Monday, December 28, 2009

Sherlock Holmes...


So along with nearly everyone else in this country we went to see movie this past Christmas weekend. We decided to wait on seeing Avatar in 3D after the crowds die down. Visually striking and well acted, this version of Sherlock Holmes is definitely worth seeing. I have read a few negative reviews about Guy Ritchies direction but we couldnt disagree more. Ritchies f/x driven version (not necessarily a bad thing here) actually stays true to the story. With a strong cast and an ambigiously gay undercurrents between the Holmes and Watson, Sherlock Holmes is worth the price of admission. Sure, Ritchie adds his trademark slo-mo fight sequences and other stylistic flurishes, but he allows the characters to breath and without ruining their performances with MTV style cuts or cheesy CGI. And overall, the story is easy to follow and doesnt get lost under all of the endless fight scenes or subplots. After a strong opening weekend and an ending that leaves the door open for more sequels, Robert Downey JR clearly has another film franchisee under his belt....and again this isnt a bad thing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Heading into 2010...guerilla style


Last week we were relaxing at home, casually watching a lo-fi suspense movie named Cavite on the Sundance Channel. At one point the main character eats at a taco shop, which we noticed looked strikingly similar to a taco shop down the street from us. Soon the character was visiting other locations that looked straight out of our neighborhood. Sure enough, we checked the movie online and it was filmed in San Diego. The film is about a security guard who becomes the unwilling puppet of a terrorist group that has kidnapped his family. Apparently, we missed the train on this one, as it was a big deal back in 2005 when it came out. It won the "Someone to Watch" award at the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards.

The film was obviously shot on the run, guerilla style with a low-end camera, minimal crew and no location permits. It was very encouraging for us to see that you can make a film on barebones and still receive recognition from the industry for its quality in story, and has further strengthened our resolve to finish a short film for festival submission this year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes...


So we were able to check out the latest Sherlock Holmes and I have to say that it was an entertaining film. Checkout our blog tomorrow for a full review.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays from your friends at El Roberto!!!


Hey everyone, we just wanted to take the opportunity to wish all you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and whatever else you might be celebrating at this time of year. It’s been a great year for all of us here at El Roberto, and we’re very appreciative that folks like you visit our little website from time to time and feign interest in whatever we might have to say. There may be a ton of other movie blogs out there that are bigger and better, but we’re happy just to be able to share our love of movies and filmmaking with people who feel the same way we do. Now get back to being with your friends and families and watch some good Christmas films while you are at it!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Its Tuesday....

and we have spent the night wrapping xmas gifts. As promised, later this week we will post a review of The Limits of Control. Until then, checkout the trailer...

Monday, December 21, 2009

How to create 3D video at home!!!

So we have been checking out all of the reviews about Avatar and how your life depends on seeing it in a 3D/IMAX theater, and were curious to see how easy it would be to create 3D at home when we stumbled upon this clip. We are definitely going to experiment with this and will post our results.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Inspirational Words



We found a great article in Filmmaker Magazine about steps to turn filmmaking into a serious career. This is really good advice and we strive to stick to this level of commitment to filmmaking goals ourselves. Check it out...

BETTER LIVING THROUGH FILMMAKING
Tips on how to be a successful filmmaker during the recession.
By Esther B. Robinson

What do you do when all the news is bad news? Layoffs, bank collapses, credit constriction. Gloom is the swine flu of our media ecosystem, and it's hard to ward off infection and hysteria. Our economy's become a dark, frigid sea that we're supposed to distance swim without instruction or a shore in sight. So what does that mean for us as creative individuals?

First and foremost, we need to recognize that we have unique resources. The news may be bad, but we started adapting to murky economic realities long before most people ever dreamed of a financial crisis. We've evolved for this extreme environment, like those crazy deep-sea fish — the glow-in-the dark ones with lamps on their heads. We may not be pretty, but we know how to survive in dark waters — and now the whole ocean's gone dark. Everyone else is panicking. They don't know how to live like this. But those of us used to late-night edit rooms, 20-hour days, Red Bull, ramen and shoebox apartments... we already know how to swim in these waters. We've already developed our weird adaptations in order to find work, food and friends, and now we're at an advantage. While everyone else slows down or stops, we can see clearly and keep creating. While others are blind in the dark, we can be proactive and fearless, and by taking some pretty simple steps we can make major leaps in our work and our careers.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN THE RECESSION:

1. Commit yourself to filmmaking.


First, stop equivocating and commit to the long-term goal of being a filmmaker. You're either in or you're out — decide. Then recognize that living day-to-day, throwing everything into the next project without regard for what follows may not work over the long term. It's a question of pacing. If you still want to be doing this when you're in your forties, fifties and eighties, then you need to construct a life that functions. Committing to being a filmmaker means making all parts of your life work well.

2. Dedicate yourself to a lifetime of making inventive, rigorous work that matters.

If you're going to do this for the rest of your life, then you must ask yourself, "What am I making?" Is what you make the best possible thing it can be? Have you done the thinking to bring real artistry to your pursuit?

Commit to rigor over fluff and meaning over flash. The world does not need more predictable fare. The world needs films that share something about our moment; something that cannot be seen in any other way. To be a great filmmaker you must be inventive and rigorous. So swear to yourself that you will be as fearless as possible in pursuit of this goal.

3. Use your creative skills to build your future, not to deny your current situation.


We've all heard someone (maybe even ourselves?) spin fantasies about "how it'll all work out." That financier, that funder and even Mom, in a pinch. Someone's coming to make it right. They'll fix our financial mess for us, and we can ignore life's harsher realities till that white knight arrives. But unless there is a trust fund on your horizon, this is creative fiction. And while your ability to weave creative fiction may serve you professionally, it will hold you back in your actual life. There is no buyer, funder or producer that is going to save you. You only have yourself. So decide to use your creative skills to build your way forward through the challenges. Instead of using your creative imagination to deny that things are hard or to ignore reality, learn from past mistakes and do not repeat them. You need to be able to look at your life, banish fear and say with unshakable confidence "I've got a new plan."

4. Spend with clarity and save with purpose.


Why is it that when someone says, "You can't make that movie," you think, "Yes, I can," and if they say, "You should have some savings," you say, "There is no way." Recognize that you are skilled at making a lot happen with little money and use that skill on your work and your life. You're a filmmaker, you know how to build real things from no resources. With planning and forethought you can both make your movie and slowly build up savings.

Be ruthless about the difference between what you want and what you need. Track your money, making sure you're spending it well and prioritizing things that really matter. The goal is to save. Set a target savings amount. If you can, buy only what you need and barter for whatever else you want. Use eBay and Craigslist for bargains on all those weird little things you cannot live without.

For your films, be clear that big movies need big partners. If deep-pocketed partners aren't in your future, you need to change your "at any cost" strategy. Narrative filmmakers may need to embrace the era of the small movie: small containable scripts, few locations, small crew. You also may need to deepen and wield your knowledge about local and international tax credits. Both narrative and documentary filmmakers need to really research the grant landscape and be realistic about the odds of receiving funding.

Also don't be afraid to slow down your schedule to benefit your work and your pocketbook (remember everyone is adjusting — no one will blink at a schedule change). A slower pace means you can fit your film around your money job and use the extra time to keep on solid financial footing and deepen the work. Keeping your money job allows you to move forward without falling too far behind. However if your film is topical in a way that means it must be shot right now, then you need to really know how much cash it will take to make it happen.

So be realistic and clear about how much your film will cost and which funding sources are likely and which are not. Make a plan for what you will do if none of the funding comes through. Next, make a plan for if half comes through. Your goal is to understand how much debt you can take on. Be realistic about this part and set a limit before you start shooting. It's important to know the answer to this in advance because during the crunch you can easily lose sight and get into trouble. You need to be honest with yourself — you may not sell this film. The debt you are accruing is yours and yours alone. Having a clear sense of this in advance can really help you make strong choices during production and post and could mean the difference between long-term debt obligations and solvency.

5. Get your credit in order.


Remember that access to capital when you need it is good but bad debt can sink you. So if you have debt, commit to eliminating it: Figure out how much you owe, figure out what your upcoming costs will be and determine how much you can realistically spend each month to pay down your debt. Three good online debt resources are Snowball down your debt, the smart money resources, and powerpay.

For those of you with no credit, you can establish credit by joining a local or national credit union and obtaining a debit card that you can then trade up for a credit union charge card.

Either way, dedicate yourself to raising your credit/FICO score. Use resources like the Filmmaker article from Spring 2009 to assist you so you have the credit resources you need when you need them.

