Friday, December 19, 2008

"Superman, The Movie": The 30th Anniversary

It's inconceivable that "Superman, The Movie" premiered in theaters 30 years ago this past Monday. This was to be the huge Christmas release of 1978, and I was SO THERE! At that time I wasn't attending opening night shows because I wanted to avoid the crowds. It wasn't until I went to see "The Empire Strikes Back" in 1980 that I realized what i was missing. But I digress...

As the lights dimmed and the curtain parted at the Fox Colonie Theater in Albany, N.Y. I was suddenly bombarded by one of the most dazzling and stirring movie opening credit sequences of all time! For the next two hours I travelled from the Planet Krypton to a small farm town in the midwest to the busy streets of a major metropolitan city in a way I had never experienced before. It was real and down to Earth, yet fantastic and amazing. All with John Williams powerful score, Geoffrey Unsworth's rich and beautiful cinematography, and Richard Donner's pitch perfect direction.

As a tall, bespeckled Christopher Reeve came on screen, you witnessed him craft a wonderfully bumbling Clark Kent into a Man Of Steel whose presence was so uniquely confident and so very natural...the likes of which had never existed in the comics or on television before. Because, of course, this was THE MOVIE.

And THE MOVIE came with a price tag. Movie tickets specifically went up fifty cents with the release of this film. I remember that very specifically. Now we would have to pay a whole $4.00 to get in! OH MY GOD! It had been a $3.50 admission for a long time too.

Unfortunately I haven't had time to watch "Superman, The Movie" all this week, which is a crime. I do plan to watch it either tonight or this weekend in all it's glory...and remember what it was like the first time I saw it all those years ago.

And by the way, this was always my favorite action sequence.

And once again, when I watch it in my home theater, the volume will be pushed up (as the hair on my arms will raise) to fully envelope me in the sights and sounds of Superman to the rescue!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Farewell, Forry: A Memorium by Bill Burke

It is indeed a very sad day for myself, and the countless fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror everywhere, for we have just lost the most prolific example of these three wonderous genres. Forrest J Ackerman died on Thursday, December 4'th at the age of 92.

Who is that, you ask? Well, for the uninitiated, Forrest J Ackerman was, in a nutshell, the grand guru of science fiction, fantasy and horror films. His full hearted love and passion for these genres began at age 10, and over time resulted in two of his most prolific and celebrated achievements. In 1958, Ackerman co-founded (with James Warren) "Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine, in addition to serving as its writer and chief editor. His second greatest success was amassing what to this day is considered THE single largest collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror film memorabilia in the world, which includes the original cape and ring worn by Bela Lugosi in "Dracula", and Maria, the gleaming feminine robot from Fritz Lang's sci-fi classic, "Metropolis", in addition to literally countless other film treasures, far too numerous to list here. Ackerman was so gracious, he even opened his private home in "Karloffornia", as he playfully called it, to public tours of his "Ackermansion". His wife Wendayne, once chagrined, "How can you open our home to countless strangers like this?", to which he confidently replied: "What good is having all this stuff, if nobody else can enjoy it?".

Ackerman went by several nicknames (FJA, Forry, 4E, and his most popular, Uncle Forry). I had the great honor to meet him at a fantasy convention here in Albany back in 1984. I was dressed in a geeky homemade Superman costume, and Forry took a photo w/me, shook my hand and gave me a red keychain which read: Remember me with every key, 4E, 4E, 4E, 4E. This past July 2008, I attended the San Diego ComicCon w/my best friend and his girlfriend Rebecca. Walking through the hotel lobby one evening, myself and Rebecca spotted an old and very frail man sleeping in a wheelchair, w/ an attending nurse at his side....It was Forry. I sucked in my breath, and began to weep, knowing that he wouldn't be with us much longer. I attended the convention's next day, and immediately devoted the day to purchasing as many back issues of "Famous Monsters" as I could find, including issue# 134, featuring Lon Chaney on the cover as the Phantom of the Opera, the very first issue I every bought at 11 years old, back in 1974. I still have 35 back issues, but will complete the collection when I attend WonderCon'09 in San Francisco come February.

Forry Ackerman had a wonderful penchant for hilariousy lousy puns, once referring to drive-in movies as "The only outdoor place, with wall-to-wall "car-petting" (Grroann). Actor Robert "Freddy Kruegger" Englund once referred to Forry as "The Hugh Hefner of Horror". Ackerman is credited with having been the first to coin the term "Sci-fi", and knew Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney personally. as well sci-fi and fantasy luminaries Ray Bradbury and master animator Ray Harryhausen, both of who are still with us today. There is so much more to say, but I just can't think of it all right now.

Thank you Forry, for everything. For influencing today's generation of sci-fi, fantasy and horror filmmakers, and for letting us know that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a fan, a geek, or a nerd. I'm truly going to miss you. Please give my best to Boris, Bela, and Lon. I will raise a glass to you at WonderCon'09. All my love and respect, William E. Burke.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Marking the 10th Anniversary of my career in the industry!

I wanted to post this a few days ago, but during my trip back east for Thanksgiving I was hip deep in boxes, trying to package the remains of my apartment in Latham for shipment to LA. Plus I was without the internet the entire time! Oh, the horror!!!

This past Sunday, November 30, marked the 10th Anniversary of my first day on the job at Edgewood Studios in Vermont. I'd always considered myself extremely lucky because I began there as a full feature film editor. Not as an assistant toiling away for years before my big break. Over the course of the next year and a half with Edgewood I would cut four movies: "Icebreaker", "Peril", "Radical Jack", and "The Newcomers". But it was that first day and first week where I realized that I was finally on my way. And even though the pay was low ($400 a day!) and the hours were really long, I immediately recognized this as my boot camp of the film industry.

Now, 10 years later, I'm here in Los Angeles working on top studio projects and have just broken into a budding top trailer house, Happy Hour Creative, where I just may be working as a staff editor in the next few months. Amazing.

On Saturday night, Rebecca and I will be heading to The Palm Restaurant in West Hollywood to celebrate this milestone. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years! But thinking about everything I've achieved and accomplished, I see how long the road has actually been.

...and the ride continues.