Posts tagged film

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Project Greenlight: Sexy Superhero

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IMG_1248Superheroes are larger than life and mythic in scope. Their clothes play an essential role in conveying their power. The dark silhouette of an armored Batman strikes fear in the hearts evildoers. The red cape and yellow shield of Superman brings hope to the hopeless. Wonder Woman’s bustier gives a great view of her breasts. Well, maybe that last one doesn’t have the same “effect” as the first two.

There’s long been a double standard in superhero comics, dating back to the very first female heroes. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been a fan of comic books. The hero is dressed to inspire, and the female heroine is dressed (or undressed) to titillate. Powergirl may be stronger and faster than Batman, able to shrug off bullets and lift tanks, but her clothes (which literally have a cleavage window) have all the subtext of eye candy, not hero.

It’s a problem that comic books still struggle with despite a century of progress in gender equality. You only have to look at the recent kerfuffle with Spider-Woman #1’s cover with a “painted on” costume to know we haven’t moved that far from Wonder Woman being tied up and fired at by phallic objects in the 1940’s. The move to mass commercial success with Marvel’s films has only exacerbated the problems. Black Widow’s representation in the Avengers proved fertile ground for the Internet meme machine, with her impractical cleavage and ludicrous posing.

Sexy Superhero is my addition to the ongoing conversation on this subject. It’s a short film that pokes fun of the impracticality of accepted female costuming in superhero fiction. I’m a big fan of superhero comics and movies. I wanted to create something that showed my love for the subject matter and share it with a larger audience. There’s a reason why comic fans are so passionate–Superheroes are great fun, and can be monumentally inspiring. I think everyone should be able to identify with his or her favorite hero without a cleavage window shutting them out.

 

IMG_1218Luke Patton is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. Sexy Superhero, a short film he wrote and directed, is one of the top 20 finalists in the Project Greenlight competition. To watch Sexy Superhero and place your vote in the competition please follow the link below.

http://www.projectgreenlight.com

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Interview: Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh of OUTPOST (an Epic Sci-Fi Adventure).

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Thunderclap

 

Hey, Guys!

This week I was given the opportunity to gather some intel from Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh, the co-writers and co-directors of OUTPOST, a new Sci-Fi film that is in the process of being made right at this very moment (literally, as you’re reading this). These fellows have promised space, love, and — get this — an outpost! Going with the futuristic trend, Justin and Ryan are taking the very modern approach to producing their film by raising the funds through a crowd-funding project set up on IndieGoGo, where they managed to raise ten-thousand dollars in a mere three days. I believe that is internet for “a lot of people believe in these dream and you should, too.”

In fact, to encourage you to donate, these guys have come up with some seriously fancy perks ranging from DVDs, top-secret internet parties, to a coffee and pie date (with both of them, I might add). Really, even if you don’t like Sci-Fi movies, you should donate just to get one of their ridiculously awesome perks.

For more details on OUTPOST and the fundraiser, or to donate: click here.

 

Now, here’s what these charming lads had to say about their super interesting film-in-progress:

 

1) If we could, I would like to start with any details that you would like to share with our audience, and an elaboration on the source of all of the passion that you guys are feeling for this project. Is this just a love of SciFi in general, or is this project in particular special to you?

