Monthly Archives: December 2016

Great Movie

The designation of “great” is highly subjective when talking about movies, but there are a few elements that almost everyone can agree are important. This Buzzle article takes you through the factors that go into making a great movie.
The movie Schindler’s List is based on the true story of a businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is a testament for the good in all of us. The movie has won seven Oscars, seven BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes.

The world of films is extremely competitive. One may have a great idea for a movie, but if it is not made in a proper way, chances are high that the movie won’t even be noticed. So, what should follow a great story idea is an equally good script and dialog. Movie stars are adored by millions. However, the movies that they are in don’t always shine as brightly as they do on the red carpet. So a strong star cast and some great acting are important factors contributing to a great movie. The location and setting of a movie and the costumes and makeup given to the characters are the other important elements of a good movie. A film that can capture and sustain people’s interest and attention can take a long time and involve a lot of planning and thought. Described below are the elements involved in the making of a masterpiece.

A Good Plot
The plot of a movie is its storyline which determines the sequence of events that lead the characters towards their objectives. When the characters are introduced to a situation, they start working to get what they want. They are put into worse situations until they finally conquer the problem.

A good plot gives momentum and a sense of priority to the story, and engages or interests the viewers. When a story has a climax and true feelings, it captures the viewers’ attention and makes them more inclined to watch the movie and connect with it. Also, stories with surprising endings always pull more audiences and have a lasting impression on their minds. It’s the movie plot that decides how the story starts, how it progresses, and where and how it ends.

The movie Gone Girl, is an example of a good plot, script, and direction. The movie tells the alarming story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a happy couple whose marriage has soured. On the day of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy disappears from the house. A suspense is created as to whether Amy is dead or just gone. What is exciting is the way the mystery unfolds. As Nick explains his side of the story to the detectives who aren’t trusting him, the missing Amy tells hers through voice-overs and flashbacks.

The movie Psycho is an example of a great plot
A Great Script
The script or screenplay encompasses writing, audio, visuals, and dialog that are required to tell the story through a film. A script undergoes revisions and rewrites before it is presented to the audiences. Even with a good plot and some talented actors, a flat script can drag a movie down. On the other hand, a great script, even if presented by less known actors may go down very well with the viewers.

A Strong Cast
The actors and actresses in a movie are extremely important for its success. The right actor or actress can take a movie from good to great and similarly, a sub-par performer can cause an otherwise good movie to tank. Casting professionals work for months, sometimes even years, to find the perfect talent for their films. Ideally, cast members should have great chemistry, be able to represent their characters with integrity, and truly bring the script to life.

Howard Hughes played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie ‘The Aviator’, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in ‘Forrest Gump’, and Meryl Streep’s award-winning performances in ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ are some examples of brilliant casting and great acting.

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump is an example of brilliant casting and great acting
Great Direction
A movie can be considered to be well-directed when it has a balance of artistry, technical skillfulness, leadership, and compassion. Often known as the captain of the ship, the director has to ensure that all the aspects of a movie are perfectly put together and presented effectively. He has to determine what the basic drive of the story should be. The script, visuals, acting, music, camerawork, editing and costumes work in unison.

To shape every aspect along the necessary path, the director must cooperate with the writer on the script creation, help the casting director select proper actors and conduct rehearsals, collaborate with the producers for making a good shooting schedule, plan the full visual of the film with those involved in designing and photography and multitask well to ensure everything is done effectively. Also, he should bond well with the actors and give them freedom to show their talents.
A great film should be able to convey meaning to the audience, who is on the same path of discovery that the director had experienced or imagined. The movie Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is widely known as one of the best-directed ones. It is about a series of unfortunate events in a family, involving soured relations and revenge when the aging head of the family decides to transfer his position to one of his subalterns. It ends with the favorable successor being chosen.

‘Schindler’s List’, directed by Steven Spielberg, ‘Casablanca’ directed by Michael Curtiz, and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, a musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen are some other movies known for their direction.

The movie Godfather is an example of excellent direction
Dialog comes into play when the characters are interacting. They can be one of the hardest things to write. They should be focused on moving the story forward, revealing the characters and communicating information.

It is important to decide how much dialog is needed, when to use it, and how long should it be in the screenplay. It is important to write it down and read it aloud to ensure that the lines do not sound halting, forced, stereotyped or over-the-top. They need to ring proper and sound natural, distinct and like a normal talk. Also, it is crucial to know the characters well so as to assess what lines will suit which character and how they will say them, whatever the situation is.
A line like “When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it.” from ‘Pursuit of Happyness’, or a line like “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” from the movie ‘Gladiator’, or “Nothing’s ever for sure, John. That’s the only sure thing I do know.” from ‘A Beautiful Mind’ are some of the most famous movie lines. They have surely contributed

to the success of these films.
The Perfect Location
Filming is an intricate process; professionals in the industry often film scenes out of order to accommodate the schedules of the actors, and to best piece the film together. But no matter how complex the filming process is, the location of a film can make or break the movie. Filming in the wrong location can make the movie seem unreal, provide the wrong tone, or even contradict the events that take place in the script. Hence, it is imperative to find the right location, environment and setting.

A film would be more believable and appropriately set the mood of the story if it is filmed in a natural environment like an apartment for a film set, a park, real-life houses and offices, a historical site, or an everyday convenience store. The audience will get visually poured over the scene details and become absorbed into the movie.

In the movie ‘Titanic’, the scenes were shot on the vessel, ‘Akademik Mstislav Keldysh’. The director Cameron, had used it as a base when filming the wreck. Scale models, computer-generated imagery and a reconstruction of the Titanic were used.
Political, economic, and social aspects are also important when choosing where to shoot. For instance, some cities give production companies tax breaks in order to attract their business, which can create hundreds of jobs in the area, depending on the size of the film’s budget. Additionally, production companies may opt to support certain cities or political figures by choosing to shoot in their area.

Costumes and Makeup
Just as the right location can impact the tone of a film, so too can the costumes and makeup that the actors and actresses wear. While you may think of the actual dialog and action of a film as being the main conductors of a story, the costumes and makeup play a key role in creating the right atmosphere.

For example, in the movie Harry Potter, Harry wears a brown corduroy jacket because it is a hard-wearing fabric. He wears it before and after the Battle of Hogwarts. Many duplicate costumes were required to be made to show the stages of the battle. So the costume team washed the costumes with stones, rubbing the fabrics with sandpaper and cutting holes into them to make them appear realistic and true to the script.
So, these were the most important elements that make a great movie. Saying that a movie is great is all a matter of opinion, and people will naturally differ on the finer points of a wonderful movie’s merits. However, the elements listed here are nearly universally accepted as factors that determine the fate of a movie.

Some Awesome Movies

The awesome movies list presented below includes the all time best movies. Most of the movies listed below have done well on the box office, won critical acclaims and most importantly, stood the test of time.

Movies are artworks that put together visuals and audio that are bound together by a script. A good script and an equally great presentation of the script onscreen leads to creation of an awesome movie. Some of the best action, comedy and animated movies are listed below.

Awesome Movies of All Time

A movie that appeals to your aesthetic sense, becomes popular among masses, and which also passes the critics’ acid-test is generally considered a good artwork. There are few such movies which fulfill expectations of the audience from a wide spectrum of the society. An attempt to list down some of the best movies of all time is made in this article.

The Godfather
‘The Godfather’, which was released in 1972, is based on a novel with the same name by Mario Puzo. The film is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and portrays the life of a fictional Italian-American crime family. This film bagged three Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Directed by James Cameron, this 1997 movie won a record 11 Academy Awards and was nominated in 14 categories. The ‘Titanic’, which stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio is based on a true story of a sinking ship, ‘R.M.S. Titanic’; the Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912 after sliding against an iceberg. The cost incurred in making the movie was over $200 million.

Forrest Gump
The Forrest Gump (based on a novel with the same name), directed by Robert Zemeckis, was released in 1994. It is a story of an autistic man from Alabama. His life takes a sudden twist after which he witnesses a series of unexpected events. He meets several historical figures during this strange phase of life. The story portrayed in the film is however, not exactly the same as presented in the book.

An epic film released in 2000, Gladiator won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Directed by Ridley Scott and featuring Russell Crowe as the protagonist, Gladiator depicts the story of a Roman General, Maximus Decimus Meridius. Maximus comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge of the murder of his wife and son. Maximus achieves his objective however, in the process loses his life.

