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The State of the Union: Hollywood edition

Posted on February 14th, 2014
The State of the Union: Hollywood edition

by Coop Cooper

Now that we have heard a State of the Union address from our president, here is the Small Town Critic State of Hollywood address for 2014…

Micro-budget indie films are increasing in quantity and quality. Expect to hear more rags-to-riches stories in 2014 of successful indie films (in the vein of “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) made by very young filmmakers for almost no money…

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Movie trailer mechanics: GODZILLA 2014 = good, INTERSTELLAR = bad

Posted on December 20th, 2013
Movie trailer mechanics:  GODZILLA 2014 = good, INTERSTELLAR = bad

by Coop Cooper

Trailers, or ‘sneak previews’ as they used to be called, are effective for advertising an upcoming film. Ranging from thirty seconds all the way up into four minutes, trailers edit together key parts of the film in order to give the prospective audience a sample of what they will be seeing if they decide to (hopefully) pay to see the whole feature. Everyone is familiar with them but there are a few things about trailers many people don’t know about unless they are intimately linked to the business (or read a bunch of movie blogs)…

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Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

Posted on December 13th, 2013
Hollywood continues to go PC (except for raunchy comedies)

by Coop Cooper

As I browsed the online Hollywood rumor sites and trade publications (a daily ritual of mine), I came across a poster for a new Tom Cruise film scheduled to release this summer that I wasn’t familiar with. The sci-fi/action film “Edge of Tomorrow” wasn’t something I remembered hearing advanced word about which was surprising considering Tom Cruises’ films are often hyped long before they even begin shooting. I did some quick digging and realized I had heard of this film, but under a different title. “All You Need is Kill”, based on a Japanese novel, was a much more clever and memorable title than the generic one that replaced it. It could be dismissed but this is the second time this year that the word “Kill” has been removed from a major studio film title…

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Aerial Drones: Bad for delivery, great for other things

Posted on December 6th, 2013
Aerial Drones:  Bad for delivery, great for other things

by Coop Cooper

As publicity for its ‘Cyber Monday’ holiday sale, Amazon.com announced a ‘Prime Air’ service which will use aerial drones to deliver packages to customers. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claimed the delivery ‘octocopters’ (a helicopter drone with eight motorized propellers) should be ready to deploy in four or five years within a ten-mile radius of any of their distribution centers, for compact packages up to five pounds. Theoretically, this would allow for quick, thirty minute deliveries for limited items within major metropolitan areas. It’s a neat idea, but highly unlikely it will ever happen. Here’s why…

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“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

Posted on November 4th, 2013
“Captain Phillips” and the new Oxford Commons Theater

by Coop Cooper

In addition to the film “Captain Phillips”, I will also talk about the newly opened Oxford Commons Malco Theater which has been refurbished from the former ‘Amp’ theater on the east side of Oxford, MS. Few people remember the Amp as it had a short and unsuccessful run but Malco is betting that due to Oxford’s rapid growth, the town can now support a second movie theater. I sincerely hope they are right because the venue is classy and pleasant, but first the movie review…

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The pitfalls of film/TV marketing

Posted on November 4th, 2013
The pitfalls of film/TV marketing

by Coop Cooper

Marketing a movie or TV show is a tricky business.

Ron Howard’s latest film “Rush” is a prime example of an original film idea that clearly nobody new how to market. It is being advertised as director Ron Howard’s ‘best film’ and as possibly ‘the best film of the year’ but it’s not really explaining what it’s about other than Formula One racing… a sport that is not terribly popular in America. It also stars Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth and that Nazi hero sniper (Daniel Bruhl) from “Inglorious Basterds” whom you probably forgot about. The film utilizes a strange orange and teal color palette and Opie from “The Andy Griffith Show” directed it. That’s about all anyone knows about it even if they studied the TV promos. “Rush” is also a very generic title also utilized by a 1991 undercover narc film starring Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Lee which only adds to the confusion. Despite how good the film might be or how many awards it could win, it does not scream ‘blockbuster.’ One would have to do some digging to find out the film is actually based on the real-life rivalry between two European F1 racers in the 1970’s named James Hunt and Niki Lauda (who???)…

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The internet is winning the film market…

Posted on July 26th, 2013
The internet is winning the film market…

Indie underground Memphis filmmaker Mike McCarthy had mentioned Black Lodge Video in Midtown Memphis to me more than once. He said it was one of the best cult film and out-of-print video stores he had ever seen, so this past weekend I had an opportunity to drop in and browse their stock. I had been to similar independent movie rental stores in Dallas and Los Angeles that cater to fans of obscure and hard-to-find films and Black Lodge had a better selection than all of them. However, when I left the store I was a little dismayed. Nearly every film in the store I was interested in watching was already available online.

Not long ago I predicted things would eventually go this way but it would appear it is escalating more quickly than I imagined. I figured poor internet speeds, lack of connectability/infrastructure and worrisome overage fees would keep internet domination at bay. A few things have come to my attention that convinced me otherwise…

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Mississippi Filmmakers: Johnson Thomasson

Posted on July 4th, 2013
Mississippi Filmmakers:  Johnson Thomasson

by Coop Cooper

Johnson Thomasson is a young and enterprising Mississippi filmmaker based in Starkville (with roots in the Delta) whose film career is taking off. He directed his first festival-bound short film “Blood Feud” in 2010 and just completed his latest film “Headrush,” an ambitious and wonderfully shot short that questions the morals of cutting-edge science. He was recently a guest-speaker at the Tupelo Film Alliance meeting in June and has been accepted to the graduate Directing Program at University of Southern California – one of the top three film schools in the world – for this upcoming fall semester. Thomasson is a gifted Mississippi filmmaker who has a knack for production value and direction, and is an inspiration for other Mississippi natives looking to break into the business. Here is my brief interview with him…

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10 Mississippi actors the state can be proud off…

Posted on May 31st, 2013
10 Mississippi actors the state can be proud off…

by Coop Cooper

While there are many famous actors technically born in Mississippi, not all of them grew up here or have a strong connection to the state. Here are a few who do…

10. M. C. Gainey (Jackson) – This prolific, gruff character actor often plays crooked cops, cowboys, bikers and convicts in films and is recently most recognizable as the scripture-spouting, whip-wielding slave overseer Big John Brittle in “Django Unchained”. He appeared in 20 episodes of the hit TV show “Lost” as character Tom Friendly and is also notorious for his bizarrely hilarious full-frontal nude scene in the movie “Sideways” (2004)…

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Amazon challenges Netflix in the digital content market

Posted on April 30th, 2013
Amazon challenges Netflix in the digital content market

by Coop Cooper

Amazon.com is taking a cue from Netflix and has launched over a dozen of their own TV show pilots exclusively online. They plan to utilize user ratings and comments to determine which shows they will produce full seasons of which will air on the Amazon.com website.

Paired with the ‘Amazon Prime’ service, the first episode of each of these shows is free for all users, but subsequent episodes will be available only to Amazon Prime subscribers. Like Netflix, Amazon Prime also offers many free online movies to watch, but nowhere near as many as Netflix. It does however come with free 2-day shipping on anything ordered from Amazon.com which is a huge bonus for frequent online shoppers (and frankly, the only reason I have a subscription). As an added bonus you can rent some ebooks for free instead of buying them, but Amazon intentionally makes this perk difficult and confusing to execute as they would rather you buy them.

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STRANGE MOVIE FACTS!

Posted on April 30th, 2013
STRANGE MOVIE FACTS!

By Coop Cooper Vince Vaughn, Matthew Perry, Harold Lloyd, Daryl Hannah, Telly Savalas, Christian Bale, Buster Keaton, Lee Van Cleef, James Doohan, Danny Thomas, Denzel Washington and Megan Fox all have something in common… They went through great pains to disguise their missing or deformed fingers from their fans. In order to film the famous […]

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Common movie clichés

Posted on January 20th, 2013
Common movie clichés

Now that awards season has begun, the box office is getting a little less active while the nominees get re-releases and media attention. Even those big, award-winning films contain a few egregious clichés (trite or overused expressions or ideas). Here’s a big list of some of the most common clichés that you will notice in films today. The best films out there avoid these as best they can, but most of these will never go away…

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What I have learned after a year of film festivals…

Posted on November 6th, 2012
What I have learned after a year of film festivals…

It’s been one year since my short film “The Best Day” premiered and since then it has appeared in ten film festivals in Mississippi and across the country. Most of these festivals were small but I attended all of them and learned a lot about their functions. Each one has a unique style, method of operation and problems. Now that the festival run of my short is coming to a close, here is what I learned about film festivals (in general) over the course of one year…

Most smaller fests cater toward a niche. In most cases they appeal to local interests, showcasing work from local filmmakers, but they also survive by catering to particular genres such as horror or documentary. Without a niche, a small film fest is likely doomed.

The best fests do more than just show movies. They hold also panels featuring industry professionals giving advice on different aspects of filmmaking. They hold Q&As with filmmakers after screenings. They host parties and special events with musical entertainment. They hold awards ceremonies…

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2012 Olympics court controversy, hurt film industry

Posted on November 6th, 2012
2012 Olympics court controversy, hurt film industry

Although I’m not a big fan of most of the sports in the Olympics I really admire the athletes and what the organization stands for. Sportsmanship, the competitive spirit, team camaraderie, solidarity among nations… all of it adds up to something special. This year, I’m afraid the media has ruined it for me and the negativity surrounding the event hints at dire consequences for the future of the Olympic games.

Instead of touting the triumph of the winners, here is what the national/international media is spending most of its time focusing on:

London apparently hasn’t handled the crowd or the events very well. Critics claim that much of the city is open to terror attacks (despite a plan to arm rooftops with guided missiles), the city is constantly gridlocked and for some reason there aren’t many fans in the seats of the arenas…

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“Crowd funding” is the new way to finance films

Posted on November 6th, 2012
“Crowd funding” is the new way to finance films

For filmmakers, one of the most difficult parts of the experience is raising the money. This is especially true for independent filmmakers where this responsibility rests on the shoulders of the creators themselves. Until recently, grass roots fundraising, interest from production companies, paying for it out-of-pocket and the occasional publicity stunt were the only ways of generating the money to fund a film project. Now the budding phenomenon of “crowd funding” gives filmmakers and entrepreneurs a new resource for generating startup cash…

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How we made a movie in 48 hours…

Posted on June 8th, 2012
How we made a movie in 48 hours…

Can a quality short film be made in 48 hours? For several years now, creators of 48 hour film challenges have proven that it can be done by both professionals and amateurs alike.

The filmmakers and their crews are assigned a very specific genre (ex: wedding disaster, zombie comedy, hitman action, etc…) and a line of dialogue (such as: “It’s not just a hobby; it’s a way of life.”) that must be spoken during the film. The filmmakers must rush to write, plan, shoot and edit the film before the 48 hour time limit expires. The ultimate prize could be prestige, awards or cash. Though I feared I would regret it, I decided to take one of these challenge this past weekend. With a good bit of help, I succeeded…

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Texting in movie theaters: It could get worse…

Posted on May 4th, 2012
Texting in movie theaters:  It could get worse…

Modern movie theaters have done a lot in order to attract viewers. Many now advertise full meals, gourmet coffee, frozen treats, state of the art digital projection, stadium seating, Dolby 7.1 sound, 3-D films and many other amenities to make spending a couple of hours at the theater more attractive. Not all of them work.

Even now, big Hollywood theater chains are considering a move that might send many traditional movie patrons running from the aisles. In a terribly misguided effort to keep the younger generation in movie seats, AMC Regal theaters and other chains are considering allowing viewers to freely text on their cellphones during movies…

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Things I learned while making a movie

Posted on November 2nd, 2011
Things I learned while making a movie

I went to one of the best films schools in the world and I learned a heck of a lot about screenwriting. I taught it to high schoolers in Los Angeles and adults at seminars. I got to work with some seasoned pros and I learned a little about the other aspects of filmmaking. Unfortunately, back in 1997, it wasn’t very easy to make a short film. It was expensive and cheap ones ($1000 and up) often looked terrible due to the technical hurdles crews would have to overcome. Watching my colleagues slave over their thesis projects with (mostly) mediocre results was discouraging. Because of this, I focused on becoming a writer and academic, ignoring the technical aspects I had little access to.

Fast forward to summer 2010… I had a weird dream and quickly churned out a screenplay based on it. I met some filmmakers at festivals, asked some questions, went back home, did research and took stock of my resources. I suddenly realized it could be done competently for much cheaper than it did thirteen years ago. I raised a crew, secured equipment, auditioned actors and in December of 2010 I shot my first short film “The Best Day.” The premiere was last night and here are a few important lessons I learned from the entire process:

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Are all films about Mississippi good for the state?

Posted on September 21st, 2011
Are all films about Mississippi good for the state?

By Coop Cooper

Last week I was interviewed by “The Washington Times” and Tuesday by “SuperTalk” Mississippi radio host Paul Gallo about how Hollywood portrays Mississippi in motion pictures. While I have talked about this subject before in my articles, these interviews got me thinking about the topic again especially now that “The Help” has thrust Mississippi back into the cultural spotlight.

But it wasn’t “The Help” these two media outlets wanted to interview me about. They were curious about the negatively-slanted movies Hollywood continues to produce about the state, particularly the remake of the violent 1971 masterpiece “Straw Dogs” which opened last weekend…

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Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Posted on August 19th, 2011
Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Why negative movie reviews really don’t matter

Article by: Coop Cooper

Energized by the power and fantastic performances of “The Help,” this weekend I ventured online to see what my fellow American movie critics thought. The website Rottentomatoes.com averages the positive and negative reviews from critics of major print publications and assigns a percentage value. Anything under 60% is considered “rotten” and anything over that number is deemed “fresh.” While “The Help” gained a respectable 73% average, compared to the averages of “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” (76%), Captain America: The First Avenger” (79%) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (82%), its average seemed rather low. Considering the film’s box office and awards potential, I wondered where most of the negativity was coming from…

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival
2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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