Tag Archive for screening

Ruining It for the Rest of Us

Last night I attended a screening for the upcoming movie Dredd (very good, enjoyed it a lot, plenty of action, too violent for the youngsters, looking forward to some sequels) and ran into the latest round of backlash and silliness.

No Recording Devices

All Your Cameras Are Belong To Us!

I’ve been to many screenings, so I’m used to them saying that you have to turn off your phones or even saying you can’t bring them in. Sorry folks, they keep making better phones and with 720p HD video recording on your phone, it is getting easier for people to bootleg movies. And that’s really what they are looking for, recording devices.

First off, to all you people there who download shitty bootlegs recorded with camera phones: Stop. For one, there are better bootlegs out there. For another, THERE ARE BETTER BOOTLEGS OUT THERE. I’d say that again in bold and italics, but I figure CAPS should be enough.

Secondly, to the theaters: see the above paragraph. Very few people are downloading bootlegs made on iPhones. Mostly because almost no one is making bootlegs on iPhones. Most bootlegs are made in empty theaters by unscrupulous theater employees, or made as a digital copy right off the discs/camera/stream, however you are getting your digital copy of the movie. If the screening is months before release, then I further understand a desire for “security” to keep screen grabs from leaking onto the Internet, but when you are within a week of release and professional paid reviewers are already dropping bombs and spoiling your film, a kid who snaps a crappy photo of your movie is the last thing you should be worried about.

What really irked me though, was the insistence by security that not only were phones, cameras and such not allowed inside, but no iPods or Kindles or Nooks or any electronic device. That’s right, even devices that do not have cameras because they are not made with cameras, were not being allowed inside. Certainly this was because of lazy – it’s easier to ban everything than to actually know things and selectively exclude devices that are capable of recording. On top of that, though, is the fact that in all the screenings I’ve been to the only thing that ever needs to happen is for security to say, “Put all phones on silent or vibrate. If you use an electronic device during the movie, or a device you have makes noise, you will be removed from the theater.” and then stand in the back of the theater, watching and listening. When that happens, no one pulls out their phones to make calls or text or play games. Because, by and large, people don’t suck when given simple logical instructions.

To top that off, the movie was in 3D. You cannot, to my knowledge, record a 3D movie projected onto a screen with a handheld camera and preserve the 3D. At best, you slap one of the polarized lenses on the camera and record only the left or right eye image, capturing it in 2D – but it will be much worse quality than just capturing the film in straight 2D.

And further insult to injury, the security staff was willing to “bag and tag” phones, but they offered no insurance. One guy actually said, to the crowd, “If you lose your ticket or we lose your phone, you will not get a replacement. It’s just gone.” You know, there is a reason that I keep a photo of myself on my phone at all times, that way I can walk someone through unlocking the phone and opening the photo to prove it’s either mine or someone who knows me. But if that wasn’t enough, the parking garage at this particular theater is a typical parking garage, and thus on your parking ticket states “The management of this garage is not responsible for damage or theft of any vehicle or its contents.” So when the security guys were offering to let people out of line to go put their phones and Kindles and iPads in their cars, they were basically saying “You can’t take those in the theater, with you, where they are safe, you need to put them in your car, where the garage has specifically stated that they aren’t responsible for them.”

I guess people could just not bring their phones and things with them, but who goes around without a phone these days?

Anyway, I’m sure we got this terrible treatment by security because some schmuck somewhere tried to record a movie with his iPhone and then uploaded it to YouTube. If you are that guy, just know, you are ruining the movie going experience for everyone. Cut it out.

Movie Round-Up: February 19th, 2010

Shutter Island:

It’s a Scorsese film.  It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earl Haley, Ted Levine, and Elias Koteas.  It’s a horror, thriller, mystery movie.  I’ve just listed a whole mess of reasons why I should want to see this film, but for some reason I’m just not excited.  Perhaps it is because I’m worried it is going to be crap despite all the promise.  Scorsese’s The Departed was the same way, tons of reasons why I should rush out and see it, but I didn’t, and when I finally caught it on DVD I was disappointed.  I mean, I enjoyed the movie, but I thought it fell apart at the end.  So here I am looking at the trailers for Shutter Island and all I can think is “I bet it doesn’t end well.”  I probably won’t see this one this weekend, but I’ll be sure to catch it on DVD when it inevitably comes out later this year.  But who knows… if the reviews are good enough, I might make time to see it next weekend.

Saint John of Las Vegas:

Technically, this movie doesn’t release this week.  It had been making the festival rounds and it had a limited release back at the end of January (probably in two theaters), but if you look around you might find a showing (in LA) or a screening somewhere.  I saw it at a free screening this week thanks to the people at FilmMetro.  Anyway, it is the story of a man (Steve Buscemi) who has a gambling problem (he loses a lot) who works as an insurance claims adjuster in Albuquerque that asks for a raise and gets promoted to fraud investigator and has to head to Las Vegas to look into a claim.  I’ve been told this movie is inspired by the book Dante’s Inferno.  Having never read that book, I can’t be sure.  This movie isn’t splashy or action packed.  It is a slow film about a guy trying to deal with his vices and make his way in the world.  At times it is funny, other times it is sad, and overall I can’t really say the movie is good, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to pay for this one, but if you can find a free screening or catch it on Netflix at some point in the future, maybe you might enjoy it.

Movie Round-Up: February 5th, 2010

It’s communications week at the cinema…

Dear John:

Nicholas Sparks strikes again!  He showed up for a Q&A at another screening I attended once and talked about how he wrote most of his books in around eleven weeks each.  The man has found his niche and he knows how to tug the heartstrings.  That said, of all his books turned to films, this one has got to be the weakest.  After seeing a screening of this, I felt the leads just don’t have much chemistry.  I found that I really didn’t care whether their love survived or not.  On the other hand, the relationship between the titular John and his father was very well done.  Richard Jenkins is a fantastic actor, and the movie is almost worth paying to see just for him.  Almost, but not quite.

From Paris With Love:

I saw the trailer for this film a while back.  Travolta with a shaved head, big earring and that goatee just looked too weird.  And the movie itself just seemed odd.  The only thing that piqued my interest at all was it being the same team that brought us Taken.  I saw a screening of this film last week.  It was far better than I expected.  The first few moments were slow, but once Travolta arrived the movie kicked into high gear and never let up.  This movie was so exciting and so fun, I’d absolutely say it is worth the price of admission.  Buy a ticket, take a seat and hold on.

The Screening Secret Handshake

Once upon a time, I thought that in order to see an advance screening of a movie certain things had to occur.  A) You had to live in LA/Hollywood.  Or 2) You had to know someone on the inside.  Or D) You had to be lucky.

In my younger days, I’d only ever seen “Stay & See” screenings.  That’s where you’d pay to see one movie and then be allowed to stay and see a screening of a not yet released film, or you’d pay to see a screening of a soon to be released film and then get to stay and see some movie that’s already been out a couple of weeks.  The last of these I went to was in 1993, and it was Son In Law (yeah, the Pauly Shore movie) coupled with either Life With Mikey or For Love Or Money (both Michael J. Fox movies).  I can’t remember which was the screening and which was the released film.  But it doesn’t matter.  Anyway, a few years ago, I finally realized number 2 from above and met someone on the inside, someone who worked for a movie promotion company.  Through them I got to see a few movies, but there were times they couldn’t get passes, or couldn’t get enough for everyone.  But at some of these screenings, I met people who let me know that while number 2 was good, D was better and you could minimize the luck part of the equation.

People have asked me, in person, in email and on message board, “How do you to see so many movie screenings?”  Partly because I just want to, and partly because of the FTC ruling, I’ll tell you.  The answer is… I Googled.  Obviously, I don’t use Google to find passes anymore, but it is where I started.  “free screenings” was what I searched for and it lead me to a number of really awful websites and blogs, but by doing the legwork and looking through many of those facades, I found a few places, legitimate places, to acquire passes to free movie screenings.

Before I go on, keep in mind that I live in Atlanta, and these sites are the ones that best service me as someone who lives in Atlanta.  If you Google and search yourself, you can probably find other sites that better service where you live.

Further, if you do get passes to movie screenings, remember, you are a guest and are getting to see a movie for free.  So, don’t be an asshole.  Always put your phone on silent, don’t answer it, don’t text.  Don’t talk during the movies.  Don’t cut in line.  Don’t let twenty friends cut in line with you in front of the people behind you who managed to get there on time (you know, letting one or two people join you in line is fine, but when you have to ask the line to move back and make room, you’ve gone overboard).  Be kind, be courteous, and enjoy your free movie.

That said…

My current favorite place is Shakefire.  They do reviews for movies, music, TV and video games.  They also have columnists who occasionally talk about other stuff.  They have a community built around their forums.  And of course, they give out passes for movie screenings.  You have to join their site to have a chance, and they seem to favor people who participate in the forums over people who are just there to leech passes.  But hey, if you are there for the passes, the least you can do is go post about movies you’ve seen and what you thought.  The whole point of screenings is to get the word out anyway, so, get the word out.

CHUD is another place on the net for reviews and such, and they also give out passes and do other contests, but you’ll have to work a little more for these as they usually ask a question or two you need to answer in order to enter.

Film Metro is a good site for screenings, but they don’t give them out.  Instead you have to keep an eye out for when they become available and claim them.  Sometimes you get to know when, sometimes it just happens.

Another big player is GoFoBo.  This is a site actually run by a couple of movie promotion companies.  With them, sometimes screening just open up and you can grab a pass or two.  Mostly, however, you need a reservation code.  Codes are given to various websites or radio stations or newspapers or other outlets as part of promotions intended to drive traffic.  People used to post GoFoBo codes all over the internet, but GoFoBo has been cracking down lately and convincing people to post links to the partner websites instead.  Finding links for these partners is sort of hit and miss searching, but one place that seems to get a steady flow of them is this thread over at FatWallet.  The FatWallet thread is also a good place to find out which radio stations or other websites in your area give out movie passes.  That link will always take you to the last post in the thread, so you may have to read back to see anything recent you may have missed.  Do them a favor, and make sure you actually visit partner sites and look around, the codes are meant to drive traffic, and a couple minutes of your time is worth the free movie pass you just got.  GoFoBo also runs groups on Facebook, just search there for screenings or gofobo.

Also don’t forget to check out local publications like Creative Loafing or other print media who often have pass pickups at their offices, or will post ads about pass pickups at local businesses.

Anyway, there you have it.  I check those sites about once a day, maybe twice, and in general I end up seeing a screening a week (though sometimes there are weeks with none, and sometimes there are weeks with three or four or more).  To me, the key here is that if you go to see screenings, make sure you tell people about the movies you saw.  Tell friends, post on message boards, write a blog.  The screenings are meant to get the word out about the movie, so, get the word out.

Movie Round-Up: May 8th, 2009

Next Day Air:

I didn’t get a chance to see a screening of this one. It does look funny though and I’ll probably see it at some point…

Star Trek:

… but let’s face it, the movie to see this weekend is Star Trek.  I did get to see a screening of this one, and to let you know what I thought, I plan on seeing it again in the theater.

When I first heard they were going to reboot the franchise by heading back to the academy days of the original crew I couldn’t think of it being worth seeing in any way.  Too many reboots have just waived a magic wand, ingored everything that came before and started over, usually poorly.  Of couse, Batman Begins showed that a relaunch could be good, even awesome, and Star Trek follows that mold.  The team behind the new Trek have crafted a tale that starts at the beginning, but in a way that remembers and even honors the past films and TV shows.  In a word, it is fantastic.  Completely worth the price of admission.