New Coat of Paint

We just put a new coat of paint on this lonesome old town! 

"Daniel. Noah." got a snazzy color grade courtesy of Post Pro Gumbo, and it looks great. Here are some screen grabs:

I'm also very excited to share the official poster for the film! Take a look:

 
 

Final Cut!

I'm so excited to share that we just locked picture on Daniel. Noah. less than three weeks after wrapping principal photography!

I chose to edit this film myself, in part to cut costs—but also because I wanted the edit to reflect the vision I had when writing the script. That's not to say I didn't kill any darlings or that the tone didn't evolve from conception to completion. But the film is personal, and there was a certain deadpan quality to the dialogue that I wanted to make sure wasn't lost.

I used Final Cut Pro X, a vastly underrated and much maligned tool without which I could never have finished the project in such a short timeframe. Here's the timeline of every cut in the finished film:

Final Cut of Daniel. Noah.

Final Cut of Daniel. Noah.

Next up is color grading and sound design!

Big Wins for Stationary At Best Shorts Competition and Indie Fest!

 Stationary is already picking up big wins on the festival circuit! Here's the latest:

  1. Best Shorts Award of Merit, Direction
  2. Best Shorts Award of Merit, Creativity/Originality
  3. Best Shorts Award of Merit, Humor
  4. Best Shorts Award of Merit, Short Film
  5. Indie Fest Award of Merit, Creativity/Originality
  6. Indie Fest Award of Merit, Short Film
  7. Indie Fest Award of Recognition, Supporting Actor (Victoria Guthrie)
  8. Indie Fest Award of Recognition, Direction
  9. Indie Fest Award of Recognition, Humor
  10. Indie Fest Award of Recognition, Screenplay (Daniel Goldberg and Catherine Weingarten) 

Want to help a great film find an audience? Just share this page with some friendly folk on the internet!

 
 

IS MY MOVIE GAY

by Daniel Goldberg
Director and Co-writer, Stationary

I love Shirley Havermore. In some sense, I am Shirley Havermore. But it would be a mistake to assume that just because I wrote and directed Shirley’s story (and make no mistake—this story belongs to her), I know all of her secrets. 

Shirley is obsessed with her boss Gwen, who has the perfect husband, job, and hip lifestyle, as exemplified (and satirized) by her couples’ spinning workout regime. By getting in on the couples’ spinning action, Shirley seeks to “become” Gwen. 

But the nascent sexuality of a queer person is often phrased in exactly those terms: “admiring” the person you actually want to have. Is Shirley gay? Is this a story about female friendship, or a closeted romance?

 
 

Over tea, I presented Stacie Capone, who plays Shirley, with both possibilities—and even with my own hunch that she was, in fact, gay. But, in the name of letting her make the character her own, I never asked her which choice she made. Watching her performance in rehearsal and on set, both interpretations seemed plausible—which, in my book, meant that whatever she was doing was working. 

But with gay marriage legal in 35 states and gay sexuality being depicted pretty matter-of-factly on a host of cable and network tv shows, why tell a story about repressed sexuality? Isn’t that kind of backwards?

To me, that kind of coded, perverse sexuality is part of what makes Stationary a camp film—and I’d argue that camp is just as relevant as ever.

Through camp, Stationary reveals the regressed nebbish lackey, the “mean girl” boss, and the awkwardly earnest loverboy to be poses. But the characters are no less compelling—after all, who can’t relate to the feeling that they’re stuck posing as themselves? And what could be more queer than that?

WRANGLING THE BEAST

by Ben Mankoff
Co-Producer, Stationary

Last September I ran into an old roommate at the staging of a mutual friend’s new play. We got to talking and I learned that he (the roommate, Daniel Goldberg) and she (the playwright, Catherine Weingarten) had written a screenplay called “Stationary” which they hoped to produce before the end of the year. 

Having my own cinematic ambitions, I did what every young person with few credentials and an expansive ego would do: I asked if I could help. Daniel (co-writer and director), turns out to be a really swell guy and he brought me on board.

