Biz Update

Things with the formation of the business are moving along. And I am very excited about the current business environment with what we are doing in establishing Abilities United Productions as the premier motion picture and television production company that specializes in content-specific, authentic and universally appealing entertainment!

The marketing of this business with a unique mission is one that has to be aggressive and clear. Although we are producing films that have the starring character as a person with a disability, and primarily at this time, characters using a wheelchair(that is what I have written), and using only actors with the same or similar disability should attract those with a disability but are not exclusively targeted to those with a disability. Some think that our mission of using the content-specific material (meaning the screenplays that are written with the main character has a disability) and are authentic (meaning are written and directed by me, a paraplegic and are acted by actors with a disability) that they will only be interested by those within the disabled consumer market! That is part of the stereotypes that we are breaking! Although this is a point where I like to point to the facts that the disabled consumer market is the largest and fastest growing minority in America – with 54+ million – and a spending power of over $1 Trillion a year – which many other industries have now found out and are specifically marketed to attract – this is a great “Segment” of moviegoers that we hope will become loyal followers not only coming to future films that we produce but also buying the DVD and other merchandise from the current movie because of our realistic and honest portrayals.

Some come to these conclusions which brings concerns that it will only be attracted to those in the disabled community but do so without ever looking at the “universally appealing” part of our mission – without ever reading my scripts! But that is where nothing but another challenge lies!

There is a lot of concerns and questions but I can give an answer for each and every one of them! So now I am currently getting some attention and from those who will look at the whole picture – since I also point out that  James Cameron’s next  blockbuster movie – which is in production now – features a character  in the starring role of his futuristic, sci-fi, action movie is a paraplegic! And when the audiences go in droves to see this movie that currently has a release date in 2009 – Abilities United Productions will be positioned and therefore known for bringing characters and people with a disability to the front of the entertainment business – and when all the other studios want to follow Cameron’s success, they will know where to look for authentic projects – ABILITIES UNITED PRODUCTIONS!

We are in this for the long run – not just for one movie! Finally a production company specifically setup and doing this over and over again! That is what the difference is between the movies of the past that were produced and acted by well-meaning Al Jolson’s in a wheelchair! They were looking at just doing that one picture! I am getting investors to look at more then just one movie – and how this will become a “turning point” in Hollywood for all of those with a disability both in front of and behind the camera and the audiences too!  Look out – Here we come!

Welcome back!

Well the website is finally update with a new look and more concise content! I hope you like it. And I invite you to visit the Contact page and fill out the Feedback Form if you haven’t already! Let me know what you really think! LOL!

Ok I also have to apologize for not keeping up with the blog. Although I anticipate being a lot more busy in the coming months, I will be making more regular entries. Sad that the last entry was my honest and realistic review of a movie that I cannot believe was as successful at the box as it was – and now finally part two of part two is about to be released! And although I didn’t read any reviews before I saw “Dead Man’s Chest”, I have seen some short ones already and it looks to be only somewhat better then part one of part two! But I will still make my own judgments as I am still hoping it will give more then the last and be like the first. But I can assure you I WILL NOT see it opening weekend. I do not want to contribute to it’s opening day and weekend results because the last one so disappointed me. I was glad that “Spiderman 3” whoop it’s butt in the opening day and weekend totals! ANd I so hope that Pirates part 3, no I mean part two of part two, doesn’t cross the bar Spidey just did!

OK the new blog entries will contain reviews when they hit me either really good or really bad and I have to. They will also contain entries that talk about film productions, styles and the like. And lastly but far from least they will be updates with the company and our films, namely the short “Glacial Breeze” which we will be shooting as soon as the funds are secured. Once complete it will kick off our promotional tour at the film fests and the PR work so that everyone who is anyone in Hollywood will know who “Abilities United Productions” is and what we do! They will know that Abilities United is the home for Hollywood with disabilities and that we bring and honest and authentic looks to our films that feature characters and actors with a disability!

This is an exciting time because we are starting to see more characters in Hollywood films that have a mobility disability as we focus on. Cameron’s “Avatar” and the recent release of “The Ex” which I will comment on in another entry. But this is a perfect time for us to position ourselves as the Premier motion picture and television production company that features characters and people with a disability. Look out Hollywood – here we come! 

Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!

Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!

