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Welcome to Another Year at the Movies with Jordan Jeffries. Just a few weeks ago I stopped by the 2015 MoCCA Arts Festival (hosted by the Society of Illustrators) in New York City, sort of like Artists' Alley at Comic-Con minus the rest of Comic-Con and only the artists. There I stumbled across and discovered one amazing, unforgettable comic book dedicated to a love of movies, titled Matinee Junkie. It was written and illustrated by cinephile Jordan Jeffries from New Jersey. I bought a copy of year one and the sequel, Matinee Junkie 2 (for 2014), which recaps each a year of his life as connected to the films he saw - including a full-size scan of the ticket stub. This is a must read comic book for any/every last movie lover out there.
Think you know everything about Steven Spielberg's style? Think again. We've already seen and posted a shot-by-shot analysis of Jaws before (view that one here), but this latest one breaks down and analyzes the filmmaking techniques Spielberg used in one particular scene in his shark thriller classic Jaws (released in 1975). Specifically, Julian Palmer takes a look at the early beach attack scene in Jaws, where the young boy gets eaten. It's a detailed analysis (perhaps over-analysis) but includes very intelligent references that will allow anyone to understand how beautifully this scene is crafted, and just how talented Spielberg really is. There's always more to learn about filmmaking techniques from films old and new, so always keep watching.
An early look at The Making of The Force Awakens. Disney kicked things off with a bang in Anaheim with the opening panel of Star Wars Celebration, taking place this weekend in Southern California. The panel included an hour long discussion and first look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, guided by director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy. They told stories of growing up with Star Wars, making sure the fans are satisfied (in every way), the daunting task of continuing this legacy when George Lucas decided to hand it over. In the background were slides showing various behind-the-scenes production photos, including on the desert planet Jakku (or is it Jaku?). And, to be frank, we love behind-the-scenes photos. This recap comes directly from the live stream of the Star Wars Celebration opening presentation.
"Go into a shoot with a bad script, and you're in big trouble." Playing in theaters now is the new sci-fi film Ex Machina, directed by screenwriter turned filmmaker Alex Garland. Garland is making his directorial debut with this film after writing the scripts for The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. A few years back I met up with him for an interview about Dredd, and we talked a lot about science fiction, and how the genre pushes itself forward. I met up with Alex Garland again, this time while he was in New York City to promote Ex Machina, and we again chatted about sci-fi and how much he loves the genre. As always, it was fun to sit down and talk with Alex about filmmaking and much more. Fire it up!
You're never too old, it's never too late, to change your life, to start something new. How about becoming a feature film director? Or a screenwriter? Throughout the years we've always tried to provide some extra inspiration for our filmmaker/storyteller readers and this fine infographic is the perfect bit of inspiration to share. Nathalie at the site Mentorless has created an infographic titled It's Never Too Late To Make Your First Feature Film that takes a look at 26 filmmakers "with an international career that made their first feature film in their 30s or 40s, proving that it's never too late to start making films." Indeed. She breaks down each into 4 categories, including their age when they directed an "international breakthrough".
Maybe these should actually be real, I'd buy a few of them. "I created these VHS covers for 'april's fool day' pretending a parisian hipster named 'Stan' only watched modern films and TV series on VHS," he writes on his Tumblr. French artist Golem13 posted a full breakdown on his own blog detailing his fun creating a series of fake VHS tapes and covers for modern movies and TV shows like "Game of Thrones", "The Walking Dead", "Breaking Bad", The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy. As goofy as all this sounds, these actually look pretty dang cool and I suggest taking a look at some of the photos of the vintage VHS covers below. If anything, for a quick smile + laugh.
"Isn't it strange, to create something that hates you?" With the US release of Alex Garland's new sci-fi Ex Machina just around the corner (on April 10th - go see it!), there's no better time to feature some concept art that appeared earlier in the year (thanks to io9 + CBR). Jock, a famous comic book artist/illustrator, did some concept art work for Garland's Ex Machina when it was in development, helping envision the main robot character Ava played by Alicia Vikander in the film. He tweeted out some of these images in January, and we're just seeing them but it's perfect timing as the film hits theaters here soon. That means everyone finally gets a chance to have their mind opened by the sci-fi fun of Ex Machina (here's my review).
