Friday Filmmaker Finds, July 25th Edition!

A blog post by Levin Menekse
Hello folks, welcome to another Friday Filmmaker Finds!

I’m kind of cheating this week and starting with something from a long time ago and something I assume many of you have already seen. But I really think it’s something every aspiring artist/filmmaker needs to hear once in a while.

So, you know Ira Glass, right? This American Life. Looks like this:

If you’ve listened to his program — it’s on NPR and talks about real life stories with a whimsical and melancholic tone — you know he’s a stone-cold genius. If you haven’t, here are some samples to establish that this guy knows what he’s talking about.

And here is him giving vital, amazing advice. Now, there are more flashy versions of this on the internet with animated letters or in the form of hipsteresque life advice murals, but I think it’s important to see the most unadulterated version of it, even if it’s dry and in 240p. See it/listen to it/take it to heart.

And here is the “hipsteresque life advice mural” version.
And then here is a huge library of advice from the legends of filmmaking. Go ahead, choose your favorite filmmaker and see what his/her recommendations are for other filmmakers. They have everyone from Ozu to Spielberg, so rest assured, someone you like is on this list. You can hear about Charlie Kauffman talking about how “If you’re in Charge, you shouldn’t be the Insane One" or you can go for Michael Haneke and take his advice on: "How to Draw Scenes from your Slaughter-Filled, Sheltered Childhood”.

This picture marks the only time Michael Haneke ever smiled
And here is the short film of the week. It’s called Ice Cream and it’s by Louie C.K, whose brilliant TV show you’ve been watching and admiring for the last 4 seasons. I love this because it’s basically that familiar “Louie C.K. voice” in its infancy. This shows you even if you have no money to shoot a movie, your unique voice can still shine through the grainy, black-and-white, student-film-looking shots.

Alright everyone, hope you enjoyed this edition of Friday Filmmaker Finds! See you next week!

Levin Menekse

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Friday Filmmaker Finds — July 18th Edition!

Another Blog Post by Levin Menekse

Hello folks,

As you may know, Sean loved Under The Skin and even wrote an article about it. He praised the movie for its creative use of the visual language and its unrelenting refusal to resolve its enigmatic aura. Here is a video essay that details the tools and methods used in the movie and why it’s different than other contemporary movies. Beware: The video does give away some of the movie’s iconic visuals and its ending, but Under the Skin is really more of an experience than your standard narrative feature film, so I think it will be perfectly fine to watch this video without having had seen the movie. Here you go.

Last week, we took a look at Lance Dustin Black’s insanely intimidating creative process. This week, we have a much more free-form approach from Mike White, who is unfortunately known more for Nacho Libre when he should be known for his HBO series Enlightened which was a great show that had a quiet, unique, emphatic tone TV landscape is missing these days. Here, now you can watch him awkwardly sit around his apartment and stare into empty space as he details his creative process!

Lastly, here is some sage advice about how you can develop your unique voice and, to top it off, its wrapped in the delicious comedy of Steven Wright! You’re probably going to recognize him when you see him as “that guy who never, ever smiles.”

I can’t say I loved his Oscar-Winning short film that is featured in this article, but I found the article itself remarkable for its advice. My favorite portion was:

Some novice filmmakers have always convinced themselves that the way to the top is through so-called ‘production values,’ shorthand usually for sequences that add nothing to the film but which cover up for any narrative deficiency (they hope) and, you know, look “cool.” I will say confidently, here, that the “cool” is the enemy of the “great.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this advice and direct you to the article from which it originated.

The short-film of the week isn’t an easy watch. It begins in a deliberate, slow pace but I assure you that it has a chilling pay-off. Simply put: It’s about a lonely office drone who finds the suicide video of a man who taped his last day on Earth. Our protagonist, the office drone, gets obsessed with why this man decided to kill himself and starts watching the video over and over again, looking for clues… Without spoiling anything, this eighteen minute short movie’s last two minutes filled me with more existential dread than the last 30 feature-length horror movies I watched combined. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here it is.

Alright folks, hope you have had and will have a great week! Take care!

Levin Menekse

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Friday Filmmaker Finds - July 10th Edition!

Yet another blog by Levin Menekse

Hello everyone, nice to see you again for another edition of Friday Filmmaker Finds!

This week, we have it all! Inspiration, intimidation and some practical advice!

Let’s begin with intimidation because that’s just the funnest way, no? Take a look at this picture below:

His name is Dustin Black and he won an Oscar for writing Milk. This is his writing process. He works more than 12 hours a day. He has cabinets full of research documents and talks about how he, on average, researches for a year on each project. This is him talking about his creative process.

Are you intimidated? I am. I feel flimsy compared to this guy’s work ethic and dedication.

Well, let’s make it more fun: Do you have any colorful quirks or unique ways you approach your creative process? I’ll start: I listen to Black Metal to drown out the outside noise and can’t write in public because I end up head-banging unconsciously. Your turn!

Secondly, some practical advice. Maybe you’ve heard of the Potato Salad Guy. Here is the picture with which he raised 45 thousand dollars because he wanted funding to make a Potato Salad:

Are you saying “What the fuck? I couldn’t get 5k for my meaningful indie film and this guy gets 45k FOR A POTATO SALAD?!” or “Wow, this guy is a marvelous magician, how the hell did he do it because I sure would like me some 45k worth of Potato Salad!” here is a very practical and insightful essay by Ferrett Steinmetz on this Potato Salad Phenomenon.

By the way, I love that under “Risks and Challenges” the Potato Salad Guy simply states: “It might not be good. It’s my first Potato Salad.”

Finally, here is some inspiration mixed with intimidation. I’ve seen it before but I’m highlighting it again because it was on cinearchive over the weekend: Here is Paul Thomas Anderson directing Magnolia.

Now, I know this is more than an hour long and it’s not easily consumed. But I genuinely believe it’s worth your time. See, Paul Thomas Anderson was 29 when he made Magnolia. Magnolia is definitely one of the most ambitious movies EVER made. It’s a 188 minute juggernaut with nine intersecting stories and it balances a variety of tones while touching crazy-hard-to-pull-off subject matters like child molestation, drug addiction and death of an estranged parent. It’s such a go-for-broke project that even if you don’t like it, you must at least respect the sheer audacity of attempting such an insane thing.

And this documentary really goes into the creative process of such a crazy film; Anderson shares his doubts and hopes and while we will never possess his incredible mind, it might at least inspire us a little bit. Well, and intimidate us, obviously. I’m 27. PTA was nominated for an Academy Award when he was my age. That will keep me up tonight. Here is Tom Cruise quietly judging me.

And, to spare you further rumination and existential aggravation, this week’s short is easily consumable, colorful and somewhat fun. I don’t want to ruin anything about it, except to say please watch the whole thing because there is a pay-off. Here is Voice Over.

Alright, hope you enjoyed it folks! See you next week! Leave comments, share it with your friends and all that jazz!

- Levin Menekse

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