The Movie People

A blog on films and filmmaking

Oscar – The most valuable $1 statue ever

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When producers are banned from the ceremonies, people are suing for likeness rights and Meryl Streep gets nominated – yet again, then you know it’s Oscar season.

Predicting the winners of the Academy Awards is a delicate and imprecise art, loosely based on how good the nominees actually are and firmly dictated by the current politics of the industry. For instance, it recently became fashionable in Hollywood to acknowledge that the rest of the world existed and therefore logical in the minds of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to give a major award to a foreign (as in not English-speaking) Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose. Interestingly, La Vie en Rose is arguably her poorest performance seeing her recent stunningly outshining turns in Public Enemies and Nine.

With seven hours to go until the start of the ceremony I’m probably going to be the latest Oscar reviewer to give my opinion and try predict that which I consider to be unpredictable. The Votes are in and counted. About 5 people in the entire world know the results; I’m not one of them. But just for fun:


When formatting this article, I wasn’t quite sure whether to put the most important section at the beginning or the end of the article. I’ve decided on here.

The nominations for best picture were unusual this year in the fact that we now have ten nominations to choose our winners from. They were also unusual because none of them really sucked that much. So we don’t have an overall clear winner.

First, the two suckers – A Serious Man and Precious. Not a chance. I can’t believe I’m hate mongering a Coen film, but those guys are leaving their fanbase in a pile of shit.

Up won’t win because it’s already going to win for Animation – although it deserves both awards. It was an incredibly good film and Inglourious Basterds isn’t going to win as Tarantino never wins and probably prefers not to as it makes him look more like the dark horse of the American film industry.

The Blind Side, although a good film pales in comparison to the marketing done by the two top dogs, as do District 9 and without a doubt An Education.

The two main contenders, I think everyone agrees on are Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Up in the Air could be a surprise win, but doubtful considering the amount of glitter being thrown around our main contenders. Anyway, who can contend with the top grossing film of all time?

In Hollywood it’s all about the money. In terms of quality as a film, The Hurt Locker kicks the shit out of Avatar. The holier-than-thou underlying environmentalist plotlines concealed in Avatars structure, but it’s blatant plagiarism of Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and of course the recent ‘South Park’ episode ‘Dances with Smurfs’ would be a prime example of why Avatar should fail miserably. But, it is the highest-grossing film of all time, aw so we kinda have to recognise that. Hell, if Paris Hiltons much hated Hottie and the Nottie became a top grosser, you probably would’ve seen that damn thing get a nom.

I decided that if Avatar were to win Best Picture, then Best Director should go to The Hurt Locker. My reasons for the winner of Director are further on. All I’ll say here is that Avatar wins Best Picture.


I hate to say this, I really do; but the retard card always wins. Kirk Lazarus is so right – Tom Hanks with Forrest Gump, Dustin Hoffman with Rainman, Sean Penn as Sam. It’s Sandra Bullock sure-fire winner for actress this year. But she was good, really good – and consider that if I was to resort to serial-killing, she’d be the first to because she’s so damn annoying. I actually liked her in The Blind Side and that’s one thing I don’t think I’ll ever say about Sandra Bullock again. Of course there are more deserving nominations, like the awe-inspiring I’m-not-just-a-pretty-face-I-can-actually-act-better-than-any-woman-alive Carey Mulligan, but I won’t go into the stupid reasons why she or any of An Educations nominations won’t win, not quite being in the rant mood quite yet.

As for Actor, Jeff Bridges. I think that’s a definite, there was probably a leak somewhere. Plus I don’t want to hear another smug little speech about how ‘forward’ Hollywoodaryans are from George Clooney. And I love Jeff Bridges, he’s the Dude and I’ll model my hairstyle on him until I go bald.


Everybody seems to somehow believe that Christoph Waltz will walk with this. Everybody, that is except me. He wasn’t a bad act, but come on – has nobody seen Matt Damon in Invictus which has been the most ignored piece of brilliance in the awards this year? I can understand people being sick of Eastwood films winning all the time, but it’s hard, because they’re so damn good! Or maybe the Academy will want to live up to the ‘forward’ status Clooney imposed on them when he won his Oscar and elect at least one foreigner to win. But I don’t think brilliance should be ignored.

Waltz to win, but I want it to be Damon.

I have a huge problem with the supporting actress nominations. It just so happens that I loved every single performance which was nominated equally. I can’t see a harder list to choose from. I think though that Anna Kendrick should win because she’ll probably never get nominated again and she was really really good.

Mo’Nique to win though. Even though it’s entirely political and Oprah-driven. She does deserve it, but I think just a little bit less than Anna Kendrick.


Now, readers are indubitably aware that I am not a huge Tarantino fan. But unfortunately, there are rare exceptions to the rule that everything I dislike sucks. Quentin happens to be one of these exceptions in Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Inglourious Basterds. It’s not an overly bad film, but unlike Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, Quentin does not deserve the Best Directer gong for this particular outing.

Jason Reitman made a good film, but the chances of his film winning in any category bar one has a startling echo of the films title in it.

Lee Daniels, like Reitman hasn’t got a rats chance of winning the Best Director. If the surprise came and he did win for the appalling cringe-fest he directed which was only successful because a certain overweight woman who’s exceptionally talented at selling literature and (ironically) weight-loss programmes jumped on the bandwagon.

Of course, the huge favourite with the punters is Avatar. Avatar this and Avatar that. James Cameron, god of the Terminator nerds, creator of Titanic – the primary reason girls have unrealistic expectations of guys and now Avatar. If James Cameron wins for directing Avatar (and I don’t believe he did, I think that credit should go to exceptionally talented computer geeks who know their CGI shit like a virgin teenager knows his cock) then it should not win Best Picture. Whatever happens, if that film wins both awards, I will get sick – partially because I have a rather large (possibly bankrupting) bet on it. Plus, James Cameron doesn’t deserve to get Best Director anyway, not above the true clear and decisive winner in this years nominations:

Idiots will talk about how progressive and great it is that one of the glass ceilings of the Oscars may finally be broken this year. I’ve already read many articles to that respect. I think that’s bullcrap. If a woman happens to get nominated for Best Director, there’s always this stupid buzz about how progressive it would be for her to win, case in point – Sofia Coppola and her uninspired, forgettable and totally pretentious Lost in Translation. Of course, she didn’t have a chance – Peter Jackson owned that night. Kathryn Bigelow should win Best Director, not because she’s a woman (which is the reason she’s going to win), but because she made one of the most kick-ass tense films of the year. The Hurt Locker blows you away, the film is stunning to watch even if it does have plot holes and goofs everywhere and which way. Plus it doesn’t need 3-D to make you think you’re watching pure gold.

My penny’s on Katheryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.


For original screenplay, I want to see Tarantino win. I really really do. And most people are saying he will. Unfortunately, he’s up against Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker, which is a marvellous read. If the Coens win for what I would argue as their worst script yet (and I have always been accused of being a Coen worshipper) I won’t be happy. Partially because it will encourage them to keep on making steadily worse films. They need to be given a kick in the ass and put back to making Blood Simple, Big Lebowski, Hudsucker Proxy and Fargo –like works of genius.

So Tarantino is my bet. But it’s a close call.

As for Adapted Screeplays, my mind is utterly divided. Up in the Air is a great script, a real treat to read. But I prefer An Education. But then again, I love Nick Hornby. What to do?

I would say, given the way in which Sony Picture Classics (the basterds) publicised the incredibly poignant, witty and probably best film of the year which continues to be under-appreciated the likelihood that we’ll see a winner in An Education is rather slim.

So, Up in the Air by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.


Up. What the hell else do you think it’s gonna be? That ridiculous pile of horse manure that came from my native land The Secret of Kells?


I like Micheal Haneke, his two versions of Funny Games were awe-inspiring and The White Ribbon (Das weisse Bande) is an excellent film. I see competition from The Prophet (Un Prophète), because it was damn good too. But from the rumblings in the interior, I’m gonna strike out The Prophet and give Haneke a guaranteed win with The White Ribbon.


Having a special interest in music and not being tone deaf I, unlike most predictors,
gander a guess at the music categories.

For song, I think it’s a no-brainer. Crazy Heart wins. ‘The Weary Kind’ is a nice humming song and I’ve found myself doing closed-mouth renditions since seeing this film in the most awkward of situations.

