Friday, 28 February 2014

What will happen to your screenplay?

Here's another simple explanation of life as a wannabe screenwriter, from Filmsouring.



Can't read it? Click HERE for the original. 
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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Script Analysis - 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

I came across an interesting post on the blog Searching for Charlie Kaufman. The subject matter was Inside Llewyn Davis, and part of it said:
Looking back on my original reading from over a year ago, it was clearly in the four parts of this structure question that I felt the script let me down. Inside Llewyn Davis has EXACTLY five reveals. In order of importance [not chronology] they are:

Llewyn is a father
Llewyn’s partner threw himself off the George Washington Bridge
Jean’s baby could be anybody’s
The script ends where it begins
Llewyn Saves the [Wrong] Cat


[I word it this way to draw attention to what they were doing. If you don't think this cat stuff was done on PURPOSE to have a little fun at Mr. Snyder's expense... you are mistaken.]
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Joel Barish (@johlbearish) has a number of interesting things to say about the brothers C. Read his whole post here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Honest trailers - "Gravity"

I picked this up from the Time magazine news feed, who have the following to say on the subject:
Just in time for the Oscars, the ever-observant Screen Junkies have brought us a new “Honest Trailer” — this time for Best Picture contender Gravity.

Basically, they pinpoint just about every criticism you probably had while watching the film — or the criticisms you didn’t realize you had until now. For example: Sandra Bullock’s character appears to have had little to no astronaut training, the film is essentially an hour and a half of people bumping into things and trying to grab things, and watching it on anything other than an IMAX screen will be wildly disappointing.

If you haven’t seen Gravity, be warned that this does contain some major spoilers. But it also might convince you not to see Gravity at all, in which case, spoilers are irrelevant.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Six golden rules of moviemaking - McG

For many Australians, the MCG, that's the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the uninitiated, is the spiritual heartland of the nation. It is located in Melbourne. I was born about a mile from the place, and worked there as a cleaner when I was nineteen. It is a major landmark in my life, so I find it difficult to say "M.C.G." and mean anything other than a gigantic arena set in acres of parkland.
    But there is another McG, with a little "C". That applies to Joseph McGinty Nichol, a name which doesn't roll off the tongue as readily as "McG". 
    McG was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. He is a producer, writer and director, best known for Supernatural (2005), Chuck (2007) and The O.C. (2003). A few weeks ago, McG provided MovieMaker magazine with the following advice for filmmakers.
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1. Make sure the actors know what they are signing up for. At the end of the day, they are the ones in front of the camera. Altman was right: 90 percent of directing is casting. Actors are the living, breathing expression of what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you are in lock step.

2. Be prepared. There will always be the artistry of the day, and the absolute need to improvise, adapt and overcome. But the better prepared you are—the more clear your vision of the film—the more likely you will be to achieve that vision.

3. Be ready to endure immeasurable difficulty. I would suggest watching Hearts of Darkness on the eve before principal photography. If Coppola can withstand firing #1 on the call sheet, losing helicopters to fight the rebels, typhoons and Martin Sheen having a heart attack, you should be able to deal with whatever shit will come at you.
 
4. Always acknowledge the best idea. Great ideas come from night watchmen, grips and Teamsters. It should be presumed that your vision of the film is strong; it will only contribute to your command of the material if you are able to incorporate new and superior ideas. A film is a living, breathing thing. You need to go in prepared, listen to the rhythm of the process, make any adjustments necessary, fight like hell to get them done (because everyone is going to regard change as a pain in their ass) and continue to drive toward the singular vision of the film.

5. Be proficient at every job. If you were a rock n’ roller and your name were Prince, there is incredible power in being able to look at your bass player, keyboard player, drummer and have them all know you can do it better. Fincher can make this claim. We should all aspire to be so accomplished.
 
6. Every filmmaker should aspire to have a signature. It is art, after all. Make your statement.
 
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McG's latest feature 3 Days to Kill just premiered in the US. It stars Kevin Costner as a dying Secret Service Agent trying to reconnect with his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and is being hailed as one of Kostner's best in a long while.


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Monday, 24 February 2014

How good is your colour vision?

I thought mine was okay, but then I took this test at ColorMunki


Here are my results:


You try it:

The Munsell Hue Test.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Beyond the Spec Sale: Why you should be a writer and not a screenwriter

I hadn't heard of Sheila Gallien until recently. Then she posted the following on her blog and now screenwriters around the world are talking about it. And her.

Have a read for yourself. ____________________________________________________


I have spent the last month talking to producers, writers, directors, execs—in short, varied veterans of the film business—trying to get an overview of the business of Hollywood, and I have come away with a difficult picture for aspiring writers of film and TV.
    The over-arching change of the last decade, since the cottage industry of amateur screenwriting launched, exploded, and opened the promise of a six-figure sale to anyone with a keyboard, has been the demise of development. It might have been growing, unseen, at the millennial turn, then felt blows from the Writers’ Strike, the financial crisis, the wooing of production out of Los Angeles, the onslaught of free content, but whatever the cause, the landscape has changed permanently. Even high-end, accomplished writers are finding themselves writing on spec unless they are fulfilling a franchise. Producers are forced to develop material with no support from studios. Many veteran producers have given up producing altogether, or have taken jobs to fortify their passion. The bottom line is nearly everyone is working for free.
    In case you don’t know how it was, while Hollywood was hardly a haven for writers, there were structures in place that supported writers and producers as they developed ideas. I, for example, was employed by 20th Century Fox as the assistant to Bill Broyles while he developed three pictures, funded by the studio, with three different producers. Producers got paid. Writers got paid over a series of developed steps, from early inception to multiple drafts. Those days are almost entirely behind us.

    On the one hand these changes may appear to level the field. Instead of working with a stable of writers who might win assignments based on their work and reputation, the industry is largely looking for completed material they know they can market. The new writer appears to be in as strong a position as the seasoned pro to make the spec sale if it is executed well. But the real truth is that the spec field now includes incredibly talented and prolific writers who have no shortage of good material, can write fast, and can write deep. And, after you sell one, you have to, in many ways, start over again. Sure, you have relationships that will make it a lot easier to get your material read. But not to get paid.
    Others have written more eloquently, both with more and less hope, about the business of screenwriting. I am not here to burst a bubble. I know those of us toiling along with day jobs dream of a respite, or at least of doing a JK Rowling. I believe sales can be made. Of course they are made. I just don’t believe making a sale can be the reason writers write. I would argue that if you are writing just to get paid, you will likely not ever write anything good enough to get made, and you will shortly not be being paid for something you love to do, but something you have to do. (And of course you can be smart and write great cinematic ideas, as opposed to stories about lepers or erotic thrillers about octogenarians.) The truth is after working with hundreds of writers, even those with dollar signs in their eyes, I don’t believe money motivates writers to write, at least not to write with the expanse of imagination required to hold an entire film in one’s mind. I might list freedom, passion, other things that getting paid for doing what you love might afford, but I still think it’s different. And I think it is an important distinction, because we absolutely should get paid for our work, but for the right reasons.
    And so, when someone asks me, as they often do, “what should I write?” “What is Hollywood looking for?” I think they are asking the wrong question, and I will come back to that. My job is to help the writer bring his vision to fruition, to the screen, the page, to see it delivered. If I could create a sale each time, I would dance in the streets, but a power greater than myself seems to have hold of that department. The truth is that the spec sale has become nearly chimerical, novel advances are all but gone. So we have to ask, if real money is such a long-shot, and it is, what on earth are we writing for? What is the dream?
    Back in the day, the dream was to publish the Great American Novel, or, I might argue, the Great 20th Century Novel. Writers strove to be among the esteemed and rarified few who had something transcendent and original to say, in a way that moved and transformed the world, and whose utterances, whose completely unique and profound point of view, might instigate an awakening, start a religion, or at the very least change the English speaking world’s perspective on life, the universe and everything. Oh, Steinbeck, with his tender, piercing and bloody rendering of the guts of American life. Or Hemingway, his mirror so glaring and uncluttered, the rawness is almost unbearable. Or Kerouac, grabbing onto the rushing, searching, breathless voice of god and godless and connection and change and agony and possibility. The chance to be the voice of a generation. To start a revolution. These are the unspoken drives of a writer. Or to explode a secret, use an undreamt of phrase to capture a banned thought, something so private and unseemly, like Jong coining the phrase “the zipless fuck.”
    The point is, the quest was about perspective, about seeing the world in such a way that we stood in awe of that vision, because it was so TRUE, and because it had never been said that way before, and because our humanity was deepened and we felt in a rush to express all that WE knew about life, all that we have felt, because it is so important, to us, to everyone. We were, we are, driven, to use Joseph Campbell’s assessment of the compulsion of people to tell stories, to bring the elixir to the people, if we have found it.
    Then the movies came, and they were magnificent. They made us laugh and cry and took us on journeys that transported us through all of our senses to other places, though truly we never leave the theater, we are only driven within. And we love the popcorn movies and the ones that we forget about but are glad we saw, because we love to be entertained, but those are not the ones that make us want to write. Those might be the ones that make us think we can write. That maybe we can’t write Chinatown, or Citizen Kane, but we can certainly write movies as good as these others, forgettable and entertaining and not bad at all (in fact we can certainly write better ones).
    Then there are THOSE movies. The unspeakably great. The ones that blow us apart and leave us panting and that we either cannot speak about or cannot stop speaking about, that we give awards for and watch in a kind of secret sacredness because something is revealed that we know but did not know we knew until we saw it. It might be just one scene, but it blows the world and everything we knew apart and yet when we see it we recognize, THAT is the thing. We know that we knew that we knew and we feel it for one fleeting moment through our whole DNA, and it changes us, because we have seen it, and it has been exposed. Perhaps these moments are personal. They are like a crystallization of character or an epiphany or a catharsis in theater but they are a revelation of the whole human experience. Perhaps they depend on your sophistication, your experience, your mood, as you come across them. I can name the ones that never leave me: the slaying of the ox at the end of Apocalypse Now, where I suddenly, viscerally knew for certain, at 17 years old, that we brutally slaughter each other and we are all one and that horror lives inside of me. Or that moment in Life is Beautiful, when the father is translating the German nightmare of the concentration camps to his young child through humor and the entire barrack holds up the shield and the lie to protect the holy innocence that is our birthright and our nature, the deepest and most profound love we have for each other, that is unwavering even in the face of unspeakable evil. Each moment like this is as blazing and searing as something that has happened to me. Because everything that happens to everyone happens to me.
    There are the beautiful, funny, whole movies that connect us to our humanity a little more gently, like Forty Year Old Virgin and American Pie and Bridesmaids and Legally Blonde and Little Miss Sunshine. And there are big broad romps and beautiful spoofs where we get to laugh at our foibles and the airs we put on, or just play like children and talk about farts and laugh and forget there was anything ever besides Raisinets and sticky seats.
    There are still, every year, so many good movies, despite the energy of the economy, the terrible spec market. I have come to be a fan of all movies, because each of them is a triumph over the impossible, hundreds of people committing, facing and overcoming their fears, to bring a vision to the screen, however imperfect, however short of great. Hundreds of millions of dollars, the sweat and passion and commitment and life of every person involved over a period of years that contributes to this fantastic wobbling monument that is a movie! I am not a movie snob. I am a movie celebrator. Because I know what can happen to me when they get it right, even for just a few moments.
    And so I come back to the eternal quest, why do we write, because we have something to say. When I talk to writers, all of them, all of us, have something secret and strong and powerful to reveal. No one wants to write an okay story. No one has only an okay story inside of them, though they may be trying to settle for one. Even if it’s just a simple, funny story, it comes from a place that captures a side of humanity, of their human experience, that they need to reveal.
