I posted yesterday about Marvel movie music, which I found interesting since –while I’ve collected movie soundtracks since I’ve been little, I haven’t gotten around to getting any of the Marvel soundtracks. (Though I do remember the Avengers “fanfare.”)
One recent soundtrack that I have gotten, however, is Game of Thrones, composed by Ramin Djawadi.
So, I talked about comics and Captain Marvel specifically so far this week… and that got me thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and then I thought of “Every Frame a Painting’s” critique of Marvel’s movie music.
Now, superhero movies in general are not likely to be modestly budgeted these days: they’re too tempting to be used as tentpoles by the studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought in over $7 billion. Disney’s not about to abandon using them as tentpoles.
But what about the the medium where these superhero stories first appeared: comics?
Parts of their argument is that comics –even if they aren’t as all-fired profitable as their big screen offspring– serve an important function as idea incubators. In a sense, they’re narrative R&D projects. Certainly, good periodic comic books and graphic novels aren’t the cheapest things to produce — many an indie creator colleague has made me aware of that. But they are a darn sight cheaper than bankrolling a $120 million tentpole movie. And in fact, just about all the tentpole movies owe some of their “genetic material” from the comic form.
Another way they could be thought of is as the “narrative farm teams” for some of the bigger budgeted stories. And, of course, I’m thinking of that mainly for the business folks to better reconcile the numbers. The creativity and storytelling on display in so many comics is not “minor league,” but bean counters usually don’t care if a comic book was emotionally impactful, just how many units it sold. So whatever keeps the presses rolling.
The resulting list breaks down not only the types of films dozens of distribution companies acquire, but what festivals they typically attend, what their standard term lengths are, and so on.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard the sage advice of knowing your distribution plan before you make your film dozens of time. Well, it’s great to be reminded of that, but then there’s the whole problem of knowing –even within a given market– who the best buyers might be.
Yes, I’ll absolutely research the heck out of the individual companies before approach them, but I find this list is a great way to get some companies to keep in mind (or exclude) from the get-go. I hope that’s the case for many of you as well.
One wonky thing I’m endlessly fascinated by is film budgets. When you realize that an hour of modern “prestige” TV can top $10 million, yet the average Hollywood blockbuster is over $100 million, you know certain choices are being made and risks accepted.
And yes, I know traditional theatrical distribution and traditional network and cable distribution have business models that can inform and support these widely disparate budgets. However, I lap up little tidbits from behind-the-scenes features and other clues dropped in media interviews for how crafty producers and production staff save money here and there.
Here’s yet another instance where I have to thank my dad for taking us to see no end of foreign and classic movies growing up (TCM before TCM existed, as I like to say). Among all the other lessons I absorbed was the implicit reinforcement that you can have a damn fine movie for less than a blockbuster budget. Don’t get me wrong, things cost money… and there’s always something that costs more than you’d like. But great locations, sumptuous costumes, and even some visual effects work are absolutely within reach of modest or even “low” budgets.
But I’m not satisfied with the theoretical. I want to know specific tricks to save time and money. I want to know the ratios to use when estimating this versus that. I want to know the types of risks associated with all the different departments making a film.
Seriously, if you’ve kept reading up until this point, odds are much higher that you have been obsessing about these things too and Follow’s article goes straight to the kind of planning-based-on-historical-data producers (aka project managers) in any industry live for.
Read deep into the article and you will be able to plan risks and contingency budgets based by department. How cool is that?
Unless you’ve been living under a tauntaun, you know that Disney is adding Star Wars sections to its theme parks. And since it’s Disney, they are going all out.
The sci fi news site, io9, was part of a group of journalists that got the tour the attractions, still feverishly being prepared for later this year (summer for Disneyland (California) and Fall for Disney World (Florida). If you’re the slightest bit a Star Wars fan, you’ll read the article with mounting excitement.
Adding to what already sounds like two very exciting rides, is the fact that they’re making the whole 14-acre section of the park immersive. Visitors will technically still be in a Disney park of course, but like Williamsburg turned up to 11, all the Disney staff will behave as if guests are visiting Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu. All the swag and food and drink will be “in-universe” swag and food and drink. Nerdist.com has an appropriately exhaustive article on the food and drink to expect.
So, I have to admit, though I’ve never been to any of the Disney parks, the temptation force is strong with this one. Now if only I could figure out how to wait in what will doubtless be one of the longest lines in the galaxy without turning to the Dark Side…
America has long had a paradoxical status as a Calvinistic Babylon, to reference historian Michael Kammen. To follow along that allegorical thought, if all hobbies ought to be hustles, leisure time itself is suspect. Being unproductive is almost sinful (and I’ll bet a bunch of you just had “the devil makes work for idle hands” pop into your head just now).
Definitely read the article above if that’s the case (or even if not). Do you work to live or live to work… and what do you get out of it? There’s a bunch of great lines in the piece, but one stands out for me:
“Our jobs were never meant to shoulder the burdens of a faith, and they are buckling under the weight.”
Many of my gamer friends have various Warhammer and related armies and I know my efforts are not remotely in their league. They paint minis regularly. In fact, for several, it’s a bona fide hobby. One preditor friend (that’s producer-editor for the uninitiated) has taken to painting miniatures quite expertly since directing a feature where D&D plays a central role. All but a handful of the denizens in her miniature army are used in D&D games: it’s mainly about the painting. In other words, the journey, the act of painting, is the joy. And that’s what I found here. I mean, I’m really hopeful we have plenty of fun with the game, but just the painting was a lot of fun and relaxing — even as I obsessed about details (though as you can see from the picture, not too much).
I’ve also long suspected that a significant percentage of many people’s urges to turn hobbies into hustles is to feed the “must-keep-busy” monster. Speaking as someone whose thoughts have turned to that frequently, that monster is forever insatiable. As Molly Conway writes in an article last month, it’s a trap. Go on hikes without being a guide. Learn to be a better baker without selling your wares at a local farmer’s market. Better yet, don’t feel the need to have any wares if you don’t need to. The enjoyment you get from things that don’t bring money can filter into the the things that do.
Or you might just have to enjoy the leisure time without quantifying it. That works too.
Last year, JAT did an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic War of the Worlds since it was the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast. It was great fun to update a radio adaptation to the present day and set it in and around Washington, DC. Several members of the troupe said they’d like to do something far less serious… which also might be well received by the convention crowd.
This year, we were asked to once again pick a known work (as opposed to something original like Rogue Tyger or Quorum). However, the organizers also said that parody was an option and it’s the 40th anniversary of both the original Alien and the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century…
Ladies and gentlemen –and assorted aliens– get ready for Nostromo 2: Electric Alien Boogaloo (featuring Chuck Codgers).
I have all sorts of tropes that I look forward to sending up as well as numerous references to classic works I want to work in. Of course, the trick is to make jokes that are funny in and of themselves, yet have the references add another layer of humor. I can’t guarantee everyone listening will have watched Stargate, Monty Python, and the classic Day the Earth Stood Still, after all. As veteran comedy writers have taught me, one must take ‘silly’ very seriously.
So, I’m still working on the script and last week someone posted a link to the full runthrough to Space Ace, the sci-fi themed sequel to the interactive animated video game Dragon’s Lair.
Beats having to cough up a whole lotta quarters to try and get through it all, right? (Actually, I’ve only done that with one game, and it’s because some brilliant entrepreneur had put a video game arcade in an airport terminal, so people waiting and waiting and waiting for their flight would have something to do).
Anyway, it’s been a fun, silly inspiration as I continue to work on the script. I know we’ll have room for a slide whistle and I’m hoping the O.G. sci-fi instrument, the theremin can make an audio appearance. More details to come as we get closer to May!