Wednesday, August 13, 2014
By Tom Inglesby
When a legend dies, people dig into their memory vaults to find something to say, something to recall that might be comforting to others, something that puts them into the picture with the legend. Robin Williams, a true legend in many media, died on Aug. 11, 2014 at the age of 63.
I wish I could say I knew him; I didn’t. I saw him in a live performance once, in the 1980s. I saw his work in several films, some more memorable than others, at least to me. In reading the reviews and comments online, his best films were apparently those I never saw: Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society.
What I remember Williams for was some of the work that is easily overlooked by the professional critics and commentators doing their best to eulogize him. Remember him in Popeye? How about Awakenings? The former showed his talent for facial comedy, the rubber face approach; the latter gave him the chance to be both calm and excited, a range that he pulled off admirably. Not great work but memorable.
His signature shout-out of “Good Morning, Vietnam!” will stick with you forever if you ever served in that country. I was there months before Adrian Cronauer, who Williams played—somewhat loosely I understand—started on "Dawn Busters" on Armed Forces Radio, but the film was a strong reminder of those days.
Williams hit another peak, in my mind, when he transitioned to killer in Insomnia. Here he played so far against type that no one gave him a thought as the villain; we expected him to end up another victim. Come on, this was Robin Williams, not Jack Nicholson in The Shining. How can Peter Pan be a villain?
His acting, however, was only part of the man’s legacy. He won Grammy Awards five times for Best Comedy, Best Children’s, and Best Spoken Comedy recordings. I envied him since those were the categories where I had nominations—without a win—in earlier times. But he deserved the awards, just as he deserves the accolades being heaped on him after his death.
What Robin Williams didn’t deserve is to get so depressed that he considered suicide. He has four films in post and just finished a TV series, The Crazy Ones. Why would such a respected and successful man be depressed? And why didn’t he listen to his own words: in World's Greatest Dad, Williams’ character, Lance Clayton, said, "If you're that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember: Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems."
Did he reach out and find no one there? Will we ever know?
Robin Williams reportedly once said that if he finds himself in Heaven one day, he hopes there will be laughter. If not, he’ll be providing it now.
Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, those who have worked with him in the industry and his fans around the world who will continue to honor his memory—through laughter on Earth.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
This past June, the city of Provincetown, Mass., held its 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival (PFF), which is dedicated to showcasing new achievements in film and honoring the work of acclaimed and emerging directors, producers and actors. This year’s theme: Film Noir.
Gasket Studios, a Minneapolis-based design, animation and VFX company, was tasked with producing a stylized 3D-animated sponsor reel for the festival, which they pulled off in spades. Written and directed by Alex Boatman, The Oystercatcher Catcher, was inspired by the film noir theme as well as Pecker, the official PFF mascot. The delightful animated story reveals that Pecker is no ordinary fedora-wearing private-eye. He is actually a thief.
“Gasket took this year’s sponsor reel to imaginative new heights,” says Andrew Peterson, PFF director of production. “Not only does it embody the caliber of creativity and storytelling our festival celebrates, but also it’s a cleverly fun ode to this year’s film noir theme, which we chose to honor the late Evan Lawson, former president of the Provincetown Film Society Board of Directors, who was a huge fan of the genre.”
“The client directive was specific about staying true to the original Pecker illustration in the festival promotions, as well as portraying his irreverent personality,” remarks Boatman. “Otherwise, they were very open to our ideas and encouraging with their feedback, which allowed us to focus our time on refining the artistic whole of the film.”
Boatman first researched the tradition of film noir – vintage and modern – to create a reference library of images and videos for inspiration. After exploring common themes like jealousy, adultery and betrayal, she settled on the genre’s most iconic and powerful storytelling device: the detective.
Aspiring to translate the instantly recognizable aesthetics of film noir though animation, she imagined a painterly 3D world. A restrained color palette, which was desaturated to virtually black and white, maintains the film’s vintage look. Heightening the mystery and atmosphere, Gasket employed digital lighting and shadows to create fog, mist, street and sign lighting. Feather-textured vignettes enhance the dark, grungy mood of the story’s bird-infested world.
Sit back. Relax. And enjoy.
The Oystercatcher Catcher, Provincetown Film Festival 2014 sponsor reel from Gasket Studios on Vimeo.
The Oystercatcher Catcher created by Gasket Studios
Director: Alex Boatman
Creative Director: Greg Shultz
Producer: Eric Mueller
Technical Director: Justin Greiner
Look Artist: Tiffany Borchardt
Animation: Brad Jacobson
Modeling: Brad Jacobson, John Zilka
Rigging: Alex Boatman, Justin Greiner
Simulation: John Zilka
Additional Backgrounds: Jenna Workman
Music by Ken Brahmstedt
Sound Design and Mix by Dan Kramer
Mixed at BWN Music