The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Straw Dogs and Eight Million Ways to Die: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Picks

It’s been a good few months for Sam Peckinpah fans, as several films that were previously only available on standard-def DVDs with serviceable transfers have started appearing on Blu-ray. In an earlier column I recommended Warner Archive’s exquisite pressing of Ride the High Country, and now the label has released an upgrade of another essential Peckinpah film, The Ballad of Cable Hogue. Released in 1970 on the heels of The Wild Bunch, it’s a softer, more humanist movie than audiences were expecting from “Bloody Sam” — a sweet, reflective tale of the rise and fall of an American dreamer (beautifully […]

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7 Tips for Shooting More Cinematic Drone Footage

Is your drone footage not up to snuff? Here's how to take it to the next level.

How do you make your film look cinematic? Well, there are a lot of factors that play a vital roll, like lighting and camera movement, and if getting those things right during a normal film shoot is hard, imagine how much harder it is to get them right in the sky while operating a drone. Flying drones can be tricky, but perhaps the most challenging thing about flying them is knowing how to operate it cinematically. In this video, Matti Haapoja offers up a bunch of tips that will get you get you shooting more cinematic aerial footage in no time.

Like I said, there are many different factors that play a role in making footage look cinematic, and Haapoja touches on a lot of the important ones. His list isn't comprehensive, but it will definitely help you start off on the right foot.

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“You Try to Find the Beauty, Shoot It and Move On” John G. Young on His Microbudget Drama, Bwoy

As Brad, a grief-stricken closeted gay man in upstate New York who becomes increasingly obsessed with a younger Jamaica man (Jimmy Brooks) he meets in an online meat market, Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery, Rent) is fantastic in writer-director John G. Young’s Bwoy. With a title based on the pronunciation of “boy” in Jamaican patois, the film at first seems like a story of online obfuscation, but it soon grows into a tense meditation on mourning and loss as we discover Brad bears some responsibility for the death of his son and remains in a marriage with Marcia (De’Adre Aziza) […]

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The Ride of a Lifetime: How One Man Founded the Best Film Fest You’ve Never Heard Of

Brendt Barbur's unlikely road to heading up the celebrated Bicycle Film Festival started literally by accident.

“You ever hear anyone say ‘I’m gonna start a bicycle film festival when I grow up’?” laughs Brendt Barbur, founding director of the incredibly popular Bicycle Film Festival in Brooklyn, New York. “I’m willing to bet that that thought has never been uttered by anyone, ever.”

Nevertheless, fate took the wheel, so to speak. In 2001, mid-twenties Barbur was struck by a bus while riding his bike in the city. The traumatic accident inspired him to launch his own film festival, “to make something positive out of a negative,” he recalled.

BFF is the best, most surprising film festival you’ve never heard of. Now celebrating its seventeenth year, it runs through June 25th in Brooklyn, and will continue internationally in other major cities. You can check out the schedule here. No Film School asked founder Barbur to share his personal take on what has made his festival so successful. Read on, and you’ll wish you’d heard of Bicycle Film Fest sooner.

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Blackmagic Design Releases Camera Control App for URSA Mini Pro

Blackmagic Design unlocks Bluetooth connectivity in URSA Mini Pro cameras.

Last week, the Australian-based company released the public beta version of DaVinci Resolve 14, which adds a ton of new features like drag and drop transitions from one clip to another, live preview clips, improved H.264 encode and decode performance, unlimited audio tracks, 192 KHz 24bit audio support, 20+ ResolveFX plugins. Now, in their latest update, they've made available the Camera Control app for URSA Mini Pro cameras, which was first announced at this year's NAB.

With the Camera 4.4 update, you can now control the URSA Mini Pro, which No Film School reviewed earlier this year, from the Camera Control app via Bluetooth. Both the update and app are free but the app requires an iPad with iOS 10.0 or later. We've reached out to Blackmagic to see if there will be compatibility with iPhones – it's currently not available but they haven't ruled it out.

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Maybe Lucasfilm Should’ve Watched This Video Before Firing Lord & Miller from the Han Solo Movie

The irony of Lord & Miller being fired from the Han Solo movie for "creative differences" is that the writing/directing duo actively seeks out creative differences to improve their movies.

The news that has taken the internet by storm this week is the firing of writing/directing team of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller from the Lucasfilm Han Solo movie after five months of principal photography and only three weeks left on the shooting schedule, and their subsequent replacement at the helm by Ron Howard.

In the official announcement, Lord & Miller shared their thoughts on the parting of ways: "Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true."

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5 Ways to Write a Female-Driven Script that Sells

Script whisperer Pilar Alessandra shares how to write a female lead who will put audiences in seats.

Of late, we’ve seen massive studio franchises produce female-driven films to huge box office success (Wonder Woman and Star Wars: Rogue One come to mind), and yet the scarcity of female protagonists in cinema remains significant. Studios continue to favor male leads and pass on those that feature women. If you're a screenwriter, the time is ripe to ask yourself “what can I do to address the under-representation and under-development of female characters?”

In her masterclass on female character development at IFP, screenwriting guru and author of The Coffee Break Screenwriter, Pilar Alessandra, elucidated the frequently uncomfortable reasons why Hollywood seems disinterested in diversifying its star power—and how to address them.

Neglecting these factors can create an unrealistic or unlikable character that your audience can’t imagine existing in reality, and thus can't sympathize with.

If you want to write a female-driven script that sells, take a look at some of Alessandra’s tricks of the trade.

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Introducing the World’s First 18-400mm Lens

Now you can go macro, micro and anywhere in between.

Tamron has developed what it is calling the “the world’s first ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens.” The F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD lens boasts a range of 18-400mm and has a very handy zoom ratio of 22.2x.

This incredible zoom ratio is made possible by a newly developed moisture-resistant lens barrel design which utilizes three-step extensions. Tamron says the "larger number of cams ensures comfortable operation and stability while zooming." It boasts a minimum focusing distance of 17.7in (0.45cm) and maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9.

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Tutorial: Create and Animate a Creature Without Keyframing in Adobe Character Animator

Create and control a 2D character with your webcam and a microphone, no keyframing needed.

Adobe Character Animator is a performance-based animation software that allows you to bring 2D characters to life using only your voice and a webcam. It tracks your facial expressions and motions in real time, so when you smile, your character does too. You can create your own characters in Photoshop or Illustrator, or download character templates from Adobe’s website. Character Animator works as a part of Adobe After Effects, so if you already have After Effects downloaded and installed, then you have the program.

Let’s take a look at the basic steps to create a character and bring it to life in this tutorial from Okay Samurai, a designer from the Character Animator team.

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VR Creator? Now You Can Tell Exactly Where Your Audience is Looking

YouTube is adding audience heatmaps to its 360° and VR content to help you understand precisely where in the frame your audience is looking and when.

Filmmakers have long tried to find the best way to identify what our audiences are paying attention to on the screen. With 100 years of practice, we're pretty good at focusing that attention, but modern technology still helps us identify where exactly audience eyeballs are. With VR, we are offered not only a much rounder canvas on which to paint our images, but also a new way of tracking where that attention is going.

Since a VR headset needs to track the orientation of your head in order to deliver VR content, it's also possible to track where the audience is looking. Google and YouTube are capitalizing on that fact by generating heat maps from their content to help VR creators understand what parts of their stories are attracting audience attention and when.

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