Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"Make It Count"

Nike gave filmmaker Casey Neistat the money to make a movie “about what it means to #makeitcount” — a Nike ad campaign slogan. Instead of spending the money on a more typical movie, Casey blew the budget filming himself, and his friend Max, traveling around the world over ten days. 
Life is either daring adventure or nothing at all.  -- Helen Keller
They didn't make it down to Australia. Nike couldn't afford that much adventure, I guess...

What did you do last week?

    Blog    Facebook    YouTube   

Monday, 30 July 2012

"Square One"

Square One is a webseries about life in the (business) fast lane.
Top PR executive Alex Kane receives juicy info that may help her win the coveted Mertel Industries account. But will the technological shortcomings of her new assistant, Emily, get in the way?
The series was written by Cherie Harris, Bindiya Patel and Christopher Findlay, and directed by Bindiya Patel.

Here's Episode 1.


    Facebook    IMDb    YouTube   

Sunday, 29 July 2012

"Video Game High School"

Your addiction to video games becoming a problem? The characters seem more real than your family? You're not alone...
One day during a public match, a friendless, down-on-his-luck, young gamer called Brian manages to kill the game's number one player. Because of the resultant hype, Brian gets invited to a competitive gaming school called Video Game High School, where he tries to make his dream of playing at the highest level come true.
Written by Matt Arnold, Will Campos and Brian Firenz. Directed by Matt Arnold, Brandon Laatsch and Freddie Wong.

Here's episode 1.


    IMDb    Website    Wikipedia    YouTube   

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Eight secrets of success - Richard St. John

Richard St. John was on his way to the TED conference when a girl on the plane asked him, "What really leads to success?" Even though he had achieved some success, he couldn't explain how he did it. So he spent the next ten years researching success and asking over 500 extraordinarily successful people in many fields what helped them succeed. After analyzing, sorting, and correlating millions of words of research, and building one of the most organized databases on the subject of success, he discovered the eight traits successful people have in common and wrote the bestseller The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 to Be Great.

A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success -- and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.

In his books and talks, he shares a wealth of wisdom from the world's most successful people -- knowledge that can help others succeed in their own way, whether it's escaping poverty, building a business, raising a family, or changing the world.


    Website    YouTube   

Friday, 27 July 2012

"The Beekeeper"

The wonderful people at Epic Films have released one of their short films into general circulation.
A young boy and his grandad discuss the dietary requirements of bees… but does Grandad know more about the insects than he’s letting on?
Produced by Kirsty Stark, Written & Directed by Marcus McKenzie, Cinematography by Vivyan Madigan, Production Design by Annalisa Francesca, Edited by Victoria Cocks, Sound Design by Leigh Kenyon.

    Facebook    IMDb    Twitter    Vimio    Website    YouTube   

Thursday, 26 July 2012

"Trailers From Hell"

Here's an unusual webseries. It consists of Hollywood insiders discussing movies, while showing us the trailer for the movie in question. The commentators include (but are not restricted to): Guillermo del Toro, Allison Anders, Allan Arkush, John Badham, Larry Cohen, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Jonathan Kaplan, John Landis, Adam Rifkin, Eli Roth, John Sayles, and Brian Trenchard-Smith.

I struggled in choosing an example for this post (there's so many to pick from), and changed my mind several times. In the end I settled on a Brian Trenchard-Smith commentary on Dr. No.

The first entry in the greatest tentpole series of all time, seven of which starred Sean Connery in the role that made him an international star. Amazingly, author Ian Fleming wanted composer-actor Hoagy Carmichael to play his licensed-to-kill Agent 007. The then-groundbreaking amorality of the concept led Patrick McGoohan to turn down the role, as did Richard Johnson (who later played in two Bond-like Bulldog Drummond films) and Roger Moore, who later replaced Connery as Bond.


    Facebook    Twitter    Website    YouTube   

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Wire: Lego-Style

The Wire ran on HBO from 2002 to 2008. I watched it on DVD in 2011. An astonishing series. Highly recommended. 

You want to write quality TV? Pay attention to The Wire.

It was good, so, naturally, it became the focus of spoof and homage. Here are a couple of examples.


You wanna write memorable dialogue? Take a look at the The 100 Greatest Quotes from The Wire. Shi-iiiii-it!


    Facebook    IMDb    Wikipedia   

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Frank Pierson: 1925-2012

Frank Pierson died in Los Angeles of natural causes, following a short illness. He was a veteran TV and feature film writer and director, who won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for Dog Day Afternoon. He was nominated for two other Academy Awards—for Cat Ballou and Cool Hand Luke. Pierson was president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science from 2001-2005. He also won Emmy awards for TV directing: Truman (1995) and Conspiracy (2001).

Pierson received the Writers Guild of America’s top three honors—Laurel Award for Lifetime Achievement, Valentine Davies Award and Edmund H. North Award. He served as president of the WGA from 1981-1983 and 1993-1995.

He was born May 12, 1925 in Chappaqua, New York, and was educated at Harvard University. After serving as a correspondent for Time magazine, he became a story editor for various TV shows. Following a robust TV writing career, he launched into directing. While continuing to write, he made his film directing debut with The Looking Glass War in 1969. He also directed the 1976 version of A Star Is Born, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and directed King of the Gypsies in 1978.




City Short - New York

I can't help it, I live in Adelaide, South Australia. Nice place, nice people, but it sits at the bottom of the wide, brown land, a long way from anywhere.

So I'm a sucker for a short film like this, from Lost & Found Films. And it's always nice to see an Australian doing well in the Big Apple.
Richard Christiansen of Chandelier Creative takes us on a design tour of New York for Wallpaper Magazine.
Enjoy...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Book review: The Short Screenplay

Dan Gurskis is the dean of the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, New Jersey. He was previously professor and chair of the Department of Film, Brooklyn College, of the City University of New York, where he had overseen the creation of a graduate school of cinema, with the largest film and television production facility outside of Los Angeles. 
    In addition to his academic experience, Gurskis has held creative and management positions in film, television, theatre, and advertising, and he has performed pro bono work in arts management.

He also wrote a book called The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film from Concept to Production. It's a book of information, rather than inspiration. If you like the facts laid out in crisp logical order, with lots of lists, sample short film scripts, an index, and every buzz word carefully explained and illustrated, this book will suit you. If you're starting out in film and need to learn the language, this is a great place to begin. It was written by a teacher, for students, and that shows from page one. There's nothing new or revolutionary here, just lots of simple, practical advice for anyone looking to make their first short film.

What follows is a bunch of sample quotes from the book.
________________________________________________________________________
  • There are four main categories of short films:
    • Short-short (2-4 minutes in length)
    • Conventional short (7-12 minutes in length)
    • Medium short (20-25 minutes in length)
    • Long short (30 minutes or longer)
    Each is structurally different from the others.
  • In conceptualizing your screenplay, you should also be careful to avoid certain things:
    • The extensive use of special or visual effects
    • Large casts
    • Multiple subplots
    • Story resolution through death (either murder or suicide)
    • Weapons
    • Serial killers
    • Parodies and mockumentaries
    • Dreams and fantasies
    • Characters who are obviously walking contradictions.
  • An audience makes its connection with a film primarily through identification with an empathetic character.
  • An effective short screenplay is almost always character-centered.
  • A character is defined by the choices made during the course of the screenplay's action. A choice involves a decision. But the decision is in the doing, not in the consideration of what should be done. In other words, a choice is active and external. Something happenssomething that the audience can see.
  • A screenwriter must decide how much information the audience should know relative to the characters on-screen.
    • When the audience knows less than the characters, there's natural curiosity about the outcome of events on-screen. This storytelling strategy is called mystery.
    • When the audience shares the same information as the characters, there's both concern for the characters and curiosity about the outcome. This strategy is called suspense.
    • When the audience knows more than the characters, there's only concern for the characters because the outcome is already known. This strategy is called dramatic irony.
  • Film dialogue has six goals:
    • Move the plot forward
    • Reveal character
    • Provide information about the story
    • Establish tone
    • Convey theme
    • Add to the backdrop of the story.
  • In a speech, a line, or an exchange, the most important point comes at the end, the second-most important point comes at the beginning, and everything else, which can vary in importance, lies in the middle.
  • A competent actor can say more with his face in a close-up than a superb screenwriter can say in pages of dialogue.
  • Characters, plot, setting, and theme each present you with a way to generate ideas for a screenplay.
  • A premise is the dramatic situation from which the conflict arises and the action unfolds.
  • A concept is the overall idea for a story (not a plot) expressed in one sentence, consisting of a protagonist, that character's super-objective, and the obstacle that stands in the way of attaining that objective.
  • A synopsis is a concise prose version of a story (not a plot) told in three to five paragraphs.
  • A step outline—also known as a beat sheet—is a scene-by-scene outline of the major beats that will make up the action in a screenplay.
  • A scene outline is a more detailed scene-by-scene description of the screenplay, including most, if not all, of the minor beats that will make up the action in the screenplay.
  • A sequence outline is a list of the sequences that will make up the action in the screenplay.
  • Traditionally, a treatment has been a 20-50-page prose version of the story for a screenplay. Over the years, this has evolved, and today the term is often used to describe any prose version of the story for a screenplay, regardless of its length. 
  • At the very least, you should create a concept, a synopsis, and a step outline before beginning your first draft.    

Sunday, 22 July 2012

"Star Trek: Reunion"

Star Trek: Reunion, "The Gathering Storm," is the first episode of a ten-part machinima series that features five Starfleet captains as they wrestle with the recent death of one of their own at the hands of a Klingon General. Their tales of remembrance uncover clues and they realise that her death wasn't meaningless.

In this episode, Cortak retells a tale of when he served under Captain Lynya Taran as they undertake what should have been an easy mission for Starfleet Intelligence.

    Twitter    Website   

Saturday, 21 July 2012

"Much Better Now"

Here's an animated short film about a bookmark who has a day out.

Made by Philipp Comarella and Simon Griesser.

Vimio    Website   

Friday, 20 July 2012

Interview with Chris Tugwell

Chris Tugwell is an Adelaide-based screenwriter, playwright and author. He has written more than fifty scripts for film, stage, radio, television, documentary and multimedia. 
    Chris was a member of the National Executive of the Australian Writers' Guild from 1992 to 1996, a member of the South Australian Committee for sixteen years, and Chair of the SA Committee for ten years.
    He worked with Katrina Sedgwick to establish the Insite Unproduced Screenplay Competition for the Adelaide Film Festival. Chris was a member of the Board of the Australian Script Centre for six years. He was a founding member of the Australian Writers’ Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS), a Board member from 1995 to 2007, and Chair from 2004 to 2007. He was a member of the Board of the Australian Script Centre for six years.
    The man has been busy, but he made time to answer a few questions.
________________________________________________________________________

* Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in England and my family came to Adelaide when I was seven. Best thing we ever did.

*  Where did you go to school?

I went to private schools in Adelaide and then to Flinders University to study acting. When uni fees were removed by the Whitlam government it brought a flood of new people and really opened my eyes. At the time university was for privileged and rich private school kids (like me). We had always been told we were the best, but suddenly brilliant people from less wealthy families had this fantastic opportunity, and for the first time I had to work hard to keep up. This was a time of conscription, anti-war protest, aboriginal land rights, and women's liberation, all questions from which I had been sheltered.

Flinders University, in the afternoon sun.
*  What kind of a family did you grow up with?

My mother was an opera singer, my sister a dancer and circus performer, and I'm a writer and actor. My brother was a civil engineer. Where did we go wrong?

*  When did you first take an interest in storytelling?

I always thought writers were other people, clever people, not me. I only began writing when I started acting and worked with groups that put scripts together and then performed them. That seemed perfectly natural; not really "writing" at all.

*  What was your first paying job?

