Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Monday Miscellany #3

  • Apparently Sony's Everquest 2 has added a new "feature". If you type "/pizza" the game launches Pizza Hut's web site, so you can order a pie whilst slaying dragons or virtually wooing an elven princess. This beats the former method, which was spending 5 minutes on the phone with a good pizzeria, ordering something that would actually be edible. The online comic Crtl-Alt-Del has taken this "innovation" to its logical conclusion. Joy.

  • Bad Cover Alert™: Some bimbo named Katrina Carlson has forsaken all credibility or originality and covered the classic "Drive" by The Cars. Another case of trying to cash in on someone else's brilliance, this abomination adds absolutely nothing to the original. Ben Orr is spinning in his grave, no doubt. I was driving (no pun intended) Sunday night when we heard this crap being pushed over the airwaves and into the car's stock radio. The resulting hysteria of both of us simultaneously trying to stop the demon incantation, coupled with the Seattle storm we've been having in Southern California almost ended in complete tragedy. We both hope that that jogger is OK. He certainly came down hard after hitting the hood.

  • Bad Cover Alert™ #2: "Dirty Laundry" by Lisa Marie Presley. I like Lisa Marie and I wish her success, but this is not the way to go about it. Some tunes don't need to be covered. Ever. Of course, this might be better than listing to the latest Jennifer Lopez, but I can think of about 9 dental procedures that would fit that bill.

  • Jessica Alba apparently is done sleeping around. I know this is tough to hear, but you'll get over it. I promise.

  • This might be the way to make a movie. Let Oliver Stone royally screw it up, then just don't do what he did. At least you can't do any worse, right?

  • What? Today's Tuesday you say? I was on holiday yesterday, so piss off.
  • Friday, February 11, 2005

    Further Evidence of the Demise of Originality

    I offer this:



    I don't object to the poster design. In fact, I kind of like it, although I would have done some things differently. But this marks the 938th time that "Terror has a new name" or some variation thereof has been used to promote a horror film. It's time to retire the line into the cliché wing of the Copywriter's Hall of Fame. Post haste.

    Further, it doesn't even work in this case. Which name are they talking about? The Jacket? The copy line is near the actor's name, not the title. So does this mean that 'Brody' is the new name of terror? Maybe Knightley is. Her teeth are certainly scary, but I'm not sure they inspire terror in anybody. I think you'd have to be a bit dodgy in the heart to have anything to fear from either of these two.

    Visually, this poster isn't an improvement on the first two, one of which offered up the ugliest picture yet seen of the not-so-attractive Keira Knightley. The first two were quite daring in their technique, which elevated them past the "big head" posters that they are. This new one is OK, but pushes no boundaries and plays it pathetically safe.

    Gratuitous Pop Star Post

    Apparently the new Mr. Spears, in addition to being a total scumbag, is about 5' 6", as seen in top-secret government surveillance photos of the demon ritual. This must be the reason her parental units gave their blessing to this unholy union. The previous Mr. Spears, Jason Alexander, although dim, gullible and apparently unable to tell the difference between a real girl and a fake one (which may speak volumes about BS's taste in men), may have been too large a specimen to be controlled by their alien-demon hybrid technology.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    True Hollywood Marketing Stories™ vol. #1

    It's part of the job that you get projects that are fun to work on for one reason or another (big movie, classic, something you really liked, etc.) and then there are projects that aren't so much fun (the studio is basically dumping this title, Pauly Shore movies, etc.). A while back, I was given one of the latter.

    The studio had been going round and round with the primary star of this particular movie. They were trying to get a key art* approved. This was a dog title. It had sat on the shelves for something on the order of 2 years. There's generally one reason for a movie not getting a release: it sucks. There are occasionally other reasons, but the when it doubt, it's this one.

    This movie didn't have the makings of an out and out suckfest. The primary star is a well-known comedic actor, was teamed up with another well-known and liked comedic actor, co-starred an major award-winning actor and was directed by an award-winning director. On paper it looked good. But its tomato meter is below 10%.

    Ouch.

    So the studio has gone countless rounds with the star, trying to get them to approve something. The star doesn't have contractual approval rights, but this star has another hit movie out as well as more projects in the pipeline with the same studio and they want to keep the star happy. They've given the star something on the order of 100 versions. So far, no good.

    They call us up to basically have someone to take a fresh stab at it. We're given the direction that the star wants something more sophisticated. Said star doesn't want it to look "sophomoric".

    I get the idea that the star has never seen the finished movie. It's not Gigli-bad, but one thing it is not is sophisticated, in any way.

    So we get to work on it. There is another issue with this title: there is practically no photography and half of what we have is of such poor quality as to be unusable. Joy.

