Sunday, July 31, 2005

Indy Film: YOINK'D!

Yoink'd is a very short movie created for the first-ever film festival. This was a very quick project. It took about one day to build the set and props, two days to film and animate, and a day for post-production.

The entire film was shot with a digital still camera, with plenty of resolution to encode the movie in high definition format. In retrospect, I would have composed tighter shots so that you can see the characters' expressions better in the low-res version of the movie.



See the new 3d animated Laika MOONGIRL preview by Henry Selick.



“Less is almost always more in screenplays.

Writing the "chateaubriand" of a scene is the name of the game, then cut away to the next fillet. Fat is a no no, a bit of gristle should be carefully doled out. Screenwriters who know realize this and usually employ this philosophy and profit from it. But there are a ton of scripts out there that are suffering from too much weight.

Their stories are encumbered by so much rhetoric that it's hard to find the spine. If you can't find the spine, you can't find the story and that's bad news.”


Unconventional filmmaker Jarmusch turns to suburbia

Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, known as a cinematic risk-taker, is now taking chances in an unexpected way -- by flirting with the mainstream in his latest movie, "Broken Flowers."

Countering its swerve toward conventionality by maintaining an eccentric beat and sensibility, the film by writer-director Jarmusch won the Grand Prix prize at the Cannes Film Festival and begins playing in U.S. theaters on Aug. 5.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Graphic Novels in Europe

The graphic novel craze is taking over the world and some of the hottest properties are on the European scene.

In an ironic twist, Marvel’s mad rush to the box office may mean that the lowly comicbook, known as the “graphic novel” in Europe, may finally get the respect it’s due and a legitimate place among the high arts. Especially if the American interpretation of “graphic novel” (i.e., sophisticated, adult-oriented) sees the dark of day.

Meanwhile, back on the shelves... European “national treasures” are making their way to the big screen, too.


Getting Personal

Most of the articles we share have to do with the techniques of screenwriting, marketing, and related areas. We rarely get personal about ourselves, but I wanted to tell you something about my own creative journey and perhaps we can relate.

At one time I represented talent for a living. I was an agent at what is now ICM, one of the three biggest agencies in the world. My job was to get clients of the agency on TV and to "discover" new talent. The agency represented people like Barbra Streisand, Richard Pryor, Jodie Foster, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli--the list goes on and on.

I represented them as well and signed many great talents such as George Carlin, the rock group Spanky & our Gang, and also production organizations through which we "packaged" TV shows. I lived for my clients and derived great pleasure and profit from their successes.


Graphic Novels Go Hollywood

Graphic novels are leaping from comic shops and bookstore shelves to big screens across North America and beyond.

It seems you can’t read a movie listing these days without coming across a film inspired by comicbooks or graphic novels — from superhero action (Fantastic Four, Batman Begins) to film noir (Frank Miller’s Sin City) to crime drama (Road to Perdition) to edgy slice-of-life commentary (Ghost World, American Splendor) and more.


Friday, July 29, 2005


Michael Bay freely admits that he broke a few longstanding rules while making The Island for a new studio, DreamWorks, after years partnering with Jerry Bruckheimer at Disney. Among those rules: Never show an unfinished film to studio executives without an audience present, and never screen parts of the movie for the press before it's finalized.


33 Ways to Break Into Hollywood

Hollywood is a tightly guarded community with an intricate system designed to keep you out. If you've tried to sell a script, you know that. Some people have spent decades trying to get their script read by key Hollywood players and failed.

If you want to make it in this business, you need more ways to break-in than they have to keep you out.


Video Production for Streaming

From lighting to camera work to video resolution, there's plenty you can do to make sure that your encoding team has the best possible footage to work with.

When discussing the best ways to ensure a high-quality streaming broadcast, most of the attention centers on the encoding stage of the overall video production process. But there’s only so much encoding can do when the video that the encoder is ingesting isn’t quite ready for primetime. Here’s a look into what can be done prior to encoding to set the stage for a successful Webcast event.


The Future of Content Delivery Networks

How are CDNs working to differentiate their services from their competitors in the face of the increasing commoditization of bandwidth?

Because of the massive amount of bandwidth available, CDNs’ improvements in efficiency and penchant for selling it freely (or at least cheaply), and the increasing use of online media across all industries, bandwidth itself has become a commodity.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Killing Spree and Dirty Cop, No Donut director Tim Ritter

Independent movie director Tim Ritter has a love for stories and movies.

