The Orange County Screenwriters Association
    Be Inspired, Do Good Work

    Saturday, 26 May 2012 00:41

    Having a "C" or "E" in Your Title

    Written by

    ceoBecause there is no such thing as “executive” or “chief executive” school, I thought I should write about my “executive school equivalent.” While “executive producer” is the most obvious in the entertainment industry, my next few thoughts can be applied to almost any industry where people have titles containing “chief” or “executive.”  For this piece, I will refer to them as “Cs and Es” and what it means to have one of those letters in your title. 

    As some of you may know, I work as an engineer during the day, and then work on my media/news/entertainment gigs at night.  So going to journalism school was out of the question.  Instead, I searched for other ways to get into “the business,” and learn all I could about how things worked (hey I work an engineer gig…give me some credit).  One of the ways “into the business” included funding other people’s projects.  My engineer’s salary was comfortable enough, and I could not exactly go to journalism/film school so I thought that funding other projects might be the way to go.

    So, a few years ago a few colleagues pitched me with a project.  I agreed to fund it not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into.  I asked for an agreement with what they would spend my money on, along with the most important piece naming me as an executive producer.  The agreement was e-mailed to me at 5 a.m. the morning of production.  I remember asking for it way earlier.  It was not well thought out, and left a some gaps.  I thought well it was my first one, so let’s just see what happens.

    Production happened at a house in West Lake Village in the morning.  I would arrive later that night since I was booked during the day.  The co-producer texted me some updates telling me what was happening with the production.  Some of the crew was late, and might have gone over budget.  Great…this was happening on my first film that I wrote a check for.  It was definitely a learning experience.  Being the nice guy I was, I covered the overage, and bought dinner for the cast and crew.  All I wanted was a good film, and do this day, I still have not seen the finished product.

    After that experience, I decided to tighten my wallet and not fund any more of these shorts, but something told me that I should continue making the work of this screenwriter/producer that got me started in the business.  Another project came along, and was extremely well done.  The script, logline, budget breakdown, locations, releases, were all in place.  This time, a different crew really thought about how to spend the money. 

    So, I said yes, but this time I would be more involved in exercising more control over the production when necessary, but allowing people with more experience and talent to do their jobs.  That is what having a “C” or “E” in your title is about.  It is exercising control and responsibility when necessary, but allowing the people who are working for you to make something great.  The short turned out wonderfully, and it was completed within 2 months of production.  It took another month to polish and get it ready for festivals.

    A third project came my way, and I agreed.  I exercised some of the same control and responsibility.  Just before the second day of casting, I get a call from the my co-producer/writer telling me that the production company wanted to use a union actor. 

    A union actor would bring some additional paperwork and maybe some additional hassle so, I said no.  Additionally, I heard that they may not seem as prepared as I thought they would be.  The co-producer wanted to pull funding and cancel the production.  To be fair, I told him that I should at least meet them and see how they were doing.  So the next day, I showed up at the casting location, and not one person from the production company was there.  Actors were waiting, and I did not find that appealing.  This was a short, and while it was not too much money, a lot of people were donating their time.  The least the production company could do was show up on time.  Other actors that we wanted to audition were not contacted.  As the afternoon went on, I started realizing that the company was not ready.  I asked questions to gauge their readiness.  Some of their answers were questionable, and towards the end of the day, I decided to cancel the production. 

    The work they had done was very good, I just felt that they were not as prepared as I would have liked them to be (after my second short being phenomenal, my standards were pretty high).    I talked to my co-producer and we decided it was best to cancel the project.  I felt uneasy about doing it, but it was best for everyone involved. 

    That is something else that many “Cs and Es” forget.  The decisions they make need to be the best possible ones for everyone.  Not the best for their company stock, not the best for them, not the best for their ego, not even the best for their clients.  They need to make the best decisions for everyone.  This is the main reason that “Cs and Es” are paid their outrageous salaries and stock options.  They are responsible not just to their clients, but also the employees who work under their direction. 

    Today, a lot of “Cs and Es” forget about what they are responsible for.  With my engineering gig, I saw a lot of management styles where the people at the top forget what they were responsible for and slowly started driving the company into the ground.  I just thought, hey let me do the opposite.

    When I was asked to executive produce, I knew I had some power, but I also knew that I would never abuse it.  I also knew exactly what I responsible for.  In making a short, I was not just responsible for the end viewer, but also to the cast and crew to make sure that everyone was safe and doing their absolute best work.  A few times on the set, I had a production assistant or two that needed help doing their jobs.  So, I helped them figure out what they were doing.  Production assistants are not lowest on the set, they are extremely valuable in doing a lot of the work that other people can not focus on.  Because I choose to exercise balanced control, everyone that I have been able to work with backs my decisions and wants to work with me again.

    As a “C or E” the best compliment you can get is not money or a great film, but having an army ready to back your decisions and most importantly work with or in some cases for you again.     

    Sunday, 20 May 2012 17:23

    Resident Evil: Revelations - REVIEW

    Written by

    OVERVIEW -

    Taking to the sea, the Resident Evil series finally returns to handhelds.

    STORY -

    Taking place after Resident Evil 4 and before Resident Evil 5, Revelations puts players in the role of Jill Valentine.  Who is trying to find the missing Chris Redfield on a ghost ship.  There, she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy, and has to find the truth.

    The game is broken up into episodic chapters.  Each episode is introduced with a  “Previously on” segment that reminds you of what‘s going on.  The game also jumps to the past from time to time, to provide exposition on the new characters.  This episodic nature makes it quite easy to play in short bursts, which is perfect for a handheld game.



    Though it provides a fair share of cheesy moments, Revelations storyline is taken seriously.  Though it’s also pretty obvious who’s going to betray who.  Still, there are plenty of twists and turns in Revelations that should keep those who don’t know much about Resident Evil interested all the way to the satisfying conclusion.

    GAMEPLAY -

    Revelations is an over the shoulder third-person game that plays exactly like Resident Evil 4 and 5, with some big additions to the formula.  The biggest of which is the ability to move and shoot at the same time, and aim and shoot in a first-person view.  Also new is the ability to strafe (although you cannot aim and strafe at the same time), and this comes quite in handy against the enemies, since peaking around corners became a constant tactic I used.  Making a welcome return to the series is a dodge command, that is difficult to pull off, but satisfying and life-saving when done correctly.

    The enemies in Revelations are tough.  With the majority of them being slime-like creatures that resemble the “Leech-Man” from Resident Evil 0.  The Hunter also makes a triumphant return to the series as one of the deadliest enemies the game has to offer.  There were many times when I had to choose my weapons wisely, since ammo, and health were not as plentiful as I thought they would be.  I would actually have to avoid fights with some enemies, just so I could conserve precious ammo.

    It’s quite sad that there aren’t enough different types of enemies in the game, though the ones that are here provide an ample challenge in tight hallways.  Boss fights are challenging, memorable, and provide an ample challenge at just the right moments.  Another surprising aspect of the game, is that it actually provides genuine scares throughout.  It’s been quite a while that a Resident Evil game had me micro-manage my supplies, and debate whether it’s better to run and live to fight another day; or kill everything in my path.  The ship is also very reminiscent of the mansion an police station from the first two Resident Evil’s, so its design will be very familiar to fans of the series.

    It’s not all about survival though, as there are segments in the game were ammo is plentiful, and the enemies are everywhere.  These action scenes do a great job of changing the pace, and are closer to Resident Evil 5’s action-based focus.  In these moments, item-maintenance, exploration, and ammo conservation take a break; and the player has to survive wave after wave of attacking enemies.  These moments are intense, and allow Revelations to appeal to both Survival-Horror and Action fans.  There are also some underwater portions in the game.  These moments are unique, but the lack of an underwater attack, and an oxygen meter of any sorts makes them more annoying than they should be. 

    And once you’re done with the story mode, you can play the addicting Raid mode.  Raid mode pits you in sections of game where story, and horror doesn’t matter.   It’s just about trying to survive, getting to the end of the level, and trying to get a high score in a pure-action mode.  Raid mode also has RPG elements thrown in too, with characters leveling up so that they can use better and stronger equipment.  This mode also raises the challenge by throwing bosses from the story mode as regular enemies into the fray.  Even better, Raid mode is also playable with a second player, and is even ,more thrilling with a teammate,.

    On a special note, I did not get to play the game with the optional “Circle Pad Pro“ (available only at GameStop for $20), which gives players access to another thumb-stick, and the ability to aim and shoot at the same time. 

    SOUND AND VIDEO -

    The graphics in Revelations are superb.  It is easily the finest-looking game in the entire 3DS library.  Details exude from the environment, and character models look amazing.  There are some drawbacks to having these graphics, though.  The frame-rate often lowers when there is too much action on screen, and load times are long and are common when moving from area to area.  This wouldn’t be a 3DS game without it being in 3D.  Revelations looks great in 3D, but using the 3D decreases the graphical clarity, and has the unfortunate consequence of making it harder to aim.  Still, this is one of the best showcases for 3D that the 3DS has to offer.

    The game’s sound is just as superb as its graphics too.  The ship creaks and moans with unearthly life.  Guns, and the tearing of flesh will send shivers down your spine if you’re using headphones; which is highly recommended.  The music is also great, and fits the games mood perfectly.  The Resident Evil series has a history with bad dialogue, so I was glad to find out that the voice actors did competent jobs throughout.  Also one monster in particular sings hauntingly as she chases you around. 

    This game is an audio and visual delight for every 3DS owner.

    FINAL THOUGHTS -

    Revelations is simply a great reason to own a 3DS, and proves that the handheld can be home to a great console experience in the palm of your hands, and provides an original gaming experience that will satisfy both horror and action fans.  If you have a 3DS, and are looking for a great gaming experience, then Revelations belongs in your gaming library.  If you have a 3DS, or simply cannot wait until Resident Evil 6; Revelations is a must-have.  I seriously hope this game is released on other platforms, it’s just too good to miss.

    RECOMMENDED PURCHASE PRICE -

    $40

    ESRB - MATURE

    Resident Evil: Revelations is rated Mature for intense violence, blood, gore, and language.

    PLATFORMS -

    Exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS.
     

     

    We have speaking at the SCWA meeting this Saturday, Dara Marks, who is used by most studios and production companies as a story consultant and works with character transformation. She is well known in the industry, and perhaps some of your students or group would like to be there,.. She will be sharing on story, and also on the nature of her work with big and small films for studios and production. They can contact me, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 714 580 5072.
    The SCWA meeting is this Saturday, at 10:00 AM at the Claim Jumper Restaurant,18050 Brookhurst Street, Fountain Valley, CA 92708 and includes a luncheon.

     
    SPEAKER: DARA MARKS - SCREENPLAY CHARACTER TRANSFORMATION
    Dara works with every studio and most production companies on character work - hear her and pitch her on yours!
    DATE: MAY 19, 2012 10:00 AM

     
    "CHARACTER TRANSFORMATION"

     
    Dara Marks is leading international script consultant who has specialized in analysis of the modern screenplay for the past two decades. Creative Screenwriting Magazine has consistently rated her one of the top script consultants in the film industry. Her advice has been used on a great variety of films and television programs, and has worked with screenwriters and studio writers, as well as executives and novices.

     
    Dara is the author of an exciting new book on screenwriting, "Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc." In it she reveals her innovative process that helps writers maintain the artistic integrity of the their vision throughout the development of their story. Her unique workshops and seminars are done nationally and internationally.

     
    Friday, 18 May 2012 00:47

    REVIEW - Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

    Written by

     

    OVERVIEW -

    Raccoon City is lost, and it’s up to you, and three teammates to make sure no one finds out the truth.

    GAMEPLAY -   

    ORC is a third-person shooter that focuses on cooperative play.  Each member of Delta Team has their own unique abilities, and specialties (which are useful, when they actually work). ORC is a drastic change in the usual Resident Evil formula.  For one, you can actually move and shoot, at the same time.  Granted, that’s commonplace in gaming now, but considering this is a Resident Evil game; it’s a vast improvement.  The game also let’s players take cover, but it’s automatic, finicky, and players can still be attacked if even a tiny portion of their body is exposed.



