Friday 31 January 2014

"Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer"

Okay, so it's been around for a while, but I couldn't resist running it straight after yesterdays' Sundance trailer.

How to make an Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer.

Thursday 30 January 2014

"Not Another Sundance Movie"

Here's the trailer for a non-existent movie. Not Another Sundance Movie sums up all the best film festival cliches in a quick three-minute trailer, saving you from having to slog through hours of indies.

Starring such indie favorites as “young ethnic girl that’s guaranteed to be nominated for an Oscar but not win” and a reinvented” Michael Cera, Not Another Sundance Movie will move you to tears with its gritty-yet-uplifting portrayal of poor folks, crying women, vintage pickup trucks, and clarinets. So many clarinets.

Written by Molly Fite, Susan Mandel, John Ott, Autumn Proemm & Chris Punsalan.
Directed by Chris Punsalan. Photographed by: Chris Punsalan & Stephen Mader.

Starring Molly Fite, Dan Banas, Todd McClintock, Samantha McLoughlin and Lucy McLoughlin.

(I thought the Clapping Orphans Choir of Detroit really made this trailer.)

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Allergy to Originality

In this animated Op-Doc by Drew Christie, two men discuss whether anything is truly original — especially in movies and books.

Written, directed and illustrated by Drew Christie; presented by The New York Times Op-Docs.

In creating this Op-Doc animation, I copied well-known images and photographs, retraced innumerable drawings, then photocopied them as a way to underscore the un-originality of the entire process.

My film is chock-full of unlabeled images that make cultural, artistic and literary references. Additionally, the two main characters are modeled to look like the Russian filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein. I hope this piece is at least unoriginal in an original way or perhaps even originally unoriginal.
  ~Drew Christie
An official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

An oral history of SWINGERS

The magazine Grantland currently features a compilation of interviews with the key players in the making of Swingers (1996). It's called So Money, An oral history of Swingers, by Alex French and Howie Kahn. If you have any interest in guerilla filmmaking, or stories about how a bunch of unknowns broke into the business, this is a great read. Here are a few extracts.

Doug Liman (director): My whole plan for making Swingers was extremely unrealistic, as was my idea that I was gonna make Bourne Identity. And somehow I found myself moving to France to make Bourne Identity. On my first night there — it was 1999 or 2000 — I was incredibly homesick. I was going to be living there for a year and I don’t know anybody. I’m feeling like I’m in over my head. I’m staying in a hotel. And I turn the TV on to Canal Plus, which is the movie channel there, and there’s a movie ending and I’m like, Huh, I wonder what’s gonna be on next? And suddenly the Miramax logo comes up and then our music comes on. It grounded me in a way that ultimately gave me the courage to make Bourne Identity the way I wanted to make it. My whole career is sort of predicated on Swingers. So, what are the odds that that would happen? It’s on TV that night, at that moment? Pretty slim. Anywhere in the world, pretty slim. But those were the odds we faced every day on Swingers. So that was its last gift to me.

