Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not just another "Pride and Prejudice"...

Get ready for the must-see movie of 2012.

Phantom Films (formerly Arivia Productions, creators of The Silver Chair) an independent movie company in Grants Pass, Oregon are currently working on their next full-length feature film based of Jane Austen's classic masterpiece called First Impressions, set to release next spring!
Phantom Films was founded this year of 2011, consisting of a crew mostly made up of teens and young adults. The 2011 team for First Impressions is as listed:

Tianna Strom (19) | Producer
Andrew Eddy (20) | Director
Ariel Strom (18) | Screenwriter and Composer
Joshua Eddy (18) | Photography and Public Relations

The Synopsis: 
Audrey Kinslett lives in Grants Pass with her nonchalant father, fussy mother, and four sisters. She has a pretty normal life until she begins reading a book called Pride and Prejudice. Little does she know that her life is going to have a very similar twist to the book.
As the film takes off, our protagonist meets the extremely friendly Brandon Hester, who is attracted to Audrey's older sister, Mae. She also meets Daryl Burke, who is so rude and arrogant that Audrey wishes he'd disappear off the face of the earth - or at least from her life.
As she works at the Pharmacy, plays Ultimate Frisbee, and goes to barn dances, she meets more people, such as the pompous and ridiculous Cornelius Jones, and learns tragic secrets from her old friend Skandar Lakes, all the while trying to avoid Daryl, who always seems to be wherever she is.
Weaved in between these modern scenarios are scenes from Pride and Prejudice, basically Audrey's imagination as she reads the book.

When several unexpected events occur, Audrey realizes that not everything is as it seems- but by then it's too late. Everything has turned upside down. She will never judge by her first impressions again.

Here's the big news story. If you have a Daily Courier account, you can read it here.
(Click to view larger)

Filming for First Impressions will be greenlit by next week. You can follow the film at You can also visit their website at where you can learn about the cast and crew, check out the cast photoshoot, and more. If your interested in contributing to this spectacular motion picture, out can donate from their kickstarter page. Any questions can be answered at

I'm REALLY excited about this movie. In a BOLD ITALICS UNDERLINE CAPS LOCK sort of way. And I'm even more excited that I got to be hire as graphics designer!!! Thank you, Tianna!! (yes, I got to design the logo up there :D)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Essence of Snowtop Studios

We're considering changing our headquarters. What do you think?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Movie review: Cars 2

If you know anything about me or read this blog at all, you know I'm a fan of Pixar. Any post on filmmaking or storytelling or pretty much anything is often tied back to Pixar movies, because I find so much depth and heart in their films. I have loved every single Pixar movie out there, any of my friends can tell you that I rarely go to the theater for any other reason than to see the latest Pixar blockbuster. Just go read some posts like Bubble Wrap or The Color Conspiracy to see what I'm talking about.

But the Cars sequel directly contradicts Pixar's storytelling standard.

Pixar only makes a movie when the find a good story and want to tell it, and they only make sequels when they find there is more story to tell beyond a single feature. Cars 2 filled neither of this criteria. Cars only called for a sequel for one reason: marketing. The original Cars had made approximately 5 billion dollars in toys. I can prove this with my brother's extensive collection of Cars toys piled in the playroom. It started out with Lightning McQueen, but branched out into the most obscure characters that virtually every single character in the film has been made into a toy.

Cars 2 was only made to make more money, not to tell a good story. They forced a story together that wasn't asking to be told, that didn't naturally flow along with the original. Cars 2 didn't feel like a feature film, it felt like a really long short film.

I got nervous when I saw the trailers. Cars 2 is a spy movie? Set against the backdrop of the World Grand Prix? Non-stop action, explosions, and goofy lines from Mater encompassed the entire marketing campaign. I kept on telling myself, Pixar has never let us down. Why should they now? Nevertheless, I went into the theater with low expectations.

I have to say, with my expectations set so low, I wasn't disappointed. Actually, I sort of enjoyed it. The action was exciting, I laughed out loud several times, and the whole film was quite entertaining. But it didn't get any farther than entertaining. The theme of friendship was weak and poorly executed, and the plot was thin, relying on action and gags to keep the audience entertained. It was the last movie you'd expect to see from the world's #1 animation studio.

I think my main problem with the movie is that it's almost the opposite of its predecessor. The whole point of Cars was switching out of the fast lane and enjoying life. Cars 2 was all about racing through life as fast as possible and blowing stuff up. Okay, it didn't explicitly say that, but that was the message it brought across. The whole Radiator Springs gang was reduced to cameos, and Doc Hudson's role was cut out completely due to the death of Paul Newman.

This is one of the many reasons a sequel to Cars should not have been made.

His absence was explained in a 10-second long scene with Lightning and Mater admiring his Piston Cups and saying "Doc would've been proud." McQueen adds "You know, Doc said it's just an empty cup, but hey, it is pretty cool." This also contradicts the lesson Lightning learned in the original film, that trophies aren't what racing is about. But hey, it's cool!

The second big problem was the star: Tow Mater. Nearly all movie franchises focuses on one main character and continues to expand on that character in the sequels. For instance, Woody's character arc is continually expanded and developed as the trilogy progresses. But for Cars, the ending was nearly perfect. McQueen's character arc was so complete, and there wasn't much room for expansion. So they had to switch to the co-star, Mater, and expand on him. Unfortunately, Mater's absent-mindedness and dumb humor quickly gets old. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with Mater, in some ways he's more likable then Lightning. But Lightning is the backbone of the story. Without him, the story just doesn't work. The fact that McQueen's character arc was concluded in the first film was yet another reason that the sequel for Cars was uncalled for.

So as quickly as the filmmakers can manage, Lightning McQueen is bustled out of Radiator Springs to race in the World Grand Prix. At the same time of group of cars are brewing a conspiracy to take over the world, and Mater is mistaken for the spy and has to save Lightning McQueen from being blown up by the evil Professor Z. The filmmakers really push the limits with the cars world as the anthropomorphize planes, boats, and trains. Bringing cars to life worked, but I just didn't buy the boats.

The new characters in the movie are, I must say, quite interesting. The British spy car Finn McMissile has a seemingly endless supply of super cool gadgets and mad karate skills, and you never know what he's going to do next. Lightning's rival Francesco Bernoulli is absolutely hilarious and steals the show in any scene he's in, and he has some of the best lines in the whole movie ("Ah, Francesco is familiar with this...reaction to Francesco.")

The whole movie was full of Pixar cliches (yes, the cliches were all unique to Pixar) especially the ending, and by that time I was just waiting for it be over. I didn't hate the film, but I didn't walk out of the theater with the same sort of awe I have with past Pixar movies. It just was mediocre.

I'm pretty much on par with the Rotten Tomatoes consensus: Cars 2 is as visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but all that dazzle can't disguise the rusty storytelling under the hood.

Cars 2 wasn't a bad story, but it was unrefined. If John Lasseter had an extra year to knock out the bugs, it may have been a better film.

John Lasseter has been my inspiration for years--in fact, he was the inspiration for creating Snowtop Studios. But for Cars 2, he's apparently so in love with the idea of a spy movie with talking cars that he is blinded that his story falls short of the standard he is responsible for setting.

I won't say it isn't worth your time. Go and see for yourself and tell me what you think in the comments!