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“Filmmakers Know ESPN Better Than Cinema”: DP Sean Price Williams on Shooting The Great Pretender With a DSLR and Today’s Film Climate

Sean Price Williams' rig on the set of The Great Pretender

While shooting a commercial in Thailand cinematographer Sean Price Williams (Good Time, Golden Exits, Marjorie Prime) contracted an ear infection. He let me rattle questions into his ear canals despite it. Two months prior The Great Pretender, the second feature film he had shot with writer/director Nathan Silver (Thirst Street, Stinking Heaven, Exit Elena), premiered in the Viewpoints section of Tribeca. Following the screening, Sean revealed that the film had been shot on a DLSR camera that could fit in one hand, with plastic, sparkle filters taped over the lens, completely eschewing a matte box.   He managed to photograph Brooklyn on his prosumer camera rig with character, with a neon grime that seems to rub off bug burnished electrical tubes,…  Read more

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Joan Micklin Silver on Casting Crossing Delancey and Steven Spielberg’s Role in Getting the Film Made

Peter Riegert and Amy Irving in Crossing Delancey

Joan Micklin Silver’s Crossing Delancey, her studio romantic comedy about a thirtysomething trying to escape her Lower East Side roots, is the epitome of the New York Woman series the Quad has been running all month. After a difficult experience at United Artists with her 1979 masterpiece Chilly Scenes of Winter, Silver took on her biggest production yet, an adaptation of Susan Sandler’s stage play, Crossing Delancey. The Nebraska native returned to examining Jewish identity in New York, as she did in her first film Hester Street, but instead of immigrants at the turn of the century, her focus was instead on Amy Irving and her clash with the more traditional ideas of her grandmother (Reizel Bozyk)—who goes so far…  Read more

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A Sense of Place: The Job of the Location Manager

John Latenser scouting for Nebraska

The following article appeared in Filmmaker’s Spring, 2018 print issue. Like many departments on a film set, the locations department has duties that are a mixture of artistic and practical, a blend of orchestrating creative epiphanies and managing tedious logistics. Location managers might jaunt off to explore tropical beaches or spend the day sharing their favorite secret enclave of New York with an esteemed director, but they also might toil for weeks figuring out where the crew will park, eat and go to the bathroom. And if you’ve ever worked on a low-budget movie without the cash for a fancy honeywagon, you know that invariably involves a plunger. “There’s nothing more exciting for me than getting on a plane and…  Read more

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“Zooms are Totally Underutilized”: Bo Burnham on Eighth Grade

Elsie Fischer in Eighth Grade

With Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade now in theaters, we’re reposting this interview with the writer/director conducted during SXSW 2018. The movie: Eighth Grade The Plot: Shy and uncertain (except when doling out life advice on her sparsely followed vlog), eighth grader Kayla (a revelatory Elsie Fisher) struggles through her last days of middle school. The Interviewee: Bo Burnham. Eighth Grade is the feature directorial debut for the multi-hyphenate writer/director/musician/stand-up comedian. Filmmaker: Let’s start by talking about opening shots. The way you open the Jerrod Carmichael stand-up special you directed for HBO — this extremely tight close-up with Carmichael already on-stage and mid-statement—- is truly one of the great opening moments of a performance film. In Eighth Grade you have another…  Read more

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Rocco and His Brothers, Dietrich and Von Sternberg, and Dragon Inn: Jim Hemphill’s Weekend Viewing Recommendations

Rocco and His Brothers

One of the most important restorations of the last few years makes its way to Blu-ray this week with Milestone’s exquisite release of Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers (1960). A brutally realistic, emotionally charged family saga that flies by in three of the most involving hours ever put on film, Rocco and His Brothers is an extraordinary combination of Visconti’s neorealist side (previously seen in Ossessione and La Terra Trema) and the operatic, ambitious tendency toward tumultuous historical change and penetrating social commentary that characterizes later masterpieces like The Leopard and The Damned. The film follows the brothers of the title as they move (with their suffocating mother) from a struggling farm to the big city and, over the…  Read more

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“You Have to Forge Your Own Path”: Rick Linklater Headlines an Austin Film Society Tribute in Karlovy Vary

Rick Linklater (Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary)

As a native Texan and dutiful SXSW attendee traveling to the Czech Republic, I was thrilled to hear that Richard Linklater and the Austin Film Society would be the subject of a Tribute at this year’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The 53rd edition of the Czech-based event that concluded July 7 screened an early print of Linklater’s $23,000 indie phenomenon Slacker (of which he introduced wearing an Astros baseball jersey); Eagle Pennell’s 1983 cult classic Last Night at the Alamo; Robert Rodriguez’s inaugural low-budget hit El Mariachi; and Tom Huckabee and William Van Overbeek’s surreal, image-laden doc Death of a Rock Star, depicting events from Jim Morrison’s life. Several short film strands were also screened, among them Yen Tan’s affecting…  Read more

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History Battles with “Fake News” at the 2018 Karlovy Vary Film Festival

I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) concluded its 53rd edition on July 7th, and with it a solid line-up of both Western and Eastern European fare. Romanian director Radu Jude (Aferim!) won the Grand Prix for his darkly comedic past-meets-present holocaust drama I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians, and Barry Levinson won the Audience Award for Rain Man — a film that gave him the Oscar for Best Picture in 1989. The 76-year-old director was also honored with the Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema. Before discussing the film and industry programming, I’ll note that it was my first time at the festival, and I was initially enchanted by the town’s…  Read more

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“Don’t Sell Out, Don’t Give Your Art to a Corporation”: Secrets of DIY Doc Distribution at DOC NYC PRO

RAMS

There are many reasons filmmakers might choose to self-distribute their documentaries: they may want residuals to come in throughout their careers, as opposed to what might be just a single upfront payment in an all-rights deal; they may feel a responsibility to their audience or subject matter to shepherd the project and not sell it off to a distributor focused on the bottom line; or maybe no one is knocking down their doors to buy your movie. At the recent DOC NYC PRO Distribution Book Camp, four filmmakers who have self-distributed projects (which can mean they are still self-distributing those same projects years later) offer candid thoughts on the how, why, and where of self-distributing. Who Gave Us Ideas Gary…  Read more

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