There are two stories behind every photograph: the story of what was being captured, and the story of capturing it. Tales by Light, now streaming on Netflix, focuses on the latter, documenting the wild, often perilous journeys of world-class photographers as they create their spectacular images.
Making a film is one thing. Making money on a film is something else. And nobody knows this better than Mia Bruno, producer of marketing and distribution for Seed&Spark, a new crowdfunding, direct to consumer platform that’s currently disrupting the more traditional, entrenched distribution models. “Most filmmakers want the same thing,” Mia told us. “They want to pay back their investors, and they want to make their next film. So the question is how do you do that?”
Wendy Cohen has dedicated her life to promoting films that make a difference. You might call them advocacy films or socially conscious films. Or it might just be easier to call them by their names: Food, Inc.; The Cove; Inequality for All; Rich Hill; Waiting for “Superman” — just to name a few.
Years before Abby Fuller became Chef’s Table’s first female director, her first job out of film school was making the series True Life for MTV. That’s where she mastered the most basic building blocks of storytelling: beginnings, middles, and endings. For being so fundamental, it’s surprising how often they’re forgotten. We’ve all watched films that are nothing but a series of beginnings with no real story or progression. And we wonder why we lose interest. We wonder what’s missing. Well, the middle. And also, the end.
Observation is an act of creation. Whether or not that’s true for the cosmos, it’s true for clichés: they don’t exist until we notice them ⎯ or someone points them out. Creative Director Andy Baker (Nat Geo, Netflix) pointed out a cool German term for this, which you can read below. But suffice it to say that clichés abound, and they’re more prevalent than ever. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s a weird time to be a nonfiction filmmaker in America. But rarely has it been more important. Not only do we need true stories, but we need deep, nuanced true stories that eschew the broad brush of clickbait journalism in favor of what New York Times writer Michiko Kakutani called “the fresh, mixed-up happy-sad texture of real life.” In other words: we need documentary filmmakers. And we need good ones.
The way people make films has changed a lot over the past few years. But the way people watch films has changed even more. Video on demand, mobile viewing, subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime — all of these things have fundamentally changed our relationship with movies. They’re less of an “event” now and more of a constant presence. Easy to access and just as easy to ignore. What does it mean for filmmakers when massive theatrical distribution is no longer the gold standard, but the goal is still the same: to get as many people as possible to see your film?