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Congratulations to Raindance MA Alumni, Milan-based Sofija Sztepanov, who has just been accepted into Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab. During her residency, Sofija will be developing her first feature film.

Sofija’s most recent project is the short film Antifeminist. You can keep updated with Sofija’s projects on her Twitter account. Her previous film, Tinder Will Understand, screened at the Raindance Film Festival.

The post Raindance MA Alumni Sofija Sztepanov Accepted into Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab appeared first on Raindance.

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Following up in his Master’s thesis hit film Eiditic -a martial arts action short film made on a $300 that screened at Comic Con and Raindance Film Festival-, Akash Sk has just shot a new film, The Summoning.

With his production company based in his native Sri Lanka, High School Junkies, this is the first production for the team that moves away from action and goes into the horror genre.

Read the full story here.

The post Raindance MA Alumni Akash Sk shoots horror short “The Summoning” appeared first on Raindance.

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Why are there no good video game movies? This is one of those questions that gamers have stopped asking, and for good reason. Every time a video game adaption is announced with big fanfare, usually during a big conference such as E3, people automatically assume it’s going to be bad. And, most of the times, it is. From the 1993 Super Mario film, which set the tone for many adaptations to come, to Alone in the Dark, Far Cry, Bloodrayne and Max Payne, all video game adaptations have been either ludicrously bad or, best case scenario, mediocre and forgettable.

So, what gives? Why aren’t the big studios, with their vast financial resources and talent pool, capable of delivering a decent adaptation? Sadly, there’s no definitive answer to this question, so let’s take it step by step.

The Nature of the Mediums

The most obvious reason for why video game adaptations don’t work is the nature of the two mediums. While video games are an interactive medium where players have more or less control over how the story unfolds, films are a more passive experience. 

This brings us to another, albeit slightly tangential, problem which is symptomatic of both industries: films needlessly attempting to replicate the experience of playing a video game, and video games trying to replicate the experience of watching a big-budget blockbuster. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with attempting to transpose the spirit of a video game in film form*, the efforts are more often than not misguided. 

Instead of taking full advantage of the core elements of the medium, such as editing, sound and acting to bring the spirit, story and universe of a game to life, filmmakers focus on recreating what they believe brings people to video games – the action sequences. This results in a watered down product that, apart from lacking the interactivity that attracts people to video games in the first place, are devoid of what made the source material good. 

* Doom (2005) with the first-person scene and Prince of Persia (2010) with the great parkour choreography are good examples in this respect. 

The Mediums Are Already Intersecting

This might seem contradictory to my first point, but hear me out: many games are already, in essence, films. If you take a look at the best selling AAA games of 2018, you will see that many of them have integrated cinematic elements into their story-telling. Examples in this respect are critically and commercially acclaimed franchises such as Mass Effect, The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, and Grand Theft Auto. If you’re familiar with the industry, you probably know that ‘’it’s just like a movie!’’ became a buzzword thrown around by AAA publishers to promote upcoming games.

So, since video games are already interactive films, why would anybody spend their money on a watered down, two-hour long version, when the real thing is a vastly, objectively superior experience? 

And there’s another aspect to this issue that, quite bafflingly, film producers choose to ignore. In the beginning, the emphasis was on the gameplay and mechanics, and the story was more often than not an afterthought slapped together to give the 1s and 0s some context. 

Only later, during the 90s – which some call the transitional phase –  after realising the storytelling potential of the medium, did developers start paying more attention to narrative. Naturally, in order to achieve mainstream credibility – remember, this was a time when gamers were still considered basement-dwelling slackers – games started borrowing heavily from films. One example in this respect is Tomb Raider, which was directly inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark and, indirectly, by 1930’s adventure films. 

Dubious Casting Choices 

This is not necessarily related to the talent of the actors, rather the casting process and ‘’artistic liberties’’ that filmmakers take when it comes to the characters. This is not to say a video game film has to follow the source material religiously, because this kind of defeats the purpose of an adaptation in the first place. 

But it becomes a problem when the casting choices and the changes made to the characters deviate entirely from the source material – or rather, its spirit, to reiterate a previous point. And when casting and characters are not at least partly in-line with their video game counterparts, the whole project falls apart. 

One evocative example in this sense is the critically panned film Max Payne, starring Mark Wahlberg as the protagonist, and Mila Kunis as Mona Sax. This is in no way a condemnation of Mark Wahlberg’s acting talent, as his work in The Departed and The Fighter proves that he’s capable of playing three-dimensional characters. 

The issue is that Wahlberg doesn’t have the gravitas or the innate broodiness necessary to portray a character such as Max Payne, a cynical cop with a knack for dark metaphors and self-deprecatory humuor. Not to mention the questionable casting of Mila Kunis for the role of Mona Sax, or Ludacris as Commissioner Jim Bravura, who in the game is twice his age, balding, overweight and white. And actually, this brings us to another problem…

Generational Lag 

According to an annual report published by the Entertainment Software Association, in 2018, gamers aged 18 or older make up for 70 % of the video game-playing population, while the average gamer is roughly 34 years old. Now, take a look at this list of the richest Hollywood producers. Notice anything strange? Yes, most of them are either Baby Boomers or Gen Xers. 

So, what’s the catch here? To make these projects happen, studios are required (nay, forced) to hire bankable talent in order to secure financing. Since many games are set in Sci or Fantasy settings, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars just to get these projects off the ground. 

With a few notable exceptions such as Henry Cavill, who is an avid gamer, most A-list Hollywood talents, from actors, screenwriters, directors to producers and editors, are not part of a generation that grew up with video games. Consequently, most projects end up in the hands of people who either don’t understand the medium of video games and the source material or who try to overcompensate for their lack of knowledge and experience by catering to the lowest common denominator. And often, with bad results.

I’d argue that this generational gap between the Hollywood high-ranks and the gaming population is the biggest reason why we haven’t seen a truly good video game adaptation. Until the current generation of gamers (which I’m a part of) or, more likely, the next one, reaches the top echelons of Hollywood, I doubt we will ever see a good video game film, apart from the rare oddity. 

Conclusion 

These are the main reasons why a truly good video game film has yet to bless the big screen. While there are many other factors involved, the dubious casting choices, the intersection of the two mediums, their different natures – one’s interactive, the other passive – and the generational gap between the people creating these films and gamers are the main culprits. To end things on a positive note, Netflix’s upcoming The Witcher series looks pretty good. Maybe it will represent the impulse that the industry needs to start producing good video game films. 

The post Why Many Video Game Films Are Bad appeared first on Raindance.

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All I hear is how terrible the challenges facing independent filmmakers are. Coming back from the Cannes Film Festival this spring I ran into two veteran British film producers, who between them had produced nigh on 60 features. They’d been nominated for or won several Oscars and who by any standard are considered to be highly successful. They were both very negative about the future of the film industry, and the prospects of making films like they had been over the past thirty years. ‘Independent Cinema’ is dead they argued.

I beg to differ.

No segment of the media industry has had as many changes since the Millennium as the film sector. Technology and film production has changed. Film distribution has changed. On top of that, rapid currency fluctuations have played havoc with film producers’ cash flow forecasts.

Here are the seven basic challenges facing fimmakers since the Millennium, and what I believe to be an effective strategic position to take for success.

1. The digital revolution has flooded the marketplace

Fact: Cheaper digital production methods have helped create more product than buyers.

Strategy: Make certain your movie is genre specific. Genre is the only way that a film buyer and the marketing manager of a distribution company can quickly visualise the movie poster, trailer and marketing campaign. Never forget that distributors buy genre, not drama.

2. Online distribution is becoming commonplace

Fact: On Valentine’s Day 2005 the co-founders of Youtube.com registered the name at www.whois.com. Youtube revolutionised film distribution and has changed the way consumers watch movies and television. The impact of illegal online distribution has also had the same impact on the film industry as it has the music industry.

Strategy: Develop a hybrid distribution strategy that encompasses traditional cinema/DVD/television releases with online distribution.

3. Hollywood is bankrupt of ideas

Fact: The gaming industry has influenced story telling techniques and filmmaking techniques. These new storytelling techniques dominate.

Strategy: Successful filmmakers are most likely artists who consider themselves visual storytellers using moving images to tell their stories. Incorporation of gaming techiques both in terms of storytelling and visualisation will make movies stronger.

And what of apps? Where a new video game can now cost $20m to develop and market, an app can be built for next to nothing.

4. Cinema distribution is still healthy but it is different somehow.

Fact: Not only has image and sound capture been dramatised by advances in digital technology like DSLR, but cinema distribution has been affected too. Britain screens are now fully digitised. . A digital screen does not need expensive 35mm film prints. Films can be emailed to a cinema screen’s hard drive and films can be scheduled easily with a click of a mouse. Cinema exhibition has also benefited from 3D technology. Like it or not, screens will be demanding 3D product. In America it is estimated that there will be an astonishing 25 million homes equipped with 3D TV screens by 2018.

Television networks are struggling to find enough HD content for their HD channels, let alone their new 3D channels like Britain’s Sky 3D.

Add to the mix online platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime and you have an entirely new distribution outlet.

