The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstien of the LA Times has a really good article (I think you have to register to read it, but not sure) on Hollywood and it's slow reaction to change (i.e. technology)...

Unfortunately, when it comes to embracing new technology, most people in showbiz are in deep denial. In his recent state of the industry speech at ShoWest, Motion Picture Assn. of America chief Dan Glickman offered the tired bromide of a "Got Milk"-style campaign to promote theater attendance. National Assn. of Theater Owners chief John Fithian gloated over the failure of "misguided experiments" in same-day release of movies on DVD and in theaters.

But perhaps the worst combination of denial and hypocrisy was on display at the Oscars, when Academy President Sid Ganis touted the theater experience, saying, "I bet you that none of the artists nominated tonight have ever finished a shot in a movie, stood back and said, 'That's going to look great on DVD.' " Ganis is a genuinely decent man, but it's hard to imagine a more egregious instance of Hollywood's "Do as I say, not as I do" elitism. No institution has more fiercely protected its right to watch movies on DVD than the academy, whose members are treated to Oscar screeners every holiday season, while we get a lecture about how we should settle for endless pre-show ads and overpriced popcorn.


I've talked about this on many ocassions and agree with Goldstien's premise from the article and that is - You've got to embrace the future.

Like it or not, this is a generation trained to access media when and how it wants it, not when it best fits the studio's profit picture.

Good read.

-Blake

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Speilberg on Digital Cinema

TIME.com has some good comments from Steven Speilberg on current digital cinema trends and what he believes the future holds for film. A few notable blurbs...

"I'm too nostalgic to make my movies digitally. I'm the last person in Hollywood who cuts his film on film. I still love cutting on film."

"I think someday, when digital technology mainstreams, films will be broadcast to satellites from one transmission depot and then be beamed down into thousands of venues, which will save hundreds of millions of dollars when you combine every studio that releases movies on film, that have to pay those laboratory costs. "

"Audience members are only concerned about the story, the concept, the bells and whistles and the noise that a popular film starts to make even before it's popular. So audiences will not be drawn to the technology; they'll be drawn to the story. And I hope it always remains that way."

"I have to go on record saying that I am not in favor of a DVD coming out the same day as the film opens, because I really believe that the average home system is far inferior to a movie house. And a lot of it is the social magic of going out to the movies, seeing it with a lot of people you have never met and sharing an experience. I feel there is no substitute for going out to the movies. There is nothing like it. "

I had no idea he still CUTS HIS MOVIES ON FILM USING A FLATBED. That is completely unbelievable to me that one of the greatest filmmakers of our time has not embraced digital non-linear editing. It's been around for over 10 years! And, once you edit that way you'll never go back. This is of course one of the reasons why I think Hollywood is being so slow to adapt to new technology... they're afraid and/or just too used to doing it the "same old way".

Read the entire TIME piece by clicking here.

-Blake

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More Shooting J.R.

MSNBC picked up on the "Shoot J.R. In Dallas" campaign - now if just Twentieth Century Fox will...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11904069/site/newsweek/

-Blake

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Amateurs Take Control of Online Entertainment

While I'm not necessarily interested in re-mixing the movie trailer of "Top Gun" into "Brokeback Gun" (although that could be funny - have you seen "Brokeback To The Future"? Very funny stuff at YouTube) - I am interested in the ever-growing online community's appetite for video content. With places like YouTube and Google Video among others, the sheer number of folks out there watching stuff is honestly unbelievable.

At the IndieWire blog I found a good article, here are a few excerpts that caught my eye...

YouTube serves 30 million videos a day. Three-thousand files are uploaded daily. They have 5 million unique users per day, and, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, they had 9 million unique users for the month of February.

Is that not crazy? Can you imagine the exposure for content on YouTube? Evidently Dimension Films has...

...Dimension Films have begun to upload trailers and commercials. Currently, Scary Movie 4's trailer has been seen 369,142 times in the three days since it's been up, so it appears that the Weinstein Co. is reaching its target audience.

