And then completely fail on live television By Jennifer Lin (Music Director)
South Korea's "I Can See Your Voice" is a television show with a pretty interesting premise. The show invites a celebrity singer each week who has to choose a person from a group of 7-8 pre-selected contestants that the show's producers and writers have screened. The celebrity then has to perform a duet with the chosen contestant with no prior rehearsal.
The main catch? No one knows if the contestants are actually talented or completely tone deaf.
ICSYV goes hard in each extreme. Either the contestants are incredibly skilled (some have used their newfound spotlight to launch singing careers) or absolutely, horridly terrible. Now in its third season, the show doesn't allow the contestants to speak at all. Instead, celebrities must judge their potential duet partners based on their appearance, ability to lip sync, and the deductions from a panel of other celebrities and singers. If the contestant is tone deaf, they win the equivalent of $5000. If they're talented, they get the opportunity to record and release a digital single with the celebrity singer.
Whenever I need a good laugh, I go through YouTube and watch all of the duets with tone deaf people. Here to start you off is singer Hwanhee (of Korean R&B group Fly to the Sky) and the lucky girl he chose to sing with:
Incredibly, because the show encourages tone deaf people to participate and treats them with a sense of awe, I don't get the feeling they're being exploited like the poor American Idol contestants who all get cut into a terribly depressing reel. (Also, she got paid $5000, and the joke is really on singer Hwanhee, who was so incredibly confident she would be skilled.) So more power to you, tone deaf people of South Korea! Long may ICSYV air on your television sets.
JENNIFER LINhas very emotional connections to inanimate objects and is obsessed with polka dots. She works in and around Los Angeles as a music director/teacher, which means she drives way too much, drinks a lot of tea, and is constantly eating. EMAIL HER | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR
When we started this journey back in June, we talked about some of the best films ever made by some of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Three weeks ago, we shifted the conversation to the film making process. I shared with you some of the tools I’m using to create my projects to help get you over that hump.
We discussed Werner Herzog’s Masterclass on becoming a filmmaker both physically and mentally. It’s the mental part that can kill your project, if you aren’t properly girded. Herzog can help you there.
Here are some additional thoughts from none other than Mark Duplass. During a keynote at SXSW in 2015, he improvised eight tips for success as an indie filmmaker; read Indiewire’s summation of them here.
The next hurdle is how do I shoot the damn thing. We then talked about working with your public access television station to learn all of the technical stuff: shooting, sound recording, editing, special effects even getting studio space.
The next thing you need to consider, and it’s a doozy, is how do you actually shoot your feature film AND get it in front of audiences AND maybe make some money from it?
For that, you need to become a creative entrepreneur also known as becoming your own movie producer.
Part if the reason why I selected “Mad World” last week was because, starting any business is sheer lunacy. It’s a wild, wonderful ride you take while you’re looking for the buried treasure.
I’m not going to kid you, there is a lot to becoming a producer. However, if you want true creative freedom, producing your own stuff, and then eventually that of your super talented friends, is the only way you will ever achieve it.
Don’t worry - you can do this.
Dov S-S Simens, Image Courtesy of Dov
Luckily you live now and can do what Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Spike Lee and Kevin Smith have done – They went to Dov S-S Simens’ Hollywood Film School.
These programs provide the tools and information first-time filmmaker/producers need to get their projects off the ground and to the audience. It’s not a “pie-in-the sky” formula but actual real information about the Business of Hollywood.
The content of the DVD and Streaming Film Schools are exactly the same. The only differences are printed books are included with the DVDs and PDFs with the streaming. Also, naturally, the DVDs are yours for $249. The streaming access is available for $89 for 20 days or $149 for 60 Days.
In 16 Lessons, Dov covers:
Working with Guilds & Unions
Publicity (Festivals & Awards)
Cable & Video deals
Foreign Sales and Profits
This was originally shot in 2004. As such, there is a ton of information about shooting on film. Considering the recent resurgence of film, it’s handy to know.
