Wednesday, December 16, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 5: William S. Burroughs- The Junky's Christmas

Old Bull Lee
William S. Burroughs:
There are only a few select writers on the planet that I would rather listen to than read, and William S. Burroughs is among that group. Even though you unmistakably hear his voice when you're reading, there's something magical about the old man's flat tone and creaking, crotchety voice that adds a layer of ambiance that augments his written word so perfectly. Though his voice did age like a fine whiskey, he was born an old soul who Kerouac described as "...a gray, nondescript-looking fellow you wouldn't notice on the street unless you looked closer and saw his mad, bony skull..." Burroughs was only 43 years old when that description of him was published in 1957's On The Road.

Spare Ass Annie
The best capture (or at least my favorite) of his unmistakable voice was on the 1993 album, Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. On it, he recorded many of his short stories from miscellaneous books through the years put to a backing tracks by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. One of the most notable of these tracks was "The Junky's Christmas", a short story from his 1989 book Interzone. The story is all about a junky named Danny who is released from jail on Christmas day and is attempting to find his fix. After searching the entire city, he dupes a doctor and gets a small dose via a pill. As he returns to a hotel to shoot up, he instead discovers a kid going through kidney stones in agony and shoots him up instead. It's a beautifully twisted little story about choosing humanity over your own addictions.

Junky's Christmas Short Film:
The story combined with music and Burroughs' amazing narration was so brilliant in fact that Zoetrope Pictures (Francis Ford Coppola's company) and VH1 teamed up to turn it into a narrative, short film. The film was done as claymation with live action bookends where Burroughs pulls Interzone off the shelf and effectively reads you the tale on Christmas day with his friends and family. It was aired on VH1 (presumably as part of a Christmas lineup) and was eventually released via Koch Vision in 2006 on a long out-of-print DVD.

The problem with the DVD release is that it sucks. The claymation footage is presented as interlaced and in the wrong aspect ratio. This is unfortunately a normal result of mixed media presentations on DVD. It's hard to say exactly who's fault this is, but generally it results when the disc image is being designed immediately before being delivered to the factory. Additionally there are sections where Danny's collar has a moire effect going on due to the crosshatching on his coat. This is more than likely accentuated due to the project being edited on tape rather than on film.

This Release:
RestoredSo in order to fix this, I downloaded an ISO, disc-image capture of the film from the ever-amazing Uncle Jerk (who's post about this movie is the reason I'm writing this blog, thanks Jerk!). I popped it into Premiere CC, upscaled it and cut the movie apart from it's live action bits. I deinterlaced the claymation, stretched it out from its wrong aspect ratio into the correct 4:3 dimension. To remove the moire effect I desaturated all sections of the movie that didn't have color, and I snapped the blacks to a reasonable number in order to remove some of the DVD's digital artifacts. This is likely the best version that will ever be made available unless the original authors return to the original tape captures of the material.

*If you have a keen eye, you may notice that the claymation footage still has ghosting (blended frames) but after experimenting with several different frame rates to attempt to solve the problem, I consulted my friend Ian about it. After reviewing the credits at the end (which will show you if the image is skipping, repeating, or blending frames), it is undeniable that this project was created with them as either purposeful, or that they are baked in and cannot be removed without very tedious work.

Final Thought:
Amazing Claymation Work
If you dig this little gem, go and buy the album "Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales" because it's pure gold. Also, if you dug this (I don't know how widely available it is for purchase), grab Burroughs' audio-book of "Junky", you won't regret it. The point is, this isn't meant to compete with being able to purchase an artist's work, merely to make available things that are rare or out-of-print that should be experienced by anyone that loves his work. Either stream it from YouTube, or download it at the link provided below in h265 (be sure to be running the latest version of a decent player like VLC).

So here you go, one of the best holiday specials ever made for those of us a little off that beaten path. Enjoy!

h265 link (Right Click, Save As)


The cinematographer of this project, Simon Higgins, was kind enough to write in (see below in the comments) and add to the available information about this wonderful project! Thanks!

I was the cinematographer on the claymation component of this project. You've done a pretty decent job of restoring it. Great to see it looking like the original after so many years.

It was shot on Bolex cameras colour standard 16mm Kodak film stock, aka (7298) 100ASA, in the late spring/summer of Sydney,Australia 1993. The production design was almost entirely monochrome and the remaining colour was removed in the film to tape (telecine).

It was mastered on PAL video, that's just 576 pixels tall at a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and I guess that's what probably got transferred to VHS and eventually to DVD. A 16mm film print was also struck from the PAL video master and it toured the world film festival circuit for quite a few years and was lucky enough to attract some critical acclaim. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Free Download of To No End's Music Video "Twisted Knives" in 4k

Michael Parks
Playing Under Projection
My buddy Nick Dellaposta and I go back, way back. Matter of fact we were in our first band together, *Adorn. Before the dawn of the internet, you either had to sink money into a proper 4-track recording system, or you had to get inventive... we chose the latter. Desperate to record, I discovered that if I cut apart my guitar cable and twisted the ends together with an RCA cable that I was able to record the instrument with my mothers Aiwa cassette deck. Moreover, if I did this while "dubbing" a previously recorded cassette, I could effectively create a makeshift multi-track recording. About three times a week Nick would make the three mile walk to my house and we would record demos together into the homemade system. I cannot overly-express the genuine happiness that arises in me by bragging that despite two thousand, one hundred and eighty miles between us and fifteen years having passed, we're still collaborating on art with one another.

*I use the term band loosely as we never played a single show... or even had a drummer.

Nick Dellaposta and Josh Roush
Nick and I
About a year ago I got a drunken text message from Nick as I was watching a movie. I ignored it and several thereafter, but upon my phone beeping for the 6th time I read it. He had just written a new song and wanted me to listen to it. Fine. I walked into the kitchen and listened to the song he had just recorded directly into his phone. There is no other way to put it, I cried. My longtime friend had written a song about my life and the craziness I have been through and it moved me to no end. Flash forward to a year later and Nick again hit me up. This time it was to direct the music video for the song based on my life. At first I laughed, after all, the idea of someone directing a song about themselves is pretty far up it's own ass, but after some thought, I agreed on one condition: We had to kill the main character in the music video. We all die, but how many of us have had the chance to direct our own death? When Nick asked who we could get to play such a role, I immediately thought of my good friend, Michael Parks.

