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Archive for the ‘filmmaking’ Category

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Long ago I embraced grown the coninsidence that happens occationally on this blog. Yesterday’s post touched on the period in the 1970s and ’80s when there was an influx of Haitian and Cuban refugees to Miami. I even included a photo I took during that era in Hialeah, Florida.

Early this morning I happened to be listening to an interview with actor/director Vincent  D’Onofrio who’s life was changed as a ten-year old in Hialeah went he learned to do magic tricks from Cuban enterainers who’d immigrated to the United States and opened  a magic shop near D’Onofrio’s home. It was his introduction to the entertainment industry.

The above still frame features D’Onofrio as Pvt. Pyle in Full Metal Jacket in an iconic scene with Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). It was D‘Onofrio’s film debut and he spent 13 months on the shoot and this is one of the key take aways he learned from director Stanley Kubrick:

“Once you’ve worked with [Stanley Kubrick] it’s difficult to move a camera unless it’s helping tell the story. You don’t move the camera for the sake of moving it.”
Vincent D’Onofrio
Podcast interview on WTF with Marc Maron

In a day and age where moving the camera is pretty easy to do, it’s especially good to think through why you’re moving the camera. Here are some videos I found online of the photojournalist turned filmmaker Kubrick at work on various movies.

Scott W. Smith

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Netflix released Steven Soderbergh‘s new movie High Flying Bird today and I actually watched it this morning before work. One of the remarkable things about the film is it was shot on an Apple iPhone 8, with the FiLMiC pro app and Moondog Labs lenses.

It’ll take me some time to process the film, but it’s a little bit Jerry MaguireHoop Dreams meets Moneyball North Dallas Forty. Add a dash of Willie Morris’ book The Courting of Marcus Dupree, the Ken Burns documentary Baseball and Spike Lee themes and the movie—to borrow Marvin Gaye’s enduring song— asks the question “What’s Going On?”

What’s going on in the NBA? What’s going on in professional sports?

It would appear that the movie, written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, aims at ruffling feathers. We’ll see how that plays out. It’ll be interesting to see if LeBron James and other current NBA stars comment on the movie. It may even be more interesting what college basketball stars take away from the film, and what college economics professors have to add to the discussion.

But for now, let’s stick with Soderbergh’s role as a disruptor in the film business. He had a healthy enough budget ($1.5 million-ish) to shoot with Arri or RED high-end cameras but chose the iPhone partly because of how fast he could shoot with it. High Flying Bird was shot in 13 days with Soderbergh operating camera and directing, and a first cut was finished on a laptop with Adobe Premiere just hours after shooting wrapped.

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I watched High Flying Bird on an iPhone and it looked great. I’m not sure what it looks like on larger screens, but my guess is most watching won’t notice. But imagine what will happen in the near future when mobile phones have larger sensors to improve the image even more?

And even though technical people who only focus some problems inherent to shooting on an iPhone, may be missing the disruptive message of the movie matching the Soderbergh’s choice to shoot with an iPhone.

Scott W. Smith

 

 

 

 

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Since the Super Bowl is tomorrow I thought I’d try to find a quote that tied filmmaking and football together. Mission accomplished from not only a former college football player but one who has a film up for seven Oscars this year— including Best Picture.

“A lot of the things I’ve learned, I learned from playing football. You gotta lead a group of people against sometimes insurmountable odds. Every week, you’ve got to prepare for an opponent. You watch game tape. You prep. You get all your players up. But you get out there, you never know what to expect. I’m 31 years old … this is a high-intensity job. You’re responsible for a lot of money. You’re responsible for a lot of people’s livelihoods, and more importantly, you’re responsible for the audience’s dreams and expectations. There’s no way I’d be able to do this job if I hadn’t had the experience I have from playing organized sports. I’d be a different person.”
Writer/Director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
The Undefeated article by Kelley L. Carter 

Related post:

Screenwriting & the Super Bowl

Scott W. Smith

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Filmmakers from 8 to 88

“Location scouting for @thebrooklynnk’s directorial debut. A short called Colours. She writes, stars and directs and oh… she’s 8 years old.”
—Tweet from writer/director Sean Baker regarding Brooklyn Prince’s first film

“Some people glow really early, in their twenties and thirties, then in their fifties they are not doing as much. But I feel that growing up and maturing, constantly maturing—aging is the impolite way of saying it-—I like to think there is an expansion going on philosophically.”
—Clint Eastwood
Devil’s Guide to Hollywood written by Joe Eszterhas

I hope I don’t offend any 7 and under or 89 and over filmmakers with my title, but I had to land somewhere. And 8 to 88 has a nice ring. Plus I could back it up with filmmakers.

