Archive for the ‘Production’ Category

Will the RED ONE Camera Eliminate the Use of Film?

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

For years, filmmakers have been anticipating the evolution of moving from film to digital. The reality has always been that 35mm and even Super 16mm film looks better on the big screen – bar none. The most recent HD cameras have made great inroads in that field with the 2K Sony/Panavision Genesis and Thompson Viper cameras. The films shot with these cameras (Superman Returns, Zodiac – respectively) did look great in the theaters, but these cameras are not cheap. I am not sure what a new Viper costs (I saw one on eBay for $48,000) and the Genesis is owned by Panavision – so you can only rent it.

No one will deny the cost savings that come from not using film. For most independent filmmakers that has always been the deciding factor in choosing video versus film. Now, the RED ONE camera promises to tilt that pendulum towards the digital world by leap-frogging over the top of the line industry standard digital protocols. And most importantly, its price: $17,500 for the basic camera (without accessories).

Is the RED ONE camera the one that will finally replace film? Let’s look at this one detail: It’s the only camera to reach a 4K resolution (see the Red One forum for a detailed explanation). Compare that to the aforementioned 2K Genesis and Viper cameras. The difference is four times the resolution (see chart below). It’s supposed to be the closest endeavor to reach the quality of 35mm film with convenience of pure digital.


Indie Director Tom DiCillo’s ‘Delirious’ Blog

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Writer/Director, Tom DiCillo’s [IMDB info] new blog chronicles his journey through the creation and distribution of his latest film, Delirious. The film is a contemporary fable about a small time celebrity paparazzo, Les Gallantine (Steve Buscemi) who befriends a young homeless man, Toby Grace (Michael Pitt). Toby meets and falls in love with pop star K’Harma Leeds (Alison Lohman), causing jealousy and friction with Les. (check your local listings – it’s really worth seeing it in the big screen).

This is DiCillo’s first foray into the blogosphere but I feel if he continues with it beyond Delirious, it could be one of the essential reads for all aspirating filmmakers. In fact, I commented on his blog about that sentiment and Mr. DiCillo responded to my comment – “I will try to keep the blog going. It is helpful to me to put my thoughts and frustrations into something creative…”

I cannot summarize the passion and creativity of DiCillo’s blog posts (you need to check it out for yourselves), but I will highlight some of his shared insight into the filmmaking process of Delirious – and break it down into production categories:


Screenplay – DiCillo’s idea for the script was motivated by the public’s addiction to celebrity and fame. He got the idea for the main character of the film after an encounter with a paparazzo in New York during the filming of The Real Blonde. The guy went into to the shot, trying to take a pic of Daryl Hannah – DiCillo almost strangled him. Years later, DiCillo ran into to this guy at a party; They hung out in NY and LA for 2 months and then he wrote the script.


Open Source Filmmaking

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

The culture of “open source” has evolved beyond software; it’s now a serious trend in filmmaking. The original open source encyclopedia, Wikipedia defines this culture as “where collective decisions or fixations are shared during development and made generally available in the public domain.”

Here are several examples of open source filmmaking projects:

+ Elephants Dream is an animated short film built/produced entirely by open source graphics software like Blender. It’s billed as the “world’s first open movie… with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license.”

+ The Echo Chamber Project is an open source documentary that critiques the mainstream media’s coverage of the war in Iraq through collaborative techniques. They describe themselves as “an independent filmmaker’s ‘YouTube’ combined with ‘Wikipedia’ for serious journalism.”

+ is another collaborative documentary project. This one covers copyright in the digital age.


The Sopranos Ending Secrets from the Guy Who Shot It

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

The final episode of The Sopranos [IMDB info] certainly caused a lot of controversy from its impassioned fans with how their beloved series ended (I’m assuming that everyone’s seen it). I find it to be a huge credit to David Chase [IMDB info] to be able to evoke such reactions from his creation. Stephen Pizzello, American Cinematographer Magazine‘s executive editor, interviewed the man who shot that last episode: Russian-born cinematographer, Alik Sakharov, ASC [IMDB info]. Sakharov reveals that the ending had specific influences from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey [IMDB info] and Coppola’s The Godfather [IMDB info]. He also diffuses the rumor that there were alternate endings shot.

Here are some of the highlights from the Alik Sakharov interview podcast:


Video Podcasts: Promoting Your Film During Production

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Many filmmakers are producing video podcasts – chronicling their production experiences. This used to be done for the purpose of adding material for the DVD package. Now it’s taken another and arguably more important role of promoting their film before it’s released to the public. By building an audience before the film’s release, filmmakers are creating a fan base that gets engaged in the production process from the very beginning. This is done by making this footage immediately available though their websites and viral distribution mechanisms like YouTube and social networks like MySpace. Here are three examples of films which used this process – in 3 budget parameters: Big Budget film – Superman Returns, Moderate budget film – Clerks II, Low Budget film – Four Eyed Monsters.


Indie Sex – An IFC Mini-Series

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

IFC will debut an interesting mini-series tonight (8/1/07) – at midnight, on the subject of sex in film. Sure it’s been done before – but not quite like this. Particularly on how there are different standards in independent films and studio films. The four parts to the series are aptly titled for what they will cover: Censored, Taboos, Teens, Extremes.

The series’ website also has some great video extras. I’ve highlighted this one because it’s the most applicable for this blog:

“How to direct a sex scene?” (Interviews with some indie directors, including Lee Daniels (Shadow Boxer) [IMDB info], Jamie Babbit (The Quiet) [IMDB info] , and John Cameron Mitchell (Short Bus) [IMDB info] – explaining their experiences directing sex scenes).

Watch all the video extras here.

DVD Commentary for Filmmakers (Series) – The Machinist

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

My producing partner and I have been watching a lot of indie psychological thrillers lately because it relates to our current project. First, we want to make sure that their story is not too similar to ours. Secondly, we want to see if we can get some useful production information from their film’s DVD Commentary. You know – the essential information that every indie producer wants to know: how they got financing, their budget, how they attracted the actors to the roles without any money (especially if they have a star) that kind of thing. You’d be surprised at what you can learn from this info. This is going to be a regular series on this blog. I realize that this isn’t exactly a new release, but I’m going to start with The Machinist. [IMDB info]

The Machinist (a.k.a. El Maquinista) (2004)

Directed by Brad Anderson [IMDB info] – Written by Scott Kosar [IMDB info] – Produced by Julio Fernández [IMDB info]

The story is about Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) [IMDB info] – an industrial machinist who hasn’t slept in a year. As a result of his extreme insomnia, he’s paranoid, hallucinates, and freaks out. Good movie.

Here are the DVD commentary highlights that I feel are useful and interesting to filmmakers:


The Links Directory Is Up (Over 3,000 Filmmaking Links)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

In the process of producing my first feature film, “Nothing Without You,”  I have compiled thousands of useful links to filmmaking resources. Here are the links in Filmlinker’s Links Directory – broken down into the following categories & sub-categories:

+ SCREENWRITING – The start of it all. Every screenwriting website that I could find is here. It includes educational information, software, professional screenwriter’s blogs, online magazines, articles, etc.

Writing & Reference – This is a natural sub- category to Screenwriting. It includes many reference sites, info on writing structure, all around multiple sources of information on various fields that will help writers fill in the blanks of their work.

+ PRE-PRODUCTION – The plan starts here. This is such a multifaceted category; I’ve included several elements which contain all the film directories, manuals, and general resource sites that I think can be useful to all filmmakers. Plus, budgeting resources, film analysis sites (that can help with your business plan), pre-pro software sites, etc.