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PRACTICAL SCREENWRITING, DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, POST, AND DISTRIBUTION TIPS YOU CAN REALLY USE

THE ART &


BUSINESS
OF MAKING
MOVIES

2020 COMPLETE GUIDE TO

MAKING
MOVIES
TAKE YOUR VISION INTO
YOUR OWN HANDS

With:
• EDWARD NORTON
• QUENTIN TARANTINO
• ROB ZOMBIE Special
Edition OUR FIFTH ANNUAL SPECIAL EDITION

Inside!
GUEST EDITOR
ROBERT EGGERS THE 2020 GUIDE TO

ISSUE 133, VOL. 26, FALL 2019 


MAKING

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MOVIES
93 GENRE FESTS
OF 2020 WITH GUEST EDITOR ROBERT EGGERS
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ISSUE NO. 133, VOLUME 26
FALL 2019
MM NOTEBOOK PHONE: 310/828-8388
EMAIL: STAFF@MOVIEMAKER.COM

MOVIES ARE STILL WHO WE ARE


WEB: WWW.MOVIEMAKER.COM

PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


TIMOTHY RHYS

But it’s time for new blood at the helm of MovieMaker ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER
PAUL TUKEY
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
BY TIM RHYS revolution in movies which will inevitably restructure MAX WEINSTEIN
human consciousness and understanding. The independent MANAGING EDITOR

O
N A CHILLY October night exactly 26 years filmmaker, whether working in Super 8 or 70mm Panavision, CALEB HAMMOND
ago I was burning the midnight oil in my will be the nexus of the change to come.’ WEB EDITOR
tiny Seattle office, putting the finishing How can we communicate too much about something so MARK SELLS
editorial touches on the first edition of significant? Motion pictures are just beginning to be recognized EDITOR AT LARGE, EAST COAST
MovieMaker. Tonight, 133 issues, 16 offices, and a dizzying as a serious art form, and more than any other they define PETER WEED
number of ups, downs and rollicking adventures later, I’m our culture. Movies are who we are, and what we dream of EDITOR AT LARGE, WEST COAST
doing the same thing one last time as I work on issue #133 becoming. In short, they are important. As for the quality GREG HAMILTON
ART DIRECTOR
from my home here in Portland. question, I wanted to examine what we talk about when
KAY LAI SCANLON
For a while now I’ve been thinking that MovieMaker we talk about film… Our goal with MovieMaker is to help
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
could benefit from some new talent at the top, as well as a bridge the gap between the fanzines, the theoretical journals,
CARLOS AGUILAR, JEREMY ARNOLD,
fresh perspective and a different skill set. Toward that end and the auteur cinema rags. Moviemaking is an increasingly
RYAN COLEMAN, AMIR GANJAVIE,
I recently chose to pass the baton to a young, independent- accessible art form, and there are more people shooting films DANIEL JOYAUX, RITESH MEHTA,
minded couple who I believe are the best folks imagin- than ever before. Yet very little coverage is given to the excellent PAULA SCHWARTZ,
able to steward this publication into the future. Although work being done by independents all over the country. Because RYAN STEWART, ANDY YOUNG
they’ve requested that I let them introduce themselves of the nature of the medium, interesting and sometimes great INTERNS
to you in coming weeks, I can tell you that I believe their movies far too often spend eternity gathering dust on forgotten SOPHIE JONSSON,
combined editorial/publishing strengths and the shelves. We’d like MovieMaker to be accessible, fun, SARA ROMANO, IZZY STROOBANDT
breadth of their industry experience is ideal for and sometimes even thought-provoking. Although MOVIEMAKER PRODUCTION
taking the MovieMaker brand to places I’ve only these are humble beginnings, we believe, as with SERVICES DIRECTOR
dreamt about. independent movies themselves, small budgets and TIMOTHY RHYS
If I’m being totally honest, though, my favorite large commitments can sometimes yield excellent MOVIEMAKER PRODUCTION SERVICES
idea of theirs might be what they call their results. We welcome your comments and sugges- COORDINATOR
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it plan. In other words, tions. MovieMaker is meant equally for those who CALEB HAMMOND
they’ve pledged to not fundamentally change any- create movies and for those who simply enjoy FESTIVAL & PARTNERSHIP LIAISON
thing editorially. They’re committed to keeping everything them. Lastly, I’d like to dedicate this venture to the memory N.L. BROOKS
you love about MovieMaker in place (and yes, that includes of my best friend and little brother, Matthew Oliver Rice SPECIAL EVENT COORDINATOR
this beloved print edition), while greatly expanding our (Oct. 27, 1968-Oct. 16, 1993). Matt was himself an artist, and MAX WEINSTEIN
online and social media presence. You should keep an eye he and I spent many an evening hoping and dreaming and TO SUBSCRIBE TO MOVIEMAKER:
on @MovieMakerMag on Twitter and Instagram so you talking about films. The world is poorer for his passing.” CALL 888/881-5861 OR VISIT
don’t miss anything, because this new regime is energetic I think we’ve largely met those goals and kept those WWW.MOVIEMAKER.COM/
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and prolific and they’ve already published some fascinating promises, and it’s been my distinct honor to have done that.
and very entertaining pieces there. MovieMaker has allowed me to travel the world, meet incred- TO ADVERTISE IN MOVIEMAKER:
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and for better or worse, it’s my professional legacy, so of late the years, and all my colleagues, especially my first art director, MOVIEMAKER IS DISTRIBUTED BY:
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MOVIEMAKER® MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED
said that the only reason any story has a happy ending is so many other role players who are always there for us and FOUR TIMES PER YEAR BY
that they stop telling it before the end. Black humor aside, I are instrumental in making this company successful. Thanks MOVIEMAKER MEDIA, LLC
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hope MovieMaker’s ultimate swan song will be well beyond also to my wife Jessica for her dedication to MovieMaker (and LOS ANGELES, CA 90066
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EMAIL: STAFF@MOVIEMAKER.COM.
one. Staying independent hasn’t always been easy, but it’s the Nicholas, Jonathan, Torin, and Roan, for whom MovieMaker ISSUE NO. 133, VOL. 26, “FALL 2019.”
way this odyssey of mine started and the way it ends, and for has always been a double-edged sword. And thanks to all the SINGLE COPIES: $8.95. SUBSCRIPTIONS TO
that I’m grateful and humbled. Whatever else you can say advertisers and subscribers who have believed in MovieMaker MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE: IN U.S./CANADA,
FOUR ISSUES FOR $19.95; EIGHT ISSUES
about MovieMaker, it’s what I wanted it to be, and the fact all these years and who have put their money where their be- FOR $24.95, 12 ISSUES FOR $34.95. (INT’L,
that it’s still here and still vital to the moviemaking commu- liefs are. Needless to say, we wouldn’t still be here without you. DIGITAL ONLY) ANNUAL DIGITAL SUBSCRIP-
TIONS, REGARDLESS OF GEOGRAPHY, ARE
nity is a testament to the appeal of the core idea, which we’ve As for what I’ll be doing going forward, for the first time in AVAILABLE VIA POCKETMAGS, ITUNES AND
never veered from. I elaborated on that concept in my first decades I’ll actually have some time to explore a next chapter. GOOGLE PLAY FOR $9.99
THE NAME “MOVIEMAKER” IS A REGISTERED
publisher’s letter back in October, 1993: Want to collaborate? Give me a shout. I’ll be doing a lot more TRADEMARK OF MOVIEMAKER MEDIA, LLC.
“When I decided to launch this venture I asked myself writing, I know that. I’ll also be continuing to help build the MOVIEMAKER WELCOMES UNSOLICITED
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COMPLETE EDITORIAL CONTROL OVER ALL
need to talk about films more and, if so, are the ways we cur- a producer who has a movie you’re going to make, reach out SUBMITTED MATERIAL, IS NOT RESPONSIBLE
rently discuss movies and their creators adequate? As with to me and we might be able to save you 50 percent of your FOR UNSOLICITED MATERIALS AND CANNOT
RETURN THEM UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY
most things in life, it boiled down to questions of quality and costs. I can still be reached at tim@moviemaker.com. SELF-ADDRESSED, STAMPED ENVELOPE.
quantity. A quote I read by the chairman of New York Film And so, as Rudy Ray Moore says, that’s a motherfucking ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MAY NOT BE
REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WHATSOEVER
Critics, Joseph Gelmis, helped answer the quantity question: wrap! Thanks again, everyone, from the bottom of my WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF
‘We are on the threshold of a great technical and aesthetic heart. And goodnight, Matt, wherever you are. MM PUBLISHER. COPYRIGHT © 2019

4 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


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CONTENTS

THE 2020
COMPLETE GUIDE
TO MAKING
MOVIES
GUEST MOVIEMAKER EDWARD NORTON SOUNDS OFF ON SCREENWRITING, DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, POST-PRODUCTION, AND
CHAPTER ONE: DISTRIBUTION ON PAGES 20, 30, 40, 52, AND 62
SCREENWRITING
20. Introduction
By Edward Norton

22. A Life in Your Hands


Two screenwriting partners
share what to embrace and
what to avoid when adapting
true events
By Micah Fitzerman-Blue
and Noah Harpster

24. Playing the Long Game


Advice on improving your
screenplay by using outside input
JODIE TURNER-SMITH (L) AND DANIEL KALUUYA (R) STAR
By Billy Chew IN QUEEN & SLIM . DIRECTOR MELINA MATSOUKAS AND JOAQUIN PHOENIX LOSES HIS MIND AS ARTHUR FLECK IN
SCREENWRITER LENA WAITHE DISCUSS THEIR WORKING JOKER . PRODUCTION DESIGNER MARK FRIEDBERG REVEALS
26. Just the Two of Us RELATIONSHIP ON PAGE 26 HOW HE BUILT ARTHUR’S WORLD ON PAGE 32
Why closer relationships

TOP: PHOTOGRAPH BY GLEN WILSON / BOTTOM LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY CAMPBELL ADDY /


between screenwriters and indie feature development 50. Hidden Depths 56. Tips From Team
directors make for better movies By Sergio Uguet de Resayre The stars of Terrence Malick’s Technicolor
By Lena Waithe A Hidden Life reveal what Expert opinions on managing
and Melina Matsoukas they learned on set with the your time, budget, and
CHAPTER THREE:
elusive auteur expectations in
PRODUCTION
By August Diehl post-production
CHAPTER TWO:
DEVELOPMENT 40. Introduction and Valerie Pachner By Travis Flynn, Paul Ghezzo,
By Edward Norton Vicki Lemar, and MM Editors
30. Introduction
CHAPTER FOUR:
BOTTOM RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY NIKO TAVERNISE

By Edward Norton 42. Driving It Home POST-PRODUCTION 58. All Systems Go


Ford v Ferrari DP Tricks and tech
32. Making a World recommendations for those
Phedon Papamichael puts 52. Introduction
of Difference By Edward Norton in post who want to wear
the human side of
Learn to map out your film’s more hats without wearing
cinematography into focus
universe from the production 54. Eyes in the Sky themselves out
By Phedon Papamichael
designer of Joker Ace advice on opening your By Derek Schweickart
By Mark Friedberg 46. Tales of the Tape mind to new possibilities
An indie moviemaker’s manual in post from the editor and 60. Getting the Most
36. How to Stop Worrying composer of Lucy in the Sky
to building an analog arsenal Out of Post
and Love the Process
A guide to the new rules of By Fidel Ruiz-Healy By Regis Kimble and Jeff Russo By Christian Hall

6 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


SAN ANTONIO

UP TO 30% CASH REBATE


COVERS 8 COUNTIES $100K MINIMUM SPEND
CONTENTS

CHAPTER FIVE:
DISTRIBUTION
AND EXHIBITION
62. Introduction
By Edward Norton

64. Confessions of an
Anonymous Screener
Anonymous professionals on
the inside of the film festival
programming process reveal
what they’re really thinking
as they screen submissions
By Caleb Hammond
COVER ILLUSTRATION
BY BRIAN FABRY DORSAM
68. Bare Bones Factory
The founder of Factory 25
explains how an approach
of extreme adaptability to the
ever-changing industry built
his career as a small distributor
By Matt Grady

COLUMNS & DEPTS.

4. MM Notebook
By Tim Rhys

10. Contributors

12. Letters
SHERI MOON ZOMBIE IS OFF THE CHAIN AS BABY FIREFLY IN 3 FROM HELL . HORROR COVER ILLUSTRATION
WRITER-DIRECTOR ROB ZOMBIE SHARES WHAT HE LOVES AND LOATHES ABOUT BY MATTHEW THERRIEN
14. Book Reviews HORROR MOVIEMAKING ON PAGE 74
By Devon Green
and Sophie Jonsson

16. Callboard THE 2020 GUIDE 78. Dread From


the Same Page
trade friendly fire on the pros
and cons of writing with or
By Harper Lambert
TO MAKING Translate the eerie atmosphere
you envision into a solid
without heavy research, etc.
By Robert Eggers
18. Flash Forward
By Daniel Joyaux HORROR MOVIES shooting script with tips
from the co-writer-directors
and Peter Strickland

of The Lodge 90. Plan B, D, I & Y


100. MovieMaker By Veronika Franz Indie horror icon
Production Services and Severin Fiala Larry Fessenden issues
Update 72. Introduction a reminder that a DIY ethos
By Robert Eggers 82. Lightmares yields the best results
102. Festival Beat The DPs behind Doctor Sleep, By Larry Fessenden
74. Hell on Reels
COURTESY OF LIONSGATE / SABAN FILMS

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,


108. Motion Picture 3 From Hell writer-director and more share their mad 94. 25 Bloody Best Genre
Production Guide Rob Zombie reflects on the joys methods in our horror Fests in the World, 2020
of on-set chemistry and the cinematography survey Our third annual list gives
111. Call for Entries / horrors of test screenings By Michael Gingold the gory details on 25 genre
Advertiser Index By Rob Zombie festivals on the global circuit
86. Moviemaker Melee: delivering programming and
112. Things I’ve Learned 77. Things I’ve Learned Horror Edition parties to die for
as a Moviemaker as a Moviemaker The writer-directors of By Michael Gingold
By Quentin Tarantino By Rob Zombie The Lighthouse and In Fabric and MM Editors

8 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


CONTRIBUTORS

BRIAN FABRY DORSAM is an illustrator,


writer, and recreational cat petter living
and working in Chicago. When they’re
not drawing, they’re penning pop media
analysis crossed with cultural criticism
and memoir, which they promise is not as
weird as it sounds. Brian’s work appears on
the cover of this issue, our 2020 Complete
Guide to Making Movies, and you can find
more on Instagram @brianfabrydorsam.

Guest Moviemaker EDWARD NORTON is one of the most celebrated actors of


his generation and has starred in, produced, written, or directed more than Originally from Madrid,
30 films. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his perfor- SERGIO UGUET DE RESAYRE is a Spanish-
mances. His most recent film, Motherless Brooklyn, which he wrote, directed, American moviemaker based in
produced and stars in, was released on November 1. Los Angeles. As of late, he’s worked as
a producer on Crumbs (Miguel Llansó,
2015), Tuftland (Roope Olenius, 2017),
Ham on Rye (Tyler Taormina, 2019), and
Jesus Shows You the Way To the Highway
(Miguel Llansó, 2019). Find his guide
to the new rules of indie film development
on page 36.

10 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


CONTRIBUTORS

Originally a student of fine art, ANGELA HUANG is a New York-based illustra- PHEDON PAPAMICHAEL, ASC/GSC is an Oscar-
MARK FRIEDBERG married his passions for tor born in Taiwan. She focuses on editorial nominated cinematographer who counts
film and painting as a production designer illustrations, children’s books, and self-pub- more than 40 features as a director of
during the indie film movement of the early lishing, and sometimes presents her works photography, including the upcoming 
’90s. His work on Alexandre Rockwell’s in various art book fairs. Her work has Ford v Ferrari, The Pursuit of Happyness,
In the Soup and Maggie Greenwald’s appeared in Brio, Tricycle, and teen maga- 3:10 to Yuma, Patch Adams, Walk the Line,
The Ballad of Little Jo earned particular zines in Taiwan. She was also recognized and Nebraska, which earned him Oscar,
attention, leading to collaborations with with a World Illustration Award in 2019. BAFTA and ASC nominations. He is also
such mavericks as Todd Haynes, Check out her illustrations in our anony- known for his work on music videos
Charlie Kaufman, and Barry Jenkins. mous screener survey on pages 64-67. and more than 100 commercials, includ-
Dive into his tour of Joker’s production ing George Clooney’s Nespresso commer-
design on page 32. cials. Find his lensing lessons on page 42.

MATTHEW THERRIEN is an award-winning A Film and English student at


Canadian illustrator and film artist from UC Santa Barbara, HARPER LAMBERT
Toronto. His work reflects a lifelong love spends more time inside watching movies
of movies—in particular, those in the hor- than she does at the beach. She has writ-
ror genre. Blending traditional and digital ten about Coogan Law and child social
mediums, he continually seeks to capture media stars for The Hollywood Reporter
the magic and nostalgia of 1980s cover art. and serves as Opinion Editor at UCSB’s
Check out his cover art for our 2020 Guide student newspaper, The Daily Nexus.
to Making Horror Movies on page 71, She used to be an aspiring child actress
and his illustrations in our coverage of and hopes it’s not too late for her. Read
the Bloody Best Genre Fests in the World her inside look at Slamdance’s inaugural
on pages 94-99. Miami edition on page 16.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 11


LETTERS

READERS ARE TALKING ABOUT…

25 COOLEST FILM FESTIVALS IN THE WORLD 2019 “SISYPHUS SMILES… AND WE SHOULD, TOO” BY TIMOTHY RHYS
THE ART &
BUSINESS
OF MAKING
MOVIES

THE
BEST FILM
SCHOOLS
IN THE U.S. AND

“This was one of the best metaphorical portraits of the life and realities
CANADA 2019

QUENTIN of the independent filmmaker I’ve ever read. It really hit home.
TARANTINO It encapsulated many of the same sentiments I expressed in my book
(Get Close: Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking), especially this:
ON LIFE, LOVE, AND DEATH IN
ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD
RICHARD LINKLATER BRAVES
GREENLAND HURRICANES FOR
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE ‘The finish line fallacy keeps us from embracing the joy of the process.’
1969:
THE YEAR THAT
CHANGED THE MOVIES
(Although you said it better.) Great column.”
How to:
• BREAK DOWN UNION
— Rustin Thompson,
ISSUE 132, VOL. 26, SUMMER 2019 
AGREEMENTS!
• MAKE A MEMOIR MOVIE!
• FIND THE BEST GEAR
via e-mail
Also: ON A BUDGET!
AWKWAFINA • RICHARD DREYFUSS • ARI ASTER • SANDI TAN
DISPLAY UNTIL OCTOBER 29, 2019

“HOLLY WOOD ENDING”


BY MA X WEINSTEIN “This really hit me hard. As a composer, most of my requests from
“One of the better pieces filmmakers are to score their projects pro bono. I’m so used to that
on Quentin Tarantino request that I don’t even quote a fee when I’m asked. Now I just ask,
I’ve read—ever.” ‘Why do I want to work on your project?’ The answers are fascinating.
— Sean Smithson, I remember playing a live gig with virtually no attendance back in the
via Facebook ’80s and someone asked me why I do what I do. I replied, ‘Because I
can’t not.’ Thanks for the article, I will keep it and re-read it as needed.”
“Amazing that someone —Jim Fiegen,
born in 1963 could get the via e-mail
’60s so right. Yes, I realize
Tarantino had expert assis-
tance, but, still, as you note
in the article, he also relies
on his own memories. The
film is longer than I an-
ticipated, but I enjoyed all
of it, which I cannot say is
always true of equally long
cinematic experiences.”
— Connie Corcoran Wilson, “THE 25 COOLEST
via Facebook FILM FESTIVALS IN
THE WORLD, 2019”
“Good article. Really gets BY RYAN STEWART
into some new territory.” AND MM EDITORS
— Micah Gallo, “Correctly includes Sound
via Facebook Unseen. Jim Brunzell III
and crew put on a great
RIGHT: ILLUSTRATION BY FAYE ROGERS
LEFT: ILLUSTRATION BY WENJIA TANG;

“Awesome article.” music-related film fest.”


— Chip Lamey, — Jeremy Wilker,
via Facebook via Twitter

12 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


LETTERS

“THE BEST FILM SCHOOLS


IN THE U.S. AND CANADA, “Many thanks to
2019” BY N.L. BROOKS MovieMaker for
“Surprisingly, the Olympic always having such
College Film School (Bremer- inclusive content
ton, WA)—a comprehensive and coverage—on
accredited program with two every level. I’ve
and four-year options, out- been a reader of the
standing faculty, new facili- magazine for years!”
ties and technology, access to — Maya Smukler,
Seattle-based companies, and via e-mail
the lowest four-year tuition
around at less than $35,000—
was missed.”
— Tom Peterson,
via MovieMaker.com

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 13


BOOK REVIEWS

READING
TO FALL FOR
Usher in autumn with these definitive biographies
of accomplished auteurs and screen icons
BY DEVON GREEN AND SOPHIE JONSSON IN KELLY REICHARDT’S FIRST COW , COOKIE FIGOWITZ (JOHN MAGARO, L) IS SHOT
WITH THE WRITER-DIRECTOR’S TRADEMARK MINIMALISM—AN AESTHETIC EXAMINED
IN E. DAWN HALL’S REFOCUS: THE FILMS OF KELLY REICHARDT
QUENTIN TARANTINO:
THE ICONIC FILMMAKER REFOCUS: THE FILMS OF KELLY REICHARDT
AND HIS WORK By E. Dawn Hall
By Ian Nathan UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH PRESS.
WHITE LION PUBLISHING. 192 PAGES
176 PAGES Kelly Reichardt is a moviemaker of intriguing contradictions. She
The best moments of is a rebellious embracer of anti-studio production methods who nonethe-
Quentin Tarantino’s films have less collaborates with A-list acting talent. She was a mid-’90s festival dar-
a way of injecting the cozily ling who broke out at the same time as Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith,
nostalgic with adrenalized rushes and David O. Russell, but whose Bressonian portraits of outsiders and
of perverted discovery, evoking misfits wandering the misty pacific northwest are as formally and nar-
the feeling of being alone in a QUENTIN TARANTINO (R) SURVEYS ratively restrained as her peers’ work is flashy and verbose. She is a soul-
THE SET OF ONCE UPON A TIME... IN
bookstore as you flip through HOLLYWOOD , THE NINTH ENTRY IN AN ful chronicler of lost souls, a poet of yearning and mood that can’t be
an old pulp paperback and can’t OEUVRE EXPLORED IN IAN NATHAN’S easily pinned down, and if you’re even slightly familiar with her work,
believe your luck at how good and QUENTIN TARANTINO: THE ICONIC you also know she’s the kind of director who eschews traditional narra-

LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW COOPER / COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT RIGHT: COURTESY OF A24
juicy this subversive page-turner FILMMAKER AND HIS WORK tive and pacing in favor of images and character insights that linger in
you’ve never heard of is. So, it the heart long after the theater lights come up.
would seem to follow that a large-format glossy monograph focusing All of these aspects of Reichardt’s life and work would
on the entire span of the post-modern maestro’s career would seem to seemingly render the business of putting a career summation
be counterintuitive. Yet Ian Nathan’s aptly named Quentin Tarantino: into words futile. Thankfully, this problem never arises in
The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work nestles itself into a nice film book Refocus: The Films of Kelly Reichardt, a thoughtful new examination
niche by being that rare coffee table centerpiece that functions both as of Reichardt’s filmography that juxtaposes a series of unpretentious
an aesthetic object unto itself and a tome worth reading cover to cover. and engaging essays with biographical anecdotes and digressions.
Tracing the arc of QT’s life and work— from childhood TV and Many of these are reiterated by, or to, fellow indie stalwarts like
grindhouse junkie to Manhattan Beach video store clerk to cel- Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes (both early champions and encour-
ebrated auteur—the book does a great job of probing the mythology agers of Kelly), and are all the more enjoyable for it.
of Tarantino without ever deflating it. Divided into chapters focusing Hall works chronologically, putting Reichardt’s debut “lovers on
on each of the director’s nine features, the book is absolutely packed the lam” noir River Of Grass in the context of the director’s youth
with high-quality pictures from the Kobal vaults illustrating the mix in Florida—a time fraught with a burning desire for escape and
of behind-the-scenes stories of development and production. More freedom. This particular variety of hero’s journey is an omnipresent
exciting than that, though, are the sections taking time to focus on theme throughout Kelly’s work. “Reichardt takes as a starting point
his early screenwriting work and his producing credits championing the universal desire to experience freedom, progression, and learn-
friends’ projects like Hostel. (Shout-outs and background informa- ing—all elements found in a road trip or journey—and allows her
tion for Tarantino’s ghostwriting and script-doctoring work on films spectators to experience them through her films,” Hall writes.
such as It’s Pat and The Rock are cat-nip for a certain section of us Subsequent chapters trace a fascinating line through the evolution
film nerds out there.) Sure, the details of the moviemaker’s overnight of the director’s voice and her career-long commitment to minimalism—
mega-stardom following his 1994 Palme d’Or win might be well- an aesthetic and credo that resonated with her from her early 8mm
known at this point, but rarely have they been told in the context shorts all the way through to her John Raymond-adapted masterpieces
of such a sleek, comprehensive, and visually stunning tome. Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy and the recent Certain Women. This
THE TAKEAWAY: Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work makes the book an absolute must-read for young moviemakers seeking
is a highly accessible and visually slick dive into the life and work of to understand how slow cinema techniques can mine philosophy from
a modern day major. This book will have something for the Tarantino honest storytelling and a strong sense of time and place.
neophyte and super-nerd alike. — D.G. THE TAKEAWAY: Refocus: The Films of Kelly Reichardt is a thorough

14 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


BOOK REVIEWS A Career in TeleVisionS L&U GFilm
HERE
is waiting for you at DSU!
and necessary examination of a director whose work is celebrated,
n • Digital Ci
nema Workflow •Adobe
y-Drive , Avid&
but has perhaps not yet been given the top-tier canonical placement
Stor DaVinc
it deserves. Spot on in its considerations of minimalist film tradition ion • i •So
and Reichardt’s importance as a woman in the male-dominated indie uct u

rod

nd De
-On P
sphere (while noting her work’s power to transcend any such labels),

sign &
Hands
Refocus is both an important critical text and a page-turning yarn.

Record
inary Collaborations • Salesian Values •
Replete with quotes from Reichardt herself, the book is catnip for the

ing • Anima
micro-budget-minded and pure of indie heart. — D.G.

tion
THE CONTENDER: THE STORY OF MARLON BRANDO

• Graphic Arts•Tel
By William J. Mann
HARPER.
736 PAGES
In his brick-sized book, The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando

evision St
William J. Mann explores the revolutionary life of its titular

cipl
screen star subject. Being one of the most influential actors of the

Dis

udio
oss-
20th century, Mann deems Brando “The American Hamlet”—a testa-


• Cr

Jur
ment to his maverick status in the acting community as well as

ied Fi
en
uipm

lm
a cultural movement in and of himself. Eq Festi
Mann’s book includes material from Brando’s private archives -the-Art val• S
tudy A
to chronicle every facet of the actor’s life in a way the author • Internships and Mentoring • S
tate-of broad
believes has never been done before. “In truth, nearly everyone
who’s written about him has gotten him wrong. The exceptions
have been very recent,” writes Mann. From this proclamation,
The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando sets out to show both
the good and bad of Brando, while addressing some of the biggest
DeSales.edu/TVFilm Center Valley, PA

myths and misconceptions that surround him.


First discussing the fact that Brando despised being referred to
as a Method actor, Mann then delves into stirring rumors about
his sexuality and beyond to render a raw and truthful biographical
portrait. The result of this approach is chock full of revelatory stories
about Brando’s complicated family life, encounters with women, and
early acting days in New York City, including his road to Elia Kazan’s
production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and
everything in his career that followed.
Though Brando is rightfully known and revered for his acting,
Mann’s book also considers the ways in which his artistry was in-
formed by his endless quest for justice, freedom, and human rights.
“The young man who had been denied access and expression for
much of his life, who’d been kept back and discouraged, who’d been
told repeatedly that he didn’t matter, felt far more drawn to social
advocacy than he did to acting or the theater,” the author explains.
The
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his charged protests that ruffled feathers throughout Hollywood,
and his tireless efforts alongside advocacy and civil rights groups,
The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando firmly roots itself
in Brando’s perspective on what he felt was life’s important cause:
the crusade for the equality of all people.
THE TAKEAWAY: In The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando, EXPLORE DUBUQUE, IOWA OVER 5 DAYS WHILE TAKING IN
Mann does not refer to his subject as Marlon Brando, but as Bud, his FREE PANELS, WORKSHOPS, & FILMS WHERE IOWA STARTED.
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childhood nickname. Though this stylistic choice is simple, it exemplifies
Mann’s success in reaching his subject beyond his obviously iconic name
and status. Brando’s fast-moving, emotionally turbulent life had its share JULIENFILMFEST.COM
of missteps, and Mann doesn’t shy away from that. If you wish to read
a more fully-realized account of Bud, this book will supply you with
APRIL 2226, 2020 DUBUQUE, IOWA
an abundance of stories, while showing you the roots of his choices
and actions in a way few have done before. — S.J. MM

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 15


CALLBOARD

BRINGING SLAM
TO THE BEACH
Slamdance Film Festival’s inaugural Miami-based edition
will bring democratic programming and forward-thinking
fellowships to South Beach in 2020
BY HARPER L AMBERT

LAMDANCE Film have had with greater industry

S
Festival’s origin exposure,” he says.
story reads like That’s where Slamdance comes
the premise of in. “With their programming and
one of its indie our connections, we are hoping
films. After being burned by to attract more industry attention
Sundance, four moviemakers as well as audiences,” says Baxter.
founded their own Park City “We can lend a hand in uplifting
venture under the name those artists to a higher place.”
“Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah.” Yet Baxter insists that
Over the last 25 years, the festival Slamdance Miami isn’t a scale
has established itself as a rebel model of its parent festival. In
with a cause: to support low-bud- consistence with Slamdance’s
get indie moviemaking and give a “By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers”
platform to emerging talent. mantra, it will be specifically
L TO R: MIAMI NATIVE MOVIEMAKERS FERNANDO LOUREIRO, TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY,
In pursuit of this mission, tailored to the Miami locale. That AND ANDREW HEVIA CUT LOOSE AFTER GIVING A SLAMDANCE POLYTECHNIC WORKSHOP
Slamdance recently announced means partnering with the arts ON MICROBUDGET MOVIEMAKING
that it will be launching a new organizations that form the back-
weekend-long festival in May, bone of its moviemaking commu- come from others who believe in from submissions. Alumni and
2020. Located in South Beach, nity. “They form a stronger, more what we’re doing.” He emphasizes local filmmakers will be invited
Slamdance Miami will spotlight vibrant scene for now and for the that while other festivals may be to program the festival, with each
moviemakers from Florida, next generation to come,” he adds. driven by profit, Slamdance only individual receiving one vote.
as well as nations outside of the Already, Slamdance Miami has operates with moviemakers in This way, explains Baxter, “there’s
United States. linked up with the Miami-Dade mind: “We started this because of no hierarchy of film program-
“Slamdance is an ongoing Film Commission and O Cinema, artists themselves, not because of ming. It is as level a playing field
experiment in our ways of discov- an independent non-profit theater any corporate sponsorship.” as we can give to the filmmakers
ering and supporting new film- co-founded by Slamdance alum Slamdance’s grassroots ap- who are submitting to us.”
makers,” says co-founder and CEO Kareem Tabsch. Screenings will proach to fundraising will be As such, the lineup will largely
Peter Baxter. “Miami is an amazing be held there, along with the reflected in its programming. Like revolve around unknown mov-
place to focus on artists who are Faena Hotel and other Miami Beach the Park City fest, Miami’s slate iemakers. While this might seem
coming up within the Americas… venues—including the beach itself. will be determined by democratic “unattractive” to certain audience
not just North America, but also “Everything is within walking programming, a system formed in and industry members, Slamdance
Central and South America, and distance,” says Baxter, “which is protest of unfair methods used by is happy to bet on undiscovered
the islands.” conducive to forming a commu- some festivals. “Many film festivals talent. Says Baxter: “They may not
Although Miami is considered a nity.” He envisions a relaxed setup actually invite films that haven’t be well-known names, they may
treasure trove for indie moviemak- whereby moviemakers and audi- been submitted,” Baxter points out. not have big stars in their films, but
ing, “how it’s been recognized and ence members are free to mingle. “There are new filmmakers who they are worth taking a risk on.”
supported over the years is another Key to creating a sense of com- have paid the entry fee and have The festival certainly has the
matter,” Baxter explains. “A lot of munity is working with sponsors no idea of the decreased chance track record to prove it. From
artists that have come up through who share Slamdance’s vision of a they now have.” Ari Aster to Sean Baker to
Miami haven’t been given the op- truly independent festival. Baxter In contrast, all of Slamdance Christopher Nolan, several high-
portunities they otherwise might says that financial support “will Miami’s selections will come profile moviemakers got their

16 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


CALLBOARD

< BROWARD COUNTY-BASED DIRECTOR


KEVIN CONTENTO (C) JOINS THE CAST
AND CREW OF HIEROPHANY , WHICH
PLAYED AT SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
2019

to drawing filmgoers out


to Miami, says Baxter.
Another opportunity for
growth exists in expanding the
mentorship programs for which
Slamdance is known. Connect-
ing up-and-coming talent with
established creators became a
priority when alumni expressed
how as first-time filmmakers
they’d struggled with a lack
of practical knowledge. “What we
start at Slamdance. Their careers try to do is provide students
demonstrate that “the power of a bridge to the world of filmmak-
the people who are not made ing based on the sharing
up predominately of the film of alumni experiences,”
industry can make a difference explains Baxter. He cites the
in how the industry responds to Russo Brothers Fellowship,
the works we are showing,” notes a $25,000 grant and one-on-one
Baxter. If all goes as planned, mentorship from Anthony and
Slamdance Miami participants Joe as an example of what he
will succeed by winning over au- hopes to develop at Slamdance
diences, rather than “the old way Miami.
of waiting to get into one of those Is Slamdance on its way
big recognized film festivals.” to festival-world domination?
Besides shaking up the selec- For now, the organization
tion process, Slamdance Miami is taking it one showcase
hopes to move the needle on an at a time. “We’re putting down
issue that has afflicted the festival roots. That’s why we don’t want
circuit for years: diversity. Baxter to try and grow what we’re do-
admits that in the past, the Park ing too quickly,” Baxter explains.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LAUREN DESBERG / COURTESY OF SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

City festival has struggled with “It’s about making the right
diversifying its lineup. Hosting choices at the right times.”
a festival in a “melting pot” like Indeed, with a calendar already
Miami will hopefully attract appli- chock-full of workshops, screen-
cants from a variety of geographic ings, and an annual festival, one
and racial backgrounds, he says. can’t help but wonder: Why now?
“This is a very exciting time to “It goes back to what
nurture filmmakers who are com- Steven Soderbergh once told
ing up from different places in the us,” says Baxter, quoting the
world. We want to make sure that Slamdance alum and recipient
support for them is increasing.” of the 2019 Founders Award.
With a network spanning “ ‘Don’t ask for permission.’
“many parts of the Americas,” When we feel that something
Slamdance Miami is relying on is really important to do, we’ll
alumni to reach out to movie- make it happen.” MM
makers in their communities.
Collaborating with Florida-based
programs like Third Horizon Slamdance Miami Film Festival
Film Festival and FilmGate will be held May 2020 in Miami,
Miami, while promoting demo- Florida. For more information,
cratic programming is essential visit slamdance.com/miami.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 17


FLASH FORWARD

KIDDING ASIDE:
25-YEAR-OLD
TAYLOR RUSSELL
SAYS HER YOUTHFUL
APPEARANCE HAS
GIVEN HER THE
OPPORTUNITY TO
PORTRAY TEENAGE
CHARACTERS WITH THE
DEPTH THEY DESERVE

MISFITTING
THE BILL: RUSSELL’S
TURN AS SHY OUTCAST
EMILY WILLIAMS IN
TREY EDWARD SHULTS’
WAVES HAS THE
MAKINGS OF
A BREAKOUT
PERFORMANCE

MAKING WAVES
icon,” Russell says of her leading lady,
but the role was a formative experience
in many ways, and the three-month shoot
in Barcelona allowed Russell to leave
North America for the first time.
Fresh off her star turn in Trey Edward Shults’ critical darling Waves, Taylor Russell Russell has been busy ever since. She was
continues to ride the rising tide of her career in front of and behind the camera the lead in the hit Sony Pictures horror film
Escape Room earlier this year, and she’ll
B Y D A N I E L J O YA U X also star in next year’s sequel. She’s also
starred in two seasons of Netflix’s popular
Lost in Space reboot, the second season
of which will hit the streaming service in

“I
HIT THE JACKPOT with a working actor, this makes perfect sense. December. (Russell’s dad is a huge sci-fi
that being my first festival,” Russell was born in British Columbia, fan, so he’s particularly excited about her
Taylor Russell says of Telluride, lived in Toronto between the ages of six and involvement in that series.)
where her new film, Waves, 10, and went to high school in Vancouver. In But Waves is what feels poised to launch
had its world premiere in September. It was between those stops, her family moved all Russell to the upper tiers of casting agents’
Russell’s first time accompanying her work over Canada as her father pursued acting wishlists. The explosive family drama from
to a fest, and it proved to be the perfect roles, and he was constantly working. celebrated auteur Trey Edward Shults
experience to launch both the film and her Russell lived in 16 different houses as a kid, has followed its Telluride launch with
career into the public consciousness. “Every- and she learned from a young age that the prominent festival appearances in Toronto,
one at Telluride is a big movie geek, and life of an actor was “a hectic one without London, and Chicago, and it will be one of
they just want to discuss what they’ve seen.” a clear-cut path.” Still, that didn’t stop her A24’s prized holiday season releases (with
COURTESY OF A24

Russell is a bit like that, too. The first film from moving to L.A. after high school. an Oscar campaign sure to follow).
she really loved was Frank Darabont’s 1999 Following a medley of small TV parts Russell plays the younger sister of
Best Picture nominee, The Green Mile. “I re- over several years, Russell’s first major film Kelvin Harrison Jr. (even though she’s five
member that movie just really cracking my role came in 2018 in Down a Dark Hall op- days older than him in real life), and both
heart open,” she says. For the daughter of posite Uma Thurman. “Obviously Uma is an are high school students living in an upper

18 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FLASH FORWARD

things.” And rather than feeling pigeon-


holed, Russell appreciates that she con-
tinues to have the opportunity to portray
teenagers positively and “with a full human-
ity to them.”
But Russell is firmly an adult, and noth-
ing illustrates that more than this: Our
interview with her came during a break
from the editing room, where she’s working
on her directorial debut. Co-directed with
one of her friends, the as-yet-untitled docu-
mentary is about a charity in Sacramento
dedicated to helping homeless young moth-
ers fight addiction. Of directing for the first
time, Russell says that “If you have the right
people around you, your job is really just to
listen and help guide, but not control.”
When she gets a break from her work,
Russell is a burgeoning cinephile. Her most
middle class area of Miami with their film’s halfway point, she completely takes recent discovery is Joanna Hogg’s acclaimed
parents (played by Sterling K. Brown and over. Despite this dramatic midway shift new film, The Souvenir, which she calls
Renée Elise Goldsberry). As Harrison’s char- in focus and tonality in the finished film, “a profound movie, so nuanced and well
acter, a star athlete, navigates a volatile re- Russell says the shooting order was all over composed. It’s special.” And her current
lationship with his girlfriend, Russell’s more the place. Depending on the day, she was dream collaborators are Spike Jonze and
introspective character begins a relationship constantly switching between scenes where Adam Driver. Jonze’s Her is one of Russell’s
with a slightly awkward young man played she was the focus and scenes where she was favorite movies, and she raves about Driver’s
by Lucas Hedges. in the background. But she and her co-stars work in Marriage Story, which she saw at
If you’ve seen either of Shults’ grew very close during the 30-day shoot, Telluride (further underscoring that she re-
previous films—2016’s Krisha or 2017’s and they were there to support each other ally did hit the jackpot with her first festival
It Comes at Night—you’ll know the stabil- while filming the most intense sequences. experience).
ity presented at the film’s outset can’t last. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Given how much Russell has
Russell had already seen Krisha when she Russell’s performance is that she ends up accomplished in just the two years she’s
was offered the part in Waves, and she said stealing and owning the movie, despite been getting substantial roles—and how
that Shults’ first film made her sick to her sharing the screen with two of the most much industry attention will come her way
stomach, but was unlike anything she’d ever lauded young actors of their generation in when Waves hits theaters in November—
seen. “He’s completely original,” she says. Hedges and Harrison Jr. (both of whom she’ll no doubt get to start crossing
But for as much as Shults is known for Russell describes as “beautifully sensitive directors, co-stars, and projects off her wish
films about families tearing themselves young men, in touch with their emotions”). list in the very near future. MM
apart, Waves—which is truly a film of two Even though she’s 25, Russell has almost
halves—only devotes part of its runtime always played high school students.
to that theme. For the first half, Russell “I know I have a baby face and I’m okay Waves opened in theaters November 15, 2019,
is largely in the background. But at the with that,” she says. “I trust the timing of courtesy of A24.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 19