6. Embrace multiple income streams.

Other forms of income make your work possible. Instead of fighting this, be grateful. It's amazing how much energy you save if you stop fighting this paradigm. If you need more money, find new sources of income based on your odd skill-set and apply No. 3. If your job is demeaning or bad, commit to finding a new job and leaving your old one. But remember that this is a recession. Don't just up and quit your day job. You might not find another one as easily. And frankly, your day job is keeping your movie happening even though it feels counterintuitive. Sure, you may need to make adjustments to keep your second (or third or fourth) job from interfering completely with your film, but it's likely necessary to keep you moving ahead financially in these times. By first adjusting your attitude you greatly improve your chances of making the whole thing work.

7. Create strength through community.


Your friends and colleagues are your greatest resources — they have skills, equipment, intelligence and savvy. Clues to survival reside with our peers and our community of fellow filmmakers and artists. The choices they make will help us solve our own problems and make better choices. Take colleagues you admire out to coffee, lunch or dinner, and ask questions about how they make it work. Also, do things that help you enjoy your community. Too often in the single-minded pursuit of filmmaking we forget to enjoy our friends. Movies get made by groups of people. Make sure that this group brings you joy. Communal dinners, caffeinated meet-ups, tequila. These are all tools to bring folks closer together, and the better we play together, the better we work together.

8. Manage your goals and chart your progress.

Set your goals in writing. Studies show that writing down your goals drastically improves your chances of meeting them. Break down the steps. Any goal, even a big one, is achievable if you break it down into the smallest steps possible. Then share your goals. Make yourself accountable publicly so that you have an incentive to follow through on things like debt reduction. Also, track and share your success. Use the discipline of goal tracking to bring order to your life. Then use the lists to remind yourself that you are making progress. It's too easy to think you aren't moving forward if your goals are really big, but progress is progress, so make sure you can chart yours.

9. Give more and participate in making the world a better place for all people.

When you focus on your own challenges it's easy to forget that the world is a difficult and challenging place for those less fortunate than yourself. Don't be a selfish artist, be a good citizen. Volunteer for a cause, a campaign or a soup kitchen. Help your friend or neighbor. Give advice, give your time, give your expertise. Especially do this when you're afraid. It will banish the fear. It will also lead you to new and unexpected opportunities. And remember, even when it's hard, we are blessed to be able to do what we love.

10. Make the decision to make your best work and be good with money and enrich the world.

Now go out there and kick some cinema booty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

$300 budget?!?!

That's right. According to the BBC a filmmaker from Uruguay who created and posted a short film called Ataque de Panico! on YouTube in November 2009 has been offered a $30m (£18.6m) contract to make a Hollywood film. Checkout the video and let us know what you think.

This isn't the only filmmaker who has landed a career from posting a video on Youtube, checkout this old viral video from 2000 called 405.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

.WMV Hell


It started simply enough. I'd created a corporate health video for my company as one of our goals for the year. It was finished in a few weeks, looked great, and was well-received by my team. All that was left was uploading it to the company site, at which point El Roberto officially became a victim of the Mac vs. PC deathmatch. You see my company like most runs with Windows. And their system only plays windows media files or Mpeg 2 quicktime. It was also required for the vids to be compressed to under 50 mb(ha!). Our first issue was conversion. It is almost impossible to convert a mac-based video file into a decent-looking windows media file without plunking down almost $200 for a Flip4Mac program. We downloaded several converter programs from download.com, but the compression on all of them was crappy. If the audio wasn't muffled, then the video was ridiculously pixelated. This has been going on for almost two weeks now. Sleepless nights attempting to convert .mov files to .wmv and getting crap. Scouring endless Mac forums on converting files to .wmv and coming up with nothing. I could go on, but you get the point. Finally, after talking with some co-workers, I found out I could finangle myself some extra room on the network and did not have to necessarily post the vid on the website at 50mb or under. I could actually link to the vid at a much higher size. So tonight, we finally were able to create a slick .avi file that works in windows media player and is a decent size. Hallelujah!!! (Angels cry)

So some tips for you people out there attempting to convert Mac files to Windows Media compatible format: Don't do it!! Jk, but make sure you use a decent converter like FLV Crunch, and DON'T attempt to compress to anything under 100MB or you'll end up like us-hairless with high blood pressure..

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hello, Dolly!!


