What we’re listening to…

The Mighty Good Boys

Mighty Good Boys, Mighty Good Yes!  Not sure if that makes sense, but we’re going with it.

The Might Good Boys can be summed up… like you’re sitting at a picnic table surrounded by your favorite people about to dive into a mound of steamed Chesapeake Bay shellfish.  This combination of talented gents, are similar to a tasty mix of blue crabs, oysters, clams, crawfish, green beans and corn on the cob steamed in a bath of old bay, which will leave you wishing for more, or at least a napkin.

Hailing from Providence, RI, Corey, Travis, Nick, Jeff, Benny and Mike have been delighting crowds with their heavy influence of Appalachian & other American folk music styles.

Looking to plan summer trip?  Try ‘Taking a Train’ out of the city.  Fair warning, you might not want to come back.  Check out The Might Good Boys at reverbnation.com/themightygoodboys

As always, don’t forget to share your favorite songs of the summer on our Facebook Page or on Twitter using the hashtag #SupportBooks.

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Book Towers

Detroit book towertower-of-babel-book-tower

Stacking books has been a long tradition and necessary tool of those wanting to organize, carry or build.  Build???  Well if you’ve ever spent time in Detroit, you may have looked up to see the Book Tower, a stunning 38-story skyscraper in the Washington Boulevard Historic District.  Unfortunately the tower was not made of books, but rather named after three brothers, J. Burgess, Frank, and Herbert Book determined to turn the Detroit’s Washington Boulevard into the “Fifth Avenue of the West”.

Lucky for us though, in 2011 Buenos Aires was named World Book Capital by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  What better way to celebrate than build a spiraling tower built with over 30,000 donated books.  Artist Marta Minujin designed the Tower of Babel, as she named it, creating the installation 25-meters high.  Although the shelf life of the tower was only a month, when it was time to take the sculpture down visitors were encouraged to pick out a book and take it home with them.  Now that’s an idea worth building upon.

photo credits: UpNorth Memories – Donald (Don) Harrison & Guillermo Puglia via photopin cc

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A Note About Books

To our friends, family and colleagues,

We would like to start by thanking all of you who have supported us, in contributing to and sharing Books: A Documentary.  We truly appreciate your support and the kind words you have shared with us throughout this process.

When Sara and I first set out to make a film about Larry, we really wanted to make sure that we were making a film that was more than just a bio pic.  It was important to us to shed light on a world few rarely consider, the world of books.  Larry set in motion Sara’s love of books, and Larry’s own works have influenced generations of writers and readers alike.  Books: A Documentary is so much more than a film about an auction or Larry, it is a film about life-long passions, about community, and most of all about the power of books.  There are many films based on books, but few films about books.

As went enter into the final hours of our fundraising campaign, some of you may or may not know that Kickstarter works on an “All or Nothing” platform, which means that despite receiving pledges totaling over $22,500 from 145 backers, we will not see any of these pledged funds unless we reach our goal of $50,000.  Our $50,000 budget is broken down into three sections – $12,000 to fees and taxes – $8,000 to the remaining filming, which includes production, insurance and travel costs – $30,000 to post-production, which includes editing and sound mixing.  Having backed a number of projects on Kickstarter, it was important for us to curate the perks as items we would want for ourselves, or to share as gifts.

Our wish is to hold a screening of the final finished film for Larry in the last remaining building of the Archer City Booked-Up bookshop.  Film production provides a series of day-to-day, minute-by-minute hurdles a crew must overcome, charge through or even pick up and carry, to complete a film.  The real trick is to make a good film, where you not only enjoy the process but also the final product.  To finish the film we will be undertaking a huge coordination challenge.  We still have to send our camera crew to film the remaining interviews, follow up stories on the books themselves and the people who bought them across America.

Efficiency will play a huge role in making this remaining stage of shooting a success.  A successful film is a lot like a Gateau Marjolaine, a series of delicate layers that when put together in the right combination, create something to marvel at.  Now we are not trying to say that we want to be the next Robert J. Flaherty;  our goal is simply to make a really good film that you, the world and Larry will enjoy.

If you’ve donated in the past, thank you.  If you have not, please consider supporting us.  You can do so by visiting our Kickstarter Campaign.

