Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chapter Two (A Short Story by Joseph Kahn)


Three years ago the famous actor Martin Sheen seduced Esmerelda from me.
He wore a white double breasted Prada suit with impeccably shined platypus loafers and a puckered, sanctimonious smile.  Handsome, yes, but his eyes flipped and rolled like glass marbles spinning, eager to knock me out.  When he walked, it was to the tune of a silent vibrato, his platypus shoes dancing-shuffling, his shoulders all jazzy and fresh.
He was making the moves.
In retrospect, I believe that Esmerelda was smitten because of the way he played his golden harmonica.
She lived with me in a one story adobe house on a street lined with macademia nut trees.  We lived off the land and ate well: macademia nut stew, macademia tartar in orange crème, white chocolate macademia souffle with a touch of cinnamon rasberry, prime macademia simmered in olive oil with steak frites, roasted macademia boullion, and my favorite, peppered macademia mousse served on a bed of virgin rosemary ice cream.
Esmerelda's hands smelled of macademia. 
She would often sit in our tiny kitchen cracking a nut open and rubbing it against her fingers, smiling and staring at me without saying a word.  Her brown eyes swallowed the tiny dots which were her pupils, constricted so tightly on me that they pulsed with my own heartbeats. 
I would sit beside her and hold my breath to listen to her eyes.  Wonderful, fluttering metronomes, ticking from left eye to right, following the sighs of my lonely, lovely heart.
Martin Sheen appeared on a Saturday. 
He knocked on the mesh my screen door and only a putter called my attention.  He stood outside licking his fingers, pressing his hair against his forehead, a nervous sweat under his nose.  He smelled of brachtwurst.
Or perhaps it was just hot.
"Hello, citizen," Martin Sheen said. 
He tapped his feet and spinned and clapped.
"I am Martin Sheen," Martin Sheen said.
He slid to the side, very wide, trying to decide, to walk or ride.
"It's a great day, isn't it?" Martin Sheen said.
He shuffled his feet and popped his legs, moonwalking.
I locked the door and pressed my face against the net.
I said: "I know who you are, and you are not welcome here, Martin Sheen."
Martin suddenly looked sad, even though his mouth was happy.  He pulled his fingers into a claw, took two steps back, and then three steps forward.  His nose pressed against mine, through the net.
"I like the color blue," Martin Sheen said.
Poor, banal man, I thought.  Unable to carry a decent conversation.  Without a script, he was a walking eggshell.  Empty, thin, and white.
I simply walked away.
That night, as I watched Esmerelda crack her macademia nut, I told her of the visit by the famous actor Martin Sheen.  She smiled as she usually did, her pulsing pupils jumping with my laughter as the blood rushed to my funny bone.
"What did he say?" she asked.  "What, what, what?"
"Oh, he was so boring," said I.
"Ha, ha, how was he boring?"
"He had nothing to say!"
"Ha, ha, actors!"
"Yes, boring, boring actors!"
"With nothing to say, ha, ha!"
"Ha. Ha."
We laughed and tears welled in my eyes.  I loved her beyond the moon.
She put her nut down and rubbed her hands against her apron.
"Whew," I said.  "That was funny."
"Yes it was.  Oh yes it was."
And then I offered: "Get this, he said he liked the color blue!"
I laughed and grabbed my spleen, buckling over, stomping my feet, lost in the sublime moment when I realised she was not laughing.
Her pulsing eyes raked over me and went to the cool window.
"What a beautiful thing to say," she whispered, and then completed the other thought in her head.
I examined the window, looking for the other thought.
All I saw were the macademia trees, frozen still against the Macdonald's sign across the street.

When Martin Sheen cries, his face becomes a living eulogy.  It is a glimpse of complete rage.  Every muscle in his face collapses into self-immolation, every muscle a Buddist monk on fire.  His gasoline tears mix into the lethal emotion bomb, and he is suffering Tabasco hot pain.    
Crying, Martin Sheen would not leave my front lawn.
He sat under a wailing water sprinkler clutching the grass.  Wet, tired.  Only the feet underneath his waterproof platypus shoes were dry.
"Go away," I hissed, my face slapped against the door net.
Martin Sheen shivered in his double breasted Prada suit, and continued to weep.
"You'll catch a cold.  I warned you."
He only cricked his neck and fake smiled.
I tried to go to sleep.

For a week he had been sending gift baskets.  Beautiful boquets of crimson flowers encrusted with rings of bath salts, sprinkled with the finest macademia nuts he had been meticulously picking off the trees.  He would never deliver them himself, instead, messengering them over using his talent agent's account.  Everyday a man in red shorts and red shirt pulled up to our door and delivered the basket.
"A package from Martin Sheen," he would announce and force me to sign a certified reciept.  I would sign it, glaring at the humped, defeated man sitting on my lawn.
"Oh, another silly basket," I would shrug, and place it on the floor of my kitchen which was rapidly stacking up with the collection.
Esmerelda would be silent, rubbing her macademia.
Sometimes, she would curiously poke at the basket.  Poke, poke, poke.
I would have thrown them away, but I couldn't get to the garbage can.
Martin Sheen was sitting on my front lawn.

"What a beautiful sound!" Esmerelda fawned.  Her exclamation dangled in the dark of our room, dancing against the invisible rhapsody of  Martin Sheen's harmonica.
Beads of sweat wobbled on my ribcage.
My heart rolled in it's oily socket, squashing bedbugs against my lungs.

When I woke, she was gone.


Fuck Martin Sheen.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Too many artists I know take pride in being "apolitical." There is no way to be creative without being political. Even the most vacuous laugh is politics. We infuse our work from life. The less we understand life, the less perspective we have, the less we have to build interesting work from. Technique is lifeless if you don't know the meaning to why you apply them. Truth, the fundamental goal of what we do, never reveals itself unless you bravely confront it. If you claim to avoid politics, you are extracting the ancient power of story from the telling. As a human you are a coward, as an artist you are a hack.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Your pirating does not help me.

Stop kidding yourself. Stop lying. Stop justifying. Just stop.

Five years ago I started writing DETENTION with a Canadian guy named Mark Palermo. If you know anything about Canadians*, that was a huge sacrifice. But I got through it, and three years later our script was complete.

*Eh, buddy?

Then I took every dollar I had and just started making the movie myself. No studio, no distribution, no guarantees. I had to bring on investors and contractually insure that no matter what the movie did, I would pay them back. Every single dollar spent on this movie, win or fail, ultimately comes out of my pocket. I owe craploads and I’m working like crazy to pay it all off over the next couple years, with the doomsday scenario of selling my house if it all goes to shit. I bet it all. And why did I do that?

Because I wanted you to see something pure.

It's not for everyone. It doesn't slow down. It's made for people like me. You know, people with great hair.

The movie in my head couldn’t have been made with a single piece of interference of any kind. It’s too complex and too new and too dangerous. It’s a tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon and Detention would fall to it’s death in it’s orange Chucks with the slightest wrong step.

But I wanted to see this movie. So I made it. And I fucking love it. Lots of people fucking love it. I want you to fucking love it. I know you need a movie like this in your life. I want you to see it.

But here’s the part I’m going to be completely 100% honest with you about: I want you to see it, but I want you to PAY to see it.

I want to make my money back. I want to make another film. I’m willing to bet it all again to get the freedom to make films like this, but if I stay broke and owing money like I do now, I won’t get that opportunity for a loooong time, maybe ever (cue Richard Roeper applause*).


If you watched the movie online for free and then loved it, but didn’t buy it, I’m pleased that you loved the movie…but you didn’t have sex with me. You suck.

On the otherhand, if you PAID for the movie and somehow HATED it, unlike the cockteasers, I actually love you. You took both the time and the money to support a filmmaker’s effort, and I appreciate that, even if you have terrible taste. You are still awesome and sexy and you will always have Neal Mortiz’s FAST FIVE (“That force of chaotic and unsatisfiable desire that Freud called the id is much closer to the surface in a movie like Fast Five!” – Andew O’Hehir, Salon) to wash away the taste of DETENTION (“A directorial drum solo that quickly wears out it’s welcome!” – Richard Roeper,

Of course those that paid and loved it, your sex is the best.

Now I am well aware that people’s perception of paying for entertainment is messed up right now. We expect everthing to be free and the pattern of how we access entertainment is confusing. Many young teens have no idea that downloading is illegal, prosecutable, and punishable by death by electrocution down to 13 years old. It does not help that most of my work – music videos – have basically been given away all your lives and you equate my movie with free youtube stuff (you have me confused with Bobby Lee you racist.)

But let’s be clear. You are being entertained by me. This blog cost me exactly $5 in Panda Express energy to stay alive and write it. You can have this one for free. On the house. DETENTION cost millions. $4 to rent it or $20 to own it is a tiny price to pay for the fucking hell I’ve gone through to make that son of a bitch for you. And I won’t go into it here, but, HELL.

