Monday, March 30, 2009

Color Film

Color tends to be a subconscious element in film. It has an emotional appeal which often suggests mood of the film or characters in it.

The first Technicolor film was THE GULF BETWEEN (U.S., 1917), a five-reeler made by Technicolor Motion Picture Corp. in Florida mainly for trade showings in eastern cities, to create interest in color movies among producers and exhibitors. It did not receive nationwide distribution. A lost film today, only a few frames survive.

The first Technicolor feature made in Hollywood, and the first to receive nationwide distribution, was the costume drama THE TOLL OF THE SEA (1922).
Another silent movie filmed entirely in Technicolor was the swashbuckler THE BLACK PIRATE (U.S., 1926), produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923) THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) BEN-HUR (1925) KING OF KINGS (1926)used color as a gimmick or in parts.

The first all-talking Technicolor feature was the Warner Bros. musical ON WITH THE SHOW (1929).

All of the color films up to this point were two-color processes, which could capture only two of the three primary colors of light.

In 1932, Technicolor perfected a three-color motion picture process (also known as three-strip Technicolor, because three negatives were employed in the camera, one for each primary color of light -- red, green, and blue).

It was introduced with the Walt Disney cartoon FLOWERS AND TREES (1932), which won the first Academy Award for Animation. Walt Disney kept a monopoly on 3-color technicolor from 1932-1935.

The first feature-length movie in three-strip Technicolor was the costume comedy-drama BECKY SHARP (U.S., 1935)

Technicolor used a three color system: red, blue, green (these colors therefore are most vivid)

Early color was used as an expression (expressionism) of the director’s or cinematographer’s story, and so early films with color tend to be ones that are formalistic, artificial, or exotic. Color was often not used for “realistic” movies.

Warm colors: red, yellow, orange (brown)
Cool colors: Blue, green, violet (white)

Please copy these addresses into your address bar and watch from Youtube.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marx Brothers

After turning in your homework, come view "A Night at the Opera" by the Marx Brothers, directed by Sam Wood (screenplay by George S. Kaufman...famous american playwright in comedy, particularly known for his play: 'You Can't Take it With You.'

Please read (as much as you can) of the script Duck Soup. As you read pay attention to the film script format and apply some of the important details from your homework to the script. The link is to your left, under the link page. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Skill of Editing

Just for fun, take a look at the following 2 clips on This is an excellent example how editing and music can alter tone in film. Enjoy! (to view, copy and paste these addresses in google.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Golden Age of Film

Please complete the note handout about film in the 1930's. You will find this information on Tim Dirks' film website under FILM HISTORY: FILMs by DECADE. Select the 1930's. Due next class.

On Youtube (particularly if you were not in class Tuesday), please view the following clips/films:

James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) starring Colin Clive & Boris Karloff (as the monster)

Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi.

Merian Cooper's King Kong (1933), starring Fay Wrey, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot.

Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932), starring Boris Karloff.

Please complete the reading article on Screenwriting by Ray Frensham. Begin to gather ideas for your own film script.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sound in Film

Joseph P. Maxfield (AT&T’s Bell Laboratories) invented the first phonograph linked to film (licensed by Victor as the Orthophonic Victrola) which became the basis for the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system.

The Vitaphone allowed actors to lipsync their performance while the sound was recorded after; (This helped to popularize animation!)

The first sound film was Don Juan in 1926. The Jazz Singer (1927), directed by Alan Crosland, starring famous vaudeville actor, Al Jolson is popularly given this award. Really both films were songs or music in Don Juan's case, that were played along and synched with the film.
The Jazz Singer
gave birth to the Hollywood musical genre.

Warner Bros. and Fox Film began wiring their theatres for sound as early as 1926. By 1928, Western Electric developed a sound-on-film system, which later developed a new competitive major studio: Radio-Keith-Orpheum or RKO.

The conversion to sound created both positive and negative effects for Film:

A. Led to a revival of national film elsewhere in the world
B. Cinema owners did not have to hire musicians for an in-house orchestra
C. Silent films were easier to distribute across the world (no need to translate) which later creates the need for dubbing (1932 -- ex. Paramount studios); before this, multi-lingual films make stars like Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier, Bela Lugosi, Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, and Peter Lore more important--since they can speak different languages (and therefore sync their voices to film).
D. Film became a single media event
E. Films came to the theatres as final products, whole and complete
F. The immersive qualities of film and the viewer become inseparable
G. Dialogue became a necessity to tell the plot of a film

A. Produced panic and confusion in Hollywood
B. Many musicians lost their jobs
C. Early sound films from America were boycotted by certain countries; films were not as widely distributed, more costly to translate.
D. Silent film culture was destroyed
E. Films did not require additional music, some ambiance was lost -- sound film was seen as the killer of “film as the seventh art form”
F. Film was no longer a “theatrical” or “artistic” event
G. Dialogue became a necessity to tell the plot of a film

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting an Idea for a Script

When deciding on making a film, your first decision is often based on your resources. If you have a camera and editing equipment or software available, you are half-way there. But you also need locations, actors, props, costumes, etc. The trickiest part can be deciding on a subject.

To help you, consider the following:
1. What kind of movies do I like?
2. What kind of movie would I like to see?
3. What genre of movie do I like the most?
4. What style of film (realism, formalism, classicism) would I like to create?

The style of film you choose will determine how you approach your subject matter, how much camera work or editing will be needed, and whether or not you focus on subject matter, symbolism, character, setting, or plot.

5. Who might help me with my film?
6. Do I have the settings/locations to shoot my idea?
7. Do I have the props or actors I need to shoot my idea?
8. How much time am I willing to work on this project?
9. What do I want to say? What point do I need to make?
10. Which filmmakers (or films) will I use as inspiration?

Try to answer as many of these questions BEFORE you begin writing your 1 page treatment.

A treatment is simply a summary of your intent. What is your film going to be about? Use the questions above to help you explain your idea to me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Exam and Journal Papers Due!

Our exam on film since its origin to 1930 is Tuesday. After the exam, please begin working on a 1 page treatment for an original film idea.

Your journal papers (2) are due Thursday, March 19. See the posting for Journal topics in the February Archive.

For those of you absent on Friday's class, please remember to post a comment on Metropolis by the end of the week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Review for Unit Exam: Origin to 1930

Styles of film: realism, classicism, formalism
Early film invention: Magic Lantern Daguerreotype Celluloid Kinetoscope Mutoscope
Edweard Muybridge
The Lumiere Brothers
Pathe Frere Manufacturing Company
Thomas Edison and the Edison Manufacturing Company
The Black Maria
Hepworth Manufacturing Company
George Melies
Persistence of Vision
Etinnene-Jules Marey
George Eastman
Edwin S. Porter
Hepworth's films:Rescued by Rover ; How It Feels to be Run Over;
Explosion of a Motor Car ;The Great Sneeze
Actualities & Blue Movies
Aladin and the Wonderful Lamp
Edwin S. Porter's films: The Great Train Robbery ; Dream of a Rarebit Fiend
Melies' A Trip to the Moon
D.W. Griffith and his contribution to film (also his Intolerance, Way Down East, and Birth of a Nation)
Lillian Gish
Early film comedy and comedians
Charlie Chaplin (The Rink) and comic devices
Buster Keaton (The Paleface)
Other important film stars: Douglas Fairbanks sr., Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Janet Gaynor, Clara Bow, W.C. Fields, Greta Garbo
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle & his scandal (Hays Code chapter)
Hollywood (the origin and development of)
The Academy Awards
German Expressionism
Types of Shots
Types of Angles
F.W. Murnau & “Nosferatu”
Conrad Viedt & the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Fritz Lang & Metropolis
Sergei Eisenstein & Battleship Potemkin
Early independent film studios/the Hollywood Studio System
Early major film studios (1920-1930)
Sid Grauman
Early sound in film & The Jazz Singer
The Hays Code

Respond to Metropolis

Please post a comment about the Fritz Lang's film. You may wish to discuss personal expectation, special effects, camera use, complexity, symbol or meaning, connection to various sci-fi films, influence, visual photography, or any other aspect you deem necessary.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang born in Vienna, Germany, 1890 -- the son of an architect
• Dropped out of college Fought in the Great War (WWI)
After the war, Lang meets producer Erich Pommer who worked for the movie company Declar
Later Declar becomes UFA (the largest film company in Europe)
1919 - Lang directs his first film “Halbblut” (the Half-Caste)
1920 - Meets writer Thea von Harbou, marries her in 1922
Thea von Harbou wrote all of Lang’s films (including Metropolis) until 1933 when they divorced
1925-1926 - makes the film Metropolis which is drastically cut and distributed over the world Lang forms his own production company; Thea is his main writer
1931 - M (with actor Peter Lorre)
1932 - The Testimony of Dr. Mabuse (banned because it criticized the Nazi party)
1933 - Immigrated to the U.S.
1934 - Offered a contract by David Selznick, producer at MGM Goes on to make several films (mixing styles), ends up going blind and dying in 1975

MAJOR FILMS: Halbblut (Half Caste) (1919) Dr. Mabuse (1922) (serial) Die Niebelungen (Siegfried; Kriemhild's Revenge) (1924). Metropolis (1926) Spies (1928) M (1931) The Last Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1932) Fury (1936) You Only Live Once
(1937) Western Union (1941) Man Hunt (1941) The Ministry of Fear (1944) Cloak and Dagger (1946) Secret Beyond the Door (1948) The Big Heat (1953) Moonfleet (1955) While the City Sleeps (1956). Die Tausend Augend des Dr. Mabuse ("The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse") 1960

On Youtube, check out some clips from Lang's movies. We will view the entire Metropolis next week.

Please read Sergei Eisenstein and the use of Montage & The Movies Learn to Speak for Monday.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


“Why should an artist duplicate the real world when it already exists for everyone to see?”

• Begins in Europe around 1906 in painting and theatre
• Style is unrealistic, stylized
• Attention often given to angles
• Distorted perspectives
• Narrow, tall streets and buildings (set pieces)
• Lighting is “dramatic”; Use of shadows
• Actors are grotesque, exaggerated make-up
• Dark, nightmarish tones & moods
• Attempt to show the interior lives of characters through exteriors
• Expressionism influences Futurism (and Modernism)
• Expressionism influences Film Noir in the 1930’s

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Robert Weine (director) 1919

On, please view clips from the following:

Murnau's Nosferatu (1922)
Wegener's Der Golem (1920)
Leni's' The Cat and the Canary (1927)

These movies, along with Dr. Caligari, are influential in creating the "horror" genre in film. Please comment after you view these clips. Why is expressionism a good stylistic choice for horror films?

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...