Thursday, March 31, 2011

Useful List of Film Jobs (for Credits)

Producer: The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring and arranging distributors. The producer is normally involved throughout all phases of the film making process from development to completion of a project. An investor in the project is called an executive producer.

Production Coordinator: The information nexus of the production, responsible for organizing all the logistics from hiring crew, renting equipment, and booking talent. The PC is an integral part of film production. Choose the person who helped organize your group the most.

Director: The director oversees the creative aspects of a film, including controlling the content and flow of the film's plot, directing the performances of actors, organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot, and managing technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film's soundtrack. Though the director wields a great deal of power, he/she is ultimately subordinate to the film's producer or producers.

Assistant Director: Assists the director.

Script Supervisor: The person who keeps track of what parts of the script have been filmed and makes notes of any deviations between what was actually filmed and what appeared in the script. They make notes on every shot, and keep track of props, blocking, and other details to ensure continuity from shot to shot and scene to scene. The Script Supervisor's notes are given to the Editor to expedite the editing process.

Production Designer: A production designer is responsible for creating the physical, visual appearance of the film - settings, costumes, properties, character makeup, all taken as a unit.

Art Director: The art director reports to the production designer, and more directly oversees artists and craftspeople, such as the set designers, graphic artists, and illustrators who give form to the production design as it develops.

Assistant art director: The person who helps out the instructions of the art director.

Set Designer: The set designer is the draftsman, often an architect, who creates the structures or interior spaces called for by the production designer.

Set Decorator: The set decorator is in charge of the decorating of a film set, which includes the furnishings and all the other objects that will be seen in the film.

Set Dresser: The set dressers apply and remove the "dressing", i.e., furniture, drapery, carpets—everything one would find in a location, even doorknobs and wall sockets.

Props Master: The property master, or props master, is in charge of finding and managing all the props that appear in the film. The props master usually has several assistants, including: props builders, weapons masters, etc.

Make-up Artist: Make-up artists work with makeup, hair and special effects to create the characters look for anyone appearing on screen. Their role is to manipulate an actor's on-screen appearance whether it makes them look more youthful, larger, older, or in some cases monstrous. There are also body makeup artists who concentrate their abilities on the body rather than the head.

Costume designer: The costume designer is responsible for all the clothing and costumes worn by all the actors that appear on screen. They are also responsible for designing, planning, and organizing the construction of the garments down to the fabric, colors, and sizes. They are assisted by the costume supervisor and costume crews.

Cinematographer/Director of Photography (DP): The chief of the camera and lighting crew of the film. The DP makes decisions on lighting and framing of scenes in conjunction with the film's director. Typically, the director tells the DP how they want a shot to look, and the DP chooses the correct aperture, filter, and lighting to achieve the desired effect.

Camera Operator: The camera operator uses the camera at the direction of the cinematographer, director of photography, or the film director to capture the scenes on film. Generally, a cinematographer or director of photography does not operate the camera, but sometimes these jobs may be combined. Various assistants are also named.

Production Sound Mixer: The head of the sound department on set, responsible for recording all sound during filming.

Grip: Grips are trained lighting and rigging technicians. Their main responsibility is to work closely with the electrical department to put in lighting set-ups required for a shot. On the sound stage, they move and adjust major set pieces when something needs to be moved to get a camera into position. They are divided further into Key Grip, Best Boy (assistant to the key grip), dolly grips.

Gaffer: The gaffer is the head of the electrical department, responsible for the design and execution of the lighting plan for a production. Sometimes the gaffer is credited as "Chief Lighting Technician". His/her assistant is referred to as the Best Boy.

Location Manager: Oversees the Locations Department and its staff, typically reporting directly to the Production Manager and/or Assistant Director (or even Director and/or Executive Producer). Location Manager is responsible for final clearing (or guaranteeing permission to use) a location for filming. Usually he/she has several assistants.

Transportation: Transports cast, crew and equipment back and forth between locations. These people are divided into: transportation coordinator, transportation captain, drivers, assistants, etc.

Film Editor: The film editor is the person who assembles the various shots into a coherent film, with the help of the director. There are usually several assistant editors. Various technical responsibilities are referred to as editors such as dialogue editors (who work with dialogue), Sound editing, etc.

