How to Make a Long Movie Shot

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, find out how long shots that appear to resemble single takes, such as the entirety of 1917, are created with seamless visual effects, camera movements, and editing tricks. Plus, watch the Director’s Guild of America‘s feature film symposium with the nominees of the 2020 DGA Awards, and listen to original All That cast members answer some burning questions. Read More »

2020 BAFTAs Winners

Our friends across the pond have handed out their equivalent of the Academy Awards with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, or the BAFTAs. Since these are British-centric awards, more love is typically given to movies made by U.K. filmmakers, so it should come as no surprise that 1917 and director Sam Mendes walked away with Best Film and Best Director, as well as Outstanding British film, and a handful of other awards too. Get the full list of 2020 BAFTA winners below.

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1917 - Sam Mendes

Continuing the march towards the Academy Awards, director Sam Mendes won another key award for his work on the war drama 1917, making it likely that he’ll end up with a little golden man when the Oscars winners are unveiled next month. The Director’s Guild of America announced the winners of their annual awards, and Mendes took home the top prize for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. But it wasn’t the only award the 1917 earned this weekend. Read More »

Making of 1917

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, find out how the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated war drama 1917 was filmed to look like it unfolds in in a single shot. Plus, dancer Jenna Dewan, takes a look at dancing scenes from movies such as La La Land, Napoleon Dynamite, Save the Last Dance, Pulp Fiction, and more. And see how the flying sequences in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil were shot with special rigs and plenty of blue screen. Read More »

Sam Mendes and Christopher Nolan

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then there are a select few living filmmakers whose ears must burn on a regular basis. The frequency of imitation arguably heightens which directors truly are considered among the greatest, or at least the most influential, ever — not many directors would copy someone whose work isn’t up to par. One of the most remarkable cases of imitation comes courtesy of a director who, 20 years ago, burst onto the scene with a debut film that felt defiant and daring creatively. When he directed American Beauty, Sam Mendes felt like a fresh new voice in English-language cinema. Yet now, Mendes cannot help but make films that are heavily indebted to Christopher Nolan. Read More »

1917 Sam Mendes interview

1917‘s seemingly death-defying camera work from master cinematographer (and recent Oscar winner) Roger Deakins is extraordinary as it moves through varying terrains in the guise of a single take, with no place to hide lights (he’s working in natural light most of the time). The result is a powerful antiwar statement couched in a tense and emotionally gripping work, as the camera seems to hover around the action as both a ghostly observer and a character in the trenches with the film’s leads.

1917 comes courtesy of director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall, Revolutionary Road) and his co-writer (and rising talent) Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the Penny Dreadful veteran who has also co-written Edgar Wright’s next movie, the horror-thriller Last Night in Soho/Film spoke with Mendes and Wilson-Cairns in Chicago recently to discuss the intricate process of mapping out the geographic journey of the movie’s two lead actors and how that impacted every other phase of the production, the emotional immediacy of making a film appear to occur in real time, and why the project was a deeply personal one for Mendes.
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1917 interview krysty wilson-cairns

1917 is a masterful piece of craftsmanship. Sam Mendes‘ one-shot epic takes a forward-thinking approach to its depiction of World War I, which is an almost apocalyptic vision. It’s a rare vision, too, in which the camerawork and technique are noticeable yet don’t detract from the experience. To write the ambitious war movie, Mendes called Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was a writer on the Mendes-produced Penny Dreadful and recently co-wrote Edgar Wright’s next film, Last Night in Soho.

Over the last few years, Mendes and Wilson-Cairns collaborated and wrote a handful of scripts together, but for one reason or another, they never became movies. After what they’ve accomplished with 1917, we can only imagine what they could’ve done together sooner. They aimed high and didn’t miss their target on this one. Recently, Wilson-Cairns told us about the earliest ideas for 1917, influential war poetry, and the advantages of writing a one-shot movie. [Warning: this Q&A contains spoilers.]

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1917 trailer final

1917 is a war movie unlike any you’ve seen before. Sam Mendes‘ World War I saga unfolds as if it’s one very long, unbroken shot. It’s not, of course, but Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins found a way to make it work, and work considerably well. Now there’s one final 1917 trailer to set you up for what Mendes and company have in store. Watch it below.

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1917 featurette new

Ready for a deep-dive into 1917, the latest film from Sam Mendes? A new, unusually long featurette goes behind-the-scenes of the World War I epic, with Mendes talking about the origins of the movie, and cinematographer Roger Deakins delving into how he pulled off the film’s impressive “one-shot” set-up. Watch the 1917 featurette below.

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1917 review

Not since Mad Max: Fury Road has a film so fully embraced the “motion” part of motion pictures. Sam Mendes‘ jaw-dropping, nerve-jangling World War I epic 1917 is designed to look like one extremely long take from start to finish, resulting in a film that almost never sits still. The clock is ticking, and the narrative thrusts the characters forward as if a strong wind is at their backs.

One-take movies are nothing new, and 1917 ran a serious risk of being gimmicky. But Mendes, working with master cinematographer Roger Deakins, uses the single-take concept to fully enhance the narrative. Best of all, the film underscores its technical prowess with a raw, emotional story that finds beauty struggling to push through all the muck and mire. In 1917, war is hell, but it’s a hell you can find your way back from as long as you remember your humanity.

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