Rookie Photoshop For Movie Nerds

January 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

Rookie Photoshop For Movie Nerds | Movie Blog

These days, you have to be able to promote your films online.  It’s impossible not to.  You don’t need a massive budget to have websites, blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook updates, Youtube videos, posters, artwork and more for your films.  It’s a free and effective way to get yourself out there.  When it comes to promotional materials, you can do a lot with very little.  The only thing you really need is a vision, a copy of Photoshop (or a graphic designer friend) and a lot of patience while you learn.

Years ago, I decided to teach myself Photoshop.  I wanted to create websites, posters and other related promotional materials for 17 West’s projects.  What started as a simple website soon turned into 4 including a blog that would promote them all.

That’s when my addiction started.  Each new item needed to have a logo or an image attached.

But I’m not a graphic designer.  So I had to rely on tutorials, books and blogs about design to see what was possible.

Obviously, all the research and practice paid off as I’m confident that my design work doesn’t suck.  I’m not saying I’m a pro because I’m not.  I don’t know color theory or overall composition techniques.  I don’t really consider things like balance and other rookie mistakes designers make.

But I know enough now to create images that help direct people to the content I want them to see.

It all starts with a challenge.

Find something you like and try to duplicate it.  You’ll never know unless you try!

The image below is from a hockey game I was watching recently.  I liked the look of the image and decided to see if I could make one myself.  The result is my new Movies image above.  I think I got it pretty close.

However, it’s not enough to simply copy another designer’s work.  What’s the point if you don’t bring anything original to it?

So while the Movies image is pretty close, I took the new techniques I learned and applied it to this image:

The Athletic Nerd Movie Reviews

And this one…

The Athletic Nerd Movie Blog Wouldn't It Be Awesome

And this one…

17 West Productions Independent Film Updates

These new banners are another leap forward for me in terms of techniques and overall detail.  My work is getting more and more realistic but I still believe I can be better.

Who knows what image will inspire me next.   I’m always on the lookout for something new to try.  Especially when 17 West isn’t in production on a new film. (That’s going to change pretty quickly though)

If you don’t have a home on the internet to show off your work and can’t afford to pay someone to do it for you I recommend the following.

1. Start a blog

You don’t need a heavy background in web development to get a site online these days.  I recommend WordPress and a good free theme to get you started.

2. Customize

Make it your own.  Look at other movie blogs for examples.  Set yourself a part from the rest.  Be unique.

3. Learn Photoshop

You don’t need a course.  All you need is an internet connection to access tutorials and a little dedication.  It’s frustrating at first when your images don’t turn out the way you hoped but power through it.  Eventually you’ll surprise yourself.

4. Find inspiration and run with it.

Continue to learn new techniques and apply it to new film projects you are working on.

5. Repeat Step 4 keep evolving!

I’ve been addicted to Photoshop for about 5 years now.  Recently, I started reading Advanced Photoshop Magazine and realized just how much more there is to learn.  To some that would seem daunting but I think it’s exciting.

6. Don’t Forget Your Movies!

I’ve spent the last few days messing with Photoshop but it’s time to switch gears back to Screenwriting.  These skills are worthless if you don’t have anything to promote!

Further Reading:

Photoshop: A Cure For Writer’s Block?

Creating Concept Art For Your Screenplay

Does This Poster Sell My Independent Short Film?

2010 Web Design Recap: Promoting Your Films Online

Photoshop & Low Budget Short Films

The Beginner’s Curse: Website Redesigns

The Evolution of the 17 West Logo

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Ernest Scared Stupid

January 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

Movie That Scarred Me For Life: Ernest Scared Stupid | Movie Blog

Movies that scarred me for life is all about the movies that keep you up at night.  The horrors you just can’t seem to get out of your head.  But beyond the monsters, ghosts, slashers and aliens, there are also the cringe worthy films you wish you never saw.  Movies that made you wish you had the lost two hours of your life back.  There are tons of ways a movie can scar you for life.  This series will look at 12 of my personal favorites.

Ernest Scared Stupid

Take a moment and look at that huge bumpy double-nosed head with horribly tiny eyes…

That thing may be frightened of milk but dammit, that Troll scared the crap out of me when I was little.  I know it’s an Ernest movie but the trolls in the film were too much! Especially the leader and his vicious quest for revenge.  Hopefully, I’m not the only one who was terrified.

