Monday, May 20, 2013

Simon's Angels

            American Idol, The Voice, The X-Factor… Did I miss a show? Oh yes, America’s Got Talent; even though it’s open to all acts, not just singing, I guess it falls under the same category. This blog post is dedicated to the judges of such shows and the spiral of articles I’ve been reading this past week in regards to these high-paid divas, artists, and producers.

            I wrote a blog post last week about Randy Jackson’s departure from Idol after 12 seasons, as well as the high possibility that none of the remaining three judges will be asked to return. Since then, it looks like it may be a fact indeed. Mariah Carey has plans of touring, Nicki Minaj has been cast to star in Nick Cassavete’s new film (yes, you read correctly) and will be working on her third album, and Keith, well he says he would like to come back. Click here to read an article by Dave Holmes from Vulture in which he gives ten tips to the producers to make Idol better next season.

            On the other hand, not long after Shakira confirmed she will not be returning for season five of The Voice, a statement was released that both Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green (original judges for the first three seasons) will be back for the fall season; however, here’s the catch. Shakira (and Usher) will return for season six next spring

            Last but not least, here’s the main reason why I decided to write this blog post. Once again while religiously scrolling down the top news on IMDb this morning, I ran across an article that gave me hope in The X-Factor once more. It turns out Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato will be joined by two beautiful ladies; the first time a judging panel consists predominantly of females. The ladies are Kelly Rowland, founding member of Destiny’s Child, and Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio.
The tactic is interesting because all four judges stand in a different decade in terms of birth year and have judging experience. Demi Lovato (20) is a pop singer and judged last year’s season two. Kelly Rowland (32) is in the R&B genre and judged season eight of The X-Factor UK. Paulina Rubio (41) is an icon in Mexican pop music and is an original member of legendary band Timbiriche; she judged Mexico’s version of The Voice and is currently judging a kid’s version as well. And Simon Cowell (53), I need not to mention what he has under his belt.

            These news about "Simon's Angels" are way more exciting than finding out last year that Britney Spears would judge season two. My parents and I grew up listening to the music of Timbiriche and I was somewhat of a fan of Paulina during her solo career. It’s also interesting to see that the show will have three Hispanic personalities (Demi and Paulina, as well as returning host Mario Lopez).

            What are your thoughts on these tactics by both The Voice and The X-Factor? Feel free to share and comment below.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Michelle Yeoh Will Pick Up Her Sword Once More

            Hello everyone, smile, it’s Friday! I should be happy right? I have the weekend to vent off a little. There’s another charity event for Banned4Life at Drip Orlando tomorrow and I’ll finally be getting a chance to catch The Great Gatsby. However, my smile dropped for a second as I was scrolling through the Top News on IMDb earlier today. News are that a sequel to Ang Lee’s masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is in the works.

            I’m not really sure how to feel about it (Yes, I’m in a mood for quoting songs today). There are pieces of art that one just doesn’t and shouldn’t touch. I remember almost thirteen years ago, sitting at a Cinemark movie theater in Juarez, Mexico with my dad and being blown away by this cinematic work of art. The beauty of the landscapes, the choreography of the martial arts, and the story truly impacted me; it doesn’t matter if I was eight years old, that film really hit me. My dad and I liked it so much we even had dinner at “The Bamboo Palace.”

            From a fan’s point of view, I’m not excited because Ang Lee isn’t attached to the project and from the original cast, only Michelle Yeoh is confirmed to return. On the other side, from a producer’s perspective, it makes total sense with the dramatic rise of cinema in Asia, especially China, both by filmmakers and fans. Also, The Weinstein Company is involved, so chances of a screw-up are less.
Remember the Transformers blogpost I wrote a few weeks ago? If you didn’t catch it, click HERE to read it and understand more in depth what’s happening overseas. (There’s another relevant article that contains numbers. If you’re a producer or distribution rep, you may want to click HERE).

            I’ll keep you guys updated as more new regarding this sequel come to light. In the mean time, feel free to share with me your thoughts and why you are in favor or not. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Places Spark New Ideas

            I meant to write this blog post two weeks ago when I landed home from a getaway to beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, but I finally found some time to share with you what a unique experience it was.

            I know some you might be asking, “Ricardo, isn’t this a blog about film and television production?” Indeed I shall say. However, the reason I’m writing about my trip is because “taking some time to smell the roses” and getting away from your day-to-day routine refreshes one’s creativity. It doesn’t matter what department you work in, whether you are a director, a DP, or a sound mixer, it is important to visit new places. Places that will let you see things from a different perspective and will offer your ears new kinds of sounds. I hope you get what I’m trying to say. I could go on and on for paragraphs but don’t want to get too cliché; plus, people rarely have the patience to read stuff on the Internet nowadays.

            Anyway, some of the people my travel buddy and I came across, the landscapes we experienced, or the food our palettes had the pleasure of tasting sparked ideas for some good storytelling. Thanks to the architecture of places in historic Old San Juan, such as the San Felipe Castle or Mother Nature’s wonders in places such as El Yunque National Rainforest, gave us inspiration to capture some cool photographs. (Another reason I took a while to post this was because I had to go through the hundreds of pictures I took and select a few to share with you. I’m glad I took time with it).

