Monday, January 28, 2002

The Ten Best Films of 2001 I Saw in General Release

Submitted by Mark R. Leeper

Every year I dread making out my list of the top ten films of the previous year. It seems like it should be an easy matter to choose since I rate most of the films I see. Except for ratings ties for the last few places, the ratings should actually choose most of the films. The truth is that my list is usually a bit of an embarrassment. You would expect that there would be some obscure films on the list.

The truth is I see mostly just the films that have made it to central New Jersey and what I see at film festivals. I do see some very good films at the festivals, but people do not want to read recommendations for films they never hear of and will have little chance to see. If such a film gets a release, I will treat it as if I had just seen it. As remarkable as it was that I had a +4 film on my list this year - I very rarely use the +4 rating because so few films are that good - even it was not the best film of this year. The Grey Zone was in my opinion the better film but may not get much of a release.

So there are better films that I have seen but which are not generally available. And there have been better films that are generally available but which I have not seen. That compromises this list somewhat. The films are listed best first. So much for suspense. Each one has the ranking and what I would rate the film on the 0 to 10 and the -4 to +4 scale.

My major hobbies include travel and film. Both can take me to places I have not been to before in different ways. Sadly, the films that do that are films that may have been popular, but perhaps not much public respect. But what impresses me the most about The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (#1, 10, +4) is the effort that was required to bring it to the screen. Tolkien's Middle Earth has been portrayed on the screen before and those representations only go to show how hard it is to do it well. This I did think was done well and in a visualization that repeatedly created a sense of awe. Peter Jackson has created the definitive visualization of a modern classic story.

Memento (#2, 9, +3) is a clever and intelligent idea for a film. In telling its narrative in reverse order, it is a film in which we all know how the story ends, but the mystery is how it began and really who is who. The reverse structure also gives the viewer a simulation of the actual mental dysfunction, a form of amnesia, the character is suffering. This is a film that some viewers have found very taxing, and perhaps it should be seen more than once, but it is probably the most original film of 2001.

A Beautiful Mind did not get released in my area until 2002, but it makes an interesting companion piece to 2001's The Luzhin Defence (#3, 9, +3). Both films are about geniuses who are social misfits and gives the audience a window into how these people think as well as the price each pays for his genius. John Turturro stars as Alexandre Luzhin, a chess grand master who is nearly an idiot savant. In this adaptation of a story by Vladimir Nabokov the strange Luzhin falls in love at an important chess match. John Turturro stars as the brilliant but extremely eccentric chess master.

If Memento was disorienting in its story told backward-style, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (#4, 9 +3) disoriented the viewer by telling its story in three parts of very different styles. In a sense this is a sort of dual of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. That film suggested that we would be able to create feeling beings, but their life span would not be long enough for their purposes. Its replicants are haunted by how short and transitory life is. The film planned by Stanley Kubrick and completed by Steven Spielberg looks at a created human with a life span far longer than his purpose. Programmed to love and be loved by one human, the robot goes on living pointlessly, his whole reason for living taken away. Some almost magical future intelligence gives him one last contact with his purpose in life and the film asks us, "Is he better or worse for it?" Is it like giving a reformed alcoholic one last drink? Many did not like the sentimentality of the last part of the film, but I found the film to be rich in ideas throughout.

Several times now I have included on my top ten list films that have been made for cable. I have never seen that with anybody else's published top ten list. I do not know if other reviewers just do not consider them to be good enough or do not consider them at all. In any case, this year no less a critic than Roger Ebert and I both agree Wit (#5, 8, low +3) is among the best of the year. The film has Emma Thompson as a professor of 17th century poetry who is dying of cancer. It is based on Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize winning play. With wit and intelligence she tells us about the dying experience. This is an extremely moving film.

