Friday, July 30, 2010

Motown Focus

How many times have I heard someone tell me about an album that they are producing or a concert that they plan to their friends basement. I have been skeptical of musicians left and right, probably because so many little understand the amount of effort and focus that is needed to bring their passions to life. However Motown can return. With outlets like YouTube and iTunes allowing easier and cheaper delivery, perhaps the musical youth of Detroit should take notice. Stop telling me about how you want to be a player or a musician in the industry. Everyone is a recording artist according to what they will tell you. Instead I urge the young musicians of metro-Detroit to defer from talking about what they are doing and just do it. Use what is around you. You can bring Mo-Town back to it's glory, if you behave as so. So act as if. But don't mis-behave. Be on par, on time and focus your efforts properly. Focus will get you further in this life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raleigh Studios! It's almost here

I have to admit, I was taken by first glance at what could and will be Raleigh Michigan Studios. The elavators, the floor, the hallways....all of it. Strikes me as a Hollywood style studio in the making. The studio is promising to bring 3,600 jobs over the course of it's life by Alfred Taubman and Governor Granholm. Let's hope so. Let's hope that these jobs are well paying and lets hope that there are films and television shows that will fill the studio space. Overall I think if more L.A. operations like this one that join forces with established Michigan, that we will have a proper industry here. Granted most of these jobs may end up being below the line, meaning if you are a wanna-be director, your best bet is still to attend film school outside of Michigan and perhaps get yourself to the point that you can bring movies back home to the state to get made. Raleigh Studios is expected to become fully operation and open for business in February of 2011.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Directors' Still Authors?

Are film auteurs still worth it. This week, directors like Robert Rodriguez were approached by studios to move forward on sequels to their previous production efforts. Sin City 2 or Predators 2 may be coming to theatres soon. Equally, filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash) and Matt Reeves (Clover field) have been tagged to consider so many future properties. So the question is does a director make a movie or does the responsibility of a successful project remain in the hands of the writer? or the actors? It is obviously the whole package that makes any film as good or as a bad as it can be. However, I stand by the auteur theory of filmmaking, that a directors project is his project, and it is the "author" of the screenwriters translation to the screen. The director's eye and passionate edge is what makes our subconscious so interested in what we are watching. The same script directed by 3 or 4 different people could and would completely change the way we understand the performances and dialogue of the actors. Therefore I say yes, directors are worth it. The personal experiences of that individual who manages the productions creative aspects is what we learn through his or her tone and color.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Union Council

By August 1st, there is a potential of a strike looming....not SAG or AFTRA, or the WGA...rather the low profile, Teamsters Local 399 who represent thousands of drivers in Los Angeles who transport everything from movie star trailers to movie making equipment. So without out them could mean no moviemaking. The current Teamsters' contract with the studios expires at the end of the month and neither side is budging regarding current negotiations. As SAG and AFTRA primetime negotiations begin in the following months and the DGA (Directors Guild) negotiating in November, could one start to worry about a halt of work in Hollywood?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LGF meets MGM

Lions Gate Films' chief executive, Jon Feltheimer, and vice chairman, Michael Burns met yesterday with the credits who are babysitting MGM Films to give a meeting about the possible merger. The meeting was a prominent one as LGF could possibly own properties such as Jamnes Bond 007, Lord of the Rings' The Hobbit, and the made in Michigan Red Dawn remake. Car Icahn (who owns 37.3 percent of the LFG stick) and the board at LFG struck a 10 day truce in order to get through this week. Even though the merger seems perfect, it could also bring about it's own complexity as LGF owes nearly $550 million dollars in debt. MGM has almost $4 billion dollars of debt that would need to be taken care of following any merger. Perhaps LFG can roll out a red-carpet for the next series of James Bond pictures to cover these costs?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer of Lackluster

Have any of you walked into the movie theatres not knowing what to watch? Don't worry, we are all feeling the same way. There is so much A+ level talent making B- movies this year. From "Jonah Hex," "The Last Airbender," to "Toy Story 3," audiences have shown up see their favorite actors; Although movie ticket sales haven't suffered so much...The plot and characters have. Rotten Tomatoes for example gave the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz piloted "Knight and Day" a 53 percent rating. In high school, we all know that 53% is a failing grade. So when you have two of the biggest names in Hollywood, why are they not demanding more from the writers? Can it all be blamed on the script, or should we suggest that the Studios allow the directors the final cut that they need to bring us the works of art they wish to author? On the other hand, shall I suggest for now to us walking into the movie theatre foyers to perhaps consider smaller films that pay more attention to our subjected minds. Even recent foreign films have tangled my thought process after the theatre lights go up. I suggest that we audience members visit the small art house that we often dismiss on main street. I recently enjoyed the Swedish film-noir, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Based on the book of the same name, the film did so well critically that it is undergoing an American makeover.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Twilight Installments Shoot In L.A.

Summit Entertainment will shoot parts 1 and 2 of the final Twilight chapter "Breaking Dawn" in Vancouver this fall - However in addition to their great north location, the projects are also aiming to film sequences in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This would be the first film to utilize Louisiana as a location. Most likely this is due to their 30 perfect transferable tax incentive program, regarding in state expenditures on film productions. Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) is directing the feature films that will compose part 4 and 5 of the series, with the first film planned on being released November 18, 2011. The series has totalled 1.4 billion dollars worldwide. So with a project of this level headed south, one can only wonder what kind of tourism may come to the city of Baton Rouge after the release. It is this thought process that makes me ask, how can other states like Michigan see film productions as a way to attain positive reputation and redeem other sources of revenue, for example tourism?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rumblings at the Lions Den

Lions Gate Films (the Santa Monica based studio behind the "Saw" franchise) is facing a takeover from a Carl Icahn. Often referred to as the 59th richest person in the world, with a net value of over 10.5 million dolalrs, Icahn is an equity investor who has aimed to acquire 37.9% of the company shares. In an attempt to thwart his attempt at reaching over 38% which would put him in the majority, Lions Gate will possibly issue more stock to other shareholders. LGF is currently in talks of a possible merger with the near bankrupt MGM. If Icahn takes over Lions Gate, one could only wonder what his plans are with that possible merger if he indeed takes over and replaces to current board of directors? Icahn currently has 33.9% of LGF stock, which puts him in a position to block some current decisions made by the board of directors that require two/thirds vote. LGF opened in the stock market today at $6.66.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Art of Touring

To independent filmmakers seeking a new strategy to gain more public focus on their projects. Perhaps taking a note from Hollywood by way of a long lost sovereign tool of our maverick film ancestors. Touring. Yes like a musician or comedian. This past saturday in metro-Detroit 'Twilight' actor Bronson Pelletier (who plays Jared) is not necessarily the "Star" of the picture but he amongst other supporting actors in the film attended select showings all across America. This is a unique and relatively inexpensive way of keeping the hype stable through the weekend (not that it needs any push).