neal Scanlan creature shop Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is filled with practical effects, costumed creatures and puppets. Some of the practical effects are so good that you probably believe they were created inside the computer. After the jump, you can read an excerpt from my conversation with Neal Scanlan — creature & droid effects creative supervisor, creature shop concept designer, creature shop head — and SFX supervisor Chris Corbould. (The full interview will be posted in February). In the excerpt, Scanlan and Corbould reveal some of the invisible practical effects of The Force Awakens and more.

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star wars: the force awakens

J.J. Abrams and Disney (smartly) pitched Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a throwback to the original trilogy (the movies that most fans of the franchise loved) and a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage focused on the return to practical effects. But anyone who has seen the movie knows The Force Awakens also has its share of CG visual effects. And this morning, Force Awakens was nominated for Best Visual Effects for this year’s Academy Awards.

What might surprise you is that The Force Awakens actually has more visual effects shots than Star Wars: the Phantom Menace. Not only that, while The Phantom Menace had more miniature work than all of the original trilogy films combined, The Force Awakens features not one miniature. But unlike Phantom Menace, a lot of the CG work is invisible. Learn more after the jump.

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anomalisa interview

Anomalisa is one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies. It’s a singular experience, a stop-motion animated drama that slowly reveals why it could have only been told in this style. Simultaneously bleak and brutally honest and genuinely hilarious, directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have made a movie that touches a nerve. Anomalisa is a stunningly made movie about ordinary people, a visual treat set in the most mundane setting imaginable, and a story that asks you to discover empathy for characters who are painfully human… despite being 3D-printed puppets. As of this morning, it is now an Oscar nominee for for Best Animated Film.

Since it topped my list of the best films released in 2015, I was thrilled to speak with Kaufman and Johnson as Anomalisa expands into more theaters this week. You can read the complete interview, and watch a new featurette delving into the making of the film, below.

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Quentin Tarantio cinematography

People were fortunate enough to get to see The Hateful Eight earlier than expected last year. After writer-director Quentin Tarantino‘s eighth feature film performed as well as it did in limited release, The Weinstein Company pushed up the expansion date. So, by now, the hope is most of you have seen this fantastic film. But whether or not you have, you might enjoy watching Quentin Tarantino discuss The Hateful Eight for 30 minutes. Click the jump to see his (not-very-spoiler-y) talk.

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Mark L Smith interview

The Revenant is a genuine epic. As large as the film is in scale, with its vast landscapes and its long journey into a chilly hell, both director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Mark L. Smith wanted to tell a personal, intimate story amongst all the chaos. The two-and-a-half-hour film is about revenge, but to Smith, it’s about far more than that.

The screenwriter has been working on the project for years now, starting all the way back in 2007. It’s easy to see why any writer would be drawn to this story, to have the oppurtunity to tell a story through behavior and images, rather than exposition — which there’s very, very little of in The Revenant.

We spoke with screenwriter Smith about the internalized father-son story. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.  Read More »

Tim Roth interview

You get the sense both actor Tim Roth and his character in The Hateful Eight, Oswaldo Mobray, are enjoying themselves immensely all throughout Quentin Tarantino‘s latest western. Roth plays a very posh and exuberant Englishman, who’s also a surprisingly thoughtful hangman.

The Hateful Eight is as much a mystery as it is a western, and how the story plays out, I imagine, will be even more satisfying on repeat viewings. The smallest of gestures, conversations, and even the blocking says so much about where these characters stand. It’s an intricately crafted film, and Roth, quite clearly, had a ball making it.

I spoke to a few actors at The Hateful Eight press day, and rarely are they so happy to be promoting a movie. This is Roth’s fourth collaboration with Tarantino, and he was kind enough to discuss the film, Oswaldo Mobray, and more with us.

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spearhunter

“If you’re the only one who does something, you’re the world’s greatest.”

This is the epigraph that opens Spearhunter, a new short film by director Adam Roffman. And in amusing fashion, the film explores the personality and life of Gene Morris, whose Spear Hunting Museum has a mural on its side proclaiming him “The Greatest Spear Hunter in Recorded History.” What would drive a person to create such a museum? And how does one spearhunt, anyway?

These were the questions that drove Roffman to make this film. When I saw Spearhunter at the Independent Film Festival of Boston this year, I was taken with its beautiful cinematography and its great use of b-roll and editing, all of which served to give viewers a vivid sense of Morris’s egotism and eccentricity. I was also curious about how Roffman, who has previously been a film festival program director and a set dresser on many critically acclaimed films, had made the jump into documentary filmmaking, so I asked him about the making of the film via email.

Spearhunter is now online. You can watch the short film and read my interview with Adam below.
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Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams

As excited as I was to chat with filmmaker J.J. Abrams about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was even more excited to chat with super producer Kathleen Kennedy, who aside from producing many of the films of my childhood is the head of Lucasfilm — which means she is in charge of the future of the Star Wars franchise.

I talked to Kennedy about how she and her team are planning out the future of the Star Wars franchise, how George Lucas’ treatments evolved into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the abandoning of the Star Wars expanded universe, what was being developed at Lucasfilm before George sold to Disney, how the theme park stuff is being worked on, the differences between the Saga films and the Star Wars Story anthology films, the collaboration between J.J. Abrams and future sequel trilogy directors Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow, and whether they can top Darth Vader with Kylo Ren. Obviously, some of these quotes were featured on the site last week, but there is so much here that wasn’t — so please read it in its entirety.

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star trek beyond

The first teaser trailer for Star Trek Beyond hit the internet yesterday, exciting a lot of people but also pissing off some long-time Trekkies. The complaint is that the movie presented didn’t feel like a Star Trek movie, but instead a modern in-your-face blockbuster. But if you ask director Justin Lin, he’ll quickly remind you it’s just a minute and a half of the movie.

After the jump I present to you excerpts from my hourlong roundtable conversation with Justin Lin, in which he responds to fan criticisms, talks about his personal relationship to Star Trek, the origins of the film’s title, the music choice, the inspiration of the original TV series, what he gave up to direct Trek, his idea for the film, whether it will continue plot lines from Into Darkness, the screenwriting credits, working on a Trek movie with a producer who is directing Star Wars, whether he plans to return to do another Trek movie, and much more.

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