 
 

It was a tiny production team with a wide range of experiences and interests, convening in coffee shops and empty art galleries to piece together a project that we believed in. In a way, we were each taking a chance on the people around us; there is risk involved in trusting others with your creative baby, or your career or your time. 

My major contributions to the film came in the planning stages; I was involved in casting and equipping the project. But I was also present on set and saw how what was, for months, largely a mental exercise, could manifest and grow limbs and start to move as a real, tangible, occasionally frightening beast.

The cast and crew wrangled that beast like professionals (which, of course, they were) and today we have a trove of beautiful footage just aching to be cut into a film. We need to finish it, and that takes money. 

In the same generous spirit with which Daniel took a chance on me, this film needs to be given a chance. That’s how films this size are made these days. When we recognize that we have to support other weirdos like us. When we, the community, take a chance on new stories because, God bless him, Harvey Weinstein is too busy to help out. 

Make new art with us. Please give what you can.

From High Art (Playwriting) to a Mass Consumer Product (Film) (LOL jk)

by Catherine Weingarten
Co-writer, Stationary

As a writer, I’ve never had the experience of seeing my work on a screen. All of my previous work has been playwriting (aside from a super sexy animation adaptation of my play about a chick who is obsessed with Justin Bieber—but not sure if that counts). Stationary looks great just from the stills alone, and I can’t wait to see the finished film.

As a kid I was a hardcore actor, but was itching to no longer have to play the loser friend of the main character. I decided to create my own stories. I started playwriting at Bennington College (where I met Daniel at a super hip contact improv dance class) and couldn’t get enough of it. 

My freshman year at Bennington I got chosen to write a 24 hour play, which ended up being about two male room-mates who hired a male hooker to hang out with them. I had so much fun I could not stop ma-self!! Since then I have been seriously pursuing playwriting and started Ohio University this year to get my MFA.

I admit I am obsessed with film/tv and a lot of my plays are very in conversation with these forms. Still though, this film has been an exciting new challenge for me. 

In plays the audience is constantly aware of everything on the whole stage. The hardest thing for me about working on a screenplay was understanding the “action directions.” Film is very high maintenance and requires you to think about how you want everything to be framed. 

I didn’t know a lot about that aspect of the process and I’m less in touch with where the camera is/what the viewer is looking at. I also noticed that with screenwriting, you can get away with a lot less dialogue to tell your story, since just a close-up of an actor’s face can capture the character’s intent.

The low-budget filmmaking process also had restrictions I wasn’t used to. I had to consider how many sets/characters you need to use, because locations and actors can cost a lot. One needs to have their producer hat on, especially if one of the co-writers is producing it themselves ;) In theater I literally try to ignore this issue and proceed to write plays with flying dinosaurs and mermaids.

The other big difference for me was how short the scenes were required for film. In plays we can write like 40-page emo scenes about people eating dinner; but our longest scene for this film was 4 pages.

I’m actually interested in working with shorter scenes in the future, because it reminds me of comic strips from my past, like “Betty and Veronica.”

My newest play, Are you ready to get PAMPERED!? was inspired by Wet, Hot, American Summer and other infamous summer camp films, so I’m already dabbling a lot this year with short episodic scenes. I feel like comedy especially thrives in contained, short moments and forms.

Overall one of the things that was incredible about working on this film was the restriction inherent in the form of screenwriting. I had to factor in scene length, produce-ability and dialogue that was onscreen-playable. I really do hope to be able to do screenwriting and tv-writing in the future, because they keep me sharp and challenged. With playwriting I have the exhilarating freedom of doing whatever the heck I want; so I’m glad I can come to tv/film writing occasionally and get a bit of a smackdown.

Horned Melon Films is hard at work bringing Catherine and Daniel’s story to the screen. Sign up to follow us through post-production.

Collaborating with a Sexpot: Why Daniel and I Work Well Together

by Catherine Weingarten
Co-writer, Stationary

Ever since I saw Daniel’s first film The Master Cleanse I knew that we both were obsessed with similar things. The film’s hilarious and odd point of view did it for me, as well as it’s focus on the controlling of one’s body. In my playwriting work I regularly write about body image and young women’s obsession with diet and looking like that random hot chick in the movie. 

