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Movie editing techniques – With pretty pictures!

Hone your understanding of film editing until you are dazzlingly brilliant at it. The very best directors have a comprehensive understanding of film editing. They plan and direct shots in such a way that they can be cut together smoothly and coherently. Ambitious filmmakers would therefore be well advised to learn film editing. You should […]

Film Lighting Techniques and Tips: With Pretty Pictures!

Soft front light / hot backlight A popular technique in film lighting is to use a soft (diffuse) light source from the front and a stronger, more directional light from the back, so that your subject has a hot edge. The soft frontal light is known as the fill light; the strong light at the […]

Filmmaking Tips and Advice for Ambitious Filmmakers

“A free online film school summary for aspiring filmmakers” Jump to a section: Screenwriting Lighting Camerawork Camera movement Zooming Sound Casting Continuity Production Design Film editing 1st AD Directing   1. Write or obtain an awesome screenplay Without a dazzlingly awesome screenplay you are dead in the water. Beautiful lighting, creative camerawork and smooth editing […]

How Steven Spielberg started his Hollywood career

Steven Spielberg started making movies as a young child, using Super 8 equipment. He was extremely ambitious from the outset and made his first feature film at the age of seventeen. The film, Firelight, premiered on the 8th March 1964 in Phoenix, Arizona. The film was, of course, low-budget; Spielberg shot it with a good […]

How James Cameron started his Hollywood career

“Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Shoot it on video if you have to. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.” (James Cameron) After moving […]

James Cameron and Steven Spielberg direct the best battle scenes

James Cameron is a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci — a genius in the truest sense of the term. James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg are the only directors on this planet who are able to direct a battle scene that actually makes sense, as opposed to being dull and pointless. Every other director — including one […]

The film industry and the Internet do not get along

As wonderful as it is, the Internet has a number of particularly pernicious traits, including an unfortunate tendency to make people addicted to free content. If the free content happens to be a blog post or a home video, that’s all well and good. However, if the free content in question is a real movie, […]

Is branded content the future of advertising?

Although the concept was developed many years ago, branded content is being mentioned with increasing frequency in advertising circles. Put simply, branded content is a short film or video that blends entertainment with advertising. The model’s rationale is that the content’s entertainment value more than compensates for the fact that virtually every shot features the […]

Viral videos: when regular TV advertising is not enough

TV commercials generally work very well; there is even some evidence that TV ads are the most effective form of advertising. But advertisers need all the help they can get, right? Although you can’t rely on it, it’s a massive bonus when you find that someone uploaded your TV commercial on YouTube and it got […]

The “new normal” in TV commercial production

“New normal” is the new hot term in the business vernacular, and the world of TV commercial production is no exception. A producer I know recently gave me an inkling of what this “new normal” might look like. She told me that TV commercial budgets are aggressively being slashed, and of course we are well […]

The first 10 minutes of your indie movie had better be totally amazing

An article in the L.A. Times described how the star of an independent movie entitled “Magic Man” was disheartened to see that most buyers walked out of the screening in Cannes before the first 10 minutes were up. By the end of the movie, there were hardly any buyers left in the room. I feel […]

Panavision struggling to compete with the RED camera

An article in the L.A. Times yesterday described how Panavision is losing business precipitously. There are two reasons for this: production has declined dramatically, and when something does get made, it tends to be shot with a RED camera rather than on celluloid. This is seriously hurting the business of Panavision, which has been supplying […]

The good old days when content was valuable

There used to be a time when content was valuable. If you managed to complete a feature film, provided money was spent judiciously during production, it could be sold for a profit — even if it was junk. The reel of film could be marketed, regardless of its intrinsic merits. I cannot help thinking of […]

Clients to avoid like the plague in video production

When you want to buy something, you have a very clear idea of how much you want to spend on it. You can buy a car for $1000, $50,000 or $500,000 — these options are all legitimate, but they are not equivalent. You are not indifferent to the options: you know exactly which category is […]

Terrence Malick Interview: a fascinating chat with the elusive director

(I wrote this post after attending the interview at the Rome Film Festival on October 24th, 2007.) “Terrence Malick is extremely shy and you must not attempt to make direct contact with him. You must pretend you are eavesdropping on a private conversation.” I am sitting in the middle of the front row in the […]

Why music videos are dead

Here is how it used to work: folks would watch MTV. MTV played music videos. The music videos gave you light entertainment and some eye candy. (Sometimes they were truly inspiring works of art.) In return for that you would listen to the music. If you liked it, you went out and bought a CD. […]

Film cannot compete with the RED camera

Before the RED camera was invented the only viable options for high-end movie production were film (celluloid) and high-definition cameras like the F900 or the Viper. The problem was that the footage produced by these “high-end” HD cameras looked very much like video, particularly in its rendition of highlights. Most disappointingly, the motion was too […]

Casting independent feature films: valuable advice from veteran casting directors

Here are my notes on “Casting the Net”, the third and final seminar I attended at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. The panel was composed by three Casting Directors, including the incredibly on-the-ball Deanna Brigidi-Stewart, and focused on the role that Casting Directors can play in packaging an independent feature film. 1. […]

Expert tips on financing and producing your independent feature film

This post is my write-up of another seminar I attended at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. This seminar took place on the same day as the one about film publicity. The panel in this seminar was composed by an independent film director, an Executive Vice President of a distribution company, an independent […]