Michael Parks Josh Roush Nick Dellaposta
Nick, Parks, and I.
I first met Michael Parks (from Kill Bill, Dusk Till Dawn, Then Came Bronson, etc) during the shooting of Kevin Smith's film Tusk. After a few days on set, it became evident that Parks needed an assistant to help him on set with mundane tasks and Kevin assigned me to be that person. Believe it or not, the first few interactions between the green-haired punk-rocker and the grumpy old man were a bit awkward. However, over the course of a few days we discovered a mutual admiration of cinema and music and formed a kinship that continues to this day.

Matt Rowbottom
Matt's account of the music
video is great.
So with the concept and the talent taken care of, I needed a crew. I'm lucky enough in this life to have a group of insanely talented folks in the same industry who all share common interests, thus I hit up my friends Andrew Heaberlin and Matt Rowbottom. Andrew is a badass cinematographer from Kentucky who has done everything from his own short-film Let It Be War to being an Executive-Producer on Yoga Hosers. Matt on the other hand is the behind-the-scenes producing talent who just finished his new project Going Dark: A Sith Story, starring Darren Hayes and Tim Stanton (from the He Said, He Said Podcast) . My wife agreed to assistant-direct (shes a saint for dealing with me on set) and with the essential building blocks in place, the rest was just a matter of "getting the band back together" as the kids say. I called up my friends J.C, Erik, Mitch, Joey, Shaun, and Cam and we were off to the races.

I cannot thank all of my amazing friends enough for all they have done for me and my stupid projects. I would fight and die for each of them.

Andrew Heaberlin
Andrew Shooting Babies
We shot and edited the project in 4k, but the problem with the newly budding format is that there is next to no downloadable content for it. The long term solution to this seems to be highly effective encoding codecs like h265,which gives you ample quality with very small format size. The only issue with these is that it takes an incredible amount of processing power and a very good video card to reap the benefits of it, otherwise you're just staring at moving macro-blocks.

So here's our little contribution to the world of 4k, on the provided link below you can either download the highly efficient 4k, h265 video via my website (I suggest playing it in VLC), or if you follow the Vimeo link and click download, it will provide you with the 4k, h264 (easier on your computer to process, but larger filesize) download for free. It also provides you with 1080p, 2k, and other formats as well.

H265 (Right-Click, Save As)

Twisted Knives (Official Music Video) - TO NO END - 4k Resolution

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Serving Divorce Papers to a Cheating Lesbian from New York

Some days I feel like I'm less living a life than I am completing a video game with countless side missions and as a result, I probably possess the most diversified resume of anyone I know. I grew up working construction where I did everything from dig holes to operate cranes. I spent years in high school as a mechanic/body-man. I've owned my own custom guitar shop and clerk'd everywhere from gas-stations to record-stores. I've assistant-edited multiple seasons of a television show and even spent more than a year as a driver/bodyguard. Quite a few of these gigs are the result of being the guy to call when my friends experience issues in their normal lives that they need resolved by someone incredibly loyal.

That's me. Someone's sister is getting kicked out of her house by an aggressive landlord? Call Josh. Need a music video shot and you have no budget, no cast, and no equipment? Call Josh. Someone about to get the shit beat out of them at a bar? Call Josh. You get the point. So when my buddy back in New York called and told me he had a friend who needed something taken care of in Los Angeles, I was the one that got the call to serve divorce papers to a cheating lesbian in North Hollywood.

I was in Olympia, WA hanging out with my family at a goth bar at the time I got the call. "Josh, I have a friend in New York who's wife ran away with another woman. She needs someone dependable in Los Angeles to do a favor." He sent me her details and I got in contact with the woman the next day. Her name was Dianne and she was absolutely heartbroken that not only had she been cheated on (with a woman she described as a Yeti), but her Ex, Sabrina was using her social security number to create an ever growing mountain of credit card debt. As if that wasn't enough, the woman was actively avoiding being served papers and had dodged two Process Servers thus far. The first of which gave up for unknown reasons while the second lost the element of surprise by presenting the papers to her girlfriend and not her. He shortly gave up as well.

I looked into it, and as luck would have it, she seemed relatively easy to track and only lived a few miles away from me. She still had New York plates and worked at Saphire's, a chain of local make up stores. But that was the end of the good news. Dianne described Sabrina's girlfriend quite vividly as "a violently angry guerrilla" who apparently dwarfed me in every way. After a week I received the paperwork and the affidavit in the mail. Under California law, anyone may act as a process server assuming they over 18 and not actively involved in the case. My job was to approach her, get her to acknowledge her name, and if she didn't willingly accept the paperwork, drop it at her feet. Seems easy enough on paper, but the fact that two people who did this as a professional-vocation had failed was a somewhat frightening notion.

So I set out at 7:30am to go and stake her house out. I knew they lived in a very suburban area so I dressed myself in a long-sleeve, black shirt to cover my tattoo's. I immediately found the SUV with New York plates and the girlfriends accompanying white SUV in the driveway. I parked around the corner with their house barely in sight and sat there for the first hour as the neighbors walked their dogs and gave suspicious looks. The only way to not stick out while unavoidably sticking out is to completely own it. So I smiled and waved at the local inhabitants. When one finally approached me I gave my already well coached line that my little sister had sent me to this cross-street to pick her up, but the little bugger must've drained her cell-phones battery and wasn't answering my calls. Having mastered this line many times before, she bought it hook line and sinker.

Eventually the white SUV turned out and left. I struggled with whether to follow it or not, but ultimately it wasn't listed to me as her car, so I let it go and played it safe. I sat there and followed up my lead that she worked at a local cosmetic supply store. I was amazed and bewildered to see that there were 15 of these damn stores within a 6 mile radius. Women, truly love their damn makeup. Realizing that I in no way wanted this woman to have my contact info, I downloaded a "Pranking" App for my phone and made it seem as if I was calling from the local pharmacy. At 9:25AM, the first ten local Saphire's received a call from "Jake the Pharm-Tech" representing the local CVS pharmacy. Each time he asked to speak with Sabrina about a "personal matter".

