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The Indestructibles Film Journal #3: The Photo Shoot

January 28, 2013

The Photo Shoot

So we shot the poster.

A team of three went down to the beach at the very end of a sunny day. This was the team: Nathalie klein Selle, the supremely talented Dutch actress who plays one of the two leading roles in the film; Oren Hasson, who is, among other things, both a professional photographer and my father; and myself (writer and director).

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles Poster

The concept for the poster was simple: Nathalie is a superhero who, though practically dead, cannot actually die. She’s been swept away by the seas and wound up on the shore. The original concept for the poster had her lying in the sea, half her face in the water, half out, eyes open wide, body dead. Working off the concept, Oren could start trying different alternatives to see what would work and what wouldn’t.

Oren picked the location. He chose a piece of beach that was almost completely covered with seaweed. It looks amazing in the photograph, but was actually pretty disgusting in reality. Though the day was scorching, the sea was freezing.  Nathalie got into the dress and into the water, quickly getting her head into position, half in and half out.

We spent the next hour putting her in different positions, putting the camera in different positions, trying out different lenses and variations, until we felt we had enough good shots to choose from.

The Indestructibles Photo Shoot

We tried different angles and lenses

 

At a certain point I found myself grabbing two fistfuls of seaweed saying, “I want to put this in her hair. Can I put this in your hair? Can I put this in her hair now?” Okay, I may not have phrased it exactly like that. It may have been phrased with more poise: “I think we should put more seaweed in her hair. Nathalie, do you mind? Dad, will it work in the picture?” But I wanted to say it like a six-year-old.

Nathalie was a complete pro. She never complained about the freezing water and the wind, didn’t ask once to stop, and was completely there, emoting as her character, whenever the camera was shooting.

The Indestructibles Photo Shoot

I think she had fun

 

During the following week, Oren went over the pictures, tweaked them, and sent me the best ones to choose from. I picked the one you see in the poster above, wrote the texts for the poster, and then met with Oran Almog, a gifted graphic designer. He turned the picture into a poster, and what a great job he did!

The Element of Luck in Shooting the Poster

As you can see, Nathalie’s red dress, which she brought from home, worked supremely well against the color of the seaweed, which neither she nor I knew would be there.

Luck plays a huge role when creating a work of art, whether it’s a film, a poster, a theater show, etc. I’m a big believer in the magical appearance of good luck. It’s not that I think luck goes my way in life or that good things are more likely to happen to me than not, it’s that when you’re working on art and you’ve done all your homework and you work with talented people, suddenly almost everything falls into place in a better way than you would have ever expected.

The Indestructibles Photo Shoot

Here’s another angle. Looks great, but not what we were looking for.

I’ve seen this happen again and again. When we shot Heart of Stone, my last film, the actors were so talented and so prepared, that it seemed, magically, as if everywhere I put the camera was the perfect place to shoot from. In fact, we created an environment for the actors in which it seemed like every new choice they made was good, in character, and helped tell the story. It was a shock to a couple of them, when the shooting was over and they moved on to their next projects, that suddenly not every decision they made was a good one.

It was the same thing with shooting the poster. I didn’t get a chance to see Nathalie in the dresses ahead of time (remember: The Indestructibles is low budget, people are also working for a living, and free time is scarce). She picked a few, emailed me pictures of the dresses on a bed, and we picked three to bring to the location. I didn’t know what the beach would look like ahead of time, either. But this is why it worked: the original concept was good and represented the film; Nathalie is talented and completely grokked her role; and Oren is talented and understood the concept completely, but wanted to add his own element to it.

The Indestructibles Photo Shoot

It’s not easy sitting in green…

So when we got to the beach we discovered that the red dress worked best with the seaweed green, and, as if by magic, everything clicked better than expected. I wasn’t worried, because I was certain that if the red-green coincidence hadn’t occurred, something else would have happened to make the photo shoot magical. When you’ve got the right people, magic happens every time.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #2: The Auditions

January 23, 2013

(As promised, I’m reprinting The Indestructibles’ film journal here at my blog. I’m going to republish about two a week, until we catch up. This was originally published at the Apex Blog.)

