Warner Bros. Pictures
Pioneered as a device to enhance the stakes of horror movies, found footage filmmaking has become a genre all its own. Far more prevalent in the past decade than ever before, the specific brand of cinematography is often mined for heightened realism and utilized as a means to bring the idea of documenting into the story in question. As Steven Quale, the latest director to take on found footage for his new tornado disaster picture Into the Storm, told Hollywood.com on a visit to his set, "The found footage genre, I think, is a new genre. A lot of people are getting into it now, and there’s different types of subgenres of found footage. [It] might even be ... first person narrative now instead of found footage." Told through the eyes and digital lenses of a family of three (father Richard Armitage and sons Nathan Kress and Max Deacon), a team of meteorologists (Matt Walsh and Sarah Wayne Callies), and a pair of storm-chasing adrenaline junkies (Kyle Davis and Jon Reep), the film banks on the unique opportunities of found footage cinema to deliver its high-intensity story.
Often, it can be difficult to "rationalize" the characters' use of cameras in found footage films.
Producer Todd Garner: "The problem with YouTube — and I don’t blame these people, but it generally is a lot of this: 'Oh my gosh, there’s a tornado! Here it comes! Oh s**t, run!' And [they] usually drop the camera, and you’re like, 'Aw, I almost saw it!' It’s ... close but not right there. So we have one guy whose obsession is to get into the eye ... And then everybody else, just because it’s a movie, is able to stay in it and see what is usually happening when people are running away."
Steven Quale: "There’s lots of cameras because things have changed a lot since the introduction of, say, The Blair Witch Project and found footage. Everybody has a camera! I mean, look at half the devices. Every phone has a camera on it, every camcorder, and there are security/surveillance cameras. The world is full of cameras. So what we have here is a high school graduation. Every parent has camcorders, so now suddenly you have hundreds if not thousands of viewpoints and points of view to actually film this graduation ceremony. Plus you have the professional crew, well it’s actually students doing it that are actually supposed to capture the graduation so now you suddenly have a legitimate, rational reason for all these cameras and because of the technology and the recent events you’re able to do more of that."
Nathan Kress: "The movie is set up, at least from our perspective, as we’re doing a time capsule for the town. So in a way I’m kind of taking it upon myself to document this event that’s going to undoubtedly change the entire course of everybody’s lives in Silverton. One of the other reasons is that the storm chasers kind of recruit me to be a supplemental camera guy and he offers to pay me, which is great for young Trey. So ... for a lot of the action they were able to justify me trying to document everything that was going on."
The role of the camera in found footage filmmaking is complex, as is the actor's relationship with her or her camera.
Richard Armitage: "Each camera becomes a character. There [are] times where my son isn’t in the scene, but his camera is, and I have to talk to him as if he’s there. But it’s a camera operator. So each camera becomes a character. Some of them are surveillance cameras, so you have to know very specifically that you don’t start talk to a surveillance camera like it’s a person. So it’s very unusual. I’ve never filmed like this before. There are no formal set ups, and the lighting is obviously [made] to look like it’s not lit. There’s no such thing as a close up unless Trey or Donnie is doing a punch zoom. But I don’t know what size the shots have been. I always know what lens we’re on whether it’s mid or tight. I’ve not asked that question because I think I actually don’t want to know in this instance because I want it to kind of be captured and found rather than having any control over how the performance is. Which is why it feels like there is no performance. That’s a good thing. It’s a different kind of work; it’s sort of über-naturalism. Although, at the same time, you build your relationship with your camera operator that you can create the illusion [and find the] moment, which does involve that kind of choreography with the camera. Otherwise they’re always on the back of your head as you run away."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Due to the different perspectives and cameras at play in Into the Storm, the look and style of the film varies throughout.
