Idea Grave
IdeaGrave Podcast - Ep04 

Podcast Episode 03

Explicit, long format podcast. Conversations between Toronto indie filmmaker Jesse Yules and his friends.

This week: Spoilers for every great television show of the past 10 years, how to quit smoking weed without going insane, shitty jobs, big budget film making and high park bathrooms.

Postcast Episode 03

Explicit, long format podcast. Conversations between Toronto indie filmmaker Jesse Yules and his friends.

IdeaGrave Podcast - Ep02 | Mike Juneau

Podcast Episode 02

Explicit, long format podcast. Conversations between Toronto indie filmmaker Jesse Yules and his friends. Guest: Mike Juneau is an independent video director in Toronto. He is best known for his work with Tokyo Police Club and his Live in Bellwoods concert series.

IdeaGrave Podcast - Dark Knight Rises (Fan Commentary)

Podcast Episode (Beta) 

Explicit, long format podcast. Conversations between Toronto indie filmmaker Jesse Yules and his friends. This week audio commentary for the disappointing Dark Knight Rises.

IdeaGrave Podcast - Ep01

Podcast Episode 01

Explicit, long format podcast. Conversations between Toronto indie filmmaker Jesse Yules and his friends.

Doing it Live

"I would have been more successful if I’d left movies immediately. Stayed in the theater, gone into politics, written – anything. I’ve wasted the greater part of my life looking for money, and trying to get along… trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paint box which is … a movie. And I’ve spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with a movie. It’s about two percent movie making and 98 percent hustling. It’s no way to spend a life."
- Orson Welles
Welles’ warning has dissuaded very few filmmakers. Kevin Smith is ready to make a change though. The Clerks director is giving up movies in favour of podcasting. Like Wells, Smith spent years hustling for money to try and turn stories from his life into films. Stories that were, easier and more effectively told by him directly to an audience with a microphone. Smith’s personality, as it turns out, is much more warm, witty and provocative than any of his movies. And so he’s changing. Unlike Wells, Smith is brave enough to put his ego aside, to ignore critics that might see a switch to the internet as being a step down.

It’s conceivable that the internet may flip the production cycle for future movies upside down. In the past a filmmaker would design a personal film. She write a story and take it to a small group of investors that believed in the idea enough that they would fund it’s transformation into a movie. After years of marketing, word of mouth and award wins the film would be considered a success and the masses would seek it out. Spin off novels, Wikipedia pages, fan fiction and Comicon merchandise would follow years later.

But the internet is flipping that cycle. Now it’s web comics like the Professor Brothers that get offered television show. It’s the sketches, the wiki pages, fan fiction, experimental shorts and all the other secondary tribe building elements, published online that lead to bigger deal. The internet allows for simple, text and still image based ideas to flow quickly between people all around the world. Perhaps in this era storytellers interested in making films, should work to build the biggest possible tribes around certain ideas and themes first. If filmmaker can demonstrate to money-men that already have an audience for a project, producing the movie becomes simple.

One more example. After a successful storytelling season at the Moth podcast, Mike Birbigliahis took his insane sleepwalk stories to the large audience at public radios This American Life, then to the huge audience in movie theaters across America, then to unlimited audience online at Netflix. Mike started with just some notes and a microphone. What movie projects could we launch if those tools were all that was needed?


My friend Todd and I planned a follow up to our 2007 Nuit Blanche exhibit Secular Confessional. It was not approved. 

GOTHIC AEROBICS | NUIT BLANCHE 2008 | TODD JULIE AND JESSE YULES

For one night only Toronto’s hip downtown yoga studios will be exposed as the seedy backroom torture chambers they are. We would like to stage a goth-themed exercise class inside one of these studios, combining dominatrix style and attitude with traditional aerobics.  Visitors to the exhibit will see something that goes beyond fitness. They will see the mortification of the flesh.

Three actors will be rear projected on a 8 metre screen within the venue. These actors will be dressed as a dominatrix and her two slaves. They will be wearing a combination of vinyl, leather, black make-up and spandex. The dominatrix’s outfit will be tight and restrictive. Her two slaves wear more functional gothic attire, in order to properly execute the moves for the audience (her off-screen slaves). After her initial demonstration the instructor circles her two slaves, correcting them with harsh criticism and a whip. A brutal mistress, she exacts total submission to her work out plan while forcing her on and off-screen slaves to work progressively faster and harder.  The pace of the workout will be fueled by the dark rhythms of late 80’s and early 90’s industrial and gothic-techno music.

Her interaction with her off-screen slaves will be similar to the popular ‘Nightmare’ board game series from the 1990’s – she will pretend to single out specific audience members, addressing the ‘silly bitches’ upfront or the ‘jailbait’ in the back.  The pre-recorded exercise film will be 25 minutes in length and will run on a loop, seamlessly all night.  The tempo of the music accompanying the workout will get faster as the dominatrix’s demands become greater. Strobe lights will flash in the room as the routine hits it’s full intensity.  

The lighting in the yoga studio will be dim„ similar to a night club. Yoga mats, will be laid out on the studio floor. The walls of the studio will be adorned with images of bondage and other leather-clad dominatrixes, to further draw out the parallels between torture and exercise.

To encourage participation we will seed the event with at least one volunteer per hour, to insure at least one live person exercising throughout the night.  Visitors refusing to join in the work out will be bullied by our on-screen dominatrix.

Gothic Aerobics will be a chance for Nuit Blanche attendees to be more than spectators.  A full-on workout will pump them up for the night and raise questions about exercise in the modern era. The exhibit will run for 12 hours.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Goth culture is synonymous with self –mutilation, loathing and a fascination, if skeptical, with religious contemplation.  It is an ideal presentation style for the considerations we wish to raise with the participants in our event. Superimposing gothic imagery over a traditional workout video, we playfully call into question all the body-image issues that motivate such practices.  Physical fitness is normally presented in media as entirely positive.  This allows participants to engage in the act without much thought about just what they’re engaging in and their reasons for it.  While our installation draws out these hidden aspects and motivations for consideration, we believe a proper questioning and consideration of them will ultimately enrich and enliven the experience.

CREATORS

Todd Julie (www.foveaonline.com)

Todd Julie collaborated with Jesse Yules in The City of Toronto’s 2007’s Nuit Blanche arts festival, with their installation, The Secular Confession Booth.  Todd is a freelance illustrator and painter based in Toronto, Canada. His commercial work has appeared in publications across North America. Todd won Gold at the 2003 National Magazine Awards for ‘Best Spot Illustration’ and Silver at the 2005 Advertising & Design Club of Canada awards in the same category. A series of Abraham Lincoln portraits, completed for The Boston Globe, appeared in Applied Arts magazine’s 2007 awards annual.

Jesse Yules (www.jesseyules.com)

Jesse Yules is a freelance filmmaker and animator based in Toronto.  Jesse was awarded Best New Director by the web community Videos.Antville in 2008. He has done music videos for Owen Pallet, Grizzly Bear and Of Montreal.

My friend Todd and I planned a follow up to our 2007 Nuit Blanche exhibit Secular Confessional. It was not approved.

GOTHIC AEROBICS | NUIT BLANCHE 2008 | TODD JULIE AND JESSE YULES

For one night only Toronto’s hip downtown yoga studios will be exposed as the seedy backroom torture chambers they are. We would like to stage a goth-themed exercise class inside one of these studios, combining dominatrix style and attitude with traditional aerobics. Visitors to the exhibit will see something that goes beyond fitness. They will see the mortification of the flesh.

Three actors will be rear projected on a 8 metre screen within the venue. These actors will be dressed as a dominatrix and her two slaves. They will be wearing a combination of vinyl, leather, black make-up and spandex. The dominatrix’s outfit will be tight and restrictive. Her two slaves wear more functional gothic attire, in order to properly execute the moves for the audience (her off-screen slaves). After her initial demonstration the instructor circles her two slaves, correcting them with harsh criticism and a whip. A brutal mistress, she exacts total submission to her work out plan while forcing her on and off-screen slaves to work progressively faster and harder. The pace of the workout will be fueled by the dark rhythms of late 80’s and early 90’s industrial and gothic-techno music.

Her interaction with her off-screen slaves will be similar to the popular ‘Nightmare’ board game series from the 1990’s – she will pretend to single out specific audience members, addressing the ‘silly bitches’ upfront or the ‘jailbait’ in the back. The pre-recorded exercise film will be 25 minutes in length and will run on a loop, seamlessly all night. The tempo of the music accompanying the workout will get faster as the dominatrix’s demands become greater. Strobe lights will flash in the room as the routine hits it’s full intensity.

The lighting in the yoga studio will be dim„ similar to a night club. Yoga mats, will be laid out on the studio floor. The walls of the studio will be adorned with images of bondage and other leather-clad dominatrixes, to further draw out the parallels between torture and exercise.

To encourage participation we will seed the event with at least one volunteer per hour, to insure at least one live person exercising throughout the night. Visitors refusing to join in the work out will be bullied by our on-screen dominatrix.

Gothic Aerobics will be a chance for Nuit Blanche attendees to be more than spectators. A full-on workout will pump them up for the night and raise questions about exercise in the modern era. The exhibit will run for 12 hours.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Goth culture is synonymous with self –mutilation, loathing and a fascination, if skeptical, with religious contemplation. It is an ideal presentation style for the considerations we wish to raise with the participants in our event. Superimposing gothic imagery over a traditional workout video, we playfully call into question all the body-image issues that motivate such practices. Physical fitness is normally presented in media as entirely positive. This allows participants to engage in the act without much thought about just what they’re engaging in and their reasons for it. While our installation draws out these hidden aspects and motivations for consideration, we believe a proper questioning and consideration of them will ultimately enrich and enliven the experience.

CREATORS

Todd Julie (www.foveaonline.com)

Todd Julie collaborated with Jesse Yules in The City of Toronto’s 2007’s Nuit Blanche arts festival, with their installation, The Secular Confession Booth. Todd is a freelance illustrator and painter based in Toronto, Canada. His commercial work has appeared in publications across North America. Todd won Gold at the 2003 National Magazine Awards for ‘Best Spot Illustration’ and Silver at the 2005 Advertising & Design Club of Canada awards in the same category. A series of Abraham Lincoln portraits, completed for The Boston Globe, appeared in Applied Arts magazine’s 2007 awards annual.

Jesse Yules (www.jesseyules.com)

Jesse Yules is a freelance filmmaker and animator based in Toronto. Jesse was awarded Best New Director by the web community Videos.Antville in 2008. He has done music videos for Owen Pallet, Grizzly Bear and Of Montreal.

Music Video Sequences in Film






Some of the most iconic and powerful sequences in cinema are driven by their musical scores. As stand alone pieces, they have much in common with modern music videos. Here are some of my favourites. 
THE TRUMAN SHOW
Truman Burbank begins to suspect a conspiracy… Set to Phillip Glass’s pounding “Anthem”. Watch here






















THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The Ecstasy of Gold sequence from the Good the Bad and the Ugly. I first saw this as a rental from the library when I was sixteen. My Dad made a rare movie recommendation to me, saying it was the best film he’d ever seen. The final duel sequence, is also amazing. Watch here





















ROCKY
The training sequence that won Stallone an Oscar and spawned a dozen imitations (many directed by Stallone himself) . Root for the underdog! Watch here





















APOCALYPSE NOW

Apocalypse Now helicopter sequence. Coppola rebukes the US military’s actions in Veitnam by scoring the scene with Wagner, a favourite of the Nazis. Watch here





















THE BIG LEBOWSKI
Epic Coen brothers dream sequence featuring Kenny Rogers, during his early psychedelic period. Watch here






















RESERVOIR DOGS

Stuck in the Middle indeed. The torture sequence that launched Tarantino’s career. Watch here






















LAST OF THE MOHICANS

The entire end sequence from the Last of the Mohicans. Watch here






















MAGNOLIA
The ‘Wise Up’ sequence. Feels more like a musical, but whatever. Watch here






















2001: SPACE ODYSSEY
The space ballet sequence. I was in college and super baked when I saw this the first time. It was a religious experience. The stargate sequence’s terrifying leap into the infinite should also be included. Watch here






















MEAN STREETS

The opening credits lean heavily on the strength of the greatest pop song of the 60s. The Jumpin’ Jack Flash sequence when Johnny Boy enters could also be included. Watch here





















THE SNOWMAN
Walking in the Air, from the Christmas classic, the Snowman. Watch here

Music Video Sequences in Film

Some of the most iconic and powerful sequences in cinema are driven by their musical scores. As stand alone pieces, they have much in common with modern music videos. Here are some of my favourites. 

THE TRUMAN SHOW

Truman Burbank begins to suspect a conspiracy… Set to Phillip Glass’s pounding “Anthem”. Watch here

image

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

The Ecstasy of Gold sequence from the Good the Bad and the Ugly. I first saw this as a rental from the library when I was sixteen. My Dad made a rare movie recommendation to me, saying it was the best film he’d ever seen. The final duel sequence, is also amazing. Watch here

image

ROCKY

The training sequence that won Stallone an Oscar and spawned a dozen imitations (many directed by Stallone himself) . Root for the underdog! Watch here

image

APOCALYPSE NOW

Apocalypse Now helicopter sequence. Coppola rebukes the US military’s actions in Veitnam by scoring the scene with Wagner, a favourite of the Nazis. Watch here

image

THE BIG LEBOWSKI

Epic Coen brothers dream sequence featuring Kenny Rogers, during his early psychedelic period. Watch here

image

RESERVOIR DOGS

Stuck in the Middle indeed. The torture sequence that launched Tarantino’s career. Watch here

image

LAST OF THE MOHICANS

The entire end sequence from the Last of the Mohicans. Watch here

image

MAGNOLIA

The ‘Wise Up’ sequence. Feels more like a musical, but whatever. Watch here

image

2001: SPACE ODYSSEY

The space ballet sequence. I was in college and super baked when I saw this the first time. It was a religious experience. The stargate sequence’s terrifying leap into the infinite should also be included. Watch here

image

MEAN STREETS

The opening credits lean heavily on the strength of the greatest pop song of the 60s. The Jumpin’ Jack Flash sequence when Johnny Boy enters could also be included. Watch here

image

THE SNOWMAN

Walking in the Air, from the Christmas classic, the Snowman. Watch here

image

SOME TACTICS TO CONSIDER WHILE MAKING MUSIC VIDEOS






1. Think remarkable. Write a concept that is easy to sum up or make a remark about. Imagine people saying “It’s the one with the Mentos in the soda pop!” or  ”It’s one where the guys are dancing on treadmills!” People recommend work to their friends and colleagues that is easy to describe. 









Fleet Foxes | The Shrine








2. Remember what music videos are for. The first approach is a performance video. Performance videos help fans put a face to the music, and to better understand it’s context. Simple and beautiful performance videos are being shot guerrilla-style byLa Blogotheque, Southern Souls and Live in Bellwoods for next to nothing. The second approach is the is the narrative video. The video interprets the themes or the story of the song through live action narrative or animation. These music videos act as silent films. They are a stand alone pieces that people will share even if they aren’t feeling the song. They are also eligible for submission to film festivals. I recommend choosing one or the other, instead of trying to do both. Note: The majority of the music videos since the beginning of time have tried to do both.
3. Music videos live and die by the track. Cee Lo’s Fuck You already had millions of hits when it was a simple text video. Anxiety about the career of a band succeeding or failing based on a music video are baseless. Relax and try to make something wonderful for your fans to cherish. 
4. Choose one concept and explore that idea to the end. Avoid the kitchen sink approach. It’s expensive, and makes the clip harder to describe when people are recommending it. A filmmaker might start doubting their concept’s ability to hold attention. (Note:  Audience’s are more patient than we give them credit for especially now that the medium has shifted away from the hyper-noisy television, to the mostly text internet.) In such cases we can be tempted to add layers of filters, alternative art direction, or a flurry of cuts to the make the clip more interesting. These paths lead to an inconsistent vision, and feeling that the clip is “average” or “boring”.  























5. Post the video to either Vimeo or YouTube and allow it to be played and embedded everywhere. Turn off front roll ads. They don’t pay much and they abuse the small amount of permission a viewer is giving you when they click on your link. 
6. Share the video link with a core group of bloggers you know have supported your work in the past. If your video is great, the bloggers will appreciate your contribution. It’s hard filling a daily blog.
7. Don’t stress about the number of hits. Having a video go viral is thrilling for the ego, but less important than making a clip that will be beloved by a smaller, committed group of fans. 100 million hits may have made Rebecca Black a household name, but it didn’t make her many fans. Not the right kind of fans anyway. The loving fans that will continue to support her career three decades from now. Focus instead on engagement. Are the bloggers we care about discussing the video? Did the band receive offers bigger shows and tour support? Is the video helping to define the zeitgeist of the era? Are fans downloading and sharing the song?
NOTE TO BANDS PLANNING VIDEOS…
If you are a musician, and have a detailed vision for your a video, you don’t need a director. Hire a producer and a talented cinematographer instead. Describe your vision and allow the experts to help you execute it.

SOME TACTICS TO CONSIDER WHILE MAKING MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Think remarkable. Write a concept that is easy to sum up or make a remark about. Imagine people saying “It’s the one with the Mentos in the soda pop!” or  ”It’s one where the guys are dancing on treadmills!” People recommend work to their friends and colleagues that is easy to describe. 

