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 on set to try to minimize everything that could go wrong during filming. It’s always a good idea to do test runs of everything before the camera even begins rolling. Once you have all the structure completed for a scene, then you know you are ready to roll the camera.

According to Schneider, the idea for the film came from a book Tom Hanks read and then wrote a script from. In terms of creating a movie that’s been inspired from a book, Aaron stated that everything that you need story wise comes from the narrative. For Greyhound he said the complete structure for the film came from Tom Hanks script, which was inspired straight from the novel. His final piece of advice about the story is to make your main goal as a filmmaker to bring the story to life not to change it.


Listen to Arron Schneider’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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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 …

John Badham’s advice on seducing the actor

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, John Badham gave constructive and well-thought out advice on how he as a director has learned to improve his work relationship with his actors. The key piece of advice that John gave is not to persuade the actor but to seduce them.

He explained that all actors have these innate instinct and gut reactions for a scene, and that its best to allow your actors to play out these ideas and experiment within a scene. Instead of persuading an actor out of a bad idea, he suggests tricking them into talking themselves out of the bad idea. For example, if an actor’s instincts for a physical movement or reaction in a scene differs from the director’s vision. Instead of saying, “Can you do it this way?” He suggests talking with the actor, seeing why their innate instinct is what it is, and if possible convince them to try it the director’s way by using descriptive verbs to describe the change you want to see.

The best way to accomplish this is by taking the time to get to know your actors. Spend some one-on-one time with them and watch them in the beginning to establish what kind of acting method they use and how they best communicate. John Badham summed this up by stating: “You can’t program an actor. You need to work with them.”


Listen to John Badham’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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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. He went further to state that the film should be a living organism that breathes and grows throughout all stages of production.

Apatow explained that he filmed various endings to his new film The King of Staten Island and felt out which ending felt most alive with the rest of the film. He describes the importance of having a film well thought out and scheduled, but he also expresses his attitude that it’s okay to bail on the script from time to time. Not only for the actors but also for the director as filming process goes on and new ideas come to life. During the filming process, he advises to think like an editor, and to see how the film will all come together.

For actors and written scripts, on his set, Apatow encourages actors that it’s okay to not be completely on book. He states that this makes the actors listen differently, since they don’t necessarily what will be thrown their way from another actor. According to him, this helps the film feel less scripted and more life like, and allows the actors to think outside of a tightly wound box. Apatow also expresses that during the casting process, he often throws actors into improvisation exercises to see how they interact with one another.


For me, until I know that the audience really gets what I’m trying to communicate I’m not done.

Judd Apatow

Listen to Judd Apatow’s full Podcast with The Directors Guild Here


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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 …

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

12 Years A Slave (2013) Review

Synopsis

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes Solomon’s life forever.

Release date: October 18, 2013

(USA)Director: Steve McQueen

Producers: Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Bill Pohlad, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon MilchanScreenplay: Solomon Northup, John Ridley

My Review

This film is incredibly hard to watch, and there were several moments I felt extremely angry and sad as to what was occurring in the film. However, I believe this is a film everyone should watch at least once in their life. Not only is this an astonishing well-made film, but the message behind it is especially powerful. This film teaches the genuine and beautiful message that people don’t just deserve the capacity to survive, but to live.

12 Years A Slave gives a unique and amazing look into the life of a free black man who is trafficked into 12 years of slavery. Not only does the audience gain a deeper look into the horrific reality of slavery, but the film also gives a look into the massive problem of human trafficking. I found myself immediately sucked into the story-line of this film, and it kept my attention well throughout.

My favorite element of this film is by far the acting. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance in this film is one of the best I have seen in a long time. Watching this film is such an emotional journey, and as an audience member I felt the characters emotions alongside him. Which goes to show what an amazing performance he put into this movie.

The other actors’ performances were extraordinary as well, and I enjoyed how the film told more stories than just the principal character. There was much more depth in developing the other characters and story lines and this definitely added a lot to the film.

The ending of this film is extremely powerful, and I found it to be the perfect ending to such an incredibly developed film. Something I love about this film is that it is based on a true story, and there is nothing over dramatized in the plot. The whole film keeps a constant realistic feel, which makes its message that much more lifelike and powerful.

My Rating

9/10


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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 …

The Shawshank Redemption Review (1994)

Synopsis

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.
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Release dateSeptember 22, 1994 (Beverly Hills)

My Review

I do not understand why it took me so long to see this film, but I am thrilled I did. This film blew me away. It’s a powerful story, with incredible acting and amazing plot action. I was immediately drawn into this film from the very beginning and only became more captivated in the story the more it went on.

My favorite thing about this film was the powerful acting performances. I was not as familiar with Tim Robbins as I was with Morgan Freeman before watching this movie. However, unlike most movies, neither actor over-shined the other. Image result for the shawshank redemptionBoth of them did such an incredible job, and as an audience member it truly felt like the two actors were feeding off of each other’s performances and energy which only strengthened their acting. The other actors in this film were incredible. There was such distinct and committed character development, which added a lot to the film and made it seem even more lifelike.

This film had a very natural flow to it. The plot points moved effortlessly from one to the other. I never noticed a moment where this film seemed to drag on and lose my attention. I think something that aided in that was Morgan Freeman’s character narrating the film and guiding the audience through the story. As an audience member, this also made me feel more involved within the world of the film and helped me get invested into the story of the film.

Probably the most powerful and affective element of this film is the writing. With it being adapted from a Steven King novel, I knew that the writing would have a strong foundation to base off of. Image result for the shawshank redemptionHowever, the writing of this movie entirely blew me away. The movie is very intense and leaves a huge emotional impact on the audience. Since the audience gets so emotionally invested in the main characters, there are many parts of this story that make you mad. Even after watching this film, the emotional impact will stick with you, and you will think about it long after watching the film.

My Rating

4.5 out of 5

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Film Review

Summary

Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He approaches the interview with skepticism, as he finds it hard to believe that anyone can have such a good nature. But Roger’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.
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Release date: October 10, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 64.1 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD

My Review

I definitely had different expectations for this film. I knew that Fred Rogers would not be the focus of the film, since Tom Hanks was the supporting actor. However, I did not expect the film to intertwine two worlds by transitions related to Mr. Rogers show. This was one of the most confusing elements of the film. While it was very creative and looked amazing from a visual standpoint. It was hard to tell if the film was taking place in real time or was just another episode of Mr. Rogers show.

The show starts off with Mr. Rogers on set for his show talking about a man named Lloyd. And the movie cuts between the show and Lloyds’s life until finally the two intertwine. Image result for a beautiful day in the neighborhoodThis got even more confusing toward the end of the film when the audience ended back on Mr. Rogers show. The mixing and cutting between the two worlds was unique and interesting, but very confusing in terms of time and space.

The strongest thing about this film was the acting. Tom Hanks did not disappoint, and he fully became the essence of Mr. Rogers. In fact, it was hard to remember that it was an actor portraying Fred Rogers instead of the real deal. I was pleasantly surprised by the other actors of the film. Especially Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper. I have not seen a lot of movies with either of these actors in it, and they did a fantastic job. However, compared to the scenes with them on screen alongside Tom Hanks, their performance was weak in comparison and less believable.

Overall, I enjoyed the feel of this movie. The color grading, music, and camera style was kept very similar to how an actual show of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Growing up watching the television show, this was very nostalgic for me and helped as an audience member to peak my interest further into the world of the film. Image result for a beautiful day in the neighborhoodHowever, the transitions got confusing as times since as I stated it was hard to tell if the film was in real time or all flashbacks. This is a main reason I would not watch this film again. I enjoyed it, however, for me once is enough.

My Rating

2.5 out of 5

The Worst Movies Of the Last Decade

Rambo Last Blood 2019

Synopsis

Vietnam War veteran John Rambo tries to find peace by raising horses on a ranch in Arizona. He also developed a special familial bond with a woman named Maria and her teenage granddaughter Gabriela. But when a vicious Mexican cartel kidnaps Gabriela, Rambo crosses the border on a bloody and personal quest to rescue her and punish those responsible.
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Release date: September 20, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 91.5 million USD
Budget: 50 million USD

My Review

This was the first movie I have seen from the Rambo movies. The action scenes of this movie did not disappoint. However, the plot structure and narrative of this movie were not very well put together. While this movie was sentimental for fans of the Rambo series as a standalone movie, it was extremely weak. The plot point that sucked me into this movie was when Gabriela gets kidnapped by the cartel. It feels like only a few moments later when Rambo rescues her, only to have her die. The rest of the movie is dedicated to revenge. However, at this point, I had no strong emotional connection to the movie. I knew since it was a Rambo movie he would succeed in a very bloody battle scene. The conflict was resolved way too soon, and the rest of the movie was just full of filler action.

A Wrinkle in Time 2018

Synopsis 

Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all the evil in the universe.
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Release date: February 26, 2018 (USA)
Box office: 133.4 million USD
Budget: $100–130 million

My Review

I was so excited to see this film since this was one of my favorite books as a child. However, from the start of the movie I knew I would be disappointed. The writing was very poor. This movie had such an incredible cast, but the lines did not feel natural and the movie was full of awkward and forced dialogue. They spent most of the budget of this film on graphic images. While the CG in this film was not terrible, it was not the best I have ever seen. With such an elaborate budget, I had higher expectations for this movie. The thing I disliked most about this film is the fact that they changed so much from the book to the movie. In the book, Mrs. Which has a hard time verbalizing and is also described as a traditional-looking witch. However, with Oprah playing Mrs. Which in the film, they gave her plenty of elegant and well-spoken dialogue. Some other major changes include the exclusion of Aunt Beast, the Happy Medium, and the addition of Meg’s bully. A Wrinkle in Time is such a well put together book If they had stuck to it, I think this film would have been a lot better.

Beauty and the Beast  2017

Synopsis

An arrogant prince is cursed to live as a terrifying beast until he finds true love. Strangely, his chance comes when he captures an unwary clockmaker, whose place is then taken by his bold and beautiful daughter Belle. Helped by the Beast’s similarly enchanted servants, including a clock, a teapot and a candelabra, Belle sees the sensitive soul behind the fearsome facade. But as time runs out, it soon becomes obvious that Belle’s cocky suitor Gaston is the real beast of the piece.
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Release date: March 17, 2017 (USA)
Box office: 1.264 billion USD
Budget: $160–255 million

My Review

I wanted so much for this film to be an incredible experience. However, it was anything but. My first biggest disappointment was Emma Watson’s singing. There was such heavy pitch correction, and auto tune on her voice it sounded unnatural and annoying. In its entirety a lot of the musical numbers in this film did not live up to those of the animated movie. The only songs I truly enjoyed were Gaston’s and the song they added for the Beast. This movie had such a strong cast, and the acting was phenomenal. However, this movie still did not grab my overall attention and left me knowledgeable of the fact that I was watching a movie.

Dirty Grandpa 2016

Synopsis

Uptight lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at his firm. Tricked by his grandfather Dick (Robert De Niro), Jason drives the foulmouthed old man to Daytona Beach, Fla., for a wild spring break that includes frat parties, bar fights and an epic night of karaoke. While Jason worries about the upcoming wedding, Dick tries to show his grandson how to live life to the fullest.
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Initial release: January 21, 2016 (Brazil)
Box office: 105.2 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD (2015)

My Review

Going into this movie, I knew that it would either be a hit or miss, and it was definitely a miss. The jokes and humor of this movie were just not funny at all. A lot of the humor was juvenile, which I expected, and it just did not reach the target audience for this movie. The humor was very dated and predictable and felt too forced as an audience member. I am a huge fan of Robert De Niro, but I did not appreciate his appearance in this movie. Jack Efron also came across as very awkward and forced throughout much of the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2014

Synopsis

Confident in his powers as Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in between protecting New York from criminals. However, his greatest battle yet is about to begin. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront an enemy far more powerful than he is. And when his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns, Peter comes to realize that all his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
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Release date: May 2, 2014 (USA)
Box office: 709 million USD
Budget: $200–293 million

