Saturday 31 May 2014

The Hitchcock Techniques

How to turn your boring movie into a Hitchcock thriller: a look at the basic film techniques of Alfred Hitchcock, produced by Hitchcock scholar Jeffrey Michael Bays. Jeffrey holds an MA in Cinema from La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Unfortunately, part 1 isn’t available to embed, but you can watch it on YouTube here.

Friday 30 May 2014

The Writer Speaks: Billy Wilder

Here is a one hour conversation with Billy Wilder, courtesy of the Writers Guild Foundation.

Thursday 29 May 2014

The mystery of storytelling

How we tell stories seems to be a mysterious process that millions around the world want to be able to do, but 99.9% effectively fail. Why is it so hard for storyteller and audience to be one? What we communicate can change the lives of the writer and the audience. However, why stories matter and how to tell them better may not be as mysterious as it seems. 

Julian Friedmann is an agent. He has worked with writers for over 40 years. He believes understanding that storytelling is more about the audience than the writer, will result in better storytelling.

LSF     Twitter    Website

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Golden Age of Hollywood

A Timeline of Cinema is a documentary web series which follows the history of cinema over the last century. The series introduces landmark films, influential filmmakers, and critical ideas in film theory from cinema's birth to modern day.

In this episode they discuss the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Intro to Drums

Allan Mednard of CDZA gives us the details on two very popular styles of drumming, and demonstrates their rhythms.

CDZA    Tawqer    Twitter    Vimeo

Monday 26 May 2014

The Spielberg one shot

Tony Zhou is a camera operator who was the key grip on Space Nazis Must Die, and who loves movies. He pours some of his energy and intelligence into making videos which deconstruct some aspect of filmmaking. Here it is the one shot or "oner." My favourite one shot isn't that great scene from Touch of Evil, but rather the opening to The Player, in which Robert Altman not only created a ten minute scene, but managed to get the studio off his back by completing it in less than a day, leaving him free to make the movie he wanted.
One overlooked aspect of Spielberg is that he's actually a stealth master of the long take. From Duel to Tintin, for forty years, he has sneakily filmed many scenes in a single continuous shot.

IMDb    Vimeo    YouTube    Website

Sunday 25 May 2014

Pulp Fiction - 20th anniversary

Tempus fugit ! It's twenty years since Pulp Fiction (1994) was first released. I have forgotten the circumstances of where I saw most of the movies I've seen, but I remember the first time I saw Pulp Fiction. It was at the Tea Tree Plaza multiplex, which is part of a Westfield shopping centre, on a Thursday evening. Man, what a ride. The tension of the stabbing-her-in-the-heart scene had me on my feet, a unique experience for me.

The one thing we can never do again is see it for the first time, which is a pity. Next best thing is to watch it for the second, third, fourth, whatever...

If you haven't got time to watch the whole movie right now, here are a few tidbits. First the trailer:

And here are a few extracts to help keep you focused.

Saturday 24 May 2014

How did they write it?

Much of what I know about screenplay formatting I learned from produced screenplays. I'd be writing a scene when I'd run into something I could see and I could say, but I drew a blank on how to write it in a screenplay. So I'd go thumbing back through scripts that I thought might contain a similar situation. I even started collections of extracts from screenplays under themes, just to help me get into that frame of mind. For example, sex scenes, I-love-you speeches, M.O.S. scenes, etc.

For instance, how would you write a scene where one character doesn't speak English? This is how Kevin Wade did it in Working Girl.

Hundreds of dumplings piled on tin-foil platters, waiting on the steam table.  Tess arguing with two tiny CHINAMEN, she in English, they in Chinese with supplicating gestures.

         Also serve!  Yes!
             (shaking their heads)
             (quick burst of Chinese)

Katherine tears in.
Of course, that tiny scene fragment didn't survive into the actual film, but it
did serve its purpose in the screenplay, helping establish character attitudes.
In the film, Tess makes an appearance at the party in her own cloud of steam.

I don't know if you find that sort of thing useful, but I consider it priceless. Someone who had the same basic idea, but executed it to an impressively high degree is Nathalie Sejean. She has gathered over 400 examples from 25 screenplays into an indexed PDF. Every few pages along there is a full page blurb about one of the movies that these lines came from. (Although it's very pretty, I found it disruptive and annoying, but that's just me.) Apart from that, an excellent innovation. You have to subscribe to her weekly newsletter to get your own copy, and you can do that by clicking here.

IMDb    Mentorless    Website    

Mercedes vs Jaguar

A commercial by Mercedes and the reply from Jaguar to it, funny to watch.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Joy Batchelor

An introduction to the life and work of Joy Batchelor on the hundredth anniversary of her birth.

Joy Batchelor (1914-1991) was a director, animator, producer and designer, and one half of the Halas & Batchelor Cartoons Studio, which made the UK's first animated feature film, Animal Farm, in 1954.

Although a crucial figure in British animation, she has for years been unfairly passed over for recognition. This short film made in her honour seeks to redress that balance and to introduce Joy's work to a wider audience.

Probably the most important film Halas and Batchelor ever produced was Animal Farm (1954). It was England's first commercially produced animated color feature (and was allegedly funded by a C.I.A. covert operation). Here is the trailer for that film.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

New Wave

Here is a documentary on the French "New Wave" - La Nouvelle Vague. It was recorded in 1992 and deals with all the French greats: André Bazin, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, Agnès Varda, Jacques Demy.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Journey of Guitar Solo

Mark Sidney Johnson leads us through the journey of the Electric Guitar Solo. With 28 songs spanning over 50 years, this medley takes a look at the ever evolving roll of the guitar solo in western pop music.

Monday 19 May 2014

Rise of the Studio System

A Timeline of Cinema is a documentary web series which follows the history of cinema over the last century. The series introduces landmark films, influential filmmakers, and critical ideas in film theory from cinema's birth to modern day.

In this episode they discuss the studio system and its effects on cinema.

Sunday 18 May 2014

BREAKING BAD - Motivated Camera Movement

I don't know how long this will remain available on Vimeo; it has already been pulled off YouTube by Sony for copyright violation. In the meantime, take a look. It is short, and brilliant.

Saturday 17 May 2014

"Minnie The Moocher"

If you enjoyed Cab Calloway doing "Minnie The Moocher" in The Blues Brothers (1980), you'll be interested to see the original version from the early 1930s.

The song contains dope references which often surprise a modern audience.

She messed around with a bloke named Smokey
She loved him though he was cokey
He took her down to Chinatown
And showed her how to kick the gong around
"Cokey" is a reference to cocaine use, and "kicking the gong around" is an old slang term meaning to smoke opium.

Calloway wrote multiple additional verses for the song, most of which aren't included with the versions we have here. The last verse ends with Minnie being carted off to "where they put the crazies," where she dies. Hence the final line, found in all versions here, except the English one below, of: "Poor Min, poor Min."

Friday 16 May 2014

5 Questions, with Comedy Writing Guru, Steve Kaplan

Steve Kaplan will be one of the featured panelists at the upcoming event: Professionally Funny: Comedy Screenwriting with The Scriptwriters Network on May 28th at the Los Angeles Film School. As part of the promotional buildup to that, I received an e-mail with the first two answers Steve gave to a short quiz about himself. The rest was shown on the ScreenCraft website. I have shamelessly reproduced it here in the hope of encouraging those who can to get along and learn a bit about comedic writing.
Comedy is underrepresented in every actor's life, because it's so bloody difficult to write. ~Michael Caine

1. How did you get started in your career and how did you become a comedy writing consultant?

I actually started in the theater—I co-founded a theater in New York called Manhattan Punch Line. It was a theater completely devoted to comedy—we did plays, presented stand-ups, improv groups, sketch groups. As part of the theater, I taught improv classes to actors, which later evolved into teaching comic acting classes, then comedy writing classes. When I came to L.A., I started teaching seminars in comedy writing, and writers and producers started asking me to give notes on their scripts. And who am I to say no?

