I really love what The Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences has been doing lately with their Academy Originals series of videos which take a look at the art and stories behind the making of the movies we love. The latest video features Casting director Marci Liroff (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mean Girls) recounting the story of how Henry Thomas was cast as the lead in Steven Spielberg‘s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
As it turns out, Thomas was not the first choice for the role of Elliot. Liroff describes how a game of Dungeons & Dragons at screenwriter Melissa Mathison (who is finally returning to screenwriting for Spielberg’s adaptation of The BFG) changed the corse of a cinema classic, leading to the audition video I’m sure you’ve seen before. Hit the jump to watch the video now.
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Star Wars is a pretty family-friendly film series, right? WRONG. It is a bonanza of death and murder, as shown in a video that tallies every on-screen death in the original trilogy. Guess what the final number is. No, it’s probably higher. This video compiles all on-screen Star Wars deaths from the OT — animal, clone, and human — with some estimates coming for the bigger moments, such as the destruction of Alderaan.
Note: this video does not take into account childhoods murdered by the Special Editions.
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Stanley Kubrick’s vision of Stephen King’s The Shining has become so iconic, ripping it off is almost cliché. Oh, is that a guy with his head popping through a cracked door? A typewriter with the same phrase over and over? A snowy hedge maze? We get it.
That said, somehow a new commercial by IKEA is all kinds of awesome. It’s a blatant Shining homage/rip-off but maybe it’s the production value, the single take, the easter eggs throughout, or the absurdity of an IKEA Shining commercial existing at all, but you’ve gotta check it out. Read More »
It’s hard to overstate the impact of The Blair Witch Project. These days, movies like it are a dime a dozen. Online viral marketing? Pretty passé. But fifteen years ago, a found footage movie marketed primarily through the Internet was not only radical, it was revolutionary. On a budget of just $25,000, the film grossed $250 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film in the history of cinema.
For those of us who were lucky enough to be a part of it, the impact of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez‘s film is a door into our own pasts. For those who may not have been there — who didn’t experience lining up for screenings and the confusion over what was real and what wasn’t — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has created a short little documentary about how The Blair Witch Project changed movies forever.
Below, watch a video about The Blair Witch Project history and read a first hand account of what it was like on the ground floor. Read More »
When the cameras turn off, a movie isn’t even close to finished. These days, post-production is just as important, if not more so, than principal photography. Yes, capturing the images and performances are absolutely crucial to a film. But figuring out the pacing, making the story cohesive, adding emotion with music, depth with effects, are what really make a movie a movie.
David Fincher‘s Gone Girl is no different. Fincher and director of photography Jeff Cronenweth captured stunning images on the Red Epic Dragon 6K camera but when that was done, the editors, led by Kirk Baxter, took over. For Gone Girl, they used a new workflow that blurred the line between digital effects and editing in a way that’s pretty new and unique. Check out a video about the Gone Girl editing and post-production below. Read More »
The fifth season of The Walking Dead premiered on Sunday and the sixth season is already locked in. If you aren’t already watching, now is a pretty great time to start. However, what to do about catching up? Do you really have time to watch four seasons of zombie killing, family losing, throat ripping, prison breaking, human sacrificing, head cutting and so much more? If you do, that’s probably the best bet. But if you don’t, the always funny Fine Bros. have recapped the first four seasons of The Walking Dead in 9 minutes. Plus, they do it in one take. Check out the helpful and funny Walking Dead recap video below. Read More »
Things that are absent can be just as important as what is present. When talking about directors, the classic approach is to focus on the “positive space,” to appropriate a concept. What does the director do? They use handheld or dolly shots in a certain way; maybe they have a consistent approach to blocking two-shots and conversations; perhaps they consistently use close-ups to deliver information to the audience.
And then there’s the negative space. What does a director not do? What do they avoid, and why? With the release of Gone Girl, many people (including us!) are looking back at the consistent filmmaking techniques and concerns employed by David Fincher. A new video essay from “Every Frame a Painting” editor Tony Zhou focuses on the elements that are absent from Fincher’s technique. Why does he avoid close-ups and hand-held shots? What does his positioning of actors tell us about a scene? There’s a lot of information in the great David Fincher video essay, and I expect many people will view Fincher’s work a bit differently after watching. Read More »
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The films of Pixar seem as if they are primarily separate stories. (With the exception of the obvious relationship between sequels.) One theory, however, posits an elaborate timeline in which the advanced technology seen in Wall-E is developed over the course of hundreds of years, with a starting point seen in Up and the Toy Story films, and which explains the stars of Cars and the ever-evolving intelligence of animals. And Boo, the young heroine of Monsters Inc., has a surprising role in the whole cycle. Watch the Pixar Theory video below. Read More »