Sunday, July 29, 2007
Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.
If you grew up in the 80’s, you couldn’t escape them. They were adored by millions of girls, and hated by guys because of it.
Today, “the Coreys” are a favorite punchline with comedians.
But, as much as it pains me to say it, that isn’t being fair. Looking back on their films, they were quite talented.
They both existed as actors before they met up. Feldman was already a known actor and he had appeared in such classics as GREMLINS, GOONIES and STAND BY ME. Haim played the title role in the much loved LUCAS. But it is when they teamed up that they became what they are best known for today.
So, since they have their new A&E reality show premiering tonight (10 P.M. EST), I decided to look back at the films they made together.
THE LOST BOYS (1987) – The film that brought them together. A vampire film (also with Kiefer Sutherland) directed by Joel Schumacher (one of his more tolerable films). While I haven’t seen it in 15 years, I’m almost afraid to mention the amount of times I saw it back then. It was one of those films that never got old. My sister (who I will out as a Coreys fan) would frequently rent it, and I wouldn’t mind watching it. Thinking back, I think I should watch it again.
LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988) – Here is another film that I shouldn’t admit to liking as much as I did. But, it gave the world Heather Graham, so we should be happy for that. Of course, it came out right as I was getting by driver’s license, so it was a very important subject matter. In fact, my father even joked to my driving examiner about the film (the coffee cup test). It was a fun film, even though it fell apart in the drunk driving finale.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (1989) – I didn’t see this film until the early 90’s, despite the theme song “Rock On” being everywhere at the time. When I did finally see it, I called my sister (who of course had seen it) and said “Why didn’t you tell me how good that movie was?” I think this is probably the CITIZEN KANE of Corey films. It was one of the body switch films. Also starring Jason Robarbs, Harry Dean Stanton and Meredith Salenger.
Of course, points have to be deducted from the film for Feldman's Michael Jackson impersonation.
BLOWN AWAY (1992) – BLOWN AWAY was a murder mystery film, inspired by BASIC INSTINCT. It was released on video in an unrated version. Normally, that is just a marketing gimmick. Not this time (and the DVD, while it says rated R, is that unrated version). I was kind of shocked to watch this and see the Coreys in numerous sex scenes. Even more shocking, the frequently unclothed female lead is none other than CHARLES IN CHARGE star (and brief Haim fiancé) Nicole Eggert! I never expected to see her in this type of role.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S LAST RESORT (1994) – I guess I will redeem myself to serious film fans now to say that there is one Corey film that I haven’t seen, and it is this one. It looks to be a comedy with the two running a resort island. It co-stars Maureen Flannigan, the star of the Burt Reynolds as alien father who speaks from a box sitcom OUT OF THIS WORLD.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM 2 (1995) – I remember very little about this other than it co-starred Robyn Lively (another fave 80’s actress of mine). It still gets shown on cable a lot, but isn’t up to the original.
BUSTED (1996) – This isn’t really a Corey film, but they are both in it. It is an AIRPLANE style comedy about a police department, starring and directed by Feldman with a cameo by Haim. I only saw it once on cable and, well, it isn’t worth looking for. All that I remember it are gratuitous shower scenes with Feldman and actresses as well as a cameo by Elliott Gould.
So, that is the Coreys. The filmography really isn’t terrible. I’d rather watch their films than, say the work of Pauly Shore or Steven Seagal.
I’ll be watching the new series.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
You may know Lucas McNelly from his blog 100 Films. When he isn’t writing his Uber Indie Film series, profiling independent filmmakers, he is out there actually making the type of films he is writing about.
His latest film is GRAVIDA. The story follows a woman with a secret, she is pregnant. She tries to hide this fact, while going out on a date with a new guy.
In the interest of full disclosure, I know Lucas. I read his blog regularly. We both contribute reviews to TalkingMoviezzz.com. I’ve emailed him on several occasions.
But, I don’t know him well enough that I’d automatically give his film a great review. I have never met him in person, so I could easily attack his film without his even knowing what I look like, so I can be honest about my feelings about it without fear of reprisal.
The good thing, there is no need for that as GRAVIDA is an excellent short film. Beautifully photographed with a terrific lead performance by Rachel Shaw. Called “A Study In Loneliness”, the film effectively creates a very somber tone that it is able to sustain throughout. It almost works as a silent film, as the visuals are so strong.
I contacted him about doing an interview, and he agreed.
How interested in filmmaking were you when growing up?
Not even a little bit. I was big into sports all the way through high school and didn't explore anything significantly artistic until my sophomore year of college. I am definitely a late bloomer.
Did you go to film school?
I majored in Broadcasting in college, but that was about 95% radio. I was the play-by-play guy for Geneva College (the birthplace of college basketball) basketball and football for 3 years. I applied, and was accepted to the University of Miami (Fla)'s graduate film program, but I decided not to go and continue teaching myself.
What are some of your favorite films?
Growing up my favorite film was "Hoosiers", for obvious reasons, and in college it was "Swingers". These days, I have a major crush on European Cinema, especially the works of Kieslowski, Truffaut, and Bergman, plus Menzel's "Closely Watched Trains" and Lelouch's "A Man and a Woman". As for American stuff, I really love "Cassablanca", "His Girl Friday", "Harvey", and the collected works of Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, and Richard Linklater, specifically the "Before Sunrise/Sunset" films, which are a major influence on my life in general.
Your film L'ATTENTE was obviously inspired by the French New Wave. How did that film come about?
That's a really interesting story that I don't know if I'd believe if I wasn't there.
So I always had this idea for a mostly silent short about a guy who couldn't get his coffee re-filled and how it turns into this big existential dilemma. It was one of those ideas that when I'd tell people about it, I could see they weren't connecting with it, but I was convinced it would work. Anyway, so I was asked to make a short film about suffering for a local film/theatre hybrid project and like an idiot I said yes. I pitched the idea and they didn't like it, so I pitched a few more which they didn't like either, until finally I got Matt Reed (the guy in the background) to talk them into the coffee idea (Matt's much better at pitching things than I am).
So I started working on it. I got a cast and a location and everything and the whole time I had no intention of doing anything other than a standard, hand-held, English language film. Anyway, cut to 2 hours before we're going to start filming and I'm still trying to figure out how to get this to work stylistically. Matt and I are brainstorming and I said something like, "I should have the title be in a different language", because I can't think of a good title, and Matt says, "you should put all the credits in a different language, just for the hell of it." We laughed it off and maybe 45 minutes later I realize that the film would be a perfect French New Wave film. Neither Matt or I know any French at all, so we get on the phone. Dan Stiker doesn't know French. Joanna Lowe (the uncredited waitress) knows a little.
In the span of an hour, through a bunch of phone calls, we get the script translated. Meanwhile, I'm fast-forwarding through my collection of Truffaut and Godard as a refresher course and trying to figure out new storyboards. We did all that in one hour, shot the entire film in 3 hours for $15, and one week later it was playing as part of the hybrid project.
Long story short: a DVD collection, a photographic memory, and a lot of luck.
Where did the idea come for GRAVIDA?
I couldn't sleep one night and I had this image in my head of a topless woman sitting on a bed with her back to the camera looking serene, but I knew that wasn't the whole story, that somehow the serenity was misleading. The image so reminded me of these old erotica photos and painting you see of nude women that are so beautiful, but at the same time completely non-sexual. I began to think how interesting it would be if this moment of serenity that the photograph captures were the only instant of serenity in that scene. As in, if you'd taken a picture at any other moment, you'd get something completely different. Maybe she'd just finished crying and was composing herself. From there the question became one of how to get her in that situation: topless in her bedroom and crying. For a while she was changing her shirt after spilling wine on it, but that wasn't working. It seemed flimsy. Rachel was actually the one who suggested the pregnancy, and that fixed a lot of problems, since a pregnant woman is more hormonal and therefore prone to crying. Plus, it gave the film a real, honest reason to exist, which was something I'd been struggling with for a while. From that point, I basically spent the next month picking Rachel's brain over email and going over and over the storyline until it was pretty much problem-free. I'd estimate there were roughly 500 emails and 3 or 4 face-to-face meetings before we were both happy with it and it passed my ultimate test of getting approval from my inner circle of my roommate Josh and Matt Reed.
