“Perfidy” Kickstarter Project

We’ve started a Kickstarter project to try and help fund our little film. There are a few incentives, and we can use all the help we can get.

If you’re interested in helping out, check out the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jerichomccune/perfidy-a-short-film-canton-ohio

Any size donation is appreciated, even if it is only a buck.

Also, don’t forget – tomorrow (July 26th) we’ll be auditioning down at Instant Karma, in downtown Massillon. Even if you’re not an actor, you may know one so don’t be afraid to spread the word.

More updates coming soon!

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Calling All Artists and Techs – “Perfidy” Short Film in Pre-production

“Perfidy,” a short film written by myself, has gone into pre-production. We (my team and I) are looking for anyone that would like to help.

Currently, we are searching for all areas of expertise, with a special focus on Sound, Make-up and Talent.

We are casting for six to seven roles. We need 3 women and 3-4 men, mid-twenties to early thirties. The lead female and lead male will have highly emotional roles, but the others have some charge to them as well.

I will post more details in the near future. If you are interested in being involved, contact me via Facebook, leave a reply to this post or call me if you have my number.

Also, if you can support us monetarily, check out our Kickstarter Project.

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This Post Is Derivative (Like Hollywood Movies)

Increasingly, sequels seem to be popping up everywhere. People have been complaining about the number of remakes, reimaginings, reinventings, rehashings and straight-up sequels that Hollywood has produced, especially within the last few years. 2007 was already knighted as “the Year of the Sequel,” and 2011 is set to trump that all to hell.

Generally, when people discuss this trend, the conversation leads to how unoriginal Hollywood is. The amount of movies that are part of a franchise or brand show that Hollywood finds the idea of making money more important than the idea of making movies. It is up to independent and foreign craftsmen to keep the cinema alive as a place to see art. Occasionally Hollywood gets it right, but it takes a unique auteur like Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, or the Fargo brothers to get ‘er done.

Friends, Hollywood was birthed in 1910 when a guy named D.W. Griffith decided he wanted to see what was up the hill from a bunch of orange groves. By 1914, sequels became the bread and butter of the movie business. The 2010 movie, “The Green Hornet,” owes its very existence to the serial mentality of the entertainment business, even if it got its start on radio – along with certain soap operas, westerns and detective shows.

None of that, of course, means anything. “Oedipus Rex” was part of a trilogy, and was reimagined by a French guy. That fact does not change the face of Hollywood today, and the fact that Hollywood has become an unoriginal movie machine. Romantic comedies feel like they are written from a MadLibs style cheat sheet. Thrillers just aren’t thrilling, because you know what’s going to happen. Everything feels derivative.

Do you remember the discussion in “Swingers” about films being derivative? Go back and watch it again. Later. After you finish reading this.

In one conversation around the poker table, the boys discuss how crazy it was to shoot part of “Goodfellas” in a casino because of the cost, how awesome the walking scene from “Reservoir Dogs” was, and how Tarantino stole all of his lighting techniques from Scorsese. Immediately after, we cut to a slow-mo of the five guys walking down the alley, a la Tarantino.

“Swingers” is one of the darlings of indie cinema. It was shot on a $250k budget (even though the first third of the movie is set in a casino) and had a great cast, with a script by Jon Favreau that was pure money. Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau were lean and hungry, and it showed. Even though parts of the movie were in-your-face derivative, the movie was very well received by critics and audiences. Jon Favreau would go on to direct “Elf,” one of the most imaginative and creative holiday films in recent history. He would become a household name for directing the two Iron Man movies. This year, he’s directing “Cowboys and Aliens,” which is sure to spawn an eventual sequel if it makes as much money as the studio expects.

Another genius of the holiday movie is Tim Burton, who made me want to sing holiday songs again with the “Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack. He made some of the most original movies my generation had the opportunity to grow up with, including “Edward Scissorhands” and “Beetle Juice.” He also made two Batman movies, a Planet of the Apes movie (another, by a different director, is due out this year), and is currently filming “Dark Shadows,” a movie that is based on a television show from 1966. After that, he’ll work on “Frankenweenie,” a film based on a short film that was originally made by… Tim Burton.

He isn’t the first director to do this. Alfred Hitchcock released “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in 1934, then directed it again in 1956. Does this mean he ran out of ideas? Of course not, it just means he wanted to revisit his old ideas and try and do something better, or at least different. Ron Livingston hits the nail on the head when he introduces the aforementioned walk with “everybody steals from everybody, what’s the big deal?”

The word derivative is thrown around too easily, by too many people so intent on complaining about the things they don’t like they can’t take a minute to appreciate the things they do like. Was “Grifters” derivative of “Oedipus Rex” because Angelica Houston tried to get her some John Cusack at the end? Was “O Brother, Where Art Thou” pure crap because it was lifted from Greek drama? Is “Larry Crowne” going to be derivative of “American Beauty” because Tom Hanks loses his job at the beginning of the movie, just like Kevin Spacey did?

