Film Techniques of Alfred Hitchcock

"Hitch" is one of the most famous directors of all time. Most people have probably seen one of his films at some time. He was "Sir Alfred" for a brief four months before his death in 1980. He also produced and hosted the television anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1965, although he only actually directed a handful of the show's episodes. Many of his films are adaptations of novels or short stories.
Independent film director Jeffrey Michael Bays, a life-long fan of Alfred Hitchcock, has compiled this article to further spread the brilliant simplicity of Hitchcock's creative genius.

How to Turn Your Boring Movie Into a Hitchcock Thriller
Filmmakers and critics alike have rejoiced at this simplified encyclopedia of film director Alfred Hitchcock's techniques. From his notorious sequences seen from the character's viewpoint, to the collage of the Psycho shower scene, and the linear simplicity of his plots, this list of his top 13 techniques is compiled directly from his interviews.

Humor: Hitchcock's Secret Weapon
With a balance of laughs and tension, Hitchcock was able to strike the perfect chord of suspense in his feature films. This article shines light on an often ignored aspect of his style: his directorial wit. It is his quirky characters, ironic situations, whimsical settings, and deliberate gags that raise his films to an unmatched Hitchcockian brilliance.

Message in a Booth: Arbogast's Last Words
One scene in the 1960 thriller Psycho creates a forward momentum of suspense throughout the final Act. Here we explore the phone call Arbogast makes from a phone both in his final hours. The Telephone Booth Scene is a simple one of construction lasting less than two minutes of screen time and comprised of only two shots, but it becomes so much more.

Creating a Hitchcockian Opening
Hitchcock could ignite our curiosity at the outset of each film in ways unlooked at until now. Here we explore the most striking moments from each opening sequence of his theatrical films and examine his strategies for pulling in the viewer. Trends emerge from his use of comical music score to his movement of camera through public space, and landscapes filled with caricatures.

The Definitive List of Hitchcock MacGuffins
We are on a quest to compile the most definitive list of the MacGuffins used in Alfred Hitchcock's feature films and TV episodes. What's a MacGuffin? Find out what Hitchcock thought of this elusive plot device. From the weapons plans of Mr. Memory, to the goverment secrets being stolen by Van Damme, we've listed them all here.

Sound: Hitchcock's Third Dimension
With the production of his first sound film, Blackmail (1929), Hitchcock found new ways to manipulate the soundtrack in order to add new dimensions to the flat movie screen. Here we look at his instictive techniques of sound mixing in Blackmail as it laid the foundation for his use of sound in later works - from kept secrets to silent murders.

Jeffrey Michael Bays is producer of the award-winning radio special Not From Space (2003) heard on XM Satellite Radio. He recently directed an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's techniques entitled Offing David (2008), an Australian film starring Nathaniel Buzolic and Asha Kuerten. A graduate of Webster University, St. Louis, he just completed a Master of Arts in Cinema at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. His current research is in the art of scene transitions.

Brazilian Stunner Camila Alves Engaged to Matthew McConaughey


Written By Alexandra Gratereaux
Matthew McConaughey is officially off the market, ladies!

The “Lincoln Lawyer” actor popped the question on Sunday to Brazilian model/ TV host Camila Alves.

He then took to Twitter to tell his fans about his new fiancée.

“Just asked Camila to marry me, #MerryChristmas," McConaughey posted on his Twitter account, followed by a link that led to a photo of the two kissing.

McConaughey, 42, shares two children with Alves, Levi, 3 and Vida, who turns two in a few weeks. The actor and Alves have been an item since 2006, The New York Daily News reports.

The stunning Alves is the host of Bravo’s reality show “Shear Genius,”, which pits hairdressers against each other.

McConaughey told GQ Magazine a few months ago that Alves is the woman he wants to “make a family with” and live his “life out together”.

    Just asked Camila to marry me, #MerryChristmas.

- Matthew McConaughey, on Twitter

"I always wanted to be a father," McConaughey told People Magazine in 2008. "It just took the right woman and the right time to make it happen."

Alves certainly made an impression when she and McConaughey first began dating.

People reports that the two lovebirds were inseparable from day one, with Alves being seen at McConaughey’s side as he filmed “Fools Gold” in Australia and “Surfer Dude” in the Bahamas.

A source close to McConaughey told the magazine that Alves and the actor share a love for the outdoors.

"She likes roughing it," the source said. "She doesn't complain when they go hiking for 10 days without clean clothes or a shower."

This War Horse is Not Just a War Horse

By Rex Reed

Steven Spielberg at the top of his powers as one of the most successful and creative film directors of the past century is the best reason I can think of to get off your duff and head for the cinema on Christmas Day. You will not believe the epic splendor, sweeping drama and heart-stopping passion he brings to War Horse. It’s a rare and genuine movie masterpiece that deserves the label in a thousand ways.

Turning a beloved play into a movie is a job for either a fool or a daredevil. Mr. Spielberg is neither, but he is a visionary with unflinching faith in his own instincts. He must have known going in that he couldn’t satisfy the myriad fans of the London and Broadway hit about the cruel things the British did to their horses in World War I. On the stage, the familiar theme of a boy’s unshakable love for his horse was innovative in its use of life-size puppets with real feelings and expressions that moved like Tinker Toys. The film uses actual horses to tell the story of a colt named Joey, sold to the cavalry to lug the cannons of war through the German trenches, and a farmboy named Albert Narracott, who enlisted to travel halfway across Europe to rescue him from the front lines. On screen, Albert is played by impossibly handsome newcomer Jeremy Irvine, whose career is already reaching rocket force (he follows War Horse as Pip in the new production of Dickens’s Great Expectations). Instead of puppets, Joey is played by 15 different horses, but the one featured most prominently is American equine Finder, who starred in Seabiscuit. Finder is a four-legged superstar who can do everything but talk, even though he has a way of communicating with Albert that is awesome. What he goes through in War Horse is so rending that never before has the disclaimer “No animals were harmed in the filming of this motion picture” carried so much badly needed reassurance. Finder deserves an Oscar for—well, for being the best and most beautiful horse on the screen.

Based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is an elegiac film that clocks in at two hours and 20 minutes, but I treasured every single second. Mr. Spielberg brings so much decency and integrity to the familiar theme of a boy in love with a horse that I didn’t miss the puppets at all. The humor and spirit that had such a profound impact on audiences young and old are not only preserved, but enhanced by the personalities of real animals. The careful result is a personalized experience that inspires the same kind of love audiences used to have for Lassie.

The vast and sprawling screenplay by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis respects the story enough to leave it unchanged, without embellishment. A hardscrabble sharecropper named Ted Narracott goes to auction to buy a plow horse, but instead he arrogantly outbids his greedy, mean-spirited landlord (David Thewlis) for a magnificent animal of no real value to a crop planter, bringing down the wrath of his pragmatic, long-suffering wife, Rose (Emily Watson). Their besotted son, Albie, names the horse Joey and vows to teach him how to pull his weight and till the soil. Joey is stubborn and willful with a mind of his own, and when the crops fail, the only way to pay the rent is to sell Joey to the military. The next hour is told from the horse’s point of view as the camera follows him through the French battlefields in 1914, where he is cared for by a kind British officer, to enemy lines, where he bonds with a headstrong black stallion, a German deserter and a Dutch girl who protects him by hiding him in a windmill. Captured by the enemy, Joey finally ends up in the Somme where Albie sees combat at last. In one particularly sensational sequence, Joey is trapped in barbed wife and rescued by two soldiers, one German and one British, who momentarily put aside their differences through a mutual compassion for an injured animal, use wire cutters to save the horse’s life, and take a minute to share memories of their homes on opposite sides of the conflict. If you are not moved to tears by that scene, or by Albie’s eventual reunion with his horse, then you need to see a doctor.

The logistics are overwhelming. According to the Imperial War Museum, more than four million horses perished in the so-called Great War, and Mr. Spielberg puts you right into the middle of their pain and terror in sequences using as many as 5,800 extras and 280 horses without computer-generated images. What an accomplishment. Like the play, the emotional high point of the film is when Albie finally finds Joey. By this time, you’re so weary from the gas masks, the grenades, the rats and the cannon fire that you can hardly summon the strength for tears, but when Albie, blinded by mortar, and Joey, lame and half-dead, reach the green pastures and rose gardens of Devon, the tears are evident without coaxing.  Will Rogers always said, “Horses are smarter than humans. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people.” True, but when Albie and Joey reunite, two wounded soldiers of war going home together, you feel the values horses and humans can share through love, loyalty, persistence and understanding. It left me emotionally wrecked.

War Horse is a don’t-miss Spielberg classic that reaches true perfection. It’s as good as movies can get, and one of the greatest triumphs of this or any other year. For maximum enjoyment, I recommend both a box of tissues and a box of popcorn.


Running Time 146 minutes

Written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and David Thewlis

Film director Yoshimitsu Morita at 61

TOKYO - Director Yoshimitsu Morita, whose films depicted the absurdity and vulnerability of everyday life in conformist Japan, has died. He was 61.

Morita, who won international acclaim over his prolific 30-year career, died Tuesday of acute liver failure at a Tokyo hospital, said Yoko Ota, spokeswoman at Toei Co., the film company behind his latest work.

Morita's movies were distinctly Japanese, depicting the fragile beauty of the nation's human psyche and visual landscape while daringly poking fun at its ridiculous tendency for rigid bureaucracy and ritualistic hierarchy.

Morita made a splash among global film buffs with 1983's "Family Game," starring Yusaku Matsuda of "Black Rain" as an offbeat tutor who forms a heartwarming relationship with a young man in a stereotypical middle-class family.

Its striking cinematography, focusing on rows and rows of identical apartments and people dining solemnly sitting side by side, was an exhilarating parody of Japanese family values.

His works were shown at many international film festivals, including Berlin and Montreal. They included "Tsubaki Sanjuro," a 2007 remake of the 1962 classic by Akira Kurosawa.

'Kojak' Actor Dan Frazer Dies

An AMPAS member, Frazer's credits included "Deconstructing Harry," "Gideon's Trumpet" and "Barney Miller."
NEW YORK -- Veteran film and television actor Dan Frazer, best known for his role as Captain Frank McNeil on the 1970s television series Kojak, has died in New York. He was 90.

Frazer's daughter, Susanna Frazer, said Sunday her father died of cardiac arrest Dec. 16 at his home in Manhattan. She described him as a "very truthful, naturalistic actor."

Frazer started playing character roles in various television series and films in the 1950s. His films include Cleopatra Jones, Take the Money and Run, Gideon's Trumpet and Deconstructing Harry.
Besides Kojak, Frazer's television appearances include Car 54, Where Are You, Route 66, Barney Miller and Law & Order.

He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and an adviser to the Workshop Theatre Co.

Robert Gilby appointed managing director for Walt Disney Company, Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE: The Walt Disney Company yesterday announced the appointment of Robert Gilby as managing director, The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia.
He would report to Andy Bird, chairman Walt Disney International.
In this newly created role, Gilby would be responsible for driving the company’s strategy, coordinating and leading all Disney business divisions, overseeing Disney global franchises, expanding existing businesses and seeking out new business opportunities across the region with a focus on Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“Expanding our brand internationally is the cornerstone of the company’s growth strategy,” said Bird when commenting on the appointment in a statement released here yesterday.
Gilby would continue in his current role of managing director, Disney Media Distribution Asia Pacific, reporting to Ben Pyne, president, Global Distribution, Disney Media Networks.
In response to his appointment, Gilby pointed to the economic and market fundamentals of the South East Asian media and entertainment sector, as representing an enormously attractive opportunity for Disney.
He said it was incredibly exciting to be given the opportunity to work in one of the most amazing emerging markets in the world.
Gilby joined Disney in January 2006, as managing director of Disney Channels in the UK, Scandinavia & Emerging Markets. — Bernama

How Tom Cruise and Sean Penn Got Their Big Breaks

by Bill Higgins

The Hollywood Reporter's review of Taps in 1981 showed prescient understatement when it said the supporting cast demonstrated a "potential for future assignments." That would include the unknown pair of Tom Cruise, then 19, and Sean Penn, 21.

The film, which grossed $35.9 million domestically and marks the 30th anniversary of its release Dec. 18, was about military academy students who initiate an armed occupation to save their school from real estate developers. The lead cadet role had gone to Timothy Hutton, 21, who'd won a supporting actor Oscar for Ordinary People just months earlier.

Producer Stanley Jaffe says Cruise originally had been set to play a background character but was shifted to a key role when he impressed director Harold Becker during the four weeks of rehearsal that resembled a boot camp.
"He was out-marching the other cadets on the parade field," said Becker in 2004.

Penn was chosen after being spotted starring as the timid son of an abusive father in the small Broadway play Heartland.

The trio formed an incredibly potent cast. "It's that thing some people have," says Jaffe. "If you knew how to describe it, you'd bottle it."

Cruise's next role was in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, Hutton's was in Sidney Lumet's Daniel, and Penn got a major career boost when he played Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Although the Amy Heckerling comedy brought Penn much more attention, he told biographer Richard T. Kelly he looks back fondly on working with Cruise and Hutton because it "was like I'd gone to high school, and now Taps was college for me. And it was Fraternity Row."

"Cruise was so … like he was training for the f--in' Olympics. I think he was the first person I ever said, 'Calm down!' to. A fun guy, too." -- Penn

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Ellen DeGeneres Buy Brad Pitt’s Malibu Home For $12 Million

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Ellen DeGeneres is putting down roots where Brad Pitt once laid his head.

The daytime host finalized a deal to purchase Brad’s Malibu, Calif., home for $12 million on Friday, according to People.

The coastal property is divided into two separate homes, which boast ocean views, lush gardens and private beach access.

Ellen’s new pad is significantly smaller than the 15,000-square foot Beverly Hills home she and wife Portia De Rossi recently put on the market, measuring in at roughly 4,000-square feet, according to the mag.

Ellen and Portia’s sprawling estate – listed for a whopping $49 million — was featured in Architectural Digest magazine’s October issue, where the funnywoman explained her love of home buying and interior design.

“We never had a house when I was growing up,” Ellen said. “We always rented. But my father would dream, and we used to look at houses all the time. I’d pick out which bedroom would be mine and get all excited.

“The first thing I did when I made money was buy a house,” she added.

Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations: what the star's think

Labels: WRLTHD Entertainment news
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Betty White attends her 89th birthday party at Le Cirque in New York City on January 18, 2011 Caption The 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations were announced on Wednesday morning, and this year’s nominees are over the moon with excitement!

“This is incredible to be recognized by my fellow members of the Screen Actors Guild for two of my favorite projects. I couldn’t do the work I do on TV Land’s ‘Hot in Cleveland’ without the support and love of my fellow cast mates Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, the amazing writers, and of course the show’s creator, Suzanne Martin. Also, I have always wanted to do a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie and “The Lost Valentine” was an amazing experience due mostly to Jennifer Love Hewitt, Darnell Martin(the director), the producers and the wonderful folks at Hallmark Hall of Fame. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” - Betty White, nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for “Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine,” and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for “Hot In Cleveland”

** “I am incredibly moved and so grateful to my fellow actors for recognizing my role in ‘Moneyball’ with this nomination. I feel so lucky to be an actor today as I do everyday. I owe a huge thanks and much credit to our entire cast and crew, our writers, and especially to our fearless leader and director Bennett Miller and to Brad Pitt, the most generous onscreen partner anyone could hope for. Having my work honored today by my peers pushes me to work even harder.” - Jonah Hill, nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, “Moneyball”


“It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers and I thank my fellow SAG members for this nomination and am proud to have been a part of such an incredible ensemble, as well as Woody Allen’s vision.” - Owen Wilson, nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, “Midnight in Paris”

** “I am enormously touched by this nomination from the SAG membership. I’ve been at this for a long time, and it is always gratifying to be recognized for a performance. “Warrior” was a little film but it has a big heart, and it was a real labor of love for Gavin O’Connor who directed the movie. More than anything I hope that this nomination creates some renewed interest in the picture.” - Nick Nolte, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, “Warrior”


“We’re so grateful for the nominations from the Screen Actors Guild. Our cast was a close-knit group lead by George Clooney and Alexander Payne. Aside from a career best performance, George was a generous actor who allowed everyone an opportunity to shine. We are so happy and proud of this sensational ensemble.”

- Jim Burke, Producer of “The Descendants,” nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Film Crew breakdown update: Above the line or below?

Source: Wikipedia

A great friend of mine in reference to our film crew breakdown post asked, above the line or below?

According to Wikipedia:

Above-the-line is a term that refers to the list of individuals who guide, influence and hopefully add to the creative direction, process and voice of a given narrative in a film and their related expenditures. These roles include but are not limited to the screenwriter(s), producer, director, casting director and actors.

Often, the term is used for matters related to the film's production budget. Above-the-line expenditures reflect the expected line item compensation for an official above-the-line member's role in a given film project. These expenditures are usually set, negotiated, spent and/or promised before principal photography begins. They include rights to secure the material on which the screenplay is based, production rights to the screenplay, compensation for the screenwriter, producer, director, principal actors and other cost-related line items such as assistants for the producer(s), director or actor(s).

The distinction originates from the early studio days when the budget top-sheet would literally have a line separating the above-the-line and below-the-line costs.

Below the line is an accounting term used in filmmaking and television production, an imaginary line delineating those who have influence in the creative direction of a film's narrative from others who perform duties related to the film's physical production.

Below-the-line refers to the list of individuals who perform the physical production of a given film, the post-production work and all of the related expenditures. These positions include but are not limited to the following:

    Assistant Director
    Art Director
    Line Producer
    Best Boy Electric
    Best Boy Grip
    Boom Operator
    Character generator (CG) operator (television)
    Costume Designer
    Director of Photography
    Camera operator
    Dolly grip


    Graphic Artist
    Hair Stylist
    Key Grip
    Make-up Artist
    Production Assistant
    Script Supervisor (continuity)
    Sound Engineer
    Stage Manager (television)
    Stage Carpenter
    Technical Director (TD) (television)
    Video control Broadcast engineering (television)
    Film Editor
    Visual Effects Editor

Individuals considered below-the-line do not have any official influence on the creative direction of the film except at the discretion of the director. However, many of these individuals have greatly influenced the look, feel and tone of cinema through their work in their respective departments and have been acknowledged for these creative contributions by winning Academy Awards and being individually sought out by producers and directors for the unique vision they can bring to the creation of a film.

The head of each department is known as a "key". These individuals are responsible for the overall workings of their area, such as hair, make-up, wardrobe, grip and electric (G&E), lighting and camera. The head of the camera department is the Director of Photography, also known as the cinematographer.

Below-the-line costs include allowances for non-starring cast members and the technical production crew and post-production team(s). Costs for locations such as filming sites, film studios and sound stages with its related technical equipment are also considered below-the-line expenditures. Crew travel expenses, catering costs, craft service and many other expenses fall under the below-the-line banner. Keys will often move around their expenses to suit their departmental needs unless absolutely necessary during production. In addition, below-the-line costs include production insurance, errors and omission coverage (E&O) insurance and other unforeseen expenses under the heading "contingency", which usually begins at around 10%.

