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Entries in Hollywood Movie (12)


Risen - The Movie

I had the chance to see this film in the theater and both my wife and I really enjoyed it! Be sure to check the reviews below, but I do recommend this film!!

Risen is the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman military tribune, and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

“RISEN is powerful and gripping! Masterfully done! To see the Easter story through the eyes of a Roman soldier left me in awe! Brilliant!”
Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times Best–Selling Author

"Risen is a breath of fresh air for moviegoers who have longed for a quality, biblical-themed movie that upholds the truth of Scripture rather than attacking it. Due to its unique approach, viewers get to experience the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ through the eyes of an unbeliever."

Read the full Answers in Genisis' review of the film.

"[T]he story here is one that may very well prompt many moviegoers to see the one called Yeshua through fresh eyes, just as Clavius does."

Read the full PluggedIn review.



Why So Many Movies Fail


(Article Source) By Larry W. Poland, Ph.D.

In more than thirty years working inside the entertainment business, I have had a steady stream of people contact me with a dream of making motion pictures. Some have a vision for producing one movie, some a slate of films, some building a studio, and some even a dream of a “second Hollywood” in Dallas, Atlanta, or (believe it or not) Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Only a small percentage (10%?) of these visionaries ever saw anything come from their efforts. Of those who did see a film get made, only a small percentage (30%?) ever got decent distribution. Most (85%?) lost money for their investors. A number even ended up in court or arbitration disputing over money. I have mediated two of those disputes.

I’m weary of watching such a high percentage of these independent filmmaking attempts implode and dash the dreams and efforts of often well-meaning and even faith-motivated people. Likewise, I am distressed by the many well-motivated investors who got burned by these efforts and, as a result, will never invest in a film again.

Thus, I decided to distill the mistaken notions and actions which contributed to the massive disappointment, financial failure, and collateral damage from these efforts. Below–in no particular priority order–are the common mistakes I have observed.


1. Envisioning a project with an absurdly unrealistic production budget.

There is something about the vision of making a movie that eats like a cancer at the practical thinking of the visionary behind the project. Commonly, the visionary postulates a movie production in the tens of millions of dollars, if not more than one hundred million. The sheer lunacy of thinking that investors, however effectively “sold” they are, are going to be part of a multi-million dollar risk venture overseen by an inexperienced film team seems to escape them.

Likewise, it escapes them that hundred-year-old, billion-dollar studios that do make these expensive films commonly lose money on them. The independent visionaries tend to believe they are not bound by the laws that bind other studios or filmmakers. “This film is different,” is the toxic notion.

When I have suggested budgets of five to ten million (or less) for starters, the visionaries often seem insulted. It escapes them that the lower the upfront production costs, the higher the probability of breaking even or making a profit at the end. If a film is any good at all and has decent distribution, revenue from the five markets for a movie should cover a cost under seven million dollars.

Equally destructive is projecting an unrealistically low budget. Recently, a film investor was told that a complicated period story could be made for $750,000. Even cutting all the corners and getting talent and locations for peanuts, this figure was inadequate to get a quality product on the screen. This investor was being led astray by this representation, and the project would have collapsed.

2. Focusing on the process or product of the vision without factoring in the basic economics of the project.

Commonly, film venture leaders are strong on the nature of the story or the big names they have attached to the film rather than on how they will raise the production money, how they will sustain cash flow until revenue eventually comes in, or even how they will get sufficient revenue in the end to avoid a total disaster for the project.

If the right brain/left brain distinction applies here, the creatives need a team of steely-eyed money managers at their elbows from beginning to end to ask the hard questions, demand that there be a sound business plan, and enforce the plan so the visionary creatives play “in bounds.” These safeguards are, commonly, not in place. Often, the creatives don’t want them – it spoils the dream.

A missing element here is that every creative decision has a financial impact on the outcome, and every financial decision has a creative impact. The two go hand in hand—and must—for a successful result.

Finally, it is absolutely essential to remember the investors. Often, those who took the risk to invest in the film, and thereby made it possible, are forgotten in the pursuit of the dream of making the movie. This is lethal. Lawsuits are the least formidable consequences of a meltdown in which investors are ignored, investments are not repaid, and money is siphoned off for everything but investor repayment. Burned investors have long memories—especially family and friends—so treat them well and generously, and they will stand in line to invest in your next film . . . and the next.

3. Being preoccupied with getting a film made without thought for its distribution and marketing.

There are a multitude of films sitting in cans around the globe that were never shown in a theater, or, for that matter, even found successful DVD distribution.

Any veteran in the film business will tell you to secure tentative, but strong, distribution agreements before you begin production. The beginning filmmaker is sure that his film will be so compelling that distributors will line up to sign a distribution contract. In general, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Then, there is the crucial marketing aspect of a production. This is so critical that the audience for the film must be defined and a plan to market successfully to that audience should both be determined before production is ever begun. The marketing plan will depend on the audience. Every different audience is reached by somewhat different marketing strategies.

4. Becoming obsessed with building facilities and infrastructure rather than building a successful, money-making model.

I’ve seen way too many grand visions for building “state of the art” studio facilities with the latest technology, massive sound stages, and such with little thought for how these increasingly-obsolete-by-the-week albatrosses will be paid for, maintained, sustained, or utilized. While it may seem exciting to show off one’s new studio facilities, the reality is that they typically represent massive overhead that no start-up studio or production company can sustain.

