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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Filmmaking 101 - Courses & Links

Filmmaking 101

I started a four-week, FREE online course in filmmaking offered by the combined forces of the University of Birmingham, the BBC Academy and Creative Skillset. - Click HERE

I am enjoying this course and am augmenting it with tips/techniques from Francis Ford Coppola.
See my notes below.

Coppola mentions the book 'Kazan on Directing' by Elie Kazan during his overview of his Prompt Book created for his film The Godfather. - Click HERE

Another course you may find of interest is through MasterClass: Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting - Click HERE

Another resource of interest: Elements of Cinema – A Student's Guide to the Fundamentals of Filmmaking - Click HERE

Enjoy your summer!

      My notes:

The Francis Ford Coppola Notebook
Uses original hardback novel to make his notes in.
– Makes a Prompt Book (Stage/Theater Days Style) w/ borders pasted each side of page and grommets over holes for strength.
– Notes placed in margins w/ arrows to lines covered by notes when applicable – color coded.
– Coppola uses his Prompt Book rather than the script during filming – has his notes & original authored text.

   First reading: Put your impressions down– initial responses on what was good or bad.

  Break down each area.
a.       Synopsys – synopsize each part, paragraph or two
b.      Times – how does the time period reflect – clothes, customs, settings, style, etc.
c.       Imagery & Tone – things that stand out in the story
d.      The Core – The focal points… Introductions of main characters and subplots, Revelations of strengths & weaknesses, relationships between characters/settings, etc. (A Streetcar Named Desire book by Elia Kazan)
  Pitfalls – Dangers one can find themselves in…
a.       Clichés: Language, Attitudes
b.      Losing the reality/humanity of the characters
c.       Too much exposition
d.      Inconsistent character inner conflicts – as portrayed/understood – unintended hypocrisy – maintain timeline consistency
e.       Failing to set up tensions/friendships/subplots
f.       Make sure ‘everyday’ details occur but not overdone – normalcy of scene content
  Scene Divisions – Set up scenes where you feel is best… not necessarily by chapters.

  Notes also Chart what is happening each page
  The more notes, lines, highlights, underlines on a page indicates importance of the scene

  Create suspense by showing character is not doing what was instructed, or prolonging their actions beyond what the audience expects

  Styles & Details of scene filming & setup: Hitchcock, Serling, Coppola, etc.
a.       Applied to: Locations/Characters, etc.
b.      Details: Mists of blood from gunshots, spiders crawling, water dripping, actions of characters (freeze, shock, coughing, coughing - emotional content), etc.
c.       Use an Asterisk to indicate things of great importance
d.      Believability of characters, their interactions with each other, emotions, audience reactions – include on and offstage sounds (background reactions to scene content)
  Compare your Prompt Book with final script draft if script was written by someone else.
  Storyboards – scene setups w/ notes/changes
  When editing, especially with cutting, ensure consistency – cut all scenes solely dependent upon one another.
  Put your name and location to send your Prompt Book to in case it is ever misplaced

Additional Notes
F.F. Coppola – Mario Puzo – Gordon Willis

Once you have fame/power – ensure no one has any say over casting.

Get the audience to love a character, hate a character, and to forgive a character.

Film as you wish – not always as ‘tradition’ attempts to mandate – unique cinematography.

Overhead lighting (only) use shadows to promote a mysteriousness about the character (Brando), underexposure (dim lighting), yellow light in period-old movies (cliché ?), makeup variance, correct art direction, wardrobe, shot structure, lighting must accommodate your scene’s filming introduction.

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