I knew Jon had a script he’d written that he was trying to raise money for. I had made it my policy at the time to never read a friend’s screenplay in the interest of preserving that friendship, you know, because inevitably your friend’s screenplays were not good.
    My roommate, Nicole, had signed on to become Jon’s producer. It was literally all around me when Jon and I traveled to Sundance together. He was trying to raise money and I had my own thing. Neither one of us had read the other one’s project.
    Jon started asking me a bunch of questions, because I had been to film school and I had made a bunch of short films and this straight-to-home-video movie. I still didn’t have any real experience, but compared to somebody with none, I had answers. Finally, I was like “You know what? I should just read your screenplay. I can’t answer these questions without reading it, so how about I just read it?” So I read the script and loved it.
    I actually had 20 days of shooting budgeted. Four five-day weeks. But I scheduled the movie to shoot in 18 days with the thinking that I was going to be taking so many chances to get this movie done, I couldn’t really be sure any one thing we did would actually come off. I had a mind that we were going to shoot 12 pages a day. A studio film might shoot two pages in a day and an independent film might shoot four or five pages in a day and some TV show might get up to eight pages a day, but we were going to shoot 12-page days. It was an insane proposal.
   Saving on shooting time and movie lights is a big factor, but you still need locations. And Nicole used to cry in front of people, literally. No technique was beneath us to get people to give us things for free or cheap.
    We shot most of the movie with these 100-foot short ends. It’s a minute of film. Which also meant the actors could get through 60 seconds of a scene and I’d have to call reload.
    The problem with shooting on short ends, though, is that it takes four minutes to reload a conventional camera. I thought to myself: We’ll never get through the movie if we shoot a minute, spend four minutes reloading, shoot a minute, spend four minutes reloading. You’ll never get any kind of rhythm going. So I decided I would shoot the movie with this documentary 35-millimeter film camera that was not designed to shoot dialogue because it sounds like a sewing machine.
   To absorb the sound, I would take my down jacket and put it over the camera and then take the two arms and tie them together underneath the lens. And then my comforter would just get wrapped around the whole thing once. Jon would describe it like he was acting in front of a big, fluffy snowball. But I really think that as insane as that setup was, it created a really safe environment for the actors.
    A few hours into shooting in the apartment, the sound guy, Al, said, “Uh, we need to stop for a second, I have to go to the bathroom. You’ve been shooting for three hours straight and you haven’t stopped for more than five seconds.” Those were our only breaks from shooting — to let people go to the bathroom.
    Part of my thing was “Why pay to shut down a bar, which is incredibly expensive because they lose all that business, and then hire a bunch of extras to then repopulate the bar? Why not just shoot in a bar when it’s actually open to the public and therefore it comes with all the extras?” It’s a win-win for everybody.
    The downside is that the actors had to act under some pretty grueling conditions. The band comes on at 10, and we’re not done by 10, so suddenly we’re having to shoot the scene and we can’t even hear each other.
   We were shooting in a trendy bar and suddenly I ran into some classmates from film school and I could just see the way they were looking at me — with this big poufy thing on my shoulder and some actors and a scene lit with lamps from a discount home store — that they were thinking Doug’s lost it. Just that, like, this poor guy, maybe he showed some promise in film school, but he has clearly gone off the reservation. This is not how you make a movie on any level. There is no aspect of this that looks professional.
    We shot all the Vegas footage in one night. That’s 15 minutes of a 90-minute movie.
    After selling the film to Miramax for $5 million, we had this great premiere at the Vista Theater. It was one of the highlights of my life.
    But then the film opened a week later and nobody went to go see it. I went on opening night in New York up on Broadway and 84th Street on a Friday, and the film broke halfway through and they gave everybody their money back. And it was like that was it. I think it did $4 million in box office. It was done.

Jon Favreau (writer/actor): It felt miraculous every day that we actually did what we set out to do. But we knew it was our moment. Everything ultimately just worked out the right way. It was like this little, big bang that made all of our careers.

When I set out to write Swingers, I didn’t know I was even writing a movie. My dad had given me a screenwriting program and I started the script just as an exercise to see if I could write a screenplay. Swingers is what came out.
    I started writing, just drawing from the environment I was living in. I had characters loosely based on people I knew. None of the events were real; it was all a story that came out of my head without an outline.
    I had been broken up with by my old girlfriend from Chicago who I’d lived with, and I was taking it pretty hard and I was feeling pretty lonely. And then I was realizing that even though I had been in movies already, the work was not going to come easy — that frustration brought on the writing. I was taking things into my own hands.
    I wrote the screenplay in about a week and a half. The writing process wasn’t filled with any sort of turmoil. If you really do the math, it’s 10 days, 10 pages a day. It’s not like you’re chained to the computer. I was just entertaining myself and really enjoying it, sort of giggling at it as I was writing it.
    I sent the script to my agent. She sent it out and there were some nibbles. People were interested in optioning it, but they had a lot of notes. They wanted to change Vince’s character to a girl and have them not go to Vegas and said the dialogue was too repetitive, and it had to be darker and more violent. I was really trying to embrace the notes. I tried to change the script, but I just couldn’t.
    From that point on, we set out to try and really make the thing on our own with me attached as director.
    It was a fly-by-night operation. It didn’t look or seem real.

