Author Archives: jen

The Significance of Seven

Image via CinemaFlair.com

Image via CinemaFlair.com

As we approach the release of the seventh installment of the blockbuster Fast and Furious series, we noticed that no new releases are even attempting to compete with the blockbuster film. To understand why the movie owns the holiday weekend, it may be useful to investigate the significance of the number seven.  Continue reading

A Whole New World: Virtual Reality

Last year, I attended SXSWi and one of the longest lines (besides that for meeting with Grumpy Cat) was for the chance to experience the popular virtual reality tool acquired by Facebook, Oculus Rift. Oculus VR had created a virtual reality experience for the popular HBO series Game of Thrones that allowed users to ascend the icy wall that keeps the seven kingdoms of Westeros safe from the zombie-like white walkers. Though I didn’t get a chance to experience it myself, most of the feedback around the “Ascend the Wall” experience was overwhelmingly positive. That said, it brings into question the future of these types of experiences and what will make sense for storytelling moving forward.  Continue reading

Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men in NYC

Photo of Matthew Weiner on the set of Mad Men

Photo of Matthew Weiner on the set of Mad Men via Museum of the Moving Image

As we’ve already noted, Mad Men is definitively one of the best shows on television. And, as we are all acutely aware, all good things must come to an end. This year, we get the final seven episodes of the popular program. In celebration of seven seasons, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York has launched an exhibit called “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men.” Continue reading

Mad Television World

From left: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, January Jones and show creator Matthew Weiner

Photo by Joe Pugliese via The Hollywood Reporter

Television executives have the, sometimes enviable, job of selecting programming to go on their networks. For every gem of a script they read, they also encounter many duds which can sometimes make it difficult to distinguish when something will be a hit. For example, many networks passed on the drama ER citing that its pilot’s script was fairly rough. The popular drama Mad Men is a perfect example of a show that many passed on as it really had no business succeeding. Period pieces were often deemed too expensive relative to their potential for success. The much talked about but unsuccessful Pan Am, hoping to receive tail winds of the Mad Men success, is an example of this. So why was Mad Men a success and not Pan Am? Mad Men had the perfect storm of being positioned with the right script for the right network with the right cast. Continue reading

Television Revolution: New Sources of Content

Image via TheDailyBeast

Image via TheDailyBeast

If you would have told me ten years ago that streaming video would be ubiquitous and that every major media company would be trying to compensate for this, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet, this is exactly what has changed over the last decade. Instead of online video being a fringe experience, it is now the leading source of traffic across the internet, especially during prime time.  Continue reading

Twenty Years of French Cinema in NYC

Still from Breathe

Still from Breathe

When people think of French films, generally the work of directors of the French New Wave immediately comes to mind. Certain stylistic elements that were very specific to the work of Godard, for example, became synonymous with all the work coming out of France. However, this could not be further from the truth. Much like American filmmaking, there are diverse types of genres represented in the French filmmaking world. This is very prominently on display in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema festivalContinue reading

The Audience’s User Experience

Image via SEMRush.com

Image via SEMRush.com

In technology, there is a growing area of focus in making sure users have a good experience with a given digital product.  There’s a level of baseline experience that users expect and then there are the things that take a user above and beyond (these are the things that surprise and delight).

Recently, I realized that there are many parallels between how this works for a tech project, with which I have a lot of familiarity, and how this works for a film project.  Without further ado, here are a few things filmmakers can learn from technology:  Continue reading

CinemaScope: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment screening at BAM

Image via Film Flammers

Image via Film Flammers

Over the next two weeks, New York City’s BAM is showcasing some of the best-looking American black and white film in its series Black & White ‘Scope: American Cinema. “Scope” in this sense refers to “CinemaScope” which was a type of lens commonly used at the time for shooting wide screen movies. Essentially, these lenses made it possible to compress a wide-angle panoramic scene into a smaller typical 35mm frame. When these images were then projected through a companion lens, the image was presented in its original panoramic, wide screen glory. The origins of CinemaScope are simple; in the 1950’s, the film industry was starting to feel pressure from a new competitor for their audiences’ time: television. There was definitely a feeling that audiences would stop going to the movies if they could just want programming on their television sets instead.  Continue reading

The Hollywouldn’t-ness: Latinos on Film

Image via ScreenRelish

Image via ScreenRelish

The 87th Academy Awards aired last night and the lack of diversity in the industry seemed to be in the front of everyone’s minds. Many were already on edge regarding the perceived snub of the film Selma. Patricia Arquette proclaimed it “time for women” in her acceptance speech (while simultaneously ruffling some feathers in other under-represented groups in Hollywood). And then later, in presenting the top honors of Best Picture to the film Birdman, Sean Penn made a seemingly unfortunate green card joke about director, producer and co-writer of the film, Alejandro González Iñárritu, who happens to be Mexican.  Continue reading

Prince of Darkness: Cinematographer Gordon Willis Retrospective

Still of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan (1979) via iMDB.com

Still of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan (1979) via iMDB.com

When most people think of filmmaking, they often think of actors, writers and directors — and sometimes exclusively in that order! As I’ve written about here before, it is more accurate to say it takes a village to make a movie. It’s pretty obvious that you need actors to appear in front of the camera and writers to figure out what they will say when they are in front of the camera, but you also need a cinematographer to ensure they look good in front of the camera. Good is relative as, with a grittier text, the director may want a less polished look. The cinematographer works to help set the scene for the story the director wishes to stage.  Continue reading