Balboni Films
Fyre Festival Posters

Looking at 1999 with the benefit of hindsight, it seems symbolic that Woodstock should die the year that Coachella was born, setting new foundations on which the modern festival circuit would be built. With Woodstock’s roots as a gathering of people brought together for music above all else destroyed in a blast of anger over poor festival management, Coachella was, however unintentionally, given a chance to fill in the crater with something else. A festival where the draw wasn’t simply music, but the experience of participation itself. It took a few years, but today, Coachella is a multi-million dollar success.…

Detroit (2017) - Still 2

This review was originally published in Vol. 14, Issue 35 of The Sandpoint Reader.

“Detroit” is not a beautiful film. It’s rough, it’s violent, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s also absolutely necessary.

In July of 1967, the city of Detroit spent five days enduring the 12th Street Riot, sparked by the raid of an unlicensed bar in a black neighborhood by a mostly white police force with a lengthy history of brutality and discrimination. Barely three days after that raid, countless buildings had been burned to the ground, Detroi (2017) - Still 3dozens had died, and a state of emergency had been declared, in …

The Revenant - Balboni Films

This review was originally published in Vol. 13, Issue 14 of The Sandpoint Reader.

Before The Revenant was launched to the forefront of Hollywood this winter as a critical and box office success, the story of Hugh Glass already had a reputation in Hollywood: It was impossible to shoot.

The exact details of Glass’s experience as a fur-trapper in 1823 are subject to much debate, but the legend goes that while on an expedition with General William Ashley in South Dakota, Glass was brutally mauled by a grizzly bear. Fearing the worst and unable to haul a corpse from …

Welcome To Leith - First Run Features - Balboni Films

This review was originally published in Vol. 12, Issue 39 of The Sandpoint Reader.
 
 
“Well this is embarrassing,” someone half-groans behind me in the theater a few weeks ago as a trailer for the documentary “Welcome to Leith” plays.

I’m in Bismarck, North Dakota, and the screen shows a wiry older man with frizzy white hair toting a rifle and spouting racial slurs as he strolls through a rural town elsewhere in the state. After finally seeing the full film, I can certainly feel for that other theatergoer.

The story of Leith is one that strikes a …

This review was originally published in Vol. 12, Issue 19 of The Sandpoint Reader.

Over thirty years ago, George Miller used money he saved while working as an emergency doctor to fund his directorial debut, a violent Australian action film titled “Mad Max.” Shot for next to nothing, the film went on to set box office records, launching two legendary sequels that catapulted Mel Gibson to international stardom and influenced decades of post-apocalyptic media. How did Miller follow up such a gritty, highly-regarded trilogy? By producing and co-writing the acclaimed family films Babe and Happy Feet, as well as …

Holy Hours - Balboni Films

Last year, my good friend and musician Angelo Chiaverini started a groove/thrash metal project and asked if I’d like to be involved. He’s an immensely talented dummer and sound engineer from the same town as myself (one of the first things I ever shot- back when miniDV was a watchable medium- was actually his band in high school), and over the years we’ve worked on a few projects here and there. Our taste in metal has always overlapped nicely so I was absolutely thrilled to contribute vocals, and the final track turned out to be incredible. We decided to create a video for it (with Ben Cleek on acting duties, who provided additional guitar work to the track), and you can find it here. Hope you enjoy.

Is it ever going to start acting like winter? I think to myself, before tossing my camera gear into the truck.

Troy, MT in November & December looks like Children of Men: Everything is the bleak grey color of death and there’s explosions everywhere and Clive Owen is a superhero and women can’t have babies anymore the reality of another long, cold winter is starting to settle in on everyone’s face. Except for mine. I’m heading south in a week, where the eighty degree weather and regular sun is offset only by a loveable, astounding ignorance found only in rural …

DVD Burners are a luxury item. You can still buy VHS at Best Buy. MiniDV cameras are $5,000 and compete mainly with Hi8 and 8mm. Windows XP is new and exciting. Four megapixel digital cameras are top-of-the-line. Online interaction is done largely through forums and chat applications. YouTube is a fantasy. Streaming video usually comes in the form of RealPlayer files and looks like a small mess of pixels changing shades, forming a vaguely recognizable moving picture. It takes hours to download a 40 megabyte file.

Welcome to 2002.

This was the state of things when I started making movies, …

[Please review the introduction in Part I for context]

But graphic violence and brutality are not at all the only means that horror filmmakers use to manipulate the spectator’s senses. On the contrary, an equally popular trend takes the complete opposite road: A cinema of the unknown. In this mode, the film leaves much up to the viewer’s imagination; rather than show you the monster or killer slicing up their victims, the content is only implied, and the spectator’s own mind fills in the gaps.

One of the most notable entries making use of this effect is The Blair Witch …

During my senior year of college, I took an advanced course in Film Theory. It was the sort of class most people imagine film students taking: lots of extremely obscure films, scholarly discussion of the various philosophical, psychological, and social impacts of films, and so on. We even had a soft-spoken British professor to top it off. It was out of the ordinary for our film program, which focused heavily on production and hands-on experience, and while I love experimental films and in-depth discussion thereof, the lectures in this class tended to wander off-topic quickly and never return (we once …