I’m going to rant a little bit about score, because I haven’t ranted enough and I’m famous for that if nothing else. Composers have gotten lazy. Scores have ceased to be memorable, turning into babbling harmonics accompanying visual effects. A real true and proper score should be able to stand alone and tell the story itself. It should be timeless and alive, a work of pure musical ability. In the past number of years, it seems that composers have decided to take the anything will do approach and the best score nominations end up being the best out of a bad bunch.

Look at the 5 nominations and try to remember a single chord sequence from them. Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, Sherlock Holmes and Up. Their scores are not memorable and compared to those of the past – complete crap.

Superman, Chariots of Fire, Star Wars, E.T., Oh Brother, Where Art ThouLord of the Rings – those are scores. Why don’t the composers strive to create excellence such as this?

My pick is Avatar, because even though it’s been 2 months since I saw it I have a vague recollection of a plagal interval somewhere between the point at which the animated thing looks at the flying dragon and jumps on its back.

And I know I can get a bit bogged down in my ranting so, winners in summary:

Best Picture – Avatar
Actor – Jeff Bridges
Actress – Sandra Bullock
Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz
Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique
Director – Katheryn Bigelow
Adapted Screenplay – Up in the Air
Original Screenplay – Inglourious Basterds
Animated Feature – Up
Foreign Picture – The White Ribbon
Song – Crazy Heart
– Avatar


A Global Travesty

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Best Motion Picture – Drama

Five nominations, The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up in the Air.

Okay, one didn’t really expect Basterds to win and Precious was a long shot by anybody’s standards. The three front runners to this were The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air and Avatar.

Up in the Air, starring George Clooney was a reasonably original film. Witty, interesting and with a little bit too much product placement for my liking. But it wasn’t a bad film, performances were very strong, story structure and arc was perfect, the script was flawless and it was overall, an excellent film – something I could watch a second time. In fact, I already have.

The Hurt Locker. Tense. Every minute was accompanied by bated breath. I never usually look for mistakes in films, but I noticed a bit too many in this one – making it rather sloppy in its production. That aside, this was an extremely watchable film. In fact, taking into consideration my general dislike for the war genre, this was an exceptionally good film. The acting was good, characters were genuine and the story was tense, extremely tense. Although maybe not my choice, a number of people I talked to in the run up to the Globes were convinced a gong would be going to this heart stopper.

Avatar‘s main selling point was 3D. In fact, to watch the film in 2D is to just watch a special effects extravaganza unveil in front of your eyes. Watching it in 3D makes it a spectacle, but it isn’t by any means a ground-breaking work of artistic genius. It is basically this years Dark Knight – the well publicised and marketed film which makes people jump on the bandwagon. The film which people love because of the glittery lights surrounding it. But sooner rather than later, the lights will fade and Avatar will drown into a sea of obscurity.

The characters were sloppy in their development. The story arc was simplistic and had no real merit – it was a single layer storyline with nothing to cast a three dimensional aspect onto any feature of the film. The characters, story and development were all flat. In fact, probably the only thing in the film with any depth (albeit the illusion of depth) was the 3D effect.

Avatar, winning the Golden Globe for Best Drama, was a travesty when Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker were contenders against it in the nominees list.

As for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture, although I would’ve much rather seen (500) Days of Summer clinch the prize, The Hangover very deservedly took home the award. An exceptionally watchable, well made and funny film. And seeing as the Oscars will probably ignore it, there is consolation that it won a Globe.

My next bone to pick with the Golden Globes results is no doubt the winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

The nominees being Matt Damon (The Informant), Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Daniel Day-Lewis (Nine), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer) and Micheal Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man).

First of all, Sherlock Holmes is not a comedy. Probably two laugh out loud moments in the entire film (a lot more in the “Drama” Up in the Air). It is also a sloppy, badly-written, poorly acted and overall diversely bad film. Robert Downey Jr. was tasked with playing Sherlock Holmes – one of the iconic figures of English Literature, a character about whom countless stories, books, films and even games have been published about. One of the most three dimensional characters in the history of writing. Also, with the wealth of information available about Sherlock, probably one of the easiest to perform.

