Let’s talk about lighting! An often underestimated aspect of filmmaking and production, film/TV lighting has a major impact on the look and feel of every scene. Think Amelie’s warm tones, Citizen Kane’s dramatic high-contrasts, and Pulp Fiction’s vibrant neons. Thanks to stylistic lighting choices, these iconic films are anything but flat.
Setting up lighting on a film set takes practical savvy, creative flair, and even some time management skills. As industry pros can tell you, achieving the perfect lighting for every scene can be a time-consuming process of trial and error.
If you’re considering making your mark on the film production industry, these three tips can help make lighting a perfectly painless process.
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Film students undertake a diverse range of projects
Whether you’re a globally successful director or a highly specialized production crew member, one of the most important attributes you can have as a professional in the film industry is adaptability. Being able to apply your talents to a number of different types of film can help you secure steady work, grow as a professional and continue to thrive creatively as your career progresses.
It’s no coincidence that adaptability is also an attribute many film school graduates possess. Learning the theory of filmmaking, as well as training in technical areas such as cinematography and editing, gives students a solid foundation of knowledge which can be applied to almost any project.
What’s more, practically oriented schools like InFocus give students plenty of chances to develop their skills, with a series of portfolio projects in a number of different formats.
1. Filmmaking College Students Learn the Language of Cinema through Silent Films
The original form of cinema, silent film is one the first projects students undertake, and also one of the most crucial in developing their cinematography skills. By conveying a story without the use of dialogue, filmmaking college students learn the fundamental film principle of “showing not telling” in their work, while gaining a more solid understanding of the visual dynamics of film.
2. Learn Documentary Filmmaking from Acclaimed Instructors
The documentary is one of the most powerful and dynamic forms of filmmaking, and has been used as a tool by respected filmmakers the world over to highlight important societal issues, present pivotal moments in history, and shine a light on unique cultures and personalities.
When learning the art of documentary filmmaking, InFocus students are encouraged to take dramatic risks with their films, infusing their work with their own individual creative style, often with exciting and rewarding results.
For example, check out this recent documentary ‘Mars Barb’ by InFocus student Milena Salazar, which documented the efforts of a local Vancouver woman to be accepted onto the Mars One mission.
And while students in filmmaking courses are given plenty of creative freedom to find their own style, they also pick up tricks from a number of instructors who are experienced documentary makers, such as Julia Ivanova, whose acclaimed film ‘Family Portrait in Black and White’ was named Best Canadian feature at Hot Docs 2011.
3. Cinema Verite: Capture a Piece of Real Life at Filmmaking College
A form of documentary often referred to as ‘fly on the wall,’ cinema verite aims to capture real life in the rawest form possible, eschewing storytelling devices like narration in order to present events as they unfold. A dynamic and unpredictable form of filmmaking that can be done with minimal equipment, the style is often incorporated into other forms of film, including fiction, where elements of the form can be seen in films like ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘mockumentary’ TV shows like The Office.
Check out this example of a Cinema Verite project by student Stan Huang:
4. Test Your Filmmaking Skills with a Music Video
Developing interesting visuals to accompany a song can be a fun explorative process for creative filmmakers, who often incorporate a wide variety of cinematography techniques, genres, and visual sequences into the project. Not only that, but a music video project can form a vital part of your portfolio, showcasing your technical talent, and helping you secure work once you finish your course.
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There are many career options for film school graduates
Many passionate movie fans dream of a career in the film and television industry, but never pursue the idea. They tell themselves that it’s too competitive, or too unstable, or that only a select few are able to find steady work. These kinds of doubts are all too common, and lead to thousands of potentially brilliant filmmakers giving up before they’ve even started.
In reality, however, a career in film is far more practical than you think. A typical production employs hundreds of trained professionals for specific, specialized roles in sound, visual, and production crews, each playing an important role in bringing an idea to life.
What’s more, prospective filmmakers based in Vancouver—the third largest film production centre in North America—can expect a steady stream of regular work, with hundreds of productions taking place each year.
If you want to find secure work in a business you love, read on to learn more about the many options available.
1. Picture Your Career as a Camera Operator after Film Production School
Have an eye for interesting and original visuals? A career as a camera operator could be for you. A big-budget production can have more than 50 people in its camera crew, with many entry level roles available, such as camera assistants and camera trainees. Working closely with the director, these highly trained professionals help to create a unique visual style for the film, carefully crafting each individual shot.
Camera operators also need to be familiar with a variety of different shooting styles, making it an ideal role for film production school graduates, who gain experience by working on a variety of different portfolio projects, such as documentaries, music videos, and commercials.
2. Use Your Film Production Training to Make the Cut as an Editor
Being an editor requires a wealth of technical knowledge and excellent attention to detail, as you work to craft all the scenes from a film together to ensure the project comes together seamlessly as a coherent whole.
It’s not an easy task, but your film production training and project work will provide you with extensive practical editing experience, while the small class sizes at schools like InFocus mean that each student gets the individual attention they need from instructors to truly hone their craft.
Editors help make sure a film comes together as a whole
3. Script Readers: For Film Production Students with a Passion for Storytelling
More interested in the storytelling aspects of film? Don’t worry, there are plenty of roles to suit your talents. For example, script readers are often employed by production companies and public funding bodies to assess screenplays they receive, providing detailed reports and story breakdowns to help determine whether a script is suitable for production.
4. Script Supervisor: The Ideal Role for a Film Production School Graduate?
A unique role that requires both screenwriting and cinematography expertise, script supervisors work with the camera crew to ensure they get all the shots they need to bring a script to life, as well as keeping written and photographic records of individual shots to ensure continuity. Because the role requires comprehensive knowledge of filmmaking theory, film school graduates are often considered ideal candidates for script supervisor positions.
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Award-winning cinematographer Danny Nowak works in unorthodox ways. He is at once a successful independent artist following his dreams, yet is also ready to paint images with his camera for blockbusters like Tristar’s “The Big Hit” or Neil Simon’s “The Goodbye Girl.”
As a child Nowak was enthralled with classic horror movies like Frankenstein and at age thirteen started to make his own shorts on 8mm. Nowak started his career in Vancouver, but has worked on film sets around the world. Here are a few words of wisdom, and some of his thoughts for up and coming filmmakers.
Early Years: Follow your Instinct and Curiosity
“I was about 8 years old when my fascination with movies began. I was obsessed with Frankenstein and other classic horror films and started making my own shorts in 8mm when I was thirteen years old. Soon after, I saw ‘The Tenant’, directed by Roman Polanski, which opened my mind to the dramatic possibilities of visual storytelling. I think the best course I ever took was the History of Movies, where I was exposed to milestones of film from the past and from there I developed a love for international cinema.”
Respecting the Past, Collaboration and Building Mood
“The art of cinematography really is to me the total culmination of centuries of the very best of visual arts. You know that Michelangelo and Goya would have been cinematographers.”
Collaboration and Looking Through the Lens
“To reproduce a certain version of reality though a lens is still thrilling, and when you’re lucky enough to work with an inventive director as storyteller, the possibilities are endless. Making a movie is a huge endeavor- expensive and intensive- so it’s an honour to be in a position where one can exercise such creativity with the help of a talented crew.”
Balancing light levels on the set of War, as Jet Li rehearses.
“The tools and techniques available to help capture the scene allow you to mould and sculpt the image to suit the particular story: focal length, depth of field, composition, camera movement, and especially lighting for mood are all mechanisms to help you build the emotion into your scene.”
The Demo Reel
“I’ve been lucky enough to have shot a good cross section of genres in my career, and I try to reflect that when I put together my own demo reel.”
How to Pick a Project
“I love going from a suspense thriller to a western to a romantic comedy to an action film. I’d never turn down a project if it had a good script and a courageous director.”
Storytelling is the Key
“The first question from new film students often is “what cameras are we using?” I’d respond with the applicable equipment to be employed for that time period. But I would also remind them that cinematography is so much more than just the tools of our trade; it’s learning how to tell a story visually, manipulating time and space, light and shadow, and exploring character and subtext.”
Understanding Narrative and Progression is Essential
“Young shooters have a wealth of resources these days to study the work of brilliant filmmakers over the last century. It’s this understanding of narrative and the progression of imagery that is most interesting and rewarding to me, and it’s my hope to share this aesthetic with the students.”
Get Out There and Shoot…Do the Work
“My advice to those who are at the beginning of their career is this: don’t expect to play the piano without practicing. Accordingly, in film, shoot anything and everything. Even if the project may not give you beauty shots for your reel, you’ll be meeting directors, producers, ADs, colourists, editors and so many other enthusiastic people just like yourself. It’s a great community to be a part of, and the opportunities come when you’re an active participant.”
Why InFocus Film School
“In Focus has grown rapidly from the new school on the block to a significant facility where students can experiment with all aspects of filmmaking until they decide what discipline they want to pursue. The instructors are professionals and the atmosphere is friendly.”
Being a successful cinematographer is so much more than having the newest or best gear. Great cinematographers are storytellers who strive to reveal the human condition though a lens and back to the audience. A painter with a brush uses colour, light and shadow to evoke beauty, or fear; cinematographers use cameras to create moving visual scenes using shadow and light in the same way.
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Known worldwide in the film industry as “Hollywood North,” Vancouver has a history of producing some of the finest film directors in the world. Since 2000, over a billion dollars worth of revenue has been attributed towards film productions in Vancouver each year. Today, Vancouver is in an excellent position to carve out an even bigger place in the world of film, and this will surely translate into more and more film directors emerging from the city.
Here are 7 Vancouver film directors that have already made it big:
Neill Blomkamp – Undoubtedly one of the most exceptional products of Vancouver, Neill Blomkamp is best known for directing Elysium and District 9. In addition to directing, he has made a name for himself in the film industry as an adept animator, screenwriter, and producer. Like so many people, Blomkamp first entered Vancouver as an immigrant at the age of 18, moving with his family from South Africa. He quickly established himself as an animator for TV shows like Dark Angel and Stargate: SG1, before his services were sought out by producer Peter Jackson for Blomkamp’s directorial debut, District 9.
Evan Goldberg – This immensely successful director has had an incredible career, working on multiple well-known productions as a director, writer, and producer. He is perhaps best known for his collaborations with his childhood friend, Seth Rogen, although unlike Rogen, Goldberg stays behind the camera. Born in Vancouver, he drew inspiration from his birthplace to write the film Superbad in collaboration with Seth Rogen. His directorial debut began with the film This is the End. More recently he directed The Interview.
Seth Rogen – Although he is best known for his acting roles, Seth Rogen has become one of the highest achieving directors to come out of Vancouver. He has also emerged as an incredibly successful writer and producer, with TV shows such as The Ali G Show and The Simpsons making use of his comedic wit as a writer. Collaborating on the aforementioned films with childhood friend Evan Goldberg, his films have consistently proven box office hits, including his directorial work for This is the End, and The Interview.
Allan King – Focusing his attention mostly on documentary films, Vancouver born Allan King was one of the key pioneers of ‘cinema verite.’ His directorial career has left a lasting impression on the world of art, and there have been numerous exhibits of his work in art galleries and museums across the world. In addition to documentaries, he also directed numerous feature films and TV episodics, winning awards such asBAFTA‘s Best Foreign Film Award, the New York Critics’ Circle Award, the Golden Reel Award, and many more. King died in 2009.
Sturla Gunnarsson – A household name in Canadian film, Sturla Gunnarsson emigrated to Vancouver from Iceland at age 7. A Day Much Like the Others, one of his very first projects as a film student in Vancouver, was one of the highest achieving student films in both Canada and Europe at the time. He directs both feature and documentary films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary, After the Axe.
