Last April (time flies in Los Angeles, without seasons I can't keep track of when things happened!) I was asked to do a screenwriting workshop with high students from various high schools near the Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine, at Bates College (they even provided my plane ticket!).
It was truly a pleasure to share my passion for screenwriting with students who have just as much passion. They were insightful, engaged, immensely creative and supportive of each other. Don't worry about the future; the kids are gonna be alright.
I remember seeing the original Disney animated Beauty and the Beast as a kid, but I can’t say it was my favorite. I was more into Batman and Jurassic Park. My sister and I didn’t recite lines from it the way we did with Aladdin, but we knew all the songs, and even performed a stage version for one of our dance recitals.
On a whim one afternoon I went and saw this new Beauty and the Beast in the theater and I was surprised by how entranced I became. It was magical. People in the theater cried. Full of heart, gorgeous visuals, and a celebration of the original, Beauty and the Beast represents all the best reasons we love going to the movies. I’ve now seen it four times, along with thousands of other theater-goers, helping to make it The Highest Grossing PG Film Ever in the U.S.
Did this “tale as old as time” speak to you? Here are 7 ways Beauty and the Beast tugs at our heartstrings.
1. It was filmed to closely match the original
Experiencing deja vu? I was delighted to find the film didn’t stray far from the original animated version. The pacing, visuals and songs were nearly identical. Even though I hadn’t seen the original in more than a decade, it was like visiting an old friend and slipping into a familiar space. In fact, the trailer is a shot-by-shot remake.
Watch this side-by-side comparison:
2. Emma Watson as Belle.
Belle isn’t a princess, as she makes note in the movie. She’s the nerdy, book-worm in a town too small for an ambitious young woman of the world. A feminist of her time, Belle is played by self-proclaimed feminist Emma Watson, who has spoken on issues of feminism for the UN and elsewhere, even winning the first “genderless” acting award at the MTV Movie Awards.
3. The Visuals
Director of Photography, Tobias Schliessler, filmed on extensive practical sets built on soundstages in and around London, England. Even Belle and her father’s fictional town of Villeneuve, built on Shepperton’s largest set, is based on the real village of Conques in southern France.
The costumes, hair and makeup and set design were inspired by the original movie and by 18th century France. I noticed they used gold hues throughout the film; the gold on the ceiling that becomes a part of Belle’s classic yellow ballroom gown and to match Lumiere and Cogsworth’s metallic bodies. And who doesn’t love seeing the real life glowing rose in a svaroski crystal case?
4. John Legend and Ariana Grande
John Legend and Ariana Grande (known for her impressions of Celine Dion), tackle the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ song, originally performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. With 82 million views, it’s become a hit within its own right. You can view the new version and the original below.
5. Dan Stevens as the Beast
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Downton Abbey, stop reading now.
When our most beloved Downton Abbey gentleman, Matthew Crawley, died in a car crash (as a way to end his contract), leaving Lady Mary without her soulmate, we were crushed. How would we go on? Seeing Dan Stevens reach new success as the Beast almost makes up for Matthew Crawley’s death. Almost.
Apparently, I wasn’t paying attention the first time I saw the film, because I didn’t recognize him at all!
7. The Supporting Cast
What do Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Professor Sybil Trelawney all have in common? “They can sing, they can dance, after all miss, this is France!”
Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci play castle servants who become household objects after a curse is placed upon them. Hearing these recognizable voices adds to their roles. Seeing them in human form again at the end, in a hilarious but sentimental conclusion, will make even the coldest of hearts warm. Need a tissue? I think we all have a little something in our eyes.
The Poet has won the Audience Award for Best Horror Short at the SENE Film Festival in Providence, RI! Thank you audience!
The Poet is an official selection at SENE in Providence, Rhode Island Friday, April 28th. More details as they come!
The Poet (director's cut) won Best Narrative Short Film at the Noosa International Film Fest in Queensland, Australia! It was a wonderful surprise! The people at Noosa have been so gracious and kind to us. Unfortunately we couldn't attend, but I sent them an acceptance video and they sent me the award--and a fancy scarf just like Drake the vampire would wear! Thank you, Noosa!
Today marks 7 weeks since I moved to LA! It's been a whirlwind. I have no sense of time. The seasons don't change so I feel like I'm in perpetual summer (not my favorite season).
I took a train across the country from Maine! I've road-tripped across the country several times and flown, but never gone by train! I made a short 3 minute video about my trip, filmed on my phone, nothing fancy. I highly recommend taking the train, at least once. It's a great way to see back country areas away from highways. I got a sleeper and was very comfortable--and it only takes 3 days!
I've been to LA before, but it had been a while and I didn't get to see everything. I've been trying to see as many things as I can. Here's an assortment of the sights.
May has been an incredible month. I am so honored to have been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards for my short script "Motherbird" and to have received Honorable Mention as Best Maine Filmmaker in the Portland Phoenix Best Of Awards. Thank you to everyone who voted and to the MWPA for considering my script. I am truly grateful for every moment. Beyond words.
The Poet was an Official Selection at the Emerge Film Festival! It was great to be back to such an amazing fest. The Poet screened with our friends who made "Suffer the Little Children" the Stephen King adaptation (Bonfire Films) and "Selfie" by Ryan Wilson. I got to show the director's cut to a full house!
The after-party was held at the gorgeous Agora Grand. And they had a photo booth, which proved dangerous for our group.
I also had the opportunity to speak with students at Poland High School about film and the Emerge Film Fest and showed clips from Arabel and The Poet. They were great and it was a pleasure to meet their teacher Dawnie Hodgkins. (I loved the green screen and started to add the death star from The Empire Strikes Back into the background but haven't finished yet...).
Wow, it's been about 7 months since I wrote a blog, even though I've been updating my website in other ways. That's because I've been busy! Here's a rundown:
A few weeks ago I returned to the College of the Atlantic, where I went for my undergrad and spoke to the film/video students there. They were an awesome bunch of people and I'd love to go back to talk more. Nancy Andrews, who teaches them, recently made a feature film called The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes, an experimental, musical, sci-fi film.
This past fall, I was Assistant Director and Producer on Tadin Brown's film Wayward Roads. Tadin was gaffer and editor on The Poet and his short film is really touching, dramatic and beautiful. Here's a short article about it and a few photos.
Scenes of Addiction: Local filmmaker capturing the harrowing costs of the heroin epidemic
Right before I started on Tadin's film, we had our premiere of The Poet at Damnationland! 800 people came to the State Theater in Portland and then it screened in theaters around Maine. All the filmmakers agreed to dress up fancy, a nice contrast to when I am directing and wear the same dirty clothes for a week and never brush my hair. I'm so grateful for all the support. The Poet is a very special film for all of us who worked on it.
A few weeks earlier, I was interviewed for the show 207 with Damnationland producer Charlotte Warren. You can check out that interview here.
Stretching back to this summer, a group of us lady filmmakers joined together for an all female 48 Hour Film Project team. None of us had ever worked on an entirely female crew before and a lot of us didn't know each other. We got a little write-up about it here. Charlotte Warren was our fearless director and I was writer. Here's the group of us after a sleepless night and full day of shooting.
And hey look, we won Best Graphics, Best New Filmmaker (Charlotte), and Runner Up for Audience Favorite!
So, it's been a busy time, to say the least! Arabel was also an Official Selection at The Harrisburg-Hershey Film Fest. I am hoping to write some more blogs about some of the fantastic movies and TV shows I've seen. Stay tuned!
Arabel was shown as part of the Maine Shorts Program at the Maine International Film Festival this week. Actress Erika J. Wilson represented the film to the sold out crowd of 150! Thanks MIFF!
News from the Captain's Quarters.