Welcome...

Adam_Reynolds_small I'm Adam Reynolds, a producer, writer, and surfer based in Los Angeles. I use this space to catalog my media consumption, post research and pay tribute to the people and events that inspire my career. I can also be found on Twitter, or for examples of my production work, visit here. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments. Thanks for visiting.

January 13, 2010

Watching...

I watched the following films during my holiday vacation in Baltimore.

War Child
War Child – Imagine being six years old and handed a loaded AK-47. You are then instructed to kill the very families who helped raise you.

War Child is a documentary about a former Sudanese war child and his escape to freedom. This film chronicles his journey from boy soldier to globally recognized musician – a lifestyle choice aimed to raise awareness for change. More specifically, advocating for education.



Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde – Bonnie and Clyde is an American classic; a timeless tale of a predominantly asexual criminal relationship. The plot is far from groundbreaking, but the dynamic of personalities makes this film. Consider it the Raging Bull of the western genre.



Avatar
Avatar – Avatar is, without a doubt, the Star Wars of today’s generation. It is visually stunning, technologically groundbreaking, and yet strikingly cliché. The epic plot is a composite of countless films, spanning many generations and many genres. And despite being absurdly predictable the audience remains actively engaged for duration of the film. We have James Cameron’s commitment to perfection to thank for this.

November 22, 2009

Watching...

Bride Wars Bride Wars.

(Yeah, I watched it. So what.)

Before I begin, let me say the following: It was not my intention to watch Bride Wars. I don't consider it to be a good movie. But I watched it anyway. Why?

Because I believe it worked successfully as a movie . What do I mean
by "worked successfully"? Well, look at the numbers. There's a reason why it grossed over $115 million worldwide and it only cost $30 million to produce. I explain below with my top three reasons of "Why this film works."

1) Clear Title: Bride Wars. By reading the title we know what the entire movie is about. We don't know why the brides battle, but we know they battle and w
e're immediately enticed to find out. Not to mention, the word "Bride" generally attracts the female demographic, while "War" attracts the male demographic.

"Ok, you have my attention..."

2) Wedding Theme: Again, the definitive title is also suggestive of the theme - weddings. People are always getting married, which means that a very large cons
umer demographic can relate (in one way or another) to the notion of a wedding. Don't believe me? Think about the success of these films: My Best Friend's Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or even Wedding Crashers. Weddings are popular. Weddings attract an audience. And people will always pay to watch stories about weddings.

Now that the title has hooked us, what keeps us watching?

3) Structure: The story, though predictable, follows a structure wel
l suited for the story, as two, life-long best friends are pitted against one another on their shared wedding days.

The structure (as diagrammed below) demonstrates how these two best friends (A and B) actually grow closer as they progress through their individual Bride War experiences.

Act 1 defines the pre-existing relationship. Life is perfect. However, this movie isn't worth watching unless we have a conflict, which is what the vertical line symbolizes. The perfect-world fantasy is over - both parties have hit a brick wall and will venture in separate directions.

Act 2 explores the "War." What will these characters do to get a leg up over the competition? As the conflict escalates the plot thickens. Stakes are raised and vicious truths are revealed. A simple question is asked, "Would my best friend really do this to me?"

Act 3 finds resolution. They've been best friends and they're meant to remain best friends. Once they set their differences aside they'll find themselves closer than they were before. Resolution.

Combine these three examples of "Why this film works" with the star power of Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, and Candace Bergen and you have a basic recipe for success (relatively speaking). But this is only a small portion of making movies. There are still countless variables (writing, directing, production value) that require professional attention in order to help contribute to this films' success.

As I said, these are my top three arguments for how and why this film worked. I liked the simple structure, but I wasn't keen on the story.



Author's Note:

If you're interested in screen writing - watch movies. The more movies you watch, the more you'll understand story structure. You'll come to understand the structures you like and the structures you don't like. As your taste for movies becomes more distinguished, write (authentically) to match your structure.

November 4, 2009

Watching...

Volver Volver.

Beautiful colors, unique perspectives (both in terms of camera angles and storytelling), but I felt the story was lacking. The director,
Pedro Almodóvar, did however paint Penelope Cruz in stunningly beautiful light - accentuating her natural, voluptuous body, and thick Spanish accent. A film worth watching for an appreciation of foreign.


I Am Trying to Break Your Heart I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.

