Filmmaking Tips

  • Time to learn some filmmaking lessons from the man behind Topsy Turvy, Vera Drake and more....

  • Ava DuVernay does not possess a romantic view of filmmaking or the film industry. The former publicist admits to never having considered filmmaking as a career growing up and did not make her first short film “until” her early 30s. In the ten years since, she’s helmed a bevy of...

  • Michael Mann‘s films are sexy, cool, gritty, slick, angry and sometimes neon. He’s a filmmaker who is often eager to teach us the true meaning of heartache, and plenty of 80s and 90s kids owe professional directing careers to his stylistic pathfinding. Not to mention everyone who loved Drive. He’s also...

  • Though Xavier Dolan’s home of origin shares a border with the US, and his home of Montreal is mere hours away from the arthouse hub of New York City, his films have had something of a limited theatrical lifetime in the United States. To date, his widest release is 2010’s...

  • The phrase “actor’s director” is thrown around a great deal, but there have been very few directors who knew how to work with actors quite like Mike Nichols. A former student of Lee Strasburg and a fervent believer in the revelatory power of improvisation, Nichols has directed some of the...

  • Jean-Luc Godard’s career has been devoted to both honoring and destroying cinema, to taking it apart and refitting it anew, and to making it speak against those who most often speak for it. Godard’s film’s have addressed a wide range of subjects – from Vietnam to prostitution to revolution to...

  • Ken Russell had very little patience for the idea that one should honor tradition, and that is a major factor that mobilized his work. His best films were fascinated by the subject of tradition, namely a need to deconstruct of them. Russell subverted, parodied, critiqued and tore apart everything from...

  • In 1986, Stephen King staged a challenge to the many respected directors who had envisioned his famous books as films: he posited that a horror writer could best any horror director given their supposedly unique relationship to the subject matter. The result of this challenge was the insanely entertaining but not at...

  • Tobe Hooper is deservedly recognized for making one of the most consequential, game changing titles in horror film history. Few horror movies, then or now, match the raw, urgent dread of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But the well-earned primacy of that film obscures a career that grew notably diverse...

  • It’s been nearly ten years since David Lynch released a film, but the director seems to have etched himself into a permanent place in cinematic topicality. Even without the new releases of Twin Peaks and Eraserhead on Criterion, Lynch’s work is an eternal point of entry for cinephiles, a means of accessing...

  • If there are two words that describe public appreciation of William Greaves, they would be “belated” and “lacking.” The film Greaves is best known for, 1971’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, didn’t see an official theatrical release until thirty years after its completion (thanks in part to the support of Steve Buscemi and Steven...

  • James Gunn made the movie that ruled the summer, which is really fucking weird. Not because he isn’t talented (because he is), but because his rise to prominence doesn’t make mathematical sense. The odds were astronomical. To think about it in the worst way possible, Lloyd Kaufman — the founder...

  • As many successful American filmmakers who get their start in independent filmmaking quickly find themselves comfortable in Hollywood studios, Jim Jarmusch feels like the anachronism that the economics of filmmaking rarely find room for but the culture of cinema certainly needs. After making the No Wave-era Permanent Vacation on the seemingly...

  • The 1980s proved a difficult time for many notable American directors of the 1960s and 70s. Sure, filmmakers like Altman and Coppola came out on the other side of the decade with renewed vigor, and at least one – Scorsese – even managed to arguably realize some of the most interesting...

  • Shirley Clarke grew up wealthy, the daughter of a manufacturing magnate and a family fortune. She had an extensive education between four universities, and married to escape her father’s tyrannical control of her adult life. At first Clarke pursued modern dance in New York City but, failing to secure a...

  • James Gray seems like an anachronism. Between visually noisy blockbusters and indies that display a greater interest in bending narrative conventions rather than mastering them, his adherence to a more classical form of storytelling feels out-of-touch with contemporary filmmaking practice. His evident influences and forerunners include Robert Bresson, Roberto Rossellini and Francis...

  • The release of any Terry Gilliam film is a big deal. More so than any living filmmaker of lauded repute, Gilliam’s work has been unusually burdened by outsized circumstances that render it astonishing that he’s even accomplished the work he has, from Universal’s re-cutting of Brazil to his lead actor dying...

  • When the biggest movie of the calendar year is a nearly three-hour festival of noise starring automotive robots, it’s easy to fear that the human element of filmmaking is slowly being lost to digital effects and bottom line corporate interests. But the career of Andy Serkis provides a powerful demonstration...

  • There’s a reason that, 33 years after its release, John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London remains a gold standard in on-camera special effects. The detailed and inventive use of makeup and animatronics by Rick Baker and his team meticulously fashioned a transformative threat to one man’s body that proved to be enduringly...

  • Three weeks before Alain Resnais died this past March, he had premiered his newest film, Life of Riley, at the Berlin Film Festival, which he completed at the age of 91. Resnais enjoyed a uniquely prolific streak of filmmaking in his later years that laughed at the prospect of retirement...