Monday, June 3, 2013

Clawson native directs Pixar film 'Monsters University'

Clawson native directs Pixar film 'Monsters University'

From a young age, Clawson native Dan Scanlon loved to draw, dreaming someday he would work for Walt Disney animation.

At 36 years old, Scanlon has achieved those goals and is now making his directorial debut in Pixar’s new film “Monsters University.”

Scanlon, a graduate of Clawson High School, began doing illustrations as a young child.

His mother, Betty Zych of Rochester, said even when he was in kindergarten, her son was an artist.

“The background is his father died when Dan was 17 months and I have another son, Bill, and he was 3,” Zych said. “His father died in a car accident, so I raised them myself. Dan loved to draw from an early age — he was always drawing.”

Scanlon received recognition around town as a preteen and teen, as he drew caricatures at parties, won contests and was featured on local news.

“I drew a lot as a little kid — I loved drawing,” Scanlon said. “And I think that turned into an interest in animation and an interest in film. ... I think I always (had an interest in film). I got an 8MM camera when I was a kid that shot 24 frames per second and that got me into film.”

Zych said: “When he was a little older, he would film videos for public access, he and his friends and his brother. He just loved doing video and filming from a really young age.”

When Scanlon was still preparing for college, the family took a trip to Disney World. Zych said she asked for suggestions on schools that they would recommend for someone that is interested in doing animation, and Disney supplied them with a list of schools.
The two picked the Columbus College of Art in Design, where Scanlon ultimately received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in illustration on a full scholarship.

“I think I always wanted to work in movies somehow,” Scanlon said. “I certainly dreamt of working for Disney and then at the time when I was younger, Pixar was making mainly animated shorts, but I was a huge fan of their shorts. I definitely wanted to work for them, but I just wasn’t sure that it was a job that anyone had yet at that point. It’s amazing that they’ve kind of grown as a company and are making these great films. I just feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work there.”

After school, Zych said Scanlon got a job with Character Builders, an animation studio in Columbus and then started at Pixar in 2001.

He served as a Disney storyboard artist for “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” and “101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure.” His work on previous films led to Pixar asking him to direct “Monsters University.”

“I was a big fan of the first movie (‘Monsters, Inc.’), I actually started at Pixar the month that Monsters, Inc. came out,” Scanlon said. “I was luckily asked to direct this film.

“I think that I was asked just because I had just worked in the story department on the movie ‘Cars’ for many years with John Lasseter and I had also worked on ‘Toy Story 3’ for a lot of years. I think just my story background is what got me this job.

“That, and I had made my own feature animated film during the time I was working on ‘Cars’ and ‘Toy Story 3,’ I made a film called ‘Tracy’ ... I think that it always helps that they know I can tell a feature-length story.”

Scanlon also co-directed the Pixar short “Nader and the Ghostlight” with Lasseter.

“I always hoped (he would be this successful), when he was younger, he loved cartoons. I always hoped it, but it takes a lot of luck too,” Zych said. “... It’s wonderful because that was always his dream.”

“Monsters University” is Pixar’s first prequel, which was exciting for Scanlon.
“It’s actually Pixar’s first prequel, so it takes place before Monsters Incorporated, which has its own challenges, but they’re fun challenges,” Scanlon said. “Learning how you tell a story where audiences, more or less, know how it ends. But I think they’ll be surprised.”

Directing the film was a different experience than working on the storyboard, Scanlon said.

Scanlon said: “It was pretty educational, as a story artist you really only see the movie as rough drawings and maybe some early-on animation and next time you really see it is when it’s done and it’s colored and beautiful.

“For me to get to actually watch the process and see how individual artists and technicians better the film as it goes was an amazing learning process. I got to watch the film and guide the film through that entire process, which was very different than being in the story department — that was one of the biggest takeaways, was seeing how that process works.”

Scanlon said that audiences can expect the same level of humor as “Monsters, Inc.”

“We definitely wanted to have a fun college movie, but also they will be pleasantly surprised by the level of emotion that it has and heart,” Scanlon said.

