I'm kind of concerned that Disney has purchased Marvel. Jeez, will the Mouse House stop buying everything in sight!!!
I realize they run some of Marvel's animated series on their networks. But I'm just concerned this will take away Marvel's options to work with the best studio to meet their needs per movie project. I can only hope Marvel will get in there and strongly dictate terms the way John Lasseter and Pixar did when they joined Mickey's Coven. I thought Lasseter did an awesome job at making sure Apple's motion picture company threw out ideas that Disney had of making cheap straight-to-DVD sequels to it's big animation blockbusters (Cinderella III? WTF?!). That 'now this is the way it has to be done' mentality is the way to go!
I cringe a bit at the idea of seeing the Disney logo at the bottom of future Marvel feature films. Although "Iron Man 2" still has a contract with Paramount for release next year. Same holds true for "X-Men Origins: Magneto" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2" which already have deals at Twentieth Century Fox.
Click on the photo of Wolverine about to turn and slice off Mickey's ears above for more details.
This weekend was pretty laid back after another week of trying to find work before the Happy Hour gig begins.
Saw "Adventureland" on DVD and thought it was funny and 80's flashback worthy...but I don't necessarily need to see it again. Watched "Hancock" again on cable and appreciated how much better the first half was than the second half. Plus, I was finally able to catch the majority of "Rambo", last year's follow up to the 80's franchise. Thought it was pretty good, the action violence more funny than overly graphic / disturbing as the reviews described (although it WAS graphic), and Stallone in no way stretched credibility as far as his age was concerned. I only missed the first 20 minutes and would definitely like to catch the whole thing from start to finish at some point.
Our trip to the Sepulveda Dam, location site for the end credits sequence in "Buckaroo Banzai", was scrubbed today because of smoke from the fires burning 20 miles away. Winds were carrying ashes over the Los Angeles area and air quality was not at it's best. Aside from that, the photos I want to take there would be marred by a less than beautiful day. So we're looking at a re-schedule, hopefully sometime this coming week.
Tuesday night was an AMAZING evening! And it's all thanks to Rebecca and one phone call I made yesterday!
I contacted FLUX about showing "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes" along with their screening of "The Breakfast Club" at The Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood. Here it was only a few hours before showtime, but I HAD to give it a shot! I got through and spoke with a guy named Jonathan who seemed to be running the organization. Told him about my video, also screened at the Hollywood Outdoor Theater a few weeks back, and that it was on YouTube for him to check out. He said to send the link, and about two hours later called me back. He said he really enjoyed the video and could I come to the theatre early so they could do a sound check! YES!!!
So Rebecca and I, with no tickets for the event in hand, travelled to the theatre and met Jonathan. We were ushered in about 45 minutes before the main doors opened. There was already a line of people down the block waiting to get in! Inside we made our way to the tech guy's AV setup inside the auditorium. He put my DVD in and suddenly those images everyone's been watching on YouTube lit up the 40 foot screen! I felt a tear come to my eye. I held Rebecca's hand as I watched the entire video unfold...and that was just the sound check! I couldn't wait for the actual screening! I also made sure to give Jonathan my card at that point in case we didn't have time later.
Next, we were given wrist bands for drinks and access to the VIP section in the balcony. We were SO IN!!! Along the main counter right inside the lobby, paper bags were lined up that had the "Breakfast Club" logo stamped on the front. Inside was a bag of chips and half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Just like what Anthony Michael Hall eats in the movie..."PB&J's with the crusts cut off". O.K. so the crusts weren't cut off, but who cared! I was impressed with the fact that they thought to do this! They also had an array of candy on top of a couple of side counters...and amazingly all of these goodies were free! Yes, you heard it, FREE! Of course when the doors finally did open, people scoffed up as much of this stuff as possible. Especially some chubby chick who kept going back for more. Jeez, leave some for the people who are still coming in!
DJ Lady Sinclair spun tracks exclusively from John Hughes soundtracks. Even some of the more obscure ones I thought I only knew about...like from "Weird Science"! We were VERY impressed! Even drinks were on the house in the makeshift bar upstairs overlooking the main lobby. Very classy, and definitely more high end then the Hollywood Outdoor Cinema event. Even though that was pretty cool, this was just SO MUCH BETTER!!
Showtime! We stood at the top of the stairs as the ropes parted so we could take our seats in the VIP balcony section. Right up front in the middle...great view! Jonathan had told me that my tribute video would run immediately after "The Breakfast Club". That was perfect with me because it kind of built our anticipation to see my work on the big screen in front of an audience full of fans...and the audience was definitely PUMPED!!
Jonathan came out on stage to intro the movie, mentioning that there would be a special video tribute following the feature. The lights went down, the crowd roared, and Simple Minds' song slammed in as the audience sang along. It was magical, and Rebecca and I knew we were in for a fantastic evening! There was a great ebb and flow to audience ranging from wild laughter at the comedy and solemn silence during the dramatic and emotional scenes. John Bender's appearance on screen for the first time in the film drew the greatest applause, and no one was out of step or disrespectful to the movie or it's content.
As the feature began to wind down, I wondered whether the credits would roll and people might get up to leave, not remembering what Jonathan had said about a special tribute. Right after Bender's fist went in the air with that freeze frame, Jonathan quickly came out on stage to introduce my video. He said we were about to see 'a special John Hughes tribute by editor David Blanchard'. Cool! Even though I'd put my credit at the end of the piece, it was still great that he mentioned my name during the introduction. The lights went down again and up came the LA Filmcutter logo on the big screen. I took a deep breathe, squeezed Rebecca's hand, and the opening titles rolled.
