Film Competition

•July 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

csHey everyone.

"Coffee Shop" has been entered into the Openfilm "Get It Made" film competition. Voting is only available for members of the site, so please consider signing up for a FREE account and voting for the film today!

Sign up here:
http://www.openfilm.com/join/free/

Watch and vote here:
http://www.openfilm.com/videos/coffee_shop/

The winners will be announced in September!

Please spread the word! Thanks a lot, your support is greatly appreciated.

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The Death of Art

•June 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Are we running out of ideas, or are we just lazy?  It seems that every film in the theatre or song on the radio seems to be a rehash of something nostalgic or it is original with no substance to it at all.  You have to wonder if this is because no one has any good, original ideas or because the people who produce such pieces of art are playing it safe and producing what will be a guaranteed money maker.  I know in film this is extremely evident and becoming almost comical, with the production companies playing it safe and remaking everything in the past 30 years or so, but it seems that this is panning over into the music industry and other industries as well.

This phenomenon reminds me of the art deco style of architecture of the 1920s and 30s.  Buildings were pieces of art that were pleasing to the eye and people could be proud of.  Now, with a few exceptions, people are hard pressed to find a building that is not economically made as possible; big square buildings with little thought put into it.  I understand because of the depression throughout the 30s that things had to change, but they never did bounce back.  The houses we live in seem to be made the same way these days.  It’s all about economy and now we are even seeing that the craftsmanship in the very washer/dryers and refrigerators put into these houses.  Nothing lasts for than 5 years, whereas if you had an appliance from 30 years ago, it would outlast something bought last week.

Although I will give the music industry credit, the instrumental artists out today are fabulous and have been creating great music that are some of the greatest there is, but the lyrics are repetitious and don’t say anything.  Music used to be about telling the world something, now it is just a way to sell records.

There is a line drawn between art/expression and a business, but I think it’s time to turn that balance in the other direction.  Life can be a tough place and boring at times, so when people go to escape, to an otherworldly experience in a theatre or in their rooms listening to the radio, it would be great for them to experience something better that what we are giving them as a society.  Let’s put some effort into our craft and hope and pray that he public demands better as well.

Earthquake!

•April 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I felt a tremor the other day.  The ground moved.  The ground…moved!  I’m sure this is a more common occurrence to the residence of California, but to me, from the Great White North, it was a surreal experience.  Now, I didn’t come close to feeling an actual earthquake, but I was about 3 or 4 hrs. away from the epicenter and could feel the tremors of an aftershock.  It was an interesting experience and having the ground ‘wobble’ back and forth beneath your feet is unsettling to say the least.  I could only imagine how it could go from something so small to a real 7.2 earthquake like was felt by the people in Baja on Sunday, where this specific one took place.

I’m not going to pretend to begin to understand what it’s like to go through an actual earthquake, but it does put things in perspective when you hear about disasters such as this happening around the world.

Nightwish

•February 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

_MG_4292[1] One day a friend of mine told me they were going to a Nightwish concert.  Normally I would not have thought anything about it, as I had never heard of them before, but the name intrigued me and I decided to look them up.  I’m glad I did.  They are one of the best bands that I have heard in a long time and if their music isn’t your style, I think you will have to agree that they are definitely one of the most talented.

They are a hard rock/heavy metal band, mixed with an operatic vocalist and a touch of inspiration from film soundtracks.  That last one is the reason why I think I like them so much.  Very few musical genres bring out as much emotion in me as the musical soundtrack.  If a score is done well, there is nothing that compares.  I am also into hard rock and some harder metal and Nightwish combines both elements of music that I love into an awesome composition.

Nightwish is from Finland and they have been around since 1996.  I liked them so much after I first heard them, that I bought the 8 disc box set of their studio albums, although they have a lot more including EPs and singles.

All the musicians in the band are incredible artists however, the parts that stand out to me most, are the orchestral arrangements and the drumming.  I have never heard a drummer play so well, fast and with so much variety throughout an album.  Definitely give this band a listen.  They are exciting to listen to and entertaining to watch.

