Something weird can happen when you start making a film (or start making anything, really). You can get too close to the project, lose perspective, and start writing things that sound good but aren’t actually true at all. It happens so easily, and you often don’t realize it until you look back. For Douglas Gautraud, the filmmaker behind the My RØDE Reel 2014 award-winning short film My Mom’s Motorcycle, telling the truth in his projects is the most important thing.
For the past year we’ve been traveling around the world making short films about filmmakers and musicians, capturing amazing creatives in their environments, digging into what exactly makes artists tick. We’ve gotten pretty good at telling other people’s stories. But one thing we haven’t done much of is tell our own. We haven’t made sales-y commercials about Musicbed. We haven’t put out slick promos announcing new features. And the reason for that is — at least for us — Musicbed is about so much more than just licensing music. It’s about creativity and artistry. It’s about creatives and artists. To talk about Musicbed and not talk about artists seems sacrilegious — close to impossible, actually.
Where Tim Pierce and Toby Crawford are tells you a lot about who they are. It’s not just that they live in Wanaka, New Zealand — population: >7,000 — it’s that they stayed in Wanaka, New Zealand, when most other production companies would have packed their bags for New York or London by now. But to leave their hometown (both Tim and Toby grew up and went to school in Wanaka) would be to commit the gravest Two Bearded Men sin imaginable: not being themselves.
A good title sequence not only introduces a TV show or a film, it expands it, interprets it, becomes an integral part of the experience as a whole. In some cases (let’s use James Bond as an example), the title sequence becomes as iconic as the characters. There is an art to these sequences that some people have spent the lion’s share of their career mastering. Take, for example, Chris Billig — the co-founder and creative director of Scatterlight Studios, responsible for such iconic title sequences as Orange Is the New Black, The Maze Runner, The Honorable Woman, and more. We recently chatted with Chris about the art of the title sequence. Here’s Chris.
Whatever your feelings about Hollywood, it’s impossible to deny its influence on all of us. Even though many purposefully disregard Hollywood’s conventions, methods, and structures, we’re still affected by them. And to be honest, there’s a lot we can learn from them. We’ve recently been digging into Blake Snyder’s classic screenwriting book Save the Cat! And while much of it is as “Hollywood” as you’d expect, there’s a lot of gold in there too.
In his or her own way, almost every person in the world is a travel filmmaker. When people find themselves in new places, they get out their camcorders and hit Record. These videos, of course, are historically some of the most boring videos ever made. That’s why when a professional travel filmmaker like Brandon Li turns his eye on a place, the result is so striking. There is an art to making a great travel film, and we hoped Brandon could teach us what it is.
Jared Hogan has a beard that reaches down past his collar. He wears hats with straight brims and shirts that must be at least a decade old. He looks comfortable. But beneath his nonchalant exterior is a filmmaker who is deeply committed to becoming one of the best in the business — a filmmaker who can’t stand the thought of mediocrity. “I’m incredibly ambitious,” he told us. “I can’t disappear into the middle.” This makes Jared’s statement on his About page on Tumblr all the more interesting:
Everybody wants to be Salomon Ligthelm — except Salomon Ligthelm. After years of being Vimeo’s darling and a poster child for crowdfunded passion projects, Salomon has left all of that behind in search of a more fundamental form of filmmaking. Filmmaking based on characters. Actors. Human experience. We talked to Salomon after he’d been living in New York for eight months. He was still very much transitioning from who he was to who he is becoming. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, as you’ll see from our conversation.
“Ignorance is bliss,” Isaac Testerman says. “Everything we did was taking the bull by the horns, not knowing if what we were doing was the best way to go about it. We were just doing things the best we could.” After making his first short film with zero filmmaking know-how, Isaac went on to cofound Delve, one of Facebook’s lead creative agencies. Now, seven years later, what Isaac and his team lack in formal training, they make up for with gusto and experience.