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Ebert & Roeper Love "Akeela"


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#1 Ian Marks

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 11:51 AM

Okay, I don't always agree with these guys, but for the most part I respect them and their show does have a lot of influence. On last night's show both reviewers were wildly enthusiastic about "Akeela and the Bee" (hope I'm spelling that right), which as many of you know was shot by David Mullen, a frequent contributor to these forums. I don't mean that they just gave their "thumbs up" to the film - this was a glowing review of the sort one seldom hears - talk of great performances, awards, the whole schmear.

I think it's great that David, who has been so generous in sharing his knowledge and experience, is associated with a movie that looks to be shaping up to be such a winner. The clips looked good too!
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 12:21 PM

Okay, I don't always agree with these guys, but for the most part I respect them and their show does have a lot of influence. On last night's show both reviewers were wildly enthusiastic about "Akeela and the Bee" (hope I'm spelling that right), which as many of you know was shot by David Mullen, a frequent contributor to these forums. I don't mean that they just gave their "thumbs up" to the film - this was a glowing review of the sort one seldom hears - talk of great performances, awards, the whole schmear.

I think it's great that David, who has been so generous in sharing his knowledge and experience, is associated with a movie that looks to be shaping up to be such a winner. The clips looked good too!


That's gold!

I mean seriously, that's gold! If David ever wants to go on the college speaking circuit part of his demo reel should feature that Ebert & Roeper television review, what a great way to round out a demo reel, Congratulations David.
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#3 Marco Leavitt

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 12:28 PM

I caught this too. Congrats David. This looks like it's going to be a very big movie! Can't wait to see it. Didn't Ebert say that it might be the best movie of the year so far?
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#4 Tim Carroll

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 04:28 PM

Posted Image

Go David!
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 04:47 AM

Well, it might be the first film I've shot to actually earn something at the box office, which would be nice. I'm happy for Doug Atchison that the film has gotten some good reviews because he spent many years putting it together, and found the lead actress at least a year before the movie got made. It's not the sort of project though where the photography gets much attention, not being highly stylized.
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#6 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:13 AM

Congrats David.
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#7 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:35 AM

Pretty cool when my film was playing at a film festival at a cineplex and there in the lobby was a standup of "Akeelah.." with David's name on it, which I said to several other filmmakers, "hey he posts on cinematography.com and is a rather helpful guy!" Then in starbucks the other day during a business meeting, our coasters were from Akeelah. Hope it does really well, David deserves it :D
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#8 David Sweetman

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:52 PM

I said to several other filmmakers, "hey he posts on cinematography.com and is a rather helpful guy!"


heh I've done the same thing, can't wait to see it. (even if it ain't "stylized")
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 10:22 PM

Tada!!! The wife and I saw "Akeelah" tonight here in OKC. It was released for an early single showing around the country tonight.

It's a very sweet movie and emotionally engaging. Like Ebert we too hope it finds an audience. It showed to about a 15% house here - but that's with almost no publicity other than early reviews and Starbucks' promotion.

I've done some demonstrating for the wife just how hard it is to light and shoot something that looks on screen exactly like what the eye sees. Her comment is that David's cinematography is so subtly and well done that it just sucked her into the movie - she was totally within the movie emotionally, not watching it from a distance. It's a beautifully photographed movie, particularly knowing what David went through to get it on film.

One nice fringe benefit of a single showing - AMC didn't prepare any video ads or a trailer reel - they just made up "Akeelah" and showed it. So we arrive at the theatre with a slide showing on the screen, they played the AMC feature leader - and the movie showed. How nice! (improvised enough that they had a little technical arm wrestle for the first couple of minutes getting the dialogue to play out of the center speakers).
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#10 Jason Debus

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:28 PM

There was only one showing today at my local cineplex at 7pm which I caught, I would say it was about 90% full. Loved the movie, and the audience I saw it with did too, applauding at the end.

My favorite shot was when Akeelah was walking into the auditorium for the nationals. If I remember correctly it was overcranked, the spotlights creating something like a 10 point star with some cool lens flares. Also an earlier scene of Akeelah reading a quotation off of a wall was very well done.

As a whole the movie looked amazingly sharp on the huge screen, I'm guessing it did not go though a DI. Also I thought the tone of the flashbacks was perfect.
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#11 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 02:43 AM

Saw it tonight with my gaffer actually.

David, the film looks great! It was playing to a nearly full house. I thought the film was very good, I particularly liked your work in the shot of Akeelah reading the quote on the wall with the slow boom down. It was a great sequence.

Also, the final Bee at the Palladium looked great. My gaffer turned to me when he saw the Dinos in the background with "Dino practicals, wow that?s fu*kin ballsy!" (which is a very high compliment from him).

Some of the 360 moves seemed like they would have been hell to shoot (as I think you noted in previous journal entries).

All in all, very very good work on a very good movie. I think it will find an audience; they all seemed to love it.


Kevin Zanit
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#12 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 07:41 PM

"Akeelah and the Bee" news from San Francisco ...

The Table of Contents page from today's Sunday "SF Chronicle" entertainment/arts "Pink Section", shown here in B&W :)
akeelah_100dpi_cmp2.jpg
As noted in the TOC, the article is on page 32, and also appears on their website:
http://sfgate.com/cg...DTL&type=movies

Lots of good publicity ... could be a hit. I hope David Mullen is getting points! ;-)
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#13 Tom Bays

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 09:30 AM

I'd suggest watching the documentary SPELLBOUND before seeing it. It is a nice background primer and a brilliant movie.
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#14 Filip Plesha

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 02:07 PM

I've seen the trailer for "Akeela and the Bee", the film looks very interesting visually I think, I specially like the scene when Lawrence Bishburn is trying to "pull out" more from the girl in the begining of the trailer by asking her to spell some complicated expression.
David, was that natural light or some kind of huge softbox?

Also, the trailer looks very "filmic" like it was a duplicate negative or something like that. So how was the trailer put together and transfered?

When I look at Lawrence in that film who is a star, It's so hard to imagine one of our old (I mean forum-old, not old old) forum members behind the camera, furthermore creating the visual language of the entire film. Such a honor.
If I came to cinema and said out loud that the DP is one of our forum members, I'd probably get laughted at and they'd throw popcorn at me

Edited by Filip Plesha, 26 April 2006 - 02:08 PM.

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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:08 AM

The marketing department struck their own IP off of the cut negative before the print timing was done, then transferred selects to 2K and did a D.I. for the trailer, although some trailers are probably cut from HD or SD conversions.

The gymnasium where the first spelling bee takes place had a huge row of windows which were semi-frosted glass, so I think I had three or four 18K's on scissor lifts (this was the second floor) coming through, naturally softened. I had enough natural light actually but we filmed past sunset so I needed a consistent daytime look in there. Kodak 5229 Expression 500T stock (rated at 320 ASA) in 5500K light with no correction filter, timed back in post with a cool tone left in.
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#16 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 04:12 AM

Rottentomatoes.com has a lot of reviews. Thumbs up to Mr. Mullen!

http://www.rottentom...ah_and_the_bee/
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#17 fstop

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 05:53 AM

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Go David!


Aaron Zigman did the music for Akeelah????!! First Stuart Matthewman from Sade scoring the Polish brother movies- what's with David Mullen and these 80s pop sessions musicians scoring the movies he lights! Is Sheila E. doing the music for Solstice? ;)
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