Robert Downey Jr. is an actor I respect, who does deserve an award for past performances. But to give him an award for this travesty of a performance is just wrong, especially considering one of the contenders was Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gave a second-to-none exceptional performance in the (most importantly) comedy 500 Days of Summer.

It’s as if some idiot decided to give one of those token British wins to the token British nominee, even if the actor is American. Stupid. Awards should be about quality, and nowhere in Downeys portrayal of Holmes does quality prevail.

Next is the Best Supporting Actor. The winner? Christoph Waltz. Yeah, he was good. Pretty good. But watch him against Matt Damon in Invictus. There is absolutely no comparison. Matt Damon gives a far superior performance.

Also, given the fact that Damon, an American, had to put on an Afrikaans accent (and everyone knows that the Americans are the worst people in the world for botching up accents) and did it reasonably well. Compare that to Waltz, an Austrian having to put on the accent of well… an Austrian with a tinge of French.

There is no world where Mo’Nique deserves an award for acting. And her winning the Best Performance of a Supporting Actress when contending against Panélope Cruz, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga is an adequate reminder of how much of a travesty this years Golden Globes are.

Again, Avatar scoops a gong with Best Director going to James Cameron. The contenders? Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Clint Eastwood (Invictus), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) and Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds). Even Quentin deserved a win over Cameron, which is saying something – considering what a boring mess Inglourious Basterds was.

Also, in what world does anybody beat Clint Eastwood? Like, the guy is the god of directing. And not considering Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker is also an incredible mistake. Like, fair enough, Clint has been recognised multiple times, but Bigelow deserves recognition for her contribution to cinema. Why not give her the prize? Hell, they’ve even got the second excuse for becoming diverse in the awards and recognising female directors. It’s a no-brainer, unless they were worried the haggard looking Mel Gibson would mispronounce her name.

In short, the Golden Globes results for the most part are an absolute travesty and a serious lapse in judgement for the film community.

Written by Sharkey

January 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm

A Great Two Tools

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I have been sorely lacking in my contributions to this blog in the recent while. This has been due to a serious dose of an ailment which was not Swine Flu, as the aforementioned virus does not exist and is simply a pseudonym for influenza, a virus which kills which drug and sanitary companies want to make an extra buck on by making it appear to be a brand new epidemic.

It has been a busy week for two applications which I regularly use. An email I got earlier today told me about a feature in one of my favourite storage service of which I wasn’t aware. Last week, my favourite scriptwriting application underwent a major update. Quite a busy week for testing, not that I got much done.

Firstly, plugging Dropbox will be the topic of the first part of this post.

Dropbox is free. Well, it’s almost free. It’s free for 2GB (that’s Gigabytes and I’m not going to go into bits) of storage. You can get up to a maximum of another 3GB of storage by referring friends to Dropbox (referring link for me – if you are getting it, use that link, I’ll get 250MB extra and so will you!). Now, 2GB is nice enough for any writer – you’re not going to have a hope of filling it up with all your scripts or novels unless you use one hell of a revisioning system.

Did I mention revisioning systems? YES?! OMG, like oh my God, cross my heart ladies! Delete SVN, cause you don’t need it anymore. As long as your internet connection is active, anything in the specially assigned Dropbox folder on your computer will sync with a Dropbox server under your account and password somewhere random in the world where natural disasters don’t happen. As long as your Dropbox has synced with your account online, the files in your Dropbox folder are safe no matter what happens to your computer (all I can say is, like Harrison Ford, never trust a one-armed man with your precious goods).

Not only that, but Dropbox revisions! Revisions? REVISIONS!!! Everytime you upload a file of the same name onto your Dropbox, it backs up the previous version allowing you to download previous versions of your Dropbox file if you do something stupid in the present version!

So, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “why don’t I save my file to my Dropbox folder and then, every time my editor auto-saves or I save manually, my work is automatically uploaded onto a off-site server over the internet and kept safe, plus I can make a mistake, like saving after completely erasing the document and still go back to what I had before!”

Now, Dropbox also has another feature of which I was made recently aware. It is possible to share files with other, specified Dropbox account holders. So, if you’re collaborating on a script, when your partner edits the file, you can get the new file instantly! Isn’t that great?

Now, enough plugging of Dropbox for the moment. Moving onto the divinely incredible, free and easy-to-use Celtx.

