I was always wondering what the different types of espresso beverages were and could never get a definitive answer out of anyone. Well, I finally found this nifty little chart courtesy of http://www.buzzfeed.com/jonah/espresso-chart that explains it nicely. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I just finished reading the book Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. He came to town about 3 years ago to teach, but little did I know who the world renowned teacher really was. Well, I was in for a surprise during the course of his seminar. It was probably one of the most mind bending, yet informative weekends I have been to, just ask anyone who has taken the course already. Being sick during the whole weekend didn’t help my situation.
Since I have started writing, I have read several books on screenwriting. They have all helped me to learn the basics of screenwriting, the history of Hollywood and how writers got their start as well as how the industry has changed over the last century. Robert McKee’s book concentrates on more of the science behind story. Although it is tailored towards the screenwriter, his techniques can be used for all types of writing. My eyes were opened after finishing the book and it allowed me to see the difference between good writing and great writing.
I encourage anyone who is looking into making their storytelling and communication better by picking up this book or audio book. It’s not a difficult read, but I think it will open your eyes to ‘story’ like no other book has.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Growing up watching films, I have always been fascinated by movie posters and the art behind them. The ones that really caught my eye were the realistic, illustrated ones that were best suited for the film of spic proportions. I figured that nowadays they might have taken a photo and used some sort of impressionist effect to get that painted look, but to my surprise and delight, these posters are still hand drawn or painted and on top of that, they are all done by the same person! That man is Drew Struzan.
Titan Books has now released a compilation of his work in a new book called The Art of Drew Struzan. Press Release: http://titanbooks.com/blog/out-now-art-drew-struzan/
I just thought I would share the info. Please take a look at some of his work. Here are a few of my favourites.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
For the first time in a long time, going to the movies is fun again! That’s right folks, I can’t remember the last time I have been this excited to go see a film and walk away from it feeling just as good. The film I am talking about is Inception by the creative genius of Christopher Nolan, and it did not disappoint. Since this was a Chris Nolan film, I knew it was going to be released at a certain level of quality. If there is one thing that you rely on about Mr. Nolan, is that he will not release anything that isn’t written well. It all starts with a good story.
Chris Nolan also knows that spectacle can’t carry a story. This film was flooded with traditional and CGI special effects. Things that we have all seen before in one way or another, but they were done in a complexly new and different way and that did not deter the writer from having a great story to tell.
Everything about this film came together, from the music, to the original story and how it was all put together. It has so many elements, but did not leave the audience in the dust wondering what just happened. Every single member of the cast was exceptional and fit perfectly with their characters. I love all these actors from previous films and it was a delight to see them all work together on one film.
Prestige goes to Mr. Nolan for keeping it clean. On top of all these wonderful story elements, he managed to have no more than a couple of swears, little to no gratuitous violence and nothing crude in the film. Inception proves everything I have said and thought about filmmaking. Start with a good script and only add what is necessary to carry the story forward. Other filmmakers today have it backwards.
To my pleasant surprise, audiences have taken to this film and are raving about it all over. I’m really glad to hear this, as I probably have not given the viewing public enough credit. They want good films, but the general filmmaking population is starving them of it. Thanks Chris for making films that you believe in. I hope I can do the same.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"Coffee Shop" has been entered into the Openfilm "Get It Made" film competition. Voting is only available for members of the site, so please consider signing up for a FREE account and voting for the film today!
Sign up here:
Watch and vote here:
The winners will be announced in September!
Please spread the word! Thanks a lot, your support is greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Are we running out of ideas, or are we just lazy? It seems that every film in the theatre or song on the radio seems to be a rehash of something nostalgic or it is original with no substance to it at all. You have to wonder if this is because no one has any good, original ideas or because the people who produce such pieces of art are playing it safe and producing what will be a guaranteed money maker. I know in film this is extremely evident and becoming almost comical, with the production companies playing it safe and remaking everything in the past 30 years or so, but it seems that this is panning over into the music industry and other industries as well.