I've been playing with the idea of posting the "Killing Down" trailer on YouTube and after reading this I'm thinking, why not?

Read the entire article by Jerry Weinstein, it's definitely interesting.

-Blake

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"Bubble" and "Waterborne" Update

Ann Thompson from the Hollywood Reporter has an article on the "success" of "Bubble" with it's day-and-date release strategy and also "Waterborne" - the first movie release via Google Video.
It depends on who you talk to as to whether either were a success or not. I personally think they both were if not only from an awareness and informational point-of-view (and also them being the guinea pigs).

Looks like "Waterborne" got screwed by some calculating error on Google's part (ehhhh, yeah, sounds familiar - like what you'd hear from "regular" distributors). So, it didn't do that much business - although not bad for an unknown movie.

And I have stated before that the main reason "Bubble" didn't do more business was because it was not a good movie. In the end, that's all that matters no matter how you're distributing the film...

Check out the article:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/columns/risky_business.jsp

-Blake

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Mark Cuban on Internet TV, Etc.

Mark Cuban has several new articles on his blog that are worth reading.

The first one is on the future of TV on the Internet - a subject I'm very interested in. He believes one day the Internet will be they way we watch TV, but not anytime soon. Why? Because of bandwidth...

http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000173073592/

Another good piece is on Digital Rights Management (i.e. copy protection such as Apple uses with iTunes, etc.). He actually suggests cracking the DRM and making back-ups of the files so they will play in the future...

http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000850073598/

And lastly, he has a nice piece on "Success & Motivation" that is not directly related to filmmaking or distribution - but it is about running your own business, which a lot of us (filmmakers) do...

http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000527073594/

Now I'm going to try and dry out for a while. If you've seen the news over the past day or so (or if you live in north Texas - Dallas specifically) we got drenched in rain. I got trapped over by White Rock Lake in east Dallas and couldn't get home. All the low lying areas were flooded. Cars were swamped. Some places had up to 7 or 8 feet of water. At least one lady drowned.

I ended up spending about 2 hours sitting in a Chilli's waiting out the storm (and the rain really never stopped until today). The drive home after that wasn't so bad - but of course I had increased my courage with 3 scooners of beer. :)

-Blake

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Can This Man Save The Movies? (Again?)

"Can This Man Save The Movies? (Again?)" is an excellent article from TIME magazine featuring George Lucas and other prominient filmmakers arguing both sides of the future of digital cinema...

Here's a magic glimpse into the future of movies. A big blockbuster opens. Some people see it in sparkling digital clarity on wraparound screens in ultraswank theaters; others watch the same movie the same day on an 8-ft.-wide screen in their home media center; still others get it transmitted instantly through their computer, iPod or cell phone. It's a looking-glass scenario that could happen in a future near you--if the people who finance and exhibit Hollywood movies want it to.

We are at the bright dawn of the movies' digital age, but the Hollywood establishment still has its shades drawn. In the Oscar show at the Kodak Theatre (named after a company that is crucially invested in the film-stock status quo), the most popular live-action digital movie in history, George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, won no awards, not even one for technical achievement. The year's boldest, most innovative digital experiment, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City, got no nominations at all.

The Oscar revelers seemed unaware that movies have two big problems: the way they're made and the way they're shown.

This is just a small taste of the article. Definitely read it if you're interested in this topic at all. It's really, really well done and very informative.

-Blake

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I Wake Up Screening

This is the title of a new book coming out end of this month that is being praised (pun intended) as the "New Indie Bible".

From Amazon's description:

The explosion of independent cinema over the past fifteen years has created thousands of would-be filmmakers, all dreaming of becoming the next Quentin Tarantino or Steven Soderbergh—and all working away like beavers, making thousands of independent films. But what do they do once the movie is made? In I Wake Up Screening, powerhouse authors John Anderson and Laura Kim tell emerging filmmakers how to (and how not to) get their movies talked about, written about, sold, and seen. The authors’ advice is supported by insightful interviews with more than sixty top industry insiders, all offering priceless behind-the-scenes tips and tricks. Making a film isn’t the end anymore—it’s only the beginning. I Wake Up Screening can make the difference between a movie that gets into theaters and one that ends up on the floor of the director’s bedroom closet.

About the authors:

John Anderson, chief film critic at Newsday, is a past member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival as well as a member and two-time past chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, a member of the National Society of Film Critics, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Laura Kim is the executive vice president of marketing and publicity for Warner Independent Films. Previously the senior vice president for the publicity firm mPRm, she has worked on such films as American Splendor, Dirty Pretty Things, The Pianist, Being John Malkovich, March of the Penguins, and Good Night and Good Luck.

You can pre-order it on Amazon.com or I actually found it cheaper on OverStock.com.

Sounds pretty promising. I actually just pre-ordered a copy for myself!

-Blake

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ClickStar and Morgan Freeman

From a press release:

ClickStar, Inc., a digital entertainment venture founded by Revelations Entertainment, the production company headed by Morgan Freeman and business partner Lori McCreary, with investment from Intel Corporation, will release its first feature film, "10 Items Or Less", starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega ("Spanglish").

This precedent-setting effort addresses growing consumer desire for premium entertainment and marks the anticipated launch of the ClickStar broadband entertainment service later this year.

The A-list film will debut on ClickStar within weeks of its national theatrical release.

ClickStar's core mission is to become the online destination for premium content, designed to give filmmakers a vehicle to connect directly to their fans with new ways of experiencing home entertainment in a very affordable and flexible way. ClickStar's service plans to offer first-run, pre-DVD-release films and artist-created entertainment channels as part of its online services. ClickStar's service will target millions of broadband consumers worldwide using Intel® Viiv technology-based PCs.

Typical ClickStar users will be able to enjoy full screen high-fidelity films conveniently on their big screen TV from the comfort of their homes or on-the-go through laptop PCs.

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini made the announcement during his afternoon keynote at the 2006 Consumer Electronic Show. As a strong endorsement for this ground breaking service, Otellini, Freeman and ClickStar Chairman Lori McCreary were joined by Hollywood filmmakers Danny DeVito, Tom Shadyac, Tom Hanks and Brad Silberling.

"The announcement of "10 Items or Less" and the plan to deliver it through the broadband into the living room just weeks after the movie's theatrical release marks a key milestone in the vision we outlined just two short years ago at CES", said Otellini. "We are excited to bring this vision to reality, and even more committed to making premium, first-run content available to consumers in the comfort of their own digital home theaters."

Freeman said, "Our collaboration with Intel continues to grow, and ClickStar with Viiv technology offers a huge opportunity for filmmakers to reach audiences worldwide. With "10 items or less" and ClickStar's service, we can now offer film fans a choice - watch it in the theatre or anytime they want in the comfort of their home."

Brad Silberling said, "For those who won't make it to a movie theater, it's a chance to enjoy a uniquely intimate viewing experience - an experience that's as intimate as the story itself."

"10 Items or Less" is a co-production between Reveal Entertainment and Revelations Entertainment and will be produced by McCreary, Silberling and Julie Lynn. The film begins shooting next month in Los Angeles (it is shooting now).

Go to ClickStar's website to watch a short video featuring Morgan Freeman (it's on the upper right hand side of the page). He talks about the vision of ClickStar.

It's interesting because he speaks of legal movie downloads as combating piracy and compares the film side of things to the music industry (and how they screwed up until iTunes came along) - and he makes some very good points.

This info came out in January, but I hadn't followed it much until recently. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

-Blake

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Legal Movie Downloads

This is a continuation of my previous entry on Digital Cinema - only this is kind of the opposite.

