The Queen’s Reaction to THE KING’S SPEECH

queenelizabethiiApparently, Queen Elizabeth likes the portrayal of her father’s struggle with his stuttering and her mother’s attempts to help.  She’s seen a special screening of the film.

So what’s The Queen’s Review of ‘The King’s Speech’?
Two royal thumbs up.
Queen Elizabeth II of England, depicted as the young daughter of King George VI (played by Colin Firth) in the Oscar-nominated film ‘The King’s Speech,’ received a screening about her father’s struggle with public speaking and his eventual triumph in inspiring his nation in the face of a German invasion. According to producers The Weinsten Company, she was “moved” by the movie.
The film was only made following the death of her mother, The Queen Mum, who is played by Helena Bonham Carter in the film. She asked writer David Seidel to refrain from committing his screenplay to film until her passing, as it was too painful for her to watch.
So what’s The Queen’s Review of ‘The King’s Speech’?  Two royal thumbs up.
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Queen Elizabeth II of England, depicted as the young daughter of King George VI (played by Colin Firth) in the Oscar-nominated film ‘The King’s Speech,’ received a screening about her father’s struggle with public speaking and his eventual triumph in inspiring his nation in the face of a German invasion.
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According to producers The Weinsten Company, she was “moved” by the movie.
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The film was only made following the death of her mother, The Queen Mum, who is played by Helena Bonham Carter in the film. She asked writer David Seidel to refrain from committing his screenplay to film until her passing, as it was too painful for her to watch.
She also likes the Wii Entertainment System.  Here’s the report after Christmas.  Rock on QE II!
According to British paper The People, Queen Elizabeth II is the latest member of the Wii fanclub.
The report says that the system was a Christmas gift from Kate Middleton to her boyfriend Prince William, but after watching her grandson play, the monarch “begged to join in.”  “She played a simple ten-pin bowling game and by all accounts was a natural,” the paper states, presumably referring to (pack-in title) Wii Bowling.

BLACK SWAN writer Mark Heyman will pen AGE OF RAGE

heyman-450x377Mark Heyman, co-writer on BLACK SWAN, will write AGE OF RAGE with Marc Webb attached to direct. The film depicts a “post-apocalyptic society where all the adults have died and a group of teens sets about trying to establish a new society.”

Love those post-apocalyptic teen dramas.  Not.

See more info at Gordon and Whale.

#ThinkpieceThursday – A Hope-ful survey on the state of indie films

2004+Sundance+Awards+Ceremony+Fs5aFTdZ87vlTed Hope presents an exceptionally glowing outlook on the state of the independent film business.

Yes, the business of indie film is back.  The rapidity, volume, and consistency of deals blossoming ($30M and counting!) at Sundance should give investors more confidence that you no longer have to rely just on foreign; the US acquisition climate seems quite robust again.  Whew.  But the good news does not end there.

Indie Film has been infected by a new breed that — like those that came before them — refuses to ask for permission.  But unlike the earlier wave, their go-get-them attitude doesn’t stop at production, it extends into all the pillars of cinema — from discovery and participation on through production, distro, appreciation, and presentation.  The content, the form, the plans of cinema are not only for re-examination, but the rules have been thrown out.  Time to get out of the way, and let the fresh air disrupt the stale space.

Hope makes a strong case, pointing out that last year, 15 Oscar Nominees have come from Sundance.

As long as corporate filmmaking fails to offer realistic takes on women’s lives, Indie Film will always thrive as a welcome alternative.  Sundance must be acknowledged too as a tremendous generator of quality content; Sundance’s responsibility in delivering 15 Oscar nominees is nothing short of mind-blowing.  If the world was just, the Oscar would be renamed the Bob.

Modern Day Sherlock Holmes on the BBC

1. Have you seen BBC’s Sherlock Holmes? Thus far it’s a three-episode series set in contemporary London, and to podge a British term, it’s brill. Smart, fast-paced, relying more on intellect and issues about character than on the stars’ appearance, it won thumbs up from all four members of my family.
What they do well, IMHO:
a. Respectful blending of past with present: Watson is a recovering war vet, wounded from a tour as a physician in Afghanistan. He’s a blogger!  Despite modernization, though, the essence of the series feels true to the original books.
b. Technology is important in the sleuthing process, but not the focus. This is not a series about gadgets.
c. There’s a fascinating and believable relationship between Watson and Holmes in which each make the other bigger. Without Holmes, Watson would be limping in a half-existence,  devoid of the risk and stimulation which is his life’s blood. Watson, on the other hand, both grounds Holmes and validates him.
d. The writers have set up a central question about Sherlock, articulated by Lestrade in this quote: “He’s a great man. if we’re very lucky, one day he might be a good one.”
Will Sherlock cross from brilliance into psychopathy, perhaps out of sheer boredom? Will he learn to engage emotion and vulnerability along with his impressive intellect, particularly around the female sex? These are great questions to have a viewer asking within a few moments of beginning a series.

bbc-sherlock-holmesHere is a post from a wonderful blogger Jan O’Hara writing on Tartitude.  She was thinking about Sherlock Holmes and asked if I thought he was a Power of Reason Character.  My answer was:  Sherlock Holmes is indeed a Power of Reason character– Everything can be explained/deduced rationally and logically. “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.” Power of Reason characters care more that something makes sense or is practical and less that it is moral or kind. Moving from a cold clinical analysis toward a more human evaluation (which takes into consideration connection, caring and a real valuing of others) is their journey toward greatness.

Here is Jan’s review of the new BBC re-envisioning of Sherlock Holmes in a modern day setting.  Looks interesting.

1. Have you seen BBC’s Sherlock Holmes? Thus far it’s a three-episode series set in contemporary London, and to podge a British term, it’s brill. Smart, fast-paced, relying more on intellect and issues about character than on the stars’ appearance, it won thumbs up from all four members of my family.

What they do well, IMHO:

a. Respectful blending of past with present: Watson is a recovering war vet, wounded from a tour as a physician in Afghanistan. He’s a blogger!  Despite modernization, though, the essence of the series feels true to the original books.

b. Technology is important in the sleuthing process, but not the focus. This is not a series about gadgets.

c. There’s a fascinating and believable relationship between Watson and Holmes in which each make the other bigger. Without Holmes, Watson would be limping in a half-existence,  devoid of the risk and stimulation which is his life’s blood. Watson, on the other hand, both grounds Holmes and validates him.

d. The writers have set up a central question about Sherlock, articulated by Lestrade in this quote: “He’s a great man. if we’re very lucky, one day he might be a good one.”

Will Sherlock cross from brilliance into psychopathy, perhaps out of sheer boredom? Will he learn to engage emotion and vulnerability along with his impressive intellect, particularly around the female sex? These are great questions to have a viewer asking within a few moments of beginning a series.

Mark Zuckerberg on SNL

the_social_networkThis video is quite hilarious!  It is triple vision– three guys who look scarily alike.  Jesse Eisenberg (who played Zuckerberg on The Social Network) hosted. Andy Samberg joined Esenberg onstage to add his Zuckerberg impression.  Then the real Mark Zuckerberg, the FaceBook Mogul himself, rounded out the trio of “bergs.”

The lesson here is FaceBook and Zuckerberg’s deft handing of The Social Network movie.  Despite being a fictional and immensely unflattering protrait, Zuckerberg wisely refrained from going ballistic in the press– which wouldn’t have helped and would have only made him look worse.  Now he is at the point of being able to laugh at the whole thing and wins points for not taking himself too seriously.

In my opinion, that’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is a much bigger star than Steven Seagal.  Schwarzenegger doesn’t take himself too seriously and Seagal takes himself way too seriously.  To survive and thrive in the entertainment, lighten up and and don’t be afraid to share a laugh at your own expense.  The ability to do that shows a touch of humility and vulnerability– and that is always appealing.

#BeFabFriday – CineStory Competition

Self4Here is a guest post from a good friend and wonderful writer, Lisanne Sartor.  She is also on the Board of Directors of CineStory, an organization that runs one of the most worthwhile writing competitions in the industry.  Here is her post:

I’m a UCLA MFA Screenwriting alumna and screenwriter and I’ve been involved with the screenwriting non-profit organization CineStory for the past ten years.  I went to my first CineStory retreat after I was a semi-finalist in the CineStory Screenwriting Competition.  I’d entered the competition because its prize sounded amazing – an all expenses-paid, four day retreat during which all retreat attendees get three hour and a half meetings with industry professionals and the competition winner gets a year-long-mentorship with two industry professionals.  Though I didn’t win that year, I was invited to the retreat, an experience that was worth its weight in gold.  I got great notes and met industry professionals who I’m still in contact with today.  Most importantly, the notes I received helped me develop my screenplay into a viable project that eventually became a Lifetime movie of the week – my first produced credit!  I loved that retreat so much that I went to a second and eventually got involved in CineStory as a staffer.  I’m now the CineStory Board Vice President.  I encourage all writers, from novices who’ve just written their first scripts, to screenwriters who may have a produced credit or two under their belts, to enter the competition.  You won’t regret it.

