Watch as 15 Iconic Directors Fawn Over Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

As if you needed more proof that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of the greatest, most influential films in history…

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made. Despite countless articles, academic papers, books, and documentaries attempting to unfurl the many mysteries behind its creative design and storytelling, one thing we know for sure is that the epic sci-fi film has inspired the work of some of histories greatest filmmakers.

In this video by Alejandro Villarreal, we get to hear how Kubrick’s masterpiece (or one of them, at least) not only influenced and ignited the creativity of directors like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg, but also commanded the attention of film critics as well.

It’s extremely subtle. It’s extremely visual. And the story is razor thin. It was the first time people really took science fiction seriously. —George Lucas

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Women of Horror: Exploring Directors Who Are Making Their Mark on the Genre

Horror has been good to these directors. (Or is it the other way around?)

Like comedy, horror is a tricky genre to get right, because right away you’re faced with the inescapable expectation that your work must, in fact, be the very thing that makes the genre what it is. For comedy, it has to be funny, but for horror, it has to be scary. Though there are plenty of horror flicks out there that are reductive, predictable, and barely able to make you flinch, there have been some truly great films that have come out in the last several years that remind horror film fans of why we love this bloody genre so much—and an exciting number of them have been women.

In this video from Fandor, we get to explore the work of three female directors who chose to make a name for themselves in the horror genre with their transgressive, challenging, and yes, really, really scary films. Check it out below:

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Join Over 81K Filmmakers to Kick Off This Year’s Free CineSummit Director’s Event

With experts like Martín Rosete, Verena Soltitz, and the legend who created the lightsaber, Roger Christian, this is bound to be the most memorable CineSummit yet.

It’s that time of year again! Tens of thousands of filmmakers from all over the globe are gearing up to take part in the 2017 CineSummit, the world’s largest educational event for filmmakers. If you’re unaware of what CineSummit is and what it’s all about, it’s a two-day event that gives filmmakers of all levels of experience a chance to learn from some of the most exciting, sought-after directors and cinematographers working today. The best part about it, though, is that it’s 100% online and 100% free.

Here’s a promo to get you started:

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6 Producing Skills That Saved Directors

Producing is the toughest job in the film industry, alongside directing and producing and all the others. No, filmmaking is not easy. Directors tend to get all the credit for the artistic integrity of the project. Actors will get all the attention. And producers? They’re easy to overlook, even though they are the ones who give the final speech of the night at the Academy Awards. A producer who knows their job will make all the difference on a project. The director may be steering the wheel and pointing to the horizon, guess who’s in the engines room? The producer, and the most successful ones know when a director needs them.

Betting on first-time directors

A director who is not established and is looking for a producer will have a hard time convincing anyone to take a gamble on them. That’s especially true in the studio system. In the world of independent film, you’ll need to prove yourself. The industry is, after all, terribly risk-adverse.

Before she became one of the most successful indie producers in the business, Christine Vachon was just someone who was willing to take a gamble. She and her business partner at Killer Films, Pamela Koffler, made a name for themselves when they decided to gamble on first-time directors such as Todd Haynes. In her own words: “I believe in first-time directors. They have a story in them that they have desperately wanted to tell for years.” Could it be that this is the only résumé a first-time director needs?

Running a tight ship

Producing an independent film is an arduous task. When you don’t have the marketing horsepower of Disney or any other international studio, breaking even is the best you can hope for. A master at running a tight ship and bringing it home is the emperor and godfather of American independent film: Roger Corman.

He established a solid business model in which he would make the most of whatever resources he was given and optimised anything he could muster. This way, Corman managed to produce tens and tens of films for very small budgets. He churned them out at an industrial pace and, in the process, gave their first break to the likes of Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese.

Finding your audience

Producing means carrying out the project from beginning to end. That may make sense theoretically, that means finding funding as well as finding your audience. It’s generally a safe bet to think that the funds and the audience are in the same place. (Crowdfunding is just that: finding your audience, and engaging with them throughout the entire production process, not just in the end.) Rebecca O’Brien, Ken Loach’s longtime producer, figures this out a long time ago. The director believes that a big budget would compromise the aesthetic of the working class he is depicting, as he expressed when he picked up the Raindance Auteur Award.

