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Akeelah and the Bee


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#1 Dan Goulder

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 02:27 PM

Just got back from a screening of ?Akeelah and the Bee.? Please add my thumbs up to those of Ebert and Roeper. Kudos goes to Mr. Mullen for his fine work. Hopefully, he will share some of his lighting and camera setups, as well as his methods for achieving such notable deep-focus anamorphic cinematography, in terms of lens choice, light levels and T-stops, film stock, etc. Good work, and good movie.
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 07:38 PM

He's posted quite a lot about it. Search the archives.
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#3 razerfish

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 06:35 AM

I saw it as well today. Thought the cinematography was excellent. Liked how the camera moved and really helped tell the story. It made a lot of scenes that could have really been boring (how many times can you see kids spell a word or practice their spelling without getting bored) exciting. I give the story a C- (every shop worn cliche in existence is used) but a solid A to the lighting and camera work. It looked great. Well done, David.
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 09:48 PM

He's posted quite a lot about it. Search the archives.

As they say, "My bad." I wasn't aware that the production posts were still online. Most currently reside on page (5) of the 'In Production' thread. They are quite detailed and informative. Thanks to David for sharing a wealth of information with us.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 01:55 PM

I just saw it at the AMC Palace in New Orleans, a new theater, and I'm shocked at how poor it looks compared to the answer print I saw at the lab. First, the projection was darkish and slightly soft in the center, and the print had a purple bias to it, worse in Reel Two, and was a little grainy. I'm mean, some shots were done on 35mm Kodak 100T Vision-2 in daylight with no filters on a Primo anamorphic at T/8 -- it should look sharp & fine-grained, dammit! What do I have to do, shoot in 65mm???
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#6 Jason Debus

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 02:03 PM

For whatever it's worth the print I saw at my local Regal theater looked outstanding, I was blown away by how sharp it was. Didn't notice any color bias or softness at all.
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#7 Chris Cooke

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 08:35 PM

What do I have to do, shoot in 65mm???


Please do! I'd love to see 65mm with a 6K DI the wave of the future. Then either print it back to 35mm (and 70mm for those theaters that can handle it) or project it on a 6K DLP.
I'm looking forward to seeing Akeelah and the Bee when it comes to my town. I'll be leaning over to my wife every couple minutes saying, "You know that he shot that scene with 3 18K HMI's on Condors blasting through the windows to create that beautiful natural sidelight."
I can't believe it's not here at our Cineplex yet.
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 10:07 PM

I just saw it at the AMC Palace in New Orleans, a new theater, and I'm shocked at how poor it looks co

Dear David,

The professional projectionists who hang out on the forums at www.film-tech.com have very little good to say about AMC's quality. AMC buys the junkiest equipment, pays poorly, and apparently could care less that they aren't giving people their ten bucks worth. I saw "Akeelah" at the AMC 24 at Quail Springs Mall, OKC and loved the movie and your cinematography but I'd never judge a movie's technical production based on what AMC produces onscreen.

My wife loved your naturalistic photography - she says she felt like she was IN the story, not watching a movie. I've done a couple of demonstrations for her using my Sony miniDV where I showed her just how difficult it was to make something look onscreen like the eye sees it. As in many other arts, the hardest thing to do is to make it look easy!
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#9 Chris Cooke

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 05:00 PM

I finally got to see Akeelah last night. My wife and I both loved it. The cinematography was motivated by the story. There actually was a storyline in this movie as opposed to most other films that have been permeating the market lately. The character development was great and the acting held it's own. I laughed when I saw that scene where the producers told David that he didn't use enough fill on Akeelah's brother's face. It was a great looking scene, any more fill and it would've felt overlit to me. Actually, throughout the whole film the closeups all had beautiful modeling (besides the final spelling bee where I think David went for more of a live approach based on ESPN's anual National Spelling Bee). In the final scene, I loved the look of the anamorphic lens flares as Akeelah walked in and all the lights in the shots really gave the scene that much more excitement.
I talked to the theater manager after the film was over about a shoot I wanted to do in there and also about playing some of our films. We got talking about why there were so few people watching Akeelah and he figured that Canadians from the prairies (I live in Alberta) can't really relate to black ghetto's. I don't know if I agree with him but it's an interesting point nonetheless. I personally think it's because of the particular theater that we were in has bad seats, poor audio and jumpy projection. He told us that they will be doing 5 million dollar renovations within the next few months to fix all of the problems. When I started talking to him about the projection, he told me that he was just at a convention where they were talking about projection. He says that if the major studios had their way, every theater in the world would have 2K DLP projectors. They showed him the difference between 2K and 4K and he couldn't tell the difference untill he went up close to the screen. My concern is that he probably saw a film that was scanned at 2K instead of 4K in order to minimalize the difference between the two projectors.
Great job and a film well done David.
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#10 Tim Tyler

