January 30, 2009

The Art of David Kassan

Coraline Promo

The Art of Sam Vanallemeersch

Now that is some well-done PG Porn

In the latest installment of James Gunn’s PG Porn, porn ho Sasha Grey dresses up like a Catholic school girl in need of a car fixing and, well, it’s just kind of awesome. Watch it below.



Bicycle Safety

Links of the Day

mlsykxof8f0v9i3o2elxg6nzo1_500

Chat Between Captain Planet And The Heart Kid - [Holy Taco]

The 10 Steps To Porn Addiction. Where Are You? - [Cracked]

The Most Extravagant Dinner Parties In History - [Cook's Den]

Top 10 Signs Your Girlfriend Is A Tramp - [Spike]

Michael Arrington Taking A Break From TechCrunch.com, Succumbs To Nerd Terrorism - [Yahoo]

The “A-Team” movie is a go. [THR]

Joaquin Phoenix’s rap career was just an elaborate joke on society. Get it? [Film Drunk]

Greatest Quiz EVER: How Many 90 Year-Olds Can You Take in a Fight? [Tasty Booze]

Tampa has already busted 19 would be prostitutes (mugshots included). [TSG]

More Hilarious Yahoo Answers: The Closeted Homosexuality Fail. [Blog of Hilarity]

Biggest tool ever sues strip club for getting kicked during lap dance. [F-Listed]

Interested in joining Scientology? No? What if Bart Simpson asks? [WWTDD]


The 7 Most Tradable Lunch Box Snacks. Zebra Cakes f’n rule. [High Definite]

Roddick beats Federer! Just kidding. Of course Federer won. [ESPN]

Define irony: Japanese fire station burns down from kitchen fire. [Yahoo]

And when exactly did exercise balls become so dangerous? (video). [Break]

Picture of the day

January 28, 2009

Animation & Puppets follow the same principles for acting

There's no better way to show the connection between cartoon animation and puppetry than an old fashion Frank Oz and Jim Henson skit. Arcs of motion, slow-in/slow-out, line of action, overlapping action, follow-thru, and many other principles all apply to puppetry in the same way as in character animation, here's an excerpt from Tom's blog to show you how:

Here is a perfect example of what you do as a puppeteer when your puppet has no lines or doesn’t play a huge role in a scene. A wise puppeteer once said to me that in these situations have your puppet react to what is being said, don’t just have your character sit still, movement is life. However, realize that less is more sometimes and that “overacting” can also take away from a scene. It is a fine line and takes tons of practice!

This video is a perfect example of this “lesson”. Watch Bert closely. The scene is based on what Ernie is saying but includes Bert to back Ernie’s emotions and add (as usual) a comedic element. Also watch how Ernie and Bert relay their emotions to the audience. Take note to their eyeline, the position of their head and the body language they implement to each emotion. A simple skit but very well executed.





Also this Rapunzel skit is just amazing for showing antics, overlapping action and just plain awesome timing with fantastic voice acting with exaggerated motions and great characterization.

Super Awesome!

LINKS!

sword

5 World Leaders Who Were Accused Of Being The Antichrist - [Cracked]

10 Greatest “Lessons Learned” From College-Themed Movies - [Uncoached]

Guest Column - Barack Obama: 4 Things That Need To Stop
Now That I’m President (Fantastic) - [Holy Taco]

The Most Badass Presidential Limousines - [Popular Mechanics]

Killer Facebook demotivational poster - [Wii Hotties]

Retro “I Can Read Movies” Book Covers


Spacesick, aka Mitch Ansara has been designing some outstanding retro movie adaptation book covers. Gorgeous, clever, and hilarious. I wish they were real. They’re part of his Make Something Cool Everyday set on flickr. Via drawn.ca

January 27, 2009

Great New Coraline Trailer

Undeniable proof that turing any series into 3D makes it look better!

Kimmel Talks Obama Jokes At Black Barbershop

Coldplay

The Plan

By Jack Handey


The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen:
—The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.
—The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.
—Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.
—There must be an empty parking space right out in front. If it has a meter, there must be time left on it, because our outfits don’t have pockets for change.
—The monkeys must grab the bags of money and not just shriek and go running all over the place, like they did in the practice run.
—The security cameras must be the early, old-timey kind that don’t actually take pictures.
—When the big clock in the lobby strikes two, everyone must stop and stare at it for at least ten minutes.
—The bank alarm must have mistakenly been set to “Quiet.” Or “Ebb tide.”
—The gold bars must be made out of a lighter kind of gold that’s just as valuable but easier to carry.
—If somebody runs out of the bank and yells, “Help! The bank is being robbed!,” he must be a neighborhood crazy person who people just laugh at.
—If the police come, they don’t notice that the historical mural on the wall is actually us, holding still.
—The bank’s lost-and-found department must have a gun that fires a suction cup with a wire attached to it. Also a chainsaw and a hang glider.
—When we spray the lobby with knockout gas, for some reason the gas doesn’t work on us.
—After the suction cup is stuck to the ceiling, it must hold long enough for Leon to pull himself up the wire while carrying the bags of money, the gold bars, and the hang glider. When he reaches the ceiling, he must be able to cut through it with the chainsaw and climb out.
—Any fingerprints we leave must be erased by the monkeys.
—Once on the roof, Leon must be able to hold on to the hang glider with one hand and the money and the gold bars with the other and launch himself off the roof. Then glide the twenty miles to the rendezvous point.
—When we exit the bank, there must be a parade going by, so our getaway car, which is decorated to look like a float, can blend right in.
—During the parade, our car must not win a prize for best float, because then we’ll have to have our picture taken with the award.
—At the rendezvous point, there must be an empty parking space with a meter that takes hundred-dollar bills.
—The robbery is blamed on the monkeys.

via The New Yorker

January 26, 2009

Zach Braff and Elmo

Wait, What?



There we have it. Nothing but wholesome couple's activities between the Obamas.

Bubbilicious by Rex The Dog

Watch hundreds of films online for free at NFB.ca

NFB.ca is the National Film Board of Canada’s new online film site that puts hundreds of animated films, documentaries, and experimental films back in front of the people that created and paid for them.

The Sweater by Sheldon Cohen


Here are a few of the most popular animated films (two Oscar-winners). Note that you can watch the films in various levels of quality; if you’re on high-speed, I definitely recommend the highest quality resolution. There are embed codes for all the films too if you want to post on your site.


The Cat Came Back by Cordell Barker



The Logdriver’s Waltz by John Weldon



Neighbours by Norman McLaren


Explore all the animated films here.

Via drawn.ca

The Art of Luke Newell

The Art of Eric Hanson

The Art of Silja Goetz

Picture of the Day

January 25, 2009

Awesomest Wrestling Move Ever?

Two Great Books


I wasn't aware of these 2 great books until recently.
Composing Pictures by Donald Graham &
Planning Animation
by Wayne Gilbert.
Reference manuals for character layout and storyboard artists are few and far between. Most books focus on animation art and maybe a bit on timing, not many show you how to compose your shots and provide a nice resource for artists who make a living staging and posing characters for animation production. I highly recommend these books for any character animation / storyboard artist.

Obama Action Figure

Picture of the Day

The Green Giant

January 24, 2009

NBS Nightly News with Ted Philips, March 11th 1970

Simpson-ized Paintings

650680_c63d_625x625

I saw these over at Aviary. They basically took a bunch of famous paintings and rendered them with Simpsons characters and coloring. They have the breakdown of the layers and how they did this as well

661946_9d2a_625x625

677659_b7e7_625x6251660257_f5c8_625x625

677668_aacd_625x625

678277_1988_625x625

678476_5849_625x625

LINKS!

thishomedoesntcall

The 5 Worst Sources Of Advice On Television - [Cracked]

If T-Shirts Told The Truth - [Holy Taco]

The Obamameter Tracks The Progress Of Each Promise Obama
Made On The Campaign Trail - [Politifact]

Wife Murdered For Changed Facebook Status - [BBC]

The 7 Worst Tech Predictions Of All Time - [MSN]

I can't wait...

up-poster-2.jpg

January 23, 2009

Ackbar! The Star Wars Talk Show

Jeff Liu's "Hair Buddy"

Links!

Guy Gets Stabbed In A Bar, Finishes Beer - [Edmonton Sun]

If Chick Flicks Were Rewritten By Guys - [Regretful Morning]

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities - [Forbes]

8 Racist Words You Use Everyday - [Cracked]

Your Girlfriend’s Comments During The AFC/NFC Championships - [Next Round]

The Best Fictional Beer Brands On TV - [Sloshspot]

Top 10 Worst Plagues In History - [Listverse]

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Clint Eastwood - [Spike]

12 Best 1-on-1 Fight Scenes In Movie History - [Unreality Mag]

January 21, 2009

Yes, That’s Carlton Banks

Great Links

5 Reasons Why Megatron Should Have Fired Starscream Years Ago - [Cracked]

Obama’s Presidential Tank Caddy Limo - [Gawker]

15 Reasons Mr. Rogers Was The Best Neighbor Ever - [CNN]

A Bunch Of Sweet Motivational Posters - [Brahsome]

Yoda & Mark Hamill

January 20, 2009

In Honor of Bush!

George Lucas’s Doodles From The Star Wars Set

Death By Frisbee

In a one-off guest hosting show for Mahalo Daily, Loren Feldman of 1938 Media visited the Santa Monica Puppetry CenterIn a one-off guest hosting show

LINKS!

5 Classic Cartoons They Don’t Want You To See - [Cracked]

12 Reasons Why Roadhouse Is The Best Movie Ever - [Coed Mag]

The Blog Of Unnecessary Quotation Marks - [Quotation-Marks]

Another Stonehenge Discovered Under Lake Michigan - [io9]

6 Obnoxious Old People Habits (Explained By Science) - [Cracked]


Top 24 Cartman Moments (Actually Pretty Good) - Heckler Spray]

5 Lost Amendments To The Bill Of Rights - [Holy Taco]

Top 10 Movie Spoofs Of All Time - [Spike]

20 Awesome Vintage Ads From Well Known Brands - [Uncoached]

6 Insane Prison Escapes That Actually Happened - [Cracked]

Top 10 Signs Your Car Sucks - [Spike]

Carjackee Catches Carjacker With Fake Text Of Booze and Hot Chicks - [WBNS]

Police Finally End 3-Hour Standoff With Empty Shed - [Yahoo]

January 16, 2009

R.I.P. - Ricardo Montalban




Ricardo Montalban, the suave leading man who was one of the first Mexican-born actors to make it big in Hollywood and who was best known for his roles as Mr. Roarke on ABC's "Fantasy Island" and the villainous Khan of the "Star Trek" franchise, died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 88. See a comprehensive 5 part interview here.

Watchmen Lawsuit

watchmen-teaser.jpgWell, you can stop worrying that Watchmen won't make its March 6 release because of the legal battle over rights. Deadline Hollywood and several other sources are reporting a settlement has been reached between Warner Bros. and Fox:
The deal is finally done, and Warner Bros' highly anticipated Watchmen -- based on the comic book series/graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons -- won't be held hostage. I'm hearing that in tonight's settlement, Fox will not be an active distributor of the pic, but will receive up to 8 1/2% gross participation in the pic, and a piece of everything going forward including a sequel or spinoff, and a cash payment upfront including recoupment of its development costs and attorney fees, and god-only-knows what else.
Good thing they got the sequel and spinoff rights sorted as well. I don't want to go through this again for Watchmen 2, 3, & 4.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it)



Total Madness

Monty Python made their most creative works when they were left alone... imagine that.





P. Craig Russell explains sequential narration


He discusses panel layout, timing, and composition, watch this great clip.

The Art of Edward del Rosario

Charlene Chua's Space Girl


More of the amazing Art of Charlene here.

The Art of Edward Kinsella

The Art of Jelle Gijsberts



Dionysos - Tes lacets sont des fées

A Short Love Story

January 15, 2009

Spongebob Sickpants

Do Space Aliens Dislike Wind Power, or Are They Just Clumsy?


Blimey!
Did an extraterrestrial spacecraft hit a wind turbine in England last week? The country is abuzz with speculation (see video above). Some observers claim to have seen bright streaks in the night sky — like an octopus’s tentacles, according to one — just before one of the turbine’s blades came off. Another blade, also struck by the force, dangles limply.)

Guards recently blocked off the site, partly to prevent U.F.O. theorists from scouring the grounds, which are in the village of Conisholme, in Lincolnshire.

Other theories are rampant. These include a cow-sized ice chunk and a “robot stealth bomber.”
The Guardian reports, more soberly, that a fireworks display for an 80-year-old’s birthday party may have been the source of the mysterious lights.

On its Web site, Ecotricity, the turbine’s operator, states: “Engineers are carrying out a thorough investigation. We don’t as yet have any evidence that points us to a cause.”

The Invisible Rope

a dramatic re-enactment of a parking violation

January 13, 2009

The Phantom Menace Effect - An Essay by Ron Doucet

To begin, 1999 marked the first documented "Phantom Menace Effect" for me personally; it was an epic experience of victimization that tricked me (and a billion other people) into thinking that a certain sci-fi movie had lived up to its own hype. This thesis explores the phenomenon in full detail with many examples of how Hollywood film studios and producers take advantage of a movie-goer’s nostalgia for old classic films/prequels, novels, comic books and 80s cartoons and uses this to manipulate and cheat us all.

I had my first PME experience during the year that Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace first came to theaters. May 1999, I was in my second year of college taking a Digital Animation course. For this grand occasion, I dressed up as Jabba’s sidekick, Bib Fortuna. Along with a dozen other classmates of mine we all made costumes, stood in line for an hour, had a few beers before the show and were all ecstatic at the thought of witnessing the first new Star Wars film in 16 years.

Little did we know that between this momentous occasion and the time that the film would be released on video that we (and the millions of others) would fall victim to the biggest con in movie history… what I like to call the Phantom Menace Effect!

It was a Wednesday-midnight showing of the Star Wars film, so after the film we all gathered outside of the theater at 2:30 am on a warm Thursday morning, we reminisced over the wonders we had just seen. The sheer awe-inspiring volume and quality of CG environments and characters and the expansion of the Star Wars universe with new mythology, worlds and characters introduced (along with Darth Maul who , in my opinion, had his life cut way too short). It’s as if 12+ animation students (all grown men and women) had shared a 2-hour orgasm in a theater together. Life was good.

In the coming weeks, me and a couple friends of mine went to see the film again… twice! Each time I would especially look forward to the final light saber duel (which I still say is the best one from all 6 films). Each time the “orgasm” was a bit less satisfying, as the accent of the bad guys on the starship, the unnecessarily long pod race sequence, and the mere presence of Jar-Jar Binks were all annoyances that I chose to ignore but were increasingly troublesome on my psyche.

Months went by. I graduated college, and got my first job in the animation business. Pulling long hours animating a character for a Nickelodeon pilot that never came to be, me and my co-workers were counting the minutes until Phantom Menace would be released on VHS at HMV.

The day finally came and my girlfriend bought me the super-special VHS video edition of the Star Wars Episode 1 movie!! It came with a filmstrip from the movie and a mini “Art of” booklet. I was thrilled. I popped in the tape, and watched the whole movie on my little 14 inch TV/VCR combo, without blinking once. Once the movie was over, I felt empty inside. After thinking about it for a few hours, wondering ‘where the magic had gone’ I figured I wouldn’t tell anyone, fearing I would be outcast by friends and family. I kept my disappointment in the movie all to myself. Assuming no one else felt like this, and deep down, secretly I had the feeling that the movie conned me, conned me into thinking it was the best movie ever, conned me into buying 3 movie tickets and one expensive VHS tape, conned me into believing all the hype behind the movie.

Little did I know that EVERYONE felt this way. Very few actually saw the fact that the film was bullshit from the very beginning, who would? We’re talking about STAR WARS! As the weeks went on after the video release, word-of-mouth and the internet were the conduits in spreading the conspiracy theory of how George Lucas had practically raped Star Wars and served it to everyone on a silver platter for everyone devour. And we ALL fell for it. At my work place it was a slow and gradual realization over the fact we had all been fooled. We were victims of the biggest con of all. Using everyone’s nostalgia over the old classic Star Wars films to re-invent and re-create prequels for all to enjoy sounds all swell, but as these three new films came out, it became more and more evident as to what was going on. With well-known actors, the slightly younger Yoda, a young Anakin, and a kick-ass villain like Darth Maul, what could go wrong?

As reality set in around the Spring of 2000, the world began to create many spoofs and satires online over the ridiculous acting of the young Anakin, the stupid characterization of Jar-Jar Binks, and the many other factors that played out in the film that ultimately made it a horrible movie in general. It was the biggest box office success of that year and it spawned MANY fan films on the internet as well, but deep, deep down we ALL knew the truth, it was just too difficult to admit in the beginning.

This is the PME. In later years this ugly effect would rear its ugly head for me, and I realized that EVRYONE has a similar story, and with all the remakes and sequels happening lately it’s only getting worse. Whenever you look forward to a movie, whenever you go see a film in the theater with very high expectations, you may be opening yourself up to the PME. The PME can come in may forms, sometimes it can happen right in the middle of the first time you see the film, this is the earliest and the most convenient time to experience the PME. Often it hits you hours or even weeks after you’ve seen the film…. You think to yourself… “Shit… I guess that really wasn’t a good movie…huh.”

For me personally, Ang Lee’s “Hulk” and Brain Singers’ “Superman Returns” had the PME happen to me again. On both accounts, I had HUGE expectations for the films, watched the films and came out of the theater thinking “Wow, that was the best thing ever!” But then as I sub-consciously replay the movie in my mind over the next couple days, I realize that I was conned, and see the movie for what it was: a steaming pile of crap.

The more you fall victim to the PME, the more your senses get attuned to detecting it for the future. Transformers, Twilight, Prince Caspian, AVP2, Pirates 3 and dozens of others were advertised as epic films but I saw through the ruse. These movies and many like them of the same type at first seem like grand adventure movies, and for many the whole turn-off-your-brain-and-enjoy-the-show mentality works, it works for me as well, mindless action-flicks are great escapism. But you must see those other films as being the empty movies that they are, cashing in on the hype, the popularity of the prequel, novel, comic book, or 80s cartoon that they’re based off of. These films that fool you with their trailers, teaser and TV spots are the ones you must watch out for, they may break your heart.


Since my many experiences with the PME, I’ve been able to shield myself from potentially bad experiences, and have saved me hundreds of dollars by not buying the DVDs. Obvious ones are X-Men 3, Spiderman 3, Indiana Jones 4, where the hype, the build up, the trailers and teasers all legitimately fooled me in believing these movies would be as good or better than its predecessors. Once witnessing them in the theater, I subsequently vomited in the aisles, and saw the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I went to see both Star Wars 2 & 3 (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith). I laughed through both films. Almost as a retaliation towards George Lucas who had raped me back in 1999, I felt comfort in mocking the two additional prequels. I haven’t watched either one since, I saw them immediately for what they were, simply bad filmmaking. Bad acting, bad timing, bad everything. In fact, after some discussion with several friends on the subject, I think Star Wars Episode 1, is actually the best one of the 3 newer Star Wars films. Simply because Darth Maul and that light saber fight made the hairs standup on the back of my neck. For a brief period, it WAS a great experience shared with many friends. Even though the enjoyment was a big hypnotized fake, it at least seemed very real, even for just a moment, a very similar and short feeling similar to when I saw Star Wars and Empire back to back for the first time at a Sunday afternoon Matinee when I was 6 years old.

I must make note for when the opposite effect happens, and of course this effect is far more gratifying and worthwhile. For me, television shows and films like There Will Be Blood, Fight Club, The Machinist, American Beauty, Once Upon A Time In The West, No Country For Old Men, Bladerunner, Magnolia, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Lord of the Rings, Unbreakable, Good Fellas, Band of Brothers, Deadwood, Rome, Team America and the countless others that leave me with a great feeling inside, whether because of the strong aspects of Drama, Comedy, Cinematography, or sheer entertainment value, I find myself thinking about the film long after it’s over, and the more I think about it, the better it gets, and upon multiple viewings the film only gets better and better.

I hope this document serves as a warning or a comfort to some, to keep your radars up, your wits sharp, and to increase your awareness against all those George-Lucas-style swindlers out there that insist on stealing your time and money and prey on those who love the prequels, novels, comics, TV shows and cartoons that these new films are based off of.

And if you’ve fallen victim to the Phantom Menace Effect, you are not alone, feel better about yourself, watch more of the old movies you love, appreciate them, whether because they make you laugh or make you cry, and know that you were not the only one fooled by all the propaganda and publicity for a new exciting film.

An Amazing Pop-Culture Artifact

This letter originally belonged to Sim Sandwich's Grandmother. After she passed away he discovered it and was surprised at how well it was preserved for being nearly 70 years old.

A 1938 rejection letter from Disney to a woman looking for a job as an animator. Printed on gorgeous Snow White stationery, the letter lays out the company's policy in brutal detail:
Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to the directions.

Roman Coppola's Fist of Oblivion

January 10, 2009

New Links!

Glenn Vilppu's Complete Notes on The Foundations of Art & Design

Andrew Loomis’ Complete Guide to Illustration

Phil Straub's Notes on Composition

Best Color Design Resources & Tools

Japanese version of "Faster, Pussycat Kill! Kill!"

A HitFix.com Exclusive: An Open Letter From 'Watchmen' Producers - Posted by Drew McWeeny

I recently heard from Lloyd Levin, one of the producers of this year's hotly-anticipated adaptation of "Watchmen," and he wanted to get in touch regarding the ongoing conversation about the legal battle that's been raging back and forth between Warner Bros. and Fox.

There's been a lot of virtual ink spilled in the last six months about the rights and the wrongs of this lawsuit, and it all boils down to two separate agreements. There's a 1991 quitclaim that was issued by Fox, and then a 1994 turnaround agreement, and when the federal judge issues his verdict on January 20th, those are the two things he'll be considering.

But is that enough?

Does that really answer the issue?

Lloyd told me that his own feelings on the matter were complicated, and the more we spoke, the more it became apparent that he had something he really wanted to share with people, some point he needed to make in this larger conversation, and so I offered him an unfiltered venue in which to do so. The following is an open letter that Lloyd wrote regarding the "Watchmen" lawsuit and, more importantly, the 20-year-struggle to wrestle this project onto the screen.

It's provocative stuff, and I'm glad he decided to share his thoughts. For once, this isn't just empty speculation from the outside, but the opinion of someone intimately involved in the entire thing.

Check it out:

"Watchmen. A producer's perspective.

An open letter.

Who is right? In the Watchmen dispute between Warner Brothers and Fox that question is being discussed, analyzed, argued, tried and ruled on in a court of law. That's one way to answer the question - It is a fallback position in our society for parties in conflict to resolve disputes. And there are teams of lawyers and a highly regarded Federal Judge trying to do just that, which obviates any contribution I could make towards answering the "who is right" question within a legal context. But after 15 plus years of involvement in the project, and a decade more than that working in the movie business, I have another perspective, a personal perspective that I believe important to have on the public record.

No one is more keenly aware of the irony of this dispute than Larry Gordon and I who have been trying to get this movie made for many years. There's a list of people who have rejected the viability of a movie based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's classic graphic novel that reads like a who's who of Hollywood.

We've been told the graphic novel is unfilmable.

After 9/11 some felt the story's themes were too close to reality ever to be palatable to a mainstream audience.

There were those who considered the project but who wished it were somehow different: Could it be a buddy movie, or a team-up movie or could it focus on one main character; did it have to be so dark; did so many people have to die; could it be stripped of its flashback structure; could storylines be eliminated; could new storylines be invented; did it have to be so long; could the blue guy put clothes on... The list of dissatisfactions for what Watchmen is was as endless as the list of suggestions to make it something it never was.

Also endless are the list of studio rejections we accrued over the years. Larry and I developed screenplays at five different studios. We had two false starts in production on the movie. We were involved with prominent and commercial directors. Big name stars were interested. In one instance hundreds of people were employed, sets were being built - An A-list director and top artists in the industry were given their walking papers when the studio financing the movie lost faith.

After all these years of rejection, this is the same project, the same movie, over which two studios are now spending millions of dollars contesting ownership. Irony indeed, and then some.

Through the years, inverse of the lack of studio faith has been the passionate belief by many many individuals - movie professionals who were also passionate fans of the graphic novel - who, yes, wanted to work on the film, but more for reasons of just wanting to see the movie get made, to see this movie get made and made right, donated their time and talent to help push the film forward: Writers gave us free screenplay drafts; conceptual art was supplied by illustrators, tests were performed gratis by highly respected actors and helped along and put together by editors, designers, prop makers and vfx artists; we were the recipients of donated studio and work space, lighting and camera equipment. Another irony, given the commercial stakes implied by the pitched legal dispute between Fox and Warners, is that for years Watchmen has been a project that has survived on the fumes of whatever could be begged, borrowed and stolen - A charity case for all intents and purposes. None of that effort, none of that passion and emotional involvement, is considered in the framework of this legal dispute.

From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

And it's at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

The response we got from Fox was a flat "pass." That's it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie - yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.

From there, the executives at Warner Brothers, who weren't yet completely comfortable with the movie, made a deal to acquire the movie rights and we all started to creatively explore the possibility of making Watchmen. We discussed creative approaches and started offering the movie to directors, our former director having moved on by then. After a few director submissions, Zack Snyder came onboard, well before the release of his movie 300. In fact, well before its completion. This was a gut, creative call by Larry, me and the studio... Zack didn't have a huge commercial track record, yet we all felt he was the right guy for the movie.

Warner Brothers continued to support, both financially and creatively, the development of the movie. And eventually, after over a year of work, they agreed to make the film, based on a script that, for what it's worth, was by and large very similar to the one Fox initially read and deemed an unintelligible piece of shit.

Now here's the part that has to be fully appreciated, if for nothing more than providing insight into producing movies in Hollywood: The Watchmen script was way above the norm in length, near 150 pages, meaning the film could clock in at close to 3 hours, the movie would not only be R rated but a hard R - for graphic violence and explicit sex - would feature no stars, and had a budget north of $100M. We also asked Warner Brothers to support an additional 1 to 1.5 hours of content incurring additional cost that would tie in with the movie but only be featured in DVD iterations of the film. Warners supported the whole package and I cannot begin to emphasize how ballsy and unprecedented a move this was on the part of a major Hollywood studio. Unheard of. And would another studio in Hollywood, let alone a studio that didn't show one shred of interest in the movie, not one, have taken such a risk? Would they ever have made such a commitment, a commitment to a film that defied all conventional wisdom?

Only the executives at Fox can answer that question. But if they were to be honest, their answer would have to be "No."

Shouldn't Warner Brothers be entitled to the spoils - if any -- of the risk they took in supporting and making Watchmen? Should Fox have any claim on something they could have had but chose to neither support nor show any interest in?

Look at it another way... One reason the movie was made was because Warner Brothers spent the time, effort and money to engage with and develop the project. If Watchmen was at Fox the decision to make the movie would never have been made because there was no interest in moving forward with the project.

Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn't exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn't exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.

By his own admission, Judge Feess is faced with an extremely complex legal case, with a contradictory contractual history, making it difficult to ascertain what is legally right. Are there circumstances here that are more meaningful, which shed light on what is ultimately just, to be taken into account when assessing who is right? In this case, what is morally right, beyond the minutiae of decades-old contractual semantics, seems clear cut.

For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim.

My father, who was a lawyer and a stickler for the minutiae of the law, was always quick to teach me that the determination of what is right and wrong was not the sole purview of the courts. I bet someone at Fox had a parent like mine who instilled the same sense of fairness and justice in them.

Lloyd Levin"

But wait... almost as soon as we published this letter, things went "bananas," as the kids say, and more developments started breaking all over the place. Thank you to anyone and everyone who linked to this, even David Poland, who managed to still find a way to spin a letter where I didn't editorialize at all into more proof that I hate Fox.

But I don't. That's the thing. If I simply hated Fox, I wouldn't care what they did. I think that's the single most misunderstood thing about what I've written about that studio over the years. I am a lifelong movie freak, and believe it or not, I do care about the iconography of each of the studios. I love the fanfares at the beginning of movies, and each one means something different to me. That 20th Century Fox fanfare... that was in front of "Star Wars," the movie that chemically altered me when I saw it at the age of seven. And that fanfare... that logo... I took that as a promise that whatever came after would be something special.

So if I'm hard on Fox, it's because I still believe that these icons deserve to be treated well, and all I ever want is to sit in that theater for two hours and see something worthwhile. And, yeah, that means we haven't been communicating at all over the last few years, and that posting open letters is the only way I seem to be able to make any impression at all.

But I'd love to hear a response from Fox. I'd give them the exact same room to talk and the exact same placement on the front page. The cone of silence only works one way here. For now, the only response from Fox has been in this article by John Horn of the LA TIMES.

Meanwhile, Larry Gordon is evidently countersuing, and he wrote a heated letter to the court this week about his own place in the entire affair. The Hollywood Reporter got hold of the letter and posted an article about it yesterday as well.

Update (Friday, 1/9): Here is the official response provided to HitFix by a Fox Spokesperson.

"We appreciate Mr. Levin’s passion for this project, but he has neglected basic facts and legal rulings.

Fox notified Warner Bros. of our rights in this project months before production on the film began -- they chose to ignore our rights on this occasion and several times after that and proceeded at their own risk. Only after having our rights in the film deliberately ignored by Warner Bros. did we take the action of filing litigation in order to have those rights recognized.

Finally, on Judge Feess’ Christmas Eve order, he specifically ruled that WB had been timely notified and that Fox, in fact, had the rights that we’ve always asserted. There is no question of who is right and who is wrong. That has been decided through the litigation that we had hoped to avoid, and we refer interested parties to the court’s ruling to confirm these statements."

So obviously all of this is far from over, and as the story develops, we'll continue to follow it here at HitFix.

Terminator vs. Robocop

Episode 1



Episode 2



Episode 3 Preview

January 08, 2009

County Ghost - Episode 3

Objectified

"Hold it right there, Terminator."

terminator-oh-hello.jpg"Oh, hello, John. What took you so long? I was just preparing us a cocktail. Do join me."
"Alright, but no funny business, Terminator."

Jupiter Eclipsing Ganymede


How hazy is Jupiter's upper atmosphere? To help find out, astronomers deployed the Hubble Space Telescope to watch Jupiter eclipse its moon Ganymede. Although Ganymede circles Jupiter once a week, a particularly useful occultation occurs more rarely. Such an occultation was captured in great visual detail in April 2007. When near Jupiter's limb, Ganymede reflects sunlight though Jupiter's upper atmosphere, allowing astronomers to search for haze by noting a slight dimming at different colors. One result of this investigation was the above spectacular image, where bands of clouds that circle Jupiter are clearly visible, as well as magnificent swirling storm systems such as the Great Red Spot. Ganymede, at the image bottom, also shows noticeable detail on its dark icy surface. Since Jupiter and Ganymede are so bright, many eclipses can be seen right here on Earth with a small telescope.

A Tenacious D Animated Short - By Matt Shepherd

January 07, 2009

Disgruntled art student portfolio



Animation students, take heed; this is how its done.

Best Movie Ever



What more needs to be said? The quote at the end sealed the deal.