The digital filmmaking section is a bit dated; pardon the pun. Digital filmmaking has come a long way in the past few years. Because of this, Dov came out with an update in 2015 to discuss these and all the other changes since the DVD Film School’s original release.
Also, Dov maintains the “No Bull Blog” that keeps you up to date on all of the latest and greatest and is a constant source of motivation. If you do nothing else, subscribe to this blog and start learning about the wonderful world of filmmaking.
In all candor, this is the one product I wish I watched years ago. It is nothing short of amazing. I can’t say enough about it.
Yes, this is a glowing review and yes, that is OK. And no, I was not paid for it.
As we wrap up this summer session, I hope you learned something from this blog. It has been a great joy for me to write these articles for you every week.
There will never be a better time for you to start the journey of becoming a filmmaker and producer.
Do it now, without delay. The world needs your stories to save us from boring ones.
On The Night Of and the slowing down of television. By Alisha Giampola (Writer/Performer)
Behold the face of evil, maybe. HBO's immediately-addictive miniseries The Night Of concluded, appropriately perhaps, on my birthday. Since the finale on Sunday, the internet has had plenty of opportunity to decide how they felt about it, tear apart the plot, admire John Turturro's subtle, touching, eczema-plagued performance, and try to figure out if the fucking cat did it. Because in this new post-Breaking-Bad world, audiences not only accept intricate, realistically-paced drama on television, they practically demand it. The first gripping episode of this particular show was plotted in almost-real time. By the time Naz was sitting in the police station I felt like I too had been on an all-night E/coke/ketamine bender complete with a temporary blackout.
I was listening to a podcast recently and learned about the Norwegian obsession with "slow TV". Hours upon hours of a cross-country train ride. Bus rides. Boat rides. Salmon fishing. Knitting. KNITTING. The thing they all have in common being simply the ultimate and most logical conclusion to the reality television phenomenon. What's realer than a camera giving you a straight up uninterrupted view of the window of a 6 hour train ride? Even media giant Netflix thinks more than just the Norwegians might be ready for this next step of entertainment and has brought a small handful of these programs to their streaming service. I watched some of one of these "slow TV" programs (a "scenic" train ride from Bergen, Norway to Oslo, Norway- tunnels included) and I'm here to tell you that while I wasn't as riveted as some claim to be, I (dare I say?) get it. I do. I get it. Who doesn't find themselves transfixed by the passage of scenery on a train? In a car? Who hasn't sat and watched someone drawing or sewing or cooking quietly for a long time and not found it both slightly mesmerizing, and also meditative? You can figure some shit OUT on a long, quiet train ride. Why not replicate the experience in the comfort of your own home?
Television has been creeping closer and closer to moment-by-moment-reality for years now. Streaming TV has made shows willing to explore long, complicated, detail-filled plots. Episodes can focus on one tiny thing for long periods of time without any concern of losing viewership (remember that amazing "Fly" episode of Breaking Bad?) There were long stretches of real-time scenes during The Night Of that had me wondering, "would the television audience of my own childhood have stood for this?" Can we imagine people accustomed to the near constant one-liner comedy of Friends accepting entire 20 minute blocks of television programming where characters barely even speak to one another?
As our world gets faster, our focus on media that requires large, focused swaths of our time grows more plentiful. Dramas willing to drag one important yet totally quotidian task into half an episode are far less unusual these days. Particularly shows made exclusively for streaming, such as HBO or Hulu or Netflix, almost feel as if their refusal to be rushed is not just deliberate but edgier somehow. We have the technology to make things happen as quickly as we want not- we have an entire generation who has grown up prepared to absorb content in incredibly brief, flashy, YouTube-esque spurts -and yet. And. yet.
Who better to represent for us the ultimate slow down of TV than that ultimate symbol of mammalian relaxation, the humble housecat? Don't get me wrong, I can't stand cats. Pretty much for the same reasons John Turturro's character is initially turned off. I'm deathly allergic to them. When he picked the cat up with those ridiculous yellow kitchen gloves, I laughed hard and long. But cats know how to take it easy. Cats cannot, will not be rushed. Cats have epic attention spans when they are in the mood.
