Monday, December 22, 2008

directing the new Plastilina Mosh video

This week, Brian went with Nikos down to Monterrey, Mexico to direct the new Plastilina Mosh video for "Let You Know." PMosh have been friends of ours for about 9 years, and we're super psyched to finally work with them. We also had great luck to work with Chuy as our producer, who we've known for years from our DJ sets at La Santanera in Playa Del Carmen.

Jonaz came up with a basic concept of dressing like Arabs to see what kind of reaction we would get from people in town, then asked us to write the rest. In the end, our concept was that a fictitious Arab country BUYS Mexico. They loved it, so the first thing we did is design a fictitious Arab country's flag, and manufacture and gather props. The rest will be a surprise. We'll post a clip as soon as the edit is completed!

Here's a flickr set (click for full set) of some press/production photos Brian shot on set, as well as some production photos by hot Monterrey photog La Pola. Also, here's some more production photos from Manne. Here's some kind words and nice props from our friends at Nacional Records (much love to Tomas and Natalia).

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[photo by La Pola]

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[photo by La Pola]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Annual Transformer Auction

This past weekend we had the pleasure of being involved in the annual Transformer Auction again at the incredible Halcyon House in Georgetown! According to DC Modern Luxury Magazine, priced at $150 a ticket, and sold out months in advance as November's #1 top listed event, the Transformer Art Auction is "DC's chicest art event".

Nick is a Transformer Gallery board member, Brian sold a photographic piece (in a bidding war!) as one of the featured artists again, and were both featured DJs again (DJs Yellow Fever) with the legendary Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and The Punani Soundsystem.

An incredible night of great art, great food and drink, and great people!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shooting Kings Of Leon Pancake Mountain dance party!

Once again, we film a kid's dance party for Pancake Mountain. This time, hot on the tail of their Saturday Night Live appearance, about 40 kids rocked the stage with Kings Of Leon yesterday at DAR Constitution Hall. You can also see it on RollingStone.com (http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2008/11/14/kings-of-leon-crank-it-up-for-kids-at-pancake-mountain-taping/)

photo of action & cameraman Brian Liu by Joel Didriksen/KingpinPhoto

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Regime Change Starts At Home

Saturday night, we have the honor of DJing the afterparty for Irvine Contemporary Gallery's new show "Regime Change Starts At Home" featuring artists Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant), Al Farrow, and Paul Miller (DJ Spooky). Shepard's been in DC all week and wheatpasting his new pieces on buildings, newspaperboxes, alleys, and more all over town. My personal fave is the huge Obama piece on the side of the Marvin building at the corner of 14th/U St. Check out the show at Irvine. The whole show and show concept works very well. Al Farrow's scuptures are amazing, and should NOT be missed. Show's up till Dec 6. Get off your ass.



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Also, on Nov 15, 2008, we will be DJing the Transformer Gallery's legendary annual auction again at the incredible Halcyon House in Georgetown. This party ranks as one of our favorite parties in DC and is well worth the $150 donation (not even including the open bar and food by sponsors like Mandu, Paisley Fig, & more!). Nick also sits on Transformer's board of director's, and Brian will have a piece in the show for the 2nd year (his autographed portrait of Chuck Brown created a ton of excitement last year!).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Branchage Festival Trailers posted!

here's a couple more trailers we directed and shot earlier this summer on the English island of Jersey for a UK film festival:

Branchage Trailer 2008 No.4

Branchage Trailer 2008 No. 7

THREE other trailers for Branchage Film Festival, if you did not see them before, are HERE.
hope ya dig! leave comments!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Help me name my boring car...

so, after many many years of adventures and photo shoots (Thievery Corp seen photographed in back seat for 12" below), everyone knows my legendary beat-up '87 Volvo finally had to be put down early this year... only to be replaced by a sensible, reliable, functional, clean, perfectly working grey '97 Toyota Camry, slightly void of any character.

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well, i've often named our busses on tour ("The Ring Stinger", "The Future", etc), so felt like i needed to name this car as well to finally give it some personality.

here are the two choices. PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE:



thanks a bunch,
brian

Friday, September 12, 2008

just a teaser...

And so it begins.....



due to film festival entry rules and fundraising politics, im not sure im actually supposed to make this video teaser public. anyways, if it doesnt work, go to our account here: [http://www.youtube.com/user/toolboxdc] and add us as your friend.

email us for more info.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

R.I.P. trusty old lamination machine

not that im proud to have been a lawbreaking young man, but many many moons before the Mother's Against Drunk Driving were kicking ass, or the War On Terror was the scourge of our nation, and waaaaaaay before computer design (probably around 1987), a buddy and i were making a variety of fake ids by hand out of the one-hour photo i worked part-time at.

despite enabling some underage drinkers and concert-goers in the late 80s (read my file when i was under investigation by the secret service), i do know that i pretty much became a graphic designer at that exact moment without even realizing it. funny how this strange little endeavor help make me the artist that i am today...

anyways, i bring this all up because the lamination machine i was using way back then in 1988 died today (R.I.P) just after laminating my hunter's safety license (no, i dont hunt... it's a long story). well, that little machine helped get some kids into College Park MD bars in the 80s, myself into a ton of shows and raves, and more recently, produced years of tour passes for Thievery Corporation, Dust Galaxy, art pieces for the Art Director's Club, IDs and bagtags for all the filmcrews i've worked with, and countless other random projects ive worked on.

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Rest in peace, my lil trusty old lamination machine.... you were the best!

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Branchage Trailers are up!!!

Check out these trailers we wrote, directed, and shot for this new UK Film Festival!!! (more info here in our earlier post)

Please do leave comments and tell us your faves! These are the first three, the last four will be up shortly.





Cork identity

Longtime friends of ours, Diane Gross & Khalid Pitts, opened their long anticipated wine bar, Cork, earlier this year on 14th/S Streets, NW in the old Sparky's space. Toolbox was responsible for the logo and identity (yaay!), Eric Gronning was the architect, Ron Tanaka (formerly of City Zen) is the chef, Lizzy from Paisley Fig is the dessert genius, and if you can actually get into the place, you'll have some great food and drink. Congrads guys!

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Hutchy "Gas Prices" video

Nick & I had some fun shooting Hutchy's music video for "Gas Prices" & working with Robin Bell for the first time. Hot hot DC summer day, crazy wardrobe on Nick, our in-house pole dancer and babe magnet.

all available on itunes, of course! also limited pressing 7" vinyl and cds.



also, Dub Prices video:

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Solitary Life of Cranes


This week, we are working on our original score for Eva Weber & Samantha Zarzosa's 27 minute film, The Solitary Life of Cranes. Jerry Busher and I are currently putting the finishing touches on the filmscore, and are very much looking forward to seeing this beautiful piece on the big screen, and hearing our score combined with the sound design in luscious 5.1 surround! Also, much thanks to Winston Yu for the violin/viola session and Will Rast for the keyboards.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Silverdocs this week!

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It's that time of the year again in suburban Silver Spring, MD!!! Silverdocs Film Festival is full on again this year. Last year i had the honor of serving on the jury, while this year, i'm attending... mostly in hopes of inspiring myself to have a completed film ready for next year's fest. For anyone that doesn't know, Silverdocs is the Discovery Channel/AFI Documentary Film Festival that is currently in it's fifth year now, and kicking ass. This is by far the most cerebral of all the doc fests i have attended, with an always amazing film programming schedule.

This year's highly anticipated symposium special guest speaker was Spike Lee, who was vacantly inspiring, speaking about his documentary work in particular. Unfortunately, most of us felt that the discussion fell flat, partially due to the disappointing performance of the moderator/interviewer, a reporter from The Denver Post.

In any case, i've been running around with festival regulars/doc gurus Ryan Harrington, Danielle DiGiacomo from IndiePix, Liz Ogilvy from Docurama, Simon Kilmurry from POV, Andrew Mer, Mark Rabinowitz from Cinelan, Sadie & Jill from Full Frame FF, etc having an inspired week full of films, parties, discussions with Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) about his new hi def art film project about the "sound of ice" in Antarctica, checking out Oscar winner Alex Gibney's panel discussion, and more...

So far, my year's pick is "The English Surgeon" by Geoffery Smith, an unflinching look at a friendship between two doctors tied through brain surgury (bonus: music score by Nick Cave).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Judging at Jackson Hole Film Festival

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This year, i was honored to be asked to return to the fifth annual Jackson Hole Film Festival as a judge for the 2nd year in a row.

This year i also had the pleasure of DJing the filmmaker's party, helping bring Big Sky Award winner "Class C" to also win in it's category at JHFF, and also participating in the Q&A for Virginia Williams' film "Frontrunner," which we happened to help shoot, designed graphics, and handled the music supervision/score for.

It was a pleasure to spend time with the JHFF crew again (Mel, Cevin, Jason, Audrey, Diane, Eben, Noam, Todd, Erika...), as well as HBOs Greg Rhem, "Frontrunner's" Virginia Williams, "Volcanic Sprint's" Steve & Angie Dorst, actor Bill Pullman, and the whole "Class C" crew!

Outside of seeing some amazing films (don't miss "Man On Wire"!!), and being set in one of the most beautiful towns in America, this festival has grown exponentially over the three years i've attended. Despite being a festival for both narrative as well as documentary, they have put an enormous focus on their "Global Insight" category, and making the festival as conscious and green as possible. This year, they even managed to get United Nations Secretary General Moon to attend and make remarks and meet filmmakers. I've been hearing people mention that this year's JHFF is much like Sundance was 15 years ago! Great programming, great staff, great sponsors, great parties...

Branchage and the UK island of Jersey

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In efforts to promote the upcoming inaugural Branchage Film Festival on the UK Channel Island of Jersey, taking place this September 25-28, we directed a series of 7 trailer spots. These spots will be online, local TV, and running before every film screening in the festival. We wrote them in 3 days, and within another 2.5 days (on NO budget), travelled to Jersey, crewed, cast, and shot them all. Many thanks to Jerry for help with the music and Nikos for help with the animation.

Im pretty happy with the way they turned out as well. Please feel free to comment on what you think about them. Watch them here.

Shooting Kate Pierson of The B-52's for Pancake Mountain!

The Mountain continues onward...
Too bad the other band members backed out at the last minute. Thanks for being a trooper, Kate!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

London cans


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Originally uploaded by toolboxdc
This week, while in London, i had the privilege of checking out Banksy's "The Cans Festival" underpass "exhibition" on Leake Street near Waterloo station in South London. Amazing. This one of a kid with a weapons mobile is my fave, but check out the rest of my photos by clicking here to link to my flickr page.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some interesting blogs regarding design "appropriation"...

Check it out....
Im NOT taking sides at all, but here's some interesting design critique....

Fuct design vs Obey design:
http://www.brghtnghts.com/blog/?page_id=46

story: "Shepard Fairey Threatens To Sue Artist for OBEY Giant Parody":
http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

story: "Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey":
http://www.art-for-a-change.com/blog/2007/11/obey-plagiarist-shepard-fairey.html

story: "The Art of Appropriation" (thanks to Robert Wagner for the link)
http://www.supertouchart.com/2009/02/02/editorial-the-medium-is-the-message-shepard-fairey-and-the-art-of-appropriation/

story: Shepard is right, and the photog is cool:
http://www.hulu.com/watch/57787/the-colbert-report-obama-poster-debate---david-ross-and-ed-colbert

story: "AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image"
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9652OD01&show_article=1&catnum=8

story: "Obey Saks Fifth Avenue?"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/fashion/08ROW.html?_r=2

Flight of The Conchords in DC


nuff said....

[photo from DC Lisner Auditorium show by Brian Liu]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Errol Morris at AFI Silver Theater, MD


Is it possible for a photograph to change the world?

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a preview of Errol Morris' new doc about Abu Ghraib prison and the photos that shocked the world. Silverdocs brought esteemed director Errol Morris to the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD to present "Standard Operating Procedure."

Following the screening, Morris openly addressed a number of questions from the film itself to his mysterious "Interratron" interviewing machine.
Some quotes:
  • "I also have committed the crime of photography."
  • "I dont see it as just a film about Iraq, or just a film about torture."
  • "The "Interratron" is designed to preserve eye contact... It focus' the attention on the interview itself, rather than the camera apparatus itself, the crew, etc." (he's used it for 15 years and still feels like he's learning about it. The only people who ever object to using it are the ones who need the camera to perform.)
  • "My wife says that even if noone sees the film now, at least it will have a life in the future... maybe after im dead."

As enlightening as the film was, Morris himself expanded on his messages during the Q&A. Currently writing an essay for The New Yorker about Sabrina Harman, the smiling female soldier in the infamous thumbs-up photo, he referenced the Cheshire Cat, whose smile is seen, but not the cat itself. "If not for her photos, the world would have never known..." He sympathetically noted that these young teenage soldiers were victims of many sorts (rank, love, media, etc.), and are now being punished for embarrassing the president, the government, the army, and the US.... They may not have been totally faultless, but they have simply committed the crime of photography. [more clips here]

Following the screening, i had a nice opportunity to chat at the reception w/ Silverdocs programmer Skye Sitney, Silverdocs director Patricia Finneran, Heavy Metal Parking Lot director Jeff Krulik, and Errol Morris himself. Many thanks to Silverdocs for the invite.

Hip-Hop in the City of God at National Geographic

Friday night, i just saw an incredibly inspiring panel discussion featuring Chuck D (Public Enemy), controversial Brazilian hip hop artist/novelist/filmmaker MV Bill, and two founding members of an organization called "4Real" at the 400 capacity National Geographic Theater at 17th/M, NW DC.

Most notable was Sol Guy from 4Real who started out as a young canadian rapper, then record label slave, then record label exec, who one day got the opportunity to film in Sierra Leone. This experience opened his mind and changed his life and mindset forever. He couldn't understand how these impoverished people and child soldiers at war idolized the hip hop world, while the actual hip hop world was at home, "wearing $10,000 around his neck to show the world that he was 'a man.'" Sol eventually joined forces with his friend Josh Thome, who also felt burnt from his experiences working in the NGO world, and created 4Real, dedicating themselves to using media for social purposes. 4REAL takes high profile U.S. actors such as Cameron Diaz and Casey Affleck and musicians such as M.I.A. and Flea on a global journey, connecting them with innovative young changemakers who are using art and culture to radically effect positive change in their communities and to EDUCATE the world. They showed us more video clips of Joaquin Phoenix in the Brazilian Rainforest, Mos Def with MV Bill in the City of God slums in Brazil. A live performance by MV Bill closed the night.

To be honest, we've seen all this before... in fact, I've seen all this over and over again... So what makes this group of people different from all the rest of the bullshit artists making a buck off of being poitically correct? Im not sure, but i think hearing what Sol Guy had to say, speaking his free mind, regardless that he was on a stage speaking on a panel in Washington DC at National Geographic with Chuck D, being taped in front of a live audience of 400, gave me the feeling that his motives were completely earnest. In fact, with my entire career toeing the line between pop culture and humanitarian work, this shit is straight up my alley... Id love to get involved.

One of the best things said was that they wanted to spread the message that, "being informed is cool," and being an ignorant, narrowminded dumb motherfucker is not.

Much respect!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Toolbox speaks on panel for American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA DC)

Last night, at new DC dinner/drinks hotspot Marvin, ToolboxDC spoke to a sold out crowd of approx 50 (mostly) graphic designers on inspiration, attitude, lifestyle, DIY, and how to have a professionally satisfying creative career in DC.

The ubiquitous Philippa Hughes of the Pinkline Project moderated the all-star panel of Brian and Nick from Toolbox, Jayme McLellan of Civilian Art Projects and David Fogel of Eighty Eight D.C. Rather than a straight lecture or portfolio strokeoff, a nice informal "conversation" and frank exchange of ideas was had between all the panelists and curious audience members. After the panel, Nick and I both had the pleasure of finally meeting fellow local designer Monica Bussolati, whose path we've never seemed to cross for some reason.

Thanks again to all the panelists, audience members, and to the AIGA for all the love.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Toolbox speaks, Judging Jackson & Judging Shorts

TOOLBOX SPEAKS:
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On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM, Nick and Brian will be speaking for the American Institutes of Graphic Artists (AIGA) about their uncompromising style of creativity, and how to exist happily as a creative professional within all the bullshit bureaucracy in DC.

"SOUL'D BUT NOT OUT":
• Nick Pimentel and Brian Liu of ToolboxDC will rant about their uncompromising approach and the inspiration for their eclectic creative experiences, and will mix it up afterwards as the evening's DJs, Yellow Fever.
• Moderator Philippa Hughes of the Pinkline Project will give you the “in” on D.C.’s independent art scene
• David Fogel of Eighty Eight D.C. will let you in on how he brings art to life
• Jayme McLellan of Civilian Art Projects has got the lowdown on what it takes to start a gallery.

click here to pay money to have us lecture you to get off your asses!

JUDGING JACKSON:
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Following Disarm's Best Global Insight award at Jackson Hole Film Festival in 2006, Brian has been asked again to be a judge at the 2008 Jackson Hole Film Festival for the 2nd year in a row. Brian will also be DJing the Festival's best parties!

