Watch This Film- The Manchurian Candidate

4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

The Manchurian Candidate was directed by John Frankenheimer and stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and  Janet Leigh. Based on the book of the same name by Richard Condon, It’s the story of a decorated soldier who returns from  the Korean War with a terrifying secret.

The film is a commentary on the McCarthy era in American history. It’s held up remarkably well over the years and is still relevant today. The Manchurian Candidate was later remade by Jonathan Demme  in 2004 who changed the setting from Korean War to the Gulf War.  Demme’s remake is a well-made film with strong performances from Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, and Meryl Streep, but nothing beats the original.

 

 

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Casting and Directing Actors

4749584By Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

They say that casting is 80% of directing, and I couldn’t agree more. For The Last Hit, we had to find two actors to tell a story with virtually no dialogue. Everything had to be told through their actions and expressions.

For the Hit Man character we had several actors audition, and because they were so different from one another, we would have had a much different movie depending on who we cast. Daniel Berkey made quite an impression when he read the role. I really liked his look. One look at him and we can see a character. He has a face that tells a story which is exactly what we needed for this role.

Casting the role of Anna was difficult. We needed someone who could be sympathetic without having a lot of time on screen. She has no dialogue whatsoever, so we needed someone who could communicate using only her physicality. Molly Grace Byrnes is not only beautiful, but she has a dance background and can express herself with movement. This also helped in the climatic scene when she had to fend off her attacker.

 The Last Hit was made using just four rolls (100 feet) of 16mm film which gave us only 11 minutes of film stock. Because we had so little to work with, most of the setups were shot in one or two takes. We rehearsed each scene several times, set the performance, and then got the take. Because both Molly and Dan have theater training, they were able to use the rehearsal to perfect their performances. 

Different actors have different ways of finding a character, so you’ll have to find what works for your cast. Talk to your actors about their backgrounds. Ask them about their experiences working with different directors. What did those directors say and do that helped or hurt them? All of these things will help you work with your actors to get the best performances.

BTRP Recommends-Electric Boogaloo

electric-boogaloo

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

Electric Boogaloo -The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films is a documentary about Cannon Films, a legendary film studio that epitomized the words “fast, cheap, and out of control.” The studio was known for producing over-the-top 80s action flicks: The Delta Force, Death Wish II, Masters of the Universe, Cyborg and Over the Top.

This film explores the rise and fall of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the two Israeli cousins who founded Canon Films. We learn about their history of making films in Israel, their move to Hollywood, their success, and the fall of the studio into debt and disrepair.

The story of Golan and Globus is the American dream: two immigrants who come to America hit it big and revolutionize the way movies get made in the process. They were pioneers of the movie pre-sale. They would find financing for a film by selling the title and the star. Their two big stars were Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson. They would come up with a title and a poster for the movie and say to a potential backer, “which Chuck do you want?” Once they secured financing they would then write the script and make the movie. At the time it was unheard of to sell a movie that didn’t exist, but it’s a common practice now to sell a film overseas based on the cast’s stars before it’s produced in order to secure financing.

Canon Films cranked out movies at a frantic pace. Golan and Globus spent money faster than they could make it. It was filmmaking by assembly line. They just cranked them out, quantity over quality. They wanted so much to be legitimate movie producers, but their way of wheeling and dealing in the industry gave them a bad reputation. Unfortunately for the cousins, Canon grew too big too fast, and they ended up being victims of their own ambition.

However, there was some art in the assembly line. Even though they made action films like Ninja III: The Domination and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, they also produced Love Streams by John Cassavetes and Otello by Franco Zeffirelli.   Zeffirelli would later say Golan and Globus were the greatest producers he’d ever worked with because they gave him the freedom he needed to make his movie.

The documentary’s interviews are candid, funny, and unapologetic.  We see a range of feelings from love to regret to bitterness to tenderness about the cousins and the films they made.  You can feel the unbridled honesty of each subject coming through the screen.

If you like movies about Hollywood lore, Electric Boogaloo one of the best. It’s entertaining, funny, charming, and you can tell the filmmaker, Mark Hartley, has a real affinity for the material. It’s the kind of story that can only happen in Hollywood. A story that you’d swear was fiction if you didn’t know it was true.