A quick visual update to what I have been doing.
Andrew Spitz recently launched a new project called Social Sound Design which is developed for sound designers and non-sound designers to find answers to tricky sound questions. Ranging from programming in Max/MSP to gear problems and for me what is the best advice to record sound on set.
Go check it out and post an answer or a question! I got great answers to my questions which you can see here:
Trying to write comedy is hard - I know not because I’m writing a comedy (actually writing it) but because I’ve worked on various comedies and read comedy scripts. Its hard. Now Im developing an idea which is largely comedy so my research takes me into the comedy world. Although there is alot out there, there are not many comedies that become social comment and finally cult symbols for societies. The Big Labowski however is one of those films. More than being a flippin cool movie it has transcended to become a religious reference and even in some cases a religion onto itself. Now that is comedy!
Mark Kermode: It’s only a movie | extract
from Latest film news and reviews | guardian.co.uk by Mark Kermode
The great iconoclastic film-maker Werner Herzog is used to shooting films – but being shot at? In this extract from his cinematic memoir Mark Kermode tells the remarkable story of how, in the middle of interviewing the German director on a hilltop in Los Angeles, he gets shot. And refuses to go to hospital. And there’s the day he meets Angelina Jolie… and other stories from a life obsessed with films…
Last week Thursday I had the pleasure of going to the premier screening for Rainbow Skellums at Tygervalley Mall in Durbanville. Produced by Andre Scholtz from Panic Machanic, Running Riot and You Must be Joking days. Interestingly the movie was executive produced by Peter Scott (founder and executive chairman of Mr Video) and hits the nail on the head for its genre and target audience.
The film is a laugh-a-minute candid camera romp. Using a tried and tested formula that was the spring board for Leon Schuster (still the highest grossing film maker in South Africa) the film fulfills every expectation and is a glimmering example of where South Africa’s mental and social state is at the moment. Geared at a predominanlty Afikaans audience most of the “victims” are afrikaans, but not neccesarlity white which was refreshing. The film has respect for its viewers and partcipants not ever being demeaning but also never apologizing for what it is.
With some great adlib performance from Louw Venter, Alexa Stachan and Kevin Ehrenriech the actors make a meal of every moment. I am pleasantly surprised that brand of film still has a place for SA film goers and that it really is still funny! The audience went with the film 100%. and at every laughable moment there was belly movement, in a good way!
My only bad criticism at this stage is the marketing poster which was terrible. I don’t think it will attract an audience, especially if its a critical audience member. The days of getting away with bad design is over. We are to prolific and visually intelligent for producers to still think they can get away with something so basic.
I also have one question, at the end of the titles it said : This film is under the law of the United States of America, all copyright etc…” I was just wondering whether that too was a bad cut/paste job or whether that has to do with the actual film?
No poster was available when this article was published.. will find one to show!
The spaceship hovers over Johannesburg as the restlessness that lies below grows to a point that will engulf the whole city. People are complaining that the uitlanders, the prawns, are a societal nuisance and that they should “go back to where they came from”.
The above is a very, very condensed and simplified version of the beginning of District 9, the South African-produced film directed by Neill Blomkamp and financially backed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. The film’s budget was $30 million, which by modern standards is pocket change. District 9 is doing well in the United States, the United Kingdom and in other countries around the world. Though many fine films have been produced in South Africa, District 9 is one of the first to have high-crossover appeal with other audiences in other countries without losing its distinct South African flavour.
When “the buzz” started doing the rounds before the film opened in this country, I was slightly sceptical about all the hype, since I’ve heard this talk before and then been disappointed. Having now seen the film, I can happily say that it was thoroughly enjoyable and I would need to see it again (and want to) so I make sure I haven’t missed anything, as one often does when seeing a film for the first time.
Facts about the film, such as lead actor Sharlto Copley never having acted before and many moments in the film being improvised, can be found elsewhere. One thing that should be said is that District 9 is an excellent example of what the South African film industry can produce when given the chance — $30 million isn’t much, but convert that into R240 million rand and, hayibo, that’s some serious grease money.
In the past, South African filmgoers have been treated to Leon Schuster comedies, dramas from Paljas to Tsotsi, off-beat comedies such as Bunny Chow and several foreign films about South Africa that often suffer from the loss of nuance that only a local eye can see or notice. There are many others that I have not mentioned, with numerous niches being covered by South African cinema.
A quick search on the internet shows that since 2000, 27 films have been produced within South Africa. I didn’t know that and many of the titles (available on Wikipedia) I hadn’t heard of either. From 1990 to 1999, 18 films were produced. The number of films produced from 1980 to 1989 numbers more than 50. Though I can only assume that the political turbulence of the 1980s provided a feeding ground for content, it only skates the surface. South African cinema is often complex and informative but with the most successful South African film before District 9’s release being Mr Bones 2, South African filmgoers have often gotten a raw deal.
Why we haven’t seen as much as we could, excluding Schuster comedies and the odd film to break through after belated success (Tsotsi) could be attributed to several reasons or assumptions: the fees charged by Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro to carry a movie are too exorbitant for most South African film-makers, South African films aren’t good enough or South Africans aren’t interested in watching intellectual South African cinema.
District 9 has proven that our films are good enough, and Schuster has proven over a long career that South Africans enjoy movies about South Africa … which leaves us with the movie houses. I am not sure, but there must be something about our audiences mainly being force fed only American or British titles, along with the odd foreign film which has proven to have transcended foreign markets, excluding Cinema Nouveau which isn’t targeted at the mainstream.
On South African radio, stations are obliged to play between 30 and 40 percent (if not more) local content. South African TV is home to many locally produced TV shows. Why hasn’t film crossed the Rubicon per se when clearly the quality and intellect is out there? Cape Town, as an example, is home to some of the best advertising agencies in the world, let alone Africa, if international rewards are anything to go by. The talent is there.
District 9 is a triumph for its filmmakers because, apart from making a rather festive profit, it has shown that popular South African film is more than slap-stick Schuster comedies (with all due respect to Leon Schuster, who spreads his influence through making others laugh in a country that often becomes down-cast at its own failings) or a Gavin Hood (also, with due respect) production.
Let’s hope we continue to see more intellectually engaging content such as District 9 emerge from our soil because South African film definitely has the capability. All those with the finance pay attention …
Last Tuesday afternoon, a black Cadillac Escalade arrived at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Lower Manhattan, built in the 1920s to resemble the Renaissance-era palaces of Florence, Italy. From a rear seat stepped a man in a cashmere sweater and dark slacks.
“This is where the money is,” he said, borrowing the words of Willie Sutton, the Depression-era bank robber. “There is more gold here than anywhere in the world.”
Look out, Wall Street: Oliver Stone is back, The New York Times’s Tim Arango writes.
This is familiar terrain for Mr. Stone: his father was a broker, and his 1987 film, “Wall Street,” became emblematic of an era of excess the filmmaker thought was fading, but in fact was only beginning. Now he is here to make a sequel, to capture greed on celluloid all over again, set against the backdrop of the financial collapse that began with the fall of Bear Stearns.
In a meandering walk through the crooked streets of Manhattan’s financial district — it was a week before shooting of the sequel, titled “Wall Street 2,” was scheduled to begin — Mr. Stone told The Times he never expected high finance to serve again as a tableau for his storytelling.
“I thought it was a bubble that was over,” Mr. Stone said of the 1980s. “I thought those days were going to come to an end. The excess.”
Despite his own years of hard living and a peripatetic existence — he would be heading to Venice in a few days — Mr. Stone looked refreshed and, at 62, surprisingly young. His original film was a morality tale about greed and unvarnished ambition, and Mr. Stone’s own views on the excesses of capitalism were obvious. But the film and its famous lines — “Greed is good,” “Money never sleeps” — have had a cultural endurance that he never expected, and perhaps never desired.
“I can’t tell you how many young people have come up to me in these years and said, ‘I went to Wall Street because of that movie,’ ” Mr. Stone told The Times, standing on a street corner between Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange. A recognizable face himself, he was stopped only once during the stroll, not by a broker but by a Stock Exchange security officer who wanted to talk about his time in Vietnam. (Mr. Stone is a veteran himself, and directed the 1986 film “Platoon.”)
