Several Cool Things...

First, we continue to make good progress on the finishing touches for "Killing Down".

This past weekend we got the sound mixed up to just over the 1 hour mark. Not bad. We've got roughly 45 minutes of the movie left to go. And, on the color correction side of things - we have set looks for just about every major scene. Now, we have to go in and cut and paste the looks throughout the film and then tweak the individual shots as needed. I'd say we're roughly half-way done with this.

So, if all goes well I hope to have everything done in about 3 weeks.

On to other things...

I was reading on the CinemaTech blog today several interesting stories about Hollywood: It's future with digital distribution, DVDs and the "star system" (some of the Tom Cruise/Paramount deal aftermath).

Here's a link to the digital distro and DVD story.

The digital distribution stuff is exciting for indies, but I don't think we're really close yet for it to be a viable (or successful) means of distributing content - except for only the most tech geek among us - and I'm talking feature films here by the way.

Why? Well, a lot of reasons. Mainly bandwidth, but also DRM (digital rights management or copyright issues), storage space, and cost. To download a DVD quality version of a movie is going to be around 4 gigs (or so) of data. Even with the fastest connections that going to be an overnight download. And then you have to have the space to store the files. Your averge joe consumer does not have a terabyte's worth of storge like I do. Then the costs are actually fairly expensive - especially when you consider if you bought (or rented) a DVD you'd get all the extras - and most digital downloads I've seen are just the movie. And the last thing for me is who really wants to spend two hours watching a movie on your computer? Unless you're traveling or commuting, this is not the best way.

So until you can download an HD quality (or even DVD quality) movie from the web and then play it on your expensive flat screen TV, digital downloads of feature films won't take off.

Am I saying I'm against digital downloading of movies? Heck no. I'm actually a huge proponent of it. But, I just don't think it will be a "normal" way of renting or buying a movie for several years to come - if not longer. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

Now on to the "star system" in Hollywood...

It's long been known (and assumed) that a star helps a movie out financially. I don't argue that point. As a matter of fact, I completely agree with it. In my own recent film I purposely sought several regonizable actors just for this reason (among others of course - like they were right for the part).

But there is a very interesting article in the NY Times contradicting the idea of the "star system" - and I must say a lot of it makes sense...

Hollywood, where the star system was invented, is not wholly dependent on celebrities: the list of biggest-grossing movies in history is dominated by movies like “Shrek 2,” “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” and the “Star Wars” series, which were not star-driven. But the industry still places an enormous importance on superstar power based on a straightforward fact: On average, movies that have big names starring in them make more money at the box office than movies that do not.

“Movies with stars are successful not because of the star, but because the star chooses projects that people tend to like,” said Arthur S. De Vany, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California, Irvine, who has written extensively about the economics of moviemaking. “It’s a movie that makes a star.”

In other words, while a person will go to a Bruce Springsteen concert because the artist is, indeed, Bruce Springsteen, the success of “The Matrix” had to do with many things other than its star, Keanu Reeves.

“Movie industry executives keep this perception that stardom is a formula for success, but they don’t measure it,” Mr. Eliashberg said. “They resist using analytical methods for all sorts of reasons, from being uncomfortable with numbers to the argument that this is a creative industry and not a business.”

Mr. De Vany and other economists point out that many factors contribute to the success of a movie — like a big budget, having a G or PG rating, opening on a large number of screens and whether it is a sequel, among others.

“Stars help to launch a film. They are meant as signals to create a big opening,” he said. “But they can’t make a film have legs.”

Mr. Ravid, the Rutgers professor, suggests that stars serve as insurance for executives who fear they could be fired for green-lighting a flop. “If they hire Julia Roberts and the film flops, they can say ‘Well, who knew?’ ” said Mr. Ravid.

I really like the line, “It’s a movie that makes a star.” I think that is right - but only for their first big hit. After that, they are the star. Especially if you're a Tom Cruise or George Clooney who basically plays themself in every movie.

In the end, I do honestly believe the story is the movie no matter who is in it. But, the thing is, how many times has someone ask you about a movie that you maybe hadn't heard of and the first thing you say is, "Who's in it?" That statement alone says more than I can about movie stars and their impact on the success of a movie.

Oh, last but not least, there's a nice little article in of all things Popular Mechanics about what Hollywood shoud fear most...

The entertainment industry's real threat isn't piracy, it's backyard Spielbergs armed with digital moviemaking gear.

Again, it's a descent article, but to me the main thing Hollywood should fear is the immense variety of (homemade) digital videos on the web from places like You Tube that are cheap entertainment sources and are distractions (and competition) to spending money and time at the movies.

I really don't necessarily think that Hollywood should be or is afraid of everyone who can buy a camcorder and some cheap editing gear. I mean, should Eric Clapton be afraid of everyone who buys a guitar?

-Blake


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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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