The Jaws Log – The Real Chaos

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‘The real chaos’, or the beauty of cinema i.e. the sheer capacity of deceit that the director hides behind and around the camera! In this case that would be a great tugboat, 2 unit barges and a mound of rigging entangled amidst poor souls in scuba-diving gear.

If you are currently producing a film and finding yourself worked up, then take a step back and think about how tough it was for the team on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1974. Take out Carl Gottlieb’s book, The Jaws Log, and laugh wickedly at their hardship. This book truly is a marvellous account of the perils and joys of making a movie. It will transmute you into the minds of the crew-members and send a shiver down your deck. I even gasped at some of the convolutions in this book… Conclusion… Spielberg is a hero.

However, this book is more than just a mash up of everything wrong with making a movie, instead it actually provides the answers. The answers of thinking outside the box, motivating your crew, relying on your director to make the right decisions and, surprisingly, maintaining a good relationship with your producers- in this case the unrivalled Richard Zanuck and David Brown (Zanuck/Brown Productions). Apparently, Steven Spielberg’s brain was so sapped of lucidity and wellbeing that he spent 3 months after leaving Martha’s Vineyard having nightmares about being on the Ocean with sharks – now there’s a director with their head in the game!

Peter Benchley is the author behind the marvellous book Jaws, the book which got turned into this spectacular picture. Despite plenty of significant script changes by Spielberg and Gottlieb, (screenwriter for the movie – Benchley is also credited) alongside a couple of scuffles, Benchley was highly commendable of the outcome. And, so were the mass audiences who would flock to see the picture, “laughing and shrieking”, in the summer of 1975.

Carl Gottlieb has truly witnessed an extraordinary account of filmmaking and his documentation is certainly engaging entertainment. If you know a friend who doesn’t appreciate the craft of filmmaking, then throw this book at their lap and they may grow to become obsessed.

I would write a more detailed account of what Gottlieb has to say, but you really need to immerse yourself in the book and salute your admirations to the filmmakers. Grab a copy here.

For fun, as I love trailers, here is Jaws:

Wise Words from the Bosses Themselves

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Recently, there has been some big thoughts on the film industry coming from the big guns, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.

Firstly, Spielberg and Lucas were quoted last week saying that the film industry as we knew it would soon “implode.” But, what does this mean?

It refers to the mass uprising of media consumption and various forms of media outlets. Tracing back from the 80s to the dawn of cinema, audiences could only really consume film by going to the movie theatre, then they had video (VHS), Cable TV and DVDs, which arrived in the last 20 years of the 20th century. However, now we have hundreds of VOD (video-on-demand) outlets too. Shall I watch Netflix, Blinkbox, iTunes, YouTube or a DVD tonight?

The marketplace is clearly expanding and is thereby creating more room and opportunity for indie movies. At the same time however, costs for watching indie movies are dropping whereas studio films are getting more expensive to watch online. Why pay £12 for a new movie on iTunes when you can go see it at the theatres for £8? Wait… why not just watch a better indie movie for £2.50?

Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that a system will emerge whereby you pay different amounts of money to see a movie based on that movies budget. This is happening. However, they also imagine that movie theatres will become decked out like sports arenas and offer more varied selections like TV stations. The small screen and big screen would have to finally call a truce and merge, but could you imagine going to the movies to sit and watch telly? Our lovely weather ladies may not seem so pretty.

This supports the fact that studio movies will continue to have bigger and bigger budgets, relying on franchises to recoup these budgets. The spots available to direct studio movies will become slimmer and slimmer, where working your way up from ‘below the line’ will be near impossible. Spielberg and Lucas are suggesting that one should work from the other side of this equation: take advantage of the vast expansion of media outlets and drop in production costs to make your own movies.

Spielberg and Lucas started the wave of the ‘film school generation’ of the 60s, 70s and even 80s. They hit the industry when it was on its knees and revolutionised the blockbuster. Everyone knows this: it is well-studied, the filmmakers are living legends and the film schools boast about them all the time. However, film schools can rarely boast about the present. The latest wave of filmmakers have not been from film school – they skipped it, grabbed their bags, cameras and lights and started making their own movies. We’ve all heard of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Guy Ritchie, okay you get the point.

