Toy Story 3 – To Infinity and Beyond One Last Time

There’s good news and bad news about the upcoming release of Toy Story 3. I’ll start with the bad news first, which is that the movie is in fact a “three-quel.” You see, in Hollywood, the dreaded sequel to a sequel almost always means less story and dumber plots.

They’re seen as a way for the big movie studios to “cash in” one more time by bringing back characters that everyone has grown to love and throwing them into a poorly written script that inevitably ends up bombing and casting a dark shadow on the entire franchise. Our love for the characters forces us to buy a ticket even though deep down we know it’s probably going to be terrible.

So that’s the bad news. What’s the good news? Come on, it’s Pixar, people! The same groundbreaking animation studio that has been wowing audiences ever since the release of their first computer animated feature back in 1995 (which coincidentally was the original Toy Story).

The films that followed, including such prestigious titles as Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E and last years Up, have all went on to become monumental successes, earning a gazillion dollars world wide and solidifying Pixar as one of the most predominate film studios on the planet.

And now Pixar, along with the powerhouse that is Disney (the company’s long-time collaborator), look to add another blockbuster to their resume by once again bringing back Woody and Buzz for the upcoming release of Toy Story 3. A fan favorite among filmgoers, the Toy Story franchise is still Pixar’s most beloved title and is considered a classic as far as I’m concerned.

The studio made a sequel to the film in 1999 that was suppose to be a one-hour STV (Straight To Video) release. But after being pleased with the script and seeing how well the animation was turning out, Pixar decided to make it a theatrical release. Turns out it was the right decision as Toy Story 2 went on to gross more than the original at the box office.

And now, eleven years after the first sequel, they toys are back in town. Toy Story 3 has most of Pixar’s usual suspects attached to it creatively, including John Lasseter who is credited with the collaborating on the story and executive producing. The movie was directed by Lee Unkrich (a co-director on the second film) and the screenplay was written by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine).

A big reason why the first two films were so successful was the chemistry created by the cast of characters and the voice talent that portrayed them. Thankfully, everyone from the first two films has returned for the third including Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as everyone’s favorite Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. Favorites like Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head and John Ratzenberger as Hamm are also on the roster as are newcomers like Michael Keaton who voices Barbi’s love interest, Ken.

The film touches on some very somber themes with a plot that revolves around Andy, the young imaginative boy who owned all the toys, going off to college as a young man. Obviously too old for his toys now, he decides to get rid of them and hands them off to his mother, who ultimately donates them to a local day care facility for all the young children to enjoy. With Woody and Buzz and the rest of the toys facing a huge turning point in their lives, they must face their new world head on and learn to let go of their past.

So, why a third film? Why would Pixar risk ruining the good name that is Toy Story? Well, according to John Lasseter, it’s all about the story that the movie tells.

“The secret to these films is that each movie is not trying to repeat the same emotion or the same story,” says Lasseter. “We go into something completely different, with the same set of characters and the same world. And therefore we’re able to tap into a completely different set of emotions. Once the toys are alive they become adults with adult concerns. Everyone can relate to these characters. Looking at the world from a toy’s point of view is one thing, but looking at it from a character’s point of view makes it a deeper and more emotional thing. Audiences are able to relate to things in their own lives. This movie has a totally different kind of emotion and depth to it.”

He goes on to say, “And in the third film, we really deal with that point in time that the toys are most concerned about-being outgrown. When you’re broken, you can be fixed; when you’re lost, you can be found; when you’re stolen, you can be recovered. But there’s no way to fix being outgrown by the child. It’s such an interesting evolution to the story.”

I think it’s safe to say that with Toy Story‘s giant fan base, the film doesn’t have to worry about being a summer blockbuster, because people will see this movie in massive numbers. But will the story be considered worthy of the first two? Well, with a plot that already sounds more emotional and meaningful than the first two, I think it’s fair to assume that Toy Story 3 will in fact live up to its franchise’s reputation.

How to Make Movies in Nollywood

You have a brain wave and have conceived a story which you believe when turned into a movie will be a blockbuster and send fame and fortune your way. However, you’re unsure of how to set the ball in motion.

There are three stages in making a movie. The pre-production, production, and Post Production stages.

PRE-PRODUCTION

1) The story:
The story line serves as the starting point in the quest to making a movie. You need to ask yourself some of these questions:
What sort of story do i want to tell?
Who are my target audience, are they children, teens, youths, men and women, or the family?
What message do i want to pass across to them (theme)?
Why do i want to tell the story?
What genre of movies will it be classified under?
Do i want people from other countries to easily relate with it by giving it a cross appeal theme?
Will it be an original work (your ideas), adapted (books) or biopic( life of a person whether dead or alive)?

Note: If it’s an adapted work you’ve got to get permission from the author, pay the necessary fees (after series of negotiation and signing of agreements) to ensure you get the film rights and debar other film makers from using it. If it’s a biopic you have to conduct extensive research on the true life story of the person, get permission from him/her to shoot the movie (if alive), and were he/she is dead you need to get permission from the estates/survivors to film the story. Either way you’re still going to part with good cash.

Remember that the success of every movie lies in the fact that you’ve got to tell the story right.

2) Transfer the story from your mental data base on to paper. You can scribble down the story as it comes to you.

3) The scriptwriter/screenwriter:
You might have the story but not know how to develop it into a script. So you get a script writer who most oftentimes than not writes the screen play for the movie as well. The script writer develops various characters and scenes to tell the story, while the screenwriter ( a professional)converts the script into a working script through which the movie can be shot. The Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria is the accredited professional body overseeing screen writers in Nollywood.

4) The producer:
Now that you have the proper script in your hands, you need a producer (one who raises the money for the production of the movie). Accredited producers belong to the Association of Movie Producers. The natural act would be to approach a producer with your script, talk about it, and leave it for him to go through, and wait for the miracle call. I always advice young scriptwriters or those with good stories developed in to scripts never to do such, because most of time such miracle calls never come. They rather decline to take on such scripts but later use these rejected scripts (modified version) to produce movies and then claim the glory and fortune. Of course there’s no evidence to prosecute the erring producer, so what do you do? One of my articles titled “what rookies must know before submitting movie scripts” addresses the subject.

You’re best bet is to do a little bit of snooping around to find out from the right people in the industry (working in other spheres of production) about good producers, which of them is likely to buy into your idea, and to an extent whether they can be reliable. When that has been done, approach the producer and act in a professional manner, play it cool and never reveal your desperation.

5) The Budget/ Financier:
Alright the producer is interested, but it depends on whether he has the money to foot the bill or not ( because some do have the money). Assuming he doesn’t have the money but has been bought over by the story, he writes down a budget, then goes out to source for the money. When he gets the financier to invest in the production of the movie, jump for joy! The financier is credited with the Executive producer’s title when the opening and closing credits roll.

6) Cattle call audition:
Working in line with the budget he puts up Audition notices in studios and strategic meeting points of actors. A – list actors pencilled down for lead roles have scripts delivered to them. If they express their interest in to taking up the roles, negotiations are made with regards to the acting fees to be received and agreed to by both parties. Casting agencies, agents and legal representative of the actors are technically non-existent. The Casting director selects those who fit into the characters and applies the same paying of fees principle (often times without the negotiation part) to other actors

7) Scouting for Location:
The crew ( director, director of photography and assistants, costumier, editor, make up artiste, camera men, production assistants, technical director and assistants, location manager, welfare officer, special effects director, sound and lights men, boom mike handlers etc) will also have been known. The location manager scouts for the appropriate location to shoot the movies (cities, villages, people’s houses, eateries, accessories and clothing outfits, roads) since the available studios are yet to be fully utilized. He reports back his findings to the producer who goes out with the director to confirm whether the location is suitable for shooting the movie or not.

8) Rehearsals & shooting
Intensive rehearsals commences before going to location. The location schedule is released and members of cast know when he/she is expected on set. Members of the cast are lodged in hotels and their needs taken care of to avoid distractions.

PRODUCTION
Cast and crew are transported to the location sites and the movie is shot with the director piloting the affairs. The blocking of traffic, closing down of certain streets, shops, for shooting purposes is virtually non-existent.

POST PRODUCTION
9) After shooting the movie, basically between 9 and 11 days based on (financial constraint and the general norm), the post production aspect commences. Long hours of recording are edited to an ideal time frame of two and a half hours. (unfortunately producers in a bid to make more money stretch the time limit for the movie into 4-5 hours by applying the general Part 1 & 2 trick). Sound tracks of local and foreign artistes are mostly used, special and sound effects are infused. Sound treatment, colour correction and grading are hardly ever carried out.

10) Censorship/ classification by NFVCB:
When the final production has been made on the master tape, a pre-view copy is taken to the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) for censorship and classification. The Board can either approve it or ask that certain scenes that would not be ideal for public viewing which could send wrong signals to them be expunged. Where asked to expunge certain scenes and that has been done, you send a correction copy to them with the inscription “Correction copy” on it. It will then be rated and a letter written to the effect of the Board’s approval. A marketer who will distribute the movie has to be licensed by the NFVCB.

11) The Producer invokes the “mass dubbing” technique and thousands of copies are replicated on to vcds/dvds with jackets being made, posters, trailer placement (which have to be approved by the Board). However, there are instances when the money expended goes beyond the budget and there isn’t enough money to carry out the aforementioned. At such times the marketer can decide to foot the bill and later deduct it from the money generated from the sale of the vcds/dvds. When the relevant permission has been granted by the Board, copies of the movies are taken to the market/cinemas. There’s also an Association of Marketers ably represented in Idumota, Iweka road Onitsha, Aba, Alaba. Promotion of movies are carried out, but on a low scale. The Internet, radio and TV shows, tours, adverts in newspapers and magazines have not been effectively used to promote movies, so you might want to look into these areas. “Nollywood: origin and unresolved problems”, one of my articles dealt with the matter

12) Sales Account
The final step is to have the account of market sales (after a certain period) carried out between the producer and the marketer (except the producer sells the movie rights, out rightly to the marketer who purchases all the copies replicated). The producer and the marketer share the proceeds from the sales based on the contractual agreement signed (bearing in mind that the financier must have returns on his investment as well). However, in most cases, the Marketers are the Financiers.

Yeah! that’s about it, and good luck to you as you commence the journey in to transforming those stories in to reality.

10 Stephen King Stories That You Didn’t Know Were Being Made Into Movies

There are several projects underway to adapt Stephen King stories for film or for television. We’ll cover recent news, touch on projects that may be slowing down, and throw in a few that may never make it out of “development hell.”

  1. Haven – Based on the novella The Colorado Kid, Haven is about a small Maine town that has long been a refuge for people with a wide range of supernatural abilities. This TV series premieres July 9, 2010 on the Syfy network.
  2. Bag of Bones – A novelist grieving over the death of his wife moves into their summer home and discovers it is haunted. In February 2010 Mick Garris (The Shining, The Stand, Desperation) said that this mini-series “will hopefully be shooting late-spring, early-summer.” An announcement is expected soon concerning which network will air the mini-series.
  3. Pet Sematary – When a family pet is buried in the local pet cemetery, it comes back to life. But, it comes back a little “different.” Screenwriter Matthew Greenberg (1408, Halloween H20) was recently hired to write the screenplay.
  4. Home Delivery – Aliens infect earthlings with a zombie plague. Residents of a small island off the coast of Maine prepare to defend themselves as dead friends and relatives start to rise. Twin brothers John and Paul Buckholts optioned the film rights and have adapted this zombie short story. Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura will take on the project.
  5. It – Seven children in a small Maine town are terrorized by a shape-shifter who takes the form of a clown. According to a Variety article in March of 2009, Warner Brothers is moving ahead with the new film. Kevin McDonald will direct from a screenplay being written by Dave Kajganich.
  6. Under the Dome - An entire small town in Maine is abruptly trapped under a giant, invisible dome. In November 2009 it was reported that Steven Spielberg will produce the film as a “series event” with a plan to shop it around to the TV networks.
  7. From a Buick 8 – A car stored in a shed at the state police barracks in Statler, Pennsylvania is actually a portal between dimensions. Last reports state that the screenplay was approved by Stephen King, and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot) has signed on to direct. Financing is currently at a standstill.
  8. The Talisman – Young Jack Sawyer lights out cross country to save his dying mother. During his quest, he flips back and forth between Earth and a parallel Earth called The Territories, where almost everyone has a “twinner”…except for Jack. Steven Speilberg was attached for several years to this project and planned to adapt it as a 6 hour mini-series. It is listed on Internet Movie Database as being in “pre-production” with a release date of 2012, but as far as we can tell this one is dead in the water. Again.
  9. The Dark Tower - Stephen King’s magnum opus about a gunslinger in another dimension, called Mid-World, who journeys toward a fabled tower said to be the nexus of all universes. J.J. Abrams was signed up to direct for a while, but turned the rights back over to King. In April 2010, it was reported that The Dark Tower may be adapted into a trilogy and a television series. Negotiations are ongoing at this point. Akiva Goldsman will write with Ron Howard producing and directing.
  10. Cell - A cellphone signal turns all who hear it into zombie-like killers. Eli Roth was originally attached to direct the movie, but apparently that plan has been dropped. The new plan is for a four hour mini series to be written by John Harrison (Dune miniseries).