Posts Tagged ‘Avatar’

“Filmed” with Whatever

March 31, 2011

Do wonders never cease? Not only can the iPhone™ let you surf the web, take photos and has loads of cool apps that lets you do anything from find the nearest coffeeshop to listen to your favorite radio station, you can also make a movie with it.

I’m not talking about something high school kids make in a few minutes and upload to YouTube to so that others can laugh at their sophomoric hijinx (i.e. burp and fart jokes). What I am talking about is South Korean director, Park Chan-wook who was given $130,000 by a South Korean cell phone company to make a movie with an iPhone™. While this has the feel of a promotional venture, Park isn’t the first director to use tools that weren’t exactly high end in order to make a movie.

Christopher Nolan, of Batman and Inception fame, made his first film, Following with limited equipment and a ‘crew’ of people who had day jobs. While it didn’t become a blockbuster, it is respected among the cult film aficionados. Independent director Lena Dunham shot Tiny Furniture on a Canon EOS 7D, a still camera that sells for $1500 and she got a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Award.  Robert Rodriguez’s budget for El Mariachi was only $7,000 and the movie was financially and critically successful.

So, will the next Scorsese, Lucas or Cameron use off-the-shelf equipment and work with a budget of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of he or she is lucky enough to get that much money. Most likely yes. Still, it is important to remember that in the end it isn’t so much the equipment that makes a good movie, rather it is good storytelling. After all films like Star Wars, Love Story, Avatar, Gone With The Wind, and When Harry Met Sally captured the popular imagination the way that they did because films had a good story to tell and each of them told it well. Pyrotechnics, animation and 3D will have the audience saying “Wow”, but without a good story, it is just an exercise in visuals.

So, who knows what the tech heads will dream up. It could be something that you hold in the palm of your hand, use to order pizza on a Friday night and inspire a future Oscar winning director. Something to think about the next time you make a phone call on your smart phone or happen upon a bunch of teenagers filming fart jokes on an iPhone™.

Sources:
http://www.ebertpresents.com/episodes/episode-108/videos/88

http://blog.koldcast.tv/2010/koldcast-news/the-15-cheapest-movies-that-went-on-to-become-cult-classics/

Advertisements

Never Too Early To Promote A Movie Or Is It?

August 4, 2010

The character posters for upcoming Green Lantern movie were released recently at the San Diego Comic Con. You can see the images here: http://screenrant.com/green-lantern-character-posters-sandy-70401/

The movie is scheduled for release on June 17, 2011. Yes, that is almost a year from now.  That leads to this question: Why promote a film so early? One reason is the cost associated with making a movie. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the average cost of making a movie in 2006 was $65.8 million. That figure takes into account movies ranging from blockbusters to little independent films. As for the blockbusters, the cost for Avatar has been reported to be anywhere from $230 million to $500 million, Iron Man 2 costs about $170 million and those are just two recent films.  Since the studios are spending this much money on a film, they obviously want a return on their investment.

Another reason, is that there is so much in the way of entertainment choices, namely cable, DVD’s and the Internet, that the powers that be at movie studios want their film to be top of mind when it comes to answering the question “What do you want to do tonight?” After all, one would hope that the more someone is reminded that a particular movie is coming out, the more likely he or she will go out to see it.

The trouble with promoting a film so early is people will ignore the hype and move on to something else. Some film franchises, like Star Wars, and Star Trek have huge fan bases, so just the mere mention of one of these films being in a pre-production phase will get the blogosphere and fanboys buzzing. Of course, not every film has such a fan base to draw on. When I first learned that a Green Lantern movie was going to be made, I had to look up who the Green Lantern is.[1] Since not all moviegoers write a blog, I wouldn’t be surprised if others didn’t bother to do research on the character.

Will this advanced publicity help or hurt the Green Lantern?  That question will be answered in the summer of 2011. Of course, if it were up to me, I would start promoting a film six months before it is to be released.  I feel that six months is just enough time to build up demand without people tuning out the publicity.  Then again, I don’t run a studio, so my ideas don’t count.


[1] The Green Lantern is a superhero in the DC Comics universe.  The origin story of the Green Lantern goes like this:  A construction engineer, named Alan Scott, was the only survivor of a train accident. The reason he survived was because he was holding a magical lantern. He makes a ring out of part of the lantern and uses the power of the lantern to fight crime.

