Letters

No Sugardaddy Needed

Dear Folks:

I absolutely frothed over Peter
Broderick’s article on the digital/video revolution (issue #30-ed.).
Finally, a mainstream film publication that recognizes the inevitable!
Video is the gateway to realizing one’s dreams of producing a
film without a sugardaddy. I’ve preached the same sermon as a
college instructor, but more importantly, have gotten national
video store distribution, international sales, and strong reviews
from, among others, The New York Times Press Syndicate, with
projects ranging in budgets from $7,000 to $12,000, including
post, sleeve design and printing, all by shooting video. And
these are features shot on 3/4″ video, with the most simplistic
tbcbased “film look.” And no, you don’t have to do “adult” titles
to pull this off.

Having line-produced shot-on
35 and 16 features, I see no advantage to the firsttime filmmaker
to putting thousands of dollars into Kodak, Fuji, or a transfer
house’s pocket. Bottom line, film will not save a poorly written,
performed, and lit script. And if the story, performances, lighting,
coverage, editing, and sound are all there, it doesn’t matter
what it’s shot on, it will find an audience. Keep preaching the
gospel, Mr. Broderick!

—Michael D.
Fox, St. Petersburg, FL

8mm: Not a Snuffed Film

Dear Mr. Hollywood,

I am writing to you in reference
to your very bad advice given to a Bryan in Boston in the latest
issue of MovieMaker #32. You tell this person to dump his super
8 camera, shoot in mini dv and process through the film look,
and then do the blow up to 16 mm filin.The problems with this
advice are many. First, you cannot learn how to shoot film by
shooting video. They are two completely different animals. If
this person wants to be a filmmaker then super 8 film is the
best means for him to learn on. The equipment is readily available
and it is the least expensive film format to work in. The filmmaker
must learn the process of filmmaking, from choosing the correct
ASA film stock, exposing the film properly, dealing with labs
about film processing, and the whole telecine process as well,
etc., etc. None of this experience occurs with video.

Secondly, the film look process
is good to get a different feel for video, similar to a different
emulsion of film, but it does look as good as film or is evenly
sufficient enough to pass as film. The cost of this process is
very expensive as well, which defeats the process of shooting
video because it’s cheap.

The best advice should have
been to shoot super 8 film, especially the PRO 8 color negative
film stocks that are made from Kodak 35mm, and then transferred
to digital beta on a Rank Cinetel, edited on Avid and then blow
up the final cut to 16mm or 35mm film. This will produce far
superior results than anything shot on mini dv. The resolution
of super 8 film far exceeds any video resolution. And the individual
will gain valuable experience in becoming part of the film industry.

The film industry does exactly
this, shoots film and then edits tape. This is more so the case
if the project is for video or television distribution.

We have worked with several
studios and clients that have done this process. Eight Millimeter,
Varsity Blues, Why Do Fools Fall in Love
and Selena,
to name a few 35mm theatrical releases, as well as many Oliver
Stone movies. And Super 8 is a widely accepted format for music
videos, television shows like Buddy Faro, VH-1 Behind the
Music
, and many independent feature films.

The next time someone asks your
advice you could enlighten them that if they want to be a filmmaker
they should shoot on film not video. If people cannot afford
16mm film then they should shoot super 8 film.

—Richard
Petrosino,Jr., Super 8 Sound, L.A.

Kudos to Judith
Weston

Dear Ms. Weston,

I just wanted to compliment
you on your terrific article on script analysis for directors.
I have to agree with you that getting the most out of the character
arcs in a script should be extremely important to a director.
Characters that remain in our memories have quirks, masks, and
other nuances added to their “normal” behavior patterns. As you
know, many directors these days are more worried about their
shots or SFX than taking the time to work on characters and refining
or rewriting the dialogue in the scene. I look forward to reading
your book.

—Bill Hodges,
Los Angeles, CA

A Magazine Like Nachos

Dear Timothy and staff,

I just wanted to comment on
how much I’ve enjoyed reading, and reading, and reading (it’s
packed!) your magazine. About two months ago I decided to jump
into filmmaking and went out and bought several books and a few
mags to jump-start my learning process.