Furthermore, in many cities—especially Hollywood and New York—there are already many under-utilized studios, sound stages, edit bays, mixing studios, etc. They can be rented when needed without the massive burden of debt service, maintenance and replacement in a year or two when they are obsolete.

A friend of mine says, “If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.” If only producers with vision could get this fact of economic life mastered up-front., they would keep all overhead to a minimum and put every dollar only into what will increase the probability of getting a return on the end product.

Equally lethal is building a team of highly paid people on the front end of the project—and sucking dry millions of development funds in salaries—long before there is any money coming in to sustain the personnel costs. I would estimate that billions of dollars have been wasted and lost by independent production companies in bricks, mortar, and big salaries without a single movie getting made.

5. Focusing on image rather than on product.

Hollywood worships two deities, Mammon and Glitz. Way too often, when people get into filmmaking, they “go Hollywood” and lose all sense of who they really are. They begin to bow to money or image. This becomes a Failure Factor when they spend lavish amounts of money on pricey office space in ritzy locations, opulent offices, limousines, five-star hotels, splashy promotional advertising, and other accoutrements of the rich and famous.

The thinking is, I guess, that if you are going to be in the film business, you have to comport yourself like the icons of success whom you someday want to be. This is deadly thinking. You can hold meetings in nice hotels without dazzling folks with your own lavish, purchased-on- credit facilities with interest rates of 20 to 25 percent! There is an axiom about movie production companies: “The profitability of the company is in inverse relationship to the opulence of the front office.” Dazzle folks with the quality and power of your movies, not with the symbols of wealth you have rented.

Face it – you won’t be able to impress most of the big dogs in the film business anyway. They’ve seen it all.

6. Misunderstanding the varied roles played by film personnel and failing to coordinate their functions.

Production chaos commonly results because filmmakers do not understand the titles, job responsibilities, and lines of authority in a project and do not enforce them. For example, the role and function of the Executive Producer, the Producer, and the Director on a film must be understood. If this is not the case, conflict occurs, because people are trampling on each other’s organizational turf, making decisions outside the authority limits of their role, and allowing critical decisions to fall through the cracks. The management nightmare becomes even more chaotic with roles like Associate Producer, Associate Director, etc. Even if some of these titles are merely for the credit roll, titles, job descriptions, and lines of authority must be clear, mutually agreed upon, and policed to make sure the management of the production functions well.  Given the commonly huge egos and subjective artistic differences of film professionals, clearly defined roles, authority limits, and job responsibilities are absolutely necessary.

7. Forgetting that the single most important factor in a film is its story.

Filmland history is replete with anecdotes of gargantuan-budget movies that lost mucho millions because what ended up in the film can was a lousy story. It is said in various ways: “If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage,” or “If it’s not in the script, it’s not on the screen.”

Even though, as a consultant, I’ve never been in the business of making films, I’ve had countless scripts set before me to evaluate and innumerable stories pitched to me by enthusiastic writers and producers. I have a rule of thumb I use to predict a possibly successful story: it moves me to strong emotional responses. I had a comedy story sketched out for me by a successful comedy writer in the early eighties, and I laughed so hard, I cried. I laugh 25 years later thinking of it. I’ve been pitched stories of human heartbreak and cried hearing the summary. Good signs. Every great film has to move you emotionally in some manner. We pay money to go to theaters to see a story that thrills, frightens, angers, inspires, or makes us laugh or cry. We feel cheated leaving a theater with a “ho-hum” or “blah” response.

Crucial to the story’s success is determining the “take away” from the film. Film creators must determine what they want the viewer to take away from the two-hour experience. Is it to be a more loving parent, avoid behavior such as got the main character in trouble, be willing to die for freedom, sacrifice for the poor and downtrodden, get involved in a campaign for justice, or live life to the full, because life isn’t a dress rehearsal?

Big name actors, dazzling special effects, excellent production value, mind-boggling cinematography, and Oscar-winning musical scores all put together will still not compensate for a weak story.

8. Believing the pitches given you by people wanting to work on your film.

Most people in the film and TV business are out of work at any given time, and most have some level of desperation to get work. Mortgages, families, sustaining production company overhead, expensive lifestyles, etc. are all strong motivators to seek employment! Add to this the fact that a huge percentage of these professionals are willing to lie to get a job, and you have a trap that is easy to fall into and incredibly hard to escape.

Assume that nobody is telling you the truth, even if they talk “religious” speech. Assume that the resumes you are given are AT LEAST exaggerated, if not flat-out bogus. Assume that resume titles and references to their roles in the success of highly successful projects are wildly overblown. “Success,” it is said in Hollywood, “has many parents; failure is an orphan.”

Triple check EVERY CLAIM. Talk to people who have worked with the person and spend time checking out every line of a resume before you hire them. Do not rely on “good feelings” you get from them or their stories. Remember, entertainment industry folks are actors, story tellers, and masters of fiction!

