Indie Filmmakers Feel Heavy Hand of Beijing

If you are fortunate enough to read this site in a country that values freedom of speech and expression, count your blessings. There are filmmakers in this world who do not enjoy that right unless their films are in line with the views of the state.

BEIJING — Independent filmmaking is tough anywhere in the world, but in China, especially, it is not a vocation for the faint of heart.

A recent attempt to hold a festival of independent film at a public art gallery in front of 500 people was thrown into chaos after a power failure in the middle of the first screening.

Although the authorities denied any interference in the Ninth Beijing Independent Film Festival last month, organizers said local officials had warned them not to show the opening film, “Egg and Stone,” directed by Huang Ji, which is about sexual abuse in a rural family, in a public space. When the power went out, officials showed up and apologized, but then did nothing, witnesses said.

Guests leaving the interrupted opening Aug. 18 said that unidentified men had followed them, asking why they had been there.

“It seems the Film Bureau is merging with the power company,” Jia Zhangke, a prominent director, said on his microblog, referring to the government body that oversees the Chinese movie industry.

Whatever the truth, filmmaking free of the ruling Communist Party is discouraged. The Film Bureau, part of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, vets scripts, grants production licenses, controls studios and equipment and coordinates releases. Making a film without approval risks harassment, warnings and, in extreme cases, blacklisting, a caution to others not to work with offenders.

the New York Times | Read the Full Article

Is the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera the DSLR replacement? Oh yes…

Marco Solorio of One River Media mounted a Blackmagic Cinema Camera to the top of a Canon 5D MkIII to compare the images created by the two cameras. Even with web compression the detail difference between the DSLR and the BMCC is quite dramatic.

That’s not to say you need to ditch your T2i and jump into this camera… but folks looking at a $2500 $3500 5D MkIII may want to consider the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera.

Every Alfred Hitchcock Interview Available Online

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of audience manipulation. We combed the internets and gather every TV and written interview the famed director of such classics as Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, and Rear Window.

View the Playlist on YouTube

Written Articles:
Interview with Robert Robinson: 1960
Interview with Peter Bogdanovich: 1963
Interview with Bryan Forbes: 1967
Interview with Roger Ebert: 1969
Interview with H.E.F. Donohue: 1969

Filmmaker IQ Redefined

Welcome friends the new Filmmaker IQ – Our latest version isn’t just a cosmetic redesign, we’re setting out to redefine how film and filmmaking is discussed online.

Lessons Learned

It has taken a long time to get here. Not long in terms of all of human history or a glacier’s path through the side of a mountain – but long when compared to the useful life of a tweet. A long time… but, more importantly, it’s been a long time really to figure out who we are.

It started off as a collection of filmmakers that met on MySpace. Yes… that crap site. We saw what could be done with the internet and social communities and what wasn’t being done there. In fact we were banned from there… long story… So we formed our own site.

And for a while we treated IQ like every other filmmaking site treated filmmaking. Let’s talk about cameras and software… but after quite literally thousands of articles on every subject of the filmmaking process – it was becoming clear that something was seriously missing in the online filmmaking discussion.

We tried our hand at Facebook. At first we were just posting images that inspired us… cool little odds and ends that collected in the crevices of our browsers that didn’t quite fit the traditional mold of a “filmmaking” site. The Facebook page became hugely popular despite the common question “What does this have to do with filmmaking?” – The fact is these little posts have everything to do with filmmaking.

Your Daily Scarlett

Your Daily Scarlett

Unfortunately it was becoming clear to us that Facebook was heading down the path of MySpace. Corporate scandals broke and we couldn’t bear to tie ourselves to that site so we stopped being active on the page… but not before learning some key lessons.

We got over 50,000 people to share this.

While pictures were popular in terms of numbers – they had a dramatic impact on my own personal approach filmmaking. If you do this long enough you come to a point where you realize that anything really is possible. Once you get past the technique you’re stuck with the burning question, “what do I shoot now?” This is point where you realize that it has never been your technical skills that have been holding you back – it’s always been your lack of imagination.

