I just uploaded my latest short film Dead man’s hand to Withoutabox’s online screener which technically is on IMDB’s website. I was appalled by the extremely low quality the HD movie looked like on the screener. This film was shot on Red, color corrected with Davinci and the screener made it look like I took an old camcorder and just decided one day to make a movie. Instead of the months of pre-production and thousands of dollars that went into creating it. After doing my reasearch I found out that the online screener is still in SD format. What?! It’s 2012 and HD has been going strong for several years now and isn’t showing any signs of slowing. Yes people still film in SD but there are so many more that film in HD so it’s high time they upgrade their system to accept HD quality movies. I want the festivals to see how beautiful the film is in the highest quality it can be. So I posted on Withoutabox’s Facebook page and said something about it. Maybe they haven’t upgraded because there hasn’t been enough stink about it. So I ask all filmmakers and film festival folks to go to Withoutabox’s FB page and demand their online screener be upgraded to accept HD! And with that said I’m going to go break a few Standard Def. DVDs.
After watching Snow White and The Huntsman I was left feeling ‘alright’. From the trailer, I went in expecting this great movie, but it turned out to just be ‘alright’. Charlize Theron was wonderful as usual and the overall cinematography was beautiful. I’m well aware that this is a fantasy movie, but some of the fantasy elements seemed to come out of nowhere pulling you out of the story for a moment. The scene with the intro to the white horse and the scene with the two birds in the ‘fairy land’ will have you laughing to yourself when I don’t believe that was the intention of the screenwriter or director. These two scenes just come out of left field so much that you can’t help but to say yourself “what then hell?” Which brings about an uncomfortable chuckle to mask your confusion. Kudos goes to the folks that cut the trailer. They did an excellent job making the movie look 100 times more exciting than it truly is. I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart, but the director really brought out more in here for this role than I’ve seen of her in any other role she starred in so kudos to him as well. I left feeling that the only saving grace of the movie was Charlize Theron and ‘Thor’. My rating on Snow White and the Huntsman for the story is a B-. For cinematography and artistic vision an A. For direction a B. My overall rating for the entire film is a B-. If you just want to get out of the house and be slightly entertained then go see it, but I’d say wait for it to hit redbox and save your money. Go see Avengers for the 2nd time or hold onto your money for Prometheus which is sure to be incredible, Ridley Scott, enough said. *drops microphone*
The New Class To Be Presented at CineGear Expo 2012 by The Global Cinematography Institute
Cinematography in Video Games and Virtual Cinematography will be shown as part of the presentation by the Global Cinematography Institute (www.globalcinematography.com) founded recently by Directors of Photography Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and Yuri Neyman, ASC. It is the advanced program which combines classical and virtual cinematography in the new discipline called “Expanded Cinematography” which includes Advanced Lighting for Feature Films, Cinematography for Music Videos, Funda mentals of Lighting and Composition, Digital Lighting, Previsualization, Digital Cinematography, Virtual Cinematography, On The Set Image Management, Postproduction Technology, The History of Cinematography & Photography, and more. The presentation will take place during CineGear Expo ’12 on Saturday, June 2nd from 4 to 5pm in the Sherry Lansing Theater at Paramount Studios: http://www.cinegearexpo.com/category/seminars/premiere-seminars
DONNA SUMMERS DEAD AT 63
TMZ reports that singer Donna Summer died Thursday morning after fighting cancer, and Summer’s family confirmed her death shortly afterward. The disco star was reportedly trying to keep the extent of her illness under wraps while she completed a new album, though sources who saw her several weeks ago said she “didn’t seem too bad.” The five-time Grammy winner was known as the “Queen of Disco” and rose to superstardom in the 1970s with her hits “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” and “Bad Girls.”
Actor Nick Stahl, who played John Connor in “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” has been reported missing by his wife, who told police she has not seen him since May 9, according to news reports from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles police spokesman Richard French told the Los Angeles Times that Rose Murphy reported her husband missing on Monday morning.
Police said Stahl had been frequenting LA’s skid row and officers on that beat had been told to be on the alert for Stahl, according to the LA Times report.
“We are tracking down a few leads and using internal sources with information we have to see if we can quickly locate him,” said Detective Carmine S. Sasso, according to a report from PEOPLE.
Police said foul play is not suspected, according to the Times report.
“Of the 14,000 missing persons cases I’ve handled over the past four years, there’s a very good percentage of those involving drug issues and a separation from families. The vast majority of them have been successfully solved. Hopefully this one will be too,” PEOPLE quotes Sasso as saying.
Stahl, 32, began acting as a child but got his first big break in the 1993 Mel Gibson film “Man Without a Face,” according to IMDB.com.
– I really enjoyed him in the HBO series Carnivale.
The current issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine looks at the high-risk, high-reward strategy of using first-time helmers on movies such as “Tron: Legacy” and “47 Ronin.”
Hollywood loves discovering new talent. But its passion for developing emerging filmmakers has lately strayed into large-scale, downright risky terrain.
