Monday, October 31, 2011

The Possessory credit

One of things I dislike most about making films is what is called "The Possessory Credit". And while it's hardly worth noticing for most people, it certainly bothers screenwriters. 

What it is is this;  a title at the beginning (or the end which is becoming more fashionable) which reads: A Film By Harvey Glick". And who is Harvey Glick? Well, I made up that name but this credit is becoming more and more common. And it is always taken by the director.

There's others too, A Film by Martin Scorceses, A Spike Lee Joint, A John Ford Production, A Steven Spielberg Film and many others.

And what the credit suggests, is that the director is totally responsible for every element of the movie. So why does this bother writers so much?

Well, for one thing the director is rarely there when the writer spends days, months and longer to write the screenplay, especially if it's a spec, than have the hired director enter and say it's all his idea.

But then, there's also another factor to take in.

Personally I don't mind the great directors taking this credit, mostly because they have proven to have a unique style unlike your average director. Can you tell the difference between a film by someone you've never heard of, and a film by, say, Robert Altman. 

There's a huge difference. Altman's style is unique and therefore he is entitled to "A Film by". So is Warren Beatty and Brian DePalma and Coppola. They have earned their strips, so to speak and have established a unique style from movie to movie.

And which writer wouldn't want a great director to make his movie, credit and all. 

But where it bothers me is when someone makes his/her first film and uses the credit there. They just don't deserve it as very few of them have any style at all, rather they are copying ideas they've seen from the great directors.

In other words, you gotta earn that "Film by" credit.

But the new directors coming up are demanding the credit even on really bad movies that nobody sees until they end up on Netflix. While usually it's the gorilla on the film (most often the director) who can negotiate the credit, it's also been give to writers (Neil Simon) and producers (David O. Selznick). And who would deny Alfred Hitchcock taking the credit?

And some directors feel that giving the credit to newbies or hacks demeans the intent of the credit. Other directors feel it discredits the writer and the crew, all of whom "made" the movie.

I even had a chance to put a possessory credit on the 3 movies I directed, but two of them were direct to video and hardly the quality of an Altman film so I said no. On Ghostkeeper, a film I wrote, directed and produced through my company, I chose to use the credit as "A Badland Picture Film" as it was truly a company film.

There's an element of me that gives away credits all the time. On Cooperage, the short film I filmed and co-produced in 1976, I had to leave production for a week and let a newcomer cameraman take my place. I gave him first standing because he needed the credit while I was more established.

You know us Canadians, we just want to be liked.

So watch for those "Film by..." credits and see if that director has done anything remarkable that gives him/her the right to take credit for the entire production.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Catching up.

I'm getting a little behind on the blogs but will pick it up Monday. Having a good week, I'm going to publish my novelization of Emperor of Mars in about a week or so,  waiting for the cover from the artist. 

Also editing a short trailer for Ghostkeeper, which will be released January 2012 as well as beginning to edit a longer video on Georgie Collins, who played the part of the "Old Woman" in Ghostkeeper. The short version can be found here on Materials and I had enough material for a half hour so am going to cut it for television in Canada. 

Georgie, now 86, is the grand dame in Alberta and I thought she'd really like the idea of leaving a legacy behind. I'll get photos and other materials as well to cut into the video.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haute Travels Beauty Presents Sam Fine

Hosting my very first Haute Travels Beauty event featuring Sam Fine has been the highlight of the year. After picking the perfect team and bringing Mr. Fine on board everything fell into place. I’m a story teller so making sure that the event offered an experience was a priority. Every girl left with her own unique story after getting personal time with the man they most admire in the makeup industry, Mr. Sam Fine. He was engaging, smart, witty, but most of all authentic. He was the perfect complement to a dream come true.

I’m also happy to say that we raised awareness for Living Water for Girls among those in the beauty industry. This is an amazing organization that works to help little girls who look like us escape the world of child sex exploitation and trafficking. It’s my mission to bring the worlds of beauty and philanthropy together to make a difference… and be a Force of Beauty because being pretty is not enough.

For all the girls and guys who came out to support Haute Travels Beauty, I’m excited to have made some of your dreams come true. I’m not a beauty industry insider-but rather a girl who likes to play with makeup. It was very special for me to have you girls say, “Thank you for what you’re doing for our industry.” I’m humbled by all of your support… particularly San Tara and Jennifer who Tweeted, posted info on Facebook and emailed their friends the information about the beauty seminar… and I’ve never met them! But, they are the kind of friends that every girl should have support and invest in her goals, dreams and desires.

