Lately I've been exploring some films that deal with the art of filmmaking. The following is a small list of films are currently available.
1. Visions of Light - A film about cinematography that touches on the changes in the craft from the beginnings to the 1990's. Many great examples and many terrific cinematographers and their work. I would love to learn more about James Wong Howe... an immigrant Chinese photographer - a terrific artist and a wonderful story).
2. Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann - What a treasure this film is! It provides some biographical details of Herrmann's life but more importantly, it explores his indelible impact on film music. The film features interviews with the late David Raskin and Elmer Bernstein. There are great passages where Herrmann's scores are deconstructed giving the viewer a window into the composers methods.
This film also features a scene that Herrmann scored for Hitchcock's 'Torn Curtain'. They play it with and without the score...
As another part of the series, The Hollywood Sound explores the change in style from old Hollywood to the modern day and features a rerecording of Raskin's Academy Award winning score for "Laura".
3. The Cutting Edge - A film about the craft of film editing. It explores the craft of editing through many artisans including one of the greats, Walter Murch.
I have been working on film scripts with my writing students over the last few weeks and one of my biggest comments has been "write the edits". Think like the editor. Think in cuts. Think in the juxtaposition of words and images... images and images. That's how you write a film.
4. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse - Based on Eleanor Coppola's book 'Notes' and her documentary footage from the production, Hearts of Darkness is unparalleled in it's uncompromising view of the filmmaking process. Not to be missed.
5. Burden of Dreams - An account of the filming of Werner Herzog's 'Fitzcarraldo'. Herzog is one of the most engaging and talented artists working in film today. Uncompromising, daring and magnificent. I love his quote "I want viewers to be able to trust their eyes again"... He is a fearless artist.
Feel free to comment and add more to this list. I did watch 'Cinematography Style' in thinking of this post and I found it terribly ironic. It is a documentary about Cinematographers that, although beautifully shot, was just a series of quickly cut talking heads. Was there no room for a breath and an exploration of visuals? Sponsored by Kodak and Panavision, the film felt more like a public relations piece than a real exploration of the art and craft of cinema photography.