Just days after earning two Golden Globe nods, Mary J. Blige notched another prestigious nomination on Wednesday morning (Dec. 13), earning a …
From Clint Eastwood comes “The 15:17 to Paris,” which tells the real-life story of three men whose brave act turned them into heroes during a highspeed railway ride.
THE 15:17 TO PARIS Trailer
A Movie directed by Clint Eastwood
Release Date : Coming Soon
Genre : Drama
© 2018 – WB
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Nightcrawler in real life!
SHOT IN THE DARK Trailer ✩ Netflix Documentary (2017)
Available now on Netflix
Genre : Documentary
SHOT IN THE DARK Trailer ✩ Netflix Documentary (2017)
© 2018 – ✩ Netflix
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Dust is a YouTube channel for short science fiction movies. Today they are showing George’s Lucas’s 1967 student short-film “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB”
“While monitored and pursued, a man races to escape through a futuristic labyrinth. “Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB” by Star Wars creator George Lucas was the student film that helped launch his film career. Dust is proud to present it to you as part of USC Student Week.”
Lucas had had an idea for a long time “based on the concept that we live in the future and that you could make a futuristic film using existing stuff”. Fellow USC students Matthew Robbins and Walter Murch had a similar idea which Robbins developed into a short treatment, but Robbins and Murch lost interest in the idea, whereas Lucas was keen to persist.
One of Lucas’ USC instructors suggested an opportunity for Lucas to make the short film that he had in mind: since the 1940s, the USC film school had had a working arrangement with the US Navy, whereby Navy filmmakers attended USC for additional study. Teaching the class was not popular amongst USC staff, as the Navy filmmakers often had rigid, preconceived ideas about filmmaking, and sometimes misbehaved in class. But the Navy paid for unlimited color film, and lab processing costs, for their students. Lucas offered to teach the class, and was allowed the opportunity.
The Navy men formed the crew of the film, and some appeared in the cast. Because of the Navy connection, Lucas was able to access filming locations which would not otherwise have been available to him: the USC computer center, a parking lot at UCLA, the Los Angeles International Airport, and the Van Nuys Airport. Much of the filming was done at night, with some at weekends.
The film was completed in 12 weeks, with Lucas editing it on the Moviola at the home of Verna Fields, where he was working during the day editing United States Information Agency films under Fields’ supervision.
Image of George Lucas on the set of “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” provided by Dust
By Rob Hunter
“Mister you don’t know how close you came to getting it!”
Welcome to Missed Connections, a weekly column where I get to highlight films that are little known and/or unfairly maligned. I’ll be shining a light in two directions — I hope to introduce you to movies you’ve never seen and possibly never heard of, and I’ll attempt to defend films that history, critical consensus, and maybe even your own memories haven’t been very kind to.
This week’s pick is a slasher? Kind of? Characters are killed off by a madman with a hatchet, and as would become a common staple for the sub-genre in the following years, the killer’s motivation is one of revenge. Think Prom Night, Terror Train, I Know What You Did Last Summer, but with an older, less attractive roster of victims, and you’ll have a good idea what to expect with 1973’s The Severed Arm. Well, kind of?
Everyone likes getting packages in the mail, but when Jeff receives an arm-long box hand-delivered by the postman he’s shocked by what he finds inside. That’s right, it’s a severed human arm, and he knows exactly who sent it too. A few years prior Jeff and five other men were trapped in a mine after a cave-in. Days and weeks went by without rescue, and as their water supply came to an end the majority ruled that someone had to sacrifice his arm to feed the group. Ted drew the short straw, and despite his protestations the other men held him down and sawed off his arm.
They were rescued a few minutes later.
Ted was understandably pissed, and while he reported what happened the others claimed his arm had to be amputated due to injury. The five men went on with their lives while Ted went in and out of hospitals, but now years later it appears he’s gone missing and is no longer in a forgiving mood. The random human arm in the mail was just a warning, but after the men gather to discuss Ted’s return one of them is attacked and left one arm short. Can the other four find and stop their one-armed assailant before he strikes again? (Nope.)
