Eklund on Muybridge

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Michael Eklund is growing out his beard for his new role in the upcoming feature about early 20th century photographer and filmmaking pioneer, Eadweard Muybridge.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop , PNG

 

Hollywood North: Michael Eklund pioneers a new look

for Vancouver-shot feature Eadweard

By Mark Leiren-Young, Special to The Vancouver Sun June 27, 2013

If there was a Leo Award for “best beard,” actor Michael Eklund would have won by acclamation.

Instead, Eklund got to show off his old-style face bush when he recently accepted an award for Best Performance by a Male in a Feature Length Drama for his role in Errors of the Human Body at B.C.’s annual film and television prize party earlier in June.

Eklund was already riding high on the success of The Call — Oscar winner Halle Barry’s surprise box office smash — where he played a serial killer who kidnaps Abigail Breslin (an Oscar nominee for Little Miss Sunshine).

Said Eklund, “Yes, they are both as beautiful and cool in real life.”

Both movies — along with a third film, Ferocious — debuted in theatres in the last three months.

Talking to The Sun in the lobby of the Westin Bayshore during the awards ceremonies, Eklund explained that his current facial fur is meant for his new role in the upcoming feature about early 20th century photographer and filmmaking pioneer, Eadweard Muybridge, which goes to camera in and around Vancouver on Canada Day.

The movie is directed by Kyle Rideout and produced by Josh Epstein, who co-wrote the script. Eklund said the low budget project was love at first read.

“When they first sent me the script I had no idea who they were or who this Eadweard Muybridge character was. After I turned the last page of the script I felt I needed to know everything about this mysterious sweaty-toothed madman, as well as the talented artists who wrote it and sent it to me.

“You do not read too many scripts like this. Every actor knows that feeling when they find it. For me, it was beautiful yet dangerous, soiled and yet whitened. All these words also describe the man who was Eadweard Muybridge. I was ready to sink my own sweaty teeth upon the goal to find out more.”

Currently known as Eadweard, the film will feature over 150 extras, 40 actors, 50 locations, period costumes, animals, children and “a stage coach squished with passion,” Eklund said. “The word ‘collaborative’ sums it up perfectly as the whole community seems to be involved.”

Epstein said that not only did the local film community embrace the making of the movie, the theatre community did as well.

“We’re making a $3 million dollar movie on a very, very low budget so we’ve been getting amazing resources from a lot of the theatre companies in town: The now defunct Playhouse, the Electric Company, the Arts Club, Studio 58, Playhouse Theatre, Chemainus the Renegade Arts Society, and also theatre lighting people and costume people,” Epstein said when interviewed last weekend at the Jessie Awards, where the popular stage actor (last seen in the Arts Club’s remount of The Craigslist Cantata) performed a song-and-dance number celebrating the Vancouver theatre scene.

“It’s sort of a mesh of film and theatre people helping us out. It’s a highly ambitious, epic indie film. Very epic.”

A native of Saskatoon, Eklund recalled falling in love with the movies as a five-year-old when his mom took him to a Sunday matinee, “planting the seed of magic inside of me.”

Determined to perform like his matinee idols Eklund spent the next decade auditioning for school plays — and not getting cast.

Unable to convince the world he was an actor, Eklund enrolled in art school to study painting. It didn’t take long before he was dropping out, packing his stuff and his dreams in a U-Haul and heading West to Vancouver to take a shot at stardom.

Eklund credited persistence and “the power of being so naive” for landing a top agent despite a complete lack of acting experience.”

The agent wasn’t the only one who saw potential — practically every casting agent in B.C. did.

Over the last few years Eklund has been featured on almost every major series shot here including Smallville, Supernatural, Intelligence and Alcatraz.

Eklund saw his latest role as a chance to explore the origins of his passion for moviemaking.

“I discovered that Eadweard Muybridge was a man who could stop time, a man obsessed with freezing motion. His work unknowingly was creating and inspiring the basis for moving pictures. He was the pioneer of film. And without him and his work the actual film we are making based on him could not have been made.”

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

‘Muybridge’ shooting next week

sara_canning_a_pSara Canning           Getty Images

From The Hollywood Reporter:

“The Vampire Diaries actress Sara Canning, Ian Tracey and Jodi Balfour have joined the cast of the untitled psychological drama centered on Eadweard Muybridge.

Michael Eklund is starring in the Canadian indie, which is being directed by Kyle Rideout and produced by Josh Epstein. Rideout and Epstein were behind Wait for Rain, a short that won best science fiction/fantasy at last year’s Comic-Con International Film Festival. The Muybridge project is their first feature. Also joining the cast are Christopher Heyerdahl and Torrance Combs. The movie begins principal photography next week in Vancouver…….

Canning will play Muybridge’s wife, while Balfour will be one of the photographer’s models who became the focus of some of his very first nudes. Tracey will portray the founder of Stanford University who enlists Muybridge’s services to win a famous bet over whether a horse had all four hooves off the ground while galloping. Canning stars in Primeval: New World, the North American version of the hit BBC sci-fi show. Tracey has appeared in the popular Canadian sci-fi show Continuum and appeared in Man of Steel and A&E’s Bates Motel. Balfour is one of the stars of CBC’s acclaimed show Bomb Girls.”

Phree Phantasmoscope

phenakHorseMuyb

Queensland Figaro, 14 July 1883. (National Library of Australia. Creative Commons)

Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article83677612

It’s 1883, you’re editor of the Queeensland Figaro, and looking around for a space filler. An old issue of the Scientific American is on a shelf by your desk. In the Supplement there’s a pretty cutout toy of a phenakistiscope (they call it a Phantasmoscope) with silhouettes of a Muybridge horse trotting endlessly. Snip out the piece, and paste it into your next issue. Better still, create an advert for your newspaper in a circle, and paste that in the middle. ‘Weekly, Wisely, & Wittily … 12/- a year in advance.’

phenakHorse4

Then every time one of these magic discs that your readers have cut out and pasted onto cardboard is handed to a friend to enjoy, they’ll read the advert and rush out and buy the paper, or better still subscribe. Brilliant, and all for free, courtesy Scientific American.

And the best bit is, 130 years later, it’s still for free, courtesy of that excellent resource, the National Library of Australia’s TROVE.

More about these paper discs, here.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge and The Smartest Kid on Earth

Now here’s something I missed a long time ago, and shouldn’t have. A graphic novel representation of Muybridge and his Zoopraxographical Hall at the 1893 World’s Fair, in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a graphic novel  written and illustrated by Chris Ware. (Pantheon Books 2000)

Wikipedia tell us: “The story was previously serialized in the pages of Ware’s comic book Acme Novelty Library, between 1995 and 2000 and previous to that, in the alternative Chicago weekly New City.

Plot summary
Jimmy Corrigan is a meek, lonely middle aged man who meets his father for the first time in a Michigan town over Thanksgiving weekend. Jimmy is an awkward and cheerless character with an overbearing mother and a very limited social life. Jimmy attempts to escape his unhappiness via an active imagination that gets him into awkward situations. A parallel story set in the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 shows Jimmy’s grandfather as a lonely little boy and his difficult relationship with an abusive father, Jimmy’s great grandfather. Another storyline shows Jimmy as a lonesome child of divorce, suggesting that this was Jimmy’s “real” childhood, while his “Smartest Kid on Earth” adventures are probably his fantasies.”

I have a sheaf of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library comics still lying in a plan chest here, collected in the late 90s when I still maintained some knowledge of what was going on in the worlds of comics. I was very keen on Jimmy Corrigan, but certainly didn’t see the Muybridge pages.

One of the Jimmy Corrigan ‘Acme Novelty’ books

Another web site tells us: “Chris Ware was born in 1967 and his hugely popular Jimmy Corrigan was awarded The Guardian First Book Award in 2001. Although it originally appeared as a syndicated newspaper strip in London from 1993 to 1999, US author and artist Ware conceived it, from the outset, as a lengthy narrative.

The work, published by Jonathan Cape, combines innovative comic book art, hand lettering and graphic design to tell the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a boy with the face of a disappointed old man, and his relationship with his absent father.

Ware has stated that he drew inspiration from ‘original advertising drawings done for a depression-era Chicago cosmetics firm where all the typography was hand-done with a brush and white ink.’”

Chris Ware’s comics have included a cutout peepshow, zoetrope, flip book, and mutoscope.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Rats!

Phenakistiscope disc, pre-Muybridge

On the 8th December 1890 some residents of Gloucester received a more realistic experience of animals in motion than perhaps they were expecting, as the Gloucester Citizen reported the next day:

‘GLOUCESTER LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATION. [last evening] … the Corn Exchange was crowded, the attraction being a lecture by Mr. Eadweard Muybridge on ‘The Science of Animal Locomotion in its Relation to Design in Art.’ … There followed a description of the lecture, and finally….

‘One other word. The corporation ought really to keep their rats in better order than to allow them to career about the Corn Exchange on public occasions. The appearance of these rodents (whom a long succession of corn markets seems to have rendered enterprising to a most impudent and unpleasant degree) upon the screen last night would have been appropriate, and they might have served a useful purpose as illustrations of Mr. Muybridge’s points; but their practical demonstrations on the floor of the laws of animal locomotion – whatever relation it may have borne to their design and art – not only proved somewhat terrifying to ladies in the audience, but distracted attention from the lecturer and his subject. In the zoopraxiscope they would have been tolerable, even amusing and instructive; dodging among chair and other legs they constituted a nuisance and a cause of legitimate complaint.’

