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Filmmaking tips from J.J. Abrams - plus is he actually any good?

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bN-On2CusDM[/youtube]

With the rise of J.J. Abrams, TV's aristocracy has morphed into cinema's with JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars Episode VII in the UK next year.

J.J. Abrams comes from a family of TV industry figures, his father a TV producer and his mother an executive producer. His sister is a screenwriter. Now with a string of successful TV shows behind him, he's had a string of hits at the box office too.

[url=http://www.eoshd.com/content/10318/filmmaking-tips-from-j-j-abrams-plus-is-he-actually-any-good]Read the full article here[/url]

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Apart from his contribution to the M:I franchise (which I place somewhere between Woo's and Bird's) and Super-8, which was phenomenal, until we spend so much time looking at a non-sensical alien, you can keep him.

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I think it's rather hard to properly explain JJ Abram's appeal. Box-office draw non-withstanding, there is something universal, yet also unique in his work. He's a humanist who clearly cares about character yet is driven to blockbuster spectacle. He's obsessively oriented to details, but also works his plotting and pacing to great "bigger picture" effect. His movies have fantastic special effects and also fun exciting dialogue. He is a master craftsmen with the heart of an everyman.

 

In other words, JJ is Apple.

 

Let the analogy sink in. It makes a certain amount of sense. Both have their fingers on the pulse of the Zeitgeist, ready to offer what you didn't yet know you wanted. Both have become forces of nature in their respective worlds. Both create products (and I do mean products) with universal appeal but singular authorship. And they manage to do it over and over again. Iphones and Alias. Macs and Star Trek.

 

That doesn't mean the man is the second coming. His films are well-crafted for what they are, Hollywood pop-corn fare. JJ will never be threatening, never punk rock, never dangerous. He won't put you in discomfort, because the man knows what he's good at; making you leave the theatre with a smile and the feeling that it was (what is it now? 15 dollars?) well spent. I strongly doubt a JJ movie will inspire someone or touch them deeply, but that could be my cynicism. Overall, his movies are middle of the road in almost every aspect. Neither exceptional nor horrendous, and most of me wants to keep it that way.

 

A small sliver though, wants him to someday burst out of this gilded cage (or is it a fortress?) and see him make something truly provocative.   Something with that desperate, go for broke quality that the indies have perfected. Maybe it's schadenfreude, or perhaps it's a desire for subversion.

 

In the end, I root for him, like you root for your favorite game show contestant; a win is always pleasant, a loss is never fatal.  

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In other words, JJ is Apple.

 

Far-fetched, I'd say. The other day I tried to compare Black Magic with Apple, on similar thin basis: Some design aspects, the strife to always re-invent the wheel, public-relation-wise a very clever combination of understatement and almost religious ceremony.

 

A small sliver though, wants him to someday burst out of this gilded cage (or is it a fortress?) and see him make something truly provocative.   Something with that desperate, go for broke quality that the indies have perfected. Maybe it's schadenfreude, or perhaps it's a desire for subversion.

 

 

He is very intelligent and very knowledgeable. He has an exquisite taste and loves cinema. His background provides him with craft and talent from various arts within the art of filmmaking. He is witty, charming and someone you would really enjoy sitting next to on a long distance flight. He states, that he finds TV shows often 'more daring' than Hollywood movies. But what does he mean? 

 

Surely he is no enfant terrible. I can imagine him producing a TV series with a controversial subject. I guess he would hide the hot topic in some kind of troian horse. He can't be offensive, he can't be primitive. He is too smart by nature.  

 

Andrew wrote:

For me J.J. Abrams skill is in producing popular escapism, which is exactly what Star Wars is.

 

 

Escapism, yes. 

 

There are one million important things that need to be changed. Urgently. 

 

Isn't that the job of 'investigative journalism'? 

 

Cinema should indeed be 'more daring'. But essentially it's a Utopia. 

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Not incredibly familiar with his other work but I absolutely loved Fringe

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quote

A small sliver though, wants him to someday burst out of this gilded cage (or is it a fortress?)

 

 

 

 

can one seek out a life find a soul in a can of pepsi?

fact pepsi contains precursor flavours taken from aborted babies.

yes folks we have arrived at the corporate position title.

soylent green is people.

 

seems like a nice guy perfect front man for the

hollywood military idustrial complex  slaughter house

he is the new ron howard

a  cola lite version of nolan.

this so called messiah is just a big budget jobbing hack.

maybe a talent compared to michael suck satans cock bay.

 

jj perfect  for the mk ultra zombie generation.

 

a director no a marketing green screen wank job yes.

cia asset and script editor sure.

 

i would not be surprised if he was genetically sliced and modified like dolly the sheep.

friends with speeeel berg and ron how howard perfect.

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Have to disagree with the OT. Escapism is not an option if your into Star Trek and soon Star wars as what you want to escape into is redifined into something to horrible to contemplate. Escapism must come with good story and solid believable characters and in the case of fans who keep these franchises alive a little respect please and not a big grin while telling fans how much they love and admire them while destroying everything they fought over.

 

In the past the UK could lay claim to the idea we had the skills that created Star wars and Indiana Jones universe. My fear is that could now be lost. I think George osborne has already set the flaky fakery ball rolling by taking credit for Star wars landing here. Really Who cares? 

 

If it is disrespectful and purely designed to make money by delivering great trailers as a hook to a reality far far away from what we want to see and why should Star wars get a tax break? I don't mind seeing tax breaks for poor indie film makers who get no help because they need lawyers to work it all out and don't have a big enough budget for it to be meaningful anyway.

 

I wonder if some of the blockbuster films really need a director at all. Why not hire someone  really young or an 18 year old son or daughter of a top film exec who could get high and have a few vague ideas translated by the best artists. I bet you could hire a ten year old with crayons  who could come up with a reboot of starwars and have it translated by pro's into realistic eye candy. I would love to see some of these high end directors could direct a low budget inde film as an unknown.

 

If JJ is to be star wars director then make the film in America please. Maybe disneyland.

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JJ Abrams is who he is?

 

Is he a genius,   i think his bio answers that question,    he is more comparable to AB LINCOLN more so than anybody,      it was once said that Abraham Lincoln  mind was  as wide as an ocean but only deep as a puddle"

 

I think that describes Abrams.  Hollywood is all about connections and who you know, sure he has had some hit shows, but he has had his share of bombs also.    Honestly me and about 4 more people on this forum could create 3 hit shows, compared to the mess FOX puts out these days. However we did not grow up into a family of hollywood in house connections.

 

While i would not knock his hustle, i will not call him a genius either,   not just yet,  but trust he is doing good work becasue there have been far more people in show biz that have had his connections and power that produce mediocre B.S.          

 

I would love to be in JJ ABRAMS POSITION   , like my man  SKIP BAYLESS says   " He is driving the ferrari well"  a methaphor

 

JJ ABRAMS  is not HITCHCOCK, SPIKE LEE, CHRISTOPHER NOLAN,  But at the same time he for damnnnn sure aint TORI SPELLING

 

He works with what he has and does what he does,    cant be mad at a man for that

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He was my first pick when they announced Star Wars. Hopefully he'll capture some of the vibe of the original trilogy. I'm cautiously optimistic

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quote

A small sliver though, wants him to someday burst out of this gilded cage (or is it a fortress?)

 

 

 

 

can one seek out a life find a soul in a can of pepsi?

fact pepsi contains precursor flavours taken from aborted babies.

yes folks we have arrived at the corporate position title.

soylent green is people.

 

seems like a nice guy perfect front man for the

hollywood military idustrial complex  slaughter house

he is the new ron howard

a  cola lite version of nolan.

this so called messiah is just a big budget jobbing hack.

maybe a talent compared to michael suck satans cock bay.

 

jj perfect  for the mk ultra zombie generation.

 

a director no a marketing green screen wank job yes.

cia asset and script editor sure.

 

i would not be surprised if he was genetically sliced and modified like dolly the sheep.

friends with speeeel berg and ron how howard perfect.

 

 

wut?

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wut?

 

A loanword like Zeitgeist? Interesting, because there are so many equally strong words for Wut in english.

 

Tony Wilson is right. And Andrew too. This is not about escapism or, as I wrote, Utopia. It's about filling the heads with false values. Easy to decipher in Armageddon, which indeed could easily be a nazi propaganda film (well, in a way), not so easy with Star Trek, almost the greek legends and heros of my childhood.

 

And Star Wars. What's wrong with Good fighting against Evil? 

 

'What is thy name?'

'Legion. For we are many.'

(Early example of someone who suffered from multiple personality disorder after watching too many stupid movies)

StarWars.jpg

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Not quite sure how Abrams merits this amount of hostility. I think he's more talented than any of the directors they used on the 'good' Star Wars films, and if you think it's easy directing on this scale then you're out of your fucking mind. When I want popcorn, I like to see an Abrams movie. If I want 'soul' then I'll be sure to choose something else.

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Remember when movies used to be good?

 

Uc1jI.gif

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wut?


A remark most commonly used after a party has told a ridiculous/unbelievable story



so you believe jj is the new messiah?
i think he is a very naughty cia boy who has been given a bigger full size train set than the toy sets orson welles was given.

what do we get hack sack spiel burg clones.
genetic splicing of the spiel and the give me all the money luc ass.

the hollywood force is strong with this cia turd but he is just todays ben and jerrys flavour.

wut you say.

hollywood is the machine factory.
the computer inputs, stories arcs and themes are supplied by langley virginia cia.
bad guys always needed for perpetual war.
humans as tiny cogs to be crushed and vaporised nuked ground up and spat out.
surprised they did not give benedict cumberbatch an islamic beard.

wut

is it not easy for these cia guys to manipulate the numb dumb prozac generation.
just look at the audience james holmes of aurora looks like he has had a chemical lobotomy.
the movie trailer more important than the movie.
good trailers = big receipts.
new star trek
silence of the lambs in space and on earth with guns and bangs and a bit of nolan darkness.
nolan darkness is the new 3d : )

movie propaganda from guvmint psychopaths to sheeple.

 


but the fact is it is all about manipulation.

all about a hidden message and agenda.

the cia destroys countries for real.

hollywood in cgi.

 

 


long ago


the french called it
mise en scene but it boring cos dares no big nuclear bangs no spock or kirk just borin init.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIeAzrdKJno

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We'll see. IT isn't J.J. I'm worried about, honestly it is the Disney overlords. J.J. didn't do anything fabulous with Star Trek (probably what we should be looking most closely at in terms of what is in store for Star Wars), but then, the writers on his first Trek weren't exactly what I'd call Trekkies, and neither is Abrams.

 

From all accounts, he IS a longtime Star Wars fan, though . . . and arguably he has better writers than he did on the first Trek film. I think Super 8 shows that he is one of the few big directors out there that understands how those '70s scifi films work, and I hope he brings that to bear in Star Wars. 

 

His visual style is still ultimately too sleek for what I would want in a new Star Wars film (that is one thing that was wrong with I-II-III). If anything, I'd want a director with some serious visual grit . . . Guy Ritchie or Tarantino. Those two have some serious character chops. They understand how to make a character cool . . . that Han Solo mojo. That is what was missing from the Lucas prequels . . . the charisma. I hope J.J. has the presence of mind to carefully analyze what Lucas did wrong in the prequels, and to get whatever help he needs (writing or otherwise) to avoid a repeat flop. 

 

Also, as an aside . . . I wanna see Gosling and Chastain as Jedi. Just throwing that out there.

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If he starts the series off with the Ewoks and Gungians (sp?) waging a war of extinction against one another, I'm in for the series.

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I really enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek, but honestly, nothing really comes close to the experiance of something like the Mass Effect or Bioshock sci-fi worlds. (just skip the Mass Effect ending) My expectations are not very high for this new Trek or the new Star Wars.

 

I love cinema for drama and comedy. But, my sci-fi thirst is better quenched with gaming now. Never thought I would say that... but it's true these days. You just can't get into the characters enough in the two-hour timespan of movies.

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A number of things bode well for me about his appointment. He's a long-time Star Wars fan. He's shooting in the UK, where the original trilogy was made. He worships Spielberg, and he has Spielberg's producer guiding him. (She has already said that, like Mark Hamill, she wants the film to use more sets, locations and practical effects than Lucas' green-screen-heavy prequels.) He likes to shoot on film at 24 fps and is resistent to 3D. He's got strong writers working with him on this one. And Fringe is a brilliant show. So I think this will get back to what was great about the original films. Their reputation has been tainted by the bad prequels and two or three decades of braindead rip-offs, but the first trilogy is about one of life's most important subjects for cinema to explore (in my view) - wonder. It celebrates imagination, and in these bleak times, that's needed more than ever. I don't think of wonder as escapism; it's inspiration. It's then up to us what we do with it and how we apply it to our lives and art.

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Things JJ will bring to the Star Wars franchise:

 

1) crying

2) lens flares 

3) time travel

4) crying

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More things JJ will bring to the Star Wars franchise:

 

1) Teal blue and orange color schemes

 

2) Shaky-cam

 

3) Lens flares from shining flashlights into the camera lens

 

 

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The problem is everyone wants to put their mark on things. To improve on the original trilogy and to forever be credited with genius. No one wants to take the original trilogy and give you more of the same but different.

 

Abrams has put his mark on Star trek. A very big mark and will want to do so on Star wars. If the cast are also going to have a say as well then this will be even worse. All they need to do is go back to the original and remake it exactly except different. Use 35mm film and real models with painted backdrops and then use computer generated effects when it really matters and sparingly. Keep the muppets out make the story king. Build a full size millenium falcon X wings and real storm troopers (There are plenty of fans who love to dress up) Not some weta generated long overhead shot of plastic men fighting robots but REAL stuff and sets with SFX and artist painting backdrops.

 

Just please you will have to tone Abrams right out of the frame or genuinley convince him of the value of recreating the success of the first two films.

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On the apology of the blockbuster look:

The old SW didn't have it, 2001 didn't have it, Blade Runner didn't have it, the Alien films didn't have it, The Silence Of The Lambs didn't. Had any of those film difficulties in directing the audience's attention to their actors?

We've seen examples of how a banal scene in a banal shopping mall can be turned into something looking like from a summer blockbuster by simply applying some MBL. I suspect more than one blockbuster would indeed look depressingly uninteresting without that one-fits-all two-tone grading.

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There were far fewer means to alter a film's look, photochemically, in any surgical way in those examples.  Though, actually, you can see it in many of those earlier films at certain points.  What this look does is extend the sunset palette to any portion you wish.  The look is blamed on DI but it's been employed in photography and standard photochemical processing going back to at least the late 1970s or early 1980s in commercial cinematography.  The catch is, you couldn't achieve it in post production you had to do it in camera with your lighting and filtration.

 

Even with the DI process, Michael Bay (I know, I know) was still carrying the traditional lighting technique forward so that it was mostly baked into the neg, at least moving forward into the early '00 when DI was already becoming standard.  Witness the best, most attractive, most radiant version of Scarlett Johanson to ever grace the screen in The Island.  Nice as Transformers 2 looked you could tell by this point it was a more synthetic approach to achieving the flesh tones on Megan's rear and sun-kissed cheeks.

 

The color science is sound.  It's pleasing yet ubiquitous now.  It's not the only pleasing look though.

 

 

PS> the old Star Wars didn't even have "a look" apart from the desert scenes shot with a panty over the lens.

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is he actually any good?  is that really the headline you just used in reference to JJ Abrams? You may have a following on your blog- but don't let that go to your head!  His quality of storytelling is a dying breed... go see the new star trek and then see if your headline holds up. 

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