Archive for June, 2010

The state of minorities in Hollywood

June 26th, 2010

“It’s not a mystery. It’s pretty blatant,” says Carlos de Jesus, director of NYU’s Future Filmmakers Workshop. “The film industry has been dominated, especially at the upper echelons, by white males.”

The statistics for minorities are grimmer than for women: I couldn’t find any online. If you know of any sources, please let me know. Here are a couple of articles that I did find. However they’re not even from the last year:

This article tackles TV and video games with the same dismal results:

But let’s get the latest statistics and hopefully see some improvement!

History/research, Jobs

The state of women in Hollywood

June 24th, 2010

Here are the depressing, er, challenging statistics for 2009:

Box Office
Stats from Motion Picture Association of America

  • 113 million female moviegoers bought 55% of the tickets.
  • 104 million men bought 45% of the tickets.

Behind the Scenes
Stats from Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film, San Diego State U


  • directed 7% of the top 250 grossing films.
  • wrote 8% of the top 250 grossing films.
  • comprised
    • 17% of all executive producers
    • 23% of all producers
    • 18% of all editors
    • 2% of all cinematographers

Womencentric Films
Stats from Box Office Mojo

  • 2 of the top 10 grossing films
  • 9 of the top 50 grossing films (two of these are animated – The Princess and the Frog, Coraline);
  • 18 of the top 100 grossing films;
  • 26 of the top 150 grossing films

Relationship between women behind the scenes and on-screen
Stats from -Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in the 2003-04 Prime-time Season, by Martha Lauzen

  • Women working behind the scenes influenced the number of on-screen women. When a program had no female creators, females accounted for 40% of all characters. However, when a program employed at least one woman creator, females comprised 45% of all characters.

More statistics at


Woman Make Movies exists to overcome these harsh realities. The site has resources as well as statistics to help empower women to be filmmakers and make their movies.

History/research, Jobs

The Life of Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Part 2

June 17th, 2010

This post concludes my report on my evening at the TV Academy where part of IFC’s six hour docu-series on Monty Python was screened followed by a panel discussion with Python actors and filmmakers involved.

What struck me was the scrappiness of this irreverent band of brothers and how hard they worked at experimenting and creating all the loony, slyly subversive skits and movies that so many of us love to play and replay.

Show expectations

Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran on PBS from 1969-1974. Eric Idle recalled, “It wasn’t promoted, sold, or hyped so kids could find it. It was subversive [so they found it].”

“We were never sure anyone was going to laugh at what we did,” Terry Jones stated.

When moderator Pete Hammond asked why the show is so long lasting and still fresh, Idle responded, “It followed a period of political satire so it had to be generic.”

Pythons on comedy

Idle made a series of observations:

”Comedy is about telling the right thing at the wrong time.”

“If you’re an actor you’re always playing something that isn’t you. I’ve been sheep, fish, women.”

“Comedy is dangerous. You’re telling the truth to people who don’t want to hear it.”


Hammond quizzed the two Pythons on this possibility and got these response:

Terry Jones, “We’d look too old.”

Eric Idle: “When people ask this, they’re really saying – as they would with the Beatles – is that they want to be young again.”


Hammond pointed out that none of the troupe’s films ever got any awards. Terry Jones agreed, “Python films were never taken seriously by the film people.”

When I first heard it, I thought “Always look on the bright side of life” was an old pop tune. I didn’t realize that Idle wrote it to end The Life of Brian. Here are the boys at their witty, subversive best:

Fun & games, History/research, Television

The Life of Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Part 1

June 9th, 2010

Monty Python posterEvery year, as part of the run-up to the Emmy awards, various production companies and TV channels hold screenings at the TV Academy in NoHo (North Hollywood) of what they consider their most award-contending work.

Last week I went to see IFC’s contender in the Emmy awards, category, Monty Python Almost the Truth: The Lawyer’s Cut. It’s a 90-minute cut down version of IFC’s six hour documentary series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the comedy troupe that stands on its own.

After the screening LA Times movie critic and Oscarologist (this Hollywood term makes me laugh derisively) Peter Hammond led a panel discussion.

Present: Pythons Eric Idle and Terry Jones, and two of the series’ three directors: Bill Jones (yes, son of Terry) and Ben Timlett.

Missing: Pythons John Cleese, Graham Chapman (deceased in 1989), Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam.

Monty Python panel

L to R: Pete Hammond, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Bill Jones, & Ben Tillet

Photo by Craig T. Miller

Fathers’ and sons’ expectations

Bill Jones prevailed upon the group, presumably starting with his father, to sit through in-depth interviews that lasted up to three hours. So this will be THE definitive series on the group. It peers into the Pythons’ childhoods and how their fathers influenced them.

Jones fils, who edited the series, when asked about he dealt with the volume of footage, commented, “You work your way through. You select stories.”

Part 2: My observations about the panel and the Pythons’ take on comedy and the possibility of a Python reunion.

Fun & games, History/research, Television

DSLR Part 4: Game and career changer

June 2nd, 2010

Interestingly, DSLR has been a career changer for a few people. Here a Hollywood cinematographer steers his career to commercials and talks about how he shot on DSLR in this demo meeting.

Video pioneer and Pulitzer prize winning still photographer Vincent Laforet claims to have made the first DSLR video in 2008 when Canon gave him a camera to test – no strings attached. Since he had been preparing to make moving pictures for years, he was determined to succeed. He shot with mostly natural light at night in Brooklyn. Looks like a music video cum camera test to me: httpv://

Laforet has now made his first movie for which he used a Canon DSLR. Here’s the trailer:

Laforet brings a voice of sanity to the case for DSLR case so I am going to leave the last word to him. In this interview shot at NAB, he talks about DSLR and shooting documentaries. But then he talks about how filmmaking skills are paramount. Here’s to keeping tools and technologies in perspective!

I look forward to hearing your experiences with DSLR in editing.

Editing practices, Technical & process