Best of 2014: 12 Articles to Sum Up the Year in MovieMaker

To ring in the new year here at MovieMaker, we’re doing a little bit of a 2014 in Review thing, which means we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite moments from the year that was (expect lists aplenty) over the next few days. While we’re looking outward at the cinema of 2014 starting tomorrow, today we’re celebrating ourselves, with 12 of our favorite articles from the past 12 months at the magazine.

2014 was yet another big year for MovieMaker: We welcomed new staff members (and new family members), completely revamped our website, and colonized a rainy little city in the Pacific Northwest for a brand new MovieMaker outpost (hello Portland!). We also set a new record for the number of people on any one cover of the magazine (with Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Bennett Miller gracing our Fall 2014 issue).

Chances are you read most of these stories when they were first published (many of them appeared in our five 2014 issues), but if you missed them, consider this some gentle nagging. This list by no means exhausts the range of content we put out last year, but they do represent the fruition of our goals at MovieMaker: to provide the independent community with the bestmost broad-minded, most transparentinformation we can on the insanely difficult, insanely joyous endeavor we call our profession.

2014 Covs

1) Park City 2014: 10 Breakthrough Moviemakers from Sundance, by MM Editors

“These names represent, for us—induced by the festival’s chaos into a heightened subjectivity, not to mention the inevitable lacunae amongst our coverage—the happiest discoveries to be made in the trenches of Park City.”

Justin Simien, Desiree Akhavan, Sean Porter: a few of the artists who stood out above the crowd in last year’s Park City cocktail reception-come-rollercoaster ride. We promise you’ll be hearing their names for years to come. Who will make it onto our list in 2015? Find out in a month.

2) 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, 2014 by Alexandra Eide with Kelly Leow

From Columbia, MO to Cardiff, Wales, this was our annual attempt to make sense of the dense, perilous jungle that is the festival circuit. All year round, readers told us that this list directly resulted in some of the best festival screenings of their careers. Did you submit to any of the fests? Share your stories with us now, as we gear up for this year’s list!

3) How They Did It: The Incredible But True Story of Blue Ruin, by Jeremy Saulnier

“Bullshitting colleagues is a terrible thing to do and I don’t recommend doing it. But with a darkened expression and an ulcerating stomach, I lied. Of course we’re fully funded!

Copy (2) of Blue Ruin Poster

Jeremy Saulnier takes us on the thrilling, exasperating, all-too-relatable epic journey of how he became, as he puts it, “that shithead who won the Indie Film Lotto” when his feature Blue Ruin got accepted into Cannes and released by RADiUS-TWC. Highlights include manipulating IMDb profiles, emptying retirement accounts, re-financing a house, and shooting exploding heads in 1080P. Was it all worth it? He seems to think so, and we do, too.

4) Things I’ve Learned: Guy Maddin’s Five Tips for Making a Silent Film, by Guy Maddin

“Actors should have expressive fingers—real, artificial or even missing!—for fingers represent up to 10 more tongues, each capable of expressing a thought or a throb.”

The Toronto Urban Film Festival, a showcase of one-minute-long silent shorts, hosted director Guy Maddin as guest judge in 2014, and we persuaded him to pen some advice for making silent films. We were subsequently delighted when his tips took the form of this lyrical ode to the aesthetic dimensions of the human body. (Plus, we got to feature three of our favorite entries from the festival!)

5) The 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World 2014, by MM Editors

What is a cool film festival? This fall we decided to open that conversation up to the floor, enlisting the help of seven hip expert panelists who broke it down for us. The result? A list of 25 venues we’re already making travel arrangements to attend in 2015. There’s enough fun, soul, and impeccable programming taste in these fests to make for the best outside-the-b0x film experiences of your life. Warning: One side effect of reading the list is a sudden craving for pies, dim sum and fried chicken.

6) MovieMaker‘s Third Annual Guide to Digital Distribution, by Erin Trahan

Transparency, transparency, transparency: That is our mandate when compiling our VOD distribution guide, and every year we chip away a little bit more off the veneer surrounding the digital landscape. 2014 saw the addition of some new platforms, like Fandor and Pivotshare, and said farewell to a couple from years past (goodbye, Chill). With VOD looming larger in the exhibition business with every passing month, it’s increasingly essential for indie moviemakers to know the rules of the game. Use our research to get whatever leg up you can.

7) The 50-Year Road Trip: Kelly Reichardt on Night Moves, by Josh Ralske

“I need to be pulled back sometimes, making sure I don’t overstate stuff. Maybe that’s surprising looking at the films, but I could, left to my own devices…I could get into danger.”

We had a great many interviews with cinema’s leading luminaries in 2014, from Richard Linklater to Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione, editors of Birdman, but few filmmakers were as generous with their insights as Kelly Reichardt. The Night Moves director opened up with remarkable self-deprecating candor about, well, everything: her style of collaboration with actors and longtime writing partner Jon Raymond; the unique position she occupies on the fringe of American cinema; the early influence of her father’s profession and where she grew up; the frustrations and sacrifices that all independent filmmakers must get to know.

8) Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker, 2014, by Mark Sells

Ten big cities, five small cities, and five towns made up our 20 best locations across the U.S. for making movies and making a lifewith top honors going to Chicago, New Orleans and Asheville respectively. While waiting for this year’s list to be released (in just a few weeks!), see how your hometown fared in our rankings last year, and daydream about moving across the country.

9) Horror Stories: Examining the Business of Genre Filmmaking, by David Grove

“A movie we had made for just under $100,000 had generated over a million dollars in the U.S., and it still wasn’t profitable.”

Copy of JT Petty Hellbenders_Tweaked-1205

Horror’s finest, from Larry Fessenden to Eduardo Sanchez, explained the current lay of the land for a genre once considered a surefire financial bet. Scary stories converge with even scarier bottom lines – but is there hope for aspiring Jason Blums out there?

10) Can Your Movie Change the World? The Activism in Film Guide for Social Issue Moviemakers, by Beth Portello

Cinema Libre’s Beth Portello dove into the heart of the challenge of cinematic activism: How do we knowreally know—what difference our films are making in the world? We looked for answers everywhere: from films like The Invisible War, The Cove, Bully, and Super Size Me, to agencies like BritDoc, Active Voice, and the Fledgling Fundand even turned to heavyweights like Oliver Stone and Errol Morris. What emerged was part call-to-arms, part sociological study, and we’re proud to call it our own.

11) Know Thyself: Ana Lily Amirpour on the Question “Why” and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, by Ana Lily Amirpour

“The whole endeavor of filmmaking is very much like sex. There’s a certain basic anatomy, certain parts that fit in certain places, but no two people do it the same, and you can’t learn it ’til you do it.”

Copy of Ana Lily Amirpour

Photograph by Myrna Suarez

The year’s boldest new director delivers philosophical advice to aspiring moviemakers, straight from her heart (while wearing a David Lynch shirt and a coolly confrontational stare, as if to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the biggest bad-ass in town).

12) Selling Out with Soul: Career Advice from Mark Duplass, by Kelly Leow

“Jay and I do rewrite work on big Hollywood movies, so like Robin Hood, we pilfer from that and put that into independent filmmaking. We’re becoming a weird bastardized version of a studio.”

Mark Duplass, a.k.a. hero to indies everywhere, lays out his plans for total world domination. And by “total world domination,” we mean “manipulating the Hollywood/indie system to come out on top of both.” MM

Check out 2013 in Review here.

Feature illustration by Nicole Miles.

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