Tom Alderman‘s The Severed Arm — his second and last feature as director — is an odd little slasher that moves from inspired setup to somewhat simple execution to a bonkers third act, all under ninety minutes. It’s a fun watch, and in addition to a pretty stellar finale it sees a couple beats serve as precursors to two far better-known slashers.
We’re told in no uncertain terms that an angry and disturbed Ted is the killer working his way through the other survivors, but if that’s the case why do we only see the attacker’s feet and hatchet-wielding arm? Suspicious! Enough information is offered early on to leave sharp-eared viewers confident and at least partially correct in their theories, but the eventual reveal is only half the fun. The film takes some interesting and fun turns whether or not you have the killer pegged before the reveal. A plan to lure Ted by making him think one of them is boning his daughter? A Disney joke involving “Beauty and Obese?” A lively score by a composer whose only other films are Messiah of Evil and Kiss of the Tarantula?
The acting and direction don’t do the film any favors, and they’re most likely to blame for its lack of wider praise., but that doesn’t stop it from being something of an inspiration for later slashers. It beats When a Stranger Calls by six years to the “call coming from inside the house” bit — granted, here it’s “the call is coming from inside the radio station,” but still, credit where credit’s due. We even get creepily-voiced phone calls a year before Bob Clark’s Black Christmas… which also featured a killer calling from inside the house. Fans of Stephen King and Clive Barker might even note a minor inspiration for two of their respective short stories (which I won’t identify to avoid possible spoilers).
The Severed Arm may not seem like much at first glance, but it takes hold early on and moves quickly towards a terrifically entertaining final twenty minutes. The mystery reveals itself, the pieces fall into place, and we’re left with a fistful of fun.
Follow along every Monday with Missed Connections — my appreciations of movies that failed to find an audience for one reason or another.
The article ‘The Severed Arm’ Beats Other 70s Slashers to the Punch appeared first on Film School Rejects.
For most of his career, Amir Bar-Lev has been attracted to stories about iconoclasm. At first glance, the Brooklyn-based documentarian’s films may seem like disparate collection of narratives—culled from worlds as diverse as high art (My Kid Could Paint That, 2007), military propaganda (The Tillman Story, 2010) and college sports scandals (Happy Valley, 2014).
But each story is really about one thing: self-perception vs. the identities imposed on you by others. Such themes likewise extend to Bar-Lev’s most recent work, Long Strange Trip—a massive four-hour biography of jam band legends The Grateful Dead.
Initially commissioned to deliver a simple 90-minute rock doc, the project quickly grew as Bar-Lev delved deep into archival materials in an attempt to grasp what made the group, its fans and in particular the band’s reluctant leader Jerry Garcia (who died in 1995) such unique 20th century figures. The result is a dense, discursive portrait of a one-of-a-kind American cultural phenomenon. Long Strange Trip premiered at Sundance earlier this year and is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.
L-R: Amir Bar-Lev, Bob Weir, programmer John Nein, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
We recently spoke to Bar-Lev about what commonalities his subjects share, new distribution methods for nonfiction films and what The Grateful Dead means to him as both a fan and a filmmaker.
Your work has covered a diverse range of topics, from the art world, to the military, to The Grateful Dead. What’s the common theme?
Bar-Lev: I think that theme is the tension between the real world and the symbolic world. If you look at The Tillman Story, it’s the story of a family trying to wrest back the memory of their son from the mythologizing that happens to him after his death. If you look at My Kid Could Paint That, it’s a tug of war between a family and society’s sense of their daughter as a paragon of innocence. My Kid Could Paint That is the myth of the angel, Tillman is the myth of the warrior and Long Strange Trip is the messiah figure.
All these people are to one degree or another outsiders. And they build an iconography around themselves, or someone else does.
Bar-Lev: Trying to live outside of someone’s culture is often a recipe for tragedy, or for your ideas to be yanked back into the culture by cooption. With Garcia, he didn’t want to be a celebrity. He had a lot of mistrust about the notion of rock stardom. And human nature being what it is, we admired that about him and put him up on a pedestal for it, which is precisely the thing he didn’t want.
