» Posts Tagged ‘history’

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Timeline CinemaKnowing about the history of cinema is a great first step in becoming a well-rounded student of film, and though it’s pretty simple figuring out where to start (at the beginning), sometimes it’s a little bit intimidating navigating the timeline to find out which parts were pivotal in the development of the industry and art. The Ministry of Cinema has taken the guesswork out of it by breaking down cinematic history into its most integral parts in a 6-part video series entitled A Timeline of World Cinema. More »

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Movie TrailerThey are the reason why we show up on time to the movie theater — “Hurry up! We’re gonna miss the previews!” Previews, movie trailers, or coming attractions are a staple of the cinematic experience and are more often than not enjoyed as pieces of art (or 1 1/2 minute short) rather than seen as advertisements (though they are both). In this comprehensive video, John P. Hess of Filmmaker IQ takes us on a journey through the history of the movie trailer, offering an interesting perspective by explaining not only how they’ve changed over time, but why they’ve changed. More »

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Camera Operator HistoryEvery so often, in my aimless meandering through the interwebs, I come across something that warrants immediate sharing on this site. More often than not, it’s news of an emerging piece of technology or a cinematographer talking about their craft. However, sometimes I come across something that has a far more profound effect. I found one such thing today in the form of a video that played at the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Awards for the Society of Camera Operators. It’s a tribute to the past, present, and future of the motion picture camera, and it compresses and contextualizes the entirety of the history of motion pictures into the span of 4 minutes. I have a feeling that you will enjoy as much as I did. More »

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Dogme 95When you think of a film movement, what comes to mind? Political/social rebellion? Self-expression? Freedom? Rarely will someone say “strict and rigid rules”, but that is indeed the structure put in place by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg when they formed Dogme 95. A controversial, but influential movement, Dogme 95 gave birth to some incredibly important films, like Festen and Idioterne. If you’d like to learn more about Dogme, what better way to learn about it than from one of its founders. Watch director Sophie Fiennes’ short documentary Lars from 1-10, and find out how less freedom could mean more creative films. More »

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EisensteinEssentially ever since cinema’s inception, there has been a great question about its complicated nature — answers to which have spawned an even greater debate among film theorists: What makes a film a film? One theory, formulated by Russian filmmaker and “Father of Montage”, Sergei Eisenstein, claims that the footage captured by a camera is nothing more than raw material. Not until that raw material is edited do you have a film — at least according to the Soviet Theory of Montage. John P. Hess of Filmmaker IQ breaks down the history of montage editing in the second video in their History of Cutting series. Check it out after the jump. More »

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SupermanOne of the Academy Award categories that is fast becoming not only an industry favorite, but a fan favorite, is Best Visual Effects — and for good reason. VFX have made it possible to tell impossible stories, ever more adeptly selling the illusion that what’s up on-screen, be it Ryan Stone adrift in space or Tony Stark’s exoskeleton, is absolutely real. With this year’s Oscars is proving to be another big year for visual effects, with the nominations of Gravity and Iron Man 3 to name a couple, let’s take a look at the last 37 years of Academy Award-winning VFX in this great retrospective by Nelson Carvajal. More »

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Citizen KaneCitizen Kane: the #1 favorite film of 100% of freshman film school students and young lovers of cinema. (Remember Michael Scott’s nephew, Luke? Case in point.) Though the title of “greatest movie ever” is impossible to possess, Citizen Kane’s praises have become so commonplace that, unfortunately, some tend to take its cinematic command for granted — even though the film proved Orson Welles and famed cinematographer Gregg Toland to be real pioneers of the craft. Take a look at these incredibly insightful documentaries about the making of Welles’ masterpiece, and renew your appreciation for a truly groundbreaking piece of cinema. More »

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TarkovskyRussian director Andrei Tarkovsky was a filmmaker that emphatically put cinema in the realm of art. Some may take that for granted, however history tells us that film theorists were anything but unanimous on the true nature of film — is it a representation of life? Is it art? Is it meant for the betterment of society, or the promotion of ideals? Tarkovsky’s spiritual and poetic stance on cinema as art is not only what makes his work so important, but also what guided him through his filmmaking process. Continue on to hear Tarkovsky speak in several interviews and documentaries about the nature of film from his own perspective. More »

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Action FilmWho doesn’t like a good action flick, right? A bullet-dodging, time-bombing, impenetrable hero that doesn’t know the meaning of the word physics is one of my guiltiest pleasures. But, over the years it has become very apparent that action films have changed significantly into two hours of sensory overload from the entertaining run/jump/climb jaunts they once were. In this three-part video essay, Los Angeles scholar and filmmaker Matthias Stork takes a deeper look into the changes in filming and editing in the action genre, which, according to him has birthed what he calls “chaos cinema”. More »

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Akira KurosawaAkira Kurosawa is one of the most influential, as well as celebrated directors in all of cinematic history, especially when it comes to Japanese filmmaking. He was heavily involved in nearly ever aspect of his films’ production process, from co-writing scripts to editing (many considered editing the director’s greatest strength as a filmmaker). In this 90-minute documentary, A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies (2000), Kurosawa shares his unique insight in ten interviews that were conducted towards the end of his life, discussing screenwriting, shooting, cinematography, directing, and his “quest for making the perfect — ‘beautiful’ movie,” — definitely a masterclass in filmmaking from a filmmaking master. More »

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lazlo_vilmos01As November comes to a close, the holiday season is officially upon us. Alongside the decadent meals and retail shopping absurdity, most of us have a few extra days off to lounge around in our pajamas and watch movies. If you’re like me, however, the process of figuring out what to watch is way more daunting than it should be. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of 10 excellent films about filmmaking, all of which are currently available on Netflix Instant. Now that I’ve taken all of the guesswork out of figuring out what to watch, grab some hot cocoa (or spiked egg nog), throw on your Snuggie, and settle in for two days worth of awesome filmmaking movies. More »

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David LeanBritish filmmaker David Lean was an epic director in more ways than one. Not only did he become known for his epic films, like Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, but his incredible renown for his cinematic excellence has spanned decades. But, perhaps more epic than his films and reputation was his grand approach to filmmaking. An inspiring look into the director’s life on set in the BBC Four short documentary, David Lean and his Dedicated Maniacs, reveals just how far one would go to exercise his passion for cinema. More »

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zoetropeI’m sure that when the awesome people who brought us GIFs like “Cupcake Dog” or Kate Upton doing the Cat Daddy, they had no idea that they were participating in cinema’s earliest attempts at filmmaking. I mean — what is a GIF if not a digital reproduction of early animations created in devices that utilized the same persistence of vision principals we use today? Right? In other words, GIFs are phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes, and zoetropes for the 21st century. Don’t think so? Well, you might change your mind once you see Richard Balzer bring these 19th century animations to life using the technology of the 21st century. Behold — 19th century GIFs. More »

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Women Film Pioneers ProjectThe history of motion pictures is full of amazing stories and memories of the pioneers of the medium: the Lumière Brothers scaring the bejeezus out of an unsuspecting audience with Arrival of a Train, the eerily incandescent glare of Bela Lugosi in Dracula, Hans Laube’s Smell-O-vision. Recently, Columbia University Libraries launched a website dedicated to researching and sharing information on a group of pioneers from the silent film era that are not often talked about or known, but have greatly influenced filmmaking with their work in all stages of production. Continue on to learn more about the Women Film Pioneers Project. More »

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History of HorrorWhether you’re currently working on a horror film or just a fan who watches a ton of them, learning a little bit about the history of horror is not only the most fun history lesson that exists in life, but it will also help filmmakers put certain horror concepts into a much clearer context. John P. Hess unfurls the last hundred years of horror filmmaking, covering everything from German Expressionism to independent slasher films.  Continue on to watch yet another excellent film course from Filmmaker IQ: More »

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PudovkinWhen it comes to Russian filmmakers, the first names that come to nearly everyone’s mind are Andrei Tarkovsky and  Sergei Eisenstein. Both were exceptional, and Eisenstein is seen as the father of modern montage theory. However, a lesser known filmmaker, Vsevolod Pudovkin, proves just how integral Russian film was to cinema at the beginning of the 20th century by providing his own montage theory, slightly different from that of Eisenstein, that formed the foundation of the classic Hollywood style of editing, which is used in almost every film today. Continue on to check out an informative video that explains Pudovkin’s essential editing techniques. More »

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Genre of the DeadBack in June, we touched on the possible explanations as to why people have such an incredible fascination with zombies – we write books about them, participate in pub crawls, proms, and walks with zombie themes. However, nowhere else do we see the full breadth of our devotion toward our brain-eating buddies than in our films. In a fun and informative infographic, the zombie epidemic is traced back through the history of cinema — where it first appeared in pop culture, and how it has evolved over time. More »

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Film Look 24fpsOne of the biggest questions I’m asked and have asked, and definitely one that pervades the indie digital film scene is this, “How do I get that film look?” The answer isn’t as easy as it may seem — except maybe to go shoot on film — because there are many factors that go into producing the grain, color, and “flicker” — the “look” we’ve all become accustomed to seeing in movies. A short video from The Basic Filmmaker, in a simple (though not simplistic) lesson, gives us a place to start in order to achieve it, and it all begins with choosing the traditional frames per second and shutter speed. More »

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American ZoetropeThere has been a lot of speculation about the American film industry being in a time of transition. This summer’s tentpoles haven’t performed as well as expected at the box office, while indies swept the Oscars this past year. These new developments have many wondering if this signals a new wave of low-budget American independent filmmaking. If so, independent filmmakers can take a page from the spirit of Francis Ford Coppola’s independent film studio, American Zoetrope, explored in the inspiring documentary A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope. More »

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Let There Be Light DocMany new filmmakers spend a lot of time honing different crafts, such as screenwriting, camera operation, and editing. While those skills are important to develop, light and shadows are a large part of the foundation of filmmaking, and learning how to control light is one of the most important skills for filmmakers to learn. Check out Let There Be Light, a short documentary/tutorial (docutorial?) by Mark Vargo, a second unit DP who guides us quickly through the history of artificial lighting, the Inverse Square Law, different light fixtures, and how they are used in filmmaking. More »