filmmaker specials


Special effects artists work to make the impossible possible, and enhance the illusion of reality that is a film.


Behind the Magic of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This full-length reel represents a sample of the work created for over 1750 shots by artists, scientists, and engineers around the world.


This Saturday, @theacademy will bestow Honorary Oscars upon four special filmmaking artists whose vast and vivid contributions to world cinema have truly changed the way we watch movies. Over the next four days, we’ll be celebrating these mighty icons of film.

We start with Charles Burnett, one of American cinema’s greatest independent spirits who stood at the vanguard of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. Starting with his artful neorealist masterwork Killer of Sheep (1977) and continuing onto My Brother’s Wedding (1983), To Sleep with Anger (1990), The Glass Shield (1994), and more, Burnett’s narratives have moved the truth and beauty of black life (and love) to the middle of our screens, which is where they have always, always belonged.

What are the Ingredients of a Great Movie?

In the Nokia N93 camera phone commercial from 2006, Gary Oldman, who is one of my favorite actors, shares the ingredients that go into making a great movie:

A catchy score:

A Spectacular Location:

Dramatic Lighting:

Compelling Dialogue:





Witty One-Liners:

Special Effects:

A Chase Sequence:

Clear Direction:

An Underline Message:

Something to Shoot With:

and, A Leading Man:

“The name’s Daisy! I’m 19 years old, and a bit of a mischevious girl…”


Phew…is it me, or did it just get a bit sinful flowery in here?

So yeah, here’s Daisy. I know the shoes are wrong, but her proper shoes are still not in SFM yet, and I don’t feel like waiting for them like I did with her hat. If nothing else, they both have Ink Saver (Sub) as their ability. I’m also willing to bet the age is wrong too, but I’m pretty confident that I’m at least in the ballpark.

If you ask me, at least when it comes to SFM/GMOD, an Inkling can get by with just their headgear and clothing. And now that Daisy has both of hers, there truly is nowhere left to hide for anyone who catches her interest…

Keep reading



It’s finally here.

A very late special video.

Time to sleep now…


   Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)  

Ava DuVernay and “No Permission” Filmmaking

Selma director Ava DuVernay’s “Don’t Ask for Permission” philosophy to making films is well-embodied in her creative output. One may find the inspiration needed for starting an artistic career or fueling it through DuVernay’s own story which establishes that a rebellious attitude can still lead to beautiful aesthetics and emotionally captivating stories that engage viewers to the deep realities that surround us. As a creative, she inspires us to march towards the career paths we seek, and as a filmmaker, she inspires us to push filmmaking towards that golden revelation of art: it ought to shed light on our human experiences and reveal, in its reflection of ourselves, truths. Tribeca presents an essential one-hour interview with film director Ava DuVernay by hip-hop pioneer Q-Tip, in which the director motivates us to pursue our artistic destinies because, truth be told, if you are a true artist, an artistic existence is inevitable.

On Hollywood’s Gender Bias and Not Waiting for Permission

Among the filmmaking gems Ava DuVernay offers to filmmakers and artists, a vital one is her insistence on not waiting or asking for permission in order to pursue your creative endeavors. There is nothing to ask permission for, don’t ask for permission. Half of us are waiting for permission; someone to say okay, someone to say do it, someone to say that is a good idea, someone to give you the money, someone to give you the resources. That’s all working from a permission-based way. When I just decided I’m just going to work with what I’ve got and give myself the permission, then it really started…Once I started, I never stopped, but the starting was the hard part–just beginning with what you have…That’s the biggest tip: is to start. It may not be the dream project, it may not be perfect. Begin. Whatever it is. If it’s the writing, if it’s the acting, if it’s the directing, producing, whatever it is that you wan to do, just get started. To wait for the perfect conditions in order to work as an artist entails waiting a long time only because “the right time” truly never exists. Whether factors outside of our control or internal ones that challenge our sense of self, there can always be something that convinces us to wait just a little longer. To be an artist means to make art, and so it is necessary to see “the right time” as simply being the moment you choose to take action.

Even a baby step towards your creative career is a step in the right direction. What is important is to keep on the path despite obstacles, to continue taking steps in order for your work to evolve as well as your artistic personality because once your artistic personality begins to shine a brand is projected, and, hopefully, it attracts business which in turn transforms you into a professional. Again, for this to become a reality, action must be taken and maintained and continued. As DuVernay suggests, My motto is “Stay Shooting, #StayShooting.” If I could tattoo it, I would, but my mom said no more tattoos. I’m always shooting. There’s not been, since I started shooting, any period of inactivity in general–there might be gap in films–but I’m doing TV or I’m doing a doc, or I’m doing a commercial, or I’m doing a video. Constantly shooting is what the goal is. I started as a publicist in the industry, so I was a publicist for a lot of filmmakers, and I would see the struggle, especially for black filmmakers or people of color in general, and definitely women and definitely women of color, this period of inactivity, or this moment of trying to figure out once you did it, how you do it again within the construct of the industry. And so for me, I made my first feature film when I was 38, so it’s never too late. I just started from the outside. I never started to work within the industry, within the architecture of the industry as we know it, so I didn’t come up to a lot of resistance because I found my people and I started making films in my own space, in my own way. Now eventually those start to intersect with the industry.

On Black Complexities in Music and Film

Sooner or later, the progression of yourself as an artist reveals a unique voice to the audience. Through three films–Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a SlaveSteve McQueen established a poetic handling of socially impacting film stories. The same goes for Ava DuVernay. Like McQueen and DuVernay, the great filmmakers reflect their own artistic personalities onto the screen. They pursue projects that not only challenge them but that speak to them, as if showing that they have a duty to express their inner worlds, to put on the screen the films they want to see. DuVernay explains, What my mission is in all of my work, truly, is to magnify the magnificence of Black people, which is basically a longer way to say that Black Lives Matter…If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it? If the woman filmmaker doesn’t take special care of the women characters, who does it because it’s not going to be the man? If the Black filmmaker doesn’t take special care of it, who’s going to do it? It’s not going to be the filmmaker who doesn’t know it. There are some instances where special things shine through, but, overall, I feel that it’s no one else’s responsibility to make the things that I want to see. It’s my responsibility, and if I want to see them, then I need to make them, if I’m able, and I am, so I do. As a filmmaker, it is a tremendous decision to take on a project since filmmaking is a time-consuming art form. For DuVernay, it is essential to be in a happy marriage with your vision.

The question for the artist will always be “Is it worth it?” In pursuing a career as an artist, it is necessary to distinguish between projects that are made for you and that are not made for you. DuVernay sheds light on this so well: Something about the energy with which a film is made is felt by the audience. You can tell what is made with joy, passion, with the spirit. Why is joy, passion, and filmmaking with the spirit so important? Because the filmmaker is not just directing a film but also directing the experience of making a film.

On Spike Lee and Being Pigeonholed by Hollywood Post-Selma

More filmmaking gems abound Tribeca’s presentation with Ava DuVernay. From surrounding yourself with creative energy and people, to accepting your writing process even if that means embracing procrastination, or learning how to avoid being pigeonholed as a filmmaker and taking on projects that reflect your interests and passions, DuVernay will inspire every filmmaker and artist viewing this one-hour interview. Enjoy!


Here’s the trailer for the Doctor Who Xmas Special 2014 which I operated B camera on under the brilliant guidance of A Cam operator Mark McQuoid and DOP Neville Kidd. Coming to screens on Xmas day, BBC One.

Hugh Laurie, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez and more have just been added to our special presentation at New York Comic Con

Join us tomorrow at 1 PM as we present a sneak peek at Big Hero 6 and an exclusive first look at Disney’s Tomorrowland with filmmakers and other special guests! Details:


Trick or Treat? Filmmaker @zachking Makes Both

To watch more fun — and magical — videos, follow @zachking on Instagram.

Fact: Zach King (@zachking) dressed up as a cowboy for 10 straight Halloweens when he was a kid. But the 25-year-old more than makes up for his costume slump by creating hilariously delightful short-form videos today.

“We wanted to play off of trick or treat this year,“ Zach says, referring to himself and his small production crew in Los Angeles. “My trick actually results in treats.”

Zach’s seamlessly edited stunts tend to propose fun solutions to everyday problems. Sharing them has resulted in millions of fans, and attention from celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Larry King. “People are convinced it’s real magic or sorcery,” says Zach.

“It’s always healthy, I think, when curiosity enters someone’s body again and they’re thinking or looking at something in a different way. I want to keep that childlike wonder.”

🎃 If you’re in the US, celebrate Halloween with Zach and many other members of the Instagram community by tapping on Explore (the magnifying glass) to see the best videos throughout the holiday. Any public Halloween video is eligible to be featured, but if you want to make sure we see yours, add #IGHalloween.

Self-Portrait: Film Directors on Filmmaking

The film director’s role in a project encompasses several creative activities that carry the film through development, pre-production, production, post-production, and film distribution and marketing. He or she actively oversees the artistic and technical choices throughout the filmmaking process with the aim to organize and manage each creative activity with their corresponding workforce while being mindful of the finances and budget behind the project. He or she must also be able to conduct oneself as a funnel of collaboration through which decisions are made in accordance with his or her vision for the film–a skilled director will be able to balance his or her cinematic vision with his or her collaborators. Steve McQueen and Martin Scorsese are among those skilled film directors, and Film4 brings them and other contemporary filmmakers together for a special discussion on the art of directing. Self-Portrait: Film Directors on Filmmaking offers a fascinating look into filmmaking, its process, and, very essential, what cinema is able to express through its unique language.

Martin Scorsese touches upon the magic of cinema, that is its ability to allow us to capture the essences of our fantasies through technology and creativity. Still, for others like Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson, the challenges and risks that go into the making of a film oblige the director to strive to entertain viewers and offer an experience worth their money. Rather than emphasizing money as a return, Lone Scherfig stresses more what the director can offer in return for the audience’s time: It’s always a big responsibility to direct because more than anything you take the audience’s time…So you have to be courageous and think that you have something to contribute.

