Danny Boyle recently took a few moments to discuss the current state of cinema. His comments address the lack of “sophisticated, complex and pleasurable movies” being made for adult audiences today. Like Steven Soderbergh last month, Boyle is reflecting a growing sense of dissatisfaction within the ranks of the movie-making and movie-watching community.
Steven Soderbergh delivered an impressive speech on “The State of Cinema” at this year’s San Francisco Film Festival. Soderbergh begins by separating films into two classes: cinema and movies. Unfortunately, as Soderbergh points out, “cinema” is an endangered species. The drive of his speech is devoted to asking the question: why?
Great opening movie scenes usually satisfy several audience needs or demands. They are entertaining. They are emotionally engaging. And they establish an honest “contract with the audience.” That is, they lay ground rules for the experience the filmmaker is promising to deliver, in terms of tone, style and content. This contract does not mislead, over-reach or promise something the movie will not deliver.
Apart from students of technique or cultural context, Robert Bresson’s movies tend not to connect with larger audiences. Nor do they seem timeless. Some need to be seen more than once for a proper understanding and appreciation. Modern audiences are likely to find his films boring or little engaging. In our quest to understand how to make great movies, we ask: why? Below are five Bresson traits that make audience enjoyment difficult:
David Fincher always makes an effort to include creative title sequences in his projects. For “House of Cards” the director picked Andrew Geraci, owner of District 7 Media, to shoot a complex time-lapse sequence of Washington DC. In a recent interview, Geraci talked about working with Fincher:
No filmmaker sets out to make a bad movie. When a movie is bad, then, it is usually not from a lack of trying. Instead, it is more the product of a disconnect between how a filmmaker thinks an audience will respond and what actually works. Below is a list of some common filmmaking techniques that are surefire ways to lose audience interest.
I always look forward to Boyle’s movies. His choices concerning subject, music and style are exciting and unique. Also, the man knows how to construct a story: he spent years honing his craft in T.V. (“Inspector Morse”) before he was given the chance to direct a movie. Below is a nice interview with Boyle, courtesy of the DP/30 team. I found the description of his process interesting, especially how he caps his budgets at around $20 million.
Steven Soderbergh makes an interesting observation about great movies on his commentary track for “The Third Man.” The commentary discusses Carol Reed, the film’s director. Reed had directed 16 films and enjoyed critical and commercial success before he made “The Third Man.” Yet, for a filmmaker with so much experience, Reed worked very slowly on set.
Akira Kurosawa struggled to secure financing for many of his movies. As a result, he was forced to endure long, frustrating periods of waiting. However, rather than waste the time, Kurosawa put his energy into creating storyboards. Storyboards tend to be hand-drawn scribbles, because most filmmakers are limited by their crude drawing ability. But Kurosawa had a secret-weapon: he began his career as a painter. This training allowed him to create beautiful and unique storyboard paintings.
Stanley Kubrick was honoured with the D.W. Griffith Award for lifetime achievement in 1997. Because Stanley was in the middle of production on “Eyes Wide Shut”, he recorded his acceptance speech and sent it to the DGA. In the video below, Stanley’s wife, Christiane, remembers how Stanley prepared for the speech and how he felt after he saw it on T.V.