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Andrew Reid

Cinematography skills and filmmaking ideas

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I'm setting up this post because I am fed up of the camera posts going off topic.

 

This is a thread to discuss the craft rather than the technical side of filmmaking.

 

Cinematography, lighting techniques, story and character ideas. It can all go here.

 

If it gets used regularly I'll make it a sticky.

 

Enjoy!

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Let me recommend a book I think every film-maker should read

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sculpting-Time-Tarkovsky-Filmaker-Discusses/dp/0292776241

 

In my 20s my girlfriend took me to her favorite film, The Sacrifice.  I have never sat through a longer, more boring, 2 hours in my life!  When I later read that they forgot to load film into the camera before shooting the burning house, and had to shoot another burning house, i was not in the last surprised.  I made a mental note that Tarkovsky is the WORST filmmaker ever.

 

Then I read the book and watched some of his other films.  

 

What I love about this site is that it talks about film-making technology in a serious way.  People who think it's about one camera vs another are COMPLETELY missing the point.  The questions trying to be answered is "what is the best technological approach, and trade-off, I should take for what I want to shoot."  

 

Let me finish my rant with this.  At the Dartmouth Film Society they showed "Black Narcissus".  There are so few real film-theaters around I was very excited.  I wished my oldest kids were around to take them.  Anyway, I went by myself and watched it.  It didn't look good at all.  I thought, "I guess digital technology has advanced so far Technicolor now looks like crap."  I had remembered seeing the film in NYC and being blown away with it's cinematography.  Afterwards, I asked what they showed it on.  The young woman (student) says, "DVD, we wanted to show it in film, but the projector was broken.  And then our Bluray wasn't working.  Fortunately, we had a DVD too."  I was floored.  

 

It wasn't that a film-society showed one of the greatest Technicolor masterpieces in DVD, it was that they did not tell the audience.  People went away not having experienced the technology/story as it was meant to be shown.  

 

That's the way I feel reading many of those off-posts.  Many readers don't know the beauty of real film because it has been swamped by digital content.  Eventually, everyone learns their mistakes, just like I did about Tarkovsky and the real goal of filmmaking.  Many posters here that go off-topic will one day get it.  

 

Now, to get back on this topic, what are the best films that use the most minimal of technology.  I'd love to see a best 10 lists.  I'll start with Fast Runner.

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Eventually, everyone learns their mistakes, just like I did about Tarkovsky and the real goal of filmmaking. 

 

The first Tarkovsky I ever saw was also The Sacrifice. I thought it was wonderful. As an art student working with video I thought I'd finally found a feature-film maker I could truly relate to. Eventually, I learned my mistake and now I think Tarkovsky is, well, not the WORST filmmaker ever, but definitely boring, definitely over-hyped. I probably wouldn't sit through any Tarkovsky film now. I think it's pretentious to expect an audience to get so much from such long takes and so little narrative momentum. But that's like, only my opinion, man ...  :) 

 

One of my favourite filmmakers, since my teens, has been David Lynch. I love the way he uses film. But then came INLAND EMPIRE, shot entirely on SD MiniDV, and my heart sank. It's horrible! His painterly aesthetic does NOT translate well to SD DV! 

 

The last film I saw at the cinema was Sarah Polley's doc "Stories We Tell" (completely brilliant btw) which is interesting because she had to use different media for different parts of the film to make the story work.

 

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The last film I saw at the cinema was Sarah Polley's doc "Stories We Tell" (completely brilliant btw) which is interesting because she had to use different media for different parts of the film to make the story work.

 

 

I can't watch Tarkovsky's films either.  To me, he's the antithesis of the tech guy who talks nothing but tech.  With Takovsky, it's nothing but personal expression.  "American Beauty" came out just before I read that book.  That movie left me with mixed feelings, which I couldn't articulate.  Tarkovsky articulated the problem I had with that film perfectly, which is the more cliche's and tropes you use, the further you get from the core thing you want to express.  

 

I looked up "Stories We Tell".  It's on Amazon so will watch soon.  Thanks for the suggestion!

 

Agree, that bio of Cardiff should be on any film-makers list of docs to watch.  The Archers made so many interesting films.  The Cohen brothers of their day.

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I looked up "Stories We Tell".  It's on Amazon so will watch soon.  Thanks for the suggestion!

 

From a technical/cinematographic perspective it's not that interesting, but formally/structurally its one of the best films I've seen in a very long time. 

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talking about the genius Jack Cardiff my I recomend this dvd all about him and his techniques its a gold mine of infomation

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/jack-cardiff-cameraman-NEW-SEALED-DVD-Fast-Post-UK-STOCK-Top-seller-/360768211742?pt=UK_CDsDVDs_DVDs_DVDs_GL&hash=item53ff760b1e

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The first Tarkovsky I ever saw was also The Sacrifice. I thought it was wonderful. As an art student working with video I thought I'd finally found a feature-film maker I could truly relate to. Eventually, I learned my mistake and now I think Tarkovsky is, well, not the WORST filmmaker ever, but definitely boring, definitely over-hyped. I probably wouldn't sit through any Tarkovsky film now. I think it's pretentious to expect an audience to get so much from such long takes and so little narrative momentum. But that's like, only my opinion, man ... :)


The first Tarkovsky I ever saw was Andrej Rubljev (didn't check the spelling, it's different in every language anyway, like Tarkovsky). I didn't expect much, to be honest. But I was mesmerized by the pace of the storytelling, by the photography, by everything. And in the last scene, there was a key moment for me I will never forget. I love all Tarkovskys.

Now, to get back on this topic, what are the best films that use the most minimal of technology. I'd love to see a best 10 lists.



I recently saw 'A Field In England' on youtube. Happens to be black&white as well.

Then the 1962 poetic science fiction 'La Jetté', also b&w. It's the story that Terry Gilliams 12 Monkeys is based on. Short doc to give you an impression:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO21XtLOsD4

 


To be continued.

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Pulp Fiction!

 

The script is a poem, it's engrossing, funny, clever, doesn't take itself too seriously. Lovely retro anamorphic cinematography, some crazy distorted old glass in that.

 

It's the film that made me realise film could be perfect by wearing heart on sleeve. I think I was 13 at the time.

 

I can nearly recite the script of by heart ;)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYSt8K8VP6k

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I started watching La Jette last night but my daughter said the soundtrack was going to give her nightmares :)   But I could already see that it deserves to be on the "minimalist" list.  

 

I went to see Rush last night with my brother in law.  Looks like it was shot on high-ISO film-stock.  Afterwards, I looked it up and discovered they shot on a multitude of cameras, from Arris down to 5Ds.  Lots of FX too, from backgrounds to crash sequences.  I enjoyed the film and what I thought impressive is how the technology never interfered, that is, I never felt something was done for technology's sake.   

 

They could have used a 5D3 with the ML hack, but they used an Arri, because that is what was available to them and they used the best tool in their budget.  That didn't stop them from using 5Ds for other stuff, or other cameras.  Most important, they didn't use film though though they lovingly recreated that look.

 

JG, my oldest daughter has probably watched Kill Bill a gazillion times.  She in art school now.  I play that old foggy "that stuff is stupid" :)  But I agree, Pulp Fiction is straight up great film-making.

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Painfully brilliant.

 

Check out the switch of mood when he starts to flashback... around 3 minutes, also where it cuts wide again, just genius...

 

The establishing wide shot on a wide, bulgey anamorphic, and some nice portraits used to emphasis the story flow

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1ukjdwLAIc

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The man behind Black Narcissus is Jack Cardiff...

Try to see these documental about the cinematographer. Really great!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1626811/

Best.

 

Jack Cardiff also wrote a fantastic autobiography called 'Magic Hour'. It's a real insight into how cinema developed (he started working prior to WWII). He also shot 'The African Queen' & a host of other major films. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Hour-Movies-Jack-Cardiff/dp/0571192742

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Let's include shorts. The first narrative films were shorts. The brazilian short Tyger (2006) is one of my favorites, although it is rather a poem. Minimalist technique? At least it's still manageable on a budget, and I think, had this been my work, I would be proud.

 

Low budget indie filmmakers talk the most amount of shit of other peoples works.

 

 Explain please.

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I'm curious as to how many on this board actually put together narrative pieces. I don't see much in the screening room. Anyone here do anything other than weddings and event coverage? 

 

It appears to me this is mostly a technical forum, as per Andrews blog posts are normally technical reviews and tests. I've not seen any narrative pieces by him or anybody else in the forums, maybe nobody bother sharing them or some get a buzz out of technical aspects. Not sure. Whatever floats whose boat. 

 

I consider myself mostly a creative 'narrative' person. I care most about the content, the way its shot and lit, the styling, the locations....but I come on this forum for education, so I understand how to technically bring my ideas to life. 

 

To stay on topic, I particulary enjoy the work of Alfonso Cauron, like Children Of Men. His experimentation with cinematography is awesome. As I also love making music videos, I feel inspired by the weirdness and surreal aspects of Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry and Jonas Auckerland - striving to make every video I make completely different in every way. 

 

Heres 2 examples of music videos I made, just to show you how different and experimental I treat every project. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmDU5HDwlnM

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFba6-mLwLo

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Olly, some PhD student could certainly go to town on the second video!  There's an interesting detachment.  You didn't linger on any shots that one might linger on ;)  He's living the dream, yet it goes by so quickly, you can't see him actually enjoying it.  Is life lived as a dream enjoyable?

 

As for my narrative videos.  As much as I would love to shoot some of my scripts, I don't have the time, money, or appetite for the sacrifice involved.  When one says, "just go out and do it", that's easy to say if you're single or don't know just how much you need from others to get it done.  If you have a family, the risks are very high.  Once we had our first child I recognized that people don't watch the films I would have loved making.  I don't know if I could do a good film; I do know my natural audience would be very small.  In any case, masterpieces exist and few people watch them as it is.  So I spend my time trying to turn people onto them. 

 

I've been working on technical issues involved in making the EOS-M a good RAW shooter.  If I succeed some filmmaker might use the camera to shoot a reel that gets them the opportunity to do a film I would call a classic. Certainly, I would love to shoot something worthwhile with it.

 

We are all part of each other's narratives.  Or as one of my friends so wittily put it, "we all play bit-parts in each other's screenplays"

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This is an experimental/narrative film I made for my practice-based Fine Art PhD several years ago. Technically it will certainly be regarded as very poor in the context of this site: it was shot on an HV20 in 2008 and admitedly before I understood much about the technical aspects of filmmaking. However it was made in art school, not film school, and appropriately to this thread intentionally explores the degradation/materiality of the video/film image: the "poor" image is the point of the film.

 

The thesis I wrote alongside it had a significant section about La Jete and how it related to ideas that went into my film. No prizes for guessing the main film it alludes to though!

 

This is a recent re-edit, which has shortened it a bit. Go to Vimeo to watch in HD, and please use headphones or good speakers if you can - the audio is dense and relies on good stereo separation. 

 

Critique welcomed (though please bear in mind that I'm very aware of its technical "deficiencies")!!

 

https://vimeo.com/63100819

 

 

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