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.
What subtextual value the filmmaker assigns to a given color.
What specific color palette is used.
Filmmaker’s Color Tools
In cinema, color comes in two forms – light and production design (which includes costumes, hair, make-up, props, and set design); top-of-their game filmmakers utilize both to fit the characters and the themes of their stories.
There’s a fascinating and informative book called “If It’s Purple, Someone’s Going To Die” by Patti Bellantoni. She dissects how color is employed in a film’s production design to elevate, spotlight, or suggest various themes, emotions, and foreshadowing.
The Vimeo video below will give you an idea of how certain directors have implemented some form of color theory in their work.
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.
These are a few more of the behind the scene photos for ARCHITECTS OF CRIME. MovieMaker magazine was gracious enough to hi-lite our work on its Instagram feed.
Looking at these now, several months later, the project looks ambitious, but every film project one directs can be considered ambitious because of the number of people you have to persuade to be on your same page. This means no one is above the film; that’s why egos must, under no uncertain terms, be checked at the door. The greater (or shall I more fragile) the ego at the department head level or above, the more trying directing a film can be. Everyone’s name goes on the film, and why does that no satisfy one’s ego? Why does that fail to give one satisfaction, because if it did then the yelling, screaming, and sabotaging wouldn’t happen.
We are forever thankful and grateful to our collective team who helped make this happen.
The official trailer for ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story. The pluses is that we’re seeing the Star Wars universe with NO hint of the Skywalker Clan as main characters in the story… which after 7 films that story element has worn extremely thin (and we have two more films to go).
The minuses… it’s a story about the Death Star, which makes the fourth film to deal with a similar type of planetary menacing weapon. And since this is obviously about the mission that leads into getting the stolen data tapes into Princess Leia’s hands, so she can upload them into R2-D2 to kick off STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE.
Another plus! Forest Whitaker. Not since LAST KING OF SCOTLAND have I been more excited to see him in a film. He adds a quality to his universe that we haven’t seen… sure, Samuel L. Jackson was in the misbegotten prequels, but he doesn’t fit into this kind of universe. Whitaker elevates every scene he’s in, and when he’s not the star he brings nuance and energy and gravitas like only a rare few can do.
Another minus… the visual “lens”; just once would I like to see a Star Wars film executed with the directorial panache of an “artiste”; yeah, that sounds pretentious as fuck, but you know what I’m getting at here. Guys like the late, great Tony Scott or Danny Boyle or Steven Soderbergh never get a shot at directing a franchise film because they parameters of the franchise are too constricting to their director’s voice, and the producers and studio have the fiduciary obligation to cherish the franchise, to deliver these exact replicas of what made the franchise a franchise in the first place. But if these guys (or girls) were given the reins, it would be like the best fan fiction imaginable…
So Christmas this year… I guess all the other movie studios are going to concede December and April to Disney for the next 5 years (consider the Star Wars Film and the Marvel films). It’s probably a good time to buy Disney stock.