Want to learn how to write for Netflix? Join Story Expert John Truby for his FREE webinar May 25th


What is Auteur Theory? – Definition and Examples

What is Auteur Theory and Why Is It Important?

Auteur Theory is a way of looking at films that state that the director is the “author” of a film. The Auteur theory argues that a film is a reflection of the director’s artistic vision; so, a movie directed by a given filmmaker will have recognizable, recurring themes and visual queues that inform the audience who the director is (think a Hitchcock or Tarantino film) and shows a consistent artistic identity throughout that director’s filmography.

The term “Auteur theory” is credited to the critics of the French film journal Cahiers du cinéma, many of which became the directors of the French New Wave. However, according to New York University professor Julian Cornell, the concept had been around for a while prior. The Cahiers critics simply refined the theory.

“In the French New Wave, people developed the notion of the filmmaker as an artist. They didn’t invent the idea, but they did popularize it. A German filmmaker who started as a German theatre director, Max Reinhardt, came up with the idea of the auteur – the author in films. He came up with that around the teens….So, [director François] Truffaut and the French New Wave popularized it, or they revived it.” – New York University Professor Julian Cornell

A filmmaker singled out by the Cahiers critics who was the definition of the idea of the auteur is Alfred Hitchcock. By many Hitchcock was viewed primarily as a “vulgar showman” who made commercial thrillers.

“I liked almost anybody that made you realize who the devil was making the picture.” – Howard Hawks

However, his obsessions that showed up repeatedly in his films and the distinct imprint of his personality that appeared in all of his works made him a prime candidate for critical focus within the context of a theory that fetishizes the idea of a singular, distinctive vision that can be seen clearly throughout an entire career.

In all of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, the audience can see certain ideas and images that pop up again and again. This is where the term the “Hitchcock Blonde” came from.

Think of Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, Coppola, Fincher, Nolan, PT Anderson, Burton, Tarantino, Wes Anderson or Cassevettes, they all have such of unique style all onto themselves. Many of them have such a strong visual style that you can recognize one of their films from a few frames of the film.

Check out the videos below to go deeper into Auteur Theory.


Need Sound Effects for your short or feature film project?

Download 2000+ sound effects designed for indie filmmakers & their projects for free.

The Origins of Auteur Theory

Auteur – it’s a favorite term of cinephiles around the world. But what exactly is Auteur Theory? In this Filmmaker IQ course we peel back pages of time and explore the origins of Auteur Theory from the economically tumultuous adolescence of French Cinema to the culture war waged in the columns of competing American movie critics.

Auteur Theory in Hitchcock’s Work


What is CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery)? Definitions & Examples

It’s a technology that involves the creation of realistic-looking images, which are usually for movies, television or other forms of visual media. If you’ve ever watched a movie, then you’ve probably seen computer animation. It’s the process that creates animated images. Static images are also created using this method. Computer animation only refers to moving images.

It is also used in computer games and virtual reality. While the term “virtual reality” has been around for decades, it is only recently that it has started to gain traction in mainstream culture. So what does CGI stand for?

What is CGI technology?

The year CGI (computer generated imagery) was invented is difficult to pinpoint because of the evolution of computer graphics. It was most likely around the 1960s when various inventors and companies played with the new and evolving world of computer animation.

Most of this was 2D in scope, but all of it was being used in disciplines ranging from science to engineering and medicine. As CGI technology evolved, so did the ways filmmakers sought to use it in their films. This includes 3D models of people, monsters, buildings, cars, explosions, and so much more.

The best way to describe CGI is as an industry of visual effects (VE) and visual effects artists. This means the people and companies that create VFX work for film and television, and it includes not only the big names but smaller studios and individuals who specialize in one type of VFX. CGI can be seen in movies like, Avatar, Star Wars: A New Hope, and Avengers: End Game. It can also be used to fill in details in environments and create realistic scenarios.

For example, CGI can be used to show a car getting blown up by an explosion. CGI is one of the best methods to create realistic looking images. If a lot of the images look believable, it is because the creators used good CGI techniques.

This includes using high-quality software, and choosing models that are similar to the objects they are representing. CGI is a big part of the industry today, and the more it is used, the more demand there will be for those who use it. As this industry continues to grow, so does the need for new jobs. A number of VFX companies have started hiring for their own projects and for freelance jobs.

Some VFX companies are very large, and others are small. The size of the company is important, because it determines the number of VFX artists they employ. There are many ways to get into the business. For example, you can become a student, work for another company, or start your own. The most popular way is to find work as a freelancer. The internet is a great place to find work.

Companies and individuals can hire you directly. However, it is also possible to find freelance work on sites like Upwork.com. When working for other companies, you must be careful to keep all of the details about the project and client confidential. It is best to create an account on Upwork that only lists your name, email address, and website. When searching for work, it is important to have a portfolio that shows off your work.

This will help the artists get more work. You can show a lot of examples of your work, but make sure to include more than just your best work. In fact, it is best to include examples from your entire career. Another thing to remember when searching for work is to keep your portfolio up-to-date. This will help you stay in touch with what is going on in the industry.

What is CGI Animation?

As we all know, computer graphics have come a long way in the last decade. Today, you can find 3D CGI animations, which are just as realistic and engaging as traditional 2D animated films. Even though these productions are more expensive to make, they can compete with even the highest-grossing animated films of the last twenty years.

And while it’s not as fun as being able to see the actors moving, the audience can still enjoy these productions. Animation is the most exciting development in the movie industry right now, as it’s moving away from 2D (traditional animation) and 3D (imported), to using advanced computer animation and artificial intelligence.

How does CGI work?   When you watch a CGI film, you are seeing the final product that has been rendered by a computer. The computer takes the original 2D drawing, and then manipulates the image into 3D form.

It uses software to create a virtual camera, which looks at the model and creates a digital representation of it on the screen. Then, the computer can manipulate the images and animations in the model to make them look like they are moving in real life.

For example, if the model is a person walking, the computer will manipulate the head, legs, arms, and body to make it appear as though the person is walking. This is how CGI works. What are the benefits of CGI animation?

The biggest benefit of CGI animation is that it’s very cost-effective. When you see an animated film, you know that the people who created it made thousands of drawings before creating the final film.

Pixar Animation and Toy Story

There’s no cinematic style that has embraced this new technology more than fully animated CGI movies. Stop motion animation has been a popular style for years, even while many movies were still hand-drawn. It was the closest filmmaking got to true three-dimensional animation, but it takes a lot of work and it takes time.

The computer graphics used in movies today are completely new, far more advanced than what was available ten years ago, and the tools that make these advancements possible can be used by anyone to make their own movies. Pixar were among the first to experiment with fully computer generated animation, and Toy Story (1995), which became known as the first CGI movie.

It’s not quite accurate to say that it is fully computer animated. It was a combination of hand-drawn and computer animation. In the film, there were a number of scenes where the characters were fully animated by a computer, but other parts of the movie were drawn on paper and then scanned into the computer, and then modified in the computer.

The scene where Buzz Lightyear is launched into space was done entirely by computer. There were also a number of effects that were created entirely in the computer, like the fireworks. But the main animation was all done on paper.

It’s difficult to overstate how much has changed since the release of Toy Story. It’s not just that we’ve gone from hand-drawn to fully computer generated animation. In the last decade, computers have become incredibly powerful.

They have become fast enough to render the images needed for animation, and they have become inexpensive enough that many people can afford to buy one. That means it is now possible for anyone to make their own movies. All it takes is a computer and a few hours of time. And the tools to make movies are easy to use.

The movie was critically acclaimed and a financial hit. It is known as one of the best animated movies of all time and inspired beloved sequels.

Other studios decided to try their hand at CGI animation, like Dreamworks, who first put out Antz (1998) with positive results. However, if any movie put them on the map for good, it was Shrek (2001), which was a massive success and has a major influence on children’s animation.

With the rise of CGI, more kids were interested in watching cartoons, and since the 90s, there was also a new generation of computer games that made it easy to create 3D graphics. This lead to many popular franchises coming to life, like The Incredibles, Ice Age, and most recently, Toy Story sequels.

The 80s and 90s also saw the rise of 3D technology, which allowed us to see things in a new way. Today, we live in a world where people are constantly being exposed to visuals in all forms of media, from film to video games and even our social lives.

We have access to a wealth of information at the touch of a button, and this has lead to an increased interest in learning.

Children’s television is now used as a teaching tool for everything from reading to math. Even though there are other types of media, like movies, that can also be educational, children’s television has an advantage because it’s usually tailored specifically to children.

How to Create Realistic CGI in Movies

In order to make the image appear realistic, it is necessary to make it a photo- realistic image. The final image is created by the artist using the computer’s drawing and painting tools to create a virtual camera, background, foreground, etc. A number of elements are added to the virtual world that make up the image, such as buildings, people, vehicles and so on. The virtual world is rendered by the artist in order to make it look real.

Depending on the complexity of the image, this process can take a long while. In some cases, the process is done by other artists in another location. The basic idea for an animated image will be the same as for a static image. The same techniques may be used for the static image as they are for the static image. There are some differences in the way the images are animated.

In order to animate an image, a number of different elements must be created and added to the image. These include:

  • A camera
  • A background
  • An object (such as a car)
  • A character (such as a person or animal)

There is a wide variety of techniques that can be used to create the virtual world and the elements that are part of the image. Some of these techniques have been mentioned earlier. In this section, we will discuss more specific techniques that can be used to create animated images.

Camera animation The camera is an important element of any animation. If the camera is not realistic enough, it will look like it is moving around the scene instead of being stationary. If it moves too quickly, it will appear as if the image is moving and not static. There are a number of different ways to move a camera.

For example, you can use a panning method. In this technique, the camera moves in a straight line from one side of the image to the other. This method is used to create the impression that the camera is moving through the scene.

Another method is called dolly-pan. This technique involves the camera moving back and forth on a track. This creates the illusion of the camera moving closer or further away from the subject.

Camera animation is used for the majority of animated images. Camera animation is used for the majority of animated images. The main advantage of camera animation is that it is simple to do.

Camera animation is used for creating the basic impression of movement in an image. It is used for the most important part of the image. It is the first thing that people see and it must appear realistic.

When the camera animation is done correctly, it gives the viewer the impression that the image is moving. Background animation A background can be used to create the impression that there are people or objects moving around the image. The background can be animated using either a flat animation or a 3D animation.

Flat animations can be created using a photo-realistic image or a cartoon-like image. 3D animations are used for creating a more realistic image. In this type of animation, the background is animated using a 3D modeling program. It is possible to create a realistic background using this method. For example, you can make a model of a building and place it in the virtual world.

You can then move the model around and add elements to it to create the impression that there is an object in the scene. You can also use a 3D modeling program to create characters.

The program will automatically render the 3D model of the character. This creates the impression that there are objects moving in the scene. Background animation is used to create the impression that there are people or objects moving around the image. Background animation is used to create the impression that there are people or objects moving around the image.

A background can also be animated using a flat animation or a 3D animation. If you are creating a cartoon-like image, you can use a flat animation.

In this case, you can animate objects that are not part of the main character. You can also create a flat animation of the background. For example, you can make a photo-realistic background and then animate it using the 3D modeling program.

Object animation The camera is only one of the elements in the image. There are a number of other elements that must be animated in order for the image to appear realistic.

Some of these elements include:

  • Background objects
  • People
  • Characters
  • Animals
  • Creatures
  • Vehicles
  • Object animation is used to animate the background
  • Foreground and the objects in the scene

Object animation is used to animate the background, the foreground and the objects in the scene. It is possible to create objects using a variety of different methods.

The Future of CGI

There are still innovations to be made, and Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic are at the head of this innovation with a technology called StageCraft. It’s used on the hit Disney+ show The Mandalorian.

It’s an immersive, interactive experience that’s more than just a way for people to watch TV. “This is a brand new approach to storytelling,” says executive producer Dave Filoni. “This isn’t just about taking something and putting it in front of you.

StageCraft brings together the most powerful of computer and video technology. It’s an outstanding product that incorporates several well-known companies: Epic Games, whose Unreal Engine has been behind the VFX for other productions over the last few years; (and video games, of course).

The system is built to handle any size of project. But it’s designed to make the most of the power of your computer. It offers a full range of tools to help you create your project, from compositing to rigging to animation. The system comes in two versions: a PC-based version, and a Mac-based version.

Inside the Mandalorean

We’re creating a world that is so real, you can almost feel it.” Filoni is talking about the Mandalorian’s opening scene, which takes place in a space port on the planet Jakku. He’s describing what StageCraft allows his team to do: to create an entire living, breathing universe with a believable cast of characters.

“Imagine being able to step inside that world and have a conversation with one of those characters,” says Filoni. “You could even go inside their mind. You could even go into the cockpit and feel what it was like to be there.

