Draft Day on The Apple Box

draftdayappleboxGet your peanuts and Cracker Jacks out because the Whale Pranks boys are ready to round the bases in this Apple Box episode! Wait a minute…

, and all joined director on this new film that takes a look at the modern NFL. Load up the trailer and see what the boys have to say about Draft Day.

In Short: At the NFL draft, General Manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams. (IMDB)

“I can’t believe they’re actually making a movie about something in Cleveland.”

“I always enjoy the love interests in sports movies. They always have good chiseled jawlines. ”

Will you be rushing down field to be first in line for opening night or are you sitting this one out on the bench?

Check out more Apple Box Trailer Reviews! And head over to the Whale Pranks YouTube Channel for some moustaches, potatoes, awnings and things to do with rope.

Cutie And The Boxer

imagesCutie And The Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling, is a documentary that explores a long romantic and artistic relationship between husband and wife artists Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara. The film itself encompasses their past together through artistic displays of Noriko’s drawn art. As an audience member I struggled in the beginning to submit to Ushio’s art, though I do often find myself staring too long at modern art without feeling or being captured by it, as I believe one should be with art. However, as I learned more about Ushio and his life with Noriko I was able to see a little more into the feelings behind his work.

Ushio himself has always been in a struggle. He is constantly in a fight, in turmoil, and the representation of this battle is put onto the canvas. Seeing this made the experience as a viewer easier to understand. As a lifelong alcoholic, Ushio was forced to stop due to a severe allergy later in life. His wife mentions his drinking quite a bit and we are shown some old footage of Ushio drinking and getting out of control.

Although Ushio and Noriko continue with the art in their old age and anyone could easily admire their passion, their situation is desperate. As the two struggle to sell and show their art pieces there is an unmistakable staleness to the process for them. Ushio is pushing 80 and still creating giant cardboard pop art motorcycles, and Noriko continues to draw out her life and troubles with her past as her main art. Their art and intent with their art came off as a bit juvenile to me as a viewer, yet there was innocence about their love that kept me watching.

The little interaction we saw with their son was very mesmerizing to me. As he struggles through his own issues with substance abuse we see him introduce his own artistic talent to his mother. In that there is a beautiful moment shared with the viewer. Their relationship is chronicled along with their struggle in their work and that makes the story interesting.

The duality that is presented between Ushio and Noriko is heartbreaking to watch because in so many ways their life together is coming to an end and I am not so sure they feel content or fulfilled, but then again I don’t know too many artists who are. Visually and overall Cutie And The Boxer was well put together. The mix between the day-to-day filming of the couple inter-cut with archival footage and Noriko’s art it is a trip to experience. I would suggest this film for anyone looking for an artistic journey and a very real look at a long time couple who have the battle scars to prove their life story together.

As always, @lahphotography

TSC 2014: Adventures in Writerland Part 2

tscmasterclassphotoSo ends another year of the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. It was a weekend filled with sage writerly advice, free drinks and lanyards. Let’s take a look at the thrilling conclusion of TSC 2014.

To kick things off was a panel discussion of genre in Canada. Denis McGrath moderated the discussion between Cameron Porsandeh from Helix, Sam Egan from The Listener, Emily Andras from Lost Girl, and Allan McCullough from Sanctuary. They addressed one of the most pressing criticisms fans fling at creators: they “don’t know where they are going” with the story. An important point to remember is that TV is very much a collaboration so it’s almost impossible to have a rigid vision of their show’s future. They also noted that more often than not, you have to earn the right to be serialized, which is an interesting way to look at it.

I think one of the things that made this panel so engaging was Denis McGrath. You could see the experience he had has a moderator in the questions he asked and how he interacted with the participants. He brought his own genre experience to the table, which gave him insight, and he’s also just plain funny. No wonder he’s always asked to moderate a session at the TSC. Major props.

The esteemed Leonard Dick then took on the one hour drama. With credits like Lost, House, and The Good Wife , he definitely knows what he’s talking about. Dick went through how they would break down a season for the show and then right down to the episode. And yes, he talked about how they killed off Will. They tried to lay down the ground work so even though his death was a surprise, they had set up the entire Alicia-Will relationship for the most drama possible.

He also compared TGW to The Simpsons since they both burn through story so quickly. With the structure of the TGW, they often start in the middle of the court case and never get to the verdict. And though they strive towards accuracy in the legal aspects, sometimes the story trumps all. After all, nobody ever writes the network over the legal case.

After lunch, Eric Gilliland took us through his pilot Downwardly Mobile which starred Rosanne Barr and John Goodman. He was fabulous to watch because he was like an overly excited kid while he talked about the whole process. He broke down the development of it with Rosanne and how NBC loved it every step of the way, right up to when they killed it. He didn’t have an answer for why it didn’t get picked up except for that’s how the industry works.

He talked about his experience pitching and suggested that everyone take an improv class. Not only will it help with pitching but also with interacting with your actors. He also made an interesting note that nobody programs with their gut anymore. Cheers got picked up for another season even though they tanked in the ratings just because the president of NBC happened to like the show. Nowadays it’s all by the numbers and nobody is taking risks anymore.

To finish off the whole conference was my hero Michael Arndt. He broke down the secrets to having an insanely great ending. The main point was breaking down not only the external and internal stakes but also the philosophical stakes. Star Wars is such an amazing ending because they pay off all three stakes in less than 30 seconds. Each set of stakes have their arc throughout the movie and to make the best ending, there has to be a moment of despair where the protagonist has failed all of those stakes. You have to take absolutely everything away from them, including the one person they were closest to. Their closest ally turns their back on them and sides with the dominant values of the world instead of the hero/underdog values. What is so satisfying with Arndt is that he is so thorough and makes you look at the structure that you know so well in a completely new light. Made me love Little Miss Sunshine more than I thought humanly possible.

Overall, the conference went incredibly smoothly and had a fantastic turnout. I would really like to say how amazing the staff of the TSC have been every year that Film Army has been involved. They are so helpful and unbelievably nice. Also a shout out for the awesome volunteers in their snazzy orange shirts. With an event like this, it’s funny since most of the successful people in those rooms started out in positions very similar to those orange shirts. Thank you to the entire TSC team! 

Well, it’s hard to believe it’s over and that it’s a full year to the next one, but I’m already looking forward to it! (Can I suggest speakers? Because Bryan Fuller would make me swoon.)