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 08:42 PM

Just saw it back to back with MI-3. Like a mini Laurence Fishburne fest :)

David - Did you use a special filter for the Curtis Armstrong stuff? His shots always looked a little smoother to me... in a good way. Or maybe it was just his pale skin tone.

Loved the circular dolly that started with the the ECU of Akeelah at the mic. I recall you said that was setup and shot with seconds to spare.

I kept looking for an effect from the GlimmerGlass but it was naturally subtle and hard to spot. I've got to get one of those.

Eddie Steeples' Derrick-T was great. That guy is going places.
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#11 Alex Ardenti

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 10:01 PM

Just saw it back to back with MI-3. Like a mini Laurence Fishburne fest :)

David - Did you use a special filter for the Curtis Armstrong stuff? His shots always looked a little smoother to me... in a good way. Or maybe it was just his pale skin tone.

Loved the circular dolly that started with the the ECU of Akeelah at the mic. I recall you said that was setup and shot with seconds to spare.

I kept looking for an effect from the GlimmerGlass but it was naturally subtle and hard to spot. I've got to get one of those.

Eddie Steeples' Derrick-T was great. That guy is going places.



I just saw it also and my wife and I loved it. Story has some cliches and there where some "Rocky" elements but, hey, I felt it all worked together. At least I felt someone was telling me a story. An interesting story.
Shot beautifully David. I saw it at the Serman Oaks Galleria and it looked impeccably sharp and colors were beautiful and saturated.

Alex

www.alexardenti.com
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 10:32 PM

Curtis Armstrong has a fairly smooth round face, and being pale, he tended to look less "sharp" compared to the rest of the cast in the same light. Plus most of his scenes are early on when I was using the Expression 500T stock, which is softer. But then, his later scenes were on the other Vision-2 stocks using the Glimmerglass diffusion, so the sharpness should have been similar. But since his face doesn't have any prominent features, it doesn't take much softness to the lighting to make it look less crisp.
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#13 Alex Lindblom

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 02:52 AM

Hi I was going through my blogs as usually and came across this...

Blogmavrick

Its Mark Cubans web blog, and he apparently like Akeelah very much -- $100.000 in movie tickets not bad.

Thought it would be interesting for David and the rest of you, to know.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 02:14 PM

I did a quick phone interview this weekend and now a short article on my cinematography has appeared here, nothing you guys haven't heard already from my posts on "Akeelah":

http://www.uemedia.n...cle_14860.shtml
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#15 peter orland

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 05:49 PM

At least you guys get to see it at the cinema. By the time it heads "Down Under" it will only be available on DVD. And half the time on the lower budget titles the transfer is awful. Useless if you are trying to watch other peoples work and learn.
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#16 Dan Goulder

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 05:58 PM

At least you guys get to see it at the cinema. By the time it heads "Down Under" it will only be available on DVD.

Yeah, but you guys probably got to see "Welcome to Woop Woop" in the theater.
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#17 peter orland

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 09:55 PM

Yeah, but you guys probably got to see "Welcome to Woop Woop" in the theater.



What a mess that was.

After the release of Woop Woop the Director apparently hid in Canada for awhile until the heat died down.
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#18 Greg Gross

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 11:04 PM

I was told today by a film student that Akeelah and the Bee was #10 on the film list.
Was that from Hollywood Reporter?
Can anyone confirm?

Greg Gross

My girlfriend Stephanie just told me that Hollywood Reporter has Akeelah and the Bee at
#9 position,made 3.4 million weekend of May 5-7.

Greg Gross
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#19 Greg Gross

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 07:13 AM

Week ending 5/7, Akeelah and the Bee
Total Gross Sales $10,632,413.00
RE: Hollywood Reporter

Greg Gross
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#20 Chris Cooke

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 01:00 PM

While making fun of "movies that are destroying America" in Tuesda night's show Stephen Colbert mentioned that the only movie that's worth seeing in the theaters right now is Akeelah and the Bee. Interesting comment coming from someone that pretty much makes fun of everyone and everything.
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