One lady I spoke with told me she wasn't sure of the Sabrina from her store's last name, but that she should be in around 11am. I thanked her and hung-up. Another I called hesitated in speaking to me me, but ultimately laid on me that she USED to work there. This made me suspicious, so I put this location at the top of my list. Just then the Black SUV pulled out of their driveway in a fury. I started my car and waited until she turned the corner and gunned it to catch up. From the time I first played Grand Theft Auto 3, I had been preparing for this moment. I stayed behind, leaving her just in view so I could track her every movement, but not close enough for her to notice me.

After a few moments she turned into a gas station and my pulse pounded. It's not often I get nervous, I go years at a time without feeling the kind of nerves so many speak of, but I damn-well did at that moment. I took off my seat belt and prepared to pull in behind her car in order to block it in so that she couldn't escape without dealing with me. Just as I was about to make my turn she got out and it was her mammoth-mountain of a girlfriend, not her. Bust. I took the next corner without being noticed and downtroddenly continued on to the first store.

I parked in Hollywood and walked up to the local Starbucks, after all, I wanted to look natural. I ordered my coffee and mosy'd over to the first Saphire's. Though I could make out several employees... there was no Sabrina. I walked away and called my wife who was delighted at my inquiry of what makeup I could buy her to establish my front. She texted me the name of some unholy expensive nail-polish and I walked in looking like a confused husband (something I excel at as I've done so many times before). I snooped around playing stupid and eventually was approached by a worker. I asked for the shade of ultra-rare polish and she walked me over to the area and picked it out for me. On the way to the counter I asked about my wife's old friend Sabrina and whether she worked here anymore. It's then that I was informed that she had quit and moved to a new area. Damn. Bust 2.

I pulled out of the parking garage when I suddenly noticed a Chevy Suburban speeding away from a hotel and toward my window. I screamed at the man as he looked down at his phone. Just as he was about to hit my door I sped out of the way and he creamed the back of my car. My head hit the side of the car and the world went all spiny for a few moments. I grumbled and growled nonsensically at the man as I stumbled out of my car toward him. As I watched him climb out of his ridiculously monstrous automobile, I noticed that he looked dazed as well. So, like a damn fool, I asked if he was ok, a question to which he did not reply. After somewhat-less politely asking him exactly what the hell was going through his head, we pulled over to the side of the hotel and exchanged information. I suppose it was in a failed attempt to diffuse the situation that he brought attention to his name being Mellick and my middle name being Milton and what a funny little world it was. At that point, I turned to him and deadpanned, "Yeah, we're practically fucking brothers."

I drove away still in a bit of shock and messaged Diane that today was not to be the day and that I had gotten in an accident. As I drove home I figured what the hell and routed myself past Sabrina's house. No one home. I sat there for a moment and realized that if she was gone this long, she HAD to be at work. I continued down my list and called the other five Saphire's and the last one was the winner. CVS (heh) called the Saphire store in Glenview and the lady put me on hold for Sabrina.
Fuckin' Bingo, Mother Fucker.

I took off, pissed off due to my car's new wounds for the Glenview Mall. After all, zombie-like consumers walking in hordes was what I was in the mood to deal with. I arrived, walked in the mall and found the map directing me to the center of a huge department store. I no longer possessed the patience to deal with the "needing to buy nail-polish for my wife" front and darted around the store analyzing all of the workers. Once I was sufficiently convinced that the target was not in the showroom, I asked a lady if Sabrina still worked there. She told me that she knew her, but that she worked at the other Saphire store about three blocks away.

Incensed that there would be two such stores in such a small proximity, I again stormed off, this time on foot. However, once I got a foot outside the door, paranoia creeped in. She said she knew Sabrina. What if she would warn her about my impending arrival? There was no way I had came all the way to the Glenview goddamn Mall just to be evaded at the last second, so I sprinted across the street, paying no mind to the oncoming cars. Once I arrived at the destination and had sight of the front door, I took a moment to regain my breath before my approach. After all, the building didn't appear to have any exits out of the back and I had the front more than covered.

I stalked around the area for a few moments before I walked towards it and paused. I caught the reflection of blond hair with black roots that matched hers. I peered around until I could get a full sight of her face... it was her. She was stationed to the left of the main door so I walked in with confidence and spoke to the door greeter. "Hello! I'm looking for a friend of mine." Her eyes perked and I swung my head around to her. "Oh my god! Sabrina?!?" I exclaimed. Her eyes went wide and she dawned a flirtatious smile. "Yes?" she said. I then spun around, grabbed the papers out of my back pocket and released fake the smile from my own face and hers followed suit immediately. "I've been served haven't I?" she groaned. I handed her the papers "Yes ma'am, you have, enjoy your day." and I walked the fuck out.

Looking back at the entire ordeal, I gotta say that it was fun. I always wanted to be a detective when I was growing up and this was probably about as close as I'll get. I'm just extremely glad that I was able to confront her in public rather than at her house with the gigantic apelike girlfriend that could have torn me limb from limb. And I don't feel bad for the girl at all. She cheated on the friend of a friend and ran away. Sure she looked sad when I served her, but fuck her. This wasn't Karma coming back to bite her in the ass, this wasn't even justice, this was just the mathematic-like result of repeatedly doing horrible things to someone who loves you and I'm glad I got to help that out.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Personal Look at John Roecker & His Upcoming Green Day Documentary

John Roecker is a fucking rarity. He somehow skirts the line of being one of the best humans I've ever met on the planet and yet, one of the more depraved. A sweet man who's been incredibly supportive of my career, but also the man that insisted I touch his original painting by John Wayne Gacy. He has an active Facebook presence, yet is extremely proud to have never sent a single text message to anyone. When we once spent an hour trying to gently guide a humingbird out of his house, we had to move his actual human skeleton out of the way to do so. I suppose it's through these types of clashing duality that his art and films are able to perfectly capture the low-fi, punk rock aesthetic that so many people constantly fail at.

How I met John: Live Freaky, Die Freaky
In 2004 I was still living in Middletown, Ohio and paying extra attention to anything cool taking place in Southern California as I was plotting my inevitable move there. Around this time the name John Roecker and his film Live Freaky Die Freaky began to pop onto my radar. As soon as I read the cast list and description of this incredibly fucked up premise, not only was I sold, but I immediately purchased a LFDF shirt for myself via the Machete Mfg website.

