Posts Tagged ‘Drake University’

It’s a world of laughter
A world of tears
It’s a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all
It’s a Small World —Walt Disney World

Last year Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture and I expect The Florida Project to at least get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year. The odd connection there is not only were both films set and shot in Florida (Moonlight in Miami/Liberty City where the main area code is 407, and The Florida Project (Orlando/Kissimmee where the main area code is 407), but the distributor for both films is A24.

Is A24 scouring Tampa, Jacksonville, Apalachicola for the next Florida story they can bring to light? Are they regular Twitter followers of the @FloridaMan_?

But for an entertainment company that’s only been around for five years they have an impressive track recording including some of their better known films; Swiss Army Man, Room, and The Lobster.  And they still have a movie coming out this year that is also getting Oscar buzz, Lady Bird. 

Now that I think about it, one of A24’s first films was Spring Breakers (2013) which was shot in St. Petersburg area so they definitely have a Florida thing going on.

And why not, they’re just tapping into a great tradition. What’s often at the top of the greatest film of all time list? Citizen Kane, which is a story set where? Right, in Florida. And often at the top of the all time greatest comedies is what? Right, Some Like it Hot. Yes, also a story set in Florida.

Filmmaker Sean Baker was asked why he thought his film The Florida Project was getting more attention than his previous five films and he wasn’t 100% sure. But he had some ideas.

“I think A24 is a major part it. A24 has a pedigree right now. People are looking for A24 as a place where they can see great films. Not that mine is a great film, but I’m just saying that all the other films that A24 puts out are great. So I think that people are expecting a certain thing from them. They’ve very strategic with the way that their films are put out there. With our film they are doing a platform release—it’s almost on its fourth or fifth week now. New York, L.A. and we’ve slowly opened in other markets and allowed world of month to take place. So there’s that word of mouth thing that’s happening which is great.”
Director/editor/writer Sean Baker
The Radio Dan Show
November 7, 2017

Which brings us to Drake. The Rapper, not the school. Drake used to have a home in the 305 but these days Toronto is his home base where he feels more grounded. (The 406 according to a Google search.) Anyway, the rapper is moving into TV and movies with his debut as producer being The Carter Effect, about basketball player Vince Carter.  (Carter played high school ball in Daytona Beach, Florida. See a theme here?)

“Days before Carter Effect debuted, Drake attended a private screening of A24’s The Florida Project and became obsessed with the Sean Baker-helmed film about a destitute mom and her 6-year-old daughter living in the shadows of Disney World. ‘That was one of my favorite things I’d seen in a long time, just because it taught me something about a world I would never think of and what it was like to live there. It was just very pure and very human,’ he says.

“Though neither side would divulge exactly what they are collaborating on, A24 production head Noah Sacco says it encompasses both film and TV. “When we spoke with them, they articulated their passion for shepherding new voices. We look at what they’ve achieved in the music industry. And it made a lot of sense to us,” says Sacco. “We found that we saw eye to eye very quickly.”
The Hollywood Reporter 11/8/17
Drake’s Hotline to Hollywood by Atiana Siegel 

So look for an A24/Drake collaboration down the road. Now if you want to see a photo of Drake at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (the 515) now—here it is:


P.S. Speaking of the 305 and the 407 did you know that in college football the Miami Hurricanes are currently 8-0 and ranked 7th in the country in the AP poll and the University of Central Florida is 8-0 and ranked 14th. From the fun connection file; Miami’s head coach, Mark Richt, was the quarterback behind Jim Kelly when I was a walk-on football player at Miami. And UCF’s coach, Scott Frost, back in 2007 was an assistant at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa where I was living at the time. And where I was living when I launched this blog in 2008.

Scott W. Smith

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Back in January, I wrote a post about The Jazz Singer and how that movie was based on a Samson Raphaelson play and short story. The Jazz Singer was Raphaelson’s first film credit, but he went on to write and gain credits for more than a total of five decades. His two most well-known scripts were The Shop Around the Corner (1940) which starred Jimmy Stewart and was directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and  Suspicion that featured an Oscar-winning performance by Joan Fontaine. (The film also co-starred Cary Grant and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.)

It turns out he wrote a book back in the late forties called The Human Nature of Playwriting. I’m not sure if any other screenwriting blogs have discovered this book, but I’d never heard of it before. It’s out of print, but I tracked now a copy at screenwriter John August’s old stomping grounds—Drake University in Des Moines. I don’t know if August ever checked this book out from the Cowles Library back in his undergraduate days, but I’m guessing it’s been there a couple of decades.

So a couple of months ago when I was doing some post-production work in Des Moines I found my way to the Drake campus to do a quick read of Raphaelson’s book. Raphaelson was born in New York City in 1894, but according to an article by Smith Glaney he spent his teenage years in Chicago and studied English at the Illinois Institute of Technology. (He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1917 and that’s where his papers are archived.*) In the spring of 1948, well into his career, Professor Fred S. Slevert asked Raphaelson to speak to the school of Journalism at Illinois. A stenographer was on hand to record the entire four-month class. And that was the basis for the book. And there it sits on the shelf at Drake, right next to the classic Kenneth Rowe book Write that Play.

So for the next few days I’ll pass on some quotes from that class.

“The creative piece of writing—play, story, poem, rides on emotion. Usually on the emotion of the central character. By emotion I mean hunger, a desire, something burning under that character, humming and beating like a motor, sending him forward.”
Samuel Raphaelson
The Human Nature of Playwriting

Emotion, huh? Glad I spent 40 days writing about emotion last year. Beginning with this David Fincher quote and concluding with 40 Days of Emotions.

*Back in 1921 Raphaelson wrote the fight song for the University of Illinois— “Fight, Illini!: The Stadium Song.” The next year he wrote the short story The Day of Atonement which got published and later became the play The Jazz Singer.

P.S. Excellent article where Betty Kaklamanidou compares Little Shop Around the Corner with the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail.

Scott W. Smith

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When millions of people tune in tonight to watch the season six première of Lost (The Final Season), they won’t be thinking about the state of Iowa—but that doesn’t mean the show doesn’t have a Hawkeye connection. It actually has several.

Fans of the show know that fictional character Kate (Evangeline Lilly) was born and raised in Iowa. But a lot less people know that in real life both Michael Emerson (who plays Ben Linus) and Terry O’Quinn (who plays John Locke) have Iowa roots. When season five ended Ben Linus and John Locke were central figures in the final plot.

What are the odds of two actors going to college in Iowa 30 plus years ago ending up in the middle of a cultural TV phenomenon?

According to a news release at the University of Iowa, O’Quinn attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City back in ’74 & ’75 and Emerson received a BFA from Drake University in Des Moines in 1976.

According to the news release, “Both actors are also Emmy winners. O’Quinn won the Best Supporting Actor award in 2007 for his work as Locke. Emerson won for Outstanding Guest Actor/Drama in 2001 for his recurring character William Hinks, a psychotic serial killer, on the series The Practice.”

More proof that talent is talent and sometimes comes from unusual places.

Speaking of Emmys and Lost, I learned last week that a fellow I graduated from film school with (Jay Keiser) has been nominated twice for Primetime Emmy’s for sound design while working on the TV series Lost.

I look forward to this season to see how the writers pull all the storylines together.

Scott W. Smith

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