Category Archives: Film

WHAT INSPIRES YOU – Part 12 featuring Ben Wheatley

It’s been a while since I’ve stumbled across these funny forays into the Criterion Collection‘s backroom.

Director Ben Wheatley gets to dig into the Blu-ray collection in this one. I haven’t seen his KILL LIST or HIGH RISE, but our cinematographer Shane Daly continues to champion KILL LIST for its unorthodox structure. It keeps rising up on in the queue (which gets reshuffled or over-stacked based upon recommendations… most recently Tarkovsky’s STALKER was added to one of the top spots… from way down in 50s).

I’m still a huge fan of Blu-ray over streaming because I don’t like the color and contrast reproduction in most streaming services — even Netflix’s 4K. They is still and unacceptable amount of compression that is greater than a Blu-ray’s compression.

And it’s fucking impossible to easily and accurately rewind a movie from a streaming platform, which is sort of critical when you’re looking at a film with a filmmaker’s eye.

Behind The Scenes from BLOOM

Directing BLOOM in Atlanta

Here are some production stills from the TV pilot sizzle we directed in March 2017.

Directing has to be the most intense rush one can get in the entertainment world. You prepare for weeks, if not months, for a few lightning quick days. Days that are filled with joy, exasperation, and revelation.

Setting marks during film of BLOOM Copyright © 2017 ShadowBoxer Cinema

Story Construction – Pixar’s 22 Writing Laws

pixar logo story telling at its best
Pixar logo

We’re not the first to post Pixar‘s 22 Writing Laws and we certainly won’t be the last, but bare in mind — it is always good to review story fundamentals to stay sharp.

Jazz giant John Coltrane would practice scales EVERY DAY for hours, why? To keep his craft at the utmost sharpness. In the film & TV game, the competition is entirely too fierce for one not to strive for the very best each and every time. And the Pixar Brain Trust has an unbelievably impressive track record of winners at the box office and at Oscar time. And each PIxar film’s success came down to an impressive, driving story.

As Bryan Tracy advises: find out what the best are doing and do what they do.

Continue reading Story Construction – Pixar’s 22 Writing Laws

Hearing Your Draft Read Aloud

One of the things that weigh on screenwriters is the number of people who actually read your material. Unless it’s getting made, perhaps 30 people TOPS will read the work you’ve spent countless hours on. Such is the vagaries and frustrating aspects of the business.

What is doubly irksome is a screenplay isn’t a work that is supposed to be “read”, it’s a document that is designed to be performed and to marshall resources and personnel so it can be filmed.

Continue reading Hearing Your Draft Read Aloud

Jenkins Influenced by Wong Kar Wai

The Criterion Collection has a new feature called UNDER THE INFLUENCE… which, as you can imagine if it is from Criterion, is a smart and compelling discussion of what films have influenced en vogue or stalwart film auteurs.

Barry Jenkins, director of the knockout MOONLIGHT, discusses his thoughts and feelings on the two WKW films Criterion has the license for – CHUNGKING EXPRESS (this is now out of print) and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE.

WKW is one of my favorite directors, his films are like intimate visual novels with great expanses of poetry interspersed within the scintillating narrative.

Continue reading Jenkins Influenced by Wong Kar Wai

When cinematographers strive for the “ugly”

On Roger Deakins’ Instagram, he recently posted a quote from the incomparable Conrad L. Hall: Connie used to say he wanted his films to look ugly, to capture something that we [cinematographers] shy away from [beautifully lit images] in making movies. Ugliness can have a certain beauty as well. There’s a strange dichotomy going on there.

What is Ugly Cinematography?

What Hall was championing is eschewing the most flattering and revealing lighting set-ups; withholding visual information is just as important as withholding narrative information. And “ugly” cinematography by a Deakins or a Hall or a Libatique or a Debie won’t be ugly-ugly (which for most means poorly composed and lit), but where harshness overrides the glamor.

Take a look at this clip from IN COLD BLOOD (shot by Hall) and notice the high contrast lighting doesn’t illuminate Robert Blake (yes, that Robert Blake) in a way that makes him look agreeable or even handsome. But the beauty of the image is sublime.

Continue reading When cinematographers strive for the “ugly”

Large-Format Cameras and Lenses

The other day my brother Alex and I were talking about large-format cinema cameras and what makes that acquisition format special, considering that the Oscar-winning film THE REVENANT used the Alexa 65, and just prior to that DP Robert Elswitt, ASC photographed the underwater vault sequence in MISSON: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION with the same camera. He needed the highest resolution and frame size for the extensive CG work required to pull off that amazing, high-tension moment.

Large-format cinema, primarily 70mm films from the late 50s through late 60s have always fascinated me, starting with LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

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Premiere of ARCHITECTS OF CRIME at LA Shorts Film Fest 2016

On Saturday, September 3, 2016, our film ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiered at the LA Shorts Fest… one of the Academy Award-qualifying film festivals.

We had a blast unveiling our film for the audience at LA Shorts Film Fest, and to our fabulous cast and crew who were in attendance.

Daniel L. Abrams, Hilliard Guess, Indra Bartona, William Derrick, Ko Massiah, Christopher Derrick, Peter Lucas.... filmmakers, producers, cast of ARCHITECTS OF CRIME, LA Shorts Fest - LA Live, Regal Cinemas
Daniel L. Abrams, Hilliard Guess, Indra Bartona, William Derrick, Ko Massiah, Christopher Derrick, Peter Lucas…. filmmakers, producers, cast of ARCHITECTS OF CRIME, LA Shorts Fest – LA Live, Regal Cinemas

 

Hillard Guess, William Derrick, Luther Mace, Christopher Derrick - ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere, LA Shorts Film Fest - LA Live, Regal Cinemas
Hillard Guess, William Derrick, Luther Mace, Christopher Derrick – ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere, LA Shorts Film Fest – LA Live, Regal Cinemas

 

Ana Zimhart and William Derrick at LA Shorts Fest, LA Live - Regal Cinemas
Ana Zimhart and William Derrick at LA Shorts Fest, LA Live – Regal Cinemas
Peter Lucas, William Derrick - ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fest, LA Live - Regal Cinemas
Peter Lucas, William Derrick – ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fest, LA Live – Regal Cinemas
Christopher Derrick, Hilliard Guess, Mario Perry, Indra Bartona - ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fes - LA Live, Regal Cinemas
Christopher Derrick, Hilliard Guess, Mario Perry, Indra Bartona – ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fes – LA Live, Regal Cinemas
Ana Montgomery Photo LA Shorts Fest AM28175
Filmmakers, producers, cast, and crew for Architects of Crime premiere, LA Shorts Fest, LA Live – Regal Cinemas.
Ana Montgomery Photo LA Shorts Fest AM28135
William Derrick, Marcos Efron, Bobo at ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere, LA Shorts Film Fest – LA Live, Regal Cinemas

 

Waiting for the film to play on the big screen - William Derrick, Hilliard Guess, Christopher Derrick
Waiting for the film to play on the big screen – William Derrick, Hilliard Guess, Christopher Derrick

 

Main title card for ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fest - LA Live, Regal Cinemas
Main title card for ARCHITECTS OF CRIME premiere at LA Shorts Film Fest – LA Live, Regal Cinemas

Continue reading Premiere of ARCHITECTS OF CRIME at LA Shorts Film Fest 2016

First Festival Selection for Architects of Crime

,Proud to announce that our science fiction film noir short film Architects of Crime is an official selection of the 2016 Action On Film International Film Festival.

AOF2016OS

The Festival Game

We’ve had films in festivals before (F*ck You, Pay Me! screened at the  Hollywood Black Film Festival, Amsterdam in the Picture, and the Seattle Science Fictions Shorts Film Festival, to name a few). We even took home top prize. Which is an accomplishment, to say the least. It’s a tremendous honor to have your film screen on the festival circuit. It’s were you get a different type of exposure; the audiences are more inclined to appreciate alternative storytelling styles and endings.

One of the things that sort of sucks about making indie films and shorts (and particularly writing screenplays) is the target audience isn’t the actual viewing audience. It’s a small collection of people who then make a decision if a wider audience is going to see your film. And the big reason you seek the “I like this” decision for the Hollywood so-called taste maker ranks is that marketing dollars will be spent on your film if they get excited about your work.

Oone doesn’t need Hollywood’s permission or sanction to get your film seen by audiences, not with YouTube and Vimeo and all the other streaming platforms available. However, where Hollywood has the market cornered is marketing and advertising. It’s as if  Hollywood film distributors are actually niche ad agencies *it’s a wonder that a company like Publicis doesn’t snap up a film studio with its intricate distribution machine).

You have to do a great deal of self-promotion to raise awareness of your film just using social media. Selection and subsequent screening in a film festival adds to the audience awareness critical mass that you’re after.

We’re so excited!