Category Archives: VFX Article

Terry Jones’ Sci-fi Comedy Absolutely Anything Wraps

Did someone order Simon Pegg and a talking dog?

simon pegg terry jones absolutely anything dog robin williams

They’ve taken their sweet time about it, but finally the fates have conspired to bring us a Terry Jones movie about a schoolteacher (Simon Pegg) who is given godlike powers by aliens (the rest of the Monty Python team) and has a dog who can talk (Robin Williams). The film’s name is Absolutely Anything, and it’s just wrapped, releasing the image above to celebrate.

“It’s about a man called Neil, a teacher in a sink secondary school, who gets given magic powers by aliens. And he doesn’t know he’s got them in the beginning, so though he can make anything happen, he doesn’t realise until, well, his colleague says, ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’ and Neil responds with, ‘I’d make an alien spaceship hit class 4C and vaporise them.’

“Then there’s an explosion in the school, and they run to 4C’s classroom, open the door and there’s a vast hole in the ground.

“He turns the TV on when he gets home, and starts watching with his dog Dennis. He’s still saying to himself, ‘It can’t be true…’ To make his day worse, it turns out Dennis has done a couple of poos on the floor. Neil says, ‘I wouldn’t be clearing up this mess, if I could do anything. I’d say: “Dog mess, clear yourself up.”‘ And the dog mess quivers, then goes up on two little fat legs and jumps into the loo.”

Featuring an all-star cast – Kate Beckinsale as Neil’s love interest, Eddie Izzard as Neil’s headteacher – and working from a script by Jones himself and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles veteran Gavin Scott, Absolutely Anything is aiming for a springtime 2015 release.

Daredevil” To Be Made For Binge Viewers

With Marvel’s proposed live-action “Daredevil” series going straight to Netflix in 2015, this will allow fans to do something that has become common in recent years – binge watching.

Production on the “dark and gritty noir”-toned new series kicks off this Summer, and Marvel Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada tells CBR that the studio and showrunner Drew Goddard are carefully planning out the program as a whole rather than just separate adventures:

“One of the advantages is really from the planning stage – obviously it’s much easier to work with a smaller number of episodes than it is with a larger number of episodes.

We can sit there and look at 13 episodes and plan it out as a very large movie. It makes seeing the bigger picture a little bit easier. You can’t deny that there will be binge-viewing. You know that there are going to be some Marvel fans that when this show premieres, they are going to go on to Netflix, and they are going to sit there for 12 to 13-plus hours, and watch the entire thing all the way through.

Even the way that you parse out information and reveals within the show can be different than you would on weekly TV. With weekly TV, you sit there and go, ‘The audience may not want to wait two or three weeks to get this particular bit of information.’ Whereas with Netflix, we might be able to hold onto a particular piece of information, because they may just watch it two hours later.”

Casting on the series is expected to get underway soon. In related news, filmmaker Joe Carnarhan spoke with Movie Pilot last week about the brief time he was involved with the proposed “Daredevil” film reboot back during the property’s final days at Fox. Carnahan talked about his proposed take on the character:

“What people don’t realize about the DD project is that the producers of the film got to me very late. They had a script that I read and I thought that while the action was wonderful, the story didn’t really have any additional bite.

I suggested a trilogy as follows. ‘Daredevil ’73’ ‘Daredevil ’79’ and ‘Daredevil ’85’ where I was going to do a kind of ‘cultural libretto’ and make the music of those eras a kind of thematic arc. So the first one would be Classic Rock, the second one would be Punk Rock and the third film would be New Wave.

The problem was, the option was almost set to lapse so we made an eleventh hour bid to Marvel to retain the rights for a bit longer so I could rework the script. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. Marvel wanted the rights back. I don’t blame them.”

"Daredevil" To Be Made For Binge Viewers

Andy Serkis Does Everything, Animators Do Nothing, Says Andy Serkis

In his never-ending quest to be recognized as a serious thespian, character actor Andy Serkis continues to minimize the role of the animators who make his performances possible. With each interview he gives, Serkis seems to do more and more of the work, and the digital artists less and less. According to Serkis, just about the only things he doesn’t do at this point is build his own motion capture rigs and provide his own craft services.

Now that he’s set to direct an entirely motion capture version of The Jungle Book for Warner Bros., Serkis is even more dead set on diminishing the animators in the filmmaking process—at least in the interviews that he gives to the media, if not necessarily in reality. In an interview that Serkis did recently, he made one of his most preposterous statements yet: that he ‘authors’ his performances entirely himself, without the creative input of any other artist. According to Serkis, the only thing that the digital artists at Weta do is paint ‘digital makeup’ over his immaculate acting. Says one-man-band Serkis:

The technology has evolved in the sense that it’s become more transparent. You don’t really realize that it’s there at all anymore. And even more importantly, the perception has changed — the use of the authored performance is much more respected.