2. What does it take to write funny?

Dorothy Parker once put it as “a sharp eye, and a wild mind.” I’d add the perception to see the absurdities of the world we live in, the courage to include yourself as part of that absurd world, and the ability to share that truth with others. And the occasional dick joke.

3. Because comedy is such a subjective genre, how does a comedy screenwriter find like-minded producers?

There are two ways: First, make it easy to find you. Nia Vardalos didn’t just sit down and write the screenplay to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and then wait for producers to call—she staged it as a one-person show and ran it until Rita Wilson and Playtone picked it up. Submit it to The Big Break Contest, or Sundance. Or, and this is the second way, stop waiting to meet a producer, and produce it yourself. And then submit it to Sundance.

4. How has comedy changed over the past couple decades?

Well, things that were once taboo are no longer taboo. But that’s a two-edged sword, because you can’t just rely on shock or gross-out humor to get a laugh. But since comedy is the art of telling the truth about human beings, and since human beings haven’t really changed that much in the past 3,000 years, comedy hasn’t really changed that much either, except for delivery platforms. Pretty soon, we’ll all have an app for jokes inserted directly into our cerebral cortex.

5. What advice do you have for emerging screenwriters breaking into the industry now?

Watch films. Read screenplays. Take an improv class. Get into a writing group. And steal, steal, steal—but please, always call it “homage.”

Facebook    IMDb    Twitter    Website

Thursday 15 May 2014

Posters from Cannes - 2014

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival runs from 14-25 May. Adrian Curry went looking for posters of the 18 films in competition and ended up disappointed. Here are a few examples:

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Interview with Phil Clarke

Phil Clarke lives in London. He is a former assistant director/production assistant who turned to writing. He now works as a story analyst, script consultant, screenwriter and novelist. He has also written non-fiction books on a variety of subjects ranging from execution to maritime humour, from scientific experiments to hostage negotiations.
    These days his main role is as a script consultant, assisting aspiring and established industry writers, ensuring their work reaches a submission-ready standard.

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

I was born in Luton, Bedfordshire. Not the most salubrious of places, but has a decent film pedigree—007 composer, David Arnold, and directors, John Badham and Danny Cannon. I grew up in the sticks on a disused dairy farm—my grandfather's. He was the village milkman.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

A very loving family. My dad was a solicitor, my mum a hard-working housewife, looking after me and my younger sister. No dysfunction to speak of, really. Thankfully.

Where did you go to school?

Dunstable Grammar School
I spent my middle school years at what used to be the old Dunstable Grammar School, attended by the one and only Gary Cooper.

When did you first take an interest in films/stories?

From a very early age. I used to spend hours glued to the small screen. I was fascinated by the colours, the movement, the stories and even the long list of credits at the end of films. I was given a massive film review book as a child and was always found poring over the thousands of entries. I also recall painstakingly writing out the words to Star Wars. One could say this was the first screenplay I ever wrote! Well, more of a transcription, really. I called it Star Words. Oh dear...

What was your first paying job?

This was at Wyevale Garden Centre, following a stint of school work experience. Not particularly green fingered, but I just saw it as a way to get a Saturday job.

What was your first job in the movie business?

Strangely, it was Star Wars! The first episode, The Phantom Menace. I was out of work after being made redundant from a print & design company and bombarded the UK film studios with job-seeking letters. Leavesden Film Studios finally came back to me, offered me an interview to be their studio runner. Two interviews later and the job was mine and they had just become the home of Star Wars. My first day I saw R2-D2 and bumped into George Lucas. It was quite surreal.

You’ve worked on some big shows, including a couple of Harry Potters, a couple of Star Wars, Band of Brothers, De-Lovely, and State of Play. How did you find your way into those jobs?

Well, it all kicked off with Star Wars, as I've said. I then became the studio's Production Liaison fairly quickly, acting as the main contact for all productions on site from initial recce to production wrap. This was a perfect apprenticeship as I got to liaise with all cast and crew on a wide range of productions from movies such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), An Ideal Husband (1999), or Star Wars (1999), to TV shows, commercials and pop promos, working with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Jamiroquai and the double denim-wearing B*Witched

After three years doing this job, I started to get a few offers to join the actual crews on films. I decided to make the leap, getting my first film credit on the spy drama, Enigma (2001) with Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott. This was a big milestone for meI'd made it onto those end credits I'd stared wide-eyed at throughout my childhood.

You have worked with—as someone put it—the ‘cream of cinema.’ What did you learn from some of the famous names?

Good question. I am sure I learnt more than I realise. It's tough to work out exactly what I learned from whom. I guess the overriding realisation that these famous names are ordinary, real people, not demi-gods, the best of whom are genuinely nice folk. This taught me you don't need to be a screaming, pretentious a**hole to make italthough I certainly met a few of these! 
    I learnt a lot from Chris Columbus. I had the honour of working closely with him on the first two Harry Potters as his on-set assistant. As well as showing me how to be at the top of your game and still be a great guy, he taught me how to love baseball. 

Watching Alan Rickman work on set showed me how the best actors immerse themselves in their roles. Unsung crew members that don't exist in the limelight taught me a great deal too. I had the honour of working with one of the best 1st ADs in the businessChris Carreras, a Great White shark with a great film brain.

Who has had the most influence on you?

Ooh, another tough one to answer accurately! I would say my dad has influenced me greatly. His work ethic, his dedication to doing a good, honest job, never to cut corners, has influenced how I work. Many would say I work too hard!

Your main work these days is as a script consultant. Are there any particular genres you specialise in? If someone wanted you to look at their screenplay, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

I have my favourite genres, but I work in all of them when it comes to consulting. As for contacting me, the best waycurrentlyis to email me at: or you can follow me on Twitter: @philmscribe, and I can also be found on both and LinkedIn. After years of resisting the urge to get a website, I'm finally caving in to peer pressure! Because my consulting was initially industry-based rather than helping those outside of it gain entry, there was no pressing need for a webpage, but, as I've branched out, I've realised a stronger internet presence would be beneficial to all. To this end, a website is now under construction, to be launched imminently.

You’ve been working on a novel set in the 17th century over the last few years. How’s that coming along?

Slowly. Though, not through any lack of desire or getting stuck. Because my script consultancy is so involved and all-consuming, it doesn't leave me with much time to dedicate to it. My work with others takes precedence these days. It's a great project though. It started out as a screenplay and did the rounds on both sides of the Atlantic with a few production companies, but while it resonated with many, it was just too expensive to shoot. I then decided if I wrote it as a novel, I wouldn't need to worry about budgets!

What was the best advice you were given at the start of your career?

Something Chris Columbus said about screenwriting has stuck with me ever since. Having been reading a lot of Syd Field, I asked him about 3-act structures and paradigms and he told me to just write an entertaining story. A lot of new writers lose sight of this deceptively simple truth. There's no point writing a story that sticks religiously to a well-used and time-honoured framework if the story itself isn't engaging. If a story entertains then it works.

What are three things you wish someone had told you about screenwriting when you were starting out?

I have been very lucky in that I got a lot of great advice from people in the know early on, so I've never felt like I missed out on certain golden nuggets of wisdom. I suppose one thing it took me a while to work out was that your first draft didn't need to be perfect. I'm a bit of a controlling perfectionist so writing vomit drafts never came naturally to me. Saying that, it's always best to write that vomit draft after you've created a solid detailed outline.

If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book to a newbie writer back in Adelaide, which one would it be?

