Monday, November 25, 2013

Raindance Day 5 (part 1)

(which was September 29th)

No Class again today, so it’s all movies...

WEBFEST THRILLERS: Due to timing, again the obvious choice was the series on Webisodes, except today it was the *best* choice of the noon time period. I was genuinely interested and still scribbling ideas for *my* potential web series. And this block was on *thrillers*. Hey, how could I go wrong?

MALICE: Alice In Wonderland with the supernatural. Another CGI show, and I’m guessing the episode they showed was a “season end” because tough gal Alice (kind of Indiana Jonesish) and her family are down the rabbit hole into some version of hell. There’s a giant land octopus like creature attacking them, and the whole family (especially the little brother) have to band together to destroy it so that they can escape and get back home. One of the interesting lessons I learned from this show was the importance of strong attractive female characters. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I think the combination of the wild west of the web plus the video game culture audience plus the generally female oriented medium of television (even though you are watching these shows on your computer), seems to result in a TOMB RAIDER style of female lead. Many of these shows had the action female lead, and I suspect this character works for both men and women: women have a role model and men like the hot women. The women in these series seem to have some high concept element to their characters and a distinctive look. They are superheroes, whether they are super or not. This made me reconsider the characters in my web series.

BLOODY CUTS: This was an interesting one because it was the stand alone story... one of a 12 part anthology show by a dozen different directors. A way to turn a group of similar shorts into a series, the way THE ABCs OF DEATH turns 26 short films by different filmmakers into a feature. Again, this is an option for filmmakers who want to do a webseries... and with the internet, the different filmmakers can be from all over the world. As long as the different shorts share a theme or genre or basic subject matter and can be logically connected together into a series, everything is great.

THE SYNDICATE: There are always al couple of these that I don’t remember, and this was one of them. The description says it was about a family of serial killers who adopts a serial killer to become part of their tribe. You’d think I would have remembered that. I think I may know the director of this one.

CLUTCH: The other show I don’t remember, the description says it was about hookers vs. the mob. Also sounds interesting... Again, the strong female lead thing.

VAMPIRES: There were a couple of episodes of this documentary style show about people with odd businesses... that cater to the ultra goth crowd. One episode was on a guy in New Orleans who had a Voodoo shop, and really took us into the world of voodoo. It was interesting to see all of the things in the shop, the type of customers that shop there, the custom made gris gris and a little talk about voodoo dolls. I hadn’t really thought of documentary as a genre that would work in web series, but this show had a strong hook (all of the subjects were “vampires”) and material you wouldn’t find on TV. Totally a niche audience show, but also for people like me who might be curious about the niche audience. The show seems to globe trot to different interesting places, and I don’t know if it is all shot by the same crew of by various crews and then edited and voice overed at the main producer’s place.

LAB RATS: The first episode shows you how to establish your story and promise us interesting future episodes. On a college campus two guys bump into each other and talk about the attractive gal walking across campus. One of the guys decides to follow her, and ends up at the research facility where they are looking for college students to be part of their experiments... there is pay. Our protag signs up, and becomes a human lab rat. He’s interviewed, then sent into a strange room... and the fun begins. The lab has maze like hallways, and sinister things are happening there. Our protag is a curious guy, and goes places he is not allowed... This show manages to take practical locations like the college and marry them with some green screen locations like the sterile halls of the lab. A great concept drives the story, and we’ve all seen those adverts on TV looking for test subjects for some new medical treatment... which is not yet FDA approved and may have side effects.

RAGGED ISLE: A continuing conspiracy mystery show about a small town (in Northern Carolina?) where a murder uncovers a big government conspiracy. This show had some great cliff hangers, and opened with the resolution of one massive twist and ended with a new massive twist... all in maybe five minutes! There were a couple of episodes, which helped show how the twists worked in the series: set up at the end of one episode and that twist drives the next episode... until we get a new twist. The acting was a little iffy, as was some of the lighting. This made me think that this show may actually be a “back yard” show, created by some people in their little town far away from Hollywood and shot on their own equipment. You can do one of these *anywhere*. The production value on this show was great, because it *was* shot on location in this small waterfront town.

MIDNIGHT ARCHIVE: Another documentary show about peculiar people, this episode was about a guy who has a collection of human skulls and skeletons. He had a whole room in his house filled with human skeletons and actively collected them. Weird! Oh, and he was single and looking for love... and someone who understood his hobby. Good luck with that! These documentary shows were fascinating, and targeted the niche audience. If you have some odd hobby or interest, a show like this might be something for you to consider making. You can explore your interest... and connect with others who have the same interest. Though, human skull collecting is kinda weird.


RAFI PITTS: Every year Raindance has an Artist In Residence, and this year it was director Rafi Pitts. The afternoon program was going to show his film THE HUNTER and then a Q&A anoput the film and his work. Past Artist In Residence have featured Mike Figgis, Christopher Nolan, and Ken Loach. When Figgis was there, he and I were on a panel on indie filmmaking that was more of a debate between the two of us... and was a great experience for me. I didn’t know who Rafi Pitts was, but that’s the great part of a film festival: you get to learn about new filmmakers whose careers you may follow from that point on. Rafi introduced his film before the screening and gave us a little background, including the reason why he ended up playing a major role in the film. He began as an actor, turned to directing... and when an actor dropped out of the film at the last minute, he could either delay production to recast (which he feared might give the investors cold feet and have them pull out) or proceed with himself in that role.

The houselights dimmed, the film began... and it was a film titled THE HUNTER but not the one Rafi Pitts directed. Same year as his film, same title... different movie. A mix up at the film exchange. (If you want proof that coming up with an original title that is distinctive and hasn’t been used in at least a few decades is important, this mix up is it!) So Rafi ended up doing a 2 hour Q&A.... and it was *better* than seeing the movie. We could all Netflix the movie later (it’s in my queue) but we could never get a two hour discussion on making indie films. Rafi talked about everything from his introduction to film, to working with actors, to directing techniques, to finding the money and then finding distribution and getting his work out there. It was fascinating.

The great part of this is that in that two hours you really git to know him... to the extent that when I bumped into him a couple of days later at the festival we had a great conversation about the films we had seen. The wrong film mistake lead to one of the high points of the festival for me.

But after that, I was ready to see some movies...



Martin_B said...

Enjoying the Raindance posts, especially the exposure to indies and Webisodes I had never heard of. Checked a couple of them out. The Aussie one, Event Zero, obviously has money behind it, but I don't think they have the formula right yet. Doesn't end on enough of a cliffhanger, and too many things are assumed that are not always true in real life e.g. that all people love their family members and will do anything for them.

Martin_B said...

Enjoying your Raindance posts, and looking forward to the next.

I particularly like getting your views on indies and webisodes I've never heard of as a guide to what's new and good.

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