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Archive for the ‘Directors’ Category

Agnes Varda making first feature “La Pointe Courte”

Couldn’t resist that title.  In Chapter 8 of Moving Images, students explore the positions that correspond to the filmmaking tasks for which they have been developing skills throughout their work with the textbook.  These jobs have been in a pretty constant state of flux for a number of years as the processes of the digital media pipeline and business of media production continue to evolve and transform.

Recently a very interesting piece by Cara Buckley on gripping appeared in the New York Times: What is a Grip?  The Few Women Doing the Job in Hollywood Explain.”  Check out this article to find some answers along with insights and inspiration.

On a topic related to a core theme of this article, mediateacher.net notes the deeply sad news of the passing of Agnès Varda, one of the most important filmmakers of this era and a truly inspiring creator and visionary.

And to continue with another follow-up (related to the earlier references in multiple ways!) to working in the movie industry, here is an interview with Jessica Lee Gagné, the cinematographer of the stunningly shot Escape at Dannemora, a Showtime 7-part miniseries directed by Ben Stiller, released a few months ago to widespread acclaim.  Amazing work both behind and in front of the camera.

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One year ago, a mediateacher.net post shared a Black History Month Interactive Resource, which can be a useful start to exploring many culturally and artistically significant related to this theme from film history.  As a follow up, here is a related highlight from this year’s Academy Awards ceremony: Spike Lee receiving the award for Outstanding Adapted Screenplay (along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott) for BlacKkKlansman and delivering a passionate, dramatic acceptance speech that was rooted in his own personal history.  You can read it here.  For those interested in more about Ron Stallworth and the true story on which BlacKkKlansman is based, I recommend checking out this excellent Snap Judgment podcast.

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With more exciting news in our Resources category (such as the Prelinger Archives and Portraits of America posts this year), the Library of Congress has announced that the National Screening Room is now online and features extensive resources for media literacy education.  Many items from this vital national archive are now accessible to the general public and classrooms across the country (and world).  As noted in an article by CBS News, among its highlights are: the classic Edwin S. Porter short The Great Train Robbery (featured for study in Chapter 2), the 1953 feature The Hitch-Hiker by Ida Lupino (a prime director for study with Chapter 5), and a wide variety of diverse types of media such as advertisements, PSAs, and home movies that are discussed in such posts as What Exactly is that Movie? on mediateacher.net and in our investigations of motion picture language and screenwriting throughout Moving Images. 

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Still from Charles Burnett’s classic Killer of Sheep

For Black History Month, film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott of the New York Times have compiled an interactive list of culturally, artistically, and historically important motion pictures.  This resource is quite valuable and can also serve as a springboard for interesting discussion.  Along with the movies they have chosen — one per day for the month of February — there are many others noted in their comments and footnotes.  Many directors and other figures from film history who are featured in Moving Images, such as Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee, and Charles Burnett, are highlighted among the selections.

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Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to one of the true pioneers and master directors of cinema: Sergei Eisenstein.  In fact, the splash page illustration of Chapter 1 of Moving Images is inspired from one of Eisenstein’s most famous films, The Battleship Potemkin.  Funny enough, you can look to the last post on mediateacher.net to see a reference to the core of one of the key aspects of Eisenstein’s work and the innovations in editing that he and his peers were establishing in their work, montage style of editing and the meanings that can be forged through the relationships and juxtapositions of shots.  The example used there is expressed in the idea known as the Kuleshov Effect.  For more, here is a fine recent article on Eisenstein and another of his celebrated films, October, by Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian

And for a YouTube essay on the function and form of the Kuleshov Effect, check out this video by Folding Ideas.

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Are you in the process of working on developing blocking for action scenes?  Comedy?  What about both?  This excellent video from the YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting (by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos) focuses on the work of master filmmaker Jackie Chan, and it features some very revealing insights about his working process and unique approaches to directing and editing (and martial arts choreography, of course).  Of particular note are ways in which he creates scenes in his earlier work produced in Asia versus movies made in Hollywood.  A very fun and enlightening movie for film students.

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Among the very necessary debates and amidst the range of fallout that mediamakers have seen and are still to see from the New York Times investigative report on Harvey Weinstein and his subsequent fall from power as a movie studio executive, media students, educators, and professionals must sift through many perspectives and viewpoints.  I would like to highlight this op-ed by Sarah Polley that appeared today, The Men You Meet Making MoviesMs. Polley was the subject of an earlier post in mediateacher.net’s series on Women Mediamakers, Talking Stories: Portraits with Sarah Polley, which readers may wish to check out for further information on this important multi-talented creator.

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