This phenomenon reminds me of the art deco style of architecture of the 1920s and 30s. Buildings were pieces of art that were pleasing to the eye and people could be proud of. Now, with a few exceptions, people are hard pressed to find a building that is not economically made as possible; big square buildings with little thought put into it. I understand because of the depression throughout the 30s that things had to change, but they never did bounce back. The houses we live in seem to be made the same way these days. It’s all about economy and now we are even seeing that the craftsmanship in the very washer/dryers and refrigerators put into these houses. Nothing lasts for than 5 years, whereas if you had an appliance from 30 years ago, it would outlast something bought last week.
Although I will give the music industry credit, the instrumental artists out today are fabulous and have been creating great music that are some of the greatest there is, but the lyrics are repetitious and don’t say anything. Music used to be about telling the world something, now it is just a way to sell records.
There is a line drawn between art/expression and a business, but I think it’s time to turn that balance in the other direction. Life can be a tough place and boring at times, so when people go to escape, to an otherworldly experience in a theatre or in their rooms listening to the radio, it would be great for them to experience something better that what we are giving them as a society. Let’s put some effort into our craft and hope and pray that he public demands better as well.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I felt a tremor the other day. The ground moved. The ground…moved! I’m sure this is a more common occurrence to the residence of California, but to me, from the Great White North, it was a surreal experience. Now, I didn’t come close to feeling an actual earthquake, but I was about 3 or 4 hrs. away from the epicenter and could feel the tremors of an aftershock. It was an interesting experience and having the ground ‘wobble’ back and forth beneath your feet is unsettling to say the least. I could only imagine how it could go from something so small to a real 7.2 earthquake like was felt by the people in Baja on Sunday, where this specific one took place.
I’m not going to pretend to begin to understand what it’s like to go through an actual earthquake, but it does put things in perspective when you hear about disasters such as this happening around the world.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
One day a friend of mine told me they were going to a Nightwish concert. Normally I would not have thought anything about it, as I had never heard of them before, but the name intrigued me and I decided to look them up. I’m glad I did. They are one of the best bands that I have heard in a long time and if their music isn’t your style, I think you will have to agree that they are definitely one of the most talented.
They are a hard rock/heavy metal band, mixed with an operatic vocalist and a touch of inspiration from film soundtracks. That last one is the reason why I think I like them so much. Very few musical genres bring out as much emotion in me as the musical soundtrack. If a score is done well, there is nothing that compares. I am also into hard rock and some harder metal and Nightwish combines both elements of music that I love into an awesome composition.
Nightwish is from Finland and they have been around since 1996. I liked them so much after I first heard them, that I bought the 8 disc box set of their studio albums, although they have a lot more including EPs and singles.
All the musicians in the band are incredible artists however, the parts that stand out to me most, are the orchestral arrangements and the drumming. I have never heard a drummer play so well, fast and with so much variety throughout an album. Definitely give this band a listen. They are exciting to listen to and entertaining to watch.
Bellow are 2 of my favorite songs.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Take a look at a list of all the films that are playing in the theatres today. Look at them in the past 2 to 4 years. A good majority of them are based on one of these categories:
- A sequel
- A sequel to a sequel (and beyond)
- A prequel
- A remake (of the original version of that movie)
- An adaptation (from a TV show, novel or other medium)
- An original screenplay
Only one of these categories took some imagination. Ouch! Don’t yell at me yet. I’m not saying it doesn’t take skill, creativity or raw talent to create from the other categories, but a lot of the work has been done for you. I’m definitely not saying there isn’t a place for these types of films, I’m just saying that most of the time they are unnecessary. I’m the biggest fan of sequels, adaptations and even serials, when warranted.
