Friday, December 19, 2008

The Fix: Thierry Mugler

Shoot it up! It's Theirry Mugler!

Probably the most fantastical designer of the last thirty years, Thierry Mugler is the godfather of dominatrix high fashion. He turns real-live women into comic book characters on the runway. No smoke and mirrors, no CGI, there's no way to deceive you, watching these models is an invitation to shit your pants in the face of awesome. There is always a way to do it bigger and better. Its all in how much commitment you have to sewing a million bugles on a dress and endure the smell of plastic. Here's some visual stimulation to get your next fantasy script going.

The famous Harley dress, that simultaneously empowers and (controversially) objectifies the woman. (ride her hard) ---------->

All about the man:

At a height in the 90's.

Spring: Don't skip the last dress.

His Official Site.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The truth revealed

Romantic Comedies really ARE acts of terrorism on humanity. Or they just ruin your love life by duping dreamers into trying to live out fantasy.

God I hate chick flicks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Film and the Financial Crisis

We also talked about the inherent opportunity for smaller studios, free of the weight these mega corporations carry, to be nimble and react to the quality products that are sure to change hands as studios try and find buyers. A great example of this that Don gave was Summit Entertainment’s pickup of the “Twilight” book series from Paramount in turnaround.

From a satisfyingly specific interview with Don Starr (CEO of Grosvenor Park (Defiance, P.S. I Love You, Righteous Kill). I want to read Part 2. Thanks to The Screenwriters League for the tipoff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Fix: Danny Boyle

(So this is the start of a technique I'm using to blog more consistently. This is The Fix, where I talk about something that inspires me creatively at the moment.)

I started mucking around the interweb about Danny Boyle based off of the interview I posted from Variety, and youtube handed me some fine videos of the man giving some real sincere insight on filmmaking. I love this man. He gets me to go all night! (Writing that is! Your dirty mind, he has like a 20 year old kid or something!)

On Child Actors:

On location shooting:

On casting:

On Science:

On storyboarding and prep:

On shooting Sci-Fi:

Charm School

I just had to record this one question:

When the girls on Charm School go into Sharon Osbourne's "office" what kind of work do they expect us to imagine she's doing? I'm sure she's grading some classy essays like a diligent headmaster.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is Bigger Better?

I recently finished reading a book called "The Devil's Candy", by Julie Salamon. It chronicles the production of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" directed and produced by Brian De Palma. I'd never seen "Bonfire" before but it has a reputation as the infamous bomb of the 80's. The book does a pretty fantastic job of methodically narrating the evolution of a box-office disaster, mainly by inadvertanly pointing out that nothing at the time ever seemed to be terribly wrong. If I was asked after reading the book why "Bonfire" went off the rails, the answer is totally obfuscated. This was no "Lost in La Mancha". It was no one person's fault, and everyone was either just doing their job or acting with the best of intentions. Because the plot totally focuses on racism between the Black of the Bronx and the White of the WASP, its a totally un-P.C. story. How does the studio handle it? This is an offensive story, but we don't want to offend anyone! So lets switch up some races here and there. Oh did we end up making it MORE offensive by trying to cover up the fact that we were offended in the first place? Oops. We were only trying to make you happy by casting the happy Tom Hanks as a total waste of space banker character. Because that's as believable as having Angelina Jolie play the cheek-pinching grandmother in a Christmas movie. Actually, that would be kinda funny. Somebody do that.

But back to the point. The crux of the production is that it went about $20 million over budget and hit an all-time high cost for its time at $50 million. With that much money at stake, everyone was doing double-takes, looking over their shoulder, forgetting the unity and concept of the movie because it had to be painstakingly separated into financial details: could this set be removed, could this actor be replaced, could this line be changed. And while that's all rice and beans in film production, the higher the budget the higher the stakes, and the more the fear. And when there's fear in a production, the film disappears. Movies are incredible in that while being these canvases of smoke and mirrors, these imperceptible illusions, they still reveal an incredible amount. The camera still, among all the lies, finds a way to tell the truth.

If you see the movie "Bonfire of the Vanities" it's so evident. This stamp of fear is practically everywhere. After 500 pages of reading about the making, you kind of forget the movie actually exists, so it's very strange to see it and recognize that everything on the page is seemingly true. The star-mongering, the excessive, stereotypical set dressing, the blatant camera choices, a De Palma staple, but clearly trying to add depth where the foundation of the movie crumbled away. Nothing fits, the movie's shallow and confusing and above all else, is more afraid of its material than anything I've seen in recent memory (for the full plot click here). It is so afraid in fact, that its twist of real issues into Hollywood ones really IS offensive. By trying to appease everyone, it appeased no one, and grossed about $10 million at the BO.

The book does not end happily, predicting a scary road ahead. "Bonfire" tanked due to its excessive spending and at the moment it was a lesson to the studios to keep their money in their pockets. But memories are fleeting and the afterward makes a point that the average budget jumped to $54.8 million in 2000 when in 1980 it was $9.5 million. A mere couple years later or so and Spiderman 3 smashed records by costing $300 million. And I feel like part of the system, part of the problem, because the movie I'm working on now is very big as well. Now that the economy is pretty much imploding on itself like a leaky stress ball, this budget inflation is a goddamn issue. Movies will ALWAYS exist for Americans, but if we're to make any money doing this anymore hopefully there's some change on the way, maybe similar to what happened in the early 70's, when the giants fell to let the little guys show their guns for a bit.

Hopefully slow ticket prices will remind executives to watch their material. Hopefully large chains will be forced to lower their ticket prices, movies shouldn't be and never were a luxury for the public. Hopefully there will be much needed reform in distribution. Film festivals have got to survive somehow. And hopefully the star's asking prices will finally go down to allow all of this to happen. Hopefully I'll still be able to work here.

Working at a studio, passing by big productions every day, I have to say it is amazing how quality becomes subjective when there is a lot of cash to spare. The more I hang around all of this, the more appealing Danny Boyle's words become:

The more money I take that is not restricted, which technically gives you freedom, equipment and more days, the more the spirit of the film dies, falls flat... These instincts you have when filming sometimes are often indulgent bullshit. You feel like a spoiled prince with a hundred people asking you what you want.

Well, clearly, I need to make a movie already. And stop philosophizing on one.

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