Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Take Flight" Shows New Career Paths For Gary Oldman and Juliet Landau

Gary Oldman and Juliet Landau have a few things in common.
Both are well-known actors. Both have played vampires. Both have also lent their voices for animated features.
Now, there's another title they have in common: director.

He directed a music video for Chutzpah, a Jewish hip-hop group, but made it unique by using only cell-phone cameras (Nokia N93 cellphone, by the way). He then asked Juliet to direct a "behind the scenes" feature on how it was done.
It later developed into a 25-minute documentary called "Take Flight" where we see how the video is done, but also get some insight through Oldman's eyes. How this is illustrated is just as fascinating, thanks to Juliet.

The film has been streaming at since February 25th. It's more than just a short featurette on how the artist and director discuss the video. It's a unique look at hoe someone comes up with a vision, and brings it to fruition.

The film is in three parts, for each of the three days of the shoot. Part one is meeting the band, and how they discuss the concept of their video, "Red Rover". Like other rap groups, Chutzpah have a feud with someone, in this case Matisyahu. We see Oldman set up the small cameras to get the right angles and the best view, even rolling on a wheelchair or taping a cell camera on a tripod. He talks abut the color of the big speakers, while we see one of the dancers trying to perform in front of a cellphone (which isn't as easy as it looks). When we see him hard at work, we hear the music in his head.

Part two is the second day of shooting. We see the group dancing in speedos, and the girls trying a little rapping of their own. The best part is seeing Oldman really enjoying himself filming the group, while we hear Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie".

The third part is the final day of shooting at the beach. Here, Oldman gets more concept shots, and a lot of footage of seagulls in flight, especially at sundown. While only a few seconds of the seagulls are used for the video, the rest of the footage shows how Oldman is again enjoying what he's doing. It's also great footage of seagulls in flight just before sundown.

This is a wonderful documentary, and a great success for both Oldman and Landau. It also shows that you don't need a lot of cash to produce good online content. As long as you have good equipment, and a good idea, you can go far. That's been proven many times already, but not too many people would like about using cellphones as cameras before.

After the credits we see the final product, and it's pretty good. Chutzpah has been around for four years, and the website is at George Segal is also part of the group...really. That's not too far out, considering that more than 40 years ago he played the banjo with the Smothers Brothers.

Landau, meanwhile, has a special YouTube channel ( where she talks to several people about the acting process, and about "Take Flight". The first two videos are with Armin Shimerman, who suggests an interesting way to market the documentary, and Michael Rosenbaum. More will be coming through March.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Guild's New DVD...A Big Step Towards Season 4

It's probably the first successful internet sitcom, about a group of people who play video games a bit too much to deal with reality.
Now, it's led to fame, a fair amount of fortune, a lot of awards, a music video that would rival anything MTV airs, and soon a three-part comic book mini-series.

Season three of The Guild has just been released on DVD. Unlike previous seasons, where the show and story lines were more like a typical sitcom, the third season is structured like a movie called "The Fall and Rise of the Knights of Good." They deal with a rival group of games called the Axis of Anarchy, the dark side of the KoG. The A of A successfully harasses one member, and convinces another to join them. Vork, the leader, quits to go on a quest, leaving the post to Codex, the reluctant heroine. Zaboo and Riley the Stupid Tall Hot Girl take their relationship to scary levels. In fact, Riley (Michele Boyd) is more frightening than Zaboo's mom (and people who saw season one might agree). Clara's marriage is in big trouble because of her video game obsession, and she lets her husband join in. It all culminates in a showdown between the A of A and KoG, and a shocking ending that some people dared not to predict.

It's kind of Lord of the Rings for gamers, but it's another winning season for creator and writer Felicia Day, and her fellow Guildies (Robin Thorsen, Jeff Lewis, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda and Sandeep Parikh). The show also pulled off a big coup by getting Wil Wheaton as Fawkes, the leader of the A of A.

The DVD has all 12 episodes, including commentary from the cast and crew. The cast, by the way are very funny, too. Their comments about how Riley carries Zaboo over the threshhold in episode 2, or Vork's triple take after Codex chews him out, are especially funny. They even ask why cartoon Vork doesn't cut his hand when he tosses his sword in the opening credits.

There's also the famous "Do You Want to Date My Avatar" video (nearly eight million hits on YouTube since August), some behind the scenes video, gag reels, and the special Halloween video. Also, there's several videos from people who hope to join the KoG, even if it's only part of the story line. Remember the guy with white hair and beard who just stood there and smiled? He talks now, and sounds like a grizzled old prospector.
We also get up close to the Axis of Anarchy, and get some good insight from Wheaton and the other actors who make up the group. There's also good tips on making Vork's sword, and web video in general.

After I saw the DVD, I went back to the DVD from the first season. Back then, The Guild was a smart sitcom that was made on half a shoestring, but proved the internet can be just as entertaining as regular TV. It's also hard to believe the first season was just two years ago. Look at the latest episodes, and you'll see the show has come a long way.
Fans are now waiting for a three-issue mini-series which starts next month, and hoping for a fourth season. Considering how this past season ended, it should be a foregone conclusion. That's why fans should buy more copies of this season, and get their friends to do that same. Also, send a DVD to MTV, and politely tell them to put "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar" on heavy rotation...because it's better than Ke$ha.
MUCH better.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Juliet Landau Faces Fans on Facebook

For the second time in two weeks Juliet Landau took questions from fans on the internet. She took questions this part February 18th at a Facebook site, mainly about her new documentary, Take Flight, which looks at how actor Gary Oldman made a music video of a Jewish hip-hop group, and only used cell phones to film it.

From Mapi Vera: Hi, Juliet, nice to meet you here! Who had the idea of turning this "making of" into a film?
When I saw the footage I had gotten, I got excited by the rare POV I had and i asked Gary if it could develop into short documentary

My question: After doing this, and if you wanted to direct again, would you do another documentary, or try to direct a feature or TV episode?
I co-directed the Hero music video for the band Godhead and I am co-directing the TAKE FLIGHT viral campaign. I'm looking forward to directing a narrative.

Jayme Vellante: What was your favorite part of working on the film?
I loved coming up with the structure. Since Gary operated one of the cell-cam's we get this rare POV that is like being in his head, seeing through his eyes. I intercut the cell footage with the standard def and high def footage. First we get glimpses, then longer more expansive pieces and by the very end, we are completely released into Gary's view. I also loved choosing the music for Gary's internal creative world.

Lucy Moore of The Grove School: Would you consider working with Gary Oldman or Chutzpah again in the future?
Yes, Absolutely. Gary is sooooo talented!

Charles Norton: What scenes did Gary Oldman direct with you on Take Flight?
Gary directs the music video within the film. The film chronicles his process during that shoot.

Jona Sims: Was it fun working with Gary? Do you have any other projects that you are going to do together?
I loved working with Gary. He is one of the best artists of our time. I'd absolutely love to work with him again

Anthony Ryan: How/where do you find music for a film? How do you get past copywrite?
I cleared all of the music rights. It took a lot of time... Because I self financed the film, I have huge thanks to The Vaughan Williams estate, SourceQ and Universal for working with me and making it possible

More from Charles Norton: So, relying on Gary's cell footage, you were pretty much on your own then? That is you shot all the film other than the music video?
I had 3 cameras and access to all of the cell footage. Yes, I directed everything in the film. Gary gave me free reign. I was really nervous when I went to show him the movie, because he hadn't seen any of it throughout the editing. He loved it and was very excited that it shows a different side of him.
Also: The music credits are at the end of the film.

More from Jayme Vellante: When are we ever going to see you in front of a camera again? Are you still working on the movie you were raising funds for? Do you have any other directorial plans?
Is there going to be a public screening for Take Flight or is it only going to be available online?
Yes, I am still raising funds for It's Raining Cats and Cats. it is an ambitious project. Lots of other projects brewing!
At this point it will be available to purchase for streaming online. I am excited to get it out there. Feb 25th is only 1 week away! Yay!

Mary Emmons: What was the best advice you received when taking on this project?
My producing partner suggested that I make an outline prior to the shoot, of what I wanted to be sure to capture on set. He also told me to watch the footage as many times through until it "spoke to me." I watched all 50 hours 3X through, and indeed I discovered the structure I wanted to use. I passed this advice on to a friend the other day who was going begin editing her first project, as I found it invaluable.