I had all sorts of part time jobs; delivery driver, road labourer, gardener, steel worker, clerk. My first full time job was as a high school English and Drama teacher in the steel town of Whyalla. That's also where I wrote my first play.

*  What was your first job in the writing business?

It doesn't work like that, I find. You have an idea, you write it. Someone might be interested, or you may get a few people together and put it on yourself. My first commissionwhere I got paid to write somethingwas for Patch Theatre (a children's theatre company in Adelaide). The play was about mail-order brides. By the time I'd finished it that director had left and the new one wasn't interested.

*  Who was the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?

Zora Semberova
There were two, both at Flinders Uni. One was Zora Semberova, a dance teacher and former prima ballerina from Moscow. In almost every lesson she would cry, "You are nothing, you are dilettante," to one or other of us. She was always right, we were taking the easy path, trying to get away with doing only as much as we had to. That always resulted in shallow work. The second was Yutaka Wada, my Japanese acting teacher at Flinders. When a student was late once, he listened to her excuses and then said to us all, "Death is the only excuse, death or fatal accident." No-one was ever late again. Both Madame Zora and Yutaka always expected us to give our best, and only accepted that.

*  Of all your writing projects over the years, which has been the most satisfying, and why?

The stage version of X Ray was an incredible experience. Not only did it get four productions, which is rare, but it was a piece that had a direct effect on the way people thought about an issue as it was unfolding. Also, having Major Michael Moriin full Marine uniformspeak to the audience on opening night, or seeing Terry Hicks sitting on the ground with local aboriginal leaders in Darwin, who also had family in prison, was incredibly moving. (For those who don't know, X Ray was about an Australian, David Hicks, who was held in Guantanamo Bay for seven years, and his dad's struggle to get justice.)

Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp
*  You spent many years developing your screenplay, X Ray, only to have the plug pulled on you at the last minute. I know it was a devastating experience emotionally and professionally. What steps did you take to recover and renew your vision?

I had worked on this for seven years, and the response to the script had been consistently positive, but that wasn't enough. So for a long time afterwards I did not write. I completely lost my belief in any ability I had. 

The village of Urada, Tokamachi, Niigata
My partner makes felt. In 2010 she was chosen by the Australian Embassy to be artist-in-residence for three months at Australia House in a tiny village in the mountains of Japan. As it was so remote they insisted she take someone with her. I almost had to beat friends and family off with a stick to get to go. 
    We lived in a 150 year old farm house on the edge of the rice fields and the forest. Part of the deal was to write a blog of our experiences. That gave me the chance to write for a totally different audience, but mostly for myself. 

An article in the local Niigata Nippo newspaper.
    The Japanese attitude to artists is one of remarkable respect. A writer is a valued person, so it was immensely satisfying to write purely for funfor an audience ready and willing to listenabout the amazing place we found ourselves in and the challenges we faced. We have just put that blog into book form and that too has been rewarding and energising.

*  Australian filmmaking inevitably involves government funding agencies at some point. What have your experiences with them been like?

Highest highs and deepest despair. I have both been on the committees making the decisions and on the receiving end of decisions. I have found people are dedicated and professional and have the best intentions, but don't always make the best decisions. Good projects can miss out for want of a key element, or because a similar project somewhere else on the planet beats them to it. Bad projects can get up because of the timing or it's just what a network is looking for. 
    I have been in meetings where I felt convinced I knew which projects would get funded, and been wrong about every one. What has surprised me, though, is how even the best writers and producers can stuff up an application by not being clear about their vision. I must say that the SA Film Corporation has been incredibly supportive of a number of projects of mine. Even when the projects haven't always progressed, the SAFC's belief in me hasn't wavered. That means a lot.

*  You have just released a screenwriting book called Dinosaur Theory. Can you pitch the central idea of that book in a few lines?

As I say on the back cover, each and every great screen story has a natural and seamless shape that lies within the script; that shape might be a journey, an event, a time limit or a place. Dinosaur Theory shows you how to find that shape and use it to create your own powerful and unique screenplay. You can get the book from amazon.com!

