Red tail lights glow in an inky black tunnel. In voiceover, a woman’s voice softly reads. “Laura,” the email begins. The sender writes of encryption, passwords, the government documents he intends to send and the reason he addressed this email to her. “You’ve been selected,” Laura speaks, as the sender goes on to explain that every phone call she makes, trip she embarks on, person she befriends will be observed, recorded, surveilled. “This is a story few but you can tell.” With this cool, measured voiceover, drawing us into her life at the moment it changed forever, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras begins the third film in her post 9/11 trilogy, CITIZENFOUR. Titled after the handle of that emailer, who we… Read more
There are a lot of videos that offer how-tos and hacks for creating a relatively affordable bullet time effect by marshaling a little technological ingenuity. This one from last year is probably more elaborate an effort than most people will care to make: in a bit over five minutes, you can watch the condensed six month process, which comes with a recipe-like ingredient list up front: 40 tin cans, 10.8 kilograms of sawdust, using 60 meters of 35mm film and so on.
Panasonic is now shipping their new VariCam models, the 35 and HS. Panasonic first displayed mockups of a camera at NAB in 2012, but they didn’t announce these models until NAB 2014, and it’s taken another seven months to finally ship the product. The VariCam is really two sensor head units and a single recording unit that can be attached to either sensor unit. The VariCam 35 has a 35mm 4K sensor with a PL mount, while the Varicam HS is a 2/3” HD sensor with a B4 mount and the ability to capture at 240fps. The HS model is primarily intended for sports and documentary work. The recording unit can be separated from the head by an umbilical chord and the side-mounted… Read more
Nominees were announced this morning for the 24th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards by IFP, with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood receiving the most nominations, including Best Picture. Birdman received two awards, including Best Director (for Alejandro G. Iñárritu) and Best Actor (Michael Keaton). The Best Picture nominations were rounded out by Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and a left-field pick, Jonathan Glazer’s unsettling tale of alien visitation, Under the Skin. The Gothams are also awarding a Special Jury Award to the three lead actors of Foxcatcher: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum. “Each year the Gotham Awards honor the best work from our independent storytellers and help new audiences discover their work,” said Joana… Read more
The tropes of American independent filmmaking — in this cast, the tale of a latchkey child wandering the city — are a deceptive red herring in the surprising and rewarding short film Bag Man, by commercial directors Jonathan and Josh Baker. Currently making the online rounds, the film blends a sensitive, character-based tale of a Harlem youth left on his own with… well, I won’t spoil the surprise. The directors were interviewed over at Short of the Week: BAG MAN feels like it takes a narrative-first approach to filmmaking, serving up its audience an intriguing and well-considered storyline, how did the concept originate and were there any existing works that played a major influence on the story? This short has… Read more
“An iPad app for explorers,” the just-launched Humanity dubs itself as a “new kind of travel show that places authenticity and storytelling above all else.” Notably, Humanity avoids star ratings, food porn and shopping tips in favor of immersive looks into the landscape and the people of a particular place of interest. From the press release: Humanity is an app that allows you to choose your own path. We don’t want you to check-off a country, we want you to live and breathe it, to explore its many offerings and expand your horizons. While quality storytelling will always be our main objective, we want the process of exploring a country to be exciting, interactive, and fun – just like real… Read more
Activist, hacker and computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, a subject in Laura Poitras’s riveting and important CITIZENFOUR, shot Filmmaker‘s Fall issue cover — an eerie portrait of Poitras at home in Berlin, filmed on discontinued Kodak Color Infrared (EIR) film. Here, via email, is Appelbaum on the photograph: I have been shooting with Kodak Color Infrared (EIR) film for the better part of a decade thanks to a kind introduction to the medium by Canadian artist Kate Young. Sadly shortly after discovery of the film, I learned that it was discontinued by Kodak. The film was given an extra lease on life by Dean Bennici. Dean bought a large supply and recut the film for people keen on shooting 35mm,… Read more
Has it been too long since you saw the Trimark pyramid logo? Would you like to revisit an ill-spent vidiot past but you’re in a hurry? This efficiently quasi-nightmarish video exploits the inherent strangeness of logos derived from primitive computer graphics and rudimentary synth tones, layering about 50 such specimens on top of each other. The dual visual and sonic pile-up is hypnotic in a vaguely unnerving way.
“The most important task is to make great movies,” said Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam at the start of Thursday’s Artist Services Workshop at IFP’s Filmmaker Conference. “All this talk about audiences is meaningless unless you have something in your heart you want to… Read more
Activist, hacker and computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, a subject in Laura Poitras’s riveting and important CITIZENFOUR, shot Filmmaker‘s Fall issue cover — an eerie portrait of Poitras at home in Berlin, filmed on discontinued Kodak Color Infrared (EIR) film. Here, via email, is Appelbaum… Read more
Can we permanently delete the term “home stretch” in a festival context? All right then. In the NYFF’s final week, the best fiction in the Main Slate is stronger (arguably) and more obscure (undoubtedly) than just about everything that has come before. Products of exceptional… Read more
With his debut feature, St. Vincent, Ted Melfi may seem like one of those out-of-nowhere independent sensations that pops on the scene a few times a year. But as he explains in the interview below, he has actually been behind the camera for years —… Read more