Friday, May 30, 2008

Film Quote Fridays #2

This week's quote: " made this? You made a big gun?!"

Answer to last week's quote: The Sandlot

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Hummingbird Part 2

After Sunday's hummingbird incident, it reminded me of another encounter. This took place last Christmas. Like any other home, we had our Christmas decorations up including some fake red berries out on the front porch for the festive vibe. Once again, I was sitting outside when a hummingbird flies up and all the way into the porch. It went straight to the fake berries, poked around a bit and then quickly took off. I thought it was pretty cool. It made me think of the way things are marketed and also people in general.

My point? You may fool them at first, but sooner or later they'll see it for what it is.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Filmmaker Sydney Pollack

The thing that comes to mind when I first think about Sydney Pollack is how natural he always seemed when he was acting - from Tootsie to Michael Clayton - even in a movie that he's starring and directing in. My most memorable Sydney Pollack role was in Eyes Wide Shut. His scenes with Tom Cruise left enough of an impact to stick in my head for almost ten years now.

But many of us would overlook his passion as a director and filmmaker which is evident in his work as well as in "Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters". This clip is just a reminder. Bravo, Sydney! And thank you.

The Scare

Sunday morning was one of those calm, quiet Sundays. I was sitting on the front porch, enjoying a little quiet time, sipping my coffee and just lost in thought. When all of a sudden, out from nowhere, I hear a thick, fast WHOOSH inches from my right ear. Startled, my reflexes kicked in, my body jumped and I quickly ducked and turned my head away. You of those times. I swear, my heart went from 0 to 60 in just a second.

As I collected my bearings I turned to look at what I expected to be a flying beetle, a bee, etc. but instead found a little hummingbird floating and staring at me. After a couple of seconds of exchanging stares, the little thing just took off to inspect some nearby flowers. After the quietness settled back in I couldn't stop laughing at myself.

I guess sometimes, some things aren't as bad as we make them out to be.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

From the moment I saw the trailer last year, I knew it was something that I had to see. After months of working post production on Shiro's Head, I was finally able to catch "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" from Netflix over the weekend. First off, the editing was was a building block to the whole story courtesy of the skillfull Juliette Welfling. The cinematography from award winning top-tier DP Janusz Kaminski was as good as any movie can get. The cast led by Mathieu Amalric was superb and the screenplay writing (though I watched the English subtitled version adapted from the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby) from Ronald Harwood was moving. Mostly, the artistic direction and guts from American director Julian Schnabel was way more than I initially expected and was prepared to give him credit for.

This real life account of the editor of French "Elle" fashion magazine Jean-Dominique Bauby was played out like a moving painting. In 1995, Bauby was a high-rolling French playboy who had a life-threatening stroke that left him paralyzed from the head down. His condition was a rare one known as "locked-in syndrome". He was only able to blink his left eye. It was with the blinking of his left eye that he was able to communicate with others to write his memoirs which later became a successful bestseller.

Because there is way too much in this movie that will allow me to ramble on for days, I'll break it down to just a few of my high points. It's a uniquely great movie that is not only touching, but inspiring and artistically driven. I won't spoil it too much for you: Director Schnabel has won me over (which isn't easy to do) with respect as a director with a REAL vision. Rocker, former fashion model and "Mrs. Polanski" Emmanuelle Seigner of "Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle" gives a BAD-ASS , empowering performance as Bauby's ex and the mother of his children (she also has a song that sets the tone for the soundtrack entitled "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye"). Max von Sydow gives an emotional performance as Jean's father, I feel like I now know Marie Josee Croze just from her sensitive performance and the cool soundtrack is perfectly accompanied with rich visuals I won't soon forget.

Although this movie won't be for everyone, those who do "get it" will appreciate it. Definitely one for the collection.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Three Day Weekends

I used to think that moving an observed holiday such as "Memorial Day" to a Monday just to accommodate an efficient three day weekend dilutes the actual original meaning and weight of the holiday in the first place.

