Filmmaker, Video Editor, Motion Graphics Designer, and Photographer in Cairo, Egypt.
Keeping notes to remember.. You may consider it some sort of Documentation.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Movies (4) - Actors: Can an Actor Really Be Shy?

Few points I liked from Sidney Lumet's book, "Making Movies".
1) The Director: The Best Job in the World
2) The Script: Are Writers Necessary?
3) Style: The Most Misused Word Since Love

# Actors are performing artists, and performing artists are complex people. 
# The talent of acting is one in which the actor’s thoughts and feelings are instantly communicated to the audience. In other words, the “instrument” that an actor is using is himself. It is his feelings, his physiognomy, his sexuality, his tears, his laughter, his anger , his romanticism, his tenderness, his viciousness, that are up there on the screen for all to see. That’s not easy. In fact, quite often it’s painful. 
# I don’t want life reproduced up there on the screen. I want life created. The difference lies in the degree of the actor’s personal revelation. 
# I will say to the actors, “Go as far as you feel. Do as much or as little as you want to. If you feel it, let it fly. Don’t worry whether it’s the right emotion or the wrong one. We’ll find out. That’s what rehearsals are for. But minimally, talk to each other and listen to each other. Don’t worry about losing your place in the script as long as you’re really talking and listening to each other. Try to pick up on what you just heard. 
# With beginning students, Sanford Meisner spent the first month or six weeks getting them to really talk and listen to one another. That’s all. It’s the great common denominator where different acting styles and techniques meet. 
# A pickup is where you begin a new take at the point where the old take was interrupted. 
# Everything about actors and movie acting is in that story. The use of self at whatever cost, the self-knowledge, the confidence that a director and actor have to develop in each other, the devotion to a text (Marlon never questioned the words), the dedication to the work, the craft.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Making Movies (3) - Style: The Most Misused Word Since Love

Few points I liked from Sidney Lumet's book, "Making Movies".
1) The Director: The Best Job in the World
2) The Script: Are Writers Necessary?


# Making a movie has always been about telling a story. Some movies tell a story and leave you with a feeling. Some tell a story and leave you with a feeling and give you an idea. Some tell a story, leave you with a feeling, give you an idea, and reveal something about yourself and others. And surely the way you tell that story should relate somehow to what that story is. 

# Because that’s what style is: the way you tell a particular story. 

# After the first critical decision (“What’s this story about?”) comes the second most important decision: “Now that I know what it’s about, how shall I tell it?” And this decision will affect every department involved in the movie that is about to be made. 

# There are four primary forms of storytelling—tragedy, drama, comedy, and farce. No category is absolute. 

# What I always try to determine is the general area where I think the picture belongs, because the first step in finding the style is to start narrowing down the choices I’ll have to make. 

# Someone once asked me what making a movie was like. I said it was like making a mosaic. Each setup is like a tiny tile. You color it, shape it, polish it as best you can. You’ll do six or seven hundred of these, maybe a thousand. (There can easily be that many setups in a movie.) Then you literally paste them together and hope it’s what you set out to do. But if you expect the final mosaic to look like anything, you’d better know what you’re going for as you work on each tiny tile.

Making Movies (2) - The Script: Are Writers Necessary?

Few points I liked from Sidney Lumet's book, "Making Movies".
1) The Director: The Best Job in the World

# I ask scriptwriter the same questions I’ve asked myself: What is this story about? What did you see? What was your intention? Ideally, if we do this well, what do you hope the audience will feel, think, sense? In what mood do you want them to leave the theater?

# We are two different people trying to combine our talents, so it’s critical that we agree on the intention of the screenplay. Under the best of circumstances, what will emerge is a third intention, which neither of us saw at the beginning. Under the worst of circumstances, an agonizing process of cross-purposes can occur, which will result in something aimless, muddy, or just plain bad winding up on the screen.

# Once we’ve agreed on the all important question “What’s this picture about?” we can start in on the details. First comes an examination of each scene—in sequence, of course. Does this scene contribute to the overall theme? How? Does it contribute to the story line? To character? Is the story line moving in an ever increasing arc of tension or drama? In the case of a comedy, is it getting funnier? Is the story being moved forward by the characters? In a good drama, the line where characters and story blend should be indiscernible.

# In drama, the characters should determine the story.

# In melodrama, the story determines the characters. Melodrama makes story line its highest priority, and everything is subservient to story.

# Inevitability doesn’t mean predictability. The script must still keep you off balance, keep you surprised, entertained, involved, and yet, when the denouement is reached, still give you the sense that the story had to turn out that way.

# From a scene-by-scene breakdown, we move on to a line-by-line examination. Is the line of dialogue necessary? Revelatory? Is it saying it in the best possible way.

# It’s also important that as director I understand each and every line. There’s nothing more embarrassing than an actor asking the meaning of a line and the director not knowing the answer.

# A character should be clear from his present actions. And his behavior as the picture goes on should reveal the psychological motivations.

# Dialogue is like anything else in movies. It can be a crutch, or when used well, it can enhance, deepen, and reveal.

# What do I owe the writer? A thorough investigation and then a committed execution of his intentions.

Making Movies - The Director: The Best Job in the World

Few points I liked from Sidney Lumet's book, "Making Movies".


# There’s no right or wrong way to direct a movie.

# There are no minor decisions in moviemaking. Each decision will either contribute to a good piece of work or bring the whole movie crashing down around my head many months later.

# The first decision, of course, was whether to do the movie. I don’t analyze a script as I read it for the first time. I just sort of let it wash over me. Sometimes it happens with a book. I read Prince of the City in book form and knew I desperately wanted to make a movie of it. I also make sure that I have the time to read a script straight through. A script can have a very different feeling if reading it is interrupted, even for half an hour. The final movie will be seen uninterrupted, so why should reading the script for the first time be any different?

# There are many reasons for accepting a movie. I’m not a believer in waiting for “great” material that will produce a “masterpiece.” What’s important is that the material involve me personally on some level. And the levels will vary.

# For anyone who wants to direct but hasn’t made a first movie yet, there is no decision to make. Whatever the movie, whatever the auspices, whatever the problems, if there’s a chance to direct, take it! Period. Exclamation point! The first movie is its own justification, because it’s the first movie.

# I’ve been talking about why I decided to do a particular movie. Now comes the most important decision I have to make: What is this movie about? I’m not talking about plot, although in certain very good melodramas the plot is all they’re about. And that’s not bad. A good, rousing, scary story can be a hell of a lot of fun. But what is it about emotionally? What is the theme of the movie, the spine, the arc? What does the movie mean to me? Personalizing the movie is very important. I’m going to be working flat out for the next six, nine, twelve months. The picture had better have some meaning to me. Otherwise, the physical labor (very hard indeed) will become twice as exhausting. The word “meaning” can spread over a very wide range.

# The question “What is this movie about?” will be asked over and over again throughout the book. For now, suffice it to say that the theme (the what of the movie) is going to determine the style (the how of the movie). The theme will decide the specifics of every selection made in all the following chapters. I work from the inside out. What the movie is about will determine how it will be cast, how it will look, how it will be edited, how it will be musically scored, how it will be mixed, how the titles will look, and, with a good studio, how it will be released. What it’s about will determine how it is to be made.

# I don’t know how to choose work that illuminates what my life is about. I don’t know what my life is about and don’t examine it. My life will define itself as I live it. The movies will define themselves as I make them. As long as the theme is something I care about at that moment, it’s enough for me to start work. Maybe work itself is what my life is about.

# Having decided, for whatever reason, to do a movie, I return to that all-encompassing, critical discussion: What is the movie about? Work can’t begin until its limits are defined, and this is the first step in that process. It becomes the riverbed into which all subsequent decisions will be channeled.

#Rightly or wrongly, I’ve chosen a theme for the movie. How do I pick the people who can help me translate it to the screen?

# But how much in charge am I? Is the movie un Film de Sidney Lumet? I’m dependent on weather, budget, what the leading lady had for breakfast, who the leading man is in love with. I’m dependent on the talents and idiosyncrasies, the moods and egos, the politics and personalities, of more than a hundred different people. And that’s just in the making of the movie. At this point I won’t even begin to discuss the studio, financing, distribution, marketing, and so on.

# So how independent am I? Like all bosses—and on set, I’m the boss —I’m the boss only up to a point. And to me that’s what’s so exciting. I’m in charge of a community that I need desperately and that needs me just as badly. That’s where the joy lies, in the shared experience. Anyone in that community can help me or hurt me. For this reason, it’s vital to have the best creative people in each department. People who can challenge you to work at your best, not in hostility but in a search for the truth.

# Tension never helps anything. Any athlete will tell you that tension is a sure way of hurting yourself.

# It’s obvious that good talents have wills of their own, and these must be respected and encouraged.

# Part of my job is to get everybody functioning at his best.

Tips For Social Media Marketing

Do you know why most people fail miserably at social media marketing? Because they don’t really get what it’s all about. Social media is not about pushing “spammy” sales pitches down your customers’ throats. Social media marketing is all about making friends and creating genuine, authentic relationships. However, making friends can lead to future sales.

People like doing business with their friends. If your toilet breaks and one of your friends is a janitor, you’ll ask him to fix it. If you don’t have any janitor friends, then you ask your friends if they know a janitor they trust. People do business with their friends for
two reasons:
  • They get a better service, price, deal, etc.
  • They give money to people they care about.

How can you apply this principle to social media marketing?
  1. Make sure your social media profiles say what you do and link to your site.
  2. Make friends. Discover your target market and start talking to those people. Don’t sell them anything - just make friends with them and check out their status updates. What are they doing? Is there anything you can help with? Are they asking questions you can answer or looking for something you can give them?
  3. After a few interactions, something very interesting will happen. They will ask you the BIG question: “What do you do for a living?” Just tell them what you do, but don’t make it sound like you are trying to sell them something. This is where your elevator speech comes into play. This is my elevator speech: “I help companies get thousands of qualified visitors for their websites.” Create an elevator speech and be ready to share it when people ask you what you do for a living.
  4. People will add you to their “mental Rolodex:” Joan P. - Highend catering services, Marty K. - Real estate agent, etc.
  5. When they need a real estate agent, they will call Marty. They will also recommend Marty to anyone who needs a real estate agent (assuming that Marty took the time to build strong relationships with his contacts instead of trying to sell his services).
At seminars, people ask me all the time: “If you could give me only one piece of advice about social media marketing, what would it be?” I tell them to be generous. Give, give and give some more, and a lot of doors will open for them as a result. It’s all about “give before you take.”

References: The Internet Marketing Bible by Zeke Camusio

Thursday, March 6, 2014