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Leonard

Rausch

HOW TO MAKE ASSASSIN’S CREED: THE MOVIE

So I’m a huge fan of Assassins Creed. I played every single game and still vividly remember playing the first one with a friend on his computer. As I became more and more interested in filmmaking, I started to think about how to turn this world into a movie. How to approach the characters, the stories and the overall vibe of the games, so that they are accurately portrait on the big screen.

Over the time I came up with what I believe is a pretty good outline for an Assassin’s Creed movie. Now I know that they already made a movie, which kind of renders my ideas as useless, but thats why I thought I might just share them with you. I hope you enjoy.

So without further ado, here is my take on:

How To Make Assassin’s Creed: The Movie

Now Assassins Creed is an action game. Everybody knows that. But it’s also a stealth game. So our story sets of in a museum. It is night. Old statues and ceramics show us, that it’s some sort of ancient history museum. Prehistoric daggers and shields are presented in the dark cabinets. Everything is silent and still, apart from…A young girl, all dressed in black is sneaking through the corridors. She is looking for something. Wants to steel something. Carefully she’s looking around another corner. There it is. The artifacts she’s been looking for. The apple of eden. She approaches it carefully. But just as she is about to open the cabinet, a security guard enters frame. He is shining his flashlight into the darkness and then…onto the girl. Without the need to be quite anymore, the girl makes a leap and sprints past the guard outside the front gate. He immediately calls for back up.

Out on the streets the girl starts running. And we notice, that she’s actually pretty good at it. She’s jumping over and sliding under obstacles. But the police is on her toes now. With a lot of skill she starts climbing a building to get to the rooftop.The chase continues with her being on the roof, the police down on the streets. She jumps over a gap and manages to get away for a second until…bam…She runs into some kind of balustrade. She looks down. It’s a 30 feet drop. There is a swimming pool down there, but the girl hesitates. She looks back. The police will be there any minute. She looks down again. And we can see it in her eyes..she’s afraid of heights. Struggling to surpass her fear the girl slowly gets up onto the balustrade. One last look behind her. She’s ready to jump, when…bum. She gets tackled from the side. Black.

Voices. The girl slowly opens her eyes. She is in the back of a transporter, tied to some kind of stretcher. A woman in her 30s is looking over her. Immediately the girl starts screaming. ,Let me go! I didn’t do anything. You are not allowed to do that.‘ The woman looks at her. Amused. ,This might hurt a bit‘ She runs a needle into the girls arm and takes some of her blood. The girl isn’t pleased at all. ,What the fuck is wrong with you? You can’t do that. Who are you guys?‘ The woman puts the blood sample into a device and does some nerdy computer stuff. ,Calm down. We are friends of your fathers. We are with the Assassins Creed‘ The girl doesn’t calm down. ,What the fuck? My father is dead. And what the hell is the Assassins Creed?‘ There is voice from the drivers seat. And now we see the middle aged man driving the van. ,Are you sure you got the right girl?‘ The computer devices turn green. The woman smiles. ,I am.‘ She turns to the girl on the stretcher. ,If you don’t know who we are, I can’t tell you…but I can show you.‘ She lowers a bar over the girls face. It’s some kind of glas plate. The girl isn’t happy about that. She scream and tries to free herself.

It’s the first time that we see the animus. It is the device that helps the people in this world to access their ancestors memories. The most important device in the franchise one might say. But thats just what it is…a device. Nothing less and nothing more. So the animus should be kept as simple as possible. I personally really like the design of the first Assassins Creed game, where it was just a neat glasbar over the persons face. It is slick and it’s simple. And considering that they are in a van it’s probably some kind of self made version anyway. Nothing too fancy, because after all it’s just a device to help us explain the hight-tech stuff in this universe. No need for fancy, extravagant designs. We are interested in story. So let’s move along.

A man wakes up from a nightmare. He looks around in the small, and sparsely furnished room. Next to his is another bed. A young girl is sleeping in it. He smiles and gets up. Across the room is the opening to a balcony. Curtains are flowing in the wind. He steps onto the balcony and looks over the city. It is the same city the girl has been in…but it looks different now. More ancient. Everything is low-tech and unadvanced. The man is squinting his eyes, watching an eagle circling the towers of the city. Then he hears a noice. Someone is running up the stairs. And there are footsteps on the roof. The man turns around as he gets attacked by two hooded figures. He raises his arm to block the first hit, but the second one gets to him. One of the men reveals a hidden blade under his sleeve. He tries to cut our hero, but he puts up a good fight. Fast and aggressively he bashes his opponent into the wall. The other assassin shoves a blade into his shoulder. A small glitch, a scream, but the man continues to fight. He is strong, but the two hoods are better fighters. They attack him from both sides and one of them manages to cut his throat. Black.

A scream. The girl wakes up. She’s still tied to the stretcher. She can’t believe what she just saw. All her energy has left her body. Her voice tumbles. ,What the fuck was that?‘

And now, and only now, we can have our exposition. The woman in the van tells her everything. About her father, who was a modern day assassin, the ancestor of an assassin in the past. She tells the girl about the animus and how it is capable of showing the memories of ones ancestor. And about the apple of eden, that her father tried to find, and died in the process. ,But you already know all about that, don’t you?“ The girl didn’t know. She followed her fathers traces to find out who killed him. The apple of eden was her final lead, but she had no idea what it’s powers were…that her father was an assassin…that she is the descendant of an assassin. At this point it is also important to clarify the rules of the animus. These rules should be simple, and can never ever change.

  1. The animus allows you to access your ancestors memories at any point in time.
  2. You can walk around and explore their visions. You have free will, but have to stay in the boundaries of their world.
  3. If you kill someone that hasn’t been killed or if you get killed at the wrong time, you wake up in the animus.

,Thats why you woke up just then. Your ancestor won that fight. But you still need to train.‘

So thats what our heroin does. We have two storylines. The story of the girl in the present and the one of her ancestors in the past.

The girl quickly decides to finish what her father started. To find the apple of eden and to secure it. She is aware of the templars, that became a huge corporation in this day of age.  They want to get the apple to gain power and to rule over the world. To make sure her father didn’t die in vain, she decides to join the assassins. So the three Assassins are driving around in the van to stay unnoticed from the huge cooperation of templars, that is always looking for them and also to get to the places that the girl visits while in the animus. This is crucial to keep the modern storyline interesting and fun. The importance of a moving unit becomes more obvious when we progress in the story. And it helps us to keep the timelines in order. It’s a little trick, that I like to call „Same Place, Different Time“.

What that means, is that we can only ever change one of those things. If we go to a different place, we have to stay in the same timeline. If we switch between the timelines, the two timelines have to take place at the same location. The reason for that is, so that the audience doesn’t get confused over who is where and when. Also it makes for an interesting pattern, because you can always see the building and places in the past and then see, how time has altered them. Maybe the palace is a ruin now, maybe they build a bank where an old tavern ones was. The important thing is, that both timelines equally receive and solves clues that eventually lead to the finding of the apple. Let’s say for example, that the past assassin has buried an old text in a bathhouse. Then the modern day assassins will try to find this location and are looking for the scroll. This helps to keep both timelines interesting, engaging and most importantly connected.

So lets talk about our second storyline, where the ancestor is also looking for the apple of eden. Before we meet him he is an outlaw. A thief for hire. And after another heist for an unknown client, the two hooded figures attacked him. They were in fact assassins. But as soon as they find out, that he is a good fighter they try to recruit him. The follow the ancestor as he agrees to become an assassin and to help them find the apple of eden. The want to secure it before the emperor (or whoever main villain we choose), who sided with the templars, is able to get his hand on it. But the motives of our second protagonist are less political. He sees the opportunity in being an assassin to gain money and power. He wants to use that to make a better life for himself and his sister, the girl sleeping in the bed next to him. He has promised to keep her safe and wants to provide her with a good lifestyle. So even though he appears to be tougher one of the two hero, his motives are actually more emotional than the ones of our heroin. The past assassin also starts to train and at the end of act one both our heroes become proper assassins.

Now when it comes to the villain of the past, we can actually make up a character that is just bad. Don’t get me wrong, I like shaded bad guys, but since we already have two very layered main protagonist, I think we are on the safe side, when we create a character, that is as bad as we can imagine. And it’s also more fun. So let him be a guy of noble status. Let him be wealthy and greedy. We need to hate him. And we will…

The villains in the present are a bit more subtle. Huge corporations are neither fun in reality nor in movies. So our best option is not to show them at all. First of all that lets us connect with the main characters way more, because we can stay focused on their fear of the templars, instead of actually showing the terrifying templars. This approach also keeps the mystery that surrounds the templar order. And since you can’t actually depict a huge organization in a decent way, we might as well n0t do it at all.

Now before entering the second act, I want highlight a few elements, that are in my opinion crucial to a good assassins creed story. For me personally the Assassin’s Creed games have always been about mood. So these next chapters might be even more important than the actual story. The might seem trivial at first, but stick with me here.

One very important part of the games, especially in the newest installments, is weather. This might seem weird, but while playing in an open world, you constantly get to admire wonderful sunrises, clouded skies, rain and snow. This makes the games so much more immersive and sets up an engaging mood. So instead of just having all blue skies and sun, the Assassins Creed movie should focus on a lot of different time and weather conditions. It definitely helps to set the mood for each scenes and makes the world so much more relatable. Also, imagine our assassin trying to sneak into a bedroom. He is running across the rooftops to sneak through the window. And now imagine the same scene during a hefty and rainy storm. The task becomes so much more difficult. From jumping onto slippery rooftops to dripping water onto the floor of the bedroom. Weather truly intensives every task our assassin has to accomplish and lets us admire his wits and skill even more.

Another thing that makes these games so satisfying is the opportunity to evolve and improve your character. Now obviously that doesn’t transfer well into a movie, but there are still ways to at least slightly capture this feeling. When you are playing as your character and are waiting to unlock a certain weapon or outfit, you already know, what it is that you need and want. So in the movie, the characters (and audience) should always get a glimpse, of what’s to come. For example, the first few fights our assassin needs to face, should be without any gear at all. The assassins want to test him. But they also need to show him very early on, what kind of weapons they normally use. So that when he finally gets a hidden blade, we feel the accomplishment and the new level of skill he has reached. The money our assassin gains over the corse of the movie goes to his beloved sister, who also starts to get active. She not only renovates the house, so that we can see the changes in their lives, but she also starts society of beggars, whores and thiefs, that undermine the city, gain informations and help out wherever they can. The same principle goes for our present time assassin girl, who gets more and more involved in the mysteries of the assassins and the solving of the puzzles. Soon she is able to operate the animus all by herself and her outfit becomes stealthier with each scene.

So our two assassins are well on their way to finding the apple of eden. They gathered clues and intel and despite a few set backs, it all seems to go pretty well. Up until the midpoint of the movie, where it seems, that they only need one final clue to find the artifact. And it is at this moment, that our evil main villain is executing a devilish plan. Of corse he knows about the new assassin, that quickly climbed the ranks of this secret society. He himself as hired him once two steal a thing or two. So in order to crush him and to show, that he is in fact the villain he kills the most beloved and innocent characters of them all. Our hero’s sister. This devastating act is a major set back in our heroes journey, because it not only crushes the lonely brother, but also our young girl in the present.

This might be a good time to talk about why I chose these specific main characters for the story and why they are who they are. Now first of all, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to have the character in both timelines to be played by the same actor. It’s neither part of the games history, nor does it follow any sense of logic. So if we have two main characters, we might as well make them as different as possible. This makes for a very interesting dynamic between the two and helps us highlight the deeper aspects of their personalities. The fact that we have a young girl, that is suddenly put into a strong male body, doesn’t only make for a quick laugh, but also opens up a very intriguing storyline of self discovery. Here we have a young girl, that in her core is a tough bad ass, and there is the strong protector, who literally has a very light and young core. As time progresses we start to see more and more similarities between the two characters that seemed so different at the beginning. And as the young girl starts to spend more time in her ancestors body, she starts to feel more comfortable with each passing second. There she is, fighting the real fights, living the real live, instead of just driving around and solving clues. You could say that she get’s a little addicted. And when the emperor kills..well…her sister, she is devastated. She starts to spend more and more time in the animus, completely abandoning her own life. Totally forgetting about the apple, she has only one goal in mind. Revenge. She has to kill the emperor. He took what mattered most to her and he should feel the pain for it.

The two friends in the van get more and more concerned, but since the girl is very capable of operating the animus on her own, there is not much they can do. And as the girl gets closer and closer to the emperor, the quest for the apple fades away. Until she finally kills the bastard….and wakes up. She’s back in the present. Something is wrong. What is wrong?

,I told you. You can’t kill someone who hasn’t been killed by your ancestor‘

The old assassin hasn’t killed the emperor. He didn’t do anything about the killing of his sister. The girl is devastated. How could he just live on?

,When your father died you didn’t seek revenge. Instead you tried to finish what he started. You stayed true to the mission. And so did your ancestor.‘

The truth hurts and the girl realizes, that her little vendetta has cost them a lot of time and act three is arriving rapidly.

Luckily there aren’t many clues left to solve. And after a little readjustment they are back on track. The ancestor is very close to the apple of eden. It is hidden in an old cave. He approaches the golden artifact. A device, that is created by the gods, capable of showing the past, the present and the future. With raw emotions he reaches out and touches the apple. Faded memories of the past circle him. Ancient assassins that interacted with the apple. And then there is another memory. One that he doesn’t understand. Can’t understand. It’s a young girl, that is reaching for the apple. And right when she is about to touch it, she gets stabbed in the back. The assassin is confused. He doesn’t know who that person is. But our girl does. She wakes up in the animus and the fight begins. Her saviors, the two assassins in the van…they were templars. They used her to get to the information. Now that they know where to find the apple, the girl is useless and they try to kill her. But the girl is now highly trained. All the time spent in the animus has left her with a strong mind and the power to kill. In the final battle, that takes place in the present, she defends the apple of eden. The animus gets destroyed in the process, but the girl is able to kill the templars.

With a sense of remorse, the weight of knowledge and a nostalgic heart the girl climbs the city and sits on the rooftops looking over the world. Not afraid of heights anymore. Changed forever. Her mission is finished…or has it just started?

An ending that gives the audience a sense of fulfillment but also leaves the opportunity for a sequel. (As you do these days). And that is another good thing about our two protagonists. We are now able to keep what worked and to change what didn’t. We can revisit both of our characters. Or we can have the girl visit another ancestor of hers, or some other modern day assassin visits the same assassin in the past. Whatever suits us best, whatever the audience desires. Because just like the games, the movie should be able to capture fans for years on end.

Well and that is pretty much it. Obviously it’s just a very rough outline, not even mentioning all the historic facts and storylines that need to be woven in by the amazing Ubisoft team. But since this is a story arc, that would work with any time period I decided to leave that part up to someone else….

Please let me know if you like this concept and if you would watch that movie. If you didn’t like it, let me know what you would have done differently. How does your perfect Assassins Creed Movie look like? Do you think it’s possible to adapt games into feature films? I’m looking forward to your comments. And thanks for sticking around until the very end.

Lenny

 

 

 

Radio

Harry Potter and the Secret of Sequels

SEQUELS


Despite the bad rap they always get, I’m actually a fan of sequels. They have the unique opportunity to bring us back to a place that we already know even though it doesn’t exist. When done right, they  further develop an emotional journey that we witnessed and exceed our  greatest expectations that came with the first installment.

But after getting out of yet another miserable sequel of a once awesome movie, I’m faced with the same old question.

Why do they suddenly forget how to write a fucking screenplay?

I mean they did it right the first time. The motives and character developments were solid, the plot had a decent pace and the emotions seemed to be oh so crystal clear. Everything work out. That’s the reason why they were able to do a sequel in the first place. Because they made a good movie. And then suddenly, as the second installment comes around everything is all over the place. The story is almost non-existent. Characters get introduced without any reason at all…and are killed off minutes later. The motivations of the main protagonist are a mess. Like an actual mess that no one seems to be able to unravel.

And no line of witty dialogue or a well rehearsed action scene is capable of covering that up.

THE SECRET OF THE SEQUEL

But the most frustrating part about it..it’s not that hard to write a good sequel. Honestly. The secret is actually surprisingly simple. And I will prove it to you using one of the best sequel in movie history:
The Harry Potter saga. Especially it’s first three installments: Philosopher Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. With a very simple trick J.K. Rowling managed to capture an audience for years on end and create one of the most immersive fantasy-worlds in modern writing.

So if your are a movie buff that is sick and tired of awful sequels or you are a producer, screenwriter, filmmaker and eager to continue your story, listen up. Because here is the secret to Harry Potters immense success…

It’s all the same story.

KNOW YOUR GENRE

Now despite IMDb or common believe the Harry Potter movies aren’t actual fantasy stories. Sure they have magic and dragons and stuff, but in their core the movies (and books) are mystery stories. Three young students on their way to discover a mystery that needs to be solved. Gregory Austin McConnell actually described that pretty well in his essay on ,The cursed child’ and why it didn’t seem like a normal ,Harry-Potter-Story’.

So each year again and again Harry, Ron and Hermione come across a mission that they need to solve. They gather clues and informations and go on to overpower the bad guy with wit, skill and bravery. And although that doesn’t seem like much, most sequels forget what genre the original movie was even in. Because genre is not defined by the costumes, special effects or set pieces of the movie. It’s defined by its writing.

Side note: One solid way testing of whether a story is a mystery or an action adventure is by looking at it’s climax. An action adventure usually ends with an epic battle of good versus evil. Whereas in the Harry Potter stories…they are just talking. And I don’t say thats bad. I like the talking. But there is a lot of it!

The fact, that Harry Potter stories are mysteries becomes also fairly obvious when you watch (or read) Chamber of Secrets, where one of the characters is actually called Tom Riddle. The clue is in the name. And this leads me to the next similarity between all three of the movies.

MYSTERIOUS BAD GUY

 The antagonist. When Harry first discovers Toms Diary he takes him as a fine young man. He believes his stories and follows his advice. It’s only later on that he discovers that said young man is actually Lord Voldemort. Now this twist in character is seen almost throughout the entire Harry Potter franchise.

Lets take a look at year one: There we have Professor Quirrell who is portrait as a shy, stuttering mite only to find out the he was scheming to steel the philosopher stone all along. Even more important is the surprising turn of Professor Snape. Harry, Ron and Hermione strongly believe that he is eager to steal the stone himself, when in reality he tried to protect it.

In the second book (and film) this shift is seen in Professor Lockhart who is introduced as a stunning wizard. But when his moment comes he reveals himself to be a cocky liar who doesn’t know anything about anything. Tom Riddle on the other hand, who seemed so innocent, is revealed to be the true antagonist. Even the usual suspect Draco Malfoy is declared innocent when we find out, that it was the little Ginny who set the Basilisk free.

Not to bore you, but to complete the example, we go on to the third installment. There we have Sirius Black, in my opinion the greatest written character in human history, who is introduced as the most dangerous criminal the wizzarding- (and muggle-) world has ever seen. After Lord Voldemort that is. Only to discover later in the story that he was the good guy all along and that it was Ron’s Rat Scabbers aka Peter Pettigrew who committed all these crimes.

So every time we have a surprising change in character. It’s a motive that keeps recurring so I’m pretty sure you can find the character twist in the fourth book on your own.

,But this is merely a similarity in theme not in structure‘, you might say. And sure, although all these characters identities are revealed at roughly the same time in the story, I might let you have the argument. So lets dig deeper.

SAME PROCEDURE AS LAST YEAR

Each year starts with Harry being at the Dursleys.

Having the same starting point, just like in a sitcom really helps to capture the audience expectation of the previous movie.

But the Dursleys are boring. We want something magical to happen. So sure enough, in his first year, Harry frees a snake at the zoo. On accident of corse. Next year Dobby destroys the desert. Something that Harry didn’t plan on either. And in the third movie Harry blows up his aunt. This happens at almost the exact time in each book and get’s Harry in some trouble. Luckily there is someone or something to help him out of it. In book one Hagrid comes along and declares that Harry is indeed a wizzard. Second year it’s the Weasley Brothers who do the saving. And lastly we have the Knight Bus arriving to save the day.

It’s the exact same procedure each year again. Harry is at the Dursleys. He does something magical, gets into trouble and is saved by an ally. Same for all three stories? Then lets move on.

SAME PROCEDURE AS EVERY YEAR

One of the more ingenious ideas of J.K. Rowling is aligning the plot points of the story arc with the holidays of the year. So when Halloween comes around you can be sure something will happen. It’s a troll in the dungeons! Oh, there is a bloody message on the wall. Sirius attacked the fat lady. It’s the time of ghosts and horror. So let the bad guy close in. They might as well close the school over Halloween, because it’s getting way to dangerous.

Luckily Christmas isn’t far away. And it’s the Holiday of joy and love. And present!

So let’s give Harry something to help him defeat the bad guy. Like a cloak that makes him invisible. Or a potion that turns him into someone else. Or a map that let’s him get around unseen. It is Christmas after all…

And there are more patterns like this. Quidditch is there to hurt Harry. Whether it’s his broomstick that is out of control, or the Bludgers or the Dementors.

The forbidden forrest adds tension. And in order to get to the bad guy, Harry has to go down – like actually underground.

CHARACTERS


But not just the events in Hogwarts are boiled down to their singular meaning. Every character in the Harry Potter story has one purpose and one purpose only. They act on the framework of their personality and help or hinder Harry in his mission to save the wizzarding world.

Lets take Hagrid for example. He sure likes his creatures. That is his mayor character property. And every year he gets himself and one of his creatures into trouble. In the first year Harry, Ron and Hermione need to help him get rid of his Baby Dragon Norbert. Next they visit his pet Spider Aragog to prove his innocence. In the Prisoner of Azkaban they free Hagrid’s Hippogriff Buckbeak that is sentenced to death.

It’s a repeating pattern, that always stays the same. In each of the three stories Hagrid has some trouble with one of his creatures and needs help from our protagonists. And it’s not just Hagrid who keeps on playing the same song over and over again. But I’m sure you figured that out by now.

THE FINAL

So now that Hagrid is saved from his troubles lets focus on the bad guy, alright? We are almost at the end of the year. Harry, Ron and Hermione have gathered enough intel to take on the bad guy. But since Harry is our Hero he has to face him on his own. So let’s have Ron fall from a horse and Hermione not drink the potion. They’ve done their part. Harry can go on on his own now. Well next year is no different apart from the fact, that Hermione got knocked out pretty early on, leaving Ron and Harry to go down the Chamber of Secret. And if you think this is unfair and that Hermione should get her screen time as well, just take a look at Prisoner Of Azkaban, where it’s Ron who stays in the Hospital bed so that Harry and Hermione can pair up to save the world.

IN CONCLUSION

So these are just a few similarities between the three first books of the Harry Potter franchise. It’s actually quite the fun exercise to find the similarities between the stories. I have only pointed out the major plot points, but when you dig deeper, you will find different character flaws, situations or even sentences that are repeated throughout the series. I’m sure you will be able to find some more parallels on your own. And I’m also sure, that you might be able to figure out why the Order Of The Phoenix didn’t seem to work that well. But before you start screaming, heres a little disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER

I’m not writing all this to denigrate J.K. Rowling. I’m not saying: Oh she’s so lazy. She just wrote the same story over and over again and made millions of dollars off of i’.
Quite the opposite actually. I want more writers to be brave enough to stick to their story. Because in the end, it’s all one song anyways.
I think that J.K. Rowling’s imagination really proves her skill in writing. You can tell the old story over and over again. But making up flying cars, little boys trapped in diaries, a tree that tries to kill you, Dementors (frankly the best creature ever created in human history (if you want to call them ,created‘ that is)) or even the Knight Bus. These are all highly original ideas. Especially when you think about how smoothly they are woven into the story structure of these mystery books.

ADDING CHARACTERS

Now there is one last thing I want to talk about before I leave you to it. And that is scale. Most of the franchise seem to be build around one statement and one statement only: The more the merrier. Just take a look at the casting list of Pirates of The Caribbean 2 vs. it’s predecessor. It almost doubled. Every time Hollywood gets it’s hands on a franchise they suddenly start to bring up side-characters, side-quests, side-stories. Without any need for them at all. Because all that does is to distract us from the main character.

Compare that to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where J.K. Rowling introduces just two new major characters. Gilderoy Lokchart and Tom Riddle. And one of them is a replacement for poor Professor Quirrell. That means, that most of the plot is wrapped around our three main protagonists Harry, Ron and Hermione (aka the ones that actually matter). And it works. Because the characters are strong and complex enough to stand on their own. You could tell a story of the three friends walking around in the forest and it would still be interesting…oh wait scratch that. But you get the point. Additional characters don’t further your plot, they don’t enhance the intensity of the story. They are cunning devise to try to avoid to deal with the main protagonist.

So if you are writing a sequel try the following. You are only allowed to replace the characters that died or disappeared in the original story and add one additional character. Like in Chamber of Secrets or in Prisoner Of Azkaban where you have Lockhart who is replaced by Lupin, Tom Riddle who is replaced by Wormtail and the one we want to add is Serius Black. No that is strong writing. To be able to trust your characters beyond explosion and action scenes and to be able to explore them even in the silent moments, where there is no distraction.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

There are two reasons why people come back to see more. The story and the characters. You can make up the most hideous things (like a time-traveling necklace), as long as you stay true to the story and the character you created in the first place. People want to see something new, sure. But when they let their imagination flow, they don’t come up with new interesting side character. They make up stories of who is going to pair up with whom. They stay within the boundaries of the world you created. And so should you!

Because as I said. Sequels are awesome. If they are done right!

Radio

The Power Of The Anti-Bathos

THE BATHOS

I recently came across a very good video essay describing the overuse of bathos in modern Hollywood blockbusters. I highly recommend checking it out and then coming back to this article.
If you don’t want to waste your monthly data volume however, I will summ it up quickly.

Bathos is, when you break the emotion of a scene with a contradictory emotion for comedic purposes.
We’ve all seen it. We are in the middle of an epic scene, everybody is pumped, and then…there is a joke. Someone says something trivial, something that completely breaks the tension…for a laugh.

This type of comedy, though very effective, often comes at great cost. The dramatic feel of the moment. Everything the scene has build up to just gets wiped clean and we start again from square one.

In most movies it actually seems like the creators  have gotten ashamed of genuine emotions. Nothing can be simply epic, romantic or sad anymore. Everything has to be delivered with a wink. And though I definitely agree, that every art should include a healthy amount of self-irony, the bathos has kind of taken over of late.

THE POWER OF THE ANTI-BATHOS

But I’m not here to denigrate the bathos. I actually want to talk about a different approach. Its a concept that I very much adore and love. All my favorite movie use it. It’s something I like to call the Anti-Bathos.

Pirates Of The Caribbean is based on a Disney Ride. It’s a stupid, money-making idea. But instead of making a movie that is self aware of it’s pointless origins and winks at the audience a lot, Ted Elliott, Terry Rosso and co. started one of the most successful franchises in modern movie history. And not because its a huge Disney Production, but because they approached the story, the characters and the ,base-material‘ with genuine care and honesty. All the protagonists motives are clear as day, the decisions are difficult and if they use bathos (and yes they do) it underlines the personality of the characters.

SO WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

So what do I mean by Anti-Bathos? Well, basically it’s when you take something absurd, something stupid or trivial and approach it from a very serious angle. So no matter how strange the story is you’re trying to tell, you always take your protagonists seriously. You care for their desires and you challenge them with real threats (within the rules of their world).

Now they could have started PotC with a funny montage of drunken Captain Jack Sparrow fighting, or with an epic ,ride-like‘ pan across the whole Caribbean. But they decided to introduce us to the world with a very moody scene. Elizabeth Swan (our main-protagonist) stands on a ship that sails through the foggy ocean. She is singing a tiny, little song, a song that was a loud chanty in the original ride. It’s a genuine approach to the pirates lore. There is no funny business. Not yet. The first written joke actually appears way beyond the 10 min mark. And it gets funny and it gets epic, but the two never battle for the same spot.

,MODERN‘ ANTI-BATHOS

There are a lot of movies, that successfully use the Anti-Bathos. A man with scissors for hands is a stupid concept. A panda learning Kung-Fu could be discarded as outrageous. And yes, a teen-age boy in tights swinging through New York isn’t the most grounded idea either. And still they all approached their characters with true passion. They took their protagonist (and therefor their audiences) desires seriously. Thats why Edward Scissorhands, Kung Fu Panda and Spider-Man are extremely immersive movies.

MASTER OF BOTH BATHOSES

But if you want to see the Anti-Bathos in its best form you have to watch ,dying‚. The YouTube success by former Viner Evan Breen aka LA Turtle. It’s a ten minute conversation of a family (all members are played by Breen himself) and it gets intense quickly. The conversation is as stupid as it can get. But with Breen’s acting, the on-point editing and the epic music, the viewer gets sucked into the families struggles immediately. The best part about it though: Breen uses Bathos…a LOT. Almost every major joke is based on the bathos. But instead of using it to exit a scene or to shy away from an emotion, he uses it to bring us to the next level of intensity. Every time he breaks the scene with bathos he re-enters it with even more pathos. This way we never get thrown out as a viewer, but instead are kept in the world of the video.

So next time you watch a movie that is both epic and funny and doesn’t sacrifice one for the other, think of the screenwriter. Because this is not lazy screenwriting. It’s the Anti-Bathos. And if it works, you are in for a ride!

Ruhe

Just don’t do it – Eine Ode ans Nichtstun

JUST DO IT

Just Do It. Das Motto einer Generation. Und wieso nicht? Es steht ja alles bereit. Man braucht nur die Hände auszustrecken und hat alle Mittel zur Verfügung.

Als ich nach Jericho gefahren bin, habe ich zum Beispiel ganz bewusst keine technischen Geräte mitgenommen. Ich wollte mich nicht ablenken lassen und am Ende nur Filme im Hotel gucken. Ich wollte rausgehen und Dinge sehen. Mit meinen eigenen Augen wahrnehmen. Das einzige, was ich also dabei hatte, war mein Handy. Und als mich nach vier Tagen doch der Drang nach kreativem Ausgleich überkam, habe ich einfach angefangen, kleine Filmchen mit dem Telefon zu drehen. In iMovie geschnitten, mit GarageBand die Musik gemacht, auf Instagram hochgeladen. Und klar, es geht. Also – ,Just do it‘?

SCHAUSPIELEN HEIßT WARTEN

Als Schauspieler sieht das etwas anders aus. Meist wird man als letztes ans Set geholt und als erstes zurück gebracht. Und was in der Zeit dazwischen passiert, ist nur zu einem wirklich kleinen Teil schauspielern. Während die Beleuchter leuchten und die Bühne baut wartet man als Schauspieler. Erst wenn alles eingerichtet, eingeleuchtet und verkabelt ist, kommt man zum spielen. Und da die meisten Szenen im deutschen Fernsehen eine Länge von maximal 2min haben, ist nach besagten zwei Minuten auch alles schon wieder vorbei. Dann heißt es erneut warten.

Somit habe ich mich recht früh daran gewöhnt, lange Zeit ,nichts‘ zu tun.
Und das ist enorm wichtig. Denn wenn man am Set nicht lernt abzuschalten, nervt man nicht nur die Teamkollegen, sondern verschwendet auch einen Haufen Energie, den man in späteren Szenen brauchen wird.

So schön ,Just Do It‘ also klingt, als Schauspieler tut man die meiste Zeit eigentlich gar nichts.

ÜBERWINDUNG

Natürlich ist mir bewusst, dass das Motto des „einfach-tuns“ einen dazu bringen soll, über den eigenen Schatten zu springen. Seine Grenzen zu erforschen und die Dinge nicht immer auf morgen zu verschieben. Und da bin ich auch voll im Einklang.
Als Kreativschaffender übt die ,Just Do It‘-Haltung allerdings auch einen Druck aus. Denn während ich sowieso die Tendenz habe, mir meine Pausen mit eigenen Projekten zu füllen, hämmert mir ,Just Do It‘ in jeder freien Sekunde ein schlechtes Gewissen ein. >>Einfach im Cafe sitzen und Menschen beobachten ist nicht. Du musst was tun, Lenny. Du musst jetzt anfangen.<<
Überhäuft von unendlich vielen Möglichkeiten. Egal was – Hauptsache was tun.

Dabei ist im Cafe sitzen meistens viel hilfreicher als alles andere.

LOSLASSEN

Im Grunde geht es darum, loszulassen. Sich nicht in den Strudel der Geschäftigkeit zu werfen. Auf die Frage ,Was machst du Samstag?‘ ganz entspannt ,Nichts!‘ antworten zu können und dabei nicht zu denken ,Fuck… ich hab kein Leben‘, sondern ,Fuck… hab ich ein Leben!‘

Also sage ich mir immer wieder – just don’t do it. Das wird sich sowieso von alleine lösen. Das wird schon gut gehen. Du hast keinen Bock darauf? Dann lass es. Mach etwas, das dich glücklich macht. Mach andere Menschen glücklich. Aber dreimal im Kreis rennen, nur um am Ende zu sagen, dass du was getan hast, ist Schwachsinn. Energieverschwendung. Und es verschleiert den Blick auf das Leben. Auf die Momente auf die es ankommt. Klar können wir diese Momente mittlerweile mit der Kamera in unserer Hosentasche festhalten. Aber ist das das Gleiche wie wirklich da zu sein?

Einfach nichts tun, Freiraum schaffen und beobachten, hat mich schon durch einige brenzlige Situationen gebracht. Denn wenn ich ehrlich bin, bin ich am besten wenn ich gar nichts tue.

JUST DON’T DO IT

Zeit also für ein neues Motto. Während es für Spielberg und co. noch eine große Herausforderung war, einen Film ,einfach‘ zu drehen, haben wir mittlerweile alles was wir brauchen. Wir müssen nicht das letzte Taschengeld für einen neuen Super8 Film zusammenkratzen. Wir haben Handy, Computer und vor allem das Internet! Für uns besteht die Herausforderung darin, manche Filme einfach nicht zu drehen. Manche Dinge einfach nicht zu tun. Zu warten, zu beobachten. Effizient mit den Mitteln umzugehen, die uns die ,Just-Do-It‘-Generation gegeben hat. Um dann, wenn der Moment kommt, loszulegen.

Denn wenn man zu viel zu tut hat, verpasst man den Moment der das Leben für immer ändern wird…

 

 

Roots

Jericho

In aller Welt

Als Schauspieler bin ich durch meine Arbeit schon viel durch die Gegend gereist. Für kürzere oder längere Zeit habe ich schon in einigen deutschen Städten gewohnt und einige Male im Ausland gedreht.
Letztens hatte ich dann tatsächlich das Glück, eine Woche in Palästina drehen zu dürfen.
Genauer gesagt in Jericho.
Man sagt, dass Jericho die älteste Stadt der Welt ist. Und auch wenn das wissenschaftlich noch umstritten ist, konnte ich mir Mauern anschauen, die vor über 10 Tausend Jahren gebaut wurden.

IMG_4451 IMG_4449

Warm

Mit 250 m unterm Meeresspiegel ist Jericho noch dazu die tiefstgelegenste Stadt der Welt und dementsprechend warm. Durchschnittliche 37°C bei wolkenlosem Himmel sind natürlich nichts im Vergleich zu den 45°C-50°C die es dort im Juli oder August hat, für uns allerdings trotzdem eine deutliche Umstellung. Grundlegender Zustand: Mir ist warm. Da Jericho nicht weit vom tatsächlich tiefsten Punkt der Erde entfernt ist, und zwar dem Toten Meer, habe ich mit einem Kollegen natürlich sofort einen Abstecher dahin gemacht. Und ja, man kann einfach auf dem Wasser schweben. Nächste Stufe: übers Wasser laufen.

IMG_4282 IMG_4694

Long time ago in…

Und tatsächlich ist das nicht so weit hergeholt. Die gesamte Umgebung um Jericho ist im Grunde die Geburtsstädte des Christentums. Mit Bethlehem, Nazareth und Jerusalem gleich um die Ecke, stolpert man von einem Wegmarker Jesus‘ zum nächsten. So war ich unter anderem auf dem Mount of Temptation auf dem Jesus angeblich 40 Tage lang den Versuchungen des Teufels widerstanden hat. Darauf hin wurde in den Berg ein Kloster gehauen. Sehr beeindruckend.
Auch war ich in der Monastery of Saint Mark in Jerusalem unter der scheinbar das Last Supper stattgefunden haben soll, am Geburtsort von Virgin Mary und auf der Via Dolorosa auf der Jesus seinen Kreuzweg gegangen ist. Alles Orte, auf die ich mehr oder weniger zufällig gestoßen bin.
Doch nicht nur das Christentum hat hier sein Lager aufgeschlagen. Die Klagemauer ist nicht weit entfernt von der al-Aqsa-Mosche und so tummeln sich orthodoxe Juden und Muslime in den kleinen Straßen Jerusalems. Ein überwältigender Anblick, besonders, da ich am ersten Freitag des Ramadans in Jerusalem war und 250 Tausend Musilme zum Beten in die Stadt geströmt sind.

IMG_4558 IMG_4546

People

Doch was ich am meisten daran liebe, an neuen Orten zu drehen, ist, dass ich die Städte und Länder auf ganz spezielle Weise kennenlernen kann. Ich muss nicht als Tourist durch die Straßen wandern, da ich zum arbeiten da bin. Meistens steige ich aus dem Zug, Flugzeug oder Auto und mache mir sofort Gedanken, wie ich hier am besten Leben kann. Das heißt dann im Grunde Augen aufhalten nach Supermarkt, Café, Restaurant. Sofort in den Alltag der Menschen hineingeworfen zu werden, gibt einem ein vollkommen neues Verständnis für die jeweilige Mentalität.
Wenn man dann noch die Möglichkeit bekommt, mit einem Team vor Ort zu arbeiten, ist es eigentlich immer eine wunderbare Erfahrung. Das Team aus Palästina, das uns geholfen hat unseren Film zu drehen, war da absolut zuvorkommend.

IMG_4598 IMG_4371

Freiheit

Ich bin auf jeden Fall unheimlich dankbar über diese enorme Freiheit, die mein Beruf mir gibt.
Physische Beweglichkeit bringt meistens auch eine mentale Beweglichkeit mit sich. So kann ich mir Gedanken um Filme, Musik und Kunst machen. Zu sehen, dass sich aus politischen Gründen einzelne Gesellschaftsgruppen nicht frei bewegen können, war für mich sehr unangenehm. Dass unser Team dennoch eine enorme positive Energie hatte und diese dafür verwendet, Filme zu drehen, war für mich außerordentlich beeindruckend und schön!

Radio

The Dark Knight Rises – Life In The Public Eye

YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDERMAN

I recently saw a great review of Sam Raimis Spiderman & Spiderman II. In it there was an interesting part about the people of New York City and how they help Spiderman to defeat the bad guy.

The first movie has a great scene in which some New Yorkers throw stuff at the Green Goblin, while he is trying to make Spidey decide between a group of children and Mary Jane. In the second one, the passengers on the subway are helping Peter after his fight with Doc Ock. These are crucial scenes. Peter Parker faces the decision of protecting his own life or fulfilling his duty as a super hero. It highlights, that Spiderman might have superpowers, but that he is still just a regular person from New York. He is the one in the suit, but when there’s trouble in the city, everybody helps out as good as they can. Sam Raimi even highlights that focus to the citizens when he cuts in snippets of civilians talking about the Spiderman. The city, the citizens and the superhero are one.

THE HEROES GOTHAM DESERVES

Now The Dark Knight Rises has a different approach. In Christopher Nolans Batman franchise Gotham has become a metaphor for New York City. It looks almost the same. From the structure of the buildings to the uniforms of the police. So it could very well be set in New York, New York with all its sights and people. But instead of exploring the citizens of the city, The Dark Knight Rises takes a closer look at the public figures. Almost every mayor character in the story is exposed to the public eye. The movie even starts with a podium scene and its not the last time a character talks to a group of people. We have a clear separation between the citizens and the heroes. Sure there are criminals and cops and bankers and party guests, but they are all treated as social groups rather then individuals. The only characters having a clear voice, are the ones you would consider as persons of the public. And how they deal with that is shown throughout the movie.

HIDING IN CLEAR SIGHT

When I first saw The Dark Knight Rises it took me a while to figure out that Bane was actually played by Tom Hardy. The physical transformation he went through and his brilliant acting completely overshadowed his own personality. He became something else. Something unrecognizable. Tom Hardy is not only known for his many roles where he is forced to wear a mask, but also for his transforming acting style. Now the same goes for Gary Oldman. Considering his role as Sirius in the Harry Potter movies you wouldn’t connect that performance to the guy playing Commissioner Gordon. And when you realize that its the same guy, you are simultaneous impressed and scared. Both actors completely loose themselves in their characters, so that they become one with them.
Interestingly thats exactly what their characters do in the movie as well. Bane is a gentle guy, forced to wear a mask. Misjudged by his physic he completely immerses himself into the role of the brute. It takes the movie quite some time to unravel the soft mystery behind the man with the mask. Similar to Commissioner Gordon, who on the first look seems like an everyday family-guy. Its only when we take a closer look, that we realize, that he his one of Batman’s closest allies and the only reason, that Gotham is safe. The private life gets completely repressed by the public appearance.

OPENING UP

Of course that isn’t the only way of dealing with a public life. Hiding your true personality behind a multi-layered character can be very difficult and even might be considered dangerous. You can lose yourself in the many lives you don’t really live.
The opposite approach can be seen in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitts character in the movie. A gentle and kind young man, who started as an orphan, became a police officer and then got promoted to detective by Commissioner Gordon. But no matter what uniform you put him in, he always stays the same man. His private personality is always up front. The same could go for Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself. Despite being a very talented and versatile actor, you are always able to see Joseph Gordon Levitt behind the costumes and masks. You can admire his passion and craft, but you nearly never mistake him for someone else. No matter if he portraits a french high-wire artist, a bold cancer patient or if he is hosting his own show hit-record you always get his own personal take on the matter. Joseph is always present in the moment and that makes his work so relatable and intriguing.

ALTER EGO

Obviously the alter-ego as portrait by Christian Bales Batman, Anne Hathaways Catwoman or Marion Cotillards Miranda is also a common technique of dealing with the separation of the private and the public life. To create an alternative persona that can act on its own might come in handy when having a lot of public appearances. Funnily enough that approach can be seen on Christian Bale himself, as he is often completely transforming himself in order to play different characters, but is still always notable in the shot. Its like Batman and Bruce Wayne. Nobody knows that they are the same person, but if you count to ten you might be able to figure it out. Its difficult to switch between these two personality types because they easily can get mixed up. The are still influencing each other. So when Bruce Wayne is frustrated, Batman is weak. No matter how hard you try to divide them, they are always together. But an alter ego is also a shield. Catwoman is the only thing that can keep Selina save. And Miranda couldn’t achieve her goals if she didn’t pretend to be someone else.

TWO-FACED

And although he is rarely in this movie, I have to talk about Harvey Dent aka Two Face aka Aaron Eckhart. The split personality. To switch between a public and private persona in a matter of seconds is more then difficult. And to show the two sides as one without neglecting either one of them requires a lot of strength and a lot of training. You openly accept, that you are living two lives. And you don’t hide either one of them. If the situation requires a public opinion, you share it, without holding back your private point of view. And if you are in private, your public version never really leaves you. No shield, no hiding. Everything is exposed. It’s honest and kind of dangerous.

LIFE IN THE PUBLIC EYE

Now, as an actor I am confronted with the decision of how to deal with public events. Heck, we all are. Whether it is going to the supermarket or walking the red carpet. You can hide, you can protect, you can open up. And if you don’t know which way you want to deal with that, take a closer look at The Dark Knight Rises. It offers a variety of options to choose from.

…Unless you can be Morgan Freeman. Then be Morgan Freeman.

Rausch

BABYMETAL – Frechheit & Kunst

Ich habe einen sehr durchmischten Musikgeschmack. Von Neil Young bis Griz ist dort ziemlich viel untergebracht. Ich liebe Funk, Electro, Electrofunk, Glitchfunk, Glitch, Pop, Pop-Rock, Rock, Rock’n’Roll, Reggae, Rave, Rap, Indie, Folk, Filmmusik, … ihr bekommt einen Eindruck. Und obwohl ich ein sehr offenes Ohr hab, was Musik angeht, gibt es ja selbstverständlich Songs, die mir gefallen, und andere, die mir nicht gefallen. Manchmal sogar vom selben Künstler. Also was unterscheidet einen guten Song von einem schlechten Song? Denn wenn es nicht am Genre liegt, muss es doch etwas anderes geben, dass meine Lieblingssongs verbindet.

So viel Kunst

Neulich war ich auf einem Bandcontest. Jede Band 30min. Wenn es einem gefällt, kann man 30min lang feiern. Wenn nicht, ist es nach 30min ja auch schon wieder vorbei. Die Auftritte waren ziemlich bunt gemischt. Von Schülerbands bis zur Rentnergruppe schien alles vertreten zu sein. Als ich mich dann dabei ertappte, bei einer funkingen Ska-Gruppe still zu stehen und bei einer alten Hardrock-Band abzugehen, fragte ich mich erneut, was einen guten Auftritt ausmacht. Für mich war das die ultimative Chance herauszufinden, was mein Hauptmerkmal für gute Musik ist. Und tatsächlich hatte ich eine Eingebung.

Ein paar Tage später war ich dann mit einem Freund in Kong: Skull Island. Ja, den konnten wir uns einfach nicht entgehen lassen. Wir haben uns ausnahmslos, maßlos amüsiert. Von der ersten Blende bis zum letzten Namen im Abspann saßen wir wie festgenagelt auf unseren Plätzen. Abgesehen von Tom Hiddlestons Gasmasken-Szene. Da wären wir am liebsten jubelnd aufgesprungen. Und ich habe festgestellt, dass mein neues Qualitätsmerkmal scheinbar auch auf Filme zutrifft.

Wenig später: Kunsthalle Hamburg. Die Poesie der Venezianischen Malerei. Wunderbare Gemälde von Paris Bordone, Palma il Vecchio, Lorenzo Lotto und Tizian. Alles handwerkliche Meisterwerke, keine Frage. Aber wann bleibe ich vor einem Gemälde stehen, und wann gehe ich einfach daran vorbei?
Richtig, aus demselben Grund, aus dem ich unberührt einer Ska-Gruppe lausche und mich bei Kong nicht mehr einkriegen kann.

BABYMETAL

Ein gutes Beispiel für meine neue These ist Babymetal. Meine größte musikalische Faszination.
Für alle, die noch nicht vom Internet ernährt werden, hier die Facts: Babymetal  ist eine japanische Idol-Metal Gruppe. Also eine Mischung aus überdrehtem Japan-Pop und düsterem Metal. Frontsängerinnen sind drei Schulmädchen um die 15, die singen und tanzen, im Hintergrund headbangen die Musiker.
Und let me tell you: Es ist genial!
Trotz meiner ausschweifenden Musik Erfahrung, muss ich gestehen, dass J-Pop und Metal die beiden Musikrichtungen waren, um die ich unbewusst einen großen Bogen gemacht habe. Ich hatte keinen Zugang.
Doch in der Kombination ist auf einmal etwas entstanden, das mich interessiert hat. Etwas das so unfassbar frech ist. Nicht nur, weil es zwei absolute Gegensätze in Verbindung bringt, sondern weil das auch noch extrem gut gemacht ist. Es wirkt fast wie selbstverständlich. Als wäre es das Natürlichste auf der Welt, dass diese beiden Dinge zusammengehören. Und seit Babymetal tun sie das.

Was für eine Frechheit

Die Antwort auf die Frage lautet also: Frechheit.
Das Element, das meine Faszination verbindet. Die Frage, die stetig eine Antwort sucht: Ist es frech?
Dinge zu kombinieren, die eigentlich nicht zusammengehören, ist eine Art von Frechheit. In fact, der meiste Fortschritt entsteht dadurch, dass Dinge verbunden werden. Jede neue Idee ergibt sich aus alten Gedanken. Sei es die Kombination eines Stocks und eines Steins, um einen Hammer zu erschaffen oder die Verbindung einer Kloschüssel mit einer Galerie, um ein Kunstwerk entstehen zu lassen. Einfach frech.
Was für einen erstaunlichen Fortschritt wir erlangen würden, wenn man mal so frech wäre, die körperliche und die geistige Medizin zu verbinden.
Ist es frech, hat es unsere Aufmerksamkeit verdient.

Selbstverständlich frech

Doch man darf sich nicht täuschen lassen. Nicht alles was frech scheint, ist wirklich frech. Dinge die offensichtlich frech sind, sind meist nur nachgeplappert. Im Grunde vollkommen der Norm angepasst. Deswegen ist es manchmal schwer, wirkliche Frechheit zu entdecken. Denn wie bereits bei Babymetal, kann es schnell passieren, dass es ganz normal wirkt, als gehörte diese Frechheit schon immer zu unserem Repertoire. Auf den ersten Blick wirkt Paris Bordones Verkündigung absolut selbstverständlich. Wenn man sich dann aber die Perspektive anschaut, die von einer frontalen, bühnengleichen Draufsicht zu einer rechtszentrierten Flucht morphed, dann ist das ganz schön frech. Und wenn Jordan Vogt-Roberts, der zuvor quasi nur den Independent Film Kings Of Summer gemacht hat, auf einmal den besten Kong-Film aller Zeiten aus dem Ärmel schüttelt, dann ist das frech.

So …

Haltet also die Ohren steif. Vielleicht habt ihr ja auch eine Kategorie nach der ihr unterbewusst entscheidet, ob euch etwas gefällt. Mir hat es auf jeden Fall geholfen, einen Grund für meine Babymetal-Obsession nennen zu können. Und wer weiß, vielleicht bin ich mit diesem Beitrag meinem Traum vom Babymetal-Musikvideo-Dreh auch einen Schritt näher gekommen. Denn das wäre wirklich eine freche Kombination.

Royal

#OscarsSoMoonlit

Same procedure as every year

Of course we set down as a family and watched the Oscars last week. Like we do every year. Its a long night since it starts at around 2am here in Germany, but it’s full of glitter, glamor, movie politics and art.
Although nothing really unexpected happened, it was a great evening. Damien Chazelle won the best director Oscar and became the youngest person ever to receive this honor. Considering his great work for last years Whiplash, that was a very reasonable decision.  Jungle Book was awarded with the award for best special effect and Moonlight was crowned the best movie of the year. Everything the way it should be.

Ah, and then there was the #envelope. A little mix up, that wasn’t of any importance really. Or so I thought. While it happened, I was completely satisfied with the whole commotion. I mean it all worked out perfectly in the end. The next morning I was still completely fine with the events of the last night. But then I read the news. And suddenly it seemed to have become this big thing.
The Oscar Mistake. How the Oscars went wrong etc.

Sure, there was a mix up. Something that wasn’t supposed to happen. You can complain about it, but you can also just leave it. You don’t get upset when a kid forgets its lines at the school play, and although the Oscars are kind of a bigger events, its still the same principle. These things happen. Human errors. No big deal.

With great power comes great responsibilities

But that shouldn’t make us forget about the huge calmness and humanity with wich everyone involved handled the situation. It was a huge opportunity for greatness, and everyone lived up to that. The most impressing performance probably was by LaLaLand Producer Jordan Horowitz who not only was very kind in handing over the award, but also quick and clear enough to solve the whole commotion on stage. Without him it could have turned out pretty differently.

But also Barry Jenkins handled the situation very well. It was a good thing, that he was on stage beforehand, receiving his award for best adapted screenplay. It really seemed like he wanted to get everything of his chest in case he might not be on stage again. And it was a good thing he did, because in all the chaos, there wasn’t much room for long speeches. And they weren’t really necessary either.

In the backstage interviews, the Moonlight Producers were ask if they had prepared anything to say. Of corse they did. But rightfully they decided to go with the flow on this one. Embrace the situation. And it made the whole thing so much better.

Emma Stone said afterwards, that it might have been the craziest moment in Oscar History. But in my opinion it was also the greatest. Every Oscar speech is about humanity, being kind and thanking your closest friends and relatives. And although that is a great thing, in 2017 we got to see all that in action. It was one of the kindest and human situation I’ve ever seen on the Oscars.