    So we put together about 8 really cool designs for our first round submission. There's a couple that would have really stood out on the shelf. Good stuff. We submit, wait a litttle, and get feedback from the client. They want to go further in one direction. This continues for a few rounds and all of a sudden we're in the 20's.

    At this point, some (or maybe all, I don't know) of the designs are passed by the star. Apparently the star likes them, but has now decided that they don't want to be on the cover of the box at all.

    So we pick up our jaws off the floor and get to work doing layouts with only the co-star. We do some wild, cool stuff. We're getting graphic with some of the designs, no photos. At the home entertainment end of the spectrum we generally don't get to flex our chops so much, so in some ways this has become a cool project. We finish more designs and submit to the client for approval. Pretty soon we are in the 60's.

    Then the client calls. The studio has decided that because this movie was such a turkey, it would be unfair to the co-star to have the DVD's success on their shoulder's alone, so we are to come up with some more designs without. any. stars.

    So now we have two names and a title that has no value attached to it. All we do have is some concrete direction from the client as to how to proceed, so we manage to get an approved design (after crossing the 80 mark).

    Now we're getting into finishing the art, which means that our retouchers work on it so that it looks as good as possible when it gets printed. This is generally this easiest part of a project.

    But not this time.

    We wind up doing about 20 versions of the "approved" key art, as the client tweaks two elements ad nasuem. We have to shoot (photograph) people from the office daily for about a week until this one is put thankfully to rest.

    So a title that bombed at the theaters goes to around 200 designs for the DVD cover and has not one, but both stars cut out of it. (And no, my 100+ designs were not a record for me.)

    It's stories like these that make me think that the studio assertion that movies don't make profits might be true.

    Naaaaaaaaaa.

    But this story was all true.



    *'Key art' is the term used for a movie's main poster. When it comes to the home entertainment side of things, 'key art' comes to mean the front of the DVD/VHS package. Sometimes this is the same as the movie's theatrical poster, but a lot of times it is a new or a derivative design (generally for marketing purposes.)

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    A Sadder Day

    My earlier satirical blog about Alone in the Dark isn't half as funny as this supposedly true account of the scripting of said masterpiece. Enjoy.

    By the way, the trailer for Bloodrayne may make you go blind. You've been warned.

    Self-Promotion Saturday!

    I've filled up my first list at Amazon of packages designed by me. Fear not, friends, as I have another list in the works. Just waiting for the studios to send the release data to Amazon on several titles.

    And here is the finally started, long-awaited international list. There's more to come and probably more back titles that I can't think of right now.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    Oh. My. God.

    I just discovered that iTunes has Eddie Izzard albums available for purchase. I just give them my password and I get offbeat historical funny goodness delivered. straight. to. my. computer.

    There goes my productivity for, oh, February. Joy.

    iTMS, you are a diabolical mistress. Oh yes. Oh yes.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    More Arrogance

    As you've probably already heard, coach Rudy T. is about to quit the Lakers, halfway through the season. The national sports media says that this move is health-related (although nothing to do with the cancer he battled a few years ago, thankfully). The official line from the team is only that he's thinking about it.

    Right.

    What the screaming heads (Stephen A. Smith) on Sports Center won't go out on a limb and say, although the more connected local radio hosts know, is that it is a cancer-related decision.

    Cancer spelled with a 'K'.

    This is the kind of Kancer that had Zen-Buddist and all-around-laid-back-guy Phil Jackson seek therapy to help him deal with it. This is the kind of Kancer that would score 40 one night and then not take a shot in the first half of the next game because he was criticized for not distributing the ball enough. When this Kancer leads the team in scoring this year, they're a .500 club. When he doesn't, they're 4 games over. And he's been out for a couple of weeks, so that's pretty telling.

    I'm not going to discount the fact that Rudy T.'s health is not a factor, but he had health considerations when he came on board to do the job. I don't think this is a Rick Marjerus kind of turnaround situation. I believe that he thought he could deal with the Arrogant One, the LA press, the LA fans and the live-by-the-three, die-by-the-three team that management had given him. He thought this was a re-building year (although about half of LA didn't get that memo). He was realistic. He's coached before, he's dealt with press and expectations. He's won two rings as a coach.

    This came down to the one reason he came to the job: the star. And now working with the star has turned out to be so horrible that he's willing to put his tail between his legs and slink back out of town. That's also pretty telling.

    So in the off season, they'll need a new coach (one of the assistants is the interim head coach for the remainder). But who would want this job? Honestly? Would you coach this team? I wouldn't. It's gone from being one of the marquee franchises in all of sport to a daily soap opera. You've got the playboy chemist who hangs with Hef and has installed a puppet GM. The defacto GM is a surly star who alienates all who come into contact with him and certainly did something untoward with a girl in a Colorado hotel room 20 months ago.

    And you can watch it from floor seats that will still run you thousands of greenbacks.

    Joy.