Quit A Dream Job To Pursue A Film Career…

Said no reasonable parent. Ever.

I am sure that there are all sorts of stories out there about people leaving a plum job to pursue some insane pipe dream, only to actually crush it in that ‘pipe dream’.

Here is a case in point. Colin Levy worked at Pixar. He worked on films like Finding Dory, In and Out, Monsters University and several others. Not a bad place to be as, speaking from personal experience, I was lucky enough to take a tour of the Pixar campus last year as the son of a family friend currently works there and he was gracious enough to give me and my family a tour when we were out in San Francisco. Working at Pixar has to be absolutely awesome. Colin pretty much had the world at his fingertips. So what did he do? He quit to pursue becoming a filmmaker.

And wow, his first crack at it is pretty impressive. It is called Skywatch. It is only 10 minutes long, but wow, it is an impressive effort. Really interesting nugget of an idea – a sci-fi thriller that includes drones in a futuristic world where things can be delivered to your living room through a wall unit. What could go wrong? Great execution. Very well produced and directed. Within the first minute, you get the idea of what is going on.

I’m already looking forward to the full length feature!

UPDATE: Here is a short on how he got an Oscar nominated actor (Jude Law) to be in his short film.

Wonder Woman 1984

I think I’m all in.

Gal Gadot. Big fan.

New Order theme music. Check.

Making me remember the network version of Wonder Woman from the 1980s starring Lynda Carter. Check.

DC Comics has a looooong way to go to catch up to the juggernaut that Marvel has created. And it is likely they never will actually catch up unless they get someone as good as Chris Nolan to work on Batman and other characters. But, they have a franchise player here in Wonder Woman.

The Real Starcourt Mall

Starcourt Mall – Stranger Things – via The Verge

The first three season of Netflix’s Stranger Things has been nothing short of a cultural revelation. Yes, the 2nd season was a little weak but the most recent 3rd season that was released over the July 4th weekend has received rave reviews and is considered on par with the series’ breakthrough first season.

A key ‘character’ in the 3rd season was the Starcourt Mall, an astoundingly accurate depiction of 1980s mall culture. While many thought that the mall that was used in the show was built on a soundstage, the reality is that the production crew at Netflix were able to find an actual, ‘stuck in the 1980s’ mall in Gwinnett, Georgia (Stranger Things is shot in and around Georgia).

There’s a reason why the Starcourt Mall, the principal location for the third season of Stranger Things looks so real: it’s built inside of a real shopping mall. Specifically, it was built inside of Georgia’s Gwinnett Place Mall, which was built just a year before the latest season of Netflix’s show is set.

Along with other historically believable shops that the show’s characters visit throughout the course of the show, there are almost a half-dozen extra stores that were built and filled with period-appropriate signage and products, but they never appeared on camera. Typically, film sets aren’t a full structure or room; it’s cheaper to build the bare minimum needed for a shot. That Netflix opted to build out entire stores suggests that the filmmakers wanted a bit of flexibility with how they shot the show, allowing them to shoot from any angle without worrying about an unfinished background.

Jon Porter – The Verge

As a teen of the 1980s, I have been so impressed with the accuracy and attention to detail that Netflix has shown with the production of this show. They have absolutely *nailed* what it was like to be a teen in the 1980s – from the pop culture references to the way they constructed the Starcourt Mall.

Sadly, Netflix is in the process of dismantling the mall in Gwinnett. There were some rumblings that they were going to leave the Stranger Things version of the mall intact for a while so it could be used as a promotional destination but that ended up not happening. I definitely would have wanted to try a cone from Scoops Ahoy.

Karaoke World Championships

Photo Credit: Hannah Ewens @hannahrosewens

Yes, it exists. In Helsinki, Finland. Because the Fins LOVE karaoke.

Spots can also be found in abundance in the activity’s lesser-known cultural home: Helsinki, Finland. It’s a small capital city with about 30 karaoke bars one every few minutes walk in the center. Many pubs also have their own machines. There is a metal karaoke bar, a gay karaoke bar, and there is a public library with a karaoke booth. It is possible that many Finnish people love karaoke even more than the Japanese.

Hanna Ewens at Vice was on the first plane to Helsinki when she heard about these championships. Yet, once she got there, the existential but critical question that has vexed humanity for years raised its ugly head again – what exactly is karaoke?

