Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year.... one and all from Times Square to Hollywood!!! We're sitting here watching Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper about to ring in 2012. Here comes the best year yet and I'm SO READY!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: officially the biggest and best year of my career!

About to enter 2012 and looking back on these last twelve months, the year that has been 2011 will stand as the jewel in the crown of my aspirations and dreams in going back to school and ultimately coming to LA. Here I am at In Sync Advertising, on staff at a top trailer house cutting top studio broadcast spots and trailers, continuing to feel a sense of being so very lucky and so very blessed that I set out on a particular path and arrived at this destination.

I know this is echoing my gi-normous post in October when it all became official. But now at the end of this monumental year in my career I have to take the time to stop once again and reflect. In fact I'm not only doing what I love, but now maintain a real sense of financial security that had only peaked a hand full of times over the past decade.

A little under a year from now will be the tenth anniversary of the very first trip I made to LA and the ten interviews I went to at the beginning of my migration to the West Coast. With the exception of the horrifically unstable 2009, each year has been a step forward and a step up. The step this year was much more than that. It truly was a giant leap!

I also can't forget how much Happy Hour Creative influenced my career as well. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be at In Sync. I am so very appreciative that they offered me the huge number of projects they did, where the marathon of work continued all the way from April of 2010 to the transition here this past July.

2012 begins with me ready to take on Hollywood's biggest movies with pride and an incredible sense of creative fun!

The DVD load continues!

On November 18 I began loading all of my DVDs onto a hard drive for the easiest of access and taking the DVD case out of the loop in my movie viewing prep. Due to the size of my collection and the fact that each average 7.9 GB disc takes between 20 to 30 minutes to load (some smaller sizes can take around 10), that process continues a little each night after work, sometimes one or two in the morning when I'm getting ready, and some full strings on the weekends depending on how busy our social calendar is on a particular Saturday or Sunday.

After getting about a third of the way through my collection I discovered an even better DVD ripper software than Mac The Ripper. It's called Mac DVDRipper Pro and turned out to be a much more efficient way of consolidating Video TS files. Basically packaging everything into one convenient file icon that you only need double click to begin playing content.

Mac The Ripper does a fantastic job and continues to be a standard. But not only did MDRP neaten the entire process and become my go-to ripper, it also got past an annoying copy bug on the "Dark Knight" DVD. A continuous error message had me turning to user boards for help, learning that there was indeed a copy wall encoded on all "TDK" discs. Someone suggested MDRP as the fix and after happily discovering this wonderful new software I've been using it exclusively ever since. Even going so far as to begin re-importing that first third of my collection already loaded. This is the reason for the time extension.

Right now I'm about fifty titles away from being completely done. Figure if I can load five a night and an untolled number over a weekend it should take me less than a week to finish. God!! Who knew!! BUT...when I'm done, there's nothing to stand in my way of crazy / immediate accessibility to all of my DVDs with one click. I'll even be able to enjoy movies I might have thought twice about watching in the past just because of the logistics of opening unwielding box sets just to get the discs out!

And BTW, in the beginning when I mentioned "Blade Runner": Deckard's Briefcase as being the benchmark to what you CAN'T just download online?.....IT'S IN!!

New addition to the 10th Box

Decided to give myself and the 10th Box Cinema a Christmas gift; two polished brass theatre stanchions with a velvet rope between. Check off another accessory from my ultimate home movie experience wish list! Click on the image for a bigger version or head to my 10th Box set on Flickr to see a different angle.

I have these set up right outside and leading towards the entryway. Definitely adds class, as well as that all important crowd control aspect, to the very short hallway that brings you to the concessions area (a stand is next on my list) and finally the 'auditorium'.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Golden Globe Award nominations: my humble take

The Golden Globe nominations have been announced and, as usual, I want to pipe in a bit. Not too much to rave and/or rant about this year, but some very cool acknowledgements all the same.

The very top of my list is Albert Brooks Best Supporting Actor nod for "Drive". Absolutely a very different and very dark role for him. Almost a Quentin Tarantino-like career changing turn. I'd love to see him get this, but I think Kenneth Branagh's superb take on Sir Laurence Olivier in "My Week With Marilyn" will bring home the prize, which I also agree would be perfect.

"The Artist" is the top nominated film this year and I have to say the film is excellent. My review will be up shortly. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo both turn in exceptional performances with out uttering a word (well almost). The movie will most likely win in the Best Picture catagory.

Michelle Williams has to and will win for completely and uncannily disappearing into the role of Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn". The Oscar will be hers as well I have no doubt.

I keep reading people's responses to the somewhat questionable nominations of George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama and I tend to agree. Even though I still have not seen either "The Descendants" (not a great urge) or "J. Edgar" (keep hearing it's pretty bad) but I wonder, along with everyone else, why Andy Serkis' incredible performance in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" seems to be falling through the cracks. Would love to see The Academy break out from the norm and say 'yes, Andy is nominated even though you never see him in the flesh on screen'.

