A Dreamer Walking

Fire Hydrant

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 27, 2011

Here is a series of pictures I took of this cool fire hydrant.

(to see the pictures completely in focus you need to click on them)

This picture is to highlight the actual color of the main piece. I took the color out from around the fire hydrant so that the hydrant could really stick out. The combination of yellow, red, blue, and green give the hydrant a sort of personality/character.

I wanted to get up close and see some of the wear and tear in the hydrant. It really has gone through some tough years it looks like. The wear and tear just makes the hydrant more unique.

The lighting in this is really good. I wanted to concentrate on a small part of the overall piece. Even in this small section of the hydrant you can see character. The combination of yellow and red is great. The blue in the background also seems to complement the chain.

(to see the pictures completely in focus you need to click on them)

Hope you enjoy!

Wood Fence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 24, 2011

Went out the other day and took a few cool pictures of this fence.

I really liked how the light bounced of the fence here. I took away most of the blue and green colors so the warms colors could stick out a little more. My only regret was not having the focus point a little farther up.

I made this black and white because it felt more rich that way. I tried to turn the contrast up so high that there are really just three main shades dark, gray, and white. This wheel has a lot of character to it. I really like the texture in the wood.

I kept the rusty color of the metal in this picture. You also get a closer look at the texture of the wood. The color of the metal really fits into the black and white.

(you need to click on the pictures to see them clearly)

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Martin Scoresese- American Masters

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 22, 2011

Here is a hour documentary I just watched on Martin Scorsese. I think it one of the best documentaries on Martin I have seen. We are introduced to Martin as a director in the 1990’s (when the documentary was made) and then take a very good look at Martin’s past. I like how these guys concentrate just as much on the philosophy Martin was building on film as they do on the actual movies he created. We are given some great insight to why Martin is such a good director and what makes his films so unique. I think that Martin’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Steven Spielberg have some very insightful things to say about Martin. We also get to hear from Martin’s parents, which is pretty fun. Hope you enjoy!

(You will have to go to Youtube to watch the video)

 

The “Nobody”!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 21, 2011

I have already written a paper on one type of protagonist we commonly run into in film, that being the Diamond in the Rough. I explained how the Diamond in the Rough protagonist is seen in a negative light at the beginning of most films and through out the picture is able to find redemption, both in his life and in the way the audience sees him. This is done well through appealing acting and constant characters that are placed around the main protagonist.

Today I want to talk about the second type of protagonist we commonly see in the movies. Unlike the Diamond in the Rough protagonist, the Nobody is a character that the audience usually have no quarrels with. In fact the Nobody protagonist is often appealing because of how pathetic he or she is at the beginning of the film. Usually the greatest obstacle for the Nobody character is having everyone else take him or her seriously. At the beginning of the film we the audience think of them as Average Joe’s at best. Along with the rest of the characters in the film, we do not believe that they are capable of anything spectacular.

We see Nobodies all over film. Usually it is the geek who has the brains but can’t get the girls or sometimes it is a person we consider sort of stupid but has a pleasing personality. The Nobody is the most appealing of the three main types of protagonists (the Diamond in the Rough, the Nobody, and the Fallen Hero), because we are able to relate with him so well. Unlike with the Diamond in the Rough and the Fallen Hero, there is no need for the Nobody to be redeemed in the audiences eyes. The Nobody has never done anything big enough in order to need redemption from us. He starts on a clean slate with the audience.

Let’s use Hiccup (top left of the picture) from How To Train Your Dragon as our first example. Hiccup is a viking that acts and looks very un-vikingish. He is scrawny and clumsy. He is never in the right place at the right time. Worst of all he is not good at killing dragons, the main activity for his viking village. Quickly the movie expresses how clumsy and out of place Hiccup is. In the first fifteen minutes of film we see Hiccup constantly get into the rest of the Vikings way, burn down half the village, get told by numerous people that he is not good enough, and fail to kill a dragon.

One key part of having Nobody characters work is seeing the movie from their point of view. Because we see from Hiccup’s point of view we can sympathize with him. We know Hiccup wasn’t trying to get in the other vikings way. We know that burning down the village was a total accident. And, we saw first hand the reason why Hiccup could not kill the dragon. This however does not change the fact that Hiccup is a outsider looking in when it comes to the world he lives in.

Hiccup would continue to be a misfit in the viking village if he just went on with regular life. The key is Hiccup did not go on with his regular life. Something happened that changed everything. Hiccup befriended a dragon. With a Nobody character we usually see someone who is neglected and lives a somewhat sad existence. Most likely the Nobody’s life would go on being sad if fate (or you as a good storyteller) didn’t bring in something that changed everything. With Hiccup it was running into the dragon Toothless and not being able to kill him. With Peter Parker (top right) it was being bitten by a radio active spider that gave him superpowers.

Peter Parker, just like Hiccup, is a perfect example of a Nobody protagonist. He is the ultimate geek who is denied by everyone at school, which includes his high school sweetheart Mary Jane. However, a bite by a radio active spider gives Peter Parker powers. These powers change everything. The second third of the picture is about Peter learning how to use his powers. Peter has never been considered a hero, the movie is about him learning to own the hero role. Because Peter started out as a Nobody, we the audience are able to relate with him in a very personal way. His journey is our journey. Unlike the Fallen Hero, we don’t see Peter Parker as a hero that has fallen and needs to get back up. Unlike the Diamond in the Rough we do not need to learn to like Peter, we already do. With the Nobody it is a journey rather then a expectation or a reexamination. We get personal with them through seeing a lot of our own problems and values in them.

Forrest Gump (bottom left) is a great example of a Nobody who is just a joy to watch grow. In no way is Forrest Gump supposed to be special. At the beginning we sort of see Forrest as a nice person who is slightly dim and out of place. However, throughout the movie we see Forrest succeed through one extraordinary twist of fate after another. Unlike most Nobodies, Forrest Gump does not seem to see himself as out of place, he doesn’t really feel the need to be part of the in crowd, this is unusual when it comes to any type of protagonist. However what is common with Forrest and other Nobody protagonists is the innocent view he has on life. We have no angle that we are seeing the world from. The Nobody does not know how it is to be on the inside like the Fallen Hero does. And the Nobody has not built up a inherent grudge with the rest of the world like the Diamond in the Rough has. Because of this we are allowed to see the world more clearly through the Nobody’s eyes. As with Forrest, he never tried to fit in, but with any Nobody protagonist after they stop trying to “fit in” they bring a view to the world that changes both the characters in the story and the audiences perspective on life. In essence the unique perspective the Nobody has on life is what makes him or her the hero.

Let’s take a look at our last example, Rocky Balboa (bottom right). Rocky can easily be considered one of the greatest Nobody’s in cinema. Rocky is a washed up boxer who is past his prime. He lives in a crummy one room apartment and works as a enforcer for a lone shark. He does not seem to be able to relate with anyone, especially the person he cares for the most in Adrian Pennino. However fate changes everything. He is picked to take a shot at fighting the Champion of the World in Apollo Creed. It is Rocky who we the audience falls in love with. However, Rocky doesn’t seem to love or even believe in himself. Like most Nobodies, Rocky is bogged down by society. He has begun to listen to what they have told him and think that he can’t be anyone special and is destined to live a sad and lonely life. This leads to the last key factor that you need to make a Nobody work.

Even though most of society denies the Nobody, there needs to be at least one person who learns to believe in the character. For Rocky it is Adrian and Rocky’s trainer Mickey Goldmill. Unlike for the Diamond in the Rough protagonist, you do not need these characters to be perfect. They just need to show belief in the Nobody and be an influence in their lives. For Peter Parker it was his uncle, for Hiccup it was his dragon Toothless, and for Forrest it was his mother. As soon as Rocky begins to believe in himself he becomes the hero we all end up looking up to. Rocky goes from the depths of being a Nobody to standing on his own with the champion of the world for fifteen rounds.

The Nobody character is usually the character that inspires me the most. I am able to relate with them very easily. I end up sharing the Nobody’s pains and joys all the way through the movie. I remember watching Rocky for the first time and rooting with all my might for him to keep fighting Apollo. For him to keep standing up round after round. The Nobody protagonist ends up standing up for us all. That is the true beauty of the Character. They end up being the savior of the very same people who denied them.

Clint Eastwood- An Observation- King of the Atmosphere

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 19, 2011

It is amazing the kind of atmosphere Eastwood is able create on set. There have been many actors who describe it as being like going into a Church, where everyone is focused and you hardly hear anyone speak above a whisper. Eastwood has been described as a man with a very even temper. He has said in many interviews that as a director he has the job to set a tone, if he can’t stick to that tone he can’t expect anyone else too.

When you visit a Clint Eastwood set you don’t really hear a lot of talking or commotion. You don’t hear anyone on a amplifier, you don’t hear someone screaming “ACTION”, in fact you sometimes don’t hear someone say “action” at all. The way Eastwood directs is very laid back. He wants to create a atmosphere where everyone could be in the mindset that allows for the best performance.

Eastwood believes that using a amplifier or screaming “action” takes actors out of the characters they are trying to portray. Eastwood has explained that he wants to be the last person to stop the actor from concentrating on the performance at hand. Instead of screaming “action”, Eastwood speaks gently when he wants his actors to go into motion sometimes just saying “commence”, or if he wants to lighten the mood he has fun with it by saying something like “actioni”. Because Eastwood wants to get the most out of his actors he sometimes leaves it to them to start a scene by just telling them “any time”. Eastwood has talks with the man holding the clapper board for his movies, making sure they know how to snap it in a subtle way that won’t distract anyone from what they are doing.

To maintain the atmosphere for Eastwood’s old western Unforgiven, Eastwood did not allow any motor vehicles on set. He also had the set built on location in Alberta Canada.  There is something to actually being on location that Eastwood likes. For Unforgiven Clint wanted it to feel for a brief moment as if the whole crew went back in time. He believes that if the location feels real to the actors they will act like it is real when on camera.

Eastwood has been described as a person who takes his work seriously but doesn’t feel the need to always take himself seriously. He is willing to make fun of himself and crack a joke to lighten the mood. Just because some of his films cover dark elements, does not mean the crew needs to be bogged down by the darkness. There is a light atmosphere on a Clint Eastwood set, everyone is there to make a good movie but also to have a good time. The reason why Eastwood still makes movies in his eighties is because he has fun doing it. There is nowhere else he would rather be.

One of the greatest things Eastwood brings to the table is trust. He does not feel the need to have all the answers. Eastwood is able to put trust in the crew. One of the reasons Eastwood  trusts the crew so much is because he has worked with most of them for most of his directing career.  Tom Stern, now Eastwood’s cinematographer, and Joel Cox, Eastwood’s editor, have worked with Eastwood sense 1977 (Eastwood began directing in 1972). It is a testament to Eastwood that so many crew members come back film after film. I believe it is because the crew feels like they are recognized for the talents they have.

A good atmosphere on set is one of the most crucial things to have if you want to make good films and have a long lustrous career. Because of the consistent tone Eastwood has established on his sets the actors and crew have developed a great trust in  him as a director. Everyone knows Eastwood only expects out of them what he expects out of himself. Everyone is willing to go out on a limb for each other’ because everyone has each others backs. They are all there in support of the story.

A place where you are not easily distracted from the task at hand. A place that lets you easily fall into the role and time period you are portraying. A place where you feel you can have a good time. A place where you feel like your leader trusts you and you trust your leader. All this is needed in order to create a great atmosphere. A great atmosphere on set takes a great deal of humanity from everyone involved, especially the leader. I personally don’t think you can get much better then Clint Eastwood. Eastwood’s great atmosphere is the reason why he and his team keep on making one great movie after the next.

Martin Scorsese- An Observation- Tragedy

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 16, 2011

Martin Scorsese seems to addicted to tragedy. In both the films Scorsese highlights as his favorite and in the films he has made himself tragedy plays a key role. We can see it all the way back in Mean Streets, where Robert De Niro plays the self destructive thug Johnny Boy. From the very beginning of the movie Johnny owes several people money. Through out the film Johnny digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself by avoiding to pay anyone off. Johnny digs such a big hole that he and his closest friends pay dearly for it at the end.

The movie Raging Bull has another great example of one of Scorsese’s tragic figures. The boxer Jake La Motta goes from being the champion of the world to a cheap bar performer barely making a living through retelling his story to a bunch of drunks every night. Look at Scorsese’s Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Aviator, and The Departed and you will see a resounding tragic end.

I have been trying to figure out what makes the “tragedy” so interesting to Martin Scorsese. I think it partially has to do with Scorsese believing tragedy is more in tune with reality. Scorsese was one of the first filmmakers to bring Hollywood the “antihero”. We are not supposed to love most of Scorsese’s characters. In fact, most of Scorsese’s characters are full of problems and unlikable qualities. Most of his characters have a quite tragic existence. In Raging Bull we go on a personal journey with a fighter who doesn’t know how to connect with people in a personal way. In Goodfellas we see a con man who has money but nobody to really love and nobody to really be loved by. And, in Aviator we see a great innovator who is trapped by his own demons. All these main characters go against the typical Hollywood tradition.

So why do we keep on going back? If the movies are full of tragedy and the characters aren’t too likable, what is there to keep us stimulated? I think it has to do with an essence of truth in all Scorsese’s tragic characters. We are in a way attracted to the characters he displays because his characters explore freely the things we as society try to keep secret. If we really evaluated ourselves personally we would all find we have some of the same flaws the characters in Scorsese’s movies have. We have demons we fight with, we have a hard time connecting with others, and we have a hard time finding or feeling love.

Movies are not about the happy ending. Movies are about opening our eyes to new things. Tragedy is often something we have a hard time looking at. Scorsese is able to bring us tragedy in a interesting and insightful way. This is one of the reasons Scorsese is a great filmmaker. I personally think Scorsese is trapped by the tragic figure at times. He does not quite know how to express anyone else in a clear light. It might very well be he does not believe there is a such thing as a character who does not eventually end in tragedy. However, no matter whether Scorsese concentrates on tragedy because he feels like he can’t do anything else or he does it because he wants to bring us a new perspective on the tragic figure, we can learn from his movies. Often having a story not end where we expect or even where we want it to end makes us think more then when we as the audience get our way.

Insight into Pixar

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 16, 2011

I have run across three interviews that give us a very insightful look into the Pixar Studio. They are three 30 minute interviews of three directors at the Pixar studio, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich. Listening to these guys is very encouraging because you are able to feel the actual enthusiasm all these directors have for the projects they worked on and the studio they work for. The interviews were conducted about a year apart. Andrew Stanton talks about his journey in creating Wall-E. He goes into detail about what first intrigued him about the story and how it developed into a full length movie. Pete talks about his movie UP and Lee talks about his movie Toy Story 3. More importantly they all talk about the freedom they had to persue their visions for the films and how they worked collaboratively to make the movies the best they could possibly be. These guys are really good filmmakers to study if you want to know how to go about constructing a story. They give you a personal look at what made their stories resonate with them and how they were able to fight the battles in order to bring the films to fruition.

All of the Directors were interviewed by the same person, David Poland. The video’s are on the website Movie City News. If you click on the DP/30 link, you will see dozens of 30 minute interviews on some of the biggest names in film. It is well worth taking a look.

Here are the links to the Pixar interviews:

Lee Unkrich (Director of Toy Story 3) Interview:

Pete Docter (Director of Up) Interview:

Andrew Stanton (Director of Wall-E) Interview:

Enjoy!

The Hollywood Reporter: Roundtables

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 12, 2011

I was lucky enough to run across a few hours of interviews on some great filmmakers. These are interviews from The Hollywood Reporter on some of the contenders for directing, acting, and writing, in this years Oscar races. I am going to watch all of them. I have watched the Directors Roundtable and found it very insightful. I am a huge fan of Peter Weir and am liking Tom Hooper and Darren Aronofsky the more I look into them. These Directors touch up on some of the problems of the Hollywood business. They go into detail on how much they need to fight with Hollywood to make their movies. Most of these guys are independent filmmakers. So, even though they are talented, they don’t get much money and are not recognized as much as they should be. They talk a lot about their own personal feelings on film and what they are shooting for when making their movies. I also found it interesting what they had to say about the United States rating system. All these directors, writers, and actors/actresses are some of the top filmmakers in the world. Hope you enjoy listening to them.

The Directors Roundtable

The Actors Roundtable

The Actress Roundtable

For the Writers Roundtable click on THIS LINK.

Light on Top of Fence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 9, 2011

Another picture that I chose to insert a little grain into. I found this to be a pretty beautiful shot. I love seeing how the sun catches the snow. I wanted the focus point to be close to the lens so the sun was as out of focus as possible. Hope you enjoy.

(Click photo to see more clearly)

Framed Cord

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 7, 2011

This is not exactly my favorite picture I have ever taken, but I do think there are a few good things about it. First thing is the way the picture frames the main object. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time when the sun was about to set and was framing this extension cord beautifully. The eye is immediately drawn to the main part of the picture just by using light as a framing device. Extension cords for me bring back memories. When I was a kid my dad worked as a scenic designer for a collage and my brothers and I would go and visit him a lot. There were many extension cords around his work place and we would often bring him a cord or two so he could plug one of his power tools into it. So, because of the memories it gave me I wanted to make it look older as if it were taken from when I was a kid. I worked a little with color separation so the cord could stick out more. I brought down the saturation a little bit and then I gave the picture a sort of papery grain. As a young kid I saw many pictures that weren’t glossed over, they just were inked paper and they seemed to give the images a more classic feel. Hope you enjoy.

(Need to click on the picture to see it clearly)