Sensei Dan

Sensei Dan

Japanese introduction by Mizuno Haruro for the Wednesday Road Show telecast of "The Warriors" from around 1981

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Understanding what the Hollywood distribution landscape looks like is crucial to deciding where you (or your production company) should pitch a project. Should it be a major? An indie? A streaming service? What are some of the challenges that each platform presents?

APOLOGIES FOR THE MIC SOUNDS ON MY JACKET. WON'T DO THAT AGAIN!

Hollywood Rants - Post Film-School Realities is a sub-series that introduces you to many of the various eccentricities of the industry that you might not have learned in film school. This can include job strategies, how and where to pitch projects, some of the back stories to the scandals you hear on the news, and more.

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"Proof of the Man" (人間の証明) was the 2nd film of Kadokawa Pictures, formed by a maverick publisher who wanted to revitalize the Japanese film industry -- at least financially. That he did, although few of the movies made it out of the country. Perhaps one of the reasons is that they tended to be very racist toward non-Japanese. "Proof of the Man" is one of the most controversial. We go over that controvery... is it deserved?

Parts were shot on location in New York City during the blacksploitation era, and it is interesting to see how foreigners viewed the city at that time. It is not a positive view!

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The whole concept of the "four quad movie" is sort of like a unicorn -- interesting to think about, but probably not real. A "four quad movie" is one that is supposed to appeal to all audiences equally (males over/under a certain age break + females over/under that age break), and therefore be a "box office guarantee."

In actually, striving for that elusive goal has been one of the biggest reasons behind the current obsession with sci-fi/fantasy thrillers and the unofficial yet clear disdain for "character-oriented," "chick flicks," or "festival favorites." We debunk this thinking and showcase some recent examples where addle-pated executives try to fight their natural quadding!

Yes, this is somewhat technical, but it will be increasingly important as the industry strives to recover audiences it has lost -- and prevent a similar problem (already nascent) in streaming.

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NOTE: Video contains clips that contain both sexual and physical violence.

NOTE 2: The clips from NIGHT WATCH are from a home video version that has the original music soundtrack. It was replaced in the Warner Bros. Archives release. This includes the immortal "Love Theme from Night Watch," the loss of which ruins the closing credits...

Elizabeth Taylor was both a cultural icon and the ultimate movie star. Gliding through her career on sheer force of energy, she was at least inadvertently part of the loosening of restrictions on divorce with two notorious love affairs; was the first star to make over $1MM for a movie; starred in the movie that ended the production code; and finally used her star power to help in the fight against HTLV-3. But after all those battles were won, where was left to go?

The answer, true to Liz' character, was to make a series of movies that were often reviled on their initial releases but are now cult films with ardent followings. We examine three of the most fun to see what really "becomes a legend most" during those years when they could be retired, but what fun would there be in that?

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On this episode of Backward Engineering Your Script, we take a look at the movie of the week that led to the TV series The Waltons. Unlike the later series, this MOW features more ambiguous characters and some unresolved human frailties. Much of the cast is also different.

Based on the novel "Spencer's Mountain" by Earl Hammer Jr, the movie takes the rural America of the 30's and contextualizes it with the cultural turmoil of the late 60's and early 70's -- but includes elements of the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls ambiguity as well. Hardly the softie piece it is often thought to be, the program showcases how to do a memoir the correct way: relatable, but not through completely rose-colored glasses.

Backward Engineering Your Script is a continuing series of videos that explores individual movies or TV shows that exemplify good or at least interesting writing approaches. There is no one correct way to write a script, and this series hopes to inspire you to find your inner voice that can be led to outward success.

The video clips are from a CBS Late Movie telecast from 1986 which features what I believe to be the original color grading, which is quite different from the Paramount Home Video version.

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Carmen Comes Home (カルメン故郷に帰る) is Japan's first Fuji-color Musical. Directed by Kinoshita Keisuke (who is almost unknown in the west), the movie was a tremendous heat. Chronicling the story of Okin, who went from farmgirl to the Big City and comes back as "Lilly Carmen." Instead of dressing like a country girl, she now wears very western (hilariously so) clothes. Along with her friend Akemi, they set the town atwitter. But Carmen still has a heart of gold, hearing that the school needs a new organ, she and Akemi offer to put on a show -- their own exotic nude dance. Kinoshita uses this as a framework to meditate on the challenges facing Japan in the post-war era.

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Suspiria '77 has always been a cult film with an ardent following. The original, at least for most Americans, appeared to have come out of nowhere and ultimately grew from a small following to mainstream appeal.

The fact that it is "cult" means that you are courting disaster if you try to remake it. Guess what? Amazon Studios has done just that! In this episode, we discuss the appeal of the original; what goes wrong with the remake; and how the remake represents a lot of what is going wrong with Hollywood and the creative community today.

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DOA is an independent "B" movie from the height of the film noir movement of the late 40's/early 50's. In an unusual twist, it utilized real locations in both LA and San Francisco, often stealing shots. Further, it starred Edmund O'Brien, an unlikely star (despite a Best Supporting Actor award for Barefoot Contessa). The story is almost completely incomprehensible, until you realize who did what to whom and why don't really matter. What's unusual about the movie is its cold hearted view of humanity, and the choices one makes in life. Let's just say that what Frank Bigelow (O'Brien) does with his few remaining days is not what someone would do in a sentimental TV movie!

Alt-Cinema is a new series dedicated to the weird, wild, and wonderful -- movies that have made an impact on viewers if not academics, and are the stuff dreams are made of.

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Lorenzo Pelosini is a published author, Italian national and recent graduate of USC. Here, he describes some of his tricks for surviving the La Dolce Vita of Hollywood -- and breaking in to the entertainment industry.

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Backward Engineering Your Script -- The Melodrama, or How to Make a Statement of Personal Empowerment Through Suffering in Mink. The year was 1942; America had just come through the Depression and had suffered an attack on Pearl Harbor. Life was changing, and Hollywood now had a mission to make the transition to a wartime economy more palatable through tales of survival. But not everything could be Mrs. Miniver, so often the message of empowerment was buried in melodrama.

Enter Now, Voyager -- seemingly a typical Bette Davis four-hankie weepie, but actually much more. In fact, it remains relevant to day with its focus on neurotic eating; co-dependent relationships; and most importantly rebellion against authoritarianism.

Plus, it's all done to lush music and faux profound observations.

If only the little girl of the third act wasn't so obnoxious...

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Early 80's documentary about lesser known Japanese film studio but large distributor Toei Films.

Grande Dame Guignol (a/k/a "Hagsploitation") is a genre which began in the early 60's with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? And while contemporary audiences at the time found it horrifying that their favorite stars were reduced to this level, it gave those stars another crack at the big time. This trend continues today through series like American Horror Story.

What made this series work so well? It was nothing other than crafting a great star vehicle around a star who no longer needed to worry quite so much about the glamour quotient. This resulted in criminal level scene stealing and moves that remain fun to this day.

See how writer Robert Bloch (Psycho) fashioned his script not only around Joan Crawford's persona, but her own past.

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In this episode of Backward Engineering Your Script, we examine the horror genre in general and Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) in particular. Dario Argento's 1975 film encapsulates all of the genres of horror, and how it deviates from normal screenwriting virtues such as good storytelling and interesting, unique and compelling characters. What makes this movie tick?

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A Star is Born is an oft-told story with few surprises that has wound up being a huge deal every time it has been made. Each version seems to define its era, and how the battle of the sexes is being waged. How does this latest version compare to the past?

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Note: The clips from Meet Me In St Louis were sourced from a TV broadcast done by WGN around 1985. Note that the color timing is closer to vintage 3-strip Technicolor than any of the recent digital restorations. Yes, the picture is bad, but for the most part the color is very Technicolor.

For most of Hollywood's history, the industry believed what Hedda Hopper said: "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." So artists often hide their messages in the subtext of their work. One of the best hiding places is in stories about small towns and idyllic American suburban life. We take a look at two wartime movies that on the surface appear to be championing small town values... but do they really? Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me In St Louis seem as unlikely a pair of films as you could find, yet both share the same author (Sally Benson) and the same subversive view of bucolic paradise. Check out their similarities in messaging as well as their way of bringing an outsider's perspective to the inside.

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For most of Hollywood's history, the industry believed what Hedda Hopper said: "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." So artists often hide their messages in the subtext of their work. One of the best hiding places is in stories about small towns and idyllic American suburban life. We take a look at two wartime movies that on the surface appear to be championing small town values... but do they really? Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me In St Louis seem as unlikely a pair of films as you could find, yet both share the same author (Sally Benson) and the same subversive view of bucolic paradise. Check out their similarities in messaging as well as their way of bringing an outsider's perspective to the inside.

