Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tati Documentary to have U.S. Premiere at Yerba Buena Center

ZAP recently posted the new documentary by Michael House "The Magnificent Tati."

The film will be screened during a film series at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in late January. The documentary will be shown on Sunday, January 24 at 2pm, and the director Michael House will answer questions immediately afterwards.


Is there anything new to be said about the French comic performer and filmmaker Jacques Tati and his eccentric alter ego Monsieur Hulot? Recognized internationally as one of the most innovative and creative filmmakers of his time, much of Tati’s work is about the humor of humanity attempting to exist in an increasingly mechanical society. He broke apart and then reinvented slapstick comedy. His films are just as relevant as ever, if not more so, in this new dehumanized digital age. For those who are new to his work, you will discover one of the masters of modern cinema. And for those who already know him, this is a rare chance for re-discovery of films which easily stand up to, and benefit from, repeated viewings.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Race to Nowhere on track at ZAP

ZAP is helping Bay Area first-time filmmaker Vicki Abeles get her documentary feature "Race to Nowhere" finalized for HD screenings and for DVD release.

Race To Nowhere is a groundbreaking documentary film that examines education, childhood and the unintended consequences of the achievement-obsessed way of life that permeates American education and culture. Unrelenting pressure, whether from well-intentioned parents, teachers, national leaders or from children themselves, is creating a generation suffering from unprecedented levels of stress, depression and burnout.

Vicki Abeles, a mother of three and former corporate attorney, found herself questioning the changes she saw in her children as they navigated days filled with school, homework, tutoring and extracurricular activities. After a series of wake-up calls in her family and community, including the suicide of a young girl, Vicki set out to discover why children’s lives more closely resemble high-powered CEOs' than the relaxed, carefree lives of children from the past.

The filmmakers take viewers to schools across the country, featuring the stories of students who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t learning anything substantive and college professors and business leaders concerned that incoming young people lack the skills needed to succeed in our complex times.

Race To Nowhere is a call to families, educators, experts and policy makers to examine current assumptions on how to prepare our national youth to become the healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens of the next century.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ZAP Posts Justine Shapiro's New Iran Documentary

Berkeley native Justine Shapiro who co-produced the landmark 2002 film "Promises" has locked her edit on her new film "My Summer in Tehran." ZAP is conforming, color grading and designing titles and will online the film shortly.

About The Film:

A personal, poetic and provocative documentary film, My Summer in Tehran takes American filmmaker Justine Shapiro and her six-year old son into the lives of three Iranian families: a religious, conservative family with ties to the government; a modern, secular family; and a single mom who is also an actress. This remarkable journey introduces American audiences to the fascinating, and yet strikingly familiar home of our enemy," where we discover that everyday life is never separate from ever-watchful eye of the government.

With stunning cinematography, editing by renowned Iranian editor Mostafa Kherghehpoush, and featuring original music by French-Iranian composer Christophe Rezai, the film reveals a city and a culture where modernity and tradition sit side by side. 85 minutes, in English, Farsi, and French with English subtitles.

The documentary is in the final stages of post-production. It will be released in early 2010.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gump Blu-ray On Sale

Forrest Gump (on Blu-ray) went on sale a few days ago. Very little fanfare. No launch events. Not much press coverage either. (The item reprinted below was published yesterday.) Unlike previous high-profile DVD projects, this one seems to have gotten very little support (ads or PR) from the mothership. Reviewers and periodicals did not receive advance copies which seems to be the new policy at many of the studios in these new economics! (Shoot in foot!)

Click here to view an excerpt from one of our featurettes, "Little Forrest."

A detailed description of the release (and ZAP's contributions) can be found here.

Below is an clipping from a review at Blu-ray.com.
Primarily descriptive, fairly complete. All of the documentaries and featurettes were produced here at ZAP earlier in 2009.

Forrest Gump Chocolate Box Giftset Blu-ray

Paramount Pictures | 1994 | 142 mins | Rated PG-13 | Nov 03, 2009 (New Release)

Included on disc one is Musical Signposts to History (1080p, 3:54) featuring Rock Journalist Ben Fong-Torres, Director Robert Zemeckis, and Music Supervisor Joel Sill discussing Forrest Gump's soundtrack and score and how the popular songs match up to the scenes they accompany. Also featured are Michelle Phillips from "The Mamas and the Papas," Roger McGuinn and David Crosby from "The Byrds," and Ray Manzarek from "The Doors." Once this introductory piece concludes, viewers will be prompted to choose a mode through which to view the film with the Musical Signposts feature. Modes include "Manual," "Auto," and "Selective." When activated, the film will stop and Ben Fong-Torres and others will discuss the music accompanying each particular scene.

Moving onto disc two, viewers will first find Greenbow Diary (1080p, 25:59), an excellent piece that chronicles the production of the film from the perspective of a bystander. Viewers will be transported to the set to witness the construction of various shots, and the piece also features interview clips with the cast and crew discussing the scenes being filmed. The Art of Screenplay Adaptation (1080p, 26:58) looks at the fascinating process of translating novel to screen and the lengthy process that was the creation of Forrest Gump, including the difficulty of the special effects, the films transition from Warner Brothers to Paramount, the many drafts of the screenplay, and more. The piece includes Forrest Gump author Winston Groom and others speaking on the process, from studios seeking to discover material not even on bookstore shelves to the process of adapting a screenplay from the novel, which may require changes to make the story work on-screen. This is a fantastic supplement that will enthrall anyone with interest in writing, filmmaking, or Forrest Gump.

Getting Past the Impossible: 'Forrest Gump' and the Visual Effects Revolution (1080p, 27:04) is another solid feature that examines the creation of some of the film's visual effects. It chronicles Industrial Light & Magic's contributions to the film, offers a fascinating history of optical effects, and Forrest Gump's groundbreaking visuals that advanced the field considerably, with emphasis on several particular shots, including Forrest's meeting with John Kennedy, the removal of Lt. Dan's legs, and the Washington, D.C. segments. Little Forrest (1080p, 14:48) looks at the casting and contributions of Actor Michael Conner Humphreys, including his voice that influenced Tom Hanks' performance. A now-adult Humphreys also recalls his experiences in working on the film. An Evening with 'Forrest Gump' (1080p, 55:08) is a discussion with Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Eric Roth, and Robert Zemeckis discussing the film at the University of Southern California.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"The Magnificent Tati" Posts at ZAP

Around six months ago, we got a cold e-mail inquiry from filmmaker Michael House then in production on his new documentary on the life and work of the great French film auteur Jacques Tati. Michael hails from the Bay Area but has been an expat living and working in London for many years. He yearned to return to the Bay to finish his film. The subject matter alone got me interested. ZAP's scope includes motion graphics, on-line HD conforming, color grading and sound design. The film is scheduled to air on the British SkyTV network sometime early next year. The Magnificent Tati will premier at the "Totally Tati" retrospective film series in Edinburgh on November 26. All six of Tati's masterworks will being showcased in an ongoing French Film Festival in Europe.

I have loved Tati's great films since college, and I was thrilled when The Criterion Collection released the controversial and fascinating "Play Time" (1967) on Blu-ray disc earlier this year. Here is just one fascinating factoid: Jacques Tati, a performing mime artist and showman had been cast as a back-up to play the mime "Baptiste" in Marcel Carnet's 1945 landmark Les enfants du paradis, in case the great
Jean-Louis Barrault had been unavailable to take the part. Michael's documentary is full of fascinating historical and aesthestic info, chronicling the amazing career of a well-known filmmaker whose output was actually very small: just six films. We hear from Tati fans Black Francis/Frank Black (formerly of the Pixies) and Craig McCracken, creater of the Powerpuff Girls cartoon series; we learn that every episode has at least one visual reference to a Tati film!

From the filmmaker's website: Sit Up Straight Films

‘The Magnificent Tati’
a feature factual film on the life and work of iconic French director/comedian Jacques Tati. One of cinemas greatest artists, Tati pushed cinema to its limits with six feature films that redefined how we experience movies. ‘The Magnificent Tati’ will be the first English language feature to explore the Tati legacy, produced in collaboration with the Jacques Tati Archive in Paris, this film will offer unprecedented access to the world of Tati. The film examines Tati’s life and work and the massive influence his films have had on contemporary art, film, music and design. Shot on RedOne.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jonathan Parker's (Untitled) Opens later this Month

A new comedy by Jonathan Parker starring Adam Goldberg and Marley Shelton
(Untitled) will be released by Samuel Goldwyn Films in New York and Los Angeles on October 23rd and in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and most major cities on November 6th.

We talked about ZAP's participation in the finishing of this independent feature film in an earlier blog entry.

Haven't seen the trailer yet? Watch it here.

And here is the film's official site.

Friday, October 2, 2009

ZAP Posts Documentary on the History of the Global Anti-Apartheid Struggle

Occasionally, we have an opportunity to become involved with a film who's subject is so compelling that we drop everything to jump in. Clarity Films "Have You Heard From Johannesburg: The Bottom Line" is one.

The film will premiere at the British Film Institute's 53rd London International Film Festival at the end of October. ZAP is providing HD post production facilities for their final push.

Here is a synopsis from the London Film Festival's site:

Have You Heard From Johannesburg: The Bottom Line

As the British anti-apartheid movement celebrates it 50th birthday, a look at how grass roots movements mobilised during the 80s to enforce economic sanctions on South Africa.

2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the British anti-apartheid movement, and in timely fashion documentary maker Connie Field (who directed the memorable The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter and Freedom on My Mind) is working on a series of films which tell the story of the global anti-apartheid activity. The Bottom Line explores the role of money, specifically how grass-roots organisations mobilised to cut the South African government off from their financial allies in the West. Through a widely-sourced collection of archive material, Field charts the history of the power of collective action, which culminated in a number of major companies withdrawing from South Africa during the 1980s. From the employees of Polaroid and General Motors in the USA to the massed ranks of British protestors boycotting Shell and withdrawing their money from Barclays Bank, all refuse to let it be business as usual with the repressive regime. Interviews with the key players, including British activists and senior figures in UK-based banks, add fascinating insights into just how effective the economic isolation of South Africa was.

Sandra Hebron


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speaking In Tongues - A Documentary on Immersion Education


ZAP recently helped San Francisco filmmakers Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider of Patchworks get their wonderful new documentary "Speaking in Tongues" out on DVD. The film won an audience award at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival. Ken Schneider has edited several short films at ZAP, and it was a great pleasure to help Ken and Marcia get their beautiful topical film out to a broad audience.

The heated debate over bilingual education usually takes place in courtrooms, at academic conferences and in editorial missives. At its most vitriolic the "English only" camp skews toward xenophobia and racism, while the opposition at times sounds utopian themes of American global economic resurgence with the aid of multilingual classrooms. Often neglected in this discourse is the firsthand experience of students, an oversight that veteran documentarians Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider beautifully rectify with their latest effort.

Closely following four very different local public-schoolers through an academic year, they draw on subtle nuances of the kids' stories to illustrate the complex shades and permutations of bilingual schooling. Two children are placed in immersion programs to retain their native tongues while learning English, and the other two are in the reverse situation. Their parents list both familiar and surprising reasons for enrolling their children, but each remains a strong proponent of the programs despite criticism from extended family, friends and a loud chorus of English-only activists. Even while dismissing common barbs, the families must confront unique challenges both humorous and serious.

With San Francisco becoming the first city to mandate access to bilingual opportunities for all public schoolchildren, this thought-provoking documentary could hardly be timelier.

—Ilya Tovbis

San Francisco International

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ZAP helps "Repo Man" director Alex Cox finish "Repo Chick" Just in time for VENICE

Legendary, eccentric, Liverpudlian director Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy [1986] Walker [1987]) has made a sort-of follow up to his remarkable 1984 film Repo Man finalizing image and sound in the Bay Area. Richard Beggs (who mixed Repo Man and Walker) joined another long-time Bay Area Cox colleague, composer Dan Wool, to create a sound mix to accompany the picture.

The large cast was filmed almost entirely in front of green-screen with animated and static backgrounds and transportation added in post by a team of brilliant animators, model-makers and digital compositors, many of them from the Tippett Studio (in Berkeley).
Model makers? I could tell you that the action is set in a model railroad world, a table-top experiment by the CIA, but that might be giving away too little.

Stalinist ZAP jumped in at the last minute to transform the highly anarchic and de-centralized work flow with HD color grading, mastering and high definition outputs. Producer Simon Tams had to stand by the HDCAM VTR at ZAP awaiting a final master tape to take away to the Venice Biennale for the world premiere!