There was a time when the best art films were horror films. German expressionism gave us The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, M, The Golem, Waxworks, and Metropolis. Their legacy gave us films like Dracula, The Black Cat, and The Bride of Frankenstein. But since that time few horror films have had substantial merit. The films produced by Val Lewton and some made by David Cronenberg and perhaps one or two films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers were interesting artistically. The best modern director of artistic horror films is Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. This year he followed up Cronos and Mimic with The Devil's Backbone (#6, 8, high +2) which combines generally non-horror sub-genre of the boys school story with a story featuring a ghost and a stalking villain. As always, del Toro's visual compositions are absolutely beautiful. In the final analysis this is more of a murder film than a ghost story, but it nonetheless is hypnotically told. Del Toro actually has done (three times out of three) what Romero, Craven, and Carpenter should be doing.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (#7, 8, high +2) is faithful to the book and at the same time entertaining, not an easy balance. Like The Lord of the Rings it is a marvelous visualization of the book. There is some violence that may bother some parents, but kids are turning out in legions to see the film. And for many this will be one of the tamer films they are going to see. If the film limits the imagination they need in reading the modern classic Potter series, it will show them how it is done and open their imaginations when reading other books. Most of the weaknesses in the film, things like plot improbabilities, I found track back to the book.

Two good crime stories come next on my list. The Man Who Wasn't There (#8, 8, high +2) is a crisp black-and-white murder tale with a twisted plot that becomes clear in the end. The story is about a personal failure, a second chair barber in a tiny barbershop. When Ed enters a room with three other people in it, he makes it approximately three people in the room. In desperation to change his condition he tries blackmail and that makes things start to happen. The stark black and white images actually are the result of filming in color and then making black and white prints from that. Heist (#9, 8, high +2), written and directed by David Mamet, boasts two very clever robberies and a fairly good story of a brilliant criminal in the process of retiring. The script is not perfect, but is intriguing and has fewer holes than Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner. David Mamet's dialog may not be realistic, but it is artistic, like Shakespeare's was.

Then there's Shrek (#10, 8, high +2). What can I say? It has great animation and I laugh every time I see it. Robin Williams's genie in Aladdin leaves me cold. Rosie O'Donnell's Terk in Tarzan went all the way to irritating. Eddie Murphy's donkey in Shrek cracks me up every time. The film stands as a story on its own, but it is also a merciless rank-out of every Disney convention in reach.

© 2002 Mark R. Leeper

Making New World

Submitted by Peter John Ross


In 1999, I was working as a broker for a major bank in Columbus, Ohio. I had been writing screenplays and even had a few optioned, but nothing ever came of those leads. I wanted to make movies, not just write them or be a slave to corporate America.

I was jogging in a ravine between two neighborhoods in the middle of the city. There was a bridge across the street from the house I live in (not my parent's house). This bridge had the most amazing set of stairs made of large bricks much like a castle, and there was graffiti all over it, since it was in the center of the city. I loved the aesthetic of a castle looking staircase and bridge covered in urban graffiti. I envisioned a sword fight in my head, but how do I work in a sword fight into a modern story?

Along with that seed of an idea, I had been developing a story in my head for a television series which was my own kind of "science-fiction version of Red Dawn." I had been tinkering with this based on an entry in my dream journal from when I was thirteen years-old. It was a futuristic story that begins like ninety-nine percent of the trailers you see, "In a world where..."

But the world for this story was like Independence Day if humanity had lost the battle and the survivors were stuck picking up the pieces. Somehow I found a way to merge the ideas or sword fighting and laser battles between young upstarts and aliens - the kids come from a town where technology is forbidden. Hence the swordplay, if you can't be a cop with a gun, then you can be a cop with a sword. It's not Shakespeare, but at least it's better than Jar Jar Binks for a plot device.

Armed with an idea, and no clues as to how to make a movie I decided to try my hand at making short films first in order to learn the craft. It seemed a little ambitious to try a science-fiction, effects laden piece right out of the gate, so I went with some simple comedies, drama, and action. In January 2000, I created the Back Office series, available for free at and I did six shorts, each with a radically different style of writing, directing, and editing so I could hone my skills. Some are good, some are bad, but I learned a lot making them.

Next up was writing the script for this insane science-fiction action piece. I wrote a draft and started to work on my plot. I asked an actor from the Back Office series, Milan A. Cargould (also known as Mac) to do a polish on the script because some of his screenplays were damn good. He had a knack for dialogue. He did a draft, then we did two drafts together. I focused on the big picture and the action scenes (already picturing them in my head) and Mac focused on dialog, but we both helped each other. Kevin Carr and Glen Littlejohn also provided some notes on the script and helped plug holes.

Then we prepped all summer to do a shoot in the fall. I really wanted the look of the leaves changing colors because the trees and the leaves are so picturesque in Ohio in the fall. It also plays into the caustic storyline to have the leaves all dead and fallen at the end of the story.

Mac made guns from PVC pipe and had toy guns modified for us. I did research on Adobe After Effects and I bought a Canon GL1 specifically for the shoot. We had the same Director of Photography from Back Office to help, a guy named Matthias Saunders from New York University that had relocated to Columbus. He was also set to produce it, but called off to go to the Olympics in Sydney instead. So there I was with no experience trying to put together a science-fiction action piece that would run approximately forty-five minutes with heavy special effects and no clue what I'm doing.

I met a girl on another shoot in Indiana that claimed to have skills as an artist and she volunteered to help with storyboards. She came to Columbus every weekend for two months and ate a lot of my food and did a few drawings. It wound up being a lot like dating, meaning I paid for everything, but I never got the benefits of having a girlfriend. She did some decent drawings, but her version of the aliens were more like cute stuffed animal aliens and not the threatening insects I was looking for. Another girl from Ohio State University answered a flyer I posted in the art department and she delivered incredible renditions based of my verbal descriptions inside of a week. I also paid her fifty dollars. Lesson learned - pay money and you get good results. Make a mental note.

Then came the auditions. We used my house since there were two empty bedrooms and my roommate hibernates eleven months of the year. I taped the auditions while Mac read against the actors. We selected some good sides that called for calm and dramatic scenes. We had some good auditions as well as some bad ones. One of the good ones was Dovie Pettitt, reading for the lead female role. Insisting that I give her a chance, the original storyboard girl read for the lone female role and did okay, but was nothing compared to a trained actress like Dovie. Needless to say, once I told her she didn't get the part the storyboards started coming in form of stick figures. It's obvious because in one panel the storyboard looks good, while the rest are stick figures.

As for the two lead male roles, we had written and intended for Mac to play the pilot. It was a forgone conclusion as far as I was concerned. Then came Jon Osbeck. He came in to read for the leader of the youthful upstarts fighting the aliens and it was one of those moments where you sense something, but don't know what it is. The energy crackled in the room as Mac read with him. I asked them to reverse parts and have Mac be the upstart while Jon Osbeck read the pilot. Then the energy went through the roof. I felt like I had to stop a fight because they both got so into it. We didn't even bother reading anyone else for the role of the leader or the pilot. That was a done deal. Mac, who co-wrote a part for himself, decided there was no question that they should switch.

We had one major casting stumble. We needed an older gentleman to play the part of the constable. We wanted kind of a warped Captain Picard, an older guy to deliver exposition about quasi-religious beliefs and aliens. It would either be campy or serious, and I wanted the serious.
A friend of mine from Back Office, George Caleodis, came in to read for another part. On a whim, I asked him to read for the constable. He did, and because of his stand-up background, he was able to whip up a unique voice and accent for the part and nailed it. I was concerned because he was the same age as me. Kevin Carr had a brilliant suggestion - shave his head. I was going for something like Kurtz from Apocalypse Now and it was inspired. George, only getting deferred payment agreed to shave his head for the part. Now that is an actor.

Soon thereafter I started making a shooting schedule and the call sheets. I assembled a crew based on the same crew from a feature I worked on called Going Corporate, directed by my friend and now cast in the part of Timmy, Kevin Carr. His sister Kelly was the script supervisor on Going Corporate and did an amazing job. She performed those duties on New World as well. Chris Alexis and Derek Rimelspach from Ohio State stepped into production assistant and boom operator roles. Matthias Saunders re-appeared after his trip to Australia and became the cameraman. Since everyone else beside Kevin Carr and I had day jobs we were set to shoot on weekends only.


Shooting commenced at Mac's cabin near the Ohio river deep in the heart of nowhere in southeast Ohio. Past Ohio University in the mecca known only as Shade, Ohio is a two-hundred acre patch of trees and hills owned by Mac's father. We picked this location because of the cabin and perfect landscape for the many battle scenes. In addition, there would be no one to bother us. On October 7th, 2000 the first scene wrapped at 3PM. We had the two smokers and the one fat guy running at full-speed as our first shot.

The next day we were ahead of schedule and shot another action scene from much earlier in the script. Then came the marathon exposition dialog takes. Everyone gave a 110% and we finished ahead of schedule.