#ThinkpieceThursday – Skins: No Consequences

mtv-skins-tony-480x270Lots of controversy has been brewing around the new teen drama “Skins” on MTV.  I think the problem here is a lack of good storytelling.  The three crucial elements of any good story is 1) want, 2) need and 3) price.  Dramas that don’t work most often don’t attach a price to the choices a character makes.  Unless there is a cost, the action doesn’t feel urgent or compelling.  The higher the cost, the more intense the story and the emotional journey.

What a character wants is a clear and simple ego-driven goal.   It is something he or she can physically have or obtain.  It is clear.  It is simple. It is concrete.  It is specific– The booze, the drugs, the girl, the party invitation.  The want is a finite object of a character’s personal desire.  It is something tangible that would gratify or benefit a character personally and immediately.

What a character needs is an inner ache or yearning that a character is unaware of, denies, suppresses or ignores.  It is a deeper, more abstract or intangible basic human longing.  It is not physical or concrete. It is an emotional satisfaction that enriches the character more deeply– to be accepted for who you are, to be intimate with someone in a meaningful way, to find joy or to connect with someone in a true and authentic manner.

To embrace the need, a character must abandon specific selfish or self-centered goals and address more fundamental and far-reaching human concerns. Every great story ever told since the beginning of time is about the war between the things of the world (the satisfaction of the ego by obtaining worldly trophies, prizes or thrills) and the things of the heart, the soul and the spirit (the deeper satisfaction of embracing our essential humanity).

420x316-alg_mtv_skinsWhat is the cost of obtaining the want or object of desire?  What is the cost of embracing the need and living up to one’s highest, truest, most authentic values?  Which price is a character willing to pay?  What is a character willing to sacrifice or surrender to obtain the want or embrace the need?  The tougher the choice is, the better the story.  If choices isn’t expensive– if there are no expensive consequences– a character’s actions seem episodic and gratuitous.

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David Carr writing in the Business and Media section of the New York Times put it this way:

Now that MTV is back on its heels, you will hear arguments that “Skins” merely describes the world that we already live in. There’s something to that. MTV didn’t invent “friends with benefits,” oral sex as the new kiss or stripper chic as a teenage fashion aspiration. And MTV didn’t employ the teenage star that posed semi-nude in Vanity Fair; the Disney Channel is the one in business with Miley Cyrus.

But when you hear talk about how innovative and daring “Skins” is — and you will —that argument is no more credible than the one made by the stoned teenager out after curfew. “Skins” is pretty much a frame-by-frame capture of a British hit. “Kids,” the film by director Larry Clark, plowed the same seamy ground back in 1995. (And films, at least, are more regulated: “Kids” initially received an NC-17 rating, which meant that some of the youngsters who were in the film could not legally see it.)

“Skins” is nothing new, only a corporate effort to clone a provocative drama that will make MTV less dependent on reality shows and add to the bottom line. True, MTV is not alone. Abercrombie & Fitch built a brand out of writhing, half-naked teenagers, as Calvin Klein once did.

But since its inception, MTV has pushed this boundary as hard as any major media company ever has and may have finally crossed a line that will be hard to scramble back across. The self-described “Guidos” and “Guidettes” of “Jersey Shore,” MTV’s breakout hit, have probably already set some kind of record for meaningless sex.

(More questionably, MTV exported the show to some countries with the tagline, “Get Juiced,” a clear reference to the obvious steroid use on the show.)

But while Snooki & Co. may act like children, they can legally drink alcohol and give consent to what might ensue: the age of 21 may seem like an arbitrary distinction but it’s an important one and, besides, it’s the law.

Even in the most scripted reality programming, the waterfall of poor personal choices is interrupted by comeuppance. People get painful hangovers, the heartbreaks are real if overly dramatic and the cast members have to live with their decisions.

Not so on “Skins,” where a girl who overdoses and is rushed to the hospital wakes up to laughter when the stolen S.U.V. taking her there slams to a halt. Teenagers show children how to roll blunts, bottles of vodka are traded on merry go-rounds, and youngsters shrug off being molested and threatened by a drug dealer. And when the driver of the stolen S.U.V. gets distracted and half a dozen adolescents go rolling into a river, the car is lost but everyone bobs to the surface with a smile at the wonder of it all.

Any adults on “Skins” are of the Charlie Brown variety, feckless beings who are mostly heard off-screen making bummer noises. MTV leaves it to real-life parents to explain that sometimes, when a car goes underwater, nobody survives and that a quick hookup with cute boy at the party may deliver a sexually transmitted disease along with a momentary thrill.