Bellow are 2 of my favorite songs.

Are writers running out of ideas?

•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Take a look at a list of all the films that are playing in the theatres today.  Look at them in the past 2 to 4 years.  A good majority of them are based on one of these categories:

  • A sequel
  • A sequel to a sequel (and beyond)
  • A prequel
  • A remake (of the original version of that movie)
  • An adaptation (from a TV show, novel or other medium)
  • An original screenplay

Only one of these categories took some imagination.  Ouch!  Don’t yell at me yet.  I’m not saying it doesn’t take skill, creativity or raw talent to create from the other categories, but a lot of the work has been done for you.  I’m definitely not saying there isn’t a place for these types of films, I’m just saying that most of the time they are unnecessary.  I’m the biggest fan of sequels, adaptations and even serials, when warranted.

The Remake

As for remakes, if a film has done well in the past, especially if it has become a classic, it doesn’t need our help to try and make it better and as filmmakers, you will not make it any better.  That is why it’s called a “classic”.  (Side Note:  How about filmmakers try and remake movies that didn’t do well.  They already know what mistakes were made and can improve upon them.)

Remake Examples:

Great The Italian Job Original Remake

I haven’t seen the original yet, but from what I’ve heard, this was a good example of taking a relatively unknown film (to today’s audience) and remaking it into a fun film.

Unnecessary 12 Angry Men Original Remake

I haven’t seen the remake of this film, but I do know that after watching the original, it quickly became one of my favorite films.  I was almost upset when I even found out there was a more modern version.  It’s a near perfect film and doesn’t need to be remade.

It seems like film companies are going down the list of films that they have made over the past few decades and are signing up all the same films to be remade.  Their past films are becoming a checklist of films to be made.  It’s really sad.  Now, how about making a re-release?  I think it would be great for the film industry and for fans to re release old prints of films from yesteryear.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the classics from decades ago on the big screen?  Sigh…

The Sequel

If a movie made a certain amount of money, then a sequel is a sure thing.  It doesn’t matter how bad it is, because the same audience who saw the first one, is sure to see it again…right?

Sequel Examples:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:  The first film wasn’t great, but they did an okay job at adapting from the original.  Was a sequel warranted?  I think so.  It had so much potential, but followed the same poor formula, relying on special effects to cover up a lackluster story and as a result, didn’t get great reviews.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:  This is one of the most unnecessary remake/prequel/adaptations around.  The first Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a great film.  It was adapted well from the Disney ride, it was funny, it had a great cast and was just a really good movie.  The second two had a lot of potential and although were not necessary, they were something to look forward to.  They turned out to be less than good because of the horrible story towards the end of the third film.  It actually felt like the writers needed an ending so badly that they rushed it out with whatever first came to mind.

Spider-Man 4:  I’m torn on this one.  As long as filmmakers follow the direction I left in my Superhero Movie post, I think everything would be okay.  The Spider-Man franchise has many years of good stories to adapt, they don’t need us messing them up.  As long as the filmmakers crank out good films, they should continue to make them (like James Bond?).  This was going well for the first two films, then the writers wavered too far from the original content and threw in their own ideas.  Big mistake.  Redeem yourselves with another well written sequel.  No, wait!  Let’s reboot the series!  What?  It’s way too soon for a reboot.  Okay fine, reboot it, but do it well.  The Spider-Man franchise deserves it.

Tron Legacy:  This film has the potential to be the greats sequel ever!  It also could be a horrible flop.  I’m definitely looking forward to this sequel and from hearing what the director, Joseph Kosinski had to say (Interview), I think it will be in good hands.  The movie was largely based on technology at the time.  Technology has progressed so much (in film and in the story) that this film almost had to be made.  We’ll see how they do.

The Adaptation

Adaptations are great and necessary.  Few people knew that Jaws, was a book before it became Stephen Spielberg‘s hit film.  Today though, adaptations seem more and more like an excuse to not think of anything original.

