Making Music

Pt.1 Style counseling. Long before movies had sound, they had music. Not the 10,000 piece orchestra of Hans Zimmer*—instead, a single pianist on a cheap upright piano, or later a cinema organ, improvising to the picture as it played. Nonetheless, from near the beginning, moving images relied on music as a trusty guide, steering the […]

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Executive Stress

When Money People Monkey with your Cut ☛ In the Oscars this year Harrison Ford unpocketed a set of notes that had been given by the Executive Producers on his 1982 film Blade Runner. His intention was clearly to ridicule the wrong-headedness of Hollywood executives and the way they blunder into the editing process; these […]

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Emotional Distancing

When to hold back ☛ One of the basic tenets of the industry that has grown up to help screenwriters with their scripts is: make your story as emotional engaging as possible. It’s not bad advice: well-written, emotionally impactful scenes cost the same to shoot as averagely written ones; but they can make the difference […]

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Meditations on Monochrome

Should we be defaulting to colour? ☛ During the first film on which I worked, I got chatting to an old-timer in the camera department who bemoaned the lack of black-and-white films being shot. “You’ve got to have a reason to shoot in colour,” he argued. I should add that this was in the ’90s […]

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Directorial Style

Why directors make their mark ☛ One thing that distinguishes many successful directors is their tendency to leave their own personal stamp on a film. From Woody Allen to Ken Loach, Spike Lee to Tarantino, directors whose names we know often give their films such a distinctive feel that, were we to be dropped into […]

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When is a Movie not a Movie?

The Spielberg Supremacy ☛ Last week Steven Spielberg called for a tightening of the rules of the American Academy, which awards the Oscars, to prevent films like Roma, which is backed by Netflix, being eligible in future. Now BAFTA is also feeling the pressure, with two cinema chains – VUE and Cineworld – protesting over the eligibility […]

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“One for Lloyds”?

How many takes to shoot ☛ “One for Lloyds…” is a phrase often heard on movie sets in the UK. It means shooting a second take, even if take one was perfect; y’know, just in case. Lloyds is the centre of the British insurance market – I believe their policies once demanded that a minimum of […]

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