This is the report Kyle Jones, a senior at Tigard High School in Oregon, wrote on filmmaking, using the interview he had with us. The interview took place on Sunday, Nov 17. He got 195 out of a possible 200 points for the report.

The lights go down. The curtains open. The audience sits quietly in their seats, suddenly being immersed into another world, a world full of heroes, villains, or just a couple guys trying to get by in life. Whether they are there to see Obi-wan duel with Darth Vader, Norman Bates slay his guest in the shower, or Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn fight over Mary Swanson, they are all there for one reason: to be entertained. This is what a filmmaker strives to accomplish through his work.

A filmmaker is responsible for accomplishing many tasks through the course of production of a film. The producer takes the majority of this responsibility. He or she is accountable for selecting plays or scripts, arranging financing, and deciding the size and content of the production and its budget (“Actors, Directors, and Producers,” Handbook 193). Producers also decide on who will be involved on the production of the film, by selecting writers, directors, managers, and other positions on the staff (“Actors, Directors, and Producers,” Internet 1). The director is the one who must then tell the story of the film which has been adapted from a play or script. Director, producer, and writer, Alan Winston, described his job by saying, “I coordinate and run a crew of people that, as a team, create movies.”

Teamwork is immensely important when making a movie. Those involved in the production must be able to work well with each other for the duration that it takes to make a particular film, which can take less than six months to more than two years. These long periods of time working together can cause ones stress level to become quite high. This is especially true when one finds himself working a twelve to sixteen hour day, where it is very easy to become aggravated with problems on the set. A positive attitude under the most trying circumstances is of utmost importance in the long periods of time which it takes to make a film (“Survival Guide” 1). Cooperation and the ability to work well with others is what will get the job done. A production team has to be able to get along in order to be successful. This is why after being in the business for a while, many production crews are made of people who have worked well together in the past.

Technology is essential in the process of film making. It is used from the time the camera starts rolling, to when the projector stops playing, and everywhere in between. In producing a film, everything starts with the camera. In early film productions, the camera was housed in a large soundproof room. This was in the time of silent movies. As technology improved, the camera was able to move more freely. In today’s movies, the camera can go anywhere, literally. Shots can be taken in the air, underwater, in the dark, in bright sunlight, and move in any direction. Almost any shot is possible with today’s level of technology in the way of movie cameras.

The responsibility of running this equipment is rarely ever up to the producer or director. It is almost always left in the hands of the cinematographer. However, there are some occasions where a director will want a particular shot to be taken. When this happens, it is sometimes easier for the director to position the camera himself, rather than try to tell the cinematographer what he wants. An example of this occurred on the set of “Rosemary’s Baby.” Roman Polanski, the director, was looking for a very specific shot that would actually involve the audience. In one scene in the film, a woman is sitting at the end of a bed, talking on the phone. Originally, the camera was looking through the doorway at her, which did not do much to grab the eye. Polanski decided to move the camera to the left, so that the woman’s face was not able to be seen, due to the doorjamb being in the way. At the screening, when this scene was shown, eight hundred people leaned to the right, trying to see around the doorjamb, and into the room, to see the woman’s face. This shot was successful at involving the audience because of the way it was filmed.

The most noticeable piece of technology, yet unnoticeable when it is at its best, is the use of computers to accomplish effects. The best special effect is the one that cannot be told apart from everything else in the scene. Computers have aided greatly in this area of film making. Winston noted, “What once had to be done by a team of set designers, modelmakers, puppeteers, and other effects experts can now be done by a few people with computers.”

Realistically, very few people become successful to the status of a Steven Spielberg or an Alfred Hitchcock. For many, it is a labor of love, rather than of one for a profit. It takes an extremely large amount of hard work, determination, and sacrifice to be a film maker. No formal training is required to become a director or producer (“Actors, Directors, and Producers,” Internet 2). Because of this, one’s success, or lack there of, is not always dependent upon his or her education in the area of film making. Those who are in the business for the sake of being good filmmakers and making good movies are the ones who often times do not become successful, but then there are the rare occasions. One man who did this was Martin Scorsese. He attended the New York University film school, where he won awards for his student films. Scorsese is a man who wanted to be in the business for the films themselves. This is clearly demonstrated by his first film, “Who’s That Knocking On My Door?” He made and financed the film entirely on his own (“Scorsese, Martin” 1). He was dedicated to his cause, and has continued to make incredible movies, such as “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull.” Those who do stay in the business for the quality of the films, not the box office potential, earn a lot of respect among audiences, but receive mixed reactions from others in the business. Some wholly support the “indy” movement of films, while others are definitely against it. Winston commented, “It’s interesting to see a film made for a few thousand dollars that’s as entertaining as one made for many millions.” An example of this is the film “Swingers.” The movie had a very small budget. At the 1996 MTV Movie Awards, the director of “Swingers” said, “We made our movie for what ‘Lost World’ spent on snacks.” Oddly enough, in the eyes of many, “Swingers,” which had a tremendously tiny budget, was much better than “Lost World.” This is because it was a quality film; one that the director felt strongly about. He was a director in it for the film, not the money. When asked if he makes film for the enjoyment or the money, Alan Winston responded, “Since I haven’t exactly made any money doing it, I’d have to say the enjoyment.”

I myself have made short films and videos myself over the past year and a half, and find it very satisfying to complete something that I have worked so hard, and spent so much time on. The first time I sat down and watched one with the other people who have worked on the project with me, it gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. Film making, whether it be on the side in front of the camera, in the sound room, behind the camera, or in front of the screen, it is about one thing: feeling. Watching a movie can make anyone feel an emotion that would not have been felt had it not been seen. Making a film gives feelings of accomplishment.

Works Cited

“Actors, Directors, and Producers.” Internet. [13 November 1997].

“Actors, Directors, and Producers.” Occupational Outlook Handbook. United States Department of Labor. 1996-97 edition. Lincolnwood, Illinois: VGA Career Horizons, 1996: 193-195.

Belli, Moe. “Filmmaker’s Freelance Survival Guide.” Internet. Cyber Film School [11 November 1996].

“Scorsese, Martin.” Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Funk and Wagnalls Corporation 1993-1995.

Winston, Alan. Personal Interview. 17 November 1997.

Home | Created Oct 8, 2001 | Updated May 8, 2007 | Maintained by Alan Winston | ã 1991-2004 Bravado Entertainment