Movie Fact #333 – November 30th, 2013:

The 2004 film “Collateral” was a film that had to be fought for to be made. Australian writer Stuart Beattie, at the age of 17, took a cab home from Sydney airport and it was there that he had the idea of a homicidal maniac sitting in the back of a cab with the driver nonchalantly conversing with him, trusting his passenger implicitly. Beattie drafted his idea into a two-page treatment entitled “The Last Domino” with him later writing the screenplay. The original story was very different from the final story, centering around an African-American female cop who witnesses a hit, and the romance between the cab driver and his then librarian girlfriend. Obviously the film ended up very differently from the original treatment. It was due to chance and an old acquaintance that this story finally got rolling.

Beattie was waiting tables when he ran into friend Julie Richardson. Richardson was someone Beattie had met on a UCLA Screenwriting Extension course. Richardson by that point had become a producer and was searching for projects for Edge City. Edge City is the production company of Frank Darabont, Rob Fried and Chuck Russell that was created to make low-budget genre movies for HBO. Beattie later pitched her his idea of “The Last Domino” who then pitched the idea to Frank Darabont. Darabont brought the team in for a meeting, including Beattie, and set up the project under Edge City. Sadly, after two drafts, HBO passed on the project but at a general meeting at DreamWorks, with executive Marc Haimes, Beattie mentioned the script. Marc Haimes immediately contacted Richardson, read the script overnight, and DreamWorks put in an offer the following day but it didn’t start right away.

“Collateral” sat on DreamWorks’ development books for three years with Mimi Leder initially attached to direct and then Janusz Kamiński took over. It wasn’t until actor Russell Crowe became interested in playing the lead character Vincent (Played by Tom Cruise) that the project started generating any heat. Crowe brought Michael Mann on board, but the constant delays meant that Crowe had to leave the project. Mann then immediately went to Tom Cruise with the idea of him playing the hitman and Adam Sandler as the cabbie. However, Beattie wanted the studio to cast Robert De Niro as Max, De Niro once again playing a taxi driver, though the exact opposite of Travis Bickle, the character he played in 1976’s “Taxi Driver”. The studio refused, insisting they wanted a younger actor in the role which is what led to Jamie Foxx eventually being cast.

It took years but eventually the film came out in 2004 and Foxx even went on to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. It takes effort, but Beattie showed that enough of that effort can make anything possible.

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 9:45 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #333 – November 30th, 2013:

“I know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong.”

– Emile Hirsch, “Into the Wild”

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 9:25 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #332 – November 29th, 2013:

Some people are multi-talented and end up helping on a film in many ways. An example is actor David Holmes who recently produced and co-wrote the soundtrack score for the film “Good Vibrations” that came out this year in 2013. No one ever said you couldn’t multi-task successfully in film.

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 12:08 AM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #332 – November 29th, 2013:

“Victory doesn’t always look the way other people imagine it.”

– Karl Johnson, “Good Vibrations”

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #331 – November 28th, 2013:

“All the President’s Men” was crafted in 1976, based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, and follows two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post. It was a film that also introduced the catchphrase “Follow the money” into pop culture which wasn’t in the book from which the movie was based on. Sometimes it’s okay not to do it by the book.

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #331 – November 28th, 2013:

“Notoriety never seems to benefit the noted, only the notees.”

– Penn Badgley, “Easy A”

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 11:14 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #330 – November 27th, 2013:

Some movies are a risk to make because of scenes or the content of the film possibly running in opposition to something in the real world. Take the 1987 film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where no transportation company wanted to appear inept or deficient in any way, so the film crews had to rent twenty miles (32 km) of railway trackage and refurbish old railway cars, construct a set that looked like an airline terminal, design a rental car company logo and uniforms, and rent 250 cars for the car rental scene. In fact, the interior of the Wichita airport scene was filmed on a studio lot in Los Angeles and was the final scene using extras on the shoot. It didn’t stop there though.

Director John Hughes had originally selected Kankakee, Illinois, which is 60 miles south of Chicago, for its train station for several scenes, but a lack of snow prevented the filming from occurring. In fact, the winter weather was so warm that film crews were unable to utilize snowmaking equipment even so while actors and crews waited for colder weather, several interior scenes were shot in a deserted warehouse in Kankakee using what are called “cover sets”. Ultimately, the crew opted for Buffalo, New York for snow scenes. Although, local officials in Kankakee that were working with producers worked feverishly to keep the crew in town in the hopes of the arrival of colder weather.

The hotel scene in which Del Griffith (Played by John Candy) and Neal Page (Played by Steve Martin) share a hotel bed was shot during this waiting period at a hotel in nearby Braidwood, Illinois, thanks to the efforts of the local Convention and visitor bureau. The hotel which Martin and Candy stayed in when they drove the rental car into the building, was filmed in Gurnee, Illinois at the El Rancho Motel located on US 41, which has now been converted into studio apartments.

The locations used in a film really help sell the realism of the environment in the film. When you do it right, you send the audience on an engrossing tale that you feel is in a real place. The environment is just as important when bringing people into a story. It’s the background to the foreground that is the characters. Both are essential to make a film great.

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #330 – November 27th, 2013:

“Anger fades and is replaced by regret.”

– Simon Russell Beale, “The Deep Blue Sea”

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 11:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #329 – November 26th, 2013:

Some people do noticeable things to get roles in films, maybe to prove something to themselves but, more often, to the people who can cast them. In the 1985 film, “Out of Africa”,  Meryl Streep landed the lead role of Karen Blizen by showing up for her meeting with the director, Sydney Pollack, wearing a low-cut blouse and a push-up bra, as Pollack had originally thought the actress did not have enough sex appeal for the role. I suppose she showed him otherwise as she went on to take the role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress which means she gave both a physically and emotionally strong role just showing that she gave more than the physical aspect which explains why she is considered one of the greatest actresses ever.

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 11:39 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #329 – November 26th, 2013:

“Why do I, and everyone I love, pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?”

– Emma Watson, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 11:33 PM  Leave a Comment