#OscarsSoMoonlit

Last years Oscars were a very controversy event. #OscarsSoWhite was the trending Hashtag on Twitter due to the overload on white nominees. But Hollywood listened and Hollywood learned. Say what you want, but this year really was a turn around in that department. There were a record breaking six nominees for black actors and actresses.
Having that in mind it would have been so wrong if LaLaLand would have won best picture. Not because its a ,white movie‘ going against a ,black movie‘ but because its a movie about Hollywood itself vs. a movie about an underestimated minority. Giving the award to LaLaLand would have been a very selfish thing to do for a very stained entertainment business. Giving it to Moonlight on the other hand is a huge sign for change and opportunity. (Ignoring of course, that Moonlight simply might be the better movie.)

I think we all want more diversity in our culture and art. It enhances and enlightens every part of live and therefore we should try our best at creating equal opportunities for everybody.
It might not alway work as smoothly as it should be, but I’m more then certain, that we will get there.

And if LaLaLand handing over the Oscar to Moonlight isn’t a symbol for including black filmmakers in Hollywood, I don’t know what is.

Radio

Nudity in Film – Die Kunst einer Nacktszene

Nacktszenen sind so alt wie Film selber. Und mit Privatsendern wie HBO oder Starz haben sie einen festen Sitz in der modernen Unterhaltung bekommen. Zu Recht. Denn in einer guten Nacktszene kann ein Charakter Schwäche zeigen, Stärke beweisen, sein purstes Äußeres und sein tiefstes Inneres offenbaren. Doch genauso kann eine Nacktszene auch platt und inhaltslos sein und einen ganzen Film kaputt machen.

Nackte Schauspieler

Über Jahre haben wir gelernt, uns in Charaktere hineinzuversetzen. Und damit meine ich nicht nur die Schauspieler, sondern auch die Zuschauer. Wir wissen alle, dass Leonardo DiCaprio ein erfolgreicher Schauspieler ist. Wenn er aber einen armen Schlucker spielt, blenden wir diese Information aus. Jede Geste wird nun als Geste des Charakters abgebucht. Und im besten Fall vergessen wir den Schauspieler hinter der Performance.
Doch es gibt auch immer wieder Momente, in denen man aus der Kinoerfahrung in die echte Welt geschmissen wird. Im schauspielerischen Bereich liegt das meistens daran, dass ein Darsteller ängstlich oder egoistisch spielt. Fast sofort wird die Verbindung zum Charakter gebrochen, denn alles auf der Leinwand wird nun von den echten Emotionen des Schauspielers diktiert.
Besonders häufig kommt das natürlich in Nacktszenen vor. Denn während man als Schauspieler gelernt hat, sein tiefstes Innere vor einem fast fremden Publikum preiszugeben, ist eine Nacktszene immer noch das Verletzlichste, was man tun kann. Kein Wunder also, dass hier Angst und Egoismus eine große Rolle spielen.

Übrigens gilt das für Nicht-Nacktszenen genauso. Denn während Emilia Clarke nach ihrer vorherigen Weigerung weitere Nacktszenen zu spielen, doch erneut voll frontal zu sehen ist, hat sich Kit Harrington, der sich für mehr männliche Nacktheit ausgesprochen hat, trotzdem mit einem kleinen Tuch bedecken lassen.

Eine Entscheidung, die der Charakter so nicht getroffen hätte.

Eine Nacktszene schreiben

Es gilt also … wenn eine Nacktszene nicht aus der Handlung oder dem Charakter entspringt, wirkt sie im besten Fall fehlplatziert. Oft sind natürlich die Zuschauerzahlen ein ausschlaggebender Faktor dafür, dass sich Thor das T-Shirt auszieht. Doch wenn man Nacktheit nutzt, um die Spannung zu halten oder zu schocken, dann ist das schlichtweg lazy screenwriting und damit sollte man sich als Zuschauer nicht zufriedengeben.

Bei einer Nacktszene gelten dieselben Regeln wie bei Action & Comedy auch. Wenn sie nicht charaktermotiviert sind, haben sie in einem Film nichts zu suchen. Nichts ist nerviger, als ein Charakter der unerklärt auf einmal kämpfen kann. Und wenn ein Charakter einen Witz macht, der nicht zu seinem Repertoire gehört, kann man nur halb so doll darüber lachen.

Richtig eingesetzt hat man während einer Nacktszene aber die Möglichkeit, seine Charaktere in eine Situation zu führen, die ein ganz neues Potenzial entfaltet. Denn egal wie offen man ist, Nacktsein ist verletzlich. Wenn Beowulf also nackt gegen Grendel kämpft, beweist er damit eine enorme Stärke. Und wenn sich Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin auszieht, dann zeigt das die Neugier und das Vertrauen, das ihr Charakter entwickelt hat. Und auf einmal wird die Nacktheit zur Nebensache.

Ein Körper ist ein Körper

Wenn man erst einmal jeglichen Egoismus und jegliche Angst aus einer Nacktszene nimmt, jede Studioentscheidung fallenlässt, und darauf hört, ob die Charaktere in der Situation nackt sein wollen oder nicht, verliert das Ganze an Bedeutung. Ein Körper ist ein Körper. So schön und natürlich wie er eben ist. Man kann mit ihm genauso viel ausdrücken wie mit einem Lächeln, einer Kamerafahrt oder einer Pause. Denn im Vordergrund steht jetzt die Emotion. So wie es in jeder guten Szene sein sollte.

 

Rausch

Dr. Strange – Lost in the multiverse

Watching Dr. Strange is a RedBugHomie family-event we just couldn’t miss. So on Monday we got together to witness Benedict Cumberbatch’s first steps into the Marvel Universe.

The fascinating concept of altering time and matter, to visit parallel dimensions and to jump from one universes to another has left us intrigued. To really go beyond the physical challenges of the everyday superhero Dr. Strange seems to have the ultimate power. But that also has it’s downsides. Manly story-wise. Everything is shifted into perspective. And if you have a superhero that can alter the reality at will, everyday struggles get pretty insignificant. Some of us really got a kick out of that, since you could completely focus on the action, for others the story fell kind of flat because of it.

But despite our different opinions the movie left me thinking.

Due to my job as an actor and creative creator my whole life is so flexible and free that I have a lot of control over what to do next. Every morning I get out of bed and see myself confronted with thousands of possibilities. Of course it doesn’t stop at my daily routine. My whole life is as adaptable as the new MacBook Pro… The only one deciding is me. And that is something I am extremely grateful for.

And yes, in a world where most things are pretty much fixed, that actually feels like a superpower.

Although like every good superpower there is also a catch. Because as long as I don’t decide what to do, every possibility is just hypothetical. I get overloaded with options and get paralyzed. I feel like I can do everything, yet I do nothing. It’s easy to get lost in the multiverse, because that hypothetical space is extremely comfortable.

It’s nice to daydream about all the millions of options. To stay with one of them for a few minutes only to cast it aside and go to the next. So I’m floating around in the multiverse of endless possibilities, not partaking in reality.

And if I have to make a decision, I suddenly get scared. Because I don’t only see the option I choose, I also see the thousands of options that get canceled. And that is fucking scary.

I think everybody knows that feeling, because everybody had to make a major decision at some point in their life. Deal or no deal. Something that changes the life forever.
So in a way we are all like Dr. Strange. Having access to millions of altering universes. All we have to do is to choose the one we want to live in.

Because in the end, one actual reality is worth more than a thousand hypothetical ones.

So Dr. Strange might come across as the weirdest, most extreme superhero of them all. But in fact his superpowers might be closer to our everyday life then anything else.