I taught Heather Graham to dance. I brought her out and I think we did it in her house, also. She lived in Beachwood Canyon. She had wooden floors. And I went over there and we practiced some moves. But I had learned how to dance at the Derby; they used to give lessons. And then I just would lead. You know, it’s easier if the guy knows what he’s doing.
    Everything was geared around being done in time to get into Sundance, and we raced and raced and raced to get a cut.
    We didn’t have any distribution. So we were just sitting on a $200,000 piece of film. There was no guarantee of getting the money back. There was no guarantee of it ever being seen.
    With the last little bit of money I rented a theater, the Fairfax $2 theater. I don’t know if it’s even still around anymore. We hadn’t shown the movie to any of our friends so that at the screening at a theater that held 500 people, we actually filled it with 490 friends. Nobody laughs at a movie harder than friends of the people who made it or the people in it. We set that whole thing up with 490 friends so that the ten people who actually matter would have a great experience.
    It wasn’t a hit by any stretch of the imagination. On both sides of us, we had Good Will Hunting and Sling Blade two other releases from Miramax that made a lot of money and we just didn’t, we didn’t hit the mark. It felt like a disappointment. And it wasn’t until years later that it built momentum on video, and became part of the culture and the language, that it became what it is now.

Vince Vaughn (actor): When I was in high school, I performed at some classes at the Improv Olympic. Jon and I had that in common, so we hit it off on the set of Rudy, just joking around with each other.
    It was a typical actor’s life: auditioning and hoping to get parts. I didn’t have an agent. I had gotten parts on and off after high school. I would work, but not steadily.
    I remember saying to Jon after auditioning for a lot of stuff that we weren’t seeing the best material. Even the movies that were getting made, I thought, were not dialed into the time period, not really capturing real life. I said to him, “Ya know, it would be great if you didn’t have to audition for this stuff,” and then Jon went and wrote Swingers.

    Jon was always very close with his grandmother, and she’s in the movie. She’s a schoolteacher from the Bronx, so kind and sweet, and she plays the woman at the casino table who gets some free breakfast. My father has always played blackjack, he plays a lot of cards. And so we both thought it would be fun to put them in a film.
    We thought, Oh gosh, we’ll go to Sundance. They love independent films. They’re supportive of people who are getting their stories made and Jesus, this thing is really that. But it wasn’t in their wheelhouse of what they deemed to be important or artistic. We didn’t get in.

Nicole LaLoggia (producer): I started taking meetings with Jon and Victor. Crazy meetings. They would come to the table and say, “We love it, we wanna make it, we wanna give you $8 million, but you’ve gotta cast Johnny Depp as Trent and we need Chris O’Donnell to be so and so. Jon and I would look at them cross-eyed and say, “No. Thank you very much, here’s your suitcase full of money back, we’re leaving.”
    I started running numbers to figure out how little could we do it for — what does it look like if his friends are in it? All those crazy scenarios.
     Doug came to the table and said, “Look, I love the script, I get what you wanna do, Jon. We can make it ourselves and sell it, and you’re gonna have to trust me, and we can do this together.” And they looked at me and said, “How low can you do this for?” And I went back to the drawing board for 12 hours and I came up with a budget of $279,000.
     At that time, Brothers McMullen had just happened, Sundance was all the rage. All these young actors were kind of clambering to get a part in all these independent films.
    We couldn’t afford office space, so the production headquarters was in our house.
    Instead of getting a traditional caterer, we made deals with restaurants in the neighborhood for next to nothing.
   The entire post-production — all the development, all the processing, all the coloring — was free. That would have been our budget alone. So if it weren’t for that, we couldn’t have done it. 