Shortly, we'll post a clip from this weird and wonderful film on the ZAP screening room.
Meanwhile, here are some groovy links:



Best DVD of 2008...Again!!!

Best Classic/Catalog Title:The Godfather:
The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount

That, according to Reuters and Home Media Magazine! (see below)
Was there a dinner?
Did we have our ZAP-monogrammed tuxedos pressed in time?
Were we invited? Did we even know about this award?
But still darned proud!

The Fifth Annual DVD Critics Awards honor the top DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles
from 2008. The awards, presented by Home Media Magazine, are traditionally held
during the summer Home Entertainment Summit, which has been delayed this year.

"We still wanted to honor the best titles on DVD and Blu-ray as soon as
possible," said Thomas K. Arnold, Home Media Magazine publisher and executive
producer of the Summit.

The delay allowed organizers to create special categories for an online consumer
vote, a first in the history of the DVD Critics Awards.

More than 130 entries were judged by a panel of critics and journalists.
Submitted titles also were placed in eight special categories for the consumer
vote, bringing the total number of awards to 21.

Warner Home Video`s The Dark Knight won Best Theatrical Title, plus the consumer
categories Best Action Title, Best Superhero Title and Consumer Favorite.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment`s Pixar release Wall-E also fared well,
winning for Best Animated Title and taking the consumer vote for Best Sci-Fi

In all, Warner won five awards, while sister company HBO took three. Disney
earned four awards.

2009 DVD Critics Award Winners:

Title of the Year:The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Theatrical Title:The Dark Knight, Warner
Best TV DVD:Mad Men: Season One, Lionsgate
Best Classic/Catalog Title:The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount
Best Collection/Multidisc Set: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Nonfiction Title: Young @ Heart, 20th Century Fox
Best Animation Title: Wall-E, Walt Disney Studios
Best Kidvid Title: Tinker Bell, Walt Disney Studios
Best Nontheatrical Title:Stargate: Continuum, Fox/MGM
Best Extended Cut/Director`s Cut:Step Brothers, Sony Pictures
Best Extras: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Universal Studios
Best Packaging:Masters of Horror: Season Two, Anchor Bay
Best Blu-ray Disc:Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution, 20th Century Fox

ZAP Revisits "Forrest Gump" - Streets November 3!

Paramount has announced November 3 as the street date for the new Blu-ray release of "Forrest Gump.

In July, we finished work on a new greatly expanded 15th anniversary re-release of Robert Zemeckis' 1994 film "Forrest Gump." The special 2-disc Blu-ray only package will hit the street sometime in late 2009.

ZAP produced over 180 minutes of brand new high-definition content on a wide range of Gump-related topics, in collaboration with Paramount Home Entertainment. We had terrific support and cooperation from our neighbors at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic here in the Presidio (ILM was responsible for those jaw-dropping composite effects sequences in the film), and from Imagemovers, Robert Zemeckis' own company based in Carpinteria and Novato.

Extras for this release include:
  • Greenbow Diary
  • The Art of Screenplay Adaptation
  • Getting Past Impossible - Forrest Gump and The Visual Effects Revolution
  • Musical Signposts to History - Music as "Chronological Set Design" for the Times of Forrest Gumpwith an introduction by rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres
  • Little Forrest
  • An Evening with Forrest Gump (a panel discussion at USC with Tom Hanks, Bob Zemeckis, Gary Sinise and screenplay author Eric Roth)
Stay tuned for more news on the release.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

ZAP Moving Uptown!

On March 1, ZAP will be moving to the beautiful San Francisco Film Centre located in the historic Presidio.
Our new home will be on the south end of Building 39, adjacent to Rough House Editorial.

The ZAP facility will include our Avid Media Composers (HD and SD) and Unity storage area network, Final Cut Pro stations, After Effects and Pro-Tools in a dedicated 5.1 mix room. We will continue offering our premier DVD creative, compression and authoring services as before. We will be sharing some facilities and equipment with our friends at Rough House, who have a fully equipped HD and SD machine room.

As of March 2, our new mailing address will be:

ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions
San Francisco Film Centre
39 Mesa Street, Suite 113 - The Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129

Please update your rolodexes (or databases).
Our email and phones are unchanged.

We look forward to seeing you in our beautiful new tranquil location!

Kim Aubry

ZAP Zoetrope Aubry Productions LLC - USA
(415) 788-7900 Main

Friday, January 16, 2009

(Untitled) Premieres at Palm Springs

Jonathan Parker's new film (Untitled) [yep, that's the name of the picture] had its world premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival last week.

You can read the Variety review by clicking on this link. Here is an excerpt:

Palm Springs



Shifting from the jet-black absurdism of "Bartleby," director Jonathan Parker jabs and pokes at the New York contemporary art world with some satirical success in "(Untitled)." Teasing today's new realms in painting, conceptual art and music is almost too easy, and the impressive aspect of Parker's latest is an evident grasp and respect for what's worthy and worthless in the fecund present-day scene. The smart-ass comedy isn't sustained throughout, but there's more than enough here for a bright fest roadshow and theatrical gallery space. Notably, this pic is one of the rare American indie films to land a world premiere at a fest prior to Sundance on the calendar (Palm Springs). And yet, it bears all the hallmarks of a prestige Sundance movie, from a hip cast including Adam Goldberg and Eion Bailey to a brilliant score by leading new music composer and Pulitzer winner David Lang.

The first film since "Art School Confidential" to seriously confront issues befuddling artists torn between their drives for personal expression and a demanding marketplace, "(Untitled)" surveys two art worlds repped by a pair of competitive brothers: terminally self-important composer Adrian (Goldberg) and commercially successful painter Josh (Bailey) -- as well as the network of gallery owners, dealers, patrons, critics and audiences that put the work in the public sphere.

ZAP played a small supporting role in the film's post production, as Bay Area director Jonathan Parker and his producer Catherine Di Napoli finished the film over the past nine months. San Francisco sound designer and ZAP friend Richard Beggs did the soundtrack; the film was shot on location New York City using Panavision Genesis cameras.

Parker's association with ZAP and friends goes back to his 2001 film "Bartleby" with sound design by our old friend Jennifer Ware of Homegirls Sound.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Amazon Ranks Godfather Blu-Ray Best of 2008

Amazon Editorial Reviews

On the DVD People used to say this was Frank Sinatra's world, and the rest of us just lived in it. After watching the multiple special features in the box set The Godfather - Coppola Restoration, one might conclude it's actually time for a cultural and historical revision: This is the Corleone family's world. The rest of us better tread lightly. Actually, the point of the half-dozen or so features crammed onto a disc accompanying the beautifully restored The Godfather, The Godfather II and The Godfather III, is that The Godfather movies have penetrated popular culture in such a deep and meaningful way that they are second-nature to everything. David Chase, creator of and writer on The Sopranos, for example, describes in the featurette "Godfather World" that his hit HBO series was intended to be the story of the first generation of mobsters actually influenced by Francis Ford Coppola's hit trilogy. Joe Mantegna calls the three films "the Italian Star Wars." (Mantegna co-stars in The Godfather III.) Alec Baldwin says no matter what one is doing, one is compelled to stop and watch the films if they're on television. Richard Belzer calls the films "a religion." And so on. A number of people similarly testify in "Godfather World" to the importance and ubiquitousness of The Godfather and its sequels in American life. There's no point in arguing, so its best to move on to the other featurettes, including "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't," reviewing in detail much of what has been said about Paramount's mistreatment of Coppola, about casting fights (Steve McQueen as Michael?), about the studio's assumption they were getting a quick-and-dirty B-movie, and about producer Robert Evans' determination to keep his choice of director and unlikely actors under his wing. Fresh information within the special features, however, begins with "… When the Shooting Stopped," a fine study of post-production on The Godfather, with several surprising and fascinating facts. Among emerging details is an explanation of why Michael Corleone's scream toward the end of The Godfather III is silenced out. (Hint: it was meant to be the inverse of a sound effect in the first movie.) "Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather" talks about the painstaking work of restoring the first two films, beginning with a phone call from Coppola to Steven Spielberg (after the latter's DreamWorks studio became part of the Viacom family) asking if he'd request money from Paramount for restoration work. "The Godfather On the Red Carpet is a negligible series of fawning statements about the movie from hot young actors, while "Four Short Films" are brief and enjoyable takes on different aspects of The Godfather's impact on modern living. --Tom Keogh