Archive for August, 2014

A Cidade dos Livros.

August 24, 2014

De visita à Portland, Oregon, estivemos na Powell’s Books, ou como é chamada, a Powell’s City of Books – aquela que é considerada a maior livraria independente de livros novos e usados do mundo. Trata-se de um lugar impressionante, com milhões de volumes todos para venda num espaço lindo de mais de 6000 metros quadrados.

Powell's City of Books

Uma olhada no mapa poupa tempo.

A primeira coisa que chamou a nossa atenção foi o facto de – ao contrário do que acontece nas livrarias de Lisboa – o espaço ser frequentado por muita gente. E de todas as idades. Aliás, a primeira impressão não foi a estarmos numa livraria, mas sim numa loja que vende conhecimento. Ou talvez melhor ainda: experiências criativas.

A “cidade” está dividida em salas e pisos cuidadosamente organizados, onde o cliente encontra-se facilmente cercado daquilo que lhe interessa. Poesia, romances, ciências, banda desenhada, livros raros, tudo lá está representado. Autores contemporâneos chineses? Sim. Softcore erotic pulp dos anos 60? Sim.

Cthulhu Avenue :-)

Cthulhu Avenue 🙂

Mas o espaço possui três secções verdadeiramente imbatíveis que nos interessam particularmente: banda desenhada, horror e ficção científica. Basta ir até a Avenida Cthulhu (e corredores próximos) e fica-se prisioneiro de qualquer coisa imperdível. E como não podia deixar de ser, o staff é composto por gente que sabe o que está a vender. Basta olhar casualmente para qualquer prateleira e apanha-se logo um “staff’s pick” onde alguém explica o motivo pelo qual devemos arriscar uma obra ou outra. Na secção de banda desenhada, há uma parte inteiramente dedicada às obras banidas e censuradas, onde se explica onde a obra foi banida e o porquê. Fascinante!

A secção de livros de Cinema é outra jóia, com livros sobre todos os temas possíveis. Os preços? Bastante acessíveis se optarmos por versões usadas (que em quase nada diferem das versões novas). Incrível.

A secção de livros de cinema possui um corredor sem fim.

A secção de livros de cinema possui milhares de títulos.

A Powell’s é uma livraria inteiramente situada no século XXI, que percebeu que o seu negócio não é simplesmente “vender livros”. O seu negócio é vender-se a si própria como um lugar onde temos vontade de estar horas e horas a procura daquilo que queremos – até encontrarmos. 🙂 E mesmo que não estejamos a procura de algo, algo irá nos encontrar. 🙂 É impossível sair-se da loja de mãos vazias.

Temos muito a aprender em espaços como este.

Advertisements

O Evento que Mudou o Cinema de Terror Foi Há 45 Anos.

August 8, 2014

Foi há precisamente 45 anos que a linda Sharon Tate, esposa de Roman Polanski, foi brutalmente assassinada na companhia de amigos, a mando de um tal Charles Manson. O crime que mais tarde se chamaria “The Tate-LaBianca Murders” foi um dos momentos mais marcantes da segunda metade do século XX, pois não poderia haver uma forma PIOR de fechar os anos 60, a “Era de Aquário”, o “Paz e Amor”, o “Summer of Love” e todas aquelas coisas que nos vêm à cabeça quando pensamos naquela década.

A relevância dos crimes possui várias dimensões – todas com impacto claro no cinema de terror que se passou a fazer a seguir. Mas por que motivo estes eventos foram tão decisivos? Este post tentará explicar alguns.

10561814_704620536293020_8179728523963835443_n

É preciso perceber que os serial killers nunca foram uma coisa nova (e antes que os leitores mais conhecedores venham dizer que Charles Manson – ou os crimes em causa – têm pouco a ver com a classificação de “serial killer“, descansem e continuem a ler) e que já há muito faziam parte do universo dos filmes. THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968) de Richard Fleischer é um excelente exemplo: um filme que narra os assassinatos cometidos por Albert DeSalvo. PSYCHO de Alfred Hitchcock e PEEPING TOM de Michael Powell (ambos de 1960) são apenas os exemplos mais sonantes que mostram como o cinema já há muito se apaixonara pelos serial killers. Ora, qual é a mudança operada pelo assassinato de Sharon Tate?

Se olharmos bem para os filmes citados, temos de admitir que eles não estão 100% dentro do cinema de terror da mesma forma que NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) de George A. Romero, THE HAUNTING (1963) de Robert Wise ou ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) estão. O universo dos serial killers (mais ou menos sórdido do ponto de vista visual) no cinema sempre esteve mais próximo do género Policial mais ou menos violento, com mais ou menos drama, mais ou menos tenso – mas quase sempre Policial.

Ora, o assassinato de Sharon Tate traz algo de diferente. Não se tratavam de vítimas anónimas (donas de casa, adolescentes ou prostitutas que raramente inspiram curiosidade pública – quem é que sabe o nome de algum vítima do Albert DeSalvo ou do Ted Bundy?). Pelo contrário, aqui tratava-se da realeza de Hollywood: uma starlet absolutamente linda, em clara ascensão, hiper-publicitada e querida; casada com um realizador do momento. No meio, estava ainda uma herdeira milionária (Abigail Folger) e mais algumas pessoas do meio cinematográfico.

Mas mais do que isto, Manson não estava preocupado apenas com a quantidade de assassinatos, mas sim com a qualidade dos mesmos enquanto espetáculo. Ele sabia muito bem que na época em que estava, mais do que matar, era preciso chocar – e quem conhece o aftermath (o livro HELTER SKELTER (1974) editado pelo procurador Vincent Bugliosi continua a ser uma referência no assunto) facilmente admite que a “Família” Manson deu ao público meses e meses de choques consecutivos.

Charles Manson muda o conceito de “monstro-estrela” – algo que até a época, no cinema, pertencia apenas a criaturas de fora da realidade (Drácula, Godzilla, fantasmas, etc.). Manson traz para dentro deste conceito o homem comum, banal e quase invisível, mas capaz de coisas muito piores do que qualquer outro monstro da Universal.

A evolução do género terror nos anos 70 tomou o curso que tomou porque em grande parte Charles Manson mostrou ao Cinema tudo aquilo que este levaria anos a perceber: a) como a violência pode ser espetacular, b) como os assassinos podem se transformar em personagens ainda mais atraentes do que os heróis, c) o quão gostamos de ver beleza, juventude e inocência serem amoralmente destruídas e d) o quão negra é a escuridão num país de luzes tão intensas. Manson mostrou ao cinema o quanto gostamos de estimular a nossa curiosidade pelo mórbido. O mundo pode ter criado os serial killers, mas Charles Manson criou os slashers.

leatherface family

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) de Tobe Hooper, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) de Ruggero Deodato e FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) de Sean S. Cunningham jamais teriam sido possíveis sem Charles Manson. Leatherface (que também possuía a sua “família”), Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees e Freddy Krueger (só para citar os mais conhecidos) somente são espectaculares porque Charles Manson foi espectacular. E eles não morrem também porque ano após ano Charles Manson continua a regressar – já não como um assassino, mas como mito. Seria difícil tentar perceber quem tem mais fãs: se Manson ou Leatherface. Chega a ser muito interessante o facto de que, ao contrário dos assassinos da ficção, Manson não matou (pelas suas próprias mão, isto é) nenhuma das vítimas que o tornaram célebre – a mostrar como o cinema é eficaz a simplificar o complexo e a corrigir as eventuais subtilezas da realidade que não caibam em 90 minutos.

Este post não tem como objectivo engrandecer a figura de Charles Manson ou perdoar/justificar os seus actos. Muito pelo contrário, é mais do que óbvio que o conjunto de horrores e vidas destruídas por aquele grupo de pessoas será sempre algo a lamentar. Mas a História é composta em igual medida pelos bons e pelos maus; e no cinema de terror, a partir de 1970, Manson, seus seguidores, seus actos e vítimas tiveram um impacto claro. Elas mostraram ao cinema alguns dos nossos maiores medos enquanto sociedade: a aleatoriedade do Mal, da violência, a escuridão possível no interior de cada desconhecido e a forma como estas coisas nos atraem – coisas que 45 anos depois continuam profundamente contemporâneas.

Rolling stone bomber

Amazing Strange Shapes.

August 5, 2014

Strange Shapes é um blog magnífico dedicado aos filmes ALIEN (1979), PROMETHEUS (2012) de Ridley Scott, ALIENS (1986) de James Cameron e ALIEN3 (1992) de David Fincher. O blog possui um pouco de tudo: memorabilia, entrevistas, bastidores e imagens imperdíveis.

Valaquen é o criador do blog – um escocês que, como ele próprio conta, teve o seu primeiro contacto com o universo através de uma cópia em VHS do ALIENS. A paixão só cresceu desde emtão. Sorte nossa. 🙂

ALIEN BLINK

Deliverables 101: Making Great Publicity Photos for Your Film.

August 4, 2014

It happens so many times. We open a magazine or visit a website and find screenshots of the film we want to see. We may not pay a lot of attention to it. However, a lot of our decision to watch a film is directly linked to the existence of great promotional materials.

Among those material, the “publicity photos” are a a key elements on a film’s deliverables list (note: the deliverables are a set of things the producer must deliver to the sales agent or distributor with the film). Those who are experienced in the production department know that the production of those deliverables are as important as the film itself. Put in a different way, a good production work will generate a great film AND quality deliverables.

The publicity photos are a part of that list that should never be left for later. On the contrary, you should think about them with the same care as you plan your shoot – and have a strategy for it just in the same way. Without that kind of care, the promotion of the film will not be able to push your film with the efficacy it could have. So, thinking about this in advance will help you in the future in ways you could not imagine.

That’s what this post is about.

Let’s start by categorizing the publicity photos in 4 groups.

  1. Screenshots.
  2. Crew and behind the scenes.
  3. Director and talent.
  4. Characters.

1 – Screenshots are the most common type of publicity photos. Those are the ones we see in most magazines and websites. They show images from the film with the goal of giving the audience an idea of how great things the film has: the stars/characters they love, the great special effects, the great sets, the action scenes, etc. However, some people tend to think that those photos are a) images taken from the film or b) faithful representations of the shots in the film (just like the audience will see them in the film).

These ideas are misconceptions when it comes to most of the films.

The usage of screenshots in websites, magazines, TV, posters and other promotional instances and outlets demands VERSATILITY to those photos. In the old days of film, a 35mm frame rarely had the quality that could be used for a poster or quality printing (in magazines, for example). Back then, taking a frame from the film was rarely a good option and the screenshots we see from the classics were done by dedicated publicity crews working in the studio. Here’s one of them:

psycho lobby card 1

People may think that if a certain frame is good enough to be projected on a screen, then it will be good enough for a magazine. However, on the screen, we have movement and sound – all helping us get immersed in the narrative. That’s not what happens when we look at a magazine page. Here the limitations of the medium get visible. And worse than that, on a magazine or on a website, before we get to the screenshot of the film, we’ve already passed through other ads where the quality of their photos raises our expectancy. If you are not careful, the screenshots of your film will be the least interesting things people see.

That’s why Hollywood never takes publicity photos directly from films. Instead, dedicated photographers will produce those photos at the best resolution, the best quality, especially for publicity.

What we see on the film may not be ideal to be reproduced in the printed media. In this case, a dedicated photographer can help the producer get a number of images specifically for that end. DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988) gives us a great example. Even the differences in framing have a function: in the film, we are concentrating on the character and what she is saying. On the publicity photo there is no “what she is saying”, there’s no sound. So the framing is trying to show production value: the star, the gorgeous porcelain tea set, wardrobe. In the film, showing the tea set would be a distraction from the action. On the photo, it makes all the sense. The light and the colors are not the same either.

Dangerous 2

It would be absurd to try to compare what is the better photo. Their goal is not the same. What matters here is to understand the function and the impact of each on the commercial life of the film – because they will never be seen at the same time or in the same conditions. One is for the screen. The other is for magazines.

Another myth says that the publicity photos should try to emulate or reproduce what the final shot will be or what the camera captures. While in theory this can make some sense, in reality, the image captured by the motion picture camera may not be the best way to represent the whole scene or the film. Keep in mind that in a film, each shot is conceived as part of a set that will make sense through the editing. They also take advantage of the fact that the audience has a considerable knowledge of the story and characters when a particular shot comes along. but take that shot out of the set and it stops making sense (from the publicity’s perspective). Those shots were not meant to be seen out of the edit by someone who has not yet started to watch the film and has not been through the previous scenes in the story – lacking precious information. That shot splashed on a magazine may be meaningless. From this point of view, the goal is to obtain photos that, by themselves and removed from any viewing experience, represents the entire scene or the whole film. FRANTIC (1988) gives us a great example: one of the best publicity photos of the film is a shot that is absent from the scene it represents.

frantic-harrison-ford-roman-polanski-1988 english

The photo taken communicates tension, danger much more effectively. And for those who haven’t yet seen the film, they show the best production value of them all: the stars (now facing the camera). The photo also show more effectively the object everybody is looking for (almost lost in the shot from the movie). On a magazine, the original shot would make no sense: two people whose faces we cannot see stretching towards an object we can barely figure out what it is. The publicity photo does a much better job communicating the scene, its goal and the film’s stars.

And that photo is so good that is was used everywhere to represent the film. Just take a look at the two home video versions of the film. From all the photos available, they selected this one.

frantic-harrison-ford-roman-polanski-19882 english

It is fundamental to understand that, more than show the film, the publicity photos sell the film. And for that to happen, they have to (when necessary) abandon the director’s camera setup and try to truly represent the best things the film has.

Another example shows two images with different functions.