Tell us a bit about casting.
Well, once it became a film about a pregnant woman, we had half of our cast right there. I put out a casting call among the young actors in Pittsburgh that pretty much turned up nothing and then it was a question of going through the theatre actors I knew in the city and trying to find a good fit, with a lot of help from Joanna Lowe, who seems to know every actor in the city. For a while I wanted the guy to be young and innocent, and that just wasn't working. Everyone we thought of was either unavailable or couldn't credibly play a straight man. It sounds awful, but Adam was one of the absolute last people we looked at. He's primarily a theatre director who acts sometimes, but he and I have similar tastes, especially when it comes to drama, and while he wasn't available, per se, he was nice enough to carve one day out of the tech week of his play to shoot all the apartment scenes.
What was the budget?
I wanted to shoot it for roughly a grand, but once I got Dave Eger on board, it became clear that to get the look we both wanted, we were going to go over that, and I'd rather go over budget and end up with a good film than scrimp and save and end up with something sub-par. I list the final budget at $2000, but it's higher than that by a couple hundred. Basically, we paid to rent lights and feed people and I bought everyone on the crew a case of their favorite beer or a bottle of their spirit of choice. They definitely earned it. We offset some of those costs by having a fundraiser and hopefully we can get the film to break even somehow. I've never had a film lose money and I'd rather not start now.
What about the technical specs as far as what camera you used and editing equipment?
I have a Canon XL1S that I shoot pretty much everything on, and while it's a good camera, I'd used it enough to know that it isn't great in low light situations, which is obviously the bulk of the film. But, we knew it could handle the office scene just fine (or, at least, it wouldn't be worth the additional rental costs for that upgrade). Dave was a big fan of the Panasonic DVX100b, so we went with that. I put a lot of the lighting and camera stuff in his hands and he and the gaffer, Don Yockey, did a fantastic job. We used a dolly that my roommate and I built from scratch and I edited the film in Final Cut on my G5 tower I've had for years. I've edited everything I've done after "window shopping" on that computer. I don't know what I'll do if it dies. Dave Young of Widget Studios in Philadelphia did some audio work for me, fixing what could be fixed, sweetening the score that was recorded on a 4-track recorder on a tour bus, I believe.
What are your plans for the film now?
I'm going to enter it in some festivals, sure, but my primary focus is going to be setting up a series of screenings similar to the premiere in cities all over the country. I find it hard to believe that there isn't a market out there for shorts that are different from the norm, and the feedback thus far seems to back me up. A lot of people seem surprised the film isn't exploitive or a slapstick comedy or a zombie film or whatever, because that's what the vast majority of no-budget cinema is these days (hell, that's what a lot of big-budget cinema is too). Hopefully we can pair the film with musicians in cities like Philly and New York and Boston and Kansas City and Nashville and get people interested in it the way rock and roll bands get people interested. To me, the benefits of that seem greater than the festival approach. Plus, you know, I like to travel a lot.
What is next for you? Will you be giving up blogging for filmmaking?
I'm pretty committed to the uber-indie project. I think that's something that really needs to continue as more and more people try to turn their YouTube videos into films. (plus, I've got a big stack of DVDs to review) There's a lot of up and coming filmmakers who need both the support of people they don't know, someone to tap people on the shoulder and say, "hey, this guy's really good", and an honest, critical reaction to their work. They need that third party to write 500 words on how they can be better filmmakers. Otherwise, it's just a lot everyone being supportive and telling each other how great they are. And if all you hear is how great you are, how motivated are you to improve, to further your skills? Some people can't handle constructive criticism, but I've had several people thank me for it, because it's so hard to get sometimes, especially when you're just starting out and no one has any clue who you are.
Plus, the film blog community we're in is a pretty valuable one, I think. There are a lot of people much, much smarter than me discussing things I barely understand, but they're also generous and more than willing to dumb things down just enough so I can follow along. I'd hate to see that change.
For more information on Lucas and his films, check out the d press Productions website where you can buy the films on DVD and a T-shirt. Buy both and mention THE MOVIEZZZ BLOG and he will autograph them for you.