Look, I know it’s a losing battle to explain to pirates why stealing is bad. So I won’t. Fuck em. Lost cause. They’re those bad seed kids in Hunger Games trying to kill Peeta. I mean, look at this piece of psychotic tumblring:

Basically wrong on every fact. Producers, art, budget, me, all wrong. And she goes to film school. Yes, she was probably eating bath salts when she wrote that, but still...amazing.

Yet…I see some Katniss’s running around the woods, holding our illegal DETENTION movie in her shaking hands, wondering if this is good or bad. This is who I want to talk to before District 2 kills me.

Katniss, you have three justifications of why you download movies:


Baby, Katniss, what are are you talking about? You can help promote Detention, by you know, buying it. And telling people how awesome it was that you are buying/bought it. Instead of linking them to the movie download, how about linking them to one of our awesome reviews and amazon link? Basically anything you do by “promoting” it off an illegal screening can be done by buying it, without sharing an illegal link to tons of people who aren’t going to buy it. But then you say the people you were linking it to are pirates weren’t going to buy it anyway? WELL THEN HOW ARE YOU PROMOTING IT???? You fail advertising. Don Draper would stub a cigarette on your arrow pulling hand. And Peeta hates you.


Really? How about people like this?

The point of the movie business is it’s an exhibition business. You are paying for the exhibition, and once you pay for that, then you have the right to pass judgement on us. The cast and crew of DETENTION are performing seals. We cry, laugh, and bleed so that we brighten your life in the best way we know how. The show is all we have to sell. When you see it for free, there is no more we can give. You have gotten all that is precious to us. Our art. And when you leave without feeding us, we did all those flipper claps for nothing, and whether you like it or not, flipper claps are hard.

If you think you’ll love it, buy it. If you’re not sure, rent it. Renting is your option to see if you like it. That’s why renting is cheap. The problem with the attitude of I will illegally watch it then decide whether I want to buy it is that you are replacing renting with illegal downloading, An independent movie like DETENTION will NOT get prominent placing on iTunes or Amazon. People will have a hard time finding it. When you turn on Apple TV we’ll be buried somewhere you have to scroll to. Most people will not know we exist.

This is why EVERY RENTAL COUNTS. It moves our ranking up on the charts, and the higher on the chart, the more people will see the poster, and that is ADVERTISING. People who have downloaded the movie may or may not buy it, but they certainly won’t rent it. Losing so many viewers to free downloads hurts the rent-and-see market that do not download (otherwise they wouldn't be renting, see the closed logic?). You're dissipating our opening weekend impact - yes, DVD/VOD have opening weekends - and making it that much less likely we'll ever chart. With no support from rentals, it doesn’t push the converted buys. With no buys, it gives no incentive to cable or tv or foreign to buy. By destroying the chain of distribution, you are killing every single way I can recoup so I can make more kick ass movies for you.

And ultimately the only thing Hollywood cares about our movie is whether it made money or not. You may love my movie. But Hollywood could give a shit. Most producers and executives and often, critics, have no idea what is actually good. Have you seen THOR? (“A sweet love story!” – Richard Roeper, They are robots. All they go by are the numbers. If the movie made money and it was terrible, doesn’t matter, I work again. If the movie was great but you downloaded it for free and it made no money, I don’t work.

So then why are you sharing that illegal link again?

Please don't shoot an arrow through my career, Katniss.


Ex President Bill Clinton once stuck a cigar up an intern’s pussy and proceed to smoke it, saying “Tastes good.” Then he got a blow job in the Oval Office. Before the DNA tests of the cum stains on her dress positively identified him as the Cum-mander in Chief, he looked straight into a deposition camera and emphatically stated, “ I did NOT have sex with that woman.”

He only put his dick in her mouth after all.

I hope this hasn't been too depressing of a rant. Making this movie is still the most insanely tough but gratifying experience of my career and there's a light at the end of the tunnel: there's people that are patiently waiting to watch DETENTION when it comes out in 30 days. There are less and less of you honest people out there, but from the bottom of my filmmaker's soul, thank you. I made this for you.


DETENTION comes out on Blu-ray/DVD on July 31. Here’s a link to buy it:

And if you want to “promote” it some more, here’s some merchandise:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why The Black Man Dies


So I write: "CHRONICLE continues to prove the average lifespan of a black man in a genre film is about 30 minutes." And then Twitter gets angry for this spoiler, which wouldn't be a spoiler if that high school had more than one black guy in it.

