DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Bates Motel: The Original Psycho is Back

The Slasher horror-movie genre started with him—at the exact moment he yanked back that famous shower curtain. He is one of a handful of characters that forever changed film audiences’ expectations. He is Norman Bates and during the 53 years since he first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s shock-thriller masterpiece, Psycho, film audiences still can’t get him off of our minds.
Norman-Bates-2013
A new Norman for a new age: Freddie Highmore shines as a young Norman Bates in A&E’s Bates Motel.

“How well we remember Norman Bates,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert. “Tens of thousands of movie characters have come and gone…and yet he still remains so vivid in the memory, such a sharp image among all the others that have gone out of focus.”

And now Norman’s back, in a wildly imaginative franchise reboot of sorts called Bates Motel.

Back to Before the Beginning
The new A&E series is earning rave reviews for giving us the Norman Bates story from a different vantage point—of teenage Norman before he grows up to be…well, different. In another smart move, the show is set in the present—which somehow gives the series more teeth than if it had been set in the 1950s.

Although only a few episodes of the show have aired, there’s already a buzz surrounding the show. In Bates Motel, high-schooler Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), buy a rundown roadside motel in a scenic yet odd town on the Pacific coast. (The series is one of many shows filmed in British Columbia these days.)
Norma-Bates
“A boy’s mother is his best friend.” Vera Farmiga kills as Norma Bates, the “Mother” we only thought we knew.

While Norman and “Mother” have been trying to repair and renovate the motel, some local town folk haven’t been very welcoming—which resulted in the show’s first killing. Now new characters are being introduced, like a potential girlfriend for Norman (not to mention a long-lost stepbrother). And then there’s that pesky local sheriff, who just can’t stop noseying around the motel…and meddling in the Bates family’s activities.

A&E’s Bates Motel is just getting cranked up, but it’s already showing signs of starting to attract a growing fan base like AMC’s The Walking Dead before it. We’re already hooked.

Cutting Remarks
Norman Bates, originally played with nervous precision by Anthony Perkins, took filmgoers by surprise when Hitchcock’s Psycho stormed into theaters. Film audiences weren’t used to villains who seemed like genuinely nice people—that is, until their murderous psychology compelled them to kill again. Prior to Psycho, screen villains acted villainous most of the time.
Norman-Bates-1960-skull-image
Tony Perkins as mad, bad Norman Bates. Notice the image of teeth superimposed on Norman’s mouth, which is the beginning of a skull image that Hitchcock will place over Norman’s face, in a creepy final touch.

Some stray trivia you may not know about Norman Bates:

• When Perkins took the role that would make him globally famous, director Hitchcock refused to instruct the young actor in how exactly to play the part. “Hitch” left it to Perkins to develop the character himself, which he did to perfection. Prime example: Norman’s nervous munching of candy corn.
• There was a real person that inspired Robert Bloch to write his suspense thriller, Psycho. The killer was named Ed Gein, and he served as the prototype for Norman Bates and Dr. Hannibal Lector (from The Silence of the Lambs). However, his actual crimes were far too shocking to portray in movies, although at least two later films were directly based on Gein’s life.
• There have been five “Psycho” films, including the original classic. One of the more interesting sequels was Psycho 3, which was directed by Perkins himself.
• The original outdoor facades for the Bates house and the Bates Motel were originally constructed on a back lot at Universal Studios, in a money-saving move. Now, more than 50 years later, the famous film location is still preserved as a favorite part of the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour.

Lights, Camera…Suspense!
Hitchcock’s Psycho was a daring work of modern art that broke rules and took chances—and resulted in an artistic triumph and commercial smash. Hitchcock shot the film with the production crew from his television show, and ran the entire budget on a shoestring. His creative ingenuity paid off in huge dividends on the screen and at the box office.
Bates-Motel-sign-2
The next generation of filmmakers are already planning their own masterpieces and developing their personal dreams of working within the exciting world of film. To help those dreams come true, kids and teens will receive expert instruction in digital filmmaking at Digital Media Academy tech camps across North America.

DMA offers a variety of filmmaking courses, each geared to a different age level and expertise. Students in DMA’s Digital Filmmaking for Teens – Beginner camp, for example, will be exposed to each part of the film production process, from shaping a script to directing a shoot to editing the final product. They’ll be taught by industry professionals who know film from the inside out, and that instruction will be powered by today’s leading film-production software, such as Final Cut Pro®.

The next Hitchcock could be studying film at DMA this summer. In fact, the next Hitchcock could be…you! Now how’s that for a shocking twist? Hitch would be proud…

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,Featured and have No Comments

Coppola’s Twixt: Using Technology to Re-invent the Movies

He’s acknowledged as one of the greatest directors in film history, and now he’s back with a wild new movie. Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) has always been a bold filmmaker. His latest film proves once again that he’s not afraid to take chances: Twixt is a 3D movie, with a twist.


Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola made the 1972 classic,  The Godfather.

Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman Forever, The Doors) plays Hall Baltimore, a down-on-his-luck horror novelist, who specializes in books about witches. Baltimore is touring the West Coast on a self-managed low-budget book tour. When he stops in the small Northern California town of Swann Valley, he realizes he’s wandered into a twilight zone that’s populated by odd happenings, menacing Goth teenagers and other strange characters. He becomes haunted by the ghost of a young girl (played by Elle Fanning, from Super 8).


The ghost of V haunts Hall Baltimore.

Dynamic Cinema
Coppola previewed Twixt at Comic-Con 2011, where he gave out Edgar Allan Poe Masks (with 3D glasses inserted in the eyes) to convention attendees. The preview was one of the highlights of Comic-Con.

Coppola teased the film as a “dynamic cinematic experience.” Basically, his vision is that depending on where and when you see the film, the version of the story you see could be completely different than someone else’s. It’s an interesting take, but one made possible with technological advances, “How dare anyone think all (cinema) has got up its sleeve is 3D. Of course we’re going to see wonderful innovations,” Coppola remarked.

The director went on to demonstrate how scenes might be “remixed,” as Coppola created a couple of different versions of the trailer. The crowd watched as Coppola used an iPad to edit on the fly. Basically what he envisions – to some extent – is what the final film presentation might offer.


The trailer for Twixt is remixed for the audience at Comic-Con.

Poe Show
Cranking the weird meter to eleven is a surprise “cameo” by no less than the godfather of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe died young and mysteriously in 1849, but only after defining American horror with stories and poems like “The Raven” (which dealt with insanity), “The Cask of Amontillado” (where a character is buried alive) and “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” (which includes cannibalism among its many horrors). Given the overwhelming weirdness of Swann Valley, Poe, it seems, finds himself right at home.


Strange encounters are the hallmark of Twixt, including this one with long-dead, horror icon Edgar Allan Poe.

Twixt had its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the famous director talked about the movie’s origins during a Q&A session with festival attendees. Coppola got the idea while visiting Istanbul and after a night of drinking a potent Turkish liquor. The film’s concept came to him in a dream. Upon waking the next morning, Coppola immediately preserved his thoughts by using his iPhone to capture the idea.

Because of his legacy, anticipation greets every new Coppola film. And even though he’s made horror films before (most notably, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula), this is Francis Ford Coppola’s first film to use 3D. (However, the 3D effect is only used in two scenes, and the film signals the audience members about when to put on their 3D glasses.) No release date has been set for Twixt just yet; Coppola is still shopping the movie around and trying to find a distributor.


Coppola, Kilmer and…Edgar Allan Poe (played by Ben Chaplin) on the set of Twixt.

In the Final Cut
It’s no surprise Coppola used an iPhone and iPad to preview his latest creation at Comic-Con. In addition to making some of the cinema’s most important and beloved movies, Francis Ford Coppola has always been a technical innovator. Like many of today’s most celebrated filmmakers, Coppola has been using Final Cut Pro to edit movies for years. Twixt showcases the director’s vision in a way that pushes the cinematic experience to new heights, and we can’t wait to see the results.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments