I know this is old news for most people by now, but since I was already behind on catching District 9 and 9, I’m gonna repeat it all anyway. (Plus I’m of the mindset that if something’s good, you should sing its praises!) The stories behind District/9 are pretty fantastic. They sound like aspiring auteurs’ dreams come true. Without knowing anything about these guys’ individual personalities, I just want to shake their hands and congratulate them on their fortunes.
Canadian-born Neill Blomkamp was originally slated to work on the ultimately doomed Halo. Even though they budgeted the production at $145 million, Halo was not to be. The project fell apart. Just in time, too. Blomkamp was feeling down over the shambles of Halo when Jackson’s partner, Fran Walsh, asked him why he wasn’t doing anything with sci-fi, “Something that represents [Blomkamp].” The comment hit home, and the idea to turn Blomkamp’s short, “Alive in Joburg” into a feature took off.
In 2005, Peter Jackson was looking for someone to direct an undetermined 20th Century Fox/Universal venture. Blomkamp’s six-minute social commentary on apartheid found its way to Jackson via production chief Mary Parent, and Jackson saw an original, thought-provoking filmmaker. I believe this is what corporate big wigs called “synergy.”
Blomkamp just sounds like an an earnest artist who doesn’t just complain, but actually devotes his life to his craft and turns an engaging mirror on the world. “When I was 14 or 15, I got into 3-D animation on the computer my parents bought me,” he told the LA Times. “I was toying with practical effects. Prosthetics and in-camera effects. Models and photography. I knew I wanted to be involved in all that.” There ain’t nothing wrong with someone who nerds out about something (If you’re not, why are you living?). Blomkamp seems like he pretty much should have been born on the Weta Workshop campus.
My quickie review: I thought it was thoroughly well done, and really enjoyed District 9. I do a pretty good job not researching movies before I see them, so I walked into District 9 with little previous background save for having seen promotional trailers at Comic-Con. There are just so many ways a fake documentary could go wrong (Do not watch Reel Zombies. DO NOT WATCH.), but nearly every aspect of District 9 had me convinced, intrigued, and impressed the entire time. If only all documentaries and investigative reporting were like that…
Also, every preview that played before District 9 (minus Zombieland, which looks like fun) made me think “Why would you make that film. WHY. YOU COULD FEED A COUNTRY WITH THAT BUDGET.” Shame on you, Hollywood.
When Midwest-born Shane Acker was doing his grad degree in Architecture at UCLA, he started taking animation classes on the side. His short went on to play at Sundance in 2005. And was nominated for an Oscar in 2006. Eventually 9 got the attention of Jim Lemley, who got Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov involved. Three years, $30 million, and a lot of advice later, 9 is now playing in mainstream theaters nationwide.
My quickie review: As much as I wanted to, I didn’t particularly like 9. The creature designs were really freaking cool. (If it wasn’t such an omen of destruction, I’d totally want a life-size model of that bird robot.) I thought the dialogue to be forced, though, and really would have preferred there to be no dialogue at all.
So I have plans for when this quarter-life crisis really gets the best of me. I’m going to storyboard something fierce. And then I’m going to upload a six-minute dealie on Youtube. To top it all off, I’m going to title it “Something Something NINE.” And that’s how Immah get me $30 mil in funding.