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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 1, 2016 | 12:23 PM

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NOTFILM - An Interview with director Ross Lipman

Director’s Statement by Ross Lipman
My new film, Notfilm, is a documentary about the embattled collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett and silent-era genius Buster Keaton. Beckett’s only work for projected cinema, aptly called Film, is in essence a chase film: the craziest ever committed to celluloid.

I first read Beckett’s script for Film in my late teens, long before seeing the movie. It immediately grabbed hold of me as one of cinema’s great curiosities, and hasn’t left me since. When my friend Andrew Lampert at Anthology Film Archives contacted me about preserving Film, I jumped at the chance. In New York, I met with its producer, Barney Rosset, the legendary founder of Grove Press. Rosset soon deposited Film with the UCLA Film & Television Archive where I was working, and with generous funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation and The Film Foundation and topnotch work from my colleagues at the labs, we were able to restore Beckett’s original vision in a new edition.

But Film still wouldn’t leave me alone. During my many visits with Rosset, he often lamented the loss of a key scene. The sequence comprised a legendary long-lost prologue. Upon my gentle prodding, he revealed that he did have a few rolls of film under his kitchen sink, but he was sure they were just scrap.

You can guess the rest.

The footage was from the missing prologue—which I’ve now reconstructed in strict accordance with Beckett’s original notes. And that was just the beginning. Looking at other outtakes, I found myself immersed in a dream world of what might have been and what really occurred as film stock ran through cinematographer Boris Kaufman’s camera in 1964.

Notfilm is the result of those daydreams. Over the past seven years I’ve traveled across the world interviewing Beckett’s friends and collaborators. I’ve also had the great fortune to work with composer Mihály Víg, who’s created a score for Notfilm every bit as stunning as his music for the films of Béla Tarr. Lastly and firstly, it’s been my honor and joy to work with the extraordinary Amy Heller and Dennis Doros of Milestone Films.

Notfilm asks, as Beckett did, what cinema can tell us of the human experience. It aspires, as Beckett did, to Joyce’s dictum that artworks should not be about things, but be these things themselves.

FilmRadar managed to ask Ross Lipman a few questions about the film:

How did you first decide to pursue this project?

I actually got taken with the script of Film, in the old Grove Press edition, years before I saw the movie. When the rare archival elements began almost landing in my lap, the thought of a movie naturally arose. But oddly, it wasn’t ‘till viewing the outtakes of the decrepit room – Boris Kaufman’s slow pans over the detritus – that those idle thoughts grew into something more. I saw in those fragmentary outtakes a world I wanted to explore up close.

What makes you distrust movies about movies?

This was an attitude I had when I was younger...I didn't yet realize that for practicing artists, their work can simply become their life. But I still have feel that internal voice arising on occasion, asking what my aims are. In the end I return to the same dictum from Joyce that inspired Beckett: he was less interested in works that were "about" things, than those that were things in themselves.

What were you most surprised to learn while making NOTFILM?

The further I delved, the more I realized that Becket was less of an absolutist than people thought. Yes, he was famously particular and exacting, but by all accounts he was quite warm, human, and even embracing of those around him. He'd even allow variances - at least in some instances - of his formal concerns when he felt they were well intended. It was partly this realization that allowed me to proceed with NOTFILM,

What do you want the audience to walk away with after seeing it?

There's no single thing that stands out, in that I've intentionally tried to appeal to different interests, all of which are a part of myself. Perhaps in the same way that Shakespeare hoped his plays could be enjoyed by vastly different groups of people, in different ways. I love the meditative as well as the mundane. But if pressed, I'd hope that viewers are inspired to seek out more works by the many artists whose works feature in NOTFILM, all of whom have been great personal inspirations to me.

Los Angeles Theatrical run: American Cinematheque / Laemmle Theaters / co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum

Fri 4/1: Actor Jimmy Karen in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm

Sat 4/2: Actor Jimmy Karen, photographer I.C. Rapoport, director Ross Lipman in person.
Aero Theater, Santa Monica. 7:30 pm.

Mon 4/4: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood. 7:30 pm.

Tue 4/5: Actor Jimmy Karen in person.
Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena. 7:30 pm.

Wed 4/6: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills 7:30 pm.

Thur 4/7: Laemmle Claremont 5, Claremont 7:30 pm.

Fri 4/8: Critic/historian Leonard Maltin and director Ross Lipman and in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm.

Sat 4/9: Director Ross Lipman in person.
Egyptian Theater. 7:30 pm.

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raymac Written by raymac
Dec. 31, 2015 | 10:30 PM

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January Film Events

January’s listing of science fiction, horror and fantasy films and film events. Be sure to check back often as this list will be updated as more films and events are announced.