Daryl Duke – Daryl Duke became an icon of Vancouver film before passing away in 2006, winning a Primetime Emmy Award in 1971 for ‘Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Drama’ for his work on The Bold Ones: The Senator. The native Vancouverite also won the Canadian Film Award after directing the critically acclaimed film The Silent Partner.
Mina Shum – Another immigrant to Vancouver at a young age, Mina Shum has proved a worthy addition to Canadian film. She won the Wolfgang Staudte Prize at the Berlin Film Festival for Best First Film for her feature film Double Happiness, which also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Many of her other short films and features have earned awards and nominations as well.
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A movie landscape once dominated by theatrical releases is now facing competition from an abundance of digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo and YouTube. Netflix and Vimeo have given independent filmmakers more variety when it comes to distribution and one doesn’t necessarily have to release in a theatre. However revenue from these deals still needs to improve for the people who make independent films.
UBC Film Studies Professor Brian McIlroy sees the changes as good for independent filmmakers, but with room for improvement.
“It is true that the emergence, for example, of Vimeo as a platform for independent filmmakers has eased access to an audience. I am old enough to remember the highlight of a student film was to get one of the few spots on CBC’s Reflections program hosted by Adrienne Clarkson. That filtering (and “high culture”) selection process has diminished and the number of film festivals has exploded. The issue now is how to get noticed with so much product online, including YouTube, and actually make some money. So, yes, there are greater distribution opportunities and access to an audience, but the financial model seems to me to be precarious and haphazard.”
However there are curatorial distributors such as IFC/Magnolia that can secure a feature placement in a theatre. Of course here in Canada we have the National Film Board and Telefilm. The NFB has created over 13,000 productions and is in partnership with the world’s leading video portals. The NFB is a great place to pitch an idea and access their programming for emerging filmmakers. The International Women in Film Festival recently screened the award winning short “Rock the Box,” written and directed by Katherine Monk and funded by the NFB.
Once a filmmaker gets their foot in the door they will have access to their festival and worldwide distribution market. Telefilm is another great publicly funded organization that funds and promotes local production companies across Canada and individual filmmakers. They have a wide variety of resources for filmmakers including entry times for festivals, and a feature film distribution fund that makes lines of credit available for Canadian distributors. In 2013 they launched a micro-budget production program that supports filmmakers who want to distribute their film as a web based production. Both Telefilm and NFB have had their budgets cut over the past ten years, but are still robust and important resources for up and coming filmmakers.
Marketing offline is still crucial to getting the attention of audiences and distributors. Films such as “Exit Through the Gift Shop” a film by the elusive street artist “Banksy” got people excited in the real world because of the mysterious appearance of “Banksy” art across major cities. This word-of mouth hype was extremely helpful for the film and the public was buzzing with curiosity.
Amazon and Netflix are putting a lot of energy and resources behind original content, and DIY film culture is penetrating the once inaccessible film studio and challenging the dominance of the Hollywood blockbuster. McIlroy sees the current situation as still in flux.
“Kickstarter fundraising is wonderful but how many projects actually are able to pay back small investors? One suspects that the gold standard will become getting a deal with Netflix to develop a series or an original film. Is this substantively different (apart from size and budget) from filmmakers and producers pitching work to a Hollywood studio?
Nonetheless, the student film is a calling card that can lead to more professional work, so there’s an argument that it might pay off to post one’s film on Vimeo and other platforms for free…assuming you have exhausted the festival circuit and have few creditors.”
Now is an exciting time for independent filmmakers and for audiences who have a thirst for good storytelling, thrilling cinematography and international diverse faces. The established ways of distribution are being transformed and there are challenges. However because of the plethora of platforms, festivals like Sundance and TIFF and with the ability to garner the attention of a sophisticated global audience, there are many new opportunities for independent filmmakers.
