Friday, April 24, 2009

Notable film and media links--April 24, 2009--economic hardship edition


---Jenny Miller of Vulture calls attention to a new website created in part by Natalie Portman entitled  MakingOf:

“I always wondered why there isn’t a Web site that encapsulated the experience of visiting a friend on a movie set,” Portman explained. “Our site is supposed to give access to people who don’t have a friend they can visit."

The online venture includes video interviews with Ron Howard, Billy Bob Thornton, and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

---Lauren Horwitch of The Wrap discusses the recent slowdown in movie production:

"Despite a box office that’s soared 17 percent so far this year, Hollywood’s year-long feature-film production dry spell has turned into a drought, leaving thousands of industry professionals above and below the line scrounging for work.

According to IMDbPro, only 35 films are in production or have filmed in the U.S. since January, an 8.7 percent drop from last year, which was already low because of last year’s writer’s strike.

And the slowdown is bad all over -- from L.A. to recent hotbeds of production activity such as Michigan and Louisiana, which offer enormous production tax incentives."

---Another way for innovative young filmmakers to get by?  Appeal for money on the internet to have your name appear in the credits of a movie.  

---Meanwhile, as Anne Thompson points out for Variety, journalists cope with economic hard times by writing about movie stars and thereby earning mucho internet traffic:

"That's right. The new journalist m.o.: check out the most-searched item of the day. One new website is devoted to that very purpose. Every morning, EPK (not "electronic press kit" but, "Everything Pop Kulture") assigns its (low-paid) writers to report on the searches of the day, insuring heavy traffic. This methodology is widespread across the Web, insuring that what has already been written about today will be repeated, commented upon and enlarged tomorrow."

---Filmmaker David Lowery finds that he can get more work done by using a program entitled Freedom that blocks all internet access on his Apple computer for up to eight hours at a time: 

"I started using it this weekend. It worked! Moreso, within the first few minutes, simply knowing that I couldn't do so much as check my e-mail had a tremendous calming affect on my apparently addled brain. I felt at peace. And, indeed, I got stuff done. I used it for two hours this morning and wrote more than I had all weekend. As soon as I finish this I'm going to turn it back on again."

---The comic and new NBC sitcom star of Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari gets interviewed by Vanity Fair (I'm including this because he graduated from the school where I teach).  He also stars in an upcoming film:

"You're in Judd Apatow's upcoming movie Funny People, which is apparently turning into a Cannonball Run for comics. It's got Sarah Silverman and Dave Attell and Norm MacDonald and Andy Dick and Patton Oswalt. When you run into a fellow comic who isn't in the movie, is it awkward and uncomfortable? Do you say things like, `Yeah, that whole thing with Apatow? You didn't miss anything. It was so not a big deal!'"

"I do tape my IMDb page to my shirt whenever I go out, so yes it can be awkward. I really enjoyed doing the film. Those guys you mentioned play themselves, I believe, and I'm playing a character named Randy that is kind of like a terrible comedian with a lot of sex material and jumping/dancing around in his act that comedians hate and audiences love."

---Twitch shares two clips from Jim Jarmusch's upcoming hitman film The Limits of Control (sample photo above).

---T.S. of Screen Savour meditates on Hitchcock's immortal Psycho:

"Psycho proves itself a continual reward because of those essential elements on the part of the director, the right knowledge of where to cut and what to keep. Few directors could work artifice into theme like Hitchcock, but with Psycho he proved he hadn't lost the talent honed on the cheap in England of producing brilliance on a budget. Hitchcock's cinematic language in Psycho is clear and careful. A friend of mine once suggested Citizen Kane is the easiest film to teach because Orson Welles lays out his cinematic language in the most obvious and instructional of ways. I countered with Psycho, which I teach to my creative process class. Because it has a forest's worth of paper devoted to it, few films document the movie-making process and the collaborative nature of the industry better."

---What if world leaders facebooked each other?

---Writing for Film Experience Blog, Dave wonders "Whatever Became of Winona Ryder?"  She does appear in The Informers (release date: May 1).

---Film School Rejects found a hilarious trailer for a soon-to-be classic Hysterical Psycho.

---Mark Penn of The Wall Street Journal traces the rapid growth of bloggers in America, although I imagine most of them are not getting paid much. 

---Lastly, Peter Martin of Cinematical treats us to an innovative new video for The Dark Knight and Matrix freaks entitled Carousel.

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