Thursday, December 27, 2007

Early AM Meanderings!

I find it a difficult thing to come to terms with. This thing we call the Internet. I mean first off it's a great way to meet people who you wouldn't ordinarily meet, but do we actually know the people we are communicating with? I mean the Internet is this BIG thing that seems to give us alternate identities which become sort of our alter-egos.

Don't me wrong I've met some interesting artists here on the web, and I think it has it's use, but the majority of the web is filled with nonsense, and just plain self indulgences. I've always subscribed to the belief that Grocho Marx once said, and that was "any club that would have me as a member I wouldn't want to be in", and that's what I see in the Internet. Cliques, groups, and porn. Is the Internet a great marketplace, or just a corporate whorehouse. I mean we now can get things twenty four seven, and have it delivered to us in a day or two. Is this commerce or is it just plain corporate commerce disguised to look like a democratized flea market.

I have no problem with companies selling their wares, but sometimes I just hate what I see. I voice my opinion, and what happens to it? It's drowned out by a million other voices, and some with a lot more deep pockets then me. There are examples of people who use the Internet to their advantage, and actually sell their products but at what costs. Do they make a profit? Are these authors, painters, and photographers heard or are their websites just ignored by the general public.

No this is not a rant from a failed artist. It's just a rant on an observation. It's always GREAT to hear peoples opinions, and have discussions, but I find that rare. No matter how enlightened we think we are I always wonder why we hide behind the computer and waste so much time looking at it. Wouldn't it be more productive to go out and MEET people. Maybe that's done to some extent. I have been to several meetings with artists, and it always is a great feeling to talk about each others work, and discuss what we are all doing, but the connections never last. It's what can you do for me, and if nothing then we move on.

There's a disconnect I feel, and I don't much care for it. Real life always wins because we all have to live, pay the bills, raise the kids, pay the mortgage, etc, etc, and etc. But sometimes I just wish we could rise above our own egos, and just say hello, and start a discussion.

Okay that's it. I'm done. Just a random thought early in the AM.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Spinning Wheels!

So no reviews, and no production news. Just some thoughts at the end of this year. I've been trying to make this blog a blog that deals with filmmaking, but real life always interrupts. I'm basically an AV geek who is fortunate to work in a field where I can use my skills, but I've been trying to get inspired, and do another film. A film that counts, and a film that if it winds up to be the last film I do I'll be happy and satisfied.

So hence the schizophrenic blog entry. I guess we all sit down this time of year and count blessings, and for others it's a time of deep depression. There seems no in-between here, so we do what we can, and push on. Filmmaking has been something of a saving grace for me. It feed my dreams, and helped me focus in those wayward years called the teens. It's also inspired me in my adulthood, and I've seen some great films in the past that sometimes just come and go. You would think more people would see them, and be inspired by these films, but in such a crowded field some films are just swept away in a multimedia frenzy. The successful films or should I say the "good" films are made with a lot of passion, love, and determination. These films were made by filmmakers who cared about the films they made. The unfortunate thing is that studios don't see the dollar signs behind them, and only promote the films marginally. These films fall through the cracks and are rediscovered on cable, or DVD if they are lucky.

So what does someone like me hope to ever accomplish with no studio behind him, and a stubborn streak that just won't let go? I guess I want or better yet NEED to make the best film I can and hope that it's discovered by the real people out there. A few years ago this would only be a pipe dream, but now with the Internet things are possible. But only if the story is good, and only if the story touches people can it be a success. The public needs to be willing to spend some of their hard earned cash on an unknown filmmaker. If the story is worth it people will tell other people, and that's how a good film now gets distributed.

So I sit spinning wheels. Writing, and re-writing, and more re-writing, and always behind the 8 ball because filmmaking is NOT the only one thing I love now. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything, and so the wheels spin and spin. Maybe I'll get there, and maybe not. I really can't say, but at least the wheels are spinning, and I'm trying. What else can I do?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I am Legend (2007)

When I first heard that they were going to try do Richard Matheson's story "I am Legend" I thought sure why not. When I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the lead role I just shook my head, and said "they still don't get it". That was before the Terminator became the Governor of California. It's been that long since I've heard rumors about this film, and now it's out starring Will Smith as our lead. My interest began to rise at hearing and seeing some of the clips from the film.

I can say that by far Will Smith is one of the best actors of our era. It's been a long road for Mr. Smith. I mean seriously did you ever think that the "Fresh Prince" would become an Oscar worthy actor? Beat you didn't, but he has, and it is Will Smith who carries this film. That and his faithful German Shepard companion. The movie doesn't follow Mathesons classic, but it does have a lot of updating, and it sticks to the stories premise about a virus that has broken out, and most of the Earth's population is dead. I'm not going to call this a bad adaptation because it does work. Francis Lawrence is the director, and his vision of a NYC that is desolate and dead is in some way quite beautiful. The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie and the production design by David Lazan and Naomi Shohan is astounding.

