Can Independent Film Be an Addiction?
Addiction. It’s a bad thing, right? Except that a lot of businesses are based around it. I’m not just talking about the illegal business of selling narcotics, but about other things. Junk food is certainly an addiction, but so are things like video games. In our Fall, 2011 issue, Game Engine columnist Heather Chaplin wrote that understanding addiction — the system of challenges, rewards and dopamaine delivery — is key to any successful game designer. She quoted Dr. Bennett Fody, fellow and deputy director of The Institute of Science and Ethics at Oxford University, who said, “The design of video… Read more
The Shameless Satire of Lana Del Rey
“The cleverest piece of cultural criticism” to appear in 2012 is from none other than media-made pop singer Lana Del Rey, argues n+1‘s Christopher Glazek in the year-end edition of Artforum. Indeed, Rey’s two recent videos, which have an outsized, ’80s ambition to them, are fascinating jaw-droppers. Here, Glazek gets at why: Men hardly ever speak in Del Rey’s videos. Their silence also permeates Ride. This more recent video follows the life of a streetwalking saloon singer in Big Sky Country who spends her days and nights among the motorcycle-gang members she picks up and services on the road. Although… Read more
Memories of Mexico
Filmmaker Iva Radivojevic keeps a wonderful Tumblr where she posts short films derived from her world travels and couples them with broader musings on cinema, art and politics. Last year, Radivojevic made fantastic documentary shorts shot during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Now, just uploaded, is a very different kind of short that uses cut-out animation to both isolate the sounds and sights of a small Mexican town as well as function as a kind of representation of memory. Here’s how she introduces it: In April I took a little trip down the Mexico. I purposely left the camera at… Read more
Buy a Relationship with James Franco for $6,000
A couple of weeks ago we selected Stephen Elliott’s Happy Baby for our curated Kickstarter page, and since then he’s been adding a number of provocative awards to the campaign. The most interesting was added today: for $6,000, Elliott will transfer to you his relationship with the actor and director James Franco, who starred in his feature About Cherry and owns the rights to his novel The Adderall Diaries. Muses Elliott, “What does that mean?” “I’m not really sure,” he continues. “I can’t promise anything from James, but I’ll send you a notarized document transferring full ownership.” Memorializing and transferring… Read more
Phillip Van’s Amazing Post-Sandy Blackout Photos
Filmmaker and former 25 New Face Phillip Van took his camera out during the New York blackout and came away with a beautiful series of long-exposure shots capturing the city’s architecture and workers without their customary nocturnal illumination. Here’s what he had to say via email: I shot the photos on a regular old Canon 5D. One night I had a tripod. Another I went handheld so I could travel more. The city was pitch black and ominous. Buildings felt like mausoleums. But if you stayed out long enough, your eyes adjusted to candles and shadows behind curtains and you… Read more
What if You Could Crowdfund a Filmmaker, Not a Film?
Here’s something I’ve always wondered: why are film investments always focused on the film, not the filmmaker? In other words, why don’t investors taking a chance on a first-time filmmaker get more than just the usually non-existent returns from that debut feature? Often what hits after the debut of a first feature is not the film but the filmmaker. The movie gets bought for a modest amount and usually underperforms, often leaving the investors with some degree of loss. But, after that film, the filmmaker is, well, a filmmaker, and in a position to move on to bigger and more… Read more
When Should You Give Up, a Postscript
Remember “When Should You Give Up?” It was one of our most commented upon posts here at Filmmaker, an extended conversation about the practicalities as well as psychological ramifications of quitting. Quitting a specific project, that is, not filmmaking in general. The post was inspired by a post by author Edan Lepucki over at the Millions titled “Shutting the Drawer: What Happens When a Book Doesn’t Sell?” Lepucki wrote about how, when the novel she had been working on for so long didn’t sell, she simply packed it in and started working on another. No flogging it for years, exploring… Read more
Is Creative Work Only for the Privileged?
J. Maureen Henderson at Forbes asks a question for these times: “Are Creative Careers Now Exclusively Reserved for the Privileged?” She primarily refers to writing and publishing jobs, but her question applies to the film world too. Henderson’s piece quotes from another by writer Alexandra Kimball, who writes at Hazlitt about breaking into publishing… when you can’t afford to be an intern. From Kimball: To be a writer in this market requires not only money, but a concept of “work” that is most easily gained from privilege. It requires a sense of entitlement, the ability to network and self-promote without… Read more
What’s So Controversial About Beasts and the SAG Awards?
I’m a little perplexed by the mini-controversy that has erupted over the Screen Actors Guild determination that the actors in Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild are ineligible to receive Screen Actors Guild Awards because the film was not made under a SAG contract. (In other words, the film did not employ professional actors.) From Scott Feinberg in the Hollywood Reporter: Director Benh Zeitlin, out of financial necessity (he had a budget of just $1.3 million) and a desire for the greatest possible sense of authenticity (his film revolves around eccentric characters who populate a remote part of America’s… Read more
More New Year’s Resolutions for Filmmakers
In 2011 on New Year’s Day I posted “New Year’s Resolutions for Filmmakers” — 10 items filmmakers could embrace to improve their practice and thought processes for the year ahead. Last year, I thought about revising or updating it but couldn’t think of much to add. This year I looked at it again, and had some new thoughts. It’s still a decent list, and if you want to read something that will prod you in the gentle, empathetic, self-help-y manner of lists of these kind, a post full of to-do items you can file alongside “lose weight” and “be present… Read more