Film School Even For The Disadvantaged

One of my favorite things about the world of film is its availability to just about anyone. There are movies to entertain anyone, from small children to adults of all kinds. Film genres embrace horror, romance, comedy, drama, and many combinations of these. Whether you enjoy cutting edge drama, classic films, or a gentle romance, you can find a film to enjoy.

Almost anyone can get involved in the world of film, too. As long as you have the passion, the talent, and the work ethic, you can find a job in the film world. Obviously, acting roles are reserved for those who possess a certain in born talent for adopting fictional roles, but there are many other jobs out there. Stage hands, producers, directors, writers, prop assistants, makeup artists, cameramen, and more can be filled by people of all stripes who receive the right training and put in enough hard work.

The problem is that there are, at times, obstacles that prevent people who dream of entering the film world from receiving the training they need to excel in their chosen role. One of the most common of these obstacles is finances. For instance, if someone is unable to pay for cosmetology school, they will never be able to become a makeup artist for the next feature film. Or, if someone cannot afford to attend film school, they can never pursue a career in film production.

Single mothers, more than many other groups of people, face the financial pressures that make it difficult to pursue any career dream, including the dream of participating in the film world. These women must provide for their families without the support of another person who can contribute emotionally, physically, or financially to the operation of the household. Often, they are forced to take whatever job they can find just to make sure they can feed and clothe their children.

This is why financial assistance for single mothers, and scholarships for single moms, is so vitally important. In addition to help such as welfare, food stamps, or WIC, these single mothers often need financial assistance and scholarships that will help them to go to school to learn new skills and pursue jobs that will help them to support their families in a career that they enjoy.

This point was driven home to me when I met a woman named Jeanine while I was at film school. When she divorced from her husband, she had to move from being a stay at home mom to a working mother, and was only able to find a minimum wage job. Her move out of poverty only occurred five years later when she received a scholarship to attend film school, where she was preparing herself for a career making movies.
In my opinion, anyone, including single mothers, who has a passion and vision for film should be allowed to pursue their dreams. This is why I support and advocate for any program that offers the kind of assistance women need to make it possible for them to pursue their film dreams.

Depression’s Toll: Robin Williams’ Suicide

Obviously, I love film. I have spent the past decade studying, practicing, thinking about, and writing about film. Through the years, however, I have noticed that the film world is a microcosm for many of the troubles that plague the world in general. It seems as if the film world takes these problems and amplifies them so we can see, through the struggles of our favorite actors and actresses, how many other, non-famous people, struggle as well.

When Robin Williams took his own life in August, I was reminded yet again that depression is one of these struggles.  Consider, for instance, actors and actresses like Heath Ledger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all battled depression at one time or another.  Robin Williams was only the latest, and perhaps most prominent, in a long line of men and women who have lost the battle against the darkness of depression.

Robin Williams’ struggle with depression was a long one that he endured since at least the 1970s and 80s. The darkness that led him to take his life may have been deepened by his diagnosis of Parkinson’s, but had existed at least since the death of a close friend in the 1970s.  It made itself known at other points in his life and film career, and resulted in a number of addictions in the 1970s and 1980s.

When I look at Robin Williams’ life and struggle with depression, I also see the connection that so often exists between depression and struggles with addiction.

 

I’ve written previously on this blog about the frequency with which actors and actresses seem to fall prey to addictions, like marijuana addiction, other drug addictions, or addictions to alcohol. The reasons that many film stars face addictions are varied. What I did not touch on was how often these addictions become intertwined with the presence of depression in their lives.

Robin Williams faced addiction throughout his life. These addictions included struggles with alcoholism and cocaine addiction.  In order to try to overcome his attachment to these substances, he entered rehab several times, most recently in 2014 for help with alcoholism. It is impossible for us to know exactly how his depression and addiction were linked, but it is clear that the struggles were powerful and deep and that his suicide was ultimately a tragic result of being unable to overcome these battles.

When faced with the darkness of depression, sometime it is easier for people to fall into addiction because that addiction can mask the pain that depression brings. It is also possible that addictions give rise to depression. Regardless, we can see through Robin Williams’ life and death that the link between the two is strong, and that although it can be easy to judge others because of their struggles with addiction and depression, we should remember that they are human beings, facing struggles that, unless we have experienced them ourselves, we can never truly understand.

