Trek Nation documentary looks pretty damn good

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Star Trek has been covered before by documentaries, most notably Trekkies 1 and 2. But it’s never looked like this, combining the story of Gene Rodenberry’s son exploring his dad’s legacy, the sociological impact of the show, and some really amazing cinematography.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this film, which as of yet doesn’t have a distributor. Read more in the Wired article about Trek Nation.

Why 3D is NOT the future of cinema

Because movies tell stories, and 3D is at best a sideshow, according to Cory Doctorow in his latest Guardian column. I’m inclined to agree. 3D is touted as cinema’s saviour, bringing audiences back to the theatre and away from video games and home theatres….but without a story to back it up, which is usually best told in regular 2D, you aren’t going to see people sticking around. James Cameron’s Avatar and other upcoming films may prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

Movie studios go to war with kiosks

In their continuing quest to commit suicide, as noted by Techcrunch, Hollywood is taking measures to restrict access to their latest DVD releases from DVD kiosks that allow people to order a DVD online and then pick it up from a high-tech vending machine nearby. Not surprisingly, Blockbuster is in support of the move, since it props up their failing business.

But as Techcrunch says (and I heartily agree), all this move does is encourage piracy. If people can’t rent movies in a way that’s proven to be convenient to them, they aren’t going to leg it halfway across town to the nearest Blockbuster. What they will do is take five minutes to learn how to download torrents…and then the studios have likely lost a customer forever.

Radio Free Skaro interviews VFX genius Dennis Muren

Not strictly Doctor Who this week, but a cool interview all the same. The local chapter of SIGGRAPH (a group of computer graphics geniuses) brought Industrial Light and Magic special effects legend Dennis Muren to Vancouver, and Warren was able to interview him. Apologies for the dodgy audio during Warren’s questions….the details are too boring to go into, but at any rate Muren’s thoughts on visual effects, art and the motion picture industry are the good stuff.

Roger Ebert likes Watchmen

The reaction to Watchmen has been mixed amongst those who have seen the film, with a sharp division between geeks expressing adoration and film critics giving it a “glossy but meh.” But now Roger Ebert, who is about the only film critic I have any respect for, has given the film four stars (or “thumbs up”, for those of you who miss At the Movies.) I was a little worried that the story I’ve waited more than 20 years to see on the big screen would be a visually arresting failure, but Ebert’s endorsement is reassuring. I’ll know tomorrow, when I finally get a chance to see the film.

Filmfellas debuts on Vimeo

Vimeo, my new video host of choice, is presenting a new web series called Filmfellas, a “Dinner for Five” type show featuring four filmmakers engaging in badinage about process, web vs. TV and film and the changing media landscape. One of the regulars is Philip Bloom, who puts out some amazing looking short films using only a lens adapter and a Sony EX1 (a camera I’ve played with and mostly like). Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’ll definitely be a regular viewer. You can see the first episode below.


FilmFellas from Steve Weiss, Zacuto USA on Vimeo.

The state of indie filmmaking and a ninja rebuttal

So it appears that indie filmmaking in 2008 is in dire straits. The technology to make a film has spread far and wide and the cost of making a film has plummeted, but according to Mike Curtis of HD for Indies, distribution is still next to impossible and the math doesn’t work in favor of people being able to make a living off of making movies. But…where’s the surprise here? Hasn’t that always been the way indie films have been? Kent Nichols, of Ask a Ninja fame, certainly thinks so, and states in his blog that the next generation of creators and stars will emerge from Youtube and other online venues. The Observer also has an interesting article about how web series have come of age since the early days of LonelyGirl15.

Personally, as someone who creates content for a living I don’t even think it’s worth it to create an independent feature film for anything other than as a calling card to showcase your skills. Sure, there’s lots of street cred, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Web series are an ideal platform in which to not only hone your craft but also pre-build an audience, should you ever decided to damn the torpedoes and go the feature route. And unlike the frankly byzantine procedures needed to make content with a studio or (here in Canada) a government agency, all a web series requires is a hosting service and the ability to click “upload.”

Radio Free Skaro #112 – Anticipointment

And so it’s come to this. At long last the RFS crew reaches “Journey’s End,” the final episode of Series Four, and a story that nicely sums up Who scribe Gareth Roberts term of “anticipointment.” So much potential, frittered away in a fruitless wasting of the Rose story arc and Benny Hill-esque dispatchment of the Daleks. Still, Julian Bleach’s Davros and the sad fate of Donna Noble rescued the episode from the Trash-Bin of Utter Contempt (next door neighbour to the Gun of Spite) and gave our three heroes much gristle to chew over, spit out, and look at askance.

Dark Knight is the best film of the year

I walked into Dark Knight expecting a decent Batman film, but I walked out amazed. All through the film I was asking myself “is a superhero movie this good? Really?” Let’s start with the best thing about the movie, the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Ledger’s villain is all menace, venom and insanity, and he owns the role in a way that makes you look at Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker and wince. That’s not to say Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman don’t all step up to the plate, because there isn’t a bad performance in this movie. And they’re all helped by an amazing script, that takes the usual superhero good vs. evil tropes and turn them on their head. It’s the writing, the acting and the staging that make this movie a masterpiece of the genre and easily the best film of the year. Highly recommended.