Thursday, 21 January 2016

10 Fun Oscar Facts

Working in post-production, I am a huge video, and movie buff.  The 88th Academy Awards ceremony is fast approaching, and if you are anything like me, I love to see the talented actors, directors, and other gifted artists gather to award the year’s biggest hits such as "The Revenant", "The Big Short", and "Spotlight" for excellence in the film industry.

Although at the end of the night, we only really care who walks home with the coveted trophy. The Oscar is one of the most sought after awards in Hollywood, giving the show itself a rich history filled with incredible moments. To help you prepare for the big night, I’ve compiled a list of fun facts and historical tidbits about the Academy Awards.

1. Why are the Oscars called The Oscars?  

The official name for an Oscar was originally called Academy Award of Merit. The origin of the nickname that was given to the award can’t be 100% confirmed.  It is speculated that Academy librarian Margaret Herrick said the little gold man looked like her Uncle Oscar. However, the Daily News has a connection to naming the famous statuette after columnist Sidney Skulks, who claimed he first used the nickname referencing a classic vaudeville joke line, “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?”. In the end, nobody really knows the true origin of the nickname but it has certainly stood the test of time.

2. Why are the envelopes sealed?

 In the early days, the Academy liked to keep a lid on the results making an exception for newspapers so that they could publish the list of winners at 11 pm on the night of the event.  In advance of the 1940 awards show, The Los Angeles Times published the results spoiling the winners before the ceremony even got underway.  The Academy responded the following year by sealing the envelopes to remain a secret, and the custom has been used ever since.

3. How heavy is an Oscar?

Often times when someone wins an Oscar for the first time they mention how heavy the statue feels. Well, that’s because it stands at 13.5 inches and weighs a whopping 8.5 pounds! Being that heavy, it’s hard to believe that a few winners such as Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Jeff Bridges have misplaced their awards!

4. How can you attend the Oscars?

I know I have often wondered and hoped to be able to sit in the audience of the Academy Awards, if not for editing, then as a seat filler.  Bad news!  The only way a regular Joe like you or me can score a seat at the Oscars as a seat filler is to know someone who works at the Academy or be an employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm entrusted to tally the votes.  That being said, if you know someone who works at the Academy, let a girl know!

5. Who has the record of hosting the most Academy Awards?

If I were playing the board game Scene it, which I pride myself on being pretty darn good at, I would have guessed Billy Crystal, and I would have been wrong!  Bob Hope is the Oscar emcee that holds the record for hosting the most Academy Awards, having emceed 19 ceremonies between 1940 and 1978.  Perhaps the days of Hope’s kind of reign are over, as we shuffle back and forth between hosts. But I do have to say I have enjoyed hosts, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg and returning host for 2016, Chris Rock!

6. Has a film ever won every award it was nominated for?

The answer is yes!  At the 76th annual Academy Awards, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” completely swept the show by winning every award it was nominated for.  It is tied with the most wins of all time with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic”.

7. What would happen if a 'Steve Harvey' moment occurred and the incorrect winner was announced?

I’ll never forget how I cringed when I saw Michael Keaton put his acceptance speech back in his pocket as Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for Best Actor last year.  Maybe next time, Michael! But that was just wishful thinking, not an announcement mistake.  Don’t worry there is a contingency plan in place if the wrong winner is announced.  The folks of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the only people on the planet to know the results, are authorized to go on stage and stop the show!  Luckily, this has never happened.

8. Has anyone ever refused an Oscar?

While the very thought of this seems absurd, sadly the answer is yes.  Dudley Nichols refused the Oscar in 1935 for his win for best screenplay in “The Informer” because the Writers Guild was on strike against the movie studios. Along with him, George C. Scott refused the Oscar for Best Actor for “Patton” because he did not feel that he was in any competition with other actors.  Frank McCarthy, the film’s producer, accepted the Award on Scott’s behalf at the ceremony but returned it to the Academy the next day in keeping with Scott’s wishes. And of course, I am sure you have heard in 1973 Marlon Brando famously refused to accept his award for “The Godfather” and sent a young Native American woman named Sacheen Littlefeather to read a prepared statement in his place.

