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8.31.2016

PRODUCTION TIPS: Your September 2016 Calendar for Film Festivals, Screenplay Contests, Fellowships, Labs and Awards

The good people at Script Reader Pro have just made your life easier. 

Why is that you say? 

Because they've made your filmmaking life easier to manage this year with their calendar of all the major upcoming screenwriting contests (orange), awards (blue), festivals (green), fellowships and labs (yellow) in 2016.

Like Yogi Berra says, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” 

Thursday, September 1
 Venice International Film Festival
 American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest Deadline (TBC)
 Berlinale Talents Competition Deadline (TBC)
Friday, September 2
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Saturday, September 3
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Sunday, September 4
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Monday, September 5
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
Tuesday, September 6
 Venice International Film Festival
Wednesday, September 7
 Venice International Film Festival
Thursday, September 8
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
Friday, September 9
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
Saturday, September 10
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Sunday, September 11
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Monday, September 12
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Tuesday, September 13
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Wednesday, September 14
 Toronto International Film Festival
Thursday, September 15
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Screencraft - Pilot Launch TV Script Contest Deadline (TBC)
Friday, September 16
 Toronto International Film Festival
Saturday, September 17
 Toronto International Film Festival

Sunday, September 18
 Toronto International Film Festival

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: Director David Lowery's Production Diary for Pete's Dragon


Originally published in Filmmaker magazine and written by Sarah Salovaara.
David Lowery doesn’t necessarily dole out directing tips in his production diary for the upcoming Disney remake of Pete’s Dragon, but they do seep through in the details. Currently on day 11 of 70 of the New Zealand-based production, many of Lowery’s entries touch upon the fluidity of the filmmaking process. Most recently, he recounts nailing a precisely planned sequence, only to forfeit his original design for another:
Today we were back in the woods at Battle Hill, shooting a sequence that I’d planned out very carefully last summer and had no interest in altering. It was two shots, with a very precise cut point, and a camera move that required counting out loud to get the timing right. We got it exactly as I’d intended. I cut it together there on set and it worked fine and so we we moved on to the next shot, which I’d also planned out somewhat extensively. It was designed to be a long, long shot, and we’d given ourselves the rest of the day to nail it.
Two takes in and it was clear that nailing it wasn’t really an option – that one shot needed to be two, and by the end of the day it became four, and those four when cut together will work far better and with far more grace than whatever strained result the original plan might have yielded. I made quick work of letting go; basically, the movie called me out for trying to get too fancy.
Though the crew takes in “big screen dailies” at the end of the day, Lowery skips the viewing party one evening to edit together the first two days of footage so he can cover his tracks:
I skipped dailies today to hurry home and whip up a rough cut of the past two days of shooting. We only have one day left for a key scene and I started to get worried today that we weren’t going to get everything we needed. I realized in the process of bashing it together that I haven’t edited anything in a really long time. I’m a little bit rusty, I think. We’re cutting the movie in Avid, but I used Premiere for the sake of speed and as I instinctively hit all my old key commands, I felt a bit of remorse for the passing of Final Cut 7. I really need to let go at this point…
Editing together what we’d shot over the first two days of this sequence was incredibly helpful. There were a few missing pieces we needed to get, and a few shots – a reveal here, an interaction there – where I felt we could do better. And we did. It also reminded me why I can’t edit while shooting: I’ll never, ever sleep.
There’s also a worthwhile reflection on directing characters that aren’t added till post, with some help from David Fincher:
I always keep in mind something David Fincher said in regards to Benjamin Button, about how as soon as you treat your special effect like it costs sixty grand per shot, it stops being special and starts calling attention to itself. The way to make it work is to bury it in the frame and let it go out of focus. It still costs the same, but it ceases to be precious and therefore feels more real.
And this, which I’m posting in full, on the trials of shooting out of sequence:
You write all these scenes and each one builds upon the next in a very specific way. Then you start to conceive of how you’ll shoot them and figure out how individual shots will highlight that crescendo and visually underline the emotions you put on the page. And then one day you’re on set, an hour away from lunch and you’re about to shoot one of those shots – a very specific one which will be the culmination of 90 minutes of emotion you have absolutely not filmed yet. Your head spins and you feel like you don’t have a grasp on what it is you’re doing, and so you think about the shot, and break it down into mechanics – the camera starts out here, for starters, and winds up there, and maybe if you shoot at 33 frames per second it will give you a little bit more of that feeling you’re looking for, and if you move a second fan over here you’ll get the wind to move that lock of hair just so as the camera passes betwixt its marks. You create this very mathematical context and then you throw an actor into it and all they have to do is turn their head just so and think the right thoughts and you roll the camera and an entire imagined history suddenly reaches its apex right there in front of you. And from that point forward, you’re working backwards just as much as you are forwards.
All in all, it’s chockfull of insightful, real time reflections, well worth keeping up with, especially from a director who, six years ago, was making $12,000 feature in his home state.
To read more entries of David Lowery's production diary: http://www.road-dog-productions.com/weblog/

For film consultations and legal advice, contact me at danny@djimlaw.com or 929.322.3546.


Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional (hint, hint, me) before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. 
Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it is just information and opinion. But if you want to, you can visit my professional website and hire me.

8.18.2016

SCRIPT TO SCREEN: FILMMAKERS, DARE SOMETHING DIFFERENT or "A 3-Act Structure Tale About 3-Act Structure Elements Called "3-Act Structure""

The 3-Act Structure rules Hollywood even though some think the 3-Act structure actually kills scripts. And as the cartoon demonstrates below in amusing and sarcastic fashion, the 3-Act structure is made up of elements that engage and entertain us while also being repetitive and derivative.  So here's a challenge to all filmmakers, from indie newbies to hollywood bigshots, do you dare tell stories outside of the 3-Act structure? 

Ok, you say, I'm down but what else is there outside of the 3-Act structure?

Well, my friend, that's where your creativity as a writer, director, producer and editor comes in. Plus the cojones to dare and even fail or get audience heads scratching. But if you want some suggestions for ideas well here are a few places to look:
  • One way to start is by considering other options for narrative structures beyond just "linear narrative." 
  • Another suggestion for inspiration is to look to the East for non-Western dramatic structures such as Jo-ha-kyū and Kishōtenketsu
  • And finally be inspired by ideas and concepts we already have in the West such as what you find in experimental cinema, an African-American cyclical structure style as described in this academic paperScott McCloud's Understanding Comics and French actor/writer/dramatist Antonin Artaud's books.



Originally published in Daily Kos.

Follow @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.
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For film consultations and legal advice, contact me at danny@djimlaw.com or 929.322.3546.

Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional (hint, hint, me) before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. 
Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it is just information and opinion. But if you want to, you can visit my professional website and hire me.

8.16.2016

CASE STUDY: Why are there so many sequels in movie theaters?


The overabundance of sequels is nothing new. But why are they in theaters instead of in the secondary markets of Direct-to-DVD or VOD?

Nico Lang from Salon attempts an answer:
Part of that is due to a studio system that’s grown more cautious in recent years, banking on pre-existing properties that seem like safe bets in an uncertain film market. “We have projects at six studios, and ninety per cent of their attention goes to the ones that are superhero or obviously franchisable,” director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”) told the New Yorker. “And every single first meeting I have on a movie, in the past two years, is not about the movie itself but about the franchise it would be starting.”The other reason, though, that so many theatrical sequels are being greenlit is because of the erosion of the home video market. With the disappearance of video stores, the rapid decline in DVD sales, and sluggish VOD numbers, movies are being pushed into theaters that have no business in a multiplex. They simply don’t have any other choice.“Finding Dory,” which is earning high marks from critics, would have been treated very differently by the Mouse House two decades ago. Like “Monsters University” and the poorly received “Cars 2,” it would have been a straight-to-video release.
Although these movies vary greatly in quality, they are built on the exact same template as Disney’s “Balto II,” “The Little Mermaid II,” and “Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.” The trailer for the latter, which was released directly on video in 1998, promised “a new epic chapter from the Pocahontas.” The jovial narrator boasts: “Pocahontas and her friends embark on a fun-filled adventure in the New World of England, where they’ll meet new friends and fight for the future of her people.”While the phrase “direct-to-video” has a pejorative connotation, the “new friends!” + “new adventure!” formula boded very well for Disney in the 1990s and early 2000s, as the studio launched a number of franchises on VHS and DVD, including “Tinker Bell” and the long-running “Air Bud” series. The modestly successful 1997 release, starring Kevin Zegers, spawned a mind-boggling 13 direct-to-video sequels. Those abruptly ceased in 2013.
Click here for the full article. 
Originally published by Salon, June 2016.

For film consultations and legal advice, contact me at danny@djimlaw.com or 929.322.3546.


Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional (hint, hint, me) before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. 
Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it is just information and opinion. But if you want to, you can visit my professional website and hire me.

8.15.2016

PRODUCTION TIPS: Your August 2016 Calendar for Film Festivals, Screenplay Contests, Fellowships, Labs and Awards

The good people at Script Reader Pro have just made your life easier. 

Why is that you say? 

Because they've made your filmmaking life easier to manage this year with their calendar of all the major upcoming screenwriting contests (orange), awards (blue), festivals (green), fellowships and labs (yellow) in 2016.

Like Yogi Berra says, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” 

Thursday, September 1
 Venice International Film Festival
 American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest Deadline (TBC)
 Berlinale Talents Competition Deadline (TBC)
Friday, September 2
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Saturday, September 3
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Sunday, September 4
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
 London Screenwriters Festival
Monday, September 5
 Venice International Film Festival
 Telluride Film Festival
Tuesday, September 6
 Venice International Film Festival
Wednesday, September 7
 Venice International Film Festival
Thursday, September 8
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
Friday, September 9
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
Saturday, September 10
 Venice International Film Festival
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Sunday, September 11
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Monday, September 12
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Tuesday, September 13
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Stowe Story Narrative Lab
Wednesday, September 14
 Toronto International Film Festival
Thursday, September 15
 Toronto International Film Festival
 Screencraft - Pilot Launch TV Script Contest Deadline (TBC)
Friday, September 16
 Toronto International Film Festival
Saturday, September 17
 Toronto International Film Festival

Sunday, September 18
 Toronto International Film Festival