Sunday, August 29, 2004

Laura Branigan's sudden death

...her first album.

I was just about to turn off the TV and fall asleep when my eye caught a familiar name scrolling across the news ticker on CNN. Laura Branigan died of a brain aneurysm in her sleep on Thursday. She was only 47. I literally sat up in bed and said 'holy shit!'.

Absolutely a music staple of the 80's...her songs of course included "Gloria", "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You", "The Lucky One", "Self Control", and "Forever Young". Music is indeed the soundtrack of your life, and she'll always be a voice that reminds me of living in Boston.

Seems like this has been the month of musical deaths...Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Rick James.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Couple of movie reviews to throw out there...

First up "Collateral".

Great film, great performances by Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. The best parts of the movie are the in-taxi conversations these two have. Interesting thing is the film appears to have been shot on some form of video and transfered to film. Kind of gives it a more 'real life' feel. Thought the ending could have been a little more intelligently played out, but it was still satisfying and suspenseful. Cruise makes a great bad guy with a dangerously curved sense of family, respect, and humor.

Then there's "Alien vs. Predator".

I heard all the negative hype in advance; how the story was poorly written and executed, the characters only cardboard cutouts waiting to be killed. The only positive thing I heard was that the actual fights were great. So I went in with the expectation that this was not really a building block of the "Alien" or "Predator" films and would stand or fall on it's own...despite the connections they were trying to make to the existing franchise as well as Earth's evolution. And I enjoyed it for just that!; the fight scenes were a lot of fun, the visual and creature effects top notch. There was also a nice nod to Bishop's knife trick from "Aliens". My advice though is wait until video.

Finally, the movie I had been waiting since May to see..."Garden State".

Definitely a multi-layer film. There were a lot of points I connected with and think a second viewing will really bring out the depth of emotional complexity these characters own. Zach Braff is great in front of and behind the camera...There's a lot to take in here which seems intended, plus a very charged moment of 'did he or didn't he' which I thought was very clever. The film even has the song I really love from the trailer. Natalie Portman is especially endearing in a crazy and very cute way, plus the dialogue is smart and funny. It was the ending especially that had me thinking I want to see this again. Zach even has a "Garden State" blog that's pretty funny.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

This was definitely a banner week...

Last night (at the invitation of Laura, the producer) I attended a rehearsal of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in one of scoring stages on the Warner Brothers naturally I was very excited! They performed a Disney concert at The Bowl this Friday and Saturday night (tonight). Included would be a couple of scenes from Disney classics accompanied by the orchestra. I was involved with the Disney concert as a side project for Laura by setting up these scenes on the Avid, adding the isolated vocals and removing music, then running the digibeta tape dubs for the actual performance.

But I'm getting ahead of myself a little...let's first talk about what happened when I got to the Warner lot...!

I pull past the gate to park my car a short distance from the famous water tank. As I get out of the car I notice three men standing in the lot having a conversation, one leaning up against a car. As I pass by suddenly I realize the man leaning against the car and looking my way is Steven Soderbergh!!...the director of "Erin Brockovich", "Traffic", "Ocean's Eleven", and of course one of my absolute favorite directors. I say to myself, 'Must not be a geek...must keep walking...don't walk over and say 'hi, I love your work'. He looks up at me, I look back...and very smartly and professionally I keep walking. For the next five minutes I'm in a daze of 'holy shit...that was Steven Soderbergh!'. He also directed "The Limey" which I think is the best and most creatively edited film ever.

Down a few buildings I find the scoring stage. This is one of several where feature films are scored. As I'm sure a lot of you have seen in photos, the orchestra sits in a semi circle around the conductor who is facing a movie screen where the film is projected. A row of technicians sit to the rear coordinating the digital visual timing devices the conductor will use in front of him. It would take too long to explain, suffice to say it helps him keep pace with the clip he is viewing kind of like a metronome. This rehearsal would be set up similarly to scoring a film, only with various clips shown on screen for timing purposes.

As I walked in I found Laura sitting to the rear taking everything in. She points out a tall man with white hair; Dick Van Dyke not 15 feet away. He'll be performing part of the "Mary Poppins" medley at the concert. Thought about bringing a camera but didn't want to seem like a total geek, snapping off pictures like some tourist. Good thing too because when I got there I found out, for copyright purposes, I couldn't take pictures anyway.

I was just in total awe of this whole process. During the course of the rehearsal three women got up one after the other to sing a signature Disney number...and Bill, you're especially going to like this. They were: Judy Kuhn (the voice of Pocahontas) performing "Colors Of The Wind" from "Pocahontias", "Belle" from "Beauty & The Beast" performed by Paige O'Hara (the voice of Belle), AND Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel) performing "Part Of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid"...and this was all about 20 feet from where I was sitting!

The rehearsal ran about three hours with one union-required 20 minute break for the orchestra. When it was all over I thanked Laura for inviting me and headed back to the car. Not wanting to leave the lot right away, I walked a bit down a hundred yards past several sound stages. One of the doors was open where workmen were doing some clean-up on the filming set of a house interior. Wasn't sure for what movie though. At the door outside every sound stage is a large metal plaque showing the title and year of particular films that had been shot there. The one I was standing near listed "A.I" and "Batman Returns" to name a few. Suddenly I thought to myself I'd better not go off the beaten path too much, because after all I am a guest of Laura's. Didn't want to abuse that privelege.

Back to the car I took a deep satisfying breathe, started the engine...and proceeded to get lost trying to find the gate to leave! The one I had entered was closed for the night. So I had to find the main gate...most notably the one the entire cast of "Blazing Saddles" bursts through at the end, sprawling out into the street. But wait, then it hit me one more time...HOLY SHIT, THAT WAS STEPHEN SODERBERGH!!

Looks like I'll be heading back there in two weeks because part of the two day rehearsals for our MGM/UA performance will once again be on the Warner lot, the second at The Bowl itself.

News flash #2...BIG! (no, not Carrie's boyfriend)

Received a call yesterday from Hammer Creative Advertising, a major trailer house(!) I've been wanting to get in the door at, and one I interviewed with last fall. In late May I mailed off an updated resume and DVD reel saying I was still very interested in working with them. The woman who called was the production coordinator and she asked what my schedule looked like for the next few weeks. They are starting to get busy and want to line up freelance trailer editors. I told her after finishing my current project in a little over two weeks I'd be free. Sounds likely there could be a window of opportunity in early September. She said she'd be in touch again shortly. So I'm like 'Wow!', this is huge. When I get down to the last few days with MGM I'm not going to wait...I'll call her. The link to Hammer Creative Advertising now appears under "in the wings" on the sidebar.

I also spoke with Gina at Autonomy about work after the Hollywood Bowl project. She said business is not slowing down and there could be more projects for me right away. So either way, hopefully, it looks like I may be sticking around for awhile.

One final prominent note, MGM came back late this past week with a request to have a music video of Robbie Williams singing "De-Lovely" (link under 'current projects') with clips from the current film of the same name starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. So I'm working all this weekend with Laura on that. MGM needs to see a first rough cut by Monday. Hey, who needs a day off when I'm doing this!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The plan this past week...

...with the Hollywood Bowl project was to have Thursday and Friday off. Autonomy had another project booked into the suite we were using, so I was looking forward to 4 days off in a row. Last weekend was kind of hectic and I felt like this would make up for it.

Wednesday, Gina calls and asks since I'm off on those two days would I like to cut a promo. I of course said yes so she booked me in. Thursday when I arrived I found the project that had bumped the Bowl was the one I was about to begin!

I was to create a 60 sec. promo for "Cellular", the film starring Kim Basinger which opens in September. Basically a couple of Kim's interview bites talking about her character intercut with scenes from the movie. This type of promo is actually called an 'interstitial'. Worked with a new producer, Angela, and cut the spot using clips from the trailer New Line had sent over. It's for Lifetime Television and New Line Cinema BTW. Angela loved what I came up with and only had one tweek to the ending. Of course it has to go over to Lifetime for approval, but I learned on Friday that they wanted to see my skill working on a promo, which they do a lot of at Autonomy. Think they appreciated that they could give me a project with little guidance and I ran with it. That's what I enjoy the most. I did have a previous promo for Angelina Jolie's "Beyond Borders" as a guide, but they wanted each one to be unique. All in all I'm sure this continues to secure my future with Autonomy.

So I've added this to the "Current Projects" sidebar. The link is to the movie site NOT the promo I cut, but they do have the trailer I used footage from. Most of the time I'll be using these links to provide more info about the content of the project. Whenever possible I'll have a link to the actual promo, trailer, film clip, etc. I worked on.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Minor note...

Added a new feature to the sidebar. "Current Project" reflects not only what project I'm working on presently, but also lists for which studio and at what post house. Just a general FYI.

Next Thursday the LA Philharmonic will be rehearsing for their Disney Night at The Bowl. Laura has invited me to attend. The location for this is on one of the scoring stages at Warner Brothers. My only part in the Disney thing was to transfer some scenes from Fantasia and Mary Poppins (sans music, vocals only) to a digibeta tape. My main draw here is to be on one of the scoring stages at Warner Bros. watching an orchestra perform. It won't be quite the same, but film scores are performed and recorded there and I've always wanted to see the inside.

Monday, August 9, 2004

The Empire State Building goes dark... Icon has passed from this world. I think when Peter Jackson's film comes out next year it should start with "...for Fay Wray". Her star on the Walk Of Fame, where they've placed a wreath of flowers, is about five blocks from Autonomy. I'll probably stop by there tomorrow during lunch...

Incredible day of information...

First up, Laura has now officially said she wants me on this project next year! So that's exciting because I've been having a ball. Then she told me that we'll be doing Twentieth Century Fox films next year...and you all know what that means!!

Like this year I'll be cutting a giant montage of a few hundred Fox films. Then come the movie series specific montages. This year of course it's MGM/UA's James Bond, The Pink Panther, and Rocky.

Then I was informed of the line-up (at least as of now) which is in the planning stages. Next year (preparing for my head to explode) those specific montages are scheduled to be...

- The "Alien" movies (!!!!)

- "Planet Of The Apes" (!!!!!!!!!!!!)

- AND THE MICHAEL YORK "THREE" AND "FOUR MUSKETEERS" (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

As some of you know I'm a HUGE fan of those films, not to mention of course "Apes" and "Alien"/"Aliens" which I gleefully informed Laura of. I was like 'someone put a bag over my head because it's gonna blow any second now!'. This is going to be a 'wow-they're-paying-me-to-do-this!' gig.

So here's a project I know I'm guaranteed to be booked on next June and will definitely make '05 a fantastic year. Aside from content, another bonus is I'll be working three and a half months straight. Woohoo!!!

GOD BLESS IT!!!!! :)

Sunday, August 8, 2004

So my first time at The Hollywood Bowl Saturday night was great!

I met Laura at the bus that takes you the 2 miles from parking to the venue. Met two of her friends who brought a picnic-dinner. Laura's box seats at The Bowl was really nice and they have fold-down tables within to eat on. It was funny to see people around us bringing candles and satin tableclothes to eat their various high class meals with. We had a dinner consisting of some 'meat' item (don't ask me what but it tasted good), generous green and potato salads, and some very foofoo chocolates for dessert, all topped off with red wine (which I provided). Of course you know me I would have brought turkey sandwiches, a six of Coke, Pringles, and M&M's...but this was The Bowl damn it!!! Maybe next time I'll bring a pounder of M&M's in a silver or gold dish with a side of Coca-Cola or milk in a champagne glass :). Oh my God now that I think of it, I am SO going to do that for our MGM night!

Right before the performance began Laura nudged me to look left. Walking up the aisle not ten feet away were Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss; my star sighting for the month. The concert was terrific, opening with the LA Philharmonic playing (among others) Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. A local nationally renowned jitterbug troupe appeared on stage occasionally to dance. By the time Big Bad Voodoo Daddy came out people were dancing in the aisles. I think one of the amazing atmospherical things for me was to hear that music, sitting under the stars, and slightly over your shoulder seeing the four nightly spotlights from Hollywood and Vine crisscrossing high overhead. It was truly a Hollywood moment. Right before the concert began Laura nudged me to look left. Walking up the aisle not ten feet away were Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss; my star sighting for the month.

Seeing now the size of and where the screen for our MGM/UA performance would be, I know I'm going to be blown away by this whole experience, and I'll definitely be snapping a few during the actual event to post. As I sat there taking everything in, I thought about how over 8 years ago I was sitting in the audience at some little geek convention watching this parody movie I made. Now I'm going to watch something I worked on for MGM at The God-Blessed Hollywood Bowl!! Somebody take my f**king picture!!!! ;)

Friday, August 6, 2004

"Hey, we've got a great thing here!...and this thing has, in part, put us on top of the world. Oh wait...I've got a great idea!! Let's jump off the top of the world to our death, taking this really great thing with us!!!!! YIIIPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That 'thing' is Bryan Singer's outstanding work on the "X-Men" movies.

Could Fox have done anything more idiotic!!!! (read first)

So it looks like the new "Superman" film will be vibrant with human emotion and great character development, not to mention fantastic visuals. But "X-Men" has seen it's best days come and gone, thanks to Fox not liking their star director playing in other studio's yards; they canned Bryan Singer's contract to direct "X3"!


Cut to Heston from "Planet Of The Apes"...

"YOU MANIACS!...YOU FIRED SINGER!!...aaawwww, damn you....GOD...DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!!!!"

This echoes even more my thoughts immediately after the first viewing of "X2"; no matter what happens next, THIS is "The Empire Strikes Back" of the "X-Men" movies. That rings true even more so now. As the Cinescape article says, Singer leapt at the chance to direct "Superman". I recently read an article where he stated the Richard Donner version was his inspiration for breathing life into the characters of "X-Men" as opposed to being just all flash with no emotion. If he continues to be attached to The Man Of Steel I will eagerly await the new film! But it's just really, really, really, REALLY SAD he is no longer Fox's only GOOD driving force behind "X-Men". Now it will dip into "Terminator 3" land. Yuk! Wouldn't be surprised if a few actors who are on the fence contractually decide to bow out because of Singer's absence...and well they should!