From a young age, I have felt the pull to diet and try to eat a celebrity meal plan. I have not found a lot of artists who feel this crazy obsession about characters who want to gain control over their bodies. But although Daniel explores similar themes in his work, he does it from a more spiritual preppy perspective. We complemented each other well.

The other awesome thing about working on our film Stationary was that Daniel and I have such similar taste when it comes to films. We both cannot get enough of Mike White or Todd Solondz. If Daniel doesn’t like a TV show, I assume I won’t like it either. Our mutual taste for odd stories, queer cinema and stalker-like obsessions made collaborating way too fun to exist. We are both super interested in outsiders and how they try to find a place for themselves—often by any means necessary. 

While Daniel and I wrote this film we ended up laughing way too much, eating vegan food and pausing way too many times to listen to the B-52s. Writing work by myself can be pretty lonely so it was a welcome break to get some fun company. It was also a great setup since we both respect each other’s work and aesthetic; so we didn’t need to prove anything to each other/try to outdo each other. This is my first time being involved in a film project and I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

See Catherine and Daniel’s script come to life! Sign up for updates from the filmmaking team.

Hear The Master Cleanse's Eerie Score, Then Sign Up to Download the Film

Inspired by Krzysztof Komeda's score for Rosemary's Baby, composer Vita Tanga's theme sets the perfect tone for our "paranoid hipster comedy." Without this simple, lilting melody, it would be an entirely different film.

Have a listen, then join Horned Melon Films to watch the full film!

Booty Dance: The long-lost footage resurfaces

by Angelica Reeve
Actor, The Master Cleanse

Everyone has wow-what-a-small-world stories. I've run into old Shakespeare camp alumni on the street and discovered connections between friends from way different parts of my life. 

But it was still a huge surprise to get Daniel's first message. Back in Summer 2005 we were both at Vassar College; he was studying filmmaking and I was at the Powerhouse Acting Program. I can't even remember how I became involved or how he asked me, but I was in a 16mm short film he made, "Booty Dance.”

Angelica Reeve in "Booty Dance"

I do not recall any of the shoot. It wasn't until he sent me the video link and I saw my monstrous high school emoting mug that I even remembered its existence.

After begging Daniel to never release the footage and getting my lawyer involved, I finally agreed to audition for The Master Cleanse. The rest is history.

Horned Melon Films come a long way since Daniel and Angelica's high school filmmaking collaboration ten years ago!

Take 15 minutes right now to watch their new project, The Master Cleanse. Just sign up to stream or download!

Teaching The Master Cleanse

by Bill Clarke
Production Designer, The Master Cleanse

In the fall of 2013, about 6 months after our shoot, I got a call from my alma mater, the University of Virginia. The head of the drama department’s design program was on sabbatical, and I was asked come to teach their graduate design students a “segment”. For how long? And on what exactly? It was up to me. Which was flattering, I guess, but also kind of an extra challenge.

The standard way design is taught is to assign a “paper project” based on a hypothetical theater and a (usually) famous play. But leading them through yet one more Hedda Gabler was already as exhausting as it was uninspired.

So I hit on the idea of giving them The Master Cleanse as their project, and their assignment would be: 

You’re interviewing with a film director for the PD position. He’s got an intriguing darkly comic script, set in Park Slope. But there are major obstacles to shooting it there, and he’s now in Charlottesville on a prelim scout for a possible local shoot. His heart’s not really in it though, and YOUR job, as interviewee, is to convince him that Charlottesville in fact is a GREAT place to shoot the story, as there are local equivalents for all of Park Slope’s eccentricities. And you’d be the ideal designer.

I emailed Daniel’s script well ahead of time, and I asked them to prepare for the mock interview; their job was to impress me with their knowledge of the script, their familiarity with Park Slope (Google heavily used here), and their argument for re-setting the story locally.

