Category Archives: Jaap’s section

Rebels on the Backlot Presentation Summary

I’m terribly sorry for the tardiness, I’ve had this this whole time i promise I just completely forgot to upload it as instructed. I was supposed to present this in class but came to class 15 minutes late and missed my allotted time-slot.

Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman

Spike Jonze

Being John Malkovich. Began under Polygram entertainment.

-Producer Lance Acord fended off Producing Chief Matt Kuhn.

-Eventually, in early 1999, Matt Kuhn lost his job. Polygram sold to USA films.

-Did not hear from execs in months. Malkovich was project under USA films under Universal.

-Jonze used the same key crew members he had used for all his previous work.

-Low-key and relaxed atmosphere. Jonze’s brother a PA.

-Tunnel carted 6 different locations.

-First assembly 4 hours long.

-Took 9 months to edit as Jonze went on to act in Three Kings.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura

-Mid 1990s, Traditional blockbusters started becoming less cost-effective. Rising star pay-checks.

-A co-head of production at Warner Bros.

-Opened doors for The Wachowski Brothers and David O’Russell.

Wachowski Brothers

-First Script, Assassins got picked up by di Bonaventura.

-Script fell into the hands of Director Dick Donner and Sylvester Stallone. Movie was a flop.

-Pushed di Bonaventura to sign a 4 script deal with Wachowskis, in effort to be more protective

-Pitched the Matrix in a time where email was barely comprehensible to studio execs.

-Execs placed faith in di Bonaventura’s passion.

-Marketed as action film. Matrix garnered $400 million worldwide.

-Spent Eighteen months doing research and writing Three Kings.

-Secured funding with the help of di Bonaventura.

-Warner Bros. loved Clooney, David O’Russell felt he couldn’t act.

-Studios disliked his decisions, including casting of Spike Jonze.

-Shooting on Ektachrome.(gives weird color palette)

-Shooting schedule was tight, Clooney was shooting ER throughout the week when he wasnt working on Three Kings.

-Spike Jonze would fly out to edit John Malkovich on the weekends.

-O’Russell would make up shots on the go. Tension was very high.

-Escalated at O’Russell getting hands on with an extra who was supposed to push Ice Cube.

David Fincher

100 day shoot for fight club

-People began to notice that extras and stunt doubles were constantly walking out of the soundstage with fake blood and bruises.

-Fincher wanted 30 takes of fight scenes.

-Practiced bare-knuckle fighting for bare-knuckle fight scenes. Actors and doubles all ended up with broken ribs and dislocated fingers.

-Spiritual experience forPitt and Norton. Found that they were getting the same injuries.

Right before release of Fight Club, overshadowed by Columbine, started debate on Hollywood Marketing violence to teenagers.

-Execs were appalled when Fincher screened Fight Club for the first time. Fincher thought the movie was funny.

-Fincher felt that being a studio exec meant that they did not have a shred of creativity within them.

-Did not make the effort to converse with the execs.

-Came up with his own trailers. Fake Public Service announcements.

Conclusion

-Critics hated Fight Club, brought in only $1 million opening weekend. Called immoral and irresponsible.

-Critics loved Three Kings. Called brilliantly subversive.

-Fincher envious of this. However, Three Kings wasn’t nominated for anything.

-Being John Malkovich nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Made no money.

Jaap’s Recitation 5/2

Apologies for the tardiness! Finals week and all.

Jaap started off the recitation by showing us a clip from the original movie Tron. Although a couple of us in class were scoffing at how ridiculous it looked, Jaap was quick to remind us that it was the very first film that used actual CGI, which in retrospect was pretty great, particularly the sound design that went with it that really made the crappy models come to life.

We discussed the ethics surrounding the advent of CGI, and how the previous stigma of everything in front of the camera being real and true had been shattered with its invention.

Jaap then compared the clip to another clip from Speed Racer, a present day film that used a lot of CGI. The topic of 3D was brought up. A majority of the class really disliked 3D and felt like it was cheap and that it added nothing to the value of any films. One person said that good cinematography can do anything that 3D can without having 3D involved. Some speculated that 3D was just a passing phase and that its novelty would wear off fairly quickly.

After the Stephen Prince presentation, we talked about Zodiac and how even it(being a film rooted in realism and involving basically no elements of fantasy or sci-fi) employed the use of CGI to replicated buildings and such. We then went around the room and talked about our favorite and least favorite films that we’ve seen in class and wrapped a wonderful semeseter.

Jaap’s Recitation 5/1

Last week during lecture and section, we discussed how new technologies change the way films are made, distributed and seen.  We looked at the innovations that digital filmmaking created and how it was different from using analogue film.

During lecture, we looked at the final race of the grand prix in the movie Speedracer.  We then watched the film Zodiac which offers a different take on filmmaking and the question of reality.  The entire film was shot using digital technology, and no actual film was use.  This was done to create “a more real kind of film.”

