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

A Director Prepares: Visual Script Breakdown

Learning how to approach a task can be far more interesting and valuable than learning how to ‘do’ a task. In 99% of the cases, to translate a movie script into visual content is one of the duties of the film director. How would you approach the visual breakdown of the script? How would you transform the written words into visual information that can be shared with the production designer, the director of cinematography and the rest of the cast and crew? Continue reading

Survival, Filmmaking and Food

Food is on my mind… a lot. I am human. I will always remember my first time working on set; the memories of walking into the old disused hospital, the smell of the dust burning on the lights, the PA’s running around with their walkie talkies, The 1st AD’s voice, the director pacing back and forth between the set and the video village, the food. Ah, the food. Continue reading

Color Grading: Exploration, Temperature and Contrast

Colorists tend to approach the task of correction and grading through multiple passes. When mixing light, I start with the more surgical aspects of the correction before going through a series of artistic manipulations (color equalisation, relighting, isolations, looks,…) Every project brings a new set of challenges and a new set of directions and possibilities. I enjoy  the discovery stage the most. After understanding the emotions, story and motivations, I select a few keys shots from the various scenes and play; build a few versions before committing to a look. Continue reading