Scott Kirshner (from CinemaTech) has written an article for the Boston Globe entitled "Downloads Enter Hollywood's Mainstream" where he talks about all the various entities either currently utilizing Internet movie downloads or ones that are going to be doing them soon. It's a nice article...

The idea of digital delivery is starting to gain momentum, as studios make more of their movies available to Internet download services like CinemaNow, Movielink, and Vongo. Two other big players could jump in, too. AppleInsider.com, says the company may be considering adding movies to its iTunes Music Store, and last week Amazon.com was reported to be in talks with Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. about offering their movies on the site. Moviebeam, a start-up funded by Disney, Cisco Systems, and Intel, started selling a set-top box earlier this year that can store 100 new releases, and will soon support delivery of movies over the Net.

He also talks about Morgan Freeman's new movie "10 Items or Less" that will be released theatrically and via Internet download (produced by Clickstar and Intel).

-Blake

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Digital Cinema Revolution Begins

As the movie theater industry's annual convention kicks off Monday in Las Vegas, the conversion to digital cinema is again on the agenda.

But this year, instead of more talk about digital's promising future, there actually will be an opportunity to assess its practical, real-world applications at ShoWest.

With technical specifications in hand, business models under development, studios coming aboard and theater circuits making plans, 2006 is shaping up as the year digital cinema finally is ready for its close-up. Just don't expect the rollout to take place overnight.

"After years of planning, developing technical specifications and considering business models, the digital-cinema revolution begins in 2006," said John Fithian, president of the National Assn. of Theater Owners. "All of those three components have come together, and deals are being negotiated now between theater companies and equipment and financial entities. It will take several years for this transition to occur, but 2006 certainly marks the beginning of the transition."

This is from a good article at ZDNet (thanks to my step-brother Matt for sending me the link). I'm very glad to see major theater chains and the major studios moving forward with this (they've got to do something to improve the theater experience, and this is a good start). The only people I'm sure that don't like this progress are the folks at Kodak.

Sorry Kodak, but, the times they are a changin'...
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6048828.html?tag=zdfd.newsfeed

Very informative piece. Definitely take a moment to check it out.

-Blake

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2006 SXSW Film Festival Reports

Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to SXSW this year (fest is currently happening), although I might make a one-day trip to Austin on Tuesday for an unrelated gig (possibly shooting an interview down there).

Anyway, for some really good reporting from the panels and a few film reviews you need to check out Mike Curtis' blog at www.hdforindies.com. He's posting some great stuff!

A couple of the highlights for me are notes he took on a distribution panel with Todd Wagner (and all his cronies at Landmark, 2929 Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, etc.) and another panel discussion with Peter Bart the editor of Variety.

SXSW has steadily grown over the past few years to be one of the definite top tier film festivals in the USA. I'd say it's getting very close to Sundance prowess now - although not quite as prestigious (or pretentious) and not as many "deals" made with distributors - but it is a really good festival.

I'm going next year for sure with or without a project to promote.

-Blake

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First "Real World" HDV Editing Gig

Some are claiming that HDV is to DV what DV was to Beta SP. In other words, a cheaper, yet (sometimes) better acquisition format. I'm not sure I agree... just yet.

HDV has been around for about two years or so with different flavors from different vendors popping up all over the place. JVC was really the first player with their one-chip consumer HDV camera - then Sony came on board with their consumer three-chip camera - shortly followed by their prosumer camera. Since then pretty much everyone has an HDV camera on the market, except for Panasonic who doesn't buy into the HDV codec scheme of "inter-frame" compression (they're new offering is DVCProHD, which is "real" HD just like the Varicam shoots).

I have shot with the new JVC HDV camera and really liked how the camera felt - it was like a "mini-Betacam" or similar feeling camera. It rested well on your shoulder for excellent ENG or documentary style shooting - unlike the other "handycam" style cameras that make your arm tired, etc...

So, what does this have to do with my first HDV editing gig?

Well, besides giving you a little background on the format, and telling you my limited experience with it - I wanted to mention how I really liked the JVC camera and compare that to their HDV deck, which I now have decided I HATE.

