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George Ebersole

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Everything posted by George Ebersole

  1. Well, I went and saw Blade Runner 2046 (or whatever the title is), and I can't say I was all that impressed with the story. The visuals are so-so on the impressive side, but the story, however well acted and well shot, was pretty low on the sophistication meter. I'm glad a slower paced film as made, but it wasn't that smart of a story. There was one major story twist, but once that was over the whole thing was fairly predictable. Not to mention a lot of loose ends are never tied up. I don't care how arrogant I sound in saying the following, and it'll probably cost me several career opportunities from pros reading this forum, but I would have shot a different script, and maybe go back to the visual color-noire look back in the 80s. I understand why it was made, I understand who the audience is, but it's like did you really need to use the Blade Runner setting to tell this story? It really feels like a different film that borrows from the 80s to put backsides in seats. That's pretty blunt, but that's how I see it. Compare it to the film which this thread is dedicated, and "Outland" almost looks like Shakespeare in space next to the new "Blade Runner". Oh well. Replies, retorts, any comments on my comments I'd be interested to hear.
  2. Thanks. I'm thinking shooting my own stuff might be a job too many. The most I've ever done is call up PAs, a few grips and a gaffer or two (people I already knew). I've never been a production manager. Thanks for the replies.
  3. Of all the shoots I've been on I've never had to hire a DP. What questions should I ask, and should I ask for a reel?
  4. I never saw "Cries and Whispers", and I hate to admit it, but the only part of "Easy Rider" I've ever seen is the famous intentional "lens flare" mistake ... part of that experimentation. I remember as a kid it was a strange time to go to the movies, because back then movies pre 1970 were night and day compared to stuff after 1970 1971 ... maybe as late as 73. I mean I didn't think to ask about it then, but it did strike me as odd that stuff like "Marathon Man" looked radically different "Hello Dolly". I think the last splashy film I saw from that era was "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". that had that traditional candy gloss look to it. You could even see it in the still photography books. I picked up the hobby around 1977, and at Tower Books they were still selling books from the late 50s up through the late 60s where you had clean cut American males with crew cuts talking about F-stops and focal planes. And then next to them were the long haired full facial hair types talking about the basic, but offering different subjects to take pictures of. Yeah, I remember those times, and there was also a lot of politics attached to the different artistic styles in media. I think the dissatisfaction was just born out of that era or protesting everything. I guess the subject matters also dictated a more realistic style. Again I remember sitting in front of the TV and wondering why the older movies being aired didn't look like the movies in the theatre. Interesting. I think Disney was a holdout. I remember seeing stuff like the Herbie films, the original Pete's Dragon or one of the re-released animated films, and it seems like even with new and faster stocks they were still flooding their sets with lights, and doing that very distinctive ADR in post which always made the films sound like they were recorded in a bathroom or something. Yeah, that was a time to be alive. Very interesting. Thanks for the reply.
  5. Is that also true for a change in look between films in the 60s and films in the 70s?
  6. Yeah, I didn't go back to see it a second time, and only watched it casually when it hit HBO. From a writer's standpoint the film was a departure from the TV series, and rehashing a monster episode probably wasn't the best choice. The movie felt more like a studio trying to play catch-up with another studio's film. Then a year later "The Empire Strikes Back" hits the screens, and in retrospect I wonder why a Trek feature film couldn't have that level of energy. I mean to me, again in retrospect, it seems like Lucas and Kirschner out did Trek at its own game ... going to a snow world, a massive memorable chase sequence in space coupled with a little bit of laser fire, visiting a jungle world, and going to a city floating int the clouds (which I think both Trek and Flash Gordon did in previous TV and serials). But yeah, I mostly liked STTMP's model shots. There's one or two that have me scratching my head. There's a shot where the Enterprise comes within 500 meters of V'Ger, and the POV shot you see of the bridge crew looking at the screen shows some out of focus stuff for the V'Ger miniature. Given the sterling Enterprise shot I wonder why that was out of focus. There's also a top down shot with some shotty matte work as we see the Enterprise traverse that same section of the alien....more of a lab issue, but I wonder why they didn't clean that up. I think the story concept was okay, but that film maybe needed more Klingons, needed Kirk and Crew to beam aboard and get into some fisticuffs and fire fights with V'Gers energy-probe crew .... and maybe another space battle or two along with all of the high falutin stuff about humanity evolving with machines and saving the Earth. Just my inane opinion here. And yeah, the extra footage in the "special extended" edition doesn't add too much.
  7. I wonder if that's also how the SFX team for The Motion Picture got the Enterprise shots when she was still in space dock. I mean talk about giving a thing scale, everything's in focus as like setting a camera down on a navy ship or supertanker and taking a few snaps. To me that's a real art.
  8. That's interesting, because I could have sworn I saw the concept sketches or storyboards for the Klingon release sequence. Either way it never happened. I just remember leaving the theatre down in LA (in some mall...I can't remember which one) and thinking that I hadn't seen much of anything. I still liked the idea of a big feature film, but I think my unarticulated boyish subconisous mind noted; the Enterprise only killed an asteroid (and only with one shot); no phasers were fired, Kirk didn't get into a fist fight, Spock uses his neck pinch one time, I saw way too much of the ship, and no red-shirts got zapped. Oh well.
  9. The original script had the three Klingon battlecruisers being released once V'Ger had gone up in sparks and evolved, but I seem to recall that the sequence was cut because both of budgetary and story issues. The V'Ger thing supposed had entire galaxies stored and digitized, so if the Klingons from the beginning of the movie get released, then what about all the other junk V'Ger had stored? That, and then you have to shoot the battle ... which, depending on how it was scripted, might not have made sense ... unless the newly evolved V'Ger thing came back and put a stop to it. Which just means more animation composited with the model shots.
  10. I saw book in the mi 90s that said as much. It even had a pic with a caption.
  11. I think Robert Wise commented that he felt it was important to show off the ship for the fans. But, fans and critics alike panned that angle. I think Paramount's thinking was that a "space movie" needed to show off "space stuff", and so let Wise do this thing (or they asked him to do it).
  12. Roughly 6 grand for a cystal-sync motor upgrade and carrying case, and possibly replace the lens mount to a standard PL depending on what you have. I got mine back in 89, and it wasn't cheap. But, it's a durable little beast ... I guess you need to be if you're second unit hardware.
  13. Well, to me "2001 a Space Odyssey" still has the best SFX model shots. Star Wars was able to refine the technique to tell a more dynamic story. And I always wondered why the original Star Trek series didn't have 2001 like model shots of the Enterprise and everything else she encountered. The models for the feature films look better, but I think still suffer from the TV image syndrome of the director or production crew feeling the need to light every inch of the ship, giving it a kind of model-like look. I didn't much like Robert Wise's STTMP feature for the story and somewhat static film, but I think the model shots in that film beat the subsequent model shots in the sequels.
  14. Well, maybe whoever was narrating it got their signals confused. But I found this clip, and to me it doesn't look like go motion. https://youtu.be/GHFhp594RlU?t=81
  15. Maybe I'll start another topic, but the thing is when I was a kid watching recycled shows from the 60s during the 70s, police shows weren't the only things that used to be produced. You had adventure shows, spy shows, scifi anthology like Twilight Zone and what have you. I guess IntraVision didn't open new horizons for new scifi, much less scifi on TV. That's too bad. Whatever.
  16. I think one of the older documentaries it was a programmed stop motion move. When you take another look at it you can see the stop motion in action. Incredible stuff.
  17. Star Wars; the opening shot where both models are in focus really sells the enormity of the two space craft. How do you get that kind of a shot? How do you keep everything in focus as it moves away from the camera?
  18. So far I've only seen the bluray on my computer, and not my larger 70" TV which I've yet to unpack until I get new carpeting put in. But from what I've seen everything looks okay. I don't notice any scale discrepancies. There's one shot that uses traditional animation in a real ham-fisted way, and that's the SFX shot where one of the bad guys during the green room show down gets shot into the zero atmosphere of Io (Jupiter's moon). There they used traditional animation to show the guy's body breaking apart, which, compared to the other effects in the film, looks kind of hokey. The shuttle landing uses traditional smoke effects for the thrusters. There they might have helped themselves by spending some money on animation for the engine exhaust, but otherwise it looks okay to me.
  19. I've heard a bit about The Wire over the years, but never saw an episode. There's so many police shows that a man gets exhausted of them (and family sitcoms too). And I guess the other reason I brought up "Outland" on this forum is because the SFX are mostly minis. There's no CGI...maybe Jupiter's atmosphere, but the looks more like traditional animation to me (this is afterall 1981, and the kind of hardware to render that would have made the film prohibitively expensive ... but I could be wrong). Regardless, the minis and use of ImtraVision, to me at least, looks more real and convincing than digital inserts.
  20. Wow, a really well shot film, and the thing that really blew me away visually was that there was no ghosting. Very pan, every dolly move, every zoom (yes, there was a zoom out; slow, subtle, but there), had crystal clear images. I haven't seen a film deliver that kind of motion on screen in forever. Ghosting (at least that's what we call it in videographer country) used to be a real problem in the late 80s up through the 90s at a lot of local theatres. Lots of light used. The exteriors were impressive. The interiors were standard fare. I can't find any technical specs on the IMDB. Story wise it was very British. It's about what I expected, still a good film.
  21. I used to read a lot of it in the 70s and 80s. Some of it was very rich and worthy of having a shoot script translated from it. Other books were garbage, just like any other genre. Jack Chalker, Stasheff, Alan Dean Foster, Piers Anthony were some of the good authors. Dalton, Culbreath, and a few others, in my opinion, weren't that good. They weren't even hacks, just people writing any old thing that some publisher took a chance on. I think most studios and production companies back then just didn't know enough about the genre to take any chances on it. I still think that's the case, but there's enough technical talent out there that it doesn't make a difference, you can make whatever it is you don't understand look good. Dump a lot of cash in a project, and watch the returns.
  22. Interesting, I did not know that. I've always been of the opinion that UK films always seem more refined and polished than American films. Which is kind of amazing since when I was working a lot all crew from the UK were salty as anything .... Ef-this, ef-that, everything was preceeded by "ef-ing". With many apologies to UK and European types who come to this forum. Not to beat a dead-horse here, but to me "Outland" is a better film both story-wise and technically than "Mission to Mars" I think largely because "Mission to Mars", at its core, had teenagers in mind. So that film had a kind of candy gloss look to it, and the hokey mega-sized twirling alien at the end. I won't say "Outland" didn't have teenagers in mind, but it's a film that all reasonably mature or adult minded people can enjoy, assuming they don't mind the scifi / outer space backdrop. Again, I'm surprised we didn't get more like it. I mean, I now know what it takes to get a project greenlit, but it's like if you can make a reasonably budgeted project that's solid, then why not shoot those instead of dumping a half-bil of US currency into one "mega-hit" which is speculative? That's what I don't get. Ergo why I don't see why more "Outland" kind of movies were made, and instead to this day we get "Guardians of the Galaxy" or the new "Thor" movie. Just me. Enough bitching. I need to go kick off the rust and shoot some footage. Laterz.
  23. I think I mentioned this earlier up in the thread, but one of the criteria for shooting a major release is that the project needs to be socially positive and inspirational in that same vein. That wasn't always the case, but it is now. If you go back the 70s and prior, you'll note that films just had good stories (mostly), and were usually socially responsible without trying to send too much of a message. The story had ethics built into it by virtue of good writing. When I saw "Mission to Mars" I didn't feel like I was watching a scifi film for adults, but one that was framed as being adult, but that had this cgi payoff at the end that I think appealed more to teenagers. And that's the sense I get for a lot of scifi films shot in the last 20 years. Whatever. Like I said, I'm sorry there weren't more films in the 80s like "Outland"--visually and story-wise.
  24. Well, I think story-wise it's clear that the whole place is corrupt, except for Connery and the doctor. To me that lends credibility to the idea that rowdy miners probably have their own sense of worth and fear. Not to detract from your points, but I guess the thing that gets me is that this film, if pitched, would not get made today, or would not get made the way it was way back in 79 / 80. When I went and saw "Guardians of the Galaxy" (against my better judgment) I kind of knew what I was in store for. And sure enough the film had lots of effects, lots of put down humor, a space raccoon, body function gags, and just a ton of pre-adolescent BS. But that's the kind of film it is. And when I think of films like "Outland" or "2010", or even "Alien", it's like no one makes good serious scifi anymore. Even films like "Gravity" or "Interstellar", to me at least, have issues no matter how impressive some of the visuals are. "Outland" doesn't try to be something that it isn't, which to me at lest, makes it a good classic scifi film. If "Outland" were pitched today, then odds are it would not get made. Or, if it did, then Connery's character would be cast with someone like Wil Smith, there would be lots of pre-teen put down humor, everything would be lit with egg-crates and 5Ks, the miners would have a G-rated kind of rowdyness, and so forth. It wouldn't be made for adults, but for pre-teen and teenage boys, and boys specifically. I mean you're arguing about having a respect for the audience, but I would submit to you that films like "Gravity", "Interstellar" or even slightly older films like "Mission to Mars" have absolutely no respect for any audience member save the young wide eyed kid who doesn't know enough to know what a good film is. So yeah, I'm asking what you would have shot in terms of a story. Some of the most obnoxious and rude people are some of the biggest cowards around.
  25. Well, one of the reasons I had a writing emphasis instead of a production emphasis in film school was because I was freelancing a lot while trying to earn my degree, and as robust as Dean Coppola's program was (ranked 3rd in the nation at the time behind USC and UCLA, which also included the writing/lit dept at the opposite end of campus) I was learning on the job about divisions of labor, set operations, gear and so forth. What I didn't learn was the corporate shift that took place in the 70's that took the old traditional way of making films, and trying to fix the method until it was broke. If you have an idea about ... I don't know ... anything ... a store keeper in the midwest whose daughter wants to marry a farmer's son, then the marketing division would try to find out who the target audience was for that film, and hire writers to change the story accordingly. And if there wasn't a large enough market, then the story would be tweaked so that it could seemingly appeal to a mass audience. So you get absolute sh_t stories being filmed because of that process, because the marketers want those films to appeal to the largest swath of people possible. A good story is a good story and doesn't need tweaking. And all the mass marketing in the world isn't going to improve on it, whatever that story is. There's a few exceptions, but those are largely artistic interpretations ... I think "The Natural" originally had a downer of an ending, but it was changed so that Redford's Hobbes' character hits a homer instead of striking out. You could argue that that's a kind of marketing, and that that's what today's corporate studio marketers are trying to do, but it really isn't. If I had known way back in 1985 the direction of major motion pictures today in 2016 (post-2000s), I'm not sure I would've gone into the local industry ... I might've given aerospace engineering another shot. But I'm stupid and idiotic enough to believe that now that the technology has caught up to where it was promised 20 years ago, that I can take a second crack at this bull-sh_t. Superhero films are junk, Guardians of the Galaxy is made for 12 year old boys who like fart jokes, and the new Ghostbusters was shot to try and inspire women to get more involved in science and law enforcement (uncovering fraud). And all those films have mega-budgets, didn't do as well as they could have (or maybe flopped), and only appeal to the audience that they're custom tailored for. But, films are making more money, so maybe I'm just out of my mind and talking crazy here. But I think old fashioned stories have a place, and are not only better stories, but will make better films. Thanks for reading.
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