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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Innovation is rewarded

How seldom does the Academy reward the most innovative? Reward a film that took in something like 40 million at the domestic box office? Not too often, and I'll say the preverbal bravo!

Seriously, if innovation is rewarded in our profession of cinema, instead of what makes the most money, don't you think this will encourage more innovation to come? Sure it will. The Oscars is a big, shining ball of sun , and if it gives its sunshine to smaller, more innovative films, the up and coming filmmakers will want some of that sunshine as well. Like little green plants bending towards the light.

BIRDMAN is filled with light. With a creative force. Let's hope we see more.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Download scripts to this years Oscar nominees

Great site @ where free PDF's of many recent feature scripts are available. Below is a partial list and links:
As was the case last year, one of the few benefits of the frenzied awards race is Hollywood’s outpouring of materials associated with the contenders. Perhaps the biggest perk is the release of full scripts one is able to download legally, directly from the studios. By the end of the year we’ll have dozens available, but today we have the first out of the gate.
A Most Violent Year (J.C. Chandor; A24)
American Sniper (Jason Hall; Warner Bros)
Belle (Misan Sagay; Fox Searchlight)
Big Eyes (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; The Weinstein Company)
Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr.and Armando Bo; Fox Searchlight)
The Boxtrolls (Irena Brignull and Adam Pava; Focus Features)
Boyhood (Richard Linklater; IFC Films)
Calvary (John Michael McDonagh; Fox Searchlight)
Dear White People (Justin Simien; Roadside Attractions)
The Fault In Our Stars (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber; 20th Century Fox)
Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman; Sony Classics)
The Gambler (William Monahan; Paramount Pictures)
Get On Up (Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth; Universal Pictures)
Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn; 20th Century Fox)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson; Fox Searchlight)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois; DreamWorks Animation)
The Imitation Game (Graham Moore; The Weinstein Company)
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson; Warner Bros.)
Into the Woods (James Lapine; Walt Disney)
Kill the Messenger (Peter Landesman; Focus Features)
Leviathan (Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev; Sony Classics)
Locke (Steven Knight; A24)
Love is Strange (Mauricio Zacharias and Ira Sachs; Sony Classics)
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh; Sony Classics)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy; Open Road)
The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten; Focus Features)
Still Alice (Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer; Sony Classics)
St. Vincent (Theodore Melfi; The Weinstein Company)
Unbroken (Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson; Universal Pictures)
Whiplash (Damian Chazelle; Sony Classics)
Wild (Nick Hornby; Fox Searchlight)
Wild Tales (Damián Szifron; Sony Classics)

Friday, February 20, 2015


Mr. Wenders, you once said that at the beginning of your career you felt like a painter who was searching for a way to express time. Would you still describe your approach to making films that way?
I started making movies as an extension of painting. I worked as a painter, I wanted to be a painter, but it is difficult to catch the element of time in images. So as a painter it made a lot of sense to start using a camera. When I started out as a filmmaker, it was in the mid-to-late ’60s and video was not really invented yet. There were no artists who worked with film – except some artists in America who did it in an experimental way. Most famous was probably Andy Warhol. I thought that was the future. I don’t think of myself as a painter anymore. In photography, yes, but in filmmaking I am strictly a storyteller. For me it is all about the story that I am trying to tell. That is my dominant force.
But one can definitely see the influence painting has had on your work. Some of the frames in your films could even be landscape paintings.
Of course I still make frames in order to tell stories, but each of these frames has a function in relation to this story. My first films, short films, were non-narrative. There was no story, there was nothing happening, there were no actors. It was mostly because as a painter and later on as a filmmaker I was most interested in landscapes and places, but now I am really a storyteller.
What caused you to make that transition to narrative filmmaking?
When I started out making films, I discovered very quickly that you could make a movie while you are travelling. You didn’t have to do it in a studio, you could take your camera with you on the road. I discovered that there was even a genre associated with this idea – although the road movie was more popular in America than in Europe. As soon as I started to travel with the camera, I discovered that I had found a form of expression that really suited me.
Some of your most beloved films are road movies. Why do you think that form suits you so well?
Maybe it has to do with my childhood and the atmosphere in West Germany when I grew up. It was a very narrow space in many senses: It was small to begin with, had lots of borders around, and people were, I felt, quite narrow-minded. So the greatest urge I had as a kid, the greatest pleasure, was to travel. I travelled alone for the first time in a train when I was five years old and that was a glorious day in my childhood when I sat alone on the train with nobody watching me.
Where did you go?
To read full article:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Akira Kurosawa - blocking and camera

The scene below is from  The Bad Sleep Well  
Kurosawa and Mifune - 2 masters.

It is a video essay by Tony Zhou and it's very effective. When watching, I would add that the simplicity of the coverage serves the scene so well. By not covering the scene in the traditional way: CS/MS/WS, there is more tension in the scene as we feel like we are a part of the interior, right there, seeing/hearing/feeling what happens. Which is what we all want to do; engage the audience in the highest manner we can.

