Stunning. Final impression.
I'll get to the movie that closed the 14th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival on Thursday night but first let me tell you what really impressed me: it was that my guests were knocked out by the ending festivities at the Regency Lido Theater.
Scott McMenamin (VicePresident of Sales) and Alejandro Seri (IMDB) (Educational Marketing Director) from Final Draft (yes, that Final Draft) came down from L.A. to enjoy the festivities that started with a D.J. saying "Hit It!" as the sun went down and was still going strong when I left around 1:00am.
Festival CEO Gregg Schwenk (who also teaches locally) and his staff and volunteers are to be congratulated on this year's festival in general which, as I've mentioned in a previous article, was smooth and impressive. But Gregg and his people also know how to throw a party as was evidenced by the mouth-dropping, stunned look by my guests as they arrived at Lido Village.
Scott, in his role as VP of Sales for Final Draft, has been to the film festival at Cannes and Sundance several times and Alejandro has traveled the world for the company that produces the seminal writing tool of all professional screenwriters. Both said they were "blown away" by the closing night ceremonies which featured a dozen or so food vendors, adult drink vendors, and a sound/light system that had to have awakened the dolphins in the bay. I felt like I was at a really expensive rave and from the reactions of not only the people around us but Scott and Alejandro, that feeling was shared.
How do say Occam’s Razor in French?
If you don’t know what that means in English, I’ll give you the simplest of definitions: It’s the simplest of solutions.
Occam’s Razor is a principle of parsimony and economy. It compels problem solvers to employ the easiest, most rational, reasonable solution.
The “problem” or premise of “Fly Me to the Moon” is this:
Isabelle, a beautiful, young, Parisian bride-to-be, played deftly by Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), must somehow beat a family curse wherein first marriages end in disaster and the second is destined for eternal bliss.
Isabelle’s eleventh-hour solution to this “problem” is to marry a shill in Denmark and divorce him the same day, thus beating the curse and living happily ever after with her young, dentist fiancé, Pierre (Robert Plagnol).
When the shill is a no show, Isabelle latches onto a hapless travel writer, Jean-Yves played with great comic rhythm by Danny Boon (Welcome To The Sticks). Jean-Yves is en-route from Paris to Kenya via Copenhagen. That travel routing sums up the fictional world created by Director Pascal Chaumeil (Heartbreaker) in this film: screwball.
When Isabelle buys a first class ticket to Kenya at the last minute so she can convince Jean-Yves to marry her, it’s hard to ask yourself why she doesn’t stay in Denmark, find another, local schmuck and pay him the money to complete her “perfect plan.”
But then there’s no movie. And in my view the basic premise or “log line” of a movie is something you know in advance. So if you’re of a mind to say, “A curse on first marriages? How silly. Running off to Denmark to create a paper marriage. That’s a perfect plan? How ridiculous.” Then don’t go into the theater in first place.
PARAMOUNT PICTURES ROCK CINEMACON!
LOOK OUT SUMMER – GREAT STORIES, GREAT PLOTS, GREAT MOVIES!
The film, Bey said, has been in his head for years, and he wanted to make a smaller picture, and smaller it was, with a pricetag of only $25 million, but the film is a tour de force of black humor and screenwriting that creates a new genre of film. Wahlberg and Johnson are trainers at a gym who kidnap a member to hold him hostage, but this film goes where no film has gone before. Hilarious is not an effectual description for this story, it is damn outrageously effective in drawing laughs, none of which are cheap momentary laughs, but a part of a perfect story and done with lines and acting what would have made the Marx Brothers proud. This script about a pack of guys with less than a full deck of gray matter is quality, and Wahlberg and Johnson are a new dynamic duo that could surely see further adventures.
Bey also made the announcement that the next “Transformers” will feature Wahlberg in the lead and be what he feels is the best of the series. Bey said the story and script are far beyond the ones done in the past.
But Paramount didn’t stop there. They have some of the biggest pictures of summer coming to the screen, including “Star Trek – Into Darkness,” which moves the bar beyond simple sci-fi, and brings the story and character arcs to boldly seek out and find places we couldn’t have thought or dreamed of going. It is a film that is both entertainment and a perfect display of great screenwriting, with twists, turns, and more awesome action than Magic Mountain.
In May 2009 The Orange County Screenwriters Association held its first-ever event (pictured left.)
The magnificent Regency South Coast Village Theater was the place where we "opened for business." The Regency has always been the venue we use for these "big" events. It is a jewel in the crown of the incredible Regency theater chain and we are eternally grateful to have them as our supporter.
My longtime friend, producer (with slashes too numerous to list) Clark Peterson, was our first guest. He instantly accepted the invitation because of his incredible generosity and was a massive hit with the assembled as he took us through the ins and outs of Hollywood and the feature-film world.
"Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!" Yes, I swear I wanted to stand up and cheer tonight like they did in "Rocky" the movie.
Why? Because our guest at The Writer's Room was that inspiring.
I sat and was delighted tonight by a man who I should know but hadn't met. We had traveled in a lot of the same film/production circles in the last 20 years and to say that I regretted not meeting him ten years ago is an understatement.
"All men are equal before fish." ~ Herbert Hoover
And the beat goes on...
The latest crop of film festival shorts from Orange Coast College were presented by OCC faculty advisor/photographer/musician Scott Broberg at the fabulous Regency Lido Theater. Sunday was a great day to view said shorts at the venue in Newport Beach for several reasons including the stunning theater itself firmly nestled in the history of the area.
And the students themselves were potentially making history. Who knows which of them will continue his or her film career and become the next - well, you fill in the blanks.
I'm still working on uploading pictures from the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, but in the mean time check out some pictures from opening night! Tom Arnold and Jaime Lynn Sigler were some walking the red carpet for Jewtopia...
April 26, 2012, L.A. Memorial Sports Arena.
Millions of words have been written about Bruce Springsteen. I doubt if I will bring anything new to the discussion of this amazing musician and poet but the transformative nature of his work impels and propels me to say something.
I will echo those who who have said that nothing (nothing!) compares to his live performances. As my friend Kevin said on the way to the concert at the Sports Arena in L.A. - "it's like a old-time revival." Yep.
Not one to be overly, physically expressive at concerts I was up and screaming in a matter of the first few minutes. Most stood immediately and never sat again for a nearly three hour show in which the master musician and his group of hand-picked sidemen wowed us through hits from the 1st album (back when vinyl ruled) to the newest material from his "Wrecking Ball" release. I nearly cried at how amazing the music and musicianship was and I truly, nearly lost it when a moving tribute to Bruce's friend and sideman Clarence Clemons, who passed away last year of a stroke, was triggered by the lyric in an old song "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" ("...and the big man joined the band.") Clemon's son played in the horn section and did all of Clemons' solos which was amazing in and of itself - although he still isn't The Big Man, but potential looms large.
LET THERE BE LIGHT! ACTION! CAMERA!
DISNEY ALIVE AND WELL, AND DEPP, BRUCKHEIMER, BURTON PROVE IT
CinemaCon (whose motto is "The world goes to the movies, the movie world goes to Cinemacon") is the world's largest movie industry convention, and has been ongoing in Las Vegas for many years. It is run by NATO, which is the North American Theatre Owners, so the attendance is in the thousands and from everywhere in the world. The distribution side of the movie business, which includes studio heads and producers, directors and stars, screenwriters and filmmakers, all come to Las Vegas every year and mingle with the Exhibitors who show films in towns across America and the world in their theatres.
he writers at SCWA grabbed a real gem to address their March meeting.
Deborah Pratt (IMDB) is a true "slash." She's a dancer, singer, writer, actress, producer, director, and a few more slashes to round things off - like mother to talented actress Troian Bellisario ("Pretty Little Liars.")
As you might have intuited, she was also married to legendary TV writer/producer Donald Bellasario ("Magnum P.I." "Quantum Leap") and she wrote for those shows and others. She came up with basic concept for Q.L. and although she's too classy to say, there must have been a really good story there because she wasn't directly credited - well, she was, but as a producer only (except for the eps she wrote or acted in.)
Ms Pratt is in a word, wonderful. She's funny, effusive, knowledgeable, positive and her creative energy escapes in constant. bright bursts while she talks about her journey as a person and an artist.
It's 2:00am and I'm just getting back from my first day at the newly minted West Coast Film Festival. Full details as to pricing and scheduling are available on the their website HERE but I thought I'd jot down impressions before I turned in.
Professional - how else to say it? Not a hitch in the giddy-up anywhere. Run by Regency Theaters and overseen by (I'm proud to say ) OCSWA board member, Larry Porricelli, who is the Regency Theaters General Mgr., it couldn't have been more effortless to buy tickets, park and attend. To a person, the people working the theater and the festival were incredibly helpfull and personable. You get the sense that they are crafted from the mold of Mr. Porricelli himself.
The venue is the gorgeous Regency Franciscan Plaza in San Juan Capistrano which features not only the normal theater amenities but also a bar/restaurant on the top floor that tonight was taken over by the cast, crew and fans of the movie "Double Tap" starring Fabain Carrillo and Robert LaSardo ("Nip/Tuck") which was having it's world premiere that evening.
The Anaheim ComicCon, now in its 2nd year, has grown nicely. Last year there was a bit of rawness about the event - a touch of desperation and panic - completely gone this year. For fans of these events (moi) something like this in your backyard is wonderful.
ACC is like San Diego in perfect miniature. This year I went on Saturday (last year Friday and Sunday) and I felt like the energy, the scope and the crowd was just right. It was dicey moving through the aisles (like all Cons) but there were also places where you could breathe unlike the Big Daddy con in San Diego.
There was a respectable artists' alley, plenty of booths of comics and
memorabilia, lots of people in costume and lots of enthusiastic fans. The celeb alley was filled with stars of today and yesterday like Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Adam West (Batman.) Among these Golden Age gems were fanboy favs Tricia Helfer, Kevin Sorbo and Miracle Laurie.
INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
MARK walks into the restaurant already stressed from running late in rush hour traffic and meets the MANAGER at the front desk who nods as Mark introduces himself.
Yeah, we got 'ya. Twenty people for dinner.
Uh, no. Fifty people for a meeting.
Well, we got you in this corner.
You don’t know what to expect. He’s a larger-than-life figure in the literary world as much for his work as his opinions and more-than-occasionally abrasive attitude. I knew he was a decent person from my friend, producer Clark Peterson who connected the two of us. But Clark gets along with everyone - he’s that nice - I do not, and I frequently rub people the wrong way for whatever reason.
I sincerely hoped that Mr. Ellroy and I would not be gasoline and a match.
Since I always over-prepare for any Q&A I’d done a lot of research reading, watching videos of his previous interviews. I’d seen him garrulous, argumentative, impatient, snide and dismissive. To be fair, he was always bright, incisive and intriguing also. And what...charming? Yeah. You really don’t expect that. I didn’t.
He walked up to the front entrance of The Regency South Coast Village Theater, the venue site, with OCSWA board member Sterling Vozenilek who had been charged with picking him at the hotel. I took a breath and went out to meet him.
He’s initially soft-spoken, formal. Rigid even. In bow-tied sport jacket and casual pants, carrying a hard-edged briefcase he looks a little like a school teacher - if your teacher was Mr. Talk-Shit-Get-Hit. At a rangy six, three he carries himself with a definite “do not mess with me with attitude.” Substitute the word “mess” with the four letter word that begins with “f” and you’ll have a better idea of his actual first impression. He also somehow appears to be above it all as if he watching from a high, removed distance. As if he’d always rather be somewhere else.
On Thursday, October 21st, we gathered at the Regency South Coast Village Theater to watch an American classic.
Based on the Pulitzer Award winning book written by Harper Lee fifty years ago this month, the Academy Award nominated film featured A-list actors of the day, like Gregory Peck, and also unknowns like Robert Duval as Boo and Mary Badham who didn't do much after this film but certainly showed skills beyond her years in her stunning performance as the lead character and our narrator of events, Scout.
On Saturday, October 23rd, at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, site of some tragically undead shops since the Nike anchor store left, the 1st Annual (or inaugural as some would put) OC Zombie Walk went off without a hitch - well, okay so the zombies were a bit hitchy but the rest of the evening was as perfect as it could have been.
The theatre was packed, as Doremus, who was brought up in Newport Beach and Santa Ana, is well-known and liked by locals, including many students from the high school he teaches at in Santa Ana, Orange County High School of the Arts.
He is a young director, and has had his first two films, "Spooner", and "Douchebag," play the Newport Beach Film Festival, and "Douchebag" was accepted and played at Sundance, where it got great audience and critical reaction.
GET YOUR BUTTS OVER TO THE AIFF AT GARDEN WALK - JUST 2 DAYS LEFT.
This evening I viewed 7 spectacularly professional shorts. Most were from domestic sources and at least one with sub-titles (someplace European I think). Every short kept the audience fully engaged - the likes of which I have not seen before - what a pleasure to witness.
As a producer I would have been proud to have my name associated with any of them. The theme was CUPID and each script was clever, I dare say exceptional, with only one being somewhat predictable - what a creative treat. There are at least two more series of shorts before the festival is over and I suggest it is really worth an hour or so of your time. Use that as a warmup before you go to one of the very fine feature length movies.
A Huge Success!
That's the phrase that immediately comes to mind to describe the The Anaheim International Film Festival which kicked off its inaugural events tonight at the brand new UltraStar Cinemas at Anaheim GardenWalk. The Orange County Screenwriters Association is a sponsor of the festival and we attended with five members and two student film makers who are doing a documentary on OCSWA.
I had the opportunity to talk to Founder and Chairman Sinan Kanatsiz to tell him how impressed we all were with the presentation and organization. Had I not known this was the first night of the first year I would have never guessed. Everyone who worked the desks, the red carpet and security were professional and pleasant. The check-in and red carpet were handled expertly. I felt immediately that AIFF has a real chance of challenging the Newport Beach Film Festival as a premier film event in Orange County. I can see that a lot of that good vibe comes directly from Mr. Kanatsiz himself who was so well-spoken and personable that I wondered why he wasn't himself an actor.
I’ve been going to ComicCon since the early 90's when a film company I was working with sent me down to talk to the creators of a comic book that they wanted to produce into a movie (yes, we were making movies from comic books even back then.)
It was simpler by many degrees in the 90's - not the overcrowded zoo it’s turned out to be in 2010. In some ways it’s awesome to behold these days but it’s become so crowded and impacted that going at times seems like an exercise in futility. They just need more space (or less greed from packing in every vendor in the Universe.)
Saturday we gathered to hear one of the most prolific and versatile writers of our time.
J. Michael Straczynski, aka JMS, aka Joe, put aside his crushing deadlines and came to the Regency South Coast Village Theater to take the stage and make us think, make us laugh, and make us feel good about being filmmakers.