            There is a good quote by Tim Kreider I read almost a year ago on post he wrote for The New York Times titled The 'Busy' Trap. It goes like this: "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."

            So now I would like to hear from you. Is there a place you have been to that has inspired you to write an awesome script, offered a different perspective in the way you shoot, or vented you for your next production management gig? Feel free to share and comment below.

All pictures were taken with a Nikon D3100. You may view them on my Facebook page by clicking here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


            Last night I attended a charity event for Banned4Life, a non-profit organization that recently launched in Orlando, Florida. The organization was started by Blake Lynch and his partner after he was denied to donate blood simply because he is gay. 

             “Earlier this year I went to donate blood in honor of my friend Emmy. She has sickle cell anemia and relies on blood donations to relieve her pain,” Blake says. Since coming up with the idea, the non-profit has grown dramatically and has gained national attention. It's been featured on Fox News, The Washington Times, Advocate, among others.
“To increase awareness of the policy we are going to be hosting blood drives around the nation where individuals can go to donate blood in place of those who are Banned4Life. It’s time to come together as a society so we can help save lives and end this outdated policy,” says Blake.

            So how did I hear about this non-profit? Famor Botero (Take Me Home) is a filmmaker I worked with on a music video last year and an alumnus from my alma mater; he invited me to attend the charity event. After learning about the importance of raising awareness of this issue, I decided to take pictures at the event and write a blog post about it. Also, Botero will be directing a documentary about the foundation of Banned4Life and he will be following their progress and growth around the nation.

            The reception turned out great. It took place at the Donnelly Gallery in Downtown Orlando. I met some amazing people with interesting stories, the night had a lounge feel thanks to the music provided by DJ Steve Fame, and the non-profit obtained some generous donations.

            The next event will be held on Saturday the 18th at Drip Orlando. Check out some pictures from last night's event. For more pictures, feel free to visit my Facebook page.

Documentary director, Famor Botero

Famor Botero, Blake Lynch, and I

DJ Steve Fame

Emmy and her daughter

Famor Botero with camera operator Rendy Ramos

Awesome bartenders

B4L Co-founder and guest

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Idol Veteran Leaves and Others Will As Well

            American Idol is undergoing a major facelift for its 13th season. An article from The Wrap describes the changes as “nuclear,” yet a different source I found at Vulture states it is nothing but a rumor. Regardless if it’s true or not, I see these changes as Idol’s ultimatum, which will determine if it can redeem itself or if its expiration date is reached.

            If you know me personally or have had conversations with me about the entertainment industry, you know I strongly think that Idol got cancer when Simon Cowell left, and it worsened when the panel of judges kept changing constantly. This inconsistency is what may have caused audiences to stop watching the show. Also, a cooler guy named The Voice joined the soccer team, leaving Idol with fewer friends.

            The original panel of judges consisted of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell, lasting for nine seasons. Kara DioGuardi’s presence in season eight and nine proved to be good. However, I believe the cancer began when Ellen DeGeneres (yes, Ellen) joined season nine. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez joined Randy Jackson for seasons ten and eleven, and it changed again for this year’s season with the addition of Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey.

American Idol Judges

American Idol Judges Season 9

American Idol Judges

American Idol Judges Season 12

            So what is all the nuclear talk about? As I’m writing this blog, Randy Jackson has just announced his departure. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It's been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures,” he told E! News. Also, a source close to Fox has stated that the company plans to completely change the judging panel. They want to invest less money in the judges and focus more on the talent. Mariah Carey received $18 million this season, the highest salary for a judge on Idol history. (Jennifer Lopez received $15 million and Nicki Minaj $12 million).

             Fox has a lot of work to do in regards to rebuilding their brand, getting back their target audience, and thinking carefully about how to change the show without completely getting rid of its roots. The source close to Fox also stated that longtime executive producer Nigel Lythgoe will be let go.

            Ratings declined 22 percent this season and hit an all-time low last Thursday with only 11 million viewers compared to 30 million viewers on episodes from season six. The cancer hasn’t killed Idol yet. It is a powerhouse for Fox, which brings $836.4 million in ad revenue. As I mentioned above, the show lost its authenticity when Simon Cowell left and a rapidly swap of current or very well known stars happened in the judging panel. Competition, mainly from The Voice, might be another factor, but I don’t think that’s the biggest reason. This season dragged and didn’t flow organically. I was expecting a lot from Mariah Carey; even though her critiques improved from the audition process all the way to the Top 12, she failed to meet my expectations. Keith and Nicki were good judges in the way they got their message across and evaluated the singers technically (although I will say Nicki gave too much importance to outfits). Randy, well, “he’s not in it to win it.”

            The finale for Season 12 is next week. What are your thoughts on this season and the show through time? Feel free to comment below and share this blog post.