As these directors speak of film as an experience worthy of the spectator’s time and money, David Cronenberg draws attention to film’s potential for greater significance. For him, filmmaking is a means of touching upon the human condition, capturing and expressing what it means to be human: I don’t tend to make movies about moviemaking, which a lot of young directors tend to do. Their movies are really just saying, “I’m excited about movies.” But to me that’s not enough or it’s not even something. Using film to explore the human condition–just the traditional thing of art–that’s still what it means to me: it’s my instrument for exploring what it means to be a human being now.

Still, a filmmaker may be unsuccessful in engaging the viewer with his or her film, whether the film is mere entertainment or an exploration of the human condition. It is this failure to connect with the spectator through a personal cinematic vision that James Cameron believes to be a filmmaker’s greatest fear: [Y]ou can make a movie exactly the way you imagine it without compromise and have it go out and fail in the market place because of some fundamental disconnect between you as an artist and the audience out there. And of course, that is what we all ultimately fear as filmmakers…We fear the fact that our kind of filter for what works for us emotionally and in terms of what excites us on the screen is different than the audience at large. And so how does the film director go about directing a successful film?

Keep it interesting, new, and fresh…avoiding the obvious, says Peter Mullan, You’re in the waters, and you see the shipwrecks all over the place, but you also see the beacons of previous travelers. You know there’s some good work, has been and will be great work out there, but you’re very aware of the shipwrecks. Those great works often engage the viewer emotionally by presenting characters whose decisions and actions fascinate and involve the spectator into the world of the film, as Joe Carnahan suggests when speaking of Die HardWhen character and action can exist simultaneously, and they can assist one another and build off one another, those are always the ones you remember.

Steve McQueen and Paul Greengrass share a similar spirit when reflecting upon the art of directing. Both directors call for freeing and opening oneself to the process, making it an exploration of how the written story can evolve into a cinematic story. Steve McQueen shares: [Y]ou open yourself up to what will come because you don’t know what is going to come. You might find a book, you might write a script, but you are not in the location. Once you’re in the location with the actors, things sort of tend to find their place somehow. It’s a lot of trust, I feel, what one has to have…you have to open yourself up rather than bring your stencil.

While also highlighting the same freedom and openness, Paul Greengrass explains the usefulness of both when directing oneself towards the demands of the cinematic story: The process of filmmaking is about capturing something that’s influx, that does not have a divinity that shaped it, whether that divinity is a deity or whether it’s the divinity of the written word–the screenplay–you got to sort of free yourself from the sense that it’s been previously created, it’s been previously ordained, and get to what really drama is about, which is collision without knowledge of the consequences. Then you’re in a realm where it’s alive and it’s in play, and if you could create those moments, you’re creating pieces of urgency, and if you could put all those pieces together, then you got a film with real drive.

Watch, learn, and absorb Self-Portrait: Film Directors on Filmmaking.

titleknown  asked:

Out of curiosity, do you think it was also the influence of aesthetic-realism-emphasizing cinematic critics like Andre Bazin and co that trickled down to create the perception of tokusatsu-style as "cheap" and "phony" like you criticised in Gojira, Mon Amour? For that matter, since I presume you know more about film history than I do, where did this fetishization of aesthetic "Realism" in western cinema & film critique come from? Because, wherever it came from, I hate it so fucking much

It’s hard to reconcile André Bazin and his theories into this argument, because while he did believe in objective realism and focus, he never wrote on the subject with regards to special effects features, focusing more on the works of more generally and widely renowned filmmakers like Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin. Having said that, the point you bring up is interesting to consider. I personally don’t know where this near-extreme call for realism with regards to special effects comes from. Let’s consider this - Bazin died in 1958 at the age of 40. Ray Harryhausen had provided the special effects for many films prior to this, and continued to for many afterwards. To this day, Harryhausen is internationally lauded as an innovative and pioneering special effects genius, regardless of how “real” his special effects work looks. So clearly Bazin and his writings had no effect on the perception of Harryhausen’s work. If we want to be absolutely objective about this, we have to be honest - Harryhausen’s stop-motion work looks no more “real” than Japanese suitmation, or modern CGI - all are very obviously “fake” (i.e. “not real”) in their own ways - but that is absolutely not to their detriment, I cannot emphasise enough. The skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts are an astoundingly impressive feat of stop motion animation but, again, to be entirely objective, when composited next to live-action performers they look no more “real” than Gromit from Wallace & Gromit. The difference in perception is trying to reconcile the fantasy of what you’re seeing on-screen with how you think it would “really” look.

I think the big misinterpretation comes from the fact that Western filmmakers and special effects artists often and very deliberately strive for “realism” in their special effects (to the extent of fetishising it, as you said), whereas this has historically not been a concern for Japanese craftsmen, who have long aimed to make something that is first and foremost entertaining.

The push for “realism” within fantasy is indeed odd.