Archive for the ‘media’ Category
We shot No Way Out in the late spring. It debuted on MTV in June (I think) when the album Nuclear Furniture was released.
In July, Irv got approved to direct another video with the Starship. In the interim, founder Paul Kantner had left the group and was suing them over the word ‘Jefferson’ in the band’s name. The song was Laying It On The Line which had a number of political references – political abuse of power, the fighting at that time in Nicaragua, Mid-Eastern oil problems, etc.
Coincidentally and very conveniently, the Democrats had just completed their 1984 Presidential Convention in San Francisco, where Walter Mondale & Geraldine Ferraro were nominated. A good friend of the drug dealer/wannabe-producer was able to secure all the convention hall decorations.
The story for the video was that Mickey Thomas & Grace Slick are running for office in 1988 (Mike & Slick in ’88) and are addressing convention – their acceptance speech , so to speak. Irv storyboarded the basic shots and we started to plan it out.
We secured a great location for the pseudo convention – an emergency water pumping station. After the 1906 Earthquake when most of San Francisco burned down, the city had build a number of emergency pumping stations that, if needed, would be able to draw in seawater and hydraulically pump it into the system. It was essentially a big empty hall, surrounded by humongous pipes. It was never used unless there was an emergency, it was out of the way and almost soundproof – perfect.
For the convention’s attendees, Irv decided to use the wannabee-producer’s extensive contacts and rounded up as many local celebrities and politicians as we could. They included (in no particular order):
- Bill Graham, the great impresario and promoter
- Hon. Willie Brown (them Speaker of the California State Assembly, later to be Mayor of San Francisco)
- Comedian Pat Paulsen
- Members of Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Avant-garde music and visual arts group The Residents (known for anonymity – always dressed as big eyeballs)
- Grace & Paul’s daughter China Kantner
- Local rock writer & personality Sheila Renee
- The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
- Artist Gage Taylor
- Plus hundreds of colorfully clothed extras and dozens of babies
The 3 day shoot was about as fun as these things can be. It was a lot of work – especially wrangling the babies/kids – but the story worked, the energy of the crowd and celebrities was fantastic. It was inspired, but controlled chaos.
I also got to be a Secret Service Agent, guarding the stage.
There were a few scenes shot outdoors, but the majority was done at the pumping station.
For the final shot, we used a close-up with a phone number – perhaps the first attempt to do direct marketing in a music video.
I was probably more help during editing than I was during shooting, as I had much more experience there. Many of my suggestions made it into the final cut.
Though once again I was paid nothing, watching and learning as Irv and all the other crew worked was worth the effort.
I already had great work habits, but my experience here confirmed that showing up first and leaving last is the best way to stay organized and on top of things.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - he could hear things most of us can’t.
Sometimes doing a search for people from your past brings you back together – other times it can deliver sad news.
I had not been in touch with Director and Cinematographer extraordinaire Irv Goodnoff in over 20 years. When I searched for him last week, I found he passed away in 2009. That brought back the memories of the work & time I spent with him. Irv had numerous credits, more than his IMDB listing indicates. Variety’s obituary said he’d worked on over 50 films & TV shows. It was interesting to learn had been teaching cinematography for the past few years, as that was his great love.
Though I had been writing, creating, shooting & directing videos for over 15 years, I had never worked in film or with a DGA Director. In the spring of 1984, a drug dealer/wannabe-producer I knew met Irv and I was asked if I’d be an Assistant Production Manager for a music videos for the Jefferson Starship. I was actually a glorified Production Assistant, since I was not paid.
Irv had just won MTV awards for his cinematography of Weird Al Yankovic’s Eat It video and Huey Lewis and the News’ Heart of Rock ‘n Roll, and he had recently started directing music videos.
He was repped by Fran Kapsalis, who later became my business partner. A few years later, we would open the first company distributing productivity software for the entertainment industry (scriptwriting, storyboarding, scheduling, budgeting, etc.) – but that’s a story for another time.
Working with Irv was a great learning experience and began to prepare me for working with other Hollywood professionals. Irv’s background was in commercials and his manic, shoot it fast, improvisational work style first appeared to me to be absolutely crazy. But I learned it worked for him only because of all the preparation he did prior to a shoot.
Irv was both D.P. and Director for these shoots. This worked well for him. When he’d grab the camera off the tripod to shoot hand-held he knew exactly what he was doing. Again, his preparation allowed him to get inspired on the set and to go for it – without hesitation or questioning his creative-side. Sometimes the results were not usable, but the lesson for me was it was always worth a try. Happy accidents can make great art.
We were in San Francisco and it was 1984, so there was an abundance of Peruvian marching powder on the sets (even though by then Grace Sick was straight and sober). It may have taken a toll on some of the band and crew, but it did not hurt the budget as it was supplied mostly by the wannabe-producer. It did make for long hours, though.
It didn’t matter. I was psyched. I was working on a ‘real’ set with a real director and with some my long-time, much admired rock heroes.
No Way Out
The first shoot was for No Way Out, a story of betrayal and comeuppance… maybe. It was a 3 day shoot with some pickups done later in LA.
MTV was in its prime and every band tried to out-do the other bands in the outrageousness of their productions. This video was no exception. The wannabe-Producer had many connections to Bay Area celebrities and he was able to get Father Guido Sarducci (Tom Novello) as a special guest. Tom started his career locally and was then a semi-regular on Saturday Night Live.
We used graphics and titles from an Apple ][, which no one had done before. They look so archaic & rudimentary compared to what’s possible today.
