Monday 30 June 2014

The Amazing Years of Cinema, "The Comedies"

The Amazing Years of Cinema, "The Comedies," is narrated by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  The one documentary was split into two parts for loading efficiency in the days of lesser bandwidth.

Sunday 29 June 2014

The Godfather - Behind the Scenes

Take a look behind the scenes of the making of The Godfather series.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Don´t Look Down

This documentary follows parkour/free running athlete, James Kingston, on his trip from Southampton, England, to Kiev, where he meets up with the Ukrainian climber, Mustang Wanted. This documentary isn't focusing on James's rooftop runs; it is about his passion for climbing.

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Friday 27 June 2014

The Wes Anderson Collection, chapter 1

Matt Zoller Seitz wrote a book called The Wes Anderson Collection, that deconstructs each one of Anderson’s films, from the cinematography to the set design. It is essentially a “book-long interview” with Anderson about everything that has to do with him as an artist, his evolution, his inspiration, and history.
     Then Seitz did the Wes Anderson fans of the world a huge solid by adapting parts of the book into videos. Here is the first in the series.

Thursday 26 June 2014

The Rules of Film Noir

Matthew Sweet explores his rules of 1940s and 50s American film noir thrillers:
* Choose a dame with no past and a hero with no future
* Use no fiction but pulp fiction
* See America through a stranger's eyes
* Make it any color as long as it's black
* It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it

Eli Wallach: 1915-2014

Eli Wallach, who appeared in over 150 films and TV shows, died on Tuesday. He was 98.
    He was born in Brooklyn, the son of Polish immigrants who ran the local sweet shop. One of the few Jewish children in his mostly Italian-American neighborhood, he made both his stage and screen breakthroughs playing Italians. He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he learned to ride horses—a skill he would put to good use in westerns.
    Wallach attended the Actors Studio from its inception; there, he studied acting with founding member Robert Lewis, alongside Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Herbert Berghof, Sidney Lumet, and his soon-to-be wife, Anne Jackson.
    In 1953 he was supposed to play Angelo Maggio in the film From Here to Eternity, but was abruptly replaced by Frank Sinatra before filming began. Sinatra went on to win an Oscar for the performance, which revived his career. Sinatra purportedly used pressure from his underworld connections to get the part, an incident that inspired the Johnny Fontane character in the classic 1972 film The Godfather.
    Wallach continued to find meaty movie roles, almost through to the end of his life. In later years he could be found in the likes of The Godfather 3, Mystic River and The Ghost Writer. Despite his glittering film career, Eli was never nominated for an Academy Award. However, he was awarded an honorary Oscar in November 2010.

The Ghost Writer (2010)
The Holiday (2006)
The Godfather III (1990)
Two Jakes (1990)
Tough Guys (1986)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
How To Steal a Million (1966)
The Misfits (1961)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Interview with Anne Jordan

Anne Jordan is the author of The Big Secret - What Hollywood Won't Tell You, the Executive Director at Popcorn Entertainment Group, founder of Northern California Screenwriters, screenwriting instructor at Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa Junior College, and College of Marin, and a story analyst, script doctor, and script evaluator for Blue Cat and the Scriptwriters Network.
    I was introduced to Anne by Matt Treacy, who is a bit of a fan.

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

I grew up in a little Amish and Mennonite farm town in Hesston, Kansas. However, we moved to Santa Barbara when I was seven and to San Francisco when I was eleven. I've lived all over the world, but consider California home.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

I was lucky to grow up in a huge extended family of honest and decent farmers. My grandfather was one of twelve boys. My family: aunts, uncles, and hundreds of cousins, lived nearby and got together all the time—mostly to eat. Ha! I was very fortunate that my loving and supportive family was filled with very well-educated missionaries, so education and travel were high priorities. Also, tolerance towards others was expected. Politeness and respect to others was demanded. Service to others was a given. All of my family are in professions where they help people (mostly special education teachers, therapists working in hospice, doctors). One of my cousins works for John Hopkins in Africa (AIDS Project), so the sense of helping others was successfully instilled.) Me? I create better writers.

Where did you go to school?

College: University of California, Davis
High School: Oceana High
I also attended McGeorge Law School, but took a leave of absence to start my own business—Hot Lulu's. (I invented a medical/therapy product while in law school.) I never went back.

When did you first take an interest in movies?

My first movie was Mary Poppins (1964). As much as I love movies, if I were honest, books have always been my first love. I still read two to three books a week. 

