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


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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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 …

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

Little Women (2019) Review

Synopsis

In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

Release date: December 25, 2019

(USA)Director: Greta Gerwig

Box office: 206 million USD

My Review

The first thing that caught my eye with this film was its exquisite costume, and set design. Within the first few minutes of the film I felt transported back in time, and the acting played a huge part in this as well. The chemistry between the March sisters added a lot of depth to the film, and the sisterly bond between them came to life on the screen to create an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

The one thing that I feel this film had a difficult job executing was its non-linear plot. With the first few time jumps, I had an easy time following along. However, at several points in the film it was initially unclear to me if the film was taking place in the present or past for certain scenes. I understand what the film was trying to go for, but its execution was a bit off.

The acting in this film was spectacular, and every character was both believable and realistic. Despite Jo March being the protagonist of the film, I still felt that every other character was established and well- developed. My only complaint with the acting is that it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable watching Florence Pugh act as young Amy. Her acting all throughout was great, but it was weird seeing her play a little girl with such a deep voice.

Overall, this film is creative and worth watching. The story is engaging and kept my attention all throughout. The production design is extremely well thought out and brings the entire universe of the film to life. However, I’m not sure if I would watch it again in the future. I think once was enough for me.

My Rating

7.5 out of 10


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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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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 …

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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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 …

The Florida Project (2017) Review

Synopsis

Set in the shadow of the most magical place on Earth, 6-year-old Moonee and her two best friends forge their own adventures, while Moonee’s struggling mom and a kindhearted motel manager protect the kids from the harsh reality that surrounds them.

Release date: October 5, 2017

(USA)Director: Sean Baker

Budget: 2 million USD

My Review

A24 has produced some amazing films recently, which made me very excited to give this film a watch. I had heard such amazing things about it, and I was not left disappointed. The film was perfectly unified in its visual presentation. The color grading, camera work, set, costumes, etc. all blended in flawlessly with one another. The balance of comedy, drama, and realism was wonderfully suited. Although some people criticize the ending of the film, I found it to be the perfect wrap up to a story centered on the power of childhood innocence and imagination.

This film is heavy to watch. While the children in the film are often unaware of the dangers and reality around them, as an audience we are fully aware and that makes the film heartbreaking to watch at times. However, the audience watches the three protagonist children of this film battle their surroundings through imagination, which is touching and serves as a constant reminder that it’s possible to make the most of a situation.

The acting in this film stood out to me. I know this was both Bria Vinate and Brooklyn’s first film role, and they both did an incredible job. The close knit off screen relationship between the two was very apparent when watching the film. They appeared like a genuine mother and daughter duo, with a deep love and understanding between the two of them. William Dafoe did a phenomenal job as always, and his performance was chilling and heart-warming.

The ending of this film stuck with me as well. While some people are critical of its unrealistic and random ending, I thought it was perfectly accomplished. The entire film centers on the power of childhood innocence and the power of imagination. At the end of the film Moonee faces her harshest reality, and we as an audience member are experiencing it alongside her. The audience receives the chance to see things through Moonee’s eyes and experience childhood imagination through the sudden and imaginative ending. Real like doesn’t always have happy endings, and the only way the audience will receive their happy ending at the end of this film is if they escape to a place of unrealistic imagination.

My Rating

8.7 out of 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 …

Honey Boy (2019) Review

Synopsis

When 12-year-old Otis begins to find success as a television star, his abusive, alcoholic father returns and takes over as his guardian, and their contentious relationship is followed over a decade.

Release date: November 8, 2019

(USA)Director: Alma Har’el

Box office: 6.8 million USD

My Review

This entire movie has a metaphorical and artistic feel. The thing I found most fascinating about it was the level of catharsis that came as an audience member watching Shia LaBeouf play the role of his real-life father. The movie flowed together nicely to tell one collective story, and I liked that the plot of the movie did not occur in actual time. There was something special about watching the character cope with these emotions in the past as flashbacks.

This film is extremely imaginative which helps the flashbacks resemble memories. Human memory isn’t perfect, and Shia LaBeouf was inspired by his own childhood memory to write the script. When watching the scenes with a young Shia it felt like I was inside his head reflecting on his childhood along side him.

Right off the bat it was easy to see that this film possessed a lot of symbolism and metaphors. Especially with the image of a chicken. Several times in the movie it felt random at first that there was always a chicken in several scenes with Shia. However, it became apparent that they meant the chicken to symbolize his father, and that his father had always been an ever looming presence in his life. While I think they may have overplayed the chicken imagery a bit, I like what they were going for.

The acting in this film will stick with you long after the credits roll. Noah Jupe does an outstanding job portraying a young Shia LaBeouf, and the psychical resemblance between the two was pronominal as well. There were several times when watching Noah Jupe I felt as if I was watching a young Shia on the set of Even Stevens. He did an amazing job picking up the similar mannerisms.

There is something really special in watching Shia play his father. It’s apparent that the two had a flawed relationship in real life. Shia wrote this script when he himself was coming to terms with the PTSD of his childhood. He told the director he wanted to go even further with it and play the role of his father so he could try to see through his eyes and empathize with him. I totally saw the catharsis in Shia’s eyes throughout the film and that was extremely powerful to watch. It’s something that has definitely stayed with me after watching the film. I would definitely watch this film again!

My Rating

9.2/10


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Too Loud For The Crowd?- Criticism On Nolan’s New Film Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” has had a successful opening weekend. However, there is still much debate behind the sound-mixing of Nolan’s films and “Tenet” doesn’t appear to be any different. In a recent article with Indiwire, Zack Sharf explores the sound mixing of Nolan’s films and the reasoning behind it. Many people often complain that …

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 …

Stargirl Review (2020)

Synopsis

A teen develops a budding romance with Stargirl Caraway, a free-spirited new student who makes a big splash on her first day of school.

Initial release: March 13, 2020

DirectorJulia Hart

Music composed byRob Simonsen

Adapted fromStargirl

ScreenplayJulia HartJordan HorowitzKristin Hahn

My Review

Overall, this movie is very lighthearted and enjoyable to watch. As a whole, the film was cute and not too predictable. However, it lacked strong character development and the music numbers were painful to watch.

I think the major reason the musical numbers felt so awkward was because the transition from a normal scene to a musical number was almost non existent. There was no smooth transition between the two which felt very unnatural. The actors also seemed very uncomfortable during these scenes, which was painful to watch. The songs were catchy, and I taped my foot along to the music, but watching it was the hard part.

Overall, the acting was good. Especially with movie mainly consisting of young actors/ actresses. However, I do think that Graham Verchere (Leo) was a lot stronger than Grace VanderWaal’s (Stargirl). I’m not sure if that’s becuase I was such a huge fan of the Stargirl book as a kid, but her performance seemed off and inconsistent at times.

One of my major issues with this film was the lack of development for Archie’s character. The audience was given very little background or information about him, and I know the book goes into a lot more detail. Because of this I felt a lack of interest and investment into his character.

I did thoroughly enjoy watching this film, and it definitely is not a typical cheesy high school movie. Which is something I greatly appreciated about the film.

My Rating

4.5 out of 10

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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 …

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 …

Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Synopsis

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.

Release date: June 21, 2019

(USA)DirectorJosh Cooley

Featured songYou’ve Got a Friend in Me

Initial DVD release: October 8, 2019 (USA)

Box office: 1.073 billion USD

My Review

Pixar did it again with this film. I reached for a tissue several times throughout this movie, and I throughly enjoyed every second. I had low expectations before watching this film, because I felt like Toy Story 3 ended perfectly. However, Toy Story 4 really surprised me and I would now consider it one of my favorite Toy Stroy movies.

I love the direction the filmmakers took with Bo Peep. I enjoyed seeing what happened with her between the film, and her character growth made sense. I wasn’t aware that a reunion scene between Woody and Bo Peep was much needed until after watching it on the screen. Overall, Pixar did a phenomenal job re creating everyone’s favorite Toy Stroy characters. However, my one main issue with this movie was the way Buzz Lightyear.

In the original Toy Story film, Buzz thinks he is a legitimate space ranger and not a toy. As the movies go on Buzz comes to terms knowing that he is in fact a toy, and the audience sees him mature and grow from the first film. In Toy Story 4, Buzz believes his “inner voice” comprises the buttons attached to him. While this added an element of comedic relief to the film I felt that it was backyard progress in Buzz’s maturity.

One issue I had with Toy Stroy 2 and 3 was that the villain in both these films seemed similar to me. However, the villain of Toy Story 4 was endearing and new. To me Gabby Gabby was such an interesting villain becuase as an audience member I truly sympathized with her. While the audience may not agree with what she’s doing, it’s easy to understand and grasp why she’s doing it. I found myself rooting for her to find her own child to love and treasure.

After watching the ending scene of Toy Story 4, I felt the character’s stories truly came to a final resolution. There were no more loose ends left at the end of the film, and I truly felt it was a perfect ending to the Toy Story series. The characters and story within this film captured my attention the entire time. I was completely emotionally invested into this film, and I appreciate how much it had me equally laughing and crying.

My Rating

8.4 out of 10


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