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Awake In The Dark
What you're watching these days on the Big Screen and the Small Screen.


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Old July 30th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #16
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Run Lola Run
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Old July 31st, 2007, 02:25 PM   #17
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Any film with the sound off.
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Old August 1st, 2007, 12:51 AM   #18
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best for blocking

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Old August 2nd, 2007, 08:52 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Leong View Post
"I watch movies, therefore I can make movies"

sound any better to you?
Your words have the ring of truth.

I do think it's useful to watch movies as a learning tool. But you have to _actively_ watch, just like you need to _actively_ read a book.

I mean you have to notice the techniques being used, including rewinding and watching a scene several times. Focus on different aspects each time. Notice how the scene is blocked, number of setups, how it's cut, how the music cues to the cuts, etc.

I'm also reminded of Robert Altman who said he a lot from every crappy movie he saw. He learned what _not_ to do from lots of movies.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 09:56 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Dennis Stevens View Post
I do think it's useful to watch movies as a learning tool. But you have to _actively_ watch, just like you need to _actively_ read a book.
A great way to do this is to take Michael Struthers' suggestion above and watch with the sound muted.

Quote:
I'm also reminded of Robert Altman who said he a lot from every crappy movie he saw. He learned what _not_ to do from lots of movies.
Indeed, one of the required texts when I went to film school at UT-Austin was Edward D. Wood Jr.'s "Plan Nine From Outer Space." It was mandatory viewing because every possible mistake a filmmaker could make is in that movie (except for focus; I have to say that I can't recall an out-of-focus shot in Plan Nine). All of the filmmaking sins are in that one movie: crossing axis and so on. It's an excellent learning tool which I put up there with Citizen Kane considering how much you can learn from it -- what NOT to do, that is.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 10:03 AM   #21
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Practice it by doing it. There's no excuse. Tape costs less than books now. Cameras cost less than film school.
Fully agreed. I want to point out the reason why I went to film school. My parents insisted that I get a college education and the only major that I felt compelled to put my heart into was radio-television-film. I'm glad I did it and I'm grateful for the education I received at UT-Austin, but do I think film school is mandatory for someone wanting to become a filmmaker, heck no. It was mandatory for someone like me who wanted to finish college by studying something I was fascinated about, that's all.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 10:20 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Whats the best dish to eat to learn the art of cooking? Depends on your interests, tastes, and approach. That's why it's an art.
Here's an example -- this was the syllabus for RTF370: Film Analysis & Criticism at UT-Austin in 1990, a third-year class the focus of which for that semester was The American Dream (i.e., American filmmaking in the studio system during the sound era). Yes, I keep this kind of stuff. The texts for this class in order of their screenings were:

Scarface, 42nd Street, All About Eve, The Godfather Parts I & II, Shadow Of a Doubt, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rebel Without A Cause, Raging Bull, Twelve Angry Men, The Wrong Man, King of Comedy, Sullivan's Travels, The Lady Eve, Vertigo and It's A Wonderful Life.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 12:39 PM   #23
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Hitchcock

Rear Window is one of my favorites. Excellent film-making.

Making movies really is the only way to learn though.

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Old August 2nd, 2007, 02:53 PM   #24
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Learning Filmmaking (long post)

[Funny, I don't feel like a wise old fart. But I've been doing this professionally, in one form or another, since 1975, so I guess that makes me one, right? So pin your ears back, young 'uns, and get a load of this:]


On the topic of watching movies, well, I think that's a given for all on this board.
We all got here because at some stage, while watching movies (and most of us have watched *a lot* of movies), we went past the "wow, what a movie!" to the "geez, how'd they do that?" and later on "man, I reckon even I could do better than that", and finally "hey, I'm going to look into doing one of my own".

And then, long story short, we finally get behind a camera in one form or another -- and do it.

Or not.

There are plenty of wine connoisseurs out there, far fewer wine makers, and very few professional vintners.
No harm in that, no dishonor. People don't have to make wine to love wine.

Plenty of people love movies, and most of the ones who love movies have an opinion about them, one way or another. That's what they're for.

I'll quote (actually probably mis-quote) Ingmar Bergman in saying that the process of creation, and the life of creativity, isn't all it's cut out to be.

I mean, there's plenty of movies, or TV shows about the director pointing this way and that, and the crews doing his or her bidding, like the captain in a sports team, (and whoever joined a sport NOT wanting to be captain of the team?)

But then you try making one.
Of your own.
A teeny weeny short one, maybe in your own backyard, just to test out the waters. Maybe with your friends or local actors, or no actors at all.