Fleet Foxes | The Shrine

Fleet Foxes | The Shrine

2. Remember what music videos are for. The first approach is a performance video. Performance videos help fans put a face to the music, and to better understand it’s context. Simple and beautiful performance videos are being shot guerrilla-style byLa BlogothequeSouthern Souls and Live in Bellwoods for next to nothing. The second approach is the is the narrative video. The video interprets the themes or the story of the song through live action narrative or animation. These music videos act as silent films. They are a stand alone pieces that people will share even if they aren’t feeling the song. They are also eligible for submission to film festivals. I recommend choosing one or the other, instead of trying to do both. Note: The majority of the music videos since the beginning of time have tried to do both.

3. Music videos live and die by the track. Cee Lo’s Fuck You already had millions of hits when it was a simple text video. Anxiety about the career of a band succeeding or failing based on a music video are baseless. Relax and try to make something wonderful for your fans to cherish. 

4. Choose one concept and explore that idea to the end. Avoid the kitchen sink approach. It’s expensive, and makes the clip harder to describe when people are recommending it. A filmmaker might start doubting their concept’s ability to hold attention. (Note:  Audience’s are more patient than we give them credit for especially now that the medium has shifted away from the hyper-noisy television, to the mostly text internet.) In such cases we can be tempted to add layers of filters, alternative art direction, or a flurry of cuts to the make the clip more interesting. These paths lead to an inconsistent vision, and feeling that the clip is “average” or “boring”.  

image

5. Post the video to either Vimeo or YouTube and allow it to be played and embedded everywhere. Turn off front roll ads. They don’t pay much and they abuse the small amount of permission a viewer is giving you when they click on your link. 

6. Share the video link with a core group of bloggers you know have supported your work in the past. If your video is great, the bloggers will appreciate your contribution. It’s hard filling a daily blog.

7. Don’t stress about the number of hits. Having a video go viral is thrilling for the ego, but less important than making a clip that will be beloved by a smaller, committed group of fans. 100 million hits may have made Rebecca Black a household name, but it didn’t make her many fans. Not the right kind of fans anyway. The loving fans that will continue to support her career three decades from now. Focus instead on engagement. Are the bloggers we care about discussing the video? Did the band receive offers bigger shows and tour support? Is the video helping to define the zeitgeist of the era? Are fans downloading and sharing the song?

NOTE TO BANDS PLANNING VIDEOS…

If you are a musician, and have a detailed vision for your a video, you don’t need a director. Hire a producer and a talented cinematographer instead. Describe your vision and allow the experts to help you execute it.



THE FAST-CUT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
A major influence music videos have had on modern film, is that they have increased the number of cuts per minute in films of all kinds. A typical music video, film trailer or modern summer block buster looks almost as if it’s being fast forwarded, when viewed beside a thriller from the past like Steven Speilberg’s JAWS.
Music video editors face a lot of pressure to make their clips exciting enough stand apart from both other music videos and the obnoxiously fast-paced television ads. An arms race has ensued between the two camps that has left directors insecure about holding shots for more than two seconds and audiences with twitchy ADD symptoms.
The downside to over cutting a sequence is that, while it does raise tension in the viewer, it often does so my disorienting them. Bärbel Garsoffky discovered cuts in a video feed can significantly hinder an audience’s ability to follow action. This is why professional sporting events are almost always shot with no more than three camera angles, and always adhere to a strict stageline
Fast camera cuts can also make it more difficult for audience’s to remember a sequence after the fact.  Consider the horribly edited James Bond film Quantum Solace.
A cut a second on average with rapid-fire burst for variety. Notice that while all the flashing colours and explosions succeeds in making us tense, it also leaves us with no idea where the vehicles are in space, which direction they are heading.









LONG TAKES









Some of the most memorable sequences in all of filmmaking have had no cuts at all. Consider the Scorsese’s Copacabana sequence in Goodfellas, or the opening of Orson Wells’ Touch of Evil, or hammer fight sequence in Old Boy. Michel Gondry became legendary in the music video scene with a series of mind-blowing one cut videos for Kylie Minogue, Lucas with the Lid Off and Cibo Matto. 

Tightly cutting footage to a track is most useful when making otherwise inappropriate visuals fit the song. An example would be if director wanted to ironically pair footage of 60s beach bunnies with an industrial rock song.
When conceiving and shooting original material, we can avoid the need to over-cut by simply staging more energetic shots in the first place. Consider Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme’s masterful collaboration with Talking Heads. Despite the up tempo music, none of shots in this section is under 4 seconds. This patient edit focuses audience’s attention on the intensity of the performance instead of style of the filmmaking.

THE FAST-CUT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

A major influence music videos have had on modern film, is that they have increased the number of cuts per minute in films of all kinds. A typical music video, film trailer or modern summer block buster looks almost as if it’s being fast forwarded, when viewed beside a thriller from the past like Steven Speilberg’s JAWS.

Music video editors face a lot of pressure to make their clips exciting enough stand apart from both other music videos and the obnoxiously fast-paced television ads. An arms race has ensued between the two camps that has left directors insecure about holding shots for more than two seconds and audiences with twitchy ADD symptoms.

The downside to over cutting a sequence is that, while it does raise tension in the viewer, it often does so my disorienting them. Bärbel Garsoffky discovered cuts in a video feed can significantly hinder an audience’s ability to follow action. This is why professional sporting events are almost always shot with no more than three camera angles, and always adhere to a strict stageline

Fast camera cuts can also make it more difficult for audience’s to remember a sequence after the fact.  Consider the horribly edited James Bond film Quantum Solace.

A cut a second on average with rapid-fire burst for variety. Notice that while all the flashing colours and explosions succeeds in making us tense, it also leaves us with no idea where the vehicles are in space, which direction they are heading.

LONG TAKES

Some of the most memorable sequences in all of filmmaking have had no cuts at all. Consider the Scorsese’s Copacabana sequence in Goodfellas, or the opening of Orson Wells’ Touch of Evil, or hammer fight sequence in Old Boy. Michel Gondry became legendary in the music video scene with a series of mind-blowing one cut videos for Kylie MinogueLucas with the Lid Off and Cibo Matto

Kylie | Come into my World

Tightly cutting footage to a track is most useful when making otherwise inappropriate visuals fit the song. An example would be if director wanted to ironically pair footage of 60s beach bunnies with an industrial rock song.

