One of my biggest frustrations with email are the not-quite-spam emails that you want to see, but you don’t want clogging up your inbox. Emails from a theater I like about their new productions. Emails about new exhibits at the local museum. Emails about new artwork by your favorite indie artists. I have never figured out a good way to handle these until I saw this post about John August’s working setup.
And there the brilliant idea is… Set up a rule to forward any email with the word “unsubscribe” in the body to a separate mailbox. They don’t clog up your inbox, and you can easily sort through the folder once or twice a day to see if there’s anything interesting, to unsubscribe from mailing lists, or to mark things for spam. An elegant solution to a modern problem.
Mike Seymour at fxguide breaks down some of the innovative visual decisions made by the Spider-Verse team, and how these creative choices were executed in the finished film. This is a movie that animators are going to be studying and emulating for generations. I honestly think it's the greatest cinematic achievement of 2018.
The Criterion Collection are going to be releasing a Police Story / Police Story 2 double set in April! Two of Jackie Chan’s best movies, and I can only assume these will be high-quality transfers with great bonus materials.
I’m halfway through Philip Pullman’s magnificent collection “Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling” and I can highly recommend it for anyone who works in the world of story. Pullman discusses story in a way that applies both to novels and filmmaking, and draws a lot of inspiration from the way filmmakers think of story.
A few of my favorite quotes from the first half of the book…
no work can be truly great if it is not about ourselves, and unless it tells us what it is like to be alive.
On what readers/viewers want from a story…
Readers–especially an audience that includes young readers–aren’t in the least interested in you, and your self-conscious post-modernist anguish about all the things there are to be anguished about when it comes to text. They want to know what happened next. So tell them. And the way to do that, the way to tell a story…is to think of some interesting events, put them in the right order to make clear the connections between them, and recount them as clearly as you can.
On the three laws of the Quest…
The protagonist’s task must be hard to do, it must be easy to understand, and a great deal must hang on the outcome…
A quote from Ernst Gombrich, which I think has strong parallels to the language of cinema…
Our language favours this twilight region between the literal and the metaphorical. Who can always tell where the one begins and the other ends?
I've been thinking a lot about pop culture and “content” and movies and what it takes to stand out in a world where audiences have instant access to vastly more hours of entertainment than they have the ability to consume in a lifetime. It's not enough to just make a good movie anymore, as people have immediate access to every other good movie ever made. Hell, they have access to every great movie ever made. How do you compete with The Godfather? How do you compete with every Bond movie? How does someone who makes movies fit into this world?
When I was a kid, I was a huge fantasy nerd. If it had swords, dragons, or magic then I was there with my nose pressed up to it whether the story was told in books, television, or movies. This could be tricky for movies, because I wasn't allowed to watch R-rated movies, and a lot of fantasy movies involve naked folk and/or heads being chopped off. Of course, Highlander has both. So it was strictly off the table.
I used to be an active user of the website Quora (specifically a place for asking and answering questions, and generally a good resource for information). This is one of my more popular posts from the site.
I write this blog for a specific audience. It's all written to be appealing to the “me” of ten years ago. By that, I mean the young eager person who loves film and is avidly trying to absorb as much knowledge and experience as possible. I hope I can help share some insight, and help people realize that everyone in this industry is still trying to learn how to make a good movie.
In that spirit, these are some books that I've read over the last decade or so that helped shape my approach to filmmaking and my understanding of the film business. I think these books all have considerable educational value to the aspiring or working filmmaking. The list is broken into categories, but I recommend cross-pollinating your knowledge. I find that breakthroughs in one filmmaking discipline often come from knowledge and experience acquired in another. The art, craft, and businesses of filmmaking are not orthogonal; they intertwine and it's expected for an expert in any field to at least have a basic understanding of how their work impacts their colleagues.