Monday, November 19, 2012

Middle of Nowhere - Review

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Written & Directed by Ava DuVernay

Produced by Howard Barish, Ava DuVernay, Paul Garnes & Tilane Jones 

Cinematography by Bradford Young






Starring
Emayatzy Corinealdi
Omari Hardwick
David Oyelowo
Lorraine Toussaint
Edwina Findley
Sharon Lawrence

Released: October 12, 2012 (USA)

Summary: When her husband is sentenced to 8 years in prison, Ruby drops out of med school in order to focus on her husband's well being while he's incarcerated - leading her on a journey of self-discovery in the process.

REVIEW
Middle of Nowhere is a wonderfully excellent motion picture. Every scene crafted perfectly to show you the loneliness of the lead character Ruby, played with an elegant vitality by Emayatzy Corinealdi. You feel every moment of Ruby’s solitary existence without her husband. Even when she is with her family like her sister, played wonderfully by Edwina Findley, you can feel her loneliness. When she is with her mother, played by the excellent Lorraine Toussaint, you can feel something else. With few words you can tell Mom is not happy with her daughter’s situation, but refuses to really dwell on it…until she is ready to dwell on it. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

Even though there are several supporting characters, this story is all about Ruby. The journey you go along with Ruby is not only through her loneliness, but her resilience in dealing with her husband’s legal case. The phone calls, the visits, the things that are very real in that situation, but not often explored onscreen.

This is a drama so of course there is conflict, but you never feel like it’s over the top. The eventual entanglements that happen throughout the picture feel organic and not forced. There are several revelatory scenes in Middle of Nowhere that are wrought with tension, but never come off as melodramatic. As I stated the performances by Edwina Findley and Lorraine Toussaint are great, but so are those by “Ruby’s men” David Oyelowo, who is building a resume of solid performances and Omari Hardwick in what is probably his best onscreen performance thus far.

Middle of Nowhere is a story featuring an African American woman as its Lead in pretty much every scene. Where do you see that? That’s why I loved Middle of Nowhere, for everything it is, an excellently crafted motion picture and everything it is not, which is pretty much everything else you see in theaters.

COMMENTARY
This film excelled on many levels that may not seem obvious so allow me to make everything clear.

If I was a critic, and I’m not, the title of this review could have been “Middle of Nowhere: Achievement in Darkness”.  Never have I seen such beautifully photographed dark skinned actors.

Allow me to digress into some filmmaker talk. As an African American filmmaker I’ve always been cognizant about how they photograph (actually film) dark skinned actors. They never ever get it right. (Too much light, not enough light, too much make up, not enough makeup etc.)

Now once I read that the cinematographer would be Bradford Young I kind of knew the characters would be in good hands regardless, but I still didn’t know.

See I saw a film Mr. Young photographed called Restless City at the 2011 Maryland Film Festival.
Still from Restless City
As you can tell from the still above the lead protagonist (right) was a dark skinned actor and he and all the other dark skinned actors were photographed beautifully!

When I saw Middle of Nowhere I was like I know Ms. DuVernay didn’t compose this scene with two dark skinned actors—AT NIGHT! Who has the…guts to do that? Ms. DuVernay and it looked GREAT due to Mr. Young.

Emayatzy Corinealdi as Ruby
The framing of the Lead character Ruby to show her loneliness was also great. You can FEEL Ruby’s loneliness through Ms. DuVernay’s direction, the camera allows you to sit there with Ruby as she is alone and through those shots you feel as alone as she does.

The acting was across the board perfect as well. After only two pictures I’m ready to call Ms. DuVernay the “no histrionics” director. LOL. I didn’t detect a false note in the performances (and I usually can).

The screenplay, like the acting was pitch perfect. There were no scenes that didn’t fit and no story nuance that wasn’t covered. Maybe because I’ve studied screenwriting so long, it was the perfect screenplay. Beat to beat, plot point to plot point and NOT to the point of being predictable. The story was straight forward without a million subplots. Like I said in my review, it’s “all about Ruby”.

Lastly, in this era of tablet computers, flat screens and straight to DVD movies every five seconds, through her distribution company AFFRM (African American Releasing Movement) Ava DuVernay has been committed to getting films shown on the BIG SCREEN, as they should be! (More info about AFFRM linked below)

As I said in my review, “I loved Middle of Nowhere for everything it is, an excellently crafted motion picture and everything it is not, which is pretty much everything else you see in theaters.” and therein lies the brilliance of Ava DuVernay and Middle of Nowhere.

You just don’t see these type of stories on the screen, big or small. Between this and her last film, I Will Follow, Ava DuVernay has managed to bring to the fore stories of black women that you just will not find anywhere in a visual medium. For that reason alone I think she can be called a fresh voice in the chorus of cinema.

Middle of Nowhere: Official Website

OCTOBER 2017

Live Tweets of the Feature Commentary of Middle of Nowhere with Writer/Director Ava DuVernay and star Emayatzy Corinealdi



Related Links


Our review of I Will Follow

Read all of our posts about AFFRM

Read all of our posts about Ava DuVernay

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy 70th Birthday Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese
As he was born November 17, 1942, today is Mr. Scorsese's 70th birthday.

Today seems like the perfect time to clear up a fallacy; Martin Scorsese is my favorite director, a fact that is directly attributable to my have studied film. Besides making entertaining films, which is the goal of every filmmaker, the technical achievement in his films are for the most part excellent. 

I consume more media about Scorsese than perhaps any other filmmaker and I’m always amazed at his knowledge of cinema. That’s the main thing I learned from Mr. Scorsese, don’t just watch movies, but break them down and take them apart. To be a master of cinema you must first be a student of cinema. 

Thank You Mr. Scorsese and Happy Birthday.

My Five Favorite Martin Scorsese Films
  • GoodFellas
  • The Aviator
  • Cape Fear
  • Shutter Island
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

RELATED
My review of one of those Scorsese consumed media 
(Click the graphic to read it)














Read more about Martin Scorsese at Wikipedia here

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baltimore Director's Film Will Have Its World Premiere at The Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival, which runs from October 11-25, announced their official schedule September 20th.

The Chicago International Film Festival is an annual film festival held every fall. Founded in 1964, it is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America.

Danny Green
Among the dozens of films which will be presented at this year's festival, will be Baltimore born director Danny Green's second feature film, Mr. Sophistication.

Mr. Sophistication stars Harry Lennix, Tatum O'Neal, Robert Patrick, Richard Brooks, Gina Torres, Rick Fox, Bruce McGill and Paloma Guzmán.

The film deals with "a comedian, Ron Waters, who is a Richard Pryor-type of entertainer who makes commentary about the world rather than one-liners. After a self-imposed exile from Hollywood, Ron is back."

Danny Green, Harry Lennix and the producers Albena Dodeva and Jon Edwards will be present for the screening.

For more info on the screenings see the Chicago International Film Festival, listing for the film here

Check out the Official Website @ http://www.mrsophisticationmovie.com/

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
Danny Green is a personal friend of mine and my social network followers will know him as #MyDirectorFriendFromLA because he didn't want me to say too much about the film before he was ready.

I have to state because I was asked, I had nothing to do with the production of the film.  I just supplied my friend with marketing advice. I’ve been sort of a “social media/marketing consultant” for the film after the fact.

I’ve also seen the film and I’ve given him some advice on the trailer and such. I will write a review for the film soon and I will keep it as honest as possible even though he is a friend of mine.

Until then you can check out the film’s star Ron Waters on social media (I had no hand in any of Ron’s stuff online either. That’s all Ron.)
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ronwatersesq
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ronwatersesq

UPDATE OCTOBER 2012

Harry Lennix 
Excerpt from a October 17, 2012 interview Harry Lennix did with RedEye Chicago

I really enjoyed “Mr. Sophistication.” For Ron Waters, are you naturally that smooth, or did you have to do some research to get to that point?

[Laughs.] Well, first of all, I want to thank you for your review. It’s extremely nice and you were kind to us and we really appreciate it. I’m glad you liked the movie most of all because it confirms some things that we’ve been waiting to hear for a long time. ... We started it about three years ago. To answer your question, Harry Lennix is not [as] smooth as Ron Waters. [Laughs.] When I was a single man I didn’t walk around with a black suit on and a lot of pomade in my hair or anything. I think I have a bit of Ron Waters in me from people I’ve observed. I was never the smooth guy with lines or anything but I’m fairly witty, so I’m probably a little more—I can’t say off the cuff ‘cause Ron’s very off the cuff too. I’m a little more deliberative. [Laughs.] I can focus in a little bit more than Ron.

Danny wrote the part specifically for you. Why do you think he wrote it this way? I’m unclear if this is based on a true story.

It is insofar as an amalgamation of personalities and biographical figures, but there was no guy named Ron Waters. It’s our kind of blending, or Danny’s blending, of a guy by the name of Jon Edwards, who actually is one of the producers, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. So somebody that can flow on stage talking about real events in real time. And is crazy, like most comedians, but has a kind of definite smooth style or veneer that he puts on, this suit of armor. So he’s really a mix of all of those personalities. So in that sense it’s based on real people, although not on a true story so to speak.

How do you think the fact that Danny was writing for you influenced how he wrote the character?

I am not convinced that Danny was writing it entirely for me. Danny says that he wrote this for me, I believe him of course, but I based a lot of the character, in terms of the execution, on Danny Green. So a lot of his rhythm in terms of his way of speech, that’s really Danny Green, or the pronunciation of certain words. That’s my take on how Danny hears it in his head. An actor’s real responsibility I believe and I think the responsibility of at least the theater and practitioners of it is to achieve the vision of the playwright. It may not be exactly what the playwright had in mind, per se, but what was the playwright or what was the writer, what is the story really getting at? What is the essence of it? To that extent I’ve taken on from time to time characters I would otherwise not play just because I could get behind the story, but in this case I was getting behind both a story and a character. I think the story is reflective of a lot of men in our society, particularly black men who need basically to put on a suit of armor. In this case you’ve got this armor of outward civility and so forth but he’s incapable of lying when he’s on the stage. I think that’s the ultimate quest of the artist is to always be in the truth when he’s on the stage.



Friday, September 7, 2012

What Does a Production Designer Do?


From Shadow & Act-
Continuing S&A's mission to give readers glimpses into the worlds of those who contribute their talents to the production and distribution of the many films we all watch and love...
Being a production designer is a lot like being an architect. In fact, it’s usually the easiest way to describe a portion of what I do – and the basic concept of production design.

In the simplest terms, as a designer I create and build sets. I come into a film very early. Much of the time it’s the director, a producer or two, the locations manager and myself. We spend time looking at and deciding on locations, which places fit the tone, texture and mood of the story and characters. We talk about what sets make sense to build on a stage, or what locations we’re able to change the appearance of by augmenting the interior and/or exterior.

For me, a large part of the job is about working with the director to understand the characters; who they are, their habits, the things they love, the things they have aversions to, the people in their lives, past and present, their idiosyncrasies and so on. All of those things and more play an important part in creating the world in which the story lives, and from this world come colors and textures. The manifestation of these elements is always different given the project I’m working on at the time. For example, it could be a period piece, a project that is very stylized, or a drama. It’s about pushing the boundaries of where you think they are, in collaboration with the director, cinematographer, costume designer and property master, ultimately presenting a consistent look and feel from beginning to end.

I’ve been working in the film industry for about ten years, give or take. I started out in the art department, which has always been my focus. The art direction was always what I concerned myself with whenever I watched a film – certainly when I was making my own films. It always resonated with me beyond anything else.

Initially, my goal was to be a set decorator; my idol has and always will be Nancy Haigh (set decorator for the Coen Bros). I worked my way up through the art department and started decorating. On the film “Cleaner,” the director Renny Harlin said to me, “You should be a production designer. You don’t have to know where every two-by-four goes, but you do have to have a vision, and you have a vision and a point of view and it’s pretty amazing.”

Up until that point I had never thought about taking the step towards being a designer. After a couple of years decorating and working with many different designers, observing, asking questions and deciding what I would do and wouldn’t, I made the transition to production designer.

At first, I took a lot of low budget features and short films. I was hungry to work and get the experience under my belt. Over the past two and half years, I've had the pleasure and opportunity to work with several gifted directors with whom I share a similar sense of aesthetic. We've created some memorable moments, playing with colors and ideas. I look forward to our next projects together.

For me it’s really important to be working with great, talented directors who have a clear idea of what they want their story to reveal in look and tone.

Really, the most important thing to me in any film is the story – it’s what makes me want to work on a film. I love quirky films just as much as I love serious drama. I also like dark comedy and I always love a good period piece; all these things play a part in me wanting to work on a project. I love film and enjoy what I do and more and more, I’m finding the journey is ultimately the destination in this industry.

Hannah Beachler
With more than 9 feature film projects on her resume, New Orleans-based production designer Hannah Beachler most recently worked on "Fruitvale" for director Ryan Coogler and producer Forest Whitaker. Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan, Tristan Wilds and Melonie Diaz star in the indie drama that's based on the murder of 22-year old Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by BART police in Oakland, California.
See her website at http://www.hannahbeachler.com

Read comments about this article at Shadow and Act here

Friday, August 31, 2012

Think Like A Man - Review

THINK LIKE A MAN

Directed by Tim Story

Produced by William Packer, Glenn S. Gainor, Rob Hardy, Steve Harvey, & Rushion McDonald

Written by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman (Based on the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey)

Cinematography by Larry Blanford


Released: April 20, 2012 (USA)

Starring:
Kevin Hart as Cedric
Michael Ealy as Dominic
Taraji P. Henson as Lauren
Romany Malco as Zeke
Meagan Good as Mya
Regina Hall as Candace
Terrence J as Michael
Gabrielle Union as Kristen
Jerry Ferrara as Jeremy
Steve Harvey as Himself

Review
As a rule I don’t watch too many romantic comedies or as they are want to be called “rom coms”. Not that I’m against a good romantic comedy, it’s just that they always seem to come off as false, predictable and otherwise maudlin. When I do find one that hits all the right notes I sure recommend it and Think Like A Man is such a film.