1
SCREENWRITING
B Y E D W A R D N O R T O N , A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y

W
HEN PEOPLE TALK about screenwriting,
there are usually plenty of jokes about
Robert McKee. I have a pretty violent disagree-
beginning. So, if audiences could get to the end
of the film and have the sense that deep, dark things—
autocracy, racism, things that are antagonistic to every-
LIFE’S GREAT
MYSTERIES: WHILE
SCRIPTING HIS
MURDER MYSTERY,
ment with McKee’s idea that there are struc- thing we say about “who we are”—created the modern city MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ,
tural fundamentals to the way stories should be told. I think of New York, then that would be a second-level success. ESSENTIAL TRUTHS
Joseph Campbell is right: It’s absolutely true that there are The opening of the book that Motherless Brooklyn is ABOUT THE FILM’S
core mythic themes and archetypes that writers re-visit and adapted from, by Jonathan Lethem, gave me a great spring- TIME AND PLACE
TOOK PRIOIRTY
re-skim to address the times we’re living in. But if you look board into a story—a James Bond pre-title-esque sequence OVER STRUCTUAL
at a script like Chinatown, which people often point to as a with a stakeout, some murky clues, a chase, a murder, and FUNDAMENTALS, SAYS
great noir film, the main character has absolutely no motiva- the fallout from all of it. I wrote that part quickly and easily, WRITER-DIRECTOR/
tion whatsoever! He doesn’t really like the people he’s trying but after that, things got complicated: “Why did this hap- PRODUCER/STAR
EDWARD NORTON
to help, and in true American fashion, the only thing that pen?” I had researched a lot about New York in the 1950s

PHOTOGRAPH BY GLEN WILSON / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES


gets under his skin is that somebody else tries to play him, so and had a clear idea about the crime at the heart of it all,
that’s what carries through the whole movie. but figuring out what kind of journey our character would
If you workshopped the structure of Chinatown in go through took a long time. So, another couple of years
a screenwriting group, everyone would take it apart. It’s so went by before I sat down to try to plot it out.
opaque that if you wiped the hard drives of everyone’s minds I did all the classic things: mapping the story out with
so that they’d never seen Chinatown or had other people cards, strategizing on how to hide certain details from
tell them it’s a classic, anybody watching it would have the audience. I asked myself, “What’s the mechanism by
no idea what’s happening eight tenths of the way through. which we peel the layers of the onion back to find out
And yet, between the music, the iconic L.A. landscape, and what’s really going on?”
Jack Nicholson being a person you’d watch read the phone- I reached a point where I had written about 60 pages,
book, it’s hypnotic. Ninety-nine out of 100 people who love but had gotten so hung up in the maze of the story myself
the movie would fail to narrate the details of that convoluted that I felt distracted, put it in the drawer, and didn’t touch
plot, but somehow by the end of it they understand essential it again for another five or six years. Then something wild
truths—about how a land of American hopes and dreams happened: I actually had the experience, those five or six
was built on a seedy crime, and how a kind of dark violence years later, of reading it and not remembering I had writ-
exists underneath everything we want to believe in. ten it! I thought some of it was pretty good, and thought,
Of course, the first-level success of any script is simply “Why didn’t I finish this?” It was as if my subconscious
that it engenders empathy. When I wrote my latest film, has worked on it for a while and found its way through
Motherless Brooklyn, I wanted people to root for the under- the script, and that’s what allowed me to finish it.
dog and see him become a better person than he was in the Screenwriting is hard. It takes a lot of puzzling. MM

20 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


A M E R I C A N F I L M I N S T I T U T E

F E S T W I T H L O S A N G E L E S
N O V E M B E R 14 – 21

BUY TICKETS
F E S T. A F I .C OM #A F I F E S T
MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2018 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 41
1
SCREENWRITING

A LIFE IN
YOUR HANDS
Depicting real people requires writing
responsibly. Here are the dos and don’ts
of adapting a well-known true story
from a screenwriting duo who did it with “or in a way that suggests that he didn’t work our hands on. But we quickly concluded that
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood very, very hard at being the person he was.” Fred Rogers wasn’t a good protagonist for a
Eventually, Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster biopic by any reasonable definition, because he
earned the trust of Joanne and the other was unwaveringly awesome for 73 years and
BY MICAH FITZERMAN-BLUE
guardians of Fred’s legacy, gaining access to then died. There seemed to be no peaks and val-
AND NOAH HARPSTER,
archives containing letters, photographs, pup- leys in his story; he really did live an amazing
A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y
pets, costumes, and a wealth of other material life, almost intentionally. We knew that if we
that illustrates Rogers’ extraordinary life and were going to write about him, we would have
work. Here, they share a conversation on how to find another way into the story and write a

A
LASTING LEGACY takes they mined from their own life stories to adapt character with an arc.
a lifetime to build and another’s, how they incorporated the archival So, that led us to reading a bunch of stuff:

PHOTOGRAPH BY LACEY TERRELL / COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT


basically forever to preserve treasures they uncovered into their script, and Obviously, we read Tom Junod’s profile of Fred
and protect. Screenwriters how screenwriters should approach the “deli- in Esquire, from which the film is adapted,
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster be- cate dance” of deciding which actual events will and we read a book by Tim Madigan called
came intimately acquainted with this fact over be transformed into something cinematic. I’m Proud of You that also served as initial
the course of a 10-year journey that ultimately — MM Editors inspiration. Luckily, we were invited to the
brought A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood— Fred Rogers estate, but they said to us, “We
their feature adaptation of the life and times Micah Fitzerman-Blue (MFB): The development really like you, we’re very honored to meet you,
of Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks)—to fruition. of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood really and we’d love to read anything you have. But
Despite the duo’s fascination with the started when I had a toddler. One day, on a there will never be a Mr. Rogers movie.”
Mr. Rogers they saw “as a real person on planet whim, I put on a YouTube video of Mr. Rogers, But eventually, after many additional meet-
Earth,” Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster tell us and my daughter, a very stubborn two-year-old ings they came around and decided to open up
that their pitch to dramatize the human side at the time, turned to the computer screen and the archives to Fred’s life.
of the beloved children’s television show host started listening to him in a way that she has
was met with considerable resistance from the never once, even to this day, listened to me. Noah Harpster (NH): Because we didn’t go away.
Rogers Estate. “They were approached about Mr. Rogers said, “Let’s do some calisthenics.
telling Fred’s life story over the years,” explains Do you know what calisthenics are?” And my MFB: It just took blind faith and persistence. We
Fitzerman-Blue, but most screenwriters had daughter turned around and started doing knew Fred wasn’t going to become any less rel-
envisioned a “glamorized, saintly” depiction windmills with Mr. Rogers. I thought, “This guy evant than he is over time. We don’t need his
of a version of Rogers that his wife Joanne is like a warlock! He’s speaking toddler!” message less now than we did before—we need it
assured never actually existed. “We don’t want We didn’t know much about him then, but more. Another thing that happened was, your
you to present him in a way that’s otherworld- he seemed fascinating, so you and I started two daughters were growing up, and then I had
ly,” Fitzerman-Blue recalls Joanne telling them, researching him, reading anything we could get a kid. We shared the same paranoia and fear

22 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< TIGER IN THEIR TANK: TASKED WITH PORTRAYING NH: Yeah. I think that always starts with your
THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF FRED ROGERS (TOM HANKS), intention and ultimately you have to decide
MICAH FITZERMAN-BLUE AND NOAH HARPSTER USED
THEIR OWN PERSONAL STRUGGLES AS FUEL FOR what it is your character wants. From there,
CO-WRITING A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD you try to stay as close to the facts that you
have. If you find in a moment that the facts
at the same time, they were crucial in revealing you have don’t align with the intention of the
that Fred served as a kind of personal minister character, then you have to take a step to the
to Tom. Fred was once a Presbyterian minister, left or to the right. In this case, we didn’t have
and while he never talked about religion or God to do that very often because we had a lot of
on the program, a huge part of his life was help- source material. And again, in addition to the
ing people in need. So, that dimension of their archives, we had both your and my life to draw
relationship became the nucleus of the movie. from. Plus, we had Tom, Fred’s wife Joanne,
and Family Communications head Bill Isler in-
NH: One thing we realized pretty quickly is that forming us as well, so we could use something
Fred had, for lack of a better term, a bag of from that pool of resources at any time.
tricks. He had things that he would focus on Moviemaking is inherently collaborative,
when talking with people—the way that an so a screenwriter’s job is really to set par. If
emotion you’re feeling could be turned into a you manage to do that, then you just have to
song, or the significance of playing with a lump hope that what ends up in the final cut of the
of clay or hitting the low key on a piano. But film is at least as good as you think it is on the
any time someone tried to pry or ask him some- page. But usually—and we certainly did in this
thing personal, he would turn it around on case—you end up finding it to be much better
them and say, “Oh, thank you. Thank you so than it was on the page. That’s why you’ve just
much for asking me about that. It’s an honor got to focus on writing an outline for what a
that you would care that much to ask me some- cast and crew will do throughout production.
thing like that,” and he’d never really answer the
question. In the archival materials we had access MFB: You and I have adapted quite a few
to, we saw that a lot of these things appeared in pieces of source material. And I think for us,
his correspondences with many people—not the other really important thing is: Are you
of staring at your infant child thinking, “How just Tom. Once we identified that as one of Fred’s able to convey the feeling that’s captured in
the hell am I going to do this? How do I be ‘Dad’? patterns of behavior, we started to see some of that novel or article? Film is an emotional
How do you do it? Today? In Los Angeles?” So, the “tools” he developed to interact with others. medium, so that should be your goal with any
part of our persistence in getting this script made You see in the movie how perfectly adaptation. There are no hard and fast truths
came from the fact that we were looking for answers. Tom Hanks captures what a guarded person about how you approach it. If you’re adapting
Fred was. He engaged in a kind of conversa- Harry Potter, you’re responsible for getting the
NH: We drew from stories from the Rogers tional Judo—helping you, yet protecting himself details right because everyone has read that
archive, but also very much from our own lives. at the same time, preserving a sense of mystery. book. If you’re adapting a novel that isn’t as
As I was learning how to be a father, my own We never felt like we were able to touch that well known, you might feel that your responsi-
father got cancer during the course of our writ- thing that Lloyd Vogel—our fictionalized ver- bility is simply to turn it into the best possible
ing process as well and eventually passed away. sion of Tom, played by Matthew Rhys—is after. movie you can. Each situation presents
So, we were writing about our own lives in the something different, but for us, we needed to
script—about having new babies, about the loss MFB: When you’re dramatizing and fictionaliz- feel like we could capture the feeling of being
of a father, about reconciliation with a father. ing real people and events, you have to do so as with Fred Rogers. That was it.
These things are as much a part of a film’s “de- carefully as possible. It’s important to portray
velopment” as anything else, right? One of the them responsibly and respectfully, while at the NH: Even if your script is not necessarily
gifts of being a screenwriter is that you actually same time allowing for the structure and arc grounded in reality, the essence of your
get to work this stuff out on the page. you expect from a good movie to help guide adaptation will be found somewhere
your decisions. Everything is a delicate dance— in your own life. For us, writing
MFB: As we were looking for stories to draw from, a negotiation. Even if you’re making up a char- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood meant
we came to realize that Fred was compulsively acter or story completely from scratch, there are writing about being new fathers and saying
intimate. If he met you, he would never have just still always going to be other people with whom goodbye to our own fathers. Even as we were
asked you, “How you doing?” He really wanted you’re making the movie. You’re not making it covering the totality of Fred Rogers and
to know the answer. Over the course of any given in a vacuum. You and I have worked on lots of everything that his legacy means, we were
day of his life, he would meet people in a deep projects that are completely fictional—set in a also writing about the things in our lives we
way and then get involved in their lives and day- fantasy world, or perhaps in some version of understood intimately. Whatever it is, you
to-day problems. We knew that Tom had written the future—and it’s always been a process of have to find that emotional entry point to the
that incredible profile of Fred, and as we sifted negotiation. You’re always in tension with your material from within yourself. MM
through our archives, a box hit the table in front collaborators. That’s how good work is made.
of us—a Tom Junod box. It was full of emails and When you’re approaching an adaptation, it’s
handwritten letters between Fred and Tom that a matter of picking moments that are especially A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens
had spanned decades. We first thought that look- exciting and perhaps afford some space for you November 22, 2019, courtesy of Sony Pictures
ing at these letters felt strangely voyeuristic, but to embellish a little bit. Releasing.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 23


1
SCREENWRITING

PLAYING THE
LONG GAME
Bide your time, experiment freely,
and embrace outside input to write
a script you’re proud of, says
The Death of Dick Long
screenwriter Billy Chew

B Y B I L LY C H E W writer is their own first audience member. BUTT OF THE JOKE: CUEING UP BUTT ROCK SONGS
Sometimes I think we get lost thinking of WAS THE BEST WAY TO COUCH AUDIENCES IN DICK
(DANIEL SCHEINERT, L), EARL (ANDRE HYLAND, C),
“The Audience” as someone else, when in AND ZEKE’S (MICHAEL ABBOTT. JR., R) DARK-COMEDIC
fact there’s an audience right here, writing WORLD, SAYS T HE DEATH OF DICK LONG SCREENWRITER

I
DON’T LIKE TO ADMIT that the screenplay. Recognize the fact that if you BILLY CHEW
it took 10 years for my debut think your screenplay is truly worth the time
feature, The Death of Dick Long, it takes to craft, there is an audience who will FINDING YOUR PROCESS IS KEY
to make it from inception most likely think so, too. I have to write the movie before I can be
to screen. I also don’t really know why In trying to read my scripts as an audi- honest with myself about it. A lot of people
I don’t like to admit that fact. Regardless, ence member, I’ve found it helpful to set my have great ideas for movies—most people do,
the movie is sort of an absurdist dramedy expectations as high for own work as I would I think—but it’s difficult to actually sit down
about the toll that secrets take on a butt rock set expectations for my favorite moviemak- and begin to find one’s process. When some-
band after one of them dies suddenly. It’s set ers. That means something different for one sets out to turn one of their ideas into a
in Alabama, and it’s got a big twisty reveal. everybody. For one writer, that may mean screenplay, they have to develop their own par-
I’m quite proud of it. telling a shocking story in a unique way. For ticular way of doing a fairly specific, idiosyn-
After premiering at Sundance earlier this someone else, that may mean trying to tell a cratic thing. It can be a pretty arduous journey
year, it has garnered a “midnight movie” type broadly appealing, family-oriented fairytale. to find one’s process. I know it was for me.
reputation. Part of that stems from its butt Sometimes we pull that off, sometimes we Eventually I found that I worked best by
rock soundtrack. Part of that reputation stems don’t. I can’t say for certain whether I’ve ever hand-writing the script in a notebook. Then
from the twist, to which some people react met my own expectations, but I do know that I’d transcribe the notebook onto the com-
quite strongly. That’s fine. I wanted a strong when I’ve failed to meet them, I’ve learned puter, which would serve as a pseudo-re-
reaction from the audience. Every movie- something important. Failing is a great way write as I read through the script again and
maker does. As I was writing the script, I had to learn the harsh lesson of where I could made changes as I went. Doing so allowed
a strong reaction to its content myself. That’s stand to improve. me the easiest personal avenue to complet-
what kept me engaged with the script for so That’s why it’s important to think from an ing a first draft. The process as a whole
many years. audience’s perspective. Not “The Audience”— morphs with every project, but it’s personal-
just you. Be as honest with yourself as an audi- ized practices and habits that consistently
YOU’RE YOUR FIRST AUDIENCE MEMBER ence with your own exact taste would be while help me through each project.
COURTESY OF A24

The Death of Dick Long finally making it watching your movie. Don’t be a jerk about it,
through the Hollywood gauntlet onto the but just be honest. You’re not only your first FOLLOW THE RULES…
screen solidified an idea for me that I’ve tried audience member—you’re also your first ally UNLESS YOU DON’T WANT TO
to carry with me since the movie’s produc- in the long process of writing a movie. Your The screenwriting books everyone always
tion a few years ago. That idea is that the own enthusiasm for your project is valid. brings up are, yes, helpful. To be honest,

24 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


YouTube has some great channels dedicated pool of collaborators. Isn’t the whole point
to dissecting movies and screenplays, too. of this to get it in front of an audience?
But don’t get hung up on other people’s ideas Indulge yourself when you’re ready to share
of right or wrong ways to do something. your script with a trusted audience.
I think we all know deep down that there I’ve found it helpful to accrue my own
are no rules. All of our favorite moviemakers personal list of readers with whom
demonstrate that fact. I’ll share my work. Daniel Scheinert,
It’s helpful to try to figure out where The Death of Dick Long’s director, has been on
a screenwriting rule comes from if you that list for years now. When the proposition
decide you’re going to break it. It’s not of him directing the project was broached, he
always necessary, but it’s a useful exercise. said he’d want to change the cop characters to
For example, it’s generally frowned upon women. The movie itself is kind of about me-
SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: IN THE DEATH OF DICK LONG ,
to cue up non-diegetic music in a screen- ZEKE’S WIFE LYDIA (VIRGINA NEWCOMB) IS ONE tastasized masculinity, so changing the gender
play: “Too director-y. Let the director do EXAMPLE OF AN ALABAMAN WOMAN SUFFERING THE of the characters served that theme. Even if
their thing.” Generally, if the reader doesn’t EFFECTS OF WHAT CHEW DESCRIBES AS “METASTASIZED Daniel didn’t ultimately direct the movie, his
cue up the track and listen along as they MASCULINITY” note was a good note. It strengthened the script.
read, which is a pretty demanding activity Even “bad” notes can be helpful. Some-
to prompt as a writer, the scene better work times a reader will offer up both a reaction
without the song. and a solution, the latter of which may make
However, with The Death of Dick Long,
I was keen on soundtracking it with butt rock
“Don’t get hung up no sense whatsoever to you as the storyteller.
Regardless of the reader’s suggested solution,
bands like Nickelback, Creed, Staind—all those
guys. The music cues served the function of
on other people’s however, their reaction can be helpful.
It can clarify and illuminate elements of your
communicating something about the world
of these characters. The band names conjure
ideas of right or screenplay that may or may not be eliciting
the reaction you intended. Take most readers’
something up for the reader, even if they don’t
cue up the song itself. So, I broke the “Don’t
wrong ways to do solutions with a grain of salt, but listen
to their reactions. And steal the good solu-
cue non-diegetic music” rule. Audiences have
reacted strongly to the way I wrote it, so I
something. I think tions they might offer up.

believe the experiment paid off.


All our favorite moviemaking is experi-
deep down we all BE PATIENT
Moviemaking takes a long time.
mental, but I don’t mean “experimental”
in terms of genre. I think of it in a more
know that there I think the reason I don’t like to admit that
The Death of Dick Long was so long in the
scientific way: Moviemakers try new things,
commit to bold ideas, break molds. That’s a
are no rules.” making is that, at the end of the day, that
fact’s kind of a bummer. I think there’s
component part of moviemaking. Audiences a certain romance to the idea of pursuing
require experimentation and newness or a project for years, but the fact of the matter
they get bored. Don’t be afraid to do your is that screenwriters hear a lot of “No.”
own experiments. Even if the experiment a defining characteristic for Earl. At one That can weigh on a person.
is as small in scale as cuing a certain song, point in the movie, the inanimate vape even Patience is a virtue. While it may have
it may be a spark for one of the long line gets a laugh from audiences. I wish I could taken The Death of Dick Long a while to get
of collaborators who will be taking your say that I wrote that, but I didn’t. It only made, it was an effective writing sample
script and running with it. happened because a collaborator took the for me. I’ve been making a living around the
screenplay and ran with it. film industry in the world of re-writes and
LET THE SCRIPT GO Just like the aforementioned idea that I’m adaptations for a minute now. Getting into
Ultimately, your job as the screenwriter my own first audience member, the second, that world took years, too.
is to set the spark that lights a wildfire third, fourth, and fifth audience members But it can happen. Your script can be a
of inspiration for others. Once your script are going to be the director, the actor, the great sample and help you get a foot in the
goes into production, a seemingly endless cinematographer, the editor, and so on. It’s door. It can help you make a living. It can
array of artists and future collaborators important to recognize that a screenplay even get made. If you can pursue your own
will interpret it from a million different itself can be finished, but a movie isn’t done process, be honest and scientific in your
angles. It won’t be yours anymore. A screen- until it’s on the screen. approach, and conjure something up for
play is meant to serve its collaborators. Which is exactly why we have to get notes. your readers, your movie’s already on its
That was a fun lesson to learn on way. There’s an audience out there waiting
The Death of Dick Long. Andre Hyland took LISTEN TO NOTES for it. Just get to it. MM
his character, Earl Wyeth, and ran with him. FROM TRUSTED SOURCES
He decided that Earl would consistently vape Share your work with people. First and
throughout the entire movie. As production foremost, it’s fun. You’ve been working in The Death of Dick Long opened in theaters
went on, the vaping began to feel like relative solitude or with a presumably small September 27, 2019, courtesy of A24.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 25


1
SCREENWRITING

JUST THE
TWO OF US
Stronger writer-director relationships
make stronger films. Queen & Slim
writer Lena Waithe and director
Melina Matsoukas break down why
B Y L E N A W A I T H E A N D M E L I N A M AT S O U K A S ,
AS TOLD TO CALEB HAMMOND

HE 33RD AFI FEST will ring

T in the end of the 2019 festival


season with Queen & Slim, the
latest from everywhere-at-once
multi-hypenate Lena Waithe and
music video giant Melina Matsoukas, with the
former taking on screenwriting duties and the
latter lending her unique visual eye for her
feature directorial debut. Though its premise
has often been described as a “Black
Bonnie & Clyde”—with Jodie Turner-Smith
as the titular Queen and Daniel Kaluuya as
Slim—Waithe and Matsoukas make clear that
the killing that sets Queen & Slim in motion
is one of self-defense, and therefore lacks the
freewheeling violence of the narratives it’s been
compared with. OF THE SAME STRIPE: “MORE WRITERS AND DIRECTORS SHOULD TAKE ON OUR VIBE,” SAYS QUEEN & SLIM
Waithe is best known as the creator of SCREENWRITER LENA WAITHE (R) OF HER CLOSE-KNIT COLLABORATION WITH DIRECTOR MELINA MATSOUKAS (L)

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDRE D. WAGNER / COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES


Showtime’s The Chi and for her work as
producer and star (in the role of Denise) of tween something aspirational and something should do together. The realization that this
Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. Her script for the harshly realistic. — C.H. was the first film for both of us only came
episode “Thanksgiving”—which follows Denise’s later, and by then I was confident that it
gradual coming out as a lesbian to her family— Lena Waithe (LW): The first time we ever could be really special.
was directed by Matsoukas, and won her an worked together was on “Thanksgiving,” our
Emmy. Her script for the episode “Thanksgiv- episode of Master of None. But even before Melina Matsoukas (MM): You write scripts
ing”—which follows Denise’s gradual coming that, we had met and had already struck up that are very visual in nature, and as a direc-
out as a lesbian to her family—was directed a chemistry over the phone. Working together tor, that affords me the space to let the script
by Matsoukas, and won her an Emmy. Behind felt natural very quickly. evolve into something that reflects my own
some of the most iconic music video images I’m not the kind of writer who writes with voice as well as yours.
of the 21st century, two-time Grammy winner certain actors or directors in mind; I just
Matsoukas worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, and try to write something and decide whether LW: I just had a gut instinct that
Snoop Dogg before stepping behind the camera or not there’s enough in the material to put Queen & Slim was the perfect movie for
for her first narrative feature. something honest on the page. So, I’m never you to direct, and I always trust my gut.
We asked Waithe and Matsoukas to share a thinking about who to work with until I’m
conversation on their unique writer-director done writing. I didn’t think about the impor- MM: We both trust our gut, but also trust
rapport, why more directors should keep their tance of this being your first feature, either. each other, and that trust comes from the
screenwriters involved throughout production, I just figured that, based my experience with fact that every conversation we have about
and how a screenplay can walk the line be- you on “Thanksgiving,” this was a movie we the script is purposeful. We didn’t discuss

26 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


OUTLAW OF ATTRACTION: THE DIVERGENT WORLD
VIEWS OF LOVERS AND PARTNERS IN CRIME QUEEN
(JODIE TURNER-SMITH, L) AND SLIM (DANIEL KALUUYA,
R) WERE MODELED AFTER MARTIN LUTHER KING AND
MALCOLM X, SAYS WAITHE

Queen & Slim. This film wouldn’t exist if it


wasn’t for both of us working in that way.

LW: I agree. And honestly, I think more writ-


ers and directors should take on our vibe,
because at the end of the day, the story starts
with the writer. I think that the reason a lot
of movies don’t end up working is because the
director and writer are so disconnected.
More directors should be asking writers
questions about their intent. I know every
writer is different and some don’t like the di-
rector consistently turning to them, but I enjoy
being on set, seeing how things are happening,
anything about Queen & Slim—the racial and being available to you in case you have a
identity of each character, the clothes they question. I might see a scene completely differ-

“At the end of the wear, what they think, feel, and say, how they
say what they say—without intent behind it.
ently and then you’ll say, “OK, I get that note,
let’s try it that way.” There’s no ego.

day, the story During the writing process, I think my job


is to be a supportive creative partner and MM: Once you take the ego out of the equation,
PHOTOGRAPH BY CAMPBELL ADDY / COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES

starts with the help move the story toward a place where I’m
feeling good about it. Moviemaking is very
the focus shifts away from yourself and onto
the narrative we’re all trying to create with the

writer. I think that


much like running a marathon: After you’ve same shared intention. And that love and pas-
kicked us off with the screenplay, you pass sion for the process makes its way on-screen.

the reason a lot of


the baton over to me in production and then
you transition into a supporting role. Once LW: Somebody might give me a note that’s

movies don’t end up


you hand over that script, I bring it to life by really good, and even if it’s not the best
adding the details that elevate the characters. for the story I want to tell, I’ll think, “Oh,
But both of us are playing lead and support- that’s interesting,” and end up going in a
working is because ing roles at different times in the process.
We also have conversations as you’re writ-
different direction with how to implement
that note. For example, during a personal
the director and ing that help me find and prep locations. I
love having a lot of creative options and it’s
conversation I had with Daniel, he told me
that his father once told him that black

writer are so sometimes hard for me to make a final deci-


sion, so I trust you to help me get there—to
excellence is a result of trauma—of black
people being so traumatized throughout

disconnected.” guide me to myself, in a sense. That’s defi-


nitely not true of every writer-director rela-
history that we feel we always have to be
perfect. So, I took that conversation and
tionship; I think it’s unique to ours. But that put it into the mouth of our character. This
dynamic was important to the storytelling in kind of “pulling” can come from a range

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 27


1
SCREENWRITING

of different things, but if it feels right, it’ll the initial goal, though. You don’t go in say- ROLE MODELS: ALONGSIDE MODEL-TURNED-
make its way into the movie. ing, “We’re going to create a classic, timeless ACTOR INDYA MOORE (R), BOKEEM WOODBINE’S (L)
CHARACTER IN QUEEN & SLIM PROCLAIMS ITS TITULAR
piece.” Achieving some kind of emotional
COUPLE TO BE “THE BLACK BONNIE AND CLYDE”
MM: When you lean on honesty as a storyteller, honesty or authenticity is the goal, and if
there’s no right or wrong—only what’s real. Still, the piece manages to do that, then it has
one of the ways in which you and I are similar a chance of moving the culture forward. focusing on character first and foremost.
is that although we both know the reality
of life, we also like to tell it in a beautiful way. LW: Yeah, it’s not like Berry Gordy walked into MM: Of course, a good understanding
“Realism” is sometimes associated with things Motown and said, “I want to make music that of character also develops with some sort
that are negative, dirty, or ugly, but we like lives forever.” Maybe that’s what he wanted to of education. That doesn’t necessarily have
to show how real life can also be beautiful… do, but ultimately what happened was that the to take place at a film school; your education
even if we’re finding the beauty in our suf- world reacted to it. Thelma & Louise became on the craft of moviemaking might just be
fering. What’s beautiful about your script for a phenomenon because women all over the a process of gathering experience and informa-
Queen & Slim is that it has everything: It’s real- world identified with its characters. tion on your own. I went to film school twice,
istic, but there are aspects that are fantastical Thelma & Louise was an inspiration, but at both the undergraduate and graduate level,
as well. Sometimes life feels like a nightmare Queen & Slim is not Thelma & Louise. Nothing and that worked for me, but there are many
and other times it feels like a dream. blows up, there aren’t a bunch of action se- different ways in which you can work toward
quences. A journalist recently told us that this is honing your craft.
LW: In Menace II Society, my all-time favorite a “meditation on black love,” and that is exactly
movie, the protagonist gets killed. It’s a rough what the film is. I’m now in a five year-plus LW: Generally, that’s one thing our white
scene to take, but it’s real, and the decisions he relationship, and although my relationship counterparts have over us: access to classes,
makes and the life he lives leading up to that is with another woman, our unique dynamic universities, film schools, drama schools… all
moment reflect the reality of what would’ve prompted me to explore what it means to be those things moviemakers of color don’t often
happened to a person like him. I respect that black and in love—having to deal with white have. I’ve learned that if you want to be a

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDRE D. WAGNER / COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES


approach, but I also respect something like supremacy, police brutality, and the fact that screenwriter, you should take an acting class,
Boyz n the Hood, in which Tre, played by there’s still a lack of freedom for black people in and if you want to be an actor, you should take
Cuba Gooding, Jr., decides not to make a bad this “land of the free.” We’re trying to show both a screenwriting class. I know, a lot of people will
decision and survives. Both movies are valid. the simplicity and complexity of blackness. It’s say, “Well, I ain’t got the money, blah, blah,
Ultimately, I like to be in your face, pushing rare that you get to see both in the same film. blah.” Where there’s a will, there’s a way. There
the envelope, saying, “Hey, this is the world we All I was working with initially when I met are lots of resources—all you’ve got to do is get
live in and it ain’t always pretty.” But other James Frey, who developed the story with me, on the computer and start Googling. When you
times it’s important to allow audiences to was the idea that a black man and black and I were coming up, you couldn’t just send
aspire, dream, and see good things. woman are on a first date; it’s not going hor- Spike Lee a DM on Twitter or tweet at
“Thanksgiving” was sort of an aspirational ribly but not great either; he drives her home; Shonda Rhimes. Now, you can put together a
piece—it was almost as if we were saying that they get pulled over by a cop who becomes ag- GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds to go to
everyone’s next Thanksgiving should be like gressive; they kill the cop in self-defense; and a screenwriting or acting class. My advice to
the one in the episode. That wasn’t my own rather than turn themselves in, they go on the moviemakers is pretty simple: You’ve got to be
happy ending, but I wish that it was. I want to run. That story seed was all I had, but that the best. Otherwise, no one will give a shit about
dream about a world in which black families was enough. Queen and Slim see the world what you want to do. You become the best by
embrace their queer children. So in that way, differently, and my prototypes for their world honing your craft. So, start acting on that. MM
screenwriting can be an aspirational pursuit. views were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
Both characters have similar life goals, but
MM: Creating something aspirational that each wants to take a very different route to Queen & Slim opens in theaters November 27,
speaks to what’s going on in the culture isn’t reach them. So, I approached this film by 2019, courtesy of Universal Pictures.

28 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


2
DEVELOPMENT
B Y E D W A R D N O R T O N , A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y

W
HEN YOU FINALLY FINISH writing, you of the modern era, Dick Pope. Amy came into the prep SAID THE ACTOR TO THE
get very lit up about what’s on the page— stage with her own visual look-book for the film; POPE: NORTON (R) KNEW
DURING PRE-PRODUCTION
with how cool it would be to walk one of I thought my producer must’ve tipped her off or some- THAT BRINGING DP
your characters into the old Penn Station… thing, because she had downloaded Robert Frank’s DICK POPE (L) ABOARD
but the problem is, the old Penn Station doesn’t ex- photographs of New York and pulled pictures by WOULD BE ESSENTIAL TO
ist anymore. Once you start to develop your movie on Vivian Maier as references for little set details that were MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ’S
SUCCESS
a budgetary and practical level, you might realize that the exact ones I loved. It’s important for your team to have
you’re tilting at windmills and you’ve set yourself up for a a natural grasp of the aesthetics you’re looking for.
nasty array of logistical challenges. There will be a lot of Everybody’s got their own unique frequency wave, but
moments where you have to be prepared to say, “I’m go- you have to get your entire crew to lock into the same
ing to have to come up with another way of shooting this one—to synchronize your vision, speak the same language,

PHOTOGRAPH BY GLEN WILSON / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES


location, because we’re not going to find that pool, or that and cooperate in the same dimensional space. When you
office, or that main reading room in the library.” feel that coming together, it’s pretty exciting. MM
We didn’t give these locations up when we made

“Once you start to develop


Motherless Brooklyn—they made their way into the film.
Still, figuring out how to do it for a price and get the cast
together took us about five years. I knew I needed to
get certain actors who were the type to make the studio
happy and secure financial backing, like Alec Baldwin, your movie on a budgetary and
practical level, you might realize
Willem Dafoe, and Bruce Willis, so my crew and I figured
out how to meet that goal. But then, when you get into

that you’re tilting at windmills and


the phase where the production is less hypothetical, you
now have to figure out the prep of it all. Early into our
roughly six-month prep period, we realized that without
spending a lot of money, we needed to take weeks to hunt
around New York for places that captured a sense of the you’ve set yourself up for a nasty
array of logistical challenges.”
city in that era that didn’t feel like a diorama.
PHOTO CREDIT

It’s crucial to bring people who are masters at their


tradecraft aboard your production. Motherless Brooklyn
had the cadre of production designer Beth Mickle, costume
designer Amy Roth, and one of the great cinematographers

30 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


Eight days. Thousands of new films
and projects. Countless opportunities
to discover what producers from
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N O V E M B E R 6 - 13 | S A N T A M O N I C A | A M E R I C A N F I L M M A R K E T . C O M
2
DEVELOPMENT
AND PRE-PRODUCTION

MAKING A WORLD
OF DIFFERENCE
Draw a physical map of your film’s world and choose
locations based on their distinctiveness, says Joker
production designer Mark Friedberg
BY MARK FRIEDBERG

I
passed on even reading Joker ROT TEN BIG APPLE When I first met with Todd I pitched an
a few times before I finally sat Joker is set in 1981. Nothing in the story unforgiving view of this version of Gotham:
down with the script. It wasn’t refers to any particular history, but it gritty, hard… the version of NYC that
that I had better offers, but was clearly set in a decaying major city Travis Bickle and Rupert Pupkin prowled.
rather that I had already done one superhe- with high crime, crumbling poorer neigh- I didn’t think we should particularly stylize
ro movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and borhoods, and trash piled high. I was born the world. It should look, I thought, like our
had decided that the genre was not for me. in New York City in the early 1960s, so the crew tumbled out of a van and just started
Usually I try to work on the kinds of films setting of this story was one I know— shooting. Todd’s vision was already aligned
that I would go see myself. I don’t mind essentially, it was the place and time during with mine; he had no interest in tempering
fantasy, but I prefer a version of the world which I became me. anything I pitched. We were going for it—
more rooted in gravitational realities. I’ve made three movies recently that “the big swing,” as Todd would say.
Still, the script for Joker kept calling out are set in the decaying NYC of the 1970s.
to me from my desk. Every day there was It seems to be in the air: Todd Haynes’ PUT TING DOWN ROOTS OF EVIL
a new reason to consider it. I had once had Wonderstruck and Barry Jenkins’ I used to teach a class called
a great experience working with producer If Beale Street Could Talk were both stories “My Best Design Tool is My Car.” That’s
Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who called me in which that NYC period is a main character where I started all my movies and where
about the project, and my good friend, mu- of the story. But neither of those stories re- I started to envision their worlds. So, in
sic supervisor Randall Poster, encouraged ally explored the creative possibilities offered keeping with the focus of that class, my first
me to read it. It was being made by by the darkness, the extreme decay, and the order of business was to survey the city—to
Todd Phillips and would be starring visual dissonance of that time in the way that see where we would set our roots and start
Joaquin Phoenix, so if he was interested, Joker did. I think we’re culturally curious defining Gotham City. Todd had us do a lot
something must be going on there. about the ’70s because it feels now like we of prep, and all that time allowed Todd,
Finally, it was going to be shot in may be re-entering a similar era of cultural our producers and scouts, DP Larry Sher,
New York City—which is not only where nihilism, and many of the themes of Joker and me to explore many versions of the
I live, but the city I’ve spent my life learning seem to be what is felt on the streets today— world we would create.
from. I cracked the script open and after a fraying of the social contract, things falling Gotham has always been a version of
one page, I was hooked. So, I spent the next apart. This comic story wasn’t polemic, NYC, but it hasn’t actually been NYC. In fact,
year living in Gotham City. but it definitely had a point of view. NYC has existed as another city in the DC

32 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


TRUE GRIT: DIRECTOR TODD PHILLIPS (L), STAR
JOAQUIN PHOENIX (R), AND THE REST OF THE JOKER
TEAM’S SHARED GOAL WAS CREATING A GRITTY AND
AUTHENTIC GOTHAM, SAYS PRODUCTION DESIGNER
MARK FRIEDBERG

UP HIS ALLEY: THOUGH HE WAS RELUCTANT TO


EVEN READ JOKER , THE SCRIPT’S BOLD EVOCATION OF
NEW YORK CITY CONVINCED FRIEDBERG TO JOIN THE
PROJECT

canon, alongside Gotham. In some versions


of DC lore, Gotham is a city on the Jersey
Coast, near Atlantic City. So even though we
weren’t making NYC, in our minds, we were.
Gotham had to be the essence of early-’80s
New York but also wholly its own entity.
On the first page of the script, Todd and
co-writer Scott Silver tell us that this gritty
world is real. It’s a place that’s down—it
smells, and the people in it are really
harsh. So, the stakes for main character
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), as they
are for us, are real. Arthur lives in the same
dehumanizing place as so many others, yet
for some reason what affects most people af-
fects Arthur more. Gotham oppresses Arthur
as much as anything in the film, so defining
this version of Gotham is what roots the
story. This version of Gotham is also a ver-
sion of Joker himself.

