Let’s face it, poetry is not easy to write. In fact, most poets come in the form of cutsie limericks or Facebook memes these days. So it is very refreshing to read the poetry in Pure Oceans, written by our own Avery Laing.
You might not know it, but Avery has a wide variety of talents and interests. He is the voice actor for Useless the dog in Wyatt’s Fort. He is the waiter in the web series Saving Harper Ross. He serves as a Production Assistant in most Lumindeo films. And he is also the guy sitting over in the corner of Starbucks, headphones in ears, typing away his latest poem.
Pure Oceans, Avery’s latest poetry book, displays a wide range of topics and emotions. It is available at Amazon right now and you should totally pick it up. It is totally worth the read and no one wants to be the guy at the party that says, ‘poetry is lost on me.‘ That guy never gets the girl.
Check out our interview with Avery below and then be a good sport and go buy the book, paperback or digital. If you buy it this month it will help us send supplies down to Hurricane Harvey victims. Enjoy.
This week on DEO LIVE I was so excited to interview actor Theo Bray. You might recognize Theo from his acting in The Network as well as Wyatt’s Fort Season Three where he played the awesome Uncle Bob. Not only is Theo a great film actor but he is also a regular theater performer as well. How he has time for all his acting work, I have no idea. But you can check out his reel here.
I was so excited to have him come into the studio to discuss with me his top four important things for any actor, new or professional, to add to their acting arsenal. We also chatted about his new web series Kalah Keys. I’m so excited to bring you this interview. Enjoy the interview and check back in with more new DEO Live videos each week on DEO.TV
Production for Saving Harper Ross Seasons 2 & 3 Begins November
We released Saving Harper Ross season one back in April of this year and needless to say the series ended with a huge cliffhanger. So you could say we did it to ourselves. People immediately wanted more. I got calls and texts from fans pleading to know what happens next for our unnamed hero (played be James DeWitt III). While I don’t want to spoil anything here, it is safe to say that the end of season one is a bit cruel. So due to popular and insistent demand we are gearing up to keep the story coming.
Saving Harper Ross Finale
We are not only filming the next season of Saving Harper Ross. We are filming the finale season of the show as well. Harper Ross was always designed around three seasons, nine episodes. I (Chason) certainly did not want to pull a Lost and start not knowing how the show would end. I knew the importance of writing with the end in mind. Especially when the premise is a guy reliving the same day over and over. Early on Harper Ross was sketched out in its entirety to take place over nine episodes in a simple three act structure. I looked at it like a three act structure for the whole, yet each episode has it’s own series of three to four mini-acts.
This fall we are filming all six remaining episodes. Release dates are not out yet but it will be early in 2018. We have spoken with the cast and are super excited to work with this team again. We were really blessed with the talent on SHR. These guys are going to move on to some great and awesome things. I just hope that when one of them lands on a set with Christopher Nolan they invite me a long for tea time.
Watch SHR Now
If you haven’t seen Saving Harper Ross Season One yet, you can watch it HERE. It’s Free. It’s awesome. Do us a favor and tell your friends about it. Share it on Facebook. It means the world to us and we can’t do shows like this without help from you! So thanks in advance!
You’re probably wondering how to take over the world. It’s easy peasy.
Wyatt’s Fort Season Three: The Dreamy Schemey is Live!
We are so excited to release the latest season of Wyatt’s Fort! We did something a bit different with this season. Rather than three distinct episodes, we ran all three episodes together in one continuous story; The Dreamy Schemey.
We did this for a few reasons. First, the Bible story paralleling Wyatt’s adventure is about Joseph, his coat, and his ultimate rise to power under Pharaoh in Egypt. This is a big lengthy story and we didn’t think we could pull off such a big story in one stand alone episode. By cutting Joseph’s story into three parts we were able to tell it in a simple yet fluid way.
Second, Wyatt deals with some intense themes in this season involving trust; trusting God when it seems like God has forgotten you, trusting God works things together for His good, trusting that God has a plan. These are some seriously deep topics for both kids and adults. So we wanted to take our time building the story to reflect these themes and put it together so that in the end we have communicated clearly and Wyatt’s story is told in an excellent way.
Finally, by making the episodes run together in one epic story we can recut the show into a feature length film. While we are releasing the show on DEO.TV and RightNow Media in its episodic form, we are hoping to release the feature version into Redbox. Fingers crossed on that one!
