Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peace, Hope, Love, & SOUL

Divine intervention made me pursue bringing "Nativity: The Pop Opera" to Cincinnati this coming Christmas season. In February 2009 a free issue of Ohio Magazine arrived in my office.  I usually just put the free magazines in the waiting room of the clinic.  The only reason I took this particular issue home was because the cover declared it was the "Green Issue" and had tips about how to live an eco-friendly lifestyle in Ohio. I like to do what I can to reduce-reuse-recycle, so I took it home to read.

That Ohio Magazine sat on my coffee table for at least a month before I finally picked it up to flip through the pages. Somewhere in the middle was an article titled "Picture Perfect" and it was about a guy from Dayton, Ohio who works as a storyboard artist for major Hollywood movies.  In fact, J. Todd Anderson has been the storyboard artist for every movie the Coen Brothers have made since "Raising Arizona" - one of my all-time favorite movies.  In fact, I'm a big fan of Coen Brothers' movies in general. So I read the entire article. I was completely intrigued by the fact that this guy with a major Hollywood connection still lived in Dayton.

Towards the end of the article, it mentioned J. Todd had written something called "Nativity: The Pop Opera" that had been performed at a church in Dayton.  What? A guy who works for the Coen Brothers wrote a "musical" about the birth of Jesus? Really? What inspired him to do such a thing? Was he a Christian? Did he lose a game of Truth or Dare? Was it his Nanna's last dying wish that he write something to rival "Godspell" or what?  I had to know.
Good thing I had honed my internet research skills at a former job digging up potential dirt on physicians recruited to work on military bases! The article also said J. Todd did a show on Dayton's public radio with another guy about the best movies ever made.  On the website for that show I found an email link.  So, I sent an email that basically asked for more info about "Nativity: The Pop Opera." I didn't think he'd actually respond himself.  Well, he DID respond himself.

J. Todd explained that the Dayton shows raised funds for Dayton Children's Hospital. He said that he had been considering approaching Cincinnati Children's Hospital to produce it as a fund raiser in Cincinnati. I told him that since I work at Cincinnati Children's, I could probably help! Specifically, I knew we needed help paying the costs of our summer camp for patients with cancer and bleeding disorders. Polly, the woman with a passion for making sure our patients got to go to camp, was thrilled to have a new fund raising option! But first we had to convince the hospital's Development office.  The only way to do that was to go see the show in Dayton.  Four of us went last December and we LOVED it!

"Nativity: The Pop Opera" is a magical, light-hearted pop opera that tells the Christmas story through the eyes of the angels. There is a band on stage and J. Todd wrote great songs in a variety of styles.  The wise men are actually part of the band and called the three wise-guys.  They look like ZZ Top.  The angels have super tall wings, designed by J. Todd.  The chorus of one song repeats, "Peace, Hope, Love & Soul" and that sums up the heart of this pop opera.  The whole show is mesmerizing and fun mixed with inspiring beauty. It is first class entertainment for the whole family! The success of this show will provide funding to send patients from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Cancer & Blood Diseases Institute for an unforgettable week at camp.  If you'd like to audition, get tickets or be an underwriter for production costs, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Art of the Storyboard

The Art of the Storyboard

Something I’ve noticed as I explain my screenplay visions to people, is that very few have any clue how much work goes into making a movie. Even crappy movies require tons of time, money, and effort to produce. One technique directors use to keep their film on schedule and on budget, and in most cases to secure financial backing so that they even HAVE a budget to work with- is to hire a storyboard artist.

This is what my friend J. Todd Anderson does and does with excellence. He sits with directors of movies (most consistantly, the Coen brothers) for long hours of long days for long weeks drawing sketches of the vision in their head. This is no easy task- often the directors have a difficult time describing the vision in their head in such a way that J. Todd can draw it accurately. J. Todd says he wads up and throws away hundreds of sketches while attempting to get the director’s vision drawn to satisfaction.

Recently, J. Todd was sharing stories about his work on the Men in Black movies. I asked him what it was like drawing some of the super imaginative aliens in the early stages. That, he admitted, was left to the CGI creatives, and he usually just drew a sketch of a figure about the size they wanted and labeled it things like “alien with 3 eyes” for the purpose of the storyboard.

I find the whole process fascinating. So, I am glad I have the opportunity to see him demonstrate this talent for a room full of art students tonight. If you can’t make it to his presentation on short notice, his sketches will remain on display through October 15th at the Art Academy of Cincinnati on Jackson Street.