Don't hate me for what I'm about to say, but...I didn't like this film. No fault to Wilco, but rather the director, Sam Jones.

Now, I'm no documentary expert, but this "documentary" felt staged and arrogant. I appreciate Wilco's music, not all of it, but most of it. I can sympathize with Jeff Tweedy's character and the struggle of recording an album, but the intentions of the film felt disingenuous and aimless, which unfortunately leaves a bitter taste in my mouth towards Wilco.

However, what bugs me the most is the following:
What I blieve to be the meat of the story isn't stated until 50 minutes into the film. David Frickle, senior editor for Rolling Stone, comments, "We live in a culture in which we expect everything to happen [snaps fingers] like that." He makes a very a simple, yet accurate statement. And when placed in the context of this film, he's making an incredibly large statement. Up to this point in the film, we've seen how much time is invested in producing/recording/creating an album, but that's only one half of the album experience. The other half is the listening experience - and some albums require more time for listening than others. In this case, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.

Frickle is suggesting that a vast majority of our culture is conditioned to respond with an immediate like, or dislike reaction. And just as a fine wine ripens with time, so too can an album. Unfortunately,
not everyone is willing to invest the time for an album to ripen, which is what can hurt album sales - and record label executives understand that. It's part of their job shape a creative vision for public consumption. So, when an artist creates a product that isn't readily accessible, executives begin to worry. The artist's product can be genius, but if it can't be marketed, it won't sell. And if it doesn't sell, then that genius is lost.

For me, this conflict should be the meat of the film. How do cultural expectations define an artist's final product? As an artist, when do you fight for what you believe and when do you surrender? These are questions I want to see explored. They should be at the forefront of the film, not a mere after thought.

How would I have made the film differently?
Similar to writing a college essay, I would have clearly defined my thesis at the top of the film - My audience now understands why they're watching (aside from just being about Wilco). The body of the film would explore my questions in greater detail - connecting Wilco's unique situation with traditional record label practice. The conclusion would summize my findings. Something along the lines of, "This is how the business works, this is what Wilco accomplished, and this is how they were able to defy the business model and achieve what they did."

But, I didn't make the film. Sam Jones did. And I respect him for doing it. However, I believe he fell short of the potential in the story.



September 1, 2009

Watching...

Pan's Labyrinth Pan's Labyrinth.

The first time I saw Pan's Labyrinth was in the theater, the summer I moved to California. The story struck closer to home than I expected - I was fresh off my senior thesis film, And Also The Kings Fall, a story conceptualized and written by a close friend during her semester in Spain. The premise, a young girl explores the epic stories of her dying grandfather's past. A journey that will be sure to leave viewers feeling remorse towards opportunity wasted. Lessons will be learned though; life is precious and shouldn't be wasted, for even the greatest will eventually fall.

Pan's Labyrinth, to me, was a more elaborate senior thesis production with similar values. It expressed tales of life, death, good vs. evil, and all that falls in between. The film is the embodiment of a child's imagination, a fairytale in world stricken with grief. It paints the message that it's OK to dream, in fact, it's encouraged.

Beyond finally writing the review for Pan's Labyrinth, tonight represents another first. Tonight, five years after it's completion, I watched And Also The Kings Fall for the first time. Yes, I watched rough cuts during my time at Syracuse. I even attended the final screening for the senior class. However, our film was incomplete. Color was off, sound wasn't in sync, and picture wasn't locked. I was a complete and utter wreck. Friends have heard the stories, some even witnessed my unraveling first hand, but no one can truly understand the pain in which this film caused me. It might sound crazy, but the experience of being in production for this film took me to a mysterious place where heaven and hell collide head on. A mysterious place that I've only heard about from other filmmakers. A mysterious place that drove me to a nervous breakdown, yet a place where my heart secretly aches to return.

My experience with angst, turmoil, and tears during the production of And Also The Kings Fall is what I believe true filmmaking is all about. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I wish to return.

* I encourage each of you to watch the full film. YouTube lists the movie in 7 parts with a run time of approximately 65 minutes. It's long, but worth the journey.

Lastly, I'd like to thank Taryn Gould for the opportunity to experience. Taryn, I'm sorry it's taken me five years to watch the completed film - As I'm sure you can understand, I wasn't emotionally strong enough to revisit. Now that I have though, I wish I could relive the days. Thank you.

July 21, 2009

BHB in the Media

I recently had the privilege of skateboarding with Mark Lukach and his brother, Matt, as they passed through Los Angeles for Skating Across America. The project, which profiles a wide variety skateboarders from across the country, was created by Mark and his wife Giulia, to coincide with their cross country road-trip from San Francisco to Delaware and back again.

During their LA visit, Mark, Matt and I skated The Bat Cave, a secret drainage ditch located at the base of the Hollywood Hills. It was the first time any of us had skated this spot. Be sure to check out the full post on Mark's website, but in the meantime the video embed is below:

Skating Across America - Skater Profile on Adam Reynolds from Mark Lukach on Vimeo.



July 17, 2009

July 14, 2009

Johnny Cash God's Gonna Cut You Down

I'd like to thank my buddy Sean Flannery for sharing this video with me. Fantastic video.

July 11, 2009

Watching...

Yeah, yeah...I've been slacking. If it's any consolation though, I've been reading more. Not just books, but also scripts, television treatments, and college course readers on documentary filmmaking. Truth is, the TV development world has been wearing me thin, even leaving me down at times. But we, as a team, push forward. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

I've been fortunate enough to be studying under the tutelage of an incredibly well-versed team of professionals from USC's prestigious Annenberg School for Communication. Though the documentary world is a vast departure from my undergrad film studies at Syracuse University, the first-hand, educational experience has been unmatched. The work environment is straight forward and very hands on. The best part, I'm learning how to tell stories.

That being said, let me segue into my movie consumption. Here are two of the three films I watched during the month of July. I decided to take a new approach when writing about each film. Rather than limit myself to writing reviews, I've decided to incorporate personal history into the equation. A sign of my investment in this business. Enjoy!

The Sting The Sting. A classic. Plain and simple. My Dad bought this movie as a Christmas present for my brother and I a few years back. He insisted it was another film for the Boardhead Brothers 'must see' collection. Truthfully, my brother and I scoffed at the notion. "This old film?" we thought. What we didn't realize was that a good story, no matter the year published (or produced), can withstand the scrutiny of time.

Now, as I revisit The Sting (for the first time in many years) I understand why my Dad insisted we add it to our collection. I can honestly say that, A) I was an asshole for not trusting my Dad and, B) this movie is now one of my all-time favorite movies. Why? Because it's got a kick ass story!


Next is...

Garbage Warrior Garbage Warrior. I watched this documentary as research for a project we were developing at work. Unfortunately for us, another production company was quicker than we were and was already in the process of turning Michael Reynolds and his work as a Biotecture Engineer into a TV series. Though a difficult truth, it's often the reality of how the television business works. Take it with a grain of salt and move forward.

Business aside though, Garbage Warrior explores the bizarre story of Michael Reynolds - a renegade architect - who turns automobile tires, soda cans, and beer bottles into fully-sustainable, off-the-grid housing. Earthships, as these unique homes are called, are capable of maintaining consistent internal temperatures (roughly 70-75 degrees) despite the vast temperature fluctuation of New Mexico's seasons. In the words of Dan Birman, "Way Cool!"

More information on Michael Reynolds and his Earthship society can be found here.

June 30, 2009

From Whoopee Cushions to Electronic Fart Machines: Why "The Hangover" Rocked!

The Hangover [Theatrical Release] by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Very rarely does a comedy have the ability to establish and sustain a consistent caliber of audience laughter for the duration of a film. Typically, these types of films come with high expectations, but are often fluffed with the magic, “Air of Potential.” Shortly after the head hits the pillow and dreams are condensed into reality, our minds wonder, 'What the fuck was that?'

The jokes are exhausted, the writing is lacking, or quite simply, the moral of the story is getting in the way of the comedy! Regardless, the funny is lost and audience expectations are deflated. For lack of a better term, let's call these films 'Whoopee Cushions.'

The Hangover, on the other hand, was far from a Whoopee Cushion. It was the Hansen 222 of electronic fart machines. In other words, the Grey Goose of the vodkas. The fart-kit came with a stealth black speaker (hide-able anywhere) and a WAY COOL remote control to ensure that a good fart-joke opportunity was never missed. Now anyone could, “Fire farts from afar!,” which is exactly what kids did. They took full advantage. They were always on the prowl to make at least one person laugh. The same concept holds true with The Hangover. The film was consistently funny. Every scene had at least one laugh. It might not have been the best laugh, but it was still a laugh. By the end of the film, I found myself, as well as the audience, laughing as hard, if not harder, at every joke than we were at the beginning of the movie. How often does that happen?

