4 Takeaways from Errol Morris on Making a Documentary About a Controversial Figure

“You didn’t hit him with a cinder block in the middle of the interview!” Filmmaker Errol Morris has never shied away from controversial subjects and unconventional approaches to them, but his latest film about Steve Bannon has landed him in especially hot water. Did he show too much of alt-righter Steve Bannon? Did he ask too little? And more generally, what do we do, as a culture, with pernicious ideas that threaten to break down democracy? Sitting down for a conversation during the New York Film Festival, these are a Continue reading "4 Takeaways from Errol Morris on Making a Documentary About a Controversial Figure"

5 Tips on Being a Successful DP From Indie Icon Ed Lachman: ‘Forget About Perfection’

The two-time Oscar nominee stopped by the New York Film Festival to spill the goods. Edward Lachman's cinematography is considered emblematic of the American independent film movement, having directed his own films and lensed for Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, and Steven Soderbergh. What's his modus operandi? Pick authenticity over perfection. For the 2018 New York Film Festival, Lachman actually came upon the idea, after sitting next to renowned artist and filmmaker JR, to collaborate on with him the poster for this year's festival. In the conversation below, Lachman describes that his Continue reading "5 Tips on Being a Successful DP From Indie Icon Ed Lachman: ‘Forget About Perfection’"

‘A Successful Production Always Happens in Pre-Production’: How Elite Climbing Cinematography Captured ‘Free Solo’

How does the camera change your subject’s life, especially when he’s in the process of risking it? While finishing up their documentary Meru, husband and wife directing team E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin first set out to make a film about the world’s most renowned free solo climber, Alex Honnold. Honnold informed them early on that if they were going to make a film about him, he wanted to free solo a route on El Capitan, a 3000-foot overhanging granite monolith in Yosemite Valley that no one had ever free soloed—climbed without a Continue reading "‘A Successful Production Always Happens in Pre-Production’: How Elite Climbing Cinematography Captured ‘Free Solo’"

Do Movies Give Us Unrealistic Expectations of Love? Ann Lupo’s ‘In Reality’ Investigates

What do a 1970s game show, a Broadway-sized musical number, and a black & white documentary interview have in common? They're all fragments of filmmaker Ann Lupo’s docu-fantasy investigation on falling into the trap of unrequited love. Ann Lupo spent a year being in love with someone who was not in love with her. Then one day, she was hit with a major dose of reality. "Something about that year marker woke me up and I was like, 'God, I really need to investigate this and figure out why this happened,'" Lupo told No Film Continue reading "Do Movies Give Us Unrealistic Expectations of Love? Ann Lupo’s ‘In Reality’ Investigates"

Collaborating as Siblings: How the Visuals & Sounds of Genre-Pushing ‘306 Hollywood’ Were Made

Dry documentary? Elan and Jonathan Bogarín set out to create a magical realist exploration. When siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín’s beloved grandmother passed away, they were suddenly left with her house and all the stuff in it. As it turns out, that was a lot of stuff. Instead of tossing it all out, they decided to take a journey and create a magical realist documentary out of the cataloging of what was inside her home. Jonathan and Elan Bogarín, as well as DP Alejandro Mejía and composer Troy Herion, sat down Continue reading "Collaborating as Siblings: How the Visuals & Sounds of Genre-Pushing ‘306 Hollywood’ Were Made"

Filled with Self-Doubt? Only You Know The Film You Want to Make: David Lowery on ‘The Old Man & the Gun’

Robert Redford has been in heist movies before, so for his final role on screen, filmmaker David Lowery created a film that subverts the heist genre while paying homage to the Redford we've grown up watching. The Old Man and the Gun, which comes out in theaters this weekend, is the mostly true story of Forrest Tucker, a real-life charming bank robber who, at the age of 76, had pulled off more than 80 robberies. Redford plays Tucker, and filmmaker David Lowery pulls from Redford’s career of charming on-screen leading men (sometimes even literally, Continue reading "Filled with Self-Doubt? Only You Know The Film You Want to Make: David Lowery on ‘The Old Man & the Gun’"

This Quiz Will Predict the Best Camera For Your Next Documentary

You could spend countless hours staring at the ceiling at night asking yourself those burning questions...or you could take this quiz and find out what camera you should buy! Ok, we’re not exactly at the level of AI in all of those commercials with Common, but Desktop Documentaries has created a fun way to take some of the guesswork out about picking the right camera for your next video production. After a short no-strings-attached quiz "What Camera Should I Buy?" you will get their best suggestion. You break down Continue reading "This Quiz Will Predict the Best Camera For Your Next Documentary"

‘Keep Shooting and Be Humble’: ‘BLAZE’ DP Steve Cosens on Advice for Young Cinematographers

"When you first start your career, it's inevitable that you're going to try to emulate films that you've seen." It may be about Outlaw Country music, but DP Steve Cosens was tasked to lens Ethan Hawke’s latest film with the philosophy of an improvisational jazz musician. Cosens was more than up to that task. “I was game to work that way, and it was exciting and wonderful from day one,” he told No Film School about working on the film about largely unknown Texas legend Blaze Foley who inspired the careers of Willie Nelson and Continue reading "‘Keep Shooting and Be Humble’: ‘BLAZE’ DP Steve Cosens on Advice for Young Cinematographers"

How the New ‘Atari’ Movie Could Revolutionize Film Finance by Tokenization on the Blockchain

“The main promise of doing this is so that independent filmmakers can be empowered…” The budget for the upcoming Atari movie, set around $40-$50 million, is being financed entirely through tokenization on the Blockchain. What happens could pave the way for a brand new way to fund films. “I’m passionate about blockchain and want to demonstrate with [Atari] that this is a viable way for filmmakers to do this,” said Atari producer J.D. Seraphine, Vision Tree Media, on the TIFF 2018 panel below. “One of the great frustrations of Continue reading "How the New ‘Atari’ Movie Could Revolutionize Film Finance by Tokenization on the Blockchain"

How to Sensitively Work with Non-Professional Actors: ‘Twin Flower’ Brings Truth to the Screen

One left Ukraine as a child and the other escaped the Ivory Coast by foot (and then migrant boat) just months before they both became the leads in Laura Luchetti’s new film. Laura Luchetti wanted real people to bring truth to the roles of two displaced teenagers on the run on the island of Sardinia, and first-time actors Anastasyia Bogach and Kalill Kone brought an incredibly real set of life experiences to the film. The essential story of Twin Flower revolves around two people from worlds apart: they don't speak the Continue reading "How to Sensitively Work with Non-Professional Actors: ‘Twin Flower’ Brings Truth to the Screen"

How to Visualize the Earth’s Natural Elements: Edoardo de Angelis on ‘The Vice of Hope’

“In one shot, we calculated that we moved, actors and the camera, 1.5 kilometers from the beginning to the end of the shot.” An acclaimed new voice in Italian cinema, Edoardo De Angelis (Indivisible) started out with the idea to tell a story about a lawless world next to the river Volturno in Italy. He's now made a film where the camera flows ceaselessly around the characters, just like that river. The Vice of Hope follows the protagonist Maria as she trafficks surrogate mothers, women down and out on their luck, and Continue reading "How to Visualize the Earth’s Natural Elements: Edoardo de Angelis on ‘The Vice of Hope’"

4 Tips From Werner Herzog on Conducting a Successful Interview for Your Doc

“I understood this was big,” said the usually unfazed Werner Herzog about speaking with the infamous former president of the USSR in his new documentary, 'Meeting Gorbachev.' In a conversation with Thom Powers at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, Werner Herzog explained not only why his latest film was important, but also how he handled the difficulties that Mikhail Gorbachev threw his way. As longtime NFS readers remember, Herzog told us he is not a filmmaker who sits down with a prepared list of questions to systematically check off (he likes to have Continue reading "4 Tips From Werner Herzog on Conducting a Successful Interview for Your Doc"

How One Filmmaker Documented the Hero Journey of the World’s Most Successful Female Artist

Does the idea of filming someone’s life story for three years without their permission sound utterly terrifying? For filmmaker Heather Lenz, big risks came with big rewards. Yayoi Kusama is now the most top-selling female artist in history. While you may know her from the explosion of Instagrammable infinity rooms and polka dots in recent years, her journey began decades ago, trying to storm the art world...unsuccessfully. Kusama just happened to be way ahead of her time. Evidently, so was filmmaker Heather Lenz. As an art student in the 1990s, Continue reading "How One Filmmaker Documented the Hero Journey of the World’s Most Successful Female Artist"

A Massive List of Fall 2018 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About

While the leaves are turning brown and the sky is grey, the money's still green if you nab one of these film opportunities! Leave mourning over summer's end to the Mamas and the Papas: you have work to do if you want to submit to any of these grants, initiative, contests, and opportunities coming up this fall! As always, the following opportunities are organized by deadline—from late August through early December—and by category: documentaries, narratives, screenwriting, and new media. If you're looking for a head-start on a different granting season, check Continue reading "A Massive List of Fall 2018 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About"

‘If You Have a Vision, Try to Keep It ’: Mastering 1970s Crime Cinema in ‘Let the Corpses Tan’

“We want to be sensational.” Filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have a growing reputation as the biggest and boldest purveyors of pastiche. Their latest film, Let the Corpses Tan, does not disappoint. This time exploring the erotic violence of the Spaghetti Western and psychedelic experiments of the 1960s and 1970s, the filmmakers are nothing short of visual masterminds. Adapted from a 1971 novel by Jean Patrick Manchette, the film follows a cadre of criminals who hole up in a crumbling Mediterranean village with a has-been writer and his exquisitely Continue reading "‘If You Have a Vision, Try to Keep It ’: Mastering 1970s Crime Cinema in ‘Let the Corpses Tan’"

A Marriage (and a Divorce) Through Pre-Production: The Unusual Collaboration Behind ‘Loveling’

Gustavo Pizzi and Karine Teles wrote the script for 'Loveling' in the throes of divorce; they didn't know their bittersweet lessons on love would make the film so beautiful. Loveling (known as Benzinho in Brazil) is the tale of a mother preparing to say goodbye to her oldest son leaving home at the end of the summer. The lead actress, Karine Teles, and the director, Gustavo Pizzi, were married when they started to write the script. Through divorce, they discovered the highs and lows of love and family breakdown, and these hard-learned lessons wove themselves Continue reading "A Marriage (and a Divorce) Through Pre-Production: The Unusual Collaboration Behind ‘Loveling’"

‘Make At Least One or Two Passion Projects a Year’: ‘Zion’ Director Floyd Russ on His New Netflix Short

'Zion' is a documentary about a teenage wrestler born without legs. At only 11 minutes long, it's one of the few short docs to ever get picked up by Netflix. Could this be a trend? After graduating from UCLA, Floyd Russ moved to a city he always wanted to live in, eager to become a filmmaker. The only problem was that in film school, nobody told him how to make money as a filmmaker. Finding himself on the ground with no reel to show, he poured himself into working on what he could, from gigs Continue reading "‘Make At Least One or Two Passion Projects a Year’: ‘Zion’ Director Floyd Russ on His New Netflix Short"

‘The Peacemaker’: Your Documentary is Only as Good as Your Protagonist’s Motivation

“The unfolding of a story doesn't have to match chronography...there are other pieces of the structure that are just as important.” A man travels to the most dangerous places on the planet, attempting to forge peace. Why does he do it? Maybe he’s a saint. Or maybe he’s a man whose own internal conflicts are so great that conflict zones in Kosovo, Iraq, Northern Ireland, and Nigeria are a welcome escape. If this sounds like a character outline from a premium Hollywood thriller, it could be. But in this case, it happens to be Continue reading "‘The Peacemaker’: Your Documentary is Only as Good as Your Protagonist’s Motivation"

‘Meow Wolf’: How to Build an Immersive World Through Film

Not only is the world-building culture of Meow Wolf something filmmakers can identify with, it may also be a movement you can join! A group of underground artists with a fiercely unique aesthetic for world-building, the loosely associated members of Meow Wolf started as outsiders in Santa Fe. They rented derelict office spaces to create art and hosted costumed basement parties that made people think they were some kind of cult. Harnessing the collective power of their individual talents, Meow Wolf has gone from obscurity to a tsunami splash into the Continue reading "‘Meow Wolf’: How to Build an Immersive World Through Film"

How to Shoot a Feature Film for Only $7,000

With only $7K, two weeks, and no crew, this is how Alejandro Montoya Marín made an action-filled comedy feature.

If you're wondering why these parameters, here's the reason: it took 7,000 bucks for Robert Rodriguez to shoot his breakout film El Mariachi. And since it’s the 25th anniversary of that film, Rodriguez decided to host a show with El Rey called Rebel Without a Crew where he picks five filmmakers to make a feature each using the same arsenal. Our guest on this episode, Alejandro Montoya Marín, was one of those Continue reading "How to Shoot a Feature Film for Only $7,000"