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Steven Soderberg on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in Black and White.

.As an exercise in staging, Steven Soderberg looks at movies with the sound turned off and devoid of color. Here he gives Raiders the treatment – be sure to check out the link below to see the first Indiana Jones outing in black and white.

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I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. In movies the role of editing adds something unique: the opportunity to extend and/or expand a visual (or narrative) idea to the limits of one’s imagination—a crazy idea that works today is tomorrow’s normal.

I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong). Of course understanding story, character, and performance are crucial to directing well, but I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount (the adjective, not the studio. although their logo DOES appear on the front of this…)

So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit)

Extension 765 | Read the Full Article

Werner Herzog’s No-Bullshit Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers and Creative Entrepreneurs

Maria Popova digs into Herzog’s book “A Guide for the Perplexed” for gems of wisdom and advice for the creative.

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The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.

Brain Pickings | Read the Full Article

Sarah Polley and Greta Gerwig on “Frances Ha” – Conversations Inside The Criterion Collection

‘Frances Ha’ is a magnificent, updated French New Wave film by way of America (even though the character does go to France). Poignant, humorous, heartbreaking, and extremely relatable, Greta Gerwig gives a career-defining performance as the titular character in a role she co-wrote with director Noah Baumbach. In this short doc about Frances Ha, acclaimed actress and director Sarah Polley gets real with Gerwig on the penetrating loneliness of New York City and how shitty it is to live an unstable life in your late 20s.

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‘The Shawshank Redemption’ at 20: How It Went From Bomb to Beloved

When it premiered on September 23, 1994, “The Shawshank Redemption” barely registered at the box office. The prison drama opened at No. 9, below the odious sex comedy “Exit to Eden” and just above Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show,” already in its fifth week. Though nominated for seven Academy Awards, the film failed to connect with audiences and vanished from theaters with little fanfare. And then, slowly but surely, its fortunes began to change. On its 20th anniversary, here’s how “The Shawshank Redemption” beat the odds and became a beloved classic.

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Stephen King

Prior to 1982, most readers thought of King as an author who wrote only horror, but the publication of “Different Seasons” changed all that. A critically acclaimed bestseller, this beautifully crafted collection of four dramatic novellas introduced King to an even broader audience. The book’s first story, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” remains one of his most deeply humane and hopeful works of fiction.

Frank Darabont

In an interview with Creative Screenwriting, Frank Darabont praised King as “a very old-fashioned storyteller, in the best sense of being old-fashioned,” and the same can be said about “The Shawshank Redemption.” Darabont, who also adapted the Oscar nominated screenplay, imbued the film with a timeless quality that recalls the classic cinema of Capra and Sturges. As such, it’s a movie that generously rewards repeated viewings.

Variety | Read the Full Article

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