Friday, April 18, 2014

Peter O'Brien Director Reel

Peter O'Brien Director Reel

Featuring the selected works of my creative portfolio. Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

TROUBLE BOUND - It Don't Matter Music Video

TROUBLE BOUND - It Don't Matter Music Video (Misery Loves Company)

Please check out the brand new music video for TROUBLE BOUND - It Don't Matter off their album Here to the End... (2005).

The video was filmed during principal photography on Misery Loves Company

This video will be featured on the new VIDEOS page, which will showcase all original content produced by Visually Hidden

Related Links:

Feedback is always welcome, so please, leave a comment.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 24

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Dir. Henry Selick

Drawing inspiration from animated holiday specials like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was originally conceived as a poem written by Tim Burton, which itself was inspired by the poem, A Visit from Saint Nicolas (aka: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas). Nightmare was the third consecutive Christmas related film that Burton had been associated with, beginning with Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Batman Returns (1992). In fact, he didn't have as much to do with the production of Nightmare as many people think, outside of working on the story, based on his poem, and character design, because he was busy filming Batman Returns and preparing to shoot Ed Wood (1994). The actual director, Henry Selick, who went on to direct James and the Giant Peach (1996), worked closely with Burton prepping the film and oversaw the day-to-day filming and handled most of the decision making in terms of the story and action. Beginning with Danny Elfman's songs, which were written well in advance of principal photography, Selick and his team set out on a two year adventure of making Tim Burton's Nightmare a reality. Although the stop-motion animated style is directly inspired by Rudolf, Nightmare delivers it with much more ambitious sophistication.The themes and morals explored in the film are also not that unique in terms of content, but the art, animation, and music makes the film an enjoyable alternative to traditional holiday viewing.  The Nightmare Before Christmas acts as a transitional holiday film, segueing from the horror of Halloween, into the merriment of Christmas. 

"Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good fright

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 23

A Christmas Carol Blowout (1843 - Present) - Dir. Various

A Christmas Carol (1843) is hands down the quintessential holiday feast for the mind's eye. Since it was first published in 1843 the story has been adapted more times than can be counted, between theater, radio, television, and film. Charles Dickens would even perform an edited version of the story during pubic readings up until is death in 1870. The story is highly regarded as an inspiration for way Christmas is perceived today in a non-theological, social sense. It is interesting to note that many people often speak of getting, or having, the Christmas spirit, meaning that they wish to conduct themselves in a festive manner, while in this story the Christmas spirit(s) are a litteral manifestation that instill an ideological sense of merriment. The story is often presented in its original historical 19th century setting. However, occasionally it has been modified or updated to appeal to a wider audience.

Beginning with the silent short, Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost (1901), A Christmas Carol has been adapted to film more than twenty times over the last 110 years, averaging a new rendition just about every five years. These different versions are split between short films, animated shorts and features, international versions, and musicals. A classic tale deserves a classic presentation, which has led to one of the most beloved versions of the story being Scrooge (retitled A Christmas Carol in the United States) (1951), staring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. Filmed in black and white, it is the last non-musical, live-action feature length version of the original story to be produced. 

The story, while dark and morbid in content, has a moral center which makes it ideal for children looking for a religious substitute or relief from watchful St. Nick's hit list. One of the reasons A Christmas Carol is so popular, aside from being an incredibly well written, imaginative masterpiece of literature, is that it is in the public domain, which means anybody can use the story, characters, premis, or setting to make a buck. For these two reasons A Christmas Carol has had several versions created and marketed towards children. Everyone from Mr. Magoo, Yosemite Sam, to Beavis has played Scrooge in their respective Christmas specials. Of course, one of the most well produced versions is Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), which stars Scrooge McDuck in the role he was drawn to play. The short was released theatrically with The Rescuers (1977) and has since become a classic in its own right, being released on video and DVD along with annual airplay during the holidays. Even the Muppets broke into the act with The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), a very faithful (in terms of the story) live-action musical adaptation staring Michel Caine as formidable Ebenezer Scrooge.

By the late 1980s the world had changed so much that the same old Scrooge in the same old context just wasn't registering. The story, which was still relavent, needed modernizing. The result was Scrooged (1988), a dark comedy starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a Scrooge-like character. Directed by Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon (1987)), the film takes place in the present day with Murray playing a lonely, cruel, miserable, selfish television executive, who happens to be producing a live version of A Christmas Carol. Running out the same fate of his fictional counterpart, Murray is warned by his former boss and mentor about the error of his ways and subsequently visited by three spirits who proceed to "scare the Dickens" out of him. The film also features the first foray into the holiday realm for Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992)), who wrote the musical score.

Most recently the story has been brought back around to its 19th century setting, adapted into a motion capture animated feature by Robert Zemeckis, as simply A Christmas Carol (2009). The film stars Jim Carrey as not only Scrooge, but also the three ghosts that haunt him throughout his emotional metamorphosis. It is a thematic compliment to Zemeckis' previous holiday effort, The Polar Express (2004)

Regardless of the setting or presentation, it is the story of A Christmas Carol that remains universally appealing and timeless. The themes of greed and generosity, forgiveness and redemption, friendship and the belief that there is good in everyone are the cornerstones of the Christmas spirit, and in a sense, every story that has followed it. Its importance isn't regulated to Christmas, but simply enhanced by it. Any enjoyment felt by the festivities of the holiday are more than likely the result of the impact that this story has had on our culture. By that account, in his eternal literary existence, Ebenezer Scrooge has become the spirit of Christmas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 22

A Christmas Story (1983) - Dir. Bob Clark

A Christmas Story (1983) has become something of a phenomenon in American popular culture over the last twenty years. It is a contemporary classic with a nostalgic feel that speaks to the child in all of us. Everybody, when they were a kid, had that one ideal dream gift. The one that kept you on good behavior even after the threat of Santa's watchful eye was poked out by schoolyard reality. In the case of A Christmas Story we follow young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) as he recounts his holiday quest for, "an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time (a sundial)." Ralphie's tenacious pursuit of the famed BB gun is the one through line in the film, which is composed of a series of comedic anecdotal vignettes surrounding his family during the Christmas of 1940. The film is actually narrated by the author of the semi-autobiographical story, Jean Shepherd, whose cynical witticisms give the movie a more genuine feel, as though it is being told by your grandfather, or great-grandfather. 

Based on Shepherd's collection of short stories, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash (Doubleday 1966), the director, Bob Clark, worked with Shepherd and Leigh Brown to fit the stories together within the setting of Christmas. The film had been in the works for many years prior to being filmed, but Clark had trouble securing financing for the film. It wasn't until the success of his teen sex comedy, Porky's (1982), that Clark was able to secure financing for A Christmas Story. Clark had previously directed the original slasher Christmas classic, Black Christmas (1974), a sharp contrast to the light-hearted A Christmas Story

When the film was originally released in the fall of 1983 it was not the runaway success that many people believe it to be. In fact, it was pulled from most theaters before Christmas had even arrived. Suffering the same delayed fate as It's A Wonderful Life (1946), A Christmas Story found its audience on home video and television broadcasts. Most of the fans only know the film from the annual 24 hour marathons on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. This newfound legacy for the film has inspired a musical adaptation (produced by original star, Peter Billingsley), a museum in the original house used for  the exterior shots in the film, and countless forms of merchandise, including the atrociously gaudy "Major Award" leg lamp, cherished in the film by The Old Man (Darren McGavin).

All of these components still wouldn't mean anything without Shepherd's timeless words to bring them together. His narration is easily the most delightful part of the film because it complements the action and character's responses so well. To remove the narration would completely alter the film and turn the character of Ralphie into a quiet kid, who only really talks about getting a gun, and violently lashes out at people who pick on him. As it is the film paints an authentic picture of Christmas that spans time and will continue to do so until the aliens or zombies come, but by then we'll all be packing heat, thanks to the time honored morals featured in A Christmas Story.

"The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received,
or would ever receive."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 21

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas (2009) - Dir. Fred Savage

If there's one title on this entire list that will help you get out of that rut you're in and bring it back to basics it's most certainly A Very Sunny Christmas (2009). The gang serves up some much needed holiday cheer in their quest to embrace the Christmas spirit. The show combines many familiar themes from pop-culture in its storyline while still remaining unique. From the beginning the show deals with Charlie and Mac (Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney) embracing the Christmas spirit by clinging to their holiday traditions. Conflict arrises when Mac finds out that his criminal father lied to him about how he got his presents Christmas morning and Charlie realizes that his mother was doing a little more than thanking Santa for brining him gifts on Christmas morning. Feeling that their Christmas spirit is being tested they rise to the challenge of defending it. 

Meanwhile Dennis and Dee (Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olsen) attempt to convince Frank (Danny DeVito) that he was a horrible father and that his Christmas "fake-outs" over the years has irreversibly ruined Christmas for them, short of receiving reparations. Together they take inspiration from A Christmas Carol and try to show Frank the error of his ways by displaying his past, present, and possible future. None of it has any effect on Frank, as he knows they are just doing it to receive gifts, thereby validating his efforts all along by trying to instill in them that they are selfish and have to earn what they get. The show also features a nostalgic stop-motion claymation musical sequence, ala Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), that acts as an epiphany for the gang. In the end they are ultimately brought together by the Christmas spirit and partake in the most sacred of Mac and Charlie's holiday traditions, guaranteed to make you feel better - throwing rocks at trains.

Get the Christmas Spirit!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 20

Stocking Stuffers - Dir. Various

In the grand scheme of things stocking stuffers are loose end presents at best. Generally they are something small that the receiver will enjoy, regardless of its function or their interest, but not as much as those stacked under the tree. They could also be considered after thought presents, like 
candy or school or office supplies, even something that goes along with another gift, like batteries. I've even witnessed people receive cash and cigarettes in their stocking. With an advent calendar there is no consolation prize for playing along. However, since there are so many Christmas specials and films to choose from, and only 24 days to share them, perhaps this post will bring that ever expected grin of satisfaction to your face. They might not all be classics, revolutionary, inspiring, insightful, or unique, but on some level they are enjoyable.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 19

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Dir. Jeremiah S. Chechik

A good old-fashioned family Christmas with all the trimmings, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) continues to chronicle the familial misadventures of the Griswold family under the patriarchy of Clark W. Griswold Jr. (Chevy Chase). Written by John Hughes, who also wrote the holiday classic Home Alone (1990), the screenplay is based off of a short story he had written for National Lampoon magazine in 1980 entitled Christmas '59. As far as Christmas comedies go, this one succeeds where so many fail, by taking a realistic approach to the modern family Christmas. Clark Griswold is the physical embodiment of an eccentric father. The film begins with him leading his family into the wilderness to select the perfect Christmas tree and having to pull it out by the roots after his son, Rusty, reminds him that he forgot to bring a saw. From there Clark spends days covering his house with 25,000 Christmas lights, just in time for his parents, in-laws, and unwanted cousins to show up. Nothing is sugar coated between all of these clashing personalities, which again makes the film quite realistic and relatable. When it comes to the actual humor of the film there is a good balance between Chase's deadpan delivery and physical comedy/stunts. As entertaining and sympathetic as Chase is in his struggle to maintain order in chaos, Randy Quaid, once again playing the deplorable cousin Eddie, manages to steal the show and drive the story to a warm-hearted conclusion. 

"Merry Christmas!
Shitter was full!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 18

The Simpsons Christmas Grab Bag (1989 - Present) - Dir. Various

What better way to kick off a series than with a Christmas special? It introduces the characters in a memorable, relatable, and enjoyable setting that, in a sense, never gets old. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989) was the first full-length episode of the series to air on prime-time television. It premiered on December 17th, 1989 and hasn't looked back since, with the show currently in its 23rd season. Unlike most series, The Simpsons (1989) has spanned decades - plural. In an effort to remain relevant over the course of that time there have been eleven Christmas related episodes. Of course none are as genuine or sincere as the first, making it a classic not only in terms of the series, but also among the specials. It wasn't until the seventh season that the writers re-visited the Christmas setting with Marge Be Not Proud (1995). From there the frequency of Christmas shows increased to an anual, or bi-anual event. The ninth season brought Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (1997), which played on the title of Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and parodied elements of It's a Wonderful Life (1946). This trend of parodying established Christmas classics became a staple in further holiday episodes. Grift of the Magi (1999), from season eleven incorporated elements from both How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) and A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens. Unlike the earlier episodes from '89 & '95 - all the later Christmas episodes seemed to be less and less oriented with Christmas, requiring elaborate set-ups to get the characters involved in the holiday. In one case, with the season 12 episode, Skinner's Sense of Snow (2000), they make mention of Christmas early on and then just throw a bizzarre Christmas greeting at the very end. In addition to parodying the show has also embraced the use of gimmicks, as with the season twenty-two episode, The Fight Before Christmas (2010), which featured a live action Katy Perry interacting with several Simpson characters as muppets. Clearly the show has taken a gradual nosedive, as can be marked by the individual Christmas episodes. However, for contemporary, sentimental, dysfunctional family hi-jinks the original Simpsons Christmas special stands the test of time as well as Charlie Brown, The Grinch, and even Rudolf

Simpson Christmas Specials:

- Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)
- Marge Be Not Proud (1995) 
- Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (1997)
- Grift of the Magi (1999)
- Skinner's Sense of Snow (2000)
- She of Little Faith (2001)
- 'Tis the Fifteenth Season (2003)
- Simpsons Christmas Stories (2005)
- Kill Gil, Volumes I & II (2006)
- The Fight Before Christmas (2010)
- Holidays of Future Passed (2011)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 17

Die Hard (1988) - Dir. John McTiernan

The Internet is riddled with articles and lists arguing the many ways in which Die Hard (1988) should be considered the greatest Christmas movie of all time. They tend to focus on exaggerated themes of good vs. evil, battling commercialism and greed, the importance of family, and even theological comparisons of the main character, John McClane (Bruce Willis) to Jesus Christ. However, the thing that people usually close with are the massive amounts of bullets and explosions, which lighten up the film in a festive, decorative manner. On top of that, the score, composed by Michael Kamen, also features several classical arrangements and holiday themes and cues, not to mention abundant references to classic and contemporary Christmas carols. Set during the holidays and taking place on Christmas Eve, the film doesn't need specific references to previous Christmas classics to be considered a holiday film. Die Hard is actually based on the 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp entitled, Nothing Lasts Forever, which itself is a sequel to his previous work, The Detective. Aside from a few small changes, Die Hard sticks very close to its source material, right down to the corporate Christmas party setting. At it's core the main theme of the story is the importance of family and reconciliation. Unlike other action oriented holiday films, like Lethal Weapon (1987), Die Hard takes place in one night, at one location, so the Christmas setting is always constant.