As if you needed more proof that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of the greatest, most influential films in history…
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made. Despite countless articles, academic papers, books, and documentaries attempting to unfurl the many mysteries behind its creative design and storytelling, one thing we know for sure is that the epic sci-fi film has inspired the work of some of histories greatest filmmakers.
In this video by Alejandro Villarreal, we get to hear how Kubrick’s masterpiece (or one of them, at least) not only influenced and ignited the creativity of directors like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg, but also commanded the attention of film critics as well.
It’s extremely subtle. It’s extremely visual. And the story is razor thin. It was the first time people really took science fiction seriously. —George Lucas
The LA Times brings word that legendary horror filmmaker George A. Romero passed away earlier today at the age of 77. Romero’s producing partner tells the outlet that he died after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer” and passed away while listening to the score of one his favorite films, 1952’s The Quiet Man, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side.
Romero was born in The Bronx in 1940 and studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he remained for many years working in commercials and short films. He made his feature film debut with the seminal classic, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Romero wrote, directed, edited, shot, and acted in the film. The feature kicked off the zombie craze and became a cult sensation after being produced on just a $ 114,000 budget.
The filmmaker followed up Night of the Living Dead, which tragically fell into the public domain just a few years after release due to a copyright error on the film’s prints, with There’s Always Vanilla, his only romantic comedy. His next film was 1972’s Season of the Witch, followed by The Crazies in 1973, and Martin in 1978. Ten years after Night of the Living Dead was released, he debuted the sequel to the film, the second installment in his “Of the Dead” series with the iconic Dawn of the Dead. The film became another international hit and was the first feature of special effects guru Tom Savini, who would go on to work with Romero throughout his career.
Romero’s output in the 1980s ranged just as much as his early work, with 1981’s renaissance fair-themed feature, Knightriders; 1982’s horror anthology Creepshow (written by Stephen King); 1985’s Day of the Dead (the third in the series); and 1988’s Monkey Shines. Romero later co-directed the film Two Evil Eyes with Italian horror icon Dario Argento. He followed that with a feature adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half in 1993 and didn’t direct another film until 2000’s Bruiser.
The final three films of Romero’s career capped off his “Of the Dead” franchise with 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and 2009’s Survival of the Dead.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Desrocher, and three children, Andrew, Cameron, and Tina.
Star Wars Forces of Destiny celebrates iconic heroes from the franchise
Disney and Lucasfilm today announced Star Wars Forces of Destiny, a new initiative celebrating the inspiring stories of iconic heroes from across the Star Wars universe. An original series of animated shorts (each 2-3 minutes in length) will explore exciting, all new adventures of key characters including Rey, Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano and others, ahead of books and a TV special later in the year. The stories will also be supported by a line of toys from Hasbro, including new ‘Adventure Figures’ – a fusion between traditional dolls and action figures, creating a whole new way to play Star Wars.
“Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage, or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” said Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. “We’re thrilled that so many of the original actors are reprising their roles in these shorts which capture the small moments and everyday decisions that shape who these characters are. It is a fun new way for people to experience Star Wars.”
Developed by Lucasfilm Animation, Star Wars Forces of Destiny will remain true to the Star Wars canon, showing how choices both big and small ultimately shape the destinies of beloved characters. Launching in July, the animated micro-series will be available on Disney YouTube ahead of a two-part TV special featuring eight additional shorts on Disney Channel in Fall 2017. Fans will be delighted to hear familiar voices in the series, including: Daisy Ridley (Rey), Felicity Jones (Jyn), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata as narrator).
Star Wars Forces of Destiny will also be supported by global product extensions, such as books, apparel, bedding, and toys – including the new line of ‘Adventure Figures’ created by Hasbro, which bridges the gap between traditional action figures and dolls. Each individually-designed figure features dynamic action, like Rey swinging her lightsaber, along with multiple points of articulation to help recreate the characters’ adventures and heroic moments with different poses.
