Archive for June, 2021

Postcard #201 (Nantucket)

“Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse.”

Moby Dick written by Herman Melville

It took me a few decades to make it to Nantucket. Yeah, it was worth it. The little island is just over an hour boat ride from mainland Massachusetts, but it takes some effort. One lady from western Massachusetts told me it’s easier for her to get to Paris than to get to Nantucket.

Nantucket was once the whaling captain of the world which afforded it to build a beautiful little town. It’s unlike any place I’ve ever been. A hint of Key West, a dash of Savannah, but a personality all its own.

An interesting side note is that Herman Melville had actually never been to Nantucket before he drew on it for inspiration in his classic novel Moby Dick.

P.S. The Nantucket Film Festival is held every year in June.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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16mm Memories

Earlier this month a friend of mine had some 16mm equipment he was interested in selling. One of the pieces was a Bell & Howell 70DR 16mm camera.

Robert Capa

It’s the kind that has turret lens you turn for wide, medium, and telephoto shots. Bell & Howell started making these kinds of cameras back in the 1920s. I always think of them as World War II era camera because of their durability and no need of batteries since you hand wind the camera for a spring loaded action.

I imagine it as the camera used in real life during the storming of the beach at Normandy during D-Day. Back in the early ‘80s those cameras were already ancient, but it I what I (and other students) used to shoot our first 16mm films. (Which we only got to do after shooting and editing an 8mm film.)

It was like a right of passage. And it’s a good one that some schools still continue to use, even if most of their work will be in the digital world.

Working in film teaches you patience. And it connects you to the craft with a 100+ history. It’s also a pain in the ass. And expensive and time consuming. And in the case of the B&H camera, it’s not going to deliver beautiful images like an old Arri SR camera would.

But if you’ve never shot film before I encourage you to do so. It’ll be a way to break things up creatively, and will give you a new appreciation all of the digital tools that are available today.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“You know it when you see it: whether it’s the symmetrical lines, pastel hues, immaculate composition, or something idiosyncratic and beautiful that you can and cannot describe at once, the director Wes Anderson has an immediately identifiable style to his films.”
—From the book Accidentally Wes Anderson

A couple of weeks ago I was kayaking on Lake Howell and came across a newly built dock and I could see a Wes Anderson inspired shot. One of my friends commented that it was ”Accidentally Wes Anderson.” I didn’t know there was a whole social media movement around #accidentallywesanderson. I later tracked down a book based on shots from around the world echoing the influence of filmmaker Wes Anderson.

Wally Koval with Amanda Koval have turned many of the photos into the book Accidentally Wes Anderson.

A few days ago I went back that same dock around sunrise and decided I could tweak my composition to improve the shot. This one (the one at the top of this page) I call Purposely Wes Anderson since I trying to fill the frame in a way that Anderson might.

Of course, there is more to Anderson’s films than quirky framing, and here’s an video by StudioBinder that is an excellent overview of what make his style some unique.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Last Saturday night I had the opportunity to see and take some photos of something I’ve only seen one other time in my life—the night-blooming cereus. And in this case it was the Selenicereus grandiflorus which only bloom once a year. And only at night.

Perhaps equally as impressive to the individual blooms was the group of cereus which climbed up a tree that had to go higher than 60 feet.

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”I’m a fast typer but I’m slow at ideas. Most of my scripts have taken probably about seven years between writing and getting made.”
—Oscar winning screenwriter Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit)

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”The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
—Mark Twain

This past weekend I went to a movie in a movie theater for the first time in over 14 months. I saw A Quiet Place II—and so did a lot of other people. The movie pulled in over $57 million to top a healthy Memorial Day weekend box office that signaled that the movie going experience still has a place in American culture.

Writer/director/actor John Krasinski—and all of Hollywood— breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully, it was a positive turning point in a world previously shutdown by COVID-19.

And here are a couple of videos on Krasinski directing the original A Quiet Place that you may not have seen before.

Scott W. Smith is author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles (original co-screenwriters of A Quiet Place wrote the introduction to the book)

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