Frantic Blue english

In the previous scene, Dr. Richard Walker finds a box of matches from a club called “Blue Parrot”. On the next scene, (left photo) the emphasis is on the connection between the finding of the matches and his arrival at the club (with the neon sign standing on a similar level of importance as the star). Harrison Ford’s presence is obvious. There is no need to draw all the attention to him. By the time the audience gets here, the star is taken for granted. But more, this is just a quick transition scene that situates the next scene: the interior of the club. The publicity photo, however, tells a different story. No box of matches, no transition, no next scene. Just the main character under neon lights. How is it possible that a scene of no importance becomes one of the key photos of the film (take another look at the DVD back cover)? It’s very simple: there is no necessary connection between the importance of a scene and a great photo taken from it.

Imagine that the camera shows a two people kissing 500 feet away from the camera against a gorgeous scenery of mountains and sky. In the movie, we know who they are. We can afford to see them kiss from afar. It would make no sense to keep the publicity photo so far from the kiss. On a magazine, they would be size of an ant (and probably we would see no kiss). But for those who haven’t seen the film, a much closer photo where we can actually see the characters kissing would be much more important than the sky and the mountains. Unless there is something drastically dramatic about the sky and mountains like a tornado coming to get them.

2 – Crew and behind the scenes will be more or less interesting (and valuable for publicity) depending on the type of film you are making. However, the importance of those photos as deliverables should never be underestimated. In a film where the special effects are an essential part (no matter how simple or complex), capturing images of how it was made fuels the interest of that part of the audience who gets fascinated by the film making process and the more specialized press that caters that audience. But more than that, those photos show the technical, creative and financial investment made in the film – giving the producer some leverage to try to bring up the the price of the film when comes the time to sell it. If the film is a co-production, these photos will document the different nationalities coming together to make the film. They are also a good public relations tool that shows the creation of value, making a bridge between filmmakers (those who make the movies) and financiers (who are seldom in the terrain and, sometimes, know very little about how their money is spent).

Great behind-the-scenes photos like the ones below are loved by the press, since they bring the production values to the front, sparkling the curiosity of the audience.

Alien behind

They do not need to be spectacular, but they should try to communicate the uniqueness of the film.

shining steady

Sometimes they put the audience on a privileged a point of view that instantly generates curiosity.

shining behind

Stanley Kubrick was also noted for having the perfect notion that quality and quantity of behind the scenes help keep a film on people’s minds. And decades after the release of his films, we still see photos that extend our look into his work. Very few films can be that lucky.

shining behind 2

 

Are you enjoying this article? We will be publishing a lot more stuff that is relevant to filmmakers through our Kickstarter campaign. Check us in April for some stunning rewards.

BOOK IMAGE mkt ad

 

3 – Director and talent are ALWAYS important because they bring forward the excellence of the creative work and the film’s biggest production values (its stars). The director must be photographed in different contexts. The most usual one is during the shoot (below) as he works.

Cronenberg_-director-horror-sci-fi-Total-Recall-first-hire

Or interacting with the cast:

cronenberg dangerous-method-cronenberg

Or completely immersed in his own universe:

cronenberg-in-crash-(1996)-large-picture

Or simply alone for any use the market demands – like festival catalogs and the press.

Cronenberg

David Cronenberg is a director who’s very aware of the importance of being photographed in the most different contexts – something that he does since the beginning of his career.

cronenberg young

4 – Character photos are extremely valuable regardless of if they are or not part of the film (just like the screenshots). The photo below supplied by the producers of ORLANDO (1992) is not part of the film. However it is gorgeous and it offers us something about the character that goes beyond the film:

orlando-1992-02-g

The photo is so good that it was used for the film’s re-release.

orlandotswcine-600a

It was also used on the tie-in – in this case Virginia Woolf’s book.

orlando book

In some cases, the characters are taken from the scenes and photographed together. In the example below – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVON (2011) – the characters Eva (Tilda Swinton) is photographed alongside her son Kevin through all of his ages during the film – something that cannot happen in the film. This is a great way to call attention to the evolution of the character:

we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-theredlist

Going back to FRANTIC , we have an example o characters who look directly at the audience.

Frantic zadh

The photo below works very well and comes from a scene that was cut from the film.

Frantic wrgt

The goal of this post is to call your attention to the importance of thinking the promotional life of your film from a strategic point of view with the care and love it needs. A lack of attention to this element of your film’s production will cost you dearly later on since you won’t be able to take advantage of everything that promotion can do for you – specially when you have little money and need the best results.

 

Have you heard about INNER GHOSTS? The coolest independent horror of 2017 is coming to Kickstarter. We will be sharing amazing footage very soon. Check us in April.

IG 3


%d bloggers like this: