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Scott Beck & Bryan Woods' weekly blog about movies, entertainment, and anything related to Bluebox Limited Films.

Bluebox Limited Films 2012: Year in Review


Friends, family, collaborators, and supporters...

We hope you've had a wonderful 2012. Breaking into the film industry is a long uphill battle and we feel very fortunate that 2012 was a breakthrough year for us at Bluebox Limited Films. Here are some highlights:

  • Herrick Entertainment In January, we sold our feature screenplay NIGHTLIGHT. This summer, we directed the film for Oscar-nominated producer Michael London and Herrick Entertainment. We were honored to bring several past collaborators onto the project including Producer Darren Brandl, DP Andrew M. Davis, Production Designer Christine Youngstrom and Casting Directors Sunny Boling and Meg Morman. The supernatural thriller was shot in Utah and is now in post-production. You can read the film's press release at Variety.com.

  • William Morris Endeavor In March, we signed with William Morris Endeavor for representation in feature film and television. We're estatic to be represented by the largest talent agency in the world which represents many of our cinematic heroes (such as Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan).

  • Directors Guild of America This summer we became newly-minted members of the Directors Guild of America. The guild enforces a strict "one director per film" rule and rarely recognizes directing teams unless they demonstrate a shared creative vision and working history. We are very grateful to have received their blessing to join the DGA as a duo.

  • In August, we were included on the list of "The Top 100 Writers on the Verge". The annual list, featured on The Tracking Board, is assembled by industry voters who shortlist up-and-coming screenwriters who are making their mark on Hollywood.

  • Vanaprasta - Self Indulgent Feeling We returned to our Iowa hometown to direct a music video for Vanaprasta's "Self Indulgent Feeling". The project was a return to our no-budget filmmaking roots with some of our local loyal collaborators (Shane Simmons, Michael Kennedy, Travis Shepherd, Justin Marxen, Ian Klink, Kurt Oberhaus). The 5-minute "mini-movie" is available on YouTube.

The success of 2012 would not have been possible without the incredible support from you -- our invaluable collaborators and generous supporters. We wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Best,

Scott Beck & Bryan Woods
Bluebox Limited Films



Watch an Old Man Dance: Music Video for Vanaprasta's "Self Indulgent Feeling"


Today we launch the music video we directed for Vanaprasta's "Self Indulgent Feeling". It was a return to our no-budget filmmaking roots, where we rounded up our gang of loyal collaborators and took to the streets and residences of Bettendorf, Iowa to knock this out. Hope you enjoy...

Last movie Scott watched: YOUNG ADULT (Jason Reitman)



Scott's 2011 Movies in Review


Scott's Top 10 Movies of 2011As I do each year in late December, I revisit the movies I've seen in the past twelve months. This was a year I was much looking forward to, as some of my favorite filmmakers returned to the screen including David Fincher, Cameron Crowe, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, and Terrence Malick. While I don't think any of these filmmakers topped their previous works (with the possible exception of Malick), it was still an enjoyable year.

While there are some 2011 releases I didn't see, I was still able to cobble together a top 10. In addition, I've added a few "award" categories that I felt compelled to share.

FAVORITE FILMS OF 2011:
10. The Muppets
9. Young Adult
8. Hugo
7. Hanna
6. Drive
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
4. Super 8
3. The Artist
2. The Tree of Life
1. The Descendants

FAVORITE FILMS I FINALLY WATCHED IN 2011:
Man Bites Dog (1992)
The Wages of Fear (1953)

FAVORITE MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCES:
Super 8, Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, CA
Harold & Maude (with Cameron Crowe and Peter Bart in-person), Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, CA

FAVORITE SOUNDTRACK:
Super 8

MOVIE THAT SURPRISED ME WITH HOW GOOD IT WAS:
Hanna

FAVORITE PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR:
I have to make a specific comment here, that 2011 was the year of incredible youth performances. I haven't cited the wonderful performances from Hugo or Super 8 below, but they should be noted as well.

Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Saoirse Ronan, Hanna
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Hunter McCracken, The Tree of Life

ALL THE 2011 RELEASES I SAW THIS YEAR (as well as special engagement screenings):
January: True Grit
February: The Fighter
April: Source Code, Insidious, African Cats, The Lost World: Jurassic Park
May: Hanna, Cave of Forgotten Dreams
June: Super 8, Harold & Maude, The Tree of Life, X-Men: First Class
July: The Wise Kids, Horrible Bosses, Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows: Part 2, Rango
August: Crazy, Stupid, Love.
September: Drive
October: Contagion, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Paranormal Activity 3
November: J. Edgar, The Muppets, The Descendants, Attack the Block, Limitless
December: Hugo, We Bought a Zoo, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (twice), Young Adult, The Adventures of Tintin, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Artist

Last movie Scott watched: THE ARTIST (Michel Hazanavicius)



A New Xbox 360 Spec Ad, Featuring the City We Love


Last month we premiered our spec commercial for Chevy Camaro, which called for us to race both a vintage Camaro and a brand-new Camaro RS across backcounty Iowa roads. Today, we premiere a new spec commercial that Bryan Woods & I directed that...well...was a little less exciting to produce (the shots are all CGI) -- but hopefully you enjoy the commercial just the same. It's one part love letter to Chicago, another part love letter to Xbox and the great Dance Central game.

Check out the commercial below.

Last movie Scott watched: YOUNG ADULT (Jason Reitman)



IMPULSE Launches as #1 Short Film on iTunes and Garners Acclaim


IMPULSE launches as #1 on iTunesLast month marked the iTunes release of IMPULSE, our short film which we chronicled the making of in this blog. We were blown away when -- during the film's first week of release -- it became the #1 most downloaded short film on iTunes. The news of IMPULSE's release quickly spread to JoBlo, Trailer Addict, Quiet Earth, and numerous social networking sites. Here's some of our favorite unfiltered viral highlights:

  • "It's worth more than $1.99 IMPULSE is F'ing AMAZING!!!" - @SaxtyBaxty on Twitter
  • "I downloaded. I watched. I laughed. I cried. It was an inspiration. But, seriously, excellent work. That was a packed 20min." - @ahbean on Twitter
  • "Great short, gripping, scary, left me wanting more." - MalcolmInTheMiddle.co.uk

IMPULSE also received a stellar review from Mike Schulz of the River Cities' Reader, who writes that IMPULSE is "an entertainment of surprising elegance and profundity" and "...if life ends while watching a work as sharply rendered and inspiring as Impulse, that might be all right with me." You can read the full review here: http://www.rcreader.com/movies/home-at-the-end-impulse/.

And this week, Film Threat gave IMPULSE a four star review, writing that it "lives in that upper echelon realm of films with a gorgeous look, sweet sound and slick editing" and "is a polished bit of filmmaking that hits its 'instability at world’s end' vibe perfectly". Check out the review here: http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/43545/.

We thank all of you for your downloads, tweets, reviews, and support for IMPULSE!




Last movie Scott watched: THE MUPPETS (James Bobin)



Our New Spec Commercial... Coming to You at 120 MPH


In the midst of working on SPREAD and our iTunes release of IMPULSE, Bryan & I took the time to direct a couple of spec commercials. First up is DEFINE AN ERA, an advertisement for Chevy Camaro and the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign. The commercial stars Brendan Dunphy and Shane Simmons, and was shot by Greg Frieden and our IMPULSE / SPREAD cinematographer Andrew M. Davis. Ron Reynolds also was a huge help in managing communication between the camera car and the 1969 Camaro.

Big thanks to Carl Stuber and Lujacks Northpark Auto Plaza for their cooperation with this production.

Let me tell you...opening up these cars on back-country Iowa roads was one of the most exhilarating opportunities we've had in filmmaking. Check out the commercial below.

Last movie Scott watched: TRON: LEGACY (Joseph Kosinski... also an Iowa guy!)



Halloween Movie Picks: Kristen Norwood & Ian Klink, IMPULSE actors


Pet Sematary, Salem's Lot, Child's PlayIn anticipation of Halloween (and in celebration of this week's iTunes release of IMPULSE), Bryan and I have asked our cast and crew to each compile a list of their three favorite scary movies. Our last entry in this blog series contains two sets of recommendations: first, IMPULSE actress Kristen Norwood shares her list...

1) PET SEMATARY: There is hardly anything scarier than Gage Creed after returning from the dead. That little face is so cute yet so terrifying! I always liked the plot in this movie -- a father desperate to bring back his son gets more than he bargained for. Stephen, you are a master.

2) SALEM'S LOT: Okay, another Stephen King. This one I know I would find cheesy and non-threatening if I watched now, but this was, I think, the first scary movie I ever saw as a child...and it was horrifying to me! One thing I always remembered as a kid, and told myself over and over again just in case: "They can't come in unless you invite them" - that was the rule for the vampires in this film and it always stuck with me. To this day, I have never invited a vampire in.

