Favorite films & why?

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
Post Reply
ned c
Posts: 805
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:39 pm
Location: Dammeron Valley USA

Favorite films & why?

Post by ned c » Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:35 pm

The most surprising aspect of amateur film making is the very low level of experimentation. Most amateur films look like B versions of what we see on TV. The feature films I revisit are those that play with my mind and demand a high level of attention and can subsequently be analysed for hours. here are a few favorites:

Mullholland Drive
Pulp Fiction
Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind
Memento

There are many more but this is a flavor of my favorites. Where are their amateur equivalents? My view is that judging films and awarding prizes at amateur Festivals stunts originality, it is fairly easy to predict the type of film that will be a winner, very occasional exceptions are usually met with a storm of complaint.

Comments, ideas, suggestions?

Ned C

User avatar
Dave Watterson
Posts: 1689
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:11 pm
Location: Bath, England
Contact:

Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:00 am

I'd certainly go along with that list of films, Ned, and add - for example -

'The Stuntman' starring Peter O'Toole
'Kill Bill' (Tarantino)
'Crash' (Paul Haggis)
'The Butterfly Effect' & 'Donny Darko' for teenaged angst
'Being John Malkovich'
'Lola Runs'

All the sort of films where I quickly felt I could completely trust the director not to stumble ... and so let him carry me away into a world I know to be fantastic but which I agree to accept as real for a couple of hours. Usually I keep one foot on the ground, as it were, watching for the lapses which usually occur in movies.

These tend to be long movies. Maybe one issue is that very, very few amateur films can sustain any great length.

The Catalan film amateur, Jan Baca, comes closest to this sort of film for me. His work is usually 25 - 50 minutes long.

Last year 'Nothing Girl' by Pierre Daudelin raised the stakes a bit - lots of arguments, many loved and many hated it.

Is it a question of confidence? Tarantino always seems so certain of himself and his talent, but I suspect most amateurs do not have quite that degree of confidence.

Dave W

User avatar
Willy
Posts: 633
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:42 pm
Location: Antwerp Belgium

Re: Favorite films & why?

Post by Willy » Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:17 am

ned c wrote:The most surprising aspect of amateur film making is the very low level of experimentation. Most amateur films look like B versions of what we see on TV. The feature films I revisit are those that play with my mind and demand a high level of attention and can subsequently be analysed for hours. here are a few favorites:

Mullholland Drive
Pulp Fiction
Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind
Memento

There are many more but this is a flavor of my favorites. Where are their amateur equivalents? My view is that judging films and awarding prizes at amateur Festivals stunts originality, it is fairly easy to predict the type of film that will be a winner, very occasional exceptions are usually met with a storm of complaint.

Comments, ideas, suggestions?

Ned C
Stereotypical
Hello, Ned. I am trying to understand what you mean. Most of our films at festivals are stereotypical. They are a cliché. The style is used so commonly that it has lost much of its expressive force. If that's what you mean then you're quite all right. Making stereotypical films give a guanrantee that you will have success. Why not saying it : Pierre Daudelin's film last year was not a stereotypical one. It was a special one. After all those gripping and sometimes hard discussions we may think : ... Yes, why not ? I was one of the sceptics but perhaps I was wrong.
Of course I don't want to re-open that discussion.

Creativity
At this moment I have edited my newest film and it's only April. Reading your words I feel that my film is a little bit "too flat" as usual. I don't know if "flat" is the right word to express what I feel. Now I have enough time to try and add experimental and functional creativity to my film in order to make it stronger. In fact I consider the whole film as an experiment itself. I know that every filmmaker has his own style. Though some years ago an English friend told me : "I always enjoy your travelogues, but now you've made something quite different ! Can you explain this ? "

Diversity
Making something different is also a pleasant challenge. I like diversity. Or should we always stick to the same style to meet with success ? Sometimes I think : why not trying to make a very special film and using the name of my son-in-law, just to see how judges react to it. Otherwise they may say ... It's not Willy's.


[/b]
Willy Van der Linden

Roy

Adventuring Film makers

Post by Roy » Fri Apr 06, 2007 12:51 pm

Hi. My long experience is that The Video and film clubs are often, but not always, the cause why their members are not very adventurous film makers. Usually because new young members are not encouraged to be different in their attitudes towards film making. In fact sometimes there are dis-encouraged, mainly by competition judges who mark down entries that attempt to be different because they, the judges, are only used to one type of film making. How many clubs having competitions for experimental films? Result.. The newcomers leave and so you don't hear about different films. Probabally if you visited the School video clubs and sites like the U Tube, you would see plenty of films different to the run of the mill. Maybe the reason for the small amount of noticably different films, is, like me, members of clubs and societies are to long in the tooth to change their ways, Or maybe they stick to a winning method that wins them competitions. Never mind Film making is, or should be a Church with many Chapels, and there's room for all.
Roy Alexander.

ned c
Posts: 805
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:39 pm
Location: Dammeron Valley USA

Post by ned c » Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:01 pm

I agree with Dave's listing of favorites but haven't seen The Butterfly Effect, now on my list of "to view". I don't think that length is the problem, in fact many experimental films are relatively short. I would like to see the work of Jan Baca, which raises the problem of how difficult it is to see past amateur works if you live outside the delivery area of the IAC.

Most film makers develop a style that is very difficult to break away from but I suppose the easiset way to break loose is to make a short experimental film about something near and dear. Name recognition must be a pain as a Willy van der Linden or Michael Slowe film must meet certain expectations.

I agree with Roy's comment that film making is a "broad church/chapel" but my point is that the world of traditional amateur film making runs on very conventional and predictable lines. I also agree with the comments about judges, can you imagine the results of a competition where the judges must be under 25! The problem is that we of the "old style" are not integrating the new styles. We are giving it a try at AMPS this year as our young(ish) President has introduced genres that appeal to a different approach and a separate young judging panel will judge them. There are no age limits on the entrants so you can have a go using your real name.

Ned C

User avatar
stingman
Posts: 442
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Isle of Wight
Contact:

Post by stingman » Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:30 pm

I like this type of discussion. Some people have all sorts of weard and wonderful little gems of films they like.

Some of the films I like are.....

Star Wars............ This set the scene and the milestones for the beginning of `proper` SF. The film has high standards and is very moralistic. The good guys are good and the bad guys are cool! I just love Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.

Inherit The Wind.......... One mans truth against another mans. Long film with a twist at the end.

Star Treks................ Who could not like this!

Independence Day........... The special Effects and the storyline are really good.

Any British War Film.......... This reminds me when our country was great and the sun never set upon the British Empire. It`s a shame we had to give it all away when our grandfathers fort for it!

Good Bye. Mr Chips............. This is proberly my most favorite film in the whole wide world (almost!). Basicly, it makes me cry 8) :shock: It is the story of a young man being a teacher all his life at the same school. He marries while he`s there and dies there. Basicly, it`s his whole life. I like storys from the cradle to the grave. You think that you have witnessed a whole mans life. It has two major death scenes. A very sad film!

Other films are more SF, Forein films, War films, comody films etc. Oh and DAD`s ARMY. Did I mention this. Sad again because most of them are no longer with us.

It`s hard to pick so few a films. As you can see, i`m 40, and this may reflect on my chosen titles.


Ian Gardner
Film Maker

Richard Rouillard

Post by Richard Rouillard » Sun Apr 08, 2007 10:02 am

I would add Nicholas Roeg's "Walkabout", "The man Who Fell To Earth", "Performance" (co-directed with Douglas Scammel) and his real masterpiece: "Don't Look Now" which is a contender for the best British directed film ever, in my opinion, along with "The Third Man" by Carol Reed.

Serious science fiction films (I don't include any of the Star Wars series in this description) also often explore very serious themes indeed and can be very intellectually stimulating with an ability to remain in the mind. "2001", "1984", "Solaris" etcetera are just some examples.

Many of these films were groundbreaking when they came out in the way that they made and constructed. I think the important thing to remember is that film as an art form (which at its best it truly is) is continually evolving as a language of communication. Very talented individuals will continue to experiment and the only thing that matters is whether new approaches actually work. If they do, others will copy them, if they don't they will disappear, unless of course the original creator lacked the talent (or perhaps resources) do do it properly; in which case someone else may do a better job of it.

What doesn't work is using an "experimental" style without a good reason, or having the talent to make it work. When such attempts are unsuccessful with a judge or an audience, makers often say that they are misunderstood "the Emperor's Suit of Clothes" comes to mind then!

Surely film making is a form of communication, and if a producer fails to get his story or message across, he or she, is to blame, nobody else.

Richard Rouillard

ned c
Posts: 805
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:39 pm
Location: Dammeron Valley USA

Post by ned c » Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:00 pm

May I add Ken Russell's early films? The Devils, Mahler, the TV composers series.

Artists work in two areas, commissioned art that should meet the expectations of those commisssioning the work and their own speculative creations. When artists work to their own vision this may not communicate to the public, van gogh is the classic example surely, one sale during his lifetime, his work treated with contempt as daubs and now worth millions. It seems that most (all?) amateur film makers work as commissioned craftsmen/women aiming to meet the perceived standards of the judges. I feel that posterity will be unkind to the general run of amateur films and the three areas that will be in the archives of the future are family films as a record of life, social/political comment as a contemporary record and experimental films that pushed the boundaries.

It seems to me that one of the advantages for the amateur film maker is that she/he does not have to meet any commercial objectives so can make films for a VERY small audience. The audience does have a responsibility to be a part of the process. The first time I saw "Mulholland Drive" I had great difficulty working out what was happening and it would have been very easy to dismiss as a complete failure to communicate. Further viewing and a lot of thinking and I have an interpretation, this is film making at its very best!

Ned C

User avatar
stingman
Posts: 442
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Isle of Wight
Contact:

Post by stingman » Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:38 pm

What a good explaination you have given us Ned C. I never thought of it that way. Maybe, as true film-makers, have to do two versions of our films.

The first version is the `proper` version or long film. It entails the total length of the film with `what the director intended`. Just like the Directors Cut on some dvd`s. This film would include all the long winded scenes that explain the plot properly etc.

The second version would be the one that was intended for competitions like the IAC or your local club comp that has more restrictions. This version would be cut down and the scenes would be tighter and shorter. Non plot (padding) scenes could be taken out or even a shortened scene could be filmed.

The problem I had when I cut my 7 minute `The Royal Invitation` down was that I liked the length because it was just right and the scenes were the right length and feel to them. I found it really hard to convert it to 1 minute. I did it, but the film goes at a much faster pace. I even speeded some of it up to fit!

Reading Ned c`s verdict on the films gave me a new insite into this subject. It was like I had seen the light!
Ian Gardner
Film Maker

User avatar
FILM THURSO
Posts: 241
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:37 pm
Location: Thurso
Contact:

Post by FILM THURSO » Sat May 05, 2007 7:46 pm

My choice of films includes "THE BEASTMASTER" which I saw when I was 14 in our old cinema (check out PictureHouseCinema on youtube to see me taking a seat before the feature).
'Beastmaster' was a simple film based on an ancient American Indian legend. It's now a cult classic with a consistant following of new generations discovering this cool sword & sorcery flick. I love loads of different films from silents right through to modern stuff. Complicated stories with surprising plot twists to basic stories or full on effects fests.
I think it's very important to experiment as film is the most creative medium but not everyone should experiment because it isn't what we all get into film for.
The films we make are pretty much what we want to express about our life experience whatever the story, in most cases and that can cover many genres of film if the maker wants to take their story to a different enviroment for it's enterpritation on the screen. This could be experimentation.
At each end of the movie field there exist two minorities:- those who push the boundaries by ignoring convention or whatever comes to mind, and those who simply go through the motions of making movies. The latter is the more prevelent of the two but that doesn't matter although they are the most likely to try to ridicule the former or any other film maker for their own failings or lack of real talent.
Most creative genious is often hidden away and doesn't often get out to be seen. Much experimentation is restricted by lack of money or resources but mostly by the lack of making the effort regardless of funds and resources. A point to note: the principles of movie making were laid down by photography and for as long as film has been going ANYTHING is possible on the screen. The only area of debate is how convincingly can you do it? For the members of my group our key advice is never fear ridicule and don't be scared to make the movie YOU want to make (providing it's legal). In movies NOTHING is impossible- so get on with it!

Brian Saberton
Posts: 346
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:00 pm
Location: Scotland

Post by Brian Saberton » Sat May 05, 2007 9:01 pm

When you get down to it a fiction film is surely about telling a good story about interesting characters that will engage with and stimulate the audience in some way. I'm a great believer in maintaining a clear narrative structure so that the audience isn't confused by what is happening on the screen and I am not that big a fan of the intense analysis that some film buffs apply to movies.

I've seen a some very good films recently which offer thought provoking themes in different ways:

Days of Glory (brilliant French War film)
Curse of the Golden Flower (Spectacular Chinese film)
Amazing Grace (eloquent british film about William Wilberforce)
The Lives of Others (superb German film about the secret police in the former GDR)

Let's remember that club films are usually made to appeal to a general audience. Many clubs put on public screenings or shows for local organisations and I can't see the local Women's Guild taking too kindly to something like Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill no matter how good they are!
Brian Saberton

Post Reply