Monday, December 04, 2006

No SciFi Channel for you!

So we've been rejected by those who gave us Alien Apocalypse. And even Savage Planet. Dag. That's cold. We can't even get with the space bears!

No, seriously -- we heard back from Ray Cannella (who's a really nice guy) and we will not be getting a sale to the American SciFi Channel. But this really was no surprise to us. We know that they had exactly one spot to fill and we're up against producers like Nu Image and so forth.

The real purpose of this post is that Ray's a pretty straight-up guy and gave good detailed notes as to why they "passed" on us. We found them very interesting.

First off, he thought we bit off too big a chunk doing an "off-world" picture on a limited budget (meaning sub-$1 million budget). That's probably true. Heck, that's definitely true. We're like that hungry hampster. It doesn't matter that we shot a multi-planet epic, we just HAVE to get the whole thing in our mouth! It doesn't matter HOW many metaphors we have to mix!

hamster time!

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He also felt that: "The performances were also uneven. You have a great number of speaking parts here with some performers trying to give an "otherworldly" feel to their characterizations."

Actually, I think that our performers were uniformly very good. Perhaps the real issue (if there is one, and he wasn't being unduly influenced by some lesser special effects we had in the screener he saw) is a directorial one. We tended to play everything really straight. The story is a kind of "Alice in Wonderland" where the character of Aurora (played by the perfect Clare Stevenson) runs into all kinds of various and crazy characters. And I think that perhaps we could have made some characters more "big", instead we tended to go "inside" more. Maybe that's what Ray is saying?

Ray went on, referring to Sci-Fi's Original Movies. "This is yet another reason why we don't attempt these kinds of stories. Budget limitations won't allow us to get the level of acting required to pull off bizarre, unusual or eccentric performances while incorporating the complicated futuristic "techno-speak" required."

Well, the one thing I know from 20 years of New York theater experience is that budget has absolutely nothing to do with acting talent. In fact, most Hollywood film actors can't actually act their way out of a paper bag. The quality of your actors is not a budget thing at all. Especially in New York. (Now, I understand that in LA it actually is hard to find decent actors.)

Ray also didn't like that we'd shot in HD instead of 35mm. (Yes, I know, we shot on a DVX100a -- for those of you who know what that means, well -- you know what that means.)
Here's his comment: "In the case of BLOODMASK there's little to no depth of field with the photography...thus the production looks more like a video game than a dramatic scripted movie."

Now this is what has me concerned. First, some graphics for you. Throughout the movie we have frames emulating Titian's Venus of Urbino. It's partly a joke, because I like the painting, partly just because the depth is nice and pleasing to the eye.

Titian: a man who loved infinite depth-of-field.

My deliberate aesthetic goal is to make movies which look like paintings. Paintings tend to have an infinite depth-of-field (as do many shots in Citizen Kane for that matter). But a lot of modern cinematographers want as shallow a depth-of-field as possible. Ironically, they think things look "flat" when the entire image is in focus, and that it has a lot of "depth" when only a shallow plane of the image is in focus.
How do I put this nicely? Shallow depth-of-field just looks so mediocre to me. I have this argument with Mitchell all the time (well, not really an argument, we tend to go shallow on his films, deep on mine -- I mean "deep" on his, "flat" on mine.)

What's disturbing to me about this shallow depth-of-field aesthetic is how pervasive it is. The prejudice 'gainst a deep depth-of-field has flowed up from modern cinematographers to producers and buyers. And yet still most people will admit that Citizen Kane is one of the best films ever made. And certainly Titian's Venus is in the canon. But will my desire to make dramatic features which look like paintings hurt me commercially?

Oh and O! BLOOD OF THE NAKED MUTILATORS 2: FULL FRONTAL BLOOD FRENZY. Laura was even at the AFM this year. Why didn't she tell me anything about any of this??!!!

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