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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

“We now live in a time of endless possibility. More has been learned about the treatment of the human body in the last five years than was learned in the previous five hundred.”
Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) referencing the year 1900
The Knick, The Eulogy from episode 1

“I think it’s not so much about the format of the stories that we’re going to tell, as filmmakers — it’s about the way it’s going to be consumed. That’s what’s going to be changed.”
Michael Sugar of Anonymous Content and Steven Soderbergh’s manager
IndieWire interview by Anne Thompson

The Knick

When Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement a while back it was just from making feature films that were theatrically released—and maybe paint a little bit. Last month Cinemax began airing The Knick directed by Soderbergh who is also one of the executive producers.

Set in New York City in 1900, The Knick stars Clive Owen and is a look at the early (dramatic and bloody) days of modern medicine. Soderbergh was going for anti-nostagic in tone. (Keep in mind that human life expectancy back then was 47 years.)

“At no point do you look at this and go, ‘Wow, it must have been really great to live in 1900.'”
Steven Soderbergh
Wall Street Journal interview by John Jurgensen

Jack Amiel and Michael Begler wrote the wrote the initial episode (and are the show’s main writers) that pulled Soderbergh away from his painting to jump back in the directing chair.

Related post:
‘State of Cinema’ (Soderbergh)

Scott W. Smith

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“The world needs a new culture around creativity…Being Creative makes this planet a better place.”
Chase Jarvis

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
Genesis 1

About ten years ago I read a Tom Peters quote that off the top of my head was something like;  “Sometimes to rejuvenate yourself creatively, you need to move to another climate or another culture.” Seven years ago I moved to Iowa (“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by”—Frost) and that has made all the difference. Long story short, it turned out to be the change I needed to rejuvenate myself creatively. In a sense it was a step back from the track I had been on.

I had been on the traditional track, doing traditional things, with a traditional mindset. Even the places I lived were somewhat traditional for somebody with a creative mindset—Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando. And along the way I got to work with some good people on good productions, traveled a good bit, and kept up with the creative changes by embracing new technology as it came my way, like shooting stills and video digitally and going from editing film on a Steenbeck flatbed to editing with an AVID. (And now FCP, Motion, Soundtrack, etc., etc.)

But I ways also looking for something different. Something that tapped into that creative ideal I had when I was 18-years-old. Along the way I was also reading Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Seth Godin. Turns out the same people Chase Jarvis*, a Seattle-based photographer, has been reading. Jarvis is a piece of the puzzle of bridging the gap between the old traditional creative guard and a new way of doing things that is well on its way. This new thing, this wave of change, Jarvis calls “social art.”

What is social art? Jarvis says, “I can’t say exactly what it is, but I can tell you that it’s creating content and context. It’s interdisciplinary, it’s participatory, it’s interactive, and it’s symbiotic. Everybody can win. Most importantly I think social art is incomplete if there’s not another person on the end of the pipe in some way, shape or form participating in that art with you. “ (Have you ever written a screenplay that didn’t get produced? Yeah, me too. That’s a good example of an incomplete art.)

Social art could be a communal dinner where someone is sharing their art of cooking, while another is sharing a song, and others are showing photographs, paintings, and films. What a wonderful world, right?

And despite all of the negativity associated with the Internet there is an amazing amount of sharing of creative content. Dare I say communities connecting via Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and the like. Today people are connecting and freely sharing information with the same zeal that the old tradional guard tried to hide.

Last week Jarvis spoke in New York City at the Photo Plus Expo and said, “I’m asking you to put yourself at the center of a new art, a social art where you’re creating something and sharing it with those around you…Take more picture, be fearless, put yourself out there, shoot more films, build tools—the iPhone app is a great tool, and educate. At the end of the day what I’m talking about is the democratization of creativity.”

It’s an exciting time to be in the creative arts. I have a first hand view of young creative people (some with no traditional arts education) who are carving out niches taking pictures, producing music videos, making films, painting, creating animation, and designing graphics and websites. And they’re earning a living not even aware of the fading traditional way of doing things.

