Joe Swanberg keeps this journal in an effort to document the LOL making process and figure out where all his time and money went.


  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Falling In Love Again

    A discussion with David Lowery about editing led us to the conclusion that we both fall in love with close-ups and have a hard time cutting away from them. I'll even take it a step farther and say that I fall in love with people during the production of a film, and have a hard time stopping the camera while I'm filming them. It happened to me on KOTM, where I often let Kris and Kate sit there talking, while I gazed on them with the camera. The same is true for scenes of Kevin and Kate, where I would get lost in their performances. The camera allows me to get very close to people, and really look at them, and I always find it beautiful.

    The same thing is happening with LOL. I'm absolutely falling in love with my actors. Chris, Kevin, Brigid and Tipper are all doing such an amazing job, and I'm loving the opportunity to spend time with them and make a film together. I've spoken before about what a bonding experience it is to make a film with people, and I'm already kind of sad that one day the film will be finished and we'll no longer have this particular reason to spend time with each other and be creative.

    As with KOTM, I'm sure I will remain very close friends with everyone who helped on this film, but the love and caring that I feel towards everyone during production will fade. Right now it's kind of like a fatherly thing, where I see the cast as my children (hang in here with me, I know the analogy is lame), and it's an intense love that makes me want to protect them and ensure that they are happy. It's great while it lasts.

    But this brings me back to the close-up. The greatest of all ups. My favite kind of shot. I'm trying to control my useage during LOL. KOTM was full of close-ups, for good reason, but LOL is a differnt film, one that doesn't call for me to be so tight all the time. My natural instinct is to always get in there tight, but I have to always ask myself if it's best for the film, and in this case, a lot of times it's not.

    But I'm still using every opportunity I can to get in there and really look at these people. For a short time, I can fall in love with them, and I don't want to waste it.

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Cuttin' on the Ritz (lame)

    Today was a good day for editing. So was yesterday. I have all the footage from the St. Louis shoot edited, and I'm working on the beach scene that I shot with Brigid and Chris Paladino last Sunday. I'm extremely happy with the material, and I'm even brave enough to say that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm positive this movie will be finished in a month. I'm shooting two scenes tomorrow, which will fill in the blanks for the beginning of the film, and after that there are only a few more holes that need to be plugged.

    The hard work is only just starting, but there is now an immediate sense of pay-off with each new scene I do. I get the instant gratification of knowing where the scene will go, and what will come before and after it. It's like I have the edge of the puzzle solved, and now I'm tring to fill in the middle, and with each piece that fits, I can see the whole picture a little better. It's exciting. I'm totally motivated to plow ahead.

    And I can also now freely admit that not long ago I was having some major doubts about the film. My focus had shifted back to KOTM, and I just wasn't feeling the LOL vibe. I was putting things off and generally neglecting the project. But that jive is over. It's LOL all the way. I have complete confidence in the film. I'm excited to get it done and start sending it to Festivals. I'm ready for people to see what we've been working on!

    Full speed ahead!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Why you will never see LOL anywhere other than Film Festivals, if it even gets that far.

    Quotes are lifted from this IndieWIRE story.

    "There is no question that films that we would have considered viable just a few seasons ago are too risky to undertake these days," explained ThinkFilm head of distribution Mark Urman. "Small films are smaller than ever and titles that would have done decently a few years back would almost certainly be doomed to abject failure these days."

    >> How would you know? Does the current box office chart match up with your predictions? The key is "ALMOST certainly doomed to failure," not "certainly." People used to take risks on films they believed in.

    "And people will always make films that for whatever reason aren't viable in our extremely competitive marketplace. (With) 18 films reviewed in the New York Times the second Friday of the festival, what does your film have that's going to beat out the others?" Eamonn Bowles posed, adding "A good little film is a good dead film in the current landscape, unfortunately."

    >> Great attitude. With that attitude, you don't even have to try do you? You can just sit back and coast along with sure things. Oh, wait, sure things don't work anymore either do they? Well, guess you'll just have to start blaming the current marketplace, not the poor job everyone is doing.

    "We often found ourselves at this year's Toronto fest passing on good films with good initial reviews if they didn't have the elements to carve out some space in the increasingly Darwinian specialized arena." He (Roadside Attractions' Howard Cohen) added, "I must have turned to my partner Eric (d'Arbeloff) after ten different films and said, 'Good film but is anyone going to see it?'"

    >> I guess not, since you and every other distributor all turned to your partners and asked the same stupid question, then passed on the films.

    "Very few titles felt like they could break beyond a couple of million of dollars at the box office," the (anonymous) Indiewood veteran said. "So all in all, lots of well-made interesting movies that are going to attract people to the directors, writers, actors, etc. -- but not necessarily ones that feel like they can make an impact in the marketplace. With that said, I don't think that means the marketplace (although it is tough) is the defining factor -- it was more about the perceived commerciality of the films this year."

    >> Hmm, so maybe this is why I don't see any exciting movies anymore. Cowards are behind the wheel. How many more of their aquisitions have to fall flat before they figure out it's because they don't know what they're doing anymore? They have no clue what a new generation of cinephiles is looking for. This whole article is depressing. I advise not reading it.

    "A good little film is a good dead film in the current landscape, unfortunately." - EAMONN BOWLES

    Thanks for that little nugget of wisdom, fucker.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Burnt Out

    WOW! That was intense. Down to St. Louis, shooting along the way, shooting late into the night when we got there, waking up and shooting more, then driving back home.

    Somehow about 140 minutes of footage was shot during this 24 hour trip. Gah! It'll probably be less than 15 minutes of editing footage in the film. So much extra material. Why must I keep rolling the camera? I just know that the second I stop recording, something great will happen, and I can't take that risk. It's worth looking through 2 hours of footage I'll never use in order to find 10 great minutes. It sucks, but it's worth it.

    Special shout out to Skip for location scouting and acting in the scene, Kate for staying up late and being a great extra set of hands, even though she was sick, and Kate's mom for putting us up, feeding us, and being awesome in general.

    I hate St. Louis a little bit less now.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Road Movie

    Kevin, Tipper, Kate and I are driving from Chicago to St. Louis today in order to shoot some scenes for the film down there. Then we're turning around and driving back home tomorrow. Ugh. But the scenes are going to be great, and Kate needs a ride to St. Louis, so it all works out fine.

    The second big shooting push starts today, and goes through next weekend. After next weekend, the film should be 90% shot, and it's just a matter of editing and sound mixing. I have about 35 minutes of tight edited footage so far that I'm pretty happy with. I still have no idea where all the scenes will go in the film, but I like them individually. The real test will be to put the final puzzle together. There's a lot of material to work with, and a lot more characters than I had to deal with on KOTM. I'm already realizing how tough it is to balance out a bunch of characters and give everyone enough time. I'm thinking with the next project the cast will shrink again. But it's hard because I love casting so much.

    Monday, September 12, 2005


    I'm getting a lot of emails from people recently who want to be in the movie. Most of the traffic is coming from the sudden explosion of message boards discussing the title. I'm also starting to recruit people for various things on MySpace. I set up an LOL MySpace page: Add me as your friend and stay in the loop about progress with the movie. Don't hesistate to send me a message if you want to help out.

    Editing is coming along well, and we have a game plan now for the rest of production. Kevin leaves on October 15, so that's the deadline for having everything cut enough for him to do a rough audio mix. Then, if I need to work on things after he leaves, I can, but I'm really hoping to have this thing wrapped up by then. The original goal was the end of August, now it's the end of September for having a rough cut, and October 15 for having the whole thing finished.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Bless the Internet

    I just discovered the greatest message board in the history of the Internet. It's a whole thread devoted to the title of this film. Someone found the IMDb page and got a kick out of the title, and decided to amuse the others on this board. Some people hope that we don't know what "LOL" means. Others think it's lame. Some feel like they have to see the film just because of the title. Some wonder if it's going to be a comedy or not. Some are already talking about sequels. It's great.

    The Greatest Movie of 2006

    I can't believe it's already up to 2 pages. I hope they keep going! I hope even more that they want to be in the movie.

    UPDATE: More hoopla about the title on the IMDb Message Boards.

    I hope all these people want to see the film when it's finished.

    UPDATE 2: Yet another message board with people talking about the title. This is getting strange...

    Something Awful Forum - LOL: The Movie

    UPDATE 3: Another one here and another one here and another one here and another one here.

    La la la la la la la la loooooo

    I'm back from Montreal and ready to get working on this thing again. If you want to know how Montreal was, you can check the KOTM Production Journal, where I have pics and reports from the Festival.

    The first little sneak peek into the film world of LOL is now online. It's a video that Kevin's character makes, and there will be a few of these spread around in the movie. This is just the first one. View it, download it, spread it around however you feel. I hope you enjoy it.

    Click here to watch the clip.

    These clips consist of audio made by people looking into a video camera and making noises with their mouths. We have clips from a lot of different people (the teaser above features Susun Buice from Four Eyed Monsters), but we are still looking for more. Please send an email to if you would like to be featured in one of these clips, and we'll tell you how.