Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Feature Length Music Video

No, I'm not talking about this. Nor am I one of those individuals complaining about 'MTV-style editing' destroying contemporary cinema.*

Recently, it has been reported that Harvey Scissorhands has been looking to buy a silent feature film called THE ARTIST. It's made by the French and is in Black and White. No, wait, don't go! It looks pretty damn cool from the trailer.

The Weinsteins are aiming for a full theatrical release in the US, following a big splash in Cannes. There's been much discussion amongst cinephiles as to whether there's a market for it. After all, does anyone still watch silent movies?

My response is that they do, they're just called something different. Thousands are made every year. They air on VH1, GAC, CMT, MTV, CMC, MAX, etc., they're released in compilation form on DVD and some rack up millions of views on YouTube and Vimeo. Yes, they're music videos.

After all, silent movies were never actually silent. Despite the lack of a sync soundtrack, they were always accompanied by music - a string band, piano player, jazz quartet or whatever. The only essential difference between a silent film and a music video is that the accompanying music has lyrics in the latter and not the former.

I've seen many people in the industry (mainly DOPs) assert that sound killed pictures. As an Aaron Sorkin fan, I disagree with this, but I get their point.

Since I've started making music videos, I've grown to appreciate the restrictions the form places on you. No dialogue need apply, keep your shots short and cut to the rhythm of the song. Little stories played out over three minutes and change. No room for anything extraneous. It's a wonderful discipline

So perhaps the secret to marketing THE ARTIST is for Bob and Harvey to bill it as a 'Feature Length Music Video'. Sounds like a fun night out to me, although I suspect Lady Gaga's people will get around to this before I do.

*This is crap. Ken Russell was using those kind of editing techniques in TOMMY, which predates MTV by six years.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Elitist Bastards Go To The Movies

In my spare time, I do the artwork for a film podcast entitled Elitist Bastards Go to the Movies.
It's hosted by Ken Hanke and Justin Souther, the film critics for Asheville, NC's Mountain Xpress newspaper.

I've been reading Hanke since I was thirteen years old. He is, hands down, my favourite film critic. (Sorry, Dr. Kermode). He's had a discernible influence on my writing style and he's worth reading for the prose alone, separate from his cinematic insight. He's always happy to engage with his readers on the Xpress site's comment sections and I've built up a great relationship with him online over the years. He liked BSATCOP.

Justin Souther is Robin to his Batman. Joining the paper a few short years ago, Justin is often dealt an underhanded blow by his boss, who palms off the latest talking animal monstrosity onto him. Mr. Souther was once threatened with having to review Marmaduke, but he threatened to quit rather than throw himself on this particular grenade. Justin's prose style is of a very similar strain to Ken's, to the extent that readers who can't read by-lines often address abusive comments to Ken by mistake.

Exactly one year ago, the two started up a podcast together, under the generosity of the paper (who provides file hosting) and the Carolina Cinema on Hendersonville Road (where they record the episodes). Production is handled by 'Miami' Steve Shanafelt, who has been dubbed the show's Coherer for his editing ability.

From the second episode onwards, I have been providing the artwork - at first variations on Ken's oft-spoken theory that 'nothing can't be improved by a monkey stampede', which resulted in art like this:

After I while, I ran out of simian-based ideas, so I switched over to a more cinematic theme, parodying posters of the films under discussion. These are some of my favourites:

If you're intrigued by the imagery, take a stroll on over to the Elitist Bastards fan page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElitistBastards

The podcast is also available through iTunes once a week, but I recommend heading over to the Mountain X site and joining in the discussion.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Statement of Intent (and Self-Justification)

Hello, I'm Jeremy. I live in Australia and, amongst other things, make movies.

So what am I doing starting a blog?

I've been known, amongst my acquaintances, to decry the practice of people making websites about themselves, especially blogs. Once upon a time, I often pontificate, these were called diaries, and people put locks on them to stop strangers reading them. Websites are for people with careers in public industries like politics and the media.

Well, I turned around the other day and realised I had a career in the media.

So why a blog?

Mainly because I enjoy writing, and it's a good excuse to do so, without the bother of creating interesting characters or situations to write about.

So, what I will be writing about here:
- My work, both shameless plugs and behind the scenes insights (I use that term as loosely as possible).
- The industries I work in (music and film).

What I will be avoiding like a Uwe Boll picture:
- Everything else.
- Particularly politics (unless it crosses over with my work).
- My non-professional life (includes dating and derivations therefrom).

So let me wind back slightly and justify that earlier statement from the up the page that I have a career in the media.

I finished high school on a Friday in 2007, and the next Monday I started editing my first television commercial campaign, for US country singer Gary Allan's 2008 Australian concert tour. I look back on it now and some aspects (the font choices in particular) are a bit embarrassing to me, but it was of a good enough standard to broadcast. I would call that the start of my career.

In the intervening years, I've cut numerous TVC campaigns for artists including Taylor SwiftTommy EmmanuelDe La Soul and Joe Nichols. At least one of those names should be familiar to you. This is probably my speciality, and I've got pretty good at them. Here's the latest one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EYLnpe5OxY

My vocational goal has never been to edit TV commercials. I always intended to move into Music Videos and I got my chance when Catherine Britt, impressed by a short film I'd made called Damaged Goods, hired me to cut a clip for her for a song called Not Your Cinderella. Thanks to Catherine's largesse I was now a music video director. Since then, I've shot clips for Buddy Goode, Mark Wells and Peter McWhirter (twice) and one for the soundtrack of my feature film Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins.

If I'm known at all, it's for that. BSATCOP, as it's become known among the faithful, is about ass-backwards as a film gets. It's based on a title (strike one) that was spun off from a throwaway gag in a movie review (strike two and three). I wrote, directed, produced and edited the thing in 2010 and released it in 2011. Stephen Fry is in it, so the apex of my career has been reached…

So, there's me bonafides. Stay tuned and hopefully we can have some fun here.