|So several blogs ago I wrote about the new Star Wars films, the 7-9 of the series being done by filmmakers other than George Lucas and before that I wrote about the tangled web that is Marvel Studios and the comic book licensing rights to studios like 20th Century Fox and Sony’s various branches. Funny how all this seemingly disparate elements can all come together in a perfect storm.|
After this summer’s THE AVENGERS becoming the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, a lot has changed in the comic-book movie adaptation world. Warner Brothers, who own all of D.C. comic’s characters is fast tracking a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie to cash in on the same format, but they are failing to see what worked for AVENGERS were a string of successful solo movie all building up to the anticipation and awe of seeing so many characters together. Next summer’s MAN OF STEEL with participation from BATMAN’s Christopher Nolan will probably do well, but there was no setup for a group movie, and neither Nolan or Christian Bale would likely have anything to do with a team movie.
In the continuation of Marvel deals, Fox pulled the plug on a Daredevil movie from Joe Carnahan (the Grey, Narc) and intentionally let the rights lapse back to Marvel. They just announced a 2015 release date for a FANTASTIC FOUR reboot, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the first film. God, how terrible an idea is that? Ask the Amazing Spider-man over at Sony. Supposedly, Marvel cut a deal with Fox that they would extend their contract on the FF if they gave back the Silver Surfer, supposedly to play in AVENGERS 2. Aside from the fact that Chris Evans is now Captain America and was the Human Torch in both of those movies, does anyone want a Fantastic Four movie without the ability to cross over with Spider-man or the Avengers?Fox hired a former Marvel employee to shepherd all the Fox owned Marvel movies, ala Marvel Studios and they’ve got the director of CHRONICLE to direct the new FANTASTIC FOUR movie. Supposedly, they are intended to cross over the Fantastic Four and X-Men characters in the next few years too.
Speaking of which, Bryan Singer directed X-Men and X2 which helped usher in the current fad of good Comic Book movies last decade. He was asked to come back for X-Men First Class, incorporating his screenplay for a 2nd X-Men Origins movie on Magneto. His Warner movie JACK THE GIANT SLAYER interfered with Fox’s need to get this movie in the can lest Marvel get the lucrative X-Men back, so they asked Matthew Vaughn, hot off of the comic-book movie KICK ASS. Vaughn was slated to direct X-Men 3 Last Stand, but bowed out at the last second to be replaced by Brett Ratner. With the success of the pseudo reboot of X-Men First Class, the studio wanted Vaughn back instead of Bryan Singer.
Now Bryan Singer has stepped in to fill in for Matthew Vaughn who has pulled out of yet another X-Men movie, this one a hybrid of the old cast and new based on the classic story DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The time travel elements allow characters from any of the X-Men movies to cross over. Even Hugh Jackman is now in talks to make a more substantial role as WOLVERINE, aside from the upcoming THE WOLVERINE sequel/reboot/stand alone story. No one has officially stated why, but it’s pretty obvious why Matthew Vaughn is headed and it’s a galaxy far far away.
According to reliable sources not just on the Internets, Matthew Vaughn is one of the finalists for directing STAR WARS VII. His competition? IRON MAN and IRON MAN II director Jon Favreau who put Marvel Studios on the map, and acting only in this May’s IRON MAN III. Given the announced released date of 2015, same as AVENGERS 2, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and now THE FANTASTIC FOUR, that looks to be a busy summer for movies....
Spielberg has edited two movies non-linear in a computer! He himself vowed never to do such a thing, but with TINTIN and also WAR HORSE, Steven has come over to the darkside. Now I understand TINTIN, as that is a CGI movie, but WAR HORSE is live action, shot on film.
Spielberg resisted the new school approach to editing, which is like comparing typing with a typewriter versus using a word processor. Your options become near limitless and takes so little time to edit with a computer versus editing with a work print, a moviola and some splice tape.
For 40+ year of a career, this has been the only way Spielberg has edited, and now he has done two movies back to back in the computer.At least he’s still using editor Michael Kahn. He has edited all of Spielberg’s movies except for 2, JAWS (Verna Fields) and E.T. (Carol Littleton, because Michael Kahn was editing POLTERGEIST for Spielberg superseding director Tobe Hooper).
I’m doing some minor writing of late. Whether it’s scribbling on a notepad at work, typing in Google Docs on the laptop waiting on a render, what matters most is that words from my head are being committed to some form that others might see and eventually say/shoot.
I’ve got a few ideas tumbling over. One compels me because I have never attempted a process shot, that is a shot in a car that appears to be moving when it is in fact stationary. There is the “poor man’s process” which is to say it’s all done with lights rotating across the windshield and windows. That is an option. Next is rear-projection, which is to go out and shoot the street views ahead of time, then project them on a screen near the car to give the illusion that they are moving. You’ll still have to do the lights, but there is clearly a background of moving streets outside the windows. The benefit is that everything is in camera, no post production work on either of those. The last option is greenscreen, which is to “key” in the street scenes in the computer after the fact. This option doesn’t cause the same problems it did as little as 2-3 years ago since technology has improved so much.
I’ll pick one of those and that will be the core of this shoot. The rest of it will tackle some more adult themes, something I haven’t done much of. It will deal with sexuality in a way I do not usually put in film. There is no nudity, as I have not matured enough as a person or director to handle that yet, but since I turn 40 years old next month, maybe with the death of my youth I might gain some of that maturity I’ve heard so much about.
CLIP FRAMES and FRAMELINES continue to grow to other markets. Today I made over 60 DVD’s to send out to various channels throughout the state and in the neighboring West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. I am pleased to hear such positive responses from programmers about the show. In a few months time, there will be no escape from my marketing machine. Too long have I been idle and silent. The time to reawaken my inner marketing whore reveals itself to be nigh. Prepare thyself, Acolytes.
Slowly the wheels turn. Already got 1 rejection and 5 confirmations of playing one of the two TV series in various markets. No offense to the Population 17,000 market, but Pittsburgh picking up FRAMELINES represents a gain of about 300,000. Pittsburgh is also a much bigger film town. We’re weeks away from a premiere in Pennsylvania, and possibly CLIP FRAMES as well.
I suspect that many of these packages I sent out for CLIP FRAMES and FRAMELINES will go unanswered, whether they play the shows or not. The shame is that if they play them, I have additional episodes and no way of knowing if they can use more of them. I have to assume rejection on the part of any no-responses. I will follow up in mid December to any with contact info.
I laid out two more episodes of CLIP FRAMES tonight. They are skeletons as I need about 10 minutes of material for each episode, but that puts me at 25 total episodes. I like to lay in new material as I have it, so so more FRAMELINES leftover content as well as Behind the Scenes from a few friends round out the shows. Since we have 2 more Roundtables to edit for FRAMELINES, that means I should have no trouble filling in these shows.
I’m formulating my plan on what projects to embark on in the interim before ACCIDENTAL ART, the feature film. I was planning on directing 2 more CELL PHONE MONOLOGUES, but it might be 3-4, depending on a few factors. A couple scripts started to cohere in a way I did not anticipate. I’m not much of a writer to be honest, so when something starts to work, I jump on it.
We’ll see what’s next soon enough.
|Elucidating the Erudite|
After over $100 in shipping and over 50 packages, I suddenly find myself with less to do for the briefest of moments. I'm taking a weekend off, more or less. I spent today cleaning, and doing a major rearrangement of furniture in the mancave of Rossdonia.
I have many docs on my computer(s), usually transcribed from handwritten notes on one of several notepads. In it are many ideas from THINGS TO DO, to lines of dialogue to project ideas. Because contract negotiations with a key cast member do not permit me to shoot on my feature ACCIDENTAL ART for a few months, along with weather, I want to fill my time with some creative work.