Strategy: Successful filmmakers will learn how to communicate with television and cinema owners to deliver saleable content in the format which will deliver maximum revenue.

5. You can’t fund them like you used to

Fact: The Euro economic malaise has translated into public sector budget cuts, dampening the political appetite for using public money to fund films.

Strategy: Filmmaking should be commercially viable without the need for public funding, and film budgets need to stand the scrutiny of investors seeking cost-effective production, as well as a reasonable rate of return.

6. Producers struggle to get development funding

Fact: Development funding is hard to get. Yet without proper development, movies will continue to suffer from weak storylines.

Strategy: Until the script is fully developed, a movie should not be made.

7. Film producers don’t necessarily need to be involved with social media.

Fact: Social media is here to stay and a strong social media strategy is something that is becoming an essential part of a film’s package.

‘Paranormal Activity’ may have cost a mere $15,000 to make. What Paramount bought was not the film, but the social media strategy that the filmmaker Orin Pelli developed around his film.

Strategy: The film industry will embrace any filmmaker, writer, director or producer who has a strong and clearly defined social media strategy.

Fade Out

Why not come to the Raindance Film Festival? There are over 200 programmes and talks in all aspects of independent film. Raindance Tickes and Passes are available here.

The post 7 Challenges Facing Independent Filmmakers appeared first on Raindance.

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Before you write your next short, check out this list of great short films that were made in the 90s. This era is interesting right now because some of the best filmmakers today got their start making shorts in the 90s. A couple of these shorts even became features in their own right, kickstarting some seriously big careers. 

Bottle Rocket (1992) – Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket was the screen debut of little-known brothers Owen and Luke Wilson. Filmed in stylish black and white, Wes Anderson finds comedy and yet also deep human empathy in two clueless young men trying to find excitement in life by attempting to be high flying criminals. Its sarcastic humour and offbeat style doesn’t represent the modern Wes Anderson we know and love, but it demonstrates the same interest in whimsy and incongruous action that work so well in his more famous films. It finally screened at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. Its juxtaposition of stylish crime and deprecating comedy wowed James L. Brooks, big-time producer as well as developer of The Simpsons, which led to a feature film. Although unsuccessful at the box office, Anderson’s debut Bottle Rocket remains his most criminally underrated work, although Martin Scorsese listed it as one of his favourite films of the 1990s. 

The Waiters (1993) – Ken Webb

Ken Webb, a student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts made this film as part of his film school thesis. He collaborated with members of a comedy troupe called the New Group, which later became the State, which later had its own MTV series. Written by Thomas Lennon and starring Joe Lo Truglio, this film represents everything good about student film, wonderfully bending structure and narrative into a weird, hilarious and artful film that was a finalist at the Student Academy Awards. It’s a film that is literally about waiting, and this universal human experience is presented in many different paradigms, to humourous and yet touching effect. Ken Webb is the only director on this list that hasn’t had a hugely successful directorial career (to be honest, the only non-auteur), having become a lecturer, although it seems he has delved back into directing more recently. 

Cigarettes & Coffee (1993) – Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson already made The Dirk Diggler Story (the basis for Boogie Nights) as a 17-year-old in 1988, because life is unfair, but after dropping out of film school, he made Cigarettes & Coffee (busted, Jim Jarmusch), starring future PTA-regular and Seinfeld alumnus Philip Baker Hall. A Robert Altman style story of how many characters are connected by a $20 bill, the film screened at Sundance and formed the basis of Anderson’s debut feature Hard Eight (1996), starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson. The film already demonstrates PTA’s signature visual style, with a steady but fast moving camera, large cast and substitute father figures. He apparently financed the film mostly on his film school money as well as gambling winnings. Unfortunately Youtube only has a low res VHS rip.

Small Deaths (1996) – Lynne Ramsey

Lynne Ramsey’s graduation project from the National Film & Television School was Small Deaths, a series of vignettes demonstrating the staggered corrosion of innocence of a Scottish girl. It’s a quiet, nuanced film, with Ramsey’s own niece playing the little girl. Like The Waiters, it’s a film that structurally works well in short form, in this case providing a moving portrayal of external occurrences shaping the mind of a girl. It was screened at Cannes and widely acclaimed, helping to kickstart Ramsey’s career as a unique directing force. 

Doodlebug (1997) – Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan made a number of short films for the film society at UCL, before making his no-budget feature breakthrough Following in 1998, regularly cited as an example of high quality films made on extremely low budgets. Like that feature, Nolan shoots Doodlebug on 16mm in high contrast black and white, with Following’s Jeremy Theobald starring as a man whose sanity is slowly crumbling before his eyes as he tries to squash an elusive bug. Doodlebug is a perfect example of Nolan’s preoccupation with mind bending mystery and twists, as well as his unique practical ability to create remarkable, believable scenes on a low budget. 

