TCM Classic Film Festival Launches Second Home Edition Thursday
Speaker 1: 00:00 TCM film festival kicks off four days of films and programming tonight on both the Turner classic movies channel and HBO max KPBS, film critic, Beth Armando Amando interviews, Oscar winners, Ben Burt, and Craig Barron about their panel, where they do some movie archeology to uncover the secrets of old movie magic. Speaker 2: 00:23 So I have to confess to you guys that your presentations at the TCM film festivals are always the highlight for me. I adore going to them. So this year you have picked a film that I actually have not seen called chain lightning. So Ben, why don't you start by telling me what was it about this film that appealed to you and made you want to do a special presentation? Speaker 3: 00:49 Craig and I have a special fondness for aviation films because aviation and cinema have been paired up with each other for well over a century since they both began. So chain lightening, it's not a well-known film, but it was a film which we had a fondness for and it introduced some technology uses of sound and visual effects, which intrigued us. So we looked into the story behind the making of that film, correct? It's not a perfect film. It does have some, some issues. So it's not considered one of the, the classic classics, although it is interesting in that it was the last film that Bogart made at Warner brothers before he became an independent, uh, actor for hire. And it, it is kind of the last sort of big production from Warner brothers trying to create a genre about aviation. Uh, Chuck Yeager had just broken the sound barrier. And so the idea was can we capitalize on the interest of the public halves with Jetson aviation and tailor a story around Bogart? So he becomes kind of Chuck Yeager test pilot is kind of the original rights stuff from the standpoint of visual effects. It's a really interesting kind of capture of state-of-the-art technology for the 1950s. You know, where, where it was, their kind of quaint, you know, they're kind of silly sometimes, but we love it. Speaker 2: 02:17 Both of you are wildly talented effects artists in your own, right. In different aspects of special fix. So Craig give a little background on yourself and what got you interested in doing effects yourself? Speaker 3: 02:31 Yeah, so I do visual effects and started by actually watching classic movies and seeing the, uh, special effects by name on the credits. And I started to look them up and, and back at the time, um, my, uh, I had relatives living in Los Angeles, so we would go visit them during the summer. And I would, um, you know, notice somebody's name, often write it down. And then when I was in Los Angeles, I would see if there was a phone number and an address. And quite often there was, you know, so you could still sort of call people up who had retired and, um, uh, they would invite me over. I would see, you know, some of their artifacts, some of their photographs that they'd worked on, things that they were proud of. I started sort of doing interviews, taking notes and, and then, uh, eventually that led to a book on matte painting. Speaker 3: 03:23 I wrote to, with a co-author Mark Foz back in 2001, but, uh, it was, uh, just kind of a long life on love of it. And then I had the opportunity to start working for George Lucas's industrial light magic for the empire strikes back when he moved from Los Angeles up into the Bay area. So that was being in the right place at the right time and ready with some understanding of, of the craft and what I wanted to do well, like Craig, I grew up with a love for movies. I never considered it as a career. It was really the entertainment and the stimulus to my imagination, that, that I fell in love with all kinds of movies from westerns to aviation pictures, to Swashbucklers with Errol Flynn. But I got interested in making films as a teenager and, uh, it gave me a reason not to grow up. Speaker 3: 04:17 I could still a wheel the sword and put a costume on and be flash Gordon. And so that eventually led me after a college degree in physics to go to USC film school. And there, I got pulled further into what had been my hobby movie-making and, uh, eventually specialized because, um, there were jobs offered right away. Uh, at that time when I was getting out of school in sound because no young people were going into sound and, uh, I got, uh, hired to work on the very first star Wars movie before star Wars was known by anyone. The success of that changed everything. And, uh, it's led to a lot of adventures, really both in front and behind the camera. Speaker 2: 05:07 Now this year, TCM is once again, online, and you guys got to create a video instead of being in person, you guys got to create a video. What did this allow you to do? That was different from the in-person experience? Was there something fun about doing this version of it? Speaker 3: 05:27 Right, Craig, we wanted to do something more than the zoom call. And so we came up with the idea of sort of making it like a little documentary and like we're flying a, B 17 and presenting this documentary that we found, the documentary we made, uh, has us hosting from a cockpit of a flying B 17 and a thunderstorm. So we immediately put ourselves in jeopardy. [inaudible] was a close it's important to us to try to always show and let the audience hear things that they have not been exposed to before. Speaker 4: 06:03 I have to admit, I chuckled when I first saw those sounds were so familiar. You're from the cartoons was classic Roadmaster cartoons. The road runner was developed at Warner brothers at the same time chain lightening was being made. Speaker 3: 06:24 We try to always present something that's original that we have uncovered. Yeah. The sort of catch phrases we use the term movie archeologists, you know, because we're trying to find the material that you haven't seen before. We're really trying to find something a little different, a little different take maybe from the standpoint of the people behind the camera, what their involvement was in making the film. Speaker 2: 06:46 And what's the importance to you of highlighting these older films and looking back at older state-of-the-art technology and kind of sharing that with a new audience, Speaker 3: 06:58 Don't worry about your craft and you want to, you know, you want to take it further. You have to know where it was. So, you know, having a sense of history and how stories were told and the sense of how to make movies and making compelling stories and narratives, that's all something that you learn through example and having a sense of history of it sort of defines what we do as an art form, right? You have to, if you're going to say it's an art form, you need to CAG categorize the history of it and understand how it has progressed over time. And from my standpoint, I'm interested in seeing how the technology changed and allowed filmmakers to make different kinds of films over time and, and how those to drive each other. The technology allows for new types of stories. And then the demand for new stories motivates the development of new technologies being part of the TCM classic film festival. Speaker 3: 07:54 I mean, this is the one and only venue like this in the world. Uh, it's one of the only places that you can see a program of films from the past meaningful films, films you may have never heard of, or even have been, had been conceived recently. A goal of all of this always is to share our love and interest in the movies, in the hopes that it will, uh, in fact, others, uh, maybe young people too, that who don't necessarily, they're not told about these films and they may be able to tune in and that sort of thing. And so we have an educational value to it and, but there's also just a love for it. And we continue with that. Speaker 2: 08:38 Well, I want to thank you both very much for taking some time to talk about your presentation at this year's TCM film festival. Speaker 3: 08:44 Great. Thank you so long. Thank you very much. Speaker 4: 08:48 That was Beth Armando speaking with Craig Barron and Ben Burtt their panel streams Thursday through Sunday on HBO max with a live zoom session on Saturday.