InFocus Film School Blog



By Ryan Uytdewilligen

What’s the motivation for your movie’s location?

If you are going make your on-screen dream a reality, you’ll need actors, props, a screenplay, and a crew. But you can’t forget the most important physical aspect… the very bane that plagues all movie shoots; an answer to the pesky question, “where are we going to film?”

A shooting space can make or break everything depending on many minuscule factors. The job takes talent so that the rest of the crew’s day can run smoothly and the desired scene can be captured with ease.

Here’s the process one should take when finding and securing that sacred shooting space.

Read more

Acclaimed director and film school graduate Ang Lee said: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can never learn enough.” That is especially true when it comes to film.

The benefits of a formal filmmaking education cannot be overstated. It gives young directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and other aspiring artists the guidance and training they need to master their craft. A number of the most well-known and successful directors have gotten started at film school. It gave them a chance to develop their unique artistic style and voice.

Read on to find out how film school influenced the work of these three famous directors.

Read more

Written by Ryan Uytdewilligen


To film school or not to film school, that is the question! The budding filmmakers of tomorrow are faced with this weighty choice – rush out into the world and make movies on their own or take the time to get a formal education.


It’s a risky business seeing how job security at the end of your education is far from guaranteed. A quote from the much loved auteur Quentin Tarantino simply spells out for young filmmakers that “he never went to film school, he went to films” yet respected and renowned director Martin Scorsese as well Hollywood mogul George Lucas have both learned their crafts in an educational setting.


So where is the best place to start? If you’re scratching your head and looking for that launching pad, look no further. A diploma may not necessarily be a requirement for stepping on set, however, receiving a formal education in the field might conjure up more opportunities than you many think.

Read more

Written by Victor van der Merwe


The one thing all filmmakers have in common is the problem of finding money for a project. Steven Spielberg has that problem, David Lynch has that problem and yes, first time filmmakers have that problem. The reason is because, unlike other art forms, this is a very expensive medium to work in. Of course, Spielberg and Lynch can point out projects that prove they can get the money back to investors. Sadly, your profit margins might not yet compare to theirs. This does not mean that you cannot raise the funds needed to make your masterpiece though. Here are five ways new filmmakers can get funding for their projects.

Read more

Written by Felicity Flesher


Adaptations have become a forefront in cinema. Feature films today are based on all kinds of intellectual property including video games, comic books and literature. Writing an adaptation is a great way to get your foot in the door, and hone your craft. Some of the greatest movies of all time originated as short stories, such as The Birds, Brokeback Mountain, and Memento. But how does a writer take a short story idea and adapt it into feature screenplay? 

Read more

Written by Johnny Papan


The art department is in charge of the decorative, tangible visual aesthetic of cinema. It’s responsible for how a character dresses, why they dress that way, what their house looks like, what their job-cubicle looks like, etc, etc.


Every choice made by the art department is in service to subtly give audiences a deeper look into the world and characters.


“Generally speaking, I start with the character,” explains Charles Whiteway Wilkinson, who has worked both as a professional industry Production Designer and Art Director. “I think who’s room is this? Who are they? What do they do? Do they have kids? Are they single/married? Old/young? From here I determine the era, colours, quality of furniture, artwork, photograph, etc.”


Read more

By Johnny Papan


The word animation derives from the Latin word aminare which means “to give life to.” This is exactly what animation is about, giving life to something that once did not have life. Animation has been a staple in art and entertainment since the early 1900s, consistently evolving from the complex projections of ink on paper to a mostly electronic medium. Though there are countless animation styles that span the 2D and 3D realms, there is still a fundamental idea that all animators must follow. Breathe life into your characters and their environments.


But how exactly do you give life to your character? Animation is a meticulous process which requires artful attention to detail, and a fair amount of preparation.


Here are our five key steps to bringing your 3D characters to life.

Read more

By Kryshan Randel


2018 was a year of out-of-nowhere surprises. For every film from an established master (Schrader, Lanthimos, Noe), there were films helmed by directors like Bo Burnham, Ari Aster, Ali Abbasi and many others whom I had never heard of before. My usual preference for dark comedies and thrillers are here, but overall this is a way more diverse list than usual.



A coming of age story as visceral and emotionally complex as the real thing. Anxiety, terror, comedy and heart co-exist, sometimes all in the same scene. Elsie Fisher’s performance anchors all of the successful shifts in tone, and the film’s understanding of social media is peerless.



Riveting documentary about a daredevil free climber who scales Yosemite’s 3000 foot high El Capitan wall without a rope. A thrilling, incredible character study. A perfectionist meets his match and we are right there with him, body, mind, heart, soul, with every perilous step.



An undercover reporter pretends to be swayed by an ISIS recruiter, until she falls under his spell for real. The greatest trick of this film is that we can understand why; the recruiter is charming, convincing and all too persuasive. The best of the laptop found footage movie genre (movies taking place entirely on laptop screens.)



A rigorous examination of faith, with a career-best performance from Ethan Hawke as an anguished priest. A bleak film driven by rage and sorrow, made with tremendous discipline and self imposed restrictions.



A beautiful nightmare, Gaspar Noe’s latest provocation combines ecstatic dance with extreme horror, and will send some screaming for the exits while it puts others in a trance-like state. Possessed performances and dazzling experimentation create a film that is experienced rather than just watched. Just like Noe’s Enter the Void, this is an uncompromising work of art, extraordinary ambitious, expanding the possibilities of what cinema is capable of more than any other film this year.



The family trauma endured here sets the horror bar so high that the supernatural elements can’t quite surpass it. Still, expert direction and flawless performances from the entire cast, especially Toni Collette, result in the rare genre film that will haunt you for days.



Period costume dramas are not usually among my favourite genres, but Lanthimos’ latest is the opposite of stuffy and formal. This is outrageously farce, with endlessly witty, quotable dialogue and a contagious tone of glee and madness.



Creatively staged comedy that never lets up for a second, with every kind of joke imaginable, and some memorable action sequences too. The Fincher-esque tributes and stylistic flourishes are the icing on the cake.



A non-human customs officer who can smell fear, falls for a similar creature who shows them their true self. A deranged original from the writer of Let the Right One In. It’s an unclassifiable modern day fairy tale so grounded in the real world that when the surprises show up (and there are many,) they land with intimate shock.



It’s not often that I fall for an Oscar baiting Hollywood crowd pleaser as I much as I did for Green Book, probably not since Titanic. However this irresistible road movie is tremendously engaging, funny and moving. Old fashioned entertainment in the best sense of the term.



The vulnerable genius artist portraits THE ZEN DIARIES OF GARRY SHANDLING, MCQUEEN, FILMWORKER, SHIRKERS and A STAR IS BORN; the epic sci-fi spectacles AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and READY PLAYER ONE; the fascinating shot-by-shot breakdown of PSYCHO’s shower scene 78/52; the moving survival tale ADRIFT; the beautifully sincere WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR; the escapist comedy CRAZY RICH ASIANS and pitch black comedy BLACK KKKLANSMAN; the raw time capsule MID90s; the haunting thrillers BURNING and MANEKO NORI; the period horror of APOSTLE; the extraordinary powerful THE HATE U GIVE; the neurotic authenticity of PRIVATE LIFE; and the non-stop creativity and spectacular storytelling of the all-ages winners PADDINGTON 2 and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE. The transcendent last thirty minutes of ANNIHILATION are also worth a mention too.










Lazy storytelling and anonymously vacant, with a total blank of a lead performance. The worst STAR WARS entry since their Holiday Special.



Claire Denis’ lost-in-space trippy HIGH LIFE, Jordan Peele’s latest thriller US, Ari Aster’s Hereditary horror follow-up MIDSOMMAR, Dan Gilroy’s Altman-esque horror film set in the art world VELVET BUZZSAW, the Safdie Brothers’ heist thriller UNCUT GEMS, James Gray’s space quest AD ASTRA, Tarantino’s 60’s epic ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, Scorsese’s DeNiro/Pesci/Pacino team-up film THE IRISHMEN, the sci-fi/action/superhero showdown AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and Doug Liman’s CHAOS WALKING, co-written by Charlie Kaufman.

Kryshan Randel is a directing instructor at InFocus Film School. 

For more reading, visit:

VIFF 2018 films top 10 ten

VIFF 2018 films top 10 ten

by Johnny Papan


The Vancouver International Film Festival has been showing the latest and greatest of homegrown and international cinema since 1982.


This year’s festival runs from September 27 through to October 12, utilizing ten of Vancouver’s finest venues including the Orpheum, Rio, and Vancouver Playhouse to showcase some of the world’s most anticipated upcoming films.


With an Official Selection spanning several genres from all over the globe, this year’s VIFF is not one to miss out on. Out of the many great films to choose from, here are our top 10 picks for VIFF 2018.

Read more

Animals in Film Leo the MGM Lion
Animals in Film Leo the MGM Lion

Leo the MGM Lion


Who doesn’t love animals in film? Whether to delight or to scare, animals have played some of the most iconic roles. Where would we be without Lassie or Airbud? Or the nameless horde in Birds?


So let’s say your script includes animals. You can’t expect them to act like your human actors and likewise can’t expect to treat them as such. The rules surrounding animal performers can seem daunting at first, but this guide will break filming with animals down into a manageable process.


Read more