9. Failing to identify and measure the audience for a film before making it.

I’ve had stories pitched to me that are set in the world of boat racing, motocross, fishing, and golf. None of the films made any money, if they got made. Unless the compelling nature of the story is so powerful that it overwhelms its setting, it will not succeed.

Even with a century of experience, sophisticated testing with focus groups, and scientific measurements, the big studios still lose money on most of their films. It is only the big hits that keep them afloat. Often, film failures result because producers miscalculated the audience for the film, overestimated the magnitude of the interest in the subject, produced a story that moved nobody in the theater, or told a good story poorly.

If testing via focus groups and other proven methods is not feasible, then doing a limited theater release focusing on the most likely cities to like the film is next best. One can always roll out a film with more prints in more cities if it takes off at the box office, or—as this is described—the film “has legs.”

Christian filmmakers commonly fail to test the receptivity of audiences to the faith factor in their films. Because they are so into their own faith, they assume that the general populace is as well. In an increasingly secular society, this is a deadly assumption. No matter what anyone tells you, the financial success of The Passion of the Christ was, for many reasons, an anomaly.


Even if you believe with all your heart that your vision came from God Himself, from some mystical experience, or a prophetic voice, don’t rationalize away the filmmaking experience and wisdom offered you. If you do, you will create one more in a long string of cinematic and financial disasters. Many will be hurt.
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(Article Source)


The 10 Commandments of Movie Viewing

(Article Source)
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(Editor’s note [and by "editor" I mean "me" (Josh Porter)]: Though the over-arching message of this rant is sincere, the curmudgeonliness and vitriol exist for comedic purposes only. In other words: I’m not actually angry. It’s supposed to be funny. Because this is the internet, I have to specify.)

10. Thou shalt leave thy phone at the door

As we will further illustrate along the way, a movie cannot be experienced if you are not watching it. If you are checking in on social media and drafting texts throughout the film, you are not watching the film.

Is your attention span so horrifically decrepit that dedicating an hour and a half to flashing images and loud noises is simply too much to bear? Is one screen simply not enough to satisfy your insatiable lust for media? Or has your life shriveled to such a depressing state of emptiness that the running time of a movie is unendurable without a peek at Instagram or Facebook?

Turn your phone off and put it down! Any life and death matter that can only come to you via your smartphone will be there when you turn it back on. It can wait a couple of hours. If you expect that your phone may absolutely demand your attention, what are you doing watching a movie?

A film is often a complicated and nuanced thing, even a lot of the bad ones. The fifteen seconds you spend staring down at twitter may provide a pivotal glimpse into the plot that drastically alters the trajectory of the entire story, but you just missed it because you needed to see a photo of your friend’s latté? You don’t care about this movie. Why are you watching it?

Not to mention the fact that your glowing screen and the twitching blur of your thumbs is distracting me. Now I can’t enjoy the movie. I’m no longer fully immersed because of your carelessness! Turn off your phone!

09. Thou shalt not commentate

I bypassed the commentary track from the director himself, why in the world do I need a running commentary from you? Virtually all the information in the world is available to me (after the movie) via this thing called the Internet. I don’t care how exciting it is for you to possess the inside knowledge, I don’t want director cameos pointed out by you, I don’t need to hear the urban myth about the light that fell on the grip, I don’t want to know about how it’s different from the book, I just want to watch the dang movie.

My suspension of disbelief is upheld by a magical—albeit fragile—thread when I come before the silver screen. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I probably indulge in pointless movie trivia more than a dozen of the average joes, but I don’t do it while the movie is playing.

Be quiet! There’s a movie on!

And for the love of God, don’t recite your favorite lines in tandem with the actors.

08. Thou shalt not critique

I don’t even care what professional critics have to say in major publications about movies, why should I hear from you? Every time you point out how fake a visual effect looks, every time you groan and grunt at what you perceive to be holes in the plot, every time you laugh at scenes intended to scare, you shatter the illusion the movie is meant to create!

I know it’s not real dangit. I’m trying to, in a sense, pretend like it is in order to immerse myself in the movie’s story. I want to be scared when the movie wants me to be scared and I want to be caught up in the plot when the movie aims to make it so. That’s what enjoying fiction is all about! I’m almost thirty years old, it’s hard enough to get my mode going good enough to believe the Avengers can communicate with one another when there are clearly no comm devices in their ears, I sure as heck can’t pretend when you sigh dramatically and point it out to me.

07. Thou shalt not forsake the viewing

Oh, you have to pee? Really? You didn’t realize this when we hit play? You can’t possibly last another half hour? Please, by all means, get up and walk past me at the most dramatic, crucial and/or terrifying moment in the film. And wait, what’s that? You don’t want us to pause it for you? Why the heck not? Because you don’t care about movies.

Use the bathroom, changeover your laundry, get a glass of water, etc. before or after the movie has ended but never during it. If you don’t watch the movie, you don’t watch the movie. I know you aren’t answering your phone, because you turned it off before the movie started, right?

06. Thou shalt not conversate

Shut up. Both of you. The movie requires silence to cast its wonderful illusory magic spell on us. Your audible conversation reminds me that it is not actually a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s actually here and now, next to two yahoos talking about where they’re going for dinner.

05. Thou shalt not divide thy focus

I thought mentioning the phone would be enough, but clearly it was not. If you are reading a book, poking around on your laptop, thumbing through a magazine or doing anything other than watching the movie, then you are—by definition—not watching the movie. And if you’re not watching the movie, what the heck are you doing here?

04. Thou shalt react respectfully

That scene was funny, so go ahead and laugh. And yes, this scene is terrifying, so a gasp is appropriate. You know what, I appreciate that you’re invested in the movie. Okay… That’s enough. Wait, what did that character just say? I couldn’t hear because the chump next to me is still laughing.

03. Remember the viewing atmosphere, to keep it holy

Ahhh the movie atmopshere. What a wonderful thing. The lights go down, all distractions are put away, the volume is turned up, and everyone sits still and stops talking while we venture into the fictional world that the movie creates.

If only it were always so.

When you get up, walk around, fidget, make a sandwich in the kitchen, switch on a lamp, etc. you destroy the magic. You destroy it. And maybe the magic isn’t important to you, buster, but it sure as heck is important to me.

02. If the movie has not been properly viewed, thou waiveth thy right to any opinion on said movie

So you didn’t like the movie? Is that what you’re saying? I’m curious about this assessment, because, if I recall, while the movie was playing you were looking at your phone, conversing with your friends and getting up to pee. Why, you didn’t really see the movie at all. As such, you are allowed no opinion about the movie whatsoever.

After all, the film’s important twist was revealed while you were staring down at Instagram. You missed the funniest line because you were talking over it, and you didn’t see that one guy die because you were in the bathroom. You didn’t see the movie.

Oh, you saw most of it, you say? You got the gist, you say? Hilarious. I’d like to see you skim a handful of chapters from Crime and Punishment and then pass a test on it.

01. All thoughts on the movie from someone who has seen the movie are spoilers. THOU SHALT NEVER EVER SPEAK SPOILERS.

“The ending blew my mind!”

“It was actually really sad.”

“I didn’t like the way it ended.”

I am perpetually flabbergasted by not only the lack of sensitivity so many folks have toward what we call “spoilers”—informative tidbits that spoil the plot and/or experience of a film—but also the understanding of what constitutes a spoiler in the first place. There are two types: direct and indirect. A direct spoiler is obvious, “The protagonist dies at the end.” An indirect spoiler however, is much broader, “It was actually really sad.” If you tell me the movie is “actually really sad” then I enter into the experience anticipating something tragic, the movie can’t possibly surprise me with it. As a result, the emotional reaction the movie intends to evoke is forever lost.

“Oh come on!” they groan. “I didn’t say anything!” they whine.

“You’ll never see the ending coming!” Actually, now I will. I’ll sit through the entire movie fully prepared for some twist, fighting the urge to unravel it in my mind as it approaches, and the surprise falls flat. A twist ending depends on the impact, not just the ramifications of the impact. If I’m told that the ending is a surprise, even if the contents of said surprise are not thoroughly unpacked, the surprise ceases to be a surprise at all. It becomes an inevitability.

Imagine, if you will, that I’m attending a wedding ceremony. The mood is thick. The lighting, decor, ambience are all perfectly in place. Just as the vows are about to be exchanged, I stand up and begin to shout gibberish at the top of my lungs for about fifteen seconds. After the initial shock begins to fade, the ceremony continues. That specific moment in time and what it means for everyone involved will be forever marked by the idiot who stood up and shouted for no good reason. They could hold another ceremony if they so desired, but it’s really too late, that important occasion can never be recreated. Now, imagine that when the offended parties approach me in regards to my strange behavior I simply say, “So what? You still got married. After all, it’s just a party, it’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

Not every movie is magical, but even bad movies require a certain level of investment to even allow for the possibility of magic to take place. Most people think of themselves as movie fans, but in reality, they treat movies the way most casual listeners treat music: as something to be enjoyed in passing, perhaps even in the background, with no serious commitment. After all, they think, it’s just a movie. So who in the world are you to care so much if they don’t?

For others, movies are an incredible doorway to inspiration, humanity, philosophy, theology, art, culture… Movies, though only stories created with actors and cameras, can offer a once in a lifetime experience that may resonate with us for as long as we live. We realize that life doesn’t begin and end with movies. We could live without them. We don’t get our identity from movies, we just like them a lot. They matter to us.

And they matter to all who keep these commandments.
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(Article Source)


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MGM Lion, 1929

The recording of the MGM Lion, 1929


Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck

Article source
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I grew up in a fundamentalist environment. The church I was baptized in believed it was inappropriate for Christians to go to a movie theater. To this day, my grandparents maintain this standard as a bulwark against worldliness.

The library at my Christian school had a variety of books for children, sanitized for Christian consumption. Encyclopedia Brown made the cut, but all the “goshes” and “gee whizzes” were marked out with a heavy black pen. No second-hand cursing allowed.

Films without anything objectionable were allowed at school, but looking back, I see how this analysis was applied simplistically. I still remember watching an old version of The Secret Garden - a movie with no cursing, thank goodness, but with a pseudo-pantheistic worldview that healing power is pulsating through all living things.

As a teenager, I discovered the work of Chuck Colson, Francis Schaeffer, and C. S. Lewis. These men had a different perspective on art and its merits. I began to see artistic analysis differently. I realized Disney movies weren’t safe just because they were “clean,” and PG-13 movies weren’t bad just because they had language or violence. It was possible to watch a movie with a critical eye for the underlying worldview.

I never subscribed to the fundamentalist vision that saw holiness in terms of cultural retreat or worldliness as anything that smacked of cultural engagement. I don’t subscribe to that position today.

But sometimes I wonder if evangelicals have swung the pendulum too far to the other side, to the point where all sorts of entertainment choices are validated in the name of cultural engagement.

Generally speaking, I enjoy the movie reviews I read in Christianity Today and World magazine. They go beyond counting cuss words or flagging objectionable content and offer substantive analysis of a movie’s overall message. But in recent years, I’ve begun to wonder if we’re more open than we should be to whatever Hollywood puts out.

Take, for example, Christianity Today’s recent review of The Wolf of Wall Street. Alyssa Wilkinson devotes nearly half of her review to the graphic depictions of immorality, yet still gives the film 3.5 stars out of 4. Another review counts 22 sex scenes, but can’t be sure since it’s hard to tell when one ends and another begins.

My question is this: at what point do we consider a film irredeemable, or at least unwatchable? At what point do we say it is wrong to participate in certain forms of entertainment?

I understand there are complexities to this issue. Some Christians disagreed with the praise showered on the recent Les Miserables film. I am among the number who thought Les Mis showcased the glory of redemption. It was a movie in which the sordid elements only served to accentuate the beauty of grace and the dehumanizing nature of sin.

Les Miserables is not unlike the accounts we read in our Bibles. Sexual immorality, rape, and violence are part and parcel of the Scriptural narrative. If a movie version of the book of Genesis were made, it wouldn’t be for minors. It seems silly to cross out cuss words from Encyclopedia Brown when first-graders can discover some pretty adult-themed events in their Adventure Bibles.

So, please don’t hear me advocating for a simplistic denunciation of Hollywood films. I am not. But I am concerned that many evangelicals may be expending more energy in avoiding the appearance of being “holier-than-thou” than we do in avoiding evil itself.

Yes, Paul used a popular poet of his day in order to make a point in his gospel presentation. Cultural engagement is important and necessary. But church history shows us that for every culture-engager there’s also a Gregory of Nyssa type who saw the entertainment mindset as decadent and deserving of judgment.

Is there justification for viewing gratuitous violence or sexual content?

At what point does our cultural engagement become just a sophisticated way of being worldly?

I find it hard to imagine the ancient Israelites admiring the artwork on the Asherah poles they were called to tear down. I find it hard to picture the early church fathers attending the games at the Roman coliseum, praising the artistic merits of the arena even as they provide caveats against violence.

Yet now in the 21st century, we are expected to find redeemable qualities in what would only be described by people throughout church history as “filth.”

What’s the point in decrying the exploitation of women in strip clubs and mourning the enslavement of men to pornography when we unashamedly watch films that exploit and enslave?

I do not claim to have this all figured out. But one thing I know: our pursuit of holiness must be the mark against which our pursuit of cultural engagement is measured.

If, like me, you’re conflicted about this issue, maybe it’s because we should be.

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Article source


10 Movies With Mind-Boggling Miniature Effects

Filmmakers are, by nature, liars. They’re masters of misdirection and optical illusion and whatever on-screen flim-flammery is necessary to get the shot. Which is why, even in our CG-heavy age, the miniature special effect is still in (occasional) demand. Recent movies like Inception and The Impossible proved that the use of small-scale models to simulate large-scale cinematic visuals is not only viable, but can even be preferable to all-digital approaches. After all, the best miniature effects provide the sense of weight and realism that computers often can’t. Here are 10 films whose use of miniatures is so subtle, we’re still kicking ourselves for believing that cars can fly, and that entire resorts, mountains, and cities were harmed in the making of these movies.

[NOTE FROM REELCAST: This is not an endorsment of any of these films.]

1. Blade Runner

Courtesy of The Single-Minded Movie Blog

By the time Blade Runner bombed at the box office, the use of miniatures in movies had been well-established. Close-up shots of tiny models were popularized by WWII and Godzilla films, and honed to a science by Star Wars and the motion-controlled camera rigs that Douglas Trumbull and his special effects crew pioneered. It’s no surprise, then, that Trumbull was behind the flying cars, or Spinners, in 1982’s Blade Runner.

Though some shots featured a full-size prop, many of the in-flight and zoomed-in shots were of a 44-inch-long replica. Trumbull’s master stroke, though, is the use of bright, flaring lights on the miniature Spinner, partially obscuring the model while also creating a sense of dynamic, cop-car scale.

2. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Courtesy of The Single-Minded Movie Blog

It was 1984, and we were gullible, easily tricked into thinking that Indie and company really were tearing through tunnels in a minecart while other carts full of bloodthirsty cultists gave chase. But the majority of that sequence was done with action-figure-size models (of both the good and bad guys) in 10-inch-long cars.

As with most miniature shots, the trick, apart from the painstakingly detailed models, was to slow the camera’s speed to match the smaller scale—for many shots, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) jerry-rigged a Nikon F3 still camera, cutting its motor speed by two-thirds.

3. The Abyss

Courtesy of The RPF

In retrospect, of course The Abyss was packed with miniscule versions of massive vessels. This was 1989, long before Titanic and Avatar gave James Cameron the kind of clout that could launch a thousand full-scale ships. So most of the vehicle shots feature models—for example, the 1/8-scale mini-subs that, like Blade Runner’s Spinners, were studded with working lights, and that also housed projectors, to display pre-filmed images of the actors against the inside of the domed cockpit windows. Even visuals that audiences might assume were breakthrough CG work, such as the iridescent “alien” vessels, were simply detailed models, many of them shot moving through smoke to simulate underwater murk.

4. Back to the Future Part II

Some miniature effects lose their magic once you know what to look for. That’s not the case with the swift, but completely mind-boggling night-time shot in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, when the flying DeLorean comes in for a landing, with no visible cuts between the car hitting the road and the actors piling out. The shot starts with a 3-foot-long scale model, which swoops in and touches down. It passes behind a streetlight, which masks a split-screen effect—the car that emerges on the other side of the pole is a full-size vehicle, part of a completely different, but perfectly matched shot.

5. Independence Day

Roland Emmerich’s strangely gleeful detonation of the White House—a 1/12-scale miniature—gets all the glory, but the real highlight of Independence Day’s Oscar-winning visual effects comes during the on-screen carnage in New York City, when a wall of flame is shown rolling through the streets. It’s a dazzling trick of forehead-slapping simplicity: the modeled cityscape was tilted sideways, with downward-aimed cameras perched above. So as the fire bloomed upwards, climbing the miniature environment, it looked as though it was spreading laterally. The final effect is as physics-defying as an alien bombardment should be.

6. Titanic

Courtesy of Jeff DiSario

Though Peter Jackson and his Weta Workshop special effects company later tried to coin the term “bigatures,” in relation to giant miniatures, James Cameron and Dream Quest Images might have beat them to it, first with a 70-foot-long nuclear submarine model in The Abyss, and then with a number of large models in Titanic, including a 1/8-scale replica of the titular ship’s stern jutting up from the water (after the vessel has snapped). Positioning seaborne extras in front of the sprawling miniature allowed Cameron to avoid a composite, green-screened shot. Other scenes used various other partial or full replicas, with the biggest complete miniature of the ship stretched 45 feet (or 1/20 scale, above).

7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Courtesy of Weta

All of The Lord of the Rings movies employed so-called bigatures, a term coined by a Weta Workshop model-maker to describe the 9-foot-high miniature of Barad’Dur, castle home of Sauron and perch for the villain’s baleful, all-seeing eye. Nearly every memorable environment, including Helm’s Deep, made extensive use of models, but Weta’s crowning achievement in miniatures is arguably the city of Minas Tirith (above) in 2003’s The Return of the King, which stands 14 feet tall at its highest tower, and sprawls some 30 feet wide, with as many as 1000 houses dotting its bulk. The besieged city is often shown surrounded by a CGI landscape, forming the basis of composite shots, and portions of it were hyper-detailed enough to stand up to extreme close-ups.

8. The Dark Knight

Courtesy of Behance

Christopher Nolan is famously averse to all-digital VFX, opting for air-launched miniature Batmobiles (or Tumblers) in Batman Begins and a memorable midair, multi-plane stunt in The Dark Knight Rises. But maybe the best, most deceptive practical effects sequence in Nolan’s Batman trilogy happens during the underground chase scene in 2008’s The Dark Knight. The Tumbler slams into a garbage truck, then swings around, skidding and speeding down the tunnel. The car, truck and tunnel are all 1/3-scale models, built by New Deal Studios, with motion-controlled cameras zipping along tracks alongside and behind the action.

9. Inception

For the climactic explosion of a mountaintop hospital (actually a figment of one character’s dreaming imagination) in 2010’s Inception, Christopher Nolan once again tapped the miniature-builders at New Deal Studios. The crew built a giant 1/6-scale model, topping 40 feet, mountain included, and then blew it up. But that was just the rehearsal. New Deal rebuilt and remounted the miniature, and destroyed it again, in a 5.5-second-long detonation sequence, filmed at 72 frames per second (two to three times normal filming speed, with the shots later slowed down to match the scale).

10. The Impossible

Image courtesy of FX Guide

While disaster movies like Deep Impact and 2012 have demonstrated menacing, purely virtual tidal waves, nothing comes close to the devastating tsunami sequence in 2012’s The Impossible. To simulate the initial impact of the 2004 tsunami on a Thai resort, Magicon GmbH created a handful of 1/3-scale bungalows, as well as the surrounding trees and nearby pool (above). The crew then dumped a million liters of water on their creations, creating a 1.5-meter-high wave.

CG artists added poolside umbrellas and additional trees, but the (perceived) scale of the destruction, including the way the miniature buildings are left shattered and skeletal, is more convincing than its bigger-budget equivalents.

...Read the full text here!

Christian movies to overtake Hollywood?

June 29, 2013 - by Martha R. Gore,

Christian based movies to overtake Hollywood film industry?Steven Spielberg recently warned members of the movie industry that there is an imminent "implosion" coming. Although he was talking about how expensive it is to attend a blockbuster movie, others believe that Americans are looking for productions that honor the importance of faith and family.

Some notable producers such as Steven Soderbergh and George Lucas agree that producers are finding it more difficult to get their movies into theaters and that it may be the end of Hollywood- produced films as an industry.

While Spielberg and the others may be talking about the high cost of producing block buster films, Soderbergh noted that cable television is more adventurous than Hollywood film. That may have been the most important statement as the men spoke to film students.

Of the three men, Soderbergh may have been closer to reality although he left out one important fact: movies with at least some faith and family content have grown from from 10.38 percent to 58.90 percent of films marketed to families while the others types have only grown from six percent of the market to 30 percent.

It appears that Actress/Producer Roma Downey and her husband, Producer Mark Burnett, speaking at a Variety sponsored event, are more finally attuned to the growing number of viewers with evidence that faith and family can attract large audiences. When the History Channel showed The Bible it drew 100 million viewers. The team is now working on a two-hour movie based on the Jesus portion of the miniseries.

According to Dr. Ted Baehr, the founder of Good News Communication:

The heightened interest in producing faith and family based movies and television programs is a dream come come true, but it took a lot of years, a lot of prayer, and a lot of work. God made this happen.

He told attendees at the conference

...movies with strong Christian redemptive content and values make three to six times as much money as movies with graphic or immoral content and values.

Dr. Baehr's words were backed up by Walmart's Chief Marketing Officer Steven Quinn who noted that

...98% of Walmart's 140 million weekly customers want safe family programs.

He quoted studies that show

... viewers who watch positive family-friendly programs are 30% more likely to remember the ads during that program, but viewers who watch programs with lewd or violent content are 20 percent less likely to remember the ads.

According to Daily Variety Hollywood and the mainstream press are finally honoring the importance of faith and family in a public and family based producers such as Downey and Burnett.

Perhaps Spielberg and Soderbergh may yet save the Hollywood movie industry by following the lead provided by the Christian and faith based producers such as Downey and Burnett.
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Article Source


Mary, Mother of Christ

Release Date: (Theaters) December 2013


Aloe Entertainment


Lionsgate, Noori Pictures


Julia Ormond … Elizabeth
Odeya Rush … Mary
Ben Kingsley … King Herod
Gary Oldman … Lucifer
Peter O’Toole … Symeon
Jay Willick … Rabbi
Kellan Lutz … The Angel Gabriel
Andy Garcia … Joachim

Film Synopsis:

This film is considered the biblical prequel to the story of “The Passion of The Christ”.

Under the reign of terror of Herod the Great and against all odds, Mary and Joseph survive as young parents in one of the most treacherous times in history. From Mary’s youth to her struggles as a young mother caring for her child, Jesus, up to the age of four years old. We will peer into Mary’s life at ages 8, 15, 19 and 27. (Written by Aloe Entertainment)

We are determined to make the familiar story new to our eyes and our hearts. It’s as if in the past we were taught to love this family, rather than sharing their lives in big and small ways and letting a natural empathy develop. One of the visual leitmotifs we are intent on is seeing the tiny fragile element of Mary who is essentially up against doubters who want to stone her to death, a fallen angel trying to harness all his persuasive power to try and get her to doubt her faith, and a mad King named Herod who will unleash rivers of blood in his intent in finding and killing her son. We must think of Mary as this very young, very vulnerable warrior. For the first time we will see how she has to stand on her own to protect her assignment in a way that reflects the legendary courage mothers are known for protecting their own.

We know what happened, we know the history, but there has not been a movie yet that brings us close to the story of a humble girl who was chosen to give birth to a Being that would change this world’s history; to live with her through her struggle of survival and the choices she had to make in order to protect and bring this child to life.

For whatever myriad reasons, none of the often-told cinematic portrayals of the birth of Christ really features Mary as the extraordinary, pivotal, indispensable center of the majestic drama. Certainly she has been recognized for her saintliness and her devotion to God and the mission he has chosen for her. What has been less focused on is the reality of Mary as a young girl of very modest means, who before a certain point in her young life is totally unprepared as to what her destiny is to be.

The story of Mary is one that has never been told to a wide global audience. Mary’s humanity transformed into the realm of the divine. Artistic representations of Mary usually depict her as a mature woman, comfortable and experienced in her raising of an infant. What we must assume, despite relatively little writing of the period, is that Mary was a young village girl who must have suffered the human burdens and delighted in the sublime pleasures of bringing up a child, particularly this child touched by godliness, yet human as any other.

One of the great triumphs of the script is Joseph coming to turns with the truth that the real engine of faith is love. Though what transpires is beyond his ability to literally understand, it is the power of his love for Mary and the fact that Mary prayed so intensely that Joseph be her companion that they come together in a unique love bond that is essential to the raising of the child.

The ticking clock rhythm and pace to this epic journey, in a vibrant canvas of great scope, is the key. The film will be shot wide screen to capture the vast landscapes and take the audience into these times, not as a distant period picture, but as if this story would be happening in the immediacy of the present.

Audiences should come out of movie theaters feeling they have come to know a part of history they thought they knew, but have understood and experienced now in a much more immediate and human way.

