What is an Independent Film?

Can you work for free? – No.

We are an independent film production. We might be able to offer minimum wage, at a max. It’s a great project, it will look good on your reel. –  awkward silence.

What would you reply?

Two questions come to mind:

  • What is an Independent Film?
  • Why is the the scenario above sadly familiar?

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Elements of Storytelling: Fundamentals

Why do we tell stories? All humans seem to tell stories throughout their lives. Gossiping, reporting and structured storytelling all appear to address the same needs and impulses. From the campfire tales, to paintings, writing, theatre, music and films, we tell stories. Are we doing so to better understand each other? Or do we tell stories to rationalise our feelings? Media corporations invest vast amounts of time, energy and resources to entertain and convince us. When we share a story, do we seek affirmation? Are we trying to heal ourselves? Do we search the immortality of our ideas? Continue reading

Fleshing Out Subtext

Writing can be a ‘funny’ and frustrating activity. On one hand, there are days when we can sit and write a scene without having to think that hard. The scene feels right. It has the right rhythm, the right evolution and  it reveals the subtext through subtle and captivating actions and descriptions. It does what it was intended to do. Not only does it promises to capture the audience, it also guides and entertains the reader. Other times we struggle. We know what the scene is supposed to accomplish. We understand its intent. But, the writing is not delivering on the promise. It feels dry and obvious; subtext on a white page.

First of all, what is subtext? Continue reading

Visual Style: The Design of a Production

When discussing filmmaking and  visual style we often think of the Director’s vision, we celebrate the Cinematographer’s sensibility but we have a tendency to forget the Production Designer. Many might even be confused as to the differences between a Production Designer and an Art Director. After all, even the Academy of Motion Pictures used to celebrate Production Designers with the Best Art Direction award until 2012. Continue reading

A Bigger Church for David Lynch: Ideas Talk to You

Lynch 2

David Lynch needed a bigger church. The 10th Lucca Film Festival (click for more) invited Lynch to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award As Guest Of Honor and showcase a selection of his art, paintings, lithographs, music and films. Lynch also presented his views on meditation at the San Micheletto Chruch. Sadly, only a few ‘souls’ were able to attend, as hundreds of people from various parts of Italy (myself included) were left outside the rather small building. Yesterday, Lucca’s San Francesco’s Church opened its doors to film students and film enthusiasts seeking inspiration and guidance from the Master. It was a bigger church, but it was not big enough to accommodate all the ‘followers’ seeking wisdoms in his words. The doors were closed shut on the angry faces of the ‘fans’ shouting their discontentment across the reverberating hall. They understood that the organisers seemed to have underestimated the Lynch factor. 

Below, you can find a transcription of most of his words. Lynch answered questions about his art, his approach, inspirations and methods. He did so with great tranquility and positivity. I have taken the liberty of inserting a few videos I felt related to the topics being discussed. There is a profound love for ideas and a real enjoyment for translating them into art. There is a comforting sense of tranquillity and control. “All you need is an idea.”  Continue reading

Acting: Systems, Methods and Techniques

There are many examples of actors successfully crossing into directing. From Charlie Chaplin to Clint Eastwood passing by Ron Howard and George Clooney, actors have transitioned onto the other side of the camera, and done so with an advantage. If empathy is an important aspect of being a filmmaker, who can understand a task better than the ones having felt the complexities, challenges and possibilities of doing said task first hand? It is important for a director to understand where your actors come from, how did they inform their craft? what “schools” or “methods” influenced their development? Continue reading

Let’s Wing It: Improvisation, Film and That Something Special

Can I improvise this post? Over-planning can be a dangerous activity. One can spend a lot of time preparing to all eventualities only to become paralysed by the process. Improvisation is also a process, but a more liberating one. In a way, it makes us achieve more and can lead to valuable and unexpected outcomes. Continue reading

Documentary Modes: Representing the ‘Truth’

Like cinema itself, my love for cinema has been divided between the fascination for ‘reality’ and the craving for ‘fantasy’.  While Méliès chose to embark us on fantastic voyages the likes of Flaherty and Grierson chose to explore the reality of our world instead. The line between fiction and reality is seldom sharp. Continue reading

Filmmaking, Emotions and Sound: Communicate with the ‘Designers’

Sound is at least half of your film; make it 60-70% of the experience depending on who you are talking to. You do not have to be a skilled sound designer, musician or composer to take advantage of its power. You have to, however, be able to communicate with the ‘creative forces’ that will shape the soundscape of your film. Continue reading