Jurassic Park on Location: Understanding and Enjoying the Hawaiian Backdrop

hawaii

Jurassic Park is a truly classic sci-fi movie. Who can forget the stunning natural views and that terrifying T. Rex? The heart and soul of this movie, however, comes from its stunning, mystical scenery. Set primarily on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Niihau, Maui, and Kaua’i, the filming locations serve as the perfect backdrop for the action packed film.

The scenery, of course, served as a compelling reason for Stephen Spielberg and crew to use the islands as film locations. Hawaii’s breathtaking waterfalls and lush vegetation are an ideal setting for a movie about dinosaurs. After all, we all think of dinosaurs roaming a wild, uninhabited rainforest-like environment, and Hawaii provides just such a location.

Interestingly enough, however, the locations were not only chosen for the views, and were not the setting of the events in the movie. If that were the case, the movie would have been filmed in Costa Rica, where the plot supposedly took place. Instead, the Hawaiian islands were chosen because they offered a more stable, and accessible, location for filming.

In addition, they provided familiarity for Stephen Spielberg, who had worked there in the past and who was therefore familiar with the terrain and filming challenges. The island of Oahu served as a filming location for some scenes because of one of these filming challenges: A tropical storm that made filming on the original location of Kaua’i impossible. In fact, the only truly on location spot for the entire movie was Red Rock Canyon in Montana, where some dig scenes were supposed to have taken place in the movie.

Fortunately for fans of Jurassic Park, you can still visit the filming locations in Hawaii. These locations are truly stunning, with thriving vegetation, breathtaking mountains, and gorgeous trees, and beautiful waterfalls.  When visiting these sites, therefore, plan to have your breath taken away by unmatched beauty, and definitely bring your camera. What you saw in the movie was only a taste of the raw beauty you will encounter when visiting these filming locations in person.

Try not to get your hopes up too high, however, about actually seeing remnants of the film. In addition to a decided lack of dinosaurs, you will also not see much of the film sets left. For instance, the entry gates in the movie are only tall metal poles now, and the helicopter landing area isn’t even available for viewing except by plane.

While you can research your favorite scenes and arrange your own stops at their filming locations, you may find it easier, and more fun, to take a movie tour instead. These tours cover major filming sites not only for Jurassic Park, but also for many other movies. Whatever you decide, however, just make sure you take the time to really enjoy standing in the same spots that you have seen in the movie. Imagine yourself in the middle of a park full of dinosaurs, facing down that crazy Tyrannosaurus Rex, or participating in any of your favorite scenes. The movie will undoubtedly become more alive to you as you stand in the places where it was created and give you an even deeper appreciation for a film you already love.

5 Best Police Movies of All Time

My top 50 police movies of all time, What qualifes these movies as being a police movie? Any movie that features a private eye, police officer or just a modern day lawman as the lead character.  Comedies are also given its due, without Frank Drebin, police comedies wouldn’t be in existent  Feel free to leave a comment if you feel I have totally missed a movie that should be on this list. Without further adieu, my list of the top 5 police movies of all time.

MV5BMTI1MTY2OTIxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjQ4NjY3._V1._SY209_CR0,0,140,209_ (1)1. The Departed

A state cop who infiltrated the Irish gang and a mole within the police organization working for the same Irish mob, race to identify and track down each other before they are exposed to their enemies. ( 151 mins )

Director: Martin Scrosese

Stars: Matt Damon, Jack Nichalson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg

MV5BMTY5Nzg5OTIzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5NDA0MQ@@._V1._SY209_CR6,0,140,209_2. The French Connection

Two New York City police officers in the Narcotics Bureau stumble upon a drug sumggling ring with the French Connection. William Fredkin’s police drama depicts 2 tough NYC police officers trying to intercept a big heroin shipment that is coming out of France. ( 104 mins )

Director: William Fredkin

Stars: Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Gene Hackman, Tony Lo Bianco

 MV5BMTUyMTQ1NjA2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQ1Njg3OA@@._V1._SX140_CR0,0,140,209_3. Chinatown

A private eye hired to to expose an adulterer finds himself in more trouble then he thought. Jake Gittes is a private eye who specialize in matrimonial cases. Hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she believes Hollis her husband, is cheating on her. Gittes tails him and where he photographs Hollis with a young girl and later finds out that he was hired by an impostor and not the real Evelyn Mulwray. When the real  Evelyn Mulway is found dead, Gittes is pushed into a web of lies, deceit and murder.  ( 130 mins )

Director: Roman Polasnki

Stars: Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson, John Huston

MV5BMjA5Njk3MjM4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc5MTE1MQ@@._V1._SY209_CR1,0,140,209_4. No Country for Old Men

