Next Book Project Announced: Nothing Too Personal: The Life and Films of Henry Jaglom


PRESS RELEASE [November 19, 2017]: While Daniel Kremer edits both his seventh feature-length film, Overwhelm the Sky (due in summer 2018), and his second book Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester Street to Hollywood (due in early 2019 from Oxford University Press), he has started researching Nothing Too Personal: The Life and Films of Henry Jaglom, the first book on the American independent cinema icon behind such art-house hits as Eating (1990), Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (1983), Tracks (1976), Always But Not Forever (1985), Someone to Love (1987), and many others. Kremer and Jaglom (pictured above) just completed their first round of taping sessions in Los Angeles, and accumulated over 20 hours of recorded material. The two have known each other close to fourteen years, and both are very excited about the project.

The book will feature never-before-reported stories involving legends like Judy Garland, Ingrid Bergman, Marilyn Monroe, Lee Strasberg, Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, James Mason, Abbie Hoffman, Huey Newton, and countless others.

Kremer's film Ezer Kenegdo (co-directed with Deniz Demirer) went into release earlier in November after its world premiere at the prestigious Joseph Conrad Festival in Krakow, Poland. It is now touring international film festivals.

Shooting will soon re-commence on his biographical documentary Sidney J. Furie: Fire Up the Carousel! (due in 2019) after a year-long hiatus; Furie is now gearing up for the production of his next film, Hannah Cohen, a Holocaust story set throughout Israel. Kremer will be there to capture it all and hereby enhance his in-depth cinematic portrait of one of his favorite directors, a veteran embarking on perhaps the most important film of a 60+-year career.

With film historian Howard S. Berger, Kremer recently provided a full-length commentary track for the Kino Lorber Studio Classics DVD/Blu-Ray release of Furie's The Taking of Beverly Hills (1991). More details here. It is a rather curious but fun-fun-fun track that covers a misbegotten entry from Furie's later-career tenure as an action director.


Kremer will also be starting pre-production on his eighth feature film Even Just in December. The film will star Joseph Badra (making his film debut), Penny Werner, and Carol Carbone. The film (possibly a musical, wink wink) tells the story of Jerry J. Garanyan, an ambulance-chasing lawyer, who lapses into a deep depression after he is scammed out of his retirement savings. His intense love of W.C. Fields, of whom he does impersonations, and his commitment to both his mixed-up half-sister Karen, who is going deaf and learning sign language, and their infirm 90-something Russian father, is the only thing keeping him from suicide. When he becomes aware that he has a tooth abscess, something that could kill him if he doesn't get it quickly treated, he decides to take his chances.

Overwhelm the Sky now has a teaser. Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015), which Kremer and ConFluence-Film released in 2015, now has a post-release trailer.

Decorative Letterboxing, Squeezeplay, and Pan-and-Scan

A note on "decorative letterboxing" and early border-boxing in old studio film transfers, from a salty, seasoned analog format hound:

There were many ways of coping with anamorphic (panoramic widescreen) screen-size in the VHS and pre-VHS era. Paramount was quite gone of "decorative letterboxing" (see the upper left-hand screen capture from an old broadcast of Sid Furie's Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York; in this example, they clearly didn't measure top and bottom frame evenly).  I have an old VHS of Chinatown back in Pittsburgh that uses a similar Paramount decorative letterboxing, except green with "Oriental" design.

It was rare for a video presentation to be fully letterboxed in those days -- Woody Allen's Manhattan was the first, I believe (the letterbox bars were a shade of light gray vs. the usual black). It was, however, often only deployed during opening and closing credits sequences that used the entire screen width.

Universal seemed to prefer colored, gently bordered letterboxing, as seen in the upper center screen capture from Ron Winston's soapy golf-club epic Banning (1967), starring Robert Wagner, Anjanette Comer, Jill St. John, and a pre-fame Gene Hackman. Some foreign-language titles, like Claude Fournier's Deux femmes en or (1970), bottom left, used something similar.

MGM didn't much care for letterboxing then. As seen in the old transfer of Jerry Schatzberg's Sweet Revenge (1976), bottom center, they seem to have no compunction about cropping to cut off names in the credits. In this particular bizarre example, they pan across the width of the text. MGM's pan-and-scanning was often the weirdest; their scanning moves feel nervous and very odd. I remember two old MGM VHS transfers of Soylent Green, Westworld, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (all 1973) where this holds true.

Both Fox (then Magnetic Video, CBS/Fox, Key Video, or Playhouse) and Disney preferred the "squeeze method," as seen in the upper right screen capture of The Swiss Family Robinson (1960). My old tapes of The Robe (1953) and The Big Fisherman (1959), both big CinemaScope Biblical epics, feature some fantastic "squeezeplay," but Swiss Family Robinson is the only one I had handy. My Robe is a two-tape set (for a 135-minute picture -- anything over two hours was put on two cassettes in those early days).
I remember some Columbia/Tristar transfers in the 90's in which the scanning moves were in serious need of "Video Dramamine"; they would blur the motion with impunity, giving the feeling of motion sickness. Ghostbusters (1984) and Multiplicity (1996) leap to mind in this case.

Then, there is border-boxing for non-anamorphic titles, as seen in the screen capture from Ivan Nagy's Deadly Hero (1975), distributed on Embassy Home Video. Who knows why they opted for this? Did they just think it looked cool?

Charles B. Pierce: Portrait of an Arkansas Maverick

On April 17, Filmmaker Magazine ran my lengthy piece on Arkansas regional filmmaker Charles B. Pierce (1938-2010), director of The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Winterhawk (1975), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976), Grayeagle (1977), and many others.  Placing Pierce's films within a larger context of American regional filmmaking old and new, I consider the potential impact of such endeavors and how Pierce realized the "art of the possible" with his films.

Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015) and Sophisticated Acquintance (2007) Now Available on Fandor!

Daniel Kremer's films Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015) and Sophisticated Acquaintance (2007) premiered on Fandor on Friday, March 24, 2017.  They are now available to stream and view.  The films premiered on the site the same day as Richard Linklater's Slacker (1991).

The films will also be available to stream on Amazon.com in one week's time.  Kremer's other Fandor titles (The Idiotmaker's Gravity Tour, A Simple Game of Catch, A Trip to Swadades) are currently available to view on Amazon Streaming.

Says independent cinema icon Rob Nilsson, "Sophisticated Acquaintance is my favorite Daniel Kremer film. Considering his young but already distinguished career, that is really saying something. It's smart, well-performed and innovative, and lets you know that, as a filmmaker, he is for real. He makes films right now and out of thin air. While others try to raise money for a film and complain, Kremer raises a few dollars, makes two films, writes a book and gives thanks. He's unstoppable...and on his way up!"

This is the first time Sophisticated Acquaintance (2007) has been publicly shown in its ten-year history. The lo-fi feature, shot on consumer-grade mini-DV, is a hybrid of essay-film, pseudo-documentary, avant-garde, and melodrama, inspired by Ken Russell's early BBC biopics, as well as Peter Watkins' masterpiece Edvard Munch (1973). Kremer began shooting it as his first feature-length film in 2006. In 2007, he shelved an early cut of it, only to finally finish it ten years later in May 2016.

It is the Internet debut for Raise Your Kids on Seltzer.

A Sudden Burst of Activity and Publicity

A still from Daniel Kremer's untitled seventh feature film, currently shooting.

Daniel Kremer was recently profiled in a piece for CineSource Magazine.  He discusses his various endeavors in filmmaking and film writing.  Subjects of conversation include: the approaching spring festival release of Ezer Kenegdo (2017), the ten years it took to finally complete Sophisticated Acquaintance (2007), and the renewed efforts to promote Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015).

Bricolage Films, the seven-person San Francisco Bay Area filmmaking collective that Kremer helped spearhead, now has a website.  Doniphan Blair is writing a piece for CineSource covering the group's efforts; it is to run in February.

Kremer was also interviewed about his book Sidney J. Furie: Life and Films for Paul Rowlands's cinema blog Money Into Light.  Read part one and part two.

This past month, critic/essayist Julie Kirgo and Oscar nominated documentarian Nick Redman conscripted Kremer -- as Joan Micklin Silver's biographer -- to provide an essay for the upcoming Twilight Time Blu Ray release of Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979). The piece is comprised largely extracts from the book-in-progress Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester Street to Hollywood.  You can read part one, part two, and part three online.  Kremer plans to finish the first draft of his manuscript in the summer of 2017.

Kremer was also interviewed on Microbudget Film Lab.  You can watch that video interview here.

He also continues to work on the Susan Sontag on Cinema collection with Tom Luddy and David Thomson.

On April 17, Filmmaker Magazine ran my lengthy piece on Arkansas regional filmmaker Charles B. Pierce (1938-2010), director of The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Winterhawk (1975), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976), Grayeagle (1977), and many others.  Placing Pierce's films within a larger context of American regional filmmaking old and new, I consider the potential impact of such endeavors and how Pierce realized the "art of the possible" with his films.

On February 7, Kremer guest-hosts a Projection Booth podcast on Jerry Schatzberg's masterpiece Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970).  The show features new interviews with Schatzberg and the film's male lead, Barry Primus.  The following week, on February 14, he guest-hosts an episode on Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979).  Interviewees include Joan Micklin Silver, John Heard, Griffin Dunne, and producer Amy Robinson.  These shows will mark Kremer's third and fourth guest appearances on the show, following episodes on Sidney J. Furie's Hit! (1973) and The Entity (1982).

