Dammit. The History of Kids Swearing in Cinema

Who doesn’t love kids (and old people) swearing in films. Over at the LA Times they have a great article about how we went from being surprised at a Dammit to not batting an eyelid at a whoooole lot worse.

I hope you f*cking like it.

From E.T. to Stranger Things, an Oral History of Kids Cursing On Screen

As the morning rush hour comes to an end on Riverside Drive in Burbank, I sit down with André Gower, an actor who, 30 years ago, played the leader of a pack of pre-teens battling malevolent forces – Dracula, the Wolf Man and other iconic movie monsters – in The…



The End of a Piracy Era – Kickass Torrents’ Big Take Down

An incredible story is emerging about the take down of arguably the Internet’s biggest torrent listing site, Kickass  Torrents. On July 19th the site went offline as alleged KAT mastermind Artem Vaulin was arrested in Poland under orders from the United States.

Full coverage of this is happening over at TorrentFreak, but I wanted to chime in on this as piracy is something that I’ve written about over the years.

I am not 100% against piracy, as I have said many times. In my opinion one of the driving factors behind movie piracy is the inflexibility of the movie industry to serve it’s customers. I live in Japan. Sometimes our release window is months (in the case of Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix film ‘Her’ it was more than a year) after domestic North American release dates. This often comes down to local distributors and the fact that movie distribution runs much as it did in the days of sending prints by steamship.

When I raised the question at an industry forum about why we can’t abolish these windows I was told ‘it’s not logistically possible’. To which I replied that the pirates seem to be able to do it for free, so telling me that billion dollar corporations can’t do it seems a bit silly. Some filmmakers agree.

But I’m also a filmmaker (I recently received my MA in Film – yeah me!) and I appreciate that piracy is damaging to the financial outlook of a film, especially an indie film that is already running the risk of losing wide swaths of money. But I still argue that piracy stems from desire to consume. If we offer a better, easier, more instant way of consumers getting product then a large chunk of piracy will disappear.

Yes, there are people who pirate for pirate’s sake. And piracy has become incredibly easy….which is another point to the failings of the entertainment industry. NetFlix understands this: the goal is to make it easier to buy than pirate. People want easy. But people also want fast.

Finally, the fact that companies like Apple and Facebook cooperated in the bringing down of Artem Vaulin is concerning. Apple refused to assist in a case of domestic terrorism, but when it comes to jeopardizing their bottom line of movie and music sales via itunes, they’re all over it! As a shareholder in both Apple and Facebook, I see this as a worrying trend that will erode the public confidence in both of these brands. Vaulin’s ‘crimes’ are most definitely economic in nature, as opposed to violent. He also was a Ukrainian citizen living in Poland. That he was arrested under a US extradition order is also worrying. America seems to have no problem with banks foreclosing the homes of veterans, or indeed Wall Street types walking away with billions of government money. But don’t threaten the profit statement of corporations.

It is another case of imposing a rule without a solution. I don’t support piracy, but, I also think that equal, economic, assess to entertainment should be the goal of these companies, not simply clamping down and doing nothing.

The BRexit and the UK film industry

Well, whatever your position, it’s done now – the UK have voted to leave the EU. Over at The Verge is an interesting article on potential fallout for the Film (and TV) industries of the UK.

The big questions, of course, are tax credits and EU funding. While the latter is surely gone, the former is what might really cause a dent. Without tax credits, and being able to partner with continential producers and financers, things might get pretty hairy. And I mean Hagrid hairy.

Read on.


Brexit is ‘likely to be devastating’ for UK film and TV industry

The chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), the trade association representing the companies behind independent film and TV the world over, has described the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union as an event that is “likely to be devastating” for the creative sector.

Inspiring, especially in the fine print – the Approaching the Unknown story

This story is making the rounds this week. And it is awesome. Mark Rosenberg sold his first film even before it was completed. That is so cool!

But, and I hate to play the cynic because really I applaud Rosenberg and I really really want to see this film, be aware that:

  1. The budget was in excess of $1.3 million. So he wasn’t shooting in his backyard.
  2. He has an amazing actor as his star. Mark Strong, while maybe not a huge box office pull, is a star.
  3. Rosenberg is the ‘artistic director’ and founder of Rooftop Films, the New York film nonprofit who’s films include ‘Frances Ha’ from Noam Baumbach. He founded Rooftop 20 years ago(!). To be honest, Rooftop is an exciting organisation that deserves more coverage.

So yes, this film is Rosenberg’s directorial debut, but the press wants to intimate that he is new to the business. He is not. And that is the lesson to learn: overnight success can take years. Rosenberg did it the smart way: he started out, built his network and his chops and then knocked it out of the park. I find this – a real story of perseverance and determination – the most inspiring.