When I went to hear filmmaker Sean Baker speak the other night he mentioned that he was executive producing 8-year-old Brooklynn Prince’s first short film Colours. She may not be the youngest to ever make a film—but she may be the youngest to direct with a Panavision camera.

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That news is unusual enough to already get her press coverage in Vanity Fair, W MagazineIndieWire. No word on the storyline, but the budget already looks like it’s more than Sean Baker’s first feature (Take Out) that was made for $3,000.

On the other end of the spectrum is Clint Eastwood who was 88 when he directed The Mule. He didn’t direct his first film (Play Misty for Me) until he was in his 40s, and he was in his 60s when he won his first Oscar for directing (Unforgiven).

One thing that Prince and Eastwood have in common is neither went to film school. In fact, Prince hasn’t even made it to middle school.

Scott W. Smith

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Ted Quotes

 


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Yesterday producer Ted Hope (@tedhope.fanpage on Facebook) gave a nice shout-out to this blog, so I thought I’d use that to wrangle together 10 Hope-centric quotes from various places. Many are from his Hope for Film book.

‘A new and vibrant cinema’—Ted Hope 
‘If I ran a film school  …’ — Ted Hope
You vs. Kurosawa (and the History of Cinema)
Ted Hope on Finding a Film’s Theme
My Formula for the Perfect Sundance Film—Ted Hope
Ted Hope on Finding a Safe Harbor from Liars and Cheats 
‘Helping others rarely hurts anyone, particularly yourself’—Ted Hope
Define What You Love & Ted Hope’s List of ‘32 Qualities of a Better Film‘
‘A Quiet Place‘…  in Iowa 
The Case for Making a Not So Good Film

His blog Hope for Film—with a focus on the business side of filmmaking—is still online, but not updated anymore because he’s too busy with his role at Amazon. But he’s active on his Facebook fan page so check that out for his wisdom, inspiration, filmmaking experiences and film recommendations.

And if you want short Ted (Hope) Talk, here you go:

Scott W. Smith

 

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I know there is a lot of noise and distractions out there— in regard to finding filmmaking information and inspiration—but I’m enjoying producer Ted Hope’s Facebook posts recently. Here’s just a short excerpt from yesterday’s post.

“To make a great film, you generally have to make a good one first — and to make the good one, you have to make a not-so-good one even before that. Sure, the exceptions come out of the gate strong, but that is not most of us, and certainly not the ones who have to run the long distance race.”
Ted Hope,  Amazon Studios
Facebook post 8/20/18

P.S. The best example of that is Quentin Tarantino. His first feature film was not Reservoir Dogs—that was his first completed feature film. Before that he spent three to eight years (reports vary) shooting and editing  My Best Friend’s Birthday which was never completed.  Along with watching movies, Tarantino considers that his film school. It’s estimated that he spent $5,000 on My Best Friend’s Wedding—which makes for a pretty inexpensive film school.

Related posts:
‘If I ran a film school…’—Ted Hope
Start Small…But Start Somewhere
‘A new and vibrant cinema’—Ted Hope
Failure, Failure—Wild Success (Larry David’s Journey to Co-creating ‘Seinfeld’)

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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“You get tired of going to the movies and seeing stuff that you don’t want to see or not seeing the stuff you want to be dealt with. When the subject matter you love is not being done right, you have to make your own movies.”
Writer/director Spike Lee
(I don’t remember where I first read this quote, but it’s at least 15 years old. Found it in handwritten in an old notebook today. What I used to do just for myself before I had this blog. )

Spike Lee’s latest film, BlacKkKlansman has a 97% Rotten Tomato rating from all critics.  And it opened this weekend in 1,512 theaters making a respectable $10 million. Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz developed the original spec script based on the memoir of Ron Stallworth. (Read the  IndieWire interview  to see how they contacted Stallworth directly and pitched their idea to him.)

Lee and Kevin Willmott are also credited as writers on the finished film.

Scott W. Smith

 

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