Monday, February 16, 2015

women in film

For those of you in NYC, try and catch this. One hip woman!

Films by Jessie Maple in Lincoln Center Series

The work of Jessie Maple, a filmmaker and the first African-American woman to join New York’s camera operators union in 1975, will be celebrated on Monday with the program “An Evening With Jessie Maple” at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65th Street). Ms. Maple, who wrote a book, “How to Become a Union Camerawoman,” about her life and hard-fought battle to join the union, directed two narrative features.
When she couldn’t find a theater to hold the premiere of her first film, “Will” (1981), the story of a former athlete recovering from drug addiction, she and her husband, Leroy Patton, a cinematographer, founded the Harlem independent cinema 20 West in 1982. “Will” has been called “the first post-civil rights feature film directed by a woman.” The second feature, “Twice as Nice” (1989), is an intimate story of twin basketball players.
There will be a Q. and A. with Ms. Maple. Both features will be shown as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s series “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feature film shot on iPhone premiers at Sundance

Here's a real example of how to be the New Gorilla and shake the tree!

How one of the best films at Sundance was shot using an iPhone 5S

Tangerine, a breakout hit from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is full of surprises. There’s the subject matter: transgender prostitutes working in a not-so glamorous part of Hollywood. And there are the characters: flinty, funny, nobody’s victim. But the story behind the camera is as surprising as what’s in front of it. Particularly because the camera used to shoot Tangerine was the iPhone 5S.
Plenty of amateur films have been shot using iPhones, but by all reports, this is the first movie at the Sundance Film Festival to be shot almost entirely on an Apple device. It was a decision that indie writer and director Sean Baker made to accommodate the film’s small budget. But you’d never guess the camera, to look at it: Tangerine was shot in a widescreen, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, and its camera zooms through the streets of LA with a fluidity you’d never expect from a handheld device. And yet despite his camera of choice, Baker says the iPhone made for a good partner. "It was surprisingly easy," Baker says. "We never lost any footage."
So how do you make a Sundance movie for iPhone? You need four things. First, of course, the iPhone (Baker and his team used three). Second, an $8 app called Filmic Pro that allowed the filmmakers fine-grained control over the focus, aperture, and color temperature. Third, a Steadicam. "These phones, because they’re so light, and they’re so small, a human hand — no matter how stable you are — it will shake. And it won’t look good," says Baker. "So you needed the Steadicam rig to stabilize it."
For full article:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cameras Used by Sundance 2015 Filmmakers & Why They Chose Them

We can probably all agree that every film requires a different set of tools.
This is certainly clear at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, with films being shot on anything from an iPhone 5S, a burgeoning arsenal of Blackmagic cameras, to regular (that is, 4:3) 16mm. Although all feature films eventually ended up as digital in the festival's first ever year with no 35mm masters, there's no shortage of different shooting formats. Here is a smattering of excerpts from our soon-to-be released video interviews with Sundance filmmakers, compiled to give you insight into not only what they shot on, but why. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Director Richard Linklater for a Special Live Q&A!

Join Award-Winning Director Richard Linklater (BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, BOYHOOD) for a Special Live Q&A!
Friday, February 6, 2015 - 7:30 PM - Double Feature:  
2014, IFC Films, 165 min, USA, Dir: Richard Linklater
Among the most remarkable films of recent memory, BOYHOOD was shot over a 12-year period to follow the fractured family life of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) as he moves from grade school to college. As his divorced parents, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are equally affecting despite taking different approaches to raising kids. Impressive as the logistical hurdles Linklater and his team surmounted, what’s most memorable about this coming-of-age drama is how right it gets the little moments of this boy’s life - a sad stare as mom drives him away from his hometown for the last time, an encouraging note passed to him at his new school, or an early morning walk with a girlfriend. Discussion following with filmmaker Richard Linklater.
1993, Gramercy Pictures, 102 min, USA, Dir: Richard Linklater
The last day of class at a Texas high school in 1976 brings together jocks, nerds and stoners in this cult teen comedy set to a classic rock soundtrack. Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Renée Zellweger are among the students gearing up for the summer; Matthew McConaughey is unforgettable as the older guy who still parties with the kids.
$11 General, $9 Student/Senior, $7 Member. 
No vouchers accepted.Purchase advance tickets online on www.fandango or come in person to the box office.

1328 Montana Avenue 
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Monday, February 2, 2015


In the summer of 1945, Stanley Kubrick, many years before he was the acclaimed director of Dr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, had a series of photographs published in LOOK magazine, a competitor to LIFE. He was just 16 years old. Thus would begin a relationship with the magazine that would last several years, until he began making movies in earnest around the age of 23, in the early 1950s. 

For full article: