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Things to watch for at the BET Awards
Will Leslie Jones slay
with her comedy? Will
Nicki Minaj actually show
up? Or do you just want to
talk more about the BET Ex-
perience? These and more
questions will be answered
when the BET Awards air on
BET 8 pm Sunday from the
Microsoft Theater in Los
Angeles. Here are some
things to know before you
The comedian and actress
set to host the festivities is not
only a Saturday Night Live cast
member and Ghostbusters
star, but a writer, too. She grew
up in Lynwood and her father
pushed her to play basketball
in high school because of her
six-foot stature. She attended
Chapman University in Orange
on a basketball scholarship,
later transferring to Colorado
State. Jones originally wanted
to be a lawyer and changed her
career choice several times.
Lucky for us, she won a com-
edy contest in college in 1987
and found her true calling.
Queen Bey leads the award
nominees with seven, while
Bruno Mars has five. But one
of the most interesting aspects
of the nominations is based in
sibling rivalry, as sister Solange
is up for four awards, including
one against Beyonce for Best
Female R&B/Pop Artist.
Other notables are New
Edition who will be honoured
with a Lifetime Achievement
Award and Chance The Rap-
per who will be lauded with
the Humanitarian Award. Co-
median and actor Jamie Foxx
will be among the presenters
for the evening, which
includes La La An-
thony, the cast of
Girls Trip - Re-
gina Hall, Tif-
tana, A$AP Rocky,
Gucci Mane, SZA,
Swae Lee and
Khalid are the most
recent addition to
the growing list of
performers at the
stage you'll see Future, Mi-
gos, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne,
DJ Khaled, Big Sean, Post
Malone, Roman GianArthur
and Jessie Reyez.
What about Nicki Minaj?
Word is the rapper won't
be attending. While there's
all sorts of speculation why,
Minaj previously tweeted
that the NBA Awards would
be her only awards show
appearance this month
and it will be held June
26 with Drake as the
host---how can you
argue with that?
(LA Daily News)
The giant genetically modi-
fied pig of Bong Joon-ho's mov-
ie Okja is eight feet tall, 13 feet
long and would,if real, weigh six
tons. It looks most like a hippo,
but it has big floppy dog ears and
moves a little like an elephant.
It's a hybrid creature for a hybrid
movie. Like the South Korean direc-
tor's previous films (Snowpiercer,
The Host), Okja is a mishmash of
genres: magical fantasy and gro-
tesque political satire. It's a cross
between Spielberg and slaughter-
Since its debut at the Cannes
Film Festival, Okja has been thrust
into debates over Netflix's impact
on traditional moviegoing. Most
large movie theatre chains in North
America and Bong's native South
Korea have refused to screen a film
that will simultaneously hit Netf-
lix's streaming service.
But on screens large or small, the
animal named Okja is a wonder to
behold. She snorts and slobbers,
does running belly-flops into lakes
and shoots poop like a low-caliber
machine gun. Up until now, Netflix
original films have been largely low-
er budget affairs or documentaries.
The giant pig of Okja is Netflix's
first special-effect marvel.
The largely English-language, in-
ternational film, made for US$50
million, boasts a cast of Tilda Swin-
ton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano.
But the heart of it is a young Korean
girl named Mija (An Seo Hyun) and
her loyal pig companion. After ten
years raising Okja, the corporation
that created these "super pigs"
wants them back.
Here's how she was created.
While in Seoul in 2011, Bong's eye
caught an animal on the street with
a melancholy look. The image stuck
"The very beginning was from
the image of the animal," says Bong.
"The face of the animal looked quite
sad in my imagination. Sad and
shy and a little bit in pain. So I was
thinking of why? What's the reason
she has such a sad face? What's the
origin and destiny of that animal?
Naturally, those industry things
Bong began sketching the animal
that would become Okja. When he
first mentioned the film to Swin-
ton (they were driving to the airport
after the Seoul premiere of Snow-
piercer), he merely showed her a
pencil drawing of the animal.
New and old collaborators
To flesh out his own sketches,
Bong turned to Jang Hee-chul,
the conceptual artist who designed
the monster of the director's 2007
thriller The Host. Bong calls Jang,
whose monster for The Host looked
like a bottom-feeding fish but with
legs, "a young genius."
He's no less effusive about visual
effects supervisor Erik-Jan De Boer,
the Oscar-winning animator who
crafted the tiger Richard Parker in
Ang Lee's Life of Pi.
They first met in late 2014. Bong
showed him the concept work but
didn't yet have a script ready. "That
was a pretty interesting meeting,
being shown that crazy design and
having no idea where the story was
going to go," says De Boer.
De Boer quickly began riffling
through YouTube videos to study
different animal behaviours, but
some of his research was more hands
on. Swinton's springer spaniel Rosie
(one of her four) was an inspiration.
A beagle also largely informed Ok-
ja's ears and hang-dog look. Bong
was particularly fond of a YouTube
video about a hippo named Jessica
living in a house. They also photo-
graphed hippos to get a more sinewy
skin. Pigs, ironically, were less of
an influence because of Okja's size.
As much as computer generat-
ed effects have advanced in recent
years, placing a CGI character amid
live-action scenes is still arduous
and expensive to do. It changes a
film's entire production pipeline
and affects every lighting decision.
"We didn't have one of those
shots, we had hundreds of those,"
said De Boer. "Almost in every shot,
we had somebody putting their
hands on Okja. In some cases we
had six people touching Okja and
we had to legitimatise all of it."
But the seamlessness and tactile
feel of Okja is also what sets it above
many others. During filming, they
used a foam puppet rig to stand in
for Okja---sometimes the whole
animal, sometimes just part of it.
It was controlled by VFX anima-
tion director Stephen Clee, who
typically puppeteered the head,
himself. Clee stayed connected by
radio with De Boer. It all made for
a fairly outlandish looking shoot,
from National Parks in Korea to Wall
Street in New York.
The making of Okja
This image released by Netflix shows Seo-Hyun Ahn as Mija and the character Okja in a scene from Okja. The
genetically modified pig of Boon Joon-ho's Okja is eight feet tall, 13 feet long and weighs six tons.
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