It is the rare film that comes out fully formed. One vision, manipulated by one person, is so unusual that many of the most famous movies are considered collaborations before anything else. Actors want to add and/or modify their roles. Suits who provided the necessary greenlight (and funds) want their notes and suggestions. Members of the various crafts—art design, costumers, F/X artists—all hope for a chance to offer up their creative choices, and then the entire package is collected, collated, edited, and focus grouped, allowing even those without a single clue about the art form to determine what stays and what goes. Someone like David Lynch may have “final cut” over his efforts, but more times than not, a movie is not a finished product until it opens at your local Cineplex.
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It remains one of the well worn clichés in the film business: ask a writer or actor what they want to do, and if they don’t answer “be a rock star”, they invariably say “direct”. Yep, the seat behind the camera, the voice of implied reason during what is often the cinematic equivalent of herding cats, seems to be what every non-director in Hollywood (and elsewhere) wants.
In some ways, it makes sense. There’s no better way to get your vision of a script or a character across to the audience then handling the interpretation yourself. There’s also the concept of power for the often powerless. For many first timers, the rewards can be astonishing. Such familiar names as Ron Howard, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, and Robert Redford have turned their time behind the scenes into pure Oscar gold.
At first, he was just a famous professional wrestler trying to make it in show business. As with many athletes trying to make the leap, it was not all smooth sailing. Before long, however, he was earning praise for his basic B-movie, Ah-nold lite performances. Then something happened to and with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which elevated him from wannabe to true winner. He’s now known as the franchise savior, having stepped into such struggling series like The Mummy, G.I. Joe, and The Journey to the Center of… efforts, and most importantly, the Fast and Furious films. Indeed, with the latest earning boffo box office (almost $400 million over the first weekend) and the previous installments also worldwide hits ($788 million for Six, $626 million for Five), Johnson seems poised to have his first ever billion dollar baby.
It’s almost here. No, not the summer movie season; that’s still a good month and a highly anticipated Avengers sequel away. In this case, we are talking about the latest entry in the fluke franchise known as The Fast and the Furious. What started out as a celebration of all things racing, including an unnecessary diversion into “drifting”, has now become one of the biggest multi-cultural action series ever. We can thank the various creative forces behind the scenes for transporting said narrative away from the illegal street car challenges of the original movie to the dizzying heist drama of Fast Five and the international intrigue and spy games of Fast and Furious 6.
During a Master Class at the Bari International Film Festival this past week, Sir Alan Parker, one of the most interesting directors of the ‘80s and ‘90s, dropped a bombshell on fans worldwide. “I won’t direct another film,” the 71-year-old Oscar nominee stated, adding, “Directors do not improve with age: they repeat themselves, and while there are exceptions, their work generally does not get any better. This is the reason why I have decided not to make any more films.”
And with that, one of the most intriguing creative canons of the late 20th century comes to an end. Parker came out of commercials, counting fellow ad men Ridley Scott, his brother Tony, and Adrian Lynne as up and coming visionaries who brought the Madison Avenue mindset to the big screen. Instead of attending university, he went right to work, climbing from the mailroom to marketing, finally finding a place behind the lens.