no but, in all seriousness guys, as a film student, words cannot express how proud and how flawed I am with Taylor music video’s this era. Wildest Dreams has such an air of precision and craft about it – The cinematography, particularly, with the decisions to capture almost all the shots with lense glare form the sunsets to emphasise them, and the use of shadows and camera pans on tiny details, the way the camera shows the two lovers’ as they embrace only for us to realise it’s their reflection in the mirror… this is all really, really impressive, well-considered, beautiful, beautiful stuff, and don’t even get me started on the second cuts to lightening filled skies and weather and animals and just ugh. The effort and art to this video, to all the 1989 videos, literally singles them out as ‘short films’ rather than ‘music videos’ - because I don’t think the word ‘music video’ does justice at all for what these are… I mean, previously, only music GIANTS like Michael Jackson (80s represent) made videos that were deemed creative and crafted enough to be called ‘short films’ instead of ‘music videos’ (in fact, he refused to call them the latter), and he had some of the most impressive, and still some of the most admired, videos made in music history EVER.
So to see Taylor’s transformation in film this era, collaborating with the likes of Joseph Kahn, a filmmaker in his own right, and literally beginning to reach that same level of artistry, first with Style, in particular, then Bad Blood, but mostly I think with Wildest Dreams… Well, it just shows how far she has come….
Very few musicians are able to reach this stage, where their videos are so powerful and tell such stories, even BEYOND THE SONGS that feature in them… Nevermind reaching it with such beauty or such grace as Wildest Dreams possesses… I just… I’m a film student in awe…….. Can you tell?
The only two reactions I get when I tell people I'm a film student
Person 1:WOW! So you're gonna make movies! That's so cool! Hahaha look out Steven Spielberg! Could I be in one of your movies one day? Better prepare that Oscar speech! Can't wait to see you on the red carpet! :D
Person 2:What's your backup plan? Cause I mean maybe you should just do film as a hobby.
5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a First-Time Director
If there’s anything that’s even harder than making a movie, it’s making your first movie. All week long, we’ve been sharing words of hard-won wisdom given to us by some of the veterans of the industry, but what about the first-time filmmakers who’ve miraculously managed to mount a movie despite overwhelming odds (and underwhelming budgets)? For their perspective, we talked to John Krokidas, whose first film, Kill Your Darlings, stars Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in the true story of the murder that brought Beat icons Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs together as young men. Here, Krokidas shares the five unexpected things he learned on his directorial debut:
You’re standing in the way of your own movie. Something I didn’t know going in is that first-time directors are considered by financiers to be “deadly attachments,” meaning that even if financiers are interested in your script and your vision, you are still considered to be a strike against their desire to invest in the film. In some ways, that’s fair: They don’t know whether you can deliver the goods yet, and they might fear that you’ll have a nervous breakdown in the middle of shooting, as some first-time directors have. In order to balance out your deadly attachment, then, these financiers want you to cast movie stars. I think it’s funny that the question I get asked the most is, “How did you get so many movie stars to be in your film?” because the real answer is “Out of necessity!” That’s what it takes to get an independent period drama made these days — especially as a first-time director — and if you don’t have those stars, you’ll have to slash the budget and the number of locations.
The way that independent films are generally put together is that an investor sells off foreign territories before you even shoot the film, and just off of the actors’ names, they actually sell the movie to various distributors around the world before anyone has even seen a frame of the movie. To be honest, when we first cast Daniel Radcliffe, I thought, We’re good to go into production, he’ll help me reach my foreign sales number. Game over. And I was told, “Not so fast. Daniel Radcliffe cannot open a movie without a wand in his hand.” My response to that was, “He’s playing Allen Ginsberg, so there will definitely be some sort of wand in his hand … ”
We still weren’t sure if we were going to be financed or not until The Woman in Black, starring Dan Radcliffe, opened the same day as Chronicle, starring Dane DeHaan. Those two movies opened at No. 1 and No. 2 at the box office and overperformed, which was one of those lucky moments I needed after four years of struggling to get the movie financed. We got the money we needed after that because Daniel Radcliffe had now proven that he could open a movie outside of the Harry Potter series, which finally balanced out my deadly attachment.
Background actors can ruin your movie. This is something I discovered on day one: You can have your shot list memorized, you can know the emotional arc of the scene forwards and backwards, and you can get great performances out of your actors, but all it takes is one extra in the background to ruin all of that work. I remember there was this one moment during the shoot where Daniel Radcliffe broke down and bared his soul, and after that amazing take was over, someone whispered in my ear, “Did you see those cops behind Dan?” Sure enough, the two background actors we had cast as policemen were straight out of a Keystone Kops movie in 1924, shaking their fists and overemoting. Just when I thought I had nailed Dan’s greatest scene ever, I had to junk it because I had these two extras in the background ruining the shot!
When you cast background actors, you have no idea whether or not they can actually perform — the casting agent will e-mail you head shots for Cop No. 1 and Student No. 3, and it’s your job to cast them based only on those head shots while you’re busy doing eight other things. Usually, I’d pick the most interesting faces, but it’s like online dating: They’ll show up on set, and seven times out of ten, they won’t look anything like their pictures. I didn’t talk to the extras as much as I should have because I was more concerned with directing my lead actors, but when you hear about someone like James Cameron, who went up to every single background extra on Titanic to give them a name and a backstory and an objective … well, what first seemed like maniacal director behavior now seems completely logical, and something I’ll do on every movie going forward.
Don’t schedule your most important scenes for the end of the day. We had a very short shooting schedule, but when we were figuring out what to shoot and when, I had no idea that the last scene you shoot each day will be the most compromised, because inevitably, you’re running out of time. I wish I’d known that going in, because for some reason, almost all of the important scenes from the first twenty minutes of the movie tended to be scheduled at the end of several production days. When we got to those scenes, often we only had an hour to shoot an entire sequence, so they had to be rushed, and when we finally got into the editing room, the first twenty minutes were the toughest to put together. We had fewer pieces and less coverage than we had for the rest of the film, and our greatest struggle in postproduction was how to make that first act of setup seem as dynamic as everything else in the film.
Knowing that now, my advice to other first-time filmmakers is to always schedule “tissue scenes” for the end of the day. Those are the connective scenes in between the greater dramatic moments — an arrival, or a walk-and-talk — and often, they’re the parts that end up on the cutting-room floor. Another option is to save shorter scenes for the end of the day, or shoot scenes that aren’t as emotionally difficult for actors to perform. It’s hard for actors to get to a dark emotional place if they know that you’re wrapping in 45 minutes.
Your movie will be much longer than you think. The problem with calling your movie Kill Your Darlings is that everyone asks you, “So, which darlings did you have to kill?” I was convinced going in that I wouldn’t have to cut any of my favorite scenes, and I had even pared down my script before production to the point where I thought, A-ha, I’ve made it edit-proof … only to eventually find myself with a two-hour-and-twenty-minute director’s cut that was basically a movie and a half! And what I realized then is that I had a single-protagonist film that had become a multi-protagonist film by the third act, and if I wanted to get the movie down to a reasonable running time, I was going to have to make some hard decisions.
For me, the hardest darling to kill was cutting down Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Edie Parker, Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend, in order to excise that extra half of the movie that needed to go. She had an amazing arc and her performance was nuanced and beautiful, but that arc had to be sacrificed for the good of the movie. And the thing that sucked is that I knew I would get reviews saying that Elizabeth Olsen was underused, and I did, and it hurt. What hurt even more than that, though, was knowing that I would have to call Elizabeth to tell her that several of the scenes that we had worked on together were not, ultimately, going to make it into the theatrical cut. And God bless Elizabeth Olsen: She not only took the news like a champ, she said, “John, I’m not the kind of actor who puts her own performance above the whole film. I understand that this is part of the process.”
You will get postpartum blues. At the end of the production, you throw the wrap party, and when you look at this crazy family you’ve created over the past few months, you almost feel like you should all go and get tribal tattoos together. You’re so close that you’re basically a gang — and as the director, you’re the leader of the gang! You’re all in it together, and you’ve bonded so much, and nothing can tear you apart … and then the next day, you wake up and everyone else is gone. They’ve all moved on to their next project, and you realize that you are all alone. After you’ve spent months building this whole family with your cast and crew, they all move on and make new families. And they try not to talk about their new families too much because they know it makes you jealous, but when you call them to catch up, they kind of have to talk about them a little bit. It’s a weird feeling to go back to normal life after shooting your first film. You’ve spent years trying to make this moment happen and it finally has … and then it’s over, and everyone’s gone, and when you sign into your online checking account, you realize you have even less money than you did a year ago.
What schools have good directing, film, writing, programs
University of Southern California New York University University of California - Los Angeles American Film Institute California Institute of the Arts Columbia University Chapman University Loyola Marymount University Emerson College University of Texas - Austin Syracuse University Boston University University of North Carolina School of the Arts Northwestern University Wesleyan University Stanford University DePaul University Florida State University Columbia College Chicago Savannah College of Art and Design
I feel the need to vent about my first world film student problems. (You've been warned)
I am so drained and exhausted.
I have been in school for the past 24 months with no more than a two week break (no, we don’t get summer vacation, we get a bachelors degree in 3 years, though)
People think film school is a joke. Especially my school, because it’s more technical than, say, USC or UCLA, but let me explain.
