Watch: What Role Does a MacGuffin Serve?

This video explains what the briefcase in 'Pulp Fiction,' the rabbit's foot in 'Mission Impossible III,' and the titular statue from 'The Maltese Falcon' have in common. Every story needs a starting point, a thing for our characters to want, a goal to pursue. These wants can be as varied as true love, fame and fortune, the identity of the myysterious killer, and on and on. In some stories, however, the thing the characters seek, is well...nothing at all. Well, it exists, but its existence is, Continue reading "Watch: What Role Does a MacGuffin Serve?"

Not a Trick Question: What Do ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Have in Common?

Goodfellas and Boogie Nights are more similar than you might think. These videos take a deep dive. Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights were arguably two of the most stylistically influential Hollywood films of the '90s. Two new videos from Daniel Netzel (AKA Film Radar) and Entertain the Elk examine different aspects of the relationship between the two films. For Scorsese, Goodfellas was considered a triumphant return to form after a decade that started with the triumph of Raging Bull and then meandered through quirky one-offs like After Hours (which is, for Continue reading "Not a Trick Question: What Do ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Have in Common?"

Watch: The Secret to the Success of ‘Mission Impossible’ is Not Just Tom Cruise’s Stunts

Mission Impossible: Fallout and its storied franchise masterfully use heist movie conventions to drive story. As Michael Tucker of Lessons from the Screenplay admits at the start of this video, the release of every new Mission Impossible film is accompanied by lots of buzz about whatever new and "crazy, incredibly dangerous" stunts Tom Cruise has undertaken without the use of doubles (the latest film features a HALO jump from over 25 thousand feet.) And though these high-flying shenanigans might come across as a way for an adrenaline junkie to get his jollies while being Continue reading "Watch: The Secret to the Success of ‘Mission Impossible’ is Not Just Tom Cruise’s Stunts"

Hans Zimmer on How to Be a Composer with ‘No Technique and No Formal Education’

Hans Zimmer, the legendary Academy-Award winning composer of over 150 films, breaks down his most famous work. [Editor's Note: Although it may appear that the same video is being featured several times throughout this article, we've actually set each specific one to the timecode of when Zimmer brings up an example of a particular movie. While the video's thumbnail may appear the same for each, click play and you will be taken to a specific portion of the lengthy conversation]. During the course of Hans Zimmer's career, the German-born composer has Continue reading "Hans Zimmer on How to Be a Composer with ‘No Technique and No Formal Education’"

Watch: Breaking Down the Amazing In-Camera Effects of ‘Blade Runner’

Cinematographers Nic Knowland and Geoff Boyle analyze Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' and explain the craft behind the imagery. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is one of the most beloved sci-fi films ever made. The film is celebrated for its story (courtesy of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), performances from Harrison Ford, Sean Young and Rutger Hauer, and, of course, the cinematic vision of Neo Tokyo, a futuristic megalopolis brought to life through the art direction of David Snyder and the cinematography of Jordan Cronenworth. In the Continue reading "Watch: Breaking Down the Amazing In-Camera Effects of ‘Blade Runner’"

Watch: Stanley Kubrick on Why Films Should be More Like Commercials

On what would have been his 90th birthday, we're highlighting this video that shares Stanley Kubrick's thoughts on a number of thought-provoking topics. Stanley Kubrick was born in the Bronx on July 26, 1928, and in his 70 years on this planet, made 13 feature films, many of which are considered among the best ever made. In honor of his birthday today, we share this video from MUST SEE FILMS that features the director's thoughts on, well, many subjects. Check the video out below, along with a few videos featuring little-seen Continue reading "Watch: Stanley Kubrick on Why Films Should be More Like Commercials"

Watch: 3 Tips for Multi-Camera Shooting From ‘The Hurt Locker’ DP Barry Ackroyd

Academy-Award nominated cinematographer Barry Ackroyd discusses the philosophy and merits of his multi-camera shooting style. A theme of the English cinematographer Barry Ackroyd's career is collaboration. First, there is the matter of his work with directors like Ken Loach, with whom he has shot ten films, Paul Greengrass (with whom he has shot four), and Kathryn Bigelow (two.) There is then the fact that for films as diverse as Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), the DP has brought Continue reading "Watch: 3 Tips for Multi-Camera Shooting From ‘The Hurt Locker’ DP Barry Ackroyd"

Watch: 6 Cinematographers on the Future of Their Art

In this video from CookeOpticsTV and the BSC, cinematographers including Guillermo Navarro and John Toll discuss the future of 'cinematography as art.' Filmmaking's ongoing digital revolution has changed, and so has (over the past 20 years) the entire landscape of filmmaking. Granted, CGI effects have been around for quite some time, but it's only been in the past decade or so that Hollywood has really started to embrace digital cinematography. According to these stats, the first high-grossing digital films appeared in 2002, but it wasn't until 10 years later that it Continue reading "Watch: 6 Cinematographers on the Future of Their Art"

Three Essential Dynamic Camera Moves and When to Use Them

Camera movement is one of most important tools in any filmmaker's arsenal, but knowing how and why to move is as important as knowing how. For much of their history, movies didn't move very much at all. For decades following the advent of sync sound, heavy equipment, loud cameras, and studio-bound methods of shooting kept cameras pretty much locked down (with some extremely notable exceptions). The introduction of the Steadicam in the 1970s was a huge step forward, and one key aspect of the digital revolution has been that even directors of the most modest Continue reading "Three Essential Dynamic Camera Moves and When to Use Them"

Watch: How the Screenplay For ‘Jurassic Park’ Creates Conflict Amongst Its Characters

Here's how 'Jurassic Park' uses its screenplay to do far more than merely showcase dinosaurs. Ever since the on-screen introduction of Jurassic Park back in 1993, the franchise's main attraction has been those pesky dinosaurs and the hijinx they get up to on that island where nothing could possibly go wrong. But as this video from Michael Tucker and Lessons from the Screenplay illustrates, what's more important are the way the filmmakers create "interesting characters who are used to explore an important modern theme," presenting what's ultimately more than a Continue reading "Watch: How the Screenplay For ‘Jurassic Park’ Creates Conflict Amongst Its Characters"

Watch: How ‘Fear and Loathing’ Points Out the Cinematic Challenges of Adaptation

Terry Gilliam's adaptation of 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' translates the novel's psychedelic prose into striking visuals. As this essay from Daniel Netzel and Film Radar points out, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is not, at first glance, the sort of novel one would think easy to adapt. Though the novel is critically acclaimed and has even been hailed as a classic by American masters like Cormac McCarthy, on its release, Terry Gilliam's 1998 adaptation of the 1971 novel Continue reading "Watch: How ‘Fear and Loathing’ Points Out the Cinematic Challenges of Adaptation"

Watch: How Martin Scorsese Proves Pop Music Can Help Enhance Your Story

This video looks at Martin Scorsese's extensive use of popular music and how the songs function as a storytelling device. Martin Scorsese is justifiably renowned for his use of music, and not merely orchestral scores by some of Hollywood's leading composers (think Bernard Herrmann's moody jazz from Taxi Driver), but also popular music, like his frequent use of the The Rolling Stones (here's a link to a Spotify playlist of every song Scorsese has ever used.) But, as Jack from Jack's Movie Reviews says in the video below, Scorsese doesn't Continue reading "Watch: How Martin Scorsese Proves Pop Music Can Help Enhance Your Story"

Here’s What It’s Like to Be in the Cutting Room with Alexander Payne

Editor Kevin Tent discussed his career and long-collaboration with Alexander Payne during an event at this year's Sight, Sound & Story. Editors frequently share long and fruitful collaborations with their directors, and one of the most fruitful in recent years would have to be the one between writer/director Alexander Payne and his Oscar nominated-editor Kevin Tent, ACE. The two recently sat down for a wide-ranging conversation and discussion of his career during an "Inside the Cutting Room with Bobbie O’Steen" event at this year's Sight, Sound & Story in New York City. Continue reading "Here’s What It’s Like to Be in the Cutting Room with Alexander Payne"

‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Billions’ Editors Share the Pros and Cons of Entering the Post Field Today

Top editors discuss their craft and give their thoughts on the state of cinematic TV. According to the editors behind some of the biggest shows on TV, this is indeed a golden age for television...and especially for editors. During a panel moderated by Michael Berenbaum (Sex and the City) at this year's Sight, Sound & Story Post-Production Summit in New York, editors Naomi Geraghty (Billions, Bloodline, Treme) and Lynne Willingham, ACE (Breaking Bad, Ray Donovan, X-Files) talked about how they got their start in the industry, gave Continue reading "‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Billions’ Editors Share the Pros and Cons of Entering the Post Field Today"

The Specific Methods Every Director Should Understand When Working with Actors

These simple concepts can make one of a director's hardest jobs that much easier. Nine times out of ten, the most unforgettable moments in a movie come from a human face, rather than an impressive set-up or thrilling effects sequence. And yet, many directors are relatively clueless as to how to communicate with their actors (this is partly why the club of "actors' directors" is so small). While there are a few main schools of modern acting, there is scant information out there for the beginning filmmaker on one of the Continue reading "The Specific Methods Every Director Should Understand When Working with Actors"

Watch: Take a Crash Course in Motion Picture Film Gauge

Let's give 16mm, 35mm, and 65mm its proper due. When we discuss film gauge, we're specifically speaking about the width of the frame itself, that is, the available space that is exposed to light when run through a movie camera, measured in millimeters. As Jacob T. Swinney says in his video on Fandor, film gauge "heavily affects the look...mood and tone" of a movie. Below, Swinney looks at three film gauges: two that you've probably run across (or are at least familiar with) and one that's comparatively rarer, but which Continue reading "Watch: Take a Crash Course in Motion Picture Film Gauge"

HBO’s ‘The Tale’: Director Jennifer Fox on Why ‘There is Nothing in Documentary Like Directing Fiction’

Jennifer Fox reveals how her doc film career did—and didn't—prepare her for her feature debut. Jennifer Fox, director of the much-buzzed about The Tale, is used to taking risks. At the age of 21, the director left film school at New York University after one year, in order to follow the story of an aristocratic family living in a two hundred year old mansion amidst the destruction of a civil war. In a conversation with filmmaker Kitty Green at the Australian Screen Forum in New York, she revealed, "When I went to Lebanon, everyone Continue reading "HBO’s ‘The Tale’: Director Jennifer Fox on Why ‘There is Nothing in Documentary Like Directing Fiction’"

What Exactly Does an Agent Do For You?

During a panel at Cannes, four talent agents discussed their evolving role in an increasingly diverse industry. For those filmmakers and other creatives who are on the outside and looking to get in, talent agents have traditionally been thought of as the gatekeepers to the kingdom, the ones who, with a word, can deliver a career. Of course, it's not that simple, and while they're becoming increasingly more influential in the film business, many people still don't have a great idea of what an agent's role actually is. During a panel Continue reading "What Exactly Does an Agent Do For You?"

‘Revolutionizes the Film Industry and Our Lives’: Here’s How to Benefit from the Blockchain

A panel addressing the blockchain and its revolutionary possibilities for independent film took place in Cannes. Unless you're this guy, you've probably heard of Bitcoin, the crypto-currency currently revolutionizing the way people look at money. Bitcoin, though, only works because of something called the blockchain, which several companies are trying to turn into the next big thing in film production What is the blockchain? The UK Film Centre, as part of the International Pavilion at Cannes, attempted to answer that question during a panel called Blockchain 101, moderated by Emma Jones from Continue reading "‘Revolutionizes the Film Industry and Our Lives’: Here’s How to Benefit from the Blockchain"

Watch: Why the Midway Point of a Screenplay is So Important

Michael Mann's Collateral demonstrates how a story's midway point is the key to characterization. Having seen Michael Mann's thriller Collateral a few times now, I've always remembered how tight the movie seemed the first time I saw it, especially considering how big the production is. What I didn't remember was who directed the film (because with the exception, I guess, of Eyes Wide Shut and maybe The Color of Money, Tom Cruise movies always seem like, well, Tom Cruise movies.) Of course, the director was none other than Michael Mann, Continue reading "Watch: Why the Midway Point of a Screenplay is So Important"