Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oz In Outer Space

Sam Milazzo pointed this video out to me. It's the original opening titles for "Supēsu Ozu no Bōken" or "The Space Adventures of Oz," which was condensed to a movie called "The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz." (It may be in with the $1 DVDs at Wal-Mart.)

According to the show's Wikipedia page, the song is called "To Dream an Adventure." Also on Wikipedia is a complete episode list.

This is actually better than the opening titles they used in the movie version, though the English song there IS quite catchy... "We're off... to Oz! That magical galaxy..."

I'm working on it!

I'm working on "Wonders of Oz" 4 right now! Seriously! I am! I just edited in the bit about Disney's Return to Oz. Matt Bloom is also working on his video speaking AS I TYPE THIS, so he will serve as my very first "talking head" in the whole series.

Wanna be a talking head in an upcoming episode? Let me know!

Back to work!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Ideal Oz Cast & Crew

It's been awhile since I've blogged about my Oz screenplay project. I'm now working on a second draft. Well, here's my ideal cast and crew list... Can it happen? I guess so...

Director - Tim Burton (No duh...) OR Sam Antony Milazzo & Jared Davis
Producer - Steven Spielberg (Yeah!)/Tom Hanks
Executive Producer - Willard Carroll (Yes!)
Art Department - Weta Workshop (of course!)
Writers - Jared Davis & Sam Antony Milazzo

Dorothy - (New child actress in her debut role.)
Aunt Em - Tilda Swinton
Uncle Henry - (Um... I think I came up with something, but I forgot...)
Good Witch of the North - Rosemary Harris OR Angela Lansbury
Boq - Seth Green
Scarecrow - Daniel Browning Smith
Tin Woodman/Nick Chopper - Haven't completely decided. I was thinking Thomas Robbins, and later considered Wentworth Miller.
Lion - ... Still haven't decided.
Guardian of the Gates - Jeff Goldblum
Soldier With Green Whiskers - Adam Godley
Jellia Jamb - AnnaSophia Robb
The Wizard of Oz - (Haven't decided!)
The Wicked Witch of the West - Christine Ebersole (In memory of Mark Haas)
Glinda - Claire Danes (Sam JUST sold me on her!)

Here are some new characters I came up with for my version film...
Matilda Gale - Erin Cottrell
Charles Gale - Johnny Depp
Army Courier - (Okay, it's a small role... but to tell the truth, I don't care about this one!)
Farmer Benton - Tom Hanks

Emerald City Citizens - Cameos by Oz fans... I'm selling lemonade.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More Tin Man Videos!

I'm looking forward to seeing Tin Man! Here are some videos that have been officially uploaded to YouTube:

Original Wonders are gone now

Hey, if you haven't noticed, I removed the original versions of The Wonders of Oz episodes 1 & 2 from YouTube.

I'm sorry for anyone who was charmed by the original editing.

The thing is, I would rather not have people think that the "Remixes" (which are no longer called so) are pointless re-hashes. The thing is, they are not. I felt that I could have done better on those episodes, so I decided I would do new versions that WERE better. And, from what I heard, they are.

As "Wonders 4" is in development, I'd like to thank once again everyone who has contributed in some small way to this project. (You know who you are!) I believe I plan to tribute everyone in some way in episode 4, even if it is just a mention in the credits.

I'd also like to publicly announce that it looks likely that episode 4 may be split into two parts. I have up to three people who have already agreed to try to make short videos of themselves talking about Oz and how they feel about it. Suggestions and additions are still welcome, though. If you're interested, check my Blogger profile for my e-mail.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How I Got Into Oz...

This has been on the L. Frank Baum & Co. Group on MySpace, and the IWOC Forums, but here it is... now for the non-MySpacers and those who prefer not to dig through message boards...

My parents used to try cable services for a month every now and then, and one time, my mom let us watch the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. I loved it.

Later, my grandfather (who has since died) let my dad bring some things over to our house. Among them was a copy of the book The Wizard of Oz with the pictures by Evelyn Copelman. A few months later, I found it in the garage and brought it in the house and tried to read it. Note that I had just finished kindergarten, so I wasn't too sure of how to read then. Fortunately, during the next school year, I did. (Come to think of it, they also let the whole school see the movie in two parts in the library, and they let us watch Dorothy in the Land of Oz around Thanksgiving.) I also found, in the school library, a copy of the "white" edition of The Wizard of Oz. I thought Denslow's pictures were very strange and goofy at the time, but have since come to appreciate them.

One time we went to the library, and I asked if we could check out the video of the MGM movie. We did, but the wrong tape was inside! (It was something like, Building Kitchen Cupboards And Cabinets!) We tried later, and we got it! I remember I watched it through once, but when I tried to watch it again, the VCR broke! BUT, I decided to do the next best thing. If I could read The House At Pooh Corner all by myself (the first ACTUAL chapter book I read, I went for the real thing!), couldn't I read The Wizard of Oz?

So, I did. I remember finishing reading it on Thanksgiving Day. But, I wondered, was that really the only Oz book? So, later, my mom took me to the library, and I asked her to see if there were any more "books about the Wizard of Oz." She found two books: Ozma of Oz and the (seemingly rare) 1980s edition of Who's Who In Oz by Jack Snow.

That ended my wondering about further Oz books!

Luckily for me, my parents found some more of the Oz books at Wal-Mart. They were published by a company called "Aerie" and sold 2 for $1. These copies had no illustrations, so I often added my own. They gave me Ozma of Oz and The Lost Princess of Oz. Later, that Christmas, they gave me a big box with MANY of the Aerie paperbacks in it. (Let's see if I can recall the ones... Land, Dorothy & The Wizard, Road, Emerald City, Tik-Tok, and Rinkitink.

And for a long time, those were the only Oz books (plus Patchwork Girl, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman from the library, Del Rey editions) that I had read.

I found other Oz books at yard sales and library book sales, but really nothing new. Adaptations of Return to Oz and copies of the Oz books I already owned were mostly what I found. My dad DID entrust me with his copies of the Return to Oz graphic novel and the Classics Illustrated Junior edition of The Wizard of Oz. I also made my own Oz toys from wooden clothespins.

But tragedy was about to strike my meager but cute Oz collection... a tragedy called "Mom becoming overtly religious." She threw away ALL of my Oz collection, claiming that I "should not read about witches." Today, I respect her concern, but the Oz books are not all about witches, and they do not encourage learning witchcraft, but quite the opposite.

I, myself, thought she meant that Oz, in itself, was evil. Remember I was still very young and impressionable.

Little did she notice that I also eventually stopped reading anything... period. (Afterward, I got through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over a course of four years.)

Many years later, I was at a used bookstore, when I came across an old Scholastic edition of The Magic of Oz. I looked over it, and began to think, "What is really so 'evil' about this? It basically says that magic equals trouble, which, in my opinion, is true."

A month later, I was at a local youth center, when they put in The Wizard of Oz movie. At first, I didn't show much interest, but then, I looked again, and it had me spellbound.

About a week later, I was looking through audio books at the library (remember that my interest in reading had dropped), when I found Recorded Books' recording of The Land of Oz, performed by Flo Gibson. After some thought, I went ahead and checked it out. I really enjoyed it. I can't say too much for Flo's voice, but I really did like it.

When I returned it, I went to the children's section of the library (I believe I was 15 at the time), though it was another branch, and found several of the Oz books there. I checked them out and read them again. Really read them. I couldn't remember when I'd read a book so fiercely since I'd stopped reading the Oz books before. I later went ahead and put the other Baum books on hold.

Some of the books were nicely-sized hardcovers from a publisher called Books of Wonder. In the back of one of their books, it gave a phone number you could call for a free catalog called The Oz Collector. I went ahead and did it, and when it arrived, I was thrilled to find that their editions were faithful imitations of the original editions! I knew that THAT was the set of Oz books I would want to collect.

In addition to re-reading the Oz books (my mom did find out, but I basically let her know that I was old enough to make my own decisions on what I read, and I wasn't going to join a cult, or get interested in Wicca), I also realized that someone had written them, so I found and read a biography of L. Frank Baum and discovered that Oz was not his only work. The library had some of his non-Oz books (though they were Oz-related), and I also read many through interlibrary loan. Today, I think I may be more likely to re-read one of his pseudonymous works instead of one of his Oz books.

Pretty quickly, my Oz collection began to grow. The first Books of Wonder edition I got was The Little Wizard Stories of Oz, then a used copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (By the way, I did buy that copy of The Magic of Oz, but because of it's rather cheap printing and paper quality, I no longer have it.) Later, when I got a job, I began buying my own Oz and Baum books and merchandise from the Internet.

Surprisingly, I did not get a VHS copy of the MGM movie of my own until the summer of 2003, when VHS tapes were beginning to go the way of vinyl records. I later switched to DVD, and intended to buy a copy of the MGM movie on that media, and one day in Spring, 2005, I went into Wal-Mart, deciding that I would buy it.

It wasn't there! It was sold out! But later that week, my dad mentioned that he read about a forthcoming 3-disc edition with many special features, including older films. I later bought that edition when it was released later that year.

My Oz collection, which now resides in my bedroom with me in my apartment (at the time of this writing, I have been 21 for three months), is expansive, maybe not very large or notable, and there are not a lot of rare items, but it is MY collection.

There is also a digital extension to my Oz and Baum collection as well, and it is now online in many places. (Look up "Jared Davis" and "Oz" on Google or Dogpile, and it's mostly me!) On April 1 this year, I was interviewed for Aaron Pacentine's "Returning to Oz" (that's a fitting title for my discovery and rediscovery of Oz story as well) episode 21 and the episode was released at the end of the month.

I am also working on several Oz projects. There's "The Wonders of Oz" documentary video series about Baum and Oz for YouTube. I am currently working with Sam Antony Milazzo, an Oz fan in Australia, on a screen adaptation of the first six Oz books. (Want to see it brought to life? Sign the petition!) I also run an Oz blog and an Oz website and have several Oz videos on my YouTube profile. I also post very actively at the International Wizard of Oz Club's message boards, of which I'm now an official member.

Oz seems to be very glad to have me back

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Feelings On The Olson/McFarlane Oz Movie

Some time ago, we heard that Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow (the studios of The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) had greenlit an Oz film that would be produced by Todd McFarlane and would be written by Josh Olson.

Todd McFarlane has not earned any Oz fan's trust at all. Yes, his company, McFarlane Toys, did make an Oz line, but it was called "Twisted Land of Oz." The Tin Woodman was pictured as a disgusting cyborg, the Scarecrow as a rotting, straw-stuffed corpse being attacked by crows, and Dorothy as a torture queen, being tormented by two demonic-looking Munchkins.

So, when some of us heard of the movie, we were afraid that it would be based on the same vision that made those toys.

Josh Olson somehow heard of the fuss and confusion that went on, and quickly released a statement saying, in his words, "I think even Todd would be happy to tell you, this movie has no connection whatsoever to those action figures." He further sparked our interested in his story by dropping enough hints: "The story I pitched... (is) faithful to the spirit and tone of those amazing books. You’ll be seeing many of your favorite characters return from the classic film, as well as meeting loads of Baum’s other great characters. While I’ve created my own distinct plot, it’s all built around Baum’s characters, Baum’s world, and Baum’s vision. I think Oz fans will recognize my love for the source material, and will be very happy with the finished result."

That won me over, until I heard word from Todd McFarlane:
"The bondage Dorothy, in my pitch, is literally an eight second scene. Just one scene of her in that."
Uh, how about none of that at all? In fact, in said interview, he mentions nothing of Olson. In fact, his story actually conflicts what Olson said:
The toys came first, and they sold really well for us. Someone in Hollywood saw them. They phoned and said, "Hey Todd, you have a pitch that you could come out here with?" And of course I went, "… Yyyesss… Yes I do…" So they said, "Oh good! Could you come in next week?" So you know sometimes you come up with your best stuff with a gun to your head. I had a week and pitched some ideas back and forth with some of the people in the office, and came up with this huge, massive Lord of the Rings epic. It actually got fairly tight and succinct.

