Light and Trees

Light and Trees

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NAPTE; The Business of Selling Television.

If you're a "big shot" television executive, or even a "little shot" television executive planning to make your mark in the world, you are probably deciding which fedora you are going to wear at the 2011 NAPTE conference and exhibition in January... The exact dates are January 24-26, and the location is Miami... NAPTE stands for the National Association of Television Program Executives, and the big event attracts over 5000 affluent media professional that shape pop culture and have major professional and personal buying power.

The annual Conference & Exhibition is the only American television program market serving the worldwide television community. The three-day market and conference is a key media event if you buy, sell, develop, finance, advertise, market or license content; implement technology; exploit rights; or leverage media assets... the annual Conference & Exhibition will probably determine what you will be seeing on television and perhaps the internet, for years to come. As the momentum steadily builds, along comes the buzz. Rick Feldman, President/CEO of NAPTE and Kevin Beggs, NAPTE Chairman (and LIONSGATE President -Programming/Production), have announced;

"...pacing is far ahead of last year's conference."

Big Wigs from more than 40+ countries are registered to attend... Motivated by two major factors. One, the thrill of gambling on something exciting and new, and two, the fear of missing out on the next "best thing". In previous years the annual NAPTE conference took place in Las Vegas, just a hop skip and a jump away from Hollywood.
Rick Feldman mentioned that while Las Vegas had been a good venue for NAPTE in the past, representatives from European companies are in particular happier NAPTE has moved to a more logistically and geographically better environment.

Visit the NAPTE website to view the schedule and list of confirmed event speakers.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Walking Dead has been rated the number one series in basic cable history. “Just don’t get any on your skin or on your eyes…”

If you didn’t know that you could hack apart a human corpse and smear the rotten chunks of flesh and rancid blood all over your clothing to avoid zombie detection, then you haven’t watched THE WALKING DEAD.

THE WALKING DEAD has been rated the number one series in basic cable history with a season average of 3.5 million viewers.

The reported viewer demographic is 18-49… Perhaps if they counted the fragile minds of the younger viewers who undoubtedly have sneaked a peek at the bloody mayhem flowing freely on AMC the numbers might be higher. After all, the show is based on a black-and-white American comic book series of the same name published by Image Comics back in 2003.

I had a chance to see part of the debut episode on Halloween. The story chronicles the hardship of a group of people trying to survive in a world stricken by a zombie apocalypse. The first episode offered a brutal opening scene in which the main character of the show (played by Andrew Lincoln) blows the head off of a 12 year old blond girl when he realizes she is a zombie, then employed nonlinear flashbacks to introduce a couple of additional characters and enough back-story to peak viewer curiosity. I won’t give anything away here… (oxymoron) I mean, what’s there to give away? It’s a zombie show, us against them... nothing new, yet still compelling and more interesting to watch than many of the other shows out there. In any case, I’m sure youngsters across the nation are talking about it - finally something worth paying attention to on basic cable.

Speaking of zombies... thought you might like this to go with it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dexter: Season Six on The Horizon!

The serial killer people hate to love will be back for another season of bloody murder.

Showtime is renewing Dexter for a sixth season on the eve of the fifth season's finale airing this Sunday at 9p. Production on the sixth season will begin next spring in Los Angeles.

Michael C. Hall, the actor who took home the Golden Globe Award in the category Best Actor in a Television Drama Series for playing Dexter in 2010, will return to satisfy the vicarious fantasies of his bloodthirsty fans. According to the Los Angeles Times, almost 3 million viewers watch Dexter habitually.

Reportedly, Dexter has killed roughly 70 people. Inner dialogue during the first episode of Season 5 confirmed Dexter's kill count to be 67 proper victims who "deserved" to die.

As serial killers go, Dexter’s kill count places him somewhere between Yang Xinhai AKA “The Monster” who killed 65 people in four Chinese provinces, and Donald Henry Gaskins, the child-murderer from South Carolina. Of course, there is a critical factor that separates real-life serial killers from Dexter Morgan… Dexter’s victims are serial killers.

Any forecasts on the kill count after season six?

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Twisted Horror Film In The Making... THE FUNNY MAN

"The Funny Man is coming..."

Sometimes what you do not see is scarier than what you do see. Those moments when you know something is coming, but you are powerless to do anything about it... Funny Man will employ that kind of tension, and use it like a meat grinder on your nerves. 

My name is Jake Barsha, and I'm making a horror movie... a particularly dark and twisted horror movie.

It's about an attractive young woman named RACHEL who offers a struggling bipolar comedian named LEE HAYES a ride home. Unfortunately, her simple act of kindness is rewarded with more than just a few harmless jokes.

Before the evening ends, RACHEL finds out that LEE has a “twin brother” named MILES, a psychotic and extremely dangerous man who derives pleasure from wearing a creepy sponge-like mask, brutalizing and video-taping his victims.

When RACHEL becomes the latest victim LEE decides to betray his brother in order to help her, but the situation become very unsettling when RACHEL is confronted with the disturbing possibility that MILES and LEE could be the same person.

A couple of years ago I wrote and directed an independent movie that premiered at The Palm Springs International Film Festival and then played several other independent festivals (Strasbourg France and Germany, and SF IndieFest). It was an unusual art house thriller, too horrific to be considered drama, yet too far away from the conventional path to be considered horror. This time there will be no confusion. This project is going all the way. The Funny Man is coming!

If you have a moment, please check out The Funny Man page on Facebook!

I created the page on Facebook to connect with horror film lovers, independent film supporters and enthusiasts who enjoy watching movies with unconventional characters, psychological thrills and twisted elements. I'll be posting updates along the way as the project goes from script to screen, you can also visit the Right Hook Films website for additional info (just click on the picture).

Thanks for supporting The Funny Man!

-Jake Barsha

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Clint Eastwood

I’ve heard rumors that a Clint Eastwood movie set works like clockwork. The days rarely run into overtime, the set-ups are painless, and the climate is harmonious. I’ve heard that the miserable contention and bombastic complaining fueled by over exhaustion common on film sets are seldom experienced by the cast and crew of an Eastwood movie.

I’ve also heard that he breezes through his shot lists with a consummate confidence that only comes from experience… As a crew member myself (IATSE local 600), I’ve wished on more than one occasion for the chance to work on an Eastwood movie. I am certain that the education would be invaluable.

Clint Eastwood once said, “When it stops being fun, I will stop making movies”… I hope that day never comes!

Jean-Luc Godard

Arguably one of the most influential filmmakers in cinematic history Jean-Luc Godard will be 80 years old before the end of this year. Multitudes of aspiring film makers, and endless film school graduates revere Godard as a living legend. They’ve studied his technique and style, the phenomena of realism, the charge of “the jump cut”. Still many of them have no idea what he has been doing in recent years.

His latest movie “Film Socialism”, is currently screening at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. If I were ever to permit an old geezer to slap me across the face it would be Godard… In many ways, he has already profoundly done so with his films.

Martin Scorsese

Many people have mixed feelings about the films of Martin Scorsese. Personally, I love them. The journey ventured by the characters in his movies is often extreme, but there is always a pay off. As well, the emphatic exploitation of music synchronized with dramatically charged situations in his films is incredibly visceral. Isn’t that what Eisenstein was jabbering about?

Martin Scorsese struggled, and persevered early on despite “critical failure”. That is an inspiring feat in and of itself. I’m talking about the days before “Mean Streets” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More”… even before “Boxcar Bertha” the exploitation movie he directed for Roger Corman. If he had thrown in the towel like many young film makers do, we never could ask ourselves the age old question... “Are you talking to me?”

Jim Sheridan

If I could spend an afternoon at a coffee shop asking questions of Jim regarding actor’s performances and measures to achieve tremendous scenes I would feel invincible. Jim Sheridan’s grasp of constructing meaningful dramatic scenes that resonate and drive a movie forward is mind blowing… Okay, maybe not mind blowing. How about, inspiring? His appreciation for, and acquiescence of the “human experience”, is reflected forcefully. If you're reading this and wondering, Jim who? The name is Sheridan. His early movies launched the career of one of the most astonishing actors of our time, Daniel Day Lewis.

David Cronenberg

There is a certain humility in David Cronenberg’s work that imparts an honest reflection of human desire and impulse at a base level many people are afraid to cross-examine. We can vicariously venture down a path seldom journeyed, and find ourselves feeling vulgarly at ease with the subject matter… and still maintain the safe vantage point of outsiders looking in.

Chan-wook Park

Chan-wook Park’s work reflects a chromatic love of movies. He entwines bold elements of style, fashion, cinematography and compelling story telling with above par acting. However far fetched, his movies honor the goals of the characters involved and their stories, and as a bonus, often dish out allusion with a heavy hand.

I found “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” several years ago, an obscure title in a low key Los Angeles video store. I watched it when I was completely fed up with everything in the theaters and on the “new release” shelves. It was inspiring proof that compelling films are still being made for the purpose of telling great stories regardless of formula and industry. Then “Old Boy” sealed the deal.

Myung-se Lee

There is a movie called “Nowhere to Hide” about a group of cops who hunt down a bad guy (who also happens to be a master of disguise). It’s an action movie that has choreographed fight scenes that seem like they could readily be performed on a Broadway stage. The movie is striking visually and at times poetic. The details are tremendous. The shots that construct the scenes are amazing, thoughtful, and stunning… Myung-se Lee is creatively fearless.

Woody Allen

One of the most prolific filmmakers alive, Woody Allen has shot a movie a year consistently for three decades. If you put aside the details of his private life that have soiled the tabloids and all personal judgment you might come to appreciate the extraordinary force of talent and creative energy that drives his work. After all, it is undeniable. The next time you see an actor “break the fourth wall” (conceited and pointless phrase- break the 4th wall…) and speak directly into the camera, like Ferris Beuller, consider Woody Allen’s groundbreaking contribution to cinema.

Steven Spielberg

The man with the golden hand… His movies are so huge I am reluctant to include him on my list. It goes against my DIY attitude. However, his influence is vast and his credits make up some of Hollywood’s land marks. Yes, I too cried watching “ET”... and when I was seven I watched “The Raiders Of The Lost Arch” 14 times.

Francis Ford Coppola

American Zoetrope Winding down my list is “The Godfather” guy. Not for reasons you might presume. It’s not because of “The Godfather” movies or “Apocalypse Now”. Although those are great movies, Francis is on this list because one of my favorite movies of all time is “The Outsiders”. Let's do it for Johnny… We'll do it for Johnny!

I read an article awhile back that said Mr. Coppola was moving to Europe to experience life "as a struggling artist" and make movies outside the studio system based purely on raw inspiration. Thus, reigniting his passion etc… I couldn’t have heard anything more aggravating and annoying (I would have liked to remind Francis that being a starving artist is really not that much fun, I know from experience, and I’d happily trade my resources for his resources for a month if it would help him to find himself). Likewise, even though I might not agree with the eccentric impulses of the iconic filmmaker I will always revere his movies, value his influence and find inspiration in his work.

As you come to the close of this list, you are likely wondering where is David Lynch? Where is Polanski? Where is Tarantino? Where are the Coen brothers? Where is Fincher? Where is Sidney Lumet? Where is Soderbergh? Where is Boyle? Where’s Mann? Howard? Craven? Bay? Spike Lee? Ang Lee? Stone? Anderson? Where is Waldo!? …What about so and so- and the other guy… and how come there are no women on the list, where’s Kathy Bigelow for crying out loud- she just won the freaking Oscar. That's what the comment section is for. I’d love to hear from you and find out who deserves to be here more than Cronenberg, or Lee... Agree, disagree, something you don’t understand? Feel free share your thoughts and enthusiasm.

Thanks for reading.


Virgil London

Saturday, July 24, 2010



On November 26, 1952, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland California, a movie called “Bwana Devil”, premiered in front of a packed house. Card board eye-glasses were handed out to audiences to “enhance viewing pleasure” and they watched the images of man-eating lions and big game hunters jump off the screen magically before their eyes. Critics called the movie “an utter disaster”, but audiences could not get enough.

Perhaps it was the shear novelty of a 3-D motion picture, or maybe it was because a photographer (J.R. Eyerman), took pictures of the audience wearing the “3-D glasses” and Life magazine published the photographs in a nation-wide spread, but on that fateful evening 3-D history was made.

In those days, box office attendance was at an all time low. The major studios in Hollywood had been scrambling to come up with a sustainable gimmick that would lure movie-goers back into theaters. Their eggs were riding in the respectful baskets of Cinerama and Cinemascope with the insight that something hip and mind-blowing might turn things around in the box-office. However, they had all rejected the obscure motion picture system developed by Milton and Julian Gunzburg called Natural Vision Stereoscopic Three Demension.

Maybe the name of it just sounded too space-aged, after all, Cinerama and Cinemascope roll off the tongue a little easier. Regardless, Natural Vision Stereoscopic 3-D was the vehicle that writer/director/producer Arch Oboler ventured out on a limb with to shoot his brain child “Bwana Devil” (originally called- “The Lions of Gulu”) and history was made.

Like a wild band of crazed monkeys, film producers and executives eager to turn a fast profit began churning out a succession of films poised to exploit the new phenomenon. Duel-strip projection, color filters and disposable anaglyph glasses made of cardboard… All the latest rage.

By April, 1953, big studio 3-D features like “House of Wax” made it obvious that moviegoers could be drawn back into theaters and away from their idiot boxes with 3-D movies. In the subsequent months more than sixty films were made, including some legends, like Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” and “Hondo”, starring John Wayne.

Other memorable movies from the 3-D boom of the 1950’s include:

It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wings Of The Hawk, Spooks!, Sangaree, Revenge of the Creature, Melody, and Kiss Me Kate…

However, despite the initial craze, the state-of-the art "mind blowing" technology used, and even the high creative quality, by the end of 1954, 3-D had become old news…

The 3-D boom of the 1950’s lasted less than two years. Will the current 3-D craze share the same fate? Or will the current advances in digital technology offer longevity?

It is easy to look back and point out that technology wasn’t so great back in the 1950's. But think about this- it really was great back then because it was new and people had never seen it before… Technology seems to have that effect. People are always looking back reflecting on how great technology is today compared to yesterday (they did it then too).

When I was about 12 years old, I watched a movie in a crowded theater on the Lower East Side in New York City (at the St Marks Theater). The place was full of cigarette and pot smoke. The movie they showed that night was The Terminator. Without knowing it at the time, I would come to appreciate James Cameron’s work from that moment forward. I may not like all of his movies, but I still appreciate his work. His work has provided some of the moments of inspiration that caused me and probably many others to become a film-makers (perhaps we should curse him for it). James Cameron has the ability to fully engage and impact an audience.

The phenomenon of his latest blockbuster hit, Avatar, is very intriguing. It brought people out of the house and into theaters much like the 3-D boom of the early 1950’s. Similarly, it was at a time when the box-office was suffering. It was the perfect combination of creative vision, money and technology for a 3-D come-back. However, the question remains, is the current 3-D trend only a flash in the pan?

The reality of trends and fads is that they are often fleeting. This is not a mystery. I can only speculate exactly how many Hollywood Producers or Executives might be sincerely convinced that 3-D is here to stay? The reality is, if the consumer is buying it, then it will be provided with enthusiasm (at least until the consumer stops buying it).

