Some years ago when I joined the Writers Guild of America, I went to a party where a veteran screenwriter said that members of the profession generally gripe that they are treated like second class citizens in the Hollywood hierarchy. He then repeated the old joke about the dumb would-be starlet who actually thought she could find fame and fortune in the film business by sleeping with the writer. It may be time to rethink that thought process. At least writers have the WGA to look after their interests. When we go to the movies, we take for granted the talents of the visual effects artists who bring the astounding special effects to reality. However, as fimmaker Lee Stranahan points out, these are among the most under-valued of today's creative movie making team members. Although many members of the film world's most powerful unions get royalties on non-theatrical revenue streams from the films they work on, visual effects artists have no such benefit. There is also no union representation for them, and- as Stranahan pointsout- they are often listed after the caterers during the credits roll. Stranahan makes a poignant plea for James Cameron, the most notable supporter of visual effects technology, to take up the cause of these artists. Click here to read
Vanessa Redgrave accepts the lifetime achievement award. (Photo: BAFTA/Brian Ritchie)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Just because the BAFTA awards was the social event of the season in London doesn't mean British ex-pats were willing to let their countrymen have a monopoly on partying. On Sunday night, members of BAFTA's American east coast contingency gathered to watch a simulcast of the awards show. The venue was a strange one for people from a nation that is generally immune to the joys of baseball: Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Central Park South, founded by the late New York Yankees legend. Indeed, it was not a love of baseball that led BAFTA officials to rent the venue for the second year in a row. Rather, it was the abundance of TV screens strategically placed around the restaurant that affords virtually every diner a prime viewing spot. I was the guest of Lisa Harrison of BBC America, and a member of BAFTA's east coast office. Thus, I had to 'suffer' being the only male at a table of charming British ladies, each of whom had some very interesting takes on how they wanted the awards to turn out. Understandably, they were rooting for the home team and were pleased when a British film won a significant award.
Host Jonathan Ross (Photo: BAFTA/Brian Ritchie)
Although the show's host Jonathan Ross is largely unknown to Americans, he's an iconic figure on British TV (imagine someone with the clout of Jay Leno and David Letterman). Ross's monologue was not as razor-sharp as we might have expected, but the refreshing thing about the BAFTA telecast is that it is actually about the films and filmmakers, not the comedic timing of the host. I also like the fact that there is virtually no padding to the ceremonies. Ross did a good job of moving the show forward at a rapid pace, with nary a second wasted. The acceptance speeches were all dignified and classy and the awards themselves were generally regarded by the New York contingent as well-deserved. (Interestingly, it seemed virtually no one was cheering for Avatar to win any major award except for the category of special effects. This led me to believe I am not alone in my view that the film is supremely over-rated.) The choices of director Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker as the top winners gained cheers from the crowd.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN -- The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda.”
AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA – February 14th, 2010: For the
first time in America, a book has been published on Japan's foremost director
of Fantasy Films: Ishiro Honda. Known primarily for directing such classic Japanese monster movies
as Rodan, Mothra, Attack of the Mushroom People and the
original Godzilla, Honda has been a much-overlooked figure in mainstream
The book is the first to cover in English print Honda's life --
including his heretofore untold military service in Japan's Imperial Army
during World War II -- as well as the first to comprehensively cover all 25 of
his fantasy, science-fiction and monster movies. It is also the first to
give objective and critical analysis of Honda's filmmaking methods, favorite
themes and his relationships with actors and technicians.
Making use of extensive interviews from Honda’s colleagues, as
well as a wealth of original source material never before gathered into one
volume (including unpublished essays), MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN
is an affectionate tribute to arguably the most-prolific and influential
director in the history of fantasy films.