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“Walking Dead” Season 3 Premiere: Review

It’s the creepiest show on television – and one of the highest-rated – “The Walking Dead” kicked off its third season by consuming the ratings and becoming the highest-rated television series premiere this fall.


Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff Rick Grimes in a scene from “The Walking Dead” season 3 premiere.  

The Season 3 premiere walked away with over 10.9 million total viewers (a 50% increase over last seasons “Walking Dead” premiere) and is now ranked in the basic-cable history books as the biggest telecast of any drama series.

For fans of the show, the stats shouldn’t be a surprise, for viewers new to the show however, a Walking Dead Episode Guide will come in handy. But if you’re like us, you glued yourself to your television screen for possibly the best hour of scripted television currently on air.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Season 3 opener (titled “Seed”) is set a few months ahead of Season 2 and starts as our band of human survivors are scavenging an abandoned house for supplies. As faithful viewers recall, Season 2 abruptly ended with their former sanctuary, going up in flames when it was overrun with zombies. The group is again on the move, critically low on ammunition as well other supplies.

Eventually, their quest rewards them, when they find a maximum-security prison nestled in the woods. The prison’s heavily fortified walls could give the group all the protection it needs. But there’s one problem: The place is crawling with the undead. Zombie prisoners lumber alongside still-uniformed prison guards in riot gear. Rick and team make quick work of the walkers, then find a part (C Block) of the massive prison complex they can seal and guard effectively.


What’s scarier than a zombie? A zombie wearing riot gear.

Search and Destroy
The next day, Rick leads part of the group on an exploratory mission to find the prison commissary and armory. This goes about as well as you’d think it would considering the surprises that lurk around every corner – and to save you the grief of us spoiling too much – a few of those surprises include an team member amputation and zombies, who aren’t quite zombies…

Like every episode of “The Walking Dead” the writing is exceptionally sharp, plus the actors are in their third season stride and have long settled into character. Speaking of characters, “Seeds,” introduces the cloaked figure we got a glance of last season: Michonne is a female warrior whose preferred method of zombie killing is lopping the heads off with her katana. Michonne makes for a very interesting survivor, especially since she always got two zombies in tow, courtesy of a chain around their necks.

The show contains as many soap-opera elements as zombie themes, so the Season 3 opener also had to deal with Rick’s killing of Shane—his former best friend—which was a huge plot development in the series’ history. In “Seeds,” Rick tells Lori (who had a brief affair with Shane in Season 1, when she presumed Rick had died) about what happened and how Shane was about to kill Rick before Rick beat him to the punch. Lori pulls away from Rick in shock and disbelief. This underscores the growing tension between Rick and Lori, which remains a constant drumbeat in the Season Three opener.

Another complication is revealed when Lori confesses to Hershel (who has been the closest thing to a group medic, based on his previous occupation as a veterinarian) that she has grave fears about the health of the baby she’s carrying, including the possibility that the child might be born as a zombie, or could transform into one over time.


Michionne played by actress Danai Gurira will have a major role in season 3.

“Walking” Tall
What’s next for “The Walking Dead”? Tune in each Sunday night at 9pm EST to find out. The show’s third season will be split into two batches. The first eight episodes began with last night’s installment. Afterward, the program will go on hiatus until the spring, when the remaining eight episodes will be presented.

“The Walking Dead” is only beginning its third season but it’s already made TV history. It’s easy to see why; “The Walking Dead” is a gripping story of group survival punctuated with gruesome moments of pure horror. The story is compelling and its often nauseating special effects rival anything put on film. No wonder it’s a hit both with horror fans as well as those interested in learning how to create special effects.


“Walking Dead” Special FX Makeup Designer Greg Nicotero digitally zombified celebrities…such as “Lord of the Rings”/“The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson. (See the rest of the zombie celebrities at AMC’s “The Walking Dead” web site.)

If you haven’t gotten bitten by “The Walking Dead” yet, there’s still plenty of time and opportunities to get up to speed on TV’s greatest thrill-machine. In fact, you can start watching the show from the beginning: NetFlix has each episode from the first two seasons online and available as instant (and commercial-free) streaming video. (And for a brief time, the “Walking Dead” web site has the Season 3 opener online for free viewing whenever you want.)

Check in with us for future updates about “The Walking Dead.” We’re eagerly watching each Sunday night. And just like the zombies, we’re always hungry for more.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Best Bond Trivia: Celebrating 50 Years of 007

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the cinema’s all-time action star. To celebrate the series we’re taking a closer look at all things Bond. Recently, we selected the five best James Bond movies and now we’re finishing our tribute with a collection of the most amazing Bond trivia we could find.


Nobody wanted him—neither the character’s creator nor film producers. But Scottish actor Sean Connery went on to leave an unforgettable impression as the first Agent 007. 

1. The Birth of “Bond…James Bond.” Created by English author Ian Fleming in 1953, Bond made his first appearance in the novel “Casino Royale.” Before his days as an author, Fleming served in Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division. One day he told a friend: “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” Fleming eventually penned 14 James Bond books, all of which were written at Fleming’s Jamaican estate—named “GoldenEye.”

2. There are 24 “James Bond” Films. “Dr. No” (1962); “From Russia With Love” (1963); “Goldfinger” (1964); “Thunderball” (1965); “You Only Live Twice” (1967); “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969); “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971); “Live and Let Die” (1973); “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974); “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977); “Moonraker” (1979); “For Your Eyes Only” (1981); “Octopussy” (1983); “Never Say Never Again” (1983); “A View to a Kill” (1985); “The Living Daylights” (1987); “License to Kill” (1989); “GoldenEye” (1995); “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997); “The World is Not Enough” (1999); “Die Another Day” (2002); “Casino Royale” (2006); “Quantum of Solace” (2008); and “Skyfall” (2012).

3. How he Got his Name. The name “James Bond” belonged to a real person—an American ornithologist and author named James Bond who was a published expert on the subject of birds found in the Caribbean. Fleming wanted a plain, simple name for the agent, who he envisioned as “an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.” The character was based on different intelligence agents Fleming had known during WWII, when he himself was an intelligence agent.

4. The Longest and Shortest James Bond Film. The average length of a Bond movie is approximately 125 minutes, 25 seconds. The shortest film in the series: 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” (106 minutes). The longest James Bond movie: 2006’s “Casino Royale” (144 minutes).

5. The Very First James Bond. Sean Connery was not the first actor to play the secret agent. American actor Barry Nelson portrayed 007 in a television adaptation of “Casino Royale,” back in 1954. Connery was also not the first choice of Bond creator Ian Fleming – who originally envisioned dapper and witty English actor David Niven playing 007. (Fleming said that Bond might have looked like Hoagy Carmichael, a popular American singer.) Connery was not even the first choice of film producers, who originally wanted actor Peter Anthony. When Connery was allowed to meet with producers, he showed up looking unshaven and acting as if he couldn’t care less if he got the role. The attitude he displayed won him the part of a lifetime.

6. The Men Who Would be Bond, Pt. 1. Some of the actors originally considered for the part of James Bond included front-runner Cary Grant, James Mason, Patrick McGoohan and Rex Harrison.


Who’s this guy? Wearing a suit that would make Austin Powers proud, George Lazenby stunned film producers when he announced he would leave the Bond series after only one film…the movie he was still shooting (1969′s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”).

7. Most Successful Bond Film: 1965’s “Thunderball.” When adjusting its revenues for inflation, “Thunderball” has earned slightly more than a billion dollars ($1.04 billion), making it the series box-office champ.

8. Who Played 007? In the James Bond film series, the character has been played by: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

9. The Theme. Written by English composer Monty Norman and arranged by film composer John Barry, the twangy “James Bond Theme” is one of the most universally known pieces of music ever recorded. The signature electric guitar part, laden with echo, was played by studio ace Vic Flick. (His instrument was a Clifford Essex Paragon Cello-Bodied electric guitar, fitted with a DeAmond volume pedal and played through a 15-watt Vox amplifier. That guitar is now on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.)

10. An Evil Monkey Could Have Been Bond’s Nemesis. An early draft of the “Dr. No” script was rejected because the title villain had been written as a monkey (presumably an evil monkey with a scheme to take over the world).

11. Bond Makes Bank. In today’s dollars, the Bond series of films has grossed more than $12 billion worldwide, which makes it the second-highest-grossing film series of all time, right behind the “Harry Potter” series. It has been estimated that a full quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond film.

12. Most Appearances as James Bond. Roger Moore stayed on the job longer than any other Bond actor—twelve years to be exact. Moore is also tied for the most performances as James Bond. Both he and Sean Connery have each appeared seven times as Agent 007.


The Aston Martin DB5 featured in “Goldfinger” became a celebrity itself. The Corgi miniature model of it became the best-selling toy of 1964.

13. Most Memorable Movie Line. Bond’s signature phrase, “Bond…James Bond” has been praised as one of the greatest catch phrases in all of movies. The American Film Institute named it the 22nd greatest quotation in film history and in 2001, British movie fans voted it the best-loved one-liner in cinema history.

14. Biggest Opening for Bond. When “Quantum of Solace” opened in the United Kingdom in 2008, it set the opening-weekend record. It also scored the highest-grossing opening weekend Bond film in the U.S., raking in $67.5 million for the weekend.

15. Rejected Title Song. Country music giant Johnny Cash submitted a potential “Thunderball” theme song to the film’s producers, but it was rejected by the film’s producers.

