Category Archives: Important News

short doc – Black Zombie

I made this short doc, well half doc half promo video for some dudes I just met. Backstory:

Last Saturday I was sitting at a coffee shop with Mairi, and on a whim I sent an introductory email to John Wayland, creator of the fastest ever street legal electric dragster White Zombie, which does 0-60 in 1.8 seconds. Try that.

I’d been following news of White Zombie since 2008, and there hadn’t been any posts for little a while, so I just up and wrote him an email to say hello. He wrote right back. 24 hours later I was in Austin where he and Mitch Medford are converting classic muscle cars to the Zombie 222 electric drive train. I went to the track with them in San Antonio where none of the gas cars could even TOUCH the modified, electric 1968 Fastback. The new car, Black Zombie, is currently running a quarter mile in 12.1 seconds, and does 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds. This is really just beginning for these guys.

If you’d like to support the cause or put yourself in line for a car, visit their Indigogo campaign.

Hot Yoga Teacher

Last summer I shot a yoga video for my friend Alex Dawson. I don’t get to DP much any more, so it was a good chance to use the Epic and apply some of the things I’ve learned in the past year and a half, working with Giovanni Lampassi, Stephen Campbell, Steve Gainer, and Salvatore Totino. It’s taken me and Alex a while to finish this video, but we are nearing the end like…any month now…


I wanted to post some screencaps from the raw Epic 5K footage. I’m happy with how luscious this footage is.   One technical criticism- you may notice a triple image in the highlights of the picture above. That comes from light refracting between the 3 separate filters I had in the matte box. I was using an Arri MB-20 which doesn’t allow you to slam the filters together into one solid block, and that’s the only way to fix this problem. All the same I like the hot highlights.


Here’s me filming an important scene!

A Letter To Snyder’s Of Hanover Regarding Honey Mustard And Onion Sourdough Nibblers

Dear Snyder’s Of Hanover,

I’m writing to let you know that I love your Honey Mustard and Onion Sourdough Nibblers. My corner grocery store in Manhattan recently switched from stocking the 25 calories of fat per serving bags of Sourdough Nibblers, to stocking the 60 calories of fat per serving bags of Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces. The bags look nearly identical, so I assumed that you had changed the recipe and I was heartbroken. Days turned into months. Months turned into 3 months. Then I moved back home to Los Angeles and to my delight, I found bags and bags of your 25 calories of fat per serving Honey Mustard and Onion Sourdough Nibblers at the local Gelson’s.

On the surface, it may seem that the distinction between a Sourdough Nibbler and a Pretzel Bite is negligible, as they are the same shape and size, they come in yellow bags, they are both flavored with Honey Mustard and Onion, and they both require frequent finger wipings if you are eating them while working at the computer. But the similarities end there. First of all, the Sourdough Nibblers are slightly crunchier. Also the Sourdough Nibblers are about 20% less tangy. And finally, the Sourdough Nibblers have 25 calories of fat per serving whereas the Pretzel Bites have 60. If I were a New York City grocer, who knows if I’d appreciate the difference. Of course I’d like to think that I’d be the type of grocer who “got it,” but with all my other grocery duties, it’s hard for me to say that I’d have time to appreciate such a contrast.

I think it’s the intangible things that make one city more “home” than another. People ask me why I love Los Angeles so much, because I got mugged twice here and I never got mugged in New York. But all the same LA is my home, and for all the times I have left, each return feels sweeter than the last. Finally I am back for good (for now) and your 25 calories of fat per serving Honey Mustard and Onion Nibblers are both my reason for and methodology of celebration.

Home At Last,

Michael Blieden

Digital Day at the DGA

Check out this photo of me making an awesome point at Digital Day at the Director’s Guild on July 31st.  I was on the panel with Randy and Jason Sklar, Ondi Timoner, Akiva Schaffer, and Jesse Warren.   I’ve known Randy and Jason since college, but it wasn’t until around 1997 when I had to crash for two weeks at the apartment they shared with Eric Friedman on 54th and 8th that we became super duper tight by going to standup shows all night then coming home to get high and listen to that one Pearl Jam cd that has Release Me.   In ’07 and ’08 I directed the web series Layers and Back On Topps for them.

Jamie Babbit moderated the panel. I’d never met her before, but we walked into the DGA together and I thought “hey there’s a stylish lady.” Then two minutes later I was sitting on stage with her talking about production stuff. Not my best story, but I’m leaving it in.

I see Akiva Schaffer a lot at work, usually at the NBC commissary. Akiva directs all the SNL digital shorts. I was explicitly told when they hired me at Late Night that they wanted their own Akiva, and I felt like that was a lot to live up to. SNL digital shorts rule. His work is outstanding and he’s a super nice human.

A big highlight for me was sharing the stage with Ondi Timoner.  She’s the one speaking in the photo below, and illustrating the size of the talent boner that I have for her.  She directed Dig, which is tied with Sherman’s March as my absolute favorite documentary. Since the panel I’ve gotten caught up on all of her other films because I have grand plans of asking her to coffee and explaining how she’s inspired me.   I always have this point in a documentary project where I’m jabbed with the reality that if I stopped working on the project, not a single person in the world would care.  In fact, no one would miss it except the one or two people who are in it, and maybe some of them would even PREFER if it was never finished. Those are tough moments, because you are usually paying for everything yourself, which feels like you’ve turned recklessness into a powder and sorted it. When I’ve hit that wall on occassion I’ve thought of Ondi’s work, and imagined her perservering through the doubt.  It has helped just a little.   If you watch her movies, Dig especially, you will see. A person has a very limited mount of movies like that which they can produce in one lifetime.    I think the official limit is 5.

Contest idea, what is Jesse Warren (all the way on the right) thinking about in this photo? Two random guesses: Obama, Playstation 3.

This nothing to do with Digital Day but I should mention I’m writing on my non-unibody macbook pro, and this thing gets so hot that if it were a tray of baked goods coming out of the oven I would think “clearly this is too hot to hold, I had better put this aside for a moment.” But because it’s a laptop I somehow think it’s fine to place it on top of my balls.

Copy The Lyrics to “Super Freak” by Rick James Into A Word Doc, Then Find/Replace Every Instance Of “Girl” With “Chair” And This Is What You Get

She’s a very kinky chair

The kind you don’t take home to mother

She will never let your spirits down

Once you get her off the street, ow chair

She likes the boys in the band

She says that I’m her all-time favorite

When I make my move to her room it’s the right time

She’s never hard to please


That chair is pretty wild now

The chair’s a super freak

The kind of chair you read about

In new-wave magazine

That chair is pretty kinky

The chair’s a super freak

I really love to taste her

Every time we meet

She’s all right, she’s all right

That chair’s all right with me, yeah

She’s a super freak, super freak

She’s super-freaky, yow

Super freak, super freak

She’s a very special chair

The kind of chair you want to know

From her head down to her toenails

Down to her feet, yeah

And she’ll wait for me at backstage with her chairfriends

In a limousine

Going back in Chinatown

Three’s not a crowd to her, she says

“Room 714, I’ll be waiting”

When I get there she’s got incense, wine and candles

It’s such a freaky scene




Super freak, super freak

That chair’s a super freak


She’s a very kinky chair

The kind you don’t take home to mother

She will never let your spirits down

Once you get her off the street, ow chair