Rulebook

Originally posted between the James Cameron and Jim Henson Projects.

This current limbo between Projects is intentional, a moment to reflect and take a breath before I jump into another long countdown. These Projects take considerable time and effort to write up and need their space without being crammed next to another guy or gal.

A friend and reader asked me to clarify my rules on eligibility. For example, in The James Cameron Project, I left out a lot of his career work, such as Aliens of the Deep, “Expedition: Bismark”, his screenplays for Rambo II and Strange Days, plus his work on the television show “Dark Angel”, among other things. I originally posted some reasons why as part of the kickoff, but now is a good time to expand and explain the way I see it.

The Rules:

1.) I only look at feature films. It’s very difficult to compare TV Shows to screenplays to films to experimental bunraku/rock opera theatre fusions. A TV program is a hodgepodge of a different directors and writers, each driving the project in a direction picked by the lead showrunner. In other words, there are too many cooks to judge the soup. Screenplays are interesting for insight into the director, but who knows how much they change when taken from the writer’s hands and given to a different director. (Rambo II is a prime example, actually, as Cameron has largely disowned its heavy political content as not his own.) Only films are easily compared to one another.

2.) Movies must be released theatrically. Television and film are simply different mediums, with unique requirements and visual languages. A movie shown on the big screen is not just like a TV show, only bigger. If a product is made specifically for the TV medium – such as Cameron’s “Expedition: Bismark” – than it will generally have different set-ups, smaller budgets, tighter scope, breaks for commercials, and more. There are rare exceptions, and the line does blur on occasion, but generally a TV movie does not fairly compare to a feature film. (Exceptions are possible for direct-to-DVD flicks. I’ll have to judge it a film at a time.)

3.) Movies must have one director only. Co-directors muck things up too much. How can we really be sure who shot what footage, or who coached a particular performance? A co-directing pair creates an all new entity, such as The Wachowski Brothers. This rule eliminated James Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep, which was released theatrically on IMAX, but was co-directed by Steven Quale. (For the record, I would have put it between Piranha 2 and Ghosts of the Abyss. It’s pretty lame most of the time.)

4.) No shorts. Not only because they’re hard to find, and thus review, but how can I seriously put Jason Reitman’s film Gulp, a 10-minute short about a man desperate to get his goldfish to the sea, on the same footing as Juno or Thank You For Smoking?

And the most important rule of them all…

5.) I do what feels right at the time. I may decide to break one of these rules at any point. In fact, I plan to break one in the very next Hollywood Project because, if I didn’t, the director wouldn’t be eligible at all. What I can promise is that there will always be some kind of logic behind the decision. Or, at the very least, it will make sense to me. The point of this site is to have fun without getting too bogged down into rules and boundaries. These are just the guidelines, so you know where I’m coming from.

One last piece of business: If you look over on the right side of the screen, you will see James Cameron’s name under a listing. This is the future home of any Projects after they’ve been completed, so you can go back and review past Projects or read any that you may have missed.

See everyone Tuesday for a hint at our next subject.

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