This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Buckle Up, Relax, And Enjoy Your Flight.

I've flown a lot in my lifetime. Not as often as a business traveler, but probably more often than the average person. I got to experience the very tail end of the glamour era of flying-- back when kids still "earned their wings" on United and flights included not only snacks, but actual meals. As a kid, I loved playing around with the flight simulators at American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, TX where a family member worked. I daydreamed about being a flight attendant. Then, I got older and seriously looked into it, but I can't swim (which is a requirement in case of a water landing) and I didn't want the airline to pick where my home base was going to be. Then 9/11 happened, which sunk my interest entirely. And changed things forever.

Though the airline industry is far different now, I recently flew Delta Airlines and it reminded me of how things used to be. After the flight, I was e-mailed a survey asking for feedback on my travels. Normally, I delete those things. I don't want to take the time. Then I thought of how many people complain incessantly about airlines these days (for good reason.) There's the body scanners, removing your shoes, carry-on limitations, gels and liquids, baggage fees, overcrowded cabins...There's a lot to complain about. Since I had a surprisingly positive experience however, I felt the airline should know. Here's what I wrote:

"Flying has gotten a bad rap in recent years. I used to love to fly, now I dread it. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Delta! All 4 flights I had on my recent travels were comfortable, carry-on baggage was accommodated, even other fliers seemed to be more polite than usual. I think much of it was a result of the flight crew creating a community during our time in the skies with them. For ex: On one flight, the flight crew announced that it was our pilot's last flight; he was retiring. They passed around a framed plaque for all of us to sign. Flight attendants were pleasant and even appeared to be enjoying their jobs-- something I haven't seen in a very long time. My fellow fliers seemed to be actually enjoying the flights, too--something I also haven't seen much lately. I've flown every major airline: American, US Airways, United, Continental and several international carriers. There are some I'd never fly again, but Delta is a carrier I'll seek out in the future. I'm sure you get many more negative comments than good ones, but I'd like to say: Thank you for making my travels comfortable and enjoyable. Keep it up!"

For these reasons, I've been enticed by the the ads and billboards for the new ABC TV series, Pan Am, which is a period drama staged in the trendy world of the most famous defunct airline. I'm a huge fan of AMC's Mad Men, which jump-started the '60s nostalgia trend. That said, I have high hopes for Pan Am. I'm interested in the concept and the time period. It also stars Christina Ricci, an actor whom I think has been underutilized in recent years. I hope it's well-written. I hope the stars align and all the right elements are ready for take-off, but as with every show, the chances are slim. Maybe they won't pull it off as well as I would've liked. Maybe they're capitalizing on the resurgence of interest in the '60s. New shows, even the best of them, have a habit of disappearing into thin air. For Pan Am, I'll look to the skies and smile-- hoping for the best.

Buckle Up, Adventure calls. And thank you for choosing Pan Am!
Pan Am premieres tonight [Sept 25] 10/9c on ABC

Pan Am History

© 2011 by KLiedle

Photo credit: UW Digital Collections, Pan Am TV series promo

UPDATE:  It was announced today that Pan Am, along with many other shows, is cancelled.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Touch. The Feel. Of Film.

It's nearing the end. The lights are on. The magic is gone. Movies on a flash drive, digitized and pixelated. This is where we've arrived. I knew this day would come, but I didn't know exactly how or when.

I remember when we painstakingly cleaned the 8mm family movies my grandfather had shot. We sprayed a chemical on it and carefully brushed away the dust, dirt and fingerprints. We did this frame-by-frame, reel-by-reel. The process gave me a respect for film and respect for my family's past--long before I even existed. I learned that film was to be treasured and preserved--not cast aside and neglected. In actuality, there may be no way to screen these films in the future.

In past few years, theaters have been disposing their film projectors in favor of digital projectors. This is the future, as much as I hate to admit it. Digital projectors go for upwards of $150,000 or more while an industry film projector will set you back about $35,000-$50,000. That figure's probably less now that theaters are unloading their 35mm projectors to anyone who will take them. It makes me angry and sad. The lifespan of a film projector used to be 30-40 years, but rumor has it that some theaters have apparently even resorted to selling them for scrap. In contrast, digital projectors may last you ten years, but we all know that technology will advance and those digital projectors you buy today will be obsolete tomorrow.

I admit; I'm attached to film. I'm attached to its texture, its richness, its depth, its majesticness, and ultimately, its fragility. With film, every frame-- like every moment of our lives-- flickers only briefly. Moments matter. They make up our past and determine our future.

From beginning to end, film sputters and spools its way to the screen. It works hard to put on a show: running 24 frames per second, 16 frames per foot, and 90 feet per minute. Digital is robotic. Point and click. Hit start. It does what you tell it to do. No emotion. No connection. Functional, it is. Beautiful, it is not.

Traditional studio prints are about $1500. Digital? Not much more than the cost of a flash drive. Although, the upfront cost for digital (projectors) is higher for exhibitors, it's cheaper in the long-term for everyone. Cheaper to shoot. Cheaper to distribute. Cheaper to exhibit. I'm glad that digital filmmaking has brought costs down especially for the independent filmmaker. And the quality of digital is getting better and better. However, there's no question that something has been lost... Cinema Paradiso.

© 2011 by KLiedle