The technology is one thing, but basically one has to remember that it is only technology. Performance capture is another bunch of cameras. It’s 360 degree cameras filming an actor, and I think it’s the understanding of that has changed, and that’s happened because we’ve gone from a single character like Gollum to multiple characters in films like Avatar. It suddenly went from being an outside, peripheral activity and a singular activity to virtual production. Avatar was a groundbreaking movie. And [in terms of] performance capture live on set, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a game changer there because it enabled you to be actually out on location shooting the movie. And then this movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is the biggest ever. In Rise we were shooting on sets for the first time. And with this, it’s the biggest on-location shoot with performance capture and multiple characters. There’s been a significant change.

But also the way that Weta digital, whom I’ve worked with on oct of those projects, that they have now schooled their animators to honor the performances that are given by the actors on set. And the teams of people who understand that way of working now are established. And that’s something that has really changed. It’s a given that they absolutely copy [the performance] to the letter, to the point in effect what they are doing is painting digital makeup onto actors’ performances. It’s that understanding which has changed as much as anything.

Reportedly, Serkis used the same “animators only apply digital makeup” line at the FMX conference in Stuttgart, Germany a few weeks ago. His latest comments haven’t drawn much attention, although a handful of animators have noticed the io9 interview that is excerpted above. The scariest observation was made by veteran CG animator Keith Lango who astutely noted on Twitter [see below] that though Serkis may not have any clue what he’s talking about, his comments accurately reflect the underlying desire of mainstream Hollywood. Certainly, James Cameron would approve.

Check Out the Official Logo for Marvel’s Agent Carter!

Just days after ABC officialy order the Hayley Atwell starring “Marvel’s Agent Carter” to series, Marvel Entertainment has debuted the official logo for the series which you can check out below. The drama is based on the One-Shot featured on the Iron Man 3 home release and is described as follows:

It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life – Steve Rogers.

“Marvel’s Agent Carter” is executive produced by Christopher Markus, Steve McFeely, Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Jeph Loeb.

carter640

Photo: Ruffalo’s “Ultron” Mocap Mask

Actor Mark Ruffalo has shared a new Instagram photo from the set of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” showing him in a mo-cap preparation mask ahead of him playing scenes in the film as The Hulk. Ruffalo has previously revealed that Gollum and Caesar the Ape himself, actor Andy Serkis, is helping Ruffalo in his performance this time around.

Can you guess what this is?

A post shared by Mark Ruffalo (@markruffalo) on

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT SERIES PITCH (PART 2: THE PERFECT CONCEPT)

In Part 1 I explained how I pitched one series with $13,000 worth of artwork and another with two sentences on the fly, and I sold the two sentences. But why did my two-sentences sell? What was it about the concept? What made it so good?

In Part 1 I explained how I pitched one series with $13,000 worth of artwork and another with two sentences on the fly, and I sold the two sentences. 

Why did Peter Roth buy my two-sentence pitch? What was it about the concept? What made it so good?

Quite frankly, I don’t know. Which means there was a good deal of luck involved.

Peter just happened to be looking for a high-concept-live-action-one-hour-cop-show and that’s just what I happened to pitch him. But I’m sure he’d heard dozens of cop pitches and didn’t buy any of them. What made mine better?

I don’t know the answer to that either. More luck, perhaps.

Unfortunately, luck cannot be studied, understood, practiced or applied. It is, by definition, what happens when one does not know what they are doing.

Hall of Fame golfer, Gary Player, often says, “The more I practice the luckier I get.” There is a lot of truth in that statement.

Writers can not only practice their writing skills, they can practice their research skills. Both will increase their “luck”.

I was lucky that Peter bought my series. But if I had asked him beforehand what he was looking for I might have learned a lot. Probably enough to have not pitched him the first concept that he passed on, and spent more time on the one that he bought.

But you can’t always ask the buyer what they want. Often you just get a meeting and the pitch is the first time you get a chance to speak with them.  Regardless, it helps to learn whatever you can about what your buyer is looking for, or not looking for. You can find out their production lineup or what their audience is watching. Find out what they’ve bought, what did well and what didn’t. The more you know the more prepared you will be to pitch, and the better chance you’ll have of being “lucky”.

Maybe.

Why maybe? Because research is not the only way to develop a good concept and sell your pitch. There is also the THIS-IS-WHAT-I’VE-CREATED-TAKE-IT-OR-LEAVE-IT method. No research. No focus groups. Just pure imagination. And if it sells, you might call it pure luck.

So what makes a great concept?

A great concept is one that sells!

Moral of the story: There is no perfect pitch and no perfect concept. So just choose a method—research or flying by the seat of your squarepants—create the best damned series (or film) concept you can, pitch it with passion—and pray.

That’s what I do.

©Jeffrey Scott, All Rights Reserved

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT SERIES PITCH (PART 1)

I’m asked questions all the time about pitching animated TV series. Do I need a bible? — Do I need a pilot script? — Do I need artwork? —Do I need a few minutes of animation?  Rather than tell you what I think you need, let me illustrate the reality of pitching with two personal anecdotes.

I’m asked questions all the time about pitching animated TV series.

Do I need a bible? — Do I need a pilot script? — Do I need artwork? —Do I need a few minutes of animation?

Rather than tell you what I think you need, let me illustrate the reality of pitching with two personal anecdotes.

Years ago, Peter Roth (currently the Chief Executive of Warner Bros. Television) was the president of Stephen J. Cannell Productions. Peter brought me into the studio as an executive producer to create a children’s division for the company. It was before dinosaurs became hugely popular, and I created and developed an animated action-adventure dinosaur series. I wrote a bible. Then I commissioned $13,000 worth of artwork, including an 11×17, 24-page pitch book with illustrations of every character, dinosaur, piece of hardware and primary locations. I had an awesome 15-inch sculpture made of one of the dinosaurs. And to top it off, I commissioned a full-size 30×40 inch one sheet from one of the top graphic design houses in Burbank.

I pitched the series to Jeff Sagansky, who had recently departed NBC where he was Senior Vice President for Series Programming. He was awed by the pitch and agreed to get the series distributed if we could come up with the financing. The following week I found out that one of the networks had bought another dinosaur series and my show suddenly went extinct.

Flash forward 10 years. Peter Roth was President of Production at Twentieth Network Television. I went to his office on the Fox lot to pitch him an animated prime-time series. Peter had just moved into the office so while we were schmoozing we were constantly looking for places to put our water glasses down without making rings on his new wood table. So we put them on magazines and scripts.

I started pitching him my series and halfway through it I could see him losing interest. I stopped and said, “I know you’ve already passed, but so I don’t feel like a total idiot let me finish the pitch.” He did. I did. He passed.

As he was walking me out of his office I gave him a two-sentence pitch for another idea I had been working on. He smiled and the meeting was over.

To thank Peter for taking the pitch I sent him a set of silver coasters for his coffee table. A few days later he called me and said, “Thanks for the lovely coasters. I want to buy your series.” It was such a shock I almost lost my breath. He bought the two-sentence pitch.

The moral of these stories is this: There is no such thing as the perfect pitch. You can have $13,000 worth of bells and whistles and not sell your series. Or you can give two sentences on the fly and sell it. There are no absolutely right or wrong answers. You never know for sure what will work. The bottom line is that you have to have a great concept that fits the buyer’s programming needs.

How do you get a great concept? I’ll explain in Part 2.

©Jeffrey Scott, All Rights Reserved

Oscar Isaac On His Star Wars Casting And Abrams

Oscar-Isaac-Star-Wars-Casting-Rumour

One of the most exciting names announced in the casting for Star Wars: Episode VII was Oscar Isaac, who wasn’t even rumoured until the day of the announcement. But he’s one of those actors we’ll always go out of our way to watch, so he further boosts our already sky-high hopes for the film. The shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated star of Inside Llewyn Davis is largely on lockdown now as filming commences, but he has left a few words slip about his casting.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Culture section, which will be on sale tomorrow, the actor said, “I could not be more excited to be a part of the Star Wars saga. It still seems hard to believe. Star Wars is a huge part of my family. Collecting toys, throwing themed parties. We had a big one for Return of the Jedi. I came as a gonk droid.”

He also makes it clear that he’s keen on his director, J.J. Abrams, telling the Sunday Times two days before his casting was announced, “There are some big movies that are quite good. And interesting, and have interesting stories. I think one person in particular is JJ, JJ Abrams. He makes really good stories. He puts a lot of heart into them. They don’t feel like they’re just exploitive.”

“I think there are a lot of different films you can be surprised by, and that have the element of the unknown and I think it is very important. It’s very important. That’s why I do understand some secrecy with certain films, not wanting to let it out.”

 

 

In other words, don’t expect to hear much more from him on the subject before Star Wars: Episode VII opens on December 18, 2015. That said, keep an eye on Empire for all your general news from a galaxy far, far away, and pick up the Sunday Times Culture section for more from Isaac, including his thoughts on his new film, The Two Faces Of January, out on May 16.

Call of Duty” Scribe Pens “Mission: Impossible 5

Will Staples, best known for his writing work on video game hits like “Need for Speed: Rivals” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” has been hired to write the script for a fifth “Mission: Impossible” at Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Drew Pearce was originally attached to pen the script before Christopher McQuarrie came on board to direct back in October. It isn’t known if Staples is performing a re-write or starting from scratch.

Tom Cruise is reprising his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and Simon Pegg has revealed that he is also returning. It’s presently unknown if the two key other ‘Ghost Protocol’ cast members, Jeremy Renner or Paula Patton, will also be back.

It has been rumored though that Jessica Chastain has been offered a role.

Source: THR