film school

Do Not Be Offended

I am currently a senior at one of the top film schools in the US. 

On the first day of my TV Comedy Writing class, my (male, white) professor looked around the room (which was 15 boys and 6 girls, including me) and said, “anyone who’s gonna get offended by racist, sexist humor, or anything else, shouldn’t take this class.”

The professor proceed to go around the room, verifying that the girls in the class would be okay and not get offended by any of the jokes made during the class.

A Man’s Job

When I was 18 I applied to film directing at the state university in my country and got rejected. Since it was my passion from a very young age my dad wanted to see if I should pursue it so he went to have a chat with the man who was leading the program, also a renowned film director. He told him I was very close to being accepted but they don’t really like taking in women because at some point:

“They’ll get pregnant and won’t devote to film. At the end of the day it’s a man’s job to direct.”

My dad was disgusted by this, and deliberately enrolled me into the private school where I finished what I love. I haven’t made a feature yet, but I made a lot of short films that have been to festivals around the world.

I enrolled in NYU film school and went there for literally two days. I walked into this class and the teacher said, ‘If anyone is here to write Terminator 2, walk out the door.’ And I thought, well, that is not a good way to start. What if I want to write Terminator 2? What if someone sitting next to me wants to write it? But he was instantly saying, ‘We write serious films here.’ But Terminator 2 is a pretty awesome movie.

-Paul Thomas Anderson on film school

quentintampontino  asked:

Must-sees for any movie buff?

The Art of Movie Stills’ Film Studies 101

From the Lumières at the start of it all; through the silent period; onto various classic films that define film language at its formative stage and the Golden Age of Hollywood; a survey of New Wave cinemas of France, Germany, Japan, the United States, and Hong Kong; various independent movements; and finally, recent developments showcasing the possibilities of film.

L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station) | The Lumière Brothers | 1895

Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory | The Lumière Brothers | 1895

A Trip to the Moon | Georges Méliès | 1902

The Great Train Robbery | Edwin S. Porter | 1903

Les Vampires | Louis Feuillade | 1915-1916

Intolerance | D.W. Griffith | 1916

Sherlock Jr. | Buster Keaton | 1924

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans | F.W. Murnau | 1927

The Passion of Joan of Arc | Carl Theodor Dreyer | 1928

The Docks of New York | Josef von Sternberg | 1928

Un Chien Andalou | Luis Buñuel | 1929

M | Fritz Lang | 1931

L’Atalante | Jean Vigo | 1934

Modern Times | Charlie Chaplin | 1936

Bringing Up Baby  | Howard Hawks | 1938

The Rules of the Game | Jean Renoir | 1939

Stagecoach | John Ford | 1939

Citizen Kane | Orson Welles | 1941

Casablanca | Michael Curtiz | 1942

Meshes of the Afternoon | Maya Deren | 1943

The Third Man | Carol Reed | 1949

Late Spring | Yasujirô Ozu | 1949

Rashomon | Akira Kurosawa | 1950

Ace in the Hole | Billy Wilder | 1951

Diary of a Country Priest | Robert Bresson | 1951

Umberto D. | Vittorio De Sica | 1952

Seven Samurai | Akira Kurosawa | 1954

Bigger Than Life | Nicholas Ray | 1956

The Seventh Seal | Ingmar Bergman | 1957

Vertigo | Alfred Hitchcock | 1958

Psycho | Alfred Hitchcock | 1960

L’Avventura | Michelangelo Antonioni | 1960

Breathless | Jean-Luc Godard | 1960

La Jetée | Chris Marker | 1962

Jules and Jim | François Truffaut | 1962

8½ | Federico Fellini | 1963

Pierrot le Fou | Jean-Luc Godard | 1965

Persona | Ingmar Bergman | 1966

Branded to Kill | Seijun Suzuki | 1967

Bonnie and Clyde | Arthur Penn | 1967

The Graduate | Mike Nichols | 1967

2001: A Space Odyssey | Stanley Kubrick | 1968

The Last Picture Show | Peter Bogdanovich | 1971

Chinatown | Roman Polanski | 1974

The Conversation | Francis Ford Coppola | 1974

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul | Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1974

The Mirror | Andrei Tarkovsky | 1975

Nashville | Robert Altman | 1975

Taxi Driver | Martin Scorsese | 1976

Opening Night | John Cassavetes | 1977

Killer of Sheep | Charles Burnett | 1977

Annie Hall | Woody Allen | 1977

Days of Heaven | Terrence Malick | 1978

The Shining | Stanley Kubrick | 1980

Blade Runner | Ridley Scott | 1982

Paris, Texas | Wim Wenders | 1984

Mystery Train | Jim Jarmusch | 1989

Close-Up | Abbas Kiarostami | 1990

The Three Colors Trilogy | Krzysztof Kieślowski | 1993-1994

Chungking Express | Wong Kar-wai | 1994

Boogie Nights | Paul Thomas Anderson | 1997

Beau Travail | Claire Denis | 1999

Werckmeister Harmonies | Béla Tarr | 2000

Mulholland Drive | David Lynch | 2001

Lost in Translation | Sofia Coppola | 2003

Caché | Michael Haneke | 2005

The Tree of Life | Terrence Malick | 2011

Holy Motors | Leos Carax | 2012

Preparing for a TV Pilot

For a few of my MFA in Screenwriting applications, I needed to come up with an original TV pilot script. Although I can’t tell you how to come up with your brilliant show idea or where to find your next inspiration, here are a few helpful hints on preparing to write.

  • Your first idea will not be your best. No matter what I am writing, I try to come up with at least 15-20 different ideas. The one I am most inspired by is usually within the last quarter.
  • TV writing is about a premise. It is about a world and its characters. Unlike a movie that has a clear problem that should be resolved, your show needs to be able to work for 3, 7, or 15 years.
  • Do your research. Read a book or two on writing for television. I particularly enjoyed Writing the TV Drama Series and Writing the Pilot (both were required for my screenwriting classes).
  • Read other pilots! There are lists online of the best/most captivating pilots. Read a bunch of them and figure out what makes them so great. Apply to your own writing.

This is probably the bare minimum. If you are pitching your script, then you want to have a lot more work done (such as a Writer’s Bible, midseason episode, etc.). However, all I need at the moment is a pilot script and this is the knowledge I’ve gained so far. Hope it is of some use :)

Mock Pitches

Top graduate film school, mock pitches in teams of two. 

A male and female student are paired and the guy bulldozes the entire pitch by himself, never deferring to his partner nor letting her speak once. This was something that this particular male student often did: talk over people, be the center of attention, dominate situations.

In response, the female professor and female guest lecturer tell the whole class how that scenario was the female student’s fault because she “abdicated power” to the man and that’s something women do sometimes. I was stunned.

If you have two children and one of your children is being a jerk and not sharing a toy he is supposed to share, do you say, “Timmy, share with your sister” or do you say “Gee Cindy, it’s your fault your brother is such an asshole”???

I’m tired of women being blamed for men’s direct failures. The guy obviously does not understand the meaning of teamwork nor when to take it down a notch. The feedback could have been a lesson for him on how to become a better team player. Instead it was demonstration of internalized misogyny for all of us.

I got asked a few weeks ago by pictosays if I had any tips for upcoming film students, now I’m nowhere near an expert but this is what I have come up with from personal experience.

Learn from the ground up 
You are in school for a reason, don’t walk in thinking you know everything because you made a film for A Level Film Studies, everyone did and people will get annoyed with you rather quickly.

Take risks
University is the time to take risks in your work, you have a safety net, use it to your advantage.

Get experience
Talk to 2nd/3rd years to get roles on set, they need some extra hands on set and you need to know how a set works in the ‘real world’.  Also use your summer/weekends wisely, get an internship or some runner jobs at a production company. Hands on experience is invaluable and a foot in the door never hurt.

Be nice to your peers
In film school more so than others you have to work in teams, it’s part of the industry and it’s a part of everyday life. Don’t make enemies you will regret. 

Theory is important
It’s one thing being able to make a film look nice but if the shot has no real relevance/meaning then it’s pretty useless. 

I use this website all the time, it has detailed tutorials on all industry standard software. There is a subscription fee but most (mine anyway?) universities offer a subscription as part of the degree. (Also Avid is the industry standard for editing Feature/Hollywood films at least get your head around the workflow) 

Be prepared to self-teach
This is true of all subjects but in film somethings you just have to figure out yourself, you have to figure out your own workflow. So instead of complaining about it just get stuck in - you never know it could be fun. 

Don’t get cocky about your specialism 
You want to be a director? Awesome, go for it but have a backup. Director isn’t the only job available and it also isn’t ‘the most important’. Film sets are nothing without all the other departments, learning how they work will do you no harm.

Watch films!
Expected really but at times you get caught up in production, make time to go to the cinema or to re-watch your favourite film, remind yourself why you do what you do. Also expand your genres, watch the classics and go to experimental film festivals because inspiration can come from the strangest places.

That’s everything I have for now, it’s also good to remember my BA is more fine art film than feature/hollywood but the principles the same - play around, find your niche and work hard.

If you have any questions just drop me a message :)