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With the Oscars round the corner, we’re delving into Film: A Very Short Introduction. Here’s an extract from Chapter 3 of Michael Wood’s book. In this extract he looks at the industry and the role of the moviegoer.
Film began as a very small business, a dramatic invention but a tiny piece of the world of entertainment. It was an act among others in a variety show. Very soon, though, there were shows composed only of films, and there were special places for their showing. A cinema called the Nickleodeon opened in Pittsburgh in 1905, and by 1907 there were 4,000 such places in the United States. Something resembling an industry developed in France, Italy, England, and Germany too, and audiences grew and grew across the world. Studios were born. Pathé and Gaumont in France; UFA in Germany; Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount in the USA. Hollywood itself, a small Californian town surrounded by orange groves, became a movie settlement because of its steady weather (and because California was thought to be far enough away from the lawsuits that rained down on experimenters and investors in New York). Something like the contours of later patterns of film-making began to form. Stars began to glitter. And above all, money began to gleam.
A whole support system blossomed: publicity machinery, fan magazines, prizes, record-kepping. Box-office results became the equivalent of sporting scores, or world championship boxing.
Avatar (2009) is the largest grossing picture ever made, unless we adjust for inflation, in which case the title goes to Gone with the Wind (1939), and Avatar moves to fourteenth place. The American Academy of Moton Pictures awarded its first Oscars in 1929, and has awarded them every year since. Programmes developed from sets of short films to single feature films plus supporting entries; and from there to the two film diet that was standard fare for so long. By 1929, 90 million cinema tickets were sold each week in America, with figures proportionally similar elsewhere. There were ups and downs during the Depression and the Second World War, but the figure had reached one hundred million by 1946. By 1955, however, the number was down to 46 million, not a whole lot more than the 40 million or so of 1922. Movie-houses, of which a little more later, rose and fell, naturally enough, to the same rhythm: there were 20,000 in America in 1947 and 11,000 in 1959.
Programmes often changed midweek, and shows were continuous, so you could come in at the middle of a film and stay till you got the middle again. Hence the now almost unintelligible phrase “This is where we came in”. There is a remarkable piece by the humorist Robert Benchley about a game he liked to play. Arriving, say, twenty minutes into a film, he would give himself five minutes to reconstruct the plot so far. Then he would interpret everything that followed in the light of his reconstruction. He would stay on to see how close he was – or pretend to see. He claimed many movies were improved by his method.
Theories of the Seventh Art arose, as well as plenty of attacks of the mindlessness of moviegoers. It was in reaction to one such attack that Walter Benjamin devloped an important piece of the argument of his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” (various versions between 1935 and 1939). The French novelist George Duhamel had included an onslaught on cinema in his witty and gloomy book on America, Scénes de la vie future (1930). The relevant chapter is titled ‘cinematographic interlude or the entertainment of the free citizen’, and within the text, the cinema is called, in the same mode of a grand irony, a sanctury, a temple, an abyss of forgetfulness, and the cave of the monster. Duhamel says that film ‘requires no kind of effort’ and ‘presupposes no capacity for consecutive thought’, ‘aucune suite dans les idées.’ Benjamin agrees that film audiences are distracted but claims that there are forms of distraction that may function as localized, medium-specific attention. ‘Even the distracted person’ he says, thinking of the moviegoer, ‘can form habits. ‘The audience’ he adds, ‘is an examiner, but a distracted one’.
Michael Wood is Charles Barnwell Start Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University and the author of Film: A Very Short Introduction. You can see Michael talking about film.
The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday! Subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via emailor RSS.
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Image credit: By Coyau. CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0. via Wikimedia Commons
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Thanks to everyone who helped kick off the Austenland DVD/Blu-Ray release! And for all the happy notes expressing love for the movie.
I went to three Sundance screenings last year, and afterward people would come up to me to gush about the movie. The women all seemed pretty certain that they were going to love it, and unsurprised when that turned out to be the case. But the men were astounded. I had at least 20 conversations like this.
MAN: I loved that movie.
Me: Thank you!
MAN: No, you don't understand. I loved that movie. Like I laughed through the entire thing.
ME: That's awesome, thanks so much!
MAN: No, you DON'T UNDERSTAND. I LOVED THAT MOVIE. I don't laugh like that ever. And it was supposed to be a chick movie. And I laughed so hard I was crying. Like it was actually honestly one of the funniest movies I've ever seen in my entire life!
And he stares at me, eyes wide, willing me to understand that this is a shocking outcome that I really really need to understand.
And still months later I kept meeting people who saw Austenland at Sundance, and what they want to tell me is. 1. they loved it, and 2. their husband loved it so so much and can't stop talking about how unbelievably funny it was.
I think part of the shock comes from the costumes. Some of these men were not fans of the period dramas they'd been dragged to in the past and they're expecting that again, and when it turns out they laugh and thoroughly enjoy the movie, their minds are so blown they can't quite recover.
Jerusha and I from the beginning thought the movie would work on two levels: as a love letter to Austen fans like ourselves and a love letter to those who think Austen fans are funny.
And thanks to all who are buying the movie or checking it out from the library and not pirating it. I found this exchange on tumblr recently, and I really appreciate the person who runs this tumblr site for their thoughtful, kind response.
"Do you have a link to watch Austenland online??" Asked by Anonymous
Austenland Movie Fans tumblr: "You guys realize that watching movies online is stealing right? Believe me I understand the desire to watch things now, I live in America and love a lot of British shows. But rather than going and finding them online illegally I wait. Why because I want more shows like those. I want to say, yes I like this can we please get more. Don’t steal from what you love guys in the end you really end up robbing yourself."
Anonymous: "You realize how elitist and rude it is to tell people not to watch things online? Some people can't afford to go see a movie in theatres, some people will never have access to this movie at all."
Austenland Movie Fans tumblr: "I completely understand not everyone can afford to go see movies in the theater. But they can wait to rent the movie or borrow it from the library. It is not just rich actors you are stealing from, what about the make up artists, caterers, camera guys, and accountants. Stealing is stealing no matter how you try and justify it."
When I was in high school/college I knew people who worked parttime jobs just to earn money to buy music CDs. Now I hear of high school/college-age people who have never purchased an album (or even a single) in their lives. Why buy it when you can download it (illegally) for free? I wonder if those people have noticed how many groups produced one or two albums and nothing after. Because they didn't make enough money making music. Because people stole the music.
I find the argument interesting: "some people can't afford to see a movie." Some people. This person? I've had people argue with me that they pirate ebooks all they want because "what about poor children who can't afford to buy books and don't have access to a library?" Sure, if you're a poor child with no access to a library (but somehow access to a computer, internet, ereader, digital music player) then you get a free pass.
But for the rest of us, please don't be a user. Please support the arts. We do not have the right to have everything we want when we want it for free. We can be a part of art creation by supporting the stuff we like with our purchase money or library patronage. All the cool kids are doing it.
Tomorrow Austenland releases on DVD & Blu-Ray! And it's already available for digital download from iTunes and Amazon. To celebrate, on Friday authors and bloggers and book fiends across the country held Jane's Night In parties. Here are a few photos from my party and others, and check my twitter feed for posts.
My friend put framed
#Austenland photos out. She found one with me in the background!
Ally Carter and Jennifery Lynn Barnes served high tea for their party. Check out the spread!
Tea service ready! My friend did this. I swear I don't decorate with my own books.
Becca Fitzpatrick's party was comfy cozy pajama style. These ladies are ready to watch the flick.
We had a special guest at our party. (not me)
Decor musts: Jane Austen, JJ Feild, and taxidermy birds.
Keeping our pinkies up.
Thats-normal.com is ready for their movie party.
libba bray 2nd time watching
#AUSTENLAND & I laughed just as much as the 1st time. DVD comes out 2/11, people. Tallyho!
Ally Carter Can honestly say that
@AustenlandMovie is even better the 2nd time! Laughing so hard
Several bloggers held a google hangout with Stephenie Meyer about the movie. Tiff from Thats-normal.com took a selfie with her.
Britten Amber Harmon Stephenie Meyer says one of her favorite memories filming
#Austenland was the play until 4 or 5am laughing their guys out.
Director Jerusha Hess with Erica Elmer at their fancy dress-up party!
And they had gentlemen callers
At Margaret Stohl's and Melissa de la Cruz's party in LA.
#austenland bingo with Sweethearts! I think I'm winning!
(check out the Austenland pinterest page to download these cute Austenland bingo cards plus other party ideas)
Mundie Moms LOVE this movie! You guys have to pick it up on Tuesday! It's HILARIOUS!
Becca Fitzpatrick party wrapping up. Had so much fun. Everyone agreed -
#Austenland is best viewed in a group. The more laughter, the merrier.
Margaret Stohl So fun! Hate to wrap up
#janesnightin #austenlandmovie - so proud of you @haleshannon - DVD out on Monday!!!
Ally Carter Once again, I ADORED
@AustenlandMovie! So proud of @haleshannon & the team who made it!
Jennifer Lynn BarnesJust got a call from my brother. He is watching
@AustenlandMovie. Sis-in-law loved it so much she went home after girls' night & bought it!
Thank you so much to everyone who hosted and attended the parties and everyone who is helping get the word out about the video release. Check my twitter feed for chanced to win a DVD this week, and enjoy the movie. Tallyho!
Austenland releases on DVD/Blu-Ray/VOD on February 11!
To help get the word out, several people active in social media, including myself, have been asked to host a pre-viewing party of the video on Friday, February 7 and live tweet the event. Follow me on twitter or check back here next Monday for a post about the event.
Here are some YA authors who are hosting their own Jane's Night In parties all over the US:
Jerusha Hess - Austenland director, tweeting from the official movie account
Margaret Stohl - author of Icons and co-author of Beautiful Creatures
Melissa de la Cruz - author of Witches of East End, Frozen, Blue Bloods
Becca Fitzpatrick - author of the Hush, Hush saga
Ally Carter - author of the Gallager Girls and Heist Society series
Jennifer Lynn Barnes - author of The Naturals and Raised by Wolves
Libba Bray - author of The Diviners, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine
Barry Goldblatt - my illustrious agent
Check out these fabulous bloggers, readers, and movie watchers who will be hosting and tweeting:
A Day in Motherhood
Page to Premiere
Reel Life With Jane
Friday evening, check twitter for #JanesNightIn or #Austenland and join us for some laughs, photos, and vicarious festivity!
And a special plea: please don't pirate this movie. If you can't afford to buy or rent it, please request it from your library, thereby supporting the filmmakers and your local library. Hollywood measures success by $ made, and if movies like this don't make money, it makes it harder for other movies like this or other movies by women to get made.
Sony Pictures Classics announced Austenland DVD and Blu-Ray release in the USA on February 11, 2014. I know many of you are disappointed and were hoping it would come out in time for Christmas. But hey, pre-orders make great presents too! (sort of? Not quite as cool as a DVD in hand but almost?) The good news why it isn't coming out earlier is because it's still in some theaters. Thank you for coming out to see our flick.
You can pre-order the video now and plan on the best Valentine's Day ever. I know I will.
In the meantime, those of you who have seen it, would you mind giving a one sentence blurb of what you thought about it in the comments? I'll use some of your blurbs in a post about the DVD release in February.
By: Little Willow
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book to film adaptations
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So, people are complex. You just never know how they will respond. When I published Austenland in 2007, I was caught totally off guard by the first "you should be ashamed of this smut" email I received. I honestly didn't consider Austenland a trashy book. But many did. Here's my favorite of the angry emails:
I just read Austenland and was so disappointed. I loved your other books and had come to trust you to keep things clean. I bought Austenland on Amazon for my teenaged daughter for Christmas because she is a huge Pride & Prejudice fan. I'm glad I decided to read it first, because it would have totally traumatized her. I buried it [in] my kitchen trash can under a pile of wilted celery, where it should feel right at home.
I don't want to mock the writer of that email. Everyone has the right to their own reaction (though I do wonder sometimes what motivates the need to email the author your negative reaction). Still, I didn't see this coming.
The most surprising response I received for Austenland (and really any of my books) was:
"The way she mocks Austen fans is just insulting."
Not just one such response but many. I never anticipated that fellow Austen fans would think that I was insulting them. After all, I am one. It's one thing to love Austen's novels (which I do) but at the point I became obsessed with the DVDs of Pride & Prejudice, I thought, this is getting funny. Isn't it okay to laugh at this? At my weird obsession? And how I have the tendency to fall in love with fictional characters? Can we still be amused by a thing and love it at the same time?
Once the movie came out, that reaction only magnified. Many people thought we were mocking Jane Austen readers in an ugly and mean-spirited way. I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me.
Of course not everyone responded that way, and it was lovely and reassuring that many people (Austen fans and non-readers) let us know how much they loved what we did. I read one simply gorgeous review of the movie from a major online magazine, and was so relieved that at least someone got it! After the writer and I corresponded a bit. She wrote:
"I'm so grateful for writers who are doing work that's full of love and warmth and isn't cynical. I get enough of that."
Yay! Not everyone misunderstood! I forwarded the note on to the director, Jerusha Hess, and she responded, "Yes! It was full of love."
If we made it in love, full of warmth and fondness and well-intentioned humor, how did it come across to many as just the opposite?
I don't know, but I've observed some things about the Hesses' movies. Some people who saw Napoleon Dynamite thought that the movie was mocking a rural west culture, and yet I've never met anyone from Utah or Idaho that felt mocked by the movie. I read reviews of Nacho Libre (reviews written by white US guys) who thought the movie was mocking Mexicans, and yet the movie did great in Mexico and was largely received with love and laughter. I have no doubt that there was a loving and celebratory spirit in the Hesses making of these movies.
In those cases, it was outsiders who feared the mockery, while those supposedly being mocked got the humor and laughed with the movie. Yet with Austenland, many of the insiders--the Janeites--felt unkindly mocked. I don't know why this happened.
Christopher Guest movies also come to mind. I don't know if certain musicians felt mocked by Spinal Tap. I heard that some dog showers did by Best In Show, which surprised me, because as an outsider it seemed clear to me that the movie wasn't trying to make fun of all dog owners and dog shows, nor to definitively define what such people must all be like. I grew up doing community theater, and everyone I know in theater absolutely loves Waiting for Guffman. We didn't feel mocked by it. We felt lovingly tributed and enjoyed the inside jokes only we would get, laughing at the absurdities we saw in ourselves and in our theater world as well as laughing at the parts the movie exaggerated for humor. I came away from it not thinking, "Yeah, community theater is lame," but "That was hysterical! I love theater!"
And I guess that's how I assumed my fellow Jane Austen lovers would react too. If anyone might misunderstand and think we were mocking Janeites, it would be the outsiders, certainly not the insiders, certainly not those who loved Austen--her humor, her snark, her insight.
I do know we were walking that fine and wonderful line: to be the thing and make light of the thing at the same time. That's the only way to do a loving comedy. And there is a chance it can be misunderstood. I just didn't think it would, not by my own peeps.
Some people couldn't go there with us, and that's okay. Art is personal. But the accusations of mean-spiritedness or malicious intent are totally, completely wrong. Every actor, every producer and writer and all involved had a fondness for the characters and the story and wanted to make something that made us laugh, made us swoon, made us smile, in the very best spirit possible.
I don't know why it failed some people, but it is a potent reminder that nothing is more perilous than comedy.
Suicide Girls. Blackheart Burlesque troupe.
There is something really hot about a chick with black lipstick and tattoos. I’m fake punk; I know this. I wear dark lipstick, makeup, and tight t-shirts with snarky sayings. However, I also clean up well and look very nice in a white dress. Oh, and I only have one tattoo. I couldn’t be a Suicide Girl, but oh, how I would like to be!
I attended Suicide Girls’ Blackheart Burlesque at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Initially, I bought tickets because I love burlesque. Only secondarily did I look into the Suicide Girls, although as I understand it, the majority of my male friends knew about them already.
Suicide Girls is a website, created by two Portsmouth, Oregon, folk who wanted to see “hot punk rock girls naked.” To be a member of the website, you must pay, and it’s become an international phenomenon, now based in Los Angeles. There are books by the Suicide Girls, as well as movies and a tour.
Priddy Suicide. Pardon my drooling.
The Blackheart Burlesque show is a little different than the tour, because not all Suicide Girls can dance—and the BB girls … they could freakin’ dance. The lead cast of the show was only four ladies. I could have gone for more, but the four did not disappoint—Priddy Suicide, in particular. Talk about a hot chick. Yipes. Each of the four women was different: different colored hair, different tattoos, different body shapes. What did they have in common? Severe confidence and an edge.
The Blackheart Burlesque was very much about nerd love. Since I’m a nerd, I appreciated all the cultural references. This wasn’t a stupid strip tease. This was everything from The Big Lebowski to Planet of the Apes to Star Wars. True, Star Wars in g-strings with duct tape over nipples—but Star Wars!
I was about six rows back, but the front couple rows got covered in everything from fake blood to whiskey. And how could I forget the birthday cake? At one point, the MC covered her breasts in birthday cake and let the audience lick frosting from her fingers. Priddy Suicide even poured whiskey into her own mouth and then spit liquor into the awaiting, open mouths of her fans.
Half the troupe was British (hot). But of course, Priddy, the whiskey-chugging, foul-mouthed, ample-breasted redhead, was American. Thank you.
The Suicide Girls are not about dotting letters with little hearts. They aren’t about being sweet or shy. Although burlesque is the art of tease, this was teasing with a fist to the head. Whenever you open a show with Bjork’s “Army of Me,” what can you expect? Nothing less than one kick ass performance from four kick ass women who chew men up and spit ‘em out like bad sushi.
The Suicide Girls do Star Trek.
Brad vs. Brad.
My father has always considered me shallow. (Like he can talk; he used to judge college girls’ outfits from my apartment window in Athens, Ohio.) Daddy’s right, though; I am shallow. Look at my husband. However, I would like to point out to my father and to all of you … I’m not the only one.
This came to my attention most recently thanks to a box office flop.
The Fifth Estate is the fictional-based-on-fact account of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s rise and fall as conspiracy theorist and (arguably) American terrorist. According to the Huffington Post, this film, released October 31st, is “the biggest wide-release flop of 2013.” The director blames Assange and his underlying omnipresence in the media.
I blame a blond wig, brown contacts, and a funky accent.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch—my current Hollywood crush. (I like to keep one around; gives a girl something to look forward to in movie theaters.) Cumberbatch—or “Benny,” as I call him—is best known for the BBC’s Sherlock and his role as Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness. He’s also best known for black hair, icy blue eyes, and a voice that Britain’s Times likens to “a jaguar hiding in a cello.”
Now. Take these things away from Benny, and what do you have? A lanky, odd-looking, British nerd who can act.
How is this even possibly the same dude?
This was The Fifth Estate’s mistake. To play Julian Assange, Benny had to look like the guy—and he did! In spades! But as Cumberbitches (Benny fans), we don’t want to see him looking like Julian Assange. We want to see him looking HOT. Ergo film floppage.
Now, let’s discuss Little Favour.
Little Favour is a short film, released today on iTunes, starring dear Benny. In the film, Cumberbatch has:
- Shaggy, black hair.
- Bright blue eyeballs.
- A DEEP … BRITISH … VOICE!
So far, word of the short firm has spread like a computer virus on all forms of social media. According to Empire Online, it is the highest selling short in iTunes history, even before its release!
Every Cumberbitch the world over probably has a copy already, and he/she has watched the short film a dozen times. (Well, er, I have, at least.) Anyway, Little Favour made me realize how shallow I/we really are! I mean, we say we love this guy, but we won’t go see him in a blond wig, will we?
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to admit to prodigious superficiality. Additional examples:
- Brad Pitt: Saw him immediately in Seven; skipped Twelve Monkeys.
- Val Kilmer: worshipped him in Tombstone; had no interest once he got fat.
- Ryan Reynolds: will watch even bad, bad movies just because he’s in them.
I don’t want you to think I feel bad about this. I don’t. I’m very proud that my husband has earned the nickname “Hottie McHotterson” amidst my girlfriends. I acknowledge my Benedict board on Pinterest almost solely includes pictures of him with black hair (he’s actually a ginger). I am shallow, and well … I’m okay with it. But I’m not alone.
Why, Val? WHY???!
So this August, about five times in the same week, people in my neighborhood asked me, "So how's it going" as if asking about something specific. I answered, "It's tough with twins! I've cleaned up so much pee this week, but I think they're kind of getting it. Sort of."
I began to notice a slightly bewildered expression in response and it occurred to me that maybe "how's it going?" wasn't in reference to potty training my twins. The fifth time, the woman said, "No I meant the movie." You know, that movie that was made from my book that was currently in theaters. I know that should have been such a big deal that it was constantly in the forefront of my mind, but honestly, the potty training was so much huger in my life than the movie I was barely thinking about the latter.
Maybe that's disappointing. Maybe people would be happier if the truth was that my life was transformed and all was glamour and riches and excitement now. At a Q&A after one screening of Austenland, someone asked me, "How has having a movie made from your book changed your life?" And I couldn't think of any ways.
It's a legitimate question, and it reminded me that before all this, I would have assumed that such a thing would be life changing.
Things having a movie made from my book has not done:
Not made me rich
Not changed my career
Not changed my daily life
Not changed how the people in my life see or relate to me
Not changed how I write
Not opened doors to me that were previously closed
What has it changed? Well, it was an experience. I had a fantastic experience. And life is all about experiences. Living, seeing things, meeting people. That's cool. In the way that a great time at summer camp is cool. I got to co-write a script with Jerusha Hess, who has become a friend, and meet other cool people who are now friends, and friendship is something precious to me. I got to be on set and watch a movie get made. I got to attend screenings and hear people laugh and sigh at lines I wrote and characters I created. That was really, really amazing and something I will always treasure. But it hasn't changed my daily life. I'm still stressed about a writing deadline, I never seem to have enough time to clean my house and it gets dirty and cluttered again 10 minutes after I do clean it, my kids have struggles that I ache to see them go through, I don't workout enough/cook enough/clean enough, etc., it seems like someone in the family is always upset, and I'm constantly trying to find that writer/mother balance and do my best and not feel like I'm failing in everything. Normal life.
Please know I'm not complaining. I LOVE my life. As crazy and chaotic and unchanged as it is.
I say all this because a decade ago I read an article that changed my perspective. One writer was lamenting always being a mid-lister. Her friend writer hit the New York Times best seller list, and she told her something like, "My mom's still disappointed in me, I haven't lost any weight, my rent is still going up, I don't have a boyfriend. Don't waste your life pining for bestsellerdom. It doesn't change anything real." I read that and went--Oh! 'Cause I'd had this weird, magical idea that becoming a best selling writer would somehow change everything.
Having a movie made from my book hasn't transformed me fundamentally as a person or changed my life. I'm a mom and a wife and a sister and a daughter and a friend and I write books. And I saw a movie based on one of those books. That was very cool, but nothing really important has changed.
It makes me realize that this is life--what I have right now. Not wishing for something huge and marvelous and magical that might or might not happen in the future. Now. Scraping together spaghetti for dinner, cleaning more pee off the floor, snuggling in a chair and reading to my kids, almost managing to clean off the kitchen counter before I collapse into bed. This is it. This is the magic.
Thank you all for supporting the movie. 11 weeks later it's still in some theaters! I believe it's done really well for a small, indie movie, and I know that's due to so many of you making an effort to go see it. It doesn't matter that it's not life changing. I'm so proud of what we made and had a lot of cool experiences doing it, and hopefully as it continues to do better than expected, maybe the Hollywood number crunchers will give another female filmmaker a break in the future. Now if they could just do something about all this peeing...
Attention filmmakers (and readers!)
Want to show the world what you can do AND spread the love of a good book? St. Martin's Press and Talenthouse are accepting 1-minute trailers for Christopher Golden's upcoming book SNOWBLIND. All of the submitted videos will be seen by some pretty cool folks - legitimate directors, writers, producers - and one will be selected to be the book's official trailer.
If you are interested, you should enter.
If you know other filmmakers - be they amateur or professional, adults or teens or kids - please let them know about this incredible opportunity.
Trust me. I've read the book, and it's amazing. With edge-of-your-seat tension and jaw-dropping twists, Christopher Golden's Snowblind blizzard is going to blow you away!
So what are you waiting for? Spread the word, gather a production team, and make that mini-movie!
Here's the official press release and all of the pertinent information. Good luck!
St. Martin's Press and Talenthouse invite amateur filmmakers to produce a short horror book trailer for SNOWBLIND, the highly anticipated novel by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden. The winning trailer will be heavily promoted and used as part of an integrated marketing and advertising campaign for the book and will also receive a consultation with one or more of the judges to discuss their work.
Helping St. Martin's Press judge the entries are:
FRANK DARABONT (Director, Writer, Producer) - The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, Mob City, among others.
DAVID S. GOYER (Writer, Director, Producer) - Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Blade, Da Vinci's Demons, among others.
DON MURPHY (Producer) - Transformers 1-4, Real Steel, Natural Born Killers, Vampire Academy, among others.
STEPHEN SUSCO (Writer, Producer) - The Grudge 1 and 2, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Red, High School, among others.
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN (Author, Editor) - Of Saints and Shadows, Baltimore, Tin Men, The New Dead, among others.
For more information on how to enter:
SNOWBLIND trailer competition guidelines
Video should be a maximum length of 1 minute.
The end shot of the trailer must provide the publication information for the book, including title, book image provided, and the publication information:
January 21, 2014
Wherever Books Are Sold
Choose one of the three options listed below:
1) Create a scene from pages 28 - 30 featuring Cherie, her dog, and the iceman. (See the book excerpt linked below.)
2) Create a scene from pages 48 - 51 featuring Isaac looking out the window at the ice men dancing in the snow in his yard, with Jake not believing him. (See the book excerpt linked below.)
3) Entrants are invited to create their own scenes or images inspired by a provided sample from Snowblind. These original trailers should capture the tone of the novel. For example:
- A woman sitting on her bed with the covers drawn up, hugging her knees, staring in terror at the window with the wind rattling the glass, snow piling up against it or pelting it.
- A woman smoking a cigarette outside a bar at night with the snow falling. She hears a sound, turns, looks terrified.
- An anchor reads the news about the blizzard and what happened twelve years ago and then the power goes out and you hear the whistling of the wind as snow whips across the screen, perhaps suggesting the image of evil features looking in.
The presence of the snowstorm/blizzard may suggest digital effects but they are not required.
Entrants may devise their own approach to representing the ominous presence of the storm and the fear of the townspeople.
Judges will consider many factors, including imagination and ingenuity.
Direct links to all of the necessary ingredients:
SNOWBLIND Novel Excerpt
About the book
St Martin's PRESS Logo
3D Book Shot SNOWBLIND
Judging Panel Official Bios
Barnes and Noble
In August, I wrote a post, asking you to see Austenland in the theater, if possible, in order to show Hollywood that women-made-and-led movies can be profitable. At the time, squeetuser Melanie Nichols made a comment I thought was worth discussing, though I thought I'd wait a bit first so the focus could be less on any particular movie and more general. From Melanie:
"I have to say that I love Austenland and I'm dying to see it (I'm hoping it'll make it's way up to Alaska!), but without wanting to sound rude, I don't agree with this post. I don't mean this as a criticism. I read this post and really wanted to take a moment to look at it from a different angle.
"In essence, you're saying that Hollywood ignores or downgrades movies that are female centric, yet you're pleading with us to see it because of that reason. It seems a bit hypocritical. If the issue is sexism, the answer isn't to do the same in reverse.
"You ask us to go see your movie and City of Bones, not because they have compelling plots, they're entertaining, or well made. You ask us to go because they're about women and written by women...
"I don't want this to sound overly critical, but as a woman I dislike the "girl power!" attitude. It shouldn't matter the gender of the actors, characters, writers, directors, etc. I am a woman. It's a huge part of who I am and I love being one, but it rankles to be compartmentalized by my gender for good or bad. I'm publishing my first novel in the next few months and I don't want people buying it because they want to read something from a female author. I want readers who enjoy the product."
Thanks for this, Melanie, and for your kind words too! *smooch* I think you bring up very valid points. (The term "girl power" also makes me shudder--no offense to those who love it. Power on!) I totally get what you’re saying about the hypocrisy. And in a fair world, I’d agree 100%. But we don’t live in a fair world. I believe that we need to talk about this and create awareness of the deep gap between women and men in the film industry. And since Hollywood runs on money, I believe we actually need to make an effort to monetarily support films made by women so that more can get made until eventually we don’t have to talk about it anymore.
I think there’s a lot of room for debate on this. For example, I’ve heard people make the case that affirmative action is unnecessary or even counter-productive. I’ve also heard others make the case in favor of all the good affirmative action has done. These are good discussions. And I think this is a good discussion too.
The loudest question I heard from your comment was, is my request that you go see Austenland because it’s made by women inherently sexist?
I don’t think that’s the only reason to go see it--I also think it has a compelling plot, is entertaining and well made, but I took for granted that was understood. So if I haven't gushed enough about the film's merits on its own, I'm always happy to do so more: It's hysterical! It's sweet and charming and swoony! The performances are awe-inspiring, the cinematography and art production took my breath! And I mean that sincerely.
I don’t think that because the movie was made largely by women that means all women will automatically like it, just as all men don’t automatically like every one of the 90% of films that were largely made by men. But with that post I did hope to educate some who don’t know how Hollywood often works so that they might understand just how much voting-by-money matters in movies. We often talk about how sad it is that there aren’t more women’s voices heard in media, but many don’t realize just how important buying tickets to the female-created and/or female-led movies matters. Even if viewers don’t notice the gender of the filmmakers or stars, Hollywood does, and they do make decisions based on how much money female-created and female-led films make. If Austenland succeeds, another female filmmaker that no investor wanted to take a chance on before will have a better shot. I wish that wasn't how it works, but I'm afraid it does.
Celluloid Ceiling released a recent study of filmmaking in the US:
“In 2012, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents
no change from 2011 and an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998.”
And it’s not getting better. “A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2012 and 1998 reveals that the percentages of women directors and editors have not changed. The percentages of women writers and producers have increased slightly. The percentages of women executive producers and cinematographers have declined.” And while those numbers haven’t improved in the past 15 years, the percentage of female characters in films has even declined.
Those are the numbers representing scattered female involvement, but what percentage of films were written, directed, produced by and starred women? Hollywood has noticed Austenland’s female-heavy creation, and it will note how it performs. (For one example of Hollywood noticing a film's performance when women are involved, read this Deadline Hollywood article. It would be interesting to look at the films produced by that studio in the past five years since the article and see how many, if any, had female leads.)
I want to emphasize: I do not think that everyone in Hollywood is inherently sexist. I do think they make decisions based on the data at hand. And with so few female-made movies to look at, one underperforming movie has a huge ripple effect. Here's another article, this one about why a Wonder Woman animated feature can't use her name in the title. Interesting to note that the DVD they mention sold relatively well--but not well enough. Female-led titles have to be outstandingly successful in order to prove the old order wrong. It's not fair. It's hypocritical. It's how it works. (and note that although the DVD All-Star Superman underperformed, no one said, "That's it, no more Superman movies," or even more ludicrous, "That's it, no more male-led movies." When a movie with a female lead underperforms, the gender of the lead is blamed, while the reverse is not true for male-led movies.)
I personally wish change came organically because we’re all just looking for a great story and it doesn’t matter who made it. When buying books, I don’t care if the writer is a man or a woman, because of books published, the spread between men and women writers is pretty even (although review coverage and awards greatly favor male writers, especially with grown up titles). But when deciding which movies to support with my money, I do make a conscious effort to look for films with some female actors and a female writer or director, because I want to support them. And filmmakers of color too. There are voices not being heard, not because they don’t have great stories to tell, but because money talks, and so far in the movie industry, money favors one kind of person over another. Because so far, by the numbers, that’s the least risky investment.
Again, I am not suggesting that just because women made a movie that means all women must love it (or by extension all men must hate it). But yes, I am suggesting, the next time you're trying to decide between two movies to see in the theater, and one has a female director or writer or lead, and the other doesn't, choosing the former does matter, not just to that film but to future films. Box office sales numbers matter so much in Hollywood. Your ticket matters. I hope you'll ponder this for the future. If you're ever vacillating between going to see a female-made movie in the theater or waiting, your trip to the theater means something. Or buying a DVD too, for that matter. Your purchase means more than simply watching a really great movie. With a compelling plot. And memorable characters. And honest laughter. And really great writing. The number crunchers in Hollywood will read the money you spent as a vote. And I'm boldly asking you to vote for variety.
So, what do you think?
By: Keith Mansfield,
Blog: Keith Mansfield
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, 3D movies
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, Tim Webber
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It seems strange to be writing this from the comfor of my sofa, yet only yesterday this was my view: repairing the Hubble Space Telescope in low Earth orbit, from the next generation shuttle, Explorer. And it was breathtaking. I had front row seats for the UK premiere of Alfonso Cuorón’s Gravity at London’s Odeon Leicester Square, as part of the bfi’s London Film Festival.
The first dozen minutes of the movie are a single, beautiful shot of Earth from space, viewed in glorious 3D. Wow. We dive into the scene and eventually stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are unscrewing a panel on the Hubble Space Telescope, that they’re up there to repair. A bolt spins out of Bullock’s reach and I’m on hand to catch it as it flies past me. Wonderful.
Last year I found myself on the red carpet with George Clooney for The Ideas of March. This year, I entered with Sandra Bullock while Harry Potter producer David Heyman was being interviewed in the doorway. Having taken my seat, Cuorón, Heyman and Bullock took to the stage and introduced the movie.
The visual effects are extraordinary. Tim Webber and his team are surely nailed on for next year’s Oscar, having come up with all manner of new techniques for relatively low costs, to create such a realistic spectacle. Life of Pi had beautiful conematography and 3D, but I think Gravity is better, but of course that’s also partly down to the low Earth orbit setting. make sure you see the film on the biggest screen you can find, and you won’t be disappointed.
I have experience being in space, while at the cinema before. When I worked at the Science Museum I was able to slip into their IMAX whenever they were showing Walking on the Moon: 3D. It really was the next best thing to being there, but that used a lot of genuine footage. There are two related jokes about Gravity, such is the realism of the film: one is that NASA is going to sue once it discovers Cuorón’s hidden cameras aboard the International Space Station (ISS); the other is that he actually considered filming it in space.
So far so good. I don’t know if I was so blown away with the experience that I didn’t pay much attention to the actual characters, or whether their story wasn’t particularly interesting. But while I’d give the visuals 11 out of 10, the backstory of lead characters Bullock and Clooney only seemed to merit a 4 or 5.
But the premise is good, so don’t let that put you off. Many scientists are becoming increasingly worried about space junk filling the area where most satellites are placed. There is a catastrophic scenario where the collision of two satellites, or one breaking up, could lead to a chain reaction with devastating consequences, where most if not all satellites would be destroyed. The movie opens with that happening and the debris careering towards the vulnerable shuttle. And even once it’s gone by, we and the astronauts know it will return within 90 minutes and none of us still want to be there.
You will find yourself ducking out of the way of space debris and maybe even longing to feel planet Earth under your feet again. Gravity must be seen for the beauty and brilliance of the visuals.
It’s the late 1990s, and everyone I know is obsessed with the Pride & Prejudice miniseries starring Colin Firth. I don’t use that word lightly. Obsessed. We hum the songs from the ball. The words creep into our everyday dialogue—we say things like, “Make haste!” and, “Now that’s a fair prospect!” We have daydreams about a fictional character and sigh out loud.
We are completely and utterly ridiculous. But it’s so much fun.
I just wish that there were a way to actually step into Austen’s story, try it on and see how it would fit. Would living in the Regency era, being loved by Mr. Darcy, really be as ideal as it seems? I start to write a book about a character like me and my friends, who goes on vacation to an English resort where tourists can put on the corset and empire-waist gowns, live in a manor house, and interact with actors playing gentlemen who woo them in their own custom storylines.
(By the way, no such place actually exists—but it should, shouldn’t it?)
I spend seven years, off and on, composing Austenland, trying out different characters, writing and rewriting different endings, before I come to the story of Jane Hayes and her jaunt in an immersive Austen resort. It is completely and utterly ridiculous, and also so much fun.
Jumping ahead a few years, I meet screenwriter Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. She reads Austenland and wants me to collaborate with her on the screenplay. Jerusha responds not just to the Austen obsession but more generally to Jane Hayes’ geekiness. Everyone has their own geekdom—Star Wars, Twilight, superheroes, science, Dr. Who, classic Greek literature—whatever it might be. She’s sure most anyone could relate to Jane’s trip down the rabbit hole, even the un-Austen-ed.
We spend a year and a half on the screenplay (and laughing, usually while eating milk shakes). Jump ahead again.
I’m in England, sitting on one of those camp chairs with members of the film crew. It’s our first day
filming on the grounds of the English estate that will be our Austenland. And across the lawn walks the actor JJ Feild in full costume. Boots. Breeches. Cravat. Riding jacket. Top hat. I’m amazed at how much he looks like the character of my imagination. The resemblance is uncanny.
But then the most extraordinary thing happens. This figment, this character I dreamed up in my brain, turns, sees me, looks right at me, and smiles.
I no longer feel the camping chair beneath me. I seem to be falling into my own story. I watch the scene play out on camera—Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis, speaking lines I wrote, just the way I’d imagined and yet adding so much more. It is almost real. Surreal.
Later, I find out the costume coat and hat JJ Feild is wearing are the same ones Colin Firth wore in Pride & Prejudice. Somehow, I’ve managed to enter Austenland. It’s ridiculous. And it’s so much fun.
The photo is of me and Jane Seymour on set, dressed for the ball scene. The film is in limited release now in US, UK, and Canada. The book is available online and from fine booksellers everywhere.
Did you know that Disney has a new Cinderella movie in the works? Directed by Kenneth Branagh? With Cate Blanchett as the stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother? Well, I sure didn’t. For many of us Disney’s 1950 animated feature Cinderella epitomizes a certain sort of fairy tale princess, one who waits for her prince to come. Many have railed against these animated princesses (notably Jack Zipes) and Disney has somewhat responded, supplying their more recent princess heroines with more agency. And so I am fascinated to see what they will do with their forthcoming live-action Cinderella.
