From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen

Published on 14 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen

If you have an easy movie, the ones where the trailers practically edit themselves, that probably isn’t a Mark Woollen trailer. Woollen is the guy they call when the movies are more idiosyncratic, or their creators are, or both the ones where the three-act structure may not be visible to the naked eye, or it’s hard to explain exactly what they’re about, but damn if they don’t make you feel something. But how can you see feelings, and in two minutes or less? What kind of marketing is that?

“I don’t know what marketing is,” said Woollen from the Santa Monica offices of Mark Woollen & Associates, where he employs a staff of 30. “I’m trying to represent the film. Filmmakers come to us in a vulnerable place. Sometimes we’re the first eyes seeing the first rough cut of film they’ve been working on for years. We’re entrusted with introducing it to the world. Their careers and lots of money is invested in how it’s received. We have a responsibility to do right by them as best we can.”

Among those he’s served are Barry Jenkins “Moonlight”, Darren Aronofsky “Black Swan”, Steve McQueen 󈫼 Years A Slave”, Alejandro González Iñárritu “Birdman”, David Fincher “The Social Network”, the Coen Bros. “The Big Lebowski”, and Lulu Wang “The Farewell”. Most recently, he edited the trailer for Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life.” When she first saw it, Fox Searchlight co-president Nancy Utley said she was reminded of why she acquired the World War II anti-Nazi film out of Cannes. “Mark consistently delivers on showcasing what's best about a film,” she said, “to the extent that even version-one of his trailers have been known at Searchlight to induce chills and have us reaching for the tissue box.”

Woollen was only 22 when he cut the trailer that gave him his big break: “Schindler’s List.” Steven Spielberg’s black-and-white drama is now recognized as a classic, but in 1993 Woollen’s trailer was radical: No stentorian voiceover, telling viewers what to expect in fact, no voiceover at all. Just two snippets of dialogue “Goodbye, Jews!”/”The list is life.” the rest was evocative and silent images, underpinned by a passage of Wojciech Kilar’s “Exodus,” since John Williams was not yet finished with what would become the film’s Oscar-winning score.

Woollen is an autodidact: At El Camino high school, he took TV production classes “We’d edit from Betamax machine to Betamax machine”, but after graduation he skipped college in favor of working for San Diego Zoo host Joe Embry, and editing on “America’s Most Wanted.” After answering a Variety ad, he took the night shift for a company that cut trailers for Disney films like “Father of the Bride” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “I was working on Disney animated films and going to see ‘Slacker’ after work,” Woollen said.

After “Schindler’s List,” Woollen became a free agent. He bought an Avid, moved it into the Venice bungalow he shared with his partner, photographer Erin Fotos, and ran his own shop. Finally, in 2002, Fotos ordered him to pull his expanding posse of assistants out of their bedroom, living room, and kitchen and into a proper office.

Mark Woollen

Daniel Bergeron/IndieWire

Today, Woollen’s Main Street Santa Monica building boasts its own parking lot, a trophy room lined with awards, and houses producers, music supervisors, editors, copywriters, and graphic designers who assemble some 200 trailers a year for speciy foreign-language, documentaries and narrative films as well as studio fare and television including HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “Sharp Objects,” Netflix’s “Ozark,” and “Aziz Ansari: Right Now,” the stand-up special directed by Spike Jonze.

“People come to us for a certain point of view,” said Woollen, “how we handle the material. So there’s lots of conversations, collaboration, gut reactions to the film, figuring it out. Not anything is black and white.”

Every trailer contains an element of detective work using the the earliest-available materials, Woollen and his team must divine how the final movie will look and feel. On Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die,” Woollen threw in a throwback announcer from the George Romero era, Adam Driver one-liners, and dripping red fonts. “Iggy Pop as a zombie is a good start!” said Woollen. “Jarmusch has a certain tempo to how his films work: You need to capture that feeling.”

“Mark has a way of being able to perceive the filmmaker's vision for a feature in its short form better than anyone else in the business,” said Focus distribution chief Lisa Bunnell. “He sees film with his heart and soul and it comes out with the work that he is able to bring to the big screen. It's like a beautiful piece of art that evokes emotion.”

The first step is what he calls “a film autopsy,” breaking down the movie’s structural elements and figuring out the best way to rearrange them, like taking apart a complex engine and reassembling it in a brand new way. “We analyze the emotional architecture, understanding how it’s put together, the different points of the film, how to harness that idea, and capture that in two minutes,” Woollen said. “A great part of all the work is about capturing that feeling of experiencing the film for the first time, what that was.”

On “Moonlight,” director Jenkins had been working with a different company for a couple of months when he begged A24 to hire Woollen after seeing his trailer for “Tree of Life.” “We'd spent so much time trying to crack a trailer, so we knew what didn't work,” Jenkins said. “So rather than trying to build a trailer that told you exactly what the movie was, my direction to them was to try to create a trailer that communicated the feeling of watching this film. We sent over the score and said, ‘Maybe open with a conversation between Kevin and Black.'”

Woollen did just that &mdash but it’s not a conversation that happens in the film. “Mark took the entire story of those characters' journey and cut together a conversation that spanned all the different characters,” Jenkins said. “It's really brilliant. It was just about… trying to find a way &mdash despite the fact that there are three different actors playing the character &mdash to find a trailer that united them as one.

“It defies logic: I want you to take a two-hour thing and communicate the essence of it in two minutes? It's an illogical piece of art to create,” he said. “But I think he's doing that in a way where the speed and the brevity doesn't feel like it's flying by you at a million miles an hour. You're just sipping it in very calibrated doses. You watch the ‘Moonlight’ trailer, you don't have any damn clue what that movie is about. But you know exactly what it feels like. They just crushed it.” All that, and fast: Woollen’s team created the only “Moonlight” trailer that went out into the world in less than a week.

On A24’s “Last Black Man in San Francisco,” Woollen artfully wove together a new narration by Danny Glover &mdash recreated from dialogue in the movie &mdash with the film’s street-corner a cappella rendition of “Are You Going to San Francisco,” along with a bit of new orchestration composed specifically for the trailer. “When we figure out the music, we often figure out the trailer,” Woollen said, adding that finding the central emotion of a movie is sometimes “in a look, in a glance after a character says a line. Getting that moment, with the music coming in at the right place, gets you right there. It’s happening in a number of places. It’s figuring out were they are: there’s 10,000 jigsaw pieces with the right connections to tell a story.”

Some filmmakers present their own demands. When Todd Field said he didn’t want any music or character exposition for 2006 relationship drama “Little Children,” Woollen used the sound of a train as a driving arc to build up to the trailer’s climax. “I need some sense of rhythm,” he said. “The sound of this piece spoke to the Kate Winslet character’s longings as the trailer progresses to the intersection in the couple’s relationship, what’s under the surface as the train comes closer and is approaching, is the magical moment in the film when Patrick Wilson is playing trains with his son. The high point of everything is raging and accelerating after that. We figured it out.”

The Coens also challenged Woollen to make an unusual trailer to match their quirky 2009 drama “A Serious Man.” “There was a shot of the main character Michael Stulbarg, getting his head hit against the chalkboard in his classroom,” said Woollen. “I took that. One of the things you are not supposed to do in trailers is repeat a shot. But that one-and-a-half second moment became an amazing rhythm heartbeat baseline for the trailer. What better illustration of the character at the point he’s put through an existential crisis, with his wife asking for divorce, he’s up for tenure for his job, he’s crashing his car, asking for help, than literally banging his head against the wall?”

Some of Woollen’s approaches are so fresh, they wind up being embraced by his competitors. Woollen initiated the trend of using music covers as a trailer’s backdrop, with “The Social Network” he found an unreleased Belgian choir doing a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” to use as the trailer’s anthem. “I was doing one thing at that time that has since happened over and over again,” he said. “I was tired of it six months after we did it, with people knocking it off. While I’m still responding to whatever is special and unique about the film, I’m still trying to stay current, respond to the new, figure what the new is. It’s an industry which can have tropes that you want to stay away from.”

Other editors are faster than he is. But he knows one thing: “I know where the cut needs to be, what frame to cut on. ‘This is it’!”

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.

Source: Indiewire

"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" RELATED
Published on 20 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen

It's a happy moment for Harry Potter fans when the young cast pops up in the limelight, especially when they're together. Tom Felton Draco Malfoy and Emma Watson Hermione Granger brought that joy to instagram this morning.

The actor behind Draco Malfoy posted a photo of the pair practicing guitar in their pajamas. The Deathly Hallows actor captioned the photo with "quick learner x." It was taken in South Africa, but no other details have been released by either star about their trip or the significance of Emma learning some musical skills.

Tom Felton and Emma Watson have remained friends throughout the years, posting a selfie or video here and there. In February, Watson posted a picture of her taken by her co-star. Then in November, she shared a beach-side picture of the two of them to promote Felton's TV series Origin. The horror, sci-fi series followed a group of strangers trapped on a spacecraft headed for another planet. Tom Felton starred alongside fellow Potter alum Natalia Tena Tonks. Unfortunately, the Youtube Premium show only lasted one season of ten episodes.

Related: The Harry Potter Murderer: Collector Kills Friend & Hides Body with Memorabilia

The two friends each got their big break when the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone hit theaters in 2001. The film was based on J.K. Rowlings groundbreaking children's book by the same name Unless you're in the U.K., then it's "Philosopher's Stone". It went on to spawn seven more in the series under Warner Bros. production as well as one of most dedicated fanbase.

Potter has grown into a massive media machine. With a universe known as the Wizarding World, Rowling's creation now includes another film franchise titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that is expected to have at least five films in total when its done, as well as theme parks, games, a successful play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and one of the most lucrative merchandise collections.

Emma Watson was eleven when she appeared on the big screen for the first time in Sorcerer's Stone. When her time as Hermione was done, she didn't shy away from high-profile films. She starred in the coming-of-age Perks of Being a Wallflower based on John Green's young adult novel by the same name, and Sophia Coppola's The Bling Ring. Her short appearance in This is the End alongside Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson was comedic gold. Watson returned to the tentpole films to play Belle in the live-action The Beauty and the Beast.

Unlike his co-stars, Tom Felton was a bit of seasoned actor by the time he bleached his hair to play the wily antagonist Draco Malfoy, having already appeared in The Burrowers and Anna and the King among others. His career after Potter has been a bit more obscure than Watson's. He featured briefly in the well-received Rise of the Planet of the Apes as the villain's self-righteous and animal-abusing son. From there, he went on to smaller films and television appearances. He even portrayed Julian Albert for the majority of The Flash's season 3.

You can catch Emma Watson in Little Women when it hits theaters in December, and we hope to see her catch up with the rest of the Potter cast sometime soon. This comes direct from Tom Felton's Instagram.

Source: Movieweb

"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" RELATED
Published on 19 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen
ir="ltr">EXCLUSIVE: Beauty And The Beast and Legion star Dan Stevens is joining Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan in Netflix comedy Eurovision.

ir="ltr">Currently in production in the UK and Iceland, the spoof about the campy Euro singing contest reunites Ferrell with his Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin. Stevens will star as Alexander Lemtov, a Russian contestant. Ferrell and McAdams play aspiring Icelandic musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir with Brosnan aboard as Erick Erickssong, Lars’ father and ‘the most handsome man in Iceland’.

ir="ltr">Ferrell has scripted with Andrew Steele and produces with Jessica Elbaum and Chris Henchy for Gary Sanchez Productions. Adam McKay is executive producer.

The 64th edition of the competition had its finale in Tel Aviv, Israel in May this year, where The Netherlands triumphed with the song ‘Arcade’, performed by Duncan Laurence. The first contest was held in Switzerland in 1956 with seven West European nations participating.

This year 41 countries competed for the prize and the TV broadcast is now a big ratings event. The latest edition pulled in 182M viewers globally. Former contestants include ABBA winner in 1974 for Sweden and Céline Dion winner in 1988 for Switzerland.

Stevens, also well known for his role in hit ITV series Downton Abbey, will next be seen alongside Natalie Portman in sci-fi-drama Lucy In The Sky and has movies Call Of The Wild, Rental and Blithe Spirit upcoming.

Source: deadline.com

"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" RELATED
Published on 14 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen
em>Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding is set to topline Paramount’s G.I. Joe spinoff Snake Eyes.

Robert Schwentke is directing with Brian Goldner producing. Project is being written by Beauty and the Beast scribe Evan Spiliotopoulos.

The most recent edition of G.I. Joe is inspired by the 1980s Hasbro toys which had an ancillary life in a TV series and Marvel published comic-book. Snake Eyes is special mercenary on the G.I. Joe armed forces, specifically a ninja commando. In the comic-book, his body was burned, hence the reason why he’s clad in black. In the comic-book a plotline that was adapted into the movies, we learn that Snake eyes is the brother of Storm Shadow, his arch rival who works for G.I. Joe’s main enemy, Cobra.

Variety had the news about Golding. The G.I. Joe franchise across a 2009 and 2013 sequel has grossed over $678M at the worldwide box office.

Source: deadline.com

"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" RELATED
Published on 14 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen

Sony Pictures has finally released the first trailer for Little Women. This serves as Greta Gerwig's directorial follow-up to 2017's Lady Bird, which almost instantly puts this in the Oscar conversation on that point alone. Yet, we also have a new take on some truly treasured source material, in addition to a truly impressive ensemble cast.

The trailer kicks off by painting a picture of the special bond shared between the sisters at the heart of the story. We also get a strong sense for Jo, played by Saoirse Ronan, who is a progressive woman in her time, doing her best to make her own way in the world, despite being told that's not the way things work. Dramatic tension is built as relationships begin to form. The key takeaways here are how stunning and lush the movie looks, as it's clear Sony was willing to spend some money to make this thing look top-notch. It's also very clear that Greta Gerwig has a specific take on the source material and this will set itself apart from previous adaptations.

Related: Emma Watson Replaces Emma Stone in Greta Gerwig's Little Women Remake

Per the studio, Greta Gerwig has crafted an adaptation of Little Women that is inspired by both the classic novel and further writings of author Louisa May Alcott. The story unfolds as the author's er ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. The story centers on the March sisters, four young women each determined to live life on her own terms. Alcott's tale was originally published in two volumes between 1868 and 1869, before being collected in a full novel in 1890. The story has been adapted numerous times in the past, with the most successful being the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder. The BBC also aired a well-regarded miniseries based on the book in 2017.

The ensemble includes Saoirse Ronan Brooklyn as Jo, Emma Watson Beauty and the Beast as Meg, Florence Pugh Midsommar as Amy and Eliza Scanlen Sharp Objects as Beth. Timothee Chalamet Call Me By Your Name also stars as their neighbor Laurie, with Laura Dern Big Little Lies as Marmee and Meryl Streep Florence Foster Jenkins as Aunt March. Originally, Emma Stone was eyed for the role of Meg, but had to drop out, paving the way for Watson to take her place. In any event, the cast has several Oscar nominees and a handful of Hollywood's most respected young stars. And Steep, who has the most Oscar nominations of anyone in history.

Last time Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan teamed up, great things happened. Lady Bird was a critical smash, going on to earn $78 million at the box office. It also racked up a handful of Oscar nominations, including one for Gerwig as Best Director, making her one of very few women to ever earn a nomination in that category. Will lightning strike twice? We'll find out this Christmas as Little Women is set to hit theaters on December 25. Be sure to check out the trailer from the Sony Pictures Entertainment YouTube channel for yourself.

Source: Movieweb

"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" RELATED
Published on 13 Aug 1919
movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen

The Lion King is now officially Disney's biggest original hit ever at the box office. Original in that it isn't officially based on any existing intellectual property, such as the Marvel movies or anything from the Star Wars franchise. Granted, there remains intense debate as to whether or not Disney ripped off Kimba the White Lion, but since The Lion King isn't officially based on that particular cartoon, legally speaking, it's original. With what it brought in over the weekend, the movie has now taken its rightful place as king.

Over the weekend, the Jon Favreau-directed remake of The Lion King earned an additional $20 million at the domestic box office. It's total now stands at $473 million domestically and $861 million abroad, bringing its grand total to a mind-numbing $1.33 billion. That is especially staggering when factoring in the movie has been in theaters for less than a month. Either way, it now stands above Frozen $1.27 billion as the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. It has also passed Beauty and the Beast $1.25 billion to become the studio's most successful remake.

Overall, Disney has released just six movies that have grossed more. This year's Avengers: Endgame $2.79 billion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens $2.05 billion, Avengers: Infinity War $2.04 billion, The Avengers $1.51 billion, Avengers: Age of Ultron $1.4 billion and Black Panther $1.34 billion. All of those are part of pre-existing franchises, meaning The Lion King is about as big as it gets for something not connected to an adapted property. And considering that the remake still has a long way to go, it could easily jump up a few spots on the chart before all is said and done.

Related: Disney's Lion King Remake Reignites Controversy Over Original's Anime Origins

One interesting element to this whole thing is that there seems to be some confusion over what record or records The Lion King just broke. Even before the movie's release, people were debating whether or not this movie is live-action or animated. While it looks photorealistic, the entire movie save for one shot was created using CGI, so it is technically animated. Jon Favreau previously revealed that he slipped in one real shot at the beginning to see if anyone would notice, which really only serves to complicate matters.

Whatever anyone wants to call it, it's another brick in the impressive wall that is 2019 for Disney. The studio has already had a record-breaking year and they could wind up becoming the first studio to ever earn $10 billion at the box office in a single year. It's also worth mentioning The Lion King accomplished this, despite a mixed response from critics, as it currently holds a 52 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, the audience rating is 88, so there is clearly a disconnect there, which seems to be an increasingly common occurrence. This news was previously reported by Forbes.

Source: Movieweb

movie news From ‘Schindlers List to A Hidden Life,’ the Unsung Hero of Awards-Season Trailers Is Mark Woollen
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