Scaring Up Some News

October 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

By Mike Gillis

Since we’re following a bit of a Halloween theme this week, we didn’t want to let the festivities pass without a mention of our friend Jeff Palmer over at flicker pictures. Earlier this month, Jeff’s screenplay, “The Sleeping Deep” took top honors for best screenplay at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Orgeon. Jeff is keeping his script close to the vest for now, but you can check out some excerpts and see some photos at Jeff’s site. Congratulations and Yog-Sothoth! There’s a story here in Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Not in time for Halloween this year, but frightening nonetheless, is our friend Bill Bourdon’s decision to sell his soul to get his latest project off the ground. Bill is looking for other souls to sell as his film, “No Sympathy for the Devil” fires up early next year. You can read about Bill’s deal with the devil at the Boston Herald or at Bill’s site.

Freddie Catalfo, whose short film “The Norman Rockwell Code,” won some deserved praise a few years back, continues to move ahead with a feature-length version. A reading of the script is planned for this week.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen the link at the top of the page to the Halloween party this Friday, please check it out now. In addition to music and food, some of Roundtable Pictures’ films will be playing through the Witching Hour, including the award-winning short film, “The Listeners.” See you there.

The Palmstone, Part 4

August 4, 2007 § 1 Comment


Thanks for joining us for Part 4, the final act, of “The Palmstone” an original radio drama written and directed by Lars Trodson and performed by The Radio Players of the Seacoast.

The Palmstone Part 4 aired live here on August 3, 2007, but you can catch an encore now. Simply press the “play” button below and the show will begin. Be sure to check out all four parts of “The Palmstone.”

This exclusive production is available only at www.roundtablepictures.com.

http://www.divshare.com/flash/audio?myId=1426698-e84&
(This may take a few moments to load, depending on your connection. If you experience difficulty, press pause and allow more time for show to load.)

For Part 1, click here:

For Part 2, click here:

For Part 3, click here:

For more on The Palmstone, click here:

Credits:

Cast
Tim Robinson: Alexander Blok
Kristan Raymond Robinson: Cynthia Blok
Nicole Sugana Fuller: Tamara Blok
Don Kerr: Willie:
Tom Clark: Captain Chacksfield
Gregg Trzaskowski: Mr. Lucci
Ralph Morang: The Actor
Susan Morse: The Cop

Producer: Tom Daly
Music and sound effects: Chris Decato
Written and Directed by Lars Trodson
Recorded at Crooked Cove

Thanks to Greg Westley
Our appreciation to Rick Agran

Cavemen, Start Your Cameras!

July 19, 2007 § 1 Comment


By Mike Gillis

So here we are, eight months away from the release of “10,000 BC,” the latest pop epic from once and future blockbuster king, Roland Emmerich. Eight months isn’t a lot of time to prep audiences for a film (see our earlier post on “Cloverfield”) so Warner Brothers has already dispensed with a teaser trailer thick with angry cavemen, mastodons, pyramids and woolly mammoths to whet our appetites. I’m going to bet the filmmakers have concentrated on little thus far other than the effects included in the trailer. Well, that and filming thousands of extras in loincloths battering each other with rubber spears.

It’s simply too easy to question the movie’s value. It will be big. It will be dazzling to the eye. It will make hundreds of millions. It will be called historically accurate or reckless and sacrilege. (There is no dialogue in the trailer, so it’s unknown if Emmerich will follow the path of Mel Gibson and “Apocalypto” and choose to use the native tongue, which for “10,000 BC” is … grunting?)

The real question is, what’s up with our affinity for cavemen? Would “10,000 BC” be possible if not for Geico? I don’t think “Clan of the Cave Bear” had much to do with it.

Perhaps the answer is biological.

For years, we’ve been told to get know our primal selves, to look to our ancestors for answers. Whether it’s Robert Bly yapping about “primal masculinity” or Ken Russell looking backwards in the underrated “Altered States,” life’s mysteries — or at least nagging questions like how do I twist off a bottle cap with my teeth — are already encapsulated in our genetic past.

H.P. Lovecraft once wrote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” That simple truth serves us well to this day.

Of course, it may also do well by the filmmakers of “10,000 BC.” If it’s true that our basest and most fundamental urges and emotions are primal, then we should be scared silly seeing our ancestors on the big screen being stomped to a bloody pulp by a woolly mammoth. If that’s the case, and we are nothing more than cavemen in sneakers and jeans, then Emmerich may well hit the cinematic jackpot.

And then the cavemen will, finally, have bullied their way to the top of the Hollywood pile.

Cavemen, start your cameras.

See the teaser trailer for “10,000 BC” here:

http://us.i1.yimg.com/cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/player/media/swf/FLVVideoSolo.swf

The Best Movie You Will Never See

July 10, 2007 § 7 Comments

By Mike Gillis

What is “Cloverfield” and will it be a great film? No one cares. Slim chance it will be remembered beyond opening weekend. That won’t matter.

“Cloverfield” is the working title of a secret film project by “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams. Based on the paucity of information available, it’s a monster movie about a giant parasite. Or robot. Or ancient deity. Websites and blogs are popping up all over the web, components of a very savvy marketing campaign generating early interest in the yet-to-be-named picture, set for release in January 2008.

So why are we talking about it now?

“Cloverfield” is sure to become one of the most notable examples of how movies are marketed in the modern age. The film’s publicity arm is already tapping into a hyperactive and voracious network of bloggers and web socialites, feeding them intrigue in small but steady doses. A short teaser trailer surfaced in theaters during the opening weekend of “Transformers,” triggering a landslide of giddy interest and debate online, where the trailer now lives. A whole contingent of moviegoers hopes the monster is Godzilla.

Selling a movie these days, specifically those of the tent-pole variety, isn’t about the movie or even whether it’s any good. It’s about product. And product placement — not whether brand-name potato chips are devoured on screen, but to transform the movie itself into a consumable product. The majority of movies released today are crafted as nothing more than disposable entertainment. You watch, you’re entertained, you forget.

Now before you start flaming me as a “film snob,” understand I like being entertained as much as anyone at the movies. Whatever other purpose film may serve — social, philosophical, investigative — it is foremost a medium intended to entertain. That’s fine.

But what happens when people are herded to the theater for the next big picture — and it’s no good? Nothing. The movie lives on, on DVD, online and in infinite syndication. I mean, how many times have you seen “Tremors” on TV?

That picture has probably earned back its budget ten times over on television alone. (“Tremors” isn’t a bad little B-picture, actually.) What about the atrocious “Independence Day,” which ratcheted up the Hollywood hype machine months in advance? Who doesn’t want to see a movie in which the White House blows up? Or what about the years-long buildup to the god-awful “Star Wars, Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace,one of the worst but highest-grossing movies of all time? The end-of-the-world picture is always populat, but who really remembers “The Day After Tomorrow” just a few years after its successful run in theaters?

Spreading the good word before a movie is released is not a new strategy. Oh sure, there were reports of inexplicable catastrophes on the set of William Friedkin’sThe Exorcist,” which no doubt steered a few people to the theater. And what about the long-running press coverage of “Apocalypse Now’s” seemingly doomed production?

Everyone loves a train wreck. But those two pictures survived. They are watched, discussed and enjoyed today, They would have likely survived without incessant coverage.

And they made it without “viral marketing.” Viral marketing aims to perpetuate a product primarily via the internet and its social networks. Once the seed is planted, and if it catches on, word spreads on its own. It’s a perfect vehicle for movies. Click here for a look at how a viral marketing campaign works.

The Blair Witch Project” was one of the first films to latch onto viral marketing. Via mysterious websites and curious clues planted online — much like “Cloverfield” — the filmmakers sparked interest in a little movie, shot on video, that would have otherwise disappeared without a trace. Instead, that curiosity translated into big box office and made “The Blair Witch Project” one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time. Not bad for a film, despite my admiration for its limited resources, isn’t a very good movie.

Which brings us back to “Cloverfield.”

Is it a movie about Godzilla? One of the entities from the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft? Voltron?

Keep watching the web. The mystery is bound to be better than the movie.

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