I picked up MovieMaker because
A) It looked great and B) There was an article on my favorite
film of the season, Next Stop Wonderland. I have to say,
of all of the movie mags I purchased, yours is unquestionably
THE BEST. Why? Because it’s overflowing with great articles.
It reminds me of a time that I got nachos at a baseball game
(Orioles/ Indians ’97 League Finals Game Two, actually) and every
time I looked to see how much I had left in the box, it was still
full. I know that sounds silly, but it was wild; as if it were
replenishing itself. I would eat a bunch and it would still be
full, offer it to my buddies, still full. Definitely the most
satisfying box of nachos I’ve ever had. Reading your mag, the
same phenomena occurred. No matter how many articles I read,
every time I picked it up I found more. There were so many gems
inside. I read Brad Anderson’s story twice-I love this movie-the
hand-held approach was perfect and it’s pure entertainment.

Anyway, thanks
for putting together such an awesome publication. Talk about
getting your money’s worth! You’ve definitely won over a new
subscriber. Lord knows when I’ll get my first feature made, but
with MovieMaker, at least the trip will be fun!

—Jorge Bernardo,
Arlington, TX

Bong Feature a Knockout

Dear David Davis:

I’m a new subscriber to MovieMaker.
In fact, issue # 32, the very one that featured your incredible
article,” Comeback of the Boxing Movie” was the first issue I’d
received. Coincidentally I’m on page 75 of the first draft of
a fictional boxing movie featuring an African American lead.
At first I was floored. Especially after I read that there are
eight new boxing films in production! For a moment, suicide seemed
like an appropriate reaction, or at the least a serious fall-down-passout-blackout
binge. Then I read the piece. I found it both enlightening and
encouraging. In fact, I’d been perusing the online film archives
for something this genre-specific for months. I needed to know
what films had been done on the topic and how they where received.
Viola! Thanks, guys.

I’ve now mustered the courage
and will proceed. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll test the `spec’
market or just (gulp) go for it and get it in the can. Wish me
luck. If you know of any producers or literary agents that are
looking for …naahhh.

—Don Chariot,
Long Beach, CA

Carney too Quick to Judge

Dear MovieMaker,

I agree with a lot of what Ray
Carney said in his opening remarks at the Grand Illusion Theater,
(see MM #13 & 14 or 27, or check out our website at www.moviemaker.com
-ed.) and I applaud his insistence on the inescapable fact that
art isn’t easy. Quite right. But I am mystified by his endless
restatement of something that most of us take for granted-namely
that Hollywood is less interested in art than in money. Can there
be anyone on earth who doesn’t know this to be true? Is there
anyone in Hollywood who wouldn’t happily admit it publicly? Do
we really need to be told this again and again? Carney thinks
we do, presumably because films like The English Patient and Schindler’s
List
are treated as high art by many high-profile critics.
But I think that there’s an important distinction to be made.
Hollywood (or the business of world-wide entertainment, as Abel
Ferrara calls it) may not be interested in art, but it occasionally
produces it. I may agree with Ray Carney that The English
Patient
and Schindler’s List are far from the summits
of cinema, but I am appalled by his unbridled contempt for everything
produced by Hollywood, and his unbridled excitement over anything
that calls itself “independent,” no matter how convincingly he
makes the case that the term is essentially meaningless. He seems
so convinced that he’s right that he never backs up his pronouncements
with arguments: Hitchcock and Tarantino are slick and meaningless,
Charles Burnett and Su Friedrich are thoughtful and profound,
and that’s that.

As much as I agree with a great
deal of what Carney says; as much as I share his passion for
Cassavetes; as much as I admire his efforts to encourage artistic
adventurousness in his students and readers, I would say that
anyone who sees nothing but “empty stylistic virtuosity” in the
complete works of Alfred Hitchcock, or who confidently refers
to Citizen Kane as an early example of “postmodernism” (as
Carney did in a television documentary) should take a rest from
writing and speaking about cinema and re-examine his priorities.

—Kent Jones,
New York City

Errors and Omissions

In issue, #31 the film Bellyfruit is
said in our “Coming Attractions” column to have had its world
premiere at the Women in Cinema Film Festival in Seattle. Actually
the Seattle screening was a test screening with a work-in-progress
version of the film, according to Producer Bonnie Dickerson.
Also last issue, in the Artisan Films section of our “Winning
the Distribution Game” feature, director Roman Palanski’s name
teas misspelled, as was screenwriter David Koepp’s. And’David
Veloz, not Koepp, was the director and screenwriter of Permanent
Midnight
. MovieMaker regrets these errors. MM

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