This was the BIGGEST missing thing from the online filmmaking world. While other sites continued to report on the latest gear and fanboys berated each other over camera specs, no one was talking about the real reasons we even bother to take the lens cap off the camera.

“How” something was shot is an essential part – but “why” something is shot, “why” it works – those are the questions that are much more interesting and much more important to crafting of good films. Sometimes the “why” can be intuitive but bringing it to front and discussing it was something we had to do.

We won’t stop talking about cameras and the tools of making film for they will always be needed in service of story. And yes, we love playing with cameras. But Story is King and everything else is subject to it. You cannot make good film unless you pay tribute to Story first, last and every step in between.

We have to talk about story. It’s not easy and there’s no camera manufacturer pushing for better written stories. But we must do it.

We also learned about Community Standards from our time on Facebook. You can either have an organized discussion that encourages civil debate and understanding or you can have a free-for-all dominated by trolls who rule by fear. Filmmakers, as all creative artists, have enough anxiety over snarky criticism already. We will not stand for it.

We have only one rule. NO ASSHOLES.

There will be Bugs

A site can not be fully tested until it goes live. There will be a few bugs. Some we know about, others we may not. We will continue debugging over the next few day. If you find a bug please report it here:

Just say NO to Internet Explorer!

No version of IE is a “modern browser.” What that means is it is incapable of displaying several site features and just won’t look near as good as other browsers. We no longer support IE7. We have limited support for IE8. IE 9 the latest version will work, but not very well. This is not a question of taste. All other browsers will work and look just fine. There are also very serious security issues with IE and should not be used by anyone. You can download alternative browsers for free here:

Google Chrome

Mozilla Firefox

Just the Beginning

The site redesign is a platform not only for great content today, but for even more features tomorrow. Over the next days, weeks and months we have many more features and enhancements coming your way. User Profiles, Groups, Forums and more will see new upgrades coming soon. We also want to hear your ideas about how to improve IQ. Please leave your comments below.

So whatever camera you own. Whatever camera you’re saving up for. Whatever crew you can assemble. We’re here to expand your imagination and raise your Filmmaker IQ!

Welcome friends, to the new

Featurette for “Les Miserables” shows Actors Singing on Set

On most film musicals, the musical portions are recorded in a studio prior to production and played back on set. The upcoming film of “Les Miserables” has actors performing their songs live with the music dubbed in afterwards.

This isn’t the first time this has been attempted since the “golden days” of 30s and 40s musicals. Peter Bagdonovich attempted it in 1975 with At Long Last Love. The problem with capturing live performances rather than miming pre-recorded tracks is you’re trading spontaneity and reality for a polished musical performance:

Cybill Shepherd does a passable job in her musical soliloquy but it’s not the pitch perfect musical performance you would expect if you bought the “Original Broadway Cast Recording”. In a studio recording, the actor can focus solely on crafting a perfect vocal performance without worrying about blocking and movement – both which can affect the vocal tone. Even the sound of the set creeps into the video above as you can hear the slightly wooden echo during the opening wide shot.

But technology has advanced… gathered from the “Les Miserable” featurette, the actors were recorded cleanly on set (no musical accompaniment – only a rehearsal piano in the ear piece). This allows significant post processing including sweetening and the much-maligned auto-tuning (not the stylistically overused kind, but the minor correction of a few percent here and there) so that the finished product can have the pitch perfect musical performances that Les Miz fans come to expect.

After all, most people in the audience will be mouthing the words along to the film.

Les Miserables opens December 25, 2012

Understanding Premultiplication for Transparency and Mattes

Don’t worry – you won’t have to do any math… In this tutorial James Whiffen explains what premultiplication is, when you need to premultiply and unpremultiply, and how we can use this knowledge to solve matte processing issues.

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