And it's not all roses, is it?

One of my more colorful friends calls the process of filmmaking "shovelling steaming soft sh** up a steep slope with a sharp stick"

Another one, more experienced, said something like this about his first professional directorial experience: "if you can write and get up early in the morning, then you can make a so-so movie. Because the people on the movie with you will simply not let you make a bad movie, because they need for every movie they're on to be so-so at least. But how to make a good movie? A great movie? I don't know. I just know how to write one." (and yes he does, has an Oscar or two to prove it).



They just don't want to make themselves, do they?

And then, finally, you're done.
Your first movie is out..

And you realize - heck, this is just about spending money and time.
It's just like a home movie, only with a story.
You might as well be making a table or a paper doily, only ours costs more to make, in terms of time or money.

'Cause guess what? You won't be enchanted with your own movie.
It's your own movie.
You know all the pimples, and the wrinkles, and every single last flaw that you had to cover up, smooth over, to make the illusion complete.
They get to see your illusion.
It's for other people to get enchanted about, not you.

Thus - you make movies for other people, not for yourself.
Oops.

And then, after you've mulled that one over, you either get into it, or not.
What makes a movie a movie and not a collection of dailies, strung together?
Why are some movies more compelling, others not?
And away you go.

Everybody who watches movies does this. Movies are made for us to do this.
To raise our awareness. To think for ourselves.
But to go through all that pain again, just to make another darned movie?

Well, you still have your camcorder, and all that damned expensive equipment...

So you make another damn movie. Not so short, not so timidly.
You either get caught up in the thing, and go "hey, if I did this, or that, slightly differently, maybe it would be better" - or "what happens if I do this?"

Or not.

If you think, first time round, that yours is the perfect movie, then guess what?
Your next movie will be as good as, or worse than your first. Because you can't get better than perfect, can you?
Or, more likely, if this is a thing you're meant to be doing, and you did it right, guess what? You feel a certain sense of dissatisfaction. You know you could do better next time. Why?
Because the very act of making a film -- makes you a better filmmaker.
Also, hindsight is 20/20.

So welcome to the artist's conundrum. Nothing you do will ever feel good enough, because if it is, you're doomed to repeat yourself, and then it's time to leav and try something new..
So there's always this mixed feeling of deep accomplishment and deeper frustration that keeps you going onto the next movie, knowing full well that you'll never quite touch that rainbow.
As I've said, it's not exactly the bed of roses it's cut out to be.


So better to get out there and make one, right now, today, and start finding out if this really is for you or not.


Point is, like anything else, you really don't know, at the starting gate, if you're going to be any good at it or not.
You think you might, but then you realize that, as with anything else, you're going to have to throw in a bunch of time and money (read movies) to find out if you're really any good at this or not. I'd say maybe a dozen short films at least.
If by your 12th movie you still don't know, time to move in.

It also doesn't take too long to figure out that any clown can point an automatic camera at anything and get a shot, same as you can.
People can make rookie movies anytime - that's why they're called rookie movies.
But... are they really the same? I mean, even Spielberg and Coppola eventually point cameras and get shots too. We're all doing the same thing, more or less.
So what's more, and what's less? What's theirs doing that ours isn't?

Heck, how can you even tell what's good and what isn't?
Think you can get that from film school? Think again.
All you can get there is what somebody else thinks is good, or not.
You have to get what's inside, yourself.

And this is why and where the film watching comes in.
A lot of them, good or bad, it doesn't matter.
Because it's not about knowing more than it's about feeling.

Because in the end, if it's you controlling the camera, out of many choices of where to put it and what to point it at, ultimately it's going to shoot what, to you, looks and feels best.
The other guy won't do it your way, because he'll be doing it *his* way.
And that's why we all want to do this.
Everybody wants to be successful. To express our inner feelings. To achieve our inner potentials, all that good stuff.

Film making is just about spending money and time to make shows, right?
Maybe so.

But for some of us, it takes us, grabs us by the whatnots, and won't let go.
And then we start to live it, every moment of every day.
Then it's not just the movies we watch, not just on the screen anyway..
It becomes about the live movies we see in our heads when we go the grocery store, or pass through a forest, or do our laundry.

Then we go through a stage where we stop watching movies altogether because it's become an overload, there's already a universe of images swirling around in our heads from past movies we've seen, past dates we've been on, past tragedies, victories, sadnesses, triumphs...
And that all has to come out again, in the form of violence, sporting instinct, competition, artistic expression, whatever.
In short, it's like a virus that takes us, and infects our lives.
Creativity like nausea leading to vomit, because it *has* to come out, there's nowhere else for it to go.

And after that, if we *don't* go out there and make moves, then the sickness takes hold, and we hang around despondently, talk about this and that, criticize others' work, and generally get depressed and moody, and complain all the time. And don't do anything at all. Or, more precisely, we do everything else but.

And this is the creative person's sickness, according to Mr. B.
We all get it. We stare at our blank computer screens or sheets of paper.
We take our expensive camcorders out with us for the weekend hike.
And nothing comes out.

And we get depressed and moody, and go watch TV or movies, and get more depressed...

when what we all really need, all we really needed all along, is to be given a swift and stiff kick up the backside and told to get on with it.

Thank you, Mr. B.

So I say yes, watch movies. All the movie you want.
But always, always be making your latest, your last, best movie, inside your head.

Make your own damn movie. Start Now.

Get a project going, and all of a sudden, all the films you're looking at all start to make a special kind of sense, because you're working on a movie. Sorry, not A movie. YOUR movie.

Which is why I said in the beginning, don't talk about it, do it.

Tell us what movie you want to make, and I'll bet you the responses on which movies you'll need to see or not to see will be overwhelming
Don't forget. Ours is a collaborative art, a group process. A poet or a painter works alone. We do not. There's a load of us out here, waiting to work with you to make your movie the best it can be.

Now, one last thought:
Why is that?
Why would a captain of one team volunteer to help the captain of another?

Because we're all actually in collusion, not competition. Or, put another way, the better your move is, the more people will be there to watch it. And that's a wonderful thing. Ever seen people lining up around the block to watch a movie?
Ever think about what it would be like for us, for all of us, if those lines were to dwindle and die away completely?
So sure, I'm going to cheer for you, applaud your talent, help you out in any way I can, to keep the audience out there -- and why?
For the time my movie will be done and out and blows yours off the screen, that's why (they've already seen yours anyway) -- and please let there still be lines of people wanting to see mine too!

LOL!

HTH
Cheers
Chris
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 03:14 PM   #25
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More simply shot and older movies pre-CGI era do it for me. There are just too many moving shots, lighting, etc. that CGI plays into (ruins it in some cases). Watch movies with lower budgets for the core value of it all. IMHO
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 04:30 PM   #26
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Thank you Mr. Leong - May I call you Chris? - for taking the time to compose your thoughts and post them so completely. I needed a good, inspiring, "kick up the backside." And you're right, so I will. Enough of working only on "paid projects" and never getting around to working on my own. Starting today, the "paid projects" will have to make room, or I'll have to stay up later, wake up earlier, or whatever.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Kevin
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 04:48 PM   #27
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Rock on!
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(doing the same thing, not enough sleep!))
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 08:48 PM   #28
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Best movies to watch to learn filmaking

Guys,

There are two movies every filmaker should have in their collection; Heart Of Darkness and Burden of Dream.

In these to movies you get to see Francis Ford Coppala and Werner Hertzog litteraly go insane to get their movies made.

In the end two great movies come out of their suffering, "Apocalypse Now" and "Fitzcarraldo."

These movies are awesome

Ken
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 08:32 AM   #29
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Strictly Ballroom.

My wife had to study it in film school. Her teacher said it was because Baz used on purpose a lot of different old school techniques to tell the story.

Other then that I would have to agree that doing it is the best way to learn. Nobody wants a clone of a famous director. The great ones have learned to master their own style through experimentation. To me thats what film is all about. Experimentation. In the past this was very expensive, but today it is very cheap to experiment. If you just learn somebody's style you will be lucky to direct made for TV movies on Lifetime.

Of course looking at current movies will help give you a guideline of what works and what does not work. I suggest just trying to view them with raw technique and method in mind and then try to take that raw knowledge and form it into your own style.
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 08:55 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Whats the best dish to eat to learn the art of cooking?
Yeah, I would have to ask, best movies to watch to learn *what kind* of filmmaking? For example, if we narrow it down by genre, here's another syllabus from my film school days at UT-Austin... this one for RTF385K: Film History: The Western, from Fall 1990... in order of their screening:

Ride The High Country, Tumbleweeds, Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Kid From Texas, One-Eyed Jacks, Shane, Johnny Guitar, Pale Rider, The Iron Horse, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Wonderful Country, Colorado Territory, The Searchers, Pursued.

First time I've looked at that course outline in... Gawd... seventeen years!
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