Friday, 31 May 2013

Indie Film Spotlight: Radio Free Albemuth

Tired of rich celebrities dominating Kickstarter?

Want to toss a little love to some really independent filmmaking?

Then you should take a look at this...





Radio Free Albemuth is an independently produced feature film adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick novel. The plot is simple on the surface. 

It's set in an alternate universe in the 1980s. A realm of paranoia and lies, where even the President himself might be a Soviet spy. A record store clerk from Berkeley is being given visions by a mysterious alien entity, that first make him a successful record executive, but also put him on a collision course with the increasingly repressive state.

Of course, as with all of Dick's work, it's much more complicated and mind-bending than that. Which is why the people behind the project have been so passionate about it.

Radio Free Albemuth's cast includes Shea Wigham (Silver Linings Playbook, Boardwalk Empire), Multiple Grammy Award Winner Alanis Morissette, Jonathan Scarfe (Perception, Grimm), Katheryn Winnick, (Vikings, Stand Up Guys), Hanna Hall ( The Virgin Suicides, Halloween ), Ashley Greene (The Twilight Films), Golden Globe nominee Scott Wilson (The Ninth Configuration, The Walking Dead), and Oscar nominee Rosemary Harris.
"Engrossing! Delivers satisfying intrigue and suspense.  Should connect strongly with Dick's fanbase and upscale auds seeking sci-fi with political and philosophical substance." -- Richard Kuipers, Variety 
"In our view, the best adaptation of PKD’s work to screen by far!"  -- Louis Savy,  Sci-Fi London  
"Five stars!  This film has soul!  You don’t have to be a fan of Philip K. Dick or science fiction to enjoy.   Don’t miss it! " -- Leon Marvell,  Arts Hub Australia


Despite the good reviews, and the support of the Phillip K. Dick fan community the film has only been available at film festivals and special event screenings because many of the big distributors consider thought provoking science fiction films a risk.

This is where you come in.

The producers would like you to help them raise the money they need to get the film a nationwide theatrical release.

Give what you can, and you can qualify for these rewards:

Pledge $5 or more

MINORITY REPORTER - Thank you for joining our grass-roots Movement! You’ll get personal tweets from the team, Facebook mention, listing on the RFA Website and exclusive content only for backers.

Estimated delivery: Jul 2013 
Pledge $10 or more

BLADE RUNNER - All of the above plus Hi-Res Digital Photo from the movie and email from the director. You choose which character you want in the frame. Or we'll follow PKD's example and let the I-Ching decide for you!

Estimated delivery: Jul 2013 
Pledge $25 or more

RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH INSIDER - All of the above plus RFA Digital Download! For anyone planning on owning the movie anyway, your donation now helps us raise the money for distribution. VALIS will shine its pink light on you! Download outside the U.S. may be at later delivery date.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013 
Pledge $35 or more

TOTAL DICK-HEAD - Digital Score, Digital Poster and pdf of Screenplay. If you are a PKD fan, you’ve probably got his novel Radio Free Albemuth on your bookshelf. Now own the screenplay - with the director’s essay on the challenges of adaptation. Plus all the above.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013 
Pledge $50 or more

ARAMCHEK CELL LEADER - All of the above. Plus - Be the first to own the DVD! Your own “SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION” copy personalized with inscription by writer/director John Alan Simon. Signed and numbered. Delivery outside U.S. may be at later delivery date.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Add $10 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $70 or more
12 backers All gone!
RFA REPORTER - Extra! Extra! In addition to the limited edition DVD and all of the above - Add an actual prop from the movie! Newspapers created for RFA with headline “ARAMCHECK ALERT’ OR “RUSSIANS SHOOT DOWN ALIEN SATELLITE.” Suitable for framing.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Add $10 to ship outside the US
Pledge $75 or more

ARAMCHEK ARTISAN - For One-Sheet collectors. Radio Free Albemuth poster (27 “x 41"– standard poster size.) Suitable for framing, autographed (if you want) by RFA Team. PKD fans love Christel Thompson’s design. Now you can hang it on your wall. Plus TOTAL DICK-HEAD Package.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013
Add $35 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $75 or more

PHILIP K. DICK’S FOOTSTEPS - In addition to the DVD, you’ll experience PKD's Berkeley haunts with a guided walking tour by noted PKD scholar David Gill (totaldickhead.blogspot.com). Includes all premiums in ARAMCHEK CELL LEADERS. Does not include travel to San Francisco.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Add $10 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $85 or more

ARAMCHEK BIBLIOPHILE - Collectors item for your library. Limited Edition bound book of Radio Free Albemuth screenplay with original hand painted color ink or watercolor artwork insert by writer/director John Alan Simon. Each one is unique. First 26 receive LETTERED with C.O.A. (Certificate of Authenticity). After that, NUMBERED with C.O.A. Includes all the perks in TOTAL DICK-HEAD Package.

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Add $25 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $100 or more
RFA CONSPIRATOR - See your name on the big screen, DVD and downloads in “SPECIAL THANKS” listing in the end credits. (May even boost your rating on IMDB!) Includes TOTAL DICK-HEAD package. Plus a personal thank-you phone call from one of the producers.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013 
Pledge $250 or more
ARAMCHEK CONNOISSEUR - Collector’s Item from the set. One of only two beautiful mounted 27” x 40” poster with the Progressive Records logo from the company where Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) and Silvia Aramchek (Alanis Morissette) work. Design by art director Prisciilla Elliot. Includes ON SCREEN and Social Media thanks, Website listing, digital poster, script, score and Digital Download of RFA.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013
Add $40 to ship outside the US
Pledge $350 or more
1 backer Limited (1 of 2 left)
PHILIP K. DICK FANATIC - The Shirt off Philip K. Dick's Back. Worn by Phil (Shea Whigham) in the movie on the night he’s arrested . size: XL. Plus ON SCREEN and Social Media thanks, Website listing, digital poster, script, score and Digital Download of RFA.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013
Add $15 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $350 or more
2 backers All gone!
ALANIS/SILVIA EXCLUSIVE - Black satin vest OR green blouse worn by Silvia (Alanis Morissette). This one’s for for the Alanis fans. .Size: Small. First to pledge chooses which item. Photo still included. Plus ON SCREEN special thanks Credit. Includes Social Media thanks, Website listing, digital poster, script, score, and digital download of RFA.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013
Add $15 to ship outside the US
Pledge $350 or more
1 backer Limited (9 of 10 left)
DIRECT VALIS COMMUNICATION - Hour-long one-on-one skype conversation with RFA producer of your choice: Director John Alan Simon, Chip Rosenbloom, Steve Nemeth, Elizabeth Karr. We’ll do our best to make your first choice available. Talk about Radio Free Albemuth, Philip K. Dick, writing, producing, directing, acting, philosophy of life – or even yourself. Plus ON SCREEN special thanks credit. Includes Social Media thanks, Website listing, digital poster, script, score, digital download of RFA and DVD.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013 
Pledge $400 or more
0 backers Limited (3 of 3 left)
PROGRESSIVE RECORDS CEO - Private Master Class two-hour session with Radio Free Albemuth composer Ralph Grierson at his studio. Discuss the scoring of RFA – or your own film project with composer/musician whose credits include Half Nelson, A Bug’s Life. Includes ON SCREEN special thanks credit. If you can’t get to LA, you can meet via skype. Plus Includes all premiums in ARAMCHEK CELL LEADERS - DVD!

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013 
Pledge $500 or more
2 backers Limited (8 of 10 left)

RFA INNER CIRCLE - Hollywood Lunch with director John Alan Simon or producers Steve Nemeth, Chip Rosenbloom, or Elizabeth Karr. Radio Free Albemuth picks up the check. You need to get yourself to Los Angeles. We’ll do our best to make your first choice of lunch host available. Includes Special Limited edition DVD and all of the above except limited number items.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013 
Pledge $500 or more
0 backers Limited (1 of 1 left)
PRESIDENT FREMONT OVAL OFFICE “PORTRAIT” - Exclusive One of a kind! Large 5’ x 4’ mounted poster of Pres. Fremont/Scott Wilson as seen on screen. There’s only one and it can hang on your wall. If Fremont is one of your favorite PKD villains – or you’re a fan of Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene in ‘The Walking Dead’ or his Golden Globe nominated performance in “The Ninth Configuration” and ‘In Cold Blood,’ vote quickly for this one! Plus Special Limited edition DVD and all of the above except limited number items.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Add $100 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $550 or more
0 backers Limited (40 of 40 left)

ARAMCHECK SECRET SUMMIT - Exclusive Private Party at Composer Ralph Grierson’s house with director John Alan Simon and producers and surprise special guests in attendance. Listen to RFA composer virtuoso play the score on his grand piano and discuss the director-composer collaboration. You need to get yourself to LA! Includes ON SCREEN special thanks Credit, Social Media thanks, Website listing, TOTAL DICK-HEAD package, and Special Limited Edition DVD.

Estimated delivery: Aug 2013 
Pledge $600 or more
0 backers Limited (1 of 1 left)
FREMONT PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM PATRON - Exclusive one of a kind plaque as seen in the movie! Wood framed, (2’x 3’) glass-enclosed pictorial of the President’s (Scott Wilson) boyhood (2’ x 3’). There’s only one and it can hang on your wall. Includes ON SCREEN special thanks Credit, Social Media thanks, Website listing, TOTAL DICK-HEAD package, and Special Limited Edition DVD.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Add $100 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $750 or more
0 backers Limited (50 of 50 left)
VALIS LIGHT ANGEL - Movie Premiere and Party! 2 tickets to the NYC or LA premiere of Radio Free Albemuth. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Hang out with the RFA team on this big night. Includes ON SCREEN special thanks Credit, Social Media thanks, Website listing, TOTAL DICK-HEAD package, and Special Limited Edition DVD.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013 
Pledge $1,000 or more
1 backer All gone!
PROFESSIONAL TORTURER EXCLUSIVE - Alanis Morissette Lyrics for “Professional Torturer.” 30” x 48” cue card signed by Alanis. From the set, shooting the vision sequence night club scene. This was a personal gift from Alanis to the director, who wants you to have it as special thanks for helping release RFA in theatres.. Plus ON SCREEN special thanks Credit, Social Media thanks, Website listing, Total Dickhead package, and Special Limited Edition DVD.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Add $40 to ship outside the US
Pledge $2,500 or more
0 backers Limited (8 of 8 left)
A PROJECTION DARKLY - Host a private screening of RFA in your own home or other private venue of your choice for you and your closest friends with director John Alan Simon personally in attendance for special Q&A. Plus all of the above (except limited items).

Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Add $1,500 to ship outside the US 
Pledge $5,000 or more
1 backer Limited (4 of 5 left)
VALIS ASSOCIATE PRODUCER - Associate Producer credit on a Philip K. Dick movie! ON SCREEN and IMDB. Plus ALL of the above rewards except One of a Kind and props. You get Premiere screenings with Cast and Crew, one-onpone lunch and Skype session, autographed Script, Limited Edition DVD, RFA Poster, Party.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013 
Pledge $10,000 or more
0 backers Limited (3 of 3 left)
VALIS CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Co-Executive Producer credit on Radio Free Albemuth. ON SCREEN and IMDB. Plus ALL of the above rewards (excluding One of a Kind props)… Premiere screenings with Cast and Crew, lunch & Skype session, autographed Script, DVD, RFA Poster, Party. * If you'd like to give more than 10K, Message us personally and not only will you be our hero but we'll custom create incentives for you that will be out of this world wonderful.

Estimated delivery: Sep 2013 

Check it out, and if you like what you see give what you can to get a really independent film into theatres.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1027: Canadian Protectionism & Alien Bigotry?

PROTECTIONISM & FAVOURITISM?

Congratulations to Simon & Schuster Canada on being allowed by the Canadian government to publish Canadian authors in Canada.


Hmmm.... That doesn't make much sense... I think I need to do some explaining.

Simon & Schuster Canada, the North of the Border division of big international publisher Simon & Schuster, was restricted by the Canadian government. In the name of protecting Canadian culture S&S Canada was, until recently, only allowed to distribute American titles, but were not allowed to publish Canadian authors in Canada, even though the company obviously wanted to.

How did the old regulation that denied S&S Canada the ability to publish Canadian authors protect Canadian culture?



Terribly.

In fact, it probably did more harm than good.

When you want your culture to be vital and alive, the arrival of someone with deep pockets and an interest in investing money, time, and effort into putting more of your nation's authors on bookshelves should be seen as a good thing. 

Not in Canada.

Or to be more specific, not in certain offices in Toronto.

You see, the regulation had nothing to do with protecting Canadian culture. You see, Canada has a lot of space, but not much population, and the bulk of that population is laid out in a strip alongside the border of a massive pop-culture juggernaut called the USA. That means that in the areas of pop culture, movies, television, and books, already have natural market forces tipped against them.

In music and television things got really screwy with radio and TV broadcasters refusing to air anything Canadian made. In radio this included songs that were huge hits in the USA and UK, but couldn't get any airplay in their native country.

That all changed when the government imposed the Canadian Content regulations (AKA CanCon) which said that if they wanted a license to broadcast in Canada, they needed to air a certain amount of Canadian made material. This caused an explosion in Canadian music and television actually reaching Canadian audiences. At first a lot of the television was pretty crappy, but a lot of great music was finally able to find a domestic audience.

Now that's protectionism structured to protect Canadian culture, and you would think that an international publisher wanting to do business in Canada would follow similar guidelines. You would expect them to say to S&S Canada to say: "If you want to put out American books in Canada a percentage of your output should be Canadian authors."

But not so.

Why?

Well the answer is simple. The regulation wasn't about protecting Canadian culture, it's about protecting the elite group of Toronto publishers who were in positions of influence with politicians and bureaucrats when the regulations were put into effect. Those publishers didn't want competition for government arts grants and hopefully avoid paying fair market prices for Canadian authors.

But with the whole Random/Penguin merger there was an opening, and S&S Canada was allowed into the club.

IS DOCTOR WHO RACIST?

That's a question no one has ever asked until a group of Academics did and the answer is YES!

The Doctor, last of the Time Lords, is more than just a raging Dalek-aphobe, these experts say he doesn't like black people because he plays cricket... or something...

The whole thing doesn't make a lot of logical sense since the Doctor is an alien, and fictional, and the knee jerk reaction to this report is to say that the authors should save a seat at the funny farm.

But the authors are not crazy.

They're not right, but they're not delusional.

This whole thing reeks of cold opportunistic calculation.

Let's look at these 3 basic facts:

1. The BBC is an obsessively politically correct bureaucracy. If someone who happens to belong to one of their pre-approved socio-economic-ethnic demographic groups says they were offended by something on the BBC the Beeb will bend over backwards to win their forgiveness.

2. Doctor Who is one of the BBC's biggest exports bringing in millions in sales to foreign networks as well as DVDs and merchandise.

3. The BBC is notorious for arranging lucrative sinecures with their myriad boards, commissions, and bureaucratic offices for people who provide some sort of political advantage for the BBC.

It's simple math, attack the BBC's biggest cash cow with the BBC's own liberal guilt and the BBC will have a nice little freak out. Fighting it too hard will only make the critics scream louder which makes the pale princes at the top of the BBC food chain feel bad about themselves so that's out of the question. This leaves BBC management two permissible options they must either plead guilty and cancel Doctor Who, losing all that sweet, sweet revenue, or save their money-maker by essentially buying off the critics.

I fully expect the authors of the damning tome to get well paid low work jobs at the BBC that have the word "Diversity" somewhere in the title.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1026: Random Drippings From The Brain Pan

SCRUTINIZE YOURSELF?

French actress Audrey Tautou told the UK Independent that she doesn't care to work in Hollywood. 


This is not because of any antipathy towards America, American films, or American filmmakers, quite the opposite is true. She says she loves American movies and working with Americans. What she can't stand, what keeps her holding Hollywood at a distance, is the constant and merciless scrutiny that Hollywood gives women's bodies.


She's right.

We've all seen it, people constantly harping on who looks fat, who looks too thin, and who has done something or wore something that keeps them from matching some sort of unattainable ideal without radical surgery that usually leaves them looking like someone wearing a leather mask that's supposed to be of someone attractive but it doesn't quite fit right.

Naturally, we feel the need to blame someone for this problem, and the usual suspect is something the academics like to call "The Male Gaze." The Male Gaze is an unconscious desire to feed men's unconscious desire to ogle and objectify women by assuming the narrative stance of a heterosexual male.

My first problem, is that the desire to ogle women is not totally unconscious in heterosexual men, but my second problem is that you can't blame Hollywood's treatment of women, especially the almost sadistic scrutiny they get in the media on men.

Look at where the most intense scrutiny occurs: The E! Network, home of that cackling harridan Joan Rivers who judges women's appearances all the time, tabloid newspapers, gossip web-sites & TV shows, and fashion magazines.

What do all those things have in common?

Their main audience is women.

Then there's the whole film/fashion/celebrity nexus. To be considered a "star" an actress has to get a lot of magazine covers, because too many of them need the hype to cover up their real box-office performance. Outside of a handful of magazines aimed at men, the bulk are targeted at women, and tightly linked to the fashion industry which has a standard of beauty that goes beyond Hollywood's traditional juvenile dementia to essentially turn women into glorified clothes hangers.

And I don't think it's going to get any better, in fact, I fear it's getting worse.

I recently heard a possibly apocryphal, but believable story of an actress who was in the range of unbelievably beautiful when she was a teen starlet in the 1980s. As a prank she put a picture of herself at 17 into a stack of head-shots of young actresses being considered for a CW type teen show for girls by a friend who was a casting agent. The casting agent saw the photo didn't recognize who it was and immediately said: "No way, too fat, too ethnic."

Is there a solution to this problem?

Yes, but it requires a change in the mindset not only of Hollywood, but of a certain segment of the audience as well.

You know who you are.

TRIM THAT TRAILER

Theatre owners would like shorter trailers so they can have a faster turnover in screenings. Studios are naturally hemming and hawing, but I have a suggestion to solve this problem. Take out all the stupid spoilers they put in trailers and they'll be naturally shorter.

It's bad enough that I usually guess correctly how a story is going to turn out, I don't need to have the few possible surprises blown by the trailer.

MENDES TO DO BOND AGAIN?

Skyfall did boffo box-office and got great reviews, and Sony/MGM would like Sam Mendes to jump straight back in and do the next Bond movie, even if it means delaying production. Some are even saying it's already a done deal.
If you ever think of recasting...

Personally, I think no one director should do consecutive Bond films. Part of what's kept the franchise vital over the years is that it's not wed completely to a single star or filmmaker, and it would be a mistake to start doing that now.

Let someone who isn't JJ Abrams, who is doing every other franchise, do it, then have Mendes back. It'll give everyone the breathing room they need to keep their creativity fresh, and force the other guy to bring his A-Game in attempt to top Mendes and Skyfall.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1025: Fall TV Preview- NBC


