Friday, 28 November 2014

Weekly Update #59: A Fractured Destiny

Howdy, everybody!

Actually, I found out about the Taylor Swift song the same way that I did Avril Lavigne's HELLO KITTY -- in the NATIONAL POST "Arts & Life" section where they'll run a still and the lyrics for a song and then comment on it.  The natural impulse is to think Taylor Swift is an airhead because she's at least a "9'" if not a "10" (depending on your personal tastes).  No, anyone who has the music business figured out THAT thoroughly (and selling platinum regularly in 2014 is about as clear evidence as you could find of figuring out the broken shards of the music business) is no airhead.  I read a quote from her a while ago about creative/business focus when she switched from country to pop:  "If you chase two rabbits you don't catch either of them."  That's really good.


1.  CEREBUS: THE MOVIE arrives in raw form and is under review.

1.  From Oliver Simonsen, Director of CEREBUS: THE MOVIE in his cover letter:
I foresee problems in fitting that onto your average Cineplex multi-theatre listing.  :) Although I LOVED the graphic for it in the titles which reminded me of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
Various things need tweaking here and there -- the rough version is made up of non-rendered pieces, low resolution test-render pieces, etc. Will have a real Editor and Sound Engineer go over the final rendered film.  

Cerebus' props (his helmet, vest, medallions and sword) are still missing in some parts.  They play a key role as the film is based on the revelation in issue 196 of how Cerebus fractured his destiny when he traded his helmet for a merchant vest to fit in.  Otherwise, it follows very faithfully issues 1, 4, 5 and 13 with a little bit of some other issues.  

A good chunk of the first 20 minutes is new stuff spent on exposition, populace and dynamics of the town -- this is what is retained from when I tried filling the entire script with just the first issue.  This remainder serves to show how people can be like sheep as they hero-worship and then equally turn against the outsider, Cerebus, on a dime.

The investors say they are still on board.  If that doesn't pan out, for whatever reason, we'll still be able to finish the film, one way or another.

I guess that's pretty much it...needless to say, I hope you approve of the film  :)
Okay, the film is better than I thought it would be.  For those unaware of my deal with Oliver: I'm committed to not actively impeding/actively not impeding Oliver in making his CEREBUS film.  Oliver's consortium of Hollywood investors are aware that it's 99% certain that the finished film WON'T be sanctioned and that nothing can be done with it without my explicit consent...and they're STILL willing to backstop Oliver's remaining production costs.

Strikes me as a very strong vote of confidence in the material.

If I reject the movie, ultimately (again, 99% guaranteed -- maybe 95%, now) there are potential compromises, one of which I've suggested:  that the Unsanctioned, Unofficial film tour a series of "off-site" movie theatres in association with major comic-book conventions.


This wouldn't include me, needless to say, unless 1400 signatures suddenly appear on the petition out of nowhere.

The idea is that Oliver would tell me how much money the investors are "in" for and we set up something that can reasonably be expected to recoup their investment (without interest: pun intended) by selling tickets to THE FINAL TOUR showing(s) in each city as well as a certain amount of "off the leash" merchandising for a fixed period of time.  Including copies of the film. 

Oliver and volunteer animators who worked on the movie (local to the convention in question) as well as the voice actors and actresses would agree to do an on-site panel in exchange for their travel expenses and accomodations being covered.

I don't want to see anyone LOSE money on Oliver's pie-in-the-sky CEREBUS dream, least of all Oliver.

Everyone is volunteering on this one:  none of the animators or voice actors have been paid.  It's strictly a labour of love.

Coincidentally, I had planned to tell Oliver to work backward to the Hollywood method:  basically, "let's do the trailer as the first completely finished thing and THEN finish the film" -- but I didn't get around to it.   So I had to laugh when I got to the end of the film and Oliver had a music video under the credits.  Of course!  Going in reverse order, the "music video with clips from the movie" comes even BEFORE the trailer.  So, in writing to Oliver, I basically tweaked the music video -- "use THESE clips instead of these other clips" -- and said I'd tell him what I think we're going to do with the music video after he sends me a copy that's been fixed.  (And I'll tell all of you after I tell Oliver).

I'm not sure WHEN it came in the development of SEINFELD but either Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld said "This show needs some estrogen".  The Elaine character.

I had the same reaction to the movie, except in my case:  "This movie needs a MASSIVE INJECTION of estrogen".  Fortunately, I had already been thinking along those lines when I knew that Oliver was doing #1, #4, #5 and #13 (four issues that are "off-the-dial" when it comes to non-estrogen).

Where's the girl?

Top Hollywood question.

The answer is:  framing device.  So, I'm going to become one of Oliver's unpaid workers and write a framing device which involves the unnamed editrix/publisher of FRIENDS OF YOOWHO (from the end of LATTER DAYS) interviewing Cerebus about the events in #1, #4, #5 and #13.  This is going to be a MINOR, MINOR, MINOR part of my workload.  Just to give you an idea, I picked up the mail about 10 am last week and didn't put the DVD in until 10 pm when I had already been up for about 20 hours -- and I figure that will be my "Movie Spot" from now (the last two hours before I crash on my non-fasting day every other Friday).
Cerebus #288 (March 2003)
art by Dave Sim, assisted by Chris Verhoeven
You have to remember that I'm a completely NON-movie person.  I read reviews of movies and that's about all I can see as being worth my time, movie-wise.  What Chris Knight and -- particularly -- Nathalie Atkinson and Katherine Monk think -- of whatever movie they're talking about in POST MOVIES every Friday.  A zeitgeist thing.  Across virtually every political and cultural fence imaginable.  "Wow. You really DO think that way, don't you?" I'll ask my newspaper on a regular basis.

FAR more important to me is THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, CEREBUS ARCHIVE and getting everything ready for after I'm dead.

Fortunately, the framing stuff is really going to be a "no-brainer".  I had the first scene written by the time I was fast-forwarding through the film (for pacing) the second time.

Let's call her "Yoowho" really carries the film (in our feminist age, nothing else would make sense), so we're going to need a Really Good Actress to play her.  And -- because a) I'm not a movie person and, consequently, am going to do everything completely differently from how movies are made and b) I really don't want to devote a lot of time to this  --  what I'm looking for is not only an actress, but an actress/director/cinematographer.  Basically, whoever plays Yoowhoo will be directly herself and filming herself and then sending the footage to me and Oliver.  I have no time to MAKE HER INTO Yoowhoo, I only have time for her to make herself into Yoowhoo or (more likely) BE Yoowhoo.  Oliver will just do whatever they call the modern version of "rotoscoping" in our digital age from that footage.  We might have one voice actress and one performing, physical actress or we might have two-in-one.  We'll see.

One big advantage is that the character wasn't established as being a particular age in LATTER DAYS.  She could be anywhere from her early twenties to a really well-preserved 40 or 40+.  Or somewhere in between.  

I haven't got anything on paper yet, but the "screen test" would be pages 430 to 434 of LATTER DAYS (it's a nice spectrum of moods/attitudes she goes through) (originally in issue 288).  Doesn't matter who she gets to feed her the Cerebus lines (although I can't rule out finding a different Cerebus voice actor), it would just be her on the screen.  If she can do all five pages the way I picture it in my head, we will have found our Yoowhoo.

You can send actress DVDs and contact info to Box 1674 Stn. C Kitchener, Ontario Canada N2G 4R2 and I'll look at them in order every other Friday after I've been awake for 20 hours.

One of the priorities that I have is that I don't want this to be a fanzine movie.  To me, the only comic-book adaptation movies that AREN'T fanzine movies are the first SUPERMAN film and the first SPIDER-MAN film (although Mike Kitchen has promised to show me THE AVENGERS on my Christmas visit to his and Erika's place which he says qualifies). Tim Burton's 1989 BATMAN was a really good fanzine movie.  It wasn't BATMAN, it was Tim Burton's fanzine.  I wouldn't -- and WON'T -- do that.

If I look at the finished movie and I don't think it IS CEREBUS, then I can't justify it being generally released.  "This is Oliver Simonsen's CEREBUS fanzine movie."  It would be slapping all the CEREBUS fans in the face.  It has to ADD something to the 300 issues not just be "Oh, that was SORT of like issue 4".  The movie, as entertainment, as an expression of the intellectual property, has to GO TO the CEREBUS fan, not require the CEREBUS fan GO TO the movie (except physically).

It's also possible that it won't be a film.  I'm not ruling out this as being a 90-minute pilot for a GAME OF THRONES style cable show through Netflix or HBO or somebody -- where it would have the advantage of being thematically linked to other content "It's like A GAME OF THRONES -- but funny!"  That kind of thing.

Okay, I've eaten up all my time this week.  NEXT week back to CEREBUS ARCHIVE and CEREBUS ARCHIVE FIRST RELEASE where things are evolving a lot more quickly than I thought they were going to.

See you then, God willing!   


Eddie said...

Interesting this came out the same day as the new Star Wars trailer release

Jeff Seiler said...

Wow. I nearly always support Dave on anything he does, but...

I am truly conflicted over him writing YooWhoo into this film.

I'd really like to see other thoughts here about this idea...

Caveat: I am one of the voiceover actors in the film.

Oliver said...

Just received Dave's letter today, too! What an incredible day! This is going to be amazing!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like this movie is going slightly better than the Fantagraphics-published phone books, but I predict that the result will be the same. That's only a slight delay, though; once Dave is dead and Cerebus is in the public domain, Oliver can release the movie if he wants.

I look forward to hearing the news about Cerebus Archive the publication. If Dave can derive a sufficient income from repackaging his old work, he can devote himself to Strange Death (and, I suppose (it's his time and his money, donated by his fans) to his Museum of Me). It doesn't look like we're going to see a finished Strange Death before Dave's (hopefully natural) death -- not if he spends whole days moving tracing-paper hands around. Even if it winds up being Dave's Edwin Drood or Salmon of Doubt, I'd like to read it.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, cpu

ChrisW said...

I think adding Yoohwhoo into the movie is a great idea. It really fits the basic concept of a movie, a collectivist re-construction of reality dedicated towards a specific goal and packaged for the mass audience. How is Dave going to find a Yoohwhoo? She'll find him.

I'm more interested in his thoughts on the difference between "fanzine movies" and "non-fanzine movies," particularly in regards to the superhero blockbusters. And especially "Avengers."

ChrisW said...

Lena Dunham would be a perfect candidate to play Yoohwhoo.

Eddie said...

I think it's a great idea as well, since it helps connect the movie to the source material; Cerebus perhaps mis-remembering EXACTLY what happened in those issues, since it was so long ago. Or perhaps using it as a means of trying to seduce Yoohoo (like an old athlete trying to regale some sweet young thang about what a big shot he was back in the day). And it will probably help boost attention to the movie (like I'm sure that picture of the girl who did the vocals for the song holding issues of Cerebus and a snake did. It's, ah say, it's all in the presentation. Marketing, that is)

The editrix/interviewer looked visually like Jaka in the comic, so that may be a consideration. Unless it can be later in their relationship

CerebusTV said...

It wasn't a Tim Burton fanzine; it was Michael "The Boy Who Loved Batman" Uslan's fan tribute to Bob Kane's The Batman.

I know if Dave and I had lived in New York, Brooklyn or Jersey City, instead of Kitchener, then we would have been there with Mike Uslan crashing the two office Marvel Bullpen and stalking the DC creators to their home studios, too.

Oliver's tribute, once finished, falls into the remarkable Uslan pattern. Very, very proud to have had his animations be the most popular part of CerebusTV, presaging his remarkable technical achievements.

ChrisW said...

And speaking of Taylor Swift, here's an amusing comics related article.

Jason Winter said...

Come to think of it, Miss Smith looks a little like Jaka. Maybe she could play Yoowhoo.

Tony Dunlop said...

Ugh…that cover…I've just finished my latest complete re-read a week or so ago, and seeing that cover reminded me of one thing of which I am absolutely certain:
I am…NEVER…EVER…reading the "Cerebexegesis" or Issue 289/290 (? - the double-issue with the "multiply and merge" stuff)…AGAIN.
Seriously…if the CIA needs a replacement for waterboarding, I'd suggest forcing terror suspects to read that stuff. They'll talk.

Travis Pelkie said...

Aw, I was kinda hoping that Dave discovered "Shake it Off" in the wild (if you will), like at the grocery store or something, and couldn't help but dance to "this. sick. beat." Damn it's catchy!

Like Dave, I don't go see movies but I do read newspaper articles about them (especially in the NY Times), but...

Really? You think the answer to a movie basically being a sausage fest is to bring in the character from the end of Latter Days? The Jaka like-a-look? The one who becomes She-Shep's mom? The one who Cerebus in his dotage thinks of (maybe not in these words) as "that bitch who ruined everything"? Really? That cover there is an example of what is NOT going to reel in women viewers. I'd say the only advantage is that it introduces the later thematic elements right off the bat -- if someone can't stomach this, you won't like ANY of Cerebus.

I don't know. It seems like a bad move. There are plenty of action-adventure movies around that are virtually all testosterone. I'd wager that they're even the ones that make the most money, as young males are apparently the biggest movie audience, as I understand it.

(Side note, was that character actually supposed to be a Jaka like-a-look, or was she supposed to look like the cover lady here? It's upended my thinking on the end of that book, because now I'm not sure if Cerebus was besotted because she looked like Jaka or he became besotted and imagined she looked like Jaka. Hmmm. I thought Dave did clear it up at some point, though. Anyone else remember?)

(Other side note: when reading the end of Latter Days, was I the only one who thought "Cerebus is Keyser Soze?")

So yeah, I'm not liking this framing idea. I'm also opposed to the movie just on grounds that Seiler is in it, too ;) (kidding!)

Ethan Burns said...

Really Tony? That was the only part of Chasing YHWH that I liked. I mean the actual story is past overboard but it was the only part that wasn't extremely boring and the art is amazing.

Tony Dunlop said...

I meant the text part; Cerebus' Bible commentary. I will never read that again. I barely managed a page a day in my reread. I liked the Koenigsburg stuff (it helps that I've always liked Woody Allen - well, up until "Crimes and Misdemeanors" or so), and yes, the drawings are gorgeous.