Beyond the laughs though, The Hangover exemplified fresh story telling through subtly employed techniques of film-trickery and through the palpable abundance of, “Attention to Detail”; a tone, which accurately depicts the secret to unlocking the ‘code’ of the story. But, what are you waiting on me for?

GO SEE THE MOVIE!!

You’ll LOVE it! Well, maybe not ‘LOVE it,’ but you’re guaranteed to laugh! If not, I’ll happily refund the expense of your ticket.

Enjoy!

Adam

May 18, 2009

"Teach Me" - Surf Remix

After a disappointing first attempt with the GoPro Surf Hero a few weeks back, I decided to go for round two this past Saturday in Manhattan Beach, CA. Ensuring that I was equipped with the right batteries this time (Lithium AAA), I called up my buddy Scott and we took to the water.

After nearly 2 hours of surfing, I couldn't wait to get home and look at the footage. Once I did, I was stoked!! So, I took the liberty of editing the material into a music video for my friend Match Zimmerman's song "Teach Me" - or perhaps I should say, Match was kind enough to lend his music to the project. Either way, I feel the audio & video compliment one another incredibly well. So, without further ado, I present to you...

"Teach Me" - Surf Remix

Enjoy!

Match Zimmerman "Teach Me"
www.matchzimmerman.com

Directed by Adam Reynolds
Produced by Boardhead Brothers
www.boardheadbrothers.com


As a special bonus, "Teach Me" is available for download (for free) by clicking here. Compliments of Match Zimmerman.

May 14, 2009

Revisiting Bright Eyes

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn by Bright Eyes

Disguised behind catchy digital beats are spoken words of angst and self-struggle. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is a vast departure from the traditional Bright Eyes melodramatic, country-twang albums we've come to know and love. Despite this departure though, Conor Oberst has remained consistent with the delivery of poetically crafted lyrical versus, not only reflecting his personal battles against inner demons and public misconceptions, but also his determination for self-reconciliation. Just as the album title suggests, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn represents a darker truth masked by the façade of new-age positivity and persistence. Oberst writes,

There is no right way or wrong way, you just have to live
And so I do what I do, and at least I exist
What could mean more than this?*

His words lend a simple truth to those who choose to listen, a truth, which suggests an appreciation for life.




* Lyrics from Bright Eyes - “Hit the Switch”

May 12, 2009

Surfing in HD Slow Motion

Compliments of BBC.

May 11, 2009

Dirty Laundry - A Short Film by Andrew Reynolds

Congrats to my brother, Andrew Reynolds for completing his student film!

Andrew is a sophomore filmmaker at Temple University in Philadelphia. "Dirty Laundry" was filmed as an extension for an original assignment, a 16 mm silent film, which was also entitled "Dirty Laundry."

Andrew's words: "My final film for Filmmaking. Shot on Bolex Rx5 with Black and White reversal 7266 Tri-x and 7265 Plus-X. All foley sound recorded with Marrantz solid-state recorder ME-80 shot-gun microphone. Thanks to everyone who helped out."



Below is the original assignment:

Andrew's words: "A 16mm Silent film, interior lighting project, foley sound to come."

Despite my family bias, I firmly believe that Andrew's progression as a young filmmaker is clearly evident - as exemplified by these two pieces of work, a before and after, if you will. In his later work, Andrew employs advanced visual and auditory techniques, which demonstrate an acute understanding of the process through which a filmmaker successfully creates the illusion of story through the medium of film.

Looking forward to seeing and sharing more of Andrew's work as he progresses.

May 5, 2009

Watching...

The Big Lebowski The Big Lebowski.

I revisited The Big Lebowski this weekend for the um-teenth time, once again, confirming it as my all time favorite movie. The cast is incredible, the plot is ridiculous, and the subtleties are hilarious. The Coen brothers rock!

May 2, 2009

Words I Like.

"being beyond what is normal or expected" - say's your grandmother.

- Uncanny

At a the Mayor's Ball, an intoxicated woman clammers to a sobered couple, "Let's just say he's, 'Wise in practical affairs'" - To which her husband promptly replies, "We should get going."

- Sly

Mark was constantly being laughed at, as his boss insisted that he take time each day to utter successive chirping noises in attempt to ward off the pigeons.

- Twitter