Get writing, get learning, get making films.

How a First-Time Filmmaker Sold His Sci-Fi Movie to Paramount Before It Was Finished

Here’s how writer-director Mark Elijah Rosenberg made an outer space film for a fraction of the cost of “Gravity” and “The Martian.” Striking a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures for your low-budget sci-fi movie as a first-time filmmaker is close to impossible, but that’s exactly what writer-director Mark Elijah Rosenberg did with ” Approaching the Unknown.”


Why this AI-written film is amazing

Over on Ars Technica they have an article about this very interesting short film that was written by an AI. Of course, that in and of itself is pretty amazing, but, for me, the impact of the film is different.

1. It’s all about the performance

The film shows that good actors can make anything interesting. Here they have assembled 3 highly watchable, emotive people. They are literally reading nonsense but you somehow get drawn in and involved.

2. Music moves people

The score of this short film seems to be overlooked. With different music the feel would have (could have) been ruined.

3. We make our own assumptions

I don’t think the text of this film is any more unusual than a Coldplay song. We, as living, breathing people, strive to make connections. We want to see patterns in the noise. You think you know what this film is about – even though we know it is about nothing.

As a filmmaker this short hits home certain points – like, my idea for the story is not as important as the three points above. It is a brave filmmaker that can turn over the core of his film to a machine, but the proof is here – with skills you can make an amazing film. So don’t get so hung up on the script.

Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense

Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that’s not entirely what it seems. It’s about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle.


The Perk Problem: How not to run your Crowdfunding Campaign

If you want an example of how NOT to do your perks, you can look at the potentially enthralling documentary about the legendary Bob Moog – basically the inventor of the synthesizer.

See the campaign here: link

You’d think a documentary like this would be backed in a few days (as per the Frank Zappa archives documentary). But it’s not. With only a few days to go they are only at 40%. I blame this on the perks. (And yes, of course it’s possible they will reach their goal).

The Perk Problem:
1) Poorly written perks. The perks have way way way too much info in them. Each perk gives you a short history lesson about some facet of Moog’s history. Just tell me price and perk!
2) They have given ‘clever’ names to the perk levels, which is not unusual, but the way they have done it is to name them after a real world thing. It appears at first glance that you will GET the thing they have named it after as the perk. (eg: for $10 you have THE REALISTIC MG-1
(Moog-made, Realistic-branded 2-VCO monosynth with simple poly section, c.1981-1984)). You don’t.
3) They make #1 even worse by saying things like (on the $25 perk): PLUS receive THE REALISTIC MG-1. They mean the perk called the MG-1, not the real world thing called the MG-1.
4) Horrible delivery times. For $25 you get a digital copy of the film. This is an awesome perk price point and normally I back every film I am interested in if they offer this perk. BUT, here they tell me:
“* Please note: digital release date may be up to 1 year later than the theatrical screening premiere.”
Are you kidding me? I have to wait 1 year after the cinema release to get something I helped you make?????
Are you saying that you won’t give it to me because of piracy concerns? So, you’re happy to have me fund you, but don’t trust me with the result.

I feel for these people. They want to make a documentary. They have the access. But for some reason they just don’t get what people are looking for in a Crowdfunding campaign nor understand how to create a sense of trust and community.

See the campaign here: link

Pulpix – great looking way to enhance content

Rarely does something just seem to hit my sweet spot (apart from chocolate and a great red wine). Pulpix is such a thing.

I’ve seen other enhanced video content services, but I am loving the way Pulpix looks and it’s ease of use (and price! It seems to be free!). I’ve installed it over on philsmy.com. So we’ll see what happens.

I think that easy to use enhanced content will dramatically change the way we see and use videos – both as publishers and consumers. Not just to monetize, but to link to other sites, videos and resources that go further into the topics I discuss. I can really see how something like this could help my online courses that I want to deliver.

Way cool.

Asian filmmakers perspective

It’s not a great article, but at least it’s an article looking at the world of film sales and development.

Right now the Busan (South Korea) International Film Festival is going on. BIFF is one of the biggest festival’s in Asia, with a bustling film market that often focuses on selling to the Chinese market (which will soon become the biggest market in the world).

Asian filmmakers hail globalisation of cinema

Japan News and Discussion

The actresses new clothes – digital nudity

Over on The Verge is an interesting article about the peculiar case of the non-nude naked actress. With an ever increasing number of tools available – even at lower budgets – creating ‘digital skin’ is now commonplace.

The Verge talks about the reasons – one, of course being that a lot of actors don’t want to appear nude, but hey, presto! we can strip you anyway.

Give it a read.

Why CGI nudity is here to stay

The motion picture camera was invented in 1889 – and less than a decade later, it was being used to create After the Ball, the first ever instance of nudity on film. It’s hard to say when the first…