Well, it’s officially December, which means we’ve got some great movies coming out. Whether you’re looking forward to La La Land, Fences, or Jackie, it’s pretty obvious December consistently delivers some of the year’s best films. Most people are aware that winter months tend to offer big box offices and/or Oscar-worthy movies. But, did you know that every month of the year has unique factors that determine which movies get released at that time?
Mark and Jay Duplass are the poster children for indie filmmaking success stories. These guys are the brilliant minds behind films like Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012), Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), and the hit HBO show, Togetherness.
The two graduated from the University of Texas, each with a degree in film (Mark got his undergrad in film, Jay an MFA in film). However, neither one had a practical guide for how to turn their love of filmmaking into a full-time career. In 2003, the Duplass brothers made a $3 short film called “This Is John” that was later accepted into Sundance.
This acceptance gave them enough leverage (and confidence) to go out and make their first feature film, The Puffy Chair. The film was made on a measly $15,000 budget and was eventually grouped into an emerging voice among filmmakers known as “mumblecore.” The Puffy Chair played the indie circuit that year and landed them on the radar of Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos. Netflix, which was still in its infant years of acquiring original content, formed a relationship with up-and-coming filmmakers like the Duplass Brothers, giving them a platform to be seen and the chance to develop an audience that could support them.
The classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, opens up with the CLIP-CLOP sound of a horse running. But as a knight and his squire move into view, it quickly becomes apparent that there are no horses. Rather, it is the sound of two coconuts being knocked together that creates the illusion of there being a horse.
While this scene is just a gag, there’s definitely an element of filmmaking truth in it. When it comes to sounds in movies, not all is at it seems. In the words of Academy Award-winning sound designer Ben Burtt, “Some sounds, like footsteps, are created by recording something closely related to the reality of the noise. But that monstrous exploding battle station may require a lion roar or a diesel horn as an essential component.”
**NOTE: This article was adapted from a section in our new book, The Break In.
In real life, sane people generally try to avoid dangerous, uncomfortable situations. In storytelling, you must learn to do the opposite. Creating reasons for your hero to fail or back out of the challenges presented to him or her is vital to making the audience care about your story.
Conflict is the cornerstone of great storytelling because it demands change. Our favorite heroes in movies are the ones who encounter the most difficult circumstances and, as a result, change for the better. Whether or not we realize it in the moment, we love stories with heavy conflict because they inspire us to make heroic choices when we encounter obstacles in our own lives.
This past weekend, my roommates left town and my girlfriend was busy working. The sky was overcast (perfect light!) and I was slowly sinking into boredom. So, I dug out my Canon T2i camera and thought about what I could shoot. But I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.
Suddenly, I remembered a tip that Michael and I often times recommend young filmmakers but had forgotten to implement myself…
Yes, today is Halloween – the day you can feel festive about type two diabetes and scary movies. In honor of October 31, I thought it’d be nice to write something about scary movies. But to be honest, I’m not much of a horror film buff (feel free to recommend your favorites to me in the comments). Even though I haven’t seen that many scary movies, I am fascinated by their unique place in cinema.
Among other things, they have ultra-specific genre tropes and a passionately loyal fanbase. Funny enough, the only other genre that shares the unique qualities of horror films is probably the one you’d least expect…
Before production on our latest short film, “The Get Together”, Michael and I created our very first “video storyboard” to help us prepare for the shoot. We’d never done anything like it before, but the process of creating it was so instrumental to the success of our film that we thought we’d share some of the benefits of creating one.
If you haven’t heard, our new short film, “The Get Together,” releases tomorrow morning. Whaaaaaat?! Crazy, right? Well, before you watch it (and tell all your friends to do the same), we wanted to give you a heads up about five things…
1. Introverts will relate to it
The main emotion we tried to capture in the short is that of an introvert who feels alone at a party he can’t escape. All our main character wants is to hide away in his room until the crowd goes home for the night. But when our hero is forced to socialize, he comes to learn that he’s not the only one who feels out of place. If you are someone (or knows someone) who hates going out, we think the film will strike a chord with you.
Ever watch a classic film and think, “This is how a movie should look. Nice framing, perfect lighting, this feels… right.” And then do you ever watch a soap opera and think, “Yeah, this just feels kind of off, but I can deal with it.” And then more recently did you happen to see a newer movie on your TV and think, “Yeah, this feels really, really weird.”
I don’t like scary movies. I love scary movies. I love the ridiculous situations in them, the larger than life villains, and the heart pumping moments where I’m on the edge of my seat covering my eyes. And I totally get why that’s weird. It’s weird to want to be scared. But the adrenaline rush is part of the reason why the horror genre has such a wide range of sub-categories. There are just so many ways to be scared.