I haven’t seen the film in years as my VHS copy is long gone but I remember every detail about that ugly jerks face.  For a kids movie, he’s pretty ruthless and mean.  Now, thanks to IMDB, I know the stupid creature’s name.

Trantor The Troll!

Honestly, for the longest time, I thought the troll’s name was actually STUPID.  Ernest scared a troll named Stupid?  Perhaps I wasn’t the brightest young lad.

Some people may laugh at how I was afraid of a Troll who was ultimately no match for… Ernest.

I disagree but everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I constantly rewound the final showdown with wide eyes.  Then I would have nightmares of that stupid Ogre and all his warts coming through my window.

It’s a true story.  I had dreams that he would superman through my bedroom window.  Shattered glass flew everywhere and he would stand above me and say:

“Not even MILK can stop me now!”

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Ernest Scared Stupid

That voice…  That horrible ‘I turn kids into wooden dolls’ voice!

Let me tell you, Ernest was never there to save me in those dreams.  He wasn’t around to say:

“How ’bout a bumper sandwich booger lips!”

To make matters worse, once he gets really mad he turns into Super-Troll with tentacles and spikes coming out of his head.

…  I’ve never told anyone that this film scarred me for life.  Stupid Trantor!

PS: I miss Jim Varney’s Ernest.  Ewwwww-www-www.  Don’t tell me you’ve never done his trademark ‘ewww’ lip sway.

Cheesy Fries & The King’s Speech

January 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

Cheesy Fries & The King's Speech | Movie Review

People say you aren’t supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

Likewise, I don’t think it’s wise to go see a movie without having dinner.  Especially when you’re trying to eat healthy. Yet still, I found myself looking up at that wonderful menu before The King’s Speech began.

I ended up going with a hot dog and, you guessed it, cheesy fries.  I highly enjoy cheesy fries.

My girlfriend and I made our way into the theater, which was not surprisingly full due to the overwhelming Oscar buzz the film is receiving.  We sat in the third row and took over about 5 seats for our coats, drinks and food.  Then the movie started and Colin Firth filled the screen with all his stammering magnificence.

Within about 10 minutes, something occurred to me…  People were laughing more than I was.  A lot.

I’m thinking a lot of the people in the audience were a little more fluent in royal history than I was.  There were a ton of references I simply didn’t understand but the crazy laugher behind us did.


It was kind of like an adult version of Nelson from the Simpsons.

Even my girlfriend leaned towards me and said:

“We should have gone to see Black Swan.”

There I was, watching a film about the prestigious King of England and wolfing down Cheesy Fries while the jokes flew over my head. I realized I wasn’t exactly nestled happily inside the film’s target demographic.  In fact, I estimated around 42% of the people in the at theater were probably there when it happened. (Especially Nelson.)

Finishing those fries was bitter sweet.  Bitter because I didn’t have anymore fries but sweet because the film actually gets better as it rolls along and it had my full attention.

Eventually, we arrived at the scene where the King curses.  All kinds of four letter words come out of his mouth and it made me laugh out loud.

I started thinking again.

That’s what made me laugh?  F-Bombs?  What does that say about me?  I’m not sure exactly but I do know what it says about the film.  From that moment on, I was entertained and happy I took the time to see it.  It found a way to pull me in.

When it comes down to the final envelope at Oscar time it will between The King’s Speech and The Social Network I think.  Two completely different films.  (Guess which one I identified with the most.) I think The King’s Speech is a fantastic film but I’m throwing my money behind the movie that allows me to eat cheesy fries guilt free.

XTRA: Nerds & The Social Network

Thankfully, I Saw The Green Hornet For Free…

January 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thankfully, I Saw The Green Hornet For Free... | Movie Blog | The Green Hornet Review

Wouldn’t it be awesome if The Green Hornet delivered?

Click the link to read all about my high hopes that an amazing superhero movie is possible in January.

Honestly, I think Seth Rogen’s comic book adaptation wasn’t nearly as terrible as many seemed to think.  There was a ton of negative buzz from the second they announced this project was moving forward.

Lets get one thing straight:  It doesn’t suck.

First and foremost, I think Seth does a pretty great job as The Green Hornet. I bought it.  Honestly, I don’t really know much about the characters but in my opinion, this is Kato’s movie.  Jay Chou is pretty fantastic in the film and is pretty much responsible for carrying all the action scenes.

I’ll can’t get enough slow motion fight sequences.  I love them.  Action is the number one reason why I went to see the film in the first place.