“That’s a level of immersion you’ve never seen before.” This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

The Mandalorian isn’t the only show using StageCraft. It’s also been used for Star Wars Rebels, and it’s been used for the new Netflix show Lost in Space. And if you want to see how StageCraft works, I suggest watching The Mandalorian. It’s the best introduction to the technology. StageCraft is a platform developed by ILM and Disney Research.

It’s a software-based tool that allows for a much more immersive experience than just sitting in front of a TV screen. Imagine that you’re inside a building. There’s a set that you can walk around, a costume that you can wear, and a character that you can interact with. It sounds amazing, but there are some challenges.

“We have to make sure that there’s enough space to move,” says Filoni. “We have to make sure there’s enough light to be able to see the environment. We have to make sure that it feels believable.” There’s another challenge too.

When you’re using StageCraft, you’re not just walking through a set. You’re interacting with it. That means that if something goes wrong, you’re in the middle of the scene, and you might not be able to get out.

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

“You’ll see a lot of people have this fear of it because it’s such a new thing,” says Filoni. “But once you actually do it, you realize that the danger is minimal.” The fear that many have had about StageCraft is based on the fact that it hasn’t been used before. “It’s a new technology. It’s never been used before,” says Filoni.

“We’re trying to build a system that’s safe. We’re trying to make sure that when people do it, they’re going to have a good experience.”

A big part of that is making sure that people know what’s going on. The creators of The Mandalorian and Lost in Space wanted to make sure that people knew that they were walking around in a set. “It’s a little bit like walking into a movie theater,” says Filoni.

“When you walk into the theater, you know that you’re walking into a set. You don’t have to worry about being in a real environment. You know that you’re going to be safe.

Stagecraft isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, but there are already some impressive results. And since StageCraft is a technology that Lucasfilm has access to, it’s safe to say that it will find its way into other projects at some point, if not in the next few months, then in the coming months and years. The new Disney+ Show The Book of Boba Fett will take the technology to the next level.

Down the VFX Rabbit-Hole

We’ve covered the basics of computer-generated imagery, but now it’s time to go down the rabbit-hole and see how it’s used in a number of different types of visual effects in movies. Up next what is VFX?

How to Make Prop Money for Your Indie Film

If you are making an action film, thriller, or crime drama chances are you’ll need a briefcase FULL of prop movie cash at one point or another. To create a fake money supply, you must first decide how much cash you are going to use in your production. You should figure out what amount of prop money you need to create.

Then, get some real bills and photocopy them at a copy shop. It is illegal to make color photocopies of U.S. bills, so you’ll have to do it in black and white. Once you’ve got your photocopy money, change the ratio. If you want your prop money to be slightly larger or smaller, then go ahead and print the bills.

The counterfeit bills are generally used to show the difference between the counterfeit bills and real ones. The film crew can also use money to make the scenes more realistic.

Prop money can be used to show an important event in a story, such as paying for something, or showing the audience how much a person has at his disposal. Prop money can also be used to make the audience feel like they’re watching a real movie, since they would use real money if they were in the film.

Check out some other tutorials below to help you on the way.

If you are not the DIY kind of filmmaker or just don’t have the time you can just buy some ready-made prop money. For $25 might be worth it.

PROP MOVIE MONEY Real Looking New Style Copy $100s FULL PRINT Stack – Total $10,000

  • $100 NEW STYLE FULL PRINT prop money stack with current bank strap.
  • Each “FULL PRINT STACK” comes with (100) double-sided production prop money bills.
  • The “BEST” quality and designs on the market used by the major movie studios worldwide by PROPMOVIEMONEY.
  • NOT SHINEY OR GLOSSY! Best and most realistic quality for on-camera use, training, or novelty.

Please note: Counterfeiting Money is a Federal Crime. Be smart and only use the above techniques for prop money used in film or TV. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?

Here’s a bonus. If you are needing prop money for your film you probably also need realistic and safe prop guns alternatives. Check out the video and link below for more on that.

How to Get Bad Ass Prop Guns for Your Film

Film Distribution Survival Guide (How to Actually Make Money)

Over the years, by far, the single most significant area where I have seen most filmmakers stumble on is film distribution. There is not a lot of information out there about the inner working of the film distribution process, let alone indie film distribution.

We have all heard the horror stories about and indie filmmaker signing a horrible distribution deal from film distribution companies, never getting a dime and losing control of their film for ten years to boot. As crazy as that might sound, it happens more often than you might think.

These stories are not outliers or exceptions; they are the rule. Most filmmakers have no idea what to do when they get into distribution of their film. For this reason I put together this Film Distribution Survival Guide to help guide you through these uncharted waters. I hope these few tips you are about to read will not only help you but save you time and money.

Traditional Distribution

As I stated earlier, most filmmakers suffer heartache when they deal with traditional distribution companies because of a few reasons.

    • By the time they get to this point in the filmmaking process, they are exhausted.
    • Filmmakers are ignorant about the entire process.
    • Filmmakers have no idea what to ask for or look out for.
    • Many times filmmakers never did market research to see if their film had any value and when the harsh reality hits them they have very few options, so they sign a predator distribution deal to get a digital release of their film.

Now not all feature film distribution companies are immoral or predatory. I’ve run into many good players in this game, but I’ve also dealt with some predator distributors that I wouldn’t trust to carrier my groceries up the stairs.

Here are some essential tips when looking at a potential film distribution partner.

Please note: You should always seek legal counsel when deciding to sign any agreement. The information I layout in this book is based on my experience being in the film industry for over 25 years and should be a starting point of discussions with legal counsel.

Do Your Home Work

Anytime you speak to any independent film distribution companies, always do your homework. Contact filmmakers, they have done business with in the past and ask them about their experience.

  • What did they do for the film?
  • Did they pay you?
  • How often and detailed are the quarterly reports?
  • Would you work with them again?

This one tip could save you years of heartache. I would call at least 3-4 filmmakers and compare notes. You can go to IMDB Pro (if you don’t have an IMDB Pro account get one ASAP) look up the films they have distributed before and reach out to the filmmakers of those films.

How Long Have They Been Doing Business

One of the easiest ways to see if the company you are talking to is better than most is to see how long they have been in business. This method isn’t perfect since I know distributors who have been around for years that I would never work with, but this does weed out potential problems.

If the company is new and the filmmakers they have worked with are giving them good reviews, then do homework on the key players of the company. Many times the CEO and founder has been in the distribution game for years working for a larger company, and he or she is opening up shop. The key is doing that homework.

The Devil is in the Details

Now you reached out to a distributor, have done your homework and you have a beautiful indie film distribution contract sitting on the table for you to sign, all your filmmaking dreams are about to come true, not so fast. You need to go over this agreement over with a fine-tooth comb.

First, have an entertainment attorney look over the agreement. Please do not use your uncle Bob who is a real estate attorney; he will not be savvy enough to understand the little tricks and fine print you will find in most distribution agreements.

Out of Control Expenses

Distribution companies usually will charge you for expenses they accrue in the process of distributing your film. Depending on the distributor this could cover, trailer editing, poster design, film market travel, final deliverables, E&O Insurance, Close Captioning, and many others.

The key is to demand a cap on expenses, which means that you are not responsible for any costs above a certain point. Let us say we cap the marketing fees at $20,000. If the expenses are $25,000, then you are only responsible for $20,000. So the first $20,000 made from sales of the film go to covering those expenses.

If you do not cap these cost and leave them open-ended, then chances of you ever receiving a dime for your film is extremely slim.

Length of the Agreement

I have seen distribution contracts that are ten years, some ever fifteen to twenty five years long. In a nutshell, the distributor owns your film for the length of the agreement.

If you have not signed a smart deal or made an agreement with a distributor that will try to sell your film, then you have given you movie away as a gift to this distributor. You can not generate any revenue from your hard work, let alone pay back investors, or recoup your expenses.

I have signed film distribution agreements for as little as three years, not the industry norm. Most arrangements are between 5 to 7 years. So make sure the deal you sign is a good one because you will be in bed with this company for years to come.

Audit Rights

In the agreement, you need to make sure you have the right to audit their books. I know of a filmmaker that insisted the company put this in contract and years later that filmmaker went into their office and checked their books.

They found thousands of dollars that owed to them. Most reputable film distribution companies will not have an issue with this.


This tip could save your film from falling into a dark prison that you cannot break it out from. Make sure there is a clause in the agreement that if the distribution company happens to closes, is prosecuted or goes bankrupt that the rights of your film return to you automatically. Again, most reputable distribution companies will not have an issue with this.

I know Sundance, SXSW and Cannes filmmakers that had their films locked up in the courts for years because of a bankruptcy. Trust me you do not want this to happen to you.

Paperwork Deliverables

Here comes the fun stuff, the paperwork. Most film distribution companies will ask for a mountain of paperwork to be delivered with your film. The paperwork is there to protect you, your film. the potential buyers and the distribution company.

Some of the paperwork you will need is the following.

Licensor must provide the following items to Sales Agent:

  • Contractual Credit Block
  • Synopsis
  • Production notes
  • Layered Key Art
  • High-Definition Frame-grabs
  • Digital production photographs
  • Lab Access Letter
  • Quality Control (“QC”) Reports with an “approved” grade must be delivered for all 
      high definition masters
  • Errors and Omissions policy maintained by Licensor for five (5) years
  • Complete chain of title comprising the following:
    • Copies of copyright registration certificate filed with the U.S. Copyright office with respect to the screenplay and the motion picture
    • Copies of a Copyright Report (including opinion) and a Title Report
      (including opinion)
    • A complete statement of all screen and advertising credit obligations
    • A statement of any restrictions as to the dubbing of the voice of any player, including dubbing dialogue in a language other than the language in which the Show was recorded;
    • Copies of all licenses, including, but not limited to: fully-executed master use and synchronization /performance music licenses; contracts; assignments and/or other written permissions from the proper parties in interest permitting the use of any musical, literary, dramatic and other material of whatever nature used in the production of the Show;
    • Copies of all agreements or other documents relating to the engagement of personnel in connection with the Show including those for an individual producer(s), the director, all artists, music composer(s) and conductor(s), technicians and administrative staff;
    • Final shooting script
    • Chain of Title Opinion
    • Certificate of Origin
    • The dialogue continuity script
    • Music cue sheet

What is E&O Insurance

Most film distribution companies need E&O (Errors and Omissions) Insurance. E&O is the insurance policy that buyers of your film need to have in place. If you have a scene in your movie with someone dying at the hand of a Coca-Cola bottle while the killer is wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, you are going to have a problem.

The E&O Insurance policy protects buyers from any legal issues your film might have. The insurance company will watch your movie, flag any problems then sign off once everything is to their liking.

Physical Film Deliverables

Film deliverables are the elements that the film distribution companies need to represent your film for sale. Deliverables is a deep subject, but I will give you a brief overview of the basics you will need to budget for when delivering your film. You will need to plan for the following items.

Digital Masters

You’ll need to deliver a Master ProRes 422 HQ Master Quicktime File of Your Film in 1080p and possibly 4K.

Textless Master

You’ll need to create a textless master as well that removes any on-screen graphics (i.e.: locations, time of day, credits) that are graphically placed on the film. These graphics need to be removed so foreign distributors can replace them in their language.

You audio will need to be in stereo and 5.1 surround. You will also need M&E (Music and Effects) separate audio masters for foreign sales (more on this later).

Trailers and Posters

Many times a feature film distributor will pay for new key art and trailer editing. If you feel that you can present the distributor with both then do so. It will cost much more if you have them pay for these deliverables.

Digital Cinema Package

In its purest form, Digital Cinema Package or more commonly known as a DCP could be seen as the digital version of a 35mm film print. Its main advantage is that you can present it to theaters to enable them to project it via a digital projector.

A digital cinema package is recognized and accepted all over the world. The digital cinema package comes in a briefcase. The case is usually either yellow or orange, but many theaters download the DCP from the cloud.

Does every film need a DCP, no? DCPs are just for theatrical exhibition. Do not spend the money on creating a DCP unless you know for sure you will use it.

Below is a typical list of deliverables you will need to provide to your film distributor.

Schedule of Delivery Items Required

LAB ACCESS: Licensor must provide lab access to Sales Agent throughout the active term of this Agreement for both the Feature and Release Trailer in each of the formats listed below. These elements are in addition to those to be delivered to Sales Agent in the following sections of this schedule:

  • Original Negative
  • Original Soundtrack Source
  • 35mm Interpositive or Digital Intermediate
  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Final Answer Print from Negative
  • 35mm Check Print from Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • Reel-By-Reel Fully-Filled M&E
  • MASTER FILE: a 2K or High Definition Apple ProRes 422 HQ
  • PROJECT FILE: Final Cut Pro, Premiere or AVID file (including all sound files)
  • PAL 25fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacam (DBC)
  • 23.98fps or 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) master on an HD-CAM SR tapes


Film Items

All elements listed below must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer. These elements are in addition to the prints being kept at the lab and may be used on loan to distributors:

  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • 35mm Release Print

Video Items

Masters must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer by Licensor to Sales Agent for all items listed below:

  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacams (DBC).
  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 16×9 Full Height Anamorphic masters on DBC
  • 23.98fps and 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) 16 X 9 Full Frame masters on a HD-CAMSR
  • MPEG-2 files in both PAL (720×576 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps) and NTSC (720×480 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps)
  • HI-DEF Quicktime files
  • CLOSED CAPTION files time-coded to agree with both the NTSC and PAL Digibeta masters in. CAP format (this can be expensive but I have a hack for you, see below)
  • BONUS FEATURES on a DVD video disk in both NTSC and PAL

Sound Items

Licensor must provide continuous audio elements to Sales Agent per below:

  • 29.97fps and 25fps sets of PCM or AIFF digital audio files
  • Sets of 5.1 digital audio files, either PCM or AIFF

As you can see, many distributors will ask for EVERY deliverable in the book. Sometimes the reason behind this ridiculous is just plain laziness. The company has an intern or office assistant email you an old deliverables list from the ’90s. If they are asking for Beta SP masters, then this is a dead give away.

Always ask what they need before spending money on deliverables you do not need to spend money on before writing that check.

What is Closed Captioning?

As any filmmaker who has ever delivered a film or video to distribution knows Close Captioning is a big and expensive pain in the butt. The process is convoluted, confusing and most of all  PRICEY.

The cost to have close captioning created for your movie, television series, web series or youtube video can range from $8-$15 per minute. On a 90 minute film that could cost filmmakers up to $1350!

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information. Both are typically used as a transcription of the audio portion of a program as it occurs (either verbatim or in edited form), sometimes including descriptions of non-speech elements.

Every feature film that is going to stream on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or any streaming service must have close captioning by law. There is just no getting around it. So you’ll need this.

I’ve been using Rev.com for a while now. I tested the service first with my first feature film. This is Meg, and it worked like a charm. I recommend the service to any filmmaker or client that will listen to me.

Every time I receive my close captioning (CC) from Rev, they have passed QC (Quality Control) for all my streaming options, including super strict platforms like Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu.

Good Luck

I hope this guide has helped you on you film distribution path. There are many sharks and predatory film distributors out but there are also many good, honest distributors out there as well. You are ultimately responsible for any deal you sign so do your homework and get ready do some work.

There is no magic film distributor that will come along, pay you a ton of cash, do all the heavy lifting in getting your film marketed and you just sit back and collect check for life. It doesn’t work that way.

If you want to do a deeper dive into film distribution, try enrolling in our FREE Film Distribution Crash Course. You can find how reserve your spot below.

Close-Up Shots: Why They are a Powerful Tool in Filmmaking

Filmmakers are constantly looking to capture every detail, emotion and nuance in the moment, making close-up shots a valuable tool in their arsenal. When you’re on a film set, your director will tell you to get in closer with the actors. It’s not about getting too close; it’s about getting the actor’s full attention and getting that face-to-face interaction.

That’s what I love about the art of close-ups. A look into the filmmaking process and the various ways in which you can utilize close-ups to tell a story.

What is a Close Up Shot?

Close-ups are a type of camera angle, focus, and design that frames an actor’s face. The close-up is usually used to frame a face, but they can also be used to capture a body part, such as a hand, leg, or foot.

A director of photography uses a close-up of an actor with a long lens to capture their strong emotional connection with the audience and to help show intimate details in the actor’s face that would normally not be seen in a wide shot, long shot, or full shot.

The close-up shot is usually used to:

  • Focus the audiences attention on a crucial part of the story
  • The highlight emotion and nuance in a performers faces
  • Develop a tone
  • To indicate importance
  • Story exposition

Many close-up shots in movies show important scene details that are helpful to understanding the story. These include clues, foreshadowing a later element of plot development, or adding to the mood or tone of the film.

The History of Close-up Shots

Close-ups have been used to enhance actors and actresses’ appearances in films since the early 1900s. Some early filmmakers, such as George Albert Smith, James Williamson, and D.W. Griffith, used close-up shots to enhance the appearance of movie characters.

In the 1910s, the close-up was used to display an actor’s facial expression. At first, the close-up was used primarily for dramatic effect. Gradually, filmmakers began to use it for many other purposes, such as to show an actor’s eyes and lips and express emotion.

Artists have been using close-ups for centuries, even before cameras existed. In 1656 Dutch filmmaker Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to use a microscope in order to observe details that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.

Since then, filmmakers have used extreme close-ups when filming intense scenes like a duel, or a fight between two characters. Director Steven Spielberg uses similar techniques to create emotional effects in his films.

Types Of Close-Up Shots

Close-Up Shot

This is a classic framing, where the actor’s face and shoulders are in focus and a little background is usually visible. It’s also common for this kind of shot to be framed by a background that’s slightly off-center, so the audience has a clear view of the actor and a little of the background.

Medium Close-Up Shot

A medium close-up shot include your actor’s upper body, and the background will include some of the environment or setting where the scene takes place.

Extreme Close-Up Shot

An extreme close up shot is used in dramatic moments in a scene. It allows us to see everything about a character as clearly as possible. It could be a close-up of their eyes to show them reacting to a moment, or a close-up of a character’s mouth to reveal what they are thinking.

Insert Shot

When a prop or scene detail is particularly important, the director will insert a close-up of that prop or scene detail into the story. Robert Rodriguez famously used inserts shots of his dog or a turtle in the street to save him in the editing process.

Considerations for Using Close-up Shots

With great power comes great responsibility. Before you use close-ups considering these important points.

Editing Close-ups with other shot.

There are two ways to combine close-ups with other shot sizes. You need to pick one way and then use it consistently. This will help you to tell a story and create meaning for the audience.

Combining Close-up and Wide-shot The wide-shot is usually used to show a wider view of what is happening in the scene. It can also be used to show a larger or more detailed view of what is happening in the scene.

Using the Close-up.

One of the most important parts of using a close-up is deciding what camera movement or technique you’ll use to arrive there. It’s easy to use a slow, smooth camera movement when moving closer to your subject, but the effect can also be very powerful if used aggressively.

When to use close-ups.

A good director will carefully select the type of shots he or she uses in a film, because different shot types help convey information to an audience. A movie with too few close-ups and other shots may not connect with audiences emotionally, but movies with too many close-ups may make audiences confused about the movie’s context.

Good filmmakers choose which shots to use carefully, and they choose them based on the story, acting, and visual effects that are present in the film.

Examples of Close-Up Shots Throughout Film History

There are several examples of close-up shots in Hollywood films, such as when a character is about to be killed and his last moments are shown in a close-up. In television, this technique is often used to emphasize the emotion of an actor or to add visual interest to a scene.

Close-ups can be used to show off the best qualities of the actor’s performance, such as their eyes, lips, teeth, hair, hands, or any other body part. However, they may also be used for emphasis or to convey a mood. Below are examples of how master filmmakers used the humble close-up shot.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Close-up shots are used in westerns to emphasize the characters and give them a better visual presence. One of the most famous and recognizable is from Sergio Leone’s classic western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It features Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach, and it uses a series of close-ups and insert shots to intensify the action.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a chilling horror film classic starring Jack Nicholson as a father who loses his grip on reality due to a mysterious disease and turns into a deranged, murderous maniac. The moment when he sticks his head through the door of the bathroom and screams, “Here’s Johnny!” is one of the most iconic close-up moments in film history.

The Jonathan Demme Face Close-Up

The close-up is one of the most beautiful and conventional shots in cinema. Close-ups share the same conventions, but the late, great film director Jonathan Demme put a signature twist on this old and practical technique. Most filmmakers choose to employ the close-up shot during crucial dialogue scenes, where the scene cuts back and forth to the characters’ respective close ups.

In most films, actors are placed in the center of the frame and are looking directly at the audience. Demme, on the other hand, places the characters in the center of the frame and has them look directly at the camera. This approach gives the camera an additional perspective and feeling of urgency, conveying a unique sense of poignancy.

What is it about this film that makes us feel such sympathy for the character? Are these characters merely looking at us as they do things? If so, then what is it about their actions or looks that make us connect on a deeper level? We’re almost inside their heads.

In fact, we’re really just outside the fourth wall, because we’re watching it all happen on screen. Here are some of Demme’s signature shots in his feature films.

The Steven Spielberg Face Close-Up

Master filmmaker Steven Spielberg is famous for using the slow dolly shot to create awe-inspiring moments in his movies. The great thing about the close-up is that it gives you complete control over the audience’s attention.

You can direct them to do almost anything. And if you can do it with your camera, you can also do it with your screenplay. The actor’s talent, the director’s experience, and the director’s ability to get the right performance are the three ingredients that make a good film or TV show.

Close-up shots are highly effective tools in creating strong emotions and developing exposition and plot. Indie Film Hustle Academy can help you learn more about this technique and many other types of close-up shooting in one of our comprehensive filmmaking programs.

IFH 560: Getting Your 1st Film Off the Ground with Brian Petsos

Today on the show, we have actor, writer, director Brian Petsos. Brian is the writer director of the new film, “Big Gold Brick” starring Andy Garcia, Oscar Isaac, Megan Fox and Lucy Hale just to name a few.

After graduating from art school, Brian Petsos eventually began acting and improvising. While in the conservatory at Chicago’s famed SecondCity, he started writing; and later he began making films. Since leaving Chicago for New York City, he has carefully expanded his repertoire to include varying wor ks that he has written, directed, produced, performed in, or some combination thereof.

Petsos started his company, A Saboteur, with the mission of producing innovative, original, boundary – pushing films that challenge traditional expectations and underline artistic integrity. His work has run the gamut, from short form content on HBO and spots for commercial clients, to full – length feature films and writing scripts for major studios.

But today he is primarily focused on writing, directing, and producing his own distinctly flavored work. Petsos’s highly anticipated feature debut, BIG GOLD BRICK, will be released by Samuel Goldwyn Films in North America in winter of 2022.

The film recounts the story of fledgling writer Samuel Liston (Emory Cohen) and his exper iences with Floyd Deveraux (Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia), the enigmatic middle – aged father of two who enlists Samuel to write his biography.

Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac, Megan Fox, Lucy Hale, and Shiloh Fernandez round out this incredible cast in key supporting roles. The film was written and directed by Petsos, and produced by Petsos and Greg Lauritano under Petsos’s A Saboteur banner, with Executive Producers Isaac and Kristen Wiig.

Prior to BIG GOLD BRICK, Petsos wrote, directed, and produced the highly lauded LIGHTNINGFACE (starring Isaac, executive produced by Isaac and Wiig; lightningface.com). The film was an Official Selection of over 30 festivals around the world — including the 60th edition of the BFI London Film Festival, among other high lights.

It received a Best Actor nomination for Isaac at the 2017 Vaughan International Film Festival and a nomination for Best Narrative Comedy at the 2016 Miami short Film Festival, and it was the winner of both the Vortex Grand Prize at the 2016 Rhode I sland International Film Festival and Best Short Film at the 2016 Filmfestival Kitzbühel.

The film premiered online in summer of 2017 as a highly coveted Vimeo Staff Pick and received an abundance of press coverage — from The Hollywood Reporter to The Huffin gton Post, from Indiewire to /Film, to Slate, BuzzFeed, Gizmodo, Film Threat, Nerdist, and many other outlets globally — which ignited virulent enthusiasm and a continuing flurry of social media chatter.

Film School Rejects referred to it as, “Quite simply one of the most intriguing short films of 2017,” adding that, “if LIGHTNINGFACE is eligible for an Oscar Nomination…the other contenders should look out.”

Brian and I had a very raw and open conversation about how difficult it was to get this project.

Big Gold Brick recounts the story of fledgling writer Samuel Liston and his experiences with Floyd Deveraux, the enigmatic middle-aged father of two who enlists Samuel to write his biography. But the circumstances that lead up to this arrangement in the first place are quite astonishing—and efforts to write the biography are quickly stymied by ensuing chaos in this darkly comedic, genre-bending film.

We really get into the weeds about how difficult it was for them to get it going off the ground. Just because he had major talent involved doesn’t mean that it got any easier getting the budget together and so many other little gems.

Enjoy my conversation with Brian Petsos.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show, Brian Petsos. How you doing, Brian?

Brian Petsos 0:14
Really good, man. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:16
I'm great, brother. I'm great. Thank you so much for being on the show. Man. I'm, I'm excited to get into the weeds with you on your new film, big goal break, dude, because like I was saying, I want to ask you in a little bit. How the hell did this get produced in today's world is fascinating to me. But before we go down, that the insanity that is big old brick, what is how first of all, how'd you get into the business man?

Brian Petsos 0:41
Sure. So I actually Well, I went to art school. And part of my education, which I sort of designed my own program was, I started off kind of on the directing path in film. And I was I grew up a film buff, both of my parents are like huge film buffs. And so it was just always a thing that I really wanted to try to see if I could do and, and make stuff and was very discouraged. Actually, after a year with that kind of focus. I kind of always been like an ideas person. And that was so vocational, that it sort of set me off doing other art making, basically, and then was sort of coerced into going to Second City by a bunch of friends repeatedly goading me. And so I ended up at the Second City doorstep one day and started studying there. And absolutely loved improvising. And then I started kind of studying with improvisers would used to call straight acting. And, yeah, and then, you know, it's funny, because like our first day of class, I remember we all went to the bar after and pretty much everyone wanted to be on SNL course, and I wanted to make movies. And that's kind of what I raised my hand and said, I was there to do and I know it's a super kind of circuitous path. But I knew that was something I always wanted to do. So then I started writing, I actually got an agent as an actor in Chicago, then I moved to New York, that agent got me a new agent in New York was very kind to sort of set that up. And then I kind of kept getting more and more agents eventually ended up at UTA as an actor. And then there was a point where I mean, I was writing and producing like short films. And there was a point where I just realized I, I had to, like, stop performing, because I really wanted to take a crack at trying to be a fancy pants writer, director, dude. And I just felt like I didn't want to be that guy who I with all due respect to my friends who do everything. We're like, Yeah, so I'm acting on this TV show. And then I'm also trying to get this thing I'm directing doing and then I just, I just was like, I need to go like, full priests style. And just give over and like, just see just, honestly, if it takes, like bleeding over, then I'm going to bleed. And so that's sort of where that one.

Alex Ferrari 3:17
So you went full monk, full monk mode. Full monk.

Brian Petsos 3:20
Yes. Yes. Minus the haircut.

Alex Ferrari 3:22
Yes. minus the haircut. So you did a lot of you did a little bit of right interacting with Funny or Die back in the day when when they were kind of launching and it was early on, right? They were only a couple years old or something like that when you were working with them. Right?

Brian Petsos 3:36
Yeah, that was, they were so kind to me, they were you know, I did some stuff that was a little bit higher production value, but the stuff that I was personally directing was like, really low fi. And, you know, still absolutely had its own kind of voice and stuff. But, but then we started, I was performing and writing and producing, we kind of made some higher production value things that they picked up for the HBO show. And they picked up two pieces of ours and sort of featured them as like movie of the week in the in sort of inside the show. And she gave it a like little premiere kind of moment. And that was really cool. And then yeah, and so that, you know, that was a great help and definitely got some of that stuff out there. And so I'm very thankful to them still.

Alex Ferrari 4:26
What were some of the lessons you learned from doing all that kind of work? Because you mean you were that I mean, I know a bunch of guys who worked in at Funny or Die and you know, that's kind of like running gunmen like you do everything?

Brian Petsos 4:38
Yeah, yeah. I mean, well, you know, it's, it's, I'm, I come from a long line of, like hardworking Greeks. And so this kind of entrepreneurial thing is been something twin a constant in my life. And I, for me, the only logical thing to do even when I was acting You know, I'm like new to New York is like, let's just start making stuff. And I think that served me really well. You know, initially, as as I do think there's a point where you need to slow down and not just make tons of stuff and really kind of tried to, you know, concentrate your resources and try to make bigger, more impactful stuff. But I think initially, it served me very well just get out and kind of gather, gather the troops and make stuff. So that entrepreneurial thing I think is a is absolutely a thing.

Alex Ferrari 5:32
Now, you, you hooked up with a couple of little actors, Kristen Wiig, and Oscar Isaacs, back in the day, you were doing short films with them and working with them? How did you get hooked up with those guys?

Brian Petsos 5:44
Well, I mean, Chris's are known for a while Oscar and I had the same age. And we're all here in New York, New York is a very small, very big town. So you end up kind of, you know, running into people and becoming friends. And, you know, both of them were involved. With lightning face, the short that preceded, they go brick, and you'll find a lot of the same people that were involved, because I kind of developed those two projects in tandem. Because I was writing big gold brick, and I knew it was gonna have a bunch of visual effects in it. And the only sort of, kind of higher production value short film that I directed was ticky tacky, which I shot in one day, by one day, I mean, I think we had eight hours of the actual set. So you know, so with lightning face, I knew that I could incorporate some of that visual effects stuff. And I felt like that was gonna really help buffer out conversations, when people got this big goldbrick feature script. And they're reading all these crazy visual effects sequences. I was like, I can do it.

Alex Ferrari 6:53
Here's, here's a proof. Here's some proof.

Brian Petsos 6:55
That was the whole but evidently, it worked out a little bit, I guess.

Alex Ferrari 6:59
So then you you've been acting for for many, many years. What from your acting experience did you bring into your directing and writing?

Brian Petsos 7:08
For sure, I think, to start with the writing, actually. You know, I, I've been told that I tend to shed light on even smaller characters, or at least give smaller characters. A moment here, there, which is something that I really appreciate, especially as an actor, because I do try to really think about creating a moment for everyone. But process wise, you know, improvising, is really informed my process as a writer, so just me alone. I'm kind of improvising a ton when I'm when I'm writing. So that means me sort of going through and playing multiple parts in a scene. Probably talking to myself probably pacing around my apartment. So yeah, there's there's a lot of that. Yeah, I know, it seems kind of crazy. So there's that whole side, which is, which is absolutely thing, the irony is when it goes, turns to time to be on set and shoot stuff. I actually don't do a ton of improvising. I probably am trying to come out of the Hitchcockian School of let's like come with a plan and try to stick to it as much as possible. It's not to say that I don't like I will absolutely let takes go places for sure. But I just I really need to know that what mechanically worked for me on the page, like at least we get that. And I also don't think of improv is like, I need my actors to try to be really smart writers while they're acting, you know, that's let's have them just be really good actors and hopefully trust the text. So that sort of, you know, I also think you can improvise in space and it doesn't have to be saying crafty stuff. I think you can think about performing an improvisational way that doesn't include necessarily having to create dialogue. Think that type of thinking I really hope I can foster but I really work with everyone differently. I feel like everyone has their own kind of needs. Hopefully my past as an actor, even though I never reached any real heights. I had a fair amount of experience in different venues. Hopefully, there's a commonality there and people can feel comfortable and at the very least, that comfortability will allow them to explore and I can guide them the best that I can.

Alex Ferrari 9:25
It's really interesting from from someone who comes to have such a strong improv background, you are more militant, a little bit more militant to the page than I would have thought because I would thought that you'd be much more loosey goosey on the page but I feel that you probably doing all the loosey goosey stuff in the prep in the in the in the development.

Brian Petsos 9:43
That's exactly what it is like and you know, I've I sort of consider my job is being like a perpetual student of the medium. Perpetual student of everything really, but definitely the medium as well. And, and I've read a lot about people that I admire that have similar kind of flow He's on this. I'm, it seems to me that that's gonna be the way it is for me. I really, I spent so much time writing a screenplay. Like I just, I just finished my next script, and I've been working on it for several years, you know, a fair amount of that full time. Right? So, yeah, it's, it's, um, you know, I write a pretty deliberate script. You know, hopefully I've done I've worked out a lot of the kinks by the time you get the PDF.

Alex Ferrari 10:30
Exactly. You know, and in any other any other profession, you walking around talking to yourself, they would commit you. But as a writer, that completely makes all the sense of the world. I've done that myself, like, as long as I'm writing dialogue in the scene, or something like that, I'll be like, and I'll catch myself like, You're mad. But this is a process. This is the process.

Brian Petsos 10:51
I don't know that I was ever a big talking to myself person until I started actually acting.

Alex Ferrari 10:57
That's probably a good, that's probably a good thing, sir. I'm just saying you shouldn't generally talk to yourself.

Brian Petsos 11:02
Like, you know, you're you're you're, you're on the subway, and you're running lines before an audition show, your mouth is gonna move a little bit, right, and then you just start to just not really give a blip.

Alex Ferrari 11:14
And if it's if you're in the subway, really, who cares? Really in New York,

Brian Petsos 11:17
New York subway, like, after the pandemic.

Alex Ferrari 11:21
No one, no one really cares. Let's just be honest, no one really, you're the on the on the scale of things that people are looking at. In the subway, you're probably really low on the totem pole, the guy talking to himself with a script, just a guy talking to him. It's just a guy talking himself. That's completely fine. Now I've shot a couple I've had my last two features were mostly improv. So I know as a director and as an editor, that it is fairly difficult to edit improv. So because it's just like, every takes different. So you're trying to find gems, and moments, and takes at least when you when you have scripted stuff, it's like, you get the same line 20 times. But when you don't, when you have every line is different. Every take is different. It's so difficult. Do you have any advice on how you put that together in the edit room and all of that, like, I usually try to get whatever's on the script once out. And then I kind of let them kind of go, generally, that's what I did.

Brian Petsos 12:23
I think, you know, you've I've not done a ton that I've directed that has been largely improvisational, I've performed in stuff that has been filmed that has been largely improvisational, but I always remember hearing about Christopher Guest having to wade through, like 80 hours to get down to to write and, you know, I that sounds to me, like

Alex Ferrari 12:47
It's insanity it's insanity,

Brian Petsos 12:49
Which is one of the reasons why, you know, I probably don't want to do that. I mean, it's it's hard enough wading through stuff that was planned. Um, but I think, you know, it's tough again, also, because time truly is money, especially when you're trying to be conscious of a budget, it's, the stuff really comes into play, but I would say, you know, to me, managing a bunch of improvised material is, I think, in the Edit to me would be largely organizational write, um, you know, finding a way to sort of, you know, filter through segments, like story beats as fast as possible. And then kind of honing from there. I mean, the closest thing I can think process wise is the way I actually work as a writer is I catalogue tons and tons and tons of notes. And my process is very editorial in weeding out or moving notes from one area to the other. So I think thinking about like, that massive amount of material that way is probably to me the most logical way to do that.

Alex Ferrari 13:55
Now, how do you? I mean, how do you direct any advice on directing improv improv because you've been involved with a ton of improv in your life. And you know, some people like Mark Duplass and, and just Winesburg and Christopher gas and these kind of guys who do a lot of heavy improv like, to the point where it's just an outline, a scriptment, and they're like, Okay, guys, you got to get from point A to point B, however you get there is up to you. That's how I basically did my first two features. And it's I always, for me, as a director, I always like I'm just there to catch, capture the lightning, like that's my job. That's my job is to capture lightning and make sure it doesn't go too far off the reservation and just kind of keep but as opposed to script, it's a scripted story. Your your, your lane is very thin, whereas within privates a lot wider, but there's still a lane that you got to control.

Brian Petsos 14:47
For sure, for sure. I mean, I think, you know, obviously, you're dealing with you want to sort of you want to be there to support a performer. I think, to me, good filmed and improvisational stuff Is, is not good until you have performers that you can really trust to do that. Because to me, you know, it's interesting because coming out of, you know, Chicago, at least the second city thing when I was there as a student, you know, all the way through the conservatory it was, it was, yeah, be funny do good improv but do good acting to correct. And I know in the conservatory program, and this the way it used to be, you know, it was pretty rigorous audition wise that it tends to, like really scale down to less and less people as you go through that whole program there. And I think the people that end up kind of the last people standing are really good actors that are also really good at improv. And so I think that duality, that's going to probably yield the best results if you're a director who's, you know, I mean, the level of collaboration is just different. It's a different kind of, you know, kind of arrangement you have with the performer, I think. And so it's to me, it's really more of almost, you know, playing the role of conductor, right, a very real way, whereas I am more of a voyeur, I think in my stuff. Sorry about the siren. Yes,

Alex Ferrari 16:12
You're in New York. It's completely acceptable.

Brian Petsos 16:15
This is This is white noise.

Alex Ferrari 16:21
So if you guys didn't know, we're not in a studio.

Brian Petsos 16:25
Certainly not.

Alex Ferrari 16:28
No, but I really do agree with your, your analogy of a conductor because that's what it felt like for me, when I'm directing that you're just like trying to move the different the brass over here, and the, you know, the the horns over here, and the drums over here, and, and all the different kinds of components to make the scene work. But they're kind of, they have a guiding force, but they're on their own. And it's really exciting for me, directing that kind of movie, it's like you're on the edge as a as a creative, and there's no met. And it's super exciting to know, again, you're making a half $1,000,000.02 million $3 million movie? Um, no, absolutely not. But if you make a lower budget film that you can do, it's super exciting as a director to play like that with the actors.

Brian Petsos 17:20
Yeah, I would imagine it is again, I've got much more experience performing right, and directing the stuff. But I mean, I, I still love improv, I'm very grateful for the education that I have and the experience that I have. And again, like I said, I don't discount it in any way I do try to think about it differently. Sure, you know, for me, I will tell you, you know, with big Olbrich being my first feature, and me also being a producer, I mean, every page I'm looking at, you know, there's there's money being spent, and I don't cripple my own, you know, creative side of my mind thinking about that, but I am absolutely cognizant of it. And it's very real. You know, the dollars they are swimming away.

Alex Ferrari 18:07
Oh, my God, it's, it's, it's, I still remember when I was shooting film back in the day, and it was like, when film would start turning on you here. And it was just a money burning, just money burning. And that's every second you're on set. Money is burning, it's very valuable, some of the most expensive time on the planet.

Brian Petsos 18:26
I know. And that's, you know, I've talked about before, it's so ironic that, you know, you spend all this time kind of, you know, in advance of actually shooting, and then you get any of this huge, very concentrated amount of time where you're working to the bone everyone is, and you know, you're making yourself ill and you just try to cram it all into the sausage casing. And it's super expensive.

Alex Ferrari 18:51
It's, it's an expensive sausage. It's an expensive sausage.

Brian Petsos 18:54
Certainly, what a strange medium.

Alex Ferrari 18:57
It is, it is it is a weird and wacky world that we live in, especially in the film industry. It's just and it's getting more and more interesting. Which, which brings me to how in God's green earth did you get the financing for big gold brick? And how did you get that film off the ground? Because you know, when you see it, you're just like, I am glad that this exists in the world. I truly am. How did you get this thing off the ground, man?

Brian Petsos 19:24
Well, first of all, thank you for being glad that that exists. Yeah, absolutely. It's so fun. Oh, that's I say that about a lot of movies. I'm like, I'm so glad this movie exists. Oftentimes, those are the movies that I cherish the ones that I say that about. I'm not saying you know, you necessarily cherish big break but the it's it's a it's a great place to be. You know, I'm someone as I mentioned, you know, an ex art school, dude, and you know, I It sounds pathetic. Just put, like the art side of it is like really, really important to me, the medium happens to also be entertainment. And that's something that I never want to disrespect. And I love movies that are just pure entertainment. But for me, the stuff that I really kind of worship on screen is the stuff that really takes that intersection and sort of savors it. And so that is kind of, you know, especially for this, this first one, I was very deliberate in kind of, you know, what I wanted this thing to sort of do when it got out there, that the thing that I just finished writing is much bigger, and probably a little more straight ahead, that that there isn't a couple snazzy parts here and there. Quote, unquote, snazzy. But But yeah, I, you know, this one had to sort of be what it was. And, you know, I think having the two short films precede this screenplay, getting out there. This is something I've talked about before, where, you know, there were certain people, both on the financing, and on the talent side who were like, this is just too much.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Likely you want to do all of this, and you've only done two shorts. Are you out of your mind?

Brian Petsos 21:14
Yeah, absolutely. And then there were other people who were like, you know, I'm down, like, Let's go crazy, like, let's get this done. And, and, and that happened, both with on the finance, the financial side, and, and with actors kind of coming and committing. You know, Oscar was, was the first person attached, because, you know, the whole lightning face thing, the genesis of all that, and Oscar is always just been such a huge supporter. And I'm tremendously thankful, I think, you know, when the scripts started floating around the agencies and stuff. I was very pleasantly surprised with, you know, kind of, you know, it's like I said, this, you know, you got a script out there circulating. The next thing, you know, Andy Garcia was just calling you and saying, let's talk about your crazy movie. And so, you know, that's a real moment, but

Alex Ferrari 22:07
I'll just stop for a sec. I gotta, I gotta unpack that for a second. What's it like, Andy? Like, Andy, for Andy Garcia to call you and you have that conversation for the first time. I'm like, Are you like, just kind of grabbing yourself a bit?

Brian Petsos 22:20
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 22:23
Just like literally just say. Yeah.

Brian Petsos 22:25
I think because I have just been such an Andy Garcia fan. Oh, like, I just his body of work is incredibly. He's amazing. And, I mean, it's, you know, I could I could talk about him for hours. But when he calls your phone and you've never spoken to him, yeah, you kind of need to stop shaking. And then you need to start talking about stuff. You know, you're aware of the fact that he's worked with Hal Ashby, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Steven Soderbergh. And then this is the list in the list here with his hat on. You know, so it's Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's,

Alex Ferrari 23:02
And then me, yeah, like Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Steven Saab, and me. Yeah.

Brian Petsos 23:09
And other people as well. But it says, yourself in that, in that in that context, it's absolutely fine. You know, so yeah, but I mean, you know, the way this there's such a dance, if I can just talk boring producer stuff. Sure. There's such a dance between compiling the cast and actually closing the money. And this was a film where, you know, I wrote a film, what you see represented, I think, ultimately, is pretty close to the script. Pretty damn close to the script. There were a couple sequences that I had to I had to peel some layers off because I, we didn't get quite where I wanted to financing wise, but I will say having having friends who make movies, I feel like we did okay, we did pretty good with the amount of money that we had to spend first feature especially I'm you know, I'm very thankful for that. But yeah, it's a process you know, you you get the cast and you get the money and you close the money and you make sure the cast is gonna show up and next thing you know, you're in Toronto shooting and it happened.

Alex Ferrari 24:10
Okay, the waiting for the money to drop phase of the project must it's just just torturous. Like, any day the money the money is gonna drop tomorrow, money's gonna drop tomorrow. And you're like,ohh god!

Brian Petsos 24:22
Well, especially when you have like, it's coming from disparate sources, right? I'm person drops out, you know what, like, now I have to go get this $500,000 chunk. And it's, you know, it's, it's a thing, man and I do have to say, like, there were two times I think we thought we had all the money and we didn't and delayed our start date. And, you know, it's, you know, you break down I mean, these I'm a pretty sensitive person. You know, I am no stranger to letting myself feel emotion. There's just gonna rip your hair out. And you know, I mean, that's your shed.

Alex Ferrari 24:59
Yeah. I want I want to make a point of this is that you had you know, Oscar Isaacs, you know, and, and Andy Garcia, and you had a decent a really good gas, not a decent gas, an amazing cast. And yet you're still having struggles to Close to close financing on films like that. And I want everyone listening to understand that that did like, oh, it's like, oh, well, you had Oscar on board. So it just must have been cake all the way. I'm like, No, that's the beginning of the conversation is having an Oscar or an Andy aboard? That just starts the conversation and then when that got the beginning of the beginning, exactly. And if money drops out and you got to go find 500,000 Well, Andy might be going on to the next Steven Soderbergh film, and you might lose them, because scheduling.

Brian Petsos 25:46
True as well, this schedule thing comes into play, you know, people are representative of very big agencies. And, you know, the whole agency system is is you know, I don't want to I don't want to like rain on the mystique, but it's, that's a businessman in a very real Oh, yeah, they're trying to make money and that's great. That's that's what their job is, is to make money. And if that means like carding an actor off to the next project like you're Sol and that's that and you're right. It's there's so many the plates that spin it's unbelievable. And you know, I've also talked as you said, like, yeah, Oscars my friend Oscars done stuff for the Oscars attached to this, like this. The pain involved in getting this movie together. I think it'd be impossible for me to put into language. It is not easy. It's not easy for anyone. Making an indie, as you said, doesn't matter how big the indie is. If it's an indie, any Hey, even if you have fancy pants, actors, it's torture. I would never advise anyone to do what I do

Alex Ferrari 26:51
I should have been independent filmmaker, absolutely not go get a real job.

Brian Petsos 26:57
I I've said before, like, film is the closest thing I have to religion. Yeah, if you want ledges go be religious man.

Alex Ferrari 27:05
Yeah, no, there's there's no question. And I just I always like to demystify this for people because some people just think because there's certain costs involved. You know, look, Scorsese has problems getting projects off the ground. Spielberg has problem getting projects off the ground. They're obviously at a much different level than you and I are talking about, but they still at their level, they're still having struggles. You know, the only person that probably doesn't is Nolan. He's the only person I think in Hollywood, you could just basically walk in anywhere and go, I want to make a movie about Oppenheimer. And I need $100 million. Who else?

Brian Petsos 27:35
Yeah, gets one hand is the amount of people that can just ease into something it's always difficult from what I gathered from from as a student of other directors and just doing a fair amount of reading and hearing some stuff, you know, through through people. It's, it's always difficult. i It's probably though it's probably a little easier for Scorsese,

Alex Ferrari 27:57
No question. But the thing is, is that it's just not trying to make a $25 million movie because he can make those movies all day he needs $100 million movies about two months

Brian Petsos 28:06
$200 million movies,

Alex Ferrari 28:09
Exact $100 $200 million movies with like two monks that are you know, going off and are silent for most of the film. Like that's, that's what he wants to do it. It's relative. I mean, look at Coppola. He's like, he can't get financing with Oscar. He's gonna Oscar is gonna be in this movie. And he's like, Screw it. I'm just gonna drop $120 million out of my pocket for my crazy wine money.

Brian Petsos 28:31
You know, I had heard that. Right. I believe I read it. If I didn't read it. I heard that for Gangs of New York. There was a point where a Scorsese wanted another 20 million bucks or something. Yeah. And studio was like, Sorry, man, you're cut out like we given you more like one or two times. That's it. He's like, okay, cool. And he just threw 20 million of his own dollars. And now, I'm happy to say I couldn't throw 20 of my dollars. Did her but to be able to buy coffee from my art department that day was was humbling.

Alex Ferrari 29:04
Wait a minute. How many coffees are you buying here? I mean,

Brian Petsos 29:07
He was like, well, Starbucks was like four

Alex Ferrari 29:09
Four I was gonna say there's not I was like, 20 How many coffees you buy with 20 bucks these days?

Brian Petsos 29:14
Canada man, so

Alex Ferrari 29:15
Okay, just five, maybe five, maybe five? Exchange? No, but I'm glad but I'm glad we're talking about this because it really kind of demystifies it a lot for for filmmakers coming up with they have these delusions in their head or illusions in their head that it's a lot easier once you get to a certain level. And dude, absolutely. Having Oscar attached to your project opens doors, but it's the beginning of the conversation. It's not like how much money do you want? Where do I send the cheque? That's not the way this business works with anybody really? It really is very few people who have the ability to just make things on a whim.

Brian Petsos 29:51
Yeah, I mean, I think I had the advantage. I did have some money attached right away. That helps. Yeah, it wasn't a ton, but it was it was it was a little chunk of the budget that was sort of pledged by, you know, someone who's have a fair amount of net worth. And that that also, I think helps, you know, even the agents here that at least, this isn't like a total fantasy and, and especially when they know, they know some of the finance years and, you know, it's it's a whole sculptural game, like I said, I've just kind of the money in the cast, and you're kind of piling all together and using your hands to, to work out the undulations of what the sculpture looks like. And it takes a little while. And then like I said, in retrospect, it seems like it didn't take as long but it's it was, it was a slog, man,

Alex Ferrari 30:36
Yeah, and then that's another piece of advice, if you can have some money up front in you, nobody wants to be the first one to the party. So if you can have even a little bit of money, it makes everyone feel a little bit more comfortable, that there is some money involved, you know, out and specifically, outside money, because even if you threw in the first 20%, that'd be like, yeah, that's nice. But you know, you don't have anybody at the party, still your party.

Brian Petsos 31:03
They're looking for faith. Right. And I think I think that's, that's what it is a lot of times, and, yeah, I mean, it's, it's, um, you know, I, there's also two different kinds of businesses in the indie world, I think there are people that wish you had the next kind of horror film, or the next, whatever it is, and there are other people that aren't trying to make those kind of movies. And so I think you'll find, you know, as you go through these conversations, the group divides pretty quickly.

Alex Ferrari 31:28
Now on on big old brick, you know, as directors, we always have that one day, if not every day, but I always look for that one day, that the entire world come crashing down around you. And you're losing, you're losing the sun, the camera broke, the actors can't get out of their trailer, something happens. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome it?

Brian Petsos 31:48
Well, we shot for 30 days, I had about 40 days worth of stuff. And we had to do it in 30 days. So to answer your question, that was day 12345. I mean, there wasn't a day where you know, from from a generator blowing up to, as I've talked about this before, there was there we were on the 55th floor of a building, which is Megan's office or law office, and someone pulls a fire alarm. Elevators go out, Megan, start sprinting down 55 floors, takes her heels off and starts putting down to decline floors. had to sprint back up. 50 not a half hour later. I mean, to say that, you know, that's, that was that was the kind of thing that would happen about every other day. Losing locations, sure, oh, I need I need 100 feet of clearance on a ceiling and a studio and I get 50. You know, so I have to cut like three really huge signature shots. Sure, I have to lean on the visual effects more than I intended to, which is also an expenditure, you know, after the fact. I mean, it's every day man, like, and I'm the writer, the director, and I have my producing partner, my producing partner. And then we also had Canadian producing partners facilitating locally. I mean, it's, it's, it's a tough job, man, I honestly, I feel like just sort of that it was my first time and it was, it was just guns blazing all the time. I didn't allow myself to like feel discouraged ever. It was just, I need to have an answer. I need to have it now. You are the person that literally everyone from you know, from whoever it is, you know, the literally the PA out there gathering cones to Andy as a question for me, and I have to have the answer to it. So it's no waffling. It's have the answer and just, you know, take the beating.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
I mean, so if anyone still listening who wants to be a filmmaker, you could just look at the bottom line is look, anyone who listens to my show, you know, knows how I feel about making films. I love it. It's an it's an addiction. It is a I call it the beautiful illness, the beautiful sickness. Because it's it well, we're ill we're ill. I mean, we're not well, this is not a normal way. But artists in general are not well, and that's what makes artists great and makes artists so wonderful to be around. Because they're insane. And I say that with all the love in the world. But this is unfortunately one of the most the toughest businesses for an artist to survive and thrive in than any other art. Really. I mean, music even is is tough, obviously, as well. But music doesn't cost that much.

Brian Petsos 34:38
Exactly true. I mean, someone like me, I get paid every two years, man. I mean, it's it's that that alone is tough,

Alex Ferrari 34:46
Right! You get paid every couple years and you're just like, What am I going to do? It's like it but you gotta love it. It's this this this kind of love for it. And like when when someone asked like, you know, should I go into the business and I will say absolutely not. If you agree or my advice, then you might have a shot? For sure. That's that. Because if I say, oh, yeah, come on in, it's great. I'm generally you know, then I'm a giant film school that's trying to sell you an $80,000 degree, that by the time you're in, you'll never pay that off.

Brian Petsos 35:16
Like, exactly true. I do think it does help if you think of it, like a calling, correct and not a job. And, and something that I've touched on before in conversations is, there is a certain amount of sacrifice, be great to be Todd Phillips, and make a movie as crazy as the Joker and make a ton of money making it

Alex Ferrari 35:41
And and have and play in that sandbox, play with that character with that kind of those kinds of resources with that kind of caliber of talent attached. It That's the dream, obviously.

Brian Petsos 35:52
Absolutely. But, uh, you know, you can't just walk into that door and be that guy. I mean, and so you know, but I mean, look, those those, those scenarios are out there. I mean, you know, but for me, it's like, if you just keep your expectations low, and stay humble, and, you know, I don't live a very crazy lifestyle at all, I live a very, very simple lifestyle. And, you know, to me, any additional money is appreciated. But it's, I just, I just keep it to where I can get the next movie going. And so that's the only way I know.

Alex Ferrari 36:26
So after this movie that Hollywood didn't come with the truck of money, and just dump it on your that's not?

Brian Petsos 36:31
No, I mean, look, I think I think people have read this new script a bit quicker than it took them to read, of course. But um, yeah, I mean, it's like, do you know, am I am I buying a new apartment this Saturday? I don't think so. man

Alex Ferrari 36:45
Not in New York. And Idaho and Idaho yet, possibly. Now, what is something? Is there something you wish you You're what is there something that you wish you could tell you, you could have told your younger self? When you first started coming in from your experience so far in the business?

Brian Petsos 37:07
Yeah, I mean, I think, well, you know, that's a tough one. I, if you if I could have told my younger self that wasn't yet in the business, I would say, you know, are you sure, I would say, being who I am now, I would say, you know, like, it's possible to make cool stuff and survive. I was very concerned, like, especially right out of college, that I was going to be literally homeless, and especially when you have no desire to create, but it's, it's a condition that you have to, which is something that I have, you know, I wish someone would have came in and told me, like, don't be scared, like, stick to it. You know, what I was going to say, in terms of my time actually working in the business in the professional realm. You know, I spent a handful of years out there as an actor. Yeah, you know, with with a real agent, like, you know, a pretty big agent, actually. And, you know, it's even at the time, like Oscar and I had the same agent. Oscar has already worked with Ridley Scott at this point. If Oscar and I are getting the same script, I mean, Oscars like, five notches above me on the roster there. So, you know, your job for someone like me was to go in Audition all the time. And I would actually audition quite a bit. I mean, even getting auditions is I've found is miraculous. So I'm out there auditioning all the time. And, you know, it's, it's at a point what I stopped acting, I kind of started from square one with trying to be a director. And even though I've achieved, you know, no real height yet, as a director, I've already achieved more than I did as an actor, as a director. And so good for you. I think this directing thing was a thing that I was going to do when I was like super old and gray. And something always felt wrong. And I got to the point where I decided to be a director and I think even you really need to listen to yourself and what is going to be creatively satisfying to you.

Alex Ferrari 39:11
Now where can people see the film?

Brian Petsos 39:14
They can see the film, in theaters, on demand, and digitally all the same time. Friday, the 25th of February.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
My friend I'm very excited about the film coming out and I am I'm proud of you sir. That you got this damn thing off the ground. This has been his journey and I'm so glad you shared the journey warts and all with the audience. And with my tribe, so they understand even a little bit more how difficult things are and what it was like five years ago is not like what it is today and what in five years from now, it will you know, I don't even know where we'll be trying to get these kind of projects off the ground but they you were able to get this off the ground. It is a small miracle, my friend, and I'm so glad it was it was able to be made. And when you're saying films that I appreciate that are that were made, I always think of Mars Attacks. Like, I like that Tim Burton got Mars Attacks made. It's not as bad as a system. It's not as best film by any stretch of the imagination. But that it was made that it exists. It is amazing. And when I saw this, I'm like, I'm so glad that he's been able to get this off off the ground and it's out there in the world brother. So I, I applaud you, man and congratulations. And I hope everybody goes out and rents it, watches it in the theater sees it on demand wherever they get to. So thank you, my friend, thank you for the inspiration to hopefully, we've scared off people who were never going to make it and hopefully inspired people who now are like, You know what, I think I'm going to go for it. So I appreciate you my friend.

Brian Petsos 40:55
I appreciate you and thanks so much.



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

Cinematography Books You Need to Read + Video – Top Ten List

1) Lighting for Cinematography

We can’t shoot good pictures without good lighting, no matter how good the newest cameras are. Shooting under available light gives exposure, but lacks depth, contrast, contour, atmosphere and often separation. The story could be the greatest in the world, but if the lighting is poor viewers will assume it’s amateurish and not take it seriously. Feature films and TV shows, commercials and industrial videos, reality TV and documentaries, even event and wedding videos tell stories. Good lighting can make them look real, while real lighting often makes them look fake. One of the best Cinematography Books out there. 

2) The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques

With the aid of photographs and diagrams, this text concisely presents concepts and techniques of motion picture camerawork and the allied areas of film-making with which they interact with and impact. Included are discussions on: cinematic time and space; compositional rules; and types of editing.

3) Cinematography: Third Edition

Since its initial publication in 1973, Cinematography has become the guidebook for filmmakers. Based on their combined fifty years in the film and television industry, authors Kris Malkiewicz and M. David Mullen lay clear and concise groundwork for basic film techniques, focusing squarely on the cameraman’s craft. Readers will then learn step-by-step how to master more advanced techniques in post production, digital editing, and overall film production.

4) Painting with Light

Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood’s consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in 1949, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of postwar American cinema.

5) Notes on the Cinematograph

The French film director Robert Bresson was one of the great artists of the twentieth century and among the most radical, original, and radiant stylists of any time. He worked with nonprofessional actors—models, as he called them—and deployed a starkly limited but hypnotic array of sounds and images to produce such classic works as A Man EscapedPickpocketDiary of a Country Priest, and Lancelot of the Lake. From the beginning to the end of his career, Bresson dedicated himself to making movies in which nothing is superfluous and everything is always at stake.

6) Grammar of the Film Language

This unique magnum opus — 640 pages and 1,500 illustrations — of the visual narrative techniques that form the “language of filmmaking has found an avid audience among student filmmakers everywhere. This “language” is basic to the very positioning and moving of players and cameras, as well as the sequencing and pacing of images. It does not date as new technologies alter the means of capturing images on film and tape. Basic to the very scripting of a scene or planning of a shoot Arijon’s visual narrative formulas will enlighten anyone involved in the film industry — including producers, directors, writers and animators etc.

7) Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers and Directors

The world of cinematography has changed more in the last few years than it has since it has in 1929, when sound recording was introduced. New technology, new tools and new methods have revolutionized the art and craft of telling stories visually. While some aspects of visual language, lighting and color are eternal, shooting methods, workflow and cameras have changed radically. Even experienced film artists have a need to update and review new methods and equipment. These change affect not only the director of photography but also the director, the camera assistants, gaffers, and digital imaging technicians.

8) Film Directing: Shot by Shot – Visualizing from Concept to Screen

A complete catalogue of motion picture techniques for filmmakers. It concentrates on the ‘storytelling’ school of filmmaking, utilizing the work of the great stylists who established the versatile vocabulary of technique that has dominated the movies
since 1915. This graphic approach includes comparisons of style by interpreting a ‘model script’, created for the book, in storyboard form.

9) Lighting for Digital Video and Television, 3rd Edition

Enhance the visual quality of your motion pictures and digital videos with a solid understanding of lighting fundamentals. This complete course in digital video lighting begins with how the human eye and the camera process light and color, progresses through the basics of equipment and setups, and finishes with practical lessons on how to solve common problems. Filled with clear illustrations and real-world examples that demonstrate proper equipment use, safety issues, and staging techniques, Lighting for Digital Video presents readers with all they need to create their own visual masterpieces.

10) Film Lighting Talks With Hollywoods Cinematographers And Gaffers 

Film lighting is a living, dynamic art influenced by new technologies and the changing styles of leading cinematographers. A combination of state-of-the-art technology and in-depth interviews with industry experts, Film Lighting provides an inside look at how cinematographers and film directors establish the visual concept of the film and use the lighting to create a certain atmosphere.

Kris Malkiewicz uses firsthand material from the experts he interviewed while researching this book. Among these are leading cinematographers Dean Cundey, Dion Beebe, Russell Carpenter, Caleb Deschanel, Robert Elswit, Mauro Fiore, Adam Holender, Janusz Kaminski, Matthew Libatique, Rodrigo Prieto, Harris Savides, Dante Spinotti, and Vilmos Zsigmond. This updated version of Film Lighting fills a growing need in the industry and will be a perennial, invaluable resource.

What is Mise en Scéne? – Definition and Examples

Working in the film business you hear many “inside” terms on a set like Apple box, MOS, montage don’t cross the line (to learn about the 180 degree line in a past article), etc. One such term is “Mise en Scene” or the translation “placing on stage.”

This is a French expression that refers to the design or the arrangement of everything as it appears in the framing of a film i.e. actors, décor, props, lighting, costumes and others. The term essentially means “telling a story” both in poetically artful ways and in visually artful ways through direction and storyboarding state design and cinematography.

It is also used to refer to the many single scenes that are within the film to represent the film. The term is broad, and it is also used among professional and experienced screenwriters to show descriptive or action paragraphs between the dialogs.

This is because of its relationship to shot blocking. The term mise-en-scene is called the film criticism grand undefined term. The term is so broad, and it defines and classifies a lot in the filming industry. The term roughly means to put into the scene or to place on stage.

Mise en scene is used to describe filmmaking and the process involved in the filmmaking process. In filmmaking, the first process is creating ideas for the film. Here, the right books or plays are bought. These are the source of the initial ideas of the film.

Production Design

Production design is a broad term that covers all the steps involved in putting together a production. It includes everything from sourcing the location, hiring the crew, designing the set and costumes, to lighting and sound effects.

A good production designer should be able to understand the big picture and work closely with the director to bring the vision of the film into reality. They also need to have a solid understanding of film theory and history in order to make sure the visual elements of the story are translated accurately on screen.

There are many different types of production designers, each with their own unique responsibilities. The most common position is that of production designer (also known as production supervisor), who is often responsible for overseeing all aspects of the production.

Another option is that of art director, which involves overseeing the overall look and feel of the production and helping to ensure the film is visually coherent. Other options include production manager, set decorator, costume designer, and others.

Production designers also work closely with the cinematographer, writer, director, actors and other crew members. In fact, if there’s a problem with the set or costumes, it’s often the production designer who is called upon to fix the problem.

The set is the main space in which the action takes place. It can be built before or during the shoot. The set decorator (or set designer) creates a series of set elements and props, or other items on the stage that will be used to create the desired atmosphere.

The set designer plans out the appearance of the set, determining what furniture, decorations, props, and any other elements will be needed for the set to appear as desired. Once the set is designed, the set decorator may build the set, creating any necessary fixtures.

They are responsible for ensuring that the set elements are in the correct locations and orientations on the stage and for making sure that the set elements are functioning correctly. The set decorator may also arrange the set in a way that is aesthetically pleasing.

He or she may also be involved with the construction of the set itself. The set decorator may supervise and direct the crew who are building the set. He or she may also choose which materials to use and how they will be installed.

They may design the lighting scheme and oversee its installation. The set decorator may also be responsible for creating and maintaining the set’s props.

Costumes Designer and Staging

Costumes are the only aspect of mise en scene that is easily noticeable by almost everybody. It includes makeup, hair, and clothes or wardrobe choices that are used to show the personality of the character.

It is important that a costume designer chooses the costumes that will best convey the image, personality, and emotional status of the character. Special effects are another aspect of mise en scene. They are used to make the film more interesting and captivating.

A costume designer is a person who designs and makes costumes for movies, TV shows, and other films. This is a different job than a fashion designer. Fashion designers design clothes for the human body.

Costume designers design costumes for actors, dancers, and other performers. A costume designer is responsible for designing costumes for both men and women. They are also responsible for designing costumes for different types of people. They are responsible for bringing a character from the page to the screen.

You can think of a costume designer as a stylist on a big budget. Their job is to make sure the characters and actors feel like they fit into the world of the film by working with the director, production designer, and sometimes other designers to create the look of the film.

Staging means that you’re setting up your movie or TV show before it’s shot, but only once the cast and crew are ready to shoot. This is why many movie scenes start with a long take in which the actors are introduced to each other and the set.

This allows the director to get a sense of how everyone fits together, and this way, the actors will play off of each other’s body language and expressions as they start to develop a natural chemistry.

Make-Up Artist

The makeup artist is responsible for making actors look perfect. That may sound simple, but it’s actually much harder than it sounds. The main thing a makeup artist does is to make sure that the actor looks natural in front of the camera. There are some subtle things a makeup artist can do to enhance a actors looks.

For example, the actor’s eyes can be made to look bigger and more attractive by darkening the outside corners of the eye. It’s also a good idea to have an assistant or friend help with this job as well, because having someone else see how well the makeup artist did can give a much more objective opinion of the process.

One of the most important aspects of a makeup artists job is getting the right color scheme on the actor’s face. In order to get a good look, the makeup artist must use the right colors and shades. The colors and shades that makeup artist should be using will depend on what type of make up they are wearing.

For example, if the makeup artist is wearing foundation, then they should be using a light or medium shade of foundation. If they are wearing concealer, then they should be using a light or medium shade of concealer.

If they are wearing lipstick, then they should be using a light or medium shade of lipstick. The makeup artist can also use various tools in order to achieve the right look.

Film Lighting

If you’ve ever been in a movie theater or watched a movie on TV, chances are you’ve noticed that when actors appear on screen, they often use a different kind of lighting than you would see if you were watching them in real life.

Film lighting is used to create and emphasize specific things about a scene, object, or actor. The goal is to give the audience something to focus on—something to make them remember. This is why light, whether it’s from a spotlight or a lamp, is so important.

For example, actors appearing on screen may have some highlights (bright lights), some mid-tones (medium lights), and some shadows (dark areas) to them. A typical home light fixture produces only one of these three elements at a time, but movie lighting is controlled with a lot more precision. Lighting engineers call this “film lighting.”

Film lighting can be used for both front lighting and backlighting. Front lighting refers to the illumination that comes from the side of the subject. Backlighting refers to illumination coming from behind the subject.

Backlighting is used to create effects such as the golden glow on a subject’s face, or the bright highlight on a subject’s hair.  Front lighting can be used to create effects such as the deep shadows in a subject’s eyes, or the blackness that appears around the subject’s nose and mouth.

When you watch a film, you are seeing the front-lit image projected onto the screen by the projector, which is a combination of both front and backlighting. Backlighting Backlighting is a technique used in film production to create special effects in the form of highlights and shadows.

The lighting effect is achieved by using a light source (usually an electric light) that is placed behind the subject to be lit, and is aimed so that it shines on the subject. The amount of light that reaches the subject is controlled by the light’s intensity and its distance from the subject.

In the case of backlighting, the source of light is placed at a distance from the subject, so that it does not cast a shadow on the subject.

The Producer

The producer selects the story from the books or a novel or the idea can even be an original idea or based on a true story. The producer then takes the idea to the writers, and they work together to create a synopsis.

They then break down the story into simple paragraph scenes or the step outline as it is called.  The one-paragraph scenes are the ones that concentrate on the most dramatic parts or structures.

After this, they prepare a good description of the story together with its moods and its characters. This stage has little conversations, but it mostly consists of drawings that help them to visualize all the key points. This is also the stage where the screenwriter comes up with a screenplay, and this takes a period of several months.


Need Sound Effects for your short or feature film project?

Download 2000+ sound effects designed for indie filmmakers & their projects for free.

The Screenwriter

The screenwriter has all the time to rewrite the screenplay if need be to improve clarity, dramatization, character, structure, and dialogue. At this stage, the film distributor can be contacted and informed of the project for him to assess the financial success of the movie and look for possible markets.

The producer and the screenwriter will then prepare the treatment or film pitch, and they present it to the financiers. The financiers will go through the movie and also assess the likelihood of the moviemaking any profit.

They will contact some known movie stars to get them to feature in the film for publicity purposes, and after this stage is successful, the film can now go to the preproduction stage.

This is the stage that determines if the film will continue or not because, without funds, there would be no cast or crew to work in the film production. The parties involved in the financing will draft the appropriate contracts and also sign them to make a deal.

After this, the preparations for the shoot are made. This is called pre-production where locations for the shoot are selected and prepared before time, the cast and the film crew are hired, and the sets are built.

Here, all the process in the production of the movie is carefully outlined to each and every involved party, and they are also carefully planned. Even with a lot of funding, if this process is not done carefully, the film production can halt or even fail.

The most critical crew positions are outlined and the people to take those positions are named before anything else goes on. The most crucial crew positions that must be there to make a good film are:

These are crucial positions in the film production, and their roles cannot be ignored if there is to be a successful production of the film.

The Production

The production stage is the next one after preproduction. Here, the film is created and shot. There is the recruitment of more crew in this stage due to the complexities of some roles. This is the most complicated process of film production.

Everyone involved in the film production has to take their roles seriously here for the production to be successful. A regular shooting day begins by the arrival of the crew at their call time. The actors usually have different call times, and the crew has to arrive early enough to prepare everything in advance before the actors come.

Set construction, setting, dressing, and lighting is done before because it can take many hours, and sometimes it can even take days. For efficiency purposes, the electric, grip, and production design crews are always a step ahead of the sound and the camera departments.

When one scene is getting filmed, these crews are already preparing for the next one. This means that the filming process will face no problems, and if there are any, they will be easily solved ahead. After the crew prepares the equipment, the actors are already in their costumes, and they attend the makeup and hair departments.

The Actors

The actors will then rehearse the script with the director, and the other departments make their final tries or tweaks.  The assistant director then calls “a picture is up” to let everyone know that the take is about to be recorded, a “quiet everyone” call then follows, and once everyone is ready.

He then calls “roll sound” if that particular take involves sound and then the “roll cameras “call is called by the assistant director who is answered by “speed” from the camera operator once he starts recording. The assistant directors then call “action” once he makes sure everyone is ready. The take is over when the director calls “cut” and the sound stops and the cameras stop recording.

In the film production process, we see mise en scene representing the film production in every step or every setting or arrangement. It, therefore, refers to the staging and acting where it is well known that an actor can make or break a movie, and it doesn’t matter how captivating the story is. It also refers to the lighting and setting of the production stage.

The setting creates a mode and also a sense of place and it can also reflect the emotional state of mind of the character. Lighting is essential in the production of a film, and there are different types of lighting, but each depends on where the lighting is coming from and the kind of illumination it is providing to the stage setting.

This video uses two scenes from the movie American Beauty to show how elements of how cinematic techniques related to mise-en-scène and cinematography can be used to help visually tell a story.

What is VFX? Ultimate Beginner’s Guide: Definitions & Examples

what is VFX, what is visual effects, motionvfx, composting in vfx

In Hollywood movies, visual effects (or “VFX” for short) are a huge part of the storytelling. A lot of the time, it doesn’t matter how well written the script is, if the special effects are not convincing enough, the audience won’t believe it.

There’s even a special Oscar® category just for them. But what about those visual effects shots—how do they work?

If you’re a fan of movies, chances are you’ve seen some really awesome visual effects. These are the special effects and computer-generated imagery that make movies like Star Wars, Avatar, and Titanic so great. Now, there’s a whole new wave of tools that allow for even more exciting and engaging storytelling.

As we all know, VFX is an expensive process and takes years to create. It’s also incredibly hard work. There are over a thousand different VFX artists and engineers working on each Hollywood blockbuster movie.

VFX (Visual Effects) 101

Visual effects are an essential element in movie production, especially Hollywood blockbusters. They  are a key part of today’s films, whether it’s for a Hollywood blockbuster or a television series.

They can give viewers a better understanding of the story being told and allow filmmakers to add a sense of scale to the experience. Visual effects are a key part of today’s films, whether it’s for a Hollywood blockbuster or a television series.

While visual effects have been used in film since its inception, the recent explosion in popularity and development of computer-generated imagery (CGI) has revolutionized how visual effects are created.

As a result, many visual effects artists now specialize in creating visual effects using CGI rather than traditional techniques such as stop motion, puppetry, claymation, etc.

The most common use of visual effects is in the creation of special effects such as explosions, fire, creature creation and the destruction of objects to name a few. If the director can think it up in his or her mind, VFX artists can bring it into reality.

History of Visual Effects in movies

The history of visual effects in film can be traced back to a French inventor named Louis Le Prince. His invention, an automated stage for motion pictures, was the first ever movie camera.

In 1902, Georges Méliès, a French inventor, began the first known use of stop-motion animation. In 1908, he introduced the first known use of a “double exposure” technique in film. In 1927, the process was further refined with the introduction of the first practical optical printer, which allowed for the creation of three-dimensional images.

The 1930s saw the introduction of a new technology, optical compositing, which allowed for the production of the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional image.

This became the standard for all visual effects in Hollywood films until the 1950s, when computer technology made it possible to create special effects that were previously impossible or impractical.

By the 1960s, these techniques became commonplace, and visual effects began to play a major role in the production of feature films. The 1970s ushered in a new era of visual effects. The advent of digital technology allowed for the creation of more realistic special effects.

This led to the development of computer graphics, or CGI, which is now a significant part of the visual effects industry. The 1980s brought with it another technological revolution: the introduction of the digital camera.

This gave rise to an entirely new genre of visual effects, known as “digital compositing,” which combined digital image manipulation with traditional visual effects. In the 1990s, the “look” of visual effects was greatly refined through the use of digital technology.

This resulted in the development of photorealistic visual effects (or PFX) which, in turn, inspired a new generation of visual effects artists. The new wave of visual effects artists came from backgrounds in film, animation, television, video games, and digital media.

The 2000s have seen a new round of technological advances. Digital photography has advanced to the point that real-time digital compositing is possible, making it possible to integrate live-action footage into CG-generated images.

What is a VFX Pipeline?

The VFX pipeline involves every stage of a movie’s production and post-production. Let’s go down the rabbit-hole as we explain the steps of the VFX pipeline in more detail.

Storyboarding and Animatics

Storyboarding and Animatics in movies is a process where the script is broken down into individual scenes and each scene is then animated. This process allows vfx artsits and animators to see how each element of the scene will look and move onscreen, before all of it is assembled and put together in the final cut of the movie.

The same method can be used to help you visualize the various sections of your content.

What is Pre-Vis?

Pre-vis is a process where visual artists will begin to draw out storyboards of scenes before a movie is even shot. This serves to help directors visualize what they want to achieve visually.

This process helps the director stay focused on the overall story while giving him or her a chance to refine it. Pre-vis is a very important step because it allows the director to see what the finished movie is going to look like before they shoot the actual movie.

This helps the director keep his or her eye on the big picture while the visual artist keeps his or her eye on the details.

Film director Alfred Hitchcock famously loved to storyboard ever single frame of his films. He has so much confidence in the pre-vis process that he rarely ever looked through the camera, he would just have his cinematographer follow his storyboards to frame the scenes.

Concept and Design Process

Concept art and design are two different aspects of the process, and sometimes they’re used interchangeably. When we think about concept art, we imagine images from movies, video games, or comics.

In fact, a concept art piece can be something as simple as a sketch on a napkin, to an elaborate rendering on paper or canvas. While concept art is typically not directly tied to the final design, it’s a crucial component of the entire creative process.

