Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Evolution of Movie Dance

Here are the 100 greatest dance scenes, in the opinion of Mewlists.

The full list:

1. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - 1921
2. Our Dancing Daughters - 1928
3. 42nd Street - 1933
4. Flying Down to Rio - 1933
5. The Little Colonel - 1935
6. Top Hat - 1935
7. Swing Time - 1936
8. A Day at the Races - 1937
9. The Wizard of Oz - 1939
10. Fantasia - 1940
11. Hellzapoppin' - 1941
12. Stormy Weather - 1943
13. Broadway Rhythm - 1944
14. Anchors Aweigh - 1945
15. It's a Wonderful Life - 1946
16. The Red Shoes - 1948
17. Royal Wedding - 1951
18. Singin' in the Rain - 1952
19. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - 1953
20. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - 1954
21. It's Always Fair Weather - 1955
22. Oklahoma! - 1955
23. The Fastest Gun Alive - 1956
24. Jailhouse Rock - 1957
25. Funny Face - 1957
26. El bolero de Raquel - 1957
27. Damn Yankees - 1958
28. Party Girl - 1958
29. The Sound of Music - 1959
30. Never on Sunday - 1960
31. West Side Story - 1961
32. Band of Outsiders - 1964
33. My Fair Lady - 1964
34. Zorba the Greek - 1964
35. Mary Poppins - 1964
36. The Jungle Book - 1967
37. The Producers - 1968
38. Sweet Charity - 1969
39. Young Frankenstein - 1974
40. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - 1975
41. Saturday Night Fever - 1977
42. Grease - 1978
43. All That Jazz - 1979
44. Airplane! - 1980
45. The Blues Brothers - 1980
46. Urban Cowboy - 1980
47. Fame - 1980
48. Flashdance - 1983
49. Risky Business - 1983
50. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life - 1983
51. Footloose - 1984
52. Breakin' - 1984
53. A Chorus Line - 1985
54. Girls Just Want to Have Fun - 1985
55. White Nights - 1985
56. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - 1986
57. Dirty Dancing - 1987
58. Moonwalker - 1988
59. The Little Mermaid - 1989
60. Beauty and the Beast - 1991
61. Strictly Ballroom - 1992
62. Scent of a Woman - 1992
63. Reservoir Dogs - 1992
64. Addams Family Values - 1993
65. Swing Kids - 1993
66. Pulp Fiction - 1994
67. True Lies - 1994
68. Muriel's Wedding - 1994
69. The Mask - 1994
70. Showgirls - 1995
71. Shall We Dansu? - 1997
72. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion - 1997
73. Titanic - 1997
74. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery - 1997
75. Dance with Me - 1998
76. She's All That - 1999
77. Road Trip - 2000
78. Center Stage - 2000
79. Billy Elliot - 2000
80. Save the Last Dance - 2001
81. Moulin Rouge! - 2001
82. Chicago - 2002
83. Grind - 2003
84. Kung Fu Hustle - 2004
85. Napoleon Dynamite - 2004
86. Shall We Dance? - 2004
87. The 40-Year-Old Virgin - 2005
88. Clerks II - 2006
89. Little Miss Sunshine - 2006
90. Take the Lead - 2006
91. Hairspray - 2007
92. Spider-Man 3 - 2007
93. Stomp the Yard - 2007
94. Make It Happen - 2008
95. Slumdog Millionaire - 2008
96. Step Up 2: The Streets - 2008
97. Tropic Thunder - 2008
98. (500) Days of Summer - 2009
99. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - 2009
100. Black Swan - 2010

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Edward Gough Whitlam: 1916-2014

Some time during the middle of the 1960s, I suddenly realised that the existence of a program of National Conscription in Australia, combined with the apparently endless war in Vietnam, meant that I was probably doomed to be mangled or killed on a foreign shore, for no particular reason. I was uncomfortable with the prospect.
   The tangible outworking of my discomfort was that I joined the local branch of the Australian Labor Party. (Yes, "Labor" is spelt without a 'U' in this context, due largely to the involvement of failed American gold miners in the establishment of the Party, way back when. All other
Australian usages of the word require the 'U'.)
   I happened to be living in a small country town in the heart of 'Black Jack' McEwan's electorate, which consistently recorded the lowest vote in the country for the ALP. The significance of this is that the local party was dispirited, members were few and mostly inactive, and a friend and I were free to appoint ourselves to whatever roles we desired. As such we became Delegates to the ALP National Conference held at

the St Kilda Town Hall in 1971. I was shocked to discover that the Conference wasn't much more than a fashion parade. (I was 17 years old at the time. Make allowances.) We were treated to displays of black-suited eloquence by such friends of the working man as Bob Hawke and Don Dunstan, but the unquestioned star of the show was one Edward Gough Whitlam.
   Like most Australians at the time, I had no idea that Gough was an actor. Yes, indeedy. And sympathetic to the idea that Australia should have its own film industry. The Australian film revival of the 1970s only really took shape after Gough became Prime Minister. His government established the Australian Film and Television School and the Australian Film Commission, which led to a resurgence of the Australian film industry, later dubbed the Australian New Wave.
   Not only that but Gough appeared in some of the films that his innovations had made possible, and helped unleash 'Dame' Edna Everage on the world.

Edward Gough meets Bazza McKenzie in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own.

Edward Gough meets Edna Everage and dubs her a 'Dame,'
in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own.

And to round things out, we can listen to that speech, one last time.

Seeking new and unique voices

Universal Pictures are offering an Emerging Writers Fellowship for "talented screenwriters who have the potential to thrive, but don’t have access to or visibility within the industry."
Those chosen to participate in the program will work exclusively with the studio over the course of a year to hone their skills. During this program, fellows will be given the opportunity to work on current Universal projects as well as pitch original story ideas. In addition to working on writing assignments, the fellows will receive industry exposure by:
- Participating in filmmaking workshops and studio seminars
- Receiving mentoring from established filmmakers
- Networking with top literary agents and managers
- Meeting with production development executives
- Attending screenings and premieres
Fellows admitted into the program will be hired under a writing service agreement and must be committed to working full-time for one year. Additionally, Universal Pictures has the option to extend a fellows’ contract for a second year.

You can find the eligibility criteria, details about the selection process, application forms, and frequently asked questions HERE.

The Emerging Writers Fellowship Application will be available beginning at 12:00 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The longest single shot in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Vashi Nedomansky is a film editor, born in Czechoslovakia, who defected with his parents at the age of four. He grew up in Toronto and Detroit before settling in Los Angeles. He is known as the editor of Sharknado 2: The Second One and An American Carol. Vashi was a professional hockey player for 10 years. He says,
This 101-second shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark is the single longest shot from the film. Using motivated camera movement, staging actors in different layers of depth and then altering the actor closest to camera... Steven Spielberg and DP Douglas Slocombe crafted an emotional scene with no cuts whatsoever.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Freddie Mercury and Luciano Pavarotti duet

Here is duet between an unlikely pair, Freddie Mercury and Luciano Pavarotti. This is one continuous performance from start to finish, shot in one take, using two cameras. No audio has been cut or replaced. The “Pavarotti” harmony for "Vincero, Vincero!" was added afterwards. The man working the magic is Marc Martel.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

First act turning point

Linda Aronson is an English-born, Australian playwright, scriptwriter, comic novelist and screenwriting theorist. Her book, The 21st-Century Screenplay, is the leading text on how to write non-linear films. She teaches screenwriting to professionals everywhere, and is on a speaking tour of Europe, which will culminate in appearances at the London Screenwriting Festival on 24-25 October.

The following is drawn from an e-mail Linda sent out last September. 

The first act turning point is a vital element of all stories, whether linear or nonlinear. It’s not an academic thing, it has a purpose. It is hugely important. Films that are perceived to have failed in their second act—in their middle—are films that don’t have a good enough first act turning point. They haven’t created enough of a problem for their characters, so there’s not enough story to fuel the rest of the film.

I’ve often said that the first act turning point is a surprise, that turns into the obstacle, that drives the rest of the story (that’s the Smiley/Thompson model). I also say that the first act turning point tells you what the film’s plot is ‘about’, as in ‘my film is ABOUT an actor who dresses up as a woman to get a job in a soap opera’ (Tootsie).

Another good way to think of the first act turning point is that it’s like the turntable on a railway line. It turns the engine of the film round and points it in a very specific direction—a direction which comes as a surprise, often an extreme surprise. For example, I’ve already mentioned Tootsie, so let’s look at how it works.

We start to watch a film that’s all about a very good actor who’s so difficult to work with that he can’t get an acting job. He’s obviously going to have some kind of adventure, maybe to do with being an actor, maybe not. Then suddenly, this man is dressed up as woman and getting a job as female character in a soap opera! Hello? We have swiveled in a logical but utterly surprising direction. In Thelma and Louise two women go off on holiday, stop for a drink—and suddenly they’re murderers on the run. Again, the film has swung in a completely different although logical direction, a direction that gives us the film’s real story.

Your railway turntable/first act turning point has to take your story on an interesting journey to somewhere even more interesting, or like the train, your film will come to a halt or go off the tracks completely. Unless you have that turnaround, that swiveling, that surprise, it will be predictable. Some films have a more striking first act turning point than others—the lesser the surprise at the first act turning point, the ‘quieter’ the film, the more ‘art house’.

Often when people say a script is more suitable for a telemovie, it will be because it doesn’t have a surprising first act turning point. I’m not saying that such films are bad—they can be very very good indeed. It’s just an observation of what is causing the ‘quiet’ and ‘art house’ effect. As a writer you need to know what creates a quiet ‘art house’ story and what creates something less subtle.

How to pick a good first act turning point

To know whether your first act turning point will work, check it against
successful films. Does it tick all the boxes that are ticked in those films (art house or otherwise)?

Box 1. The first act turning point is what the film is ‘about’ in terms of plot. 

Box 2. The first act turning point is a physical surprise that turns into an obstacle that creates the whole story. 

Box 3. The first act turning point is an entry into another world. 

Box 4. The film’s climax answers the question raised by the first act turning point. 

Let’s try the check list with the film Tootsie. The first act turning point is when Dustin Hoffman walks down the street disguised as a woman to get an acting job in a soap opera.

Tootsie is about ‘What happens to a man who dresses up as a woman in order to get a job in a soap opera’. (Tick Box 1).

The first act turning point is a surprise, that turns into an obstacle, that drives the rest of the film. (Tick box 2).

The first act turning point puts the protagonist into a new world—the world as experienced by a woman. (Tick Box 3)

The film’s climax answers the question raised by the first act turning point of: ‘How is a man who dresses up to get a job in a soap opera going to get out of that one!’ (Tick box 4).

Arguably, the first act turning point is the most vital structural element in the film. So much depends on it!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Harry Potter: It All Ends

This is a video from a while back that I had made during the build up toward the final Harry Potter film. It is a visual recap of all the installments of the series.