    The Reservoir Dogs rip-off shot — I actually went and shot that, just me and Doug — in the alley out of a flatbed truck behind a 7-Eleven. We did it in the middle of the night and just ran and hauled the boys out of bed at two in the morning and shot it three times and packed it up, and said, “Let’s go.” It was the only way to do it.
    Victor [Simpkins] and I flew to Las Vegas, met with some high roller there, begged him to let us shoot the Flamingo exterior, and then he also let us shoot the Glitter Gulch, downtown on Fremont Street. We took the entire crew — that was their treat. We handed out twenty-dollar bills to everybody and said, “Here’s what we’ve got, go gamble, go knock yourself out.”
   Jon wanted me to do the voice of Michelle. We sat in the room and recorded it on a digital audio-tape machine that we bought at Radio Shack and then returned the next day.
    There’s the first moment about six minutes in, the backpack line. I knew if anybody laughed, if you hear the audience laugh, you’re sailing from there out. People went nuts in the theater. I ran out of the theater because it was so overwhelming.
    I remember thinking, I have to sell this to somebody and then they’re gonna do what to it? I don’t wanna do it. I remember saying no to Miramax. Harvey Weinstein called me and said, “Do you understand what I’m offering you?” And I said, “I don’t really care. Blood, sweat, and tears are all over this film.” Harvey was like, “I don’t know what this is all about for you, but I’m not interested in digging into it again and opening it up and changing it.” And I remember him saying, “You are one lucky little girl,” and I remember saying, “And you’re one lucky old man.” We were just so attached to it and we had worked so hard on it that relinquishing it was scary. We got final cut because of that.

Ron Livingston (actor): Vince and I, and a couple of other people started doing staged readings for potential buyers of this script. They came in all shapes and sizes. Every three months or so, we’d get together in somebody’s living room and rehearse for a while and then go to some empty theater space and do it for some guy who had Saudi parking lot money.
    This was really right before the whole independent film wave in the late ’90s took off. So it was really only crazy people, oddballs, and weirdos that would even sit down and entertain the idea of buying this movie. Nobody really wanted it.
    Vince was the last person that got the OK to be in the movie. Even though so much of the heart and the soul of that movie is the back-and-forth between Jon and Vince, they were still holding out that they could get somebody that they could stick on a poster.

    (Favreau) grabbed “You’re so money” from the Spike Lee–Michael Jordan commercials, where Spike Lee called Michael Jordan “Money.” You know, “Like the shoes, Money.” Nobody was really doing that, I think, other than just Spike Lee and Michael Jordan. So when the movie came out, that was still kind of a new thing.

Avram Ludwig (associate producer): We spent more money on music in that movie than on the movie. We paid the most for the Dean Martin stuff. I think we paid half a million dollars in music licensing and the movie cost a quarter of a million dollars to make.

Read the entire article here.

Monday 27 January 2014

Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test.

Psychologist Kevin Dutton presents the classic psychological test known as "the trolley problem" with a variation. Take the test and measure your response on the psychopathic spectrum.

Dutton is a bit of a specialist in the psychopathology field. His work includes 11 Ways To Tell If Your Boss Is A Psychopath, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, and The Great British Psychopath Survey.

Sunday 26 January 2014


Time for a bit of culture, I think. How about Georges Bizet's 'Habanera' from Carmen?

Written, directed, and executive produced by Daniel Moshel. Musical arrangement mix and sound design by Bernhard Drax.
August Schram
Elfie Wunsch
Albert Mair
Jakob Krisper
Michael Kapfinger
Anna Froschauer
Toni Krisper
Florian Krisper
Manfred Stimez
Paul Bakowsky
Eduard Drazsdak
Markus Zant
Nikos Giannios
Albert Kessler
Kitty Lelkesova
Mary Scherzer
Lena Kraus
Conny Miehe
Naomi Cole
An official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Who was that masked man?

Saturday 25 January 2014

Interview with Jason McKinnon

This is post #800.
Jason McKinnon lives in Toronto. In his day job, he is a mild-mannered television editor. In his spare time, he is a writer, director and producer of short films, a family man, and a screenwriting blogger.
    His short film, 4 Stops, was one of the first I ever included on this blog. At the time, I was close to allowing Adelaide Screenwriter to fold. Jason's kindness and generosity made the difference. Thank you, Jason.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Sudbury, Ontario Canada. I grew up there until I moved away for school and then ultimately wound up in Toronto where I currently live.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

My family is incredible. They were beyond supportive of all my creative endeavors growing up. (No matter how annoying I was with my endless movie ideas and pitches.)

When did you first take an interest in filmmaking?