MAPPING THE VILL AIN’S JOURNEY


When you’re developing a film with many
geographical areas, each realm has to look
and feel distinct. We decided to map a new
version of Gotham over current New York,
based on the places Arthur passes through
on his journey. Ironically, while wealth
is concentrated and poverty on the rise,
our declining present-day NYC society lacks
the physical decay that was everywhere
in the ’70s, so we had to look hard to find it.
The story starts in Gotham Square,
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIKO TAVERNISE / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

a Times Square-like area in the center


of the city. Arthur journeys through various
versions of mass transit, subways, elevated
trains, and buses. He goes to the wealthy
financial areas, seedy Coney Island areas,
and then home to his own neighborhood.
We looked carefully in Brownsville and
East New York, but eventually decided
to center Arthur’s neighborhood in the
South Bronx. The South Bronx has come
a long way since the ’70s and thankfully is
still a very textured, multi-ethnic world. It’s

“When you’re developing a film with many also, topographically, a kind of maze—very
hilly with strange inter-building stairways

geographical areas, each realm has to look and back alleys that offered unique possibili-
ties for Arthur’s treks home. We toyed with

and feel distinct.” the idea of setting him in the projects, but
that felt too easy. We also liked the possibil-
ity that when his mother moved into their
tenement apartment, it might have been

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 33


2
DEVELOPMENT
AND PRE-PRODUCTION

nicer than it is when we meet them. Ulti- TREASURING TRASH:


mately, we settled on an old, Deco, six-story, IN JOKER , FRIEDBERG’S
FILTHY PRODUCTION
court-yarded building not too far from DESIGN REFLECTS
Yankee Stadium, and that became the ARTHUR FLECK’S
epicenter of Arthur’s world. (PHOENIX) INTERNAL
Location choices should reflect charac- STATE OF DECAY
ter development. The elevated subways
UNEASY STREET: THE
we feature in Joker are very “New York” BACKDROP FRIEDBERG
to those who live in outer boroughs, and CONSTRUCTED FOR

PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIKO TAVERNISE / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES


they also made Gotham feel more period ARTHUR (PHOENIX, R)
in a way. But most importantly, they AND LOVE INTEREST
SOPHIE (ZAZIE BEETZ,
provided a setting in which something is L) COULD FEEL
always hanging over Arthur’s head, bear- ROMANTIC... IF ONLY
ing down on him. ARTHUR WASN’T
The best locations are characters in and SUCH AN UNRELIABLE
NARRATOR
of themselves. To that end, it’s useful to chart
your film’s setting during the development
phase. In Joker, Gotham’s sky is filled with
creaking, dilapidated trains, and Arthur is entirety of Gotham, by area and by street. SET TING THE TONE
a mere speck of dust in a labyrinth of urban Some of your street names will only serve as Regardless of your film’s budget, finding
transit arteries. The above-ground subways references for you and your crew, but some— the right tone for each of your settings will
also dip underground in certain places, and such as the banners on buses or posted tran- always be a struggle.
Todd and I were interested in exploring that sit maps in Joker—may make it into your When it came to Arthur’s apartment
metaphorically. So, we decided to physically finished film. By assigning neighborhoods, (which is actually his mother’s), for instance,
map out the railway that moves Arthur from both real and storied, to each place your we wanted it to seem like it was once viable
place to place—the Gotham Transit System— character goes, you can figure out how all as a home. Arthur lived way uptown—in our
in order to send that idea home to our crew these pieces fit together on a detailed story world in the Bronx, but in Joker, a borough we
and, in turn, our audience. map, and how that both defines and explains named Otisburg. On stage, we built the inte-
In fact, we ended up mapping the his or her journey. rior building with its ridiculously long narrow

34 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FINAL CURTAIN: PHILLIPS (L) AND STAR ROBERT DE NIRO (R) PREPARE TO SHOOT SET DRESSED TO KILL: A HAPPY-FACED MURAL IN TALK SHOW HOST
JOKER ’S CHAOTIC CLIMAX ON A SET THAT RECREATES THE LOOK AND FEEL OF EARLY MURRAY FRANKLIN’S DRESSING ROOM (DE NIRO) BEARS DOWN ON ARTHUR (PHOENIX)
’80S LATE-NIGHT TV AS HIS SEETHING TRANSFORMATION INTO THE JOKER NEARS COMPLETION

hallway, dilapidated elevator, and the comic book version of Joker, he buys Amuse- them in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.
apartment itself, and matched this to the exte- ment Mile Park and holes up there, planning We had to dance around their regulations
rior architecture of the building in the Bronx. his ill deeds. We were not that interested in regarding graffiti and garbage, and also ended
Gotham Square was set on Market and the Joker of the comics, but we did want to ac- up shooting a lot of subway interiors on stage
Broad Street in Newark. Newark is undergo- knowledge the existing culture of Joker, so we with a giant VER system seen out the windows
ing a revival, but this intersection is the closest tried as much as we could to link our version as a kinetic backing.
place to 1980 Times Square that I know. The of Gotham to the comics version. We ended up We built the glamorous Wayne Hall bathroom
buildings there are literally falling apart, setting Ha-Ha’s under the elevated on stage, because there isn’t one as nice in all
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIKO TAVERNISE / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

there’s an old decayed theater… it looks like it West Side Highway on 136th Street and paint- of NY. We also constructed the set for the “Live
was once a beautiful urban square that’s ing giant Amusement Mile murals on the sides with Murray Franklin” talk show, hosted by
turned grim. of the buildings there. Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), on stage,
For the square, we added facades for porn Wayne Industries is a glorious, regal building a version of an old sound stage into our
theaters, built out various open and closed counterpoint to proletariat Gotham. We set brand-new Steiner Studio sound stage. In our
businesses, and added graffiti and lots of that at the Seagram Building, the classic story stage there were dressing rooms, a prop
garbage. (We had an entire department Park Avenue skyscraper designed by shop, scene shop, wardrobe, functional control
focused on garbage design and distribution.) Mies Van Der Roh. From that lobby you can room, back halls, front halls, an audience with an
The fact of the garbage strike is a story still see a great deal of Park Avenue, a place entrance off the street, and the studio set itself.
point, but also demonstrated the fraying of where Arthur is very out of place. We toyed We tried out many various stage designs before
the urban compact. with the idea of making Lincoln Center we ended up with one that captured the spirit
We joined forces with local street artist Wayne Hall, but thought it to be too NYC of classic late-night talk show sets.
and educator Malcom Rolling, who has been iconic, and ended up creating our own Ultimately, our decaying Gotham City, the
working on the streets of Newark for some Wayne Hall at a courthouse in Jersey City. character, and Arthur Fleck, the character,
time. Malcom’s work is beautiful, educational, We also shot the movie theater where the merge. When the social compact finally gives
and emotional: a perfect fit which gave our Waynes are cut down in Jersey City. In the way, Joker is born. MM
old Gotham contemporary relevance. case of the latter, we extensively restored an
Ha-Ha’s Talent Booking, a comedy talent old Loews Playhouse.
agency where Arthur auditions, was originally Since subways were a main character Joker opened October 4, 2019, courtesy
on the boardwalk at Coney Island. In one in Joker, we worked with the city to shoot of Warner Bros. Pictures.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 35


2
DEVELOPMENT
AND PRE-PRODUCTION

HOW TO STOP
WORRYING AND
LOVE THE PROCESS
Develop your feature by marketing the process of
development with this guide from a moviemaker who did it
B Y S E R G I O U G U E T D E R E S AY R E

about and create something meaningful?


HEN IT COMES TO a medium like film where there must Personally, I don’t make cookie-cutter projects and I’m not ob-

W be a balance between commerce and art, the industry


is not keen on taking risks, and even though there
is a call for more diverse storylines, roles, and characters,
there are limits. Inclusion is usually decided for marketing purposes
sessed with the ROI, partly because I strive to make evergreen films
with a longer lifespan that will hopefully bring in recurring revenue
in the long term. In an industry obsessed with short term gains,
going this route can be lonely and frustrating, but it helps to keep
for specific target audiences, and it’s common nowadays to use special in mind that films that have gone on to become trendsetters were made
software that will analyze the elements of a project and compare them in the fringes until it became obvious that they were bankable—in turn,
with precedents in order to determine the viability and the likelihood of causing independent cinema to become mainstream.
turning a profit. (Before we know it, A.I. will be writing scripts and ac- Director Miguel Llansó and I have made our film, and it’s glorious.
tors will just be computer-generated avatars, but that’s a different story.) It’s called Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, and it’s everything
Imagine you’re producing a film where your protagonist is a four- we wanted and more. In fact, Variety’s Dennis Harvey wrote: “It is un-
foot-tall Ethiopian with the talent of an A-lister, but who doesn’t speak questionably not quite like anything else before it (excepting perhaps
English and has a physical deformity. Imagine that you’re mixing Crumbs), and that’s a virtue from which cult followings are born.”
different formats to create a cartoonish pastiche with a sci-fi storyline Miguel and I have known each other since we were fourth-graders
that’s slightly too intellectual for mainstream media, and that the type in Madrid, Spain. We grew up together, we played in a punk rock
of movie you’re making doesn’t have a precedent. You start pitching band together, and now we make films together. If you’re not build-
and soon realize that there’s little interest among your peers in making ing a community with your moviemaking friends your career won’t
unconventional stories. Inclusion is great… as long as it has an imme- go very far. You also want your collaborators to hype up your film,
diate upside. If not, then it’s “too niche.” The biggest praise you might and that will only happen if they feel emotionally invested in it.
receive is on “your bravery,” an expression that industry people use Prior to making Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway,
to basically say you’re a naive kamikaze who’s likely to crash and burn. we made a feature called Crumbs—an Ethiopian sci-fi love story
However, as a producer, you need to ask yourself what type that played close to 150 festivals and screenings, premiered
of films do you want to make? Will you be limited by a risk-averse in Rotterdam International Film Festival to critical acclaim,
industry that follows the laws of an algorithm and create films that and went on to have a limited U.S. theatrical release. Not bad
feel manufactured? Or do you want to tell a story you’re passionate for a shoestring budget Amharic-language film.

“Ask yourself: What type of films do you want to make? Will you be
limited by a risk-averse industry that follows an algorithm and create
films that feel manufactured? Or do you want to tell a story you’re
passionate about and create something meaningful?”

36 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


2020 CALL F0R ENTRIES
OPENS NOV. 1, 2019
FILM FESTIVAL

ENTER CODE
MMxSIDEWALK
FOR 40% OFF
YOUR SUBMISSION FEE
ON FILMFREEWAY

COME TO JESUS MOMENT: TO FUND


JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY ,

LEARN MORE AT
PRODUCER SERGIO UGUET DE RESAYRE AND
DIRECTOR MIGUEL LLANSÓ (R) INSERTED
THE FILM’S MARKETING INTO THE
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

GETTING WITH THE PROGRAM: LLANSÓ


SIDEWALKFEST.COM
AND HIS TEAM USED THE INDIE FILM FESTIVAL
CIRCUIT TO GAUGE WHETHER THEIR

OnSET
HIGH-RISK PROJECT WOULD STICK, SAYS
UGUET DE RESAYRE

MVPS OF DEVELOPMENT DON’T PL AY BY OLD RULES


During that time, I had also been getting acquainted with “growth
hacking”—a strategy used by the tech industry that establishes the new
rules of marketing. One key idea of growth hacking is to insert your
film’s marketing into the development process and to release “MVPs”
(minimum viable products) so that your final product will be shaped
through the input of its audience. Hollywood has shifted to this mind-
NYC FILM SCHOOL
www.onsetfilmschoolnyc.com
set, which is why projects need to be backed by intellectual property
that has been successfully tested and validated in front of an audience.
In other words, books, comics, news stories, YouTube series, etc. have
all become Hollywood’s minimum viable products. In Europe, things
are still different: There, the bureaucrats handing out the soft money
are the ones who decide what gets made. On a macro level, Crumbs In year 1 you will learn the business and the creative
and Miguel’s previous short films were our MVPs, but the beauty via exclusive access to industry professionals
of growth hacking is that the system can be scaled to every process—
including the making of the film itself. This is how we tackled the
End of year 1 you will hands-on PRODUCE a feature film
production of Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway.
from script to distribution on the screen
If, like us, you’re relying on so many visual elements to tell your
Your tuition is a 100% (+15%) recoupable investment in that film
story, your biggest problem will be that your script and pitch deck
COURTESY OF LANZADERA FILMS

will likely not do justice to what your final movie would look like. -- It’s like paying for Film School, and the Film School pays you back --
You have to show people your vision, and the only way of doing
LEARN FROM THOSE WHO DO - OWN YOUR EDUCATION
that is to shoot parts of the film. This made us aware that mak-
ing Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway would be a lengthy
Upon completion we will help place you in the marketplace
process with scarce resources.
via our partners at EMMY AWARD WINNING
You have to mentally prepare yourself for development so that you
can roll through the rejections while working steadily toward your PIPELINE ENTERTAINMENT
goals. We did it in three years, for under €500,000 ($550,975) and www.pipeline-talent.com
without needing to cashflow large sums of money. While our film was

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 37


2
DEVELOPMENT
AND PRE-PRODUCTION

still a work in progress, we were able to secure our WORKING THE CROWD
major premieres without much effort. We did all this
by changing our mindset on how films are produced.
SERGIO’S FIVE TIPS In order for all this to work, you have to raise
your project’s profile by creating notoriety while
The main idea became that we would develop a proj- FOR DEVELOPING you’re making it. We defined several targets: the
ect as a small MVP that would help us shape the film audience, journalists, festival programmers, sales
as we made it. As long as we kept the cost of each YOUR FEATURE agents, distributors, producers and collaborators,
stage low, we could minimize the risk since our plan and film commissioners—especially those available
B, if we failed, was to adapt whatever material we
had into a sellable format, such as a short episodic 1 If a pitch deck won’t do
justice to what your final
movie will look like, show
in places where the story was set.
It’s useful to create stages for your film’s develop-
digital series for online platforms. ment phase and set milestones to continuously vali-
people your vision by shoot-
This type of approach allows you to focus date what you’re doing. For our first stage, we scraped
ing parts of the film early.
on producing the next leg of the production and not up €3,000 ($3,300) to shoot some of the Ethiopian

2
the entire thing, which makes things easier. Release “MVPs” (mini-
sequences so that we could cut it with the stop-mo-
It also opens up new opportunities. After the mum viable products)
tion sequence in order to create a teaser that would
completion of each leg, you can use what you such as a proof of concept,
double as a proof of concept. We shot actual scenes
have to raise the needed resources for the follow- short, or other content that
from the script with the intention of using them. We
ing stage, and so on, until you’re able to complete invites viewer feedback so
released the teaser among our networks, through
it. For our film the separation was easy, since that your final product will be
social media, YouTube, and Vimeo and tracked the
Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is shaped through the input of
reach of the concept. We also wanted to leverage the
a sci-film that happens in different dimensions its audience.
audience we had accumulated with Crumbs and the
that have different textures (stop-motion, 16mm, teaser in order to crowdfund the next step of produc-
video, etc.) and takes place in contrasting loca-
tions—so different that we shot in four countries. 3 Accept either resources,
financial backing, or both
only as investments in equity.
tion. We had a Kickstarter campaign with the low
goal of €15,000 ($16,425), an amount we thought was
Imagine that: a shoestring budget mega-produc- reasonable and feasible. We also knew that the non-

4
tion of epic proportions. (If you’re going Create stages for your financial rewards from crowdfunding were almost
to be “brave,” be the bravest.) film’s development phase as valuable as money. After all, if we didn’t reach our
and set milestones to contin- goal, we could have dropped the project entirely, as
DON’T GO CHASING WATERFALLS uously validate what you’re we would have not been able to justify an audience.
We made a series of decisions that set the founda- doing.
tion for our production. One was that we would MEET MARKET
accept either resources, financial backing, or both
only as investments in equity and that we would stay 5 Mentally prepare your-
self for a lengthy pro-
cess with scarce resources
As the evolving film industry leans into the
growth hacking type of development, the inde-
away from waterfalls. We would commit our time pendent film festival circuit and its development
and, if needed, our own money as equity. Money and and reluctance from outside platforms have also become the breeding ground
the value of the resources, including labor, would organizations so that you for mainstream media. These platforms, spon-
have equal value in the equity of the film and there- can roll through the rejec- sored by film festivals, are the perfect place to see
fore in the distribution of profits. This would incen- tions while working steadily if your high-risk project sticks. There are many
tivize small investments from a larger pool of people toward your goals. such platforms, but since we were making a sci-fi
but also allow for collaborators to provide resources film, we applied to Frontières, a genre film market
and services all while spreading out the risk. that bridges the American way of making films

38 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


SLUG HERE

FILM & VR FESTIVAL

FUNDING OFF THE BAT: SOME DONATIONS TO with the European way,
JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY ’S and a venture between
KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN WERE REWARDED
two major institutions in
WITH A T-SHIRT FEATURING THE FILM’S BATFRO
(SOLOMON TASHE, L) CHARACTER independent cinema—the
Montreal-based Fantasia
ANARCHRIST: AS ROY MASCARONE, International Film Festival
STAR GUILLERMO LLANSÓ (L) PLAYS AN and Cannes Film Festival’s
ANARCHIST LEADER WITH A GOD COMPLEX IN
JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY “Marché du Film.” By the
time we applied, we had

GET YOUR FILM,


a tested proof of concept, cash in hand from the crowdfunding cam-
paign, and a few articles and press references on the project, so our

SCRIPT, OR VR
odds of getting invited were quite high. We got in.
Frontières proved there was festival interest in the project. But
once inside, we needed industry professionals to validate the film.

DISCOVERED
In order to properly shape the film, we needed their feedback… and
that’s harder to get than it may seem.
We split these professionals into two categories: On the one hand,
there are stable employees who look for content they can streamline.
On the other hand, there are the mavericks who are always look-
ing for the next big thing. We didn’t do well with people in the first
category; their accolades for our “bravery” became redundant.
So, to earn the support of people in the second category, we went
through connections made at Frontières. The market happens in two
stages: First, you have the forum in a hotel somewhere in the world,
and then, if you’re able to complete a proof of concept in time, you
pitch in Cannes. We already had our proof of concept, so I pitched
our film in Cannes. By then, our notoriety was quite high, which
helped us secure some soft money from the Estonian Film Institute
through our Estonian co-producer, Alasti Kino. From there, we used
the money we crowdfunded to pay for the Ethiopian leg of the film
and the Estonian money to pay for the Estonian leg of the film.
We found Mojo Raiser Productions from Latvia, who came aboard
by servicing the Latvian leg of the film for equity. Andy Starke from
Rook Films, a producer who had participated in our edition of
Frontières with a different project, came aboard as executive producer
and gave us some funding from his BFI corridor. Combined, this gave us
all the resources needed to complete principal photography.
During Frontières, we met the team at Avanpost, a post-production
house in Romania, and they agreed to give us post services in exchange for
equity. Whenever we had a gap in our funding, it was so small that we could
cover it ourselves and prevent the project from stalling.
COURTESY OF LANZADERA FILMS

And with that, my friends and I made


Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway—“The Matrix on acid,”
a brave, low-budget epic that will grow as it finds an audience…
or maybe not. We have a decade to find out. MM

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway has played the festival circuit
in Canada, Finland, France, and Switzerland and had its U.S. premiere 1
at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 2019.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 39


3
PRODUCTION
B Y E D W A R D N O R T O N , A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y

HEN YOU’RE IN PRODUCTION as an actor, At the start of the shoot, every director says to the crew, FRIEND AND DAFOE:

W you want to be out of your head and in your “We’re making a great movie!,” and the crew thinks, NORTON (R) SAYS
THAT CASTING
senses, working in an unconscious space. “Yeah, we’ve done this dance before. Yours might be good, NIMBLE ACTORS LIKE
When you’re in production as a director, it might not be. But we’re here.” And if you walk on set WILLEM DAFOE (L)
you want to be in an analytical headspace. as a director with your head in their hands, then the kind ALLOWED HIM TO
So if you happen to be doing both, that schizophrenia of thinking that metastasizes to everybody else is, “Let’s MORE EASILY WEAR
MULTIPLE HATS ON
is like taking a record and flipping it over every few min- get a coffee while he figures out what he’s doing.”
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
utes to change the needle. Making Motherless Brooklyn, I took a page from
The funny thing is, if I was directing a movie that Wes Anderson and Spike Lee’s playbooks: I came in by say-
I wasn’t acting in, I think I could do a good job of creating ing, “On day one, that graph you have on your phone—we
the bubble of illusion and focus that actors need. But the will be doing it. No questions, no talk, no nothing. That’s

PHOTOGRAPH BY GLEN WILSON / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES


horror of making Motherless Brooklyn was that since what we’re doing first.” People then think, “OK, since this
I was both directing and starring in it, I became my own is what we’re doing, now it’s on me. I’m not figuring things
source of distraction. And I knew before going into the out; it’s already figured out.” When your team sees that
shoot that directing myself would create distractions that you’re going stick to that plan, a whole set of expectations
were less than desirable, so I very purposefully didn’t cascades through everybody. They start saying, “I don’t
work with anybody who would be needy or demand an want to be the cog in the machine that breaks down. This
overly precious environment. I couldn’t have actors who is a thing that’s moving on plan, so we need to be on plan,
weren’t nimble: They needed to be stagecraft pros who too.” That’s when things really start to roll. MM
could deal with a constantly fractured experience as

“When your team sees that


I worked on a scene, popping out to survey other aspects
of production and then coming back to talk with them

you’re going stick to that plan,


about it analytically, switching right back into gear.
Wearing multiple hats during production does have
its upsides. If you’re giving a performance that has
an inherent strangeness, as I do in Motherless Brooklyn,
it’s good to know that you’ll have the chance later a whole set of expectations
to shape it yourself editorially. You feel more free to be
experimental because you don’t have to have any part
of your brain thinking, “Oh God, I hope the director
cascades through everybody.”
doesn’t use that take!”

40 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


LOS ANGELES
VANCOUVER
NEW MEXICO
UTAH
NEW ORLEANS
CHICAGO
A TL ANTA
TORONTO

www.keslowcamera.com
DRIVING
3 PRODUCTION

IT HOME
Even if you’re shooting at 200 miles
per hour, technique matters less than
a human touch behind the camera,
says Ford v Ferrari cinematographer
Phedon Papamichael
BY PHEDON PAPAMICHAEL, ASC, GSC

T
HE WAY I SEE cinematog- I shot and edited a bunch of movies and ows and textures on walls in a similar style.
raphy, and moviemaking in tried to sync music to them by stopping and This was the first time I wrote down
general, is how I see life: If you starting a cassette player as I played back a cinematographer’s name.
don’t have a point of view, you my footage. I realized quickly that Super
probably won’t have anything interesting to 8 wasn’t a high-quality format and transi- HUMAN INTEREST
say. Your point of view is an accumulation of tioned: I bought my first 35mm still camera I don’t consider myself a craftsman at all.
everything you’ve experienced in life. So any and delved more seriously into photography. I barely know where the on/off switch is on
“Complete Guide to Making Movies” must I wasn’t a professional still photographer, my camera and I don’t know anything about
begin with who you are as a person. but I did have some pictures published in gamma curves, nor do I care about any of
I was always drawing from an early age. magazines. that. I want to focus, here, on the human
Initially I wanted to be a painter, and then My turning point in becoming a cinema- aspects of cinematography. You can always
an industrial designer. One day, in a ski tographer—and not a photographer—was learn the technical aspects by reading and
cabin while everybody in my family was when I saw Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris practicing them, but it’s the non-technical
asleep, I picked up a Super 8 camera that (Contempt in English). Raoul Coutard shot it aspects that make you a good moviemaker.
I saw lying on the table. I still remember in widescreen Cinemascope color, it starred I tend to work with directors who have the
the moment I decided to pick it up: I was Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, and Michel same humanist approach toward moviemak-
fascinated with framing. I started walking Piccoli, and Fritz Lang played himself in ing. With Alexander Payne, for instance,
around the ski cabin at night, making my the film. I was fascinated by the film’s long, there’s no pressure: You love going to work
own impromptu movie in shots, just walk- lateral camera movements, its many wide- and everyone is in harmony. Enjoying a
ing around and framing things up. I was shots, the symmetry of its framing, and its good dinner and a bottle of wine with your
instantly in love. very graphic nature. It actually resembled crewmembers is every bit as important as the
I asked my mom to buy me a Super 8 my still photography work, which consisted other aspects of prep. The goal is to under-
camera and I got one for my next birthday. of graphic primary color surfaces and shad- stand how your collaborators think about

42 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


“It’s important
not to distract
audiences with
fancy camerawork
and lighting. Don’t
fight natural light
—embrace the
limitations of your
location. Just
because your
lighting isn’t hyper-
stylized doesn’t
mean your film won’t
be cinematic.”
story and character—about being human. SHOW OF G-FORCE: TO CAPTURE DRIVER KEN MILES’ American automotive engineer
In Europe, where I’m originally from, (CHRISTIAN BALE, R) EXPERIENCE BEHIND THE WHEEL Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British
things are a little different because we OF AUTO ENGINEER CARROLL SHELBY’S (MATT DAMON, driver Ken Miles’ (Christian Bale) mission
L) RACECAR, FORD V FERRARI DP PHEDON PAPAMICHAEL
all think of ourselves as moviemakers: The HAD TO SHOOT BALE IN CLOSE-UP WITH MOUNTED to build a Ford racing car that will dethrone
director is a moviemaker and the cinema- CAMERAS Enzo Ferrari’s (Remo Girone) at the 1966
tographer is, equally, a moviemaker. I’ve 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. On
PHOTOGRAPH BY MERRICK MORTON / COURTESY OF TWENTIETH

worked on movies in eastern Europe where on every movie. There’s no rules for how Ford v Ferrari, one of our primary visual
the director will be set dressing in the back to approach it. A lot of directors really talk goals was to bring the audience inside what
and I’ll be designing the blocking and laying the talk when you meet them, and then is essentially a death trap—a small metal
track. The only distinction between us is when you get on the set they turn out to be box loaded with fuel and going 200 miles
that I am there to tell our story visually, but complete morons, so it’s hard to know what per hour, vibrating and loud as hell. On tele-
otherwise the director-cinematographer situation you’re really getting into before- vision, auto racing is usually presented with
relationship is loosely defined. But when hand. Eventually, though, you can find a long lens panning from high up above the
you’re working on a studio picture, you’re directors in Hollywood who want to make action, which takes away the impression
CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION

one cog in a big machine, and your role and the same kind of movies you do. of speed. So, we knew that communicating
function are much more specific. the speed and intensity of that experience
Being a director of photography in TIGHT R ACE, TIGHT FACE required us to film close with wide lenses.
Hollywood is only 50 percent about knowing James Mangold and I have become We shot the car scenes with a wide vari-
your craft. The other 50 percent is politics. simpatico over the years, and we’ve ety of angles and approaches, but our hard-
That doesn’t mean you have to kiss ass and made five features together—Identity, mounted cameras—sometimes used four at
suck up to everybody, but you do have to Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, once, with wide lenses positioned close to
know your way around studio people and Knight and Day, and most recently, Christian’s face—were our most essential
producers, and that process is different Ford v Ferrari, a biopic that follows tools to convey the film’s visual grammar.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 43


3
PRODUCTION

It was our job to expose Christian to the “visual grammar” was rooted in the experi- always one perfect spot for the camera to
G-forces, vibrations, and interactive light of ence of being Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) sit for each setup. (Boom down an inch or
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MERRICK MORTON / COURTESY OF
the racetrack. Getting his facial expressions on stage, romancing June Carter two and it just doesn’t feel the same.) At
amid this action was also key, since his char- (Reese Witherspoon), as opposed to the the same time, as a cinematographer, you’re
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION

acter is often yelling to other drivers who experience of being at a Johnny Cash concert always trying to be efficient: You’ve got to
can hardly hear him, rendering dialogue in the fifth row. In Walk the Line, our camera measure these things while taking every
secondary in our racing sequences. When is on stage with Johnny and June, looking other factor into account, and know wheth-
all of your actor’s emotions—including some out to see what they see: the audience. The er or not it’s important for you to fight for a
that are tied to crucial story points—are camerawork is improvisational; if you’re certain framing or movement at any given
there on his face, you’ve got to be right operating in a situation like this, you won’t time. That comes with experience—with
there, super-tight, to capture it. Christian’s know which way the actor might move next, making mistakes and learning from them.
performance was an inspiration. or whether a spotlight will smash into the James and I have worked with natural
lens. Finding those magical moments is what light quite a bit, which is how I’ve tended to
BRINGING YOUR AESTHETIC TO LIGHT inspires me as a moviemaker, and that kind work most throughout my career. I can trace
In this way, James and I were reminded of spontaneity became the film’s aesthetic. that approach back to the films I liked
of our work on Walk the Line—a film whose Over the years, I’ve found that there’s when I first started, from moviemakers like

44 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


HEARTS OF GOLD: LIKE KEN (BALE, C) AND HIS RACE SHOULDER TO THE WHEEL: WHEN SHOOTING STARS
TEAM, DPS AND THEIR CREWS SHARE IN THE GLORY OF LIKE DAMON, PAPAMICHAEL SAYS HE PAYS SPECIAL
CREATIVE COLLABORATION, SAYS PAPAMICHAEL ATTENTION TO WHERE THEIR SPONTANEOUS CHOICES
CAN STEER A TAKE

popped when we combined the camera I’ve had is theirs as well. It’s essential to
with period glass. Our approach brought have crewmembers you can trust and
to mind Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography depend on.
in The Right Stuff, which lends a certain A movie is made in a hundred different
hard light quality to a sequence in which test ways. You can give the same script
pilot Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) crashes to 100 directors and 100 directors
in the desert. We embraced that we couldn’t of photography and you’ll get 100 different
control every aspect of our light sources and films. Despite our best efforts, moviemaking
the result was beautiful. is a human endeavor and it doesn’t always
turn out perfectly. Ford v Ferrari is the
A DIRECTOR’S CUT combined result of hundreds of smart,
IS A CREW CUT, TOO experienced moviemakers working toward
Of course, not everything is just about the same goal and believing in the vision
James, the actors, and me. You can’t make of its director. It’s the result of countless
a film like Ford v Ferrari without your crew, conversations, arguments, laughter, and
and assembling and leading a crew is an tears shared over many years. And it’s
under-appreciated aspect of a DP’s job. those human aspects that make
What gaffer Mike Bauman and key moviemaking such a satisfying
grip Ray Garcia did on this shoot was undertaking. MM
amazing; we made the film in
64 days, and their skill, dedica-
John Cassavetes, Robby Mueller, and tion, and show of solidarity Ford v Ferrari opens November
Wim Wenders. I prefer not to stylize a film during that time made it 15, 2019, courtesy of Walt Disney
too much unless it’s called for; I’d rather possible. I’ve worked Studios Motion Pictures.
not get in the way of the story and keep the with some of my
visuals as simple as possible. To portray your lead crew people
film’s characters in a way that feels real, it’s on more than
important not to distract audiences with 30 films, and
fancy camerawork and lighting. Don’t fight any success
natural light—embrace the limitations
of your location. Just because your lighting
isn’t hyper-stylized doesn’t mean your film PLACE IN THE SUN:
PAPAMICHAEL AND DIRECTOR
won’t be cinematic. JAMES MANGOLD HAVE FILMED
On Ford v Ferrari, we used the ARRI LF— WITH NATURAL SOURCES
a camera that handles low light especially THROUGHOUT THEIR CAREERS,
well. James and I were happy with the con- AND THEIR LIGHTING OF BALE (L)
AND DAMON (R) IN FORD V FERRARI
trast, hard sunlight, and the way the whites
IS NO EXCEPTION
3
PRODUCTION

TALES OF
THE TAPE
Shooting for an old-school aesthetic?
Don’t start without this guide
to assembling your analog arsenal
from a DP who did it
B Y F I D E L R U I Z- H E A LY

LD CAMERA technology

O is something I like to collect


and not let die. From vintage
lenses to the camera bodies
themselves, I’m always look-
ing for a chance to justify using equipment
that isn’t the first that comes to mind TUBE TAKES: DP FIDEL RUIZ-HEALY HANGS OUT BETWEEN TAKES ON THE SET OF “TWO WORDS,” WHICH HE SHOT
for making a film. As a moviemaker, I don’t WITH AN ARRAY OF ANALOG EQUIPMENT INCLUDING TUBE CAMERAS
just settle on what’s new and shiny at the
rental house, unless I can justify those
are the tools a film needs.
So, when director and frequent collabora-
tor Jordan Michael Blake came to me with
his idea for “Two Words,” a short film cen-
tered around a 1980s-style public access game
show, we knew immediately that this was
the perfect opportunity to explore the analog
video styles that would capture the unique
visuals we were looking for. After asking ev-
eryone we knew who might have experience
with analog video and spending lots of time
on eBay and at Goodwill stores, we settled SONY DXC-3000 (CCD CAMERA) SONY DXC-M3A (TUBE CAMERA)
on two different ’80s broadcast cameras:
one CCD camera and one tube camera. and ’80s use either tubes or CCD sensors. iterations since their heyday, and as a result,
Because these cameras are out of use, Within these formats, you’ll be presented most folks lump these various formats
they cost us about $30 total (lenses included). with many different forms of media capture, together into the category of that “old TV” or
The real cost was the countless hours we had from Betacam, to VHS, to MiniDV, to Hi8, “home video” look. When we’re talking about
to spend rigging a solution that would allow to U-matic. None of these formats is neces- tube cameras, the “tubes” in question are the
us to capture these outdated video signals sarily superior to another; they all come with video tubes based on Cathode-Ray Tubes—or
to a modern-day external recorder. We knew their own quirks, distinctive aesthetics, CRTs—which is the same technology power-
if we did, we could capture that trademark and hoops to jump through to get your ing those glowy CRT TV sets we all had in the
PHOTOGRAPHS BY FIDEL RUIZ-HEALY

video glow—the softness and chromatic footage onto a hard drive and into your ’90s. The difference is that instead of display-
aberration you can’t get through any other editing software of choice on a budget. ing images, these tubes help capture them.
modern process. To create our own overlay At this point, you may be asking yourself To shoot “Two Words,” we used three differ-
effects that we used throughout the film, what a tube camera, or a CCD camera, even ent analog cameras. For the scenes depicting
we took advantage of one of the tube camera’s is. Unless you shot TV in the ’80s or you’re the game show, we shot on a Sony DXC-M3A,
key assets—its ability to create light streaks an avid enthusiast of digital camera history, which uses three ⅔" saticon tubes. For our
when pointed at a hard light source. you probably don’t have the slightest clue sequences that take viewers behind the scenes
about tubes and might only have a mere of the game show, we shot with a Sony DXC-
FORMATS nostalgic recollection of CCDs. 3000, which uses a ⅔" CCD sensor. And lastly,
Most analog video cameras from the ’70s Analog digital cameras have had many for our scenes that show would-be contestants’

46 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


submission videos, we used a JVC VHS You may have to start with an awkward
video camera, which was considerably easier and strange phone call, but you might find
to digitize than the professional broadcast someone willing to lend you a camera that
cameras (more on that in a bit). they haven’t used in years. (I lucked out
When choosing which format or camera with this approach and had some cameras
is best suited for your project, browse lent to me while I was still learning about
YouTube or Vimeo to get a sense of what tube cameras and testing out my rig.)
each has to offer. Unfortunately, you won’t
find a “camera shootout” that tests all these CAPTURING YOUR IMAGE
cameras scientifically, side-by-side, so search Capturing the image onto a computer
each camera specifically, then scroll through is often its own journey. Formats that record
dozens of videos until you come across one onto a physical tape are easy to digitize, since
that’s been captured and uploaded through “TWO WORDS” DIRECTOR JORDAN MICHAEL BLAKE
they typically have digital “Capture Stations”
modern means. This approach is by no TESTS THE CC CAMERA THAT RUIZ-HEALY BOUGHT FOR available to either rent or buy.
means a 1:1 of what to expect, but it will give $12 AT GOODWILL Broadcast cameras are a whole differ-
you a sense of the nuances of each camera ent story since they don’t actually record
you’re considering before you acquire them. eras secondhand and don’t know what they anything. In the old days, they’d send their
are. My go-to keywords when the specific video signals up to big control rooms which
HUNTING THESE CAMER AS DOWN camera model didn’t produce results were: would capture the video onto spinning reels
It’s safe to say you’re not going to find “video camera,” “tube camera,” “broad- of magnetic tape. On “Two Words,” we knew
any of these outdated broadcast cameras cast camera,” “vintage video camera,” and we’d have to MacGyver some combination
at a rental house, and because they aren’t col- “movie camera.” The hundreds of results of converters, cables, and recorders to create
lected and cared for like film cameras, track- will be a bit daunting at first, but if you our own digital control room and get the
ing down one that’s in working condition is have the patience and know what specific footage onto a drive.
a project unto itself. If you’re only looking features and outputs you’re looking for, you Thankfully, a few years earlier,
for a miniDV or VHS camera—which aren’t might find a diamond in the rough. I screened a film alongside Nathan Silver’s
as old as some of the other formats—these Finally, the third option—that I’d recom- Stinking Heaven, which was also shot
can easily be found online in decent shape. mend only if you’re looking for a short on old broadcast cameras. Nathan’s DP
Finding a working tube camera or other large rental—is to reach out to your city or town’s Adam Ginsberg explained that they took the
broadcast camera, however, is more difficult. local video production companies and/or video signal from the camera’s VTR output,
The first and the safest route: Contact long-established news stations. Some converted it via RGB BNC cable so it could be
one of the few dedicated broadcast camera of the older production houses might have plugged into an AJA Digital Analog HD Con-
museums that might rent them to your a camera that’ll match your criteria col- verter, and finally captured onto an external
production. Broadcaststore.com or golden- lecting dust in a storage room somewhere. monitor/recorder. (That’s a mouthful, I know,
agetv.co.uk have a huge selection and can
provide everything you need to get rolling.
Still, these options can be pricey, so we
took a different approach for “Two Words,”
which was made in a decidedly DIY style.
The second, more budget-friendly route
(and the one I took) is to dig through every
used marketplace—online and in person.
Some of these marketplaces might include
Craigslist, eBay, OfferUp, Facebook Market-
place, Goodwill, etc. ShopGoodwill was my
personal saving grace: Through them, I was
able to purchase our cameras for less than
$30 (not counting the adapter cables and
additional accessories—power cables, bat-
teries, viewfinders—we needed to purchase).
As with all used online marketplaces, you’ll
probably end up buying an incomplete rig,
or a camera that needs some repair. Be on
the lookout when you buy, expect to face
technical problems, and prepare to assemble
what you need in piecemeal.
You’ll need to use many different search
queries to pull up everything available, GLOWING TERMS: TO SHOOT “GLOWY” SCENES FROM “TWO WORDS” LIKE THIS ONE, RUIZ-HEALY AND HIS TEAM
since many people are selling these cam- MADE SURE THEY WERE WELL-VERSED IN CAMERAS THAT CAN CAPTURE AN “OLD TV” AESTHETIC

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 47


3
PRODUCTION
GLOSSARY
THIS SCENE FROM CCD CAMERA: A camera that uses a digital sensor
called CCD (or charge-coupled device). Converts
“TWO WORDS,” SHOT ON light hitting the sensor into pixels that create an image.
TUBE CAMERAS, SHOWS Replaced tube cameras in the 1980s along with CMOS
OFF THE CAMERAS’ (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) cameras.
TRADEMARK LIGHT TUBE CAMERA: A form of capturing video that relied
STREAKS on using glass vacuum tubes to convert light into
electrical signals. Based on the technology that made
up old televisions until LEDs replaced them.
U-MATIC: The forerunner of VHS and Beta. Created in
the late ’60s, it was the first magnetic tape technology
that would keep the tape in a self-contained cassette.
VIDICON TUBES: A popular type of vacuum
tube used for capturing video until the late ’70s. It
contained a scanning beam that would shoot through
the glass, capturing an image and converting it to
an electrical signal.
PLUMBICON TUBES: A type of tube created by Phillips,
manufactured until 2016. Known for not requiring much
power, its high resolution, and its “soft” look. Unlike the
Vidicon tube, it would use lead as its photosensitive target.
SATICON TUBES: The Hitachi corporation’s version
of a video tube. Also used by Sony.
so check out the glossary for a crash course.) 3db—making the image brighter digitally, and NEWVICON: A type of video tube known for its high
Producers Greg Barnes and Tyler Walker with it bringing a lot of noise. Some MiniDV light sensitivity.
and the rest of our crew stepped up to put cameras perform well in low-light scenarios, FIREWIRE-TO-THUNDERBOLT ADAPTER: A type
of adapter that moves digital information between
the pieces together. We found a camera-spe- while tube cameras require that you blast “Firewire” ports and “Thunderbolt” ports.
cific analog control box at the same Goodwill huge lights onto the subject to get exposure. VTR (VIDEO TAPE RECORDER): A system for
as the camera, which had the RGB BNC For the scenes in “Two Words” that recording video onto magnetic tapes. This technology
eventually became the much hipster-beloved VHS tape.
outputs we needed (pictured below). were shot on our tube camera, I had around
VTR OUTPUT: A type of output that can send out
5K watts of tungsten light pouring onto the video tape signals.
subject and still had to boost the gain to RGB: Stands for Red, Green, and Blue. The most
get the exposure I wanted. Daylight will be common way of recording video in color, splitting an
image into three “channels”—one for red, another
your best friend. But if you find yourself in green, and third for blue. When these three channels
are laid on top of each other, it reproduces color. This
a more controlled situation, make sure you is still used today: If you zoom in really close on a TV or
have access to power and don’t be afraid monitor using your phone, you can see a grid of tiny
Red, Green, and Blue lights packed together.
of hard light. The other quirk about tube
BNC: A type of connector that uses a little sharp stick
cameras: You’ll have to manually adjust your (called a bayonet) and a circle that lightly screws in and
white balance by popping open the camera keeps it in place. Usually seen on an SDI cable.

or using the control box. Once the camera RGB BNC: A type of cable that carries the red channel,
the blue channel, and yellow channel with separate
is heated up, you’ll need to adjust each tube BNC connectors. Looks like Medusa: There’s one fat
through a dial that will balance the color. cable that separates into three skinnier cables.
AJA DIGITAL ANALOG HD CONVERTER: A box
SONY VTR CONTROL BOX created by the AJA company that can convert “analog”
TROUBLESHOOTING signals (such as tape) to 1s and 0s that can be read by
a computer. The “HD” means it can convert signals
We went from the camera, into this control If you run into problems, reach out to into a High Definition image (usually 1920 pixels wide
box, then into the AJA box’s RGB input to moviemakers who’ve done this before. Ask by 1080 pixels tall).
convert the analog signal into a digital one. them what their approach was, see if it’ll SD CONVERTER BOX: Another type of converter
box that turns analog signals into digital systems, but
After some trial and error, we turned the work for you. Find a camera test or short on creates a Standard Definition image (720 pixels wide
analog video signal into a digital signal. YouTube or Vimeo that uses a setup you’re by 480 pixels tall) less sharp than HD.

One final problem: Stinking Heaven used trying to re-create, then contact the person ANALOG CONTROL BOX: An external box that lets
you control the video signal from cameras. It’s not
an HD converter box, but our budget forced who did it. Your attitude must be DIY: Most part of the camera, and not all cameras had them, but
us to buy an SD converter box. Eventually, reading material online will help you identify it allows you to adjust brightness and color and send
video signals. Mostly used in old TV studios to control
we landed on the Sound Devices Pix 240, certain missing pieces, but it’ll also probably the cameras from the control room and plug them all in.
which recorded our image perfectly. be a few decades old and will only go so far SDI CABLE: A cable that carries video and audio
information, usually with a BNC connector.
Because of all the unknowns, I can’t stress in offering a modern-day approach.
RCA CABLE: ’90s kids will remember these familiar
enough to test, test, test, and have a backup Shooting on analog video isn’t easy. red, white, and yellow cables that came out of the back
PHOTOGRAPHS BY FIDEL RUIZ-HEALY

plan if the higher-quality and more practical, If you’re doing it, you’re doing it because these of DVD players and video game systems before HDMI
took over. The red and white cables carry audio and
yet more complicated route doesn’t work. formats have a particular quality that can’t be the yellow cable carries the video.
recreated in post. Just know it won’t be quick BNC-TO-RCA CONVERTER: A simple cable converter
SHOOTING AND EXPOSING FOR ANALOG VIDEO and painless… but it will be the real thing. that adapts RCA cables to a BNC (or vice versa).

After you’ve figured out your setup, you And delivering your audience the real thing ISO: The most common way of rating something’s
photosensitivity (or the amount of light it needs
should fit in some time for fundamental is worth the trouble. MM to create an image). Named after the International
exposure tests. Unlike film and modern Organization for Standardization. The bigger the
“ISO” number, the less light you need. For instance,
digital cameras, many of these old cameras if a piece of unexposed film or camera sensor is rated
at “200 ISO,” you should shoot outside with the sun or
don’t have a set ISO. Instead, they have the Fidel Ruiz-Healy’s work can be found with bright lights. If a piece of unexposed film is rated
option to add and remove gain in intervals of at fidelruizhealy.com and theASFC.com. at “1000 ISO,” you can shoot in darker rooms.

48 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


Pierce Law Group. . . who the
independents have depended on since 1996.
Production Counsel, Film Finance,
Private Placement Offerings &
Intellectual Property Matters.
Contact: David Albert Pierce, Esq.
(310) 274-9191
PIERCE LAW GROUP, LLP
9100 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 225, East Tower
Beverly Hills, California 90212
www.piercelawgroupllp.com
(888) 875-0756
3
PRODUCTION

HIDDEN DEPTHS

How can a director bring out an actor’s true self? A Hidden Life co-stars him in prison, the latter his wife whose faith
August Diehl and Valerie Pachner discovered the great Terrence Malick’s secrets is tested as their family becomes an object
of society’s scorn. Here, the two illustrate in
intimate detail how the creative curiosity,
B Y A U G U S T D I E H L A N D VA L E R I E P A C H N E R , A S T O L D T O A M I R G A N J AV I E happy accidents, and very long takes used
to tell this story were its director and actors’
best friends. — MM Editors
S LONG AS Terrence Malick those who love his films for personal gain.

A
continues to exclude himself He just genuinely isn’t interested in spelling August Diehl (AD): Working with Terrence
from the critical conversation out what he does or why or how he does it. Malick, you quickly find that his personal-
that his work inspires, the Of course, for us at MovieMaker, whose ity, perspective, and taste for life are all part
elusive auteur’s on-set motives guiding purpose is to share the “how”s of of the overall language he brings to his mov-
and methods will remain entirely open to the process with independents itching to do ies. He invites everyone around him to take
interpretation. Unlike a David Lynch—who these things themselves, a remote figure like part in a process of discovery.
shows up for occasional interviews to offer Malick can make the job harder than usual.
such tantalizing statements as “Eraserhead To fill in the blanks so often left open by his Valerie Pachner (VP): One of the most interest-
is my most spiritual film,” only to respond to communicative absence, we knew we had to ing things about working with Terrence was
COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

requests for elaboration with a resounding turn to those with whom he’s had an up close that he didn’t follow a strict routine. We did
“No,” Malick takes no stock in fashioning a and personal working relationship. Thank- have a call sheet, but every day would be dif-
puzzling persona for public consumption. fully, August Diehl and Valerie Pachner, the ferent. We might not end up doing the scene
Perhaps what makes Malick’s reputation for co-stars of the writer-director’s tender new that was on the call sheet; we would actually
almost never giving interviews perennially historical drama, A Hidden Life, volunteered have the freedom and the space to question
fascinating in the eyes of fellow moviemak- to paint a picture of what it’s like to live and the dialogue or atmosphere of a scene, rather
ers, critics, and audiences isn’t his conversa- learn on the set of a Terrence Malick film. than sticking only to what’s on the page. That
tional abstinence in and of itself, but rather In A Hidden Life, Diehl and Pachner play approach allows you to embody your charac-
that it feels completely natural. He doesn’t Franz and Franziska “Fani” Jägerstätter—the ter in a much deeper and more wide-ranging
wield the inscrutability of his work as a former an Austrian conscientious objector way—to explore the emotional, spiritual, and
marketing tool or exploit the curiosity of whose refusal to take an oath to Hitler lands philosophical levels of a story.

50 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


ACT OF FAITH: TO TELL THE STORY OF DEVOUTLY VP: We shot the film chronologically: VP: Terrence’s tendency to keep the camera
CATHOLIC AUSTRIAN FARMERS FRANZ AND Most of our scenes set on the farm where rolling for extraordinarily long takes allowed
FANI JÄGERSTÄTTER, CO-STARS AUGUST DIEHL (L)
AND VALERIE PACHNER (R) TRUSTED COMPLETELY Franz and Fani live and in the prison where us to lose some of the pressure that
IN TERRENCE MALICK’S SERENE DIRECTION OF Franz is held were filmed in sequence. That usually comes with acting work. Filming
A HIDDEN LIFE approach was helpful when we had to tap A Hidden Life, there was never a sense of
into our characters’ emotions in scenes in “This has to be the perfect shot!” Sometimes,
AD: When an artist finds his or her lan- which they were reunited after having been we actors have a tendency to think, “Yeah!
guage, that’s already a beautiful thing. But separated for so long. I landed it! That was the perfect line!” That
when you’re leading this huge cast and crew type of thinking doesn’t exist with Terrence.
to make a movie and you manage to get AD: As you’ve said, we weren’t expected to He creates an environment where if you
everybody to speak that same language, then remain faithful to anything in the script… fail, it doesn’t matter—you can just do the
you’re really doing your job as a director. A but we also understood that the script did take again and you’ll be fine. The beauty of
great director can get a crew to work toward contain key turning points in the story. Terrence’s work is that he’s actually looking
a common goal with kindness and tender- When my character goes to a military for little failures. He feels that it’s in those
ness—without being bossy, by inviting people training camp, or when our characters first moments where real life happens.
on a journey. That’s a huge gift to bring to the become separated—those are both turning
set and something that I’ll take with me in all points. So, even when you’re working with a AD: He’d film us sleeping in between takes,
my future work. You don’t have to yell at each very long leash, there are some key elements looking up at the sky, strolling on set,
other to achieve your goals on set. of the script you have to be mindful of. stumbling over ourselves. As all these
things that would normally happen off
VP: Another thing that struck me was that VP: By being mindful of those turning points, camera were happening, he filmed and
Terrence never cared about whether some- I began to understand that my character filmed and filmed, always looking for
thing that happened—rainy weather or any carried all of her past and all of her hopes for something to capture. A director should be
other unplanned event—didn’t match the her future inside of herself. And that under- extremely curious in that way—searching
continuity of a scene. He was always happy standing is what opened up new creative pos- for actors’ real personalities.
when unexpected things happened. During sibilities. Since we never spoke with Terrence
one take we filmed, there was a baby crying about our characters, our job was to just live VP: Terrence loves the twilight. In the sum-
in the street and it didn’t fit the scene, but out our characters’ lives on set. I started to mer evenings on location in both Austria
Terrence was glad that it happened. It’s an forget about that technical, actor-y school of and Italy, the sun can stay out until 10
interesting approach: to welcome whatever thought many actors bring to a performance o’clock at night, so we would start each day
happens accidentally into the film. and got used to the feeling of having to carry at nine o’clock in the morning and usually
Terrence also has very good casting in- my character’s many different states of being shoot until nine or 10-ish, which made for
stincts. Right from the auditions, he already from moment to moment. about a 12-hour shoot day. We didn’t have
knew what he was looking for. I never had a We also knew that Terrence is sometimes many breaks in between except for lunch.
talk with him about “Your character should be known for lessening the impact or presence When you’re working with only natural
like this,” or “She has to do that.” He accepted of actors… light—sunlight, or perhaps some candle-
my interpretation of my character. What he’s light—there are no technical breaks for the
looking for in actors is an openness about the AD: Yes, he does have a reputation of editing lighting. So, we would work all day.
process and a willingness to throw yourself out his leads.
into the story personally—to improvise and to AD: We had to wake up at 3:30 a.m. once
not be afraid. There’s a certain amount of un- VP: We weren’t too concerned about that to get a sunrise shot!
certainty about his process, so you have to be being the case with A Hidden Life, though,
brave enough to dive into that way of working. because it’s based on true events. As long as VP: There were moments as we were filming
he stayed true to the events on which the film scenes like that when Terrence would guide
AD: I almost feel as though actors should stop is based, we trusted that our characters would us not as actors, but as if we were actually
asking themselves what directors want from have to remain in the film as initially planned. our characters in real life, saying things like,
them. The answer to that question is so differ- “Now, you see the wind in the grass. You
ent on every shoot, and even different on each AD: Our story was so simple and so clearly recognize the presence of nature in a new
new day of the same shoot. Don’t ask yourself about two people—Franz and Fani. Even if it way and appreciate it as the natural space
why you were cast for a movie; once you’re in was only through voiceover in some scenes, you’re living in.” This isn’t something we
it, just live in the present moment. Attempting we knew we would be in most of the film. were aware of while we were working, but
to answer those kind of questions can create a it’s true: Our natural environment became
dangerous way of thinking that actors VP: There was always the possibility that he the third character in the film. That’s
shouldn’t bother with. Of course, it’s only natu- could change the story… but he didn’t. something I’ve never experienced before
ral that it’ll pop into your head: “Why me?” and haven’t experienced since. MM
But you have to push those thoughts aside be- AD: When you’re a movie actor, you’re always
cause it’ll disturb your work with the director. aware that you’re just a piece of the film’s over-
Your job, first and foremost, is to be part of the all puzzle, so you have to accept that you’re A Hidden Life opens December 13, 2019,
director’s fantasy. going to give yourself over to the project. courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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4
POST-PRODUCTION
B Y E D W A R D N O R T O N , A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y

I
F POSSIBLE, YOU SHOULD PLAN for post- music. Wes Anderson is one of the few people I know FIRST PAST THE
production to be longer than the amount of who has managed to get his composers to work with him POST: WHEN DIRECTING
time typically spent on it. I think the DGA’s along the way, but score is intrinsically late. As a director, GUGU MBATHA-RAW
AS LAURA ROSE (L)
whole convention of “Ten weeks, or one day if you’re trying to assess whether a scene is working dur- AND HIMSELF AS
of editing for each two days of schedule photography, ing the shoot, it’s hard to make a judgement call before LIONEL ESSROG (R) IN
whichever is longer,” is actually half the time that should a fine-tuned score or good sound design is on it, even if MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ,
be allocated. you suspect it’ll work absolutely beautifully when those NORTON DIDN’T
WANT TO FOLLOW A
We had about 680 shots and some really complicated things are added. It’s one of those terrible dysfunctions of
SHOOTING SCHEME
stuff in Motherless Brooklyn, and there was no way we were the post process that composers, on the whole, feel like PREDETERMINED BY
going to have the film in any kind of shape to be putting they need to see your film in some advanced state before THE EDITOR
in front of people in that amount of time. I said from the they even bother writing the music, and it creates real

PHOTOGRAPH BY GLEN WILSON / COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES


beginning, “Let’s plan for this to be an attenuated process.” problems. But it is what it is.
I don’t believe in assemblages, where a director and One thing about post that’s changed for the better is Av-
an editor have already spent time in advance addressing id’s visual effects suite: The stuff you can do now with that
what the intended version of the film is before you even software at a fairly low cost is astonishing. You can polish
start shooting. That will put your actors on suicide watch: just about anything up with the tools available. With your
When they’re auditioning something that an editor has own in-house VFX team, it’s pretty amazing what you can
already put together, all they’re thinking is, “I can’t assess do these days. MM
if this is working or not, because this might not even be
the way the scene is intended to play.”
For me, it’s better to just dive into the editing process as
it’s happening. Get into the weeds, bounce ideas around “I’m a big believer in polishing
frequently, don’t do everything in sequence. Just cut the
footage up like a pie and work on the pieces, and eventu- component parts to a very
fine degree before you start
ally your film will start to take on a shape, a form, levels
of transition and flow, and a clear sense of how much
information your audience needs. I’m a big believer in pol-

assessing the film as a whole.”


PHOTO CREDIT

ishing component parts to a very fine degree before you


start assessing the film as a whole.
Score feels like it always comes into the process too
late. On set, you’re almost always working with temp

52 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


4
POST-PRODUCTION

EYES IN
THE SKY
Fresh eyes and open minds are keys to the post-production success, feels like he needs to walk away from the mate-
say Lucy in the Sky editor Regis Kimble and composer Jeff Russo rial because he’s too close to it, we’re continuing
to adjust to his vision as it evolves so that all of
our ideas align.
BY REGIS KIMBLE AND JEFF RUSSO, AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN
Regis Kimble (RK): That’s how our underwater
sequence in Lucy in the Sky evolved. It started

“I
N ALL MY YEARS of experience, I’ve never run into anybody who works like we off with this idea of, “Let’s introduce an under-
do,” says composer Jeff Russo of his longterm partnership with moviemaker water space to the story because that represents
Noah Hawley, creator of the acclaimed television series Fargo and Legion and writer- Lucy’s comfort zone.” But the location is also
director of the Natalie Portman-starring sci-fi drama, Lucy in the Sky. What he’s about the character’s need to escape from her
referring to, exactly, is the highly unusual order in which their projects materialize: Whereas most own personal crisis, and her desire to push her-
moviemakers won’t hear their composer’s score until after their footage is in the can, Hawley often self back into an emotional state that’s as close
receives music from Russo before anything for a series or feature on which they’re collaborating is to the one she experienced while in outer space
even written or shot. (On the previous page of this issue, Guest Moviemaker Edward Norton la- as possible. That’s an example of when Noah
ments how pairings like Hawley and Russo’s are a rare breed—an exception to the rule that “score needed to listen to feedback. At the time, he
always comes into the process too late,” and that “composers, on the whole, feel like they need to needed distance from the material in order to
see your film in some advanced state before they even bother writing the music.”) understand how the story could move in a dif-
Editor Regis Kimble, who’s teamed with Hawley and Russo on Fargo, Legion, and now ferent direction.

FOX FILM CORPORATION; RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY CALEB HSU


LEFT: HILARY B. GAYLE / COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY
Lucy in the Sky to stitch together the visual and sonic halves that each brings to those produc-
tions, stresses that their collaborative process boils down to trust. After all, every moviemaker— JR: When you’re shaping material this way,
especially one who, like Hawley on this film, is navigating their feature debut—is made better by context is always important. Pieces of music
post-production personnel who understand and interpret their vision as clearly as they do. that I write with a specific storyline in mind
Though Lucy in the Sky is nominally based on the bizarre crimes carried out by NASA flight in the early stages of a project, like my score
engineer Lisa Nowak against her former lover and fellow astronaut William Oefelein, the story of for Lucy in the Sky, can end up being used in a
the film’s titular protagonist, Lucy Cola (Portman), doesn’t hinge on strict adherence to those true completely different context in the edit and, in
events, but on simulating the character’s sensory experience—her gradual detachment from real- turn, take on a completely different meaning
ity as she struggles to return to life on Earth following her transformative travels through space. and effect. Despite the fact that the music has an
Here, Kimble and Russo discuss what a writer-director, editor, and composer should look for in initial impact on how Noah’s script is struc-
one another, how post-production steers projects in unexpected directions, and what skills are tured, how a scene is shot, or what the mood of
transferable from working in TV to working in film. — M.W. the piece might be like, things get restructured
so dramatically in the edit later on that a piece
Jeff Russo (JR): Working with Noah Hawley, you and I are involved in the moviemaking process of music that was meant for one thing ends up
from the very beginning. As long as he has his eyes and ears on a project, we do, too. As we get accompanying a whole different series of events.
further into post, each new thing we add to the piece brings some new perspective for him. When he

54 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


rial—he’s only seen quick assemblies based on
what it could be. Again, it comes down to trust.

JR: The same principle applies to our direc-


tor-composer relationship. On both TV and
film productions, we’ve gotten accustomed
to the rhythm at which we all work and we
trust in that rhythm. That rhythmic thing is
what we composers and editors do best: We
guide the director in the right direction when
something is feeling like it’s not quite where
it needs to be.

RK: Of course, the biggest difference between


working on TV and film is that a feature has
one director handling the arc of the story from
beginning to end. On an episodic production,
there are visiting directors who come and go
CREST OF A WAVE: DURING SCORING SESSIONS, throughout the course of the show’s life cycle.
COMPOSER JEFF RUSSO’S (L) MISSION WAS TO
SONICALLY DEPICT THE “WAVES” OF EMOTIONAL
You’re constantly getting new material from
TURMOIL THAT CRASH UPON LUCY IN THE SKY ’S TITLE those visiting directors, and when they deliver
CHARACTER something that’s not quite where the show is
supposed to be creatively at that time, you
< LAUNCHING FORTH: WITH THE NATALIE PORTMAN- have to bend the material into something that
STARRING LUCY IN THE SKY , DIRECTOR NOAH HAWLEY,
EDITOR REGIS KIMBLE, AND RUSSO CARRY THEIR the showrunner expects to see. On a feature,
CONSISTENT COLLABORATION FROM TV INTO FEATURE the bending of the material comes from the
director only. So, in our case, it’s the difference
RK: With Noah, it’s like mapping a quest: There’s again as she moves over to a dark corner of the between dealing with several interpretations
a logical progression of how characters and room and starts pulling the wallpaper down of Noah’s material through several different
events are metered out to the audience. But he from the walls, experiencing a nervous break- hands on Fargo and Legion versus dealing
also depicts emotional states in a way that makes down. We built the music so that it rose, ap- solely with Noah’s vision on Lucy in the Sky.
them completely modular when it’s time to edit proaching the breakdown… then we took the Both processes work toward the same goal…
them. An emotion might be experienced by one music out and allowed all that emotional pres- and both are very hard.
character in one place in the chronology of the sure to bear down on her as she’s attempting to
story, but I can cut it into another place and release it. So, if someone is approaching their JR: That’s why the three most important words
suddenly, that emotion, in musical terms, film’s score the way I did on Lucy in the Sky, for any artistic relationship are collaboration,
becomes a kind of solo emotion. This mixing they should view the score as a tool that puts the communication, and trust. It’s impossible to
and matching creates something unique for the audience in a state that’s both hyper-emotional tell how that’s going to develop over time, but
audience. and hyper-real. You may not write pieces of it starts with a feeling, right? You almost have
One of our goals was to depict the emotional music with that tonal balance in mind from the no way to describe what that feeling is, and
“waves” that crash over Lucy. When Lucy sees start—I didn’t—but you do have to keep it in yet, you somehow know that a partnership will
her grandmother die in the hospital, for instance, mind as the edit comes together. work when you feel it.
that sequence was originally supposed to start
with her getting a phone call, then jumping in RK: Another thing that distinguishes Noah from RK: Right. When a director has an editor and a
the car to race over to the hospital, then running other moviemakers who have a background composer who can watch something with fresh
into her grandmother’s room in slow motion. But in both television and film is that he gives you eyes, without preconceived notions of exactly
we felt that that sequence of events was a little the time you need to work with the material. how everything is supposed to come together,
too deliberate and melodramatic; we wanted to He isn’t one of those directors who demand their feedback can be the roughest thing to
immerse viewers in Lucy’s experience but we that you turn the first cut of the movie over in hear, but also the biggest compliment to receive.
didn’t want to show the whole wind-up race to two to five days. I always thought that that was Fortunately, our work with Noah has been miles
that experience. So we ended up cutting those because he was patient, but now I think it’s away from the standard formula of TV or film.
moments at the hospital against a scene in which actually because of trust. He knows that we’re In my work on TV, I’ve had directors say to me,
she’s attending her grandmother’s wake. Those deeply involved with the project and that we “I never expected the material to come together
two scenes were never designed to be arranged understand his point of view on storytelling, that way.” With Noah, he expects that things
in that way, but making that choice allowed us to so he trusts us to put the time in to make it as won’t come together as planned, and he expects
convey the “waves” of extreme emotional pres- close to his vision as we can. us to deliver something outside the box of what
sure that come down on Lucy. The editing had to There’s nothing worse than having to send was storyboarded or shot-listed. As long as we’re
convey the character’s headspace. a bunch of scenes to the director prior to the doing that, we’re doing our job correctly. MM
completion of your cut. Noah is not the type of
JR: From my perspective, I knew that I would person to ask for that because he understands
first have to release the tension in the score when he’s not seeing the true representation of his Lucy in the Sky opened October 4, 2019, courtesy
Lucy is at the wake, and then build it back up material filtered only midway through edito- of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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4
POST-PRODUCTION

TIPS FROM TEAM TECHNICOLOR


Three of the iconic industry outfit’s fine-tune your movie in the color bay. Always
on-hand experts tell you what you need to try to plan for a color session. There will always
be challenges on set and usually not enough
know to plan your project’s post process time to get everything lit and balanced the way
you want. But if you have color time included
B Y T R AV I S F LY N N , P A U L G H E Z Z O , in your budget, your colorist can help enhance
VICKI LEMAR, AND MM EDITORS whatever footage you get.

HE WORLD OF moviemak-
VFX

T ing is in a constant state of


evolution, and the demand for
a wider variety of content is
growing. It’s an exciting time
MM: How early in the moviemaking process is
ideal for the VFX team to become involved?

Paul Ghezzo (PG): Ideally, from the beginning.


to be a moviemaker, but between pre-pro-
Although VFX is considered part of the post-
duction, production, post, and distribution,
production process, it can and should be
the journey can feel long. We asked three
utilized as part of the overall moviemaking pro-
industry experts—Technicolor colorist
cess, from pre-production straight through to
Travis Flynn, visual effects (VFX) creative
finals in color. Your script can dictate or allude
director Paul Ghezzo, and sound re-recording
to how something is meant to be shot and there
mixer Vicki Lemar—to share their tips on
are many ways to shoot a VFX shot that will
making the most of your time and budget and
TECHNICOLOR’S TRAVIS FLYNN RECENTLY COLORED directly affect its complexity and cost. Bring-
preparing for the post-production process. THE AMANDA CREW-STARRING HORROR-COMEDY ing in your VFX team early to collaborate with
TONE-DEAF
the production team will often lead to more
C OL OR efficient ways of filming that shot. If safety or
projects differ from their approach on big- logistics are the issue, VFX can often offer solu-
MovieMaker Magazine (MM): How early in budget films? tions too, which can lessen any risk and speed
the moviemaking process should a colorist up production, saving time and money.
become involved? TF: Perhaps a little bit. The goal, no matter the
budget, is to make the movie look great and MM: What key things should a moviemaker
Travis Flynn (TF): Colorists typically won’t be achieve the director and DP’s vision, but when keep in mind when going into the VFX stage
involved in an indie project’s early stages, a colorist has less time, that goal has to be of post?
but it’s a plus if they can be part of your achieved with broader strokes. Getting a good
camera and wardrobe tests. This gives the first pass and balancing each scene can cut into PG: The main question moviemakers should
moviemaker and colorist an opportunity your hours, so it’s important to save most of the ask themselves is, “What is the desired final
to collaborate with some different LUTs colorist’s secondary work for the final pass. effect?” What should my VFX do? Look like?
(look-up tables) and color looks. Fill in? Replace? VFX allow for virtually
MM: What are some challenges you’ve anything to be “dialed in” or art-directed right
MM: What’s the most important thing to keep encountered working with moviemakers down to the last minute, but spending a lot of
in mind when going into color finishing? who are early in their careers? How did time trying to refine or simply find what the
you overcome these challenges? right look for the effect is can be costly and
TF: Time. Understand that you need to get time consuming. Your best course of action:
through your entire production in a set num- TF: There are always challenges: underex- Work with an art director or concept artist to
ber of hours. It’s not uncommon on lower- posed shots, pickup shots that have different find references for your desired effect, so that
budget movies for the director to become lighting, weather changes. I recently worked there’s no ambiguity as to the direction and
fixated on the small stuff, and that might on a project that had a few shots that were what the final product should be.
impact your ability to get a good pass on the supposed to be late night, but with their
movie. Obviously the more time you have the shooting schedule, they had to shoot them MM: How much time should be set aside for
better, but your budget won’t always allow in the late afternoon. We were able to get the adding VFX to a film or TV production?
for that. Most of the indies I’ve been involved shots to fit into the scene, but that extra time
with take about 40 hours in color finishing. cut into our overall hours. Many obstacles in PG: It’s hard to say with certainty, since each
the color grade can be overcome, but the more project can have an entirely different set of
MM: Does a colorist’s approach on indie you get right on set gives you more time to needs and desires. But even the most straight-

56 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


MOST INDIE the sound mixing process?
FEATURES
REQUIRE ABOUT
40 HOURS Vicki Lemar (VL): Just like any other part of
OF COLOR the process does when you’re on tight budget,
FINISHING, managing expectations, and picking your
SAYS FLYNN battles. Everyone is doing their best with the
time and resources available and sometimes
you might not get things crossed off of your
wishlist. A good place to start, though, would
be to have one day of pre-dubbing and one
day of final mixing per reel. A five-reel film,
for example, will have five days of pre-dub-
KEEP ADR TO bing and five days of final mixing.
A MINIMUM
TO KEEP COSTS
DOWN, SAYS MM: Does a sound mixer’s approach on
TECHNICOLOR indie projects differ from their approach
SOUND on big-budget films?
RE-RECORDING
MIXER
VICKI LEMAR VL: Yes. On indie productions, crewmembers
will often wear multiple hats. On those I’ve
worked on, I’ve been the sound supervisor and
re-recording mixer and done my own dialogue
editing. I also try to keep ADR to a minimum
to keep costs down. I’d recommend not shoot-
ing Loop Group (walla ADR) and using cut
walla from a sound effects library instead.
Using library effects will be sufficient for most
projects and it’s a huge cost saver.

forward comedy or drama will need titling measures that can be very time-consuming MM: Any words of wisdom gleaned from
and potentially screen replacements, beauty and nickel and dime a production. Often, your experience working on indie produc-
work, etc., and that can take a day or the blanks fired don’t give off the desired tions you’d like to share?
two. So, if your VFX needs are pushed off muzzle flash and may need to be enhanced
until your project enters post, then often the in post, and the squib hits may need to be VL: First, be mindful of time. Once we’re on
time and money budgeted for VFX may not done in post as well. But using air-soft guns the mix stage, I’m mixing alone and trying
be adequate. will remove these safety issues and speed to make sure all of the director’s requests
up production time, and then your muzzle are being met. Often that means re-editing
MM: What is the financial impact of incor- flashes, shell ejections, and squib hits can be something that’s not working or tracking
porating VFX into an indie production? done in VFX and art-directed. down a missing element, so I’m not paying
At what point should a moviemaker start much attention to the clock. A “Hey, let’s stop
thinking about budgeting for VFX? MM: What are the best tools an indie mov- and take a lunch break” or “Let’s stop for the
iemaker can use to improve the post process? day” is much appreciated! Also, be sure to hire
LEFT: COURTESY OF SABAN FILMS / RIGHT: COURTESY OF TECHNICOLOR

PG: Start budgeting from the very begin- a good production sound mixer and get your
ning. Having a budget throughout all of PG: Use the pre-production phase as a tool: actors to articulate even in sotto voce. And
post is absolutely necessary. Allocating It will offset your learning curve in post. lastly, being a first-time moviemaker or early
money for VFX can be a big part of this, Storyboarding, animatics, and a rough cut in your career is a great learning opportunity.
and the process begins before the cameras will pay for themselves by educating your Don’t be afraid to ask questions. MM
start to roll. An average episodic production production team and helping everyone to
spends approximately $250-500 per minute get on the same page and identify possible
Colorist Travis Flynn’s recent credits include
of on-location/in-studio time (including problems before they occur. Storyboards
Tone-Deaf, Tell It to the Bees, and the HDR/SDR
cast, crew, insurance, location, craft services, not only help with blocking performances
mastering on Mary Poppins Returns. Paul Ghezzo
transportation, make-up, etc.). Take an edu- and camera and lighting angles, but also
is an Emmy-winning CG supervisor whose
cated guess at what your per minute costs help every department understand what is
credits include Westworld, Captain America:
may be, then weigh it against what VFX needed per shot or sequence.
The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3, The Orville,
can do for you. One educated decision on or
and Man of Steel. Vicki Lemar is a
off set could save you thousands of dollars
of production time and unusable foot-
SOUND MIXING CAS-nominated sound re-recording mixer
whose credits include Strange Angel,
age. For example, using real firearms and
MM: How do time and budget factor into Grace and Frankie, and Jessica Jones.
firing blanks on set requires serious safety

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 57


4
POST-PRODUCTION

ALL SYSTEMS GO
To wear multiple hats and cut out extra stress,
the independent crew of Coast built their
post-production workflow with Puget Systems

BY DEREK SCHWEICK ART falls in love with the lead singer of a touring TEAM COAST’S POST-PRODUCTION WORKSTATION
rock band (Kane Ritchotte) who introduces
STAR FÁTIMA PTACEK, DP DJ HARDER, AND
her to a world of possibility and self-expres- CREWMEMBERS ADONIS CRUZ, EDGAR RIBON,
’M THE TYPE of person who sion. With an exciting ensemble cast and live JUAN HUEZO, AND JONATHAN MILLET SHOOT

I
can’t help but wear too many music performances, Coast is a diverse com- COAST ON LOCATION IN SANTA MARIA, CA
hats—producer, director, DP, ing-of-age story that shows that true courage
editor, colorist, DI supervisor, means showing up for your life and living in the opposite. As a moviemaker myself, I’ve
post-production engineer, your truth. always had some sort of editing computer,
coder. On the days when the identity crisis It was never really a question for us that and I think most moviemakers out there
of this annoying reality rears its familiar when we set out to produce Coast, post- do as well. When you start out, you have
head, my partner Jessica Hester (herself a production would be something that we to learn every job on a film crew in order
multi-hyphenate writer-director/producer/ would keep in-house as much as possible. It to get anything made. From the opposite
actress) reminds me of this simple fact: could be that my experience chasing some end, though, when I’ve worked on huge
“You’re a filmmaker. Deal with it.” of our best moviemakers around the globe studio pictures like Hugo, Life of Pi, and
Our feature film debut as co-directors is an and building mobile dailies theaters and most recently Gemini Man, I put a consid-
independent project called Coast. In Coast, workflows for them gave me the confidence erable amount of effort into managing all
lead character Abby’s (Fátima Ptacek) small that we could do something on a smaller the complexities of production and inter-
town trappings are closing in on her when she scale for Coast, but I think that it’s almost departmental workflows in order to give the

58 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


director access to their footage. While we render speeds we got when debayering the
all want the resources of big budget films, Arriraw files (a process in which raw image
those films also strive for the simplicity of
the smaller productions.
“Having our own systems data is converted into RGB images) using the
Puget workstations with the Nvidia GeForce
Every film has the same basic needs when
it comes to post-production (which actually
allowed us to honor our 1080 Ti GPU graphics card. This was never a
bottleneck for us.
starts in production): dailies, editing, and
finishing (DI/sound mix/delivery). This is
process....With our Both systems being outfitted with 10GB eth-
ernet allowed the dailies machine to render
true of film and digital projects. Film has its
own set of challenges and costs, but what
budget, there would the proxies locally, and then share that data
to the second machine. We would periodically
I can say about digital is that the core of any
workflow is going to be the data storage.
have been no way to put sync the proxies between machines, so that
we had two copies, but the rendering machine
In our case, we had a particularly challenging
data workflow because we shot on the
in the amount of work also served as a de facto NAS for the editor.
This also allowed us to eventually be able to
ARRI Alexa 65, whose sensor size (twice that
of the Alexa Mini) generates 2TB (terabytes)
necessary if we didn’t split up the systems and have two editing sta-
tions in two different locations with the same
of data for every 40 minutes of footage. On
Coast, we shot 23 hours of footage in 19 days,
have the ability to work media. I am also a proponent for redundancy
when it comes to data, so having two com-
totaling 70TB. We stored two copies of this on
two 80TB servers that we rented for produc-
at our own pace.” pletely mirrored systems was a safety measure
for us in case anything went down.
tion, eventually migrating the data to a 100TB — JESSICA HESTER The only hardware issues we had were two
Synology RAID (an automated management cases where the internal RAID lost a drive. In
system designed to deploy storage volume). both cases, the software RAID rebuilt itself
Coast was shot on location in Santa Maria, overnight and we were able to keep working.
CA, about three hours north of Los Angeles. came with 8TB of local RAID storage, which The thunderbolt ports on the motherboard
Because of this, we knew from the get-go that was more than enough for our proxy media. really came in handy, as we were able to use
we were going to have to manage dailies on On a daily basis we would render in the external Mac formatted hard drives (using
site, especially because of the amount of data morning and offload cards at night. Our Mac Drive) when we returned for re-shoots
that we were generating. That said, storing editor Angelica Hester was with us on loca- and did not have the budget to rent the serv-
the data is not enough: You have to process it. tion during production and managed the ers again.
We decided that we were going to need two workflow with help from a local assistant Once we finished production, we shipped
workstations which were powerful enough to editor, Roman Davis (and sometimes her the systems back to New York and started cut-
process Alexa 65 dailies. Because of the phases four-month-old son, Leo). Between the two ting at Angelica’s home. “The ability to work
TOP LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY ANGELICA HESTER / BOTTOM LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY LAUREN CHRISTINE CALLAHAN /

of post-production, we wanted systems that (or three) of them, they were able to keep up from home as a new mom has been a luxury
would be able to handle dailies, editing, and with the daily turnaround of media from set, that unfortunately not many of us are given,”
DI. I knew that we would need something rendering and syncing dailies, and Angelica Angelica says. “My son was still breastfeeding
more powerful and flexible than Mac Pros, was able to start assembling scenes in Adobe when I started working again. Working from
which are pretty common for editing stations. Premiere. I was really impressed with the home allowed me to cut out the struggles of
We were doing a lot ourselves, but design- pumping, and I was able to take 10 to 15
ing, building, and testing the workstation minute breaks to feed and bond with my
was just not practical, so I reached out to infant son. It also cuts out the one to two hour
Puget Systems. I’ll admit, I was relieved to commute I would otherwise have had to fac-
not have to put that much focus into the de- tor into my day. All of this reduces the stress
sign of the systems. After a couple of conversa- and guilt of being a working mom, and I have
tions with Eric Brown of the Puget Systems been able to put full focus and attention on
team, we settled on the specs, and I pretty the work in front of me.”
much forgot about them until they showed up “Having our own systems allowed us to
BOTTOM RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY ANGELICA HESTER

at our production office in Santa Maria. honor our process,” says Jessica. “Our film is
We decided to get two systems because a relationship movie. It’s all about a direct
this would be more efficient for all phases experience, and about uncovering the subtext
of post-production. In dailies, we were able in the performances. With our budget, there
to have one system as a dedicated proxy would have been no way to put in the amount
rendering station using Resolve, and the of work necessary if we didn’t have the ability
second machine was the editors worksta- to work at our own pace.” MM
tion. Because we were just renting the 80TB
servers to temporarily store the Arriraw,
before pushing that data to a Synology drive Coast is now locking picture and moving
KID’S STUFF: CUTTING COAST FROM HOME MADE
for long term storage, we didn’t want to use EDITOR ANGELICA HESTER’S JOB AS A NEW MOTHER TO into sound design and DI. Follow the film’s
that storage for dailies. The Puget Systems LEO A LITTLE EASIER IN POST progress on Instagram @coastthefilm.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 59


4
POST-PRODUCTION

GETTING
day he spots Beatrice (Caitlin McGee), strand- in our previous film Penelope in the Treehouse
ed on a comet hurtling by. Our story explores for Disney Channel. Even using minimal
his conviction and aching desire to mend his microfilament strings—which reflect a lot of

THE MOST
loneliness. To provide a unique perspective light—during a screen test, the decision was
on Stan and Beatrice’s plight, we decided to clear: Without a green screen, it’d be more
use marionettes in miniature environments. of a burden to digitally enhance or remove

OUT OF POST
We shot against green screen backdrops, with strings. The downside of green screen, for
green tape inside the visors of the puppet’s many moviemakers, is the time and cost
helmets with the idea of adding live-action required to digitally build, light, and render an
performances in post-production. environment. But it also allows an enormous
An indie moviemaker shares what amount of creative flexibility, especially when
strategies, software, and solutions can PREVENTING POST HASTE AND WASTE it comes to highly stylized concepts. On
optimize your post-production workflow Planning for post began early as we “Cosmic Fling,” we had to consider the cost
discussed the requirements while reading and time for string removal where strings
the script. We asked as many questions as would cross. Using green screen, a portion of

LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEX GRIFFIN / RIGHT: COURTESY OF CHRISTIAN HALL


BY CHRISTIAN HALL
possible: What’s the simplest way to create the arduous string removal labor was mini-
a realistic starfield? Can we do it practically, mized with compositing.
instead of using computer-generated effects? We knew from the get-go that VFX
HE PROCESS OF post- How do we convincingly add human faces to would play a significant part in production,

T production is the final gate


between your footage and your
audience. It’s an opportunity
to refine, to create, or (as in
the puppeted characters? How much can we
rely on visual effects within our budget?
Decisions made before production begins
have a major effect on what your post-pro-
which included set extensions, rotoscoping,
compositing, and numerous plate shots and
inserts to address. Our approach was to
seek second opinions and quotes from mul-
our case) to build an entire world in outer duction requirements are. For example, our tiple vendors through early conversations
space. In order to accomplish my short fearless director Jonathan Langager, produc- with VFX consultants and specialists. If the
film, “Cosmic Fling,” organization and tion designer Fon Davis (former Industrial initial sticker price on VFX work is too high,
communication within our workflow was key, Light & Magic model maker whose credits it’s best to negotiate and explore alterna-
especially as many of our post-production include the Star Wars prequels, Interstellar, tive solutions to cut post-production costs.
team worked remotely, providing its own The Nightmare Before Christmas) considered One strategy is to find artists and specialists
set of challenges. using a matte painting of distant stars and whose skills are very specific. Working with
“Cosmic Fling” follows Stan (Josh Fadem), galaxies. Jonathan and I had worked with Fon your VFX supervisor, you can find ways to
a helpless romantic and intergalactic garbage previously, and we always loved the idea of divide effects work based on the skills of
man who lives alone on an asteroid until one practical solutions and in-camera effects, as artists. Turn-key VFX companies charge a

60 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< PULLSTRING BUDGET: PUPPETEERS CHRISTINE Jonathan, Ben, and me. This breakdown the film was not properly transmitted to the
PAPALEXIS (L) AND PHILLIP HUBER (R) AND THE REST thoroughly provided information for each VFX supervisor, and in turn, to the rest of the
OF THE “COSMIC FLING” CREW WORKED TOGETHER TO
KEEP THE PRODUCTION UNDER BUDGET
shot with columns designated for various effects team. It’s crucial to ask for clarity and
requirements such as wire removal, floating be as specific as possible with your vision,
space debris, green screen removal, addi- otherwise, the results may surprise you.
lot more to do the same thing, especially if
tional compositing, visor replacement with On “Cosmic Fling,” we had a specific idea
they rely on off-site contractors. It’s more
live action performances, and a priority sta- for how we envisioned Beatrice’s comet.
work for you and your VFX supervisor, but
tus. This spreadsheet was used by all VFX From our main character’s perspective, the
the cost savings are considerable. Another
artists on Ben’s team, allowing for everyone moment the comet comes hurtling into view
strategy is to find ways to simplify the use of
to work simultaneously and understand the is one of the biggest and most hopeful of his
VFX assets in your sequences. If something
various requirements for each shot. life. Our goal was for the comet to have a
can be done once and repeated in multiple
When work was complete, we would re- distinct look, with a sparkle and shine, and
shots, it saves time and money.
ceive notifications that a shot was uploaded we provided both practical and CG-oriented
and we would provide notes, sometimes solutions to accomplish that vision.
TASK-TRADING POST
revising shots and sequences four or five Occasionally, when we used the descrip-
Many VFX artists have preferences for
times. In order to keep the visual tone and tors “sparkle,” “shine,” or “glow,” what
what they enjoy working on. I found op-
style consistent with our effects crew, we we envisioned would be at odds with the
portunities to present appealing tasks that
shared visual references and held weekly interpretation and technical implementa-
fit those preferences while delegating other
conference calls to answer questions and tion of our post team. We learned to prepare
tasks to different artists. In turn, we were
walk through sequences in detail. many specific descriptors and present visual
able to negotiate tasks that artists enjoyed
references to talk through our vision. This
while keeping costs under budget. Larger
WORKING IN GLOWING TERMS preparation applies to practical FX on set,
post-production vendors can outsource VFX
One area I struggled with is how to ac- but it especially applies to VFX.
work and don’t always guarantee quality, in-
curately and effectively communicate what Your creative team often won’t have the
stead billing hourly or only allowing limited
VFX solutions are required. Occasionally, ability to quickly realign when an artist is
revisions. Have an open and honest dialogue
this resulted in a conflict where an idea for working. We could have an artist work ex-
with your VFX or post-production supervisor
tremely hard on a beautiful glow and sparkle
about your expectations and your budget.
on the comet, but if at the end of the week
Understand that the choices you can make
> SMALL STEPS FOR MAN: the deliverable doesn’t align with the creative
to achieve your vision in post-production
MAKING HIS SHORT FILM vision, it results in lost work. Without a
will become severely limited once you’ve “COSMIC FLING” WITH technical background, learning the tools and
completed production. Once you’ve identified MINIATURE SETS,
describing the types of textures, compositing
your needs, costs, and expectations before MOVIEMAKER
CHRISTIAN HALL techniques, rendering choices and software
production, you’ll pave the way for
TOOK STEPS TO OPEN solutions is helpful practice for building the
a smooth post-production experience from UP HIS STRIDE IN POST type of vocabulary to effectively communi-
the editing room to the mixing booth. It was
cate your vision. I’ve learned that the most
the wisdom of our resident rock star and
effective way to achieve your desired result is
on-set VFX supervisor Tim Hendrix that
guided us from production into post-produc- FIVE KEYS TO to map out your technical strategy only when
it remains consistent with the film’s vision.
tion. He answered questions throughout the
shoot, patiently listening as we wondered
POST-PRODUCTION WORKFLOW
1
GROW WITH THE FLOW
whether Stan’s helmet light should be on Have an open and honest dialogue
Post-production is a process of creating
during certain shots or if our puppeteers with your post supervisor about your
a story from the footage you’ve shot. So,
should wear green suits in others. Tim expectations and your budget.
build a plan and plot out your workflow

2
understood which tasks would be easy in
Understand that the choices you early to help to keep your film under budget
post-production and which wouldn’t. Joined
can make to achieve your vision and on time. Communicate and articulate
by our primary VFX supervisor Ben Kadie,
in post will become severely limited your expectations constantly. Once you’ve
we developed a plan to address the impact
once you’ve completed production. done that, you’ll begin to see how effective
of VFX on 100-plus shots in our film. Ben

3
the process becomes, and how a positive
worked with us closely to break down the Prepare many specific descriptors
working environment and your film’s
process into a manageable workflow. and present visual references to
success go hand in hand. MM
talk through your vision.

4
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
To keep your film’s visual tone
To assign shots and manage tasks, we Christian Hall is a moviemaker and founder
and style consistent, hold weekly
used SHIFT, a post-production collaboration of Christian Hall Media, whose projects
conference calls to answer questions
and management tool, as well as other soft- include mobile games, films, television pilots,
from your crew and walk through
ware. SHIFT allowed us to provide instant commercials, music videos, and interactive
sequences.
feedback and notes on shots in progress content. He made “Cosmic Fling” with the
between our core team.
Our single source of truth was a VFX
breakdown spreadsheet managed by
5 Map out your technical strategy
only when it remains consistent
with your vision for the film.
support of the inaugural SHIFT Creative Fund
Filmmaking Grant. Learn more at
shift.io/creativefund.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 61


5
DISTRIBUTION
B Y E D W A R D N O R T O N , A S T O L D T O K AT H E R I N E B R O D S K Y

T
HE ’90S WERE AN AMAZING TIME for a lot of us
first coming up in films—when the success of
Miramax caused all of the studios to set up their own
L TO R: NORTON AND CO-
STARS MBATHA-RAW, DAFOE,
AND JOSH PAIS AT THE 2019
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL
FILM FESTIVAL, WHERE
M OTHERLESS BROOKLYN HAD
ITS WORLD PREMIERE

moviemakers can go the traditional theatrical route and still find


a good audience, but you never know for sure.
While we were finalizing our digital print of the film, we spot-
little boutique, arthouse labels. Suddenly, there were checked it in some high-end theaters—venues with premium seating
new distributor doors to knock on: People wanted to fill product and showcasing, like the ArcLight in Santa Monica. And we found
slates for these things, and there was a sense that there were all that more than a third of the theaters were operating with their
kinds of opportunities to get our films made. bulbs running at less than half the brightness that they’re supposed
Today’s new studio era, dominated by Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, to have! The spec for presentation is 14 on brightness, 14 foot-lam-
has created a rich time for film distribution. On one hand, audi- berts, but we went into a theater that was running Captain Marvel
ences can say, “There’s too much stuff, I can’t watch it all.” And yet, and the bulb was at 6.2—which means it’s operating at less than
although it’s true, for a creative, the number of platforms and ways 50 percent of the brightness. It made our film literally unwatchable.
in which you can tell a story now are rather amazing. We called these guys out and asked what’s going on, and eventually
It’s also true that the diversity of voices able to find outlets is in- a tech who works for a major theater chain admitted to us that more
creasing greatly. Not a single traditional studio would have invested than half of the screens in their complex of cinemas were operating
in Roma the way Netflix did. You wanted affirmation that these guys under 10, which is under their contractual spec. What that means is,
are for real? Nobody else would have put the amount of theatrical despite all this talk of how streaming services are killing the movie
backing and long-term marketing that they put into a Spanish-lan- business, it’s the exhibitors who are killing the movie business. People
guage film shot in black-and-white before it even hit their platform. are right: The film does look better at home, because these theaters are
How can anybody complain about that? cheaping out on changing $1,000 bulbs that have about a four-month
We made Motherless Brooklyn independently, but with an arrange- life! They’re running what they have two, three, five times beyond
ment for Warner Bros. to distribute it before we had made it, so our film their lifespan and showing movies so dim that if a cinematographer
got the best of both worlds. Making the film on our terms meant we walked in and saw it, they’d blow their brains out.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC CHARBONNEAU

had less money, but also that we didn’t have to make it while wondering I called the head of Warner and said, “You guys need to put the
what its fate was going to be. We knew we had the support of a com- screws to these guys. They’re taking half the ticket receipt and
pany with a great distribution network, so we had a happy experience. they’re the ones ruining the experience. We’re spending millions
The only catch: There’s more risk. When Netflix gives to put out these movies at a certain set of specifications and they’re
Martin Scorsese $200 million to make a gangster film about nickel-and-diming us on changing the bulb.” Netflix takes so much
Jimmy Hoffa, there’s virtually no risk. Nobody’s sweating the box-office care in the fidelity of the transfer and it’s absolutely perfect.
returns because no one will never know about it. Netflix has their own The theater chains are sabotaging their own side of the business.
method of evaluating that. We made our film on a tenth of the budget They talk about “collapsing theatrical windows” but it’s all baloney.
of The Irishman, but it was under the pressure of, “Can the studio find They’re the ones doing the most damage by not showing movies the
an audience for it so that the economics make sense?” I’m hopeful that way they’re supposed to be shown. MM

62 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


In 2017, following a successful fundraising campaign,
the Hollywood Theatre purchased a Portland institution:
Movie Madness, a video store with a collection of over 80,000 titles.

Now a program of the Hollywood Theatre, Movie Madness continues to serve


the community with its vast collection, display cases full of legendary film props
and costumes, and construction on a new screening room close to completion.
We are dedicated to preserving this cultural resource and keeping its world-class
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4320 SE Belmont St, Portland OR - MOVIEMADNESS.org - (503) 234-4363
5DISTRIBUTION
CONFESSIONS OF
AN ANONYMOUS
SCREENER

OR A QUARTER-CENTURY now, MovieMaker has been the leading


Fine-tuning your festival
submission? We asked
seasoned screeners to hold F publication for working independent filmmakers. MM’s editorial coverage
of the festival circuit recaps events around the globe, ranks top choices
for submissions, and catalogues hundreds of fests annually that craft un-
back nothing but their identities forgettable experiences for attendees. And yet, just how all these festivals
make their selections and curate their programs remains a mystery to most moviemak-
to break down how to get your ers trying to get their project into the circuit.
project into your dream program Most reputable festivals have a rigorous process for how they judge films coming in
via submissions, and the first line of defense are the staff members known as the “sub-
missions screeners.” These are people who watch lots of films in a short period of time
BY CALEB HAMMOND
and judge them based on a criteria specific to that festival’s mission. Festival program-
I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y A N G E L A H U A N G
mers choose their screening team using a variety of methods, often recruiting former
interns or gathering recommendations from trusted industry friends and colleagues.
The more you understand how this all works and what these programmers and

64 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


screeners are prioritizing in their work, the with their phones turned to silent. Whether CUT ABOVE
better served you’ll be able to put together they admit it or not, they’re likely at home By the time you reach the editing process
a smart, cost-effective submissions strategy. and at their computers, primed for distrac- you might be worn out, low on cash, and
To demystify this process, we’ve invited tion. Grabbing a screener’s attention doesn’t even growing slightly sick of the film you’ve
some insiders to participate in an extensive necessarily require “action,” but establishing a spent so much time getting off the ground.
survey, on condition of anonymity and total unique visual language from the outset is key. But you shouldn’t rush through this stage—
honesty. The insights from experts—a range If the screener is able to tell that you carefully especially to meet a festival submission
of festival directors (many with 10-plus constructed your film’s composition, they’re deadline. Edit the film down, screen it for
years of experience), programmers, and of much more likely to devote their full atten- friends, and then cut it some more. Festivals
course, screeners—are sure to give you a leg tion. Here are some screeners’ thoughts: only have a select number of slots avail-
up before your next submissions drive. able, so programming three great 10-minute
“I watch all films in their entirety to shorts in a single slot is preferable to giving
EVERY MINUTE COUNTS give them a fair chance, but have most that space to one great 30-minute short.
How far into screening a film do our likely made up my mind in the first two When it comes to features, a screener who’s
survey participants know whether or not minutes of watching for shorts and in powering through a film batch late at night
they’re going to recommend that it graduate the first 10 minutes for features.” will most likely not be excited to dive into
to the next level of grading? Most say that — Festival Programmer your two-and-a-half-hour indie epic after
10-15 minutes is all that’s needed for fea- already staring at their MacBook screen for
tures, and the first few are all that’s needed “After watching thousands of features hours. For screeners, there’s a unique joy in
for shorts. There may be a rare case where a over the years, it’s usually obvious noticing that the next film in your queue is
film sticks its landing in the third act, lead- within the first five minutes if a film has a zippy 75 minutes.
ing to a recommendation, but for the most a strong vision or is mediocre. But all
part, the screeners we polled can pinpoint films are watched throughout because “Edit, edit, edit! So many films
worthwhile projects early in the runtime. films often have surprise turns in benefit from being shorter. It’s a
More interesting is that while a large quality deep into their running time, detriment to fall in love with your film
number of screeners said they knew within for better or worse.” so much that you don’t want to cut
this short timeframe what their final grade —Senior Producer anything. A story that’s told tightly
would likely be, 44 percent of screeners also and leaves the audience wanting more
made clear that they still watch every sub- “Recently, I was about to call my is much more attractive than too many
mission to completion. Thirty-seven percent festival director and tell her I found the details.”
said they occasionally fail to finish viewing next great film we were looking for. I was —Programmer
a submission and only 19 percent said they one third of the way in, it was absolutely
frequently stop a film submission early. So, rocking… and then it fell apart. It “Keep the story as efficient
while their instincts are often correct, they no longer followed the path it had as possible. Cut anything
still ensure that each submission is given its established. It was still interesting and that doesn’t work
fair shake. well done, but my call with great news perfectly for you.”
In David Mamet on Dramatic Construction, turned into a two-star review.” —Program Director
the renowned playwright, screenwriter, and — Assistant Festival Director
director says bluntly, “When the lights go “The shorter, the
down, you’ve got the audience’s attention. “I try to watch them all the way better. We want to
It’s yours to lose. Can you keep their atten- through unless they are absolutely program as many films
tion moment to moment? Because if not, terrible. You usually know the great as possible and we can’t
the play’s over. Anybody who ever says, ones within the first 10 minutes, do that if your short is
‘Oh, you should have stayed, the movie but sometimes a fast start doesn’t 45 minutes.”
gets better in the second half’… always sustain.” —Shorts Programmer
I always say, ‘Then they should — Programming Director
have put the second half
first.’” In a festival submis-
sion screening context,
this is even more
important, because
your audience
is not seated
in a theater

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 65


5
DISTRIBUTION

STAY ON TARGET “While it can be an


Our survey par- advantage, casting
ticipants stress the a star ultimately
need to really know cannot help a bad film.”
the profile of every —Program Director
festival you consider
submitting to. Though “Don’t spend your budget
it seems obvious, some on famous actors. Diversify
moviemakers make the mistake of your cast, but don’t tell someone
applying to anything and everything, when a else’s story. Keep it simple.”
targeted strategy would save them both time —Programming Associate
and money. If, say, a prestigious European
festival only accepts a small handful of
American films each year and they all tend MAKE YOUR OWN TIE-BREAKS
to be from prominent New York moviemak- When questioned about how diversity
ers, don’t assume you have a great shot at factors into the programming process, the
getting in as an unknown from the Pacific response was more split, with some partic-
Northwest. ipants saying they prioritize the quality of
material over a diverse cast and crew and
“Do your research. Don’t waste money others saying that diverse hiring absolutely
submitting to festivals that don’t have factors into their decision-making process.
the right audience for your film. See Common among responses, though, was
what they have programmed in the the idea that a project’s diversity is help-
past and identify trends based on who If you can leverage connections to attach ful in breaking ties between two films of
programs where. Ask other filmmakers mid-to-high tier actors to your project, go similar merit.
what their experience was like at a for it—just don’t put all of your eggs into the
festival to evaluate that festival’s specious basket of star-hunting. “We are conscious of promoting
current status.” Indeed, when polled regarding immediate diversity, but quality of submission
—Programmer tip-offs that a submission is not up to snuff, is still the most important factor.”
most participants pointed to bad sound —Programmer
“Go to film festivals—that’s the only design, bad acting, and bad visuals. Adds
way to see what’s getting accepted and one surveyed programmer: “Bad title font “Promoting diversity is significant
what your current competition is.” is another giveaway. That points to bad aes- for us. And yes, if it comes down to two
—Selection Committee Member thetics, which usually means the film isn’t equally good films, we will often pick
going to stand up visually.” the one that gives our festival more
“Do your homework. Don’t just diversity.”
randomly send your films out to festivals “Bad sound tanks a film immediately.” —Festival Founder
you find on some list. If you truly care, —Submissions Judge
research, reach out, and contact festival “If two films close in quality are in
directors with real questions. If they care “I’ll accept a lot of other flaws outside consideration, we will always choose
about you, they will pay attention and of bad acting and bad sound.” the film about/by the less well-
write back to you personally.” —Programming Coordinator represented group.”
—Executive Director —Artistic Director
“It’s a red flag if any character has to ex-
plain what they’re doing (show, don’t tell), “I don’t let it impact the early screening
SOUND INVESTMENTS or if the sound isn’t good. If you can only process, but for tie breaking, diversity
A majority of our survey participants pay one person, pay your sound guy.” factors in.”
agree that seeing a star pop up in a film —Shorts Programmer —Executive Director
doesn’t factor much at all into whether that
film moves ahead to the next stage of review. “Bad sound can sink your submission “If I had a final vote on a pair of equally
In some cases, they may actually grade that quickly.” deserving films, I would likely lean
film more harshly, knowing that a certain —Programmer toward promoting diversity.”
budget level and the privilege of being able —Submissions Screener
to lock down such an actor are both at play. “For fiction films, a tell-tale sign of poor
So, as long as your budget is ultra-thin, quality is when the acting is awful. There “Diversity can help a good film,
your cash will probably be best spent on the aren’t many fiction films that are of much but not a mediocre film.”
quality of your essentials: sound, produc- value if the acting is unconvincing.” —Programmer
tion design, locations, and proper lighting. —Artistic Director

66 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


A L ATE LINK IS A WEAK LINK “Do your research and read the rules “Festival programmers are in a fairly
Festival programmers can’t afford to wait for the festival. Nothing says ‘amateur’ small network. Most of us know each other
until all submissions are in before they begin like emailing us questions when the and we talk, so don’t be a jerk. We like work-
evaluating projects. You’re putting yourself answers are clearly stated in the submis- ing with friendly people, just like you do.”
at an inherent disadvantage by submitting sion language. Fill out the additional —Programmer
later, so be sure to plan your post-production information on the submission plat-
schedule far enough in advance that you form. It doesn’t hurt to have a log line, “Not getting picked doesn’t mean your
make the initial submissions deadline. a director’s bio and a cover letter. The movie isn’t good; it just might not be a
Give your festival submission the same more personalized your submission, the good fit for the festival. We have a lim-
level of care that you would a college or job better. Also, don’t forget to change the ited number of slots and know what our
application. Vimeo is the go-to platform name of the festival when you’re mass audiences expect for the price of a pass
for submissions. That doesn’t mean that a emailing people and don’t assume the to a weekend of movies, which is different
programmer won’t consider a YouTube link, person you’re emailing is a dude. Noth- than a one-off moviegoing experience. We
but they’re probably going to be suspicious ing is worse than reading an email from are respectful when we reject a film. If you
of your industry know-how if you send one. someone who got your festival name respond with anger, we will remember that
Always follow the submission instructions wrong and misgendered you.” and possibly mention that to colleagues at
closely. You can’t afford to give a screener —Programmer other festivals. That doesn’t improve your
any reason to feel uneasy about recommend- chances of acceptance going forward.”
ing your film up the chain of command. —Programmer
TRUST THE PROCESS
“Submit early to get in the system for as We’ll leave you with some parting words “The system isn’t stacked against you.
little money as possible, then continue to on the attitude and fortitude you’ll need to Make a good film and it will get into the
update your Vimeo link as you refine the keep your head up as you work on finding festival that’s right for it.”
cut and add final color, sound, music, your film its most fitting festivals and ideal —Festival Director
etc. Do not change your Vimeo password audience:
or link.” “Don’t worry about genre, taboos, trends,
—Senior Producer or tropes. Whether your film is commer-
cial, experimental, or anywhere in
“I wouldn’t submit on the latest dead- between, stay true to your
line. It’s expensive and many programs, idea and make the best
though not set in stone, have been film you can make with no
decided by then.” excuses. Regardless of your
—Programmer genre or tone, a well-made
film will almost always
“Have an extensive press be appreciated and will
kit on your FilmFreeway increase your chances
page with links, an in-depth of being watched and
synopsis, and a director programmed.”
bio. Show that you are —Selection Committee
professional and have Member
put time and effort into
presenting your film in Although the goal of festival
the best possible light.” submissions is almost always to
—Festival Director screen and distribute your movie,
don’t forget that this process
“When I’m in doubt about a is one of trial and error,
film, I read everything research and develop-
that’s sent to me. I like ment. As a programmer
to know more about we polled wisely advises,
the filmmakers and “Don’t be turned off by
the process they went this report. There’s a
through. I also like to festival for every film and
see production shots a film for every festival.
and posters. Keep Submit to the ones whose
descriptions short and vision you agree with and
succinct, but tell your want to support, whether
story.” you’re accepted or not.”
—Festival Director MM

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 67


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DISTRIBUTION

BARE BONES
FACTORY
How a car accident, an epiphany,
and 20 years of adaptation
in the industry fueled one of
independent cinema’s leading
small distributors
B Y M AT T G R A D Y

WAS PRETTY EXCITED when

I MovieMaker asked me to write


about the current state of
distribution and how small dis-
tributors like mine, Factory 25, events for the university, I lost interest in my utors and I studied them closely, realizing
have been able to make it work through the pre-determined management role selling base- I wanted to move in that direction, and I
years releasing small indie films. That initial ball cards, though it did seem like the path released my first DVD as part of VTI of
excitement, however, turned to soul search- of least resistance to a comfortable life. Then, Beat Girl. I was also dealing with all aspects
ing when I realized that I was writing this during the summer of prior to my senior of DVD production, from design to printing
during the 10th anniversary week of Factory year, I had a car accident and ended up in the to manufacturing. In the beginning of 2002,
25’s first release. Yes, exactly 10 years ago hospital for a month recuperating from my I was made aware of Plexifilm, a new distri-
to the day, September 29, 2009, Factory 25 injuries, listening to everyone say how lucky bution company starting up in NYC looking
released Ronald Bronstein’s Frownland, I was to survive the crash and re-learning how for someone to head up the production side.
a polarizing film that many thought was to walk after weeks of not doing so.
unreleasable. (Not me.) It was the film that All I did during that month in the hospital THE PLEXIFILM YEARS
made me want to branch out on my own was watch films. The hospital had a VHS set- I moved to Brooklyn in 2002 to join
and start my own, one-person distribution up and my mom would rent at least six films Gary Hustwit’s startup distribution compa-
company. And that’s exactly what I did. a day for me to watch. I had an epiphany as ny. It was a pretty big risk giving up the gig
one often does after a near-death experience. in Boston, but Plexifilm seemed to have the
CRASHING THE GATE Mine wasn’t “I survived and now I’m going to scrappy DIY ethos I was looking for. Even
My first involvement in film was co-host- climb Mount Everest or bike across America.” though Plexifilm hadn’t released a film yet
ing a film night at my dorm at the Universi- Mine was “I survived and I’m going to figure and was based in Gary’s apartment, he
ty of New Hampshire where I was studying out how to make films.” had already acquired some films that
economics. The programming, when my co- After wrapping up school and working I loved, including Benjamin Smoke,
host picked the film of the week, was mainly as an assistant editor at The Daily Planet, Style Wars, Ciao! Manhattan, and
mainstream action: Raiders of the Lost Ark, a commercial post house, I ended up in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s
a Batman film, or whatever the latest James sales at a post/duplication house in Boston Mysterious Object at Noon. They were also
Cameron film was. He always had a good called Video Transfer, Inc. (VTI). I somehow producing I Am Trying to Break Your Heart:
COURTESY OF MATT GRADY / FACTORY 25

turnout. Those films bored me and I would convinced VTI to let me start and manage a A Film About Wilco. The initial line-up of
pick films by Peter Greenaway, David Lynch DVD wing of the company, as I believed that films landed Plexifilm a physical distribu-
or Alex Cox. The crowds were smaller but new disc technology was going to blow up. tion deal with Ryko Distribution, a music
more passionate. At the time there were less than a thousand distribution company that wanted to get
Back then, I never even considered any type DVDs in the marketplace and within a year in the ever-growing DVD market place.
of career in film, thinking I would use my eco- I was managing a staff of 14. At one point This deal enabled Plexifilm to expand and
nomics degree and at some point take over my early on in the life of DVDs, I was proud to move to Soho, taking over the Beggars
dad’s baseball card and sporting goods shop be able to say that I produced 1 percent of Banquet/4AD lease of their old offices.
40 miles west of the university in commercial films on DVD, which included In 2005, there was still a huge demand
Manchester. As I spent more time at the the whole Dolemite series. This was my first for DVDs and Plexifilm left Ryko to become
collage radio station and booking bands and experience dealing with studios and distrib- Caroline Distribution’s first DVD label. At

68 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


would take most of Plexifilm’s small indies. realized quickly that you can make your own
Over time at Plexifilm the staff varied from rules and only release films you love if there’s
six to eight employees, but around 2006 DVD no one else around to convince you otherwise.
sales were dropping and digital wasn’t picking After having the films lined up, I approached
up the slack. After the success of his first film, my connections at Warner to see if they
Helvetica, Gary wanted to focus on directing, would take me on as a label with these titles
and who could blame him? He’d made a and some new ideas. Having experienced the
pretty great film. I wanted to bring film market change dramatically and seeing DVD
distribution to another level and there were a sales bottom out during my last few years at
bunch of films that Plexifilm would never put Plexifilm, I realized changes had to be made
out that I wanted to release myself. So, Gary to the model. I would do as much as I could
and I went our separate ways in 2009 and I do myself and hire freelancers when needed:
started Factory 25. I already had good connections. I’d always
respected how indie music labels went with
THE FACTORY 25 YEARS a 50/50 net split model and decided to make
The first thing I needed was a name. that a hard rule so that moviemakers felt that
Twenty-five was the actual number of the I’d treat their film the same as all the other
Virginia factory where the Honus Wagner films in the catalog. All movies and movie-
T206 tobacco baseball card—one of the most makers get the same deal. Factory 25 has
valuable, fetishized, and obsessed-over continued to do that, even though some sales
pieces of ephemera of the 20th century—was agents don’t appreciate that model when I
printed. The first thing I did after coming up refuse to negotiate with them.
with the name was cross-reference the amaz- I also knew that I wanted to create physi-
ing defunct Factory Records, and I found that cal fetish items that people would want as
this point, all that mattered were DVD sales their catalog number 25 was the album Closer much, or even more, than they wanted just
and the biggest part of that was becoming by Joy Division—one of my favorite records of the DVD. So, I set about building the world
Netflix. I was getting pretty good at guessing all time. Factory 25 was born. of the films in a physical form and release
how many discs Netflix would take, and that I reached out to moviemakers I had a series of DVDs combined with vinyl re-
became the yardstick by which to judge what worked with in the past, or on films that cords. (No one that had tried that approach
kind of advance a film would receive. Netflix Plexifilm passed on that I was really into. before.) Frownland, the first limited edition
was buying hundreds of spindled unpack- The first group of films I picked up were vinyl release, was packed with goodies
aged discs for 50 percent of retail, which was Frownland (SXSW), Damon and including a 16mm strip cut from a print, a
huge for their bottom line, as packaging of Naomi’s 1001 Days, Ben Wolfinsohn’s comic drawn by the lead actress in charac-
the discs often cost up to five times of what High School Record (Sundance), ter, an on-set drawing by the lead actor, and
the DVD disc cost. Even though Netflix didn’t You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk, a two-sided newsprint poster.
pay per rental—an issue many moviemak- and Matt Boyd’s All the Way From Michigan Warner came on board to distribute
ers had with them at the time—it was still Not Mars. All fit into the punk attitude of Factory 25 films digitally and physically and
the best deal going combined with big box moviemaking I cared about and wanted to get gave a modest advance to get the company
retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, Borders, out into the world. In the beginning, I ques- rolling. I prepped the September releases and
and Barnes and Noble, dedicating such large tioned if I could run a distribution company sent press lists and over 160 physical DVDs
amounts of real estate to DVDs that they on my own without a support staff, but of each title to press. (These are things that
just don’t exist anymore: Most critics now
DP SEAN PRICE only want links.) I also came up with unique
WILLIAMS (L) SHOOTS packaging and released DVD-only editions of
CHRISTMAS, AGAIN , the films. Netflix’s last major Factory 25
ONE OF MANY DEEPLY
PERSONAL INDIE physical purchase, before the DVD rental site
RELEASES THAT MATT shifted its focus to becoming the streaming
GRADY’S FACTORY site it is today, was of Frownland—a purchase
COURTESY OF MATT GRADY / FACTORY 25

25 HAS CHAMPIONED of over 1,000 copies that ended up covering


OVER THE YEARS
all of the production of the limited edition
LET’S GET PHYSICAL: packaging. The other titles had mixed suc-
GRADY FOUND A NICHE cess, but the Chicago punk film soundtrack
MARKET BY CREATING limited edition had a niche and did well.
LIMITED EDITION The next round of films was more of a chal-
PACKAGES FOR
YOU WEREN’T THERE: lenge but included Until the Light Takes Us,
A HISTORY OF CHICAGO my most successful physical title on DVD and
PUNK Blu-ray, along with a handful of other titles.
This round, I was so inspired by the idea of
cool editions of each film that I released three

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 69


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DISTRIBUTION

FACTORY 25 RELEASED MOVIEMAKER TIM SUTTON’S


DEBUT FEATURE, PAVILION , THEATRICALLY IN 2013
BEFORE ISSUING A LIMITED RUN PINK VINYL LP/DVD
RELEASE FOR FANS AND COLLECTORS

versions of each… a huge mistake, and an


even bigger learning experience. One of my
favorite films on the catalog ended up losing
$40,000, which could have sunk the company,
but through stubbornness and perseverance
Factory 25 survived. These films could have
worked if only one version of each had been
released, but the shrinking physical media
marketplace had no need for a DVD, a Blu-ray, producing films using the Factory 25 produc-
and a limited edition vinyl/DVD. tions moniker, and have produced eight micro-

“I’ve only survived the


This, combined with the digital/VOD not budget features and two episodic series over
reaching a point to offset slow DVD sales, the past five years. By producing the films in-

wild west of the last


led to Warner re-evaluating the relationship. house on a low budget scale, I’ve been able to
They stopped funding Factory 25 titles in release those films either by distributing myself
2012 after 14 releases. At this time, transac- through Factory 25 or via other partnerships.
tional digital sales were starting to increase
but Warner had bigger titles to focus on, so
10 years of film Over the past four years Factory 25 has
had ups and downs as streaming platforms
I ended up pulling my films digitally from
Warner, going direct to many of the plat-
distribution by being come and go. Still, sales to the new outlets,
both domestic and international, have over-
forms, and partnering with Oscilloscope to
aggregate the films to other platforms.
passionate about every shadowed the loss from transactional sales
(renting or buying a digital copy of a single
During 2012, Factory 25 began to focus on
week-long theatrical releases of 18 films in
acquisition, keeping film) dying as quickly as DVDs did previ-
ously. Factory 25 has also built its catalog by
NYC. Small theatrical runs aren’t huge money-
makers, but they do give films a higher
overhead as low as acquiring American indies made over the
past decade that I was able to acquire when
profile and significantly more press than a
physical release, and that gave us the critical possible, and rolling their original distribution deals expired.
I’m proud and passionate about every
momentum needed acquire more films from
major festivals and receive digital interest in with every change in the film in the Factory 25 catalog, which includes
early work by such ascendant independents
those films. At the time, new theaters were
popping up in NYC, including the reRun industry as it happens.” as Alex Ross Perry, Amy Seimetz, Benny and
Josh Safdie, David and Nathan Zellner,
theater and The 92nd Street Y in Tribeca, Joe Swanberg, Andrew Bujalski,
which, combined with The IFC Center, BAM, Sophia Takal, Joel Potrykus, and many more.
Anthology Film Archives, and Film Forum I’ve only survived the wild west of the
made it a great time for bold programming of the best-curated streaming sites, interested last 10 years of film distribution by being
low-budget indies. Demand was growing for in the type of personal films that Factory 25 passionate about every acquisition, keeping
American indies and I quickly became friends was releasing. Physical media was continu- overhead as low as possible, trying new
with many of the programmers and never ing to die, but that aspect of film was still physical forms of distribution (like releas-
had to four-wall (rent the cinema for the run). important to me, so I went outside the ing a novelization of Uncle Kent 2 with a
Throughout this time, I was able to keep normal distribution model to get co-spon- download card), learning how to do any
Factory 25 rolling by maintaining a com- sorships and grants from Sundance Artist aspect of production/distribution I can, and
pany size of one (just me and some interns, Services, Bittorent, Media Arts Assistance rolling with every change in the industry as
whenever possible) and moving from my Fund, and Fandor to create books and ended it happens. During my 20 years as a small
COURTESY OF MATT GRADY / FACTORY 25

Greenpoint office to a home office. Through up releasing a series of limited 7"x7" books distributor, I’ve seen revenue rely upon a
the post-Warner period, Factory 25 was selling with DVDs that Factory 25 could essentially variety of models, and observed the ways in
enough physical releases direct to consumers print on demand and assemble. By keeping which theatrical distribution consistently
(while I directed music videos and produced costs down and not over-manufacturing brings invaluable exposure to a film.
DVDs for other companies and record labels) physical releases, I was able to continue No one would have guessed the current
to pay the bills and keep my new vision of a to create unique artifacts for collectors distribution paradigm 10 years ago and no
film label rolling. and make a profit with some books selling one really knows where distribution is headed
In 2013, theatrical distribution continued hundreds of copies, instead of having to sell over the next 10 years, but I plan on adapting
to thrive for Factory 25 and there were new thousands to break even. to any direction it takes. If you hope, like I do,
digital avenues opening up—like Fandor, a In 2014, while continuing to acquire and to look back on another 10 years of success in
great source of revenue for years and one of distribute around 10 films per year, I started 2029, you just have to stay on your toes. MM

70 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


OUR FIFTH ANNUAL SPECIAL EDITION

THE 2020 GUIDE TO


MAKING
HORROR
MOVIES

WITH GUEST EDITOR ROBERT EGGERS


25 BLOODY BEST GENRE FESTS 2020
2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

REVEL IN THE
DARKNESS…
WHILE IT ROCKING AND ROLLING: WRITER-DIRECTOR ROBERT EGGERS (R) AND STAR ROBERT PATTINSON (L) GET READY TO

LASTS ROLL AS THE LIGHTHOUSE GOES BEFORE CAMERAS ON THE ROCKY SHORES OF NOVA SCOTIA

there were always the brave Larry Fessendens


of the world making small, interesting horror
James Wan make resplendently crafted hor-
ror for wide audiences with critical success
BY ROBERT EGGERS
films throughout this period.  to boot. Panos Cosmatos makes midnight
But according to my cloudy memory, it movies with visuals as rich as any classical
was in 2008 that the fantastic and singular painting. It is the highest grossing horror film

I
NITIALLY, I didn’t think I was Let The Right One In was released as perhaps of all time. And thanks to the success of
qualified to write a piece on the the first movie to check all the boxes that The Babadook, Jennifer Kent now makes
state of horror cinema today. would constitute elevated horror today. In my utterly fearless films like The Nightingale on a
I take pride in locking myself view, that film was the beginning of the cur- hearty canvas to show us what real horror is.
away in the past, exploring rent horror epoch. Ti West’s significant oeuvre So many talented moviemakers are now given
obscurities. But then I remembered that began the following year. Lars Von Trier’s the opportunity to make interesting personal
I also saw The Curse of La Llorona and the Antichrist, also released in 2009, was followed films under the fiscally responsible umbrella
Pet Sematary reboot on their opening week- by Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan in 2010— of “genre.” There’s still room for a good dose
ends. So, warily, I’ll take a crack at it.  both of which continued to restore credibility of money-grabbing, surface-level, schlocky
It would probably be helpful to begin the and excitement to this kind of cinema with horror, and that’s great, too. But it’s these per-
discussion with the apocalyptic their directors’ auteur status. sonal films that have helped increase the cin-
political climate and relate that to introduction From there, the titles increased ematic vocabulary of the average consumer of
the current cultural explosion of exponentially every year. Thanks media. I find that very inspiring. (Who would
the horror genre. Unfortunately, I’m always to the financial success of Black Swan, have anticipated a folk horror revival?)
unsure about how these cycles of stories and The Cabin in the Woods, and especially  From St. Guillermo del Toro, to newer voices
archetypes re-constellate themselves. I don’t It Follows—which was smaller and less easily like Julia Ducournau, to the formidable team
see a clear pattern of when and why. M. R. perceived as commercial than the former of Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, there are
James and Arthur Machen’s work flourished titles—the floodgates opened. I’m a grateful important moviemakers and films absent from
in a decadent age. Universal’s Horror renais- beneficiary of these prior successes. Mean- this short walk down memory lane. But the
sance was during the Great Depression. while, films like Insidious, The Conjuring, and point is clear. Today, there’s fantastic work out
And this current wave of so-called “elevated Fede Álvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead remake, encour- there for every horror palette. It seems that we
horror” began during the Obama presidency aged even broader audiences to buy popcorn, arrived here by moviemakers being brave and
and is thriving under Trump. There must be a too. Some of the courageous films of this being true to themselves… and by financiers
cultural need for horror at certain moments in period, like Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody’s and distributers being willing to take risks, too.
time, but I’m not equipped to explain why. Let Jennifer’s Body, were ahead of their time and I eagerly await the chances that moviemakers
me instead try to remember how we got here. have since become cult classics. All of these take, pushing the boundaries of genre, with a
I’ll begin in the early 2000s, when there smart genre films ignited or reignited the hungry, seemingly ever-broadening audience.
were many films that arguably laid the ground public consciousness and appetite for horror. We will probably reach peak saturation soon,
work for today’s elevated genre films. (Many of Now, in 2018 and ’19, a horror-ified so let’s revel in the darkness while it lasts. MM
the classic horror films of the previous century Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a pop-culture
would be considered “elevated” if they were phenomenon. Oz Perkins and Lukas Feigelfeld
made in the past decade.) Influential films make beautiful, ambient tales to cherish. Robert Eggers is a Brooklyn-based writer and
from world cinema, like Ju-On: The Curse Blumhouse is a household horror name—a director from New Hampshire. His debut,
(2000), and arthouse gems like Claire Denis’ new Hammer—and has grown into making The Witch—winner of the Directing Award
Trouble Every Day (2001), or the timeless successful sequels of coveted classics. Shudder in the U.S. Dramatic category at the 2015
COURTESY OF A24

film The Others (2001), are just a few notable is a streaming service dedicated to horror, Sundance Film Festival—and his latest film,
works. It’s accepted that the mid-aughts had only. Ari Aster makes gleefully punishing The Lighthouse, are set against twisted visions
a deficit in commercial horror as torture porn David-Lean-epic-length folk horror, and then of old New England. The Lighthouse, starring
reigned supreme. Of course, there was the oc- makes an even longer version to a cheering Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, opened in
casional movie that stood out. And thankfully, crowd. (Go get ’em, buddy.) Jordan Peele and theaters October 18, 2019, courtesy of A24.

72 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

HELL ON REELS
Fresh off of his trilogy-capping new film, 3 From Hell, writer-director Rob Zombie tablished roles, like Bill and Sheri, were the
reflects on the good, the bad, and the ugly of horror moviemaking kind who understood that they were there
to support cast members new to the mate-
BY ROB ZOMBIE, AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN rial, like Richard Brake (who plays Otis and
Baby’s partner in crime, Foxy Coltrane).
In the past, I’ve cast actors who’ve come
in with the attitude of, “There’s me, and

T
WENTY YEARS AGO, when idea has long been established and explored then there’s everybody else.” But you’re
I came up with the characters in satire. But I never really try to “comment” not going to be better in a scene if you’re
of my 2003 debut feature, on anything like that in my films. To me, the making someone else in it worse. When
House of 1000 Corpses, I thought, story just seemed matter-of-fact: If my char- Richard came aboard the project, nobody
“Cool, we’ll put out this little acters managed to survive a deadly shootout said, “Who’s he? We’ve been doing these
movie and people will either love it or hate with police and were arrested alive, as they characters for 20 years and now he’s gonna
it.” But then Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley), are in 3 From Hell, then the trial of the cen- be a part of it?” There was no ego weirdness.
Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie), and tury would ensue. It seemed merely logical Everybody knew that they were there to
Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) started ap- that, given the way Otis, Baby, and Spaulding make each other better.
pearing on T-shirts, posters, and as action look and talk, they would become media Although Richard was new to the universe
figures or people’s tattoos. By the time I sensations, much like when the Manson of this trilogy, I had already connected with
released my 2005 sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, Family became martyrs to some among the him when he starred in my 2016 feature, 31.
the characters had grown in popularity and hippie youth in the early 1970s… before they Some directors love to have a clean slate of all
COURTESY OF LIONSGATE / SABAN FILMS

were now commonplace Halloween costumes shaved their heads, carved swatiskas into new actors they’ve never met or worked with
and masks. In 3 From Hell, my new film that their foreheads, and lost whatever they had before on each new project, but to me that
completes the trilogy centered around these of the youth vote. When the Manson Family would feel weird. That mentality might come
characters, their fame as serial killers ap- still looked like lost members of The Allman from being in a band, where you have the
proaches rock star status. It’s a story concept Brothers, they somehow fit into the coun- same group of people you’re always creating
inspired by the celebrity of the characters terculture, and I thought that’s what would with. Once I find the company of people I’m
I’d seen develop over the years. happen with my characters if they were real. clicking with, we usually start thinking about
Obviously, any widely publicized serial what different creative choices we can make
killers, be they John Wayne Gacy, BANDING TOGETHER together on the next project.
Richard Ramirez, or the Manson Family, The great thing about making 3 From Hell Ultimately, though, my decision to work
become beyond famous to the public. That was that the actors who’ve been in these es- with any actor more than once comes down

74 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< BLAZE OF GLORY: BABY FIREFLY (SHERI MOON ZOMBIE,
C) AND OTIS DRIFTWOOD (BILL MOSELEY, R) MAKE A NEW
FIENDISH FRIEND IN FOXY COLTRANE (RICHARD BRAKE,
L) BEFORE ONE LAST STAND IN WRITER-DIRECTOR
ROB ZOMBIE’S 3 FROM HELL

<< TRICKS ARE TREATS: ZOMBIE SAYS ONE OF HIS


FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT MAKING 3 FROM HELL WAS
USING TRICK SHOTS TO FOOL AUDIENCES

tice that supposedly “new” areas are shot in


the same spot. It’s fun when I can say, “Oh,
the actors walked through that door and
entered into this room three weeks later in
a completely different location and you’ll
never know.” Even people who’ve worked
on it will say, “Wait, did we shoot that on
location or is that the soundstage?” They
can’t even tell.
It’s funny, sometimes, what you can learn
about stuff that seems really basic, yet slips
your mind when you’re moving so fast and
chaotically in production. You might think,
“That’s weird… we rented this giant castle
for a major location and I only shot people
in close-up inside of it. How fucking stupid
was that?” When we entered production on
31, we shot in an abandoned power plant,
and I made sure to shoot every conceivable
to whether they dig deep and take their gage: If they’ve had good or bad experiences angle of it until there was nowhere else
role seriously—not as a joke. A lot of the on other sets, they may expect to have the to shoot and we had maxed out every inch
time, due to the nature of my material, same good or bad experiences with you. If of the space, getting the most back for our
some actors seem flippant about how they’ll you don’t click with your actors, it can lead to buck. Today, I can make a movie with less
approach it. I’ll think, “That’s not how I’m a disaster that slows down your crew and the money and less time better than I could
approaching it. I’m not asking for campy whole production entirely, and that’s 10 years ago with twice as much money
‘horror acting.’ I’m asking you to give me a nightmare. But if you do, you can always and time. Going in prepared for anything
the best performance you can. Don’t try to take the material to another level, because that could possibly leave room for error just
think you know what acting in horror film your cast will be willing to do anything. comes with experience.
is if you don’t.”
Actors will often ask me, “Is it OK if TRICK SHOTS SOUR NOTES
I change this one word?,” and I’ll say, “Yeah, We shot much of 3 From Hell in the At the end of the day, all films of any
I don’t care. Twist it, make it come from your Sybil Brand Institute—a defunct all-female budget size suffer from the same problems.
own voice.” They’re always surprised: “Oh, jail in Monterey Park of Los Angeles County Even if you have an extra 20 days or an
good, because on most movies, if I change —which was tricky, because the place is ac- extra $10 million to shoot a movie, it doesn’t
one word, the director freaks out!” When tually not that big. Depicting what is in fact matter. You have to stay on top of every-
you’re working with an actor for the first a small women’s prison as this huge entity thing at all times.
time, they’re just getting to know you and was a challenge. I love using movie tricks, Obviously, a bigger budget means that
they may come to the set with their own bag- fooling the audience so that they don’t no- more people with an opinion are going

“After I finished Halloween II, I was so beat up by the process


that I hated making movies, and even hated watching them…
With a lower budget, you’re not going to get that much
interference. You’re below the radar…”
MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 75
2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

> CHOKE ARTIST: UNDER THE DIRECTION OF


HUSBAND ROB, MOON ZOMBIE (R) DISHES CO-STAR
DEE WALLACE (L) A CRAFTY KILL IN 3 FROM HELL

>> WARDING OFF EVIL: IN 3 FROM HELL , FREQUENT


ZOMBIE COLLABORATOR JEFF DANIEL PHILLIPS PLAYS
VIRGIL DALLAS HARPER, A PRISON WARDEN TAKEN
HOSTAGE BY THE TITULAR THREE ESCAPED INMATES

to get involved. You have to listen to them,


but you’re going to have more fights.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Try not to think
about that stuff. Your only goal is to keep
fighting and get the film done.
Some days you’ll be exhausted. I’ve gone
into the production office and put my head
down on the desk with a migraine because remember where the original note came from, in.” I don’t mind if somebody has an opin-
I’d been fighting with people literally all how much weight should I put behind it? ion. Not everything I think or say is perfect.
day over something—about casting choices, Halloween and Halloween II were the It’s just that you can’t have a lunatic be the
about location choices, about scheduling. most studio-argumentative films I’ve ever person who’s giving you the note.
But the biggest thing that will drive a mov- made. There was so much chaos coming
iemaker crazy is when you and your team from the studio that it was almost freezing TEST Y SCREENINGS
know every bit of minutia that’s in your film the production and we could barely func- If you want to have your soul raped,
as if you had studied it under a microscope, tion. After I finished Halloween II, I was so attend a test screening sometime. That’s
only to have a studio person make some beat up by the process that I hated making where the studio decides that the director
blanket statement as if it’s the word of God. movies, and even watching them… I never knows nothing, and that a 14-year-old who
You’ll think, “Seriously? What you just said wanted to see another one again. walked in halfway through the movie has

COURTESY OF LIONSGATE / SABAN FILMS


is so fucking stupid. It’s like you don’t even With a lower budget, you’re not going to all the answers about what will work for
understand how movies are made, and you get that much interference. You’re below the your film. We did a test screening for
expect us to jump because you made some radar of what studio heads technically care Halloween II in New York City, and I swear
jackass, off-the-cuff statement that you may about because they haven’t invested $100 mil- to God, we were halfway into the movie
or may not have heard somewhere else?” lion into your project. After having just gone before people were even seated and paying
There have been times when someone has through a year of torturous insanity, when attention, and I thought, “Let me guess
given a note, and I ask, “Whose note is it?” it came to decide whether I would make what the first thing someone’s gonna say
and they’ll go, “We don’t remember.” Oh, The Lords of Salem, Blumhouse Productions is: ‘This movie doesn’t make any sense.’ ”
you don’t remember? Then what the fuck do I came to me and said, “Here’s the money. You Of course it doesn’t make sense—you
care? It could’ve been from the guy deliver- have complete control. We won’t get involved missed half the film! And yet, the studios
ing bagels to the office meeting! If you can’t in any way, shape, or form,” and I said, “I’m pretend as if they can corral an audience,

THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A MOVIEMAKER


BY ROB ZOMBIE, 3. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. A bigger 6. I don’t mind if somebody has an opinion.
AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN budget means that more people with an Not everything I think or say is perfect.
opinion are going to get involved. You have It’s just that you can’t have a lunatic be the
to listen to them, but you’re going to have person who’s giving you the note.
1. You’re not going to be better in more fights.
a scene if you’re making someone else 7. When you pick on someone in a test
in it worse. 4. Even if you have an extra 20 days or screening and ask, “What do you think?”
an extra $10 million to shoot a movie, it that person usually won’t have the film lan-
2. If you don’t click with your actors, doesn’t matter. You have to stay on top of guage to articulate your movie’s problems.
it can lead to a disaster that slows everything at all times. You might as well ask your dog to tell you
down your crew and the whole produc- how to fix the edit.
tion entirely. If you do, you can always 5. Shoot every conceivable angle of your
take the material to another level, location until there’s nowhere else to shoot 8. What you can get out of a test screening
because your cast will be willing to do and you max out every inch of the space. is an opportunity sit with an audience and
anything. Get the most bang for your buck. feel the room. If something in your film is

76 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


you’ve just got to fucking get it done before
the sun sets. Whenever my second AD or
cinematographer was yelling at me that we
were losing light, I always remembered that
and thought, “Ah, that’s what John meant.”
Years later, Universal made me fire my first
editor on House of 1000 Corpses—a movie
with its own fucked up production path—
and they brought in another editor,
Robert Lambert, who was coming off
of a bunch of big movies like Three Kings,
Mission to Mars, and I Heart Huckabees.
They thought he would be their inside man,
their guy who’d take notes from them, but
they didn’t realize that Bob was an old hip-
pie—a super-cool, fuck-the-system kind of guy
who had no interest in being a studio team
player. Right when Bob and I started working
take their notes, and make a great film. parents do you like the least?” You’ve put on the film together, Universal kicked me out
What you can get out of a test screening the kid on the spot and he needs to give and the project bounced around before find-
is an opportunity to sit with an audience an answer, but now he feels like he’s being ing a new home. And when we left Universal,
and feel the room. If something in your film interrogated by the KGB and he so clearly it wasn’t finished: There was no music, it
is supposed to be funny and no one laughs, doesn’t know what to say, so he’s trying to hadn’t been edited, there were still scenes left
it’s probably not funny. If everybody’s sup- tell you what he thinks you want to hear. to shoot. Bob’s advice was, “Whatever you do,
posed to be excited but they seem bored, it’s What is that gonna solve? That’s the part of finish the movie. Because if you don’t and it
probably not exciting. But when you pick on moviemaking that’s fucking wacky. If it was sits on a shelf, you will never finish it. It’ll sit
someone in a test screening and ask, “What helpful, I’d continue to do it, but it’s not. there for the rest of your life.”
do you think?,” that person usually won’t So I saved the wardrobe, brought our
have the film language to articulate your FINISHED BUSINESS actors in, and shot some of those scenes as
movie’s problems. You might as well ask Before I had ever made a movie, I went a one-man crew by myself in my house and
your dog to tell you how to fix the edit. down to the set of Escape from L.A. to hang at the top of the FX studio building. What-
You can show a test audience a movie out with John Carpenter. As he was showing ever it took, I got that movie finished. That
everybody loves—say, Jaws—and ask, me around, he told me, “You know what was the best thing anyone ever told me.
“Which of the three lead characters did directing is? Getting that army over that Moviemaking is a fucking weird business.
you like the least?” Some kid’ll say, “I liked mountain before the sun goes down.” I didn’t If you think it functions with any sort
Sheriff Brody the least.” “OK, so, what is it understand what he meant at the time, but of logic, you’re sadly mistaken. MM
about Sheriff Brody that you don’t like?” now I do. It means that you can sit around
“Um… he wears glasses.” The exercise and talk about art and all of this other stuff,
degenerates into nonsense because it’s as but when you’re there in the middle of 3 From Hell opened September 16, 2019,
if you’ve asked them, “Which one of your making a movie and it’s actually happening, courtesy of Lionsgate.

< MEXICAN STANDBY:


supposed to be funny and no one laughs,
BRAKE, MOON ZOMBIE,
it’s probably not funny. MOSELEY, AND ZOMBIE
(L TO R) HANG OUT ON
9. John Carpenter told me, “You know what LOCATION IN BETWEEN
directing is? Getting that army over that moun- TAKES OF 3 FROM
HELL ’S CLIMACTIC
tain before the sun goes down.” It means MEXICAN STANDOFF
you’ve just got to fucking get it done before
the sun sets.

10. My editor, Bob Lambert’s advice to me


was, “Whatever you do, finish the movie.
Because if you don’t and it sits on a shelf, you
will never finish it. It’ll sit there for the rest of
your life.” That was the best thing anyone
ever told me.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 77


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

DREAD
FROM THE
SAME PAGE
You can’t write horror that carries
over from script to screen without
trusting your characters, locations,
and collaborators’ instincts
BY VERONIK A FR ANZ AND SEVERIN FIAL A,
AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN

OR TWO MOVIEMAKERS Goodnight Mommy, became a focal point to horror, my father said, “You can watch ev-

F so thoroughly fascinated by
familial trauma, Veronika
Franz and Severin Fiala’s
own family dynamic has been
of critical discussion surrounding so-called
“elevated horror”—a trendy, albeit insufficient
term ascribed to any film made in the mid-
to-late 2010s that crafts genre tropes with the
erything else… just not that weird stuff with
chainsaws and monsters.” So, obviously that
became the only thing I was interested in.
My mother, not being much of a film fan, was
exceedingly healthy—so healthy, in fact, that style and narrative traits of arthouse cinema. never sure what was OK to show her kids and
the Austrian writer-directors’ potent profes- Its tale of a mother’s (Susanne Wuest) what wasn’t, so she showed us Psycho when
sional partnership is actually an outgrowth fractured relationship with her two sons I was 10. I wasn’t accustomed to suspense in
of their relationship as aunt and nephew. (Elias and Lukas Schwarz) is the progeni- movies, so when Marion Crane, played by
At 14, when the now-34-year-old Fiala was tor for The Lodge’s premise, which follows Janet Leigh, steals the money in the beginning
growing up with an insatiable appetite for a stepmother-to-be (Riley Keough) whose of the film, it was thrilling: “Where is this
horror films and no means of watching past demons disrupt her attempts to connect going?” After the twist in the shower scene,
them, he and Franz found a solution: While with her fiancé’s (Richard Armitage) reticent my realization that the film was going to
Franz was away on weekends covering film children (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) continue without its main character opened
festivals as a critic, Fiala would babysit her during a snowbound cabin retreat. The film’s up something in my brain. That experience
son at her home in Vienna, and instead of slow-burn cadence, suffocating atmosphere, showed me how cinema could toy with an
cash, Fiala would be paid in rentals of his and punctuated bursts of violence shocked audience by telling a story in a different way.
choice from Franz’s local video store. Their and awed midnight crowds at its Sundance
movie marathons evolved into a unique world premiere this year, proving that Veronika Franz (VF): My first experience
mentorship, and ultimately the two went a stateside appetite for such morbid mood with horror was seeing Roman Polanski’s
on to make their mark on an Austrian film pieces indeed persists. The Fearless Vampire Killers on television.
landscape sorely lacking in horror cinema. We asked Franz and Fiala to share The film is actually a comedy, but it was
Today, Franz and Fiala’s international a conversation on their approach to horror the first vampire movie I’d ever seen, so
reputation as auteurs of the genre is well- screenwriting, the difference between what’s I didn’t appreciate the humor in it. I was
established, and their latest and first English- on the page and what ends up on-screen, so frightened that I went to bed that night,
language film, The Lodge, is a testament and how haunting lead performances and barricaded my doors, and wrapped myself in
COURTESY OF NEON

to their ever-increasing influence in the locations can transform a script long after blankets. I was scared for weeks that a vam-
North American horror space. Alongside you think it’s “finished.” — M.W. pire would enter my room and bite me. Later,
Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, Robert Eggers’ I began watching more films on TV that were
The Witch, and David Robert Mitchell’s Severin Fiala (SF): My parents would let me intended to be scary, like The Exorcist,
It Follows, their 2014 feature, watch just about any film, but when it came which traumatized me. My first cinematic

78 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< RILED UP: IN THE LODGE , THE LATEST SLOW-BURN than you first suspected. This is especially
CHILLER FROM WRITER-DIRECTORS SEVERIN FIALA true when we’re first introduced to demon
AND VERONIKA FRANZ, RILEY KEOUGH PLAYS A SOON- who possesses Regan, played by
TO-BE STEPMOTHER FRAUGHT WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL
BAGGAGE Linda Blair: The demonic presence brings
out something unexpected in her.
VF: And questions about death, which are
also important. Still, when you’re 10 or 11, SF: Our 2014 film, Goodnight Mommy, and
you don’t really analyze the main character our new film, The Lodge, have traces of that.
dying in the middle of the movie. That criti-
cal engagement comes later, when you start VF: In our storytelling, we try to stick to char-
reflecting: “Why did that make such a huge acter. When you commit to the perspectives
impression?” of more than one character, there will be at
least two realities conflicting with each other
SF: Analysis is something you do only after in the film, and that creates multiple possi-
you’ve fallen in love with cinema. The point bilities for the audience interpreting a scene.
at which that started for me was in film
school, and then when you and I started SF: In Goodnight Mommy, there are two
making films together. As it’s happening, you perspectives clashing throughout the entire
understand more and more why and how film: Two kids are afraid that the woman
these films you fell in love with actually work. claiming to be their mother is not their
mother, and through the kids’ perspective,
VF: An analytical perspective can take away the woman appears monstrous—this mys-
from the pure joy and genuine fear of the terious, evil presence. Then when the film
experience, though. Every time you and I takes a different turn, things start to look
watch horror movies, we like to rediscover like the complete opposite. Shifting perspec-
that childish fear we once had. It’s important tives ultimately makes the film’s events
to try to forget about how a director is ma- much more tragic.
horror experience was seeing nipulating you and just experience what they
The Amityville Horror, and that scared the want you to experience as purely as possible. VF: That’s why, even if it’s harder or takes
shit out of me. But I found that I really liked longer to get it just right, we really try not
being scared to death by all of these films. SF: Yes, but that’s very hard for film critics and to place a scene in the script because we
You once told me that we share an enjoy- even harder for moviemakers. If you already feel we “need it now,” for plot purposes.
ment of nightmares, and I agree. know how everything is put together, it’s If a scene isn’t right for the characters, you
nearly impossible to get that out of your head. shouldn’t do it. We get many scripts from
SF: It helps to face dark subject matter in the U.S. to read with a lot of plot mechanics,
a safe environment. A horror film may scare VF: When it comes to thinking critically but when you look closer at them, you start
you and make you afraid of dying… but about process, I try to focus on narrative: thinking, “Would the characters do that?”
then it’s over. The experience is like almost How is the story being told? With That’s an immediate dead end.
riding a rollercoaster—but films, as opposed The Exorcist, for example, I’m interested in
to rollercoasters, can inspire more intel- its theme of the “faces” people wear—how SF: The film needs to make sense from all the
lectual thought. Being scared to death while the characters wear masks in their daily characters’ points of view, but the problem
you’re on the ride is a great way to trigger lives, and how when they change, you begin is that it’s much harder to write a script that
questions about yourself and about life. to see that their inner-self is much different way. With The Lodge, we always said we
wanted to achieve a kind of hypnotic, rhyth-
mic quality in the way the film unfolds.
It needed to cast a spell on the audience in
the same way the characters appear to be
cast under a spell themselves. That’s what
was in the writing.

VF: Yes, but I’m not sure if you could read


that in the script. Our method is that we
read the script out loud to each other, and

< CROSS TO BEAR: WHILE LOCATION SCOUTING, FIALA


AND FRANZ DISCOVERED A CRUCIFIX-SHAPED HOUSE
THAT WOULD BECOME AN IDEAL SYMBOL FOR THE
LODGE ’S THEMES OF RELIGIOUS GUILT

MOVIEMAKER.COM 79
2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

that’s a very painful process [laughs], be- very good at reading scripts and learning
cause when you read it out loud, you hear dialogue. So we’ve learned to improvise
how stupid the lines sound when we deliver a lot. That brings fresh life to a scene that
them too fast or too slowly. Our editor is a might otherwise be in danger of feeling too
cellist, so when we sit in the editing room technical.
together, that becomes the ultimate writing And in the same way that our writing
process. Moviemaking is deeply connected is a reaction to our location, we also
to musicianship, so his feel for the rhythm take parts of our leads—whether it’s
of a story made it easier to shape the film. Susanne Wuest in Goodnight Mommy
or Riley Keough in The Lodge—and
SF: There are also things on the page that incorporate them into the script, to make
we know we want a certain way, but that the characters feel real by more closely con-
are hard for producers or anyone else read- necting them to the people playing them.
ing the script to understand. In the script, Screenwriting is never really finished.
it might just mention “an empty hallway,”
and not much else. For a producer, that VF: When we write together, we discipline

“Stripping
might seem like a two-second shot of an each other. When you’re only writing on
empty hallway, and the atmosphere that your own, it’s difficult to get up at seven or
we want to create in the sequence doesn’t eight ’o clock, because you might not feel
translate to the script.
away anything inspired on that day. But if you’re working
as a pair, your writing partner will show

unnecessary or
VF: Our scripts are very short. The script up, and that will force you to sit down and
for Goodnight Mommy, a 99-minute film, try. We’re also each other’s first audience
is 65 or 70 pages. That can be difficult to members. If I tell you a stupid idea, you’ll
read if you don’t know how.
overwrought will say, “That’s a very stupid idea,” and then
we’ll drop it. There’s a sense of total trust

make your genre


SF: Martin Gschlacht, our cinematographer because we both know it’s for the good of
on Goodnight Mommy, said to us, “You have the film. It’s never about ego.
a problem: Your film is only going to be an
hour long.” We said, “Oh, we actually think
it’s going to be too long.” Our scripts always film stronger, not SF: Again, it sounds obvious, but everything
you do must in some way be important for

weaker.”
seem short, but we also know that the film the story you’re telling. Horror is one of the
will need time to breathe. Hypnotizing the genres that can address important issues
audience isn’t done with quick pacing and and still manage to consistently draw and
cuts and rushing through scenes. Making ­— SEVERIN FIALA AND VERONIKA FRANZ, entertain audiences. Many moviemakers
The Lodge, we knew that every scene that’s THE WRITER-DIRECTOR TEAM BEHIND might try to make horror films that are
short on the page would end up much longer bigger, with more special effects and other
THE LODGE
when we shot and edited it, because we distractions that cost a lot of time, money,
needed the characters to stay in the house and energy. But those things don’t help the

PHOTOGRAPH BY LUIS JAVIER VILLALBA / COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK


and feel the oppressiveness of the location. amazing attic! We saw it and both thought core of your film. The questions you have to
We found our location very late—just it was the most impressive thing in the entire ask are, “What are the things I really want
some weeks before the shoot. But generally house, so we needed to write something to tell the audience?” and “What’s the easi-
I think you need to find your location as centered around the attic. So, it’s 100 percent est way of telling them?” Stripping away
early as possible, then readjust your writ- necessary to adapt your script to your location anything unnecessary or overwrought will
ing to the location once you’ve found it. in real time. It’s about constantly improvising. make your genre film stronger, not weaker.

VF: Scouting for The Lodge, we found this VF: That’s why we don’t do any read- VF: And the big advantage of independent
crucifix-shaped house in the wilderness throughs with actors. Our scenes are care- genre moviemaking is the creative freedom.
almost accidentally. We couldn’t use it as fully written, but we want actors to deliver You may not have budgetary freedom, but
our main setting, but it was so strange that them in their own way. having less pressure from financiers means
it kept us thinking about how we could use you can really stick to your original vision.
it, so we wrote it into the script. SF: Coming from Austria, most actors are Don’t listen to the people saying, “This story
theatrically trained, so they’re used to playing isn’t possible, it’s too expensive to write.”
SF: You should definitely write with specific very dramatic stage acting, which can feel Fight for every idea you have. MM
locations in mind whenever possible. But one like overacting in film. So we’ve tried to work
scene in The Lodge set in an attic wasn’t in with non-actors in Austria because they’re
our first draft of the script because we didn’t less likely to fall into that trap. On the other The Lodge opens February 7, 2020, courtesy
know that the house would have such an hand, their lack of training makes them not of NEON.

80 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


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2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

LI GHT MARES
Eight DPs share the methods, gear, and fears that helped them paint the year’s standout scare cinema with light and shadow

BY MICHAEL GINGOLD
MAXIME ALEXANDRE story happens in a dark basement, but the
conception of the exterior illumination was
ON CRAWL key to the high-contrast lighting shapes that
defined the depth down there.
ORROR cinematographers The Approach: Vastness slowly becoming

H were a well-traveled bunch


when it came to the films
of 2019. Shooting on sunlit
fields outside Budapest
monochrome

How They Did It: The exciting part of my


approach on Crawl was that, for once,
Water, Water Everywhere: We had several
soundstages: the largest one for the exterior
house and neighborhood, another for the
house exterior and interiors, first and
(Midsommar), in the cramped, flooded darkness was not the primary source second floor—also used for underwater
darkness of sets in Belgrade, Serbia (Crawl), of tension. In Crawl, danger and tension filming—and a third stage for the basement
or on and off the streets of Brooklyn come from both underwater and the sur- and roof scenes. All of them had
(Daniel Isn’t Real), they found many face, so I focused on giving the audience to be shot in every way, be it in simple rain
inventive ways to scare and intrigue us. the most significant depth of field pos- or fully submerged. We had tons of techni-
MovieMaker’s third annual survey of the sible. Alligators could be anywhere, and cal difficulties, and not only because of the
imagemakers behind the year’s most fright- we increased the suspense by showing water. The best solution to properly lighting
ening screen moments reveal processes as the audience a lot of the storm that takes the enormous stages and the bluescreens
varied as the movies themselves. place in the film outdoors. A big part of the around them on the budget we had was

82 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< DOCTORING IMAGES: DAN TORRANCE’S HOLDING WATER: SHOOTING THEIR GATOR-CENTRIC CREATURE FEATURE CRAWL , DP MAXIME ALEXANDRE (L)
(EWAN MCGREGOR) COMPLEX STRUGGLE WITH AND DIRECTOR ALEXANDRE AJA (R) KNEW THAT THEIR PRIMARY SOURCES OF TENSION WOULD COME FROM
ADDICTION IN DOCTOR SLEEP WAS SHOT WITH A RANGE UNDERWATER
OF CHROMATIC LIGHT, SAYS DP MICHAEL FIMOGNARI

to use lighting balloons. But then we had Lenses: Leica Summilux-C, Alura lightweight to echo that with the camerawork. I tried
to face the power of the wind machines. zooms to make the photography very honest and
With the steam, the Technocrane on floating Lighting: Cloud Balloons 9x1.2 kW HMI, straightforward, so when Adam Driver and
platforms, huge power lines all around stag- Arri Compact, ARRI SkyPanels, HydroFlex Bill Murray sit in the police car and refer
es full of water, a basement set less than five Lighting Systems to the fact that they’re acting in a movie,
feet high, heat, fatigue, wind and rain again Picture post/DI: Walter Volpatto I didn’t blink.
and again, it was probably the most difficult
movie I’ve shot thus far. I have to admit,
though: Even when we were exhausted,
FREDERICK ELMES Can You Bear It?: We chose the town of
Fleischmanns in the scenic New York Catskills
we’d still have smiles on our faces ON THE DEAD DON’T DIE as our location, and blended into the commu-
watching Kaya Scodelario desperately trying nity well—until one night, we had unwanted
to escape a stuntman swimming behind her The Approach: Bringing a fresh take visitors. The Catskills are in bear country, and
to simulate an alligator’s water shape! to zombies while paying homage to there was quite a commotion in the pouring
George A. Romero and others who came rain one evening when a mother black bear
The Takeaway: Do something different every before us and cubs visited us on set. We were on the
time and step outside the rules if needed. last shot, and I couldn’t figure out who was
Keep daring, keep dreaming, and never, How They Did It: By using a mix of new tech- blasting an air horn outside the set door. It
ever stop because of technical issues. Cam- nology, including our large-format camera turned out that the ADs had determined they
eras, lenses, and lights are all tools that help and sophisticated visual effects, and vintage could hold the bear family at bay for a few
you achieve what you’ve never done before. moviemaking tricks like older, less perfect more minutes if they distracted them with the
lenses and day-for-night photography, we noise, so we were finally able to finish shoot-
Tech Box: created a unique hybrid. Understated perfor- ing. Now it was up to the crew to figure how
Shooting time: Seven and a half weeks mances were important to director to wrap with the bears watching us.
Cameras: ARRI Alexa SXT, ARRI Alexa Mini Jim Jarmusch’s storytelling, and I wanted
The Takeaway: I was happy to find com-
mon ground with the production by using
LEFT: COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES / TOP: COURTESY

old-fashioned tricks such as day for night,


OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES / BOTTOM: COURTESY OF FOCUS

reversing the camera, and changing the


frame rate to help ease the schedule and
reduce the number of visual effects. At the
same time, I helped Jim create the look and
style he wanted, and we were able to refer-
ence some of the films we loved.

Tech Box:
Shooting days: 35, including two days
of second-unit work
Camera: ARRI Alexa LF, shooting ProRes 4444
Lenses: ARRI DNA unmatched lenses (created
from various vintage still camera lenses)
Lighting: HMI and LED
FEATURES

Picture post/DI: Chimney Group; Joe Gawler,


WILD CARD: NO AMOUNT OF PLANNING COULD HAVE PREPARED DP FREDERICK ELMES (C), DIRECTOR JIM JARMUSCH Harbor Picture Company
(L), AND CREW FOR THEIR RUN-IN WITH A FAMILY OF BLACK BEARS ON THE SET OF THE DEAD DON’T DIE

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 83


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

PAUL FALTZ ON LUZ


The Approach: Everything hiding in plain
sight

How They Did It: The look of Luz was in-


spired by 1970s and ’80s horror like
John Carpenter and giallo movies; its
taxi-set dream sequence, for example, is a
homage to the taxi scene in Dario Argento’s
Suspiria. This was one of the reasons we
decided to shoot on 16mm film. The story is
told in a linear way, but with the interwo-
ven experiences of different characters’
realities. Although things happen simulta- FILMING IN A FOG: LUZ’S ATMOSPHERIC AESTHETIC OWES MUCH TO ‘80S-ERA JOHN CARPENTER,
SAYS DP PAUL FALTZ (C)
neously, the camera takes a clear viewpoint
and shows the singular perspective of one
person in his or her reality. One example (Kyliegh Curran) exist in a world outside lessness, like the camera is being moved by
is where Luz (Luana Velis) is shown in the the Overlook Hotel in spaces that many of an unseen force. Even the static shots have
imaginary car: All the shots of her in this us know in everyday life but that don’t often some movement in them, slowly pushing
scene are framed as if the car is real and intersect, which we linked in a combination in to create an uneasy, anticipatory feeling.
our options are limited by its presence. of yellow-warm autumn tones and cyan Once the “game”—in which the newlywed
shadows—a color twist that isn’t a “look,” Grace (Samara Weaving) is hunted by her
The Takeaway: Let’s do it again! but a few steps away from ordinary. husband Alex’s (Mark O’Brien) family—be-
gins, I introduce handheld camerawork,
Tech Box:
The Takeaway: Every story we tell offers an starting with a moment with Alex that
Shooting days: 20 days
essential question: From where do we draw transitions from a tripod to handheld
Camera: ARRI 416
our inspiration? Doctor Sleep is a descendant within the same shot as he jumps up to
Lenses: Hawk V-Lite 16: 14mm, 18mm, 24mm,
of something so well-known and loved, so find Grace. Once Grace realizes what’s hap-
35mm; Zeiss High Speed 50mm
our launch point was set. We faced the chal- pening to her, we’re handheld with her the
Lighting: Consumer fluorescent tubes as
lenge of being true to our present narrative rest of the movie. This is the other, human
practicals and in the Kino Flos and Flatheads,
while exceeding the expectation of elevating perspective—the intimate, visceral, reactive
tungstens, HMIs
what came before us. camerawork that anchors us in the experi-
Picture post/DI: Hiventy (France)
ence of this young woman’s nightmarish
Tech Box:
journey.
Shooting days: 50
MICHAEL FIMOGNARI Camera: ARRI Alexa 65
The Takeaway: I hadn’t worked in horror
ON DOCTOR SLEEP Lenses: DNA Primes
Lighting: Primarily ARRI SkyPanels
much before this film, and there is certainly
an art to photographing moments to elicit
Picture post/DI: Company 3/Jill Bogdanowicz
The Approach: Recovery haunted by the a reaction from the audience—whether it’s
ghosts of addiction a jump scare or a feeling of anticipation.

How They Did It: Director Mike Flanagan


BRETT JUTKIEWICZ But my biggest takeaway is that regardless
of genre, if you let the emotion inherent
and I began our process as we always ON READY OR NOT in the material guide what you’re doing,
do: with a deep dive into the themes and you can create something dynamic and im-
characters before creating the aesthetic. The Approach: Ominous, visceral, and darkly mersive. I also learned that fake blood and
PHOTOGRAPH BY FABIAN PODESZWA

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining offered some textured camera equipment don’t mix very well.
inspiration on framing, but not so much in
lighting. I’m generalizing, but essentially How They Did It: I spoke with directors Tech Box:
The Shining prioritized color in paints and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett Shooting days: 26
dyes—wardrobe and hotel decor—while early on about creating a shifting visual Camera: ARRI Alexa Mini
we chose to explore the complexity of perspective, starting with the idea of an Lenses: Cooke S5/i
Dan Torrance’s (Ewan McGregor) road unspoken presence in the home. We used Lighting: ARRI, Quasar Science, Sourcemaker,
to recovery with a range of chromatic Steadicam extensively in the beginning of LiteGear
light. The threats to Dan and Abra Stone the film to give everything a bit of weight- Picture post/DI: Deluxe Toronto/Chris Wallace

84 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


ROMAN OSIN ON Lighting: HMIs, tungstens, LEDs, hardlights
LYLE VINCENT
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (Fresnels), soft lights, Kino Flos, soft boxes,
bounced light, dimmable LEDs ON DANIEL ISN’T REAL
Picture post/DI: Technicolor Toronto/
The Approach: Warm and disarming,
Doug Wilkinson The Approach: Organic, visceral, manic, vivid
juxtaposed against unnerving darkness

How They Did It: We carefully identified


a suitable color palette and tried to limit
PAWEL POGORZELSKI How They Did It: Director Adam Egypt Mortimer
was specific about the transition within the
blues and greens in the costumes, sets, ON MIDSOMMAR film from cool/oppressive to warm/manic
and locations so the warm and earth tones to hot/subjective. We achieved this with
would have more emphasis. We looked at The Approach: Eastern European meets specific color palettes in the lighting and
the colorful works of William Eggleston and Western fairy tale production design as well as framing and
the darker, “emptier” existentialist images camera movement. We also gave Daniel
of Gregory Crewdson, among others. How They Did It: I achieved the goal by doing (Patrick Schwarzenegger) his own signature
Though Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark a lot of tests, starting with cameras, to find bold violet color used in the lighting and
is set in 1968, we also drew influences from which one we would use. Once that was design. We started with more wide, isolating
those wonderful youth films of the ’80s, signed off by director Ari Aster, I dove into frames and slowly worked in more frenetic
where loss of innocence played a big role: the lenses, which are very important to cap- camera moves and cuts as well as extreme
the movies of John Hughes, Rob Reiner’s turing the right tone. It was a laborious pro- angles. We originally wanted to shoot on film,
Stand by Me, and many Amblin Entertain- cess of fine-tuning them to get a fairy-tale- but ended up on digital with added LiveGrain,
ment productions. Then, we shot many like glow in the image. Once all the camera which gave the image an organic texture. We
scenes darkly and moodily. “Layers upon lay- elements were in place, we began testing also shot on vintage anamorphic Xtal Express
ers of darkness” was our mantra, to create lighting inside and outside, figuring out how lenses to enhance the imperfections and add
a rich contrast and draw the audience into to manage the sun within our capabilities. a more subjective feel, as if seen from Luke’s
that place they don’t wanna go, and yet they When we arrived on the location where the (Miles Robbins) point of view. 
long to… the world of fear and suspense. village was built, we realized that covering
overhead would never work, because of the Is He or Isn’t He Real?: We set up camera
The Old Is New: With camera and lighting, size of the set, and started figuring out what rules to establish a visual language for when
we strove to go against type of ’60s cinema. would work from the ground. we see Daniel. One rule was that he could
Although we shot traditional anamorphic only be seen if Luke is also in the frame, so
and chose solid camera moves and con- The Takeaway: The sun is brutal: It is hot usually we put him to the side, and when
trolled framing with minimal handheld, we during the summer when spending the en- we shot Daniel we would be in profile on
also wanted to tell the story of that period tire day outside, and you never realize how Luke and more objective, rather than over
in a modern way, for a current, highly film- fast it moves until you’re losing the perfect another character’s shoulder, which would
language- and media-savvy audience. This light while waiting for a prop, an actor, or a suggest their point of view. If we did have
included shooting digitally, using elegant piece of gear. That’s when you learn to let go a shot like that, Daniel would not be in the
CG enhancements for our monsters, Steadi- and make the best of what you have. frame, to suggest he isn’t there. Luke was
cam and drone photography, a softer light- shot on wider lenses we could get in closer
Tech Box:
ing style, and reaching for “the darkness”— with, whereas Daniel was always shot on
Shooting days: 45
something that digital is appropriate for. longer lenses and further away, so we could
Camera: Panavision DXL2
frame in Luke in the foreground. We looked
Lenses: Panavision Primo 5Ks at the beginning,
The Takeaway: It pays to have a great at Ingmar Bergman’s Persona for inspira-
used Primo Artistes shot 8K once in Harga
second unit team. You can’t have too many tion, and I told Adam when we discussed
Lighting: 18Ks, M90s, M40s, 20K tungstens, DMG
days of that. visuals on set that he should have two tat-
Lumière LEDs (Maxi, Mini, SL1), condors with
toos on each arm: “What would Cronenberg
Tech Box: 40x20 rig with 40 ARRI SkyPanels, covered in
do?” and “What would Friedkin do?”
Shooting days: 44 half grid cloth
Camera: Alexa Mini Picture post/DI: Harbor Picture Company/
The Takeaway: Be spontaneous, get out of the
Lenses: ARRI Master Anamorphic Primes Jeff Penman, Joe Gawler, Roman Hankewycz
way of the camera and don’t control it too
much. We would often get great shots and

“ ‘Layers upon layers of darkness’ was our mantra,


quick visuals when a grip or AC would grab
the camera and set it down randomly. I had
my controller and would roll on those things.
to create a rich contrast and draw the audience into Tech Box:

that place they don’t wanna go, and yet they long
Shooting days: 27
Camera: Sony VENICE
Lenses: Cooke Xtal Express anamorphics,

to… the world of fear and suspense.” Leica R sphericals


Lighting: Standard LEDs, tungsten Fresnels, HMIs
Picture post/DI: Company 3, Tom Poole MM

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 85


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

CHASING ESCAPISM AND THE DETAILS


Should your script be rooted in research or unchecked creative license? about the ending: It’s like when you’ve
Should you watch a lot of films while writing? Two indie horror moviemakers dreamt of a loved one who’s passed away
debate these questions and more and you’re recalling that wonderful eupho-
ria you felt when they were alive. Then,
you wake up and that ending becomes
BY ROBERT EGGERS AND PETER STRICKL AND, AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN 10 times more tragic. Walking out of
I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y G E L J A M L A N G the cinema, I thought, “Oh my God…
Sharon Tate didn’t make it in real life.”
So, I think the power of that ending came
ETER STRICKLAND (PS): I was specifically trying to understand from the fact that it wasn’t historically

P I just saw The Lighthouse


and thought it was remark-
able. Knowing your work,
there’s obviously a lot of
the folk culture of my region’s past, so I
did feel a responsibility to be historically
accurate and to tap into the ways in which
our characters would have
reenacted.

RE: For me, historical accuracy should be


almost all-encompassing. The language
research that goes into it. I take a lot of dra- spoken at that time. of your film should be an
matic license with my material. So, while moviemaker melee authentic language. Again,
I definitely do my homework to give my PS: My research has focused that’s based on my interpre-
COURTESY OF A24

films some authenticity, I don’t think that a bit on the rhythm of characters’ speech, tation of “authentic”: Authenticity is just as
all has to be put on screen. but to me it was nothing specifically histori- much about the buttons on the clothing and
cal. If you look at Quentin Tarantino’s the patina on the walls. But it’s all part of
Robert Eggers (RE): I find satisfaction in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, which the film’s atmosphere, and the story doesn’t
trying to recreate the past. In The Witch, I also just saw, there’s something tragic work without the atmosphere.