The audience really reacted to their favorite moments that I used, laughing and cheering as the five-plus minute music video continued to roll. It was so amazing to see this on a proper movie screen in front of Hughes fans at an acclaimed Hollywood theatre...and I know I'm going to say that again before I finish writing this! As the visual and musical beats of the song faded, leaving Ferris Bueller on screen to end the piece, huge applause swelled up from everyone. After that final shot I'd added the title, 'John Hughes 1950 - 2009". Another round of applause came up from below and around us. At that point I was probably about 600 feet above the theatre on a movie high. Just an amazing feeling to see you work up on the big screen! I'd probably have to say that this even tops the Hollywood Bowl performances that I cut the montages for! Because everything on that screen was my work; my edit decisions, music choice, dialogue sound-ups, etc.
There was an after-party, also hosted by DJ Lady Sinclair, in the bar area above the lobby. Many people came dressed in 80's gear, including a few who tried to emulate their favorite Hughes character. A photographer from the LA Times was there taking photos, and a number of those you can find right here on Flickr. The 80's tunes cranked up and people danced the night away.
This was such an incredible night, being an official John Hughes tribute at an acclaimed LA theatre (there, I said it again!), and with a huge crowd of avid John Hughes fans! I left there crazy / happy at what we'd seen and that I was able to have my tribute shown on such short notice!
"Breakfast Club" / John Hughes tribute screening tonight!
At the 11th hour, Rebecca learned that there is a special screening of "The Breakfast Club", that will also serve as a tribute to the late John Hughes, tonight at The Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood tonight! Thank you for waking me up with this news, Rebecca!
We immediately went onto their website to RSVP for tickets but it had already sold out! SHIT! However, there's a note on the page that says they may release additional tickets before the show. So we're going to go there anyway decked out in our John Hughes finery hoping to get in at the last minute. I'm trying to get in touch with the theatre now to see if they might run my "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes" video. Fingers crossed!
Here's an article written by Molly Ringwald I just came across at nytimes.com. She writes about talking with Anthony Michael Hall since John Hughes passing and the affect he had on the two of them. She also reveals some rare insights into working with Hughes and offers thoughts on why he left the film industry all those years ago.
Click on the photo to see Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall together at a recent AFI event.
Received an e-mail from Chris at Happy Hour Creative asking what my availability is for September! Availability?...absolutely, completely, and totally WIDE OPEN!!! He said the gig will last at least two weeks but could very well go longer. YAY! THANK GOD!!!
He's going to get in touch with me the end of this week to confirm details, etc.
"District 9" review: uniquely original, gritty, and just a great movie!
Strangely enough, "District 9" was born out of another major franchise in the making that ground to a halt.
Peter Jackson was putting together a live action feature film of the video game "Halo". Neill Blomkamp, a South African writer / director, had been contacted by Jackson to direct the high end project. But when that production folded unexpectedly, Jackson didn't want to leave the fledgling helmer out in the cold. Instead, he optioned to make Blomkamp's 2005 short film, "Alive In Joburg" into a full length feature film. After a summer full of movies that failed to deliver (with the exception of "Up"), now comes a sleeper hit that has all the markings of a classic.
This is a very different kind of science fiction story. Aliens from another world found themselves stranded here twenty eight years ago, their ship coming to a dead stop over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Now they must struggle to survive in a very dangerous slum area originally built for their welfare...District 9.
This is a place inhabited by creatures from another world who, in the film, seem very real and very dangerous, thanks in part to Jackson's favorite visual effects house, WETA. And what's even more impressive is the creation of effects that perfectly match the shifting and shaking of documentary style camera work. This is something which was done masterfully in J.J. Abrams "Cloverfield", yet only during certain sequences. Here, the illusion must stand up throughout the entire film....and it very much does, beautifully in fact.
Music by Clinton Shorter (who scored the original short film) is also very memorable, blending heartfelt South African stylings and vocals affectively throughout.
South African producer, director, and actor Sharlto Copley portrays the central character in "District 9", taking the audience through an unimaginable and sometimes graphic journey. From newly crowned head of the human's alien management team, to desperate fugitive struggling to survive amongst the aliens who are only looked upon as the means to wealth and power...with one catch; the weaponry they've brought along can only be operated by the aliens themselves through their own DNA. Sharlto Copley performance is powerful, realistic, and emotionally strained. We see the true desperation of these creatures existence through his eyes, and who really are the ones to fear....us.
This movie takes us to a place many may not even know exists, thrusting over a million stranded aliens into an already volatile and sometimes explosive mix. There's a humanity to this story. Producer Peter Jackson and Director Neill Blomkamp do a fantastic job of bringing this world to life, and are not shy in leaving the door open for a continuation of the story. "District 9" absolutely stands on it's own, but I'd be curious to see what these guys have up their sleeve for a follow up. If nothing else, this is definitely an outstanding movie, executed with passion and an unflinching perspective. I absolutely want to see this again soon!
Here is the original short film that inspired "District 9", entitled "Alive In Joburg", directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Sharlto Copley.
Loved the "Avatar" 16 minute preview last night which did include the trailer just released Thursday! A short intro by director James Cameron and we were off. Incredible to see the footage on the IMAX screen!!! Even though the couple of scenes included were also what they showed at Comic-Con. No matter! The film looks awesome!