16. Bond’s Most Famous Ride. Bond’s most famous vehicle was a slate gray Aston Martin DB5 first introduced in “Goldfinger.” The car’s famous accessories included hidden machine guns, a metal plate for deflecting gunfire, revolving license plates (good in all countries), and the piece de resistance, a passenger ejector seat that fired undesirable henchmen out the top of the vehicle.

17. Age of the Actors. The youngest actor to portray James Bond was George Lazenby (age 30), who starred in only one Bond movie, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” The oldest actor to star as Bond was Roger Moore, who was a ripe old 57 during shooting of 1985’s “A View to a Kill.”

18. Bond’s Favorite Casino Game is called Chemin de Fer, a French version of the card game Baccarat. Agent 007 plays the classy game in “Dr. No,” “Thunderball,” the 1967 version of “Casino Royale,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “GoldenEye.”


Suave Roger Moore kept the Bond role for a record twelve years. His Bond was as quick with witty banter as he was with a gun.

19. Fleming’s Thoughts on the Big Screen Bond. When Bond author Ian Fleming saw the preview screening for the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” his initial response was “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

20. Weapons of Choice. The Walther PPN is Bond’s current sidearm. For years, however, he carried the Walther PPK, although he used a Beretta 418 during the first five novels. When Fleming heard from a Bond fan and gun enthusiast, who called the Beretta “a lady’s gun” and that “Bond should instead use a Walther PPK 7.65mm.” At various times Bond has used other weapons, including rifles and other handguns. The most unique gun he ever carried may have been the tricked-out attaché case from “From Russia with Love,” which contained an assault rifle built right into the briefcase…which could also shoot daggers and emit teargas.

21. Casino Royale(s). The film with the greatest number of actors portraying James Bond was (undoubtedly) 1967’s “Casino Royale,” which differs significantly from the 2006 movie with Daniel Craig. The first “Casino Royale” was a broad spy spoof which featured six actors each portraying James Bond, including Woody Allen as “Jimmy Bond.”

22. Balding Bond. Connery was already starting to go bald when he won the part of James Bond. In each of his films as Agent 007, he sported a toupee.

23. The Only Actor Asked Back. British actor Timothy Dalton was originally approached to possibly play James Bond in 1969. Dalton tested for the role, but took himself out of the running, saying he felt he was too young to play the part. George Lazenby would step into the role instead, although Dalton would get his chance again years later in 1987 when he played Bond in “The Living Daylights.”

24. Biggest Bond Explosion. The ending of “Thunderball” shows villain Emilio Largo’s souped-up power yacht (named “The Disco Volante,” or flying saucer) running aground on a Bahamas island and exploding in a gi-normous fireball. To produce a sufficiently powerful explosion, the effects coordinator used an experimental rocket fuel. However, not knowing how much of the fuel to use, he doused the entire yacht with the stuff. The massive resulting explosion actually blew out windows in Nassau—more than 30 miles away.


Timothy Dalton (seen here in “License to Kill”) was first approached to play Bond in 1969. He turned down the role then, but didn’t make the same mistake in 1987.

25. Bond Breaks Character. There has only been one time during the entire history of the James Bond film franchise when the actor portraying the Bond character makes a reference to existing within a film series. This occurs during “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” when George Lazenby quips “This never happened to the other fellow,” making a reference to the freshly departed Sean Connery. The incident has not happened since.

26. Oscar Winning Bond. The first Bond film to win an Academy Award was 1964’s “Goldfinger,” it captured the Oscars for Best Effects and Sound Effects.

27. SPECTRE Defined. While the U.S. was engaged in a Cold War with Russia, Bond doggedly fought against the forces of evil organization SPECTRE. Here’s what SPECTRE stands for: SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

28. Before They Were Famous. The Russian-trained assassin Bond faces in 1963’s “From Russia With Love” was played by Robert Shaw—who played Quint, the salty fisherman in 1974’s mega-hit “Jaws.”

29. An English Record Holder. “Live and Let Die” drew the biggest British television audience for a film broadcast on TV. The 1973 adventure was seen by 23.5 million viewers, a record that still stands.

30. Best Bond Babe? The first “Bond girl” was Ursula Andress, who played Honey Rider in “Dr. No.” “Entertainment Weekly” ranked her tops among “Bond Babes.” Her iconic white bikini—which helped popularize the swimsuit—sold at a 2001 auction for $61,000. (Halle Berry’s outfit in “Die Another Day” was based on Ursula’s iconic outfit.)


Ian Fleming wrote 14 James Bond novels and created one of the biggest film franchises of all time. Like his most famous character, Fleming enjoyed the finer things while having a definite taste for danger.

31. AFI Hero. In 2005, the American Film Institute hailed James Bond as the third-greatest film hero of all time. “Premiere” magazine listed Bond as the fifth-greatest movie character.

32. First Bond Movie. The films’ producers wanted “Thunderball” to be the first film, but due to a legal wrangle involving the screenplay, “Dr. No” became the first James Bond movie.

