Archive: Sep 2008

Godfather – restored

What fabulous news – they’ve painstakingly restored the epic!

The final product, which the studio is calling “The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration,” combines bits and pieces of film recovered from innumerable sources, scanned at high resolution and then retouched frame by frame to remove dirt and scratches. The color was brought back to its original values by comparing it with first-generation release prints and by extensive consultation with Gordon Willis, who shot all three films, and Allen Daviau, a cinematographer (“E.T.”) who is also a leading historian of photographic technology.
Critic’s Choice – Pristine Glory of ‘Godfather’ Films in ‘Coppola Restoration’ Set on Blu-ray and DVD – Review –

The rest of the article makes me want to run out, buy it and watch all three films back to back. Here’s a small taste –

Watching the first film, you are struck again by how little screen time Marlon Brando actually occupies. Most of his work is done in the 20-minute opening sequence, as the Godfather sits in his study, receiving supplicants on the day of his daughter’s wedding. This is a piece of superbly efficient expository writing, setting out an exotic milieu, describing its rules and moral configuration, and establishing the larger-than-life figure who presides over and protects it.

And Brando plays it like the master he was, balancing just enough exaggeration (the cotton-stuffed cheeks, the asthmatic voice) with pure behavioral naturalism (the eyes that go blank when he is bored or distracted) to create a figure that both belongs to this world and is too big for it. After that sequence his work is effectively done, and the character can recede into the background of the action (he spends much of the rest of the movie recovering from an assassination attempt) without surrendering his dominant presence.

So, click through and read it.

And at the bottom of the article, a juicy little tidbit. Sex And The City: The Movie DVD also comes out this week. And it has 12 minutes that I didn’t get to see in the theater… Hmm… that screams “no brainer” to me. Count me $35 lighter.


The problem is us…

The NY Times takes a look at the state of the indie world. At a time when so many indies did well at the Oscars last year, why are so many indie studios closing??

But that embarrassment of riches is a direct cause of the present desolation. Those movies were sent out into a brutally competitive marketplace, a Hobbesian battlefield of each against all. Competition may be healthy, but in this case the odds of winning seemed to grow increasingly long as the victories became pyrrhic. In principle, the middle-sized movie is a way to minimize financial risk. With some notable exceptions, like Miramax at the end of the Weinstein era, the specialty divisions have advertised their thrift and moderation, often capping production costs at $10 million or $15 million or $20 million.

Compared with the $100 million that the big studios now routinely spend on their franchise movies, that’s not a lot. But the effort to make good on even a modest investment frequently becomes an exercise in throwing bad money after good. Building an audience for a movie that doesn’t capitalize on the mass appeal of a pre-existing pop cultural brand is an expensive proposition, and a huge gamble.

Ah, market dynamics. Indies are hot, so there are a ton of indie movies. Then, there are too many indie movies and the producers need to spend more and more to get audiences to watch them. The game goes from being a high probability that a small investment will succeed to a low probability that your now high investment will succeed.

Ideally in true market dynamics, winners are weeded out from the losers. The “smart” players will stay around, get smarter and earn more of the small indie market, but do so profitably. IF it is a big enough market. Here’s the kicker –

Will there now be fewer? Would that be a bad thing? Will fewer mean better, or just more of the same? These questions have ultimately less to do with the movie business — which always changes and always stays the same — than with the state of the audience. All of these strategies of marketing, branding, campaigning and publicizing amount to a strenuous, sloppy effort to intuit the desire and influence the behavior of moviegoers. And the problem may be not that there are too many movies, but that there are too few of us.

As an aspiring filmmaker, I believe there will always be filmmakers who want to make indie movies – movies that are not feel-good, big budget movies. And there will always be an audience. The question the NY Times proposes is is the audience big enough.

I wonder. Does this audience only consume indies? No. They also consume big budget. So how many indies can they watch and how can yours be one of them? That’s what everyone is trying to solve.

I think the answer will not be to spend more. It will be to spend differently. The cost of acquisition has to go down, the engagement method has to be different. Will be fun to watch… and perhaps, at some point, participate 🙂