Sunday, 20 April 2014

Good-Bye, New York City

Luci Westphal has packed up her apartment in Brooklyn and moved out of New York City after 15 years of calling the Big Apple "home".
My first cut of the "Best of 3 Years of NYC" was over 9 minutes long... too many great places, too many meaningful shots. Consequently, I had to chop a lot - kind of with one eye closed. I can't say that this is my best material or that these are the most significant place of NY - it's just what ended up on top while making lots of Sophie's choices. To see more of Brooklyn, Manhattan and even Queens (sorry, Staten Island and The Bronx, I never got around to film you for this series) and to make up your own mind as to what you like best, please check out all the In A Brooklyn Minute videos here:
Here's her final New York video. The song featured is the instrumental version of "Hell Came For Breakfast" by Jason Matherne, who provided most of the music in the series. Check out his Soundcloud page for lots of free music downloads:

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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Christopher Walken on Gene Kelly

Christopher Walken has appeared in over 120 movies and TV shows. Before he was an actor, he was a dancer. Here he tells us a little bit about screen legend Gene Kelly.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Wilhelm Scream

The Wilhelm scream is a film and television stock sound effect that has been used in more than 200 movies, beginning in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion.

Sheb Wooley played Private Wilhelm in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River. In a scene where Wilhelm is shot, he lets out a scream that has been used as stock scream footage in numerous films. The scream has become known as “The Wilhelm Scream,” although the scream appeared in an earlier movie, Distant Drums (1951). Wooley played an uncredited role (Private Jessup) in Distant Drums, and he is listed as a voice extra for that film.

Thus, Wooley “is considered by many to be the most likely voice actor” for the scream, according to various sources, including Wooley’s website. The scream is so well-known that sometimes filmmakers add it to their own movies because they think it is funny. If it is correct that the scream originally came from Wooley, he has indirectly appeared in numerous movies, as shown by this video collage of The Wilhelm Scream.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Daniel Nelson: Posters

Daniel Nelson is a graphic designer/web developer from Sweden and the creator of the From up North website. He collects images from around the web and arranges them in useful subsets. Take a look at these:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

5 Skills Not Taught in Film School

Brenna Erickson is a film producer/screenwriter, who owns a film company called Em.K. Productions. Her first feature film, Anatomically Incorrect was released in 2011.

These simple practical steps toward becoming a more efficient filmmaker were first published by Raindance New York. ________________________________________________________________________

There is a LOT of work that goes into filmmaking and when you are working with bare bones equipment and production staff, there are just some things you need to know how to do. These are the things I know how to do, or have had to learn.

Be Prepared!  Boy Scout Rule.

1) Survival Training/Basic Tools

So far, in my personal experience, the most important skills for filmmaking can be learned either through the Boy Scouts or Military Basic training. Learn how to tie knots, start a fire, the buddy system, how to not get lost in the woods, leadership skills, the ability to solve problems creatively, and organize a team of people are all ESSENTIAL skills when on set. 

My essential basic toolkit always contains the following:

Yes, I am a female filmmaker.  And, yes, I have my own personal toolbox that comes with me to set. Every shoot.

Your toolbox should contain the following:

1) a cordless drill (for screwing stuff in place)
2) hammer (for making sure nails don’t get loose, or adjusting where pictures and mirrors are hung to reduce camera glare)
3) wrench set (basic taking apart things or putting them back together)
4) screw driver (for when your drill won’t do the trick)
5) duct tape (It fixes everything.  No really. It’s first aid, car repairs, plumbing, lighting, fixing clothing, hanging temporary pictures, ghetto-rigging anything... I’m not kidding.  If you can’t afford Gaffers Tape, have 2-3 rolls of duct tape at all times and you almost don’t need anything else.)
6) box knife (for cutting things, like tape)
7) extension cords (more than 1.  And 2-3 power strips to power your lights, camera, monitor, laptops, and phone chargers)
8) gloves (for holding lights, or for when it’s a cold shoot)
9) pliers (for bending or straightening wires, pulling nails, etc)
10) safety pins (wardrobe) and clothespins (for holding gels)
11) plastic tarp (for protecting floors when you are throwing messy things around, or for creating shade in a scene for your actors aren’t squinting)
12) paint brush (for touch-ups on set in case the paint chipped during transportation)
13) a blanket and/or a sweatshirt  (to keep the actors/actresses warm and happy)

And when there are props to build, you should know how to use a circular saw, a nail gun, and a paint roller/tray.

Having these skills qualify you as a competent adult human being.

2) First Aid

Being able to do basic first aid comes in useful, especially when making films out in the woods. Being able to put a splint on a sprained finger, having band-aids, tweezers to remove that bee stinger. And I hope you never need to know the correct way to tie a tourniquet.
    All of these prepares you for the Worst Case Scenarios in filmmaking.
    Always keep some bandaids in your wallet so you have them on hand when actors get blisters or Make-up burns themselves on a hair straightener. Or a PA cuts themselves with the sandwich knife.
    It’s just common sense. You can also use them to fix some wardrobe problems.

3) Sewing

Please learn how to sew.  If a costume rips while on set, you need to be able to sew the button back on.  At the very least, learn how to safety pin it back together so it doesn’t show. Learn the basic stitches, how to thread a needle, and how to replace buttons, hooks and eyes, and do some basic fitting and tailoring.  If you are buying costumes, knowing how to fit them to the actors always improves the overall look of the film. Especially for emergencies on set.
    It’s better to be prepared  than needing to stop filming for a wardrobe malfunction!

4) Cooking

Nothing says “I love you for working for free” to a film crew like bringing them home-cooked meals or cupcakes.
    A fed crew is a happy crew, and if you can’t afford craft services, it’s actually cheaper to make food yourself and bring it to set rather than buying McDonald’s for everyone. It’ll be healthier and taste better too!
    Personal Story: One of my brilliant actresses met us on set, coming straight from work. She hadn’t had time to grab dinner and was thrilled when I opened up a tupperware full of steaming hot chicken, broccoli, and rice. She did a beautiful performance and was very appreciative and easy to work with.
    Cooking is a nice gesture to thank people for working for free.  It reminds them that everyone is a team, and the Director and Producer are there to make sure everyone is happy and taken care of.

5) Communication

Being able to communicate effectively will make organizing everyone on set easier and keep expectation realistic.  Knowing your way around Social Networking sites are a bonus because you can find crew members, and promote new projects more easily, as well as build up an online reputation.  This makes distribution easier as well.
    After you have mastered all of these skills, you are officially a Jack of all Trades, or just a very very useful Filmmaker.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Interview with Andrew Baines

Andrew Baines describes himself as 'a quasi-surrealist painter and an installation artist.' He was born in the United Kingdom, then migrated to Australia with his parents shortly after, and now lives in Adelaide.
    Andrew has gathered people aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s on the beach in order to portray their lives, roles and 'sea of knowledge,' in a bid to challenge the stereotypes of ageing. He has arranged lines of people sitting on toilets, led by politician Amanda Vanstone, to highlight the need for public toilets at Henley Beach; he has placed other politicians, led by Alexander Downer, in red doorways on a beach; he has
lined up two dozen religious leaders of various faiths holding hands along the water’s edge, including both the Anglican and Catholic Archbishops; and he has collaborated with the West Australian Symphony orchestra to play a symphony in the sea at Cottesloe beach.
    Andrew is currently working on moving his art into the realm of film. ________________________________________________________________________

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Colchester, Essex, and grew up at Grange in South Australia (by the beach).

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

My Dad was a semi-professional soccer player and electrician. He taught me all about being a competitor and a winner! My Mum was a housewife, who had a great affinity for the arts/culture via painting, reading, scrabble and music. Mum showed me a more refined life. I had two brothers, six years younger. There was too big a gap, so I didn’t quite relate, but they were good for taking photos of in dangerous and surreal situations.

Where did you go to school?

Grange Primary and Seaton High School.

When did you first take an interest in art?

From the word go! My Mum put pencils and paper in front of me as soon as I could sit up.

What was your first paying job as an artist?

Aged ten, I was cartoonist for the Western Suburbs Schools Soccer Newsletter. Two dollars a cartoon. There was money to be made from art! Due to the credibility of this, I was offered the profile job as artist for the Grange Primary Newsletter. A position of much acclaim and revered by my peers but, unfortunately, no pay.

What was harder: arranging for cows to stand around in the sea, lining up politicians sitting on toilets, or organising a symphony orchestra to play while ankle-deep in the ocean?

Putting cows in the sea was, by far—logistically and bureaucratically, the most difficult. Politicians are easy. Most of them will do almost anything for publicity. Orchestral musicians may look pompous up on stage, but in real life they’re crazy!
    Cows had to be put on a strict water acclimatisation regime for a couple of months before the event. Well, that’s what the dairy farmers told me. Much red tape had to be cut through to put a herd of cows on a public beach. We also had to employ two cow paddy cleaner-uppers. Cows are shitting machines!
    I had the problem of hundreds of onlookers wanting to get happy snaps of cows in the sea. No matter what I said, they wouldn’t get out of the picture. Also, cows have an unnerving habit of kicking backwards and thrusting their big heads forward. I learnt from experience to come in from the side.

You almost set art aside for soccer, yet soccer doesn’t appear to be a major influence on your work. Do you retain a sense of conflict there? Do you have any plans for a soccer-themed exhibition?

No plans for the present. My soccer and my art poles apart. When I played soccer it was all about white line fever, youth, adrenaline and passion. I played like I was at war and I hated being beaten. In my art, there is no competition, it’s all about my philosophy of life, stopping to contemplate my place in the big picture, almost holistic and even spiritual. My art puts me in a good place, soccer frustrated me.

In one place you talked about art “bringing out an inner naivety.” That’s something budding screenwriters struggle with. Instead of allowing their own interests to emerge naively, they write reworked versions of Pulp Fiction or Friday the 13th. Do you have any advice on how one goes about releasing the inner child?

I believe, if you cut the metaphorical umbilical cord from your family, friends and peers and dismiss their beliefs and opinions, you can come close to listening to your inner psyche. Your true individuality is waiting to be unearthed. I use the beach on dawn as a meditational vehicle to help me come up with my own ideas and small epiphanies. I think it’s all about letting go of all our trained beliefs. The ideas are very raw, but sometimes quite unique, and over a period of time you gain continuity and an insight into your true self. You know when you’re becoming a true individual because the general public thinks you are on the edge or eccentric. I like that!

Do people often comment about similarities between your work and Pink Floyd album covers?

Yes. A few years back, I was in Sydney and I stumbled across a book titled Taken by Storm. It was the art work for Pink Floyd covers and many more bands, by photographer Storm Thorgerson. I could see similarities in my thinking.
    The problem with any of the arts is that critics try to put your work into a category, or compare you to another artist. I suppose that’s just how the human mind works; everything as to have a place, surrealism, post modernism, etc. At the end of the day, we’re all influenced by similar events and circumstance no matter the time or place. If you come up with an idea, go online. There’s a good chance you will find something similar on the other side of the world.

You have expressed a desire to direct surrealist short films. What prompted that interest?

I’m compelled to evolve and take my ideas to a bigger stage, that’s why I create surreal installations, to take my concepts off the canvas, to give them life. I see film as 2D art on steroids. If film wants you to cry, you cry, if film wants you to laugh, you laugh. It’s ability to toy with your emotions is overwhelming. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to venture into this medium. I want to see if my ideas can come to life. My painting concepts are very successful; I feel strongly that they will make the leap to film with some success. 

What are three things you wish someone had told you about making a living from art when you were starting out?

That’s sounds like a simple question... The sooner you start the journey, the sooner you will discover the answers.
    My success has come via life’s milestones. When I was young I painted the beach. I had success only due to the fact people related to the subject. Now when I paint, I create concepts that deal with issues like the GFC, work/life balance, escapism, existentialism. Issues I knew nothing about as a youngster. Being true to yourself and painting what you know and feel is a good start. It’s easy to have moderate success via copying someone else's formula. You will never make the art books though.
    The only thing I know for a fact is: Don't paint for money, paint for yourself. If money’s meant to come, it will. If not...?

What are your ten favourite (favourite, not ‘best’) movies of all time?
King Kong (1933)
Enter the Dragon (1973)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Easy Rider (1969)
Seven Samurai (1954)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Manhattan (1979)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
From Russia with Love (1963)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Salvador Dali: "I see—a rhinoceros."  Midnight in Paris (2011)

What’s next for Andrew Baines?

Next, I will collaborate with director Carlo Petraccaro to produce my first short film, Escape of the Corporate Battery Hens. I wrote the story, Carlo helped me turn it into a script. It will be introduced via a ten minute documentary about the philosophy of my art and background. All I have is ideas, I have minimal knowledge of film. Carlo will mentor me along this journey. I can't wait to see it come together. I have so many surreal ideas to add layers to the film. I want it to be like a serious Monty Python film, one that can be appreciated on many levels, by many ages. I already believe in this project; I know it will be good! But, of course, Yin and Yang have raised their head. All the excitement has been crushed by trying to raise finance. I’ve never had to ask for money before. Already I’m scared...


A black and white herd of Australian dairy cows have been lead to a beach in the name of art. The animals are part of an unique work of art created by surrealist artist Andrew Baines. (Oct. 24, 2013)


Monday, 14 April 2014

"The Loudness Wars"

Learn something about sound.

This is a short mini documentary by Paul Waters of Brown Elephant Creative about the state of recorded music. Topics covered include recording methods, "The Loudness Wars", mp3 versus wav files, and the vinyl record resurgence.

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