Categories
Interesting

Roger Deakins talks to the BSC

Cinematographer Roger Deakins recently sat down for a talk with BSC president John de Borman after a screening of The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

The 50 minute discussion is a fascinating one and covers his career, including:

  • His early years
  • Jean-Pierre Melville
  • The influence of documentary
  • Using different approaches for different films
  • Shooting night-time exteriors
  • Lighting the train scene in The Assassination of Jesse James (2007)
  • Shooting day and night sequences in True Grit (2010)
  • How he used shadows in No Country For Old Men (2007)
  • Differences between American and European cinematographers
  • Switching to digital cameras
  • Preparing for the new Bond movie with Sam Mendes
  • Army of Shadows (1969)
  • His break working for director Michael Radford

Roger Deakins talks with John de Borman. from BSC on Vimeo.

> Roger Deakins at the IMDb and Wikipedia
> Roger Deakins official forum

Categories
Directors Interesting

Steven Spielberg Panel at the DGA

The DGA recently paid tribute to Steven Spielberg with a panel event that included Michael Apted, James Cameron and J.J. Abrams.

Held on June 11th at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles, it was part of their 75th Anniversary ‘Game-Changer’ series of events.

After an introduction from current DGA president Taylor Hackford, Michael Apted hosts a discussion which sees Abrams and Cameron ask Spielberg questions about his films and career.

It isn’t availabe as an embed but if you click on the image below, it will take you to the DGA page where – if you scroll down a bit –  the full video can be found, along with highlights and photos:

Lasting over 90 minutes, it is a fascinating talk and covers:

  • The famous boat scene in Jaws (1975)
  • Abrams coming across the script for Jaws at Spielberg’s house
  • Using motion capture on his upcoming film version of Tin-Tin (2011)
  • Cameron’s love of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and how it influenced him
  • The early visual effects Spielberg employed on Close Encounters and why he re-shot the ending
  • The classic fight scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the fact that Spielberg didn’t get ill whilst filming in Tunisia because he had Sainsbury’s canned food shipped in from the UK.
  • Tips on directing children and how a fantastic preview screening of E.T. (1982) upset actor Henry Thomas
  • How he had to adapt his directorial style for Schindler’s List (1993)
  • The visual effects breakthroughs on Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Being inspired by the films of David Lean and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • How he edited on an Avid for the first time on the upcoming War Horse (2011)
  • How he was being glib when he once advised young directors to wear ‘comfortable shoes’
  • The importance of collaboration and listening to co-workers
  • How he loves shooting in England because the crew there call the director ‘Guv’.
  • JJ Abrams and James Cameron also have nice closing statements about how they have been inspired by him
  • Spielberg also closes by talking about his biggest regret, the film he’s proudest of and the one that most closely resembled his original vision.

[Via /Film]

> DGA
> Steven Spielberg at Wikipedia and the IMDb

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting

20 Things about Terminator 2

It is 20 years since Terminator 2: Judgment Day opened in US cinemas, so to celebrate here are 20 facts about the film you may not know.

1. It is technically an independent film
The first Terminator was made outside the studio system, as it was funded by Hemdale Pictures and distributed by Orion. Although the original film was a box office hit in 1984, the sequel was held up by various legal issues which were only resolved when Carolco stepped in to purchase the rights. Run by Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna, the company had become very successful in the 1980s on the back of the Rambo franchise – First Blood (1982) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1984) – the latter of which Cameron co-wrote. So, although a big budget spectacular, it was independently financed outside the studio system.

2. James Cameron had previously sold his rights to the franchise for $1
Although he created the iconic character and story, Cameron sold his stake in any future sequels for the nominal sum of $1 before the first film was even made. His reasoning was that this was the only way he would be allowed to direct his first feature film. As it established his career, he later said that was the price of a ‘Hollywood education’. In 2009 he told the Toronto Sun :

“I wish I hadn’t sold the rights for one dollar. If I had a little time machine and I could only send back something the length of a tweet, it’d be – ‘Don’t sell.’

Although he was paid a reported $6m to write and direct T2, he has never seen any money from any of the subsequent films, TV shows or merchandising.

3. The film has a strange connection with the Rodney King incident
The biker bar scene where the T800 arrives was filmed just across the road from where LAPD officers assaulted Rodney King in March 1991. The famous amateur video, shot by George Holliday, is reputed to have two bits of footage on it. One is the T2 crew filming shots of Schwarzenegger and Furlong on a motorbike in the San Fernando Valley and the other – shot later – is of several police officers beating the crap out of King.

The resulting trial of the officers and their controversial acquittal triggered the LA riots of April 1992.

The irony is that the villain of T2 is a cop. When writing the script several months before filming, Cameron wrestled with what form the T-1000 would settle on and in Rebecca Keegan’s biography ‘The Futurist’ explained why he chose a police officer:

“The Terminator films are not really about the human race getting killed off by future machines. They’re about us losing touch with our own humanity and becoming machines, which allows us to kill and brutalise each other. Cops think of all non-cops as less than they are, stupid, weak and evil. They dehumanise the people they are sworn to protect and desensitise themselves in order to do that job.”

4. The groundbreaking visuals involved the first version of Photoshop
Dennis Muren of ILM was in charge of the 35 CGI artists who achieved the ground breaking visual effects of T2. Using techniques that had been pioneered in The Abyss (1987) and Willow (1988), the breakthrough came with a new piece of software that was the first version of Photoshop.

John Knoll of ILM and his brother Thomas Knoll (a PhD student at the University of Michigan) had developed the program, and like the chip in the movie which takes Cyberdyne in new directions, it allowed them to create the remarkable liquid effects in the pseudopod sequence in The Abyss (the first film ever to use Photoshop) and the morphing transitions in Ron Howard’s Willow (where humans turn in to animals).

For Terminator 2 Cameron decided to go much further and have a major character which was heavily reliant on the emerging digital tools. ILM created a version of what would become the scene where a silvery T-1000 walks out of the fiery wreckage of a burning truck.

Cameron was impressed and the visual effects budget ended up being $6m (a huge sum at the time), but it raised the bar for the entire industry. Muren and ILM would build on their work by creating the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park (1993) – if you look closely at the scene where Cyberdyne Systems is introduced you can spot an inflatable dinosaur hanging from the ceiling.

5. Billy Idol was the original choice for the T-1000
Hemdale had wanted O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator in the original film and T2 had its own strange moment of casting when Billy Idol was considered for the role of the T-1000. Cameron even featured the rocker in early concept drawings for the character but after he got injured in a motorcycle accident Idol was replaced by Robert Patrick.

6. English censors had major problems with two scenes
The BBFC objected to the scene in the psychiatric hospital where Sarah Connor picks a lock with a paper-clip, as they felt it was too realistic and might encourage people to copy it. They also had issues with the shoot out at Cyberdyne Systems where the T-800 shoots several SWAT team members in the leg as it resembled the old IRA practice where paramilitaries shot victims through their kneecaps.

7. Two sets of twins were used in the film
Two scenes utilised a pair of identical twins to create the illusion of the T-1000 in disguise as another character. Don and Dan Stanton (who had previously been in Good Morning Vietnam) played the hospital security guard who gets caught out at the coffee machine. Linda Hamilton’s twin sister was used as a double in the climactic fight and another (deleted) scene involving a mirror.

8. It was the most expensive film ever made
At a budget of $102m it was, at the time, the most expensive film ever made. But, like the Rambo movies, it was funded by pre-sales to foreign distributors. With Schwarzenegger and Cameron now much more bankable figures at the box office, Carolco not only raised the budget easily but had even made a profit before the film was released. Cameron’s future films Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009) would also become the most expensive made up to that point, as well as the most successful.

9. Cameron also produced Point Break whilst preparing T2
During the preparation for T2, Cameron also served as producer on Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break. Cameron had married Bigelow in 1989 and had also directed her in a music video (‘Reach’ by Martini Ranch), where she played the leader of a cowgirl gang.

Point Break was originally known as Johnny Utah and Bigelow was determined to cast Keanu Reeves in the lead role, which puzzled Cameron as the actor was best known for the Bill and Ted movies. The film would open the week after T2 in July 1991 and was a box office success which established Reeves as an action star.

10. Arnold Schwarzenegger was initially disappointed with his ‘good’ character
Cameron completed the script in a marathon 36 hour writing session in May 1990, just before flying to the Cannes film festival where Carolco officially announced it. When Cameron first told him of the idea that the T-800 would kill anyone, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a little concerned that the Terminator would not actually terminate anyone.

11. Part of Robert Patrick’s anatomy had to be digitally removed from one scene
For the scene where the naked T-1000 arrives and steals the cops clothes, the effects team had to digitally remove a sensitive part of Robert Patrick’s anatomy. But on video versions of the film it partially showed up, prompting Cameron to later joke that he wanted his money back for the “digital willy removal”.

12. Linda Hamilton became deaf in one ear during filming
In the elevator sequence where Sarah Connor escapes from the hospital with John and the T-800, Hamilton went for a bathroom break and forgot to put her ear plugs back in. When Schwarzenegger fired his shotgun at the T-1000 above right by her, it resulted in serious hearing loss in one ear.

13. Practical make-up was blended with the CGI
The visual effects by ILM were skilfully blended with practical special effects and make-up from Stan Winston’s studio which involved the deteriorating face and body of the T-800 and the changes in the T-1000 as it got shot and physically distorted.

14. The sounds of the film were a lot cheaper than the visuals
The sound of the T1000 morphing was achieved in a number of cost-effective ways. When it moves through the bars at the psychiatric hospital, we are hearing the sound of a can of dog food being emptied. Another foley effect was achieved by dipping a condom-covered microphone into a mixture of flour and water and then shooting compressed air into it.

15. The freeway chase involved some highly dangerous stunt work
Cameron shot the helicopter chase on the freeway himself as his Steadicam operator felt it was too risky. If you look closely you’ll see an actual chopper fly under the freeway overpass and in a later shot just clear a bridge. Cameron implicitly trusted his helicopter pilot, but also admitted that a stunt involving the T800 jumping on to a moving truck was “really dangerous” and that he wouldn’t have done it in later films.

16. The ending was changed late on
The original ending saw an older Sarah Connor look at her son John playing with his daughter in a peaceful future scenario but was cut after a test screening at Skywalker Ranch. Carolco felt it would ruin any future sequels and Cameron relented with a rewrite just one month before the film’s release, using road footage from the scene just before the attack on Cyberdyne Systems. The first ending can be seen in later special editions of the film.

17. It was the highest grossing film of 1991 and won 4 Oscars
When it eventually did open on July 4th weekend in 1991, it opened in 2,274 cinemas and half of all tickets sold in America were for T2. It earned $54 million during that weekend and would eventually gross $204 million in the United States and $519 million worldwide. 

At the 64th Academy Awards it won Oscars for Best Sound, Best Make Up, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing. It was nominated for Best Cinematography and Film Editing.

18. Despite the huge success of T2 Carolco later went bankrupt
Although Carolco made had major hits such as T2 and Basic Instinct (1992), the company played a risky game in the early 1990s. As their budgets grew, they needed to have hit after hit to sustain their growing costs. Whilst major studios had the protection of a larger corporate owner, Carolco eventually came to grief with the disastrous releases of Cutthroat Island and Showgirls in 1995. Both were costly flops and the company filed for bankruptcy, with most of their assets being purchased for $50 million. Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna later created C2 Pictures which produced Terminator 3 in 2003.

19. It got a timely DVD release in August 1997
T2 has been released by several different companies on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray. In 1993, the Special Edition cut of the film was released to Laserdisc and VHS, containing 17 minutes of never-before-seen footage including a dream sequence featuring Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, a scene where John Connor prevents Sarah from destroying the Terminator and the original epilogue of an elderly Sarah in the future.

The subsequent “Ultimate Edition” and “Extreme Edition” releases also contain this version of the film. When it was first released on DVD as a single disc in August 1997 – the same month as the original ‘judgement day’ in the film.

20. Skynet went live around the same time as Google
In the film we learn that Skynet goes live on August 29th 1997, whilst in real life the domain name for Google was registered on September 15th 1997. Coincidence? 😉

> Buy Rebecca Keegan’s biography of James Cameron The Futurist at Amazon UK
> Find out more about T2 at Wikipedia and IMDb

Categories
Interesting

Letters to Projectionists

Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Michael Bay form an unlikely quartet of directors who have written letters to cinema projectionists.

This year has seen some interesting correspondence surface between filmmakers and projectionists about showing their film correctly.

Recently Glenn Kenny published a letter given to him by former Time critic Jay Cocks found a letter Stanley Kubrick wrote in December 1975 about the correct way to screen Barry Lyndon:

That also triggered a debate about the aspect ratio of the recent Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Recently, Ray Pride published a 2001 memo David Lynch wrote to cinema ‘projection departments’ in order to remind them of the aspect ratio, sound (‘3db hotter than normal’) and slight tweaks to the ‘headroom’ for screenings of Mulholland Drive.

(By the way, Lynch has also announced plans to open a themed nightclub in Paris, inspired by the film).

Last month the San Diego Reader reported that Terrence Malick penned a ‘fraternal salute’ to projectionists showing his latest film The Tree of Life in which he asked them to:

  1. Project the film in its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
  2. The correct fader setting on Dolby and DTS systems is 7. Malick asks that faders be kept at 7.5 or even 7.7, system permitting.
  3. The film has no opening credits, and the booth operator is asked to make sure the “lights down cue is well before the opening frame of reel 1.”
  4. With all the recent talk of “darkier, lousier” images, operators are asked that lamps are at “proper standard (5400 Kelvin)” and that the “foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.”

At the other end of the directing spectrum, the Facebook page of American Cinematographer has posted a letter from Michael Bay in which he outlines to projectionists how to screen the ‘Platinum 6’ version of Transformers: Dark of the Moon for the ‘ultimate 3D experience’.

Interestingly Paramount, who are releasing the film, are the only major studio not to embrace the controversial pay-per-view plans which caused such a stink with theater owners back at Cinema Con in April.

After some high profile disappointments (3D versions of Pirates of the Carribbean 4 and Green Lantern grossed less than expected) this tentpole release will be keenly watched by Hollywood.

One recent complaint has been that US cinemas are not changing the 3D lenses for 2D screenings, which dims the brightness levels on the latter.

The letters are also timely as projection in multiplexes is often poor, with multiplex chains skimping on bulbs and often showing a movie with the incorrect aspect ratio.

With the advent of digital projection systems these problems were supposed to be addressed, but it seems that some cinemas are still cutting corners and shortchanging audiences and filmmakers.

This video demonstrates how modern cinema projectors work:

Back in 1998, Paul Thomas Anderson spoke to Mike Figgis about the old saying that the ‘projectionist has final cut’ and how he witnessed a bad Fuji print of Boogie Nights at an LA cinema (relevant part starts at 6.24):

To some this may seem like technical trivia but if cinema is to survive in an era of digital downloads and shortening windows, then projection standards must remain high.

> More on Movie Projectors at Wikipedia
> Wired on how modern 3D projectors work
> Guardian article on the life and work of a cinema projectionist
> How Stuff Works on movie projectors

Categories
Interesting Technology

Everything is a Remix, Part 3

The third video essay by Kirby Ferguson in his Everything is a Remix series explores how innovations truly happen.

Titled The Elements of Creativity, it traces the evolution of the home computer and features, amongst other things, Thomas Edison, Xerox, Apple and Synecdoche, New York.

For his previous videos, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

> Kirby Ferguson at Vimeo
> Donate to the EIAR project
> Buy the music featured in this video

Categories
Interesting Thoughts

Interesting Filmmaker Websites

In the year 2011 how do filmmakers use the web for more than just promotion?

I often wonder how famous directors from the past would used online tools in either the making or the promotion of their films.

Maybe Orson Welles would have put out his 1938 interview with H.G. Wells as a podcast.

Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock would have filmed his classic trailers especially for YouTube.

One can only guess what Stanley Kubrick would have made of the more developed online world we now live in.

Like many celebrities, over the last couple of years various actors, directors and producers have embraced Twitter as a self-promotional tool which use to engage fans and post updates.

But what about those filmmakers whose online activities go a little deeper?

Here are my pick of the most interesting.

DAVID LYNCH (www.davidlynch.com)

I can’t remember when I first heard that David Lynch had a website, but it was a few years ago and when it turned out he was selling ringtones and doing weather reports, I had to check it out. Designed and maintained by the indexsy seo agency, it is now mostly dedicated to his music and you can also see the live Duran Duran concert he recently directed, as well as various music tracks from his films and TV shows. He also occasionally does cooking videos.

EDGAR WRIGHT (www.edgarwrighthere.com)

Ever since securing the ingenious URL www.romzom.com (sadly no longer active) for his breakout film Shaun of the Dead (2004), Edgar Wright has been fairly active online with behind-the-scenes video podcasts for Hot Fuzz (2007) and his own website which seemed to start in 2009. He regularly posts articles, videos and a lot of photos (at one point he even did a daily photo thing), but he also engages with people in the comments section, puts up videos he’s directed (be they music promos or early experiments in editing) and generally has a bit of a laugh whilst doing so. He’s also pretty active on Twitter.

ROGER DEAKINS (www.deakinsonline.com/forum2)

What does one of the world’s greatest cinematographers do when he’s not shooting films like True Grit (2010), No Country for Old Men (2007) or The Shawshank Redemption (1994)? It turns out he runs a pretty active forum on his own website, where he answers questions from readers all around the world. Whether you have a query about cameras, lighting, digital intermediates, whether 4K really matters or the merits of anamorphic over super 35mm, Roger is there. It is more for the technically minded film fan, but given his amazing back catalogue of films, there are some illuminating stories on how scenes were shot and put together. An incredible resource, it’s a bit like having Paul McCartney give out song writing tips at your local music venue.

MICHAEL BAY (www.shootfortheedit.com)

Although his site probably won’t be getting bookmarked by Sight and Sound readers any time soon, Bay is one of the few A-list Hollywood directors to have his own website and forum, where he posts quite candidly about his films. Whatever you think of his work, his official forum provides some interesting insights into the blockbuster process. Just a month away from Transformers: Dark of the Moon being released, we learn: he is curious to hear about local advertising from readers around the world (to keep Paramount’s marketing folks on their toes?), his displeasure with a ‘cheap ass trailer company’ who apparently stole Transformer sounds to use in a Green Lantern TV spot, the fact that Mercedes wouldn’t allow him to make their cars into a bad Decepticon and that he cut out a stunt because a building “wanted a $40,000 location fee”. Oh, and the Autobot Twins are not back in Transformers 3.

JOHN AUGUST (www.johnaugust.com)

The screenwriter of Go (1999), Big Fish (2003) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) runs a site he describes as ‘a ton of useful information about screenwriting’ and he’s not wrong with that description. When you think of screenwriting gurus who charge hefty amounts for books and seminars, it’s worth noting that a successful, working screenwriter is giving away lots of useful advice for free on a regular basis. More than that, he takes time to answer reader comments and also blogs with a lot of insight about storytelling and the wider industry. It is particularly useful for those little practical details which confront the working screenwriter, be it formatting, genres or pitching. He has also created an iPad app for reading screenplays (FDX Reader) and a web browser extension (Less IMDb) that makes the movie reference site easier to navigate.

DON MURPHY (www.donmurphy.net)

The producer of Natural Born Killers (1994), Apt Pupil (1998), From Hell (2001) and the Transformers franchise runs what appears to be a fairly old school site. But look deeper and you find some hidden treasures, such as a message board, genuinely interesting links, and some fantastic Hollywood stories. There are sections titled good guys (Michael De Luca), bad guys (Peter Biskind), fun with lawsuits (eye opening to say the least) and an archive of related stuff going back to 1997. You can also make him happy by sending him the front page of the LA Times from June 18th 1952.

TED HOPE (http://blogs.indiewire.com/tedhope)

The successful US indie producer (American Splendor, In The Bedroom) has been an active blogger and Twitter user at a time of great turmoil and change for the independent sector. Part of that is down to the challenges facing filmmakers and distributors in a world where old economic models have been disrupted by new technologies and the financial crisis. His previous blog has now moved over to IndieWire and is a good place to visit to find out what the future of the industry might look like, as the ideas and debates he encourages may filter through to the mainstream.

If you have any other examples of filmmakers using the web in interesting ways, then leave them below.

> Movie Directors, Writers and Actors on Twitter at /Film
> Filmmaker Magazine
> The Daily MUBi on Twitter

Categories
Interesting

Christopher Nolan and David Fincher on Terrence Malick

Fox Searchlight have released a video of directors Christopher Nolan and David Fincher talking about Terrence Malick.

Used as a way to promote The Tree of Life ahead of its wider US release on July 8th, it makes for interesting viewing.

Nolan has often cited Malick as one of his favourite directors, whilst Fincher has listed Days of Heaven (1978) amongst his all-time favourite films.

It is a smart way of marketing The Tree of Life to audiences concerned by the unusual nature of the film and perhaps says to geekier audiences that there is more to cinema than just comic book adaptations and Hollywood conventions.

The Tree of Life is in limited release in the US and opens wide on July 8th, the same day as the UK release.

> Watch the featurette in HD at Apple
> Official site
> Malick spotted in Cannes
> Reviews of The Tree of Life at Metacritic (currently has a score of 87)
> Find out more about Terrence Malick at Wikipedia and MUBi

Categories
Behind The Scenes Images Interesting

The Dark Knight Rises in London

Various photos of the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight Rises shooting in London have recently surfaced online.

Chris Nolan has a history of directing films in the capital city.

Not only was his micro-budget debut Following (1998) shot all over London (with key locations in Southwark, Covent Garden and Highgate) but Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) utilised London locations for various scenes.

A wonderfully prescient shot in Following even features a Batman logo – who could have predicted that Nolan would asked to reboot the franchise a few years later?

Earlier this month the third film in the Batman series The Dark Knight Rises (2012) began filming at the Farmiloe building in Clerkenwell.

The location was used as the Gotham City Police Station in the last two films and for sequences in Inception.

The building is adjacent to a public street, so some people were able to take photos and videos of cars, trucks, cranes and lights, although it seemed the filming took place behind closed doors.

But Craig Grobler of The Establishing Shot took an interesting set of photos at the location (no real spoilers) and caught glimpses of Nolan, Wally Pfister and a bunch of extras dressed as the Gotham SWAT team.

Check out the full gallery here:

There is also some video here:

In addition, filming has also taken place in Croydon and other locations around the UK before heading to the United States.

The Dark Knight Rises is scheduled to open in July 2012

> The Dark Knight Rises at the IMDb
> Batman on Film
> The Establishing Shot

Categories
Interesting Random

NASA Endeavor Split Screen Mashup

A NASA video of Space Shuttle Endeavor‘s last launch has been re-cut so we can see all four camera angles simultaneously.

The original video was shot on multiple cameras fixed to the solid rocket boosters, but a Vimeo user (Northern Lights) has re-arranged the footage so we can see it side-by-side.

Set to the music of Ulf Lohmann from the Because Before album, the end result is pretty spectacular.

(For the full effect, be sure expand the video to full screen)

> Original NASA video of Endeavor
> Northern Lights on Vimeo
> Space Shuttle Endeavor at Wikipedia

Categories
Interesting

Roger Deakins on his Favourite Scenes

When one of the world’s great cinematographers discusses some of his favourite scenes it makes for interesting viewing.

In October 2009 Roger Deakins spoke to Melissa Block of NPR about his work on The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and No Country for Old Men (2007).

First, they discuss a sequence from Frank Darabont’s drama, where Andy Dusfresne (Tim Robbins) gets in to a row with prison guard Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) on the roof of Shawshank Prison.

They discuss the use of a crane shot, how safety cables were removed digitally and the segue to his favourite shot of the film, where Morgan Freeman’s voiceover ‘syncs’ with the movement of the camera. (Click here to see the video)

Then they talk about the scene from the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men where Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) examines a hotel room where Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is hiding in the dark.

A tense sequence, in which light and angles play a key role, they discuss specific shots and how certain decisions were made on the set.

For anyone interested in the cinematic image or how DPs visually construct a scene, it is essential viewing.

Be sure to check out Roger Deakins’ official forum where he regularly answers questions from readers.

> Original NPR story and a longer audio interview with Deakins
> Roger Deakins at the IMDb and Wikipedia
> Official forum

Categories
Interesting

John Carpenter on They Live

One of the most interesting films of the late 1980s was John Carpenter’s They Live.

After his amazing run of genre films in the late 70s and early 80s (from Assault On Precinct 13 until Escape From New York), his efforts at major studios seemd to lack the intensity of his early career.

But in 1988 he returned with a sci-fi horror film that was a chilling and darkly comic response to the dark side of Regan’s America.

The story of a wandering man (Roddy Piper) who discovers sinister forces secretly shaping society through advertising, it has a new relevance in these recessionary times.

Part of what makes the film so effective is that it wraps a subversive message within the form of an entertaining sci-fi thriller.

In fact, I would suggest that it is one of the most quietly subversive films ever released by a major studio and was possibly a big influence on The Matrix (1999).

Carpenter recently recorded this video introduction for the film for an upcoming screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.

The cinema recently achieved internet fame by creating the greatest cinema advert ever and artist Shepard Fairey (an admirer of the movie) has even created a special Mondo poster for the screening.

> Buy They Live at Amazon UK
> They Live at IMDb
> John Carpenter and Shepard Fairey at Wikipedia
> More on the Alamo Drafthouse screening of They Live
> Shephard Fairey on They Live

Categories
Interesting

Laurel and Hardy Home Movie

The UCLA Film and Television Archive have posted a short home movie of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy from 1956.

Filmed at the home of Stan Laurel’s daughter, Lois in Reseda, California, it features Stan Laurel and his wife Ida, Oliver Hardy and his wife Virginia, Andy Wade (who shot the film), Stan’s daughter Lois, her husband Rand Brooks and their children Randy and Laurie.

[Via Open Culture]

> More on Laurel and Hardy at Wikipedia
> UCLA Film and Television Archive

Categories
Documentaries Interesting TV

Ayrton Senna 1995 BBC Documentary

UK viewers can now watch the 1995 BBC documentary about Ayrton Senna online.

With Asif Kapadia’s new documentary about the Brazilian F1 driver at cinemas, it makes for a nice companion piece.

Presented by Steve Rider, the 50 minute programme features plenty of archive footage from Senna’s life and interviews with Frank Williams, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, and Nigel Mansell.

Watch it in full here:

1995: Ayrton Senna – BBC Documentary. from EffOne Archives on Vimeo.

> Find out more about Ayrton Senna at Wikipedia
> Official website for the new Senna documentary

Categories
Interesting News video

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at D9

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently spoke at the D9 technology conference about various issues surrounding the home entertainment site.

Since it launched in 1999, the subscription service has grown into a juggernaut, with over 23 million current users.

The subscriber growth over the last two years has been staggering, with a 63 percent rise since 2009.

Hastings spoke to Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal about what consumers want, how they complement the new release business, whether cable consumers are ‘cutting the chord‘, international expansion, original programming (such as David Fincher’s US remake of House of Cards), the Long Tail success of Firefly on Netflix, devices, and his concerns for the future.

Here are some video highlights:

> Find out more about Netflix at Wikipedia
> Infographic showing the contrasting fortunes of Netflix and Blockbuster

Categories
Interesting

Tom Hanks Speech at Yale 2011

Tom Hanks recently gave the traditional Class Day speech at Yale University for the graduates of 2011.

Check out the full video below where he mentions a variety of subjects, including: the end of the world, electronic devices (he has a BlackBerry), Twitter, Rebecca Black, the state of the world, 9/11, Bosom Buddies, the vanquishing of boredom and the perpetual distractions of modern life.

A quick question for Yale graduates: what’s up with the hats?

> Tom Hanks at Wikipedia
> Yale Commencement 2011

Categories
Interesting

From UNIX to Facebook

What connects Jurassic Park and The Social Network?

Actor Joseph Mazzello played the young boy in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster and Dustin Moskovitz in David Fincher’s 2010 drama.

But for computer geeks, what this really shows is how we have come from UNIX:

…to status updates on Facebook:

> Jurassic Park and The Social Network at the IMDb
> UNIX and Facebook at Wikipedia

Categories
Interesting

Matthew Modine’s Full Metal Jacket Diary iPad App

The Kickstarter project to turn Matthew Modine‘s Full Metal Jacket Diary in to an iPad app is tantalisingly close to its funding target.

During the making of Full Metal Jacket (1987), Modine was allowed to keep a detailed diary and director Stanley Kubrick even granted him rare permission to take photos on set.

The end result was a limited edition book of about 20,000 copies but producer Adam Rackoff and Modine came up with the idea of an iPad app based on the existing materials.

It will use rescanned images, along with audio of Modine reading his own diary entries and feature previously unseen content.

Last month Rackoff and Modine created a Kickstarter page to raise the $20,000 needed to complete this project.

As I write this they currently have 252 backers who have pledged $17,889 of the $20,000 goal.

Potential donors can pledge from $1 up to $10,000.

The deadline is Friday 3rd June.

Previous film releated Kickstarter projects have included a Robocop statue in Detroit, and the US indie film I Am I.

> Kickstarter page for Matthew Modine’s “Full Metal Jacket Diary” iPad App
> Full Metal Jacket at Wikipedia
> Stanley Kubrick at MUBi

Categories
Interesting

VE Day in Colour

Colour footage from the London Screen Archive shows the victory celebrations of 1945.

Shot on 16mm shot by Lieutenant Sidney Sasson of the US Army Signal Corps (Army Pictorial Service), it shows the victory celebrations in London on VE Day (May 8th 1945) and VJ Day (August 15th 1945).

Among the locations featured are 33 Davies Street, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, and Trafalgar Square.

Look out for the billboard for the James Cagney film Blood on the Sun (1945), which I would guess was showing at the Empire Leicester Square.

> VE Day and VJ Day at Wikipedia
> Imperial War Museum

Categories
Interesting

Mosfilm on YouTube

Famous Russian studio Mosfilm have posted some of its most notable films on their own YouTube channel.

Their output includes pioneering works by Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein and they aim to post five films a week (many have English subtitles).

You can check out Andrey Rublev (1966) here:

And Solaris (1972) here:

> Mosfilm on YouTube
> More on Mosfilm at Wikipedia

Categories
Interesting

Business Week: The Movie

Business Week magazine have posted a short timelapse video showing how a recent issue was put together.

> Business Week
> Follow @Bizweekgraphics on Twitter

Categories
Interesting

Wisdom

Photographer and filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman has a new project which collects the wisdom of 50 thinkers and doers.

His latest book is called Wisdom: The Greatest Gift One Generation Can Give to Another and it incorporates the ideas from key figures over the age of 65.

It is accompanied by video interviews which have been edited down to this trailer, which features Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Judi Dench:

In this making of video, Zuckerman describes how he filmed the interviews:

[Via Brain Pickings]

> Official Wisdom site
> Andrew Zuckerman’s official site and Vimeo channel
>Buy Wisdom from Amazon UK (or Amazon US)

Categories
Behind The Scenes In Production Interesting

I Am I and Kickstarter

I Am I is one of many independent film projects that have used the website Kickstarter to raise funds.

Launched in April 2009, the New York based site allows people to fund creative projects from a wide range of areas, including independent films, music and technology.

Bypassing traditional models of investment (like movie studios or super-rich uncles looking for a tax write off) it allows a people to announce projects and then set a funding target by a certain deadline.

Amongst the movie-related projects that have successfully raised funds using Kickstarter include:

I Am I had a funding goal of $100,000 and managed to meet it on January 8th, raising $111,965.

But how do film projects like this stick out on a site like Kickstarter?

The filmmakers came up with quite an inventive video to pitch their film:

You can keep tabs on the production at their official site and via Jocelyn Towne on Twitter.

Other film projects currently raising funds via Kickstarter are:

> I Am I
> Kickstarter

Categories
Interesting

Christine Vachon on The State of Cinema

Veteran indie producer Christine Vachon recently gave a speech about ‘the state of cinema’ at the San Francisco Film Festival.

Films she’s produced include Happiness (1998), Boys Don’t Cry (2000), Far From Heaven (2002) and I’m Not There (2007).

You can watch the 20 minute talk (followed by an extended Q&A session) here in full:



Video streaming by Ustream

Some key quotes cover the changes in the film business:

“I’ve seen independent film die and be re-born at least three or four times. When it does, it reminds me how terrified we are of change – how terrified the film business is of change.”

On VOD and the theatrical experience:

“The state of cinema is not necessarily taking place in cinema’

The rise of quality TV (e.g. HBO, AMC) and how younger filmmakers want to work there:

“[Now] TV is so much less risk averse than cinema”

On the quality of shows involving women in the pay TV realm:

“There are more female-centric stories now than ever before on cable television –“Weeds”, “The United States Of Tara”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Mildred Pierce”, “The C Word”. That’s unheard of.”

The dangers of a head-in-the-sand attitude:

“I think nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion in the world.”

Her Twitter stream provided an interesting snapshot of reactions:

Some of the reactions surprised me in their negativity, but it seems to me this was a working producer just being honest about the realities of her world in 2011.

To her credit, Vachon retweeted some of more barbed comments towards her:

She later said:

“anyway — not sure I’ll be invited back to San Francisco!”

Negative comments can always appear louder online (a majority at the event may have agreed with her, but chose not to tweet) but it seemed some of her audience just don’t get what is happening to the wider film business and the kind of pressures that are affecting the mainstream and indie worlds.

It is fine (and laudable) to be a champion of the art of cinema, but it seems like there is a subset of people who secretly despise new technology like digital cameras and projection, social networks and Netflix under the banner of defending ‘film culture’.

At one point an audience member seemed bewildered why a famous San Francisco cinema like the Castro is dark on certain nights in the week. It is presumably because people aren’t actually going.

Why? Maybe the choice and cost of entertainment in the home makes people think twice about a trip to an arthouse cinema that can only show a limited selection of films at one time.

(An independent cinema like the Prince Charles in London can survive by being smart and connected with its audience. Mixing quality commercial fare with arthouse films, they are even showing Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1982) in its entirety (over 9 hours) on June 18th.)

Whilst I’m a big believer in the theatrical experience and a keen advocate for quality film, what are some people proposing here?

Can we really lobby government or public bodies to keep art house cinemas alive? With a financial crisis and recession, I would guess it isn’t exactly top of a politician’s to-do list.

Vachon hits the nail on the head when she says that keeping arthouses alive isn’t the discussion she wants to be having and instead thinks the vital question is:

“How do we engage an independent filmmaking community with its audience?”

There is no easy answer to this question, which presumably involves a mixture of different platforms, quality films and pioneering release strategies.

With the recent release window controversy, it is something that also applies to the multiplexes, but it still remains the right question to be asking.

> Christine Vachon at Twitter, IMDb and Wikipedia
> San Francisco Film Festival 2011
> Reports of the event at the Examiner and IndieWire

Categories
Amusing Interesting

Inception Spelling

Have you noticed what the first letters of each of the main character’s names in Inception spell?

Yes, they spell the word ‘dreams’.

Clever, huh?

(Apparently this has been floating around the web for a while but I only just noticed it at the IMDb trivia section).

> Inception review, infographic and cool real-time video
> More on Inception at Wikipedia
> Click a red button for the Inception bong sound

Categories
Interesting

Roger Ebert at TED 2011

TED have posted the video of Roger Ebert’s talk from March, where the film critic describes the attempts to remake his voice.

After losing his lower jaw (and nearly his life) to cancer in 2006, he also lost the ability to speak but has since managed to communicate with readers online and even had a Scottish company digitally reconstruct his voice from hours of his television shows.

With the help of the voice program on his Mac, his wife Chaz and friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, Ebert presents a powerful story, but also makes some profound points about the impact of technology and the Internet.

Among other things, we learn that:

> TED 2011
> Roger Ebert’s blog and Twitter
> Esquire profile from 2010

Categories
Interesting

FDR Home Movie

A colour home movie featuring footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has surfaced online.

Shot by his son-in-law John Boettiger, who worked for the Motion Picture Association of America, it features some revealing images of the 32nd President of the United States, including a boating trip and his Third Inauguration in 1941.

The quality is strikingly good and gives a vivid glimpse of one the key political figures of the 20th century.

[Via Open Culture]

> Watch a higher res version at Archive.org
> Find out more about FDR at Wikipedia
> FDR Library and Museum

Categories
Interesting

Herzog and McCarthy on NPR

The NPR radio show Science Friday recently brought together director Werner Herzog and novelist Cormac McCarthy.

Hosted by Ira Flatow, the discussion is themed on the connection between art and science and also includes physicist Lawrence Krauss.

Aside from being a great meeting of minds, is it a genuinely fascinating hour long talk that also takes in Herzog’s latest documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, his 3D exploration of the ancient Chauvet cave in France.

There are some classic Herzog moments during the discussion in which he says the end of humanity will happen ‘quite soon’ (well, a thousand years) and that even if the human race could escape to the nearest star, there would be ‘madness and murder’ en route.

We also get a classic bit where the German auteur reads a passage from McCarthy’s novel All The Pretty Horses.

> Download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (it is Hour 2 on the April 8th episode)
> Science Friday
> Find out more about Werner Herzog, Cormac McCarthy and Lawrence Krauss at Wikipedia
> Our review of Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Categories
Interesting Posters

Trajan: The Movie Font

Why do so many movie posters use the Trajan font?

Designed by Carol Twombly for Adobe in 1989, the old style serif typface quickly found its way into pop culture.

It is was used on the bestselling novels of John Grisham, became the official font of various universities around the world (including Bologna, Kansas and Lausanne) and the Assassin’s Creed game franchise.

Politicians love it too, with figures such as Chris Dodd, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and even Barack Obama using it in past campaigns.

But it became hugely popular with movie poster designers, as this video by Kirby Ferguson demonstrates.Posters which feature the font include Titanic (1997), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) and more recently This Is It (2009).

But check out this slideshow to get some idea of how ubiquitous it has become:

The easy answer as to its success is that it has been used in popular movies, but I think there is a deeper reason as to why it became so popular.

Maybe the old-style classiness projects an image of authority, which might also explain why politicians love it.

This is actually important for upscale mainstream films such as Titanic which are looking for that veneer of class to distinguish themselves from rival fare at the multiplex.

In a sense the font has come to represent a hybrid of commercial success and cultural importance, even if the films using it have neither.

Maybe after the phenomenon of Titanic, it spread like a virus amongst movie marketing departments because they wanted to emulate that elusive holy grail of box office dollars and worthy prestige.

> Find out more about Trajan at Wikipedia
> IMP Awards
> Movie Poster Addict

Categories
Documentaries Interesting

First Orbit

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin‘s pioneering mission into space and First Orbit is a new documentary that gives audiences a view of what the cosmonaut would have seen.

Directed by Chris Riley, it uses footage shot aboard the International Space Station the film mixes some extraordinary images with Gagarin’s historic voice recordings aboard the Vostok 1 along with an original score by composer Philip Sheppard.

You can watch it in full here:

There is also a short making of film here:

> First Orbit
> More on Yuri Gagarin at Wikipedia
> Listen to Philip Shepard’s songs for the film

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting music

Zack Hemsey Profile

The Soundworks Collection have done a profile of composer Zack Hemsey.

Most people will have heard his track Mind Heist, which was used in the third and final trailer for Inception (2010).

You might also recognise his music from the trailers for Robin Hood (2010) and The Town (2010).

A New Jersey native, he currently resides in Lake Carmel where he has a home studio.

He describes how he got into music; his influences; and composing, recording and mixing on Logic Pro.

An independent artist, his discography and credits include the following:

Studio albums

Singles

Studio albums (under Nine Leaves)

  • Nine Leaves (2006)
  • Peace In Death (2008)

Film trailers

  • “Redemption” from The Town (2010)
  • “Mind Heist”, “Simple Idea” and “True Potential” from Inception (2010)
  • “Character” from Robin Hood (2010)
  • “Changeling” from Trust (2011)

Television

  • “Sanguine Love” and “Second Chances” from CSI: NY (2009-2010)
  • “Cinderella” from The Cleaner (2009)
  • “Cougar Island” from Hunter Hunted (2007)

Commercials

  • “Moonlight” Chrysler 300
  • “Time Lapse” Taylormade
  • “Count The Ways” Firestone
  • “Sword” Smirnoff
  • “Sweater” Eucerin
  • “Queen Latifah” Jenny Craig
  • “Dizzy” US Cellular
  • “Touche” / “Blink” Kit Kat
  • “Inspired Design” Callaway
  • “Water Balloon” / “Vacation” Enablex
  • “Last Cigarette” Quitters
  • “Resolution” Special K
  • “Train” iShares
  • “Fire Nation Unleashed” Avatar
  • “Parking” GM

> Zack Hemsey’s official site (the album section is here)
> Hemsey’s offficial YouTube channel & Blog
> Soundworks Collection

Categories
Interesting Viral Video

A History of the World in 100 Seconds

Data from Wikipedia has been used in a video to visualise global historical events over 2,500 years.

It begins in 499 BC, when people in Europe started to record events, then goes to Asia and after 1492 the Americas light up as the image of the modern world begins to form.

Gareth Lloyd and Tom Martin used geotagged articles from Wikipedia with references to 14,238 historical events and this is the video:

On his Vimeo page Gareth writes:

Many wikipedia articles have coordinates. Many have references to historic events. Me (@godawful) and Tom Martin (@heychinaski) cross referenced the two to create a dynamic visualization of Wikipedia’s view of world history. Watch as empires fall, wars break out and continents are discovered.

This won “Best Visualization” at Matt Patterson’s History Hackday in January, 2011. To make it, we parsed an xml dump of all wikipedia articles (30Gb) and pulled out 424,000 articles with coordinates and 35,000 references to events. Cross referencing these produced 15,500 events with locations. Then we mapped them over time.

> Gareth Lloyd at Vimeo
> More information on the data
> The History of the World at Wikipedia

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting

Joe Alves on Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Production designer Joe Alves describes how he found the iconic locations for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978).

He had already worked with director Steven Spielberg on films such as The Sugarland Express (1974) and Jaws (1975), but Close Encounters involved more elaborate sets and visual effects.

In this interview with Herve Attia he discusses:

  • Finding the houses for the Neary and Guiler families
  • The enormous set built for various sequences including the climax
  • How his musical background influenced the famous colour scoreboard
  • His thoughts on the different versions
  • How the light of the spaceship was created

> More on Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Wikipedia
> Herve Attia’s channel on YouTube

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting Technology

A Brief History of the Steadicam

When Garrett Brown invented the Steadicam in the 1970s it had an immediate impact on how films were shot.

Before his invention if filmmakers wanted tracking shots (i.e. ones where the camera moves), they were limited to using a dolly track or hand-held work.

After shooting a demo reel with a prototype rig, he caught the attention of Hollywood and it led to work on such films as Bound for Glory (1976), Rocky (1976) and The Shining (1980) as well as an Academy Award of Merit.

Last year at the EG conference Brown gave a talk where he described how he came up with the idea for his revolutionary camera rig and its subsequent application in movies, sports broadcasting and industry.

Among the things worth noting are:

  • His father Rodney G Brown invented the ‘hot melt’ glue used in paperback books
  • He was once a folk singer
  • Kubrick’s desire for multiple takes on The Shining helped him become a better operator
  • He teaches Steadicam operators to have a calm demeanor
  • Working on Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) helped inspire the SkyCam
  • His work on beer commercials helped fund the SkyCam
  • The original demo for the Steadicam prototype was filmed on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which directly inspired the famous scene in Rocky

> Garrett Brown
> How Steadicams Work at HowStuffWorks
> Steadicam Forum
> Garrett Brown interview with ICG Magazine

Categories
Interesting

Vanity Fair on All The President’s Men

Vanity Fair’s recent in-depth piece on the making of All The President’s Men (1976) has some fascinating pieces of information about the classic political drama.

Written by Michael Feeney Callan, the author of a forthcoming Robert Redford biography, it reveals the following:

  • When Robert Redford first met Bob Woodward in Washington, D.C., he also bumped into Bobby Kennedy‘s widow Ethel Kennedy (“She had seen The Candidate and, responding to the Bill McKay role—a fictional Senate candidate from California—told Redford she was no fan of it”)
  • Bob Woodward admitted Redford’s involvement in a film project influenced his book with Carl Bernstein (“…we’d been influenced by Redford in the way we compiled it. It was he who suggested we make it about the investigation, and not about the dirty-tricks campaign”)
  • Screenwriter William Goldman only got involved in the project by accident after a social meeting with Redford and a mix up at publisher Simon and Schuster (“I didn’t mean to involve him in the project, and I wasn’t commissioning him as the screenwriter.”)
  • Redford reveals that Goldman’s script – for which he won an Oscar – was heavily rewritten by himself and Pakula as they only ended up using one-tenth of his work (“Alan hated the script, and we immediately made arrangements to re-write it ourselves, since we learned Bill was tied up already, writing Marathon Man for John Schlesinger. I was furious, but to what purpose?”)
  • Redford turned down roles in Barry Lyndon (1975) and Superman (1978) so he could make the film.
  • Warner Bros chairman Ted Ashley had to dissuade Redford from his initial plan not to star in the film and shoot it in black and white (“Ted didn’t beat around the bush,” Redford recalls. “He told us he needed to sell my name on the marquee, so the movie he was funding must have me in it.”)
  • Al Pacino was Redford’s first choice for the Bernstein role (“But then I chewed it over,” Redford adds, “and for some reason Dustin Hoffman seemed more like Carl in my mind’s eye, so I called Dustin and asked him if he was interested. That was a very short phone call.”)
  • Jason Robards was offered the role of Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, even though he had recently suffered terrible facial injuries in a car crash.
  • Director Pakula and DP Gordon Willis were careful in creating the visual design of the film (“Gordon had a very novel approach to his lenses based on the notion that a good cinematographer always surprises the eye, and we were all of one mind that, since the information to be related was often complex, even tedious, we needed a very stylized look and, of course, dynamic performances.”)
  • Redford felt there was a harder side to Woodward than he let on (“Carl was the fuzzy, warm guy who tap-danced with his ego, while Bob was the hard man who went for the throat. …He has this thing about fires. He’s always poking at fires, always burning stuff”)
  • Redford felt Hoffman and Bernstein were very similar (“Carl and Dustin had a lot in common. Both were radicals, uptight and loose at the same time. And, like Carl, Dustin had a very, very healthy ego”)
  • Pakula was influenced by Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock (“I grew up on [Elia] Kazan, really loved him. On the Waterfront was the most impressive movie from a performance point of view that I’d ever seen. Later I learned visual style from Hitchcock. For All the President’s Men I wanted to blend both”)
  • Redford reveals that The Washington Post set was recreated on a Hollywood sound stage because filming in the actual newsroom was chaotic (“the journalists and secretaries went crazy when Hollywood came in their midst. It was all giggling women and people doing their makeup and a general feeling of disorder. It was as bad for them as for us, and we knew we had to get out of there.”)
  • A scene was tentatively scheduled to be shot at the White House but was vetoed by President Ford (“There was no way Ford would allow Redford to come to the White House to diss the previous president”)
  • Redford had to help out Pakula in post-production because of the director’s chronic indecision and reluctance to work beyond 6pm.
  • Warner Bros believed didn’t think it would make any money because people were sick of Watergate, but it eventually grossed a highly respectable $51 million.
  • Redford and Pakula argued about the finale but settled on a compromise of the image of the Teletype announcing Nixon’s resignation.
  • The huge success of Jaws (1975) and its pioneering release strategy influenced the opening, as it was rolled out to major cities in quick succession.

Make sure you read the full article here.

> All The President’s Men at the IMDb
> Find out more about the Watergate scandal at Wikipedia
> Buy All the President’s Men on DVD from Amazon UK

Categories
Behind The Scenes Interesting

David Lean on Editing

Director David Lean began as a film editor and throughout his career stressed the importance of how things cut together.

When he broke into the industry at Gaumont Studios in the late 1920s doing odd jobs, he worked his way up to editing newsreels and feature films such as Pygmalion (1938) and One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942).

This laid a solid technical foundation for his illustrious career as director which included Great Expectations (1946), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).

For his last film A Passage to India (1984) he combined his directing and editing roles, as this clip from an episode of The Southbank Show in 1985 demonstrates:

His colleague and fellow director Ronald Neame once said:

David Lean was a great director, but he was an even better editor. He was one of the greatest editors of all time.

> David Lean at Wikipedia
> Editor Walter Murch on Editing

Categories
Interesting

The Lost Bruce Lee Interview

A rare TV interview with Bruce Lee that was lost for many years has surfaced on The Internet Archive.

Filmed for The Pierre Berton Show on December 9th 1971, the martial arts legend discusses various aspects of his career up to that point including:

  • Dubbed films
  • Teaching Hollywood stars martial arts (Steve McQueen his toughest pupil whilst James Coburn was more thoughtful)
  • Martial arts as a form of self-expression
  • The impact of his appearances in the TV show Longstreet
  • A proposed television series for Paramount called The Warriors
  • His desire to do a Western
  • How the idea of being a superstar didn’t appeal to him

[via Brain Pickings]

> Bruce Lee at Wikipedia

> IMDb entry for this episode of The Pierre Berton Show

Categories
Interesting Technology

A Conversation with Ari Emanuel

Last November Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel sat down for a chat with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin at the Web 2.0 summit.

As the CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment he is one of the key players in the industry and the 45 minute discussion focuses on the economics of the entertainment business and the challenges of the digital age.

Some key points from the discussion are:

  • Why “There’s no one answer anymore”
  • How talent is monetised in the digital world
  • WME’s deal with LinkedIn
  • The ‘painful’ negotiations with Fox over Seth MacFarlane’s deal
  • Tensions between Silicon Valley and Hollywood
  • Google TV and the established TV networks
  • The importance of cost and worth
  • Should stars use social networks to broadcast themselves?
  • A possible deal with Facebook to fund a movie
  • Why he isn’t sure yet about signing YouTube stars
  • Why the music labels probably regret making the pricing deals with Apple a few years ago
  • His concerns about piracy
  • How Ari have advised a young Mark Zuckerberg
  • What he thinks of Ari Gold, the fictional agent in Entourage that was based on him
  • There is also a flash of his famous temper around the 30 minute mark in a question about piracy.

    > Ari Emanuel at Wikipedia
    > Web 2.0 Summit

    Categories
    Amusing Interesting

    The World’s Greatest Extra?

    Jesse Heiman is an actor who has worked with David Fincher, Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg, but you’ve probably never heard of him until now.

    Over the last decade he has carved out a career as a background extra, racking up a tremendous amount of appearances in films such as Spider-Man (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002) and The Social Network (2010) as well as TV shows including Glee (2010), Curb Your Enthusiasm (2007) and Entourage (2005).

    This collection of clips is an impressive show reel:

    He’ll also be seen this summer in Transformers: Dark of the Moon as a Mail Room worker.

    [via Buzzfeed]

    > Jesse Heiman at the IMDb
    > More on Extras at Wikipedia

    Categories
    Interesting

    A Brief History of Title Design

    This neat video showing the evolution of movie title design was edited by Ian Albinson for for the SXSWExcellence in Title Design” competition screening.

    > Art of the Title
    > More on the Title Sequence at Wikipedia
    > The masterful title sequence for Enter The Void

    Categories
    Interesting TV

    A Clockwork Orange Discussion

    In 1972 film writer William K. Everson, novelist Anthony Burgess and actor Malcolm McDowell sat down for a TV discussion about Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).

    Among the things they talk about are:

    Notice how Everson seems to be talking to camera without the aid of an autocue and how abruptly the thing ends.

    > Find out more about William K. Everson, Anthony Burgess and Malcolm McDowell at Wikipedia
    > A Clockwork Orange at the IMDb