Reports of several lectures previously unrecorded in the Muybridge biographies and my own chronology have recently turned up, including:
27 January 1890, Lecture at Grantham.

28 January 1890 report on lecture, Nottingham Evening Post. LECTURE AT GRANTHAM ‘Last night, in connection with local science and art lcasses, a lecture was given in the Theatre, Grantham… “The Movements of Animals.”  ‘…Mr. Muybridge’s reputation had preceded him, as evidenced by the large audience then present.’

23 July 1890 (Weds) Burnley Express ‘The Directors of the Burnley Mechanics’ Institute are making arrangements for the usual series of lectures … an address will be given by Mr. Muybridge….’

4 October 1890 (Sat) Burnley Express, Advert: ‘Lectures for the People’ (Assembly Room). List includes : ‘Thursday Dec. 4th “Animal Locomotion in its relation to design in Art,” Professor EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE. Illustrated synthetically with the Zoopraxiscope.’

6 October 1890 (Mon) Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester Literary and Scientific Association advert. ‘Engagements are pending with the following and other lecturers… MR. EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE – “The Science of Animal Locomotion,” illustrated by the zoopraxis-cope….’

23 October 1890 (Thurs) Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester Literary and Scientific Association advert. ‘The Committee have the pleasure to announce ….. Thursday, December 11th, MR. EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE – “The Science of Animal Locomotion,”…’

6 December 1890 (Sat) Burnley Express p.5 ‘HOW MEN AND WOMEN WALK. ARTISTIC FALLACIES EXPOSED. At the Burnley Mechanics’ Institutution, on Thursday evening, the last of the series of  “lectures for the people” was given by Professor Eadweard Muybridge, of the University of Pennyslvania, U.S.A., to a large gathering…’ (Dr. Brumwall presided.) ‘…the lecturer was an original investigator, who had used in one summer alone 50,000 photographic plates…’

More will no doubt come to light this year, as I search the millions of pages now being digitised and made available online by the British Library. (Free at St Pancras, otherwise paid access, for a very reasonable range of fees.)

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

All Change at Kingston

Jill Lamb (Photo: Kingston Museum News)

Staff News
One of the world’s most important collections of Muybridge material is held by Kingston Museum, in Muybridge’s home town. As with all local authorities, Kingston Council has had to make changes to its staffing and access, following a reduced Heritage budget. The Museum will now close on Mondays (in addition to Wednesdays and Sundays), so is now open four days each week, including an extended evening opening (until 7pm) on Thursdays.

Peta Cook left as Curator in September, after more than five years in post. Grace McElwee, Head of Libraries and Heritage, writes: “Peta has decided to travel the world and also visit relations in Australia, picking up museum jobs along the way… Peta was meticulous and conscientious in all she did but she will be especially remembered for her promotion of the Muybridge Collection which has put the work of this important pioneer on the map locally, nationally, and internationally…”

Our congratulations are due to several other long-standing members of the team. I was delighted to learn that Jill Lamb has been appointed Heritage Team Leader and Borough Archivist. For many years, one of Jill’s many responsibilities while working at the North Kingston Centre has been providing access to the Muybridge Collection, and for the past two decades Jill has always been most helpful to me with my own work at Kingston. And very recent news is that congratulations are also due to  Emma Rummins, another of Kingston’s stalwarts who has also been of great assistance with Muybridge artefacts over the years, will be changing jobs – from Local History Officer to Museum Curator, replacing Peta Cook. A new member of staff, Amy Graham, joined the museum team as a Heritage Assistant for 3 months, starting in October 2011. Amy recently moved to Kingston from Newcastle where she worked in the University of Northumbria’s art gallery. Sandra Murphy is Visitor Services Officer; Tove Bellingham is Exhibitions Officer; and May Cheyne is Administration Officer. A new post of Learning & Engagement Officer has been created. Less happy is the news of Rod Lewis’s departure at the end of this year.

Considering the financial situation that this country is presently facing, the immediate future seems bright for Kingston Heritage overall, including the Muybridge Collection.

Local History Room move postponed
During August, it was officially announced that there will be a delay to the closing of the North Kingston centre for one year. This essentially means that the Local History Room, Archives and Administration Office for Kingston Museum & Heritage Service (including most of the Muybridge artefacts) will remain at North Kingston Centre until summer 2013. News of the new location has yet to be announced.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert – with thanks to Kingston Museum News (Issue 67 – October 2011.)