ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS 2021

ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS 2020

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ROFFEKE Values
Friendship (networking), Fun (experimentation), Freedom (purpose, empowering, transparency)

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I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

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Monday, December 27, 2021

ROFFEKE Interviews: 2021 and top 21 from previous years

I do not outsource the very important task of posting ROFFEKE interviews on the ROFFEKE blog. This is because I greatly respect the diverse points of views of the interviewed filmmakers. I respect the fact that they have taken time to focus and answer the interview questions, in a world that is increasingly becoming a hotbed of distractions, with a thousand and one things - both important and insignificant - clawing for our limited resource, time.

The interviewees can testify that I tend to leave their interview answers intact. The result is a wealth of insightful and diverse thoughts, processes and influences of ROFFEKE filmmakers from all over the world. I love it!

Below are links to the 2021 interviews, followed by a compilation of the top 21 most viewed ROFFEKE interviews.

Wishing the Kenyan rock scene and the ROFFEKE community a very happy, prosperous, healthy and peaceful 2022!

Mike Messier: Lessons from 2020, New novel, Screenwriting versus Novel writing

Interview: Egor Gavrilin - Director of The Bluestocking Music Video for "Never Ready"

Interview with Teddy Gitau, Kirimi Kiage and Blake Simpson - Scriptwriters of "Tethered"

Interview: Max Sparber - one of the screenwriters of Tomi Thirteen


Top 21 Most Viewed ROFFEKE Interviews

Dr. Robert David Duncan on improv acting, collaborating and giving back (over 1500 views)

Interview: YJ Kim - writer/director of Chemical (over 800 views)

ROFFEKE chats with Nambari Tisa of Murfy’s Flaw about music video directing and the movie store problem! (over 650 views)

Interview: "Elemento" director Nina Paola Marin Diaz (Colombia) - (Over 600 views)

Interview: Fanis Topsachalidis - Director of "Slingshot" (Over 500 views)

Interview: Giancarlo Fusi, screenwriter of "Hell Hound - The Legend of Robert Johnson" (Over 400 views)

Jonathan LaPoma: 67 Awards and Honors for his screenplays (Over 300 views)

Interview: Steven C. Knapp - Director of music video for "Rhythm in the Spirit" by Kansas (284 views)

Of Sons of Robots, Robot Dreams Made Flesh and Wearable Android (277 views)

Interview: Kurt No.5 - directed by Aleksandr Kirienko (271 views)

Interview: Measure of a Man (269 views)

Spirit Dance: A Screenplay by Kitania Kavey (268 views)

Interview: Alexander Thomas, writer/director of "Beverley" (268 views)

Interview: Maxime Guérin - Director of "Save Me a Dance" (267 views)

Interview: Alec Herron - Producer of "The Music Stops Here" (261 views)

Interview: "Brother" director Captain Chambers (252 views)

Interview: "Fat Punk" director Robert David Duncan (248 views)

Interview: "Draught" Writer/Director Artem Ukropov (238 views)

Josep Calle Buendia, The Devil’s Nephew and a Fairy Tale! (208 views)

Rock is Not an Attitude: Short Film by XIAOXIAO TANG (203 views)

"Everytime I See You I Go Wild": Directed by Paul D. (203 views)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Light and Dark - ROFFEKE Official Selections 2021 (Part 1)

The Christmas story is a story of light and dark. That “star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright” shone on a dark period that was full of challenges. There was no room at the inn for a heavily pregnant young girl and her spouse. A villainous king wanted three wise men to aid and abet him in committing murder. The three wise men were wise enough to pay attention to the world of dreams. “Light and Dark” is one theme running through the 2021 short films, music videos and rockumentaries submitted to ROFFEKE.

 

The first 2021 submission was “Bluestocking - Never Ready” directed by Egor Gavrilin. It is “a look at 5 personal stories of the members of the band through the prism of magical surrealism with a tinge of steam punk and a dark fairytale.” The second submission was lighter, both in themes and in setting and production. “Red Gate Sessions”, featuring and directed by Marvin Glover “is a live concert short film…the film shows an intimate performance of a select material spanning his career in a stripped-down set, and an intimate setting.”

 

“Partner - Honey” was directed by Lesley Marshall. “We tackled Penelope Spheeris’ “Wayne’s Word” and attempted to contain her epic rock tribute styles in our own way. I wanted to bring the humour of the movie and also its many parodies to tell a day in the life of the show and also add some layered surrealness.”