I threw out a bunch of questions: What is the character of the house? Who has determined that?  Dr. Emma Horowitz (the commune’s founder and leader) alone? Are residents deprived of their own personal belongings when they arrive? And so is there something visually uniform about the house? Or are they allowed to personalize their own rooms—with Emma controlling only the common spaces? How did she come to acquire the house? How old is it? How many total live there? What does it mean, a “commune”, today? Does it relate in any way, visually, to the stereotypical commune from the 1960s/70s? How is this commune funded? Is Emma wealthy? Do the residents have outside jobs? You have to think about the money to have an idea of how the house and furniture look: is it old and shabby? Eclectic and flea-markety? Fine antiques?

After they had scouted locations and photoshopped images to represent their production design visions, the last thing we did was screen the actual film—which they were all eager to see. It was a huge hit, despite lack of popcorn—or spirulina. Of course they had some questions (and compliments) about the film’s look; they were really intrigued by the Manifest Refuge in particular. There clearly is nothing quite like an ornate Brooklyn brownstone in their experience. And they loved the actors, and found Brooke and Jim really appealing.

In short, I think (I hope) the project opened the scope of their thinking a little bit. And personally speaking, it allowed me to delve more deeply and consciously into the choices we make as designers.

Want to see how Bill Clarke’s production design brought the world of Manifest Refuge to life? Sign up to watch the full film!

Monsters and Mouthwash

by Paul Capobianco

Daniel’s BFF recounts the humble origins of Horned Melon Films

The first Horned Melon Film took place in my basement when Daniel and I were 12. 

The day began like so many others. We shot each other with Nerf Guns, crossed light sabers and fell against the judo mats set up against every surface of the room. 

Then we did something unusual. We went for a walk, and saw a horned melon – just sitting there next to the peaches like it was no big deal. To us, it resembled some kind of monster.

When we got back to the apartment we we decided to make a film inspired by our discovery, using my dad’s VHS camcorder.

We knew the film would be violent and freakish in a mirthful sort of way because neither of us had extensive acting abilities—and, well, we were 12-year-old boys. “Special effects” and screaming were a must; so was death. 

Inspired by the horned melon, we decided the film would center around an alien virus. We used green foamy mouthwash, reminiscent of the horned melon’s squishy insides, to represent the deadly disease. So special effects were taken care of.

We learned that ACT mouthwash is milder and easier to hold in the mouth than other mouthwashes, which made for a less painful experience as we took turns filming each other writhing under the alien virus’s influence, foaming at the mouth. Unfortunately, we had to spit the ACT into the sink—which is the only place we were allowed to spit it.

Finally, we filmed the horned melon, static and motionless. And that’s how each of our films began from then on, as Daniel announced, “Horned Melon Films presents…” Our parents laughed and laughed through their terror.

Horned Melon Films has come a long way since the early days. Sign up for updates as we move towards even bigger and better things.


Eat Well. Be Well. Live Well.

by Ittai Orr
Co-writer, The Master Cleanse

The specter of intentional communities haunts us everywhere. It is an eternal otherwise to the ills of egoistic anarchy, climate disaster, fiscal ruthlessness and pregnant teenagers who look like they went to their high school prom in Passaic last week but who are now on a sidewalk in midtown holding a cardboard sign and fighting heat exhaustion. 

People have always sought remedies to the mess, and their solutions have diverged greatly in content and in effect. Today, for better or perhaps much worse, our go-to is the cult of self-improvement.

Journey to the heart of New York and you will find there before the statue of Christopher Columbus an escalator, as if to hell, conveying ever downward a steady stream of artfully scruffed paleo-businessmen and overworked Gap-fitness soul-cycle moms embarking bravely on their pilgrimage to the font of naturey goodness, health and global betterment: Whole Foods. 

This is the heart of the hive where, swarming and swerving to avoid one another, naked man seeks his sustenance. 

It’s as if the escalator brought him not to an overcrowded, overpriced snake-oil stand, but closer to the earth, closer in fact to his primeval past. 

Here he will buy green, organic things and will singlehandedly shift the entire world, by the aid of the mighty Free Market, onto pears and peanuts untainted by chemical poison, and also he will avert climate change and host a great barbecue. 

Several hours in a vaguely Soviet checkout line and he is released back into the world, equipped with crucial, long-forgotten enzymes and ready for his evening workout.