But as I kept thinking, I realized that because of this, it also gives families and friends the chance to spend more sequential time together with loved ones and to reflect on the day while honoring those that are no longer with them - which I think adds just as much weight to the purpose of the holidays and the meaning behind them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Film Quote Fridays

In film school, one of my Directing course instructors would always start off each class by calling role with favorite film quotes. He'd call our names and instead of answering with a "present" or "here" we would respond with a favorite film quote.

You would think with over 25 students in the class we would run out of quotes, but we never did. Somehow we always found a new one. One of my favorites? "You're killing me, Smalls!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bear Grylls' Philosophy

As Don put it, most 23 year-olds were crashing hotel parties or trying to climb the corporate ladder while Bear Grylls was climbing Mt. Everest.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Bear Grylls at a book signing and he said something that stuck. Something that was simple. Someone asked the usual question about having any advice for those of us in the room.

He took a breath and seconds later responded with his famous British accent: "No matter what it is you do, never, never, never give up." "Hmmmm...", I said to myself. "Sounds a little cliche Bear". Well, read on.

So Bear went on to compare instances of women who were stranded from a plane crash and were later rescued because they'd survived days in the woods vs. muscle-laden soldiers of the British Army who couldn't survive at least two days after being stranded. The reason? It all starts with not giving up. Because the women didn't give up, they had a stronger driving force that kept them alive one day longer - just enough to get back to their children. It was their stronger desire to live for their children that kept them going one day longer.

Bear stated that anyone is capable of anything if they want it bad enough. What it basically comes down to is "If you give up, you fail. Who wants it more? Who's willing to go the distance and put everything on the line?" Anyone faced with any obstacle can "survive" - and it all starts with not giving up.

That's advice I'm more than happy to take from someone who's not only doing what he loves to do for a living, but has accomplished more things in the last 10 years than most people even get to attempt in a lifetime. Cheerio!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And With That Said...

In regards to yesterday's post, I still think this clip is funny. You need to watch the clip from beginning to end for full effect.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Man vs. Wild or TV vs. Real Life.

For those that don't know Bear Grylls, he's the bug-eating dude on Man vs. Wild on Discovery Channel.

It's amazing that when the subject of his TV show comes up, some people think that he's fake because his show doesn't put him in "real" danger. Some people think that he really should be putting his life on the line in every situation, every week on every show. Otherwise, to them, anything less would be fake. Well, I'm pretty sure that would be silly, not to mention very naive.

I always thought it was obvious that the TV show is just a representation of tips and tricks on what to do if you were ever in similar situations. Not once did I ever take it literally. In fact, I'd be nuts if I did. To me it's always been what it is - fun infotainment. Believe it or not, everything on TV has to be produced - from reality shows to the news to presidential debates. I mean if you look to TV or movies for reality, then you'd be in trouble. So c'mon people. Snap out of it.

What amazes me the most is how a lot of people still don't know where to draw the line between real life and TV and their expectations of each. That's just plain scary.

I know because Baltar told me so.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Formula for a Great Movie

There is none. Not even the media mecca of Hollywood knows what it is.

Studios didn't want to take a risk on first-time filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris when they pitched an idea for an indie movie called "Little Miss Sunshine". But whoever did now has two Oscars. This led to more studios investing in similar movies like "Juno".

Hollywood spends millions and millions every year to try and find it. And more often than not, they're unsuccessful. Here are a few examples:

You can have great directing like Darren Aronofsky in "The Fountain" and Danny Boyle in "The Beach" and not even make a blip on the radar.

You can have top A-List actors like Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep in "Lions for Lambs" and people still won't flood the box office.

You can have a huge budget topped with special effects like in "Lady In the Water" and it could disappear faster than it arrived.

You can have a great writer like Paul Haggis write "In the Valley of Elah" and still not get any play.

You can have a great editor like Jill Bilcock in "Romeo and Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge" and still get snubbed by the Academy.

You can have a great vision like in "The Libertine" and people still won't get it.

And you can have it all - like writer, director, producer, editor, musician Robert Rodriguez and still not be a top-tier name to the general public.

