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 from their own houses using iPhones, and how it grew into a full-blown feature film.

Throughout the entire pre-production process they all decided they were going to make this film no matter what, even if no producer picked it up or was willing to work with them. All three agreed that this is such an important attitude for filmmakers to have regarding every project they may encounter.

They also gave some detailed advice on the overall pre-production process. When creating a script, all three men agreed that it is crucial to write your script knowing which resources are available to you. The locations, characters, props, and everything else with your film must be tangible and cost productive. Like many other filmmakers, they advised that a lot of time be spent in the pre-production phase, and to get as much feedback as much as you can early on in the process.


Listen to Film Riots Podcast with Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason Here


Advertisements

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 …

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 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


Advertisements

Eli Film Review (2019)

Synopsis

A boy becomes trapped in a haunted house while undergoing treatment for a rare disease.

Initial release: October 18, 2019

Director: Ciaran Foy

Budget: 11 million USD

Producers: John ZaozirnyTrevor Macy

Screenplay: Ian B. GoldbergRichard NaingDavid Chirchirillo


My Review

The setting and overall feel of this movie was eerie and mysterious. The filmmakers excelled in creating this atmosphere in every way possible. However, this movie felt like two different contrasting films in one and I felt there were inconsistencies with the story and characterizations.

My biggest complaint about this film was the lack of foreshadowing and clues given. Up until the last 30 min of the movie I thought the movie had a psychological approach of Eli’s mental state, and whether or not he was actually seeing things. I did not see the ending conflict of spirituality, nuns, and the devil coming into play.

The only foreshadowing I really saw was the disconnect between Eli and his father, making it apparent that their is some kind of strain on their relationship. It was also apparent that Eli’s mom was overly religious and that there was something off about the young girl who came to visit Eli. However, it was really hard to put these clues together in order to decipher the plot twist at the end of the film and it still totally comes out of nowhere.

The main inconsistency within the characters I found was the mother’s choice in trying to get Eli to leave toward the end of the film. She clearly is not aware that the Dr. will most likely kill her son in the third phase of her plan, but she transitions from desperately getting him to leave to convincing him to stay, and then helping him leave again. It was just too back and forth for me and didn’t stay consistent to the plot and her development as a character.

This film also had a lot of references to other well- known films. For example with Eli’s name being lie spelled backward I got very strong Shining references. And the whole plot twist of Eli being a spawn of Satan reminded me a lot of Rosemary’s Baby. Which felt a little predictable and unoriginal.

The camera work and transitions between shots was very visually pleasing, and I really enjoyed watching this film from a production standpoint. I really liked the use of mirrors and spirits to create an intense feel of suspense, and it definitely had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Overall, this wasn’t a bad film and all of my issues with it are plot centered.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5


Advertisements

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 …


Advertisements

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

Advertisements

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 …

3 Lessons To Learn From Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s Rule

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

Suspense Vs Mystery

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

The Power of Birds Eye View

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


Advertisements

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 …

Advertisements

The 3 Stages of Production

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

Pre Production

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

Production

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

Post Production

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

Advertisements

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 …

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.


Advertisements

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 …

What Did I Just Watch? The Platform (2019) Analysis

Synopsis

Prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.

The Platform review: Angrily scratches the Snowpiercer and ...

Initial release: February 21, 2020

(Taiwan)DirectorGalder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Language: Spanish

NominationsGoya Award for Best New Director

AwardsGoya Award for Best Special EffectsGaudí Award for Best Visual Effects

My Review/ Analysis

Wow. There is a lot to this film. Overall, this film is making lots of statements on society and humanity. In the film, prisoners are kept in a cell like blocks with a roommate for an extended amount of time. Every day a platform full of food travels down the platforms from top to bottom. The more food the top levels eat, the less food there is for the lower levels.

The Platform (Netflix Movie Review)

The film is making jabs and comments on the society of the real-world, however; the filmmakers created a society all of its own within the pit itself. There is a set of rules to follow within the society of the pit. For example, each level has two minutes to eat as much food as they want before the platform will move to another level. If any food is kept on your platform and being saved for later, the people in charge will either freeze you to death or heat you to death until you return the food to where it belongs. Despite these strict rules, the citizens of the pit are free to do as they choose. There seems to be no repercussions for murder, or psychically harming another person within the pit.