Here’s the image and press release that came out last week:
DISNEY’S LIVE ACTION “CINDERELLA”
BEGINS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN LONDON
Starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Academy Award®-winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar®-nominee Helena Bonham Carter and Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh
Burbank, Calif. (September 23, 2013)—Walt Disney Pictures announced today that principal photography has begun at Pinewood Studios in London, on “Cinderella,” Disney’s first-ever live action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale.
Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh (“Jack Ryan,” “Thor”), the film stars Lily James (“Downton Abbey,” “Wrath of the Titans”) in the title role, Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones,” “Birdsong”) as the Prince, Oscar®-winner Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”) as the infamous stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Academy Award-nominee Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech,” “Alice in Wonderland”) as the Fairy Godmother. Holliday Grainger (“Great Expectations,” “Anna Karenina”) and Sophie McShera (“Downton Abbey,” “Waterloo Road”) play Ella’s stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella, respectively. Stellan Skarsgård (“The Avengers,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones,” “The Grey”) play the Arch Grand Duke and the Prince’s loyal friend, the Captain. Tony® Award-winner Derek Jacobi portrays the King.
“Cinderella” is produced by Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: First Class,” “Elysium”), Allison Shearmur (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), David Barron (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Jack Ryan”), from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy,” “The Golden Compass”).
The filmmaking team includes three-time Academy Award-winning production designer Dante Ferretti (“The Aviator,” “Hugo,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”), three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell (“The Aviator,” “The Young Victoria,” “Shakespeare in Love”), director of photography Haris Zambarloukos (“Sleuth,” “Thor”) and Academy Award-winning editor Martin Walsh (“Chicago,” “Clash of the Titans”).
The timeless story of “Cinderella” dates back to 1697 when first created by Charles Perrault, although it truly came to life for millions all over the world in 1950 with Walt Disney’s celebrated animated feature.
Director Kenneth Branagh says: “It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we’ve all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker. With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella.”
The story of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming “Kit.” Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella’s life forever.
Production on “Cinderella” will take place at Pinewood Studios and locations throughout England.
“Cinderella” will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on March 13, 2015.
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By: Children's Books, dogs, and related matters,
The forest has played a major role in children's literature from the earliest time.
The forest was mysterious, a place of unknowns and often darkness and fear.
From legends to fairy tales, the forest was a place of wonder and often a place of danger...from Winnie the Poo to Little Red Riding Hood
The forests are central to the Planet Of The Dogs and Castle In The Mist.
For readers, the forests, like the books whose stories embrace them, open the doors to the imagination.
This blog is dedicated to children's literature that opens the doors to the imagination. And to the amazing role of dogs in enhancing our lives. -
SLEEPING BEAUTIES VS. GONZO GIRLS By Maria Tatar
In this fascinating article that moves through children's literature and cultural myths ranging from Gretel and Red Riding Hood to Katniss Everdeen and Lady Gaga, Maria Tatar explores the evolution of the female archetype today. Here are excerpts.
"We’ve come a long way from what Simone de Beauvoir once found in Anglo-European entertainments: 'In song and story the young man is seen departing adventurously in search of a woman; he slays the dragons and giants; she is locked in a tower, a palace, a garden, a cave, she is chained to a rock, a captive, sound asleep: she waits.' Have we kissed Sleeping
Beauty goodbye at last, as feminists advised us to do not so long ago...
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series have given us
female tricksters, women who are quick-witted, fleet-footed, and resolutely brave... they are not just cleverly resourceful and determined to survive. They’re also committed to social causes and political change...
The female trickster has a long and distinguished lineage...Many of our female tricksters—often new inflections of the ones we know from legends and fairy tales—have complemented their
arsenals of verbal weapons with guns and steel.Little Red Riding Hood has been revisited again and again in recent years. The girl in red, often positioned as a seductive innocent who courts the predator as much as she fears him, is no longer a willing victim. When Buffy, from the popular nineties TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween...
These days, the trickiest of them all may be Lady Gaga... Lady Gaga draws us out of our
comfort zones, crosses boundaries, gets snared in her own devices. Shamelessly exploitative and exploratory, she reminds us that every culture requires a space for the disruptive energy of antisocial characters. She may have the creativity of a trickster, but she is also Sleeping Beauty and menacing monster, all rolled into one."
Maria Tatar chairs the program for folklore and mythology at Harvard University. She is the editor of the excellent Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood.
The Illustration Of Red Riding Hood in bed with the wolf is by Dore...
In recent times, many versions of the fairy tales of old have been made for film and TV. Producers of these retold versions of Little Red Riding Hood have been inspired by the early versions of the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault with the ominous forest, the dangerous wolf, and the innocent young maiden. These retellings have often been heavily influenced by the quest for commercial success, and the reults have been decidely mixed. Often banal or cliched, they are examples of how commerce as well cultural change affects the retelling of fairy tales.
Here is a link to the trailer of the 2011 Movie film, Red Riding Hood
And here is an excerpt and a link to Roger Ebert's laugh out loud review.
"Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage
girls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape...
What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?
"Red Riding Hood" has the added inconvenience of being dreadfully serious about a plot so preposterous, it demands to be filmed by Monty Python..."
Like Mr Ebert, most critics gave the film a negative review. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating was 39%.
A sensual intepretation of Little Red Ridin Hood from 1997 is found in this short film by David Kaplan adopted from Conte De LA Mere Grande...music by Debussy...the wolf moves like a seductive spirit of the forest...soft black and white images and a clever Red Riding Hood...
Here is the Link: Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
Roald Dahl wrote his own version of Little Red Riding Hood in the form of a
humorous,tongue in cheek poem. This is how it begins...
"As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have a second helping!"...
The image above is from a fun film made of Dahl's Red Riding Hood poem using stop-motion puppets. The imaginative creators, Hannah Legere and Andrew Wilson, certainly caught the spirit of the Dahl poem. Link here to this delightful film version of Roald Dahl's poem...
The dog lover in the photograph is Roald Dahl.
Artists and Illustrators...
14 different artist's versions of Red Riding Hood are posted on the Art of Children's Books blog site..here is an excerpt from their introduction...
"Folk tales and fairy tales are at the top of the list when it comes to vintage children's books. The Brothers Grimm* folk tale, Little Red Riding Hood, has been a beloved and enduring story. Originally titled Little Red Cap, the story has a strong lesson. Since it's publication, Little Red Riding Hood has been illustrated by many artists over the years. Here is just a sampling of the different artistic interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood."
Book cover by Andrea Wisnewski...*The original version was published by Charles Perault.
The Forest and Imagination...
The influence of the forest on the imagination will always be with us, especially in legend, folk tales and children's stories.
Innumerable film and TV versions, including many annimated cartoons, of Little Red Riding Hood will continue to be made. And wonderful writers like Roald Dahl in the past, and Philip Pullman in the present, will continue to find the forests of fairy tales a timeless setting for timeless stories.
The illustration is by Arthur Rackham...if you look closely, on the path beneath the huge tree, you will see red Riding Hood and the wolf.
Reading for Pleasure...opening the imagination, opening the mind...
Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, according to a UK study of the reading behavior of appoximately 6000 young people. Here are excerpts from a report that reaffirms the value early reading and bedtime stories.
"Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).
The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of10 and 16 than those who rarely read...
...Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way."
The research was conducted by Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown; To read the article, visit Pleasure Reading
The Doors that Rose opens...
myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems
to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the
people… She is
a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs. I
am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could
never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my
touch. The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s
touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but
when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to
dissipate. The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week;
they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose. Lying with a dying
patient who will smile, close their eyes and stroke her with a peacefulness
that is so precious…I know I could not enter that person’s space without
Rose…it really is all about occupying part of someone else’s space for just a
short time be it in a school, home or hospital...”
teacher, Susan Purser, and her Australian Cattle Dog, Rose, have been very
active as a therapy dog team for several years in Sarasota, Florida.
Paws Giving Independence
Paws Giving Independence is a recpient of a 2013 Planet Dog Foundation Grant.
Planet Dog has this year donated $71,500 in new grants to 16 non-profit dog organizations..."The PDF grants will help fund assistance dog, therapy dog and search and rescue programs across the country and support a wide variety of non-profit programs that are helping children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities; injured service members; natural disaster survivors and many more people in need..."
"Paws Giving Independence is an all-volunteer organization that saves dogs from area shelters, trains them to be service/companion dogs, and places the dogs, free of charge, with those in need.
Their Saving a Life to Change a Life project identifies suitable dogs in shelters and trains them to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. They train dogs to open doors, pick up dropped objects, turn lights on and off, and other ways to assist in independence. In addition, they train dogs to alert for epileptic and diabetic seizures, and psychological assistance for military veterans with PTSD. PDF funds support veterinary care, special prosthetics and balance equipment and training."
Paws Giving Independence was founded in 2008 by 3 Bradley University students who recognized the marvelous healing capabilities of dogs.
for Dog Lovers and decent people...
Here's a Goodreads review that strikes home and makes sense for dog lovers and decent people...Passionate dog rescuer, animal rights advocate and author.C.A. Wulff wrote How to Change The World in 30 Seconds...
"At first i started reading this book as an animal rescuer myself. But as i started to go
through all of the information in the book i realized that this book is a GREAT informative guide for people who have just dipped their toes into the realm of rescue. It is laid out in a way that focuses on an audience that may, or may not have already heard of some of the ideas. This way a novice rescuer can understand it, but the veteran rescuer isnt just wading through either. I saw several options that were detailed out even for someone in rescue many years. So really what im saying is.. it doesnt matter if you are new or old to it, this can give you great ideas, starting points and explanations for why so many rescuers are able to save lives on click at a time."
Here is a link to the full review by Sylence of How to Change the World in 30 Seconds, in Goodreads...
Much has been written of the importance of childhood experiences with books...books that meant a lot to an individual as a child and where the memory of the book remains important in their adult life. Here, thanks to Monica Edinger's Educating Alice blog, are excerpts from a rather fascinating converstion by two of the most prominent, respected, and imaginative writers of children's and YA literature...
"Gaiman talked about reading the Mary Poppins books when he was six or seven and how they helped form whatever worldview he had as a kid. 'The idea that the world is incredibly unlikely and strange secret things are always happening, that adults don't really explain to you, or in fact, that adults may be oblivious to'...
''His (Gaiman's) wonder was infectious as he recalled discovering the library when he was very
young and having that incredible feeling of power; discovering the card catalogue in which you could actually look up subjects like witches or robots or ghosts; or you could just take down books and read the interesting ones. Both authors talked about discovering American comic books and marveled at the speed in the stories, the size of them, with Gaiman adding, "Everything was alien, everything was equally as strange and unlikely, so skyscrapers, and pizza and fire hydrants were just as alien to my world as people in capes flying around..."
Monica Edinger, a fourth grade teacher, and a passionate advocate of the wonders and benefits of children's literature, has a very lively and informative blog: Educating Alice . Her new book, Africa Is My Home, is receiving excellent reviews.
Here are excerpts from her blog ;
The Unjournal of Children's Literature
The “un” movement is an intriguing one. Until recently I had only heard about it in terms of unconferences, participant-driven events such as this one. But now there is another sort of un-thing, an unjournal. Created by children’s literature graduate students at San Diego State University, the inaugural issue of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature is up and ready for viewing, reading, and responding. Gorgeous to look at, clearly designed in terms of navigation, fascinating in terms of content, this is one elegant web publication.
And from an article on kids, books and reading: "Reading to me is many things and so I think we teachers need to provide many different experiences with reading and books. My fourth grade students read all sorts of material on their own, for themselves, for all sorts of reasons..."
What do Therapy Dogs Do All Day?
Here are videos from Peple Animals Love (PAL), based in Washington DC, that document the wonderful work that their volunteers and their dogs perform. Click this link: PAL
Fairy Tales as the Last Echoes of Pagan Myths...
Seth Lerner, in writing about the orgins and history of fairy tales and folklore, points out that Wilhelm Grimm, at the time the Grimm brothers books were being published in 1812 and 1815, wrote that fairy tales were the "'last echoes of pagan myths'. He
(Grimm) went on:"A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children.(Fairy tales) belong to our national poetic heritage..."
Lerner sees even more significance in Fairy tales. He goes on to point out that "what we find inside these secret forests, caves, and seas is not just a poetic heritage, but a personal one as well. For fairy tales are full of families, full of parents who bequeth a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from childhood to maturity..."
Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. The quotes and ideas above are from his informative and insightful book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter
NYPL's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our event on Saturday, October 12th at 2:00 p.m.
The ABC of It: Curator Leonard S. Marcus in Conversation
Join Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, Interim Director Jenny Brown as she interviews historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus about his current NYPL exhibit and the importance of children’s literature as a whole.
This event will be held in the South Court Auditorium in the main branch of New York Public Library.
Harry Potter's Textbook...
"J.K. Rowling will write her first movie script for Warner Bros., writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to
Find Them–a film based on Harry Potter’s textbook from his school for wizards.
The film is part of a planned series featuring the author of the magical book, Newt Scamander. Rowling published a book by the same name in 2001. She had this comment on her Facebook page:
"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world..." Here is the link: JKRowling
Dogs in the Forest...
The forest plays a very important role in the Planet Of The Dogs Series. Here is an excerpt from Castle In The Mist...
continued to lead the soldiers deeper into the woods. Soon, it began to snow, slowly at first, and
then, the wind increased and the snow was everywhere. It became very difficult to see very far. The leader of the soldiers told his men that
they were to follow him. They were
returning to the castle.
walking through the snow when one of the men, who was an experienced forest
guide, said to the leader, “With respect sir, but I don’t think we are going in
the right direction.” The leader was about to answer him when howling
started. It seemed to come from all
directions. Then the leader spoke, “You
will follow me, I am certain that this is the way.” They continued on through the swirling snow,
unable to see, and surrounded by howling dogs..."
Here is an excert from a review:"Do you
think it is possible for dogs to stop war? Author Robert J. McCarty has created
a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two
different levels…a story about dogs who come from another planet to help people
on earth. But under the surface are the
important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with
good…Castle In The Mist will keep you turning the pages to find out what
Wayne Walker reviewing Castle in the Mist
for Stories for Children Magazine, the Home School Book Review and the Home
School Buzz wrote:
CANADIAN SERVICE DOG FOUNDATION
The Canadian Service Dog Foundation trains and provides service dogs for a wide variety of human needs and services. They provide a wide range of vital services,,,ten major humanitarian objectives are listed on their website. Here are the first two:
- "To improve quality of life for Canadians through the use of service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals. Provide opportunities, resources, and support through the use of trained service dogs for Canadians living with psychiatric disabilities so as to allow for greater functional independence, sufficient to make healthy choices and lead active lifestyles."
- To support past or present military personnel, emergency service workers, and related professionals dealing with operational stress injuries through the use of specially trained service dogs.
- Here is a link to learn more about their wide reaching canine services for people: CSDF Services
Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series by
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes Noble, Amazon, Powell's...
Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the kids read dog books to you?"
And Now -- for the First Time -- E Books of the Planet Of The Dogs Series are coming on KDP Select...
Planet Of The Dogs will be available October 1...Castle In The Mist will be available on October 15 and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, on November 15...in time for the Holiday Gift Season...
Any one of these books would make for a
delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child. All three would be an amazing reading
Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts wrote:
"We are excited to announce that Barking Planet Productions is publishing a new book by C.A.Wulff.
"Finding Fido" will be available for purchase at amazon.com on September 30. "Finding Fido" is a handbook every pet owner will want to have in their library.
Between 3 and 4 million pets are put to death in shelters across the U.S. every year. Some of
them are owner surrenders, some are impounds, but the vast majority of them are missing or stolen pets.
C.A. Wulff and A.A.Weddle, the administrators of the service Lost & Found Ohio Pets, have compiled a guide to address this sad reality. ‘Finding Fido’ offers tips for preventing the loss of a pet; advice for what to do with a stray pet you’ve found; and a step-by-step plan in case the unthinkable happens, and you lose a pet.
This is an instructive and important tool every family with a dog or cat should have on hand… just in case.
A Dog Health Update: here are excerpts from an article on Giardiasis – Parasitic Diarrhea in Dogs, Cats and Humans...The microscopic parasites known as Giardiasis are the most common intestinal parasites to be found in humans, dogs and cats. A protozoan parasite infection, it is the cause of a very serious diarrheal illness in the intestinal areas, known to be highly contagious but not lethal. However, it is a parasite that can be transferred across species — from person-to-person or animal-to-person... The most popular locations for this parasite are on surfaces or within soil and food.However, drinking water and recreational water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals are the most common methods of transmission. This includes untreated or improperly treated water from lakes, streams, or wells...
Here's the link to read this comprehensive, informative article: Way Cool Dogs
New England Conferences-Book Shows in October for
Independent Bookstores and Libraries
As members of the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE), we will be exhibiting Circling the Waggins and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA),October 6-8, in Providence, RI and the New England Library Association(NELA), on October 20-27, in Portland, Maine.
Green Eggs and E-Books? Thank You, Sam-I-Am By Julie Bosman
Here are excerpts from Julie Bosman's article...
"Dr. Seuss books, those whimsical, mischievous, irresistibly rhymey stories that have been passed down in print to generations of readers, are finally catching up with digital publishing...
The Dr. Seuss canon will be released in e-book format for the first time, beginning later this month, his publisher said on Wednesday, an announcement that could nudge more parents and educators to download picture books for children...picture books have lagged far behind(adult fiction) . Several publishers said e-books represent only 2 to 5 percent of their total picture book sales, a number that has scarcely moved in the last several years.
But the release of the Dr. Seuss books, still hugely popular after decades in print, could move that number higher. The e-books will be available on color tablets, including the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook HD. The first titles to be released, on Sept. 24, include “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!” and “The Lorax” (featuring an environmentally conscious character who might be happy about the announcement)."
''The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
Click here for information and videos of COROMANDEL , byTrevor Bachman's... Here is an excerpt from their site...A" vibrant musical odyssey for children and adults, Coromandel is a journey through the mind of poet Edward Lear"...playing in New York City in early October..." a fusion of rock, jazz, bluegrass, tango, musical theatre, and classical sounds makes for a diverse, delicious, and sonically satisfying evening. Told with a whimsical simplicity that appeals to children of all ages..."
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.''
"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
—Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization" -
I found this quote on
I've only known of Roger Ebert's death for an hour, but I can't focus on doing anything else
right now, so I might as well write this, raw and unformed and rambling as it may be. So be it.
A couple weeks ago, Ebert stuck my video essay on Clint Eastwood's endings up on his blog
. The last time I felt so close to fainting was when Samuel Delany first called me on the phone. (I bet Ebert would have appreciated that. He was, after all, a science fiction fan
.) I wish I'd sent him an email to thank him, to say how utterly gobsmacked I was to have somebody who'd been a constant presence in my life suddenly notice something I'd done, and approve it. I was too shy. I knew it was the right thing to do, knew he might even be pleased that his notice meant something to me, but ... I was too shy.
Roger Ebert was always there in my life. Well, not always. I suppose before the age of 10 or 11, I hadn't seen his TV show (one with various names, but I'll forever think of it as Siskel & Ebert
), a show that was born the same year I was
. In the days before the internet, that show was a lifeline for a kid like me, living in New Hampshire, in love with movies and yet without any easy way to get information about any but the most mainstream and blockbuster. I would watch with a pen in my hand and take notes on which ones sounded interesting. Thus I discovered so many films that I later came to love (or loathe). Often, I had to wait till they were on videotape; sometimes, I was able to see them at a Boston theatre on one of my occasional trips to the city. Who I am as a film viewer was deeply shaped by those years of watching Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel argue about movies on TV.
Truthfully, it wasn't until he lost his voice that I came to love Roger Ebert, though. As my film taste was shaped watching the TV show, I tended to side more with Gene Siskel. Then, once I was in college in New York I was reading film reviews in the Voice
and some of the film journals (whichever ones the Barnes & Noble at Astor Place carried: I'd grab a pile, sit in a chair, and read them cover to cover). Siskel and especially Ebert seemed, to a callow youth rather arrogant in his opinionating, utterly mainstream and utterly bourgeois. I suppose I was trying to expel his influence, to kill a father. Such is the nature of callow youths.
Then the Sun-Times
put his reviews online. He started blogging. He became Master of Twitter. He expanded his blog to include all sorts of younger critics from around the world. I learned about Ebertfest. I learned about all he had done for film culture in Chicago. I learned.
And though our taste wasn't ever exactly the same, I found I loved reading his reviews. Actually, I liked
that our tastes differed, because he was so good at expressing what he appreciated or didn't appreciate, even if my response was the opposite. What I had never known from the TV show was just what a marvelous writer Ebert was. A writer who happened to be a film critic. But a writer first.
Ebert's most interesting reviews aren't just reviews. They do the job a review is supposed to — they tell us about a cultural product we probably haven't yet encountered ourselves, and they give us the writer's take on it — but they are full of tangents, side remarks, bits of fact or philosophy. They are essays
in the broadest and most classical sense: moments of thought. The familiar Ebert voice is always there in the words, and it is a comforting voice, an entertaining voice, the voice of a friend or beloved family member, somebody really smart and passionate, somebody you just want to talk to — about anything, really. It's no surprise that when he wrote his memoirs, he did so masterfully. His reviews were also pieces of memoir.
Could one critic ever be so important again? Probably not. The cultural landscape has fragmented, fractured, gone all rhizomatic. Overall, I think that's a good thing. I wouldn't want to go back to those days of having to rely on Siskel & Ebert
for all my movie information. I like the easy access to variety today. But still. Roger Ebert, man. We often say a particular death is the end of an era. With Ebert, it really is.
He inspired millions of people to care about movies as something more than just entertainment, but without forgetting that entertainment is central to the experience, that visual pleasure and narrative cinema are nothing to be ashamed of.
Again and again, people have spoken of his generosity, his decency, his humanism. It is remarkable that a man who published three whole books of his most negative reviews could be so beloved! But Ebert wrote wonderful negative reviews. (Even of movies I like!) His generosity of spirit comes through, even as he is saying that a film is utterly awful, a terrible waste of time or effort or talent, even immoral. And when he praised, he praised like a poet.
I learned about one of my favorite movies, David Lynch's Blue Velvet
, from the Siskel & Ebert episode where Ebert lambasted it
. I wouldn't get to see the film for at least a year after that episode aired, but I remembered it, and I watched the movie while trying to evaluate what I thought of Siskel and Ebert's discussion about it. I decided I completely disagreed with Ebert on it. I still do. And I am utterly grateful to him for what he said, because it provoked me and haunted me and challenged me. There are worse ways to learn about aesthetics and morality, worse ways to learn about yourself.
Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times
chose a perfect quote from Ebert's Life Itself
“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Carve those words in stone. Better yet, project them through celluloid.
Tonight, I will choose one of the movies from his most recent Sight & Sound ballot
to revisit, probably The General
because it would be nice to laugh, and to watch that most graceful of all screen graces, Buster Keaton, my favorite silent film actor.
Thank you, Roger Ebert. All our thumbs are raised high in your honor.
It's two hours now since I learned of Roger Ebert's death.
The signature closing words of Siskel & Ebert
are today among the saddest in our language:
The balcony is closed.