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Filmmaking and Filmmaker: Advice for First-Timers from a Journalist-Turned-Director

After shipping the Fall 2006 issue of Filmmaker, where I had been the managing editor for nearly four years, I moved to Los Angeles to start my career as a movie director, the only thing I had ever wanted to do with myself. I had just turned 30, and I was behind schedule. At the time, my expectations didn’t seem so delusional. To begin with, I had found the story I needed to tell, something in a voice that was uniquely my own, and I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm. I had a top agency and management company behind me, along with some blue-chip indie producers. If all went according to what I was being told, we’d be in production…  Read more

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Fact and Constructed Fictions in the Bright Future Section of the International Film Festival Rotterdam

The Return

What is film but a desire to make visible that which we cannot see? Love. Hate. Or in the case of the latest from Penny Lane, pain. After having bowed at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam before, Lane’s return to the Bright Future section with the world premiere of The Pain of Others isn’t a surprise, but she’s certainly earned her place there. The found-footage, experimental doc, which despite being compiled of YouTube videos and newsreels, feels dense enough to require a dissertation on delusion, suffering and this digital age. Working in a similar form to the all-archival constructed Our Nixon! (2013), here Lane culled the depths of YouTube (a place that can easily become a modern day Mordor)…  Read more

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“What’s the Ripple Effect?… It Was the Most Complicated Script I’ve Ever Shot”: David Barrett on Directing the Time Loop Episode of Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery (Courtesy: CBS Interactive)

A couple years ago, I was in a hotel room flipping channels when I came across an episode of the popular CBS series Blue Bloods, an ensemble family drama in the form of a procedural anchored by Tom Selleck. I was struck almost immediately by how stylistically expressive the episode was; it was clear that the director had thought through a precise means of conveying each character’s perspective in a distinctive way, assigning specific focal lengths, camera moves, and color and lighting strategies to each protagonist. It was the kind of subtle but dynamic approach to visual design one finds in the classical Hollywood cinema of directors like Michael Curtiz and Victor Fleming, and I was stunned to find it…  Read more

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Inexplicable Traces: On the Beautiful Epiphanies of Mark Pellington’s Nostalgia

Nostalgia

Mark Pellington, along with David Fincher and Mark Romanek, began his filmmaking career in what might be called MTV’s heroic age. After a series of music videos, which include Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” U2’s “One” and R.E.M.’s “Drive,” he made two skillful, flashy, mid-sized star-driven studio thrillers — Arlington Road and Mothman Prophecies. Over the last ten years, a succession of his indie films have all dealt in sometimes comic, sometimes melodramatic terms with people trying to manage death. Alex Ross Perry, perhaps at one point associated with the mumblecore movement, whatever that exactly was, has for the last eight years, been working on micro budgets even tinier than Pellington’s. He’s written and directed four extraordinarily compelling dark comedies involving unusually…  Read more

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“The Narrative Model Used in TV Series Brings Us Back to a Stage That We Long Surpassed in Cinema”: Lucrecia Martel’s Rotterdam Masterclass

Daniel Giménez Cacho in Zama

Lucrecia Martel’s Zama was one of the few titles to escape the sweeping critical scorn heaped upon the cinematic year 2017. After getting passed on by Cannes (potentially because one of its producers, Pedro Almodóvar, was president of the jury – though that would only have disqualified it from the main competition) and inexplicably landing an out of competition slot in Venice, the long-anticipated fourth feature by one of today’s most distinguished auteurs was received with Twin Peaks: The Return-levels of enthusiasm in certain quarters. The comparison to Twin Peaks isn’t merely incidental: both are works of staggering confidence and complexity that freely flout conventions of film language, setting off across uncharted territory in pursuit of their author’s vision. In…  Read more

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“In the Master’s Narrative, We Don’t Hear the Stories of the Oppressed, the Disenfranchised, of Women”: Director Cathy Lee Crane on Her SF Indiefest Premiere, The Manhattan Front

The Manhattan Front

Developed with the support of a 2013 Guggenheim Creative Arts Fellowship, The Manhattan Front is experimental filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane’s first feature-length narrative film in a career spanning over two decades. True to Crane’s hybrid art film roots, though, The Manhattan Front melds melodramatic acting on silent-film-styled sets with newly digitized archival footage of daily life in New York City and on the front lines during World War 1. Via this unconventional approach Crane presents the true story of how a German saboteur’s plans to prevent American munitions from reaching Britain during a period of official U.S. neutrality became entangled with the progressive labor movement of legendary activist Elisabeth Gurley Flynn, resulting in consequences that arguably reverberate to this very…  Read more

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“Everybody Can Make Their Money Back and You Get to Make the Movie”: Mark Pellington on Nostalgia

Jon Hamm in Nostalgia

Director Mark Pellington has long been one of the American cinema’s foremost chroniclers of the connection between mortality, memory, and identity; questions related to how we define ourselves in life and how those lives define our legacies have been key in films as diverse as The Mothman Prophecies (a thriller in which Richard Gere becomes obsessed with the supernatural ramifications of his wife’s death), Father’s Daze (a documentary about Pellington’s father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease) and Of Time and Memory (an unconventional adaptation of Don Snyder’s novel about Snyder’s attempts to know his deceased mother). In Pellington’s last several features, these preoccupations have become obsessions, forming a kind of unofficial trilogy consisting of Henry Poole is Here, I Melt With…  Read more

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Filmmaking

Mandy

What is Producing? A Group of Sundance Producers Share Insights on Financing, Selecting Projects and Making a Career out of Making Movies

What is producing? I ask myself this question a lot, and the title on my business card literally reads “Producer.” I’m staff at a rad women-run studio in Brooklyn while also producing my own films as well as a handful of others. I say all…  Read more

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Feb 7, 2018

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