You can watch the 2021 ROFFEKE Official Selections here:

Monday, November 15, 2021

Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat”, LUWTEN’s “Sleeveless”, Metallica’s therapy and Therapeia by M.Q. Powell

Please 
Can I take a seat?
Frankly, I could use your company now
 - Sleeveless by LUWTEN 

Window seat 
Don’t want nobody next to me 
I just want a chance to fly 
A chance to cry 
- Window Seat by Erykah Badu 

The music video for Erykah Badu’s Window Seat ends with an assassination: “…Badu’s bare stroll is cut short by a sudden gun shot that appears to kill her instantly” writes Simon Vozick-Levinson in his article “Erykah Badu’s new ‘Window Seat’ video stirs controversy: Is the JFK imagery offensive?” 

The way the “Sleeveless” music video begins is rather similar to the “Window Seat” video ending. LUWTEN’s singer ricochets back and forth, to the rhythm of the four opening shots…I mean, beats. Then she implores us with jazzy, soulful vocals: 

Don’t call the police 
I know it must be strange 
To be seeing me there 

It must have been strange seeing Erykah Badu walking near the famous grassy knoll, shedding her clothes. “Indecent exposure” is a crime and it’s quite possible that someone who saw her slowly stripping must have thought of calling the police. Erykah Badu explained in a video that: “the nudity I think scares the nation as a whole or people in the world as a whole because we are taught nudity is bad. But what I learned is that when it was packaged the way I was with no high heel shoes or long hair or spinning around a pole…people have a hard time processing it when it’s not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. So they don’t know quite what to do with it or how to place or or what to say.” (Window Seat: Erykah Badu’s explanation” by Kalinda Productions, 2011

Sleeveless is “about letting go. You’ll literally see singer Tessa Douwstra wearing a large knitted sweater, that is getting unravelled - she’s getting Sleeveless.” 

 “The unravelling of a band? And then there were two?” asks Lars Ulrich, drummer of Metallica, in one of my favourite rockumentaries “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”

In a Psychology Today article by Hara Estroff Marano titled “Rock Around the Doc: Metallica in Therapy”, the more laid back member of Metallica, Kirk Hammett, revealed that: “along the way I got seduced by the mythology of being a rock star…I was a victim of that myth of being in a rock band for 15, 18, 20 years and having any sort of behaviour instantly justifiable….It became really empty. It was hurting my relationship with my wife. I got into a vicious cycle of wanting to medicate with more booze and drugs.” When Kirk stopped doing the destructive activities “ a lot of the depression went away. The therapy helped me see clearly why these things were happening to me.” 

Look for an unlocked door 
‘Cause there’s something I need to 
Talk about 
Just hear me out 
- Sleeveless by LUWTEN 

 Erykah Badu explained that metamorphosis can be scary: “peeling back layers of things we have learned and separating ourselves from the group is also horrifying because we are afraid of being ostracized and assassinated by the group, if we have our own thoughts and our own mind and our own will and our own direction…Groupthink is actually the term I was protesting.” 

 O, presently I’m standing 
Here right now 
You’re so demanding 
Tell me what you want from me
 - “Window Seat” by Erykah Badu 

Therapeia, directed by M.Q. Powell, begins with the main character standing by a window in her therapist’s office. “Clara Jordan (Marquita Goings), a smart, witty and beautiful business woman is faced with the challenge of her life; Her perfect storm marriage. In the quest to save her marriage with her hard working and ambitious husband, Bobby Jordan (Devin Robinson X), they seek out therapy to confront the very root of their never ending issue.” 

James Hetfield, frontman of Metallica admitted that: “There’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to give away our innermost fears - our big fear of intimacy. I still struggle with this every day. But I know this has the potential to help other bands and other people to just blow away that mystique of the rock idol who leads the perfect life.”

Watch "Sleeveless" by LUWTEN:

Monday, November 8, 2021

Clay Calloway of Sing 2 and Ellery Demarco of One-Hit Wonder (Directed by Amanda Dow)

One-Hit Wonder: “A cab driver takes a former pop star on a one way Twilight Zone-like ride.”

Together with Jane Petrov, Andie Ximenes produced “One-Hit Wonder” and also plays the main character, Ellery Demarco: “As a sci-fi, Twilight Zone–type short, featuring an original song, “Humma Humma Ding Dong,” composed just for the film, I believe that “One-Hit Wonder” will speak to both movie and music lovers, leaving them humming as they exit the theater and pondering what it means to be an artist.”