As for remakes, if a film has done well in the past, especially if it has become a classic, it doesn’t need our help to try and make it better and as filmmakers, you will not make it any better. That is why it’s called a “classic”. (Side Note: How about filmmakers try and remake movies that didn’t do well. They already know what mistakes were made and can improve upon them.)
|Great||The Italian Job||Original||Remake|
I haven’t seen the original yet, but from what I’ve heard, this was a good example of taking a relatively unknown film (to today's audience) and remaking it into a fun film.
|Unnecessary||12 Angry Men||Original||Remake|
I haven't seen the remake of this film, but I do know that after watching the original, it quickly became one of my favorite films. I was almost upset when I even found out there was a more modern version. It’s a near perfect film and doesn't need to be remade.
It seems like film companies are going down the list of films that they have made over the past few decades and are signing up all the same films to be remade. Their past films are becoming a checklist of films to be made. It’s really sad. Now, how about making a re-release? I think it would be great for the film industry and for fans to re release old prints of films from yesteryear. Wouldn’t it be great to see the classics from decades ago on the big screen? Sigh…
If a movie made a certain amount of money, then a sequel is a sure thing. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, because the same audience who saw the first one, is sure to see it again…right?
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The first film wasn’t great, but they did an okay job at adapting from the original. Was a sequel warranted? I think so. It had so much potential, but followed the same poor formula, relying on special effects to cover up a lackluster story and as a result, didn’t get great reviews.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: This is one of the most unnecessary remake/prequel/adaptations around. The first Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a great film. It was adapted well from the Disney ride, it was funny, it had a great cast and was just a really good movie. The second two had a lot of potential and although were not necessary, they were something to look forward to. They turned out to be less than good because of the horrible story towards the end of the third film. It actually felt like the writers needed an ending so badly that they rushed it out with whatever first came to mind.
Spider-Man 4: I’m torn on this one. As long as filmmakers follow the direction I left in my Superhero Movie post, I think everything would be okay. The Spider-Man franchise has many years of good stories to adapt, they don’t need us messing them up. As long as the filmmakers crank out good films, they should continue to make them (like James Bond?). This was going well for the first two films, then the writers wavered too far from the original content and threw in their own ideas. Big mistake. Redeem yourselves with another well written sequel. No, wait! Let’s reboot the series! What? It’s way too soon for a reboot. Okay fine, reboot it, but do it well. The Spider-Man franchise deserves it.
Tron Legacy: This film has the potential to be the greats sequel ever! It also could be a horrible flop. I’m definitely looking forward to this sequel and from hearing what the director, Joseph Kosinski had to say (Interview), I think it will be in good hands. The movie was largely based on technology at the time. Technology has progressed so much (in film and in the story) that this film almost had to be made. We’ll see how they do.
Adaptations are great and necessary. Few people knew that Jaws, was a book before it became Stephen Spielberg's hit film. Today though, adaptations seem more and more like an excuse to not think of anything original.
I can just imagine what a conversation might be like in one of the big studios.
One executive says to another, “Okay, get two comedians that work well together and put them in another film. It’s a winning combination and we need another film!”
“But we don’t have any ideas.”, said the other executive.
The first executive suggests, “Just use <insert popular 70s/80s TV show here> as the basis for your story.”
“Ha, perfect!”, he shouted.
Alright, I’m not too sure where I was going with that one, but it sounded funny at the time.