    Last night, I met an Aussie waiter at a beachside restaurant on Maui. He was gorgeous, with a villainous smile, built like a triathlete, funny as hell. He played all night with the ladies, tossing out jokes and flirts, in good taste for an Aussie, most of them ending with the promise of a beer. I happened to walk out with him to our cars which were parked a long way away, and, as we walked, I asked him the question I always get, “how did you end up on Maui?” “I met a guy,” he said, and while I was trying to absorb this, wondering if this swaggering Aussie could have fallen in love with a man, which is how I ended up on Maui, he launched into his story, which he managed to convey in its entirety in less than two minutes, how a broken heart had driven him to California, where he met and married the most beautiful girl in the world. He worked in sales but couldn’t stand being confined so tried his hand as a waiter, and made such an impact, a “guy” offered him a job selling timeshare on Maui, not the least bit concerned that he knew nothing about it. He went home to his wife, a triathlete and holistic health expert, to ask her what she thought, and she started packing right then and there. They lived in paradise, in mad love, until one day they were making love and he found a lump in her breast. The first doctor said it was nothing, and the second revealed that she had Stage 4 breast cancer. He stayed by her side for the agonizing journey of her fight, sent her ashes to sea on Valentine’s Day last year, which is why, it turned out, he had just returned from a trip to the coldest place he could think of during Valentine’s 2014, and why he worked two jobs, so he didn’t stare at the walls all night and miss his wife. WHAM.
    I went to sleep thinking of him, of his love, of his loss. I woke up thinking of them. As he told his story, his beautiful face, the mask of the villainous smile, was slowly transformed by his love and his grief. And after a long silence, because I could not even respond, the shift of my judgment and his true character being so brief, he said, “I am a better man because of it. At least that came of it.” And he talked in genuine wonder about friends who commended him for sticking by her side, who later divorced, and how he could not imagine how you could stop loving your wife. Ever. I can see him in my mind’s eye, the light drizzle coming down, the streetlight, his strength and consuming grief and the light of her wrapped all around him and I don’t have words to express what he felt, or what I felt.
    But Jesus I wish I did. And that is why I write. Because I need to remember that I am wrong all the time, that I am shallow and I am MISSING it. Because I see someone or something and think I know what it is, and then, the beating heart of this beautiful man is bleeding on the street, and, beside it, all the pain of the world, and there is nothing I can do and I am filleted alive, in that tiny moment, with him. Nothing I can do. Nothing we can do. Maybe that is part of what makes the stories that dig into our souls. That there is NOTHING we can do, except stay alive, and live here with him. “I am a better man because of it.” Nothing I say could matter, and nothing I could do. Except I might have fallen to his knees and offered him anything for taking me to mine. I would not want to walk into his fire, could not imagine withstanding it, and yet I am so grateful that he opened his palms and let me see the flames, even if it is just because he cannot help it. I can’t describe why, except that I know somehow I have looked into the eternal and the holy and I am blessed.
    And so we write. Perhaps to render these moments, perhaps to withstand them. This is why we love to laugh, desperately need to laugh. Why perhaps we need horror, too, because the agony of our own lives, or our loved ones, is too great to bear unless it is in disguise. And we write to know that we are in the brotherhood and sisterhood and that dammit we are not alone.
    So I cannot think of how to answer the question of “what should we write” or “what is Hollywood wanting to buy?” It will change, and changes, and Hollywood will buy what is least afraid of, in the moment that it presents itself, and the opportunities that will make it possible, and if you can solve THAT algorithm, I wish you nothing but success.
    The real question, for me, is “What do people need to see?” What do we NEED to see? And this is where the business of movies is so brutal for screenwriters, because we have the hundredth monkey effect, and hundreds of thousands of creative, driven, writers are spinning ideas all the time, pulling down from the great unconscious what we need to see, to withstand, to survive, to flourish, and they are stories that might be similar. They might be overlapping. They might have exactly the same subject or close to the storyline, and then the writer’s heart and spirit are shattered when the competing project gets made, and it is NOT their movie. And it’s hard to say which is worse, when it is good, or not good, but it is not yours.
    And THIS is why you need to write more than screenplays. This is why you need to access your work, who you are, all that you, personally know, to brand yourself as a writer, a real writer, of screenplays and also other forms. You cannot allow yourself, creatively, to be attached to a spec sale, because then you stop writing what people need to see, and you start writing what you think Hollywood will buy, and you might win that lottery, and I will take you out for a drink, but you also might die in the process and spend your life, like an addict, trying to reach that next sale.
    You should write prose, whether it is fiction, or non-fiction, or memoir, so that you train yourself how to use words. So that you can let your mind run and your sentences fly and try to keep up with your thoughts and follow them to crazy places, then learn to edit and wrap back around and make it all make sense. You should write prose to learn to get rid of adverbs. To find JUST the right word. To crystallize your voice. To find a better word than crystallize, which I have already used once and surely does not belong twice in a short essay. To feel okay about a fragment if it fits your rhythm. To know that you are writing a fragment.
    You should keep writing screenplays, and you should write TV pilots and series and learn about the relentless structure of TV writing and the power of its characters.
    You should write poems to learn the art of distillation, to use the charge of every word, to learn to crush and unveil a moment, a truth, a feeling.
You should write songs to learn how to tell a story in pictures, in a compressed and powerful form, to feel rhythm and to feel the shock of melody in your head, no matter if it’s good.
    You should write plays, even short plays, and get people together to act them out, so you can hear when a scene goes thunk, and how changing the order of the words will help, and why your scene doesn’t do what you think it does, or why it does.
    But keep writing, just keep writing, drink of it deeply in different forms, turn it on end, and things will happen. For one, you will be there when the fucking great moment comes. You will have chops. You will have your fingers on the keys. You will be able to write a poem that is true by the poet in your screenplay or feel the rhythm of a montage, and you will be able to write a gorgeous pitch letter, after fifty drafts, that is distilled and brutal or funny and pops because you will know how to use words. You might touch the heart of some exhausted young assistant who has managed to hold onto her dreams of making great films because she loves art, even if her boss is screaming at her and her colleagues are trying to seem smarter than each other because they want to succeed, and they are afraid they will not. There just might be something about you that is different.
    At any rate, you need to keep your fingers on the keys, your index cards in your pockets, your voice memos set to record and you need to keep capturing what is important and keep writing because you are the only one that knows your stories, and we all need you now more than ever.