Plus, we each received a coupon that allowed us to take in a full movie that night for the matinee price, AND free popcorn with a large drink. Nice-ah! So with that in hand we decided to see "District 9". Incredible film, and my full review will follow shortly!
It's "Avatar" Day! Have our tickets all printed out...looking forward to the 7pm showing at the Burbank 16 & IMAX with Rebecca and my friends Scott and his son Jake. 16 minutes of incredibly layered 3D imagery and full scenes...CAN'T WAIT!
I'd be cool if they had some swag, but being how widespread this thing is across the country there may not be much. Still, after Comic-Con's presentation with james Cameron this year I am expecting to be further wowed! Did not want to watch the first trailer yesterday when it premiered on the Apple site because I'm waiting to see it on the gi-normous IMAX screen!
Information has surfaced regarding details of the "Say Anything" DVD I worked on in June. Both Blu-ray and standard versions will be released on November 3.
It looks like my 20 minute featurette entitled "An Iconic Film Revisited: Say Anything...20 Years Later" (yes, it's a bit long) will only be available on the Blu-Ray release. That kind of sucks because I'm skipping the whole Blu-Ray thing. However, I'll still have to get it, as I usually do with everything, because it has my work. With luck I may get a free copy from Cannery Agency. Here are the specs for both versions. The Blu-ray exclusives are indicated:
- NEW To Know Say Anything...is to Love It! Trivia Track (over 200 questions) (Blu-ray exclusive) - NEW An Iconic Film Revisited: Say Anything...20 Years Later featurette (Blu-ray exclusive) - NEW A Conversation with Cameron Crowe featurette - NEW I Love Say Anything...! Featurette - Intro and Commentary by Cameron Crowe, John Cusack and Ione Skye - Alternate Scenes - Alternate Scenes with Commentary by Cameron Crowe - Deleted Scenes - Extended Scenes - Vintage featurette - Theatrical Trailers - TV Spots - Photo Gallery
Entertainment Weekly asked several stars and collaborators of John Hughes iconic movies to write a brief remembrance of the director. I was hoping to hear more thoughts from the people who worked with him and became stars because they were in one of his films...and here they are. Click on the photo to read more.
Thanks, Allen, for sharing this link!
On a side note, the hit meter for "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes" on YouTube continues to skyrocket! 2,000 hits in just 10 days! I've even had a couple of people ask if they could get a copy of it; one, a DJ who wants to show it at a club, the other, a teacher who wants to play it for his class as part of a movie appreciation class.
After a lot of reloading and patience throughout the afternoon, I was finally able to crack the official website for James Cameron's "Avatar" to get two free tickets to see 15 minutes of footage from the December release on an IMAX screen in 3D! Aside from the onscreen introduction by James Cameron, we're suppose to be seeing the first full-on trailer to "Avatar" as well.
The screening is this coming Friday, August 21, and we'll be going to the Burbank 16 & IMAX. This theater is now sold out and I was glad to have gotten in right under the wire. Even though we did see Cameron in person at Comic-Con and he did screen 25 minutes of footage, this will still be a phenomenal event that I did not want to miss! Can't wait!
Allen's visit to LA over the weekend turned out to be extremely fruitful. Attending the two-day production assistant seminar ended with a motherlode of contact information for working in the film industry. Score!!
In between the course schedule we went to a friend's BBQ, attended a performance of "Star Wars in 30 Minutes" in Beverly Hills, trekked to Meltdown Comics on Sunset in West Hollywood, and dined at one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Blue Plate, in Santa Monica. A sightseeing trip to The Griffith Observatory ended our day today as I took Allen back to LAX for the trip home to New Hampshire, his suitcase twice as heavy with the manifesto of industry info!
Thanks, Allen...for coming out west, being so incredibly generous, and having another great time with me in The Land Of Dreams!
Twenty five years ago today, Buckaroo Banzai drove his jet car through a mountain, entered the 8th Dimension, and all hell broke loose! A cult hit was born, and I saw the movie many times in it's original theatrical release back in 1984.
As mentioned in my previous post, I'll be heading to the Sepulvada Dam with Rebecca sometime this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of "Buckaroo Banzai". A coveted movie location I've wanted to visit for several years.
This coming Monday, August 17, FREE tickets will go up online, first come first serve, to see 15 minutes of footage from James Cameron's "Avatar" at a select number of IMAX theaters across the country. WE ARE SOOOO THERE!!!!
Even though they screened 25 minutes of footage at Comic-Con this year, I still want to attend this one time event, scheduled for Friday, August 21. There will also be a special onscreen introduction by James Cameron.
Allen flies from New Hampshire to sunny Los Angeles tomorrow for an intensive two day production assistant seminar. In between, we'll be hanging out a bit and doing the Hollywood thing once again. Looking forward to it!!
Went over to my friend Cindy's today to get together with a few people for an impromptu J.H. marathon. Films included "Sixteen Candles", "Pretty In Pink", and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". We had lunch, laughed about movie insights, and had a great time!
Still hoping some theater in LA does a proper tribute sometime soon.
The elusive Sepulvada Dam in the San Fernando Valley has been a fixation for me ever since I moved here. This, of course, was the filming location for the end credits scene in "Buckaroo Banzai", as well as Snake Plissken's prison debarkation point in "Escape From New York". Not to mention many other movies and TV shows, including "Iron Man 2" which recently wrapped there (HUGE green screen set with many cargo containers) and the remake of "The Italian Job" where the Mini Coopers zoomed through the spillway. Yet it always seemed to me like a very secure place that only a handful of people, or anyone working there, could get into.
