January 2009

Free film online: Nightmare in the Attic

A little over two years ago, I saw a film called Jigsaw, a very smart noirish thriller that was one of the strongest films I saw in 2006. At the time I was under the impression that this was writer/director Scott Stavens first film. It turns out that it wasnt.

Before Jigsaw, Staven made a film called Nightmare in the Attic. I havent yet watched the film but, from the logline, it does sound intriguing:

A revelation of a past unknown and a reoccurring nightmare leads a woman on a journey to find out the history of her amnesia victim boyfriend. But some things should just be left unknown.

Best of all, the film has been released online completely free so there really is no excuse not to go and take a look. I certainly will be doing so in the very near future.

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Monty Python unlocks the value of YouTube

Back in November, the Monty Python team set up their own channel on YouTube and started uploading high quality versions of their most popular clips. The result, according to Mashable (via /film) has been phenominal:

Monty Python’s DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.

23000% sounds like an unfeasibly large number but a sizable increase is a sizable increase. While giving away content for free isnt going to benefit every performer quite so spectacularly, this news does strongly suggest that this approach can buld an audience who are prepared to go out and pay for more of your content.

Bill Plympton talks Idiots and Angels

Bill Plympton is one of the most original animators working today. His 2008 film, Idiots and Angels is a dark comedy about a morally bankrupt man scrabbling to hide the good in himself - which manifests itself in a pair of angel wings that just won’t go away.

And in this short film, shot while he was promoting the film in Bordeaux, Plympton talks about Idiots and Angels.

Isle of Man gets real on filesharing

I have, in past posts, argued that the current music industry model of distributing music on physical objects is looking increasingly broken and that it would be better for the music industry to stop chasing file sharers and, instead, start developing a distribution model that actually works.

It appears that the Isle of Man agrees. They are proposing to introduce a compulsory blanket licence for music downloads under which broadband ISP subscribers would pay a nominal compulsory tax, but be able to share music legally.

The idea of legalising P2P rather than stopping it is an ancient one: its been used to create for new technologies for over a hundred years. Where its too complicated and/or expensive to count or police individual exchanges, a blanket licence has been issued.

Im not entirely convinced about the fact that the charge would be applied to all subscribers. Not all internet users share files so simple fairness dictates that ISP customers should be able to choose between a high bandwidth, “taxed” account or a lower bandwidth “untaxed” account. But this move is certainly a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see whether any other states follow the Manx lead.

On a related note, a TNO study for the Dutch government has concluded that filesharing is good for the economy. The report notes that, although filesharing does affect media industry profits, the net effect is that more media are available overall.

The report also notes that downloading and buying are not mutually exclusive: downloaders on average buy just as much music as non-downloaders, but they buy more DVDs and games then people who dont download. They also tend to visit more concerts and buy more merchandise.

Open Rights Group calls for sound copyright

Copyright in sound recordings currently lasts for 50 years. An independent review (the Gowers review) commissioned and endorsed by the UK government says it should remain at 50 years. Yet the recording industry continues to push for this term be extended. Such a term extension would be harmful to most musicians, their fans and to European musical culture.

The Open Rights Group has a rather good video explaining the issues. Take five minutes to watch it and then write to your MEP.

Via Quaequam Blog!

Charisma Carpenter is not an Urban Scumbag

Variety (by way of Fangoria) is reporting that Charisma Carpenter has signed up to star in Vivid, a psychological horror from new British genre specialist Red Sparrow. The film is due to start shooting on location in London and Somerset.

Carpenter plays a New York writer who moves to a manor house in rural England and has to deal with not only the unfriendly residents, but frightening visions of bloodshed in her new home.

Red Sparrow do have a very interesting looking production slate, including John Landis’ The Bone Orchard, which sees Chinese vampires in the old west, and Cockneys Versus Zombies which, as far as I can tell, has nothing at all to do with the rather more amusingly titled Urban Scumbags vs. Countryside Zombies Reanimated by Maxim Matthew.

A number no more

Patrick McGoohan, the co-creator and star of The Prisoner died yesterday aged 80.

Although McGoohan did do a fir bit of work on ths stage, and signed a five year contract with Rank, resulting in several major roles, most notably as one of the Hell Drivers in 1957, he will always be best known for his TV work. After Danger Man, he became involved in his most iconic role as Number 6 in The Prisoner which he also produced and occasionally wrote and directed.

The surreal and allegorical series combined elements of spy fiction, science fiction and psychological drama resulting in something both unique and uniquely influential. The series followed a former British secret agent who, after abrubtly resigning, was kidnapped and held captive in a small coastal village by an unidentified power seeiking to establish the reason for his resignation. Throughout the series, Number Six attempts both to escape and to defy the various attempts to break his will. He also tries to discover which side his captors work for and the identity of the mysterious Number One, who runs The Village.

Way ahead of its time, the series featured striking and often surreal storylines and themes including hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of indoctrination. The influence of the series can still be seen today in modern series such as Lost and Battlestar Galactica as well as in films such as The Truman Show.

io9 has found a pretty good interview with McGoohan from 1977 in which he explains that he decided to help create The Prisoner because he was bored with the television of the time. He pitched the show to Lew Grade on a Saturday morning and by Monday had the budget to go ahead. McGoohan thought his concept would only sustain seven scripts, but Grade insisted on a full season of 26.

I remember seeing The Prisoner when it was retransmitted back in the early 90s - even then it was still one of the freshest and most memorable programmes on TV. McGoohan famously turned down the roles of both James Bond and Simon Templair, preferring to reinvent the secret agent archetype rather that simply follow it. Were all a lot richer as a result.

You can watch all of the original episodes on the AMC website, courtesy of the people who are remaking the show.

Schrödinger’s Girl in Warwick

Following on from yesterdays post about Schrödinger’s Girl, Ive heard from Huw Bowen that there will be a cast and crew screening on Sunday 18 January at the Warwick Arts Centre. Its not a formal premiere but they do have some extra tickets available.

If you are in the area and would like an early look at the film, email huw and tell him that Paul from Pulpmovies sent you. The email address is: huw DOT bowen AT gmail DOT com.

First ten minutes of Schrödinger’s Girl online

If you havent already seen the trailer for Huw Bowens science fiction film, Schrödinger’s Girl, you really should go here and check it out.

The film is about Rebecca (Abigail Tarttellin), a disgraced scientist conducting research into alternate universes. She finds a method of travelling between parallel worlds only to discover that her counterparts in these worlds have also been working on this problem in order to further agendas of their own.

If that isnt enough to excite your interest, you can see the first ten minutes of the film on YouTube, and I have to say that it does look very good indeed. We have three very different worlds and right from the outset it looks like the film is going to make a serious stab at addressing some serious SF issues.

As far as I can make out from the directors blog, production on the film is finished and their marketing effort is just getting going. All I can say at this stage is that this does look a film well worth keeping an eye out for and, if all else fails, they are looking at a DVD release before the end of the year.

Freedom of icky speech

Its a month old, but this post on Neil Gaimans blog provides a calm and articulate discussion of why freedom of speech matters even if you find that you dont like the specific speech exercising the freedom.

Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means youre going to have to stand up for stuff you dont believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you dont, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one persons obscenity is another persons art.

Because if you dont stand up for the stuff you dont like, when they come for the stuff you do like, youve already lost.

Go read the rest.