33. The Bond Theme Song. The most successful songs from James Bond movies were also big hits on the pop charts. The most popular have been “Goldfinger” (sung by Shirley Bassey), “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney & Wings), “Nobody Does it Better” (Carly Simon), “Thunderball” (Tom Jones) and “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton).

34. The Last Movie President Kennedy Ever Saw. President John F. Kennedy was a big fan of the Bond spy novels, and the movies made from them. In a “Look” magazine interview he included “From Russia With Love” in his list of ten favorite books, and held a private White House screening of “Dr. No.” In fact, Kennedy showed “From Russia With Love” at the White House on November 20, 1963…just days before his assassination in Dallas—making it the last motion picture he ever saw.

35. Bond Sets Records. At one time, “The Guinness Book of World Records” listed “Goldfinger” as the fastest-grossing film of all time. To meet the insane demand for the film, New York City theaters started running the movie around the clock.

36. Saint Roger Moore. During casting for “Dr. No,” Roger Moore had been considered for the part but rejected, partly because he was in the process of signing to star in a new TV detective show. Roger Moore’s “The Saint,” which made him an international star, premiered exactly one day before “Dr. No” opened in theaters.


James Bond No. 5, smooth Pierce Brosnan, came to the role after playing the title role of TV detective “Remington Steele.”

37. Worst Bond Film? Perhaps the least successful film of the series was 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun,” a film that failed with audiences and critics alike.

38. Breathtaking Performance. Singer Tom Jones belted out the title song to “Thunderball” with such leather-lunged gusto that he literally fainted while singing the tune’s ending. “I closed my eyes,” Jones later recalled, “And I held the note for so long that when I opened my eyes the room was spinning.”

39. License to Fail. The Bond picture with the weakest box office performance was 1989’s “License to Kill.”

40. Never Say Never. Perhaps the oddest Bond flick is 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” in which hard-charging Sean Connery returned to the role he made famous in the early sixties. It was strange enough that one year would produce both a Roger Moore Bond film (“Octopussy”) as well as a Sean Connery Bond film, as if the two were competing. There was also the fact that “Never” is almost an exact duplicate of “Thunderball.” The plot is the same and many of the other details are lifted exactly from the earlier classic. To see Connery eighteen years older hustling through the same plot is like a weird funhouse trick.

41. Bring in the Helicopters. Bond movies must have helicopters, as they have done since the second Bond flick, “From Russia With Love.” The only movie of the series that lacked a helicopter sequence was “The Man With the Golden Gun,” which fizzled at the box office.

42. Bond’s Connection to Willie Wonka and Austin Powers. “You Only Live Twice” featured a screenplay by noted writer Roald Dahl, who would be better known for writing “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and creating the character of Willy Wonka. (In the film, villainous mastermind Ernst Blofeld wears the same type of Nehru jacket that Mike Meyers would sport as Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”)


Daniel Craig returns to movie screens as James Bond in “Skyfall.”

43. Evil Genius. Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane,” “Touch of Evil”) was considered for the title role of “Goldfinger,” but he reportedly wanted too much gold for his performance.

44. Bond Pays for Protection. During the 1972 shooting of “Live and Let Die,” portions of the story had to be filmed in New York’s notoriously dangerous Harlem area. Producers paid protection money to a local gang. As legend tells it, when the cash had been spent, the film crew was “encouraged” to leave the area immediately.

45. Bond Babies. The James Bond series spawned an endless number of imitators. For the coolest TV version, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the show’s producers sought and received guidance from Ian Fleming himself. The Bond creator even named one of the show’s characters, dreaming up one of the all-time great spy names: Napoleon Solo.

46. James Bond’s Favorite Bond. Although somewhat ignored over the years, “From Russia With Love” is seeing its reputation grow among critics and fans. And this is reportedly the favorite Bond movie among Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.

47. The Men Who Would Be Bond, Pt. 2. Actors later considered as candidates to play Bond included Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The role was actually offered to Clint Eastwood, who respectfully declined, saying he thought the part should be played by a British actor.

48. Bond Almost Dies. Sean Connery narrowly avoided disaster during “Thunderball” when he agreed to enter a swimming pool filled with Golden Grotto sharks. Although he was given a clear plexiglass shield of sorts, the device malfunctioned, leaving Connery face to face with sharks. Connery, an expert swimmer beat a hasty retreat away from the sharks.

49. Big Bald Blofeld. The character of SPECTRE overlord Blofeld was first played by actor Donald Pleasance, who would later be identified with another successful film franchise, as the psychiatrist in the “Halloween” series of slasher movies. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Blofeld was played by Telly Savalas, better known as TV’s favorite bald detective, “Kojack.”

50. Coming Attractions. It has been confirmed that a 24th James Bond film will be made. There is some speculation that it could be helmed by “Dark Knight” and “Inception” director Christopher Nolan.

