Friday, November 20, 2009

'The Artist's Signature' - Pages & Art

The above image is my title plate/opening shot. And the one below is the beach of the imagination. I often find that my concept art enhances my writing, and vice versa. So I threw in a couple.

TAS Online 01                                                                                                                                                 

I have quite a bit more written than this, nearly two-hundred pages of script and around fifty pages of background and tech, not to mention dozens of pieces of concept art. I know two-hundred pages is a pretty long movie, but I tend to write every idea I have, then pare it down later into a useful form. I have a terrific ending that I hope won't leave a dry eye in the house. I just need to flesh out the middle a little more and I've got a movie.

I think a movie should be a unified whole, both verbally and visually. I've worked out the logistics of incorporating the pi message into the alien message, and into the basic design motif of the entire film. And I have surrendered to the notion that in a work of fiction it is perfectly proper to explore the idea of god. Just look at the bible.

My take on a film version of 'Contact' is that the 'download' should constitute the body of the movie. Start with Ellie on the beach, more or less, visualize her unwound memories, and then return to 'reality' about three-quarters the way in. This allows far more freedom than a straight linear telling. I can jump around in time the way a mind at rest naturally meanders from place to place. Of course whatever memories I touch upon must contribute to the larger story.

It occurs to me that Zemeckis may have been trying to do exactly this with the eye 'pull out' and 'push in' at the beginning and end of the '97 film. But subtlety is relative, and in this case was indistinguishable from background noise.

Anyway, I think this material deserves better.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Contact Apologetics: An Open Letter to Whom it May Concern

To mark the anniversary of Carl Sagan’s 75th birthday, the big man was remembered publicly by those many people who worked with him and knew him best. I especially appreciate the personal remembrances as I have been a great fan of Dr. Sagan’s since first seeing Cosmos in 1980.

But I am less appreciative of, and far more resentful and confused by the glowing references I heard regarding the movie Contact.

So I’d like to ask a few questions… 

Is there a cut of this film of which I am unaware?

I’m no slouch when it comes to movies. I love the smart ones. I even love some of the dumb ones. I am aware that film crews typically shoot more scenes than appear in the final release. And owing to the flexibility of the market, director/writer/extended version cuts are often available with the original artistic vision restored. This is especially true of films with a richness of content that exceed the imaginative limitations of a studio.

I’ve seen Contact a few dozen times now and I honestly don’t know what warrants such universal praise among Sagan devotees. Were we in different theaters, on different planets? Are they blind? Am I? 

It's been some time now and I have yet to see a re-edit, re-release, special edition, tenth anniversary, redeaux... something that would indicate this movie was anything but a lowest-bidder contract job. There are no deleted scenes, no penetrating commentary, and absolutely no one talks about it some ten years later. It is completely forgettable. No one bothers to deconstruct its hidden meaning, its symbolism, its camera-work, because there is nothing to deconstruct. No one cares because there is nothing to care about.

What Contact lacked in content it made up for in superficiality.

Are there other people out there in the universe down here on Earth? 

I was under the distinct impression from episode 13 of Cosmos that ‘We are one planet.' But the radio broadcasts in the opening scene of Contact are from almost exclusively American sources.

Well, are we one planet or not?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Carl Sagan Day!

Today marks the First Annual Carl Sagan Day... observed two days before what would have been his 75th birthday. Official observations will be held in Florida.

The novel CONTACT aside, COSMOS is to me the best of his public works. So nerd up, gather some friends, and watch your favorite episode to celebrate the life of this very important person.