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Seven Lessons To Take From Comic-Con 2010

Seven Lessons To Take From Comic-Con 2010 (photo)

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During one of Comic-Con’s most extravagant displays for the “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” panel, each of the film’s cast members received their own video introduction (with the notable exception of Chris Evans), pins were given away to every member in the audience and Michael Cera filled in for Evans by walking out in a Captain America costume and repeatedly referring to his newfound muscles.

“Thirteen guests coming out and I’m not sure all of them can match one Lundgren,” said Edgar Wright, still in awe that he would be following up a panel of Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables.”

There wasn’t much of substance said — by design, Wright moderated the panel and asked that most of his questions be answered with one word only, but that “Scott Pilgrim” has been largely recognized as “the winner of the Con” is a testament to the fact that for all its smoke and mirrors, the fans who flood into Comic-Con every year appreciate the sizzle above all else while they’re in San Diego and will spend the other 361 days of the year looking for the steak.

Like Wright, who literally led a collection of fans lucky enough to pull pins labeled “1-Up” out of a bag on a Pilgrimage through the streets of downtown San Diego to the premiere of his latest film, here is a walk through the other lessons learned at this year’s Comic-Con.

07292010_CowboysVsAliens.jpg3D may once again be just a passing fad.

The only thing more unpopular than M. Night Shyamalan’s name on the “Devil” trailer at Comic-Con was saying your film would be in 3D, a true shame considering Nicolas Cage’s “Drive Angry 3D” cruised into San Diego with some of the convention’s most entertaining footage and only a half-full Hall H had the opportunity to see it.

Jon Favreau, whose ability to take the temperature of a room is uncanny, was not only able to bring out Harrison Ford in handcuffs an hour after the infamous stabbing (which just turned out to be a coincidental play on a reluctant Ford’s first appearance at the Con), but garnered some of the biggest cheers when giving this explanation of why “Cowboys and Aliens” won’t be in 3D:

“We got the rigs out, we were testing shooting in stereo, it looked really good, but you shoot stereo, you’ve got to shoot on digital video and this is a western, I don’t want to shoot on video, so the only other route would be conversion. But that’s like shooting in black and white and colorizing it. So coming next year, 2D, ‘Cowboys and Aliens.'”

You would’ve thought he had found the cure for cancer or, more realistically, announced who would play the Mandarin in “Iron Man 3,” but Favreau won over fans the old fashioned way, by showing them a fully realized introduction to the sci-fi/western hybrid that saw Daniel Craig stumbling around a dusty frontier town before being arrested and ultimately freed when his carriage is blasted by a spaceship, to which he returned the favor by blasting down with a glowing bracelet. That Favreau had his special effects team at Industrial Light and Magic prepare the clip after only a month of shooting to hit Comic-Con was impressive, but that he could forecast the 3D backlash was equally so. Then again, he knows what it takes to be a crowdpleaser at Comic-Con.

07292010_DontBeAfraidoftheDark.jpgHorror works at Comic-Con, but word may not travel.

Guillermo del Toro was said to be disappointed with the lack of coverage given to his production of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which was set up to be overshadowed when a day earlier it was announced he would be producing a new take on Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” and spent much of the “Dark” panel sitting next to first-time director Troy Nixey and taking questions about why he left “The Hobbit” and what he’s working on next (a horror film shooting in May later discovered to be his long-gestating adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” with the help of James Cameron as a producer).

Of course, this didn’t leave all that much time or the requisite column space for reporters for the actual film at hand, which scared the bejeezus out of the 5000 or so attendees who were in the crowd as a young girl crawled through some sheets to a gruesome discovery and gave del Toro license to exclaim without embarrassment, “I shat my pants!” (Moments later, he would drop my favorite one-liner of the entire Con about “Dark”‘s rating: “It’s like a pirate ship, the more R the better.”)

Similarly impressive was the footage to Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In,” the American remake of Tomas Alfredson’s young vampire tale “Let the Right One In” that has been transported from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. (Reeves credited “Cloverfield” scribe Drew Goddard with helping find the snowy location since he grew up there and Reeves liked the scenery as much as its place in U.S cultural history.)

The footage of the young stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) and Chloe Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) bonding over Now N’Laters and eventually Moretz’s dirty deeds as a vampire, which is too spoilery to get into here (though a description can be found here), looked appropriately atmospheric and creepy. Following in the footsteps of the original, “Let Me In” also appeared to be as high on strong characters as it is on suspense, something Reeves attributed to Steven Spielberg’s suggestion that the child actors keep journals in character.

Both films were a cut above much of what was shown at Comic-Con in evoking pure emotion from the audience, but “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “Let Me In” were also the victims of playing a venue that doesn’t necessarily reward subtlety or pedigree. (Hammer Films’ CEO Simon Oakes, who was there with “Let Me In” only got scattered applause when bringing up remakes of “Captain Kronos” and “Seven Golden Vampires.”) Despite that, they were among the most exciting clip packages to be shown in Hall H.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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