His Name Means Excitement
James Bond endures as a movie mainstay because he always delivers screen excitement. For anyone interested in learning movie making and special effects, Bond movies are text-book examples of how big action movies were meant to be made. Coming up later this summer: James Bond returns in “Skyfall.”

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Best Memorial Day Movies

Memorial Day is not just a three-day holiday weekend. It’s also the time when we pause as a nation to remember the brave men and women who defend the United States, and risk life and limb to protect this country and its core freedoms. So, if the weather puts a damper on those outdoor plans this weekend, consider screening one of the following war movies, each of which puts a distinctive spin on a particular American war.

Glory (1989)

The Civil War rages once more in “Glory.”

Last spring marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War – the nation’s deadliest war. “Glory” is about human dignity as much as it about conflict, but that’s no slam against the film’s battle scenes, which chronicle the rifle-and-cannonball action seen by the Union’s first division of black troops. Hugely entertaining film with memorable performances from a dignified Morgan Freeman, a somber Matthew Broderick and (especially) Denzel Washington, as a runaway slave turned angry soldier…with a major score to settle.

The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Errol Flynn keeps the “lads” flying as a WWI commander in “The Dawn Patrol.”

Civil War Gen. Sherman famously said, “War is hell,” and many films have echoed that theme. Here’s one with a British accent. “The Dawn Patrol” tells the WWI story of an English aerial combat squad waging a seemingly endless air war against German fighter aces. British pilot Errol Flynn mocks his C.O., until he has to replace him. Suddenly, Flynn learns what it’s like to send young and inexperienced aviators to their deaths. Lots of aerial dogfights and camaraderie…plus the most rickety flying contraptions ever seen.

Patton (1970)

WWII from two different perspectives. “Patton” celebrates individual genius…

Maybe it’s unfair to pick two movies to represent WWII – but then again, it was a pretty big war. “Patton” celebrates individual genius, and how it contributed to the war effort, while “Saving Private Ryan” is about the collective sacrifice of battle and how soldiers unite to achieve the impossible. “Patton’s” opening scene will inspire you to battle, while the blood-and-thunder opening of “Saving Private Ryan” (i.e., the Omaha Beach landing on D-Day) will make you glad you weren’t there – but grateful that others were.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

…while war is a team effort in “Saving Private Ryan.”

Tom Hanks and Matt Damon starred in Steven Spielberg’s epic. The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million and required more than 1,000 extras to shoot. The movie’s riveting early sequences capture what it was like to face the combat of D-Day from an almost video-game-like first-person perspective. The movie went on to influence other war filmmakers and even spawned the HBO television series, “Band of Brothers.”

M*A*S*H (1970)

The original Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper (Elliott Gould) play the Army for laughs in 1970′s “M*A*S*H.”

If you only know the TV show, it’s time you see why critics (and everyone else) got knocked for a loop by Robert Altman’s absurd take on American surgeons operating in an Army hospital during the Korean War. Whereas the show went first for broad laughs, then for a mix of comedy and social activism, the film has its own subversive vibe and crazy rhythm. No wonder it made stars of Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould and many others. Bloody battlefield surgery collides with umpteen types of humor, and the war comedy is never the same again.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Here come the Americans.

Many films admirably portrayed the Vietnam War, but none captured the sheer confusion quite like Francis Ford Coppola’s war opus. “Apocalypse Now” is not just about the madness of a renegade colonel gone native, but also the insanity of trying to graft an American design for war on a country like Vietnam. A fool’s paradise of cinematic riches,  “Apocalypse Now” is a massive spectacle of a film, which nearly killed and bankrupted its makers. And its centerpiece – a dizzying helicopter assault on a coastal village (scored with opera, no less) – is still arguably the greatest battle scene in all of film.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

Although set in 1993 in Somalia, “Black Hawk Down” speaks to our current conflicts.

Modern warfare has gotten even more complicated than it was in ‘Nam. Ridley Scott’s re-enactment of all the various things that went wrong in 1993, when an American helicopter crew crash-landed in Somalia city streets, is terrifying even before the chopper is down and the crew is savagely overrun by violent locals. What happens next is a sobering look at the dangers faced by our military personnel everywhere the U.S. is not wanted. “Black Hawk Down” is the link to recent movies that deal with America’s ongoing wars.

This Memorial Day, the staff and instructors of Digital Media Academy applaud the service of America’s military personnel, no matter where they find themselves stationed during this holiday weekend. We also thank military families for the lifetime of sacrifices that they make on behalf of our nation.

Digital Media Academy was ranked the World’s Best Tech Camp in 2011.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Greatest Music Videos of All Time

Using music and video together as a medium to tell a story can be a very powerful tool for communicating a message. Today filmmakers and musicians add Hollywood visual effects and other fancy tricks to make music videos have impact, but the pioneers of the format used their imaginations to push music videos to all new heights:

Artist: Bob Dylan
Song: “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965/1967)

Bob Dylan, the Voice of His Generation, trying not to look bored in the groundbreaking music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” (The bearded guy to the left is poet Allen Ginsberg, author of the Beat classic “Howl.”)

