Download the Director Commentary for Knives Out and then Go See it Again!

Posted on December 31, 2019 at 11:35 am

Writer/director Rian Johnson has made his commentary on “Knives Out” available for free download. Take it with you on your phone and listen (quietly) when you see it again.

Copyright 2019 Lionsgate
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Behind the Scenes Directors

Women Directors Make Unprecedented Progress

Posted on October 9, 2019 at 4:08 pm

Variety notes the significant and unprecedented progress made by women directors this year. The #metoo and #timesup initiatives have made a difference, for the first time resulting in systemic changes.

In January, Stacy L. Smith — the founder of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which tracks representation in front of and behind the camera — published a report about female film directors. Her findings could not have been more bleak. Of the 112 directors behind the 100 top-grossing movies of 2018, only 3.6% were women. Even worse, that number was down from the year before, when women represented 7.3% of the top 100. To emphasize the blighted landscape, Smith and her research team put their key finding in bold: “The percentage of female directors has not changed over time.”

Ten months later, based on the year’s releases so far and what’s still to come, Smith is making a wholly different declaration. “It looks for 2019 like at least 12 movies — which is an all-time high — will be directed by women across the top 100 films,” Smith says. That number could go as high as 14, she adds….Yes, there has been progress, with movies like “Captain Marvel” (co-directed by Anna Boden) and “Hustlers” (Lorene Scafaria) leading the charge at the box office. Still to come this year are “Frozen 2” (directed by Jennifer Lee) — sure to be a blockbuster — Elizabeth Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels” reboot and prestige films that may also be hits, such as Kasi Lemmons’ “Harriet,” Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Gerwig’s “Little Women” and — for once — quite a few more.

Given that the percentage of women directors has fluctuated year to year, it may be too soon to declare a sea change. But Smith maintains that in looking ahead to 2020, this year’s numbers aren’t just a blip. “2019 won’t be a one-off,” she says. “We’re moving — finally — in the right direction, toward more inclusion behind the camera.”

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Directors Gender and Diversity

Bilge Ebiri Gets “Ad Astra” Director James Gray to Explain Some Stuff

Posted on September 25, 2019 at 6:40 pm

“Ad Astra” director James Gray’s conversation with New York Magazine critic Bilge Ebiri about filmmaking as as (maybe more) fascinating as the film itself. Ebiri writes:

Gray himself is among the sincerest of interview subjects, a man who will openly discuss what he was trying to accomplish with certain scenes in his pictures, as well as whether he thinks he achieved it or not. He’s also kind of like the world’s most entertaining film professor, a constant fount of movie references who will happily break down some of the classics to explain how they work. Over the course of our conversation, he did both, opening up about his career, his mistakes, his favorite movies, and the challenges of making Ad Astra.

Copyright 20th Century Fox
An excerpt from one of his answers:

You kind of make the same movie over and over again, but in a different guise, because you change. I’m a different person than I was when I made my first film. And so that takes care of the films feeling different. You just try to focus on what it is you care about. I was very interested in fathers and sons. I’m not estranged from my father, thank heavens. But all relationships between father and son are very complicated relationships. Of course, with mother and son, and mother and daughter, and father and daughter … it’s all fraught, no matter how good we think it is. That makes drama. And it’s a shorthand. If I say to you, “Tommy and his friend, Bob …,” well, I have to go through hoops to explain to you that relationship. Why are they friends? When did they meet? What’s the nature? Does one look up to the other? But in a movie, if I say “fathers and sons,” you know exactly what I’m saying. There is a baggage.

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Directors

Interview with the Women Behind the Netflix Series “Unbelievable”

Posted on September 17, 2019 at 8:00 am

“Unbelievable” is the stunning new Netflix limited series based on the real-life case of a young woman who told the police she had been raped, and then, when they decided she was not telling the truth, she was charged with filing a false report.  Three years later, due to the dedication of two police detectives in another state, the rapist was arrested, with incontrovertible evidence showing that the young woman had been telling the truth.

The series is based on an award winning article from Pro Publica.

For the Alliance of Women Film Journalists website, I interviewed three women behind the series, producer Sarah Timberman, writer/director Susannah Grant, and director Lisa Cholodenko.

An excerpt:

What made you decide that this needed to be a series rather than a feature film or, or a small screen rather than big screen?

Grant: It was less size of screen and, and more scope of storytelling that is made possible in eight episodes. We briefly, maybe I was the only one who briefly thought about the two hour form just because I’ve lived there for a while. But there’s just so much to unpack in this story and so many interesting ideas to flesh out. You just never would have had the time to really play out in a feature film. Just that first episode is almost an hour and you need every minute of it. You feel the impact of both the medical exam and then the police examination and it’s the real time quality of the first episode that I think is part of its strength. And I think if you had to truncate that and fit it into 10 minutes of a film or 15 minutes of a film it wouldn’t have the same impact. Really early on there were just so many things that we were excited about exploring within it. They’re all introduced in that great article. I think it became pretty clear and the reach of what Netflix is able to do with their limited series tremendous. We will be in 190 countries on Friday. There was a nice review that praises the show for showing, not telling. You couldn’t express the tenacity of those two detectives in a feature film. I think that dead ends that they hit are as interesting as finding the rapist. The false leads are as interesting as the things that become legitimate and you couldn’t possibly go down all those avenues if you’re trying to tell the story in a film. Life doesn’t fit into that kind of narrative structure and this piece reflects life.

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Directors Interview Writers

Interview: the Director and Technical Advisor of “Angel Has Fallen”

Posted on August 23, 2019 at 9:06 am

For The Credits, I interviewed Ric Roman Waugh and former Secret Service Assistant Director Mickey Nelson about “Angel Has Fallen.” Excerpts:

Ric Roman Waugh: Gerard Butler and I have known each other for a number of years and been wanting to work together, and we talked about a number of things. And then I got a call out of the blue about doing the third installment of his Fallen franchise. What Gerard wanted to do was to take the action and the spectacle of the first two movies and send it to new directions and basically make more of an origin story. I love that idea.

So the idea was to not do an event-style plot of the White House being taken in Olympus Has Fallen, or the world leaders being assassinated in London Has Fallen. This movie is about Mike and it shows a day in the life of service. And also the complications that come with that and the heroism and the addictions to the job. You know it’s very much like what our military community or the first responders and law enforcement go through, or even if you think about it, professional athletes.

Mickey Nelson: Most of the Secret Service men and woman that retire go on to do something else–like now I try to do projects like this, so that is a challenge. Luckily you train all along the way, not just initially when you go into the Secret Service. So I think that really helps you adjust. You realize that you can’t stay on all of the time so you inject, as Ric always talks about, a lot of levity. You will see some levity, in the movie. I use that still to this day quite a bit as you probably have noticed. So that’s kind of what helps me deescalate.

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Behind the Scenes Directors Interview
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