The Player (1992)
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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Interview with Michael Kokkinaris

Michael Kokkinaris was born in Athens and studied Byzantine and Modern Greek Literature, Theology, and Medicine at the University of Athens.
    For many years he was an assistant professor at the University of Athens; today he works as a Pediatrician in Pireaus. He is also an active writer with almost two dozen novels and screenplays to his name.
    I met Michael online when he started searching for someone in Australasia who would be interested in mounting a co-production of a script he has written about the Gallipoli Campaign.
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Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Piraeus, Greece, in the 60s decade, from parents and relatives who came from Asia Minor, with strong memories of the persecution of the Greeks by the Turks, victors in the war of 1919 to 1922. So my childhood sounds were the sounds from the lost homeland of Greeks in Asia Minor.


The Turks sent us away as 'Greeks,' while the Greeks received us as 'Turks.'
A Touch of Spice (2003)



These sounds were added to the sounds of the Greek resistance against the German and Italian invaders in my country during the Second World War. So I decided from an early age to learn and write about all these events.

Who was the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?

Three sections set the horizon of my knowledge: the Russian literature that led to the Theological School of the University of Athens; the promising knowledge of biology to fight human suffering, entitled Biological Sciences (Editions Rene Kistrer, 1963), which I first read at an early age; and the book La seconde guerre mondiale, by Raymond Cartier (Ed. Larouse and Paris-Match, 1965). So it was a matter of time to study Medicine and Literature, in the hope that I could become a good writer.

When did you first take an interest in movies?

But when I wrote my first novel, my readers assured me that they saw images in my books and that it would be good for me to write scripts. So I decided to write scripts and to take part in screenplay competitions in Greece. At the same time, I studied important scripts of American cinema.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

In the first two years of my studies, from the age of 18, I worked as a laborer in factories during the summer holidays.

You were an assistant professor at the University of Athens for many years. Today you work as a Pediatrician in Pireaus. What brought about the change in careers?