When I was little, I NEEDED to be creative in order to function as a normal human being. Most of the time, I gravitated to writing short stories and little treatments for stories I intended to write someday. I called them trailers. Today, those notebooks remain a guilty pleasure when I come across them. 
    I was going to be a pro basketball player and an accomplished novelist. However, my quest to write novels didn’t last long once I saw a screenplay for the first time. Everything changed after that. It's strange, I remember the sudden rush of inspiration I felt clearly yet I cannot remember WHAT the screenplay was. I suppose it doesn't matter. Discovering screenwriting gave me the creative outlet I was searching for. As for my basketball dreams… I’m only 30. There’s still time.
    My passion for screenwriting and film blossomed when my friends and I began creating short films in high school. We produced films for virtually every school project we could. We even created sequels in completely different and unrelated classes.

Where did you go to school?

I studied English & Film in Sudbury and eventually transferred to a Television program in a nearby city called North Bay. I looked at screenwriting first and foremost as a form of stress relief. I wanted a career separate from writing. The reason for my transfer was simple: I wanted to work in Television/Film more than I wanted to be an English teacher. It was the best decision I ever made. (Aside from marrying my wife of course.)

Who is the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?

This person isn't a teacher but he had more of an impact on me than any teacher I've ever had. When I was studying English, I was working part time for my Member of Parliament. The MP's right hand man sat me down one day and asked me how school was going. I gave him the typical answers but he had an agenda that day. He could tell I wasn't happy studying English and continued to question my motivation. He asked me WHY I wanted to be an English teacher. I did not have an answer. The truth is I didn't want to be an English teacher. I knew it all along but changing schools after investing two years is a big risk. I thought about it for a few weeks before I made my decision. Six months later, I moved away from and became a television student. That risk ultimately led to my dream job in broadcasting.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

Speaking of dream jobs! My first paying job was at Pizza Hut. That statement may appear to have sarcastic undertones but I truly enjoyed my time there. I worked with a lot of my close friends and we had a blast. What better way to earn money in high school!?

What was your first paying job in the film/TV business?

I was fortunate enough to be hired right out of college at one of the largest sports networks in Canada. I'm an editor responsible for highlights, reports, features & more covering every major sport on the planet including The Olympics, NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, UFC, Soccer and more. I've always been obsessed with sports and being able to work with such amazing footage (and people!) on a daily basis is a dream come true. I couldn't have asked for a better career. After eight years, I still look forward to work every day. As the old saying goes; 'Find a job you love, never work a day in your life.'

You became known to most of us as the guy who published The Athletic Nerd, starting in 2009. Now TAN is another in a long line of defunct screenwriting blogs. Do you have any regrets? Can you share any lessons learned from those four years?

Landing a job in television never stopped me from pursuing my passion for screenwriting and film. When I moved to Toronto, my friend Eric and I began producing short films. The Athletic Nerd began as a way to update people on the films we created. Essentially, it was a second full time job but we had so much fun.
    Eventually, we decided to take a break and The Athletic Nerd became more of a personal blog with movie reviews, top 10 lists and features. In time, I began blogging about screenwriting as well. After 4 years and well over 1,000 posts, I realized TAN had changed so much that its original purpose had gotten lost. We no longer produced short films and I didn't have enough time to write screenplays because of my daily obligations on TAN.
    I decided to shut it down in 2013 in order to reorganize my creative life. I'll never be able to fully explain how much The Athletic Nerd meant to me. Thanks to that site, I taught myself web development and design, through trial and error. I learned how to use Photoshop and created all the graphics and animations on my own. Most importantly, I learned how to brand and market a blog and worked tirelessly to attract as much traffic as I could. The blog wound up with over a million page hits before I shut it down.
    Essentially, I wanted more time for screenwriting and more time for my family and friends. I also wanted to take what I had learned and apply it to a new website. A website devoted to my number one passion in life: Screenwriting.

The Athletic Nerd has been superceded by Screenwriting Spark, which is (if I understand correctly) more of a depository of screenwriting articles than a site of personal reflection. Tell us a little about your plans for the Screenwriting Spark.