Celtx writes scripts. No bullshit. Scripts – that is screenplays, stageplays, A/V scripts, radioplays and comic book scripts. It also happens to have a storyboard feature, a scheduler and an all around kick-ass pre-production management feature, which handles everything from shot lists and time sheets to prop lists and crew management. Plus a pretty neat plug-in facility.

Now, they’re just the bog-standard features. They were all in the previous version. But last week, Celtx brought out version 2.5.

And it’s awesome.

The thing about Celtx developers is that they never do things in halves. When there’s a major update, which happens on average about twice a year, it’s not just stupid bug changes and extra support for random symbology nobody uses or cares about. They have double point releases for that (like 2.5.1). No, when a major release of Celtx comes out, it’s guaranteed to have a swanky, extravagantly amazing new feature, if not a number of them. And 2.5 is no different.

Best on the list is Revision mode. I’m not sure yet if it’s SVN, but you can now create a repository for your celtx script file which will allow you to go back in time as it revisions everything you need it to.

Then, there’s Celtx chat. A highly requested feature for the last year. It’s a tiny bit buggy and not too cosmetically pleasing, but it’s functional to chat to your Celtx collaborators. It will need some slight improvement though.

Sketch is their, in my opinion strongest new tool. Scene layout planning and camera setup is basically Sketch’s function. There is a small artwork package included with the program and there are add-on packages available for a very reasonable price on the Celtx website. These have more artwork for props and the like. Sketch is extremely easy to get used to as shown by my quick sketch. Two minutes.

Overall, the release is very nice and perfectly functional. Obviously there may be a few bugs that need ironing out, but don’t worry, they will be. And when they are, you just download the latest version because the best thing about the Celtx program itself is that it’s free! Quite simply, perfectly and without any other way of saying it, free.

Yes, there are a few extras like Celtx Studios and the Art Packs for Sketch that are paid for, but the prices are negligible and the extras are optional – they simply enhance the totally free, easy to use scriptwriting and pre-production tool that is Celtx.

Why not try sticking your working .celtx file into your Dropbox folder? Now look at why I love this combination so very much. Revisioning on two counts, powerful local revisioning with colour coded changes and off-site server revisioning with Dropbox allowing for timely backups of the file.

Incredible combination, isn’t it?

Now, get writing.

Written by Sharkey

November 16, 2009 at 9:00 am

Staring Up the Mountain

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By David Shute

There’s a conceit that I’m smitten with that I typically only see in filmmaking. It could be in other disciplines as well, simply, where I’m exposed to it happens to be in filmmaking. It’s quite pervasive.

“I have X amount of money. What would you suggest I buy so I can make Y movie?”

Or even more tragically popular.

“I need to spend X amount of dollars or have this equipment to make a movie.”

Both of these are typically uttered by those who have not shot anything prior. They’ve decided that they want to take a crack at filmmaking. They’ve done some cursory research and are now on to asking for advice from random people on Internet forums.

You don’t go out and buy a kid a vintage Les Paul when they express interest in learning to play guitar. Why would you? There are beginner packages that are as low as a couple hundred dollars. These packages don’t contain brilliant equipment. They don’t need to. There is an even chance that kid is going to get bored soon and stuff it in the closet anyway. Even if they don’t it’s going to take awhile for them to acquire the skill to make owning a well crafted guitar worth the expense.

I speak from a decade of crippling experience, there is no quicker way to defeat yourself than spending your time staring up the mountain. We’re looking up at the peak, the near insurmountable task ahead of us, as we dream of fantastic films that show well at festivals and lead us further on in our goals. What we need is rarely, if ever, external. It’s far too easy to put the pressure of our requirements on external items.

This isn’t a syndrome for fledgling filmmakers either. I’ve witnessed individuals with some promise and the ability to sweet talk a budget shoot on a RED ONE. Not because they needed it but because they could. They shot a feature length movie on a rented RED ONE. Not cheap by any means.

If, perhaps, they were shooting this with festivals in mind it would be a brilliant strategy. Just the words RED ONE would probably be enough to get the film in to any number of festivals. Instead they were shooting for DVD. A RED ONE is not a prerequisite for shooting a feature for DVD. Or even BluRay. I have yet to see the film but a big part of me is screaming overkill. I’m nearly positive the quality of the film could have been improved by funnelling some of the rental money in to actors or set design or just being able to have more days to shoot.

The remedy is that we need to stop looking at the peak and spending some time aiming for easy places to rest along the way. More so true if you have not shot anything before. How can you possibly know that you need to spend $10,000 on equipment just to get up and running. That’s a low number. I could spend that on a camera alone and still be pretty far off of my ideal gear.

Stop thinking, stop waiting, and start doing. Look around at what you have and what you have access to for free and use that. You’re already dumping your time, talent, and heart in to a project. There’s no need to dump your wallet in there too. The first film virtually never turns out well anyway. Expensive lessons are hard ones to swallow.

One of the most admirable qualities of children is their willingness to explore. They don’t plan or research. They just do. They learn in the doing. They may make a lot of mistakes in just doing but they typically learn quickly from those mistakes because it’s play. As soon as it stops being fun they stop doing it. That should be a mantra for making film. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then perhaps you’re not doing the right thing.

“I need this to be the best movie I can make it.”

Then go ahead and make it the best movie that you can but actually make it. Don’t spend all your time waiting for the perfect equipment to come around. If you make a film and then continue to make more the equipment will inevitably come. When that happens, even with all the work you’ve done, you’ll realise that you still have a lot to learn. If you desperately want to make a movie then a point and shoot digital camera that records video and free software will be more than enough to help you get started. Hell, a cellphone with video capabilities would suffice.

Written by Nick Taylor

November 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

On Horror

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By Quito Washington

I had a chance this week to see Saw IV and The Final Destination
almost back to back. Not being a fan of horror movies, I thought it
would be interesting to go in feet first and see what Hollywood had to
offer to scare me this Halloween. Now, keep in mind that I do not
watch torture porn films (Saw, Hostel, etc.). Any film where the
actual pain is drawn out to be more important than who is in pain or
who is dealing the pain is not for me. This made the company I was
with even more interested in seeing how I would react.
I found the two films to be very different in how they attempted to
encourage a sense of fear and dread. SAW IV was the clear winner in
that it had more moments of “something bad is going to happen” and
even though limited, you did care for the characters in the
situations. The Final Destination lost all of that and left me
thinking “okay, so I know they are going to die, bring it on and hurry
up”. There was just no interest in the film’s characters because there
was no reason for them to live. Which brings to mind the single
compelling reason that people enjoy a film…the hero has a reason to
Even anti-heros give you a reason to care about them and wanting them
to live. Without that, the audience is just spinning its wheels
waiting for the next big action scene. The writer has to know how to
engage the audience with not just what the hero wants, but why they
want it, why it’s so important and why there won’t be any other time
to get it. Once the hero accepts this, he commits to this, there is no
turning back. Now, with The Final Destination there is no reason for
the hero to live and admittedly, he is going to die sometime, right?
So without a reason for us to want him to live, there is no investment
on our part to care if he survives. With SAW IV, I had an investment
because the female cop, well, I liked her. I wanted her to live and
knowing she was on the chopping block brought suspense to the film.
Would she figure out the killer before being killed? That is suspense.
So, if you want to engage people like myself that don’t normally enjoy
horror films for the gore and torture, remember to have a solid back
story that involves a hero that we can identify with and a goal that
we can appreciate.

Quito Washington

Listen to me talk about film on Popcorn Cinema
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Written by Guest

November 2, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Hollywood Economist

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In my local cinema, prices are relatively similar to most other theatres around the world:

  • Adult (after 5pm Mon-Fri, all day Sat-Sun) €10.40 (US$15.39/GB£9.38)
  • Adult (before 5pm Mon-Fri) €8.30 (US$12.28/GB£7.48)
  • Student (after 5pm Mon-Fri, all day Sat-Sun) €8.30 (US$12.28/GB£7.48)
  • Student (before 5pm Mon-Fri) €7.00 (US$10.36/GB£6.31)

An argument I came across recently stipulated that there was a problem with the pricing system of films at cinemas. The writer of the article had a short article about the economics of film and how the investment by the viewer was not indicative of the quality of the film.

