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July 06, 2008
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My schedule remains fairly tight, but with some loose ends. I was able to take some time and relax two weekends in a row. That’s nice. Since my weekdays are still quite long, arduously taking client work as best I can, I found some interesting reading material. I discovered the Harry Potter books.


I have seen the movies, but I am a casual fan at best. At the same time, given that the Internet and even conversations are fraught with the peril of having the endings of the next two movies ruined – I felt I should take the plunge and read them before anything gets spoilt. I enjoyed the movies a lot, but I did not own them until now.

I went to Half Priced Books and picked up the lot used for under $40, and then I got the boxed set of all 5 movies in high definition used for $43 including shipping (Thanks Amazon!). In less than 3 weeks, I plowed through all the books and thanks to the weekends, I managed to finish of book 7 yesterday. I’m a convert, I loved these. Great fun, although I agree with Stephen King’s assessment that JoAnn has many clever and creative aspects to the books, but the opening chapters with the Durseley’s get boring.

I rank the movies well, as I thoroughly enjoyed Chris Columbus’ direction in the first two films, but the third one under Alphonso Cuaron (later did CHILDREN OF MEN) still ranks as by a large margin the best in the series so far, not withstanding my preferential treatment of any film that casts Gary Oldman. The last two films were lukewarm to me before, but the books fill in the depth that a non-reader would never have gotten.

As I explained to some fellow filmmakers, it’s interesting to note that in the latest two (and soon to be 6th film), that Chris Columbus is no longer involved in the franchise directly. At the time, because the main stars were unknown kids, the big “star” attraction to the film was its director who had smash hits HOME ALONE and MRS. DOUBTFIRE. His salary was $10 million plus back end points. His paycheck on film two is not disclosed, but I’ll bet it was more. He produced film three, but never came back to direct, even though he wanted to. The other directors get $1 million plus points. To most directors, this is more than an ample payday, so Chris Columbus never gets to come back to the world he shaped. Interesting to note, that many choices a director would get to make, he already made. The main cast of principals and especially the students and teachers, are already made. The location styles, the costumes, props, set design, art direction in general, as well as musical motifs, are all based on what Chris Columbus decided as director on the first two films. His mark remains in the series till the end.

Overall, I enjoyed the books a lot. The films I definitely liked better after reading the books. I love geeking out and getting into fantasy films and books, but the reason I liked this best was the depth of the world and the backstory was compelling. I love a good backstory and setup as it grounds everything in its own reality.


Enough on the exploits of the geeks with glasses…

Looks like the Japan trip may really happen! I can’t believe it, but they called me and I talked to someone on the phone about the details of the trip. The location is north of Tokyo in a megacomplex with tons of HD and all around high end production facilities. I hope they come through with the airline ticket soon so that I can book the trip as a whole. I’d love to spend a month in Japan teaching filmmaking to 60 students.



Thursday night, My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ and I went to a local movie theatre to see the Jackie Chan/Jet Li movie FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. God, that movie sucked ass. I tend not to thrash movies, as I’m not a film reviewer, just a watcher and filmmaker, so I want to NOT be a critic unless I like the movie. This was too crappy not to say something. By the time the historic pair duked it out; we went ahead and left the theatre. Even with fight choreography by the legendary Yeun Wo Ping, I couldn’t stand any more of this ass hurting pain. The whole movie hinged around a contemporary American story that was not only unnecessary, but poorly done. My Sexy Fiancé Veronica ™ said it best when she said it would have been great if you were 8 years old. Too true.

The upside was that as I was leaving, I met the manager, who happened to be a guy who took a job at Super Saver Cinema in 1991 the same day I did and we wound up both being managers within a year with that company. He’s still in the biz, and he introduced me to the owner of the theatre. I have been floating the idea of doing another film festival for some time, but mostly I wanted to make it for feature films, not really shorts. I’ve been working on several features in various capacities and I know a lot of people want to exhibit their features. This is my chance to lend a helping hand again, and this time I won’t entrust any of the important responsibilities to half wits.



By the end of the conversation, we had a deal struck for the film festival, although I may change it to a film series where we show a locally made feature every Thursday for several weeks with a few short films on the head of them. We’ll see. I’m aiming for the fall and I already have at least 6 features in the cue, with another 2-3 possible from others I’m reaching out to.

And this is just the beginning of a few other projects I’m in the midst of. Kind of want to keep my dance card full if you know what I mean…

Stay true to your inner ear,
- Ross

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