2013-14 NBC Schedule

(New programs in UPPER CASE)
MONDAY
8-10 PM – “The Voice”
10-11 PM – “THE BLACKLIST
The Premise: A master criminal nicknamed the "concierge" of crime turns himself into the FBI but will only talk to a certain FBI who, purely by coincidence, happens to be an attractive young woman. He's going to rat out associates while playing some sort of agenda of his own, expect the FBI chick to say: "You lied to me!" a lot.
TUESDAY
8-9 PM – “The Biggest Loser” (New Day and Time)
9-10 PM – “The Voice” (New time)
10-11 PM – “Chicago Fire” (New Day and Time)
WEDNESDAY
8-9 PM – “Revolution” (New Day and Time)
9-10 PM – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 PM – “IRONSIDE
The Premise: It's a remake of the Raymond Burr series about a senior police detective who is crippled by a sniper's bullet but continues to perplexing solve crimes from his wheelchair. Except this time instead of a heavy-set middle-aged Raymond Burr, Ironside will be played by the younger and fitter looking Blair Underwood, because the original show depended on the lead character's sex appeal.
THURSDAY
8-8:30 PM – “Parks and Recreation” (New time)
8:30-9 PM – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
The Premise: It's a wacky family comedy about a Latin family and an Anglo Family who are thrust together when their kids get married. 
A daring and edgy idea if it was 1974.
9-9:30 PM – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
The Premise: Sean Hayes plays a gay single father with a teenage daughter. While Hayes is a good comedic performer the writing is going to have to really snap, crackle, and pop to make it stand out from all the other family sitcoms and NBC's relative inability to sell shows.
9:30-10 PM – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW
The Premise: Michael J. Fox plays a local news anchor who returns to work after 5 years fighting Parkinson's Disease. While it's nice to see Fox doing comedy again, I will miss his recurring character as a manipulative lawyer on CBS's The Good Wife.
 10-11 PM – “Parenthood” (New Day and Time)
FRIDAY
8-9 PM – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 PM – “Grimm”
10-11 PM – “DRACULA
The venerable vampire is black, but this time he's sexy and got a douchey ironic moustache.
He's also on Friday night at 10 which means the network probably doesn't have much faith in a show they spent a lot of money to develop.
SATURDAY
Encore programming
SUNDAY
7:00-8:15 PM – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 PM – “NBC Sunday Night Football”
NBC MIDSEASON 2013-14 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE)
MONDAY
8-10 PM – “The Voice”
10-11 PM – “THE BLACKLIST

TUESDAY
8-9 PM – “The Voice”
9-9:30 PM – “ABOUT A BOY
The Premise: It's a sitcom based on a movie that was based on a novel by Nick Hornby about a womanizer, his neighbour, and the neighbour's son.
9:30-10 PM – “THE FAMILY GUIDE
The Premise: Don't know, don't care.
10-11 PM – “Chicago Fire”
WEDNESDAY
8-9 PM – “Revolution”
9-10 PM – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 PM – “IRONSIDE
THURSDAY
8-8:30 PM – “Parks and Recreation”
8:30-9 PM – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
9-9:30 PM – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
9:30-10 PM – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW
10-11 PM – “Parenthood”
FRIDAY
8-9 PM – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 PM – “Grimm”
10-11 PM – “CROSSBONES
The Premise: John Malkovich plays Edward Teach aka Blackbeard the Pirate. It's going to be rum, sodomy, and the lash in primetime.
SATURDAY
8-10 PM – Encore and specials programming
10-11 PM – “Saturday Night Live” (Encore)
SUNDAY
7-8 PM. – “Dateline NBC”
8-9 PM – “AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS
The Premise: Don't know, but I'll bet dollars to donuts it'll be hokey and involve a lot of people crying.
9-10 PM. – “BELIEVE
The Premise: An escaped convict must protect a girl with superpowers from the sinister forces that want to use them for sinister stuff. Liked it better when it was called Escape To Witch Mountain.
10-11 PM – “CRISIS
The Premise: A bunch of kids, including the President's son, are kidnapped and it's up to a plucky Secret Service agent to save them. I'm assuming they're going to come up with a new crisis for season 2, or the audience will get bored.
_________________________________
I'm also not seeing Hannibal in this listing, which pisses me off at NBC since it was the only NBC show outside of Community that I watched. It couldn't have possibly done worse than 30 Rock.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1024: Who's Laughing?

The folks at The Wrap are pondering the state of Hollywood movie comedy and they don't seem to confident. A lot of expected big budget blockbusters are under-performing despite tons of hype and more tonnage of money spent, and the comedies that do perform well at the box-office aren't doing the big business that their predecessors did not that long ago.



So what's up?

There are three possible reasons:

1. NATURAL CYCLES

Everything follows patterns and cycles. Sometimes those patterns and cycles are so complicated that our puny mortal minds are unable to grasp them. When we reach the end of a cycle and not know we can end up scratching our heads and furrowing our brows in a feeble attempt to understand why what we expected to happen didn't happen. 

The popularity of certain kinds of movies come and go. We can't say when they come and when they go, it involves a lot of blind luck and having the right film at the right place and time.

2. UNREAL EXPECTATIONS

If a film like the first Hangover comes out of nowhere and does big business the studio mindset is to immediately go bigger. Sometimes it works, but you can easily run into the law of diminishing returns. Costs go up, profit margins thin, and the unending demand to go bigger and louder strains the imagination of the creative team. You end up with a studio thinking that bigger movies will result in bigger returns ending up usually getting the opposite.

Then there's the overestimation of the star power of certain players. Tina Fey is a classic example. If you go solely by the media hype she gets you would probably think that she is the be-all-end-all of popular American comedy. Fey is talented, but she's not anywhere near as popular as Hollywood thinks she is. She's been in some modestly successful films, but her live action movies don't crack that precious $100 million mark that even relatively small studio films need to hit for the leads to be properly considered "movie stars." Her television show 30 Rock fared even worse with audiences somehow managing to stay on NBC for 7 seasons despite it being at or near the bottom of the ratings for its entire run. However, Hollywood tends to believe its own hype, and are then shocked to see her starring vehicle just disappear and be forgotten when they were fully expecting it to be a big hit and maybe snag a few award nominations.

3. NARROW IMAGINATIONS

Back in the old days when a team that worked as well as the Hangover trio was discovered they didn't necessarily jump into a sequel if they thought it would involve the flogging of a deceased equine in the concept department. 

They would look for other vehicles that the team could participate in. This meant that the creative-starring partnership wasn't wrapped up entirely in one franchise, and if that franchise started to under perform, it would invite unfavourable comparisons to other projects they might work together on.

But instead, they would aim for sequels, sequels, sequels. That's the sort of franchise they can wrap their little brains around.

Then there's the novelty factor. A joke always gets the biggest laugh the first time it's heard. Which is a long winded way of saying that key ingredient of successful comedy is a steady stream of new ideas and new talent. However, comedy in Hollywood seems to be dominated by several small cliques of elite "A-List" stars and their immediate social circle. There doesn't seem to be much independent comedy getting much play in theatres either, which means that there's the risk of a comedy talent drought when the current crop burns themselves out.

There's a lively comedy scene on the internet, but while some make work in the slightly more open and responsive field of television, the big screen has more or less ignored it so far.

And then there's the fourth reason...

4. TOO MUCH CRAP

For every big monster comedy hit, there were at least ten films as bad or almost as bad as...
So you can understand why the audience might be a little leery of trusting Hollywood's taste in comedy.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1023: Fall TV Preview: CBS

Time to take a gander at the Fall schedule for the Tiffany network CBS.


CBS FALL 2013-2014 SCHEDULE

(New programs in UPPER CASE; NS=New Spot)

MONDAY

8-8:30 PM – How I Met Your Mother

8:30-9 PM – WE ARE MEN 

The premise is about a guy gets dumped at the altar by the only woman he's ever loved and he moves into an apartment building populated with swinging divorcees. Lots of male bonding and the sort of chick-chasing humour you would probably associate with Two & A Half Men.


9-9:30 PM – 2 Broke Girls

9:30-10 PM – MOM

Looks like it's bet mostly on the charm of star Anna Faris who is making the more secure and lucrative leap from movies to television. It's a Chuck Lorre project, so the network will probably give it a chance because he is all powerful now.

10-11PM–HOSTAGES/INTELLIGENCE (Midseason)

Hostages is based on the premise that a prominent surgeon's family would be taken hostage by a super-genius FBI agent gone rogue because they want her to kill the President on the operating table. Too many holes in the premise, and they'll probably be dipping into the crazy-ass plot twists, like the family dog is the evil mastermind, by episode six when the main premise runs out of steam. (Plus the chief hostage-taker's name is "Duncan" and while that name does denote genius, it's offensive to have it plastered on the villain.)

Intelligence the mid-season replacement has two big marks against it in my book. It's about a spy with a chip in his head giving him the ability to surf for porn on the internet with his brain. The other big mark against it is that it's title is the same as Canada's Intelligence, which was probably the best crime/spy show ever made and was unfairly cancelled by the idiotic CBC.

TUESDAY

8-9 PM – NCIS

9-10 PM – NCIS: Los Angeles

10-11 PM – Person Of Interest (NS)

CBS's best show, and probably the best show at handling recurring and ongoing characters and plot-lines. Should be watched by anyone who enjoys a dose of paranoia with their action.

WEDNESDAY

8-9 PM – Survivor

9-10 PM – Criminal Minds

10-11 – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

THURSDAY

8-8:30 PM – The Big Bang Theory

8:30-9 PM – THE MILLERS

Looks like a good cast was kidnapped and forced to appear in a sitcom from the early 1990s.

Also I just can't bring myself to like Will Arnett.

9-9:30 PM – THE CRAZY ONES

Sarah Michelle Gellar plays an earnest business woman trying to run an ad agency with her mentally ill man-child father played by Robin Williams. Williams is returning to TV after he looked at all the shitty movies he's been making the last 15+ years.

9:30-10 PM – Two And A Half Men (NS)

10-11 PM – Elementary

FRIDAY


8-9 PM – Undercover Boss

9-10 PM – Hawaii Five-0 (NS)

10-11 PM – Blue Bloods

SATURDAY

8-8:30 PM – COMEDYTIME SATURDAY

Sitcom reruns!

8:30-9 PM – COMEDYTIME SATURDAY


More sitcom reruns.

9-10 PM – Crimetime Saturday

Crime show reruns.

10-11 PM – 48 Hours

SUNDAY

7-8 PM – 60 Minutes

8-9 PM – The Amazing Race

9-10 PM – The Good Wife

10-11 PM – The Mentalist

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

You Asked For It 2: Electric Boogaloo!

My reader Q&A has got me some other Qs.


Nate Winchester asked... 
Do you think some folks could start making cheaper content to be spread out there? (and/if some are already doing it on blip) 
Question 2: With all this revolution, what do you think could be the minimum spent to get a movie/tv show to "look" decent enough without that infamous "in the basement" style a lot of cheap movies have? (looking at you '80s)

Making the content is relatively easy thanks to new technology.

Getting it out there, especially online, is also relatively easy, also thanks to new technology.

The tricky part is getting noticed amid all the noise so that your work can start paying for itself.

A good illustration are the new YouTube channels that make original content. There are some entertaining shows being made, but they seem to be always outdone in viewer numbers by a video of a cat chasing a laser pointer.

Getting it into theatres and on television has similar problems.

Distributors, exhibitors, and networks want you to either have a track record that they can understand, or flash around a lot of money to show that you mean business and can consistently provide them with product that will deliver bums in seats.

People think crowd-sourcing will revolutionize entertainment models. It might, but the trends seem to indicate something different. Some may mock rich celebrities doing Kickstarter campaigns, but with so many projects asking for money, you're probably going to need a rich celebrity involved in your project just to get the notice you need to raise the money.

In short, making it is relatively easy, all you need is money and time, getting it out there is also relatively easier than it used to be, but being noticed above the static is a positively herculean task.

Your second question about exactly how much it takes for a production to look professional?

The short answer is somewhere between 50¢ and $100,000,000.

The long answer is that it all depends on two important factors:

1. Talent. How good is your crew? Especially the cinematographer? Can your producer & production manager make dead presidents cry by squeezing everything they can get out of every dollar? Can your prop, costume, and special effects people deliver for the money you have? If the answer to all these questions is "Yes" then you have a chance.

2. Time. The chief thing a budget buys a production is time. For a low budget production to look professional you must not only buys enough time to do it properly, you have to manage that time right to get the most out of the resources you have.

You asked two very specific questions and I gave you two very vague answers.  

                                    Ain't I a stinker?