According to the Sing wiki: “Formerly a rock star legend, Clay isolated himself from the rest of the world after the death of his beloved wife. He later meets Buster Moon and his friends, who aim to persuade him to perform on stage again.” Director Garth Jennings talked about Bono playing Clay Calloway in Sing 2: “He plays this big, old lion called Clay Calloway who was a legendary rock star but has been a recluse for 15 years ever since his wife died. He has just vanished off the face of the Earth.” - New Sing 2 trailer: Director Garth Jennings on casting Bono and working through the pandemic (exclusive)

One-Hit wonder opens with the sound of applause. Emery appears, walking though what seems like the tunnel of a stadium but is probably just an alley. This scene is similar to the one in the Sing 2 trailer where Clay Calloway walks through a tunnel-like section on to the stage. This happens right after the crowd sings along to a U2 song, spearheaded by Scarlett Johansson’s character, Ash: “Johansson’s punk porcupine also comes back for the second film, playing a key role in coaxing Clay Calloway out of his reclusive state.”  

The U2 song is the anthemic “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”

“In Ayn Rand’s ‘Anthem’, the protagonist, Equality 7-2521, lives underground in a darkened tunnel. However, he emerges, possessing both the symbolic light of his intelligence and an actual light bulb….” - “The Symbolism of Tunnels in Literature" by Linda Emma. When Emery walks through the darkened passage, there is a point of light behind him and he smokes a cigarette. (Check out this article I wrote in 2016 about cigarettes and cinema.) 

Andie Ximenes and Florin Penisoara

Linda Emma notes that: “in the novel and movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” the tunnel represents the protagonist’s growth. The movie director, Stephen Chbosky, said that “the tunnel scene is a symbolic rebirth, whether people look at it as a spiritual rebirth or a coming of age.”

Amanda Dow’s Director Statement: “While the film has adversity, it’s about beginnings and a man wanting to find his way back to his love of music at any or all cost to his own. As the director of One-Hit Wonder, I wanted to provide a window into the collision of these worlds.”

 

Amanda Dow, director of One-Hit Wonder

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Interview: Max Sparber - one of the screenwriters of Tomi Thirteen

ROFFEKE: What inspired you two to write Tomi Thirteen?

Max Sparber: We've been working on one version of this script or another for a long time. I think the original idea, which has always been central to the story, was that in a post-apocalyptic future, even ordinary jobs would have to be superheroic. Once we settled on the story being set in a city contained inside an entire building, it seemed quite funny to us that the superintendent would have to be a literal superhero.

ROFFEKE: What are the benefits and challenges of working as a duo on one script?

Max Sparber: The benefits are that we have very different imaginations, and so the story is enriched by unexpected details and ideas. We work quite well together, so if we have any challenges it is that we have a lot more ideas than we have time for.

ROFFEKE: Max, you are in your 50s. What has been your screenwriting journey? How long have you been a screenwriter? Highest point so far? Lowest point so far?

Max Sparber: I have been a professional playwright for a long time, but have always wanted to pursue screenwriting. I only began to do it in earnest a few years ago, with my writing partner (and girlfriend) Coco Mault, and almost entirely through the festival circuit. It has been very rewarding -- at this moment we have won 18 contests and were flown out to Los Angeles to pitch a script at a number of different companies. Of course, it's much easier to write a screenplay than to get one produced, and so we are patient, knowing the process is slow, but it can be frustrating trying to attract the attention of agents and managers.

ROFFEKE: Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?

Max: Write the movie you would want to see. There is no way to predict what the market is going to be, or what scripts people are going to want to buy, but if you write something you care about, at least you will have done something that will have been worth doing even if it takes forever to get made.

ROFFEKE: What lessons did 2020 teach you?

Max: That it's important to pursue the things you care about, and to surround yourself with the people and projects that really move and interest you.

Check out Anime, Rock and Tomi Thirteen screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Anime, Rock and Tomi Thirteen screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault

“Whether you’re a die-hard Otaku (a young obsessed fan) or a total newbie to anime, there’s plenty of Japanese music to discover on Spotify.”