Great question, Daliya! It’s a combination of both, we’d say. For us, science fiction provides a way to step back from anything we currently know and allow our imaginations to set the scene for our characters. It allows us to make our own playground where we can have as many swings and slides as we want. Even the very laws of physics as we currently understand them are able to be set aside in order to tell a story about the human condition. So sci-fi itself definitely gets the creativity pumping, and that’s awesome.
But the passion runs deeper for a few reasons. First off, we’re really passionate about the story. When we set out to write this, we were determined to try to write a story that wasn’t based on a cool concept or the VFX, but was built around the intensity of the characters. Gordon and ARIA have such a deep love for each other, but it seems destined to fail and so they desperately try to ignore it – until something dangerous and otherworldly threatens them and they’re forced to face their fears. (Plus, the end is killer. I mean, we literally get misty-eyed when we read through it and we WROTE the darn thing.)
Another reason for the passion is very practical; despite having successful careers as actors, it’s a job where 10 people have to say yes before you get to work as a creative artist. Making our own work gives us creative control and to work on such a scale is such a blessing. Add to that being supported by our friends and family and it feels like we are not alone but part of an artistic movement together as we strive to share our creative voice and vision.
2) Your idea seems very unique and I’m not really mentally connecting it to anything else (maybe Mass Effect, but that’s a stretch), and I noticed that you two mentioned a lot of other SciFi films in your indiegogo video, so I was wondering if you had any specific film or book inspirations for this film’s story?
While the idea came to us pretty well-formed, films like Moon and The Abyss were a huge part of the stylistic inspiration. The idea of isolation, loneliness, and the danger being off-screen spoke to us because then the story remains a human story. Even with our “Beings” as we’re calling them, the focus has been on what they represent rather than their look or design. At one point, we had a pretty elaborate fight scene, but we soon realized there’s no way we could afford it and, when forced to consider a different path, we eventually landed on something we like more because the conflict doesn’t become about fighting off a big bad alien, but the threat they represent to Citizen Gordon and ARIA’s relationship. Moon is a movie set on the Moon, but it’s not about the moon. The Abyss is a constant looming threat/curiosity, but we watch the people dealing with it, not a bunch of CGI sequences. Another film we love is Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. That movie has beautiful imagery with a planet-ending threat looming over them, but the story is really about whether or not the crew will be able to stick together long enough to save humanity.
3) It seems that the relationship in this story is one of the main focal points. Should the audience expect a typical style of romance, or do you guys feel like you might be creating a new, original romantic image for your audience?
We don’t know that we’re creating a wholly new type of love story, just taking a slightly different perspective. Love is a courageous thing to do, especially when it’s not in a conventional way, or in a socially acceptable way – that’s something we wanted to explore with both these characters. The idea of a boy and his robot is a standard sci-fi trope, but it’s always felt like the differences were highlighted. We want to highlight the similarities. We’re also touching on a deeper question of what it means to be alive – the character of ARIA has only recently become fully sentient so her journey is particularly unique.
4) As stated in your video, you have a lot of big names working on your project. What brought your team together? 
Passion. From day one we have been passionate about this project and so we’ve attracted other passionate people who turn around and constantly inspire and surprise us. For example, in picking our cinematographer Idan Menin, we have a perfect story to illustrate what we’re talking about. Idan had found our project early on and had begun messaging us early in the process expressing his interest. We liked his reel, but we were months away from any sort of application process. As we got closer to the Indiegogo campaign, we knew we wanted an actual DP to shoot our pitch video, so I reached out to him with the script and a request for help. We set a date for a coffee meeting and when we show up to casually chat about an Indiegogo movie, he pulls out a digital look book and begins to paint an incredible vision of the film as he saw it. He was right on with the images in our heads and incredibly enthusiastic, so when we left, I (Justin) called Ryan and said, “Can we just hire him?” And we did!
5) Previously you said that it takes a good amount of people to get something like this off the ground and running. Do you feel like your entire team shares the same vision, or are you all bringing a collection of different ideas and perspectives together?
It’s shared. If we could magically wave a wand and create the exact movie we have in our heads, it would never be as good as a movie born of the creative collaboration of many talented artists. Every department head and the crew they bring with them are carefully chosen because we know they will have a signature on this film, too. If we had to brag, it would probably be that we are good at finding good people.
6) You said that you want to primarily focus on humanity and human emotions in a new setting. What, in your words, would you like the audience to take away from your film?
We’d love for our audience to leave really contemplating on Gordon’s dilemma – to fight for all of mankind, a mankind that is recognizably flawed and distant, or to fight for the singular thing that makes him a man – love of an individual. Moreover, it’s an individual he’s not supposed to love! Also, there’s some big Easter eggs in the short that hint at a much more complicated and layered story we hope to present in the feature and we’d love those questions to be burning in the audience as well.