Just like the days following Bwana Devil, 3-D movie production is in full force, here are a few I found after a quick search of the I.M.D.B:

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (2011), Alpha and Omega (2010), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (2011), Amphibious 3D (2010), The Cabin in the Woods (2011), Cars 2 (2011), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), Contagion (2011), Derrière les murs (2011), Drive Angry (2011), Frankenweenie (2011), Gnomeo and Juliet (2011), Green Lantern (2011), The Green Hornet (2011), Gulliver’s Travels (2010), Happy Feet 2 (2011), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010/2011), Hugo Cabret (2011), Jackass 3D (2010), Judge Dredd (2012), Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom (2011), Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), Mad Max: Fury Road (2012), Mars Needs Moms! (2011), MegaMind (2010), Men in Black III (2012), My Soul to Take (2010), One Way Trip (2011), Piranha 3-D (2010), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), The Power of the Dark Crystal (2011), Priest (2011), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), The Ring 3D (2012), Rio (2011), Sanctum (2010), Saw 3D (2010), Shark Night 3D (2011), Spy Kids 4: Armageddon (2011), Step Up 3-D (2010), The Smurfs (2011), Tangled (2010), Titanic 3D Re-Release (2012), Transformers 3 (2011), Tron: Legacy (2010), Yellow Submarine (2012), Yogi Bear (2010)

[Even before Avatar, 3-D was gaining momentum... It's been the subject of many coffee room conversation at the motion picture camera rental houses here in Hollywood for many years. Avatar opened the floodgates, but many saw it coming.]

Some people dismiss 3D movies as a mere fad constantly rehashed by nerds… other people advocate that digital technology is enhancing 3-D to a new level of cinematic expression… If you ask me, I prefer a great story and great acting over bigger, louder, flashier, and more disorienting every time.

One of the reasons 3-D failed in the 1950′s was because it was expensive and cumbersome to implement 3-D projection systems nationwide. Today the movie industry has ponied up a huge percentage of the cost to update theaters with newer high tech projection systems. Yes, this time around the power players are taking measures to grind this trend into the marketplace. Perhaps there will be a permanent place for 3-D, if enough people sustain it.

But, there were other reasons that 3-D failed in the 1950′s…

Modern technology is impressive, but a gimmick is a gimmick... and gimmicks get old! I believe audiences know the difference between cinematic expression and gimmicks. If film-makers decide to take short cuts on creative integrity and presume that audience will fall for anything if it has enough bells and whistles, It is easy to predict that those film-makers will pay a price.

The only consistent thing about 3-D, is that the "wow-factor" seems to wear off quickly, and if the numbers in the box office don't generate a consistent profit, 3-D will be ushered out like a fallen viking. Set on fire and cast adrift...

My theory (only a theory) is that the competitive nature of the film industry will in itself cause the demise of the current 3-D trend. Too many movies will employ 3-D effects simply as a gimmick to exploit the consumer, rather than for the purposes of artistic expression. When that happens, people will turn away from it. Hollywood studios will once again resort to doing what they are really best at; manufacturing great films. The greatest films ever made have been created by the Hollywood studios, and those films were not dependent on mind-blowing ploys to get people to go see them.

Another contribution to the demise of 3-D could come from even more dire causes. Social fear… Fear of staphylococcus, for one… The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested seven pairs (just 7 random pairs) of movie theater 3D glasses, and found a number of germs, including the ones that cause conjunctivitis, skin infections, food poisoning, sepsis and pneumonia.

Wow, that 3-D hospital scene was so intense- it jumped right off the screen! It seemed so real... I’m even starting to feel sick.

3-D advocates have assured the public not to worry because most cinemas clean the glasses in between uses- maybe all cinemas should, or better yet, allow the consumer to buy the glasses… If you could buy your own pair and bring them to the theater you would not have to worry about coming down with swine flu or hepatitis.

Then of course, there is the "neurological damage" angle... Who knows that might occur from staring at 3-D images for prolonged periods of time? This could lead to a whole generation of kids with brain abnormalities...

A study at the University of California, Berkeley found that 3D can cause headaches and eyestrain. The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) in the UK is currently undertaking a study to compare people’s experiences when viewing 2D versus 3D material on a 3D television.

Regardless of the health concerns... Boring, over-cooked, plot-less stories will lead to the demise of 3-D before anything else. Those fancy bells and whistles will never go as far as a good story. I can't predict the future, but I can say that people often repeat the mistakes of the past- expecting different results.