Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges.

Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology on set to try to minimize everything that could go wrong during filming. It’s always a good idea to do test runs of everything before the camera even begins rolling. Once you have all the structure completed for a scene, then you know you are ready to roll the camera.

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


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


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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

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


John Badham’s advice on seducing the actor

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

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

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


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


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Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. He went further to state that the film should be a living organism that breathes and grows throughout all stages of production.

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

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


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

Judd Apatow

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


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

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 important dialogue often gets buried behind an explosive soundtrack. Its definitely true that The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, and Dunkirk all had epic sound mixing behind them. Many people have stated in their Tenet reviews that the sound design was almost deafening and too distracting.

Nolan has made it very clear that he believes dialogue is not the only way to gain clarity of a emotions in a film. In response to critic against the soundtrack in Interstellar Nolan stated, “Clarity of story, clarity of emotions- I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal- picture and sound. I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an usual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film.”

Despite any personal opinions on Nolan’s sound mixing, one can’t argue that he creates a visual experience unlike any other blockbuster films. There is clearly intention behind the specific sound mixing that he includes in his film, and that’s the way Nolan wants them to sound.


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 sounds like a dream. As Jim points out, it allows the filmmaker to have more control over the trailer, poster, and other art forms. He says he views distribution as a continuation of the making the film, and that to him the film is a property that he manages and “rents” around to distributors.

Cummins key advice is to make films as much as possible, especially short films that are similar/ relevant to the dream feature film you see yourself making in the future. Not only is this a good way to gain quality experience, but it also allows you a chance to become more known in the filmmaking community and build connections. According to Cummins, it doesn’t matter how good a filmmakers script/ product is, but it’s all about the value that the filmmaker holds.

Cummins last key of advice is to find those you trust and COLLABORATE with them, and above all less take every opportunity you have to gain experience and grow as a filmmaker.


Listen to Jim Cummins full Podcast with Film Riot Here

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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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 …

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.