The three movies that probably inspired him the most to want to make films were JAWS, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, and HALLOWEEN. But he always loved escapism and when he wasn't enjoying some form of it, he was creating it with pen and paper, super-8 film, and later video!


The Ten Rules Of Writing Comedy

#1: Like shooting free throws or skiing on one leg, writing is a mind/body activity that demands an enormous commitment to practice. If you don't want to put in the time, become an actor.

#2: As Martin Mull once said, the only thing you need to be a comedy writer is to remember every person you ever met and to have no respect for any of them.

#3: The best piece of advice I ever got about comedy scriptwriting: the story happens in the middle of the room and comedy happens in the corners.


Print to DVD

Have you noticed that DVDs are a lot harder to record than tape, particularly from an editing timeline on a personal computer?

On an average video recorder, they make you press a record button, sometimes a record button and a forward button together. That’s it. You're recording!

Aren’t computers supposed to simplify routine tasks, getting rid of all unnecessary tasks under a slick ease-of-use interface in the name of positive user experience? So why does popular nonlinear software feature a “Print to Video” command but no “Print to DVD”?


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Netflix ready to launch movie downloads

How FILM Distribution is changing...

Netflix is poised to test its long-awaited Internet movie download service, which would broaden its rental business beyond its current DVDs-by-mail offering and fulfill the promise of its name.

Well-placed industry sources confirmed that the Los Gatos company is close to launching an on-demand rental service that is paired with a Netflix-provided television set-top box.


From Wonder Woman to Principal Powers

There's nothing like the memory of "Wonder Woman's" tiara, bustier and knee-high red boots to reduce a grown man to awkwardly embarrassing behavior.

Mike Mitchell admits to having a crush on Lynda Carter, whom he directed in the Disney family film "Sky High."

"There was a lot of hero worship going on. I'm a big Wonder Woman fan. I think she has a restraining order against me now 'cause I was directing her and stalking her at the same time."



Q: How many Executive Producers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Executive Producers don't screw in a light bulb, they screw in a hot tub.

Q: How many D.P.s does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One. No, two. No.... How many do we have on the truck?

Q: How many art directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Does it have to be a light bulb? I've got this neat candle holder...

Q: How many Studio Executives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: We don't know. Light bulbs last longer than studio executives.


SITA Sings the Blues

A new twist on an old Indian myth by animator Nina Paley.

For those who have seen FETCH and some of Nina's other works, Indian mythology and song and dance is brought to life with animation and 1920's recordings in a marvelous series that begins with Dandaka Dharma.



"The King of Daredevil Comedy," Harold Lloyd is best remembered today as the young man dangling desperately from a clock tower in the 1923 classic Safety Last. At the height of his career, Lloyd was one of the most popular and highest-paid stars of his time.

While his achievements have been overshadowed by the work of contemporaries Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, he made more films than the two of them combined. With hits like his 1922 film Grandma’s Boy, Lloyd became a strong force in bringing about the advent of the "feature-length" film.


Making a Living Turning Comics to Film

Imaginary Forces has been a go to place lately when turning comicbook properties into feature films. I.F. believes that every project has a storytelling aspect and that its new DC Comic logo re-design is a perfect example of this philosophy.

Go to a movie, a basketball game, Times Square in New York, a casino in Las Vegas or even just watching television at home, chances are you’ve seen the work of design and marketing company, Imaginary Forces. I.F. has distinguished itself as a true visionary in the industry by stretching its resources and has continually challenging its artists recently by delving into high profile comic-related projects.



MUNICH is an historical thriller set in the aftermath of the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Universal Pictures will release the film directed by Steven Spielberg in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 23, 2005; DreamWorks Pictures will handle international marketing and distribution.

MUNICH recounts the dramatic story of the secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and assassinate 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the 1972 Munich massacre — and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team and the man who led it. Eric Bana (TROY) stars as the Mossad agent charged with leading the band of specialists brought together for this operation.


Out of Our Minds Gains Funding For Feature Toon

Out of Our Minds Animation Studios has landed nearly $2 million in funding from private investors for production of its first feature-length animated film, reports THE BUSINESS JOURNAL.

The funding, represents nearly all the total project budget of $3.5 million, will allow the Winston-Salem, North Carolina studio to begin production in March as the company expands from 10 employees to 16 employees by next month.


Monday, July 25, 2005

First Annual Science Fiction Short Film Festival Launched

The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (SFM) in partnership with the Seattle International Film Festival Group (SIFF), announced the launch of the first-annual Science Fiction Short Film Festival, to promote and encourage awareness, appreciation and understanding of the art of science fiction cinema.

Beginning July 20, 2005, through November 1, 2005, the Science Fiction Short Film Festival will accept short film submissions, up to 12 minutes in length, that have been produced after 2001 for entry into the competition. Multiple submissions will be accepted according to the entry form rules and regulations found at or


Horror movies face bloodbath at box office

The scariest thing these days about horror movies is the state of their box office grosses.

Since May 6, when "House of Wax" was released, five horror films have been unveiled -- and they have consistently under-performed. Warner Bros. Pictures' much-hyped "Wax" remake sold a modest $32.1 million worth of tickets, zombiefest "George A. Romero's Land of the Dead" stumbled with a meager $20.3 million, Asian horror remake "Dark Water" grossed a murky $23.1 million, and French import "High Tension" yielded a limp $3.6 million.


Sunday, July 24, 2005


I guess like most want to be actors, I was struck at an early age with the desire to tell stories on screen. I was a somewhat shy kid and the make believe world provided an easy release. STAR WARS is what started it all out in 1977. I wanted to be Han Solo more than anything in this world.

Soon after that, MAD MAX created another role model for me and I have to say that those two actors (Ford & Gibson) along with the likes of Kurt Russell made up my childhood actors. Not a bad choice for a youngster and another note was that Tom Hanks was my favorite comedic tv actor.

I use to make little camcorder movies in High School in place of book reports and final exams.


FX-man turned director-Joe Castro

When I was 7, my father sat me down in front of the t.v. one Saturday afternoon and told me to watch "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster".

It was the first sci-fi horror movie I had ever seen.

When it was over I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up.



There have been many successful movies made from great novels and many misfires as well. My personal favorite book-to-film translation is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

As a big fan of the book and of Kubrick’s take on it as well, this is one horror adaptation that really divides the fans. Even Stephen King himself dissed Kubrick’s vision of his own novel when it came out in 1980 (King even had his novel remade into a television miniseries in 1997).

But nothing stopped the box office take from climbing to $80 million plus in the U.S. alone when Kubrick’s film was originally released…


Tim Ritter: In His Own Words

The history of filmmaker Tim Ritter and his company, Twisted Illusions, Inc. began in 1975. At the age of eight, Tim participated in a couple of super-8 movies made by my neighbor, Joel Wynkoop.

Tim acted in one of his flicks that was called THE BIONIC BOY.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Video Games Need Female Touch

Tara Teich enjoys nothing more than slipping into the role of a female video game character. But the 26-year-old software programmer gets annoyed by the appearance of such digital alter egos as the busty tomb raider Lara Croft or the belly-baring Wu the Lotus Blossom of "Jade Empire."

Don't even get her started on the thong-bikini babes that the male gunmen win as prizes in "Grand Theft Auto," which was sent to stores with hidden sex scenes left embedded on the discs by programmers. Rockstar Games belatedly took responsibility for the scenes this week after the industry's ratings board re-rated the game "Adults Only."

"I wish they were wearing more clothes," says Teich, a lifelong game enthusiast who now helps create games. Why, she asks, must women in video games always look like Las Vegas show girls?


Up Against Amanda

For most of the last century, motion pictures have dominated the entertainment landscape as the most popular and powerful form of escapism for millions of ticket buyers. Only recently, specifically with the breakthrough digital production of Star Wars: The Clone Wars by superstar filmmaker George Lucas, has the technology of movie-making changed significantly. With Lucas's seismic shift of preference in acquisition mediums from film to digital, the status quo in Hollywood has changed.

Nowadays, the means of production is growing increasingly affordable at a level unheard of even a decade ago. In other words, getting a movie made no longer depends strictly on getting the green light from a major studio, but more so on the commercial viability of the proposed project.


Killing with Comedy

An Interview with Wayne Alan Harold

Wayne Alan Harold is a filmmaker living in northeastern Ohio. In the 90s, he co-created the cult flicks "Killer Nerd," "Bride of Killer Nerd" and "Girlfriends," produced most of Toby Radloff's MTV segments and churned out over 300 local television commercials.

In the new millennium, he resurfaced with “Townies,” a critically-acclaimed, self-described “Magnum Opus of CineTrash.”




What is keeping your script from becoming a finalist in the screenplay contests or from getting agents and producers to commit to it?

If the script were god awful, you could understand, but that congratulatory letter of praise from one competition clearly indicates that you should be proud of your achievement since the script was considered one of the best out of four thousand. The talent is there, now what do you need to do to get over that hump? Seek a second opinion and professional help.


