A Dreamer Walking

Seattle Landscape #2

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 31, 2010

This is the second landscape photo I did in Seattle. Hope you enjoy!

Seattle Landscape #1

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 29, 2010

This is one of two landscape shots I made when I visited Seattle. I think it is a good for the first attempt at doing a landscape shot.

The Character INTRODUCTION!!!

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 27, 2010

Unlike real life (as you can see above), the introduction of a character in film is very important. I just watched a commentary on the Pixar movie Ratatouille where Brad Bird went into detail on what he was thinking through out the film making process of Ratatouille. I have come across very few who are as good at explaining their process and philosophy on film making as Brad Bird. In the Ratatouille commentary Brad emphasized the importance of introducing a Character. It is a art that seems to have been lost with this generation of filmmakers.

Every main character in Ratatouille has a very unique and telling way of being introduced. The main Character Remy, a rat obsessed about becoming a cook, is introduced to us crashing through a window with a cook book in his hands. This introduction is very telling of who Remy is as a Character. The breaking of glass represents the kayos that is going on in Remy’s life, the book represents his passion for cooking, the two are together because they are directly related to each other, the kayos Remy finds himself in is because of his weird obsession on fine cooking. There is also Emile who is Remy’s brother, he is a very soft spoken rat who will eat absolutely anything, naturally he is introduced to the audience sitting down in a very relaxed position eating garbage. Skinner the villain of the picture is introduced so we can see only his hat hovering over the counter like a shark before it attacks.

I look at some of my favorite movies of all time, such as Schindler’s List and I see some very clever introductions that express exactly who the characters are. With Oskar Schindler we are introduced through him getting ready to go to an expensive dinner, immediately we can tell that he wants to look richer then he really is, he scrambles to find the money he will need for the dinner, very prudently he puts on his cloths and the last thing he puts is his small Nazi badge, telling us who his allegiance is with. We do not hear Schindler speak before we know exactly what he is about. Within the first five minutes of meeting Schindler we see his eye for woman, his way with handling money to get what he wants, and his hospitable charm he uses to gain reconnection.

You can look at many of Steven Spielberg’s movies and see his genius with introducing his characters. Whether it is Indiana Jones and his very stylized intro where we hear the hero theme and we have a extreme close up revealing our hero’s face or the subtle into of Tom Hanks’ character John Miller in Saving Private Ryan, where we see a bunch of solders getting ready to storm Omaha Beach and we are introduced to the shaking hand of John Miller looking just like the rest of the people he is with, trying to throw off the idea that he is a “hero” and making him just a solder like the rest of the people he is with. You can tell that Steven puts thought in what we see first and how it represents who the character is as a whole.

A good filmmaker will take the extra time to find the perfect way to introduce a character to the audience. The first impression means a lot, we build opinions right away, the filmmaker needs to make sure they are the right opinions. I am not saying that we should always have huge introductions, they can often be very subtle you do not want to consciously draw attention. The question you want to ask yourself is, am I expressing who this character is?

The Men Who Would Be King

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 27, 2010

So I just finished the book The Men Who Would Be King, by Nicole Laporte. I did not go over  and highlight much of it or take notes, it was more of a book just to read. I did get to see Hollywood in a very different way, the book expresses some of the less then likable parts of Hollywood and how it functions. Most importantly the book showed how Hollywood is first and foremost a business.

The book is about three powerhouses in Hollywood, Jeffery Katzenberg, David Geffen, and Steven Spielberg, and their ambition to make the movie company Dreamworks become the “King” of Hollywood. The book gives you a detailed History of how Dreamworks got started, the visions Jeffery, David, and Steven had for the studio and eventually how and why most those visions did not really come to pass.

One of the three partners this books concentrates on is someone I very much look up to when it comes to film making. From a very young age I have been exhilarated and inspired by many of Steven Spielberg’s movies and his philosophy on what makes a good film. I have to admit that it is hard to see a person who you look up to, expressed in a fairly negative light. As great of a artist Steven is, there are places where he is very selfish. The power that comes with success can easily create a big ego, and it seems to happen with the best of them, even Steven. One of the reasons why Dreamworks failed in their goals is because the company had three heads that all wanted and were used to the spot light and were not prone to working together as equals.

All three Dreamworks partners said they wanted to create a company that put art first. However it is easy to say something like that, it is a whole lot harder to actually walk it out. Even though Steven, Jeffery, and David expressed that they wanted a artist driven studio, they did not put their money or their actions where their mouths were. Like almost every company in Hollywood there were double standards. Money seemed to be the biggest distraction from a artist driven studio. All three partners were billionaires and it was clear that their main concern was to become richer billionaires. When Steven directed a Dreamworks movie, he took huge amounts of the profit, instead of his movie company profiting from movies such as Minority Report, War of the Worlds, and Saving Private Ryan, they needed to give a greater portion of profits to Steven. Because Dreamworks was not getting nearly as much money from big hits like Saving Private Ryan, it was harder to invest in as many movies that were driven more from artistic grounds then commercial grounds.