Flash forward a few years and I was living in Fullerton, CA while attending CSUF. Though I should have been studying, I spent most of my time working and hanging around Black Hole Records. It was then that I began to hear rumblings of LFDF actually coming out. In early January the store received some publicity material announcing the release date of January 17th, 2006 and I immediately took to the internet to see if there was to be a premiere. Because if so? There was no way in hell I was going to miss it.

LFDF Flyers
On January 5th 2006 I was calling everyone involved and finding out any info I could. Once I discovered where it was to be held and who the production company was that was putting it on, I immediately went to work. I called Epitaph (the label) and begged for tickets, I called Wellspring Media (the distributor) and offered to work the show. I even called the venue pretending to be an invited guest's assistant so that I could find out the exact time and location in case I was to attempt to sneak in the back.

Finally, I hit the jackpot. I got hold of the social media manager of the show and told him that I represented Black Hole Records and that we were interested in promoting the hell out of the DVD sales. He bought it and invited my then-girlfriend and I to the premiere.

The night started when John Doe (from X) and Rancid came out to do some acoustic songs. They played everything from classics from their back catalog to Ramones, Clash, and Green Day covers. It was pretty epic to see the biggest band in punk rock on such a small stage with the who's who of Punk royalty watching them. Then they played Live Freaky, Die Freaky. A gross, drug-addled, account of the Manson murders drenched in stop-motion puppet-sex and musical numbers. It was fucking genius. I sat there and watched these people bask in crude, John Waters' style humor and love it. Standing there was legitimately the first time it occurred to me that I could make my own movie.

When the night died down, I cornered John and drunkenly told him how inspired I was. A few days after the premiere I drunkenly sent the LFDF website an email asking them to tell John if there was any project he ever needed help on, to please look me up.

Rodney Redbottom:
Rodney Poster
A few years went by and MySpace fell by the wayside being replaced by Facebook. Eventually John popped up on my feed and I sent him a request. Not long after, we began messaging back and forth, updating one another on our various projects. It was then that he told me all about the new band he was working on with Dylan Melody, appropriately titled, Roecker/Melody and that they were about to have their first show at the Redwood. I told him I'd love to come and he asked me to shoot it for him, to which I instantly agreed. A few nights later my buddy Joey Harris and I shot their amazing first show.

Rodney Redbottom Premiere
About the same time, I was in the beginnings of pre-production for my upcoming flick Rodney Redbottom and needed a star. Moreover, I needed a star that was willing to work with fucked up material and do it for free. After holding a few casting sessions, it dawned on me that Dylan's baby-face would work perfect for the role. I got hold of John and got Dylan's info from him. Fortunately for me, Dylan agreed and knocked the role out of the fucking park. After we had wrapped and I finished the final edit and was working on the poster, I was unable to come up with a clever tagline. It was John that came up with "Whips, Paddles, Bondage, Grandparents."

Heart Like a Hand Grenade:
My Green Day CD Collection
I've always dug Green Day, though admittedly, the last few albums haven't really moved me. That being said, few records that I own mean more to me than Nimrod. I remember the day I borrowed that album from the only other person in school that listened to Punk. I played it for days straight and bought my own copy the following week. From there I eventually worked backwards to Insomniac, Dookie, and so on (though someone stole my copy of 1,039/Slappy). Their self-deprecating sense of humor and I don't give a fuck style defined the poppier side of Punk for me.

Now, I do remember talk of John shooting a Green Day documentary while the band was recording their album American Idiot, but when I didn't hear anything about it for a few years I assumed it had fizzled out. I couldn't have been more wrong. Evidently not only was the doc done, but it had actually screened in a (to my understanding) four hour cut at The Egyptian on March 25th, 2009. How that slipped under my radar I still haven't figured out. A few people have reported that night that John mentioned that it may be released on the album's 10th anniversary. That ended up not being too far from the truth.

Green Day Wall
On June 18th this year John hit me up and explained to me that he didn't like the old intro to the film and asked me to come over and see if we couldn't figure out another way to tackle it. A few days later I headed over to his place to see if we couldn't crack an idea. We met up and discussed several options on the table, but ultimately chose a more low-fi approach to the idea. The following week I contacted my buddy Andrew Heaberlin and we went over to John's house with a truck full of equipment. Andrew lit, I operated, and John directed, and although I won't spoil it for you, I was pretty happy with the way the raw footage turned out.

Everywhere Oct 15th
So there you have it. On October 15th, 2015 this documentary, more than 10 years in the making will finally see the light of day, on one of the biggest and most famous screens in the world, The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA. I know this article is basically a Roecker-suck-fest, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm incredibly grateful to be part of a film of one of the bands that helped so many people in the world get into Punk Rock. Be sure to come and check out a legit piece of music history through the distorted lens of one of the most creative, solid, and just plain weird motherfuckers I've ever had the pleasure to call an inspiration and a friend.


Click Here To See Showtimes in your area!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An Introduction to "Open Matte" Films

Recently I've joined a private torrent site specializing in rare and out of print films and TV shows. This has led to my stumbling down an entirely new rabbit hole of movie-nerd collecting: The "Open Matte Version".

What is an "Open Matte" film?
Open Matte Example
(Augmented from Wikipedia)
Shooting in an "Open Matte" is the process of achieving a different aspect ratio than the one you are shooting in by masking part of the full frame image with black bars.

One of the main reasons people collect "Open Matte" films is that they contain extra image information (generally at the top and bottom of screen) giving the viewer a bigger glimpse into the world. However, since the cinematographers job was to frame for Widescreen first and the Open Matte second (or sometimes not at all), this is generally NOT what they intended the viewers experience to be.

For the most part, viewing the Open Matte version does not make for a more aesthetically pleasing image on screen (at least not in the traditional sense). In fact, this added information sometimes disrupts the movie watching experience for the typical movie-goer. For example, where black bars were intended to be, the viewer may occasionally see a ladder on screen, a rope pulling a prop, or just an oddly composed frame with too much headroom for the actors.

So why would you collect something that effectively makes the movie harder to watch? Because if you are like me and have viewed your most-coveted films several hundred times, these are new, rare glimpses into some of your favorite on-screen moments. Due to both changes in cameras and distribution, I'm organizing these "Open Matte" films into two categories: The Pre-Digital and Post-Digital Revolution.

Pre-Digital Revolution
Tin Edition
4x3 Matte Example
By the 1980's many movies were shot in widescreen on 35mm film despite the format's native size being a 4:3 square image. To accomplish this without the employ of expensive image-bending Anamorphic lenses, cinematographers would have guide-lines on their viewfinders and monitors showing them where the intended aspect ratio was in relation to what was fully being captured. Then in post-production (or sometimes exhibition), they would throw black boxes over-top of the image, blocking out the information that wasn't meant to be seen.

This was largely brought about by the rise of consumers watching movies via VHS and Cable TV. During this time, home viewers weren't open to having letterboxing "cover up part of their TV" and unfortunately, home distribution was exclusively catering to the 4:3 square format*. This effectively rendered widescreen obsolete after the movies initial run in the theatrical market (at least until the rise of Laser Discs). In order to force many films of the day into this TV friendly aspect ratio, production companies employed the use of "Pan and Scan" (a technique in which you crop the widescreen image and artificially move the camera's viewpoint).

4:3, widescreen
Pan & Scan Example
Thankfully, for some movies, pan-and-scanning was avoided as it looked cheap and suffered image quality loss. To avoid their art being butchered, many cinematographers shot their films in widescreen while "protecting" for a 4:3 frame as well. By extracting the square image from the original 35mm frame, it contained additional information at the top and bottom of the screen. Most Open Matte 4:3 versions of pre-digitally shot movies often come from either broadcast, Laser Discs, early DVD's, or accidental release.  

*Explaining to the general public that widescreen is how the filmmakers intended the film to be viewed was generally lost on them while explaining the concept of "pan-and-scan"  has yet to be accomplished.

Post-Digital Revolution
2.35:1 16:9
16x9 Matte Example**
These days, most movies are made with digital cameras and are thus shot in the 16:9 widescreen format. However, to accomplish a more extreme widescreen image (without Anamorphic lenses), the same technique as mentioned before is performed. The monitors and viewfinders have aspect ratio guide-lines on them (or in the case of indie film, gaff tape is often put over the monitor) indicating where the intended image is located. This extra information comes in very useful in post production where the frame can be moved up or down in order to fix a potentially wrongly-framed shot. 

These "Open Matte 16x9's" are more rare and are generally released on accident or in some cases, broadcast because the home viewer still can't handle having boxes on their screen. Additionally, many of the films that fall under this category have been exported from the studio because the engineer who is outputting the film has forgotten to turn the black bars back on overtop of the image.

**Yes, Seven was shot on film, however it's an excellent example of a 16x9 Open Matte and this version was more than likely accidentally released on Blu Ray in Canada. .

Some Great Open Matte Examples:
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure: Legend has it that the guy who output the 4:3 VHS version of this film still gets shit for a few shots that blatantly showcase the special-effects in this movie. The best example can be seen HERE. In this shot, Pee Wee is pulling an endless chain and it's source was designed to be masked out. In this version, we clearly see where the chain is coming from.
  • Evil Dead: For years, only a select few, original VHS copies contained the original, unmatted 4:3 aspect ratio. The reason that so many die-hard fans clamored for this version is because this film was NOT shot with the idea of a widescreen presentation. Furthermore, when they did put the "black bars" over top of the image, they gave zero thought about re-framing the shots and blindly pasted them over the entire movie. Thankfully, the last few editions of the film have in fact contained the original, unmatted version.
Tin Edition
Evil Dead 2
  • Evil Dead 2: I was only recently alerted to this. The 2001 "Tin Box" release of this film contained not just the original 16:9 version, but also contained the unmatted 4:3 version of this movie as it was shot. There's no goofs in this version that I've found yet, but this is a great, rare copy of the film and is totally worth giving a watch.
  • Terminator 2: In the open matte version of this you can plainly see Arnold's pants when he's supposed to be naked.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer- Season 1: This is rare because it is the pillar box mattes that have been removed. The show was obviously framed for 4:3, but Fox wanted to re-release it in 16:9 anyway. That means throughout the season there are errors abound. On the sides of the screens you can see ladders, lights, boom poles, and even the occasional person. Pretty damn hilarious.
One film I have seen with my own eyes that had an Open Matte but I have yet to find commercially is the 2011 film Drive. While I worked at S*** we received a copy of it for Australia and I personally failed it myself for having the wrong delivery specs. 

Other great examples of "Open Matte Versions" include: The Matrix, Seven (shown above), Back to The Future 2, The Shining (and almost every Kubrick movie), Planet Terror, and Stephen Kings IT. There are a TON more, but I don't want to get carried away. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments below.

In Conclusion:
He didn't actually say this...
but it was implied.
If I was a professional cinematographer and I saw an unauthorized version of a film I'd shot, I'll admit, I'd be pretty pissed off. And in the 80's and 90's I'm sure a lot of them were. Imagine being Victor J. Kemper (who shot Pee Wee's Big Adventure) and seeing that bike gag ruined on screen because of some post-production idiot. I'd personally be fucking furious.

Strange versions of classic films aren't necessary for the public at large, and for the most part, they probably offer a negative experience for filmmakers and most viewers... but for die-hard collectors, they give a whole new way to appreciate our favorite movies. Whether you collect them for an inside view into the process, to laugh at, to get that extra bit of screen information or just to have them on your hard drive so you can brag to your collector friends (who are also likely NOT getting laid), it's a great excuse to re-watch your favorite flicks one more time.

Monday, August 31, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 4: Hunter S. Thompson- The Crazy Never Die

Hunter S. Thompson in the 80's:
Hunter's San-Francisco 
Examiner Commercial
From 1985-1989 Hunter S. Thompson spent many of his days in San Francisco writing as a media critic for The Examiner (100 of these articles were pulled together to form his book "Generation of Swine"). During this time he also took on an assignment at the behest of Rob Fleder to write an article for Playboy about the rise of "couples pornography" and how the more feminist genre of porn was poised to be "the next big thing" in the industry. He agreed to it and as research, began spending many nights at the famed Mitchell Brothers' "O'Farrell Theater".

Hunter became enthralled with this new found adult playground and through his time there formed a close friendship with both Jim and Artie Mitchel. He became such a regular that he at times took tickets at the front door and dubbed himself "the night manager" even going as far as to make business cards for himself. Eventually this laid the groundwork for Hunter to re-purpose the Playboy article as a novel and he sold the rights to Random House Publishing.

O'Farrell Theater, Mitchell Brothers
Hunter S. Thompson:
Night Manager
This book "The Night Manager" was to chronicle Hunter's time working at the notorious theater. It's not publicly known how much of the book was actually written or whether or not it was completed. However, interestingly enough, another of Thompson's unreleased works* (also through Random House) titled "Polo Is My Life" appears to be a sequel in which the protagonist is forced to leave the sex club and flee into the mountains. Would he actually sequelize the book if the first one was incomplete? Normally I'd say that's too weird to be true, but seeing as how this is Hunter S. Thompson, weird is just the norm.

*I once asked Johnny Depp (who is custodian to Thompson's archive of unreleased papers) how much unreleased material existed and he just laughed and said "a lot". 

His Lectures:
High Quality Gonzo
Front Cover
Other than the Chronicle gig and the occasional book deal such as these, Thompson's main source of income was from performing speaking engagements at colleges around the United States. These performances were best characterized by Thompson showing up late (if at all), strangers offering him excessive amounts of drugs, and an adoring audience watching him lambaste anyone in his cross-hairs in the most hilarious and vicious way possible**. In 1988 he was about to embark on one of these tours and struck up a bargain with The Mitchell brothers to send along a camera crew to document the event. The film that resulted is the hard to find "The Crazy Never Die".

** For an idea of what his full lectures were like,, I previously released his entire performace at Boulder University in 1977 as Vol. 9 of the Audio Archives available HERE.

The Feature:
High Quality Gonzo
Back Cover
"The Crazy Never Die" is a 30 minute shot-on-video documentary that looks into the wild and perfomative side of Hunter's personality. The live footage consists of highlights of his engagements at both The University of Kansas and The 1st Congregational Church in Portland, Oregon. Most of the supplemental footage is from the previously mentioned O'Farrell Theater, his office at The Examiner, Survival Research Labs, and Tommy's Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco.

Intercut between these are both intimate moments of Thompson traveling and staged moments of Thompson creating havoc while occasionally hanging out with naked strippers. It's far from an exploration on the man he was, but it is very indicative of the wild Rock and Roll side of Thompson that he wished to publicly display during this time of his life.

This Release:
Previous version VS
Archives version
This flick was released via VHS in the late 80's, thus there is only so much I could do to salvage the quality without the original footage. For this release I purchased an original, un-viewed copy and ran it through video out (thanks for the help J.C. Reifenberg), capturing it at 720p while processing the footage through an HVX.

Once I had captured it, I brought it into Adobe Premiere, color corrected it, slightly sharpened it, de-interlaced it, brought the blacks to a reasonable level, and cropped the video on both the bottom and left side by 1% as it was only tape noise and not actual footage. I then output the audio into Adobe Audition and removed the tape hiss plaguing the video. The final output is a 720p version of the movie looking as good as it ever will unless the original footage is reprocessed.

Tell me this doesn't make you want
to purchase the sweatshirt
Final Thought:
This isn't a must see documentary for most people, but if you're a fan of The Good Doctor, it is a great little piece of history to behold. I hope one day that this flick gets rereleased and if it does, I'll break down the damn door to purchase one, until then, this will have to do.

However, even though you can't pay The Mitchell Brothers for a copy of this fine film, you can purchase shirts and sweatshirts from them with Ralph Steadman's original artwork for it HERE.

Download the compressed h264 version here.
Right click and choose "save as"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Download the Score for Our Upcoming Short "The Mission"

Josh Roush, The Mission, Short Movie
"The Mission" is about a day in
the life of two Mormon brothers
experiencing the opposite
ends of their faith.
Apologies for my two month hiatus from the blog, it's been an insane time finishing post on our new short, dark-comedy, "The Mission". Wearing many hats in post-production doesn't exactly lend itself to an abundance of time to write. But to hell with all that, the flick is done and has already been submitted to the first of many film-festivals. As always, I'm unable to just sit idly by and watch the fruits of our labor, thus Liv and I are already prepping our next short "Dick Burrito" (co-written by Omid Ghaffarian and myself) for production. 

The only bummer of this ever-repeating cycle of making our short movies is that these flicks cannot even see the light of day until well after their film-festival run... so that got me thinking. Since I can't publicly share the movie for fear of ruining it's festival life (and the top-secret plan for afterwards), I began to think of things from the movie that I could share. Hence, the newest edition of the Archives!

Piss N' Blood
Cam and I at band practice
Though I haven't been an active participant in the Southern California Punk Rock Scene in a few years, for a good long while I was the bass player for the band Piss N' Blood. It was through that experience that I met some of the best friends I've had in my life. One of them being the guitar player for the band in question, a brilliant songwriter named Cameron Mosavian. During my time "in the trenches" with him both in the studio and in rehearsal, I noticed the dudes uncanny ability to perfectly capture the mood of any given moment and (often hilariously) put it to music. 

Josh Roush, The Mission, Cam Mosavian
Front Cover
About halfway through editing I began to get concerned with music for the project. I had temp music put in to maintain momentum, but it wasn't a good fit. I experimented with using existing scores and even Creative Commons domain music off of Free Audio Archive like we did for Rodney Redbottom, but nothing was working so I turned to my good friend. He watched the flick and described right away the audio-fueled emotions I was struggling to convey and had great ideas about the genres to use when emphasizing each beat.

Cam immediately set my mind at ease and I was able to worry about the whole of the project knowing that the score was in good hands. The files he would send back to me as I was editing put emphasis on the perfect moments, punch-lined the jokes, and created the exact atmosphere I was looking for. The score he turned in is so damn good, he makes me look like a better editor due to the choices his music helped inspire. I'll never not use him again.

Josh Roush, The Mission, Cam Mosavian
Back Cover
But enough about that asshole, let's get back to the point shall we? Since I can't show you a trailer, here is what I can do at the moment. I'm proud to introduce to you Cam's entire score for "The Mission". I've taken his original files, done some minor tweaking to make them flow better as an album and output them as both MP3's and FLAC's for free download via my website. 

I'm so proud of this little flick and I cannot wait to share it with you the second I can do so. Until then, here is the full, free download of the score to our new flick, "The Mission". 

Right click and choose "save link as".

1: Theme to The Mission
2: Mormons on the Run
3: Clothes Make the Man
4: Proselytization
5: To Come of Age
6: Confectionery Canaan

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Remake or Reboot, Do Not Reset: Why Jurassic World is Dangerous

A Sequel to the Original
The film industry has been obsessed with producing remakes since it opened it's doors. In 1904 Siegmund Lubin remade the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery setting the precedent of rehashing old material for new movies*. A lot of people forget this fact and insist that Hollywood has no good ideas left when in reality, bad films always outnumber the good films on any given year. I personally embrace remakes and reboots, but what I'm not willing to accept is the notion of sequelizing an original, beloved film in a franchise while ignoring the missteps that came after, and that's exactly what Jurassic World does.

*In reality he was just cheap and didn't want to pay royalties, but the point still applies.

Before, if you were to make a new movie that drew on the love for a prior film, you were forced to make a sequel or start anew. Good or bad, at least it was a clear continuation or a fresh start. Now it seems we are allowing film studios to make bad sequels that they themselves are allowed to ignore. How did this change come about? We kinda have J.J. Abrams to thank for it.

A Case for Rebooting:
Well Executed Reboot
J.J. knew he was playing with fire by rebooting Star Trek as nerd's toes are delicate and easily stepped upon. However, he had no desire to work within the confines of it's previously established universe, thus, his team cracked the code. They cleverly inserted a time travel storyline from within the original universe and forged themselves an alternative timeline to play within.

This "soft-reboot" as it is known allowed the original property to exist without constraining the new one. You have to give it up, it's a pretty genius concept. However, its success appears to have given Hollywood the idea that they can just "reset" continuity anywhere without utilizing clever storytelling devices.

A Case for Remaking:
Well Executed Remake
Take Ocean's 11. Soderbergh took a film largely celebrated only out of nostalgia and forged it into a masterpiece of a modern heist movie starring the A-list talent of the day. As often happens, with it's success came Hollywood's other obsession, the sequel.

Despite showing moments of genius, Ocean's 12 was a flawed movie and gave birth the worst fucking plot device in the history of cinema (Julia Roberts playing Tess playing Julia Roberts? Barf). Thus, for 13 they reverted back to the original formula that worked so well. However, even though they retrograded to what made the original movie so special, they had enough respect to embrace the events of 12.

What is Resetting and Why is it Dangerous:
Resetting simply picks and chooses the events in a timeline that it wishes to use and throws out anything that doesn't suit it's best interest. It resurrects your positive memories while lying to your face by pretending that negatively-reviewed, past films in it's franchise don't exist. If we as an audience are willing to look the other way when a franchise puts out a bad product, then the studios lose all incentive to make a good product in the first place.

Jurassic World is guilty of this. Though no one has directly said that the events of the second two films aren't canon, you really would imagine they would have been referenced if they were. No matter how amazing the film may be and how many times it references the original movie, it purposefully avoids dealing with the fact that the second two unpopular films in the franchise were made. Are the fans of the "Jurassic Park Trilogy" supposed to forgive and forget that they were fed a series of godaweful films that did little more than cash in on the franchises name? Just remake the damn movie, it's way less insulting to the fans that have supported your product.

Down the Rabbit Hole We Go:
Alien 3-2? Alien 3B? Alien 3: What If?
Who knows.
Love Alien and Aliens but hate the other films in the franchise? Don't worry, Hollywood will have you covered with the new "Alien 3" by Neill Blomkamp. "Wait? Didn't Alien 3 come out and suck-ass?" you ask. Well the new one will reset the timeline and ignore the events of the other films entirely. That's right, he is pretending that Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection didn't happen. This is plain lazy ass storytelling. I'm truly sorry, as we all are, that Alien 3 turned out to be a horrible pile of shit, but that is the movie the studio chose to interfere with and distribute. They have made their bed and we as an audience should hold them accountable to lie in it and I think that David Fincher would agree with me.

In Conclusion:
"The Godfather 3B"
hitting theaters in 2017.
I'm not a person that believes that every franchise needs touched, but I understand that is the way the system is, forever cashing in on your fondest-memories. But at least, if you're going to fuck with the movies that we so love, give respect to the audience that came to the theater for the shitty follow ups by not attempting to "sweep them under the rug". Don't just ignore several films in a series because you don't like the events of them, it's lazy and disrespectful. Jurassic World may be a fine film that both stands on it's own and lovingly pays tribute to the original, but don't let the studios off the hook for producing bad movies just because they finally made a good one.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

AntiCurrent Archives Vol 12- William Elliott Whitmore: Radium Live in Los Angeles

This is the twelfth edition of the " Archives", a collection of rare bootleg-albums I'm releasing through this blog. Click here to view all past Archive Albums.

William Elliott Whitmore at
The Mint
Not enough musicians in the world treat their fans as well as William Elliott Whitmore. There's something special to the rarity of a person willing to hang out with their fans before and after shows. Matter of fact, I've only witnessed with four performers... Jello Biafra, Penn & Teller, and Whitmore. Got a question for him? Want to purchase an album off him? Want to just shake his damn hand? Hang around a while and he'll pop up and be more than willing to spend some time with you. Pretty goddamn admirable I gotta say.

Thursday's show at The Mint was the same. I got in line as the doors opened and there he was, talking
to a fan and just hanging in line. I generally avoid talking to performers I admire, there's something frightening to me about demystifying a talent you truly dig. Plus there's something really weird about seeing how fans interact with someone they really, really look up to. People act differently, they stare at you through the corner of their eye and then approach you with overly-prepared words and most of the time it's a horribly awkward fuck of an experience.

Horribly framed
cell-phone pic
With all that said, I've had a few encounters with WEW just from the fact he's always around and so damn ingratiating. Mistakes, all of them. In Orange County I drunkenly told him I loved him, at the Knitting Factory in LA (RIP) the girl I was with almost puked on him (and did puke next to him), in Sydney the girl I went with cried through his entire set and I had to reassure him that she was OK, and at a bar my best friend in the world also balled his eyes out through the entire show (weirdly reoccurring theme huh?).

See? Take it from me people, don't meet your idols. More than often you do dumb shit.

To get back on track, The Mint is a great little bar with great sound and is incredibly intimate. Also they lack asshole security guards so I decided to bring a Zoom H6 recorder in and bootleg the performance. Recording performances you go to I feel is a lost art. In old bluegrass bands most people in the crowd did it. Bands like The Grateful Dead encouraged it and today Hank Williams III allows you to record any show you'd like and even has a "Respect to the bootleggers" speech. Is Whitmore cool with it? He seems like a pretty cool guy and I was going to ask him, but he seemed busy so I didn't wanna bother him. I'm just going to assume he's cool with it until I hear otherwise. As a wise man once said, its smarter to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission.

Front Cover
The set was amazing as always. Staples such as "Diggin' My Grave" and "On the Chin" were played and even more exciting for me, I got to see him play electric for the first time. Hearing him strum that Bilt Zaftig semi-hollowbody and scream with a death-rattle yell on "Healin' To Do" was other-fucking-worldly. Plus his acoustic broke a string towards the end so he played the electric on "Old Devils" and it was sick as shit.

It's always cool seeing his new set and I've heard damn-near every song I've ever wanted from him... except for the one I've always truly wanted to: "Trespassers Will Be Eaten" (off the bootleg "Legalize Freedom", available here). My buddy requested it at a gig once and Will said he forgot that he even recorded the song, let alone how to play it. Fair enough, a strange song off of an old demo is a bit more than a "deep cut" as they say.

Back Cover
For not having a board feed (I nearly tried to bribe the soundtech but opted against it) and just leaving the H6 in my pocket, I'm pretty damn pleased with the results. I recorded it at 24bit/96khz, de-noised/EQ'd/normalized it with Adobe Audition and output it as 16bit FLAC files and 320kbps MP3's. I edited a little bit of the downtime out of the performance just to keep the album at under 80 minutes (max CD length). Past that, this is the show how it happened, and it's pretty goddamn great considering the recorder was just nested in my pocket with the XY mic pointed toward the speaker next to me.

Before you listen to this, I should apologize to both you and Whitmore, I'm the asshole guy yelling in grunts and the one that says "don't be a pussy" when it came do doing shots. What can I say, you can take the boy out of Ohio, but you can't take the Ohio out of the boy.

There used to be an inherent evil in bootlegs that seemed unavoidable, someone selling someone else's hard work for profit. Thanks to the internet, that can now be avoided. As always, I'm releasing this for free and without any ad-revenue generated from my blog or website (take note lawyers, I'm do this for the love of it and when my AntiCurrent server is factored in I'm making a sizable loss). If you dig this, please go and buy an album or even a beer-coozy off of Whitmore, he's more than deserving.

Without further ado, here is William Elliott Whitmore, "Radium Live in Los Angeles" on 5/28/15.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
FLAC Version:
MP3 Version:

The tracklist is:
1:  Lift My Jug
2:  Civilizations
3:  Old Bill Jones
4:  Hell or High Water
5:  Johnny Law
6:  Can't go back
7:  Healin' To Do
8:  Don't Need It
9:  Hard Times
10: Don't Pray On Me
11: Diggin' My Grave
12: Do Something Impossible
13: South Lee County Brew
14: Sally Bangs
15: Ain't Gone Yet
16: On The Chin
17: Does Me No Good
18: Old Devils
19: Mutiny

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

AntiCurrent Video Archives Vol 3: Social Distortion- 1983 Practice Session

This is the third edition of the " Video Archives" a collection of rare, out of print, or unreleased videos that I've chose to release through my blog. Click here to view a list of all past releases.

Orange County: Early 80's
Classic OC Bands Playing
in Los Angeles
The Orange County music-scene in the early 1980's is without a doubt, my favorite era of punk rock. To be young and witness bands like The Adolescents, TSOL, and The Vandals playing in backyards, living rooms, and small shitty clubs is something I will eternally be jealous of not experiencing. It would have been amazing to have actually been a kid of The Black Hole and witness all of this, but at least we have documentation of these days. The scene eventually moved on. Some of the bands broke up and some became enormous successes, but the scene eventually morphed into something different and left behind only memories and precious little visual documentation.

This video is one of those precious documents.

Social Distortion:
Early Years Practice Video
Mommy's Little Monster
At this time this was shot, the band consisted of Mike Ness, Dennis Danell, Derek O'Brien (also played with D.I. & Adolescents), and Brent Liles (also played with Agent Orange and unfortunately was struck dead by a car in '07). 

This is the Social Distortion lineup that recorded the classic album "Mommy's Little Monster" for 13th Floor Records. The group changed members only months after this at the New Years Eve show when O'Brien and Liles left the band after Ness reportedly accepted Heroin as payment from the concert promoter.

Bootleg History:
Social Distortion Early Years Practice Video
Flipside Vol 1
The legend behind this video is that it was shot by Peter Landswick, Al Kowalewski, and Holly Duval Cornell of Flipside Video Fanzine at Pulsar Sound Studio in Fullerton, CA in March of 1983. It opens with their manager Monk (who can be seen throughout the classic documentary "Another State of Mind") as he introduces the band. The video was shot for "Flipside Video Fanzine Vol 1" but only a few of the songs were released on it. This is the complete video that I got off of Ebay in the mid-2000's from Monk himself (or at least someone on it claiming to be him).

*EDIT 7/9/16: According to a YouTube user, it was Dave Brooks of Charged Video that shot this.

This Release:
Social Distortion Early Years Practice Video
Cover that came W/Original
Bootleg DVD
Pieces of this performance has surfaced on YouTube throughout the years, however this is the first to showcase the entire performance. The person that sold this to me via Ebay claimed to have captured it directly from the original VHS tape itself and due to its extremely high quality (in regards to early 1980's VHS video) I have no reason to doubt that.

I brought the original DVD rip into Premiere, upconverted it to 1080p, corrected the color, slightly sharpened it, removed many of the unwanted VHS tracking effects seen on the sides of the screen, and deinterlaced the footage. The result is pretty damn spectacular considering the age of the tape.

Final Word:
VHS quality deteriorates quickly in comparison to film and digital media, but in the 80's film was expensive and digital wasn't even a word thought to be associated with video. It's quite remarkable that we have VHS bootlegs in such amazing quality as this and we should be making every effort to capture them to digital before they deteriorate further. This bootleg series is my little contribution to that. I hope you enjoy this truly unique performance.