When conceiving and shooting original material, we can avoid the need to over-cut by simply staging more energetic shots in the first place. Consider Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme’s masterful collaboration with Talking Heads. Despite the up tempo music, none of shots in this section is under 4 seconds. This patient edit focuses audience’s attention on the intensity of the performance instead of style of the filmmaking.





AESOPTV | FAILTED COLLABORATIVE FILM

In 2008, there was a great deal of email being passed between indie directors online. Young filmmakers from many countries were connecting via the videos.antville.org blog, using it to share cool music videos, offer feedback and celebrate best work that had been seen month to month. 
AesopTV, Failted Collaborative Film
In 2008, there was a great deal of email being passed between indie directors online. Young filmmakers from many countries were connecting via the videos.antville.org blog, using it to share cool music videos, offer feedback and celebrate best work that had been seen month to month. 




I thought it might be fun to build a collaborative feature film, made up of several shorts each directed by a one of the new filmmakers I had met online. We had a lot of interest in fables and myths in the mid-noughties (apparently fantasy work becomes more popular during recessions and in wartime) so we chose the theme Aesop’s Fables for the collaboration.
Aesop’s stories were ideal for development, especially by multiple directors. The fables had a simple characters with clear goals. The characters were all animals, which makes the art direction fun, and makes the film accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Finally, Aesop, like most fairy tales, is recognisable enough name that people can describe project easily, which in theory helps raise money and spread the word about the films once they are finished. The idea was also interesting from a distribution angle, as each director could organize rep cinema screenings for the film in their areas.
Soon various indie directors in our scene were choosing their favourite Aesop stories and forwarding their treatments. Andy Bruntel director of classic videos for Bonnie Prince Billy and Liars adapted the Eagle and the Arrow. Toronto’s film making mad-scientists Exploding Motor Car (Timber Timbre, One Hundred Dollars) did a rendition of the Truffle Hog. Stopmotion director Tobias Stretch adapted The Dancing Camel. Director Cameron Tomsett (Beta Frontiers) adapted The Dog and Wolf. Renown filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones adapted the Ant and the Grasshopper. 









Wolf costume design by Cameron Tomsett








Ultimately the project failed to come together due to a lack of financing. Originally, I imagined each director would design and fund-raise projects of their own, however once the project moved past the wiring stage, the limited time each of the other directors had forced them to walk away from the project. This may have been avoided if the project had recruited a dedicated producer. For my part, I was lucky enough to get a grant for my section from Toronto’s Bravo TV. My section was entitled Aesop: Kingdom of Frogs and can be viewed here. The amazing artists Winston Hacking and Brett Long (Exploding Motor Car) helped with the shooting and animation. Dean Tzenos of Odonis Odonis wrote the score. 
AESOPTV | FAILTED COLLABORATIVE FILM

In 2008, there was a great deal of email being passed between indie directors online. Young filmmakers from many countries were connecting via the videos.antville.org blog, using it to share cool music videos, offer feedback and celebrate best work that had been seen month to month. 

AesopTV, Failted Collaborative Film

In 2008, there was a great deal of email being passed between indie directors online. Young filmmakers from many countries were connecting via the videos.antville.org blog, using it to share cool music videos, offer feedback and celebrate best work that had been seen month to month. 

I thought it might be fun to build a collaborative feature film, made up of several shorts each directed by a one of the new filmmakers I had met online. We had a lot of interest in fables and myths in the mid-noughties (apparently fantasy work becomes more popular during recessions and in wartime) so we chose the theme Aesop’s Fables for the collaboration.

Aesop’s stories were ideal for development, especially by multiple directors. The fables had a simple characters with clear goals. The characters were all animals, which makes the art direction fun, and makes the film accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Finally, Aesop, like most fairy tales, is recognisable enough name that people can describe project easily, which in theory helps raise money and spread the word about the films once they are finished. The idea was also interesting from a distribution angle, as each director could organize rep cinema screenings for the film in their areas.

Soon various indie directors in our scene were choosing their favourite Aesop stories and forwarding their treatmentsAndy Bruntel director of classic videos for Bonnie Prince Billy and Liars adapted the Eagle and the Arrow. Toronto’s film making mad-scientists Exploding Motor Car (Timber TimbreOne Hundred Dollars) did a rendition of the Truffle Hog. Stopmotion director Tobias Stretch adapted The Dancing Camel. Director Cameron Tomsett (Beta Frontiers) adapted The Dog and Wolf. Renown filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones adapted the Ant and the Grasshopper

Wolf costume design by Cameron Tomsett

Wolf costume design by Cameron Tomsett

Ultimately the project failed to come together due to a lack of financing. Originally, I imagined each director would design and fund-raise projects of their own, however once the project moved past the wiring stage, the limited time each of the other directors had forced them to walk away from the project. This may have been avoided if the project had recruited a dedicated producer. For my part, I was lucky enough to get a grant for my section from Toronto’s Bravo TV. My section was entitled Aesop: Kingdom of Frogs and can be viewed here. The amazing artists Winston Hacking and Brett Long (Exploding Motor Car) helped with the shooting and animation. Dean Tzenos of Odonis Odonis wrote the score. 




TIM BURTON’S SUPERMAN
Much has been written about the Tim Burton’s failed attempt at a Superman film. Once posted online, harsh criticism surrounded the images from early wardrobe fittings showing a long-haired Nick Cage in an ill-fitting rubber suit, complete with nude body fabric, common in figure skating costumes. We assume the fabric was to cover Cage’s chest hair.









Nick Cage wardrobe test.








The project’s viability was also doubtful due to the production team’s obsession with merchandising.
From Wikipedia…
Art designer Sylvain Despretz claimed the art department was assigned to create something that had little or nothing to do with the Superman comic book, and also explained that Peters “would bring kids in, who would rate the drawings on the wall as if they were evaluating the toy possibilities. It was basically a toy show!”









Via Digital Spy








Burton gave Despretz a concept drawing for Brainiac, which Despretz claims was “a cone with a round ball on top, and something that looked like an emaciated skull inside. Imagine you take Merlin's hat, and you stick a fish bowl on top, with a skull in it.” Concept artist Rolf Mohr said in an interview he designed a suit for The Eradicator for a planned scene in which it transforms into a flying vehicle.
By the time concept photos surfaced online, Burton had made a sting of dull by the numbers films including Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes. It was easy to laugh at some of the films concept art and be thankful the film was cancelled. We must be reminded however, that Burton made 1989’s Batman, one of the finest superhero film of all time. To me there are elements from Burton’s previous films that hint this project could have been great. The nostalgic 50’s feel Burton created for Edward Scissor Hands wound have been perfect for Metropolis and Smallville. Brainiac, the villain chosen early on by mega fan boy and original screen writer Kevin Smith, would have been a great fit for the kind of art direction Burton played with in Mars Attacks and Beatlejuice. 
I think the casting of Nick Cage was also inspired. Cage’s incredible performance in 2002’s Adaptation demonstrated his range. While playing the twin Kaufman brothers, Cage effortlessly shifted from the bumbling, insecure Charlie, to his arrogant but earnest brother Donald. This range would have worked well for Superman / Kent, and is an aspect of the character that’s been missing in the Superman adaptations since Christopher Reeve held the role.  More recent wardrobe test photos also show the final Superman costume would have made Cage look like a much more traditional superman.









Via Digital Spy








In the end project was shelved due to production dithering over the budget.
From Wikipedia…
Ultimately, Warner Bros. chose to put the film on hold in April 1998, and Burton left to direct Sleepy Hollow.  At this point in production, $30 million was spent, with nothing to show for it. To this day, Burton has depicted the experience of Superman Lives as one of the worst experiences in his life, citing various differences with Peters and the studio, stating, “I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don’t really want to be working with.”
The next Superman film Man of Steel is set for release summer 2013 and will be directed by Zack Snider. Snider has yet to make a truly great film, but his handling of the Doctor Manhattan sequences in The Watchman show potential and collaborating with Christopher Nolan (producer) might help to add realism to Snider’s often vapid digital images. Fingers (half heartedly) crossed.

TIM BURTON’S SUPERMAN

Much has been written about the Tim Burton’s failed attempt at a Superman film. Once posted online, harsh criticism surrounded the images from early wardrobe fittings showing a long-haired Nick Cage in an ill-fitting rubber suit, complete with nude body fabric, common in figure skating costumes. We assume the fabric was to cover Cage’s chest hair.

Nick Cage wardrobe test.

Nick Cage wardrobe test.

The project’s viability was also doubtful due to the production team’s obsession with merchandising.

From Wikipedia…

Art designer Sylvain Despretz claimed the art department was assigned to create something that had little or nothing to do with the Superman comic book, and also explained that Peters “would bring kids in, who would rate the drawings on the wall as if they were evaluating the toy possibilities. It was basically a toy show!”

Via Digital Spy

Via Digital Spy

Burton gave Despretz a concept drawing for Brainiac, which Despretz claims was “a cone with a round ball on top, and something that looked like an emaciated skull inside. Imagine you take Merlin's hat, and you stick a fish bowl on top, with a skull in it.” Concept artist Rolf Mohr said in an interview he designed a suit for The Eradicator for a planned scene in which it transforms into a flying vehicle.

By the time concept photos surfaced online, Burton had made a sting of dull by the numbers films including Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes. It was easy to laugh at some of the films concept art and be thankful the film was cancelled. We must be reminded however, that Burton made 1989’s Batman, one of the finest superhero film of all time. To me there are elements from Burton’s previous films that hint this project could have been great. The nostalgic 50’s feel Burton created for Edward Scissor Hands wound have been perfect for Metropolis and Smallville. Brainiac, the villain chosen early on by mega fan boy and original screen writer Kevin Smith, would have been a great fit for the kind of art direction Burton played with in Mars Attacks and Beatlejuice. 

I think the casting of Nick Cage was also inspired. Cage’s incredible performance in 2002’s Adaptation demonstrated his range. While playing the twin Kaufman brothers, Cage effortlessly shifted from the bumbling, insecure Charlie, to his arrogant but earnest brother Donald. This range would have worked well for Superman / Kent, and is an aspect of the character that’s been missing in the Superman adaptations since Christopher Reeve held the role.  More recent wardrobe test photos also show the final Superman costume would have made Cage look like a much more traditional superman.

Via Digital Spy

Via Digital Spy

In the end project was shelved due to production dithering over the budget.

From Wikipedia…

Ultimately, Warner Bros. chose to put the film on hold in April 1998, and Burton left to direct Sleepy Hollow.  At this point in production, $30 million was spent, with nothing to show for it. To this day, Burton has depicted the experience of Superman Lives as one of the worst experiences in his life, citing various differences with Peters and the studio, stating, “I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don’t really want to be working with.”

The next Superman film Man of Steel is set for release summer 2013 and will be directed by Zack Snider. Snider has yet to make a truly great film, but his handling of the Doctor Manhattan sequences in The Watchman show potential and collaborating with Christopher Nolan (producer) might help to add realism to Snider’s often vapid digital images. Fingers (half heartedly) crossed.

Celebrity Grave | Frank Gehry’s World Cup of Hockey Trophy
Bold art always invites a backlash. World class architect Frank Gehry knows a lot about this.
Gehry has a commitment to taking risk, and he understands criticism comes with the territory. “If you show any kind of architecture in early stages that represent anything outside the norm they get clobbered,” Gehry said in 2012 “because people say, ‘Well, you can’t do that,” 
His work at the edges of commercial design has made him the most famous architect in the world, but his creative risks have also lead to public embarrassment.
In 2004 Gehry was commissioned by the organizers of the World Cup of Hockey to update design of their championship trophy. The original trophy looked like cheesy corporate hood ornament, and Gehry was hired to build prize befitting of the 21 century. For Gehry, Toronto-born and lifelong hockey fan, the pressure was on.


