Making Something is Easy, but it’s Not Enough | Echo Hub

“…it’s easier than ever to make something. But it’s as difficult as it ever was to make someone feel something.”

Scott McClellan writes a good article in EchoHub this week. If you are creative person, it’s easy to get caught up in the creative act or even the technology that makes it easier/cheaper to create (a real tendency in the filmmaking world) but forget about the long discipline of learning to tell good stories.

Scott writes:

So, it’s easier than ever to make something.

But it’s as difficult as it ever was to make someone feel something.

Our job as communicators is found in the difference between those two pursuits.

[And]

In other words, if I really want to be a filmmaker, I need to invest in more than just a camera. It’s easier than ever to make a video and publish it on the Internet, but it’s as difficult as ever to make a video that makes a difference.

Read the whole post here: Making Something is Easy, but it’s Not Enough | Echo Hub.

If you want to be creative, write for television – Sundance London

The Hollywood Reporter recently highlighted the challenges of indie filmmaking on both sides of the Pond these days.

A Hollywood Reporter article recently highlighted the challenges of indie filmmaking on both sides of the Pond these days. In the US, the studios continue to look for ‘safe’ material. In the UK, even government financing doesn’t solve all of the problems for filmmakers wanting to create more challenging films.

From a panel on the state of independent film at Sundance London, it sounds like depressing days for filmmakers trying to get ambitious work made and distributed in the US, and the UK. However, if you can avoid the siren’s song of theatrical release, you may be able to find a home for your creative vision.

While several panelists highlighted that the Oscars of late have seen many indies with leading numbers of nominations, [James Marsh (Man on Wire)] said the studio system in the U.S. has in many cases stopped consciously pursuing indie-type projects. “Narrative risky work has moved to TV,” and great filmmakers are finding freedom on television, he said. “A lot of good writing is done in American TV, too. The studios have given up on this.”

He said while “there are great films being made even in that system,” great scripts often don’t end up making it to the screen – or only in weakened form. “The system is just there doing what it’s doing. Great scripts…they will either ruin them or never do them.”

Mobile download for only .99 – Street Language film

Would you take a risk to save someone’s life? Check out our new short film, “Street Language”, now available for download and on DVD.

Would you take a risk to save someone’s life? Check out our new short film, “Street Language“, now available for download and on DVD. Click here to check it out.

First Festival Screening for “Street Language”

Green Bay Film Festival Logo

We’re pleased to begin our film festival run with Street Language screening at the upcoming Green Bay Film Festival, March 23-25. More news coming. If you’re in the area, check out this great festival. [Better attitudes, and you won’t get smashed by paparazzi like that other fest in Utah!]

 

Non-Filmmakers Learning From Woody Allen

What can entrepreneurs learn from Woody Allen? Apparently a lot!

What can entrepreneurs learn from Woody Allen? Apparently a lot! I was intrigued by this article on TechCrunch that lists 9 things non-filmmakers can learn from his career. Of course, as a filmmaker I have appreciated his films, both the hits and misses. He has remained independent and true to his own vision through 50 years and many earth-shaking culture shifts.

Woody AllenIt’s worth digging into the details, especially stories from different seasons of Mr. Allen’s career, his disdain of the Academy Awards hoopla, etc. But here’s an excerpt:

In today’s day and age, we want to transform decades of work into years or even months. Allen built up his career over five decades and kept at it persistently, even when scandal, or a bad movie, or a bad article, would cast gloom over his entire career. But he shrugged it off.

So what can we learn from Woody Allen?

  • Wake up early
  • Avoid distractions
  • Work three to five hours a day and then enjoy the rest of the day
  • Be as perfectionist as you can, knowing that imperfection will still rule
  • Have the confidence to be magical and stretch the boundaries of your medium.
  • Combine the tools of the medium itself with the message you want to convey
  • Don’t get stuck in the same rut – move forward, experiment, but with the confidence built up over experience.

The same can be said for successful entrepreneurs. Or for people who are successful in any aspect of life. Is Woody Allen a happy man? Who knows? But he’s done what he set out to do. He’s made movies. He’s told stories. He’s lived the dream, even when it bordered on nightmare.  I can only be so lucky.

Read the whole article, “9 Things Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Woody Allen”

The Tree of Life’s Invitation To Grace

Now out on DVD, Terrence Malick’s latest film, The Tree of Life, is an ambitious and evocative film that challenges viewers with a wide-ranging narrative that touches on deeply personal moments between family members and the biggest of all questions, the creation of the cosmos.

Now out on DVD, Terrence Malick’s latest film, The Tree of Life, is an ambitious and evocative film that challenges viewers with a wide-ranging narrative that touches on deeply personal moments between family members and the biggest of all questions, the creation of the cosmos. While some people find Malick’s work to be tedious, and inscrutable, I find The Tree of Life to be a compelling, if imperfect, examination of the deepest questions of life and relationships.

Malick introduces his thematic conflict of Grace vs. Nature in the persons of Mr. & Mrs. O’Brien, played by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. They are parents to three boys, growing up in the 1950s in small-town Texas. The film closely follows the life of the oldest, Jack, played beautifully by newcomer Hunter McCracken and, in middle age, by Sean Penn.

“There are two ways through life; the way of Nature and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.” With these words, Jack’s mother introduces her invitation to live in grace. She is a playful, warm, loving presence in the boys’ life. Contrasting this is Jack’s father’s point-of-view, that of Nature; “It takes fierce will to get ahead in this world.” He is a man consumed by frustration and disappointment. He is driven to fight for every scrap of ground, every rung on the ladder of success. And his mission is to instill his values in the lives of his boys, dismissing the way of grace espoused by their mother.

The unexpected death of R.L., the middle son, at age 19 sets the conflict in motion. This moment in time is explored briefly in the beginning of the film but the majority of the film is told in flashback to the sometimes idyllic, sometimes tempestuous childhood of Jack and his brothers. Older Jack (Sean Penn) is introduced as he attempts, now in middle age, to deal with the conflict and unresolved guilt from his childhood. Jack’s journey as a boy and as an adult is explained by Jack himself, “Father, Mother, always you wrestle inside me. Always you will.”

Malick’s brings this world to life in his typically lyric, evocative storytelling style. He makes liberal use of jump-cuts and repetition, and a floating, fluid camera. Long periods pass without dialogue, allowing the actors and their subtle expressions to convey what is happening. This style has its detractors and certainly demands more from an audience. However, I never found myself lost to the story, even when Malick inserts a lengthy montage, ambitiously taking us all the way back to the Big Bang (flashback-of-all-flashbacks!) Malick’s use of recurring images and sounds, the ocean, doorways, trees and light, contrasting modern steel architecture, create a beautiful visual and aural tapestry that invites multiple viewings.

Of course, a film that risks much and challenges its audience is bound to fall short at moments and have its detractors. The Creation Montage is one major aside that seems a bit long for its intended story purpose. I also questioned the passivity of the Protagonist, Jack. As a youth he is very active in boyish ways but seems compelled to act in ways that escalate into actual cruelty to his younger brother–the way of nature. Interestingly, he paraphrases St. Paul’s observation from the 7th chapter of Romans about doing the very thing he doesn’t want to do. As the adult Jack, Sean Penn spends most of the film looking tired and pensive. He never makes a decisive step to address the conflict.

On more reflection, I am oddly comforted that Jack is never forced to act, as an adult, in order to find forgiveness and grace. He is drawn to it by his mother and brother. They open a door and invite him to step through. Isn’t this really what grace is all about? Normally we say that a Protagonist must act, must choose, must risk. Malick seems to be saying, “No, grace can come to us in other ways.” This is truly Grace – unmerited favor rather than self-saving action. It’s not typical Hollywood, and it is a compelling message for us.