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Documentary Landscapes
A look at documentary filmmaking practices and how they're evolving
Curated by Justin Nalepa
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Nobody Knows Anything #2: What Makes A Film Good?

Nobody Knows Anything #2: What Makes A Film Good? | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

Everyone, I’d hope, has some thoughts about what makes a film good. Perhaps it displays a degree of craft or a particular aesthetic sensibility, covers specific subject matter, has a quality story, certain stars, etc. As you get older and your exposure to cinema becomes both richer and more refined, that definition probably becomes more nuanced. Still, if further pressed most people will also have some few “guilty pleasures” — films that don’t fulfill all their own requirements of what makes for a good film but which they like anyway. Perhaps they were childhood favorites, particular genres or kinds of stories that give comfort, or they just have an indescribable something. It can all seem very subjective, but that discrepancy, between our self-defined tastes and our secret loves, is a telling one.

Justin Nalepa's insight:

A thought-provoking article on what makes a "good" film.

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Will 2014 Be the Year That Smartphone Filmmaking Goes Mainstream?

Will 2014 Be the Year That Smartphone Filmmaking Goes Mainstream? | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

In addition to the affordability of iPhone filmmaking, Ciezata said the iPhone gave him "more control over the production process - when shooting film, you never really knew what you were getting until the film came back from the lab. With the iPhone, I got instant playback so if something isn't working you can adjust accordingly. Additionally, I used the speakers as a microphone to record pickup sound effects and temporary dialogue as well as to upload clips to DropBox for his editor. It's like having a mobile studio in your pocket," Ciezata said.

Justin Nalepa's insight:

Love this short animation-documentary hybrid piece: https://vimeo.com/52553756

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/Film Interview: Steve James Talks Roger Ebert Documentary ‘Life Itself’

/Film Interview: Steve James Talks Roger Ebert Documentary ‘Life Itself’ | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, which put that film on people’s radars. James scored an Oscar nomination and the film enjoyed a successful box office run. Afterwards, the two remained friends and James was eventually tasked with directing Life Itself, a documentary based on Ebert’s memoir.

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A gorgeous, haunting portrait of Nick Cave

A gorgeous, haunting portrait of Nick Cave | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Aussie post-punk legend plays a solo gig after the Sundance premiere of the dazzling doc "20,000 Days on Earth"
Justin Nalepa's insight:

This is yet another great example in a string of recent documentaries that explores form as a storytelling device:

 

"Asked whether he thought the movie was biography, fiction or psychodrama, Cave responded to the last word: 'That. Psychodrama, except without the "drama" bit.' ...

Impressionistic and nonlinear, driven by many striking moments of visual and thematic juxtaposition, “20,000 Days on Earth” also sometimes calms itself into a more familiar documentary mode." 

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Jonathan Harris keynote | IDFA DocLab

Jonathan Harris keynote   |   IDFA DocLab | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

"The first video looking back at IDFA DocLab 2013 is Jonathan Harris’ keynote at the Interactive Reality Conference we organized with De Brakke Grond."


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mirmilla's curator insight, January 22, 2014 9:45 AM

Gorgeous keynote by Jonathan Harris.

The first part is entirely devoted to his experiences.

In the second part (from 21 '41 ") he faces some of the key concepts of his way of seeing the digital arts.

 

Many thanks to IDFA.

 

[more about Jonathan Harris biography here: http://transom.org/?p=41667]

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‘Notes on Blindness’

‘Notes on Blindness’ | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
After the writer John Hull became completely blind in 1983, he kept an audio diary of his experience. This short film is a dramatization using those recordings.
Justin Nalepa's insight:

Beautiful piece on what it's like to be blind. More about the interactive documentary:

 

"Peter Middleton and James Spinney are London-based filmmakers. Their Op-Doc "Notes on Blindness" is an official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. They are currently developing a feature-length version of the film.

This video is part of a series produced by independent filmmakers who have received support from the nonprofit Sundance Institute.

Op-Docs is forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude by independent filmmakers and artists."

