First Impressions on Netflix Instant Watching

When I logged into Netflix today I saw a “Watch Now” tab that got me excited. I had heard about their plans to stream movies over the Internet, and I knew that they would have The Girl From Monday available as part of the service. So I decided to check it out while running Firefox in OS X. I was quickly rebuffed. No problem, I rebooted into Windows XP and fired up Firefox. No luck again. I rummaged around in the cobwebby recesses of my hard drive and dug up an old piece of software called Internet Explorer, which allowed me to install the Netflix Instant Watching plugin. I went to The Girl From Monday page and it had a “Play” button below the Queue button. The software checked my connection speed and determined that I could play High Quality video. After about 20 seconds, the movie started.

The picture quality is fairly good, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “DVD Quality.” The video resolution might be 720×480 (I’m not sure that it is, but it could be) but the compression leaves a certain softness that you don’t get on a DVD. Since The Girl From Monday was shot at about 12 frames per second on DV, it’s not the best test for this sort of thing, so I tried a comparison with some films I had seen before. The Matrix is available, but for some reason it’s 4:3, which is ridiculous. It looked pretty good, but not great. Zoolander was at the correct aspect ratio, but had the same look of pretty good Internet Video.

I was hoping for something a little better. Give me a longer waiting time up front and double the quality, then you’ve got something really special. If I could get HD over the Internet from Netflix, I’d buy a computer for my living room right now. There’s no way I’d buy an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player, since I don’t want to end up with a Betamax machine, but if Netflix gave me on-demand, high definition playback, that would be incredible. As it is now, it’s just a sideshow. I’d still rather wait a day for the DVD to come in the mail.

The Pizzamen

When I was in high school, my friend Taj Musco made a movie called The Pizzaman. He asked me to play a series of pizza delivery boys who are brutally murdered by a pizzacutter-wielding psycho. We first met at the Mount Wachusett Community College Summer Drama Camp when we were 8 years old, so he knew I had some serious acting chops. I was on set for 2 days of shooting, and had a blast. When I saw it several months later I was really shocked. It was like a real movie! It was stylish, funny, scary, and 30 minutes long!

A few years later, The Pizzaman won an award for being the best damn movie on Cable Access TV or something like that. Taj and I went down to the ceremony with the idea of making some sort of behind-the-scenes movie. We staged a goofy event when Taj got the award that was based on the “soy bomb” incident that nobody remembered at the time


and even fewer people remember it now. But that bit of wackiness inspired a story of behind-the-scenes intrigue. We wrote a fun script called “Is This The Pizzaman?” The title and the man supposedly making the documentary were both inspired by “This is Spinal Tap” but the structure was a lot more like the Christopher Guest movies. We shot an amazing array of elements over a few weeks (on S-VHS!!). We spent the summer editing (tape to tape!!!) and came up with a companion piece that isn’t quite as exciting as The Pizzaman, but is certainly a lot sillier. I made Camera Noise two years later, and you can see some of the beginnings of the arrogance of the “Kyle” character here. Although if I remember correctly, my main inspiration for my interview style was Quentin Tarantino, who talks very quickly and animatedly. I went the opposite direction in Camera Noise, going for the extremely dry tone I prefer now.

Fay Grim Trailer on Apple!

The official Fay Grim trailer is now available on Apple Trailers. It’s a lot like the one I made for festival promotion, but it’s more professional and fancy. My festival trailer will be included on the DVD, which I’m really happy about. It’s one of my favorite pieces of editing. The DVD includes a 17 minute “making of” documentary that I edited too. It goes on sale May 22, the Tuesday after the May 18 theatrical and TV release. HDNet Movies will show the movie at 8:30pm and 11pm on May 18, which is the way I recommend everyone watches it. If it’s not being projected digitally in your local theater, you’re missing out on quite a treat.