Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the Lot 5 finalists; film in a school literacy program; babies in Hollywood; remember PGL

On The Lot, July 31: Andrew Hunt was sent home. Zach learned that the vote was very close, and that, despite his amazing run of hits, he had almost been “it.” Jerry O’Connell played in the film for the director with the most votes, which this week was Jason. The guest judges were Gary Ross, and Penny Marshall, Garry’s sister, who sounded like him.

This week the these was Cars. (No, I haven’t seen the animated feature.) Films with a lot of visual activity (as do these) will employ technical devices, like "time jumps" that speed the story up, that I personally don't know how to edit, but they probably fall outside the more familiar issues of cinematic storytelling.

Driving Under the Influence (Adam Stein) has a car radio that makes drivers or people near by do things. Total manipulation. It’s good if you can make a cop who pulls you over do a number from “Hairspray.” I thought this film needed Nikki Blonsky (as a police officer).

Backseat Driving Test
(Sam Friedlander). I don’t think any DMV would even put your mother in law through this. It’s a bit safe to be a Passenger Side driver. Or maybe to drive a right-hand vehicle in Britain or Australia. Did anyone see Rupert Grint’s “Driving Lessons”?

The Bonus Feature Two (Zach Lipovsky). It’s ballsy to make a trademarkable franchise out of the concept that almost got you eliminated. This time the sequel works much better than the original. I’m not sure that I can think of an example in real life (not even “Open Water”). This time the car entertainment facility brings on the Pirates of the Caribbean, and all the gizmos needed to defeat them. Zach stays away from darker areas where the visual setups could take us. What makes the film work is that the relationship between the boy and girl as characters actually develops. This one has a little Jerry Bruckheimer on it. Zach's YouTube 969 Interview is here.

The Move (Jason Eperson). Jason likes to play jokes on people in trouble, sometimes out of a somewhat unusual interpretation of his own ideas about faith. Here “the movers” are basically kicking a poor soul out into the woods, but that’s never clear until the demitasse discussion afterwards. I hate moving, personally.

Road Rage 101 (Will Bigham). Will said that he has to win this contest, because he has to feed his family, and will not have the resources to continue directing as an “amateur” given the competitive demands of the real world of work on real breadwinners. Here, in an LA traffic jam worthy of “The Italian Job” (all we need is Napster and Shawn Fanning) a guy finds his car turning on him, and a motorist tries to climb through the skylight to attack him. The tempestuous, vortexed choral close of Beethoven’s Ninth saves him. The music here really works.

Next week, the four remaining directors have to work with a pre-assigned logline (winning a contest, submitted from Maine), which is: A guy wakes up in a dress, and doesn’t remember how he got that way. Good to think about. Is he in full drag (paying his masculinity as a penalty as in “The Rocky Picture Horror Show”?) Maybe somebody will have to do a Troy (like in The Apprentice). Donald Trump could be a judge.

On September 25. 2006 on this blog (see archives on the left of the Blogger page for the links) I wrote a discussion of Project Greenlight, and today, on that older entry for that date, I put a link that I found to the top winning films in the director’s contest in 2004. The contestants would do well to watch these.

Today July 31, 2007 NBC4 in Washington DC had a report “Lights, Camera, Literacy” about a summer school program in a Montgomery County, MD middle school, where grade school kids improve literacy by shooting and editing videos. One video was called “The Mysterious Noise” (reminders of Jules Verne, perhaps) and another showed kids coming out of hall lockers in unison, as in a mock short for a comic horror skit. The group was called “The Steven Spielbergs of Tomorrow”. Spielberg is one of the three founding partners of Dreamworks SKG, which underwrites “The Lot” and will offer a directorial job to the winning contestant.

There was an earlier posting May 9 on this blog about another middle school and high school filmmaking contest, with the films largely about political issues (like the military at home).

ABC World News Tonight presented a story on the use of babies in the movies. In CA, it is legal to use babies no more than fifteen years old, but a studio nurse and studio teacher must be on the set. This is a big business for agencies in LA, especially for soap operas. A part can result in $30000 or more in a trust fund for the infant’s education.

Coca Cola has a cute "short" as an ad where a junior exec is dressed and transported to work, in quick motion, to have coke in the morning at a board meeting.

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