The post Great Short Films from the 90s appeared first on Raindance.

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1. Visual storytelling

Film is primarily a visual medium. Those from the silent era  (D.W. Griffith‘s movies from the 1910’s, Buster Keaton‘s movies from the 1920’s etc.) are still referred to as ‘films’, which shows that the camera, more than the microphone, is a filmmaker’s tool; that film is primarily a visual medium.

So I would argue for ‘show not tell’ whenever possible. For instance, a character could say on screen to another character ‘she’s my girlfriend’ as exposition, or could be seen kissing whoever ‘she’ is. Both scenarios would get across the same message, and yet the former seems more lazy. 

Of course there are times when there simply isn’t time or a plausible reason for them to kiss, but if their actions can portray visually to the audience that they are dating then the movie is better using to its advantage the opportunity of film. If people wanted to listen to words, they could go and listen to a radio programme, where the microphone is the main tool.

That’s not to say that sound does not play a major role. I am referring to endless dialogue when I say that visual storytelling is the better option, but I have never been more impacted emotionally by anything in a movie than non-diegetic sound. What would Titanic (1997, dir. James Cameron) be without ‘My Heart Will Go On’? 

Sometimes a swelling score in the big moments can have a huge impact on our aesthetic senses, on the tone of the film. Or, equally, a lack of sound. The ending of The Godfather Part II (1974, dir. Francis Ford Coppola) is suitably bleak, due to its protagonist, sitting completely alone, in silence. After a three hour film full of expressive, jam-packed and noisy scenes, this quiet moment is reflective and allows the audience time to see and feel how hopeless it all is.

Overall, I think the emergence of the talkies in the late 1920’s has benefited films as mood pieces. In terms of storytelling, though, sound has not helped. Using dialogue to explain away every plot point in the film is lazy, and defeats the point of a visual medium.

Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2006) is the best example I’ve seen of visual storytelling. As talking films must do, it sets up some scenarios with dialogue, but manages to deftly walk the line between action and dialogue. The scenes that take place on the mountain, for instance, are a masterclass on telling a story cinematically. The few lines are all matter-of-fact, and do not spur the story on. We can see the pair herding sheep and falling in love, which is the story.

The music, too, is very beautiful, and lends a lot of emotional weight to the characters’ relationship. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ uses both sound and mise-en-scène in the best possible ways. Everything that happens on-screen tells the story, and the score provides melancholy emotion.

2.  A unique vision

There are some films I have watched which truly transport me to a place I’ve never seen and never will see, and yet make that place look and feel believable. Examples are Avatar (2009, dir. James Cameron), Star Wars (1977, dir. George Lucas), Interstellar (2014, dir. Christopher Nolan) etc.

I think one of the many great gifts of the medium is being able to take one person’s vision, have hundreds of people work to harness it and then have this thing which started out in somebody’s head reach thousands of people. Nowadays with the right budget anything is possible in filmmaking; and I wish, therefore, that big studios would move away from money-grabbing franchises and start to finance fresh ideas. Because without pioneers such as Christopher Nolan, we never would get to see any unique visions on the screen which have been financed to their full potential. 

For me, Hollywood needs to start moving towards first time ideas that will show people things they have never seen before – because that is one of the main things I look for in films.

Blade Runner (1982, dir. Ridley Scott) is the most visually striking film I’ve seen purely for the reason that it is an utterly unique vision from Ridley Scott. It was at the time a futuristic version of Los Angeles. And what a future! 

This film inspired countless others to use neon lighting, but very few have used it as well as this. The cityscape is bathed in saturated, unnatural lighting which adds a futuristic look. The religious elements of the story are supported by the beams of radiant light which stream through murky settings. 

‘Blade Runner’ is like a blend between cyberpunk, film noir and a religious painting, both in terms of mise-en-scène and in the events which take place. Scott can literally feel what things should look like; up to the point that he asked for some pillars in a hall to be turned upside down. There are tons of Netflix rip-offs and so forth of the film nowadays, but fortunately for me this was the first cyberpunk I saw, and so I got a feel of its originality.

3. Authentic, human characters

I have read an Alfred Hitchcock quote where he states that people do not go to films to see the familiar. As I said in my previous category, I love to be transported to another place, but at the same time there is something comforting to me about seeing characters or character traits that remind me of myself. That helps me to empathise with said character, and makes them emotionally resonate. 

As nobody is perfect, it is refreshing to see the flawed side of human nature represented. As a younger kid, watching films like ‘Star Wars’, I assumed that heroes and villains were all one-dimensional. When I had an idea for a film a few years back in which the antagonist’s actions are explained psychologically I thought I had had the best idea since editing!

Unfortunately for me, as I have since discovered, my idea was hardly original. In fact, I would go as far as to say that few films try to pretend anyone is perfect. Yet too much of the time it is carefully calculated. The protagonist might make a bad decision, but usually for the right cause. Or the antagonist may have had a difficult childhood, but the protagonist has had it worse. 

All this is why it is refreshing when a film presents human nature in all its ugliness, all its compassion, its hypocrisy. That way, when you place ordinary people in extraordinary situations, they will actually be ordinary people, and their story will be all the more extraordinary.

The Godfather (1972, dir. Francis Ford Coppola) is about a mafia family struggling for power in America. The main characters are all, at a glance, bad men. Their professional lives are led by assassinations, bribing and other extreme criminal activity. 

One of the most impressive things in the film is the way in which it initially presents Don Corleone as a psychopathic schemer, but gradually reveals him to be as reasonable as possible under the circumstances, and just a man who loves his family. 

As opposed to him, his son Michael Corleone is set up to be the hero of the tale. In the opening scene he tells his girlfriend how he does not want anything to do with his bloodthirsty family. Michael’s descent into corruption is truly chilling, and the movie shows us his two extremely different ways of behaving. 

It is Don Corleone’s apparent corruption and then reasonability, and Michael’s apparent reasonability and then corruption which go to show how we shouldn’t judge people by appearances and make the two of them three-dimensional characters. 

Everyone else in the Corleone family too; they are very violent men, but love their families. They show both evil and tenderness; either extreme. It is this authentic portrayal of humanity that, as time goes by, reminds me that, while it may not be my favourite, ‘The Godfather’ is the best film I have ever seen.

The post What I Look for in a Film (as a 15-Year-Old) appeared first on Raindance.

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Cannes had some excellent films both in and out of the main competition this year, and while films like The Dead Don’t Die have already had a wide release, many films aren’t being released (or at least released worldwide) for many months. Here are the ones to keep an eye on for when they do finally make it to cinemas.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Celine Sciamma’s 18th century gothic romance was one of the very, very best films of Cannes 2019. Based on the common upper class ritual of a young aristocratic woman having a portrait painted of her to entice rich prospective husbands, it follows a female painter who has been tasked with covertly painting a mysterious young lady who won’t sit for a portrait. It uses the framework of a spooky fairy tale woven around a love story perhaps even more effectively than Phantom Thread. Sciamma and her cinematographer Claire Mathon somehow create a softness that makes the characters themselves look like 18th century paintings. The film blossoms into a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that leaves us gasping for breath by the end. The final few seconds of the film are, in this writer’s opinion, some of the best in world cinema this century. Released in France on 18 September with a limited release in the US on 6 December, there’s no UK release date yet, although the distribution rights have been snapped up by Curzon Artificial Eye. 

Parasite

Parasite won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, the first Korean film to do so. The first half of the film appears to be genuinely a laugh-out-loud comedy, and yet pierces issues of class and inequality as successfully as the more blood-soaked second half. It is biting satire, with all the wit and depth of Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. This film, though, focuses on a poor family, down on their luck in a basement apartment, as they systematically infiltrate a hugely wealthy upper class family by each becoming hired help within the home. Bong Joon-Ho deftly balances the comedy and violence so that it says more about society than Snowpiercer and Okja combined. Parasite has already been hugely successful in the domestic box office, but will be released in the US on 19 October. 

Matthias et Maxime

Dolan’s return to Cannes isn’t his best ever, but it’s nonetheless a lovely film. It does something I have rarely seen an art film do – it takes high school comedies like American Pie and blends them with art house cinema. It has some classic Dolan melodrama, but also some of his best comedy. Supporting characters like their friend’s pretentious Anglophile sister and a sleazy young American business executive make for laugh-out-loud scenes that somehow also bite deep into the modern ‘OMG’ zeitgeist. There’s no release date yet for Matthias et Maxime internationally, but it does have a Canadian release on October 9th. 

La Femme de mon Frère (A Brother’s Love)

This Quebecois film was screened as part of Un Certain Regard as opposed to the Official Competition. Monia Chokri (longtime collaborator with fellow Canadian Xavier Dolan) directed this wonderfully offbeat comedy with such an assured visual style that it is not unreasonable to think she could not obtain the stylistic heights of someone like the endlessly popular Wes Anderson, or indeed her compatriot Dolan. The visual style is genuinely stunning for large parts of the movie, like the opening shot of Sophia dropping her thesis papers out the front door of a fictional university in Montreal as the camera slowly zooms out in perfect symmetry. It translates the hipster-ness of Montreal onto the screen extremely well, but consequently may not be to the taste of everyone. It’s already been released in Canada, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will get an international release. 