I’m not sure what the next Haute Travels Beauty event will look like but it will be HAUTE! My team of dream makers will be there to make sure that everything goes off perfectly… thank you Mary, Ernest, Sam, Robin, Lori, Gwynnis, Jayda, Nubia, Lydia, Crystal, Lisa, Connie, Yvette and my mom for all of your support!

Will you join our next Haute Travels Beauty event?

My Haute Beauty Team

My beauty dream team includes industry legends… Celebrity Makeup Artist Sam Fine was on hand to teach makeup technique and offer business advice to the girls attending my Haute Travels Beauty seminar on October 16th at the beautiful Ernest Washington Studios. When Sam touched my face, I almost died! I’ve admired his work for so many years; I could never have a beauty event without his genius.

Hair whisper, Robin Groover has turned my sultry brunette tresses into haute, healthy hair that’s all natural. You’ll hear more about my hair evolution in the coming months as we work on various projects promoting healthy, natural hair. You can also follow my tweets (@hautetravels) from my salon visits to Too Groovy where hair magic happens.

And Celebrity Makeup Artist Gwynnis Mosby transformed my face into a work of art with her brilliant work. I’m working on scheduling a makeup class at her makeup academy where she promises to teach me how to create the Haute Travels Smokey eye and nude lips in just the right shade of pink! Click here to learn more

Who would you want on your haute beauty dream team?

Living Water for Girls Ambassador in Hollywood

This year has presented amazing opportunities for me to make a difference. Just a few months ago, I signed on as an Ambassador for Living Water for Girls, a program designed to provide rehabilitation services and a safe home for American girls who have been victims of prostitution and sex exploitation.

Last month, I was asked to accompany Living Water for Girls Founder Lisa Williams to Los Angeles where she was honored by Variety and Lifetime Television during the Power of Women luncheon along with Eva Longoria, Mary J Blige, Annette Bening, Lea Michele, Stacey Snider and Olivia Wilde for their outstanding philanthropic work.

As Ambassador, I worked with the ladies from L’Oreal Paris who brought Lisa Williams out to Hollywood to raise awareness for our cause. The beauty company also teamed up with Designer Judith Leiber who created crystal lipstick cases that 10 celebrities signed for auction with all proceeds benefitting Living Water for Girls
I can’t tell you how much this powerful group of women in Hollywood (and men too) embraced our cause and pledged their support. The heads of studios like DreamWorks and company executives from Skechers Entertainment to various A-list celebrities believe in the work that’s taking place at Living Water for Girls… and want to help.

Please join us in helping to save our girls from sexual exploitation by joining our campaign today!!Campaign

Now that you know about the sexual exploitation of American Girls what will you do?

More photos on my Haute Travels Facebook page!!/pages/Haute-Travels-/136037489758372 

Haute Pedi at The Beverly Wilshire

When in Beverly Hills I can’t help but get in a little glam girl time. The girls over at The Beverly Wilshire invited me in to get a pedicure in their new nail suite. I couldn’t say no… so I made my way to the posh and distinctive spa serving the needs of Haute Travels girls as they jet in and out of Hollywood.

The $90 pedicure took about 45 minutes after a stimulating foot bath and massage… my nail tech filed, buffed and smooth my nails to perfection. During my visit, I checked out the latest mags with a complimentary iPad. It’s the only way to catch up on the latest news in the world of fashion and beauty for guests at the Beverly Wilshire.

When my services came to an end, I spent time sipping champagne on the patio while the pink Chanel polish on my toes dried. It was nothing short of bliss, while I sat above Rodeo Drive contemplating my next move. It’s a haute travels girl life but somebody has to live it!

To learn more about The Spa and nail suite at the Beverly Wilshire visit

Where’s your favorite nail spot?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hotel On The River

Two countries separated by a river. We're beginning our journey from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos. After taking a bus to the border between the two countries, we had to stay the night in a small town called Chiang Khong on the banks of the Mekong River. We weren't too excited about staying overnight because we were anxious to get on the boat and be on our way. 

We arrived at Baanrimtaling in late evening. The guest house is basically a collection of wooden huts on the side of a mountain joined by lots of wooden stairs. In other words, a giant tree house! We got a room with a private balcony and a river view, but it was already dark when we checked in. 

The next morning Yuriy woke up awfully early to snap some photos of the sunrise from our balcony. Not so easy to drag me out of bed! Lucky for me, one wall of the room opened up completely so I could enjoy the incredible river view from bed. It was magical.

The place turned out so neat that we wanted to stay longer than one night! It's one of those places where you don't ever have to leave the property. There's a restaurant and a cozy living room with movies, but mostly, I'd want to curl up on my balcony with a book. Not really a town for tourism, so you won't worry about missing any sights. Looking back, I wish we had stayed one more day.