What was your relationship to The Grateful Dead like before the making of Long Strange Trip?
Bar-Lev: I’ve been [a Deadhead] since I was 13. I think I got the message that The Grateful Dead put out there. Which was: “We want to on a level playing field with you.” I think a lot of Deadheads got that message. We really did feel a sense of ownership around what was happening at Grateful Dead concerts. I don’t set out to make a film because it’s a famous topic or there’s an anniversary or something like that. I always start off by talking about something that’s going on right now. I’ll start talking about Jerry Garcia and what was interesting and authentic about The Grateful Dead. The story of The Grateful Dead is something, I think, that people should consider in our celebrity-obsessed culture. That’s how my connection to The Grateful Dead expressed itself in making this movie.
‘Long Strange Trip’ (2017, dir. Amir Bar-Lev)
How do you earn the trust of your subjects, particularly within a subculture that’s as cloistered at the Grateful Dead’s?
Bar-Lev: I think it starts with acknowledging that people really do have a good reason to be suspicious of documentary filmmakers. I feel like if you get your film to the place where every frame is defensible, then you can sit down on the journey with your subjects with the understanding that there’s almost an inevitable tension between how they wish to be represented and how you’re going to represent them. If you’re a first-time filmmaker, my advice to you is tenacity. Even if the door has been shut in your face, you can wait outside until they have to bring you in because it’s raining. That’s what I’ve done—a lot of hearing “no” and then waiting around until “no” became “maybe” and “maybe” becomes “yes.”
How did you go about organizing your information and deciding on an overall structure for Long Strange Trip?
Bar-Lev: We were [originally] commissioned to make a 90-minute film. We had to make things work in a pretty precise way. And when we did that, we stood back at one point and said, “Oh my gosh, the film is two hours long and it’s only 1974!” So the decision was made to make a four-hour film. As far as structure, there are several times in the film where we break chronology. The reason for that is we put two things on the table that were at odds with one another: we wanted to start at the beginning on the one hand, but we also wanted to make a character-based film in which cutting between people happens infrequently. Occasionally, we had to double back and tell a story that had happened before. One of my editors, Keith Fraase, has spent years working with Terrence Malick, and the churn of material that Malick works with in his most recent films is something we were interested in.
Jerry Garcia in Egypt
I’m curious how companies like Amazon and Netflix have impacted the business, or even the craft, of nonfiction filmmaking.
Bar-Lev: I think those questions are better suited for the producers. Amazon just acquired this film. I don’t really make my partnerships in a deliberate way. I get interested in the subject and I partner with the producer, and the producer has their finger to the wind of where money can be found.
Have you sensed a difference in your audience between your earlier films and now based on the different distribution methods that are out there?
Bar-Lev: I’m never happy with how people see my films. My first few films that were sort of pre-streaming services, they’re hard to find. Then the more recent films… It’s hard to say. Of course I want my films to be seen in theaters. The fact that most people won’t see this film in the theater and are going to see it at home, I guess it makes me a little frustrated. But I can’t do anything about that on a certain level. I’m glad people are seeing it, period.
Lastly, do you have a particular favorite era of The Grateful Dead or a favorite live album or show that you would recommend?
Bar-Lev: I put some of my favorite songs into the soundtrack, and you could get it on Spotify or wherever. But I’m a Europe ’72 man. And I was able to put my favorite “Dark Star” into the film, which is March 1, 1969 at the Fillmore West.
The post Deadhead Documentarian Amir Bar-Lev on the Making of ‘Long Strange Trip’ appeared first on Film Independent.
Remember BB-8, the cute little robot — sorry, droid — from Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Possibly the only part of that movie that Perfume Genius actually liked? Yeah, it’s Thom Yorke’s best friend now. The pair were photographed together on the red carpet at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in … More »
Created by Nicole McDonald and JauntVR, the full immersive app experience Free the Night is now available on Windows Mixed Reality. Read on to learn how its award-winning director made her childhood dream into a reality.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole McDonald, creator of Windows Mixed Reality immersive app experience Free the Night. But while some might bill the app as an interactive film, it would be an understatement to call Nicole simply a filmmaker.
