Tag Archives: 2011

Eminem for the Grammys

The Grammys recently put out a TV ad portraying the 2011 Grammy nominations leader, Eminem, with 10 of those. The result is a cool 30-second animated spot with vivid colors and various graphic elements related to Marshall Matters.

The Grammy will air on February 13th on CBS, where Em will face against The Arcade Fire, Landy Antebellum, and pop phenomenons Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber for the title of Album of the Year.

Are movie critics afraid of thinking out of the box ?

I hate to admit it, but I’m a big fan of award-shows. The Golden Globes are no exception, and I was really stoked to watch that show yesterday night. I just saw Social Network and Toy Story 3 last week so I had a better idea of what was going on with the nominations.

I liked the show overall: Ricky Gervais was funny as the host, Olivia Wilde was hot as hell and DeNiro got honored for his amazing career. But, in the end, I think the Hollywood Foreign Press failed miserably again in encouraging “out-of-the-box” cinema.

First off, let me say that I really loved Social Network. I think David Fincher is an amazing director (I’m a die-hard fan of Seven and Fight Club), Jesse Eisenberg was really good in his role, Aaron Sorkin’s script definitely deserved an award, and this movie is probably the first that is able to portrait recent events such as the Facebook story without leaving you with the bitter taste of deja vu and “we already know all that” in your mouth. Bottom line, if you haven’t seen it, rent it right away, it’s awesome.

BUT, there’s a but. This year, Inception made the cut as one of the five nominees for Best Picture – Drama, and in my opinion, it deserved to win by a mile, if not two. Let’s get this straight, how many times do we read sentences like “the story was same old same old” and “the movie lacked originality” in various movie critics. Pretentious critics are fast to notice these flaws, and their not shy of expressing their opinions in their reviews.

Now, here you have this epic thriller/sci-fi movie, with a concept never before seen, with an all-star cast (it’s a scandal that DiCaprio was not nominated for Best Actor) and a story that challenges your intelligence to the next level. Let’s face it, movies like Inception come once every 5, maybe 10 years. What was the last mega Hollywood blockbuster that messed up with your head the way Inception did ? For me I think it was Memento, also directed by Christopher Nolan, and that was 11 years ago, in 2000, and saying it was a Blockbuster is pushing it way too hard.

Inception is also beautifully directed, and without taking away anything from Mr. Fincher, it was most likely a lot more challenging movie to direct than Social Network. The story is heavily complex, but the way it is told makes it perfectly understandable if you’re concentrated, and this can only be achieved by an experienced, highly-talented director, which Mr. Nolan is.

Also, I’m not saying IMDB’s Top 250 list is an absolute reference, but when a movie is #7 just months after its release, it must mean it’s pretty good, no ? Even Black Swan is 108 positions in front of the Social Network, which appears at #160. People might not know cinema like movie critics, but we’re not talking about a controversial battle for first or second place, we’re talking about 153 positions separating the two movies in the eyes of the public’s opinion.

Now why would movie critics not give the Best Picture – Drama award to Inception ? Are their condescending selves shy of publicly liking a movie involving science fiction ? Is it bad for this very select and elitist group of person to recognize a movie involving visual effects ? Probably not, since Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Best Picture at the Oscars back in ’04. What is it then ? I’m waiting for an answer.

Had it been any other year, I would have shut my mouth and congratulated the Social Network team for their wins. But this is just a shame. Inception is a movie like no other, while Fincher’s movie is something that has been seen before and that we’ll see again in the future. I blame those critics for the lack of originality in today’s cinema, because letting a movie like Inception go without any recognition is encouraging established and aspiring filmmakers to play it safe, not take risks, and do like everybody else. To the critics, you’re the only ones to blame for your recurring “the story lacked originality” sentences.

Worst ad of the year already ?

It’s kind of a shame that my first blog post of 2011 is a rant about an ad, but I couldn’t let this thing pass by. I just saw an ad for the furniture store, The Brick, and I think it’s going to be difficult to be removed from the throne of worst ad of the year.

The ad shows Hayley Wickenheiser walking in The Brick and starts shooting pucks at an old washer… Ok so let me figure this out. Did the ad agency think that just because Wickenheiser was in the commercial that it made it good ? If your “celebrity” has to wear her hockey jersey with her name written on the back, it MAY mean that this person isn’t famous enough to have a big impact in an ad. Honestly, I have much respect for Wickenheiser and I think she’s one of the best female hockey players ever, but let’s face it, less than 1/100th of Canadians know who she is, and I’m being generous here.

Now, why is there a 1997 washer in the middle of state-of-the-art front-load washers all around ? Because the producers were too cheap to afford one of those new ones to be beaten up by slap shots ? Doesn’t this make Samsung (the advertised product) look like an old company ?

And finally, why the hell is she shooting pucks at a washer ? Ah, right, because she’s a hockey player ! Of course, Crosby and company always shoot pucks in appliances stores to see if they’re good.

This ad just plain sucks. Shame on the ad agency that came up with this concept.

Plenty Humanwear – The Natural Path

Two years ago, when I first heard that Greg Desjardins was starting a new clothing brand, I have to be honest with everyone, I told myself “not another guy who thinks he can just start printing t-shirts and become a clothing brand”.

Only after speaking with him for hours about his project did I understand that Plenty Humanwear was really going to be something else. I had never seen such devotion, perfectionism and attention to detail in someone starting a project. The idea behind the project, the branding, the prints, the designs…everything seemed so professional that one could hardly guess this was an emerging brand held by (at that time) only one guy with the help of a few people. Of course, this hard-working attitude eventually sparked a lot of interest in me, and I felt like I wanted to be part of the project.

At the end of this summer, we were having diner at a friend’s house, and I decided to offer Greg my help if he needed anything video-related for Plenty. A few weeks later, he called me back and we had our first meeting with his new associate and long-time friend, Pierre-Nicolas Lessard. Honestly, after that first meeting, I felt kind of insecure. The guys really had a very defined idea about the video they wanted to produce as a teaser for their upcoming Summer 2011 collection, called The Natural Path. They wanted to do a first-person abstract short film demonstrating the contrasts between the urban scenery and natural landscapes. Let’s face it, I tend to have a more corporate style, even in my personal projects, and I tend to have a very photographic style, where the camera doesn’t move much and the framing is 50% of the shot’s quality.

I was about to embark on a project filmed entirely with a Glidecam and a Canon T2i, without any actors except the main character’s point of view, which was actually me featuring Pierre-Nic’s arms. As insecure as I felt, I was also really looking forward to this challenge that would make me step out of my comfort zone.

We shot the film over 4 days, in non-summer-like weather, which was our biggest challenge. The leaves were already starting to change color and the sky was always cloudy. We had to make sure every shot could be portrayed as a middle-of-July image, to really fit the 2011 Summer collection. We managed to do pretty good in that domain, and with a bit of color grading we were able to get warmer tones that the original images didn’t provide us.

The editing had its challenges too. Going from city to nature back and forth without losing the viewer’s attention was hard, and each transition and flash had to be thought through. And after that, the color grading between the incredibly different sceneries was a tedious job too. We had to make sure every shot felt like it belonged in the same “universe” even if they were filmed in totally different locations, different times of the day, and also simply, on different days.

In the end, I think the feel of the video is exactly what the Plenty guys were looking for, and for my part, I think I succeed the challenge that was set for me !

**You can see behind the scenes photos and an article at: http://www.plenty-humanwear.com/summer-2011-video-making-of/