Friday, 28 December 2012

Lenny (1974)

Last night I got the chance to watch the 1974 biopic, Lenny, starring Dustin Hoffman as comedian Lenny Bruce. I haven't really had the chance to watch a film for sometime apart from the usual dirge of Christmas flicks that flash on and off in the background of television haze. But this was a film that I found a few weeks ago and it sat on my desk just waiting to be watched. My expectations were surpassed beyond anything I could imagine.

Lenny Bruce was always a comedian I admired. In my teenage years, the discovery of Carlin and Pryor lead to Lenny Bruce. All the great comics of the modern age were directly influenced by this man. Bob Fosse' film explores the life and struggles of Bruce, from his early days working smalls clubs and telling bad jokes, to his later life, addiction to heroin and his battle with freedom of expression.

Most famously, Bruce was known for his use of language, leading to multiple arrests for obscenity. His act was passionate and provocative, exploring the darker aspects of life. Aspects of life that were still very much taboo in 1950's America. Hoffman plays the role with an excitement and passion that seems appropriate, although at times it can feel overly dramatic there always seems an appropriate level of bubbling passion. It is this passion that made Lenny Bruce, the want to speak to people and be honest about all aspects of life. The understanding that his words were powerful and important tools that helped change viewers. This is the soul of Lenny Bruce and it makes it all the sadder when he is arrested for use of profanity.

Bruce's troubled relationship with his wife is shown as a loving but broken connection. There is a self destructive side to his character that conflicts with the normality of marriage and family. But despite all of this, there is a real sense of love and affection, an awareness that they will never really be together but they always should have been. It is a tragic story in itself, coupled with drug abuse and legal battles.

Despite the drug abuse and broken relationships, the soul of the film is about expression. The opening shot stares at Honey Bruce's mouth as she begins an interview. From the outset we are shown that words and expression are key. This is what Lenny Bruce was always trying to achieve, honest and free speech within his act. This constant battle for free speech ultimately makes his story all the more saddening. It is a very moving and affecting film, with a starkness and honesty that match the words of the great comedian perfectly.

"Please, don't take away my words. They are just words....I'm not hurting anybody."
                                                                                                                                   - Lenny

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Home - Test Footage

My blog has been pretty quiet since graduation, this is largely because freelance work has taken over my time and can't be posted for various reasons. However, I have also been working on my own projects, trying to make things happen and attempting to get a foot in the door of the film making world. Working for myself has personally been a big achievement and the variation in projects is genuinely exciting. I'm constantly facing new challenges, trying to solve problems on my own and keeping control of deadlines whilst also meeting new people and trying to become more than just a CG artist. I knew when I left university that I wanted to be more than a CG artist. My ambitions have always been concentrated on making work that is impactful and lasting. So, what is to be said of all this? Well, I will be showing more work on my blog. Most of it will be tests and proposals, rejected ideas and projects that didn't quite make it. Some of these may develop further, but mostly, it is exciting purely showing my personal work. I will also be redesigning my site and relaunching it sometime early next year. I have a lot of ideas for the new site, all of which I still need to develop. So, I would like to start by showing some test footage for a project idea I had a month or so ago.

Home - Test Footage

In 1969, before the U.S set foot on the moon, Nixon's speech writer wrote the follow letter in case the worst should happen.

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
 Source -

The first moon landing was one of the greatest achievements of the century, watched globally as we stepped forward in both science and technology. The act of transcending our own planet and venturing out to expand knowledge and understanding was perhaps the most inspiring moment of the generation. However, behind all this passion for success was a real sense that it could all go wrong. The fear that two men could be left isolated and alone, away from home and left to die. The proposal for this animation was centred around this scenario. A moving and affecting story that lasts far beyond the credits and stays with the audience. This is an animation about life and death, the bravery of stepping forward into the unknown and the idea that even in the darkest times, good acts will always provide hope and inspiration. The short would have been a series animated digital paintings documenting the final moments of the stranded astronauts as they contemplate the life that they have left on earth. Flashes of their former lives would inter cut the sequence, demonstrating all they have lost. This sequence of slow and still shots would have been overlaid with the voice over of the speech above, as if read out to the nation.

Ultimately, this proposal was rejected and I think I know why. Mostly the narrative and atmosphere of the piece need some work. But despite the weaknesses, this rejected project will push me forward to creating another project. The style of the animation is something that I want to keep exploring. Animated concept art such as this has an emotive quality. It feels hand made, formed from lines and shapes crafted by a person, rather than the cleanliness of CG. My life since university is centred around finding new ways of working, producing animation that is lasting. 

My graduate film "The Minor Key" had some problems and at the core of them was the sterile CG. I created an interesting narrative with emotive characters, but the quality of the image didn't quite match up to this. So I find myself exploring new paths, new mediums. All the while expanding my CG knowledge, hoping to one day use it in a new way that truly captures the audience. This is an exciting prospect, more work will be generated, ideas explored and mediums discovered. All in the pursuit of creating interesting, lasting work. Let me know what you think of my work so far and keep checking back as I begin to get my website rolling again.