In the 15 years since she began creating in multimedia, Nicole has worn many hats – from that of game designer, to NASA collaborator, to marketing campaign manager for the world’s biggest names, including American Idol, Cirque Du Soleil, and Toyota.
Now, Nicole is channeling her wealth of creative energy towards a new endeavor: the art of storytelling in mixed reality. The latest in a list of interactive films she’s created – many of which have been featured in festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, and SXSW – Free the Night is a collaboration between Nicole and cinematic VR producer Jaunt Studios. Designed exclusively for Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets, the experience enables audiences to place stars back into the sky and watch them glitter and swirl as they reclaim the night.
In celebration of Free the Night’s full release last month, I sat down with Nicole to learn more about the initial spark behind her creation.
What inspired you to create Free the Night?
Nicole: In general, I am deeply inspired by my memories of being a child and childhood.
Free the Night was inspired by the most vivid of these: staring up into the night sky with my family. My father loved the sky and his enthusiasm and wonder of it pulled us all in. He would point out the constellations, and we’d discuss what could be out “there.” We grew up in a teeny tiny town and the sky was magnificent: there were thousands of stars, hints of the milky way, and we once saw a little bit of the aurora.
But sadly, one year, a huge mall was constructed nearby and it washed out almost everything. The amber glow of the parking lot made it impossible to view from our front lawn. It was heartbreaking. I didn’t understand how, or why, someone could do that.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I was watching a fireworks display and thought how amazing it would be to have the same sky that my father introduced to me as the backdrop. I wanted to “blow” out all the lights out around me and… voilà, Free the Night was born.
You come from a background in advertising, filmmaking, and gaming. What led you to mixed reality as the medium for this story?
Nicole: I’ve always been interested in the marriage of narrative and technology, in understanding how innovative tools can enhance traditional storytelling. Mixed reality, to me, is placing the audience physically in the narrative, where they can participate and be moved emotionally by a story. It’s such a wonderful time of exploration, and we now have an audience that is curious, if not craving, these new media and experiences.
What can audiences expect from Free the Night when they put on their headsets?
Nicole: In Free the Night, we become giants in a mountainous landscape, tasked with liberating the stars into the night sky. We need to be able to get low enough to the ground to extinguish the manmade lights of the city and reach high enough to place the stars back into the sky. This requires us to interact with the entire 360-degree virtual space, a range of freedom only afforded in mixed reality. With Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets, our audience has the seamless tracking and full “six degrees of freedom” to actively engage in the narrative and explore all around them.
You mentioned that Free the Night encourages us to use our full 360-degree space with “six degrees of freedom” (6DOF). Can you tell me more about 6DOF for those of us who may be unfamiliar with it, and why you chose to incorporate it in your design?
Nicole: 6DOF is the freedom of movement in 3D space. Six axes of movement allow us interact with objects that are as low as the ground and as high as we can lift our hands – left and right, back and forth… all around us.
With immersive mixed reality, there’s something so delightful about playing with scale and exploring a narrative in 3D space. It challenges us to have new perspective and see and play in ways we haven’t before.
Free the Night has been tagged as both “cinematic” and “interactive” – two qualities that, in conjunction, set the experience apart from your typical film or game. What inspired you to experiment with mixing the two media?
Nicole: Honestly, it started when I was nine years old, in a basic computer coding class. We all worked on monochromatic monitors – the instructor explained that computers would someday show us more colors. Of course, he was describing monitors that would have RGB color profiles, but, at the time, I naively thought he meant that computers would allow us to see more colors than are in our current rainbow. My mind went wild. I made up stories of who and what lived in these unseen colors… What could they do that we couldn’t?
Ever since, I’ve been captivated by using technology as a creative tool. I always ask myself if my concepts allow my audience to see more “colors,” more worlds that we’d never see without the innovations of today. I love exploring how we might profit from experiencing and interacting with these kinds of stories and, most importantly, how can we add joy and wonder to our audience’s lives.
Did you have an ideal audience in mind when you decided to create this experience?
Nicole: Ideally, Free the Night is for everyone. It’s a universal story for human beings, and because it’s for all, I especially wanted it to be an invitation to those who haven’t necessarily found their space, or connection with content, in mixed reality. People sometimes think that mixed reality is just for gaming or 360-degree passive experiences, but I want my projects to be all-embracing interactive experiences – experiences in which everyone is enticed to participate in, rather than be intimidated by, the medium.
What, for you, was most intimidating about creating Free the Night?
Nicole: One of the best and hardest parts of working on interactive experiences is the ice-cream headache you get when you have to find a solution but there is no playbook available. There are so many limitations and unknowns; as creators in this nascent space, we have to be a bit like MacGyver.
For Free the Night, it was how to create the magic of extinguishing light embers in mixed reality. Traditionally, you can only have a small amount of particles on screen at any given time in VR. But we needed thousands, which would have personality and be responsive when we interacted with them. My dev team, led by long-time collaborator KC Austin, figured out how to write a system with compute buffers that allowed the experience to sing.
More generally, the biggest challenge in creating with mixed reality is disrupting our preconceived notions of the medium. People are so often intimidated by the experience they’re about to enter, or nervous that they’re going to do something wrong. We’re so conditioned to approaching this medium as a game, rather than something more. My challenge is getting people to settle in the narrative instead of trying to get the highest score.
Free the Night recently debuted as a demo at the annual Future of StoryTelling Summit in New York. (Congratulations!) After months of working round-the-clock, what was it like finally seeing your demo premiere?
Nicole: It was pinch-worthy. We had had our heads down working for a few months, so to see the general public instilled with the awe for which I’d hoped was a dream come true.
My favorite response was that of a peer who tried Free the Night for the first time at the Summit. As she took off the headset, her eyes welled with tears. She told me how she had been transported to her own childhood and was filled with the same wonder I’d been way back when. It’s because of reactions like this that I can’t wait for everyone to experience the full project this month.
If there’s one idea or impression you hope audiences take away from the full version of Free the Night, what would it be?
My hope is that people feel more connected to the world when their headsets comes off – that by experiencing Free the Night, they are enticed to look up a little bit more often – and that they truly understand that we are the magic and Earth is Eden.
We’ve talked a lot about your journey in making this childhood dream into a reality. Looking back, what advice do you have for someone aspiring to create an immersive experience as aesthetic and emotionally inspiring as Free the Night?
Nicole: Oh, my… Well, first, for those who want to create in the space, it’s extremely difficult and thus can be extremely fortifying. Before you begin, ask yourself what you want your audience to feel or take away from the experience. Try to understand how the idea will blossom in the medium; take advantage of what you can do inside mixed reality that you can’t do in traditional linear 2D displays. Don’t be afraid of limitations; you can execute the essence of ideas in many ways. Always, always storyboard, create animatics, and test and play.
For those new to MR, please, don’t be intimidated. There is no right or wrong way to create an interactive experience. Get comfortable; look around at your environment before trying to rush through it. Approach everything with the wonderment you had as a child.
One last question, Nicole, before I let you go… Now that Free the Night is officially on Windows Mixed Reality, what’s next?
Nicole: Surfing and yoga… haha. But really, I’ll be working on the full experience for HUE, an interactive film about a man named Hue who has lost his ability to see color. In this touch-based tale, he is reactive to our presence and touch like a living breathing being. We help Hue find his “full spectrum” by aiding him to see the everyday joy around him and his own potential to be wonderful.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story, Nicole, and congratulations, again, on creating such a breathtaking experience. I can’t wait to try “Free the Night” again this week!
Free the Night is available from the Microsoft Store. Download it for free on your PC and plug in your headset to experience the magic of Windows Mixed Reality… and stay tuned for our next installment of Making mixed reality.