glimpses behind the scenes at what creates the magic we experience of film & tv- & other!

Latest

Star Trek: Discovery

 

Can’t wait for Star Trek:Discovery!  It starts September 24 2017 on CBS All Access.  CBS is investing in it as a vehicle for promoting their All Access channel.  From the trailers, it looks pretty good.  http://www.treknews.net/2017/08/08/star-trek-discovery-promo-boldly-go/

 

CBS is starting All Access with one trial week free, $5.99 with limited commercials and $9.99 commercial free for on-demand. Like Hulu it will have all of its prime network series, but including the current season. Frankly I don’t spend that much time watching shows, but I’ll sign on just for Star Trek!

 

by Laurie Lee for TrekNews.net

Star Trek: Discovery was well represented at the Star Trek Convention at Las Vegas 2017.  Here’s a link to the panel with the writers Kirsten Beyer and Ted Sullivan and executive producer Akiva Goldman.  STLV ST Discovery Writers  These guys have serious Star Trek creds!

 

ALERT!!  SAMSUNG SMART TVS CAN’T SHOW CBS ALL ACCESS EPISODES!!

As of 8/14/2017 I’ve spend hours trying to get CBS All Access on my Samsung Smart TV.  I installed the right CBS apps, but get to a message that I need Adobe Flash 10 to view episodes.  Samsung says “Adobe Flash cannot be installed on the TVs. Adobe removed their support on all mobile applications. ”

A workaround? Buy a Roku or Firestick.  Grrrrrrrr
However I can get All Access episodes on my Samsung smartphone and tablet by getting the app:
CBS Full Episodes and Live TV

Somebody at MAC Sure Loves Star Trek!

Costumes and makeup have been big in Star Trek since the beginning – how else to get all those alien and futuristic looks pre-CGI?  Fans chime in, having a glorious time with cosplay (costume play).  STLV50 teamed up this year with cosmetic giant, MAC Cosmetics, both at the Star Trek Beyond premiere at the San Diego Comic Con and at the 50th Anniversary celebration at Star Trek Las Vegas.  Their  exhibit re-booted the whole vendor area with an Enterprise feel.

huge MAC display at STLV50

I posed with Seven of Nine - and can swear that her form fitting suit didn't have a wrinkle in it!Look that this huge display! You’re only seeing a third of it here – the engineering section, complete with “warp core” – and with “Seven of Nine”, an actor wearing the original hideously uncomfortable costume. She posed with us fans and surprised us with scenes from Star Trek Next Generation. She’s a good actress! Stayed in character the whole time. When I posed with her, I asked if the suit was hotter than H…. Seven replied, “It is very efficient” in those unmistakable Seven tones.

Engineering was one of the make-over sections, with artists giving free make-overs to feature the new Star Trek theme line. Yeah, I know. The blue light is hideous for doing make up.  But Nicole did a great job on me. But before I tell about that, look at the rest of their “ship”!

 

Data & Deanna on the MAC bridge

Another third was like the bridge of the Enterprise, complete with Data and Deanna, actors made up with MAC cosmetics who posed with fans and periodically enacted scenes from STNG. In the main hall – The Leonard Nimoy Theater – MAC demo’d make up for their new looks, based on Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. They also showed the layering that created Data’s and Gaila’s skin, how it followed the contour of the muscles with shadows and highlights. Let’s face it, Star Trek fans aren’t generally looking for personal make up tips, but wiggle cosplay tips under their noses and they’ll sit up and listen!

MAC's bridge at STLV50

The third section was the transporter.  You could pose on the transporter pad for photos.    And pick up any makeup you bought.

MAC's Transporter, where cosplay teams can strike poses as they teleport in and out.

MAC’s Transporter, where cosplay teams can strike poses as they “teleport” in and out.

Gaila dancing in the transporter room

Gaila dancing in the transporter room

Actors playing Uhuru & Spock in the transporter room

Actors playing Uhura & Spock in the transporter room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I had to try their transporter effect myself! Cool, eh?

MAC has a new line of makeup with a Star Trek theme

I’m not so much into cosplay myself, but I’m vain as a peacock. I wanted to see what MAC’s new Star Trek line of cosmetics would look like on me.  The make over’s were free – and the lines weren’t overwhelming so I bellied up.

 

Starting the make over...

Starting the make over…

It was fun! Being in the Star Trek worldDay 2 make-over for a few days I threw restraint to the winds, telling artist Nicole to “go for it!” I’m no spring chicken so I held my breath. The starting me is here on the left – and behold! Nicole created magic! Day 2, she went for a dramatic look. Wow, those eyes! Great fun! Thanks, Nicole!

The colors are inspired by Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. By the end of the convention they had sold almost everything they brought. Sorry folks, these won’t be available to the public until fall 2016.

Speaking of make-up – but totally unrelated to STLV –  I found this interesting tidbit about the history of Spock’s hair and brows:  http://www.vogue.com/13461690/star-trek-beyond-spock-hair-eyebrows-history/

Live Long and Prosper!

“The Thing That Star Trek Never Let Go Of Was Hope”

Whoopie's 1st ST Convention

Whoopi’s 1st ST Convention

There seems to be some common spirit that links the people attending the Star Trek 50th anniversary convention being held this week in Las Vegas,  but I couldn’t pit my finger on it.  Whoopi Goldberg did, here at her very first Star Trek convention. Interviewer Scott Mantz asked her , “Why Star Trek? Why are we still here 50 years later?” Whoopi’s answer -“The thing that Star Trek never let go of was hope” – points to Roddenberry’s dream that we could solve our problems eventually and build a society in which all races would participate as equals, with enough resources for all.

The feeling here is exuberant. I’ve meet people who have come to  STLV since the beginning and some here for the first time, drawn by the 50th anniversary.  Many are from the US, but I also met a Brit, an actor from France, a scientist from Spain. Costumes abound – “cosplay”- such as a delightful group in starfleet uniforms who get together to play out different scenarios.

Borg regeneration station

The look of this convention is gorgeous!  The ones I went to in 2009 & 2010 felt a little…well, dusty, worn. In contrast the entire wing of this convention is brightly decorated & full of interactive photo ops. You can pose with a pile of Tribble,  in a Borg regeneration station, coming through The Guardian of Forever, and more.

wp-1470360980487.jpg

Surrounded by tribbles!

me coming through The Guardian of Forever

The Guardian of Forever

 

 

 

 

 

 

huge MAC display at STLV50

Gorgeous MAC display dominated the exhibit area

The exhibit area is lit up with a huge display by MAC – engineering bay, transporter room,  bridge – where Make-up artists do makeovers using the brand new Star Trek inspired products. Plus there are scenes and photo ops with actors representing major Trek characters and a neat transporter effect. (see http://www.startrekmagic.com/2016/08/10/make-up/)

Whoopi had wonderful stories about her experiences – what a wise & delightful person!   I’m very glad I came.  This is a treasure box experience I will long hold in my heart.

“a TINY taste of Beyond”

Michael Giacchino seems to having so much fun scoring Star Trek and other blockbusters! I love how he shares tidbits with his followers.

 

Did that leave a grin on your face?

Here’s another.

Adding the final touches on our last day of recording for Star Trek Beyond…

A post shared by Michael Giacchino (@m_giacchino) on

 

It was a delight of watch him with the San Diego Symphony at an outdoor showing of Star Trek at San Diego Comic Con in 2014.   IMG_20140726_225215325

 

Blast from the Past!

Roddenberry’s company is releasing pieces from their “vault” about early days of Star Trek.  One letter shows some of the considerations in having Klingons as the heavies in the future.   Good heavens! Might we have lost our Klingons???? By this time, 1973, the original series had been cancelled and was entering immortality under syndication.  The animated series started in 1973.

Letter - Klingons 1973 p1

Letter - Klingons 1973 p2

 

 

I wonder what in the guilds meant Klingons had to be “fully humanoid”.

If you’d like to see what else these “vaults” have,  check out “Roddenberry” on Facebook.

The Pendulum Swinging on CGI?

mechanical effects

King Kong with “Practical effects”

CGI 13kong.3.650

                 King Kong with CGI

 

 

 

 

 

A recent article in The New Yorker, “Hollywood’s Turn Against Digital Effects”, claims Hollywood is extolling “practical effects” over CGI. “You could hear boasting about “real” sets and practical effects in the hype around nearly every one of last year’s non-Marvel blockbusters.”  Fury Road led the pack with its stunts by real people swinging on real poles mounted in real cars.

There are a number of problems with CGI, aside from showing unrealistic events.  The economics are deadly – the CGI company that so brilliantly created Life of Pi went bankrupt even as the movie got an Oscar. (See my article on this.)  It’s hard on actors who have to react to empty blue screens as though something profound is happening.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the magic of CGI!  It engages my imagination in a way that’s hard for physical effects to do, although 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968) certainly managed.  But the emphasis on CGI has gone overboard.  I’ll be glad to see some balance.

For the New Yorker article, click here.

I was also fascinated by the history of physical vs CGI effects in a two part article about how accustomed we get to the spectacular. Check it out:  CGI and the Banality of the Incredible by Bill Mesce and Ricky Frenandes.

GoT: Prop dragon vs CGI

GoT: Prop dragon vs CGI

UPDATE:  A friend just posted this link which lets you swipe to see the difference between what was shot and the image with CGI – fascinating! http://brightside.me/article/17-favorite-movies-before-and-after-visual-effects-64705/

Skydance Productions: Co-Producing Star Trek

skydance-logo-700x300Skydance Productions is an American film and television production company based at Paramount Pictures, with whom they co-produce and co-finance films such as Star Trek into Darkness & Star Trek Beyond.

I first heard of Skydance from a blurb in Variety Magazine’s issue on notable women in the male dominated entertainment business. Dana Goldberg was mentioned as being “Chief Creative Officer”, the title of a job created especially for her. Variety said, “Paramount relies on Skydance to deliver some of it’s biggest pics”. Such as Star Trek. That got my attention. So I explored.

Skydance was founded in 2010 by David Ellison, son of the billionaire CEO of Oracle Corp. He was joined by Dana who had begun her entertainment career as an assistant at Hollywood Pictures. She then spent three years as vice president of production at Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures. From 1998 through 2010, she was a vice president and later president of production at Village Roadshow Pictures.  She certainly has the experience to oversee my beloved Star Trek.

skydanceinterview

                 some Skydance projects

At Skydance,  Ellison and Goldberg have been responsible for feature-length films including True Grit, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Terminator Genisys and Star Trek Beyond. In television, they have produced Manhattan (shot here in New Mexico!), Grace and Frankie (with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda), and the upcoming Condor (based on Three Days of the Condor). Not too shabby!

In a June 2015 interview connected with their Terminator Genisys premiere, Skydance founder David Ellison said, ” We’ve had an amazing relationship with J.J. Abrams, we’re making our 3rd and 4th movie together, and the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry’s franchise is something that we feel the tremendous pressure of living up to that legacy, and very much hope that the movie does that for audiences when they get to see it next year.”

dana_goldberg_p_2013

Dana Goldberg CCO

As CCO, Goldberg oversees all aspects of creative development and production for film and television. While film projects and properties continue to be her primary focus,  Goldberg now also works with the television department.  Television, eh?  One of the questions asked in the interview was if there was a future for a Star Trek TV series.

ELLISON: It’s something that we would love to be involved in. As I’m sure everybody knows, the rights situation given the CBS and Paramount divorce on the Star Trek rights is very, very complicated. The exact status of it is absolutely something being worked on. We would love to be involved, but all to be determined at this time.