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Sundance ’14: Tackling cancer, criticism and “Life Itself”

Sundance ’14: Tackling cancer, criticism and “Life Itself” | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Director Steve James tells realscreen about making Life Itself, his feature doc about the "adventuresome" life of late film critic Roger Ebert (pictured), which will have its world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival.Read More...
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TIFF ’13 Exclusive: The long search for “Vivian Maier”

TIFF ’13 Exclusive: The long search for “Vivian Maier” | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Finding Vivian Maier director John Maloof (pictured, left) and co-director Charlie Siskel (right) tell realscreen how they pieced together the story of a complex woman behind a treasure trove of street photography, and share an exclusive clip from...
Justin Nalepa's insight:

From Realscreen: "John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s Finding Vivian Maier picked up the John Schlesinger award for outstanding first documentary at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Saturday (January 11)."

Read more: http://realscreen.com/2014/01/13/vivian-maier-picks-up-palm-springs-prize-for-doc-debut/#ixzz2qP8P7JEK

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DISTRIBUTION ADVICE FOR 2014

DISTRIBUTION ADVICE FOR 2014 | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Before you sign a contract, read this feedback from other filmmakers and industry insiders.
Justin Nalepa's insight:

Thom Powers: "Over the years, I’ve seen too many filmmakers become embittered by their distribution deals. Sometimes they had unrealistic expectations, sometimes they got caught in bad deals. The filmmakers who feel disgruntled range from those with niche titles all the way to the most successful directors. I remember seeing an esteemed director at the Toronto International Film Festival being greeted warmly by the head of a distribution company. “That’s funny,” the director later told me, “I’m currently suing his company for unpaid royalties.” Behind the diplomatic smiles lie many untold stories."

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Sundance Infographic 2014: Are Indies the "8th Studio"? - Cultural Weekly

Sundance Infographic 2014: Are Indies the "8th Studio"? - Cultural Weekly | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Cultural Weekly's Sundance Infographic for 2014 reveals that independent movies rival major studios by spending more than $3 billion a year.
Justin Nalepa's insight:

Some great box office numbers for Sugar Man and Twenty Feet From Stardom.

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Christophe C's curator insight, January 10, 2014 5:07 PM

#Sundance #Infographic 2014

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Docutopia: Eight New Year’s Wishes for Documentary Film | SUNDANCE NOW

Docutopia: Eight New Year’s Wishes for Documentary Film | SUNDANCE NOW | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

The last year was a very good one for documentary films. By many accounts, 2013 showed how docs have gotten better and more popular, gaining greater legitimacy in the culture at large, and sparking both discussion and political action. But like any art form or industry—or person for that matter—there’s always room for improvement. Docutopia is always striving to make the doc world better, by highlighting what’s good, criticizing what’s bad, and generally drawing more attention to the form.

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The Measure of All Things: a new live documentary

A live documentary loosely inspired by the Guinness Book of Records. Help us get to our world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival!
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POV's 2013 Documentary Filmmaking Equipment Survey | POV | PBS

POV's 2013 Documentary Filmmaking Equipment Survey | POV | PBS | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

POV asked documentarians to share their experiences with equipment and documentary tools - from cameras and lenses to animation software and mobile apps - to create a comprehensive equipment list based on what filmmakers are actually using in the field. Whether you're a novice or veteran, this unique resource will help you make some big decisions.

Justin Nalepa's insight:

C300s seem to be a solid choice, though I'm interested to see how the new BMC Pocket Cam/4k and Digital Bolex pan out once they have time to get a wider release on the market.

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Thought-Provoking Must See Interview with Iconic Conflict Photographer Don McCullin

Thought-Provoking Must See Interview with Iconic Conflict Photographer Don McCullin | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Don McCullin is a household name in the photographic community, but as far as he is concerned, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Justin Nalepa's insight:

Lots to think on after hearing Don McCullin's take on his career as a "War Photographer".

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'Tim's Vermeer': Teller talks (yes, talks!) about his astounding documentary - Entertainment Weekly (blog)

'Tim's Vermeer': Teller talks (yes, talks!) about his astounding documentary - Entertainment Weekly (blog) | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

In the new documentary Tim’s Vermeer, Texas-based inventor and non-painter Tim Jenison attempts to prove that seventeenth century artist Dutch Johannes Vermeer used an optical device to craft his masterpieces by adopting that technique to painstakingly recreate Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. If that sounds like a snooze on paper, the film is anything but, partly thanks to Penn Jillette‘s enthusiastic narration, and his magic-partner Teller’s assured direction. but mostly because of the possibility Jenison might actually drive himself insane attempting to complete his Herculean task. (EW’s Owen Gleiberman recently described the movie as “exquisitely fun” in his “A”-grade review.)

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Critic's Notebook: Ignore the Naysayers. This Year's Sundance Film Festival Transcended Clichés

Critic's Notebook: Ignore the Naysayers. This Year's Sundance Film Festival Transcended Clichés | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
It's safe to say that a lot of the journalists attending this year's festival didn't see enough movies to assess the overall artistic lineup of the program; furthermore, they turned to buyers with narrow goals to provide the voice of authority.
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Alix Madigan Thinks Ted Hope is Wrong: Here's Her Keynote From the Sundance 2014 Producers Lunch

Alix Madigan Thinks Ted Hope is Wrong: Here's Her Keynote From the Sundance 2014 Producers Lunch | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Alix Madigan, who has both “Laggies” and “White Bird in a Blizzard” at Sundance 2014, has a different point of view — one that she presented as the keynote speaker at the Sundance Producers Lunch on January 19.
Justin Nalepa's insight:

Inspirational keynote speech from Aleix Madigan at Sundance on what it means to be a producer of independent film. 

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Sundance ’14: “Love Child” examines technology’s tangled web

Sundance ’14: “Love Child” examines technology’s tangled web | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
Filmmaker Valerie Veatch tells realscreen about capturing the collapse between real and virtual worlds in Love Child (pictured), a documentary about a fatal case of internet addiction from South Korea.Read More...
Justin Nalepa's insight:

I'm very interested to see "Love Child". Having lived in Korea for over two years, I can relate to just how connected everyone really is through the internet as well as the influence the gaming culture has had on people living there. It's easy to see how this can extend to international audiences as well, examining the ways in which we interact with technology now and going forward.

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10 Film Industry Predictions for 2014 « No Film School

10 Film Industry Predictions for 2014 « No Film School | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

As is customary at the beginning of every new year, we ask ourselves, “How will this year be different? What will change? What will stay the same?” As filmmakers, I’m sure most of us are asking these questions about the film industry, perhaps even making assertions and predictions about what we’ll be seeing in cinema in 2014, and founder of Sub-Genre Media, Brian Newman does the same. Here are his 10 predictions about the 2014 film industry. This is a guest post by Brian Newman.

Justin Nalepa's insight:

An excellent article on current trends and practices going on and into 2014 in the film business.

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Sundance docs 2013 - How did they fare in release? |

Sundance docs 2013 - How did they fare in release? | | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
There is no doubt that Sundance is the best launching pad for documentaries in the US if not the world. 10 of the 15 Oscar Shortlisted Docs premiered at Sundance, including the highest grossing doc of the year, 20 Feet from Stardom. Furthermore almost 90% of all docs had some form of domestic distribution secured. There has been a lot of chatter about the recent New York Times article talking about too many films entering into a shrinking marketplace. I am usually quite the pessimist and cynic, but in this instance it is one of the best things that could have happened for film. 
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Kossakovsky, Nelson George named TFI doc fund recipients

Kossakovsky, Nelson George named TFI doc fund recipients | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) has given nine docs a total of US$175,000 as part of its TFI Documentary Fund, while the second annual TFI/ESPN prize went to The Punch (pictured).
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Distribution Case Study Masterlist

DISTRIBUTION CASE STUDY MASTER LIST:

 

AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story http://bit.ly/1alXFCE (US doc; hybrid strategy)BASS ACKWARDS (US narrative, micro budget, used “Sundance as a publicity platform for releasing the picture directly into the marketplace; to subvert the system of selling one’s film at a major festival and instead to use Sundance as a vehicle to go directly to the audience”) http://bit.ly/1aPXpObBEING

 

GINGER http://bit.ly/GNJcXa (Scottish doc)BLAST! http://bit.ly/15MR054 (US Doc; direct distro; strong education market exploitation). Not so much a “case study” as an overview article.

 

BONES BRIGADE http://bit.ly/1aa7fHz (US doc, utilizing great merchandise; direct distro)ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW: http://bit.ly/HqntWs (US Indie feature; direct distro via PDA) Okay, it’s not a case study — just a release of intial D&D VOD numbers, but it’s a start.

 

A FIELD IN ENGLAND: http://bit.ly/IpWBFY (UK micro-budget feature, day&date UK multiplatform release)

 

I AM BREATHING: http://www.iambreathingfilm.com (UK doc on ALS, not a case study but a good example of a direct distribution website)

 

INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE  http://bit.ly/19zh9rk (US doc; direct distribution)

 

LUCIA (The First 10 Days Of Online Release) http://bit.ly/17VODO1OBJECTIFIED http://bit.ly/Kci5qy (US Doc, filmmaker toured with film)

 

SOUND IT OUT: http://bit.ly/17JTrSH (UK doc, utilizing crowd funding)

 

STAINED (2010): http://bit.ly/1aRaggY (Canadian horror film)

 

TRANSCENDENT MAN: http://bit.ly/1c203lh (US doc, a hybrid model utilizing a special event tour, collapsed windows across all mediums, and innovative new portals through which to share the film.

 

THE WAY WE GET BY: The DIY Chronicles (US Doc)

Part One: Finding A Spot In The Line Up

Part Two : Timing Is Everything

Part Three: Going Local & Maximizing Your Distribution Window

Part Four: Minimize Your Loss And Hope For A Greater Payoff In The End

Part Five: Going Local Pays OffWHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY: http://bit.ly/1aaIizJ (US narrative)

Justin Nalepa's insight:

Great list of distribution case studies, marketing, and engagement examples put together by Ted Hope and others for documentary and narrative independent films. 

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Why 2013 Was a Banner Year For Documentaries, And 2014 Looks Even Better

Why 2013 Was a Banner Year For Documentaries, And 2014 Looks Even Better | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

"A banner year for documentary" is what you’re likely to have read in more than a few year-end overviews in recent weeks, and not without reason: 2013 was a great year for documentaries, though also one that drew attention to the ways in which our (mis)use of that word tends to shape and shift our expectations. “Documentary,” after all, is a formalist construction, a lens that can clarify as much as contort the manner in which we view a work and its responsibility to its subject and its viewers.

Justin Nalepa's insight:

This thought sums up nicely what documentaries have been exploring over the past few years and moving forward:

"Aesthetically and ideologically, the line between fiction and documentary has never been blurred quite so often, and quite so effectively."

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Docutopia: Six Great Underseen Docs of 2013 | SUNDANCE NOW

Docutopia: Six Great Underseen Docs of 2013 | SUNDANCE NOW | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it

There’s no disputing that documentaries such as The Act of Killing, Stories We Tell, The Square, Let the Fire Burn and After Tiller are among the best films of the year. And yet while year-end critics polls and Oscar short-lists have created consensus around the aforementioned films, many excellent films are being left behind. Polling de-personalizes what should be a very personal experience, turning favorite stories and cinema experiences into mere numeral rankings. Bean counting doesn’t tell us anything about the uniqueness or flavor of the bean.

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88 Cinematographers Share the Best Professional Advice They’ve Ever Received

88 Cinematographers Share the Best Professional Advice They’ve Ever Received | Documentary Landscapes | Scoop.it
88 cinematographers and ASC members reveal thoughts, advice, tips, and tricks they've received that helped them throughout their professional careers.
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