Steven Quale: "What’s interesting about [Into the Storm] is we definitely want to let the audience know that these are different cameras, different people, different styles of cameras ... Our story is very unique in the sense that it’s not just one person and one camera and that’s the whole story. Our film has three different things happening simultaneously. A group of high school kids ... have their own cameras, and one happens to be the head of the audio video club. So he’s really good with the camera so that makes his stuff better than, say, the average person. Then we have just a couple of local people who aren’t quite as good with the camera and that will be a little more sort of messy type of stuff. And then we have these professional storm chasers who are making a large format theatrical movie about tornados, so they are professional filmmakers with state of the art, high-resolution cameras. So their goal is to try to film the eye of the tornado, the shot that nobody has ever seen in this amazing cinematic manner. So because we have a group of a half dozen or so professional storm chasers who are professional camera people, we have a great opportunity to make it more cinematic and engaging. So my cinematic style will be reflected in those storm chasers because that’s kind of how I’d do that portion of it if I was and I’ve had years of documentary experience having co-directed Aliens of the Deep, the IMAX 3D documentary, I know exactly what those guys make that type of film. So I applied that experience thinking how these guys would act and relate to shooting in a tornado situation."
Todd Garner: "We’re using basically every kind of camera I’ve ever seen on a movie set, from flip phones to GoPros, to these cool Nikon cameras, to REDs, to every format. So I would imagine it’s going to look different. And the way he’s shooting each piece of it ... because the storm trackers have a different way of shooting than the two dips**ts with GoPros. It’s not like Cloverfield with one camera filming the whole thing; it’s many, many, many different cameras. So all of the different characters in the movie have a different shooting style."
Nathan Kress: "I’ve been doing a show on Nickelodeon for five and a half years [iCarly] where I was the camera guy, so I was able to use quite a bit of experience to actually help me out. Some of it’s been a little bit different because there’s been times where with muscle memory... I had been doing that show, and [they] would always tell me hold the camera lower because we don’t want to block your face when you’re on camera. With this, they realized that doesn’t look real, so I’ve had to relearn. Rather than holding it in places so that my face is above or below the camera, it has to be right there if I was actually shooting it. So it has helped and in some ways, [and] it has actually hindered because I’d been doing it for so long and was so in the groove of doing it a certain way."
Of course, there are dangers to the found footage genre...
Steven Quale: "What I was afraid of doing is... some found footage movies tend to ... make the camera so zoomy, so jerky, that it makes you sick, basically. There’s a different sensibility aesthetically for filming something that’s on TV with a small screen versus the large screen of cinema. And when you do the same things, it might look fine on your little monitor, but when you blow it up on the big cinematic screen... I have years and years of experience with large format. It makes you sick. It’s too much. So you have to find a fine balance between that to make it feel real and visceral but at the same time not get the audience sick. So we’ve done a lot of tests and I go up to the monitor and put my face right up to it to simulate what it’s like. I insist on seeing all the dailies projected on a big screen so we can fine tune that balance and make it work."
Todd Garner: "I know that the knock on found footage movies has been the shaky cam, but I’ve worked with directors who’ve shot worse shaky cam that’s not found footage. It doesn’t bother me if it’s done right. But I know that’s the knock on it. It’s too disorienting. [Quale has] been very specific about giving you the feeling and experience of being first person but [using] real cameramen who can actually get a good shot. He’s really being careful about making sure it’s a good shot but also not making it feel like it’s just big cranes."
Naturally, the Into the Storm crew did look back on a few found footage classics in conceiving the film.
Todd Garner: "What triggered [Into the Storm] was I’m fascinated by the found footage idea, or the first person camera footage idea, because I think it puts you in the driver’s seat of the movie like I hadn’t seen before. Originally I wanted to do a found footage alien movie, and then Battle: Los Angeles came out. So I was thinking about it and I think the first found footage I ever saw was either [tornadoes] or Bigfoot. And I’m not really ready to do my Bigfoot movie yet ... Cloverfield and Chronicle both, I think, did a good job of moving [the genre] outside. And I would even say Battle: LA, in a certain way, had that vibe of being a found footage movie ... I think it worked so well in the horror genre because it’s emotionally rooted in things that you see every day and can happen to you. And I think that’s why specifically Cloverfield and Battle: Los Angeles and this are in the same genre, because it’s an extraordinary thing happening in a personal space. It’s not like a found footage movie going to the moon... [but] there was one of those. This is happening in your hometown. Cloverfield, Battle: LA, and now this. So, for me, it’s more of an experiential thing than a genre thing."
Into the Storm hits theaters on August 8.
Apparently the cute photos of kittens and dresses and recipes on Pinterest made men who wanted to share photos of knives and guns and meat feel unwelcome. Because now we have Manterest, for the manteresting things of virtual life!
Women quickly colonized Pinterest, which allows users to “pin” images they like and share them with friends, probably because we’ve been trained so well by our women’s magazines to covet beautiful products. But the predominately female demographic must have made some man somewhere uncomfortable and thus unable to “pin” his fave golf club photos on the social networking site. Surely he will feel better “nailing” and “bumping” those instead, as Manterest allows him to do. That’s how you know it’s for men! That, and the black, wood grain background.
RELATED: Bic's Slimmer, Sparklier Pens Are Made 'Just For Her'
For the record, this is just as ridiculous — and insulting to men — as those ill-fated attempts to make tablets and pens just for women. You know, the ones that use "feminine" color schemes (that’s pink and purple to you) and, in the case of the tablets, come preloaded with apps someone has decided you will like if you have a vagina — like calorie trackers and yoga programs and shopping lists and recipes. (Ugh.) These things sound like jokes, but all signs point to them being earnest enterprises.
Some things — actually, most things — don’t need to hew to the gender binary. And while these things seem superficial and silly, they make a difference: The more we make the world boys-versus-girls when it need not be, the more we imply there’s only one right way to be masculine, one right way to be feminine, and nowhere in between. Guys, you can bring your fishing rod photos, or whatever, over to Pinterest. They’ll look just fine next to the cupcake photos, and who knows — maybe even a lady or two will “like” them.
Hollywood.com correspondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of Sexy Feminism, available now, and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, due out in May. For more information visit JenniferKArmstrong.com.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong
[Photo Credit: Manteresting.com]
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It must be something in the wind... the Santa Anas have officially arrived, bringing with them a gust of guest spots and network deals galore. See for yourself, and take cover!
Gary Cole Shakes up the Veep: Next season on Veep, Selina Meyer might need to come in on a Saturday. Gary Cole has joined the cast for as many as 8 out of 10 episodes as a Karl Rove-like figure named Kent. Real life Karl Rove? Not so funny. Gary Cole's interpretation of Karl Rove? We're betting on hilarious. [Deadline]
Chicago's Fire is Still Burning: Any fire that features a shirtless Taylor Kinney should not be put out. At least that's what NBC decided when it ordered five more scripts for its freshman drama Chicago Fire, after a hefty ratings jump last night. The show was up 20 percent from last Wednesday, giving the Chicago hotties plenty of news to feel good about. Good enough to start removing random articles of clothing, we'd say. Pics, or it never happened. [Deadline]
Chazz Palminteri Goes Blue: He's on a roll! After some prime guest spots on Rizzoli & Isles and Modern Family, Chazz Palmintieri will guest again on CBS' Friday night hit Blue Bloods, as the city's top mob lawyer. Apparently, Palmintieri's character has a long history with Tom Selleck's Frank Reagan. That's all she wrote for now, but you'll find out more when the episode airs next January. [EW]
Nurse Jackie Gets a Lover: No, it's not prescription pills. Edie Falco's recovering addict Jackie will have a new love interest next season, in the form of Rescue Me vet Adam Ferrera. Ferrera will play an NYPD officer, and he'll recur throughout the fifth season of Showtime's dramedy hit. Hmm, wonder how a cop would feel about some of Jackie's former extracurricular activities? [TVLine]
Revenge Makes Another Investment: Season 2 of Revenge has already featured a plethora of special guests, and it looks like this trend will definitely continue. 24 and Parenthood alum Joaquim de Almeida will guest star during the hit drama's ninth episode, where he'll play a wealthy Grayson Global investor named Salvador Grobet. Let's start placing our bets — will Salvador piss off, or help out Emily Thorne? [THR]
Eva Longoria Gets More Love From Universal: Looks like one former housewife isn't desperate to work in front of the camera. Eva Longoria, who is currently teamed up with Universal Television for the upcoming dating show Ready for Love, has signed a first-look development deal with the studio that includes a non-writing, executive producer agreement with her production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. Can't wait to see what she cooks up next! [EW]
SpikeTV Offers $10 Million for Bigfoot: I just can't with this. SpikeTV is offering up $10 million to anyone who can prove that the legendary Sasquatch Bigfoot exists. The network's latest reality show — 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty — will feature teams on a quest to find Bigfoot, and the winner *might* walk away with 10 million dollars... if Bigfoot doesn't kill them first! Just kidding, no one is going to win that money. But a group of scientists, zoologists, seasoned trackers, and “actual Bigfoot hunters” will try their best. Your move, TLC. [EW]
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: DailyCeleb.com]
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UPDATE: In a move of solidarity, other Hollywood studios have agreed to withhold releasing box office numbers this weekend, following Warner Bros' decision to do so yesterday. For more on this story, click here.
EARLIER: Just hours after a lone gunman opened fire at a Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colo., Warner Bros. Pictures announced they will not be releasing box office numbers until Monday. The studio released the following statement: “Out of respect for the victims and their families, Warner Bros. Pictures will not be reporting box office numbers for The Dark Knight Rises throughout the weekend. Box office numbers will be released on Monday." In this unprecedented move, the studio will not release box office numbers throughout the weekend; a practice that is standard for Warner Bros. and most other major studios as well. This highly unusual step will leave it up to reporters and box office trackers alike to cull grosses from studio competitors if such grosses are made available. We are, of course, in uncharted territory in the wake of the tragic movie theater shooting that left 12 dead and many others wounded in Aurora, Colo., and will be on top of the situation as we continue into the weekend. Earlier on Friday, ticket holders expressed reservations to Hollywood.com about attending movie theaters this weekend following the news that alleged gunman James Holmes, 24, unleashed a shooting spree during a midnight screening in the Denver area. Holmes is currently in police custody, and the NYPD — as well as theaters on the West Coast — told reporters police will be securing the areas surrounding theaters for an undetermined length of time. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told the public during a press conference that the shooter "acted alone." More:Dark Knight Rises Shooting: 71 Wounded, 12 Dead Midnight Movie Screening Culture: What Happens Now? Dark Knight Rises Shooting: Will People Head to the Theaters?
The Sept. 11 attacks had no discernible effect on movie ticket sales, according to the chairman of box-office trackers Exhibitor Relations. In an interview with today's New York Times, Paul Dergarabedian observed: "Despite worries that people would stay at home, moviegoing was actually up in the period between Sept. 11 and Dec. 26 compared to last year, with revenues up 5 percent and attendance up 2 percent. It's pretty much been business as usual." Dergarabedian estimated that total box-office sales for the year will reach $8.35 billion versus last year's record $7.7 billion.
Go to Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
The box-office success of such films as Shrek, Jurassic Park III , Planet of the Apes, The Fast and the Furious, with Paul Walkerand The Mummy Returns may make it difficult for big movie stars to negotiate $20 million movie deals, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office trackers Exhibitor Relations. Noting that this year's summer movies will likely set a record without the likes of Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford, Dergarabedian told Wednesday's New York Daily News: "The summer is more about explosions and special effects than acting. ... These [hit] movies have done well on sheer marketing and word-of-mouth. Look at how much awareness there was for Planet of the Apes. People are going to go see that movie regardless of who's in it."
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
Special midnight engagements of The Lord of the Rings attracted fans to theaters across the country on Tuesday--and attracted critical praise as well.
Some fans pre-ordered their tickets, rushing into theaters in droves. Some simply waited in lines that stretched around city blocks. And, some--the die-hard fans--dressed up as wizards and other characters from the film, throwing parking-lot parties that were second only to Super Bowl pre-game romps.
"We have a party going outside the theater," one fan told The Associated Press at a screening in Des Moines, Iowa, wearing full sorceress attire. "I can't wait. There'll be minstrels playing, and my husband is going as Gandalf."
Film critics at both Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly have been equally excited about the movie this past week. Newsweek wrote "the movie works. It has real passion." Entertainment Weekly said that the film possesses an impressive "sense of awe and grandeur."
Paul Dergarabedian, president of movie-industry trackers Exhibitor Relations, believes this positive word of mouth will help The Lord of the Rings become one of the year's top-grossing films. "The core audience for this film reads and they are probably following the reviews very closely. The early buzz and critical reviews have been very strong, so that's a good sign."
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opens wide today.
It's the buzz, not the hype, that is likely to produce the biggest
opening box office ever for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone, several analysts suggested today (Friday). "There is really a
groundswell from the movie-going public, as opposed to just hype created
by the studio's marketing of the film," Tom Borys, president of
box-office trackers ACNielsen EDI, told Bloomberg News. In Canada,
Joanne Fraser, corporate affairs vice-president for the Famous Players
theater chain, told the Toronto Star: "The buzz for this film has
been like nothing we have seen before." Today's Wall Street Journal
forecast that the box office will be driven by the "ferocious
loyalty" of the Potter fans. Many of those fans lined up at
theaters Thursday night to be the first to see the movie at midnight
screenings. Virtually all were adults (although several brought their
children, presumably impatient fans). Fifty-one-year-old Marilyn Senders
of Plymouth Meeting, PA told the Associated Press: "I loved it. ... I
can't believe it was two-and-a-half hours. It felt like 10 minutes." But
English teacher Suzie Thetard of Normal, IL told AP: "I still love the
book more. ... There's just so much more to it. Little things that don't
make the movie bad but enrich the book so much."
Shares in Sydney-based News Corp shot up on the Australian stock exchange on word of the spectacular performance of 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes at the North American box office over the weekend. The $69 million earned at the box office translated to a gain of about $2.58 billion (US$1.34 billion) in News Corp's market value. The film's success -- it was the biggest non-holiday premiere in history -- appeared to offset poor performances by such recent 20th Century Fox releases as Say It Isn't So and Monkeybone, both of which tanked, and Moulin Rouge, which merely disappointed. The studio saw a 34-percent drop in net profit during the company's third quarter, which ended on March 31. Ticket sales for the top 12 films jumped 18 percent to $143.5 versus the same weekend a year ago, according to box-office trackers Exhibitor Relations.
The top 10 films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox, $68,532,960, (New); 2. Jurassic Park III, Universal, $22,542,645, ($124,824,290); 3. America's Sweethearts, Sony, $15,402,622, ($59,105,830); 4. Legally Blonde, MGM, $9,005,364, ($59,843,094); 5. The Score, Paramount, $7,053,201, ($49,139,109); 6. Doctor Dolittle 2, 20th Century Fox, $4,633,601, ($101,223,343); 7. Cats & Dogs, Warner Bros., $4,617,236, ($81,626,437); 8. The Fast and the Furious, Universal, $4,090,275, ($132,482,600); 9. Scary Movie 2, Miramax/Dimension, $2,717,900, ($67,201,319); 10. Shrek, DreamWorks, $1,792,718, ($255,526,280).
Negotiators for actors and producers have decided to step up their efforts to make a deal by next week, when their existing contract expires, Reuters reports. Negotiators have held 14 face-to-face sessions since talks began 39 days ago at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which represents the networks and the studios. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have discussed economic proposals with the alliance. Hollywood trackers have become skeptical over SAG/AFTRA's goal to take talks to the deadline.