Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Brown Center at MICA

Photo I took of the Brown Center May 7, 2011
Below is some of what I said on Facebook when I posted my photos in 2011. MICA stands for Maryland Institute College of Art.
When I volunteered for the Maryland Film Festival I was assigned to the Brown Center at MICA (A second site for showing films). I thought WHAT a beautiful building. The architecture was amazing. I never been inside a “glass pyramid” before. 
Brown Center plaque
While walking around, I saw the above plaque and to my utter amazement and surprise the Browns of the Brown Center were black folk! Besides Reginald F. Lewis I didn't know there were black folks in Maryland with money like THAT. Not only did they have money, they were philanthropic. That’s what I call giving back! 
Internet photo of the Brown Center 
I'm still proud and amazed at the Brown Center and I have been there about a dozen times for various events.

You can see more of the building at here
You can read more about the Browns here

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

About Your Headshot

Excerpt from pro photographer Joe Henson 4/16/2013

Joe Henson
Having worked in New York City (one of the most actor-concentrated areas in the world) for the past 30 years as a professional headshot photographer, and having photographed over 16,000 clients, I have learned much about what makes the most effective headshots and I’d like to share some of that information with you today! 

[Having seen over several hundred headshots myself, as a director looking for actors, I agree with the below.—Dankwa Brooks]

Make sure that character comes alive in the elements of your headshot. A great photographer acts as a translator, giving visibility to information. Every element of the photo should combine to create the impact and statement of the shot. Let’s start with wardrobe. Use what you wear to help define your type. Your headshot wardrobe shouldn’t feel like a costume, it should be what you normally wear, but tailored to the way it frames your face, works with the palette of the shot, and represents your type. Romantic leads should wear clothes that are attractive, like you might wear out on a date. Bad guys wear dark, that’s just the way it is. Working class characters wear denim or flannel. It’s a language and your photographer should be able to make suggestions and help you prepare.

Once you have the wardrobe, work on expression. As dumb as it sounds, stand in front of a mirror and try some different expressions. Find what looks good on your face, practice, watch the evolution of an expression, find at what point of energy it looks best. Models do this all of the time. Your face is an instrument, learn to play it. Again, your photographer should be able to recognize the expressions that make you look your best and make your character come alive and help capture them at their peak. Big tip – you know the look that you give yourself in the mirror before you go out on the town and you are kind of flirting with yourself? Definitely try to reproduce that look in your session. Years of looking at your face has taught you the combination of minute muscle contractions that create your most attractive face. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, spend more time in front of the mirror. And watch the James Franco section of this amazing New York Times video called 14 Actors Acting. He and it are awesome!

Another element to play with in your session is body language. The physical attitude you present yourself in helps tell the viewer how to perceive you. Again, to the mirror, try looking powerful; what does your body want to do? Try nonchalance; how would you pose? These are all building blocks, and great photographers use them like brush strokes.

Joe Henson is a headshot photographer located in New York City. He also shoots frequently in Boston, Washington DC, various colleges and universities, and at large. You can see his work at 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Project X – Mini Review

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Produced by Todd Phillips
Screenplay by Matt Drake & Michael Bacall

Thomas Mann
Oliver Cooper
Jonathan Daniel Brown

Cinematography by Ken Seng
Editing by Jeff Groth

Release date: March 2, 2012

Summary: Three friends throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves and as the night progresses it spirals out of control.

Mini Review: Despite one flaming ludicrous moment this was a totally, totally fun movie! Filmmaker note: Really great hand held camera work and editing!

I have to give props to director cinematographer Ken Seng, the 40 people listed as "Camera & Electrical" department and editor Jeff Groth.