GOLDBERG: You’re preaching to the converted. We would love it, both as fans and as people who would want to be involved in the making of them. We would love it. Everything you just said is right. It goes with what we were talking about before with television is you can just take more time to tell very specific stories and it would be fantastic. It’s not something we control, sadly.

Phooey. Doesn’t sound like it will happen soon.
UPDATE!!! 11/2/2015  Maybe Paramount & CBS did get it together! CBS announced a new Star Trek series on their premium channel.  See more here.

David Ellison founded SkydanceDavid Ellison founded Skydance

So what is Skydance Productions – really? How did David Ellison, a man of substantial connections and wealth, come to create the company.  He talked about how Steve Jobs was a mentor.

ELLISON: I had the incredible luxury that Steve happens to my dad’s best friend, so he was like an uncle growing up. …He was a very, very close friend and truly the Thomas Edison of his time, and I was fortunate enough in building this company to be able to talk to him about it throughout the entirety of it. And a story I’ll never forget, because in irony it was actually the day they were launching the second iPhone, we were getting close to closing our deal at Paramount with Skydance, and I told Steve I wanted to talk to him about it. He said ‘why don’t you get on a plane and fly out here tomorrow?’ And I said ‘you’re launching the iPhone tomorrow.’ He was like ‘I don’t care. Get up here.’ I sat down and pitched him the entire company, the way we had been pitching everybody else on our fundraising tour, and Steve looked at me in the way that only Steve Jobs can and he goes ‘this isn’t gonna work.’ [Laughs] And I was like ‘alright, why?’ And he said ‘you know the answer, you’re just not thinking about it.’ And I didn’t, I was kind of floored at the moment in time, and he was like ‘look, why does Pixar work?’ He said ‘the biggest mistake everybody makes about Pixar is that they think we were successful because we created 3-D animation, and nothing could be further from the truth. We simply went back to a world where we found out how to make movies better than anybody else.’

.

Steve Jobs on why Pixar succeeded

And he talked a lot about how free agency was created because the golden age of Hollywood was when the studios had a very firm handle on the talent, but because they did not treat them appropriately, didn’t compensate them appropriately, that created the free agency, and we live in the world we exist in now. Steve adjusted that by actually making the talent his partners, and by treating everybody well both creatively and economically, and really changing the model. …he talked about the brain trust, really going to that idea where we had a core group of both executives and filmmakers that we could work with over and over and over again, because any one person can make a bad movie. Some of the greatest filmmakers of all time have made bad films, but when you get a group of people together, five really talented people will usually not miss. It doesn’t mean that on their own that would necessarily go differently, but that was really the model.

From that moment on, we went back and restructured the company and changed it, and re-pitched it to him, and he said ‘that’s gonna work better.’ I was very fortunate and truly blessed to have him as a friend and as a mentor and to be able to work with Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross and Don Granger who are these incredibly talented producers and storytellers at our company and to be able to work with filmmakers like J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird and Chris McQuarrie and Alan Taylor and writers like Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, our company is what it is because of the incredible people that we get to work with.

Sorry, they didn’t spill any details about Star Trek Beyond.  There is an interesting link with Terminator Genisys. It features Brandon Stacy, who worked on the first two rebooted Star Trek films as stand-in and photo double for Spock actor Zachary Quinto. Yum!

Zach & double Brandon

Brandon Stacy & Terminator posters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole interview with Ellison & Goldberg is interesting. You can read it here.

Lessons Learned from The Chair

The ChairThis time last year (2014) I was riveted to “The Chair” on Starz – a semi-reality, semi-competition in which 2 very different first time directors were given similar budgets and a script and access to mentors.  My interest was piqued since one of the mentors was Zachary Quinto, the new Spock and a superb actor. You can see my initial article about it here.

The effects of The Chair are still rippling out. Recently creators Chris Moore and Josh Shader talked about mistakes typical with first time film makers, drawing from their experience with The Chair and other projects.  I have some observations of my own.

