Here I am, and within the reach of my hand she’s sound asleep and she’s sweeter now than the wildest dream could have seen her, and I watch the weekend

Mail Online headlines replaced with user comments (thanks, L).

WHY ARE YOU CLOSED???!!!:

Dreamworks SFX guy turns son into superhero (thanks, B).

Drunk guy has trouble climbing hill (thanks, D):

Great art project: If celebs were normal… (thanks, A).

Embroidery advice or surrealist nightmare (scroll down. Thanks, T).

Amazing shots of the world from above (thanks, J).

Happy Christmas from DMX:

Samuel L. Jackson performs slam poetry about Boy Meets World (thanks, J):

Honest trailer GoT:

Lion King cast entertains plane load of quite grumpy people:

The brilliant Johnnie Burn on his sound work for Under The Skin.

Could you do a really good short animated film with just push pins and elastic bands? WELL COULD YOU???!!! Yes (thanks, T):

Bangkok’s ‘Mexican’ gangsters:

Jonathan Glazer

In honour of the release of the fantastic Under the Skin, I had planned to put together a post of Jonathan Glazer’s best work.

But just as I was about to cull all the crackers from YouTube, someone else kindly did the job for me.

They did, however, miss these beauties:

He’s quite good, isn’t he?

Nike’s new World Cup ad ain’t no ‘write the future’.

A forgettable nudge rather than an all-gun-blazing celebration.

I hope this isn’t the only one they’ll be running.

doing ‘good’?

Companies need to be seen to be nicer than they used to be. Now it’s not enough to slide a few grand to charity or employ some disabled people; now you have to create full-scale, massive, constant niceness and, most importantly, tell everyone about it.

This new state of affairs leaves me somewhat torn: is it a little off-putting that companies now appear to be jumping on the good deeds bandwagon just at the point where we might like them less (and use them less, and give them less money), or do the good ends justify the means, whatever the purity of the motivation? Or have the people behind these giant organisations suddenly realised, apropos of nothing, that being of benefit to the world is something worthy of their time, money and effort?

Take this, for instance: Samsung kindly uses your excess phone power to help cure cancer. Is this the result of Samsung’s altruism or is it part of a larger effort to get people to like, and therefore buy, Samsung? Does altruism even exist, and if not, what is motivating Samsung here?

This article suggests that… Altruistic acts are self-interested, if not because they relieve anxiety, then perhaps because they lead to pleasant feelings of pride and satisfaction; the expectation of honor or reciprocation; or the greater likelihood of a place in heaven; and even if neither of the above, then at least because they relieve unpleasant feelings such as the guilt or shame of not having acted at all.

As someone who doesn’t believe in right or wrong, but instead in the workability of a situation, I have to say that this seems like a perfectly good way of attempting to relieve pain and misery. Does it make Samsung’s phones any better? Does it make you like them more? Does it matter? The answers to those questions slip almost unnoticed into the world of branding: if Samsung’s brand is composed of so many deliberate or unintended messages and elements then this effort is just one, along with this post, their sponsorship of Chelsea FC and their strange ads that involve street urchins and Lionel Messi:

In a post-No Logo world it feels that CSR is now an essential part of a corporation’s offering, but it can sometimes seem that they are glossing over a lot of bad behaviour with a bit of good. I wonder if Nike would have stopped the sweat shops and tiny wages if such policies hadn’t become so public and unpopular. Is this just a macro version of doing (voluntary) community service after you’ve been caught beating up old ladies?

In finding a conclusion about this, the really tricky thing is choosing what you think of as something to hold against a company; after all, they all do something you could interpret as negative (or positive).

Pay your money (or don’t) and take your choice.

Tay, tay, tay, tay, t-t-t-tay-tay, tay, tay. It’s our occupation, we’re a dancin’ na-tion. We keep the pressure on the weekend.

The top 20 cinematic techniques, part 1:

Part 2:

And if you like the continuous shot, here are ten of the best:

Famous writers’ sleep habits vs productivity (thanks, J).

Terrifying walk (thanks, J):

Young Ian McKellan gives us an acting lesson (thanks, J):

Hours of fun (thanks, C).

Songs for when you’re pitching (thanks, D).

Kids write scripts; adults act them out; hilarity ensues (thanks, J):

That Marmite ad: you either think it’s the best ad of last year or you’re not quite sure.

Readers without Alzheimer’s might recall my post about Marmite ‘Rescue’ from last year.

I said I quite liked it.

Here it is:

Congrats to everyone involved but I must confess to being a little surprised at such a big win. And now I’m wondering why it never came up at all during the Creative Circle evening last week. Did no one enter it? That seems odd. Did the judges not award it? Even odder considering its BTAAs win.

Personally, I thought Sainsbury’s or John Lewis or Honda ‘Hands’ might have had a stronger shout.

Do you think it’s the best ad of last year (and therefore that I’m some kind of a tasteless berk)?

Generic Brand Video

It’s funny because it’s true.

De Paul Street stuff

De Paul, the charity for the homeless, has got an interesting new campaign.

They’ve enlisted a group of graffiti artists to create art based on the stories that came out of interviews with homeless people:

DepaulDepaul5Depaul2

 

As well as the street art there’s a digital wall where you can buy chunks of the art, which then disappears from the original work to effectively take the homeless person off the street. It’ll also show you how the work was made and give more background to the project.

Why not pop by and chuck ‘em some cash?

It’s a good cause, innit?

(Interest declared: it’s by my friends Steve and Jo at Publicis.)

This Made In Chelsea trailer is rather good

(Interest declared: my friend Molly is responsible for it. When I worked at 4 Creative she told me her boyfriend used to write MIC. Apparently it’s not a documentary. Gutted.)

 

Screenwriting: it’s just like copywriting

I’m currently reading Tales from the Script, a compendium of advice from lots of great Hollywood screenwriters (William Goldman, Frank Darabont, Paul Schrader, Shane Black etc.). I think the book may just be a transcription of the movie:

I got to a point about halfway through where I started to notice many parallels between that process and the process of getting an ad made:

Steven E De Souza (48hrs, Die Hard) says, ’One of the things you can do is leave opportunities for plug-and-play. See, if they can say anything interesting in the meeting they can think it’s their idea. Then they’re invested.’ This mirrors the common practice of making the client feel part of the creative process; not in a cynical, duping way, but just making sure you leave room for a possible contribution from an unexpected place. In both industries the days when an original script would go through to production without touching the sides are long gone. Better to be aware of, and therefore prepared for, the contribution of the client/studio.

Billy Ray (Flightplan, State of Play) suggests that ‘you have to listen to their problems but ignore their solutions’. I think that can apply in many cases, too. When you think about it, the script review dynamic is an odd one: work that takes a long time to craft is often assessed almost spontaneously, with rewrites and amendments suggested, often by non-writers, with a few seconds of thought. I don’t entirely agree with Mr. Ray because I think other people’s solutions can sometimes be good and valuable, and even if they’re wrong they can give good insight into what the person judging the ad or screenplay might be looking for.

Gerald DiPego (Sharky’s Machine, Phenomenon) warns that ‘maybe it was original script that they loved, but now they’ve read it five times, so the thrill is gone‘. This is an interesting scenario that is common, but difficult to avoid. The development and production process of movies and commercials is necessarily far too long to maintain the same level of delight from beginning to end, so it helps to be aware of that and make sure what is being presented has at least some new element about it that keeps it fresh.

Zak Penn (The first three X-Men films, The Incredible Hulk) reminds us that ‘being too passive is something that can really bite you on the ass. You have to fight through that natural inclination some people have to go with the flow. The flow will push you right out the door.’ Sound familiar? ‘Yes, Mr./Mrs. Client, of course we’ll do that, Mr./Mrs. Client. Anything you say, sir/ma’am.’ Eventually that will lead to poor work, zero mutual respect and no strength in really pushing hard for something you believe in. Of course, there are some clients and development execs who think they know best about every little thing, but enabling that on a long-term basis is a path to poor work and being put up for pitch. The same applies to teams and their CDs: standing up for what you think is right (in the right way) will gain you respect, and, possibly, a better ad.

Finally, Charles Vignola, in his capacity as Director of Development at Bruckheimer Films (Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure etc.), explains the process from the other side of the fence and comes across rather like a CD. He describes his job as one part ‘panning for gold‘ – trying to find the best material amongst the work writers submit to him. The second part is ‘developing the material to the point where we can attach a director‘. That is of course essentially what CDs do, so sometimes it’s worth realigning your perspective on the part you play in the process and realising that at some point you become the client. When that happens you can understand what people who have to approve your work actually go through. Perhaps they’re not as bovine as you think.