Cedrick May is a filmmaker and educator from Arlington, Texas. He is currently at work on a web series entitled, The Awakening, a modern adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "dream cycle" stories from the 1920s.
This is a very solid list. Pamela Douglas's book really helped me with writing my first TV pilot, and Stephen King's book is the best book about writing and the life of writing, period. I think David Mamet's Memo to the Unit Writing Staff is only four pages or so in length (written in ALL CAPS!!!), but it really distills the principles of *scene writing* down to highly memorable core ideas that stay with me. I'd also like to suggest Karl Iglesias's The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters. Thank you for the great list!
Articles like this one, as well as Homecoming with its 4:5 aspect ratio, and The Lighthouse with a crazy-cool 1.19:1, have convinced me to start experimenting with this. Rather than being a fad tied to social media platforms and cell-phone screens, aspect ratios are looking like a legitimate creative choice, the same as choice of lenses or color palettes. Thank you for the great article!
There are a lot of movies I wanted to use my quarantine time to revisit. Among my favorites was Casablanca (1942), as it is just really great cinema and entertainment. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) was another more recent black & white classic that really stands up and continues to be relevant for our times. I'm a big fan of Rod Serling, so I binge watched some classic Twilight Zone episodes, but I had never seen any of his pre-Twilight Zone teleplays, so I watched Patterns (1958) and Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), both of which are powerful films and biting social commentaries. I also re-watched The Babadook (2014), and although it is a more recent classic, I think it really sets a high standard for relevant contemporary horror.
Thank you for writing this. Most of us who got into filmmaking today began as huge fans of film as well as the various personalities who made them. They are the models by which we would judge our own work. No one is an angel, but when it comes to behaving professionally in a professional environment, there need to be standards. No one should be forced to work with an abusive drug-addicted boss, whether on a construction site, business office, or a film set. The industry should know this is dangerous and unethical in so many ways.
These are great questions. The first thing you have to remind yourself is that the person asking you to direct their film is asking you for *your expertise* in filmmaking. They are bringing you on because you have skills and abilities that they do not, so don't be afraid to give feedback and make suggestions based on your expertise. It's okay to say "Hey, I love the script *and* I would like to make some suggestions for some things I think will make your vision come through better on the camera and on the screen...." I believe this is part of the job of being the director. Just be ready to be flexible.
I like to be positive about making changes to other people's work, so the "yes, and..." approach is always better than the "yes, but..." when giving your feedback. However, you have to be honest, too. Make sure that you actually *want* to be a part of the project before taking it on. Do you believe in the script overall, but just want to make some creative choices you think will make it better? Does the writer/creative partner want to treat this like a truly collaborative effort? Then it might be the right project for you. If the writer is too combative about making creative changes and seems hard to get along with, then *maybe* you don't want to work with this person. However, you have to think about your own tolerance levels and goals. Good luck, and I hope this helps!
This was one of the most enjoyable hours of television I've watched in a long time! The acting is wonderful and the cinematography is stunning. The story is incredible, and I was impressed with the way the show's writers were able to adapt certain parts of the opening chapters of the novel, which are long on dialogue (and appropriate for the novel), and make them work for the screen. My wife (who's Australian) at first thought the "sundown towns" were made up for the story, but I was able to tell her that my dad (who was a Vietnam veteran), would sometimes have to sleep in his car in the woods at night outside of towns when he was traveling between military bases because his life would be in danger if he was caught in one of those sundown towns, even wearing his uniform. So this story was super-relatable and meaningful. One of the interesting things about H.P. Lovecraft, in particular, is that during his lifetime he encouraged other writers to freely use his ideas and world-building in their own writings. Contemporaries of his, like Clarke Ashton Smith and August Derleth (and others) borrowed liberally of his work, and now a lot of their stories and world-building is accepted as part of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythology. Lovecraft Country is a wonderful new addition to that tradition of authorial collaboration, even between centuries, and a new set of stories perfect for our times.