Sunday, April 24, 2016

UTDF Film School #0005: Dependability

Hiring dependable people and being a dependable person is one of the most important characteristics of a filmmaking professional. All artists struggle with this concept. I certainly have in the past, and dependability is a trait we all have to work to maintain.

Dependability is one of the most admirable traits of a film production professional, or any professional for that matter. Be on time. Don't cancel. Don't lie. Don't schedule a crew if you do not have a key actor scheduled and locked down.

And certainly do not schedule a crew and confirm the day prior if you do not have one of your principals cast (you know who you are.)

On the other side of the coin, don't stand up people or make excuses for missing a shoot. You get to that shoot. Get there early, plan for time delays (traffic, lines at the gas station, etc.)

When you go to set, be determined to assist the production. Go to bed early the night before a shoot, and thoroughly take care of all of your hygienic needs. Be organized and meticulous. Plan for the best, and prepare for the worst. People are depending on you, so be a dependable person. There are no excuses. You cannot think about a second chance, you only get one life. Don't be un vitellone. Take charge of your life.

You can still be a kid at heart while conducting yourself as an adult. Take responsibility for your actions in order to be even more dependable. And with all that said, be a nice person. It doesn't hurt. There's a difference between getting stressed out and angry and an incredible douche bag. Learn to communicate effectively and appropriately. It might not come easily at first, but eventually it will all slide into place.

Additionally, learn to identify truly dependable people. Most people seem eager and dependable on the surface, but many are not. Dependable people are what you need on a set. Sometimes your friends cannot provide the type of dependability needed on set, but if you're lucky enough, sometimes your friends are the only ones that provide dependability; I've experienced both scenarios. Meanwhile, I've been undependable and dependable. I prefer to be a dependable person.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I am definitely one of those people that is rather upset that a new episode of Elementary was skipped in order to fill the slot for the Country Music Awards. Super dumb. Elementary is my favorite currently airing television show.

Johnny Lee Miller is one of my favorite actors (I love Hackers!) And I even like Lucy Liu's as Watson. I use to think she was one of the most annoying actors.

I've heard some supposed purists talk about how Watson can't be a female, but I honestly think the notion is ridiculous and the reimagining is rather clever.

Furthermore, these many of these supposed purists have never read Sherlock Holmes, and they seem to come out in protest of the character only to wave their sexist flag of bullshit.  

Elementary is one of the best shows on television. And they sure haven't  ended a season like the most recent season of The Walking Dead, so I would say that it has moved up to tie for first place with The Walking Dead. Honestly though, I'm just being bitter. Once I settle down, I'm sure Elementary will slip back to 2nd place. Nonetheless, it's still an amazing show, and allows viewers to stream the last five episodes free of charge. (A new episode better air tomorrow dammit!)

Friday, April 8, 2016

UTDF Film School #0004: Film Riot & Indy Mogul

There are tons of awesome filmmaking channels on YouTube, but Film Riot and Indy Mogul are my favorites. These guys' tutorials are unbeatable.

Their videos are not only exciting  and fun to watch, but also provide a robust knowledge of the filmmaking craft. Furthermore, these channels are especially useful for individuals that know little or nothing about making a film.

Please note: we are not affiliated with either of these channels whatsoever. Just take the advice and check them out. But don't just "check them out," learn from them and put their techniques to use!

Film Riot:

Indy Mogul:

It seems as though Indy Mogul no longer publishes videos. However, the channel has over 1,200 tutorials on filmmaking. "Indy Mogul was an Internet-based video webcast geared toward independent filmmakers" (Wikipedia).

Meanwhile, there's no reason to be upset, because as far as I am concerned, Ryan Connolly and Film Riot continue to publish the best filmmaking tutorials on the planet.

"Film Riot is a how-to trip through filmmaking from the mind of Ryan Connolly.

From how to make great effects to following Triune Films through production, Film Riot explores the art of filmmaking in a way you've never seen" (

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Legend (2015)

Tom Hardy never stops being incredible, that's all there is to it. This guy is utterly amazing. Meanwhile, Legend is about two British gangster twins (Ronnie and Reggie Kray,) so this mean that we get twice the Tom Hardy for our money.

I enjoyed the film, and the first half of the movies was highly entertaining. However, somewhere during the second half of the second act things started to slip. It felt as though the writer started out with a great story, but didn't really know how to end the thing.

Additionally, the color correction/D.I. was a little awkward and distracting. In some ways, it seemed bush league, but maybe that's just me. I am by no means a colorist, but I feel as though the color work done on Legend was a little too heavy handed.

Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed and recommend watching Legend right away, and I would definitely watch it again. Tom Hardy's performances are flipping extraordinary (as always,) I guarantee that if someone else was playing these parts, I would not be writing about the movie.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

UTDF Film School #0003: Watch Movies

The real first lesson of any film school is watching movies. Yes, watching movies. Okay, it's incredibly obvious and it has been said a million times, but seriously watch more movies. The primary source for learning about films and filmmaking is the source. Additionally, I am not of the mindset that you always need to watch movies with a "critical eye" or that you have to watch the classics.

Personally, I often find a bunch of the classics and the so-called, "Best Movies Ever Made" rather boring. That said, I'd rather watch 12 Angry Men over and over again than The Avengers. Nonetheless, simply watch movies. Watch good movies, watch bad movies, watch the classics, such as the movies from A.F.I.'s "100 Greatest American Movies" list, watch the movies you hate, watch movies from other countries, watch movies about other countries, watch indie films, watch blockbuster summer-popcorn movies... You get the point?

Understand the unique pacing, attributes, and nuisances of your favorite genres. Enjoy movies, and watch them for a greater understanding of cinema. Watch movies to make better movies. Watch them at home, and  watch them on your phone. Go to movie theaters.

Andiamo al cinema!

Watch Hitchcock, Scorsese, Rodriguez, Tarantino, Fellini, Coppola, Danny Boyle, Zac Snyder, Linklater, De Sica, Fernando Di Leo, Terry Gilliam, John Woo, John Waters, David Lynch, Sergio Leone, Kubrick, Fincher, Peckinpah, Burton, The Coen Brothers, etc. Watch them all. Those are just some of my personal favorites.

Buy Blu-rays and DVDs. Watch the special features: the making-of documentaries, the commentaries, the outtakes. Watch movies about movies and about movie making. Watch movies and learn.

Friday, April 1, 2016

UTDF Film School #0002: Reading List 1 Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices by Rick Schmidt is the quintessential DIY, independent, renegade filmmaking handbook. Other books (even within this list) will drop the renegade adjective, and these individuals are often renegades. However, Rick Schmidt is the true renegade of filmmaking authors.

Growing up, if you did not know of this book, you didn't really want to be a filmmaker.

The book is definitely dated in some ways, and Schmidt has released a newer book called Extreme DV. However, Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices' style of old-school filmmaking remains highly important and exciting.

The book illuminates processes rarely taught in most modern-day film schools (certainly not mine). For example, the book teachers readers how to building a celluloid film editing bay. While I have never built one, I want to dammit, and this is simply valuable information that filmmakers of all kinds should carry with them in order to help carry the torch.

As far as the UTDF Film School is concerned, Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices is the starter's Bible to filmmaking (Kevin Smith would agree.) To the best of my knowledge, this book is out of print, but you can click the cover to find it used! If there are "classic" filmmaking books, this one is at the top of the list. 
2. The Elements of Screenwriting by Irwin R Blacker is a great starting point for learning screenplay writing.

The book covers all of the basic foundations of screenwriting, such as formatting, pacing, structure, storytelling, developing ideas, creating characters, and so much more. The book is easy to understand, but provides advanced insight into learning the craft of screenwriting.

In my opinion, if you really want to be a screenwriter but know nothing about screenwriting, you should start with this book.
3. Make Your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director by Lloyd Kaufman, et al. (See what I mean about "renegade"?)

Nonetheless, Lloyd Kaufman is also worthy of the title. I am not a big fan of many Troma movies, but I am a huge fan and I have always been inspired by Troma Entertainment as a production company, Lloyd Kaufman, and this book.  

Make Your Own Damn Movie is funny and enjoyable. Kaufman breaks down key crew roles and production elements to their rawest form, so filmmakers can explore the basic components of production in order to make their own damn movie.

And there is no better way to learn about making films than to start making films!
Postscript: I noticed recently that Kaufman also released Make Your Own Damn Movie DVDs some time ago. While I have never seen them, Volume 1 is free streaming with an Amazon Prime Membership! I will be watching it ASAP. 

Every so often we will provide a reading list such as the reading list featured in this post. Each list will have three books that at least one staff member has read. Many of these books can be found at used bookstores, libraries, and/or online. Read these books. Use the comments section below and let us know what you think or if you have any questions. While we're not guaranteeing we will reply to all questions and comments, we would certainly like to hear from you. Also please do not hesitate to comment with suggestions for the film school. Class has just started, and it can always be better. Thanks for reading.