The History Of Independent Cinema

indie film

In his characteristically breezy and conversational tone, Phil Hall deftly covers a lot of territory in his ambitious The History of Independent Cinema. The book, Hall’s third on film, reads less like a stodgy college film history class and more like a late-night rap from a visiting lecturer at the local arthouse cinema.

To cover the entire history of independent cinema is probably a nigh impossible task, so rather than present a strict timeline of filmmaking events, Hall structures his chapters around significant movements within the overall history. Hall begins literally with the birth of cinema and documents the machinations of Thomas Edison to keep a tight reign over his invention and the machinations of Carl Laemmle and Adolph Zukor to develop an end run around him.

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How Post-Production Makes or Breaks a Film

What is the magic formula in post-production that brings a film to life? Listen to this roundtable of editors, colorists, and an animator to find out!

The difference between a film that has some good moments and a full-fledged, unhindered story hinges on how it’s treated in post-production. That success starts with the delicate navigation of the editor. At Sundance 2018, a handful of talented post-production artists who worked on some of the most cutting-edge indie films of 2018 sat down with us to discuss how they work to make brilliant, award-winning films. In Part 1 of this podcast, we focus on the role of the editor, their process of working with directors, and how they articulate the nuanced philosophy behind their craft.

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How movies can predict future technology:

Science fiction has a habit of turning into science fact. Usually, that’s because a good sci-fi writer has some level of scientific knowledge, or at least interest. They can look at where the world is now and extrapolate. That way, they end up with a pretty good guess that turns out to be true. You see this a lot in classic sci-fi novels, many of which prioritized the concepts over things like story and character. (I love Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, but man is their early writing dry.)

Other times, fantasy becomes a reality despite the original work not having too firm a scientific basis. Someone had an idea, they put it on paper or film, and it ended up happening. You see this a lot in movies and TV, even when that work’s use of technology is basically a stand-in for magic. Usually, that happens because whoever write the thing thought the idea was cool. Then, somebody else with knowledge, money or both saw it and agreed that it was cool. So, they threw everything they had at it and figured out a way to make it happen. We’re going to guess that’s what happened with most of these movies that inspired real tech.

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The transition from black and white to color movies.

The Wizard of Oz

It’s commonly thought that “older” movies are in black and white and “newer” movies are in color as if there is a distinct dividing line between the two. However, as with most developments in art and technology, there isn’t an exact break between when the industry stopped using black and white film and when it started using color film. On top of that, film fans know that some filmmakers continue to choose to shoot their films in black and white decades after color film became the standard — including “Young Frankenstein” (1974), “Manhattan” (1979), “Raging Bull” (1980), “Schindler’s List” (1993), and “The Artist” (2011).

In fact, for many years in the earliest decades of film shooting, in color was a similar artistic choice — with color movies existing for far longer than most people believe.

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What is the film noir genre? A helpful definition.

film noir

Film Noir is one of Hollywood’s only organic artistic movements. Beginning in the early 1940s, numerous screenplays inspired by hardboiled American crime fiction were brought to the screen, primarily by European émigré directors who shared a certain storytelling sensibility: highly stylized, overtly theatrical, with imagery often drawn from an earlier era of German “expressionist” cinema. Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, and Otto Preminger, among others, were among this Hollywood vanguard.

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Coppola’s VR Vision


Scion of a phenomenal family and a regular guest at Cinequest, Christopher Coppola is chairman of the film program at SF Art Institute. A pupil of George Kuchar’s, Coppola now supervises the classes that the pioneer underground filmmaker once taught at SFAI. He’s adding VR to the curriculum at the school. He’ll be presenting “Universe at Play” a fantasy short about the collision between the world of a beatnik composer and a forest troll.

Coppola’s appearance at the fest will be part of the way Cinequest is doubling down on its VR component Cinequest s. Viveport is presenting a VR Experience Lounge, and Samsung hosts a six-program selection of Virtual Reality Cinema shorts. Mar 1-4 the fest offers a series of VR Workshops, where tips on scriptwriting, post-production, and monetizing are offered up, “How to make money off of all this is important to students,” Coppola observed.

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Jeffrey “Blue Shark” Gliwa and Christopher Coppola Announce Plans to Build New Film Studio in the Bay Area


Jeffrey Gliwa, Blue Shark Pictures, Christopher Coppola and CRCoppola Enterprises just announced plans to build a high value, low budget film studio somewhere in the Bay Area, perhaps the Presidio, to be called Blue Shark Pictures, the name of Gliwa’s company. This studio will be built in the architecture of Zoetrope, which was designed from inception to conception by Francis Ford Coppola.

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Fascinating movie trivia to stump even the biggest movie buff.

mv trivia

Film trivia is vital to breaking awkward silences and enlivening the dullest of evenings everywhere, so prepare to dazzle your friends with these 51 trivia facts you might not know.

1. Die Hard originated from the failed script of Commando 2.

2. Samuel L. Jackson demanded that the studio keep Snakes on a Plane as the title because it was the only reason he accepted the role.

3. Rather than use CGI, Tim Burton had 40 squirrels trained to crack nuts for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

4. Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last carnival scene of Grease.

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