- Julia

Our balcony with a view of the Mekong River at sunrise. That's Laos on the other side of the river.

Yuriy opened up an entire wall so our room joined the balcony. Brilliant design.

Other rooms of the guest house seen from our balcony.

Slow boats traveling down the river. We'll be boarding one in a few hours.

Enjoying an amazing sunrise view from bed (through a mosquito net).

Front of the guest house.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Presence and who has it... and who might have it.

It's been told that Marilyn Monroe could go unnoticed a party but put her in front of a camera and something happened. You couldn't take your eyes off her.

Presence is one of those things that you can't really define, either it's there or it's not Cary Grant had it both on and off the screen, when he walked into a room, everyone turned around.

Last night I watched an old western with Jimmy Stewart and Dean Martin and a load of character actors that filled the screen. Stewart and Martin had presence, but so did the supporting cast including George Kennedy and regulars like Dub Taylor, Andrew Prine, Will Geer and Denver Pyle. Did I mention Raquel Welch? Even she had my attention. Forget Reese Witherspoon, give me a real woman like Raquel.

The story was a classic chase plot, but shot on great locations and with a cast like that, I didn't speed my TiVo at all. Which I do with a lot of movies now. But it wasn't the story that kept me interested. It was the actors.

You watched them.

They had presence, they looked like they had lived life, not growing up in the suburbs and hanging out at the mall.

I also watched the new Hawaii 5-0 finally, or at least 10 minutes of it. The lead actor is completely devoid of any presence at all, given that the original actor Jack Lord, just oozed presence. And he looked like a tough guy. The new version has Scott Caan, son of James Caan, who's left to offer some presence. He's not as good as his old man, but he tries his best and manages a bit of presence.

There's a lot of complaints about actors under 40, mostly that they don't seem to have much presence. One of the reasons is that the studio system has been gone for over 40 years. Studios carefully picked who would be a star, and it wasn't always because of talent. They would shoot tests of every kind until they found that actor who stood out on film.

Consider that today many actors have very little training and often none, given these reality shows. There are exceptions; Matt Damon has it, Ben Affleck doesn't. I don't get Ryan Gosling at all, and Edward Norton and a dozen others. They all look the same, "the little lesbians" as a feminist quoted a few years ago.

Now consider this; the studios are re-doing every movie older than 10 years ago in the hopes that lightning can strike again. The Fog came and went, so did Captain America and the Green Hornet, and I still didn't understand The Green Lantern with another actor, Ryan Reynolds who has the presence of a wall.

George Clooney has presence on screen and off, I saw him once briefly and you can't help but look at him. But he's 50. Johnny Depp is one of those inbetween guys,  but he still looks like a kid. And I still think Leonardo looks like he's dressed in his dad's clothes. 

So let's assume that there aren't any great actors anymore, just mediocre ones. The studios are redoing old movies so what is next?

What about putting an old face on a new body?

If you remember Brad Pitt in the movie Benjamin Button, you'd remember how he aged from baby to old man. It worked well.

So what if you could create Jimmy Stewart again, or Cary Grant or even Bogart. After all they were "stars" in the true description. What if you just added Bogart's face. Or Marilyn's?

Al Pacino starred in a movie called Simone, about a digitally created woman who rebels against her creator.

A week ago a friend of mine said that he knew an actor who was called to a studio for some tests. They were "tests" being made by two of the biggest directors in Hollywood. That's all he would say. Sort of. He couldn't say anymore except that it could change the business.

What if they created the old actors again with the amazing technology from Avatar, we could have movies again featuring a young Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford and of course... Marilyn. Maybe she gets to finish her last movie after all.  Imagine Sean Connery's young face on the next James Bond film.

Think it's crazy?

Those avatars looked pretty damn good. And that was almost 3 years ago. Imagine what they can do now. Or tomorrow?

Why do you think the Screen Actor's Guild wasn't happy with Avatar?

At least they can't create a software that can write screenplays.

Or can they?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bus Ride - Headed For Laos

Time to leave Thailand. But not to worry. We'll be back... not once, but twice (anyone who visits Thailand comes back). 

We took a 7 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai to the Thai border town of Chiang Khong. It wouldn't have been so bad if the seats weren't so tiny and so plastic. There was a group of 8 big athletic Australian dudes on the bus with us, and the poor guys were squeezed into the tiny seats like sardines. And there was no AC. They were entertaining to watch/listen to, but even better was the golden sunset out the window. 

