The story goes like this: young filmmaker Colin Levy wrote to his hero Martin Scorsese several years ago, asking which films he should see in order to broaden his cinematic horizons. Scorsese’s assistant sent over a list of 39 foreign films that the director had personally recommended, along with the following note: “Mr. Scorsese asked that I sent this your way. This should be a jump start to your film education!” Thanks to Bleeding Cool & Andrew Erdle.
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Martin Scorsese’s statement supporting Kodak’s continued production of film stock, courtesy of our friends at The Playlist.
We have many names for what we do — cinema, movies, motion pictures. And… film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye — really, that could be easily done. Too easily.
It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital informaton will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.
Our industry — our filmmakers — rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love. —Martin Scorsese
Preach the gospel
Paul Thomas Anderson on screenwriting. The real deal, folks. Read and be thankful.What’s the most common mistake in written dialogue?
Complete sentences. Bad movie dialogue speaks in complete sentences without any overlapping or interruption, and avoids elliptical speech, which is truer to how people actually talk.Did you consciously train your ear to be sensitive to how people talk?
I probably did when I was eighteen and was just starting as a writer. Actually my mission then was to rip off *David Mamet, because I foolishly believed Mamet’s dialogue was how people really talked. It took me a while to realize that Mamet had developed a wonderfully stylized way of highlighting the way humans speak. People immediately think of dialogue when they hear Mamet’s name, but I think the strength of his writing is his storytelling—he uses very solid, old fashioned techniques in setting up his stories. House of Games, for instance, is one of the best scripts ever written, and it’s the story structure that makes it so brilliant.When you’re writing dialogue, does it take on a life of its own and move in directions that surprise you?
Absolutely. I’m showing some of my cards here, but I often write scenes without knowing where they’re gonna go, and as I write I start acting and sort of improvising. It’s great when the scene takes on a life of its own and frustrating when it doesn’t, because the passages you have to labor over are invariably worse than the ones that seem to write themselves. This notion that writing happens in the rewriting is something I’ve never agreed with. I’ve always hated rewriting. Rewriting is for pussies! Send it out, zits and all, is my feeling.What elements must a story have in order to interest you?
I like stories with good old-fashioned roots that obey the rules—you know, “the gun on the wall in the first act goes off in the third,” and so forth. My favorite directors are the ones who know and embrace those rules, then pile something completely punk rock on top of them—François Truffaut, for instance.Do you have any interest in adapting material, or do you intend to be the sole author of all your scripts?
I’m open to adapting material, although the one time I tried it I wasn’t too successful—I adapted the Russell Banks novel Rule of the Bone for Carl Franklin. Having been through an experience with **Hard Eight where I felt my work had been violated, I sort of became this master protector of other peoples’ work, and I couldn’t make myself tread on the bible, which was Banks’s book. I couldn’t get a grip on the fact that I was writing a movie, not a love letter to the book.Do you have structured writing habits?
Absolutely, and they revolve around finding a pattern of behavior I can depend on. Waking up at the same time every day, having certain rituals to go through that free me up so I don’t even have to worry about putting my pants on—it’s all about routine. I write in the morning and can put in three or four focused hours a day. It’s limited to that because I smoke myself to death when I write, and smoking makes me tired. At the same time, there’s almost something superstitious about smoking, as if the cigarettes are a good luck charm. It’s probably very silly. —Paul Thomas Anderson, Creative Screenwriting
You gotta love him for being so open about his creative process.
More important, for an aspiring filmmaker, is reading. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read. If you don’t read, you’ll never make a great film. Not just blogs and Twitter, etc. If you do not read books, you’ll never develop a sense of story, rhythm, characters. Start with poetry like the Georgics of Virgil and go from there, all the way to Joseph Conrad and the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of Kennedy.
The Art of Close-Ups with Edgar Wright (via SlashFilm)
A really cool video essay ranging from action film montage close ups to using CUs to force timing in scenes. For filmmakers and film buffs alike, narrated by someone who is famously and successfully both: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End).
Imagine we are sitting in an ordinary room. Suddenly we are told that there is a corpse behind the door. In an instant, the room we are sitting in is completely altered: everything in it has taken on another level; the light, the atmosphere have changed, though they are physically the same. This is because we have changed… This is the effect I want to get.
A wonderful video essay by the Criterion Collection examining the bleakness and bittersweet melancholy found in so many Christmas movies, focusing on three lesser known films: Mon oncle Antoine, My Night at Maud’s, and A Christmas Tale.