After exchanging words with the officer outside the exchange, Mr. Stone stood in front of the building and marveled at how the culture of finance changed after the original movie. “It became glamorous to cover Wall Street,” he told The Times. “It had not been so before.”
Another aspect of Wall Street that changed — the financial press — borrowed some of the glamour of the film’s subject. Jim Cramer, the hyperkinetic host of “Mad Money” on CNBC and a former hedge fund manager, who certainly did his part to alter the complexion of financial news, will make an appearance in the film.
“There’s a line in the old film that kissing her was like reading The Wall Street Journal,” Mr. Stone said. (It wasn’t a compliment back then.)
The stock exchange, whose hectic trading floor was a frequent image in the first film, will be less prominent in the sequel. Instead the Federal Reserve building, where several important financial meetings took place last fall during the early days of the crisis, will be a more important location.
“In the original ’87 movie there was no Federal Reserve, we didn’t get into that,” Mr. Stone told The Times. “But now the world has changed radically. This is part of the bulwark of the system.”
“Wall Street” earned a best actor Oscar for Michael Douglas, who portrayed Gordon Gekko, a ruthless corporate raider whose memorable statements are still quoted on trading floors. (Here’s one of many: “I’m talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player.”)
Mr. Douglas will reprise his role as Gekko, who when last seen by the movie-watching public was headed toward prison for insider trading.
“When Gekko comes out of prison in the beginning of this movie, he essentially has to redefine himself, redefine his character,” Mr. Stone told The Times. “He’s looking for that second chance.”
A few weeks ago Mr. Douglas and Mr. Stone ate dinner at Shun Lee, a Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with an unlikely companion: Samuel D. Waksal, the founder of the biopharmaceutical company ImClone Systems, who spent five years in federal prison for securities fraud.
“That was for Michael to meet a guy who had been in jail,” Mr. Stone said.
Mr. Douglas, in an interview, said actors are often hesitant to make sequels, “particularly one where I got an Oscar the first time around.” But he told The Times the magnitude of the financial crisis erased any reservations.
The continued resonance of Gekko, Mr. Douglas said, has “probably been the biggest surprise of my career, that people say that this seductive villain has motivated me to go into this business.”
To this day, Mr. Douglas said, it is a usual occurrence to finish dinner out and have “a well-lubricated Wall Street businessman come up to me and say, ‘You’re the man.’ ”
Mr. Douglas added, “There’s an absurdity to it.”
The rest of the cast includes Shia LaBeouf as Jake Moore, a young trader who is the fiancé of Gekko’s daughter, played by Carey Mulligan; Josh Brolin as the head of an investment bank; Frank Langella as Jake’s mentor; and Susan Sarandon as Jake’s mother. Charlie Sheen, who played the central role of Bud Fox, a young trader, in the original, will make a cameo in the sequel. Shooting for the film, which will be released by 20th Century Fox next April, begins this week in New York.
A script for a sequel had been circulating for years, but last year, amid the financial crisis, 20th Century Fox hired the writer Allan Loeb to rewrite the screenplay and tether the story to current events.
“We sort of started over with the story of a young man who is at the center of it, and how he needs Gordon Gekko’s help to navigate those waters,” Alex Young, co-president of production at 20th Century Fox, told The Times.
While Mr. Stone’s youth was steeped in the ways of finance, thanks to his father’s profession, he did not inherit a facility for such matters. He did poorly in economics at Yale, and turned to filmmaking. He has spent the last several months researching the financial collapse by reading and by meeting with executives and academics.
Earlier in the summer he brought Mr. LaBeouf to a cocktail party organized by Nouriel Roubini, a New York University economics professor and chairman of a consulting firm, and held in rented space at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea. There Mr. Stone and Mr. LaBeouf discussed the financial collapse with hedge fund managers who are clients of Mr. Roubini’s firm.
“In this financial crisis it was the traditional banks and the investment banks that had a larger role in doing stupid and silly things than the hedge funds,” Mr. Roubini, who earned acclaim for being early in predicting the financial crisis, told The Times. (Mr. Stone offered Mr. Roubini a small role in the film as a hedge fund manager.)
Mr. Stone also had conversations with Jim Chanos, a prominent hedge fund manager who urged him to focus less on hedge funds and more on the banking system. “There was a much more important story, a bigger story, in what happened with the system,” Mr. Chanos told The Times.
In his first run at Wall Street, Mr. Stone produced characters and a portrayal that lived longer than he ever expected and with unintended consequences. But he never would have made a second version if it didn’t appear that the system, and high finance, had finally been brought to its knees.
“We wouldn’t have done this movie in 2006,” he said. “Things were too loose. I didn’t want to glorify pigs.”
This is something that has bugged me and a lot of the film industry in recent years… Some call it “transformation” others redistribution, I just think its more people making films. The question of recently underprivileged people making films, telling stories, having a media voice besides “The Voice”.
So instead of me ranting listen to Ted and Caitlin.
The Revolution WIthin The Revolution Is Still Needed
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Ted Hope)
I have always found the entrenchment of the bureaucracy a pretty normal occurence in any field or job I have had — film or otherwise. People generally promote people who are like them. The status quo grows more homogenous with every passing year. This is particularly true in high cost enterprises like the film industry.
It’s true that price at the point of entry in filmdom has been dropping steady as has the means of delivering a return (aka distribution) has become more accessible, but still it’s hard to go the normal route if you don’t have much bread. True though, I never had financial resources to fall back on and nor did many of the people I started out with. But I definitely had a lot of privilege: I am a white middle class male in America, armed with some decent schooling.
Sure, a film career can be had even if you come from modest means, but the ones who land here are the exception and not the rule. It is such a struggle to live a creative life in this country currently that most of the survivors got here by the easy route (privilege of one sort or another). And frankly that sucks. We need more exceptions; it is the key to a vibrant culture. We can’t allow only the best and the brightest to reach the light - it gives us an unrealistic picture, amongst many other things. We can never stop being vigilant that the new wave we promote doesn’t look just like us. I must admit that I still get behind work first and foremost because I love it - and I most often love stuff that I relate to, and there lies the rub…
Nonetheless, it was the quality of Caitlin McCarthy’s work that brought her to my attention — or rather first and foremost to my wife’s attention. But let’s face it, I also liked what Caitlin had to say. Beyond her scripts, I encouraged her to pull some of the ideas she had FB’d me into the blog post on how to save indie film that we posted two days ago. I am excited that it got some people talking, even if they don’t see it as dire as Caitlin does.
We got a lot of good comments here on the blog. Vadim Rizov over at IFC’s Indie-eye blog blogged about it : “…we don’t need the ‘working class youth’ to ‘seek out’ industry patrons; in this hard world, like everyone else, they’d do better to start their own infrastructures, then get enough clout to become their own patrons, then get the grants. It’ll be tough, but definitely more rewarding.”
That comment has Caitlin coming back to us with more; she knows firsthand that it takes more than hard work and a good attitude:
After working with at risk, no income/low income teenagers for over six years, I can tell you that “just do it” is a Nike ad — it doesn’t apply to real life when you come from a disadvantaged background.
I have breathtakingly talented students in my classes (I teach over 150 students each year), but they can’t create art at home. Many of them don’t have a home. They are bouncing between relatives, foster homes, homeless shelters, or friends’ couches. If they are at home, it’s usually one or two room living with their siblings. Many of my students complain that they can’t do homework at home because there isn’t a quiet space to do it. They can’t go to the library, because the nearby libraries have all been closed. The one downtown is surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes during the daytime — forget about night. They can’t participate in an after school program because they don’t exist (other than sports).
For my students, dreams don’t come true without guidance and support from someone outside their families and neighborhoods. They need someone to believe in them on a continuous basis. They’ve had to fend for themselves all their lives for the most part. They are desperate to belong to something. That’s why you see so many of them in gangs. If they’re not in gangs, they belong to a sports team or a church group — something with regular meetings that they can depend on.
The author of the IFC article means well, and I think this “do it
yourself” advice would work with the middle and upper classes, where there is already support at home and in their community. But it won’t work with the lower classes who have so many strikes against them already.
Perhaps this is why we don’t see more filmmakers from the lower classes. The film establishment wants to believe that if you’re good enough, like cream you’ll rise to the top. That is incredibly naïve (or maybe it’s deliberate so their friends and relatives can get all the jobs because “there’s no one else” to hire).
If anyone thinks class doesn’t exist in this society, come hang out with me in three weeks when school starts again. I feel the separation in the classes. Poverty and lack of opportunity are like pieces of sandpaper that wear you down, slowly but surely, every single day until you’re defeated. This is something that crosses ALL color lines. You can be white and poor.
Sorry to get on my soap box, but I am disturbed by how some people simply don’t how it is for some people out there. But many of these people can’t be blamed for their ignorance, as they haven’t spent time living and working with a disadvantaged population. Once you have “ground truth,” you’d know better than to say “do it yourself, kid.” That’s essentially telling the kid to figure it out for themselves, away from you, so you don’t have to get involved. If you want to make a difference, you MUST get involved for the long haul. It’s a marathon!
— Caitlin McCarthy
How much would you pay to see a new film by Stanley Kubrick…? Well, the legendary film maker has left behind tons of research on various projects (including AI - remember?) and now the skeletons are coming back to haunt us.
Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan appears to have been acting as the executor of Kubrick’s cultural legacy. He was one of the producers responsible for Spielberg’s AI – and it was Spielberg’s AI, not at all Kubrick’s – and now it looks like Harlan seems keen on resurrecting The Aryan Papers too.
Warner Bros still owns the rights to the film, which is based on the 1991 novel Wartime Lies by Louis Begley, and Harlan said the studio should employ a leading director such as Ang Lee, who made the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, to bring Kubrick’s vision to the screen. He said he would happily become involved in the project again.
Kubrick, who died of a heart attack in 1999 days after completing his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, wrote the screenplay for Aryan Papers, which tells how the woman and her nephew had to pretend to be Catholics to escape the Nazis. “I regret it never got made but it was a decision made by Kubrick and Warner Bros, probably very wisely at the time,” said Harlan, the brother of Kubrick’s wife Christiane.
There you have it - Kubrick lives on…even if it just in his screenplay.
Controversial visionary David Cronenberg sees technology, mankind, sexuality merging in ‘eXistenZ’
Todays film maker is another director and I chose him because I accidentally watched The Fly again a couple of nights ago (I think it was on SABC 2). I love his films, eXistnZ was one of the first I watched of his (this interview was done during the time of the film) and I remember feeling like I was watching something other worldly but awesome! Seeing how malleable he is as a film maker is also astounding. The madly erotic to the strangely deviant and even the Hollywood mainstream, Cronenberg can do it all and that’s why he is one of my bestests….
Instead of a straight up biography I chose to give you this interview, it gives a more personal feel to David and if your still keen, I added a link to a biography anyway.
Enjoy the madness!
Interview form SPLICED WIRE by ROB BLACKWELDER
I don’t know what I was expecting exactly when I met David Cronenberg, arguably the most bizarre, eccentric and even grotesque auteur in North America.
A visionary and controversial director with a penchant for ingenious, violent and sexual metaphors, he’s been responsible for a half dozen of the most admired (by film aficionados) and abhorred (by many others) movies of the last 20 year, including “Videodrome” (a violent and sexualized allegory on thought control) “The Fly” and “Dead Ringers” (considered the height of the art house-horror hybrid), and hallucinogenic, autobiographical adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.” In 1997 his adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel “Crash,” about car-crash fetishists, was shelved for several months by New Line Cinema owner Ted Turner, who didn’t want anything to do with the twisted tale.
Was I meeting a human deviant? A demented genius with “straight jacket” written all over him? I didn’t know, but for the first time in years, I was feeling intimated about an interview.
Then I was lead into the conference room of San Francisco’s Prescott Hotel and shook hands with a congenial, bespectacled fellow with salt-and-pepper hair and a benevolent smile. It turns out, David Cronenberg - the envelopepushing circus freak of independent cinema - is a cheerful, deepthinking, mild-mannered college professor type. Go figure that.
Today he’s here to talk about “eXistenZ,” the first film since “Videodrome” that he both wrote and directed. A forward-looking, somewhat cautionary vision of the future of virtual reality, the film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as the inventor of a bio-engineered game, played by plugging a living game pod directly into the central nervous system through a fleshy umbilical cord inserted into an orifice carved in the player’s back.
In the near future created for “eXistenZ,” anyone who hasn’t been jacked with one of these bioports is considered a square in most circles. It takes place in a world where the game and reality are disturbingly intermingled. In Cronenberg’s vision, technology and the human organism have begun to merge — something the director considers inevitable.
“I see technology as being an extension of the human body,” he says. “It’s inevitable that it should come home to roost.”
But before we discussed to his new movie, his fixation with sexuality and the organic form, we talked about Hollywood and why he’s fed up with being perceived as a horror director.
“I never thought I was doing the same thing as directors like John Carpenter, George Romero, and sometimes even Hitchcock, even though I’ve been sometimes compared to those other guys. We’re after different game,” Cronenberg says. “The filmmaking process is a very personal one to me, I mean it really is a personal kind of communication. It’s not as though its a study of fear or any of that stuff.”
SPLICEDwire: Your films are more deeply psychological, where many of those directors are often just trying to make you jump out of your seat.
David Cronenberg: True. Even Hitchcock liked to think of himself as a puppeteer who was manipulating the strings of his audience and making them jump. He liked to think he had that kind of control. I don’t think that kind of control is possible beyond a very obvious kind of physical twitch when something jumps out of the corner of a frame. I also think the relationship I have with my audience is a lot more complex than what Hitchcock seemed to want his to be — although I think he had more going on under the surface as well.
But you can’t control all of that. Anybody who comes to the cinema is bringing they’re whole sexual history, their literary history, their movie literacy, their culture, their language, their religion, whatever they’ve got. I can’t possibly manipulate all of that, nor do I want to. I’m often surprised - I expect to be surprised - by my audience’s reactions to things.
SPLICED: Do you consider any of your movies horror movies?
Cronenberg: No. I don’t. “The Fly” was, technically, a horror sci-fi film, and this is technically a sci-fi film. But to me that’s not a creative category. That’s a marketing problem or possibly a critical problem, a journalistic preoccupation. But it doesn’t function on a creative level.
It doesn’t mean anything. Each movie generates its own little biosphere and has its only little ecology and its climate, and you’re attune to that more than anything else. So when people say “is there anything you wouldn’t show on film?” or “would you draw back?” I say, if I do it’s only because of that biosphere. What is appropriate? What works within the ecology of that movie? So in one movie sex and blood would be very up front, like in “Crash” because it’s sort of the subject of the movie. But in another movie, like “The Dead Zone,” it would not be appropriate. It would be disproportionate.
There’s no sex really in “eXistenZ,” except metaphorically. There was an opportunity to have sex scenes, and we were all willing to do that. But as the film evolved, we thought it would be wrong. It would take away from the metaphorical sex, which is all this plugging in and that sort of stuff. That’s more interesting. It has more resonance than if you suddenly saw a real, naked sex scene in the middle of all that. It would unbalance all that — almost invalidate it. So if you wait, the movie gradually tells you what it wants to be, and you have to sort of go on with it.
SPLICED: There seem to be connections between “Videodrome,” which you also wrote and directed, and “eXistenZ.” The way you’re plugging in a pre-programmed videotape or a game into your body. Was “Videodrome” on your mind?
Cronenberg: No. You have to remember I haven’t seen it in 15 years. You might well have seen it more recently than I have. It is true this is the first script I’ve written since “Videodrome,” so I’m sure that connects somewhere. But when you’re writing a script - for me anyway - you have to sort of create an enforced innocence. You have to divest yourself of worrying about a lot of stuff like what movies are hot, what movies are not hot, what the budget of this movie might be. You have to stop worrying about what people might expect from you because of the last thing you did…you have to stop worrying about your other movies. I mean, I just know they’re all going to be interconnected. People have asked me to do a sequel to “Scanners,” or they’ve asked, very recently, to do a remake of “Shivers.” And that would feel like a horrible place to put myself. I wouldn’t want to go back there.
SPLICED: Have you ever considered doing a big budget, schlocky studio film? Has anyone has pitched you anything like that?
Cronenberg: Oh, heavens yes! Recently? “The Truman Show” and “Aliens 4,” and in the early days things like “Witness” and “Top Gun.” Oh, and “Flashdance.” Dawn Steele, for some reason, kept bugging me to do “Flashdance”! And I kept saying “No.” and “You won’t thank me! I would destroy this!” So, yes, I do get offered stuff. And, like, “Alien 4” is tempting for a minute because they’re begging me to do it, and I think to work with Sigorney Weaver and Winona Ryder would be great fun, and so on.
SPLICED:…and it has some of the same kinds of themes, body themes, that you often work with…
Cronenberg: Yeah, because the original “Alien” took stuff from “Shivers.” It was obvious that happened. I know how it happened, too, but we won’t get into that.
The problem with doing a schlocky or big budget studio film is that it wouldn’t actually be fun for me. It wouldn’t be exciting. My rule of thumb is this: You’re six months into it, you’ve got six months to go. It’s February. It’s winter. It’s dark. Am I suicidal, or am I really excited and happy? And the answer with those projects would be, “I’m suicidal.”
SPLICED: You originally wrote “eXistenZ” three years ago. I imagine you had to make changes to update the technology, since such things change so rapidly.
Cronenberg: That didn’t change. The technology I sort of side-step in this movie. It’s the metaphor. It’s the drama and the meaning of it and all of that which is interesting to me.
We don’t have any computers in this movie. It’s a different technology. I’m certainly aware that the big chip makers have all done heavy, heavy research into using protein molecules as a basis of their chips, and protein molecules are the basis of organic life. I read an article recently about experiments done to try to use DNA strands as electrical wiring.
Since I see technology as being an extension of the human body, it’s inevitable that it should come home to roost. It just makes sense. I mean, I literally show that in the movie with the pod plugged into central nervous system.
Technology is us. There is no separation. It’s a pure expression of human creative will. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in the universe. I’m rather sure of that. But we’ll see if the spaceships come. And if it is at times dangerous and threatening, it is because we have within ourselves we have things within us that are dangerous, self-destructive and threatening, and this has expressed itself in various ways through out technology.
(Modern technology is) more than an interface. We ARE it. We’ve absorbed it into our bodies. Our bodies, I think, are bio-chemically so different from the bodies of people like 1,000 years ago that I don’t even think we could mate with them. I think we might even be, in other words, a different species, we’re so different.
(This) technology, we absorb it, it weaves in and out of us, so it’s not really an interface in the same way people think about a screen or a face. It’s a lot more intimate than that.
SPLICED: Is that why in many of your films there’s some type of orifice through which a person is connecting?
Cronenberg: Yeah. I mean, technology wants to be in our bodies, because it sort of came out of our bodies. In a crude way, that’s what I’m thinking. It wants to come home and that is its home. First of all, in the obvious ways - the eyes with binoculars, the ears with the telephone - technology had to be an advancement of powers we knew we had. Then it gets more elaborate and more distant from us. More abstract. But it still all emanates from us. It’s us.
SPLICED: And it’s a theme in almost all of your movies.
Cronenberg: It’s more than a theme. To me it’s kind of like a living presence, an understanding, that is behind all of the movies.
SPLICED: How does the idea of the technological meshing of man and machine, how does that connect to the reoccurring theme of sexuality?
Cronenberg: Well, I think, with “Crash” it was getting very focused on the idea that we are re-inventing sex. We are at a major epoch in human history, which is that we don’t need sex to recreate the race. You can have babies without sex. This is the first time in human history that has been true, and it means, for example, we could do some extraordinary things.
It’s becoming disconnected from what it was initially, just in the same way we’ve taken control of our evolution. We are no longer subject to the laws of survival of the fittest in the gross physical way that Darwin articulated. Even though we’re not quite aware of it, we don’t know how to deal with it, we are messing around with our evolution at the genetic level.
So, I think, in the same way, sex is up for grabs, for reinvention. There have always been elements of politics, fashion, pleasure, art, in sexuality. But now those things are, in a weird way, almost the primary part of sexuality. So why not say, OK, how about some new sexual organs? They don’t have to reproduce. They don’t have to do all that complex chromosome splitting and stuff that goes with real reproduction, so why not have direct access to your nervous system and create new orifices that do god knows what?
In a way, you’re seeing new sex, neo-sex, in this movie. Or do you even want to call it sex? It’s obviously inducing some kind of pleasure the way sex does, but what is it?
I think that is happening. You see a lot of body modification. In the same way, we’ve never accepted the environment as it was given to us, we’ve never accepted the human body, either. We’ve always been messing with it to the full extent of whatever the technology at the time would allow us to do. But then there’s also the other element of body modification that are not medical. It’s social, it’s political, it’s sexual, it’s cosmetic, it’s fashion. Just what people will do now - with scarring, tattooing, piercing and all that, and performance art as well - it would have been unthinkable, at least as mainstream as it is now, not very long ago.
SPLICED: To what do you credit your fascination with organic form and the mutation of the human body?
Cronenberg: I got bored. That was traumatic.
I think it really has more to do with the perception and an understanding than the whole idea that it’s something that happened to you in your childhood. I’m just observing the world. I was born into it, like you were, and then I found out there were some really disturbing aspects to being alive, like the fact that you weren’t going to be alive forever — that bothered me.
Do you remember when you found out you wouldn’t live forever? People don’t talk about this, but everybody had to go through it because you’re not born with that knowledge. That’s the basis of all existentialist thought, which, of course, is an underpinning of this movie. It’s not called “eXistenZ” for nothing.
For me, the first fact of human existence is the human body. But if you embrace the reality of the human body, you embrace mortality, and that is a very difficult thing for anything to do because the self-conscious mind cannot imagine non-existence. It’s impossible to do.
So not only can you not imagine dying, you can’t really imagine existence before you were born. So, I think, for example, that’s one of the reasons people believe so strongly in reincarnation. They kind of assume that somehow they were there. You can’t imagine things going on without you. That’s just the nature of our self-consciousness.
So I observed these kinds of things as a kid and then I’m gradually expressing this and talking to myself through my movies about all of this stuff. Then I’m really inviting the audience to have that conversation with me. You’re seeing me develop, not only as a filmmaker if you’ve seen my earlier films, but you’re seeing me kind of learn how to be a human, how my philosophy has evolved.
So that’s why I think, for example, this movie cannot be like “Videodrome.” All the other connections aside - that was what, 17 years ago? - I’m different now.
SPLICED: So all of your movies together are like a biography.
Cronenberg: Well, they should be. They’re almost like chapters in an ongoing book.
a nice biography here
Last time I wrote about my favorite “creating fans” guru Scott Kirsner. NOw I found someone else who also has I wanted to share it with ya’ll..
Posted: Tue, June 09, 2009, 11:06 AM From Thompson on Hollywood
Cinematech blogger Scott Kirsner drank the digital Kool-aid some time back. So the author of 2007’s The Future of Web Video and 2008’s Inventing the Movies decided that he had to self-publish his newest book, Fans, Friends and Followers. “If I was writing that artists had to be their own entrepreneur,” he says, “then I had to do it too.”
For no up-front charge (and no advance), Kirsner selected his own fonts at Amazon’s CreateSpace. He sent a PDF of the cover and interior to upload. They sent him back galleys to correct and within 10 days of signing off, he had books on sale at Amazon, and collects a bigger percentage of royalties than a publisher would pay. “If I had waited for traditional publishing it would be out in the fall of 2010,” he says. “This stuff is timely, it’s not the history of MGM. It would have been stale.”
For the book, which has sold more than 10,000 copies, Kirsner interviewed three dozen do-it-yourself types in film and video, art and music, from internet pioneer and short video maker Ze Frank to animator M dot Strange. “Until the last three to four years,” says Kirsner, “you made a film and either you picked up a distributor at SXSW or Sundance, or not. There was no plan B. You never thought about what might happen, how to get the movie out there. I tried to talk to people about Plan B.”
In 2006, Strange persuaded the Sundance Film Festival to play his film We Are the Strange at a midnight screening at the Egyptian by using his YouTube following to prove that he had an audience. He then distributed the film through Film Baby and via YouTube (with a DVD click-through button) in April 2008. According to Kirsner, he made enough money to not only pay off the debt from the film, but to finance his next one.
Here’s the trailer:
The agricultural documentary King Corn debuted at SXSW in 2007, went on to other festivals, had a theatrical run, aired on PBS in April 2008, and was one of the biggest selling films on iTunes. Aaron Wolff, Ian Cheney, Curt Ellis and their team kept building a database of fans in FileMaker, then created an email list on Constant Contact. They barraged their fans with new info, updated their website constantly, and kept the promo stream going by guest-blogging at different sites that they knew would be receptive to the film’s green subject matter. Here’s the trailer:
“A lot of online communities are interested in what you’re doing, whether it’s a sci-fi movie or a documentary about U.S. future policies,” says Kirsner. “With the internet there’s a direct link between that review or write-up and where you buy a book. People are closer to the transaction. There’s a lot of innovation in terms of business models. People are trying different things. With places like Home Star Runner, which avoids advertising and built their model on selling t-shirts, merchandise and DVDs, or Lulu and CreateSpace, you can see there’s a whole new infrastructure, a new pathway for getting books, DVDs, and CDs out there.”
But DIY takes work, Kirsner admits: “The promotional energy has to come from you, using blogs and Twitter and getting people to write about your project. It’s a whole new world. There are no more sugar daddies taking care of problems. With the old school Hollywood dynamic you had to shuck and jive to get observed by a talent agent, that was the only path to making it. Now you do what you want to get noticed and build up an audience. Then you have a choice to do a deal with a studio or record company, or do your own thing. Some will do it, some will not. But you don’t have to wait around and cross your fingers and hope.”
Kirsner has been working overtime to get out the word on his book. He’s created a Power Tool Wiki that lists tools for building an online fan base. Here are some reviews, including Wired editor Chris Anderson, who log-rolled thusly:
“Making a living in the Long Tail means taking matters into your own hands, crafting a marketing strategy that’s just right for you and your work. This book compiles the stories of those who’ve done it best. You’ll get ideas from every one of them. Inspiring and incredibly useful—Kirsner’s assembled a playbook for the social media age.”
Antichrist was accused of rampant misogyny; of being “an abomination”; “easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes film history”
I remember I read about Lars von Trier’s Antichrist a couple of months ago and was wondering what the response was going to be. Laballed as a Horror movie, but its LArs von Trier so Horror could mean anything! It showed at Cannes recently and was slated, hated and discombobulated in so many ways that I wonder if it will even make the fair shores of Cape Town. Charlotte Gainsbourg has walked away with a Best Actress award but both TIMES and Variety labeled the film as “Director gone mad” and “too arty” respectively.
When U opened my Igoogle this morning I found a great article on the film that is made up of a host of smart people reviewing the film. If you where hesitant to see it already, this may not help. If you considered watching the film, this is what you could expect:
Linda Ruth Williams Professor of Film, Southampton University
I approached Antichrist with some trepidation. Lars von Trier first got my sexual-political back up with Breaking The Waves, a pernicious paean to female self-abnegation, which sees raped and murdered Emily Watson getting celestial postmortem applause as heavenly bells peal in the clouds above. This was a horror film in the true sense, I thought. Now I am not so sure. Von Trier’s tongue is often so firmly poked into his cheek, who knows where he’s coming from, or going to?
Antichrist is obsessed with bodies. Clearly, for all its in-your-face qualities, no one should approach it expecting a pornographic romp. There is a money-shot, but it’s bloody rather than ecstatic. Heavily referencing horror cinema, it’s marketed as the arthouse answer to The Blair Witch Project, 10 years on. Teen audiences marinaded in the conventions of “spam in a cabin” movies – monsters in the woods, out there where no one can here you scream – will feel at home with the creepy noises, buried bodies and innovative uses for a woodsman’s toolbox here. Yet Antichrist hardly offers the “dare you to watch it” thrills of popcorn horror.
For me, what is most shocking, and most interesting, is its frenzied meditation on sexual hysteria. Film academics have turned to horror cinema over the last 15 years because it reveals cultural sores, symptoms of our guiltiest pleasures and incomplete repressions. At best, horror shows that in our sex-saturated culture, the body, surrealism and the unconscious can still hold imaginative power. Yet the most familiar sub-genre right now is the production line of so-called “torture-porn” meat-fest movies. In the wash of multiple Saw and Hostel films, it’s hard to see the ideas-rich Antichrist as a serious danger to our moral wellbeing.
Last week, the Brazilian film Embodiment Of Evil opened in the UK, including scenes of somebody eating their own buttocks and a rat running up another character’s vagina. To my knowledge, no one has condemned this as the most obscene film ever made (in contrast with the Sun’s outrage over Antichrist). With films like that as a backdrop, I don’t find Antichrist’s intellectualised antics too worrying. If only tabloids campaigned against real clitorectomies, done on real baby girls, rather than fabricated ones done in fiction movies.
Of course, Von Trier probably doesn’t “mean” any of it. For all the ludicrous excesses of this story, it could all be seen as an extended grief nightmare. If Antichrist has a sexual political agenda, it’s probably just to stir things up. Von Trier throws us ideas, and we fight like dogs over them.
Joanna Bourke Professor of History, Birkbeck College
Lars von Trier’s new film opens with heart-breaking lyrics of loss and longing from Handel’s Rinaldo opera. The graceful yet ecstatic beauty of death – literal and symbolic (“la petite mort”) – sets the tone. Black and white scenes, in which the camera moves with a dreamlike slowness, are followed by dazzlingly dyed scenes of claustrophobic carnage. The effect is breathtaking and compulsive, like a drug; I would have watched the film a second time if it had been possible.
The theme of the film is an ancient one: what is to become of humanity once it discovers it has been expelled from Eden and that Satan is in us? Despite the erotic beginning, Von Trier has little interest in desire; his focus is on Sadeian extreme pain and enjoyment, the abject emptying of self and other (including the audience, who are made complicit in the sexual violence infusing the film).
Antichrist circles relentlessly around acts of transgression. The violence is defiantly excessive and beautiful. It is gendered, but more misanthropic than misogynistic. The man’s violence is the heartlessness of rationality. Patronisingly, he sneers at the woman’s research project on gynocide. He is a rationalist cognitive therapist, who bullies her into exposing her inner demons.
In contrast, the woman embraces the mysterious, uncanny energies of the unconscious and unknowable elemental forces. Her violence against the man and her own body is unbounded. The scenes of her crushing his penis and then snipping off her clitoris and labia are graphic. But it is not designer violence, intended to appall and titillate in the same breath. Neither does it inspire compassion. Von Trier simply presents cruelty as “there”, serving no liberating function for the audience. Pain – its infliction and its suffering – is integral to life.
Von Trier has admitted that, of all his films, Antichrist “comes closest to a scream”. It exposes us to an untamed erotic and aggressive aesthetic without redemption. It jolts us out of a passive voyeurism and, in despair, leaves us (in the words of Handel) crying over cruel fate.
Samantha Morton Actor
Watching film is always a very personal experience for me; I understand the dangers mentally, emotionally and physically. The euphoria when the team achieves the “scene” in question, when the light is perfect, the words happen at the right time, the sound is like crystal, and everybody is happy to move on … It is hard to describe what happens when you’re alone, the scene just performed and your skin and nerves are tingling as if you’re cold turkeying from a drug. For this reason, I congratulate from the bottom of my heart Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance. The grief portrayed was of profound honesty. She had, when needed, a vulnerability that was heartbreaking, and throughout her demise into madness she maintained integrity. Willem Dafoe amazed me with his tragic stillness and inner pain. The constant, intense battling of intelligent minds, mixed with the most horrific of circumstances, proved fascinating.
A director (if they’re worth their salt) will, and does, feel the pain of every moment of every character, be it behind closed doors or on set. A director pains over every shot, every inch of film, every breath of sound. Trying to communicate birth, fear, loss, death, religion, pain, love, desire, hate – the list goes on – is all-encompassing to the point of insanity. Deciding to make the film (or the film guiding you to make it) is an act of bravery and vulnerability, and sometimes of loneliness. The writer/director speaks through every character, so this film must have been incredibly painful to make.
The cinematography here is breathtaking, pushing the boundaries between emotion and technology, like the ancient vines that are photographed. Film is so important to me and for that reason I am glad I saw Antichrist. However, like I do with my life – and especially my mind – I take care. A bit like visiting a loved one who’s going through some terrible, dark pain in the face of which we seem powerless, it can be emotionally crippling to watch. So for that reason, I say: take care viewing this. But if you can take the journey, take it.
There are more where those came from. If you are still unsure or you have a need to know more go to Guardian.co.uk to read all.
In the end the over-riding question was whether von Trier hates women. Personally I think thats a bit lame. A filmmaker like von Trier with a track record like his surely has other things on his mind (perhaps insanity) other than to hate women. One of my favorite quotes in the article: “I don’t find Antichrist’s intellectualised antics too worrying. If only tabloids campaigned against real clitorectomies, done on real baby girls, rather than fabricated ones done in fiction movies.” That kind of sums it up for me. The hysteria around films is always fascinating, as if because the film is made it has opened doors that can never be closed again. Films as art are made with the intention to hold up a mirror, perhaps in this case it’s a mirror of von Triers deep and dark depressed phyche, but as a film it will only ever be that. The realities of life are much worse. A friend of mine posted on his Facebook status shortly after MJ death: “It seems that the Iraq war is over if mass media is anything to go by”. That is sad and dark, maybe even worse than a movie entitled Antichrist….
Go look at some High-Res frames of the film here
Hey all. It’s been a week of working and I admit I lost touch with my posting habits. But, I am back and here we go. Straight into it. Read this great post on Cinetech site by Scott Kirsner. Following on the most important question a film maker will ask:” Will you give me money to make my film”, Scott is of the opinion that the second most important question should be…Well, read the excerpt.
I suggested that there are two important questions filmmakers need to ask during the process of making a film. Filmmakers already ask the first one, constantly: will you give me money to help make my movie?
But the second one, just as important, isn’t one that most filmmakers know about, or ask often enough.
Here it is: what groups, online communities, blogs, Web sites, or non-profits do you think would be interested in this film?
I think you should ask that of everyone you meet: your cinematographer … your investors … your screenwriter … your prop master … everyone you interview for a documentary. And keep a list of their answers.
You will discover that there are magazines, blogs, fan communities, and organizations with millions of members that you should build relationships with. Let them know what you are working on. Get them (and their audiences) involved in some way - as you are making the movie. Give them sneak peeks as you are in postproduction. Give them a trailer or early cut to show at their annual convention. Enlist their help in spreading the word once you’re on the festival circuit or in theatrical release. Do ticket and DVD give-aways to get their communities buzzing.
You ought to be asking this second question throughout the process of making your movie because that will help you discover who the most powerful taste-makers are, online and off. People you encounter who know these bloggers and publishers and non-profit presidents will make introductions to them for you. That’s something that no amount of Googling during the post-production phase can do, unfortunately.
I am starting a new “type” of post. One that will merely tell about a film maker I enjoy or has influenced my film maker thinking. The first one is Guillemero del Toro. His imaginative and dark stories have always kept my imagination alight. I dont disregard his Hellboy or 007 films but films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos are really where I find my respect for this film maker.
You will read in this post about his past as a make-up artists and also his investment as a film maker into his film making community. It more than his films that have drawn me to him, his substation saturation within his local film community and his artistic integrity is why he is the first film maker on my Film Makers Posts.
Producer, Screenwriter, Special makeup effects designer, Film director
Born: October 9, 1964
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
From All Movie Guide: A film prodigy dedicated to Latin American cinema even as his success gave him a ticket to Hollywood, Guillermo del Toro earned a place as one of Time magazine’s 50 Young Leaders for the New Millennium before he made his third film.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised by his staunchly Catholic grandmother, del Toro was already involved in filmmaking by his teens. A fan of such horror masters as James Whale, Mario Bava, George A. Romero, Alfred Hitchcock, and the work of Britain’s Hammer Films, del Toro learned about makeup and effects from The Exorcist’s Dick Smith as well as studying screenwriting and making Super-8, 16 mm, and 35 mm short films. Though he executive-produced his first feature, Doña Herlinda and Her Son (1986), at age 21, del Toro initially spent almost a decade as a makeup supervisor, forming his own company, Necropia, in the early ‘80s. He still found time to produce and direct numerous programs for Mexican television, as well as teach film workshops. Doing his part to turn his hometown into Mexican cinema central, del Toro also co-founded the city’s Film Studies Center and the Guadalajara-based Mexican Film Festival.
Del Toro’s feature directorial debut, Cronos (1993), heightened his prominence as a rising star in Mexican film. A low-key, superbly acted horror movie, Cronos’ imagery of the vampire as parasite was at once a smart revision of the genre and a veiled allegory about Mexico and the United States. Winner of the critics’ prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Cronos put del Toro on the world-cinema and American-independent map. Along with serving on the selection committees for the Sundance Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards, del Toro followed Cronos with his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking, Mimic (1997). Starring Mira Sorvino (who took the role partly on the advice of then-boyfriend and del Toro fan Quentin Tarantino), Mimic mined some great scares out of mutant, shape-shifting bugs terrorizing New York City, but having to acquiesce to Hollywood studio demands left del Toro unhappy about the experience.
Returning to Mexico, del Toro formed his own production company, The Tequila Gang, and set out to make a more personal thriller. Produced by Pedro Almodóvar and his brother, Agustín Almodóvar, and shot in Spain, The Devil’s Backbone (2001) was a more ambitious ghost story set during the end of the Spanish Civil War. Using filters and a mobile camera, del Toro created ominous, sepia-toned visuals that evoked a spectral surveillance over the tragic, politically metaphorical events taking place in an isolated, haunted boys’ school for Republican Army orphans. Hailed for its chilling atmosphere, intelligent complexity, and excellent performances from Federico Luppi and Marisa Paredes as the school’s left-wing leaders, The Devil’s Backbone confirmed del Toro’s artistic promise and earned him more critical kudos.
Gratified by the experience making The Devil’s Backbone and clear-eyed about what Hollywood could offer, del Toro followed his personal movie with the big-budget, Wesley Snipes comic-book vampire thriller sequel Blade 2 (2002). Del Toro also began to develop several other American projects, including works with notable Hollywood mavericks James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola. Though the prospect of del Toro adapting H.P. Lovecraft’s chilling short story At the Mountains of Madness gave fans of the horror author hope that someone would finally get his work right on the big screen (no slight to Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon), del Toro’s next project would ultimately be an adaptation of a more contemporary supernatural tale. Adapted from and produced by comic-book artist/writer Mike Mignola, Hellboy told the tale of a demon summoned by Nazis in the waning days of World War II (Ron Perlman) who eventually joins the allies in battling the forces of evil.
Subsequently preferring to pull back a bit from Hollywood and craft another modestly budgeted dark fairy tale in the vein of The Devil’s Backbone, del Toro would next focus his attentions on the production of Pan’s Labyrinth. Though Pan’s Labyrinth wasn’t a direct sequel to The Devil’s Backbone in the traditional sense, this unsettling fantasy continued to explore the themes of childhood innocence and tyrannical oppression by following the quest of a young girl who becomes convinced by a mythical faun that she is a lost princess of legend. Once again set during the days of the Spanish Civil War, Pan’s Labyrinth merged real-world nightmares with otherworldly wonders with a fluidity seldom seen in contemporary fantasy, and critics were quick to praise the director for his assured handling of the thematically complex material. Pan’s Labyrinth became a rare art-house crossover hit, and curried the favor of Academy members, who showered it with Oscar nominations.
By this point, Hellboy fans were beginning to wonder whether or not the long-gestating rumors of a sequel to that modestly successful Mike Mignola adaptation would ever bear any tangible fruit. Then, in 2006 Universal announced that they had acquired the rights after Sony withdrew funding from Revolution Studios and were looking to move forward with the film, with director del Toro once again teaming with writer Mignola and stars Ron Perlman and Selma Blair to chronicle the further adventures of everyone’s favorite BPRD agent. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide
Some advice from Mr Scorsese himself and this his video clip which includes collaboration with Mick…
John Cassavetes once told me to stop wasting my time and get down to making the films I wanted to make, as opposed to the ones I could make.
It was an excellent piece of advice, which led to Mean Streets. Film what you want to film, what you need to film, not what you can film.
Mick Jagger joked that Shine a Light was the first of my movies in a long time that didn’t include “Gimme Shelter.” Believe me, it wasn’t for lack of trying.
This article title is a response to the depiction of our (upper middle class over educated and opinionated) generation. I used the example of Mumblecore film in a previous post, Mumblecore example for SA filmmakers, in the context of making movies regardless of popular taste. I use that example as much as I could have used the Dogma film for example. The content however of Mumblecore represents a “lost” generation unsure of the future and slacking. I don’t think this is a true depiction, I just have to look at my friends to know that.
I found this article which really gets the point across. We’re not a mumbling generation, we’re a hustling one!
The older generation is taking notice. “Today’s whippersnappers—they all take their cue from Monica Lewinsky, who had regular sit-downs with Vernon Jordan to discuss her career trajectory—are the most careerist, focused and entitled generation in the history of the planet,” Barney’s fashion guru and pop culture opinionista Simon Doonan wrote in the New York Observer in 2007. “Why can’t young adults just be the big, fat, freewheeling losers that people in their 20’s are meant to be?”
We are not the baby boomers. We are their children—Chelsea Clinton spring to mind. Have you ever seen someone in their 20s more mature and together than Chelsea Clinton? I can imagine her rolling her eyes at her less-than-perfect parents: “Ugh, you guys are so immature.” Our parents told us we could be anything we want to be. It was a lie, but it motivated us nonetheless.
written by: Aymar Jean Christian
Read full article
This new book looks at what is going on in the digital age and independent media. I am going to show you the content of this book and get you excited about it that way…because it is RAD.
Table of Contents
Understanding the New Rules: Building an Audience and a Career in the Digital Age
Table: Defining the Terms
Introduction to the Interviews
Film & Video
Michael Buckley: Creator of “What the Buck”
Mike Chapman: Animator and Writer, “Homestar Runner”
Ze Frank: Multimedia Artist and Creator of “theshow”
Curt Ellis: Documentary Producer and Writer, King Korn
Michael “Burnie” Burns: Creator of “Red vs. Blue”
Sandi DuBowski: Documentary Filmmaker, Trembling Before G-d
Gregg and Evan Spiridellis: Co-Founders, JibJab Media
Timo Vuorensola: Science Fiction Director, Star Wreck
Steve Garfield: Videoblogger
Robert Greenwald: Documentary Filmmaker, Iraq for Sale
M dot Strange: Animator, We Are the Strange
Jonathan Coulton: Singer-Songwriter
Damian Kulash: Singer and Guitarist, OK Go
DJ Spooky: Composer, Writer and Multimedia Artist
Jill Sobule: Singer-Songwriter
Richard Cheese: Singer
Brian Ibbott: Host of the Podcast “Coverville”
Natasha Wescoat: Painter, Designer and Illustrator
Tracy White: Comics Artist, “Traced”
Matt W. Moore: Artist and Graphic Designer
Dave Kellett: Comics Artist, “Sheldon”
Dylan Meconis: Graphic Novelist, “Family Man”
Sarah Mlynowski: Novelist, “Magic in Manhattan” series and Me vs. Me
Brunonia Barry: Novelist, The Lace Reader
Lisa Genova: Novelist, Still Alice
Kris Holloway: Non-Fiction Author, Monique and the Mango Rains
Comedy & Magic
Eugene Mirman: Comedian and Writer
Dan and Dave Buck: Pioneers of Extreme Card Manipulation
Mark Day: Comedian and YouTube Executive
Exploring the New Business Models
Power Tools for Audience-Building, Collaboration and Commerce
About the Author
*You can buy the book here*
Short review from www.chutry.wordherders.net
Scott Kirsner’s Fans, Friends, and Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age uses interviews with a number of prominent artists who have been able to forge careers and gain widespread popularity primarily through promotional and distribution tools available online. For those of us doing research on digital cinema, Kirsner’s book is a valuable resource, one that illustrates the ways in which content creators are navigating, and sometimes profiting from, what Chris Anderson has described as the “long tail” of digital distribution and what others have described as do-it-yourself (DIY) distribution. While my own research, in Reinventing Cinema (Amazon) , focuses exclusively on filmmakers, Kirsner assembles a number of key figures from what he calls the “era of digital creativity,” including musicians, comics artists, visual artists, and novelists, in order to establish or explore how a set of practices have emerged that allow artists to escape the “gatekeepers” of traditional distribution and market themselves. While Kirsner’s book is generally optimistic about the potentials of DIY, a number of significant themes surfaced throughout the interviews.
Read full review
Scott Kirsner interviewed Independent film makers at a breakfast about the future of Independent Film.
The recording is not great because of the background noise, if you can take it you may hear some pearls about distribution, business models and where are we going….
Eight folks who were in Austin this week for the SXSW Film Festival sat down yesterday morning to have breakfast and talk about the one big idea or big challenge or big shift that we’ve been thinking about most these days. We recorded the conversation so you could listen in, but be forewarned that there’s a lot of background noise; the restaurant was noisier than is ideal for audio recording. (It gets better as the recording goes on, as the restaurant empties out.) The order in which people speak in the recording is:
producer Ted Hope
filmmaker Lance Weiler
conference organizer and producer Liz Rosenthal
technologist Brian Chirls
outreach guru Caitlin Boyle
filmmaker Brett Gaylor
producer and Filmmaker Mag editor Scott Macaulay
Here is the last installment of Ted Hope’s “Producers and investment” piece. His closing paragraph is quite personal to him ad I enjoyed that he shared what his future vision is for his career.
Each movie requires outreach into the aforementioned communities and careful discussion with them to build the audience for the film. My partners and I are lucky in that we have been able to make quite a few films; with each film we forge new relationships with theatre owners, bookers, journalists, festival programmers, and audiences. Each new project asks us to reinvest the relationships we’ve previously developed. I have no money to invest in my film projects, but I have my history, and personally, I find that priceless.
My experience and my relationships are my capital — the investment I make in every project I do. To miss that part of the equation is to forget that cinema is an ONGOING dialogue with the audience. It is not a single movie, although with each one we hope to lift that conversation up to a new level of passion, thoughtfulness, and aspiration. Each project we take on requires a considerable investment, one in which the profit will be likely be cultural at best, one in which the profit is still going to leave me wondering how to afford to take on the next movie, although with each new project I will be richer in terms of experience, and hopefully relationships too.
As a producer, we don’t look to make one film or five. I have made close to sixty films now and look to make at least the same amount going forward. Each of these films is a new start up, a new company, and a new product that requires I invest all the profits from my prior work into it — albeit not financial profit, but the good will that I have built. With each new film I take on, it all is put to risk; my collaborators could jeopardize it all. As I wade through this hazard filled swamp, I have my own ambitions too: I am constantly trying to improve my craft and expand my resources. I grow from working in all genres and budget levels. I grow from working with the new team we assemble for each project. Each director helps me see the world afresh, to recognize that there is no template for creation. And that is my personal profit.
I have mostly made what are called Art Films, but I hope to also make what some will call crass commercial crap. And I hope to continue to make what some will prefer to call pretentious arty farty wank. I hope to make works of truth and honesty and beauty. I want to make the populist crowd pleaser and the radical revolutionary call to arms. In each my investment will come from the alliances that were built on the prior journeys, the swarms of energy from the many, the donations of the devoted and delighted. If I can invest in a film, it will because of the investment in me that others have made. This is one Ponzi scheme that I think benefits not just those that play in it, but those that sit on the sidelines too.
Walker’s question of why producers don’t invest in their movies brings us back to the perennial problem that most people think that producing is just about raising the money. The first film that I raised the financing for was Hal Hartley’s FLIRT, even though I had already produced about ten films by then. Producing has always been about making the best movie possible and making sure that the audience for it, sees it. The money part of the equation is just the steps needed to get to the making part.
It seems like until the late ‘80’s producing was solely the province of the wealthy and privileged. Up until then it also seemed like those that could pursue producing in this country, had to do it the Hollywood way; which meant that if you succeeded presumably you quickly became more wealthy and privileged. Producing will never be a secure profession in America, but it is open to those who are willing to work at it and have something to offer, not just the wealthy and privileged.
I don’t have money to offer, and never expect to, but my partners and I do make considerable investments in all our films. When we consider taking on a new project, we anticipate it will be a three-year commitment at the very least. Although we have had projects like AMERICAN SPLENDOR that only go through a few drafts (and go on to get nominated for the Academy Award), we also figure that each project will have a minimum of fifteen drafts. Some have forty or more. Each draft represent reading time, discussion, notes, and generally a fair amount of emotion. The scripts themselves require research through books, websites, and other movies, more time, more energy, and more thought. Even AMERICAN SPLENDOR was something that I had spent years developing before I brought to the writers, having already shot footage on Harvey & Joyce, secured the Letterman tapes, committed to a hybrid structure, and decided on the central theme of the project. When Bob & Shari walked into the office they were like a dream come true, the perfect peg to fill the hole: a couple who had written bio pics and made docs on off-center pop culture.
A producer gets no glory for the films they create and make. A producer’s name is rarely recalled for the work that others have enjoyed. A producer is the one that each side looks to for solutions, and thus one that has to sacrifice to bring satisfaction. When the film works, it has no bearing for the producer on future rewards, as it will the actors, directors, and writers. When things go well for a producer, it means more people seek them out, more people expect them to pick up the tab. The producers I know are creative collaborators who put their heart and soul into their projects, but never achieve the ownership that might lift their savings into real levels of security.
The demands on a producer don’t change due to their limited finances however. Each project is also a relationship, or rather several. The filmmakers, investors, and collaborators all have real needs and need thoughtful attention. The forays that we make to investors, cast, crew, distributors, critics, and fans all depend on different relationships that we have put considerable time and effort into. If we are going to survive, theses other relationships will need to extend far past the singular film. How well we service these relationships will directly reflect what fruit we can bring to subsequent projects. Each new film is a risk, where all this historic good will, this capital we have raised, is tested and re-valued.
(to be continued…)
Posted on Trulyfreefilm by Ted Hope
During my perusing I found this piece on Trulyfreefilms written by producer Ted Hope. It’s the first of three parts so keep checking in for further reading.
Recently on my TrulyFreeFilms blog, Michael Walker of Pangofilms asked why more producers don’t invest in their own movies.
This question first assumes that there are producers who could even afford to consider this possibility. Right now, when it comes to financial matters, I don’t know of any producers that aren’t first and foremost concerned about their immediate survival (even the concern of long term survival now looks like a luxury). The business once supported prolific quality producers with overhead deals, but those days are now dead and gone. A financial investment in a movie is not something most producers can afford.
I have made financial investments in my films, but mostly in terms of bridge loans and never with any reward for it. Usually the director didn’t even know I was doing it. And once I got burned and came very close to watching it spiral and thus losing a great deal more as a result. I have also “invested” in filmmakers I believed in, whether to help them complete their movie, or just to survive, but never in a structure that had expectation for financial reward — more as a friend or family member would. But generally, the reason why, as a Producer, I haven’t invested financially in my projects, is because I, like most producers, can’t afford to. Sad to break it to you, but Indie Film producing is not a lucrative profession. We don’t do it for the money honey.
To be frank, I think investing in films is counter to what a producer should be doing. Investors generally are looking for a financial return, albeit one that contributes something to the culture too. A director is trying to make their movie. A producer has to balance these multiple interests. One of the most difficult things about producing is making sure all collaborators share a common agenda. As much as folks claim to be on the same page, their behavior frequently betrays this goal. The director and the financier both need to know the producer is looking out for their diverse interests.
Producers have a fiscal responsibility to their movie, but it is not their only responsibility. I am surprised that a director would want a producer who by way of their investment was declaring the fiscal responsibility their primary one. I would be surprised that investors would want to go forward without someone to balance their needs with that of the director’s. How would such an investor ever get a great film? Unfortunately, a film’s financial success is dependent on far many things beyond the quality of the script, so even if the producer who developed it had infinitely deep pockets, the intersection of art and commerce would create an imbalance of power. Movies thankfully will never just be about these interests; it is the blend that really makes each film find new heights.
District 9 stars South African talent Jason Cope and Sharlto Copley and is directed by S.A.ex-pat Neill Blomkamp. The film used a lot of Johannesburg crew and everyone on that set was super enthusiastic about the project. Here is a full article on what is District 9 by taking an extensive look at the viral campaign.
Last summer at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, the convention center was peppered with random, cryptic signs such as the one pictured here, which featured variations on the phrase “For Humans Only.” The signs were bizarre, eye-catching, and kind of adorable, with their strange-looking alien figures and their copy warning against non-existent aliens who were supposedly trying to invade our territory.
Since then, we’ve learned that the signs were part of an elaborate viral campaign for director Neill Blomkamp’s newest film, District 9. For the uninitiated, Blomkamp was a protégé of director Peter Jackson, and was positioned to be the director of a film based on Bungie’s Halo franchise (that deal subsequently fell apart). Blomkamp has shown much talent in his short films and commercials, but many wondered if he was ready for a big-budget sci-fi thriller. Hit the jump for an extensive look at the viral campaign for Blomkamp’s District 9, and what it reveals about the movie.
Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2009
By David Chen
On the 6th of March, Watchmen, the most epic graphic novel of all will premier in the US. The film has cost about $130mil with A-list producer Larry Gordon (Die Hard, Predator, Hellboy) spearheading the project. The reason I post this article is just to show that Sh*t happens.
Gordon is now in a battle with Warner Bros whom he (Gordon) will have to pay major litigation costs to. Warner Bros had to pay the Fox Network a couple of Million Dolla when the rights for Watchmen where not cleared properly. Warner held Gordon responsible for the uhm, oversight and now it may hurt real bad.OUCH
Thank God the movie wasn’t held back until after the mess was cleared because I can’t wait to be in a cinema seat to watch this film!
Read Full Story
Warner Bros. and producer Larry Gordon will wait to discuss who’s to blame for Fox lawsuit
By Matthew Belloni
A small piece from a great conversation between great film makers on the topic of documentary. Take your time as its quite a lengthy piece but it has great insights and stories about getting films made and more importantly getting them out!
This interest has really brought to the fore what people expect of documentary. And it’s triggered a conversation that I’ve been having more and more, and that I believe we’re going to have today: What is it that we expect from a documentary and of documentarians? What do we think that is? What a great place this is now to ask these four different people to think about that with us: Julia Bacha, who edited Control Room, Jeff Gibbs, producer and composer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Robert Greenwald, the director and producer of Outfoxed, Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me.
This is a creative industry and so when we’re in a tight spot we either use gaffer tape or get creative. Finding money creatively -
As banks increasingly opt out of funding, directors are using new ways to raise revenue to make movies.
Wanted: 1,700 brave investors each willing to shell out $30 for a credit as a co-executive producer on an independent movie about New York’s illegal graffiti street-art scene. The reward: striking a “blow for artistic freedom.”
That’s the pitch espoused by tyro filmmaker Alice.ia Carin in a full-page ad that ran recently in the Nation magazine, a fundraising attempt for her film “Don’t See This.” Carin also promised to send profits from the currently unproduced soundtrack, book and film to “help fund [New York City] public school programs in music and fine arts.”
By Rachel Abramowitz
November 23, 2008 in print edition E-1
This post is for musicians and film makers alike. If you want to quit your job at the video store and live off the people that love your art here is a (relatively) simple equation to do so. The theory of a 1000 True Fans is fantastic. It gives us motivation to pay more attention to those people coming to our gigs and viewings and fostering a strong relationship with them. Ultimately they are the reason you can do what you do and they will be the reason that you do it. Hmmm, I should get those Thank You cards out and start writing!
The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.
But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.
Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?
One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.