Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't Follow Your Dreams

My son said to me once, "Dad, do you follow your dreams?", to which I replied, "Of course I do." He then said, "Well you should chase them because if you just follow them, you'll never catch them."

What Would YOU Chase?
If you could do anything you wanted with your time, what would it be? What one thing are you so passionate about that it would keep you active, goal-oriented, happy and who knows - maybe even let you quit your job? I know - you're saying that it wouldn't be possible because of the money, bills and maybe kids that you're currently working for. But here's a crazy thought: what if you tried and were successful? What do you do best and enjoy most? You have only one life. Excuses, doubt and fear will always be part of it. It's up to you to let them get in the way.

Don't follow your dreams. Chase them.
Thanks little acid feet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Falling Slowly

The Oscars seemed to have gone in the direction as expected. Daniel Day-Lewis walked away with Best Lead Actor, Marion Cotillard for Best Lead Actress, the Coen Brothers with best adapted screenplay and directing, No Country took best picture and so on. The only surprise was an unknown independent "little movie that could" which walked away with Best Song.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
The song "Falling Slowly" from the indie movie "Once" sincerely tapped into the emotions of people worldwide with the performance of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. "Falling Slowly" was up against not one, not two, but three songs from the movie "Enchanted" and another from "August Rush".

Favorite Oscar Moment

When announced as winners, Hansard and Irglova, who also starred in the film, went up to the stage to accept their awards. Unfortunately, due to time contstraints, only Hansard was able to give his acceptance speech and the orchestra played them out. However, after the commercial break, Jon Stewart pulled Irglova back out onstage so she could give her thank you speech and enjoy their moment to the fullest. I think it's safe to say that not every host would've done that. It was a good thing, because I'm pretty sure that her speech resonated through dreamers and struggling artists everywhere. I know it did with me. Class act by Stewart and great song by Hansard and Irglova.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Oscar Pick for Leading Actor

This year is a rich one for the Lead Actor category for the Academy Awards. I've seen just three of the five movies that are nominated for the Actor in a Leading Role category.

There Will Be Blood: Daniel Day-Lewis
Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street : Johnny Depp
Eastern Promises : Viggo Mortensen
Michael Clayton : George Clooney
In the Valley of Elah : Tommy Lee Jones

Now, because I haven't seen "...Elah" or "Clayton" it may not be a fair assessment to make a prediction just yet. However, after finally watching the UNBELIEVABLE performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood", I think it's safe to say that Day-Lewis will walk away with the award. No doubt, hands down. And if not, then the members of the Academy need some serious retooling.

The Movie

Although the movie clocked in at over two and a half hours, the pacing was excellent through the direction of Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia). And although his style was made clear, he wasn't afraid to shine the emphasis on the actors' abilities to push the direction of the movie even further.

The Actors

Nuts. Just Nuts! The energy in this movie is like none that I've ever seen before - and I did see the Coen's "No Country for Old Men" which was a masterpiece in itself, but for reasons largely due to the Coen's direction. "Blood", however knocked my socks off with a performance from Day-Lewis that I didn't know could exist in today's cinema.

Starring opposite Day-Lewis is Paul Dano who scored huge points especially after his work in one of my all-time favorite movies, "The King". He gives Day-Lewis the perfect complement to bounce off such intense interaction scene after scene.

Academy Hating on The Score

From the opening to closing credits and everywhere in between, the haunting orchestral score by Radiohead's guitarist Jonny Greenwood not only added its own horrific character to the movie, but knew how to make everyone squirm in their seats at any given moment. It was the score that played a crucial part in making me want to go and see this movie. It's that powerful.

It beats the heck out of me as to how this score was "overlooked" (ahem...snubbed...huh?...what?) among the five nominees for Best Original Score. The members of the Academy must be hating on Radiohead for turning the entertainment industry on its ear by setting examples to all artists with their new distribution method. And now probably setting an example of their own, perhaps?

From the opening titles to the last scene, the score, the acting and the direction has made this movie an instant classic for moviegoers everywhere (especially with the last "Milkshake" scene). "There Will Be Blood" will strike the form of a statue, come February 24th.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Writers - Now What?

With the writer's strike over and a three year deal in place, the next obvious question is...what now? Well, first and foremost all the red carpet hounds can sigh in relief knowing that the Oscars will carry on in traditional fashion and everyone can get their glamour and glitz fix - for the moment anyway. But what about afterwards? What about the long haul? Which direction does this take the creative content that everyone has been making a big fuss about during the last 100 days?

New Media
With the strike emphasizing the importance of creative content in the realm of new media in the eyes of both the studios and the creators, it's no secret that we'll be seeing a flurry of new and innovative ways to distribute the content. The studios have the green light and the writers have consented and now we just wait and see.

Adios HD-DVD
With a self-proclaimed victory over the HD-DVD format, Blu-Ray looks to be taking itself a step further with the major studios as well, contributing the leap towards media-rich developments in the way creative content is distributed. There's one avenue.

With the AppleTV 2 release mentioned in the key note speech from Steve Jobs, iTunes will now rent movies as well as sell movies for purchase over the internet complete with previews, trailers and everything else that includes creative content regarding movies. With TV shows already on iTunes and the success of Apple TV now with the ability to stream in full HD, this takes viewing your favorite TV show or movie huge leaps forward into the distribution of creative content. Moreso than the regular YouTubers and average network online sites that stream their own tv shows.

So, buckle in everyone. The distribution of creative content is now a consented cash cow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Black Mask Project

Familiar with the new movie "Vantage Point"? If you think the concept for the movie is a little too far fetched, I suggest checking out - their marketing is outstanding.
NOTE: Pay close attention to the clip below at 1:39.

WARNING: here's the spoiler link, but consider yourself warned as you'll see the man behind the curtain.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

King of California

Starring Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood, Directed by: Mike Cahill

Here's another from 34,000 feet in a series of in-flight movies. Coincidentally, before I left for my trip, I was about to put this movie on the Netflix queue.

Set in Santa Clarita, California (shout out to the Old Road!), this strange tale of a father recently released from a mental institution tries to convince his daughter to help him search for lost Spanish treasure buried underneath their local Costco. Wow. There's another one.

The Best Part.
They captured the desperation and soullessness of the valley perfectly and to a tee. From the newly developed cookie-cutter track homes to the clusters of fast=food restaurants and the sleepy, dry dustbowl "in the middle of nowhere" vibe. Very monotonous, tedious and well, nowhere. The setting helped personify the storyline and added another character to the film as well.

The Worst Part
The layers of this movie that I think were intended weren't fully there. It seemed as if there was a forced/calculated effort to follow the current trend of producing a story-driven low budget indie, except this one had a huge hollywood star attached to it. Not a good sign for an indie flick. I've dug Michael Douglas' stuff since "The Streets of San Francisco", so let me be the first to say that he does better on the big screen with big actors and big directors. Otherwise, his strengths won't be best utilized without a strong supporting cast.

Cases in point - "Wall Street", "Traffic", "The Sentinel". He was great in all three, but not every A-lister can pull off a low budget indie. Nor should every A-lister try. The chemistry has to be right in order for it to work, otherwise it seems like the star is just trying to go slummin' to see how the other half lives.

The casting of Michael Douglas just didn't seem to fit the role. He's a great actor, just not in this role (you Tom Hanks in Da Vinci Code). The suspension of disbelief for any movie is key and I just couldn't buy it. Evan Rachel Wood did a great job with the flick and I think it was she that brought the weight of credibility and believability to the table for this one.

So, the concept and potential was there, but the execution wasn't.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Martian Child

Starring: John Cusack, Joan Cusack (of course), Amanda Peet and Bobby Coleman, Directed by Menno MeyJes

As a frequent flyer, I always look forward to movietime on the airplane. It's fun.'s always more fun when they show films that sneak in under the theatrical radar that turn out to be pleasant surprises. But this one wasn't your usual cookie cutter storyline. Nope. In this drama, the quirky premise showcases John Cusack as David, a widower who decides to pick up the pieces of his life by moving on and adopting an abandoned child that believes he is from Mars. Try pitching that to a studio.

With as strange a storyline as this is, it wouldn't have worked if it weren't for the pure talent of Bobby Coleman who plays Dennis, the little foster child. This kid had displayed so many layers to his on-camera acting skills that it was simply effortless to believe. And at the end, isn't that what we all want in our 90 minute escapes? To believe?

There's really not much to talk about in technical terms regarding the movie. You can easily tell why this movie has gotten lost on the mainstream radar. From the cinematography to the editing, sound, etc. it all seems pretty average - that is to say that nothing jumps out more than the other. All of the production elements are on an even keel and were very subdued. Maybe it was intentional, but given the star power in the film, I was hoping for more production value.

The depth of this movie comes strictly from its storyline and acting. "But it's a John Cusack movie! It has to be decent at the least!" Well, if "Being John Malkovich" was a 10 and "Serendipity" was a 7, then this would be a 5. It's good, but it drags a bit here and there. A lot could've been edited from the final cut, which I believe would've helped to juice more emotion from certain scenes.

Best Part
The best part of the movie, aside from Coleman's role, was the perfect use of the song "Mr. Blue Sky" from ELO. It actually made me max out the mono volume in my headset. That was probably the closest it got to a Cameron Crowe moment.

Martian Child is a pleasant surprise with a new angle. The talents of Amanda Peet and John Cusack weren't used, but little Bobby Coleman saves the movie.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Guam Travel: Standby Style

The circumference of the earth is approximately 24,900 miles. That's about 2 roundtrips from Guam to LA. That means that I have traveled the equal distance around the earth in the last three months. On standby.

Here I am back on another layover at the Honolulu Intl. Airport. Sure, it's fun for the first two or three times, but after you get too familiar with the drill, it becomes a chore to travel so many times for so many miles. But because of this, I can tell you where to find the best corner to sleep in. Or the best bathroom large enough to change your clothes, brush your teeth and wash up without any interruptions. Or the best place to charge your phone and laptop while enjoying a tropical panoramic, open-air view of the relaxing outdoor gardens.

I'll be sure to give this info out as soon as I can access my photos. But for now, as I sit at Gate 14 awaiting the boarding calls, I need to figure out just how to plan for yet another leg from Hawaii to Guam. Shoot!

Photo by Jim Frazier

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The AMPTP CEO Salary

Curious to know just how much money AMPTP CEO's make on the average? Just click on the link below.

AMPTP Salaries

Sources are The Huffington Post for 2007 CEO salaries, and HR Reported data as of January, 2008 for Los Angeles, CA as found on Design by PaperCut.

Writer's Strike - Not Over Yet

After four months of the WGA on active strike, headlines state that it's all nearing an end. Not exactly. Not yet anyway, according to the United Hollywood site. The amount of work needed to be done as far as agreement terms are concerned are far from over.

Consider the amount of power currently held by the WGA:

1. According to, advertiser's spent $9.3 billion in last year's network TV. That's $9.3 BILLION. If the networks can't deliver the amount of guaranteed viewership due to the strike, the networks need to either give the advertiser's their money back or giveaway free makeup spots to compensate the loss in revenue.

2. Award ceremonies. The writer's strike hold all the cards to keep the Oscars alive this year. Many have seen the impact of what can happen with the past Golden Globes. Many dollars are invested in the ceremonies - especially the Oscars. The Golden Globes cost Los Angeles alone over $80 MILLION in revenue loss.

3. Paradigm shift. Again, the longer the holdout, the easier it is for regular folks to find out how much they love online viewing and independent productions. From news, movies that find distribution, webisodes and more digital content from social media, the viewership online is one that hasn't found its true potential yet.

So I'm pretty sure that the WGA knows the strength it has in its people and in its fight. I think it's safe to say that unless they feel absolutely confident in an agreement to terms with the studios, that they'll continue to fight for the long haul. Read up on some of the agreement details at Variety

Monday, February 4, 2008

10MPH Documentary

From Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell comes a very interesting premise for a documentary - riding a personal transport vehicle across the country. A Segway to be exact. They call their filmmaking debut 10mph which is the speed that they travel from Seattle to Boston as they embark on a cross-country journey while riding a Segway that not only takes them, but also takes us through the country's heartland, colorful citites, different terrain and most importantly different walks of life.

You can download the movie for free here.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Big Game vs. Shiro's Head

Staying with the one year production birthday theme, I found this pic from our production photos. This is how I spent last year's Super Bowl. Good ol' Durwin let us borrow the 13" that you see in the background. We used it for our monitor while capturing footage. But this particular day, even though I was invited to some SB parties, I stayed in and used it to watch the game as I took care of business with Shiro's Head pre-production notes. And yes, I used a plastic chair for my desk...which Don borrowed from Nick.