Production Journal for 'Roomies' Production (January-July 2023)

Introduction My name is Logan Tyler Smith. Sometime in 2019, when I was getting really into filmmaking (specifically the works of Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, as most film buffs get into), I came up with a title: Roomies. I hadn't really had a full idea at this point, but I knew it would be a good title for a 90s-early 2000 style indie film.  That is, I didn't have a full idea until August 2022.  I fleshed out the idea into a well-formed outline and knew that if I wanted to finally make a feature-length film, this outline would be the way to do it.  At this point in my career, I had only made short films, but I decided it was time to finally make my feature length directorial debut. And after putting together a well-done script, I got to working on preproduction.  Obviously, as you're going to see in the following production journal, the idea evolved and went through some evolution over the course of filming it. Preproduction was mostly where I chose my actors, Bryan

The Mixed Bag of Vampyr

  The Mixed Bag of Vampyr (1932) By Logan Tyler Smith Vampires did not have a linear path to being a cultural icon. Vampires have been interpreted in a variety of forms, most notably from the Dracula novel which has been interpreted from FW Murnau (Nosferatu) all the way to Francis Ford Coppola (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and then beyond. However, one of the more interesting films to me is one that does not really work to the level that some have said the latter two examples have worked. The film I am talking about (the one that doesn’t fully work) is a film by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer; that film is 1932’s Vampyr. Vampyr is a mixed bag for many reasons, notably its atmosphere, acting, and lack of theme.  One thing Vampyr definitely succeeds at is creating a creepy, unsettling atmosphere. Everything about the film from the death-related imagery (especially the shots of coffins and shadows) to the choice of music and shot length succeed at making the film conventionally unnerv

Licorice Pizza/Lolita Essays

  The Problematic Masterfulness of Licorice Pizza By Logan Tyler Smith     It’s honestly rare to see a movie that gets both all of the attention and none of the right attention. Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2021 film ‘Licorice Pizza’ has been getting a lot of critical acclaim, but ultimately has not been without its more negative critics. The crazy thing appears to be that both sides of the critical aisle have valid reasons to like or not like this film. Even if you like other Paul Thomas Anderson films (like I do) you have valid reasons to not/not like it, even if I personally like it despite its flaws. Either way, the film’s superior storytelling and craft does not change its more problematic elements.      Licorice Pizza appears to be a love letter to San Fernando Valley, California. The film travels lightly from one short narrative to the other, and the characters are always at the center of it in one form or another. The many business ventures the characters get in as well as the family

The Beating Heart of Belfast (2021)

NOTE: This contains some spoilers for the film 'Belfast'. As I know the Academy Awards are ongoing, and that this film was nominated for a few categories, I will edit this post for continuity's sake. The Beating Heart of Belfast (2021) By Logan Tyler Smith Have you ever wondered what a non-dysfunctional family looks like during old timey riots? A non-dysfunctional family is seemingly the heart of the 2021 Kenneth Branagh film, Belfast. But it is not quite the center as you would immediately assume. They absolutely play a role in the story, but they are not the heart of Belfast. The heart of Belfast is its understated but effective acting, its near-impeccable technical ability, and its depiction of genuine human emotion.  Right from the start, Belfast succeeds in its mastery of filmmaking craft. When the main child character first appears, he is at school playing before a big riot (originating from ‘The Troubles’ in 1969, where the film takes place) begins. Even if you’re

Gravity Falls (2012-2014) Episode 5: The Inconveniencing

  Another well-aimed supernatural episode where the supernatural elements do not actually seem to come out of nowhere (in fact they are hinted at fairly early in the episode’s conflict). It’s worth noting this episode is about a haunted (and abandoned) convenience store Dipper goes to with his coworker/crush Wendy and her friends (of course Mabel is along for the ride, as always).  This episode is very funny and inventive and has all the hallmarks the show has had from the beginning; fun humor and a cross-generational appeal (as I’ve mentioned several times throughout my reviews. This episode also doubles down on the supernatural/mysterious elements that made the show so great from the beginning.  Of course, all the characters experience their own arcs; Dipper goes from apprehensive about his “lamb dance” he did as a kid, but ultimately has to execute said dance in front of his crush, Wendy, in order to stave off ghosts. What makes this moment extra sweet is Wendy decides not to tell h

Gravity Falls (2012-2014) pisode 4: The Hands That Rock the Mabels

  This episode is a bit cliche; Mabel needs to tell a psychic named Gideon (note the lack of air quotes on “psychic”) that she’s not into him and that they won’t date. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go well and she triggers Gideon’s creepy psychosis (supernatural and ‘natural’).  Despite the cliche plot of this particular episode, Gideon is an intimidating presence; though he looks sweet at the beginning, we slowly begin to acclimate to his creepiness and possessiveness (his actual supernatural powers just add to this).  The way to defeat Gideon is hinted at when his more unsavory personality traits start to seep in as he hits on Mabel (he gestures toward his bejeweled bolo tie, which seems one-note at first before it’s revealed as the source of his powers). This method seems to work at first, but leads to a set up that Gideon may return one day (in other news; he has a book similar to the one Dipper found in the first episode!) Cliche or not, the humor still rolls off the tongues of the

Gravity Falls (2012-2014) Episode 3: Headhunters Review

Review written by Logan Tyler Smith This is probably the most overtly “mysterious” episode of the show I’ve seen so far as a fresh-eyed viewer (and not just for the “ducktective” gag). This episode follows a “murder mystery” of a wax doll of Grunkle Stan (there are other wax figures of different historical/fictional people) being ‘murdered’ (his wax head is removed from the body) and Dipper and Mabel trying to figure out who the murderer is.  This episode is great for the murder mystery of course; it hits all the beats of that genre pretty well. But when the episode takes a turn and gets to the supernatural roots that have plagued Gravity Falls from the cements its greatness.  Mabel’s voice actress Kristen Schall is great as always, but this episode has the delightfully posh addition (guest star?) of John Oliver as a wax sculpture of Sherlock Holmes (did I mention the wax statues were cursed?). Ultimately, the characters use their wits to outwit these freaks of nature.