 EXT. OTAKUKING HIGH RISE - DAY 


 “In this anime-inspired half-hour comedy, set in a future in which all of humanity lives in giant arcologies protected by superheroes, a 13-year old hero must navigate life in junior high school while battling the superintelligent insect larva that has moved into the basement.” - Synopsis of “Tomi Thirteen”, a screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault. #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2021


  Watch Teaser of Tomi Thirteen screenplay. Music: “Miyagisama - The Haunted Dollhouse (Cinematic: Halloween, Creepy)" by MIYAGISAMA (from pixabay.com)

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Satire in Horror Films: The Case of “Witchin” - directed by Christina Diamantara

“Both comedy and horror are often viewed by critics and the general public as “low brow” genres with little social relevance and few redeeming qualities.” - Dr. David Gillota, associate professor of English at University of Wisconsin - Platevlle. 2019.

On October 3rd, 2019, Dr. Gillota participated in a forum that examined “how satire in horror films exposes systemic societal issues.” He provided an analysis of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and argued that this film “straddles the line between humor and horror in order to critique systemic racism and expose the hypocrisy of white liberalism.”

It can be argued that Christina Diamantara’s short film “Witchin” does straddle this humor-horror line so as to critique systemic patriarchy and expose the hypocrisy of sexism and misogyn. Pallavi Prasad outlines the difference between these three intertwined concepts in her article “The Difference Between Sexism and Misogyny, and Why It Matters": “If patriarchy is the overarching social organization in which men hold the power, and from which women are largely excluded, then misogyny and sexism are the two drivers that uphold this system. If patriarchy is the state with a capital S, the sexism is the ideology, the legislative pillar….Misogyny, then, is the method. It is both the executive and the judiciary, in that it enforces the ideology and reprimands where there is a breach of law. It is the hostile policing of those women who violate patriarchal norms and expectations, thereby setting a precedent for the cost of feminist transgression.”

In her Director Statement, Christina Diamantar highlights the fact that her film is about “a young idealistic witch, on her quirky-spells-and-pink-glitter-filled quest to find the notorious and elusive Big Dick Energy ingredient…” Although the story is set in “the world of fantasy and make-believe” Christina insists that her short film “is deeply rooted in human reality, and more so by the current social context that first inspired it.”

The Instagram hashtag #bigdickenergy is one of the elements that inspired “Witchin”. Christina finds that “this idea - that your confidence is as big as the size of your penis - is not only perpetuating a toxic interpretation of masculinity, but is also inevitably suggesting that, yet again, confidence is a male thing. I thought it would be funny to use this term as a physical ingredient - and in a way create a satirical metaphor about women who do all the right things, in terms of working towards their goals, only to realize that the  most important step for their success is to find some way to capture the essence of male privilege.”

Christina Diamantar - Director of "Witchin"

In her article titled “Standing Up: What Men Can do to counter systemic sexism in the office”, Liz Elting writes: “With privilege comes power, and there are so many ways you can use that power for good: speak up and call out sexism and misogyny amongst your peers, stand up for and champion women, point out when a woman colleague came up with a great idea (especially when credit is misatrributed to a man), hire and promote women, and the big one I’ll focus on today, opt out of boys’ clubs and fratty workplace culture.”

Here is the trailer for “Witchin” plus two insightful interviews where Christina further expounds on “Witchin” and her overall filmmaking journey and explains more about the secret ingredient BDE.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Interview with Teddy Gitau, Kirimi Kiage and Blake Simpson - Scriptwriters of "Tethered"

Teddy Gitau: You lecture scriptwriting at African Digital Media Institute. In what ways does teaching scriptwriting help you with your own scriptwriting?



Kirimi Kiage: You are the co-founder of Nyota Art Gallery. Tell us a bit about it and how being involved with it influences your storytelling?


Blake Simpson: You were born and raised in Seattle, Washington, spent 7 years in East Africa and are currently in Switzerland. What similarities in filmmaking or storytelling do you see in these three different regions?



What about your screenplay “Tethered” highlights the theme/concept of friendship, fun and/or freedom?

What lessons did 2020 teach you?

Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?

Watch the full interview here

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Interview: Egor Gavrilin - Director of The Bluestocking Music Video for "Never Ready"

ROFFEKE: I loved your interview on Shortcloseup.com so for this ROFFEKE interview, I would like to ask some follow-up questions:

In the interview, you mentioned that you directed a “part theatrical performance part radio play based on Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘Kaleidoscope’”. Please share some of your favourite memories/lessons you learned from that early directorial experience.

EGOR: Since it was my first case of consciously directing something there was a lot of mini observations and conclusions. But there was one main thing I realised:

The process and the product are two different universes.