How It Changed Music Videos: It was the first modern music video built around an artistic concept. The primitive black-and-white film was made to promote the song – the video was initially created for the 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary “Don’t Look Back,” which shadowed Dylan as he toured England during 1965.

It’s a pretty simple idea really, but one that has struck a chord with several generations of rock audiences. A guy stands in an alley holding a stack of cue cards. The audio from a rambunctious folk rock song starts to blast, each line of which is a non-stop barrage of hipster verbiage (example: “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine/I’m on the pavement thinking about the government”).

As the video progresses, the guy in it, rock poet Bob Dylan, drops each cue card after its corresponding piece of lyric has been sung in the audio. Dylan does not sing or perform the song. In fact, he shows no particular emotion, except mild irritation and boredom. When he runs out of cue cards, he just walks out of the camera frame, leaving puzzled audiences to try and figure out what it all meant.

Artist: Michael Jackson
Song: “Thriller” (1984)

With Quincy Jones-produced rhythms and Michael Jackson as a zombie, “Thriller” proved to be a genuine media event.

How It Changed Music Videos: By 1984, MTV had taken over control of the music industry; at this point, a new album or single had to have a top-notch video. Michael Jackson took the challenge and ran with it, making this first single song video epic from what would become the decade’s biggest album.

Jackson brought on film director John Landis to oversee the project. Landis was already a Hollywood power-player, having directed “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Trading Places,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “An American Werewolf in London” before tackling “Thriller.” For the video he was given a half-million dollar budget.

Jackson made multiple music videos to promote several tracks, but the “Thriller” music video was more than just a regular video, adding eight minutes of additional narrative to the song’s six-minute length. Thematically, “Thriller” was a G-rated creep show with a disco beat and which featured a vocal cameo by Hollywood horror legend Vincent Price.

The video was so popular that MTV was eventually airing the 14-minute video twice per hour. Jackson was hailed as a creative genius for his own remarkable dancing, as well as arranging the zombie choreography.

The video helped propel sales of the “Thriller” album to 110 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling album of all time. Never again would either Jackson or the music video be so big.

Artist: Nirvana
Song: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)

Grunge started here…with deliberately low production standards.

How It Changed Music Videos: As the 80s progressed, video production techniques improved. Inspired by the massive success of “Thriller,” the trend toward lavishly produced videos continued. But not every musical act wanted to create an ultra-slick music video. Enter Seattle’s Nirvana in the early 90s, with a Punk-like desire to avoid seeming to be “corporate.”

So when the first Grunge band of note got ready to produce a music video for the breakout hit from its powerhouse album Nevermind, it had definite ideas about what it wanted. For its director, the band selected first-timer Samuel Bayer…specifically because he didn’t have much experience. Kurt Cobain (accurately) assumed Bayer would be technically inept and the resulting footage would have a raw, undisciplined quality.

The song became a major Alternative anthem and the music video a smashing success. Nirvana won numerous MTV Music Awards in 1992 and the Guinness Book of Records considers the video the most played music video on MTV Europe. In 2001, VH1 named it the fourth-greatest music video of all time.

Artist: Beastie Boys
Song: “Sabotage” (1994)

“Sabotage,” a loud and abrasive triumph of threat-screaming rage, was paired with the hilarious visual concept of the opening credits of a (fake) 70s police show.

How It Changed Music Videos: Part cop-show homage, part rock/rap blaster, the Beastie Boys’ greatest video was 100 percent pure fun.

The Beastie Boys were always highly creative when it came to making music videos. But the group’s signature music-video moment was directed by genius director Spike Jonze, who took a one-chord shouter from the “Ill Communication” album and turned it into music-video gold.

An instant classic upon release, the “Sabotage” music video was nominated in five different categories at the 1994 MTV Music Awards, yet took home no awards. However, fifteen years later, when the new category of “Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)” was introduced, the very first recipient was “Sabotage.”

Artist: Johnny Cash
Song: “Hurt” (2003)

“Hurt” is a song about reaching conclusions and sifting through all of what has come before.

How It Changed Music Videos: Plenty of “serious” music videos have attempted to make a statement, but none more powerful than this stark goodbye from the Man in Black. Nobody expected the most powerful music video of its year to feature the great Johnny Cash, then working in his sixth decade as a recording artist. But then, nobody had expected Cash to make one of the biggest musical comebacks of all time during the 90s, suddenly becoming wildly popular with fans young enough to be his grandchildren.

For the music video, director Mark Romanek used extensive footage and photographs from throughout Cash’s life, which were contrasted with footage of the 71-year-old man. Cash was weak and facing a range of health problems at the time.

The combination of music and visual images made the “Hurt” video one of the most powerful music-video experiences ever. The video received the 2004 Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and was listed as CMT’s top video for 2003 as well as the Number One greatest country music video for the following year.

In July 2011 New Music Express named it the best video of all time. Sadly, Cash himself didn’t get to see the video’s massive success; the Man in Black passed away seven months after the video was produced.

Make Your Own Landmark Videos
Music videos represent a perfect intersection between two wonderful art forms – but bringing the two together requires talent to create a quality video. It takes training, too, and learning how to make a music video is the perfect place to start. If you want to learn music & video production you need hands-on training in digital audio, music and beat production, and filmmaking skills, too. Once you have a good grasp of those things, you can take your idea and turn it into an award-winning and groundbreaking music video.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Music Production,Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Official Trailer: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Barreling upward through floor after floor of Gotham’s blue/gray skyscrapers…the camera rises steadily, acting out the verb in the movie’s title. Then come the words, whispered with urgency. “If you make yourself more than just a man…if you devote yourself to an ideal…then you become something else entirely. A story…a legend.”


Christian Bale suits up for a third – and last – time as Batman, Gotham’s protector.

The rapid-fire action comes hard and heavy—with a caped crusader using superior fighting skills and hot-shot technology to wage a one-man war on crime. There are jaw-breaking brawls. Things are exploding. And we’re getting a better look at “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s wildly popular “Dark Knight” series, which releases everywhere on July 20th.

The Bankable Batman
As with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” the caped crusader will be played with total intensity by Christian Bale and his performance will be supported by Hollywood heavyweights like Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The last Batman movie created a full-blown international sensation. “The Dark Knight” (helped by its IMAX presentation) dominated the 2008 box office, earned more than $1 billion worldwide, and served up Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing. That film remains the eleventh highest-grossing movie of all time and features a performance for the ages—delivered by the late Heath Ledger (who won an Oscar posthumously for his performance). His turn as The Joker electrified theater audiences and redefined super-hero villains.


Brains and brawn, Bane (Tom Hardy) brings the pain mentally and physically. 

Bane vs. Batman
This time out, Batman faces the brutal arch criminal Bane, portrayed by actor Tom Hardy. To bulk up for the role, Hardy gained 30 pounds. “Bane, to me, is something we haven’t dealt with in the films,” commented director Nolan. “We wanted to do something very different in this film. He’s a primarily physical villain.”

The actor was even more specific about what Bane is capable of: “The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty,” said Hardy in a recent interview. “Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”

In one clip, Bane has beaten Bruce Wayne nearly to death, then taunts the caped crusader, “When Gotham is ashes…you have my permission to die.”


Anne Hathaway roars into “The Dark Knight Rises” as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman.

Trailer Frenzy
The Dark Knight Rises” had some big shoes to fill, but Warner Bros. responded by unlocking its war chest and giving Nolan a $250 million budget for the final installment. In May 2011, Warner Bros. launched the film’s official website and recently released the third trailer for the film.

Like “The Dark Knight” (not to mention Nolan’s “Inception”), the new official trailer for The Dark Knight Rises contains plenty of elaborate set pieces and mind-blowing effects:

Expectations are running high for the third Christopher Nolan Batman film. Will it surpass the whopping billion-dollar box office of “The Dark Knight”? Stay tuned to this Bat Channel…

The End of the Beginning?
One of the most intriguing aspects of Warner Bros.’ marketing of “The Dark Knight Rises” is the slogan on the film’s poster: “The Legend Ends.” Is this the end of Batman? Unlikely, a money-maker like Batman will be rebooted by another director in the years ahead.

Superheroes and movie franchises are constantly being reinvented for new generations of film audiences. Effectively taking beloved characters and relaunching them with today’s latest Hollywood visual effects requires lots of creative energy, as well as a solid education learning how to create special effects. Why not spend your summer at film camp and learn how you take million-dollar ideas and transform them into box-office blockbusters? Maybe in future years we might be lining up for your big Hollywood premiere.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

A Roundup of Reviews for “The Avengers”

“The Avengers” is officially the biggest comic book movie of all time. Name a box office record and the film has either broken it or is preparing to break it.


“The Avengers” is packed with action…and star power. The cast includes (from left): Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk).

But what are critics saying about the movie? We gathered comments from some of the nation’s top writers about film and here’s what they had to say about this summer’s mega-movie event…

Peter Travers, movie critic of “Rolling Stone,” had nothing but raves in his review:
“‘The Avengers’ has it all. And then some. Six superheroes for the price of one ticket: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. It’s also the blockbuster I saw in my head when I imagined a movie that brought together the idols of the Marvel world in one shiny, stupendously exciting package.”

