Tag: filmmaking

THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE HARRY POTTER FRANCHISE: A SHORT PROFILE ON DAVID HEYMAN

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Jk Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson. These are all names who you will likely recognise due to their major contribution to the Harry Potter film Franchise. JK Rowling wrote and created it, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson starred in it. But who produced? Who actually put the film together and kicked of the franchise. This is going to be a profile on the man behind the magic, David Heyman.

David Heyman is one of the UK’s most successful film producer. Starting off as a production assistant on the period drama film A Passage to India (1984), David Heyman quickly rose through the ranks of Warner Bros to become a Creative Executive. His meteoric rise led him to become vice president of the entertainment studio, United Artists. However, in 1997, he decided to break away from the major film chains and embark on his own independent producing career. That is when Heyday Films was formed.

He produced a number of small independent productions, but they were nothing compared to the major film franchise which he would bring to life. In the earlier days of his film company, he wasn’t having a lot of luck. Warner Bros, who he signed a deal with to produce productions for were becoming more demanding and expecting David Heyman to perform his role better. Whilst the odds seemed against him, luck fell on his side when a Development Executive at his company read a small news print talking about the rising success of the Harry Potter book series.

The first book of the Harry Potter series was purchased, but was a low priority to be produced by the company. David Heyman’s secretary eventually read it and gave him a positive review about the book. This persuaded the Producer even further to get this book on the big screen.

Eventually David Heyman and Jk Rowling both met and negotiated a secure deal where she sold the film rights of the first four Harry Potter books to Warner Bros. After planning and developing the production, the hunt for a director began. Steven Spielberg firstly negotiated the role of Director. Due to differences in how the film was going to be executed, Spielberg decided to step down from being nominated as director. Apparently he wanted to make the series an animation. This could possibly be why he didn’t get the job.

After numerous job interviews, Chris Columbus was assigned as the Director of the film. After he was assigned the rest is history. It wasn’t until the end of the 3rd film however, before David Heyman was generating a massive fortune for himself. He was living in his sisters box room at the time he was producing the first three films.

In total, the Harry Potter franchise has generated a box office of $6.5 billion. That doesn’t even include the merchandise and studio tour profits. The Harry Potter franchise isn’t the only successful film which David Heyman has produced. Gravity (2013), which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, tells the story of an astronaut lost in space, netted a very large box office and was nominated for many accolades. He is also producing the new Fantastic Beasts series as well.

Whilst Jk Rowling wrote and created the books, perhaps we may never have had a film franchise, if it wasn’t for the man behind the magic, David Heyman.

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TOP 5 FAVOURITE FAN FILMS

A fan film is a short video or feature film which is usually inspired by another piece of media. This can be films, Television shows or even comic books. Fan films can be inspired from a wide range of different media products.

A couple of years ago, I never had a great interest in fan films. I usually just watched the films which the fan films were based on. However, after recognising the fact that some fan films are actually better than the films they’re based on, I decided to watch a couple. This is a short list, of my favourite fan films.

5.) THE SHOT TO SHOT REMAKE OF INDIANA JONES

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Now this fan film has been talked about all over town recently. Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos, two best friends decided to make a shot to shot remake of the iconic film, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It was shot over a seven year period and it was recently just finished. Whilst I’ve never seen the remake, I have seen the documentary which follows the two close friends making this brilliant fan film. Its not the quality of the film which I am impressed with, its more of the creativity and innovative techniques which the friends came up with to make this fan film. It was also amazing to see two teenagers determined to make this film, despite the many issues which they came across.

4.) PAC-MAN: The Movie

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When I first saw this fan film, I thought it was going to be some kind of Sci-fi Action film. That is exactly what this short fan film delivered. It had brilliant graphics and stunning special effects. Whilst it was only a six minute short film, the entertaining action will hook you in a matter of seconds. The style in how this short film is shot suits the design of the actual game as well. To be honest I wish they would have made that into a feature film (instead of Adam Sandler’s Pixels).

LINK TO THE FILM: PAC MAN: The Movie

3.) HITMAN: (ROCKETJUMP FILM)

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Rocketjump is a production company which produces a slate of fun and entertaining action films. One of their top short films, which I think is one of the best is Hitman which is based on the feature length Hitman movie. Looking back at this fan film I realised it was better compared to the other two. The action and comedic parts which pay homage to the games make this film a short but entertaining production. Thinking about it I wish that the guys who made this would have made the feature version instead.