A bit of context: in school we had this yearly event where every class would prepare a 15-20 minute theatrical piece. Officially it wasn’t a competition but in reality for a month the whole school turned into a Game of Thrones kind of ball of intrigues, treasons, plotting. Everybody spying on others and trying to figure out what they were preparing and do something for their piece to look better. And while everybody was so in this process of gossiping and doing small-time politics I was in my room at the computer trying to realise what the hell needs to be done to make this piece work. You know, directing stuff. And that contrast between the two “layers” of the process can be seen in all sorts of projects, no matter how big. People can get too excited by everything that happens “around” the production process (who wouldn’t be? it’s always such an exciting emotional rollercoaster) that quite often they forget that having an exciting time on set (or near it) does not equal making a great film (or anything, really). And you have to always be able to turn off all the side-effects of the process and look at the product with fresh eyes and see whether it’s working or not.

ROFFEKE: The first script of “The Bluestocking - Never Ready” was ditched. What were some elements/scenes that you loved about it?

EGOR: I loved the whole thing.

Short story long.

I am that kind of a director who can’t work on a music video without knowing and feeling the musician(s) first. I usually torture them with several-hour talks and then ask them hundreds of stupid questions in messengers (I start to draft ideas before all this but you can really see how they become better as I learn new things about the band and the song). And this first version of the script appeared from all those meetings and talks.

The story was a very dark tale set in a fantasy version of early XX century (think Tim Burton type setting but without any hint of humour). It was about a girl who went through hell in her childhood, then later became a showgirl superstar. When she fell in love with a man she couldn’t trust him and she started to have paranoid suspicions that he was going to hurt and betray her. The ending is as dark as you can imagine it. Visually it was a number of “static” scenes. The camera would fly through them, revealing details and telling the story through that. If you know the Spike Jonze’s 2-minute short “The New Normal” for MedMen – it’s pretty much how we wanted to do it.

That answers the question but I wanted to add a small P.S. to that.

After it became clear that the budget for realising that idea the way we wanted would be gigantic I had to start from scratch. Around that time the guys said “Hey, this is our debut video. Maybe let’s introduce ourselves to people, let’s make it about us”. That’s when all the torturous talks and my stupid questions came in handy: if I hadn’t gotten to know the guys enough I just wouldn’t be able to come up with the stories that you see in the video.

ROFFEKE: "Zero" hand-crafted all the Steampunk objects. What was your process of collaboration in bringing to life these objects? Were the objects part of the script or were they conceptualized independently? How long did it take to craft the objects? Which Steampunk influences did you refer to, if any?

EGOR: Some of the devices were in the script from the very beginning because they were essential for the stories (like, the saxophonist’s “charger”, the “head jukebox” and the camera with the built-in printing machine). Some objects appeared in the video just because “Zero” said “I also have this, do you want it?” and I went “Are you kidding?! This is even better than what I could ever think about!” That’s how the costumes for the two “guitar engineers” appeared, for example. 

Some of the “essential” objects were combinations of stuff that he already had but some had to be made from scratch (the “head jukebox”). Working with “Zero” was pretty easy. He is one of those guys who have a pretty solid style but at the same time great imagination and so it’s not a problem for him to think of something outlandish and you always know it will look awesome.

However, there was a moment when it backfired a little bit. When I briefed “Zero” I described the saxophonist’s charger as a rusty “infinite engine” (that’s what these wiggly things are called in Russia’s toy stores) and it seemed clear to him and it was probably the easiest thing to make from the whole list. But on the day of the shoot he brought the device he made – and it was a totally different thing altogether. It looked great but it was not doing what it’s supposed to do (which is move on its own and “create” energy this way). Turned out “Zero” didn’t know what “infinite engine” was and just came up with one (it’s not his fault, of course; it was my problem that I didn’t make it clear enough during the briefing). So we ended up not having a vital prop on the day of the shoot. So some people from the producers’ team went and bought a couple of those wiggly “infinite engines” and made them look rusty on the set.

I think all in all “Zero” spent several days crafting the things for us. He works pretty fast. As for references I think mine were “The city of lost children” and a little bit of “Brazil” but like I said, “Zero” had a pretty solid style he works in. So mostly he was his own stylistic reference.

ROFFEKE: You mentioned that your social anxiety could be a reason that you are a “terrible festival person”. What advice would you offer a new filmmaker who struggles with social anxiety?

EGOR: I have two opposite options for advice here.

Option #1: I don’t remember who said it but here goes: “Make your work so good that they can’t ignore you” and so you won’t have to approach anyone. The downside of this advice is that even if your work is bloody amazing you would still achieve a lot more with it if you socialized and networked. So I guess you will still need to consider option #2.

Option #2 is very tactical: Try starting the conversation by admitting that you are anxious but you want to talk to the person so much that you overcame it. Usually that opens people up. Also, if there are specific people you want to talk to, research is your friend. Find out as much as you can about them and you will not run out of things to talk about.


ROFFEKE: 2020 was a tumultuous year for most of us. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

EGOR: 2020 was indeed a year of lessons. Most of them were tragic because of all the lives that were lost. But there was one observation of a less tragic kind that I couldn’t help but make:

Humans are a lot less in control of themselves than they think they are.

During the pandemic there was quite a number of small human “side effects”. Like, for example, there was a couple of months in the beginning of the year when everybody (not sure about other countries but in Russia it was pretty common) became really mean to people who looked Asian (up to not allowing them to enter places) because everybody heard something about a disease spreading in China. I won’t comment on stupidity of such behaviour but what’s really sad is how people are prone to using very little information and not questioning the conclusions they’re making from it. Or the paradoxical situation where Russia was producing the vaccine, it was free for everybody to have but nobody was signing up for vaccination. And when you ask people why, they give you some vague answers like “I’m not sure about it” which make no sense at all.

It’s clear that these “mind glitches” happen because people just don’t know how to deal with a situation like that and their autopilots don’t have a suitable program for it. Which is fascinating and at the same time extremely scary to observe.


Check out the fascinating and extremely entertaining music video for "Never Ready" a song by The Bluestocking.

Director's Statement:

Since the music video was the band's debut, we set ourselves the task of introducing people to the band from the very beginning. But this acquaintance had to be not simple, but, first of all, very personal, and secondly, made in a style that would correspond to the unique sound of the band as much as possible. Each story turned out not only about the band members, but also about the universal, big problems that people face in life or bring upon themselves: addiction, burnout, dependence on other people's opinions. So the music video turned out to be fabulous, but also a very dark warning about how easy it is to lose yourself by submitting to your inner urges, even if they are very sincere.

Director Bio:

Egor Gavrilin was born on 15.12.1987 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In 2010 graduated from Moscow State University of Culture and Arts as a director.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Outcast Kid, Tom Morello and Politics

 “When I first moved to Hollywood, I thought I was going to rule the Sunset Strip with my heavy metal guitar licks…that didn’t work out. Nobody really wanted me. My hair wasn’t right, my skin wasn’t right…” - Tom Morello in “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell”

“If a Greek can be an outcast in this day and age, what are the chances for those from Syria? We are shown what it is like to be an outsider; being picked on, having to constantly prove yourself, the constant reminder that you are not like everyone. The theme resonates with every kid who was always picked on for being different from the rest, resonates with that third world country never taken serious by the 'super  power' country. Shout out to those parents and relatives who listen and offer advise for such situations.” - Review by Love Kassim.

“I was finally accepted by the East Side rocking community which is bands like Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Imagine my surprise…I grew up in a really stultifying, conservative suburb of Chicago and I went to an Ivy League school [Harvard] and all of a sudden my best friends were all drug addicts and prostitutes, who, many of them had a heart of gold. They accepted me when others did not.”

“The film talks about a half nationality [dual nationality] boy who has to deal with two sides of a coin, being half Greek and half Romanian. I liked that it addresses social issues as we see them, tribalism, ethnicity, religion, racism, and the fact that the young boy feels torn in between. It has addressed a multitude of issues that are overlooked and the issue of bullying is heavily seen here.  What l didn't like was the inclusion of politics that is hard to understand for the young boy.” - Review by Inez.

W. Kamau Bell: Why do you think it’s important for artists to be connected to social movements?”

Tom Morello: An artist’s only responsibility is to be true to themselves. If you do have convictions in the political arena then you shouldn’t divorce them from your vocation.”

Tom Morello's segment is from minute 13:40.

The Outcast Kid trailer.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mike Messier: Lessons from 2020, New novel, Screenwriting versus Novel writing

ROFFEKE Alumnus Mike Messier shares what he's been up to and the lessons he learned from 2020.

 1. What is your novel about and what makes it stand out?

"A Distance from Avalon: when the dying and the dead reunite" is about a school teacher named Joe and his co-worker named Shadow who find themselves at a mysterious, gothic castle on Halloween night hosted by the enigmatic Jean La Croix Distance and his lover Heartbreak. As the night unfolds, the hosts are able to pry emotional secrets from their guests in what seems like genuine bonding and friendship but is ultimately revealed as a more nefarious tactic to gain their trust. I'd like to think that the dialogue of the piece and unique paragraph structure stand out as well as the cover art by my collaborator Nazar Germanov. 

2. What did you like about the process of writing the novel and what did you find challenging?

Writing in the novel format definitely has more freedom in terms of length of paragraphs, structure, page count etc. Also, there were no deadlines on me for this project, since I wrote and self-published it on Amazon on my own terms.  The book can be purchased on kindle or paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SQ6SQ48?ref_=k4w_oembed_S4vCSZx87c64LC&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

3. What's the difference between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?

A big difference is that feature film screenplays have certain understood "expectations"  that become part of the mix for a writer. "By page twelve, there should be an inciting incident", "no scene should be longer than two pages" etc are some of the lessons learned in screenwriting classes and through books that become part of the "mental fabric" of a screenwriter's mind. When writing a screenplay, there is also a running dialogue of "can this idea be actually filmed?"  and "Am I writing a script that can be filmed on a budget?" type questions.  When writing a screenplay, there is usually not a guarantee that the script itself will ever be filmed, so there is a sense of uncertainty if the writing efforts are in vain or not.  Freeing myself from those constraints and concerns in writing this novel was a welcomed change of pace. 

4. Any other new projects?

I have been working a lot on my YouTube Channel during the pandemic, doing road trip videos, Mike's Instant Movie Reviews, Pro Wrestling rants,   interviews including "This Podcast Cures Racism", and more. People can subscribe from this link:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSx8RE_a4Nh_Fq-BpUq7ghw

As far as writing, I'm working on the second of  A Distance from Avalon  trilogy right now! The cover art is already ready, now it's up to me to do the writing! 

I also worked with my friend Aaron Woodson on an "urban romance" feature film script titled Aaliyah and Troy, more info can be found here: https://mikemessier.com/2021/01/27/aaliyah-and-troy/

 I recently did some acting in a couple of films, both of which directed by my friend Tom DeNucci. One of them titled "The Mick and the Trick" is a fun action film shot in Pennsylvania in October, 2020. Info here: https://mikemessier.com/2020/11/26/mikes-road-trip/

Federico Castelluccio and Mike Messier on The Mick and The Trick set

I chronicled my road trip up there for "Subscribe to Mike Messier YouTube Channel" . I have also been tweaking and improving a lot of my feature film scripts including American Luchador: The Dream of Lobo Fuego and Also Ran, my prison drama.

5. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

The lesson from 2020 is that time is short for all of us and if any of us want to "make a dent in the universe", then it's best to get going soon because we are not guaranteed another fifty, thirty, ten or even five years on this earth. We must do what we can to make our goals into realities before we are dead, because if we end up in that shallow grave with things still on our "things to do list" , well, then it will be too late! 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

International Women's Day: Spotlight on ROFFEKE Interns, Reviewers and "Clara"

Tomorrow, 8th March, is International Women's Day. ROFFEKE salutes all women, including ROFFEKE former interns Josephine Koima and Lesley Gakuo and current ROFFEKE reviewers Love Kassim and Inez Inās.

Below is Inez's review of  the rockumentary"Clara":

Hi I'm Inez writing a review on "Clara" a short film by Benjamin Montel.

What impressed me was the content; the narrator is very insightful and the other characters are quite interesting. 

What l liked about the video is the rawness with which she talks about about her feelings, her deepest desires, her fears, and how she wants to impact others; it's how she said that she wants to create what her father didn't create, it's the love and support of her family especially with the gold album. It's the loneliness and sadness that you could see in her eyes, her strength and how she feels her handiwork finally paid off. The fact that she wants to talk about women and the sensuality involved without being erotic and without putting sexuality in it, that was beautiful. 

(Watch the CLARA Trailer.)

What l did not like about the video is the translation; it was left out in some places. The lighting of the video felt gloomy and sad and lost, also the people surrounding her, they felt aloof and did not care about her, the feeling that she feels lonely even in a sea of people, the people around did not celebrate her achievement, but her family loved her achievements. 

It reminded me of my favourite boyband BTS because in a way the boys also feel lost and lonely after concerts and also the emotions and fears that are faced by many artists without then knowing if the audience will love the performance and the music. It puts into perspective that each artist has to top the next song higher than the other hit. The army audience when they decide to sing along that feeling that the boys feel is the one l believe she felt herself when she came off the stage the first time. 