Fox...YOU SUCK!!

O.K. so the only way you can make it up to us is to wrestle the ORIGINAL "Star Wars" trilogy from Lucas and put it out on DVD. I'll take nothing less!! ;) Yeah...this'll work!

Invitation to The Bowl...

Yesterday, Laura (the producer) turned to me and asked if I liked swing and big band music. I said yes, and she proceeded to invite me along with a few of her friends to a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert at The Hollywood Bowl this coming Saturday night. This will be great because A. I'll have the opportunity to see an event before our MGM/UA performance and B. Bonding with Laura a little outside of the workplace will be good for my future, career wise. Plus she's sharing box seats with me! Again, it's all about networking. Since Laura used to work for Warner Bros. in a somewhat lofty capacity, further upper level opportunities could be forthcoming. I think I can say quite confidently it's a lock I'll be working on this project next year...and next year they'll be doing Twentieth Century Fox films. She also asked again if I would attend both rehearsals at The Bowl for our current project. I'm just as excited about that as I am about the actual concert.

Got an e-mail from Elisabeth in New York. Wanted to know how I was doing and to pass along a job listing for Final Cut Pro promo editors at a high profile post house in Van Nuys. Already packaged my reel and resume for mail delivery tomorrow. Unfortunately there won't be enough time to drop it off personally, but they should be receiving it no later than Monday.

Things are still going great...and the bucks keep rolling in!

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Decided to snap a few this week...

Here I am in the edit suite working hard on the MGM / UA project. At the moment we're moving full tilt into the James Bond montage. It's five weeks to go until the performance at The Hollywood Bowl and we seem to be right on schedule, if not a little ahead of the game. Of course all the montages will continue to be tweeked until September.

...And here is the main entrance to Autonomy. The place is bigger than it looks in the pic...major renaissance motif going on here, without and within. This is just street side. A number of rooms have stained glass windows, obviously not mine though. This BTW is 3 blocks from The Kodak and Mann's Chinese Theatre.

Picked up this period's paycheck on Friday...everything was right and perfect. Of course now I have a federal I.D. number (applied a week and a half ago) which simplifies the whole process quite a bit. I spoke with Andy, the senior editor, and Gina outside as I was leaving Friday. They both asked how I was doing, how the project was coming, etc. They repeated Laura's praise of my work. Soon as we get down to the last two weeks I'll be inquiring as to further work past this project. I'm feeling good about that happening, but it still depends upon the need from their end. Laura, the producer, had mentioned a week before half jokingly that the only thing they were lacking at Autonomy was ice cream. So of course the wheels began to turn in my head. The next day I asked what her favorite flavors were. Then on Friday I brought some in as a week-ending treat. She was very surprised and very happy. Chalk some more points on the big old blackboard.

In the middle of all this, I received a call from Tim at ipostini Thursday afternoon. He asked my availability for a few days, which I had to turn down of course. I did say when this project was done my schedule would definitely be open.

Now on to the big movie news of the week...

The "Batman Begins" trailer has hit the internet and IT ROCKS! Subtle, brooding, darkly serious, and nicely unrevealing...just the way some of us invisioned the story should have been told over fifteen years ago. Keaton was great, but this looks like THE real deal.

Plus...Were you annoyed (as I was) that the trailers for the new "Thunderbirds" movie seemed more "Spy Kids" than hardcore original? Were you disappointed to see the critics also agreeing about this debacle and that the classic deserved far better treatment and respect?...

As an alternative WATCH...THIS!!!

All I needed to here was 'the creators of South Park do Supermarionation' and I was hooked, and that was before I saw the trailer! This is going to be a no-holds-barred, in your face puppet laugh fest slamming all the idiocies of our current world situation. Where can you buy tickets?! I'm ready to see this now! Watch closely for the Michael Moore puppet with a hot dog in his hand below Mount Rushmore. It's only like two or three frames.

The reviews for "The Village" seem to be prety problem, I was very soured by "Signs" and felt a little uneasy about this one to begin with. Might check it out on video just to be curious. Saw "The Manchurian Candidate" last night which was excellent. They did a nice twist on the original's ending. Great thriller and certainly a very worthy remake. Wanted to get to "Garden State" this weekend but there wasn't time. Definitely this week sometime...considering it's showing at The Arclight just 5 blocks from Autonomy.

Almost forgot...on a final note, I've gone done one pant size! The belt had been inching closer towards the next notch, now it locks in no problem. Just picked up some new slacks this weekend and am able to wear a size lower. Yes, the diet is working!

And so Week 8 begins...