Film

9.7.14 - 9.14.14 - THE LIST

Film list from the previous week:

1. Steamboy - Kazahuro Otomo 
2. Metropolis - Rintaro 
3. Battles Without Honor and Humanity - Kinji Fukasaku
4. Dodes'ka-den - Akira Kurosawa
5. Galaxy Express 999 - Rintaro (the film version)

This was an anime heavy month for me, as I had to reexamine the form for various purposes. The sensibilities at times are out of sync with what I personally enjoy, but in other moments and depending on direction, the works are spellbinding.  

Some of my favorite films of all time are "anime", although most of those titles fall unto the Ghibli team, which mostly functions in a separate category then "anime" in it's most common associations. It's almost impossible to dislike what Ghibli produces, but I feel hesitant to even write about those works, because to do so feels heavily redundant. If you don't enjoy what Ghibil has to offer, you're probably not interesting in movies in general.  

But there are some other anime classics that remain deeply integrated into my psyche.  The sheer weight of imagery in AKIRA, the collective works of Satoshi Kon, and Shinichirō Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop series are some examples.  Yes, these examples are generally the touchstones for the genre, but again, I'm far from an expert in this subject.   

just gander at the insanity of this image....

just gander at the insanity of this image....


wass hap-en-in

Friends, hello.  I have not been writing up on this web device on the regular.  Maybe it's a lack of discipline, desire, or time.  It can possible be all of the above.

Irregardless, we have been quietly working on new things.  Many new things to be exact.  I recently directed some web sketches (people get angry if I call them skits) that were handed to me by one of my talented group of writing partners.  They are of the comic variety, something which I am not completely familiar with; but it was a blast, and I got to work with some talented, fun actors.  I'm not naming the project, since it works best without context for now.  

Also, I finished recordings for the new Mirs EP, MEAT ON YOUR LONELY BONEZ.  We haven't set a release date, but, it should be available in the next month or so.  THe second single (LIZA) should be available early Jan.

Lastly, I've been steadily shooting a long length film/media/whatever project since late Oct.  I want to wrap all principal photography by early March.  That's all I'll say about that. 

Now, there are other projects in varies stages of development, but these are the most tangible items.  I hope you guys tune in.

Best,
am

YOUNG BUCK available throughout the internets

Hello Friends - 

YOUNG BUCK is out now, and free to roam the vastness of the internet.  Here are three locations where you can watch, other then right on our very own front page.

And when you visit said site, please subscribe or follow or whatever that particular site refers to the act of "subscribing" .  Because when you do, I will be very excited knowing that we bonded in some form.  

Also, leave a nice comment if you where moved to do so. Nothing in the house of ANIMALS is done by force.  But a simple reminder may remind you, how this very little act enlivens our soul.

Youtube

Vimeo

Dailymotion

New works

Hello friends - 

This is a transmission from Prince Amir of Animals.  We are gearing for the release of two new works this month.

The first is a film titled YOUNG BUCK.  It will rather drop this Thursday or the following.  Please check back, or, just subscribe to my Youtube or Vimeo channels.  (you should do that regardless)

The other project is for the first single of the new MIRS EP, "Meat on Your Lonely Bones". 

Best to you, my friends. 

am

 

Young Buck.Still001.jpg

a thank you to Roger Ebert.

I'm pretty sure everybody that has had, at the very least, a sliver of interest in the movies and the language of cinema has a story to share about Roger Ebert.  

Whether it was about influence, or insight, or passion, or disagreement, Roger Ebert was big time.  

He loved movies so much, that it's inconceivable to think of any figure in these modern times, to exhibit the same anti-cynicism and commitment to cinema.  Almost all of us are in a sort of ambivalent love affair with movies these days.  For all the never ending enthusiasm and commitment to reach higher, there is always the death knell, the Holy Motors sign off.  Which was quite convincing by the way (btw ya’lls).

Somehow, both views fit.  But, it is fitting and sad, that Ebert, along with the rest of the classicist have now passed.  These were figures of what can be now called, "the good old days".  And we can cherish that, because its history has been written.  A place exists for the past.  It has happened, and it was witnessed.  The future however, is always a place of uncertainty.  Anxiety is birthed from the unknown.  And humans, given a dose of evolutionary psychology, always feel mixed about that which cannot be controlled.

The beauty of Ebert was that the man always committed to passionate thinking.  He was not afraid.  Nor was he afraid to change his mind.  

At his older age, he became a king of new media. With twitter, he could troll with the best of them.  His stance against video games as art was legendary.  Here was a man, not afraid of the consequences of thought, nor its expression.  Nor was he scared of being bullied for thinking.

Bombarded by children angered by an opinion, he pressed forward with what I can only assume was a grin.  Remember is beef with Vincent Gallo.  The man didn't back down from insults.  A classic game of "yo momma".  And he did this with a smile.  That's respectable. That’s heart.  

And no other critic could circumnavigate the mainstream all the while, championing the independent quite like Ebert. Who will ever have that leverage?  Who will ever care enough?

What a sincere love of something.  It was poetic to witness.  RIP Roger Ebert and thank you.  My mother thanks you.  She loved you.  

See you at the movies; home theater actually, because we all know that's where this is all leading, right?

gritty handheld style it is not, asshole.

After watching a recent Hollywood film lauded as one of the great achievements of the year (the year would be last), I did what I do when I can't seem to figure out the hype from the fact.  At the very least, my facts against mediocrity.

So, I turned into some reviews to hear the voice of the critic.  Now, I only do this after the movie.  Mostly, just to gauge the critical zeitgeist and maybe to pick up on points that I neglected, or tuned out possibly due to bias.  In fact, often, I want to be proved wrong.  I want to be moved to believe that the movie was a masterpiece and I was just being an asshole, or plainly, ignorant.

So, after flipping through a couple of these eloquent reviews, one phrase stood out from the rest, breathing fire into the cultural void of existence. "Gritty handheld style" was this very phrase.  

Everytime I read something so asinine, I want to stop and call out to my maker.  But the fact that this was repeated in no less then 5 reviews in back to back succession makes me think, that sometimes, people are in a haze of automation, devoid of anything critical, analytical, or imaginative.  

Gritty handheld style in this particular case was nothing at all gritty.  What the fuck does this describe?  Realism?  Well, in this particular case, not at all.  Does it describe fortitude or determination.  No.  50 million dollars with the best technical minds around making fiction never ever fucking equates to GRITTY.  Ever.  (well, actually, there are a couple cases historically.  this is not one.  and I'm assuming, the budget never crossed the 25million mark) 

What it does describe however, is that all these clowns picked up the same description from wherever the hell, like 10 years ago, and decided to use it again, and again, and again, and thus removing any descriptive quality about it, in favor of press releasing a review.  In today's language, this just fucking blows.

I call for an indefinite ban, and personal banishment for any hee-haw that uses the phrase, "gritty handheld style" to describe anything related to a film.  They can however, use it to describe their latest iphone video of there cat licking its nuts.  As long as the phone is not locked down on a tripod, and that it is in fact, gritty by definition.

curiosity.

What drives us forward?  In our younger development, we were propelled towards things in large part, because of a little thing called curiosity.  The shapes, the sounds, the textures, the possibilities of the world elicited a feeling of amazement, and a need to find out.  It was a world of endless wonder.  Limitless in scope and full of options.  A simple turn of the head informed of new opportunities.  

Then we grew up.  John Cassavetes has an interesting quote about MAN when he turns of age, and in his time, it was around 23.  I can't recall it of the top of my head, and instead of accuracy, I will paraphrase for affect instead.  Basically, he says that people lose interest in discovery around their early twenties.  All that music that got you moving, or art, or literature, or movies that challenged you, or where worthy of further investigation, all gone.  You grew up.  You put on your 3 piece, and got on with life.  The pattern, set in stone.

But what happened to life?  Curiosity was exchanged for order.  It was sold to dogma.  In our time, this process happens a little later.  Maybe in your late twenties, but possibly into you're early thirties.  We give up our search, usually by blaming the lack of time.  

Now, of course priorities change.  You have a baby, we get married, we have a multitude of responsibilities.  Shit, you have to provide for yourself.  Something that our 16 year old, first world self’s usually didn’t bother with, nor fathom its complexity.  But, what happened to the search for wonder, amazement?  Where does it go?

Do we just crawl to our evolutionary predisposition?  Does biology dictate that curiosity is not of value anymore.  “I AM WHAT I AM”, we love to say, as if, cemented from the beginning of time.

Isn't that a counterintuitive remnant of our past human life?  And here, I inject blatant commercialism that might resinate, since millions of dollars where spent to get you to buy something, by first associating two very different things.  "Stay thirsty my friends."

a light glistens.

a light glistens.

The Filmmakers Paradigm

Filmmaking is a stressful form.  Waiting is the norm.  No matter how enthusiastic, prepared and persistent you are, there are times where you must wait.

But, there is also another option.  The DIY route; birthed from a punk rock attitude, great to relieve temporary anxiety, or, in some cases, to reign over control and defeat anxiety.  To feel in charge, less frustrated and more enabled.  To be what seemed denied to you in world of gatekeeping foundations.

However, the ceiling is limited in height.  Not always, but more so than not.  What is this ceiling?  Audience, scope, professionalism, hierarchy, name talent, etc, etc.  Of course, none of these matter if your art beckons you to create what you need.

In my eyes, both are valid.  It's the execution of either form that matters.  But, what also matters is your piece of mind.  And if you can find it with no money, then do it.

But, filmmaking takes time.  Lots of time.  So, just know that the time you take for one thing, takes away from the other thing.  And sometimes, that particular  car chase you have in your mind does not lend itself to DIY.

What do you want?

Enter the POV.

True POV camera work is a relative staple in video games.  These games, often of the FPS (first person shooter) variety, imply a world as scene by the lead character, which by way of controller, is you, the player.

Similar to the field of vision of humans, we see exactly as the character does.  Some other information might be provided by the GUI (such as maps, weapons, etc), but essentially, you see the world through your eyes.  

Movies have used POV shoots as a supplementary technique for many years.  But, whereas it was a very difficult thing to achieve in Orson Welles world, it is easier to do in Gasper Noe's time.  The gear has gotten smaller.  The apparatus has changed.

In video games set pieces, we can move from a wide, to a follow, straight to a POV all in one movement.  

This camera flexibility and movement is the new norm in most Hollywood films.  In essence, the building of shot structure in a movie like BATMAN is rendered first in a computer.  It borrows heavily from video games.  But, a real world camera with real world actors can never be as flexible as the camera in a computer world.    

Now, here in lies a thought.  If, after all these years video games tried to be more like movies, what happens when movies try to be more like video games?

What happens when the story lines, graphics, writing gets as good or better than the movie version?  I'm sure many kids will argue that it already has.  

So, what now?  Its telling to note that the cost of the top tier tentpole video games cost as much or more then tentpole Hollywood films.  

At some point, the kids will stick to a world where there POV is in control, with options and feedback that a passive form like Hollywood movies cannot provide.  2 hours of passive entertainment versus 60+ hours of active entertainment.  You can argue that they are two different things, but, when both try to emulate one another, it becomes very hard to differentiate.

We need to get out of the passive.  We need to trust our audience a little more.  The short term gains from the sequel syndrome will have huge consequences in a few years.

The WHY's man, the WHY'S, man.

Ideas abound.  And so do scripts, treatments, synopsis's, scribbles, etc.  The challenge then and now has always been two fold (not true, but I like 2's).  Although, technology, access and credit cards make it a bit less strenuous at a certain threshold.   

A) The resources = Money, equipment, talent, time, etc.  

B) The "Why's".  Why do you want to invest the A's for the B's?  Be specific.  Search for the answer to the question, because this clears the clutter.  And, then you can judge whether the A is really worth the B for a particular project.

We can never predict the future.  You can write a 5 year, 10 year, 1 month, 7 month plan all you want.  And, I'll be the first to encourage it.  But, the world probably has other plans.  

You roll with it.  Don't put all your faith on a "singular" preconceived plan, one that is destined to change.  That's what life is.  One continuous ocean of swirls and currents and big FUCKING WHALES AND GIANT SQUIDS.    

Video Killed The Movie (at least for today)

Video is the new mainstream form.  I've been saying it for a few years now, but as it's producers have gotten more savvy with technology and techniques, they can mimic, but more importantly, innovative trends and styles in the visual medium at a hyper kinetic pace.  This is why individual music video directors are not as sought out as before.  Because, anybody with some visual map can do it.  And they are.  In droves.  You get the good and the bad, but, you get it all.  And fast.  And new, and fresh.  TV anyone?

That in lies the huge challenge for Hollywood and feature films in general (especially ones that really on novelty and gimmicks).  The human appetite for novelty knows no bounds.  And video quenches that thirst weekly, for 1/100th of the price.  Plus, for its consumers, hell, it's free.

That's why, in some weird essence, a movie like SPRING BREAKERS competes with RiFF RAFF and his once a week music videos (the man who I believe is the genesis of the film, even if it be subconscious).  RiFF RAFF has been around for a few years, doing videos which are in the same spirit of the feature film.  For people familiar with his work, the movie feels tedious and outdated.

Of course, I'm exaggerating to make some point.  But, we cannot turn a blind eye to this phenomenon.  It exists.  Just today, I watched a well made, action POV music video that is buzzing the net. Comments include, "best thing I've ever seen", or "hollywood can never touch this".  Of course, this happens almost weekly and is a by product of internet hyper hyperbole. And, once the surface of the video is scratched, the novelty wears off quick.  But, the savvy generation has seen it, internalized it and moved on.  

You can no doubt see that this is where the wellspring of ideas originate these days.  And, by the time Hollywood or some indie director rips it off and places the same scene in a larger context, it's already old news for the next generation.  They've seen it, experienced it, and moved on to about 20 other new things.  This generation doesn't place the same importance on scale as they did before.  In the game of originality, who done it first is as important as who done it better.

For feature films to keep a footing in its proper place, it must rely on it's core strengths, that of unique storytelling, expression and originality no matter how difficult. The rerun, sequel game is not a long term strategy.  If it is, ruin is almost guaranteed.  Once the nerds turn away because there favorite comic book video game is better than the movie, well, then what?  You don't think that's going to happen?  

Long form films must also adapt to a faster distribution strategy.  One that keeps it fresh in a market that changes faster than a blink of an eye. Certainly not an easy task.

The Cosby's vs Tarkovsky

Does size and scale matter in how we perceive works of art?

How about in cinema?  

It seems that a certain threshold is subjective, but that in the majority, a standard must be reached before subjects are comfortable enough to identify said object.

In the case of cinema, this is the budget threshold, which most often refers to production value.

Although we have seen a large influx and adherence to lo-fi in almost all areas of media (music, video, design) it seems that its consumption is temporary and best served on short segments.

The feature film is altogether a different animal.  When we think of scale, does the medium of film in this day and age, have any rights to claim itself to art.

I'm sure this might get your blood boiling.  but give it a good swirl in the noggin.  

Movies are, and always will be a business masquerading as pop-art.  Once this distinction is made, our reaction to it is clearer. After all, is Tarkovsky any more arty than The Cosby show?

The answer of course is yes, but it becomes incredibly difficult to define properly.  And if so, to what degree and who gets the rights to final assessment?

Much Ado About Nothings

I spend the least amount of time I can these days going through feeds that refer to filmmaking.  

Ironically (wrong word here), filmmaking is the thing I spend most of my time doing. I just try not to pay attention to the daily "news", since I think it's a destructive habit in the long run.  Especially in a field that naturally cycles so slow. (this is obviously changing, like in every human endeavor)  

The latest fad.  The newest thing.  Something happened in crowdfunding.  Panasonic released a new 10k digital camera.  So and so just released her 10th film.

All this constant noise.  All this to do about nothings.  I think it's better to focus on the task's at hand.  In front of your face.  Or, your family.  Your world.  Your puppy. Take care of that first.  And when some time is left over, get better at other things.  

The rest of it, what Ted Hope happened to say today, or what's in the latest post at Filmmaker Mag, or what gang sign Justin Bieber threw up today  (see what I'm saying) probably doesn't matter in the big picture.

Now, I'm not saying that stuff isn't important.  It is, it's domain knowledge.  You might benefit from it.  But, not everything second.  Probably not everyday.  And, if you're trying to make a mark, like a real lasting one, why thread in the water with all the other fish?  

A little bit of Charlie Munger, Charlie Parker, and Charlie Brown will get your head clearer then your retort at someones latest blog post about NO-BUDGET FILMMAKING or HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY IN 60 MINUTES.  

Stay original.  Don't worry about the noise.  Don't worry about the grain.  Grain is beautiful after all.