Want to know more about digital media educational opportunities and jobs? Visit the ICT-Digital Media statewide grant site at http://ict-dm.net

Please visit our informal facebook page at http://facebook.com/ictdmla

Want to know more about the jobs picture in the entertainment industry? See the LA Economic Development Corporation report on jobs in the digital arts. http://laedc.org/2018/02/08/report-ccw-dme/

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The iconographic Los Angeles landmark the Bradbury Building was featured in 1949's DOA. Note the exterior is the close-by Million Dollar Theater.

David O. Selznick and Alfred Hitchcock are true masters of the art of adaptation, but the two could not have been more different in terms of what they felt was more important. For Selznick, it was fidelity to the original. For Hitchcock, it was for audiences most likely not familiar with the source. The two came together on Rebecca and the sparks flew. Which one is ultimately more correct?

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"Noises Off" is a little-remembered Amblin film made at the very end of its stint at Disney. Given its pedigree (hit London and Broadway engagements; Peter Bogdanovich as director; boasting an all-star cast; and being produced by that Diamond Level producing pair Kathleen Kennedy and hubby Frank Marshall*), there is no reason for its lack of box office success... Except for the fact that it was compromised from the get go. Let's examine how...

*For those of you who had problems with The Last Jedi or Solo, perhaps the roots of those problems may be found in this early example of Kennedy/Marshall's style of "producing."

This idea was inspired by Stephanie Janicez' YouTube channel and facebook page.

Stephanie Janiczek YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfcdVC8aXZV0ePdJhEnkfmw

Stephanie Janiczek Star Wars iconoclastic Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=star%20wars%3A%20mos%20eisley%20cantina

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In this episode of Backward Engineering Your Script, we take on the concept of the "False Lead." A false lead is a character (or pair of characters) who serve as an audience surrogate to enter a world of other people who are so bizarre that making a movie about them will probably be uncommercial. They are the voice of sanity in an otherwise crazy world.

Our films for comparison this time are Giant and Written on the Wind. Both were made in 1956, both take place in Texas, and both star Rock Hudson. From there, the similarities end. Giant is more conventional; while Written on the WInd is more crazy. See how Hudson is played in both. And then witness the difference between a solid, "good" movie, and one that is quite literally insane. Which do YOU like more?

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The Loves of Isadora debuted the same year as Streisand's Funny Girl and Andrews' Star, so it has remained in their shadows. Yet, this quirky, esoteric, and sometimes frustrating film seen today is probably preferable to the other two because of its narrative innovation; attempt to understand the link between art and passion in all forms; and its central performance by Vanessa Redgrave.

Sadly, ALL officially extant versions of the movie remain unsatisfying, and none of them resemble the original 168 minute version.

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That the 1931 Dracula has all sorts of historic interest is undeniable... But because it has been around for such a long time, there are numerous myths that have been built up about it. Further there must be something that keeps it relevant for moderns. We address that, too.

First, we debunk two of the myths: Is Dracula just a crude, early talkie with no aesthetic sense? Was the concurrently made Spanish version really better?

Then we get to the fun stuff... Dracula has remained a favorite for nearly 90 years. What has kept it at least interesting on a dramatic level, creakiness and all? I contend that it is a thinly veiled warning of what was happening in Europe, done through the prism of decadent sexuality. What are your thoughts?

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In this episode of Backward Engineering Your Script, we continue our exploration of elements of character. This time, we look at a character in conflict with himself... Sam Spade, the cynical and world-weary detective in Dashiell Hammet's Maltese Falcon initially appears to be a character in conflict with his environment or other people more than himself. But is he really? Could he, like Rick in Casablanca, be a dashed romantic? Or is he just a garden variety low rent private eye?

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The world of screenwriting has become its own cottage industry, with multiple books, classes and seminars telling you how to do it. But are they really helping you make a sale? From the perspective of a development exec, decide what type of writer you are. Are you someone who specializes in story, characters or scenes? It may impact the type of writing that will help you ultimately make your sale.

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Created 3 months ago.

26 videos

CategoryEntertainment

This is a series of videos that cover the subject of Hollywood... from an insider now turned educator. Learn about the entertainment business from a slightly different, even right-leaning perspective. Guess how some of the scandals of the past help to influence the creative decisions today. help to predict what may happen next in this ever changing world.

In order to check out the grant that I work for, please see http://ict-dm.net

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To see more about job trends in entertainment, look at this report...

https://www.laedc.org/2018/02/08/report-ccw-dme/