Top 5 Films Taught in Film School and Why

1. The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, Russia, 1925)

This film has been widely studied and regarded as a propaganda masterpiece. The film looks at the historic event that took place in 1905, in which sailors form a mutiny against their Tsarist officers. The film is widely regarded for its unique montage editing and its ability to toy with the audience’s emotions. Eisenstein’s famous sequence occurs on the Odessa Steps, where the Tsar Officers massacre innocent civilians.

Eisenstein studied the Kuleshov Effect (a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot) of film making, and this heavily influenced the editing he used in this film. Eisenstein strategically placed images together with juxtaposition to cut between the scared civilians and the ruling officials. By cutting between the two Eisenstein further calls upon the emotion of the audience and creates a sense of suspense. This form of editing is considered to be a Rhythmic Montage in which the montage of clips follows a certain beat, giving the film a methodical impression.

Many filmmakers since Eisenstein have been influenced by his montage editing, and it’s easy to see his influence in the film world even to this day. For example, Alfred Hitchcock has become well known for a similar style of montage editing.

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, Germany, 1920)

Not only is this film considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, but it’s also considered to be one of my most influential films in the horror genre. The film gave birth to a whole new style of film that had never been seen before.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari actually used painted sets to create shadows and depth directly into the sets and ensure an overall dark and expressionist look and feel. The films use of lighting and shadows reflect the psychology of the characters within the film, which is an idea that would continue to be used in German cinema and eventually spill over into the style of film noir.

3. Citizen Kane ( Welles, USA, 1943)

This film is one of the most widely studied at any film school or institution. While this film has been extremely controversial among audience members, there is definitely a lot to learn from watching it. This film was actually a major box office flop at its time, but now it is regarded as one of the most iconic cinematic films.

Welles orchestrated several techniques of classic film, and he definitely borrowed heavily from the style of German Expressionism. One of the most infamous things about this film is the nonlinear narrative structure. The narrative style of the movie shifts backwards and forwards in time pretty frequently. While this is a very common feature of modern film, for its time this was extremely unique and innovative.

The cinematography of this film was also very innovative for its time. Its deep focus photography made the foreground and background appear in focus and allowed for a lot of creative freedom. As well as the films’ iconic low-angle shots. This film has definitely been influential on Hollywood films and was extremely unique for its time.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, USA, 1968)

This is definitely the type of film that impacts each and every audience member in a unique and different way. Each is one of the reasons this film has been so widely talked about and popularized.

However, this film had a massive impact on the science- fiction genre of film. It steered the entire genre away from this ideology of “us Vs them,” which was so widely used in the traditional alien invasion films of the genre. It steered the genre into a totally new and innovative direction.

The film has also become regarded for its unique use of editing techniques, especially the idea of a match cut. It’s definitely easy to see the influence of this film on later films such as Alien, Star Wars, and several others.

5. Stagecoach (John Ford, USA, 1939)

This film was John Fords first sound western film, and it was revolutionary in almost every way possible. Not only did this film challenge the stereotypes of the genre, but it also rejecting several classical western conventions.

This film set the defining portrait for the American West in Hollywood. Until this film was made most western films were shot in a Hollywood studio with backdrops. However, the authentic location of this film being shot in Monument Valley Utah engrossed the audience into the authentic backdrop of the film. After this film, more and more western films were being shot on location.

This film is also known for its innovative combination of camera work, chase scenes and crazy stunts. While Indian battle sequences were a common feature of western films before this movie, the extensive chases scene and risky stunts of this film were extremely impressive and creative for its time. This film definitely changed and revolutionized the western genre as a whole.


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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

5 Most Important Terms of Cinematic Language

The cinematic language of a film is essential to conveying the meaning of a film. Cinematic language is a from of storytelling told through camera movement, mise-en scene, cinematography, editing, sound, and anything else within the film’s frame. Needless to say a films cinematic language greatly impacts the viewers experience with the film.

