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aliens: mothers, monsters and marines

Aliens: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)

James Cameron’s 1986 filmAliens contains a fascinating exploration of the way Western culture has traditionally aligned feminine characteristics onto nature while masculine characteristics have been aligned with civilisation. However, far from the more clear cut representation of this dichotomy that Cameron would later explore inAvatar (2009), where feminine/nature equalled good and masculine/civilisation equalled bad, Aliens has a more complex exploration by presenting two extremes of femininity with masculinity caught in the crossfire in the middle… <read the full article here> @ <http://blog.cinemaautopsy.com/>

WOOOoooooo, love the alien(s)…  Both are classics, and we’re using them as benchmarks for Rangda.  Love the line of “Alien is the best haunted house movie ever.”  Completely sums it up.

visual effects industry bill of rights?

43 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven. Today, visual effects are the “Movie Stars” of studio tentpole pictures – that is, visual effects make contemporary movies box office hits in the same way that big name actors ensured the success of films in the past… <read the full bill of rights here>

I find this read incredibly interesting…  It directly relates to everything we stand for and all the reasons we’ve started up VisPop.

It’s well documented, the state of the union in vfx…  You can read about vfx becoming a commodity here and here.  Hard work, unfair conditions, pressure from clients in an industry with very few buyers, vendors undercutting each other and on and on…  We at VisPop spent many years on the front lines, in all roles on the vfx vendor side.  We fought and scrapped just like everyone else to make ends meet in a low margin ball game.  Sometimes we were successful, sometimes we weren’t… Just like everyone else. But we learned from our mistakes, we implemented processes, we got better, and we eaked out our living.

I like these descriptions of the  vfx industry in the VES’s bill of rights:

  • a central role in today’s feature films
  • visual effects are the “Movie Stars” of studio tentpole pictures
  • Visual effects drive the entertainment marketplace  which entertains billions of people across the globe, and earns billions of net profit dollars each year.

If those aren’t signs of potential I don’t know what are. So the question of the day then becomes, with all this potential where’s the leverage? With all this potential, where is the leverage? Repeat it a third time… With all this potential, where is the leverage. That is the question we asked when we started VisPop! I mean shit, this is the question that made us leave our good jobs in vfx, jump off the ledge, and risk everything we have on a new company.

The vfx industry is the most broadly creative department in filmmaking. When I say the word creative here, I mean true “creativity” – combining technology, problem solving, pragmatism, and heart. Some of the best artists of our age are working on vfx concept art, we have the understanding of storytelling through camera-work in previs, color theory and composition in digital lighting, performance through animation, programmers with PHD’s coding bleeding edge scientific tools… the industry creates ANYTHING imaginable, any scenario, any character – every single day! if we can create anything imaginable, we can tell any story imaginable… that’s a phenomenal concept! BUT if you ask studio filmmakers about vfx, they’ll tell you “oh yeah, they’re the guys with the chrome balls running around on set”. (To be fair, it is extremely hard to credit what you don’t understand, and vfx is a black box that very few outside the industry are able to invest the time needed to truly understand). Soooo, perception (chrome balls) isn’t matching reality (creative filmmakers).

Let’s go back to vfx being creative, techie, problem solving, pragmatic, and having ticker. Guess what folks, that’s a pretty good definition of Innovation. That’s right, we’re incredibly innovative people in an industry driven by innovation. BUT where the hell is our innovation in business models? In negotiations? In being the entrepreneurs of our projects? In management? Where are the industry’s “chrome balls” (this time I’m not talking about the ones on set). Hopefully you see where I’m going here… Where are our Film Producer skills as an industry? We have some very competent, excellent individuals in the industry that would/could/will make excellent feature film producers, but as a whole the industry is too overwhelmed with the business of innovating creativity and technology to be bothered with innovating business.

So, here we are managing %25 to in some cases %50 of a feature film’s budget and we’re not producers on the film??? Sometimes we’re credited as producers, but if %33 percent of the budget is vfx, where is the %33 percent of decision making across all the departments… casting, location, financing, distribution, production?

So what is VisPop doing about all this? We’re broadening our scope in the filmmaking process… we’re teaming with independent filmmakers to push the innovation of the entire filmmaking process. Through that we’ll change the perception of where vfx/spectacle fits into the filmmaking industry, and parlay that into leverage into more filmmaking negotiations. “We’re filmmakers not shot makers.” Scream it from the roofs!