There are some really good sequences too in the film, and Smith does a really good job at making us believe that he is a man on the verge of insanity. The scenes with his family and even his German Shepard companion are touching, and believable. Smith's Robert Neville is someone we care about, and want to see. Even though Neville is a man who is slowly loosing his mind we really do care for him.

I've read reviews that the third act is the weakest, but I beg to differ. I was thinking it was going to be a chase and rescue the damsel in distress movie, but it wasn't. No it's NOT faithful to the novel, but the filmmakers twist the "I am Legend" ending to a more hopeful one. Maybe it's just to make you feel good, but it worked for me.

As for weak effects I may have had less CGI of the "infected", but that's a nit pick. I thought Smith's performance was on the mark, and he made me want to follow Neville's character.

With an BIG opening of over $76 million I think the public has spoken, and voted with their pocket books. I'm interested to see if the movie has any legs, and if it will it be around in a month or two. I have my doubts. Since Warner Brothers decided to release this during the Christmas holidays it may just get buried by other pictures that will open on Christmas day. I do believe that the film will hit $100 million soon, and Warner Brothers will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Along with the movie a computer game is also being released, and marketed. I'm sure that will bring in the demographics that Warners is seeking. All in all the movie is a good film about loneliness, and guilt. Will Smith does a great job in it, and I would love to see his acting get recognized sometime next year. Will Smith makes this movie, and that's no hype.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Monster Road


I bought a DVD awhile ago called Monster Road, and finally got to watch it, and after watching it I thought to myself why didn't I see this sooner. No matter. Director Brett Ingram has made a film that is thought provoking, and entertaining as well. "Monster Road" is a documentary about the animator Bruce Bickford. If the name sounds familiar Bickford was responsible for the animation in most of Frank Zappa's films. In the film we are introduced to Bickford's father George who is suffering from Alzheimers. The first time we meet him he says 'Do I have an honest face?"

Throughout the film we are treated to how Bickford grew up. Bickford lives in Washington state near Seattle in a house his father built. George is a main character of the film also. In Ingrams web site he describes George like this:

Bruce Bickford’s father George, a retired Boeing aerospace engineer of the Cold War era, is the other main character of the film. In his own career, George also applied his keen intellect for purposes of miniaturization. But, instead of clay animation, George’s medium was the intercontinental ballistic missile. Now faced with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, George struggles to maintain his grip on the past while confronting existential questions about creation, death, the afterlife, and other mysteries of the universe. With the methods of an engineer and the curiosity of a five-year-old, the elder Bickford marvels at the "wonder of it all."

In the film we see Bickford continuing to do his work, and still creating to this day. We see his struggle as an artist, and we get glimpses of why Bickford does what he does. It's an amazing documentary, and a tribute to the creative human spirit. I really invested a lot into these people, and cared about them. The DVD is available at Ingram's web site, and it's worth having. If your a creative being you'll be enthralled at how Bickford and his father George interact with each other.

Ingram spent several years trying to put together the film, and took on many freelance gigs to help finance the film. He was helped by two other filmmakers. Ingram's co-producer Jim Haverkamp, and documentary filmmaker Neal Hutcheson . It is a really good film, and it won several awards at several film festivals including best documentary jury prize. So support a really independent producer & director and buy this film. I don't think you'll regret it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Portable Film School


While I was at a new Boarders book store I made my way to the film section as I often do, and this book caught my eye. It's called "The Portable Film School", and it is written by D.B Gilles. I began reading some of it, and he makes some good points in it. It seemed like a good book about writing the "good" screenplay, and how to achieve it.

The one thing that struck me is the need for an outline of your story. Gilles refers to it as a "beat" track to your story. For example this happens in the beginning and then this happens midway through the first act, and then as a result of this, the character does this. You see what I mean by "beat" track.

I've always known that one must write a outline of sorts, but just how detailed? If you just sit in front of the computer and hope that the muse will begin helping you write that story you're doomed to fail or worse yet never complete your story. I like what Gilles had to say, and I'm interested in the book, so I'm putting it on my Christmas list. Ideas for stories are not so much the problem, but the fleshing them out is. How to interest an audience for 90 minutes is sometimes a challenge, and it's a lot harder to do that then just come up with story ideas. As the old saying goes "it's in the details", and I believe that Gilles gets that, so I'll be putting this book on my to reading list.