Thursday, December 12, 2013

'American Hustle' Film Review

American Hustle (2013)
Crime/Drama - 138 minutes
David O. Russell

I had been waiting to see American Hustle since before it was called American Hustle. The script was originally called ‘American Bulls***’, and after getting my hands on the screenplay, I was seized. The script was brilliant.

The finished film, however, proved to be very different from the screenplay – the only carry-overs were the character forms and the basic structure of the plot (being based on true events, the overall plot remained fairly unchanged). However, I can’t think of any scenes that remained the same from the screenplay to the film.

The strength of this film is the characters. The characters were an overwhelming force of nature. Even the smallest roles were often filled with distinct details and quirks that made the world feel real.

According to IMDB, David O. Russell encouraged his actors to delve into their characters, even when it meant drastically changing the plot during filming. When Christian Bale countered ‘"You realize that this is going to change the plot greatly down track." Director David O. Russell replied, "Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that's it."

Overall, the film has a power that makes it a film that feels like it has the depth of a modern classic like ‘Goodfellas’. 

Despite the strength of this film, it does have a flaw that I think is worth discussing. 

Spoilers ahead:

The two lead characters (Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfield and Amy Adams’ Sydney Prosser) were ruthless, cunning, dynamic con artists throughout the entire film, until the ending when, after they pull off their biggest con, they decide to become art gallery curators and live a quiet, subdued life.  I found this ending to be a forced, contrived arrangement so that the film could be wrapped and packaged with a bow on top.

The characters are such forces of nature that they don’t lose their energy as the film progresses – their energy escalates. This is not the issue, but it becomes an issue by the end of the film when the plot starts to come to a conclusion. By the end of the film, I felt like the characters should have kept going- the characters didn't want the film to end, but obviously, like all films, it had to. This caused an abrupt and rather non-cathartic ending.

The original screenplay by Eric Singer, though not as dynamic as the product on screen, had an ending that gave the entire film, or at least Christian Bale’s character – a much more poignant, direct meaning. 

In the end, American Hustle is more fun than American Bulls*** was. No doubt - See this movie. You won't regret it. But American Bulls*** had an ending that tied it all together with a more poignant meaning that I wish American Hustle had more of. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sneak Peek of the OPENING SCENE of IPSEITY

The opening scene of my first feature length film is now online!

I'm thrilled to finally be able to share some of the scenes from the film. Stay tuned in the next couple of days for another scene.

Exclusive Scene from IPSEITY introduced by Charles Allen from Nicholas Sailer on Vimeo.
Actor Charles Allen introduces a sneak preview of the opening scene of the independent feature film IPSEITY.

IPSEITY is the story of a government security agent who loses parts of his memory in a traumatic accident, must rebuild his identity and reconnect with his family while hunting down a criminal infiltrating the agency.

Directed by Nicholas Sailer, Cinematography by Paul Frateschi, Executive Produced by Matt Harris and Lisa Laurene.

From Silo 12 Productions and Absolute

Starring Charles Allen, Katherine Drew, Abigail Cornell, Greg Wait, Kimberly Paker, and Doug Nydick.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Betaversity Video

It's been a while since I posted anything, so I thought I'd give an update:

I've been working on a variety of projects, ranging from entrepreneurial startup projects (Betaversity) to a short sketch comedy commercial (To be announced soon). In the meantime, check out the finalized video from Betaversity:

Betaversity: Making Room for Creativity from Nicholas Sailer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This week, I visited UC Davis in California to help Betaversity launch their first ever Betaspace. Betaversity is a consulting firm that helps universities and other institutions create innovation spaces on campus. These innovation spaces include techology like 3d printers, 3d scanners, shopbots, smartboards and white boards. All of this technology in one space allows for some awesome creativity, which is what we saw when Betaversity launched the space with two hackathons this weekend!

In addition to these pictures, I also took footage for a promotional video, which will be posted sometime in the following weeks. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Travels to UC Davis with Betaversity

This week I'll be traveling to UC Davis in California with the team behind Betaversity to help with the launch of the first ever Betaspace.

Betaversity is a startup formed by Lucas Arzola, Blake Marggraff, and my good friend Sean Maroni. They've since brought on another teammate, Michelle Lozada. Betaversity serves as a consulting firm that helps Universities and other institutions start innovation spaces.

Over the next week, I'll be documenting the launch of their first innovation space at UC Davis. Stay tuned for some great pictures as the Betaversity team takes the first step in their journey of entrepreneurship with their startup!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Film Critique: 'Klopka'

Klopka (The Trap) (2007)
Crime Drama – 106 minutes
Srdan Golubovic

I knew nothing about Klopka, (a Serbian word meaning ‘The Trap”) before I viewed it, and I’m can only wish that it was more well known. Though it is obscure and hidden from mainstream audiences, it is definitely a rare and unique film that is worth seeing several times.

Although I must confess I have a weakness for dramas with this high level of intensity, the most compelling element of this film is not the high tension or the plot twists. The aspect of this film that captured my attention the most was the cinematography.

The cinematography is not only unique and beautiful, but often times the compositions communicate the feeling of the film in ways that few other films do.  Director Srdan Golubovic and Director of Photography Aleksandar Ilic were not afraid to compose shots in ways that force the viewers to feel a certain way about what is happening. In addition to this, the compositions also have an artistic freedom that isn’t seen in most other films.

The film carries us through a twisted journey of a man faced with dark choices about his friends and family. This leads to a rather dark and depressing conclusion, but the story couldn't have ended any other way. 

If you enjoy Klopka, be on the lookout for the director’s following project, ‘Circles’, which was a part of Sundance in January 2013 and is Serbia’s submission to the Foreign Film category of the 2014 Academy Awards.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NYC, IFP Conference, and thinking like an Entrepreneur...

This past week I had the opportunity to attend several days of the IFP Film conference at the Lincoln Center in NYC.  Some of the panels held unique perspectives of the independent film industry, and I’ve pulled together some of what I thought were the best takeaways from the conference.

      1)   Filmmakers need to think of their films like an entrepreneur thinks of a startup.  Entrepreneurs focus intensely on market research, market data, target audiences, and the like. They do everything they can to discover who is going to use their product or service before they do anything to actually launch their business. They know specific price points about how much a certain target market is going to value their product or service. They find out as much data as possible from comparable businesses and competitors. If a previous business or startup in their industry failed, they know why, how, and they learn how to avoid those mistakes.

In the same way, independent filmmakers MUSt start to think of films in this way – Filmmakers should know their target market, they should study their audience. They should know who is going to want to see their film, and who is not part of that market.

      2)   Filmmakers need to think of their viewers as their customers – And value viewer relationships in the same way a business values customer relationships.

A company is able to exist and thrive because it can build a connection with it’s customers. If a customer isn’t satisfied with a product or service, they’ll go somewhere else to find it. In the same way, if a viewer isn’t satisfied with a film, they’ll find another film that they will be satisfied with. For this reason, one of a filmmakers most valuable resources is it’s viewer relationships.

One final interesting takeaway from IFP…

     3)   Data is changing everything

The film industry has been behind in terms of data collection in recent years. Many studios and film companies have not taken advantage of the opportunity of collecting data about their customers (viewers).  They know how many people went to the movies, how much money they made, but the details of who, when, where – their viewers ages, what they shop for online, what other movies they’ve watched, music that they listened to, and more remain unknown.

Netflix changes that. It is no coincidence that Netflix’s original series ‘House of Cards’ was so successful. Netflix collects data on viewers habits the way that Facebook collects data for advertisers. Targeted and specific.

As data collection becomes a larger part of the film industry, and with the rise of new technology and distribution platforms, their will be more and more opportunities for creative ways of reaching targeted and specific audiences.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Upcoming Films You're Going To Want To See

The next six months hold the release dates of some cinematically awesome films. These are the five films that you will want to see in the next six months.