We actually went in there and for a while had Michael Bay going around with me pitching it. We had props, visuals, toys, storyboards, posters… I made little models of the city. I think it overwhelmed them. They said that they needed 20 minutes for a pitch and I was like, "I need at least an hour and fifteen. I'm going to act out this whole movie and show you the whole thing because this movie is going to cost at least $140 million to make. I don't want you to not know what you're buying." Anyway, it took a little longer than I would have liked, but eventually someone at Warner Bros finally went, "It's crazy. It's crazy enough that it might be worth starting the process." So you're just beginning to push the boulder up the hill, but you have to get by that one where someone says they're buying it. Maybe it'll come out in a year and a half, maybe it'll go into development hell. I've seen both versions.

It sounds to me like we have two opposing creative visions. We have Olson, who wants to make an original sequel to the MGM movie using Baum's later characters, and we have McFarlane, who wants to do a new, startling "Wizard of Oz," where he says:

"So mom and grandma love Wizard of Oz? Just wait until they see this stuff. And if we ever make a movie close to that, it's going to give them a heart attack."

In my opinion, TAKE MCFARLANE OFF THE MOVIE! I don't get why Warner Brothers would hire Olson to write the script if he had something different in mind altogether? Apparently they liked what he said. If they really did like McFarlane's pitch that much, why isn't he the writer or director?

But anyways, I think we have nothing to worry about. Warner Brothers isn't going to let their Oz connection, owning one of the most classic films ever produced, be tainted by letting McFarlane give us Dorothy the Torture Queen. Just because they signed him on, movie making is very fickle. You can be in one day and out the next.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wonders 4 News!

Let me tell you folks, "Wonders 4" is going to be BIG. I think this will be the best episode to date. Aaron really outdid himself on the audio this time. Sam Antony Milazzo, my Australian correspondent (who plans to become an official International Wizard of Oz Club member in November) is letting me include some of his artwork. Sean Pollock has promised a clip from an Oz play he created. New Oz author Matt Bloom and his illustrator have both said they will attempt to do some short segments where they will talk about continuing the Oz series. (There may be another author as well.)

The tentative title is "The Wonderful Fans of Oz." It will cover Oz books after the Famous Forty, as well as Oz websites and fan productions and other fan-created items.

(NOTE: The International Wizard of Oz Club will not be covered here because we will be devoting a special episode to it.)

This episode may be so big, it may need to be split. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wonders of Oz #3

Hey, I finished the third episode!

I need your help on #4! It's going to be huge! E-mail me!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wonders 2 Remixed AGAIN!

Hey, I finished remixing "Wonders 2" today, at LAST!

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Scarily Faithful Oz?

In two days, I was exposed to some ideas about a darker Oz that would be not only faithful to Baum's Oz, it would be in Baum's Oz.

Thursday, I recieved my copy of Spectral Snow from Hungry Tiger Press. I've had an appetite for stories of ghosts, abnormal occurences, and the supernatural. (Part of the Christian faith is believing in the supernatural.) This book's stories were a delight. They kind of reminded me of "My Ruby Wedding Ring," L. Frank Baum's own ghost story, not in Oz, however. (The story was a romantic variant on the famous "Vanishing Hitch-hiker" tale.)

To top it off, the book ends with "A Murder In Oz," in which Ozma is found dead, murdered. (Don't worry, Jack Snow didn't create a story that reset the way Oz stories work, but if you want to know what happens, read the story yourself.)

I was surprised at the story's dark tone, but faithfulness to Baum's Oz. Is this Oz when the children are asleep? Obviously. The adult Oz characters have a few mild vices that they do not practice around children.

Then, earlier, I found a blog entry on J.L. Bell's blog. Mr. Bell brings up the question, "do dark Oz stories have to take place outside of Baum's Oz?" (He even mentioned Oz Squad, which I recently read online.)

Having noticed this myself, my answer would be no. If you can't make a good story without completely altering your basis, does that show a lack of creativity or imagination? In my opinion, yes. Snow was able to murder Ozma without writing the story out of continuity. When you consider the tale's conclusion, one would wonder why no one has thought to continue from this continuity.

So, is it time for some faithful Oz stories that are scary? Yes, why not?