Marc Clebanoff Discusses Indie Filmmaking

Marc Clebanoff
Marc Clebanoff

This is part two to my conversation with the indie filmmaker, Marc Clebanoff. As preparation for a forthcoming review of Marc Clebanoff’s film, Unspoken, I sat down with the writer, producer, and director himself to ask him a few questions about the film. However, as we spoke, I saw there was going to be much more to our conversation. Clebanoff is living the dream of many college, independent, and amateur filmmakers. He has gone from tinkering with screenplays to studying filmmaking in college to producing his own feature length film, and working with some amazing and talented people in the process.

Clebanoff is a University of Southern California alum and Los Angeles resident He started Odyssey Motion Pictures (2004) as a platform to launch Unspoken, as well as MC Camera Works, a full service resource for independent filmmakers, including an equipment rental division, located in the San Fernando Valley just outside of Los Angeles.

Read moreMarc Clebanoff Discusses Indie Filmmaking

Marc Clebanoff Discusses ‘Unspoken’

Marc Clebanoff
Marc Clebanoff

As preparation for a forthcoming review of Marc Clebanoff’s film, Unspoken, I sat down with the writer, producer, and director himself to ask him a few questions about the film. Prior to the interview, Marc and I communicated by e-mail several times and I was quite impressed by his tenacity, energy, and professionalism. Marc had mailed me the DVD screener of Unspoken as well as some very interesting supplemental information including cast and crew bios, and a one sheet that includes all pertinent project and story details.

Clebanoff is a University of Southern California alum and Los Angeles resident having grown up in the area. Clebanoff is an entrepreneur having started Odyssey Motion Pictures (2004) as a platform to launch Unspoken and MC Camera Works, a full service resource for independent filmmakers, including an equipment rental division, located in the San Fernando Valley just outside of Los Angeles.

Read moreMarc Clebanoff Discusses ‘Unspoken’

Nollywood Comes to Hollywood

This is just one of the hundreds of productions coming out of Nigeria’s Nollywood.
This is just one of the hundreds of productions coming out of Nigeria’s Nollywood.

Does Hollywood have any real competition? Do they have someone to learn from? An industry with fresh ideas and initiative? Bollywood, maybe? But it is decades old and still does not have the impact that Hollywood seems to.

What about Nollywood? Wait, what is Nollywood, you ask?

From June 13-17, 2005, Nollywood Rising: Global Perspectives On The Nigerian Film Industry will make its debut in Los Angeles as a way of recognizing the world’s third largest film industry, Nollywood, centered in Nigeria, Africa. This convention, based at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is designed to bring the Nigerian film industry to Hollywood so that both can share information, opportunities, and perceptions.

Read moreNollywood Comes to Hollywood

‘Equilibrium’ has lots of action and great visuals but is feel far too familiar

[rating=2]Starring: Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, Emily Watson
Director(s): Kurt Wimmer
Writer(s): Kurt Wimmer

Christian Bale stars in 'Equilibrium'
Christian Bale stars in ‘Equilibrium’

As a sci-fi action film, Equilibrium provides a lot of exciting Matrix-style action and visuals but falls a little too closely to its science fiction roots to be original or truly successful. Released directly to DVD, this $20 million film has interesting visuals, several exciting fight scenes, and some really enjoyable acting on the part of a fairly well known cast. However, Equilibrium’s concept too closely parallel that of Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 and does not have enough of a unique story or philosophy to make it really stand out. In the science fiction genre, exceptional ideas can almost be more important than execution or big name actors.

Read more‘Equilibrium’ has lots of action and great visuals but is feel far too familiar

‘Battle Royale’ (Batoru rowaiaru) is a great fight flick worth a view… but just once

[rating=2]Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Takeshi
Director(s): Kinji Fukasaku
Writer(s): Kenta Fukasaku

Things get bloody in 'Battle Royale' (Batoru rowaiaru)
Things get bloody in ‘Battle Royale’ (Batoru rowaiaru)

Battle Royale, originally released in 2000 in Japan, is a harsh action film with a little horror and comedy mixed in. Featuring a cast of teenage classmates who are forced to kill each other, this film could almost never be popular in the United States with its series of recent classroom shootings. Battle Royale depicts images of a somewhat untouchable topic, putting the responsibility on the adults and government in a kind of reality TV setting. This movie is harsh, graphic, and gory at times, but actually succeeds in making this disturbing topic light hearted and cartoonish. It’s almost like something out of an old Warner Bros. cartoon where Daffy inadvertently blows himself up, trying to off Bugs.

Read more‘Battle Royale’ (Batoru rowaiaru) is a great fight flick worth a view… but just once

‘Musa’ is an amazing, big budget Korean swordplay film

[rating=4]Starring: Woo-sung Jung, Sung-kee Ahn, Rongguang Yu, Ziyi Zhang, Yong-woo Park, Jeong-hak Park
Director(s): Sung-su Kim
Writer(s): Sung-su Kim

'Musa' (The Warrior)
‘Musa’ (The Warrior)

Musa, originally released in 2001, is an amazing, big budget Korean swordplay film with big name actors set in China during the Ming Dynasty. Musa sets itself apart from the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero with its realistic and historically accurate story. The film serves as a platform to talk about cultural differences, class clashes, and warrior kinship, but also packs a huge punch with amazing actions scenes, great acting, and an interesting story.

Musa follows a Korean diplomatic envoy sent with warrior guards and slave servants to help settle differences with China. The diverse group fails to make it to their designated city for talks and ends up headed back to Korea.

Read more‘Musa’ is an amazing, big budget Korean swordplay film

‘Princess Blade’ (Shura Yukihime) lacks cohesion

Hideaki Ito in 'Princess Blade'
Hideaki Ito in ‘Princess Blade’

[rating=2]Starring: Hideaki Ito, Yumiko Shaku, Shirô Sano, Yoichi Numata, Kyusaku Shimada, Yoko Maki
Director(s): Shinsuke Sato
Writer(s): Kei Kunii, Shinsuke Sato

Princess Blade, released in 2001, is a Japanese swordplay film set in a futuristic world with some wonderful imagery and an interesting concept, but lacks the cohesion necessary to make it a great film. It establishes a world and time of its own, set in an undesignated, almost post-apocalyptic world with a feudal system like that of ancient Japan. Within this setting, Princess Blade sets off in several different plot directions but lacks the details and interactions that would make the film feel more whole and complete.

Read more‘Princess Blade’ (Shura Yukihime) lacks cohesion

Tony Jaa Kicks Open Cultural Doors

Tony Jaa battles in 'Ong Bak'
Tony Jaa battles in ‘Ong Bak’

The first time I saw Tony Jaa in person, he was being interviewed by The RZA of Wu Tang for MTV at the Los Angeles premiere of his latest film, Ong Bak, which opens this Friday, Feb. 11. Tony was displaying an amazing jump stunt, which involved his doing a full backward, head over feet rotation from a standing position, and hitting a stationary target. It was really cool to see live.Afterwards, I got the opporunity to see the film. Ong Bak was a lot of fun (check for my review tomorrow) and served as an amazing display for Tony’s huge array of skills, which I had earlier seen first hand.

Read moreTony Jaa Kicks Open Cultural Doors

‘City of God’ reveals the dark, gritty reality of living in the ghetto in Rio de Janeiro

[rating=3]Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge
Director(s): Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Writer(s): Paulo Lins, Bráulio Mantovani

Alexandre Rodrigues in 'City of God'
Alexandre Rodrigues in ‘City of God’

City of God is a well constructed, sometimes difficult to watch portrayal of reason and rationale in urban life, showing the progressive degradation of situations and lives in a ghetto. The particular ghetto portrayed in the film is a small, overpopulated area outside Rio de Janeiro, nicknamed “City of God” by its inhabitants because of their hope for a new paradise which was being built as they arrived.

However, virtually every positive action in this film or any attempt to overcome the slums is engulfed by the destruction caused by this paradise lost. The film’s narrative follows the lives of two main and several minor characters through two decades of their lives in the ghetto and shows how one man’s life can have an impact on another.

Read more‘City of God’ reveals the dark, gritty reality of living in the ghetto in Rio de Janeiro

‘Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead’ is a clever, quick, and concise film

[rating=3]Starring: Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, and Fairuza Balk
Director(s): Gary Fleder
Writer(s): Scott Rosenberg

Andy Garcia in 'Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead'
Andy Garcia in ‘Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead’

“Give it a name…” is a phrase that is often used in Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead as a way of saying, “…tell it like it is”, a phrase of communicating to a friend that someone understands and agrees with them. This phrase, in a film that uses stylish language to portray a criminal subculture, captures the essence of what this film is all about. The title of the film establishes virtually every action and word spoken about a world where people know and understand that their life is limited because of who they are and what they do.

Read more‘Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead’ is a clever, quick, and concise film