Category Archives: Inspiration

Susan Boyle & Reordering the Measure of Beauty

If you haven’t seen Susan Boyle’s performance from a recent “Britain’s Got Talent”, I recommend clicking here to check it out.  It is a remarkable and stunning clip.

I absolutely love Lisa Schwarzbaum’s commentary on it over on the Entertainment Weekly PopWatch blog:

In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging — the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts — the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective from time to time.

Thank you Susan Boyle for reordering the measure of beauty for us this week.

50 Incredible Stop Motion Videos

Stop motion filmmaking has been around since the advent of moving pictures (often as some of the first visual effects).  One of the things I love about it is that anyone can do it – all you need is a camera and some time; but it can also be incredibly moving and remarkable when done well.  I saw this collection of “50 Incredible Stop Motion Videos” at Smashing Magazine the other day and promptly got lost in watching one after the other.

Zombie Haiku

In anticipation of my zombie movie nearing completion, I’ve got a whole bunch of wonderful zombie-related posts for you.  The first is this brilliant little video featuring a zombie reciting haiku poems about eating brains while another zombie plays the saxophone.

ht to Boing Boing

The Geography of Action Sequences

A little while back, there was a great post over at Mark Kennedy’s blog all about using geography well in action sequences.  He uses the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones and Marion try to commandeer the Nazi plane as an example.  Here’s a brief excerpt as he sets up the importance of geography in action sequences:

Geography is an important but rarely used device that is the key to making any action sequence work. No action sequence will have any real tension to it unless we know exactly where everything is at all times: where the hero is in relation to his objective, how close or far away he is from his goal, what obstacles are at play and where they are in relation to the hero in the scene.

I tried to keep this in mind while writing and planning this month’s film.  It was far harder then I imagined it would be and I feel like I’m learning a lot re-reading Mark’s post having just shot an action sequence and now reflecting on that sequence as I cut the film.  I think I succeeded in some scenes and fell short in others.  I know at times during the pre-production and especially the production itself, I spent more time focusing on what action was going to be taking place and how we were going to shoot it in a way that the action is communicated then I did on how the locations and individual shots informed the audience as to where the protagonist was in space.  Knowing where he is in space (as the above quote mentions) is key to building a stronger tension within the sequence.  I feel like at times, that tension is a lot stronger then others and I think it directly relates to how the geography of the sequence was (or wasn’t) clearly set-up and communicated.

Now then, I’m not trying to knock this film before it’s finished and I’m not trying to say that it’s terrible and that you shouldn’t expect to enjoy it.  I’m actually pretty proud of it and can’t wait for it to be done so I can share it with you.  Rather, I was more just taking a moment to reflect on the film and the thought-process I took in planning and producing it (in terms of using geography as a story-telling tool); and look at it with a critical eye.

Top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts

I saw this video a few months ago on Marko’s blog and was just stoked on it.  Seriously, there are few greater action stars then Jackie Chan.  Not only do his movies contain fantastically choreographed fights, stunts, and gags, but he’s made his career from being known for doing all of them himself.  While I’ve enjoyed some of his more recent Hollywood movies, you really need to go back to his early Hong Kong days to see him perform his most insane and death-defying stunts.  That’s where this video spends most of its time.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a great Jackie Chan flick, go pick up The Legend of Drunken Master.  It’s one of his best.

Amazing Animation: Blu – MUTO

The street artist Blu consistently turns out incredible work that is all at once creative, unique, detailed, and often painted in a fairly large scale (with some paintings spanning multiple stories). Lately, he’s been experimenting with creating animation by painting the “frames” of an animation directly onto walls. He just released a video that uses this technique and takes it to a whole different level. I am in awe of the time and effort he undoubtedly put in over several months to create this.

ht to Wooster Collective

Pangea Day

Pangea Day is a remarkable idea. It’s happening this Saturday, May 10th all around the world. The goal is to have a global film festival over the course of one day. There are eight official Pangea Day sites along with thousands of user-organized screenings.

From the Pangea Day website:

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it’s easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that – to help people see themselves in others – through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 – Pangea Day – sites in Cairo, Dharamsala, Kigali, London, New York City, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv will be videoconferenced live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.

The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

I’m excited to see which films they choose and to how the festival turns out. Here’s a great promotional video that they released a little while back.

Sundance Global Shorts

A little while back, the Sundance Institute asked six influential independent filmmakers to each produce an original short film intended to be viewed on the small screen of a mobile phone. They’ve put them on their website and you can watch them all here.

My favorite is A Slip In Time by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (who directed Little Miss Sunshine). It’s an amazing slow-motion study of slapstick comedy. They take a lot of the classic silent-era movie slapstick gags like getting hit in the face with a pie, slipping on a banana peel, etc. and shoot them with a high-speed camera. The results are beautiful and whimsical.

Altogether, I think my order of favorite to least favorite of the five films is:

  1. A Slip In Time
  2. La Revolucion de Iguodala
  3. Reno
  4. Learning to Skateboard
  5. Los Viajes de King Tiny

So if you get a chance, swing by the Sundance site and check out the shorts.

TED Talks: J.J. Abrams

Every year, the TED conference brings together all sorts of brilliant thinkers and practitioners to share and discuss “ideas worth spreading” (primarily about Technology, Entertainment, and Design). In fact, it just happened last week in Monterey, CA.

This is a talk given last year by J.J. Abrams, the producer, writer, and director behind Alias, Lost, Cloverfield, and the upcoming Star Trek movie (ok, so I’m not a Trekkie by any means, but the teaser trailer for Star Trek is pretty cool. Check it out here). I’m a huge fan of Lost, so I was naturally intrigued to hear what he had to say; and it’s good stuff. The talk is called, “Mystery in a Box” and yes, it was an influence on the writing of my January film.

He talks about a “Magic Mystery Box” that he purchased a magic store years ago, has never opened, and will never open because the mystery of what’s inside the box is more interesting than anything that might actually be in the box. He talks about the beginnings of his love for mystery, making Lost, stories in films as mystery boxes, and what films are really about in terms of investment in characters (as opposed to the action or effects they get promoted for).

Link to the talk.