Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Movie Expectations

If you've seen or talked to me in the past week then my disdain for the new Indiana Jones movie is no secret. While I have a great analysis of the film after many conversations and debates, I'll spare you the essay. (Ask me in person or comment below if you'd care to hear/discuss.)

The question I almost always get asked when I dislike a movie is: what were you expecting? As if my standards are set to high or that I've become cynical and jaded. No, I WANTED to love this film as I go into EVERY film rooting for it, hoping it doesn't let me down. Nowadays, they rarely don't.

Was I expecting this film to be better than Raiders of the Lost Ark? Absolutely not. That movie is lightning in a bottle. But when a film is being developed for 19 years, has draft after draft of scripts written by industry heavyweights (Frank Darabont - Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Jeff Nathanson - Catch Me if You Can, David Koepp - Jurassic Park, Spider-Man 1 & 2), has hundreds of millions of dollars at it's disposal, and is a collaboration of the four BEST filmmakers (Spielberg, Lucas, Ford, and Williams) in all of the WORLD, I expect something great and I have every right to.

Have we become so barraged with crap that our expectations have plummeted? Have we become so used to flimsy and heartless stories with computer effects that we now applaud mediocrity? Should the slightly above average Iron Man be the new gold standard? Should we give Indy the thumbs up simply because "it was fun?" 19 years, millions of dollars, best of the business, and all they were able to provide was some fun for 120 minutes? Even my dog could accomplish the same feat. And while it may sound cliche, the ticket price of a movie has skyrocketed and the mild amusement aint worth it anymore. (Get those tickets back down to five bucks and you'll see expectations drop real quick.)

No, I believe films, filmmakers, and filmgoers need to set their sights a bit higher. Outrageous resources, large enough to change the course of small nations, are poured into these projects and people. To whom much is given, much is expected.

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Trailer and Facebook Group

Captain Blasto is now on Facebook. You can join the group at

Also, the new trailer to the upcoming web series is up and running in Quicktime on the official site,

Episodes 1 & 2 will be premiering soon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Man's Land

At festivals, talking with other filmmakers and audience members, the question of the day is usually, "What are you hoping is going to happen with your movie?" Nine out of ten times the answer is some sort of distribution deal. Over the last few years, ever since Robert Rodriguez busted open the indie dream with a $7,000 film, there's been an surge of low, micro, and no budget films all competing for that grand distribution prize. But I believe that well has run dry. Big budget films are having a hard enough time competing with one another, along with video games and video on demand, and are given just over a week before being yanked away to DVD. Why in the world would studios take a risk on some low budget independent film? Speed Racer is losing money. George Clooney's Leatherheads was a whisp of smoke, here one second, gone in an instant. What hope do the little films have?

Here's more proof, via Indiepix blog:

  • ThinkFilm, in a financial crises having overpaid for films that it can’t make money on in distribution, sells its catalog to a Canadian investor/speculator.
  • New Line Cinema, respected for its having pioneered “edgy” films into the mass market, is closed by Warner Bros; 450 jobs in NY and LA lost.
  • Picturehouse, run by top indie film distributor Bob Berney, is closed by Warner and titles folded into the studio.
  • Warner Independent, the so-called “independent” arm of Warner managed by a former studio exec, Polly Cohen, is closed and folded into the studio.
  • Cablevision, owner of the IFC channel, successfully bids an estimated $500 million for the Sundance Channel, now controls all cable presentation of independent film.
  • Discovery Networks, after purchasing rights to and then declining to show “Taxi to the Dark Side“, Discovery is rumoured to be closing their independent film activity and may cut back on their support of Silver Docs.
Another example. Let's look at two projects.

Captain Blasto. Took three years to make. Cost $7,000, an additional $2,000 to have DVD's pressed, and roughly $1000 in advertising. To submit to a single film festival costs approx. $45, and we've easily spent hundreds on entering countless fests. If you're not accepted, that money just disappears. If you are accepted you now pay airfare, hotel, food, transportation, etc. A successful screening ends up being approx. 100 - 200 people. Often times that number lingers more around 40, and I've seen as low as 12. All that money for a few dozen people? Well, maybe there's a producer/distributor on the hunt at least. At Sundance sure, to bid on that William H. Macy movie he heard great things about, but they're not at the other eight zillion festivals looking for that goofy film from Munhall. In total, I estimate that approx. 3,000 - 5,000 people have seen Blasto in it's entirety.

Luigi Story. Made in just over two weeks. Cost $100 for some overalls and fake mustaches. Posted to YouTube and advertised the link on a handful of video game blogs. Currently the short has been seen on various sites by over one million people.

Times are changing. The new distribution model, whether it is video on demand or internet, has not solidified itself. We're entering a new season where people are going to be trying all sorts of stuff. Some will work, most won't. I know I've been giving my next project A LOT of thought. What is the best end product? Direct to DVD? Digital download? Web series?

Welcome to no man's land.

The Best Picture Ever Taken

Ben sent me this today. Can you imagine being the store teller that rings up Harrison Ford buying Indiana Jones toys?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Review: Speed Racer

I haven't kept my reservations and apprehensions towards the Speed Racer movie secret. Just a few posts ago I wrote that it looked a little too "Spy Kids" for me. Saw the movie on an opening day matinée and I have to admit, it's fantastic! Much better than Iron Man, which is the buzz movie at the moment. It was so good I had to see it again the very next day, and I'm sure they'll be at least another viewing before this ducks out of theaters. Very few films have surprised me like that.

I often complain about filmmakers taking cartoons/comics and changing them to the point where it doesn't resemble the original cartoon in any way shape or form (Transformers or the upcoming G.I. Joe for example.) This film is literally a translation of the cartoon to the screen, down to the tiniest detail. It's not the cartoon adapted into a real world. It's an original universe with races that seem born out of Mario Kart rather than Nascar.

The producers have been marketing this film completely wrong. They continuously show all these candy coated trailers of cars flying around, and while those scenes are INFINITELY better on screen (and in context) than they appear in the trailers, there's a lot more to this movie then CGI cars. I was shocked by the strong theme of family throughout this film, especially scenes between Speed, Rex, and their father Pops.

I have to warn you though, while this movie gets my highest recommendation (something I don't do too often on here) I don't think everyone will like this movie. But there's an easy test. The first 7 minutes of the film is online (embedded below.) These opening scenes capture the film perfectly. If you like what you see, you'll love the film.
Click here to watch.

UPDATE: I've been getting lots of e-mails asking, "Are you seriously recommending this movie?" The short answer: absolutely. The long answer: while this movie does have it's problems (especially a rather slow second act), the first act, the third act, and lots of great scenes peppered throughout the second act overcome all it's faults.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Captain Blasto: The Series

Finally able to post the news.

Early this summer you'll be seeing Blasto in a new form, a web series. We've cut the film down into 5-8 minute episodes which will be released online each week for absolutely free through both the main site and iTunes. We've also taken the time to do some color correction, so Blasto will look better than it ever has. (Or maybe we'll go the George Lucas route and throw a bunch of CGI creatures singing into the Lock and Key Heist.) On top of that we're trying to offer some new content for long time Blasto fans in the form of previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage.

Why are we doing it? Simple really. We'd like it to be seen by as many people as possible.

I'll keep ya posted with details in the very near future. If you haven't picked up a DVD yet, the original cut will remain on sale through the main site until the series premiere in June. All future DVD sales will be of the new, shorter cut, with older footage as a deleted scenes special feature. Supplies of the original cut are incredibly limited (50 or so left) so if you'd like to own a copy, I suggest ordering soon.