Jody Lee Lipe’s Advice on the Emotional Impact of Cinematography

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Jody Lee Lipes gave some industry advice on conveying emotion through the eye of the camera lens to the audience. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images, and the cinematography of a film can have a massive impact on the psyche of an audience member, and often determine the audience’s relationship with the film. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images.

Jody makes a point of stating that the focus of a cinematographer should not be to manipulate the audience, but to familiarize themselves with the story in such a way that the story tells the camera where it wants to go. The art of cinematography is to lead the audience down an emotionally led journey, and often the instinctual idea you get for a shot is the right one.

When asked about his prep routine before every film, Jody advises that the cinematographer breakdown every scene of the film into a “Bible.” Breaking down each scene into one summarizing sentence. He states that the cinematographer should be so familiar with the script that he/she can back up every planned shot down to a single purpose. If they cannot back the idea up, it likely means its initial concept wasn’t strong enough. Stick to your gut and follow the story line and it will drastically aid in bringing the film to life.


“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of the poet.”

– Orson Welles

Listen to Jody Lee Lipes full podcast with film riot Here

‘Unhinged’ Profits $4 Million Opening Weekend- Is It Enough?

The longer the global health crisis in the world right now goes on, the more of a desire there is for life to return to normalcy. In good news, many movie theaters have now opened up back up to a most notable level since pre COVID- 19. Attendance for movie goers has been record low, however a recent premiere of Solstice Studios, “Unhinged” is giving the U.S Box Office some hope.

In a recent article by Rebecca Rubin for Variety, she discusses the film “Unhinged,” and its success as being the first major theatrical release since March. The film premiered in 1,823 venues in North America and pocketed more than $4 million dollars in its first weekend. Unhinged cost $33 million to produce, which doesn’t include marketing and distribution costs, and the filmmakers are aiming to reach $30 million in revenue during the film’s theatrical run time. Which will be longer than the average films run time.

In a recent interview, Shari Hardison, Solstice’s head of distribution, gave a quote stating “We have a lot of stairs to climb, but the first steps are encouraging.” There’s a long way to go for the U. S box office to survive in the pandemic world, but the major success with “Unhinged” since its release is a step in the right direction.

The CEO of Solstice, Mark Gill, stated that his mantra throughout the whole global health crisis has been “Slow and steady wins the race.” He later expressed his satisfaction with “Unhinged’s” opening weekend stating: “This weekend is the first step. The next couple of weeks will show us a lot more. The rebuilding process is going to take 9- 18 months. Our belief in the long-term success of the theatrical business is unshaken.


Read Rebecca Rubin’s article Box Office: Russell Crowe’s ‘Unhinged’ Off to Decent Start as U.S. Theaters Slowly Reopen Here

Listen to Mark Gill’s full interview on the release of Unhinged Here

Who Are The Film Critics? And Who Do They Represent?

Kate Erbland recently wrote an article for Indiwire discussing how both women, and critics of color are still extremely under-represented in the film critic world. She states that her article will probably appear familiar to those that read last year’s Thumbs Down Study from the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University. One year ago, the study found that male critics outnumbered female critics 2 to 1. One year later the study has only seen a three percent increase in the balance between male and female critics.

Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D, who heads up the Thumbs Down Study gave a formal statement: ““The overrepresentation of men as film reviewers coupled with the fact that a higher proportion of their reviews focus on male-driven stories and films directed by men advantage those films by giving them greater visibility in the critical marketplace. As the film industry reanimates in the coming weeks, this structural inequity will help to ensure that pre-pandemic inequities will remain in place in the pandemic and post-pandemic environments.” Unless the structural makeup of the film industry drastically changes, the inequity between men and women in the field will always exist. With production and film making down during this Pandemic, the industry is being allowed a chance to reevaluate and change.

According to the San Diego State University’s study, women are not the only ones under-represented in the critic industry. The study found that 73% of all male reviewers are white, and 70% of all female critics are white. While Hollywood is definitely under representing female critics, they are even further failing to represent all critics of color.

The Thumbs Down study, which originated in 2007, is the longest running and most comprehensive study on the representation of women in the film industry. Hopefully the film industry will see a more dramatic number of equal representation within the near future.


Read Kate Earblands article Male Critics Still Outnumber Female, All Critics of Color Remain “Dramatically Underrepresented for the Indiewire here

You can read the full study from the Center For The Study Of Women In Television & Film here.

Ron Howard’s Advice on Being a Good Director

In a recent Podcast with The Director’s Cut, Ron Howard spoke to Jeremy Kagan about the relationships he builds with his collaborators, and the impact these relationships have on a film. He describes the mutual and respectful relationship he aims to develop with both his first assistant director and the cinematographer, stating that both the 1st AD and Cinematographer work just as hard as the director.

Howard says that it’s often the most helpful when the 1st AD also functions in a producer role early on in the pre-production process. This way the 1st AD is more familiar with the film and has a voice in the decision-making process from the beginning. He describes this relationship as helping to identify the absolutes and the possible land mines that will arise later on in the film-making process.

It’s not uncommon to hear the saying- a director, not a dictator. Louise Drumm, an assistant theater director with Dublin Youth Theatre states, “To be a good director you have to know when to let go.” Ron Howard brings this quote to life by establishing a symbiotic relationship between himself, as the director, his 1st AD, and cinematographer. He seems to be aware that filmmaking is a collaborative process, and perhaps this is the reason many of his films have been so widely successful.


“One of the great things about being a director as a life choice is that it can never be mastered. Every story is its own expedition, with its own set of challenges.”

-Ron Howard


Listen to the Directors Guild Podcast The Craft of The Director with Ron Howard Part 1 (Ep. 258) here.

The Mule (2018) Review

Synopsis

Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.

Release date: December 14, 2018

(USA)Director: Clint Eastwood

Featured song: Don’t Let the Old Man In

Box office: 174.8 million USD

My Review

The story-line of this film kept me entirely interested throughout the entire movie. The three things that stood out to me the most about this film were its well-developed characters, dynamic acting, and subtle use of symbolism. It was also extremely heart wrenching and touching to watch Clint Eastwood act in his last film as a modern “cowboy.”

The characters in this film are well- developed by both incredible acting and a well-written script. I almost forgot I was watching a film at certain points, because the characters completely came to life and made the story their own. Especially Clint Eastwood, it’s easy to see that he put everything he had into his role in this film and it fully paid off.

There is a perfect balance between action, and lifelike events in this film. Keeping it from feeling unrealistic with too much action, or slow moving with not enough excitement. Because of this, the film feels very realistic, and as an audience member I fully understood how the film’s protagonist accidentally stumbles into the drug business and stays in it.

I really enjoyed how this film took place in a modern world, while still holding onto some elements and characteristics of an old western film. I also really enjoyed how the protagonist of this film (Earl Stone) is a twisted kind of hero, and how as an audience member I both sympathized with him and grew frustrated with. My only complaint about this film is knowing it was Clint Eastwood’s farewell to Hollywood.

My Rating

9 out of 10


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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 …

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Review

Synopsis

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out.

Release date: February 14, 1991

(USA)Director: Jonathan Demme

Film series: Hannibal Lecter

Story by: Thomas Harris

My Review

The plot line of this film had me engaged within minutes, and my attention did not waver until the end of the film. Even days after watching this film I am still dumbfounded and astonished by Anthony Hopkins performance. Jodie Foster does an incredible job as well, and the two clearly mastered the acting technique of completely bringing the characters they were cast to life.

The thing that stood out to me the most in this film was the unique transitions and editing. The Films use of parallel editing was pulled off both effectively and effortlessly. Many times throughout the movie the audience is introduced to two or more scenes happening simultaneously in different locations. The corresponding scenes eventually meet into a climax, and the rising action into the climax is extremely productive in this film. Because of these parallel scenes, the audience is left in the dark as to what is really happening in each location, and this creates an extreme level of unnerving suspense and tension. This is not an easy feat for any filmmaker to pull off, but the tone and pace of each shot played well off each other, and helped to build suspension.

Unlike many thrillers/ horror movies, the story line of this film was not easily predictable, and the plot twists took me by complete surprise. The level of surprise in this film is definitely what helped me stay so engaged into the film all throughout.This is the type of film that you could see more than once without growing sick of it, and I can see myself watching it again within the near future. If you are a fan of thriller movies, I highly recommend giving this one a watch and I promise it will not disappoint you.

My Rating

9.5 out of 10


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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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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 …

My 5 Go To Summer Films

With the world being such a crazy place right now, I have definitely found myself watching more movies recently. So I decided to compile a list of a few of my favorite films I have watched this summer so far, along with a few films I find gravitating toward every summer.

1. Dirty Dancing (1987)

This film has been a go to summer movie for me for years. This movie embodies a carefree summer mentality, and it’s always an enjoyable watch for me. It’s a go to if your craving a good summer romance film, that also deals with important social and family dynamics.

2. Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

This summer was my first time watching this film. However, since then I have seen it twice now and I would not mind watching it again. Peanut Butter Falcon perfectly balances its comedic moments, dramatic scenes, and heartwarming moments to create a balanced summer film. This film is such a joyous and entertaining watch, and it will definitely get you in a summer mindset.

3. Stand by Me (1986)

Not only is this film one of my favorites of all time, but it’s been a go to movie for me for a very long time. This film embodies a coming of age film that will make you reminisce on your own childhood summers. Running around and getting into crazy situations with childhood friends.

4. The Florida Project (2017)

This was another first time watch for me this summer, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. This is another perfect coming of age film that focuses on the power of childhood imagination. This film will also make you reminiscent of your childhood, and it will definitely resonate with you long after the credits roll.

5. RV (2006)

This was one of my favorite films as a kid, and it still remains on my favorite list to this day. It’s definitely a go to for me when I need a pick me up or a good laugh. This film will have you laughing till your stomach hurts, in a good way. It’s also a perfect family friendly film with really important lessons and themes.


It was definitely hard to pick just five perfect summer films, but these are the ones I have been gravitating towards the most recently. What your your go to summer films?


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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 …

Sixteen Candles (1984) Review

Synopsis

With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread. Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake (Michael Schoeffling), but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), the only boy in the school, unfortunately, who seems to take an interest in her.

Release date: May 4, 1984

(USA)Director: John Hughes

Featured song: If You Were Here

Screenplay: John Hughes

Producer: Hilton A. Green

My Review

Like Most John Hughes movies, this film will immediately transport you back into the 80s. Molly Ringwald once again did an incredible job in this “girl next door” role. However, Anthony Michael Hall carried a lot of the film with his acting and well versed comedic timing. Overall, the comedy of the film is well balanced and creative, but some of the films jokes have not aged well with time. It’s definitely important when watching this film to consider what the world looked like in the time it was made.

This film contains the character stereotypes of most Romantic Comedies- with the popular boy and girl duo, girl next door, and geek. However, for the most part, the characters are well developed and remain interesting throughout. My biggest complaint is that the love interest, Jake, is so underdeveloped as a character. His performance is very monotone and boring, which makes it hard to root for him and Molly Ringwald’s character to end up together in the end.

The other characters of this film are well established and add a lot of comedic moments to the film. While most of the characters are developed as very flat, the characters’ distinct natures and characteristics clash with one another for added comedy.

My favorite thing about this film, as is in most John Hughes films, is the soundtrack, and overall atmosphere established within the movie. The costumes, sets, language, and soundtrack compliment each other to create a unified universe within the film. While this film is not my favorite John Hughes movie, it is one I have seen several times now and still enjoy just as much as the first time I saw it.

My Rating

6.5 out of 10


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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 …

Dirty Dancing (1987) Review

Synopsis

Baby (Jennifer Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts, she’s disappointed when her summer plans deposit her at a sleepy resort in the Catskills with her parents. Her luck turns around, however, when the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), enlists Baby as his new partner, and the two fall in love. Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny, but she’s determined to help him perform the last big dance of the summer.

Release date: August 21, 1987

(USA)Director: Emile Ardolino

Awards: Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature

Location: Lake Lure

My Review

This film has been one of my go to summer movies for years. Its memorable soundtrack, dance numbers, well-rounded acting, and charming dialogue creates the perfect entertaining summer film. Overall, I would consider this film to be light-hearted. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of drama in the plot. However, the portrayal of the film’s plot points are done so in a way that doesn’t ruin the films overall relaxed summer feel. The acting in this film is remarkable, and the dancing goes even beyond that.

My favorite thing about this film is that while it’s listed as a romantic movie, and the plot focuses heavily on the relationship between Baby and Johnny, the plot digs much deeper than that. Unlike most romance based films, I wouldn’t call this film a chick flick. There is way more to this film besides the relationship between its two protagonists. In fact, the film also focuses on the roles of social statues, the relationship between baby and her father, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing. Because “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

This film was shot on location at Lake Lure, which added a lot to the film. The whole environment set up by the filmmakers help to create the nostalgic summer feeling from childhood. The coming of age element to the movies plot will easily make you reminiscent on past summer romances, and what it felt like falling in love for the first time.

The film also captures and embodies the well-versed feel and themes of 80s movies. Any audience member watching this film will easily find themselves transported back in time, and most likely tapping their foot along to the music. My only complaint about this film is that it makes me wish I was a better dancer.

My Rating

9.5/10


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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 …