What to Watch and Read Before You Make Your First, or Next, Film
I’m going to be compiling an ever updated list of resources to watch/read before your set out to make your first/next film. They’ve come from all kinds of things from which i’ve gathered both practical and inspirational advice.
1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Extended Editions; Films, Special Features, & Commentaries
-In a few words, the equivalent of making a film without watching this treasure trove of filmmaking knowledge, is like a medical doctor not reading the latest medical journals readily available to him; you will kill people. Yes, yes you will
2. Rebel Without a Crew: Written by veteran guerrilla filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids, Sin City, Grindhouse:Planet Terror)
-This was the first time I really felt like I was “on the inside” of a filmmaker’s process. Here you have one of the coolest stylistic directors i know, and I’m getting a glimpse into how he approaches filmmaking. A must-read, even if only to inspire
3. The Social Newtork Blu-Ray/DVD Making Of/Film
-David Fincher is as brilliant a director as Aaron Sorkin is a writer and the collaborative process between the two forces is electric. They both have very clearly defined motives and philosophies by which they operate and neither of them are very willing to budge, wo when you see them collaborating, you best sit up and pay attention. Truly a master class on filmmaking
4. J.J. Abram’s Star Trek Blu-Ray/DVD, Film & Special Features
-With Star Trek, Abrams straddled a line of a hardcore fan base and a new audience. To tackle this literal enterprise required courage, creativity, and above all, conviction. When you watch the making of this film you see how practicality is still king; that most effects should be achieved in camera if possible and that your idea of possibility isn’t wide enough yet.
5. J.J. Abram’s Ted Talk: The Mystery Box
– In What is easily one of the most philosophical yet practical commentaries on the JJ Abram’s “Process,” the auter lets you into his mind and his knowledge of an audience, something that has gained him both critical and public acclaim. BTW, you still won’t know as much as you want to about the mystery box, but you’ll know more than enough to be inspired and satisfied.
6. The Fountain DVD: Film & Special Features
Though Darren Aronofsky’s movies are certainly polarizing, they are generally marked as such due to personal preference in what kind of movies people like, however, there is now denying he as an incredible and unique storyteller. Seeing the pain and hardship that Aronofsky goes through to get his vision on screen is more than enough to set a fire under your but and inspirational enough to get you to rekindle it, even when someone else has put it out.
7. Road To Perdition/American Beauty/Jarhead/Revolutionary Road
– Why these 4? Because Sam Mendes directed all of them and Sam Mendes is a genius and that’s all you really need to know. But for real, it is. Watch them in this order if you can. The first will awe you, the second will hit you, the 3rd will shock you, and the 4th will rock you. Seriously. Just sit back and watch a master filmmaker do his thing and yes, all of them have special features and you should watch every last one.
8. The Matrix Re-Visited
– Seeing the techy/unconventional ways the Waichowski’s and DOP Bill Pope approached this completely original and revolutionary film is nothing short of enlightening. See how these guys started trends that now run the business.
10. Atonement/Pride & Prejudice
– A great pair of films front the same director that really knows how to use visuals to communicate a deep story and how to keep charm as the pinch of sugar to what would otherwise be tragic stories (at least one of them).