Why a Letter from the Vatican Led to Unprecedented Access for a Wim Wenders Doc on the Pope

For his latest feature, Wim Wenders was granted unprecedented access to his most saintly subject: Pope Francis. Even if you fancy yourself to be the most caring and appreciative nonfiction filmmaker around, you have to admit that not all documentary subjects are created equal. In the case of Pope Francis - A Man of His Word, Wim Wenders's latest documentary that follows and engages with the current leader of the Catholic Church, there are not many subjects harder to obtain the approval of working with. Perhaps that's why the Vatican proposed Continue reading "Why a Letter from the Vatican Led to Unprecedented Access for a Wim Wenders Doc on the Pope"

‘BlacKkKlansman’, Raunchy Puppets, Queen Biopic, & More Trailers You May Have Missed

Staying on top of the trailer circuit is a full-time job in and of itself. We're here to help. Rest assured that the summer movie season doesn't only include Hollywood blockbusters and overly test-marketed entertainment designed for mass consumption. There are a number of festival favorites set to hit theaters very soon, as well as daring new works from celebrated American auteurs and first-time feature filmmakers. It should be a strong season, especially, as you will notice below, a particularly compelling string of weeks in mid-August. Let's dive in. Sorry to Continue reading "‘BlacKkKlansman’, Raunchy Puppets, Queen Biopic, & More Trailers You May Have Missed"

Get to Know the Creative Team Behind ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

With one week to go before 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' hits theaters, these are the players behind the camera. While it may be hard to believe, we're just one week out from another film in the Star Wars canon hitting theaters. The second "Star Wars Story" entry (ie. a film that exists in the Star Wars universe but does not directly intersect with episodes one through nine), Solo tells the origin story of one Han Solo, the guns-blazing, Millenium Falcon-owning, Wookie-befriending pilot originally played by Harrison Ford and now brought to youthful life by Continue reading "Get to Know the Creative Team Behind ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’"

‘A Film is Not Designed to Dictate Anything’: Jean-Luc Godard Returns to Cannes

The legendary French filmmaker used modern technology to return to the legendary French festival. The great master provocateur and critical rabble-rouser of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard returned to the Cannes Film Festival this week with the debut of his latest feature, The Image Book. An archival-based essay film that deploys reference points as far-reaching as Michael Bay and Alfred Hitchcock (to say nothing of some sampled gay porn?), the 87-year-old director's latest abandons conventional and mainstream narrative, going for his more recently preferred approach of layered, intertextual storytelling. Continue reading "‘A Film is Not Designed to Dictate Anything’: Jean-Luc Godard Returns to Cannes"

Location Matters: How Matt Porterfield Uses His Hometown to Illuminate Universal Stories

In 'Sollers Point,' writer/director Matt Porterfield returns home to shoot a fourth film in Baltimore. A delicately concentrated study in naturalism, Matt Porterfield's Sollers Point is as much about its physical setting as it is the characters who inhabit it. Set in Baltimore, Maryland (and its surrounding locales), the film tells the story of Keith, a 26-year-old softspoken, conflicted soul completing his one year of court-ordered house arrest. Hoping to avoid the troubled crowds he often attracts, Keith swears to get his life back on track. He looks for odd jobs Continue reading "Location Matters: How Matt Porterfield Uses His Hometown to Illuminate Universal Stories"

Watch: BTS of How a SNL Sketch Goes From Concept to Air in 36 Hours

A Kanye West Tweetstorm and the debut feature from John Krasinski inspired the 'Saturday Night Live' team to act fast. While it's no secret that the writing and production teams of Saturday Night Live work around the clock to be as topically relevant and humorous as possible, what actually goes into that quick turnaround is often shrouded in secrecy. This is even truer for the show's "non-live" segments, which aren't bound to being set in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Plaza. Under intense pressure and time constraints, the behind-the-camera staff has to Continue reading "Watch: BTS of How a SNL Sketch Goes From Concept to Air in 36 Hours"

‘Monsters and Men,’ ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ Superheroes, & More Trailers You May Have Missed

Staying on top of the trailer circuit is a full-time job in and of itself. We're here to help. As we gear up for the summer movie season, Trailer Watch returns to highlight a few titles that are poised to break out in a big way. Below you will find a pretty full-balanced meal: a new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a moving story about a father and his daughter, two films that highlight police brutality in heartbreaking ways, and a romantic studio comedy that's a big step forward toward Continue reading "‘Monsters and Men,’ ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ Superheroes, & More Trailers You May Have Missed"

Watch: Everything You Need to Know About Mockumentaries in Five Minutes

Reality can take on many forms, but this isn't one of them. [Editor's Note: This video essay is part of our "Everything You Need to Know" series created exclusively for No Film School by Senior Post. To revisit the first two entries in the series, click here and here.] All truths are not created equal, and in the case of the difficult-to-categorize films identified as mockumentaries, all truths are false. Encompassing a style long associated with the work of nonfiction—handheld camerawork, jarringly abrupt edits, fly-on-the-wall scenarios, the breaking of the Continue reading "Watch: Everything You Need to Know About Mockumentaries in Five Minutes"

‘Sometimes Directing is Like Math’: Nancy Meyers on Toggling Between the Page and Camera

The filmmaker behind some of the most popular romantic comedies of the past 40 years reveals what made them work. Nancy Meyers' films have long provided multiplex audiences with a perspective rarely seen on-screen: a woman's. Heralded for her screenwriting work directed by then-husband Charles Shyer—Irreconcilable Differences, Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, and I Love Trouble—and her Oscar-nominated script for the Goldie Hawn-starring Private Benjamin, Meyers would eventually go on to direct her own screenplays, finding success with efforts ranging from The Parent Trap remake to What Women Continue reading "‘Sometimes Directing is Like Math’: Nancy Meyers on Toggling Between the Page and Camera"

Watch: 3 Ways to Enhance Your Story with Lighting from ‘Jurassic Park’ DP Dean Cundey

Throughout his career, the DP has filmed dinosaurs, pirates, ghosts, and two Lindsay Lohans. Even if you're unfamiliar with the name Dean Cundey, you've certainly watched a few of the films the great cinematographer has shot. Having been nominated for an Academy Award for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Cundey's career includes relationships with some of the most popular American directors of the 20th century: Steven Spielberg on Hook and Jurassic Park, Robert Zemeckis on the Back to the Future trilogy, Roger Rabbit, and Death Becomes Her, Ron Howard on Apollo 13, Continue reading "Watch: 3 Ways to Enhance Your Story with Lighting from ‘Jurassic Park’ DP Dean Cundey"

Why You Should Sweat the Details When Creating Your Series Pilot

'Nice' series creator Naomi Ko, director Andrew Ahn, and producer Carolyn Mao took to serialized storytelling to emphasize the personal. As U.S. festivals continue to expand their plethora of multi-platform offerings, the opportunities for independent episodic series continue to grow. Moreso than feature-length projects, indie pilots may ultimately benefit the most from a high-profile "event" appearance; the fate of future episodes could rest on the industry attending the festival. With her pilot premiering in the Tribeca TV section of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, Naomi Ko's Nice—which she created, Continue reading "Why You Should Sweat the Details When Creating Your Series Pilot"

A Baltimore at Odds: Director Marilyn Ness on Finding the Humanity in ‘Charm City’

In the most "dangerous city in America," a documentary searches for signs of resolution. More than 1,000 people were murdered within city lines over the three years it took to complete Charm City, a compassionate, objective documentary about the social unrest between Baltimore, Maryland's police department and the residents they're at odds with. While the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department sparked outrage, the tension invoked from an abuse of authoritative power had been rising for decades. Director Marilyn Ness (a producer on Kirsten Johnson's Continue reading "A Baltimore at Odds: Director Marilyn Ness on Finding the Humanity in ‘Charm City’"

Director PJ Raval Reveals How He Filmed a Pressing Legal Battle Unfolding in Real-Time

The moving documentary 'Call Her Ganda' investigates the story of a slain transgendered woman in the Philippines. The story of a heinous crime made more painful due to the political bias it uncovered, PJ Raval's documentary Call Her Ganda equally serves as a courtroom drama, a legal exposé, a family story of immense grief, and an account of a country's rising indignation. In October 2014, Jennifer Laude, a transgendered woman working as a hairstylist in the Philippines to support her mother, was murdered by an American marine. After meeting one evening Continue reading "Director PJ Raval Reveals How He Filmed a Pressing Legal Battle Unfolding in Real-Time"

Watch: The 2018 Webby Award Winners Featuring Work from Steven Soderbergh and Jay-Z

Web-based work gets the attention it deserves at the 22nd Annual Webby Awards. Celebrating the best in all things world-wide-web, the 2018 Webby Award winners have been announced, culminating in an upcoming ceremony to be held at Cipriani Wall Street on Saturday, May 12th. Pulling from over 13,000 entries from 70 countries worldwide, the Webbys are the most extensive citation of excellence in online content, with competitive categories ranging from episodic series to gaming, apps, podcasts, website design, and more. For No Film School readers, some of the selections are inspiring Continue reading "Watch: The 2018 Webby Award Winners Featuring Work from Steven Soderbergh and Jay-Z"

‘Song of Back and Neck’: Emmy Winner Paul Lieberstein on Budgeting for Your First Feature

A former showrunner for 'The Office,' Paul Lieberstein's feature directorial debut finds the humor in pain. Complete with a last name ripe for ridicule, Fred Trolleycar (played by writer/director Paul Lieberstein) leads an equally ridiculed life. Employed as a paralegal at his father's antagonistic law firm, hopelessly looking for love, and dealing with excruciating, chronic back and neck pain, Fred's daily existence is equal parts emotional and physical struggle. After meeting a client (Rosemarie Dewitt) inquiring about an attorney for her impending divorce, the two strike up a relationship centered around Continue reading "‘Song of Back and Neck’: Emmy Winner Paul Lieberstein on Budgeting for Your First Feature"

‘Phantom Cowboys’: How a Filmmaker Grew Alongside the Subjects He Documented

In parts of America long ignored, a filmmaker found stories worth telling. For many of us longing to reflect on our adolescent upbringing, we take to old photographs, home video footage, elementary school essays, and dusty journals. We're desperate to connect who we became with who we were; a narrative throughline with indicative hints must exist, right? What would we tell our former selves? To follow our dreams? That things work out? To stress less? To work harder? What if we had no choice in the matter at all? Daniel Patrick Continue reading "‘Phantom Cowboys’: How a Filmmaker Grew Alongside the Subjects He Documented"

Discover the Notable Filmmakers on the Time 100 List of 2018

As always, Time keeps it 100. Although there haven't been too many lists celebrating the filmmakers in 2018 who have had an awesome year—we're only four months in!—there is a pretty substantial one that celebrates what they have accomplished over the past 365 days. Time Magazine has released its annual Time 100 list, a comprehensive guide to the men and women who have had an influence on the world over the past twelve months. Several filmmakers working outside of the studio system made the cut, and here are a few Continue reading "Discover the Notable Filmmakers on the Time 100 List of 2018"

Cannes Film Festival Announces 2018 Lineup and Wants You to Attend For Free

This year's festival will run from May 8th through May 19th. If spring has arrived, then the cinephile world is gearing up for news of the Cannes Film Festival, the French Riviera-set annual celebration of international cinema. Anticipate no longer: the initial titles—both in and out of competition for the Palme d'Or—were announced this morning and we're now counting down the days until things officially kick off for the 71st edition. Read More

You Can Soon Feature Work from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, & More in Your Own Movie

The public domain grows wider with the addition of several established works from celebrated directors. If you've ever wondered why a plethora of home video releases from different companies exist of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead —in its original black-and-white and oversaturated colorized versions—it's due to the film residing, somewhat famously, in the public domain. Never protected under copyright laws due to an innocent oversight, the film has been restocked, reuploaded, re-sold, and remade several times over. When an intellectual property has its copyright expire (due to lack Continue reading "You Can Soon Feature Work from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, & More in Your Own Movie"