The modern day director will work with smart budgets, reach their audience more directly, create a fan base and therefore demonstrate a market value. The film industry today is all about market value, those who have it stand a better chance at gaining investment capital for independent projects, or even better, representation and a shot at higher echelon jobs. Well, this is what Spielberg and Lucas think…

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Next up, Marty (I double-dared myself) has some pretty serious thoughts on where the movie industry in going in an open letter to his daughter. Everyone knows that Scorsese’s heart is living and breathing cinema, but apparently the cinema we all know and love is pretty much dead. But, Scorsese is quick to say that the future is in fact bright, just a tad unpredictable. I quote, ” The most unpredictable element of all? Cinema. And the people who make it.” Brilliant.

Scorsese is tapping into a similar message as Spielberg and Lucas, he mentions directors who have all managed to get their films made despite the tough times, including artists from around the world. He also mentions the vast complexity of different media outlets available today and how movies are so cheap to make. “In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theaters, online, and, I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.” However, movies are still hard to make and still require strong will and a clear vision. There is no getting off the hook just because it’s cheaper, “the tools don’t make the movie, you make the movie.” A quote for the books.

So, in essence, Scorsese, Lucas and Spielberg are pronouncing that the movie industry is their to be scooped up, it is at a crossroads and it is cheaper than ever to make movies (not necessarily easier), but Scorsese is also clear to state that there are no shortcuts to getting your movie made. I’ve got one: start now!

Read the full letter that was originally published in L’Espresso here.

And just for fun, here’s the trailer for Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street:

Quotation Inflation

 

So here is my relatively long list of favourite quotations, though I’m sure there are many great quotes I am yet to discover. I find all these quotes stimulating, thought provoking and most of all inspiring. Many of these are from famous film directors or those involved in the industry. Enjoy the wisdom and please comment below as I’d love to hear your favourites.

 

“Anybody who comes to the cinema is bringing their whole sexual history, their literary history, their movie literacy, their culture, their language, their religion, whatever they’ve got. I can’t possibly manipulate all of that, nor do I want to.” – David Cronenberg

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it” – Roger Ebert

“All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl” – Jean Luc Goddard

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out” – Alfred Hitchcock

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney

“People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” – Steven Spielberg

“A Hunch is Creativity Trying to Tell You Something.” – Frank Capra

“Photography is Truth. The Cinema is Truth Twenty-four Times Per Second.” – Jean-Luc Godard

“I Am Certain There is Too Much Certainty in the World.” – Michael Crichton

“The Only Safe Thing is to Take a Chance.” – Mike Nichols

“Why Pay a Dollar for a Bookmark? Why Not Use the Dollar for a Bookmark?” – Steven Spielberg

“We tend to do period stuff because it helps make it one step removed from boring everyday reality.” – Ethan Coen

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso

“I have always preferred the reflection of the life to life itself.” – Francois Truffaut

“Surrealism had taught me that reason comes after creation, and creation is a true deflagration when confronted, not with a solution, but an obstacle.” – Georges Franju

“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.” – Ridley Scott

“I cannot just make a film and walk away from it. I need that creative intimacy, and quite frankly, the control to execute my visions, on all my projects.” – Michael Mann

“I’ll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will.” – Paul Thomas Anderson

“I think that the Internet is going to effect the most profound change on the entertainment industries combined. And we’re all gonna be tuning into the most popular Internet show in the world, which will be coming from some place in Des Moines. We’re all gonna lose our jobs. We’re all gonna be on the Internet trying to find an audience.” – Steven Spielberg

“To me, watching a movie is like going to an amusement park. My worst fear is making a film that people don’t think is a good ride.” – Darren Aronofsky

“There’s a certain truth that you do end up making the same film again and again so if you vary the genre you have a chance of breaking that cycle.” – Danny Boyle

“I think audiences get too comfortable and familiar in today’s movies. They believe everything they’re hearing and seeing. I like to shake that up.” – Christopher Nolan

“The audience seems hazy to me, shrouded in a veil through which I can’t see.” – Park Chan-Wook

“I don’t know how much movies should entertain. To me I’m always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about JAWS is that I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again.” – David Fincher

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” – Martin Scorsese

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Stanley Kubrick

“I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.” – Quentin Tarantino

“I don’t think about technique. The ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you’re dead.” – David Lynch