*  I’ve heard your next project involves African refugees in Australia. Are you free to tell us anything about that?

I rarely talk about a project as I work on it. What I can say is it involves men and cooking. In the past few weeks though, and totally out of the blue, I have been asked to write a big budget feature; which just shows you can never plan a career in writing. Things just come up.

*  You have taught screenwriting at the Adelaide College of the Arts. What one main idea do you try to impress on students?

What do we see?!

*  If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book (not your own) to a newbie screenwriter in Adelaide, which one would it be?

I find William Froug (Screenwriting Tricks of the Trade) to be the best of the 'Hollywood' bunch. Another book, one that asks writers themselves about how they work, is Top Secrets: Screenwriting, by Jurgen Wolff and Kerry Cox; and guess what, most of the writers quoted don't use three acts!

What are your ten favourite movies of all time?

This list changes all the time; but here goes. 
I'd also add any Buster Keaton silent movie. 

(Buster Keaton was arguably the greatest actor/director in movie history, and an inspiration to many comedians who followed, including—amongst many others—Jackie Chan. The following is a five minute clip which shows a few of Buster Keaton's finest moments. Thanks for giving me an excuse for showing this, Chris. Oh, and turn the sound up...)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Henri 3, Le Vet

He's back. Henri, Le Chat Noir.

Has fame spoiled Henri? Has he conquered his depression? Will travel broaden his outlook? Will he take a stand against tyranny?

Now for the third action-packed installment, from Will Braden of Seattle

    Facebook    IMDb    Twitter    Website    YouTube    

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

New Yorkie P.O.V.

Two cute puppies, Schmitty and Pudge, invite you to tour New York City. Follow the adventures of these delightful Yorkies as they visit all of New York City's famous landmarks. Starting at Grant's Tomb in Harlem, they head south to visit the Seinfeld gang's favorite restaurant, and then rest their tired paws with a carriage ride through Central Park. After a hot dog at Gray's Papaya, the pooches bump into Regis on their way down to Times Square to meet the Naked Cowboy before catching a matinee on Broadway. Then it's off to the Empire State Building for a dog's eye view of Manhattan. A taxi to Tiffany's for a little retail therapy is the perfect prelude to an afternoon massage. Nothing caps off a day in NYC better than sitting in Battery Park watching the sunset over the Statue of Liberty.

Written and directed by Elly McGuire.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

"Dark Horse - The Secret"

Dark Horse - The Secret is a creepy animated webseries, written by Mike Richardson and directed by Erik Bruhwiler.
Tonight is Tommy Morris' big chance. He's been invited to party with the social elite of Franklin High and maybe even hook up with the girl of his dreams. But when a prank call turns sour, Tommy gets much more than he bargained for...
If you like this kind of stuff...


    Comic    Website   

Monday, 16 July 2012

TV Writing Masterclass - David Mamet

David Mamet created a TV series called The Unit, which ran from 2006 to 2009 on CBS. As part of the process, writers were hired, some seventeen of them over the duration, not counting Mamet himself.

Note: "The Unit" is a euphemism that parallels the term "The Company." The latter relates to C.I.A., the former to Delta Force.

In 2005, David Mamet dashed off a memo to his writers. This document circulated through writing circles for years. It is rumored to have first been publicized by Ink Canada, but that is unconfirmed. I do know that the memo was published in 2010, the year after the show was cancelled, by Seth Abramovitch on MovieLine. It has been referenced by many others since. 

One of the characteristics of the memo is that the entire document was written in upper case. Yeah, UPPER CASE. WE CALL THAT "SHOUTING" AND IT IS BLOODY HARD TO READ. If you've ever seen a David Mamet screenplay, you'll know he writes them largely in upper case as well. Anyway, for the ease of readers, I went through the text and took the liberty of converting it into a more readable format. The choice of which words to emphasize in bold is all Mamet's.
_______________________________________________________________________

To the writers of The Unit

Greetings.

As we learn how to write this show, a recurring problem becomes clear. The problem is this: to differentiate between drama and non-drama. 

Let me break-it-down now. Everyone in creation is screaming at us to make the show clear. We are tasked with, it seems, cramming a shitload of information into a little bit of time. Our friends, the penguins, think that we, therefore, are employed to communicate informationand, so, at times, it seems to us.

But note: the audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn't, I wouldn't. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned to watch drama.

Question: What is drama? Drama, again, is the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific, acute goal.

So: we, the writers, must ask ourselves of every scene these three questions.
1) Who wants what?
2) What happens if he don't get it?
3) Why now?

The answers to these questions are litmus paper. Apply them, and their answer will tell you if the scene is dramatic or not. If the scene is not dramatically written, it will not be dramatically acted.

There is no magic fairy dust which will make a boring, useless, redundant, or merely informative scene after it leaves your typewriter. You, the writers, are in charge of making sure every scene is dramatic.

This means all the "little" expositional scenes of two people talking about a third. This bushwah (and we all tend to write it on the first draft) is less than useless, should it finally, god forbid, get filmed.

If the scene bores you when you read it, rest assured it will bore the actors, and will, then, bore the audience, and we're all going to be back in the breadline.

Someone has to make the scene dramatic. It is not the actor's job (the actors job is to be truthful). It is not the director’s job. His or her job is to film it straightforwardly and remind the actors to talk fast. 

It is your job.

Every scene must be dramatic. That means: the main character must have a simple, straightforward, pressing need which impels him or her to show up in the scene. This need is why they came. It is what the scene is about. Their attempt to get this need met will lead, at the end of the scene, to failurethis is how (we know) the scene is over. It, this failure, will, then, of necessity, propel us into the next scene.

All these attempts, taken together, will, over the course of the episode, constitute the plot.

Any scene, thus, which does not both advance the plot, and stand alone (that is, dramatically, by itself, on its own merits) is either superfluous, or incorrectly written.

Yes but yes but yes but, you say: What about the necessity of writing in all that "information?"

And I respond, “Figure it out.” Any dickhead with a blue suit can be (and is) taught to say "Make it clearer", and "I want to know more about him".

When you've made it so clear that even this blue-suited penguin is happy, both you and he or she will be out of a job.

The job of the dramatist is to make the audience wonder what happens next. Not to explain to them what just happened, or to suggest to them what happens next.

Any dickhead, as above, can write, “But, Jim, if we don't assassinate the Prime Minister in the next scene, all Europe will be engulfed in flame.”

We are not getting paid to realize that the audience needs this information to understand the next scene, but to figure out how to write the scene before us, such that the audience will be interested in what happens next.

Yes but, yes but yes but, you reiterate.

And I respond, Figure it out.

How does one strike the balance between withholding and vouchsafing information? That is the essential task of the dramatist. And the ability to do that is what separates you from the lesser species in their blue suits.

Figure it out.

Start, every time, with this inviolable rule: The scene must be dramatic. It must start because the hero has a problem, and it must culminate with the hero finding him or herself either thwarted or educated that another way exists.
Look at your log lines. Any logline reading “Bob and Sue discuss...” is not describing a dramatic scene.

Please note that our outlines are, generally, spectacular. The drama flows out between the outline and the first draft.

Think like a filmmaker rather than a functionary, because, in truth, you are making the film. What you write, they will shoot.

Here are the danger signals. Any time two characters are talking about a third, the scene is a crock of shit. Any time any character is saying to another, “As you know,” that is, telling another character what you, the writer, need the audience to know, the scene is a crock of shit.

Do not write a crock of shit. Write a ripping three, four, seven minute scene which moves the story along, and you can, very soon, buy a house in Bel Air and hire someone to live there for you.

Remember you are writing for a visual medium. Most television writing, ours included, sounds like radio. The camera can do the explaining for you. Let it. What are the characters doing? Literally. What are they handling, what are they reading? What are they watching on television, what are they seeing?

If you pretend the characters can’t speak, and write a silent movie, you will be writing great drama.

If you deprive yourself of the crutch of narration, exposition, indeed, of speech, you will be forced to work in a new mediumtelling the story in pictures (also known as screenwriting). This is a new skill. No one does it naturally. You can train yourselves to do it, but you need to start.

I close with the one thought: look at the scene and ask yourself, “Is it dramatic? Is it essential? Does it advance the plot?”

Answer truthfully.

If the answer is “no,” write it again or throw it out. If you've got any questions, call me up.

Love, Dave Mamet

Santa Monica 19 October 05

(It is not your responsibility to know the answers, but it is your, and my, responsibility to know and to ask the right questions over and over. Until it becomes second nature. I believe they are listed above.)

_______________________________________________________________________

Anyone who has read David Mamet's book, On Directing Film, will recognize most of the material in this memo.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The True Story of the Traveling Wilburys

In The True Story of the Traveling Wilburys, Willy Smax tells the fascinating story of the short-lived 1980s supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. 

Spring, 1988: George Harrison asked Jeff LynneRoy Orbison, and Tom Petty to spend a day in the studio at Bob Dylan's L.A. house. The result is "Handle With Care." He liked the process so much that the five of them, plus Jim Keltner, spend a week in May at Dave Stewart's house, where they write and record a song a day to produce an album. We watch the creative process: group efforts ("Dirty World" is a found poem) and individual ones (Dylan's lyrics for "Congratulations"). Petty calls them "a bunch of friends who happened to be really good at making music."  

If you like music, you'll love this short documentary.

    Google    Website    Wikipedia   

Saturday, 14 July 2012

"This Must Be the Place"

This Must Be the Place is a webseries produced and directed by Ben Wu and David Usui, of Lost & Found Films.
There's no place like home. It's where we live, work and dream. It's our sanctuary and our refuge. We can love them or hate them. It can be just for the night or for the rest of our lives. But whoever we may be, we all have a place we call home.
This Must Be the Place is a series of short films that explore the idea of home; what makes them, how they represent us, why we need them. 

It might be the repressed hippie in me, but I like this short story.


Friday, 13 July 2012

8 Mistakes Filmmakers Make

Elliot Grove is a Canadian-born film producer who founded the Raindance Film Festival, the British Independent Film Awards, and Raindance.TV. He has produced over 150 short films, and five feature films; he teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America; and has written three books which have become industry standardsRaindance Writers' Lab, Raindance Producers' Lab Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and 130 Projects to Get You into Filmmaking.

From all that we can deduce that he knows a few things about filmmaking. Here are some of his thoughts on the common mistakes filmmakers make.
________________________________________________________________________

As your filmmaking career starts to grow, it's crucial that your actions don't strangle it in its infancy. By avoiding the mistakes that so many filmmakers make you have a far greater chance of succeeding well beyond the first two years of the launch date of your career.

1. Doing Too Much Yourself


Business owners as well as filmmakers fall into this trap, as they attempt to minimise costs. It can mean that you will get bogged down in the day-to-day nitty gritty, keeping you from stepping back and taking a good hard look at the future. Future planning and, with it, the ability to anticipate problems, are two important areas successful filmmakers have to keep control of. Doing too much can mean that the fire-fighting cycle just keeps repeating over and over again.
     Coupled with that is the guilt associated with neglecting family and personal relationships. This often leads to exhaustion and collapse.
     Why not call for extra help before you need it, and not after the cracks have begun to show, and usually, it is too late.

2. You Don't Know What You Don't Know


Most filmmakers start their career because they are really good at something. Some are really good at directing action, others have a flair for working with actors, and others are just good solid all-rounders.
     What many filmmakers forget is that it is a business which involves a host of different skill sets. They forget that filmmaking requires the basic business management skills such as: sourcing new clients and work, marketing and publicity, recruiting new crew and staff, and managing the cash flow questions that any small business has. Add into this the creative mix and you have the potential for a meltdown.
     Running and, more importantly, developing and expanding your movie career is like growing and developing any type of business. It is unlikely that you will have the expertise to do everything needed yourself.
     Successful filmmakers learn to recognise their own skills and knowledge and take action to fill the gaps in their career plan.