Sources:

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/

http://screenrant.com/green-lantern-character-posters-sandy-70401/

http://www.cinematical.com/2007/03/08/mpaa-in-2006-an-average-movie-cost-65-8m-to-produce/

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2009/12/how-much-did-avatar-really-cost.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/movies/10box.html

451 “All American Comics” #16, The Green Lantern Origin and First Appearance, Very Rare 1940. Mastronet Americana Catalog, October 2001, pg. 153

My Favorite Films & Why

May 14, 2010

It was going to happen eventually, my writing about my favorite movies. So, let’s get started.

Star Wars Episode I-VI
When I saw the first movie in the series, now known as Episode IV, with my brother in 1978 , I had no idea what kind of movie I was going to see. Once the movie was finished, I was hooked.  Like many kids growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s whenever Episodes IV-VI were re-released, I was at the movie theater.  (Remember, this was before the proliferation of VCRs. Also, I live in Philadelphia and the city wasn’t wired for cable until 1986.) The Star Wars series was a story of finding your place in the world, finding love and finding redemption. George Lucas and company did a very good job for all of them. Don’t look at me like that! Yes, he did do a good job with both the original three and the prequels. While the acting was off the mark at times, Lucas took those age old stories and retooled them for modern audiences.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial
This movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, who is a contemporary of George Lucas, incidentally they joined forces to make the Indiana Jones movies.  I went into this expecting a film where alien comes to earth and creates havoc with the people the alien lives with. Instead, I got a film that shows how love and friendship encompass all that we know and yet to know.

It’s A Wonderful Life
An oldie but a goodie. I first saw this film on a Philadelphia UHF television station in the mid 1980’s and I watch it every December since that time. I love the story of George Bailey, played superbly by Jimmy Stewart, the every person who had dreams but set them aside for the sake his family and his community. After a serious business mishap, Bailey felt that his life was worthless and he decided to kill himself. An angel came along to stop him and showed him what life would be like if he had not been born. Life sans George Bailey wasn’t a pretty picture. This film reminds me of the power of small acts of kindness and how these small kindnesses mean a lot to others.

Avatar
Now comes the recent stuff. I read an interview with Sigourney Weaver in Parade Magazine in December 2009 and she spoke a little about her role in Avatar. That piqued my interest. So, once the holidays were over, I went to see it and WOW! Watching Avatar, I didn’t just engage in a little fantasy, I inhabited the world of Avatar. The acting was first rate, the visuals were spectacular and the story of indigenous peoples being forced off their land, is applicable to our time. As deserving as The Hurt Locker was for its Oscars, it would have been nice if that movie won the Best Director award and Avatar won Best Picture award.

Well, those films are a motley bunch. Still the one thing they have in common is this:

I loved them all.

3D Movies—The Boomerang Film Effect, Since It Keeps Coming Back

April 22, 2010

Recently several big budget films, such as Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, have been made available in 3D versions. This film effect isn’t new. Mainstream 3D films first came along in the 1950’s as a way to get people away from their televisions and back to the theaters. Most of the films from the 1950’s wave of 3D were in the horror genre. They included films like Bwana Devil and House of Wax and they weren’t exactly Oscar contenders. Many times the fact that they were 3D films was the only thing going for them. Also, the moviegoer had wear cheap paper glass with red and green plastic sheets in each eyepiece, in order to experience the 3D effects. Then the fad faded. In the 1980’s came a resurgence of 3D films. Movie such as Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th Part III in 3D, helped to cement 3D’s reputation as a cheesy gimmick that didn’t add much to the film.

With advances in technology, the studios are hoping that the recent crop of 3D films will show how this can enhance a film. The trouble is how do the studio heads define enhance? Among the group of recent 3D movies, only Avatar was filmed in 3D. The 3D effects in Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans were added post-production. Because of that fact, not everyone is jumping on the 3D bandwagon. Avatar director, James Cameron states that the decision to make a 3D movie should be made by the director, not by studio heads.

So, where does that leave the average filmgoer? I don’t know. I will say that while I’m intrigued by this next generation 3D, in the end, I want a movie that tells a good story. I don’t want to pay extra for a gimmick that may not add anything to the movie going experience. So to the studio heads out there, cool your jets when it comes to 3D. Like James Cameron said, if the director wants to do a 3D movie, great, let him or her do it. If not, leave the film alone. Not every movie benefits from being viewed 3D. Also, many filmgoers have complained of headaches and dizziness from watching a 3D movie. So, just because 3D worked for Avatar, it doesn’t mean it will work for every movie.

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/aug/20/3d-film-history

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/digital/3d/aliceinwonderland3dvfx

http://www.latinoreview.com/news/james-cameron-thinks-studios-should-chill-on-3d-conversions-9545

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62N14P20100325?feedType=RSS&feedName=entertainmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fentertainment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F
+Entertainment%29