Archive for February, 2012

“This is awesome for Louisiana.”
Julie Bordelon
Lafayette Entertainment Initiative

“This is the first Academy Award ever received by a Shreveport artist and a strong affirmation of the role arts in brining international recognition, employment and a culturally generated economy to Shreveport.”
Shreveport, La. Mayor Cedric Glover

The other LA, of course, is Louisiana. At the 2012 Academy Awards author/illustrator William Joyce and co-Director Brandon Oldenburg won an Oscar (Best Achievement in Animated Short Film) for their film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

My favorite lines from the entire 2012 Academy Awards:

“Look, we’re just these two swamp rats from Louisiana. We love the movies more than anything. It’s been a part of our lives since we were both kids.”
William Joyce

Oldenburg added, “It’s been a part of our DNA since we were children, and it’s made us storytellers.
Of course, their acceptance speech was almost as long as their 14-minute film, but you have to cut them some slack because Oscars aren’t common for swamp rats.

They’ve already received a shout-out from Governor Jindal, “”Tonight, Louisiana celebrates this Oscar win with the exceptionally talented and creative staff of Moonbot Studios” and a parade is planned for them next Monday. That’s what happens when filmmakers breakthrough from “unlikely places.”

But as I wrote back in 2008 in a post titled Sex, Lies & Mr. Bill (Screenwriting from Louisiana, there’s been some mojo kicking around in Louisiana for quite some time.  And just last month in the post Four Year Anniversary I mentioned how Benh Zeitlin’s film Beasts of the Southern Wild (shot in Louisiana) was creating buzz at this year’s Sundance.

Here’s the trailer for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Notice that it taps into a little bit of both The Artist and Hugo in being inspired by books and Buster Keaton. On their Vimeo account it says “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

Related posts:
Hugo & The Artist
Harold Loyd & Buster Keaton (Super Bowl Special)
Comedy, Cruelty & Chaplin
Taking a Bath in New York City
Old Fashioned & Cutting Edge (A look inside Moonbot Studios)

Scott W. Smith

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“The people of Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, who after 30 years of war sat down, negotiated a peace and proved to the world that the Irish are great talkers.”
Terry George in his Academy Award acceptance speech

“Hundreds of thousands of short films are produced every year around the world and for Northern Ireland to win one really underlines the world class talent we have working in the industry here.”
Richard Williams, chief executive Northern Ireland Screen 

After watching the 2012 Oscars the film that I hadn’t seen that I walked away with wanting to see the most was the Irish film The Shore.  Writer, producer, and director Terry George said the movie is, “the story of one small act of reconciliation which mirrors the courageous achievement of the people who after 800 years of division and blooodshed came together to talk and make their peace with one another.”

George and his producer-daughter Oorlagh also became the first father/daughter combination to win an Oscar together. The film was shot at George’s family cottage at Coney Island near Ardglass in Northern Ireland. (That qualifies as an “unlikely place” referred to in this blogs subtitle.)

“We basically shot this story right outside my front door in Northern Ireland over five days last summer. And it was maybe the best experience in filmmaking I’ve had. It got me back to that thing of communicating with actors and the crew, just focusing both telling the story and having fun.”
Terry George
(On making The Shore)

“There’s the ability to go out an make a film with very little equipment now.”
Terry George

Though this is George’s first Oscar, he had been nominated two before for his screenplays Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the Father.

The 30-minute film is now available for $6.99 on iTunes as a set with the other Academy Award-nominated live-action short films.

For information on filming in Northern Ireland and other related information visit Northern Ireland Screen.

P.S. The cinematographer for The Shore was Michael McDonough who just happened to shoot Winter’s Bone. I believe he used the RED camera on both Winter’s Bone and The Shore.

P.P.S. For filmmakers, here’s a link to the press kit used by The Shore.

Related Posts: Screenwriting from Ireland

Scott W. Smith

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Neon Prophecy?

It seems like the first two months of 2012 I’ve been writing a lot about Hugo and The Artist so I was pleased they both did so well at the Academy Awards last night.  I’ll reflect on the Oscars later this week.

I shot the above photo Elkader, Iowa on Saturday at the day end of a 15 hour shooting day. I’m a sucker for neon movie signs, but this one had a nice third element to it—a wink to the viewers. Or maybe its secret message was unintentional. Like the church I once went to in Hawaii that met in a movie theater that where Sin City was on the marquee. 

Elkader, Iowa was featured on CNN last week bringing a little attention to the town. A producer from Colorado contacted me on Thursday to do camerawork for a documentary that will be showm in Algeria. Really? Really.

