nycmagnet

Let Them Chirp Awhile, post-viewing

In Screen on December 9, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Bobby and ScottJonathan Blitstein has been commended  for his film debute and he is most definitely worth all the talk.  This young screenwriter and director is one to keep your eye on (for those who like watching movies) and a force to be reckoned with (for those who like making movies).

Although the film was highlighted here on Magnet just a week or so ago, after seeing the cinematic magic in it’s entirety, I can’t help but talk about it some more.  The film is full of dialogue and while some predominantly dialogue driven films may cause you to snooze, Let Them Chirp Awhile is sure to do the opposite.  Therefore I say, go right on ahead chirping because it is immensely satisfying to listen to, not to mention hilarious in the subtle everyday happenings of the young artists.  The camera angles are like chocolate truffles for your eyeballs.  One of my favorite scenes, and I have many, occurs when Charlotte and Bobby are strolling down the middle of the street.  At first glance there is not much going on, but then your eyes are welcomed by steam seeping through the street vents and the headlights about a block or so behind them cast these resplendent diamonds that dance all around the frame.  Beautiful.

Magnet is honored to have  corresponded with Jonathan Blitstein himself and he was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions.  

Magnet: How did you get Anthony Rapp to be in the film? That was incredible.

Jonathan Blitstein: Anthony visited my high school in chicago for our bi-annual FOCUS on the arts.  he talked about new york, and since i had just gotten into NYU film school i spoke to him and he encouraged me  to pursue my dream.  he had gone to film school but later dropped out because he was cast in RENT.  when i got to NYC i got a coffee with him and we kept in touch on and off.  then when i was making my film, i came up with the idea, and i sent it to his agent and i said REMEMBER ME?  I’M MAKING A MOVIE NOW…and we got in touch, he read the script and agreed to do it.  Anthony has been a wonderful friend to me in the last couple years and I’m a big supporter of his work.  He’s very bright and talented.

M: Of the whole moving making process, what part is your favorite?

JB: I love the idea process.  It’s when you sit in a coffee shop and just take notes and imagine your next film.  And after that, I really love shooting.  I like having a lot of people around, it’s like being in theater.  It feels like a family and if you are kind to people, you can achieve a real wonderful aura on set of excitement.  I also love the smell of fresh dry erase markers that the assistant cameraman uses to mark the slate.  so being on set is good.  I also like the junk food at the crafty table. 
M: We have heard that you are praised for your “unique eye”, is it your right or left?

JB:  I guess it’s my left because I’m a lefty…i operate and look thru the viewfinder of the camera with my left eye.  I wish i was a cyclops though.  Mono-vision must be super intense.  i can’t imagine being able to walk, but it would be awesome to just have one big eye on the center of your face. You could tell so many great party jokes.  But if someone said something like “keep your eye on the prize”, you could just stare at them silently and they’d probably just feel awful…it already sounds like a seinfeld episode.
M:  Only eighteen days of filming.. Is that even physically possible? What’s your secret?
JB:  Haha, it’s no secret.  it’s just economical filmmaking.  lemonade out of lemons.  I knew I had to do the film in the fewest days possible, so I broke down the script and stacked as many scenes with certain actors on certain days.  I decided to cover most of my scenes in 3 shots or less, some with a single shot.  I agreed to do 1-2 takes of everything, not much more than that.  And then i storyboarded about 450 drawings so when I would arrive at set, my cinematographer and I would know exactly what we were trying to achieve.  It saved time.  We also just did a lot of guerilla style stuff like stealing shots at night, and not wasting time to get things perfect.  if it was good enough, we shot and moved on.  that was the only way to do it. 
As for “physically possible”…well, I collapsed due to extreme pain from an ulcer in my stomach  that i developed on the film from drinking too much coffee, taking too much vitamins, and not sleeping, all on an empty stomach.  they hopped me up on morphine at the Emergency room at beth israel hospital in NYC and I directed a scene or two while I was high, sitting in a gown with an IV in my arm, over the phone.  so, maybe it’s not really physically possible, but i didnt die, so that’s good… Although…Spielberg made “Duel” in 12 days, but they had 3 cameras, a hollywood crew, and like…a zillion dollars.
M:  If you could work with anyone in the film bizz, who would it be and why?
JB:  That’s easy…here’s my list:
Actor – Leo DiCaprio.  He’s a living genius and the best of his generation.  He is a real craftsman, one of a kind.
Producer – Scott Rudin.  I can only imagine that Scott Rudin is the best script reader alive.  Every film he green-lights turns to gold.  Not only does he cultivate and allow for artistic expression, he understands how to put together a film that is both commercially viable and also meaningful.  If you have him in your corner, you’re lucky.
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