We constructed some surreal sets. One was a confessional booth opening into a bedroom.
No Way Out was voted one of top 5 weirdest videos ever shown on MTV.
Watch it and you’ll understand why it deserves that honor.
British graffiti artist & provocateur Banksy is awesome and intriguing. I have followed his adventures as best I could over the years.
I still am not sure if his movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is a total put on or not. We may never know if the main character “Mr. Brainwash” created the art work attributed to him or if it was Bansky that totally designed them.
Regardless, it is highly entertaining and challenges conventional concepts of legitimate art and the creative process.
Bansky re-created this creepy/weird animatronic art of hot dogs and salamis as part of an exhibit at a theater in a graffiti tunnel where “Exit…” previewed in the London. Definitely in a league of his own… Brilliant.
Earlier this week, I attended the San Francisco portion of the Mashable Summer Tour. If you don’t know, Mashable is the best social networking news blog.
The event was a lot of fun, lots of interesting people. It reminded me of the late ’90′s dot com bashes that used to occur almost every night somewhere in San Francisco or the Valley. The difference was Mashable charged for the event ($30) and the open bar was only ‘open’ for beer and wine. The free snacks were fine. All in all, this is a much saner business/event model.
For some reason, my photos did not come out great. I took the top one, the other two are (cc) Kenneth Yeung.
The skills of studio accountants are a legendary, never-ending story of deceit and flim-flam. Now that the studios are essentially doing all their TV production in-house, it’s getting worse. But sometimes the good-guys/creatives get what’s theirs.
Celador, the creator of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ won an award of $269M (they will fight on appeal, of course).
Don Johnson is set to receive $23M from ‘Nash Bridges.’
Jack Klugman is still fighting NBC over money from the 1976 series ‘Quincy.’
And it goes on….
Here’s the net profits top sheet from the accounting for ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ (via Deadline Hollywood). read it and weep…
Everyone complains how the Internet is preventing artists & creatives from making money from their IP and efforts, but studio accountants do them worse.
While many are bashing Prince for his comments about the Internet ‘being completely over,’ Karen Swisher of BoomTown has it right – “From music to movies to television, the biggest minds here still sound perplexed as to what will finally be the golden ticket to carry them through to the inevitable next era of digital distribution.” (full post here).
That doesn’t mean it’s over, but the ‘Net has not yet evolved into something talent can be comfortable creating for.
Many create and post their works for free in the hope that it will lead to a paying gig, selling merch, a deal… something that generates revenue. But tales of success are still few and far between. Hope is not a strategy.
And it may still be while before it all gets figured out. As Karen concludes, “Or, as Prince might sing–He was dreamin’ of being paid when he said the Internet was over, so sue him if he went 2 fast.”
Yet, there is always the possibility for a successful model. Gawker Media is now paying their writers more when there is an increase in unique viewers. Results oriented rewards….what a concept!
There is still this tried and true model (from Gaping Void):
According to a document posted on Business Insider, Windows 8 is going to support a variety of 3D devices:
No discussion of possible release dates.
Read the complete post at:
It was inevitable. The first 3D film school is now open for business.
Last week, I was at Kerner Optical for a TEDx Marin event where a live, 3D feed was projected to the overflow room. Like the breakfast event they held last month, this was done to showcase their 3D camera rig. Once again, my friends at Invision demo’d their QTAKE 3D video assist system, too.
Also last week, I heard separately from two old associates who are both getting into the 2D to 3D conversion business. Similar to the rush to colorize old Hollywood content a few decades ago, they understand that 3D TVs can’t be sold without 3D content.
I expect to hear about a 3D web series any day now.
It will take a while until the technology and the expertise to create 3D content will become dominant, but it won’t take too long.
Ubiquitous television is very, very close.
You can twist up this puppy and put it in your pocket.
The NY Times tells the whole story.
Earlier this year, Google announced a service for allowing anyone to upload their own commercial and place it on cable TV – for reasonable prices.
Slate.com recently gave it a try:
When this catches on it will change the way cable ads are bought and placed forever.
It proves that it can be possible to run a nation-wide TV campaign from your computer, with no Ad Agency involvement.
I’ve used Google AdWords for text ads and have gotten great results
I may have a project that is perfect for this later this year. I can’t wait to try it.
For many years one of the worst kept secrets in the film industry was where the army of talented artists of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic did their work. In an industrial section of San Rafael, California, a sign outside a group of non-descript warehouses read The Kerner Optical Company while inside some of the best people from the world of physical and digital special effects were hard at work on not only his films, but hundreds of other films and commercials.
After Lucas moved the offices to new digs in San Francisco at the Presidio, he sold off the studios and model shop to the existing management team who kept the name Kerner. They are now led by CEO entrepreneur Eric Edmeades.
I had visited ILM a few times, most notably when I was working with a team of independent special effects artists on the film Spawn and we were invited in for a special screening, but I had not been there in years.
A few days ago, Kerner held an industry open house to show off a special new dual-camera 3D video rig they had build for a client. I was there to help my friends Andy Neddemeyer and Elaine Trotter of InVision Productions demonstrate their new QTAKE HD video assist system, which is the first unit of its kind to have 3D stereoscopic capabilities. The folks at Kerner allowed us to hook it up to their rig, thus presenting a full production package.
They had 2D & 3D pancakes (waffles) to celebrate their rig. And the rig was impressive, as were the results. I can’t post a 3D picture of how it looked or how the images looked onscreen, but here are some other pics: