Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Disaster in the Making

By Anant Mathur (August 31, 2010)
Last week saw the release of 5 Hindi films (Hello Darling, Aashayein, Madholal Keep Walking, Antardwand and Soch Lo) at the Box Office. A majority of the industrywalas will agree, all these films released last week to avoid a clash with this weeks biggie We Are Family (produced by Karan Johar) and next weeks Dabangg (Salman Khan).

Needless to say all 5 of the films are super flops. Many small time producers think that it would hurt their film if they released it with a big star cast/big budget movie like We Are Family or Dabangg, I disagree with this scenario.

As a filmgoer, when I go to a cinema hall and I find that the big film I came to see is sold out, I don’t return home, I’ve already committed myself to an outing and it would’ve been a waste of time and money to return home without being entertained. 

So, if the big film is sold out and a smaller one looks interesting chances are I would probably watch it just so the night is not a complete loss.

But when 5 small budget films release in the same week chances are I wouldn’t make the trip to the cinema hall to see any of them. So regardless of whether they’re good or not, I just wouldn’t make the effort to go. Where as, if they release with a big film, I’m already at the theatre with my family and instead of returning home without popcorn or a soft drink. The family might be more appreciative if we saw another feature instead and spent the night out.

There are other things more important than worrying about the release dates. When 5 films release and the stories of all those films is no good, you really can’t expect the box office to have a rocking start. First make good stories then worry about who you’re up against. As long as your content is good, people will come and watch. Whether the exhibitors give your film a chance is another story, but people will come if there’s good word-of-mouth.

Take the film A Wednesday for example, it was made for a modest budget of 3-4 crores but it yielded profits of three times its cost. The film struck a chord with the critics and the masses and ran for 8 weeks. As long as a story is told well, the audience will come regardless of who the competition is. The problem is, most Indian filmmakers can’t find a good story even if it comes and sits down beside them.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oldies are goldies!

By Anant Mathur (August 28, 2010)

One of my favorite things in the world is music. I love old songs. Below is a list of some of my favorite English oldies. A few of the songs have been used in films and I have put the name of the films they're from in brackets after the artist. So next time you watch those movies, see if you can catch the song.

01. Old Cape Cod - Patti Page (Die Hard)
02. Beautiful Dreamer - Bing Crosby
03. When I Fall In Love - Doris Day (One Minute to Zero) 
04. Home In The Meadow - Debbie Reynolds (How The West Was Won)
05. Tennessee Waltz - Patti Page (The Right Stuff)
06. They Can't Take That Away From Me - Fred Astaire (Shall We Dance)
07. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) - Otis Redding (Children of a Lesser God)
08. Moon River - Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's)  
09. Under the Mango Tree - Diana Coupland (Dr. No)
10. If I Were A Carpenter - Johnny Cash and June Carter
11. Diana - Paul Anka (Committed)
12. Standing On The Corner - Four Lads
13. The Yellow Rose of Texas - Mitch Miller (Giant)
14. Tweedlee Dee - Lavern Baker
15. In The Mood - Glenn Miller (Wild at Heart)
16. Wake Up Little Susie - Everly Brothers (Poor Little Rich Girl)
17. Three Coins in the Fountain - The Four Aces
18. A Guy Is A Guy - Doris Day
19. Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley (Blue Hawaii)
20. Marianne - Terry Gilkyson & The Easy Riders (Calypso Joe)
21. Bing! Bang! Bong! - Sophia Loren (Houseboat)
22. Que Sera Sera - Doris Day (The Man Who Knew Too Much)
23. He'll Have To Go - Jim Reeves (Desert Hearts)
24. You You You - Ames Brothers
25. Dirty Dancing - Mickey & Sylvia

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tere Mast Mast Do Nain - Dabangg

By Anant Mathur (August 25, 2010)

A wonderful song from the film Dabangg. Enjoy!

