TCM Movie Camp Geek Out with Moonbot

I can’t think of anything cooler this summer than William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios hosting TCM’s new Movie Camp show aimed at young adults and future filmmakers, which kicks off Sunday with Close Encounters of the Third Kind at 8:00 pm EST. We had fun geeking out this week about the lineup, which includes The Adventures of Robin Hood, Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Duck SoupStrangers on a Train, and Singin’ in the Rain. Talking to the Moonbot guys really is like film school and movie camp rolled into one.

On Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Joyce: Jaws had been so revelatory in many ways — it felt like classical cinema but made new. But Close Encounters had more of that Warner Bros./Michael Curtiz thing going on with the cuts and camera moves and John Williams score with a whole different flair to it.  So I’m sitting there at the Medallion Theater in Dallas and it was a theater that Spielberg used for sneak previews…. It felt so visceral…. Every shot was driving me insane with the beauty of the compositions, the depth of field, and the allusions to different movies. It was like, “Wow! We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore!” So much of the cinema back then had a dark edge — I’m not complaining — but this had a better sense of escapism.

Oldenburg: I remember hearing about the test screening at the Medallion because my brother got to go and then the movie finally came out and I got to see it with my brother and he was totally confused and thrown off because [it was different]. One of the things that I’ve always loved about those films that Spielberg was creating in the ’70s and early ’80s was the overlapping dialogue of children in the background with adults acting like children on top.

On Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Joyce: We chose it because we were able to make a connection at least at Moonbot with our employees, and it was like: “Come see this movie because this is where the Coen brothers got a lot of their ideas.” When [Gary Cooper's] heart gets broken and he just stays on the back of his head, you see a little bit of his profile, it’s two minutes of quiet. But you could hear a pin drop in a theater full of Moonbots. They were living that moment, and just the artfulness of where he put that camera and the willingness to let Deed’s humiliation and his pain just sit there on the screen is extraordinary filmmaking.

Oldenburg: Of all the films on the list, that was one of the ones that Bill really wanted to show that I had not seen. When I started to watch that film to prepare, I was so engrossed and it had me at tuba. There are elements of It’s a Wonderful Life peeking through these films.

On Mr. Bug Goes to Town

Joyce: We wanted to pay respect to the Fleischers. It’s slipped into obscurity and the beginning is kind of a mess, but, man there are hunks of it that are amazing, even in the beginning when they go to the nightclub and set up the city. It was modern and not a “Once Upon a Time.” But the whole last third when they’re fleeing from the construction is some of the most dynamic cinema ever, not just in animation.

Oldenburg: The Fleischer brothers put everything on the line for this film and they were pushing the bar and the unfortunate release date for this was right before Pearl Harbor. So it bombed. And it was the death blow to everything they created. But we’ve always loved the Fleischer brothers, not only for this work but for the Superman serial and how they innovated rotoscoping during the art deco era.

On The Adventures of Robin Hood

Joyce: For me, Robin Hood is the best adventure film. And you can see so much of Star Wars comes from it. In a way, it weaves a magic spell of heroism and romance and the tough, exuberant, joy of filmmaking. And the joy of watching people who are very good at their heroics and having a good time.

On The Day the Earth Stood Still

Joyce: That was really important to get that one in there. It’s the first movie that I remember seeing. And I wasn’t even sure what a movie was. But we were sitting down at my grandmother’s to watch this. It just hits this primal, little kid [spot]. It’s a beautifully, seriously, crafted, science-fiction and brings it down to this almost Norman Rockwell level. And there was something otherworldly about Michael Rennie.

TCM Movie Camp – Modern Miniatures from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Events, Movies, Tech, TV, VFX

Add a Comment