Monday, April 28, 2008

Never Again

This morning I got up early to get alot of work done on a current project. After 6.5 hours of work, without a single break, my computer froze for the fifteenth time. The project file became corrupted and everything I had done was lost.

I will NEVER do another film project on a Windows computer again. Never.

My apologies to the basket of blankets in the corner of our bedroom which suffered the wrath of Microsoft's incompetence.

"On the other hand..."

Friday, April 25, 2008


Been writing all this week which means there's dozens of index cards lining our apartment floor. It's basically like a giant puzzle. So far the story has a REALLY strong first act, a pretty solid third act, and lots of great ideas in the second act that don't quite connect to one another just yet. I have to play around with the placement of current ideas, constantly contribute new ideas, and toss out ideas that no matter how much I may like them, just don't seem to be working.

Mercury Men is a tricky story to tell only because I know beforehand the production will have limited resources. It'd be easy to write, "the Employee dives through the sparkling window, catching the leg of the hovering helicopter moments before plunging to the street below," but making a scene like that happen is impossible. Therefore I have to force myself to come up with creative action sequences based in an office environment. No, our lowly office employee can't hang from the bottom of a helicopter, but what if he was attacked inside a small elevator without a weapon or an escape? That can be just as intense.

I also have to keep telling myself to keep the story incredibly simple. I decided to pursue this film strictly because it can be made cheap and quickly. I don't want it to get bogged down with a complicated story. Mercury Men is more of a fable or fairy tale. A simple story of a man who needed the very moon to come crashing down before he'd change his life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lucas and Spielberg Interview

Okay I lied. One more bit of geeky news.

Caught this interview in Entertainment Weekly and the opening question sets things off wonderfully. I can't imagine an answer to a question capturing George Lucas any better.

EW: So why resurrect Indy after all these years?

GEORGE LUCAS: We're doing it to have fun. We're not doing it to say, Oh, we're gonna get an Academy Award, everybody's gonna love us.... We don't need the money. We're only going to get aggravation. The fans think it's gonna be the Second Coming. And it's not the Second Coming. They've already written the story [in their heads], and lemme tell ya, it's not that story. So they're going to be very disappointed. I went through this with Phantom Menace. Believe me, I've been there, I've done it, I know exactly the way they react. And they're very vocal about these things. We're not gonna have adoring fans sending us e-mails saying how much they loved the movie. We're gonna have a bunch of angry people saying, ''You're a bunch of a--holes, you should never have done this. You've ruined my life forever. I loved Indiana Jones so much and now it's ruined.'' And all that kind of stuff.

STEVEN SPIELBERG: Uh, he needs to speak for himself here. [Laughter all around] You need to put in parentheses ''George Lucas is totally speaking for himself.'' And I absolve myself of any connection with that last statement about fans not liking it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Day to Day

Figure I ought to take a break from writing about my thoughts on geeky movies and talk a little business here. The number one question I get asked lately is, "What are you working on now?" Well here's the skinny.

The Mercury Men feature adaptation. I began converting the Mercury Men short into a feature length project which takes a bit deeper into the Employee's life and the world of "The League." Think Die Hard meets Flash Gordon. It's a simple and fun film that can be shot in two weeks with a minimal budget. Planning on filming this before the end of the year.

For those of you who have yet to see the Mercury Men short, send me an e-mail at and I'll send ya a link.

Production Company. A few months ago I finally formed a production company, Mercury Men Pictures, to finance/produce small budget shorts, features, and web content. It's over at The company is developing the Mercury Men feature and an untitled short project. It's long overdue, but anyone that knows me knows I'm not Mr. Businessman so I've been dragging my feet.

Captain Blasto project. I hate to be mysterious, but unfortunately I can't go into details on this just yet. I'll break word on here very soon. What I can say is Blasto will be coming in a new format and I'm pretty excited to see how it pans out.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Speed Racer

I am a big fan of the 60's Speed Racer cartoon. It used to play back-to-back with Johnny Quest (another CP favorite) when I was kid. While the show was cheaply made by constantly reusing shots and backgrounds in a different order, it had a good concept, unique style, and a fantastic show intro and theme song. I loved that each race took place in some perilous location like the inside of a volcano. On top of that, Speed was just in it to win, while EVERY OTHER racer was there to kill him. No wonder his car needed giant hidden buzz saws. Just look at that terrified expression on his face. I'd look like that while driving too, only without the scarf.

Since the cartoon holds a special place in my DVD collection, I'm a little apprehensive about the upcoming Speed Racer movie, which I'm sure you don't find too shocking. First what I like:

Michael Giacchino's soundtrack. He's the composer responsible for the Incredibles (one of the best soundtracks in the last 10 years). I got to sample some of his score today and it's FANTASTIC. To hear the theme music with a full roaring orchestra is already worth the ticket price.

The car. No doubt about it, that's the Mach 5. Forget Knight Rider, Connery's Aston Martin, or the Batmobile, the Mach 5 is the only car I'd ever plunk down millions for.

John Goodman as Pops Racer. Not only does he look spot on, but Goodman will always hold a special place in my heart after that episode of Roseanne where he throws everything out of the house.

And now the bad. While I love the fact they're going "cartooney" with the look of the film, it just all looks a little too Spy Kids for me. Each frame of this movie is so "busy" it's just a hair away from being a Magic Eye picture. As opposed to cramming the screen with as many CG elements as possible I'd think a simpler, colorful, 60's cartoon look would fit the film. The entire cartoon was about simplicity. They couldn't afford to load up the screen with tons of elements they didn't have the time or manpower to animate.

All that being said I'll reserve judgment until I've actually seen the film. And I am pulling for it. I really want it to be fun. In the meantime, there's always this:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Henry Jones Jr.

Dr. Jones on the Big Screen
I saw the trailer to the new Indiana Jones film on the big screen for the first time last week. While watching it I had a sad realization. I have never seen an Indiana Jones film in a theater. I was alive for all three films, but for some reason or another my grandfather or mother never took me to see them. I absolutely loved the films as a kid, but that came by television as the movie of the week. (I clearly remember struggling to watch the dinner scene in Temple of Doom which is terrifying to a 7 year old.) The only times I've ever seen Indy on the big screen was the Last Crusade trailer back in early '89 and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls last week.

While that is a sad confession to make, it also brought to light something very exciting. On May 22nd, like many children born post-1989, I will get to see an Indiana Jones film in theaters for the very first time.

"When I'm hanging from the back of a truck I like to eat..."
This morning I discovered that my box of Cocoa Krispies were covered with images of a fedora clad Harrison Ford swinging the whip. Inside was a spoon that looks like a temple column complete with snakes, vines, and cracked stone skulls. Isn't it fantastic that rather than talking trucks, teenage wizards, or CGI animals we get new Harrison Ford merchandise for a while? It's good to have him back.

Short Round
My 7 year old brother Peter got an Indiana Jones Lego set for Christmas which has sparked a new interest in the old grave robber. It follows Indy through the temple in the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark and includes every single booby trap from the film. (It even comes with the bi-plane complete with Jock the pilot and his pet snake Reggie, which sounds perverted when typed out like that.) In preparation for the new film we watched the three originals this past weekend. It was fantastic to see him experience them for the first time. He would hide his face as the Ark melted the Nazi faces. He couldn't wait to see the chilled monkey brains. And the questions he would ask were fantastic. "Why are the bad guys trying to get Jesus' cup?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blasto Poster Pt. 3

Finally got around to finishing up that Captain Blasto poster I started working on for my brother last year.And here's the first pencil sketch from September '07.

Friday, April 04, 2008


As part of my recent obsession with space I've been watching some old Disney Tomorrowland films. Tonight there was a great film about Walt's original design for EPCOT (embedded below), which was light years away from what it is today. Walt envisioned it as a city of the future, home to over 24,000 people. EPCOT is actually an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

While in hindsight it's easy to look back on such an idea as a bit grandiose and out of reach, but I was shocked to discover just how much time, passion, and especially resources were devoted to the project. This was an endeavor that utilized many of America's largest corporations working together and would have cost billions of dollars. Billions, on some grand dream of a city of the future? Can you imagine? Unfortunately Walt died in the early planning stages and what resulted is the place you see today, some lame "science" park with rides about the body or fossil fuels.

There seemed to be a lot of grand ideas like EPCOT in the first half of the twentieth century. There were World Fair's highlighting the great dreams of the world's future which have left us little more than the Eiffel Tower. Even the films of the time seemed to be so incredibly hopeful and optimistic of where mankind would find itself in the later half of the century. Not only did we dream big, we actually devoted ourselves to achieving them. Hell, we made it to the moon in under a decade. I can't help but wonder, where has that gone? No, I don't expect us to have flying cars, rocket packs, pill dinners, or any of the other outlandish predictions, but has our ability to dream on that scale died? Could a place like Tomorrowland be built today? I sure wish it were so.

In closing, a fantastic quote from Ray Bradbury.

“I came back from Paris one time about ten years ago, went to Disneyland, and I looked at the side of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and I called John Hench over at Imagineering, and I said, ‘I noticed something about Sleeping Beauty’s Castle: there’s a spire there that I saw last on top of Notre Dame in Paris! I said, ‘How long’s that been there, on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle?’ He said, ‘20 years.’ I said, ‘Who put it there?’ He said, ‘Walt did.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ ‘Because he loved it.’

I said, ‘Ah! That’s why I love Walt Disney.’ It cost $100,000 to build a spire you didn’t need! That’s the secret of [Walt] Disney, is doing things you don’t need and doing them well, and then you realize you needed ‘em all along."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Two VCR's

Nearly all filmmakers can trace their love of movies back to telling really bad, really funny stories as children on Super 8 or VHS camcorders with their friends as actors. I personally have a whole bin full of awful and hysterical old films. I know some of you out there will remember Lighthouse Superheroes, BR, Youth TV, and the ORIGINAL Captain Blasto episodes.

Curt sent me this great little showcase of childhood filmmaking, complete with some hysterical gore and kung fu fighting. My favorite part is to see how he had to do post-production and edit. I'm sure there's many filmmakers out there, myself included, who worked there editing magic with two VCR's.

Be warned the video drops a few f-bombs in the beginning, so I wouldn't have the volume too loud if you're at work.