Song: Tere Mast Mast Do Nain 
Film: Dabangg  
Starring: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonu Sood, Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia.
Music By: Sajid-Wajid. 
Directed by: Abhinav Kashyap. 
Film Release Date: 10 September 2010.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Billion Dollar Movie Club

Compiled By Anant Mathur (August 21, 2010)

A few weeks after breaking the record for the highest-grossing animated flick of all time, Pixar's "Toy Story 3" has just become only the seventh movie ever to rake in $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Below are the other six titles on the list.

The third, and reportedly final, installment in the ground-breaking trilogy drew near universal critical praise and earned $404 million since it opened in June, making it the highest grossing flick of the year.

Domestic Box Office: $533,300,000
Worldwide Box Office: $1,001,900,000

Domestic Box Office: $334,191,110
Worldwide Box Office: $1,024,298,794

Domestic Box Office: $423,300,000
Worldwide Box Office: $1,066,200,000

Domestic Box Office: $377,000,000
Worldwide Box Office: $1,119,100,000

2. TITANIC (1997)
Domestic Box Office: $600,800,000
Worldwide Box Office: $1,843,200,000

1. AVATAR (2009)
Domestic Box Office: $749,766,139
Worldwide Box Office: $2,740,405,721

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tip # 5: Cinematography

By Anant Mathur (August 16, 2010)

Filmmaking is collaboration between many artists and technicians but none more so than the Director and the Cinematographer. They work as a team, and exchange suggestions about the lighting and staging of scenes. 

Whenever possible, the style of lighting is varied from sequence to sequence so as to add interest and impact to the photographic effects.

The most important person associated with a film during the production is the Cinematographer or Director of Photography (DOP). Many people will have you believe that the Director is the most important person. But the simple truth is, it’s the DOP.

The economics of motion picture production invariably fall on the DOP. He is expected to utilize more tricks and lighting devices to cover lack of actual construction, yet create the illusion that such construction exists. More and more scenes call for process photography, whereby a still or motion picture is projected from the rear on a translucent screen. To affect a composite scene realistically, ingenious lighting must be devised to illuminate the subject naturally, yet keep the screen in darkness.

In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency to utilize natural interiors for motion picture settings. This has given the productions a sense of authenticity, but in doing so it has presented new problems to the DOP. To light interiors and the players therein to the standards expected is a challenge. 

To meet with these conditions, huge filters are often need to be placed over windows and doors to balance exterior light with that available inside. As lights can seldom be placed overhead, horizontal sources must be employed. Reflections from glass, marble and other shining surfaces add to the complications of natural reproduction.

The ever-present microphone constantly hovering close overhead, darting here and there as the actors speak creates a shadow problem of no mean proportion. To cope with the microphone situation, a whole new lighting technique had to be devised.

A majority of directors focus on the narrative style of filmmaking. It is the DOP who has the ability to provide visuals which drive a film. There are instances when a DOP is given control over the visual aesthetic of a film while the director concentrates on scripting, acting and mise-en-scene.

The technology of motion picture production is undergoing a dramatic revolution as new and more efficient tools of the cinematographer's trade are being developed. 

Cinematography obviously has a huge impact on a film, everything unfolding within a frame and any nuance specific to the tone, atmosphere and theme of the piece.  It is unimaginable to think of a good movie not having a good DOP.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Films But Were Afraid To Ask! (Part 2 of 2)

By Anant Mathur (August 9, 2010) 
What was Charlie Chaplin’s final film?
A Countess From Hong Kong (1967). It was the first (and only) color film (and widescreen film) that Charlie Chaplin ever made, and the only one funded by a major studio. It featured a worldwide smash song, "(Love) This Is My Song," written by Chaplin and sung by Petula Clark

It was a critical failure. However, critics such as Tim Hunter & Andrew Sarris, as well as poet John Betjeman, consider- ed the film among Chaplin's best works. Chaplin himself considered it his greatest film at the end of his life.

Who was the first actor to portray Method Acting in films?
Marlon Brando. In his films of the early 50s, Brando brought a raw naturalistic realism to the screen that he had acquired at the Actors Studio in New York.

What are "Spaghetti" Westerns?
Spaghetti Western is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960s, so named because most were produced and directed by Italians, usually in co-production with a Spanish partner and in some cases a German partner. The partners would insist some of their stars be cast in the film. The typical team was made up of an Italian director, Italo-Spanish technical staff, and a cast of Italian and Spanish actors, sometimes a fading Hollywood star and sometimes a rising one like the young Clint Eastwood in three of Sergio Leone's films. The films were typically shot in inexpensive locales resembling the American Southwest. Typical themes in spaghetti westerns include the Mexican Revolution, Mexican bandits, and the border region shared by Mexico and the United States.

What was the first Science Fiction movie?
Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) in 1902.

What was the first film about giant monsters?
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). It was the first live action film to feature a giant monster awakened or brought about by an atomic bomb detonation to attack a major city. Due to its financial success, it helped spawn the genre of giant monster films of the 1950s. Producers Jack Dietz and Hal E. Chester got the idea to combine the growing paranoia about nuclear weapons with the concept of a giant monster after a successful theatrical re-release of King Kong.

What are "Angry Young Men" Films?
A new wave of grim, non-fictional, social realism in British cinema, dubbed or styled "Kitchen Sink" due to its angry, every-day working-class heroes, frank dialogue, and negative post-war themes, was exemplified in the grainy, powerful works of various directors in the late 50s and early 60s. These socially-conscious films were also categorized as "Angry Young Men" films, due to the fact that each one focused on the economic and social problems of a frustrated male protagonist who attempted to break free from society and its expectations, through the use of alcohol, sex, sports, and money, etc.

What was Cary Grant’s final film?
Walk Don't Run (1966).

What’s a screwball comedy film?
The screwball comedy is a genre of comedy where a female dominates the relationship with the male central character, whose masculinity is challenged. It has proven to be one of the most popular and enduring film genres. It first gained prominence in 1934 with It Happened One Night, and, although many film scholars would agree that its classic period ended sometime in the early 1940s, elements of the genre have persisted, or have been paid homage, in contemporary film.

When was the Home Video market created?
In 1976, Paramount became the first to authorize the release of its film library onto Betamax videocassettes. In 1977, 20th Century Fox would follow suit, and begin releasing its films on videotape.
When was multi-track sound introduced in films?
Multi-track Dolby stereo sound, the THX sound system & Dolby SR (all designed to produce higher quality sound, noise reduction, surround-sound and other special effects) were introduced in the 70s & 80s, and advertised as a special feature for films such as Amadeus (1984) and Aliens (1986). The first movie to be shown in a THX- certified auditorium was Return of the Jedi (1983). In 1992, a new technology dubbed Dolby Digital was introdu- ced to movie-goers in Batman Returns (1992), then DTS Digital Sound made its debut in Jurassic Park (1993).
What is Colorization?
Colorization is any process that adds color to black and white, sepia or monochrome moving-picture images. 

It may be done as a special effect, or to modernize black and white films, or to restore color films. Examples date from the early 20th century, but colorization has become common with the advent of digital image processing.
What is a Merchant-Ivory Film?
The Merchant-Ivory team of American-born director James Ivory, Indian-born producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer-Jhabvala generated sophisticated, nostalgic, intelligent, and lush costume dramas beginning in the mid-80s. 

A luminous and engaging E.M. Forster adaptation titled A Room With A View (1986) took multiple Oscar nominations.

Which was the first film to use CGI?
Tron (1982) was the very first movie to use CGI and paved the way for all that we see today.
What is the lowest grossing film ever?
Zyzzyx Road (2006). Zyzzyx Road was shown once a day at noon for six days at a movie theater rented by the producers for $1,000. The limited release was deliberate: Producer Leo Grillo was uninterested in releasing the film domestically until it underwent foreign distribution, but needed to fulfill the U.S. release obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild for low-budget films. The strategy had the side effect of making the film the lowest grossing film of all time, earning just $30. Unofficially, its opening weekend netted $20. The $10 difference is due to a personal refund by Grillo to makeup artist Sheila Moore, who had worked on the film, and her friend.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Films But Were Afraid To Ask! (Part 1 of 2)

By Anant Mathur (August 2, 2010)

Which film featured the first cameo appearance by an actor?
Around The World In 80 Days (1956). Producer Michael Todd coined the phrase “cameo” for this picture as a way to convince giant stars to take bit parts. He ended up casting over 40 famous performers to make cameo appearances, including Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Buster Keaton, Charles Boyer, George Raft, Peter Lorre, John Mills, Charles Coburn and Ronald Colman to name a few.