January 2nd
Indiana Jones Trilogy
The Egyptian

January 3rd
The Egyptian

January 6th
Regency South Coast Village

January 7th
Regency Buenaventura 6

January 8th
400 DAYS
The Egyptian
Discussion following with cast and crew.

The Frida

The Nuart
Midnight screening

January 9th
The Egyptian

January 10th
Arclight Hollywood

January 14th
Arclight Hollywood

Hammer Museum

Arclight Santa Monica

January 15th
The Aero

Midnight Screening. Co-writer Joshua John Miller and special guests in person

January 16th
The Aero

January 17th
The Frida
Matinee screening

January 18th
Arclight Pasadena

January 19th
Arclight Santa Monica

January 22nd
The Vista
30th Anniversary Midnight Screening

January 24th
Arclight Hollywood

January 25th
Arclight Pasadena

January 27th
Arclight Pasadena

January 29th
The Aero
Introduction by James Curtis, who will sign his book, William Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Films to Come, in the lobby at 6:30 PM

January 31st
The Frida

ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW plays every Saturday at midnight at the Nuart and Art Theatres


January 10th
Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention
The Reef
Billy Dee Williams, Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and others will appear

January 17th
Dark Delicacies

January 29th - 31st
Anime LA
Ontario Convention Center

January 31st
Dark Delicacies

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NoBudgetFilmSchool Written by NoBudgetFilmSchool
Oct. 30, 2012 | 2:21 AM

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Spying on “Neighbors”

I’m excited to bring you a guest article from Ron Judkins, a close friend and my producing partner on True Love, the feature I use as a case study in my No Budget Film School class.  While this is a first for me, I hope to have more guest bloggers in the future. 

I met Ron about 15 years ago when I was at Next Wave Films and he was finishing his feature directorial debut, The Hi-Line.  Next Wave ultimately repped the film when it premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.  Made for around $500k, this beautiful film went on to play many festivals and helped launch the career of then-unknown Rachael Leigh Cook.  (Incidentally, it was shot by none other than Wally Pfister, whom we introduced to Chris Nolan in Park City when we were repping Chris’ film Following, which was playing at Slamdance that same year).  Though The Hi-Line was Ron’s first feature as a director, it was by no means his first time on a film set.  Ron is a two-time Academy Award winning production sound mixer and a four-time nominee.  He has worked with filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Gus Van Sant, Alan Rudolf, Stephen Frears, Barry Levinson, and most notably Steven Spielberg.  In fact, he has been with Spielberg on just about every one of his films over the last 20 years, including the upcoming Lincoln. 

Ron is an incredibly knowledgeable guy and the insights he shares below about the making of his new film Neighbors  ring very true to me.  His experience represents an excellent example of Embracing Your Limitations, the first rule I teach in my class.  I hope you enjoy this piece; I look forward to bringing you more guest pieces soon.

- Mark Stolaroff, No Budget Film School


by Ron Judkins

I’ve worked in the “industry” for a good long while, mostly as a production sound mixer on movies that you may have heard of.  I’ve even won some awards.  But I’ve also enjoyed lurking on the fringes of the independent scene as well.  I directed a movie called The Hi-Line that went to Sundance in 1999.  Mark Stolaroff and I were business partners when he was formulating the ideas for his No Budget Film School, so I’m pretty familiar with what he’s up to.

And while all of the No Budget theories make perfect sense, in reality it’s often hard to make a movie and completely keep to the guidelines.  Mark would probably be the first person to admit that.  On every project it seems that there’s something that you want to do that causes you to break the rules.  You either want a different look, a higher profile cast, more interesting locations, or something.  And often that something either prevents the filmmaker from making the film, or otherwise creates a huge fly in the ointment during the process.

In the years since I made The Hi-Line, I’ve been in “development” on a variety of projects.  I took a lot of meetings, weekly phone calls, and strategy sessions.  But no films got made.  So finally I decided to gather what resources I had to just go out and make a film.  I asked my across-the-street neighbor Judy Korin, and my wife Jennifer Young (very close neighbor) to produce…Neighbors

Ron Judkins On Neighbors' Set

Neighbors is a comedic drama about a middle-aged guy (Michael O’Keefe) who, with the help of his neighbors, faces down a mid-life crises to re-connect with both his creativity, and his marriage.

When I originally visualized the film, I wanted to set it in an upscale urban Los Angeles neighborhood.  I was thinking Silverlake, or the Hollywood Hills.  But the film had specific requirements in terms of locations.  As it was written, we needed three houses in a row on the same side of the street that had sight lines and easy access to each other. That is a huge task to find when you have a very limited budget. 