When I shut down The Athletic Nerd, I didn't want to leave the web behind completely. I love everything about blogging and the work it takes to stand out online. At the same time, I knew creating another daily blog would keep me from screenwriting. The Screenwriting Spark began as a hobby. It was a website I would work on between screenwriting sessions. For the first time, I planned ahead and came up with a clear vision for what I wanted the site to be. It took months to finish the design and enough content to take the site live in May 2013.
    In the meantime, I finished my first feature length screenplay in years and felt rejuvenated. I spent so much time writing short films and blogs, I had forgotten how satisfying it was to finish a full length screenplay. I was hooked all over again.
    When I hit road blocks, I found inspiration visiting online screenwriting blogs. I bookmarked hundreds of helpful resources along the way. (Sparks.) There are so many talented screenwriters sharing their experiences out there. That's where #inspiretheaspiring came from. I'm not an expert but I do love every aspect of screenwriting. The Screenwriting Spark is built on the idea that screenwriters inspire screenwriters. It's my hope that collecting these resources in one place will inspire others as they have inspired me. Since launch, I've created numerous guides and link collections but this year, I plan to reintroduce my own personal reflections as I continue to learn about the craft. I'd like site to be a destination for screenwriters at all levels to find whatever 'spark' they need to write something incredible.

I first became aware of your work through the short film, 4 Stops, which you wrote and Eric Gamache directed back in 2008. You continued writing and making short films until 2011. What are your plans in this area. Are there any more short films to come?

When I first moved to Toronto, I was a full time editor, a producer, a screenwriter, a director, a web designer and I edited our shorts. Obviously, I'm still a happy full-time editor in television, but beyond that, I'm just a screenwriter now. Anything web-related is focused on screenwriting as well, so when I’m not at work, I’m surrounded by all things screenwriting.
     Writing, producing and directing short films taught me a lot about screenwriting. I also learned that I'm better off writing screenplays. It was fun while it lasted and I wouldn't trade that time for anything but I've simplified my life and it's nice to have more free time. My old business partner still works in film & television and we talk about new projects here and there but nothing is planned.

If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book to a newbie screenwriter in Adelaide, which one would it be?

If I had to suggest one it would be How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn. It covers so many errors beginners make. For years I read that book every time I finished a first draft. It's the perfect rewrite companion.

What are your ten favourite (favourite, not ‘best’) movies of all time?

Great question! I used to have a blog to publish these types of lists! I haven't had a chance to update my top 10 in years! Here goes:
     I may or may not lose some credibility with my first pick but I must be honest. My favourite movie of all time is Signs. Yes. The one directed by M. Night Shyamalan. That movie was released when I really got into screenwriting. Call it good timing, but the film Signs just worked for me. I haven't enjoyed a Shyamalan movie since, but Signs remains my favourite.

1. Signs (2002)
2. A Few Good Men (1992)
3. Good Will Hunting (1997)
4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
5. The Matrix (1999)
6. The Dark Knight (2008)
7. Gladiator (2000)
8. Inception (2010)
9. The Lord of the Rings (2001)
10. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

What’s next for Jason McKinnon?

Over the last few years, I've thought a lot about the types of screenplays I want to write. I'm currently writing a screenplay I feel is the answer to that question. My wife and I are expecting our first child this spring and it's my hope to finish the first draft before I become a father! After that, all bets are off! I'm hoping to complete a second screenplay in 2014 or at least develop one between diaper changes.
     As for The Spark, I developed it with a specific (and manageable) work load in mind. Things will get busy but I have big plans for the site in 2014!


And here it is, 4 Stops, my favourite McKinnon/Gamache short film.

Friday 24 January 2014

Honest movie posters - 2013

The College Humor newsletter has a number of posts providing honest versions of some of the posters currently out there.

Thursday 23 January 2014

'Play the Devil' now available on KINDLE

My novel, 'Play the Devil,' is now available for immediate download on Kindle.
Wilfred Lever, son of ambitious missionaries, is wrenched from his life in an Indian village by a prophecy: he shall be Elijah in his own country. Sent to Adelaide to stay with an embittered and perverted aunt, he is well into adolescence when his family joins him there. In the first manifestation of a burgeoning power complex, he forces himself upon his half-sister Mary, now a deeply desirable young woman.