Kevin Hart in Think Like A Man
While it definitely follows the rom com playbook, it offered many fresh and innovative takes. The freshest take is the mirthful humor of Kevin Hart. I didn’t know how the stand up comic would fit in in a comedic acting performance, but he did and was hilarious! I didn’t think he would steal every scene he was in, but he did.

The film also found clever ways to introduce Steve Harvey into the film, which at times seemed like an infomercial, but it still somehow works especially when the book is integral to the plot.

In an ensemble comedy there is/are always someone/some people of that ensemble that you don’t really care about, but I liked everyone in the ensemble (all mentioned above) and their romantic pairings.

Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson in Think Like A Man
I read on the Nother Brother Twitter account (@NotherBrother) that Taraji P. Henson as “Lauren” and Michael Ealy as “Dominic” had great chemistry and they did! No matter the script, if you can’t find two actors with chemistry in a romantic story all is lost. Fortunately that was not the case here.

Romany Malco and Meagan Good in Think Like A Man 
Even though I liked all the pairings, my favorite was Romany Malco as “Zeke” and Meagan Good as “Mya”. They both gave really great performances which led to them becoming a standout couple for me.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this picture was and definitely one of the funniest and most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year.

Commentary
Since Think Like A Man’s release in April, I’ve been reading about its fantastic box office success.
Think Like a Man grossed over $33.7 million during its opening weekend, an accomplishment which ended The Hunger Games' four-week run at the #1 spot at the U.S. box office. The romantic comedy film remained on top of the competition during its second week as well, edging out new releases to bring in a still-impressive $17.6 million.

As of June 24, 2012, Think Like a Man has earned $95,326,341 in both the United States and Canada, along with $3,779,136 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $99,105,477. The movie's production budget was $12.5 million.

As of today August 31, 2012 the worldwide gross is $95,722,698 (Sources: Box Office Mojo, MTV News & CNN Entertainment)
I also posted here on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment blog a link to a great interview the producer of the film Will Packer did right after its release, that laid out his marketing plan for the picture that led to its box office success.

It should come as no surprise then that on June 28, 2012 Screen Gems announced plans for a sequel to be made of the film, with the original screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman also writing its script. No director, title, nor release date has been given. (Los Angeles Times)

I think the main attribute of the film’s success was that it was you know…actually good. Sometimes a film CAN succeed without a large and well financed marketing plan just for being good. Congratulations to the studio Rainforest Films. (Our congrats on our Facebook page)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Cinematography of 'Red Hook Summer'

One of the things I was amazed at in the newest Spike Lee Joint Red Hook Summer was the cinematography. 

Poster for Red Hook Summer
Red Hook Summer is a film written and directed by Spike Lee, his sixth in the "Chronicles of Brooklyn" series following She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers and He Got Game. The film was released on August 10, 2012 in the select theatres of the New York City area and was released in other parts of the northeast United States on August 24, 2012. —Wikipedia
Spike said in The Hollywood Reporter "I'd just bought this Sony camera, an F3, and I said, "We've got the means and ways and have to make do. " 
SONY F3 CAMERA

I don't what know type of lens he used (it's all about the lens yo), but the film really looked good! Well the lighting also plays a part in making a film look good as well.

To that end I want to *APPLAUD*  the all around great cinematography by Kerwin DeVonish (pictured below) in REAL locations! 

Kerwin DeVonish
Like many low budget films, everything in Red Hook Summer was shot on location and DeVonish did an awesome job of lighting up and shooting in those locations especially the small church and Red Hook projects apartment the main character lived in. Stills from some of those scenes pictured below.






As a filmmaker I'm always fascinated by the technique of films. I'm even fascinated by the cameras as indicated by my post about the Olympics DiveCam. LOL. 

Besides wanting to see this Spike Lee film, excuse me "Joint", I've been reading about for over a year, I wanted to see how the film would LOOK on such a low budget and this camera Spike bought to shoot it with. 

Seth Shire of the blog Unpaid Film Critic said “Red Hook Summer” has been nicely photographed by cinematographer Kerwin DeVonish.  The movie has been digitally photographed and has an eye popping color palette." I couldn't agree more. 

The colors in Red Hook Summer POPPED. The cinematographer is responsible for creating this look through lighting and lenses. Again DeVonish did a great job doing this. Those apartment scenes and the church scenes were very small locations that didn't look like it allowed enough room to rig lights, but DeVonish did it—to great effect.

ADDITIONAL
You can read more about the Sony F3 camera by clicking the picture below

You can check out Kerwin DeVonish's IMDb profile here

CLICK the button below to read all the news posts about Red Hook Summer at our Sista blog Cool Black Media


Monday, August 20, 2012

Tony Scott (1944 – 2012)

Listen, I’m not going to go and say that Tony Scott (pictured above) was one of my favorite directors because he has passed away. I can say that I had tremendous respect for his body of work and I can call him an auteur…something I don’t say about many directors.

Because I’m a Denzel Washington fan, I have seen every Denzel Washington/Tony Scott directed film and enjoyed every one of them. That’s FIVE films I can say I enjoyed by ONE director and I also can’t say that about many.

Those five films are Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) and Unstoppable (2010). I also enjoyed the Tony Scott films The Last Boy Scout (1991) and Enemy of the State (1998).

My favorite Tony Scott film though is absolutely Man on Fire.

Picture I took of my Man on Fire BluRay and posted online after I read about his death. 
Man on Fire is also one of my favorite Denzel Washington films. Aided by a great screenplay by Brian Helgeland who wrote the screenplays for L.A. Confidential and Mystic River, I think Man on Fire is a magnificent piece of work and Tony Scott’s magnum opus.

I thought Tony Scott imbued Man on Fire brilliantly with Mexican culture through the gritty realism of the setting and its use of Spanish music. According to sources cited at Wikipedia, "20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy. An early draft of the film script was set in Naples. Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy. Mexico City became the setting of the 2004 film because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate."

At first I didn’t get the “tremor effect” in the film, but I grew to not only accept it, but love it! I thought it was the perfect aesthetic for such a film.

The true driving force of Man on Fire though was the chemistry between its two leads Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. Without their chemistry you would never believe the whole plot of the movie which was the revenge factor. Even though he was personally on a downward spiral, you felt that his love of the little girl gave him something to live for and when she was taken—something to kill for. If you didn’t believe their love it would have just been another empty “shoot em up” picture.

I was looking forward to more films from Mr. Anthony David Scott, but at least we have his visual body of work to watch for years to come. May he rest in peace.

 More Man on Fire Trivia 

Denzel Washington was cast in this film because of a trip to a doctor. He ran into director Tony Scott in the waiting room of a medical office and the two men started chatting. Scott had not seen Washington in person since they worked together on "Crimson Tide". Scott happened to see Dakota Fanning in "I Am Sam" the night before and seeing Washington made Scott think using of the two actors together.

A. J. Quinnell (writer of the source book) had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book's lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters "like to leave their mark on the product." Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers "did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl" and "When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful."

In A.J. Quinnell's novel Dakota Fanning's character in Italy was named Pinta. After director Tony Scott's changed the film's setting to Mexico and discovered that "Pinta" is Mexican slang for "whore", he had the name changed to "Pita" and made her full name Lupita.

The kitchen scene between Creasy and Pita where she asked him about concubines were mostly ad-libbed by both actors. It started when they "accused" each other of smiling.

-Trivia from IMDb and Wikipedia


At Wikipedia Tony Scott

At The Hollywood Reporter

PHOTOS: Tony Scott's Films

From 'Top Gun' to 'Unstoppable' a look at his work. VIEW GALLERY

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Olympics DiveCam

2012 Summer Olympics Logo

I've been watching a ton of events in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and maybe it's the the filmmaker in me, but more than the actual athleticism I've been fascinated by what I called the "dive shaft" cam. 

Through research like the article below I've found out that it's called the "DiveCam". Below is a great article with the inventor of the camera and some more great camera inventions.

_______________________________________________

How does the 2012 Olympic freefall diving camera work?




The "Dive Cam" was done by the great Garett Brown, the inventor of the StediCam. The cool thing with the DiveCam is that is it just a camera triggered by simply letting go of a rope!

Garrett Brown Gives You a ‘God’s Eye’ View of the Olympics

Garrett
Garett Brown
When seven-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps slices through the water in the Olympic Games next week, he’ll be followed by a torpedolike underwater HD camera that will capture his every move.

That camera, dubbed Mobycam, is just one of a half-dozen clever contraptions invented by Hollywood pioneer Garrett Brown, who also
invented the Steadicam.

The Steadicam (not to be confused with the $14 Steady-Cam) allows a camera to glide smoothly even in fast-action shots. It was used in Rocky to film Sylvester Stallone as he jogged up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since then, Brown has gone on to be a camera operator for several motion pictures, including The Shining and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, plus sporting events like the Olympics and the Superbowl.

On Thursday, he spoke with Wired.com about his Olympic gadgets and how he got started.

Divecamunder_3
Garrett Brown’s Divecam follows Olympic divers as they splash into the pool.
Wired.com: So how did this all start?

Garrett Brown: I was a filmmaker in the east — way far away from where Hollywood is — in the early ’70s, and I learned my trade by reading all the film books in the Philly library. That was sort of an idiotic way to do it, since it would teach you how to be a filmmaker in the ’50s. I thought I needed dollies and a studio … so I bought dollies, lights, and a studio and all that. It was a studio in a barn outside of Philly.