Friday, July 22, 2005


Having been in business for over four years, we have generated a great deal of info, tips, articles and the like regarding writing, marketing, and other aspects of the film industry.

Here’s our "bottom line insights" on those key areas that are most important in your own screenwriting journey, from the initial story idea to putting your material on the marketplace.


Foam Puppet Fabrication Explained!

Stop-motion puppet animation is one of the most unusual art forms in the world. In cel animation, one must first master drawing and performance. In computer animation, one needs to acquaint themselves with the technicalities of the program, mouse and keyboard, as well as performance. While these two animation disciplines require talent and drive to achieve successful animation, stop-motion is unique in the animation field in that it encompasses a number of disciplines to achieve a final end.

Model making, armature machining, sculpting, moldmaking and casting, painting and detailing, lighting and cinematography, and of course, performance animation, are the primary skills required to master this wonderfully magical art form. While it certainly isn't necessary for a single individual to master all of these disciplines (and there are few stop-motion animators who have), there is no reason why one cannot attempt to do so, and have fun in the process.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

U.K. Digital Art: New Rules, New Techniques, New Collectives

It’s hard to define one single overriding feature about the digital art scene in the U.K. — like most other nations it has a diverse culture and this is reflected in the type of work that is produced here. Even more than most countries, this little subsection of the global design community celebrates the cutting-edge and retro together, drawing on cross-cultural art forms and inherent British humor and sensibilities to create something new altogether.

Michael Burns surveys the digital design scene in the U.K. for exciting talent, styles and trends.


Scenes as concepts

In the world of screenwriting the word CONCEPT is usually associated with the general idea of the movie. Once the CONCEPT is in place, scenes are then created to help tell the story.

IDEALLY, the writer must come up with as many entertaining scenes as s/he can, scenes designed not only to further the story but INTRINSICALLY entertain us as well. But the predominant attitude appears to be one of getting by, plodding along by way of one SUPPORTIVE or TRANSITIONAL scene after another, preparing for that one humdinger just around the corner.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who Says You Can't Tell the Director What to Do?

Writing a script? Someone spread a rumor that you shouldn't tell directors and actors what to do.

Don't hesitate to use the very tool that can help make or break your script, (i.e. the stage directions). What are they?Physical actions/gestures/attitudes/reactions etc. described in narrative or parentheses that enhance subtext and cinematic action are called stage directions

Examples: "They lock eyes;" "He begins to sweat;" "They both blush;" "Their hands accidentally touch."It's amazing how many well meaning and skilled screenwriters forego this key device, bypassing a crucial opportunity to build drama and mood into their scenes. The writer's creative vision must be conveyed on the page and it is naive to think that this can be achieved through dialogue alone.


$100,000,000.00 Animation Quiz

How much do you really know about the business of animation?

Test your skills and challenge your brain with "Animation Trivia Quiz". Each question has five possible answers. Just click on the choices you think are correct, then click the "Submit Answers" button. Then we'll see just how "smart" you really are!


Animation/Robot Exhibition Proposed in Japan reports that the Japan Business Federation proposed June 21, 2004, holding an animation and robot exhibition to help boost the number of foreign tourists to Japan to 10 million by 2010.

The nation's largest business lobby, known as Nippon Keidanren, recommended Japan host an animation and robot exhibition as early as 2009 — between the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai — to introduce Japanese pop culture and state-of-the-art technologies to the world.


Monday, July 18, 2005

9 Items or Less

Welcome to Smiley's Supermarket . . . Joe Gillis has come shopping to what appears to be the world's largest supermarket. After wreaking havoc with clerks and patrons alike, he makes his way toward the miles and miles of checkout lines. As far as he can see, rows of people are waiting, their carts overflowing with every conceivable product.

He spies a very short line way up in front, the banner above announcing "9 Items or Less." Upon counting, he discovers he has ten items in his cart. What should he do? He does what every moral, self-respecting citizen would do - he goes to the "9 Items or Less" line anyway, resulting in a hysterical battle of wills with the Cashier (Matias Bombal).



As Passengers come and go inside Taxi 531, little pieces of their lives are left behind.

Rob Goodman had this dream of making his own film. Not necessarily a two hour full length feature film, but something that could showcase his talents as well as others. He knew that unless he could raise the funds to finance the film it would be entirely up to him.

With this in mind, he wanted to keep the film simple but still be able to make a powerful statement of content and talent. So he came up with the concept of four actors in an enclosed area perhaps a room in an apartment, an elevator or a car, better yet a taxi cab.


