June 30, 2020
Simulating temperature with smells? Turns out it works
Source: Digital Trends VR
June 29, 2020
Maurice Vellekoop is a Canadian-born artist and illustrator, and the designer for our newest StoryCorps short, “My Aunties.” When our director, Richard O’Connor from Ace and Son Moving Picture Co. reached out to him about working on the animation, he knew it’d be personal, but had no idea just how much.
Maurice Vellekoop: “I had just assumed that it was an American story. And when I opened the files with all the reference pictures, I was just taken aback.”
In “My Aunties,” Stefan Lynch recounts growing up with gay parents in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. He went to school and lived with his dad in Toronto, where he was cared for and loved by their community of mostly gay men he called his “aunties,” until he was in the 7th grade.
MV: “I knew all of these people very well! You know, I went to all of those parties that Stefan talks about…So it was very, very personal for me.”
In the mid-1980s, Maurice was a recently-out, recently-graduated young man in his twenties. Paul Baker, a professor at his art school, invited him to events and gatherings of local gay activists and academics. Many of the men wrote for the historic newspaper The Body Politic, including Stefan’s dad, Michael Lynch. “I met Michael many times. I didn’t know him very well, but we’d always chat whenever we saw each other.” At one of the first parties he attended — an earrings and purse party — Maurice remembers seeing a young boy, possibly a young Stefan, “and thinking, ‘Wow that’s pretty advanced!’”
Maurice remembers the 1980s as a time when things like Pride were smaller, scrappier, riskier, and much more political. Paul Baker and Michael Lynch — as well as Edward Jackson, and Gerald Hannon, who are featured in the animation as some of Stefan’s surviving aunties — were activists in their community, founding and contributing to not only The Body Politic, but also to the Gay Alliance Toward Equality, the Gay Academic Union, AIDs Action Now, AIDs Committee of Toronto, and the AIDs Memorial.
Of course, the 1980s is known as the beginning of the AIDs epidemic, which heavily impacted the LGBTQ community.
MV: “I had just come out when AIDS hit the world…And I really just went into shell shock. Paul lost friends left and right, and I was just of that generation where right from the start it was like, ‘Do not ever have sex without a condom.’ And in my more extreme case it was, ‘Do not ever have sex.’ So, it was almost like facing up to AIDs finally to work on this thing. Because I had to really look at it and think about the people who were lost. I was a wreck. It was deep, this whole thing was very deep for me. It was necessary, I mean when we’re telling these stories, it better be painful.”
MV: “One of the things that I find so poignant about it is Stefan’s voice. He’s obviously been through a lot and worked through a lot, and his acceptance of everything in that sort of mild way makes it all the more devastating.”
Like Stefan, Maurice remembers the defiant joy and determination of Stefan’s aunties.
MV: “The joyous thing about the whole story is that determination to hang on to joy, that Stefan talks about and that still inspires him. I do recall so fondly that joyfulness and that playfulness that that group had, and it’s something that I’m fortunate to have in my life now, too. My partner and I always dress in silly outfits for pride. It’s been 18 years now, we’re actually wondering what’s going to happen this year, of course. I don’t know if it’s directly inspired by them but that sense of camp and that sense of silliness is very much part of my life. I’m sure it’s an inheritance from that generation.”
The LGBTQ community is one of few in the United Stated to have lived through not one, but two epidemics – both of which are ongoing. Since the beginning of the AIDs epidemic, 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and approximately 32 million people have died of HIV/AIDs complications globally.
StoryCorps OutLoud launched in 2014 on the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Dedicated to documenting and sharing stories from LGBTQ people from across the United States, OutLoud is an extension of our longstanding commitment to preserving LGBTQ stories in a time of profound change in social attitudes about sexuality and gender identity in our country. Each StoryCorps interview becomes a permanent part of American history at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The importance of the work continues. Help us preserve the stories of LGBTQ elders before they are lost to history. Learn more at storycorps.org/outloud.