During section, Jaap discussed handing in our papers in his faculty mailbox.  We then watched a clip from the original Tron (1983, created by Disney).  It was important to watch this film because it was the first film that contains CGI.  We also looked at this film in relation to Speedracer and how the film presents this idea of immersion into a virtual reality.  This led us to discuss the positive and negative effects of using 3D in films.  Natasha then gave her presentation on the Stephen Prince article.  After the presentation we discussed Zodiac.  At the end of class we did an informal evaluation as well as formal evaluation.  The informal evaluation was where we went around the room and discussed our favorite film, least favorite film, and most interesting topic of the class during the semester.

Jaap Recitation 4/25

At the beginning of class, Jaap discussed final papers and confirmed that we are free to choose any style of citation as long as we are consistent.We then went on to watch a clip from Super 8 (JJ Abrams). In the clip, the kids are filming their own movie on a Super 8 camera down at the train station when they witness a train crash. Overall, the clip dealt with nostalgia for middle class America, childhood, and past Spielberg films, especially ET. The paradox lies in the celebration of fan culture and amateur filmmaking while at the same time relying heavily on special effects. Also, it is ironic how Spielberg’s films already depicted a nostalgia for American suburban towns, and now Super 8 is nostalgic for Spielberg’s already nostalgic films.

Next we watched Matt and Denzel’s presentation on Henry Jenkins’ “Quentin Taratino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry”. They discussed fan culture and convergence culture. We then went on to watch a clip from the Animatrix. This was another example of how convergence culture comes into play. David’s presentation on Tom McGowen and Mulholland Drive was very fascinating because he showed us many interpretations of the movie. This led into the discussion of the film in which we looked at the fantasy and the real and debated where we thought reality was in the film.

Jaap’s Recitation 4/25

Class began with a reminder from Jaap that final papers are due this Friday – how’s that coming along, folks? You don’t have to answer, I get it.

From there, we launched into last year’s summer blockbuster Super 8 (dir. J.J. Abrams). We watched as a train crash exploded into scientifically impossible degrees. The discussion from there regarded the film’s play on nostalgia and fan culture, taking heavy influence from Spielberg’s early days (especially Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Extra-Terrestrial). The very idea of Super 8 cameras is a culture that Abrams’ generation grew up in, and this is what drives the movie’s homely feel.

Speaking of fan culture made for the perfect segue into Denzel and Evan’s presentation on the Jenkins reading. Though Jaap made them skip their various Star Wars references (which the reading discussed quite a lot in example), they improvised well and spoke about the interaction of movies with their audiences. With the mainstreaming of the Internet, fanfiction become a phenomenon, and fans had a new medium to laud their favorite movies and form a mythos.

When the Wachowski Brothers created The Matrix, they were very much aware of this. Taking advantage of other media and marketing ploys, they created the Animatrix as not just an optional extension for fans, but as a necessary device in order to fully understand the world they’d created. The Animatrix goes back and shows you the war between man and machine, and how things have become what they are – not always in ways you were expecting. For instance, it turns out that the nonexistence of the sky in The Matrix is actually at the blame of man, as a last-ditch effort to block their nemesis’ power source. Such a necessity allows for further audience participation and interactivity with the mythos, even though the Wachowski Brothers are still in control.

Finishing the class was a presentation from this really awesome kid named David B. Jacobs. I swear, that guy has the coolest slideshows ever – did anyone else notice how his picture choices for last week’s American Psycho presentation became progressively more violent throughout the slideshow? Now that’s structure! This week, he spoke to us about Mulholland Dr., specifically regarding Todd McGowan’s essay analyzing the film.

McGowan refers to the most common interpretation of the film, that the first part is a dream of Diane’s, subconsciously satisfying all her desires presented in the second. McGowan points out how each element of Fantasy in part one reflects upon some Desire in part two, and discusses that the power lies in Lynch’s separation of Fantasy and Desire. Where they meet, he claims, lies the “Real,” a horrifyingly traumatic state which is best to merely graze.

David, however, cleverly pointed out the flaw of McGowan’s reading: He only discusses one interpretation. Some additional research (WOW, that kid even did additional research for his presentation! He totally deserves an “A”!) uncovers a massive amount of a variety of interpretations of Mulholland Dr., many of them completely incompatible with each other. David’s slideshow included a cool-looking collage illustrating just a few of the more interesting theories.

Ultimately, we decided that the film’s multitude of interpretations is possible its most interesting quality. This is what compels viewers to return for repeat viewings – it is a movie you cannot only watch once. And so, we cycle back to our discussion of audience interaction, in this case with the so-called “puzzle film.” A film which we must piece together for ourselves.

Jaap’s Recitation 11:00 4/25

We began the recitation by reviewing all of the important information pertaining to the final paper of the semester and its due date.

Next, we watched a clip from J.J. Abram’s 2011 film Super 8 and discussed the role of technology and nostalgia within the film. We discussed the paradoxes that present themselves in the films recreation of an era of American culture through digital means as it creates an appearance of more modern era of cinema while trying to capture the essence of an older one. The class also discussed the relation of nostalgia to fandom as it presents itself in the film, not only in regards to the characters fandom of films, but J.J. Abrams fandom of Steven Spielberg, to whom the director fills the film with homage.

Next, we discussed the dynamics of participation and interactivity in films and how they differ. We discussed how participation is external to the work and how interactivity brings the audience closer to the work, as well as how these two methods of experiencing narratives have grown dramatically through the advent of DVD special features (in regards to interactivity) and social networking (in regards to participation.) In relation to this idea, we viewed a clip from The Animatrix, a 2003 film that, through interactivity, grants viewers a greater understanding of the film The Matrix’s narrative.

Finally, we discussed Tom McGowan’s article “Left on Mulholland Dr.” and how it offers a broader understanding of the David Lynch film. The classed discussed our opinions of McGowan’s argument that fantasy driven by desire masks the trauma of reality and that reality is characterized by trauma, as evidenced by the film plot. In relation to this we discussed the relationships between fantasy and desire in the film as well as what in the film is reality if anything is, coming to the conclusion that the film requires several viewings to understand. Concluding the recitation, we discussed the relationship between acting and reality in regards to Mulholland Dr, and even Super 8, noting that when the characters act it seems much more naturalistic.

Jaap’s Recitation, 4/25/12, Mulholland Drive

We opened the class with a friendly reminder from Jaap that we only have one more week until our final papers are due. Do not email them, they must be turned in, in hard-copy.

Jaap then showed us a clip from the film Super-8 by J.J. Abrams. In the clip a group of young teenagers prepares to film a a scene from their amateur movie on super-8 film stock. However, in the middle of the filming a train is run off the tracks by an oncoming flatbed truck and the kids must run for their lives as the train explodes all around them. We talked about this clip in relation to nostalgia. We noted the Irony in Spielberg’s celebration of traditional filmmaking while at the same time the film relies heavily on big-budget state-of-the-art special effects as a way to further the plot of the film. We also noted how the film seems to have a nostalgia for movie-made childhood. In other words the film yearns for the type of childhood one might find in earlier Spielberg films like E.T. or Close Encounters rather than a childhood that existed in the real world. We noted how fan-culture and cinephilia greatly expanded with the advent of digital filmmaking because this style of filmmaking made it much easier for the amateur filmmaker to shoot and edit a film without much previous experience.

Next Rob did his presentation on Jenkins article pertaining to the fan-culture surrounding the Star Wars franchise. He noted how fan culture in general changed with the oncoming of the franchise and how the advent of the internet allowed for new and more convenient means for fan culture distribution by these fan boys. He discussed Jenkins idea of folk culture and how he views fanboy participation as folk culture because it has grassroots campaigning, mass participation and a version of a barter economy.  He noted how Jenkins states that pop culture is what happens to mass culture as it is pulled back into folk culture by members of society. He noted how Jenkins feels web film is good for the budding auteur filmmaker and that Jenkins advocates participation over prohibition filmmaking in that it is better for there to be a synthesis between the media conglomerates and the amateur filmmakers rather than a block put up between the two groups.

We followed this up with a short film from the Animatrix  which is a collection of short films that are an expansion of the universe of The Matrix because the audience gets info from these films that they did not otherwise get in the original films. We noted the difference between participatory and interactive forms of entertainment.  We noted how interactivity is when new technologies are designed with a set environment that people are free to interact with but not expand upon, such as a video game. A participatory form of entertainment is like when fans make their own video based off of popular films. These fans are making up their own ideas that are completely free of a set environment that they must abide by.

Next I did my presentation on Todd McGowan’s incredibly dense article on his unique interpretation of Mulholland Drive by David Finch.  The article was pretty rough and I cannot say that I am disappointed that I don’t ever have to read it again. In the article McGowan states how he feels that fantasy is something that helps an individual find reality.  He feels that it is the traumatic collision of fantasy and desire that forces a person to come into contact with the real and that this experience basically always sucks for an individual. He states that in Mulholland Drive this moment came when Betty and Rita find Diane’s dead body in her apartment because this is when the mise-en-scene starts to become more bleak and dark and this is also when the film stops having even a casual sense of temporality. He also feels that the film is a good representation of the female fantasy because the female fantasy inevitably goes on to long after the realization of the sexual relationship, this is because fantasy can no longer be held together when desire for sexual relationship has been satisfied.  McGowan also states that Lynch is making a comment about Hollywood in general because he doesn’t feel that they take fantasy far enough.  This is because hollywood is trying to make us unaware of the fantastic elements within film, Lynch feels that you should make it obvious to the viewer, that you should reveal what is fantasy to the audience. I think. We ended the class with a discussion on what we all feel was fantasy and what was a dream in the film as well as what we thought the blue box meant. Which was obviously not a unanimously agreed upon conclusion.