The deck basically doesn't work with Avid (my editing platform of choice). Not sure about Final Cut Pro or other NLEs, but it does not like the Avid.

We tried capturing into Xpress Pro and into an Adrenaline - no luck with either system. We can see the footage and play the footage into the system for a moment or two, then the deck stops. We also have no deck control either via Firewire or RS-422. We even tried capturing the footage into an Adrenaline through a Miranda converting the HDV signal to HD - making the footage go through the HD-SDI connection, and still had no luck.

We definitely think it is a JVC issue and not an Avid one - although I have said all along that HDV shooting is far ahead of the software to edit it on. HDV is just MPEG 2 video. This format was not created as an acquisition format. It's what DVDs use. It's what many broadcasters use to transmit their TV signal. It really is NOT a good format to shoot with. BUT, it is cheap and looks pretty darn good, actually far better than it has any right to. So, it's going to be around a while (although tape is rapidly disappearing, which would help with our capture problems!).

The only way we could get the JVC HDV footage into the Avid was via the CAMERA. And I hate capturing from a camera for several reasons, but mainly because it's bad on the heads. We also couldn't batch capture from the camera (and again, you wouldn't want to really anyway). But the worst thing was if you captured more than a four or so minute long clip the audio would slowly slip out of synch. This sucks! We found this out the hard way and had to recapture two entire hour long tapes - then the audio actually slipped again on some of the new clips. So, instead of capturing that again, I simply synched them by hand. That sucked too!

I don't have any real experience with the Sony or Canon 1080i flavor of HDV and capturing. But, I have used the Sony deck and it "talks" to the Avid nicely. Why didn't we use it? Well, the JVC camera shoots 720p and the Sony deck will play it back, but only through the analog component outputs - NOT the Firewire port.

The producer of this project is probably going to return the JVC deck. What he ended up doing was renting a Panasonic HD deck - transferring the HDV tapes with timecode to it - then editing the show in true HD in the Adrenaline. Bad thing is there were 40 HDV tapes at an hour each to dub! This not only took a long time to do, but it costs a ton for tapestock and deck rental.

I hope to see some software upgrades at NAB this year for all platforms editing HDV. I gotta believe it can be done, but with my experience it's just not quite there yet.

So, just beware before you jump head first into a project or make a purchase of any HDV gear - or really any new gear period. I can't stress enough to test, test, test (thank goodness none of this project was on my dime).

I tell ya, the good ole' days of Betacam don't sound so bad to me right now.

-Blake

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"Killing Down" ADR, Music, Etc.

Last Thursday I did the first of several ADR sessions with the actors that we need to replace or add dialogue with. For you non-filmmakers this is also called "looping".

The actor watches a screen with the edited scene on it and hears via headphones the original dialogue - then it's played back again, only this time three "pops" are heard and where the fourth would fall they say their lines.

It can be a tedious process I assure you. Especially when the dialogue is on-camera and not off. Off-camera stuff is fairly easy, but the on-camera not only needs to sound the same - but it has to sync with the original. There is software that helps with this (it actually manipulates the wave form to match the original), but it's best to get it as close as possible, then rely on the software.

Why are we doing this? For three main reasons:

1. We're replacing dialogue that was too "noisy" or was recorded too low or off-mic (sometimes a plane might fly over when shooting or an actor turns away from the mic).

2. We are adding some dialogue to make scenes play better. This is done a lot - you add a line from a character who is off-camera to help push the narrative or explain something.

3. We are also doing a "TV version" for future distribution, so anytime there is profanity we're replacing it with a "safe" word. This is challenging too because a descent chunk of the dialogue is in Spanish (and I don't know a cuss word from a friendly salutation). Luckily our ADR team (and all the sound team really) is fluent in Spanish.

Again, this is tough work and often you don't get the exact same performance - which can suck - but nothing is worse than hearing noisy ambience in the background or having ambient changes between cuts of two characters talking.

