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A Letter to JJ Abrams

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Mike Cohen
A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 26, 2013 at 8:43:45 pm

This is worthy of a new thread. View this site and get back to me

http://www.dearjjabrams.com/


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Stephen Smith
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:22:37 pm

Really cool, I love it. The animation on that was incredible. I agree with all 4 points and want to point out what the most like comment says," I've heard a lot of people make the same complaint that they didn't like that everything in the prequels was too shiny and new. That's the way it's supposed to be ! Everyone seems to forget that Obi Wan said "Before the dark times, before the empire." So of cores things will and should be shiny and new´╗┐ before the dark times. Things are going to be shiny and new when you first bought them. Believe it or not I'm sure even the Millennium Falcon was shiny and new when it was first made."

My response, re-watch the video and pay attention to Rule #1.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:27:55 pm

Typo; missing apostrophe on a title.

Beautifully conceived and executed. Very effective art style.

I agree more or less with many of the sentiments, but I don't agree 100 percent that SW is all about the frontier, exclusively. It's such a huge space operatic universe that every fan fills-in a LOT of their own backstory and details. The government nerds fixate on political machinations. The pew-pew-pew guys that like assplozionz like the space combat and stormtrooper shoot-outs, proto-engineers like robots and cool spaceships. Some like the spy-caper aspects of thieves and operatives and pirates and smugglers. Some just want to see extensive zoos of exotic animals and plants and aliens, and get a feel for their technologies and cultures and trade, etc.

It's not about "the frontier" so much as it is a stage to act out contemporary stories with other-worldly props and scenery dressing it all up. In THAT context, SW is a "WESTERN", but any western is generally itself, a contemporary tale put into a specific setting. You can replace six-shooters with lasers, red indians with Robots or Aliens, and Steam engines or horses with rocket ships, and still tell the same basic stories. This is why SW isn't technically sci-fi, but science FANTASY. You could re-tell it as a Western or a swashbuckler or a steampunk victorian adventure or a Bushido-focused martial arts epic. And someone probably HAS done all of these at least several times now. Star Wars is a Campbellian Heroic Saga set against a Fantastic background of a universe too big for any one person to grasp, at the core. The rest is just surface details. Sequels and spin-offs that honor the saga form will tend to succeed as well as to feel "of a piece" with the existing content.

I agree that by limiting the stories to reduced-complexity settings like a frontier, you can make telling the stories easier and maybe sometimes better. But there is no reason you can't tell a good story in the SW universe in the underbelly of Coruscant's massive arcologies, and there was a new SW role playing video game that was going to use that setting, but the mergers killed it off. Indeed, one of the draws of a frontier setting is to play it in tension against the built-up "civilized" population and government centers, having characters crossing back and forth between the two worlds, two sides of nature.


sS to complaining about midichlorians, really, this isn't a huge deal. Spirituality and magic can still be part of the story, even with a bio-mechanical origin. The important thing about The Force is really that you have to keep it consistent to keep it interesting. If it can do *anything*, that's weak storytelling. If it has limits and rules, now you have the underpinnings of a STORY.

Finally, yes, Han shoots first. Always.


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Stephen Smith
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:35:03 pm

[Mark]
The government nerds fixate on political machinations. The pew-pew-pew guys that like assplozionz like the space combat and stormtrooper shoot-outs, proto-engineers like robots and cool spaceships. Some like the spy-caper aspects of thieves and operatives and pirates and smugglers. Some just want to see extensive zoos of exotic animals and plants and aliens, and get a feel for their technologies and cultures and trade, etc.

You forgot the audience that just wants to see gold bikinis. :-)

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mike Cohen
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:22:34 pm

We have not had a Midichlorian discussion for a while.

Midichlorians obviously is a synonym of mitochondria.

Presumably any kind of "magic", or extraordinary ability, such as ESP or a good singing voice, has to do with genes. So in the SW universe, the Force is one such ability that is a genetic trait. The dominance of a gene's expression can skip generations, or just be dormant, kind of like Hermione being born to Muggle parents.

Anakin was born to a Muggle mom, presumably by Force-induced immaculate conception, or possibly by Darth Sidious giving Shmi Skywalker a dose of Galactic Rohypnol at the Mos Eisley Cantina.

So yeah, hearing this science stuff in Phantom Menace seemed to ruin the aura of the Force. But just like the shiny world of the Grand Republic turned into a galactic junkyard 20 years later, perhaps Obi-Wan figured that the Force would seem more alluring to Luke (the presumed last of the Jedi) by glossing over the science.

Imagine the following conversation:

Obi-Wan: Vader was seduced by the dark side of the force.

Luke: The Force?

Obi-Wan: Well the Force is a primarily dormant gene in everyone's DNA. But when expressed by a high midichlorian count, the being has many abilities. The higher the midichlorian count, the more powerful these abilities. Which reminds me, I have something here for you...

Luke: What's DNA?

Obi-Wan: Let me show you something. R2 - play this data tape:






Luke: So what, you're telling me Dewbacks come from ancient mosquitos?

Obi-Wan: You're missing the point. Gene expression determines your abilities as a Jedi. If you'll just let me put some of your blood on this blood analyzer I carry with me everywhere, I can tell you your reading..

Luke: Umm, I think I'm late for dinner. My uncle was right, you're a weirdo. Thanks for saving my life back there by the way, but I think you need to stay away from me.

Obi-Wan: Wait, just let me give you this shiny metal tube.

Luke: Uncle Owennnnnn...whaaaaaa

But I digress.

See, leaving the heavy science out of science fiction = space fantasy.

And another thing, in the video - yeah nice animation, but the text reads "the future is old". For the love of Greedo, Star Wars is not set in the future. The "future" suggests "our future". "the future" suggests "events happening after the present as related to ones own paradigm." SW happens "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" in case anyone perhaps missed that part of the movie while getting popcorn.

Finally, they talk about how SW should not be cute. Sorry, but Ewoks were designed to be cute, otherwise they would have been lizard people but it was easier in 1982 to make furry costumes. Chewie is actually pretty cute. R2 is cute. Leia is kinda cute. Han and Luke are presumably cute to the other 50% of the audience. Jawas are kinda cute. Snaggletooth is cute. Salicous Crumb is cute. Sy Snootles is cute. Get my drift? SW was designed for kids. We adults still love the originals because we have bursts of dopamine when we recall the happy feelings we had as kids when we saw these movies. Sure older people enjoyed the films in their original run as well, so perhaps the "cute" was not for everyone (although every teenager who saw SW probably loved Chewie and Han too).

But the original movies hold up 30+ years on, which is more than can be said for a lot of movies from the late 70's.

Anyway, fantastic hand-drawn scrap-booky snimation. I'd love to see a tutorial.

JJ knows what is at stake. He tried to get out of the project, supposedly, because he does not want to move to London for a year, but he'll get over it. My only advice - keep the lens flares and the use of your Star Trek cast to a minimum and lay off the talking aliens. Most of the aliens in the original movies were background players, except for Greedo, Ackbar, Jabba, Bib Fortuna and Yoda - all of them looked like organic non-cartoony beings. Other beloved aliens (Hammerbead, Nien Numb, Sand People, Boskk, Gamorrean Guards, Jabba's other henchmen) were background, non-speaking roles but were mostly humans with rubber heads and hands. Prequel talking aliens were too cartoony, perhaps because the CGI lets them be. But going back to Jurassic Park - Ian Malcolm says "just because you could, doesn't mean you should." Technology is dangerous in the wrong hands.

And stay out of conference rooms!


Ok, this is becoming an obsession (or became one 20 years ago), so I'll stop for now.

Mike Cohen


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Stephen Smith
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:57:48 pm

Yesterday night the video had about 5,000 views. This morning it has over 100,000. As for "Cute"...sure Chewie, R2 and etc. are cute but they are tough guys at the same time. Where as Jar Jar was just "cute" "comic relief", I think that is what they are trying to say. That you don't have to have some character that is just for kids in the movie, we are going to take are kids to see the film weather there is a "cute" character or not.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Scott Roberts
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 27, 2013 at 9:23:58 pm

Nice video, it makes you remember the good times, the puppet yoda times; and not the bad times, the CGI yoda times.

I would like it if it was REALLY frontier actually. I almost want the next Star Wars trilogy to take place in a post-apocalyptic world, where technology is being rebuilt and invented again. BUT, considering it pretty much takes place several years aftre Return of the Jedi, it wouldn't make much sense for that to happen.

BUT, my ultimate dream would not to have this be an overly fanboy heavy call back to every Star Wars reference ever made. Do something new, guy. Do something new... [watches Spock yell "KHAN!" in Star Trek Into Darkness again] ...uh oh...


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Mike Cohen
Re: A Letter to JJ Abrams
on Sep 27, 2013 at 9:32:41 pm

There was a casting advertisement revealed a while back which suggests the lead characters are going to be in the 15-25 range, suggesting that the main characters will be the Skywalkers and the Solos, with their parents being around for moral support and one-liners.

In the books, the offspring become the new Jedi order, with Luke in the Yoda role.

If it goes like that, assuming they are not fighting a cloned Darth Vader, it might be ok.

But if they are in fact fighting a cloned Darth Vader (they did reveal that Ian MacDiarmid is coming back) then it will quite possibly be an effort to sell more toys. Scott's note about JJ re-doing Khan is possibly bad news for Star Wars.

That being said, there was a good quote this week from David Goyer regarding the Ben Affleck Batman (Batfleck):

"At the end of the day, you still have to create something," Goyer said. "And if you try and think, 'Well what would the fans like?' then you stop being creative. It's sort of like, 'Where does it end?' You have to write the story that you want to write, and hope that people want to see it."

Goyer is correct. Lucas did not do what the fans wanted for the prequels, which was bad for the movies, but they guy stood by his principles and made billions of spacebucks. We've had this conversation lots of times.


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