17 Rules of the Coen Brothers’ Cinematic Universe

Enter the world of the Brothers Coen, a place "steeped in a slightly embellished reality." If you tried to describe the work of directors Joel and Ethan Coen collectively, what would you say? Realistic, but also kind of whimsical? Dark, but weirdly funny? High-minded, but also completely morally adrift? It's nearly impossible to explain a Coen film without using multitudes of qualifiers to give your adjectives more context, but that's because it's rather difficult to nail down the cinematic qualities found in films like Miller's Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading, No Country Continue reading "17 Rules of the Coen Brothers’ Cinematic Universe"

‘Juliet, Naked’: How Adapting a Famous Novel was Like Solving a Puzzle for Its Screenwriter

For screenwriter Evgenia Peretz, one of the most challenging things about adapting Nick Hornby's 'Juliet, Naked' was working on character backstories. To adapt Nick Hornby's novel, Juliet, Naked, for the screen, director Jesse Peretz and screenwriter Evgenia Peretz took a very dense, complex narrative and transformed it into a genial and entertaining film. The performances are evenly skilled: Rose Byrne is relaxed as Annie, a director of a small museum in a British seaside town. Her characters lives with Duncan, a somewhat less relaxed academic (played with believable angst by Continue reading "‘Juliet, Naked’: How Adapting a Famous Novel was Like Solving a Puzzle for Its Screenwriter"

Watch: How a Filmmaker Edited a Family’s Home Movies to Craft a Fictional Narrative

A mockumentary culled from found footage? A doc-com? A hybrid? Dean Fleischer-Camp's 'Fraud' often defies description. If a film's visuals provide ideas, the edit in which they're strung together provides the meaning. Perhaps no greater example of this exists than in Dean Fleischer-Camp's Fraud, a found-footage documentary that's very description should come bookended by quotation marks. Surveying over 100 hours of footage derived from a nuclear family's personal Youtube channel, Fleischer-Camp and his editor pick-and-chose isolated moments from the family's home movies, creating a devious, dark narrative that implicated the Continue reading "Watch: How a Filmmaker Edited a Family’s Home Movies to Craft a Fictional Narrative"

‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ DP David Ungaro on Shooting Fight Scenes Up Close

For 'A Prayer Before Dawn' DP David Ungaro, physical involvement was the most important part of the job. The greatest strength of A Prayer Before Dawn is its immediacy. The film is less like a narrative than a VR experience, following a young raffish boxer named Billy Moore (played with restrained seething energy by Joe Malone) as he is arrested for drug possession in Bangkok, thrown in prison, and forced to find his way out through Muay Thai boxing competitions. To say the camera hugs the characters would be an understatement. Continue reading "‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ DP David Ungaro on Shooting Fight Scenes Up Close"

Alfonso Cuarón, Gaspar Noé & 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. The fall movie season is inarguably in full swing, at least as much as movie trailers are concerned. This week, we're highlighting a few features that we'd hedge our bets on as being awards contenders by year's end, although if they're not, don't let that dissuade you of their worth and quality. Heavy-hitters such as Alfonso Cuarón, Gaspar Noé, and Michael Moore headline this week's slate along with a new feature starring Continue reading "Alfonso Cuarón, Gaspar Noé & More Trailers You May Have Missed"

‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’ DP on Respectfully Shooting Lesbian Sex and Why Cooke Panchros Are Great Portrait Lenses

Desiree Akhavan's 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post,' starring Chloë Grace Moretz, is the story of a queer young girl's effort to assert her identity, against all odds. Teenage Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is nonchalant about her sexuality. Were it not for her family's deeply religious and conservative worldview, Cameron probably wouldn't hide the fact that she's attracted to women. And to her, that's just what her sexuality is—a fact, like so many other inconsequential parts of her identity. Inconsequential, that is, until she is caught hooking up with her female Continue reading "‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’ DP on Respectfully Shooting Lesbian Sex and Why Cooke Panchros Are Great Portrait Lenses"

Blackmagic’s New Resolve is a Masterpiece & The Scariest Trailer Ever Made [PODCAST]

This episode of Indie Film Weekly looks under the hood of Da Vinci Resolve 15. With Liz Nord absent and on the hunt for Alfonso Cuaron's famed VR piece in Mexico City, Jon Fusco and Erik Luers fill in to tell you about the scariest movie trailer ever made, Hulu's imminent disaster, and Disney's double standards. In gear news, Charles Haine is back to break down the brand spanking new, all in one suite that is Da Vinci Resolve and reveal a cool new lens. This week on Ask No Film Continue reading "Blackmagic’s New Resolve is a Masterpiece & The Scariest Trailer Ever Made [PODCAST]"

Ways to Put Lights and Color Gels to Work on Your Film

Light and color can change everything. Lighting is a true workhorse of cinema. It not only illuminates spaces so, you know, they can be seen, but it also add loads of atmosphere, mood, and subtext to film projects, especially when paired with vibrant colors. If you want to learn just how many different kinds of looks you can create with some lights and some color gels (or a very expensive RGBAW LED), take a look at this video. Jake Estes of B&H goes over a handful of ways you can utilize light and color to Continue reading "Ways to Put Lights and Color Gels to Work on Your Film"

How We Managed to Make a Film Where the Lead Plays Several Dozen Versions of Himself

One actor playing multiple roles? You're bound to save a few bucks on the daily catering bill. When my creative partner and I brewed a comedic short that involved cloning our lead character more than 18 times, my initial thought was, “This sounds crazy. Let's do it!” The short, titled “Status Driven,” is a surreal take on stalking your ex online and subsequently fronting on social media as a result of it.

We were a bit primed in VFX-driven comedy from our last short, and so we felt up for Continue reading "How We Managed to Make a Film Where the Lead Plays Several Dozen Versions of Himself"

Watch: DP Michael Ballhaus and His Love for the Moving Camera

The late cinematographer may be gone, but his remarkable images live on. Michael Ballhaus, the highly respected German cinematographer known for his frequent collaborations with directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Martin Scorsese, passed away last year at the age of 81 in his native Berlin. A veteran of the industry, Ballhaus' prosperous career spanned seven decades and three Academy Award nominations (for Broadcast News, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Gangs of New York, respectively). Revisiting Ballhaus' lengthy IMDB page provides a slew of memorable titles that heavily influenced Continue reading "Watch: DP Michael Ballhaus and His Love for the Moving Camera"

Learn the 3 Stages of Using the Pancake Timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro

Learn how to master the Pancake Timeline technique in Premiere Pro.

As a kid, I wanted to become a pilot. Although that never panned out, I found some similarities shared between being a pilot and being a film editor. Mainly, we both need a quick access to some assets when the situation requires. As an editor, I have found that Pancake Timelines meet the requirements.

In the video below, I'll walk you through the three stages of working with the Pancake Timeline. We'll cover what the term stands for, what are Continue reading "Learn the 3 Stages of Using the Pancake Timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro"

Watch: Learn How to Create These 4 Classic Music Video Effects

These effects are not only fun to create but they're a quintessential part of music videos. Have you ever watched the music video to Coldplay's "The Scientist" and wondered how Chris Martin managed to sing it correctly while moving in reverse? Or how the Backstreet Boys sang their upbeat song "Quit Playing Games with My Heart" at the right tempo while the rain fell in slow motion, so sensually, behind them? In this tutorial, Robbie Janney of Shutterstock shows you how to create four iconic music video effects, from the sweet Slow Jamz slow down Continue reading "Watch: Learn How to Create These 4 Classic Music Video Effects"

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?"

Watch: How Jean-Luc Godard Liberated Cinema

From 1960-1967, Godard made 15 films that would change cinema forever. Few artists have the kind of creative burst that Jean-Luc Godard had back in the 1960s. Not only did he create 15 films in a span of seven years, but the celebrated filmmaker also changed audience expectations of what a film could be. For Godard, this meant a full-on assault of the senses. Up until Breathless, mainstream cinema had a pretty regular formula. Godard seemingly went out of his way to deconstruct every piece of it. He wanted to Continue reading "Watch: How Jean-Luc Godard Liberated Cinema"

How Editor Barry Alexander Brown Cut to the Heart of America in “BLACKkKLANSMAN’

For his latest feature, director Spike Lee enlisted the expertise of longtime collaborator Barry Alexander Brown. No matter how often they get resoaked, the blood on America's hands have never been washed fully clean, and Spike Lee's BLACKKkLANSMAN, a meta-period piece that proves the horrors of the past indiscreetly seep their way into the national horrors of the present, accentuates this to frighteningly startling effect. Retelling the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective of Colorado Springs who, along with his Jewish partner Flip Zimmerman, infiltrated the Ku Klux Continue reading "How Editor Barry Alexander Brown Cut to the Heart of America in “BLACKkKLANSMAN’"

Watch: Everything You Need to Know About the Bechdel Test in Five Minutes

Far too many films receive a failing grade. [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 four entries in the series, click here, here, here. and here.] While not all films are created equal, who's to say they can't all strive for equality? At the very least, a film attempting to capture both the simplicity and intricacies of life would do best to display them accurately. Continue reading "Watch: Everything You Need to Know About the Bechdel Test in Five Minutes"