At the DGA screening of Edgar Wright’s BABY DRIVER, Christopher Nolan (of BATMAN and INCEPTION fame) handled the exceptionally smart Q&A with the near-manic Wright. Nolan’s questions discussed the project’s genesis (some 20 years in the making) and the complex pre-production process, which was told with a certain amount of joie de vivre! Wright, as you’d expect, is a solid raconteur.
BABY DRIVER is a… charismatic… film; to categorize it, I’d say it’s an action musical (a musical thriller is a moniker I’ve seen, too). Wright explained how every sequence was written for a specific song — with precise script page counts honed and refined to a given song’s run time! For example, if a chase was married to a song and the song was four and half minutes, then the chase was taking up four and a half pages in the script.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So l’enfant terrible Nicolas Winding Refn gets invited to the Criterion Collection.
I find Refn’s work hit-or-miss, but if it’s one thing it is consistently intriguing… DRIVE sort of elevated his stature in Hollywood, and unfortunately ONLY GOD FORGIVES dinged him. However, a film like BRONSON is where he gets to shine and dazzle.
His selections in the Criterion Collection closet are curious… it seems that most modern day auteurs bow down to Tarkovsky, and a lot of people yearn to see more Alex Cox (REPO MAN is delish).
I was a little surprised that he selected THINGS TO COME; but it’s a gem of a classic film that was so ahead of its time, and is one of the few films that can’t be duplicated because the world has moved to such a place that it is bizarre to conceive of something in the aftermath of a global-scale conflict that isn’t dystopian in the vein of the YA novels/movies that have dominated the Hollywood landscape for the last half decade.
Kazan’s advice… “Do it your way” is precisely the kind of thing Kazan would say, and it’s what filmmakers must do. Lest their work become forgettable. And that’s one thing we can say about Refn, his work is not forgettable.