Erik Sharkey and Kevin Burke love movie posters so much that they’ve both made movies about them. Erik directed a film about legendary poster artist Drew Struzan titled Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, while Kevin directed 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters, which examined the birth, death, and resurrection of illustrated movie poster art. Now the two filmmakers are joining forces to make a film about one of the most famous illustrators to ever work in the science fiction and fantasy genres: Greg Hildebrandt.
If you don’t know Greg’s name, you definitely know his work. He and his brother Tim, who died in 2006, whipped up an early Star Wars poster that instantly captured the imaginations of fans around the world. That alone would be enough to put these guys into the legend category, but Greg, now 81 years old, has also had a decades-long career spanning franchises and companies like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Marvel, Magic: The Gathering, and even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
I spoke with Sharkey and Burke about their plans for their new documentary, and also had a long chat with Greg Hildebrandt himself about the creation of that famous Star Wars poster and much more.
It’s clear that both Sharkey and Burke are genuine fans of Hildebrandt’s work, and that passion fuels their desire to put his story on film. “You think about all of the great movie posters – the Hildebrandt brothers’ Star Wars poster or Drew Struzan’s Back to the Future poster – they get the spirit and the tone of the film in just one image,” Sharkey told me over the phone. “And then there’s just the mastery of it: the way they put paint on a canvas, the power of composition, the power of lighting. It’s not only great movie poster art, it’s just great art in general.”
But isn’t the act of illustrating sort of inherently un-cinematic? How do these guys plan to overcome that obstacle? They plan to animate some of his work to help bring it to life on the screen, but Burke has a more human answer as well. “Not only is Greg an absolutely wonderful illustrator, which allows us to lean into the magic of the worlds that he creates to create a visual sense of our own that in some ways mirrors that, even for a documentary…but also he’s a very, very compelling person with an incredibly interesting story to tell. At the end of the day for any documentary, it’s about making that human connection. Greg, for all his fame and celebrity and the otherworldly nature of his art, is still very much a human and a worldly man with a lot of interesting things to say and an incredibly interesting life story.”
Sharkey also thinks it’s “really important to tell these artists’ stories while they’re still here.” Since many of Greg’s contemporaries have passed away, he says “it’s important to get all these stories now to pass on to future generations, because Greg is a part of a tradition and an era of artists that had such an impact on illustration, our lives, and pop culture.” The directors have shot a large part of the film already – extensive interviews with Greg and other artists, seeing Greg in action at New York Comic Con, etc. – but they still have some additional editing and interviews to record, and you can follow their progress on the movie’s Facebook page.
Here are some highlights from my conversation with Greg Hildebrandt, touching on a few of the major pop culture properties he’s worked on throughout his career.
The Lord of the Rings
“I worked in an animation studio in Detroit, where I started my career, so I always think in terms of film [when doing my artwork],” Greg told me during our interview. “Movement, action, and motion. For me, most of the illustration and paintings that I’ve done, I’m not decorating a page. Which is a beautiful concept…but I feel like I’m trying to create a doorway into a real world that you can actually step into and be part of.”
You can feel that immersion in much of his work. Browsing through a selection of his illustrations, I’m struck by the sense of tactile warmth he’s able to bring to his images, as well as the striking action of the larger than life characters he captures – especially in the realm of Tolkien’s fantasies. After reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Greg and Tim knew they wanted to work in that world in some capacity one day. He never got to meet Tolkien, who died just before they finally got the job, but in the late 1970s, they became famous for their work illustrating Tolkien calendars for Ballentine Books, which essentially turned them into rock stars in the fantasy art world.
Again, if this name doesn’t immediately ring a bell for you, it’s a guarantee that you’ve heard their work. Mixing classical music with rock opera, TSO is known for their albums of Christmas music. Songs like “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24” and “Wizards of Winter” have been used in advertising and viral videos for years, and Greg eventually became one of the primary artists who contributed to the band’s mythos.
“I’ve never been so affected by something in that sense where it took me over,” he said of the first time he listened to Beethoven’s Last Night, the band’s third album. So inspired was he by the music that he would stay up at all hours of the night creating imagery prompted by what he heard, “with no concept or thought or feeling or belief that I would ever do anything with it, I just had to get the imagery out that I was feeling and seeing.” Greg worked on it for three months, and when he finished it, his wife and business manager Jean got in touch with TSO frontman Paul O’Neil, who had been a fan of Greg’s work since his Lord of the Rings days in the 1970s. That mutual admiration led to Paul using Greg’s work on a re-issued cover of the album, and kicked off a long working relationship that included Greg creating several album covers, program illustrations, posters, and more.
“That’s a fluke, that job,” he says of his most widely-known work. In the late 1970s, the brothers were working on general illustrations – which essentially meant that they took whatever gig came their way. After creating illustrations for a toilet training book, they decided they wanted to work on “something a little more romantic,” so they opened the phone book and cold-called an art studio in Manhattan that handled movie posters – and to underline how different things were at that time, the guy on the other end of the line didn’t immediately hang up on them, but instead told them to bring their portfolio over. “In those days, they did that,” Hildebrandt explains. “You could call an art director or an editor at a publishing house and have a conversation with them.”