My Review

I am a huge fan of Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man. However, I enjoyed the first movie in the series so much that this movie highly disappointed me. The biggest thing I dislike about this film is how much it leaves the series opened and not closed. For me, there were way too many subplots of this movie that did not fully tie together at the end. The movie also leaves a lot of unanswered plot holes that take away from the overall film. The portrayal of Harry Osborn in this movie was also a huge disappointment. The character was not written in a way that the audience could connect with him, and he was overall very uninteresting.

The Wolf of Wallstreet 2013

Synopsis

In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.
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Release date: December 25, 2013 (USA)
Budget: 100 million USD
Box office: 392 million USD

My Review

This film, let me tell you. Watching this film was an experience. I know many people did not like the movie because the main character was so unlikeable. However, the movie makers wanted the audience to dislike the main character, and they pulled that off beautifully. The thing I strongly disliked about this movie is how silly it was. There was no real plot structure, and many of the scenes and plot points in this film had to purpose. Therefore, the movie did not tie very well together and a lot of it seemed like pointless filler. I am also a huge fan of Leonardo Di Caprio and the other actors in this film. But they couldn’t even take this film seriously, which impacted their overall performance. Overall, this while movie felt like a giant joke and many of the scenes felt pointless to the movies overall themes.

The Dark Knight Rises 2012

Synopsis

It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night. Assuming responsibility for the death of Harvey Dent, Batman sacrificed everything for what he and Gordon hoped would be the greater good. However, a cunning cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and a merciless terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) force Batman out of exile and into a battle he may not win.
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Release date: July 20, 2012 (USA)
Box office: 1.084 billion USD
Budget: 250 million USD

My Review 

The Christian Bale portrayal of Batman is incredible, and The Dark Knight is a widely known and respected film found on many of the top 100 films list. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged as a film that every film major needs to see at one point or another. However, this movie was an extreme disappointment compared to its predecessor. The development of Bane was really lacking. As an audience member, I felt no connection to him. What makes a great villain is a character who you hate but have an innate connection or emotion for (like the Joker). Bane is just a puppet for the true villain of this movie, and because of this, there is a barrier between the audience forming a true bond with him. Therefore, the audience has no investment in the quarrel between Batman and Bane, and it’s easy to lose interest in this film. This movie also seemed to drag on for an elaborate amount of time, only to have the conclusion very abrupt and predictable.

Midnight in Paris 2011

Synopsis

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams), he has taken to touring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. TheN more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
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Release date: May 20, 2011 (USA)

My Review

The overall idea and the plot of this movie are very interesting. However, it felt very long and dragged on and on. The whole movie felt like a giant cliche. The main problem I had with this movie is the lack of character development. Throughout the entire movie, I had no emotional investment with the characters in the film. Which proved to be problematic since the whole movie the audience is watching the main character (Gil) on this literary journey of sorts. This left me not caring about the movie or invested in the movies turn out. Which is surprising and disappointing for a Woody Allen film.

Nanny McPhee Returns 2010

Synopsis

Enigmatic Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives on the doorstep of a harried mother, Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is trying to raise her kids and tend to the family farm while her husband is away at war. Isabel has her hands full with not only her own three but also with her sister’s spoiled pair. With no time to lose, McPhee uses magic to instill in the children five important lessons.
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Release date: August 20, 2010 (USA)
Box office: 93.2 million USD
Budget: 35 million USD (2010)

My Review

This movie is such a disappointing sequel to Nanny McPhee. The first movie was so well thought out and well put together that this movie cannot compare to it. As a kids’ movie, it’s great. But the whole movie is so predictable for any older audience member watching it there is no element of mystery or suspense in wondering what will happen. While perhaps it is a kids’ movie, the first movie was not as predictable and cliche. This movie was not as much as a whimsical experience as the first, and it felt like for the filmmakers since the first movie was such a success they put a lot less care and thought into the making of the sequel.