This is why so many movies feature the low common denominators of car chases, explosions, guns, good looking faces, sex and money - because they are basically the safest and financially proven movie ingredients that are needed for the masses to get up, go out and see a film.

As a filmmaker you have to realize that filmmaking is a risk. If it's really worth it, you just have to do your best, believe in yourself, your project and in the people you work with and take that leap of faith. When all is said and done, movie making is a HUGE risk. But it's a risk that might work just as much as it might not. You're really never going to know until you do it. So just take a deep breath, take the risk on yourself and go for broke - literally and figuratively. ;)

Friday, May 16, 2008

True or False. Which one are You?

People make films for different reasons. It's when you use this powerful medium for fake intentions do things and people get all messed up in the process. Such was the case with the Max Havoc debacle. So, I just wanted to share a quick observation about the sincere "True" filmmakers vs. the insincere "False" filmmakers that I've just recently thought about.

False Ones depend fully on other people's money. True Ones will put their money where their mouth is.
False Ones love the hype. True Ones let their work do all the talking.
False Ones cockblock. True Ones share.
False Ones only talk to people who matter. True Ones think everyone matters.
False Ones feel the need to "play the role". True Ones don't have to.

Thanks for the inspiration, Roger Corman!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5 Unfair Disadvantages for Movies vs. Books

Often times, when people watch movies that have been adapted from books (which are like, all of them) they often feel "robbed" of the original experience that they initially got from the reading the book. But is it a fair comparison? Here are five reasons why comparing books and movies are like comparing apples and oranges:

5. When reading the book, your imagination is the screen. Possibilities are limitless.

4. Books > 250 pages. Screenplays < 150 pages.

3. Authors don't have to worry about staying within budget.

2. Movies need to be seen in one sitting. Books are read leisurely.

1. Tom Hanks in The DaVinci Code. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

5 Reasons Why Moviemaking is Like Food

5. You can have all the expensive brand-name ingredients you think you need to make a great meal, but at the end of the day, what it all comes down to is taste.

4. Whether it's SPAM and rice or Crème brûlée of foie gras with Tonga beans - passion, effort, care, pride and quality will shine through any dish.

3. Just because you went to culinary school doesn't mean that you can out-cook the little old lady down the street.

2. No one likes eating the same stuff over and over and over again. Give them some new flavor.

1. The proof is in the pudding.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Diesel Film Racing - 24 Hour Filmmaking

Can you make a movie in 24 hours? Geoff Summers of has informed me that their nationwide competition and 2008 city tour is making its rounds. Contestants have just 24 hours to write, shoot, edit and score an original film no longer than 4 minutes (including credits) based on their theme and surprise element assignment.

Contestants have the chance to win up to $2,500 in cash and thousands more in HUGE prizes that include Avid Media Composer software, a scholarship to Writer's Bootcamp, Storyboard Quick v.5 and Gorilla 4 Standard Edition software. Plus you can vie for awards in categories such as
Direction, Acting, Writing, Cinematography, Editing, Original Music Score, Sound Design, Costume Design, Visual FX, Special FX and many more.

You'll also have the opportunity at national exposure with your flick playing on the big screens nationally and possibly in other countries.
It's a great avenue for budding filmmakers to test their creative and technical skills in just 24 hours.

Good luck to you all! And thanks for the heads, up Geoff! For more info, visit the Diesel Film Racing Tour at

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stay Green, Pony Boy

When people venture into new positions of decision-making without much experience, something strange happens. Because they are still green, they are unaware of the limits, impossibilities and rules that were previously set in place by others. They try to do things without knowing they can't be done. This is a good thing.

New blood brings new ideas which bring new effort towards progress.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Top 16 Underdog Movies

My earlier post featuring a clip from the movie "Breaking Away" reminded me of all my favorite underdog flicks. And after thinking about it, I thought I'd dedicate this post to the classics. I know - they're open for debate - and if you ask me at a different time, I'll probably have a different list, but here they are as of now:

16. Rudy
14. American Movie
13. October Sky
12. The Count of Monte Cristo
11. The Passion of the Christ*
10. School of Rock
09. The Karate Kid
08. North Shore
07. Seabiscuit
06. Jerry Maguire*
05. Breaking Away
04. La Bamba
03. Million Dollar Baby
02. It's a Wonderful Life*
01. Rocky

(*yes, it qualifies)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Recreation of D-Day

I can't tell you how excited I get every time I watch this. I found this cool video clip of three graphic designers and how they managed to recreate D-Day on a tiny budget for an episode of the BBC history show Timewatch.