After that part of the shoot we moved to the small parks in and around inner-city Columbus. There was enough foliage to fool anyone into thinking it was the same environment. Also, the bridge across the street from my house was still perfectly covered in graffiti and ready to be filmed. For the abandoned town, we found a former shopping center that was out of business.

We had bought some inexpensive swords from the local martial arts store. The Ninjitsu swords were only fifty-nine dollars each and I was pleased. I bought two of them, one for each character that would wield them. On the first day of the first sword fight, during rehearsals of the choreography, Mac's wrist was cut nearly to the bone. He was bleeding all over the sidewalk. I offered to take him to a hospital and he refused to go. He wrapped up his arm with some gauze and went back to rehearse. During the first actual take with camera rolling, Matthias got in the way and caused the two actors to go right through a window.

Needless to say we were concerned about what to do since the location agreement clearly stated "to leave the location in the exact same condition it was found in." We called the locals and let them know. They said the building was set to be demolished anyway and not to worry about it. On the second take with camera rolling, after two thrust and parries, one of our swords broke in half, sending the sharp half flying towards the other actors. This sent us on an early lunch break while we waited for the army surplus store to open so we could buy more swords. Lesson learned? Buy better swords that cost more.

The rest of the shoot was similar to this in nature. Getting into the petty squabbles with the director of photography over who gets to frame the shots and trying to get everyone to see a picture in my head of what the giant insect-like aliens are going to look like are all a part of making a movie. We ended the shoot one day ahead of schedule. I took a few days off before beginning the marathon editing session to put together a rough cut.

Hot tips for great looking digital video - filters. Matthias used a variety of 58mm lens filters on the GL1 to achieve certain looks. The main one he used to bring out the colors of the fall in Ohio was an enhancing filter from Tiffen. For other shots, neutral density filters softened the video quite a bit. For a more cinematic approach, we chose to go with the 16x9 (widescreen) look.


In December 2000, I began the editing on my home computer. I used the DV Raptor card from Canopus along with Adobe Premiere 5.1c. The Raptor card is still one of the best fire-wire DV capturing setups in the industry. I have used it for commercial work for two years. Adobe Premiere stands up as a solid editing package, and with the new version (6.01), Adobe has even streamlined their package into a powerhouse utility. My computer was an Pentium III 600 MHz with a 20 GIG and a 60 GIG hard drive. Unfortunately, I still had no aliens.

Initially, I did some tests with a 3D program called True Space 4.3 from Caligari. My old roommate, Dual Patrick Davidson, created some 3D wire-frame models and gave them to me on a CD-R. I did some animations and experimented with matting them into the live action photography. I edited together a trailer with the temporary effects footage. I was pleased but knew it didn't meet my standards.

I continued to edit down the scenes and put the whole piece together. There were some rough spots, and some regrets, but there was also some good rhythm in the action scenes. When I would edit, I would cut it as I pictured it in my head, then I would drop in some temporary music, usually something from the James Horner soundtracks. There were times where it was spooky how closely the accents would match, and I wouldn't even move the music around much, it just happened to fit as it was.

Then catastrophe hit. I got a job as an editor for a local production company, Tavares Teleproductions, and I built them an editing machine. We purchased the equipment from a mail order company and the machine kept blowing CPU fans or melting motherboards. We took my New World machine and plugged in the Tavares hard drives, and there my movie sat on an unplugged hard drive for four months while we tried to get a working machine to replace the mail order fiasco, which to this day has never been truly resolved.

Eventually, Tavares Teleproductions upgraded to a nice dual processor machine that I pieced together for them, and I took home my computer. I got it home, and I was very excited because I finally wrapped up my freelance projects and had at least a few weeks to dedicate full time to New World. I plugged in the power supply on the back of the computer only to see a flurry of sparks and a puff of smoke. No more computer. There was so much static build up from Tavares Teleproductions that it was a bomb waiting to go off. Now I had to wait at least three weeks for business insurance to pay for a new motherboard and CPU.

Finally I got the machine back together and working. I was very excited, but all my free time was used up and I'm stuck doing freelance television commercials and industrials. I somehow manage to find some time to spend on New World. I start to re-edit a scene and everything appears fine. Then I reboot the computer and a polite little window appears on monitor pertaining to the 60 GIG hard drive, the one with all the footage. The message says "This drive is not formatted, would you like to format it now?"

