Directing (Film, Video, TV) Articles

Dr. Caligari’s Lasting Mark on the World of Film

Warning: Contains Spoilers

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariIf you were to discuss German Expressionism in film circles, it’s doubtful the conversation would go more than two minutes without someone mentioning The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). In addition to the fact that it’s one of the earliest films of the genre, it’s one of the most marked examples of German Expressionism’s propensity for focusing on the darker aspects of the human psyche. Moreover, the film utilizes what is perhaps the most extreme example of the dramatic, stylized aesthetic that became a calling card of the German Expressionist genre.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (directed by Robert Wiene) is the story of a young man named Francis, who goes with his friend Alan to a carnival. While there, a presenter named Caligari introduces a man, Cesare, who has supposedly been sleeping his entire life, but who is capable of answering any question put to him. When Alan asks what the date of his own death will be, Cesare responds, “At first dawn.” Sure enough, Alan is found dead the next morning, and what follows is a horrifying thriller in which Francis puts himself and his fiancée Jane in danger as he tries to expose Caligari’s secrets.

Tags: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Movie Review, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Education, Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television, Producing (Film, Video, TV), Screenwriting | No Comments »

Movie Review: Pandora’s Box (1929)

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Many films of the German Expressionist era are stories of monsters and supernatural villains. Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and The Golem are prime examples. Pandora’s Box (1929), more like Fritz Lang’s M, focuses directly on the evils that come from extreme human desire and uncontrolled behavior. Pandora’s Box is the story of Lulu, a young, beautiful prostitute and entertainer played by American actress Louise Brooks. The combination of Lulu’s naïve, narcissistic, and overtly sexual behavior results in intense suffering and multiple deaths, including her own.

Tags: Education, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Movie Review, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Editing (Film, Video, TV), Education (Film, Video, TV), Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television | No Comments »

Filmmaking Lessons from Paul Wegener’s The Golem (1920)

Warning: Contains Spoilers

The Golem (1920), directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, is a retelling of the Jewish story from the 1500s about a rabbi who creates a man from clay—the Golem—and brings him to life. Rabbi Löw’s intent is to use the Golem to protect the Jewish citizens of the Prague ghetto from the aristocracy, who blame the Jews for the death of Christ. As you can imagine, using magic to bring an inanimate creature to life has unintended and disastrous consequences. In this telling, the Golem is played by writer/director/actor Paul Wegener, who was instrumental in the creation of the German Expressionist film genre.

Tags: Film Studies, German Expressionism, German Expressionist Film, Student Film, Weimar Cinema
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Editing (Film, Video, TV), Education, Film Theory, History, Criticism, Film, Video, Television | No Comments »

Filmmakers: What to Expect from Your First Film Festival

Photo by Cvitko BelasYou’ve finally done it. You’ve made a film — most likely a short — and you’ve been accepted to your first film festival. So, what should you expect? Well, first thing’s first. I don’t want to burst your bubble (after all, getting screened at a film festival is a big deal — it really is) but it’s important not to have any illusions about what this means for you as a filmmaker.

Getting into a festival is like any other career achievement. It’s something to enjoy; it’s something to put on your resume; it’s an opportunity to gain some exposure and make some connections. It’s very rarely, however, a giant breakthrough that results in funding for a major production. After all, there are hundreds of film festivals in the United States alone, with thousands of filmmakers screening their work every year, yet when you see commercials for upcoming Hollywood releases, almost none of them were directed by filmmakers who just got discovered at a festival.

Tags: directing, Film, film festivals, film screenings, filmmaker, indie film, producing
Posted in Directing (Film, Video, TV), Film, Video, Television, Independent (Film, Video), Producing (Film, Video, TV) | 1 Comment »

What’s an Ethnic Actor To Do About Typecasting?

Photo Copyright Albert Chan PhotographyOne of the big complaints I hear from ethnic actors is the problem of typecasting. A Latina actress friend of mine once told me about the problems she was having with a director. “He didn’t have to explicitly say it, but I knew that he wanted me to be that sassy, finger-snapping Latina with attitude,” she complained. “And I didn’t want to do it.”

As an actor of East Asian heritage, I have been well aware that East Asian men have historically been typecast as martial artists and gangsters, and are typically not romantically involved with anyone. East Asian women, on the other hand, are usually typecast as prostitutes or as the “hot” girlfriend of a Caucasian character. In the past few years though, roles for East Asian actors have become more varied to include professional characters such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists, but there is still a ways to go for the roles to truly reflect the full range of the East Asian experience.

Tags: acting, casting, ethnic, Film, minority, race, stereotype, Television, typecasting
Posted in Acting (Film, Video, TV), Directing (Film, Video, TV), Film, Video, Television, Independent (Film, Video) | 2 Comments »