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"There was a lot of unrequited dino love out there." A few years ago, a little film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called Safety Not Guaranteed. It earned praise from critics and introduced a filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow, who later landed the gig of a lifetime - directing a brand new Jurassic Park movie, to restart the series again after it died with JP3 in 2001. Colin Trevorrow is the director of Jurassic World, a continuation of Michael Crichton's vision of a dinosaur theme park that Steven Spielberg made us all believe in back in 1993. It's already breaking box office records. A week before it hit theaters, I was lucky enough to spend 15 minutes chatting with Colin (on the phone) talking about creative control, Spielberg, the attention he's getting nowadays, and how he pulled off a movie like this as only his second feature as a filmmaker.
"Dig deep inside yourself and face all of your inner demons, and make friends with them." Need some advice? Need some inspiration, or encouragement? The latest video from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is a questions session what advice various artists would have for other aspiring filmmakers. It's not just filmmakers providing advice, it's other actors, screenwriters, DPs, composers, such as - Hans Zimmer, John Ridley, Daniel Bruhl, Peter Morgan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Geoffrey Rush, David Oyelowo, Lee Daniels, Forest Whitaker, Sean Bobbitt and many others. It's a healthy dose of artistic optimism to keep you ambitious. Plus a reminder to never give up, to keep fighting even if it seems impossible, and give it your all.
"If there are mountains, let's climb them. If there are buildings, let's jump off them." One of the most inspiring documentaries I've seen recently is Sunshine Superman, which premiered at TIFF and the New York Film Festival last year. It's an exhilarating and amusing and nostalgic story of Carl Boenish, one of the founders of BASE jumping, a man full of so much joy. Sunshine Superman is directed by Marah Strauch, a young filmmaker making her feature debut, but she made her mark and is definitely going places. I was lucky enough to catch up with Marah while she was in New York City for a brief visit, and I asked her a bunch of questions about how she made Sunshine Superman, and what her plans are moving forward now.
"These are the modern masters of the art and science of special effects." Now this is good. Earlier in the week we featured the image from Wired's story about the "Magic" of ILM, or Industrial Light & Magic, and their extensive history as a special effects/visual effects house. Well, to follow up that fantastic look back, our friends at SlashFilm have found a vintage video from 1984 looking inside ILM and it's a must watch. It's an episode of NOVA, that long-running documentary television show, and it's all about "The Magic of Special Effects". Up to this point, it really was all about practical special effects and it's kind of amazing and inspiring to look back at how they pulled off this cinema magic back then. They profile films like Explorers, Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. You just need to watch this!
On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness. Bleecker Street Media has finally debuted a poster for the film Pawn Sacrifice, the long-delayed chess movie about the legendary Bobby Fischer. At one point David Fincher was attached to direct, but it was eventually made with Ed Zwick at the helm, and premiered at TIFF last year (read my review here). Tobey Maguire stars as Bobby Fischer, and Liev Schreiber (in one hell of a performance) plays his Russian rival, Boris Spassky. I really, really like this poster - while it does have the lead actor front and center, it's unconventional in other ways, and I love the chess pattern design in the corner. Nice work, design agency. More posters as unique as this one, please.
Celebrating 40 Years of Creating the Impossible! If you are a movie lover, you know ILM. Also known as Industrial Light & Magic, ILM was originally created by George Lucas as an effects house for the original Star Wars, and lead the industry for decades in special effects. They were the first to introduce computer-generated FX into movies in Young Sherlock Holmes (and The Abyss), and have since revolutionized (and blazed trails in) the CGI VFX industry. ILM is not only preparing for a new Star Wars franchise, but they're also the VFX house behind the new Warcraft movie as well as Michael Bay's Transformers and Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim. So, to celebrate, Wired has published a fascinating, extensive look at ILM's history.
"Do yourself a favor and pretend to care!" As usual, the Alamo Drafthouse often whips up new PSA videos about theater etiquette (no talking, no texting!) when the stars roll into town to promote a new release. This time it's Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller, but most of all, it's badass Australian actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, who plays Immortan Joe, telling you to "shut your face" and have a lovely day at the movies. Keays-Byrne is the same actor who played bad guy "Toecutter" in the original 1979 Mad Max, also directed by George Miller, and he's kind of amazing in this clip below. I'm glad he seems to be having so much fun promoting this. Nothing like combining old & new Mad Max, plus theater etiquette reminders, in one video.
I love this guy's art so much I'm proud to say I have one of his pieces on my wall. There's a new show from artist "Raid71" opening at the fantastic Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn, NY this weekend. The show is called "Illuminate" and focuses on his unique style with vivid colors. His pieces are inspired heavily by Blade Runner, but he also has work from Tron, Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, Dark City, Akira, Mean Streets, The Fisher King and more. He does some excellent work, and it really stands out on a wall, it's the kind that you want to buy and hang everywhere. Luckily we've got an early look at some art from the show.
Big screen, big sound, dinosaurs, beer, popcorn, pizza, no texting. Can it get any better than that? Alamo Drafthouse is providing one amazingly sweet deal by offering an exclusive, custom-made Jurassic World pint glass to customers who pre-order tickets to the see the new dinosaur movie in theaters this June. The pint glasses are actually velociraptor pint glasses, featuring a motif from the scene where Chris Pratt rides on his motorcycle with the raptors. It was illustrated by Eric Manche, and looks awesome in the photos. I want one, or two, or three, or all of them. No but seriously, this is cool, and I love that they're doing this and making it so easy to get them - just by pre-ordering. A few may be available to buy at theaters but that's it.
Geeks unite! This is one of my favorite films of the year, so I'm happy to keep writing about it, and I love the marketing for it so far. Instead of focusing on prestige and critics, they're selling Rick Famuyiwa's Dope purely based on how awesome the characters and story are - which is fine by me, because it's an excellent film (read my Sundance review) that deserves to find a wide audience. Musician Pharrell Williams, who is an executive producer on the film, debuted this new poster which isn't particularly artsy but does represent this film very nicely. On here you'll see Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons as three friends from Inglewood. Give it a look below, but most importantly mark down this release in your calendar.
Welcome to Another Year at the Movies with Jordan Jeffries. Just a few weeks ago I stopped by the 2015 MoCCA Arts Festival (hosted by the Society of Illustrators) in New York City, sort of like Artists' Alley at Comic-Con minus the rest of Comic-Con and only the artists. There I stumbled across and discovered one amazing, unforgettable comic book dedicated to a love of movies, titled Matinee Junkie. It was written and illustrated by cinephile Jordan Jeffries from New Jersey. I bought a copy of year one and the sequel, Matinee Junkie 2 (for 2014), which recaps each a year of his life as connected to the films he saw - including a full-size scan of the ticket stub. This is a must read comic book for any/every last movie lover out there.
Think you know everything about Steven Spielberg's style? Think again. We've already seen and posted a shot-by-shot analysis of Jaws before (view that one here), but this latest one breaks down and analyzes the filmmaking techniques Spielberg used in one particular scene in his shark thriller classic Jaws (released in 1975). Specifically, Julian Palmer takes a look at the early beach attack scene in Jaws, where the young boy gets eaten. It's a detailed analysis (perhaps over-analysis) but includes very intelligent references that will allow anyone to understand how beautifully this scene is crafted, and just how talented Spielberg really is. There's always more to learn about filmmaking techniques from films old and new, so always keep watching.
An early look at The Making of The Force Awakens. Disney kicked things off with a bang in Anaheim with the opening panel of Star Wars Celebration, taking place this weekend in Southern California. The panel included an hour long discussion and first look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, guided by director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy. They told stories of growing up with Star Wars, making sure the fans are satisfied (in every way), the daunting task of continuing this legacy when George Lucas decided to hand it over. In the background were slides showing various behind-the-scenes production photos, including on the desert planet Jakku (or is it Jaku?). And, to be frank, we love behind-the-scenes photos. This recap comes directly from the live stream of the Star Wars Celebration opening presentation.
"Go into a shoot with a bad script, and you're in big trouble." Playing in theaters now is the new sci-fi film Ex Machina, directed by screenwriter turned filmmaker Alex Garland. Garland is making his directorial debut with this film after writing the scripts for The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. A few years back I met up with him for an interview about Dredd, and we talked a lot about science fiction, and how the genre pushes itself forward. I met up with Alex Garland again, this time while he was in New York City to promote Ex Machina, and we again chatted about sci-fi and how much he loves the genre. As always, it was fun to sit down and talk with Alex about filmmaking and much more. Fire it up!