Principal photography was scheduled to begin on June 14, 2010, in Los Angeles, California on a budget of $12 million. Filming took place over twenty-five nights between 5pm and 5am on the Warner Ranch in Burbank, California. The set contained a faux residential area featuring multiple houses.  
The production decided to film on a set because locating a real neighborhood that could be effectively closed off and which would allow filming throughout the evening and early morning proved difficult. Phillips explained that using a real neighborhood would have also proven difficult because of the fire damage required for the film. Much of the set was destroyed as part of filming. The film was largely shot in chronological sequence as repairing the set damage from a later scene to film an earlier one would have been difficult. Mann described the filming as a "party atmosphere", with New York disc jockey Jesse Marco on set performing music even when the cameras stopped rolling to maintain the energy of the cast and extras. Many of the same extras were brought back for multiple nights of filming, and would continue to party between scenes. Periodic takes of up to 20 minutes were made of just extras dancing. During filming, Burbank police were called to the set concerning noise complaints made by nearby residents. 
Project X was filmed in cinéma vérité style, only displaying the events of the film through the first-person view of the cameraman observing the party, to create the effect of the audience being in attendance at the out of control party. Director Nima Nourizadeh stated that the style allowed the film to seem "real" and "show some of the realities of what kids do".
Cinematographer Ken Seng and Nourizadeh tested twelve different camera systems before choosing the digital-HD Sony F23 video camera, basing their decision on its ability to handle sudden extreme changes in lighting due to natural daylight and strobe lights.  
The film is primarily presented from the perspective of the character Dax and his camera, but Nourizadeh also obtained footage by providing the cast and extras with recording devices such as BlackBerrys and iPhones to capture events occurring outside of the perspective or knowledge of the cameraman. This resulted in hours of unusable footage that had to be observed by Nourizadeh and his team to find segments that could be incorporated into the final film. Nourizadeh stated "when you have real material being shot by real people, it then kind of feels like it is. It is found footage. I hated spending 10 hours looking through bits of flip footage – people didn’t press stop, it’s like in their pockets. But yeah, it was great, man." Other footage was provided from fictional police and news cameras to give a different perspective on the events.—Wikipedia
"Project X was filmed on eight different camera systems. It’s a POV film told by the masses of people who attend the party, which gives it a totally unique point of view on the situation. We also really looked at how best to capture the size of this event and the level of destruction with our resources. For instance, how we could make 200 or so extras look like more than 1,000"
– Cinematographer Ken Seng on filming Project X.

See the full cast and crew of the film here

Commentary: I'm kinda tired of the "found footage" handheld camera movies, but this one was done really well. As you can imagine there was A LOT of stuff going on and the camera crew did a great job at capturing it.

A good related article Found Footage Films Need To Stay Hidden

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Childhood in New York

Actuated by the tweet below and their hashtag I went on a "Twitter Rant" about my own #ChildhoodInNY

New York Subway train in the late 70's/early 80's

Late 70's/early 80's graffitti covered subway train

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Victory with Notorious B.I.G. and some cat named Puff Daddy

Actually the song is "Victory" is a song by Puff Daddy (Now known as "Diddy") that features The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes.  The song Produced by Sean "Puff Daddy/Diddy" Combs and Steven "Stevie J" Jordan also heavily sampled the Bill Conti song "Going the Distance", which featured on the soundtrack to the movie Rocky.

Victory on my iPhone
I’ve always loved this song and listening to gets me HYPED! Jay-Z is said to listen to "Victory," before he takes the stage in huge arenas and I can see why it’s that type of song.

The whole song is great, but I guess as it should be it's actually Puffy's verse that sets the song OFF. His delivery isn't spectacular, but the lyrics coupled with Biggie’s ad libs and the rising horns set that shit OFF!
Puffy’s verse:
Yo, the sun don't shine forever
But as long as it's here then we might as well shine together
Better now than never, business before pleasure
P-Diddy and the Fam, who you know do it better?
Yeah right, no matter what, we air tight
So when you hear somethin, make sure you hear it right
Don't make a ass outta yourself, by assumin
Our music keeps you movin, what are you provin?
You know that I'm two levels above you baby
Hug me baby, I'ma make you love me baby
Talkin crazy ain't gonna get you nuthin but choked
And that jealousy is only gonna leave you broke
So the only thing left now is God for these cats
And BIG you know you too hard for these cats
I'm a wing cause I'm too smart for these cats
While they makin up facts you rakin up plats
This song is all the more poignant because this is one of the last songs that Biggie ever recorded for. Below is an excerpt from my review of the book Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. 

  • Page 239 of 368 of Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. 
Chapter 8: 'You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You'. 

The chapter just stated how the last things Biggie recorded were the guest verses on 'Victory' and 'All About The Benjamins' IMO some the illest rhymes he EVER spit. THIS page starts recounting that fateful night @ the Petersen Automotive Museum. 
— Nov 27, 2011 04:15am 

My review of the Biggie BioPic Notorious here

My review of the Biggie biography Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G. here

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why I'm Probably Through With 'The Walking Dead'

March 2016 update at the bottom! 
Season Three cast of The Walking Dead

Watching it LIVE throughout the season that is. I watched Season Three of The Walking Dead in binges. I watched each Premiere and Finale (Season and Mid-Season) LIVE, but the other episodes I watched maybe two to three at a time and I’m glad I did because the season wasn’t that great.

Michonne (left) and The Governor (right)
The first half of the season the two big main characters The Governor and Michonne were a yawn. The Mid-Season Finale brought out the best of both characters and both got better in the second half of the season. Especially Michonne. The Governor was crazy, but not as menacing as I thought he would be. In the second half of the season Michonne finally got some character development and did more than scowl. In fact I agree with this quote below.
The fleeting glimpse of Michonne in the Season 2 finale had longtime TWD fans (myself included) thrilled that everyone's favorite katana-wielding badass would finally make her entrance onto the show. Though the television Michonne is everything we would expect on the surface -- she is a master chef with the katanas and looks pretty much the same as she did in the comics -- her character has been woefully underwritten. Though Danai Gurira has mastered the art of the silent scowl, Michonne's lack of personality beyond "I'm a loner and could stab you at any moment" has held us back from truly caring about her long-term safety. In the comics, we were treated to a world of backstory. We knew about Michonne's 'pets'. She revealed gradually herself -- though perhaps sparingly -- so that she was more than simply a one-woman terminator, but a character whose past drove her, with deep sorrow that made us root for her as a person, not just a human ginsu. It's one thing to slowly dole out a character's motivations in order to heighten tension and keep things a mystery, but too often Michonne acts like a dope in order to preserve this 'mystique' (like following Merle into a Walker-infested part of the prison just a few episodes after he led a band of governor-appointed redshirts to murder her in the woods, then making no attempt whatsoever to escape). Jason Pinter, The Huffington Post
The Governor? The whole season Merle was more menacing to me than The Governor.

Crazy Rick was Boring Rick. They went a little too long with that storyline. To me these lulls in the storylines are directly attributable to the behind the scenes shuffle.

The first season writing staff consisted of series developer and executive producer Frank Darabont, who wrote/co-wrote four of the six episodes; executive producer Charles H. Eglee; executive producer and creator of the comic book, Robert Kirkman; co-executive producer Jack LoGiudice; consulting producer Adam Fierro; and Glen Mazzara; who all contributed to one episode each.

In July 2011, series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont stepped down from his position as showrunner for the series.It was believed that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series. However, The Hollywood Reporter reported he had been fired over disputes over planned budget cuts and executive meddling. Executive producer Glen Mazzara was then appointed the new showrunner.

After the conclusion of the third season, Glen Mazzara will step down from his position as showrunner and executive producer for the series, in a mutual agreement by both Mazzara and AMC. The press release read, "Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways."Scott Gimple will succeed Mazzara as showrunner for season four,with new writers joining the writing staff, such as Curtis Gwinn, Channing Powell, and Matt Negrete.

So the scorecard is 
Frank Darabont left after Season One during the development of Season Two

Glen Mazzara was then appointed the new showrunner during Season Two and did so all of Season Three then stepped down.

Season Four will have Scott Gimple as the showrunner.

I got Season One for Christmas and rewatched it. At only six episodes and under the direction of Frank Darabont the first season was great!

Season Two, after Darabont left, was mostly a snooze (I went into more detail here) and only seem to gain traction in the very last episodes (I surmise after the new showrunner Glen Mazzara finally gained traction himself)

Season Three had the addition of great characters, but took way too long to develop them. Speculation is that the network (AMC) recognized this and forced Glen Mazzara out. That’s only speculation though.

Season Four we haven’t seen yet, but the show has been all over the place because the people who control it have been all over the place.

Unless this new showrunner Scott Gimple is some outstanding wunderkind I don’t see how the show can possibly get better. I think it will continue to be ok and for that I can watch in a season long binge like I have watched other series like Dexter and Homeland in season binges and I hold them in much higher regard than The Walking Dead.

Not a knock on Gimple's abilities, but for such a popular show to be on its third showrunner in four years makes you wonder about its long-term stewardship.
Jason Pinter, The Huffington Post

Some info from Wikipedia.


The Huffington Post
The Walking Dead Season 3 Finale: 5 Reasons Why It Fell Flat With Fans

MARCH 31, 2016
As we are approaching the Season Six Finale in three days (April 3, 2016) I have to say much credit to Executive Producer Scott Gimple who took over in Season Four (S4) and despite the torrid "super flu" storyline that inhabited the first half of S4 where it seemed like Gimple was trying to gain his footing, the show FINALLY got into its groove near the end of Season 4. 

While like every television show there are some "filler" episodes that are a yawn, Seasons Five and Six show that Gimple and the rest of the writers have finally caught their groove and I'm reall looking forward to the Season Six Finale.