Wow! Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
What a movie huh? Broke a single day record and followed up with making more money then any for the first weekend. The American Cinema audience, the movie goers must like that kind of sequel, huh? I am amazed when I talk to people, especially those whom I know and I feel are far from lazy, couch potatoes with IQ’s that barely reach a high school level, but they just tell me how much they liked this movie! Why?

What in the hell is going on? Hollywood has had a terrible 18-24 months leading into this Summer’s traditional money making season. And it appeared there was no stopping it. Mission Impossible III did respectable money but not what they expected or hoped for. And that is just one example and then comes another sequel with blockbuster hopes in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.  

(Note: If you want to continue with my review skip to the next paragraph. I have some commentary here that as in my usual manner tends to ramble a bit!) I absolutely love going to the theatre to see a movie. It is a regular event that I am always excited for when I enter the lobby. To assure I get one of the few wheelchair accessible seating before able bodied people snag them so they have extra leg room and several feet before the next row and therefore I have to embarrass myself to ask them to sit somewhere else so I can transfer into that seat, have my family and/or friends or date sit with me or else I stay in my chair in one of those spaces where there isn’t any seats. That is what those are there for so hopefully if I am resigned to having to stay in my chair then I again better get there before mommy and daddy put their damn strollers there and then I have to ask those that I have come with to enjoy the movie together, to sit somewhere else – so I arrive much earlier then most. I get my over priced concession goodies and head into the theater! So I find that designated wheelchair accessible seat that finally most theaters have put in a more reasonable place within the theatre instead of the very first freakin’ row or the very last freakin’ row (in those cases I never seem to have the problem of others sitting in those seats and I could usually arrive with the crowds instead of being way too early and having to read the slide show on the screen for the seventh time before the commercials start and don’t get me started with that!) and so there is already about 10-15 people in the theatre and guess what? Two of them are sitting in the wheelchair seating area! Fortunately I am in one of the newer theatres that have an entire row for wheelchair users and there are others available. It is the principal of it though! If the theatre is full and there are some seats available on the accessible row then by all means please help yourself – I sometimes wish there was a Disability Etiquette course everyone could take! (The Boy Scouts of America have a new merit badge that is called Handicapped Etiquette which I give kudos too but am still upset they call it Handicapped (read a future post on the topic!)  So now I have raised the armrest (yes that is why that those move and none of the other rows have movable armrests – except in the newer theatres I have seen some of them where all the armrests move) transfered into the seat, moved my wheelchair to the open spot right next to me and am now comfortably sitting eye to eye with all the rest of the theatre patrons, since on this occasion I was by myself but is another one of the main reasons I do not stay in my chair whenever possible because then – unlike in most of life’s situations, I am taller then everyone else in the room! Which that just leads to sticking out just as much – although now instead of being ignored people are forced to look at me or sometimes around me! And if I have a date with me then this is real uncomfortable – I sit next to her but not really. I cannot make my movie theatre moves on her from so high up! How can I hold her hand or stretch my arm to rest it around her shoulder!! Date night is ruined if I have to stick out and away from my date! But as I said this time I do not have that problem and am sitting in the theatre seat with my wheelchair next to me.

I am now ready to watch the sequel that I was excited to see. I had seen the Curse of the Black Pearl several times – twice at the theatre and then a few more times on DVD and then HBO. I would watch it right now if it was on! That was a very entertaining movie and I felt as one who used to go to Disneyland for school field trips that they captured the feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. They had a great storyline, character development and special effects that were perfect for that movie. Surely this sequel will match that right? Or at the very least come close since all the key elements are in place for a summer blockbuster of a movie, right?

WRONG! WAY #&$%@) WRONG! By sometime between half way and three quarters I couldn’t take it. I contemplated staying which I usually do because I paid for it and you never know it could turn for the better or I could learn something of what not to do but sometimes after it is over I regret staying immensely (Like in “Domino” anybody waste their money on that flick – wished I took my gut feeling and left that one in the middle. Kira’s strip dance was good but not worth sitting through the rest of that crap) and then I did what I never do – I transferred back into my chair while the movie was still on. I remained there to watch it because I felt that it was near the end – I could feel the third act coming – but it went on and on and on. I felt like I was at the end of the Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King – only this final act NEVER came! They kept leading to an end where you can see what conclusion is going to happen, but then it doesn’t and they continue on and on and on. 

