Sunday, September 28, 2014

Carice van Houten to Play Leni Riefenstahl the beautiful actress, singer and Pioneer Film Director

Leni Riefenstahl

Carice van Houten
Berlin, Germany—I first talked about this last February when there was a tease article in Variety Magazine.
The Jessie Owens story is coming to the big screen.  The film titled, Race is starring Stephan James as Owens and he is joined Jeremy Irons in this film.  Stephen Hopkins is directing the film.  Shooting began this week in Berlin.
The multi-talented Dutch actress, Carice van Houten who happens to be my personal favorite has signed on to play the legendary German film director Leni Riefenstahl.
Van Houten was cast in the once in a lifetime role of the accidental Dutch resistance hero, Rachel Stein / Ellis de Vries in Paul Verhoeven’s film, Black Book (2006).   That’s still is my favorite film of all time!
Today, van Houten graces the Game of Game of Thrones cast as the Red Priestess, Melisandre.
Riefenstahl was a gorgeous dancer and actress and genuine contemporary of the late great Marlene Dietrich.  The events of 1933 in Germany would change her life. 
Riefenstahl was an incredibly talented woman who took advantage of an opportunity within Adolf Hitler’s emerging Third Reich to make films with virtually unlimited budgets.
Riefenstahl was not anti-Semitic or any kind of a racist.  She was an opportunist that simply rose to the occasion when she got her chance.
One of her trademark masterpiece films, Triumph des Willens or in English Triumph of The Will is banned today in Germany.  It’s filled with amazing camera shots both static and aerial that had never been done before in cinema.  
That film was an epic propaganda piece designed to make Germany love their new leader who promised them hope and change and during a very bleak period in German History.  
Riefenstahl matched her stunning images with music and the film became an undeniable hit.  Nazi propaganda aside Riefenstahl did exactly what film directors are supposed to do.
Riefenstahl’s greatest epic was her documentation of the 1936 Olympics. Hitler decreed that Blacks and Jews could not take part in this event but relented when Germany would not be allowed to host the event
We all know what happened with that legendary African-American track star Jessie Owens, to Hitler’s chagrin defeated all of the world’s greatest runners.
Riefenstahl’s spectacular film of Owens' victory has been seen millions of times and it’s still being shown today nearly 80 years later! Riefenstahl created the template that sports photographers everywhere still follow today.
Riefenstahl invented camera movements using aircraft, sliders, dollies and jibs that are being used by filmmakers everywhere today.  Imagine what she would have done with the multi-rotor camera drones in use today.
Riefenstahl was sought after by Walt Disney but her alliance with Hitler spoiled that.  She was nearly tried as a war criminal and found herself punished and precluded from doing what she preferred in Hollywood.
Riefenstahl became a documentary film maker that made groundbreaking films of African tribes and oceanographic scientific films until her death at age 100 in 2003.
Riefenstahl was also known for having a boyfriend some 40 years her junior! 
Okay i admit that I’m in love with van Houten’s amazing talents. I know this woman is exactly what the Oscar’s Best Actress Award is all about.  I love her singing too! I often listen to van Houten’s album, See You On The Ice as I drive around L.A.
I only hope that van Houten is able to book more of the blockbuster films she deserves.  If I was somehow van Houten’s agent, I’d make that happen!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jailed Drone Photographer Needs Legal Help On A Serious First Amendment Fight.

Daniel Saulmon/Tom Zebra
Los Angeles, CADaniel Saulmon, 42 better known as Tom Zebra is being held in a jail cell here since his 4:00 PM arrest on September 23rd.  Saulmon was late for his misdemeanor citation received weeks earlier for flying his camera drone.  When Saulmon appeared later that morning they kept him waiting for hours and then was ordered held on a punitive $30K bail. 

Saulmon spent five days in jail until he supporters were able to post his bail.  
The crime Saulmon is accused of is flying his little plastic remote control Phantom 2 camera drone on Los Angeles park property. 

The little known L.A. ordinance Saulmon was arrested on is not new.  It banned flying of remote controlled aircraft.  However this put on the books long before the little multi rotor Phantom gizmos with cameras ever existed.  

At the time they enacted this remote controlled aircraft law the city council had no way to know the much gentler camera drones would be invented later.  Without specific intent to ban the multi-rotor  Phantoms the law should be considered void for vagueness.

The ordinance itself was enacted to prevent people from being injured by the much faster and less stable fixed wing remote aircraft being used at the time.  There are absolutely no reports of any remarkable injuries from the little drones like Saulmon used. 
The simple but unanswered question on these popular camera drones is, aren't they protected by the First Amendment?   

The real issue here is that Saulmon is a firebrand in the eyes of cops.  He’s challenged police authority to stop him from shooting video of them on public streets.  Saulmon has posted countless videos on YouTube of hostile confrontations with cops in every South Bay police jurisdiction.
Salmon patrols the streets on his bicycle and whips out one of several video cameras he carries and begins to record the action.  Often the cops take exception to Saulmon's activities and try to force him into presenting identification and to explain why he’s shooting video.  Saulmon usually refuses to cooperate with the police and it nearly always makes for interesting video.Saulmon also makes a modest living in part by selling newsworthy video to local news organizations.  
Our nation's cops are just beginning to learn that Saulmon’s activities are Constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.   The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on this issue and cops have no reasonable expectation of privacy when engaged in their duties.
Over the last several years cops have conspired against, harassed and falsely arrested thousands of people taking their pictures.  This won’t end until the lawsuits begin to seriously drain public coffers.  
Saulmon recently added that Phantom 2 camera drone to his arsenal and that has ignited even more resentment from his police detractors.  The cops have consulted/conspired  with city and county prosecutors looking for any and all ways to sideline Saulmon’s activities.
Logic would dictate that the camera drones are just another form of media capturing devices like pencils, pens, paintbrushes, typewriters or any other camera!
Is this a conspiracy to violate Saulmon’s civil rights?  Given the history I think that may be abundantly clear.
Let me say I don’t personally approve of much of Saulmon’s tactics but the Bill of Rights says otherwise.  

I know a lot of cops that welcome cameras because they are a protection against bogus brutality complaints by criminals.  Not all cops agree on pushing Saulmann around or intimidating him.  The cops prosecutors and courts have to respect our basic freedoms.  The right of people to record and scrutinize the conduct of the police must be protected at all cost.
Saulmon deserves to be fully  supported by the camera drone manufacturers, media, civil libertarians and certainly the ACLU.
I hope someone reading this will arrange for a top flight First Amendment media lawyer.  

The fact is the news organizations stand to lose the most if the camera drones can be banned.  Camera drones are the next generation aerial electronic news gathering devices.  They are so much safer, agile and incredibly cheaper than helicopters. 

Saulmon will be in the Long Beach Superior Court on September 30th, 2014 at 8:30 AM.  The court is located at 275 Magnolia Ave, Long Beach, CA.
Soulmon needs to serious legal help to fight this tyranny.   
Let me get a single point across here.  Our rights have never been won or preserved because of requests, begging or pleading.  Without the Tom Zebras of America constantly fighting for their rights there'd be no First Amendment.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Maniac With A Knife Stopped By Unidentified Good Guy With A Gun In A Walgreens Drug Store!

Phoenix, AZ—Last week Christopher Scott Gale approached a woman shopping at the Central Ave and Osborn Road Walgreens from behind.  Without provocation or a known motive he used a kitchen knife with an 8” blade to stab the woman at the base of her skull.
The woman screamed and an off duty but armed federal officer in a checkout line quickly intervened.   The offender was standing over the wounded woman when the G-Man ordered the man to drop his knife and lie face down on the ground.  Responding Phoenix Police took the offender into custody.
Gale told police that he purchased the knife at the WalMart located in the Christown Spectrum Mall because he wanted to,c “stab and kill someone.”
Police reported in court documents that after stabbing the woman, Gale was face to face with her while the knife was protruding from her neck.  Allegedly Gale told her, “I’m killing you to save the world.”
Rather than book Gale immediately in jail police removed him to the Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center in Mesa where he was arrested yesterday. 
Gale now faces charges of Attempted 1st Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault.  His bail was set at $1 million.
According to the court documents police located video of Gayle purchasing the knife at the WalMart earlier.
We all know how much worse this would have been is there was nobody present armed with a gun to stop this monstrous act. 
Gale returns to court on October 2, 2014.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What? You Work in TV News but Can’t Create a Video Package on Your iPhone?


Los Angeles, CA—Local news coverage here is as lame is it gets anywhere!  The entertainment capitol of the world and the second largest television market puts out pathetic  minimalist crap instead of comprehensive news. It's downright shameful!
What used to be called print media has now been forcibly moved to the Internet and they now must adapt to publishing quality video or simply become history.
I don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re at the bottom position and pay grade in your news organization there’s no excuse for you being unable to make a broadcast quality news story if you come upon breaking news.  If you can’t put together a watchable story on your iPhone you need to get out of the news business.  
You don’t have to be pretty or an award winning cinematographer to create a great news story.  You do need to be capable of using a little investigative effort and get some watchable video and simply tell your story.  What’s most important is that you never waste an opportunity to assemble the elements of important news breaking around you.
The new iPhone 6 plus with it’s improved camera and large screen allows anyone that can make a decent selfie still shot, to shoot, edit and make a really watchable news package!  Unlike the predecessor, smaller iPhones the larger 6plus screens are very adequate to professionally edit captured video in the inexpensive iMovie application. 
I’m not going to train in this story you but will give you a few solid tips.
Always hold you iPhone horizontal and NEVER vertical.  Get close as you possibly can to the action so that you can get both usable sound and video.   If you’re too shy and don’t get close enough you efforts will be wasted.
Always be sure to add your own voiceovers to your captured video during the editing process.  Doing that while you shoot is almost never a good idea.  
As you learn how to do this you will discover tricks and accessories to improve your stories with things like lavaliere microphones.  There are lots of new devices including those that serve as tripods when needed.  
If you have a camera drone and can get it deployed and operating over breaking news such as a natural disaster or a civil disturbance that could swing your career into high gear.
There are those amazing options for live broadcasting from your iPhone offered by Livestream.com or Ustream.com.   They must rely on a good 4G Internet signal.  You could for example be on vacation in Europe during breaking news and actually get video back to your newsroom.
Again, I’m going to bash L.A’s lame news coverage.  They can’t seem to do a crime story these days that was not totally created and controlled by the appointed police propaganda officers. 
I don’t understand why the reporters in this market won’t routinely check things like court records or take the effort to identify and seek out victims and witnesses for interviews.  What they call enterprising journalism here is getting a really worthless sound bite from a know-nothing neighbor saying, “it's so scary!” 
Despite so many wonderful new tools the quality of electronically gathered coverage has declined significantly over the last two decades. The competiveness and energy has dwindled as newsrooms have lost viewers and readers in droves.
The new technologies should be helping significantly but the news organizations are so painfully slow at adaptation.  Perhaps it’s that the ageing suits running the news business are simply a bunch of old dogs incapable of learning new tricks. They desperately cling to the things that worked for them when they were young.
The tools of computer assisted reporting, instantly obtaining quality video, the exciting GoPro cameras and now the inexpensive camera drones have made amazing leaps and bounds.   Unfortunately the suits running news refuse to embrace new technology and instead reject progress. 
If you’re working in a newsroom or hope to pursue this line of work, you simply can’t wait for the news bureaucracy to adapt to progress.   It’s you that must learn how to create and then demonstrate your abilities. 
The camera drones have made a big splash and the novelty has brought with it massive ignorance and contrived controversy. 
If you have a camera drone use it.  Get the video and worry about what your bosses will say later.  It’s better that they see your amazing images even if they are two cowardly to use them!
Why wait for someone else to do this and steal your thunder?  If you make something spectacular with a drone camera your bosses will soon be fighting to use what they did not have the testicles to allow earlier. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Expect More Surprises in The Jodi Arias Case


Phoenix, AZ—The second attempt to get a verdict in the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial is about be get underway before Judge Sherry Stephens. Will it be death, life without parole or a 25 calendar year sentence?   Arias would get full credit for her years in pretrial custody. 
Arias is understandably and desperately seeking some control over her defense and public relations matters.  The problem is that she’s woefully unqualified to make any of those decisions.
The lawyers assigned to defend Arias are not exactly heavy hitters.  They are lightweights with limited skills and resources.  
Arias has been widely criticized for her missteps at every turn.  This young woman is fighting for her life while dealing with complicated issues few of us will ever have to face. For her there are no right answers.  Whatever she does turns out wrong. 
The only thing I know about Arias for sure is she has given substantially different versions of whatever happened in that Mesa, AZ home. I’ve learned long ago that people that use legitimate and lawful deadly force in self-defense far too often lie to authorities because they think it’s somehow necessary.  
The simple truth is if Arias had invoked her right to remain silent and simply refused to answer police questions she would have probably never been arrested.  In any event she’d be a free woman today.  
People that have never walked in this Arias’ shoes are the first to castigate her.  
Judge Stephens wisely booted the Media’s cameras out of the courtroom for the second penalty phase.  The actual murder trial that ended in conviction was as ugly as any court/media circus in American history. Perhaps this time the jury can do their jobs with less outside influence.
Protecting un-sequestered jurors from published material and videos is absolutely impossible in this day and age.  Judges have to take special precautions to prevent the court’s evidence from being co-mingled with Internet gossip.
Frankly the courts have been incredibly negligent beyond giving jurors redundant but meaningless admonishments to avoid such material. 
Under the media's radar, this case has had lawyers arguing and litigating under court seal since this sensational trial ended.  In my decades of courtroom and criminal justice experience I’ve seen nothing like this. 
My trusted Phoenix court sources have told me the protracted secret fight is over a “new” witness and evidence that was not considered at the first trial. This has nothing to do with the penalty phase but in fact what may actually lead to a new trial that may yet clear Arias.
This case has drawn an astronomical number of vocal trolls that have consistently spread anti-Arias hate and venom.  These trolls all claim to have watched the whole trial and know everything.
What these trolls are clueless about are the hours of the trial that they have never seen!  That was the numerous fights over evidence and admissibility in Judge Stephens’ chambers where the press, their cameras and public was excluded.

I hear the trolls say, "But she stabbed him so many times!"  What people don't realize is that few of these wounds were mortal.  The human body is so amazing that it will continue to fight to survive.  

A somewhat frail woman realistically would have to stab a stronger male numerous tines before he would begin to weaken or expire. Superficial wounds inflicted by a weaker female would do little but invite more aggression from a stronger male. 
The Arias case is sure to take many more surprising turns before it is over. 
I’m convinced that ultimately there may be enough prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the Arias case to reverse any conviction and prevent a retrial.  I would not count out the real possibility that Arias may be freed before the litigation is over.