“This is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a photographer…It’s the first time in the history of the world that content creators are also distributors. Anybody in this room, if you took a picture of me in the hallway you have— within five minutes—you can have a blog, a Facebook account, Twitter and be sharing your work. The content creators are the content distributors. And the best thing about this is we don’t have to ask anybody’s permission.

Until now everything previous to this you had to have permission if you wanted to show your work on any sort of scale. Sure you could show your work to your friends, you could walk around New York with a portfolio, walk into five ad agencies in a day, sure—that’s that scale. You needed permission from the gallerist, you needed permission from the magazine editor, the photo editor, you needed to get tapped, selected by the ad agency to be able to show your work on any sort of scale. Those days are over. Any person in here can share what they create, with scale, right now.”
Chase Jarvis
PDN PhotoPlusNewYork

This may not be the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a traditional screenwriter. But to be a screenwriter with a “social art” mindset it’s an incredible time. Imagine writing a script, doing an online reading, gathering a following, rasing money through a Kickstarter campaign, making your film, generating interest via your blog,  and distributing it via DVD sales on your website and iTunes rentals and sales. That is not the future, these are tools that are at your disposal right now.

Over the weekend we’ll look at how writer/director/actor Edward Burns is a great model for independent filmmakers. For his latest film,  Nice Guy Johnny, Edwards is both the creator and the distributor.

*Jarvis has a blog and you can follow him on Twitter @chasejarvis.

Scott W. Smith

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Via a Twitter prompt by director Edward Burns (@edward_burns) I just discovered Ghetto Film School. It fits well with the blog here…Screenwriting from Iowa, and other unlikely places.  I think the ghetto qualifies as an unlikely place to write screenplays and make films. The Ghetto Film School (GFS) was founded in 2000 by Joe Hall. Based in New York City their mission is, “to educate, develop and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers.”

So far more than 400 students have participated in the 15 month film program. The not-for-profit school has a well-connected Board of Directors, Filmmaker Council, and Advisory Board that includes Mark Wahlberg, Edward Burns, Spike Jonze, Lee Daniels, and Evan Shapiro (President of IFC TV and Sundance Channel).

In a recent article in The New York Times Joe Hall said, “We get people who apply from everywhere, but our commitment is to the Bronx in particular and the city in general.” In the TImes article written by Larry Rohter he quotes director David O. Russell (Three Kings) as saying of the work of The Ghetto Film School, “It’s an inspiring thing to do. Hollywood is so unreal and weird that you really cherish experiences that are real and down-to-earth with people who have compelling stories to tell.”

That sounds like a good plan to me. From the farm to the ghetto, from military bases to retirement homes, I believe there are many, “people who have compelling stories to tell.”

Scott W. Smith

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“The Soul of a City – HER GLORY STRIPPED! HER PASSIONS BARED! ”
1948 ad for the movie Naked City

 

I woke up this morning in New York City thinking of the famous line, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.” I knew it was from the movie Naked City and about New York City but drew a blank after that. So I thought I’d dig around and find out who the writer was of the 1948 film.

Naked City is based on a story by Malvin Wald (who shared a screenwriting credit with Albert Maltz). According to USA today Wald,”researched the story by following real New York homicide detectives.” Wald once told the Hollywood Reporter, “No one had done a film where the real hero was a hardworking police detective, like the ones I knew in Brooklyn. We knew we were making a new genre that became the police procedural.”

It not only became a movie but two television series (in 1958 & 1963)  and has been credited with being the birth of the cop stories that are popular on TV these days.

The movie version won two Oscars one for cinematography and one for editing. Malvin Wald was nominated for best Writing Story. He was also  one of the black listed writers during the McCarthy era known as the Hollywood 10. Wald continued to write over the years and retired from teaching at USC when he was 90. By the time he died in 2008 Wald had 150 film and television credits.

Scott W. Smith

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