Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blade Runner the Blu-ray Way - An Inspiration

So, since I'm sending out copies of Enter the Dark to film fests and some of them will accept Blu-ray as a screening format I realized it was time to get a Blu-ray burner.  And since my old friend Steve Jobs, in all his grandiose wisdom has decreed that storage is so 20th century and all data shall live on the cloud and therefore is not supporting Blu-ray in any real way, I was forced to get a big ol' clunky external Blu-ray burner.  So now I can burn discs, but guess what?

Can't play em back.  It kinda defeats the purpose of sending them to festivals if I can't tell if my Blu-ray disc is a beautiful, pristine Hi-Def version of my film or a blue-tinged coaster.

So there must be some sort of Blu-ray software player for the Mac right?


Effing Steve Jobs and his holier than thou bull$!++, ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME??!?!

Ok, fine - so I start looking at Blu-ray players and realize that I can just get a PS3 and be able to not only play back Blu-ray discs, but waste a lot of time goofing off with video games as well.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

So I get the PS3, and after an hour or so of tinkering to get it working right I look around for a Blu-ray disc to play.

... uh...

...And just when I'm about to give myself a full face plant for being so stupid not to have a Blu-ray disc to play I remember that cool gift I got like two Christmases ago.

That's right, the big ol' 5 disc limited edition Voight-Kampff suitcase Blade Runner sooper dooper Blu-ray extravaganza.

Now when I originally got this, I immediately watched all the DVD extra features but sadly was unable to actually watch the HD version of the movie as I lacked the vitally important Blu-ray player.

So now I've got PS3 via HDMI, pushing 1080p into my Panny Plasma - welcome to the 21st century my friend...

And oh....  It looks so good.

 I can't tell you how many crappy copies I've seen of this film - director's cuts, original cuts, alternate cuts - VHS, DVD...  and now here is the effing industrial wasteland skyline of LA - and an amazing huge frigging eyeball with massive flameballs reflected in his gaze.

And the Tyrell Corp building... wow...

Yes, that is my jaw hitting the floor and I'm remembering what it was like to watch this on the big screen the first time...  It was so beautiful and effing cool, you just had to laugh.

Thank you Ridley.

You know when you have those moments, when you see or hear something that is so frigging amazing it makes you want to stop what you are doing and make some art - total inspiration.

And then there are other times when you see something so amazing and perfect you kinda go - well, what's the point?  I could never come close to that...

Shortly before Stevie Ray Vaughn's untimely tragic death, he played a series of concerts with Jeff Beck.  My buddy Charles and I went to see them at the Oakland Coliseum.  Now, we had seen Jeff Beck play with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page a few years earlier (for the A.R.M.S. concert), and it was clear to everyone that Beck had blown everyone else off the stage.  The dude was that good (and still is to this day).  We had also seen Stevie play a couple of times and knew what to expect from the Texas guitar-slinger, so we were looking forward to a night of major fretburning.

Stevie came out and killed it - absolutely killed it.  It was like he was directly plugged into the source, receiving signals from elsewhere and he was just a conduit for perfect artistic expression.  He was that on.  I guess Jeff Beck played that night - I don't really remember.

Now at this time, Charles and I had both been dabbling on the guitar for a few years and we knew a few things.  I myself had spent a year or so picking up Stevie Ray chops and so I was very familiar with his ferocious, yet beautiful blues-based style.  But this was different.  He went further - so much further and left me with the feeling of, "why bother - I will never, ever be that good."

After the concert Charles was jacked up, "Wow, that was frigging amazing!!  I totally want to pick up my guitar right now and play!"  I was like, "Are you kidding, I never want to play again - why bother?"

Of course I did pick up the guitar again eventually - but I'll never forget that night.

A short while after that Charles and I went to see some new guitar-geek play at the Fillmore in San Francisco.  He was some dude who was getting a lot of buzz because he had taught a couple of high-profile guitar players, and his new album had just come out which sounded like a mad blend of Van Halen, ZZ-Top and Allan Holdsworth.

His name was Joe Satriani.
I was expecting to see a typical clinic of frenetic tapping, speed-picking and feedback-laced harmonic squeals.  What I saw was another amazing performance by an artist completely tapped in.  He had this whole Hendrix vibe that was totally unexpected.  Charles and I squeezed our way to the front to get a better view.  Everyone in the audience was a guitar geek and we were all staring at his left hand - soaking in the secrets to his incredible playing.

Something in my brain clicked.  A revelation.  I understood.

Charles and I left that night totally blown away.  I was like, "That was friggin amazing!  All that stuff he was doing - I could finally SEE what was going on!  I want to go pick up my guitar right now and play!"  Charles was like, "Why bother - I'll never be that good..."

That's just the way it happens sometimes...  One man's inspiration is another man's realization that he should put away his childish dreams in the presence of such pure talent.

As I sat there and watched the opening scenes of Blade Runner in all it's Hi-Def glory, I had one of those moments.  It made me want to pick up a camera.  I want to make a great sci-fi noir movie, bathed in light and shadow.  I want it to be breathtakingly beautiful and hauntingly sad.

Will it be as good as Blade Runner?  Probably not.  But just by trying, it could be better than most of the uninspired movies produced by Hollywood.  If I could somehow tap into the source that Stevie Ray and Joe and Ridley drew from, maybe someday someone will watch one of my movies and say "Damn! I wanna make something like that", while their buddy says, "Why bother... it'll never be that good."


  1. If only we could find out how to tap into this mysterious 'source', all our problems with not being good enough would be solved! Haha. I totally get what you mean.

  2. Perhaps you are that good and just don't realize it. I haven't met an artist yet who believes that what he's creating is brilliant, and some of them truly have been creating brilliant art. Anyway, you've got three film festivals who believe that that little piece of film you entered was good enough...

  3. I remember both of those shows like it was yesterday instead of years and years ago. I also recall those conversations.

    That's the sort of stuff that stays with you.

  4. *I want to make a great sci-fi noir movie*
    You want to make Cyberpunk. I like that.
    Blade runner influenced me like few other movies have, so i`ll pick up a blu-ray copy if i can get my hands on it. I was a friggin toddler when it was on the big screen. :(