3) CHILD'S PLAY: Clearly, I went for not the highest quality movies for these last two, but this is one that definitely creeped me out and yet I watched dozens of times. Chucky is not only quite scary (demonized doll??!!), but also basically indestructible. You feel desperate to end it and the movie just keeps going, relentless. Add in a single mother just trying to do her best and you've got a classic 80's horror film.

And finally, IMPULSE actor Ian Klink shares his list...

Freaks, Creepshow, Frailty1) FREAKS: In 1932, after his success with Dracula, director Todd Browning delivered what many consider the greatest horror movie of all time, but not due to thrills and scares jumping from the screen, but because Browning released a film that many could consider a true documentary of the life in a circus, which audiences at the time could not handle. In a decision that frustrated Metro-Golden-Meyer, Browning cast real life circus performers, or ‘freaks’ as the times called them. What is fascinating is Browning’s turn of the title. In the film, two ‘normal’ people try to take advantage of the ‘freaks’, so what Browning illustrates throughout the film is the question of who are the real ‘freaks’ are in society. Only an hour long, the film plays like an episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ but delivers the shocks while at the same time making its audience think of our interactions in society.

2) CREEPSHOW: I know the standard for George A. Romero is to go for one of his zombie movies, but CREEPSHOW is one of those films where everything seemed to work. A great script from one of horror’s greatest writers, Stephen King, and directed by one of horror’s Masters, this collaboration is a film that was willing to take a chance and worked. Anthology films had been around since DEAD OF NIGHT in the 40’s, but these two took it to another level. I remember as a kid around this time of year I first saw CREEPSHOW on late night ABC early in the morning when I could not sleep. I am sure all of us have been there when we flip right into a film and find that we can’t leave it. I can remember not wanting to go to the bathroom, as I knew walking down the hall, the monster from the Crate was going to get me. All around fun film with great graphics and one of the best, if the not the best “Comic Book Films” I have ever seen.

3) FRAILTY: I have always considered Bill Paxton to be one of the most underrated, under-appreciated actors out there, but I also feel he is an under-appreciated director as well. Many filmmakers would agree what we see in reality is more disturbing then what we create in film, but to face reality in film can cause us to squirm, not just from what we see might be scaring us, but because the filmmakers are taking advantage of our escapism from ‘real life’. Although I will always prefer a ‘monster in a suit’ film, I look at Kubrick’s THE SHINING of how reality can scare us more. In this film, Jack Nicholson scared me just from talking, and I feel Paxton channeled the same school of thought with this film. The story is simple, as a man (Paxton) believes he gets a call from God to kill Demons, whom he sees as normal people in the street, and so with his two small children, he brings his ‘divine’ justice to them. What is not so simple is the psychological questioning you find yourself going through watching the horrible things this man does. Is he really doing what the lord wants him to do, or is he insane? I am not sure why Paxton has not directed another horror film, but if he does, I will be there opening day.



Halloween Movie Picks: Scott Morschhauser, IMPULSE Actor


The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Night of the Living Dead, Carnival of SoulsIn anticipation of Halloween (and in celebration of this week's iTunes release of IMPULSE), Bryan and I have asked our cast and crew to each compile a list of their three favorite scary movies. Look for regular updates from the rest of the team over the next couple days. Next up, IMPULSE actor (and THE BRIDE WORE BLOOD composer) Scott Morschhauser shares his list...

1) THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES: The folks who brought you the 1960’s TV show THE AVENGERS dish out this delicious treat that is everything a horror movie should be. Campy at times yet strangely terrifying, Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes plots and executes the medical staff he holds responsible for his wife’s death on the operating table. Phibes uses the Ten Plagues of Egypt as the menu for his fiendish plot making this my favorite Passover film as well… take that Cecil B. DeMille. This film is beautiful to look at and Basil Kirchin’s score is magnificent.

2) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968): One of the first horror films that I remember that broke the Hollywood mold and pulled no punches. The characters are terrified yet have no idea what is going on. You can feel their helplessness and claustrophobia. I saw this 2nd run at a drive-in and, living in the same area as the film’s location, was so terrified I started smoking… I was 7… took me 20 more years to kick that habit. The film still scares me.

3) CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962): The first film to give me the panicky feeling of “what the hell is going on?” Like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, this low budget 1962 black and white Herk Harvey masterpiece does not follow known formulas. We as viewers experience the terror along with protagonist Candace Hilligoss’ character as she tries to make sense of the increasingly creepy world around her following a traumatic car accident where she is the lone survivor. Gene Moore’s score is brilliant.



Halloween Movie Picks: James Serpento, IMPULSE Actor


Frankenstein, Halloween, The ExorcistIn anticipation of Halloween (as well as our upcoming iTunes release of IMPULSE), Bryan and I have asked our cast and crew to each compile a list of their three favorite scary movies. Look for regular updates from the rest of the team over the next week. Next up, IMPULSE actor James Serpento shares his list...

1) FRANKENSTEIN (1931): God, I loved the Universal horror films. When I was very small, public television once ran an entire festival of them around Halloween time and if movies themselves could make you fat, I'd have been a demented little butterball. I don't think my mother ever forgave herself for letting me stay up late for these things. Now, well. . .many of these old pictures just seem sort of quaint and silly. But not this one. It's still as unsettling as it ever was. Karloff's stiff-legged, backward entrance into his first scene is still the goose-bumpliest reveal one is likely to see and a poignant, sad-funny foreshadowing of the Creature's ultimate plunge into terror (his own, and others'). Brilliant.

2) HALLOWEEN (1978): The buzz around this picture was immediate and relentless. It's the first time I remember hearing the phrase "instant classic," and it was said to me by this chick who was really, really smart and whom I desperately wanted to bed. (That, by way of incidental nutshell, was how I spent the 1980s.) The buzz was justified: the picture was, to those of us nowhere near being brought up on gore-fests,stomach-churningly suspenseful and - surprise - still manages to be so, with almost no blood visible onscreen. Yes, we shrug and move on to Rob Zombie now, but it's sometimes nice to re-experience how it all got started.

3) THE EXORCIST: For a Catholic boy who didn't have the sense to leave the faith soon enough, this picture inspired a whole bunch of sleepless nights. Every frame is soaked with Friedkin's magnificent obsession. Every performance is perfect. Effects that would now be considered primitive still rattle us to the bone. Two films vie for personal "all-time great shocker" in my mind: JAWS (for the depth-charge of its storytelling) and this one. And if we're just talking balls-out scary, well, there's no contest. Nothing comes close to beating this one. This is the finest, creepiest, most scarifying film on planet Earth. Yeah, I may have walked around parking lot puddles after seeing JAWS when I was a kid. But lapsed Catholic or no, every time I watch this picture, I still grab a furtive sign of the cross afterward. I mean, there are some chances you just don't fuckin' take.



Halloween Movie Picks: Travis Shepherd, IMPULSE Location Manager


Night of the Living Dead, House on Haunted Hill, The House of the DevilIn anticipation of Halloween (as well as our upcoming iTunes release of IMPULSE), Bryan and I have asked our cast and crew to each compile a list of their three favorite scary movies. Look for regular updates from the rest of the team over the next couple weeks. Next up, IMPULSE Location Manager Travis Shepherd shares his list...

TRAVIS' PREFACE: I think it's a given that the first HALLOWEEN (and in my opinion, the sequel) should be on the list, so I'll give that space to someone else (and no, not the recent versions which I like to pretend don't exist).

1) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990): The original is amazing but this remake has something most other remakes don't have: Most of the original team. George Romero is known for his social commentary and decided to go back and try it again with the latest special effects courtesy of Tom Savini (who also directed it). Candyman himself (Tony Todd) matches Duane Jones's intensity as the movie follows most of the same story until the end. If it weren't for the zombies, this could pass for a warped adaptation of 12 ANGRY MEN. The bitter irony of the original goes a huge leap further and leaves us unsettled and speechless.

2) HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999): Uh oh, I think I just lost credibility to a lot of you. By all means, stop reading this and go watch Saw Part 12, but if you like your movies dark with a bit of that William Castle campiness and some wicked performances, give this a try. It's far from perfect, but the scenes that are perfect more than make up for it. It's got suspense, humor, and some gore, but the one thing most other movies don't come close to touching: ambiance. William Malone spent most of his career as a Director of Photography. Now you can see what a DP does as the captain of the ship. You never know what is lurking behind that old dusty gurney.

3) THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009): Though the movie is set in the 1980s and feels like it was filmed in the 1980s, it was actually made only a few years ago. This film is like one of those lost classics you used to find in some corner of a video store and wonder why nobody has ever heard of it. It is made with the purist of intentions, ya know, back when "filmmakers" didn't try to out-gross one another. There are so many tense moments you have to wonder if Hitchcock's ghost was an advisor on it. The typical "babysitter is home alone" story is taken to a frightening new level.



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