Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good & Bad Homages, Tributes and Ripoffs

If you're a successful director, filmmaker or auteur with a unique style you're sure to spawn a bevy of imitators and expressions of admiration across the Internets that take the form of a tribute video, reinterpretation of your work or downright ripoff. Above you will find a skillfully edited example of an homage compilation of Christopher Nolan's work by Dutchman, Kees van Dijkhuizen (who is all of 18 years old according to his youtube profile). This video is part of his [the films of] series that includes Ridley Scott, Tim Burton and David Fincher. I think [the films of] Christopher Nolan is his best.

A less successful "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" video was done by me over two years ago when we were trying to figure out the tone and point of view for These Amazing Shadows. I've always been taken by the old style newsreels of Pathe News, March of Time and Hearst Metrotone News. The fast talking infotainment style evoked a certain excitement and urgency that is so ripe for satire and reinterpretation. Above is a very crude attempt (and by crude I mean awful) at using the lively newsreel style to make the kinda dry subject of film preservation come alive. My only defense is that I threw it together quickly and cheaply to show others the basic idea. Out of some failures you don't really learn much other than how to wince. Below you can view the real deal.

Newsreels on the National Film Registry:
Jenkins Orphanage Band (Fox Movietone News)
Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage
Republic Steel Strike Riot Newsreel Footage

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22nd

Detail from the These Amazing Shadows Amazon page. The "This Item" is These Amazing Shadows.
November 22, 2011: (today!) These Amazing Shadows (TAS) released on DVD and Blu-ray by PBS Video. A great holiday gift, you can find it at Shop PBS and Amazon.

November 22, 2010: We received a phone call from the Sundance Film Festival informing us that These Amazing Shadows was selected.

(clockwise from lower left) My Grandmother Lauraine, my Mother Audree, my Great-Grandmother Allie and my sister Nikki.
November 22, 1909: My Grandmother Lauraine (we called her Ama) born. She was a major influence in my life.

November 22, 1899: Hoagy Carmichael born. American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for writing "Stardust", "Georgia On My Mind", "The Nearness of You", and "Heart and Soul", four of the most-recorded American songs of all time. He appeared in To Have and Have Not (seen above) and The Best Years of Our Lives (selected to the National Film Registry 1989) among other films.

Jacqueline and John Kennedy
November 22, 1963: John Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) in Toy Story.
November 22, 1995: Toy Story released in 2,281 theaters and remained in wide release for 13 weeks. Toy Story was selected to the National Film Registry in 2005.

Scarlett Johansson with Woody Allen.
November 22, 1984: Actress Scarlett Johansson born. Best known for Lost in Translation, Match Point, Girl with the Pearl Earring and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978).
November 22, 1958: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis born. Best known for Halloween (selected to the National Film Registry in 2006), Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda and True Lies.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Awards, Accolades and Trophies

Louisville's International Festival of Film Best Documentary Award - a Louisville Slugger.
I have very mixed feelings about film awards. On one hand they are fun (the anticipation, debates and awareness they create) and competition is as American as an award winning apple pie. On the other hand awards are subjective, capricious and often just silly popularity contests (though there is nothing wrong with being popular!).

Over the past eleven months of our distribution of These Amazing Shadows (TAS) we have been faced with making decisions that qualify or disqualify us for Oscar and Emmy consideration. We elected early on to be part of Sundance Selects which brought with it a special one month Video-On-Demand release during the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. That VOD release disqualified us from Oscar consideration for 2011. You may be thinking, "Dudes, an Oscar Best Documentary nomination for TAS is a rather remote possibility anyway." - and we would pretty much agree with you. At the time of the decision there was a little irrational voice inside my brain warning not to lose our Oscar consideration, "Don't do it! You never know! TAS could be a contender!" I quickly and easily quieted that high pitched irritating voice and we made what we thought was a good business decision. We disqualified ourselves from Emmy consideration because we elected to release our DVD/Blu-ray on November 22nd, which is prior to our national PBS/Independent Lens broadcast on December 29th (check local listings for exact date/time). That is an Emmy no-no. We balanced our chances for an Emmy nomination (yes, that high pitched voice of warning did return) against getting our DVD/Blu-ray out for the holiday shopping season.

Screen grab from our iphone video of accepting the Savannah Film Festival Best Documentary Award.
As they say - when you close one door another one opens - These Amazing Shadows recently won two awards: Best Documentary at Louisville's International Festival of Film and the Savannah Film Festival. We thank both festivals for the honor and attention they have given our doc. The Louisville's International Festival of Film award is really cool and unusual - it is a Louisville Slugger bat with an award inscription (please see it above). Paul says he is going to print up a bumper sticker that says, "My slugger can beat the hell out of your Oscar!" As a note to my family and friends who notice that only Paul's name is on the bat - most festivals for some reason cannot wrap their brains around the notion of co-directors. Sometimes my name is left off and sometime Paul's name is left off websites, awards, etc.

Paul and I were present for the Savannah Film Festival (really great festival) awards presentation. It was a fun affair with about 900 people in the audience. As Paul and I take turns addressing special events on behalf of TAS it was Paul's turn and he gave a very good acceptance speech. I was on stage shooting the whole thing with my iphone much to the delight of the audience (see photo above). We will post that video soon.