Monday, 15 August 2016

“Let’s make some choices.” (or “It doesn’t really matter does it!”)


Not too long ago Simon Pegg was quoted (or mis-quoted) as saying something along the lines of wanting to “retire from geekdom”. Granted he was pretty much talking about growing up rather than lording over the things we loved as children (superheroes and such).
However I’m starting to see his point, but not for the same reasons.
2016 has been a bad year for geek culture. It’s been pretty bad for a lot of other reasons as well to be honest, but I haven’t go the patience to write a Chilcot report. So let’s focus on the geeks.
We suck. It’s not all our fault. In a lot of cases the stuff we wanted to see sucked, but it’s how we’re reacting that is making the city of Geektropolis a terrible place to live.

Years ago there was a sleepy little village called Geekton. It was small, only had a few permanent residents, but a hand full of visitors. It struggled to strive, being overshadowed by it’s sister city – erm, Jocktopia? Real Life City?  It’s not the best, but let’s go with Real Life City, mainly so we can talk about the Adult-hood later. All you need to know is there’s a place to go other than Geekton.
Anyway, people used to laugh when you visited Geekton. You needed thick skin to go there, and that’s if you told people what you were doing.
But then something happened. Business in Geekton started to boom. People were visiting and staying. They were investing, expanding the small quiet village into the massive place it is now. Over the last few years Geekton has become Geektropolis.
Real Life City on the other hand still exists. Business continues as usual, investment has gone down a little. It will always survive, but at the moment it’s coasting. The Adult-hood is still a scary place to be though. Basically it’s just a little bit dull. Whereas next door, Geektropolis is booming. It’s like Vegas on acid, or one of those sayings. So more people are moving over.
However there’s one thing missing from Geektropolis. One thing that the settlers forgot to establish when they invited all their friends in to play. Tired of being looked down on for what they enjoyed, they decided that anyone living in Geektropolis would have a voice. You don’t need to shy away from your likes and dislikes here. This isn’t Real Life City where you have to be careful what you say in case someone calls you ignorant, or gets you fired, or punched in the face. No, in Geektroplis, say whatever you want to, you deserve your say.
And that’s the problem.

Most of this is actually covered in this article – but it’s my launching off point. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-comic-con-fan-entitlement-20160722-snap-story.html

 

So why is having a voice a problem? Isn’t free speech a good thing?

In theory it is, unless you’re going to be a dick about it. As Buckaroo Banzai said “Don't be mean; we don't have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

 

There have been several films released this year that have not been received with the open arms that the makers expected or would have liked. I’m going to discuss a few here to given my opinion. You don’t have to agree, it’s just my opinion.


Ghostbusters (2016)
The worst thing about this film was that it makes us have to quote a year next to the title to distinguish whether we’re talking about Ghostbusters (1984) or Ghostbusters (2016).

This film got a lot of flak. A hell of a lot of it was undeserved. Apparently a lot of people out there don’t like females and they needed to tell people about it. This wasn’t even really an issue. The main problem with this film was the fact it was a remake, in a slew of remakes. It was generally agreed that the weaker parts of the film were the references to the original Ghostbusters (1984). If they’d just made a sequel I think it may have fared better. It would also have helped if it was funnier.

I still enjoyed it, and there is a lot in there to like, and technically if it keeps the brand alive, gathering more fans, that’s a good thing. However I found the main problem with the film is that you couldn’t talk about it without mentioning the shit-storm that surrounded it and the people using their voices.

However in this case, it’s not just the fans using their voices but also the film makers. There were a few interviews with the cast and director where they made a few snide comments about the Geeks who were complaining. The problem with this is they don’t help the matter. We all know the best response to a bully is to ignore them. Even in the film, a key theme is about the protagonist, Erin Gilbert, being was teased as a girl because she saw a ghost, and how we all need to learn to accept each other rather than pointing and laughing.

Surely the filmmakers should have taken this to heart and possibly used it to promote the film. Why is this an issue? Well, it’s not, the mouthy geeks were not helping things, and were far from being right. The fact is though that they got a rise out of the filmmakers which most likely gave them boost. Their voice was heard. We should have just ignored them all, then we would all agree that the film could have been better, the jokes funnier etc and that Kate McKinnon’s Holtzman was the best thing about it. Rather than jumping on one of the band wagons of either side’s arguments. At the end of the day all that matters is whether you enjoyed the film.