There are 333 platforms in the pit, and with two people per level that equals 666 lives living within this hellish society. This is symbolic of the hellish society humans have created in the real world. The people in the film are very individualistic minded and are very little for one another. If everybody ate only what they needed, everyone would have enough. But the people in the pit seem to have very little regard for one another.

Trailer per The Platform (Il Buco): una prigione verticale porta ...

Despite those at the top platforms, having experiences life at the bottom, they still hoard food and hold no regard for those below them. Even though the members of the pit physically get to experience life at every level they still posses strong selfish actions when at the top.

Immediately this made me think of the recent Pandemic the world is facing. People hoard food and toilet paper, leaving very little for others. It was a scary parallel realization. The film is stating that as a society we only look out for ourselves, and the majority rarely consider how those around us are doing. While we don’t live in a pit like society, the film suggests no matter who is put in the pit the same pattern will occur over and over again. Those at the top will always take too much and cause pain and suffering for those below them.

Towards the end of the film the audience meets a little girl who is hiding in one of the lower platforms. She appears to be the daughter of the woman who rides down the platform every month looking for her child. The audience is told that they accept no kids to take part in the pit, causing the audience to believe the child was born within the pit. Therefore, making her a direct product of the pits society.

The Platform Movie Ending Explained (2019 Netflix Film) | This is ...

At the end of the film, the child is sent back up on the platform to serve as a message to those in charge of the pit. This suggests that the only hope for a change in society lies within the younger generations of the world. However, the girl in the movie has to go on this journey alone since she solely is the message. The girl represents the hope of humanity to overcome the darkest truths of human nature. The only hope for change is through youthful eyes and innocence.

My Rating

3.5 out of 5

I highly reccomend giving this film a watch. However, I don’t think I would ever sit down to watch it again.

Reasons to watch 'The Platform,' a Spanish thriller now on Netflix ...

Advertisements

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 …

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Film Review

Synopsis

Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the knot on Halloween. When the newlyweds return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), disturbed uncle (John Alexander), and homicidal brother (Raymond Massey), he realizes that his family is even crazier than he thought.
Image result for arsenic and old lace
Release dateSeptember 1, 1944 (USA)

My Review 

If you have not seen this film… Go Watch It Now! This movie has been on my top 10 list of films for years now.

My favorite thing about this film is the plot structure. They based this film off on a play and that shows. This play follows the old style of comedy with dramatic irony. The audience is fully aware of what is going on in the movie, however a lot of the actors are left in the dark. Which leads to a lot of confusion among the characters within the film and adds to the comedic element for the audience.

Something I love about this film that I think more plays and films need to be inspired by is all the comedic timing and use of facial expressions. Image result for arsenic and old laceCary Grant’s facial expressions throughout this film makes for some of the best comedic moments. This is also something that is known to be one of Cary Grant’s signature strengths.

The plot of this film is quick paced, and there are several stories lines going on all at the same time. Newly wed Mortimer Brewster is trying to leave on his honeymoon, his aunts are murdering elderly gentleman, his uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and his crazy brother Jonathon shows up  on the run from the police. While the overall feel of the movie is left very light and comedic, the action within the play is insane and the audience gets to watch along on the journey.

I absolutely adore the acting in this film. Besides Cary Grant’s amazing performance, everyone else does a fantastic job. There is not a bad acting performance in this entire film. Image result for arsenic and old laceJosephine Hull and Jean Adair as the two aunts is my favorite. These two women do not disappoint in this film, and their characterization is amazing. They are nothing short of being sweet elderly women in this film, which makes it even more of a comedic shock to find they have single-handedly poisoned and buried several men in their cellar. 

Lastly, the camera work and lighting of this film are unique and appealing. Much like the play, this film takes place solely inside the Brewster’s living room. While we see action take place in a few other locations, most of the film is set in one area of the house. However, the film does not get boring and as an audience member it’s hard to notice that the camera has not left the one room. The camera work is very innovative and creative.

My Rating 

4.5 out of 5

Image result for arsenic and old lace