I wanted to make a classic “L.A.” movie with lots of light, windows, palm trees, and maybe a vista of the distant Pacific. We looked long and hard—canvassing the people that we knew, and the people that they knew.  And lo and behold—we found it!  One of Jennifer’s long time friends had a house in the Hollywood Hills that was perfect.  He loved the script and agreed to let us film there.  And across the ravine from him was another artistic couple that might be sympathetic to our cause.  An introduction was made, and incredibly, the second couple was very open to having us shoot in their house as well.  It really amazes me what opportunities can open up for you—if you only ask.  Often we just don’t ask.  But I was so excited!  These locations were a dream come true. 

But then we turned our attention to the logistics.  While beautiful, the house had very limited parking.  We would have to set up a shuttle.  We weren’t sure how the other adjacent neighbors would react to us filming in the ravine.  One was rumored to be “not sympathetic.”  And then we couldn’t find a parking lot that was affordable—or even a side street with good parking.  And because we were committed to working only twelve-hour days, we had to think about the time lost to parking and shuttling.  With all of that, we would be lucky to be able to actually be shooting for ten hours a day.  It seemed really difficult. 

Judy and Jennifer kept gently suggesting, “Why don’t we just shoot it in our own houses?”

I was so resistant to that.  I didn’t think it would work—well, I knew that it wouldn’t work in the way I had imagined.  A big concern of mine was that I didn’t want the scope of the film to be reduced.  Houses in our neighborhood are small, and I was concerned that the locations would feel confining and claustrophobic. 

But we inched ever closer to our start date and everything started to cost more money than we had budgeted.  So it really came down to the fact that there was no way we could pull it off if we tried to shoot up on the hill.  And Judy and Jennifer brought up a good point (do you see a pattern here?!), that it was more than just a question of where to shoot the movie.  That maybe there was an opportunity to involve our neighborhood in a very organic way as a kind of a partner in the making of the movie.  And once I got off my position of the way I imagined the film, I began to understand what that could be.  Wouldn’t it make sense to shoot a movie called Neighbors in our own neighborhood?  We had so many resources there, but it wasn’t just about resources, it was about embracing a philosophy where so many other people in the neighborhood were able to come on board and collaborate on something that became very meaningful to them—for many different reasons. 

Wardrobe In The House

We ended up shooting the bulk of the movie in Judy’s house.  We were able to shoot in the house next door to hers, which had a guesthouse behind.  It was such a fortuitous choice.  When we needed to shoot a real-time Skype conversation in two locations simultaneously—our neighbors down the block let us shoot at their place. When we needed high-speed Internet in the guesthouse next to Judy’s, we just ran long Ethernet lines across the backyard.  Our own house, across the street, became an additional location as well as the production office, the hair and makeup department, wardrobe, and actor’s greenroom.  This was not without its awkward moments.  Judy had to move out of her house for the duration of the shoot.  When Jennifer and I had to vacate our bedroom so that it could be repainted, we had to sleep in the living room among the wardrobe racks. When hair and make up arrived an hour and a half early to start work, they were knocking on our front door.  We were SO sleep deprived!  Judy’s back yard was perfect for craft service and for catering.  She kept the interior of her house set up the way we had it in the film, so that months later when we came back for pickups, the house was ready to go.

Looking at the film now, it’s not that light and airy send up of Los Angeles that I had first imagined.  But there is an authenticity to the locations and to the look of the film that is pretty unique.  It really is another side of Los Angeles. 

So the no-budget filmmaking rule of “use what you have” really did work for us—and in ways which were exponentially more important and meaningful than just the savings in dollars.  Because the fact is, when making films in this manner you HAVE to engage with and inspire some kind of community or larger group of people to aggregate the kinds of energy and resources to pull it off.  For whatever reasons, people have to want to be involved with your film.  Your currency becomes your goodwill and your integrity and how these both can manifest and take root in that community.  It can be a community of three or four, or three hundred, but it is the combined energies of the individuals in that group that will allow you to make your project.  In our case, when our filmmaking community was largely populated by our actual neighbors, the project really sprouted wings.

I don’t know what kind of film we would have if we had been able to shoot up on the hill.  But I do know that by fostering win-win relationships close to where we live, we created an experience that was extraordinary.  Very few times did I feel that our limited budget seriously affected the way we made the film.  The only exception was our schedule.  I really would’ve liked to be able to shoot a more relaxed schedule.  And I have some ideas about that.

So the other day I told Jennifer, “Next time I want to make a movie with even less money.”  I have some hunches about how to pull that off in an amazing way.  Of course it has to be the right film, and the right people.

She rolled her eyes and told me to shut up!

—Ron Judkins

To learn more about Neighbors and to watch some great videos about the making of the film, check out the current Kickstarter page at:

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