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Weekend Longform Video: Screenwriting Lecture by Abi Morgan of “Shame”, “The Hour”

Still from Abi Morgan's lecture on screenwriting for BAFTA Guru.

Still from Abi Morgan’s lecture on screenwriting for BAFTA Guru.

Abi Morgan is one of the best writers out there, equally solid in television, film, and stage.  I’m incredibly impressed by the writing for The Hour: dense writing makes it light and fast-paced without being staccato or rushed, and the characterizations are incredibly rich.  In a large ensemble cast, every character is treated with great respect and shown as terrifically human, flawed and also wonderful.  (I’ve been thinking about how it’s done all week.  I’d love to see those scripts, but, man, try googling “scripts the hour”, and watch utter keyword failure in progress.)

In this video, she speaks about screenwriting in a talk for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

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Weekend Longform Video: The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963)

Barbet Schroeder and Claudine Soubrier in Eric Rohmer's The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963).

Barbet Schroeder and Claudine Soubrier in Eric Rohmer’s The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963).

The Bakery Girl of Monceau is the first of Eric Rohmer’s series of Six Moral Tales, wherein a series of young men in pursuit of one woman become distracted by another.  Bakery Girl stars a very young Barbet Schroeder, founder of Films of Losange, the production company behind many films of the French New Wave, and later a director of narrative and documentaries.  Eric Rohmer was one of the oldest directors of the French New Wave, after an unsuccessful directing career in the 1950s.  Here, in the short form, he’s experimenting with editing and story before the mostly feature-length later instalments in his series.  The film is both a low-key slice of life, and fresh-feeling.  Criterion describes it as “Simple, delicate, and jazzy… shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the ‘unknowable’ woman.”

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Weekend Longform Video: Night Mail (1936)

Detail of Pat Keely's poster for Basil Wright's Night Mail (1936).

Detail of Pat Keely’s poster for Basil Wright’s Night Mail (1936).

Night Mail shows both the daily operations of two of the most efficient infrastructures ever developed, mail and rail, and something that today sounds so fantastical that it could have walked out of a steam-age fantasy or magical realism novel: a rolling post office speeding down the rails all through the night, humming with postal clerks, never once stopping as it delivers and picks up mail from each station along the route.   Continue reading


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Weekend Longform Video: Filmmakers in Television (IFP Film Week, 2012)

Rose Troche (The L Word) and Daniel Minahan (Game of Thrones, True Blood) at IFP Film Week, discussing transitioning from independent film to television.

Rose Troche (The L Word) and Daniel Minahan (Game of Thrones, True Blood) at IFP Film Week in 2012, discussing transitioning from independent film to television.

Time again to make a cup of coffee and sit down for the Weekend Longform Video.  This week, it’s a panel discussion from the IFP about filmmakers transitioning into television, with Rose Troche of “The L-Word” and Daniel Minahan of “True Blood” and “Game of Thrones”.

It’s a great panel; I’m glad the IFP posted this one, it was one of my favorites that Film Week.  The panelists are incredibly open and practical about network, cable, and independent film, in terms of money, contracts, and process.  And given the increasing role of cable television in production and distribution, this is pretty useful stuff. Continue reading


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Weekend Longform Video: Song of Ceylon (1934)

Still from Basil Wright's Song of Ceylon.

Still from Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon.

While we’re on a bit of an expressive montage editing kick, here’s one of the documentaries Karel Reisz alluded to, Basil Wright’s Song of Ceylon, made in 1934 for Ceylon Tea Propaganda Bureau.  Which is, firstly, an amazing name for an organization, and, secondly, should signal that we’re going to be seeing images of the kinder, gentler side of British colonialism here.  (Wright doesn’t seem unaware of the problem; in an interview reported by Senses of Cinema, Wright says, “[In the Caribbean] I wished I could have managed to say more about the diabolical capitalist or British Colonial policy which was always so nice and fat. I got a bit of it into Song of Ceylon the next year, but, you see, if you’re working for the Empire Marketing Board in the British Colonies, you can’t do it.”)  However, it’s also widely acclaimed as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the great documentaries, and Sri Lankan filmmaker Lester James Peries calls it the greatest documentary about Sri Lanka ever made in Sri Lanka. Continue reading


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Weekend Longform Video: Media for Thinking the Unthinkable

Bret Victor creates a camera path from a dataset.

Bret Victor creates a camera path from a dataset.

It’s time for the weekend longform video, something that’s a bit too lengthy or too chewy for a weekday, and really needs a cup of coffee and time to sit down with it over a couple of days.

This week’s is a talk Bret Victor gave in April at the MIT Media Lab on the design of graphical forms of scientific ideas.  It covers a lot of ground, from the mental need for mathematical notation, to the invention of infographics, to improvising physical models of your data, to new interactive graphical communication in scientific papers.  There’s some rich stuff in here for thinking about communicating understanding and intuition, particularly for interface designers, educators, coders, and researchers.

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