NOW...I finally looked up online who operates the dam and how I might be able to gain entry. Turns out the Army Corps Of Engineers controls the site and their even had a rundown of permit costs to use the area for filming. Pretty steep I might add. I just wanted to know how I could get in there, even for 15 minutes to take some pictures and bask in the Banzai history of it all. So when I called the woman in charge of arranging these permits, I posed as a filmmaker looking to scout the area for a possible film. She told me it would cost nothing to scout the area, and in fact I could go there during the day free of charge! On top of that, I could just walk through an open gate and make my way to the spillway without supervision! Really?! That's it?!! WOW!!!
My next question was whether or not I needed official permission to do this. She said no, and if anyone of the dam operators questioned me, which I was told would more than likely not happen, I could refer them to her for verification. So basically I CAN JUST WALK RIGHT IN ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!!!
This Saturday is the 25th Anniversary of "Buckaroo Banzai". I am now planning to try and go sometime next week. Rebecca and I had talked about this over a year ago so I definitely want to wait for her to return from Scotland (she gets back Monday night). I've been pondering how to get in there for the past six years. Amazing! I always thought it would mean getting some special permission or paying some crazy sum of money, etc. Who knew it would be this easy!
I plan to take a shit load of photos, and of course, walk the Banzai walk to the end credits music from the movie! Here is that end title sequence...
Today it's back to the redesign of my reel. All of the trailer and DVD clips have been output and added to each menu, etc. However my initial design for the backgrounds seems a little dated. The theme is film. However I'm feeling that some elements need to be more conceptual as opposed to rooted completely in the film strip look. Making those changes today and should be ready to burn my first test reel by the end of the week.
Here are a few more Hughes alumns giving praise...
Jeffrey Jones (Rooney in "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off") - “I’m just shocked and surprised and really sad that John is gone, because I know that he had more in him.”
Judd Nelson (John Bender in "The Breakfast Club") - “I am shocked and saddened by the unexpected death of John Hughes… Though I worked with him but one time, he had a profoundly meaningful and lasting affect on my life as an actor, and as a young man… John’s desire for the truth of the spoken word aligned perfectly with his gift for treating young people not as children, but as developing adults… John always treated me with respect and consideration… he encouraged a real and active collaboration… he was most generous with his insight… and John was patient… John Hughes was a giant… and under his great shadow we remain… My heart breaks for his family… I know many people whose lives were touched by John will be saddened today… I know I am.”
Kevin Bacon (starred in "She’s Having a Baby") - “I will always cherish the time I spent with John Hughes. I was so grateful for the opportunity to walk around in his shoes and try to see the world through his brilliant eyes.”
Howard Deutch (director of "Pretty in Pink" and "Some Kind Of Wonderful") - “The world of film has lost a giant, but I have lost a mentor and a friend.”
Alan Ruck (Cameron Frye in "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off") - “He was an advocate for teenagers as complete human beings, and he honored their hopes and their dreams. That’s what you see in his movies - yeah, they’re crazy kids and they’re obsessed with whatever they’re obsessed with, but you realize that they have hearts and minds and they have some dreams and plans for the future and they’re going to go somewhere. They’re works in progress. John honored that. I think that’s what he found fascinating.”
I've been working from home all this week and my sixty minute cut is about to go before the client tomorrow. I'm told I'll have a break for a couple of days, then be back on it for notes and clean up. That will probably only be two days.
So I'll be up late tonight making my final cuts based on the first set of notes, then bringing the drive I have back to B1 Media so they can do the output. Then it's back home and on with the job search!
Here are two images from last nights "Pretty In Pink" / John Hughes Tribute night. One is me with a fan dressed as John Bender from "The Breakfast Club". Of course I had to get this because I was wearing the shirt. The other is me introducing "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes". Here is an article about the screening on latimes.com.
Looking feverishly for any more tribute screenings in the LA area. It would be great if the Arclight did something, and maybe I could persuade them to run my video there as well. Although I'm not sure they're set up for DVD. We'll see.
In the meantime, tributes for John Hughes are exploding all over the web. This really makes me want to head back to Chicago again sometime in the near future. AND YES, I am at last going through the photos we took from our trip there last September. It's hard to believe it's almost been a year, but now is certainly the best time to share our visit to all the filming sites for John Hughes teen movies in the North Shore area. Stay tuned!
Tonight's screening was awesome! But most importantly of all, "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes" was a huge hit! It was really exciting to hear the crowd laugh, cheer, and react to my music video tribute for the first time, AND projected on a 40 foot screen! I even had a chance to get up and introduce it. How cool is that?! There was probably about three to four hundred people in attendance.
I'm definitely feeling a real sense of satisfaction tonight. And yet I have to say, upon watching it again, I still feel that "Pretty In Pink" is my least favorite of Hughes teen movies. Even "Weird Science", which some claim to be a low point during his 80's crest, is higher on my radar than "PIP". Still enjoy it, but definitely LOVE "Some Kind Of Wonderful" that much more. Which of course was John Hughes answer to the studio wanting Molly Ringwald's character to end up with Andrew McCarthy instead of John Cryer's Duckie. He literally made "SKOW" to fix the story and do it the way he wanted. I agree, it's better. But The Duck Man still rules.
They also had a costume and Duckie look-alike contests which were fun. Plus a prom photo area where you could show off your 80's prom wear against a decorated faux gymnasium wall. My friend Ida was there with her son and a son's friend. We had a great time and I'll definitely be looking forward to going to future screenings at the Hollywood Outdoor Cinema.
"Pretty In Pink" screening tonight, and a YouTube miracle!
One of John Hughes most popular teen films will be showing tonight at the Hollywood Outdoor Cinema. The LA Times had an article about it, noting that the turnout will probably be bigger due to Hughes passing in Thursday. In fact they're expecting this to turn into a tribute night, with an already scheduled "Pretty In Pink" dance following the movie.
Yesterday I thought to myself that if this is going to be more of a tribute evening, I should contact the organizers about showing the "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes" music video I cut. So I sent an e-mail, with a link to the clip online, through the official site and not a half hour later the phone rang. They watched it, they loved it, and definitely want to run it right before the movie!! Yes!!!
And another great thing has occured! Right after Hughes death on Thursday, I was trying to find another video upload site where I could put the music video. YouTube had silenced the audio portion months ago because it conflicted with the copyright Warner Music Group had with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. I did manage to post it to vimeo.com, but it was taken down the next day, also because of copyright bullshit. So, being a persistent ass and not wanting to be defeated, I posted it AGAIN on vimeo.com under a different name. That continues to be up there since yesterday morning. However just on a whim, I decided to give YouTube one more shot and uploaded it one more time, also under my channel user name. I think the gods (who must be big fans of John Hughes) were smiling and granted me passage unfettered!
The truth of the matter is, that Simple Minds song has changed hands as far as who owns the rights since YouTube silenced my original upload. Sony has control of the song now. And to my amazement, they only required an advertisement banner pop up at the beginning, directing you to where you can buy "Don't You (Forget About Me)"! So now I'm back in business!!!
On Thursday, after the news broke of John Hughes death, the view counter on the audio-silenced version began to climb rapidly. That morning it was at 15,859 hits, and that was over a two year period. In 24 hours it climbed to 18,000, and is now at over 20,000 hits!!! Even without audio, simply because people were coming there to connect! Pretty much immediately I put a banner over the clip, pointing the way to the new uploads. The hit counters on those combined are well over a thousand now!
Here is the NEWLY UPLOADED version of my music video tribute, "Through The Eyes Of John Hughes"! Once again, enjoy!
I have to say that this thing is a bit of a mess, but ultimately I'll make it sing. Cutting a ninety minute piece down to sixty minutes. Plus adding more interview bites, b-roll, and most importantly, visual pop. We're definitely going into next week (that's been confirmed), but I have to keep hustling due to time constraints.
Saturday will be the end of my first week working with B1 Media.
Just an amazing and incredibly personal story and insight about John Hughes, through the eyes of a fan who corresponded with him in letters and eventually on the phone when she was a teenager in high school. Read it here.
...and I am completely speechless and in total shock at the moment! A tribute will be forthcoming....definitely tomorrow.
I'll let the people who worked with him and were inspired by him do the talking for right now:
Molly Ringwald - "I was stunned and incredibly sad to hear about the death of John Hughes. He was and will always be such an important part of my life. He will be missed — by me and by everyone that he has touched. My heart and all my thoughts are with his family now."
Matthew Broderick - “I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend John Hughes. He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family.”
Jon Cryer - “This is a horrible tragedy. He was an amazing man to work for and with. He respected young actors in a way that made you realize you had to step up your game because you were playing in the big leagues now. That’s why he got such great performances out of his actors. My heart goes out to his wife Nancy and their children.”
Ben Stein - “It's incredibly sad. He was a wonderful man, a genius, a poet. I don't think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the postwar period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan Age."
Steve Martin - “John Hughes was a great director, but his gift was in screenwriting. He created deep and complex characters, rich in humanity and humor. The script for 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' was the best script I had ever read. I asked John how long it took to write it, he said, 'I wrote it over the weekend.' The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do."
Kevin Smith - "The flag's at half-mast in Shermer, Illinois. John Hughes, the man who spoke for geeks way before anyone else did."
Judd Apatow - “I feel like a part of my childhood has died. Nobody made me laugh harder or more often than John Hughes.”
Rainn Wilson - "R.I.P. John Hughes. 'The Breakfast Club' was a revelation to my late teen-age years. You're my hero."
My friend and producer at New Waver Entertainment, Chris, hooked me up with a producer at a post house called B1 Media. I'm working on a DVD featurette about the independent film scene in the late 60's / early 70's, circa "Easy Rider", etc. Plus I am working from home right now! Met with him, got an overview of the project, then was given a drive with all the media on it. And as a nice little bonus, I was given Final Cut Pro 6 to install on my system. I previously have been working with FCP 5.5
This gig will last for a week at least, but I'm starting to think it could possibly spill over into next week. We shall see. At the moment I'm just glad to have a project in front of me again!
This was the 40th year for Comic-Con, and my 5th year in attendance! Because of my severe lack of work due to the economy, we had to make one change to our original plans; combine rooms so that Rebecca and I plus Bill all shared the same room. Ultimately everything worked out and we were able to fully enjoy the complete event, breathing a sigh of relief after weeks of stress. So let's do the rundown, day by day, right now!
WEDNESDAY, PREVIEW NIGHT
Entering the Exhibit Hall is always a joy for me that first time each year because you know you have the entire event ahead of you! Actually there are two other things I savor about getting to San Diego; arriving at the hotel, and most importantly of all, getting into the room and opening those curtains the first time to survey the convention center at my feet, happily exclaiming "IT'S BEAUTIFUL!!!" like Belloq at the end of "Raiders Of The Lost Ark". Something my friend Kevin in Boston inspired me to do years ago.
Badges could be picked up at 3pm, although we found that the membership area had opened early (around 1:30) to accommodate the crowds. 6pm quickly approached, and we gleefully entered the Exhibit Hall to dive into the cornucopia of fanboy joy!
Thinking quickly, we decided to head 'downtown', a term I chose for the area of the Exhibit Hall where the studios, comics, and game companies are located. This is usually the busiest district with incredibly high foot traffic, hence the term 'downtown'. The area that's more dealer exclusive I call 'uptown'. That's usually a bit less congested, although still heavy with traffic throughout the four days. So we decided to head 'downtown' first because we knew that area would clog quickly and we wanted to get in and see stuff before the hordes descended.
Our first stop was the Marvel booth where they had a display of the now four Iron Man suits as seen in Tony Stark's workroom from "Iron Man 2". They included the Mark I, II, and III from the first movie, as well as the new Mark IV! This area filled pretty quickly because everyone was eager to see the new armor. Later, Jon Favreau would sign autographs here after an interview with Jimmy Fallon for his show.
Moving through the Warner Bros. booth we saw an incredible 1/4 scale figure of Christopher Reeve as Superman! I'll let the photos in my Flickr album do the talking, because it was really amazing and perfectly captured his likeness and character appearance. Some of the other items on display were a large sized Batwing model from the 1989 "Batman" movie, along with a reproduction of Michael Keaton's cowl and belt from the costume.
Suddenly the rush of people had us deciding to quickly head 'uptown' to the dealers area where we started perusing a lot of cool stuff and making our attack plans for the next full day. The crush of the crowd is what it is and we usually deal with it. But the opportunity to get there and walk around freely was pretty appealing during those first few moments.
This was our first full day, and without delay Rebecca and I headed down to get in line for the first of our scheduled programming selects in Hall H at 11am. Bill in turn headed for the Exhibit Hall to start his buying sweep. Thursday would be a fairly full day, and there was an added element to the burgeoning line of fans eager to sit in the 6,000 seat auditorium; The "Twilight" Tweeners, and they came by the truck load! 1pm was the "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" panel, complete with an appearance by stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, and we were seriously considering just hanging in there through all of that to get to our second panel at 3pm. These tweeners were everywhere in line, and later some indignant fans would bemoan their presence. Chris, a producer friend I've worked with at New Waver Entertainment, and a friend of his we were introduced to last year, Scott, joined us in line.
That 11am panel was the Disney 3D presentation, the first 3D event at Comic-Con ever. After a two hour and fifteen minute wait to get in (win line at 8:15) we finally entered the doors of Hall H to be greeted by people handing out pairs of Disney 3D glasses to view the clips. Awesome! The panel featured Robert Zemeckis' "A Christmas Carol" starring Jim Carrey, Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland" starring Johnny Depp, and the main reason we were there, "Tron: Legacy"!!
The host for all three of these was comedian Patton Oswalt who began by speaking with Robert Zemeckis, as well as doing some Q&A with the audience. Originally after seeing the advanced 1-sheet for "A Christmas Carol" I felt we didn't really need another screen take on this classic story. Especially with Jim Carrey who, even though I like him, has been wearing out his welcome a bit. However, after viewing the extended scenes they showed we were completely blown away by the CG animation! Most notably the eye movements on the characters that were spectacularly life like! Zemeckis even mentioned they had new software that could capture eye movement like never before. Just amazing, and the movie in general looks great!
Next up, Patton introduced "Alice In Wonderland" director Tim Burton who also talked about the film and took some questions, as well as roll out a brand new trailer. The movie stars Johnny Depp, which became an added attraction for the "Twilight" Tweeners. After the trailer ran twice amongst questions from the audience, Patton asked Burton if that was all he had with him. Tim said he did have an imaginary friend who always managed to hang around him who might want to come out. Suddenly Johnny Depp took the stage and the room was filled with blinding flashbulbs and squeals of women everywhere. We were amazed to see Depp as well, whom I never thought would come to something like this. Yet there he was, and all he needed to say (and did say) was a hand full of words, waved to the audience, and exited with Burton. Just a very cool, surprise moment for us and everyone lucky to be there.
Finally the "Tron: Legacy" panel rolled out with it's director, Joseph Kosinski, whose previous work spans commercials and video games, stars Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund, plus "Tron" director Steven Lisberger who is one of the producers on the new film.
They showed several CG stills and artist's renderings from the movie, as well as once again running the teaser trailer I missed at last year's event. This time they showed it in 3D, and we were all mesmerized! Check it out in HD here! They also premiered a cut scene from the real, non-computer world where Kevin Flynn's (Jeff Bridges) son (Garrett Hedlund) enters the original arcade from the first movie, now a boarded up old building. The director said there would be tidbits for fans, and the scene did not disappoint. Inside was recreated the exact layout of Flynn's arcade, including his loft apartment, now covered in sheets and tarps. There's definitely a lot of love and respect for "Tron" going into this movie and it absolutely showed! Here is a full article with details and photos of the conceptual drawings they presented during the panel.
Now it was time to wait out the "Twilight: New Moon" panel and get to the next big event of the day in Hall H: James Cameron's "Avatar"!
With a short introduction, Director James Cameron took the stage to intro the film. But instead of giving a long winded ramp up, he acknowledged that a lot of people online have been calling for some kind of footage, or at least a trailer that seems long overdue less than six months out from the release. So right away we were told that they would be showing 25 minutes of footage from the movie!! The entire room swelled with anticipation.
Once again we donned our 3D glasses to enter the world of "Avatar". There's so much I could say here! But in short, the fully completed, lengthy scenes were spectacular!!! The depth of 3D is truly amazing, and the CG effects and characters are so incredibly lifelike, a level truly never before seen in movie history! Check out this article that fleshes out more of the panel, storyline, and actors working with Cameron and this groundbreaking feature. Even more so, once the footage ran we were SOOOO glad we didn't leave Hall H after the "Tron Legacy" panel!!! We might have never gotten back in and I'd hear about this later and just shoot myself!
Leaving Hall H after 6 hours, we headed for the Exhibit Hall to rendezvous with Bill and see what there was to see. Sandwiches in the room back at the Marriott rounded out our dinner, as we were increasingly trying to conserve money.
Oh but wait, Thursday wasn't over yet! At the end of the "Tron Legacy" panel, they announced that there would be a 'special event' right across from our hotel around 9pm that night. So after dinner, Rebecca and I headed over to find out what the surprise was. It wasn't hard to locate because there were quite a number of people congregating on the sidewalk. As more fans gathered, a couple of event coordinators approached wearing 'Flynn Lives!' T-shirts saying we were all going on a scavenger hunt. If this were a few hours before I would have said, "cool!". But at this point I was a bit worn down by the day's events. I was certainly ready to be wowed, but thought they might be handing out some cool swag instead. I was so wrong, but in a good way. We HAD to do it, so I tried shaking off the sleepiness to get in gear.
Ultimately all the clues we found and documented led us to a line of people waiting outside an actual Flynn's Arcade they had set up a few blocks from the convention center!! Suddenly my sleepiness began to dissipate as my curiosity and excitement arose! Up on the side of a building there was a neon 'Flynn's Arcade' sign just like in the first movie! After a 45 minute wait in line we were finally ushered inside to a re-creation of an 80's video arcade, complete with Asteroids, Centipede, Galaxian, Pac Man, Tetris, as well as Space Paranoids (YES, Space Paranoids from the first movie!) and of course, Tron!!! We took pictures and gleefully played free video games for about twenty minutes!!
Suddenly the lights and music changed. Journey's "Separate Ways" began to play (the song's featured in "Tron Legacy"), and the back wall that the Tron video game was against began to open. A black suited individual motioned us to step through. We began hearing electronic music, and passed by several large artists’ concept drawings for the new Light Cycle featured in the trailer we saw earlier in the day. As I took photos, I heard Rebecca up ahead feverishly calling my name and waving her arm for me to get up where she was. Around the curtain at the end of the hall was a full sized, actual light cycle on a rotating table!!! WE SCREAMED!!! I took a bunch of photos and we began jumping up and down, dancing with excitement at what we'd found!
The Light Cycle was truly beautiful to behold, flanked by two black suited guards.
Watch this video clip a fan shot of the pathway through the back room of Flynn's Arcade which led to the Light Cycle.
Everyone giggled with wonderment upon first sight. It truly was breathtaking! And lastly, the icing on the cake: SWAG! We each collected a free 'Flynn's Arcade' and 'Flynn Lives!' T-shirt along with a 'Flynn Lives!' poster, eagerly showing off our wears to the waiting crowd as we exited the back room of the arcade. I was so happy I shouted to the crowd, "IT IS SOOO WORTH IT!!!". The night was complete! We headed back to the hotel for a much-needed good night's sleep, ready to gear up for the next day...Wow!
Rebecca woke up with a case of food poisoning, and we were both worried she'd have a hard time attending the day's event panels. She decided to take a nap as Bill and I made our way down to the convention center to pick up where we left off. Today was the "District 9" panel with Peter Jackson, and I knew it was important to get in line early for Hall H once again. Being that it was scheduled for early afternoon, I felt there was time to explore the Exhibit Hall a bit more. After about an hour and half I was really feeling like I needed to start doing my time in line. Outside on the grass and concrete area just beyond Hall H, the line was growing fast. I found myself a little ways back, but no worries. Entry to Hall H would be a sure thing. I called Rebecca to see how she felt and to tell her I was nearing the front of the line. She felt good enough to get herself together and head down, which made me very happy! We both did not want to miss Peter Jackson or this highly anticipated presentation.
Right after I got off the phone with her, security came out to say that the hall was full and had been locked down. We'd have to wait for some of the previous panel's attendees to exit before more could enter. This is a standard fire marshall procedure at Comic-Con. Soon Rebecca had joined me in line as we waited in the baking sun. I got quite a burn on the back of my neck but nothing serious. As the crowd behind us waited somewhat patiently, a couple of small white blowup balls began bouncing around the crowd, kind of like beach balls at a concert. Soon there were five and six of them and we began having fun passing the time. Suddenly the crowd for the panel before us began exiting Hall H and we were up.
Waiting through one panel before, we were finally introduced to the producer of "District 9", Peter Jackson. It was great to finally see him in attendance because during a video greeting three years ago he had pledged to get to Comic-Con one day. That day was today, and the crowd greeted him with incredible enthusiasm and anticipation. After explaining that this project was born out of a delay and ultimate shutdown of production on a "Halo" movie, a lenghty extended trailer began to roll onscreen. We got a really good overview of what the story was about, as well as the dark overtones and amazing visuals in the film. This thing is a lot more violent than I realized, and early buzz / reviews have predicted that this will be the sleeper hit of the summer. After seeing the footage, I believe it! Very hard-hitting and very different from anything we've seen in the last number of years.
At the end of the panel we exited Hall H and headed for the Exhibit Hall. Along the way we heard that Flynn's Arcade would once again open that night. Only this time there would be no scavenger hunt. All you had to do was bring a game token for entry. This from a "Tron: Legacy" promotional person who was handing them out near the convention center. WE WERE SO THERE once again!!! Played more video games, took more photos, and stood in awe of the light cycle once again. And of course we had to grab some more swag on the way out the door! God bless it! Oh, and they never took our tokens. So that was a nice little souvenir to hang onto!
But before that, back inside the Exhibit Hall we once again picked up where we left off. As Rebecca decided to head back to the room to try and get over her food poisoning (turned out to be bad leftover salmon), I continued on, coming across the Disney booth where they had the actual costume worn by Bruce Boxleitner in the original "Tron"!!! I was in complete awe, as I snapped off a number of pics on my camera.
Saturday was "Iron Man 2" day! And I wanted nothing better than to get down to the line waiting to enter into Hall H for the 4pm presentation. Yes, it would certainly consume almost the entire day, but this was what it was all about! Rebecca was feeling a little better, but was still having some stomach cramps. She wanted to struggle through those, so we both headed for the elevator, running into Chris from Happy Hour Creative with his son! I introduced them to Rebecca, and he told me they were there for the "Solomon Kane" panel which Happy Hour had cut the trailer for that would be screened. Very cool!
Bill continued to shop and buy stuff in the Exhibit Hall as we moved into the 6,000-seat auditorium once again. First up on the schedule was the "Lost: Final Season" panel which Rebecca's was eagerly awaiting. I'd only watched bits and pieces of the show here and there, but knew enough to enjoy the little hints and upcoming story lines to appreciate what they showed. Not to mention actors Jorge Garcia and Michael Emerson surprising everyone by showing up in the Q&A line to ask show producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof some pointed questions. At the end, they ran a 'in memorium' montage that featured characters who had died during the course of the show. The final character to appear in his own segment was Charlie. The lights dimed, coming up again on Dominic Monaghan onstage, signaling to everyone that we may not have seen the last of him on the show. The crowd went nuts...it was a very emotional moment.
We knew we'd be in Hall H pretty much all day, so with the help of one of Rebecca's friends, also in attendance, we managed to slowly move forward in the room to get as close as possible for the "Iron Man 2" panel a few hours later. The "Solomon Kane" panel rolled out and we saw the trailer Happy Hour had cut, along with some extended scenes from the movie. I was shuttling food into the room from the concession stand right outside the doors, keeping us fed and ready for the main event.
4pm struck! Time for Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr., and just about the entire main cast of "Iron Man 2" to step out on stage! Jon Favreau took the stage first to wild applause, pretty quickly rolling a brief behind the scenes clip of the new movie. It was great, but the audience clearly wanted more. Suddenly Robert Downey, Jr. appeared beside Favreau decrying the footage as bullshit. After singing happy birthday to his son Max in the audience, Favreau smiled at the audience and said 'O.K., let's run the real footage'. We all cheered with enthusiasm!
An incredible extended trailer introduced us to the established and incoming characters of the new film! We got glimpses of Tony Stark's new armor in action, as well as Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke's Whiplash, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, Sam Rockwell, and Don Cheadle's Jim Rhodes...and War Machine in action!!! We all screamed to deafening heights! It was an amazing presentation that will hopefully be up online (officially) in its entirety sometime soon. Favreau then called the rest of the main cast onstage; Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johannsson, and Sam Rockwell. Mickey Rourke could not make it, unfortunately. Halfway through the Q&A, they rolled the trailer once more to crazy cheers from the audience. Only this time you could hear more of the dialogue. The first time, everyone was screaming so much at any little thing happening on screen. It was especially great to see Favreau and Downey, Jr. triumphantly taking the stage again after two years when they were first trying to get the word out about the new Marvel hero in town. Towards the end of the panel we were handed a ticket that was good for some free "Iron Man 2" swag upstairs. We each picked up a T-shirt that had a 'Stark Expo '74' logo on it, pointing to some rumored flashbacks featuring Tony Stark's Father. Just an awesome climax to another amazing day!
The final thing we wanted to see was the director's cut of "Watchmen" with Zach Snyder in attendance doing running commentary. This was certainly a one time event that we had hoped to attend, but unfortunately, like everything else at Comic-Con, the line had started hours before and was capped off literally right in front of us as we tried to find our way to the end. We were disappointed, but realized that since the movie didn't start until 8:30 and had a panel squeezed in first, the movie wouldn't end until 12:30am. A bit past our bedtime since we were even now fairly exhausted.
The final day of the event was a pretty low yield day. Surprisingly, there was no big studio event to end Comic-Con as there had been in the past. Although last year followed this same path. We spent most of our time scanning through the Exhibit Hall, talking to people, snapping photos of cool costumes, and generally having a great time. Suddenly the dreaded announcement came over the PA that 'the Exhibit Hall will be closing in 30 minutes'. So after we made our last round of sections of the main hall, I turned at the door before exiting to bid farewell to another year that almost seemed to end too soon. But once again, was so happy and incredibly grateful to have attended!
Sunday night we decided to finally break away from our economical cautiousness and head up the street for a proper night out on the town with dinner. We headed to our favorite Italian restaurant to consummate the end of our fanboy and fangirl spree of 2009!
To your left you'll find several Comic-Con 2009 links that include video clips of the panels and backstage interviews, as well as my photos in two parts on Flickr. Enjoy!!!