Source: SNPR Story Corps
June 29, 2020
A diverse library of 3D avatars to inspire your creativityAoiroStudio06.29.20
Amrit Pal Singh has been creating a really creative and unique initiative. Titled: ‘Toy Faces Library‘, it’s a series of 3D avatars that you can use for your mockups, UIs and/or personal use. The part where it gets very unique is that Amrit puts in a great effort to provide the most diverse library possible with over 70+ unique 3D avatars and that library keeps growing and growing. I think it’s an important factor that ‘Toy Faces Library‘ offers its exclusivity and if you want your own custom face. For a limited time, you can too. Make sure to check with Amrit’s availability. I love this kind of initiatives, it’s a nice way to kick off the week on abdz.
Source: Abduzeedo Illustration
June 29, 2020
Scientific Illustrations for the Hemaware MagazineAoiroStudio06.29.20
Markos Kay is an visual artist based on London, United Kingdom, he shared a project that we wanted to feature on abdz. via his Behance profile. It’s a series of intriguing illustrations for the Hemaware magazine to raise awareness of bleeding disorders, new treatments, and research. I would definitely push you guys to read the entire case study, there are some great explanations and videos. I personally love the style that Markos explores in this series and particularly like the color palette. The colors are subtle and make you appreciate the work instead of being triggering a factor of fear. Just like the way you will the ‘western medias’ describing a virus during a pandemic. These illustrations are available as prints, make sure to check out http://www.mrkism.com/shop/.
Illustrations created between 2018-2020 for Hemaware magazine which is produced by the National Hemophilia Foundation with the aim to raise awareness on bleeding disorders, new treatments and research.
Source: Abduzeedo Illustration
June 28, 2020
In the early 1980s, Cinefantastique was an extraordinarily detailed and authoritative sci-fi film magazine. Founded as a mimeographed fanzine a year before the 1968 release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it became a serious, almost scholarly glossy. And in 1982, Cinefantastique opened the year with a double issue that featured “Blade Runner,” Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
Looking back, Cinefantastique was right to recognize “Blade Runner;” its impact is still felt nearly 40 years later. However, in 1982 the $65 million production grossed just $41 million worldwide (in adjusted dollars, about $95 million) as one sci-fi title among many. June 11 saw the release of Steven Spielberg’s instant classic “;” June 4 was “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Those far less complex, more audience-friendly titles had already grossed over $125 million (this and all grosses here adjusted to 2020 values).
June 25 also saw the debut of “The Thing,” John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 classic, as well as 20th Century Fox’s “Megaforce.” The supernatural “Poltergeist” was riding high in its fourth week, and soon to come was Disney’s much-anticipated and very expensive “Tron.”
However, at around $65 million “Blade Runner” was the most expensive of these (“E.T.” only cost $26 million!). It starred Harrison Ford, who after the “Star Wars” films and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was the ideal actor to attach to this. And while this was only Scott’s third feature, his “Alien” showed that complicated, highly visual, stylized, R-rated sci-fi films could work along with the Spielberg/Lucas kind.
Also key was Alan Ladd, Jr., now an independent producer after leaving head of production post at 20th Century-Fox where he oversaw “Star Wars” and “Alien.” He formed his own company, which initially partnered with Warner Bros. That combined pedigree led to the choice of the late-June date, considered as prime as any.
“Blade Runner” underrated its competition, but there were other issues. Early screenings reflected a confused audience, which led to months of unsatisfactory tinkering — and later, reviews that were mixed or worse.
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
Still, the film opened to #2, behind only the soaring “E.T.” in its third week — the biggest one of its run. Spielberg’s film — the biggest domestic grosser over the decades since “Star Wars” — performed beyond all expectations. Ahead of its release, there was suspicion is might be minor Spielberg, too kid-friendly and certainly no risk to “Blade Runner.”
The second “Star Trek” film also held well, grossing nearly as much as the initial 1979 film. Also in play was “The Thing” as a tougher, R-rated entry (which ultimately lost money, as well as the Spielberg-produced “Poltergeist.”
Time has been kind to “Blade Runner,” which regularly places at or near the top of best sci-fi films ever, nearly always ahead of “E.T.,” but it lost money on its initial release. History repeated itself in 2018 with long-awaited sequel “Blade Runner 2049,” which cost over $150 million but grossed $260 million worldwide. Similar to the original, it had major core fan interest (although much better initial reviews, and far less competition). In both cases, the high budget took films with decent initial response into financial failure.
Totally lost in the shuffle was “Megaforce,” a megabomb that somehow was thought to be a smart change of pace for “Smokey and the Bandit” director Hal Needham. Produced by Al Ruddy (“The Godfather”) this sci-fi adjacent action film featured advanced weaponry and other gadgetry; some noted its fighter jet battles seemed inspired by “Star Wars.” Among its problems was fending off Clint Eastwood’s similarly military-themed “Firefox,” which quietly became a big success.
Seven of the top 10 for this week were featured to varying degree in Cinemafantastique and other sci-fi related media. That so many were positioned at such a prime time shows how hot the genre had become.
June 25-27, 1982 (grosses in BOLD are adjusted to 2020 equivalent)
1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1
$13.4 million/$30.1 million (+6%) in 1,215 theaters (+99); PTA: $11,015/$25,334; Final total: $435.1 million/$1.329 billion
2. Blade Runner (Warner Bros.)
$6.2 million/$14.3 million in 1,295 theaters; PTA: $4,749/$10,923; Final total: $32.7 million/$75.2 million
3. Firefox (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$5.1 million/$11.6 million (-37%) in 891 theaters (+10); PTA: $5,753/$13,231; Final total: $45.8 million/$105.3 million
4. Rocky III (MGM/UA) Week 5; Last weekend #3
$5.1 million/$11.5 million (-19%) in 1,232 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,134/$9,508; Final total: $124.1 million/$285.4 million
5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$4.5 million/$10.4 million (-27%) in 1,225 theaters (-223); PTA: $3,538/$8,137; Final total: $78.9 million/$181.5 million
6. Annie (Columbia) Week 6; Last weekend #5
$4.5 million/$10.3 million (-15%) in 1,102 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,120/$9,476; Final total: $57.1 million/$131.3 million
7. Poltergeist (MGM/UA) Week 4; Last weekend #6
$4.1 million/$9.4 million (-13%) in 911 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,504/$10,359; Final total: $76.6 million/$176.1 million
8. The Thing (Universal) NEW
$3.1 million/$7.1 million in 840 theaters; PTA: $3,700/$8,510; Final total: $19.6 million/$45.1 million
9. Megaforce (20th Century Fox) NEW
$2.4 million/$5.5 million in 1,193 theaters; PTA: $1,970/$4,531; Final total: $5.7 million/$13.1 million
10. Bambi (Buena Vista) REISSUE
$2.1 million/$4.8 million in 508 theaters; PTA: $4,127/$9,492; Final total: $23.0 million/$52.9 million (reissue only)
Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.
Source: IndieWire film
June 28, 2020
The pandemic may have pushed back the theatrical release of Pixar’s “Soul” (from Juneteenth to November 20), but that didn’t stop Disney from dropping a new teaser trailer on Saturday, touting the original song, “Parting Ways” (written, produced, and performed by fusion specialist Cody ChesnuTT).
Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, follows up his Oscar-winning “Inside Out” with the Cannes-selected “Soul,” which explores the answers to some of life’s most important questions of identity. The musical fantasy introduces Pixar’s first Black protagonist, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a New York middle-school band teacher who gets the ultimate gig playing piano at the top jazz club, only to fall into a manhole and journey to The Great Before, a fantastical place where new souls are formed before birth. There he encounters precocious soul, 22 (Tina Fey), who rejects the appeal of the human experience. But they team up so Gardner can return to Earth and complete his journey.