Enough about that one. What’s next?


Batman V Superman (and possibly a bit of Suicide Squad)

Ok, this is a big one. Mainly because I really like DC Comics and they struggle bringing their characters to life, but I want to defend BvS a little.

The problem here is in a similar way of trying to talk about Ghostbusters (2016) without mentioning the anger over women in proton packs, it’s hard to talk about BvS and DC’s films without comparing them to Marvel (and I’ll hopefully show how pointless that is). There will be a bit on that, but there will mostly be an explanation as to why I’ve grown to like it. Let me say form the get go, Batman V Superman is far from perfect, but in no what deserved the backlash it received.

I was looking at past releases to see what comic book films were being released and it seems the trouble started in 2008.

In 2008 we had The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Indiana Jones 4. (But that’s not a comic?!?!? I know, it was an interesting year for blockbusters).

Ok, we need a little background before steaming ahead with this. It’s good to remember that Warner Brother’s own DC. Therefore the only studio making DC films will be WB.  However in the mid-nineties or whenever, Marvel went bust and had to sell off a load of characters. Therefore Marvel’s output has technically been a lot larger than WB as each studio releases their own titles. (Sony had Spiderman, Fox had X-Men etc). As far as WB were concerned they had 2 heavy hitters that had done well in the past Batman and Superman, so why bother spending all their money on more Superheroes when they can just focus on 1 of the heavies every few years. Superman was pretty much run into the ground after the excellent Superman 3 (I’m ignoring Superman 4 and Canon bought the rights) so they pulled out their 2nd heavy hitter Batman in 1989. Then they ran him into the ground with Batman and Robin. Time for Superman to return in Superman Returns. Ohh, maybe not. Let’s go back to Batman with Batman Begins in 2005. Yay – a hit. There was much rejoicing. WB decided to run with this and ordered a sequel so in 2008 we get The Dark Knight – more rejoicing. However, whilst WB were making their single super films, Marvel were gathering money and thinking of the long game and how to make a shared universe. They released Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in the same year. Iron Man good, Hulk not so much. Before then WB weren’t paying attention and were happy proceed and end the Nolan trilogy. They did try to get a Green Lantern film out, but there was no rejoicing so they focussed on closing the Nolan trilogy with Dark Knight Rises. There was a little less rejoicing, but rejoicing none the less. Marvel’s plans however were now known. Captain America and Thor were released, along with Iron Man 2. They were ready for the game changer, creating a fully shared universe with Avengers. WB suddenly sat up and needed a follow up for Batman, back to the drawing board – Superman. If they could also set it in the same, “realistic” world as Nolan then maybe, just maybe they would have a shared universe. Man of Steel is released as well as Avengers – everything blows up – including lots of buildings. The shared universe wins. Marvel are happy and off they go into Phase 2 with all their money! WB need to sort themselves out. Nolan no longer wants to make Batman films - fair enough, but they have Man of Steel – this becomes their Iron Man. Their planned shared universe will sit on the shoulders of a film that technically should have been part of a previous shared universe. Combine this with WB wanting to speed up the process, bad decisions were being made all and so we end up with BvS. Marvel went out on their own, set themselves up as their own studio for creative control and could make all the decisions (until Disney bought them, now the House of Mouse presumably makes the decisions).

Now I’ll be honest, I made most of that up. It could have gone that way, it could have gone another way. However it seems that if they truly wanted a shared universe form the get go, they should have drawn a line under Man of Steel and started from scratch – maybe from a lesser known character. But everyone knows this, and that forms a lot of their flak. However they made a choice to not do that.

So why is BvS good? Is it because they have the same name as my Mum? No, because they don’t but here’s a man crying which I think pulls it into focus a little better. https://youtu.be/rKRmMQaLZz8

When I first saw Batman versus Superman I was disappointed – it was grim, long, not very “Yay, Batman!” But then you start to look at in in another light. Sitting at home looking at a pile of different batman comics. They’re all written or drawn by different writers and artists but they are the same characters. At any one time there were issues of Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Beyond etc, all being released simultaneously. Basically what I’m saying is BvS is one iteration of Batman. A lot of the reviews mention something along the lines of him not being “my Batman”. However, there’s a bloody high chance they’ll never make your batman ever again. Adam West could be your Batman, but I doubt we’ll see Batman dance or surfboard again (Except they kin dof did that in Batman and Robin)  So his new Batman kills, is mopey, but most of all is addicted to being Batman. He’s flawed – aren’t we all? Except this flawed hero has an Alfred always telling him to calm down, maybe go out as Bruce Wayne a bit more. On top of that he’s older, tired, had years of being Batman, which means each night he’s going out because of a childhood oath he made to his parents, a childhood oath, meaning that despite his age, he never really grew up.

Then this new kid flies in and moves in literally next door, who can do all this amazing stuff, and most of all, he can go out in the daylight. He isn’t hiding in the shadows and although lots of people still hate him, he’s getting a lot of love – more love than Batman. Grumpy Batman hates this, and the only way to fix it is the only way he knows how – to punch it. Hence they fight. Now in back in Real Life City, this makes no sense. You’d have to talk first etc, but we’re in Geektropolis talking about a man who dresses up as a Bat fighting a Man who flies. Common sense doesn’t exist here. You’re dealing with character so pumped up in their own world that they are threatened by any kind of outside influence. They just had to punch each other.

In another time and place, we also saw Captain America punching Iron Man but their reasons are more clear meaning it’s easier to relate. It’s the difference between fighting for a strong, thought out belief or fighting for the sake of it (on the surface at least).
Anyway as I’ve segwayed, Civil War is good. There are more people fighting but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a sole Captain America adventure, rather than Avengers 2.5. My main issue though that is starting to annoy me a little, is that all the Marvel stuff tends to look the same – to have a shared universe I guess it means they all need to look and feel identical. Which means you come out of Civil War and think you’ve seen Avengers. You watch Thor and it could be Iron Man 4. This is something that I think may restrict them in the future, and a worry that eventually they will reboot everything to start again.


A good thing to say about Warner Brothers is at they are making choices. To proceed with a darker Suicide Squad was a bold move. To have a Comic book film with Suicide in the title was a bold choice. The problem here is they continued to make choices when they should have stepped back, trusted in the director to make the right choices and trusted there would be an audience.

So the state of DC, they may not be the best, they may be listening to the wrong people, but still choices are being made in an attempt to make their films stand out; and I think that is a good thing. Just because Zack Snyder’s choices are not mine or yours, doesn’t mean he’s wrong.


So how does all this tie in with the Noise Pollution of Geektropolis? Well, I understand that I’ve been having my say and gone on about how Geeks are being too vocal and expecting their voices to be heard, and rambled on for however many words. But I’ve said my piece now. I’ve started to try and accept the choices made by directors in a hope to enjoy the films a little more. It’s hard to accept a lot of their choices because it’s not what I wanted to see. But you can’t please everyone. It’s one of the first things you need to learn as any kind of artist. If we all liked the same stuff the world would be pretty grey. So someone casts an actor you don’t like as a character you love – see how it goes. It may go well, it may not. Someone remakes a film you loved as a child, it could improve on it, it probably won’t (just my opinion) but see what happens. (I also realise that’s a whole different blog post about remakes and reboots. I think we’d all like to see more originality out there. Someone made Star Wars in the seventies. Surely we should be able to make something as awesome and original now, without just making a new Star Wars? (Once again, my opinion, and I like Star Wars)).

 

Basically everyone just needs to calm down, take a second to think before you start typing, and ask yourself “Does any of it actually really matter?”

 

I’ll leave you with a transcript from Spaced that could have replaced this whole essay:

Bilbo Bagshot:
I was like you once. Blond hair. Scraggly little beard. Childlike ears. Full of beans and spunk. I let my principles get in the way sometimes. I punched a bloke in the face once for saying "Hawk the Slayer" was rubbish.

Tim Bisley:
Good for you.

Bilbo Bagshot:
Yeah, thanks. But that's not the point, Tim. The point is I was defending the fantasy genre with terminal intensity, when what I should have said is "Dad, you're right, but let's give Krull a try and we'll discuss it later."

 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

It's not you, it's me...

Today I had to make a very import decision. After thinking long and hard, weighing up the pros and cons, I decided to cancel my standing order at Dave's Comics in Brighton.

Ok, it may not have been such a big decision, I have a pile of at least 18 months worth of unread comics, and not multiple titles, the same three.