JUDGING SHORTS:
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Have you heard of the 48 Hour Film Fest? Well, our good friend Doug Whyte created the International Documentary Challenge in the same spirit, where documentary filmmakers all over the world have 5 days to complete a film short. This year, Brian was honored to be a judge.

Monday, March 24, 2008

This week in New York: Indiepix Cinema Eye Awards & former ToolboxDC designer/studio manager Paul Weil







This week I attended the FIRST Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking, annual awards recognizing the craft of nonfiction or documentary filmmaking. The awards ceremony, packed with documentary world heavyweights, was held on March 18, 2008 at the IFC Center in New York City.

Danielle DiGiacomo, my recent partner-in-crime, and Cinema Eye Honors producer from IndiePix, invited me to attend the awards ceremony. How could i not go? Even when i arrived at the IFC Center, I hadn't yet quite realized the magnitude of what i was attending, but it quickly became obvious to me that I was witnessing history in the making. With documentaries having such a rich history and effect on our society, it's sad and mindboggling that to this point there had not been any other organized recognition for docs other than a single Oscar award for Best Documentary. How can that be?

Started by filmmaker and reknown blogger AJ Schnack ("Kurt Cobain, About A Son"), the Cinema Eye Honors filled a much needed hole in filmmaking recognition. Can you believe that before this award, there was no award for best documentary cinematography, or best production, or best director? ...only the single general Oscar for Best Doc. Pretty disgraceful of the Academy, actually....

Check out all the winners here! By the way, I haven't seen either Manda Bala (Send A Bullet) or The Monastery yet, but im definitely dying to now!

In any case, it was an honor to be a guest, be surrounded by such great energy and inspirations, and to be a witness to this historical moment. Cheers to my friends Danielle, Pamela Cohn, Jason & Jordan from IndiePix, DJ/Composer Ionic Furjanic, AJ, and everyone else involved in organizing this great event and creating A NEW INDUSTRY STANDARD!

Finally, as a side note, the next day, Danielle and I had the pleasure of relaxing in Brooklyn for an entire rainy day with former ToolboxDC designer and studio manager Paul Weil, his wife stylist Johanna Methusalemsdottir, and their 13 month old baby Lola (and our pal Vinnie Angel, who makes his legendary Tampon Cases). Lola is without a doubt the most beautiful baby I've ever seen, and makes me tear up each time i see her. We're very proud of Paul, but he is also sorely missed here in DC and at Toolbox.

-brian

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Marvin art timelapse video

on vimeo: on youtube:

You may have now been to or heard of Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation’s amazing new DC restaurant/lounge in tribute to Marvin Gaye at 14th/U Street, NW called Marvin. Eric commissioned ToolboxDC to design and build an installation piece for Marvin in the form of a large mixed media mural of Marvin Gaye, now prominently displayed as the restaurant's centerpiece. The beautiful piece measures 6 ft by 10 ft, and is actually even for sale (please contact us at info@toolboxdc.com if interested).

This is a timelapse film documenting the lengthy installation process as done by Brian Liu and Nick Pimentel of ToolboxDC in 10/07.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

True False Doc Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri



























Last week at Big Sky Film Fest, I was more than happy to be persuaded by my co-juror, Danielle from Indiepix, to come to David Wilson's True False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. Im coming to the end of my film festival run both as film director (disarmfilm.com) and as juror now, and i have to say that this was my best film festival experience yet. Hyped for years by everyone i've encountered at other festivals, somehow, this relatively new (5 years) non-juried documentary film festival attracts the best in films, industry, and attendees.

The first day was snowing a bit, but it cleared up to be a GREAT warm weekend here as a hotel-room crashing guest of Indiepix. All the hype is true. This festival is amazing, from the programming side (all with Q&As), panels, the hospitality, the variety of great venues and fun parties, the town itself (great food and thrifting), musicians before each film, as well as the late late late night hotel slaying filmmaker after after after parties and incredibly generous booze and food sponsors!

Columbia is essentially overtaken by the festival during these days. The amazing thing is, in addition to the midwestern charm and small-town hospitality, this particular town embraces the festival so wholeheartedly in such an ernest way that is not forced or contrived or financially driven in any way. Also the people in town are TOTALLY UP FOR IT! Sold out films at venues all over town were packed, but were still fairly lenient with opening up standing-room seats. Even at the promo viewing of Guy Maddin's new film, an abstract, expressionistic art piece blurring the lines between doc and narrative, the large venue was filled with an open minded audience of all ages that completely "got" the film and stayed for the Q&A. I dont even see this in art theaterhouses in large cities.

