The summer solstice is important to the Burning Man community, as its when the first Burning Man event happened on San Francisco's Baker some 34 years ago. For this year's anniversary, Larry: the Burning Man Story, a new film about its Stetson-wearing founder Larry Harvey, will premiere through three live online screenings held in three time zones (details below). A live Q&A session will follow each screening. Suggested donation is $10 and all proceeds will support Burning Man Project.
Produced by Profiles in Dust in collaboration with Burning Man Project, the new film Larry: A Burning Man Story chronicles the life and influence of Burning Man’s iconic founder, featuring never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with Larry’s friends, family and colleagues.
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Screening 1: Asia/Pacific Saturday, June 20 at 04:00 GMT (9PM PDT) 12:00 in Beijing (June 21) 13:00 in Tokyo (June 21) 14:00 in Sydney (June 21)
Screening 2: Europe/Mideast/Africa Sunday, June 21 at 16:00 GMT (9AM PDT) 17:00 in London 18:00 in Berlin 19:00 in Tel Aviv
Screening 3: The Americas Sunday, June 21 at 20:00 GMT (1PM PDT) 13:00 in San Francisco 16:00 in New York 17:00 in Rio de Janeiro
Both rookie filmmakers and analog die-hards alike will find something to love in Danny Plotnick’s new coffee table book ‘Super 8: An Illustrated History.’ Newcomers will whisper a quiet "thank you" before tucking in their iPhones tonight after they're introduced to the laborious process that their filmmaking ancestors went through, from buying expensive film stock to processing by hand. Experience the dizzying highs and treacherous lows as the author recounts his own decades-long love affair with Super 8 filmmaking (see: Skate Witches). The glorious photos of vintage cameras and projectors that adorn this book will have even the most casual gearhead drooling and interviews with underground filmmakers who cut their teeth on Super 8 including Richard Linklater, Bruce LaBruce, and GB Jones will offer insights into the passion that drove no-budget artists in the pre-digital age.
Basically, find or make a short, random, totally banal video of people or objects moving around; study
it closely; and invent a potential voiceover that makes it seem as if you are directing the action. This (weird? but fun!) idea was inspired by a John Smith’s wonderful short art film: The Girl With The Chewing Gum. I’m not going to try to explain it, check it out:
Of course, Rob did this in 2012:
Parasite director Bong Joon-ho drew out beautiful storyboards before rolling film. He's combined his drawings and all of the movie's dialogue into Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards coming out in May. In the videos above and below, Through the Viewfinder compared the storyboards and the scenes from the actual film.
“Wait a minute... Wait a minute... you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”
In 1927, Al Jolson spoke those words in The Jazz Singer, marking the end of the silent film age. (Of course, that film also featured Jolson in blackface which unfortunately was common at the time.) From The Guardian:
Just a year before (The Jazz Singer), Warners had made Don Juan, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, which didn’t exactly set the Hudson river on fire, despite sound effects like the clash of swords or chairs being thrown – all to the accompaniment of the New York Philharmonic.
The reason Sam Warner, the technical genius of the brothers, thought that adding a human voice would make all the difference was a series of shorts brought in as a late addition to the Don Juan programme. Giovanni Martinelli, principal tenor at the Metropolitan Opera, sang Pagliacci. The leader of the Philharmonic played his violin and Al Jolson sang When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along).
They were a secret success. The New York press hardly noticed, but audiences did – and loved them. What would be known as “the talkies” were coming out of the fairground.
It was Sam Warner’s idea to team up with the Western Electric company to buy its Vitaphone synchronising system. He had the faith that few others possessed, but sadly died of a mastoid infection of the brain the day before the hugely successful premiere of The Jazz Singer.
In 1962, Mel Brooks attended a screening of an abstract animation by Norman McLaren. He overheard an older fellow chattering and complaining through the whole thing. Inspired, Brooks and director Ernest Pintoff created this wonderful short film, "The Critic." Amazingly, Brooks improvised the narration while watching the animation. The film won a 1964 Academy Award in the category of Short Subjects (Cartoon). Read the rest
Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:
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From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....
Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.
Geeks Worldwide is reporting that Mad Max director, George Miller, has resolved his legal issues with Warner Bros. which were holding him back from filming the follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road. The GWW piece claims that Miller will begin filming in Australia in the fall. No word yet on theme or who might already be signed on to the project.
The upcoming documentary ALL MAN: The International Male Story promises to go behind the spandexed bulges of the most flamboyant mail-order fashion catalog for men ever to exist to expose its "impact on fashion, sexuality and masculinity in America." The filmmakers report that in its heyday, the International Male catalog reached three million mailboxes every three months! Watch the film's new teaser trailer. Read the rest
While looking up something else on YouTube, I came across Santa Claus, the world's first Christmas movie! This British silent film, a little over a minute long, was made in 1898 and was directed by George Albert Smith, a "stage hypnotist, psychic, magic lantern lecturer, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, inventor" and noted film pioneer. It was considered a technical marvel in its time and definitely worth a watch.