(Watch BTS' version of Coldplay's "Fix You")

ROFFEKE wishes all women a happy International Women's Day!


Monday, January 11, 2021

Reviews: Tired Eyes (Written and Directed by Ryan Martin Brown)

As someone who is "schlepping" a small rock 'n' roll film festival in a less than conducive environment, I could totally relate to Tired Eyes (directed by Ryan Martin Brown). I can see the utter ridiculousness of it all...and also the utter importance of it. 

Overview

"Rose, Mitch, and Trevor make up the lo-fi rock band Tired Eyes. The trio have a small gig tonight, which means schlepping gear from a cramped practice space in Brooklyn to the middle of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the city has a way of making even the simplest of tasks absurdly difficult."

'A snapshot of people you know... [it] questions the purpose of art in a way that I found very moving.'

- Antonio Mendez-Esparza, Cassavetes Award Winner

'Perfectly captures the chaos and madness of New York, and the hustle of trying to get something off the ground.'

- Kentucker Audley, NoBudge.com


Reviewer: Love Kassim

This video shows what most, if not all, bands go through right before a gig and I think such hustles stem much of their writing.

Of course they are late and have to beg for a chance to play.

I can only imagine how long it took to set up.

Makes you wonder what kind of situation musicians go through right before and even after a show.

They are surprisingly good.

Set is done and they have to find a way back home.

Their band name is fitting after the day they just had: Tired Eyes.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that it is relatable and peaceful. l liked that it was funny and showed what happens everyday in life when you are not organized. The music was calm yet it showed confusion. l did not like how the scenes were short and how the characters were quite insensitive to their neighbors; they simply were in their own cocoon plus they were rude. The film reminded me of some of the fun, laid back comedy movies l have watched; the characters usually are petty but fun, eg Love Rosie, it showed her love life and the effects of not telling your love before, but it ended well.

Love Kassim: Side bar, can I find this band on YouTube, check out their music or they were just actors?

ROFFEKE: They were actors 😊

"Mitch" - Steven Carter

"Rose" - Emily DeForest

"Trevor" - Cecil Jennings

Writer/Director - Ryan Martin Brown

Producer - Paula Andrea Gonzalez-Nasser

Reviews: Vices (A poem by Matt Wohlfarth, performed by John Vento)

 Reviewer: Love Kassim

My first instinct after hearing that poem was switching off my phone and going off grid😂

Vices is a poem that enumerates how the powers in play use mass deception, rather mass psychology, to control, influence, manipulate and persuade the masses.

This machinery uses vices, for example, devices that get you hooked and before you know it you can't live without them.

Misinformation is peddled and Propaganda is peddled to whoever will take an interest.

Internet memes for example are one of the latest revolutions on spreading propaganda and are an effective tool in the arsenal of digital persuasion.

Whatever we are fed by the powers at play influence how we think and conduct ourselves and it's time we woke up and saw reality for what it is.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that the poem is deep and rugged. l liked the catchy visuals, the sound being both commanding and soothing; the use of black invoked the feelings of a dark world and the poet's voice is seductive as if he has a secret. l did not like that some visuals seem to take us back in time instead of the current era, the vagueness of the poem and the feeling of guilt evoked. Reminds me of how we have come to see and believe everything that we see without question and how the big fish are manipulating the small fish figuratively.

Directed by Jim Pitulski. Watch "Vices" here 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

This Day on Kenya Rocks: January 7th, 2008

Jan 7, 2008 

hey happy new year to u too the start of the year hasnt been too good but im sure we can improve that maybe we can do a rock blood drain drive to give blood to the red cross guys or have a rock 4 peace concert i mean aint rock all about the love?

- Kenya Rocks yahoo group member.

My reply:

Jan 7, 2008 

Great ideas! We can do both. Right now we are organizing a ‘Kenya Live Aid’ show to collect food,clothes etc. To be held on the 20th of January. Maybe we can do the rock blood drain and rock 4 peace concert in February? Organizing is the real headache. Could you or anyone else in Kenya Rocks volunteer to be in charge of these two projects?  And yes, rock is all about the love. Yesterday I was doubting this but after reading all the ‘proposal’ emails posted here, I believe! I believe!:-)  Oh and we should definitely have a New Year’s show. To make up for the awful way we started the new year. Maybe in March?:-)



Shiku and I are in the process of organizing... Entry fee will be food, clothes, bottled water, medicine…anything to help the victims of the post-election violence. Who else is with us?