Visual Effects Supervisor: The visual effects supervisor is in charge of the visual effects department.

Film Project (Deadline for Shooting, Nearing); Golden Age: Genre Films

The Playwrights' Festival is tonight only! Students from this class get a free ticket. Please come and support your Creative Writing Department and the hard work of our actors and playwrights.

Today, please complete the following:
A. Upload any footage for your film. Complete your still shots (establishing shots) and titles, intertitles, and end credits. Meet and plan to complete the shooting of your film with your film group.

B. Unless you are editing (no more than 2 people should be doing this) or shooting your script today in class, please work on the Metropolis essay (see previous posts).

C. If you haven't yet watched the clips from last class, please do that. Take notes about what films you are seeing and why (see previous post)

D. Genre films came into their own in the 1930's. Now with talking and the use of dialogue, plots can be more complex, the acting more realistic because the actor doesn't need to contort their face and body to communicate ideas, and sound effects (such as music for a musical) are much more entertaining.

Check out some of these genre films:

Gangster Films:
The Public Enemy (1931)
Scarface (1932)

Cimarron (1930)
Stagecoach (1939) John Wayne (John Ford directing)

War Films:
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

The Gay Divorcee (1934) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Top Hat (1935) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Swing Time (1936) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (again)
42 Street (1933)

Flowers and Trees (1932) Walt Disney, but starring no one important
Disney's The Three Little Pigs (1933)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Disney
Another selection from Snow White.

Popeye the Sailor (1933) with Betty Boop (and Popeye, of course)

HOMEWORK: Complete the shooting of your film projects by Monday, April 4. Attend the Playwrights' Festival tonight at 7:00 in the Ensemble Theater (one night only!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Film Project & The Golden Age of Film (clips & history)

The Playwrights' Festival is this Thursday, March 31 at 7:00. All students in this class get in free. Otherwise, tickets are available at the door. Please support your creative writing department.

After our quiz on the effect of sound on the film industry, please work on your film project. In the very least (even if you have no footage to edit), you may create your titles, intertitles, and end credits. Use this time allotted to you. All filming should be completed by Monday, April 4.

The 1930's is considered the Golden Age of Film. Please review and take notes on these following film clips. You should note who is starring in which roles and how certain actors and directors helped shape the genres we now recognize in film today. You will be tested on the material found here, so please watch attentively and make some observations about film in the 1930's.

As for camera work, there are few tricks being used with cameras. Angles are mostly eye-level, with medium, long, and close up shots being used with transitions such as the wipe, the iris, fade to black to indicate scene changes. There is still rear projection, tracking shots, dolly shots, and elaborate sets (particularly for war and epic films), but overall, the feel of 1930's film is like watching a play. With the invention of sound, movies rely on written dialogue to move the plot and develop character (as opposed to using solely a visual medium). Famous directors and writers such as Frank Capra, Walt Disney and writer George S. Kaufman to name only a few make their appearance in this era. Since sound is a new invention, the use of music is an important element. See what other details you can observe as you watch the clips:

Hell's Angels (1930) Premiere clip (not the film, but the hubbub about the film)
Hell's Angels (1930) clip with Jean Harlow

Anna Christie (1930) With Greta Garbo
Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932) Johnny Weissmuller

Morocco (1930) with Marlene Dietrich

Grand Hotel (1932) with Joan Crawford & John Barrymore

King Kong (1933) starring a large gorilla, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray
King Kong (2nd clip)

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Clark Gable & Charles Laughton

Captain Blood (1935) with Errol Flynn & Basil Rathbone (documentary clip)

HOMEWORK: Shoot your film. Bring in your film for editing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Metropolis & Film Project

Metropolis assistance (when writing your paper)
--Metropolis (history & analysis)

Missed any of the film? Or need to study a certain scene? Look here! (Metropolis - Complete Film)

After watching Metropolis, please upload or begin working on your intertitles for your film project.

Before you leave today, make sure you have met with your group members and deciding on a filming schedule. Your film should be shot (completely) by Monday, April 4. Upload film files as soon as you can so that your chosen editor can begin working.

