Thursday 28 April 2016

Famous Photographs That Fooled The World

Learn the full stories behind some of the world's most famous images.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Eight secrets of success - Richard St. John

Richard St. John was on his way to the TED conference when a girl on the plane asked him, "What really leads to success?" Even though he had achieved some success, he couldn't explain how he did it. So he spent the next ten years researching success and asking over 500 extraordinarily successful people in many fields what helped them succeed. After analyzing, sorting, and correlating millions of words of research, and building one of the most organized databases on the subject of success, he discovered the eight traits successful people have in common and wrote the bestseller The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 to Be Great.

A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success -- and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.

In his books and talks, he shares a wealth of wisdom from the world's most successful people -- knowledge that can help others succeed in their own way, whether it's escaping poverty, building a business, raising a family, or changing the world.

    Website    YouTube   
First posted: 28 July 2012 

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Player Two

Stopping in front of the finish line...

Monday 25 April 2016

Saving Private Ryan's Omaha Beach

It’s widely hailed as the most realistic representation of war ever put on screen, and one of the most challenging battle scenes in an epic war film. Steven Spielberg’s take on this historic battle aimed to honor those who fought, and the result is a realistic—and very human—perspective on the chaos of war. But getting the scene put to film was an enormous challenge for everyone involved. From intense military training for the cast, to intensive attention to detail from the costume and art departments, re-creating this seminal historical moment was a mission for hundreds of filmmaking pros.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Nothing Funny

While speaking to a group of kids at Vashon High School in St. Louis, Eric Thomas is confronted with a situation causing his speech to take an unexpected turn.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven's 5th

2CELLOS, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, playing their arrangement of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin and the 5th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven mashup.

Friday 22 April 2016

In Japan

This film is a collection of audiovisual moments and memories of a three week railway journey through Japan in 2015.

Thursday 21 April 2016


This was a student film produced at the Met Film school in Ealing Studios, London.
When three thugs attempt to rob a petrol station they’re unfortunately interrupted by the most unlikely of heroes; three stoners with a severe case of the munchies. 

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Book review: The Short Screenplay

Dan Gurskis is the dean of the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, New Jersey. He was previously professor and chair of the Department of Film, Brooklyn College, of the City University of New York, where he had overseen the creation of a graduate school of cinema, with the largest film and television production facility outside of Los Angeles. 
    In addition to his academic experience, Gurskis has held creative and management positions in film, television, theatre, and advertising, and he has performed pro bono work in arts management.

He also wrote a book called The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film from Concept to Production. It's a book of information, rather than inspiration. If you like the facts laid out in crisp logical order, with lots of lists, sample short film scripts, an index, and every buzz word carefully explained and illustrated, this book will suit you. If you're starting out in film and need to learn the language, this is a great place to begin. It was written by a teacher, for students, and that shows from page one. There's nothing new or revolutionary here, just lots of simple, practical advice for anyone looking to make their first short film.

What follows is a bunch of sample quotes from the book.
  • There are four main categories of short films:
    • Short-short (2-4 minutes in length)
    • Conventional short (7-12 minutes in length)
    • Medium short (20-25 minutes in length)
    • Long short (30 minutes or longer)
    Each is structurally different from the others.
  • In conceptualizing your screenplay, you should also be careful to avoid certain things:
    • The extensive use of special or visual effects
    • Large casts
    • Multiple subplots
    • Story resolution through death (either murder or suicide)
    • Weapons
    • Serial killers
    • Parodies and mockumentaries
    • Dreams and fantasies
    • Characters who are obviously walking contradictions.
  • An audience makes its connection with a film primarily through identification with an empathetic character.
  • An effective short screenplay is almost always character-centered.
  • A character is defined by the choices made during the course of the screenplay's action. A choice involves a decision. But the decision is in the doing, not in the consideration of what should be done. In other words, a choice is active and external. Something happenssomething that the audience can see.
  • A screenwriter must decide how much information the audience should know relative to the characters on-screen.
    • When the audience knows less than the characters, there's natural curiosity about the outcome of events on-screen. This storytelling strategy is called mystery.
    • When the audience shares the same information as the characters, there's both concern for the characters and curiosity about the outcome. This strategy is called suspense.
    • When the audience knows more than the characters, there's only concern for the characters because the outcome is already known. This strategy is called dramatic irony.
  • Film dialogue has six goals:
    • Move the plot forward
    • Reveal character
    • Provide information about the story
    • Establish tone
    • Convey theme
    • Add to the backdrop of the story.
  • In a speech, a line, or an exchange, the most important point comes at the end, the second-most important point comes at the beginning, and everything else, which can vary in importance, lies in the middle.
  • A competent actor can say more with his face in a close-up than a superb screenwriter can say in pages of dialogue.
  • Characters, plot, setting, and theme each present you with a way to generate ideas for a screenplay.
  • A premise is the dramatic situation from which the conflict arises and the action unfolds.
  • A concept is the overall idea for a story (not a plot) expressed in one sentence, consisting of a protagonist, that character's super-objective, and the obstacle that stands in the way of attaining that objective.
  • A synopsis is a concise prose version of a story (not a plot) told in three to five paragraphs.
  • A step outline—also known as a beat sheet—is a scene-by-scene outline of the major beats that will make up the action in a screenplay.
  • A scene outline is a more detailed scene-by-scene description of the screenplay, including most, if not all, of the minor beats that will make up the action in the screenplay.
  • A sequence outline is a list of the sequences that will make up the action in the screenplay.
  • Traditionally, a treatment has been a 20-50-page prose version of the story for a screenplay. Over the years, this has evolved, and today the term is often used to describe any prose version of the story for a screenplay, regardless of its length. 
  • At the very least, you should create a concept, a synopsis, and a step outline before beginning your first draft.    

First posted:  23 July 2012

Tuesday 19 April 2016

This Is a Generic Presidential Campaign Ad

As the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle has progressed, dozens of candidates have released campaign ads. And though there are a few differences from the left wing to the right, they have predictable, formulaic approaches to video editing in common. Just to save you the time of watching them, here is This Is a Generic Presidential Campaign Ad, a blatantly pandering, verbally vacuous piece of political parody, created entirely with stock footage.

Monday 18 April 2016

The Old New World

It's a travel back in time with a little steampunk time machine. The main part of this video was made with camera projection based on photos.

Saturday 16 April 2016

While You Were Away

Written by Gabriel Miller and directed by Ben Mallaby, the award winning While You Were Away is the story of a normal husband and wife having a far from normal argument.

Friday 15 April 2016

Hayao Miyazaki - The Essence of Humanity

Fantasy and realism blend perfectly in the world of Miyazaki. Today Lewis Bond looks at the genius behind it all.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Opening Shots Tell Us Everything

Jack Nugent believes that opening shots are underrated. Your favorite film has an opening shot that gives huge insight into the film's themes, character conflicts, or plot points. He considers four in-depth examples to see just how revealing opening shots are.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

TV Writing Masterclass - David Mamet

David Mamet created a TV series called The Unit, which ran from 2006 to 2009 on CBS. As part of the process, writers were hired, some seventeen of them over the duration, not counting Mamet himself.

Note: "The Unit" is a euphemism that parallels the term "The Company." The latter relates to C.I.A., the former to Delta Force.

In 2005, David Mamet dashed off a memo to his writers. This document circulated through writing circles for years. It is rumored to have first been publicized by Ink Canada, but that is unconfirmed. I do know that the memo was published in 2010, the year after the show was cancelled, by Seth Abramovitch on MovieLine. It has been referenced by many others since. 

One of the characteristics of the memo is that the entire document was written in upper case. Yeah, UPPER CASE. WE CALL THAT "SHOUTING" AND IT IS BLOODY HARD TO READ. If you've ever seen a David Mamet screenplay, you'll know he writes them largely in upper case as well. Anyway, for the ease of readers, I went through the text and took the liberty of converting it into a more readable format. The choice of which words to emphasize in bold is all Mamet's.

To the writers of The Unit


As we learn how to write this show, a recurring problem becomes clear. The problem is this: to differentiate between drama and non-drama. 

Let me break-it-down now. Everyone in creation is screaming at us to make the show clear. We are tasked with, it seems, cramming a shitload of information into a little bit of time. Our friends, the penguins, think that we, therefore, are employed to communicate informationand, so, at times, it seems to us.

But note: the audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn't, I wouldn't. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned to watch drama.

Question: What is drama? Drama, again, is the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific, acute goal.

So: we, the writers, must ask ourselves of every scene these three questions.
1) Who wants what?
2) What happens if he don't get it?
3) Why now?

The answers to these questions are litmus paper. Apply them, and their answer will tell you if the scene is dramatic or not. If the scene is not dramatically written, it will not be dramatically acted.

There is no magic fairy dust which will make a boring, useless, redundant, or merely informative scene after it leaves your typewriter. You, the writers, are in charge of making sure every scene is dramatic.

This means all the "little" expositional scenes of two people talking about a third. This bushwah (and we all tend to write it on the first draft) is less than useless, should it finally, god forbid, get filmed.

If the scene bores you when you read it, rest assured it will bore the actors, and will, then, bore the audience, and we're all going to be back in the breadline.

Someone has to make the scene dramatic. It is not the actor's job (the actor's job is to be truthful). It is not the director’s job. His or her job is to film it straightforwardly and remind the actors to talk fast. 

It is your job.

Every scene must be dramatic. That means: the main character must have a simple, straightforward, pressing need which impels him or her to show up in the scene. This need is why they came. It is what the scene is about. Their attempt to get this need met will lead, at the end of the scene, to failurethis is how (we know) the scene is over. It, this failure, will, then, of necessity, propel us into the next scene.

All these attempts, taken together, will, over the course of the episode, constitute the plot.

Any scene, thus, which does not both advance the plot, and stand alone (that is, dramatically, by itself, on its own merits) is either superfluous, or incorrectly written.

Yes but yes but yes but, you say: What about the necessity of writing in all that "information?"

And I respond, “Figure it out.” Any dickhead with a blue suit can be (and is) taught to say "Make it clearer", and "I want to know more about him".

When you've made it so clear that even this blue-suited penguin is happy, both you and he or she will be out of a job.

The job of the dramatist is to make the audience wonder what happens next. Not to explain to them what just happened, or to suggest to them what happens next.

Any dickhead, as above, can write, “But, Jim, if we don't assassinate the Prime Minister in the next scene, all Europe will be engulfed in flame.”

We are not getting paid to realize that the audience needs this information to understand the next scene, but to figure out how to write the scene before us, such that the audience will be interested in what happens next.

Yes but, yes but yes but, you reiterate.

And I respond, Figure it out.

How does one strike the balance between withholding and vouchsafing information? That is the essential task of the dramatist. And the ability to do that is what separates you from the lesser species in their blue suits.

Figure it out.

Start, every time, with this inviolable rule: The scene must be dramatic. It must start because the hero has a problem, and it must culminate with the hero finding him or herself either thwarted or educated that another way exists.
Look at your log lines. Any logline reading “Bob and Sue discuss...” is not describing a dramatic scene.

Please note that our outlines are, generally, spectacular. The drama flows out between the outline and the first draft.

Think like a filmmaker rather than a functionary, because, in truth, you are making the film. What you write, they will shoot.

Here are the danger signals. Any time two characters are talking about a third, the scene is a crock of shit. Any time any character is saying to another, “As you know,” that is, telling another character what you, the writer, need the audience to know, the scene is a crock of shit.

Do not write a crock of shit. Write a ripping three, four, seven minute scene which moves the story along, and you can, very soon, buy a house in Bel Air and hire someone to live there for you.

Remember you are writing for a visual medium. Most television writing, ours included, sounds like radio. The camera can do the explaining for you. Let it. What are the characters doing? Literally. What are they handling, what are they reading? What are they watching on television, what are they seeing?