Kristen Wiig was nominated for "Bridesmaids" which is pretty damned cool! She was great! Only problem is Melissa McCarthy should have easily been as well.

BTW, why wasn't "Drive" nominated for Best Picture as well? That seems like a pretty big gaping hole. Still need to do a review of that awesome flick. Ryan Gosling is nominated in two catagories as Best Actor for "The Ides Of March" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Again...hello, "Drive"!

Ricky Gervais is back again as host and once again I will say I was never offended by his banter and take-downs. But yes, they did induce some major gasps. Why did the HFPA bring him back with such continued controversy. Hmmm, could it be.....RATINGS?! He'll definitely be the wild card of the night similar to watching the hilarious train wreck of Kathy Griffin hosing Anderson Cooper every New year's Eve.

Can't say that I've ever really been in tune with the TV nominees but I'll definitely be rooting for one of the very best shows on the air right now, "Modern Family".

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The four day mid-holiday work week

I am back to work after a wonderful Christmas weekend. Not sure what I'll be cutting on this week although we do have some Academy Award 'for your consideration' spots that are being done.

This super short (feeling) week will see me ramping into our trip back to Albany for five days surrounding New Year's Day and into the first week of 2012. Looking forward to visiting with my Mom and seeing friends for lunch, etc. Definitely a fun trip for Rebecca and I with the inclusion of some major snow over the weekend. Definitely ready for my once a year brush with real white stuff!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas goodies and The Marathon

Christmas Day was filled with wonderful gifts framed by the "A Christmas Story" marathon and a full day of just relaxing with Rebecca.

The one difference of Ralphie's adventures?; I got rid of cable TV long ago. So how were we going to enjoy it? By taking the file from the DVD via Mac DVDRipper Pro and playing it looped on my computer. No annoying commercials every ten minutes, no trimmed scenes to make room for even more, no fuss, no muss, no excessive crap. Just a completely pure "ACS" movie marathon. Plus, we could actually decide not only when it would start but how long it would last. Turned out I started the movie for the first time at 1pm Christmas Eve and it ran all the way through late last night, having us run it one more time this morning.

One of the great things is that this Christmas has been shared completely at my place with the tree and gifts around it. The past couple of years I was either packing boxes back east to finish getting the last of my stuff out here or at one of the places Rebecca house sits. Now it was waking up Christmas morning in my own home to enjoy the holiday that way that means 'home for the holidays' to me the most!

Today I'm arranging opened gifts under the tree, cleaning up a bit, and continuing to load DVDs onto the hard drive...yes, I'm still at it! But the light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!

Hope everyone on both the West and East coast as well as those checking in here from around the world have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season! So much to be thankful for this year and a true sense of security wraps around everything during this final week of 2011. My yearly wrap-up of incredible events from the past twelve months is coming in a few days!

Friday, December 23, 2011

An ample workload of cool projects....and my first full-on trailer!

A lot has been happening at work and the parade of very cool studio films continues, including one highly anticipated movie from next summer.

The Golden Globe nominations (which I'm about to finally comment on in one of my next posts) spurned a flurry of award-geared spots for "My Week with Marilyn" which I was a part of. A broadcast spot for "Red Tails" went to finish so there's another project I can now mention. I have it in hand and will be posting shortly. Another movie coming out in early Spring has seen me cutting two broadcast spots for (to be revealed later).

Now here's the BIG news!

I CAN NOT mention the title of this highly anticipated movie coming out next summer, but we were given it by the studio to cut broadcast spots. Despite what they ordered, my boss very much wants to give them a trailer and gave one of the editors here the task of creating something completely without direction or inspiration. I've had a lot of down time over the past two weeks due to the looming end-of-year holidays so I took it upon myself to go in and ask if I could take a crack at cutting one myself. Keep in mind that I started here at In Sync working on broadcast spots with the thought that if I did great with those they'd move me into trailers as well. He said 'yes' to my request and was glad to see me taking the initiative.

After making my first cut, and not only putting my passion for the project but also my desire to be noticed here for what I could expansively create, I waited with baited breath for the creative director and my boss (who was now watching from his holiday vacation location) to check out my trailer.

The response was amazing!

They both felt I'd done a really affective, perfectly paced, seriously creative job! With only three extremely minor changes, the second cut was uploaded for approval. First thing in the morning yesterday I received a text from my boss: 'love the trailer, dude. Great sound design'. Keep in mind this is all before it goes out the door for the studio to see. During a conference call later in the day my boss echoed his text, saying I did a fantastic job while cutting my trailer teeth here at In Sync. This is a major turning point for me just six months after arriving here.