While the movie did have a ton of fights including some fantastic car chases with guns blazing, I did have some major problems with the film…

Good thing it didn’t cost me anything.

Thanks to my Scene card, I was able to use my points to score a ticket for nothing.  Nothing like a free matinee show on a Friday afternoon right?

I felt bad for the film immediately as there were probably about 4 people in the theater.  FOUR!

Empty Theater The Green Hornet Review

I don’t want to appear to be too hard on the movie.  I’ve said many times that I try to enjoy every movie for what the filmmakers intended it to be.  In this case, they wanted it to be a good old fashioned comic book action movie.  If you go in expecting The Dark Knight, you’ll be disappointed.

It’s meant to be a fun movie and it succeeds admirably.

To me, it failed on two major points.

The Villain sucked

Chudnofsky was dead in the water from the very first moment he appeared on screen.  Christoph Waltz does an okay job (at least it’s not Nicholas Cage with a Jamaican accent) but I’m not sure they ever fully decided who Chudnofsky is.

He spends most of the movie whining about whether or not people find him scary.  I didn’t get it?  He rules L.A yet he feels threatened by any criminal who steps on his turf.

I’m not even going to get into the scene where he declares himself ‘Blood-nofsky’.  I wanted to laugh.  There’s no way he’s serious right?

Woops… Oh no…  He’s wearing an ‘intimidating’ gas mask…

When you don’t buy the villain, it doesn’t matter how cool the hero is.

But I suppose I didn’t ‘buy’ anything in this case.

Kato and The Green Hornet Fight Over A Girl

Okay, this one is essentially more of an annoyance.  Why do partners always have to fight over a girl?

I understand it’s necessary sometimes but my problem is how forced their fight was.  All of the sudden The Green Hornet becomes a raging jealous ass for basically no reason other than to .  Sure Kato doesn’t help by antagonizing him but in the end, nobody gets the girl and they fought for nothing.

Best friends.  Brothers even completely forget everything and start throwing each other through windows like it’s a drug deal gone wrong. (Which inflict no damage at all.)

A minor gripe but I was happier when that ‘episode’ was over.

In the end, The Green Hornet gives you exactly what you paid for.  A pretty entertaining and sometimes funny action film with some cool stunts and a lot of bullets.

You can’t really ask for much more than that in the middle of January.

Especially if it’s free!

127 Hours… 70 Days Later

January 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

127 Hours...  70 Days Later | 127 Hours Movie Review

Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time to see every movie you’d like in theaters.  I think I suffer withdrawal if a lot of time passes between screenings.  I love going to the movies.   Each time you experience something different. (Unless you’re a fan of repeat viewings.)

I didn’t get a chance to see 127 Hours when it was first released but I finally got my shot (70 days after it was released…) and it was definitely worth the wait.  The verdict?

127 Hours Was Awesome

What can I say?  This was one of the most visually interesting and well edited movies I’ve seen in a long time.  That sounds like a generic compliment doesn’t it?  Doesn’t everyone think the editing is good when there are split screens and such?

Note: Do they really?

Forget the effective use of split screens.  I’m talking about editing.  I loved the quick cutting between flashbacks and dream sequences while cleverly using jump cuts.  Not to mention Danny Boyle’s amazing eye.  I loved the variety in his shots.  He used so many different shooting styles, speeds and techniques and it all came together seamlessly.  127 Hours is an incredible film.

I envy the editor of this this movie. (Jon Harris who also cut Snatch by the way.)  He must have had a blast working with that footage.  Personally, I think it’s the best edited movie of the year.  I was inspired.

127 Hours makes me want to be a better editor.  Between my career as a professional editor in television and the new short film I’m currently cutting, I’m happy I’ll get the chance to raise my game.  To be better.   Any film that inspires me to become a better filmmaker and storyteller will always have a special place in my heart. Welcome to the team 127 Hours!

As for the film as a whole, the true story of Aron Ralston is truly amazing and the film’s tag line says it all:

There is no force in the universe stronger than the will to survive.

It’s a story of courage lead by a masterful performance by James Franco. (Who fully deserves an Oscar nomination.)

I honestly feel like I should apologize for not seeing it the day it came out.  This review is horribly dated now but I had to write about it.  Every movie I see makes me feel like screenwriting.  And every once in a while, a film comes along that ignites my desire to edit.

127 Hours accomplished both.

I’m sorry I waited so long.

XTRA: All Time Best: Movie Based On A True Story

XTRA: All Time Best: Movie I WISH Was Based On A True Story