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I\'ve just posted my 2010 Editor\'s Reel on my NEWSIGNAL: filmmaking blog. Plus you can continue to follow my monthly photo galleries, this month\'s entitled Lines.

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From the New York Times – Saving the Story (the Film Version)

January 29, 2009
From the New York Times:
November 18, 2008


LOS ANGELES — The movie world has been fretting for years about the collapse of stardom. Now there are growing fears that another chunk of film architecture is looking wobbly: the story.

In league with a handful of former Hollywood executives, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory plans to do something about that on Tuesday, with the creation of a new Center for Future Storytelling.

The center is envisioned as a “labette,” a little laboratory, that will examine whether the old way of telling stories — particularly those delivered to the millions on screen, with a beginning, a middle and an end — is in serious trouble.

Its mission is not small. “The idea, as we move forward with 21st-century storytelling, is to try to keep meaning alive,” said David Kirkpatrick, a founder of the new venture.

Once president of the Paramount Pictures motion picture group, Mr. Kirkpatrick last year joined some former colleagues in starting Plymouth Rock Studios, a planned Massachusetts film production center that will provide a home for M.I.T.’s storytelling lab while supporting it with $25 million over seven years.

Arguably, the movies are as entertaining as ever. With a little help from holiday comedies like “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey and “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler, the domestic motion picture box office appears poised to match last year’s gross revenues of $9.7 billion, a record.

But Mr. Kirkpatrick and company are not alone in their belief that Hollywood’s ability to tell a meaningful story has been nibbled at by text messages, interrupted by cellphone calls and supplanted by everything from Twitter to Guitar Hero.

“I even saw a plasma screen above a urinal,” said Peter Guber, the longtime film producer and former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment who contends that traditional narrative — the kind with unexpected twists and satisfying conclusions — has been drowned out by noise and visual clutter.

A common gripe is that gamelike, open-ended series like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Spider-Man” have eroded filmmakers’ ability to wrap up their movies in the third act. Another is that a preference for proven, outside stories like the Harry Potter books is killing Hollywood’s appetite for original storytelling.

Mr. Guber, who teaches a course at the University of California, Los Angeles, called “Navigating in a Narrative World,” is singularly devoted to story. Almost 20 years ago Mr. Guber made a colossal hit of Warner Brothers’ “Batman” after joining others in laboring over the story for the better part of a decade.

Read more…


Ted Hope: Hopeful Thinking for the Future of Filmmaking

January 29, 2009

Posted from, just recently filmmaker and blogger Ted Hope posted a comprehensive perspective on the future direction of filmmakers and filmmaking, the methods of distributing content, and ideas for innovating and thriving in the future.   Here’s a hint: Collaboration is king.  Totally New Era Thinking!

Hope’s piece takes a different tone and perspective from Mark Gill‘s 2008 key note speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival‘s Financing Conference, that Yes, The Sky Really is Falling, but both should be mandatory reading for anyone now or aspiring to a career in filmmaking and media. And while Hope’s piece is definitely the most upbeat, both pieces I believe are reasons for optimism.

The future for all of us means expanding our fields of expertise, and depending on each other for their input and expertise.  As filmmakers, many of us tend to laud “The Auteur“.  I know when I was in school I thought about “what Stanley Kubrick would do”.  But as I moved into the field professionally, I soon realized how far from a solitary art filmmaking is, and that even the lauded auteurs were seldom truly alone.  This is the wave of the future for our industry, and really, our society.


–Stefan Rhys

In case you haven’t heard, our business is in the midst of a transformation from a limited supply gatekeeper entertainment economy based on impulse buys to a new paradigm based on creator-controlled content and an ongoing dialogue with the audience. This affects all of us: filmmakers, exhibitors, distributors, and film lovers.

It once was that distributors generally only made available films that fit their pre-existing marketing model. Their marketing spend was not based on the film’s content – but their acquisition or production of a film was based on justifying that pre-set marketing spend. We (both the filmmaking and film exhibiting community) are now just learning how to determine, and to access, what an appropriate marketing spend—based on the film that was actually made – is, and in the process, we are learning how to prepare for, access, and exploit what have far too long been under-utilized tools and practices: community, collaboration, and appreciation.

Community, collaboration, and appreciation. These tools are the new tools. These are the good old tools. These tools are where our marketing money also now needs to be spent.

But let’s ALL step out of The Hell Of Now, and instead let’s imagine the future. Let’s imagine next year. Let’s imagine what the production/distribution/marketing/exhibition alliance could be like in a very short time. Let’s imagine what it would be like if we established a “Best Practices” for filmmakers and exhibitors alike and thus clarify what audiences can expect. These three entities—filmmakers, exhibitors, audiences—that want to create, exhibit and appreciate diverse high quality specialized work to the fullest.

Let’s imagine that next year is actually right now. So what does this present (formerly the future) look like?

  • Each side recognizes each other as a partner – a critical partner – a partner that wants to inspire the other to the highest level of work and experience.
  • Filmmakers recognize that completing their film is only half the work.
  • They recognize that the other half of the job is both marketing their film and maintaining a dialogue with their audience.
  • The filmmaker is taking responsibility for their work through the end (aka forever).
  • They no longer entertain dreams of riches exchanged for rights.
  • They no longer anticipate surrendering control of their film to distributors.
  • The filmmaker now thinks of their ultimate creation as what will be their body of work. They no longer look at each movie as a stand-alone entity. They recognize it is all a continuum.
  • They no longer see themselves contained with a single form of medium. They make long and short form work for different platforms and different audiences.
  • They look at all their work as an ongoing dialogue with an evolving audience.
  • The filmmaker has already established at least one platform from which to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their audience(s). This platform will be: Blogs and/or Social Networks. They maintain regular – daily or weekly – contact with their audience. They reward them, and visa versa.
  • The filmmaker is no longer an isolated individual who only looks out for his or her own singular work. The filmmaker is a curator, championing others’ work. And others champion their work in return
  • The filmmaker is an “expanded” collaborator who encourages audiences/fans participation, both or a richer dialogue and to mine their desires. She considers exhibitors’ needs in terms of reaching an audience.
  • The filmmaker thinks for the long tail and they ask how their film will be discovered in ten years. They ask how will their film be relevant in ten years.
  • The filmmaker recognizes that their action affects others, and they will either build on success or be burdened by others’ failure. They recognize that financial outcome is one measure of success but that audience and infrastructure building is another. Mostly they want to encourage good behavior in others.
  • The filmmaker knows that power is a collective experience not a private one. They believe in an “open source” culture. They share information with others who share information.

How does this filmmaker work? Before the filmmaker shoots a frame, before she raises any money, this filmmaker identifies the audiences for the film and where those audiences can be reached. This filmmaker finds where the discussion of the issues within the film are taking place, identifies possible promotional partners for the film, be they brands or advocacy organizations.

Read more…

Rest in Peace, Uncle Forry

December 9, 2008

One of my most cherished memories of childhood, and perhaps one of those golden threads in my life that connects my earliest memories and dreams to the man I am today, was a visit to this man’s home.

Forrest J. Ackerman inspired a lot of people who love movies, movie monsters and the Science Fiction genre.  The editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, he was friend and influence to many.  Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi (he’s wearing one of Bela’s Dracula rings in this picture, and will likely be buried with it, as I remember him saying) Rick Baker, Ray Bradbury, and Vincent Price.  He was also friend and advisor to Sci-Fi (Ackerman was widely credited with coining the term, Sci-Fi) writers such as Robert Heinlein, Charles Beaumont and Marion Zimmer Bradley.  A look at his wikipedia page will show the wide impact this man had on many generations of creators and dreamers.

When I was a fifth grader at Triunfo Elementary School, I had Alan Grossman for my teacher.  Mr. Grossman was definitely one of my favorite teachers.  One of the things our class did as a group was to do a large mural of E.T. The Extraterrestrial which we ended up sending to Steven Spielberg.  One lucky kid later that year got that mural back autographed and dedicated by Spielberg himself.  Grossman did a lot of things like that to capture our imagination.

Mr. Grossman himself was a friend of Ackerman’s.  In fact, both of them were in John Landis’s movie, Schlock (Ackerman had a cameo, Grossman was an extra in a movie theatre).  He also had an open invitation to the Ackermansion in the Griffith Park/Los Feliz area of Los Angeles for all of his students.  I remember hearing about the trips even in 3rd and 4th grade.  So when I was finally lucky enough to have Mr. Grossman as a teacher, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Read more…

Don’t Vote – Wil B. & The Billionaires

October 25, 2008

The music video I directed and produced for “The Billionaires” last month.  This version has not been sanitized for your protection.

To read more about the video you can read this post.

Enjoy. . .

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What? Posting TWO weeks in a row? What’s this world coming to?

October 16, 2008

Yeah, yeah. . . Call it industrious boredom.

Trust me.  People are going to going to google this post just to find out what one far-from-industrious-blogger is doing two weeks in a row.  And then they will pinch themselves.  Like I am now.

Ouch. Stop that.  

So I made a music video with John McCain in it.  Seriously. . .

Bob McEwen as John "Maverick" McCain

Bob McEwen as John "Maverick" McCain


When I say John McCain was in it, I mean a guy by the name of Bob played John McCain. It’s all about nuance. And really, if you take a look at the video, you’ll see just how nuanced it is.  Like Marcel Proust only “Maverick-ier”.  

But here’s the deal, I am gonna be a real bastard and make you jump to my new blog for the link.  Don’t worry, I am not making you jump through hoops with no payoff.  It’s just worth doing because I talk a bit about the video.  And, I don’t sound like I am drinking.

The Payoff

Before you leave however, I should do some explainin’.  I’ve decided at this point, not to abandon Signal>Noise entirely.  It still gets hits believe it or not. Even with my industrious-ness-ness (or lack there of).  NEWSIGNAL: is a chance for me to be very specific, very focused.  

But I got to thinking, what happens if I decide to write a post like this?  Something less focused, or talking about something un-related to filmmaking?  Yeah. I’ll do that here.  It’ll be neat. And keen. And swell.

God, I talk all hip-like.  Just like the kids. . .

And finally, I am gonna do YOU a favor.  And a favor for a dope filmmaka’ who lent his mad skilz to “Don’t Vote”.  His name’s Garrett Brawith and well he did something dope with his time. Garrett directed a music video too.  It’s called “Boobie Tassels and Tangerines”.

This one’s sure to get out the vote come November 4th. Click on da rappa to score da goods. . .

So for now, this signal’s here to stay and I’ll be workin’ up some fresh content in the days to come.  In the meantime, you can always add the feed for the NEWSIGNAL: when I get around to hookin’ it up. . .

Peace, young ‘uns!



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New Signal Coming Soon. . .

October 6, 2008

There are a few of you who might still be curious about what this aspiring filmmaker has been up to.  Yes, due to a high lack of blogging activity, I can probably count you on one hand. Lately, lack of activity or for that matter, lack of original posts has been due to time spent to a number of pursuits, all of them valuable.

First of all, I have been spending a lot of time dedicated to my association with Unconventional Media, the producer of Need for Speed: Undercover’s filmed interstitials. I wrote in a bit of detail about that work here, and even more insight can be found on my partner’s blog.

Recently, I was approached by “The Billionaires” to direct a music video just in time for election season.  In case you don’t know The Billionaires, they are a political satire group that has been around since 2000, and actively calling attention to financial and political corruption of the American democratic process.  We have completed that video and are just about ready to unleash it on the world.  More to come very soon. . .

In the coming days, my blog will be moving to its new home at:

Coffee Cart

It will be a more focused blog, and with any luck, I’ll be posting more stuff on it.  Things more centered on work, ideas and the development of those ideas. We’ll see what happens.  For those of you who do follow me, I hope you’ll drop me a comment to say hello.

Here’s to the future. . .


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In Memoriam: Paul Newman 1925-2008

September 29, 2008

“It was one of my life’s proudest achievements. More than the films, more than the awards — finding out that I was on Nixon’s Enemies List meant that I was doing something right.”

Paul Newman