A Hidden Life

Terence Malick’s newest musing on life is often stunningly beautiful and certainly packs an emotional punch, but, almost inevitably with Malick, is about an hour too long. Don’t let this put you off even if you aren’t a die-hard Malick fan. There’s enough there that is stunning to make the meandering worth it. Set in Sankt Radegund, a remote village in Upper Austria, through his wide angle lens Malick tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis, despite the punishment of death. A Hidden Life was picked up by Fox Searchlight for $14m after its Cannes premiere, and will be released on December 13th. 

Il Traditore

“The Traitor” has all the glamour of a crime epic, but Italian New Wave icon Marco Bellocchio’s film is more interested in the legal aspects of the story than the action, although it does have enough of that too. It follows the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, a Sicilian mafia boss who decided to collaborate with Italian authorities to put away several prominent capos, an unprecedented move that proved just as controversial with the Sicilian people as it did inflammatory with the mafia. The film balances mafia style with courtroom drama, and it does so pretty successfully, with a particularly beautiful segment in Rio de Janeiro. It never quite reaches the heights of the the greatest mafia movies, but it does provide a fascinating insight into the first mafia informant in Sicily, and, like Buschetta did himself, paints a comprehensive narrative of the real workings of the infamous Sicilian mafia.

The post Films from Cannes to Look out for When They’re Released appeared first on Raindance.

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Sci-Fi films have depicted unimaginable scientific phenomenons since the beginning of time. The category combines the real world with the supernatural to question thoughts of the unknown in science. Over the past century, technology has improved special effects and futuristic elements in these films, which has resulted in a rising popularity and success in this area of the film industry. Here is how the sci-fi genre all began. 

The Era of Silent Film

The history of sci-fi films dates back to the early 20th century in the Silent Film Era. The attempts were usually 1-2 minute short films, shot in black and white, and had a technological theme that was intended to be comical. The first film categorised as science fiction was Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902) by George Méliès, telling the story of a spacecraft being launched to the moon in a large cannon. The special effects used in the film paved the way for future sci-fi films, and became very popular after its release. Science fiction literature also had a huge impact on early films. Books like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1910) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1913) were adapted into films, mixing sci-fi and horror together. 

1930’s and 40’s

Films in the 30’s were influenced by sound, dialogue, and the effects of the Great Depression. The decade however, saw a rise in film serials which were low budget, quickly produced short films that depicted futuristic adventures filled with action and gadgetry. One of the first films was The Phantom Empire (1935), about a cowboy who stumbles upon a technologically advanced underground civilization with ray guns, robots and advanced TV’s. More films throughout the decade continued to use elements like space travel, high tech gadgets, and mad scientists. Most of the successful sci-fi films in the 30s continued in the 40s as sequels. However, sci-fi films were mainly inert throughout the course of the war. 

Post War and 1950’s 

Developments of the atomic bomb and anxiety about apocalyptic effects of a nuclear war strongly influenced the sci-fi genre during the 50s. The Cold War and communist era in the United States also led to an increase in sci-fi films, which later started a Golden Age of Science Fiction. One of the most important films during the time was Destination Moon (1950), which tells the story of a nuclear powered rocket that brings four men to the moon while competing against the Soviets. This film was largely publicised and very successful, which resulted in more financing for sci-fi films. The decade also saw a rise in popularity for alien films. The films featured political commentary mixed with the concept of UFOs. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) became a major success and set a new wave of sci-fi monster films. The film depicts the monster Rhedosaurus destroying areas of the United States after being thawed out by atomic testing. This decade of films include sci-fi and horror with a mix of apprehension in regards to  nuclear technology or dangers of outer space. The success of sci-fi during this decade influenced future success and international growth as a genre. 

1960’s

In the beginning of the decade, not many films were produced after the rush in the 50s. The films that were produced during this time were either aimed at a child audience or a continuation of 50’s sci-fi films. In the second half of the decade however, many sci-fi films were produced and transformed the genre. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) is a social commentary on freedom of speech and government restrictions and Fantastic Voyage (1966) tells the story of the main character exploring the inside of a human body. Planet of the Apes (1968) was also a very popular film that eventually resulted in four sequels and a TV series. One of the most significant sci-fi films during this decade is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The film tells the story about a voyage to Jupiter with the computer HAL after discovering a dark machine that is destroying human evolution. The film was considered to be groundbreaking for its time in regards to the quality of visual effects, the realistic portrayal of space travel and the legendary scope of its story. After this film was released, sci-fi films that followed would have immensely larger budgets and an improvement in special effects. 

1970’s

There was much more interest in sci-fi films with a space adventure theme in the 70s. The discoveries made in space during this decade created a marvel about the universe portrayed in these films. In the early 70s, many sci-fi films still included themes of paranoia with a threat against humanity in regards to ecological and technological conflicts. Some popular films during this specific time in the decade were A Clockwork Orange (1971), and the sequels to Planet of the Apes. Conspiracy thriller films were very popular during this time, which emphasised paranoia and conspiracy among national government or corporate entities. Some big successes in the 70s were Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

1980’s

Resulting in the success of Star Wars, this decade increases popularity of sci-fi films. Many major studios began to produce many more films. Both the Star Wars and Star Trek films influenced escapism becoming the dominant form of science fiction in the 80s. Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) was one of the most successful films of the decade. The distinction between science fiction, fantasy and superhero films were obscured from the influences of these films as well. Every year during this decade saw at least one major sci-fi or fantasy film released. The decade also saw a growth in animation which acted as a medium for sci-fi films. This was mostly successful in Japan where anime started. This industry became very popular and has gradually expanding across the world.   

1990’s

The creation of the internet led to the emerging cyberpunk genre in the 90s. This genre is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that features advanced technological and scientific achievement. Both the internet and the genre paved the way for many internet-themed films. A very popular film that was released during this time is The Matrix (1999), which tells the story of a machine-run virtual prison that was created for humanity. Disaster films still remained popular during this decade and included updated themes to reflect more recent influences. Computers play an important role in the addition of special effects and the production of film. Software was improving rapidly over time which made it easier to produce more complicated effects in films. The improvements of special effects allowed many sequels of films like Star Wars to include features with many enhancements. 

2000’s

During this decade, films turned away from space travel and more towards fantasy themes. Star Trek and Star Wars film series are the only films that appear in the first years of the decade and in present day. While fantasy and superhero films are vastly popular during this time, earthbound sci-fi films like The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were also popular. Sci-fi films in this decade were used as a tool for political commentary. Films like A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Minority Report (2002) questioned the materialism of today’s world and questioned political situations post 9/11. As the years went on, the theatre audience began to decline due to online streaming services becoming widely popular. 

To conclude, science fiction films have transformed the film industry over the past century. With the advancement of technology, these productions enhance the quality of special effects to make the concepts look and seem more realistic than the audience could ever imagine. This genre is one that is greatly appreciated in the industry for bringing the extraordinary to life on the big screen. 

The post The History of Sci-Fi Films appeared first on Raindance.

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Want to be a good screenwriter, but do not know where to start? We will tell you how to take the first steps towards your dream. Be attentive and keep the tips, they will definitely come in handy!

What Is a Movie Script and What Do You Need to Know About It?

The script of the film is a kind of skeleton, based on which stunning pictures and the greatest works of cinematography are created. Relatively speaking, the script is all information that will be captured in the future and transferred to the screens. This is a step-by-step “instruction” that includes all the dialogues, the places where the action takes place, all the characters involved, and a brief description of their emotions. Creating a movie without a script is impossible.

Why Is It So Important to Know and Read the Works of Famous Authors?

Creativity is part of the experience of predecessors, your own insanity, as well as the ability to see what the majority does not see. With this recipe, real talent is born and developed. But we have to remember that such talent needs constant boosting and nourishing. The study of literature, famous cultural figures, as well as their works, give an idea of how to apply your own talent in the best way. That is why the first and only right step for a person who wants to take a path in the field of screenwriting mastery and become a successful and sought-after screenwriter, is reading scripts that influenced the world cinema industry in one or another way.

Every well-known screenwriter has found their own way of knowing all aspects and possibilities of screenwriting. Each of them has learned from the masters of the past. And you have to follow that path too.

It may seem to you that this is like plagiarism. However, we must immediately clarify that this is not so. Studying existing scenarios helps the novice screenwriter understand how to put theory into practice. Because you can be as good as you want in theory, but you need to know how to put such theoretical knowledge into practice.

Here are the benefits that you can get by reading scripts:

  • A newcomer can see what a real script should look like. Not how it is presented as a template in the theoretical literature, but what text is actually taken as the basis for filming.
  • Get inspired from various techniques of writing. Each scriptwriter invests in the script skills that they have developed over the years. Reading the scripts of different authors, the novice writer discovers the world of new and old techniques that were used to write. Having a wealth of examples of creative techniques, it is much easier to build your own.
Reading Literature is the Way to Great Achievements

It is important to remember that in addition to screenwriting, you must not forget to read additional literature that will help to deal with the techniques of writing.

For example, we recommend reading this article which briefly describes how to expand an idea into a ready-made script, as well as steps that will help develop creative thinking. Save the recommendations in order not to lose them.

Also, as recommended The New York Times, read the work of the author and marvellous screenwriter Syd Field, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting”. In this book, each reader will be able to find step-by-step instructions for writing their own creation. The author tells and most importantly, proves that everyone can learn everything. It is only important to strive to achieve the goal. Syd Field will guide you through the whole journey, from the very inception of the idea to the ready and valid scenario.

His works have been translated into many languages. However, if you were unable to find it in the language you need, then you can always contact The Word Point for help. Here you can translate absolutely any kind of document, ranging from scenarios, and ending with any financial papers.

5 Movie Scripts that Anyone Who Wants to Take Place in the Niche of Famous Screenwriters Should Read

The great creation of the famous Charlie Kaufman hardly left any viewer indifferent. The film considers such a thing as love. What is it? How do we understand, that the rapid heartbeat is exactly the feeling that is called “love”? Is it possible to deliberately cross out all the feelings from the soul and where can that lead to?

  • Winner of the British Academy Award in 2005 for Best Original Screenplay;
  • Golden Globe nominee in the Best Screenplay category, 2005;
  • Winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, 2005.

How to use something that wasn’t intended to be public? Who is pleased to recognise their own desires in a character when they are completely different from generally accepted norms? David Lynch skilfully wields human “flaws”, as well as features of the psyche.

  • Nomination for Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay, 1987;
  • Nomination for Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, 1987.

This is a good example of where the attempts to live as you want can lead. The script describes understandable, but at the same time mysterious characters, that are not so easy to reveal. Looks like reality, isn’t it?

  • Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Script, 2000;
  • Winner of the Oscar award for best screenplay, 2000.

This is a story that deserves the attention of everyone. It tells how strong the power of a word is, as well as a vivid example of how words should be supported by deeds.

  • Winner of an Oscar winner award for Best Adapted Script, 1963.

This is difficult-to-perceive and emotional story based on cruelty and love. This scenario is an excellent reference to how the encirclement can affect the person and deprive the right to choose even own destiny.

  • Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Script, 1973;
  • Winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Script, 1973.
Summarising

Remember that it is always difficult to start something new. The first steps are not easy. However, if you have a goal, then you need to make enough effort and continue to go towards it, despite the difficulties and obstacles. Your efforts will not be ignored.

The post 5 Classic Movie Scripts Every Screenwriter Should Read appeared first on Raindance.

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Maybe you’ve heard the saying that a script is just a blueprint. If so, forget it!  The first goal of your script is to be a great reading experience.

Later there will be a production script annotated by the director and others involved in planning the actual production once your script has sold. That’s the blueprint.

There will never be a production script until and unless there was a great selling script–the version read by agents, script editors, producers and others you want have get excited about your work.

With that “blueprint” comment in mind, many screenwriters are afraid to write descriptions of the action and of the characters in a vivid way. Big mistake!

Chekhov’s advice

The great playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov gave this advice to a writer: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

The way to make a character or a setting or an action come alive in the imagination of the reader is to provide specific details. Compare these two descriptions:

Howard is a so fat he finds it difficult to walk.

Howard wheezes with the effort of carrying his weight. Every ten steps he has stop and lean against the nearest wall.

Not only is the second description more specific, it brings in another sense–the sound of wheezing. The more you can bring in not only what things look like but also their smell, their feel, their taste, the more real they become to the reader.

Often the best specific to mention is one that is unexpected. For instance, it might be that despite his bulk Howard has dainty feet.

Later the director and the actor playing Howard may decide not to have him stop every ten steps

Different details will have different effects in terms of how the reader perceives the character or the setting. For example, if we want the reader to feel some sympathy for Howard, we might show him enduring the embarrassment of having to buy shoes in the children’s department.

One warning: don’t overdo it. Adjectives are especially dangerous! One usually is enough. “Grimy fingernails” is fine; “Grimy, misshapen, yellowed, gnawed fingernails” is too much.

Adverbs can be even worse–generally it’s better to describe the action rather than characterise it. For instance, instead of “He eats the donut greedily,” you might write, “He stuffs the entire donut into his mouth so fast that jam squirts out of his mouth.”

Checking to make sure that you have been specific in your descriptions is one of the key things to do when you go over your first draft. If you want to see how it’s done, read some of Chekhov’s short stories. They constitute a great master class.

And remember: nobody enjoys reading a blueprint.

Find out about The Script Coach Series with Jurgen Wolff 

The post Remember You’re Writing A Selling Script appeared first on Raindance.

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