Archive for the ‘For Students’ Category

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:’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.

Film Preservation Manual

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Chris Cagle over at Category D recently posted information about a film — as in 16mm, 35mm, etc. — preservation manual he found online. For me, this is perfect timing. Just this week some librarians at Virginia Tech asked Stephen Prince and me to look at our 16mm collection to assess what should be kept and what should be thrown out.

The guide, authored by the University of Washington, is clearly geared to librarians (one chapter title: “I Found Motion Picture Film in My Collection — Now What?”), but it’s a useful (and free!) resource for anyone that has (or has access to) film prints.

You can download it here.

Documentary Interviewing Techniques

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

… from a surprising source: ESPN.

John Sawatsky, ESPN’s senior director of talent development, has tutored reporters, anchors and producers around the world. Since 1991, he has devoted all his time to teaching interviewing to professional journalists. ESPN asked him to assess the prospects for the upcoming “60 Minutes” interview of Roger Clemens.

Sawatsky’s assessment amounts to a lesson in interviewing technique (and rips Mike Wallace to shreds in the process). Fascinating reading.

How to Send Big Files

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Over the last month or so I’ve needed to send and receive a lot of large files (Final Cut project files, songs in AIFF format, DVD burn files, and so on). By “large” I mean in the 20mb – 4gb range. These files are usually too large to be sent via email because of file size limits, using an FTP site can be a hassle (as David Pogue has noted), and sending files via DVD-Rom via mail or FedEx is (comparatively) slow and pricey.

For me, the solution has been to share these large files via a few of the several services that exist online. I have used YouSendIt, FileFactory, and Pando. All have worked just fine.

The first two are file-hosting sites; Pando, on the other hand, is a stand-alone application. It requires a (free) download, but it also allows for the sharing of much larger files.

If you find yourself needing to share large files and don’t know where to start, a fairly comprehensive listing of file hosting sites is available on Wikipedia. You can also check out this article, which surveys some of the main services.

Film Festival World: Resources

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Film Festival World has recently launched a few useful resource pages worth checking out:

Their Ezines, Journals, & More page selects some of the better sources of critical writing on film from around the (digital) globe. Alongside long-running magazines (like Cahiers du Cinema and Cineaste) are sites like the Rouge and Senses of Cinema. I’m looking forward to exploring the sites that are new to me.

Another resource worth checking out is what they call The Essential Film Blog Reader. Though some of my favorite bloggers aren’t listed (Mr. Schnack? Mr. Lowery?) what’s there is quality stuff: David Bordwell, Ray Carney, Chris Fujiwara, Girish, Sara Jo Marks, Chuck Tryon, and others. Needless to say, I was flattered by the compliment of inclusion (and their biography, which was done entirely without my input).

If you’re unfamiliar with Film Festival World, you can read more about the site here.