Saturday, 25 June 2011

Phil Bloom & Michael Mann's Luck

This blew my mind. Here I was, posting earlier a short by Phil Bloom, which shows the incredible capacity of a DSLR to shoot almost cinema grade imagery with such visual impact and I thought it had nothing to do with Michael Mann, other than perhaps some tenuous shared aesthetic. Suddenly I am discovering a superb short he has done with a Canon 7D on the subject of horse racing no less. Not only that, but some footage comes from the Santa Anita racetrack. It doesn't stop there...  he posted his short film on his blog in March 2010, which is around the time when Michael Mann shot his pilot - which I think commenced shooting in April 2010. It all seems a remarkable coincidence.

It is worth noting that Phil Bloom was invited to George Lucas' famed Skywalker Ranch two years ago, commissioned to show via a short film the cinematic capabilities of DSLR shooting. He met George and other prominent filmmakers, not least Quentin Tarantino who I think just happened to be there. So, Phil Bloom is not beyond the notice of the movie industry's elite.

So what am I surmising? Nothing really, except if there is no link of consequence between Phil Bloom and Michael Mann's Luck, then what this does show is how a shared aesthetic can cosmically collide in time and space.

Since discovering Phil Bloom I am already inspired and looking to rent some DSLR equipment to shoot a short promotional for my work. I am desperate to get back into image making since laying down my large format camera over ten years ago. I ache for it. I am presently a book publisher. Michael Mann continues to push me back into image and story making. For me, images and words are now colliding. So when I found Phil Bloom's site I saw how budget film making came a step closer to fulfilling my heart desire to access this previously elitist world.

So isn't it cosmic that these two influential men almost crossed paths with each other, possibly accidentally, in a stage that I am watching so closely as I seek to find my own path down this road of visual and storytelling artistry.

You see, I feel Phil Bloom's shooting style is a study of character. He has a way of accessing people on the street... Michael Mann is also attentive to character. It is this empathy I pick up, and its so powerful that suddenly I see this crossing of paths. Understanding music is also just as vital, and both are intuitive with this medium too.

See Phil Bloom's horse racing short  - the almost mystical quality of the shots, and the character studies that Mann is now portraying in Luck. See the extraordinary colours in the horse as it is washed. It is all very Mann-esque.

Santa Anita attracts lots of film makers. We know that. And I believe Phil was doing a DSLR workshop at the time. But nevertheless, isn't this amazing? These Bloom shots could be out of "Luck".

So Phil, so Michael... maybe you two ought to hook up?

See Phil's other DSLR films here.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Making of Michael Mann's 'Ali'

For as long as it is allowed on YouTube, here is "The Making of Ali" behind the scenes footage. All three parts here for your convenience, especially if you don't own the DVD.

Lisa Gerrard interview with Michael Mann mention

Here is a recent interview with Lisa Gerrard, the powerful voice behind some of Michael Mann's best known scores. Click here for full interview.

After Dead Can Dance, what was it that drove you into composing for the moving image? 
Brendan and I were working on an album, which followed “Spirit Chaser” and I had done some things for Baraka ) and also with Graham Ravel and tried my hand at being a singer whilst he wanted five singers. Yet because of the style I was singing in I was able to accommodate him in a fashion, for what he required for this film. I realised at that stage that I was actually able to do this and when Michael Mann contacted me I thought well I could sing for people that know how to compose music for film but I wouldn’t know how to score the music.
Then Michael contacted me and stated he had used my pieces in “Heat” and that he’d listened to some work that I had been doing on my Solo album, and stated he wanted that energy in his film. I said I don’t film score, but I could help him with some singing but that I didn’t write music. Michael than said all I know is that I’ve got this movie I need to make and I need you to write music in three days.
So he rebuilt my studio and I thought how exciting! Michael stated he would get me some help; some great editors and that he would help me. I then stated to my friend at the time Pieter Burke we had already recorded “Duality” together) and said to him do you want to do this thing and he said sure why not. So we took off together and I though if at least Pieter is there we will be able to nut it out together and figure out what to do. So we basically took off and went to Los Angeles and wrote some pieces together for the film, which Michael really liked. In that period of time which didn’t end of being three days but instead a few months.
We ended up going over and spending the next four or five months writing there and that was for the film “The Insider”. Suddenly we were getting nominate for Golden Globe awards, which I consequently had never heard of – no one believed at the time (and so I made sure I was very quite about it). It wasn’t our area or a line that we would have followed. So having not being at all interested in Hollywood films it was not something we would have really known about.
From that point on, other people in the industry started to get excited by the work we had done with “The Insider” and Hanns Zimmer contacted me he wanted me to do Gladiator – and I said I would love to come over and try some things. Then Ali, and then I supposed it had really started to take off.
It wasn’t by design; in fact I still to this day do not know how I arrived. But it is amazing the knowledge you pick up, especially working with Michael Mann – its like going to University, he teaches you so much about what and what NOT to do because he doesn’t like generic film scores. So he created a completely different line, which could facilitate what I was doing.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Injection: Hans Zimmer

This should be in a Michael Mann movie... but... it isn't. It is the extraordinarily beautiful "Injection" by Hans Zimmer. The music deserves a better title. But inject yourself now in this spine tingling music and let it rip open your soul, pour in and inspire you to explode with something creative today. This music has really touched me today. Get your iPod and download it now.

I actually thought this music worked brilliantly in Mission Impossible II. How this music was conceptualised for that violent scene in slow motion was genius. I can only guess it was Hans Zimmer who thought this slow building crescendo would work with bullets flying around!

Tell me... did this music stir your soul? Check your pulse if it didn't.

Phil Bloom

Sony F3... yummy.
I accidentally came across Phil bloom as I began to research DSLRs as movie making tools. I now realize he has become an unexpected guru of the DSLR video world. I can understand why... not only does he know his stuff, he actually knows how to create beautiful imagery and meaningful tests that real world people can understand and visually see. To cap it all, he seems remarkably down to earth. I have time and respect for Phil Bloom.

If you saw an earlier post you read I was taking baby steps in looking at the Canon 7D for video. It still looks great for a low budget job. But as we all know, the Canon 5D MK ii is what us mortals dream about... well, that was until I saw the Sony F3! Phil Bloom brilliantly shows us why the F3 is such a gorgeous camera. Even on these web clips you can see the F3 blows away the Sony FS100 and MK ii in quality. It is simply stunning in image quality. Should be at over $20,000 a pop! But is the extra quality worth the extra? Only you, your project and your wallet will know. For me, I can't even afford a Canon 7D. But as a former large format professional landscape photographer, I know quality when I see it.

Check out Phil Bloom's site. It is bloomin good. Would love to do his London workshop this July...

Here is a comparison test Bloom did between the Sony F3, Sony FS100 and Canon 5D Mark ii. The low light tests on his father are stunning.

AF100 vs F3 vs FS100 Part 1: The Real World from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Another Michael Mann tribute compilation

Found this as a featured YouTube video - yet another Michael Mann tribute - and why not? If I say this video ends (suitably?) with a scene from Heat you will have completely the wrong one in your mind! Watch to the end to find out if you guessed right.

The tribute is poor in picture quality, but actually is well edited to the music (which wouldn't be my choice), though slightly lazy in places, which can be easily forgiven for the sheer length and number of clips. Does tend to focus on the violence aspect. Always fun to pick out favourite scenes.

Film directors [Michael Mann] are embracing TV

A good article from one of my favourite sources, the LA Times - quality writing and information.
Film directors are embracing TV
Then a new HBO script, set in the world of horse racing and penned by David Milch ("Deadwood," "NYPD Blue"), landed on Mann's desk. "I really didn't want to get back into television, but the script was just so damn good," Mann said of the series "Luck," which stars Dustin Hoffman and will air on HBO next year. "It was one of the best things anyone has ever given me to direct."
Read the full article here.

Michael Rooker on Michael Mann's L.A. Takedown & Heat

Michael Rooker
I noticed that an early role of yours was in the Michael Mann’s TV movie L.A. Take Down, which he later remade as Heat. I was curious what you though of Heat when you eventually saw it since its shockingly similar to the original?
Oh my God! You know that was a case where from the studio’s standpoint, they didn’t want any actors from the original. I was wondering why I wasn’t even able to see Michael. I couldn’t get an audition for Heat. And then I got the script and realized why. It was the same exact script, word for word, as the TV version. So, I was like, “OK I get it now. He doesn’t want anyone to know that it was a TV pilot and a failed one at that.” So I don’t blame him for trying to keep it under wraps. With the names that they had in the cast, I’m sure those guys didn’t know that it was a failed TV pilot when they decided to do it. But that’s not saying that it wasn’t good material. I would have loved to work with Michael again on that. Was it something I said? No, it was something I’d done. I was in the original. So nope, couldn’t do it.