Search

Al Graham

Author & Blogger

Tag

Film

An Astounding Discovery: Part 2

IMG_0105.PNG
We once were, in everyone’s home.

We used to be current, useful and necessary. At one point, if it hadn’t been for us, you’d have never seen a fraction of those movies as a kid.

You used to be excited when you found us, opened our cases and put us into our old friend, VCR.

You used to be so proud of us. So proud, in fact, you’d stack us high in plain sight in your home. You’d count us and catalogue us, you’d share us with friends. You’d stay up late with us and laugh, root or cry at whatever we’d screen for you.

At holiday times, you relied on us to capture and record those movies and shows that you weren’t around to watch.

At Christmas time, you unwrapped us and smiled when you saw that we had your favourite movie recorded onto us.

You came to our special store to visit us and borrow us for the weekend. We’d entertain you all weekend long, until you had to return us.

Years passed by, and you realised you no longer needed us.

Newer, faster, smaller versions of us were created.

You soon realised, there were so many of the old us, you didn’t know what to do with us.

So, you got rid of us, binned us, destroyed us.

Many of us still remain. We sit in cupboards, in attics, in boxes. But, we know that nobody is coming. Nobody needs or wants to see what we have to offer.

Children have been born and don’t even know anything about us. We are a photo in a history book, a paragraph in a past technology blog.

Our time has long been over. Once, we were the only source of your enjoyment and entertainment.

Now, we are just plastic and tape, waiting to be recycled and eventually forgotten.

Forever.

Advertisements

Ten Sentence Fiction: Body on the road

body in the road

It was a beautiful summers night.  Greg Carlson was going nowhere in particular as he sped his old Mazda along a hidden back road.  He focused through the windshield as he flung his old import left and right around the single track road.

He screeched around a bend, but suddenly tensed his body while gritting his teeth, slamming the brakes as the car whaled to a halt.  There was a body on the road, a man, lying face down.  Still trying to catch his breath, Greg stepped out of the car and into the smell of burnt rubber.

He approached the man with caution, he crouched down and searched for a pulse on his neck.  He was alive and breathing.  Greg stood up and reached for his phone to call an ambulance, he looked down at the man as he felt a tug on his trouser leg.  Only, this time what Greg was looking back at was a shotgun pointing right at his face.

Read more Ten Sentence Fiction

(c) Copyright 2014 AGS

An adventure, 22 years since the making

IMG_0095
I wonder if when the late Michael Crichton finished writing his novel, Jurassic Park, back in the late eighties, he would have ever believed what a world wide phenomenon it would become. Could any author, aside from the Kings and Pattersons of this world, ever contemplate nine million printed copies of their book being sold?

Crichton’s novel was a modern take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it focused on the dangers of playing god and genetic engineering. Jurassic Park was extremely entertaining, but also very, very believable.

It was a very well written, exciting and detailed look at the ‘what if’s’ of modern day science. It was also in touch with man kinds obsession with what roamed the planet millions of years before us. Dinosaurs.

12

The book was a hit. However, it was not until Hollywood big wig, Steven Spielberg, got his hands on it, that more people took notice. Starring Sam Neil, Jeff Goldblum and the late, Sir Richard Attenborough, Jurassic Park opened on Friday, June 11, 1993. After an astounding weekend, it had grossed more than $47 million, breaking box office records. The film went on to make almost a billion dollars world wide. Not only that, the book and film had created so much interest in dinosaurs, palaeontology had a record increase in students around the world. In actual fact, general interest in dinosaurs around the globe has been at an all time high, since the film smashed the box office.

A sequel was inevitable, but, luckily, Crichton had already written it, The Lost World. No surprise, but the response to this film was just as favourable as the last and held the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for four and a half years, running from May 1997 to November 2001.

45

Jurassic Park had become a multi billion dollar franchise. Steven Spielberg proved to us once more that he was a world class film maker. Jurassic Park writer, Michael Crichton, who was already a well known and successfully published author, cemented himself further as a leading, worldwide fiction writer.

Almost 22 years on, Jurassic Park has never faded from our memories. We all own a copy and as we flick through the channels after killing ourselves with turkey and trifle every single Christmas day, we can’t help but leave it on. The years gone by have given time for other film makers to jump on the Dino bandwaggon and produce their own versions of dinosaur themed movies. Nothing however, has ever come close to even kicking the heels of either Jurassic Park or the Lost World. Not even 2012’s Jurassic Shark.