So can a couple of dudes from VisPop make a difference? Can a couple of long-timers from the vfx industry change the way films are financed, made, distributed?? Hopefully we can help get things rolling. Hopefully we can get more people from the industry involved in the entire filmmaking process. Hopefully we can start the movement. So just ask yourself: “With all this potential, where is the leverage?”

Next time I’ll write about the difference between what VisPop is doing about it, and the many salvation cries throughout the industry of “create your own content”.

could star wars happen today?

The original Star Wars was a miracle of seat-of-the-pants film-making that captured the world’s imagination and boosted science fiction to new popularity.

But could something like Star Wars even get made today? There’s plenty of reason to doubt it… <read the full article here> @ <http://io9.com/>

Not only could it… but VisPop is gonna be the ones to do it!

platt: bigfoot boom in banff?

Bigfoot

That’s the assertion of a dedicated bigfoot research organization based near Calgary, which claims not only to have video and photo evidence of the mythical beast, but DNA proof as well… <read the full story here> @ <http://www.calgarysun.com/>

american diplomatic memo outlined rules for yeti hunting in nepal

On December 10, 1959, Ernest Fisk of the American embassy in Kathmandu delineated the Nepalese government’s regulations on any mountaineer’s interactions with the yeti… <read the full post here> @ <http://io9.com/>

Nothing like good ol’ 50’s conspiracy…  Everyone loves sasquatch!

the human future remains unchosen: an exegesis of deus ex: human revolution

 

Progress is not guaranteed. Be it moral, technological, scientific, or social, there is no reason to assume human civilization marches forever forward in step with time. Understood this way, we can realize that progress is a choice and something we as a species will to happen through the concatenation of our decisions.  <read full story here> @ <http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/>

Thought I’d put this one up on the site because I’m really into the half human and robot thing at the moment.  The design bits are awesome, but to me it’s the questions it raises.  They touch on it here in this article for the game.

I also recommend a book called “Machine Man” by Max Barry.  It’s one of those books you read in 24 hours.  I was pounding through it telling James “Man, we gotta make this one into a movie!”.  Got to the end, looked it up and sure enough Aronovsky is attached.

There’s still a wealth of ideas behind the idea of human choice to go droid…  we may be working something up ourselves here in the background…  more to come!

the importance of a good trailer

Many times when independent filmmakers send a request for help to me, they attach a link to their film trailer. This is the video they have on Youtube and on their website as a representation of their film, a reason to see it or buy it. Often, they are terrible. They are too long, they are too slow, there is no sense of what the film is about or why I would want to see it. A trailer should not be… <read the full post here> @ <http://www.shericandler.com/>

There’s a lot of great info in here…  particularly the parts that get into making the trailer as a calling card for the project before financing.  That’s a big part of what we believe.  For spectacle films today it’s not just about selling a script, you need to show the world.  A great way to do that is with a trailer, or some sort of visual representative piece (along with what ever eye candy demonstrates the world and the tone of the project).  The problem becomes like anything else in development.  How can we pay for it…?  That’s where we have to get creative, and ultimately what will separate VisPop as we get films greenlit.

Should mention here that Sheri Candler’s blog is a great resource for film marketing and publicity!

(don’t miss the link to part 2 of this post in the upper right corner of the post)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

goddesses and demons: some thoughts

ferocious demon/goddess Rangdo

A somewhat damaged Rangda in her most ferocious pose, her foot on a stone carved with sea waves. Time has removed some of the paint, and her left hand has lost its long nails. Painted stone or wood (?). Bali, probably in the Archaeological Museum. Drawing © S. Beaulieu, after Charlé 1990: 119

There is no ignoring Rangda.[1] Her appearance is shocking, terrifying. Her huge eyes protrude, her large breasts are pendulous, and her long red tongue hangs down her body almost to her knees…  <read the entire post> @ <http://www.matrifocus.com/>

There is some pretty good backstory of the mythology of our Balinese antagonist on this site…  She’s such a good character, it’s what’s going to make this film!  We’ve got a great villain for us to build our hero up against!  What do you think?  Wanna see a horror film with an ancient Balinese goddess who’s gone off the rails and is now a Demon Queen looking to kick some serious ass?

What’s great about this webpage is you’ll also get some bonus info on some other famous and interesting goddess-demons.