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6 Great Spielberg Shots

“Munich” (2005) (Dir. S. Spielberg; DP J. Kaminski) The color scheme in this shot is absolutely gorgeous.  The warm/cold combination of color temperatures is nothing new, but the blue hue of the light in the background is particularly beautiful and delicate. The colorist undoubtedly deserves some credit. Classic foreground texture by Steven Spielberg and exquisite […]

6 Lessons I Learned on the “Harry Potter” Film Set

In October 2000 I was in my final year at Oxford University and before I had even finished settling into my room for Michaelmas Term I was eagerly informed by friends that the “Harry Potter” film crew was going to spend several weeks shooting in our College (Christ Church). I had never heard of Harry […]

6 Awesome Shots from 6 Unforgettable Films

“Terminator 2” (James Cameron, 1991; DP Adam Greenberg) “Hasta la vista, baby!” No kidding. Bold use of two color temperatures (cold and hot). Crucial point: Cameron didn’t just rack focus to the gun — he also tilted down to exclude the eyes, to make the audience focus on the gun. Humans tend to keep looking […]

The Top 3 Qualities that a Director Must Have

“What are the top three qualities that a director must have?” A reader asked me this question yesterday on Twitter and it made the wheels turn inside my head – even better than coffee! I always tell people that filmmaking is a sublimely difficult art at which to excel, because it encompasses many art forms, […]

10 Lessons I Learned in 10 Years as a Filmmaker

June 17th, 2012 – Today is exactly 10 years since the first day of principal photography on the first project I directed. I will celebrate by sharing 10 lessons I learned in 10 years as a filmmaker. 1. The director’s reel is king The one thing I am glad about is that I started on […]

How to Become a Film Director: a Sharp Reality Check

This topic has been clouded by wishful thinking and pernicious misinformation for too long. Time to clean up! 1. Directors are hired on the strength of their reel A director’s reel is simply a collection of the best work done in the past. If you don’t have a reel, you are not a director and […]

“Should I Go to Film School?” – Advice from Famous Filmmakers

In this post I will dismantle once and for all any delusions you might have about the merits of going to film school. The film school industrial complex does not want you to read this article. First things first: I have a lot of respect for higher education and I myself had the privilege of […]

Lessons from my favorite film directors

In this post I will share some skills and lessons that I learned from some of my favorite film directors. Some quick points: 1. None of this should be taken to imply that these films are mandatory material for filmmakers – I enjoy sharing, but you should feel free to follow whoever you admire. 2. […]

Stanley Kubrick’s Legendary Film Techniques

Following my hugely popular post on Steven Spielberg’s film techniques, here are my thoughts on Stanley Kubrick’s film techniques.The same disclaimer applies: one cannot do justice to any decent artist in writing, but at the same time I cannot help spotting trends, and I enjoy writing about them. 1. Slow, protracted scenes One of the […]

Long uncut master shots in films

Reader’s question: As a fan of Andrei Tarkovsky I really love long takes with few changes of angle. I believe that with the utmost balanced use of track shots, composition, lightning, foreground and action within a frame, an audience won’t be bored even without sudden changes in camera placement. I understand that this isn’t the […]

Choosing between the 2.35 and 16:9 / 1.85 aspect ratios

Reader’s question: My question is about aspect ratio. I know a lot about it but I’m kinda stuck on the thought of the correlation of aspect ratio and lenses. For example, a scene shot in 16:9 using a long lens looks nice but very flat, and with wide lens, almost too documentary. When shot in […]

Directing, shooting and editing projects for the web vs. the big screen

Reader’s question: Thanks for your email and invitation to pose questions. From a technical standpoint, how does web-based format influence camerawork, editing, etc.?  Does the shorter length of a web-based episode influence technique? My answer: Great question!  In my experience directing for the web does not necessarily call for changes to be made to one’s […]

Projecting films digitally in theaters (2K and 4K)

Reader’s question: Please explain the process of putting digital footage on to a medium for projection in theaters. My answer: Projecting a film digitally is conceptually very simple (I will get to the details below): the film itself is simply a digital file stored on some sort of server that is connected to a digital […]

Character arc: cool examples from famous movies

Character arc is the term used to refer to a change undergone by a character in a movie. We call it character arc because the change is not a quick one: it goes from the beginning of the movie to the end, although there is usually a fairly obvious point at which the character realises […]

Film networking: a reality check

Film networking is one of the filmmaking topics that is most replete with fantasy, wishful thinking and downright nonsense. In this post I will share my experience of film networking and make a distinction between what works and what doesn’t, based on my own experiences. Film networking: the fantasy When people mention film networking, they […]

The Movie Making Process: from Development Hell to the Shark Pool of Distribution

Contents 1.0 Development 1.1 Story development / treatment / scriptment / plot points / structure 1.2 Writing the screenplay 1.3 Re-writing the screenplay 1.4 Financing the movie 2.0 Pre-production 2.1 Casting 2.2 Locations 2.3 Shot list 2.4 Script breakdown 2.5 Tech scout 2.6 Scheduling by the 1st AD 2.7 Production design 3.0 Production 3.1 Principal […]