Indie Filmmaking

Rian Johnson

When news broke that Rian Johnson would helm Star Wars: Episode VIII and write a treatment for Episode IX – adding to the numerous Star Wars properties scheduled for screens shortly behind J.J. Abrams’s mystery box – it was almost universally regarded as a solid, promising move to those cautiously optimistic about the rebooting of a galaxy far away. And no doubt, Johnson’s hiring is a very good move for Star Wars, lending the franchise not only the director’s subcultural clout, but also his precise sense of style, passionate knowledge of genre and careful approach to cinematic world-building. His skill should benefit greatly a franchise whose previous incarnation suffered from scant evidence of inspiration or vision. But before seeing a final product, we can only take this news as a gesture of goodwill, or even a reason to be happy for a talented director worthy of admiration and success. Unfortunately, a facet largely missing from conversations about this news is whether a Rian Johnson-led Star Wars will be good for Rian Johnson, especially in a Hollywood that loves courting indie directors but shows questionable regard for their autonomy upon arrival. Marc Webb. Gareth Edwards. Doug Liman. Bryan Singer. At various points during the ‘90s and ‘00s, this list of names would denote the creators behind film festival highlights and limited release word-of-mouth gems. But in 2014, these are the names of the men in the director’s chair for some of the summer’s biggest tentpole titles, the kinds of movies that make or break a fiscal year […]

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As Todd Solondz explains, Dark Horse is a different kind of take on the Judd Apatow celebration of the Manchild. It’s a bit more aggressive, a lot more realistic, and complex in the way that fans have come to expect from the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Palindromes. Set beyond cheerful pop music, the film follows Jordan Gelber, looking a lot like Jeff Garlin, as he attempts to navigate what he views as a cruel, unfair world in the yellow hummer his parents bought for him. He discovers something like love with the depressed Miranda (a differently-named character reprised by Selma Blair from Storytelling), and he struggles (often hilariously) to understand a world shifting around him. Fortunately, Solondz took some time out to discuss his take on later-life childhood, how to respond to fans who laugh at child-rape, and how the indie filmmaking world has changed since the 1990s. Download Episode #135

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This week, on a very special Reject Radio, we talk with the filmmakers behind The Devil Inside about going guerrilla in Vatican City (and responding to negative reviews) and writer Derek Haas (3:10 To Yuma, Wanted) about jumping between screenwriting, short stories, and his “Silver Bear” novel series. Plus, it’s Rob Hunter vs. Robert Fure in the first Movie News Pop Quiz of the season. Let the slap fight commence! Download This Episode

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In 1985, the Graphics Group in LucasFilm‘s Computer Division was on the chopping block. As Robert Sutton relates, George Lucas wasn’t confident that computer animated films had much of a future, and as a result, department heads Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith (two pioneers of extreme importance) were being pressured to fire some of their workers. Instead, they offered up their own names to be culled, which saved the entire division. At least for that moment. It’s unclear what fate might have fallen on the Graphics Group had the Computer Division not been purchased in 1986 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for a tidy $5m. Of course, we know this department by another name: Pixar. Jobs put his money down on a company he believed in, and the result stands currently as 26 Academy Awards, an absurd amount of box office money, a legion of fans worldwide and nearly complete animation dominance in the movie world. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar at an evaluated worth of $7.4b, making Jobs the largest Disney shareholder. He is stepping down as Apple’s CEO today, and even though it’s hard to say what kind of effect that might have on the film world, Jobs’s legacy already extends far beyond Pixar and beyond The Mouse.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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