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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

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

The Orson Welles Centennial

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences via The Film Stage

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences via The Film Stage

Legendary filmmaker Orson Welles would have been 100 years old this year. George Orson Welles, who died in 1985, was a prolific actor, director, writer and producer. He was able to work across various arts mediums as he excelled on the radio as well as in stage and screen. Welles is often revered as one of the greatest directors of all time and his film Citizen Kane is repeatedly in top 10 lists of the greatest films of all time. The film is regarded as one that pushed the medium forward, introducing different types of camera angles, new lighting techniques and sound design that Welles borrowed from his radio days. Citizen Kane is also impressive due to how many “hats” Welles wore during the production — in addition to starring as the lead, he also wrote, directed and produced the film!  Continue reading

Disappearing Violets: Where are the Women in Film and Television?

Image via eonline.com

Image via eonline.com

This past Sunday was the Golden Globes ceremony which was, for a third year, hosted by the brilliant combo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Fey and Poehler, in their own snarky way, poked holes at the industry and specifically its double standards for women. Some argue that the ceremony, as a result, was a feminist awards ceremony which bodes well for the future of these events. With Ellen DeGeneres’ success hosting the Oscars and the general likability of Fey and Poehler as hosts of the Globes, it’s clear to me that women are making progress.  Continue reading

La Nouvelle Vague: Exploring the work of Godard in Chicago

Film enthusiasts are familiar with the French New Wave, also known as La Nouvelle Vague in French, which is a term used to describe a renaissance for film produced within the region in the 1950′s and 1960′s. In terms of content, one of the hallmarks of films ascribed to this movement is a focus on realism through the exploration of current social issues young people faced. While the exact subject matter varied depending on the filmmaker, French New Wave films are perhaps most notable for experimenting with the medium. Filmmakers employed various non-traditional, jarring editing techniques such as jump cuts and non-continuous storytelling to present their content with a fresh perspective. Of the many filmmakers from the French New Wave, no one is perhaps as prolific (and often imitated) as Jean-Luc Godard.  Continue reading

It’s a Family Affair: Famous Show Business Families

Holding the Oscars he won for writing, producing and directing The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola poses with his father, Carmine, winner of the scoring award. April, 1975. Photo via acertaincinema.com

Francis Ford Coppola poses with his father, Carmine Coppola at the 1975 Academy Awards. The younger Coppola won Oscars for writing, producing and directing while the elder won the Oscar for scoring on The Godfather Part II. Photo via acertaincinema.com

Filmmaking is a collaborative process. While some other arts are more personal, film requires lots of hands on deck. You need actors, producers, writers, directors and lots of other helpers behind the scenes. Much in the way it takes a village to raise a baby, it may seemingly take a small city to create a film from the ground up! The analogy to a baby is no exaggeration; releasing a film, however small, is a labor of love. As a result, there are many cases in which filmmakers choose to work with their families in order to produce their best work.  Continue reading

It’s a Wonderful Life in our Wonderful City

If you’ve already completed your holiday shopping (just 2 more shopping days left until Christmas!), it’s time to relax. With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and coordinating plans on where you’ll be spending the holiday, it’s easy to forget the real spirit of what all these acts mean. One way to unwind is to curl up on the couch with some hot cocoa and catch a movie. We are planning on wrapping some gifts and taking in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

It's A Wonderful Life screenshot

It’s A Wonderful Life film still via whysoblu.com

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Top Gifts for Media Savvy Friends

Photo Credit: Christmas at Mom's House by Jen Gallardo

Photo Credit: Christmas at Mom’s House by Jen Gallardo

If you are anything like me, chances are you are trying to work your way through a list of folks you need to shop for this holiday season. While some friends and family are easy to shop for, others are a little bit more challenging. Personally, I find my media savvy friends the most challenging to shop for as they have all the latest and greatest gadgets and a ton of accessories for them, to boot. However, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge! Here are some unconventional gift ideas for the photographers, filmmakers and media-lovers in your lives.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

For your comedy-television-loving friend, consider purchasing Amy Poehler’s biography Yes, Please. In this hilarious read, Poehler shares stories that ultimately help us understand how she went from Upright Citizens Brigade to television star and frequent host of the Golden Globes. For a great one-two comedic punch, you may also want to include Tina Fey’s biography Bossypants or comedy legend Martin Short’s latest I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend. Continue reading

Video Didn’t Necessarily Kill the Radio Star

Serial Podcast Logo via Time.com

Serial Podcast Logo via Time.com

More often that not, we hear that a certain medium has been declared dead. It’s not uncommon to hear people give radio the death knell. Traditional radio stations for music lost their monopoly over the airwaves to satellite radio and online streaming services like Pandora. However, even those newcomers are struggling to consistently turn a profit in a business where many mouths need to be fed. That said, I contend that while radio struggles with music, it provides opportunity for other content creators to grow audiences with limited investment in resources via podcasting.

In case you are unfamiliar, podcasting is essentially Internet radio. You can record your podcast and very easily broadcast it through a number of different services. While you can do video podcasts, traditionally it has been audio only. This eases the barrier to entry as most people have a means of recording themselves such as on their mobile device or on a laptop computer with a built in microphone. Plus, you don’t need to worry about hair and makeup when all that gets recorded is your voice.

Recently, I learned that podcasting is so easy that even aging comedians can do it (I kid!)! Continue reading

John Huston Retrospective at Film Society

Scene from Key Largo; Credit: The Kobal Collection / Warner Bros

Scene from Key Largo; Credit: The Kobal Collection / Warner Bros

During the months of December and January, New York City’s Film Society of Lincoln Center will be doing a retrospective featuring the work of filmmaker John Huston. Let There Be Light: The Films of John Huston will feature an exhaustive collection of over forty films where Huston was involved as director, screenwriter or actor. For the majority of these films, he both directed and wrote the screenplays. Continue reading