She also said that some of the music in the documentary had bird names in their titles. She said it was "unintentional but pretty magical considering TAKE FLIGHT and all."

Then, a good question from Bryan Curry: Do you think that the ability to reach such a large audience via social media like you are doing right now will allow more projects like Take Flight to reach a larger audience and other non-studio projects to achieve greater success? Or are there still a lot of hurdles in the industry that technology and social media has yet to overcome?
I hope so! There are still some hurdles in terms of it being financially feasible for filmmakers on the internet. But hopefully people will support this and other cutting edge, cool, exciting Indie projects. I love the ability to connect directly with people on forums like this. It is amazing!

More from Anthony Ryan: Can you tell us more about the interviews for the film that you have been talking about on Twitter? When will those be available?
The TAKE FLIGHT viral campaign is a sister project I put together. Since TF is about Gary's creative process, I talked with other artists I admire about their creative process and also asked them how they would market a film about Gary, Jewish Hip Hop and cell phones?! There are so many great answers!! These will be available on Youtube. We will be releasing 1 every other day starting the 25th. I have enjoyed working on them tremendously! :)

Another question from me: When you were directing, did you apply any lessons you may have learned from seeing Joss Whedon at work? That is, how does he affect your work in this documentary?
I have been fortunate to work with great directors like Tim Burton and Joss Whedon. I have learned from them immensely!!

Another from Charles Norton: Are there any plans for a DVD version?
Not as of yet, but there may be...

Lindsey Day of Vista del Lago HS: What inspired you to direct Take Flight?
Gary asked me to direct a behind the scenes making-of and it bloomed from there. I have always been inspired by the depth, range and power of his work.

More from Mary Emmons: Which do you prefer, being in front of the camera or behind it?

Deverill Weekes: Hey JL, Can you talk about the crew you worked with on TF and how was that as a first time Director.
As a debut director, I was lucky to work with unbelievably skilled and talented people: Not only was I filming one of the most talented movie stars of our time, I worked with two-time Emmy winning sound editor Pembrooke Andrews, who produced TF, was one of the cinematographers and did the sound editing, Jeremy Alter, who produced David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE, Ingela Ogard who edited with me tirelessly, Jon Vasquez who produced and was the much needed technical advisor, the extremely busy Larry Benjamin who was our amazing re-recording mixer, William Haefeli, who is a cartoonist for The New Yorker and did my credits/titles and FotoKem, who did an amazing job of color-correcting!!!!!!!

Anthony Ryan: Are you planning on submitting Take Flight to any of the film festivals, like Sundance or Toronto Film Festival?
We'll see! I am screening it at the Vineyard Film Festival in Cyprus, where I am serving on the jury. (My film is not in competition, but showing there.) I'd love to show it somewhere like Comic-Con cause I think it would be way cool! Last year was my first CC and it was so much fun!

A third question from me: After your first time as a director, what skills do you hope to improve as you take on future projects?
I have so much to learn. That's one of the things I love about what I do. One can always absorb and learn and grow.

She concluded the chat by saying: Thank you everyone for your great questions! I had a wonderful time hanging out with you! Thank you Jenny Christodal for putting this together! You are fantastic! Meant to thank you on Twitter last night after the Kat Von D shoot, but failed to do so. So, thank you for all your hard work yesterday as well. it is much appreciated!
If you guys like the TF virals... tell Jenny because I may carry on with them when stuff calms down in a month and a half or so... ??

Take Flight will be streaming on February 25th at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Juliet Landau Takes Flight On Twitter

Just two weeks before her documentary, "Take Flight", will be released on the internet, Juliet Laudau (aka Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) took questions from fans on Twitter. Most of the fans asked about how Landau got involved in the project, and why she took on the role of a director. The film looks at how actor Gary Oldman filmed and directed a music video by a Jewish hip-hop group called Chutzpah. He also did it by using only Nokia cellphones.

Her website includes a trailer which shows how Oldman was able to take some interesting camera angles, and how Landau approached this project. She said it started as a "making-of video" but wound up as a documentary. There are also interviews with cinematographer Deverill Weekes, and Pembrook Andrews, who had several roles including producer, cinematographer and sound editor.

