Friday, July 2, 2010

Apps Coming Soon to a TV Near You

I admit that I am a "Mac-head". I am Mac-ed out with an MacBookPro, iPhone and most recently iPad and I love and use all of them daily. I think Steve Jobs should be nominated for Sainthood for the technological innovations he's spearheaded that have changed so many people's lives and our industry.

My love of Apple is based purely on the simple fact that their products actually work as advertised and do what they are supposed to do consistently with simplicity and elegance. (Albeit, having a little Apple stock in the portfolio has also not hurt my love of the company - it's increased a whopping 5x since I first got it a prior to the release of the first video iPod.)

Those 3 traits- consistency, simplicity and elegance - have been sorely missing from many other tech products/software I've bought from other companies, most of which are gathering dust in my basement.

So with today's article in the New York Times touting a rumor that Apple appears be revamping it's Apple TV product and making a strong push into our living rooms, I see one of the final pieces in the puzzle of the evolving new media landscape I've been talking about on this blog for more than 3 years now...Digital convergence of our computers/tv/web into one unit which I believe will very shortly offer the ability for filmmakers to distribute their products direct to an audience with no middleman or gatekeepers and even charge $$$ for it.

Purportedly, the new Apple TV may run on the same OS as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch which would allow you to run Apps on your TV (Think Netflix, Skype, iTunes, etc.). Similarly, several TV manufacturers are already shipping new TV's with web-connectivity and the ability to run apps (although I suspect Apples new effort will ultimately work better and be the most elegant, based on recent history).

So once again, I'm telling y'all to study these developments and really think about how we as filmmakers can be first-movers to take advantage of this shifting media landscape. Down and Dirty DV will most definitely be somewhere in the early fray.

Hollywood gatekeepers, dust off your resumes. Time's are a changing!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rare Movie Role Models for Kids of Color

I was just talking to my friend and filmmaking colleague (now NYU film professor) Alrick Brown about how much I enjoyed taking my son to see the new Karate Kid movie starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson.

I enjoyed The Karate Kid as a typical fun summer blockbuster, but I especially enjoyed it for the "break out" characters it presented to my 7-year old son. To clarify, it wasn't so much the characters that were break-out, as the fact that they were all people of color in a mainstream movie who my son could relate to and identify with.

While that may not sound like much to some, it's a huge deal to many of us parents who's kids struggle to reconcile the fact that no one looks like them in 95% of the media images they consume. (And the few that do, are often poor role models, impoverished or flawed characters.)

See, a few months ago my son told me he wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Not be like Luke Skywalker, not be a Jedi, but actually BE Luke Skywalker...he wanted blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin, because in his 7-year old head, that's what good guys and heroes are supposed to look how could he possibly be a Jedi if he doesn't look like a Jedi?!

My son is Black and Chinese, so I racked my brain to offer him alternative Black or Chinese movie heroes, but I couldn't think of many outside of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, because so few exist in the mainstream media. So The Karate Kid was an answer to my parenting prayers.

In talking to Alrick, we just saw each other and said, "Did you see The Karate Kid?!" and each of us knew exactly what we meant. I can only hope that this is a sign of things to come and that Jaden Smith's (and his producer/actor parent's, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith's) career will continue to blossom and Hollywood will continue to put people of color in mainstream blockbuster movie roles.

Media images have such a powerful and long-term psychological effect on our society, that I believe such a sustained move could alter a whole generation's self-perception....for the better for a change.

We need and like to be heroes too.

Here's filmmaker, Alrick Brown's, Blog Post on the issue.

The Karate Kid Trailer:

THE KARATE KID: Movie Trailer - Watch more top selected videos about: The_Karate_Kid_(2010_film), Jaden_Smith, Jackie_Chan, Harald_Zwart, Taraji_P._Henson