Filmmaker IQ turns Six Today

Marilyn Monroe by Lawrence Schiller

Marilyn Monroe by Lawrence Schiller

On this date six years ago, July 4, 2008, we started

I wish we could tell you that we knew what we were doing then – that all this was planned. But nothing was. We always recognized the power of the internet – to be a source and repository for information on filmmaking. We tried many things and perhaps failed at just as many. But just a little over a year ago, in May, we relaunched the site with a dedication to filmmaking and film history and the results have simply been beyond what we could have imagined. Our course videos have been viewed millions of times all across the world but more importantly there’s more discussion and appreciation of film and filmmaking online than ever before.

In this new FilmmakerIQ year, we will bring in the next phase of our online film school. More courses are planned and on their way – but more importantly, we’re revamping the lessons and quizzes and adding a new section – workshops. Not only will you get to watch and learn about different aspects of filmmaking, YOU will be asked to participate in some fun exercises that will indeed make you that much of a better filmmaker. These workshops will vary from short films, to editing exercises and engineering experiments and we’re adding a badge and point system so you can track your progress and even win free stuff right here on FilmmakerIQ.

Upcoming Dolly Zoom Workshop

Upcoming Dolly Zoom Workshop

We’ll have more details coming as we roll out this new version of the site in the coming days as we clear the sawdust from the code.

Let us take a quick moment to thank each and every one of you that has followed us here on the site, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, Pinterest and everywhere else. Your support means the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

But… you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.

Here’s to another great year my friends!

John & Dennis



Best Screenwriting Tips for Great Dialogue

Wendy Kram looks at the writing of Mad Men and deducts some tips for how to write sparkling dialogue.

Betty Draper

As a producer and script consultant who reads hundreds of screenplays, one of the most common weaknesses in the majority of scripts I review has to do with dialogue that is expositional, or what we call “on the nose” — where characters state exactly what they are thinking and feeling, or tell us information we already know. One of the best things you can do for your career as a screenwriter is to write great, believable dialogue that defines your characters and is rich with subtext. Producers, readers (the gate-keepers), agents, and executives will take notice, want to meet you, and hire you.

Finding great dialogue among thousands of scripts can be a rare commodity and if you can develop this skill, it will make you stand out and get you work.

My primary tip with respect to writing great dialogue is to avoid exposition at all costs, meaning don’t have your characters state exactly what they are feeling, thinking and/or summarizing action they plan to take, or have already taken. Ironically, great dialogue can occur in the absence of words – allowing your characters silences and unspoken actions that take place between what they say. It’s the old adage: Show, don’t tell (or don’t over explain).

In Mad Men, one of the series’ most memorable and shocking moments took place when Betty Draper shot at her neighbor’s pigeons right after she had a failed stint at getting back into her former modeling career. Don told her she didn’t need to work because she was a great mother. Betty had just finished making pancakes for her children. On the surface, she should have been happy, but she was frustrated and stifled by her domestic role, and rather than say so, she went outside and took aim.

ScriptMag | Read the Full Article


How Brando Broke the Movies

Tom Shone looks at the life and career of Marlon Brando.


Hollywood extracted entirely the wrong moral from the story of Marlon Brando. Working when the studio-contract system crumbled in the 1950s, he quickly leveraged the power he had accrued from his theatrical performances into a series of one-picture deals, allowing him to exercise unprecedented freedom in selecting roles. Straight out of the gate, he played a paraplegic (in The Men, 1950), a Polish factory salesman (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951), a Mexican revolutionary (Viva Zapata!, 1952), a Roman general (Julius Caesar, 1953), and a biker (The Wild One, 1953)—a remarkable, radar-jamming zigzag across the field that left the star system looking as fixed and faded as the stars once painted onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That zigzag is now standard course for the modern movie-star changeling, flattered for “disappearing” into roles by everyone—studio heads, casting agents, publicists, magazine writers, even critics—except the general public, which gives no sign that its conception of the stars has moved an inch. Instead, chameleonism has become its own form of marquee spectacle: come see the stars transform. We don’t go to the movies anymore to be convinced. We go to be tricked—to admire acting as a kind of special effect. Watching Christian Bale, with a bloated belly and a thick Brooklyn accent, flop around in a comb-over in American Hustle, we must, for the performance to succeed, at the same time hold in our minds the idea of Christian Bale as we know him: a handsome Englishman who has also portrayed Bruce Wayne. As with trompe l’oeil, the trick must work but not work, simultaneously.

If chameleonism is bunk, then Brando’s chameleonism is double bunk. Even great screen actors generally have only two performances in them: a version of themselves and an inversion of themselves. Modifying that for the psychoanalytically inclined Method, we might say Brando’s two great roles were himself and his father, an ex–Army engineer turned salesman who beat his son and enrolled him at the local military academy in an attempt to instill some discipline in the boy. As they say: good luck with that. Brando played a military man eight times, his portrayals culminating in Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, as if exploding his father’s authority from within, like an ingested grenade. He was also one of the most fantastically undisciplined talents to grace the silver screen, turning indolence into its own style—“soft spoken, deeply independent, smiling, gentle, no aggression, subtly humorous, cat-like, lazy, not easy to frighten, or rush; amused at others, secure and confident,” in the words of Elia Kazan. Watch those early performances, and everyone else is projecting for the rafters, delivering their lines with a smile, like paperboys flinging the morning paper across the lawn. And then there is Brando, imperturbable as a whale, scratching an eyebrow or fondling a quarter, his voice both sleepy and alive, its inarticulacy anchoring him so unmistakably in the here and now of a living, breathing consciousness that he supplies the scene with a whole new gravitational center. It’s no contest: a machine-gun nest against the cavalry, a Chanel dress in a roomful of Edwardian bodices. As James Franco wrote in The New York Times recently, “Brando’s performances revolutionized American acting precisely because he didn’t seem to be ‘performing,’ in the sense that he wasn’t putting something on as much as he was being.”

The Atlantic | Read the Full Article

How to Save Indie Distribution in 5 Easy Steps

Straith Schreder is the Director of Content Strategy, BitTorrent, Inc., which has worked with Drafthouse Films on its BitTorrent Bundle. Below Schreder outlines the ways in which Drafthouse Films is an indicator of where independent distribution is headed. Schreder highlights five ways that Drafthouse Films gets the new distribution model right.

Cheap Thrills

Alamo Drafthouse started out in Austin: a single theater, reclaimed. It has since grown up and grown into 19 theaters across the US. And it’s also morphed into something wholly different: a predictor, maybe, of what’s to come in indie. From a single cinema storefront, to a cross-country chain, to a distributor: Drafthouse is now home to a catalogue of titles that together make up some of film’s most challenging works. Drafthouse isn’t just surviving digital upheaval. They’re thriving.

How do they make it work? It comes down to five basic (or not-so-basic) things:

1. Run independent film like a record label. Really.

There’s a common complaint about Hollywood in the Internet age: studios should be more like startups. It’s a good point, when it comes to marketing. It’s a bad analogy when it comes to branding. Because you don’t have a single product to sell. You have a catalog.

The better model is outside tech. It’s actually in the music industry. Independent record labels are remarkable at creating specificity and difference around a catalog. Think Stones Throw or Sub Pop.

Think about Drafthouse:

• They’re anchored in a city; a scene.
• We feel like we know their staff.
• We can kinda picture their art; their offices.
• Each project sounds different, but shares a sensibility

A label’s curation isn’t algorithmic. It’s obvious and human. Because it is, each release functions as an ad for the next. Which is an idea worth stealing.

IndieWire | Read the Full Article

‘Penny Dreadful’ Costume Designer Gabriella Pescucci on Her Dreadfully Delicious Designs

Costume Designer Gabriella Pescucci discusses her inspirations for the wardrobe of the characters on Penny Dreadful.

Penny Dreadful

Showtime’s freshman drama “Penny Dreadful,” which will be wrapping up its first season this Sunday, is more than just a period piece. Blending the fantastic with reality, “Penny Dreadful” contemplates Victorian sexual philosophy, cultural appropriation and mankind’s relationship to authority.

Although the writers provide the framework for worldbuilding a genre-bending show like “Penny Dreadful,” it is the artisans working on the production side; namely the production designer, the make-up artist and on “Penny Dreadful” in particular it is costume designer Gabriella Pescucci who carries out the meticulous execution that breathes life into a world originally conceived in the corners of the imagination and put rather hastily to paper.

Throughout her career, Pescucci has worked with some of cinema’s most legendary auteurs, including Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. After more than 40 years designing costumes for film, Pescucci made the leap into television with Neil Jordan’s 2011 Showtime series, “Borgias.”

For Pescucci, however, the transition from film to television hasn’t really been much of a transition at all. “For me, there is no difference. I never think that is TV,” she told Indiewire via email. “Also, because of High Definition, there is the possibility to see all the details of my work.”

IndieWire | Read the Full Article

How to Build Your Own Inexpensive Transport Equipment Cases

Jeff Johnston walks through the construction of transport equipment cases that look great and don’t cost as much as a large gig case.

DIY Case

Basic tools and carpentry techniques can save you a lot of cash when protecting your valuable hardware! Like a lot of video producers on a budget I’m always looking for ways to save cash while moving forward with the realistic hardware needs of various projects. The recent purchase of a pair of vintage Colortran 2K Fresnel lights nudged me to seek some type of protective storage and transport case option that wasn’t insanely priced. These are big fixtures and they call for big cases.

These cases are NOT, however, designed for shipping or as checked baggage because they probably wouldn’t hold up to the abuse dished out by airline baggage-handling gorillas. For transport and storage they work great.

I’m a far better carpenter than a metal or plastics/composites fabricator so wood is my material of choice for such projects. These cases use materials and hardware that’s readily available from your local home-improvement store. For lighter weight I’d use 1/4-inch plywood but I chose 1/2-inch plywood for this job due to its extra strength. If it has a flat top, is portable, it’s higher than ground level and it’s on set, it’s going to be sat on, stood on, used as a lunch break table, camera support unit, impromptu workbench surface and so on. Extra strength is a plus.

DIY Photography | Read the Full Article

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