From all the positive feedback I've received over the past couple of days (including some of the other editors, etc.) I know I've proven to them that I can also be handed trailers to cut as well as broadcast spots. Not that I had any doubt that this would come to pass. I'm just really glad I took the initiative to step forward and say 'let me do this'. And the really interesting thing is I just learned that another editor here did the exact same thing about a year ago, so the path I chose was perfect.

Now, two trailers have been submitted for studio approval. One from me and one from the editor who was originally handed the project. Not sure when exactly we'll hear any feedback being that this is the week before Christmas and certainly a lot of people are on vacation. Whatever happens, the main thing is I grabbed my boss' attention for sure!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Arthur Christmas" review: crazy-cool, fun-filled and inventive!

First off, "Arthur Christmas" is produced by Aardman Animations who brought us the fantastically funny "Wallace and Gromit" Oscar nominated shorts. That flair for comedy and style is evident in every frame of this serously fun holiday movie about how Santa Claus is actually a family name passed down from generation to generation starting with the very first St. Nicholas.

The current Santa, wonderfully voiced by Jim Broadbent, is a WWII-era Claus right down to his British grenadiers-like uniform and English round-faced Mrs. Claus. The next in line for the red suit is son Steve (Hugh Laurie) whose complete technically-assisted Christmas Eve control center is a miracle to behold. There's so much to see as thousands of commando-like elves descend from a super charged Santa sleigh that looks more like an alien spacecraft to precisely deliver gifts to 9 million children in one night. In fact these scenes are one of several reasons we want to go back and see it a second time in 3D (remember we're kinda done with the format).

Steve's mentality is to get the job done efficiently with zero mistakes. But the one thing he's missing is heart. That's where Arthur (James McAvoy) comes in, the second son of the current Claus, whose in charge of letters sent to Santa by all the children of the world. Finding that a child has been missed when it comes to delivering a very special bike, Arthur takes it upon himself to get that child her gift with the help of the previous, now grandpa Santa Claus who stays at home and watches the entire operation on TV. He's one of the funniest characters in the movie and is comedically voiced by the always fun to watch and hear Bill Nighy.

The animation is amazing, the story is fresh and the characters endearing, right down to the young faux hawk-haired, gift wrapping specialist female elf whose motto is 'it's never too late to wrap a package'. This is an epic adventure and a unique tale of how Santa and his elves take on the world on Christmas Eve. Definitely see it in the theatre and I wanna say, even before we do, you should check this one out in 3D!

"Tower Heist" review: hilarious caper movie and the return to form of Eddie Murphy

Ben Stiller is the straight man to Eddie Murphy's "48 Hours" era character in this funny heist story about a billionaire (Alan Alda) who defrauds everyone in the prestigious New York residential building he has a luxury apartment in. Stiller is the building manager who decides to rob Alda of money he has hidden in his apartment as payback to his fellow employees.To ensure success he enlists the aid of cat burglar / thief Murphy to help engineer the robbery.

The movie is directed by 'why don't you shut up while you're ahead!' Bret Ratner who brings his "Rush Hour" mentality to a movie that will appeal to newer audiences as well as fans of 80's icons Murphy and Matthew Broderick as a bankrupt ex-tenant. The heist is unique, the laughs are great and the cast is wonderfully diverse from Gabourey Sidibe's Jamaican maid to Michael Peña's edgy elevator operator. Plus, there's something very familiar about Matthew Broderick, a red Ferrari and a parade....but you have to see the movie to find out how all those things intersect.

Since starting work on several broadcast spots for "Tower Heist" beginning in September, it was nice to finally see the finished movie when we went to the Arclight Dome recently. At the point where I was watching the movie for the very first time to do my cut there were several green screen shots missing. This is definitely a big blowout fall comedy you should see on the big screen!

"The Muppets" review: a really fun, nostalgic through-back!

How can anyone not love The Muppets!...and this movie will definitely take you down memory lane to a time when "The Muppet Show" was in it's heyday.

Jason Segel and Amy Adams are both really funny, especially Segel since seeing him in other more adult comedic fare. But they really do take a back seat to Kermit and friends once the story gets rolling. True, the voices of Kermit and Miss Piggy are no longer done by Jim Henson's son Brian and Frank Oz (the latter I was particularly disappointed to learn). However, the current crop of voice talent do a mostly excellent job of emulating these iconic characters.

Several songs were written by Bret McKenzie, one half of Flight of the Conchords, including 'Now Life is a Happy Song' and there's buzz going around town right now that he and the tune will be nominated for an Oscar. 'Happy Song' is definitely one of the musical dance number highlights.

So many familiar characters dot the screen as well as a few new ones like Segel's brother in the film who also just happens to be a Muppet himself. I'd really have to say that younger moviegoers may not fully enjoy this movie as much as those in it for the nostalgia. Even some of the montage songs are straight out of the 80's. And hey, with a movie that has Chris Cooper doing a rap song you know anything can happen! What else can I say? If you loved the classic "The Muppet Show" go see this movie!