3. Quitting The Day Job Too Quickly


A filmmaker or screenwriter's passion in what they are doing is usually so high that they enjoy some initial successes and revenues. They then quit their day jobs and hire premises and staff
only to face psychological and financial ruin when their early successes have been a minor blip on the long hard haul to a successful career.
     Everyone needs money in order to survive. Make sure you are able to cover your monthly expenses before you ditch your day job.
     Done correctly, you might be able to apply for funding or enjoy certain strategic tax benefits depending on your personal profile and the geographical territory you live in.

4. You Haven't Got Anyone To Talk To


Filmmakers have career issues which often require discussion and debate. The difficulty facing most filmmakers is that it's very difficult to find anyone they can relate to.
     Certain legal and technical challenges can be discussed with an accountant or lawyer. But issues of creativity are not the issues you want to discuss with inappropriate people.
     Having no network is potentially very damaging. Discussion with a trusted advisor or friend is where one finds new ideas and perspectives. Having your project and ideas endorsed is also nourishing for one's ego. Lukewarm receptions can indicate that your ideas are not developed enough. A small network of trusted people able to 'get' you, and will listen and discuss ideas with you, is an essential part of a filmmaker's success.

5. Working With The Wrong People


Filmmaking is a passionate business. It is also almost always very last minute. Add on top of that, the chronic fatigue. Under these circumstances it is tempting to hire people for production and other jobs quickly without properly interviewing and checking references. Remember, no matter how good someone is, if there's a difference in values, then the only questions that matter are "When will the row happen?" and "On what subject will it be?"
     Always be asking yourself: how much real experience do they have? Is it relevant to what you need? Are their skills and experience complimentary to yours? Do you have mutual respect? How important will you be to them? Do they know their own limits? What networks and contacts do they bring? Will they let you talk to their previous employers/collaborators to get a feel of how they work?
     As always, don't agree to work with anyone until you feel comfortable. And make sure you have written contracts in place for any creative collaboration.

6. Lack of self awareness


Many filmmakers are afraid of admitting their fears and inadequacies because they don't want to lose the mantra of praise that they want to follow them everywhere. They won't take any criticism from anyone because they don't trust them and because they believe they know better. When confronted they usually nitpick ridiculously fine details and refuse to entertain the creative or practical suggestions from anyone else.
     This makes it very difficult to develop a team and, as the word spreads, they find fewer and fewer people willing to collaborate with them.
     Successful filmmakers are brutally honest about themselves. Get some vital feedback from that special and trusted friend.

7. Staying In The Comfort Zone


Most filmmakers work with the same team members over and over again. There is nothing wrong with this
, exceptwho is challenging and testing you and your ideas?
     It's an easy trap to surround yourself with 'yes' men. Working with people who challenge you may be uncomfortable, but it's a whole lot easier then attending a disastrous screening of your movie because no one around you had the courage to say, "Hang on a minute
what about XYZ?"'
     Hip, innovative filmmakers pick up those cool ideas from outside their conventional thoughts. They learn to accept constructive criticism and learn how to deal with negative criticism. Mixing with others will increase your chances of doing this. The more diverse your contacts (whether by sectors/age/ethnic group/gender), the more you'll also be able to "narrow the angles" on potential incoming problems; someone in your group will have had experience of issues that you haven't
better to learn from others' mistakes than get extra battle scars yourself! 

8. Not Knowing Why You Want To Make Movies 

Filmmakers make movies for many different reasons. It doesn't really matter why you want to make a movie. Some make movies because they want to make money. Others make movies to get a message across. Others make movies because they are attracted by the allure and glamour. Decide what your ambitions are before you head off and attempt a career in filmmaking. Realise that your real reason for making movies will predetermine much of what you try and achieve. 

By avoiding, at least to some degree, these eight common mistakes, your filmmaking career has a much more decent chance of success. Analyse each of these eight areas and take appropriate action.