The movie director or designer may use a concept artist to help guide them in their artistic vision. The designer’s job is to bring those images to life. This is an important stage of the process because it often takes a few iterations to get to the final design.

Ralph McQuarrie was a famous concept artist for the Star Wars franchise who created a number of highly-recognized concept images, including the Death Star, Yoda’s home, and Darth Vader’s helmet.

His style can be seen in many of the most recognizable images of the original Star Wars trilogy. In addition, his work can be found throughout Disney history as well, including a lot of concept art from the Indiana Jones and James Bond films.

What the Heck is Matchmove and Camera Tracking?

Matchmove is an important tool in the VFX artists toolkit. While it was initially designed to match the movements of actors against a green screen background, its use has expanded greatly and can be used to create all sorts of amazing effects in post-production.

Matchmove is a software tool that matches the movements of an actor with a background image. It’s most commonly used for green screen effects, but it can be used in many other ways.

Matchmove works by using the information from a green screen tracking camera and combining it with the image from the source footage (usually a video or photo). The software will try to figure out where the actor is in relation to the background and create a composite image with their movements.

As for Camera Tracking, it’s a process of creating a virtual camera that follows a real camera around while capturing video or photographs. It’s often used to create the effect where the camera is actually moving inside a scene.

Layout and Production Design

One of the key aspects of film production is the art of layout and production design. With such a large amount of information being presented to the audience, the director, editor, producers and other staff must ensure that all elements are aligned and fit together in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

The process begins with the production design of the overall look and feel of the movie, which should be inspired by the director’s vision. After the design is completed, it’s time to lay out the script and the scene in terms of visual elements: camera angles, lighting, set dressing, etc.

The layout stage continues with the development of each shot, including editing, color correction, compositing, and any special effects required for the film.

What is Asset Creation and Modeling?

“Modeling” refers to the creation of a digital version of your real-world object that will be used to replace that object in the final product. The digital version of the object needs to be very realistic and detailed.

For example, if you’re creating a car in a movie and you need to model the body of the car in order to replace the real-world body in the final product, the body of the car needs to be 100% accurate. The same applies to modeling any other physical object in the movie.

If you’re making a video game or animated movie, the more accurate your models are, the better the final product will look. In addition to modeling, you also need to create digital versions of all the elements that go into your real-world objects.

For example, you need to create digital versions of the wheels, tires, lights, engine, etc. These items are called “assets” and they need to be created with the same level of detail as your models. You can have assets of any type: 2D images, 3D models, textures, sounds, animations, etc.

In the film industry, R&D refers to the process of development and production of visual effects and motion picture animation. Most often used in the context of feature films, the term “visual effects” includes the processes of creating the final composite of a set piece such as the background or foreground of a shot, the 3D models and animation for a set, matte paintings, special effects, optical effects, and more.

Motion picture animation involves creating the visual effects and motion for a motion picture.

R&D is not restricted to film; it can also include computer animation. The process of motion picture animation begins with a storyboard. Storyboards are the preliminary drawings that visualize a scene from start to finish, showing all of the actions and camera angles for a sequence of scenes.

The storyboard is then used as a guide for the design and creation of a three-dimensional model or animated figure. A director, producer, and other members of the creative team use these tools to come up with the visual style and theme of a motion picture.

A common problem in visual effects is called “rigging”. A “rig” is a complicated device that controls, moves, rotates, or otherwise manipulates a character or object in the virtual world of a movie, video game, etc.

This is usually done using a computer program. To the untrained eye, the end result might look as though it was created by magic. However, many animators and artists spend weeks, months, or even years learning how to rig a character or object.

So why does a rigger do what they do? If you have ever watched a movie where there are visual effects and you noticed how unrealistic something looked, that’s because it was rigged.

When a character walks, you notice how their legs are moving in a way that doesn’t make sense, but a rigging expert can do that for you.

What is Animation?

When we animate things in movies, it’s usually a sign of something special going on in the movie. For example, when someone flies off the roof of a building and falls to his death, that’s a pretty dramatic moment.

If you think about it, when a character flies off the roof of a building and falls to his or her death, it’s actually quite realistic because we don’t see it very often. And yet when it happens, it’s an incredibly dramatic moment and makes people stop and watch.

It’s similar to how many of us are affected by a sudden burst of laughter or a funny story. It’s an instant response that draws us in.

That’s what animation is all about: drawing us into your story. We’re interested in how a character responds to something, and it’s fun to see how things develop. Animation is the art of drawing pictures to make a story happen. It’s not limited to movies or TV shows, but it’s probably the most well-known form of animation.

It’s also one of the oldest forms of animation. It’s been around for more than 100 years. In the 1920s, animation was very different than it is today. There were no computers, no special effects, and no special characters. In fact, when animation began, it was pretty crude.

It looked like this: Nowadays, we can do so much more with animation. We can have special effects, 3D environments, and animated characters.

FX and Simulation

What’s the difference between simulation and FX? While both are used to create the look of the movie world, they are slightly different in how they are used. FX is used to create a realistic look to the scenes.

You see, the things that you see on film, such as explosions, fires, etc., were all simulated, which means they were created digitally in the computer. Simulation, on the other hand, can be used to create almost anything.

It can be used to create an environment, a landscape, or even an object. If you have ever seen the movie Avatar, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The movie’s environment was simulated because it was so realistic that it was actually real.

There are so many uses for FX and simulation, but one of the main ones is to create the look of a scene. You’ll see movies like Avatar where the environment is completely simulated and you never question the reality of world of Pandora.

Lighting and Rendering a Scene

You’ve heard of lighting, right? The “flickering light bulbs” on the ceiling in your living room? Well, lighting is the light source in a shot. And when you add a light source to a shot, you need to render the scene.

Rendering is the process of taking images and objects from a computer screen into the 3D space of a virtual reality world. Lighting and rendering in visual effects are used to make objects look more realistic.

Lighting and rendering in visual effects are also used to add depth to images and create special effects such as glowing faces and eyes.

The first step is lighting. If you don’t have an accurate model of the environment, it’s impossible to render a realistic image.

The second is rendering, which involves applying shadows, colors, and textures. In the third step, the rendered image is sent back to the camera and then put into the scene for the final product.

So how do they get that? They use software called RenderMan. RenderMan is a collection of programs that allow artists to create a digital model of a scene, then tweak the model with lighting and other effects, and render that into a movie file.

Digital Compositing: The Unsung Heroes of VFX

Digital compositing is a process used in visual effects for special effects in movies. It is often seen in scenes where there is some action or special effects happening.

This is done by combining various images together in a seamless way. A lot of work has gone into making these seamless transitions. The key is to make sure the images are aligned properly and also making sure that they don’t move, which can be tricky at times.

Compositing involves using software and hardware to combine images together.

It can be done manually or with automation. The software is used to blend two images together to make them look as if they were one. The hardware is the part that actually makes the image transition possible.

This hardware can include a green screen or a studio backdrop. This allows the image to be blended seamlessly. This is usually done with an array of lights that are used to project light onto the backdrop.

This makes it easier for the software to blend the image together and make it seamless. There are many different ways to composite images together.

Green Screen vs Blue Screen?

Green screen refers to the part of a movie set where a background is used, usually for visual effects. In live-action movies, the green screen background is often painted on a special stage, while in animation, computer graphics or 3D movies, the image can be projected onto a blue screen.

Blue screen refers to the black backdrop that is used to hide anything that would be distracting, such as people, lights, or other objects. It’s used in both live-action and animated movies, but its function is much more important in live action.

The blue screen can be built into a set or used as a portable screen that fits over existing sets or actors’ faces.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I hope you have enjoyed your journey down the rabbit hole of visual effects. In conclusion, for VFX movies, the entire look of the movie is created using computers. Special effects are used to create a virtual image of what is happening in a scene in a movie.

The goal is to create a new image that was not possible before the development of VFX techniques/ When a filmmaker makes a movie, they have to tell a story in a limited amount of time.

It’s not always possible for a director or cinematographer to tell a story without using some sort of visual effects. VFX can include things like creating a new setting, changing an object, or removing something.

Up next: What is Rotoscoping Animation?

Martin Scorsese’s Rare $70 Million Short Film: The Audition

The Audition Martin Scorsese, The Audition 2015 short film, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio

Director Martin Scorsese’s celebrated collaborations with legendary actor Robert De Niro are the stuff of cinematic legend– TAXI DRIVER (1976), RAGING BULL (1980), GOODFELLAS (1990); to name just a few.  Each project they undertake together seems to bring out the very best in the other, even if the finished products don’t quite meet expectations.

To a somewhat lesser extent, this is also true of Scorsese’s more-recent string of collaborations with Leonard DiCaprio, an acclaimed performer in his own right.  GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002), THE DEPARTED (2006), and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) may not be on the same level as Scorsese’s earlier classics but they too constitute a body of work that has seen both director and actor feeding off the other’s highly-attuned creative energies.

Most directors are lucky to get one muse in their lifetime, let alone two, so it’s understandable that many in the cinema world viewed a collaboration between both men under Scorsese’s direction as something of a cinematic holy grail akin to the long-anticipated team-up between De Niro and Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s HEAT (1995).

In 2015, this dream scenario finally arrived, albeit not in the form fans were expecting.  Instead of a sprawling feature with characters these actors could really sink their teeth into, we would get a 16 minute short film called THE AUDITION.

Commissioned by the owners of the then-unbuilt City of Dreams and Studio City casinos in Manila and Macau, respectively, at a cost of $70 million dollars, THE AUDITION is nothing less than the most expensive advertisement ever made. With RSA and Brett Ratner’s Ratpac Productions serving as his production team, Scorsese and his key collaborators are just barely able to stay above the profound level of sleaze coating the project.

Watch the entire short below.

Written by Terence Winter, Scorsese’s writing collaborator on BOARDWALK EMPIRE, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, and the then-upcoming HBO show VINYL, THE AUDITION plays like one big meta joke.

De Niro, DiCaprio, Scorsese, and even Brad Pitt appear as highly exaggerated versions of themselves, with De Niro and DiCaprio running into each other in a Manila casino and discovering they’ve both been summoned by Scorsese to audition for his next picture.

For the ensuing 16 minutes, the two actors expend a great deal of energy trying to one-up each other and prove they’re the right choice for the part.  For some reason, this effort takes them from Manila, to Macau, and finally to Japan, where Scorsese realizes (erroneously) that Brad Pitt is actually the man for the part.

Scorsese brings his signature visual style to the proceedings, collaborating with THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’s cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto for a high-contrast, glitzy look that crosses CASINO (1995) with BLADE RUNNER (1982) in the worst possible way.

It’s unclear from this particular viewing whether Scorsese acquired the 2.35:1 image photochemically or digitally (I suspect the latter considering the heavy use of CGI backdrops), but other signatures like a dynamic, zooming camera and a rollicking jukebox soundtrack make it clear that his employers hired him for his unique style just as much as his famous name.


Need Sound Effects for your short or feature film project?

Download 2000+ sound effects designed for indie filmmakers & their projects for free.

Indeed, the concept hinges on the audience’s cognizance of Scorsese’s most high-profile artistic trope– his consistent collaborations with De Niro and DiCaprio.  It milks this central joke for every ounce of comedic juice, never mind the fact that their age difference alone makes the idea that they’d ever compete for the same role a patently absurd and unrealistic one.

It’s a common saying in the gambling industry that “the house” always wins, but in the case of THE AUDITION, it’s clear that the players walked away from the table as the true victors.  There’s no doubt that the project is the very definition of selling out, but if some big casino is willing to wastefully spend $70 million on a glorified commercial with limited appeal, then the vendors involved should be commended for taking those suckers for all they’re worth.

Indeed, a huge percentage of that $70 million went to the talent– Scorsese, De Niro, DiCaprio, and Pitt all received $13 million for only a few days of shooting.  Odds are they’re still enjoying that cash, while their employers gave the film a lavish world premiere at the Studio City Casino’s grand opening and then screened it only a select few times since.

The film still hasn’t received a proper release in the United States (a mind-boggling development considering the talent involved), but those who want to see Scorsese’s latest cheeky foray into the world of branded content can find an awful-quality rip on Youtube.

THE AUDITION gives us no new insights into Scorsese’s artistic character, but it does serve as further evidence of the iconic director’s playfulness in his later years as well as his recognizes of his own place in American pop culture.

Author Cameron Beyl is the creator of The Directors Series and an award-winning filmmaker of narrative features, shorts, and music videos.  His work has screened at numerous film festivals and museums, in addition to being featured on taste making online media platforms like Vice Creators Project, Slate, Popular Mechanics, and Indiewire. 

THE DIRECTORS SERIES is an educational collection of video and text essays by filmmaker Cameron Beyl exploring the works of contemporary and classic film directors. 


Want to watch more short films by legendary filmmakers?

Our collection has short films by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Chris Nolan, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg & more.