I taught Hebrew and Translation of the text of the Holy Bible at the University of Athens for ten years. I quit to become a Pediatrician and followed the medical profession, having now a full reservoir of knowledge.

You’ve written many novels and screenplays, and one stage play which was performed at La Mama in New York in 2012. How did that come about?

Ιn my attempt to make known the script Exodus from Birkenau, which refers to the
Jewish Revolt at the Birkenau extermination camp in 1944, I asked the well-known theatrical producer, Leonidas Loizides, to read the theatrical monologue, Kaddish. In it, a Jewish woman named Sarah shares her final thoughts before being killed at Auschwitz. She mourns for the life that she will never live with the man she loves, the children she will never hold in her arms, and the simple dreams she will never see fulfilled.

From April 1915 to January 1916, Britain led a failed invasion of Gallipoli. You have a screenplay which takes place during that campaign. What led you to write about that, despite the fact that the war did not involve Greece?

Australians and New Zealanders are generally
well aware of Gallipoli, though many don't
realise that the French were involved, or that
the British suffered great losses (including
the death of the father of David Niven).
Anyone who studies the Greek history of that period, and the deep divisions that characterize it, will discover that the Battle of Gallipoli and the sacrifice of so many people, was due to the refusal of the Greek side to allow allied troops access from its territory on the way to Istanbul. As an expression of apology for that fact, I wrote this script titled All Of Them Are Fate. I am looking for a producer in Australia or New Zealand, to highlight the Battle of Gallipoli with the characters chosen to play in this unique film.


•  If a producer in Australia or New Zealand wanted to contact you, how should they go about it?

My e-mail address is:  m.kokkinaris@gmail.com

What are your ten favourite movies of all time?

Lord of the Rings (2001)
Deja Vu (2006)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The Winds of War (1983)
The Last Samurai (2003)
El Cid (1961)
55 Days at Peking (1963)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Eternity and a Day (1998)

What’s next for Michael Kokkinaris?

I will continue to study, write and look for the true meaning of life, as I live.

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Friday, 21 February 2014

I'm hungry, Babe. What about you?

This is a clip from Samsara, a 2011 documentary directed by Ron Fricke (best known for Koyaanisqatsi) and produced by Mark Magidson. It was filmed over five years in 25 countries around the world.


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Thursday, 20 February 2014

"Hello Goodbye"

1967. A Fistful of Dollars was released. Ronald Ryan was hanged for a crime he didn't commit. The Six Day War altered the map of the Middle East. Elvis and Priscilla got married. Pink Floyd released Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Che Guevara was executed. Hair opened off-Broadway. The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour. The first heart transplant took place in Cape Town. Harold Holt disappeared. And I played Under-15s cricket for the first time, to the absolute indifference of the world.

Meanwhile, The Beatles continued to make experimental promotional films for their songs; what today would be called 'music videos.' Here's an example:




Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Movie Title Breakup

Here's something a little different.
A couple breaks up with each other (via the use of 154 movie titles). 
Starring:
   Woman - Jenn Lyon
   Man - Ryan Hunter
   Waitress - Maggie Ross



Tuesday, 18 February 2014

"Destino" - Salvador Dali & Walt Disney

Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by The Walt Disney Company.

It is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was a collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz.

Destino was directed by Dominique Monféry, US/France, 2003, included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003, and nominated for the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.


For more about the art of Salvador Dali, see here.


Monday, 17 February 2014

"The Gap" - Ira Glass

The following video is a short speech by Ira Glass, illuminated by German art director, Daniel, who places things online under the brand name frohlocke, a German verb meaning 'to exult' or 'to rejoice.'


Now, Ira Glass. Who is Ira Glass? He is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. (Click on the link to learn more.)


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Facebook Fraud

First, a confession. I've never been a fan of Facebook. The first time I went on was simply out of curiosity. What was all the fuss about? I "friended" a single adolescent relative. Within days I was inundated by a horde of pimple-faced strangers who, it turned out, all went to the same high school. Most of those had 1,000 "friends" or more. In their 15 years or so of human interaction, they had not only met a thousand people, but they had become "friends" with them all.
     I was tempted to dismiss the lot as bullshit artists, but this was an experiment, so instead I embraced them with a reciprocal, if insincere, amity. Then my timeline filled up with a flood of ... stuff. I discovered what these people had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and what they considered an appropriate snack. I read of their projections as to what they might watch on TV tonight. Worse, I was approached with demands that I support their opinion as to what constituted the greatest TV show/movie/song of all time.
     I think I lasted a month before I deleted it all and closed the account.
     A few years later, having started the Adelaide Screenwriter blog and wanting it to show up on Google, I accepted the received wisdom that one needed a presence on Facebook. So I returned.
     This time I planned to avoid the "friends" debacle. I would be the only person on Facebook with zero friends.
     Boy, does Zuckerberg and co. hate that idea.
     I was blocked and harassed and herded at every turn, but I remained adamant. No friends. Eventually I got through the process and had my friend-free Facebook account. Then one day I visited the Facebook page of a friend (which is to say, a genuine friend who had a web series I liked) and I clicked the LIKE button. A day later I received a Friend acceptance e-mail from the person in question. I had not requested that they "friend" me, but they had miraculously received such a request purportedly from me.
     And that was the end of my friend-free Facebook page.
     Now all of that was to say, I don't trust Facebook. At least, I didn't, then I saw this video...


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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Interview with Ned Manning

Ned Manning is a writer, actor, script consultant and teacher. His plays have been performed around Australia and internationally, on professional and school stages. These include Alice Dreaming, Women of Troy, Gods of War, The Bridge is Down, Milo, Close to the Bone, Luck of the Draw, Last One Standing, and Us or Them.
    Ned was nominated for an AWGIE for writing for Young Audiences in 2011. He has written ten plays for Bell Shakespeare’s Actors at Work program.

    His first work of non-fiction, Playground Duty, a celebration of the highs and lows of a teaching career, was published in 2012 by NewSouth Books. He has also contributed to the textbook, Drama Reloaded, published by Cambridge, and adapted Women of Troy for ABC Radio.
     Ned has taught at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts and was a Senior Examiner in HSC Drama. He is also a former holder of a NSW Premiers Teachers Scholarship.
     As an actor, Ned has appeared in some of Australia's most loved film, television and theatre productions including Looking for Alibrandi, Offspring, The Farm, The Shiralee, Aftershocks, and Prisoner. He starred in the cult classic, Dead End Drive-In (one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies), and recently appeared in David Parker's new film The Menkoff Method.
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Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Coonabarabran in North Western NSW. I spent my early years there on our (sheep/wheat/pig) farm.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

I was the youngest of three boys. I think I might have been a mistake. My father was a farmer and socialist who stood for the ALP in a safe Country Party electorate. My mother was an artist and bon vivante.

When did you first take an interest in public performance?

The moment someone took notice of me! My first stage role was playing a Pig. I followed this up by playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Where did you go to school?

I went to boarding school at The King’s School in Parramatta.

Who was the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?

Eric Sowerby Drake. He taught me English and performed the whole of Julius Caesar standing on his desk with academic gown flowing.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

Growing gherkins!
 
John Allen, John Hargreaves and Ned Manning in The Odd Angry Shot (1979)

What was your first paying job in the film business?

I had a tiny role in The Odd Angry Shot (1979).

Noni Hazlehurst, Ned Manning and Bryan Brown, in The Shiralee (1987).

You were a teacher for thirty years, yet managed to appear in some twenty-eight films and/or TV shows at the same time. How does a fulltime teacher moonlight as a movie star?

I wasn’t a full time teacher for all that time. I taught for five years and then worked as an actor for the next fifteen years. I returned to teaching part time so was still acting/writing. I somehow juggled all three for about ten years when I taught at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. That was tricky, as I outline in my book Playground Duty.
 
Ned Manning and Natalie McCurry in Dead End Drive-In (1986)

Were you ever tempted to move to Hollywood and try your luck there?

I did have a chance to go to Hollywood but I had a very young son at the time and saw my future in the Australian Film Industry. That’s the way it was for most of my generation of actors. There was also a lot more work here in those days compared to today.

One of your early films was Dead End Drive-In (1986). Did you have any sense at the time that it would end up as one of the iconic Australian films of the period?

The history of Dead End Drive-In is quite extraordinary. It was a big hit at Cannes with a big sale to New World Pictures. They were going to release it on 1200 screens around the USA. They then wanted to dub our voices with American accents. We refused. It got an Art House release and surprisingly good reviews. The Australian release was very low key. The reviews were good but there was no publicity. I expected it to never see the light of day again so I am amazed that it continues to have a life. It was recently re-released on DVD in the US and the UK. Who’d 'a' thought?

What was it like working with Brian Trenchard-Smith?

Interesting. He’s quite a character. He never forgave me for fibbing about my age. I was ten years older than I said I was!

Pia Miranda, Kick Gurry and Ned Manning in Looking for Alibrandi (2000)

You appeared in Looking For Alibrandi (2000). It has been claimed many times that the novel of the same name, on which the film was based, is the book most often stolen from Australian high school libraries. As a teacher, why do think that is?

I think it’s a wonderful story about identity and the dramas of teenage life. It struck a chord with thousands of non-Anglo Aussie kids. I love the film.

Do you prefer acting for film or TV? What are the major differences?

I like both. The essential difference is time. Much more time is given to a scene in film. I was very lucky to be around during the mini series boom and there were some wonderful stories told in TV in that era. TV is bouncing back again with Pay TV and the ABC doing great work.

You’ve written so many plays (I couldn’t find a definitive list, but there must be two dozen of them). What drove you to playwriting, given you had other expressive outlets as an actor and teacher?

I love writing and I love theatre so I guess it was a natural progression to write plays. I love the rigour and challenge of playwriting. There is nothing like seeing your words come alive in front of a live audience.

If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book to a newbie writer in Adelaide, which one would it be?

William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade.

What are your ten favourite movies of all time?

In no particular order:
Spartacus (1960)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The Godfather (1972)
Breaker Morant (1980)
Wake in Fright (1971)
The Graduate (1967)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1978)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)

What’s next for Ned Manning?

I have just finished writing a new play. I’m playing “Chairman of the Board” in David Parker’s new film, The Menkoff Method (2014). I’m working on a screen adaptation of Playground Duty and I’ve got a new book in the pipleline.

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Friday, 14 February 2014

"Weightless" - Marconi Union

This eight minute song is a beautiful combination of arranged harmonies, rhythms and bass lines that helps slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower levels of the stress. The song features guitar, piano and electronic samples of natural soundscapes.

A study was conducted on 40 women, who were connected to sensors and had been given challenging puzzles to complete against the clock in order to induce a level of stress. Different songs were then played, to test their heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and brain activity.

According to Dr David Lewis-Hodgson, from Mindlab International, which conducted the research, this song induced the greatest relaxation, higher than any other music tested till date. In accordance to the Brain imaging studies, music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also ones associated with emotions. The song Weightless can make one drowsy; don't listen to it while driving.



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Thursday, 13 February 2014

The kindness of strangers

It amazes me how many small-minded people there are in the world.
Some people are cruel and write very harsh things to celebrities on Twitter. What you don't see when you send a nasty tweet is that it can cause pain. So to raise awareness, and hopefully make people think twice before they post something awful, we've once again assembled a group of famous faces to remind everyone that words hurt. ~Jimmy Kimmel Live

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why do we get nervous?

Written and created by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown.
What causes those butterflies in your stomach?


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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The art of close-ups

David Chen works in Communications at Microsoft, Seattle. He also hosts and produces The /Filmcast (the official podcast of /Film) and The Tobolowsky Files, in addition to television podcasts such as, A Cast of Kings, and The Ones Who Knock. His video work has been featured/mentioned in online publications such as Slate, Vulture, Indiewire, Laughing Squid, Devour, Bustle, Vimeo Staff Picks, and Digg.

In the following video, Edgar Wright joins David to chat about the art of filming close-ups.



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