Tag Archive: Director


Cooper-Dale-Agt

Dale Bartholomew Cooper is a fictional character, an eccentric Special Agent of the FBI. Cooper was the central figure of the ABC television series “Twin Peaks”, and was played by actor Kyle MacLachlan.

The series was created by legendary film director David Lynch and Mark Frost, and went on to achieve a cult status of its own.

The Man, and His Methods

David Lynch named Cooper as a reference to D. B. Cooper, the unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft on November 24, 1971. Cooper escaped by parachute, never to be seen, again.

Born on April 19, 1954, the fictional Dale Cooper is a graduate of Haverford College. After joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cooper was based at the Bureau offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was partnered there with the older Special Agent Windom Earle (actor Kenneth Welsh) – a closet psychopath whose various crimes (when they came to light) would return to haunt Cooper, in later years.

Key among these was the case of Earle’s wife, Caroline, who witnessed a federal crime, some time after Cooper joined the Bureau. Earle and Cooper were assigned to protect her; it was around this time that Cooper began an affair with Caroline. One night in Pittsburgh, Cooper let his guard down – and Caroline was murdered by her husband (who had also committed the crime witnessed by Caroline, during a psychotic break). Windom Earle was subsequently sent to a mental institution, from which he would later escape, to wreak havoc in Twin Peaks.

Cooper was devastated by the loss of the woman he would later refer to as the love of his life. He swore to never again become involved with someone who was part of a case to which he was assigned.

An introspective man, Cooper is fueled by a profound interest in the mystical, especially the mythology of Tibetan and Native American cultures. Much of his work is based on intuition and the interpretation of dreams, rather than conventional logic. While working a case, Cooper also dictates regular reports to his (never seen) assistant Diane, using a hand-held tape recorder.

“A hairless mouse with a pitchfork sang a song about caves.”

Okay, this is actually a quote from the “Twin Peaks” parody sketch when Kyle Maclachlan guest hosted Saturday Night Live in 1990. But the fact that it’s not a million miles from the kind of stuff Dale Cooper puts out during his “real” adventures gives an indication of the methods of the man.

At some point in his career, Cooper was placed under the direct authority of FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (played in the series by David Lynch, himself). Under Cole’s mandate, Cooper was occasionally assigned the mysterious ‘Blue Rose’ cases.

The Town, and Its People

On February 24, 1989, Cooper arrives in the fictional Northwestern town of Twin Peaks, to investigate the murder of local teenager Laura Palmer (actress Sheryl Lee). Here’s a YouTube clip, of Dale’s arrival, from the series’ pilot episode:

It’s a complex case, involving the town’s eccentric characters (like The Log Lady), metaphysical entities, and other-dimensional spaces like the mysterious Black Lodge. During his extended stay, Cooper winds up helping the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department to investigate other cases, as well.

Cooper gains an instant rapport with many of the townspeople – including Sheriff Harry S. Truman (yes, like the President; actor Michael Ontkean) and his junior officers, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill and Deputy Andy Brennan. 18-year-old Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn), the daughter of local businessman Benjamin Horne, develops a serious crush on the eccentric FBI man. Over time, a close and affectionate friendship develops, between the two.

And Cooper falls in love with the “damn fine coffee”, and cherry pie, for which the town would become famous. Check out the YouTube clip below, to get a flavor of the place:

The Laura Palmer mystery is eventually “resolved” on an ambiguous note, with Dale Cooper’s evil doppelganger on the loose in Twin Peaks (a fugitive from the Black Lodge; watch the show on DVD, it’s too complex to go into, now), and the dead girl’s spirit vowing that “I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

His Anticipated Return

Now, 25 years on, that promise is to be fulfilled. In 2016, Showtime will be bringing us a sequel to the cult series. The network says that nine new “Twin Peaks” episodes – set in the present day – are going into production soon. And Kyle MacLachlan is set to return, as Dale Cooper – as are several other characters from the original 1990s run.

Showtime’s president, David Nevins, has even persuaded David Lynch to direct all nine episodes.

Fans will no doubt be hoping that the sequel will answer the questions left hanging at the end of season two in 1991. Nevins is keeping quiet on this.

Only time will tell.

Keep watching this space.

Peace.

Trick is a short film by Shooting Incident Productions (UK and Germany), based on an original screenplay by Des Nnochiri.

Trick is directed by Jamie McEvoy and Jay Spencer – a man who also has the distinction of being head of Shooting Incident Productions.

Director, and Shooting Incident Productions chief, Jay Spencer

Here’s a perspective on the making of the movie, in Jay’s own words:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I have worked in TV film, and theatre almost my entire life – except for a small time when I studied Law at university. The legal
career didn’t sit too easy with me – all early mornings and late nights – so I left to set up my studio and agency. I have 2 cats – and spend
far too much on gadgets and film equipment. People often think I’m miserable. Oh well, what can you do….

Q: How did you become a director, and what kind of work do you do?

A: I became a director when I realised that I could do it! As a former actor, I learned what was required and I have a friend who is
an amazing editor. I used to go to work with him and spend hours watching how he picked shots, and listened to his tips. I also learn a
lot from my young studio buddy – Jamie – only 20 – but one hell of a talent.

Q: Can you enlighten us a little on film editing, and the post-production process? What’s involved?

A: Jamie and I usually meet up for a script day, we read it through and discuss how we see the film panning out; we discuss shots and how
we see it working. It’s strange, but we often have very similar views – and often we take turns at directing scenes or even swap direction
between takes! It might confuse some people, but it’s how we like to work.

It works for us, and I guess that’s what matters. Jamie often edits on his own these days – but occasionally we edit
together and I suggest some cuts – not that he needs it. I just like to have input at this stage too.

