Aliens in the attic

Why is Aliens in the Attic a masterwork?

Okay, first of all, it’s poster sucks.  Probably the worst movie poster I’ve seen that wasn’t for some kind of bad video game adaptation.  The first impression you get from this film is that it’ll be a really cheap video game movie, or worse still, a knock off of a video game movies.

33% Rotten Tomatoes, 91% google Users.  Wow, that’s a pretty big spread. Continue reading Aliens in the attic

The Sorrows of Deirdre

So, I had a film called “The Sorrows of Deirdre.”  I noticed something interesting.  Depending on who I pitch it to, my pitch changes.

LinkedIn Pitch:

It’s called “The Sorrows of Deirdre” and it’s based on Celtic mythology. Deirdre has been cursed with such beauty, that men’s desires her threatens to divide Ireland. To settle the issue, she’s promised to the King.

But, Deirdre falls in love with Naoise, and flees with him to Scotland. Their adventures with the natives seem almost more dangerous than staying in Ireland. And, as Naoise and his family grow homesick, it seems that one of the king’s servants can persuade him to return.

However, Deirdre’s prophetic dreams tell her than the return means certain death for her love.

Stage32 pitch:

LOGLINE:Some wish for knowledge. Others desire beauty. She was cursed with both.

SYNOPSIS:

Deirdre can dream about the future, but she can’t change it on her own. All men pretend to want to please her, but none listen. So her fate is to witness the destruction of one of the greatest kingdoms in the ancient world.

When Deirdre finds an prophetic amulet, her dreams lead to the handsome Naoise. However, she had been promised to the king from a young age. In order to save Naoise and his family, Deirdre and her new in-laws are forced to flee.

Unfortunately, the locals don’t take to Naoise and his brothers. They battle savage pics, and strange Britons, but most dangerous of all are devious druids who play to their homesickness.

Happy Fathers day, Glad Fars Dag

Happy Father’s Day!

I’ve never been to Sweden.  And no, I’m not half Swedish either.  So, why say Happy Father’s Day in Swedish? Well, we all have the same amount of days in a year, and we all have fathers, but the Swedish are allegedly the happiest people on earth. And, as our hobbies include history and geography, and as Napoleon was a father who spoke multiple languages (even though he wasn’t Swedish), I thought, why not say it in Swedish.

Sweden also has Waterloo. While Waterloo may be based in Belgium, and Napoleon might be a Frenchman from Corsica, and Waterloo might be a town in Canada and a tube stup in London, Abba, a Swedish band, sang about it.

They have Abba! Maybe that’s why the Swedes are so happy.  Or, are they?

If you ask people “are you happy?” who’s more likely to say yes, a free man, or a prisoner?  If you live under tyranny, you’re more likely to hide your unhappiness, for fear of retribution.  So, asking someone “are you happy” is nonsense.  It’s the worst possible way of gauging happiness.

Now, here’s some reasons I think Sweden is actually miserable.

1) Swedes are more likely to vote for extremist politicians than the average country.

2) Sweden has a higher suicide rate than the average country.

(Sweden’s suicide rate is higher than that of the United States.)  While some Buddhist and former Eastern bloc countries have higher suicide rates, Sweden has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed Western world.  (Belgium doesn’t really count because of the legal suicide.  Belgium has a phenomenon of suicide tourism, where people come from other countries to Belgium to die.)

3) Sweden has a high emigration rate.

That’s right, emigration, not immigration.  Sure, a lot of people from the developing world come to Sweden for opportunity, and we hear about the “immigration crisis”, but we don’t hear about all the people leaving.  Tens of thousands of Swedes leave every year, and you don’t normally leave your home country unless you’re unhappy in some way.  Considering the small size of Sweden’s population, the departure level is even more significant.

So, what’s all this mean?

Well, if you live in Sweden, you can continue to be happy that you have Abba.  If you don’t, you can be happy that you don’t live in Sweden!  Happy Father’s Day, Glad Fars Dag.

How to run a successful film festival

With only two screens, Aberystwyth, may not seem like a logical home for a film festival, but in the 20 years since I’ve moved here, the town has hosted over 20 failed film festivals. And, I’m sure there have been many other failed festivals that I never heard about.

Over those twenty years, only three festivals have continued to this day, and only two of them are still in (or partially in) Aberystwyth.

Aberystwyth is not unique in being a home to failed film festivals.  In fact, film festivals are probably the riskiest part of the film business. At least with a film, you have a recorded document to show as a kind of proof of your hard work.

If you’re determined to run a festival anyway, make sure you do it right. Continue reading How to run a successful film festival

5 films shot in the director’s home

With recent scandals, we normally suspect a movie made in the director’s home. When the director is alone, it doesn’t matter whether the audition is in an office, an auditorium, or a hotel room, but hotel room usually seems suspect.

Let’s return to a more innocent time, when many directors didn’t have bad intentions, they just didn’t have large enough bank balances to rent a location.

1. The Brothers McMullen : Edward Burns (1995)

A few microbudget films really start the director’s career. You might say Brother’s McMullen was one of them, it shot Ed Burns through to the stratosphere as an actor.

Reportedly made for 40,000 in the director’s home, it was liked by Ebert, and one of the darlings of the microbudget scene in the 1990s.

Burns wrote, directed, acted in, and co-produced this film.  Others who share his surname were also involved.  Hey, when the budget is this low, you’ve got to save money somehow.

2. Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire (1999)

A similar budget to Brother’s McMullen, if not as famous.  Roger Ebert liked this film, even if you might not have heard of it.  He says that it received a standing ovation at the Toronto film festival, and gives it praise.  (He’s not normally a fan of films this low budget, or shot in the director’s home.)

The director co-wrote this film with the two stars, perhaps giving them credit for improvisation.

3. Going Shopping: Henry Jaglom (2005)

This film seems to have heavily influenced “He’s not That Into You”, with the interview style of non-characters and extras talking about shopping predating the other film’s interview style of non-characters speaking about relationships.  And, Going Shopping must have sold well on DVD, because it’s fairly easy to find second hand.

Okay, so this film doesn’t appear to be set in a house, when you have a mansion like this, you can make your shed look like a clothing store, and your garden look like a park.  But, watch the making of if you don’t believe me, this is all based on the director’s property.

The director co-wrote this film with the star.

4. Paranormal Activity: Oren Peli (2007)

One of the most famous microbudget films made by a nobody, this horror film inspires millennials to make their own movies.

The Oren Pei wrote, produced, directed, edited, and shot this film.   He’s uncredited with set design, because hey, I guess he decorates his own room.

5. Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon (2012)

The same year that Joss Whedon directed “Avengers Assemble”, he adapted Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He said that the budget was so low, that it had to be shot in black and white.  This critically acclaimed, microbudget Shakespeare movie was shot in his house, and starred his friends and neighbours. Of course, he has a huge house, and has some pretty experienced friends and neighbours.

Should the director get a screenplay credit?  Well, he gets one, because he adapted Shakespeare’s original script for the screen.

Lesser known films

The films above seem to have been written by the director, or by the director and the stars, or the director wrote and starred in the film.  We don’t have as much information about these other films, but they seem to be similarly low-budget, with writer-directors.  Here are some lower profile films that seem to be shot in the director’s house.

Multiple Maniacs (1970)

Is it in John Water’s apartment?   I’m not sure.   – weird movie though.  This guy went on to create Hairspray, but most of his films were for a cult (meaning small but loyal) audience.

Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996)

Not entirely shot in the director’s house, but partly there. A strange film from a Palestinian perspective.

Amateana (2012)

Short film, shot in the director’s house. The director’s names is Lud Mônaco

Four Twenty (2012)

The entire film was shot in the director’s house.  Or, so claims the IMDB page.  I’m not sure if you can see this film anywhere.

Rita Dove: An American Poet (2014)

Partially filmed at the director’s house. The readings at the end readings were recorded at the director’s house.

Dara Says (2014)

Most of this film was shot in the director’s and producer’s living room, in the course of a month.  A half day in the kitchen, and a couple of days in the dining room.  They played two of the film’s three characters and edited it along with the crew of two.  A stunt director arrived for a day and a half so the director could do his own stunts.

The entire house is probably smaller than one room of the other films, but oh well.  The budget of the crowdfunded feature film was tiny too, with the crew’s salaries paid for by a Jobs Growth Wales scheme.

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this film, we might not have heard of it either if we didn’t create it ourselves.

Screenwriting is the most competitive profession in the film industry

Reading the trades, I discovered that only about 1100 writers worked on films in Hollywood last year.  Sure, more than that worked on TV, but most elite members of the WGA only work about one year in three (if at all).  And, when they do find work, their pay is still less than many less glamorous roles.

(I know Squanto.  You were unemployed long before I made that discovery.) Continue reading Screenwriting is the most competitive profession in the film industry

Irony

Catalan and Portuguese flag superimposed on our 1812 timeline page
I made this image with the help of technology. It cost me a man hour, based on a blog that cost me longer, but I don’t know how much of the tech was devoted to me.

The following post is filled with #irony making it #ironic . It’s not meant to be useful, any utility is purely accidental. Punctuation is intentionally misplaced to suit the hashtag.

You know one of the most ironic sayings ever? “A picture is worth a thousand words. ” That’s seven words long. Try drawing a picture that says over 142 times that. (Use a calculator to do the math.) Some pictures are worth a thousand words, but those are either powerful pictures, or lame words.

Another ironic thing: I recently received an essay about the importance and power of stories. The essay was structured in such a way that it didn’t tell a single story. Okay, so it tried to conjecture on the key themes of a few stories, maybe even hinted at a few plots, but it didn’t tell one. If stories are so powerful, why was it written as an essay? Continue reading Irony