We really pulled out all the stops to make this Wyatt’s greatest adventure yet; jets, sleeping gas, armored cars, cinder blocks falling from the skies. It’s awesome.
Check out the trailer below and then head on over to DEO.TV to watch it!
A Quiet Passion’s only draw is its protagonist—Emily Dickinson—but as it turns out the film’s not even about her.
What Paterson hit A Quiet Passion missed
Within four months two poem-to-screen films hit distribution. A Quiet Passion offers a biographical sketch of Emily Dickinson, interpreted by her own poetry. Paterson draws a story—inspired by William Carlos Williams selection of poetry entitled ‘Paterson’. Paterson’s secret ingredient is subtlety. Each scene urges a delightful inspection of the details. In QP, subtlety fades to slumber right around the thirty-minute mark. The QP screenplay is remarkably uneventful. Dickinson’s life may have lacked dramatic intrigue, but the filmmakers mistook drama for event and left us with a lack luster sequence of meaningless scenes.
Dickinson’s ‘greatest hits’ falls flat
The A Quiet Passion screenplay finagled Dickinson’s ‘greatest hits’ to fit its own objectives. The poems are not only forced into the story, but also grossly out of place. Rather than guiding the viewers’ affections and attentions they break the flow of the story, espousing not contemplation, but confusion.
The poems selected for the screenplay seemed to emerge from a high school textbook. Dickinson’s work is dense and broad. In several cases lesser known poems would have illuminated the story, rather than drug it along by a cryptic hitch of vaguely repeated themes.
Historicity and interpretation should be in dialogue
People will always take issue with films about real people. It’s obvious. I mean, history is never just fact. It’s always being interpreted by somebody. Welcoming differing interpretations of reality is the foundation for viewing art, but, there is a fine line between interpretation and manipulation. The use of Dickinson’s poems to understand her life appeared counterproductive. I almost had to squint to see where, writer and director, Terrence Davies wanted me to look. The interpretation seemed oddly disconnected from the actual poetry itself. I expected more from Davies.
Preach it—or don’t
Great films are not venting sessions to shame or correct or advise whomever sits out there in those woolly red seats. It’s as if Davies used the mouths of phony characters as megaphones for personal propositions. I’m not saying that it is wrong for filmmakers to have opinions and tastes and guide the story by them. Forcing a story to fit an abstract proposition to which it, organically, has little to do produces a disingenuous film.
As a generous middle-aged woman, whom I met in the restroom after the show, said “It might have been better as a book.” —emphasis on might.
In The Discovery Robert Redford and Jason Segel pair-up as a father-son duo trying to reconcile their pasts and alter their futures.
Dr. Thomas Harber (Redford), a renowned physicist, discovers brain activity that leaves the body after death. Because of this ‘discovery,’ he has the evidence to prove an after-life. This unimaginable discovery makes breaking news all over the world. The impact is dreadful. The proof that life after death exists results in mass suicides. Together entire families take their lives in order to start fresh in the next life.
Will (Segel) is scandalized by his father’s negligence. Harber refuses to take blame for the death-toll, yet forms his own boarding house for the suicidal. Will and his new-found companion Isla (Rooney Mara) thrust themselves into Harber’s cultic community. Will seeks to stop his father, but Harber plunges ahead to find out what the after-life actually entails. As they say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” That same generational curse of questioning entrances Will—who makes a discovery of his own in the end. . . or perhaps the beginning.
Charlie McDowell and Justin Lader’s film The Discovery tries to withhold straight answers.
It asks a lot of questions. McDowell and Lader’s interesting questions are what drove me to see the film in the first place. During a Q&A writer Justin Lader expressed that this
projected started when he and McDowell began asking, ‘what if somebody proved life-after-death?’ Their answer inspected the underlying guilt and regret that we humans harbor. McDowell and Lader suggest that such a discovery could result in suicidal hysteria, in order to ‘get there,’ that is, to get to a fresh start—a place where people can redeem their past lives.
The first three-fourths of the movie are tantalizing. But, unfortunately the story drops off the deep end when it tries to wrap-up.