In economics terms, this would be called a luxury or snob good, where the difference in price is not proportional to the amount of pleasure derived from the good.

To take a simple example in terms of film, you can go to see two films “The Hottie and the Nottie” or “Finding Nemo“. The admission price is the same to both films, however, since “The Hottie and the Nottie” is arguably one of the worst films ever made and “Finding Nemo” is possibly one of the most touching and entertaining child orientated productions of all time, watching “Nemo” will give you greater pleasure. You will feel more like the money you spent was worth it and probably get that warm fuzzy feeling inside that those two hours in that darkened room were 80% more significant than all the other hours that you will spend on this miserable little rock 150 million kilometres away from the most significant visible thing that happens to be the most important thing in your existence.

So, where is your value for money? In most other economic situations, the price of the good is proportional to the pleasure derived from that good. However, when it comes to film, the amount of cash that leaves your pocket does not guarantee an amount of pleasure. The only other place I’ve seen this is a date that didn’t involve at least some sort of non-penetrative sex.

The writer of the aforementioned article argued that prices should differ depending on the film which was being shown. Seeing that renting reels is more expensive when it comes to high-demand films, this sort of practise may seem like good sense.

But I happen to disagree.

Firstly, what about independent, low budget productions? The general public will assume that the more expensive films to attend because of their demand (which is directly proportional to their advertising awareness campaigns) are better films because more people are watching them. If this was the case, directors such as Robert Rodriguez would probably be dead in the gutter from Pfizer experiments after a spectacularly failing “El Mariachi“.

Imagine an uneducated couple, who are unfortunately the staple of the film industry’s diet, walking into a cinema. “Reservoir Dogs“, debut film of unknown director Quentin Tarantino starring several B-List actors is showing for $5 per ticket. Then, in glossy poster writing, the most overrated film of the year “The Dark Knight” advertises ticket prices at $14. Now, like all good dates (unless of course this is simply a trip to a darkened room for some ‘alone’ time) the payer wants the impress the partner. So, at $28 they watch a popcorn flick which, although impressive in spectacle, is simply a piece of overrated fluff worth about $7. Quentin Tarantino is ignored as no money is made because nobody cares about a stupid B-Movie and we have suddenly lost an entire sub-genre. Tragic.

I have paid almost $18 to have the privilege of seeing, in a theatre, the 70mm reel of Stanley Kubrick’s epic “2001:A Space Odyssey“. There is no reputable Top Ten Greatest Films Ever Made list in existence which does not feature this timeless classic. Yet, if it came out under the same circumstances in a variable price market, you would see the prices falling fast.

Right now, if you as an uneducated pleb, walk into a cinema there are six factors which influence your choice of film; when it’s on, the genre, how long it is, does the title sound interesting, who’s in it and is the poster pretty.

Yeah, it’s not the most precise list and has no indication to the quality of the film. It means that films like “The Hottie and the Nottie” will make money because the charge pretty much guarantees a profit. It also means that people rely much more on word of mouth because it’s not that easy to guess what’s good and what isn’t. As a film buff, think about how many times people turn to you and ask you whether this film or that film is any good.

The funny thing about the current economy of film is that, although it’s a rip off and prices are exponentially high, it’s a fairly accurate method of making sure that the good films make it up to the top because it encourages word of mouth.

Like, how many of you would go see a film with a title like “No Country for Old Men“, “Terms of Endearment“, “Dances with Wolves“, “Schindler’s List” or “The English Patient“? Like, aren’t they the most boring film titles of all time? I definitely wouldn’t go to see any of those films based on their titles alone and I doubt anyone would.

They all won Best Picture at the Oscars though.

Written by Sharkey

October 30, 2009 at 8:00 am

Posted in Essays

iPhone users, take note.

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Hey guys, sorry for the lack of articles lately.   If any of you are filmmakers or film lovers, and would like to write an article, please email me and let me know.  Thanks!

Anyhow, since I don’t have an article, I wanted to plug another blog that caters specifically to iPhone filmmaking apps.  They’re called Hand Held Hollywood, and they seek out all those neat apps that you just don’t have time to find.

Until next week!  Remember, we’re looking for articles!

Written by Nick Taylor

October 23, 2009 at 7:25 pm