Then it became clear to me that I loved moving the camera, but to move it’d have to be on wheels. My 10-pound Bolex had to be on an 800-pound dolly, and that drove me crazy! And I just started pumping for some way to isolate the handle from the camera.

A couple of years later I had a device that was the Steadicam. One of the impossible shots in my demo was when my then-girlfriend and I dropped by the Philly art museum, and with the prototype I ran up and down the stairs. And the director of Rocky saw that shot on a demo, and asked, "How did you do that, and where are
those steps?" Which is basically why that shot ended up in Rocky. A few months later I made the shot where he’s running up the stairs.

Mobycamunderwater
The underwater Mobycam is pulled by a cable so it can track swimmers as they race through the water.
Wired.com: How did you get involved in the Olympics? 

Brown: The Steadicam was a big hit and it got a lot of attention. And then I did one called the Skycam that flies over football games, [for] overhead shots.

The Barcelona Olympics called me and said can I do something really simple [for the swimming competitions]: It was a tiny little submarine that’s actually pulled by a human being with a crank who’s sitting on the sidelines just cranking it back and forth. We made it human powered because we were afraid if there were motors in the water the Spanish would chuck us out of there.

Then I got asked to do a bunch of things: cameras on wires, rails, the Divecam for NBC — that’s the camera that drops with the divers.

And all of that here [in Beijing], the Divecam and the Mobycam, are now in the hands of my Australian licensee which is channel 7 in Sydney.

They’re all high def now — pretty slick gadgets. There’s one called Flycam, an ultralight wired point-to-point one that weighs all of 24 pounds and flies 2,000 feet over the canoeing venue in Beijing. The trick was to stabilize that thing out in the
middle of a wire.

Wired.com: What were some of your favorite projects?

Brown: I shot The Shining, which was amazingly fun; it went on for years. I did Rocky, obviously, which was a blast. I worked on three other Rocky movies just here and there. And I did Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: I shot the rope bridge sequence. A lot of stuff. I’ve had a hell of a good time.

Skycam_2
Skycam glides over a field on wires to provide overhead shots of sporting events.
Wired.com: Do you have any current projects or movies you’re working on?

Brown: I’ve retired this year from actual shooting, but I’m still working on a lot of new gear. I had a good run this year in making up wild new stuff. We keep raising the bar for the gear. And I teach everywhere — I’ve taught in Russia, this year in Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, teaching Steadicam operating. As you can tell, I like my moving camera shots to be smooth.

All of these gadgets are glassy smooth, and that is the way it should be, unless it’s an effect, like a point of a view or a creature lurking. Otherwise this is sort of a "God’s eye" view, an omniscient viewpoint, and I can’t think of any excuse for the frame to be shaking.

Photos courtesy Garrett Brown, article JonathanSantos

Additional: Check out the Wall Street Journal's interactive graphic 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild - Review


BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

Directed by Benh Zeitlin

Produced by Josh Penn, Dan Janvey & Michael Gottwald

Written by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

Cinematography by Ben Richardson

Released: June 27, 2012 (USA)




Starring
Quvenzhané Wallis
Dwight Henry

Synopsis: Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in "the Bathtub", a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink's tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her.

REVIEW
Every once in a while there comes a movie that bristles with such authenticity even though it’s a narrative and even described as a “fantasy drama”, ‘Beasts’ is such a film. Even if you have never been to the “southern Delta” you sense you know what it FEELS like to live there.

The director Benh Zeitlin with the aid of cinematographer Ben Richardson imbues ‘Beasts’ with measured attention to what it’s like to live in such a southern community. You can feel the heat, the stickiness, the grit of the south just by watching Hushpuppy and her father Wink go about their lives in this terrain. And that is the real treasure of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Wink and Hushpuppy.

Wink and Hushpuppy
The father/daughter relationship Wink & Hushpuppy share was just preternatural.

Dwight Henry
Dwight Henry (pictured above) was simply amazing as Wink. His performance gave Wink a genuine enduringness and fortitude. You’d think that this man could survive anything and wants his daughter to do the same.

That brings me to the young lady that everyone is talking about the outstanding Quvenzhané Wallis (pictured below)

Quvenzhané Wallis
I’ve seen some great youth performances, but none as young and outstanding as Miss Wallis’. She is the Lead actor, narrator and grounding center of the whole film…at six years old!

Wikipedia states “The film has received largely enthusiastic critical reception.” and I too must now join the chorus.

Even though I’ve seen several excellent films this year, Beasts of the Southern Wild was simply the BEST one I’ve seen all year. I’m not going to say anymore about this film because you should just see it. Truly extraordinary.

Additional Info
Read more about Beasts of the Southern Wild on Wikipedia here

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Great Article About Film Fundraising

Director Pete Chapmon

Kickstarter - A Blessing or A Curse?

By Pete Chapmon | Shadow & Act

I recently did an experiment, keeping a tally of how many Kickstarter orIndiegogo campaigns I was given the "opportunity" to support over a 2 week period. The answer? 11

I'll tell you why I think that's crazy in a moment, but first, I'd like to provide a few details into my own filmmaking journey so you can "consider the source", as wise folks always say.

I started making films in the 11th grade at Columbia High School inMaplewood, NJ. I'm talking about shooting on Super8mm film...developing it myself...editing on a moviola -- it was awesome. My 16 year old ideas didn't require much money, partly because I did not have an allowance or a crew, but they still served to help me learn what I could.
I went to NYU undergraduate film school, making countless projects, but for the purposes of this post, I'll reference my senior thesis "3D" -- a film that starred Kerry WashingtonDorian MissickAl Thompson, and Charles Parnell and for which I had to raise $24,000. That was quite the jump from my junior year film that cost $700, but it was a helluva intro to fundraising, marketing, and pitching to strangers. I learned that whether you're asking for $1 or $1000, you better know what you're talking about and not expect folks to help you out just because they know you or, real talk -- are family. I also learned the importance of legal documents after dealing with some shady music business people, but that's another post too, and of course, Industry Rule #4080.

After taking "3D" to Sundance and several other festivals, I began plotting every filmmaker's inevitable next step -- how to raise money for my feature debut "Premium". We started with a budget of around $3MM, which turned into$1.5MM, morphed into $750K, and eventually plateaued at $520K. Being neither rich, nor wealthy, the immediate question became, "where we gonna get that dough from, y'all?" This was 22 times more money than my previous project and my network hadn't really grown any. We had the talented Dorian Missick attached, some great key crew with much more experience than myself, and a commitment to make it happen by hook or crook. But, that didn't provide a roadmap to raising the money. There was no YouTube or Vimeo. No Kickstarter or Indiegogo. It was 2005. 

So, how did we do it? 
My producing partner, Kevin Frakes, and I put together a thorough business plan that outlined the who, what, why, and how behind all of our choices. We educated potential investors on the filmmaking process, the entertainment industry, and provided a clear answer toward every possible question, especially how the money would be spent and how they would be repaid if they invested. Forbes magazine  eventually profiled me in their investment guide after we reached our funding goal. 

We dedicated just as much effort to compiling a creative package to support the project. Think "Kickstarter Video" before the term ever existed. I produced an electronic press kit (EPK) featuring interviews from key cast and crew I'd worked with on various short films, intercutting clips from them in my work next to say, Dorian in a scene with Hugh Grant from "Two Weeks Notice". I also made a short film, "Confessions of Cool" designed to set up folks to fully understand the script from page one. I even threw parties, exclusive investor presentations, and brought my laptop into people's kitchen's on weekends, walking them through my Powerpoint slides.
All of these things, and many other finer points, combined to help us meet our goal with the help of 35 people. Investments ranged from $5,000 to $100,000, and it made me realize that people do actually want to support, you just have to do your job of shaping the path to a mutually beneficial final result. If you don't think people are investing in you for selfish reasons, then you should stop reading this right now.

Which brings me back to my point about why those 11 Kickstarter "opportunities" is crazy. I've broken it down into 3 areas:

1) Not every artist seems to have asked themselves the straight-up-no-bullshit question, "would I give this project money based off of the presentation that I see here?" I feel safe saying that many of these folks would not. And that's exactly why I won't either.

2) Many people seem to be crowdsourcing because it's there, waiting for foolish friends and family that just might help them make something they wouldn't otherwise put much effort toward. They're also not using it to their advantage when thinking about how best to exploit it. It's no different than the ease of web coding making folks create websites that they wouldn't otherwise make if it took any real effort and planning.

3) Not everyone is at a point where they should even be asking for money. No one should receive an email that, at its basic level, is asking another person to pay for their PRACTICE. Have you found your voice? Do you have more than an elementary understanding of film language and storytelling? Have you considered not only the market for your project, but the marketing? Please stop thinking your every whim should be bankrolled by your "network". Skin in the game is proof of passion and dedication and when it's not there, it's more than transparent.

I understand it's not 2005 anymore. The world has changed and I'm happy about the democratization of all these disciplines. But, as someone who has raised money in the more "hand to hand combat" sense, I look at Kickstarter/Indiegogo with wide eyes as I imagine how much MORE I might have raised for "Premium" had the platform been available to me. It's not just about checking online to see who pledged how much, it's about using these crowdsourcing platforms to power a well thought out creative product with a thorough business plan and marketing strategy. It's there to make it easier to connect with those that might find supporting your project something that aligns with their interests and it makes it possible for folks you'll never meet face-to-face to contribute with the click of a button. That's what's up.