“It was really important to me and the crew to try to capture that, which was a big part of the first film, as well. Even though this is a fun college movie, it’s very much about another part of college, which is self-discovery and realizing life’s going to be a little harder than you thought and realizing that you need to learn a few things about yourself. That can sometimes be difficult, but sometimes it can be really eye-opening.”

The film will be released in theaters nationwide on June 21, which is also Scanlon’s 37th birthday. It is rated G.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Keeping Michigan's movie incentive program at $50M

From M-Live, keeping the Michigan film incentive at 50M is on track. As for me, I can't agree more. It does create jobs and inspite of our govenor, the program works. 


Keeping Michigan's movie incentive program at $50M 'right thing to do,' lawmakers say


filmincentives.jpgMichigan's film incentive program is set to remain at $50 million next fiscal year. 
LANSING, MI - Rep. Tim Greimel – leader of the Democratic caucus in the Michigan House – says negatives outweigh positives in the state’s next budget plan. That’s why he voted against a broad state budget bill this week.
But even Greimel finds some things to like in the $49.5 billion plan that the Republican-led Legislature is approving for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Chief among them: the agreement to keep Michigan’s movie and film incentive program funded at its current $50 million.
“It’s not that there’s nothing good in this budget. There are indeed some positive elements here,” Greimel said this week, singling out the film incentive money in particular. Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said it is a “proven method and incentive that creates thousands of jobs across our state while diversifying our economy.”
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said keeping the film incentive funding in place was “the right thing to do” and will help develop the industry’s workforce by keeping the flow of projects consistent.
“I think that was a good piece of the overall budget,” Richardville said. “It’s not every day you get a chance to attract sometimes worldwide attention and keep young people in an exciting industry. So even beyond just the pure economic return, I think there a lot of other reasons why it was important.”
Michael Bay’s "Transformers 4" project is among those recently approved for film incentives in the state.
Related: Some details of Michigan's $49.5B budget plan
The Senate will vote on the broad, multi-department budget bill that includes the incentive money – House Bill 4328 -- next week. The House approved the bill this week.
Another budget bill – House Bill 4228, which outlines education spending – has won final legislative approval and should soon be headed to Gov. Rick Snyder.
Michigan once had one of the nation’s most aggressive film incentive programs, but that has been more limited in recent years.
Earlier this year, Snyder had proposed limiting the program to $25 million for next fiscal year. A preliminary version of the budget in the House would have cut the program more than that. But legislative leaders and the Snyder administration agreed as part of budget negotiations to stick with the $50 million level.
Supporters of the program say changes have been made in recent years aimed at making sure more of the incentive money comes back to or stays with the Michigan economy.
Email Tim Martin at Follow him on Twitter: @TimMartinMI

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Maisie Knew

Onata Aprile is an extraordinary young actress  starring in What Maisie knew. A film based on the novel by Henry James published in 1897.  What Maisie Knew invites you into the chaotic world of a 6 year old girl by the name of Maisie. Played by (Onata Aprile) who is stuck between a ruthless divorce. Starring Julian Moore (Susana) and Steve Coogan (Beale) both introduced as Maisie's selfish bitter sweet parents. Julian Moore does a phenomenal job playing a striving Rock Star Mom, who apparently will need to make a decision for the well being of Maisie. Some of us strive for a good twist, well this film definitely has one.  It's Simplicity in delivering such a strong story line was magnificent and original. Four stars to Directors Scott Mcghee, David Siegal, and Writers Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Maisie Knew

 What Maisie Knew is an excellent film shown recently as part of the Gathr film series at The Maple in Bloomfield Twp. This film is exceptionally done and stars Julianne Moore and other actors that make this an emotional powerhouse movie. While I am not here to give away major plot points, Maisie (the child played by Onata Aprile) shows a child trying to deal emotionally with parents who have split up and use Maisie as a wedge to get back at each other. The movie spirals and Maisie is left with two people who provide her the emotional stability to deal with her very confusing life. If you have ever dealt with abusive parents during divorce who get back at the other and are too much of an emotional mess, this movie will have points ring home throughout the movie. The website and trailers are at the links below. To find out more about Gathr films, click the icon to the right. The movie show each Tuesday at The Maple through June.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Michigan film incentive program likely to stay at $50 million as part of budget plan

Making movies: Michigan film incentive program likely to stay at $50 million as part of budget plan

Tim Martin | By Tim Martin |
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on May 23, 2013 at 8:14 AM
filmincentives.jpgMichigan's film incentive program could remain at $50 million next fiscal year. 
It’s looking like Michigan’s incentive program for movies and other films will remain at $50 million in the upcoming state budget year.
That’s the general consensus among Republican leaders after they agreed to broad budget targets this week. Lawmakers in the Republican-led Legislature are expected to start voting on final versions of budget bills soon.
"I think that the industry in order to be sustained has to stay at the current level of $50 million,” Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said this week after budget targets were agreed upon by Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. “I don’t think there was any strong objection to that.”
Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for Snyder’s budget office, also said that there is agreement to keep the film incentive program at $50 million.
The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Michigan once had one of the nation’s most aggressive film incentive programs, but that has been more limited in recent years. The program is set at $50 million in the current fiscal year.
Earlier this year, Snyder had proposed limiting the program to $25 million for next fiscal year. A preliminary version of the budget in the House would have cut the program more than that. But it now appears the program will remain at its current levels.
Richardville said changes have been made in recent years designed to help make sure more of the incentive money comes back to or stays with the Michigan economy.
The state approved more than $408 million worth of film incentives on more than $1 billion in estimated expenditures from April 2008 through September 2012. As of March 2012, about $161 million in incentives had been paid out

Monday, May 20, 2013

Detroit Filmmaker using martial arts as a backdrop to films.

Detroit Filmmaker Uses Martial Arts Skills To Produce Action Films

Tom Henry, right, CEO of Dragon Films
Tom Henry, right, CEO of Dragon Films
terrilee3 Reporting Terri Lee Sylvester
DETROIT (WWJ) – Move over, Jackie Chan! A local filmmaker is starting to make waves with his independently-produced action films.
Detroiter Tom Henry has been practicing martial arts for 40 years. And, for the past several, he’s been using his knowledge to give aspiring actors a “leg up” in the film industry.
“What to do as far as fighting for the camera,” Henry said. “It was about 200-300 people, and I taught them how to act. Then after that, I taught them how to fight for the camera.”
Hundreds of those Henry trained appeared in his independently-produced feature film, “Detroit Uncut.”
“We premiered that in 2009 to a sold-out crowd in the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit,” Henry added.
Now, Henry is preparing for the premiere of his second feature: “Act of Vengeance”.
“It’s about a cop that goes undercover to bust this big organization, and they find out who he is and they have him killed. Then, his father steps in, who’s a former CIA agent, to finish what his son started.”
The film’s premiere is set for Saturday, June 8, 2013 at the Detroit Boxing Jungle, 7455 Greenfield Road, in Detroit. Doors open at 6p.m. For more information on the premiere and/or Henry’s film company, Dragon Films, visit his website here.
Looking further ahead, Henry will be holding another stunt camp in July. Those attending the camp will be taught how to fight and how to use weapons in movies. He says more information on the camp will be posted on his website soon.  Who knows?  The latest group of students may just see themselves in Henry’s next flic

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cinetopia International Film Festival June 6-9, 2013

Cinetopia International Film Festival
June 6-9, 2013 - Ann Arbor - Detroit

Experience more than 40 of the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Berlin – all selected exclusively for Cinetopia by the Michigan Theater programming team.
Cinetopia honors the rich world history of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding screenwriters through special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and stars.
Venues include the Michigan Theater’s historic auditorium and screening room, the State Theater in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan’s Angell Hall, and the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Learn more about Cinetopia.
Entry deadline is May 27, 2013
Note: Only one entry per person. For complete giveaway rules, click here.