Archive for the ‘Film School’ Category

UFVA 2008: Those Who Teach, Make

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

As you probably guessed, I’ve taken a little break from SRF. I wish I could say that it was a planned vacation, but a combination of travel, work on my own projects, the beginning of the school year and some crazy good life stuff meant the blogging got pushed aside.

One thing I did mean to write about was my experience at the University Film and Video Association Conference in August. For those of you that don’t know, UFVA is the professional association for professors of filmmaking, screenwriting, and film studies. This was my first time attending the conference, and it was a lot of fun. I had the chance to meet up with some old film school friends who, like me, are now teachers, and I met lots of new folks who encounter the same sorts of challenges to filmmaking that I do (among them, living in so-called flyover territory).

The conference features a mix of screenings and panels. Among my favorite panel presentations: Jennifer Proctor (Grand Valley State) who talked about teaching creativity; John O’Leary (Villanova), who discussed the practicalities of running a university-supported film lecture series; JJ Murphy, who discussed non-traditional screenwriting approaches (drawing on films like Ronnie Bronstein’s Frownland); and Seth Mulliken, who gave an awesome talk on film sound.

Of the screenings, probably my favorite film was Irinia Patkanian‘s Second Egyptian, a story of two immigrants in New York that has an amazing sense of poetic realism. For my part, I screened Quick Feet, Soft Hands, which was honored with the Jury Prize in Narrative Film. Needless to say, getting this award from my peers was a great honor.

Note: The title to this blog post is cribbed from a Scribe Video Center screening. I’ll discuss Scribe in a future post.

Robert Bresson – A Bibliography

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Jane Sloan, Shmuel Ben-Gad, and Frank Blaakmeer at Masters of Cinema have compiled what appears to be the most comprehensive (complete?) Robert Bresson bibliography in the world. As someone whose passion for Bresson’s work led him to trying to read Notes on Cinematography in the original French back when the English translation was out of print, well, it pleases me deeply to see the hard work that these scholars have produced.

Here’s a quote from one of the 2000+ sources listed, J. Hoberman’s “States of Grace” (Village Voice, September 27, 2005):

Do this job long enough and you learn to accept certain realities. Some people will laugh at Written on the Wind and cry over Sleepless in Seattle –instead of vice versa. There are reviewers who find Godard boring and think Lukas Moodysson is a genius. And although it is tiresome to hear two-buck chuck extolled as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, you realize that hey, this is America — everyone’s got an opinion, and if it weren’t for bad taste, many folks would have no taste at all. But I reach the edge of my tolerance in the case of Robert Bresson.

Bluntly put, to not get Bresson is to not get the idea of motion pictures — it’s to have missed that train the Lumiere brothers filmed arriving at Lyon station 110 years ago.

Documentary Film Festival for Students

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I usually don’t post film festival calls for entries — there are just far too many of them — but this is one I couldn’t pass up: The Reality Bytes Film Festival is Northern Illinois University’s student film documentary film festival. As most of you know, NIU was the site of a mass shooting on their campus a couple of weeks ago.

I received a bulk email from their PR director on Sunday. Here it is in full:


First, we want to thank everyone who has called or e-mailed with messages of support over the past few weeks. We are still coming to terms with the tragedy that occured on our campus Thursday, February 14, and it will be a long journey. However, the journey does begin with the first steps and in that spirit, the Reality Bytes Film Festival is still taking place, but with a change in the deadline and screening dates.

With that said, I am writing to you on behalf of Northern Illinois University and the Reality Bytes Student Documentary Film Festival. The festival is currently in its eighth year under the directorship of Dr. Laura Vazquez and is continuing to grow. The event prides itself on being open only to students and being affordable with only a $20 entry fee.

We have already started to receive films from schools all across the country and the outlook for this year’s festival is excellent. Our goal each year is to continue to have a venue where students can showcase their amazing documentary filmmaking talents against their peers.

The submission deadline for students is now March 8, 2008 and the documentaries must be under 30 minutes length. Any style or genre of documentary will be accepted. The application form for this year’s festival can be viewed and printed as a PDF file by visiting the Reality Bytes website at the following URL:

http://www2.comm.niu.edu/~realitybytes/index.html

The screening event will be held on April 4th and 5th and cash prizes will be awarded on April 5th. The best of festival winner will receive $200 and Avid video editing software, second place will receive $150 and third place will receive $100.

Thank you. We are looking forward to seeing all of the great student work coming out of your university.

Sincerely,

Kathy Giles
Public Relations Director for Reality Bytes
Northern Illinois University

 

 

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If you’re a student filmmaker with a documentary, send it on in. It sounds like a neat festival, it’s an affordable entry fee and, in some way, however small, by submitting your film you’ll be helping the NIU community move forward after a terrible tragedy. I imagine this edition of the festival will be pretty special.

Woo-hoo! Spring Break! Time to… Study?

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

All filmmakers are, in some way, students of filmmaking (I know I am), but this one’s for the REAL (i.e., in-school) student filmmakers out there:

Some of us are starting spring break today, while others will be enjoying spring break later this month. Assuming you’re not already using this time to make a movie this week, here are some ways to spend your time if you’re unable (or uninterested) in traveling to Cancun, Panama City, or wherever it is the kids go these days. No excuses — any of these suggestions can be done on a budget:

Read your camera’s manual! Seriously. I’ve met a lot of people that have never read their camera’s manual. You might be surprised at some of the things it’ll do. After you read it….

Take a daytrip for inspiration! Get out of your apartment and explore your area. Take your camera and shoot some location scouting shots. Already got some inspiration?

Work on that script you’ve been meaning to write! Visit your local library, take your notebook or laptop with you and don’t leave until you’ve written a few pages. And while you’re there…

Catch up on film history! Check out (literally) some of the greatest films of all time. Blockbuster probably doesn’t have them, but your library might. And get some books while you’re at it: Bazin and Sarris are your “beach reading” this week.

And for extra credit:

Teach yourself filmmaking software! There are a ton of ways to do this. Here’s just one of many: Lynda.com’s excellent Final Cut Studio tutorials are all available online, and for $25 you have access to every single one of them for an entire month. That’s enough time to learn enough about Final Cut, Compressor, Motion, DVD Studio Pro to move you to the head of your class.

The most precious resource for us filmmakers isn’t a camera or even money — it’s time. If you’re not already making a movie this week, use this week to recharge your batteries. Literally. Then go shoot. If filmmaking isn’t just a hobby, it’s your compulsion, I can almost guarantee that in ten years you’ll look back and consider this time better spent than doing tequila shots in front of MTV’s Spring Break camera crews. At the very least, you’ll remember more of it.

So you wanna go to film school….Part 2: Film School Applications: Do’s and Don’ts

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Despite (or because of) the so-called “democratization” of film technology, film programs are doing a booming business. Acceptance rates hover around 10% or less at a lot of the more notable programs in the nation. From my own first-hand experience serving on the grad selection committee (in 2006) at Temple University, I can tell you that we accepted something like 8%. The last time I checked, the best med schools in the country aren’t that selective.

So how do you make yourself a competitive applicant?

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