-Gravity, Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Oct. 4th
Why? The technology used to make this film is mind blowing. Also, James Cameron called it "The best space film ever done".

-Inside Lewllyn Davis, Coen Brothers, Dec 6th
Why? Because the Coen Brothers have proved they know how to seamlessly and artfully blend music, narrative, and striking period visuals together with films like "O Brother Where Art Though?", and "Inside Lewllyn Davis" will be capture a distinctive 

-American Hustle, David O. Russell, Dec. 13th

Why? Because director David O. Russell has had marvelous success in working with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jessica Lawrence in the past, and the chemistry between the actors in this film is sure to be dynamite. Also, the script, which I have personally read an early draft of, is very compelling.

I predict that the last two films on this list will not receive as much popularity at the box office or the press, although  I predict that '12 Years a Slave' has a good run at winning some Academy Awards (My award predictions are an upcoming blog post - look for those soon).

- 12 Years a Slave. Steve McQueen, Oct. 18th
Why? Director Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender have a chemistry like few other actors and directors do. Steve McQueen's raw and visceral style will be explosive when applied to this story and this setting. Michael Fassbender is also probably one of the best (if not the best actor currently in the industry).

Her, Spike Jonze, Dec. 20th.
Why? Because Director Spike Jonze always has a unique view on the world, and it is always a view worth seeing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Film Premieres, Music Videos, and New York City...

A lot has happened in the last month.

As some of you know, my feature film 'IPSEITY' had it's first private screening with the cast and crew on August 4th.

The event was phenomenal and I was awed and amazed at the amount of support that was shown.

Less than a week after the screening, I relocated to my new apartment in Brooklyn, NY and began to work at a video production company called A76 Productions.

My new apartment in Brooklyn.

After being in NY for less than a week, I was able to join a small freelance production crew and help shoot a music video - Below is one of the Behind-the-scenes pictures that I took while on set. More pictures to come as the music video is released.

Overall, the past several weeks have been both overwhelming and amazing.

I would be remiss not to thank several people who made the events of the past several weeks possible. Without the hard work of Paul Frateschi and Matt Harris, along with Charlie Allen, Katherine Drew, Andrew Richardson, Lisa Laurene, and so many others, the premiere of 'IPSEITY' would never have happened. I am deeply grateful for their dedication and commitment to a project like this one.

In conclusion, my friends and family have been incredibly encouraging and supportive, and I am where I am today because of the dedication and support of my parents and family.

I anticipate that the coming months will be more exciting and hold more opportunity than the last several did, so keep in touch and stay tuned for pictures and updates about upcoming projects.

Monday, July 29, 2013

IPSEITY Private Premiere Screening!

The Private Premiere Screening of my feature film IPSEITY is on August 4th.

The journey to get to this point has been almost 2 years. Over this time, I've met so many great people, gotten to shoot at dozens of amazing locations, spent hours editing, shooting, planning, and more.

And finally, on August 4th at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, the film will screen for the first time in front of an audience of cast, crew, friends, and family.

I could not be more thrilled to share this project!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ipseity Character Poster: Seven of Seven!

The seventh and final IPSEITY character poster in the series of seven is here! This poster features Charles Allen as the lead character Ian Tesh.

We have also set the date of August 4th for the Private Premiere event of the film! 

It has been nearly a two year journey since the very beginning of the project. What has started as a story written on some pieces of paper has now become a full length feature film. This project has taught me so many things, brought me so many friendships, taken me so many places, and has been an amazing eye-opening experience for me.

I hope to see you on the 4th at the private screening of the film!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ipseity Character Poster: Sixth of Seven!

The sixth IPSEITY character poster in the series of seven is here! This poster features Mike West as the character Vince Malcolm.

Mike West was cast less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to shoot his first scene!

We'll be announcing the premiere date of the film next week, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ipseity Character Poster: Fifth of Seven!

The fifth IPSEITY character poster in the series of seven is here. This poster features Katherine Drew as Jennifer Tesh.

We're very close to having some news about the first private screening of IPSEITY, so stay tuned!