Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Book Reveals How Comic-Con Destroyed One Man's Life

By Annalee Newitz

The gigantic, annual pop culture convention Comic-Con can be many things: amazing, exciting, insane, overhyped, controversial . . . and heartbreaking. As Clive Young's terrific new book Homemade Hollywood reveals, a controversy over fan films at the Con almost destroyed aspiring filmmaker Sandy Collora's career. Collora wowed the 2003 Con with his $30,000, ultra-dark Batman reboot called Batman: Dead End — a year before Warner Bros. made the franchise officially darker with Batman Begins. He was on the brink of stardom, had a possible production deal with Guillermo "Hellboy" del Toro, and then he lost everything at Comic-Con 2004.

Young, whose book chronicles the history of fan films from the early twentieth century through the present, recounts Collora's story as a pivotal moment in fan filmmaking. Collora had had some success as a concept designer in Hollywood, working on the Predator movies, The Crow, and Jurassic Park, but he wanted to break in as a director. He decided to do it by making what was basically the first big-budget fan film. For $30,000, he got professional actors (including Josh Koenig, AKA Boner from Growing Pains), professional editors and costume designers, and did a four-day shoot that resulted in a seriously action-packed fight between Batman, the Joker, and (surprise!) alien and predator.

When Collora showed it at Comic-Con 2003, fans went nuts, and it got endorsements from geek gods Kevin "Chasing Amy" Smith and comic book artist Alex Ross, as well as the crew at movie alpha-geek site Ain't It Cool News. Despite the fact that it used copyrighted characters from DC Comics and Warners, the two houses declined to issue any cease-and-desists. Collora wasn't making money on the movie, and apparently the execs had decided they liked getting fans excited about their characters.

As his notoriety took off, Collora planned an even bigger film for Comic-Con 2004. His money was running out, but he was sure he was about to get a production deal with a studio and all he needed was to stay in the public eye. He poured the rest of his cash — $12,000 — into making a movie based on the comic series World's Finest, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others. The plot was intriguing, with hints that super-villain Lex Luthor's LexCorp was making underhanded deals with Batman's Wayne Enterprises. Collora knew if he could get this flick in front of the fans and media at Comic-Con, he'd get a real movie deal.

Spurred by his success with Dead End in 2003, several other big-budget fan films (many about Batman) were slated to share the bill with World's Finest during the fan film show. But then, just a month before Comic-Con was set to begin in July, the convention abruptly canceled. No fan films would be allowed at Comic-Con.

Writes Young:

San Diego Comic-Con was scrapping its fan film program; organizers had been contacted by the legal department of Warner Brothers . . . David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con, explained to Comics2Film, "Comic-Con International received a letter in early June from Warner Brothers requesting that we honor their intellectual copyrights by not screening films which may infringe upon those copyrights. Needless to say, we have complied."

Apparently Warners had decided to issue this ultimatum after consulting with one of Collora's rival fan filmmakers, Aaron Schoenke, a college intern at Sony Studios who had made a fan movie called Batman: Dark Justice. Schoenke's movie would also not be shown at Comic-Con 2004, but that didn't stop Schoenke from claiming that Warners had privately told him the problem was that Comic-Con was making money by showing the fan films. Therefore the convention was benefiting vicariously from the studio's intellectual property.

Still, Warners never made a direct statement, and Young is rightly skeptical of whether Schoenke really had been given the authority to speak for the company in this matter. Sadly, if Comic-Con had wanted to stand its ground it could have. All they would have had to do is make the fan film presentation free to the public. And Collora's World's Finest could have gotten the exposure he hoped for. Instead of the fan adulation he'd gotten in 2003, Collora was tailed around Comic-Con 2004 by a Warners representative who was there to prevent him from handing out any promotional material related to World's Finest.

Collora's offers from Hollywood dried up. He suffered a near-fatal car crash, and it took him months to recover. At last, however, he's able to see his experience in perspective. He told Silvererbulletcomics:

To be blatantly honest, for some reason, it just didn't happen for me. I tried harder than anyone I know, but no one would actually pull the trigger and give me a job, so now I'm doing it myself.

And that's the happy ending to this story. Despite Comic-Con letting the fan filmmakers down in 2004, Collora is back on his feet. He's in the middle of making an indie film called Hunter Prey, which Young describes as a "low-budget, scifi/horror feature pitting intergalactic military against creepy monsters, set to be shot in Mexico." Below, you can see him on the shoot. If anybody can make it happen, Collora can.

This is just one of the cool, revealing tales that make Clive Young's book Homemade Hollywood an absolute pleasure to read. If you're interested in fan movies, or the subterranean world of Hollywood, it's a must-read. It's coming out in the next month, so pre-order your copy while it's hot!

Original here

Top Six Sexiest Vampires to grace your theatres

2008 by kevin

Vampires are fascinating creatures. They need human blood to survive and can make us their slaves. In such a scenerio, The Daily Dust have put together a list of vampires who we would most like to donate our blood to.

6. Ingrid Pitt

Much to our benefits, Ingrid Pitt landed a role in the 1971 film Countess Dracula. Ingrid plays a scantily clad vampire who slays young virgins to keep her self young and supple. A worthy cause.

5. Leonor Varela

Blade II is full of vampires the competition for hottest vampire was fierce. However, Nyssa, a sexy fighting vampire played by the hot Chilean actress Leonor Varela took the crown.

4. Monica Belluci

In the 1992 film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula has three brides. His first was played by the gorgeous Monica Belluci who stole the scene, even with two other very sexy vampires

3. Salma Hayek

IN From Dusk Till Dawn , Salma Hayek brings a vampire infested strip club to a boil with her incredible dance with a big snake. One of the sexiest scenes in cinema ever.

2. Aaliyah

The late Aaliyah played the seriously sexy vampire, Akasha, the queen of the damned.

1. Kate Beckinsale

In the 2003 film Underworld , Kate Beckinsale showed us to match sexy with horror and action, playing Selene and dressed in skin-tight black, she had to win.

Let us know in the comments below if we have missed any hot vampires.

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Truth Is Scarier Than Fiction: 5 Documentaries That Will Scare You To Death

By Katey Rich & Josh Tyler

Everyone comforts themselves in the scariest of horror movies by telling themselves "It's only a movie, and a little girl with dark, wet hair is not going to climb out of my television and kill me." But what about when it's not just a movie, but real life? Documentaries used to have a reputation for being boring, but recently documentary filmmakers have unearthed some seriously scary stuff, from power-mad executives to brainwashed little kids. Yeah, it could be the stuff of horror movies, but there are some things so scary you can't make them up. Here are five movies that'll snap you right back to reality and scare the living daylights out of you-- no silly costumes or fake blood required.

Man on Wire
This is actually a happy movie, and an example of how something fairly magical (a man walking across a tightrope stretched between the Twin Towers) happened during one of the darkest times in New York City's history. But when Phillippe Petit finally accomplishes his dream and steps out on that thin wire, over 1,000 feet in the air, anyone with a fear of heights will feel paralyzed in their seats. My hands sweat just thinking about it. With just black and white photos and some well-chosen music, a tightrope walk became one of the scariest things I've seen all year.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
We've all enjoyed watching the smarmy, money-grubbing Wall Street bastards get what they deserved amid this financial meltdown, but are we ready to really look at what their type got away with? Enron is long gone, but Alex Gibney's documentary about the guys who built it is a cautionary tale about how a lot of money can make a few people really, really powerful. And just because capitalism as we know it is falling apart doesn't mean these kinds of guys won't strike again. They're like the serial killer who climbs out of his grave after getting his arm knocked off, or the endless swarms of killer bees. Don't ever, ever think they're dead.

Jesus Camp
A movie about the way a segment of America’s population is slowly brainwashing its kids towards hatred and intolerance would be scary enough on its own. But what’s really scary about Jesus Camp is the way many people reacted to it. For some, Jesus Camp isn’t terrifying at all. It’s a portrait of what they do on a Tuesday. It’s uplifting, inspiring even. What’s really terrifying about Jesus Camp is that its supporters didn’t launch smear campaigns to discredit it. They simply nodded their heads and said: “Yep, that’s how it is. See you later, when our zombie kids are scooping your eyes out with a melon baller at the Apocalypse!”

An Inconvenient Truth
It's like those nightmares you have about slowly suffocating, or drowning, or burning, except it's happening to the entire world. Put all Al Gore jokes aside; An Inconvenient Truth is scary, and always will be, because it's about something so horrifying that's been happening right in front of us. You know, like Carrie getting drenched with pig's blood at the prom... except it's happening to the entire world. For maximum scary effect, turn the movie off before you get to the uplifting ending-- it would send a chill down your spine if it weren't so unseasonably warm outside.

Got a brain tumor? Cancer? Boy are you screwed. I mean, we all know we’re screwed, but Michael Moore’s documentary outlines just how completely screwed we all are if we ever get seriously sick. To add insult to injury, he hammers the point home by showing how much better everyone else has it. While you’re laying in your bed dying and being assaulted by angry creditors, or arguing with your doctor over which appendages you can afford to keep, there’s a guy with the same ailment somewhere in France, completely cured and recovering on a sunny beach, free of charge and with all his limbs intact. Got insurance? It doesn’t matter. It won’t help you. Sicko’s out to convince you that push comes to shove, America’s citizens are screwed. If that doesn’t scare the diabetes right out of you, then I don’t know what will.

Original here