In Happy Christmas, writer/actor/director Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) explores both sibling relationships and the choices women face in young families. Swanberg pulled from his own personal experience with his brother, a short-stay houseguest, unexpectedly become a three-month roommate to him and his wife.
Swanberg teamed up with DP Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild) to bring the story to the screen. The director is known for using a unique, improvisational method of filming to create a dramatic, relatable peek into his characters’ lives. Instead of writing a traditional script, he creates an outline with the scenarios he envisions for his film. Richardson’s understanding of Swanberg’s editing and storytelling style enabled him to insert himself into scenes with a special sensitivity.
Donald M. Morgan, ASC on the set of The Red House (photo © 2014 Peter Switzer)
Written and directed by Jiaqi Lin, a Chinese film student at the New York Film Academy, the short film The Red House is the story of a 25-year-old prostitute, Fangfang, and her struggle to save enough of her earnings to buy back her freedom. Set in 1915 rural China, the sudden arrival of a 6-year-old child, Amei, being sold to The Red House by her desperate parents soon changes things. The brothel’s madam puts Fangfang in charge of Amei’s training, including the painful ritual of binding her feet to keep them small. Fangfang, who became a prostitute in very much the same way, soon realizes she cannot let it continue, and decides to use her savings to buy Amei’s contract and her freedom … something she now will never have.
Shot by Emmy®-winning cinematographer Donald M. Morgan, ASC, The Red House utilized Kodak film to capture the drama and angst of the story.
writer/director Grant Scicluna
Hurt's Rescue is the latest short film by writer/director Grant Scicluna and producer Jannine Barnes. Based on Todd Grimson's story of the same name, Hurt's Rescue is a short film that explores the moral maze of masochism and negotiation. It is a UK-Australian co-production funded by the prestigious Iris Prize in Wales. The Iris Prize, supported by the Michael Bishop Foundation, is the world's largest gay and lesbian prize and offers the winning filmmaker £25,000 in cash to make their next film. Scicluna's film The Wilding won the prize in 2012 and he was thrilled to have the opportunity to make his next film in Cardiff taking DOP Laszlo Baranyai, ACS HCS along with him.
The decision to shoot on film was an easy one. "Shooting in black and white, film was the natural choice for Hurt's Rescue. I was after the maximum depth of detail and levels of tonality that only film can give" states Scicluna. Adds Laszlo "To achieve a rich, atmospheric and natural B&W look, film was the only logical choice".
Honalee, Thom Neal (DOP) & Alexis Cook (Director)
High production values have always been a feature of Swinburne Film & Television at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. And despite an array of high-end digital cameras at their disposal, 2013 saw many of our graduate students embrace 35mm motion picture film for the first time.
Working closely with local film production services, Swinburne produced five short films on 35mm. Melbourne based Lemac Film & Video supplied an Aaton Penelope 35mm camera, with its unique 2 perf film saving capability, while Complete Post handled film scanning and grading. Film processing was handled by FotoKem in Los Angeles.
Gordon Willis, ASC. Photo by Douglas Kirkland
Here are Gordon Willis' thoughts on filmmaking from his 1994 Kodak OnFilm ad. This ad predates the time when we published the extended transcript from the interview. His words still resonate 20 years later.
"There aren't any unbendable rules in filmmaking. It's an organic process. In the first Godfather, you saw only Brando's eyes selectively, because we didn't want the audience to know what was going on inside his head all the time. Visual subtext is interesting, because you're making an audience think in a certain way. The trick is to take something that's quite sophisticated and reduce it to the simplest possible terms... The use of relativity on the screen is wonderful: light and dark, big and small, good and evil. What you see and what you don't...magic in a frame."