PRODUCTION JOURNAL: Monday Morning Mixer - 10.21.13

October 21, 1984 - François Truffaut dies
One of the central figures of the French New Wave, François Truffaut, died October 21, 1984. Born in Paris in 1932, living an itinerant childhood with his single (later remarried) mother and several relatives, Truffaut became a child of the cinema early in life. He would steal away from school and sneak into matinees — childhood experiences that would form the basis for his first feature, The 400 Blows. He won the Cannes Best Director Award in 1959 for the picture, in which the 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud played his alter ego, Antoine Doinel, enacted the tale of a neglected child poised between a life of petty crime and something greater. Before The 400 Blows, Truffaut had made several shorts but was mostly known as a tough-minded film critic at Cahiers du cinéma who often savaged conventional French cinema and endorsed instead the journeyman Hollywood directors celebrated by “auteur theory,” the critical school he helped found. Throughout the 1960s, Truffaut went on to make a number of critically acclaimed films (Shoot the Piano Player, Stolen Kisses, Jules and Jim, The Soft Skin) that married a loose-limbed montage with resonant characters, a sometimes literary sensibility and a passionate belief in the power of cinema. In 1966 he made his English-language debut with an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and in 1973 he won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Day for Night, his masterful ode to relationships amidst the strange fusion of fantasy and reality that is movie production. In 1977, Truffaut played a French scientist in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact, throughout his career, relationships with other directors were a constant, whether they be his fractured friendship with Jean-Luc Godard or his series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock (Hitchcock by Truffaut), which are a masterclass of filmmaking insight. Today, Truffaut lives on in his movies, of course, but also in the inspiration he’s provided to the directors who grew up loving his films. In a Time ( essay, Martin Scorsese captured just a few of the things that make Truffaut’s films so meaningful and memorable: “There are things that Truffaut did in those early movies that left a lasting impression: the opening expository section of Jules and Jim, where time and space is abolished and the images flow like music across the screen; the series of shots from Fahrenheit 451 (another underrated picture) where the camera moves in close-closer-closest on a character in imminent danger, which I admit I've duplicated many times in my own films. And the character played by Charles Aznavour in Shoot the Piano Player, who keeps almost acting but never does until it's too late, had a profound effect on me, and on many other filmmakers.” ~~Focus Features
WRITING: What is the one big problem of your script?

PRODUCING:How did Hunter Weeks finance his first 6 films?

FINANCING: What are 4 ways to finance a TV pilot?

DIRECTING: How do you use the camera to tell the story?

SHOOTING: What should directors know about focal length?

LIGHTING:What are the similarities and differences between a cheap halogen light and an expensive flourescent bulb for HDSLR filmmaking?

SOUND: What are the main sound techniques used in film?

STUNTS & FX: How do you show someone blown in half?

EDITING: What can writers teach you about editing?

MARKETING: How the heck you market an artist like Jean Luc Godard around the world?

DISTRIBUTION: Why do horror remakes continue being made? It's all about the ROI.

LEGAL: What's a good way to start a production company?

And since Godard and Truffaut both came up in today's post... here's a short film they both directed together:


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