If you pretend the characters can’t speak, and write a silent movie, you will be writing great drama.

If you deprive yourself of the crutch of narration, exposition, indeed, of speech, you will be forced to work in a new mediumtelling the story in pictures (also known as screenwriting). This is a new skill. No one does it naturally. You can train yourselves to do it, but you need to start.

I close with the one thought: look at the scene and ask yourself, “Is it dramatic? Is it essential? Does it advance the plot?”

Answer truthfully.

If the answer is “no,” write it again or throw it out. If you've got any questions, call me up.

Love, Dave Mamet

Santa Monica 19 October 05

(It is not your responsibility to know the answers, but it is your, and my, responsibility to know and to ask the right questions over and over. Until it becomes second nature. I believe they are listed above.)


Anyone who has read David Mamet's book, On Directing Film, will recognize most of the material in this memo.

16 July 2012

Tuesday 12 April 2016

'Ma’agalim' - Jane Bordeaux

In a forgotten old penny arcade, a wooden doll is stuck in place and time.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Seinfeld: What "Nothing" Really Means

Evan Puschak discusses what "nothing" means in the context of the development of sit coms over the years.

Saturday 9 April 2016

What Advice Do You Have For Screenwriters?

The Academy asked a group of filmmakers the question: What Advice Do You Have For Screenwriters?

Friday 8 April 2016

How Film Scores Play with Our Brains

Music is one of the most important aspects of movies, so how does music contribute to the emotional weight of a scene? Let's look at the power of a film score and how it plays with your brain to make you feel a certain way.

Thursday 7 April 2016

How to Break the Fourth Wall

Breaking the Fourth Wall is such a creative and unique cinematic technique, but just how much potential does it have? Let's take a look at the various emotional effects a fourth wall break can have in film.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

The True History of the Traveling Wilburys

In The True History of the Traveling Wilburys, Willy Smax tells the fascinating story of the short-lived 1980s supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. 

Spring, 1988: George Harrison asked Jeff LynneRoy Orbison, and Tom Petty to spend a day in the studio at Bob Dylan's L.A. house. The result is "Handle With Care." He liked the process so much that the five of them, plus Jim Keltner, spend a week in May at Dave Stewart's house, where they write and record a song a day to produce an album. We watch the creative process: group efforts ("Dirty World" is a found poem) and individual ones (Dylan's lyrics for "Congratulations"). Petty calls them "a bunch of friends who happened to be really good at making music."  

If you like music, you'll love this short documentary.

    Google    Website    Wikipedia   
First posted: 15 July 2012

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Wes Anderson & Yasujiro Ozu: A Visual Essay

Anna Catley takes us on a tour of the parallel works of Wes Anderson and Yasujiro Ozu.
Wes Anderson is known for his whimsical films with dry humour, bright colour palettes, and for his distinct narrative and visual style. Yasujiro Ozu, arguably less well-known to mainstream audiences, made a name for himself as the "most Japanese of all film directors", known for his calm, minimalist approach to film and his tendency to revisit the same kinds of stories over and over again. The relationship that exists between these Anderson and Ozu, if any, might not be immediately tangible, so the purpose of this essay is to try and draw some visual, thematic, and narrative parallels between these two extraordinarily distinct artists. Anderson and Ozu are two of my favourite directors, so it seemed only natural to pay tribute to them and their incredible filmographies.

Monday 4 April 2016

Tokyo Story

Tokyo Story (1953) is rated by many critics as one of the greatest films ever made.

Don't know it? Watch this review from the New York Times.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Yasujirô Ozu - The Depth of Simplicity

Lewis Bond digs into the fact that where some filmmakers only create styles for aesthetic purposes, some create them for symbolic purposes, Ozu was one of the filmmakers that did both.

Friday 1 April 2016

Akira Kurosawa - Composing Movement

Tony Zhou asks:
Can movement tell a story? Sure, if you’re as gifted as Akira Kurosawa, possibly the greatest composer of motion in film history. More than any other filmmaker, he had an innate understanding of movement and how to capture it on screen.