Spielberg’s Duel: First time filmmaking gold

I am not embarassed in the slgihtest to raise my hand – both hands – as a lover of the work of Steven Spielberg’s work.

His first film was Dual, back in 1971, and he struggled with what all first time filmmakers struggle with: limited resources.

Over at (the most excellent, often quoted) Cinephilia and Beyond website is a very comprehensive article covering all the aspects of this film. They even include a PDF copy of the script!

The post mines heavily from the inciteful book about the subject (creating Spielberg’s career) and the film

If you like the article then definitely get the book. It is a film education in and of itself.

Great tutorial on image composition

Ryan Connolly over at FilmRiot recently recommended this tutorial and it is pretty amazing. In 30 minutes it teaches you pretty much everything you need to know about composing your scenes. It is aimed at 3d/Computer Graphics artists, but, since filmmakers in a sense ARE 3d graphic artists I found everything Andrew Price says in this tutorial spot on.

Andrew breaks down the tutorial into 3 principles – Focal Element (what you are looking at), Structure (where you put it) and Balance (how it fits in with the rest of the scene). Master this – or at least be aware of it – and your images (still, animated, live action video) will be that much more appealing. If I wasn’t so lazy I’d do a matching video with film examples, but, I am lazy.

Director, meet DP. DP, meet Director

Over on the FilmCameraCourse blog they’ve got an article that helps two key creative people – the Director and the DP – understand each other’s perspective.

The DP handles the technical aspects of the shooting the film, the director the ‘creative’ aspects (ok, it’s not that cut and dried, but you get the idea). But, because of the whole left-brain, right-brain thing that the great creator saddled us with, sometimes these two prime movers of a movie have a gap of understanding.

The article gives 6 handy tips that each should remember when dealing with the other.

Now, if you are BOTH a DP and Director then I guess you have to remember these things when talking to yourself.

Amazing Masterclass in Guerilla Shooting (on a GH4!)

Sherif Mokbel has shot a great little short film using a Panasonic GH4.

But, perhaps more important to the world of indie filmmakers than his finished project is his incredible generosity in detailing every aspect of this shoot, from planning to post.

This is a one page on-set masterclass. I truly learned a lot about process and technique from this post!

Thank you Sherif!

Oh, and the film looks great.

The Director’s Visual Script Breakdown

Good article over on the curiously named ‘Waondering’ (ah! I get it ‘wandering and wondering’!) blog about how directors break down a script visually for shooting. It’s just a brief introduction, but it gives some examples and can get you started on this fascinating and useful practice! This, combined with the trend to do animatics, might help you flesh out not only your visuals, but also your story.

It’s a lot cheaper to experiment on paper than on set!

Feature article on ass-kicking director Lexi Alexander

She’s a former Martial Arts champion and has been a stunt woman and an actor. And then she moved on to direct some pretty heavily charged films. Oh, and speak out in DEFENSE of Pirate Bay founders.

Suffice it to say, Lexi Alexander is a slightly different breed of (female) director.

Over at Fast Company they’ve got a good interview and profile of Alexander, her past and possible up coming projects. It’s an interesting glimpse into her background, and I’m especially interested and encouraged by her stance on piracy.

Well worth the read!

5 skills as an on-set filmmaker in training

Over at DSLRVideoShooter, Caleb Pike has a good video covering some basic things to be aware of as you are starting out as an assistant on set. The video and article is too jargon-laden for my tastes (as jargon is terribly offputting to newcomers and I find that most of the time jargon is used to show how cool you are.) But, jargon aside, I think Caleb has some good points.

The video is a little superfluous as the points are on the page, but, if you’ve got 13 minutes to spare then you can pick up some bonus goodies by watching.

Gotta Love Edgar Wright – Examples of Creative Comedy Directing

Somehow Edgar Wright snuck up on us – from his humble beginnings at Raindance, I’m proud to say – and has become one of the most creative (comedy) directors around. This little video by the always insightful Tony Zhou is a mini-film school…or should I say ‘film challenge’.

Tony nails some important aspects of Edgar’s style, and challenges us to do the same (or better!) when we go out to direct. And it’s not just comedy – take these examples and use them in any genre, just adjust the level.

I’m a little disappointed there’s no examples from Paul, but oh well šŸ˜‰

Also – the best Ryan Gosling joke ever at 2:19.

Avoiding ‘first director’ problems

Often, watching the first film from a director can be a frustrating experience as you watch them fall into all the same traps that many, many other first-timers make.

Learning how to overcome these will really be the hallmark of a director who knows how to move onwards and upwards and one that is doomed to circle around and around the same old problems.

Over at Screencraft.org is an article that hopes to give some pointers on this exact problem, and, despite the fact that it is a little simplistic it does raise points that all filmmakers should be aware of.

A good read!

Learning from the best – Ridley Scott speaks

There’s a cool YouTube channel I’ve stumbled across.

TheĀ FilmSchoolCommentsĀ channel has commentaries pulled from DVDs or extras, but, it’s pretty cool because finding these extras is not always easy.

These are the commentaries that got me interested – they are from Ridley Scott. These 9 (!) commentaries cover a wide range of filmmaking topics.

Great stuff!