Shane Dawson

Dawson has an over-the-top style

Each director had their strengths, which also turned out to be their weaknesses.

Shane Dawson is a YouTube star, with 10 millions subscribers, mostly teens who adore him and his vomit-gag style of humor. He is self-made and self directed. He cast himself as star and directed every aspect. The flip side is that he got very defensive about criticism. Initially he wanted to break into a wider audience, but he ended up with a longer version of a Shane Dawson vid.

Anna collaborates

Anna collaborates

Anna Martemucci describes herself as a New York style indie. She is schooled in screenwriting and has done a number of shorts and a feature film with her husband Victor, brother-in-law Phil, and friends. She’s more collaborative and more comfortable getting feedback, but the flip side is that she depends a lot on Victor and Phil. People associated with her movie said it felt like there were 2 or 3 people directing, not one.

I assumed from the beginning that Shane would “win” in spite of assurances that popularity wasn’t the only criteria. And he did.  That he could deliver an audience of 10 million was probably a big factor in Starz signing on. Anna had personal connections – she and Victor are long time best friends of producer Zachary Quinto. In the film making world I hear that personal connections count but, as this “competition” showed, they don’t trump the dollar power of a big following.  One surprise was that Anna didn’t realize this and is still feeling she was set up, a pity since it gave her an experience and exposure as a director she otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.

"ZacharyQuinto is a gentleman and a scholar_ He wouldn't swear in front of our little brother_ Thx for coming Zach"
“ZacharyQuinto is a gentleman and a scholar_ He wouldn’t swear in front of our little brother_ Thx for coming Zach”

I was as interested in the mentoring aspect as I was in the differences in the directors. Shane’s initial mentor was Zachary Quinto, a total mismatch.  Shane’s vocabulary is mostly expletives, whereas Zach, in public at least, is very conservative. At a presentation with him in Salt Lake, he wouldn’t even share his favorite cuss word because “there are young people in the room“. Zach’s attempts to get Shane to make a more sophisticated approach fell with a thud. Oil and water.  Also Zach wasn’t physically present much since he was shooting Agent 47 in Berlin during The Chair.

Corey was supportive

Corey was supportive

To the rescue came Zach’s business partner, Corey Moosa. Corey’s style was to support Shane’s vision, rather than trying to improve it. He even lent his cute backside to a mooning scene. So Shane was more open to listening to Corey. Throughout, Corey was superb at gentle guidance. Some interesting lessons were here for those who hope to influence others.

Star Trek on TV??

UPDATE 11/2/2015: A new Star Trek TV series will start Jan 2017 on CBS All Access.  Is it Gummelt’s? No idea!  For more see here.

Oh wow! I may hold my breath or at least cross fingers and toes, hoping for this one.

“According to Trekkie Michael Gummelt, he has officially been asked to come in and formally pitch a new TV series based on his own fan-creation Star Trek: Uncharted:

“I can now officially announce that I do, indeed, have an invitation to come pitch Star Trek Uncharted at Paramount this summer! As far as I know, this is the first time a fan (not an established industry insider) has been invited to pitch a Star Trek TV series. This is, obviously, extremely exciting and I’m doing my best to get support for it from industry professionals. One of my concept cast members has read the script and expressed interest in supporting it, which is fantastic!”

For more on this, go here: http://www.latino-review.com/news/star-trek-returning-to-tv-possibly-on-the-pitch-of-a-trekkie

Or go directly here for a taste of the concept: http://www.startrekuncharted.com/

On TV! Maybe

On TV! Hopefully

 

#SpockDoc Kickstarter

Spock & Spock - Quinto & Nimoy

Spock & Spock – Quinto & Nimoy

I love Kickstarter projects! They’ve been a way that folks like me can participate in creating the magic – and here’s one I can’t pass up!
For the Love of Spock – a documentary film!  By son Adam Nimoy. With Zachary Quinto narrating!

I’m on board – how about you? Spread the word on twitter with the hashtag #SpockDoc.