Good Writing Is Necessary
Everything is a formula these days, and I hope we as an audience and filmmakers wise up and get creative again. Not all these movies are bad, but for the most part, they are mostly unnecessary. It’s been a while since I have actually been excited to go see a film, and this year finally some movies are coming out that I really can’t wait to see (sequels, remakes and all). The majority of the movies out today fit into one of the first five categories and people are hard pressed to find an original screenplay that has made it to the big screen. When there is one that does make it, about half the time you find one that is any good. Is that because there are no original screenplays out there, or is it because the large companies refuse to take a risk on them? I think it’s both. First, I think that writers today are getting lazy. I know it’s a tough business, but people are taking the easy way out and it’s losing it’s place as an art form and becoming something entirely different. Secondly, the production companies are scared. They think they have found a formula that works and as a business, it’s a smart move. The problem is that the scales are tipping too far in one direction between the film industry being an art form and it being a business. As always, balance is essential. We need writers to write good, well thought out stories, executives to take a chance on them and an audience who cares enough to be entertained.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I’m pretty sure most of the worlds population doesn’t know what the term “literally” means. I like Dictionary.com’s explanation. It literally means:
IPA: /ˈlɪt ər ə li/
- in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
- in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
- actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
- in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually
Notice it says “without exaggeration”, but most people use
it for exaggeration. This is especially embarrassing when TV personalities or talk show hosts (rhymes with “Goprah”) abuse this word. Just some examples I have heard were:
- “It literally took forever…” –There is no way to know that about anything. If it literally took forever, you would still be waiting for it to happen.
- “It literally turned the world upside down.” –No, it didn’t. The world did not physically move or shift one bit as a result.
- “I was literally blown away, it was so good!” –This needs some interpretation, but it either means you are dead right now or a wind was so strong it actually moved you from one location to another.
I hope people are getting this. In a time when exaggeration no longer has any effect, people go above and beyond and abuse this buzzword, which it turns makes them look ignorant.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Driving down the highway, is something I have to do everyday to get to work. It’s not a long distance but about 8 minutes of highway driving. As I drive, I can see a very large sign that reads “Slower Traffic Keep Right”. I see so many drivers not obeying this rule. Not only is it a good rule to live by, but it actually tells you to do that on the side of the road. I guess people don’t understand what this statement means, or I guess they just haven't learned to read. There are valid reasons for this, including the most important one, giving emergency vehicles the ability to pass when needed.
A lot of people are driving the speed limit or faster in the left lane and some people think that is not right either, but it is not our job to slow them down by driving there. Let the cops, deal with them. That is not the issue. We don’t know their circumstances and it’s their choice if they want to drive fast and deal with the consequences, as long as they also get into the right lane after passing.
I understand that “slower” is suggestive. Who is slower? “That guy is driving pretty fast so he can go in the left lane.” No, there is always someone faster. A good rule is to be sure you are always in the right lane unless you are passing someone. There is nothing worse (well there is) than two cars going the same “slow” speed, side by side on a two lane highway. That’s common driving courtesy and etiquette.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
It seems like movies today are flooded with CGI effects. Some movies are entirely made on the computer, while others use subtle elements of computer generated imagery. Now without the miracle of computers, it would be quite impossible to have a lot of the movies that we have today, superhero films especially, but sometimes it seems that filmmakers go out of their way to use effects whenever possible, even when they are unnecessary, either because it is ‘the thing to do’ or because of cost/time restrictions.
I’m a huge fan of traditional techniques whenever possible, not because I can’t create computer effects, but because it simply looks more real to me. As subtle as some CGI effects are, you can always point them out (Yes as good as Avatar is, it still ‘looks’ computer generated). There is always something wrong with the physics or texturing that never looks quite right. It looks good, but not quite natural. Now, hang a guy from a trapeze wire or get a stuntman to jump from a building and it looks real, why because it is! Real things have no choice but to follow the laws of physics weather you want them to or not.
Good examples of this are the new Spider-Man films. Below is a great clip of Spider-Man swinging.
Even with Spider-Man super strength it’s hard to believe that he could swing so fast and so high. Swinging from web to web probably wouldn’t look quite like that, but I understand it would be a little hard to get a stuntman to do what Spidey can do. Other other hand, look at The Dark Knight. Whenever possible Christopher Nolan would use real explosions, real stuntmen and traditional effects. It’s flawless and one of the best looking modern films I have seen. Below is a great clip on one of the hardest stunts performed in the film. they talk about how easy it would be to use CG effects, but they stuck to traditional techniques.