• What was your first paying job (in any field)?

I was ten years old and sold American Seeds door to door. Actually, I made quite a lot of money from it! Later graduated to selling stationary door to door. In between, I babysat for every family in the neighborhood. (I was the baby whisperer—come to think of it, I'm still good with babies and kids.) I used to entertain the little tykes by acting out stories in books. That's probably where I get my dramatic tendencies.

What was your first paying job as a screenwriter?

I was hired to write the story of someone famous. I had to sign my first Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). I ended up hating the person and loathed every minute of that assignment. I have never done a biography since. Your readers should note that 90% of a screenwriter's income comes from writing assignments—not from selling spec scripts. I've since worked on some documentaries—which I wrote, but someone else got the credit. (Another NDA, but hey, it pays the bills.) Fortunately, I no longer have to write under someone else's name.

What was the main event that lead to you setting up Popcorn Entertainment?

I was doing several things: working as a screenwriter, teaching, and putting on expos for aspiring writers. Eventually, I realized I needed a production company, hence, Popcorn Entertainment Group.

You’ve written a book. I couldn’t find it on How do we get hold of a copy?

I have been self-publishing a text book for my classes—The Big Secret - What Hollywood Won't Tell You. However, a friend of mine (the President of the Redwood Writers) wants me to publish and start selling it. I'll eventually do it, but right now I've got two expos to put on!

How does Northern California Screenwriters function?

Northern California Screenwriters was the name of my first three expos. I changed it to StoryTellers because I also teach aspiring novelists. In fact, I'm teaching a class this weekend.

How did you become a screenwriting instructor at all those colleges?

Eight years ago, a friend who works for the college asked me. Truthfully, I'm probably the only screenwriting instructor in the area. Or the only one willing to do it for peanuts. 
    My history as a writer: First, I started out writing magazine articles (had my own column in four magazines), then wrote a book, and then learned the craft of screenwriting—which to me, is the highest form of modern literature. Currently, my life's goal is to make screenwriters as well-known as novelists. Most of you can list hundreds of novelists, but can you list more than a handful of screenwriters? You see my point?
    There's an old joke in Hollywood that an aspiring actress was so new to Hollywood, she slept with the screenwriter. My point? Screenwriters are neither famous nor particularly respected. I hope that changes, but until then, you gotta write because you simply can't do anything else.

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

1. The biggest lesson I learned about screenwriting came from Michael Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Toy Story 3 (2010). He told me he based Little Miss Sunshine on Star Wars (1977). I thought he was drunk (we were in Maui at a party), but he soberly proved it to me. It was an eye-opening experience and helped me to make the leap from amateur to pro. I've since taken what I've learned about structure and made an outline for my students.  SEE CHART HERE 

2. Success is all about getting your script into the hands of the right person—usually through connections made. I really started making great connections through my expos, and recommend writers take the time to go to pitch fests, expos, and tell EVERYBODY that you're a screenwriter. You never know which person is going to be the one that changes your life.

3. You've got to have the patience of Job. Things go very slowly and may take years. In the meantime, keep writing scripts.(Agents and production companies don't usually touch someone who hasn't written at least four scripts.) Improve as a writer. The average number of scripts written before a screenwriter is at the professional level is eight to ten. Sometimes more.) So get writing! My best advice is to copy best-selling movie scripts. Not just read them, but study and copy them. The practice of copying will help you improve enormously. Like aspiring painters copying the great masters of their medium, so too, should aspiring screenwriters copy the great masters of their medium: Lawrence Kasdan, William Goldman, and Shane Black. (There are lots more, but those are my favorites. You also won't go wrong with Bobby Moresco or Michael Arndt.)

If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book (not your own) to a newbie writer in Adelaide, which one would it be?

Hmm, that would be tough.

I have two favorites: Dave Trottier's The Screenwriter's Bible and Blake Snyder's Save The Cat!

Dave is the gold standard in formatting, and Blake is the gold standard in plots and beats.

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

Wow, these are really hard questions. Can anybody limit their favorite movies to just ten? I'll try, but ask me again in a few years and my answers may be completely different. These are all different, but perfect scripts.
Body Heat (1981)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Gone With The Wind (1939)
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Crash (2004)
Ice Age 3 (2009)
The Sixth Sense (1999) 

What’s next for Anne Jordan?

For the next eight months, I have to concentrate on creating the greatest writers conference and expo in the world and then it's on to SF Geek Fest—a celebration of science and science fiction. I also have a television pilot that is being looked at, In God We Trust. But right this minute, I gotta run and teach another class! 

I hope you'll all be able to join your fellow Aussie, Matt Treacy, at the StoryTellers Expo—where I can meet you in person. Until then, good luck with your writing careers. And remember, don't give up—it's the people who persevere that make it.

Good luck to everyone in their writing careers!

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Tuesday 24 June 2014

Parov Stelar - "All Night"

Here's a gift from JustSomeMotion

This is exactly how I imaging myself dancing. (The reality is slightly different...) Enjoy.

Monday 23 June 2014

The Amazing Years of Cinema - "The Westerns"

The Amazing Years of Cinema, "The Westerns," is narrated by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The one documentary was split into three parts for loading efficiency in the days of lesser bandwidth.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Ten movies which start with a guy leaving prison

I was watching The Yards (2000) the other night—with the remarkably young-looking Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron—having watched London Boulevard (2010)—with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley—just a few days earlier, when I wondered how many movies I could think of that opened with a guy leaving prison.

I thought I'd go for a list of the best ten. See if you agree with this: 

10. High Sierra (1941)  -  Humphrey Bogart

9. London Boulevard (2010)  -  Colin Farrell

8. The Brink's Job (1978)  -  Peter Falk
7. The Getaway (1972)  -  Steve McQueen
6. The Blues Brothers (1980)  -  John Belushi
5. The Italian Job (1969)  -  Michael Caine
4. Carlito's Way (1993)  -  Al Pacino
3. Hudson Hawk (1991)  -  Bruce Willis
2. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)  -  Sterling Hayden
1. Rififi (1955)  -  Jean Servais
Honorable mentions to:

Le Cercle Rouge (1970) - Alain Delon
The Hot Rock (1972) - Robert Redford
The Outfit (1973) - Robert Duvall
Tough Guys (1986)  -  Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas
Rounders (1988) - Matt Damon
South Central (1992) - Glenn Plummer
Palmetto (1998) -
The Yards (2000) - Mark Wahlberg
Reindeer Games (2000) - Ben Affleck
10th & Wolf (2006)  -  James Marsden
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) - Michael Douglas
Welcome to Collinwood (2002), which is a George Clooney remake of:
I Soliti Ignolti (1958). As usual, the original is the best, by a long way, and deserves a place in the top ten. Probably right after Rififi and Asphalt Jungle, the movies which inspired it in the first place.
I Soliti Ignolti (1958)
Welcome to Collinwood (2002)

And just for heartfelt expression, there's Bird on a Wire (1990) - David Carradine.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Tilda Swinton drives...

Yes, I know it's a commercial, but it's a very good commercial.  Tilda Swinton and some new model Mercedes.

Friday 20 June 2014

James - 'Moving On'

I grew up watching my mother knit, and holding out two hands so she could spool wool in convenient loops. So this deeply moving little video by the Manchester group, James, appealed to me for its creative use of... wool.

Thursday 19 June 2014

'Lost in Translation' - Film Analysis

This film analysis of Lost in Translation explores the characters of the film and the cinematic techniques used to enhance the story. It also discusses it's magical quality, which is hard to define, but is responsible for the film relate-ability and success.

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Wednesday 18 June 2014

Interview with Matt Treacy

Matt Treacy is an Australian screenwriter, script analyst, actor, and event manager, who lives in Melbourne. He handled the logistics of Pilar Alessandra's recent visit to Victoria. 
    I met Matt on Julie Gray's Facebook page, in a discussion about the decline of traditional Aussie slang. Cooee cobber!

What is your favourite Australian expression, Matt?

You can’t make strawberry jam out of dog shit.

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

I grew up in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
I’m a fifth generation Australian on my father’s side. We came out as free settlers in the 1850s and made our mark in a small town in North Western Victoria. My mother’s side came out earlier on one of the convict ships.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

Three brothers and a sister. You had to be the loudest to get your point across at the dinner table. We have a fairly large extended family, who are fiercely loyal, friendly and abundantly generous. That has rubbed off on me.

Where did you go to school?

After completing Year 11 at Aquinas College, I spent a year studying art at Box Hill TAFE.

When did you first take an interest in movies?

I grew up on a healthy diet of Saturday Morning cartoons, Sunday Night Disney and Countdown. The first movie I recall seeing in the cinema was Benji (1974) at the Balwyn Cinema.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

I delivered junk mail to earn pocket money as a kid and have held down jobs of all descriptions since.

What was your first paying job as a filmmaker?

I was a featured customer in a Coles TVC.

You came to screenwriting in a novel way. Tell us what happened.

Screenwriting wasn’t on my radar at all, until about ten years ago. My background in art led me down a lot of dead-end paths, as I tried to figure out where my destiny lay.
    In 2004, while watching Big Brother, I was amazed how badly the show was doing, given the amount of potential it had. I contacted the Executive Producer and gave him a list of suggestions to help lift the quality of the show and improve their flagging ratings. Strangely enough, they did not follow my advice and the show was eventually cancelled.

    I was left with all these brilliant ideas, so I decided to write a movie script. I bought a copy of Screenwriting For Dummies®, with a view to finding out how to correctly format my story. Somewhere in there, they give a broad description of the personality and traits of a screenwriter. That was a defining moment in my life. I’d finally found my calling. Not a bad thing for a 35 year old. That opened the door to a very prolific period of my life.

You spent time in Los Angeles, back in 2008, pitching your work to a group of agents, managers, and executives. What are some of the lessons you learned from the experience?

I attended one of the pitch festivals in L.A.—my first time there and well before social media had really kicked in. As much as I felt that I was prepared, I was going in blind. I knew nobody in the industry—here or there. I had three books to learn from and one completed script.
    I discovered within the first ten seconds of my first pitch that I was nowhere near ready. My script was nowhere near ready and I had two days of pitching ahead of me. It was a character-building couple of days. The positives were that I gained a lot of experience and met some really nice people. I also pitched some other stories I was working on, which were also well received.
    Unless I was pitching concepts in a meeting, I would avoid pitching anything that I didn’t have written and polished ever again. If somebody asks for a copy of the script or the first 30 pages, you want to be able to deliver promptly.  Today, I put as much effort into preparing my pitches as I do on my story.

The other highlights of that trip were the studio tours. Sony was good, because I met Tom Hanks, when he was on a break during filming for Angels and Demons (2009). I took the V.I.P. tour at Warner Bros. Sitting in the commissary, eating lunch among some of the industry’s heavy hitters, gives you a major buzz. I knew for sure, then, that I wanted to live and work in Hollywood.

You had an involvement in Pilar Alessandra’s most recent visit to Melbourne. How did you get that gig?

I’ve been listening to Pilar’s podcasts for years—since the Drunk & Naked episodes. I’ve consulted with Pilar on my work and developed a friendship over that time. When I found out that she was planning to come to Australia, I insisted on being involved in whatever way I could. In the end, I pretty much took care of the Melbourne leg.
    I was fortunately able to arrange an interview for Pilar with Richard Stubbs on his ABC radio show. They hit it off and ended up exchanging books that they’d written afterwards. It was a really enjoyable experience to spend time with someone I consider to be both a mentor and friend. We were able to talk in-depth about the industry, my plans, her plans, and life in general. She loved Australia and would love to come out again sometime.

Shane Black says that all writers should gain some knowledge of acting. What lessons did you learn from your acting experiences?

You get a much clearer insight into the village required to pull it all together. Many writers lose sight of that, due to the solitary nature of screenwriting. Spending time on set gives you perspective.

What are three things you wish someone had told you about screenwriting when you were starting out?
* Your first script is rubbish.
* Networking is EVERYTHING.
* Be incredibly self-confident, but leave your ego at the door.
If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book to a newbie writer in Adelaide, which one would it be?

I have an entire library of books on screenwriting now. Each has their own particular gems within—but the stand out will always be Save The Cat! Blake left us with an incredible legacy. God bless him.

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

I have over 400 favourite DVDs in my collection. I see at least one new release movie at the cinema every week. Choosing ten is not easy, but... (in no particular order):
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Mad Max II: The Road Warrior (1981)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
The Gauntlet (1977)
True Lies (1994)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Apartment (1960)
Toy Story (1995)

What’s next for Matt Treacy?

For personal reasons, I have been unable to fly internationally for the past few years. That will no longer be the case in March 2015, when I hope to attend a friend’s event in San Francisco. All going well, I’ll spend a few days in L.A. as well.
    I’ll be going back to L.A. in June 2015 to catch up with everyone in my social and professional networks. I also hope to arrange some meetings as well as attending a couple of events. The aim is to go in with my top four production-ready scripts under my wing.
    I have also arranged to shadow a local director when he commences filming on his next project.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The Beatles Argument

Anger, frustration, forgiveness, revenge: communicated in 17 Beatles songs.

Starring Tess Soltau and Ryan Melia.

Featuring The BritPack, a NYC-based band that plays epic British Classics.

Monday 16 June 2014

William Friedkin's Favorite Films of all Time

Academy Award winning director William Friedkin was responsible for The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968), The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), The Brink's Job (1978), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Killer Joe (2011), and whole bunch more. Here he gives us his favorite films of all time in this interview for FADE IN Magazine.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Contemporary Cinema

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 Contemporary Cinema.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Michael Caine Teaches Acting In Film

In this documentary Michael Caine teaches the art of movie acting to five young actors, who perform scenes from Alfie, Deathtrap and Educating Rita. He talks about how to perform in close-ups and extreme close-ups. He warns about the continuity dangers of smoking cigarettes or fiddling with props. He talks about screen tests, special effects, men who are cavalier about your safety and speaking to someone who is off camera. The movie camera is your best friend and most attentive lover, he says, even though you invariably ignore her (BBC 1987).
"The theatre is an operation with the scalpel, I think movie acting is an operation with the laser."

Friday 13 June 2014

"All By Myself" - Richard Dunn

It wasn't only Bridget Jones who found an outlet in Celine Dion's version of Eric Carmen's 1975 power ballad All by Myself. Richard Dunn, a stranded passenger, passed the time by creating a hilarious music video.

The 43-year-old spent around three hours shooting the lip-sync video on his iPhone, as his wife watched on. Dunn, who lives in Georgia and works as lighting designer, used the terminal’s escalators and moving walkways to his advantage.
I had a person behind a ticket counter give me a roll of luggage tape before she left. I then used a wheel chair that had a tall pole on the back of it and taped my iPhone to that. Then I would put it on the moving walkway for a dolly shot. I also used the extended handle on my computer bag and taped the iPhone to my handle. I would tuck different stuff under the bag to get the right angle. For the escalator shot I had to sprint up the steps after I got my shot so the computer bag didn't hit the top and fall back down. Quite fun!
Make sure to watch long enough to see the Flashdance tribute — it’s worth the wait.

People have accused Dunn of faking the whole thing. He made this response: 
Many people have said there was no way I could have made that video spontaneously and by myself... (are you listening Matt Lauer?) Here is a small clip of the sprint I had to do so my computer and iPhone didn't come tumbling back down.

Celine Dion saw the video and she posted this response.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Book Review: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is an amazing book. It deals with the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s: heady days, when a youthful, energetic, free-thinking generation of film directors rose up, seized the reins of Hollywood, and attempted a revolution. Arthur Penn, Dennis Hopper, John Schlesinger, Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Towne, Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, Robert Benton, George Lucas, Hal Ashby, Roman Polanski, Brian De Palma, Jonathan Demme, John Milius and Paul Schrader are just a few of the characters who stalk the pages of this book.

We know them by the films they made: Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Easy Rider (1969), Midnight Cowboy (1969), MASH (1970), Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Last Picture Show (1971), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Last Detail (1973), Dillinger (1973), Chinatown (1974), Jaws (1975), Crazy Mama (1975), Taxi Driver (1976), Carrie (1976), Star Wars (1977), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), American Gigolo (1980), and Personal Best (1982).

For those of us a distance away from Hollywood, who watched the films and enjoyed them, it was easy to assume these people had been gifted a charmed life; their obvious talent had opened doors and enabled them to make the movies they wanted, to enjoy the process and reap the rewards. The truth was not that simple. For the most part they were driven, tortured souls, who plotted, schemed and bluffed their way to their opportunities. Most of those who enjoyed blockbuster success were crushed by that success. All of them paid a high price.

"We had the notion that it was the equipment which would give us the means of production," said Coppola. "Of course, we learned much later that it wasn't the equipment, it was the money." Because the fact of the matter is that although individual revolutionaries succeeded, the revolution failed. The New Hollywood directors were like free-range chickens; they were let out of the coop to run around the barnyard and imagined they were free. But when they ceased laying those eggs, they were slaughtered. p.434

With success came money, and the money brought in cocaine... by the truckloads. The drugs and money fueled jealousy, paranoia, arrogance and greed. Friendships splintered. AIDS, madness, suicide and murder thinned the ranks. It's a remarkable cautionary tale. I wasn't there; I can't testify to the truth of every detail, but I can tell you that it is a riveting read. Highly recommended.