flicks

it was an accident…


“The truth is that nobody knows what that magic combination is that produces a first-rate piece of work….

All we can do is prepare the groundwork that allows for the ‘lucky accidents’ that make a first-rate movie happen.” Sidney Lumet

 

“Most of the good things in pictures happen by accident.” John Ford

 

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i typed those quotes wanting to talk about preparation, but then i decided to write about accidents. how many miraculous things come out of things that happen which are outside of our control. accident is often a negative word, because of the nature of accidents. often in an accident people are hurt or things are damaged due to them. but every once in a while, something accidentally happens that is a great thing. if it weren’t for accidents, we wouldn’t have Velcro, microwaves, post-it notes, or potato chips. also there are people who are famous by accident, including Mel Gibson, Evangeline Lilly and Marilyn Monroe. not that they weren’t talented or hardworking, it’s just that their big breaks came by being the right place at the right time.

lots of accidents happen on movie scenes and end up being left in the final edit, from Viggo Mortensen breaking toes, dodging knives and nearly drowning in the Lord of the Rings trilogy,  to beer cans being thrown at John Malkovich’s head as he had just come out of John Malkovich’s head. and one of my favorites from Midnight Cowboy, where an actual taxi nearly ran over Dustin Hoffman and he reacted by uttering the famous line “I’m walkin here!” the ultimate Sanford Meisner moment where an actual reaction was caught on film and became one of the most memorable lines in movie history. i’m sure it’s still quoted to new york cab drivers many times a day.

so sometimes accidents can be a good thing. i guess it depends on how you look at it.

excuse me a sec. what are you babbling about?


 

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain …and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal… Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club”

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this past tuesday, marked the 30th anniversary of March 24, 1984. the day that The Breakfast Club convened for saturday detention at Shermer High School. i’ve always loved this movie. who can not like the premise of these kids who start from all different walks of high school and by the end of one day forge friendships. we can only hope that they didn’t go back to being in their cliques the following monday. i like to think that Bender and Andrew spoke to Brian the next week. i like to think that Claire and Allison were able to acknowledge each other in the hall or even have a conversation. and i think that’s why John Hughes leaves us with the end the way it is. we have hope that the typical high school garbage can be overcome. we want to believe that, and that is why we love this movie. the scene at the end as Simple Minds anthemic “Don’t You, Forget About Me” plays while Brian’s character reads the essay Mr. Vernon tasked them to write is probably one of the impactful scenes for me from a movie. i mean, i was Brian in high school. so, maybe go watch The Breakfast Club sometime this week. and remember who you are.

play at your own risk…


“I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say, ‘Okay, you’re not that good. You just reached the level here.’ I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate.”-Quentin Tarantino

 

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that is an interesting quote from Tarantino. he’s one of my favorite directors and i love that he is talking about risk. i find it fascinating that he seems to be saying a failure is an end to his talent. i would say that if you are a risk taker, then failure is the beginning. you’ll never know how good you are until you’ve failed numerous times. but maybe i’m not grasping the context of the quote here. maybe he’s talking about failing at the very height of the ceiling, or maybe he is just saying he doesn’t like to fail. i don’t think any of us do, but i think we need to learn to embrace it if we are ever going to reach the apex of what our potential is. and there is a huge difference between failing and wallowing in that failure. i’ve been there. failure shouldn’t define us, it should inspire us to drag ourselves back up and do it again. so push through. allow yourself to create ceilings that you can bust through so that failure is the launching pad for the greatness within you. if you never take the chance, you will have a whole bunch of maybe’s and almost’s to talk about someday.

a book i picked up….


filmmaker

 

called “the Film-maker says” has been of enjoyment to me as of late. it’s little snippets and quotes from movie directors. i’ve used a few of them here as i write. they make great conversation starters, and i’ll use them in my classes as the year winds down.

i love a good quote. and this book is brimming over with not only great words, but contradictions on side by side pages. there are some quotes that are funny. some are sad. some are very thought provoking. it gives a little bit of insight from behind the camera that you might not always get. i recommend it for something to break the ice, or provoke thought.

“With some pictures, people leave the theater and it’s forgotten. If people see a picture of mine, and then sit down in a drugstore in a neighborhood or have coffee and talk about it for fifteen minutes, that is a very fine reward, I think. That’s good enough for me.” Billy Wilder

on writing…


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Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.

George Cukor

I read somewhere that David Mamet said there are no good actors, only good scripts. fitting coming from a playwright. i believe there are good actors. great interpreters, but i also believe they have to have great words to speak. i’ve seen so many great actors in plays and movies alike be horribly under-utilized and the limitations had to do completely with the story and the script.

so i say to all of you that write. write well. and i will say to all of you that act and direct, interpret well. the world needs better stories and better performances.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”  John Keating-Dead Poets Society

a dream of sorts


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i have a few dreams for the creative things in my life. i want to make a record of songs written or co-written by me, and i want to make documentaries. i’ll be 43 this summer and sometimes i feel like the window is closing to do those things. there are a lot of songs, but i don’t know how many of them are album worthy, there are some great ideas for movies, but i often put those aside because of time and equipment contraints. i’ve written about fear before and that is a factor as well. i guess my question is, why haven’t i already started to make these dreams a reality? there can be a ton of excuses, but it really comes down to me just doing the things i need to do. not to worry about the money aspect of it. i could easily do a kickstarter campaign. not to worry about the creative part of it. i could easily ask a lot of my friends to contribute. not to worry about the equipment part. i have a good camera, all i need is a sound rig and a lens, heck i could even film on my iphone.

i wonder sometimes why God would allow me to have such great ideas, and not let me finish them, and i think it’s because He wants me to make them happen with other people. i realized this last week that creativity and the work can very easily be about one person. i naturally want the credit for greatness and i don’t have all of the tools to be great by myself. i have some of the components to make something great, but those components need to be shared with others while allowing others to share their greatness with me. i think that is why we need community. i love people, but often i will isolate myself from community. haven’t figured that one out yet. i do know that i am not an island and i need to create in the confines of community. i need to make the time to work with other people. i need that and so do they.

I tend to put down the auteur theory because a lot of people embraced it as a one man/one concept kind of thing, and making a movie is an ensemble.  Clint Eastwood

i was ACTING!!


these top 5 lists are fun. i needed a fun break as i write.

so today, i’ll go with my top 5 actors. i don’t know if my list is on par with others, but it’s my opinion, and i like what i like.

5. Jack Nicholson

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just the incredible diversity and body of work he has done makes him one of my favorites. he’s been nominated for Academy Awards 12 times and he has won 3. he’s played the entire spectrum of roles from the Devil to a Marine Colonel. i mean he was the Joker for goodness sakes, and a great one at that. it really comes down to 5 words for me. “You Can’t Handle The Truth”. Brilliance. Genius.

4. Johnny Depp

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reclusive and just strange is how a lot of people describe Depp. i’ve been a fan of his for a while, Edward Scissorhands is personal favorite, long before his turn as Cap’n Jack Sparrow (which is a brilliant character). if you haven’t seen his work in Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you’ve missed a master actor in some of his best moments. the character George Jung in Blow is unreal and his 3 Oscar nominations are way too few for this versatile and amazing actor.

3. Bill Murray

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a brilliant comedian, his delivery and demeanor early on probably cost him some serious roles, but when you think of iconic cult classics like Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and What About Bob, his characters take front and center. then add in his collaboration with Wes Anderson and you begin to see his brilliance. it’s a shame he has only been nominated for one Oscar and has never won. his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt was overshadowed this year by another presidential performance. i think we might not have seen his best yet. “It’s in the Hole!!”

2. Morgan Freeman

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the man who could make a living on voicing Visa commercials alone is one of the most brilliant actors of his time. i mean he played Nelson Mandela. he was Easy Reader. he’s been nominated for five Academy Awards with one win, and how he didn’t win for Shawshank Redemption is beyond me. that might be one of the most brilliant and convincing performances i’ve ever seen on film. all amazing performances aside, the one line that sticks out to me is from his role as Lt. William Somerset in Se7en.  “There are seven deadly sins, Captain. Gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy. Seven… You can expect five more of these.”

1. Christoph Waltz

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pretty much an unknown Austrian actor who spoke German until he was featured as SS Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarrantino’s Inglorious Basterds. i remember leaning over to my friend after the opening scenes of the movie in which he masterfully flushes out a family of Jews being hidden under a farmhouse, and saying, “that is an Academy Award winning performance.” Waltz is 2 for 2 in Oscars with his second win this year for Django Unchained. i can’t explain how i just love to watch him take over a scene. his attention to craft and accuracy is amazing. it is frightening to watch him as he brings a calm, almost comedic presence to very dark characters. he is also probably one of the best interviews you will ever see on talk shows.  an amazing character actor who will probably never be a leading man, but it doesn’t matter.

who are your top 5 actors? honorable mention on my list are Kevin Spacey, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.

another amazing film…


same band. same director.  it’s amazing the connection that Jared Leto has with his fans.  i also think the faces of the kids and what they say is telling.  some have no hope, the last two believe and hope in music.  do you think they are searching for something more?  i do.

my first film project…


with footage completely shot by me.  i also storyboarded the video.  i still need some work on lighting and composition.  the video feels a little unfinished, but i really loved interviewing these great men.  i think it’s a good start.  let me know what you think.

we’re using this in our tv production this weekend and also i may use it in service.