Panic. Stress. It all hit me at once. Deeply concerned that all my work is gone. It's not truly lost since I have the batch capture lists, but it's still a lot of work. I find out the 60 GIG hard drive is dying out. It does not spin consistently and eventually I'll lose all or my data. I borrow a 40 GIG hard drive from a friend and go into MS-DOS mode and copy everything I can. I lose about 9 GIG worth of data in order to make all I can fit onto the 40 GIG hard drive. I salvage what I can.

After this ordeal, I got locked in several more productions. I help out on the lighting with one project, while writing and directing something else for a non-profit group, the Columbus Filmmakers Consortium. It isn't until September 2001 that I actually got to work on special effects for New World, one year after starting principal photography.

Since September, most of the effects work had been completed, and new found support from the Columbus Filmmakers Consortium has resulted in a lot of help with the special effects and even with audio clean-up. The score is currently being written to replace the temp score and Ain't It Cool News ran a story on the "work in progress." You can find out more on the film's official website at

There is still one major effects sequence being worked on, the audio is still in bad shape due to poor audio recording and a bad boom mic, and some digital matte paintings are being created by a local 3D artist. It's not done yet, but soon, very soon. No more delays.

My advice to anyone is not to make a spoof of Star Wars, but to write something of their own. Don't think that because you don't have a big budget that you can't tell a story with special effects. Patience and time will make it happen.

Monday, January 14, 2002

A Shot in the Dark: Writing Music for Film

Submitted by Amy Elizabeth Cassata

I dreamed of writing music for film since age twelve. I remember the moment I had this thought - I was watching the credits of an IMAX film, the kind with lush harmonies of symphonic instruments layered upon synthesized music moving along a steady beat. With eight years training in classical piano and having grown up amid eighties pop culture, the combination of the two seemed to merge in my mind as I listened to this particular soundtrack. In time, I have been able to produce this sound in my home studio. However, not until Matthew Marshall asked me to compose two fifteen-minute musical scores was my daydream put to the test. What I learned was that film scores brought a new set of complications, challenges, and frustrations to the composition process. Difficulties I had not experienced while working in isolation.

Play Fear

The first challenge in writing music for film was that it required playing someone else's emotion and experience other than my own. Matthew and I had many brainstorming sessions where we would watch the rough cut, piece by piece, and they would direct me as to which emotion should be conveyed where and when. I was given such ambiguous directions as play fear. I quickly learned that my interpretation of an emotion may not necessarily match the director's idea of, for example, what "fear" should sound like. Many times I went through a trial-and-error process, with several instrument changes, key changes, and layering and un-layering of sounds.

Once I had a sound in mind, the next challenge was to somehow create a "song" which was brief but powerful, simple, subtle, and that complemented the visual images. The biggest gripe from the director at this point was that the music was too complex, too long, or sounded too much like a song. It took a while for me to appreciate the power of simplicity and silence. I frustratingly scaled back. My personal inclination is the melodramatic style, in order to create music as rich as possible. I would liken the film process to learning to write an adage rather than a doctoral dissertation.

Another challenge, albeit more entertaining than the first two, was managing the other musicians, and giving them musical direction, especially in those moments when I was hitting notes randomly, hoping something appropriate would emerge. Collaborating with others was exhilarating, perhaps because it helped take the sole idea-making weight off my shoulders. In several instances, I was able to take an idea or phrase from someone else into a full-fledged song. It was like a mental telepathy began to emerge between musicians as the hours passed. Sometimes, when all the musicians were on the same page, we achieved "studio magic" and created the music you hear in the films. These moments also created fun, although not "film-relevant" material, but were creative nonetheless.

The music for The Death of Everything Good and True was recorded in one eleven-hour marathon session. We went into the studio blind, with a clean state, only myself having seen the rough cut. For Carapace, the process was more structured, as I wrote many of the themes before meeting with the musicians, who had been thoroughly forewarned and given a copy of the film in advance for brainstorming purposes. Another large difference between the two soundtracks was that the instruments in The Death were recorded on a single track, while many Carapace tracks were pre-sequenced, with parts recorded on separate tracks. I believe elements of both techniques are beneficial. The raw spontaneity of the single track sessions in The Death added a human quality to the music that is lost in a synchronized, edited setup. However, on the Carapace soundtrack, the music was written quicker as the musicians had more direction. To be fair, a few of the musicians benefited from the experience of having played for the previous film.

Would I write a third soundtrack? Probably. The process explores the possibilities of sounds that are created when individuals collaborate. Although personal expression is still present in general style, the content illustrates a new, collective expression. Working for film allows for the exploration of a wide range emotions present in human nature, many of which I had never interpreted musically. When Matthew asked me to write a commentary on the experience of writing the soundtrack to his two films, my first thought was, I am a musician. My best expression is not through words but by melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that, through their own language, convey experience. The music expresses sentiments I am unable to state in spoken language. I consider this essay an inadequate description of the experience of soundtrack recording. Only in hearing the song can one hear the energy of spontaneous give-and-take between musicians as a second layer of unspoken dialog, or the improvisation on a single theme as the visual images rise and fall in intensity. In other words, if you are really curious about the soundtracks, listen to the music.

The Osama Award

Submitted by Bill the Rake

I asked Cleo about this and she said, "Hollywood should create a special sort of annual award to the producers selected for producing the least believable trick-film of the year. The name of that award should be The Osama, presented in memory of the authors of the hoax known as the so-called Hitler Diaries."

[Source: EIR, Cairo, simultaneous English translation, Jan. 5, 2002]

Egyptian Military Strategy Expert Says Bin Laden Could Not Have Done It

Dr. Mahmoud Khallaf, an expert in strategic issues, and currently at the Nasser Academy for Defense Studies, presented his analysis of the events of September 11, at a seminar January 5, organized by the Center for Asian Studies of the Cairo University, Faculty of Economics and Political Science. Dr. Khallaf followed Muriel Mirak-Weissbach of EIR, who had presented LaRouche's analysis of those events, from the standpoint of his recent paper on "Brzezinski and September 11." Saying he found the presentation very fruitful, as it had "answered many questions," Dr. Khallaf went through his own independent considerations of the events on that day. He said that strategic military analysis, which he has been working in for twenty years, is a separate branch of study, with its own rules; what he wanted to present, he said, was an "autopsy of the events," a summary of which follows:

As for the operational aspect, there must have been at least a hundred planning technicians involved. Each phase had many technical details, and each required a deception operation, directed against numerous specialized agencies, of which there are eleven. For example, the DIA has very highly specialized capabilities; the NSA records every square meter of U.S. territory audio-visually, and so forth. How could Osama Bin Laden have organized such an operation, which eluded all this surveillance? How could he have operated undercover, undetected, for two years, the length of time it must have required?

There was definitely penetration of American military and intelligence sectors, on the side of the planners. Questions raised include the following - NORAD, a very complicated system, is informed of the movements of every plane in flight. Reportedly, one plane did issue a warning, giving information that the plane had been hijacked. The DIA was informed. Andrews Air Force base, where Air Force One is usually based, has twenty-eight fighter planes, capable of scrambling in such cases, and being in the air within minutes. Although informed, they did not fly.

President Bush was in a situation for ten hours, during which he could not return to Washington, and to do so, he had to have the Marines deploy to clear the area.

Then there is the question of radar systems, which every country has. The United States has AWACS for external air space. Every plane has a transponder, so that its schedule and flight route are known and controlled. According to schedule, the first plane, flight 11, left at 7:58, then the second, at 8:10. All four planes took off within fourteen minutes. The first plane flew forty-six minutes, made a maneuver, a curve, then headed towards the World Trade Center tower and hit it.

According to the passenger lists released by the FBI, the suspected hijackers were between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-two, which is too young for them to have trained long enough on these planes. How could it be possible to hijack them and pilot them? The high technological and technical level of the operation is not matched by the evidence shown, which is on a much lower level.

Another question regards the targeting science, which involves capabilities, including computerized programs, prioritizing what is to be hit first. The timing is elementary and the results can be calculated. You need a highly skilled team to decide what to hit, when, and how.

The first plane leaving Boston for New York was flight 11, followed by flight 175. The first hit the World Trade Center tower after forty-six minutes, the second, after sixty-seven minutes, that is, with a twenty-minute time lag. Why? Probably because they calculated that, after the first hit, rescue teams would be rushed to the scene; by waiting for the second hit, they could impact the rescue teams as well. This constituted an escalation of the hits.

Take the case of the plane which left Dulles airport at 8:10 and hit the Pentagon at 9:43. Between Dulles airport and the Pentagon, there are only a few minutes of flight time, but the plane flew west for forty-five minutes. Why? Because they knew (they must have been military personnel) that, by that time, inside the Pentagon, there would have been a group of experts meeting to discuss the reported hits in New York, and they wanted to strike then, to target them. The assailants hit where the helicopter pad is, also to prevent any emergency helicopter rescue. They knew there would be a briefing going on, with the CIA present, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, which they targeted. Thus, they had to allow them the time to convene the meeting.

The fourth plane, which crashed in Pittsburgh, flew outwards to Cleveland, then turned around and headed for the White House after two and a half hours because they knew Bush and the National Security Council would be there by that time. The American leadership knew this, and was in a state of shock. It took Bush ten hours to get back to Washington.

One puzzling thing is the training of the assailants. How were they chosen? When were they trained? How was the piloting and intelligence done?

It is impossible that the Osama Bin Laden organization could have done this.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Ronny Camaro and Seven Angry Women

Submitted by Paige Summers

First time filmmakers Bo Linton and Susan Soares made the Hollywood rounds in 2000 and 2001. You know, hanging out in the hip spots hoping to meet somebody important, pitching the studios, and keeping Kinko's in business by buying business cards by the thousands. "We'd still be there today" states Susan, "if we hadn't decided to join the digital revolution." It's their opinion that we will see unprecedented creativity because new and small production studios can avoid the overly powerful studios with their "oatmeal" attitudes that reduce stories to please all of the people some of the time. People that push the envelope run the risk of going too far, but if it weren't for those types of people, we would never see how far we could go. The digital revolution takes the power from the Hollywood elite and puts it into the hands of the people.

One day in August of 2001, Bo and Susan went to a HD seminar at Panavision in Woodland Hills. They were impressed with the beauty of the finished product and the creative and timesaving benefits to using the camera.

Susan remembers the day.

"After the seminar, Bo grabbed my hand and said come on honey, we're going to make a movie. He wanted to go in and talk to some big cheese at Panavision right then and there. I was a bit intimidated but I know that when Bo sets his mind to something, it's going to happen. We went through about three secretaries and then it happened. We got in. We had a great meeting and before I knew it, we were scheduled to make a movie in less than three months. Because of this camera, we were able to make our feature using our checkbooks and the credit cards of a few faithful friends."

Bo has this to say about the experience.

"As far as the camera equipment goes, we used the Panavision Sony HDW F-900 24P. The time and expense we saved not having to deal with developing dailies and also having the ability to see performances immediately saved us. As a director it is important for me to get the best performance from the actors. I took up to seven takes an angle. If we were on film that wouldn't have fit within our budgetary guidelines. Essentially, we recorded all the rehearsals since tape is cheap. For sound we backed everything up on a DAT recorder. If you use this camera, the second AC must wear headphones and listen to camera sound. We lost about twenty percent of our camera sound because of faulty cables. Our soundman could only listen to the DAT recorder and the camera department didn't always check the levels on the camera. If the second AC was wearing headphones it never would have been missed."

Although the feature has incredible production value, they were able to produce Ronny Camaro and Seven Angry Women for very little cash. Bo and Susan attribute that to several things including - the come hell or high water attitude they both had, brilliant writing with the budget in mind, imaginative financing, extensive pre-production to allow the opportunity for creativity during production, guerrilla filmmaking panache, well rehearsed actors, and the ability to turn on a dime.

Bo Linton/Susan Soares Productions is screening their feature at Panavision in Woodland Hills on January 29, 2002. If you would like to contact them, please email Susan at They have already attracted over twelve major distribution studios to the screening and are anticipating a bidding war on their comedic debut.

Bo Linton reflects on the shoot.

"I hate the bad rap producers get. Without them, films would never get made. Susan made sure that I got everything I needed. Without her, well, I don't want to even think about that prospect. The woman can do anything she sets her mind to. Ronny Camaro and Seven Angry Women was an incredible team effort. It was fun watching Susan in command like General Patton. Susan and I made a pact that during the production common courtesy would not be the number one priority. We said "thank you" and "I'm sorry" before we started shooting because twelve straight twenty hour days doesn't leave much time for friendly gestures. I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome of the movie."