Thank you,
Mathew Provost & Sara Ossana

Articles about Books: A Documentary

Publishers Weekely  –  Parade  –  Fine Books Magazine  –  Film Courage  –  The New Yorker  –  USA Today  –  The Casual Optimist – Book Riot

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Screening Room: ‘Books: A Documentary’

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Chris Barsanti

booksdoc

This is the killer Kickstarter pitch for a new proposed film project with the can’t-go-wrong title of Books: A Documentary:

This past August over 300,000 antiquarian books from Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up were sold at auction: This is the story of those Books.

Color us intrigued.

For those not already in awe of the man, Lonesome Dove and Brokeback Mountain author McMurtry also owns one of the nation’s great used-book emporiums. He told the tale of last fall’s great blowout sale at the New York Review of Books.

booksdoc2

According to Publishers Weekly, the filmmakers (husband-and-wife Sara Ossana and Mathew Provost) have already shot about half of the doc and need $50,000 to finish it up. Ossana notes that the film, which uses McMurtry’s sale to explore the modern book landscape, might be expected to be a downbeat tale about an industry and way of life in decline:

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The Last Book Scout…

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The world of the book scout is a changing landscape.  The very technology that seemingly threatens to submerge it has recently switched polarity and infused it with an unexpected resurgence.  The renaissance may be short lived, as the overall trend has shown book scouting to have gone from a popular pastime to an obscure practice.  What was once a busy profession abounding with hordes of enthusiasts, has turned into an archaic vocation kept alive by a handful of skilled connoisseurs.  Recently however, they have been joined by an influx of pickers armed with digital scanners, smart phones and online book selling savvy.

An old school book scout would scour classified ads for estate sales, garage sales, library sales and yard sales, paying particular attention to how they each were worded.  He, or she was wary of ads using the word “treasures” which translated to “junk” and kept a sharp eye out for buzz phrases like “English grad student moving” or “Philosophy professor passed away” which could have spelled pay dirt.  Armed with a vast knowledge of books from a lifetime of reading and a finely tuned intuition for locating quality print, they set out for these sales.  The goal: to unearth gems among the rubble, to buy them cheap and then sell them for profit.

One such man is none other than author Larry McMurtry, who explains having embarked on a career as a novelist in order to support his book buying habit.  He is the central figure in the upcoming indie film by Studio Seven7 Films called Books: A Documentary.  The film by Sara Ossana and myself tells the story of the three hundred thousand plus, of Larry McMurtry’s antiquated acquisitions that were auctioned off in August of 2012.  The event, which lasted just two days, was aptly named The Last Book Sale.  This historic occasion marks the culmination of forty years of Larry’s work as a book scout, and two thirds of what was amassed, being released back out into the world.

The auction no doubt drew book scouts cut from the same cloth as the proprietor of the four Booked Up storefronts in Archer City, Texas.  However, there was also a new breed of book buyer lurking about among the paperbacks and first editions.  The 21st century literary curator still combs through the classifieds for listings of book sales, but they rely more on technical gadgetry than upon applicable knowledge to cull profits from the piles of pages.  They use a handheld electronic scanner to weed through many volumes in one day, looking for titles that can be sold for profit.  Their scanner runs a book’s UPC code across a snapshot of the Amazon catalog.  The software then calculates the book’s worth.  Books with a high value are bought if a low price can be arranged and then re-sold online.  Many rare books are pre-UPC, where scanning a code is not an option.  In this case, they then pull out a smart-phone, loaded with latest apps and booked marked websites, and with a few clicks, now has all the information needed.

Similar to the world of baseball, an old-school scout would simply have taken the findings, cross referenced with years of gut instinct and stuffed notebooks, to bookstores or private collectors they had built relationships with over the years.  The new school scout harnesses the power of the internet, which although impersonal, has not necessarily cheapened the trade.  Online book reselling is highly competitive because there is money to be made.  This current model is a recent improvement on what was being done just a few years ago.  Before electronic scanners, new school book scouts had to use their cell phones to call friends or partners who were waiting at computers to look up titles that may have been valuable.  This resurgence in the popularity of old books is a refreshing development.  Perhaps the digital world will not yet fully render the analog world of information obsolete.

However, this begs the question: what improvements on the current strategy might the book scout of tomorrow employ?  Perhaps tomorrow’s book scout will find a title, scan it and take a picture of it all at once.  They could then post it online, find a buyer and collect the money digitally before ever paying for it and leaving the store.  Perhaps when teleportation is an everyday practice the process will go one step further and the scout will beam the book over to the buyer right then and there.  Sounds like a plot to a futuristic novel…

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Top 5 Must-See Sci-Fi Film Adaptations

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

On July 19, something Earth-shattering happened!  NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, located in Saturn’s system, captured color images of Earth and our moon, nearly 900 million miles away.  So, why is this such big news?  Not only was this the first time Cassini’s high-res wide angle camera clearly captured the Earth and the moon, it was also the first time Earth’s citizens were given advanced notice about the picture being taken.  More than 20,000 people, from all around the globe waved to Saturn at the same time!  Isn’t that just out of this world?  Now that you’re in the mood for some of your own space adventures, check out our top five films Science Fiction films adapted from books!

origin_283789943 Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902)

Inspired by Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon, Voyage Dans La Lune is considered the first science fiction movie ever!  The film is a light-critique of the conservative scientific community of its time.  Although it is a silent film, the imaginative technology speaks volumes for the time period.  The 14-minute movie was created by Georges Méliès, who is credited as the screenwriter, lead actor, director, set and costume designer, photographer, and producer of the film.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, The Sentinel, 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.  Known for its scientific accuracy, special effects, and minimal dialogue, the film includes elements of evolution, technology, artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life.  After the film was produced however, Arthur C. Clarke published a novel under the same name of the movie, so make sure you read the short story first.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)

In 1916, the first feature film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was created by Stuart Paton based upon another one of Jules Verne’s works, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  This deep sea adventure proved to be groundbreaking with its underwater photography by the George M. and J. Ernest Williamson brothers.  For its time period, the film was quite elaborate, paving the way for countless adaptations of the classic novel.

Minority Report (2002) & Oblivion (2013)

In the world of science fiction films, Tom Cruise has certainly made his mark.  In 2002, he portrayed Captain John Anderton in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.  This slick neo-noir sci-fi film was based on The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick, who also penned Total Recall.  Both the film and story explore the possibility of free-will, questioning if the future has already been shaped/determined in advance.  While the short story depicts Anderton as the 50-year old balding, out-of-shape, New York police officer creator of Precrime, Spielberg wanted the film to focus on “fifty percent character and fifty percent very complicated storytelling with layers and layers of murder mystery and plot”.  We think casting Tom Cruise in the revamped, younger, journeyman character role was the perfect choice in successfully bringing this story to the big screen.

Oblivion Storyboard by Phillip Norwood. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Oblivion Storyboard by Phillip Norwood. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

We had to add the recent Tom Cruise film Oblivion, co-written, produced, and directed by Joseph Kosinski to our list as an honorable mention.  The film is based on Kosinski’s graphic novel of the same name, which follows one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth.  Jack and his mesmerizing partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are tasked to work as a team in maintaining the autonomous drones that defend the various sea based fusion power stations from those looking to destroy them.  While Jack and Victoria have had their memories wiped clean for security purposes years before, Jack’s recurring dreams of worlds past, feed his curiosity of a world that once was.  When a pre-invasion American spacecraft crashes, Jack is forced to question his own knowledge of who he is and their purpose on Earth.  If you are a fan of 1970s science fiction films, Oblivion is a must-see.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Written and directed by Michael Radford, Nineteen Eighty-Four is based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name. The story takes place in a dystopian 1984, in a totalitarian superstate called Oceania in London.  Orwell’s fictitious world is very well-known and the film received widespread positive critical reaction for it’s cinematic representation of the classic novel.

During the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22nd 1984, Apple Macintosh launched what has been called by many as one of the most influential commercials of all time.  From the minds of Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow, Apple’s 1984 embraces George Orwell’s novel, depicting an unnamed heroine sprinting through rows and rows of mindless marching minions, hypnotized by their ruling “Big Brother.”  As you can see above, despite the ever-changing world of cinematic special effects, ever the commercial holds up.

If you’ve seen any of these films recently or have a sci-fi adaption that we’ve missed, we’d love to hear about them on our Facebook page.

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kickstarter-logo-lightAdditional photo credits: x-ray delta one via photopin cccdrummbks via photopin ccPaulgi via photopin ccjohnrobertshepherd via photopin cc