Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Joss Whedon talks about screenwriting

Here's a three-part interview with Joss Whedon, recorded by BAFTA.

Part 1:
The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer explains how writing became his "favourite thing ever." He was working in a video store, finished up on a Friday and started the following Monday as a staff writer.

Part 2:
How did Joss Whedon bring together all the Marvel superheroes? And why does he come up with his funniest lines at funerals? Find out in our second Whedon interview!

Part 3:
In our final part, Whedon talks about the challenges of directing, how he "treats film like the military" and his advice to new filmmakers. 

First posted: 23 August 2014

Monday, 30 October 2017

David S. Goyer: Screenwriters Lecture

David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Blade, Dark City) discusses his first script, writing for TV and why persistence pays off.

First posted: 19 August 2014

Sunday, 29 October 2017

How a boy became an artist

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a children's book author and illustrator who created the Lunch Lady series of graphic novels - and he has a powerful story of his own.

The child of a single-parent heroin addict, he was brought up by his grandparents, and his best friends, he says, were characters in books. 

His story about how he became an artist and an author was performed at TEDx. It's a powerful tale of the importance of creativity and imagination. 

Watch it, and keep a box of Kleenex handy.

First posted: 15 August 2014

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The J.F.K. Assassination: A Cast of Characters

A trove of documents about the killing of President John F. Kennedy is about to be released. For those too young to remember: The New York Times Peter Baker walks us through who’s who in this American tragedy.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Jacques Tati - The runaway bicycle

Here's an extract from the 1949 film by Jacques Tati, Jour de Fête. The runaway bicycle segment of the film is sometimes described as an homage to the 1926 Buster Keaton film, The General, which deals with a runaway train. 
   In Jour de Fête, Tati is a postman who struggles to complete his rounds due to the generosity of the villagers who ply him with wine at every stop. A similar scene occurs in the 2008 film Welcome to the Sticks when Philippe Abrams, a post office administrator, tries to set an example of efficiency for his postman.
   Meanwhile, this extract shows a Chaplinesque exercise with a bicycle.

First posted: 12 August 2014

Thursday, 26 October 2017


At the end of his greatest adventure, Skillman has vanquished his nemesis, recovered the priceless artifact, and saved his latest lover from certain doom. But as he struggles to figure out what comes next, his lady begins to realize her confident, capable man hasn't the first clue what to do once the guns are down.

First posted: 11 August 2014

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Story vs Plot

Jon Favreau interviewing Martin Scorsese for the third season of Dinner for Five - in this excerpt Jon asks him about story versus plot in filmmaking.

First posted: 10 August 2014

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

5 Things I Learned About Selling Films from Selling Fashion on eBay

The following article, written by Tina Poppy, first appeared on Ted Hope's blog. A former Director of Development at a film non-profit, Tina currently consults on gender-related issues within the film community. She earned her Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago and founded VioletvilleVintage.com as a successful commerce vintage clothing boutique in 2004.

If you asked me how I came to the film world and I told you I essentially started by selling vintage clothing on eBay, you would probably think I answered the wrong question. This myopic line of thinking is exactly why you might think it’s hard to make, sell, and distribute a film. When I started selling on eBay 10 years ago, it was like the Wild Wild West – there were no instruction manuals or established models for success. I was trying to figure out how to sell something that my customers couldn’t touch or feel (or even see that well, as I still had no idea how to operate a camera).

The new world of independent film is looking more and more like this uncharted territory everyday. With existing consumption patterns becoming outdated, crowdfunding emerging as the new normal, and myriad new digital distribution models developing, there’s really no *one* right way to get your film made, sold, or seen.

Here are five things I learned from selling on eBay that might help:


Whatever your limitations – be they time, budget, or resources – consider them guideposts towards focusing on what you have the ability to control. Having too many choices can paralyze the decision-making process. Working with the resources you have available rather than focusing on the “if only” of what you think you need will help funnel your efforts in an efficient way. Work with what you’ve got. Decide, and move forward.

When I first started selling clothing, I made a game of it with myself. I would take $20 to the local thrift store, fill up my cart with cool things, then figure out which few things would allow me to turn my $20 into more than $20. That attitude resulted in buying a dress for $5 that sold at auction for $750. We shouldn’t always be cheapskates, but it’s helpful to consider that great things can be accomplished with very little.


The crumbling parts of the film industry suffer from a severe case of narrow-mindedness. Clinging to the way the industry has historically worked isn’t as helpful as observing even minor successes in the current landscape. If you can neutrally observe what works and what doesn’t in terms of presenting your film, you might uncover creative solutions and be able to make changes more fluidly.

When selling online, I would maintain some regularity to how and when I would list items for sale, but within that framework I would make small changes to the way I photographed and described items weekly. I tried listing auctions on different times and different days of the week, changed my vocabulary, used more or less enthusiastic punctuation, etc. You can definitely overdo it and never realize what’s really helping, but if you observe and explore, small modifications can make a huge difference.


Forget “friend rates” and working for free. If you pay people a decent fee for their work, they’ll be invested in your work. You’ll gain their support both during the project and after, when you’ll need people posting on social media and helping promote your film.

The first freelance photo editor I hired was also one of my best friends. But as a freelancer she went where the money was, so after deciding on a friend rate, I found she’d place my work squarely at the bottom of her to do list. After angrily deciding we couldn’t work together, we took a break, spoke a few months later, decided on a reasonable fee, and we’ve been co-existing as friends and colleagues ever since.


Part of what bothers me about overdependence on CGI is that I’m a real, live person. And while anthropomorphized robots as a concept *sounds* humanistic, the requisite visual perfection of CGI somewhat dismantles our ability to feel for Optimus Prime in the same way we might for R2D2. Feeling for, relating to, and caring about characters engages your audience. Engagement breeds attachment not just for the characters themselves but for the film itself and consequently for you as its creator. So just as you would develop a character for a film, you can develop the character *of* the film. Personality and engagement matters across every level and at every step.

When I was first figuring out how to photograph and present clothing online, I used a cheap half-mannequin barely resembling a body – it was more of a hanging triangle. Clothing would droop on it like some sad sack. Clipping a dress to make it look more shapely helped slightly, but ultimately a human body became necessary. At first, I’d crop my head and feet out of the photos as unnecessary, but I quickly realized people responded more to my face than to anything. My face isn’t special, but it’s more memorable than a hanging triangle, and when you see it every day you will likely respond to it if for no other reason than it’s familiar to you. Give your project an identity, a face, a character – someone human to respond to.


Everyone who has a stake in anything online talks about content. As filmmakers, you have a stake in the online world because that’s where your audience begins (and ends!). You can create content before and beyond your film, and you can share it online in an accessible and engaging format. Constant, creative digital marketing will help build the community that will bolster your projects.

After realizing I had become a digital representation of my brand of vintage clothing, I began developing a personal online presence through every available platform. Social media often seemed like a colossal waste of time – if you’re anything like me, you admonish yourself for spending too much time on social media as though it’s time that could be better spent “working,” i.e. contributing to the bottom line and focusing on “getting things done.” But I found then, as I do now more than ever, that even seemingly trivial interactions with people online can forge connections, relationships, and a larger sense of community that’s indispensable to everything I want to create.

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First posted: 7 August 2014

Monday, 23 October 2017

Abi Morgan: Screenwriters Lecture

The woman who reimagined Margaret Thatcher's ailing years for the silver screen, Abi Morgan has proved her impressive range across Film, Television and beyond in work such as The Iron Lady, Shame and The Hour.

First posted: 5 August 2014

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Alien Disrupts Marriage Proposal

Check out this creative CGI VFX short film about a guy who picked the wrong time and place to propose... 

A 3D Animation & Compositing project @ Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design by the talented Omry Fisher.

First posted: 22 August 2014

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A spec screenplay, 1912

The stories came from everywhere, from gag-writing professionals, from the actors (Mary Pickford is credited with several), from Griffith himself. Some even came from the public. By now there were movie fan magazines, and Biograph, like other companies, ran a contest in their pages, offering a $100 prize and production for the best screen story submitted, the assumption being that anyone who'd seen a movie could write one. This ruse to get cheap material backfired; expecting one thousand entries, Biograph was flooded with ten thousand. There was no time or money to read them all, and besides they were either replicas of movies someone else had made, or if they were original, repeated the same story, invariably: an orphan boy or girl makes good.
    But the public finally came through—an unsolicited story dropped over the Biograph transom in 1912, titled The New York Hat, written by A. Loos. The story department, finding it cogent, witty, and entire, must have wept with relief. They bought it, and Griffith shot it with two leads, Mary Pickford in her last Biograph movie and a struggling painter named Lionel Barrymore.
                                          "What Happens Next," by Marc Norman.

Anita Loos (1888-1981) began writing as a child and by age 13 was already contributing stories and sketches to magazines. Her family moved to San Diego when she was a teenager, and she briefly acted in a theater company managed by her father.
    Loos went to work as a screenwriter while still in her teens, writing more than 200 movies that showcased such early stars as Douglas Fairbanks. But her real fame as a writer came in 1925 when she wrote a humorous novel called Gentleman Prefer Blondes, which she started while on a long train ride. She claimed she wrote the book, about scatterbrained blond gold-digger Lorelei Lee, as a spoof to entertain her friend, the writer and intellectual H.L. Mencken, who supposedly had a taste for brainless blonds. The book became an international bestseller, was printed in 14 languages, and ran through 85 editions. It was also made into a hit Broadway play in 1949 and a movie musical in 1953 starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, who crooned the famous tune "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
    Loos, who stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed only about 94 pounds, wrote several other plays and a memoir of her days in early Hollywood.


And, if you're in the mood, here's Mary Pickford's color screen test.

First posted: 30 July 2014

Friday, 20 October 2017

Dustin Lance Black shares his outlining method

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) takes viewers inside his creative process in an explanation of his approach to outlining a script.

First posted: 24 July 2014

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Great Adventures

Gerard Lambkin's short film Great Adventures secured Best of Show as well as Best Narrative at New York's One Show - One Screen awards at the Sunshine Cinema, in New York City's Lower East Side, back in January 2014.

First posted: 23 July 2014

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The making of 'Lagaan'

My experience of Indian films is that when they are good, they are very good, and the rest of the time, they're boring. Even with the dancing.

The first problem you run into when trying to identify some good Indian movies is the fact that Indians, between them, speak some 1,500 languages. According to the Census of India of 2001, thirty languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers each. When you apply that to mass entertainment, conflicts emerge. Ask your taxi driver for a recommendation and the answer given will vary with his language preference. 


I found a list of recommended Indian movies online a few years ago and showed it to an Indian woman who was studying in Adelaide. She had previously been employed in television somewhere in Mumbai. She was outraged by the list because they were all made by the 'wrong people.' I don't speak any Indian language; I just get by with the subtitles, so all the in-fighting is wasted on me. I just want an interesting story, preferably with readable subtitles.

One of the best Indian movies I have seen, Lagaan, revolves around a cricket match between untutored Indian villagers and the cream of the local British garrison in 1893. The film was the third-ever Indian film nominated for an Academy Award. It can be found on the list for The 100 Best Films of World Cinema. The soundtrack is listed on Amazon.com's The 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time.

Below we have the trailer and a video outlining the making of Lagaan.

Meanwhile, if you get the chance, try some of these Indian films. (I don't know what language they are in, sorry.)
3 Idiots (2009)
Devdas (2002)
Don (2006)
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghan (2001)
Munna Bhai MBBS (2003)
Lagaan (2001)
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Veer-Zaara (2004)

First posted: 22 July 2014

Monday, 16 October 2017

Movies within movies

This celebration of cinema within cinema was put together by Clara Darko and
Brutzel Pretzel. It consists of 139 clips taken from 93 different films. Have a look and see how many you can recognize first, then scroll below the video to see the complete list of films used.

0:01 Ed Wood
0:02 Singin’ in the Rain
0:03 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
0:04 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:06 The Aviator
0:08 The Majestic
0:11 An American Werewolf in London
0:15 Donnie Darko
0:17 Grease
0:19 Blazing Saddles
0:22 Annie Hall
0:25 The Final Destination
0:29 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:31 The Majestic
0:33 Ed Wood
0:34 Annie
0:35 Holy Motors
0:37 Up
0:38 The Perks of Being a Wallflower
0:39 The Life Aquatic
0:40 Cinema Paradiso
0:41 Explorers
0:42 The Flintstones
0:43 Taxi Driver
0:45 The Third Man
0:46 La Haine
0:47 In the Mouth of Madness
0:48 Public Enemies
0:49 True Romance
0:53 Hugo
0:54 Curly Sue
0:55 Matinee
0:56 The Purple Rose of Cairo
0:58 Bachelor Party
1:00 The Shawshank Redemption
1:04 Cinema Paradiso
1:06 Avalon
1:08 Biloxy Blues
1:09 Scream 2
1:10 Gremlins
1:11 Inglorious Basterds
1:12 The Artist
1:15 Son of Rambow
1:17 All That Jazz
1:18 Twilight New Moon
1:20 Hannah and Her Sisters
1:22 The Departed
1:24 The Player
1:25 Taxi Driver
1:28 Pierrot le Fou
1:31 Not Fade Away
1:40 Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1:41 Sullivan’s Travels
1:43 Burn After Reading
1:44 Singin’ in the Rain
1:46 Cape Fear
1:53 Bonnie & Clyde
1:59 You’ve Got an Email
2:01 How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days
2:07 True Romance
2:18 The Notebook
2:20 Notting Hill
2:22 High Fidelity
2:24 Brokeback Mountain
2:26 Sunset Boulevard
2:28 Midnight Cowboy
2:29 Amarcord
2:32 Summer of 42
2:34 Diner
2:37 L.A. Confidential
2:38 Donnie Darko
2:40 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
2:41 Lucas
2:42 Who Framed Roger Rabbit
2:47 Midnight Cowboy
2:47 Sherlock Jr.
2:49 500 Days of Summer
2:50 Twelve Monkeys
2:58 Last Action Hero
3:03 The Blob
3:04 Outbreak
3:05 Inglorious Basterds
3:07 An American Werewolf in London
3:08 Hardcore
3:09 The Tingler
3:11 Scream 2
3:13 Barton Fink
3:14 The Hard Way
3:16 Bachelor Party
3:18 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
3:20 An American Werewolf in London
3:21 Manhattan Murder Mystery
3:22 Saboteur
3:23 The Hard Way
3:24 Inglorious Basterds
3:25 Matinee
3:28 Gremlins
3:29 Gremlins
3:30 The Blob
3:32 Silent Movie
3:33 Twister
3:35 Cinema Paradiso
3:38 The Final Destination
3:42 Inglorious Basterds
3:43 Matinee
3:44 The Final Destination
3:48 Inglorious Basterds
3:53 The Cider House Rules
3:58 Sherlock Jr.
3:59 Cinema Paradiso
3:59 Inglorious Basterds
4:01 Waking Life
4:02 Fight Club
4:03 Sunset Blvd.
4:04 The Bad and the Beautiful
4:12 Catch Me if You Can
4:20 L’armée des Ombres
4:21 Leon
4:25 El Espiritu de la Colmena
4:29 Be Kind Rewind
4:30 Bonnie & Clyde
4:33 Interview with the Vampire
4:37 The Green Mile
4:39 Cinema Paradiso
4:40 Cinema Paradiso
4:43 Simone
4:46 Amelie
4:48 The Artist
4:52 Atonement
4:54 The Majestic
4:56 The Aviator
4:58 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
5:00 Ed Wood
5:03 Gremlins
5:05 The Cider House Rules
5:07 Hugo
5:09 The Purple Rose of Cairo
5:25 Singin’ in the Rain
5:36 Matinee
First posted: 20 July 2014

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sympathetic doesn't have to mean likeable

Yes, we've heard all this before.
Your protagonist does not have to be likeable. ~Bill Froug

Characters don’t have to be nice to be likeable. Nice is boring. But they do have to be entertaining. ~Nigel Cole

I don’t care if people like a character or not; we don’t always like everybody. But you have to be able to understand them. ~Julianne Moore

It doesn’t matter if your lead character is good or bad. He just has to be interesting, and good at what he does. ~Justin Zackham
Jennine Lanouette, who made this video clip, believes that characters need to be vulnerable. Her point is made with examples from movies. 

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First posted: 5 July 2014

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Art of Silence - Martin Scorsese

Even though Martin Scorsese is famous for his use of music, one of his best traits is his deliberate and powerful use of silence. Take a glimpse at fifty years of this simple technique from one of cinema's masters. “The Art of Silence” also examines the depreciation of quietude in Hollywood blockbusters, from 1978′s Superman to 2013′s Man of Steel, alongside Spielberg’s inventive deployment in Saving Private Ryan.

First posted: 3 July 2014

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Rules of Film Noir

Matthew Sweet explores his rules of 1940s and 50s American film noir thrillers:
* Choose a dame with no past and a hero with no future
* Use no fiction but pulp fiction
* See America through a stranger's eyes
* Make it any color as long as it's black
* It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it

First posted: 26 June 2014

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Ten movies which start with a guy leaving prison

I was watching The Yards (2000) the other night—with the remarkably young-looking Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron—having watched London Boulevard (2010)—with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley—just a few days earlier, when I wondered how many movies I could think of that opened with a guy leaving prison.

I thought I'd go for a list of the best ten. See if you agree with this: 

10. High Sierra (1941)  -  Humphrey Bogart

9. London Boulevard (2010)  -  Colin Farrell

8. The Brink's Job (1978)  -  Peter Falk
7. The Getaway (1972)  -  Steve McQueen
6. The Blues Brothers (1980)  -  John Belushi
5. The Italian Job (1969)  -  Michael Caine
4. Carlito's Way (1993)  -  Al Pacino
3. Hudson Hawk (1991)  -  Bruce Willis
2. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)  -  Sterling Hayden
1. Rififi (1955)  -  Jean Servais
Honorable mentions to:

Le Cercle Rouge (1970) - Alain Delon
The Hot Rock (1972) - Robert Redford
The Outfit (1973) - Robert Duvall
Tough Guys (1986) - Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas
Rounders (1988) - Matt Damon
South Central (1992) - Glenn Plummer
Palmetto (1998) - Woody Harrelson
The Yards (2000) - Mark Wahlberg
Reindeer Games (2000) - Ben Affleck
10th & Wolf (2006) - James Marsden
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) - Michael Douglas
Welcome to Collinwood (2002), which is a George Clooney remake of:
I Soliti Ignolti (1958). As usual, the original is the best, by a long way, and deserves a place in the top ten. Probably right after Rififi and Asphalt Jungle, the movies which inspired it in the first place.
I Soliti Ignolti (1958)
Welcome to Collinwood (2002)

And just for heartfelt expression, there's Bird on a Wire (1990) - David Carradine.

First posted: 22 June 2014

Monday, 9 October 2017

Edgar Wright - How to Do Visual Comedy

If you love visual comedy, you gotta love Edgar Wright, one of the few filmmakers who is consistently finding humor through framing, camera movement, editing, goofy sound effects and music. This is an analysis and an appreciation of a director by Tony Zhou.

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First posted: 9 June 2014

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Michael Caine Teaches Acting In Film

In this documentary Michael Caine teaches the art of movie acting to five young actors, who perform scenes from Alfie, Deathtrap and Educating Rita. He talks about how to perform in close-ups and extreme close-ups. He warns about the continuity dangers of smoking cigarettes or fiddling with props. He talks about screen tests, special effects, men who are cavalier about your safety and speaking to someone who is off camera. The movie camera is your best friend and most attentive lover, he says, even though you invariably ignore her (BBC 1987).
"The theatre is an operation with the scalpel, I think movie acting is an operation with the laser."

First posted: 14 June 2014

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Film School Generation

A Timeline of Cinema is a documentary web series which follows the history of cinema over the last century. The series introduces landmark films, influential filmmakers, and critical ideas in film theory from cinema's birth to modern day.

In this episode they discuss the New Hollywood: The Film School Generation.

First posted: 8 June 2014

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Buck Henry

Here's the guy who wrote The Graduate (1967), Get Smart (the original TV series), and Town & Country (2001), among others, chatting about his life. Buck Henry.

First posted: 1 June 2014

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Writer Speaks: Billy Wilder

Here is a one hour conversation with Billy Wilder, courtesy of the Writers Guild Foundation.

First posted: 23 May 2014

Monday, 2 October 2017

The mystery of storytelling

How we tell stories seems to be a mysterious process that millions around the world want to be able to do, but 99.9% effectively fail. Why is it so hard for storyteller and audience to be one? What we communicate can change the lives of the writer and the audience. However, why stories matter and how to tell them better may not be as mysterious as it seems. 

Julian Friedmann is an agent. He has worked with writers for over 40 years. He believes understanding that storytelling is more about the audience than the writer, will result in better storytelling.

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First posted: 23 May 2014

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Golden Age of Hollywood

A Timeline of Cinema is a documentary web series which follows the history of cinema over the last century. The series introduces landmark films, influential filmmakers, and critical ideas in film theory from cinema's birth to modern day.

In this episode they discuss the Golden Age of Hollywood.

First posted: 23 May 2014