Good News: Documentary Will Play Phenom Film Festival

My documentary, For the Love of Books, has been accepted to screen at the Phenom International Film Festival.  For the Love of Books tells the story of Kathy Patrick and the Pulpwood Queens’ Girlfriend Weekend. The Queens throw a book-loving party each January that features outrageous costumes, great storytelling, and many inspiring literacy projects.  The majority of the still photography in the film was taken by Natalie Brasington and the music was done by my former high school basketball rival, Jeremy Vogt. The festival will be held in Shreveport, Louisiana from Sept. 6-9, 2012. I plan to share more information as it comes, and I hope you’ll help me spread the word.  Special thanks to Kathy Patrick, the Pulpwood Queens, and all the talented authors who appear in the film. If you sign up for regular updates below, I’ll write you a note  and say hello!

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Two of the Many Friendly People I Met in Jefferson, Texas

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False Profit: A Mockumentary Indie Film about the Financial Crisis, the Bailout, and Occupy Wall Street

“Finally,” CNBC declared about the mockumentary False Profit. “A comedy movie about the financial crisis.” I met one of the producers on this film, Dan Abrams, because we’d both been fans of and guests on a podcast called asymco. It’s host is Horace Dediu and Horace studies Apple and its competitors. It’s an example of the ways in which stories, digital media, and Apple are coming together for me. Dan’s current project is a mockumentary called False Profit, and it’s an indie film project in that he is seeking his own financing, partially done through a website called Kickstarter. To read more about that and potentially help fund the project (and pick up some swag in the process) you can click here.

William Torgerson Dan Abrams False Profit asymco Horace Dediu

False Profit from Kickstarter

When I asked Dan about his process for writing the story for False Profit, he said he wrote collaboratively, something that comes from his connections to the Second City comedy theater. He talked about a way of writing (and maybe it’s an improv technique too) called the “Yes And” method. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying on the podcast until I later saw it in writing. His example of the technique went something like this:

“It’s raining frogs.”

As the fellow writer, I am to accept that it is raining by thinking yes and and then going with it. “Finally,” I might say, “we’ve been having a terrible drought of frogs this summer.”

On the audio podcast, Dan and I debated the social merits of Will Ferrell movies. I thought mostly funny but also usually just silly and maybe even homophobic, and Dan mounted a satire-themed defense. From there, we discussed the Bailout, Chekhov, George Bush, and whether or not Republicans and Democrats alike might enjoy the film False Profit.

Dan is using Kickstarter to help finance his film and he explained how that works. I asked about Vimeo or YouTube for the sort of work I’m doing, and I had a lot of questions about copyright when it comes to news footage, the legal contracts in securing images and music, and all sorts of questions when it comes to film festivals and indie film distribution.

If you take the time to give the podcast a listen, I hope you’ll help me learn about some of this. I’m almost done with my documentary film For the Love of Books and I’m sensing that there’s more work ahead than completed when it comes to actually getting the film in front of audiences to where they can view it.

On iTunes, the podcast is called the “Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.” If you look down the right side of this page, you can click on the file for download. I’d love to just have it ready for streaming play, maybe one of you can tell me how to set that up. Is it possible to do it while paying to go ad free on WordPress or do I need to run my own site? Thanks in advance for the help!

Two Indie Film Documentary Projects: Morel Mushrooms and Pulpwood Queens

First I thought I wanted to make a documentary film.  Now it looks like there might be two.  The original idea was to be about my dad and his buddies’ morel mushroom hunting obsession.  A second film has jumped out and seemed to be demanded to be made about my recent trip to the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend weekend.  My impulse to try the films probably comes from what my students and I have been up to in the classroom and also the trip I took last summer to Providence for the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

William Torgerson documentary film Pulpwood Queens Kathy Patrick Morel Mushroom Hunters

The Mushroom Hunters

In the classroom, my students write a documentary-style research paper we call a scholarly personal narrative.  They tell a personal story, weave in scholarly research, and then “write” a short documentary film as a culminating writing project.  This seems something along the lines of Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking.  It’s a story of personal grief with research layered in.

Working with film is a craft I find can take me away.  In other words, what should be an hour of fiddling with iMovie or Windows Moviemaker turns into several hours and staying up half the night to finish a project so that my family can see it the next morning.

As for the festival last summer, I had a great time, went to films with my sis, films with my wife, and also met lots of indie filmmakers who I peppered with questions about their work. I enjoyed a lot of the films (Sailcloth, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore) but there was one funny and clever documentary short called Two’s a Crowd  that acted as the catalyst that caused my sister and I to think, maybe we can do this.

Some Pulpwood Queens at Girlfriend Weekend

It’s my thinking that I’m going to write here about how these projects are coming along with hopes that some of you will join in and set me back on course when my thinking goes astray.

 

A Conversation With a Bookblogger: From French Cuffed Z. Cavaricci’s to the Art of Indie

I never really connected to the whole blogging phenomena, not until I recently attended a Blogger Conference in conjunction with Book Expo America (BEA).  Following a full day of hanging out with the bloggers at the Javits Convention Center in NYC, I left impressed with the community, impressed at their passion for books and need to talk about them.  I found people who are actually more interested in promoting literacy than making money.  What?!!!

Lori Hettler is one of the bloggers I met.  She’s a fellow Say Anything obsessive who also likes Nick Hornby and talks of French-cuffed Z. Cavaricci’s.  Remember those?  I had a purple pair about the time I graduated from high school.

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Lori Hettler, author of The Next Best Book Blog

It was Lori’s use of the words retro and indie that caught my attention and so I asked her if she’d be willing to talk to me about her little niche of the blogosphere.  She agreed and I plan to share our conversation over several posts.  First, I asked Lori to give an overview of the bookblogging world, to tell us what we might be missing out on if we don’t participate.  Here’s what she said:

There are so many levels to book blogging. As a blogger, you can choose to participate at any or all levels. For starters, it’s your own personal space to dish about books in any way, shape, or form you wish. There are no rules, no parameters, no boundaries – only those that you set for yourself. It’s also a community. There are bloggers out there for every genre and niche you can imagine. They are welcoming and supportive. They share ideas and join forces. Nothing makes me happier than seeing bloggers come together to support a cause. Twitter hashtags, book tours, you name it, and they can and will do it!

As a blogger, you can also begin to build relationships with authors and publishers. You can host giveaways, develop features or meme’s, conduct interviews, gain access to ARC’s (advance reading copies) for reviews. It’s all out there, and it’s all what you make of it. I think, most importantly, book bloggers spread literacy. They get the world talking about books!

William Torgerson, Bill, Lori Hettler, Cherokee McGhee, Love on the Big Screen, St. John's University, I am a product of my generation. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s… my fondest memories include Cabbage Patch Kid dolls (and those god-awful but so cool Garbage Pail Kids stickers!), slinkys, Pogo-balls, French cuffed Z-cavaricci’s , teased out hair, cassette tapes, the Fraggles, Sea Monkeys, the Rubik’s Cube.  Today’s music cannot touch the stuff that came out of the 80’s – I’m talking about bands like R.E.M., U2, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure. Movies like The Goonies, Labyrinth, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, Stand By Me – they are untouchable, they stand the test of time. I love books that steep themselves in retro-ness – books like High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, Totally Killer by Greg Olear, Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis, Banned for Life by D.R. Haney.

Check out "The Next Best Book Blog"

Link to The Next Best Book Blog Here

Look for more conversation with Lori in future posts.  If you’ve got questions or thoughts connected to book blogging, I’d love to hear from you.