Mayhem and Outrage ensure after a drug deal went sour and more then 2 million dollars came up missing in Rio Grande.  In the tough part of Texas, hunter Llewelyn Moss found the remains of many drug traffickers who have killed each other in a drug exchange that has gone bad. Rather then telling the police, Llewelyn decides to take the 2 million he found at the scene of the crime himself. This puts, Anton Chigurh, the psychopathic killer right on his trials trying to retrieve his money. As Llewelyn tries to stay a step a head of Anton, his world starts to turn upside down as he puts his friends and family in danger ( 122 mins )

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Stars: Javier Badem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelso

MV5BMTQwNzg2NDgyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDIxODIyMQ@@._V1._SY209_CR8,0,140,209_5. Dirty Harry

A mad man who calls himself the Scorpio Killer terrorist the city of San Francisco. Inspector Harry Callahan is put on the case to track down, and bring down this crazy menaic. The year is 1971, the city of San Francisco faces a maniac known as the Scorpio Killer who snipes at victims and then demands ransom though his notes that are left behind at the crime scene. Harry Callahan along side his partner Cico Gonzalez  is assigned to track down this mad man and stop him at any cost. ( 102 mins )

Director: Don Siegel

Stars: Andrew Robinson, Reni Santoni, Clint Eastwood

“Deliverance” Movie Review

The movie Deliverance, which is an adaptation of the extremely popular James Dickey novel, first hit the big screen in 1972. John Boorman, director of the film, takes a stab at recounting the grueling emotional and physical journey taken by the four main characters from Georgia. This movie offers some of extraordinary actors and helped to launch the careers of movie and television legends such as Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty.

Deliverance is not only a brilliantly acted and directed, film but also is sure to keep the viewers attention throughout. This story follows four businessmen, Lewis Medlock, Ed Gentry, Drew Ballinger and Bobby Trippe, who embark upon a canoeing trip down the wild and unbridled Cahulawassee River. These four men go onto face multiple situations where they either have to kill, or will be killed themselves. This movie is also not for the faint of heart as it does touch upon very serious real life situations such as sodomy, being held at gunpoint and other sexually related items which are not suited for younger viewers and many viewers today have found the movie to be “obscene.”

Regardless of if one agrees with the content of the film or not, there is no deny the film finds creative and clever ways to tackle taboo cultural items and addresses issues which are often shied away from.  One of the more poignant scenes of the movie occurs when the character of Bobby is sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a pair of wild mountain men. Lewis Medlock comes to his friends’ aid and is able to kill one of the mountain men with a single shot from his bow and arrow, while the other mountain men are able to run and escape. Bow hunting is a very consistent theme which can be found throughout the film and a lot of the archery training and equipment for the movie is credited to Fred Bear and Bear Archery. Bear Archery actually supplied the traditional bows, arrows and all of the archery accessories, as well as had a hand in the actual training and instruction given to Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight on how to properly use the archery equipment before product began.

As the story progresses and unfolds, it becomes clear there are a clash of personalities, egos and even cultures. The story is very well written and allows each character to shine and have his moment in the spotlight, all while displaying the true American culture of this time period. While this movie does portray the south in a negative light, it is important to remember this is a film, and while it does have some cultural and history accuracies, does not accurately portray all people from the south. The book, as well as the film, is simplistic, well written and incredibly evocative. Full of meaning and sure to have one guessing at what comes next, Deliverance is a movie worth seeing and of the well deserved recognition is has garnered throughout the years. This powerful, and well acted movie, still packs a powerful punch today and is a perfectly casted cinematography thriller.

Transforming From Andy Dwyer to Guardian of the Galaxy

This year there was a clear winner in the summer blockbuster competition – Guardians of the Galaxy. The latest entry in the Marvel universe ran was number 1 at the box office for most of the summer, proving to be far and away the people’s choice for their favourite hit of the year.

What made it even better was that the film wasn’t just a success in the public’s eyes, it was also getting top reviews from the critics too! Few films recently have walked the fine line between popcorn munching entertainment and intelligent, deliberate film-making. Guardians of the Galaxy achieved this and more! It recently overtook Iron Man to become Marvel’s 3rd highest grossing film of all time (2nd to Avengers and Iron Man 3). It also currently sits at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad at all!

The first 15 or 20 minutes are a roller-coaster of bizarre characters, fantastic new settings and the scene-setting for quite a ludicrous space adventure. It’s important to remember that you do not need to have seen any of the other Marvel films to understand and enjoy the film. There are some linking minor characters but nothing that impacts on the plot of this film.