Extra Credit (until 5/06/2011): You may watch and analyze Fritz Lang's movie "M". Here's the film. Your paper should be 3-5 pages double-spaced and include appropriate film criticism (see how to do this from the links to your right).

HOMEWORK: Please read the chapter "The Movies Learn to Speak" and take notes about the beginning of sound in film.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Playwrights' festival, Hanah Tinti, Workshops, Film Project

The Playwrights' Festival is opening and closing on March 31 at 7:00 in the Ensemble Theater. All playwrights should be in attendance (that was the whole point of the project). All other students in this class are admitted free. Please come and support your colleagues.

Tomorrow you have a Masterclass Workshop with Hanah Tinti. Please think of some questions you may have about her book or being a professional author and magazine editor.

We could use your help tomorrow night (7:00 for the Panel Discussion. Students who have an interest in gaining community service can help out by babysitting and setting up.) In that case, plan on being here around 6:45.

Film your silent films. Most of this material is on your shoulders and the shoulders of your group. The deadline for the project is April 4. Not a lot of time. Go out and film!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Prep for your Silent Film Projects/Homework

Please turn in your homework assignment and upload any film shots or sequences you have completed on your silent film projects. We will take a few minutes during 1st period to complete these tasks.

Silent film projects are due April 4. Please shoot the films and begin work on them so that you can complete the projects by the deadline.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fritz Lang & Metropolis

Fritz Lang born in Vienna, Germany, 1890 -- the son of an architect, he dropped out of college to fight in the Great War (WWI)

After the war, Lang met 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 - Lang 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 - Lang directs 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. He 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

Film analysis:
1. Write about the effective use of special effects (including titles and music to affect tone); You may look here for further help in writing your paper.
2. Write about the effectiveness of the cinematography (the shots, angles, lighting, composition of the shots, mise-en-shot, mise-en-scene, etc.)
3. Pick a major character in the movie and analyze his/her acting, effective portrayal of the role, etc.
4. Write about the effectiveness of the plot, film script, and story elements of the film: Frequency, Narration, Story, Plot, Order, Narrative Format, Sequence, etc.
5. Write about the film as a historical vehicle. Answer: how is Metropolis the epitome and culmination of the Golden Age of silent film?
6. Write about the effective use of theme in the film. Why is the film still relevant today?

Your paper should be between 3-5 pages, double spaced.

Sergei Eisenstein

As film continued to gain popularity, the film culture around the world inspired various directors and auteurs to create new and exciting films. The most influential film maker of early Russian film was Sergei Eisenstein.

Montage song from South Park, Season 6.

Eisenstein is remembered in film for his contribution of the montage. The montage changed the way filmmakers approached film. It allows a filmmaker to tell a story through a sequence of shots that manipulate time. It is still used today and carries with it a psychological impact. In a script it is indicated by a series of descriptive lines, each spaced apart to indicate a series of shots, rather than description that would indicate one shot or scene.

Here's a few clips from some of his films:

Battleship Potemkin (1925)


Alexander Nevsky (battle on the ice sequence) - Music by Sergei Prokofiev

Ivan the Terrible

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Film Test, The Golden Age of Film Research Sheet, Silent Film Project

After our test today, please use the time in the lab to complete the following:

1. Please research The Golden Age of Film and answer the questions. This sheet is due next class (Monday, March 21). You can find the article and link here. Please read the entire article, as there is a lot of lovely information here about this time period. You will understand and appreciate more if you don't skim for answers.

2. When all tests are in, you are free to work on your silent film projects (if applicable). You should at least choose today which film treatment you are going to use and who you are working with to form a "monopoly".

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prep for Final Marking Period & Treatments Due

Today please use the time given to you in the lab to complete the following:

--Study for the exam on Thursday (there is a lot of material there...please look at it.)
--Read the Hays Code chapter handout
--Complete and turn in your treatment

--Get into groups of 1 (working solo) up to 5. (No group will be given credit for more than 5 people in it) and read each others treatments. Choose the best one from your group to make into a silent film. Each member of a group is responsible for shooting, editing, and creating the intertitles for a silent film. Your silent film should be no longer than 5 minutes in length. It should include intertitles as appropriate, opening credits, and closing credits. You may use music to underscore your film.

Generally jobs that you will need to fill:
1. Director (this person makes sure the film comes together)
2. Cinematographer/Director of Photography (the person shooting the film; decides how to shoot the film photographically)
3. Grip(s) (people to move objects around/carry the camera, props, etc.
4. Gaffer (deals with lighting)
5. Casting director (gets actors for the film or assigns parts)
6. Script Writer (handles the treatment and intertitles)
7. Editor (edits the film)
8. Actors (people to play various parts)
9. Your credits should give credit to any music you use

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oscar Michaeux, Alice Guy Blache, & Famous Silent Film Actors

The first African American film director:

Oscar Michaeux: Within Our Gates (1919) (music underscore added recently) and his film.

And the first female director:
Alice Guy Blache
The Pit and the Pendulum (1913)
Various films by the early filmmaker Alice Guy.

A little gender bending: Vitagraph's A Florida Enchantment

Comedy master Mack Sennet: Keystone Kops with Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle

Various famous Hollywood actors:
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in the Thief of Baghdad (1924), The Mark of Zorro (1920);
Rudolph Valentino's The Son of the Shiek (1926) & the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), Blood and Sand (1924)
Mary Pickford (1917) The Poor Little Rich Girl
America's Lovebirds or America's Sweethearts:Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell
Clara Bow in It (1927)
Conrad Viedt
The Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney, The Phantom of the Opera (complete silent film, 1924), The Unmasking Scene from Phantom, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

Unit Test: Film Origin to 1920

Styles of film: realism, classicism, formalism
Film Treatment (how to write one) & film pitch
Early film invention: Magic Lantern Daguerreotype Celluloid Kinetoscope Mutoscope
Edweard Muybridge, photography, & the Zoopraxinoscope
The Lumiere Brothers & their films (The Sprinkler Sprinkled, Arrival of a Train, etc.)
Pathe Frere Manufacturing Company (Charles Pathe)
Pathe Films: Aladin and the Wonderful Lamp; Onesime the Clock Maker; Slippery Jim; The Policeman's Little Run
Thomas Edison and the Edison Manufacturing Company: various films (Sandow the Strongman, Serpentine Dances, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz (1910), Uncle Josh films, Life of an American Fireman, etc.
The Black Maria
Hepworth Manufacturing Company (Cecil B. Hepworth)
Hepworth's films:Rescued by Rover ; How It Feels to be Run Over;
Explosion of a Motor Car; That Fatal Sneeze; Alice in Wonderland
George Melies & A Trip to the Moon
Persistence of Vision
Etinnene-Jules Marey
George Eastman
Edwin S. Porter & his films: The Great Train Robbery ; Dream of a Rarebit Fiend
Actualities & Blue Movies
D.W. Griffith and his contribution to film (also his Intolerance, Way Down East, and Birth of a Nation)
Billy Bitzer
Lillian Gish
Early film comedy and comedians (particularly The Keystone Kops, Mack Sennet, etc.)
Charlie Chaplin (various films)
Buster Keaton (One Week, The General, various films)
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle & his scandal (Hays Code chapter)
Hollywood (the origin and development of)
Eisenstein & Montage & Battleship Potemkin (Odessa Step sequence)
Types of Shots (close up, medium shot, full shot, deep focus shot, long shot, extreme close up and long shots, panning, dolly/tracking shot, etc.)
Types of Angles (high, low, bird's eye, oblique, etc.)
Early independent film studios/the Hollywood Studio System
Early major film studios (1920-1930)
Sid Grauman
The Hays Code
German Expressionism
F. W. Murnau & Nosferatu
Robert Weine & The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Birt Acres
R.W. Paul
Alice Guy-Blache
Mack Sennett
Oscar Micheaux
Other important film stars: Douglas Fairbanks sr., Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Janet Gaynor, Clara Bow, W.C. Fields, Greta Garbo, Conrad Viedt, etc.
Auteur, Story, Plot, Order, Narration, Narrative Form
Scene, Sequence, Frequency, Ellipsis
Space, Viewing Time, Duration
Film Reviews and how to write them

Friday, March 11, 2011

Treatment Due & German Expressionism


“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. Why is expressionism a good stylistic choice for horror films?

Murnau: Nosferatu (1922) Full film
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (full film)
Der Golem (full film)
The Cat and the Canary (full film - silent)

Contemporary films like this one also pay homage to the style: Careful by Guy Maddin (1992)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buster Keaton: The Great Stone Face

It is important to realize that actors back in the early days of film really did their own stunts. Comedy and slapstick particularly were rather dangerous. Here's a homage to Buster Keaton, one of the greatest early film comedians: A Montage of Buster Keaton

Joseph Frank Keaton was given his professional name by Harry Houdini. "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966), was an American comic actor and filmmaker. He got his start as part of a vaudeville act and later co-starred with plump actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in "The Butcher Boy". Here's a clip of one of their films. He is best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was farce or physical comedy with a stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Keaton as one of the greatest male actors of all time. His film The General is listed as one of the greatest 100 films. (You can watch The General in its entirety below).

For those of you most interested in Keaton's life and work, here's an excellent website.

Take a look at some of his work:

One Week (1920)

The Paleface (1921)

The Haunted House (1921)

The Scarecrow (1920)

The General (1927) Full Length Feature Film
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) Full Length Feature Film

Monday, March 7, 2011

Film Treatment for a Silent Film Project

What is a Film Treatment?
A pitch is used to convince a film company to produce your film. The pitch is usually a one page summary of the main action, characters, and setting of the film. Essentially it deals with the idea.

The film treatment is usually a 2-5 page document that tells the whole story focusing on the highlights. It is more detailed than a pitch. It can include a scene by scene breakdown of a script. It is used BEFORE writing the real script so the author can plan his/her project.

How To Write a Treatment
The treatment should read like a short story and be written in the present tense. It should present the entire story including the ending, and use some key scenes and dialogue from the screenplay it is based on.

What Should Be in the Treatment?

1. A Working title
2. The writer's name
3. Introduction to key characters
4. Who, what, when, why and where. All the essentials of storytelling.
5. Act 1 in one to three paragraphs. Set the scene, dramatize the main conflicts.
6. Act 2 in two to six paragraphs. Should dramatize how the conflicts introduced in Act 1 lead to a crisis.
7. Act 3 in one to three paragraphs. Dramatize the final conflict and resolution.
The Three Act Structure
Basic screenplay structure for a full length film usually has three acts.

In The Poetics, Aristotle suggested that all stories should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Well, duh. You know that. But really. You need to remember this advice.

Breaking the plot of a story into three parts, gives us a 3-part or act structure. The word "act" means "the action of carrying something out. For our purposes think act one (beginning), act two (middle), and act three (end) of your short film.

Act 1, called the Set-up, The situation and characters and conflict are introduced. This classically is 30 minutes long. For a short film it can be only a few minutes or less than 1 minute.

Act 2, called The Conflict, often an hour long, is where the conflict begins and expands until it reaches a crisis. For our purposes a minute or two will suffice.

Act 3, called The Resolution, the conflict rises to one more crisis (the last one called the climax) and then is resolved.

How To Write The Treatment
Find A Title
The first contact a prospective producer has with a script is the title. Pick a title that gives a clear idea of what genre the screenplay is written in. Blood House is probably not a romantic comedy. Americans like one or two word titles: Psycho, Saw, Year One, Rocky, Pan's Labyrinth, Animal House, Tangled, Avatar, etc.
After a title, start a logline: a brief one sentence summary of the movie. For example: And Then Came Love is a character-driven romantic comedy about a high-powered Manhattan single mom who opens Pandora's box when she seeks out the anonymous sperm donor father of her young son.

Your treatment should include a synopsis.
Begin by expanding the logline into a three-act story Start with the end. For example, The Silence Of The Lambs:

Act 3: Clarice Starling catches the killer and saves the intended victim.

Then break down this synopsis into three acts. For example,

Act 1: While still a student at The FBI, Clarice is asked to help on a case. She's eager to help and interviews Hannibal Lector who gives her a clue.

Act 2: With his help, she is able to overcome many obstacles, and finds the identity of the killer.

Act 3: She confronts the killer, saves his intended victim and atones for the death of the lamb. The scriptwriter should follow this break down for his or her story, and then expand this into a synopsis that is about 2-5 pages in length.

Get into groups of 1-2. You may, if you wish, work alone, but feel free to choose a person you can work with.

Work together or alone to create a treatment for a silent film.

Treatment sample #1
Treatment sample #2

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Charlie Chaplin - The Lovable Tramp

"All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl." -Sir Charles Chaplin

Sir Charles Chaplin (1889-1977)
• Born in London, UK to theatrical parents
• Chaplin’s childhood was one of extreme poverty and hardship
• Abandoned by an alcoholic father and left with a mentally unstable mother who was unable to support him, he struggled through life in the poor house and on the streets
• He learnt much of his timing and technique in the employment of impresario Fred Karno (1866-1941) whose troupe he left during an American tour in 1913
• Offered a contract by Keystone Films
• After 1914, he convinced Keystone producer Mack Sennett to allow him to direct his own films - often wrote, directed, acted and composed his own musical scores for his films
• In many silent shorts, he established the grammar and ground rules of screen comedy using his physical dexterity and pantomime skills to create expertly choreographed, visually humorous entertainment that mixed irreverence, romance, and pathos (feeling)
• Co-founder of United Artists in 1919
• Married Oona O’Neill (daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill)
• His left-wing sympathies caused him to emigrate to Switzerland during the 1950’s, McCarthy period
• He published his autobiography in 1964 and was knighted in 1975
• Chaplin died on Christmas day, 1977
• A writer Performer, director, composer and icon, he was a vital figure in the development of the screen comedy Films (incomplete list): Making a Living (1913) Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) The Champion (1915) The Tramp (1915) The Pawnshop (1916) The Rink (1916) A Dog’s Life (1918) The Kid (1921) The Gold Rush (1925) City Lights (1931) Modern Times (1936) The Great Dictator (1940) Limelight (1952) A King in New York (1957) A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)
Take a look at some of Chaplin's Films:

Table ballet sequence from "The Gold Rush"

The Tramp (1915)
The Kid (1921) trailer
The Lion's Cage clip from the Circus (1928)
The Gold Rush (1925) sound and words added later
City Lights (1931)
Modern Times (1936)
The Great Dictator (1940)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

D. W. Griffith

D.W. Griffith was called the "Father of film technique" & "the man who invented Hollywood"

Birth of a Nation trailer.

With cinematographer G.W. Bitzer, he created and perfected the film devices:
the iris shot
the flashback
He directed the very controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915) Based on Thomas Dixon's stage play "The Clansman" Over 3 hours long, the racist epic included a cast of hundreds. The film contained many new film innovations:
Special use of subtitles
Its own musical score with orchestra
Introduction of night photography
Used a "still shot"
Used an "Iris shot"
Used parallel action
Used panning and tracking shots
Used close-ups to reveal intimate expressions of actors
Used fade outs and cameo-profiles
Used high-angles and panoramic (extreme) long shots
Used cross cutting between two scenes to create excitement and suspense

Here's a clip from Birth of a Nation.

A year later his masterpiece Intolerance (1916) was made as a reaction to the censorship of Birth of a Nation

Part one: Intolerance.

In 1919 he established the film company United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and William S. Hart

Overall, Griffith directed over 500 films. He retired in 1931 and died in Los Angeles in 1948. In 1975 his picture was on a post stamp. But by 1999, The Director's Guild of America's National Board renamed the prestigious D.W. Griffith Award (first given in 1953 to such directors as Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, and Cecil B. DeMille) because of Griffith's racism.

"We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare."
D.W. Griffith (1915)

"If in this work we have conveyed to the mind the ravages of war to the end that war may be held in abhorrence, this effort will not have been in vain." - D. W. Griffith (1915)

Please take a look at these clips and films starring Lilian Gish.

Way Down East (1920) Probably the most amazing stunt ever pulled in cinema history. Please realize that these actors really were doing their own stunts. That water is cold and yes, those are ice floes.

Orphans of the Storm (1921) (with sister Dorothy Gish)
Judith of Bethulia (1913) (entire film)

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...