Without giving to much away—McDowell and Lader attempt to answer one question, ‘what’s the after-life like?’ and they throw in a twist on top of that. The Inception-ending spin-off is a really unfortunate conclusion to a such a unique story. The final scenes of the film constrict the imaginative freedom that the rest of the film works to create.
Regardless, I consider the film well-worth seeing and certainly worth your time. The Discovery moves into territory of fact/fiction, moral/immoral, certainty/faith. It doesn’t accomplish what it set out to do, asking questions rather than giving answers, but it forges a path into sincere inquisition and story exploration.
The Discovery is available on Netflix, March 31, 2017.
Instead of maintaining equilibrium let’s cannonball into the next possibility.
We should be asking—“What do movie theaters have to give to our morphing cinematic culture?”
Our Cinematic Culture
I’m a big fan of movie theaters. Those nostalgic velvet curtains and thin-framed red seats transport me to the past. My mind swirls about the decades of cinematic history. Even the mouths of crunching popcorn and the slight fear of getting lice from the seat back well-up some sentiment—I’m not alone. Though I’m sitting in a crowd of strangers, for a small blip on life’s timeline it kind-of feels like we’re family. But, the more those ticket prices rocket the less likely I’ll be there. Video-on-demand platforms are offering more options and to tell you the truth I’m getting more into series over feature length.
My story is not uncommon. A flood of people, probably including yourself, are regularly accessing VOD. And, in the same breath, they are trickling out of theaters. Those at-arms-length films are cheap and abundant. But the cheap and plentiful film selections is not the major reason that viewing has shifted. According to Tim Bevan, Working Title co-chairman, the popular appetite has drifted to long-form narratives, series. Series like The Crown, which Working Title produces, requires budgets close to that of feature-length films. That money’s got to come from somewhere. Overall, it seems that people are more interested in VOD, because they are more interested in long-form narratives.
What About Theaters?
The moment start trying to “keep theaters alive” is the moment we fail as artists. Maintenance isn’t art. . . I mean, it’s not even business.
Music, theater, dance, painting, literature—they all explore. The arts push forward. They look for something new, swoop into unknown territory, ask forgotten questions, and seek untold stories. When we degrade to mere maintenance, we indulge in more singular and conceded sentimentality.
This tension between VOD and theaters has destabilized the filmmaking industry. But, cinema isn’t the first art form to go through massive shifts in funding, production and viewing. It’s just that film is young. This is a major shift, but tension is the place for creativity. It’s the place for collaboration.
We shouldn’t ask if theaters will die, but instead what is their potential. What do theaters have to give? In what way could they partner with VOD services? How would it work to screen a series? The community, the sound, the giant screen, the night on the town, the experience. I’m convinced movie theaters have a lot to offer long-form narratives and their VOD platforms. Theaters must start collaborating with VODs, and when they do—for better or worse—they’ll transform.
This year, watching the Golden Globes blew my mind! Last month my roommate and I laughed at ourselves. As La La Land won all of their Golden Globe nominations we shouted and cheered and fist-pumped. Our enthusiasm trumped every other ceremony we had watched. We were deeply invested in the films.
Films are seriously thought-provoking, sometimes devastating, and sometimes exhilarating. They tell us stories about how the world works, and even make sense of our own stories. But, there is more than one way to engage with them. Take a break from the normal routine of everyday and celebrate life.
1. See a movie that’s up for best picture.
Go to the theater to see Fences and Lion. If you want to have a night in, Manchester by the Sea and La La Land are both available for purchase.
2. Listen to the songs up for best original song.
You can listen to a taste of the nominees here. Did you know that Lin Manuel-Miranda (writer of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”) is up for receiving one of these?
3. Consider the story behind the story by tuning into some director interviews.
5. Host an Oscars Party, complete with a ballot competition and Oscar statues. . .made of chocolate!
Print official ballots here. And, don’t forget to include the kids in the competition. They often have an astounding intuitive sense.Yes, Oscar-shaped chocolates are on the market! Snatch some up for an extra sugar kick to get you through the three-hour ceremony.
The Oscars air on ABC Sunday, February 26 at 7:30 CST
Where can you find quicker access to new projects, trustworthy reviews, quality gear? Screen International and ICG Magazine.
Screen International is a movie-lovers dream. If you are one of those and do not yet have a fetish you can easily retrieve, I’ve got you covered. Screen has got it all from solid reviews and festival spots to special features on casts and crews. Sure, you can wade through IMDb and gather info on the ‘likely’ good films to be released in the coming months. But why would you do that when you could get served up a dish of spectacularly-edited, no-longer-secret cinema treats.
The January 6 issue showcased global upcoming film projects such as: Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson fashion project (UK), The Other Side of Hope (Finland), Our Time Will Come (Hong Kong), and Sheikh Jackson (Egypt). Editors traced the ins and outs of upcoming festivals. You may not get the low-down on Rotterdam’s impressive art installations anywhere else. One of their feature articles took a look at how the well-known comic director Denis Villeneuve made his gutsy move to the sci-fi drama Arrival. Screen International’s online presence can be found at www.screendaily.com. Screen prides themselves in their “in-depth
analysis, company profiles, interviews and expert insight into the global film industry.” If you need a basic or elaborate ‘what’s happening in film’ Screen is for you.
International Cinematographers Guild Magazine
ICG Magazine is one big how-did-they-do that?! If you’re like me, last December you found yourself in a theater ready and set to see Damien Chazelle’s stab at a modern musical. Three minutes into the film you were already near awe-filled tears: “That opening dance number, and oh oh, the music, but most of all, how did they shoot that?!” Enter ICG. ICG specializes on the how-did-they-do-that. They do interviews with cinematographers, spots on film crews, reviews of equipment and visions for the future of filmmaking. Their December issue included a feature on La La Land where they picked the brain of cinematographer Linus Sandgren. La La Land is filled with innovative technology, and risky cinematic decisions. That issue also included a section of bios on emerging cinematographers. Theses artists, including Eve M. Cohen and Eric Dvorsky, share their personal stories, favorite gear and new projects.
Its combination of technical and street language, alongside industry specific and common interest pieces welcomes a host of readers. Whether you are an accomplished cinematographer or just a newbie, ICG will whet your appetite for more of this visual goodness.
At Sundance 2017, World and U.S. Documentaries masterfully spotlighted the things we need to know—now.
You can always expect innovative, provocative and stunning films at the Sundance Film Festival. Though I am a big fan of dramatic films, this year’s doc selections knocked me out. It was almost like these doc-makers flew on a prophetic wind. We need these stories. Filmmaking takes years. But, so many of the documentaries looked like they had slept, awaiting January 2017.
When it comes to the Syrian civil war and the state of the prison system, I think its safe to say the majority of us are out of the loop. The web of systems, the histories, the facts and claims seem impossible to grasp. “I don’t even know what I need to know about this!”—is a phrase that incessantly ricochets about my psyche. Enter documentaries. Directors Evgeny Afineevsky and Jenner Furst draw from the stories of specific individuals to explicate major world events.
Cries From Syria
Cries from Syria guides the audience through the history of Syria’s civil war. It first dashes through the presidency of Hafez
al-Assad, 1971–2000 into the election of Bashar al-Assad. The quick paced scenes hit all of the major events that led to the Arab Spring. The majority of the film covers the brutal conflict in the last five years. Afineevsky presents an insider’s look at Syria through photographs and video that Syrians uploaded on social media. Journalists and activists, including children, guide the film with their personal stories and philosophies. The gruesome events reach beyond heart-breaking. When I looked at these courageous people I saw more than heroes. Cries from Syria premieres March 13 at 9 P.M. CT on HBO.
Time: The Kalief Browder Story
Time: The Kalief Browder Story exploits the bail-system trap and the gang-lorded prison,
Rikers Island. The 16 year-old, Kalief Browder was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years at Rikers Island maximum secruity prison. Browder explains that when his family failed to make bail, authorities sent him to Rikers—before he was even convicted of the crime. Scenes flash from Rikers security cameras to Browder to former Rikers correctional officers, bouncing from the personal to institutional.
Social injustice tends to get hidden behind the celebrity-idolized, egotistical social media and the hot-item-masquerade often referred to as ‘the news.’ Furst refuses to let us fall blind. The six-part documentary series, Time: The Kalief Browder Story airs on Spike TV March 1.
Afineevsky and Furst not only pieced together massive events into a digestible time-block. They did it for a reason, and they let you know. Neither of these documentaries are for the faint. Come ready to listen, ready to weep and ready to move.