I can’t stand be idle. It happens by the nature of doing something artistic (my own work may not be judged ‘art’ by some). Sometimes the muse just doesn’t visit. Other times, life distracts you from creating.The already released CELL PHONE MONOLOGUES are an example of something I wanted to start, then become more of a producer for others to facilitate the making of more. The concept is simply to pair great actors with great cinematography to do the otherwise poorly shot acting monologue. There are two more of these that I would like to direct myself, then let others loose on writing, directing, shooting, and making others.Now that I’ve been screening these, there is some interest by others to participate.
That brings up two other similar ideas I have percolating. Well, one more idea that is meant to be done by others that I help with, and another is just a set of simple ideas I had to do.
Firstly, I wanted to do one or two of these other series, based on an old Peter Seller’s joke from the 1960’s, done as a short. I think it has legs in that the concept is modernizing and warping something from someone I idolize.
Secondly, I wanted to create some very short video blogs, but strangely make them quite cinematic. I have only a handful of ideas sketched out, but I think they could be very cool. These I have for myself, but if others want to take similar ideas and run with it, then by all means. I just think these will be far harder to keep up than the Monologues and my homage to 60’s humor.
I want to do the first few of these projects, set a tone, then let people go wild. Seek out some people to make other movies in the series, help provide gear, guidance, or hell even some degree of funding.Yeah, because I’m not busy enough in life as it is. I feel it necessary to create another MOUNTAIN of work. I’m not providing broadcast content for PBS, Educable, and teaching a class, as well as working full time producing and editing.
Combine that with my antisocial tendencies of late and you might start to wonder why these ideas are pervading my mind.....
Focus is the key. Staying on track and not letting things help you stray from your chosen path; this presents the most common mistake in getting lost. Even on a bad day right now, I still get a lot done. Whether it's for FRAMELINES or CLIP FRAMES, I digitize a tape, synchronize 4 cameras on a multicam timeline, or I edit. My nose presses firmly to the grindstone right now.
And I'm teaching.
Next week I get my own class for 11.5 months. That's a hefty responsibility, but one I look forward to. I don't know as much about the radio side of the course, but I have learned much and the support for radio is tremendous at the school. The Graduate Assistants seem to almost all have a forte in broadcast radio, so it will balance out.
I have over 50 packages to mail out. Thank god a big payday hit. Now I can afford to start the shipping. At least 20 are going out tomorrow, plus some film festival submissions and other opportunities.
I heard yet again today about someone seeing one of the shows on TV, this time CLIP FRAMES, and at a hospital. That was cool. It takes time to build an audience. In prior decades, shows took time to find their place. CHEERS was 87th out of 88 shows. SEINFELD was dead last in the ratings for their first entire season (all 4 episodes!). I have the luxury of not having to deal with ratings or fight for timeslots. CLIP FRAMES is not wonting in terms of content or episodes. I have 23 half hour shows completed already. FRAMELINES' quality vastly outweighs CLIP FRAMES because it goes out to PBS and in HD. Of course, some FRAMELINES material is airing on CLIP FRAMES, but by the time it gets to the other show, the heavy lifting is way over and only represents a fraction of effort put into a single episode.
We've put together 6 "vignettes" as I call them from last year's 48 Hour Film Project. This is material that never made it to air on FRAMELINES, but makes perfect bonus DVD, web content, and filler for CLIP FRAMES. There was some minor ill will to this year's 48 in Columbus, so some videos reminding everyone about team spirit, good times, hard work, and pure enjoyment seem to fit the prescription. Being an unbiased outside party doesn't hurt either. So far, these web videos are the most popular clips we've put out there so far. The last two are due out over the next week.
Soon we'll get cracking on finalizing another episode of FRAMELINES. Thank god the Interns have been so incredibly helpful on these. It's been so much easier once we get a style established to follow it and I only have to do minor tweaks to the cuts, as opposed to the he
Acolytes of Boo, your faithful narrator has returned in more ways than one. As always, I have kept busy, but soon the results of which will be seen by many. A few bouts of insomnia along with some creative bursts of energy have propelled my endeavors to new heights. My research has yielded some fruit in terms of distribution (of sorts) for the Education show CLIP FRAMES. I have completed and authored 23 half hour shows total including the latest Sonnyboo content and FRAMELINES overflow material, as well as contributions from other select people.