Michael Brooke of BFI National Archive reports that the movie had "considerable technical ambition and accomplishment for its period," and that it "uses pioneering visual effects in its depiction of a visit from St. Nicholas." He also writes that it is "believed to be the cinema's earliest known example of parallel action and, when coupled with double-exposure techniques that Smith had already demonstrated in the same year's The Mesmerist (1898) and Photographing a Ghost (1898), the result is one of the most visually and conceptually sophisticated British films made up to then."
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In this picture you see two children being placed in bed by a maid, lights are then shut off. Santa Claus enters the room from the fireplace and proceeds to trim the tree. He then fills the stockings that were previously hung on the mantle by the children. After walking backward and surveying his work, he suddenly darts at the fireplace and disappears up the chimney. This film surprises everyone and leaves them to wonder how old St. Nicholas disappears.
Did you see this trailer for Under the Silver Lake about a year ago and think nothing of it? Lots of people did and dismissed it as a generic hipster-centric snoozefest. But a few interested people stuck around and read the checklist as a piece of comedy. Vinyl? Yes. Ridiculously nice apartments with one sole occupant? Yes. Struggling actors trying to make it in Hollywood? Yes. Pretentious bars? Yes. Violent Femmes? Sure, yes.
As much as these elements might seem like they'd make for a bland 30-something-centric film involving thousand yard stares and brunch, director David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) lampoons mumblecore, Los Angeles and "the male gaze."
The story in Silver Lake starts off innocently enough, wherein our protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) is caught staring at his sunbathing neighbor through binoculars and later notices signs of a neighborhood dog murderer. Perpetually unemployed (and unperturbed), Sam tracks down clues surrounding a disappearance and gets rapidly sucked into the lavish, oddball world of the Hollywood adjacent.
Though the plot reads a bit like a noir, it's difficult to describe this world as an "underbelly," seeing as the parties and high teas Sam goes to on his mock-chivalric quest are neither clouded in cigar smoke nor shot through shuttered blinds. The real hook of this film comes in the barrage of red herrings, corner-of-your-eye subplots and ridiculous clues that sometimes pan out, sometimes don't, and sometimes turn out to be redundant at best. In addition to all that, the film's (for lack of a better word) meta narrative allows you to go on a hunt for clues that parallel Sam's adventure. Read the rest
My mom always sewed my Halloween costumes when I was a kid, so I never got to wear one of the many licensed ones featured in the recently released documentary, "Halloween in a Box." I'm not really complaining but the plastic-masked ones you'd find at Woolworth did have a real charm to them. In any event, this film follows the history of these costumes and how its manufacturers had to work together to keep trick-or-treating alive after the Tylenol poisonings of the early eighties. Read the rest
In 1969, visionary designers Charles and Ray Eames directed this cinematic ballet of more than 100 spinning tops from around the world. The score is by famed Hollywood composer Elmer Bernstein (The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, Airplane!, etc.). From the Eames Office:
Tops had its genesis in an earlier film produced for the Stars of Jazz television program in 1957. The Eameses decided to make a longer, color version in 1966, which they worked on in spare moments between other projects.
The film is a celebration of the ancient art and craft of top-making and spinning. One hundred and twenty-three tops spin to the accompaniment of a score by Elmer Bernstein. Using close-up, live-action photography, the film shows tops, old and new, from various countries, including China, Japan, India, the United States, France, and England.
Charles’s fascination with spinning tops went back to his childhood; in this film he found a perfect vehicle for demonstrating their beauty in motion and for making visual points about the universality of tops, the physics of motion (MIT physics professor, Philip Morrison, often showed the film to students and colleagues), and the intimate relationship between toys and science.
These four notes from a 13th-century funeral song can be heard during emotional scenes in countless movies.
Think back to some of the most dramatic scenes in film history — from The Lion King, The Shining, It’s a Wonderful Life. Besides being sad or scary, they have something else in common: the dies irae. “Dies irae” translates from Latin to “Day of Wrath” — it’s a 13th-century Gregorian chant describing the day Catholics believe God will judge the living and the dead and send them to heaven or hell. And it was sung during one specific mass: funerals.
As Catholicism permeated world culture, the melody of the chant was repurposed into classical music, where it was used to convey a deathly, eerie tone. From there it worked its way into films — and if you don’t already know it, you’ve almost certainly heard it before: It’s played over and over in our scariest and most dramatic cinematic moments.
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