7) You guys managed to get a great deal of funding in a short amount of time, which seems to show that plenty of people believe in this production. How does that make you guys feel? Did you expect a turnout like that?
The turnout so far has been incredibly encouraging. Despite months of preparation getting to our launch date, you never really know how the public is going to respond so it’s incredibly humbling to see people responding the way they are. We have a quote that has been our mantra of sorts: be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. We know that $60,000 is a lot to raise, but we also know that passion is contagious. So much of what we see in the entertainment industry now is about the bottom line and I think people long for stories that are about more than that. We are boldly placing our film in the hands of the audience instead of the studios and trusting that they will carry us through. When they do, our obligation is then to entertain and inspire THEM instead of meet a bottom line.
8) Individually, what was the first SciFi film, show, or book that really started your passion for this genre?
Justin: This one is easy: Ender’s Game. I remember being a kid and reading that book and being in awe of the deftness with which that story was told. It manages to achieve exactly what I want to achieve in storytelling. The story of Ender’s Game isn’t about space or aliens or cool technology – it’s about Ender. How does a boy become a man? How do you deal with pressure when you simply have to and there’s no escaping it? What is it like for people to depend on you but they keep you isolated? See, these are all very human and universal problems. It just so happens to be set in space from the perspective of a young boy. In terms of film, Star Wars. I got started in acting doing voice overs as a kid and I would get these checks that no 11 year old should be receiving and I would go blow it all buying Star Wars toys and card games that I would leave in their packages so they would grow in value. I’m a nut.
Ryan: There have been many films over the years that have deeply impacted me and shaped my perception of the genre (The Abyss, Alien, Event Horizon, to name a few) but I think it was watching anime on Saturday mornings as a kid. The Sci-Fi Channel used to air an anime film everySaturday morning at 11AM – I was consistently awed by the worlds created in those films, whether sci-fi or fantasy. Those films did more to inspire imagination and creativity in me than probably anything else to date. Funny thing is, I hardly ever watched anime s I got older, but it created a foundation of appreciation for Science Fiction.
9) Obviously crowd-funding is a unique approach for film-making. Do you feel like you can produce something more specific to your image since you are in complete control of the production?
There are certainly pros and cons to the process. As you mentioned, creative control is a HUGE plus, but there is also a lot of uncertainty in the process that can be challenging. Even with Outpost, there are a number of things as it relates to producing the film that we simply cannot move forward on until we know what our working budget is – so that can be a challenge, the unknown as it were.  Honestly though, we think it’s a big win for everybody in the end; there just isn’t another way of making films right now that involves and connects you to your audience like crowd funding.
10) Given that you are in complete control of the production, do you guys feel that you might be able to make a SciFi film that caters more to the average person by bypassing the demands and limitations placed upon major film productions?
Yes – kind of. Ha! We had an investor who had seen our first film and offered to bank roll our second film. He eventually needed to step out for personal reasons, but during the process it was very educational to see that the moment you bring in a money person, certain expectations have to be met. With that element gone, we are able to be true to our vision. We want to tell a story that means something to us – we can only hope that if we tell it true, in a voice that’s true, that it will mean something to our audience. It is true that it allows us to tell the story without worrying about whether we’re blowing up enough stuff or how long since we’ve had a spot of nudity or a sex scene. Good news is, we still blow up some stuff in Outpost so I think it’ll satisfy that taste, too!
11) What are you guys the most excited about for this film?
Blowing stuff up, haha! We’re kidding, of course! What excites us beyond the story aspect is the scope and style of the film that we’re going to be able to achieve on a very small budget. We think people will look at this and be blown away by the visuals and style and be even more blown away when we tell them we got away with it for $60k. We’re so excited about how this film is going to look, we’ve started story boarding and working with our DP and VFX Supervisor and believe this film is going to be stunning. The best part is that it’s still in service of the heart of the film, the story of Gordon and Aria. And blowing stuff up…:)
12) If you could say one thing to a potential viewer to convince them to see your film, what would you say?
Outpost will satisfy on every level, it will stay with you. Plus, it’s frickin’ badass! Space! Love! Robots! Aliens! Explosions! A little something for everyone.
13) What do you want everyone to know about this film?
We can’t make it without you, the reader! When you help us out with a donation or a social media share, you are, in a very real way, becoming a part of this process. That’s not lip-service, that’s a simple statement of fact. So, when you sit back and watch this film, on some level you’ll know it’s there because you willed it so! You can point at a 60 foot screen, turn to your friend and say, “I made that.”
14) Give us your favorite nerdy saying or quote.
Ryan: [“You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”] Seriously, one of the most badass things ever said.
Justin: I’ve got two choices: “Do or do not, there is no try.” and my second one is similar to Ryan’s: “Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian ACTION Wizard You shall not pass CUT Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap.