Owen Gleiberman of “Entertainment Weekly” awarded the flick a B+ rating in his critique:
“In terms of storytelling, ‘The Avengers’ is for the most part a highly functional, banged-together vehicle that runs on synthetic franchise fuel. Yet the grand finale of CGI action, set in the streets of New York, is—in every sense—smashing. True, it wouldn’t be out of place in a Michael Bay movie, but no Transformer was ever as transfixing as this leaping, flying, pummeling superteam. It makes you eager to see what they’ll do next, now that they’ve defeated a threat even bigger than their egos.”

In her Avengers review, Associated Press critic Christy Lemire praised the movie, especially the script:
“Whedon has come up with a script that’s cheeky and breezy, full of witty banter and sly pop-culture shout-outs as well as self-referential humor, one that moves with an infectious energy that (almost) makes you lose track of its 2-1/2 hour running time.”

Richard Corliss, of “Time Magazine,” gave the film a generally positive review, due to its sheer entertainment power:
“Reworking Zak Penn’s original ‘Avengers’ script, Whedon sat on his usual impulse to go meta; instead he served as expert mixologist for this all-star cocktail party. The movie guarantees fast-paced fun without forcing anyone to think about what it all means…”


“Hulk smash box-office records!” Ruffalo digitally bulks up for his role as the Hulk.

In his movie review, Michael Phillips of the “Chicago Tribune” gave it 3 out of 4 stars and called it “143 minutes of stylish mayhem”:
“So is this Marvel Comics franchise alumni reunion a full-on Hulk smash? Financially, yes, most likely (‘The Avengers’ is already killing ‘em overseas.) If the film is more solid and satisfying than terrific, so be it. Cleverly, writer-director Joss Whedon combines and recombines its various intramural rivalries. If you were a fan of two or three or more of the movies directly feeding into this one, you’re already planning on seeing ‘The Avengers’.”

Even Roger Ebert, the dean of American film critics, found much to admire in the movie, rating it 3 out of 4 stars in his write-up about the super-hero movie:
“‘The Avengers’ is done well by Joss Whedon, with style and energy. It provides its fans with exactly what they desire.”

Build Your Own Blockbuster!
It looks like “The Avengers” is well on its way to winning a huge chunk of this summer’s box office. But what about next summer? Young people can start learning the movie industry this summer, thanks to digital filmmaking camps offered by Digital Media Academy, which are taught by seasoned Hollywood professionals using the latest, cutting-edge software. We’ll see you at the theaters this summer for “The Avengers.” And next year, who knows? Maybe we’ll be lining up to see your hit movie.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Hitchcock and PSYCHO: A Love Story

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s all-time master director of suspense, is set to return to the big screen in 2013. “Hitch,” as he was called, influenced both the horror genre and forever left his stamp on the craft of filmmaking. We take a sneak peek at the new biography and the film’s star.


A larger than life presence: the great director Alfred Hitchcock works his magic.

Bringing Hitchcock Back
In the new film “Hitchcock,” Anthony Hopkins (best known as Hannibal Lector and more recently as Thor’s father Odin), will star as Alfred Hitchcock with Helen Mirren portraying Hitchcock’s beloved wife Alma. The Fox Searchlight production will be directed by Sacha Gervasi and co-produced by Ivan Reitman, of “Ghostbusters” fame.

“Hitchcock” will concentrate on the lifelong love story between the famous director and his wife. The backdrop for the story: the 1960 production of Hitchcock’s brilliant terror masterpiece, “Psycho,” a film many critics still consider the greatest horror film ever made.

Shooting on “Hitchcock” began last week in Los Angeles, with the cast being rounded out by Scarlett Johansson (as actress Janet Leigh, who portrayed the ill-fated Marion Crane in “Psycho”), Jessica Biel (as actress Vera Miles, who also starred in the original film) and actor James D’Arcy (who will play Anthony Perkins, an actor who gained tremendous notoriety based on his performance as “Psycho”’s deranged Norman Bates).


Hitchcock on the set of “Psycho,” setting up the shower scene…


…And Sir Anthony Hopkins, in full makeup, displaying the famous director’s profile in the new film “Hitchcock.” 

Hitchcock’s challenges to get “Psycho” made are legendary in Hollywood circles: The master director eventually was forced to fund the entire $800,000 budget himself and save money by utilizing the shooting crew from his celebrated TV program. Once released, however, the film (which the studio didn’t want to make) caused an international sensation and earned its director and producer both financial success and and a reputation as filmdom’s Master of Suspense.

Based on Stephen Rebello’s outstanding book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” (which detailed Hitchcock’s struggles to get the project produced, despite a complete lack of interest in making the film by Universal Studios) “Hitchcock” could be an Oscar contender.


Ever the prankster, Hitchcock released this publicity shot of him sitting in the set chair of “Psycho”‘s very dead Mrs. Bates.

Meet the Masters in Film School 
Serious about becoming a filmmaker? Then learn how to make a movie this summer at film camp. Learn about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

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