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The Vancouver film industry had one of its most lucrative years in 2015 – the number of productions increased by 40 per cent from 2014, and it looks like this rate of growth is set to continue for the upcoming year. It doesn’t take an expert, however, to recognize that the low Canadian dollar has played a massive role in this recent upsurge. But is it simply due to the economy? Vancouver has a lot more going on than just a good exchange rate. Experienced crews, huge studios, an amazing visual effects scene, and the Netflix effect are just a few reasons why Vancouver is one of the hottest locales to shoot a project.
It’s no coincidence that right around 2014, the Vancouver film industry began to take off. That was when the US dollar started to soar and the loonie fell in comparison. Fast forward to today, when that gap is wider than any in recent memory, and you have a formula for one amazing summer for Vancouver film. In 2015, international film production budgets in British Columbia rose by a whopping 54 percent. That’s a grand total of 1.7 billion dollars. In addition, these productions resulted in 143 million dollars of wages being paid to approximately 20,000 Vancouverites who work as film crews in our city. You do the math. These people are making some serious money.
Deadpool, filmed in Vancouver in 2015
According to Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, “We see firsthand the enormous positive impact on film and TV productions on our city every day. As one of Vancouver’s high-growth industries, film is a big contributor to our nation-leading economic growth. Vancouver is home to world-leading talent in the film industry and the City is committed to supporting all levels and aspects of production.” This is a key point when it comes to Vancouver’s film industry: it’s not just at an all-time high, it continues to grow. Right now we are the third busiest city in the world – and we may well rise to number two, or even one.
The Netflix effect is also one of the reasons behind the recent surge in productions. Big companies like Warner Brothers are tapping into the fact that people are turning away from “normal” television, and relying instead on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon for their entertainment needs. Huge companies such as Disney have seen their stocks fall like rocks, and experts say it’s because of the rise of streaming television. Their solution? Invest heavily in making better, higher budget television shows, and a lot of them. Warner Brothers alone is responsible for seven productions that are filming exclusively in Vancouver.
In light of these promising factors, there is a sense of optimism felt by many in the Vancouver film industry. What might the future bring? Over 350 productions were filmed in Vancouver in 2015, and that number is set to continue rising this year: 30 percent more film permits were issued this past January, than in January 2015. One thing is certain – if you’re looking to get your foot in the door in Vancouver’s film industry, there has never been a better time.
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Sarah Race is a photographer originally from a small-town in Oregon. She has been in Vancouver since 2004. Sarah completed the Documentary Film Program at InFocus Film School (formerly Pull Focus Film School) in 2015.
Her documentary Barbarian Press will have its world premiere at the Toronto Hoc Docs Festival 2016 on May 4, 5 and 8. Hot Docs is a renowned Canadian International Documentary Festival, held April 28-May 8 2016.
Jan and Crispin Elsted produce awe-inspiring books of beauty using techniques and traditions dating back to the 15th century and to Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg is credited with introducing the printing press and movable type to Europe, thrusting Europe into a literary revolution for the masses.
Told as legend by the Elsteds, Barbarian Press was founded on the morning of January 1, 1977 while in England. It began with a poem Crispin wrote and wanted to have printed. Print maker Graham Williams introduced them to the tools of the trade – Jan and Crispin have not looked back since, and have dedicated their lives to making objects of beauty.
We recently caught up with Sarah to find out about her experience making Barbarian Press.
Why did you decide to make this documentary?
I worked with Brian Howell and he told me about the Press, since he photographed them for GEIST. In some ways I wanted to explore questions I personally had in regards to living an authentic life. This film is not making any judgements. The Elsteds offer a glimpse into another world.
Were the Elsteds receptive to you making a short documentary about them?
How long have the Elsteds created hand-made books?
Crispin and Jan Elsted moved to Mission, B.C. in the summer of 1978 and have been publishing books ever since. So for about 35 years. In 1988, Jan and Crispin converted the barn into a proper workshop with a press room for their growing collection of presses and a composing room. In 1996 they added a small hand-bindery where they offer workshops.
How did you gain their trust and access to their life as bookmakers?
They are lovely people. They let me into their lives by being there. I slept on the couch and some evenings we would talk and drink scotch. Spending time in their house and studio was like going to a candy shop. Everything in their studio is beautiful, it would be challenging to mess up making a documentary about them.
What was your approach when it came to depicting this couple’s life?
This film is not about judgement, and it’s not about one or the other. But choosing how you want to live an authentic life. Spending 80 percent of your day on a screen (iphone,computer), who can say whether that is good or bad. They live the life they want to live and there is a cost to it, but they are producing something that will last hundreds of years.
They could have had quite a more secure and comfortable life at UBC as professors. Instead they chose a life that is not so easy, physically or economically. Why did the Elsteds decide to pursue this ancient or old fashioned art form?
It’s not old fashioned for them. For them it has to be done by letterpress, and that can’t be recreated digitally. Their craft is about creating beauty, something physically beautiful. The words or what they decide to print is secondary to how it looks and feels.
How do they divide the work?
Jan is one of the world best printers and Crispin does the typesetting. They are now among the most senior and respected members of a very small group of people worldwide (the Fine Press Book Association’s website lists just 118 member presses).
Jan and Crispin Elsted
What surprised you about the Elsteds? What do people misunderstand about them?
People thought they were quirky people who live in the woods. That’s not the story. It’s the way they base their lives, to create beauty; if you live in a consumer world there is no reason to do it and it doesn’t make sense. But for them it is their joy and life’s work. They are married in life and work.
Was this a personal journey for you as well?
This story is about value systems and seeing and living in 3D instead of 2D like most of us do nowadays, working in front of a computer screen. That is not their value system. Their value system is based on bringing joy and creating a world for people to go into. It’s not how much money they can make, they are not operating in our value structure. They are operating very consciously.
I was questioning my own value system and why do I accept all these things. You get something different in letterpress form. What have we lost? To have information come so fast on a phone. Being with the Elsteds made me conscious that what I see is 2D. For most of the day many of us only use our one sense and we don’t use our sense of touch, smell etc…. They use all the senses when they are making books. The feel and smell of the ink, leather and paper. We live in a world where we use one. This was kind of a revelation for me. I was like “huh, I didn’t know I was doing that!” Seeing them work with their hands and every sense simultaneously had me think about the bigger questions in life, like how to live an authentic life?
What was your experience with InFocus Film?
I took the Documentary Film Making program last year. I am a photographer and I wanted to add to my skill-set. It was great program and I had an amazing mentor Julia Ivanova, an award-winning Vancouver documentary filmmaker. Without her this would have never happened, she went far beyond just being an instructor.
What was the most challenging aspect of making a short documentary?
There was a lot going on. Some things are similar with still photography, like putting people at ease, setting up a shot etc.. (and) I did everything myself, lighting, script writing, sound and editing. With the exception of Julia helping.
What was it like getting into the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto?
I am very happy and excited! Financially it’s tough though, especially entering film festivals it can get expensive with the fees and film formatting. Funding is always a problem for filmmakers and that can be restrictive. If my project was team driven it might have been easier, but I chose to do this on my own.
What did you learn about filmmaking during this process?
It’s like putting together a puzzle. I started making this movie because “these are interesting people” but you learn something about yourself through the relationship with the people you are documenting. With documentary filmmaking you have to be a good listener. I concentrated on the story as opposed to some filmmakers (who) focus on technical aspects. As a photographer when I see a bad image I throw it out. In filmmaking it’s not like that. The imperfections, it added to the story…mistakes can benefit the story.
Jan and Crispin Elsted are Barbarian Press. They have produced stationery and cards, and fine press work, including forty books. They’ve published classic authors—William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, John Keats—and contemporary ones, such as Theresa Kishkan and Tim Bowling. The newest project by Barbarian Press is called: Bordering on the Sublime: Ornamental Typography at the Curwen Press. Find out more here.
