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.

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