When he and Tim arrived at the New York studio, there were paintings all over for Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. As huge fans of Brooks’ work, the brothers begged to do a poster for the movie, but the editors explained that they didn’t have a budget for another poster and the current ones were being shipped to California the very next morning. Plan be damned: Greg and Tim designed a poster of their own on the train back to New Jersey, created the entire layout, took some photos for reference once they arrived at their own studio, and banged out a painting overnight with no sleep. “It didn’t get used,” Greg says, “but these guys were blown away that we came in the next morning with a painting.”
“A couple years go by, we get famous for our work on The Lord of the Rings, and a phone rings,” Greg continues. “These guys from the studio said, ‘You’ve gotta help us out. We’ve got a sci-fi film here, the film’s being released in a week and the director’s not completely satisfied with the poster he has.’” Tom Young had already created a version of the poster, but they told the brothers that George Lucas wanted a new poster to have “this basic set-up, but he wants it more comic book-y.”
Left with only that vague direction, they decided that meant “stronger color, higher contrast,” and that the ships should be “a little sexier.” The studio needed the work as fast as possible, so the guys worked for 36 straight hours to finish the picture. “They were flabbergasted that we did it,” Greg says, and he suggested adding a couple of other characters in the background – “like the big hairy guy. I didn’t know who he was,” Greg laughed. “These guys never saw the movie. They had no idea what it was themselves. I said, ‘What’s it about? Who’s this guy with the helmet?’ and they said, ‘I don’t know, the Man in the Iron Mask or something.’” The original agreement – which, crucially, was just a handshake agreement – was for Fox to use their image outside the theater and in newspaper ads. But it ended up as a merchandised product: on T-shirts and all sorts of other places beyond those agreed-upon bounds.
Not only that, but the Hildebrandt brothers never got the original painting back. There was no agreement that the studio would hang on to that, but “in the heat of the moment, everything was so fast,” Greg says. Six months went by, and Greg and Tim still hadn’t been paid for their work on the poster. Greg ended up suing 20th Century Fox, but Fox’s lawyers – who were presumably still stinging from realizing that they had signed merchandising rights away to George Lucas – said they would fight hard against Greg’s claim to money from reproducing their image on shirts.
Eventually, the lawyers said they would double Greg and Tim’s original price of $4,000. “I said, ‘Great!’,” Greg remembers. “Then the lawyer sent me his bill, which took up four thousand dollars and got us back to the original four thousand dollars. So Tim made two thousand off that picture, I made two thousand. Everybody assumes to this day that somehow, we as artists who did the painting became super millionaires or some god damn thing…but, it’s still there. People still recognize it.”
As for that Young Frankenstein poster the brothers painted over the course of that one frenzied night, that painting has since been lost. Greg has tried to find it, but suspects it may have been swiped from the office and simply taken home by a higher-up at the studio. But at the end of the day, he’s just thankful it served as a springboard to bigger things. “I have no idea where it is. Maybe Mel Brooks has it, I don’t know. But when people ask me who I’d like to thank about doing the Star Wars poster, I do say Mel Brooks.”
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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.
- It saves your money
Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.
- It allows you to try several games
Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.
- It will make future gambling more profitable
Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.
Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.
3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).
It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.
However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.
With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.
Choosing the Wrong Table
Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.
First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.
Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.
Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.
When to Hit and Stand
As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.
One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.
While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.
Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.
When to Split and Double
If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.
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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.
While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.
It is not recommended to split when:
- You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
- You are dealt two 9s
- You are dealt two 5s
- The dealer holds a 10 or picture card
It is best to split when:
- You are dealt two 8s
- You are dealt two aces
- The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)
Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.
Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.
Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.
Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students
The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like.
Who Are You?
Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.
Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:
- What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
- What do you like or hate most about yourself?
- What is your greatest value in life?
- What emotions do you express easily?
- What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
- Who you want to become in five years?
- What is your major objective for next year?
- Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
- What motto do you try to live by?
- Where would you like to travel?
- If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?
Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.
Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:
- Before I came to college, I was interested in…
- When I was a child, I wanted to become…
- The best moment I remember most about high school is…
- My favorite pet is…
- The things I value most are…
- Five years from now I hope to be…
- My greatest personality trait is…
- My favorite subject at high school was…
- If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
- My greatest fear is…
- After I graduate from college, I…
The Reception Line
You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:
- Where would you like to travel?
- What motto do you try to follow?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What music do you like?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Why did you choose this college?
- What do you like about college life the most?
You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:
- Watermelon or banana?
- Sweat or bitter?
- Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
- Partying or hiking?
- Listen or speak?
- Rock or pop?
- Morning or night?
- Superman or Batman?
- Robocop or Terminator?
- Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
- Los Angeles or New York?
- Liberal or conservative?
- American football or ice hockey?
My Most Embarrassing Moment
You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.
These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.