14 Ways to Wear Lipstick

Tired of a monotonous and passionless marriage, Carlo decides it's time to move on. Saying goodbye is never easy, so he perpetuates a facade of love, while wishing that his wife, Mary, would stop loving him.

Mary is determined to make their relationship work. Domestic politics get thrown into uncharted territory after mysterious events call into question the very nature of their love.

A bracing look at the point where unconditional love and deceitfulness meet - not to mention mafia hitmen, Mexican soapstars, and seamstressing.


Sunday, July 17, 2005


Enough acting books are written for actors, why not a book about acting for directors? After all they are the ones, who work with actors and who should know know how to get the acting out of them!

Of course, actors can read the book and get great acting out of themselves! Actor = Creator + Medium (Meyerhold's formula)


a Fantastic Force

The fans at this weekend's four-day San Diego Comic-Con (their number is expected to far exceed the 75,000 at last year's festival) represent a double-edged sword for the movie industry.

This true-believer audience is eager to embrace the big-screen adaptations of its heroes but is equally ready to reject them. Either way, the fans are poised to spread the word to legions of fellow fans via the Internet.

"You might see studios spend a quarter of a million dollars on Comic-Con now," says John Hegeman of Lions Gate Entertainment, the film distributor that this year footed the bill for a lavish Friday night masquerade ball and for bringing in the entire cast of the company's upcoming horror film "The Devil's Rejects."



Hustle & Flow, his gritty love song to the Memphis rap scene and the creative spirit, won Craig Brewer the Audience Award at Sundance.

"He’s a born storyteller,” said producer Stephanie Allain, writer-director of this year’s Sundance smash Hustle &Flow. Indeed, even before I’m able to turn on my tape recorder, Brewer, sensing that I’m a music fan, is off on a fast-paced riff about Al Kapone, Eightball and MJG, some of the Memphis rappers he’s slipping into the Hustle soundtrack before the film hits the theaters.



Because there's a large population of writer's out there who are all at the start of their writing careers, `we thought it might be interesting to interview a writer who's just beginning to happen.

You might find the story mucho relatable. As you will see, it hasn't been easy, but L.A. based MICHELLE SPITZ is certainly on her way.




#1.) “BRENT GREEN LIVES AND WORKS IN A BARN IN CRESSONA, PENNSYLVANIA,” begins the bio of this 26-year-old animator who has developed a novel distribution strategy for his haunting, charmingly low-fi animated shorts. “When I finish a film we do live shows with bands and sell DVD-R’s with hand-painted artwork,” Green says. “The bands improv the soundtracks and I yell the narration like a preacher. I get to work with artists I love — Califone, Sin Ropas, Garland of Hours and Brendan Canty from Fugazi.”


Freaks, geeks set for Conan at Comic-Con

Already under way at the San Diego Convention Center, Comic-Con boasts the largest convocation of geeks you'll ever see. Some of them will take part in the annual costume contest, proudly donning their "Star Wars," "Spider-Man," "Lara Croft" and Trekkie gear.

But Comic-Con is no longer just for comic, horror, anime and sci-fi/fantasy fans. It's also about high-stakes commerce: the selling of video games, books, toys, memorabilia, posters, DVDs -- and Hollywood event movies.

The major studios are hitting Comic-Con in force, displaying footage and live talent from "The Corpse Bride," "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Superman Returns," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "King Kong," among the hottest-ticket events while on the main floor, Swedish emigre Fredrik Malmberg, head of Licensing and Creative Affairs for L.A.-based Conan Properties International, will be manning the Conan booth.


The Education of a Comics Artist: Book Review

Going to the San Diego Comic-Con this year? You might just meet a few of the people who have contributed to this book. Actually, you can't miss meeting some of the 60 top artists, critics, and educators in the comics genre who have written the essays that make up this book.

Comics are being written and drawn by thousands of young people all over the world, and some of them will wind up making a living at it. That’s a point that is made by more than one writer here, telling how they got their start. They drew. And drew, and drew and drew. They made copies and gave them to their friends, they created a fan base, they got better at it and a few got actually published. They got criticized, sneered at and threatened, but they kept on. People who get the comics bug don’t stop.


Animated as Ever: The 2005 Licensing Show

The 25th annual LIMA (Licensing International) trade show, was held June 21-23, 2005, at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center. It attracted about 23,000 attendees, an increase of 15% over 2004.

The crowd perused more than 5,700 properties from 500-plus exhibitors — many of them animation studios or licensing agents representing animated properties. Several animated TV series being introduced to the licensing community at the show will be part of Cartoon Network’s new Tickle U preschool block.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Poets of Filmlight

The public may be very familiar with the names and faces of the many directors, actors, script writers, producers who, during the span of the last hundred years, have given it the most wonderful films.

However, the names and faces of the directors of photography, those true magicians, poets of the light, have rarely become well known, as these artist tend to remain in the background.


Getting Started with Your Script

"I've got an idea, how can I get started WRITING?"

The writer woke up in the morning with a million-dollar idea and must get ready to write the script before lunch . . . if possible. One foot is already out the door and headed for Hollywood.

Getting the idea is the place to start. Next, you need to dance with the idea, often for quite some time, before going on to the next stage. And the next stage is NOT writing.

The real question arises: IS THIS IDEA TRULY A MOVIE?

Digital Comics: A New Breed

A new category was introduced in the Eisner Awards this year—Best Digital Comics.

Every summer, comics creators and publishers from around the globe gather in San Diego for the pop culture celebration known as the Comic-Con International. One highlight of the show is the gala ceremony announcing the winners of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards — the Eisners — being held this year on July 18.

Eisner nominee Steve Bryant describes his Athena Voltaire as a globetrotting 1930s aviatrix who fights Nazis and various bad guys in the style of Indiana Jones.


Friday, July 15, 2005


Scream queen Stephanie Beaton recently finished filming The Evilmaker in Oregon for Pipedreams Entertainment. It's hard not to smile when you are around this enthusiastic woman. She is full of energy.

Stephanie: The role that I am dying to play is a serial killer. I would love to play the Black Widow type of woman who kills and no one suspects that it's me. I would love to do a Basic Instinct type of role. I just love a woman who is in control!!



Q. I am suffering from the worst case of writer's block I've ever had in the three years I've been writing screenplays. This is my fourth script so it's not like I have a problem finishing them, it's just that this one has me stuck. I've tried to force myself to write something, anything but I end up just staring at the blinking cursor until it's time to go to bed. What do other writers do to get through this sort of thing or do they just take this as a sign to give up on the script? ---Larry G., New Jersey

A. I know how tormenting writer's block can be and my heart is with you. But first and foremost I encourage you NOT to despair and take this as some doomsday sign. Take THAT NOTION and put IT in the trash. Writers block is an irritant, not a sentencing.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

PITCHING a scipt

Pitching (ie: a verbal sales presentation of your project) has become yet a necessary skill for writers trying to break into the industry. Often this kind of salesmanship is required when the writer has his or her first contact with an interested party ("so tell me all about your screenplay") or when she/he plunks down blood money to attend one of those pitch sessions that seem to be cropping up here and there.

Most writers squawk over the sweat and tears of script revisions, but when it comes to pitching many would rather face a surgeon's scalpel. The idea of confronting "the man" with the stakes so high and cleverly rendering the consummate sales pitch can be so traumatic that one might even consider a new career or leaving town.

But while pitching will probably never be easy, but it can be very manageable.



Creating a suit for THE THING in the new Fantastic Four movie is a formula that's been perfected over many years. It began in the early days of prosthetic make-up. It's essentially foam latex - liquid latex material that is whipped to a very high consistent froth which is then injected into a mould. A lot of chemicals and ingredients go into this formula to make the rubber the right consistency and the right durability.

Michael Chiklis had to be as comfortable as possible in the suit. In Michael's recent interviews, one of the main things that he has mentioned is that the suit was extremely hot. Usually, in these situations we hire a person who specialises in wearing prosthetic make-up and suits, to get better use out of that performer.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Selling Scripts and Sharpening Your Hooks

If first impressions are everything in relationships, nowhere is this truer than in screenwriting. It doesn't matter if you have brilliant characters, great plot twists and exceptional third act scenes with a killer story. If your first pages read like the slow, sour yawn of a tired old mule, you may be done for.

Openings are crucial. Starting off on the wrong cinematic foot is like accidentally putting your first foot into a grave. When a reader sits down to read your material, they don't know you from Adam and all they judge you by is the words printed on the page.


Taking Stock in HD


The rapid spread of high-definition acquisition technology is quietly affecting the stock footage industry. For years, many major libraries have been offering footage transferred from 35mm to HD to their clients, but now the race to produce new HD-originated material is intensifying.

Recently, major industry players have begun upgrading their infrastructures with HD equipment, and hiring countless cinematographers across the world in the hunt for HD footage
and many smaller companies would not even exist without the maturation of HD acquisition technology.