 

Pitching The Indestructibles to Actors

You might think it’s next to impossible to pitch The Indestructibles to actors, since they’re asked to do it for free. Most of the ones I approached actually jumped at the chance.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Poster

(more…)

The Indestructibles Film Journal #9: Murphy’s Law

December 12, 2012

The day finally came to shoot the film, but Murphy’s Law attacked us in full force. Here’s an excerpt:

The weekend in which we were to shoot seven of the film’s eight scenes was upon us. And then Murphy’s Law struck once, twice, three times, and kept on bombarding us.

The climax was four hours before the shoot. Tamara Pearlman, one of the two leading actresses, was to wear a certain top to the shoot. We chose it months ago, one of her personal shirts, and when we did I said clearly: “From this point on you’re not wearing this shirt until the shoot. You’ll keep it stored, no one will touch it. It can’t get any stains on it, it can’t get torn. It needs to stay in the closet, safe and cozy and safe.”  She said, “Sure.”

That was months ago. Four hours before the shoot, I get a text from her: “My husband tore the shirt in two.”

And the great battle of The Indestructibles crew versus Murphy’s Law began.

To read the full entry, click here.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Poster

The Indestructibles Film Journal #8: War of the Worlds

November 2, 2012

The Indestructibles is an indepndent, low-budget, epic SF film I’m writing and directing. The latest installment of the film journal has just been published over at the Apex Book Company blog. This one is called War of the Worlds. Here’s an excerpt:

 

Every so often, I am starkly reminded that I live in two different worlds.

One is the ‘real’ world, the regular world, the one where most of you, the readers of this blog, probably live. Everybody lives in the real world. Everybody except crazy people and… There used to be a name for those people… What are they called? It’s on the tip of my tongue… Oh, yes: Artists. In particular, actors, actors in theater and film.

To read the entire article, click here.

 

The Indestructibles film journal #7: Inventing Something New

October 3, 2012

The seventh installment of The Indestructibles film journal has been published at the Apex blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Has Everything Been Done?

The question I keep asking myself as I plan the shots for the film is: Is there a new cinematic language to be invented?

I have a problem with the old cinematic language. It’s built for budgets. Everything we see falls under the scale that has Hollywood on one side, goes through almost-Hollywood, down the scale to not-even-close-to-Hollywood which is only a step above just-pure-piss.

The full article can be found here.

The Indestructibles: Coming Soon!

The Indestructibles Film Journal #6: 3 Funniest Rehearsal Moments

August 30, 2012

This time, in The Indestructibles film journal, I took a break from the serious job of rehearsing with actors how to save the world from dangerous superheroes and reflected back on the three most ridiculous rehearsal moments.
Here are the top contenders.

Want to see it first? Email sfonweb@gmail.com

The Indestructibles Film Journal #5: The Rehearsals

August 30, 2012

The fifth entry for The Indestructibles film journal has been published over at the Apex Book Company blog. Here’s a little taste:

Most of Hollywood wouldn’t like the way I rehearse.

In fact, they wouldn’t like the fact that I rehearse, and certainly not for months. Not only do they not have time for it, but there is a sense in Hollywood that actors that rehearse can’t give you truth. If they only just learned the text, then when they say it for the first few times, they appear genuine, their acting ‘real’. If they say a line more than a few times, it loses its freshness and the actors appear to be acting.

 

Check out the full entry here.

 

The Indestructibles Film Journal #4: Writer vs. Director

June 28, 2012

As the shooting day for my independent SF film, made for the web, gets closer and closer, the inevitable showdown between writer and director finally takes place. So what if they’re both me?

The War Begins

There’s a war going on. And it begins every time a film director is doing his job. If the drums of war are missing, the director isn’t doing his job right. I’m happy to report that this war has finally reached the rehearsals of The Indestructibles, my indy, no-budget, epic sci-fi flick for the web.

To read the full article, click here.

The Indestructibles – Poster

Aaron Sorkin and Amy Sherman-Palladino – They’re Ba-a-a-a-ck

June 28, 2012

Aaron Sorkin, of West Wing and Sports Night (not to mention The Social Network and A Few Good Men) is back with a new TV show, Newsroom. Meanwhile, Amy Sherman-Palladino, of Gilmore Girls, is back with a new TV series, Bunheads.

A few years ago, in my blog The Storytellers, I wrote a few articles analyzing the writing of my favorite writers, these two being among them. What I wrote back then still holds true today. Let’s go back and take a look.

 

Free Fiction: Googlenomics

April 15, 2012

I’m an SF author. I come up with ideas. Ideas about the next technology, where things might go in the next few years and how it will change the world. A while ago I came up with an idea called ‘Googlenomics’ that deals with how economy is going to look completely different in the next few years.

As much as I like getting published by SF magazines, I also like my stories to be relevant and influence conversation, and SF magazines have become irrelevant over the last few years, as far as influencing anything in the national zeitgeist. So rather than write a story about Googlenomics, I wrote a fake article, which I published on April Fools in my blog in Gamasutra, where it had a better chance of reaching the audience it was meant for.

So here is the piece, reprinted here.

Who knows, maybe the technology for Googlenomics is already being developed somewhere right now…

Googlenomics Is Coming

INTRODUCING GOOGLENOMICS

By Guy Hasson

I’ve wrestled with myself about whether I should write this post or not. I’ve written it three times, deleted it, emptied the recycle bin, rewrote it. Revealing secure information may get me sued, after all. Revealing this information may have much wider repercussions. But you know what? To hell with it. This is something that should be stopped. I’m not sure anything can stop it, but the first criteria for change is getting the information out there. I’m typing this, publishing it, and not looking back.

I consulted no one but my close friends before publishing it. I do it completely of my own accord and at no one’s behest. Small warning: You’re about to get very angry.

How I Got the Information

I received the information through one of my best friends. I won’t reveal his identity, I’ll just say that I know him for more than fifteen years and I trust him completely. Let’s call him Charley. Charley works for Tru$t, a Chicago-based start-up company you’ve probably never heard of unless you know someone who works there or who finances it.

Tru$t is situated in downtown Chicago, taking only half a floor in Aon Center, on the side overlooking Two Prudential Plaza. It has been around for the last two years, dealing mainly with research. It’s one of those companies that fly under the news radar, because it doesn’t offer the public anything, nor does it want to. In fact, it wishes to remain anonymous until it comes out with its final product.

The Information

The information I received is in the form of emails, leaked to me by Charley, containing inside discussions as well as ongoing negotiations between Tru$t and Google.

What Tru$t wants from Google is to buy the data it has accumulated and is still accumulating about our daily and minutely habits. Google said ‘no’, but when they heard what Tru$t was about, they did not close the door, but kept on listening. Just to be clear: they hadn’t said ‘yes’ yet, but they hadn’t told them to go jump in the river, either. Now bear with me, because that is the least maddening part of the story.

What Tru$t wants from Google is all information about our habits: what we click on, what we don’t click on, what we search for, what we buy, some of the content of our emails, what videos we see and search for on YouTube, who our friends are, what we find important, what we like, and more.. Now the reason Tru$t wants this information is also the reason this deal might just happen. Tru$t wants to revolutionize commerce, first in the internet and then outside it. Tru$t has a long-term plan and the experts and research to pull it off. Having read hundreds of emails on the subject, as well as the documents attached, my mind keeps calling it only one thing: Googlenomics.

The Path to Googlenomics

Stage #1: Tru$t is going to use Google’s data (or someone else’s if the deal falls through, but Google is their first choice) to create social algorithms that will tell Tru$t exactly how much certain products are worth to each of us.

What does this mean? It means that if I’m an artist and I want to buy a Photoshop license, it’s worth more to me than it is to my neighbor who would just like to have the same program for fun. So I would be willing to pay $5,000 in order to be able to work as a freelancer, while my neighbor would only spend $100 on it or he just wouldn’t buy it. Although today we pay the same prices for most products, every product is actually worth something different to different people. It’s also worth something different to the same person at different times (For example: I’m willing to pay a lot more for a tire for my car if I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat and there’s only one shop that’s milking me dry). ‘Worth’ in this case is defined as the maximum price one would actually pay for a product at a certain moment in time.

Stage #2: Tru$t introduces its product to monopolies. For example, Microsoft. Microsoft has products only it sells, and it sells them at a fixed price to everyone, regardless of how much they’re actually worth to the buyers.

Tru$t’s product will make sure that if you buy a Microsoft product (for example), the price you see is the price that product is worth to you. This means that when I try to buy a certain product, I’ll see price X, and when my friend tries to buy the same product, he’ll see a totally different price. We each see the price we’re willing to pay for that product. And since we can’t get this product elsewhere (it’s a monopoly, after all), we either pay the price it’s worth to us, or we don’t get the product. There’s no shopping around. Another example: Do you really want to play Mass Effect 3 (or, more realistically, when this product comes out, Mass Effect 4)? You just might pay $2,000 or $3,000 for it. Just because you want it badly.

A different price for each customer is so outside our realm of understanding that Tru$t has prepared a document that explains its value. Here is an excerpt, from the document they sent to Google (although they decided to rewrite it afterwards). Here’s how they explain the value of what they offer:

The current system of fixed prices hurts the suppliers financially. With the new system of personality-based prices, our research shows that any supplier can, at the very least, triple their revenues.

Two cases fall under personality-based prices.

Case #1: A customer is willing to pay more than the asked-for price.

Under the current fixed-prices system, the supplier is hurt financially, because he loses the difference between the asked-for price and what the customer is actually willing to pay. With personality-based prices, the customer pays exactly as much as s/he believes the product is worth.

Case #2: A customer is unwilling to pay the asked-for price.

In this case, the customer would like to use the supplier’s product, but does not wish to invest the entire asked-for price. Under the current fixed-prices system, the supplier loses that customer and his money. With personality-based prices, the customer is offered exactly the price he would be willing to pay in order to buy the product. In this case, the customer pays the supplier a sum that in the current, outdated system he would not have paid.

Any supplier using our service will gain additional profits in both instances, and see his/her income skyrocket.

So: We’re going to pay more for things we really want and less for things we don’t. The companies using Tru$t’s products will see their profits “skyrocket”, while Tru$t will get a certain percentage of the income.

(A small note: What did they mean by personality-based pricing. Sometimes how much you’re willing to pay for something isn’t just determined by how much you need it, but by your personality, as well. Are you a haggler who will only pay when prices are down? You’ll pay less under their system. Are you a person who lets other people walk over him? You’ll pay more.)

This by itself will change our entire economy (anything from the way we buy games, monetization in social games, prices in online shops, to prices in actual shops, where you have to identify yourself to buy a product). There are monopolies all around us giving us products we like but don’t really need (Apple anyone?), but there are also monopolies that give us things we can’t do without (water, electricity). How much are water and electricity worth to you? How much will you really pay to have them in your home?

Which brings us to the next stage:

Stage #3: Tru$t is already preparing for the time in which competing companies will appear in the market.

Suppose Tru$t is first on the market with this type of product. Its success and economic potential will mean that other companies will no doubt crop up, creating their own social algorithms and coming up with similar products. So a few years after Tru$t’s initial arrival at the market, it expects to see more such companies appear.

Tru$t is preparing itself for that occasion. Its economists have recommended that when there is more than one such company, Tru$t should expand its product to companies that do not have a monopoly. For example, if Tru$t is alone in the market and works only with McDonald’s, its algorithm will say a lunch is worth $40 to a certain customer on a certain day. But that same customer can cross the street to a Burger King and get the same product for a cheaper price. But if McDonald’s is working with Tru$t and Burger King is working with another social algorithm company, the two products will cost practically the same for the same person on that same day. It’s not worth it for that person to cross the street in search of a better price. So you see, everyone earns more: both companies working with the social algorithm companies as well as both competing social algorithm companies who earn a percentage of said income. Who loses? You know who.

A Massive Game Changer

This is a global game changer. Every aspect of our economy will be transformed, and in a few years will never be the same. Our economy is based on fixed prices with small fluctuations here and there. The new economy will have prices that fluctuate from person to person – a person based economy, or even a personality-based economy. The social algorithm companies will have a hand in (and profit from) almost every economic transaction in the computerized world.

Like I said, I’m not sure this train can be stopped. Even though I’ve released the information ahead of time, Charlie and I differ about whether this knowledge will help change things in any way. I guess we’ll see.

So. Now you know. Googlenomics is coming. What are you going to do about it?


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