Movies That Changed Everything: The Shawshank Redemption

June 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

Movies That Changed Everything

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

The Shawshank Redemption

“I hope…”

The Shawshank Redemption

Over the years, I’ve become a huge fan of character driven dramas. Movies that span decades, introduce us to remarkable people and show us worlds we’ve never seen before.

Thankfully, I’ve never been to prison so I’m proud to say I’m not familiar with what goes on within the walls of a penitentiary.  Having said that, I’m more than happy to watch Andy Dufresne and Red’s journey within the walls of Shawshank.

This was a film that I watched when TV movies were an event you couldn’t miss.When world and network premieres would cause people to curse if they ever forgot to set the timers on their VCRs.  Of course there were also people who cleared their schedules because they simply had to watch.  After all, the VCR record could still fail right? Better safe than sorry.

Back then, I didn’t follow movies as closely as I do now so I knew very little about the film’s story. (Other than the conclusions I drew from the film’s slightly obvious title.)  It was the perfect storm.

Different movies inspire different people in different ways.  I’m addicted to that feeling.  Every time I see a movie that inspires me, I’m thankful that I took the time to see it.  The beauty of film is that you never know when a movie will hit all the right notes and inspire.

That’s probably why I watch so many movies.  I’m always looking for the next GREAT film in my life.

A truly inspirational film can impact you in very personal ways.  In my case, it ignited my commitment to write better stories.

The Shawshank Redemption

Wishlist: The Shawshank Redemption on Blu Ray

The Shawshank Redemption introduced me to a writing style that I adore.  The movie takes it’s time and sets up the setting and the relationships in a fascinating way.  It’s a slight of hand that’s rare in films. The movie grips you with interesting characters literally fighting for their lives and sanity within the walls of a brutal prison.  The magic sets in when you realize that while you were being entertained, the filmmakers were setting up a remarkable twist you never saw coming.

Before you know it, the slow moving story kicks it up a fifty notches and doesn’t quit until the credits roll.  I wish I could have seen my face when the film ended.  It’s brilliance has stuck with me to this day.

That’s good story telling.

Scratch that.  It’s fantastic story telling.  Creating original characters that exist within a fully realized world is an art and requires great care, planning and dedication to the story you’re telling. No single moment is wasted.  Everyone has something interesting to do and in doing so, they plant the seeds for the following scenes in natural ways.

But that’s what incredible films are meant to do.  They resonate.  They stay with you.  Long after your first viewing you dissect every detail in your mind until you simply HAVE to watch it again.

It’s all in the details

Before you know it, you HAVE to watch it once ever year.  (At least)  That’s when you realize that a movie has changed you.

It certainly changed me.


All Time Worst: Movie Sound Effect

June 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

All Time Worst Movie Moments

I wanted the first All Time Worst post to represent something historic.  I want write about moments in film that continually make me cringe and roll my eyes.

After much deliberation, I decided to go with a sound effect that has annoyed me for decades!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

The Wilhelm Scream

The familiar sound effect has apparently snuck into over 130 films.  If you’re like me and you’re a fan of movies you’ve no doubt heard it enough to recognize it.

I love stories like this but what started as a sound editor’s inside joke has become the biggest distraction I’ve ever known.  I could be glued to the screen completely gripped in a story and the Wilhelm scream will arrive and ruin everything.

I almost wish I didn’t know the story behind it so I could return to the days when I was oblivious and watched movies in peace.

However, I do have enormous respect for these little inside jokes.  Except I’m not a sound editor so it doesn’t apply to me.

Stupid Wilhelm scream.

For those of you who haven’t heard the story of how this little sound effect became legendary, check out the video below.

The Importance Of The Screenwriter’s Notebook

June 17, 2010 at 9:41 am

The Athletic Nerd: Screenwriting

I was in Walmart a few days ago picking up a few things when I passed the “back to school section”.

Rows of pens, books, rulers, erasers and most importantly…  Notebooks.

I like buying notebooks. Especially when I’ve just filled one up with movie ideas and I need a new one.

It’s no secret I consider myself a nerd but honestly, there’s something exciting about a blank notebook isn’t there?

It’s inspiring.

Every screenwriter is loyal to their method of writing down ideas for films.  We all collect our thoughts somewhere.

  • Some people have folders full of stories on hard drives or in filing cabinets.
  • Some people have bins full of napkins, post its and bits of paper.
  • Some people, like me, enjoy a blank page and a good pen.

My new notebook is going to be home to two specific projects in the coming months.

  • A new feature script I want to write in the fall.
  • An eBook I’ve been planning for a long time.

I think one of the advantages of writing it down first is you eventually have to type it up.  It’s almost like a forced rewrite.

I also love going back and reading notes I wrote long ago for forgotten stories.

Sometimes, those stories make come backs.  Sometimes, they bring back memories.

Either way it’s good news.

The Importance Of The Screenwriter's Notebook | Screenwriting Blog

Playing Through Is On IMDB!

June 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

Playing Through Short Film 17 West Productions

Playing Through was officially added to IMDB today!

In addition to that, I now have my own page which I hope will continue to fill up as we continue to produce new films!

It’s a good day.

And check out the movie’s trailer below if you haven’t seen it yet!

Producing A Short Film: Making The Climb

June 11, 2010 at 8:46 am

Producing Short Films

When I directed Playing Through, I was constantly updating a diary that detailed every single aspect of the entire production.

I wanted to change things up for The Climb.

Instead of describing the entire weekend shoot in long drawn out posts, I decided to focus more on the main story lines of our shoot and keep things a little lighter.

Much like I did with the Pre-Production process, here is a recap of how we filmed, The Climb.

  1. That’s A Wrap!
  2. How The Weather Almost Killed Our Short Film
  3. A Computer, Some Footage And Me
  4. The Climb’s Photo Album Is On Facebook
  5. Destiny’s Tattoos
  6. I Don’t Like To Hold The Camera
  7. Rushing To Capture Footage
  8. I Dislike People Who Honk During Filming
  9. The Budget
  10. Can’t Complain About Early Call Times
  11. Technical Specs
  12. Directing Short Films: Playing Through vs The Climb

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