What follows is the beginning of a lifetime of burying secrets beneath the surface of church life. The prophecy seals Wilfred’s moral doom as he is given carte blanche to a lifetime of abuses within the auspices of the church. The institutional nature of his life protects him from retribution. A character with no moral compass, he feels himself to be untouchable. He gets away with cheating at Bible College, an affair with his secretary, deeply suspect financial dealings, and eventually an act more disturbing than all of these combined. His wife Lorna, the guiding hand behind the scenes, tolerates Wilfred’s corruption and hypocrisy, always with one eye to her social position. The church leadership is willing to prop him up too; church members have any number of skeletons in the closet that can be used to manipulate and silence them when necessary.

Everyone, it seems, is onto a good thing, and they all know how to cover their backs. But when Wilfred rapes Mary’s daughter, it seems his number is up. Despite his best efforts to hush things up, rumours are circulating about the girl’s convenient suicide and his involvement in a financial scandal. Mary plans to kill him. The board forces Wilfred’s resignation, but at his lowest point, it seems the prophecy really is true. The church is priming him for politics: all his travails have led him to this moment, where at last he is on the brink of true power.
Find it here:


Here is a Sci-fi/Political thriller called Lunar, which is set in Los Angeles, 2057. 
An outlaw is captured and sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment on the LUNAR penitentiaries. To reunite with his family, he must become the first convict to escape the corrupt system and return to Earth.
Lunar was written and directed by Tyson Wade Johnston, an Australian resident in L.A., who has this to say about the making of it:
LUNAR was inspired by the European/Australian Convict Settlement of the 18th Century. I wanted to re-tell that history in our contemporary society, while also having heavy social commentary that our generation could relate to (government surveillance, privacy invasion, police brutality, overpopulation, overburdened prisons, corrupt government, etc).
    We scouted Downtown Los Angeles inside and out to find the grittiest, grungiest locations in the city. We had no budget for this part of the shoot, so we had to plan around what we could get away with shooting guerilla. When we shot the film exteriors, the crew was just the three of us. Shooting everything guerrilla, we never remained at a single location for longer than 15 minutes.
    The soundstage is where all of our shooting budget went.

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Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Birth of Cinema and Continuity Editing

Cinema began as a novelty - projecting dancing shadows on a screen of simple every day scenes. But through the contributions of talented artists, a new cinematic language of editing emerged.

John Hess traces the development of editing from the Lumiere Brothers through Georges Méliès, Edwin S. Porter, and D.W Griffith.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

"Unspoken Heart"

Although Thailand has its own flourishing film industry, we don't see many of their films in Australia. Here is a short from Thailand called "Unspoken Heart," which is also the title of the song that plays through much of it.

MonoGlobalTV have made it available on YouTube.

Monday 20 January 2014

"The Exam"

The Exam was developed from a joke by Ridge Films, who shot it over two days.
A night out of town on the drink wasn't such a good idea before a final exam.
It was written, directed and produced by Chris Schwager.

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Sunday 19 January 2014

Sundance by the Numbers

Just in time for Sundance ’14 (which runs from 16-26 January), Cultural Weekly and Entertainment Media Partners have released an in-depth infographic compiling key data from the last five years, including 2014. Their findings are a mixed bag of encouraging stats and disheartening truths.

The study collected data from top indie film producers, sales agents and indie financiers and found several interesting stats.

  • With an annual production budget of over $3 billion, the study found that independent film spending “rivals” that of major studios.
  • The average budget for an independent film was found to be $750,000 per movie, a number that was rounded down to be conservative.
  • More than half of the films screened at Sundance received distribution deals — though figures also show that investors usually don’t make much (or anything) on their investments, less than 2% to be exact.
Here's the infographic for your further analysis.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Amazon Prime Air

Is this for real? are promising to deliver products by drone in the near future and have supplied this video as evidence of their capacity to do so. They say it is all real. They expect to have it happening by 2015, or as soon as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) works out the rules and...
... an approach for unmanned aerial vehicles that will prioritize public safety. Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards.

Personally, I want to see them delivering to anywhere in Manhattan. Or Tokyo. Or the Sydney CBD. Or even Hindley Street, Adelaide.

Friday 17 January 2014

"Devil Baby Attack"

This is a brilliant promotion for an upcoming film, Devils Due (2014).