The bulk of performance art has always, and will always, be derivative. The Metropolitan Opera is performing “Faust” and “Macbeth” this year. Because nobody is original any more. The Boston Symphony Orchestra will be covering Mozart at the beginning of October. Because they can’t come up with any new ideas.

Broadway is famous for its revivals. This year is host to “Anything Goes” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying,” among others. It is also host to “Book of Mormon,” one of the most unique musicals. Ever.

Next year, Clint Eastwood will direct a movie starring Beyonce, called “A Star Is Born.” It is a remake of a 1976 film that starred Barbara Streisand. That version was the second-highest grossing film of the year, behind “Rocky,” a then-unique sports-underdog movie. Everyone loved Babs in the movie, but many purists still think she didn’t do nearly as well as Judie Garland, who starred in “A Star Is Born” in 1954. That role was credited as helping revitalize Ms. Garland’s career, even if she did seem a little out of it in a few (more than a few) of the scenes. Of course, the original film was produced in 1937 and was nominated for seven Oscars, which means none of the others should have ever been made in the first place.

A prediction: the new version will be hammered because it’s “another Hollywood remake” and “further proof that Hollywood has run out of original ideas.” 2012 will see plenty of franchise movies and sequels of its own. I count over 45. If you look close enough, though, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

The never-ending stream of Hollywood sequels and reboots is just that – Never Ending. Hollywood turned into the movie-making mecca it is because of serials, and nothing is ever going to stop that. And nothing is ever going to stop filmmakers from creating art when they feel the urge. Perhaps it’s time for the two camps to learn how to live together.

What do you think about all of the reboots and remakes in Hollywood?

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If You’re Bored…

Draw a comic strip.

I need another beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell, draw two.

Name's Ball Of Thunder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell, if you’re really bored, draw a slew.

For me, the slew will have to wait just a bit.

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Must See TV – Canadian Edition

Although Canada and America share the longest unprotected border in the world, Americans are still blissfully unaware of most things Canadian – if that weren’t the case, Sarah Polley (Go, Dawn of the Dead) would be a household name.

Vancouver has become a shining jewel of filmmaking, and it would be hard to argue that “You Can’t Do That On Television” and the Degrassis, in all their forms, helped shape Generation X, but the reality is that most Canadian television shows are rarely seen south of the border. “Kids In The Hall” and “Reboot” (did anyone even know that “Reboot” was Canadian?) are rare exceptions.

Canadian programming has more influence on American culture than we think. “Fraggle Rock,” the Jim Henson favorite everyone on the planet loves, was an HBO coproduction with the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC). The new Starz serial “Camelot” is produced by the CBC. “Kenny Vs. Spenny” was Canadian. “The Polka Dot Door” was, too.

I may be the only one left alive that remembers “Kenny Vs. Spenny.”

That being said, here are a few currently airing shows, and a few shows that can be found on DVD that are worth looking out for.

Little Mosque On The Prairie

Little Mosque“Little Mosque On The Prairie” has been around since 2007, and it really is a shame Americans aren’t watching it. The show revolves around a Muslim community in the middle of Saskatchewan. Although the name sounds like “Little House On The Prairie,” the two shows don’t have anything in common.

Feeling a bit like “Northern Exposure,” the plot revolves around a man from Toronto that answers an advertisement to become the imam of Mercy, the 10,000 soul town the show is set in. The mosque the show is named after is a rented space in the town’s Anglican church.

There are the obligatory jokes that involve cultural differences between Muslims and non-Muslims, but most of the shows humor is very much traditional sitcom writing, which is one of the reasons the show should get more attention. The community of Mercy is a shining example of how a Muslim community in North America isn’t really much different than any other sort of community, and as long as we work together we can set the differences aside for the better of us all.

Lost Girl

Lost Girl Poster“Lost Girl” is a neat little show I started watching because the main character is a succubus and her sidekick is a cute little goth chick. Yes, I can be that shallow. I’ve continued to watch it because it has become quite interesting.

Set in modern-day Toronto (I think; it’s ambiguous), “Lost Girl” revolves around Bo, a succubus that just discovered there is a whole Fey community she’s never known about. She picks up her sidekick, Kenzi, at a bar after she saves her from date rape, and the wisecracks between the two help keep the show light and fresh. As the greater story unfolds, we meet a number of other supernatural beings. She partners with a werewolf and occasionally a banshee, and ends up having to fight will-o-wisps and other nasties as time goes by.

“Lost Girl” is on hiatus at the moment, but the second season should be coming around. You know how to use the internet, so you should be able to find it.

Hiccups

Premiering in 2010 on CTV, “Hiccups” is a pretty straightforward sitcom featuring a wacky woman that makes a mint writing children’s books but doesn’t really handle everyday life very well. She hires a kind-hearted but fairly inept life coach and hilarity ensues.