Below-the-line costs are generally fixed, meaning they were already budgeted for a particular department before principal photography begins in what is known as a "locked" budget.

Information from Wekipedia was used in this report.

Award Winning Producer Jonathan Flora's latest movie, 'LT. DAN: FOR THE COMMON GOOD'

Who's who on the set?

A thorough understanding of what makes up a film crew is essential if your planning to work in the bizz.

Film crews can be made up of merely a handful of people to hundreds. Each person brings his or hers expertise to the crew.

The following is a brief breakdown of each person's role. In addition, many people contribute their talents off the set. This list is only the beginning!

Filmmaking Technical crew
A film crew or Fimmaking Technical Crw is a group of people hired by a production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. Crew are distinguished from cast, the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. Crew are also separate from producers, those who own a portion of either the film company or the film's intellectual property rights. A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production.

“Production” is generally not considered a department as such, but rather as a series of functional groups. These include the "front office" staff such as the Production Manager, the Production Coordinator, and their assistants; the accounting staff; the various Assistant Directors; and sometimes the Locations Manager and his or her assistants. The Director is considered to be a separate entity, not within the departmental structure.
Executive Producer is usually an investor in the project or just a credit that the filmmaker gave to someone who paid for the credit. You can have as many executive producers as you want but generally keep it to a minimum.

A film producer creates the conditions for making movies. The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors. The producer is involved throughout all phases of the filmmaking process from development to completion of a project.

Production Manager
The production manager supervises the physical aspects of the production (not the creative aspects) including personnel, technology, budget, and scheduling. It is the production manager's responsibility to make sure the filming stays on schedule and within its budget. The PM also helps manage the day-to-day budget by managing operating costs such as salaries, production costs, and everyday equipment rental costs. The PM often works under the supervision of a line producer and directly supervises the Production Coordinator.

Unit Manager
The unit manager fulfills the same role as the production manager but for secondary "unit" shooting. In some functional structures, the unit manager subsumes the role of the Transport Coordinator.

Production Coordinator
The Production Coordinator is the information nexus of the production, responsible for organizing all the logistics from hiring crew, renting equipment, and booking talent. The PC is an integral part of film production.

Film Director
The director is responsible for overseeing the creative aspects of a film, including controlling the content and flow of the film's plot, directing the performances of actors, organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot, and managing technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film's soundtrack. Though the director wields a great deal of power, he or she is ultimately subordinate to the film's producer or producers. Some directors, especially more established ones, take on many of the roles of a producer, and the distinction between the two roles is sometimes blurred.

First Assistant Director
The first assistant director (1st AD) assists the production manager and director. The ultimate aim of any 1st AD is to ensure the film comes in on schedule while maintaining a working environment in which the director, principal artists (actors) and crew can be focussed on their work. He or she is in charge of overseeing the day-to-day management of the cast and crew scheduling, equipment, script, and set. A 1st AD may also be responsible for directing background action for major shots or the entirety of relatively minor shots, at the director's discretion.

Second Assistant Director
The second assistant director (2nd AD) is the chief assistant of the 1st AD and helps carry out those tasks delegated to the 1st AD. The 2nd AD may also direct background action and extras in addition to helping the 1st AD with scheduling, booking, etc. The 2nd AD is responsible for creating Call Sheets that let the crew know the schedule and important details about the shooting day. In Canadian and British functional structures there are 3rd ADs and even Trainee ADs; in the American system there are 2nd 2nd ADs.

Production Assistant
A production assistant assists the first assistant director with set operations. Production assistants, almost always referred to as PAs, also assist in the production office with general tasks.

Script Supervisor
Also known as the "continuity person", the script supervisor keeps track of what parts of the script have been filmed and makes notes of any deviations between what was actually filmed and what appeared in the script. He or she makes notes on every shot, also keeping track of props, blocking, and other details to ensure that continuity is maintained from shot to shot, and from scene to scene. The Script Supervisor's notes are given to the Editor to expedite the editing process. The script supervisor works very closely with the director on set.

Stunt Coordinator
Where the film requires a stunt, and involves the use of stunt performers, the stunt coordinator will arrange the casting and performance of the stunt, working closely with the director.

Art Department
The Art Department in a major feature film can often number hundreds of people. Usually it is considered to include several sub-departments: the art department proper, with its art director, set designers and draughtsmen; sets, under the set decorator; props, under the propmaster; construction, headed by the construction coordinator; scenic, headed by the key scenic artist; and special effects.

Production Designer
A production designer is responsible for creating the physical, visual appearance of the film - settings, costumes, properties, character makeup, all taken as a unit. The production designer works closely with the director and the cinematographer to achieve the 'look' of the film.

Within the overall Art Department is a sub-department, called the Art Department, which can be confusing. This consists of the people who design the sets and create the graphic art.

Art Director
The art director reports to the production designer, and more directly oversees artists and craftspeople, such as the set designer and set decorator, who carry out the production design.

Assistant art director
The first, second and third assistant art directors carry out the instructions of the art director. Their work often involves measuring locations, creating graphics and paper props, collecting information for the production designer and drawing sets. Sometimes a set designer is also the first assistant art director; in this capacity, he or she manages the work flow and acts as the 'foreman' of the drawing office.

Set Designer
The set designer is the draftsman, often an architect, who realizes the structures or interior spaces called for by the production designer.

The illustrator illustrates visual representations of the designs to communicate the ideas imagined by the production designer.

Set Decorator
The set decorator is in charge of the decorating of a film set, which includes the furnishings and all the other objects that will be seen in the film. He works closely with the production designer and coordinates with the art director. In recognition of the set decorator's importance, the Academy Award for Art Direction is given jointly to both the production designer and the set decorator.

The buyer is the number two person in the set department below the set decorator. The buyer locates, and then purchases or rents the set dressing.

Set Dresser
The set dressers apply and remove the "dressing," i.e., furniture, drapery, carpets—everything one would find in a location, even doorknobs and wall sockets. Most of the swing gang's work occurs before and after the shooting crew arrives but one set dresser remains with the shooting crew and is known as the on-set dresser. In some countries, such as England and Ireland, the set dressing department is referred to as dressing props department.

Props Master
The property master, more commonly known as the props master, is in charge of finding and managing all the props that appear in the film. The propsmaster usually has several assistants.

Props builder
The props builder, or more frequently propmaker, as the name implies, builds the props that are used for the film. Props builders are often technicians skilled in construction, plastics casting, machining, and electronics.

The armourer is a specialized props technician who deals with firearms. In most jurisdictions this requires special training and licenses.

Construction Coordinator
The construction coordinator oversees the construction of all the sets. The coordinator orders materials, schedules the work, and supervises the often sizeable construction crew of carpenters, painters and labourers. In some jurisdictions the construction coordinator is called the construction manager.

Head Carpenter
The head carpenter is the foreman of a "gang" of carpenters and laborers.

Key Scenic
The key scenic artist is responsible for the surface treatments of the sets. This includes special paint treatments such as aging and gilding, as well as simulating the appearance of wood, stone, brick, metal, stained glass--anything called for by the production designer. The key scenic artist supervises the crew of painters, and is often a master craftsperson.

The greensman is a specialised set dresser dealing with the artistic arrangement or landscape design of plant material, sometimes real and sometimes artificial, and usually a combination of both. Depending on the scope of the greens work in a film, the greensman may report to the art director or may report directly to the production designer. If a significant amount of greens work is required in a film, then the Greens may be an identifiable sub-department, with its own team - often of a size numbering double figures - and hierarchy (eg. Greensmaster, Greens Supervisor, Foreperson, Leading Hand, Laborers). Specialists from other areas of the Art Dept. (eg. Fabricators, Sculptors, Painters/Scenics) may also be drafted to work exclusively on Greens.

Hair and make-up
Make-up Artist
Make-up artists are beauticians that apply makeup to anyone appearing on screen. They concentrate on the area above the chest, the face, the top of the head, the fingers, hands, arms, and elbows. Their role is to manipulate an actors on screen appearance whether it makes them look more youthful, larger, older, or in some cases monstrous. There are also body makeup artist who concentrate their abilities on the body rather than the head.

The hair stylist is responsible for maintaining and styling the hair of anyone appearing on screen. He or she works in conjunction with the makeup artist.

Costume Designer
The costume designer is responsible for all the clothing and costumes worn by all the actors that appear on screen. He or she is also responsible for designing, planning, and organizing the construction of the garments down to the fabric, colors, and sizes. The costume designer works closely with the director to understand and interpret "character," and counsels with the production designer to achieve an overall tone of the film.

Costume Supervisor
The Costume Supervisor works closely with the designer. In addition to helping with the design of the costumes, the he or she manages the wardrobe workspace. He or she is responsible for supervising the construction or sourcing of garments, the hiring and firing of support staff, the budget, paperwork, and department logistics.

Key Costumer
The Key Costumer is employed on larger productions to manage the set costumers, and to handle the Star's wardrobe needs.

Costume Standby
The Costume Standby is present on set at all times. It is his/her responsibility to monitor the quality and continuity of the actors and actresses costumes before and during takes. (S)he will also assist the actors and actresses with dressing. This person is also known as a 'set costumer'.

Art Finisher
An Art Finisher may be employed during the pre-production stage to "break down" garments. This specialised job includes making new clothing appear dirty, faded and worn. They are also known as breakdown artists.

On large productions a Buyer may be employed to source and purchase fabrics and garments. A buyer might also be referred to as a shopper. This distinction is often made when the lead actor in a production has control over their wardrobe, and they may personally hire this person.

A costume technician who fits or tailors costumes, usually on-set. They can also be called cutters, seamstresses or tailors. Some celebrity actors have favorite cutters, and larger productions may hire several and have them on set at the same time, particularly in period film projects that might have complicated or extremely expensive extras wardrobe.

Director of Photography
The director of photography is the chief of the camera and lighting crew of the film. The DP makes decisions on lighting and framing of scenes in conjunction with the film's director. Typically, the director tells the DP how he or she wants a shot to look, and the DP then chooses the correct aperture, filter, and lighting to achieve the desired effect.

The term cinematographer has been a point of contention for some time now. It is usually synonymous with "director of photography," though some professionals insist that it only applies when the director of photography and camera operator are the same person.

Camera Operator
The camera operator uses the camera at the direction of the cinematographer, director of photography, or the film director to capture the scenes on film. Generally, a cinematographer or director of photography does not operate the camera, but sometimes these jobs may be combined.

First Assistant Camera (Focus Puller)
The first assistant camera (1st AC) is responsible for keeping the camera in focus as it is shooting.

Second Assistant Camera (Clapper Loader)
The second assistant camera (2nd AC) operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take and loads the raw film stock into the camera magazines between takes, if there is no additional specifically desiginated film loader. The 2nd AC is also in charge of overseeing the meticulously kept notebooks that records when the film stock is received, used, and sent to the lab for processing. Additionally, the 2nd AC oversees organization of camera equipment and transport of the equipment from one shooting location to another.

The loader is the designated film loader. He transfers motion picture film from the manufacturer's light-tight canisters to the camera magazines for attachment to the camera by the 2nd AC. After exposure during filming, the loader then removes the film from the magazines and places it back into the light-tight cans for transport to the laboratory. It is the responsibility of the loader to manage the inventory of film and communicate with the 1st AC on the film usage and remaining stock throughout the day. On small production crews, this job is often combined with the 2nd AC. With the prevalence of digital photography, this position is often eliminated.

Camera Production Assistant (camera intern)
Usually a volunteer or trainee in the camera department, the camera PA assists the crew with menial details while learning the trade of the camera assistant, operator or cinematographer.

Digital Imaging Technician ("DIT")
On digital photography productions the digital imaging technician is responsible for the coordination of the internal workings of the digital camera. Under the direction of the cinematographer or director of photography, the DIT will make adjustments to the multitude of variables available in most professional digital cameras to creatively or technically manipulate the resulting image.

Steadicam operator
A Steadicam operator is someone who is skilled at operating a Steadicam rig (the genericized trademark for a camera stabilization rig).

Motion Control Technician/Operator
This technician operates a motion control rig, which is essentially a 'camera robot' that is able to consistently repeat camera moves for special effects use. Motion control rigs are typically rented with an experienced operator.

Production Sound
Production Sound Mixer
The production sound mixer is head of the sound department on set, responsible for recording all sound during filming. This involves the choice and deployment of microphones, operation of a sound recording device, and sometimes the mixing of audio signals in real time.

Boom Operator
The boom operator is an assistant to the production sound mixer, responsible for microphone placement and movement during filming. The boom operator uses a boom pole, a long, special piece of equipment made from light aluminum or carbon fiber, that allows precise positioning of the microphone above or below the actors, just out of the camera's frame. As well as the Placement of Radio Mics and other Microphones 'Hidden' on set. In France, the boom operator is known as the perchman.

Utility Sound Technician
The utility sound technician has a dynamic role in the sound department, most typically pulling cables, but often acting as an additional boom operator or mixer when required by complex filming circumstances. Not all films employ a utility sound technician, but the increasing complexities of location sound recording in modern film have made the job more prevalent. This role is sometimes credited as "cable man" or "python wrangler."

Grips are trained lighting and rigging technicians. The main responsibilities of a grip are to work closely with the electrical department to put in the lighting set-ups necessary for a shot. On the sound stage, they are responsible for moving and adjusting major set pieces when something needs to be moved to get a camera into position. They may belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Key grip
The key grip is the chief grip on a set, and is the head of the set operations department. The key grip works with the director of photography to help set up the set and to achieve the correct lighting and blocking.

Best boy (Grip)
The best boy grip is the chief assistant to the key grip. They are also responsible for organizing the grip truck through out the day.

Dolly grip
The grip in charge of operating the camera dolly is called the dolly grip. He/she places, levels, and moves the dolly track, then pushes and pulls the dolly and usually a camera operator and camera assistant as riders.

The gaffer is the head of the electrical department, responsible for the design and execution of the lighting plan for a production. Sometimes the gaffer is credited as "Chief Lighting Technician".

Best boy (Electrical)
The best boy electric is the chief assistant to the gaffer.

Lighting Technician
Lighting technicians are involved with setting up and controlling lighting equipment.

Film Editor
The film editor is the person who assembles the various shots into a coherent film, with the help of the director. Film editors may belong to the American Cinema Editors (A.C.E.)

With a photochemical process, the color timer adjusts the color of the film via printer lights for greater consistency in the film's colors. With a digital intermediate process, the colorist can use digital tools in manipulating the image and has greater creative freedom in changing the aesthetic of a film.

Negative Cutter
The negative cutter cuts and splices the negatives as directed by the film editor, and then provide the assembled negative reels to the lab in order for prints (positives for projection) to be made.

Visual Effects
Visual Effects Supervisor
The visual effects supervisor is in charge of the visual effects department. Visual effects refer to post-production alterations to the film's images. They are not to be confused with special effects, which are done during production (on set).

A compositor is a visual effects artist responsible for compositing images from different sources such as video, film, computer generated 3-D imagery, 2-D animations, matte paintings, photographs, and text.

Inferno, Flame
These artists operate an Inferno or Flame visual effects system. These systems are manufactured by Discreet (now a division of Autodesk).

Roto, paint
These artists may rotoscope the footage, manually creating mattes for use in compositing. They may also paint visual information into or out of a scene, such removing wires and rigs, logos, dust busting, scratch removal, etc.

Matte Painter
These artists draw/paint entire sets or extend portions of an existing set.

Sound Designer
The sound designer, or "supervising sound editor", is in charge of the post-production sound of a movie. Sometimes this may involve great creative license, and other times it may simply mean working with the director and editor to balance the sound to their liking.

Dialogue Editor
Responsible for assembling and editing all the dialog in the soundtrack.

Sound Editor
Responsible for assembling and editing all the sound effects in the soundtrack.

Re-recording Mixer
Balances all of the sounds prepared by the dialogue, music and effects editors, and finalizes the films audio track.

Music Supervisor
The music supervisor, or "music director", works with composer, mixers and editors to create and integrate the film's music. In Hollywood, a music supervisor's primary responsibility is to act as liaison between the film production and the recording industry, negotiating the use rights for all source music used in a film.

The composer is responsible for writing the musical score for a film.

Foley Artist
The foley artist is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects for a film.

Dolly shots as slick as butter!

Here's a great way to keep your shoots clean, simple and efficient! It all adds up when it comes to keeping the budget under control!
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Tips for a successful interview!

For those of you who are thinking of getting into documentary filmmaking or those of you who just want to brush up on your skills, here are some tips for getting the perfect interview.
  • Do research on your topic, and if possible, on your subjects. The better prepared you are, the less time you’ll take and the better equipped you’ll be to handle any curve balls.
  • Develop a few themes and come up with 3 or 4 questions for each theme.
  • When possible, do a pre-interview with your subject. They’ll often reveal information you hadn’t contemplated before.
  • Read your questions out loud, or to a third party, to make sure they’re clear.
  • Scout out a location for the interview, taking sound and lighting into consideration.
  • Have a basic structure for your film/project sketched out and as well as an idea of how each interview subject fits into that structure. This may change as you go along, but you should have a general idea from the beginning.
  • Think about doing some group interviews – they often don’t run as smoothly, but disagreement makes for good content and illustrates conflicting points of view.
  • If you’re interviewing several people for one project, you may find 1 or 2 questions you want to ask at each interview. It allows for varying perspectives on a single issue.
The Interview:
  • If the interviewer is not included in the film, make sure your questions don’t need to be heard in order to understand the question. You can ensure this by teaching your subject how to incorporate the question into the answer.
  • Try not to interrupt when someone is answering a question. People open up and talk when they’re on camera – give this time to happen.
  • Stay away from questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions work best.
  • Listen to the answers you’re being given and a) make sure they can stand alone, and b) make sure they’re clear. If not, ask the subject to rephrase.
  • Don’t be afraid to stray from your list of questions. Following up on interesting answers is the key to a successful interview.
  • Wherever possible, look for anecdotes or stories. Stories make a more memorable impression than simple answers.
  • Don’t talk or make noises while the subject is responding.
  • Start off with the easier questions, and once the subject is warmed up move into deeper areas. Don’t be afraid to ask hard-hitting or difficult questions.
  • At the end of the interview, you can always ask the subject if there’s something they wanted to discuss that you didn’t hit on. There usually is.

Great lesson on using a follow focus unit by my friend Mike Fisher!

AFI Winners for 2011


LOS ANGELES, CA, December 11, 2011 – The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced the official selections of AFI AWARDS 2011 – the awards season event favored by artists and entertainment executives for its intimacy and collaborative recognition – that records the year’s most outstanding achievements in film, television and other forms of the moving image arts:

The Descendants
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Help
J. Edgar
Midnight In Paris
The Tree Of Life
War Horse
Breaking Bad
Boardwalk Empire
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Game Of Thrones
The Good Wife
Modern Family
Parks And Recreation
The Artist
The Harry Potter Series
'Hollywood How To' is under construction. Please stay tuned!