It was nice to meet and mingle at the 4th Annual California Only Locations Trade Show this past weekend in Century City, California. Each booth featured a different region in California along with wine from that area to share with attendees. What I really loved about this trade show was the one on one time with different reps from each location. If you had a project you wanted to shoot in California you could look at all your options and get the inside scoop on what each location was highlighting and all the different looks of California.
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I recently attended a truly remarkable panel discussion titled “The Spirit of Independence: A Roundtable Discussion.” Included in the panel were three gifted independent film directors who recently directed three incredibly different films with three very different directing styles, however, despite their creative differences, when combined, their films are up for nine Academy Awards. For any independent film to be nominated it’s a dream, let alone being nominated multiple times. Writer/ Director Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), Writer/ Director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) and Director John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole) all agree that being nominated is something special. “It feels like luck,” said Granik. “There’s a lot of strong films that don’t travel down [ the Oscar ] path.” She admits that “directing is very humbling because you don’t know if you really nailed it.”
Cholodenko talked about self promoting an independent film because lack of funding. She admitted to doing as many press events as possible to give the film a voice. “It isn’t Billboards, its manpower,” says Cholodenko. All three directors agreed postproduction is where your film turns into something exceptional that you wouldn’t expect in production. It’s also the place to find the gem scenes/takes that you would have never expected. It was also interesting to learn that none of them storyboard before a shoot or have substantial rehearsal time with their cast. Cholodenko who worked with Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo on The Kids Are All Right and Mitchell who worked with Nicole Kidman on Rabbit Hole both agree it’s best to give the experienced actors the freedom to collaborate with the director on the scene with as few takes as possible because the more takes the less real it will look. It will be interesting come Sunday to see who takes home Oscar.
Photos by Dyana Carmella
I recently attended the first session of Film Independent’s annual Directors Close-up workshop at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles. The theme for the evening was Music and Sound in which Film Independent brought together an incredible panel including Director Matt Reeves (Let Me In and Cloverfield), Composer Micheal Giacchino (Let Me In and Up), Sound Designer/Sound Re-recording mixer Will Files ( Let Me In and Cloverfield), Supervising Sound Designer/ Sound Re-recording mixer Douglas Murray ( Let Me In, Cloverfield) and the moderator by Writer/Director James Gray ( Two Lovers, We Own the Night). The panelist dove deep into topics of sound and music and the role it played in making Cloverfield a thrilling cinematic ride. It was pointed out very early on there was no musical score in the film. Sound designers scored the film with high impact noises that kept you on the edge of your seat. Reeves wanted the film to feel as real as possible. “Sound was critical,” said Reeves. “Sound was going to fill in everything you didn’t see. The concept of Cloverfield was sound.”
Cloverfield was made on a strict budget and a majority of the money went into the visual effects. The filmmakers had to create a massive creature stomping through New York City without the audience actually visually seeing it. Clips of the film were shown then discussed by the panel. One particular clip I remembered was the scene the actors were in the underground subway and when the camera night vision was turned on, they realize they are surrounded by spider looking creatures all over the place. It was fascinating to learn that the sound the creatures made was nothing else than Reeves and his sound team at 3:00 am making loud noises then distorting them.
Will Files worked with Reeves on both Cloverfield and Let Me In, he mentioned, “Sound has a way of affecting you without you knowing you’re being affected.” The entire panel agreed that you want ideas to expand beyond just your vision. Directors need to input from the actors, sound designers and other s involved with a production because you will make a better film and ultimately tell a better story.