"I had no idea of what I was getting myself into," Gehry confessed during a press conference at Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. "We only just made the deadline by the skin of our teeth. But I’m thrilled to be part of this."

Leading up to the project, Gehry was at the top of his fame. His 1997 curving titanium design for the Guggenheim gallery in Bilbao Spain, was an undisputed triumph. Critic Paul Goldberger celebrated the it saying “The building blazed new trails and became an extraordinary phenomenon. It was one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something.”

Gehry seemed like a safe choice for the redesign. After all, he was the most famous architect at the time. However, when the trophy was unveiled. Dead silence followed.

Journalists were confused. Tradition-obsessed hockey fans were aghast.The trophy was not what they expected. To begin with, it looked nothing like the Stanley Cup.

Online comments mocked,“The Fruit goes in here, and it makes the freshest, tastiest, healthiest juice you’ve ever tasted! BUT THATS NOT ALL!!!..” Poor reviews where posted in Canada’s largest newspapers.

Gehry, a Toronto native and lifelong hockey fan himself, was aware the trophy looked nothing like the Stanley Cup. He approached the project with the same boldness that made the Bilao gallery look nothing like a conventional home for art. He offered a minimalist silver cup, embedded in a multi faceted translucent base. The chosen materials represented, obviously, the metal blades of the hockey skates cutting through the ice. The silver cup was removable and each year, the names of the winning players would be engraved on the cup and embedded in the glacier-like holder, preserving the names for all time.


Gehry handled the reaction to the design with grace. “I can tell you don’t like it,” Gehry joked. No one was laughing. Bravely, Gehry’s patrons stood by him. Ken Jaffe of the NHL and the WCH Organizing Committee said Gehry “gladly accepted the assignment and vigorously developed a great looking icon for the game.” No changes were made to the design.

The trophy unveiling was a failure. Had Gehry decided to play it safe, he could have designed a traditional-looking trophy and had a more pleasant press conference. But doing so would have disappointed his real fans, the people who love him because takes risks. As marketer Seth Godin would say, “If you cater to normal, you will disappoint the weird.”
 

Celebrity Grave | Frank Gehry’s World Cup of Hockey Trophy

Bold art always invites a backlash. World class architect Frank Gehry knows a lot about this.

Gehry has a commitment to taking risk, and he understands criticism comes with the territory. “If you show any kind of architecture in early stages that represent anything outside the norm they get clobbered,” Gehry said in 2012 “because people say, ‘Well, you can’t do that,” 

His work at the edges of commercial design has made him the most famous architect in the world, but his creative risks have also lead to public embarrassment.

In 2004 Gehry was commissioned by the organizers of the World Cup of Hockey to update design of their championship trophy. The original trophy looked like cheesy corporate hood ornament, and Gehry was hired to build prize befitting of the 21 century. For Gehry, Toronto-born and lifelong hockey fan, the pressure was on.

1996 Wold Cup Trophy via Wikipedia

"I had no idea of what I was getting myself into," Gehry confessed during a press conference at Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. "We only just made the deadline by the skin of our teeth. But I’m thrilled to be part of this."

Leading up to the project, Gehry was at the top of his fame. His 1997 curving titanium design for the Guggenheim gallery in Bilbao Spain, was an undisputed triumph. Critic Paul Goldberger celebrated the it saying “The building blazed new trails and became an extraordinary phenomenon. It was one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something.”

Gehry seemed like a safe choice for the redesign. After all, he was the most famous architect at the time. However, when the trophy was unveiled. Dead silence followed.

Journalists were confused. Tradition-obsessed hockey fans were aghast.The trophy was not what they expected. To begin with, it looked nothing like the Stanley Cup.

Online comments mocked,“The Fruit goes in here, and it makes the freshest, tastiest, healthiest juice you’ve ever tasted! BUT THATS NOT ALL!!!..” Poor reviews where posted in Canada’s largest newspapers.

Gehry, a Toronto native and lifelong hockey fan himself, was aware the trophy looked nothing like the Stanley Cup. He approached the project with the same boldness that made the Bilao gallery look nothing like a conventional home for art. He offered a minimalist silver cup, embedded in a multi faceted translucent base. The chosen materials represented, obviously, the metal blades of the hockey skates cutting through the ice. The silver cup was removable and each year, the names of the winning players would be engraved on the cup and embedded in the glacier-like holder, preserving the names for all time.

Design breakdown via corofloat.com

Gehry handled the reaction to the design with grace. “I can tell you don’t like it,” Gehry joked. No one was laughing. Bravely, Gehry’s patrons stood by him. Ken Jaffe of the NHL and the WCH Organizing Committee said Gehry “gladly accepted the assignment and vigorously developed a great looking icon for the game.” No changes were made to the design.

The trophy unveiling was a failure. Had Gehry decided to play it safe, he could have designed a traditional-looking trophy and had a more pleasant press conference. But doing so would have disappointed his real fans, the people who love him because takes risks. As marketer Seth Godin would say, “If you cater to normal, you will disappoint the weird.”

 

IdeaGrave Guest
Every creator has projects that will never see the light of day. Typically, for each music video or feature film a director finishes, four others were written and abandoned. The same is true in the game business.
Toronto game designer Ilya Schwarz describes his process developing Knight Walker, a game idea based on hand-drawn fantasy maps from his youth. The object of the game was to march a knight across a player designed environment, until he is reunited with a giant bee.
Schwarz explains:

"Winning the level depends on the mood of “Knightwalker” character. He has to make the walk from his starting position to the enemy - A Giant Bee placed on the map. The mood of the knight changes depending on the objects he encounters in the level. When he approaches the bee and his mood matches the bee’s mood - he captures it."

Read the rest here.