It was interesting how Juliet's fans tried to ask questions while limited to 140 characters or less, while her answers had to stay within the same limit. It was still a lively exchange of information about the documentary, how directing is different from acting, and even whether she'd play Drusilla again on TV.

Here's a list of many of the questions:

From @starwriterlv: what was one the best things about doing Take Flight?
@starwriterlv It was a labor of love all the way around. Research, shooting, editing, picking the music. Loved getting to work with Gary.

From @octopusgrabbus: How many people worked with you on Take Flight? #takeflight
Producing TAKE FLIGHT took a while because I was working around everyone's schedules @octopusgrabbus. Excited that the 25th is near!
@octopusgrabbus: Gary directed the music video on cell phones to do something inventive under budgetary constraints.
@octopusgrabbus: 3 cameras. 1 was HD. 2 were standard def and had access to all the cell footage. It cuts seamlessly.

From @AmandaSpaceman: howdy. have you got a favorite oldman role?
He's wonderful in everything @AmandaSpaceman. So different in all. I'll list a few: Sid and Nancy, State of Grace, Dracula, True Romance..

From @benjaminkeay: What prompted you to step behind the camera into the producing of this? Has production/direction always been an interest?
I really like having a vision and bringing that vision to fruition @benjaminkeay. I think I got bitten by the bug w/ TAKE FLIGHT.

From @ravenu: Whose idea was it to shoot it with the camera phones?
Got really excited in editing bay @ravenu. Cell footage offers a rare POV that you wouldn't have w/ a traditional camera. (Gary Operates.)
Gary brought me in to direct a making of. But when I saw the footage, I asked if it could be a short doc. He gave me his blessing

from @superactorbrian: HI!!! :) What have you learned/applied for your processes as a director after having seen another director in action?
Hi @superactorbrian!!!! I learned to really explore and investigate, in the same way as I do as an actress.

From @girlalex87: how long did the music video and documentary take to complete?
@girlalex87: It feels like a lifetime!!!! :)

From @CharliePrime: what other projects r u working on?
Shot adorable kids movie, Monster Mutt playing blonde, Russian baddy @CharliePrime. Right now lots of TF promo...

Another from @octopusgrabbus: It seems like shooting with a cell phone would be different than with a traditional camera with a view finder
Yes @octopusgrabbus. The shots are beutiful, especially the sunset beach footage. Looks like 35mm.
The cell cam is so different than reg camera. W/Gary operating, it's like audience is in his head, seeing through his eyes @octopusgrabbus.

I asked her if she would consider making her own movies or documentaries using only Flip or Kodak Vi6 cameras (actually, Zi6 cameras).
Possibly @impalergeneral. I liked working with the Red camera on the Hero music video I co-directed.

From @19Sebastian67: Gary Oldman is an amazing actor and director. What was it like working with him? I'm looking forward to seeing your doc.
Thanks @19Sebastian67! Gary is wonderful to work with!! Such an amazing talent! I was inspired.

From @virtualbri: What other docs, if any, influenced how you approached Take Flight?
Did a lot of research @virtualbri. Loved making-ofs + docs that captured people in throes of their creative process, striving to achieve...

From @leeogrady79: when was the last time u saw james (Marsters) i love u 2 on #buffy
Thanks @leeogrady79! Saw James not too long ago

She also talked about when the documentary may be on DVD or iTunes, aside from streaming on the Take Flight website: At this point it will be available for streaming on the TF website @ravenu. But possibly later. Also have so many cool viral interviews

From @SarahBlanchee: what was the most challenging aspect for you as a debut director working in doc format?
I had 50 hours of footage, which I watched 3X through. Challenge to condense it into 25 min film which includes Gary's video @SarahBlanchee

From @_laurayup15_ : if you were asked to reprise the role of Drusilla, would you?
You bet @_laurayup15_ !

From @kabienvenue: this may be a question for your editor, out of curiosity, even though it killed the cat...What are you editing Take Flight on?
Final Cut Pro @kabienvenue. Color corrected at FotoKem, who did it cause they loved the project.

