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Highlights of 2014: Film Independent and The Academy

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

As 2014 starts, the film professional and film fan alike have countless events to place on their schedules.  The Golden Globes take place on January 12th, with the following weekend filled with the SAG and PGA Awards.  The Oscar nominees will be announced on January 16th, the same day the 2014 Sundance Film Festival kicks off.  From there it is just a buzz of activity and awards straight through March.

Award shows and film festivals aren’t the only gig in town, however.   There are lots of other great events one should keep on their radar.  I renewed my membership to Film Independent prior to the year’s conclusion.  Sure, it is a lot of fun to be amongst those who vote for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and FIND also puts on a tremendous slate of activities throughout the year including free screenings, members’ nights, workshops and the Los Angeles Film Festival.  However, what I am most excited to continue purchasing are the discount tickets to FIND’s Live Reads series head at LACMA. The org is moving into their third season with this great event, initiated with director Jason Reitman and highlighting scripts from movies ranging from “Breakfast Club” to “Boogie Nights.”   Taking place roughly once a month, the director of each read gathers an eclectic mix of actors to perform a cold reading.  Projected behind the readers are stills form the movie that have been retouched, removing any actors who area featured in the scenes.  The staged reads consistantly sell out; however a stand-by line is available (and everyone in stand-by has been able to gain entry for the last three consecutive reads.)

The Academy is my other preferred resource for activities throughout the year.  The Academy has a great range of events that are open to the public for amazingly low rates (usually no more than $5.00 a ticket!)  The lobbies of both the Wilshire and Vine locations host free exhibitions of photos, cell animation, costumes and poster art.  Throughout the year special screenings are held, often presented with original or restored prints, and during the summer months Oscars Outdoors presents weekend screenings that are…outdoors.

A highlight for me has been the educational programming.  A recent example was the exploration of the technology of stunts presented in a program called “Real to Reel: The Art of Action.”  Moderated by twenty-year stunt veteran Garrett Warren, the program explored the evolution of stunts from the 1970s through the 2012 release of “Iron Man 3.”    Warren integrated clips of stunts he’s either worked on or been inspired by, then invited stunt doubles, editors, visual effects supervisors and producers of the films to discuss the mechanics involved in presenting the work.

He began with the trailer fight sequence from “Kill Bill,” and discussed the work involved with stunt double and actress Zoe Bell.  Bell recalled spending three weeks completing the one sequence.  The scene required a number of different walls that had to be built that the stunt performers crashed through.  The scenes were then shot from different angles, requiring the stunts to be repeatedly performed.   She recalled the prosthetic work that was also required when limbs were cut off, including the scene in which Lucy Lui loses her head.

A great take away from the evening was the pre-production work the stunt men put into choreographing their fights.  Although scenes in “Real Steel” involved CGI robots fighting, Warren first hired boxers to work through the choreography.  Each boxer was outfitted with movement-inhibiting material to duplicate the motions of fighting machines.  Warren also highlighted the advancement of rigs and pulleys that enable safe free falls from extreme heights, including helicopter falls in “Iron Man 3.”   Whenever possible, a stunt coordinator prefers to have the actor perform the stunt, but safety is always the primary concern.  In the case of the James Bond free fall seen at the beginning of “Skyfall,” the stunt was too dangerous for both the actor and a stunt performer to complete.  The stunt seen in the movie is actually three separate segments pieced together.  Daniel Craig had a minor fall at the beginning of the stunt.  A virtual image was used through the middle of the stunt, and a performer finished the stunt with the plunge into the water.

At this moment, no events are scheduled – outside of the Oscars, of course!  However, the Academy is refreshing their website and will be updating their calendar soon.  So, here’s to a great 2014, filled with opportunities, education, and fun!


To learn more about events at Film Independent, please visit:


To learn more about events at the Academy, please visit: