Friday, May 27, 2011

Film Exam: Review

Test: Wednesday, June 1
Film treatments, film pitches, film script format
Blaxploitation films & culture
Cleopatra Jones
Spike Lee
Home Video Invasion handout (key concepts)
Blockbusters: Jaws, Star Wars, etc. (handout, key concepts)
New Wave Directors: Stanley Kubrick
Mike Nichols
George Lucas
Steven Spielberg
Sidney Poitier
Alfred Hitchcock
Samuel Z. Arkoff
Gordon Parks
Ed Wood
William Castle
Roger Corman
Jayne Mansfield
Marilyn Monroe
Jimmy Stewart
The Multiplex
3d Films
Invention of Television & its impact on film
Drive-in Movies
History of 1950's film (see notes from your ? sheet/homework)
History of 1960's film
History of 1970's film

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Legacy of Blaxploitation

Directors like Spike Lee are encouraged to make films for a black audience. Many other actors, directors, and writers begin expanding the ground opened by blaxploitation. Here's a list of various contemporary black directors.

Here's a few clips. Spike Lee interview about Black Films.

She's Gotta Have It (1985) interview with Spike Lee
School Daze (1988)
Malcolm X (1992)

Other critically acclaimed films:
The Wiz
The Color Purple

Romantic films
100 Gangster, Pimp, Hood, Crime films (clip)

The 100 Best Black Movies

Cleopatra Jones & Film Project

During 1st period, we will continue our screening of Cleopatra Jones. Afterward, please continue to work on your film projects. Again, these projects are due June 7.

NOTE: There will be a unit test on the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's Tuesday, May 31. Begin gathering your notes.

HOMEWORK: Work on your film projects. Read article on Home Video & Blockbusters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Script & Film Project

Last class you were asked (for 80 minutes) to complete your treatment. If you didn't complete the assignment in class, you had homework to complete it.

Today (1st period), please take your treatment and begin writing your script. If you are in a group, choose one or two people to complete the script while the others work on any of the following:
--Scheduling this week's shooting times and dates
--Shooting or uploading film during 1st period
--Working on the credits and main titles for the film (on iMovie)
--Editing the film footage (if you have started shooting)

For help with the script, see the previous post.

By the way, the pitch, the treatment, the script, and the film are all components of this project. All are due at the completion of the project.

2nd period: Viewing Cleopatra Jones.

HOMEWORK: Complete script, shoot your film, etc. Please turn in a copy of the treatment and script when completed. Film project due June 7.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Film Treatment/Script Project

Please fill out the handout to keep track of important dates, times, actors needed, and other notes you will need for your film projects.

Today, please work on completing your treatment. What's a treatment? Look below for help.

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.
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 1 minute.

Act 2, called The Conflict, often an hour long, is where the conflict begins and expands until it reaches a crisis.

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.
Treatment sample #1
Treatment sample #2

Done with your treatment? Carry on to begin your film script. What's a film script and how do I format it? Look here for help.

Film scripts are a strange format. Please refer to the script format here.

Here are some sample scripts. Choose a few and read a little of each script. Pay close attention to where the dialogue goes on the page, how the shots are indicated, and other curious formatting.

After you are familiar how to format a script, please take your treatment that you selected and begin writing a script.

If one of your teammates is sitting around idle (not doing anything), have him/her work on titles or end credits. No time like the present.

HOMEWORK: Work on your film projects. If you don't have an idea yet, consider the handout I gave you. Complete your treatment (if you haven't done so in class) for next class. This weekend, feel free to begin shooting your film if you can.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Film Treatment/Script

If you have finished your homework reading and filling out the information about the 1950's and 1960's in film (see below), please go on to begin a film treatment for your film project.

Meet with your film project group and decide on roles and jobs to complete this project by June 3.

You will need a treatment and a script for your treatment as part of your project. Your treatment should be 2-4 pages at most and effectively be the summary of the story with key lines of dialogue and description of the story/plot/characters/events in the film.

Once you have a treatment, please write a film script that should be between 3-12 pages in length. Your film should be limited to 10 minutes or less.

HOMEWORK: Complete your treatment.
1960's/1950's questions are past due! Please turn these handouts in.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blaxploitation Films

Blaxploitation films were made specifically for an urban, black audience. The word itself is a portmanteau (combination) of the words "black" and "exploitation."

As a sub-genre of film Blaxploitation typically takes place in ghettos or urban settings, featuring crime plots, drug dealers or drug culture, pimps and prostitutes and hit men or gangs and gang violence. White characters are as much ethnic stereotypes as black characters, but are often the antagonists. Corrupt cops, politicians, prostitutes and gullible gangsters are common stereotypical characters. As the genre blossomed in the 1970's, it often mixed with other genres including crime dramas, action/martial arts films, westerns, and horror.

The films featured funk and soul jazz soundtracks with heavy bass, funky beats and guitars. In recent years to attract black audiences, parodies and pastiches of the blaxploitation film have resurfaced.

One might consider to what extent do films such as these perpetrate (continue) racial stereotypes? For what purpose do these films serve the black community? What does the resurgence of such a film style in our contemporary time mean? How are these images and heroes necessary and/or offensive?

Please read the following article, then take a look at some of these trailers (examples of the genre).

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs (1970)
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
Shaft (1971)
Superfly (1972)
The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972)
Blacula (1972)
Coffy (1973)
Cleopatra Jones (1973)
Foxy Brown (1974)
Willie Dynamite (1974)
Abby (1974)
Friday Foster (1975)
Boss Nigger (1975)
Coonskin (1975)

And for the fun of it, spoofs or parodies of blaxploitation:
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Pootie Tang (2001)
Black Dynamite (2009)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

1950's & 1960's film history

Please link to the following to complete the questions on your handout. Please read the article and answer the questions posed. This assignment is due at the end of class today.

1950's (from Monday, but the link was faulty)

1960's (from today's worksheet)

HOMEWORK: Please complete and prepare your film pitch for next class (really this time). Stuck without an idea? Try this article.

Friday, May 6, 2011

For Monday, May 9

Please complete the following:

1. Turn in your homework concerning the MPAA & the American New Wave. Due Monday at end of class.
2. Link to the film site here. LINK HERE and answer the questions on the handout. Due at end of class.
3. Complete and prepare your film pitches for Wednesday. Due Wednesday.
4. If you finish early, please watch the films for Ed Wood, William Castle, and so on below (see posts below). Take notes about the film clips you are seeing.

HOMEWORK: Complete your film pitch.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

William Castle

The Wonderful World of William Castle

Competing with a growing television audience, filmmakers in the 1950's had to entice viewers into seeing their films. The worse the film, the greater the need for effective trailers. Of the best promoters of his directing and producing work, William Castle shines over all others. See why below!

William Schloss was born in New York City. Schloss means "castle" in German, and William Castle probably chose to translate his surname into English to avoid the discrimination often encountered by Jewish entertainers of his time. He spent most of his teenage years working on Broadway in a number of jobs. He left for Hollywood at the age of 23, going on to direct his first film when he was 29. He also worked an as assistant to Orson Welles, doing much of the location work for Welles' noir film, The Lady from Shanghai.

Castle was famous for directing low budget B-films with many overly promoted gimmicks. Five of these were scripted by adventure novelist Robb White.

After a long career, William Castle died of a heart attack in Los Angeles in 1977.

His films include:

Macabre (1958): A certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd's of London was given to each customer in case he/she should die of fright during the film. Showings also had fake nurses stationed in the lobbies and hearses parked outside the theater.

Utube clip: Macabre:

House on Haunted Hill (1959): Filmed in "Emergo". An inflatable glow in the dark skeleton attached to a wire floated over the audience during the final moments of some showings of the film to parallel the action on the screen when a skeleton arose from a vat of acid and pursued the villainous wife of Vincent Price. The gimmick did not always instill fright; sometimes the skeleton became a target for some audience members who hurled candy boxes, soda cups or any other objects at hand at the skeleton.

The Tingler (1959): Filmed in "Percepto". Some seats in theatres showing the Tingler were equipped with larger versions of the hand-held joy buzzers attached to the underside of the seats. When the Tingler in the film attacked the audience the buzzers were activated as a voice encouraged the real audience to "Scream - scream for your lives."

13 Ghosts (1960): Filmed in "Illusion-O". A hand held ghost viewer/remover with strips of red and blue cellophane was given out to use during certain segments of the film. By looking through either the red or blue cellophane the audience was able to either see or remove the ghosts if they were too frightening. 13 Ghosts.

Homicidal (1961): This film contained a "Fright break" with a 45 second timer overlaid over the film's climax as the heroine approached a house harboring a sadistic killer. A voiceover advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave the theatre and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the remainder of the film. About 1% demanded refunds, but were subjected to demasculation and called "cowards". Homicidal clip.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961): The audiences were allowed to vote in a "punishment poll" during the climax of the film - Castle appears on screen to explain to the audience their options. Each member of the audience was given a card with a glow in the dark thumb they could hold either up or down to decide if Mr. Sardonicus would be cured or die during the end of the film. Supposedly, no audience ever offered mercy so the alternate ending was never screened.

(1962): Each patron was given a "Magic" (gold colored plastic) coin which looked nice, but did absolutely nothing.

Strait-Jacket (1964): Castle had cardboard axes made and handed out to patrons. This film, by the way, starred Oscar winner (not for this film) Joan Crawford - Mommy Dearest herself.

I Saw What You Did (1965): Seat belts were installed to keep patrons from being jolted from their chairs in fright.

Other film trailers from William Castle:

The Old Dark House (designed by Charles Addams: the illustrator/writer who created "The Addams Family")
The Night Walker
Let's Kill Uncle
Thirteen Frightened Girls

William Castle acted as producer to Roman Polanski's direction of:
Rosemary's Baby
The film remains one of the most artistic Castle productions ever made. Clip here.

Ed Wood & Roger Corman: B-Movie Masters

From IMDB:

Ed Wood (Jr.) (10 October 1924 – 10 December 1978) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, actor, author, and editor, who often performed many of these functions simultaneously. In the 1950s, Wood made a run of cheap and poorly produced genre films, now humorously celebrated for their technical errors, unsophisticated special effects, large amounts of ill-fitting stock footage, idiosyncratic dialogue, eccentric casts and outlandish plot elements, although his flair for showmanship gave his projects at least a modicum of critical success.

Wood's popularity waned soon after his biggest 'name' star, Béla Lugosi, died. He was able to salvage a saleable feature from Lugosi's last moments on film, but his career declined thereafter. Toward the end of his life, Wood made pornographic movies and wrote pulp crime, horror, and sex novels. His posthumous fame began two years after his death, when he was awarded a Golden Turkey Award as Worst Director of All Time. The lack of conventional film making ability in his work has earned Wood and his films a considerable cult following.

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Jail Bait (1954)

Bride of the Monster(1955)

Plan Nine from Outer Space (1956) Written and shot in 5 days! (and it shows!)

Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926), sometimes nicknamed "King of the Bs" for his output of B-movies, is a prolific American producer and director of low-budget movies, some of which have an established critical reputation: many of his films derived from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

Corman has apprenticed many now-famous directors, stressing the importance of budgeting and resourcefulness; Corman once joked he could make a film about the fall of the Roman Empire with two extras and a sagebush.

It Conquered the World (1956)

The Little Shop of Horrors

The Raven(1963)

The Terror (1963)

The Masque of Red Death (1963)

Film Pitch, Film Notes

Today, we will work on delivering a film pitch to the class (due during 2nd period). Please fill out your film pitch worksheet and be prepared to enter the "producer's" boardroom to defend your idea. A bit of role playing.

Also, we will continue our viewing of 1950's film clips. Please take notes regarding these.

HOMEWORK: Please read the article about the MPAA and American New Wave. Complete the handout for homework to turn in Monday, May 9.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Emergence of Television, Film Pitch, Student Films

Today we will read the article: The Emergence of Television & AIP in class. As you read, please note 3 observations, 2 implications, and 1 question to discuss with the class.

After that, we will continue discussing and viewing 1950's film clips and take notes.

After that, we will begin our film pitch. See handout for more information.

HOMEWORK: Any work not completed should be completed for next class. Any film projects MUST be turned in by Thursday or you will likely fail the marking period.

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...