I think we are going to see a lot more thoughtfully paced, real-time dramas like The Night Of in our future, and possibly a lot more 9-hour programming slots of pastoral scenery. As we turn more and more to television to (perhaps ironically) fulfill our need to unplug, the inevitable slow-down will probably only grow slower. And maybe that's not a bad thing. Especially if you're a cat.
In honor of Gene Wilder's passing, a look back on some of his best Wonka moments that still represent the best of pure imagination. By Owen Panettieri (playwright, lyricist)
Gene Wilder is a legendary performer who gave iconic performances in many classic movies including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and The Producers. But for me, along with generations of children, he will most indelibly be linked to the role of Willy Wonka in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. From his unforgettable staggering-to-somersault entrance, Wilder owned the role of Wonka and was alive in every moment. He instills a remarkable mixture of delight, menace, mystery sarcasm and warmth into the role and expresses each emotion in such an unpredictable manner, on first viewing there's no way of telling where he was going (much like the Magic Boat Ride!). It's a performance that forces all the other actors in the film to be on their toes, not to mention the audience watching at home. I watch this movie in its entirety at least once a year, and I always remain surprised by Wilder's performance and in awe of what he accomplishes. Below are my top 10 line readings from the movie, presented in sequence within the film.
1. "Delighted to meet you, sir. Overjoyed, enraptured, entranced. Are we ready? Yes, good. In we go."
Directly south of New York harbor in New Jersey lie the Sandy Hook beaches. They're a very popular stretch of beaches for New Yorkers, given their proximity and a convenient high-speed ferry that will get you there from midtown in a mere 45 minutes. In the middle of this stretch lies Gunnison Beach, the only legal nude beach in the north east. This past weekend, my husband and I were invited by another couple, Jim and Nick - Gunnison veterans - to attend a friendly birthday gathering there for Nick.
I'd say it's pretty much a sure thing...
We discussed. This is a couple we run into frequently - they live in the neighborhood, and Jim used to attend MFF with us. We've also run into them a few times at the Farmer's market in Union Square. They share our passion for cooking with fresh ingredients. Jim works in theater and Nick's in fashion and art. We're always saying we'd like to spend more time with them, and this seemed like as good an opportunity as any. On the other hand, we were trepidatious: both of us relaxed a bit in our healthy eating and fitness regiments after the wedding. I'd venture to say neither of us is in the best shape of our lives, and it's no fun to be naked and surrounded by a group of judgey gays when you're not feeling great about your body.
Then, the night before, after a few glasses of wine, we said "fuck it" and decided to go. Both of us wanted a beach day, and we decided we could always keep our suits on if we weren't feeling the spirit. The only other time I'd been to a nude beach was on Fire Island, and my younger self definitely didn't have the guts to go au naturale. The ferry dropped us off across the bay and we boarded the shuttle to Gunnison, trekked down the path to the beach and found our party - all of whom were happily sunning themselves completely naked. We looked around; the vast majority of beach goers were completely naked as well. And while there was plenty of eye candy, there was also a wonderfully comforting variety of body-types and ages. Off came our suits, on slathered the sunscreen, and we proceeded to have a wonderful day with a wonderfully welcoming group of naked gay men.
Many years ago I was part of a small theater company, maybe a dozen regular participants. We did political songs and sketches, and we always needed fresh material. We met in living rooms, we performed wherever they would have us.
One night we were having a typical meeting where people brought in new ideas. I had drafted a song which contained these lines, meant to limn the typical death row inmate:
He's probably black He's probably poor He's probably guilty But of that they're not sure What's their rush?
The phrase He's probably guilty was chosen deliberately. Attacking capital punishment on the grounds that "innocent people are sometimes convicted" is a terrible strategy, as there are many heinous criminals whose guilt is in no doubt. The only solid argument is moral: the State should not be a party to cold-blooded killing, period. And if one doesn't agree, at least the basis for disagreement is clear.