To maximize the output and breadth of coverage, I did some homework and found 41 additional channels within the state to play this on. Of course, a decent percentage will turn it down, so I cannot expect them all to love my show as I do, but even if only half play it - that will be an enormous score for getting the work seen. Outside of Ohio, I plan to send to direct contacts to 17 more channels in Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Given a lack of funding for Education channels, 23 totally free episodes of television stands a decent chance of getting air time.
Too many people are extremists of one side or the other. I do believe the television business models are decaying, but they are not gone yet. People are still channel surfers. Getting your work seen is still more likely on cable TV than on the Internet because the web has so much content drowning it. I still think the Internet is the future, so why not hedge your bets and do both? I certainly won't write off any potential outlet for material.
I am making a substantial investment in DVD-R's, the delivery format Du'Jour. 23 episode x 41 channels = 943. Yikes. I'm starting off with the first 2 episodes only (82 DVD's) and sending those out to see which channels say YES and email me back. Then whoever accepts the show, starts the marathon burning sessions. Thank god we have 3 duplicators that can do 100 DVD's at a time. And they all 3 have disc printers no less.
At the same time, I am going to create retail DVD's of the FRAMELINES episodes on Amazon.com. This will allow the show to get on IMDB quicker, and also it will contain the bonus content not from broadcast like the extra interviews, extended episodes, roundtable outtakes, etc. There will be practically no profit to the discs as we want to just make them available to the schools that have requested copies. Along with those, an updated INDIE FILM TIPS DVD will be available on AMAZON first in a few weeks, then a modified SONNYBOO HD SHORTS disc too. Then I'll retire some content like the MOVIEMAKING TECHNIQUES disc and the old Sonnyboo discs.
So many things wrapping up at the same time. Season 1 of Framelines, Cell Phone Monologues, Clip Frames show, and who knows what else. Clearing the decks for the next feature. Nothing left undone. Back to work mein freunds.
I had a blast last weekend at the Colony Film Festival in Marietta. Saw some great movies, met some inspiring filmmakers, and just chilled out a lot. Without planning it deliberately, it seems every year I make a long drive in Ohio in October and see the amazing leaves changing colors. Now that I'm back to work, the list of things to get done seems somewhat more achievable.
Framelines trucks along. We're shooting 3 roundtables and 2 featured filmmakers in an attempt to wrap up the first season of 13 episodes. I still need to find another featured filmmaker to complete the set. These are for people with a body of work and a distinctive style. The roundtables will be interesting because I'm trying to populate them with people I don't know or at least don't know well at all.
Because of the psychology of the Internet Age, I'm finding uses for outtakes and extra bits we have shot to create more content either exclusive for online or to add to the cable show CLIP FRAMES. I have found that people like a consistent and steady stream of material to be a key to retaining online audiences. Both leftover from the television era of having a show once a week, as well as the plethora of content inundating people on the Internets.
The Framelines Roundtables tend to be anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour each. The run time of the segments tends to be anywhere from 3 minutes to 7 minutes which equates to a lot of good material that never makes it to air. The Roundtables, although generally considered to be the least polished segment of the show, do have incredibly useful information from a variety of people discussing topics. My pattern thus far has been to take 2 segments from the Roundtable for broadcast on Framelines, then come up with another 10-15 minutes of material from the outtakes to form something for the websites and Clip Frames.
For the two 48 Hour Film Project episodes of Framelines, we shot interviews at the drop off. Since we got not only 3 of the team members we followed, but also 3-4 other people too, I decided to make these vignettes on each of them. Giving face time online and on cable TV to these other filmmakers who struggled equally means a lot to me.
Over time, all this material from Framelines and Clip Frames will add up. With 22 episodes of Clip Frames and 13 episodes of Framelines covering material from close to 100 filmmakers from Ohio - combine all that with repeats and airings in 7-8 markets, and the independent film movement will, at the very least, be seen.
Last month when we found out the Ohio Channel was airing our show FRAMELINES, I predicted it might get seen a little. I was right. I keep hearing from people who see me on TV and especially from the people we interviewed on the show about how they keep getting told they were seen on the show. I am so glad FRAMELINES finally escaped into the public.
Now I have to finish 4 more episodes....
I'm 95% done with Episode 9. All it needs are my trademark transitions and music beds for 3 of the stories and BAMM! It will be finished. I get a bit euphoric when finishing an episode. To be honest, I dance a jig after every episode completes. I'm lining up interviews, roundtables, and other items missing from the board for the show. Season 1 needs to finish and then we'll take a break for a while. Not sure how long, although we have plans for season 2 and stories we can cover, but I want to figure out how to best approach the future of Framelines.
I'm not as down, although I have no idea why not. Nothing has changed really. My money is being drained away just as fast as I can make some. The economy looks to not improve, which means possibly a lower income on the horizon. Roadblocks are in my filmmaking way.And yet, I am happier of late. Not sure why. I'm getting more done and better. Along with Framelines, Clip Frames continues and airs on cable TV and both will expand to neighboring states.
There is much strife in Rossdonia with Lorenzo Lamas Jones and Vladimir Jack Bauer not getting along at all (or "V" doesn't like Lorenzo at all would be more accurate a description). And yet I love them all and play with them every morning and night. I've still been purchasing titles at Half Price Books like and addict.
Who really cares "why" I'm happier. I just am. When the Rossman is happier, more gets done. A lot is getting done right now. 2 new Sonnyboo short films premiere this weekend.
I am a big fan of Star Wars, but I have never ever liked RETURN OF THE JEDI. Having just watched the Blu Ray, I'm gonna spout off a little about this. As I have said numerous times, I'm a much bigger fan of the MAKING OF these movies than I am of the movies themselves, so I will reference many things from various sources such as DVD (and obscure Laserdisc) commentaries, documentaries, out of print books (like John Preecher's THE MAKING OF RETURN OF THE JEDI from 1983), older screenplay drafts, and more.
10. LACK OF DRAMATIC TENSION PART 1 -In the scene with Leia and Han, right after Luke says, "Hey, you're my sister, even though we played tongue twister in the last movie", and the dramatic tension lasts almost 3 whole seconds before Han Solo, a well known scoundrel, gives up and apologizes right away. No waiting until they're in the battle and she gets shot to make up, thus creating some much needed drama. No consistency with character.
9. MATTE PAINTINGS - Okay, having just watched all 6 movies on Blu Ray, why are the matte paintings so blaringly obvious in this movie? In 1920x1080 High Definition video on a 42" monitor, the matte paintings of things like the Millenium Falcon in a hangar show way too much of the paint strokes and look incredibly fake.
8. BAD EFFECTS - In many ways the effects work in Return of the Jedi are STILL some of the best. Then why is some of the worst effects also in the same movie? There are several really poor blue screen shots, like when Han Solo and Lando are talking about permission to take the Millenium Falcon into battle, those shots are so terribly done, complete with the exact same horrendous matte paintings already mentioned. Throughout the movie, several of the blue screen composites rip me out of the movie because of how fake they looked. Sometimes followed immediately by some of the best of the 1980's FX work. See also the shot of Mongo's look alike mourning his dead Rancor, or Luke and Han on the skiff on Tatooine. There isn't a single shot in iV or V that compare to these 7-8 terrible FX debacles in JEDI.
7. DARTH VADER - Okay, even in the context of all 6 movies, When, where, and how did Luke sense some good in Vader? What actions were taken that demonstrate this innate sense of good? The hand cutting and torture in Empire Strikes Back? The killing of a few dozen defenseless children in Revenge of the Sith? Looking at just the original trilogy, there is absolutely NOTHING redeemable about Darth Vader. His newfound good side and thoughts, we have nothing but crappy dialogue to tell us about, is all we have to suddenly empathize with a character who has done terrible things. It rings quite hollow to me, and I am a big fan.
6. KILL LANDO - Also from Lawrence Kasden's draft, Lando was supposed to die and the Millenium Falcon did not actually make it out of the Deathstar II. There is no sense of sacrifice for the good guys in this film. With no sacrifice, there is a lot less honor. Since we the audience start to feel that the good guys aren't going to die, there isn't a lot of concern, or DRAMATIC TENSION. There it is again.
5. DEATH STAR, or LACK OF IMAGINATION - Why another Deathstar? I understand that in 1977's A NEW HOPE, George Lucas did not intend to do the whole Deathstar blowing up and trench run, but did because of studio pressure and thinking he would never get to play that card later. Still, come up with something NEW. Something imaginative. Rehashing a visual and just the exact same thing was kind of lame. Early drafts had not 1, but 2 Deathstars. That was twice as boring to me.
4. RELATIONSHIPS UNRESOLVED - This too plays into a lack of DRAMATIC TENSION, because when last Luke and Leia were seen together in Empire, she was taking care of her favorite idealist, but confessed to loving his best friend. By going back to a completely unused draft of Episode iV (the 2nd draft) where Luke and Leia were siblings, something OBVIOUSLY not adhered to in the previous 2 films. There was dramatic tension in a LOVE TRIANGLE. If Luke and Han are both suitors for Leia, then there might be a tear in their friendship. Even with the sibling reveal, there was an opportunity to play on this, but it gets dropped in favor of.... no tension.
3. HARRISON FORD - Harrison did not want to do this movie. He has repeatedly stated he did not want to play Han Solo again. Of all the principal actors, he was the only one NOT signed for this sequel. In the end he got a substantially better deal than the rest, but even monetary compensation did not inspire a watchable performance. Han Solo in this movie is unmotivated, poorly acted, and completely inconsistent with anything ever this guy has done in the 2 previous movies. Harrison weighed at least 20-25 pounds heavier and his hair looked like the stylist was Ray Charles in a dark closet. Sadly, Harrison was right in saying Han Solo should have died at the end of the first act to show some sacrifice and also to add some dramatic tension. Even Carrie Fisher, so blatantly coke'd out of her mind on every type of narcotic that existed in 1982, delivered a better performance than Harrison Ford in this movie.
2. EWOKS - No, I never liked the Ewoks. As I was all of 11 years old when Return of the Jedi came out and I found the pandering to be insulting to my age group. Having known for years this was intended to be Wookiees like Chewbacca, how on the hell are we supposed to accept these half sized, product placements as a substitute? I will say there was a single shot where two Ewoks get hit by laserfire, and one of them stays dead and the other one mourns him - that was deep. Now on Blu Ray, these things have iris' and they blink. Creepy, but more realistic. But way creepy. Seeing REVENGE OF THE SITH with a full on Wookiee battle, imagine what this COULD have been like...
1. LACK OF DRAMATIC TENSION PART II : FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW - Even as an 11 year old, I felt the Obi Wan Kenobi scene from Return of the Jedi to be a series low point. "What I told you was true... from a certain point of view"? Come on, that sucks. Why isn't Luke emotional? Why isn't he yelling at Obi Wan about NOT telling him who his father was? How does the moral ambiguity work for THIS, but not the Emperor or all the people who are drafted into the Imperial forces who die in the fight against the rebellion? The worst thing about this one is having read Lawrence Kasden's draft of this scene that George Lucas re-wrote. In Kasden's draft, Luke IS belligerent, asks angrily, "Why didn't you tell me Vader was my father?" and Obi Wan responds with, "We wanted to finish your training and prepare you for the burden but you left in such a hurry." Luke responds with "But I had to save my friends! They were in danger" and Obi Wan wisely retorts, "and in the end, didn't they end up saving YOU?" and that shuts Luke up and they have a civil conversation. DRAMA of the best kind. Never to be seen in this freakin' movie.