If You Want to Become a Better Filmmaker, Study Bad Movies

It’s no secret that studying films can improve your own filmmaking, but which ones should you watch for maximum educational impact?

The obvious answer to that question is that you should watch the great ones, the films that have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. It makes sense, right? If you want to be the best, you have to study the best. While that may be partly true, exclusively watching well-crafted films might not actually be the best use of time if your intention is to become a better filmmaker.

In a new video, Darious Britt challenges the notion that we should only watch good movies, and argues (very convincingly) that bad movies offer a treasure trove of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers because they show us what we should avoid doing at all costs. Check it out:

Read More

A Tasting Menu of Female Representation:

The Bechdel:

two or more women talking to each other about something other than a man

The Mako Mori:

at least one female character with her own narrative arc that is not about supporting a man’s story

The Sexy Lamp:

a female character that cannot be removed from the plot and replaced with a sexy lamp without destroying the story.

Chef’s Specials:

The Anti-Freeze:

no woman assaulted, injured or killed to further the story of another character.

The “Strength is Relative”:

complex women defined by solid characterization rather than a handful of underdeveloped masculine-coded stereotypes.


The 10 Most Useful Mobile/Tablet Apps for Screenwriting

In September, we listed the top ten most useful apps for on-set production. We’re back at it again, but this time it’s all about screenwriting. While traditional software is still the bread and butter of the industry, there’s something to be said for the ability to make changes on the go. Screenwriter Michael Johnathan Smith agrees, telling Macworld  he, “loves the idea of being on-set and quickly making changes to the script right then and there without whipping out a heavy duty laptop—or at least being able to work on a script that’s currently on my laptop at home.”

Yes, there’s the industry standard Final Draft, but there are hundreds of other apps that can help turn an idea into a finished script. SSN filtered through all the options to find ones that offer a range of features and ease of use for everything from brainstorming to copyediting.

Read more

See The Short that Was Shot on the Last Batch of Fuji Film

Hunter Hampton has made a name online for himself as a cinematographer and video artist. Now he’s making a concerted effort to finally do the personal projects he’s always wanted.
Amends is Hunter’s first short film as a director, a passion project that began 7 years ago. I spoke to Hunter on a cloudy afternoon about coming up through music videos, how DVXUser was his film school and why shooting on film feels right to him.

Read more

The State of Storytelling & the 3 Essential Truths Screenwriters Should Know

To all screenwriters, take a good look at the chart below for a blast of clarity. To sum up the stats: a writer in Hollywood has better odds of starting in an NBA line-up than getting your project onto any screen (large or small) in today’s market.

 As we all know, the seven major studios finance and/or produce about 26 films a year on an average budget  of $200 million per film. They average an amazing 90 percent return on investment. So, franchises do make  sense, especially if you have stockholders. Movies, in this price range, are literally printing money. Even with  the bad press from a box-office dud, it’s still a safe risk even when considering John Carter or Lone Ranger.

To no one’s surprise this past weekend, Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron triumphed worldwide with $191  million in the U.S. — the second highest opening ever in spite of, (pundits opined), Saturday’s grand slam  sports day including the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, NBA, NFL, and the Kentucky Derby.

That audience was composed of 59 percent men over the age of 25. Is this all the audience there is? Could it  be that there’s an even bigger audience to attract than Hollywood’s imagination can envision? Of course, we all know Hollywood is in the business of franchises. Who can blame them? After all, they need  to keep the lights on. Besides, we all need a super-power to hate… but from whence do we begin the  revolution?

“If you build it, they will come” still applies… Well, perhaps, this is where the fault lies. Are the screenwriters “building stories” anymore that people want to come to? The screenwriters, themselves of course, will point to the extreme closed-door polemics of getting “inside.” There’s that.

Read more

Natalia Leite on “Bare” and working with Dianna Agron

Article link

Writer/director Natalia Leite may be getting a lot of attention now for her debut feature film Bare, starring Dianna Agron and Paz De la Huerta, but we’ve been fans of Natalia’s work for some time. Along with her Purple Milk co-producer Alexandra Roxo, Natalia starred in the charming and funny web series, Be Here Now-ish. We got a chance to talk to Natalia right after Bare premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City to sold out crowds.

AfterEllen: So I am very infatuated with this movie. I say infatuated because it’s the best fit. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and replaying certain scenes in my mind. The rush of colors, the music—it gives me butterflies. How did the idea for the film even come about?

Natalia Leite: Well, it was the first feature screenplay that I ever wrote. It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for a while. It’s not an autobiographical story, but it’s very much inspired by a moment in my life when I was figuring out what kind of path I wanted to carve out for my life and the relationship I had with another woman. Realizing that I could reinvent myself and that I could be the creator my reality, and how empowering that was. Sort of learning through that relationship gave me a lot of strength at times and brought me to where I am today. I think also the process of making the film gave me reassurance of that, like you can do this. You can break out of whatever sort of mold or path that other people have may have set out for you.

AE: It’s incredibly hard to get a film made, especially ones with queer leading characters, which is why so many filmmakers are turning to crowdsourcing. How were you able to make Bare?

NL: I had done crowdsourcing for a web show that I was in and I put together called Be Here Now-ish, which was a very successful crowdfunding experience, but it’s so much work actually for not a lot of money. For this film, Alexandra (Roxo) and I had actually met two investors of the film through Be Here Now-ish, and sort of established a relationship with these investors and came back to them with Bare, and they loved the film and put money into it. And then one person introduces you to the next person, so we raised the money from a few investors and it’s a small indie film. The pieces just started falling together and we figured out how to make it happen.

AE: So you did it the old fashioned way.

NL: Yeah the old fashioned way, and it worked!

AE: That gives me such great hope.

NL: You know I think a lot of it is trust, too. These people who put money into this feature, who invested in it, it had been a year of hanging out with them and talking to them about our project and building a friendship. They really trusted that this would be worthwhile and they had seen us hustle on other projects. That’s really important. Then it’s great because it’s this family of people who support your work it just keeps growing. That’s the ideal scenario, right?

Working as a 3rd Assistant Director

The 3rd Assistant Director, also known as the TAD, has the main responsibility of assisting the 1st Assistant Director and the 2nd Assistant Director. The following list outlines the responsibilities of the 3rd but know that this list can grow depending on the size of the project and the amount of background talent being used.

Skills Required of a 3rd Assistant Director:

  • Communication: No matter which role you are playing within the AD department, you need to be a great communicator. If all of the AD’s are keeping in communication with one another then the day should run quite smoothly. As the 3rd you want to know when you need to have background ready and when you need to have them traveling to set. You need to communicate with the 1st when you are on the floor, maybe directing traffic or background talent. You will also need to communicate with the background performers, you may have a lot of bodies to deal with, you need to keep them focused and together, let them know what is going on and when.
  • Organization: This again is a skill required to work in any position within the AD department but as the 3rd Assistant Director  you need to organize your time as well as organize people. There are shoot days that might employ hundreds of extras and background performers, on these days it is up to you to organize and work with them. You will more than likely have help on these days but it is up to you to keep everything together and moving. Part of staying organized is keeping in communication with your 1st and 2nd, know when and where you need to have your talent and get them there as efficiently as possible.
  • Confidence: As the 3rd you will be dealing with a great deal of people on any given day. You may be organizing crowds of hundreds. You need to be the voice in charge, you need to lead with confidence. If you are quiet or confused in any of your directions then the talent with be too. Be authoritative, give clear and concise directions, call on the help of production assistants if necessary.
  • Patience: Keep your cool, things are going to get stressful and sometimes pretty hectic. Be patient and stay calm. If you panic or stress then so will everyone else. Your confidence and patience needs to transfer over to everyone else, they need to feel like you know what is going on and that they can come to you for direction.