9. Has a nominee ever received an Oscar after death?

Only two actors have been awarded an Oscar posthumously.  At the 49th Annual Award show in 1977, Peter Finch, who died from a heart attack that same year, won for Best Actor in “Network.”  The second was in 2008 when Heath Ledger, who died from an accidental intoxication from prescription drugs, won best supporting actor for his portrayal of The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

10. Have any Oscars gone missing?

The answer is yes!  Now, I’m not talking about that moment when you might think someone is 'robbed' of the award! The academy was literally robbed in 2000 when two men stole crates filled with 55 Oscar statuettes. All but three of the trophies were recovered after the crates were found in the trash.  One of the three that remained missing was found during a drug bust, however, there are still two out there!  I wonder if they will ever be recovered.

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed learning about some of these Oscar facts. I can’t wait for the Oscars, with viewing parties, ballots, and champagne! And I don’t know about you, but my fingers are crossed for Leonardo Dicaprio! His raw and intense performance in "The Revenant" surely can’t go unnoticed! Tune in February 28 and find out!

What were some of your favorite films nominated this year?  What are some of your favorite moments from the Oscars? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you need help with your video projects, our team is happy to assist you! Visit our website or give us call at 832-831-7592.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Why Is Pre-Production SO Important?

I think nearly everyone in the video or film business can agree that pre-production is one of, if not THE MOST, important phase of a project. It is where ideas are born, shaped, de-constructed and consequently fit into a script, a plan or a strategy that will guide and dictate the fate of the entire production.

But why is it so important? Pre-production can probably be summarized in one word: “planning”, which means thinking ahead about the tasks necessary to achieve a goal; organize them, structure them and schedule them accordingly. A good pre-production is not necessarily a long one, but one where we can plan in order to:

1. Create

Planning allows us to take care of the logistic tasks of a project in an effective way. For example: do extensive research, look for the best equipment available, schedule the best crew, scout locations thoroughly, in order to be PREPARED.

But it’s not all about the logistics. Successful planning and good prep give the team time to actually think and be more creative, brainstorm about possible shots and angles, come up with new ideas and implement the latest trends. When we have enough time to plan, we can focus more on the visuals and the aesthetics of a piece, instead of just putting all of our efforts in the operational portion of the project.

2. Avoid undesired surprises.
Shoots may present challenges, but they can be conquered if thorough pre-production is put into place. Now, weak pre-production can lead to not only many challenges, but also surprises and mishaps. Therefore, we should work very hard to avoid those.

How can you avoid surprises? Again, planning. For example, if we scout a specific location and realize it has no outlets, we would come prepared to the shoot with a solution (a long extension cord that can be connected to the room next door, or another power source). If we prepare a realistic schedule, we would have enough time to shoot everything we need. If we contact our usual crew ahead of time, we wouldn’t have to work with someone unreliable.

Basically, we not only need to plan in order to create, but we also need to plan in order to prevent. We should get to know our location so we can come prepared to the shoot; we should set up an organized and feasible schedule; confirm our crew and get the equipment needed ahead of time… All so we can do our job with a solid foundation and the confidence we need to accomplish our goals. If we leave it all to improvisation, it could lead us to many undesired surprises.

3. Let the post-production teamwork
As a production team, we also plan so we can give our post-production colleagues room to explore. So we plan in order to create, prevent and explore. Good combo.

Let’s take a step back for a second- say we didn’t put much effort in the planning, so we weren’t really creative with our script and our logistics were poorly accomplished. Therefore, we ran into a couple of mishaps during our shoot and we ended up with the typical, “let’s fix it in post,” phrase. If these words come out of our mouth, our future is doomed. Once a project with these characteristics falls into the post-production team’s lap, their dreams are crushed. And the fate of our project becomes unpredictable.

With a great pre-production, we can accomplish a great production. And when we hand a successful production project over to post, they don’t have to spend hours worrying about “fixing”. Instead, they can worry about “exploring”. They have time to create, come up with new editing ideas, play around with visuals, color, effects, audio, etc. They can work on complimenting and enhancing the piece, instead of just making it presentable.

4. Set and meet expectations.

When we plan ahead, we know what to expect. We establish a solid groundwork that allows us to create, prevent and explore (here comes the combo again).

When we set realistic expectations from the beginning, it’s more feasible to not only meet the expectations, but also exceed them. For example, we can meet expectations in production with a zero mishap shoot; or exceed them in post-production when our team has time to push the boundaries on the visuals effects while staying under budget.

When we plan, we know what our opportunities and challenges can be and we prepare for them. When we plan, we can boost and enhance our results.

So, there you have it! Pre-production is very important because it allows us to plan in order to create, prevent, explore and meet expectations.

Now tell us, why do you think pre-production is important? What challenges have you encountered during this phase? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you need help with your production projects, our team is happy to assist you! Visit our website or give us call at 832-831-7592.