On the flip side though, sometimes you can improve (or change) an actor's performance by having them loop some lines. I've found sometimes something you thought sounded good on set doesn't sound so good in the dark editing suite - so you have them do some looping.

On the music side of things, I've listened to cues from most of the first two reels - and it's sounding great. Our composer really has a feel for the movie and the stylized sounds we need for the narrative. The music is also directly related to the sound design. They are both critical elements to the story - much more so than any other film I've done so far. When you see the finished film you'll understand (and I hope you get to see it).

Speaking of seeing the film... I hope to have a date soon for the premiere in Dallas. Still working out a few details, but I'll post info as soon as it's firm.

I just hope we get everything done in time for the Cannes film market in May...

-Blake

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Shoot JR In Dallas

The "Shoot JR in Dallas" Campaign kicked off today at Dallas City Hall - March 8, 2006

Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO, Phillip Jones, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Dallas Film Commission Director, Janis Burklund announced the new "Shoot JR in Dallas" campaign to help raise funds for the DFW Production Fund today at City Hall.

The grassroots movement will help create private support in hopes to attract more television and film projects to the area, starting off with the upcoming "Dallas" feature film. In attendance and showing their support were numerous city councilmembers, City Manager, Mary Suhm and other city officials.

Check out the merchandise and see how you can help! Go the website at www.filmdfw.com and click on "Shoot JR in Dallas" on the home page.

The film commission is constantly being asked by supporters "How can we help?"

Here's how!

- Help us spread the word.
- Purchase "Shoot JR in Dallas!" bumper stickers, hats and t-shirts for a nominal charge on our website www.filmdfw.com. The money raised will be applied toward the DFW Production Incentive Fund.
- In addition, a donation form is provided on the site.
- It won't take the place of state funding - that's critical to our short-term and long-term success. But it will help. And grassroots support is very important for visibility of the cause.

My thoughts...

I'm glad to see the City of Dallas working in conjunction with the Dallas Film Commission. Our state leaders have really dropped the ball in recent years on creating incentives for movies (especially big Hollywood ones) to shoot in Texas.

If you didn't know, there is talk about shooting the new "Dallas" movie IN CANADA. Yeah, that's right. Can you imagine JR and Bobby drinking Molson??? I hope this campaign helps!

-Blake

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Mike Curtis Is Alive

I have proof that Mike Curtis is actually living (Who is Mike Curtis you ask? He is the blogger from HD for Indies that has been M.I.A. for about three weeks or more. Some readers at his blog were just about to send out a search party...). :)

He posted a comment on the FresHDV blog yesterday! I just read it this morning. Evidently he's been buried in a job for a film that is premiering at SXSW this Sunday. No word on what the film is called, but it sounds like it was shot on Mini DV and he did an HD uprez, etc. on it.

I'll look forward to hearing about the project soon, because Mike says he'll be back to blogging in the near future (my guess is after SXSW). Very cool. I'm glad he's coming back.

-Blake

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Hello Apple and Yahoo (more VoD competition)

And here's another player in the new world of Internet VoD... this time it's a fairly small, unknown company called AOL. Maybe you've heard of them?

http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/03/technology/aol.reut/?cnn=yes

-Blake

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Oscar Thoughts

Here are some of my thoughts about this year's Oscar broadcast...

1. The Host - I thought Jon Stewart did a descent job for a first time host. I liked how the show started with the bits of the previous hosts, but then the first part of his monologue was pretty flat and I felt he was losing the audience. He did get better though and I laughed several times, especially when he started to engage and address actual folks in the crowd. I bet he comes back again.