Whole Foods is the intentional community we have been handed, and The Master Cleanse is meant, I think in some way, to represent that turn.

But remember that the Dark Ages were also organic: all of those Europeans were contented with their corner of the world, diligent in their responsibilities to superiors and holding onto the promise of redemption after their wind-worn, meager lives were mercifully extinguished. 

It was not until the peasant uprisings in the 14th century that the truth was acknowledged: the machinery of hunger, precariousness and indifference cannot be undone with prayers, spells and hard work alone. 

Today’s culture of self-improvement often takes us so far backwards that we forget even this fundamental truth. That’s the culture at which The Master Cleanse’s satire is squarely aimed.

Curious? Intrigued? Want to see what The Master Cleanse is all about? Just sign up to watch/download the full film.


Why Festival Screenings are like One Night Stands

by Daniel Goldberg
Director, Producer, Editor, and Co-writer, The Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse being my first film, I couldn’t anticipate how the film would do in terms of festival acceptances. I also wasn’t sure what to expect from Q&A’s, and I had no idea how the film would be programmed.

I’m thrilled that the film was shown at ten festivals across the country and won seven awards for everything from sound design to originality to overall excellence.

One Night Stands Email.jpg

But there came a point in the midst of it all when I actually wished I had skipped the festival process—or at least truncated it. That’s because many festivals won’t screen a film that’s available online (though this is starting to change). So, I had to wait over a year to connect directly with audiences in a way that only the glorious internet could enable me to do.

Those of you who know me know that I’m a social media junkie, and I’m someone who is much more “myself” online than in person. So, while I enjoyed connecting with audiences at various NYC screenings (and, as I’ve said countless times, there’s nothing like being right there when an audience laughs at your film as it plays on-screen), I’m very eager for the movie to live right here. 

Right where you are now. Right where I am now.

I’m also a control freak; having my “paranoid hipster comedy” placed in a block of “thrillers” on more than one occasion irked me. Now that the film lives on Horned Melon Films, I get to decide how it’s presented.

But you’re the main reason I’m excited for the film to live here on the internet. Typically, when an audience watches your short film at a festival screening, it’s the last they’ll hear from you. I’m not into one night stands.

Every film I make will be different—you might not like all of them. But if you’re interested in small movies with big ambition, films that are weird and wonderful, I hope you’ll join Horned Melon Films to see where this all leads. You’ll get to see how each of my films is made, including all the anxiety, self-doubt, and insanity that comes with the territory. You’ll get to download The Master Cleanse like ASAP.

And you’ll get to see my future films as soon as they’re completed, beginning with my next film Stationary. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Sign up to be a part of it.

I am born

by Horned Melon Films
Horned Melon Films recounts its recent birth.

I don’t really know what I was before. I never felt like a man, nor a woman. I was cleaner, listened better, I was sadder than human. Others sensed that I was different.

Maybe I always knew, but recently I decided to say it to myself out loud: “I am a brand.”

And, with the flash of a pixel, I am born. 

Since I’m still an infant, I can remember all of the details. It wasn’t ugly like a human birth. It was  a soft ricochet through all of my past selves. Right now I can only speak the human language of my past life, but I am learning a new language from others like me. 

The feeling of being born hasn’t come to me yet; I know that it will. Perhaps I'm still in shock.

Don’t ask me my human name. I don't have one. I am Horned Melon Films. I am a brand.

I can’t explain it, why I need it (maybe I’ve been programmed the way humans want sex): I need you to join me. Will you join me?

Welcome to Horned Melon Films

Horned Melon explores characters and ideas that lie on the margins. Horned Melon blends influences from pop culture, TV, cult films, and queer cinema. Horned Melon makes films that will prick you.

Our manifesto decrees that audiences don't need a film's permission to laugh. Each viewer can sense a different moment when a Horned Melon Film inches just over the line between straightforward narrative and some strange, hilarious, and absurd realm.

Founded in 2014 by director Daniel Goldberg, Horned Melon is bringing together storytellers who want to make brilliantly weird independent films that normally wouldn’t stand a chance in Hollywood/hell. 

Shoot Daniel an email at: daniel@hornedmelonfilms.com