“From Princess Leia to Sabine Wren, Star Wars heroines are unique, and we wanted to represent that in the product line for Star Wars Forces of Destiny,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “The result is the creation of our new ‘Adventure Figures’ that celebrate the power and stories of these incredible characters and allow kids to recreate their most heroic moments at home.”
The 11-inch figures will depict characters including Rey, Jyn Erso, Princess Leia, Sabine Wren, plus loveable sidekicks and epic villains like BB-8, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and many more. Hasbro is also rolling out Star Wars Forces of Destiny role play and accessories—from Rey’s Extendable Staff, to a new, electronic Jedi Power Lightsaber toy, which are part of the Star Wars Bladebuilders system.
Adds John Frascotti, President of Hasbro: “As the Star Wars fan base has broadened over the last 40 years, we have continued to add new and exciting play experiences to the Star Wars brand, to engage fans across generations. We’ve worked closely with Disney to bring the storytelling from Star Wars Forces of Destiny to life through this innovative toy line to help connect with new audiences as well as appeal to existing fans.”
Fans attending Star Wars Celebration in Orlando will see a sneak peek of Star Wars Forces of Destiny during the “Heroines of Star Wars” panel on Friday, April 14. The panel, moderated by Amy Ratcliffe – host of “Lattes with Leia” podcast, will feature Carrie Beck – vice president of animation at Lucasfilm and Dave Filoni – executive producer of Star Wars Rebels, as well as Ashley Eckstein, Tiya Sircar and other surprise guests. For a first look at the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny Adventure Figures, stop by Hasbro booth #2744.
We sat down with Jonathan Belinski, cinematographer of a particularly memorable Super Bowl commercial shot in one take.
Every year, just as many people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as they do for the action on the field. This year, Fox Sports put in the extra effort to make the show opener as memorable as anything else we saw. Set to the classic Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag,” the spot intercut documentary footage with an elaborate one-shot showing us the history of Americans at war throughout the ages.
No Film School talked to Jonathan Belinski, the segment’s cinematographer, about how the idea went from a complicated concept to a beautiful execution, the value of long-term collaboration, and more.
“I was putting the camera through hell.”
No Film School: How involved were you with the Super Bowl this year?
DP Jacques Haitkin’s 100+ credits include everything from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ to today’s biggest blockbusters. Here’s what he’s learned.
If there’s such a thing as a cult cinematographer, Jacques Haitkin is it. He has lensed some of the films that defined the last quarter century of horror, not the least of which are Wes Craven’s first two Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Lately, his time behind the camera has been spent as Second Unit DP on Hollywood’s biggest titles: Furious 7, Captain America: Civil War, and most recently, Kong: Skull Island.
In advance of Kong’s release, Haitkin shared with No Film School some of his lessons learned over many years on set, including what skills he brings from low-budget work onto blockbuster projects.
“Budget doesn’t matter. The higher purpose of all movies is to touch an audience’s hearts and minds by illustrating that narrative with picture and sound.”
No Film School: You’ve worked on smaller budget films and many Hollywood blockbusters alike. What skills do you bring from smaller films to bigger ones?
Every kid grows out of Sesame Street at some point, but you never really stop loving the Muppets who helped teach you how to count, spell and do the right thing. That’s why every now and then, the characters from the Children’s Television Workshop are rounded up for content that’s mostly geared towards adults, but can be enjoyed by kids as well. Today, we have one of those videos.
Sesame Street is no stranger to making references to relevant, timely pop culture phenomena. We’ve seen Cookie Monster involved in an Avengers: Age of Ultron parody, and they’ve even spoofed television with some Game of Thrones mockery. This time, characters like Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, The Count, Grover, Oscar the Grouch and more have some fun by reciting some of the most famous movie quotes from history with adorable results.
Watch Sesame Street characters reading movie quotes below.
It’s surprising just how many different movies Vanity Fair was able to include in this video, especially when you see how any of them aren’t kid friendly. While this video is totally safe to watch with your kids, you might have to hold off on any potential requests to watch movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cool Hand Luke, Citizen Kane, Moonstruck and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Somehow a Poltergeist line-reading is made even creepier when it’s read by Abby Cadabby.