"It belongs in a museum!" Indeed it does. Or maybe on your wall, in your living room, next to your big TV and endless collection of DVDs. Yea that's the perfect spot for this art print. Our friend Rob Loukotka, who goes under the name "Fringe Focus", has recently debuted a new print called The Desk of Dr. Jones and it's awesome. Loukotka's style utilizes very, very tall (or very wide) prints that feature lots of lush detail. This time he has decided to imagine what the desk of Indiana Jones would look like, featuring some of the famous "MacGuffins" and artifacts he has collected/stolen/interacted with at various points in his wild life.
Camera nerds and cinematographers gather ’round. A video has been uploaded to YouTube that features cinematographer Joe Dunton (Dance Craze, Checkout Girl) explaining in great detail the various lenses (and cameras) that Stanley Kubrick used as a filmmaker. It's very nerdy and seems to be an older video that is only now making the rounds; we were tipped by Filmmaker Magazine. Joe shows off and discusses a number of the various lenses, wides and zooms, that Kubrick used plus his favorite camera the Arriflex IIc. Get ready for a trip back in time, as he says most of these were popular in the 50s and 60s, but that's fine they're still great lenses. Whether you're a filmmaker or photographer or not, this is worth a quick watch.
Filmmakers are very crafty storytellers. The best ones know how to use the visual medium known as cinema to not only tell a story, but make us feel emotions of all kinds, and empathize with characters and people we have never met before. Filmmakers are also adept enough to link themes and patterns in the story through visual cues. In this video essay from Jacob T. Swinney titled First and Final Frames, he shows us how important the opening and closing shots are in every movie. At first you may think they have no connection, but it'll really hit you when you see the Gone Girl moment and it builds from there. This montage of over 50 films, showing the opening/closing shots side-by-side, also features the music "Any Other Name" by Thomas Newman from the American Beauty soundtrack. It's much more mesmerizing than I was expecting.
Let's discover something new. Kicking off this week in New York City is one of my favorite under-the-radar film festivals, called New Directors/New Films. Co-presented by both the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art (two of the best places for movies in the city anyway!), the fest highlights first-time filmmakers and their incredible feature debuts. This is my second year attending, and it's really all about the films, and the spirit of discovery, and first time introductions to filmmakers we'll be hearing about for many years to come. If you want to feel like you're ahead of the class, or you want an early start learning about which filmmakers are on the rise, take a closer look at this festival and its selection. They found them.
A few weeks ago we ran a post featuring some of the artwork from Canadian artist Jason Edmiston that he made for a show Mondo is hosting called "Eyes Without a Face". It features prints created by Edmiston in 3:1 aspect ratio, inspired by the field of vision of a standard rearview mirror in a car, showing only the eyes of pop culture characters of all kinds. It's an amazing, amazing show with some incredible work and tons of favorites. If I had the money, I would've bought a few of these. And the originals are now on sale via Mondo for those who do have the cash. In addition to the batch we featured a few weeks ago, I've tossed up a few other favorites from the show this weekend (including the Medusa one that involves a mirror). Take a look!
"Do I look old to you?" Local New York-based filmmaker Noah Baumbach has two new films coming out this year, the first being the wacky While We're Young about a couple growing older (see the trailer), and the other being Mistress America, a sort-of-sequel to his 2012 film Frances Ha. In honor of the upcoming release of While We're Young this spring, a nationwide screening series has launched called "Growing Up Baumbach" recapping at least four of his indie gems from the past decade. This includes The Squid and the Whale (still my favorite Baumbach film so far) and Kicking and Screaming, plus a few other films. Read on.
They'll never leave… Our good friend and producer/co-host of The Golden Briefcase podcast Tim Buel has completed his first feature film, titled In Residence, and it's now available to watch online for free. Early last year we supporter his Kickstarter for the project, which billed the film as a "shoestring horror flick" that they would shoot on their own for $5000. They got all the funding, and now little more than a year later, they've completed work. And to show it off they've released the entire horror film online for free for your viewing pleasure. Just don't forget to support the guys who made this - Tim and Cody Rhyse, since they put everything into this. And it's truly an independent, shoe-string budget film made by passionate filmmakers.