Terminal updates

July 24th, 2012

Some news about Terminal, our postproduction and color correction company in Mexico City. We now have a website, and it’s not even completely empty.

Also, we have a Terminal Twitter account you can follow.


Algunas noticias sobre Terminal, nuestra empresa de postproducción y corrección de color en México, DF. Ya tenemos sitio web, que ni siquiera está completamente vacío.

También tenemos una cuenta de Twitter de Terminal que puedes seguir.

Quick note

March 10th, 2009

Falling over and twisting your ankle during filming in arduous terrain and under extreme conditions: Probably seen as good for the production, self-sacrificing and/or brave.

Falling over and twisting your ankle while drunk at the weekly crew party, not too many meters from your bedroom door: Makes you target of light ridicule and ribbing from fellow crew members.

Sonora

March 6th, 2009

This is the first day of my production diary for “Rio de oro”. I’ll try to get these posted as often as I can, although internet access is spotty and slow. This is really from March 3rd.

Up dead early, not much sleep, off to the airport for the 6:30 flight to Hermosillo, Sonora. The flight was unevenful, and when I got there, my instructions were to take a taxi to an address in “Cananea”. Not knowing better, I thought this sounded like a 10-15 minute cab ride, but no such luck, Cananea is actually a completely different town, several hours away, so I found a taxi that’s willing to take me, and off I went.

The taxi driver’s named Abundio, and repeatedly asks if I have an iPod or something, because all that’s on the radio is banda and norteña music, which he hates, unlike everyone else in the state. Finally, he fishes out a CD case from the glove box, and we listen to reggaeton and Mexican hip-hop while we drive.

The road is straight and boring, cutting through a slightly hilly desert landscape devoid of anything of particular interest, except for the occasional field of cactus, and some oddly out of place signs. There’s a McDonald’s one, not an ad sign, but the sort of small logo sign you’d expect to see by the entrance to a drive-in McDonald’s. It’s worn and faded, and there’s nothing else around for several kilometers in each direction. The same thing happens again ten minutes later, with a restaurant sign on a high pole, in the middle of nowhere. I consider the possibility of there having been buildings there in the past, but if so, they’re so thoroughly razed that nothing remains, not even a different colored patch on the ground.

That everyone in Northern Mexico drives a pickup truck is something of a cliché, but it would seem it’s also true. I see more pickup trucks, mostly of the moderately large to ridiculously huge variety, on the road than any other kind of vehicle.

I nod off several times, and when we arrive in Cananea after some three and a half hours of driving, it too seems empty and worn out. I go into a supermarket looking for a bathroom, and the shelves are half empty, the produce department sparsely populated only with some dejected looking week-old cabbage. The upper floor of the building holds the office where I’m supposed to meet up with whoever’s taking me to location, and when I get there, the office, that of an accountant, turns out to be the only non-vacant one on that floor, the rest of it empty, just glass doors with old logo stickers on them. I’m later told Cananea is mostly a mining town, and it’s in the middle of a strike that’s lasted more than a year and half now.

I meet up with the driver, and we go off in a truck, first along bits of paved road that gradually becomes more dilapidated, then the asphalt stops, we go along a dirt road that several times dips down to cross dry riverbed. The signs along the road imply that the river flows over the road when it rains, but the landscape shows little sign of that happening lately.

Finally, we arrive at the ranch that’s the production’s home base. It’s actually very nice, something between a hotel and a ranch. I’m told the Reagans stayed here several times, something I chalk up to exaggeration or rumor until, in the living room, I notice a framed photo of Nancy Reagan sitting on the lap of a Mexican cowboy, the ranch in the background. Both are smiling widely. The photo has a cheap plastic label stuck on it, which says, in Spanish, “Sitting in her favorite chair”. I wonder if Ronnie knew.

We leave in the afternoon for a location shoot in the hills, taking off in a couple of pickup trucks and a jeep. The jeep promptly gets a flat tire, runs the tire off the rim, and has to be abandoned. We reorganize people into the remaining trucks and go on.

We’re going to a nature reserve, looking to film some deer. We have some guys out on horses moving them in the right direction, and we’re going to film them as they go by. This turns out to be somewhat more difficult than it sounds, with much moving about and driving trucks up ridges that frankly seem unfit as roads resulting. Finally, just as we’re starting to lose the light, it works, and we get a herd of deer galloping past us at no more than 20-30 meters distance, over the ridge we’re on, and down on the other side. The director is somewhat disappointed there were no male animals in the herd, but otherwise, it seems to have been a success. We set off back to the ranch, chewing on the dust of the truck in front of us all the way.

I enter a coma some time around 9 at night, having slept almost nothing, and having to get up at 5:30 the next morning.

Off to the desert

March 2nd, 2009

I’ve been stupidly busy at work lately, and it’s going very well. In a few hours, I’m off to the Sonoran Desert to do supervision and data management on “River of Gold“, a Western movie being shot on the Red One. This is our second Red One project in a few weeks, the previous one was an 11-camera megaproduction, the filming of Vicente Fernandez’ concert in the Zocalo on Valentine’s Day.

I’ll be mostly offline while in the desert, but will take pictures and notes. Expect updates when I get back. I’m a city dweller, so wish me luck.

All Nightmare Long

January 26th, 2009

This isn’t exactly new, but the music video for “All Nightmare Long” off of Metallica’s new album is a very cool piece of short horror filmmaking. Shame about the “chemtrails” conspiracy bullshit at the end, but up until then, it’s very cool.

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Street musicians

January 26th, 2009

These guys rock the fuck out with some sort of French accordion music mixed with some Slavic influences and who knows what else. I’ve seen them in the Condesa neighbourhood two weekends in a row now, I’m not sure what they’re called, but they’re music students. If you see them, give them some change. The emo-goth accordion player in particular delivers the goods.

Update: Fénix tells me they’re called “La hora de la hora“, which sounds about right.

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Parque Vía trailer

January 8th, 2009

The trailer for Parque Vía is on YouTube:

Let the Right One In (aka. Låt den rätte komma in), (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

December 5th, 2008

Let the Right One In is a very strange little movie. On one hand, it’s a not too unusual vampire narrative (newcomer arrives in a small town, is only seen at night, people start dying, strange habits, suspicion, innocent is bitten and turns into vampire, friend of the bitten sets out to kill the vampire, confrontation), but that’s not what this movie is really about.

Oskar is 12 years old, his parents are divorced, and he’s bullied at school. He lives in the sort of snow-clogged Scandinavian suburb of brutalist brick buildings and nowhere to go that I remember from growing up in Norway a few years later, and dreams of violent revenge on his tormentors. It’s while he’s stabbing a courtyard tree with a knife, pretending it’s one of the bullies, that Eli shows up, a girl who looks to be about his age. She’s just moved in to the apartment next to his with a man who might be her father, and there’s something strange about her. For instance, she perches in high places and jumps down effortlessly, she can’t feel cold (she says she must have forgotten how to), and she tells him without prompting that she can’t be his friend.

Of course, they become friends, and then boyfriend and girlfriend, as it becomes more and more obvious that Eli isn’t a little girl at all, although, as she says, she is 12 years old, she’s just been 12 years old for a long time. Håkan, the man Eli lives with, is her companion of sorts, and tries to procure blood for her to drink, but he’s a bungling killer, and Eli needs to take things into her own hands.

It’s a very original story, or at least a very original mixing of several familiar and very different stories, and it works surprisingly well, the low-key coming of age love story punctuated by a few bursts of sometimes extreme and shocking violence, and the supernatural elements handled matter-of-factly.

Visually, it’s also well made, although the cinematography is not spectacular, there are plenty of visual details to take note of. The whole thing is largely shot with extremely shallow depth of field, at times it’s extreme enough that Eli’s huge eyes are in focus while everything below the middle of her nose is a blur. Shallow depth of field seems to be a trend in horror movies, possibly coming out of Japan, where bokeh has long been a place to hide the horrors, complimenting the more traditional darkness of American and European horror. Eli’s particularly often treated to being partially out of focus, as well as behind panes of uneven or frosted glass, underlining the insecurity about her slippery true identity.

There’s a lot to be analyzed in this movie, and it deserves it, but more than anything it’s a very well-made and engaging film. Personally, I can identify very strongly with Oskar, and I think most everyone who grew up in the 80s, especially in Scandinavia, at least knew someone like him. In general, the characters are strong and recognizable, from the benign dead-end neighbourhood drunks to the well-meaning teachers and detached parents. I’ve been there, or somewhere very much like it, and I only wish I had found a vampire girlfriend willing to kill for me.

Mirrors (Alexandre Aja, 2008)

December 5th, 2008

I had fairly high hopes for Mirrors, a semi-remake of a Korean horror movie I haven’t seen, but which seems to not be that amazing. The concept of evil manifesting in mirrors is old and wide-spread in folklore, and it seems it would be fairly easy to do something low-key, creepy, and very effective with it.

I still think that’s the case, but this movie isn’t that. It starts out pretty ok, with a kaleidoscope mirror version of New York buildings, which turns them into chasms and claustrophobic boxes, with no apparent escape route. Kiefer Sutherland is an alcoholic ex-cop looking for work as a security guard, and he starts working the night shift at a burned-out old department store, where the mirrors are inexplicably clean and shiny, despite everything else beeting full of soot and suitably grungy.

There’s evil in the mirrors, of course, and although a few of the early ideas are good (there’s a handprint on the mirror, but it turns out to be on the inside, and be one of many, some of which are far up away from the floor), it soon turns to some standard-issue tortured ghosts stuff. There’s a wasted opportunity when Kiefer Sutherland looks at his face in the mirror and it goes weird and distorted, which could have been creepy (like the bathroom mirror sequence that’s only talked about, but still manages to be very scary, in The Mothman Prophecies), but just looks like a bad digital warp effect.

And then it goes downhill, because since Kiefer’s an ex-cop, he needs to investigate. And when people in mediocre horror movies start investigating, the movie is obligated to come up with explanations, and they are invariably too specific, too facile, and too obvious, and everything’s ruined. This time, it has to do with a nun who might have been schizophrenic, but maybe not, and some sort of psychiatric treatment (the place used to be a hospital, dontcha know), and then Kiefer needs to hold an elderly nun at gunpoint and then everything explodes.

And then, at the end, the movie blatantly rips off the ending of Silent Hill, which was a deeply flawed film, but still superior to this one in almost every way.

I still think there’s a good mirror horror movie to be made. But sadly, Mirrors has probably made that impossible for a few years. A wasted opportunity, especially for Aja, who had shown great promise with the The Hills Have Eyes remake a couple of years ago.

Parque vía wins in Nantes

December 4th, 2008

Parque vía apparently won the main prize at the 3 continents festival in Nantes, France, the Golden Montgolfière. That’s a pretty big deal, congratulations to everyone as usual. What’s even better is that Beto, the non-professional actor who plays the main role (also named Beto, and based on him), won the best actor award.