If you’re not sold on Ryan and Justin’s new film by this point, you might actually have the heart of a Death Eater.
Assuming you’re not pure evil with a side of too-much-hair-product, you can donate and learn more about this project here.
Thanks again to Justin and Ryan for this wonderful interview. I hope you achieve your own version of cinematic perfection!
Daliya Risik
@TasteTheChaos
DawnOfTheDragonslayer

Review: Dawn of the Dragonslayer

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Dawn of the Dragonslayer tells the story of Will (Richard McWilliams), a shepherd’s son whose land is ravaged by a dragon. After his flock is destroyed he takes his father’s advice to look for a better life. He is encouraged to approach Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen) to cash in a debt owed to his father.

Under the impression that he is meant to be a bondsman training to be a knight, his thoughts of a better life are extinguished when he recognizes that the Baron is suffering a financial windfall. He is initially sent away until he reveals a sealed document from his father. The Baron reluctantly agrees to employ him, but the Baron’s servants immediately delegate the less tasteful jobs to Will.

Although the experience wasn’t quite what he expected, he took note of the Baron’s lovely daughter, Kate (Nicola Posener). As sparks start between them, a young nobleman named Rogan (Philip Brodie) arrives with a request for Kate’s hand.

During these deliciously awkward moments, the dragon migrates to the Baron’s lands. The Baron, hungry for glory and gold leaves with Rogan to take down the monster. While they are away, Kate reveals a book that helps Will learn the lessons of a knight. Before he is ready to avenge his homeland, the dragon attacks the castle and Will manages to wound it.

Through faith in himself and his feelings for Kate, he sets off to finish what had started on his farm.

I have to admit that even though I had a bit of a setback*, I was a little hesitant to watch an independent film about dragons. I’m one of those people that loves the idea of being immersed in a movie, and if the budget isn’t high there are areas that tend to be shaved down.

I KICKED MYSELF once I started watching it. The special effects and underscoring were incredibly impressive. The dragon itself looked phenomenal and the magical moments were accentuated without distracting you from the actors, and their performances were compelling.

Richard McWilliams and Nicola Posener have a chemistry on screen that feels naïve but intense. The romance novel nerd in me squeed when there were slight facial clues of the character’s developing feelings. It was very well played in a training montage. Yes… That’s right. A montage. As Kate and Will are learning the ways of the Knight, there are stolen glances and tender moments.

One of my favorite characters is Lady Spriggs (Maggie Daniels), Kate’s Aunt who initially appears to be a minor character. When the Baron leaves to battle the dragon, however, she steps into a far more inspirational role to Will than the Baron could ever be.

As of right now, Dawn of the Dragonslayer is only available through UK distribution, and they are currently speaking with US distributors. If you “like” their facebook fanpage they can keep you abreast with the latest updates.

 

* Back in September, we posted an official press release for Dawn of the Dragonslayer’s World Premiere at Bleedfest 2011. In October, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the movie. Frankly, I love dragons. Can’t get enough of them. It was just my luck that the weekend I planned to watch it and write a review, Connecticut would have a freak snowstorm and leave 94% of the state without power for a week and a half. Guess which percentage I was a part of?

But there is still great news! ‎Dawn of the Dragonslayer was awarded Best Fantasy Film at Bleedfest 2011!

Alpha House

Interview with South Fellini About Upcoming Horror Film, Alpha Girls

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I first discovered Johnny Zito and Tony Trov when I reviewed Moon Girl issue 1 about 6 months ago. Fantastic comic book, stunning art. As is custom for nerds, I googled these guys, tracked them down on Twitter and kept an eye on them for new comic announcements. I was super excited to see tweets popping up in the following weeks from them announcing they were producing an  independent horror movie in their home base of  Philadelphia. Johnny and Tony are the founders of South Fellini, an “intellectual property studio“.  I asked the guys to give Nerds in Babeland readers a little inside info on Alpha Girls and what it was like producing a horror film.

Alpha Girls is about a sorority house with demon issues. Can you elaborate a bit on what we can expect?

JZ – There’s a coven of witches and they make a pact with a devil-ish monster that feeds on death.  Every sacrifice grants them untold power and wealth.  After a hundred years the craft has gotten watered down and all that remains is a crumbling sorority built on the old traditions.

TT – The story really focuses on the new pledges, four girls who discover there’s some truth to the old ways.  They set out to make their wildest dreams come true and it costs them dearly.

JZ – We shot the whole thing in Philly at an actual frat house that’s over 120 years old.  So there were all these creepy rooms to explore.

TT – It was supposed to be like Susperia but I think it turned out more like Beetlejuice.  Can’t wait for the edit.

Besides you guys, are there any other comic book community names involved in this project and what do they do in comics?

TT – Christine Larsen (Kung Fu Panda, LaMorte Sisters), Paul Maybury (Strange Tales, DOGS of Mars), Mark Fionda (Carnivale De Robotique) all contributed demon art to The Charter; a supremely holy book of voodoo and black magic. This was the book all the witches kept their spells in.  They passed it down between graduating classes.  A lot of the art contributions will be on screen.

JZ – And the Alpha Girls Movie Poster was done by Rahzzah (Moon Girl) in the style of a classic, 80’s horror films.  Alpha Girls is at least a lil inspired by that B Movie era of horror films.  It’s what we grew up on.  So, we plan to release a REALLY limited edition run of VHS copies.  Rhazzah’s art will grace the cover.

poster by Rahzzah

 

Alpha Girls was partially funded by Kickstarter. What was that experience like and did you find it as supportive as you’d expected?

TT – It’s been fantastic.  The idea that we can pre-sell movie tickets for $20 is very appealing.  It could change the way movies get made for the better.  No one has to ask “how did this get made?” because you’ll know. You green lit it.

JZ – The Kickstarter is still going; 27 (editor’s note: at publishing, 15) more days left to pledge in exchange for really cool rewards.  The aforementioned Poster, VHS Copy, Props from the film and copies of the soundtrack are all up for grabs.

TT – The movie is already shot; every frame is backed up on 4 hard drives and magnetic tape.  Each copy is kept in a super secret location below the Mason-Dixon Line for safety.  All we have to do now is put it together.
JZ – The proceeds from our Kickstarter will go to post production costs; hard drives, dedicated computers, mastering the sound track, ADR, sound design and digital effects.

You’ve also been blogging the entire process. Was that more for your own documentation and enjoyment or something you wanted to do for your followers?

TT – There was so much amazing stuff going on all the time, it was really more for us. If we weren’t taking a million photos and vids, we might forget how much fun we had making it.

JZ – Almost everyone on the crew blogged or tweeted, it was a group effort. Follow the hash tag #alphagirlson to see what everyone is talking about.  And behind-the-scenes content is part of the film making process.  You can rent a movie on Netflix but you buy the DVD for the extras.

Alpha House

Was there any specific inspiration for this film for either of you? Anything in particular that made you feel like THIS movie had to be made?

JZ – This is a very personal story for us.  It’s about college and all the mistakes people make trying to fit in. We like to play with stories about the cost of friendship.

TT – Writing Alpha Girls felt different from any other project we’ve worked on. It started out as an idea for a comic but during the process we fell in love with the characters.

6. Are both of you lifelong horror fans, or was the interest born of some other venue/experience?

TT – We are pop culture obsessed.  We grew up consuming cable television; Saturday morning cartoons, music videos and movies of the week.  Really we’re lifelong fans of the weird.

JZ – In the last few years our interests have gotten further off the beaten path.  Once a month we get together with friends for Shit Movie Fest and gorge ourselves on bad horror and cheesy sci-fi.

What were some of the biggest challenges in getting this film produced?

