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Caught up in an information culture.

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Interview with Eric Rohmer (1981)


“It started raining as the sequence in the park was finishing.  I hadn’t predicted the weather we would get as we’d be leaving the park.  So I said to myself, ‘Why not shoot in the rain, since our equipment is light?'”

Eric Rohmer’s films are deceptively simple, and usually the result of painstaking pre-production and agile improvisation by both cast and crew on set.  I like his films for thinking about process, because there’s a certain transparency to them: his films feel stripped down to the sparest collaboration of word, image, and sound, leaving the thought process of the filmmaker quietly visible on-screen.  Here his discusses his process varying over several of his films, in an interview recorded for France Culture in 1981. Continue reading



Kudos to IndieWire for turning an eye not just on women directors, but on a largely invisible demographic: older women.  Their article, “Heroines of Cinema: 15 Female Directors Who Made Their First Feature After Turning 40“, looks at women who started their careers at an age when they’re working against the stereotype of the next rising young star.  A commenter mentions a practical issue that I was glad to see raised: women tend to self-deprecate where men self-promote, leading women of the same skill level to be judged differently during hiring, promotion, and grant applications in male-dominated fields.  Anecdotally, older women tend to push back against that social norm a bit more, which ironically might give older women an edge over younger women in getting their first film made.

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Wim Wenders’ 50 Rules of Filmmaking

Wim Wenders at a screening of Pina, at 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Wim Wenders at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo by Sam Javanrouh (Creative Commons license).

There’s always a wonderfully gentle, human core at the heart of Wim Wenders’ films.  Even when I don’t like one of his films, it’s indelibly his, a very personal statement from a filmmaker with a lot of integrity.  Wenders is an artist worth learning from.  So when I saw MovieMaker Magazine had his top 50 rules of filmmaking, I rushed over.  It’s a wonderful mix of the conceptual and the practical, and much of it is centered around understanding yourself and the people you’re working with.  My favorites:

1. You have a choice of being “in the business” or of making movies. If you’d rather do business, don’t hesitate. You’ll get richer, but you won’t have as much fun!

2. & 3. If you have nothing to say, don’t feel obliged to pretend you do. If you do have something to say, you’d better stick to it. (But then don’t give too many interviews.)

4. Respect your actors. Their job is 10 times more dangerous than yours.

6. Your continuity girl is always right about screen directions, jumping the axis and that sort of stuff. Don’t fight her. Bring her flowers. Continue reading

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I really enjoyed Dan Mirvish’s tongue-in-cheek and immensely practical take on making small indie films, “8 Rules on Being a Locavore Filmmaker”.  Stay close to home, fake it with what you’ve got nearby, keep everyone’s commute short, don’t act like a big production company shipping people and things all over the country, and use your short commutes for badly-needed exercise during post.  It’s not just budget constraint (although it’s often that, too).  You pick your battles when you’re making a film, and there’s a lot of overhead that goes into the logistics of travelling.  When you’ve got a small team working on the film, moving things around can end up being a huge drain of both time and money, and the simpler you keep it, the more of your resources can go into what shows up on screen.  Joss Whedon’s making art films in his kitchen between Avengers movies; it’s not the minor leagues to think small and work out of your garage, it’s defining your resources and prioritizing where you put them.

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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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Murch: “Frequently, accidental things that Anthony [Minghella] discovered during filming suddenly emerge as talismanic and essential, even though at the time of shooting, they are tangential and unplanned.  The English Patient, for example, begins with [a B-camera POV shot] and it ends with another B-camera point-of-view…  I think if at the time of shooting Anthony had tapped the camera operator on the shoulder and said, ‘You’re shooting the beginning of the film’… they might have gotten a little flustered thinking they have to make it more significant.  But all of this gets revealed in the high-pressure cauldron of the editing room. Godard has a great phrase for it: the transformation of chance into destiny.”

Minghella: “This process has been remarkable on Cold Mountain, because we seem to have reduced the material by 50 percent…”

Murch: “More.”

Minghella: “More than 50 percent, without actually touching the vertebrae in any shape or form.”

–Walter Murch, interview from Minghella on Minghella by Timothy Bricknell

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Why Zoraida Roselló is a filmmaker

Still from Zoraida Rosello's short on why she makes films.

Still from Zoraida Roselló’s short on why she makes films.

Spanish filmmaker Zoraida Roselló on why she’s a filmmaker, for the European Women’s Audiovisual Network.  Beautifully done, 90 seconds that encompasses Zoraida’s artistic eye, personality, and a lifetime of loving film.  (Also, a geologist turned filmmaker?  Lady scientists represent!  She has an wonderful eye not just for human subjects, but also for the natural world.)

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Behind the scenes of Walkabout, from Criterion.

Behind the scenes of Walkabout, from Criterion.

“Nicolas Roeg set out into the Australian outback with a skeleton crew and a script just fourteen pages long. Working as his own cinematographer, Roeg used only natural light to capture his young stars interacting with the mysterious and beautiful landscape.”  Criterion has a fantastic image gallery behind the scenes of Walkabout – and this intriguing bit of information on how the film was made.

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“…if there was one single lesson to be extracted from the process of cutting The English Patient, it was that I overshoot.  Walter [Murch] gave me a stopwatch after that film, which I could use to time the script of The Talented Mr. Ripley, and clearly I can’t use the stopwatch either, because that film was also wildly overshot.  More thrillingly, it was also the case with Cold Mountain, although the length of the screenplay has crept down from project to project.  It has taught me many things, not least that it’s hard to fight your own sensibility.  But I’ve also learnt that there’s some elaboration that I add to the screenplay when I’m shooting, despite not being conscious of doing anything other than collecting what I’d written down.  I often feel I’m shooting very starkly and I worry that there isn’t enough there.”

–Anthony Minghella, interview from Minghella on Minghella by Timothy Bricknell (emphasis mine)

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10 Lessons on Filmmaking from Director Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky; photo by Adrian Araya

Photo by Adrian Araya, Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

The “Ten Lessons” interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky over at Filmmaker Magazine is thoughtful and altogether wonderful.  He takes a strong stance on the filmmaker as artist, as poet, but not an impractical one.  It’s perhaps a stronger stance than I take myself – filmmaking is an interdisciplinary art, and filmmakers, to my mind, have more roles than that of “artist” – but it’s refreshing to see someone who doesn’t approach film as a sort of artistic realpolitik, and it brings home what I’ve come to strongly suspect from seeing the approach of different directors, which is that filmmaking as a craft, and to an extent as an industry, is largely a reflection of the process and values you bring to it. Some of your choices may add to your challenges getting work done, but you do have a lot of choice about the nature of the business you’re in.

I’ve left a few extra quotes in this one to get a little deeper into his points, but, as always, the full discussion is over at Filmmaker Magazine, and goes quite a bit further into the role and nurturing of imagination, and the value of working with family and people you know, and, er… Marcel Marceau. Continue reading