The top 5 terms of cinematic language are as follows…

  1. Fade In/ Out

A fade in/ out eludes to a change in the narrative time of a film

2. Cutting Action

When a shot ends with a movement and the next shot picks up that same movement. A perfect example of this is in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey… when the bone is thrown in the air the shot cuts to a similar shaped space ship.

Match Cuts & Creative Transitions with Examples - Editing Techniques

3. Mise-en-scene

This comprises of everything within the frame of a film. Including lighting, setting, props, costume, and makeup within each individual shot.

Mise en Scène: 20 Script Elements Every Filmmaker Needs to Know

4. Content

This includes the subject of the film. Including things like characters, dialogue, themes, and symbols.

Normalizing Male Dominance: Gender Representation in 2012 Films ...

5. Form

Means by which the subject is expressed and experienced. Including camera movement, editing, pace, plot, and structure. The best movies will consist of form and content that either complement each other or intentionally clash in order to achieve a common meaning.

Film, Form and Function - Arts Matters

A helpful tip when making a film is that the more pattern and progressions that meet an audience members expectations ( or doesn’t in interesting ways) the more likely the audience member is to enjoy, analyze and interpret the work


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5 Things I’ve learned Since Making My First Short Film

We all have to start somewhere, and that’s okay. I recently just re watched the first short film I have ever made.. and boy was it rough. But it’s not good to be critical of our past works, because we have since grown and expanded our knowledge of filmmaking. I’m going to share with you 5 things I know now that I didn’t know when I made my first short film.

  1. The Importance of Having a Script

When I made my first short film, I did not know of plot points and the three act structure. If you need a tutorial on these things check out my blog post on how to write a screenplay here… https://cinematicgeekster.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/writing-a-screenplay-rules-and-format/. However, when I made my first short film, I didn’t even use a written script. Which I thought was okay because I was the writer, director, and cinematographer. The issue with not having a written script was that the actors did not fully understand what was happening until I gave them the rundown before each shot. It also strongly impacted the continuity of my film.

2. The Importance of Quality Audio

I knew nothing about audio editing when I made my first film. I did not understand that voice narration needed to be louder than any background noise and music. I also used my iPhone to record voice over narration, which was fine, but there was a lot of wind in the background. Looking back, I could have tried to clean up the audio in editing. However, since it was my first film I was editing on Movie Maker, I really should have just recorded in a controlled and quiet environment versus outside.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Re Shoot

In my first short film I shot each scene once and then moved on. I took no time to watch the scene I just shot and see if anything needed to be redone. I also had no idea what a safety shot was and how useful it can be when it comes time to edit. The camera work of the film was not bad at all, however, there were shots out of focus I could have easily fixed by re shooting.

4. Take Time Choosing Music for Your Film

One thing that drove me crazy the most when re watching my first short film was the choice in music. Each song I chose was extremely cinematic and dramatic. Which is fine, however, I filed almost every second of the film up with this kind of music. Because of this, the music lost all of its emotional impact since there was no clear drawn climatic moment in the music. It didn’t occur to me that not every single moment of a film needs to be full of music, and that it’s okay to have silent moments as well.

5. Don’t Skip Pre-Production

I had no form of pre-production when I made my first short film. I got my actors together, had an idea in my mind, and just starting filming. Spending more time in pre production could have easily avoided many issues in my film and I think overall it would have made the film flow better. If you want a rundown on what each stage of filmmaking involves check out my blog post on the three stages of production here… https://cinematicgeekster.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/the-3-stages-of-production/


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

3 Lessons To Learn From Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s Rule

Hitchcock’s rule is one of the most beneficial lessons you can learn from him and apply to your own work. According to Hitchcock’s rule, everything in the frame must have significant meanings. If you pay attention to the frame in Hitchcock’s films every thing within the shot is symbolic. For example, the person who appears larger in the frame often holds all the power within the scene.

Suspense Vs Mystery

Hitchcock never made a mystery film, nor did he want to. He found that to create meaningful and captivating suspense you had to ensure the audience knew more about what was going on in the film than the characters within the film. Hitchcock’s film Sabotage is a prime example of this. A young boy is meant to deliver a package, with no knowledge there is a bomb within the parcel. However, the audience is well aware, and this causes all the suspense. Because the audience knows that time is running out until the bomb goes off, while the characters have no clue.

The Power of Birds Eye View

Hitchcock uses bird eye view shots a lot in his film, and he states that it helps to create a sense that in reality the characters within the film are tiny and have little to no control over their life. In his movie The Birds, usage of a bird’s-eye view was effective. Through the bird’s-eye view shot the audience sees masses of birds watching the town people, which adds to their threat of terror over the characters in the film. It’s also very affective in foreshadowing events that are about to transpire.


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julie taymor: the cross universe of film and theatre

In a recent podcast episode with The Treatment, Julie Taymor discussed her new movie “The Glories” and how she uses storytelling to externalize what characters are feeling on screen. Julie Taymor is a Tony Award-winning director of both theatre and film. Her goal as a creative is to master the fantastical elements of the film …

r-e-s-p-e-c-t on a film set: advice from mimi leder

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Mimi Leder, an American director and producer, gave her best advice for keeping a healthy and productive film set. Mimi’s key piece of advice was to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve, and to always show them your appreciation. She pointed out that the cast …

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The 3 Stages of Production

There are three crucial stages of production when making a film. Each step is as important as the next, and every stage requires lots of attention. In this blog I am going to breakdown the three stages of production and what each stage includes.

Pre Production

  1. Writing– this is the stage in which a script is written, faces peer review, and the script is re-written. This also includes story boarding ideas before you begin writing.
  2. Crew and Cast– The film is cast, and each role is filled. Each crew member is handpicked, and the film is fully staffed.
  3. Schedule– A plan for each day of shooting is written out and planned. The schedule states when and where things are to be filmed.
  4. Locations– The location scouts search for the perfect setting and if required filming contrasts are drawn up and shared with the proper business people.
  5. Props/Costumes/Art Direction– In this stage all the needed props, costumes, sets, etc are creating and ready for use.
  6. Shot List– A format list breaking down each shot, angle, and direction of the camera.

Production

  1. Shooting– This is the stage in which all the pre-production work is put into place and the actual shooting of the film occurs. The longer you spend in Pre Production, the more organized and productive the Production process will be.

Post Production

  1. Editing– The footage is all spliced, transitions are added, and overlays are put into place.
  2. Special Fx– Special effects are incorporated and added to the film.
  3. Color Grading– This is one of the most important steps in the post-production process. It will distinguish your film as professional looking and increase the quality by a ton.
  4. Sound/ Audio Foley– Sound is mixed, editing, and added under neath each shot.
  5. Soundtrack– Music is handpicked and deed to the film in order to add an emotional impact.

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working with what you got: Advice from the creators of Faith Based

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, the creators of the film Faith Based (Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason), gave constructive advice to filmmakers who think they need to wait till they make it into Hollywood to make their film. The filmmakers discussed how their original plan for the film was to shoot …

Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges. Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility. He went on to state that as a director it’s okay …

Writing A Screenplay- Rules and Structure

Guidelines When Writing A Screenplay

  • Feature- length screenplays are 90- 120 pages. When formulated correctly this equals 90- 120 minutes on screen.
  • Industry Standard Formatting
    • Act 1 = pages 1-30
    • Act 2 = pages 31-90
    • Act 3 = pages 91-120

The Five and Dime Rule

Typically studios and producers look at the first five pages and the last ten pages of a screenplay to determine if they will produce it.

The Basics of Writing a Screenplay | The Film Look - YouTube

Act 1

  • Introduction to your screen world
  • Begin with an image
  • The first few moments are the most important because they will immerse the audience into your production
  • The inciting incident will occur in Act 1 and this is the catalyst that begins the main conflict of the movie
  • The “World” of your film goes from order to chaos
  • What does your character want? Will he/she succeed?
  • End of Act 1 = the first big turning point or Plot Point 1
  • Remember the end of Act 1 should occur around page 30

Act Two

  • Act 2 is the middle of the movie. Remember, according to industry standards Act 2 occurs from pages 31-90.
  • The focus is how the plot point will be resolved.
  • More complications should develop that are keeping the main character from reaching their goal or objective.
  • Plot Point 2 will occur right at the end of Act 2 (around page 90). Plot Point 2 needs to be dramatic and drastic as it will lead to the climax of the film. For example, maybe someone dies, and the main character is battling internally with whether or not he would continue. Raise the stakes!!!

Act 3

  • Act 3 is the resolution of the film
  • Remember Act 3 usually occurs between pages 91 and 120 in a feature length film.
  • An epiphany needs to happen as well as a resolution and wrapping up of loose ends.

Review

Screenplay Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

This is the typical industry format for a feature length film. Keep in mind that one minute of script should equal one minute of screen time. Also, make sure you have two plot points as this will drive forth the action of your film and captivate the audience. It’s also important to note that these ruled are more of a guide than a formula you must strictly follow. However, there is a reason these rules have become the standard, and it’s because it works. Audience members are used to this formula, and it’s what we expect when watching a film. However, ruled can be broken successfully. Especially for starting out with writing a feature-length film, these guidelines are really helpful to follow.


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Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. …

Control Your Property- Jim Cummin’s Advice On Distributing Your Own Film

Jim Cummings is an extremely unique director in the sense that he often heads up the distribution of his films and their production. In a recent Podcast with Film Riot, he explains to the listeners just how he goes about accomplishing this. To many filmmakers, the idea of overseeing the distribution of your own films …

5 Things I’ve Learned in Film School from a College Senior

I’ve heard many times in my life that I am wasting my time and money by going to college to study film. However, as I’m approaching my last semesters of my college career, I am realizing just how much I have learned. Here are the top five things my University has taught me about the film industry.

Image result for film photos royalty free

1. Collaberation

The most valuable thing I have learned from being a part of the film and theatre community is that you must be willing/able to collaborate with your peers. I have seen so many people who think they know best and are not willing to listen to anyone else’s ideas. However, this only results in BAD films and bad contents. No one person is an expert in every area of film production. While it’s important to understand all the various fields such as lighting, sound, camera, directing. Everybody has their speciality and is nowhere near being an expert in these fields. The best films come from working with someone that specializes in each field and being able to listen to each other’s ideas and play off of each other’s feedback.

2. Confidence

Image result for confidence

The second main thing I have gained throughout my college career is confidence. Being able to turn in projects and gain the feedback/ constructive criticism of classmates and professors is HUGE. A big confidence booster is being able to see your growth from Freshman year onward. That is something you can always do outside of a university setting. However, the community environment built by fellow students and faculty is an amazing place for being challenged and growing as a filmmaker. I have definitely gained so much confidence in my filmmaking and that gives me great ease as I think about graduation and getting into the film industry.

3. Connections

A major benefit I have found from attending a university for film studies is all the connections you will make. My classes have had a wide variety of guest speakers, and former students come to talk with us including an editor from the Ellen show and a camera operator from the Walking Dead. I talked to both speakers and show them my work. The feedback from them was extremely valuable and their lengthy advice for getting into the film industry. I have also gotten the amazing opportunity to showcase films in various festivals and meet filmmakers through professors and advisors. I still collaborate with other filmmakers I have met through professors and learn from them more and more every day.

4. Professionalism

Image result for professionalism

From watching film professors and being thrown into professional environments, I have learned how to act and be very professional in various situations. I have also gained more confidence in approaching and talking to peers and how to react in certain social situations. I have lots of social anxiety, so this has been extremely beneficial to me, especially as I leave school and head into the “real” world.

5. Production Elements

Having different professors that each specific in different fields is very beneficial. I have learned a lot from audio, directing, camera work, documentary film-making, editing, sound editing, graphic design, media writing, etc. Having a professor in front of you that specializes in that specific field is extremely useful, and I have learned so much. In the production side of things, I have learned way too much to count into one blog.