A Dreamer Walking

Free Film School!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 4, 2014

I am sad to announce I am taking a blog break. I know it probably looks like I already took a blog break. I mean come on! I was on such a role for a while posting a paper every week or less for several months. But then summer came. The time I was supposed to be the least busy I ended up doing a bunch of things. Only half of the stuff I ended up doing was really productive, but the bottom line is I have really let down the few followers I have for this blog and I do apologize for that.

So I will be taking the rest of the month off and then try to maintain a post a week from the beginning of September to the foreseeable future. I thought I would leave you guys however with a bunch of links to really productive information and study material for those interested in the foundations of film and storytelling.

Filmmaking:

  • Cinephilia and Beyond: This might be the most valuable resource out there for all things film. Cinephilia is on a unstoppable mission to find as many interviews, articles, and documentaries on filmmaking around the internet. If you have a particular filmmaker in mind just do a search on Cinephilia’s site and you will most likely find a huge archive of information. P.S. you should also follow Cinephilia on Twitter!
  • DP/30: My advice is for you go get a pen and paper and start taking notes on interviews. David Poland has been able to accumulate hundreds of hours worth of interviews of some of the biggest names out there. His subjects range from actors, writers, directors, and sometimes a popular Cinematographer or Editor. Because of the length of his interviews (majority of them going 30 min or longer) Poland is able to go into much more depth then an average interview has time for. Poland studied filmmaking in collage and has a deep knowledge of it’s history which only helps raise his interviews to another level.
  • The Treatment: Elvis Mitchell is yet another great interviewer who is determined to go beyond the common insights a writer or director gives in most of their interviews. You can also find Elvis’ more recent interviews free on iTunes.
  • 35 MM: Here is a Vimeo group that collects tones of Vimeo videos dealing with film. These are a little more hit-or-miss but there are certainly some gems worth looking into.
  • Steven Benedict Podcast: How this guy isn’t known by every cinephile out there is beyond me. Though considerably short compared to other material I linked to, Benedict is a true student of film and gives deep insights on each one of the movies he goes into. My suggestion is you download his podcasts on iTunes and listen to them while on your way to work or something.
  • [micro] TUTORIALS: Here you can find a vast archive of film production tutorials. [micro] is determined to provide you with a wealthy amount of free information to get started in digital filmmaking. Their subject matter ranges from pre-production through post-production and will give the beginning film student many hours worth of material to study in order to make his or her first film.

Animation:

  • Deja View: This is the sight of the famous animator Andreas Deja. His knowledge of animation history (especially Disney’s history) is superb. As the lead animator for classic characters like Jafar from Aladdin, Scare from The Lion King, and Lilo from Lilo and Stitch its obvious he has a vast understanding of the principles of animation and with everyone of his posts he goes into more and more detail about those principles and the animators responsible for creating them.
  • Temple of The Seven Golden Camels: The author of this blog, Mark Kennedy, is a storyboard artist for Disney Animation. Unlike most animator blogs I visit, Kennedy is determined to go into detail about the nuances of telling good stories. His focus usually is storyboarding which basically means he goes into all kinds of different principles of animation- staging, costuming, action, design, etc… Though sometimes long winded it’s obvious Kennedy knows his subject matter and he provides valuable insight in each one of his posts.
  • Splog: Sadly this blog hasn’t been updated since February. However, I am sure you will find enough in the archives to keep you busy for several months. Michael Sporn and his artists give a much more well rounded example of the history of Animation and many of the blog’s posts go into great detail about well known and long lost pieces of animation through out it’s rich history.
  • Podcasts: Rather then pick one of these I thought I would just link to several of them. Here are several valuable podcasts on animation I have listened to through out the years. Each one features interviews of people working in the field of animation and are quite valuable for anyone interested in going into the field themselves. I will post the links to their sites but the majority of the podcasts can be found also on iTunes. 1. The Animation Podcast 2. Spline Doctors 3. Speaking of Animation 4. iAnimate.

Writing:

  • Writing Excuses: Each fifteen minute podcast carries a wealth of information about writing and story structure. The podcast is also extremely entertaining and quite humerus. The four hosts are all well known authors and have a great chemistry with each other. They are usually able to cover a lot of ground with the little time they have. The podcast has also been around since 2008 and thus has a huge archive. I suggest you subscribe to their iTunes page; they post a podcast consistently every week.
  • The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith: Here you will find interviews all kinds of writers across the medium of film. Jeff Goldsmith is a wonderful interviewer with a great upbeat attitude. Best of all is he knows story and the questions he asks are always informative and allow us deeper into the creation process. His lengthy archive can be found on iTunes as well.
  • Scriptnotes: John August and Craig Mazin are two established screenwriters in Hollywood and every week come out with a full hour long podcast covering all things writing. The two personalities work wonderfully with each other and they also at times have guests who share their personal insights on how to be a screenwriter in the daunting world of Hollywood. Not only do these guys have good screenwriting advice they go into the politics of working in Hollywood. Here is the link to their iTunes page.

Film Criticism:

  • The /Filmcast: This is one of the most enjoyable podcasts I listen to weekly. The hosts, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Jeff Cannata are all bonafide film geeks who love talking movies. David Chen is one of the best hosts out there; someone who can just be himself while keeping a strong grasp on the conversation so it doesn’t get out of hand. I listen to these guys more for entertainment, but occasionally they can provide some fantastic insight on the film premiering that week. And due to their “What have you been watching?” segment I occasionally hear about a really interesting film I would never have discovered on my own. The best way to listen to these guys is via iTunes.
  • Filmspotting: This is the modern day version of Siskel and Ebert. Though maybe not quite as oppositional and competitive the two hosts, Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen, do a wonderful job expressing their thoughts on the latest movie of the week. Rather then go with the typical blockbuster Adam and Josh usually concentrate on more Independent films. A common visitor of the podcast is the famous critic Michael Phillips who was also a common visitor on Roger Ebert’s Ebert Presents show. The show is now known for ending with their top 5 list which allows the audience in on just how vast these critics knowledge of filmmaking is. This is by far the podcast with the largest archive, just recently celebrating it’s 500th episode. This is also a great podcast to listen to on iTunes.

Well there you have it. These links have turned out to be invaluable in my pursuit to becoming a great storyteller. It’s just a small example of how much you can learn for free outside the realm of a collage. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave a comment if you have links to more valuable filmmaking resources!

Spline Cast Interviews!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 28, 2011

Well I am in the middle of writing a few papers actually. But none of them are where I want them to be. However, through reviewing some notes I found two podcasts I listened to years ago that produced some excelent advice and insight. I thought I might as well share. Both are from the site Spline Doctors. I would recommend anyone interested in animation to check the Spline Doctors site out. Spline Doctors consists of a group of Pixar artists (mostly Andrew Gordon)  who take interviews of colleagues, give updates on animation events going on around them, and post advice on animation techniques. They don’t update the site as much as I would like, but you will find several hours of good material in their archives. I think it would be wise to take advantage of this free recourse. Now to the interviews.

Andrew Stanton Spline Cast (2006):
This podcast has been extremely helpful to me in the last week or so. It has inspired about a half a dozen blog ideas. Andrew talks about how he got facinated with animation and how he found out about Cal Arts. He explains the reason to why he gives John Lasseter and the Pixar 200% every time he comes to the studio. He also talks about what drives him to make good films. Andrew Stanton is a master storyteller and he will give you some great insight on the foundations of what makes a good film in this three part interview. (Here is the link to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

Brad Bird Spline Cast (2007): Brad Bird talks briefly about how he got hooked onto animation.  He gives us insight into several of the Nine Old Men and what it was like being mentored by Milt Kahl. He also talks a little about the difference between 2D animation and 3D and the strengths and weaknesses of both. The most interesting part of the interview for me was when Bird talked about the weakness of our generation as filmmakers and how the business side of Hollywood tries to cripple creativity. He goes into some of the reasons he got interested in Pixar and how the movie Toy Story broke one mold only to create another one for the animation industry. His advice at the end is also some of the greatest advice you will ever get.

Also,

Pete Docter Spline Cast (2007): This I did not consider to be as good as the other two interviews but it is well worth listening to. Pete Docter is not as blunt about his philosophy as Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird are. However, in this interview you hear a lot of what filmmaking deep down is about for Docter. He explains his constant effort to find the emotion of a story. He explains what he likes about the medium of animation. For Docter the story is all about the relationship and he explains why very clearly in this interview.

Walt Disney – An Observation – Worthy of Admiration

Posted in Film and Filmaker Studies, Observation Series by Jacob on August 8, 2011

I was reading an interview on this man who spent more then thirty years working for Walt Disney. In a interview he said, “When you were having a conflict with Walt, you were having a conflict with someone who probably had more on the ball than you had, and whose judgment was probably better”. This might not be seen as a very huge compliment. It is nothing new, you have probably heard those types of compliments before. This however is not the only thing this guy has said about Walt. In other interviews this man has talked about how Walt was able to push artist to do things they didn’t feel like they were capable of doing. He talked about the phenomenal intuition and story instinct Walt had and how he was willing to put everything, even his life insurance, on the line to keep the studio and his dream alive. He called Walt a “genius” and a “brilliant storyteller”. This man said Walt was the kind of guy “who only comes along once in several generations”. Now we are getting to some generous compliments no matter who might be making them. However, I think the authenticity of these compliments is cemented by knowing who they came from.  The man who said all these things about Walt was none other then legendary animator Milt Kahl.

Milt was one of Walt’s Nine Old Men. Many consider him to be the greatest of the Nine Old Men. Milt was known for his dedication to perfection. It was a daunting and nerve racking task to clean up his drawings or to work on his inbetweens, out of fear that you might mess up his animation. He produced the final character design sheets for almost all the Disney full length features from the 1940’s-70’s. Most of the other big animators at the studio, including majority of the Nine Old Men, went to Milt for advice and help on working out complicated movements or designs. Milt was given the most complicated animation scenes. He needed to bring warmth to the puppet Pinocchio, he needed to give flight to Peter Pan, and give Madusa, from The Rescuers, her evil charm. If Milt thought an artist was being lazy he would let him or her know. He was known for his temper and not holding back a insult. He made it clear he thought most of his fellow Disney employees, especially after Walt died, were a bunch of  “lazy bastards”. I have heard stories of things getting so heated sketchbooks went flying. Milt was even willing to get into arguments with the big boss of the studio, Walt Disney.

See, Milt Kahl is not the kind of guy to compliment someone, let alone say someone is a “genius” or confess someone else might have better judgment then him. I have heard Milt Kahl complain about more then one of the Nine Old Men, and all those artists are considered some of the greatest to ever work in animation. Because I knew this about Milt, what he said about Walt truly impacted me. I heard a man who struggled with complimenting more then anyone I have researched (including Walt) give some of the greatest compliments a man could give. And I finally began to realize why. You see, even though Milt was a perfectionist I think Milt realized Walt was something more. Walt was a dreamer. Walt helped create the medium Milt strived most of his life to perfect.

After Walt died Milt kept on working at the studio. However, the films he worked on were not nearly as good as the films of old, such as Pinocchio, Bambi, and Landy and the Tramp. Milt had a limit. He only could perfect the material he was given. Walt however was the one with the limitless imagination, he was the one who created the material. After Walt died the material became much less precious. For Milt it was like trying to create a sculpture out of a block of mud rather then a fine piece of diamond. Milt had all the tools to create something that was visually stunning, however much of the visuals were lost because of the poor material.

Milt said in 1976, the year he left the studio, “Here I am, a person at the height of my powers, and I feel there’s not a place for me anymore.”.  Walt created stories that entertained and inspired. His philosophy was about creating better material for his artists to work with. After his death Walt’s philosophy was lost. Milt did not admire Walt because he gave out compliments, was a flawless leader, or because of his money and fame. Walt was admired by Milt Kahl because he gave him a place to perfect his art form.

I have been studying Walt Disney for years now. I want to understand what went into the creation of such fine material that resulted in great films like Pinocchio and Mary Poppins. I want to know what drove Walt to create even better material. Before his death Walt was moving from theme parks to cities. He wanted to create an art form that would be completely intertwined with everyday life. His creativity had no limits and that is worthy of anyone’s admiration.

(Here are the links to the material I quoted. First off is Michael Barrier and Milton Gray interview of Milt Kahl. Second is Side 1 and Side 2 of a lecture Milt Kahl gave at Cal Arts in 1976. Also, Pixar animator Carlos Baena has some great resources on Milt Kahl on his website.)

Danny Boyle 127 Hours Links

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 3, 2011

I have been doing a pretty big study on director Danny Boyle. My favrite film of his is 127 Hours so I decided to find as many video as possible on him talking about 127 Hours and take notes. I thought I might as well share with you the ones I found most insightful. Relize, not all these videos will have Danny Boyle in them but they will all be concentrating on 127 Hours and the majority will be talking quite a bit about Danny Boyle’s directing style.

Sadly none of the video’s I watched can be posted on my site, so you will need to click on my links and go somewhere else to watch the videos. But they are well worth it.

DP/30: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle, writer Simon Baufoy, and producer Christian Colson: In this interview the filmmakers go deep into the storytelling process of the film. They talk about how they were able to use the limited resources they had to create a structured story that would entertain an audience for a hour and a half. They talked about what the lead actor  James Franco brought to the project. Danny talks the most in this interview. He talks about what attracted him to the story and what he learned through making the film. He especially concentrates on what he learned from working with James. The interviewer, David Poland, asks some great questions and seems determined like usual to get deep into the reasoning behind the making of the film.  The interview lasts thirty four minutes.

DP/30: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle, production/Costume Designer Suttirat Larlare: This is actually a good contrast to the last video. Instead of concentrating too much on the story they talk more about the art direction and production design of 127 Hours. Even thought Suttirat is a bit nervous she is able to give you a good explanation on what her job was for the film. She talks a little about how it is working with Danny, then she goes into how she visually tried to translate the story through costuming and set design. Danny talks about some of the principles he and the rest of the crew established for the film. The Interview lasts about thirty four minutes.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Writer Simon Baufoy: This is actually a great video of Simon talking about his journey into screenwriting. He also talks about the great benefit of making Aron Rolston’s true story into a drama instead of a documentary. Simon explains the difference between something being factually true and emotionally true. This is a great twelve and a half minute interview on Simon’s basic philosophy on screenwriting.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Production/Costume Designer Suttirat Larlare: Yes this is another interview with Suttirat. However she is by herself in this interview and gets to do a lot more talking. Suttirat talks quite a while about how she got into the film business and gives some useful advice for anyone else wanting to get into the business. She also expands on the problems that came with creating the main set for 127 Hours. The interview ended up being fifteen minutes long.

Making Of: 127 Hours: Directors of Photography Anthony Dan Mantle and Enrique Chediak: Oh how I wish this was longer. These guys say some good things about the visual style of the film. They talk about why it is so great to work with Danny and a little about how they used the visuals to tell the 127 Hour story. Sadly it is only a four and a half minute interview.

Direct Effect: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle: I believe this is a video worth watching because it covers some different aspects on Danny and his film philosophy. He talks about what he feels film is. He also talks about how it is impossible for him to judge his work and what he thinks about giving test screenings. The interview is only five and a half minutes.

First Showing: 127 Hours: Director Danny Boyle: I believe this is one of the first interviews Danny did  for the film and I believe this interview shows Danny at his most comfortable. He talks more about his philosophy on filmmaking and he seems to very much relate to the young interviewers. He talks about using two DP’s and how they rejuvenated the acting. He also expands on the importance of giving a film momentum. The interview is nineteen and a half minutes.

Obviously through some of these interviews you will hear the filmmakers repeat themselves. However, I feel they are diverse enough interviews to all be listened to and take notes on. It is actually a good thing in my opinion to hear someone say something more then once, because you begin to have the idea take shape in your head more clearly that way. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I did.

Spielberg Tribute

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on July 9, 2011

Here is a link to a GREAT interview of Steven Spielberg. It just happens that J. J. Abrams and James Cameron are asking most of the questions. Let me tell you guys it does not get much better then this. Grab a note pad and get ready to listen to some invaluable advice. When it comes to studying filmmakers you can not get much better then Steven. (Click on the photo to go to the video)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Thanks On Animation for the link)

Andreas Deja- Deja View Site

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on June 12, 2011

I wanted to show you a new site that has just come up. It is called Deja View and is written by Andreas Deja, a animator who has worked at Disney for thirty years. Andreas was the lead animator for characters such as Jafar from Aladdin (1992), Scar from The Lion King (1994), and Lilo from Lilo and Stitch (2002). He has also spent his whole professional career collecting old animation, particularly from the legendary Nine Old Men.

The Nine Old Men are nine animators who were responsible for bringing many of the Disney characters, from the late 1930’s to the beginning of the 1980’s, to life. The Nine Old Men are some of the greatest influences for the medium of animation and are responsible for creating many of the foundations most animators these days stand on. All the Nine Old Men have passed away, the last being Ollie Johnson in 2008. Luckily many of the Nine Old Men were mentors to Andreas. I know he stayed friends with Ollie Johnson, Frank Thomas, and Eric Larson to the end of their lives. So far his blog seems to be devoted to talking about these great animators.

I recommended the blog to anyone looking to go into animation. Unlike historians who talk about these great men from mostly an outsiders perspective, Deja has personal experience with many of these people and the ability to express who these animators were from a animators perspective. Deja is a animation legend himself. He was a key figure in the rise of Disney animation in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Deja is also a huge advocate for keeping 2D animation alive, rather then having all studios converting completely to CG animation. Deja was known for his ability to animate the villain. He was the lead in bringing to life characters like Gaston, Scar, and Jafar. Yet he showed himself a good lead animator for the hero as well with characters such as Lilo,  Mama Odie from Princess and the Frog, and just recently Tigger in the new Winnie the Pooh movie coming out this July.

If you want to hear from Andreas I would recommend you listen to these podcasts from The Animation Podcast: part 1, part 2, and part 3. I am sure you will find Andreas’ story on how he became an animator inspiring and he gives great insight on the medium of animation at Disney in 2005, when this interview was taken.

Without any further to do I give you the Link to Andreas site Deja View:

Click on picture to go to the site.

Ridley Scott- Fox Searchlab Lecture

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on June 5, 2011

One of the directors I have just started to look into is Ridley Scott. This is a fantastic interview he did for Fox Searchlight. I wrote down several pages of notes from this interview.  He gives us a overview on how he got into the film business and talks about many of the things he has learned through the years, all the way from how he deals with actors to how he goes about editing his films. I think the interview is a must watch for any upcoming filmmaker. Hope you enjoy!

I also want to give you the link to Fox Searchlight Interviews, where you can find more interviews similar to this one with some great filmmakers such as Bryan Singer, Danny Boyle, and Darren Aronofsky.

DP/30 Slumdog Millionaire Director and Writer

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on March 17, 2011

If you look to the right in the Blogroll section you will see I have a link to Movie City News’  DP/30 section. The DP/30 section of Movie City News consists of dozens of thirty minute interviews of some of the top filmmakers in Hollywood. I ran across a especially insightful interview of  the director and writer of the award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. The director is Danny Boyle, someone who I have just began to study. I hope to have some papers up on him soon. The writer is Simon Beaufoy, a critically acclaimed screenwriter who won an academy award for his screenplay of Slumdog Millionaire. You do not see interviews much better then this one. These filmmakers are very upfront about their philosophy on filmmaking and they give us some very good information about the film industry and their personal process. I especially liked hearing what Danny and Simon thought of going to India to film the movie and the energy that they felt they caught. They talk about how filming in India changed their entire way of looking and filmmaking. We also see the passion Danny has for filmmaking and we hear about the trust he puts into the screenplay. Slumdog Millionaire had a great partnership between writer and director which resulted in a incredible movie. I hope you enjoy and find this interview as informative and as enjoyable as I did.

SBIFF- Film Panels

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on March 13, 2011

I have been enjoying some of the filmmaker panels for this years award season. These panels are good because they allow us to see opinions from a diverse group of filmmakers. These panels I am about to post are from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I think any up coming filmmaker will find these to be insightful. Hope you enjoy!

Here are the part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 links to the 2011 writers panels.

These are the links to the 2010 directors panel. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.

Insight into Pixar

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 16, 2011

I have run across three interviews that give us a very insightful look into the Pixar Studio. They are three 30 minute interviews of three directors at the Pixar studio, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich. Listening to these guys is very encouraging because you are able to feel the actual enthusiasm all these directors have for the projects they worked on and the studio they work for. The interviews were conducted about a year apart. Andrew Stanton talks about his journey in creating Wall-E. He goes into detail about what first intrigued him about the story and how it developed into a full length movie. Pete talks about his movie UP and Lee talks about his movie Toy Story 3. More importantly they all talk about the freedom they had to persue their visions for the films and how they worked collaboratively to make the movies the best they could possibly be. These guys are really good filmmakers to study if you want to know how to go about constructing a story. They give you a personal look at what made their stories resonate with them and how they were able to fight the battles in order to bring the films to fruition.

All of the Directors were interviewed by the same person, David Poland. The video’s are on the website Movie City News. If you click on the DP/30 link, you will see dozens of 30 minute interviews on some of the biggest names in film. It is well worth taking a look.

Here are the links to the Pixar interviews:

Lee Unkrich (Director of Toy Story 3) Interview:

Pete Docter (Director of Up) Interview:

Andrew Stanton (Director of Wall-E) Interview:

Enjoy!