LINK TO THE FILM: HITMAN: (ROCKETJUMP)

2.) PORTAL: NO ESCAPE

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This is one of the many short films that kicked off the career of Dan Trachtenberg.  Portal is a very popular puzzle game. Much like other filmmakers who make short films or even feature films based on popular games, Dan Trachtenberg decided to use Portal, for the basis of his short film. This action film uses brilliant special effects, and the Portal gun which is used in the film is amazing as well. Whilst the story is simple, it will keep you watching, making you wish that lead character would escape from her nightmarish prison.

LINK TO THE FILM: PORTAL: NO ESCAPE

1.) DARTH MAUL: APPRENTICE

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The first time when I heard about there being a Star Wars Fan Film Awards, I literally jumped out of my seat. This event brings together fans of this wonderful film universe who are put to the task of making a film based around the Star Wars universe. I immediately researched some of the nominees and winners of the festival. There was one film however, which caught my eye immediately. The short film, Darth Maul: Apprentice, is based on the title name, Darth Maul. It looks at his training and documents how he became the ultimate killing machine.  For a brief moment in the film, it also indicates that he might be a merciful character as well. His actions however, display that he is still the vicious killer he was born to be. Directed by Shawn Bu, and group of young aspiring filmmakers, this low budget and action packed short film is one not to miss.  You may even prefer to watch it instead of the Phantom Menace.

LINK TO THE FILM: DARTH MAUL: APPRENTICE

 

THE RISE OF THE KOREAN FILM INDUSTRY

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Usually, when I talk about films, I always think about Hollywood. Hollywood is the largest film industry in the World. It produces, on average 600 films a year and with it having the biggest and most affluent celebrities in the World, Hollywood is an industry to be reckoned with. However, I want to look past the King Midas of film industries and delve into a more up and coming, popular film industry which is on the rise. I want to look at the Korean Film Industry.

The Korean Film Industry has been booming recently. It seems quite odd when thinking about it actually. During the 1990s, the Korean Industry’s domestic market share was at an all time low. The industry was suffering. However, in 2006 the Korean Industry marketing share rose by 64%! How did this happen in the small space of 10 years?

To look back at how the Korean Industry rose to great heights, we are going to need to go back to the 1960s. Korea at this time was governed by a harsh dictatorship. This meant that there was a lot more censorship and people were regulated on what films they can produce.

However, this all changed in the 1990s when a democracy emerged establishing a new and more free society for the country. This means that the American studios were able to distribute their films within Korea’s market. However, the Korean industry was determined to create their own original productions.

Currently, South Korea is one of the biggest film industries in the whole World. Not only due to films, but the many popular TV series and K pop music videos which have propelled South Korea’s popular industry. In 2015, six of the top 10 films at the Korean box office were Korean films. There combined box office is $353 million.

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K-Pop has become conquered Korean entertainment.

Not only are they box office successes, but many of their films have garnered critical acclaim. Train to Busan (2016), Oldboy (2003), The Chaser (2008) and The Wailing (2016) have all been a critical and commercial successes.

The question  I am asking myself now is, how did they pull it off? Its a lot simpler than I though actually. The reason behind the industry’s success was due to producing high quality, story driven films. After the success of the action film ‘Shiri’ (1999), more high quality films from the Korean Film Industry were produced. This increased the demand from foreign film markets. Eventually, Korean films were flooding the US and other foreign film markets, proving that it was becoming a high and mighty industry.

The Korean film industry still proves to be successful to this day producing high quality films and providing their audience with story driven entertainment.

REBOOTS, REMAKES AND SEQUELS: IS HOLLYWOOD RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS?

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Originality is a key aspect in the Film Industry. It keeps films fresh and new. Films like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ or ‘Hell or High Water’ are brilliant examples of old and new original films. There are also many more as well. However, I have noticed recently that many major studios are investing in remaking classic film series or producing sequels to these film franchises. Could this be a damaging effect on the film industry or could it be the next best thing?

Firstly, before we begin I am certainly a fan of many film series which have been remade or have had sequels produced. I pretty much worship the new Star Wars film and I loved the new Magnificent Seven. However, could this new wave of films be damaging to originality.

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The sequel to the Star Wars franchise.

Movie remakes were actually more popular in 2005, where 17% of top grossing films were remakes. However, by 2014 this scale dropped to 5%. Whilst this percentage has dropped massively, there are still a great number of remakes being made. Disney has announced that they will be remaking 19 of their classic animations into live action films. Personally, I won’t be watching these films, as I feel that many Disney films are very iconic due to their pioneering animation. I prefer to watch the classic animations instead of a live action version. However, just because Disney is remaking these famous films, doesn’t mean that they won’t be incredibly successful and appeal to wide audiences.

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Disney has already produced successful remakes, like the new ‘Jungle Book.’

Is this new business model of production hindering original ideas though? Original ideas provide opportunity for many independent filmmakers to express their own ideas. Original ideas also pave the way for new filmmaking techniques and stories which can be explored for audiences to enjoy.

However, we cannot forget that the Hollywood industry is a big business. Major studios like Disney need to be making a major profit after all. Remakes may possibly guarantee a steady revenue as it may already have a loyal following from it’s audience. This can help massively in putting bums on seats at the cinema.

Maybe the problem isn’t in remakes or sequels actually being produced. Maybe it is how they are produced. Take a look at Star Wars The Force Awakens for example.

The Force Awakens was incredibly popular among a mainstream audience and it also received critical acclaim from critics as well. This was mainly due to the entertaining storyline, the thrilling action and the brilliant characters. It can be argued that it is very much like ‘A New Hope’ however, I feel that this does not affect the entertainment of this brilliant film. This sequel to a classic franchise proved very successful.

However, if you take a look at a film like ‘Terminator Genisys,’ which did not do as well with reviewers or audiences responses. This may have been due to the film relying on action too much and not reinforcing a strong and complex story line, which the first Terminator was based around, (and of course watching Arnie in action).

In conclusion, I feel that whilst it’s always good to produce original films which can help inspire creativity, sequels or remakes can be just as entertaining. However, perhaps original films deserve just as much attention as major remake or sequel films do.

SOURCE

Stephen Folllows. [2015], The scale of Hollywood remakes and reboots [Internet]. Available from https://stephenfollows.com/hollywood-remakes-and-reboots/ [Accessed 08 June 2016].

 

 

WHATS UP WITH TRAILERS THESE DAYS?

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Trailers, they act as the great catalyst for whether the film which they’re promoting is going to be popular or not. It determines the audience’s interest. I’m always a big fan of trailers. They hook me into the film and get me interested in the movie’s narrative. I always like watching a teaser trailer which doesn’t spoil the whole film for me. However, I’ve noticed that the way trailers are being marketed has radically changed over recent years. You now have an official trailer, which I can understand. It shows more of the film, to develop the audience’s intrigue.

A large amount of film companies are releasing two or three official trailers now. Some companies are now releasing international trailers. It’s very effective. I try to avoid these trailers as much as possible however, because by the end of it, you can pretty much put the film together yourself! Film companies are even releasing clips from their films now. I couldn’t believe it when this started becoming a thing. Films like Wonder Woman for example. Online Media companies, have been releasing clips from the actual film and it has just recently been released in UK cinemas. I feel that whilst it is nice to have a little sneak peak to find out if the film is any good, is releasing actual clips taking this a bit too far? Is it not ruining the film?

Even trailers by themselves are giving too much of the narrative away. For example, take a look at the official trailer 2 for Terminator Genisys (2015). Whilst I love watching Arnie in action any day, this trailer gives one of the biggest plot points away. I certainly wouldn’t have expected that from an official trailer. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the film, but it literally displays the twist of who the villain is in the film. Trailers have become so much of a trouble in spoiling the plot, I try to avoid viewing trailers as best as possible.

Another example is the film Cast Away (2000). The film tells the story about Chuck Noland, who is a Fed Ex executive that gets stranded on the island after his plane crashes. Now this film is absolutely brilliant and I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it. However, if I watched the trailer, I wouldn’t have even bothered to watch the movie, as it literally tells the ending. Seriously, the trailer actually shows you what happens at the end of the film. Feel free to watch it if you like, but there would be no point in buying the film. A movie trailer is meant to entice the audience, not ruin the whole plot.

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My reaction to the cast away trailer

However, not all trailers are that bad I guess. A brilliant film company which constructs amazing trailers is the film company A24. A24 is only a recent entertainment company which has been conquering Hollywood. The company has distributed various acclaimed films and they have also garnered their first ever oscar for best picture. This was for their film Moonlight (2016). Whilst it has proven successful in producing films, it has also proven to be very successful in producing trailers. Take a look at the official trailer here for ‘It Comes At Night (2017),’ if you haven’t already seen it.

Now whilst it provides the story line of a family surviving against an unknown entity, it never displays who the villain is. This makes the villain seem more menacing as it is left to the audiences imagination. It uses a large amount of quick cuts displaying action which gives the trailer excitement. It also establishes all the typical elements for a horror film. For example, it displays really dark lighting and a dark setting and implies that there is some sort of dark fantasy like creature which is hunting down the lead characters.

In conclusion, whilst trailers play a pivotal role in the marketing of a film, perhaps it is best to tease the audience more rather than tell the entire story.

 

 

 

 

 

LIST: TOP FIVE BEST RECENT FOREIGN ACTION AND HORROR FILMS

Usually, when I think of action or horror films, I always think of the Hollywood powerhouse. I think of successful film series like Die Hard or The Paranormal Activity franchise. However, I’ve been broadening my horizons recently and developed a great interest in action and horror films coming from film industries outside of Hollywood. Here is a list of my personal top five favourite foreign, action and horror films which I definitely recommend to all you fellow readers out there.

5.) HARDCORE HENRY

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Directed by Llya Vicktorovich Naishuller, Hardcore Henry tells the simple story of a man who is brought back to life by his wife and hunts down the same group of criminals who abduct his wife later on in the plot. Whilst the narrative seems simple, like any other typical action film, the first person perspective and action sequences make this a film which is not one to miss.

With brilliant chase scenes and stunning shootouts, Hardcore Henry will keep you gripped from the beginning to the end. It also stars the wonderful Sharlto Copley, which is another major positive point to this brilliant film.

4.)  TROLL HUNTER

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From the title, I would have expected this film to be something like Sharknado, or Shark Exorcist (we never talk about those films), but it was far from it. As comedic as it is action packed, Troll Hunter is a Norwegian dark fantasy film which tells the story of a group of students who are attempting to shoot a documentary about a suspected bear poacher.

They eventually find out that this apparent bear poacher, is hunting something much bigger and more dangerous. The narrative develops even more when they find out that this poacher is a licensed Troll Hunter. The students follow this hunter along his travels and document the many encounters he has with his dangerous enemies.

Troll Hunter is an excellent dark comedy, that uses a found footage choice of filmmaking which complements well with the tension in the film. For a moderately low budget film, the special effects are pretty amazing as well.

However, the best part about this brilliant film, is that the actual previous Norwegian Prime Minister makes an appearance at the end of the film. I have no idea how they were able to cast him but it truly shows that politicians can be fun people after all.

3.) THE WAILING 

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This terrifying Korean horror film tells the story of a Police detective who is investigating a mysterious sickness which is spreading around a small village. This sickness occurs when a mysterious stranger arrives. The case soon gets personal, when the infection begins to affect the detective’s daughter.

This complex and very dark narrative entices the audience. Whilst it is a very bleak film, it is definitely one film not to miss. The many horrific scenes which you will see will leave jaws dropped aplenty.

Instead of relying on typical dull jump scares, this film performs very well in developing tension and it actually uses a strong story to keep the audience interested instead of just relying on overused jump scares.

2.) THE RAID

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Directed by Gareth Huw Evans, this acclaimed Indonesian action film was made on a moderately low budget and was able to achieve a successful box office. This puts modern American action films to shame, like Ben Hur (2016) or 47 Ronin (2013). The Raid tells the story of a SWAT team who get trapped in a terrifying tower block.

Whilst the story sounds simple and very conventional for an action film, the brilliant film making and astounding action sequences contribute to making this a masterful film. The fast pace story line will keep you glued to the screen making you wonder, what is going to happen next?

The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed as well. Each fight scene also results in unpredictable conclusions, which the audience will not expect (no spoilers).

Whilst some reviewers criticised it for a lack of character depth, this does not reflect this entertaining and heart stopping action phenomenon.

1.) TRAIN TO BUSAN

Now for the film which takes it to the top. Yes the film, which conquers all recent foreign action and horror films. The film is the icing on the metaphorical cake. It is the one, the only, the ‘Train to Busan.’

This film has everything. Literally, everything. You have drama, action, horror, character development and even comedy, despite this being a very dark and bleak film. The film tells the story of a father and daughter who have been disconnected from each other for a long time. As the father takes his daughter on a train so that she can be reunited with her mother, terror strikes when a violent infection spreads across the city, turning innocent people into mindless rampaging zombies. The father, daughter and other passengers must survive against the merciless monsters, who are tearing apart the train.

The brilliant performance from all the actors do not just make this another typical violent, zombie film. They make this an emotionally charged zombie film where you develop a strong attraction to nearly all of the characters.

Before I saw this film, I was really bored with typical zombie films. Each film relied too much on violence and not enough on a strong narrative. This film does the complete opposite.

Another brilliant thing about this production, is that there are hardly any guns used. Instead of using shotguns or bats wrapped in barbed wire, the characters use their own fists to fight off the horde of zombies. This works well with the grittiness of the film.

Overall, I’d say that this is definitely the number one current foreign horror and action film to watch. It has everything and by the end of it, you’ll be wanting to watch more as well.