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 to level with your cast and crew and admit when you don’t know everything. In fact, he admitted that in several points of his career some of his best cinematic moments came from speaking with cast and crew and brainstorming together.

When describing his first feature film, Alieu the Dreamer, he described how throughout the entire pre production and pitching process he went forward with the mentally that no matter what happened he was going to make the film anyway. Fully believing this calmed nerves and helped him to gain confidence when pitching to producers.

I think everyone has heard the phrase don’t think just do. But Ledbetter really brings this mentality to life and gives humbling advice on maintaining a balance of humility and confidence as an emerging filmmaker.


Listen to Quincy Ledbetter’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


The Pianist (2002) Review

Synopsis

In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.

Release date: December 4, 2002

(USA)Director: Roman Polanski

Featured song: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. posth.

Screenplay: Ronald Harwood

My Review

I’m ashamed to say that it took me so long to a watch this film. The Pianist gives its audience an entirely fresh perspective of what Jews faced during the Holocaust. This film touched my soul uniquely. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and go watch it!

Most movies with a Jewish protagonist during WWII showcase what life was like inside of the concentration camps. However, in this film the audience gains knowledge of what life in the Ghetto was like and what life looked like for the Jews that worked outside of Concentration Camps. I loved getting a new outlook on historically accurate events, especially since this film is based on a true story.

Szpilman in his hiding place

The film centers on Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist living in Poland. As his family is being loaded up on trains headed for Concentration Camps, a Jewish friend of Szpilman’s who became a German Solder pulls him out of the crowd saving his life. The rest of the film follows Szpilman trying to survive in an empty ghetto, getting a construction job working for the Germans, and finally hiding out until the end of the war.

This is not a movie for those faint of heart. There is a reason they rate this film R. It’s emotionally jarring and hard to watch at times. However, for that reason I think it’s crucial for us to watch. The acting in this movie is beyond incredible. Adrien Brody, portrays the protagonist film, and his acting is one of the most believable performances I have seen in a very long time. Whatever emotion his character was feeling, I physically felt in my gut. In fact, there were several times I teared up alongside him. The acting along with the lifelike sets made me feel like I was watching a documentary on the actual family versus actors re-creating the historical events.

Szpilman wanders around an empty Jewish Ghetto after being separated from his entire family

I’ve heard people criticizing this film for having too slow of a pace. However, for me this just added to its realist feel. It felt like the film was occurring in real time, which added to its life like feel. I have nothing bad to say about this film. Have you seen this film? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below.

My Rating

5 out of 5

I would definitely watch this film again, and I highly recommend everyone watch it at least once in their lifetime. This film is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime as of the time I am posting this.

Wladyslaw Szpilman In Real Life

If you enjoy Holocaust centered films, check out my review on Life Is Beautiful. Another film centered on a Jewish family with a unique storyline and perspective.

https://cinematicgeekster.com/2020/04/26/life-is-beautiful-1997-film-review/


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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 …

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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/


Check Out My Insagram!

https://www.instagram.com/cinematicgeekster/


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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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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 …

5 Movies To Help Get You Through Social Distancing

The world right now is a stressful and scary place. Everywhere you look there is news and talk of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s easy to fall into a state of depression and gloom, and to let the stress of everything get the best of you. However, I’m hoping this list of feel- good films can bring a little happiness to your day. As movie lovers film can be a good place to go to for a mental and emotional break from the world.

Frozen 2

Frozen 2 Details | POPSUGAR Entertainment

I think it’s awesome that Disney Plus released this film early on its streaming database. If you have not seen this movie yet, I strongly recommend you go watch it. I have seen this movie twice now and enjoyed it equally both times. No matter how old you are, it’s a light-hearted and enjoyable watch. If you have Disney Plus, go watch it! I guarantee you it will brighten up your day during this stressful time.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off | Gorton Community Center

No matter how many times you watch this film, you will fall in love with it a little more every time. All around this is the definition of a feel good movie. It will have you laughing till your eyes water, sitting on the edge of your seat, and keep captivated until the credits roll.

The Hunger Games (Series)

A 'Hunger Games' Prequel Book Is Officially Coming Out In 2020

These movies are endearing and suspenseful. After watching the first movie of the series, you will not be able to stop until you have seen them all. Which will end up killing a lot of time and allow you an escape from reality. It’s easy to get emotionally invested in these movies, and the story line is very action packed and exciting!

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire' Review: Movie (1993) | Hollywood Reporter

If you need a good laugh, then this film is a must see. Robin Williams once again does a fantastic job in this film, and will have you laughing until your stomach hurts. Not only that, but this is also a very good feel good movie, and it has a powerful message to it.

The Shawshank Redemption

After A 25 Year Hiatus, A Chance To Finally See 'The Shawshank ...

If you need a movie, that will make you cry, then definitely go check this one out. This movie will suck you in from the first scene of the entire movie. It’s a very tear jerking and a feel good film. Check out my full review of this film under the film reviews section of my blog.

Let me know if you give any of these films a try or if you have any more recommendations of films to watch during this time of quarantine and social distancing.

Rear Window Film Review

Synopsis: 

The story of a recuperating news photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder. Confined to a wheelchair after an accident, he spends his time watching the occupants of neighbouring apartments through a telephoto lens and binoculars and becomes convinced that a murder has taken place.

Image result for rear window

Release dateAugust 4, 1954 (New York)

My Review

Image result for rear window

Rear Window is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film and has been on my top 10 list of films for years. My favorite thing about this film is the set. The whole movie takes place from Jeff Jeffereies (James Stewart’s) apartment. Throughout the movie the viewer looks into the lives of his neighbors through Jefferies window and into the neighbors’ windows. All the shots spying on the neighbors are done from a point of view aspect. This is creative and different for movies made during the 50s. The camera shots get very creative. My favorite point of view shots is when Jefferies looks through his telephoto lense on his camera to get a closer look at the lives around him. As the camera cuts from Jeffereies looking out, to what he is seeing the audience sees the images on the screen as if they themselves were looking through a telephoto lense. In this way, the director has taken complete control of the audience and has manipulated how they will watch and perceive the film.

Image result for 180 degree rule

Another creative camera movement this film does an innovative and creative job of accomplishing is breaking the 180 degree rule. In film, we use the 180 degree rule when setting up camera shots. The 180 degree rule says that two characters in a scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. Traditionally, if the 180 degree rule is broken it disrupts the scene and causes disorientation to the audience. However, there is a scene in this movie upon which the 180 rule is broken, causing no kind of distortion. In a scene between James Stewart and Grace Kelly, she crosses over the line and into the other side of the action. However, the way they pull it off there is no disorientation to the audience which is hard to do. 

The acting in this film is totally on par. James Stewart never disappoints, and his acting in this film is extremely compelling. The acting of the neighbors though small roles, are done exceptionally well. Something that’s important in this film is the disconnect between all the neighbors. Throughout the entire film, the viewer sees a world in which all of its characters are stuck inside their own worlds and never fully connect with each other. Image result for rear windowThe only time the neighbors interact is when the death of a neighbor’s dog brings them together. I really appreciated this element of the film because it felt a lot like real life. Typically, we are so stuck inside of our own lives we don’t always notice the small details around us until a tragedy brings us all together.

The last thing I really enjoy about this film is the plot structure. This film flows so effortlessly, and it follows a well put together plot structure. It’s the type of movie in which you forgot your watching a film. Every element of this film flows so effortlessly and ties together. perfectly it’s easy to see that the creators of this film put a lot of time and effort into the films pre-production which paid off.

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5