What is karaoke? For the first of many times this weekend, I try to work it out. It’s not the same as an open mic night where you sing your own songs, with no recorded track, and a level of professionalism expected (for instance, actually knowing the words). Neither is it a Stars in Their Eyes-type scenario, since there’s no pressure to perform the song like the artist. It’s not drag, because, apart from one contestant dressed like a queen and a couple of guys singing Whitney Houston numbers, there isn’t anything political or subversive about what we’ve seen so far.

The true success of karaoke is the fact that the interpretation of what is considered ‘good’ can not be defined by any rules – it really is in the hands of those that witness the performance, coupled with the contextual elements that surround the performance: What song did the performer choose? What was the context which drove the choice of song? What or how did their outfit enhance the performance? The considerations could be endless. Knowing a good karaoke performance is sort of like porn – you know it when you see it.

Photo Credit – Hannah Ewens

Clown Only Screening of Stephen King’s “IT”

Clowns-only screening of IT at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.

This is just wrong in so many ways.

The one redeeming element of this idea is how it came about. Back when Wonder Woman was released, the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater in Austin, TX held an ‘all women’ screening of the movie. As this screening was announced on Facebook, a snarky commenter, on a lark, suggested they have “an all male screening of Thor:Ragnarock or a special screening of IT that’s only for those who identify as clowns.”

Now that’s listening to customer feedback.

Photo Source: Entertainment Weekly

What’s In A Movie Name?

Not much creativity, it seems to me.

A couple of years ago, the breakout movie of the summer was The Hangover. Fast forward to this year and Hollywood’s summer of sequels and regurgitated ideas, and what does Warner Brothers deliver but the amazingly drab named “The Hangover: Part II“.

I mean, really? That’s the best name for the sequel to the “largest grossing R Rated movie ever” that they could come up with? For the audience they are trying to target – young men in college through their late 20’s/early 30’s (and maybe men in their late 30’s through mid 40’s who WISH they were back in their 20’s :) – they couldn’t figure out a catchy phrase to represent the sequel? Really?

Without much thought, here are a few exceedingly average, but better than “Part II” names, that I thought of.

The Hangover: Another Round?
The Hangover: Come on, one more.
The Hanover: Back For More
The Hangover: Relapse
The Hangover: Full As A Monkey (Since a monkey is part of the story line)
The Hangover: Double Fisting
The Hangover: Another Bender
The Hangover: Overserved
The Hangover: Served Again
The Hangover: Thai One On (Since this one is based in Thailand)
Another Hangover

Its no wonder Hollywood can’t make a decent movie to save their lives and don’t know when to leave a classic alone. Here’s a stretch – The Hangover: Part II is probably going to be terrible; it will probably try to play off of the same unpredictability that made the original so, well, original. And when the movie is done, we’ll probably walk out of it saying “I liked the first one more.” And maybe then, we will appreciate how funny, original, and unpredictable “The Hangover” was.

UPDATE: I rest my case

Advancing Market Research

I can’t believe someone actually pays for studies like this. “A recent study in England has found…wait for it….almost 90% of users of DVR/TV time shifting devices skip the ads in the shows they have recorded. “It really took a market research study by Deloitte to figure this out? “Stunning!! A revelation of market research!!” In the same story, the respondents did say that if the “ad pods” were shorter, they would consider paying more attention to the advertising. As noted earlier this week, some advertisers are grappling with this situation by trying to fake out viewers by having their ads look so much like the show that they are watching that they will stop Fast Forwarding through the ads.

Doom Virgin


Stephen Tolito from the gaming site Kotaku lost his Doom virginity after jilting the game’s advances for 17 years.

I am not sure how I failed to play Doom during the last 17 years. While I have long been primarily a console gamer, I dabbled with PC gaming before, during and after Doom’s launch. I had a Commodore 64, a PC that ran games off DOS and, later, Windows 3.11. I had friends who loved playing Marathon, which they described as Doom for their Macs. But somehow I never played Doom. Maybe it was too gritty for me. I was one of those kids who collected Superman comics, not Batman, and never Wolverine.

While Doom’s day in the sun has come and gone with all the advances in the gaming industry, as a game it is the equivalent to Linus’s blanket…comfortable, familiar and its always there when you need to kill a few digital monsters.

Via Slashdot