As the year comes to a close we're working to build up our gear cache...in addition to getting a second camera, a big focus for us is acquiring a dolly to utilize for long tracking shots. Unfortunately a professional one costs a gazillion dollars-definitely not in our budget. So we'll have to make do with a homemade one. Thankfully, there are numerous videos on the web detailing how to make an efficient and low-cost dolly and track. A cool DIY vid is below. Well for sure be making one of these in the next couple of months and posting our results. Ciao for tonight.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday


Finally...someone agrees with us that The Royal Tenenbaums is one of the best films of the decade. Directed by Wes Anderson the The Royal Tenenbaums was definitely overlooked in Rollingstone's best 10 films of the decade list. It will be interesting to see if City of God will get its due.
By request, we will be posting a review of Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed a documentary by Ben Stein later this week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last round...


So I'm in the last round of the screenplay competition I enrolled in September. I finished 3rd in my heat once again, so I'm doing okay, although not as well as I'd like. My assignment in the last round is as follows: The Location has to be set in a nursery. A wig has to appear in the script at some point and the genre is ...drum roll please...OPEN!!!! Yeay!!! THANK GOD. The last 3 assignments have all been in genres I'm bad at: Horror, Monster Movie, and Science Fiction. Bleh..but now my options are much broader. I just got my assignment an hour ago, so I'm going to spend the rest of the night thinking of a killer story idea. Ciao!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Movies of the Decade!!!


So Rolling Stone just came out with a "best of 00's" issue. There is a section devoted to the best movies of the decade which we were eager to check out, as Peter Travers is a good critic whose tastes generally run similar to ours. So here's their top ten

10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

9. Mystic River

8. The Departed

7. Brokeback Mountain

6. The Incredibles

5. No Country for Old Men

4. A History of Violence

3. Mulholland Drive

2. Children of Men

1. There will be Blood

I'm a little meh about this list..its very male-centric. A lot of guns and violence driven films here..and Mulholland drive as number three??? What?? I appreciate an enigmatic film as much as the next person, but making it the third best film of the decade mainly based on its purposeful ambiguity seems a stretch. Anyways I won't spend a bunch space trashing their picks..however, we've listed out a few movies we think they definitely should have included on their top ten of '00 (besides Mystic River, ugh. Okay I'll stop. sorry.)

City of God - I can't believe this was overlooked. In my opinion it's the epic gangster film of the decade. Genius director Fernando Meirelles runs at breakneck speed with the tale of slumkids growing up wild and reckless, in colorful 60's Brazil. The movie is so much fun to watch-its like "Goodfellas" except with Brazillian street urchins.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Charlie Kaufman is a genius and the first mainstream screenwriter to make the human mind and nature his main subjects. And all director Michael Gondry's movies seemed culled straight from your most Ambien-induced dreams. Those two forces together made a magical, whimsical movie about the way our brain and hearts work. It's funny, bizarre, depressed and hopeful all at once. Plus it made you think, which is considered a fatal ailment in movies nowadays.

The Royal Tenenbaums-Comedic classic. Inspired hipster's Halloween costumes for the rest of the decade.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon- Ang Lee made an exquisitely shot film which I think re-ignited interest in the artistic Asian action film genre at least in the US. Although I have to admit after the 19th knockoff movie came out with the same "flying warrior" wire stunt tricks, I started to curse this movie.

Also, I noticed that for a magazine about music, it was strange that Rolling Stone didn't mention any music documentaries. Here's a couple we think they should have shouted out


Dig! Before Britney Spears shaved her head, or Amy Winehouse snorted coke in the middle of her concert, there was good old Anton Newcombe of The BrianJonestown Massacre pummeling his bandmates on stage in front of a packed house of records execs. This film (culled from 2000 hours of footage) is a breathtaking glimpse of a musical genius whose megalomania keeps his band from success even when it's being thrown at them. It's Celebrity Trainwreck 101.

Some Kind of Monster-Yeesh..these guys are such arrogant wusses.

On a personal note, we've had an intense week related to converting some large HD quicktime clips into 50mb windows media player files. It has been painful to say the least. But after much blood, sweat and tears, we've found a solution, which we'll share within the next couple of day. Ciao!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New DVD box set release...


The Criterion Collection is releasing the box set, 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa today. As is says on the Criterion site, "The creator of such timeless masterpieces as Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and High and Low, Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential and beloved filmmakers who ever lived—and for many the greatest artist the medium has known. Now, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, the Criterion Collection is proud to present this deluxe box set celebrating his astonishing career. Featuring twenty-five of the films he made over the course of his fifty years in movies—from samurai epics to postwar noirs to Shakespeare adaptations—AK 100 is the most complete set of his works ever released in this country, and includes four rare films that have never been available on DVD." If you are thinking of what to get for a film buff this xmas, this DVD collection is a must have for any film geek. I know that I want it.

While I am enjoying checking out the Criterion Collection site, I am not digging that they are charging you 5 bucks to watch Michelangelo Antonioni's film L'AVVENTURA, while you can watch it here for free...

Monday, December 7, 2009

DIY DSLR CAMERA STABILIZER!!!


We are thinking of trading in the old Canon XTI for the latest Canon DSLR which has the HD Video feature.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Movie time is here!


So it is December 6 already and sad to say we're a little disappointed with the current movie offerings. Around this time of year all the studios start pushing their big holiday movies and Oscar contenders. But so far we've only gotten a couple of Oscar-buzz movies (like Precious) and a whole lot of boring, run-of-the-mill flicks crushing the box office due to lack of any serious competition (I mean really, Blindside???).

But it finally looks like some good quality movies are coming out in the final weeks of the year. Entertainment Weekly has put out a list of the top ten remaining movies they're looking forward to this year. I definitely agree with their choices. I'm particularly excited to see the Peter Jackson movie "The Lovely Bones" and Tom Ford's "A Single Man" Check it out.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More remake news...

Hitchcock fans will be pleased to know that Michael Bay plans on producing through his Platinum Dunes production company a remake of The Birds. We can almost guarantee that this film will be awful and will cost gazillions to produce. Also, apparently the director assigned to this disaster plans on amping up the gore to make it a R-rated flick. Naomi Watts is apparently signed on to play the new Tippi Hedren. Hopefully the director doesn't have some issues to work out on Watts. Stay tuned.

Here is part 2 of the Anthony Francoso interview produced for Artepolitik.com.


What is El Roberto up to next? We are currently in preproduction for our music video/short film that we are planning on shooting in January and are wrapping some smaller video projects this month before the end of the year. More to come soon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Raise yo hands like its Friday

Here is part one of the interview with Anthony Francoso of the band Geronimo that we produced for Artepolitik.com, which is an emerging Art and Politics web site. Definitely check out Artepolitik.com and take time to participate in some of their forums.


On a different note, after our last post about the Clash of the Titans Remake I have been been thinking a lot about film remakes in general and if a film is better after a second go around. Honestly, I believe that there really should be a rule if a film is a classic such as Pyscho then it shouldn't be remade. If a film was bad or has a lot of potential to be good then why not....right?!?! Any thoughts???

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Clash of the Titans remake!?!?


That's right....someone decided that it was a good idea to remake the original 1981 Clash of the Titans into a 300 rip off. I have to admit, that I will probably go see this film or at least wait until its been ripped and posted online someplace....my only concern is the somewhat cheesy looking effects and metal music playing in the trailer...hopefully that doesn't end up in the final film. Honestly I am anxious to see it and I encourage someone to try to remake the original Jason and the Argonauts as well. Not to disrespect the work of Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen who created the effects for Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and many others but I would fully support remakes of these films if down correctly...any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nine...

The last time there was a movie called 9 it was painful to watch...this time I don't think that this will be the case...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two bullets and a shopping cart....


So I was finally able to see The Road and it was worth the wait. I don't want to spoil the film by giving away too much but we highly recommend it. Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic tail of man and boy vs.cannibals vs.dying world with only a pistol, two bullets and a shopping cart make for interesting theater. But you can really say that the film is mostly about the nature of the bond between father and son rather than just a post-apocalyptic action flick. This film has much more depth than that and is more of a social/environmental commentary.

In terms of the acting, Viggo Mortensen's performance shouldn't be ignored come Oscar time. After reading the book, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the father. Also, the post-apocalyptic landscape shot by Javier Aguirresarobe (shot in location around Pittsburgh,New Orleans, and Mount St.Helens ) is both strangely beautiful and frightening. Director John Hillcoat who directed the Proposition, brings the same surreal landscapes and slow paced story telling to the Road which seems to be missing from films nowadays. Go see this film if you want a reprieve from 2012 and New Moon.