86 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


PS: Yes, but in The Lighthouse, one of the
things that made it so wonderful for me was
that if it had been written with contempo-
a sound studio. But I still knew that I was
making a fantasy studio. “Recreating the
rary dialogue, I still would have loved it. RE: Recreating the past is impossible to do
perfectly, but I still need to interpret the past is impossible
RE: Well, with something like Ben Wheatley’s
A Field in England, that film uses “fuck”
as an adjective and the characters talk
past so as to feel that the film is its own liv-
ing history museum or exhibit. In the same
way that archaeologists and historians are
to do perfectly,
in a fairly contemporary way, but somehow
Amy Jump’s writing makes it feel like the
doing their own interpretations of the past
based on facts, so are moviemakers who but I still need
to interpret the
17th century, even though they’re speak- base their films on this kind of research.
ing with a mix of old and contemporary Stanley Kubrick credits Franco Zeffirelli
language. It’s impressive. Usually that kind as the first person who copied paintings
of annoys me, but it works so well in that
movie. Still, it’s clear that they understood
and recreated period costumes; there are
probably some people who did that earlier past so as to
feel that the film
their period setting enough to convey than Zeffirelli, but regardless, I think there’s
it without having to do the same kind creative freedom in saying, “This is it”—this
of writing that I do. I imagine you did is what people wore, how they spoke, and
some research to create the world of
Berberian Sound Studio…
the world they lived in. Your approach, or,
say, Guillermo del Toro’s approach—which is is its own living
history museum or
different than both of ours—would be crip-
PS: Berberian Sound Studio was my pling for me. That’s part of why I approach
most research-heavy film, but ultimately screenwriting this way.
I ignored some of the research I did. I met
with people at BBC Radio and made a list
of equipment used by Italian film composer
PS: I find that some details that come from
research are too much to sort through. I pre-
exhibit.”
Luciano Berio in the Fonologia Studio in fer to just get into the heart of a movie. Some ­— ROBERT EGGERS,
Milan to help develop my own version of of my favorite scenes in The Lighthouse are DIRECTOR OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

> HISTORY IN THE MAKING: DEEP HISTORICAL


RESEARCH WAS NEEDED TO MAKE THOMAS WAKE
(WILLEM DAFOE, L) AND EPHRAIM WINSLOW’S
(ROBERT PATTINSON, R) SPEECH AND SETTING FEEL
AUTHENTIC, SAYS THE LIGHTHOUSE WRITER-DIRECTOR
ROBERT EGGERS

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 87


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

about the actual work Robert Pattinson’s for the lighthouse station in our film to be
character does—scenes in which he’s push- such a shithole. There was so much regula-
ing a wheelbarrow through the rain, or tion of lighthouse maintenance at that time
working on the machinery of the lighthouse. that it would have been nearly impossible
I love the repetition of the work he’s doing. for that to have happened. So we just said
to ourselves, “Let’s make this one lighthouse me it’s about character and atmosphere.
RE: With scenes like those, I admit that station so remote that no inspector would When it’s time to write, the atmosphere
even I fudge some stuff for the purpose of ever go there. And that way, Willem Dafoe’s of the story is in my head before I put pen
the story I’m telling. I wanted the lens in character can just drink away!” No matter to paper.
the beacon of our lighthouse to be a Fresnel what, we needed that dilapidation to tell our
lens: That’s the lens that looks like an art story and build the atmosphere. RE: When you write, are you watching films
deco spaceship, and was actually used during the process?
in the latter half of the 19th century and PS: I’m sure that the people who give
sometimes today. That lens is so beautiful our movies bad reviews would say it’s PS: No. For me, it’s either output or input.
and iconic, and I wanted to have a plot de- a problem that we’re so into atmosphere When I lived in London, I had a regular
vice in the film rooted in the sense of mys- and visuals, but oh well. As a viewer, job and I was watching stuff on VHS or

LEFT: COURTESY OF A24 / RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY MAREK SZOLD


tery that surrounds the light it reflects. I I don’t feel let down if I’m missing out on going to the cinema all the time, but I had
also wanted to have a foghorn that sounded a great camera angle or if there’s some slop- no mental energy to write. And now that
the way the foghorn does in the film. So, I py lighting. Ken Loach is a good example of I’m writing a lot, I don’t have much mental
knew I needed to place the story near the someone who’s very meat-and-potatoes in space to watch films! It’s very hard to have
end of the 19th century based on those two the way he makes films. His stripped-down both flowing at the same time. Music, yes—I
things alone. But in truth, the United States style isn’t really my cup of tea, but what he often listen to music to get me in the mood
lighthouse establishment was run very mili- does is valid and important. Still, I’ve never to write—but I’ve only seen three or four
taristically, so it would’ve been unrealistic been into narrative as a writer, because for films this year. It’s crazy.

“Some details that come from research are too much to


sort through. I prefer to just get into the heart of a movie.”
­— PETER STRICKLAND, DIRECTOR OF IN FABRIC

88 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


< CUT OUT OF WHOLE CLOTH: CHARACTERS LIKE
MISS LUCKMORE (FATMA MOHAMED), A STRANGE
SALESWOMAN WHO SELLS A KILLER DRESS, ARE
MORE A PRODUCT OF ESCAPIST FANTASY THAN OF
SOCIAL REALISM, SAYS IN FABRIC WRITER-DIRECTOR
PETER STRICKLAND

<< BLOOD MONEY: STRICKLAND SHOT HIS 2009


DEBUT FEATURE, KATALIN VARGA , OVER 17 DAYS IN
TRANSYLVANIA WITH FUNDS BEQUEATHED TO HIM
BY HIS UNCLE

genre tropes and everything else in it is


a series of intentional misdirections and
ambiguities. I like films that are challeng-
ing in that way. You do a really good job
of showing and not showing things in
your films—of leaving things to audiences’
imaginations.

PS: That comes from wanting to acknowl-


edge the power of horrific images. I recently
read about how Facebook moderators, for
instance, are having serious trauma from
being subjected to horrific images again
and again and again.

RE: The key for a director is to not be cruel


when showing those images to audiences.
Carl Theodor Dreyer knew that in
RE: Wow. When I’m writing, I do watch for instance, I was interested in the idea The Passion of Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc’s
films and take a lot of notes about things of human desire being linked to cloth- burning body was something that audi-
in those films I want to try out. It’s not as ing—the hang-ups that people have about ences in 1928 needed to see. There are
simple as, “I’m writing a movie about a body dysmorphia, consumerism, and our many examples of cases in which showing
knight, so I’ll watch The Seventh Seal,” but attachment to physical objects. But to do the terrible image is what’s needed. But
it’s more about trying to find other ways in social realist cinema… I just don’t have there’s also a time for withholding those
to my own material. If I’m having a prob- that talent. images to save or spare the audience, and
lem writing my third act and I know that sometimes withholding them is what’s
in a movie that has nothing to do with the RE: But as storytellers, we’re not living in a best to make the audience even more
kind of movie I’m making, there’s a scene vacuum either. disturbed.
in the third act that works out the problem
I’m having, I’m going to watch it to see if PS: I’m a British immigrant living in PS: I’ve always felt caught in the middle
that can be helpful. So, that kind of thing Hungary, so Brexit deeply affects me, between those who are pro-censorship
would not be for you? and all of us will be affected by climate and those who believe that horror cinema
change. There’s no escape from any of doesn’t directly influence anyone. I’m not
PS: It could be… but not a huge amount. In that. Still, I prefer to escape into my own knocking horror imagery; I love films
an ideal world I would like to have it both little world, so I keep chasing escapism in like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
ways, watching and making films at the my films. I believe we should be allowed to watch
same time. But I just find it, mentally, quite these films… but as with alcohol, you have
difficult. RE: I never want to comment on anything to acknowledge that there’s the potential
in an overtly didactic or political way, for these images to be explosive. That’s
RE: When I start building my film’s atmo- because I’ll feel as if I’m preaching to the what makes them so powerful. MM
sphere as I’m writing, I generally think choir. Many people find The Witch to be a
that the things happening in the zeitgeist feminist film, which is great—it’s now im-
should be making their way into the story. possible for me not to see it that way—but Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse opened
that wasn’t my intention. My intention in theaters October 18, 2019 and Peter
PS: It’s not as if I’m living in a bubble not was to make a movie about witches. Strickland’s In Fabric opens in theaters
caring about the world. With In Fabric, The Lighthouse has a couple of ham-fisted December 6, 2019, courtesy of A24.

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 89


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

PLAN B,
D, I & Y
Networking setbacks and
development disappointments
reaffirmed Depraved writer-director
Larry Fessenden’s belief in indie
horror moviemaking
BY L ARRY FESSENDEN

T TOOK ME a long time major film with New Line, recently empow- decided I would step aside and let someone

I to make Depraved—my version


of Frankenstein. I wrote the
script quite intuitively in the
mid-2000s and had a present-
ered by the success of their Lord of the Rings
movies. Back home in New York, I was pro-
ducing a lot with my company Glass Eye Pix—
“big productions” like Stake Land and small
else direct the film. But Guillermo kindly said,
“Let’s do something else,” and I said, “Abso-
lutely, I have this: Depraved, my Frankenstein
movie.” “No,” said the Mexican, he had his
able draft in 2009. As I had done earlier with ones like Bitter Feast. It was a fertile time. own Frankenstein to make and he wouldn’t

PHOTOGRAPHS BY NELSON BAKERMAN / COURTESY OF IFC FILMS


my 1997 film Habit, I channeled a deep fa- We shot Bitter Feast at my house upstate even read my script. Any smart moviemaker
miliarity with the tropes of old horror movies with a crew of 10. My duties included acting would have written something right there
with a very personal “What if this were true?” alongside James Le Gros and Josh Leonard on the spot to continue the collaboration, but
approach. I was responding to the endless one day and making sandwiches for the crew I was unable to rebound. I was already too
wars we were fighting in the Middle East, and the next, and then I would need to leave committed to Depraved.
the kind of corrupt, dishonorable, paranoid production and take the red-eye to London Some time later Guillermo announced that
people who were in power. I thought they to meet Kate Winslet to see if she wanted to his Frankenstein project was going to star
were “depraved” at the time. How quaint. star in my big ghost story. She said she did. Doug Jones as the monster. I read this online
Back then, I was also writing a script The Orphanage fell apart eventually. Kate while waiting to be called for jury duty and
with Guillermo del Toro which was to be dropped out, said the role was too depressing remember so clearly reading the news in that
an English-language remake of the Spanish and that she didn’t want to commit suicide big hall downtown. It was like a gut-punch,
ghost story El Orfanato, by J.A. Bayona. on screen three times in a row. (She had just because I had directed Doug in a TV show
Guillermo and I spent six months to a year done Revolutionary Road and The Reader.) called Skin and Bones and had dreamed
on that project, and I was working on casting I still cherish our brief encounter in the of casting him as my monster. But of course,
the film with major Hollywood talent. I met lounge of a London hotel that she told me I had only really known about Doug because
a lot of film professionals at the time and she used to party in, and where she asked of his work with Guillermo, so I would have
immensely enjoyed the prospect of making a me about my missing tooth. Anyway, it was to step aside and let the maestro have his way.

90 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


“I have a saying on my
shoots: ‘Safety first.
Movie second. Feelings
third.’ The film, not
anyone’s individual ego or
department, is why we are
all gathered to work.”

< STITCHES IN TIME: DEPRAVED WRITER-DIRECTOR


LARRY FESSENDEN (L) AND CREW’S EMBRACE OF A
“NO-BUDGET MODEL” HELPED BUILD SETS, CREATE STAR
ALEX BREAUX’S (R) MONSTROUS MAKE-UP, AND PREVENT
PRODUCTION PROBLEMS ALONG THE WAY

Since that disappointment, I went on I’m not trying to impress by name-drop- iar—stodgy almost—and hadn’t really ignited
to make the feature Beneath and co-write the ping or rolling out my resumé. I’m trying at the box office in any incarnation. I knew I
video game Until Dawn; made dozens of au- to say that all of this busy, buzzy business was on my own.
dio dramas and produced several low-budget made it feel like something was happening The only thing wrong with Depraved,
movies (Most Beautiful Island, Darling, with my film. Once you’ve worked with real I decided, was that I was trying to make it for
Psychopaths, Like Me, The Ranger); players in the industry, you feel like you’re too much money and letting too many people
and acted in several movies (You’re Next, just moments away from that phone call determine my fate. I had made it my stock in
We Are Still Here, In a Valley of Violence, that’s going to launch the project. But trade to train young moviemakers to roll up
Wendy and Lucy), but I couldn’t get I should have known better. their sleeves and work lean and so, when it
Depraved off the ground. I took so many I remember hearing that Marty Scorsese was finally my turn, I felt like a character ris-
meetings in Hollywood and New York and was producing a Frankenstein film… soul- ing from the ashes, reborn. That’s the moral
eventually got picked up by the biggest crushing. I remember when I, Frankenstein here if you don’t want to read any further.
agents in tinseltown, but was dropped was announced… soul-crushing. There was Here’s the punchline: Don’t let other people
without explanation. Victor Frankenstein with James McAvoy, tell you no. If you believe in your film, then
I worked to cast Depraved with three who I had dreamed of casting after seeing make it. Don’t have any money or stuck at a
different casting agents and got the script Last King of Scotland. Then Bernard Rose full-time job? Figure it out. That’s what I did.
to many notable name talents… or so I am made Frankenstein. Then Danny Boyle I leased a walk-up loft from an equipment
told. (You never actually know if the talent did the play with Benedict Cumberbatch. rental company, Eastern Effects, in Gowanus,
is actually reading your script or if it’s all a Then there was Penny Dreadful, which had Brooklyn. I had given the owner, Scott Levy,
charade.) For some time I had Steve Buscemi a Frankenstein subplot. It was all quite one of his first gigs on my film Wendigo in
and his partners at Olive Productions helping overwhelming: There was nothing remotely 1999, and he was sentimental about it and
produce. We pitched Depraved to HBO as a logical or strategic about continuing to pitch gave me a good deal. In that loft I built the
TV series. I had Blumhouse take a gander. a Frankenstein movie. It was overly famil- set that I had imagined for a decade. I didn’t

< L TO R: IN DEPRAVED, STARS BREAUX,


ADDISON TIMLIN, AND DAVID CALL GROUND
FESSENDEN’S TAKE ON FRANKENSTEIN IN
THE FAMILIAR WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY
BROOKLYN

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2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

have all the money yet, but I was willing


to risk the cost of renting the space and
supplies in order to start making the film.
With producer Jenn Wexler, I stripped
the budget down to its bare essentials.
Any collaborator who was not able to em-
brace the no-budget model, I released with
an open heart. And so a core team formed:
The guys who built the set with me would
become the crew. One crewmember was
Chris Skotchdopole, who had worked for me
for some years, and one was James Siewert, > NO NAME IS THE GAME: CALL (L) AND BREAUX (R) WERE CAST IN DEPRAVED NOT BASED ON THEIR NAME
who was a “resident artist” at Glass Eye Pix, RECOGNITION, BUT ON THEIR FITNESS FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE ROLES, SAYS FESSENDEN
for lack of a better term. Eventually they
would become my cinematographers.
Not every story is going to end this way, oversee lighting and special rigging and Chris artistry, camaraderie, stealth, and smarts.
but we did get the money from an unlikely was there to operate the camera. That sounds I have a saying on my shoots: “Safety first.
investor. We made a series of phone calls rather formal. Let me rephrase: James built Movie second. Feelings third.” Don’t get me
during the Christmas holiday, and a couple the set and lived in the location where we wrong, everyone on our set deserves respect
of days before New Year’s the money was in shot and eventually he provided all the visual and all are invited to collaborate. But the
the bank. I don’t know what will happen to effects for the film, working for a year after we film, not anyone’s individual ego or depart-
your production, but I only know Depraved finished shooting. Chris drove me to and from ment, is why we are all gathered to work.
got made because I stopped asking for location every day and served as confidant And it is in the service of the film.
money and started making the movie and sounding board throughout the shoot. We I like to say that we “build” a movie. The
in smart, incremental ways. have supported each other’s projects for years film is designed and built by a team of crafts-
With a start date in place, I cast local ac- now under the umbrella of Glass Eye Pix. people. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel—
tors—not name actors, but people who would I had lived and breathed Depraved for I love the traditions and structure of film
be good, committed, and right for the job. years and I knew the project and every production, and it’s beautiful to be a part of a
I had auditioned Alex Breaux a year earlier incarnation of this story intuitively. I designed big movie that’s run well with veteran talent.
and we had stayed in touch. I was finally able the entire shot-list during the ramp-up to (I’ve acted in big films, so I’ve seen it). But on
to hire him to play the monster. Other roles shooting, conceiving of shots while we built. a low budget shoot the departments blend
were filled by actors I’d known for years, like From this position of preparedness I was able together, and I like that even more. The
Josh Leonard and Owen Campbell. They had to be open to the input of my collaborators; shoot is about personal responsibility and
both been in my movie Bitter Feast, the one it was a fertile, creative atmosphere. But fate watching everyone’s back—not passing the
we’d made so many years before when wasn’t going to make it easy. I had a terrible buck to another department when some-
I ducked out to meet Ms. Winslet. affliction in my back that rendered me almost thing doesn’t get done.
What’s the one thing on a Frankenstein crippled and required surgery after the shoot. There’s a lot of talk of low-budget produc-
movie that can’t be compromised? The make- But I didn’t mind. The movie is about pain, tion, and as with all things in this culture,
up. I went to Pete Gerner and Brian Spears, suffering, mind and matter, and it seemed that throws a spotlight on the budget—the
pals who had worked with me on at least a suitable. I’m not saying every choice I made idea being that without the money, you’re

PHOTOGRAPH BY NELSON BAKERMAN / COURTESY OF IFC FILMS


dozen movies. We devised an approach to the making the flick was right, but I was doing lost, scrambling, and working at a terrible
makeup that was ambitious and “surgical”: what I like to do: making a movie. Not talking disadvantage, unable to tell your story. But
We shot on the Red with K35 lenses that about it, not begging to do it, but working on seen another way, it’s an opportunity for a di-
lent a lovely ’70s sensibility to the look the craft, solving problems, leading a team, rector with vision and passion to assemble a
of the movie. (Barry Lyndon, Aliens, and learning, listening. team of like-minded artisans into a coherent
American Hustle were shot on K35s.) I’ve So, that’s how Depraved was made. With unit to solve problems and create something
been lucky enough to make my early features a band of filmworkers, each with a range of that never existed before.
on celluloid, but now more than ever, if one talents and interests and sensibilities and his- And one day, if your luck holds out, that little
shoots digitally, it’s in the choice of lenses tory with one another. Into that mix we hired movie can be made available on the streaming
that visual character will be established. And professionals—up-and-comers like our art services right alongside the biggest, best-
we rented a dolly for the run of show, for department team—but they learned quickly endowed movies coming out of the Hollywood
smooth moves and the ability to boom up they were being invited into a project that had machine. That is pretty cool. If you don’t get
and down. These were the tentpole expenses its own momentum and its own rules. the big bucks, it’s not a bad plan B. MM
that would define the film: the set, the You see, once I was freed of the pretense
makeup, fine lenses, and the dolly. that we were making that big-budget version
My two cinematographers’ duties of the film, I rejected the formality that goes Depraved opened in theaters September 13,
overlapped, but mainly James was there to with it. I made the movie under the rules of 2019, courtesy of IFC Films.

92 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


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ARROW VIDEO
FRIGHTFEST
LONDON & GLASGOW, U.K. // AUGUST
27-31, 2020; MARCH 5-7, 2020 //
FRIGHTFEST.CO.UK
This year (its 20th), FrightFest
directors Ian Rattray, Alan Jones,
Greg Day, and Paul McEvoy
crammed a record-setting
78 movies into five days—many
of them low-profile indies deserv-
ing the exposure. And it’s just as
welcoming to its patrons as it is
to the smaller films. “This festival
has always felt like family,” one
panelist observes. “FrightFest
is run by a bunch of very person-
able horror obsessives who created
a warm and friendly atmosphere,
where filmmakers and moviegoers
alike hang out between screenings
to discuss movies around a pint
or two. The audience is wonderful-
ly knowledgeable, and you get to
watch movies on an Imax screen!”
Another enjoys its casual vibe:
“It feels like everyone there has
taken a week off of work to watch
horror movies. The hosts should
have their own sitcom; it would be
like What We Do in the Shadows.”
Its shorter Scottish counterpart,
a genre sidebar of the Glasgow
Film Festival, offers the opportu-
These 25 festivals are setting trends, raising standards, nity to see movies that can’t screen
at the London fest due to timing
and throwing scary good parties on the genre film circuit issues. “This highly Scottish fest
becomes quite the fun stomping
ground for fans of weirdo cinema,”
B Y M I C H A E L G I N G O L D A N D M M E D I T O R S • I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y M AT T H E W T H E R R I E N according to one panelist.

BEYOND FEST
LOS ANGELES, CA // TBA 2020

N
O MATTER WHERE in the and some have become actively involved in // BEYONDFEST.COM
world you dwell, there’s bound helping these projects through to fruition. “What apparently started as
to be a genre film festival For the third year running, our annual a lark because Goblin agreed
somewhere near you, at some survey of these events is just as varied to do a show in L.A. has quickly
point during the year, to sate as the films they showcase. Some of you become the top festival for genre
your appetite for scares on the big screen. may be itching to test your rough cut with fans in the U.S.,” according
As ever, quantity doesn’t necessarily guar- a live audience for the first time; others to one panelist. This year, it
antee quality, but as long as the market for may have successfully conducted those tests was Joe Bob Briggs providing
macabre moviemaking continues to flourish, and are ready to compete for top prizes; the live entertainment with his
there will always be more than a handful and some with a simpler wishlist may be in “How Rednecks Saved Hollywood”
of diamonds in the rough for MovieMaker search of your next creative partner, or even presentation, complementing a
to locate and celebrate. just one breakfast with Guillermo del Toro lineup of new movies—most of
The genre fests we’ve spotlighted with before you die. them making their first
the help of our expert panelists (see box) Tailoring your tour of the circuit West Coast stops at Beyond—
have become invaluable for introducing new can be a nightmare in and of itself, but described by a panelist as “some
fright features to the world, giving them no matter your professional goals or person- of the most breakout, visionary,
a chance to build word of mouth, win advance al tastes, there’s bound to be a horror hub, and anticipated genre fare.” Also
acclaim, and find distribution. They’re also here, that’s worth your troubles. They’ll on the schedule put together by
key networking arenas for those seeking be expecting you… co-founders Christian Parkes and
to create horrific art and entertainment, —MM Editors Grant Moninger: “Impeccably

94 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

curated revival screenings, double CHATTANOOGA ing debut Verotika, which began world. They also, in conjunction
features, and cult-status guests,” FILM FESTIVAL its trek toward The Room-style with the Shock Waves podcast
the latter including Oliver Stone, CHATTANOOGA, TN // APRIL 9-12, 2020 notoriety. Of course, artistic direc- and Rebekah McKendry, foster
Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, // CHATTFILMFEST.ORG tor Josh Goldbloom assured there up-and-coming talent via the
and producer Don Murphy “Respect cinema. Reject preten- were plenty of genuinely good Stephanie Rothman Fellowship,
accompanying a 25th-anniver- tiousness. Repeat.” That’s the movies on hand (among them the named for the director of cult
sary 35mm showing of mantra on the homepage of this world premiere of Lucky McKee’s favorites The Velvet Vampire and
Natural Born Killers. It all takes festival, which, while not specifi- Kindred Spirits and six features Terminal Island. “Etheria is filled
place at “the most iconic of loca- cally devoted to horror, offers one directed by women), plus an with amazing guests and an excel-
tions—The Egyptian Theatre in of the best menus of genre fare eclectic group of personalities: lent selection of films,” a panelist
Hollywood…embracing legendary of any event in the country. Its Joel Schumacher headed the jury, raves. “There’s a joyful, celebra-
filmmakers alongside newbies, and organizers also host a one-day while members of GWAR hosted tory atmosphere to it, and their
championing its filmmakers with Frightening Ass Film Fest every a retrospective of their atrocities. support of filmmakers continues
genuine excitement and expertise.” October; this year, it offered “Cinepocalypse was one of the throughout the year.”
a head-spinning 10 features and first festivals to give a place to our
BRUSSELS INTERNATIONAL the same number of shorts. “Built film, which was a great honor,” FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL
FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL on the passion and enthusiasm of says a panelist. “Getting to know FILM FESTIVAL
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM // APRIL 7-19, 2020 festival director Chris Dortch II, the organizers, you could see that MONTRÉAL, QUEBEC, CANADA
// BIFFF.NET the Chattanooga Film Festival they had created something really // JULY 16-AUGUST 5, 2020
One of our panelists has been is deeply beloved by filmmakers special—not trying to be crowd- // FANTASIAFESTIVAL.COM
attending since age 16, “and as a and festival programmers, who pleasers, but with a free spirit “What is there to say?” asks
teenager, it really fed my obsession flock to it to enjoy friends, films, and a rock ’n’ roll heart.” one panelist, who answers his
with horror. At nearly two weeks, and fried chicken,” a panelist says, own question by describing the
it’s among the longest festivals, adding that the event can be ETHERIA FILM FESTIVAL Canadian monolith, presided over
so there’s plenty of time to get a professional asset as well. LOS ANGELES, CA // JUNE 29, 2020 by Pierre Corbeil, as “simply the
a good overview of current horror “In the past few years the festival // ETHERIAFILMNIGHT.COM most badass, pumped-up genre
production.” This year, under has seen a rise in world premieres In 2019, Etheria celebrated its fest you will find on this planet.”
festival director Guy Delmote, and industry buzz, with many sixth year of showing women- A second opinion: “It’s hands
that extended beyond the films films being discovered there helmed short films and features down the best, infused with the
(over 150 of ’em) to encompass for future distribution, and they like Gigi Saul Guerrero’s infectious, energetic love for both
the free VR Experience and show no sign of slowing down.” Culture Shock, Anna Biller’s film and filmmakers of its head
Fantasy Market, makeup/special The Love Witch, and of programming, Mitch Davis. He
effects and body-painting contests, CINEPOCALYPSE Axelle Carolyn’s Soulmate at and his team know everything
an art showcase, and more, plus CHICAGO, IL // TBA 2020 Hollywood’s legendary Egyptian that comes close to genre, so you
the four-day BIF Market for // MUSICBOXTHEATRE.COM Theatre. For those entrants know you’re in good hands with
creators of many types of frightful Sometimes, you go to a festival that didn’t quite make the final their mammoth three-week pro-
entertainment. In the fest’s three and discover the next great work selection, festival director gram. This, coupled with it being
venues, “The crowds are vocal and of cinematic art. And then there Stacy Pippi Hammon and director the birthplace of the increasingly
have the rather intimidating habit was Cinepocalypse 2019, whose of programming Heidi Honeycutt fruitful Frontières International
of requesting songs from filmmak- audience was the first to witness gave them exposure via 2016 and Co-Production Market, started
ers, but it’s all in good fun.” Glenn Danzig’s feature filmmak- 2017 tours at venues around the by Stephanie Trepanier with the
baton subsequently seized by
Lindsay Peters et al., make it a
hard one to top.” In 2019, Fantasia
offered a slew of world premieres
ranging from Matt Bettinelli-Olpin
and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not to
Chris Bavota and Lee Paul Springer’s
homegrown micro-budget discov-
ery Dead Dicks, plus an especially
strong shorts lineup.

FANTASTIC FEST
AUSTIN, TX // SEPTEMBER 2020
// FANTASTICFEST.COM
With consistently jam-packed
PHOTOGRAPH BY AMA LEA

schedules (this year highlighted by


the U.S. premieres of Taika Waititi’s
Jojo Rabbit, Richard Stanley’s
Color Out of Space, and
Takashi Miike’s First Love, among
L TO R: JULIE SHARBUTT, CHELSEA LUPKIN, SARAH KALAGVANO, VALERIE STEINBERG, IVY LAM, GIGI SAUL GUERRERO, many others), “This fest has the
S.K. REIMERS, VANESSA NEWELL, AND ELAINE MONGEON AT ETHERIA FILM FESTIVAL 2019’S FILMMAKERS DINNER programming, but it also has the

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 95


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar FANTASY FILMFEST ing that these people have been
and the town to support it,” accord- MULTIPLE CITIES, GERMANY // TBA 2020 staying true to what they love for
ing to one panelist. “We’re talking // FANTASYFILMFEST.COM years and years.”
an awesome theater experience, For over 30 years, Fantasy Filmfest
all the karaoke and barbecue and has showcased a diverse group FER ATUM FILM FEST
weird side events and everything of movies, representing the many TLALPUJAHUA, MEXICO // TBA 2020
else… Hey, it’s Austin.” Among colors of the genre spectrum. The // FERATUMFILMFEST.COM
those extra attractions overseen screenings (around 50 features “Perhaps the quirkiest fest
by creative director Evrim Ersoy and 10 shorts) also take place in I’ve ever attended,” one panelist
were a Scripts Gone Wild live a variety of locations, with the says, “Feratum takes over the
reading (by an all-female cast) festivities held in seven different small village of Tlalpujahua—say
of Joe Eszterhas’ Showgirls, German cities—Berlin, Munich, it three times fast—a couple
Chaos Reigns! Karaoke, the lat- Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, hours’ drive from Mexico City.
est edition of Fantastic Debates Stuttgart, and Nuremberg. They favor indie movies, with an
(settled in a boxing ring), and lots Rob Zombie’s much-anticipated emphasis on local production,
more. Coursing through all the 3 from Hell had its world and each screening is filled to the
madness is a genuine passion premiere at this year’s event, rafters.” Though the focus is on
for the genre. Says a panelist headlining a cross-section of Latin American productions, the
who’s had a film screened at notable features selected by pro- organizers, led by founder/direc-
Fantastic Fest, “We were so warmly grammer Artur Brzozowski from tor Miguel Ángel Marín, cast their
welcomed there. It’s put together practically every continent. “The net across the world, reeling in place to hobnob with talent, too:
with so much affection and has audience are relentless fans, a number of off-the-beaten-path The 2019 edition saw nearly
a lot of side events to offer, and you and it’s always packed,” reports titles. Feratum is also generous 90 moviemakers and actors
can tell that everyone loves what a panelist. “You can sense the with its awards: over 30 are given accompany their movies.
they’re doing.” love of cinema and get the feel- in various categories for features
and shorts, local and internation- LUND INTERNATIONAL
al, and winners then go on tour FANTASTIC FILM
throughout Mexico. Those FESTIVAL
who like their fiends in the LUND, SWEDEN // TBA 2020 // FFF.SE
flesh will especially enjoy the “The largest genre festival in
Marcha de las Bestias costume Scandinavia” held its 25th edition
parade that wends its creepy this year—and underwent a major
way through the streets of staffing change that resulted in
Tlalpujahua during the festival. a shift in its focus. Under festival
director Maritte Sørensen and
L’ETR ANGE FESTIVAL programmers Joana Hill and
PARIS, FRANCE // SEPTEMBER 2020 Tom Kiesecoms, “It is a rare genre
// ETRANGEFESTIVAL.COM festival with a decidedly young
“Smack bang in the center of and women-directed program-
Paris,” this fest, which began in ming team,” according to
1993 and is now run by president a panelist. “Determined to push
Frédéric Temps, features “several the festival forward, this commit-
screens devoted to an eclectic se- ted group has done wonders in
lection of new features, documen- a few short years, and has been
taries, and retro screenings with at the forefront of embracing re-
major guests.” The latter have sponsibly when it comes to select-
included international talents ing content. Instead of taking
such as Gaspar Noé, Marc Caro, a chance on challenging films
and Alejandro Jodorowsky. purely based on their buzz, the
(This year, the latter appeared staff engages with their creators
at the festival for a 90th-birthday and asks their reasons behind
celebration that included an making the movies—and any ap-
“auto-psychomagic” session and proach to the material that could
PHOTOGRAPH BY JUHO LIUKKONEN

a screening of a new director’s cut be deemed sensitive. Only after ex-


of his 1990 Peter O’Toole-starring changing words and impressions
feature The Rainbow Thief.) do they confidently make the call”
New movies compete for the to show the films. This year, the
Audience Award, and for 10 years, vetting process included standouts
Canal+ has teamed with L’Etrange such as Mike Ahern and
to award the New Genre Grand Enda Loughman’s Extra Ordinary,
Prize, which includes purchase by Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow,
the network for airing. It’s a great and Joe Begos’ Bliss. “The passion

96 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FINNISH-AMERICAN ACTOR CARLOTTA MOORE (L) AND HER TROUPE ATTEND
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF CHRZU LINDSTRÖM’S SHORT, “THE CONGREGATION,”
AT NIGHT VISIONS 2018

in 2007, the fest offers a lot more The Standoff at Sparrow Creek.
than “a consistently strong level Those who trek to Finland’s old-
of curation” of current films: est and largest event of this kind
Festival directors Pedro Souto may also be put up in appropriate
and João Monteiro also team accommodations: “Filmmakers
with the Portugal Cinematheque partaking in this festival stay in
to unearth vintage gems from the a former-prison-turned-hotel, the
country’s genre history, and run Hotel Katajanokka, just to truly set
MOTELX Lab, a series of public the tone!” one panelist informs.
workshops on all areas of film
production as well as haunted OVERLOOK
houses, conducted by invited FILM FESTIVAL
professionals. There’s even a sec- NEW ORLEANS, LA // TBA 2020
tion for young audiences called // OVERLOOKFILMFEST.COM
Big Bad Wolf! In addition, “The Having enjoyed its second year in
fest frequently partners with the New Orleans in 2019, the well-
celebrated Miskatonic Institute traveled Overlook, “a stop for
of Horror Studies to offer unique many buzzed-about horror films,”
presentations hosted by respected has settled comfortably into the
experts of the genre community,” Big Easy. “Now in the final form
of the programmers and their ea- MÓRBIDO FILM FEST and brings in top talent from the of its metamorphosis, Overlook
gerness to do things on their own MEXICO CITY // OCTOBER 2020 current fright scene. “This year, sprawls into the surrounding city
terms makes Lund a very exciting // MORBIDOFEST.COM for example, Midsommar’s with elaborate immersive quests
festival, and proof that old dogs “Mexico City’s annual bizarro Ari Aster gave a lecture on folk and games that, if embarked on,
can learn new tricks.” fiesta is a real spectacle to behold,” horror. You don’t get that at have you discovering new corners
says a panelist, and indeed, festival Tribeca.” of the city with all
MIDNIGHT MADNESS director Pablo Guisa Koestinger
AT THE TORONTO assures a unique experience
INTERNATIONAL every year. “From screenings
FILM FESTIVAL in theme parks to parties at
TORONTO, ONTARIO creepy old toy factories,
// SEPTEMBER 2020 // TIFF.NET Mórbido is always an other-
One of the oldest and most presti- worldly magic box of surprises,
gious showcases in this lineup— and a phantasmagorical few
31 years and counting—has been days.” Those days—and nights—
“setting the standard for a very are filled with concerts, art
long time,” according to a panel- exhibitions, special presenta-
ist. Peter Kuplowsky took over tions, and, of course, a traditional
programming duties from stalwart luchador match. Beyond his fest
Colin Geddes in 2017, and under duties, Koestinger works tirelessly
his watch, “The past few years to keep horror alive in Mexico via
the program has shown a return a pay-TV network and other show-
in many ways to the creative cases, and this year, he partnered
insanity that first gave birth to with Chile’s Santiago International sorts of fellow festival-goers,”
this section. The beauty is that Film Festival to advise on and a panelist says. Other events
while it caters to core genre fans, provide financial backing for NIGHT VISIONS put together this year by fest
it also features films that take projects in that country’s growing HELSINKI, FINLAND // NOVEMBER 20-24, directors Michael Lerman and
risks and, above all, embrace the genre-production scene. 2019 // NIGHTVISIONS.INFO Landon Zakheim included
weird. Beyond the expected horror Director Miko Aromaa and his VR experiences and live presenta-
fare, it features everything from MOTEL X team spread the wealth, staging tions, including two by the irre-
absurdist satire to big Hollywood LISBON, PORTUGAL // SEPTEMBER 8-13, a pair of “spectacularly organized” pressible Grady Hendrix. Among
sequels to over-the-top comedies 2020 // MOTELX.ORG festivals annually: one in the the movies, Chelsea Stardust’s
and truly special discoveries, like “Any excuse to visit Lisbon spring and one in the fall/winter. Satanic Panic had its world
this year’s Crazy World, from is a good one, but MOTELX is Whichever one you attend, you’ll premiere, Jim Jarmusch’s
Uganda’s remarkable Wakaliwood a genre-lover’s oasis in an already find a wide range of cinematic The Dead Don’t Die made its U.S.
community.” Midnight Madness beautiful town,” one panelist says, offerings that push the boundaries debut, and most of the movies old
also boasts some of the most and another praises, “MOTELX and definitions of genre. This past and new were accompanied by
enthusiastic audiences on the fest has a friendly atmosphere, April’s edition hosted everything guests. “Overlook has attracted
circuit: “They indulge in synchro- organizers who make you feel in- from David Robert Mitchell’s a returning audience of tastemak-
nized shouting at long-memorized stantly welcome, and a gorgeous Under the Silver Lake to ers and fun-lovers, and playing
pre-film ads, and clap rigorously venue”—the Cinema São Jorge in Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-di Koko-da there ensures you’ll be up against
at anything that pleases them.” the heart of Lisbon. Established to Henry Dunham’s some truly exciting genre films.”

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 97


2020 Guide to Making
Horror Movies

PANIC FEST
KANSAS CITY, MO // JANUARY 24-30,
2019 // PANICFILMFEST.COM
Having hosted the North American
premieres of movies such as
What We Do in the Shadows and
the Elijah Wood-starring Maniac
remake, Panic Fest has contin-
ued to build its rep as a major
midwest attraction. Co-founders
and festival/program directors
Adam Roberts and Tim Canton
assemble multiple showings of
many cool indie chillers here,
along with retrospective screen-
ings, live podcasts, and more.
This year’s edition featured
a live script reading of
Friday the 13th Part VIII (?!).
What’s more, a panelist tells us,
“The audiences at Panic Fest are
NYPA BOARD MEMBER PAT SWINNEY KAUFMAN (L) AND TROMA CO-FOUNDER LLOYD KAUFMAN (R) JOIN FESTIVAL DIRECTOR
full of heart and ready to be scared. MONIKA STOLAT AT SPLAT!FILMFEST 2018
When my film played there, they
were even revved up enough to
make a greeting video to send back
to the writer of the film! What
more could you ask for?”

SITGES INTERNATIONAL
FANTASTIC FILM
FESTIVAL
SITGES, CATALONIA, SPAIN // OCTOBER
2020 // SITGESFILMFESTIVAL.COM
“Location, location, location”
is part of the attraction for one
of our panelists, but far from the
THEATER STAFFER PHOEBE HOLST (L) AND BLOOD IN THE
only one. More than 50 years old

TOP: PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAŁ SOBOCIŃSKI / BOTTOM LEFT: MERCAN SÜMBÜLTEPE / BOTTOM RIGHT:
MANDY STAR NICOLAS CAGE (L) AND GUEST OF HONOR UDO SNOW FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAMMER KIRK HAVILAND (R)
and set on the beautiful Spanish KIER (R) ATTEND /SLASH FILMFESTIVAL 2018’S OPENING PUT ON THEIR PARTY FACES AT TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM
shores of the Mediterranean, this CEREMONY FESTIVAL
highly respected showcase for in-
ternational genre fare offers plenty particularly strong with features eye toward featuring films that
of reasons to stay off the beach /SLASH FILMFESTIVAL helmed by women—both new come from or reflect LGBTQ and
and inside the screening venues. VIENNA, AUSTRIA // TBA 2020 movies and classics shown as part diverse voices, Soho’s priority is
“There is no place more fun to go // SLASHFILMFESTIVAL.COM of a “Female Terror” program—and crafting the foundation for an
to celebrate horror moviemaking. Celebrating its 10th anniversary also included a “Jurassic Cosplay inclusive and supportive festival.
It’s a concentrated yet jovial scene next year, /Slash has given count- Contest.” And with a base in central Lon-
that is horror-centric, with a splash less horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and don, they benefit from being a
of prestige.” Director Angel Sala animated movies their Austrian SOHO HORROR stepping stone away from many
and co., according to another pan- premieres. “Knowing that it’s not FILM FESTIVAL of Europe’s most respected and COURTESY OF TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL
elist, “Maintain amazing connec- always easy to get your hands on LONDON, U.K. // NOVEMBER 15-17, 2019 exciting voices in film criticism.”
tions to the local community, and the right genre films in Austria,” // SOHOHORRORFEST.COM
Sitges has a legendary reputation a panelist says, “these guys, led by Having debuted in 2018, Soho SPLAT!FILMFEST
with international filmmakers.  festival director Markus Keuschnigg, is “The new kid on the block WARSAW & LUBLIN, POLAND
The range of movies often seems are doing an incredible job, with a when it comes to U.K. genre film // DECEMBER 2-15, 2019
limitless, and their midnight very well-done selection of films. festivals,” founded by actor/mov- // SPLATFILMFEST.COM
marathons that go till sunrise are I was especially honored to be part iemaker Barrington De La Roche Despite its name, there’s more to
the stuff of legend. But more than of a pre-Christmas screening with Charlie Steeds and this four-year-old festival than
that, the camaraderie that perme- on a dark and gloomy December Mitch Harrod as directors. To set blood and gore: The featured films,
ates the event is what makes night.” /Slash has welcomed an im- itself apart, the fest “offers more making their Polish premieres, are
it stand out. Nowhere else can pressive lineup of guests as well— than its name implies, and pro- divided into sections such as Fear
you come downstairs and find everyone from Dario Argento grams horror, suspense, thriller, and Terror, Horribly Funny, and
Guillermo del Toro at the and John Waters to Nicolas Cage dark fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, and WTF. The Splat! team, headed by
breakfast buffet!” and Udo Kier. This year was more,” notes a panelist. “With an director Monika Stolat, proclaim

98 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


Children of
the Night:
in their online mission state- outside events like zombie walks OUR 2020 PANELISTS
ment, “We go an extra mile when during the festival—and, to
it comes to the festival’s setting quench local fans’ thirst for clas- Axelle Carolyn’s first feature, the character-based ghost
and its eerie atmosphere, which sic horror and midnight movies story Soulmate, premiered in 2013 and won, among others,
will make all those brave enough between fests, hold a monthly the Best Director prize at Rome’s FantaFestival. Her 2015
to participate shiver with fear.” Freak-Out Friday film club. horror anthology Tales of Halloween is Certified Fresh on
One panelist concurs: “It may be Rotten Tomatoes and won the Rondo Award for Best Indepen-
a bit smaller, but Splat! FilmFest TORONTO AFTER DARK dent Film, as well as a prestigious Saturn Award. In 2018,
really stands out by being super FILM FESTIVAL she worked as a writer on the first season of Warner Bros. and Netflix’s
well-curated, and taking place in TORONTO, ONTARIO // OCTOBER 2020
// TORONTOAFTERDARK.COM Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and saw the publication of her non-fiction
a wonderful cinema in Warsaw, as
exploration of her favorite sub-genre: The FrightFest Guide To Ghost Movies.
well as in Lublin. The audience is Founder and director Adam Lopez
quite different than at other genre continues to pull together a strong She’s now weeks away from shooting her new horror feature. 
......................................................................................
festivals, but you can tell that the lineup of Toronto premieres,
small crowd is really into it. It’s a which this year—the fest’s 14th Born in Vienna, Austria, Lukas Feigelfeld is a director and
real treat for them to be able to edition—included more than editor currently based in Berlin. In 2010, he teamed up with
see this great a selection of films 50 films (features and shorts) cinematographer Mariel Baqueiro to found the production
on the big screen, and they’re very hailing from the U.S., France, office Retina Fabrik. His first feature, the folk horror fable 
true to the cause.” Spain, Ireland, Australia, Portugal, Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse, was made as his film school
New Zealand, South Korea, and of graduation project in 2016, and later premiered at Fantastic Fest
course, Canada. This variety, and
2017, toured the international circuit in 2018, and released in the U.S. in April 2019.
the enthusiasm with which the ......................................................................................
movies are presented, has made
Larry Fessenden is an actor, producer, and the director
Toronto After Dark a favorite with
of the art-horror films Depraved, No Telling, Habit, Wendigo,
both local fans and the many
moviemakers who accompany and The Last Winter, as well as the TV films Skin and Bones
their works for Q&A sessions. and Beneath. He has operated the production shingle
The two groups (as long as they’re Glass Eye Pix since 1985 with the mission of supporting
age 19 or over) also have the individual voices in the arts. 
chance to rub shoulders and ......................................................................................
hoist drinks together at nightly David Gregory is the co-founder of Severin Films,
Pub After Dark gatherings.
a studio devoted to restoring and distributing international
WHAT THE FEST!? genre classics on DVD and Blu-ray. He co-produced
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK and co-directed the 2011 anthology horror feature
STR ASBOURG // TBA 2020 // WHATTHEFESTNYC.COM The Theatre Bizarre and the award-winning 2014 doc
EUROPEAN FANTASTIC In just its second year, this fest Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau,
FILM FESTIVAL proved itself a vital showcase for and most recently served as co-producer on Stanley’s return to feature
STRASBOURG, FRANCE // TBA 2020 fear fare in Manhattan, opening directing after two decades, Color Out of Space.
// STRASBOURGFESTIVAL.COM with the world premiere of ......................................................................................
Having enjoyed its 12th edition Larry Fessenden’s eagerly Kaila Sarah Hier is a film publicist born in Montréal and
this year, Strausborg offers “a awaited new feature Depraved, living between there and Berlin, and often spotted at fes-
great movie selection and fan- and hosting the U.S. premiere of
tivals around the world. She does PR for a slate of exciting
tastic guests,” which over the Adam Stein and Zach Lipovsky’s
film fests including Fantasia, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend,
years have included everyone equally excellent Freaks and the
from George A. Romero, North American premiere Final Girls Berlin, and Boston Underground. In 2019, she
William Friedkin, Joe Dante, of Kiril Sokolov’s stunner founded her own international PR firm, Exile PR, focused on
and Roger Corman to Why Don’t You Just Die! Artistic film and artist publicity, with an eye toward genre, arthouse, and emerging and
Catherine Breillat, Lucky McKee, director Maria Reinup supple- visionary voices. Recently, Exile has represented Blumhouse’s Cam and its writer,
and Enzo G. Castellari. mented the screenings with Isa Mazzei, Tilman Singer and his debut feature Luz, the critical hit Starfish,
“I had the chance to attend special happenings—everything TIFF sensation Sea Fever, and a number of other breakouts and festival darlings.
this one when it was still in its from moviemaker Q&As to ......................................................................................
infancy,” a panelist recalls, “and a women-in-horror discussion to Emma Tammi is a moviemaker based in Los Angeles.
it has grown every year since.” an ice cream social—and orga- Her narrative directorial debut, The Wind, is a supernatural-
Certain films show in open-air nized a devil of a multimedia side- horror-western that premiered at the 2018 Toronto Inter-
screenings, and occasionally bar called “Satan Is Your Friend.”
national Film Festival and was distributed by IFC. She is the
in special settings—like the “With a flair for the curious and
co-founder of Mind Hive Films, and has directed and pro-
time they showed Jaws at a unusual,” a panelist says, “What
municipal pool to an audience The Fest!? does a terrific job of duced numerous documentaries, including Election Day and
in floating chairs. Artistic direc- curating its lineup of movies Fair Chase. This year, she produced the documentary Jay Myself, which was re-
tor Daniel Cohen and his fellow alongside panels for the filmmak- leased theatrically by Oscilloscope, and is an Executive Producer on Blumhouse’s
organizers also put together ers”—and it’s clear they’re just upcoming horror film Bloodline. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.
exhibits, conferences, and other getting started. MM

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 99


A SECRET WEAPON
FOR INDIE PRODUCERS
Planning a feature shoot? MovieMaker Production Services is the budget
extension service you may not have heard of but almost certainly could use

B Y M M S TA F F Raylene Harewood (The Magicians, Charmed) and Wendy Guerrero; original score and music
and Brian Markinson (Charlie Wilson’s War, by Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper
Mad Men). Post was completed at 24 Frames (Grouplove), Alex Walker (Family of The Year,
OVIEMAKER PRODUCTION over the summer of 2019, and the film is Aloke), and Kane Ritchotte; musical perfor-

M SERVICES was born of


necessity more than 20 years
currently touring the festival circuit. Find us
at AllJokingAsideMovie.com and
mances from The Ceremonies, Dog Party,
Pancho and The Wizards, and Hayley

TOP LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY MEG ROBERTS / TOP RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY TEMMA HANKIN /
BOTTOM LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH BORK HAMILTON / BOTTOM RIGHT: COURTESY OF
ago when MovieMaker’s facebook.com/ajathemovie and the Crushers.
founder, Tim Rhys, was in the midst of Coast is in post-production, completing
pre-production on his own first feature color and sound at Final Frame in
and discovered that he was going to need
more cash than he’d initially anticipated.
C OA S T New York. Find out more at
coastthefeature.com.
(A producer who needs more cash? Stop Directors: Jessica Hester, Derek Schweickart
me if you’ve heard this one before…) Producers: Journey Home,
To keep his production on track he negoti-
ated barter deals with his vendors, who
Big Vision Creative, and Publicly Private F UGI T I V E DR E A MS
in association with Fusion Features.
were some of the most well-known compa- Co Producers: Gemini Team Go,
nies in the film business. The idea worked Director: Jason Neulander
Picture Stable Producers: Michelle Randolph Faires,
like a charm and every couple of years
he’d do the same thing for one of his Sixteen-year-old Abby feels trapped in Jennifer Kuczaj, Jason Neulander,
producer friends. Because of the system’s her small coastal farming town when she Peter Simonite
growing popularity Rhys eventually de- falls for the lead singer of a touring rock Fugitive Dreams was shot by Peter Simonite
cided to standardize it and open it up to band and is introduced to a world of pos- in the Austin, Texas area in Spring 2019
MovieMaker readers. Below is a “progress sibility and self-expression. Featuring live and is currently at the tail end of post-
report” of sorts that features some current musical performances, Coast is a coming- production. Principal cast: April Matthis,

WAHEED ALQAWASMI
MMPS projects. We’re very proud of all of-age story about finding the courage to Robbie Tann, Scott Shepherd, O-Lan Jones,
of these producers, who have used the show up for your life and live your truth. and David Patrick Kelly. Mike Saenz edited
program to save 50 percent of their costs Starring Fátima Ptacek, Mia Rose Frampton, and Stuck On On is completing color
on everything from cameras, G&E, and Cristela Alonzo, and Academy Award-Winner and sound for fall festival submissions.
post-production to lodging, transportation, Melissa Leo; written by Cindy Kitagawa; Follow the progress of the film at
and porta-potties and most everything in produced by Dani Faith Leonard, Alex Cirillo, chemistrylabs.us.
between.

ALL JOKING ASIDE


Director: Shannon Kohli
Producer: Jon Ornoy

Set in New York, but shot and completed


in Vancouver BC, All Joking Aside tells the
story of a young woman pursuing her dream
of becoming a stand-up comic and stars

JASON NEULANDER’S WIM WENDERS-AND


JIM JARMUSCH-INSPIRED FUGITIVE DREAMS FOLLOWS
THE STORY OF TWO DESPERATE OUTSIDERS IN SEARCH
OF A HOME

100
Spring of 2020 in Memphis, TN. Follow the DIRECTOR QUINN ARMSTRONG (L) PREPARES TO
I ’L L MEE T YOU T HER E progress of the film at wafilms.com  SHOOT A SCENE IN WHICH STAR STACY KEACH (R)
NARRATES A POLICE TRAINING VIDEO ON THE SET OF
and @wafilms on Instagram. SURVIVAL SKILLS
Writer/Director: Iram Parveen Bilal
Producer: Iram Parveen Bilal DIRECTOR MIRTHA VEGA SHOOTS A SCENE WITH
Co-Producers: Joy Ganes, Ilana Rossein CO-STARS SHOBI MCLEAN (L) AND ALASTAIR PARK (R)
EP: Abid Aziz Merchant, Heather Rae S OUL SE A RCHING ON THE RAIN-SOAKED SET OF SOUL SEARCHING
I’ll Meet You There completed principal
Writer/Director/Producer: Mirtha Vega
photography in Queens, Brooklyn, and training VHS, complete with a Narrator
Staten Island in fall of 2018 and is currently Soul Searching completed principal photog- (Stacy Keach).
about to wrap the post-production phase, raphy in London, England this past April. Survival Skills is currently completing
completing color at Technicolor and sound Post was done in the US (Portland, OR and post-production. After shooting the film on
in preparation for winter festival submis- San Francisco, CA), and original music ARRI Alexa, the post team transferred the
sions. Follow the progress of the film at was composed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. entire project to VHS, where magnets were
facebook.com/illmeetyoutherethefilm. Currently beginning the festival submission used to degrade certain portions of the tape,
process, Soul Searching is prepping the 5.1 then back to digital for the final edit. Color
sound mix for their DCP. Learn more about by Timecode Post in Santa Monica, and

JACIR the project here at soulsearchingfilm.com sound by This Is Sound Design in Burbank.
Festival submissions and distribution meet-
ings will take place shortly after completion
Director: Waheed AlQawasmi
Producers: Waheed AlQawasmi, Robert Saba, SURV I VA L SK IL L S in October. More information and contact
can be found at survivalskillsmovie.com.
Amy Williams
Executive Producers: Kelman-Lazarov,  Writer/Director: Quinn Armstrong
Nick Belperio
Jacir follows a Syrian refugee who settles
Producer: Colin West
Survival Skills is the story of Jim
YOU C A N ’ T S AY NO
in Memphis, TN, and moves in next door (Vayu O’Donnell), a rookie cop who gets in Director: Paul Kramer
to an opioid-addicted ultra-conservative over his head when he tries to resolve a Producers: Hus Miller and Kyle Kernan
elderly woman; and the unlikely friendship domestic violence case outside the law. The
that emerges. Production is slated to begin movie is presented as a mid-’80s police You Can’t Say No stars Marguerite Moreau,
Hamish Linklater, Hus Miller, Julie Carmen,
and the late Peter Fonda. It was shot in beau-
tiful Sonoma County in 2017 and completed
post-production in Los Angeles in 2018. After
a successful film festival run, You Can’t Say No
was released in the U.S. on May 7, 2019
on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play,
Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation, Redbox
on Demand, Fandango Now, Hoopla, and is
now playing on Showtime and Showtime On
Demand. It was also released in the UK under
the title Make or Break. You Can’t Say No will
be released worldwide in 2020. MM

101
FESTIVAL BEAT

TELLURIDE, TINSELTOWN,
TORONTO, MIDDLEBURY,
SANTA ANA, AND SAN JOSE
New films, friends, and food are found at these pitstops
across North America’s 2019 festival scene

TELLURIDE FILM gained both ardent defenders and detractors


(who complained of its crushing soundscape

FESTIVAL 2019 and the level-11 intensity sustained


throughout its runtime). Uncut Gems is a
tough sell for some who come to Telluride for
In Colorado’s open air, cinephiles pictures with warmth and sentimentality. Its
flock to the year’s most anticipated performances are intentionally one-note
offerings and Adam Sandler shoots as its diamond district hustler lead character,
hoops before his film’s world premiere Howard (Adam Sandler), makes one
desperate maneuver after another trying to
get out from under his suffocating gambling
To describe Telluride Film Festival as debt. It’s a fascinating picture that boldly
much has been made of Terrence Malick’s
a “special” or even “magical” place seems never pauses to consider even for a moment
so-called return to more conventional
obvious, but it remains true that anyone what’s going on in its protagonist’s head,
moviemaking, and while the “Malick is back!”
who’s had the opportunity to visit this small beyond a frantic “What can I do right now to
positive reviews of A Hidden Life drive a
Colorado mountain town for any of its delay my judgment day?” The Safdies’ cinema
Malick purist like myself nutty, here we are
myriad festivals throughout the year ends up places experience above all else, and here
with the Texan’s most commercial feature
dumbfounded and reduced to using one of they’ve crafted something wholly original.
since perhaps The Thin Red Line. The film has
these simplistic descriptions. A24’s presence at this year’s fest is worth
played tremendously with crowds and is a real
Fresh off of its rapturous reception in noting: The acclaimed label brought
tearjerker that probes at deep philosophical
Venice, Noah Baumbach’s tale of divorce Uncut Gems along with
questions. (The recurring violin
set in two cities, Marriage Story, equally Trey Edwards Shults’ (Krisha, AT TELLURIDE FILM cues of its magnificent score
wowed audiences stateside. Around town, the It Comes at Night) latest, FESTIVAL 2019, SOME WERE
HIGH-PROFILE AUTEURS, operated as a literal “cry button”
response to James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari Waves—whose title is a great
OTHERS WERE HOUSEHOLD for me… and for the rest of the
rang a recurring note: “It’s an expensive, metaphor for what it made
NAME ACTORS, AND ALL audience, I presume, though
excellently choreographed, solid big-budget in Telluride. Shults’ film is WERE EXCITED CINEPHILES. I couldn’t verify this through
studio picture,” fest-goers repeatedly told me, maximalist to the umpteenth (WHO CAN YOU SPOT?)
misty eyes.)
and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. Now, degree. Initially rumored to
At the center of the New
whenever I’m watching a sloppy, poorly edited be a Kanye West “musical,” word has it
Sheridan, its de facto meeting place at the
mainstream film, my mind begins to drift: that Shults wanted his high school epic to
center of town, and even its bigger industry
“What if James Mangold had directed this? include only Kanye music cues. When this
parties held in public bars along the main
How much tighter would this experience be?” proved too expensive to license, he instead
strip, Telluride is a place of open communion
“Divisive” is a word that can be its own dished out a healthy mix of Kendrick Lamar,
for cinema lovers. Where else are you going to
buzzy descriptor (personally, I’m drawn to Animal Collective, Frank Ocean, Radiohead,
accidentally wander into a Netflix party and
festival films that some friends recommend and one Kanye track, “I Am a God.” A24
make eye contact with every famous person in
highly and others vehemently dismiss), and also had Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow in
town as you scan the room for your friend, or
Benny and Josh Safdie’s latest, Uncut Gems, tow, which plays like the polar opposite
catch a glimpse of Adam Sandler hooping on
fit this bill. The film, executive produced of Waves, eschewing impressive camera
a small basketball court with the president of
by Martin Scorsese, feels like the Safdies’ maneuvers and bombastic music cues for
A24 mere minutes before he intros his film?
definitive coming out party for their unique small-scale, character-driven drama.
brand of New York moviemaking, and has Since it premiered at Cannes last spring, — Caleb Hammond

102 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FESTIVAL BEAT

I can attempt to explain the


simultaneous fear and pride I felt
when I saw my face on the screen at the
TCL Chinese Theatre, or how welcoming
Theo Dumont was, as we gushed
about a moviemaker we both adore
(Kevin Wilson Jr.), but to be frank,
every festival review is going to sell the
moviemaker a romanticized version of
their dreams.
Now don’t get me wrong, these
experiences were incredible and are
imprinted on my memory forever, but
the real reason why HollyShorts is a cut
above the rest is because they make it
all feel possible, and more importantly
attainable. Yes, there is glitz and glam,
but humility and community are at the
heart of this festival.
Hardworking organizers
Nicole Castro, Theo Dumont,
Daniel Sol, and the HollyShorts team
wholly understand that the moviemakers
come to L.A. with their dreams in tow.
With this knowledge they foster the
creation of lasting relationships with
accomplished professionals that have
HOLLYSHORTS FILM a quiet reverence for film, its associated
industry, and “the process.”
FILM FESTIVAL 2019
TOP: COURTESY OF TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL / BOTTOM: COURTESY OF HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

Whether discussing a shorts block


at The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel,
Up-and-comers find their dreams indulging in tacos with wonderfully kind
within reach among elite company festival photographer Jeff Smith,
or enjoying live jazz performances
at this L.A. staple of shorts cinema with other moviemakers (shout out
to Black Rabbit Rose Magic),
It’s no secret that life for a moviemaker the collective commitment to
can be precarious at times. We embark storytelling in a real and unembellished
upon a journey fully aware of the fact that manner permeates the culture at
our hard work may not always yield the HollyShorts.
desired result, regardless of how hard Attending this festival made me
we try or how much we deserve the odds realize that the film career I want
to swing in our favor. is possible because every person I came
Compound this hard truth with a joe into contact with; be it a volunteer,
job, rent, a few extra mouths to feed—or or a panelist, were living examples of the
life in general—and the future can seem fact that commitment and hard work
bewildering. are truly the only secret to attaining
This feeling of uncertainty mirrored one’s goals.
my sentiments on July 17 before our film On July 17, I woke up in Toronto
was accepted by HollyShorts. feeling like my dreams were faraway.
I can write about fancy parties, or the A month later, I left L.A. no longer
wildly famous people I got to chat with, feeling like I was crazy for wanting
like Anthony Russo, or Kodak’s president, something big, and more importantly,
or what it’s like walking past Halle Berry’s I left feeling like I was entirely capable
MOVIEMAKER AISHA EVELYNA HITS THE RED CARPET star en route to red carpet events on of achieving it.
AT HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL 2019 Hollywood Boulevard. — Aisha Evelyna

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 103


FESTIVAL BEAT

MIDDLEBURY curated from hundreds of submissions down


to just 110, is singular. And three: Each story,
into neurotic chaos. Filmed in French by
the director Eric Bu and produced by

NEW FILMMAKERS as written and distilled through the eyes of


fresh talent, is worthy of being here.
Alexis Bougon and Stephane Sansonetti,
this film has the sense and sensibility of

FESTIVAL 2019 Exiting A Destruction, I ease into the


daylight. Next up: The Dog Doc, a tale
of a maverick veterinarian’s alternative
a Louis Malle/Woody Allen collaboration.
Given the background and connections of
the local festival founders, Lloyd Komesar
The hills are alive with a round medicine for animal healing that’s nothing and Jay Craven, these selections are not
of new flicks at this carefully short of miraculous. Carol Street, surprising. Komesar, a former distribution
curated Vermont-based hub by Middlebury College alumnus executive with Disney, and Craven, an Emmy
Demetrius Borge, deftly weaves together award-winning independent moviemaker,
themes of race, responsibility, combined forces to create a
“Marriage is an utter destruction.” A RAINBOW FOOD TRUCK platform for new moviemakers.
and what it means to “pass” as
Jesus, don’t some of us know that. But FEEDS HUNGRY FEST-
white at a tony university. The GOERS AT MIDDLEBURY
“We pride ourselves on the high
when whispered by an impoverished 11 year
Pollinators, which explores the NEW FILMMAKERS number of submitted films
old Pakistani girl whose dreams of becoming
threatened roles of bees and FESTIVAL 2019 we program,” says Craven.
a physician are threatened by arranged
insects to our food supply, proves “I also curate films that were not
marriage and death in childbirth, any first
itself to be mandatory viewing in high submitted but that I’ve seen at other festivals.
world context feels disconcertingly smug.
school science classes and beyond. For these selections, we keep to our mission
Rooted to my seat at the Middlebury New
Turning 10, Soaring Soldiers, and of programming first and second films.”
Filmmakers Festival, some 6,800 miles
When We Walk are heart breaking paeans Komesar notes that “First and second-time
from the travesty unfolding onscreen
to the human spirit. After three filmmakers don’t get adequate, cutting-
in Omar Nabulsi’s A Destruction, three
days of films, I squeeze into the standing edge support, so we set out to change that,”
thoughts come to mind. One: This festival
room-only world premiere of adding, “We aim to level the playing field and
for new moviemakers, tucked into the
The Return of Richard III on the 9:24am Train. provide a true home and showcase for new
verdant hills of the von Trapps, Jerry Garcia,
A comedy drama about a dying man who filmmakers.”
and Bernie Sanders milieu, won’t let you
hires professional actors to impersonate his And, quite literally, homes are offered up
go quietly into the light. Two: Every film,
real-life family, the plot quickly devolves to each attending moviemaker during the

104 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FESTIVAL BEAT

and its many eccentric offerings—can be a


language of understanding unto itself.
Miguel Rodriguez understands the gift
of horror as the language of our darkest
imaginations well. Within the delicately
designed framework of his 10-year-old
genre film festival, Horrible Imaginings, he’s
embarked on a mission to create a space for
moviemakers to use macabre cinema as a
means of “using imagination to understand
the world,” as he puts it—to “escape the
oppression of reason.”
For its 10th anniversary,
Horrible Imaginings returned to
Santa Ana’s arthouse The Frida Cinema.
Spirits were high throughout the three-
day weekend, as the HIFF team welcomed
genre shorts and features alike. Personally
curated by Rodriguez, shorts blocks ranged
from such classic fare as “Monsters, Science
Fiction, and The Beyond” to unique concepts
such as “This Mortal Coil,” a screening series
centered around humans’ innate fear
of aging.
“We can express fear by poking fun at
things, or we can express fear by showing
something horrifying on-screen,” Rodriguez
FESTIVAL DIRECTOR MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ (R) EMBRACES AN ATTENDEE ON DAY ONE OF HORRIBLE IMAGININGS asserts. And although the general qualifier
FILM FESTIVAL 2019 for Horrible Imaginings is “cinema of the
macabre,” there’s plenty of horror-comedy
four-day festival. Local residents open their they should really focus more on smaller- to go around as well. My personal favorite:
guest rooms and futons, making access to target marketing.” a very short, epic war of Gingerbread
the venue affordable. The entire vibe of Not to mention funding. In addition to people titled “Gingerfall: Reckoning”… not
LEFT: MIDDLEBURY NEW FILMMAKERS FESTIVAL / RIGHT: COURTESY OF HORRIBLE IMAGININGS

the festival is laid-back and intimate, with MNFF’s numerous prizes and their annual to be confused with Bill Moseley’s turn
rainbow-painted food trucks, “non-chain” “Vermont Symphony Orchestra—Best as Abraham Lincoln in the thoughtful,
local shops and cafés, and scenic streets free Integration of Music into Film,” which beautifully shot short “Gingerbread.”
of the usual fuss and vendor labyrinths that awards full scoring for the winner’s next film, Between these themed short blocks
plague the larger festivals. Moviemakers, MNFF will premiere two new substantial and daily features (one to two originals per
distributors, and audiences mingle, strike up scholarships for narratives in 2020. day, as well as a 60th anniversary screening
conversations and friendships, then linger — Katherine Sullivan of William Castle’s The Tingler),
and catch up at the many parties throughout Horrible Imaginings kept its schedule
the evenings.
Speaking of catching up, director HORRIBLE spooky with panels, parties, a zombie ballet,
and a lovable photographer-friendly Satan
Paul Schrader (Affliction, First Reformed)
stopped in to share highlights of his career IMAGININGS FILM impersonator.
HIFF’s closing ceremony honored
and future plans. Working actors
Bruce Greenwood, Polly Draper, and
Jeremy Holm (a rising talent and
FESTIVAL 2019 Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made with
the award for Best Film; the film, one of my
favorites of the fest, follows a brother and
House of Cards alum) discussed their craft Engaged audiences, unique themed sister who dig a hole to hell in order to save
over coffee. Distribution was a hot topic shorts blocks, and a zombie ballet their late pet dog. While it may not have truly
for many panels. The “Navigating the fuel this Santa Ana scare cinema harmed anyone (despite a formal Indemnity
PBS Programing World—Producers and
Acquirers Tell All” event was packed.
spot on its 10th anniversary Agreement provided to the audience), it did
deliver great visuals and scares, a tightly
Marc Mauceri of First Run Features, one crafted and nuanced story, and a bookended
FILM FESTIVAL

of the largest independent distributors in In this world of boundless creative mockumentary both clever and essential to
North America, comments during his panel imagination, finding a common language to the film’s lore. A worthwhile entry to HIFF
that “first-time filmmakers often want to understand it all can be scary. So scary, in and horror canon in general,
plaster festival laurels on their films, when fact, that fear—the stuff of the horror genre Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 105


DIRECTOR TAIKA WAITITI (C) AND CO-STARS SCARLETT JOHANSSON (L) AND SAM ROCKWELL (R) ATTEND THE JOJO RABBIT AFTER-PARTY AT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL
FILM FESTIVAL 2019

delivered on using macabre film language Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, which picked up his absence is deeply felt when his on-screen
to better understand our world. It was also TIFF’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Who time comes to end. Ford v Ferrari is a movie
a perfect example of the Hamlet quote from would have thought that a satire about Nazis not just about fast cars, but about friendship,
which the festival takes its name: “Present would resonate so much? The strength of risk, innovation, and driving with your soul. 
fears are less than horrible imaginings.” Jojo Rabbit is that it can make you both Todd Phillips’ Joker makes the Best Actor
— Grant Vance laugh at the absurdity of its premise—about race even tighter, all but guaranteeing its star
a young German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) Joaquin Phoenix a nod. His performance

LEFT: PHOTOGRAPH BY TODD WILLIAMSON / COURTESY OF JANUARY IMAGES;


TORONTO who keeps Adolf Hitler (Waititi) as an
imaginary friend and discovers that his
is committed on every level: The titular
Clown Prince is in his DNA.  But what makes

INTERNATIONAL mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding


a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their
Joker remarkable is that it’s everything
a comic-book movie isn’t—a dark, near-quiet,

FILM FESTIVAL 2019 home—and cry at the sinister underpinnings


of a society that can allow for such horror. 
It’s not a movie that takes its subject lightly—
noirish exploration of the psyche of
Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), who ultimately
transforms into that villain with the painted
Awards season buzz builds in even if its facade would lead one to believe face. Joker is as much about Arthur as it is
between high-profile premieres otherwise. about the coldness and brutality of modern
RIGHT: PHOTOGRAPH BY DEBRA MCCLURE

and lively afterparties for another In many ways, TIFF marks the arrival life, and about how we collectively deal
year at TIFF of awards season each year: This is where
the buzz for potential nominees begins,
(or don’t deal) with mental illness.
For the Best Actress race, there’s
and certain films sure fit the bill. Renée Zellweger’s beautifully vulnerable
There was a point at this year’s Toronto Bad Educated, about a real-life embezzlement performance in Judy. Perhaps an unlikely
International Film Festival where it became scandal that shook the American school casting choice, Zellweger manages to capture
instantly clear which movie would be the system, sees Hugh Jackman turn in the essence of Judy Garland, the emotional
true star. It didn’t hurt that the audience a terrifically nuanced performance as pain she endured, and her need to find true
burst into spontaneous applause after the a Long Island superintendent. Then there’s connection, and her musical performances
film’s opening scene. That movie, Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari, who brings to in the film are captivating. Johansson is
of course, is writer-director/producer/star life another true-life person so intimately that a likely candidate to snag two nominations

106 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


FESTIVAL BEAT

this year: one for Supporting Actress in for that purpose. We meet Imogen McCluskey for each screening.
Jojo Rabbit where she’s magical and and Béatrice Barbeau-Scurla, the Australian It’s easy to forget the countless, crucial
vivacious, and another for her role as Nicole women behind the film Suburban Wildlife; steps that need to be taken for a screening
in Noah Baumbach’s divorce dramedy Carl Hunter from Liverpool with his feature to be successful, but it sinks in when you
Marriage Story, which earned raves. debut Sometimes Always Never starring meet each of the people that have worked
At a packed Jojo Rabbit after-party, Bill Nighy; and Puerto Rican actor to make that happen. From passing
Waititi was among the last guests to Rafael Albarran representing Lupe, ballots to operating projection and sound
leave. Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn a powerful story that follows a transgender to moderating Q&As—every facet has
reception, appropriately, had a live jazz woman’s journey. Sitting with independents to be perfectly executed. Sitting to the
band and incredible food. Leading Canadian from across the globe and bonding over our far right of the screen, squeezing my
distributor Mongrel Media celebrated professional journeys is what makes Cinequest avocado-shaped stress ball throughout the
their 25-year anniversary by taking over a true filmmakers’ film festival. premiere and holding my breath for each
Campbell House Museum, turning it into We’re here to present my feature audience reaction, I feel grateful for all
Mongrel House, and holding a multi-day Bring Me An Avocado a generous four the volunteers and staffers who put in the
celebration to honor their nine films at the times to audiences across two cities work to let me live in this moment.
festival. Sure, there were whiskey-based during the span of the fest. Without fail, The whirlwind experience of
drinks, food stations, and other treats, the screenings are packed with engaged international friendships and glorious
but the big draw was live-band karaoke, audiences and followed by lively Q&As. late nights tug at my heart long after
featuring an accompanying band, perhaps As part of their re-branding as the Cinequest is over. For two weeks,
appropriately named Good Enough. For “Film and Creativity” festival, Cinequest’s downtown San Jose was a village of
a festival, it’s good enough indeed. selections are paired with live friends and like-minded artists. It tickles
— Katherine Brodsky performances that complement their to think back on it.
respective genres and set the mood — Maria Mealla MM

CINEQUEST FILM ELLE FANNING

FESTIVAL 2019 RECEIVES THE


MAVERICK SPIRIT
AWARD AT CINEQUEST
Dedicated staffers and newfound film 2019
friends from around the globe make
for an unforgettable trek to San Jose
My team and I arrive at Cinequest’s
opening night with our stomachs in knots,
as moviemakers do when preparing to share
years of effort with a live audience for the
first time. Through lightly falling rain on
the car’s window we can see the press line
and camera flashes outside of the majestic
California Theatre and it feels like a dream.
We file out of the car, squeezing each other’s
hands with excitement as we approach the
crowd. At Cinequest, every moviemaker is
given an equal opportunity at the press and
red carpet experience—short, doc, or fiction,
everyone gets their moment.
The communication and care the
hospitality team have put into prepping us
for the fest make them instant friends. Every
staffer we meet mirrors our excitement as if
they had worked on the film themselves.
The moviemaker lounge is a cozy bar
conveniently located on the same block as
the California Theatre where I find myself
gravitating back to several times a day. This is
home base for moviemakers from all over the
world, eager to make friends in a space curated

MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 107


2019 MOTION PICTURE
PRODUCTION GUIDE
No amount of Googling will give you a directory this primed for your production needs
BY MM EDITORS

HE ONLY THING more overwhelming to consider than how many resources you need to

T make a movie is how much you’ll need to dig to find them on a tight schedule and tighter
budget. When MovieMaker’s Motion Picture Production Guide (MMPG) was first intro-
duced, the idea was to hack this part of the process by delivering an extensive, up-to-date
list of the software, gear, and services best suited to help you finish your project.
This year, the MMPG has returned, conveniently organized into six categories to provide an array of
70-plus practical options for each step of the production process. The guide also includes equipment
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108 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


LOS ANGELES-BASED DP
KAITY WILLIAMS (R) USES
SHAREGRID TO RENT OUT HER
CAMERA EQUIPMENT TO OTHER
MOVIEMAKERS WHEN SHE’S NOT
SHOOTING WITH IT HERSELF

Los Angeles (201/401-1698),


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Kappa Studios
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MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 109


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110 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


CALL FOR ENTRIES

JULIEN DUBUQUE INTERNATIONAL in festival programs. Submission deadline ema, music, and art. The 12th annual festival
FILM FESTIVAL is December 1, 2019. Learn more at will be held in October 2020 in Rhode Island.
The 9th Annual Julien Dubuque Internation- kustendorf-filmandmusicfestival.org. $30,000 in awards/prizes will be given away,
al Film Festival (JDIFF) will take place as well as 50+ jury and 20+ audience awards.
April 22-26, 2020 and is now open for sub- NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL All submissions receive two free weekend
missions. JDIFF has an amazing reputation The 21st annual Newport Beach Film Festival film passes. Visit senefest.com.
for being the best in communication and a is now accepting film submissions! Ranked
festival that’s designed for indie moviemak- in FilmFreeway’s Top 100 Best Reviewed SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL
ers, including great programming; a movie- Festivals, NBFF is internationally recognized Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham,
makers’ lounge with breakfast, lunch, and as one of Southern California’s premiere film Alabama is known for its southern hospital-
supper buffets; multiple screening opportuni- events. Enjoy eight days (April 23-May 30, ity and progressive programming. Submit
ties with Q&As; a free housing program; cash 2020) of 350-plus film screenings, 58,000- your shorts, features, and scripts starting
prizes, and more, with everything within plus attendees, unforgettable nightly galas, November 1, 2019 to one of MovieMaker’s
walking distance. This is not your ordinary engaging networking opportunities, industry 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World
Midwest festival destination and not an seminars, and red carpet premieres. Submit and one of USA Today’s 10 Great Places
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on the Mississippi, where even Al Capone Visit newportbeachfilmfest.com/submit. Visit sidewalkfest.com.
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MovieMaker’s 50 Film Festivals Worth the OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL
Entry Fee. Visit julienfilmfest.com. The Oxford Film Festival is accepting entries FILM FESTIVAL
in documentary, narrative, LGBTQIA, anima- The 26th San Luis Obispo International
KÜSTENDORF INTERNATIONAL tion, experimental, short screenplays, and Film Festival happens March 17-22, 2020
FILM AND MUSIC FESTIVAL music docs on FilmFreeway until December in downtown San Luis Obispo and
The 2020 Küstendorf International Film and 31, 2019. The festival will be held in Oxford, surrounding towns. Located halfway
Music Festival is coming in January and now MS March 18-22, 2020. Visit oxfordfilmfest. between L.A. and San Francisco, its laid-
open for film submissions. The Competition com/submit. back vibe and serene natural beauty is
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MOVIEMAKER.COM FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 111


THINGS I’VE LEARNED
AS A MOVIEMAKER

GOLDEN AGE
Ten time-tested tips from an older, wiser,
but no less wilder Quentin Tarantino
SUN WORSHIPPER:
QUENTIN TARANTINO
B Y Q U E N T I N TA R A N T I N O , MAY ENJOY HIS
AS TOLD TO MA X WEINSTEIN SHADES, BUT WHEN
HE’S SHOOTING
OUTDOORS, HE
SWEARS BY DP ROBERT
LOT HAS HAPPENED in just

A
RICHARDSON’S ADVICE
the few months since Quentin TO “FOLLOW THE
Tarantino released Once Upon FUCKIN’ SUN!”
a Time… in Hollywood, his
daydreamy vision of a summer story is leading to that table. You make an reveals itself to you as you watch your dailies.
of ’69 both real and imagined. As soon as the unsaid vow to the audience: “Things might I always take my notes on the line readings and
film opened in July, a Pandora’s Box of cultural be the way they are when these characters sit takes that I like, but when I’m watching my
conversation opened along with it, letting out down, but by the time they stand up, they’re dailies I don’t even want to look at any of my
a cacophony of acclaim and ire that’s followed going be different.” And when the scene is notes that say, “On the day, this was my favorite
the movie and its maker well into the fall sea- over, now we’re in a different movie. take.” You just want to have it all affect you.
son. (Most recently, Bruce Lee’s daughter Shan-
non issued a complaint to China’s National 3. Make your script really detailed. You don’t 8. After a certain point and time, I learned
Film Administration about the film’s portrayal know if anyone is going to talk to you about that you have to follow the sun through your
of her father, leading the country’s censors to it. If you can make the movie on the page and whole shooting day when you’re outdoors.
issue a demand to Tarantino to recut the film someone can see it in their brain as they read I used to fight Robert Richardson about that:
that he promptly, and thankfully, refused.) it, well, then they might give you a chance to “I wanna do this first!” Now, that’s ridiculous
Of course, when standing up to bureaucratic do it, because they’re not guessing about it. to say to Bob! Bob will say, “Just allow me.
bullies, it makes a world of difference to have The movie’s gonna look fuckin’ great! But
final cut privilege inked into your contract as a 4. If you’re self-taught, your script is going you gotta follow the fuckin’ sun!”
first line of defense. That Sony so readily afford- to be your guide. I didn’t go to film school.
ed Tarantino that privilege when they went into It’s tougher to pick up the technical stuff 9. When you show food inserts, everything has to
business with him in 2017 underscores how he at the beginning of your career if you’re be lit just perfectly. When I show people eating
continues to do what only great moviemakers not coming from that background. On my and drinking, I want you to want to have what
can: draw in crowds, stir the pot, ignite popular first couple of movies, I wished I better they’re having! When you watch Jackie Brown,
imagination. And as it happens, there’re still a understood lighting, or the difference be- I want you to get a screwdriver like Ordell’s

PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM P. WHITBY / COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT


lot of gems remaining from my interview with tween this lens versus that lens. But then I drinking through the whole movie. I want you
the writer-director for our cover story in thought, “The cinematographer knows more to want a piece of strudel with crème fraîche
MovieMaker #132—a loquacious list’s worth about cinematography than I do… the editor on it, like Landa’s in Inglourious Basterds. In
of insight on the ins and outs of process, the ad- knows more about editing than I do… but I Pulp Fiction, when we show the insert of the
vantages of being an autodidact, and the very know more about this script than they do.” burger being picked up, and that close-up of
definition of the word “moviemaker.” — M.W. Sam Jackson taking a bite—it’s a good-lookin’
5. Character backstory is important for every- burger! When I show my food inserts, that’s
1. If you’re a writer-director, you have to invest one making the movie to know. It informs you when I become Adrian Lyne.
in the concept of being a writer—not just writ- and you actors. But it’s not important for the
ing something for yourself to direct. You’ve got audience. They don’t care. 10. A film crew is a weird combination of cir-
to commit to the literature of what you’re doing, cus performers and the military. It’s a bunch of
rather than worry about that finished movie at 6. Get the hardest part of your shoot out of the guys and gals on a mission. You’re assigned
the end of the road. way as soon as possible. It’ll take you for- a task to accomplish, there’s a military
ever, but when you finish, you’ll have a sense breakdown between the officers and the
2. Work your drama inside of a social ritual that of confidence—maybe even hubris—from people working for the officers, and then you
everyone can understand and appreciate—like, having done that big sequence first. That swarm the beach. You invade locations, take
say, sitting at a dinner table. It’s a wonderful will carry you through the rest of the movie. them over, and for the time being, you make
way to write dialogue and play with tension. everything run your way. Then, you pack up
If you’ve done your job as a storyteller, your 7. How you’ll want to put a scene together and you’re gone. MM

112 FALL 2019 / COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2020 MOVIEMAKER.COM


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