What was the first movie to be seen by an audience?
Young Griffo v. Battling Charles Barnett (1895) was the first 'movie' to be screened for a paying audience on May 20, 1895, at a storefront at 153 Broadway in NYC.

Where was the first permanent Movie Theatre opened?
In 1897, the first real cinema building was built in Paris, solely for the purpose of showing films. The same did not occur until 1902 in downtown Los Angeles where Thomas L. Talley's storefront, 200-seat Electric Theater became the first permanent US theater to exclusively exhibit movies - it charged patrons a dime, up from a nickel at the nickelodeons.

What was the first Feature-Length film?
The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906, Australia). Australia was the only country set up to regularly produce feature-length films prior to 1911. The first feature-length film to be released in its entirety in the US was the 69-minute epic Dante's Inferno (1911). 

It opened in New York on December 10, 1911 at Gane’s Manhattan Theatre. It took two years to make, and cost over $180,000.

Why Hollywood?
Budding filmmakers were lured to the West Coast by incentives from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, with promises of sunshine - an essential before the dawn of indoor studios and artificial lighting, a potentially-cheap labor force, inexpensive land for studio construction, and varied landscapes for all the genres of films. Soon, West Coast production was challenging other studios in New York City and Ft. Lee, New Jersey.

Who are the Big Five?
By 1929, the film-making firms that were to rule and monopolize Hollywood for the next half-century were the giants or the majors, sometimes dubbed The Big Five (Warner Bros., RKO, Paramount, MGM and FOX). 

They produced more than 90 percent of the fiction films in America. 

What film was the world's first talkie?
The Jazz Singer (1927). It was the most expensive film in Warner Brothers' history, at a budget of $500,000.

What was the first feature film to be shot in colour?
Hollywood's first full-length feature film photographed entirely in three-strip Technicolor was Rouben Mamoulian's Becky Sharp (1935). The first musical in full-color Technicolor was Dancing Pirate (1936). And the first outdoor drama filmed in full-color was The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936).

What is the Hays code?
The Motion Picture Production Code was the set of industry censorship guidelines which governed the production of the vast majority pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. It was originally popularly known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays. All films would be submitted for a "seal of approval" - and if a film was unacceptable and denied a seal, it was not to be exhibited in theaters, and the studio would be fined $25,000.

Who were the most popular stars of the 1940s?
The most popular box-office stars of the 40s were: James Cagney, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Wallace Beery, Gene Autry, Gary Cooper, Greer Garson, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, and Ingrid Bergman. 

In 1946, five of the year's top ten box-office films starred Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman.

What is Film Noir?
The genre most characteristic of the era and most associated with 1940s Hollywood was film noir. The somber, pessimistic 'genre', literally meaning "black film," was already germinating and evolving from 30s gangster films - with dark plots, untrustworthy femme fatales, and tough, but cynical, fatalistic heroes. The first, clearly definitive example was one of the best hard-boiled detective pictures ever made - The Maltese Falcon (1941).

In how many films were Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy teamed together?

Nine - Woman of The Year (1942), Without Love (1942), Keeper of the Flame (1942), The Sea of Grass (1947), State of the Union (1948), Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), Desk Set (1957) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).

What are Soundies?
From 1940-1946, soundies (short black and white musical films) were produced. They were pre-cursors to present-day music videos, and were designed to be played on coin-operated, 16 mm rear-projection machines like jukeboxes, called Panorams, that were located in nightclubs, diners, roadhouses, bars, restaurants and other public places.

What was the first feature film to be broadcast on US television?
The Wizard of Oz (1939) on November 3, 1956, during prime-time.

What was the first full-length 3-D feature film?
UA's cheaply-made jungle adventure Bwana Devil (1952).

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.