Q: Was there much of this to do, on Trick?

A: Trick was well written and so the visuals came easy. We had to take out a lot of “American” ideas and themes – to make it work in
our part of the world. With a large budget we wouldn’t have changed much at all!  I have got another script written by Des – “Best Friends
Forever” – and I wanted to do that one first – but Trick was too tempting, too accessible – and Jade was wanting to shoot – so we did.

Director Jay Spencer, working on the set of Trick

Q: What about the future? Any upcoming projects we should know about?

A: We have always got projects in mind – and if we can’t find any scripts – Jamie or me will usually write one. I’m told we are going to
be shooting on “Phase Three” again soon, just waiting for the actors to clear off other productions. The script was written by Jamie and
is being produced in house. I guess we are control freaks.

Thanks for sending us the scripts for Trick and Best Friends Forever – we like the way Des Nnochiri writes, and his work seems to fit with
where we are at right now.

Onwards and upwards – keep going people, your entire career starts with one small step – keep walking.

Q: Thanks for your time, Jay.

Pretty straightforward, yes? Jay – modest man that he is – makes it sound simple. And, by definition, it could be.

At its simplest, film editing is the process of selecting and combining shots into sequences, and assembling these into a coherent motion picture.

Yet, the job of an editor is not only to put pieces of film together, or edit dialogue. He or she must work with several layers: images, storyline, dialogue, music, pacing, and the actors’ performances, to craft a movie that hangs together well, and delivers the punch that it should.

You see, film editing is only one part of the wider post-production process.

Post-production is a blanket term for several different procedures, such as:

* Video editing of all the picture shots
* Writing, recording, re-recording, and editing the soundtrack
* Adding visual or special effects
* Sound design, sound effects, music, and professional audio mixing
* Transfer of color motion picture film to video, with color correction

It’s often the case that post-production takes longer than the shooting of the film, itself. On a full-length feature film, it can take several months.

In the past, picture editors dealt with (logically enough) pictures, alone. Sound, music, and visual effects editors worked on other aspects of the editing process – usually under the supervision of the picture editor and film director.

Digital hardware and software have put more of these elements under the picture editor’s control. On lower budget films, the editor will often cut in music, basic visual effects, and add sound effects or sound replacements. If resources allow for it, these temporary elements may be refined by specialist teams, hired to complete the picture.

There are several editing stages, of which the editor’s cut comes first. Also known as the assembly edit or rough cut, the editor’s cut is the first pass of what the final film will be.

Prior to cutting, the editor and director will usually have seen or discussed the dailies (raw footage, shot each day). These give the editor some idea of the director’s overall vision. While shooting continues, the editor continues to refine the cut, which might end up being longer than the final film.

When shooting finishes, the director is free to collaborate fully with the editor, and refine the cut of the film. They go over the entire movie: re-ordering shots and scenes, removing unnecessary bits, shortening, and tightening up. If there are plot holes, missing shots, or missing segments, new scenes may have to be filmed. What results from this is known as the director’s cut.

Director’s cuts are tricky. Some work.

James Cameron’s preferred cut of Aliens (1986) contains additional scenes providing helpful context and back stories for the heroic Ellen Ripley (actress Sigourney Weaver) and the equally heroic moppet, Rebecca “Newt” Jorden (played by Carrie Henn).

Some don’t.

There’s been a furore recently over director George Lucas’ latest set of “improved” Star Wars films. The updated CGI effects might work, but his audio enhancements haven’t. Screaming Lord Vader got a massive thumbs-down, from loyal fans.

The final cut comes after the director’s cut is refined by one or more producers, who represent the production company and / or movie studio financing the film. And it’s at this point that “creative differences” often occur.

Ever see the work of a director named Alan Smithee?

In the movie industry, the name “Alan Smithee” is often used by directors who – because of conflicts with the studio – don’t wish to have their name associated with the final cut of a film.

Alan Smithee Presents: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) – a tale in which Smithee himself tries to steal the reels for a potentially disastrous, big-budget action movie – was directed (spookily enough) by Alan Smithee. Otherwise known as Arthur Hiller.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) was a travesty, compared to the magnificence of Hellraiser, the just-above-average Hellraiser II, and the storming Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. Bloodline was directed by Alan Smithee, masquerading as Kevin Yagher (or is that the other way round?)

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) had Dean Tshetter in the Alan Smithee director’s chair. The title was probably the best part of the film.

And so on.

No such problems here, though. Thank God.

Keep your eyes on this space, for the next instalment in this series.

And try to be excellent, in all things. Couldn’t hurt.

Peace.

Green Shoots…

Off. Into the ether. But doesn’t score.

What’s become of the GreenWriter initiative?

A year ago Daniel Riser launched the Greenwriter.org website, touting it as the next big thing in content storage and delivery, for the movie industry.

Specifically, a virtual meeting place for industry professionals, where screenwriters could upload their scripts, for appraisal, and (hopefully) action, by producers and directors.

Without the need (initially) to meet face to face.

And without the environmental costs incurred by moving huge reams of paper, from place to place.

Hopeful scribes (including me) signed up. Gave e-mail addresses. Got user names, and passwords. Some (not me) may even have uploaded screenplays.

All waited. And waited.

Then e-mailed, with queries. Or tried to visit the website.

Uh-oh.

Somewhere along the line, Greenwriter.org just… disappeared.

Try accessing their Web address (http://greenwriter.org), and you’ll get a nasty message from your browser.

Try e-mailing the service for an explanation, and you’ll hear a deafening silence.

What’s happened to Greenwriter.org?

Anyone?

Peace.