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You can shoot a film by each scene, with different lenses and different angles, and put it together in the cutting room. Or you do what I do, which is to only shoot exactly what I’m going to use. That keeps up the concentration of the actors. If you’re shooting all sorts of angles, they think ‘Well, this shot probably won’t be in the film.’ Whereas I say, ‘Everything we shoot is going to be in the film, so you better be ready, and be ready on the first take.’ Kurosawa solved the problem by having a camera operator whose job it was to shoot long lens on every scene, but he didn’t look at it or print it until he was in the cutting room if he got into trouble. We once entertained Kurosawa in London, a group of English directors, and David Lean was there. I said to Kurosawa, ‘I’ve heard that most days, you only do one setup. Is that true?’ So he had it translated. And then the answer came back, and he said, ‘How many setups does Mr. Lean do?’ And David said, ‘No, he asked you first!’ [Laughs.] It was so wonderful seeing these two sit face to face like that.
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Director Lance Edmands attended the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs with his first feature Bluebird in 2010.  Bluebird opened in select theatres on February 27 and stars Amy Morton, John Slattery, and Louisa Krause.  

John Slattery and Louisa Krause are both Sundance alum.  Slattery attended the 1996 Directors Lab as a Resource Actor and recently premiered his feature directorial debut with God’s Pocket during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  Krause attended the 2009 Festival with Emily Abt’s Toe to Toe, the 2011 Festival with Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, and also served as a Resource Actor during the 2010 Directors Lab and 2014 Theatre Lab.

Bluebird expands to select cities on March 6 and is available now via instant download and VOD.

Photos by Fred Hayes and George Pimentel / WireImage

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As far as films about legal battles and court clashes go, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder ranks among the very best. Adapted by Wendell Mayes from the highly successful novel written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker, this 1959 top-notch courtroom drama is a representational portrayal of the judicial system, ceaselessly engaging and possessing the realistic sting of an accomplished documentary. Never have we seen a film so deeply inclined to shed light on what exactly goes on in and around the courtroom. Perhaps the best film in Preminger’s rich portfolio, Anatomy of a Murder is expertly written, with central characters never sliding into the despised swamp of clichéd stereotyping and a story arc that easily keeps the viewer interested. Tense and absorbing, relentlessly fast-paced and intellectually rewarding, the film is brought to life by magnificent performances from its lead actors, as Jimmy Stewart, graced by the presence of a very competent supporting cast, proves his undeniable skills are hardly restricted to his trademark roles of the American everyman. It’s difficult to discuss the meaning of the film without mentioning Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s legendary score, as well as Sam Leavitt ruminative photography, both of which generously provide assistance in creating the somber mood. Thoughtfully developed, successfully evading the traps of theatricality or cheap solutions, refreshing in its praiseworthy and somewhat daring openness to discuss the subject of sex, Anatomy of a Murder is a painstakingly serious drama that demands concentration and patience, but rewards unselfishly, and by the final credits you start to realize that what you have just seen is probably the most masterfully made trial film of all time.

Still photographers: Gjon Mili & Al St. Hilaire.

Anatomy of a Murder is Preminger at his finest

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Found this really great interview of Josephine Decker on Youtube. I’ve discovered that some filmmakers tend to disappoint once they start talking about their work. Either they’re just not that articulate or they’re really not as insightful as their films might suggest. Thankfully, Josephine Decker is not that. Hearing her talk just made me admire her even more. Her thoughts and how she articulates them are so beautiful and so inspiring. My favorite part of this interview is when she was asked about her advice to young filmmakers, and this is what she said:

Don’t wait ‘til you have money. Don’t wait. Really don’t. Because like, ideas are fleeting and passion is fleeting. (…) Constraint is a huge gift, I think, in film, and that if you can figure out how to make that apocalyptic movie for a tiny budget… that’s magic! And people are dying to see that! (…) And when you make movies for nothing, nobody is looking over your shoulder, and you get to find your voice. You get to be you, and not feel the constraint of fitting in into a paradigm.

I love that part where she says that constraint is a huge gift in film. Like, what a great way to put it! It reminds me of what John Cassavetes once said about how having money kills you from being creative, and from inventing.  

She also talked about how acting in Joe Swanberg’s films and working with him was inspiring to her. And, if you’ve been following my blog, you’d know I’m not really a fan of Joe Swanberg but, I guess I realize now that no matter what, I have to give the guy some credit. Reminds me of another John Cassavetes quote (I seem to have one for every occasion!), “Good or bad, at least they know that it can be done.”

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