Turns out that the town of Elkader, Iowa was named in 1848 after Algeria leader Abd al-Qadir-Jaza iri. Which I believe makes Elkader, Iowa the only city in the United States named after a Muslim. That tends to be a twist that interests people. Hence, why I’m going back out there to shoot today.

By the way, if you ever find yourself going through Elkader in north east Iowa, make sure to stop and eat Schera’s Algerian-American Restaurant. Great food. (Look for the Red Sox flag flying out front.) One of the owners graduated from MIT and has an IT background.  Yeah, Iowa is full of surprises.

Related Post: Hugo & The Artist

Scott W. Smith

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Today on NPR, Susan Stamberg had this exchange with Alexander Payne, the screenwriter, producer, and director of The Descendants:

In [The Decendants’] powerful final scene, the 10-year-old daughter watches TV on the couch, wrapped in a quilt. Her father enters with two bowls of ice cream. He sits, and pulls the quilt over to cover his legs, too. The older daughter wanders in, and Dad moves over for her, covers her with the quilt, and hands her the ice cream as the credits begin. It’s a coda, Payne calls it, a landing strip, to bring the film in.

“When writing the screenplay, I thought rhythmically the film would need one more scene,” Payne says. “I had no idea if it would work or not.”

Payne wasn’t sure until they actually shot the scene — but it does work. In this almost wordless, two-minute scene, you finally see them become a family through the most ordinary gestures — adjusting a quilt, passing bowls of strawberry and mocha chip ice cream.

“Well, that’s what life is — this collection of extraordinarily ordinary moments,” Payne says. “We just need to pay attention to them all. Wake up and pay attention to how beautiful it all is.”

The interview is titled The Extraordinary, Ordinary Life of Alexander Payne.. Though Payne could be on the winning end of three Academy Awards Sunday (producer, director, screenwriter), he spends much of his time in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Pretty ordinary, huh?

Scott W. Smith

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Living Out Loud

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will tell you, I came to live out LOUD.”
Émile Zola


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Think I can segue from two previous posts about Bridesmaids to one about Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?

No problem. In Bridesmaids there is a scene where the lead character’s life is falling a part and her mother tells her to watch the movie Cast Away saying, “It’s like Forrest Gump on a deserted island.” Forrest Gump was written by Eric Roth, the same writer as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

I think I’ve written something about every Academy Award-nominated Best Picture and/or its writers except for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. So I’m cramming for finals before the Oscars Sunday night. Here’s an exchange found in the article, ‘Extremely Loud’ Screenwriter On Turning The Novel Into A Film;

Eric Herschthal: A common trope is that no one can capture the tragedy of the Holocaust in art. Do you see something similar happening with Sept. 11 works of art?

Eric Roth: “First off, I don’t like to compare anything to the Holocaust. [Director Stanley] Kubrick. said you can’t make a movie out of the Holocaust; it’s too visceral to capture on film. I think he’s right. But I think you can make stories about grief, about loss, and how you deal with them. That’s what I tried to do.”

Roth received and Oscar-nominated for his script. He’s had a three other screenplay Oscar-nominations:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (shared with Robin Swicord)
Munich (shared with Tony Kushner)
The Insider (Shared with Michael Mann)
Forrest Gump (Sole screenwriting credit and an his sole Oscar win)

A few days ago Roth received the 2012 Laurel Award for Screen, lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for motion pictures, from the  Writers Guild of America, West.

“In a career that spans over four decades, Eric Roth’s work – from Forrest Gump to The Insider, Ali, The Good Shepard, Benjamin Button, and this year’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – has traced the larger span of our history and the smaller, individual arcs of the human life. With poetry and humor, he has illuminated time and love and moral responsibility. He has made going to the movies both a stirring emotional education and a true joy.”
WGAW President Christopher Keyser

Quirky facts about Roth: According to IMDB, he wrote one of Kurosawa‘s last films (Rhapsody in August), and his daughter, Vanessa Roth, won an Academy Award (Best Documentary Short) in 2008 for her film Freeheld.

Related posts:
Eric Roth on Theme & Loneliness
Change the Weather (Tip #44)

Scott W. Smith

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“My token advice (to aspiring filmmakers) is do it—make your own stuff. Whether it’s short films or whatever you can do, my advice is make your own stuff. I’m a real believer in preparation meets opportunity. When this opportunity (to write Bridesmaids) came along I really had been at this a long time…I was really prepared when this came along. I’m just a firm believer in ‘just do it.’ If you build it, he will come.”
Annie Mumolo 
Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Bridesmaids
Script Mag Podcast with Jenna Milly 

P.S. About that “If you build it…”/Field of Dreams reference, all roads may not lead through Iowa— it just seems like it sometimes.

Related post: Filmmaking Quote #29 (Marc Maurino)

Another First Script = Oscar Nomination

Scott W. Smith

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