67

In 2001, director Joe Johnston, known for ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’ and ‘Jumanji’, brought us Jurassic Park 3. Mr. Speilberg was still attached to the project, but, only as executive producer. The film which starred Sam Neil, returning as Dr. Alan Grant, William H. Macy and an excrusiatingly irritating Tea Leoni, failed to match the success of its predecessors. It was also noticeable, that Michael Crichton had not written this particular Jurassic Park Story. And, with Jurassic Park 4 (or Jurassic World) due to hit our screens in 2015, it will be very interesting to see, 22 years on, how filmmaking techniques and technology can beat what Steven Speilberg brought us in 1993.

ET.1127.Crichton.1richardattenborough

Sadly, within those years, writer Michael Crichton (above, left) died of lung cancer in 2008, aged 66. Most recently, actor and director, Sir Richard Attenborough (above, right), who played Jurassic Park founder, John Hammond, passed away at the great age of 90, after battling a long illness. Never forgotten, both will always be remembered. Crichton for his imagination and creation, that was the original novel, and Attenborough (amongst many other notable acting and directing projects) as the Jurassic Park founder, and loveable grand father, John Hammond.

38

I hope that in 22 years time, we still remember and religiously watch Jurassic Park and think of how it made us all feel when we first saw dinosaurs appear in front of us, in what is one of the most memorable moments in cinema, period.

Images, facts & figures curtesey of IMDb.com

Please take me ‘Out of this Storm’

IMG_0094.PNG

If you go to the cinema expecting a modern day version of 1996’s ‘Twister’, then I’m afraid you have wandered into the wrong screening.

Brought to you by the director of the fantastic, Final Destination 5, I had high hopes for Into the Storm and hoped to see something exciting and modern.

Disappointed is perhaps an understatement of how I feel about this film. My review will be short, lazy and predictable, because, I believe that’s all it deserves, as it is exactly how I would describe John Swentams screenwriting of this particular Hollywood atrocity.

I don’t believe any of the actors require, or perhaps, deserve a mention here for their ‘work’.

I’m surprised that any of the characters stayed grounded during the movie, as they are essentially cardboard cut outs of tired, cliched, zero substance, boring, rehashed no body’s, that we really couldn’t give a damn about.
The single dad who cares only about work, the cheeky son, the son who feels unloved and misses his dead mother dearly, but, is in love with the girl next door. The career girl storm chaser who has left her young child with her parents, but, suddenly gathers a conscience when the devastating storm hits. The greedy boss who cares about nothing or nobody, only his money making goal.

Yes, into the storm showcases them all. I found myself bored and irritated at the chopping and changing between found footage and normal film. Shaky cam that is annoying beyond belief, makes you want to rip your own head off, just so you have something to throw at the screen.

Sadly, the impressive effects are not enough to save this unbelievable goose egg.

I felt like I was watching a made for TV movie, which boasted excruciatingly painful dialogue and wooden acting.

Characters make suicidal decisions and spout out sentimental, straight from soap opera speeches which will make you want to vomit.

All in all, the film bears no storyline and follows appalling cliches and therefore has nothing to offer to hold your interest.

If you must see this film, hang off until it appears on Netflix or the likes. But, be careful and put your dog in another room, otherwise it’ll put him into a coma. Then again, you may find you take up a new hobby, like watching grass grow or putting your head in the oven, because if I’m honest, that’ll be much more fun.

If you feel like watching a good storm movie, then rent or buy Twister, it’s by far the best in its class.

An astounding discovery

IMG_0093-0.JPG

An establishment from a time now forgotten.
A time when Friday and Saturday nights meant a visit to one of these ancient crypts.
A time when only a few channels occupied the TV and only the ‘rich’ had satellite TV.
A time when seeing a movie either meant a trip to the cinema or to one of these crumbling wrecks.
A time when parents would use these establishments as an excuse for some free time, they had enough miles of tape to keep children browsing for several hours.

Visiting video rental stores was part of childhood. It was exciting and the next best thing to visiting the cinema.

Back then, you would never have believed that eventually, these establishments would wither away and succumb to video on demand, Netflix, Amazon Prime & Blinkbox. I mean, when I was a kid, the people who invented those very things, most certainly were just kids, like me, enjoying and experiencing video rental. Who the hell was Amazon anyway? Come to think of it, what on earth was the internet?

As I wait for my first child to join us in this world, in 3 months to be precise, I often feel sad that he’ll never feel that buzz and excitement of walking into a video store with his dad and choosing a movie for the night.