It will be interesting to see how Marvel ties this film into the others in the next phase of the Marvel universe, primarily because it had a very different feel to the film. It is very self-aware, jokey and never takes itself too seriously. At times, it’s almost like watching a cartoon, and although you need to suspend your disbelief several times throughout, the whole thing is just so much fun that its worth it. From the second Redbone’s Come and Get Your Love plays as Pratt starts dancing around an alien planet, using local rodent life as a pretend microphone – you realise that this isn’t going to be super serious sci-fi fare.

But now to the main strength of the film – its star player, the Star Lord himself. How on Earth did Chris Pratt go from being lovable but chunky Andy Dwyer, fan favourite from Parks and Recreation to being super-ripped leading man of Guardians of the Galaxy. And more importantly – can a normal human achieve such change!? Pratt lost the belly and found those abs in just 6 months. It seems impossible to me!

The film is full of special effects, explosions, talking trees and humanoid racoons, but you’ll be surprised to hear that Chris Pratt’s abs are 100% genuine. Chris has done a few interviews with Men’s Fitness and other magazines, describing how he made the transformation. Needless to say, it sounds like a lot of work. We have done some of the work for you and assembled a short list of everything you will need.

1. 6 months with no other commitments (i.e. no work, no family)

2. No more beer or fatty food.

3. A personal trainer.

4. An extensive set of weights.

5. An elliptical training machine.

6. The pressure of being leading man in next summer’s biggest movie.

Hmm, that sounds like a lot of work. On second thought, I’ll just stick to being an audience member. More popcorn? Yes please!

Kim Kardashian’s Beauty “Secrets”

As you may know, Kim Kardashian has made a recent film debut with her supporting role in the 2013 movie “The Temptation”. I was watching the film and admiring Kim’s exceptional physique and skin, wondering what were the secrets to her beauty. Then I remembered: in this day and age, there are no secrets anymore! So I started Googling and watching re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians to learn the truth. All was made clear after a few hours of research and terrible television.

As I learned on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it turns out that one cosmetic procedure that Kim does regularly is laser hair removal. The show featured her and her sister, Khloe, attending one such session at the Laser Away clinic in Los Angeles, CA. They attended for a session of laser hair removal on the legs and bikini area. Though it was Khloe’s first laser hair removal treatment, her big sister Kim has a well-publicized history of using laser light to zap her unwanted hair.

“I am Armenian, so of course I am obsessed with laser hair removal! “Kim told Allure’s for its September 2010 issue. “Arms, bikini, legs, underarms– my entire body is hairless. ”

Most people wouldn’t ever consider having their laser hair removal treatments broadcasted on cable television, especially not their bikini area. But not Kim and Khloe! They bare all in the episode while offering interesting commentary on the state of affairs down below:

“You have a better, like, looking vagina than I thought, ” said Kim.

“What? What did you think my vagina was going to look like? ” Khloe responded.

“I don’t know, I never looked at your vagina, ” said Kim. “I thought it was, like, a shaved, rashy vagina. ”

Awkward conversation aside, laser hair removal seems to be working in getting Kim smooth and hairless! Seems pretty effective, definitely something to think about for those of us with unwanted hair.

As you might suspect, this episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians wasn’t the first time the sisters’ personal experiences with cosmetic treatments were aired for all to see, although it seems that it was Khloe’s first time under the laser. Kim’s blog back in 2008 featured a post on how she was undertaking a Velashape, which is a treatment which targets cellulite. Like the laser hair removal, her treatment was also featured on another episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Although not confirmed as the laser hair removal and Velashape treatments, Kim has been suspected of both butt and breast implants. Kim also featured the time she got Botox on her reality show, to which she got a very bad reaction. That didn’t stop her, and she openly admits to receiving regular Botox treatments to keep those wrinkles at bay.

So there you have it, we can make some definitive conclusions about Kim’s beauty, and it does seem as though she is getting some help with her looks! If you’re interested in seeing Kim’s facial evolution over time, there are tons of websites featuring the dramatic changes from before she came onto the scene as a celebrity to now, when she became the Kanye West’s wife. Here is one of my favs: Kim Kardashian’s changing face.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Actors

philip seymour hoffman

When Philip Seymour Hoffman died earlier this year from a drug overdose, it sparked quite a bit of discussion about addiction: Its causes, consequences, and potential treatments.