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Despite the Hollywood franchise hold on worldwide audiences, and $100 million dollar plus budgets, low budget and independent films are making their mark and drawing bigger audiences and financial windfalls. The years 2014-2015 saw a boon of financial and festival success for low budget independent films and filmmakers mostly outside of Hollywood.
According to renowned New York Times film critic David Edelstein, “none of the great material came from Hollywood studios.” Studios are directing their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for “creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving.”
Due to audience demand, changes in distribution and access to online viewing, low budget movies are once again making headway into the mainstream market. Audiences are becoming more sophisticated and demanding quality stories and characters over CGI and big explosions.
Here are ten low budget movies (under $20 million) that did spectacularly at the box office and in the eyes of award givers and worldwide audiences.
Alex Garland makes his directorial debut with a film that is both visually stunning as well as cerebral. Following in the footsteps of Blade Runner, Ex-Machina has the audience questioning the nature of human consciousness and where Artificial Intelligence fits into our world. A coder at an internet-search giant wins a contest to spend a week in a mountain retreat belonging to a reclusive CEO of the company. He soon realizes he has been chosen to take part in a strange but enticing Artificial Intelligence experiment. Ava is a highly sophisticated AI and he must evaluate her consciousness through a series of tests. Ava is beautiful – and her emotional intelligence, and deceptiveness proves beyond what both men could ever imagine.
“No, I didn’t have that stuff [a budget]. I just started shooting with my Canon 5D, and I shot about 80% of the film in the end.” Laurie Anderson
Akin to a personal essay, Laurie Anderson, partner of the late musician Lou Reed, directs a tearjerker of a film. An homage and remembrance of her dog Lolabelle, the film is a mix of animation, realistic footage from the animal’s life and imagined scenes reflecting on life and death. Heart of a Dog reminds us that these creature companions are as intertwined in our emotional lives as we are our in theirs. We find out that Lolabelle was a spirited canine with creative ambitions like piano playing and painting.
Timbuktu, is a film that draws us into a world and a place that has been both romanticized and vilified by the West. An Oscar nominee this year for best foreign language film, director Abderrahmane Sissako, sets his film in the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu that in 2012 was seized by an al-Qaida group whose regime of terror outlawed music, dancing, laughter and soccer. Central to this story is a cattle herder and his family who live peacefully in the dunes outside of the city despite the chaos brought by the regime. However their lives are soon abruptly changed.
Director Charlie Kaufmann (Adaptation) once again delves into a topic he comes back to again and again; the mundanity of life and how to somehow make it extraordinary. Kaufmann’s ability to return to this theme without seeming redundant is a unique talent to have, and turning to animation works well. A motivational speaker who is not very motivated himself is stuck in a hotel room while in Cincinnati waiting to give a talk at a conference. He is crippled by thoughts of his repetitive life. He imagines the people he has met at the conferences, his wife, and his child are starting to look like one big mass of the same person. In order to disrupt this mind melding train of thought he hopes to meet up with an old flame who lives in the city, in hopes he can make it up to her about the way they broke up. The meeting doesn’t go the way he has planned. Now alone and depressed he meets a stranger who is different and slowly becomes a cure for his bleak view of life and could possibly change his life forever.
Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloë Grace Moretz are a tour de-force in this scenic masterpiece of existential quandary, aging and forgone youth. Set in the Swiss Alps, Maria Enders, a middle-aged actress at the height of her career is face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself while starring in a revival of the play that launched her career twenty years ago.
Originally playing the role of an alluring young woman who drives her boss to suicide, Enders is now in the role of the older boss. Sigrid a young, volatile Hollywood actress is to take on the role Enders once played. Now Enders finds herself on the other side, face to face with a younger woman who is an unsettling reflection of herself. She and her assistant retreat to the Swiss Alps to prepare for the role and come to terms with being a middle-aged actress in a youth obsessed world.
Tangerine delves head first into the gritty world of transgendered sex work in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Shot entirely on the iPhone 5s, director Sean Baker is granted access into a world of characters based on real-life working girls and the culture surrounding them. The characters deal with discrimination and hateful actions from many, yet find acceptance in the least expected of people: an Armenian taxi driver. Beneath all of this is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of Sin-Dee a sex worker recently released from jail who goes on a rampage searching the streets for the pimp who broke her heart.
Inspired by the real life world of teenage girls she would see hanging out in Paris shopping malls and train stations, director Celine Sciamma was compelled to dig deeper and find out more about their lives. Girlhood is an authentic, lyrical and gritty coming of age story of a young black girl growing up in the rough suburbs of Paris. With a dynamite soundtrack that uses the Rihanna song “Shines like a Diamond” as a thread throughout the movie, Girlhood is full of life with an almost exclusively female cast, giving this film an honest agency.
Room is the surprising Canadian-Irish 2015 smash hit directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel. This chilling and claustrophobic film starring, Brie Larson as Joy Newsome, takes place in an enclosed space, where Joy has been kept captive for seven years. She and her 5-year-old son finally gain their freedom, allowing the child to experience the outside world for the first time.
Room was written well before the 2014 revelation that three women had been held captive for ten years in a house in Cleveland. This real life nightmare makes Room even more gut wrenching and terrifying, yet surprisingly hopeful.
Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, 2009) directs his English language feature film debut. The Lobster is a strange and jarring film with many layers to peel off. Part science fiction part dystopian nightmare, the film tells the story of a place where people who are single are given forty-five days to find a romantic partner or they are turned into an animal of their choosing. The film stars Colin Farrell who chooses to be a Lobster if he fails to find someone. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize. It was shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
Force Majeure (Swedish: Tourist) is a 2014 Swedish drama that exposes a society’s (and a family’s) entrenched expectation of the patriarchal role men should play, even in the modern world. Marital tension rises after an avalanche during a ski holiday, during which the husband Tomas is believed by his wife to have prioritized his own escape over the safety of his family. The script and cinematography are praiseworthy, with hints of playfulness and dark humour. The title force majeure, is also the name for a contractual clause freeing both parties from liability in the event of unexpected disasters.
https://infocusfilmschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2timbuktu.jpg441625InFocus Film Schoolhttps://infocusfilmschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/InFocus-Film-School-175.pngInFocus Film School2016-04-05 19:03:272021-02-25 14:47:57Independent Films Are Hitting It Big At The Box Office
Janalee Budge, who hails from Whistler, BC, has a background in art direction and graphic design, giving her work a unique artistic style. “I want to make visually beautiful documentaries and with (my biography film) Unbound, that magical and super beautiful visual style is what I’d like to explore.”
Janalee took a leap of faith in going back to school to study filmmaking, and leave her relative work security – but it’s a leap that is paying off. “I was looking for a course that I could take part time, so I took a one day course to see what [InFocus] was all about, and I was super happy with it. So I decided to do the drama and documentary six month course. I was working as an art director before, and I was in charge of corporate ads and webisodes, but I wasn’t very hands on.“
Janalee is an avid believer in strong visual themes and images in her films but since studying at InFocus, her ideas and themes have broadened: ”I didn’t know what to expect because this program covers so much of film. When I first started I wanted to hone in on my camera and editing skills, but we also get a lot of classes here on directing, lighting and grip and all those other aspects of filmmaking. They’re all interconnected so I’m really happy I got to do some of those classes as well as focusing on my documentary filmmaking.”
What’s next for Janalee? “I wouldn’t mind trying to work on a bigger set while working on my own projects, and this school helped me utilize these different skill sets. I like the fact that I’m in such an intensive course and that it’s a small class (so) it’s more hands on.”
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InFocus Film School is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.