Read the full article here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/business/media/24carr.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=Skins%20+%20MTV&st=cse

The Weinstein Co. and Sony Pictures Classics Close Deals at Sundance

110125_detailsAccording to IndieWIRE, The Weinstein Co. has paid $8 million for worldwide rights to Jacob Aaron Este’s The Details, starring Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics closed on The Guard and Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and Take Shelter.

Harvey Weinstein was in a good mood Tuesday after earning 13 nominations for The King’s Speech and Blue Valentine. He worked with Maguire in the past on The Cider House Rules and Banks on Zack and Miri Make a Porno. TWC’s first Sundance buy (in league with financeer Ron Burkle) also stars Banks, My Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd; TWC paid more than $6 million for U.S. and some foreign rights. The Details was produced by Mark Gordon, Hagai Shaham and Bryan Zuriff with Mickey Liddell and Jennifer Hilton as executive producers.

tramp

Beyond Lemonade – Designing a Logo

Beyond Lemonade is more than an online drama series and story sharing website.  It is also a lifestyle brand.  It is affirming and aspirational.  We empower and inspire women to live life a bit bigger, bolder and more audaciously.  We appeal to women who want to transcend the limitations, exceed the traditional expectations and overcome the stereotypical assumptions made about  women over 40.  The brand is about taking game-changing actions– stories of starting over with a twist
The Logo should:
Be bold and confident
Be clean, clear and crisp
Be contemporary
Be fun
Be a memorable graphic symbol (rather than simply a rendering of title or the initials)
Be as distinctive in black and white as in color
Be visually striking enough to brand all media iterations: Beyond Lemonade Press (online newspaper), Beyond Lemonade Publications (books) or Beyond Lemonade Productions (other media)
The Logo should NOT:
Be rendered in pastels
Be literal (obvious lemons)
Be text (a mere visual representation of the title or the initials)
Be girly or cute
Be retro
Be funky
Be tekkie
Be associated with drink
My favorite examples of genius non-literal non-text graphic design:
CBS eye
NIKE swoosh
MERCEDES-BENZ three point star
All of the above are powerful graphic symbols recognizable and relatable without the accompanying text

The next step in developing Beyond Lemonade, my online series, is creating a logo and visual style for the series and web site.

Here is a quick article on the subject from Entrepreneur Magazine

Your logo is a visual representation of everything your company stands for… Ideally, your company logo enhances potential customers and partners’ crucial first impression of your business. A good logo can build loyalty between your business and your customers, establish a brand identity, and provide the professional look of an established enterprise.

Consider Allstate’s “good hands” logo. It immediately generates a warm feeling for the company, symbolizing care and trust. With a little thought and creativity, your logo can quickly and graphically express many positive attributes of your business, too.

Logo Types

There are basically three kinds of logos. Font-based logos consist primarily of a type treatment. The logos of IBM, Microsoft and Sony, for instance, use type treatments with a twist that makes them distinctive. Then there are logos that literally illustrate what a company does, such as when a house-painting company uses an illustration of a brush in its logo. And finally, there are abstract graphic symbols-such as Nike’s swoosh-that become linked to a company’s brand.

I’ll be looking at logo options created by advertising and branding agencies who work with FremantleMedia.  In discussing the process with the executives in charge I needed to outline what my priorities were in the processes.  Here are my thoughts:

1.  Beyond Lemonade is more than an online drama series and story sharing website.  It is also a lifestyle brand.  It is affirming and aspirational.  We empower and inspire women to live life a bit bigger, bolder and more audaciously.  We appeal to women who want to transcend the limitations, exceed the traditional expectations and overcome the stereotypical assumptions made about  women over 40.  The brand is about taking game-changing actions– stories of starting over with a twist.

2.  The Logo should:

Be bold and confident

Be clean, clear and crisp

Be contemporary

Be fun

Be a memorable graphic symbol (rather than simply a rendering of title or the initials)

Be as distinctive in black and white as in color

Be visually striking enough to brand all possible further media iterations: Beyond Lemonade Press (online newspaper), Beyond Lemonade Publications (books) or Beyond Lemonade Productions (other media)

2.  The Logo should NOT:

Be rendered in pastels

Be literal (obvious lemons)

Be solely text (a mere visual representation of the title or the initials)

Be girly or cute

Be retro

Be funky

Be tekkie

My favorite examples of genius non-literal non-text graphic design:

CBS eye (symbolizing an all seeing eye on the news around the world)

NIKE swoosh (symbolizing movement)

MERCEDES-BENZ three point star (symbolizing the land, sea and air vehicles the company makes)

All of the above are powerful graphic symbols recognizable and relatable with or without the accompanying text.  I guess my ultimate test would be:  Could you wear it as a piece of jewelry?  And would you want to?

The process continues… Stay tuned.