Film and Television

Spotlight: A Talk with Michael Anderson of Purple Cloud Entertainment

Here on the blog, we’ve made it our mission to bring the very best in theatre/film/art to the forefront. That, my dear friends, is why this post exists!

Michael Robert Anderson and I first met during a production of The Heiress on Staten Island. He was Morris Townsend and I was the maid, Mariah. He’s a real Renaissance man: actor, writer, director, filmmaker, singer. And he is also the head honcho of his own company, Purple Cloud Productions.

Their latest project is a short film- Major Key– which is set to premiere at Staten Island’s Atrium Cinema on December 5th. Mike was kind enough to sit down with me over the weekend to talk about his movie and give a little behind-the-scenes info!

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Amanda: So Mike, I know you’ve been into filmmaking for quite some time now, but is Major Key your first feature? If not, what was?

Mike: Major Key is in fact a short film- clocking in at 25 minutes. However, it is NOT my first. My first film was titled The Colors of Perception– which was a 45 minute short about a young man who dealt with disabilities/perceptions of life/love/family/etc.

Amanda: As we know, the “war love story” genre has been done a lot over the years. What makes Major Key different and what inspired you to tell this story?

Mike: I’d like to think this genre hasn’t really been as tackled as many people believe. But regardless, I think Major Key differs from the rest because of the main focus being based around music. Major Key is a story that’s surrounded by love, tension, action, and humility. At its heart, the short is an uplifting story about the power of connection through music during tumultuous times. The film centers on an American band of brothers in the height of WWII who are hosted by a German family. Our lead soldier, John Key connects with the German host’s daughter Ilse Brauhn over their mutual love of jazz music. The rest, as they say, is history.

Amanda: What was it like to both write the screenplay and star in the finished product? Was it a difficult task?

Mike: It was my worst nightmare on top of my biggest dream! I had a blast and wouldn’t trade it for the world… but then again, I could’ve used a lot more coffee and downtime to prepare myself on the acting aspect of things. As you can imagine it’s tough to wear all of the hats at once- especially when you have to switch them instantaneously. But again, I’ll treasure that feeling forever.

Amanda: I’m assuming the film was not shot in a studio lot. Where did you go on-location, and did that factor into the actors you wound up casting?

Mike: The location was actually found by our incredible production manager, Jessica Davies, who recommended the odd idea of AirBNB. But lo and behold, she found us a beautiful early 19th century home in the middle of the woods in Millville, New Jersey- where we shot for a full week with no interruptions, beautiful weather and an incredible cast and crew! In regards to the casting side of it, I cast the best of what I saw. I cast the people who I KNEW could bring it all to the table. Location wasn’t a factor in who I got. In fact, the home was the LAST thing we found in the pre-production days, even after casting it.

Amanda: One more thing! What’s next for Purple Cloud Productions? Are you taking this project further, starting something new, or both?

Mike: Purple Cloud Entertainment is always making work. We just love to create. It’s a passion that drives us fay in and day out. Without this craft, without art, I would be no one! So to answer your question- there’s ALWAYS something going on. We’ve got our webseries out now, “Pipsqueak & Stretch”, which can be found on YouTube. And another project that we shot for a dear friend is in post-production, AND I may or may not have something very special in the works moving into 2018! But you’ll have to keep up with us to see!

Hungry for more? Check out Major Key‘s official webpage.
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Film and Television

All That Jazz: Seven Things You Didn’t Know About the Chicago Film

Ah, Chicago. One of the greatest stage-to-film adaptations ever made, this Kander and Ebb musical has been playing nonstop on Broadway since the 1990s. Bringing it to the big screen was a considerably daunting task, but director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon pulled it off…and then some. The movie was released just after Christmas of 2002 and proceeded to snag six Oscars, including Best Picture. In celebration of Chicago’s impending 15th anniversary, I’m going to share seven fun facts about this “razzle-dazzle” film that you might not have known.

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  1. Richard Gere was not the first choice for Billy Flynn. Weird but true! The producers originally considered John Travolta for the part.
  1. The original Velma Kelly, Chita Rivera, appears in the movie. The legendary Broadway dancer can be seen greeting Roxie (and smoking a cigarette) when the latter first arrives at the Cook County Jail.

 

  1. The director and screenwriter were later involved in two other major musical films. Rob Marshall directed 2009’s Nine, while Bill Condon did the screenplay for 2006’s Dreamgirls!
  2. Christine Baranski could never play Mary Sunshine on Broadway. Although Baranski is a veteran stage actress, she couldn’t actually play Mary Sunshine because (on Broadway) the role was written for a man!
  3. Lucy Liu wasn’t supposed to play Go-to-Hell-Kitty. They actually had pop diva Britney Spears tapped for this cameo role!
  4. The song “Class” was shot for the movie, but ended up on the cutting room floor. You can still watch the scene on the DVD as a bonus feature.
  5. Of the three main actors, only one has played a leading role on Broadway. That’s Catherine Zeta-Jones, who not only won her Academy Award for Chicago but took home a Tony Award for her performance in A Little Night Music.
Uncategorized

What’s comin’ up: The Five Weeks Till Valentine Movie Challenge

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Starting next week, I’m gonna be starting a new challenge. I write about live performance a lot, So in my quest to become a connoisseur of all artistic media, I’ve decided to watch and review ten movies before Valentine’s Day. These movies span a variety of genres, but they are all contemporary and most have to do with music or showbiz in some way. Most of ’em are love stories, too, which I think fits with the theme of pre-Valentine’s Day film study. Here are the titles I’ve chosen, although this is not necessarily the order I’ll be watching them:

  • Waitress (2007)
  • Into the Woods (2014)
  • The Peanuts Movie (2015)
  • Joy (2015)
  • Walk the Line (2005)
  • Crazy Heart (2009)
  • Gypsy (2016) [Great Performances]
  • Cinderella (2015)
  • The Last Five Years (2014)
  • Descendants (2015) [Television movie]

I think this will be fun, as long as I stick with the commitment. My schedule for the end of January is going to be a little hectic, too, so this’ll ensure that I keep my eyes focused. LOL! I hope my reviews of the films can also inspire my readers to check them out (or not) and expand their library. After all, word-of-mouth can be the best publicity; “hello from the other side!”

Uncategorized

A Color: BLUE

This is the color I am wearing today- an ice blue Calvin Klein sweater with darker blue pants. Blue can be used to denote sadness, as in “I’m singing the blues,” or the traditional color of tears, but we already talked about sadness in relation to grey. I think that for our purposes, we are going to look at blue as a symbol of calm, sleepiness, and beauty. Ah, fresh air!

I can’t seem to wake up this morning. I slept fine last night, and yet here I sit in class ready to hit the sack once more. My mood has also been on the damp side since yesterday afternoon; maybe I should take my own advice and listen to some invigorating music! All joking aside- blue is one of the most popular colors around, perhaps because of this versatility. Even in music, the color is used in many different contexts. They range from the lonesome (“Blue Christmas”) to the cheerful (“Mr. Blue Sky”) to the nonsensical (“Blue Da Ba Dee”)! Ever wonder why one of George Gershwin’s greatest works was named after blue? Why wasn’t it “Rhapsody in Green” or “Rhapsody in Orange?” It was actually George’s brother Ira who titled the piece; do you think it fits the musical structure?

Relevant Music:
“Blue Christmas” (Elvis Presley)
“Mr. Blue Sky” (ELO)
“Blue Da Ba Dee” (Eiffel 65)
“Blue Jeans” (Lana del Rey)
“Behind the Door” (FINAL FANTASY IX)
“Rhapsody in Blue” (George Gershwin)
“I Never Told You” (Colbie Caillat)
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (THE SOUND OF MUSIC)
“Starry Eyed” (Ellie Goulding)
“Colors of the Wind” (POCAHONTAS)

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Music

Spotlight: Most Guys Today That Women Prize Today Are Just Silly Gigolos

In four days, a very important musical collaboration is going to hit the store shelves. After working together on a cover of “The Lady is a Tramp,” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are teaming up again for a full album of Great American Songbook hits, Cheek to Cheek. And I, lovely dilettantes, could not be more excited.

I don’t care how you feel about Lady Gaga. The fact that she is on the front-lines of this project sends an important message to her young fans; namely, that classic tunes are still relevant. She herself has a background in musical theatre, having played Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in Forum at her high school. It is my hope that this generation will be pulled into Cheek to Cheek by Gaga’s attachment to it and be exposed to the Great American Songbook. There’s a reason these songs are still being performed 70 years later, and so educating kids on them is super important to their cultural and artistic development. Oh sure, some haters are saying that Gaga should stay mainstream, and I wish I were kidding about that- but the fact remains that we must preserve the quality (re: brilliant) music of yesteryear. Furthermore, I’ve listened to a couple of tracks from the album; Tony Bennett’s smooth jazz voice blends really well with Gaga’s, and they sound like they’ve had a lot of fun with this record.

On the standard CD, there are 11 tracks, but I would recommend getting the Target Deluxe version which has more tracks as well as two bonus numbers that are Broadway standards: “Bewitched” from Pal Joey and the title song from On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. For more information, visit the album’s official website.

Happy crooning!