Then this happened: Typing so fast, I didn't notice @impalergeneral.. :)

I said: @julietlandau Oh, that's OK. I was just happy you answered one of my questions. I'm covering this for #Whedonopolis

Back to the questions:

From @daryldarko: i'll tell you 1 thing Juliet. after seeing what you did with your cell phones, i want to go out and make a short with MINE 2!
You should do it @daryldarko!!!!

From @KriiseHoi: Do u have any new projects? Would LOVE 2 see u on screen again! :)
Kid's movie Monster Mutt @KriiseHoi. Check out The Green Lantern: First Flight if u like animation. I play Labella.

From @EKAdams:How much of the 'Take Flight' documentary was planned versus completely improvised?
Hi @EKAdams!!!! Great to hear from u! Preparation is key. Whether acting, directing or writing it always pays off. Will bring that to all.

From @allisonbh: Why did you decide to do a documentary on Gary Oldman?
@allisonbh: I have always loved Gary's work. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Another from @superactorbrien: and how was it having two directors working on similar projects with two POVs? I bet it was awesome to compare notes! :)
Gary gave me free reign, so I was nervous to show him my cut @superactorbrian... I thought he'd have pges of notes, but...

More from @EKAdams: Had you listened to any of Chutzpah's tracks before doing the project?
@EKAdams: yes, I listened to a lot of Chutzpah before beginning.

More from @virtualbri: Did your vision of the doc change while filming or in the editing room, or stay pretty consistent throughout the process?
This was combnied from three entries: My vision stayed consistent, but it grew. I was so excited about the conceit of "looking through Gary's eyes"...that the structure changed. I decided to keep the cell footage 4X3 and everything else 16X19, so that audience...would be clear when we are in Gary's POV. It all cuts seamlessly...

From @marialba: While very hi-tech, the cameras used posed different challenges than usual. Could you discuss some of them
@marialba: Having all the different footage timeline, made the output a bit tricky. But it all worked beautifully after much hair puling

From GATORFAN70: Who would you consider a "dream of yours" to work with? I LOVE your work!
@GATORFAN70: It was a dream to work w/ G.O. I did a reading w/ Sean Penn. Would love to do a film w/ him.. also Meryl Streep... many others.

More from @kabienvenue: Hi! have you always wanted to try to direct, or was this just something sper of the moment?
@kabienvenue: I was interested in directing, but this experience made that interest even stronger.

From @hellmouthcast: I have two boys who are big fans of the cartoon Ben 10. How did you get involved with the show and the video game?
@hellmouthcast: Andrea Romano brought me in to do Justice League 1st and then onto Ben 10. So much fun!

From @buffyboards: hi Juliet, did u find the expierience as fun as acting?
@buffyboards: I did enjoy it as much as acting. Some elements are different and some are very similar.

From @wolfcub76: best of luck with TF, looking forward to seeing it. will you be doing anymore of these POV docs?
Thanks @wolfcub76!!! I'm not sure. Having great time now w/ TAKE FLIGHT virals. People are giving such great answers in the interviews.

From @draya22: do you ever relax?! You are the busiest person I know of!
@draya22: I relaxed in Hawaii. It was wonderful!!

More from @kabienvenue: Have any advice for a want to be director/writer, but willing to act as well?
@kabienvenue: learn your craft, then get on as many sets as you can. Follow what you love to do.

More from @EKAdams: How much of the 'Take Flight' documentary was planned versus completely improvised?
@EKAdams: I had an outline of what I wanted to get, but then also wanted to be free to go with the flow.

From @tholmes86: what gave u the idea to do Take Flight?
@tholmes86: The DP of Gary's music video recommended me.

From @thesadeianwoman: youre great! many of ur tweets seem to be about editing or the gym, etc. how are you so balanced & focused?!
Who says I'm balanced and focused @thesadeianwoman!

To @Raeven7: Hi! Can you explain how Christian Kane and Amy Acker are involved in Take Flight? I'm confused!
@Raeven7: I'm doing a viral campaign to time out w/ the release. I'm interviewing a bunch of cool folks. Amy and Christian are part of it.

She took questions for about one hour and 40 minutes before closing:

Thanks everyone! It was great hanging out! I hope there weren't too many typos.. I was answering fast, trying to keep up!