As Gardner emphasizes in the one-minute teaser, “Spend your precious hours doing what will bring out the real you — the brilliant, passionate you.” The predominantly Black cast also includes the voice work of Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, and Daveed Diggs. Musician Jon Batiste composed the jazz score for the New York portion, while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the ethereal score for The Great Before.
On Saturday, Essence Festival of Culture hosted a virtual “Soul” panel, which included Docter, co-director/screenwriter Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami,” “Star Trek: Discovery”), producer Dana Murray (“Lou” short), Batiste, and consultant Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole. It started with a simple idea, according to Docter. After coming off the high of “Inside Out” in 2015, he experienced a void: “I felt like I worked my whole life to make animated films, yet I found myself wondering, ‘Is this really what I’m born to do?’” he said. “I thought about my son. I took pictures the moment he arrived; I swear, we could already see him in there. And I was thinking, ‘How did that happen?’
“Well, because each of us is born with a soul…the soul is the center of who we are…it’s our makeup of what passions and inspirations we have. We wanted our main character in the film to have those passions born into him as well. It’s something we could all relate to and root for. A jazz musician was the perfect representation of what we were trying to say in the film.”
But, as with the Oscar-winning “Coco,” Pixar wanted to ensure cultural authenticity, so the studio hired Powers to collaborate on the script with Docter, Fey, and Mike Jones (the studio’s senior story and creative artist, and former IndieWire executive editor). His contribution was so integral to shaping Gardner’s character (they are both in their mid-40s and hail from New York City), that he was promoted to co-director: “But I had to transcend his experience,” Powers said, “and so they invited a lot of other Black voices into the fold.”
Pixar not only formed the “internal culture test” comprised of Black employees, but also recruited a range of outside consultants, including Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young (“The Arrival”), and celebrated jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Terri Lyne Carrington. In addition, Batiste, Thompson, Diggs, and anthropologist Betsch Cole served on the consulting team.
“This group watched our story reels, gave us story notes, looked at the character designs and sets as they were built,” added Powers. “They even helped with animation reviews. These folks came in to go with us on the journey.”
For Batiste, who musically provided a “cosmic optimism,” his “goal was to make it authentic, as though it were a real jazz band, while also being accessible to all ages,” he said. “I wanted to make some themes that tie into the ethereal nature of the other world while still being in the Earth realm and vice versa. Trent and Atticus and I would sometimes blend the two worlds musically.”
Source: IndieWire film
June 27, 2020
Longtime producer Stuart Cornfeld, 67, died June 26 of cancer, but left a mark on Hollywood with collaborations with iconic directors and a run of hit movies dating back to 1980.
As a film student at the AFI Conservatory in the 1970s he worked with Anne Bancroft, who went on to introduce him to Mel Brooks. Cornfeld was an assistant on Brooks’ 1977 comedy “High Anxiety,” and the two men teamed as executive producers on David Lynch’s 1980 “The Elephant Man.”
Cornfeld went on to produce David Cronenberg’s “The Fly,” which put the Canadian body-horror master on the map. Cornfeld also produced Steven Soderbergh’s “Kafka,” the young filmmaker’s first movie after the 1989 indie sensation “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” Guillermo del Toro’s “Mimic,” and the Vince Gilligan-scripted “Wilder Napalm.”
But Cornfeld’s closest collaboration was with filmmaker and actor Ben Stiller, with whom he launched Red Hour Productions and turned out a string of hit comedies including “Zoolander,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Dodgeball,” “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” “Blades of Glory,” and “Tropic Thunder.” In the 2010s, Cornfeld turned to indies and television, including Richard Ayoade’s cult hit “Submarine” and the reality-TV-skewering web series “Burning Love.”
