EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS and the myth of authenticity

Film Historian David Bordwell dives really deep into the the crossroads of Egyptian history and entertainment in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Gods and Kings

One has to sympathize with filmmakers tackling a tale set in ancient Egypt. Its history just goes on and on.

The date for the unification of Egypt under a single ruler and the invention of the hieroglyphic writing system that made its centralized administration possible keeps getting pushed back as more discoveries are made. Now it’s at about 3100 BC. Pharaonic Egypt ended in 30 BC with the death of Cleopatra VII Philopator (yes, that Cleopatra) when she committed suicide, reportedly using a poisonous snake. To give a vivid indication of how long pharaonic Egypt lasted, Cleopatra lived distinctly closer in time to us (just over 2000 years) than she did to the building of the Great Pyramids of Giza (about 2600 years earlier). And those pyramids were built about 500 years after that unification I mentioned.

The challenge for filmmakers is that many of the things we think of as most emblematic of ancient Egypt happened far apart in time. The Great Pyramids of Giza were built around 2600. The introduction of horses and chariots was–well, nobody knows exactly, but perhaps some time in the 1640 to 1550 BC range. Yet filmmakers cannot resist the temptation to have people dashing about in chariots as they supervise the building of the Great Pyramids. Howard Hawks’s Land of the Pharaoh does it. Exodus: Gods and Kings does it. It looks good, but in modern terms it would be sort of like William the Conqueror checking his email to see how preparations for his invasion of Britain were going.

David Bordwell | Read the Full Article

Director Paul Thomas Anderson Talks ‘Inherent Vice’

In this week’s VICE Meets, Meredith Danluck sits down for a rare one-on-one interview with director Paul Thomas Anderson to talk about his most recent feature, Inherent Vice. The film is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel, and first time the author’s work has been set to screen.


Major Character Types – “Protagonist”

Michael Tabb outlines the role of the hero of a story – the Protagonist.

Luke Skywalker

Whenever agents, producers and executives are asked what they are looking for (regardless of genre or budgetary scope preferences), the answer always includes the phrase “character-driven.” Everything else changes with trends and taste. Therefore, since the one constant everyone is always hungry for in Hollywood is great characters, it’s obvious my first few articles on what I do should focus on how working screenwriters perceive, develop and quantify the characters that fill our scripts. Last month, my article WHO IS THE HERO serves as a prequel to this six-article series on the major character types (not to be confused with character archetypes). Along the way, some of the details will undoubtedly include information you already know, but it’s always crucial when making a point to build upon a strong foundation from which to elevate.

Writers and performers have been breaking characters into quantifiable types and purposes long before film was even invented. Once fleshed out, characters are the driving force that evolves ideas into a full-fledged story. The characters shape everything in a script, and every one of the five possible specific purposes they serve illuminates how the story unfolds. This article will look closely at the most principal role of the five major characters.

The protagonist is the character through which the author takes the audience on an exploration of a theme and central question. All characters stem from the theme; a deeply rooted point that the writer wants to make or explore with the script. Often called the hero or heroine, even if his or her actions are not necessarily heroic, this is the character through whose eyes the writer tells the story and makes the point they are trying to extol. Every other character in the story is built and designed to challenge your protagonist in specific and unique ways. In short, using the solar system as an analogy, theme is the sun at the center of the universe around which your protagonist revolves while other characters revolve around him or her like moons.

Script Mag | Read the Full Article

5 Tips on Making Your Next Doc a Success

Chris McGuinness shares 5 tips for better documentary filmmaking


Documentary films are becoming more and more popular.  From Feature length to episodic documentary TV shows to short Docufilms for non-profit or corporate clients, there are plenty opportunities for filmmakers to practice their trade. Here’s a short list of things you may want to keep in mind while working on your documentary film.

1. Become an expert on your documentary subject.

If you get to pick your documentary subject, pick a subject that you are interested in or compelled to show others.  This will make it easier to become immersed in the project.  We believe that knowing your subject is crucial to making the best product possible. We like to study and learn as much as we can in our pre-production time.  If a client approaches us with the subject in mind, we try to find what most interests us about that subject and study outward from that point.  

2. Be well prepared for interviews, but be willing to accept unexpected tangents.

We write out all the questions we can think of, repetition is okay, then we come back and distill the questions and set them up in an order that optimizes the interview to build trust before we ask the more meaty questions.  You can’t just sit someone down and immediately ask someone a questions like, “So your father died, how did that make you feel?”  To me, that’s the best way to get your interviewee to close up.

If the interviewee deviates from the question or brings up something you did not consider or you find interesting, be willing to entertain it and see where it leads.  If it leads in a direction you don’t like, just fall back into your questions.  If you feel that an interviewee is going to tangent off course too frequently, nip it in the bud immediately.  We politely let them know we will redirect if we get off subject. This way they expect you to do this and don’t see you as the rude person interrupting them.

Production Hub | Read the Full Article

How To Read The Numbers For THE INTERVIEW’s VOD Release

 tries to shed some transparency in comparing THE INTERVIEW’s day-and-date release to a typical weekend box office.

The Interview

With the release of Sony’s The Interview on limited VOD platforms, there were a number of cyber conversations about the ramifications of a major studio doing a day and date VOD release. And then Sony made their first weekend VOD performance public, and there were more calls for open transparency on all VOD reporting. With so little actual data available, it’s understandable for everyone to be looking for more transparency. After all, with the DVD market hitting bottom and the foreign sales market also in a troubled state, it’s become harder for producers and filmmakers to see much return beyond what they are paid upfront. VOD and other digital revenue streams are seen as a hope to compensate for the changing market so any information is needed for an industry hungry to support non-studio filmmaking.

There are various reasons why VOD information isn’t public. First and foremost, there’s no central database that all studios and all VOD platforms report into. DVD has Videoscan. Theatrical box office has Rentrak, ERC, Boxofficemojo (praise Moses that didn’t go away!) and a number of other sites. Rentrak has a service, but it only contains transactional data from cable VOD providers (no iTunes, no satellite) and only if a studio volunteers the data. Interestingly, Magnolia and IFC, the two distributors who built the day and date and ultra models, don’t report in their data. Why? Well, information is power, and if they can control that information (the two together release over a hundred movies a year in a collapsed VOD window), then they can control that part of the indie distribution world. It’s a significant advantage they are unwilling to relinquish in the interest of the larger movie community.

Badass Digest | Read the Full Article

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