“Hiccups” is just mindlessly funny. Every episode ends with a short story set in the “Grumpaloo” world, which is the series of books the main character created, and an amusing moral is made from the episode’s events, but the show never takes itself too seriously and doesn’t expect the viewers to, either.

ON DVD

SCTV

Second City TelevisionSecond City Television (SCTV) may or may not be the funniest sketch show ever produced (depending on who you ask), but it certainly ranks up there with Monty Python, “Hee-Haw,” early “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color.”

The premise behind the series is that SCTV is a local television station that produces local programming. This means that sketches can cover just about anything, and with the talents of people like John Candy, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis and Martin Short you can be rest assured that they do their best to cover any and all ground coverable.

SCTV started in 1976 and was produced on a shoestring budget. The sets are cheap and often reused, as are props. But the makeup is great (sitting in a chair isn’t expensive) and the cast made a point of pushing the boundries of sketch TV as often as possible to the delight of fans.

The entire series is available on DVD. I suggest starting with the second or third seasons, then picking up the rest when you fall in love with it.

Road to Avonlea

With four Emmys, this show may be one of the most popular Canadian shows nobody in the US realized was Canadian. American’s may remember is as simply “Avonlea.” Regardless of what it’s called, “Road to Avonlea” is one of those wholesome family shows that create a fuzzy, feel-good in the tummy when it is over.

Based on a series of books by L. M. Montgomery, who also wrote the “Anne of Green Gables” series, the story revolves around a small, fictional town on Prince Edwards Island in the early 1900s. At the beginning of the series, most of the episodes revolve around Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley), a young girl from Montreal that is sent to live with her aunt, but seasons expand to focus on residents of the town. This helped the show continue when the star went away to college and had to leave the cast, but she did return to guest star on a few episodes.

The show had a huge amount of guest stars (Ryan Gosling, Faye Dunaway) and received piles of awards, so if anyone is looking for a family show that appeals to young women, this is the bees knees.

That’s just a taste of Canadian TV. There’s a ton more out there, so don’t be afraid to explore.

Which Canadian shows do you think I should check out?

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Riveting Women of 2010

This year, the Best Actress in a Leading Role race is filled with decidedly somber and dark roles. Although I haven’t seen “Rabbit Hole” yet, I have read some of the reviews and from the sound of it, it is decidedly somber. Given the performances she is being judged against, I’m certainly looking forward to the film and I’m sure she gave the performance of a lifetime. There hasn’t really been much buzz about its chances, though, so I’m guessing it’s a long shot.

I finally got around to seeing “The Kids Are Alright,” and although it doesn’t change my opinion on Ruffalo’s chances, I was greatly pleased with the film. Annette Bening’s portrayal of the wounded but responsible half of a lesbian couple was stunning. I was chatting with someone at The Moose the other day that argued Julianne Moore’s performance was the stand-out work in the film. I agree that it was stellar as well, but I think Bening had to work a lot harder to effectively communicate to the audience all of the emotions she was dealing with and that is why she got the nomination. Unfortunately for her, it was too nuanced for the Academy and I think that will cost her the gold.

Michelle Williams performed wonderfully in “Blue Valentine” as a young nurse dealing with the disintegration of her family. Many people thought Ryan Gosling was going to get a nomination for this film as well, but he was passed over for Franco and Bardem. While Williams did an exceptional job conveying emotion, the film was overall too small and personal a work to drive her to the finish.

There is talk about Jennifer Lawrence scoring a huge upset with “Winter’s Bone.” Her gritty, desperate Osark’s youth was as spot-on as any performance I’ve ever seen. She wore the role on her like a second skin and there is no wonder why she is getting so much attention. The problem with the role is that it wasn’t as in-your-face as it could be. Jennifer Lawrence made the role work because she was able to make people see what she was feeling, while still bottling it up while she pursued her goals. Subdued work doesn’t come to the forefront of a voter’s mind when they’re staring at a ballot.

“Black Swan”‘s Natalie Portman was anything but subdued. The emotional deconstruction her character goes through is easily the most talked about performance of the year. It’s also the most powerful performance of the year and that is why I, and the Academy, will give it the win.

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Better Than Expected

Melena Ryzik, aka The Carpetbagger, just posted  her predictions for the Oscars. Why do I care? Because her predictions for all of the primary categories are exactly the same as mine. Give me some time and you’ll see my column in the Hollywood Reporter or the NYTimes.

Hah!

Two glaring differences between our predictions: Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film. I’ll be honest, her predictions are much more qualified than mine. My Best Documentary prediction goes to “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and my Best Foreign Language Film prediction goes to “Biutiful.” I loved Exit and I was impartial to Biutiful. My predictions were based on Buzz. I haven’t seen “The Inside Job” or “In A Better World.” Yet.

Anyway, The Carpetbagger runs a great column on the NYTimes if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Add it to your RSS feed aggregator of choice. And add mine, because it seems I actually might know what I’m talking about.

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