The Film Before The Film: The Evolution Of Movie Opening Titles

August 19th, 2014 by

Created by Nora Thoes and Damian Pérez.

Via /film.

Watch Three Short Film Prequels to ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

July 2nd, 2014 by

Via /film:

Three things.

First, this is a terrific idea by the studio, out-of-the box thinking that lends even more narrative credibility as well as buzz for what promises to be the big franchise movie of the summer.

Second, screenwriter and friend of the blog Brian Duffield was involved in the the first prequel above. Here are a couple of tweets by Brian about the project:

Third, in relation to the upcoming movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, these prequels are what screenwriters call backstory. Normally, we delve into the personal and collective histories of our story’s characters knowing that 90% of it won’t appear directly in the screenplay, rather it will be felt indirectly through subtext, psychology, emotions, and so forth. What the studio has done with these prequels is visualize some of the backstory.

Again the whole thing is pretty damn cool akin to what Warner Bros. did with Gravity, showing the other side of the conversation Stone has with Aningaaq, the Inuit she happens to find on the ship’s radio communications system:

Congratulations to Brian Duffield and all the filmmakers involved in the Apes prequels.

Pixar reveals plot details to its next movie “Inside Out”

May 27th, 2014 by

Via Pixar’s official website, this announcement yesterday:

From the tepuis of South America to a monster-filled metropolis, Academy Award®-winning director Pete Docter has taken audiences to unique and imaginative places. In 2015, he will take us to the most extraordinary location of all – inside the mind of an 11-year-old named Riley.

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city,
house and school.

Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Ronnie del Carmen
Producer: Jonas Riveras

This seems like a really fun idea, a variation on the Angel and Devil trope:

Only in this case, these are physicalizations of human emotions, not supernatural figures, which should make the Protagonist’s experience more relatable to both kids and adults.

Also speaking as a parent, this seems like an excellent way to generate conversations with children about how to acknowledge and accept one’s feelings, but also learn how to control them as well.

Here’s a visual of the five emotion characters:

It seems like the story is putting the idea of psychology right out there on the table in plain view for audiences. Plus no shortage of conflict with five dynamics vying for control. Finally, it slots right into the way I teach screenwriting: How the screenplay universe is comprised of an External World and Internal World; how characters each wear ‘masks’, switching from one mode of being (archetype) to another; how Protagonists almost always start off in a state of Disunity and go through a metamorphosis-journey leading toward Unity.

In other words, I like this idea a lot, especially with Docter at the helm as he’s directed two of my very favorite Pixar films: Monsters, Inc. and Up.

Release date: June 19, 2015.

How about you? What are you thoughts about Inside Out?

Featurette: “Frank”

May 9th, 2014 by

Now this is a movie I want to see! From Indiewire (Russ Fischer):

One of my favorite films so far in 2014 is Frank, the movie in which Michael Fassbender plays a musician who spends every minute of every day wearing a giant fake head. That’s a pretty good way to get some attention for the film, but Frank is a very funny and genuinely wonderful movie about the process of creativity, and the fact that some of us are simply no good when it comes to making music and art.

IMDB plot summary: “Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.”

Check out this clip:

What a weird concept, yet the movie looks funny as hell, yet also with some interesting things to say about what it is to be a human. Here is a 10-minute featurette with interview excerpts from co-writer Jon Ronson, director Lenny Abrahamson, and actors Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Fassbender.

People complain about unoriginal movies. Frank is clearly not that. For those of you in the U.K., it opens today (May 9). We here in the States will have to wait until August 22 for the movie to hit theaters.

Frank has an 88% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes and at its debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, one reviewer described it this way: “This terrific and sublime experience, and strikingly original film, is mandatory watching for the adventurous viewer.”

The only way to see more original movies get produced and distributed is to support them when they are released. Declare Your Independents and go see Frank!

For the rest of the Indiewire article, go here.

Movie clip via Facebook.

Featurette via The Playlist.

Movie website.

Twitter: @FrankFilmUK

A “Star Wars” Day Message from NASA

May 4th, 2014 by

May the Fourth be with you!

Via Indiewire.

Steven Soderbergh recuts “Heaven’s Gate”

April 29th, 2014 by

Talk about an obsession! From Rolling Stone:

Heaven’s Gate is one of the most notorious cinematic bombs of all time. A 1980 Western about an armed conflict in Wyoming between rich cattlemen and poor farmers, made for a then-astronomical $44 million, it not only destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino (a rising star on the strength of The Deer Hunter) — this marathon-length epic basically put studio United Artists out of business and ended the auteur-driven ’70s golden age of Hollywood. Now director Steven Soderbergh has decided to fix it.

The film was originally released with a running time of over three and a half hours (219 minutes, to be exact); since then, it’s been re-edited by various people, including Cimino himself, at various lengths. But last week, director Steven Soderbergh released “Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut”.

Where can you see Soderbergh’s recut version of the film? On his website which you can visit here.

Here is Soderbergh’s commentary regarding the recut film:

ob-ses-sion (noun)

1. preoccupation
2. state of being obsessed
3. uncontrollable persistence of idea



As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with HEAVEN’S GATE from the moment it was announced in early 1979, and unfortunately history has show that on occasion a fan can become so obsessed they turn violent toward the object of their obsession, which is what happened to me during the holiday break of 2006. This is the result.

Mary Ann Bernard

Who is “Mary Ann Bernard”? That is Soderbergh’s mother’s maiden name, something he has used in the past as a pseudonym for his role as editor.

For background, there is an 8-part documentary on the making of Heaven’s Gate which you can currenly find on YouTube. Here is Part 1:

For more of the Rolling Stone article, go here.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe: Past, Present, and Future (Video)

April 27th, 2014 by

Via Indiewire.

9 Pulp Fiction Facts For Die-Hard Tarantino Fans [Video]

April 23rd, 2014 by

Via FilmmakerIQ.

127 Behind The Scenes photos: “2001: A Space Odyssey”

April 13th, 2014 by

Via Larry Wright (@refocusedmedia), some incredible photos of the legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey shoot.

Major props, Larry. And while we’re at it, here are some links to previous posts I’ve done featuring this classic film.

Script To Screen: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Great Scene: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Great Characters: HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

Interview [Audio]: Stanley Kubrick

Interview [Video]: Stanley Kubrick

Interview [Written]: Stanley Kubrick

Reflections on Stanley Kubrick

Happy Birthday, HAL!

Interview: Stephany Folsom, screenwriter, “1969: A Space Odyssey or: How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon”

For some documentaries on the movie, click More. (more…)

Happy 30th ‘Birthday’: “The Breakfast Club”

March 24th, 2014 by

Today is the 30th ‘birthday’ of The Breakfast Club. I know this because my son Luke brought it to my attention. He has seen the movie about a dozen times. I asked Luke if he would write up some thoughts about The Breakfast Club to celebrate his favorite movie. He emailed me 20 minutes later with this:

“Saturday…March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois. 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon…we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong, what we did was wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are, what do you care? You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct?”

Thirty years later, this monologue from the beginning of The Breakfast Club, written and directed by John Hughes, still holds a chilling amount of relevance over current conditions in most public schools. Kids are written off by what people think of them and what they’re good at, and no allowance is given for what they WANT to do.

The Breakfast Club is the story of five kids, meeting at seven in the morning in detention. Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the awkward and submissive nerd, Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), the single-minded jock, Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), an impulsive liar who is allergic to social acceptance, Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), the prom queen and for all intents and purposes, the most popular girl in school, and finally John Bender (Judd Nelson), a ‘criminal’ who oozes sarcasm and vibes of nonchalance.

Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason), the principal, instructs the unlikely group on what they are to do.

“ …and you may not talk. You will not move from these seats. And you… may not sleep. Alright people, we’re going to try something different today. I want you to write an essay, of no less than a thousand words, describing to me who you think you are.”

…The group’s answer to which is iterated in the intro of the film. Which leaves the rest of the space in the movie dedicated to HOW the crew developed as people to come to that conclusion.

From a storytelling standpoint, the setting for this film is perfect. The entirety of the movie takes place in a school, and beyond that, in one room. In the beginning, all the characters are reserved and functionally opposite from each other. The plot progression of this movie is the movement forward of these five people; this movie is about human interaction and it makes no effort to mask it.

I adore The Breakfast Club. Its entertainment value is high, and if you look behind the veil of comedy John Hughes applies to achieve said entertainment value, it addresses very real issues. There are ‘Breakfast Clubs’ like this all over the world; kids that are limited by their parents, financial situation, race, or otherwise, finding solace in each others’ hardships. The individual characters are so well crafted, you feel the pain and struggle they go through to find balance in their lives, even if you can’t directly relate to them. It’s a masterpiece of heart-tugging realism, humor, and overall a film that perfectly encapsulates the picture of its era.

Did You Know?

• Over the course of the movie, the characters remove various articles of their clothing, symbolic of them opening up as people.

• Brian Johnson’s license plate reads ‘EMC2’, keeping in line with his nerd persona, and Andrew Clark’s reads ‘OHIOST’, which is fitting for a jock.

• Towards the beginning of the movie, the janitor Carl is portrayed in the picture for ‘Man of the Year 1969’.

• Both the scene where the group gets high, and the famous confession scene, are largely improvised.

• Over 200,000 feet of film was shot as a result of John Hughes’ embrace of improvisation.

The original trailer for the movie:

A nice fan-made mini-documentary about The Breakfast Club featuring numerous audio and video interview clips with John Hughes as well as video with Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy.

A “Good Morning America” segment with Hall, Nelson, Ringwald, and Sheedy in 2010, reflecting on their experiences making the movie:

A compilation called The Best of John Bender:

When I think about this movie, I am struck by the loss of John Hughes. Perhaps even more than that, the loss of John Hughes movies. The Breakfast Club reminds us how those early Hughes’ films did such an incredible job exploring the world of adolescence. Where are the movies today featuring teenagers in their social element? Thankfully, screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have written some fine ones including the adaptations The Spectacular Now (novel by Tim Tharp) and The Fault in Our Stars (novel by John Green), but it sure seems to me there is room for much more in the way of stories focusing on the experience of contemporary adolescents.

Are there any budding John Hughes out there? Because we could use a voice like that in times like these.

How about you? What are your thoughts or memories of The Breakfast Club?