Instead, sitting in his room and searching Netflix on his iPhone, will just have to do. At least I can sit next to him, while he looks.

5 Easy ways to make your Film for free!

Filmmaking2  Filmmaking

As a dedicated and aspiring film maker, the need to find ways to create projects on small or zero budgets is always present.  In todays world, people like you and I can create quality films for the world to see from our own home.  No longer do we need to personally know Stephen Spielberg, nor does our cousins, uncles friend need to be Michael Bay (though it would certainly help!)  If you have an interest in filmmaking or you are serious about getting your work out there, there are many things you can do for free from pre-production to post, using what you probably already own or have access to.  Below is a small set of tips that I have personally used to much success.

1. Screenplay & Props

Write a screenplay yourself or collaborate with a friend.  This is the most fun way to make a film.  The chances are, you already have an idea for a film or have screenplay written and ready.  When writing your screenplay, utilise props, property, vehicles and people that you have, can borrow or know.  This means that you don’t need to out source, buy or rent anything when it comes to filming.  Below is a very short film that I created with my brother, where we did exactly this.  We came up with an idea for a film using what we had in our possession.

2. Actors

Always ask friends or family to star in your film.  This is an obvious one, and there have been many a blog or article written with the same message.  But, don’t underestimate how easy or useful it is to you, to ask people you know.  They will be happy to help and most people are up for a bit of fun and a laugh.  Furthermore, there are many websites and groups that have aspiring actors as members.  Get in touch with them, tell them what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, but you must let them know that it would be volunteer work.  I have done this several times and it has been very successful.  By doing this, you have also made a contact (and possibly a friend) for your next project.

3. Camera & Editing

Use your iPhone, iPad or similar smart device to record your footage.  These days, smart phones and tablets have massive processing and graphics power, coupled with HD cameras that are capable of beautiful photography and cinematography.  Not only that, but, there are literally hundreds of filming apps that you can download for free to assist you in your film.  Some apps now allow you to easily create Holly Wood style effects on your smart phone.  You can even edit the footage very professionally on your device, if you do not have a PC or MAC computer to edit on.  Watch the review of a fantastic special effects app that I have personally used many times.

4. Marketing

Market your film before you have made it.  Why? to create a buzz and interest.  By the time the film is complete, there should be loads of eager film buffs desperate to see it.  Use social media and blog sites to share posters or production photos of the film and the film making process.  Use Youtube to share trailers of the film.  The film doesn’t have to be complete to make a trailer.  Tease your audience with snippets of exciting action or intense drama.  Below is an example of footage that was shot and then put together to tease a certain story.

5. Realeasing & Distributing

Create and share a release date for your film.  Make sure your audience knows when it will be available to view and where they can see it.  Many aspiring filmmakers have been successful doing this by using youtube, meaning that their audience is sitting by the computer or by their smart device on the date and time when the film is released.  Embed the link on your Facebook page and on your blog.  Make sure everybody can see it.  Below are two of many posters that I created for the film, Loner, that I wrote, directed & edited on my own.

Loner2 Loner

 

You’ve had your idea forever, your desperate to turn it into a film, you have your smart phone and apps, your friends are ready.  What are you waiting for?

 

Becoming The Iron Lady

Iron Lady

When Margaret Thatcher was in Power, I was just a small boy attending Primary (Elementary) school. I can remember seeing news stories about her on the TV while I ate my dinner at night and can still see pictures of her on the front page of my Dads newspaper. I also recall listening to my parents, and sometimes teachers, discussing or debating her famous controversial policies and decisions. That is the extent of how much Margaret Thatcher influenced or affected my life.
I went to see this movie, not quite knowing what to expect. I have no particular interest in British politics, nor have I ever been inclined to learn more about the country’s very own Iron Lady. However, I did have an interest in seeing a magnificent life story told through, what should have been, a magnificent film.

The pace of the film is acceptable and it does manage to hold your interest. However, I was disappointed by how screenwriter, Abi Morgan, chose to tell this story, by focusing more on Thatcher now, a frail elderly woman who is suffering from dementia and can’t leave the house unsupervised. The story of Thatcher’s life is more in flashback form, as she struggles to cope with her husbands death and pictures and items from her past trigger her memory and send us with her into another flashback.

Meryl Streep, does not just pretend to be or act like Margaret Thatcher. She becomes her. Everything from her facial expressions, the way she walks to the way she talks. Streep joins her Mama Mia director, Phyllidia Lloyd, who’s direction is well thought out and the dull use of colouring, used often with extreme close ups of a confused and sad Thatcher certainly helps to be with her and feel her sadness. It is wonderful direction and phenomenal acting, joined by an equally brilliant Jim Broadbent, who plays Thatcher’s beloved Denis.

