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.
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.
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.
There are very few science fiction classics that broach a subject that could have seriously affected the real world like Philip K Dick‘s MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. Its premise – The Axis Powers won World War II and conquered the planet (we assume they have, since they occupied the US).
As we prepare our press kit for the Sundance Film Festival submission, we had a chance to review the behind the scenes stills (you forget these things in the midst of post).
It’s only in the behind the scenes photos do the technicians and crafts people get a chance to be “seen”. Yet every filmmaker knows the Fitzcaraldo-esque journey that you embark on each time you walk on to the set is team effort.
British filmmaker Mike Leigh has an incredible flexible process as a filmmaker that I think is unparalleled in cinema, at least modern cinema. His films penetrate into the human condition in a rare, charming and devastating way.
One of our favorite comic book writers is Warren Ellis (Planetary, Trees, FreakAngels and Supreme: Blue Rose); not only is his work potent and inspiring and engaging and forward-thinking, it’s damn fun.
However, he also has a great capacity to engage with his audience, and specifically talk about the craft of comic book writing, and the business of comic book creating. Below is a reprint of an article he wrote on pitching comic books from his COME IN ALONE e-column from… from a long time ago.
Some people will tell you that you don’t have a chance without knowing an editor or some other bigwig at one of the companies, and introduction will do you wonders.
Others claim that a solid pitch will rise and get noticed, and if that’s the route you’re taking, here’s some advice from one of the masters…
All right. You’ve got your story. Now you want to try and sell it to someone.
So it’s finally here… the STAR WARS EPISODE VII VII trailer. The Force Awakens could resuscitate our feelings for the Star Wars franchise and universe… because that excitement had been snuffed out since the Han Shot First fiasco nearly twenty years ago…