You have to watch the whole thing from beginning to end to fully appreciate it. Just fantastic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

First Impressions

Do you remember the first impression you got from each of your closest friends? Do you know their first impression of you? What about from your boss? Or your coworkers? Or your spouse?

Most people won't be able to remember everything about another person, but first impressions stick with people - good or bad - for a long, long time. What first impression will you or your work make next?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Frakkin' Favreau! 4 Reasons to See Iron Man

Not being in tune with graphic novels or comics, I'm not usually one to race out and catch the latest comic book-based movie especially after The Hulk and Fantastic Four. BUT...this weekend I caught Iron Man on the big screen and I have to say...I was blown away! It was a great surprise throughout the whole flick (don't worry - no spoilers):

1. Great Pacing
From the moment the movie starts up to the very end...the ride was wild and well-timed. The action, comedic pace and over-the-top dramatics were well delivered by Robert Downey Jr. (freaked me out), Jeff Bridges and Gwenyth Paltrow and Terrence Howard.

2. Great Style
Throughout the drama and action, the movie was able to maintain a comic-book style and feel that was well played over-the-top which really complemented Downey Jr.'s amped-up antics.

3. Actors Reigning It In
You're talking about leading actors such as Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwenyth Paltrow in supporting roles - but they played it perfectly as each one of them was able to tone down their talents to not only fit their supporting roles, but to make the most of every bit of screen time with that talent - especially Jeff Bridges' subtlety in delivering a great, menacing performance. He really switched himself up for this one. And Robert Downey Jr.? Other Brat-Packers should take note...this is how you make a comeback!

4. The Directing
Believe it or not, it wasn't until the end credits that I discovered that Jon Favreau directed it! Huh? You mean Rudy, Made, Elf and Dinner for Five? That Jon Favreau?! Yep. I was probably the only one on the planet that didn't know that. But because of that, the movie actually won me over on its own merits. That was the best surprise of all, because not in a million years would I have guessed Jon Favreau to be able to orchestrate a well-paced, well directed big-budget action flick that is actually FUN! The studio stock in Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau the director is well on the rise. 2 thumbs up!

(Reason 5: there's a cool scene after the end credits!)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Public Access. Goth Style.

Wow. Do you know those moments in life where you find yourself reaching for the nearest pillow in a sad attempt to hide from something embarrassing? Well, grab a pillow. I kinda feel bad for the guy.

Note: My favorite parts are the cutaway to the giggly lady and the Goth rap. Just a wee bit more pre-production wouldn't hurt next time, guys. I do give an A for effort, though. At least you had the guts to do it ;)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Passion and Permission

The next 1st round draft pick.
The next American Idol.
The next winner of Project Runway.
and so on and so on.

These are the same people that in obscurity had no fan base, no big paycheck, but have always been doing what they've done. It's just that this time they have a bigger stage. So for the masses, it makes it okay to like them.

Usually, to be noteworthy in your field of passion, you'd have to wait until someone like a studio executive gave you permission. In my eyes, there are already tons of noteworthy artists out there - it's just that the mass audience is still waiting for someone to grant permission to like them. Or is it that the artists are still waiting for permission?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nothing to Lose

Since Naomi and I have been watching American Idol (yes, I'm guilty) we've noticed something interesting during the elimination rounds. The contestants that get the boot usually sing better during their goodbye performances than they do during their actual competition round.

My theory? They have nothing left to lose. After the ax falls, they just let it all out with the most honest emotions, raw pain and passion getting the best of them. No worries about getting the lyrics right, winning the votes or pleasing Simon - they just sing their hearts out.