communication, crew-with-no-lunch-after seven-hours, rock-bottom worst, it's still exhilarating when I finally get to move mountains an inch to the left. Yeehay.

Today, though, was a petty producer day, a day devoted to quibbling over minutiae, but I've still managed to emerge triumphant over the irritations, which kind of surprises me; this is not my usual, comfortable domain of logical head-bashing. I just got the rental houses EVS and Pro HD into a bidding war over equipment I'm renting for a no-budget shoot this weekend, and I managed to cut their rental day rates in half. IN HALF. And there was no arm-twisting, no veiled (or overt) threats, no yelling about having to speak to the manager. I just kept calling back and forth, being Li'l Miss Apologetic Cinematographer ("I'd hate to get you embroiled in a bidding war with each other, but..."), schmoozing like a lean, mean (okay, not mean), schmoozing machine, and I turned out to be The Ultimate Ace Producer. Who'd'a thunk?

It's very satisfying, but I still prefer to lurk behind a camera. It's harder to eat donuts on set when you're constantly freaking out at people on the phone and have to keep your mouth clear of donut debris, you know? Donuts first, panicking second. Let it never be said that I am a woman with a screwed up set of priorities.

I'm in the SOC! I think.

Okay, this is weird -- I think I was just made a member of the Society of Camera Operators. But I'm not sure.

See, I'm newly listed as a member on their roster, but have I received an official letter of welcome yet? No. This may be because the stoopid post office is still holding my mail, even though they should have delivered everything by Friday last, and perhaps the letter is sitting there. But I did call the SOC last week and leave a message about this, and I wrote to the SOC webmaster about this, and has anybody gotten back to me with clarification? Sadly, no. I am baffled, which I always pronounce "baff led."

So, if I'm really a member, and they didn't list a different Astrid Phillips who also applied at the same time I did, then HUZZAH I SAY. This means I get to hobnob with camera operators and hifalutin' DPs who are in the American Society of Cinematographers, which is beyond awesome. Many thanks to everybody who offered to be a reference for me, you are absolute dears.

Actually, just saying 'hobnob' and 'hifalutin'' in the same sentence is beyond awesome already.

Back to the point: if, on the other hand, it's really a different Astrid Phillips (not probable, but still possible), then I will be seriously peeved. I will have to hunt down my doppelgänger and, by virtue of merely shaking her hand, we will annihilate the space-time continuum as we know it. That would be intriguing, except for the actual annihilation part.

So, if you're in the SOC, and you can clear this all up, then please do so; that would be most excellently fab. Thanks.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

a little art gallery

I love the silhouette of the lady with her jaunty hat -- and her head is so perfectly contained in the sweep of the freeway. Love it. Of course, why she's hanging out under the freeway is beyond me, but I guess that's what you do when you're being pensive in the big city.

What a stylish couple! And again with the jaunty hat.... Y'know, I really wish the tobacco industry would come out with a non-carcinogenic cigarette, because if they did, I'd be the very first non-smoker to start swanning about town with a cigarette in a holder, smoke curling about me wherever I go.

I'm assuming that this guy immediately shaved his head afterwards. Dorkiness aside, this is a really fun, well-executed idea.

Believe it or not, I was once duct taped to a wall as well, back in my freshman sophomore year at Michigan. It was all my then-boyfriend's idea. O, the memories. He's now a physicist for the EPA and married, apparently.

Nice to see he's taking things well.

I was once hit by a wave a tenth of this size, and I nearly passed out and drowned. I really, really hope that this is Photoshopped, but it doesn't seem like it. Hoo boy.

I WANT THIS FENCE. NOW. Failing that, I'd like to be this fence. Thank you.

I love when make-up looks like candy. I wouldn't want to kiss that, but it sure looks nifty.

Braaaaaaaaaaains! The "Kids OK" part is magnificent.