Monday, 17 June 2013

Neil on the BBC

Just casually surfing the BBC News website when a simple click surprises me with a bloody great photo of Neil. So it seems even the BBC News website now has a story on Neil and I Am Breathing.

He's getting about. The stubborn sod wouldn't have had it any other way. His strong will is one of the things I miss most about him.

Most major newspapers in the UK have been carrying his story in the run up to the film's UK premiere this week. As much as I don't get on with their politics, I did buy the Daily Telegraph a few weeks back after they had four pages on Neil and the film.

I Am Breathing receives its UK Premiere this week at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Thursday the 20th June. It's also showing on the 23rd June and gets a limited release after. I know it will be tough going but I urge you all to see this film if you can. I think there are still tickets available.

Neil's blog continues to be republished in the days leading up to MND Awareness day on the 21st June, and the film has a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

No amount of followers is enough to help combat this atrocious disease so please check them out and help spread awareness of MND and the MND Association.

Movie Serials Pixaresque

Artist Phil Postma has recreated visions of old movie serial hero lobby cards if Pixar were to do them. To be more specific, there is a distinct Brad Bird / Incredibles look to them. Maybe they should be called Pixaresque?

I love this. Absolutely amazing. These guys, Flash Gordon in particular, were a big deal to me as a kid. I knew who Buster Crabbe was when I was five years old in the 1970s when most other kids were more concerned about Kevin Keegan or Burt Reynolds and the old black and white serials, which used to be shown early on a Saturday morning (before Swap Shop, I think) absolutely held my attention.

And this looks to be a way to have The Phantom represented in a way were it doesn't matter if he essentially looks silly - he gets away with it Pixar style.

If only Pixar adapted one of these. How good would that be? Immensely, I say.

I urge you to check out the rest of Postma's stuff. It's superb. And if you do, be aware that Mr Postma's slightly colour blind, which explains why his Pixaresque version of Dick Tracy looks a little under the weather.

I originally caught this on IO9.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Another Eight Sequences - coming soon

Well, I'll surprised again that someone reads this blog. Not only that, but they chose to get in touch.

Last November I decided to take the Eight Sequence approach, developed by Frank Daniel and championed by Paul Gulino, and see if I could apply to a film I know and love well. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade popped out immediately as I feel it follows this structure well, even breaking it down into the locations that appear in the film, and it would make a good jumping off point in examining how useful this approach.

A reader (who I'll not name right now for the sake of courtesy) liked what I had written, it seems, and got in touch, asking me if I could try the same approach in an examination of Wanted, which said reader had been trying to break down, with little success. I've not watched Wanted yet but I'll certainly give it a go.

Sincerely flattered that someone read my blogs and got in touch.

What I find intriguing is that this might not work. Not every sits comfortably within any supposed structure. The danger is we get into a theory and try to apply it to everything, falling into that trap of mistaking screenwriting theories for story formulas, which is a fatal error.

I'll get into this after the Edinburgh International Film Festival as I'm swamped right now, but I find exercises like this always help the process and make me re-examine what I've written. Handy when I've got a second draft of a feature to be getting on with very soon. Mental exercises for screenwriters. Don't stick with one approach. Figure out as much as you can yourself. There are always patterns in stories but mixing them up and screwing with structure can really push drama and conflict.

Let's see what happens.

Sounds of Steel

Here's me going on about how giant Hollywood blockbusters are in trouble and then I remember how doo-lally I am waiting for Man of Steel this weekend.

When I was young, about five, my mum asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said Spider-Man. She said I couldn't be that. So I said Superman. As a million other kids in the late 70s most likely did. Before I apologised to Luke Skywalker, that is, and remembered that other film.

Can't stop listening to this tune. You can't compete with John Williams (which I'm listening to now as I type this - The Destruction of Krypton to be precise) and nor should you. Even though Bryan Singer had me hook, line and sinker when he used that theme for Superman Returns (which I still like, flaws and all, even if it seems a far smaller film in scope these days), this is different and, frankly, great stuff.