JZ – Feeding people is a huge undertaking; an army runs on its stomach. We were working 15 hours a day and keeping people healthy is top priority. I learned so much about nutrition and body chemistry.  You can literally reanimate a person with a spoonful of peanut butter and a shot of vitamin water.

TT – The heat was the worst part.  We’re under a dozen lights trapped in a giant mansion with no air conditioning. And as it turned it out this was the hottest July of all time in the history of the world.  A new record high temperature was shattered every day.  At a certain point we even had a kiddie pool on set just so people could dunk their heads and eat popsicles.

What were your favorite moments during the production?

JZ – Everyday was awesome for completely different reasons but the first time we got to see all four actresses in their pledge uniforms stands out to me. It was 5 days into production so we’d done scenes with one or two actresses in costume but not all four.  The pledges all wear matching uniforms and pink, argyle sweaters.  It was surreal seeing this image we had in our heads for months suddenly brought to life.  Trov and I slip behind the monitor and you can’t see the dance of lights, camera and boom pole going on around the actors.  It’s a movie all of a sudden.  Very exciting.

TT – Shooting around Philadelphia was amazing. There are so many locations to explore past The Museum of Art. Everyone around the city was very supportive and encouraging. It really feels that people are excited to have films shot in their neighborhood.

Is Alpha Girls your first feature film project? Has the experience motivated you to try another one in the future?

TT – We’re addicted. Plotting lots of projects now.
JZ – Chew coffee. Make movies.

I know Alpha Girls filming just wrapped up. When can we expect to see it and how can we find it?

JZ – The Kickstarter wraps up on September 6th and we hope to have a lil teaser trailer before then.  Maybe some clips by NYCC and a finished product by SxSW.
TT – After that we’d like to find a home on Netflix/Hulu/On Demand.  We love the internet distribution model; it’s done right by us in the comic book market. We’ll do collector’s edition DVDs and VHS for… collectors.

Would you like to tell us what’s next for South Fellini?

TT – Mystery!

JZ – Adventure!

TT – La Romantica!

JZ – DANGER!!!

 

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Black Hat / White Hat

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I had heard somewhere that in the great Western films of old, the HERO would always wear a white hat, and the VILLAIN would wear a black one. This color difference made it easier for people to differentiate during the development of the storyline.
Because the colors are so different (one being the lack of any color and one being the presence of every color), it made me think about the difference between HERO and VILLAIN. Honestly, a part of me feels that this is truly in the eye of the beholder.
Yes, there are VILLAINs in stories that are truly outlandish. The power hungry insane scientist looking to drown the world by melting the polar ice caps, the unruly thug looking to take down the police and any so-called “do-gooder” by forming a mob. There are the jealous second sons of Kings wanting to dispurse of their brother and his offspring to ensure they rule the flourishing kingdom.
For the rest of this rambling, head on over to cranialspasm.com

The Apollo Awards: Neat Idea or Cashing In On Nerd Culture

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Let’s have a discussion. I have to thank one of my Twitter followers (@dr_lindyke) for inspiring this blog post.

Earlier this morning on Geeky Pleasures, I posted the following press release. Click the clip below or you will be a wee bit lost on this topic.

Not receiving any feedback, I asked the following question on Twitter:

Which spawned this discussion (if you are viewing this in an RSS reader, you may need to visit the site to read the discussion):
<a href=”http://twitoaster.com/country-ca/geekyjules/am-i-the-only-1-excited-re-announcement-of-the-apollo-awards-1st-global-online-scififantasy-awards-made-today-at-nycc/”>Am I the only 1 excited RE announcement of The Apollo – Twitter conversation</a>
So let me ask you the same questions. Do you think it is neat that geeks and nerds get to nominate and vote for their favourite SciFi and Fantasy films and television or do you think it is just another popularity contest?

Do you see it as geeks/nerds choosing what they actually like without mainstream telling them what is or is not cool or do you think it is profit grab?

Do you like this idea or does it bother you?

Do you think these are awards are filled with irony due to popularity factor and as geeks and nerds we shouldn’t care about that?

What other issues do you see with this, if any?

What do you think?

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