ENJOY THE SHOW
Have you ever wanted to be a projectionist? Back in the days when 35mm projectors could be found in every theater, in every cineplex, in every town. Nowadays they're lost relics of a different time. That doesn't mean we can't still learn about the art of projection and how it works, in hopes that we may teach this art to future generations. Bill Hammack, also known as "engineer guy" on YouTube, has posted a video examining the mechanics of how a film projector works. He spends most of his time with a 16mm projector, but it's the same general idea for 35mm projection. And it's just fascinating to learn the actual engineer dynamics of how a projector works, and how they fixed the flickering effect created by the mechanics inside the machine.
"I like to arrive in front of the camera with all the information that I can possibly need." He's a legend. I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet up with actor Ian McKellen in New York City earlier this week for an afternoon interview. I met at his hotel near Central Park, and we spoke briefly before his appearance on a Reddit AMA. We could've chatted for the entire afternoon, but I didn't want to delay him any further. I interviewed him for his new film Mr. Holmes, where plays an aging Sherlock Holmes. I saw the film in Berlin and loved it so much that my effusive quote is featured in the trailer and on the official poster for the film. He's played many of my favorite characters, and I tried to ask some interesting questions about acting.
It is my tradition to kick off Comic-Con by walking the showfloor on preview night and taking photos of anything movie-related that interests me. This year the showfloor is overrun with Star Wars everywhere, for obvious reasons considering we have The Force Awakens coming up. There were also some discoveries like The Iron Giant at WB and plenty of other props or maquettes or models. I made my way through the crowds and snapped as many shots as I could before getting out, but there will certainly be more to come at the end (as I always try to go back). For now, take a look at our 2015 preview night gallery with lots of props.
"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.