"American Teen," "Man On Wire", and "Forbidden Lies" win my personal awards for mindblowing documentaries of the festival.
Some other awards:
  • "An Audience Of One" director Michael Jacobs = dancefloor masher
  • A&E's Ryan Harrington = hotel room slayer
  • Aussie "Forbidden Lies" director Anne Broinowski = creepy "Kaiser Soze" award
  • insane marching band from Chicago = best party band ever
Some more blogging on True False:
  • IndiePix True False blog reports: here and here.
  • AJ Schnack's True False blog reports: here and here
  • Pamela Cohn's blog: here and here.
Much love to my True False crew!:
IndiePix Documentary Guru/my Big Sky co-juror/new best road buddy Danielle DiGiacomo and her twin sister Alana, Indiepixer Jordan, Indiepixer Jason Tyrrell, Ionic Furjanic (composer: "Manda Bala" and "Jesus Camp"), Ryan Harrington of the Tribeca Gucci Doc Fund, Docurama’s Liz Ogilvie, doc blogger Pamela Cohn, Michael Jacobs (director: "An Audience of One"), Daniel Robin (director: 2008 best Sundance short "My Olympic Summer"), Missoula animator Andy Smetanka representing Guy Maddin's new film, UK doc short director Xanthe Hamilton, David & Ashley (directors: "Mardi Gras Made In China"), AJ Schnack (director: "Kurt Cobain, About A Son"), and Kasia & Sarah from Current TV...

now.... need... coffee... immediately...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Daniel Johnston on Pancake Mountain



Whoa!
Today we shot legendary musician/artist Daniel Johnston (seen in pic with myself and show host Garnett Soles) as our special guest on DC based children's show Pancake Mountain. He was amazing, and performed two improv songs with opening act Benjy Ferree as his backing band. I can't even begin to describe how awesome it was (just watch the clip)..... This could probably be my favorite Pancake Mountain dance party shoot yet (closely followed by Arcade Fire, MIA, The Subways, and Bright Eyes)! If you don't know who Daniel is, please rush out and watch the incredible documentary, The Devil And Daniel Johnston (trailer). If you don't know what Pancake Mountain is, please rush out and watch the incredible documentary, The Devil And Daniel Johnston...


i found this online. this should give you a good idea of what he's all about. it's so sweet.:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Big Sky outside... but happily stuck inside.

We screened Disarm at the 2006 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, which was my first film project, my first time directing, my first time screening it to the public, and my first time participating in a film festival. Well, for an event full of scary personal firsts, and despite screening at 10am on a freezing -20˚ thursday to a decent group of brave viewers, i had a blast, learned a ton about the documentary film world, and made some great connections and friendships there. Not to mention, i got to party a ton with legendary filmmaker Les Blank (who also happened to shoot the cemetary acid scene in Easy Rider), who is 73 this year!

Last week, I was flown back to Missoula, Montana to be a judge at the 2008 Big Sky Film Fest, and again had a great time. Im honored that this will be my third time in the last year judging documentary films at film festivals, including both Jackson Hole Film Fest in WY and Silverdocs (Discovery Channel/AFI) Film Fest in DC. This location of Missoula seems a bit remote, but the quality of the programming, the attending panelists and filmmakers, the great vibe, and the accessibility of everyone at the festival makes this festival an insider's secret. This is NOT a place for VIP badges, industry-insider secrets, closed parties, or big egos. This IS a place to relax, meet people, learn about the documentary film world, and to be inspired. It's a beautiful small town full of friendly people who are enthusiastic about the festival, and actually come to the screenings. This festival has definitely grown since i was there last, and will surely continue to grow in size and reputation. My fingers are crossed for the Big Sky Festival producers to get more sponsorship and attention.

The category i was judging was specifically for the feature films involving the American West. Along with my new pal and co-juror Danielle DiGiacomo (seen in photo above with Festival Director Damon Ristau) from IndiePix Films, we unanimously awarded "Class C" the "Big Sky Award" this year. I was also personally pleased that the film was made by first-time filmmakers from Montana about small town Montana Girls High School Basketball, though the fact that it was from Montana had no influence on our decision. This film isn't actually a sports doc at all, and is much more of a sociological snapshot into American culture. After i presented the award to the filmmakers, i even heard the producer emotionally tearing up as he called his wife with the news... Congrads!

This year, in addition to meeting Danielle, i had the pleasure of meeting Simon Kilmurry, the executive producer (read: gatekeeper) of POV, who couldn't have been nicer or more informative. I also met Hart and Dana Perry, who were being honored with a retrospective of their work, but hadn't heard of before the festival. I quickly discovered that Hart had been filming at Woodstock, directed "Harlan County USA", toured filming the Scorpions world tour for years, did the "Schools Out" music video for Alice Cooper, was Jessie Jackson's personal cameraman, etc... the list literally goes on and on.... Hart and Dana pretty much enlightened us all with their incredible stories night after night at the bar.

In case you were wondering, "Jimmy Rosenberg: The Father, The Son, and The Talent" won Best Feature.

Here's a list of some other doc films i saw that blew me away:
  • "In The Shadow of The Moon"
  • "Up The Yangtze"
  • "An Audience Of One"
  • "Kurt Cobain, About A Son"
  • "When Clouds Clear"
  • "The Ville" (short)
At this point, im incredibly inspired and can't wait to get back to work on my own projects now!

- Brian Liu
Creative Director, ToolboxDC

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

big Toolbox update!!


Hi folks. If you're on the east coast, we hope you’re keeping warm!
In any case, it’s been ages since we’ve updated anyone on what we’ve been up to...

This season, Toolbox is welcoming many new clients, not to mention unveiled new branding identities for The Goethe Institut’s Film | Neu Festival, The National Conservation System Foundation, New Zealand’s Cluster Munitions Coalition, 14th Street's new Cork Wine Bar, and more.

You may have also heard of Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation’s amazing new DC restaurant/lounge dedicated to Marvin Gaye at 14th/U Street, NW called Marvin. Eric commissioned ToolboxDC to build, design and create an installation piece for Marvin in the form of a large mixed media mural of Marvin Gaye, now prominently displayed as the restaurant's centerpiece. The beautiful piece measures 6 ft by 10 ft, and is actually for sale. Please contact us directly.

Our award winning feature documentary film on landmines, Disarm, was picked up and broadcasted by Al Jazeera International, and is currently in negotiations with dvd distributors. This fall, Disarm screened in Paris and in LA, as a special presentation by Global Inheritance and Quiksilver Surf Company. Brian Liu was also a judge at Jackson Hole Film Festival and Silverdocs (Discovery Channel/AFI) Film Festival, and will also be judging at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Feb 14 to 19. In addition to a number of commercial shoots, some of our recent video work can also be seen in a new live DVD, Circle of Friends, by Bob Mould (formerly of Husker Du and Sugar) as well as the upcoming Pancake Mountain DVD #5 (episodes 9 and 10).

Along with the help of our friend Jerry Busher (Fugazi, French Toast, All Scars, Dust Galaxy), we've also just completed the music supervision, scoring and branding, of Frontrunner, a documentary film by Virginia Williams about the first woman to run for president of Afghanistan. Frontrunner was selected and premiered at Slamdance last month, and will soon continue on it's film festival tour.

Last week, London based charter airline XL, in combination with the Antigua National Tourist Board and the St. Kitts National Tourist Board, sent Brian with photo assistant Juhi Baig to shoot still photographs in Antigua and St. Kitts to encourage new tourism in those Carribean destinations.

Lately Toolbox has been featured a bit in a variety of news media: a piece of furniture we designed with our friend JP Sutphin is featured in the current issue of Readymade Magazine, some of Brian's still photos are in the current issue of Print Magazine, ToolboxDC has won an honorable mention prize in AIGA's Cause/Effect contest, a spread of Brian’s photography also appears in Roger Gastman's new book “Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents”, and Brian’s new classic portrait of gogo funk legend Chuck Brown taken for the current issue of Swindle Magazine also started a bidding war at this year's incredible Transformer Art Gallery auction. Chuck mentioned to us that the photo is, “The best photo ever took of me!”

Keep us in mind for your creative needs, and keep on the lookout for DJs Yellow Fever every Tuesday night at St. Ex and Marvin, and alternating Weds at the world famous Eighteenth Street Lounge!

Finally public

ok. so after years of people asking us to put up some kind of public accessible venue with updates as far as what's going on with the two of us, we're finally launching a blog. im already getting pretty tired of feeling forced to update myspace and facebook all the time. let's see how this goes....