Yet the small budgets still need to be found. It turns out that the French have long had a thing for socially-minded films in general. They have managed to overcome their natural aversion for the Brits and taken a liking to Ken Loach’s independent work. Therefore finding financiers there is a logical starting point and has proven to be successful.

Not relenting to outside pressure

Today, it seems inconceivable that Back to the Future films should bear any other name. However, the head of Universal was really worried. While Steven Spielberg, who produced the franchise that his protege Robert Zemeckis co-wrote and directed, enjoyed a good personal relationship with the head of Universal, Sid Sheinberg, the latter was worried about the title. So much so that he once sent a memo to Spielberg and Zemeckis suggesting that they change the title to Spaceman from Pluto, as a reference to the nuclear protection Marty wears.

Zemeckis was worried as he didn’t think the new title did as good a job at conveying the genre (or blend of multiple genres) the film belonged to. Spielberg decided to handle it himself and advised the director not to worry. In a gutsy move, the legendary filmmaker replied to the memo as though it had been a joke, saying “thank you for the humorous note, keep them coming”. Sheinberg was so embarrassed he never brought up a change of title ever again and Zemeckis achieved his vision. That move was equal parts sheer nerve and an outlandish level of confidence — something we should all aspire to.

Thinking outside the box

What makes the difference in a production is not always the budget. Granted, it helps. But a producer’s magic touch when we go beyond budget. The joy of filmmaking is that, whether you’re an independent producer on a £5,000 budget or a veteran on a studio budget, your will face constraints and have problems to solve. Being a Hollywood producer with incredible projects under his belt, Brian Grazer surely knows this all too well.

When producing Ron Howard’s How the Grinch stole Christmas, one of the challenges beyond managing a film that spread to eleven sets, was helping lead actor Jim Carrey. He was wearing extremely heavy makeup which impeded his work and which he compared to torture. Normally, the producer-director team would have had a sit down with their lead (and his agent) and talked him through it. But Carrey was beyond this, so it was time to go further. Being the Hollywood veteran with connection that he is, he simply called up the CIA, who sent his way someone who was a specialist of surviving torture. Even big fans of thinking outside the box could say that this was going too far, but it certainly did the job and Jim Carrey powered through till the end of production.

Producing is about people

Producing is about using the rational part of the brain that the director doesn’t use first and foremost. Therefore the best productions should be about a symbiotic relationship between a director and their producer. Raindance alumni Edgar Wright has been consistently working with Nira Park at Big Talk. That collaboration has recently culminated in the hit Baby Driver.

When asked what her job is about, Park doesn’t reply that it’s about logistics or budgetting first. It’s about variety of material, developing projects but mostly attention to people. She was known on the set of Shaun of the Dead as “the producer who knows the name of all of the 1111 zombies”. Perhaps it is hyperbolic, but being on a set where everyone feels valued by the captain is certainly a substantial addition to resources that no budget can buy.

What are you going to do about it?

There are a lot of skills a producer needs to develop. Why not consider these two Raindance producing classes:
Producers’ Foundation Certificate – five Tuesday nights with a collection of industry professionals delivering top-notch information.
Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking weekend masterclass with Elliot Grove

Both classes are available Live!Online! if you are unable to make our Central London venue.
Call us on 0207 930 3412 or email


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10 Expenses Most First Time Film Directors Forget

We meet many first time film directors here at Raindance Film Festival HQ.

Directing your first movie is always a fantastically challenging experience. The process of getting your first movie onto the big screen can end in tears if you fall foul of the producer or the budget and schedule.

A budget is a simple list of all the stuff and people you need and the amount of money required to pay for it. A schedule is a list of the dates and times you need the stuff. Both are incredibly tedious to produce, but without a budget and schedule, it’s very difficult to make your film.

Even with a no-budget film, you will still need a list of the stuff and people you need, and a schedule of when and where you need everything to show up.

Messing up the budget really impacts on the film.

Here is a handy list of items that cost money, and can easily spiral out of control if you aren’t careful. Most of these pitfalls are from lack of forward planning.

1. The Development Budget

When a film gets into production, the story rights need to be acquired and paid for. At this point, the producer controlling the script rights totals up all the money spent to date and presents an invoice so the production team can recoup the money they have paid, plus a profit.

Expenses include travel, accommodation and entertainment at places like Cannes Film Festival, location scouting, casting agents fees and that weird one: “Office Overhead.” Plus of course option fees paid the writer to date, insurance, banking and legal fees.

This can easily get out of hand, and when the final production budget is in the bank minus the development costs, directors can have a nasty surprise. Directors may have no alternative other than cutting pages out of the script.

I know two different writer/directors who found that over 10% of their production budget was gobbled up by extras added to the development budget.

Make sure you keep on top of the development budget.

2. The DoP

Choosing the right Director of Photography (or not) will really impact on your budget.

Some DoPs will literally take over the directing for you, blocking out the scenes in the rush to get the shots completed before wrap. This can lead to a war between the DoP and the director. Such conflict can ruin the morale on the set and make the shoot next to unbearable. But at least the film will get shot in this scenario.

Other DoPs are so eager to please they fall over backwards at each of the director’s whims without the benefit of courteous but professional criticism. The resulting shoot meanders and can quickly fall day after expensive day behind schedule. (see #10 below)

3. Location Location Location

Every time you move from one location to the next the cost rockets. Hence the typically low-to-no budget shoots in a single location movie like Paranormal Activity. If you desperately need a second location look out for the two-for-one, i.e. the front of a house can pose as one location and the rear garden as a completely different one.

4. Casting Agent

There are two factors here:
Firstly a skilled casting agent can save you a fortune, which is good.
Secondly too often directors fantasise about cast until it’s too late, and then hire a casting agent to get them out of jail to no avail. Money is flushed down the drain.

5. Let’s Fix It In Post

Every time I hear a director say, “We’ll fix that shot in post,” I cringe. I’ve worked on 68 features and over 700 commercials. Every time the director made that choice on a set, heads would roll a few days into post-production where the budget would start to rocket.

A director who thinks some sort of post-production miracle can save sloppy location shooting is lazy and ultimately a very expensive director.

6. Music

Including uncleared music in a movie is probably the single most costly mistake a filmmaker can make. Over the past 20 years I have had so many bad experiences with festival films that had to be pulled last minute becasue the filmmaker lied about whether the music was cleared or not.  We even had one case where sales agents were nosing around a movie because it had an expensive song like “The Girl from Ipanema” in it (uncleared). Needless to say that movie didn’t sell.

7. Catering

This is such a no-brainer you probably are wondering why it’s even on this list. Problem is, no one ever considers the cost of the chilli and beans Aunt Emma is going to cook, nor the cost of cutlery and plates. Before long you have blown a good chunk of your budget, and have to decide whether or not your entire cast and crew can service the next 3 weeks on nothing but white rice, or cut a special shot to save the catering budget.

I once spent 2 1/2 weeks on white rice and I can tell you – it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

8. Insurance

If I had a buck for every time we get late afternoon panic calls form filmmakers desperate for a magic insurance telephone number I’d retire to the south of France.

No one ever thinks about insurance in time to budget for it properly. And you almost always need it at some point in the process.

9 Transport

I am sure your producer has allocated for car and van rental with the necessary fuel charges, taxes and tolls. But what of the petrol or taxi charges added to invoices of cast and crew? I had such a situation last week where I agreed to the fee but when the invoice arrived it included a whopper taxi bill. When queried, I was asked how else the equipment was going to get there.

10 Shooting Ratio

In the good old days of celluloid was all about the shooting ratio. Becasue film stock and processing was so expensive, prducers, directors and DoPs kept an eagle eye on the ratio between cosumed footage and the final film. Most indie films were shot on a ration between 5:1 and 10:1. Ie: 5:1 ratio means that 5 minutes worth of film stock was used to cover each minute of screen time.

In the digital age, image capture and storage is so cheap that some directors shoot over and over – as much as 100:1. Can you imagine the challenges of editing 100 hours of footage into a completed one hour film?

High shooting ratios aren’t clever, necessarily. But they sure are expensive.

Fade Out

Are you having trouble shooting on a budget? Would you like to learn how to get your script onto screen with a limited budget?

Why not come to the Lo To No Budget Filmmaking weekend class. I will show you how to take your screenplay and put value for money onto the screen with dozens of low-budget shooting tips. On the second day I will show you how to raise the cash, and how to use free PR to turn your movie into this year’s cult classic.

What are you waiting for? Lo To No Budget Filmmaking

Hope this helps,

The post 10 Expenses Most First Time Film Directors Forget appeared first on Raindance.


Script Analysis for Directors – Five Top Tips

As a film director, we may be very technically adept, have a great visual style or be skilled at soliciting a strong performance from our actors; we should aim to be all three.  However, no matter where our key strengths lie, we need one thing first to be able to shine in those areas. We need to know our story inside and out.

A great screenplay functions on many levels and is far more than just a ‘blueprint’ for the film. The more we work with it and its creator, the more we will be able to know we are not only getting what we want but what an audience needs. Engagement.

In addition, our preparation time is not just about making decisions, its also about exploring possibilities. We will be working with other collaborators who will also have ideas of how to approach the different elements if the screenplay. It is in our best interest to be prepared for change and be able to communicate our ideas based on a through back to front insight into the story of the film.

1. Read For Pleasure – First Impressions

When you either are given a script to read or sit back to read through your own opus, there is one vitally important question to answer. ‘Does this excite me?’. Everything else will hang on your response to that.

In addition, our passion for the story often dictates how much others are prepared to do to help you bring the vision to the screen.

Our first read through should be like we are reading a novel, or short story, poem or comic book. There is a tendency to begin the analysis like we might have when we were asked to analyse a book or poem in high school or university or worse treat it like a manual or instruction book.

The harder it is for you to enjoy reading the script the harder it will be for your cast and crew to help you and ultimately for your audience to enjoy the results.

So have fun, the feeling you have by the end of that first read will often be the feeling you are left with when you watch the movie made from it.

 2. More Detective Less Engineer.

To direct a screenplay well we have to really know the screenplay. Although we can view the script as a ‘blueprint’, my experience has shown me that there are many more layers and hidden treasures beneath the surface. The screenplay is not a precise plan for the film but a map showing the journey of the story and, as such, can offer optional routes to take on that journey.

As we progress through our early reads of the script, it helps to put on a deerstalker hat and look at it the way the great fictional detectives might as a puzzle and loaded with clues for its solution.

Our initial intuitions and images that pop into our head are valuable and should be recorded for later reference but we can dig much deeper. We should be looking first for possibilities of approach to the visual storytelling, performances, production design and use of sound etc.

Having a list of possibilities allows us to test them, then narrow it down to the best options. If we start with one choice only then we have, at best, made an assumption and not really made a decision at all. That to me seems a lot like gambling on a horse because it is a nice colour or you like it’s name.

 3.  Question Everything!

Also like a detective we should come away from each read not just with possible solutions but also with questions.

These questions we will use on our chief suspect. The writer. Often much is left off the page, by necessity or mistake and by questioning the source of the story we gain greater insight into the film it can become.

These questions also bring to light any weaknesses, glossed over motivations and overly repeated ideas that may exist, and allow a more focused development process to take place if needed. And it’s usually always needed.

As a writer/director this list of questions becomes invaluable when preparing to share our baby with others. We will have so much foreknowledge and acceptance of the world of the story and the motivations of out characters that we take it for granted is obvious on the script and to others understanding.

Be prepared to give clarity on any potential confusion by questioning the script as if someone else has written it.

As we progress, using questions with our other collaborators, especially actors, is often the easiest and most dynamic way to bring them around to our understanding of the story of the film.

4. Insight over Knowledge

A vital by product of both the passion to tell this story and the amount of digging deeper we do is that we move from a basic template knowledge of the ‘type’ of genre and style we are dealing with and get to see the unique qualities of the specific story we are telling. We start to experience the story. The world of the story becomes familiar and the characters move from being ‘plot vessels’ into dynamic layered individuals with their own codes of behavior.

By testing the possibilities and asking questions we gain something far more valuable, a deep grounded understanding of how the story should unfold, why the characters behave the way they do and how we might be able to engage our audience.

To ‘entertain’ is to hold our audience inside the world of the story, the more we can apply insight the better chance we have of preventing them from popping out for popcorn or checking their Facebook page and updating it with how bored they are whilst our film is running.