When so many computer effects are being used in every film, it’s hard for the spectacle to leave an impression anymore. I’m not surprised when the 50 foot whatever comes out and attacks because you can model anything on a computer workstation and spit it out on the screen with virtually the same ease as any other creature. It comes down to how you use the creatures, models, effects. Do they progress the film forward or do they distract the viewer? The topic of this post is not “Bashing CGI Effects”, but it will be interesting to see when the average moviegoer catches on and gets bored of such effects, will there be an underlying story there to keep them entertained?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Avatar was one of the better movies of the year. The 3D CGI and motion capture was extremely well done and the story was okay. Overall it was a thoroughly entertaining film and I want to give it the credit that it deserves. James Cameron did a great job utilizing the latest technology to see his dream come to the screen as best as possible and I want to commend him for that.
I keep hearing the word “revolutionary” attached to this film however, I don’t see anything revolutionary about it. I have heard quotes such as “It will change the way filmmaking is done forever”, but I’m not so sure anything will change as a result of this film. Film is progressing like it always has. There are two, maybe three recent films that I can think of that warrant quotes like that and changed the way films were done forever. They were pioneers in the industry and took big risks on the technology they were using.
The first one being Jurassic Park. I have never seen an audience more surprised when they saw “live” dinosaurs walking around. This was done by using a combination of “revolutionary” computer generated effects and model dinosaurs. This film helped start the CGI revolution and inspired many films after it’s release. That film has some of the best looking effects, even with today’s standards. That was back in 1993.
The second film being Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. This was the first film I can think of that used computer generated effects and motion capture to model “life-like” human characters and sci-fi landscapes for the entire film. People were saying that this technology would replace live actors one day. That was in 2001.
Well, they were sort of right. This technology had advanced and was then used in the epic trilogy Lord of the Rings. The character of Gollum really utilized facial recognition technology. That was from 2001-2003.
Since all these movies have come out, I have learned what the computer can do. It has been an invaluable resources for editing as well as post production special effects and since I have seen movies like these, I have learned never to be surprised at what Computer Generated Imagery can do. As technology gets better, it just makes sense that the effects will get better and easier to implement over time. Movie goers have come to be surprised at these effects and have forgotten that the backbone of a film is the storyline. Filmmakers have forgotten about this as well and have learned to cover up poor writing with spectacle and special effects, but I’ll save that for another article.
Having said all that, James Cameron gave credit in interviews to films like these as his inspiration (specifically Lord of the Rings and King Kong). Most of the thanks for Avatar has to go out to the wonderful effects artists at WETA Digital, and I was pleasantly surprised with James Cameron at The Golden Globes for thanking them throughout his speech. They are the geniuses behind the movie and they brought Mr. Cameron's vision to the screen nicely.
So, when people start throwing bold phrases around like “revolutionary” and “changing the face of film forever”, they should think about what they are saying and not just doing it for promotional purposes. If they don’t explain what they mean, it makes them look ill-informed. I’m not saying what Cameron did wasn’t good for film and I’m not even saying that this isn’t the best display of CGI effects to date, but it is a progression that will keep getting better in time and will be outdone in years to come.
On one hand, maybe I’m the ill-informed one, and movies will never be the same after Avatar’s release, but I don’t want people to be fooled by spectacle over story. On the other hand, Avatar may not change the way films will be made, but I know for sure that CGI/Motion capture movies of the past changed the way Avatar was made. Revolutionary or not, future movies will be inspired by Avatar. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I’m a big fan of giving artists recognition when it is deserved, especially when they offer their services for free. Years ago I discovered a band called Fono. They are an extremely talented band. They virtually have no ‘skip-worthy’ songs on any of their albums. You know you are dealing with a good artist when everything you hear from them sounds great and gets better with every listen. It’s hard not to be impressed with the fast, hard hitting drumming and raw vocals as well as their female bassist which is refreshing to see and a nice touch to the band’s lineup.