"Take Flight" will start streaming on on February 25th.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Wish We Had More Time

The first anniversary of the first episode of Dollhouse is just a few days away. It was only last week the last episode aired, with the world apparently about to recover after most of humanity was reduced to toys.

Fans and actors alike were convinced the show would have lasted for years if Fox gave it more time to find an audience. Of course, it would have also helped it the network gave it as much attention as 24, House, The Simpsons or American Idol. Remember the "Friday Night Fights" ad?
Given that, there's a lot of questions that have been left unanswered because the show lasted only 26 episodes.

What convinced Caroline to take on Rossum?

From what we can gather from her first meeting with Adelle DeWitt, and that video form college, Caroline must have been inspired from a professor to make her mark on the world as a protester. It did cost her friendships, and maybe love as well, but what made her determined to be a pesky problem for Rossum?

Why was Paul Ballard so obsessed with the Dollhouse?

We now from the first episode, "Echo" that he was assigned to investigate the Dollhouse even if his bosses are convinced it doesn't exist. There was mention of Paul having a confrontation with a senator over the Dollhouse, and how sometimes he doesn't close cases.
My guess was that Paul had a witness that would have sent a very powerful person to prison. Then, the witness denied what he said before, or that he met Paul. Why? Because his memories were removed by the Dollhouse, what else?

What was Adelle's "worst indiscretion"?

Adelle DeWitt enjoys a lot of perks being the head of the Los Angeles Dollhouse. It even includes "borrowing" an Active to fulfill her needs. Of course, that's when she poses as "Miss Lonelyhearts" to have the company of a handsome man...namely Victor, who is called Roger. She eventually breaks it off when it interferes with her job. When she tells Matthew Harding, one of the major bigwigs, she can't let Nolan Kinnard own Sierra (considering he's the one that turned her into an Active after driving her insane with drugs), he tells her he knows about "Miss Lonelyhearts", but that was not her worst sin. It makes you wonder what could be worse than using an Active as, to quote a song from the Dresden Dolls, her "coin-operated boy".
She did work as a scientist in a division that made replacement body parts out of stem cells. Could she have tried to recreate a whole human being that way?

Who was sending those messages to Paul through Echo and November?

Remember the shocking moment in "Man on the Street" when Echo told Paul Ballard the Dollhouse was real? She went on to say he has to find out Rossum's real purpose of providing Actives, and it's not just granting fantasies. Then, in "Spy In The House of Love", Mellie gives Paul another message, revealing the Dollhouse has spied on him, and that she's an Active.
Once Paul joins the Dollhouse as Echo's handler, the question of who is giving Paul these messages through the Actives is dropped. It would have been fun to figure out who it was. It may have been Dominic, who was a mole for the government, or Dr. Saunders, or maybe someone we never met

Whatever happened to Senator Daniel Perrin?

This is also an interesting question since you can still find him at Twitter. One of his more recent tweets talks about how Rossum's headquarters was blown up at the end of "The Hollow Men." It would be interesting to see if he ever reached the White House as Rossum's man, but that his administration didn't turn out as well as it hoped. He would have been the perfect bridge between what happened in the Dollhouse now, and ten years from now.

What happened to Claire Saunders/Whisky?

The last time we saw her was at Rossum, and that Clyde Randolph had taken over her body. Then, she was knocked out just before Echo turned co-founder Boyd Langton into the bomb that would blow up corporate headquarters. However, she was seen at the L.A. Dollhouse a few years later, regaining her identity as Saunders. So, how did she get out, and turned back to normal?

How did the tech wind up destroying the world?

It was thought that the prototype for Topher's Make Anyone An Active Ray was at Rossum's headquarters in Tucson. However, it's not hard to consider there had been extra prototypes safely hidden at other Dollhouses. If Harding and Clive Ambrose made extra versions of themselves by 2010, it makes sense.

Of course, there are lots of other mysteries that may remain unsolved within the 'verse of the Dollhouse, such as whether FBI agent Graham Tanaka, a guy who thinks Paul's insane for thinking the Dollhouse exists, may have been a mole for Rossum. What are the back stories for Dominic, Mag, Zone, and Tony and Priya's break-up?
Well, that's what fan fiction is for, but it shows the complete Dollhouse saga would have lasted a lot longer than 26 episodes.