Requiem for a Dream
Based on a 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream was released in 2000. The film was directed by Darren Aronofsky. Ellen Burstyn was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award. Requiem for a Dream is a story of a woman who suffers from different kinds of delusions that are finally broken and overtaken by reality.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Three epic films released in 2000, 2001 and 2002 are together called The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Based on a novel called The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) written by J.R.R. Tolkien, an Oxford University professor, the film depicts events that take place in a fictional world called ‘Middle-Earth’.

The Shawshank Redemption
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption was released in 1994. Tim Robbins plays the protagonist, Andy. This film depicts the life of a person who is imprisoned on false charges and spends two decades of his life in Shawshank State Prison. In the end, Andy manages to escape from prison without having to serve the full term.

The Matrix Trilogy
The Matrix Trilogy consists of ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Matrix Revolutions’. Written and directed by Wachowski brothers, the first of the 3 films was released in 1999. The last 2 films were released in 2003. Story of The Matrix is set in a time at the turn of the 21st century. Human civilization of these times lives in a virtual world dominated by sentient machines. Humans are connected to the Matrix (artificial reality) by means of cybernetic implants.

Star Wars
The first film of the Star Wars trilogy was released in 1977. The Star Wars movies depict events taking place in a fictional galaxy. The revenue generated by these films is over 4.3 billion; it makes them the 3rd highest grossing movies after ‘James Bond’ and ‘Harry Potter’ series.

Fight Club
Based on a 1996 novel (written by Chuck Palahniuk) with the same name, ‘Fight Club’ was directed by David Fincher. Edward Norton plays the protagonist – who forms the fight club. The discontentment resulting from white-collar jobs urges him to take the drastic step of forming a fight club.

This movie is set in times of the World War II. Casablanca is a story of a man torn between love and virtue. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), and American expat runs a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco. He finds his lost love after many years, after which Rick’s life takes an unexpected turn. Casablanca ranks amongst top Hollywood movies of all time.

Cast Away
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Cast Away is a story of a FedEx executive stranded on an island after crash landing. Tom Hanks played the character of the FedEx employee. The transformation that the character played by him undergoes is the highlight of this film. For this role, Tom Hanks won the Best Actor award at the 73rd Academy Awards, 58th Golden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards.

This sci-fi movie is basically a heist film directed by Christopher Nolan. Released in 2010, Inception has a large cast with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the protagonist. The idea of ‘inception’ used in this movie is about planting an idea into the subconscious of a person. Dom Cobb (character played by DiCaprio), a thief is assigned with the task of inception.

The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan. Released in 2008, this movie is a sequel to Batman Begins, the first part of the Batman Series movies. ‘The Killing Joke’ a novel from 1988 inspired Christopher Nolan to make this movie. Health Ledger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously. This movie also won the award for Best Sound Editing.

Blood Diamond
Released in 2006, Blood Diamond is a political thriller directed by Edward Zwick. Story of the film revolves around the lives of a South African, Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a Mende local, Solomon Vandy (played by Djimon Gaston Hounsou). The dangerous journey they embark on in their quest to find a pink diamond is the central theme of this movie. The movie is set in times of the Sierra Leone Civil War.

The Avatar is one of the most expensive movies with a budget of $237 million. Directed by James Cameron, Avatar was shot with the ‘Fusion 3D Camera system’ which was specially developed for shooting this film. The camera system was developed by the joint efforts of director James Cameron and Vince Pace. The movie is about a paraplegic ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is assigned a task to do reconnaissance for a company on a distant planet called Pandora. In the course of time Jake sides with the natives (Na’vis) of the planet and wages war against humans.

Mission Impossible
Directed by Brian De Palma, Mission Impossible was released in 1996. Story of the film revolves around a secret agent who has been falsely implicated in a crime. He fights his way to clear himself of the false charges. Tom Cruise plays the role of the protagonist, Ethan Hunt.

Become a Good Cinematographer

Filmmaker and cinematographer Stanley Kubrick often went to great lengths to perfect his shots. For one film, he obtained lenses originally developed for NASA, to shoot scenes lit only with candlelight.
A cinematographer, or Director of Photography (DoP), is the person who is responsible for translating the director’s vision in moving images. He has to work very closely with the director to put together the right kind of visuals that can amaze and inspire the audience at the same time. Becoming a director of photography requires skill, creativity, and great command over the various facets involved in motion photography. A cinematographer not only looks over recording images, but is also involved in other processes like production design, sound, location scouting, visual effects, etc.
Aspiring cinematographers must bear in mind the amount of hard work and dedication this field demands. One of the dilemmas faced by a fresher starting out in any field is planning. Although it would be unrealistic to have every bit and piece planned out, it is always useful to have a rough direction before setting foot onto something. The following points will be helpful in providing some insights about this job, and answer some of the questions on how to become a cinematographer.

Understanding What a Cinematographer Does
The process of filmmaking is evolving pretty fast with all the advances in the technologies and development of new visual styles. For instance, most movies are shot digitally nowadays, as opposed to film, which was the only medium of recording images since the beginning of this art. A cinematographer today has to be flexible enough to be able to shoot for television and feature films alike. The boundaries of these mediums are fading away with ‘quality story-telling’ being the focus in both.

Taking a camera and hitting the record button is probably the last thing on the mind of a cinematographer on site. A cinematographer’s language is his images. But he has to be able to communicate with the director and the technicians precisely to get the work done. The job is physically as well as mentally demanding. He has to set up rigs, design and arrange lighting schemes, compose shots so that they are aesthetically appealing, and do all of this within the constraints of a budget as well as time, without compromising the director’s vision. A cinematographer constantly has to jump sides from creativity to practicality, and create an astute process for everyone involved.
Education Needed
Getting a related education always helps in learning the technicalities and gaining hands-on experience on various equipment that go into shooting a visual. Various film schools offer different kinds of courses, varying from certificate courses to 2-year degree programs. It is advisable to have an education for someone who is not very well-versed with the technical knowledge of the equipment. Though a degree or a certificate is helpful at entry-level jobs, what really counts is the kind of work and experience the cinematographer has. So, the education that really counts would be working on more and more projects, and building a portfolio.
Discovering Your Form
A cinematographer does not only shoot big Hollywood blockbusters. While most of them like to jump between forms and genres, some might focus their work on specific areas, like documentaries, wildlife, music-videos, commercials, etc. There is a lot to be explored in each of these forms.
Starting Out
Applying for assisting jobs can be a great start. In all likelihood, you will begin with a low-profile job. But being on set is an amazing learning experience, which will give you on overall understanding of the process. The pressure of working within constraints, the technical problems faced on location, and all kinds of tricky situations will help you learn and grow.

Given the nature of the job, you have to build a network and connect with more and more people. It will not only help you get clients, but also provide a wider reach for your work. Don’t shy away from taking smaller projects. The more you work, the more you learn.
Learning to Manage Finances
Unlike a conventional job, the pay of a cinematographer is not constant. Every project has a different budget, and so the pay varies from project to project. For those who are starting out, the pay may not be great. So, it important to have good financial planning and manage expenses accordingly. The pay sure does increases with increasing experience and number of projects. Being part of a union or a guild can help finding work and making connections.
Watching Other People’s Works
There are great cinematographers doing spellbinding work in all kinds of movies. It is always helpful to follow the works of cinematographers working in different genres and areas of film-making. Documentaries, wildlife, sports, and various other areas have their own grammars of shooting, and an exposure to these can be instrumental in discovering and developing a unique style. More and more technical understanding will be helpful in dissecting a scene and recognizing the usage of various elements involved in photographing it. For example, the lighting schemes, the angles and shots, the composition, etc. Besides photography, there are other good art forms that can be learned from. For example, paintings, architectural works, and sculptures can serve as excellent sources of learning the various facets of composition and color.
Creative Curiosity and Spontaneity
Apart from handling the huge number of equipment and people, what lies at the core of being a cinematographer is his creative curiosity and spontaneity. This is probably the only tool that will help you go places, especially during hard times. What matters most is creating amazing images. Being spontaneous is sometimes the only way of putting out honest images. Do remember what the crux of all this is. Live by the values of capturing great images and composing astounding frames.
A few names who excelled in this field are Roger Deakins, Darius Khondji, John Toll, Kazuo Miyagawa, Vittorio Storaro, Gordon Willis, Christopher Doyle, Charles Rosher, besides many others.