While you are watching magnificent acting performances and direction, it will take your mind off that you are watching just a good movie. We are given small scenes of how Thatcher chose politics as a career, a few moments on how she met her husband, Denis, and a speedy run up, to how she finally became Prime Minister. There is perhaps only 15 minutes spent on the Falklands War which was disappointing as this was probably one of Thatcher’s most famous and talked of decision‘s. This is all combined with how her choices affected her marriage and her relationship with her children.

There is clever use of editing which I really enjoyed, where actual footage of Margaret Thatcher coming into power and making her way into 10 Downing street is combined with beautifully choreographed footage of Streep re-living the scenes which is then joined together and flows brilliantly.

Margaret Thatcher was one of the most controversial, decisive, influential and talked about leaders of our time, and I really hoped to see more of these controversies and decisions throughout the movie and really thought I would leave knowing much more about the Iron Lady, than I actually did.

That really gets my goat! Part 1: Cinema Commandos

Goat 1

I love the movies. I always have. I remember way back when I was 10, and my mother would give my brother and I a few pounds each to go and see the latest Disney film or similar children’s guff while she headed off to the supermarket. It was great. The feeling and atmosphere you got from sitting in front of the big screen, waiting to get lost in an imaginary world for 90 minutes.

Years later, I still have that feeling. These days, however, I use my own money and go with friends, regardless of whether my mum is at the supermarket or not. But the feeling I get and the atmosphere I sense is still the same. The initial smell of burnt popcorn and overcooked hotdog sausages as you enter the lobby, the sound of ice cubes filling up those huge buckets that hold litres of fizzy juice, kids gawking at the huge cardboard cut out of Indiana Jones and the endless other posters and promotional cardboard that litters the walls and floor space. You just know your at the movies.

Doesn’t everybody feel the same? Don’t we all share the same passion and love for movies? Don’t we all visit the cinema and spend our hard earned cash on very expensive tickets and ridiculously overpriced confectionary because we want to and sit quietly for 90 minutes staring at the screen as we are entertained and lost in that imaginary world or adventure land? The answer to that is: No.

Some people believe that going to cinema is a fantastic place to meet with friends and sit in the dark, in single file to talk about that party they all got wasted at last Saturday night. Inconveniently, the venue that they chose as a meeting place, suddenly starts to play flashing images on the screen and accompanies it with loud music and dialogue. Naturally, the friends talk louder, so that they are able to hear one another. How rude. We can hardly hear ourselves think in here.

There are also an amazing amount of people who visit the cinema, buy their tickets and refreshments, find the theatre that their chosen film is playing in, and then decide for 15 minutes where to sit. After finding a seat, they sit through the 80’s music played over the speaker system, they watch all of the commercials and trailers. They then watch some more of the cinemas in house screening, reminding us not to smoke and to switch our phones off. Finally, the films classification board is displayed . Everyone is settled and ready. That’s fine, isn’t that what everybody does when they visit the cinema? Oh no wait, that person has decided that they forgot to buy a hotdog almost 25 minutes ago and get up and sneak, shoulders hunched, back out into the foyer, after causing the entire row to raise their knees, twice!

I recently had another encounter at the cinema. This one involved a film that had been out for a while which was screened in one of the cinema’s smaller theatres. Not many people, 8 in total, including myself and my friend. Although, we did have a late arrival. A loner in a red tracksuit, loaded with a litre of coke, nachos, a hotdog and a bucket of maltesers. Of course, as I just mentioned, this particular theatre was literally packed!(not!) So of course there was nowhere, at all, for this guy to sit except from directly behind us. The next 15 minutes consisted of my friend and I listening to nachos being chomped and a hotdog being gulped down while they were both washed down several times with rivers of coke. But it didn’t end there. Obviously very satisfied with his evening feast and comforted the by the warn and relaxing atmosphere provided by the cinema, what else is a guy to do, but take a nap….and snore uncontrollably. Luckily, I was armed with some maltesers myself, and after 5 minutes of listening to sleeping beauties sinus problems, he was abruptly awakened by a runaway chocolate ball. He remained awake for the remainder of the showing.

I know that there will be many people out there nodding their heads in agreement with me. Others will be shaking there heads in disagreement, stating it’s a free world, we can talk and sleep when and where we want. This is true. But surely we all have enough common sense and self control to realise when it is appropriate to conduct these actions.

So to all of you out there who insist on irritating the living daylights out of people who have a genuine enjoyment from visiting the cinema, I have set out a few suggestions for you, to stop you ‘getting our goats!’

1. If your friends from the other side of the planet are on their first day of visiting you- go to a bar or a restaurant. You can talk and laugh as much as you like and nobody will care.

2. If your on a first date, rent a DVD, cook dinner and cosy up together in the privacy of your own surroundings. Remember, some movies shown at the cinema are for younger viewers, too!

3. Your best mate normally calls you around the same time every night. However, you’ve arranged to see a movie tonight with your boy/girlfriend. Call your mate first and let them know you can talk right now or later, because, of course, you will inevitably forget to switch your phone off in the cinema and if you are a real idiot, you may even answer it!

4. Your tired, its been a long day at work and your on the early shift tomorrow. A bit of advice: go to bed and watch a DVD in there. Why pay good money on travel and a box office ticket, just to miss the entire show?

To those of you who follow these simple steps, you will keep the true movie goers happy and you will certainly save yourself a lot of money and embarrassment. Furthermore, you may save yourself from even more painstaking embarrassment, when you suddenly carryout one of the deadly cinema sins and you’re reported to the usher. Who, quite rightly so, bans you from the establishment for unsociable behaviour.  Most of all, however, it really, really gets my goat!

Goat has been got!

12 Things we learned from Die Hard

It’s a classic.  We love it.  We grew up with it.  We still watch it, excited, thrilled and rooting for unsuspecting cop, John Mclane.  When realesed in 1987, John McTiernans Die Hard set a new standard for action movies, while spiralling Bruce Willis into superstardom and pocketing him, a then unheard of, $5 million dollar pay day.  Even today, Die Hard has not lost any of its charm, wit, or gritty action feel.  Though I’d never dare to admit how many hours of my life have disappeared due to watching this film, I’ve seen enough to compile a list of things Ive ‘learned’.  Whether they be fact or fiction, who cares? John Mclane has taught us afterall.

TV Dinner

1. Cramped, sweaty, claustrophobic, unsure, scared to death and like you’re crawling inside an air-con unit, within an elevator shaft.  John Mclane certainly cleared up how a TV dinner must feel, all of the time.

Fists with your toes

2. Making fists with your toes, apparently helps you over your fear of flying, after you’ve flown.

Terrorists

3. Any terrorist organisation that enters the USA, are German, 6 feet tall, have long hair (mostly blonde) and speak sentences non sensical to the German language.

Fire hose around waist

4. Swinging off of a tower building, such as the Nakatomi Tower, with a fire hose wrapped around your waist and colliding into a window, is not enough to break the glass.  Instead, swinging out, firing your gun and shattering the glass is currently the most effective way to get back inside.

Ordering a pizza

5. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be in a predicament such as John Mclanes, contacting the authorities via a civilian handheld radio will only be taken as a hoax and you will most likely be taken as a clown ordering a pizza.

lobby

6. Every imaginable piece of equipment in the Nakatomi Tower (auto doors, elevators, packing shutters etc. etc.) are seeming all controlled from 1 very dated computer behind the reception desk in the lobby.

elevator shaft

7. The inside of elevator shafts of the Nakatomi Tower, appear to be very manouverable and seemingly an easier way to navigate through the building.

Air con Shaft

8. Aircon shafts appear to be capable of sustaining the weight of a grown man, such as John Mclane, while he hides from tall, long blonde terrorists.

yippe ki yay

9. Even when under attack or during times of distress, or when just escaping death, it may still be possible to spout out a witty comment or one liner in relation to your current situation, to yourself.

explosion

10. Dropping a 1980’s computer monitor, while tied to a swivel chair, down an elevator shaft, will cause a devastating explosion and blast any glass screen doors into next Tuesday while covering any unsuspecting police officers or spectators unlucky enough to be standing outside.

safe

11. If you wish to rob a building containing a safe of $60 million in bearer bonds, such as the Nakatomi Tower, don’t hijack the building and risk your years of planning being screwed by an unsuspecting yahoo cop in a vest.  Simply kill the power to building from the main grid and the safe will open!

Hans Falling

12. If you are accidentally (or purposely) dropped from the 30th floor of a tower building, it will take you approximately 5 seconds to smash to your ugly death below.

“You’ll pay for this in Die Hard 3 John Mclaaaaaaaannnnneee…….”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