One of the members of my group, a brilliant lawyer, reacted furiously. Her current client, desperately seeking a stay of execution, had been the victim of an obvious frame-up. How dare I suggest otherwise? She stopped just slightly short of saying that if the case was lost, it would be my fault. (For the record: the stay was granted, and the sentence eventually commuted to life imprisonment without parole. She's a very good lawyer.)
It seemed obvious, even in the moment, that the critique was completely off-base. Clearly this was the logic of a trial: never concede anything, and if you can't refute it, ignore it.
But this was a writer's group, not a trial. I made a half-hearted attempt to explain what I was going for, and I waited for someone to suggest that the lawyer's (very reasonable) anxiety over her client had colored her perception. Alas, nobody was willing to do so, not even the group leader; I felt terribly let down, and gave up on the group soon after.
This is an extreme example, but anyone who has been in group discussions knows that they can be a miserable experience. In any group of more than a few people one is liable to hear at least one response which is at best a waste of time and at worst deeply discouraging. Why does this happen? Why do people who are not in competition attack each other? Why do so few people seem to understand how constructive criticism works?
I was once part of a political organization which disintegrated in a very acrimonious schism. I felt very saddened by the acrimony, which seemed foolish, as if expressing a desire to repudiate the positive aspects of the experience. So I started a private online forum where I would post photographs of the group in its heyday. Soon other people did the same, and things were calm for a couple of years. I discouraged text posts, because I knew that once the grudges started surfacing everything would fall apart all over again. I had consciously created a safe space.
One day, sure enough, someone posted an angry grumble about the Bad Old Days, not hesitating to insult friends and families. I deleted it, knowing that many would leave the forum if I didn't. Other people chimed in. I deleted them, too. People objected to my heavy-handed moderation, I gave them suggestions on how to start their own forum. They did, and those interested in grumbling did so happily in the new location. Finally free to vent: that was their idea of a safe space. (I'm not saying they were wrong.)
Right now, a friend of mine has a sort of 'fan page' devoted to Hillary Rodham Clinton. The participants simply want to be left in peace to discuss their candidate without being attacked from either the left or the right. That's another kind of safe space.
There are times when new ideas (or new writers) need to be treated with delicacy to cultivate their potential; and times when they need to be attacked energetically from every angle to expose their flaws.
Most teachers naturally respect their students' personal histories and advise them of upcoming challenges; but then there are the ones who are cruel.
Most students are reluctant to claim the need for special accommodations; but then there are the petulant narcissists.
In short, the University has laid out questions which deserve rigorous exploration, not tweetstorms.
I find it telling that nobody seems to be talking about the biggest issue, or perhaps it's been conceded: the University's refusal to rescind invitations to speak. This seems the most significant because it's actually happened in several cases.
Friday is payday. The White Horse cashes your check - no waiting!: six bits on the dollar, and you get a free beer.
Some workers drink their wages away. Other workers have some sense and go home with some cents.
Saturday, the workers who can't work don't. Too old, too sick, too dumb, or too smart - they go to The White Horse. You get a free corned beef sandwich.
And that's how it goes.
One time, there was this guy comes in. Dressed like a longshoreman but with a guitar. He orders a beer and a sandwich. Ernie, the bartender, snorts and says it's on-the-house if the guy plays us a good song.
The guy tells us about this time when he was riding the rails, and he had a dog named Petey. And one time, this railroad bull started hassling him and Petey, and Petey bit the bull's ass! I never seen Stan laugh that hard in my life.
The guy asks us if there's any songs we want to hear. Everybody shouts out a song, and, one after another, the guy plays them all. Stan named about a dozen songs, and the guy played them all.
Ernie says, "You drink for free, friend," and the guy says, "Well, all these fellers are singin' with me, so can my band drink for free?" And that's how we all got free drinks on that Saturday.
As it was getting dark, the guy says he has to keep movin' along. Everyone stood up to shake his hand. And, with a big grin, he shook everybody's hand. Stan and George and Frank and Lou and Ernie and me.
I hope he'll come back.
PAUL PAKLER is an actor and writer living in New York City. EMAIL HIM | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR