Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

I have been remiss in not watching this sooner. By now half of you have probably already seen it! But I was so sure it wasn't going to be subtitled, and when one is hard of hearing, there is nothing worse than watching a 45 minute film without subtitles. Unless it's longer.

However, yesterday I was sick, and very bored, and I thought "oh what the heck, I might as well give it a try!" So I went to the website, downloaded it, and found in the menu options that, sure enough, they had a gazillion subtitle options to choose from. Including English.

Any film that has subtitles automatically has me biased in their favor. And of course I'm always curious to see what other independant no or low budget films are able to come up with. But I'm also extremely skeptical - especially when something has the caliber of LOTR to live up to.

However I must say that "The Hunt for Gollum" was far and away much, much better than I had expected. I was staring at the screen, wondering how in the world they had managed to find those locations and get that kind of CGI work on a film of this budget! Really, folks, I think Peter Jackson himself would be impressed.

The film excels in pretty much every area. They have great actors (their Aragorn is really superb) and a script that both Fran Walsh and Tolkien would be highly impressed with - both in terms of dialogue and plot. The costumes are wonderful, particularily for the orcs. And they have a lot of orcs in there!

I think the weakest point of the film are its fight sequences. There's just a lack of "zing" that prevents them from working 100%. It's a mixture of the cinematography techniques, the actual choreography, the fact that I don't think even Strider could fight off fifteen Orcs at once and only get one tiny poisoned dart thing, and the way the orcs kept coughing up blood. The coughing thing seemed unrealistic, and unnecessarily gross. Gross in a throw up way, not a blood and gore way. Let's see some more blood in other places and less in the mouth, okay?

That said, I still have an extremely high opinion of this film and I would heartily recommend watching it.

It can be viewed here:


The director's blog can be accessed here:


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Busy busy busy...

As I was driving to work yesterday, I started thinking about how much time SOTB is taking up. I realized that on weeks we don't film, if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, it's the equivilant of a part time job. On weeks we are filming, it's definetely a full time job.

And on top of that I have two paid very part time jobs, plus my novel writing which should also be the equivilant of a part time job, although filming sort of crowds that out. Plus I'm a forum administrator, a blogger, and a member of a family that needs me to do basic things like housecleaning and food prep!

Is it no wonder I'm slightly stressed out these days? Even if scheduling wasn't a pain in the neck, I'd still be slightly over my head.

Oh well. I like being busy. I just wish all of this made a bit more sense sometimes...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Moon Poster

Okay, I promise I'm not going to overload you all with New Moon stuff. But I had to share this one.

I think it's pretty cool. Simple, yet effective. And I like how they are bringing the brown tones in to reflect the Quiluete influence.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Director's musings

Am I crazy for taking on "The Shadow of the Bear?"

Every now and then I wonder.

It's always crazy being a producer AND a director. But producing and directing a feature-length film...independantly?

Yeah. That's craziness.

But then, often times people that follow God's will ARE considered to be crazy. Just look at the prophes in the Bible! Granted, I didn't get a vision from Heaven...but I cannot doubt that all of this was meant to happen.

It's not easy though. People think filming a movie is such a cool thing...and it is! But it can be oh-so-stressful too.

Take last Tuesday for example.

I woke up not knowing for sure whether or not we'd be filming. Scheduling had been a pain in the neck and I had just finished a rather depressing discouraging day on Monday. So I woke up going..."nah...we're not filming."

Then my phone buzzed and I got a text from Anthony (Fish) asking whether we'd be filming today. I thought for a moment. There's nothing like pulling off a film shoot and being productive and seeing friends to beat depression. So I pulled up my facebook (FACEBOOK IS AMAZING! I couldn't do this film without it) and scanned my messages. Sure enough we had Sharayah (Rose) and Eric (cinematographer) both saying they could probably film tuesday. So I shot off some text messages (couldn't film without those either) and after about two hours of frantic messaging and sitting on pins and needles, I knew I had my actors.

Then I found myself freaking out even more, because a) I hadn't written the scene yet, b) I had about four hours to write the scene in c) I had to bake cookies for the crew d) I had to turn the garage into Mr. Freet's basement, e) I had to get costumes for Fish and Rose and f) I had to get make-up ready for them too. Plus all my other usual chores.

Talk about major freak-out!

But God, in his grace and providence, brought it all together. My brother prayed with me, which calmed my nerves down immensely, Anthony came down to my house early and helped me with the cookies and getting the costumes (we had to dash over to a thriftstore and Wal-Mart to get them), Phil and Andy showed up and cheerfully got the garage in order in record time (they cleaned it up later too!) and my sister concocted fake blood and a bruise formula for Fish's wounds.

And that's usually how it is. I freak out...but it always comes together.

So am I crazy for taking this project on?

You tell me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Out of the Depth of Emotion...

Out of the Depth of Emotion comes the most profound prayers.

We wonder why God puts us through hard times...or why he allows sinful creatures like us to experiance outrageous happiness...

I believe it's because the truest, deepest prayers come when we are dealinging with the most extreme emotions. Whether it's sorrow or rage or love or joy we are the most honest, the most in need of communicating with God when we are emotionally raw.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Extreme or not?


Methinks this is the sort of school Rachel Durham and family (from "The Midnight Dancers") would have attended. And most of us know how that ended.

So what do you think? Extreme policy? Ruling? Should he be suspended for this? What sort of a message does this send non-Christains?

So who could totally own Edward Cullen?

Or squish him, or slice him into ribbons or otherwise completely defeat him?

Whether you're an Edward fan or Edward hater, you know you want the answer to this question. Read on.

Twilight Widower gives the answer.


(wee bit of language there, but not bad)

Just one example:

9. Wolverine

Arguably the most powerful of the X-Men (that discussion for another blog), this mutant hero has at least 70 years on Cullen. Advantages: Wolverine (Logan to his friends), to my recollection, has never stalked a woman 90 years his junior, and the only thing sparkly about him is his razor-sharp claws.


Can regenerate any damage, up to and including being disintegrated.
Superhuman senses and agility.
Skeleton is coated with a nigh-indestructible layer of Adamantium.
Claws of same Adamantium, which can cut through everything.
Can move on after a personal tragedy instead of dwelling on it for nearly a century.

The Skinny:

Probably the most even match of this exercise. While Cullen may have an advantage in speed, Wolverine has an edge in combat experience. Also, when Wolverine enters his "battle rage" he relies purely on instinct to control his actions. Edward mind-reading advantage would therefore be nullified.

The Verdict:

By virtue of this being a near-even match, I am tempted to call it a draw, but since Wolverine's Adamantium claws are made of the strongest substance in the known universe, I'm assuming Cullen won't be able to deliver the decapitation required for a killing blow. On the other hand, said Adamantium can cut through simply anything, which therefore must include vampire flesh. Winner: Wolverine.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lily and Water

Just a bit of graphic art I did. Click for full size.

(disclaimer, the photos used in this project were not taken by me.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Few Words with Aragorn and Boromir

A brief interview with Viggo Mortenson and Sean Bean that I came across today. I know many of you are LOTR fans so I thought I'd share the tidbit.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova

"Hmm," I am sure you are thinking. "For someone who claims not to like vampire novels, there seem to be quite a few articles about them stacking up on this blog."

To that I can only shrug. And then say that it's a pop culture phenomenon that cannot be ignored.

But that would only be half the story. After reading Twilight, I felt a bit braver about venturing into the realm of vampire lit. I also knew from my own peeks and referances of a trusted friend that it was fairly tame as far as vampire novels go and wasn't overly creepy. Also it appeared to be well written. And as I think I've made obvious, I heartily appreciate a well-written novel.

"The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova is the story of three generations that discover the continued existane of Vlad Dracula "The Impaler." Through the appearance of a mysterious book with a haunting woodcut of a dragon, each generation sets off on a quest to find the tomb of the old Wallachian prince and discover the truth once and for all.

It's a story of historians, of academics, of books and ancient languages, of Monestaries and Istanbul, of secret guardians and Budapest. It's a story of forbidden loves, of family secrets, of mysterious disappearances, and the shadow of evil.

And for the most part it's a decently tame vampire novel. Considering that it is an adult novel, there is nothing particulary graphic, and anything that is semi-described (gore or sex) is done with such taste and class that I think it would be suitable for the older teen. It is academic enough in nature that it won't capture the same audience as "Twilight" which is a pity for it is both better written and far truer to the original and evil nature of the vampire. No sparkly Edwards here.

It is obviously an extremely well researched novel, and though fact is mixed with fiction, introduces the reader to the unrest of Eastern Europe in the 1970's, to the cultural customs of Old Romania, and to the history of Constantinople/Istanbul.

The characters are fairly realistic and compelling, although it is a bit jarring to realize that the hero of the novel is not the narrarator herself, but rather her father. However, in retrospect, this needn't be a weakness. It is a continuation of the tradition of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and does it perhaps rather better.

In homage to Bram Stroker's "Dracula" (which is mentioned many times) much of the story takes place in epistolary form. For the most part the three stories of the three generations are woven together well, but the reader must work a bit to remember whose story they are currently reading. For "The Historian" consists of a story within a story within a story...within a story.

I think Kostova is just short of greatness. I think "The Historian" comes very close to being a modern classic. It falls short because it has just one too many stories and tries to cram a bit too much into the last thirty pages. However, as a book, it is not a failure and for the reader of vampire lit or historical fiction I think it will prove an entertaining and worthwhile read.