So, yeah, if you haven't seen CHRONICLE...spoilers ahead. Fuck off.

But let’s be clear.

Who are these people who think a black man dying in a genre film is actually a spoiler anyway? Oh yeah…white people.

Because the rest of us who are not white immediately see that black guy step on a plane full of white people in THE GREY and go…he’s fucked. Yeah, spoiler, duh, shut up. And sure, everyone basically dies in that movie, but the one person we definitely knew was toast from the beginning was the black guy.

Except for the white audience. Who were sitting in their seats going, “I hope Jesus spares the black guy.” Then he freezes to death. A tear is shed, a latte is sipped.

What does this mean?

It means there’s the way white people view movies, and then there’s everyone else.

White people take it for granted that the average white guy’s life span in a movie is two hours. White people see every movie and get shocked when the minority gets killed in the eternal struggle of the survival of the white movie star. The rest of us watch the ethnic supporting cast get assembled and subconsciously prepare ourselves for a bloodbath. White people in return think we’re exaggerating and overreacting. That’s because lots of caucasians simply have no conception what this is like when there is literally a different cinematic universe that conspires to kill you whenever it gets bored of you.

This universe stems from the fact that aside from a few outliers, the vast majority of Hollywood movies are fronted by white movie stars, and by extention of that, these are white worlds. When people of color enter the picture, they may increasingly have more prominent supporting roles and indeed incredible Oscar worthy supporting roles, but they are not the main character. This is The Morgan Freeman Effect.


Thus, genre pictures that deal in life or death are particularly unkind to minorities. People must die in these movies, and the resulting survival list is a sociological study of race relations. The lead character generally survives, followed sometimes by his or her love interest. Since the main actor is white, the surviving love interest is 99% of the time white as well. Occasionally a hot Chinese import gets to be the love interest, but her accent is so terrible she’s packed back into a shipping container after the movie bombs.

That leaves the supporting cast where the rest of the races get stuffed into. If you’re going to shoot a gun at the cast, but pull out your two white leads, chances are you’re gonna kill a minority. Or Richard Brake.


Which brings me back to CHRONICLE. This film is a case study in the mechanics of why the black guy dies.

The film advertises itself in the trailer with three young unknown highschool kids discovering they have superpowers and getting into general mischief. I often confuse this teen found footage trailer with another teen found footage trailer, PROJECT X, except CHRONICLE actually looks like it has a black guy in it and the other one has a white guy who kind of looks black - Jimmy Kimmel. Anyway, the CHRONICLE black guy actually makes a black guy joke by stealing a car and saying “This time the black guy really did it.”

So now the Rest of Us™ know there is a black guy in this fucking movie, and his superpower is the ability to steal cars and joke about how people accusing him of stealing cars is racist. Ironically, minorities actually love stealing cars, so we flock to see this movie.

What the trailer then ultimately promises is that the nerdy white dude is going to go bad and shit will happen. Obviously, the other two superpowered teens must fight him and some dying will happen. The trick is the third teen is a good looking muscular white dude whose superpower is infinite movie exposition. So much time is spent on this guy singing Jessie J songs in his car the movie could be called The Chronicle of White Guy Sings Jessie J Songs: What Fucking White Guy Sings Jessie J Songs?

There is simply no way a white guy with this much post modern masculinity is going to die. It’s like killing Seth Meyers during Weekend Update. Which leaves our noble black guy to die and supply Seth Meyers with his Morgan Freeman Effect. It doesn’t matter that our black guy is a good looking, popular jock who unoffensively dates the only black girl in the pacific northwest. The filmmakers only wrote three characters, so by simple deduction, he’s Tupac in a sweater combo.


I truly believe that the moment he dies comes as a shock to the white audience. Having apparently no memory of every movie they’ve ever seen, this casualty of search for the next white action hero is just another gospel funeral lesson. How many more blacks, asians, hispanics, arabs, and talking animals must die to advance the careers of Chris Hemsworth, Garrett Hedlund, Channing Tatum, Taylor Kitsch? I admire the selflessness of minorities in these movies because it’s obvious if you’re buddies with one of these muscular white dudes, you’re gonna corpse up real fast.

In the final analysis, why does the black guy die? The final answer is this: he’s not the lead. He’s just a supporting character. And in the cinematic chasm that seperates the perspective of white people and everyone else, this is why it’s a spoiler to the former and a given to the latter.

Hollywood is a giant ship. The black guy dies because after the Titanic sank, there was only room for one person on that piece of wood.

And that person was Leonardo DiCaprio.