Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Great Cinema

I've written here previously about "Kes," a 1969 film by director Ken Loach. Though it's widely considered by the English to be one of their finest films, it's virtually unknown here. For Americans, the heavily-accented working-class English is difficult to understand - in fact, it took me several viewings to understand what was going on. To summarize, "Kes" is the story of a fourteen year old boy living under difficult family and social circumstances in a contemporary (1960's era) mining town. He finds peace in training a Kestral (bird), but even that isn't immune from the harshness that surrounds him.

"Kes" is a beautiful work of cinema, produced at a small budget with a largely non-professional cast. As effective as the script and cinematography, there's a beautiful score, composed by John Cameron, and performed by his quartet. I'm not a musician by any means, but this is a masterpiece of simplicity. I've just ordered the soundtrack, which has only been available since 2002.

Unfortunately, unless you know me and can borrow a copy, Kes is generally unavailable in the United States. You can read about on IMDB here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Literary Dynasty In The Making

We're a very literary family. My late father, in his younger days, was both a prolific reader, and a writer - mostly of short stories and letters. My mother is a prolific reader. We grew up in a house full of books, and my sisters and I became skilled writers, which has worked to our advantage through the years. Much of my career is built on my writing skills in one way or the other. One of my sisters has always been a prolific letter-writer, was involved in PR for a while, and has published numerous newsletters over the years. My niece is probably the most prolific writer, having written several novel-length works - and her first job out of college is at as a copy editor at a monthly magazine (not everyone gets a job in their chosen field right away!). I have no doubt she'll eventually sell her first novel. Now my nephew is finding some initial success. He's been working at screenwriting for several years (he's almost 20), and posted his latest feature-length comedy on a screenwriter's site, where writers evaluate and exchange comments on their current work. My nephew's script is currently one of the most read comedy scripts on the site. Also, a community group in a small town in Mississippi, with my nephew's permission, is actually producing a movie based on his script with local kids.

Dat ain't bad 4 book learnin'.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Reel

Here's a quick sample of my work - this is designed as the teaser video introducing my DVD sample reel.

My Father's Retirement

Here's my father's speech as he retired as Vice President from 20th Century Fox in March, 1987, after a nearly 45 year career. That's my mother to his right.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Taylor the Killer!

For the first time anywhere! Rare Lost Footage from my unfinished masterpiece, "Taylor the Killer," written, directed and starring....well....ME. Oh yeah, and my sister on camera.(by the way...this was a silent movie - all audio is new)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Sneak Preview!

I've transfered some of my earliest filmmaking footage to video - I'll be posting some clips over the next few days. In the meantime, here are a few fun shots - my first movie camera, directing "Killer From Space," and starring in my first movie, "Taylor the Killer." (okay, so I thought "killer" sounded dramatic!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hookman...and Friends

In the search for a subject for my first movie, I looked around my bedroom for inspiration, and came upon a plastic representation of a a pirate's hooked hand (as in Captain Hook). Knowing little about such things as a plot, I immediately jumped into production and shot a series of scenes involving the menacing hook "peeking" menacingly around corners and behind objects. It was a hook in search of a movie - but it soon had to give way to my next attempt: "Taylor the Killer," starring ME. It's an epic I just discovered in my film archives - and features my first cinematographer in the guise of my sister! This time, I actually advanced a bit and shot some scenes! Stay tuned for the long-delayed world premiere....right here!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

I started making films when I was eleven years old, just after my family had moved to California. A couple of years previous to our move, my father had been given a gift of a FujiFilm Single-8mm camera. This was the short-lived Japanese answer to the super-8 movie format that was popular then. The camera was simple to use: a "point and shoot" camera without any extras. At 18 frames per second, the 50 foot roll of (silent) film ran for three minutes. FujiFilm had also given my father a box of film, developing included, so we were all set.

I used the camera a bit in New York before we moved, shooting some footage of my friends and my neighborhood, but hadn't yet begun to create movies with real stories. It wasn't until we arrived in Tarzana, California that I could begin my filmmaking advenure. Arriving at the beginning of July - I had a lot of time to burn - and a lot of opportunity to begin bonding with my first movie camera - and figure out just what moviemaking was all about...

Next: "Hookman"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Missing the Boat

I just caught up with last year's "Poseidon," a remake of the 1972 classic disaster movie, "The Poseidon Adventure." Now, the original wasn't the greatest motion picture of all time, by any measure, but it was a fun trip. The characters, though cardboardish and stereotypical in some ways, were at least distinct and fun to watch. This recent version takes itself way too seriously. The characters aren't fun at all - they're faceless clones of any number of more recent disaster / adventure films (ironically tracing their lineage back to the original Poseidon).

A year ago, I said the same thing here about The Bad News Bears - another case of a remake being a pale imitation of the original.

But the effects were cool.