Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jouko Ahola: Intergalactic Bounty Hunter

Speaking of crowd-sourced films, check out this slick promo for Jeremiah Harm. That's my friend Jouko swaggering around like a Schwarzeneggerian badass. He was recruited to play the worlds-weary alien hunter in this concept piece for Timo Vuorensola's follow-up to Iron Sky. (Who knew Finland could produce visual effects like this?)

There's no word yet on whether Jouko will have a role in the film itself, but he's been keeping busy. Next year he'll appear in several episodes of the History Channel's Vikings television series, playing the Finnish warrior Kauko. Considering that Jouko's performance in Kingdom of Heaven was one of the inspirations for my own Viking script, you can bet I'll be watching.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Olórin He Was in the West

Or rather the South, I suppose. No matter. The Hobbit is nigh, and Hawk is ready. He's not alone.

The city is amped for the film's world premiere. Banners of its characters -- Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Gollum, Elrond, Galadriel -- wave from the lampposts. Shadowy silhouettes of the Grey Wizard, the 13 dwarves, and their unlikely companion show up in shop windows; their color likenesses appear on Air New Zealand planes. An oversized stamp featuring Bilbo blankets the side of the New Zealand Post building.

Tomorrow perhaps 100,000 or more fans, denizens or wayfarers, will jam the streets outside the Embassy Theatre for the red carpet event and a glimpse of some of the film's stars. We'll be among them.

Over the weekend we visited the Hobbit Artisan Market set up in Waitangi Park. We also visited the Weta Cave, where we picked up a hat for our little Wizard. He's too young yet for the film itself, but it's been a real privilege to witness the proceedings through his eyes. We read the book earlier in the year ("Why does Gollum have only six teeth?"), after visiting the set of Hobbiton in Matamata. He's met a number of the cast and crew, including co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, for whom he recited Bilbo's "My dear Frodo" and the dwarves' song from the teaser trailer. And he's followed Peter's online production diaries. He understands that films are made, and that people make them. I'm okay with that.

Our journey to Wellington, to New Zealand, wasn't entirely unexpected. Certainly, no one knocked on our door and whisked us away in search of ancient gold. But the energy surrounding these films, the national pride, the community, and a young boy's excitement -- all of these are a most welcome surprise. It's a great time to be here.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Robert Bly: News of the Universe

Before I ever read a word of Robert Bly's, I heard his voice. Firm, sharp, and maybe even a bit rushed, out of excitement, or perhaps urgency. I was in Connecticut for a hiking trip with my friend Eric, riding along the back roads (there seemingly isn't any other kind in that state), and Robert was reading to us, telling the tale of the boy and Iron John.

The audio book crackled on the tape deck. Robert took us through the stages a man might go through in life, if he's lucky, and every now and again he would punctuate a point with a mad little swipe at his guitar.

Here, we thought, was a fellow who knew something.

Later that year, I read the book, and then read it again. The next year I attended a poetry retreat in Massachusetts led by Robert and Coleman Barks. The year after that I made it out to the Minnesota Men's Conference and joined the wasters, rhymers, minstrels and other vagabonds cavorting in the woods by a lake. I am a different and better man because of Robert's work.

Robert Bly: News of the Universe is a new film-in-progress by Haydn Reiss. I encourage you to have a look and consider supporting this crowd-sourced work. There's also a fine article about Robert and the project here.

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