Colorado’s Mammoth HD is a prime example.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

soho vfx on 'Fantastic Four'

Soho is about four years old. There's approximately 35 people in the company in total. Berj and I are the owners and partners. My main job title here is visual effects supervisor, amongst running day to day things. Berj helps out in that department, but also does - well, he can tell you...

Toronto-based soho vfx take us through their stretchy visual effects for Mr. Fantastic.


I'm writing a SCRIPT for a film...

QUESTION-What do you do while you’re waiting to be “discovered?” It’s hard.

QUESTION-I have a few brilliant movie ideas, and I'm wondering what I can do to protect my position when looking for a writer/cowriter. I know some writers who are very capable, and I would gladly submit my idea to them.

And also some answers.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Making comics and storyboarding for film

Making comics and storyboarding for film are similar in many ways.

How Comic Books are Made: There are perhaps a half-a-dozen various ways that the comic book process is developed from idea to final printing. Below is a generic description of the making of comics.


Interview with Ben Strout of MastersWork Media

Mr. Strout was just beginning the post-production work on the new film but
graciously gave us several hours of his morning to answer questions about his new
documentary, "Fire and Ice: The Winter War of Finland and Russia".


Historical Documentary: Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice tells the story of the Winter War, the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland in November, 1939. The Soviets were convinced they could win the war in a matter of days. Outnumbered 40 to 1, no one expected that tiny Finland could resist the highly mechanized Red Army, the largest military force in the world and no one anticipated that 1939 would be one of the coldest winters in recorded history.

During 105 days of intensely bloody and brutal combat, Finland improvised a devastating and deadly defense, for an environment historians have called a frozen hell and the Winter War changed the course of what would soon become World War II.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

HD, Served Cold

Cinematographer Michael Bowie has some tips for anyone shooting HD in the dead of winter in really cold places: bring along large Ziploc bags, insulated containers, and tons of batteries.

These were among the simple but effective precautions Bowie’s camera team took while producing imagery for an upcoming PBS documentary called Fire and Ice, which details the little-known Winter War of 1939-40, when Russian forces attempted to invade Finland on the eve of World War II.


How to Shoot

Finally! A brand new DV camcorder.

You're ready to get out there and spread your extraordinary vision to the rest of the world. What do you need to know to effectively communicate your ideas to your audience? If you're just starting out, there will be lots of tips in this article that will help you avoid the distractions that can ruin even a well-thought-out video presentation.

Whatever your level of experience and even if you're a seasoned veteran, read along anyway, while smugly assuring yourself that you're doing everything exactly right.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Selling Your Script

Trying our level best to be helpful to writers by carefully addressing questions about marketing (on occasion, we have pointed clients in the "right" direction), we have also steadily maintained a certain detachment from this area.

We felt that too many writers focused on the agent/producer side of things when, in fact, they needed to be concerned with the creative status of their scripts. We strongly believe that the most important aspect of marketing is MATERIAL THAT’S TRULY READY.

Thus, craft has always been our focus and it is ironic that even with this attitude, we were awarded an "A" in marketing by Creative Screenwriting Magazine.


Writer/director George Romero of zombie cult classics as "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead," is back with his current "Land of the Dead," and this time he's gone digital.

Originally hired to create 66 visual effects shots on "Land of the Dead," Toronto's Spin Productions ended up producing 250.

"George is such an old-school director, we basically had to sell him the idea that this would be all photoreal visual effects, and nothing fancy. This was the first time George ever used digital effects in his movies," explains Campbell.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Craft of Writing and Creativity

"Do you think that every screenplay absolutely, positively has to have some kind of act structure, capped off with a suspenseful ending? Or, is it enough if you take the reader into the world of the characters, show life from their POV, and how they react to one another, ending with their stories simply having been told? (of course in the most entertaining way possible)"

Is unconventional storytelling and the traditional "rule(s)" of story structure mutually exclusive? What I really believe is, if you play your cards "right" you can have it both ways.


Japanese manga takes humongous step

The August CosmoGIRL!, on newsstands this week, offers its 6 million readers the debut of a monthly manga strip, the Japanese-style comic.

The Adventures of CG, a collaboration with manga giant TokyoPop, stars CG, a college sophomore who lives in Tokyo. The publisher calls her a "spunky every-girl hipster heroine" drawn with the typical manga oversized eyes.

