I just finished reading an interesting blog post from Africa is a Country http://africasacountry.com/2012/07/16/five-alternative-filmmaking-collectives/. Although the post dealt with a specific set of films, it made me think of how film-making has changed over-all.
Everything is digital – with the advancements made on the digital front a lot of ‘new’ films are being shot entirely on a digital format. The superior 2010 film Monsters was made with a two person crew they used “off the shelf” $8,400 cameras, editors, digital effects programs and other “common” software programs. Monsters, besides being an entirely ‘digital’ film also could be labelled the zenith of “guerilla” film-making.
The film-makers travelled to each location and filmed quite a lot of the time without any local authority’s permission. The ‘extras’ were not ‘actors’ but real people who happened to be in the area where they were filming. The two film crew members, would then edit the day’s footage in their hotel room at night.
Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who up to this point was better known as a documentary film-maker, Monsters is his first venture into the feature-length arena. The script he wrote had little to no dialogue in it. The scenes in the film with the two protagonists are mostly improvised rather than scripted. Amazingly this seems to work in making the film seem more believable.
The film is about two Americans who are trapped in Mexico by a quarantine. The Americans, Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) and Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) spend the entire film trying to get back to US soil and dodging alien monsters, opportunistic people and the elements.
Kaulder is actually in Mexico on an assignment. Wynden’s father has hired him to find her and bring her home. Wynden is a sort of ‘Greenpeace’ “Save the world” type and she is initially reluctant to leave the alien infested Mexican/American border.
The film-makers help sell their film and their aliens by deciding to make them huge. Shots in the film ‘featuring’ the aliens show us enormous legs or trunks and refrain from showing us the actual bodies of the aliens till the end of the film.
The sets and the actors look gritty and real. That director Edwards has a background in documentaries this is evident from the very first frame of the film. Monsters looks and feels like a documentary. We feel like a fly on the wall watching these two protagonists interact with their surroundings and each other.
McNairy and Able were dating during the making of this film and are now married, an interesting fact that helps to explain their characters interaction with each other in the film.
Digital only films are increasingly becoming the medium of choice by new film-makers. These digital films look good and apparently the ‘run of the mill’ editing programs on the market are very good, because the editing in most cases is almost flawless. Asian cinema has been making ‘mainstream’ films digitally for some time now.
Not too long ago actor Gary Oldman made a music video filmed entirely on a mobile (cell) phone. In 2009 Juliet Landau filmed the entire process for a short documentary entitled Take Flight: Gary Oldman Directs Chutzpah. Intended as a no frills look at the filming process it looks instead at the creativity and thought process of Oldman himself. It also shows how the film medium can be captured with a device as simple as a mobile phone and still look impressive.
A lot of the filming community are mourning the new trend of digital film making. They have gone on record as saying that digital films are more transient than traditionally made films. That may well be true, but without the option of digitally made films, little gems like Monsters would never be made. And what a shame that would be.
- On a film set (dawn.com)
- How to Successfully Get Into Film School (answers.com)
- Calling All Young Budding Film Makers – ACT2CAM Presents The Big Film (sunderlandparents.wordpress.com)
- Martin Scorcese to abandon film to shoot movies digitally – News – Films – The Independent (westudyfilm.wordpress.com)
- The silver screen no more: distribution of film to cease by 2013 in the US (arstechnica.com)
- For whom are short films made? (thehindu.com)
- Classes in media studies (thehindu.com)
- Movie makers, film buffs gather in Lake Placid (northcountrypublicradio.org)
- An Odd Aspect of the ‘Alien’ Films, Including ‘Prometheus’ (screenphiles.com)
- PACIFIC RIM Comic Con Panel! Watch Guillermo & team tell HALL H some tantalizing teases about his next work. (aintitcool.com)