We had to spend one night in Chiang Khong before crossing the Mekong River into Laos the next morning. We thought it'd be a chore to stay a night in some tiny city, but after we saw the place, we realized that we wanted to stay longer than one night! The hotel on the river was pretty spectacular. Those photos next.

Except for the first shot, the rest were taken out the bus window.

- Julia

Seating for monks at the bus station (not sure why they're separate).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Awards and awards...

 So what's a parking lot got to do with this blog?

The LA Times carried a story yesterday about an awards ceremony for location managers who find locations for movies.

My first reaction was; more awards shows? And this time for location managers? The Academy awards are already losing the audience and no doubt part of it are the dozen or so awards that precede the Oscars.

You have the Foreign Critics awards, the SAG awards, the DGA awards, the Spirit Awards and least noticeable, the WGA awards. Toss in a few others and there's just too many award shows that by the time the Oscars roll by, you've been beaten into the ground by hundreds of acceptance speeches. 

All of the Academy awards are creative, be that writing, directing, filming, sound, etc. You know the categories. Each of them features a person or persons who create something, be it words, sound, CGI, music, whatever. But the key word here is create.

Location managers find locations. You need a house that looks spooky, it's the location manager, you need a street blocked off, that's the location manager. They look for locations that both the screenplay and the director dictate.

Is the job creative? Well, the definition of creativity in Websters is this: 

"To cause to come into being". 

A writer creates a script, a director creates a movie, an actor creates a part. And so on.

So does finding a warehouse to film in a creative job? One can certainly argue that by finding a location the location manager is creative. But once the location is arranged a whole team of designers roll in and create whatever the location is supposed to be; a warehouse or a bad guy's laboratory or even Mars, as what the production designer did for a screenplay I rewrote called Escape from Mars.

You know what the most important thing is to a location manager? More important than even the location sometimes?


A friend of mine who does locations in Vancouver on big movies says he salivates everytime he passes an empty parking lot. Why? Because a location with no parking is no good. Not only do you have trucks and vans and big semi's, but you also have crew vehicles, people drive to the location and need parking.

How do I know this?

Because I was location manager on a feature a few years ago. I was helping out a friend who was producing a movie and I said I'd help out. After all, how hard is finding a location?

It wasn't long before I realized that not only did I have to find the right location, I had to find parking close enough that it wouldn't take away filming time by having to transport crew back and forth from a mile away.

Now you'd think parking lots are everywhere. But they're not and it took me a week to figure out the best places: 

Schools and churches.

Churches are better because they're only used on week-ends and they can use the extra money. Schools are harder and more expensive because they belong to the city.

A parking lot at a church could go for $500 too $1000 if you plead with them, school parking is upwards of thousands of dollars because you need $2 million insurance policies. And if you want to film at a city school... well, get ready to shell out a lot of money.

I spent as much time looking for parking lots as I did for locations and you learn to deal with people as everyone out there thinks movies have tons of money to spend.

So, back to the awards.

The location manager's awards ceremony was helped by the location representatives for the city and state and even other states as a reward of sorts for the location managers finding locations for their movies. These government agencies depend on location managers finding locations in their district, city, state or country.  So the awards are slightly biased in that each side needs the other.

And there are other film categories that want to be included in awards, especially the oscars. That's the casting agencies who cast actors for movies. Again it's a somewhat unclear category, a good actor comes to a casting agent who casts them but is it a creative thing? Ultimately the final choice is made by the director and producers.

I guess that these points can be argued back and forth but I'm reminded of something a friend of mine once said; 

All you really need to make a movie are three things; a script, an actor and a camera. 

Sure, you have a 10-person crew or a two hundred person crew, but the only ones really making the movie are the writer, the actor and the cameraman. Okay and maybe the director but even there, the director can also shoot the movie.

BTW the winner of the Location Manager awards was a woman who was about to lose a location because of safety reasons and she managed to get a crew to clean it up and pass the city ordinances so the movie could be filmed there.  

Chiang Mai Night Market

The Chiang Mai night market was an amazing experience. We hopped on our scooter and headed over there before the sun set, and I'm so glad we did. We got to watch the area transform into a bustling market... in record time. As soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, scooter after scooter pulled up and unloaded merchandise and produce. Some of these scooters had so much stuff on them you could hardly see the driver. While some were selling clothes and other goods, there was one street packed with nothing but street food. Walking down this street was fun, seeing all the different foods being prepared and cooked/grilled/fried. A little scary too. We either weren't hungry or didn't have the guts to try anything (except some fruit). There were rows of tables stuffed with locals eating, drinking, chatting, laughing-- it looked like a great way to finish off the day. 

We didn't see many (if any) tourists while we were here. Highly recommend checking it out when you're in Chiang Mai.