Sunday, July 24, 2011

Comic-Con 2011 - Day Three

You're tired from lack of sleep.  You're sore from all the marching you've been doing.  You're low on supplies.  And they keep coming at you in wave after wave...  Thousands upon thousands of a faceless horde charging toward you bearing bloodied weapons, grabbing their booty and crying out in horrific, incoherent voices.  No...  This is not the last stand of Roman legion on the Germanic borders.  It's...
Saturday at Comic-Con.  
In recent years I've made a point of watching at least some of the entries at the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival.  The science fiction entries were on Saturday this year.  Unfortunately, that meant I was going to see very few of them this year.  In fact, I only saw one of the entries.  But the one I saw was definitely worth it.  
The Man Who Knew How to Fly is based on a short story by a Czechoslovakian writer from the 1930's named Karek Capek.  A bit of trivia for you...  Capek is responsible for coining the word, "robot."  He invented the word, from a slovak word, "robotnik," which meant a slave laborer, for a play he wrote back in the 20's called "R.U.R."  The Man Who Knew How to Fly is the story of a man who discovers he has the dream fulfilling ability to fly without mechanical assistance, and what happens to him, and that ability, once the "experts" and "authorities" discover this.  
I don't want to give away any details about the story and what happens.  The film, however is absolutely beautiful.  It is a touching story told in an inventive way.  The special effects were extremely well done and naturalistic looking.  More importantly, they were done in a way to serve the story and not to draw attention to themselves.  Robi Michael, who directed the film and also wrote the adaptation of Capek's work, did a truly masterful job.  This wasn't just the best film I've seen at the CCI-IFF thus far.  It was one of the best made films I can remember seeing in recent years...  Period.  
During the discussion about the film that followed its showing, Michael announced that they would be showing film in the Pasadena area sometime next week.  I'm going to find out when and post the information.  I recommend you go see it if you can.  
Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski - Going to the spotlight panel for J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the science fiction television show Babylon 5 and former writer of The Amazing Spiderman, defining that character in the same way Marv Wolfman defined Superman and Frank Miller defined Batman, has become something like a pilgrimage to Mecca for devout Muslims.  It's something I HAVE TO do, otherwise Comic-Con really won't be complete.  
"Joe," as he prefers to be called, was in typical form.  Amusing the audience with his mix of both self-deprecating humor and good natured ribbing at the audience.  The very first thing he did was display some "Joe, You Suck!" tee-shirts a fan had made after some of his jabs at himself.  
The meatiest thing I got from Joe this year was his take on rewriting process, how your first draft was basically crap and that it was through the revision process that you make it something worth the time someone else will take to read it.  Putting it succinctly, Joe said, "All you CAN say about something is in the first draft.  All you WANT to say about something is in your second draft.  All you HAVE TO say about something is in the final draft."  
Joe handed out some news about upcoming projects: 
The new version of Babylon 5 is on hold again.  Warner Brothers had some "new distribution system" they were going to use for the project which fell through.  No time frame as to when they might be able to proceed again.  
The script for World War Z is in the hands of the studio.  
He sold a treatment for a movie to Dreamworks about the real life friendship between Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  
The Twelve, his most recent comic book project, is completed.  It should be out by February.  
He's working on a new pilot for Will Smith's production studio called, "Epidemic," a C.S.I. style procedural based on the Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) in Atlanta.  
The best things that you get from a Straczynski spot-light is the encouragement you get to do what you want to do.  As a self-described "kid from the street," whose family moved 21 times in his first 18 years of life, he likes to depict himself as someone as far from being the type of person who should have succeeded as a writer as anyone you can think of.  And yet, here he is, standing before a room full of fans just like the fan he was sitting in similar convention halls when he was young.  
"Pay more attention to your failures," he said to everyone during the spotlight.  "They will teach you more than your successes."  "Stay true to your passions and fight for what you believe in."  
It's taking his words to heart that has given me those successes I've experienced this year.  


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