In October 2011, I got to visit the wonderful world of Oz and watch director Sam Raimi direct his preboot (prequel/reboot) of the classic L. Frank Baum book series. I learned much on the set of Oz: The Great and Powerful. Most fascinating to me was some of the things Disney had to do satisfy legal concerns over possibly violating copyrighted imagery from the classic 1939 film adaptation, owned by Warner Bros.

And while trailers for the film focus on wholly computer-generated worlds and characters, you might be shocked to learn the lengths that Sam Raimi went through to shoot a lot of the film practically. For example, it was interesting to see Raimi inventing new practical solutions to help the supporting actors create and react to live performances for characters who would eventually be created in CG — and I’m not talking about performance capture.

After the jump you can watch a video blog we recorded talking about the visit, followed by many more things I learned while on the set.

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The new Fright Night, which remakes and updates Tom Holland’s enduring and entertaining 1985 film about a high school kid who finds that a vampire has moved into the house next door, is about vampires and feelings, but not vampires with feelings. That’s something that’s clear right off in conversations with the cast and crew of the film on location in New Mexico. Or, in other words, this isn’t Twilight.

We’re in the local Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which doubles for the chain’s larger Vegas location. In the film, that’s the domain of stage magician and presumed vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant). Tennant isn’t in the house, but most of the film’s major players are: Anton Yelchin, playing the hero Charley Brewster; Colin Farrell as Jerry Dandridge, the vampire next door; Imogen Poots as Charley’s new girlfriend Amy; and director Craig Gillespie, screenwriter Marti Noxon and effects guru Howard Berger. We only got to see a small bit of the film being shot, so after the break I’ll let the cast and crew give you the lowdown on this new version of Fright Night, in their own words. Read More »

With the press release announcing the commencement of shooting on Sam Raimi‘s Oz the Great and Powerful, I’d hoped we might have some small casting additions. Maybe a role for Ted Raimi? Nothing new on that front, however. So we’ll make do with the knowledge that James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams lead the cast.

The release does have a few good tidbits of info, however, such as the fact that cinematographer Peter Deming (Evil Dead II, Drag Me to Hell, Lost Highway) is shooting. That’s great news; I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Deming’s work for many years, and thought he did a wonderful job on Drag Me to Hell.  Additionally, Howard Berger is “[creating] the looks of several of the unique denizens of Oz, including creatures such as the Whimsies, the Tinkers and the Winkies, as well as the ghastly look of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

The official synopsis follows after the break. Read More »

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