I think this discussion is a vital one for anyone involved in acting or filmmaking. The fact is that addiction is a major problem among actors. Hoffman wasn’t the only one who suffered, and died, from it. Other notable actors and actresses who struggled with drugs, alcohol, or both, include Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan, and Johnny Depp. Actors afflicted by addiction also often struggle to make rehab stick, relapsing again and again.

It seems to me that there are a few reasons that actors in particular are prone to abusing drugs and alcohol. First off, actors are prone to the very same types of problems that everyone else is. They are just as likely to fall prey to the seduction of alcohol or drugs as anyone else. When faced with the excess of money, freedom, or power that often accompanies a successful acting career, however, they can become more capable than the general public of pursuing their addiction.

Actors also tend to possess a sensitive, creative, personality that, while making them compelling on screen, also makes them more vulnerable to addiction. Upon such a personality, the stresses and emotional upheavals of life can wreak such havoc that the escapism provided by addiction becomes too alluring to resist. This escapism can become even more appealing when the actor experiences dissatisfaction with the more important aspect of his or her life: The acting. Hoffman himself described this kind of dissatisfaction as a factor in his own addiction.

The stresses and emotional upheavals of life also tend to be greater for actors and actresses. The very nature of acting puts the actor in front of others, where he or she is expected to literally perform. Well-known actors face even more pressure to succeed, to set good examples, and to please the public. If these stresses become too great, they can force the actor to look for release somewhere else. Unfortunately, the most effective form of escape often looks like a liquor glass or painkiller.

Finally, being famous can itself be addictive. If performing or being well-known becomes a driving force in the actor’s life, then he or she desires the powerful feeling of fame all the time. Whenever they lack this feeling, either when not performing or when falling away from the public eye, they may seek those same feelings through drugs or alcohol. While drugs and alcohol cannot provide a lasting replacement for the high of fame, they can dull the loneliness or uncertainty the actor faces when not performing or not receiving public accolades.

Fame itself can also lead actors and actresses to perceive of themselves as free from the normal constraints faced by other people. Child actors, who never experienced the same limits and boundaries as their peers, can be especially prone to perceiving themselves this way. Feeling free of these constraints, feeling powerful, can delude the actor into believing that they can handle drugs and alcohol without consequences. Just look at Justin Bieber!

My Film School Experience: Los Angeles Film School

film school

Filmmaking is a passion of mine. While I will probably never become the next Stephen Spielberg, I love trying to bring the beauty, intensity, or passion of compelling storylines to life on camera. The more I can learn about this process, and the more I can use this knowledge to understand a really good film, the happier I am.

Several years ago, I decided to pursue this passion a little more deeply by attending the Los Angeles Film School. I hoped to gain the skills necessary to try to enter the filmmaking field, and also just enjoy being immersed in filmmaking 24/7. I had researched what the top film schools were and made the decision based on quality and proximity to my home in Los Angeles, CA.

Filmmaking school was both better and worse than I had expected. In one way, it was one of the most challenging, and exhilarating, times in my life. There really is no way to describe how rewarding it was to finally be able to start learning exactly how to make a great film. The closer I could get to the actual act of making a film, the happier I was.

As a result, I especially enjoyed certain classes that emphasized actually doing what we were learning. For instance, some classes allowed us to run movie sets or practice what the teacher was preaching. Whenever lectures and theory took a backseat to actually immersing myself in the job, I felt that I was really gaining skills that I could take with me into future internships or jobs.

This, of course, was also one of the reasons that my time at the school was so challenging. I wasn’t allowed to just come to class and coast by with a few hours of cramming before a major test. I had to actually get out there and do what we were learning. It really forced me to absorb what we were learning in the classroom, engage fully in each class, and do my very best. Which wasn’t always easy, but was always worth it, because I left my classes feeling a little wiser about the whole filmmaking field.

What I did not like about filmmaking school, though, was the brutal competitiveness that permeated most of the student body. I was there to gain skills, of course, but I was also there to have fun. If my skills never translated into worldwide cinematic fame, I was ok with that. Many of my fellow students felt differently. They were very competitive, very driven, and very determined to get to the top of their field. And they often didn’t mind stepping on you to get there.

I disliked the constant competition, especially the intensity I felt to prove myself number one. I love filmmaking, but I don’t feel the need to be the next Stephen Spielberg. This environment did teach me one good thing, however: It showed me that I really was ok sticking with filmmaking as a hobby. And while I couldn’t match the intensity of my fellow students, I did come away more prepared to make movies, more confident in my abilities, and even more in love with filmmaking than I was before.