    Regarding the shooting, it just doesn’t feel right.  Almost every gun is inaccurate, and feels the same.  Zombies go down very easily, yet soldiers and human bosses take an immense amount of damage before finally going down.   Enemies range from the B.O.W’s (Bio Organic Weapons): zombies, Crimson Heads (red zombies that are far stronger than their regular undead counterparts), Lickers, Hunters, to soldiers armed with a variety of weapons.  The soldiers can prove to be extremely annoying, since a group of them can trap a player in a never-ending loop of melee attacks.  Players drop their health items when killed, which makes dying by such a cheap tactic even more infuriating.

    ORC works very well when you’re playing with a team of four people.  If, by chance, you are unlucky to have no friends and try to play ORC by yourself; then be prepared for hell.  Teammate A.I is abysmal, and seem to do everything in their power to do everything but survive.  I can’t tell you how many times the bots would run into a trap  or open flame, and get themselves killed.  Then, after being revived, they go back into the fire!  Enemies also seem to ignore the bots, and go solely for human-controlled characters.  This is extremely bothersome when the bots on your side are standing a foot away from the enemies, and do nothing.  Bots also tend to wander away from the players, and hinder progression until they are brought back by players to the right area.

    There are boss fights in ORC, but they too have their share of problems.  The fight against the Nemesis should have been an intense firefight that involves moving from cover to cover to avoid getting shot by his gatling gun.  Yet it quickly devolves into shooting, hiding until the Nemesis needs to reload, then shooting again.  The problems mentioned before about the cover system also hinder the battle, with Nemesis being able to kill players that are in cover.  The poor A.I also makes boss fights aggravating, as enemies with guns also have perfect aim, no matter where you are.  This becomes annoying when fighting both B.O.W’s, and soldiers at once.

    Players will mostly travel through generic corridors, and environments.  Playing areas from Resident Evil 2 and 3 is a treat, but they are used far too sparingly for my tastes.  Despite all of the issues, ORC was still a lot of fun.   I found myself wanting to continue playing the game.  The glitches and issues became laughably amusing, as watching the bots get themselves killed became a fun diversion. ORC is enjoyable when playing with a friend, since many of the problems with the enemies, and A.I are remedied when there are more human-controlled characters in the game.  Resident Evil games are all about trying to survive, and the fear of being surrounded, so it’s quite sad that ORC just isn’t very scary.  Sure, there are some intense moments in the game, but they’re too few and far apart.  Sadly, split-screen co-op is not available, and each player must have their own console, and copy of the game in order to play together.

    There is also an 8-player versus mode that pits teams of 2 against each other.  New problems occur in this game mode, as players can be trapped in melee-glitches were they have no option of fighting back once caught in an attack.  There is also a mode that allows players to choose characters from Resident Evil’s 2 and 3 in a 4 on 4 fight to the death.

    STORY -

    Taking place during the storyline’s of Resident Evil 2 and 3, ORC is a “what if” story that puts you in the boots of one of six elite spec-ops soldiers charged with making sure Umbrella does not get blamed for the viral outbreak in Raccoon City.  ORC’s concept is wonderful, but the execution is anything but. 

    The story is a wasted potential of what could have been a truly special take on a beloved series, ORC instead provides very little information on enigmatic Umbrella.  Also disappointing is the lack of exposition for each of Delta teams members.  Only a very brief description is given on each character, and they’re personalities are never fully fleshed-out (though they are far better than the Spec-Ops available for the Versus game type).

    Some fan-favorite characters from the series do show up, but feel like they were tossed in for fan-service, rather than to actually push the story forward.  With most of these returning characters feeling like bland, useless caricatures of their past selves.  Some characters are never seen again, with no explanation as to what happened to them (it turns out that these characters do return, but you have to purchase the optional mission-pack for $10). 

    And don’t even get me started on the late-game twist that just blew me away with how stupid it was.  There was just no build up to this twist, and the way it’s set-up is completely laughable (actually, I was laughing quite a lot every time the story came up).  It’s easy to understand why this game isn’t a part of the series official canon.

    SOUND AND VIDEO -

    ORC’s sound is usually okay, and some of the music tracks are excellent, but is marred with technical issues.  Be prepared to mute your sound randomly, thanks to sudden glitching, causing the sound to become a garbled mess.  Guns also sound weak, and timid.  The voice-acting isn’t bad, but some character’s just sound God-awful (I‘m looking at you Claire). 

    Technical glitches also affect the games graphics, with enemies getting stuck behind objects, and sinking into the ground.  Teammate bodies will also disappear, making it very difficult to revive a teammate once the action escalates.  There are also homage’s, and easter eggs thrown in for Resident Evil fans.


    FINAL THOUGHTS -

    ORC feels rushed, is full of glitches, and has terrible teammate A.I; yet even with all these issues, the game was still a blast to play with a friend.  If you simply cannot wait until the next true Resident Evil game (which is out this October), and have a friend to play with; then ORC will provide a great time.  If you want a great single-player experience, then avoid ORC, because it will only prove that Raccoon City truly is hell on Earth.

    RECOMMENDED PURCHASE PRICE - 


    $20-$30.

    ESRB - MATURE

     Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is rated Mature for strong violence, blood, strong language, and gore.  Not recommended for children. 

    PLATFORMS AVAILABLE ON -

    Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. 

    Wednesday, 16 May 2012 23:06

    REVIEW - The Darkness II

    Written by

    the darkness IIOVERVIEW:

    It’s been almost 5 years since the last time gamers were able to step into the shoes of Jackie Estacado.  The Darkness II takes place two years after the events of the first game (it‘s not necessary to have played the first game, but doing so does add a little more depth to the story), and Jackie has been able to control, and keep out the super-natural force that is the Darkness out of his body.  But what fun would playing as a regular guy in control of his inner demons be?  Good thing too, since within the first few minutes of the game, the Darkness comes back into Jackie’s life; and the fun begins.

    STORY:

    The story in The Darkness II begins with a hit being placed on Jackie‘s life, and all hell breaking loose.  On the verge of death, Jackie calls upon the powers of the Darkness.  Jackie plays host to this supernatural entity, and a key plot-point is who is in control of who.  As the Darkness vies for control over Jackie’s body.  Jackie is haunted by hallucinations of his murdered girlfriend, and would do anything to save her soul. 



    There is also the secret organization that’s come to take the Darkness away from Jackie, and they think they’re the good guys.  At first this sounded like it could have been a great contrast between Jackie and the mafia; but it quickly becomes apparent that the secret organization is far more cruel than Jackie and his compatriots.  There are some problems with the plot, and I could see some twists coming, but it‘s still engrossing throughout..  The story being placed center-stage is one of The Darkness II’s strongest features; and just like the first game, it really kept me interested up until the very end.

    There’s also some very intriguing moments in a metal institution, but I’d rather keep quiet about that.  It‘s safe to say, those are some of the .strangest moments the game has to offer.

    SOUND AND VIDEO:

    The graphics lose the dark grittiness of the first game, in favor of a cel-shaded look that gives the game a more unique “comic-book” feel.  It looks great, but the game was a bit too bright for it’s namesake.  The game also runs well, and has a consistent frame-rate throughout.

    The games sound is equally as good, with every gunshot, blood-curdling cry, and flesh being sliced coming out nice and clear.  The voice-acting is also top-notch, and listening to the Darkness (voiced by Faith No More‘s Mike Patton) may send chills down your spine.

    Of equal treat is listening to Jackie’s interactions with the Darkling, and the Darkness itself.  I was actually a little disappointed that the Darkness doesn’t get to interact with Jackie more

    GAMEPLAY:


    The player is able to control Jackie, and two demon arms that protrude out of Jackie.  The player can choose to shoot his way through the game (I.E: be boring), or use the demon arms to tear and maim everyone in their way.  There are many ways to dispatch your foes, shooting them, slashing them, throwing the Darkling at them, tossing objects at them that will either impale them or by a number of other nasty deaths.  Jackie can also pick up enemies with the demon arms, and can execute them with the press of a button; though by the end of the game, you will have seen the executions used over, and over.

    Three Darklings could be used in the first Darkness, though only one can be used in The Darkness II.  The game is also pretty short.  I was able to complete the game in under 6 hours.  There’s also a New Game + option that allows you to replay the game with all of the powers and abilities you’ve already unlocked intact. 

    Enemies aren’t the brightest, but they know when to take cover, and use debilitating flashlights and stun grenades often.  There are still quite a lot of enemies in the game to seem to ignore the cries of agony emanating from their comrades, and just continue to rush towards you.

    The game is very linear, and by the end of the game; you’ll have decapitated more heads, and devoured more hearts than you’ll know what to do with.  This feeling of repetitiveness isn’t helped by the minimal amount of guns available in the game.  Luckily, the game’s short length actually helps eliminate some of the repetitiveness.

    There is also a cooperative multiplayer mode available, but it should be regarded to as an extra.  Since players do not play as Jackie in this mode, and playing without the Darkness powers just isn’t as fun.

    FINAL THOUGHTS:


    Despite its short-length, and a little bit of repetitiveness, The Darkness II provides a dark, and satisfying ride; as it proves that eviscerating your enemies is just way too much fun.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 5 years for Jackie to return into the gaming limelight. 

    Recommended Purchase Price:  $20-$30.

     

    PLATFORMS:

    Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.


    ESRB:
    The Darkness II earns it’s Mature rating by having intense violence, lots of blood, gore, and strong language throughout.  This is NOT a game for children. 

    Sunday, 06 May 2012 10:50

    The Manzanar Fishing Club

    Written by

     "All men are equal before fish."  ~ Herbert Hoover

    manzara one sheetImagine you're studying at the kitchen table in your  L.A. home and there's a knock on the door. Your parents answer and they are told, "In 48 hours you need to gather your belongings and be moved." Everything you  know, love, and feel safe with is being upended.  You will be bussed to an internment camp where the summers are intolerably hot, the winters are brutally cold and the wind-driven dust never stops fouling your lungs and stinging your eyes.  Because you are of Japanese heritage, even if you were born here and have never known any other country or way of life, you and your family are to be considered potential enemy combatants. 
     
    This then begins the documentary of the internment of Japanese Americas in a place called Manzanar shown all week at the Regency South Coast Village Theater.  But this is not an angry story told through the backward-glancing lens of  history, this is a story told forward-looking, of hope, the human spirit and, yes, fishing.
     
    This little-known tale is illuminated brilliantly by screenwriter Richard Imamura, director Cory Shiozaki, and producer Allen Sutton who came on board at the latter stages of the film to provide marketing and post-production help.  Lester Chung and John Gengl also contributed their considerable skills.
     
    Shiozaki spent seven years of his life trying to tell this story of survival.  He tapped his friends from grammar school, Imamura and Sutton and a musician friend, Harold Payne ("To Be Free") to help.  Together they researched, contacted, cajolled and finally succeeded in bringing these incredible images, archival footage, and interviews to life.
     
    Imamura, a sometimes fierce-looking Nisei (2nd generation Japanese) took years of experience as a screenwriter and channeled it into a story that soars and dips above the ghosts of the desert.  Shiozaki, a veteran camerman who has worked for everyone from John Carpenter to Disney Family Channel, never seems to tire of talking about this film both in visual and oral mode.  His creative eye, honed by years of experience, never delivered a false note.  Sitting with him discussing the film is like tapping a deep well of history that continues to be a passion of his.  It shows in his adept work.
     
    It was Shiozaki who came up on the photo featured in the film's one-sheet of the fisherman and Issei (1st gen Japanes) internee who found an elusive treasure in the high Sierras among the tumbled boulders.  I won't spoil it for you but the ending has a great reveal that would belie the documentary nature of the film.  It's almost a treasure hunt worthy of a Ron Howard movie laid against the prejudices and hardships of the shameful nature of what America did to its citizens whose only crime was to be of Japanese heritage.  The archival caricatures and racist posters shown in the film are shocking, and though we’d like to believe that that sort of thing isn’t possible anymore (and it’s never politicized in the film,) the parallels to 9-11 and the Guantanamo detainees are impossible to ignore.
     
    The themes to this film abound - as mentioned, prejudice, the resilience of the human spirit, family, compassion and the seemingly genetic component of fishing.  But a question keeps coming up in your mind as you watch: Why? Why risk everything just to go fishing?
     
    Those of us who have experienced the calmness, the tranquility, and the sudden thrill of the tug of the pole can somewhat understand why nearly 300 men and women at some point risked a great deal to sneak to the rivers and lakes that surrounded the internment camp in Manzanar.  But that doesn’t fully satisfy the question by any stretch.  The why can only be answered from within ourselves.  That is the beauty of the film that drives you inevitably to that introspection and self-examination.
     
    Defying the barbed wire and guard towers would seem incomprensibile to most of us, let alone a people who daily lived the concept of following orders for the greater good.  But the fierce independance and pride of the men and women of this camp is also writ large against a desert that could have easily broken and swallowed their spirits.  Instead, those spirits thrived and found a way to make sweetness out of a bitter, bitter brew.  Certainly, going fishing didn't solve all the anger and despair.  But the real and symbolic nature of the act made it tolerable for many.
     
    Shiozaki (also Nisei) mentioned that his family never talked of the internment so for him uncovering previously unknown parts of it was part of the joy of making this film.  But by sharing his journey and blending it with the journey of those who did no crime but were indicted anyway, the filmmakers have presented a thundering shout to the indomitable human spirit every bit as worthy as Rocky's "Adrian!" or Seabiscuit's thundering hooves.  In fact, I mentioned that this would work so very well as an independent feature film that it's my hope they pursue that avenue next.
     
    Just the oral histories that became video histories that Shiozaki gathered would have to inspire you.  The interviewees, both survivors (yes, there are those who 70 years later still can talk about the experience 1st hand) and their sons and grandsons who show fierce generational pride in what their fathers and grandfathers accomplished during a most difficult time, is so evident in this film.  They described both the horrid conditions and diametrically the simple tackle used that then became real fishing gear purchased in catalogs from Montgomery Ward and Sears.  There’s also mention of photographer  Toyo Miyatake who brought a lens and film stock with him and had a friend craft a camera from wood so he could “illegally” record the daily life of the camp.  It’s his photo that has become the one-sheet for the film and from where the somewhat surprise-ending comes.
     
    I went through several layers of thought and emotion in seeing this film.  It brought back memories of me and my dad fishing on the lakes in Ohio; of the continuing shame of the internment; of questions of my courage to do what they did in sneaking under barbed wire in the dead of night to trek somewhere that they could be free; of how elegantly and skillfully the story was told almost as if it was a watercolor of great prize created by master craftsmen, and my despair that I could ever write or produce something so hauntingly beautiful and understated.  Many emotions over this simple story (70 mins running time) that still resonate with me as I write this review.
     
    The Q&A after the film was lively and informative. Shiozaki and Imamura were both able to articulate wonderfully on many levels the choices they made in telling the story.  Equally at ease with the art and the craft of making the film, the love they had for this story  and their work shone in the theater afterwards.  It was a true pleasure meeting them.

    Seeing this film perhaps won't change your life but it will so enhance it and make you think.  It will shame you and remind you of why we should always question the knee-jerk responses we seem to have to events.  It's painfully ironic that the young men in these camps were drafted to fight in many theaters of war during WWII.  Once considered a potential enemy and treated like criminals, they were then asked to fight and die for this country.  At the same time the story will infuse you with a sense of pride that this country was built by the sweat and blood of millions of strong and proud Americans of all colors and races.
     
    And also, that the simple act of dipping a pole in a lake is a perfect metaphor for the unquenchable spirit that we have been given by those men and women of the “greatest generation” who fought on so many levels, for their right to simply...go fishing.
     
    WEBSITE (fearnotrout.com)

    Larry Porricelli also contributed to this article

    Check out the happenings at the OCC Showcase at this year's Newport Beach Film Festival!
    Wednesday, 02 May 2012 16:11

    Newport Beach Film Festival 2012 OCC Shorts

    Written by

    occ shorts logoAnd the beat goes on...

    The latest crop of film festival shorts from Orange Coast College were presented by OCC faculty advisor/photographer/musician Scott Broberg at the fabulous Regency Lido Theater. Sunday was a great day to view said shorts at the venue in Newport Beach for several reasons including the stunning theater itself firmly nestled in the history of the area.

    And the students themselves were potentially making history.  Who knows which of them will continue his or her film career and become the next - well, you fill in the blanks.

    Broberg called the presentation "our Sundance" and he's right.  What an amazing opportunity for student work to rise to the top and be seen and supported by the local home crowd that itself probably has planted seeds in many Hollywood productions.

    About 350 people packed the theater to enjoy shorts that ranged from documentaries to romanticfantasies.  The filmmakers showed polish and poise in their work as did their actors who all seemed quite capable.

    Nothing too ambitious was attempted and that's good since budgets for these mini-masterpeices were probably on this side of a dinner for four in a Marie Calenders.

    Advisor Broberg and department chair Bob Lazarus manage to help these nascent filmmakers

    occ logo

    squeeze every bit of juice from their presentations.  My only gripe, and this is an ongoing one, is that tighter stories would have helped some of the films.  The writing always seems to take second to the visual presentation.  <Shrug.>  I've been griping to Hollywood  about that same exact thing for years.  :-)

    It was an enjoyable and enlightening 1.5hrs and watching the glowing faces of the enthusiastic students at the Q&A afterwards made it even more enjoyable.

    I did see a few parents in the audience squirm at the liberal use of the f-word in some films since they were sitting with small children but for the most part, the films were family friendly - at least from a language standpoint - the stories they presented were challenging, funny, serious works of art that hopefully with jump-start the careers of these neophytes.  

    Look for their names in the credits of future work.

    You can follow this program on Facebook HERE

    The filmmakers and their shorts were: 

    Discarded
    By: Richard Purvis, Alastair Purvis

    Abandoned and isolated, Army enlistment may be his only choice.

       Jumping Frenchmen of Maine
    By: Matthew Harreld, Marshall Murr

    When everything in life surprizes you, imagine what falling in love can do.

      
    Laguna Fencing
    By: Justin Ramirez, Brian Lang

    Coach Nic Dinu contributes a lifetime of knowledge and skill to a group of talented young student in the complex and underrated art of fencing.

     


    Rorschach
    By: Nathan Schneekluth, Zach Zombeck

    What do you see?

       
    Sara’s Story
    By: Rebekah Pantel*

    A young woman leaves her former life to help children with a life-threatening disease.
    (*Recipient of the "FILM/VIDEO SOCIAL ISSUES DOCUMENTARY SCHOLARSHIP")

       
    You Thought I was Crazy
    By: Shelby Hall

    The only thing Andrew fears more than germs is Mr. Duncan.

     

     
     
    Weird Fishes
    By: Justin Ramirez, Guillermo Luna, Brian Lang

    Life is a river.  Get wet.

     

    Wednesday, 02 May 2012 01:14

    NBFF 2012 - April 28 After Parties!

    Written by

    Here are some pictures from the after party on April 28! Enjoy!

    Enjoy some more pictures from the events of Saturday, April 28 at the Lido Theater...Expect some more pics tomorrow night! And if that doesn't work, try this... https://picasaweb.google.com/113281282356827183170/NewportBeachFilmFestival2012April28Lido?authuser=0&feat=directlink

    Monday, 30 April 2012 22:38

    2012 Newport Beach Film Festival Pictures

    Written by

    I'm still working on uploading pictures from the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, but in the mean time check out some pictures from opening night!  Tom Arnold and Jaime Lynn Sigler were some walking the red carpet for Jewtopia...

    If the link above doesn't work, check it out here:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/113281282356827183170/NewportBeachFilmFestival2012OpeningNight?authuser=0&feat=directlink

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