Well, because I like to read the credits and wait until the able bodied crowd leaves the theatre before I move my chair into the walk way to transfer into which annoys most because I am then in there way to get to the bathroom and release all of the overpriced already but it was only twenty-five cents more for the extra large Coke, or to get a cigarette lit as soon as possible or to get to their car and beat the traffic out of the parking lot and I am in their way which will cause them precious time – they never say it but I often see it behind the cloud of politically correct politeness – but this time I was already in my chair and when the end – which come to find out isn’t the end but just seems to be when they finally ran out of film – I rushed the exit as if I was one of those still addicted to nicotine! 

So why did I find this so bad? Because in my opinion it did not live up to the standard that the Curse of the Black Pearl set. 

Here are my Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!   

First of all the story was too fake and senseless – I never wondered “how are they going to get out of this Curse”. It never engaged me. I could’ve told that in about 30 minutes instead of two and a half hours without an ending. The beginning should have been a clue. The trumped up charges putting Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann in prison? On the day of their wedding day? Was these charges stemming form the end of the Black Pearl? When if I remember correctly it was given that Jack could get on with his life. So now is there another circumstance that in the dialogue that seems to be going in many directions is explaining and I am too dumb to figure out? And Ms Swann’s father has no way of influencing the
new Captain, Mayor, Constable, whatever he is – I have no clue except that somehow he has gotten power over the people. And now he can throw anybody into prison – even those of wealth in a time and society where that meant everything and if you were a member of that upper class you could not be subjugated in most circumstances. Here we go into a minimal, roller coaster of a story that has no common sense applied anywhere! For instance, how does Boot Strap Bill fit into this story? He was responsible for the first curse and now he is somehow connected, even trapped into this one? Cameo appearances by some of the other characters including Barbossa from the Curse of the Black Pearl? Why are they here? How do they fit into this story? And again what is this story? You have to go home and try and figure it all out because the writing is so all over the place that it isn’t making much sense. We have a mysterious compass that Jack never lets out of his sight – though this is the first time we have seen it – Will is forced to find it by this character who just arrived with the Almighty’s power and Jack on some quest that is of such importance that he escaped justice and that Will and Elizabeth aided in. Some guy name Davey Jones with a weird face that keeps moving and a crew of monsters that are chasing Jack. Whew, this is all making sense, to who?

Second no character development. I found myself not rooting for anyone – unlike in the first one I was hoping for Jack Sparrow, and Orlando Bloom and Kira Knightley’s characters to all get what they want – The Black Pearl and to get out of a wedding so they could have a real wedding! Whether it was a humorous bit, like is Captain Sparrow going to keep his hat in the end, or will he run into another woman whom he has loved and left? To the more serious like will he be able to get the Black Pearl back and be recognized as a Captain again? Will Will find his true identity within himself now that it is revealed he is the son of Boot Strap Bill Turner who is responsible for the curse they are all in. And speaking of which will they be able to end the curse? I was never engaged in the Dead Man’s Chest let alone to the level of the Curse of the Black Pearl.

Third was this sequel was filled with cliché after cliché. I hadn’t seen anything this riddled with cliché’s since Con Air and Independence Day. When they’re on the beach and the guys are being guys fighting and the woman is being a woman upset and saying that the boys will be boys. It was pathetic.

Fourth was the special effects – now before you jump down my throat, they were done well but it was too much. The characters under the curse of the Dead Man’s Chest each being some kind of fish or animal or monster of the sea made this too much like a comic book. And not in a good way like Daredevil, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, the X-Men or Sin City all who brought life from the comic book – this one reversed it and went from life into an animated over the top special effects look what I can do with my computer! I quickly grew tired of the special effects here – unlike the Curse of the Black Pearl where the special effects enhanced the movie because it added to the reality of the Curse they were in. It was not over the top or done too much and did not turn it into a b or c rated comic book. At night those with the curse seemed human and set on a mission we all wanted to know about and then find a cure for. When Kira’s character, Elizabeth Swann was being held in the Captain’s room and Barbossa said “You better start believing in ghost stories Ms. Swann. You’re in one now!” and he stepped into the light to reveal that he is really a pile of bones – a walking skeleton – it was brilliant – and a great special effect that worked so well for the story. Dead Man’s Chest again it seemed too ridiculous. The hammerhead shark, the starfish and mangled with barnacles on his head. It just got more and more ridiculous.  