There are a number of very good books out there, but the one that inspired me the mostprobably because it was the first one I ever readwas Michael Hauge's Writing Screenplays That Sell. It's written in a very open, easy style and demystifies the process, helping you to feel like you can do it. You need this at the start as it can all feel quite daunting.

• What are your ten favourite (favourite, not ‘best’) movies of all time?

Favourite movies? Hard to limit to just ten, so forgive me if I run over.

Braveheart (1995)
Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom (1984)
Se7en (1995)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Casino Royale (2006)
Carlito's Way (1993)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
JFK (1991)
Rear Window (1954)
Heat (1995)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

IMDb    LinkedIn    Stage 32    Twitter

Tuesday 13 May 2014

History of Jazz Piano

This is impressive!

Kris Bowers gives us a comprehensive history of jazz piano from 1898 to 2014, covering over forty jazz tunes and the
pianists who brought them to us.

CDZA    Facebook    Twitter    YouTube    

Monday 12 May 2014

The technology of storytelling - Joe Sabia

Who invented the children's pop-up book? 

Give up? You need to watch this short, short, TED Talk.

Facebook    IMDb    Twitter    Website    Wikipedia

Sunday 11 May 2014

Pre-Classical Cinema

Do you love movies? Maybe you'll love the history of movies as well.

A Timeline of Cinema is a documentary web series which follows the history of cinema over the last century. The series introduces landmark films, influential filmmakers, and critical ideas in film theory from cinema's birth to modern day.

In this episode they discuss the birth of cinema, following its pre-classical roots before the invention of the feature film.

Saturday 10 May 2014

James Cagney and Bob Hope

This great dance and comedy routine is taken from The Seven Little Foys (1955). Who knew Bob Hope could dance?

Friday 9 May 2014

Top 10 Screenwriting Tips From Script To Screen

The Independent Filmmaker Project held its Script to Screen conference in New York City recently. Nick Dawson, Managing Editor of Filmmaker Magazine, was there and he recorded the following words of screenwriting advice from the “Writers’ Roundtable” panel.

During the “Writers’ Roundtable” panel, which featured the writer-directors Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Liza Johnson (Return), Madeleine Olnek (Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same), and Ry Russo Young (Nobody Walks), I took copious notes. I was also busily typing away as novelist and Bored to Death creator Jonathan Ames, The Believer‘s writer-director Henry Bean, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon writer Jen Statsky discussed screenwriting after playing the “Exquisite Corpse” writing game. Many sage words of screenwriting advice were shared, and here are the 10 most essential.

1. Try out different styles

Said Liza Johnson, “Writing is free. Just to keep working and finding out what kind of styles fit for you is very beneficial. Making a feature film is a long project, so you have to make sure you’re going to like it.”

2. Don’t second guess your audience

“I don’t think about what’s commercial,” said Leslye Headland. “I think, ‘Will this question I’m asking in this movie that I find interesting be interesting to other people?’” Johnson agreed, “If you try to anticipate a market, your idea is already over. People will think, ‘I’ve already seen this.’ ”

3. Make something new

After acknowledging that the act of screenwriting inevitably involves borrowing from other people’s work, Jonathan Ames said, “Try to make each line and scene as unique as possible.”

4. Commit 100% to your project

“You have to completely be in love with what you’re doing,” said Ry Russo Young. “You have to listen to the voice in your head. Before I start a screenplay or directing a movie, I ask whether I’m totally behind the movie. If I were to be pushed off a cliff, would I be glad that this were my last movie?”

5. Keep it lean and mean

“The best advice a writer can get is ‘Cut, Cut, Cut,’ so that you can get to the good stuff,” said Ames. Henry Bean shared this opinion, stating, “It’s astonishing how much you can cut and still tell your story.”

6. Listen to your gut

When taking people’s notes into consideration, don’t blindly adhere to their suggestions but instead think about how you’d really feel about making the proposed change. Said Bean, “I have a rule about rewriting: don’t do anything you don’t believe in.”

7. Find the note behind the note

Again in reference to people’s criticism of your script, think about what they really mean by their negative comments. “A great piece of advice is ‘What’s the note behind the note?’ ” said Headland. “When somebody says, ‘This character sucks!’, it might just mean they don’t like them. At the end of the day, you’re the writer, not them.”

8. Don’t surrender your script lightly

Screenwriters should battle to maintain control of their vision and find a way to direct their own material if they can. “It’s hard for me to spend 10,000 hours writing something, and then hand the script over to someone who will change it and put their own interpretation on it,” said Olnek.

9. Never stop learning

“I don’t ever feel like I’m a real filmmaker because you learn so much every movie,” said Russo Young. “I’m constantly trying to learn from my mistakes on the last one.” On a similar note, Olnek added, “You should never get to the stage where you think you know everything. You absolutely need mentors.

10 Watch people’s reactions to your work

Whether it’s at a table read or a screening, Olnek says one should “always be present for feedback – people’s spontaneous reactions are the most valuable.”

Thursday 8 May 2014

My low-budget film? I don’t need money, I need a distribution deal

Aaron McLoughlin is a lecturer in Media and Communications at RMIT University. On 11 March 2014 he published the following opinion piece in 'The Conversation,' which is an Australian independent news and commentary website, written by academics and professionally edited by journalists.


Earlier this year 'The Conversation' published an article by Rebecca Mostyn about the audience for Australian films.

The article includes useful stats pertaining to Screen Australia’s slate of feature films, budgets and outreach to Australian audiences. The thing is, I’m not making much of an addition to those audience statistics. I simply don’t get the opportunity to see the vast majority of these films at my local cinema.

It got me thinking about what practical assistance I require as an emerging filmmaker.

How much does it cost to make a movie?

According to Mostyn’s article, which cited Screen Australia figures:

43 Australian films screening at cinemas in 2012 earned a total of A$48 million.
A few taps on my trusty calculator reveal that A$1.1 million is to be the average feature-film budget (including distribution and advertising) – if our film industry is to break even. The average budget per film must be less if it aspires to turn a profit.

As part of my ongoing interest in economically sustainable Australian filmmaking, I wrote a screenplay in 2010 for a feature film that could be produced on a budget of only half a million dollars. But I had great difficulty peddling it around town – as the first assumption I encountered was that a film with that low a budget must be B-grade shit.

Which comes first: the money or the distribution deal?

The largest hurdle for a low-budget filmmaker such as myself isn’t raising the money – it’s getting an upfront guarantee of distribution so that raising the money is easier. It’s still going to be difficult but not as difficult.

Distributors who read my script were pleasantly surprised – but unfortunately they were nervous about taking on a low-budget project that wasn’t a sure thing – or, as I read the situation, a project that didn’t remind them of the Red Dog (2011) slam dunk.

In my experience, local distributors are too nervous about taking on Australian films because they perform poorly at the box office and present a financial risk. And rightly so.

I believe that if the average Australian film was being produced for under a million dollars and theatrical distribution was guaranteed, the money would be much easier to raise. Why? Because I could tell an investor that audiences will get a chance to see the film. Without that, the investor would be foolish to invest.

I don’t necessarily want Screen Australia’s money to make my film (although, it would be nice) as I don’t have a problem with the notion of having to raise half a million dollars to make a film. If I can’t interest a room full of potential investors in my project then maybe it’s not worth the paper the script is printed on.

Cutting through at your local cinema

Where I do need substantial help is in putting a distribution deal together beforehand. I would much rather draw on Screen Australia’s resources to help secure the theatrical distribution of my film. After all, does a film exist if nobody is there to see it? A pertinent Zen koan for the Australian film industry, methinks.

Each time I go to the multiplex, I see posters, cardboard cutouts, fibreglass displays and trailers up to 12 months before a Hollywood film’s release. Australian filmmakers need help cutting through to audiences.

Rather than funding for my film, I would prefer Screen Australia to four-wall the theatrical distribution – renting out the theatre the film will be showing at, and taking the profit from the ticket sales – put up some posters and guarantee the screening of my film.

This in turn would help facilitate raising money for the film. We are talking about raising relatively low sums here. Remember that films that cost more than A$1.1 million to make run the high risk of losing money – and should probably be avoided unless one can convince investors there is a new cash-cow on the block.

Bargain film-making

What of the objection that it’s hard to make films on the cheap?

Who cares. Find a way. We simply don’t have millions to spend on each film unless we sucker an investor to pay for them – and currently the sucker is us.

By turning off the tap to over-inflated budgets we may even encourage some innovative filmmaking and lure audiences back, the same audiences whose trust we lost by spending millions on films that they don’t want to see. Remember the innovative low-budget film Kenny, in 2006?

A modest proposal

If Screen Australia stopped funding the production of films and instead funded theatrical distribution a number of things could happen.

First, Australian films would cost much less per ticket. If theatrical distribution were to be four-walled then Screen Australia can set whatever ticket price they want. They can price them to sell. If audiences knew that Australian movies cost less to see then it may just be in their tight-arsed nature to start supporting them again.

Second, theatrical exhibition could be tailored around films that Australians actually want to see.

How much financial support a film receives in terms of screenings can be assessed on the genuine merits of the completed film, avoiding the fundamentally flawed script-based assessment process.

In my mind, the abysmal hit-and-miss ratio by government funding bodies has proven beyond reasonable doubt the ineffectiveness of this process, that arming bureaucrats with Hero’s Journey speak isn’t enough.

Just my opinion? After reading through the statistics on how many Australians see Australian films, it’s fair to say we are voting with our feet on this issue. Many feel that the same mistake is being made over and over, that the same film is getting funded over and over.

Funding theatrical distribution would be fairer for the filmmaking community because the usual gatekeepers wouldn’t get to say what does and doesn’t get made. Instead, they’d get a fair go at assessing the finished product, they’d get to try it out in front of real audiences and decide how long to run it for.

With a model like this, over time, distributors and investors may become less fearful of local content. They would gain confidence from the fact that a certain number of screens across the country are quarantined from Hollywood films, that screens in multiplexes have been bought out to guarantee the screening of an Australian film.

A little help to ensure our films actually get seen would make a world of difference to the Australian film industry.


IMDb   LinkedIn    RMIT

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Film Noir - PBS American Cinema

PBS takes a look at Film Noir, how it came about, what defines the style, where it went after the 1950s. Enjoy.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Dylan Moran explains Australia

In this video, Dylan Moran explains Australia... and other things.

Monday 5 May 2014

Meet a Foley Artist

Caoimhe Doyle of Ardmore Studios, who has worked on Game Of Thrones, shows the award-winning science show Futureproof how to make sound effects for movies.

Sunday 4 May 2014

A Celebration of the American Silent Film

This is post #900. 
This is an excellent look at the silent pictures and the stunts that made the early movies so successful. It includes interviews with many of the stunt performers of the time including Harvey Parry and Yakima Canutt. Narrated by James Mason.

Saturday 3 May 2014

100 Greatest "Music Scenes" in Movies

Mew Lists has come up with their version of the 100 Greatest "Music Scenes" in Movies. I know you'll disagree with some of them. I would have liked to see the following included: Ray Charles singing "Mess Around" in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), the "Stayin Alive" segment from Foul Play (1978), the karaoke scene from Paperback Hero (1999), the title song from Shaft (1971), the title song from Live and Let Die (1973), "Let the River Run" from Working Girl (1988), "Why Don't You Do Right" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), "Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy (1990), "Cruisin'" from Duets (2000), the title track from Mo' Better Blues (1990), the karaoke scene from The Actors (2003), Wolfman Jack playing "Green Onions" in American Graffiti (1973), and "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" from At The Circus (1939). What about you?

In case you were curious...

Friday 2 May 2014

The powerful tool people forget when pitching

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She is a regular contributor to and Inc. magazine
     She recently attended the National Publicity Summit to see what it was like to be on the receiving end of the pitches. Here is her report, as published in Inc. magazine. It is not aimed at screenwriters, but you'll be able to translate the key points with a little thoughtfulness.

It was an educational afternoon. I learned that being on the receiving end of a pitching event is much less nerve-racking but much more wearing than being the one doing the pitches, because no sooner is one brief pitching session finished than someone arrives for the next one. I met about forty people, some of them authors with interesting concepts that I was happy to hear about. But to my surprise, almost no one who pitched me used what I've found to be the most powerful tool in these settings.

That tool is asking questions.

All of the people who pitched gave a description of their product or concept and why they thought it would appeal to the readership of this column, and then they waited to hear what I thought about it. None of them asked what kinds of stories I was looking for or what kinds of topics appealed most to my readers.
     Admittedly, they had only a very short time (less than three minutes!) to sell me on their ideas, and I'm sure they thought there wasn't much time for back-and-forth. But even in the shortest of pitch sessions, asking questions is a powerful and smart thing to do. Here's why:

1. You'll break the pattern of endless pitching.

A rhythm develops when you step or sit in front of someone and launch right into a spiel. Pausing to ask a question or two breaks that pattern in a good way and gives the person you're pitching a short breather from the onslaught of sales pitches. And because so few people think to ask questions in this setting, your pitch session is likely to stick in your prospect's memory.

2. You'll engage your potential customer.

"The sexiest sentence in the world is: 'Talk to me.'" A colleague of mine with a very successful track record from pitching events told me this once, and it's really stuck with me. Asking people what they want shows that you care about what they want. And most people are more open to transacting when they feel cared about.

3. You can better match the prospect's needs.

Years ago, I met with an editor from at a pitching event. I had a set of pitches about the credit card industry all ready to go, but early in the conversation, I asked the editor what she was looking for. The answer surprised me: offbeat and unusual topics.
    I didn't have one of those prepared, but I had recently been given a debit card that my bank printed while I waited and that had no raised letters or numbers. I pulled it out of my handbag and showed it to her, and asked if she'd be interested in a piece on these weird flat debit cards. She was, and her company has been a regular client ever since. If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have known to pitch that topic and might never have landed that first assignment.

4. You won't seem in a rush to make a sale.

Veterans of pitching events all know it's extremely rare for a deal to be completed in a meeting just a few minutes long. Your objective should be to make a connection, one you can follow up later on outside of the hullabaloo of a pitching event. Asking questions signals your intention is to build that relationship rather than just make a quick deal.

5. You'll be better able to continue the conversation.

If all you've done is pitch your product or idea, then the only follow-up you're able to send is more information or a written sales pitch for that same product or company. Asking questions opens up many new possibilities. If you learn, for instance, that the person you're pitching is interested in some newly released technology, you might send an article on the topic with a note reminding your contact of your meeting. Building that kind of relationship puts you in much better shape to make an eventual sale.

6. You'll gain a competitive edge.

Looking for a way to stand out from the crowd? Many people making pitches try to make an impression with a little schwag or a slickly produced piece of literature. I like schwag as much as the next person, but to be honest, asking questions and getting to know what a prospect really wants will make you stand out much more in that person's mind than a gift of the latest cute gadget. Especially because no one else is doing it.

7. You'll make the pitch about the potential customer or investor, not you.

This is the most important reason to ask questions during a pitching session. You came to the event with one goal in mind--to sell your product or gain investment for your company. But the person sitting across from you has his or her own agenda, which may involve buying products or making investments but is certainly not the same as yours. Asking questions lets you quickly focus your interaction on fulfilling the person's needs, not yours.

And that's the quickest way to make a sale.