2. Best Song - So lemme get this straight... you're telling me that out of ALL the movies made last year that these were the three BEST songs - and there were only three? Not sure I get that... and to top it off Three 6 Mafia wins for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp"??? Are you kidding me? And btw, I actually like the song. "Hustle & Flow" was one of the actual movies I saw, but is it really the BEST SONG OF THE YEAR?? No, absolutely not. To be honest I liked "Whoop That Trick" better from that movie, but it wasn't best song caliber either. What we have is a bunch of older (mostly white) people trying to be "dope" or "cool" or "hip" to the "kids" and get them interested in the Oscars. I think it backfired and made the Best Song category kind of a joke. Nothing against Three 6 Mafia - they did definitely liven up the show and their song was good- but it and their acceptance speech would have been much better at the MTV Video Awards.

3. The Host (again) - And I loved Jon Stewart's note of Martin Scorsese ZERO OSCARS and Three 6 Mafia ONE. I think that says it all.

4. Music - This year was the first time I noticed them start the "get off the stage music" right as the award winner got on stage. I did notice they did not do it on all the categories though. Best Actor, Actress, etc. didn't get that treatment. Not sure I liked that. Felt kinda rude. Now, I'm not in favor of long winded acceptance speeches either, but hey, this is the Oscars and they shouldn't cue the music off the top. The show went it's usual 3 1/2 hours anyway...

5. Lauren Bacall - Man, she was unbelievably beautiful when she was young. She kind of reminded me of Scarlett Johansson now. Sometimes I think it's better for us (the audience) to remember these great actors as they were - young. Well, maybe that's not right, but at least we shouldn't see them stumble their way through an intro that they can't see on the teleprompter. I felt very sorry for her. I've worked with teleprompters many times and know they can make those fonts bigger and they should do that in the future. That was embarrassing.

6. Best Picture - I was rather surprised with this. And obviously Jack Nicholson was along with just about everyone else in the Kodak Theater (except maybe the cast and crew of "Crash"). I didn't see either "Crash" of "Brokeback" so I can't comment on them, but I can say I find it very odd in many Oscar years where the Best Director does not win for his movie. Ang Lee of course won Best Director, but then "Crash" won Best Picture. Seems odd to me. I understand how this can happen I guess, but it just seems weird. I know this has happened many times recently like to Ridley Scott (the opposite though, he didn't win but "Gladiator" did) and to others. It's kind of like the Academy wants to award both films and decides to divide up the pie.

Overall I thought the show was okay. There were some interesting moments. I guess the two "big surprises" were for Best Song and Best Picture. Pretty much everything else went as predicted.

Now I guess I just have to wait until the all the Oscar nominated films come out on DVD or cable (or on the Internet) because as I've mentioned - I haven't really seen any of them and I'm NOT taking their "advice" and seeing them on the big screen in some dark theater with total strangers and all their cell phones ringing and kids throwing popcorn and the sound is too loud and the image is out of focus and then the movie ends up sucking anyway after I've spent $50 bucks on the evening out. I'd rather sit at home and watch bad movies there.

-Blake

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Hollywood Is Scared

Was it just me, or did the Oscar broadcast reveal just how scared (or paranoid) Hollywood is of the future?

In several of the presenter's written blurbs and almost all the montage intros there was a recurring theme. Even the president of the Academy mentioned the theme in his boring speech. What was the theme?

Hollywood wants you to see movies on the BIG SCREEN.

They basically bashed DVDs, portable DVD players, iPods, home theaters, etc. This is strange talk since DVD sales account for almost double the revenue of theatrical sales. And, moreover, these "ancillary markets" including the new VoD models (video-on-demand) are the future of distribution (and are great marketing tools).

I too do not want the theatrical experience to go away. And I don't think it will in my lifetime. It will have to change considerably though (if they want to survive). And Hollywood does need to adapt to these new distribution ideas (and they are starting to).

It was just very odd to me the cheap shots they took at basically all other forms of seeing a movie.

Hollywood is notoriously slow to change and it appears by the theme tonight that this will continue. Maybe that's why almost all the Best Film nominees were independent? :)

-Blake

(I'll post a mini-review of the actual show tomorrow evening - I did think Jon Stewart did okay, not great, but okay...)

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Oscars Tonight

This is an obvious one, but... the Oscars are on tonight.

I am planning on watching, although I must admit, I've only seen a handful of the nominated films. This is highly unusual for me too. Typically I see them all.

But this is an unusual year across the board. How many of you have seen "Transamerica"? How about "Capote"? "Brokeback Mountain" anyone? Heck, I haven't even seen "Munich" - and I really wanted to, but I've just been darn busy.

I did (unfortunately) see "Good Night and Good Luck". If you read my blog you know I think this movie is terrible. If it wins anything I will be very disappointed. And btw, it's no ant-George Clooney bias going on here. His movie just sucked. I actually wouldn't mind if he won for Best Supporting Actor for "Syrianna" (of course, guess what... I didn't see that one either).

I'm not really one to make predications. But I am going to assume that "Brokeback" will be the big winner. Some people are thinking "Crash" (nope, hadn't seen it) might spoil the night for the gay cowboys, but we'll see...

I'm actually looking most forward to seeing Jon Stewart's opening monologue. I just hope the folks tonight keep everything focused on ENTERTAINMENT. I am not in any mood to be lectured on politics by some Hollywood elitist. But again, we'll have to wait and see...

-Blake

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New Look

If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you might be wondering what page you just came to? Yep. I changed the look. Why?

Well, for one, I was having some trouble with the HTML code on the old blog - and two, I felt in retrospect the old look was hard to read with all the dark colors, etc. So, I changed it.

Note though, if you look at some articles in the archives it might link to the "old look", so just beware. If it does, don't worry, you're still in the same blog.


Anyway, the content is staying the same. Hope you like the new look.

-Blake

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Theater News

Nope. Not movie theater news, but Theater news. You know? Like a Broadway play? Only this is "Off Broadway" - but evidently better than most shows on Broadway.

Matthew Tompkins, who stars in and plays the title character in my new film "Killing Down" (and he also co-produced the movie with me) is getting RAVE REVIEWS for a theater production he is currently also starring in...

The show is called "Transatlantic Liaison" and below is the link to the review:

NY Theater Review:
http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/tran2495.shtml

The NY Times has also given it a positive review, but I don't have a link to it (if I find it I'll post it too).

I don't pretend to know much about Theater or Broadway. I've only been once and saw "Le Mis" back in the mid-90s. It was entertaining, but not really my cup of tea (I'm more of a Diet Coke and movie guy). But, I definitely respect what these folks do.

It's incredible to "memorize" an entire play - and then act it out like it's not memorized. Completely different than the movie business. Heck, I've been on shoots (including my own) where a "film actor" can barely get through one line at a time - let alone an entire scene (say, in a master shot). That is definitely one really nice thing to hiring theater actors (and TV actors to a lesser degree) to work on your film projects. They will know their lines - and more than one at a time. Of course you do sometimes need to "tone down" their performance because there is a big difference between acting for a theater crowd versus acting for a camera - but that's a topic for another post.

So anyway, if you're in New York City during the month of March go and check out "Transatlantic Liaison". From what I hear so far, it will be worth your time.

-Blake

(I do not have ticket info or even a theater location, but I assume it can be easily found on the web.)

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A Must Read! Download Movies from iTunes!

It WILL HAPPEN sooner or later, but this article from Apple Insider is a must read for people watching this new distribution model closely:

http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1567

Several interesting quotes in article, but this one stood out to me...

"this option would not allow users to burn a copy of the movie to a DVD for playback on a home entertainment DVD player. "The cost of purchasing movies individually would be approximately $12.95 per movie or roughly the equivalent of buying a DVD at a store."

Hollywood will be first with its movies... but, indies will have to follow soon after (just as with their music store). Seems like they will need to change the name though? Does iTunes really work for downloading movies? And iMovie is already taken. Of course, I really don't like all these "i's" everywhere anyway.

Very cool stuff happening...


-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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