IdeaGrave Guest

Every creator has projects that will never see the light of day. Typically, for each music video or feature film a director finishes, four others were written and abandoned. The same is true in the game business.

Toronto game designer Ilya Schwarz describes his process developing Knight Walker, a game idea based on hand-drawn fantasy maps from his youth. The object of the game was to march a knight across a player designed environment, until he is reunited with a giant bee.

Schwarz explains:

"Winning the level depends on the mood of “Knightwalker” character. He has to make the walk from his starting position to the enemy - A Giant Bee placed on the map. The mood of the knight changes depending on the objects he encounters in the level. When he approaches the bee and his mood matches the bee’s mood - he captures it."

Read the rest here.


Photo by Andy Hall, Guardian UK
Today the first in a series of failed projects by my favourite directors… First up, Chris Cunningham, creator of classic music videos such as Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker and Bjork’s All is Full of Love. Visit his creepy personal site here.
Chris Cunningham’s Neuromancer 
Cancelled November 2004
Even creators considered by many to be modern masters, have trouble getting projects of the ground. Consider Chris Cunningham, perhaps the most talented director of the Jonze / Gondry / Romanic music video wave in the 1990s. Cunningham was signed to direct the long awaited adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer in 2000. After years of script revisions and preproduction (rumour has it Cunningham had drawn a huge amount of concept art and storyboards) the project was cancelled, due to fact that Cunningham was not granted final cut (ie complete control over the final edit of the film). The executive producers reserved final cut for themselves on account this was to be Cunningham’s first feature. Cunningham has since switched his focus to music production, gallery art, and live events.
From Wikipedia…
In 2000, Cunningham and cyberpunk author William Gibson began work on the script for Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer. However, because Neuromancer was due to be a big budget studio film, it is rumoured that Cunningham pulled out due to being a first time director without final cut approval. He also felt that too much of the original book’s ideas had been cannibalised by other recent films.
On 18 November 2004, in the FAQ on the William Gibson Board, Gibson was asked:

Q: Is it true there’s a movie of Neuromancer in the works? A: Perpetually, it seems, and going on a quarter of a century now. The most recently rumoured version, to have been directed by Chris Cunningham, is now definitely not happening.

In an August 1999 Spike Magazine interview, Gibson stated “He (Chris) was brought to my attention by someone else. We were told, third-hand, that he was extremely chary of the Hollywood process, and wouldn’t return calls. But someone else told us that Neuromancer had been his Wind In The Willows, that he’d read it when he was a kid. I went to London and we met.” Gibson is also quoted in the article as saying “Chris is my own 100 per cent personal choice…My only choice. The only person I’ve met who I thought might have a hope in hell of doing it right. I went back to see him in London just after he’d finished the Bjork video, and I sat on a couch beside this dead sex little Bjork robot, except it was wearing Aphex Twin’s head. We talked.”

I find it inspiring that Mr. Cunningham had the strength not to compromise his creative vision for a project. The temptation is, even if the film were to turn out trite, the exposure would have given him instant house-hold name recognition and a big pay-day. 
Cunningham has since released several personal projects, including Rubber Johnny and a remix video for Gill Scott Heron. 
Guardian UK reports “Now Cunningham is tired of videos and adverts. “Making commercials,” he says, “is the dustbin of film-making. It sucks you dry.”“

Photo by Andy Hall, Guardian UK

Today the first in a series of failed projects by my favourite directors… First up, Chris Cunningham, creator of classic music videos such as Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker and Bjork’s All is Full of Love. Visit his creepy personal site here.

Chris Cunningham’s Neuromancer 

Cancelled November 2004

Even creators considered by many to be modern masters, have trouble getting projects of the ground. Consider Chris Cunningham, perhaps the most talented director of the Jonze / Gondry / Romanic music video wave in the 1990s. Cunningham was signed to direct the long awaited adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer in 2000. After years of script revisions and preproduction (rumour has it Cunningham had drawn a huge amount of concept art and storyboards) the project was cancelled, due to fact that Cunningham was not granted final cut (ie complete control over the final edit of the film). The executive producers reserved final cut for themselves on account this was to be Cunningham’s first feature. Cunningham has since switched his focus to music production, gallery art, and live events.

From Wikipedia…

In 2000, Cunningham and cyberpunk author William Gibson began work on the script for Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer. However, because Neuromancer was due to be a big budget studio film, it is rumoured that Cunningham pulled out due to being a first time director without final cut approval. He also felt that too much of the original book’s ideas had been cannibalised by other recent films.

On 18 November 2004, in the FAQ on the William Gibson Board, Gibson was asked:

Q: Is it true there’s a movie of Neuromancer in the works? A: Perpetually, it seems, and going on a quarter of a century now. The most recently rumoured version, to have been directed by Chris Cunningham, is now definitely not happening.

In an August 1999 Spike Magazine interview, Gibson stated “He (Chris) was brought to my attention by someone else. We were told, third-hand, that he was extremely chary of the Hollywood process, and wouldn’t return calls. But someone else told us that Neuromancer had been his Wind In The Willows, that he’d read it when he was a kid. I went to London and we met.” Gibson is also quoted in the article as saying “Chris is my own 100 per cent personal choice…My only choice. The only person I’ve met who I thought might have a hope in hell of doing it right. I went back to see him in London just after he’d finished the Bjork video, and I sat on a couch beside this dead sex little Bjork robot, except it was wearing Aphex Twin’s head. We talked.”

Sheena is a Parasite | The Horrors music video

I find it inspiring that Mr. Cunningham had the strength not to compromise his creative vision for a project. The temptation is, even if the film were to turn out trite, the exposure would have given him instant house-hold name recognition and a big pay-day. 

Cunningham has since released several personal projects, including Rubber Johnny and a remix video for Gill Scott Heron.

Guardian UK reports “Now Cunningham is tired of videos and adverts. “Making commercials,” he says, “is the dustbin of film-making. It sucks you dry.”“

Subscribe to IdeaGrave

1 2 3 4 5   Next »