Jeffery Katzenberg was put in charge of Dreamworks Animation. Jeffery was too worried about the audience to take any big risks. The principles and underlined messages of most his movies were usually quite shallow or toned way down. Jeffery relied mainly on gags and socially relevant (relevant today old fashioned tomorrow) humor to tell his stories. Story also was not put first in Jeffery’s mind. With the Dreamworks movie Antz Jeffery made his staff rush the production so they could get it out before Pixar’s A Bugs Life. With the Shrek sequels it was not a matter of having another story to be told, it was more about rushing a sequel because they knew it would make a easy profit. Jeffery, who had very little artistic education, was often a control freak with most of his movies, Jeffery was the one with the final say on what stays and what goes. When it comes to who knew how to create a good film, there were many people who were more qualified then Jeffery, however Jeffery wanted control.

It also seemed that most of the partners were not devoted to their company. When big films came up for Steven in other studios, such as Universals Lost World (the sequel to Jerrasic Park), Steven jumped ship. Geffen was more interested in keeping up his public image and enjoying himself as a multibillionaire, then to take a active role in his Dreamworks Company. The idea of owning a company seemed to be a bigger deal then the actual reality of owning a company for both Steven and Geffen.

What I got out of this book was this, you can make a  functional company if you have enough talent and money. Dreamworks has survived throughout the years and there has been success every once in a while. However, Dreamworks is not the “King” of Hollywood, they actually make just as many bad movies as any other company. The reason was because they did not have people who were devoted to a unified vision for the company. One thing that vision calls for is sacrifice, and that is something Steven, Jeffery, and David are not used to and seemed to be something they were unwilling to really do.

Time Stop

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 24, 2010

I just recently took some pictures at a friends wedding. This is a picture of the groom. I wanted to create the feeling of motion all around the groom so the groom looks like he stopped in time so that I could take his picture. Making it black and white really helped the eye concentrate on the main piece as well.

Color Highlights

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 21, 2010

This is one of my favrite pictures. I like because the main piece is highlighted throughout the picture. The yellows and reds that you see through out the picture compliments the main piece. Hope you enjoy and do not feel hesitant to critique.

Trust the Audience!

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 19, 2010

Trust is a big key when it comes to making a film. Not just trust in the crew around you, but trust in the people you are making the film for. I have seen more and more shallow characters and predictable plots because  the film business has lost their trust in the audience that they make films for.

Filmmakers need to have a story worth telling. Part of respecting and trusting the audience is having faith that they can handle something new. We also need to have film with a message worth telling. I think that we often have predictable and shallow story lines because we claim to “not want to be preachy”. Even though I am fully against being “preachy” to my audience I have the responsibility to give them something to think about. “Preaching” is  telling the audience what to think. If you trust your audience you will not tell them what to think, you will give them something to think about.

A good filmmaker thinks just as much about what he is going to not show the audience as he thinks of what he is going to show the audience. It is often said that the audience could imagine far more creative things then what we are able to put on film. Because of the lack of special effects in the 1980’s, Steven Spielberg needed to find a different way to express the alien E. T in E. T the Extra-Terrestrial. All we are allowed to see of the main character E. T for the most of the film is his hands and voice. We the audience are able to create a picture of this character in our head. Even though the actual model of E. T didn’t work very well for Steven, he took away enough to make our mind fill in the wholes and E. T became just as alive in our heads as any human actor.

When studying someone like Clint Eastwood, you see that he does not like to answer every question that is thrown out in his movies. He allows the audience to make judgments for themselves. In  Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood leaves the future of  the main character William Munny up to the audience to decide.  Clint does not make everything that is going on in a characters head obvious, we need to study even the little things the character does to figure out what he or she is thinking. Clint has talked at length about not showing a character in the same light all the time. Clint intentionally lights his characters differently so sometimes the eyes or whole face is shadowed and we are not allowed to pay attention through the way we are used to  and need to figure the character out though studying different things such as the vocal tone or the way the character moves.

Trusting the audience can be a very hard thing. To figure out what is best to leave to the imagination is tough. However, what you leave out is just as crucial as what you put in. As filmmakers we need to figure out the fine line to walk. We need to realize that the audience can sometimes create things we can not. Movies are not about preaching, they are about letting the audience think for themselves. As filmmakers we must never forget that we make films for the audience. As a filmmaker I will give the audience something to think about and I will trust the audience to answer the questions my stories pose.

Depressed

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 17, 2010

This is a drawing I did about a year ago. It was a quick sketch but I ended up liking it quite a bit. Just lines from a Precise V5 pen that created a sort of mood and feeling that has the potential to impact a person.

Broken Rock

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 14, 2010

I came upon this very interesting rock on one of my journeys around the neighborhood.

Yellow Focus

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 12, 2010

I wanted the eye to be caught up on they flower. I played around with draining some color from the background to make the eye more drawn to the main piece. Hope you enjoy and criticism is very much appreciated.