Adaptation Examples:

Starsky & Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard, Sherlock Holmes, Jaws

I can just imagine what a conversation might be like in one of the big studios.

One executive says to another, “Okay, get two comedians that work well together and put them in another film.  It’s a winning combination and we need another film!”

“But we don’t have any ideas.”, said the other executive.

The first executive suggests, “Just use <insert popular 70s/80s TV show here> as the basis for your story.”

“Ha, perfect!”, he shouted.

Alright, I’m not too sure where I was going with that one, but it sounded funny at the time. 

Good Writing Is Necessary

Everything is a formula these days, and I hope we as an audience and filmmakers wise up and get creative again.  Not all these movies are bad, but for the most part, they are mostly unnecessary.  It’s been a while since I have actually been excited to go see a film, and this year finally some movies are coming out that I really can’t wait to see (sequels, remakes and all).  The majority of the movies out today fit into one of the first five categories and people are hard pressed to find an original screenplay that has made it to the big screen.  When there is one that does make it, about half the time you find one that is any good.  Is that because there are no original screenplays out there, or is it because the large companies refuse to take a risk on them?  I think it’s both.  First, I think that writers today are getting lazy.  I know it’s a tough business, but people are taking the easy way out and it’s losing it’s place as an art form and becoming something entirely different.  Secondly, the production companies are scared.  They think they have found a formula that works and as a business, it’s a smart move.  The problem is that the scales are tipping too far in one direction between the film industry being an art form and it being a business.  As always, balance is essential.  We need writers to write good, well thought out stories, executives to take a chance on them and an audience who cares enough to be entertained.

Literally

•January 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’m pretty sure most of the worlds population doesn’t know what the term “literally” means.  I like Dictionary.com’s explanation.  It literally means:

lit-er-al-ly
Pronunciation: [lit-er-uh-lee]
IPA: /ˈlɪt ər ə li/

–adverb

    1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
    2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
    3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
    4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually

    Notice it says “without exaggeration”, but most people use

    it for exaggeration.  This is especially embarrassing when TV personalities or talk show hosts (rhymes with “Goprah”) abuse this word.  Just some examples I have heard were:

    • “It literally took forever…” –There is no way to know that about anything.  If it literally took forever, you would still be waiting for it to happen.
    • “It literally turned the world upside down.” –No, it didn’t.  The world did not physically move or shift one bit as a result.
    • “I was literally blown away, it was so good!” –This needs some interpretation, but it either means you are dead right now or a wind was so strong it actually moved you from one location to another.

    I hope people are getting this.  In a time when exaggeration no longer has any effect, people go above and beyond and abuse this buzzword, which it turns makes them look ignorant.

    Slower Traffic Keep Right

    •January 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

    Driving down the highway, is something I have to do everyday to get to work.  It’s not a long distance but about 8 minutes of highway driving.  As I drive, I can see a very large sign that reads “Slower Traffic Keep Right”.  I see so many drivers not obeying this rule.  Not only is it a good rule to live by, but it actually tells you to do that on the side of the road.  I guess people don’t understand what this statement means, or I guess they just haven’t learned to read.  There are valid reasons for this, including the most important one, giving emergency vehicles the ability to pass when needed.

    A lot of people are driving the speed limit or faster in the left lane and some people think that is not right either, but it is not our job to slow them down by driving there.  Let the cops, deal with them.  That is not the issue.  We don’t know their circumstances and it’s their choice if they want to drive fast and deal with the consequences, as long as they also get into the right lane after passing.

    I understand that “slower” is suggestive.  Who is slower?  “That guy is driving pretty fast so he can go in the left lane.”  No, there is always someone faster.  A good rule is to be sure you are always in the right lane unless you are passing someone.  There is nothing worse (well there is) than two cars going the same “slow” speed, side by side on a two lane highway.  That’s common driving courtesy and etiquette.