We will come to know these characters in a new and more accessible way that draws us to them as flesh and blood in their own right, not just depending on what we know of them as historically religious figures. There will be a reality to the violence within mainstream standards, but the ideas of which, (especially the slaughter of the innocents) are anything but familiar. We will FEEL the horror, FEEL the joy and suffer the threat of the unknown, along with the family.

The ending will give us a grand feeling of who this special boy has come to this world, and of the heroic struggle this mother and father have gone through with Faith as their ally.

The film will be visually beautiful with a studied re-imagination of every element including color palette from hair to costume to make-up from that which has come before. With historical documentation always at our side, I want to make that which we have never seen before. To show a side of the world’s most familiar story, which humanizes the biblical characters and brings us closer to understanding how love truly is the underpinning of faith. By the end of the film, if we haven’t before, we will come to believe and be inspired by these human examples.
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Source Article


"The Hunger Games" - Christian Reviews

If you haven't seen the movie, I would encourage you to watch the trailer, and then I would highly encourage you take just 30min and listen to the audio review below. There are times to take note of what is happening in our culture and in our world, and I firmly believe this is one of those times.

It has been said, that what is shown on the screen will be reality in 10 years. The world, Christians, and even conservative Christians have been flocking to see this film, and then recommending has become the #1 movie in the world. It has impacted millions and millions of people. As Christians, we need to be aware of these things and know what the Bible has to say about it! - I don't necessarily agree with the following reviews 100%, but they make some good points worth considering. Let's be people who don't just following the masses, or the popular trends, or Hollywood's latest "greatest." Let's be people who think, and seek to understand truth through the filter of God's Word.

If you have comments or thoughts about the movie or books, feel free to leave me a comment, I would be happy to hear from you!

Generations with Vision

Excerpted from the full review here. [HIGHLY RECOMMENDED]

It’s another blockbuster, and this time the children are going for it hook, line, and sinker.  The Hunger Games netted $155 million in one springtime weekend! But what should a Christian father think about such a film?  Kevin Swanson reviews the film with his daughter Emily, carefully examining the metaphysic, meta-ethic, gender roles, and ethical conundrums from the perspective of God’s Word.

Click to Listen 

Little Things

Excerpted from the full review here.

...if you’re only going to watch the movie or read the books for entertainment (and have NO discussion of the ideas), then don’t do it. From things I’ve read from and about the author (Suzanne Collins), the series was meant to critique our “vulture-culture” that loves to see and hear about violence in the news, in stories, and in our own neighbors’ lives. (You’re probably guilty, too. Ever wished the person giving a prayer request at church would have provided just a few more details?) That was her intention. It saddens me to see all the entertainment hype surrounding the opening weekend of the movie, because that goes against the very critique of the book. But maybe it also illustrates a point. And that point may be this: That our society no longer knows how to watch a movie or read a book and be instructed or warned by it; a movie today automatically says “entertainment for a couple of hours” and viewers, figuratively speaking, shut their brains off. That is tragic to me. Why? Because one of the best ways to be instructed is through stories – stories of another person or society’s failure or triumph. Through those stories we gain knowledge and wisdom about how to live our lives, how to love well, and how to influence and understand culture.

The simple truth is, every story has a message. No movie or book is exempt. And if a person is mature enough to read or view a story with discernment and take instruction from that, then by all means, go read or watch. If a person doesn’t have the discernment to watch for a purpose other than being entertained, then please do not go see this movie, and do not read the books. In fact, I can’t think of very many movies or books you should read if your sole purpose is entertainment and you aren’t willing to think a little bit. As Christian viewers, we’re called to “take every thought captive” in every area of our lives. I don’t think this means we shy away from controversial issues, because our whole existence consists of controversial issues. Instead, I think it means we tackle them, know them for what they truly are, and use discernment in how to think about them.

Blue Banner Media

Excerpted from the full review here.

...[Americans] are getting in line to watch the violent, emotionally stirring, ethically surprising, spectacle of a motion picture adaptation of a popular novel. Aren’t they cheering the very thing that Collins was attempting to make them horror-struck by? The “critiquing violence with violence” method doesn’t appear to have worked. Instead, people will file into the theater and shout approval: “let the games begin!”

The film is extremely well made, well acted, and has some salient points brought up in its story line. The characters are fascinating and well developed, the ideas treated are deep, and yet a faulty foundation of humanism has failed to provide the needed answers. This film will dazzle audiences hoping only to be entertained, will provoke thought (and disgust) from those willing to think, but desensitizing aesthetics will defeat the supposed good intentions of the makers when it comes to the majority of Americans.

Regardless of the conclusions it comes to, whenever a film peddles situation ethics to young people it is dangerous, as is any film without a rock-solid moral foundation (i.e. Biblical Christianity).

Are we better than the Romans? Are we better than the cheering crowds in the Capitol of Panem? I think Gale’s words in the opening scene of the film hit on the right thought, “What if everyone quit watching? They wouldn’t have their games then.” I’m not suggesting that we all need to quit watching films with violence or that you can’t necessarily enjoy a film like The Hunger Games, but at what point do we draw the line? Will we let Hollywood continue to push that forward so we can be entertained? At what cost? We need to pray that God would give us all the wisdom to discern even the most exciting of movies, or we run the risk of amusing ourselves to death.