So why am I writing about them? Well they go above and beyond in my opinion and not only have they performed some of my favorite music, they are giving away their latest album for free! Yes, please sample this band out and see for yourself. Go visit http://fono.net/download.php and just download the Mp3s. I think this is probably their best album yet, and one of my favorite complete albums from any band. I love every song on it and this is someone who is very critical of today’s saturated music market. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This morning I was at a 4 way stop. To bad someone met me there around the same time and went right through the intersection. So, when did people start thinking a rolling stop was the same as a legal full stop? I guess since the dawn of automobiles. Even though you should do a full stop every time, you think people would have the decency to make a full stop when other people are around, or even more so at the same intersection. This is a regular occurrence here, and a rolling stop saves about zero seconds on your travel time.
Regardless, I let him know how I felt with a huge piece of my horn. That’ll learn ‘em.
Oh yeah, another thing. I was driving at lunch beside a stop sign, the guy was going to blow right through it and he saw me coming so he slammed on the breaks. Good thing he saw me and not the person trying to cross in front of him. “Shudder”. Good thing they saw him. They had to walk around his truck to cross the street. Oh yeah, the driver was on his cell phone.
Should we all go back to driver training? Should we have to get retested every five years? It might not be a bad idea.
Friday, January 15, 2010
We recently posted it on YouTube as well for everyone to enjoy. Please take a look and pass it on to whoever you think would like it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
We have gotten a lot of great feedback on the picture. Most of the funnier scenes were not even written in the script. It turned out to be a really fun project.
|Directed by:||Jonathan Lantz |
|Written by:||Jonathan Lantz |
|Cast:||Kyle Thulien |
|Original music by:||Kyle Thulien|
|Post Software:||Sony Vegas|
I can only say this about Alberta because it’s the place I drive on a daily basis. We have to be the worst drivers…ever! It’s pretty sad when people get so ignorant, they forget something as simple as a turn signal, something that can be so important and takes next to no effort to perform. I don’t care if there is no one (and I literally mean not one person) around on some back road, but as soon as there is one or more people driving, or walking, in the same area as you, use it, regardless of how far they are away.
The worst, is when drivers fail to use their signaling device while trying changing to get into a turning only lane, then they finally decide to signal when making a turn in which they have to choice to make anyways. It’s unbelievable, and I see this on a daily basis.
Don’t even get me started on people going through an intersection using a turning only lane. It happens here all the time. So, fellow drivers, if ever visiting Alberta, Canada, drivers beware. Welcome to redneck Alberta.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I have never posted to a blog, but hearing about the release of Spider-Man 4, or a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise made me want to start one. First of all, it is completely unnecessary and definitely too soon for a franchise reboot. Just because the 3rd movie wasn't any good and even if the main actors do not return to the series, does not mean you have to “reboot” the entire series. They have a good ground work to go on and no one wants to relive the origin story again.
The problem with this franchise and all other superhero movie adaptations, is the production companies try to milk these movies for all they are worth. I am perfectly aware that they are in it for the money and that the film industry is a business, but if you don’t please the fans, these movies will fail.
Whatever director you assign to a superhero franchise has to love the source material. I don’t think it’s enough to be familiar with the comics. You need to have a vast knowledge of them as well as wanting to see them succeed for what they are. These comics have had success for 10 to 60+ years; decades before a lot of these filmmakers were even born, and they don’t need any of us to rewrite them or change them. They have a working model and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The directors job is to convey that story to the screen as best as possible and for the most part these guys have done a great job.
Who am I?
Who am I to speak to this topic anyways? Well, first of all I am a comic fan. I probably have over 3000 comics and have collected them since I was very young. I am also a lover of good films, and an aspiring filmmaker myself. I think the matchup of comics & film in this day and age is the best thing to happen to both industries in a long time. I don’t want to see anyone mess it up. Comics are the perfect “treatments” for filmmakers to work from. They have tried and tested stories and I can’t wait to see what comes out next. I have a lot to say on this topic, but let’s leave it here for now.