Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why I Chose Film School

I chose to go to film school because it provides so many more opportunities to aspiring filmmakers than does jumping directly into the industry.

First of all, it allows you to learn the history, technique, and theory in a more organized manner. Sure, anyone can pick up a book about how to portray emotion through symbolism on-screen or learn how Hollywood’s studio structure has changed over the years, but self-taught learning will be periodic and will have to fit within the confines of your weekly schedule. If you take the time to study how to portray a story on the screen in a captivating and effective way and learn why certain techniques must be carried out, the films that you make will resonate with knowledge of what you are doing and won’t simply be moving pictures with audio.

Second, with all of this time put aside to learn and be taught the ways of filmmaking, you will also have time to get some hands-on experience. Like teaching yourself, making movies on your own requires time out of your weekly schedule: you’ll have to schedule around work and other obligatory commitments, where as in school you’ll get class time to work on your projects and complete them in a more timely manner. Along with this hands-one experience, you will be able to dabble with professional equipment that you would otherwise only experience on a professional movie set. Unless you have a job on a movie set that requires no college education, you won’t be able to use professional equipment unless you shell out a sizable chunk of change and you’ll have no experience operating it. Some argue that with the increased use of digital video and availability of editing software on your personal computer that experience with actual film isn’t necessary, but most major Hollywood films are still being shot with film as it is part of the history and tradition of film production, so it will not die out that quickly. It’s good to get familiar with the equipment while you can.

Third, film school allows you to receive one-on-one advice and help by like-minded individuals. You’ll have mentors who are professionals in the field who can give you tips on how to better your projects and offer you inciteful and helpful critique. The same goes for your fellow students: seeing as they’re studying the same thing as you are, their critique and input may be more useful than that of your close friends and family or a random YouTuber who’s simply trolling the comments section of your video.

The fourth, final, and most important reason as to why one should attend film school is the connections. As previously stated, your teachers and mentors are quite experienced and no doubt have had some involvement with the film industry at one point or another. Establishing good relationships with them while in school can be beneficial down the road, as they can put you in contact with other influential (and affluent) filmmakers active in the business. Even the connections you make with your fellow film students are important; maintain good relationships with them and you’ll see how much easier it will be to find a crew and/or cast to help you out with your future endeavors (or for you to find future work on a crew yourself).

If you are interested in making movies, film school is most definitely beneficial and should not be passed up.


Spielberg’s and Jackson’s Take on Tintin

Tintin is a world-famous series of comics developed by the Belgian artist known as Hergé that follows a young reporter and his little white terrier around the globe as he investigates a slew of mysteries. Though previous cinematic adaptations of the comic have been produced through European studios as well as two different animated television shows, it has finally been picked up by Hollywood to be turned into an animated, adventure-packed blockbuster by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.  Spielberg has been in pursuit of making a Tintin movie for close to three decades now, and when he finally regained the rights to it back in 2002 (he first had them in 1983 but they returned to the Hergé Foundation after much inaction on the project) he started developing the project with CGI animation.  Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital was brought on board, and they decided to use motion-capture technology to film instead of traditional computer animation.  (If all goes well with the first film, Jackson plans to direct a second installment and both he and Spielberg plan to co-direct a third.)

I myself have never read the source material, but after seeing this trailer I am very tempted to.  I have, though, seen excerpts from the series before, and I think this style of animation suits it very well.  Some may complain that the mo-cap used here treks across the uncanny valley,  but I think that in this case it is a perfect fit.  The film seems to retain its sense of seriousness and realism of  its source material while at the same time keeping in touch with the more cartoonish aspects of the comic while becoming over-animated and zany like most animated films do.  With this, Spielberg seems to recapture the mystery and adventure that audiences enjoyed with the original Indiana Jones trilogy, which would make for a great and memorable movie-going experience.

Here’s the full-length international trailer that was released a couple weeks back:


If I may be frank, I’ll say what most of you are thinking: my blogging skills leave something to be desired.  Not only are my updates very sporadic–both in posting dates and content–and rather dull.  I have written proof of this, in the form of a sincere message from a good friend.  He recently took a glance at my blog, and noted that while it is interesting that I have started writing a blog he is bored by my writing.  Though there are many tips that he offered me in order to perfect my skills within the blogosphere, the main one that he stressed was that I develop an attitude.  “Blogs are better oriented around the personality of the blogger than anything else,” he tells me.

He linked me this brief article by economist Robin Hanson, in which he observes the results of a survey question among a pool of people.  Over half of the correspondents had changed their answers over the time period between two surveys of the same question, leading him to believe that attitudes “may not ‘exist’ in a coherent form” and “you have fewer real opinions than you think”.

At first I was rather baffled by this article, especially in the context of which it was sent: Why should I read an article and then respond to it–with an attitude–if this article says that we as opinionated humans have less attitude than we like to believe?  I got to thinking that perhaps humans feel that it is a necessity to be opinionated because we need to feel like we are making a difference with our speech.  Whether it’s on a blog, on a soapbox, or in response to a survey, we like to feel as if we stand somewhere on some issue–it gives us the feeling that we are knowledgeable about our world and not stuck in the unknown (this lack of knowledge we undoubtedly equate with low intelligence).  So I guess attitudes and opinions make us interesting and keep us from being ignored–even if we have none.

I will try my best to develop an intriguing attitude.  Don’t like it?  Read something else.

“Battleship” Trailer Released; Sunk on Arrival?

Universal Pictures has unveiled the trailer for its blockbuster adaptation of the classic Hasbro game “Battleship”. According to Production Weekly, it’s about an international naval fleet and their contact with an alien race that wants to build a power source on earth. In good old-fashioned Internet-speak, “WAT.”

In recent years, Hollywood has stumbled upon a goldmine: childhood nostalgia. Ever since the release of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” back in 2007, it seems that everyone wants adapt a toy or a board game into a movie. And why not? They may have terrible acting, shitty dialogue and indiscernible plots (my personal opinion after sitting through the first Transformers film–three times) but they provide enough dumb, loud action and a boat-load (no pun intended) of eye-catching visual effects to drag in everybody from die-hard fans to the casual summer moviegoer looking for a piece of summer escapism. And it’s no doubt that Universal has joined this game race, seeing as they haven’t been doing so hot in recent years with many box-office failures, besides their infamous “Fast and the Furious” flicks.

Here’s the trailer via Daily Motion:
Battleship Trailer (2012) HD 1080p by Filmsactu

Also, it’s disappointing seeing a veteran actor like Liam Neeson in this kind of film. I wouldn’t necessarily classify all of his more recent projects as “bad” (I think that “Taken” and “Unknown” are great revenge thrillers) but he seems that he’s choosing these big-time, action-packed films other than more dramatic roles. I mean, sure, he’s still doing the occasional small-budget indie film like “Chloe” or “Breakfast on Pluto”, but he doesn’t seem to be exercising his dramatic muscle anymore. Too bad.

So, what do you think? Will you see this summer spectacular, or will you just leave it to sink at the box office?