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Archive for the Category "Behind the Scenes"

The Hobbit and High Frame Rate Dec 22

Legolas or just Orlando Bloom?Liked the movie. Hated the high frame rate.

In select IMAX theaters they’re showing the The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with the higher frame rate (48 frames per second vs. the standard 24 frames per second). Having never seen a movie with this controversial format before, I was excited to experience the high frame rate (HFR), which promised more vivid and realistic images.

Within the first few moments of the film (and Peter Jackson cameo), I immediately understood why there was so much controversy over this format. The images were crisp and life-like… and didn’t look like a movie.

What was it like?

My brother said it was like watching a televised BBC production (TV has a higher frame rate than movies). Some people liken the experience to watching a play. I’d go one step further. It was like watching really clear behind the scenes footage of a movie, where you see the actor in costume rehearsing their lines — and at no time confuse them for their characters.

And that’s the problem. It looked too realistic. In many cases, I stopped seeing a character, and started seeing an actor with imperfect skin and contact lenses. I stopped seeing an Elf Forest, and started seeing fake tree props.

If you’ve ever been on a movie set, you’ll quickly notice how fake everything looks in real life. Why the hell would I want that? I want LARGER than life for my movie experience, thank you very much!

The Art Form

I’m always an early adopter of technology. I love innovation and applaud Peter Jackson for trying this new format out. You never know when something new will resonate with audiences. Believe it or not, “talkies” (i.e. modern movies where you can hear the actors’ voices as they say their lines, instead of reading their dialogue in subtitles) were controversial when they first came out.

But I can’t help but feel like HFR is a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Movies aren’t reality. They’re heightened reality. The paradox is that making films look more “real” may actually compromise our ability to suspend our disbelief.

If the goal is to make the movie-going experience more like real life, perhaps we should get rid of the score in scenes where there wouldn’t normally be music playing. Or maybe we should shoot all of the scenes from one camera angle. All this jumping from angle to angle stuff isn’t how we view the world.

And when is that smell-o-vision gonna get here? I’m sure audiences would love that. I can think of one scene in particular from Slumdog Millionaire that would be especially… powerful.

Did you see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug in its higher frame rate? (If you’re unsure, then you probably saw it at one of the majority of theaters where it was played in its converted and standard 24 fps.) What did you think of the format?

Tips from Screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland) Jun 25

Rhett ReeseA few weeks back I went to the Great American PitchFest and had a blast. I posted my overall impressions here. And also discussed a couple of free classes I attended, here and here.

Today I’m writing about the third free class I attended — an interview with screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland, Monsters, Inc., G.I. Joe: Retaliation). I found Rhett Reese to be an extremely affable and generous guy. He truly enjoys teaching and helping aspiring screenwriters.

Here are some random tips from his interview (along with my usual paraphrasing) that I found interesting.

Tip #1: On breaking out of one genre after you’ve found success there…

Hollywood straps you with the “golden handcuffs.” You tend to become associated with one genre. But it’s possible to “reinvent yourself by degrees.” For example, if you’ve had traction with an action movie, you could write an action comedy next. Then if that one hits, you could write a comedy, etc.

Tip #2: Before you send your script out to decision makers

… start on a new script. That way “it’s easier to take rejection, because you’re already invested in a new project.”

Tip #3: “Make your characters very entertainingly ONE THING.”

“Simplicity is your friend when it comes to character. Keep it simple.” Play up the one thing that makes your character stand out.

Tip #4: “Never write past your punchline.”

He gave the example of the following line:

“The last time I was in a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty.”

It’s less impactful if you were to say it as follows:

“The last time I was in a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty in New York City.”

End on the button.

Tip #5: To be successful as a writer…

… you need to be like the T-1000 Terminator. In your career you’ll be routinely shattered to a million pieces by criticism and rejection. The successful writers will be the ones who can “relentlessly and robotically let these pieces coalesce.”

8 Rules Behind the Success of Paranormal Activity Feb 19

Author Oren PeliRobert Pagliarani discusses the eight rules that allowed Paranormal Activity writer/director Oren Peli to turn $11,558 into $100 Million:

  1. No excuses. There are always a million and one reasons why now is not the right time. The truth is it will NEVER be the right time. The stars will never align and you won’t get a sign from heaven. There will always be a reason why it doesn’t make sense to do it, but now is always a good time to create something in your other 8 hours.
  2. Find affordable help. Oren held open casting calls in LA and found two unknowns to star in his film. You too can find great talent and they don’t have to cost a lot—can you say Elance! Sell them on the idea. Inspire them. Get them involved and give them some ownership.
  3. Be flexible. Oren had a rough idea for the plot, but didn’t get bogged down in the details of a script. In fact, he didn’t have a script. When it came time to shoot the film, he told the actors to improvise. Don’t get so caught up planning and strategizing that you never actually do anything. Sometimes you have to get out there and see what happens. Make mistakes; adapt; repeat.
  4. Ownership is everything. When you can take some money off the table, do it, but always keep your upside protected. Oren sold the film for $350,000. By itself, that would be a nice return, but Oren also gets to share in the profits. Unless you’re getting the offer of a lifetime, try to keep some ownership.
  5. Get a cheerleader. The life of a entrepreneur can get lonely and depressing. That’s why it’s so important to get a cheerleader or two on your side. Oren got Steven Spielberg. While you may not get someone like this to back your idea, the goal is to get someone who believes in you and what you’re doing. Get them to make calls on your behalf, to open their Rolodex, and to give you advice.
  6. Open to feedback. Spielberg loved Oren’s film, but he thought the ending needed a bigger kick. Even though this film was Oren’s baby, he followed the advice. You don’t have all the answers. At some point you need to take advice from others. There’s a fine line, though. Don’t take advice from someone unless you really think they know what they’re talking about. Time and time again I’ve seen entrepreneurs take advice from people they didn’t like or respect, but because they were unsure, they followed it.
  7. Use other people’s money. It’s important to have some skin in the game, but whenever possible, use other people’s money. This protects you in case things don’t go as planned. That ending Oren had to re-shoot? Rather than spend more of his own money, he took $4,000 from Paramount (the film’s distributor) and re-shot it.
  8. Know your audience. Paranormal Activity didn’t initially go toe-to-toe with the big budget horror flicks. Instead, they capitalized on their tech-savvy audience and launched a limited release in just 13 college towns. They then provided the audience with tools to spread the word. Focus on your market. Can they become your cheerleaders? What tools can you give them to help them spread the message?

Some great rules… but perhaps there should be a number 9 — luck.

My understanding is that the original movie was purchased by the studio with the intention of remaking it with a bigger budget. It was only after the execs saw how people were reacting to screenings of the movie that they decided to release the original film.

Link to full article at Elance

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