However this wasn't the only reason, and for your viewing pleasure, let's go into more detail


1 - I also could never get into the new DC 52. I know what I like, and I like what I know. When the big change happened I though it was a great jumping on point, but I also didn't have the money to have a go at everything. Therefore what I did have a go at simply left me unimpressed. Surely the nature of starting afresh, to get new blood into comics, means that each issue 1 should be the best of the best of the best, not just more of the same. Anyway this leads me onto point 2.

2 - Why are there so many? I also thought the point of starting afresh was to cut down on the all the filler, however we still had multiple Batman titles, none of which were that interesting. At least at issue 1.

3 - General quality - This is kind of a combination of 1 and 2. Not being able to buy everything means I can't find what is supposed to be good. Therefore based on what I did read, my outlook was damaged and nothing seems that good. 24 pages (or whatever it's at now) just doesn't seem enough to tell an interesting story).

4 - Convergence, Endgame, Year Zero. I still couldn't keep up with all the multi title storylines. Does anyone actually go out of their way to get each individual title? Probably, but I don't. I always enjoyed the way Garth Ennis treated this with Hitman. he either took the protagonists out of Gotham for a few weeks, or took the piss a bit with it. This also ties into point 5.

5 - My final reason for leaving is that I can leave on a potential high. My major collection started with Hitman, and it will end with Section 8 (with a full collection of Fable sandwiched in the middle). This makes me happy.

Oh I'll still probably get the odd collection, and I'll always be interested in what's going on. Hell, I may even jump back in. I just feel little sad that I'm not helping with the brick and mortar stores, but then they didn't seem too heartbroken when I cancelled. I was expecting to have to answer questions on why I was going, was it something they did?

Update 26/06/2015
This blog post was written a few months ago and only just posting now. I just wanted to add somewhere that on top of all of the above, I finished reading Neal Adams; Batman Odyssey...and it's bonkers, but not really in a good way.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Zbox Unboxed


So in the US there a subscription service called Loot Crate. You pay a monthly fee and each month you get a box of stuff. Good old fashioned nerdy stuff - comics, figures, t-shirts etc.

Now I could never work out why I would regularly want to pay for stuff, not knowing what the stuff will be. Especially when I could put that money toward something I like and want.

Then Zavvi started to do something similar, except you paid each month, rather than subscribing. I still wasn't sure about it.

Then they did a special offer and offered a lucky dip. It was onyl half the price, but included some of the things from previous boxes.

I dived in.

But I'm not sure if it was worth it.

In place of an unboxing video, this is a picture of what I got:


1. Shadow of Mordor Liquid mouse mat (looks like it has blood in it)
2. Lenticular Thundercats postcard
3. Bumblebee stress ball
4. South Park magnet
5. Spiderman hanging figure.

And that's it. All for the low low price of £10

On a good note, I like that you get a box of stuff. It's a bit like buying yourself a random Christmas/Birthday present.

On a bad note -I don' think I would have bought any of this myself. Except maybe the Spiderman hangy thing (but not a silver one).

But here's the interesting thing, I sort of see how a subscription service would work. I kind of want to get another to see if it would be better!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I see another...review...

So another review came in. This time by Derrick Ferguson who runs a movie review blog - The Ferguson Theater.

Let's get straight to it...


Okay. Since I like to end on a upbeat note I'll get what I didn't like about ONE FOOT IN HELL out of the way first: where'd the second doll come from? Did the evil spirit of the first doll leave that body and jump into the body of the second doll? And if so, why did it go after Alice instead of Warwick? Because she was the one who nailed it down to be BBQ'ed? if so, that was a nice touch with the way the second doll nailed her down. But that part was unclear to me. As was the ending with Warwick mailing pieces of the doll to different people. Was it because he was afraid that the spirit would just jump into another doll's body and come after them again? Again, the wasn't clear to me.

And I realize there's only so much you can do in a short film but Charlie's death is a pretty big loose end hanging out there. Did Warwick and Alice go to the police with their wild story and found themselves charged with his murder?

Now to what I did like: you've got a very clean directorial style. I myself appreciate a director who trusts his actors and his story enough that he can let them do what supposed to do and not try a whole bunch of unnecessary camera tricks and angles just to show off. You didn't do that here. You put your camera down, put your actors in front ot the camera and let them work. I liked all three of your actors very much. They were quite natural and didn't come off as "trying to act" if you know what I mean.

And that stop-motion animation was simply great. I've a major fan of stop-motion animation and I heartily support anybody keeping it alive. In fact, stop-motion animation works better in a killer doll story such as this one as for me it's a lot creepier than CGI. And I liked how you got in a bit of humor with your horror when the killer doll is standing at the top of the stairs and gives Alice that cute little wave hello.

To sum up, I liked it. It's a respectable short movie that told a short, effective story. As i said, some of the motivations of Warwick and the doll confused me slightly there near the end but it didn't prevent my overall enjoyment of the film. You and your people should be rightfully proud of it and I hope to see more work from you in the future. I don't know if any of this helps but whether it does or not, you keep on making films. And definitely continue to use stop-motion! Can't ever get enough of that. 

Derrick

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The first review...

So my understanding of how to get fortune and glory goes like this:-

1. Make/do something awesome;
2. Something happens;
3. Fortune and Glory!!

Now I'll all for stages 1 and 3, but it's part 2 that's still a bit hazy. Since completing One Foot I have been patiently waiting for stage 3, but I don't seem to be there yet. Then I had the idea (or just did what Bother Chris told me to do) and decided to contact a few horror themed blogs to tell them about my film.

And now reviews are starting to pour in.

The first comes from Ghost Hunting Theories; a blog by Sharon Day, a paranormal investigator and author from. You can find the review by clicking here.

So, we have our first review.

Surely I'm now well on my way to fortune and glory!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Release the Kraken...

Now if only I had a kraken.

So for now I will unleash One Foot From Hell.

Yes after 4 solid weekends of filming in October 2012, a year of editing, animating and compositing in 2013, and a finally year of successful film festivals (ok, not so successful. I need to work on marketing) the film is unleashed.

I can now point people in it's general direction. I can say, "I made a film. You can see it here!".

I can now be happy that people can finally watch the bloody thing instead of me keeping it locked up whilst I reject another festival as I don't have the funds for the entry fee.

So without going to crazy. For the first link of many; you can watch the film here:-

http://vimeo.com/79604811

Cheers

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Growing up, networking and such…




 

I say growing up, but it’s more of a getting my life/priorities in order. By life and priorities, I mean work. It’s become all too easy stay comfy in the day job, however the typewriter has started to call.

 

(Hopefully you get what I mean. I could have said keyboard but you may have thought I was on a path to become a great pianist. Now I mention that I do have it on my list of things to eventually do).

 

Brother Chris has been writing for a while, however this year, there have been a few more opportunities for myself to help out on a couple of projects. For real life money. Basically as of this year I too can say I am a paid writer.

 

But what of the day job? Well, we’re not that well paid yet, so I must continue in my war with free time.

 

That’s where the growing up comes in. Brother Chris and I are starting to get organised. With 3 screenplays currently optioned we have a body of work to start building on. Hopefully at least one of these will see the light of day to carry us further.

 

And with this, the networking comes in. As we started to take things more seriously I decided  to attend a course back in June – First Draft with Pilar Alessandra of On The Page.tv

 

This 2 day course provided excellent information on getting a first draft together quickly, and then beefing it up in the 2nd/3rd drafts. It was also an excellent place for networking…except I’m terrible at networking.

 

The main issue I have with this is I’m not one to shout about myself. Also, a certain percentage of people who can shout about themselves, come across a bit arrogant. I’m sure in their day to day lives they’re entirely pleasant. However as soon as they start telling me they have the best idea, and they only ever had a specific actor in mind for a role, and will settle for no other, but the script is so good that they’re definitely going to take the part; when I’m being told this, I zone out, and lose interest. They start to sound like a…let’s just say they are annoying.

 

I have a constant battle with this as here, in this very enclosed forum, I know I have a great idea. I just don’t like having to shout about it at the risk of coming off as an arrogant sod.

 

So there’s that to work on.

 

In many ways the reclusive feeling more than anything qualifies me as a writer. It also helps that I trained as an animator, another introverted profession.

 

So I need to grow up. Break out of my shell. Get networking. Speak to people about my amazing idea.

 

It seems that’s the only way to get things get made.

 

Unless you not the only one in the crowd shouting. Then it’s just a case of who’s the loudest.

 

You wouldn’t have guessed that I once made a film called Jonny the Pessimist.