The gatekeepers, to all of our applause, have been removed, "allowing" us to do things never before possible. But, let's not forget the value of what they provide when politics, race, and nepotism aren't ingredients in the process. Studios and agents search for material that is well written and fits into the marketplace. Smaller production companies do the same, oftentimes with more of a focus on niche markets and more challenging material. Both work to get the best talent on board, develop the script to its best draft, and harness the power of their dollar to make sure the world knows a project is in the pipeline and folks should be excited!

Before you decide to swipe that Visa at B&H Photo and cop yourself a videocamera, computer, and editing system, I hope and trust that you will put your project through the same set of gatekeeper checks and balances to ensure that you are not diving in before it's ready. There's no glory in volume if the shit ain't tight. And there's no such thing as a beta version of film. When it's made, it's made, and you will be judged. Oh how I know, lol.

The point of this all is not to attack. I hope there are some worthy nuggets that can be applied to your own projects, but also shared with anybody who might be hitting you up for a contribution but maybe isn't quite ready themselves. Don't just mumble under your breath, "here we go, another mutha...". If you know them, let them know, and tell them you're here when it's time.

Personally, Candice Sanchez McFarlane and I are about to embark upon the fundraising/producing journey again with our heist script "$FREE.99" and I invite you to check in here on Shadow & Act regularly as I provide a window into the upcoming process.

The world is a better place with more stories in it -- but there are two missing words from this sentence.

The world is a better place with more stories TOLD WELL
Let's make it happen.

You can read comments about the article including mine at Shadow & Act by clicking their logo below


Monday, July 2, 2012

Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series with Matthew Cherry

Last summer I read their Filmmaker Diary Series and not only was it detailed in the filmmaking process, it also introduced me to a film I’m now interested in seeing.

As you can tell by the other posts on this blog, we are also committed to sharing information on the filmmaking process like the equally minded great site Shadow & Act.

The basis for the diaries is The Last Fall a film starring Lance Gross and Nicole Beharie.
In the diaries the writer/director Matthew Cherry covers the three stages of production PRE PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION and POST PRODUCTION and offers many personal revelations into his own life as it relates to getting the film made. One revelation is as personal as you can get and may have deterred him from making the film had he not had the presence of mind to persevere. Alas you have to read the diaries to see what I mean.

The Synopsis for The Last Fall is:
After several years of playing professional football as an undrafted free agent, 25 year-old Kyle Bishop (Lance Gross) is released from his fourth team in three years and returns to his home town, broke and at a complete loss about what he will do next. Kyle eventually reconnects with friends, family and an old high school sweetheart Faith Davis (Nicole Beharie).

Without further ado I have listed and linked the diaries in chronological order and you can see for yourself how hard it is to get an independent film made. Kudos to Shadow & Act and Mathew Cherry for a worthwhile series.


May 13, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 2: "We're Funded. Now Casting!"
May 20, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 3: "REST IN PEACE!"
May 27, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 4: "PRE-PRODUCTION WEEK 4!"
June 6, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 5: "ATTACHING TALENT"
June 10, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 6: "AUDITIONS"
June 17, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 7: "Three Weeks and Counting"
June 27, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 8: "Meet Our Leads"
July 1, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/Matthew Cherry) Episode 9: "Three Days Away"
July 8, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 10: "On the Set"
July 15, 2011


The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 11: "Filming Week 2"
July 25, 2011

The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series (w/ Matthew Cherry) Episode 12: "Last Week Of Filming"
July 29, 2011

Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series w/ Matthew Cherry, Episode 13: "Post Production Wk 1" (VIDEO)
August 5, 2011

Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series w/ Matthew Cherry, Weeks 14/15: "Post Production Wk 2/3"
August 19, 2011


S & A Filmmaker Diary Series w/ Matthew Cherry "Post Production" (Pick-up Days, Final Cut + Docu)
September 30, 2011

Shadow And Act Filmmaker Diary Series w/ Matthew Cherry: "Currently Seeking Distribution"
November 11, 2011


You can access ALL The Shadow & Act Filmmaker Diary Series including diaries from other filmmakers HERE

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Film Reviews

As I've said on this blog before "I usually post movie (and other media) reviews at Cool Black Media .I don’t usually post movie reviews here at the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Blog"

This is a blog for our film production company, but I also post many informative articles and links about film. To that end I started posting reviews for films that I liked and thought other people should see. The reviews are mostly for independent films that have little or no budget for marketing. If I thought they were good then surely other people should see them too!

Below are links to our most popular reviews. Click the posters below to check them out!

















Click the graphic below to read ALL of our reviews