“I love Stuart Cornfeld,” David Lynch told IndieWire. “Stuart was the one who introduced me to ‘The Elephant Man,’ which led to Mel Brooks giving me the chance to direct this film. Stuart, bless his heart, always believed in me and supported me. He was a true friend. He liked to take me to lunch — he took me to lunch many times. I turned Stuart on to Transcendental Meditation and he loved this meditation — through the years he always thanked me for telling him about it. Stuart was great to talk with — easy, fun, great insights, many laughs. I picture Stuart most likely laughing at the whole thing right now.”
“Better Call Saul” executive producer Mark Johnson, who first worked with Cornfeld on “High Anxiety,” told IndieWire that It’s hard to imagine a world without Cornfeld.
“All of us knew that he had a terminal illness, but you’re never prepared,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be without Stuart in the world. It’s almost impossible to describe. He was a force of humor, of passion. He was on the forefront of independent filmmaking, [but also] just plain good filmmaking. In an effort to hang out with the cool people, he overlooked the fact that he was the coolest one in the room.”
Johnson also revealed that Spanish painter Joan Bofill is at work on a documentary about Cornfeld, which the producer said is “remarkable because of who Stuart was.”
“Many things in this business — and in this life — will disappoint you. Stuart never did,” filmmaker Howard Franklin said.
“When I was a young struggling screenwriter, he literally gave me the shirt off his back,” “The English Teacher” screenwriter Dan Chariton told IndieWire. “And then half a dozen more, on the condition that I keep them dry cleaned in case I ever wanted to return them.”
“Stuart passed gently without added drama or chaos,” Johanna Went, performance artist and Cornfeld’s ex-wife, said. “I believe he experienced a good death if there can be such a thing. He was aware that his cancer was a runaway train. He did say, in that joking way he had, ‘This is the only trip I can take right now.’ He was at peace with dying and had clarity and presence.
Anne Thompson contributed reporting.
Source: IndieWire film
June 27, 2020
Cameron Crowe’s rock-and-roll odyssey “Almost Famous” about his golden days as a Rolling Stone journalist has only gotten better with time. The film turns 20 this September, and its wild shoot continues to yield fascinating stories from the crew and cast. That includes one of the movie’s breakout stars, Patrick Fugit, who plays Crowe’s surrogate character William and was only 16 at the time of filming.
In a recent Vulture interview with Fugit about the making of “Almost Famous,” one memory that stands out is his on-set dynamic with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays legendary music writer Lester Bangs. Lester becomes William’s mentor and editor, and that mentorship onscreen also carried over behind the scenes on the movie.
“Philip was only there for a few days. He was another well-known theater actor with a lot of training, and he was less accepting of me than Billy [Crudup] was,” Fugit said. “They both would give me shit. They’d ask me, like, ‘How old are you again?’ And I’d be like, ’16,’ and they’d be like, ‘Fuck you, man. You’re from Salt Lake City? Okay, great. What have you done there to earn this part?’ But Philip was also kind of like, ‘Kid, you have a big part here. You need to show up to work. Make sure you do a good job while you’re here. Don’t just throw this away. There’s actors out there who scrape, and beg, and starve for this kind of a role.’”
Fugit also recalled a diner scene where a light on set was too bright, and getting in the way of his performance. “Philip stops the take, and he’s like, ‘Hold on. Hey, Patrick, you can’t even look at me. You can’t even act right now. I feel like the light is too bright.’” Hoffman convinced cinematographer John Toll to lower the lighting, but for Fugit, the moment brought an important lesson for the rising young actor. “I realized Philip was standing up for me, but also pointing out to me that we may be pretty close to court jesters and dancing monkeys, but if something’s impeding you, you have to say something,” he said.
Fugit’s recollection of his short time with Hoffman is the latest heartfelt tribute to pour out for the late actor this year, as Jesse Plemons recently remembered Hoffman’s generosity and genius on the set of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” and Ethan Hawke also said that Hoffman gave him some of the best acting advice he’s ever received while working on Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead.”
Source: IndieWire film
June 27, 2020
Oscar-nominated composer Carter Burwell has been at the Coen Brothers’ side since their explosive 1984 debut “Blood Simple,” and that will include writer/director Joel Coen’s solo effort, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. In a recent conversation with IndieWire, Burwell, who’s currently in the Emmys race for the soundtracks to “The Morning Show” and “Space Force,” talked about what he’s seen so far of “Macbeth” and reflected on scoring another Coen classic, 2007’s “No Country for Old Men.”
“Joel shot at least half of it and he has sent me some footage in the last week,” Burwell said of the Shakespeare adaptation from A24, which began filming in Los Angeles in early February; production was halted in late March. “I’ve read the script, and it’s not like they changed the story from what’s in the play. But it’s different. Joel has adapted the play for film and just like the adaptations Joel and Ethan have done with books like ‘No Country for Old Men,’ it’s interesting how it really does change. It’s the same story in the same language, but it’s a beautiful adaptation that really turns it into a film with a certain amount of visual power. It’s always moving forward. You’re in constant motion toward some conclusion, which is hard to pull off on stage.”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is being shot entirely on sound stages to give the film a look untethered from reality. “It doesn’t look like Scotland,” Burwell said. “It’s more like a psychological reality. That said, it doesn’t seem stage-like either. Joel has compared it to German Expressionist film. You’re in a psychological world, and it’s pretty clear right from the beginning the way he’s shot it.”
While Burwell has scored nearly every Coen Brothers’ film, from “Fargo” and “Barton Fink” to “The Big Lebowski” and “A Serious Man,” one film where the composer’s presence is most invisible is also one of their finest, “No Country for Old Men.” To the untrained ear, the film famously contains almost no music outside of the opening titles and end credits, instead relying on nimble sound design and dreadful silence to ratchet up unbearable tension. However, Burwell said that wasn’t always the plan.
“Ethan was dubious that there wasn’t any score that would work for the movie. He felt that the silence was an important part of the tension, and that movie, without tension, doesn’t work. Joel felt that, be that as it may, there were still parts of the movie that needed the sort of oomph that music can bring that just needed to be dramatically amplified, that they needed more than just the sound of wind and gunfire,” Burwell said.
He added that while there was a degree of behind-the-scenes disagreement on the soundtrack, they exhausted the possibilities and realized “we can’t have any musical instruments. It’s weird to say, but it told you you were in a Hollywood movie. Of course, you know you’re watching a movie, but there’s something about hearing a recognizable instrument that just defeated the raw illusion of reality,” he said.
Burwell added that “the piece of music that plays on the end credits I originally wrote for a place in the film, where you first see blood on the ground at the beginning. There is actually music in the film, but it’s always snuck in behind wind or car sounds.”
Source: IndieWire film
June 26, 2020
This distribution strategy helped the no-budget indie sci-fi feature COSMOS achieve a profitable minimum guarantee, a Hollywood premiere, a worldwide release, and a limited US theatrical run in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, and more.
I’m Zander, I’m 29 and, with my brother Elliot, I’ve just spent 5 years directing and producing our debut feature film, COSMOS—a contemporary sci-fi film that explores first contact when 3 astronomers intercept a signal from space. Costing $7,000, COSMOS is a “no budget” feature film (by industry definition of “No Budget” costing $50K or less) and a true grassroots indie, crewed by just 3 people, paid for out of our own pockets, shot on the original 1080p BMPCC and edited on FCP7. No one on the film got paid, including ourselves, and any money spent was on unavoidable costs—gas, electricity, software, food etc.
Here’s the trailer:
Since my last article, we’ve received an outpouring of messages from filmmakers seeking clarity on our distribution strategy, so my goal is to share how we got COSMOS in front of paying audiences. Steal, adapt, or ignore as you please.