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Beginners: Throw Away All Your Other Books and Read...


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Just finished Don Coscarelli's True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking  and it is indispensable for the budding filmmaker. While he reveals some of the special effects from his masterpieces like Phantasm, the important lesson in this book is his explanation on how to build the relationships that will pave the way to a more enriching filmmaking career.

Coscarelli was the typical indie success story. He grew up in Long Beach in the 60s and 70s, began building his base of collaborators in elementary school, and like others of that era, he continued to live with his parents long past the point of embarrassment. But the main lesson from the book is how maintaining childhood friendships turned into a network of collaborators that sustain him to this day. 

It's a fun read as an audiobook and overall is a much better guide into thinking like a filmmaker than, say,  Robert Evans' The Kid Stays In The Picture: A Notorious Life. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Marcos Cooper said:

Relationships. The book is instructive on the key role that relationships play in moviemaking.

Nothing about how fast to turn the crank on your Bell & Howell 2709. 

But everyone knows that- 2 revs/second for 16fps.

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7 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

But everyone knows that- 2 revs/second for 16fps.

Almost every silent film camera exposed 8 frames per crank. 

Seems like a few oddball camera models were 7, but I cannot recall the brand;  Probably was one of the cameras sold to accompany that correspondence course offered in the 1930s' from Chicago.

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In looking up the 2707 I learned that in the silent era cinematographers sometimes varied the frame rate based on the scene unfolding before them.

If they felt an audience might be bored by a scene, they cranked more slowly to speed up the action. If the scene deserved more attention they would crank faster to give it a less rushed pace. 

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41 minutes ago, Marcos Cooper said:

In looking up the 2707 I learned that in the silent era cinematographers sometimes varied the frame rate based on the scene unfolding before them.

If they felt an audience might be bored by a scene, they cranked more slowly to speed up the action. If the scene deserved more attention they would crank faster to give it a less rushed pace. 

Well, I think that was more dictated by the director than the cinematographer, but I am sure there were personal variations for whatever reason.  I do know that projectionists would routinely "interpret" film with their hand-cranked projectors; often at the insistence of the theater manager to get an extra screening shown in an exhibition day.

Silent film speeds crept up from roughly 16fps in the mid-teens to over 28 FPS a the end of the Silent Era for that very reason;  to combat the problems of theater owners "speeding" film through the projectors to get that extra screening.

Somewhere in my archive I have a very good article on silent film speeds and how they changed;  if I can find it I will post a link...

 

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  • 6 months later...

Marcos,

I also enjoyed this read. It's interesting to hear about people navigating indie filmmaking at that time. I have a feeling that it has changed A LOT. Especially with digital now being an option. I had the chance to meet Don and have him sign my copy of True Indie (He signed it "Keep those balls in the air" hehe) when he was touring his new 4k Release of Phantasm that was produced through JJ Abrams. We all have JJ to thank or this film may have only had terrible SD versions available as Don's own print was going Vinegar!

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