Fifth was the acting – again hear me out – these actors are very good actors but they had little to work with. I do not need to mention the depth of Depp – and when he created the nuances of Jack Sparrow, the way he used his facial expressions to be a part of the character was amazing and why we all fell in love with Jack Sparrow (btw I think that facet of Depps acting can been seen ever since the beginning of his movie career with Edward Scisscorhands – he is a master at using his look to create the story that cannot be said out loud) Knightly is pleasant, Bloom is a fine actor and Jack Davenport I hope we see more of him. Of course I am a little bias because I loved Coupling but he did a great job there and although it was very limited here too. Speaking of which the lack of Geoffrey Rush who is an amazing actor who I have never seen give less then a spectacular performance comes in at the end – oh wait its not the end just the end of part one of the Dead Man’s Chest! But none of them have much to work with because as I stated above there is no story and no character development. Dialogue is contrived and filled with cliché. They have nothing to work from. A real waste of good and great talent.

Sixth was the pointless scenes – it is a rule in filmmaking – in story writing that every scene must lead you toward the conclusion, the third act. The Dead Man’s Chest was filled with scenes that wasted time and had no point to it, did not add to he story and did not lead to the conclusion of the story. Here is one example: When they were shipwrecked on the deserted island and Jack was captured by the natives. First of all the first half of this scene looked like it was taken right out of the master reel of Peter Jackson’s King Kong! I forgot what movie I was watching for this scene. And what was the point to it? What did it contribute to the story? The Characters? Anything? I thought the make-up on Jack Sparrow’s face was funny and the chasing and the crew members being suspended in those wicker balls suspended over a deep gorge and sea below. But that is it. Nothing to it and it adds nothing – it was a waste of time like the ones that included cameos from characters from the first Pirates that I have no idea still how they are related to this masquerade of a story just as many of the other scenes were pointless which brings me to the final reason this movie sucks!

Seventh is what I already mentioned, it was way too long. Exactly two and half hours and on top of that it….did… not…end! There are movies that do not end – The Lord of the Rings – but we are all aware up front that it is a trilogy. Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 where again he made it perfectly clear – even in the title that there would not be a conclusion at the end of the first one. But this one gave no indications of that until it happened – suspended the audience like the crewmen in the scene that had no point! How can I get out of this situation? This is not a television series. I do not expect to go to the theatre and see a movie that has a cliffhanger! And if you do then please tell me before hand!

A story that was barely there and what was so mixed up it didn’t make any sense, did not engage me did not even bring the characters into a position where I cared what happened to them, acting that was well below the standard of many of them because they had nothing to work with, cliché after cliché, special effects that were way over the top turning this into some comic book I couldn’t care less about, too many pointless scenes that seems some were made just to accommodate cameos and some that were ripped off from other movies all of which was drawn out and out and out to finally say…come back next year and we’ll tell you what happens! SUCKER!

When I rush
ed the exit and got into my van I kept thinking that word of mouth will doom this piece of crap. Sure it made a lot of money in this opening weekend but people will tell others how disappointing it was and then like many movies the life of it will cease after a month. Then the rest will wait until the DVD comes out. I surely wish I had! But wait no, people continue to see it and it is grossing unheard of money! WHY? Can anyone tell me WHY? I found no redeeming quality in this movie and it was a huge disappointment from the first one which was of tremendous entertainment value.

I am baffled and if this is what the people, the movie goers want then I might have to re-evaluate my wanting to be a filmmaker! I am seriously sadden by the statement this movie is making by the sales – by the people that are seeing it. To me this movie was truly the Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog! This blog will mainly deal with my thoughts and comments about films, Hollywood and those involved! Of course I have a lot of thoughts and comments about that! It will be both specific about my goals in filmmaking – Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters with a Disability, as well as general topics on Hollywood, filmmaking techniques and skills or lack thereof, and independent films which I think the definition of “independent” itself would be a long thread!

I welcome your thoughts and comments on my entries or if you have another thought or comment that is relevant to the topics on hand, please add them. I do not know if anyone will be interested in my thoughts on filmmaking and Hollywood in general so this is probably just a way for me to vent, criticize and praise certain things as they come up and thererfore probably going to benefit me more then any possible readers! But if you have come by then I give you thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!

Larry

Authentic Paraplegic Filmmaker