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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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 …

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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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.


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

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Review

Synopsis

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

Release date: February 14, 1991

(USA)Director: Jonathan Demme

Film series: Hannibal Lecter

Story by: Thomas Harris

My Review

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

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

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

My Rating

9.5 out of 10


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

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

My 5 Go To Summer Films

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

1. Dirty Dancing (1987)

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

2. Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

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

3. Stand by Me (1986)

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

4. The Florida Project (2017)

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

5. RV (2006)

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


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


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julie taymor: the cross universe of film and theatre

In a recent podcast episode with The Treatment, Julie Taymor discussed her new movie “The Glories” and how she uses storytelling to externalize what characters are feeling on screen. Julie Taymor is a Tony Award-winning director of both theatre and film. Her goal as a creative is to master the fantastical elements of the film …

r-e-s-p-e-c-t on a film set: advice from mimi leder

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Mimi Leder, an American director and producer, gave her best advice for keeping a healthy and productive film set. Mimi’s key piece of advice was to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve, and to always show them your appreciation. She pointed out that the cast …

Sixteen Candles (1984) Review

Synopsis

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

Release date: May 4, 1984

(USA)Director: John Hughes

Featured song: If You Were Here

Screenplay: John Hughes

Producer: Hilton A. Green

My Review

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

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

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

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

My Rating

6.5 out of 10


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working with what you got: Advice from the creators of Faith Based

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, the creators of the film Faith Based (Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason), gave constructive advice to filmmakers who think they need to wait till they make it into Hollywood to make their film. The filmmakers discussed how their original plan for the film was to shoot …

Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges. Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility. He went on to state that as a director it’s okay …

The Pick-Up Artist (1987) Review

Synopsis

Serial pick-up artist and commitment-phobe Jack Jericho (Robert Downey Jr.) takes lessons in the art of seduction from aging player Phil Harper (Danny Aiello). Jack finds a formidable opponent in Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald), a fiery tour guide who has a retort for his every line. Though she initially spurns his advances, Jack finds a way in when Randy’s alcoholic, compulsive gambler father, Flash (Dennis Hopper), ends up in serious debt and deep trouble with gangsters in Atlantic City.

Initial release: September 18, 1987

Director: James Toback

Screenplay: James Toback

Box office: 13.29 million USD

Producers: Warren Beatty, David Leigh MacLeod

My Review

I have seen nearly every Molly Ringwald film from the 80s, and when I first stumbled upon this particular film, I was curious why I had never heard of it. Well now I know, it’s because this movie is awful! With a cast of Molly and Robert Downey Jr. I thought this would be a phenomenal film, and while the acting was mostly impressive, the writing was AWFUl. The actors tried their best to make a badly written script better, but the plot was still all over the place and pointless. This was definitely a film I had to force myself to watch all the way through.

I’m not sure why this film is even called the pickup artist because twenty minutes into the film Robert Downey Jr’s character already falls for the girl and gives up his player lifestyle. Instead, this film is less of a romantic comedy and more of a gangster film, in the sense that Ringwald’s dad owes a gang boss some money and Downy Dr. vows to help. This is the fundamental conflict of the film, and it has nothing to do with the lighthearted pickup comedy I thought this film would be.

The plot of this film was so confusing as a whole. In the film Downey mistakes Ringwald’s father for her boyfriend, and she doesn’t correct him till the end of the film. With how all over the place and inconsistent the plot was, I honestly found myself confused if this character was Ringwald’s dad or boyfriend. This is just one example of how the plot was a little confusing and inconsistent.

After watching this film, I did some research into its background. I found out that the writer/ director was trying to tie in roles the actors had played in other films into this one. Which is why I think this film did so well during its release in the 80s? Because the audience understood its references. However, the film has definitely not aged well, and this just made it hard for a modern day audience to follow.

One impressive thing about this film was the soundtrack. From the first song, the soundtrack was transformative and brought me back to the 80s. However, overall the audio recordings of this film were very sub par. Several times the audio was quiet and hard to hear compared to the background music, and there was lots of background and white noise.

My Rating

2 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 …

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) Review

Synopsis

Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) watches helplessly as his wife and child are murdered, by Union men led by Capt. Terrill (Bill McKinney). Seeking revenge, Wales joins the Confederate Army. He refuses to surrender when the war ends, but his fellow soldiers go to hand over their weapons — and are massacred by Terrill. Wales guns down some of Terrill’s men and flees to Texas, where he tries to make a new life for himself, but the bounty on his head endangers him and his new surrogate family.

Release date: June 26, 1976

(USA)Director: Clint Eastwood

Story by: Asa Earl Carter

Film series: The Outlaw Josey Wales

Screenplay: Philip Kaufman, Sonia Chernus

My Review

The short and sweet intro to the films conflict at its beginning gave me the instinct that this would be a phenomenal film. That instinct was not wrong in the slightest. This Western film showcases almost every “stereotype” of a Western film, and it does so in brilliant ways. The plot kept me interested into the film’s story, and the film is full of dynamic characters that come to life on screen.

The editing in this film surprised me in a positive way. I noticed lots of cross dissolves in the battle scenes, and this added an interesting feel and look to the film. It helped the action new and exciting and avoided becoming monotonous. The limited use of music was something that stood out to me in the films editing. There are a lot of films whose musical score completely adds to the emotion and intensity that the audience feels. However, in with a lack of music in this film the filmmakers still excelled at investing the audience into its story.

As a character Josey Wales was extremely intriguing and mysterious. Right from the beginning of the film Josey gains the sympathy of his audience members. Throughout the rest of the film the audience witnesses Josey on a journey of revenge and self growth. Clint Eastwood brought the character to life and made it his own.

I was expecting the whole film to focus primarily on the conflict of revenge in its plot. However, the plot to this film was way more complex than that, and the intertwining of several plots and stories added a lot to this film. While this film had many of the Western film traits, it showcased them in new and innovative ways. For example, unlike most Western films, the Native Americans in this film are not the bad guys. In fact, the film helps she’s some sympathy on the heartbreak they endured.

My Rating

8.5 out of 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 …