CG's arrival is one example of how the big manga publishers are stepping up their presence in the U.S. marketplace by marrying their comic form with novelizations, magazines and manga/novel hybrids. CG creator, 25 year-old Svetlana Chmakova's two manga-style online comics are ChasingRainbows ( and Night Silver (


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Raymond Gieringer on 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'

As President of Intelligent Creatures and a VFX Supervisor, I started my career as a 3D animator and moved up through the ranks to produce and supervise commercials and eventually feature films.

Along with my 3 partners, we founded Intelligent Creatures a few years ago. We wanted to create an artist driven effects house that had one singular focus, high-end feature film work. Our combined credits included such films as Panic Room and the Oscar winning film Chicago.



A FAVORITE "TRUTH" ABOUT SCREENPLAYS: If your story doesn't work, then your script won't work. If your reader is not wondering, "What's going to happen next?"-you're in trouble.

My experience as a script doctor/script consultant is that 90% of all problems are story based.

You can have great characters, it can be funny as hell or dripping with heartfelt pathos, you can create terrific scenes, you can have all the juicy bells and whistles---but if the story doesn't make sense, if it's off, if it's hard to follow, then the script is not going to work and you're D.O.A.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

SCRIPTWRITING: Questions, Quotations and Notes

My original screenplay is being read by a studio. Yet, when I called an agency for representation, this seemed to make very little difference to them. They told me that I could have the people at the studio (who are reading my script) call them if they're interested in the project.

I thought I was doing the agent a favor by already getting my script read and that they would welcome me with open arms. Please help me out - what's going on here?


Gray Marshall on 'Lords of Dogtown'

Gray Matter FX co-founder and visual effects supervisor Gray Marshall is proud of his studio's invisible work for Lords of Dogtown.

Some decades ago the coast of LA had many amusement piers along it, to the point where it was called the 'Coney Island of the West'. Not too many of them are left. In their day, these were the entertainment centres of LA and it was very important socially here. But by the 70s they'd just about all been closed down. One of the few left was the Pacific Ocean Park pier.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

March of the Penguins

Think you've got it bad? This emotionally wrenching documentary about the difficult life of the emperor penguin will put things in perspective. It may even renew your faith in love.

Luc Jacquet's luminous, moving documentary is titled "March of the Penguins".

Human beings have it hard enough, but the life of the emperor penguin, one of strife, deprivation and against-all-odds adaptability in one of the most unforgiving corners of the earth, is far rougher.


Canada: Animation Independents' Day

Independent animators across Canada tell what’s hot and what’s not on the Canadian animation scene.

July 1 is Canada Day, and much like Americans on their Fourth of July, Canadians enjoy a day off, picnicking, playing a casual game of softball or road hockey and enjoying fireworks exploding brilliantly in the night sky. It’s a day of pride and a day when Canada celebrates its independent spirit.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jeff Campbell on 'Land of the Dead'

Jeff Campbell, VFX supervisor for Land of the Dead, reveals how visual effects were used to realise key zombie and city shots in the film, and how director George A. Romero learned to love digital.

The force behind this movie is the volume of zombies. We used XSI to previs key effects sequences including the army of zombies emerging from the river and arial views of swarms of zombies moving into the city. This helped us establish the number of zombies needed and the correct camera info to use like heights, distances, angles, lenses, focal lengths, and planning camera moves.




"Getting read" doesn't have an easy answer. Producers, agents and studios receive so much material that the can't possibly read it all.

They're also very scared of lawsuits. Thus so-called "unsolicited material" is usually sent back unopened. So where does that leave you and how do writers' break through?


#1 Secret for Selling a Script

Many up and coming writers believe that if they were able to find the right agent or producer, then life would be wonderful and they'd be within inches of their goal.

Nice fantasy! Are you ready for reality?

Agents and producers are important only AFTER the material is ready.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Podcasters To Set Commercial Standards

The International Nanocasting Alliance (INA-the international trade organization for commercial podcasters) announced today the launch of the first global initiative to establish universally accepted standards for commercial podcasting.

Codes are a first step toward establishing legitimacy and professionalism.


Supreme Advice on Peer-to-Peer

Kontiki’s Stuart Clearly says the court’s ruling in the MGM v. Grokster case is good news for “legit” P2P media delivery.

In 2001, P2P for media delivery was hot. Red Herring profiled 13 companies using this technology, including Kontiki. Unlike many of the P2P delivery plays showcased in 2001 by Red Herring, Kontiki is still in business (one of only two of the original 13, the other being Red Swoosh).

With news of the Supreme Court decision, we contacted both companies for a quote on how this ruling might affect their business.