Films about making Films...

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.


TomH said...

Visions of Light is an excellent film! This a documentary that deserves sequels or additional chapters or volumes or, or... just more. Another good one is Cinematographer Style. There are no film clips, just tons of interviews, but it's great. The only problem with this film is that they don't let the cinematographers rattle on enough about what they do.

J Caswell said...

Of course you need to include: "Chuck Jones: Extremes and Inbetweens." Not a survey of different animators, but how a great director approached his work.

and Scorsese's "A Personal Journey through American Films." A great survey of his influences.

FYI the two disc version of Bullitt includes "The Cutting Edge."

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Chuck Jones there was also a great audio CD put out celebrating the work of Carl Stalling in the cration of the Warner Bros. cartoon scores. It includes some raw sequences with the orchestra stopping & starting and with Stalling gruffly putting them through their paces. Like the Bernard Herrmann score for Hitchcock, the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies owed so much to Stalling and suffered with his passing. Listening to the tracks from some of the classics - just the music on its own - the images of those characters and their antics, so obviously seared into the brain now, leap forward. You can just sit back, close your eyes - and laugh.