A camera was put in our hands the second week of school. We don’t have 20 page essays to write, we have short films to write, produce, direct, edit, etc.
We don’t have weekends. Weekends are reserved for shooting.
We don’t have time to go to parties. We’re stuck in the digital labs editing or working on a script that needs to be shot in 48 hours - and on the rare occasion we DO have a party, we usually spend the night discussing upcoming projects, what shoot we have to be on the next morning at 8 am, or how much work we have for our general education classes that we’re INSANELY behind on because our focus always has to be on our film classes.
We spend INSANE amounts of money to produce decent looking projects. We’re always broke.
There have been many occasions where we’ve had to make a decision between getting good grades in a general education class or being on the set of a project that might further our career when we graduate.
We can’t focus on one or two projects at a time, because we usually have at least five classes. This semester I had four classes that required some form of a production. I produced two music videos for actual clients, produced, directed, filmed, and edited a short documentary on cystic fibrosis, wrote a feature screenplay in 15 weeks and did four photo shoots for a production design class that had to be funded completely by me (thank god for goodwill). On top of these major projects, I’ve been creating a business plan for my business class, which I’ll admit, has been put to the wayside.
I don’t expect anyone to sit there and read this entire long-ass text post. But if you did, congratulations, you’ve made it to the end.
I absolutely love the opportunities this school has given me, and I LOVE the world of film and television - I understand that being tired is a part of it, but I feel so creatively and emotionally drained at the moment that I just want to cry.
This probably makes no sense. Anyway, enjoy scrolling your dashboard.
Art gives our lives context. It helps us understand the culture that makes us who we are. And, if you are lucky, one day you may be able to shape the culture that influenced you. If you claim to be an artist, but you’re motivated by money… You’re a douche.
The Internet is F**king Awesome Most people reading this probably don’t remember the world before the Internet – I’m 28 and I know I barely do. It can be a powerful tool if you’re using it for something other than composing cat memes. It’s an emerging storytelling platform and young filmmakers have an unprecedented opportunity to not only create cool shit, but to shape the narrative and language of the Internet, in the same way that Alfred Hitchcock did for the psychological thriller, or Steven Spielberg and George Lucas did for the blockbuster. Previous generations could only dream of the entrepreneurial opportunity we have, both in terms of building a business and “getting your name out there”.
Upset that the studio bastardized your favorite character? Make a fan film. Have a crazy idea that no network or studio will make? Do a Kickstarter campaign to finance a web series. Made an awesome short film? Throw it on YouTube and it may go viral. The best part: you can do this as a student, you can do it as a parent, you can do it from some jails – the Internet is utterly democratic. For the first time in history, we aren’t beholden to hackneyed middlemen looking for a cut – or worse, creative control.
If You Want to be a Storyteller You Need to Have a Point of View And that point of view had better be unique. Surrounding yourself with people just like you is a sure fire way of becoming a prototypical, dull, cog of a human being, who belongs in a 9-to-5 cubicle, drinks diet soda, and whose deepest emotion on a daily basis is determined by the outcome of an entirely inconsequential sports game. Diversity of experience is the only way to hone in on what your own unique point of view – also known as your “voice” – actually is, and expanding your social circle is a great place to start.
The Future Lies in Collectives, So Assemble Yours Now! Hollywood is undergoing a massive decentralization right now, caused by the ongoing collapse of the studio system and the rampant greed of the 90’s. That’s a good thing! It means that collectives of people who can consistently and autonomously deliver a product will have an advantage. By collectives, I mean teams of creative people who constantly work together. Top filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Chris Nolan, and even niche acts like the Jackass guys, already operate like this. So waste no time! Surround yourself with smart people and develop your collective now, even if you’re still learning. These are your band of brothers. They will help you sift through all the crap Hollywood throws at you, and more importantly give you the kind of creative autonomy that today’s non-celebrity filmmakers can only dream of.
Do What You Love. Period. Friends, parents, educational institutions, and marketing companies all seem to really enjoy telling people what they should want out of life. Fuck them. Figure out what you want and do that. Don’t sacrifice your integrity early on for a paycheck. It’s your life, and you are beholden to no one. Living your life according to what’s cool at the moment is the ultimate form of servitude.
Hint: If treading water doesn’t feel like drowning, you’re not doing what you love.
Don’t Be Discouraged by People Who Don’t Believe A fatal flaw in the human condition is that even if there is a great likelihood that something is true, we don’t want to believe it. A potentially fatal flaw for many creative people is to be brought down by the doubts of others. People without vision will likely never believe that things can change. But once it happens, no matter how great the tectonic shift, they are quick to accept this new reality as the one true reality. Anyone who has ever set out to do something even slightly outside the norm has been mocked, questioned, and ridiculed. Realize that people’s doubts aren’t a reflection on you, your abilities, or your ultimate outcome. They are just upset at their own lack of imagination and inability to step out of their comfort zone, and you become a walking reminder of those insecurities. Ignore the haters.
Don’t Spend Your Twenties in Nightclubs “Pulling ass,” knowing the door guy, and high-fiving club promoters isn’t cool, and doesn’t translate into real-world social currency. Trust me “bro,” the kind of “ass” you’re going to “pull” after you’ve tasted real success will make your current exploits feel like amateur hour. However, the truth is, by that time you’re going to see the stupidity of it all and crave real people and a real connection – just make sure that time actually comes. Don’t look for validation in the wrong places.
Until You Make it to “Prime Time,” Treat Everything Like Practice. That way no matter what the challenge or obstacle is, it’s part of your journey, and the experience will leave you better prepared for the big leagues. And even once you’ve “made it,” you’re probably better off still not taking things too seriously.
It’s Later Than You Think Remember how long an hour felt when you were 10 years old? Yes, time is going faster. Every day that passes is a smaller percentage of your total life, and it creates the sensation that time is going faster and faster. The next five years of your life are going to go by exponentially faster than the last five, eventually snowballing until you look up and realize you’re 50. Don’t wait to get started.
Tips to Elongate Life: 1. Have new experiences. Remember how long the first day of a new job or school lasted? 2. Keep a journal. It gives you perspective so you can know thy self. 3. Hang out in a heroin den (jk).
Niche Markets are the Future In the 1990’s, domestic box office returns for Hollywood films accounted for 90% of those films’ total revenue. Today, America as a territory only accounts for about 20% of a film’s financing plan. Furthermore, Hollywood is no longer the intrinsically American institution it once was; think of it as the major leagues for filmmaking. The world comes together to make a global product, but due to massive social divergence across the globe, appealing to the masses with a broad general product isn’t viable, and it’s creatively stifling. In a world with myriad consolidated media options, niche audiences provide a level of consistency and loyalty that simply no longer exists in the mass market. Paul Thomas Anderson, Judd Apatow, Joss Whedon, Spike Jonze, Kevin Smith, Woody Allen were all niche players who grew their audience over time. Build a niche audience and people will take notice.
Disrespect Authority Every great filmmaker I know has an anti-authoritarian streak in them. Kevin Smith had the audacity to direct his first feature, a stream-of-consciousness, mumble-core (a decade before that was a word) stoner film, at the age of 24, for the cost of a new Ford Focus. Roy Lee had the audacity to collect script data and create the first tracking board; effectively changing the way information in Hollywood is consolidated. Jason Blum had the audacity to believe he could deliver the studios tent-pole-quality features on direct-to-video budgets with A-list filmmakers; now he’s one of the most profitable producers in Hollywood. School teaches you to blindly follow authority and to analyze the world as it is today, and that may be the right path for most people… But for all others, it’s simply unacceptable.
Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint The American educational system does us a disservice by setting us up for emotional failure. Here’s the ugly truth that I’ve come to discover: ultimately, no one ever really feels successful (especially if you’re highly ambitious), or like a mature adult, or that they’ve found the point of life. There is no winning and losing, because the game never ends – the timer just keeps ticking up. It’s the journey that matters, and everyone’s journey is unique in its own way.
Don’t Underestimate Anyone This applies to all areas of life, but like everything else, the outcomes and stakes are exaggerated in Hollywood. In the short time I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen assistants become award-wining writers. I’ve seen guys with bit parts in Sundance movies headline studio tent-poles. I’ve seen producers go from huge studio deals, to working out of their houses, and back to being among the most powerful in the business. The movie industry is driven by output and it doesn’t operate by the ageist hierarchy of the normal world. Your intern today could be your boss tomorrow. So, no matter how cool your agent tells you that you are, no matter how many clubs let you in the VIP section, no matter how many magazines let you write egregiously sweeping articles – Don’t be a dick.
Here are some stills from the film I’ve been working on. I worked on every aspect of it but I’m only really confident when it comes to cinematography, so I’m not sure I’ll ever publish the full film. I like these stills though.
It was meant to be a whimsical comedy but I made it look like a drama about ennui. I have a knack for that.
Happy Birthday to one of my greatest inspirations, Mr. Tim Burton.
I grew up watching his films and became mesmerized with the worlds he created. I can honestly say that he was a heavy influence on on me to become a filmmaker. And as I begin the proccess of making my senior thesis film, I glow whenever someone tells me that they see heavy influence from him in my style- a comliment I am honored to recieve.