J. J. Abrams and Key Production Values

Introduction

J.J Abrams was born on 27th June 1966 as Jeffrey Jacob Abrams in New York City before moving to Los Angeles, the city in which he was brought up and educated. He is a son to Gerald W. Abrams, who was a television producer in New York and Carol Adams, who was an executive producer in Television Company. Abrams, who is of Jewish origin, was educated at Sarah Lawrence College. Abrams is an accomplished actor, movie director, composer, and screenwriter. He is also a leading American in the television and film production. Abrams’ work includes actions, drama, and science fiction genres. He has won several awards including ASCAP film and television music awards for top series categories for his series named Lost. He has also won Emmy awards for the same series. However, many are the nominations he has received in recognition of his work. Such nominations include Emmy Awards, BAFTA awards, Directors Guild of America, USA awards, and writers’ guild of America (Jones & Johnson, 2009).

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His work has received mixed receptions from the general viewers as well as the movie critics. Some of his work has been criticized as being cheap in the type of theme and plot employed. Such movies include Regarding Henry and the Armageddon, which received a very low rating by movie critics. Others like Star Trek were highly received by viewers and movie critics who rated them highly (Orson Scott Card, 2006). J.J Abrams has employed various production techniques to add value to production and to win over the interest of the viewers. These techniques include the use of visual effects, sound effects, and relevant graphics to make the movie to relate well to the viewers’ world and to create imaginations in the mind of the viewers. As he puts it, he likes working on stories that relate to people with something out of the ordinary. (Christina F. Abrams J. 2006)

Work Overview

J.J Abrams first ventured into the movie industry at the age of 16 years (Orson Scot Card, 2006). This was after he wrote the theme music in the “Night Beats” movie written by Dohler. This was a science fiction movie centered on a small town that was ravaged by aliens. Later in his college years, together with J. Marzusky, he was involved with the feature film treatment, which formed the basis for his first film, “Taking Care of Business.” This film featured among others, C. Grodin and J. Belushi. The movie is about a car thief who wins tickets to the World Series, but he is denied permission to leave until the expiration of his jail term. However, with the help of his mates in the prison, he is able to escape during an organized riot. Jimmy (Belushi) finds Barnes (Grodin) on the way to the World Series. He takes on Barnes identity the following day and spends his time in the beach house flirting with the daughter of the boss, and even held a meeting with a Japanese businessman Sakamoto (Mako). As the story progresses, Barnes losses his job but Jimmy gives him a consolation by taking him to the World Series. In the end, Jimmy sneaks back to the prison where he serves the last hours of his jail term. He is picked up by Barnes who introduces him to the advertising business.

In 1991, he produced a drama series, “Regarding Henry”, which starred Harrison Ford. This play is about a successful lawyer from New York who comes face to face with a robbery at a convenient store. He is shot at the right frontal lobe and in his chest. Although he survives death, Henry lost his ability to talk and his memory. The story is about his struggles to regain his memory and his speech abilities. This movie attracted various views from audience with some terming it as shallow contrivance which was out for cheap emotional payoffs. Despite this, some saw the movie as a well-acted piece (Jones & Johnson, 2009).

In 1992, J.J Abrams wrote Forever Young, a film that depicted characteristics of a romantic, science fiction and drama. The story dates back in 1939 when Captain Daniel (Mel Gibson) is set out for a test project. His girlfriend goes to a comma after an accident and Daniel requests doctors to put her in suspended animation to avoid watching her die. A number of events follow each other and Daniel is able to come back fifty years later from the chambers in which he had spent the time. After initial difficulties, he sets out to find his girlfriend in her current age and form. The movie was well received on its release with some terming it as the most inspired movie for the time. Together with Bruckheimer Jerry as producer and Bay Michael as the director, J.J Abrams produced Armageddon in 1998. This movie is about the effort of NASA to stop a gigantic asteroid from colliding with the planet earth. It featured casts such as Bruce Willis, Affleck Ben among others (Orson Scott Card, 2006). Although it was successful as an international box movie, it received negative opinions from viewers across the country.

J.J Abrams also for the first time produced a television series in the same year by the name Felicity which ran on the WB television network between 1998 and 2002. The series is about a college student named Felicity who had a crush with Ben, a male student in the college. On graduation day, Ben makes comments that make her change her mind about her career and decides to follow Ben to New York. In this series, he served as a co-creator with Reeves and also as the executive producer. Abrams also composed the theme music for the series (Jones & Johnson, 2009). In 2001, J.J Abrams founded Bad Robot, a production company co-owned with Bryan Burk. It was under this company that he produced works such as Alias, the Catch, Anatomy of Hope, and Lost among other television series. The movies produced under this company include Untitled Star Trek Sequel set to be released in 2013; Mission Impossible-ghost protocol released in 2011, Super 8 among others (Frederic and Agnes et.al, 2010). Originally, Bad Robot was part of Touchstone Television but after the expiration of his contract with Touchstone in 2006, the production company was moved to the Paramount and Warner Bros Pictures. J.J Abrams is the company’s chief executive officer with Bryan Burk as the executive vice president of the company (Orson Scott Card, 2006)

J.J Abrams also took part in the production of the thriller movie; joy ride, as a co-writer. In the movies; Six Degrees and What About Brian, in 2006, he was an executive producer. He was also the director in the “Lost” series and Mission Impossible III which was starred by Tom (Jones & Johnson, 2009). In 2009, he was also the director of the star trek movie in collaboration with Damon Lindelof. This was a science fiction movie. The movie was about the effort of the starship to investigate a storm in the space. During investigation an alien ship emerges from the storm and attacks the USS star ship. This movie received positive opinions from movie viewers and critics. It also received recognitions through nomination for Academy Awards, Empire Awards, Hollywood Awards, and Scream Awards among others.

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To add to his bag, J.J Abrams also created, produced and wrote, along with Roberto and Alex Kurtzman, the movie by the name Fringe which was a science fiction. In this movie, he also produced the theme music. The series is about the effort of the FBI to find out the cause of the unexplained occurrences traced to the mysterious universe. The earlier seasons received poor receptions. However, with the change of the presentation, the series which is in its fourth seasons has been receiving positive reviews. J.J Abrams is well recognized for his contributions as a writer, producer actor and a director in the American film industry. His skills and talent have been evidenced through movies such as ‘Gone Fishing’, among others which he wrote (Jones and Johnson, 2009). J.J Abrams has also established himself in the television series through his work as a creator, producer, and writer of series such as “Felicity”, “Alias”, “lost”, among others.

As a result of this, he has received various awards and nominations in the American films awards. Such awards include Razzie awards in the worst screen play category for his film “Armageddon” where he was a nominee, Emmy awards in the category of outstanding writing in the drama series and PGA award for the best drama category both for the television series, “Alias”. He also received nominations and awards in the “Lost” series. The awards included the ASCAP film and television awards, in the top television series category in 2005 and 2006 in which he shared with Giacchino Michael. He also received nominations in 2012 for Saturn awards fro his movie Super 8 in the category of the best director and the best movie writing. Other movies by him that have received nomination for the same award include Star Trek where he was nominated for the best director category in 2010, and mission impossible III for the same category. (Orson Scott Card, 2006). BAFTA Awards recognized him by nominating him to participate in the BEFTA television award in the category of the best international for the series “lost” while Directors Guild of America (DGA) nominated the same series in 2005 in the category of the outstanding director achievement in drama series. Other nominations include SFX awards for Super 8 and Star Trek and Writers’ Guild of America, USA for fringe series.

Key Production Values

Production values are aimed at winning the audience and keeping them interested in your work. J.J Abrams has used these values with mixed results. For example, the graphics in the movies and animations successfully makes the characters and the events in the movie to look real and to capture the attention of the viewer. Computer technology played a vital role in the development of the graphics. For example, the explosion and the fire that follow after the train carnage in the Super 8 movie were developed using the elements from the digital pro (Christina & Abrams, 2006). The movie, though analog in nature appear to be very powerful and is able to win the audience by creating moodiness as Abrams states. According to him, though the resolution of the movie is not so clear, there is something evocative about the movie. The use of sound is also able to add production values to this movie. However in the Star Trek movie the use of light was not appropriate. The producer employed excessive use of the orange light and plants made from plastic. However, there was great improvement in the succeeding releases especially through the use of special effects. Apart from graphics and visual effects, J.J Abram is also trying to connect with the imagination of the viewers. As quoted, J.J Abrams says he feels like telling stories to differentiate between what the audience thinks are important and what is actually important. He is able to convince them through his production by taking them to the world in which the movie is based (Christina & Abrams, 2006).

Conclusion

J.J Abrams is one of the highly talented individuals with ability to write, produce, direct and act movies. This talent is clearly seen in the work that he has produced. The work has been recognized in various circles through various awards and nominations. He is also a person with the ability to connect with the viewers through his work. This has also been a source of his success.

Reference List

Christina, F, & Abrams, J, 2006, A Touch of Death; Issue 13 of Alias Series (Paperback), Simon and Schuster publishers, New York.

Frederic, P, Agnes F, et.al, 2010, J. J. Abrams, Alphascript Publishing, Beau Bassin.

Jones, T & Johnson, M, 2009, Star Trek: Countdown (The Movie Prequel), Titan Books Limited, London

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Orson Scott Card, 2006, Getting Lost: Survival, Baggage, and Starting Over in J.J. Abrams’ Lost, Ben Bella Books, Dallas Texas.

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