An animatronic "devil baby" in a remote controlled stroller goes on a rampage through the streets of New York City and hidden cameras record people's reactions.

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Screenplays nominated for Academy Awards

The full list of nominees for Academy Awards are now up on the Oscar website.

Here are the ones that most interest me, linked to the actual screenplay (when available):

Writing Adapted Screenplay:

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight;
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips;
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena;
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave;
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Writing Original Screenplay:

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle;
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine;
Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club;
Spike Jonze, Her;
Bob Nelson, Nebraska.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Disney: Copy Paste

I know this has been around for years, but it doesn't get old.

Why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to, right?

Wednesday 15 January 2014

"The Harvest"

This short film was an entry by Thomas Phillips in an international competition at for ‘Best Video of the Harvest 2013′. It finished up as #6 in the world.

The video provides a view of the 2013 grape harvest in McLaren Vale, at Oliver's Taranga Vineyards. It takes us through the entire process during harvest, from picking, to the crush, to fermentation, and then finally to barreling. McLaren Vale is situated south of Adelaide. It usually features prominently in the telecast of the Tour Down Under (which is about cycling, for the uninitiated).

Thomas Phillips is a young filmmaker who has been shooting and making films since he got hold of Dad’s camcorder at the age of twelve.

The music was provided by the trio Spine.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Australian accents explained

This will help some people and confuse others. It's all about achieving balance in your work...

Simon Taylor is a Melbourne and L.A.-based comedian who currently writes for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Simon has toured the world with his stand-up, in places as diverse as New York to Albuquerque in the US, and Singapore to Phnom Penh in South Asia. Time Out describes him as “a shooting star of the comedy scene”, The Age depicts his comedy as “intelligent stuff from a rising talent” and he is a recipient of The Butterfly Club’s prestigious Under Our Wing Award.

If that didn't interest you, here's a Ted Talk with Simon Taylor that might.
What's real? What's not? Why are humans so susceptible to misdirection? What drives us to know what's "inside the frog"? Simon Taylor lets us in on a few of the reasons we believe what we do and might just reveal the secrets of the illusionist's craft in this fascinating and funny talk.
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Monday 13 January 2014

Screenwriting advice - Sheldon Turner

Sheldon Turner is the prototype for the smart, brash, ambitious young screenwriter - only he's also got a law degree from NYU and has had his fiction published in The New Yorker

Turner broke through with his script for the remake of The Longest Yard, starring Chris Rock and Adam Sandler. He has since worked on Up In the Air and X-Men: First Class, among others. 

Sheldon has insane discipline, writes longhand, and boycotts email. He figured out how to work the system, and he's got more witty axioms for how to play the Hollywood game than a Tropicana craps dealer at 3:00am. But you'll just have to hear Turner talk to get it.

Sunday 12 January 2014

How a Set of Guitar Strings Changed Rock 'n' Roll

Guitar Moves host and general six-string strummer Matt Sweeney talks with Jim D'Addario, CEO of D'Addario Strings and descendent from a lineage of Italian string makers dating back to at least the 1600s. We learn how electric guitar strings are made and about the pivotal role D'Addario strings have played in that iconic 60's rock sound, the British Invasion, and the rise of guitar in post-war America, the UK, and the world.

Featuring music by The Who and Team Spirit.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Akira Kurosawa: On filmmaking

Akira Kurosawa's career spanned nearly 60 years. He’s best known for his samurai epics, such as RashomonSeven Samurai, (which inspired The Magnificent Seven and Last Man Standing), Hidden Fortress (which inspired Star Wars), Yojimbo (which inspired A Fist Full of Dollars, among others), SanjuroKagemusha, and Ran (which reworks King Lear).

The following video is organised into 10 chapters. This list shows the subjects Kurosawa discusses and the time each section commences.

Chapter 1: Background   (0:00)
Chapter 2: Screenplays   (13:50)
Chapter 3: Storyboards   (19:19)
Chapter 4: Filming   (24:32)
Chapter 5: Lighting   (31:16)
Chapter 6: Art Direction  (37:21)
Chapter 7: Costumes   (43:17)
Chapter 8: Editing   (47:30)
Chapter 9: Music   (54:57)
Chapter 10: Directing   (63:09)