Articles Tagged Making Films

The Medium is the Maker

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Filmmakers are often touted for their “vision”—their singular sense of how a movie should look, sound, and feel. But every film starts on paper, with a screenplay or even just an idea for a character or a mood. A director must partner with a cinematographer, a production designer, and others to translate that idea into… Read more »

Sam Chen

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Oftentimes an independent filmmaker requires the support of an army of many—actors and crew—to nurture his or her film into fruition. In the case of director-producer Sam Chen’s computer-animated short film Eternal Gaze, a biopic on the life and art of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, the required support came down to an army of one…. Read more »

Ask the Documentary Doctor

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Dear Doc Doctor: Is a short film the obligatory starting point of a filmmaking career? If so, what can I do with it when it’s finished? It doesn’t seem to make financial sense to make a short. Some filmmakers start with a short either while in film school or out on their own, and that… Read more »

Digital Intermediates

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Your next film probably won’t be digitally mastered. But the one after that probably will be. That’s how fast the costs of a digital intermediate are falling, even as the quality and benefits of digital mastering rise. Sure, digital video doesn’t have the warmth of Super 16 or 35, and you’re not about to throw… Read more »

Sweet Sixteen

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MAY 10, 2003 The movie premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival. I watch from the aisle and think, “Man this looks good.” The movie is Nights Like These, a 16mm black and white short I shot the year before, about a bored shadow that attempts to switch places with the shadow of a mysterious, hopefully… Read more »

48 Hour Picture People

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At 7:00 p.m. on a Friday night, more than twenty teams of filmmakers gather at a local film center or bar. In a random drawing one member of each team picks a film genre out of a hat. Every team is then given the same character, prop, and line of dialogue they’re required to include… Read more »

From Idea to Story

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Suppose that you’re thinking of doing a documentary film about Elvis Presley, or a diner in your home town, or images of Islam in American popular culture. Something about the topic has caught your interest, and you think you want to take it to the next level. First, ask yourself what it is about the… Read more »

The Nuances of Film Editing

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The word “edit” has a bad reputation. To lay folk, the word brings to mind overindulgence, censorship, and the property neighbored by “File” and “View.” But people in film know better. Walter Murch, the editing savant behind Apocalypse Now and The English Patient, once compared film editing to translation in that the challenge is not… Read more »

From Idea to Story

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Suppose that you’re thinking of doing a documentary film about Elvis Presley, or a diner in your home town, or images of Islam in American popular culture. Something about the topic has caught your interest, and you think you want to take it to the next level. First, ask yourself what it is about the… Read more »

Hometown Hitter

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First-time screenwriter/director Tom McCarthy didn’t stray too far from home when he decided to make his debut film The Station Agent. The film, set and shot about twenty-five minutes away from where McCarthy grew up in rural New Jersey, is a small-town story about an out-of-towner new to small-town life. Finbar McBride, played by veteran… Read more »