Kremer and cinematographer Aaron Hollander are hard at work shooting a new microbudget feature film throughout San Francisco, lensed in black-and-white and based on an obscure American novel from 1799.  The film stars Alexander Hero, Ravi Valleti, Raul Delarosa, Randall Zielinski, Catherine Lerza, Tiziana Perinotti, Penny Werner, Lionel Desai, Lindsay Fishkin, and Kris Calagirone.  Kremer also appears in a supporting role in indie film icon Rob Nilsson's latest feature drama The Fourth Movement, currently shooting.

The Toronto Film Review approached Kremer to provide a list of his Top 100 Canadian Films. The Toronto International Film Festival director Piers Handling, Cinematheque Quebecois director Marcel Jean, leading Canadian film scholar Yves Lever, and other key figures provided their own lists for this review.

Kremer also published pieces in Filmmaker Magazine and Keyframe on the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Sidney J. Furie's A Cool Sound from Hell (1959) and his efforts to "evangelize" Sidney J. Furie's tragically underrated and often forgotten body of work.



Kremer's Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015) has scored excellent reviews at Unsung Films, IndyRed, Rogue Cinema, and other review sites.  Some key excerpts:

"From the beginning, the viewer finds himself piecing everything together slowly but with great eagerness. The director, Daniel Kremer, feeds in small doses of coherence until the picture is wholly clear. The stunning naturalness of the dialogue, the actors, the quiet poignancy of each scene, allows us to approach the film as though it were a dense novel. What is wholly clear from the beginning, however, is that the story unraveling is one that deals with an array of profound issues – Daniel Kremer opens his film on a Borges quote, 'To fall in love is to start a religion that has a fallible god' and an interview of an attorney being questioned on the cult of his defendant. Scenes shift with perfect fluidity. There are moments of extraordinary storytelling in this film, and the talent of the actors to make us believe them is abundant."
   -Theo Alexander, Unsung Films

"[It] gives any larger budgeted counterparts a run for their money. Let the odd name make you stop and look, but let the quality keep you in your seat. Technically, there really isn't much to complain about here. Raise Your Kids On Seltzer generally offers up some nice visual candy. As far as indie productions go, I reiterate, some more budget heavy productions I've seen simply don't stack up to what's presented here. This is all pieced together with a very slick edit that keeps the narrative flowing nicely, while showcasing the best aspects. What are they? For me it was a no brainer...the cast of course! Never did I feel like I was watching a scripted film. Would I recommend it? Yes. I would even go as far as to say I would buy myself a DVD."
   -IndyRed
"The heart of the film exists in the naturalistic dialogue and domestic details painted by Penny Werner and Jeff Kao. They make amazing choices with their characters and the collaborative writing process yields very specific moments. The scenes between them crackle with authentic intimacy. They play the married couple as complex individuals who are genuinely curious about each other and their dreams. While Raise Your Kids on Seltzer is an ambitious and sometimes unwieldy effort, it is grounded by strong editing, solid 2.35:1 cinematography, and most importantly by the profoundly moving performances."
   -Paul Busetti, Rogue Cinema 

"There is self-assurance to the direction. The relationship between Terry and Tessa is strained and feels it, sometimes almost too well; one feels that awkward moment at a party when a couple snipe just a little too personally at one another. While that may make the viewer feel a little bit put off, that’s as it should be; if you’re going to make a movie about a relationship that is strained, the viewer should feel that strain as well. Penny Werner is mainly at the front and center as the emotional focus of the film. Werner is outgoing and an open book in many ways. Her Tessa is the kind of Jewish woman that makes the world a better place; she’s funny, pretty and pragmatic."
   -Carlos deVillalvilla, Cinema365



Daniel Kremer's films Raise Your Kids on Seltzer (2015) and Sophisticated Acquaintance (2007) premiered on Fandor on Friday, March 24, 2017.  They are now available to stream and view.  The films premiered on the site the same day as Richard Linklater's Slacker (1991).

The films will also soon be available to stream on Amazon.com.  Kremer's other Fandor titles (The Idiotmaker's Gravity Tour, A Simple Game of Catch, A Trip to Swadades) are currently available to view on Amazon Streaming. 

Says independent cinema icon Rob Nilsson, "Sophisticated Acquaintance is my favorite Daniel Kremer film. Considering his young but already distinguished career, that is really saying something. It's smart, well-performed and innovative, and lets you know that, as a filmmaker, he is for real. He makes films right now and out of thin air. While others try to raise money for a film and complain, Kremer raises a few dollars, makes two films, writes a book and gives thanks. He's unstoppable...and on his way up!"

This is the first time Sophisticated Acquaintance (2007) has been publicly shown in its ten-year history. The lo-fi feature, shot on consumer-grade mini-DV, is a hybrid of essay-film, pseudo-documentary, avant-garde, and melodrama, inspired by Ken Russell's early BBC biopics, as well as Peter Watkins' masterpiece Edvard Munch (1973). Kremer began shooting it as his first feature-length film in 2006. In 2007, he shelved an early cut of it, only to finally finish it ten years later in May 2016.

It is the Internet debut for Raise Your Kids on Seltzer