Case in point: Universal is in the process of handing director Carl Rinsch a $170 million budget for 47 Ronin, a 3D samurai revenge story starring Keanu Reeves that will begin shooting March 14 in Budapest. Rinsch’s résumé includes a popular short film and a Heineken commercial — but no features.
And he’s far from the only fresh-faced director stepping into the big-budget fray. Disney gave commercials helmer Joseph Kosinski close to $200 million for Tron: Legacy. Universal recently hired first-timer Rupert Sanders to helm the $100 million-plus Snow White and the Huntsman. Relative newbies Marc Webb, who’s shooting Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and Daniel Espinosa, who’s helming Universal’s action thriller Safe House, took on the potential blockbusters with little previous feature work.
It’s not an entirely new phenomenon, but for several reasons the scale and justifications behind the hires have changed. During the 1990s, commercial and music video directors such as David Fincher (Alien 3, 1992), Michael Bay (Bad Boys, 1995), Gore Verbinski (Mousehunt, 1997) and McG (Charlie’s Angels, 2000) made the jump to features, but most of them did so with comparatively modest budgets.
During the past five years, though, technology has enabled rookie directors to hone their skills via FinalCut Pro, digital-video cameras and other state-of-the-art effects tools from a young age, prompting budget-cautious studios to salivate over what they can put on screen for a price. Gareth Edwards, for instance, made his indie sci-fi film Monsters for a few hundred thousand dollars, even though it looked much more expensive. He’s now up to direct Godzilla for Warner Bros.
“It’s a reflection on the innovation of emerging filmmakers,” says Anonymous Content manager Michael Sugar, who reps Webb and Kosinski. “You’re looking at people like Fede Alvarez, who made a short film (Panic Attack!) for $300, put it on YouTube, and it looks like it was made for $20 million.” Alvarez, an Anonymous client, was hired by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures to develop a sci-fi feature.
More than ever before, the short film and commercial environment has become a playground to use up-to-the-minute tech to create feature-film calling cards. Sanders, District 9 co-writer-director Neill Blomkamp and Noam Murro — recently hired by Fox to direct the fifth Die Hard — all did spots for recent Halo video game campaigns, a gig that has become as coveted as any debut film job because it often becomes a higher-profile entry into features.
Ad-world veterans also tend to be more comfortable making presentations in front of dozens of studio execs, and to be handy with creating the rip reels, animatics and annotated screenplays that the studios now want to see. These days, when execs say yes to a spec package, they aren’t saying yes to development but to a movie, with a budget, detailed vision and release date.
“If you look at the way movies are being sold into the studios, whether it’s Safe House or All You Need Is Kill or Snow and the Seven —those are spec screenplays that were either sold in with a director or developed to the point where they were movies,” says Management 360 manager-producer Darin Friedman, who reps Kill writer D.W. Harper and director Adam Berg.
A visionary director can simply send a link to his short to someone in the industry, and everyone’s seen it within an hour.
At the same time, the screenwriting community has largely abandoned the spec approach — what was for a long time Hollywood’s prime idea factory. In the last few years, studios have made brutal trims to slates and development overhead. Filmmakers are now bypassing writer-provided original material by building a creative pipeline to funnel their own spec packages directly to producers and execs.
Alvarez’s short film got him noticed all over town. Berg’s short Carousel, made for Philips TV, had him up for the job of helming the big-budget X-Men spinoff Deadpool for Fox. James Mather and Stephen St. Leger’s short Prey Alone led to them writing and directing the sci-fi actioner Lockout for Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp and FilmDistrict.
Rather than scrape together financing for a small indie, a visionary director can simply send a link to his short to someone in the industry, and everyone’s seen it within an hour. The heat generated from a viral explosion can put an auction-like target on a filmmaker.
“Carl Rinsch had been kicking around for years, but when he made [the 2010 short] The Gift, it got sent around and it created a frenzy,” Friedman says. “That doesn’t happen without that perfect storm of the right idea executed well, with the technology to share it virally.”
Studios want and need movies, but they have less and less interest in developing them internally. From multiple accounts, rookie filmmakers are put through their paces by nervous studios before a green light. But by choosing to hire unproven talent, studios are also getting less expensive filmmakers that are potentially easier to control and can be loyal to the studio if the film is a hit.
Blomkamp had only about $30 million but made District 9 seem a lot bigger. When it grossed $211 million worldwide, the path widened for other first-time visionaries, and Blomkamp is now directing the $125 million Elysium for Sony, which released District 9 through TriStar.
But the strategy is not without risk. Sony distributed Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Oscar-winning debut The Lives of Others via Sony Pictures Classics. But when the studio gave him $100 million to make The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, it grossed only $67 million domestically amid critical pans (the film did better overseas, grossing $163 million).
And as Rinsch goes into production on Ronin, he might want to take stock of first-timer Kinka Usher, a DGA Award-winning commercials director whom Universal gave $70 million in 1999 to make Mystery Men. The superhero spoof ultimately grossed just $33 million globally, and Usher has been making commercials ever since.