5. Listen to others.

As our other collaborators come on board, they will also have read the screenplay and have both ideas and questions for us as the director. I find it best to wherever possible let them speak first and share those ideas. I actively promote that by asking them to tell me the story, rather than start with how they might go about their roles in the process.

Listening with full attention and an open mind sets you in good stead to be both fully aware of the challenges you might face and also allows others to see that you value the contributions. We will need to do this from the beginning right through to the last moment in post- production in our edit, grade and mix.

Always allow yourself time to evaluate the options that arise. Put them to the test. The best way to handle a strong choice made by a fellow collaborator that seems to fly against your vision is to say “show me”. You then have the ability to see why and it will or will not work and direct accordingly.

These are just some of the key areas we will explore and expand upon in the upcoming Script Analysis For Directors course, the aim of which will be to give a practical and dynamic set of tools for getting the most from the screenplay, your other collaborators and yourself as the director.

It will also be of great benefit to writers and producers too.

Hope to see you there.

Happy filmmaking

The post Script Analysis for Directors – Five Top Tips appeared first on Raindance.


Seven Deadly Sins Film Directors Make

The most glamorous job in the film industry is that of a film director. Everyone wants to direct. There are seven deadly sins film directors make (even the experienced ones). Avoid these and you stand an excellent chance of launching your career.

Seven Deadly Sins Film Directors Make

1. Striving for perfection

Directors, particularly new ones, believe they have to be perfectionists. No. Films exist because of constant compromise. Compromise is key. A director’s talent is the quality of his/her compromises. Combined these compromises become your signature.

2. Burn the Budget

OK, there are two ways of looking at this.
A. Make sure you use all the money you have (and a bit more if you can).
B. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the budget determines the quality of your film. It certainly determines the production value, and therefore possibly distribution and how many people you reach, but NOT the quality.

3. Only good scripts become good films

Not true.

Dialogue is nothing more than body language, the same value as the way a character walks, or their smile, or their clothes. Plot is a vehicle with a flat tire a few days later. The only three things that make a film:
A. An interesting vision of the director.
B. Making the right shots (the camera tells the story, not the script).
C. A good story of course (which you stumble on while you shoot the film based on a bad story).

 4. Sex, Drugs and Filmmaking

There is no good way of making a film. Peckinpah was a drunk. Perhaps Spielberg sniffs coke like perfume. They’re not bad filmmakers. Some directors are miserable tyrants, misogynists, or empathetic to a fault but still profess to love their children. Talent is like cancer. It moves into a person without any prejudice.

5. Personal Films are a Must

See, I believe that’s true. But it’s a bit the same as saying: “There’ll be sunshine after the rain.” It may very well be true, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You, as a director, can only be what you are. Every filmmaker makes personal films. Every one of them. Only the audience perceives some more as personal than others mostly because the audience is pre-conditioned and brainwashed. In fifty years it may very well be different.

6. Be nice to your crew

I distrust directors who treat their crew like close family (and usually treat their close family like a crew).

Filmmaking has a selfish side and you better believe it. Be fair, be stern if needed, kind if possible, but never pretend you’re there for anything else than making your film. You’re not there to hold hands and sing kumbaya at the close of each shoot day. If you don’t fake, the crew will love you more in the end.

7. Who cares?

In the light of the universe and eternity nothing matters. But we live in the now, and to me the now matters. If you can make a film that excites people (even just a few), gives them a thought, an emotion or something that holds beauty you have achieved something valuable. You have communicated and have given value to your existence and that of others. That’s a treasure you can be proud of.

Ate de Jong presents a film directing masterclass at Raindance in London. In this weekend class De Jong will show you the tricks and traps of the trade he has learned from his own experience making two dozen films in Europe and Hollywood. Film directing masterclass details can be found here.

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Teradek’s New App Turns Your iPad into a Director’s Monitor

The monitor giant doubles down on wireless technology.

Teradek made their first announcement from NAB earlier this morning and it’s a doozy. The three new products they’ve revealed make it evident they’re trying to simplify the wireless monitoring workflow for your entire crew.

The Serv Platform

Teradek’s Serv

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