Monday, September 24, 2012

Alpha Channel Friday Screening

Thanks to the alumni, faculty, and staff that participated in the Alpha Channel Screening on Friday! Here are some picks from the show. Also, special thanks to Ryo, Ian, Melanie, Kallie and Josh who attended to support the students. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not All Movies Make It

As filmmakers we experience several road bumps along the way, and sometimes that road bump is getting the film made in the first place. SlashFilm posted a pitch video for a proposed Halloween remake by head Storyboard Artist and Animatics Supervisor at Marvel Studios, Federico D'Alessandro. Unfortunately, his proposal was turned down in favor of Rob Zombie's version on the horror classic. Check out D'Alessandro's amazing animatic short below:

Even Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, The Master, almost didn't make it off the ground. Anderson, an Oscar award nominated director, experienced trouble getting a studio to pick up his latest film. But luckily, the daughter of a multibillionaire CEO, Megan Ellison, decided to try her hand at producing movies that were considered "commercially challenging" and picked up Anderson's film. If the thought of a great director like Anderson experiencing trouble getting his film made isn't staggering enough for you, Orson Welles once faced the same trouble - and lost. Welles, arguably the best director of all time, once had an idea for a half-animated, half-live action adaptation of classic childrens book, The Little Prince. Unfortunately, after a rumored meeting between Welles, Walt Disney and his staff went awry, Disney refused to participate. Welles went off to do other projects and the film adaptation of The Little Prince never materialized.

Although a great story and creativity are the major driving forces behind a film, sometimes even those elements can fall short of getting the actual film made. Meeting the right people at the right time is a big factor, which is why networking can be as important to filmmaking as the story itself.

Short films > Feature films?

There's an interesting article on Hollywood and its lack of original story lines in feature films. This is explained quite simply; movies cost a lot of money to make, and studios don't like taking a gamble on a new idea. Thus, we're left with a constant stream of sequels and adaptations.

But what about new ideas and where do they fit in? This is where short films come in. Short films provide a different medium with more artistic freedom to tell a story.  Like the article points out, directors such as Spike Jonze and Chris Milk are experimenting with short films and trying out new ideas that perhaps would not be possible to do with a feature film. A quote by Jane Campion comes to mind - "..Short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to filmmakers. What's appealing is that you don't have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem. The great thing is that almost everyone ends up doing something creative with them, even those directors who then go on to make quite boring features."

Although most of us dream of making a feature film one day, maybe we should change our feelings on what many of us perceive as a limitation and embrace the short film. Someone once told me that true artistic freedom lies in film school; you're free to dream up any idea and make it on your own terms. Make your short film with that in mind and chances are that short will be more creative and original than what you see on the big screen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Alpha Channel - The Photos

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the student screening last night! Special thanks to Ryo, Roz, and Josh for lending their support by being present for the students and their work. Nice to see some alumni came out for the event as well. I hope you all enjoyed the new space! See ya all on Friday for the Alumni/Faculty/Staff Screening!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Enter Your Short Film to Shorts Showcase!

Here's a chance for your short film to play on PBS!

Shorts Showcase is broadcasted on PBS into 18 million homes in Southern California. The show offers student filmmakers a venue to be seen by other film enthusiasts, producers, directors, etc. Their website, is known throughout the industry as the "24/7 Film Festival". A new short will be shown every week on PBS and daily at The film that gets the most votes each month wins a prize and the top films of the year will be screened at their Awards Ceremony in April 20143. The submission deadline is September 30th.

Here is an interview with the Polish Brothers - a must-see for any filmmaker and s sampling of their benefits Shorts Showcase has to offer you:

Don't miss up on this! Fill out a submission form here.

Faculty/Alumni/Staff Screening

Friday Sept 21st is the Faculty/Alumni/Staff Screening. Students are welcome to get tickets! See what your instructors are making! - Click to the right for tickets

Below is the program.
Eve Okupniak - The Fountainhead
Zardon Richardson - Chief
Ian Fischer - Magritte Moment
Chris Conway - Carpool
More Alumni Submission to be confirmed! The post will be updated in the next few days!

Talk with Roger Deakins going digital.

This is a MUST WATCH for Cinematographers. Here is part two -

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DFM Department Meetings

Attention all DFM faculty and students! We will be having DFM department meetings throughout next week (week 11)
Ask your instructors for details.

Alpha Channel Winners

Congrats to our Alpha Channel Winners!

Vanessty Miller - Embrace It
Theresa Murino - Secret A
Jennifer Humala - WCV Fashion Film
Geroni J - Side Effect 2
Charles Brooks - Gatorade Commercial
Andrew Greenblatt - Girls Gone Wild
Adam Spieler - Monologue in B Sharp

**And don't forget to get your tickets to Alpha Channel HERE!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Movies 2012

Bad news: Summer is over. Good news: with fall comes the release of many highly-anticipated new films. Where does one start? Here's a rundown of some that look like they'll be worth that $16 movie ticket:

The Master
P.T. Anderson's much anticipated film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman is a must-see! Anderson's last film was the Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood, so expectations are running high for his latest film. So far, the film (that's "not" about Scientology) has been getting rave reviews after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. This is definitely a film to look out for this Oscar season. (Sept. 21st)

Cloud Atlas
Based on the novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas not only has three directors, the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer, but a $100 million budget, making it the largest non-studio film ever made. The film has quite a heavy plot, including six different time periods (some take place in the past, some in the future) and a star-studded cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Barry, Jim Sturgess, and Susan Sarandon (who plays an Indian man!) just to name a few. The trailer looks insane!(Oct. 26) 

Life of Pi
Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) directs this 3D adaptation of the best-selling novel "Life of Pi", starring newcomer Suraj Sharma. Lee reportedly said this film was the hardest movie he's ever made. I'm excited to see why! (Nov. 21st)

Watch out Pixar, because this Disney movie looks so good. If you grew up in the early video game era like I did, you'll want to check out this movie about the world of old school video game villains, from Atari to Halo. The film follows the story of a video game villain, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) who gets fed up with being the bad guy and longs to be a hero in another video game. The movie has some of the most recognizable characters in video game history, including M. Bison, Dr. Robotnick, the ghosts from Pac-Man, and even Bowser. The trailer will have you sold. (Nov. 2nd)

Django Unchained
One of the most highly-antcipated movies this year, just cause it's Tarantino. The film boasts an all-star cast (Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson) and a story that follows a slave-turned-bounty hunter set to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Although I'm not entirely sold on this trailer, anything Tarantino deserves a shot, so why not?

Here are some other must-see films this fall season: Resident Evil: Retribution (Sept. 14th), Liberal Arts (Sept. 14th), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Sept. 21st)The Paperboy (Oct. 5),  Argo (Oct. 12th), Killing Them Softly (Oct. 19th), The Flight (Nov. 2nd), Skyfall (Nov. 9th), Lincoln (Nov. 9th), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec 14th), Les Miserables (Dec. 14th), This is 40 (Dec. 21st)

What are you excited to see this fall season?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Prop Rentals

Using a real weapon in your film can be tricky due to NYC laws, but sometimes finding a believable prop is just as difficult. Using the right props can be vital to your film, and The Specialists is a great place to help you get the right one. Their inventory has a wide variety of props, including weapons, fake drugs, and household items that would normally be unavailable to you. Check out their showroom located in SoHo and their website:

From Short to Feature

The chances of your short film being turned into a feature might be slim, but not impossible. More and more short film directors are being recruited by Hollywood to turn their short films into feature films. Although that's certainly a dream for many of us, does it necessarily guarantee a career launch into success?
The latest short film being turned into a feature is Lovely Monster, written and directed by young Italian filmmaker Francesco Calabrese. The well-recieved horror short is currently in negotiations with Lionsgate for a feature film adaptation, giving Calabrese a shot to make his feature directorial debut. Lovely Monster utilizes faux-documentary style to tell the story of a young girl with a mysterious condition that is turning her into what those around her call a "monster". After checking out the short I am most certainly looking forward to the feature film version. Check out this awesome short below:

Sometimes all it takes is a short film to launch your career as a feature film director. Many people would be surprised to know that Wes Anderson, arguably one of the best filmmakers today, started his career with a short film, Bottle Rocket. The 13- minute, black and white short film was written by Anderson and his then-college roommate, Owen Wilson and his brother Luke Wilson. The short film premiered at the USA Film Festival in Dallas and received enthusiastic praise before being shown at Sundance. There, it caught the attention of screenwriter L.M Kit Carson who immediately sent it to James L. Brooks. This intervention secured financial backing for a feature film adaptation, which is now Anderson's classic feature debut, Bottle Rocket. Here is Wes Anderson's original 1996 short film:
(click here for Part 2)

But sometimes the short film catches more buzz than the feature does. Take for instance filmmaker Spencer Susser. His 2008 zombie-fest short film I Love You Sarah Jane was well received in festivals, leading Spencer to direct his first feature film, Hesher. Unfortunately, Hesher failed to make much of splash in theaters, even with stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman as the main characters. However, it looks like Spencer is getting a second chance and returning to his short I Love You Sarah Jane and adapting it into a feature. The short is amazing and the special effects aren't too bad for a short film budget. I'll be looking forward to the bigger budget version of this! Check out the original short below:

These shorts serve as reminder for many independent filmmakers; whatever path you take may or may not lead to success, but having your short film turned into a feature is a success in its own.

Filmmaking Contest!

Hey guys, AbelCine and Vision Reasearch has launched an awesome new camera, the Phantom Miro M320S high-speed digital camera (check out more information on the camera here) and a contest calling all filmmakers with a chance to use it!

Submit a treatment, script or storyboard for a proposed 3-6 minute long project to be shot on the Phantom Miro and you can be one of four finalists that will be sent a Phantom Miro package to shoot your project within a week. One grand prize winner will win the Phantom Miro package (retail price: $25,900 - $60,000).

Check out the rules and submission requirements here.

Good Luck!