Still, there are plenty of movies like Back to the Future, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Star Wars: A New Hope that your kids can enjoy. And even if they’re not old enough to appreciate them yet, we can all appreciate Sesame Street‘s characters spouting off lines from those movies.
The only problem for some people might be that the voices of certain characters have clearly changed as talents have passed away or moved on. For me personally, Big Bird just doesn’t sound the same, but the rest of the voices seem spot-on. Still, it’s hard to be annoyed by something that trivial when the show is still doing groundbreaking things to help kids understand the complicated world around them, such as introducing the first puppet character with autism on the show. Keep up the good work, Sesame Street.
One of the many ’80s things I’m nostalgic for is the iconic HBO opening that would play before their feature presentations. For me in the ’80s, seeing movies meant one of three things: going to the multiplex, watching a movie on VHS from the local rental store, Video Paradise, or sitting down on Friday or Saturday night with my family to watch the big new movie on HBO. For me, that HBO Feature Presentation opening was like a magic gateway and I often revisit that iconic opening on YouTube, as silly as that sounds.
Now HBO has teamed with Imaginary Forces to re-create that iconic opening for a new generation. Check it out now below!
New HBO Opening
The new sequence debuted this weekend in front of Saturday’s first run of X-Men: Apocalypse and launches today across all cable, digital and streaming platforms. The new sequence, directed by Dan Gregoras from Imaginary Forces, employs “a range of skillsets and production methodologies: combining live action talent photography with complex CG environments and a newly interpreted score to create something immersive and magical.”
For comparison purposes, here is the classic HBO Feature Presentation opening sequence, which debuted in 1983 and opened all First-Run features and feature presentations.
I don’t think that this new opening captures the same magic of the original, complete with the miniatures and animation, but it’s good to hear the classic music reimagined for a new generation. If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic like me, watch a video on how the original opening was created over 30 years ago:
Imaginary Forces Co-Founder Peter Frankfurt says of the new version:
“One of the real challenges was referencing the [1980s] original but not being nostalgic. What we wanted to do is to capture that sense of wonder and wow. That’s not a nostalgic feeling, that’s a present day feeling – so we had to make something fairly technologically advanced, but also authentic.”
Joel Beckerman’s Man Made Music adapted the original score, which was re-recorded with a full orchestra. According to Beckerman:
“Everyone knows the iconic HBO theme, and it was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to transform it once again, this time with the IF team. We knew that we had to help bring IF’s stunning visual reimagining to life, while also creating something that would stand on its own musically. This led us to augment the orchestra with many layers of organic and synthetic texture to help sonically bring the theme into the future while keeping one foot grounded in HBO’s legacy. We’re so proud of the work we did together with IF.”
And for an even bigger dive, here is a look back at all of the HBO Feature Presentation openings from 1976 through today:
Here are the full credits for the new HBO opening:
Creative Director: Dan Gregoras Executive Producer: Jon Hassell Head of Production: Aleen Kim Producer: Lisa Muñoz Designers: Aaron Maurer, Ben Zylberman VFX Supervisor: Jeremy Cox CG Lead: Chris Vincola 3D Modelers: Roger An, Muzi Lee, Hannah Sung 3D Animation / Tracking Artist: Joerg Liebold Lighting and Texture Artists: Cody Chen, Ken Lee, Chris Vincola, Roger An Compositors: Tamir Sapir, Manu Gaulot, Ken Lee, Chris Vincola, Ari Reisner Editor: Rachel Ambelang Coordinator: Meredith Engstrom Music Composition: Man Made Music Arranger – Chris Knight Music Producers – Mickey Alexander & Joel Beckerman Line Producer: Adam Lawson Directors of Photography: Dallas Sterling, Ki S. Hwang HBO Head of Marketing: Chris Spadaccini HBO VP Brand Marketing: Robert Priday HBO Creative Director: Alyson Bradshaw HBO Art Directors: Evan Beier, Gigi Nicolas