Hope the movie is up to it.

Beards on Hollywood Implosion

Interesting story doing the rounds right now about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas at E3 discussing how Hollywood continues to eat itself (link to Empire's coverage).

They talk about how the current trend of remakes, reboots and increasing budgets is essentially unsustainable and, while I still love me my summer movies (so long as they are GOOD), it's perfectly true.

Many of these big movies are not about directors, they're about Hollywood execs trying to prove to each other that their dick is the biggest by spending more money. There are even some, I hear, who will replace practical effects with unnecessary CG because they think it means something, that it shows that they;re not afraid to throw money around in the face of rivals, when it's entirely possible they have no real understanding of what makes a movie really work, which Mr Spielberg and Mr Lucas (accept it, yes the prequels were poor but he did a few things before them) plainly do. Summer blockbusters are now the domain of the suits. Star Wars, Jaws, ET, and Indiana Jones were all made with honest intentions and by guys who wanted to see those films themselves.

Something else which bugs me as well is the insistence on calling every big summer release a "blockbuster". Because they're not. A film used to only be a "blockbuster" if it did well, the phrase coming from how they broke records, crushed the competition and became cultural phenomena. Now, they're crafted by the suits to a formula and are called "blockbusters" regardless. A movie like Green Lantern or other John Carter (which I had a lot of time for) would not have been called a blockbuster back in the day. You didn't earn money, you were a bomb. Simple as. Based on the enormous profit it made, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a blockbuster - how many news outlets would consider that? Could Once, with it's huge profit margin, be classified as a blockbuster? Or are they not percussive enough for the quick pre-sell or quick cut, noisy TV feed amongst the empty celebs?

Hollywood and brainless, lazy entertainment "journalism"has lost sight of what that really means; but the entertainment journalism industry tends to rely on bigging up these things so people will continue to watch their own bilge. Because, just like the execs, they're afraid they won't be first past the post the minute the gates open. It's a playground mentality and it will be biting them on the ass pretty soon.

Hollywood execs know dick compared to these guys. Lucas and Spielberg didn't create blockbusters; anyone who continues to claim this needs to either get their head out of their ass or do some balanced research. What they actually did was make work that the public responded to overwhelmingly and the greedy money men saw their chance and have been at it ever since.

Movies will change. They always do. Something similar happened in the late 60s when giant flops like Doctor Dolittle and Cleopatra almost wiped studios out. I'm not saying for one instant that we're about to watch the current system fail and usher in a new era reminiscent of the early to mid 70s, but something is definitely going to have to change. And for the better, I think.

While there is an art there, it's also a business. And if there's one thing business knows how to do, it's adopt, adapt and survive.

Finishing things and Finally Back to the EIFF.

Going good this week.

Finished a draft of my current project. More things to do with it. That feeling of calm I get when I finish a job. I tend to get to sleep a lot more easily - I wish I got it more often. And anticipation at the next step (but never taking for granted that I carry it forward when it's not my baby).

And I'm seriously chuffed to be attending this years Edinburgh International Film Festival as a delegate. I rarely get to the EIFF and when I do it's for maybe on film. Going the whole hog this year thanks to an awesome producer I'm working with. Looking forward to it immensely but there is also going to be a lot of work to do when I'm there. An dlots of films to watch. I've got a lot to catch up on.

I'll also be attending the premiere of I Am Breathing, the documentary charting the final few months of the life of my old friend Neil Platt. Not going to be easy but knowing Neil and the filmmakers Morag and Emma, I know there'll be some laughter as well.

Right, back to the prep.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Desolation of Smaug Approacheth

I love this. Loved the first film. Loved what they added to it (I prefer Tolkien's addendums to the story in Unfinished Tales). Looking forward to December, once again.

Goodbye Iain Banks

  "I look down at Eric again, and smile, nod to myself in the breeze while the waves break and the wind moves spray and grass and a few birds call. I suppose I'll have to tell him what happened to me."