Sunday, November 15, 2009

Attack of the Remake Monster

A disease is running rampant these days, infecting everything in it's path. The bug: Remakes.Grrrrrrr. What is it about originality these days that most people want to avoid? Yeah, I know it involves money and not taking the risk. Especially in this economy, we can't take the risk to put up money for something that could potentially flop.

If one really thinks about it, nothing is ever "original"--It just depends on how one chooses to tell the story. I remember watching a t.v. program and during a commercial break they asked the question if "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" should be remade. Personally, I think no because (1) It probably would be hard to find that chemistry between Robert Redford and Paul Newman and (2) Enough of the remakes already! But I know that there probably is a script already in the making to redo Butch Cassidy. I can't speak for the general population, but I myself, wouldn't want to spend $12-$15 for a flick when I can rent it on Netflix. Maybe others can afford to do that, but as a starving artist living out here in 'glamourland' aka Los Angeles, I'd rather not. Sometimes the remake might be better than the original, thanks to the latest innovations in technology.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-remakes, but when it seems that when remake after remake gets made, I almost want to scream "What's so bad about something original?" For some reason, I've always been more interested in Prequels. Perhaps for me, it's because it's always interesting to see how villians or other likeable characters became what they are. I like to think of it as "The untold story before the story begins."

I heard about the Paranormal phenomenon, but was hesitant to see it. Two of my friends said that they were scared to go home after watching it, and with my over hyperactive imagination I'd probably fit in that category--however, I knew another couple that walked out. The first thing I thought, was not another Blair Witch project--which I remember seeing and thought was OK and couldn't understand why people were afraid of it. Back then, I could understand why 'Blair Witch' was all the rave because it was something 'different' out of the usual hum-drum being spewed out. I read that Paranormal was made around $15,000 and marketed virally, and finally grossed at $106,082,922.

This always doesn't happen, but I like hearing success stories like this because it gives me hope that there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. Filmmaking is still a business.

I see two things going on here--1) Audiences might be craving for something "different" and 2) When you don't have a lot resources at your dispense to make that big budget film, you're pretty much forced to reach deep inside the creative crevices of your mind to work with what you have.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Badass Female Characters

I decided to write this after reading an article about Gloria Steinem turning seventy-five in an article featured on For those of you, who don't know, she is a feminist icon, journalist, and social and political activist. In the interview, she said that a lot has changed with the women's movement, but yet there are still some hurdles that need to be addressed. In order to overcome these hurdles, consciousness in both men and women need to change. With this said, I firmly believe film to sometimes mirror our society.

Too often, I get a little annoyed when I see women in film portrayed as nothing more but weak, wallflowers, or just pretty decorations to move the film along. When I was in college, I was told by an instructor that the female lead was violent (by the way, the female was a drug lord), yet she said nothing about another classmate's story whose character committed glorified rapes and violence against the female characters. Mmm, maybe that's why I've always been drawn to some of the films of Pedro Almodovar and Federico Fellini, because the females are anything but wallflowers, but they also demonstrate how this minority group is sometimes exploited by the larger society. I've also been told recently that if I wanted to have a strong female lead in my script, to make her an assassin. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing a film with a femme fatale, but giving into the "status quo" defies the purpose.

Below, I've listed Eight of my favorite female characters in film (Some fictional and some real life):

1. She-Ra, He-Man's Twin Sister. I grew up watching this in the 80s and yes I will admit that I begged my parents to buy the She-Ra sword and headdress!

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2. Painter Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor's Frida

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3.Yu Shu Lien and Jen battle it out in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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4. The Bride is bent on revenge in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill

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5. "Marji" dealing with the pains of growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical animation Persepolis
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6. Raimunda in Pedro Almodovar's Volver

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7. Erica Bain in Neil Jordan's The Brave One

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8. Jackie Brown in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Six Tips On How To Beat the Rejection Blues

You've spent months, maybe even years pouring your soul into a project and you've entered it into film festivals and maybe even to a few agencies and production companies. After weeks (sometimes months) of anxiously waiting, you finally get your answer in the mail: No. All you can see is the word 'NO' and nothing else. Sometimes the word 'no' blocks our ability to see the whole picture.

One observation I notice about our society is that we are constantly surrounded by a culture that convinces us that fame happens quickly and when it doesn't happen when we want it to, we feel frustrated and want to give up. Here are some tips that I share with my other friends who are artists and that I use as a reference for myself when I feel like my work isn't going to land in the right hands.

1. Take the word 'no' and turn it into a positive. The industry is tough and the word 'no' is my motivation.

2. Surround yourself around positive people. It's bad enough when you have to deal with rejections and it certainly doesn't help when you constantly have people tell you 'what you can't do' or 'that's impossible.' Sometimes we get these words from family members or friends.

3. Believe in your work. Sometimes deals will fall through with that producer or that director. It's one thing if you find a group who are passionate about your project, but when it balls down to it in the end, you must believe in your project.

4. Make a list of why you do what you do (act, write, direct, produce,etc). When I get discouraged I usually write down a list of why I became a writer/filmmaker and the importance of showing my work to the rest of the world and what excites me about being a writer. After I make this list, I tape it visibly somewhere in my room where I can see it first thing in the morning and when I go to sleep at night.

5. Read about people who influence your work. I love reading the biographies of filmmakers and writers whose works that I admire. Reading about their struggles and how they were able to get their projects made despite the odds, gives me hope.

6. Be open to constructive criticrism. As artists, we tend to heavily guard our work like they're our children and want to protect them. Constructive criticism sometimes opens our eyes to what others pick up that we don't see and this is an opportunity for us to see how our potential audience views our work. Granted, you'll have some people who'll give comments that seem way out of left field, but really it depends on what you want to take away from the comments. Some comments you just have to take like a grain of salt.

Additional Links: - I've found that this website offers very valuable tips on improving your work. They even have a film festival. originally started in the UK, but expanded to the US with branches in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They have events and screenings and sometimes workshops. If you're a little wary about promoting your project on youtube, you can also upload your video to their site.