A SHORT FILM WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JEFF JOHNSON
TONY DENNISON RON CANADA TOM HILDRETH
The Black Market Stock Exchange Is Open
The Kinjiku is the most exclusive bar in the world, where black market traders replicate the earliest incarnation of the New York Stock Exchange while they sample mixology’s answer to molecular gastronomy. More than four trillion US dollars move through the underworld annually, and The Kinjiku is where the darkest of colossal deals are shaped and formed, where desperate futures are modeled, where elite shadows and kingpins cross pollinate. An investigative journalist finds The Kinjiku after years of hunting, and all he needs to break the story is to have one drink and conduct an interview.
We’re in production! For production details go to the Sternman Productions website sternmanproductions.com
There it was! Principal photography is concluded and after the final scene in The Kinjiku was filmed this evening in Manhattan. It was all about the magnificent Ron Canada. Great actor, great guy too. I’m immensely flattered that Ron likes my books, and he’s been an instrumental guide in some of my screenwriting as well. Wise and benevolent, Ron also admirers Evonomics as much as I do, so The Kinjiku was perhaps more fun for him than it might have been. Thanks to Tom Hildreth, Javier Lavato and Tabbert Fiiller. New York smells like pee and the people are rude (Eric Northman) and its even cold and rainy. Next week in LA I’ll do the final edit with Dan Harris at Mobile Motion Mocap. I am going to celebrate with lamb chops marinated in pomegranate juice. Grilled fennel in olive oil with Portuguese anchovies. Weirdo micro greens from my garden. Like a boss muthafucka, if you will.
My garden? Alas, I wasn’t there and communicated with my DP Tabbert through FaceTime, instant messaging, email, and psychic powers. Ron was in great shape to deliver his four minutes. I could not justify buying a plane ticket given his skill set, plus I’d miss my sweet baby and she isn’t an East Coast kind of gal. This has been a great time and I’ve met so many interesting people. I think this made me a better writer, maybe a better artist too. Time will tell.
This has been a fantastic blast of lights-camera-action. The Kinjiku shoot is about 95% complete, with one day left in Manhattan coming right up. The Los Angeles leg was very smooth, though of course as a first time director I have no real frame of reference. It seemed smooth, and that’s what counts. Several of the days went from 3 AM to almost midnight, and I’m amazed how many morning people work in film. A morning person can double as a night owl but it doesn’t work the other way around. Some of the bigger obstacles? The LA Marathon was cruising past a bar we were filming a night sequence in. Everything worked out. We wound up without some of the utterly critical props we needed (a shocking last minute discovery) and that could have been a massive, epic, unexpected wipeout but for the lightning moves of producer Javier Lovato. Good job dude, way to rock it. We had to adapt scenes up as a result and freeze the actors in place and a variety of other things, but we did it. It worked! There were a few other minor potholes, mostly personal. For whatever fucked up reason I wore really nice shoes to this whole thing and man, you are not supposed to spend day after day standing around in wingtips. They look cool. They’re super comfy when you’re sitting on an airplane like I am right now, but after a certain point, damn. What a dipshit. Personal problem two- I thought it would be warmer and I didn’t bring my coat. It warmed up a few days in, but it’s just so weird to be cold underneath a palm tree. If that’s a bad as it gets, well, I can call this a success. Editing has been an unexpectedly rich experience too. A friend of mine told me in advance to go in with cutaways galore and I wish I’d gone hog wild, but we have a great, amazing, imaginative editor in Dan Harris, and he really knows his tools. The great people at Mobile Motion Mocap could fake a moon landing in one afternoon. So. Cool. I’ll post more later on this of course but thank you to everyone involved in The Kinjiku once again. So many people, and every one of them a gem. I’m delighted to have worked (and be working, and to work again) with so many talented folks, and best of all? Made a whole bunch of new friends.
Check out www.willfightevil4food@wordpress for more as it evolves.
Kinjiku Update 4-25-19
The final push is almost upon us.
This whole thing has given me so many ideas. Spinning The Kinjiku up into a series has so much potential when you think about it. Check out Evonomics, for instance (link below). So much impossibly wrong shit has gone down in the word of economics in the recent past and it isn’t getting better. We all know that. Wildly sketchy financial instruments are now so commonplace in the elite that the Clintons had one. I’m certainly not a Trump supporter but damn, Clintoncorp was supposed to be the lesser evil. Eaglevale Partners, co-founded by Marc Mezvinsky (Clinton son-in-law) bombed like a motherfucker right after Hillary lost the election. Sound… shitty? A report issued by the New York law firm Labaton Sucharow can shed some light on why. They commissioned an anonymous survey of 127 hedge fund dorks and 46% of them believe their competitors break the law or behave unethically and 30% say they’ve seen wrongdoing with their own eyes at the very hedge hole they work in. Let’s round this out. My take- At least 25% of these people are full of shit bloodthirsty BMW lunatics who would run over a puppy for money on a daily basis.
This is only one financial tool. Just one. Now consider, if this shit is LEGAL, as in mofos put on ties and show up to cubicles and run these burns day in and day out, then what would the black market equivalent look like? Worse? How? Exploring that would shed some light on aaaaaallll kinds of nasty.
Food 4 thought. The Economics link is below but first check out ALL THESE PICTURES of these magnificent people. They rock!
The Kinjiku- Creative Parallels- 4-4-19
Postproduction. Here we are. Editing is underway as I said earlier, and we have one scene in the beginning to drop footage into. Credits, opening and closing. Interesting parallels abound here. At the beginning of this process, I wondered if some of the tools I use in other creative mediums could be adapted to this task and it turns out the answer is yes, but with the caveat of ‘kinda’. I’ll explain, beginning with the music.
Western Wind, performed by Alfred Deller, is a haunting, forlorn, lost thing- perfect in almost every way (see link below). I needed a new version of it and I knew I could get it. How? I’m a musician. So are most of my friends. And some of them have gotten really fuckin’ good over the years. Enter Mikel Ross and Pietro Staccia. I approached them and they were in Lucky Recording Co. in San Francisco that very afternoon, recording a modified version of the song with a clear objective. No surprise, the result is even more haunting, more forlorn, more lost than ever, and is has the same period feel. I have a great friendship with these two incredibly bright guys, and we speak the same music language. Music language is the tool I used here. That was early on, and it was a foreshadowing of what was to come.
In art, specifically tattooing, there are many tools that cross easily into different mediums. Take a large, complex tattoo and break it apart. What you have first is a drawing on paper. By the time you’re done it’s a third draft if you’re lucky (sound familiar, writers?). But then you take that drawing to the theater. You make a transfer and then apply that transfer to the skin. At that point you’re winging it. You’re performing. While you do, the drawing changes a little. Skin is strange stuff, full of cowlicks and whorls, like a flank steak. You adjust. You adapt. While you do all this, you keep track of your subject (the client), the people in the lobby, the well being of your coworkers, and what you’re going to do next, because timing is everything if you want to keep on schedule.
That, it turns out, has a whole lot in common with directing (so far, I may change my mind later). The tool that links all of this? If you’re going to make mistakes, make a creative ones. How do you do that? Imagination. All mistakes are potentially creative ones if you remain fluid in the moment. I’ve said many times in pep talks that the imagination is akin to a muscle. I’ll say it again now. Exercise it often, feed it good food, listen to it. Grow it and sculpt it with health and longevity in mind. That, it turns out, is the underlying parallel I was looking for.
‘Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.’ - Albert Einstein
A little music from Alfred B-