film

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.

the main thing…


“That celluloid, the actual film that runs through the camera, is dead. That’s gone, and now digital is here. But storytelling with cinema never will die–ever, ever, ever. The way stories are told may change, but it will always be.” David Lynch

 

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story, it’s the most important thing in any creative process. you have to convince people to care about the artistic endeavor. from painting to film, to music, people have to connect with what you are feeling or experiencing. that can be something simple or complex. it’s why people who have no interest in sports watch the Olympics. NBC has become great at telling the stories that go along with the games, and that is what draws viewers and compels them to root for the underdog or the favorite. same is true for shows like American Idol. it’s not about the music as much as it is about the hard luck story of the contestant who is struggling to make it in the music biz.

my favorite Academy Awards are the acting awards followed by the screenplay awards. i think performances and writing are the true test of a beautiful film. in essence, the best original screenplay or best adapted screenplay is an important award to me. i love great writing and great interpretation of that writing. if a movie is nominated for best picture, and doesn’t have any acting nominees, or it isn’t nominated for screenplay, then i question it’s validity. there are nine best picture nominees, but between original and adapted there are 10 nominees for screenplays, so I believe that if you have a Best Picture nomination, then you should also have a Best Screenplay nomination.

story is what drives everything. even in our ever present, day-to-day doings. we have to live a bigger story than the meager existence that many of us call life. who are you compelling with your story? how can our stories impact others? how can our stories impact the world?  what story are you living today? would a movie of your life be nominated?

Film thoughts…


It’s always a question of high aims, grandiose dreams, great bravado and confidence, and great courage at the typewriter; and then, when I’m in the midst of finishing a picture and everything’s gone horribly wrong and I’ve reedited it and reshot it and tried to fix it, then it’s merely a struggle for survival. You’re happy only to be alive. Gone are the exalted goals and aims, all the uncompromising notions of a perfect work of art, and you’re just fighting so people won’t storm up the aisles with tar and feathers- Woody Allen

 

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i really like the films of Woody Allen. i think he’s an absolute genius in the way he gets performances out of actors. some of his films i like far better than others and i think it has to do with that quote up above. sometimes his pictures seem incomplete, but always have amazing performances. i think as i read that quote, the thing that strikes me is that, not even Woody always believes in himself and i think that glimmer of doubt is what pushes him to greatness. one thing i found out recently was that all of the actors in Allen’s films work for union scale. they get roughly $60,000 for a picture. now to me, that is more than a years salary, but it’s no $20 million which is what most A-list stars get for movies. they want to work with him. they want them to bring out the best in them. and he does. we watched Blue Jasmine a few nights ago, and both Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins are amazing. hard to believe that Blanchett is Australian and Hawkins is English from the affected accents and characters they play. add in bang up performances by Alec Baldwin, Louis CK, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Sarsgaard and you have an amazing stable of talent.  i also love that Woody was able to pull an amazing performance out of Andrew Dice Clay, i never would have seen that coming.

Cate Blanchett definitely deserved her Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Jasmine. i love how Woody ties in her flashback scenes as she relives them by talking to herself. i actually related to her and her pain in a very real way. i found myself thinking how stupid it was as she self-destructed, but at the same time felt sorry for her. i couldn’t really tell if her insanity was what caused her to blindly look the other way, or it actually lent itself to the downfall. the breakdown in her apartment solidified some but not all of my questions. i loved the performances, but wish that Woody had really shown San Francisco like he does other cities. i also was a little let down by the ending, but i’ll let you watch and decide for yourself.

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.