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Category: Movies

Christmas Ghost Stories

Christmas Ghost Stories

The British have an intriguing history of telling ghost stories at Christmas. The most famous one is probably Dicken’s Christmas Carol with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future who haunt Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas eve. The immensely long running play Woman in Black starts with the protagonist Arthur Kipps being asked by his children to tell a ghost story on Christmas eve.

Here’s a collection of wonderfully 70’s era BBC productions of traditional ghost stories from the likes of MR James, Dickens, etc. They hardly classify as what we would considered horror today, but are a wonderful look back into what scared and intrigued people 100 years ago. I recommend listening to audiobook versions to give them a fair shake. They were originally designed to be told out loud compared to produced into plays (which often mess up pacing/lack description of the experienced horror of the characters).

You can find other productions like Mr. Humphrey’s and His Inheritance. Full of epic 70’s experimental theatrics and music:

Update: Here’s an even bigger collection of videos that includes everything above and more.

The End of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy

The End of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy

I thought this a really interesting term and article: the End of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy. Many young people have grown up in a world in which they have never had to pay the real costs of things. How? Venture capital has been helping Silicon Valley companies run with big losses for over a decade now. The goal was growth at any cost – and cost overruns were not a problem with basically 0% interest rates and venture capital and stock market investors pouring money into tech and growth stocks. With rising interest rates however, the last 20 years of free money seem to be slamming shut. The real cost of the Uber trips, complementary next day shipping, cloud storage, free apps, and cheap eats are starting to come out.

Venture capital companies are warning startups that the money is drying up and they need to act fast. Across the entire startup landscape, VC money is dropping by double-digit percentages and costs must be cut. Even Facebook and Google are issuing dire earnings reports that show that the party is likely over. You can read lots of articles on Inc about this rapid change and it’s causing scores of startups to rescind offers and even lay off substantial amounts of their staffs – often 20% or more at a time.

Time will tell if we ever return to the heady days of 2% interest rates. Until then, I think a lot of young people might start experiencing things that many lived through in the late 70’s and 80’s – high inflation with just as high interest rates. Much like the Ghostbusters did:

Photocrom Print Collection and online inspiratino

Photocrom Print Collection and online inspiratino

I think we forget the amazing collections of historical artifacts we have on the internet. The limitations of Covid has left me doing a lot of traveling and bucket list visits to famous places via Youtube and online streamers.

I started looking up filming locations for a favorite movie of mine – The Grand Budapest Hotel. Pre-soviet eastern block countries had amazing architecture. In my searching, it turns out Wes Anderson tried to capture the feel for the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel from old Photochrom prints.

The Photochrom Print Collection is available for free from the Library of Congress and has thousands of early prints of European and North American images from the 1890’s to 1910’s.

It makes me wonder what amazing artistic creations people can make using just the free resources we have at our fingertips today – plus some imagination.

Yo Ho Ho and The Fall

Yo Ho Ho and The Fall

The 2006 movie The Fall is an under-rated movie that I really enjoyed for it’s unique story and beautiful, dream-like visuals. Set in 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman (Roy) begins to tell a fantastic story of five mythical heroes to a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality blurs as the tale advances. Roy’s true motives and desperation start coming out as his story progresses.

The making of the movie by Tarsem Singh was a real labor of love. The film was shot in 28 countries over four years. No stages or sets were used, only existing absolutely fabulous and exotic locations were used. Filming locations included the Namibian desert, Cape Town Africa, Hagia Sophia, Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Fiji, Rome, Bali, Egypt, China, Boliva, and countless others bucket list locations.

With as few people that know The Fall, even fewer know it was based on a 1981 Bulgarian movie called Yo Ho Ho (Bulgarian: Йо-хо-хо). In Yo Ho Ho, an actor crippled after a bad fall on stage befriends a 10 year old boy who is recovering from a broken arm in hospital. The actor starts telling a marvelous fairy tale, inventing stories about a good buccaneer fighting the evil ruler Alvarez that must be punished for his crimes. Little by little the real people in hospital are transformed into the imaginary heroes of the pirate stories that the Actor and the child vanquish by goodness, honesty and self-denial – all the while the actor intends to use the child to provide him with poison to end his life.

Yo Ho Ho (Йо-хо-хо) is terribly hard to find. There is a youtube video, but no subtitles. Even ebay seems to have failed me, but it appears DVDLady has a copy available.

80’s Miami Vice filming locations

80’s Miami Vice filming locations

I love visiting where my favorite movies and TV shows were filmed. This guy has put together the most comprehensive and detailed shooting locations website I’ve ever seen. In this case, it’s for every location in the long running 1980’s hit Miami Vice.

This page discusses one of the most famous scenes in all of TV history – the drive to a deal in Heart of Darkness episode. He breaks down where every single cut was taken – even to the point of confirming locations based off the reflections off the car.

Virtual Production environments – at home?

Virtual Production environments – at home?

Virtual Production is really hitting it’s legs in real movies like the Mandalorian and replacing green-screen flows. It is, however, ridiculously expensive and requires massive spaces to work in.

Cinematographer and developer Matt Workman breaks down how he used a mix of real-world camera equipment and 3D knowledge in Unreal Engine to set up an indie virtual production studio in his house. He talks about his remote collaboration workflow as well. Learn more at http://www.unrealengine.com/film-tv

Orbital VR

Orbital VR

I’ve already written about how movie houses are often giving up on greenscreen and using giant LED displays along with game engines (like Unity) to control what is displayed based on camera movement. It gives much more realistic lighting, better sight lines, no green-screen removal artifacts, and a host of other benefits.

Orbital Studios is one of the houses doing this kind of work. They have some good videos on their website.

They’re definitely still defining these production environments and using some interesting things like Quasar lighting to create light zones around the actors:


Knight Rider filming locations

Knight Rider filming locations

As a kid, I LOVED catching the latest Knight Rider episode each week. Besides the episodes with KARR, one of my other favorites as a kid was the episode that featured Michael’s evil twin Garth and Goliath: a giant semi with the same protective shell as KITT.

I love visiting locations where my favorite films and TV shows were filmed, and it turns out someone found the filming location for the Goliath episodes. How cool is that?