DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

The Greatest Movie & Movie Maker Ever

Hitchcock. The name is the stuff of Hollywood legends…and he remains one of the most intriguing personalities in Hollywood history.


Known as the Master of Suspense, Hitchcock was the Steven Spielberg of his day. Can you tell which is the real Hitchcock? Hint, he’s the one in black and white. Sir Anthony Hopkins (on the left) plays Hitchcock in the 2012 film of the same name.  

By the mid-1950s, Alfred Hitchcock was already acknowledged by Tinsel Town as a master of suspense and had created some of the best movies ever made.

Films like Notorious, Rear Window, and Suspicion put the director well above his peers of the day. The director also popularized the term “MacGuffin” and the technique. Recently the filmmaker returned to theaters, this time in the biopic Hitchcock, and while the movie hasn’t exactly set the box office on fire, it has gotten Hollywood talking about (another) Oscar nomination for Sir Anthony Hopkins and his co-star Helen Mirren.

So what’s the attraction to this old school filmmaker?

A Star on Both Sides of the Camera
Through his 1950s TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock made himself a star. The tubby and bald Hitchcock (always dressed in a formal dark suit and tie, like a mortician) had a dry and wicked sense of humor.

He spoke in a thick British accent, and gracefully introduced each of the short thrillers his program showcased. He was unlike anything else American TV audiences had ever seen, and the show made him famous as a television host, completely independent of his fame as a director.


Film audiences already knew a Hitchcock in part from cameos in each of his suspense movies. TV audiences learned quickly the director could also be outrageously funny.

By the late 1950s Hitchcock was solidly established as one of Hollywood’s most dependable money-makers. So it may come as a shock to learn that Paramount Studios had virtually no faith in Hitchcock’s next project—an adaptation of a book about murder and madness in a rundown motel. In fact, it made no sense to any studio execs why the Robert Bloch novel shocker titled Psycho  was such a labor of love for Hitchcock.

That’s the story behind the new Hitchcock—the tension between “Hitch” and the studio honchos as Hitchcock tries to get his cinematic classic made. What will the master director risk in order to gamble on making a modern masterpiece? And how will the public react to such a risky piece of filmmaking?

How Psycho Broke the Mold
Psycho was revolutionary for Hollywood filmmaking on many levels. Here are a few ways Hitchcock challenged the format of the day:

  • The female is lead is killed off only a half hour into the film.
  • The movie boldly showed a bathroom shower scene (very daring for 1960) and the murder there.
  • It was a big-studio feature that chose black-and-white photography at a time when nearly all Hollywood films had switched to color.

 
Two years before Psycho Hitchcock made another future classic, the psychological drama Vertigo. The film, about a former police detective obsessed with the image of his late wife, has been championed by today’s most respected directors, including Martin Scorsese, who presided over a careful 1996 restoration of the original film. The film is probably best known for its dramatic use of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as a setting for some of the movie’s key scenes.

The Greatest Movie…Ever?
Recently the respected British film magazine “Sight & Sound” announced the results of its 2012 poll of film directors and critics. Since 1952, and in each decade following, the magazine has conducted the poll, which asks film folks to list the greatest films ever made. Critic Roger Ebert has called it “by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies—the only one most serious movie people take seriously.”


Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo was recently named the best all-time motion picture.

This year’s poll created a sensation when the long-established top film of all time, Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane, was dethroned by a Hitchcock film—and it was not Psycho (which many fans consider his most powerful work). Instead, the film that was most universally admired in the “Sight & Sound” poll was 1958’s Vertigo, starring Hitchcock-favorite James Stewart and Kim Novak.

A Living Legacy
Alfred Hitchcock received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, but never won a Best Director Oscar, nor did any of his films ever win “Best Picture.” No matter; for anyone interested in learning movie making and film production, Hitchcock remains an important and inspirational figure. The 57 films he made over the course of his 54-year career are treasured as some of Hollywood’s finest and most enduring creations.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT – or – SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Hitchcock and PSYCHO: A Love Story

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s all-time master director of suspense, is set to return to the big screen in 2013. “Hitch,” as he was called, influenced both the horror genre and forever left his stamp on the craft of filmmaking. We take a sneak peek at the new biography and the film’s star.


A larger than life presence: the great director Alfred Hitchcock works his magic.

Bringing Hitchcock Back
In the new film “Hitchcock,” Anthony Hopkins (best known as Hannibal Lector and more recently as Thor’s father Odin), will star as Alfred Hitchcock with Helen Mirren portraying Hitchcock’s beloved wife Alma. The Fox Searchlight production will be directed by Sacha Gervasi and co-produced by Ivan Reitman, of “Ghostbusters” fame.

“Hitchcock” will concentrate on the lifelong love story between the famous director and his wife. The backdrop for the story: the 1960 production of Hitchcock’s brilliant terror masterpiece, “Psycho,” a film many critics still consider the greatest horror film ever made.

Shooting on “Hitchcock” began last week in Los Angeles, with the cast being rounded out by Scarlett Johansson (as actress Janet Leigh, who portrayed the ill-fated Marion Crane in “Psycho”), Jessica Biel (as actress Vera Miles, who also starred in the original film) and actor James D’Arcy (who will play Anthony Perkins, an actor who gained tremendous notoriety based on his performance as “Psycho”’s deranged Norman Bates).


Hitchcock on the set of “Psycho,” setting up the shower scene…


…And Sir Anthony Hopkins, in full makeup, displaying the famous director’s profile in the new film “Hitchcock.” 

Hitchcock’s challenges to get “Psycho” made are legendary in Hollywood circles: The master director eventually was forced to fund the entire $800,000 budget himself and save money by utilizing the shooting crew from his celebrated TV program. Once released, however, the film (which the studio didn’t want to make) caused an international sensation and earned its director and producer both financial success and and a reputation as filmdom’s Master of Suspense.

Based on Stephen Rebello’s outstanding book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” (which detailed Hitchcock’s struggles to get the project produced, despite a complete lack of interest in making the film by Universal Studios) “Hitchcock” could be an Oscar contender.


Ever the prankster, Hitchcock released this publicity shot of him sitting in the set chair of “Psycho”‘s very dead Mrs. Bates.

Meet the Masters in Film School 
Serious about becoming a filmmaker? Then learn how to make a movie this summer at film camp. Learn about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Best Halloween Movies: Six Flix To DIE For

Halloween is the prime time for terror, and few experiences are more visceral than being scared out of our wits by a great horror film. This Halloween, check out one of the following movies. You won’t be disappointed. Scared out of your wits, yes, but not disappointed.

Warning: Some of the movies are not recommended for younger viewers. 


“Did someone say, ‘Halloween’?” You know we couldn’t leave Michael Meyers out of our Halloween round-up.

Setting Up Your Theater
Granted, there’s no trick to loading up a DVD or streaming a movie, but your viewing conditions do matter. Aside from the popcorn, in order to get the most out of a horror movie, try the following tips:

1. Lights out! Getting the room completely dark helps you concentrate on the screen and sets the mood.
2. Silence those cellphones! just like a public movie theater, turn off all those electronic devices. Horror movies are all about sustaining a mood, which you just can’t do it if you’re busy Tweeting your friends.
3. Make sure everyone’s onboard. Make sure your pals actually want to watch the movie. Wisecracks and tweets don’t add to the movie experience.

And now, our feature presentations…

1.  Buried (2010)
(Stream Buried tonight.)


Ryan Reynolds faces one of man’s basic, primal nightmares — waking up in a coffin — in Buried.

Many of the best horror movies tap into our most basic fears, and one of the most frightening is being buried alive. That’s exactly the predicament that Ryan (The Green Lantern) Reynolds’ character faces in Buried, as an American contractor working in Iraq who is kidnapped and drugged. When he comes to, he’s underground, in the dark, in a big wooden box. All that’s keeping him from a slow and terrifying death by suffocation are a butane lighter and his cell phone. It’s an exercise in mounting tension, as Reynolds frantically tries to contact somebody who can scrape together the ransom money his kidnappers are demanding…before the lights go out for good. Buried is a thriller that excels because of its basic and horrible premise, proving that terror doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. It only has to be terrifying.

2. The Body Snatcher (1945)
(Stream The Body Snatcher tonight.)


Bad Boris Karloff gets down to business in The Body Snatcher.

Proving that old horror movies really can be scary, The Body Snatcher boasts a chilling (and true) story by Robert Louis Stevenson about doctors who need cadavers (in order to further medical science) and the creepy criminals who supply them with dead bodies. But the real reason this film makes our list is the casting of Boris Karloff in the title role. Karloff may be best known now as the voice and narrator of the classic cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas, although he rocketed to international stardom decades earlier as the first actor to portray Frankenstein’s monster. (He also was the first actor to play the Mummy.) Karloff is horrific here: in his first scene, he’s all fake smiles and good cheer, helping a handicapped girl into a wheelchair. Scenes later, as he prepares to dig up a freshly buried corpse, the smiles are gone and he’s using a shovel to kill a dog standing watch over his dead master’s grave. Karloff’s sinister voice was an instrument of pure terror — maybe the most frightening in film history.

3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1991)
(Stream Bram Stoker’s Dracula tonight.)


You’ve never seen a vampire (or vampire movie) that looks like this: Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

One longtime staple of the horror genre has been the vampire movie, which routinely gets updated for new generations of audiences. Recently, the Twilight series has leaned toward romantic themes, making for a kind of teenage, vampire soap opera. Meanwhile, the screen vampires of old (going back 80 years now) are usually not scary enough for modern audiences. So what’s a vampire fan to do? Try this curiosity from Francis Ford Coppola, which stars Gary (The Dark Knight Rises) Oldman in a more faithful retelling of the original vampire novel, which is why author Stoker is mentioned in the title. Rounding out the cast is Keanu Reeves, Anthony (Silence of the Lambs) Hopkins, Winona Ryder and others. The movie has great special effects and a rich, gorgeous look to it, thanks to Coppola, who uses some of his same Godfather tricks to make us root for a villain…whether we want to or not.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
(Stream Night of the Living Dead tonight.)


Daylight provides no escape from the zombie onslaught in Night of the Living Dead.

Another mainstay of horror movies are zombies, and although the undead had been featured in horror films dating back to the 1920s, the category really began with a cheaply made “drive-in” movie that contained no stars and only crude special effects. Despite these weaknesses (which may actually be strengths, given the genre), George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead  is among the most influential of all horror movies; it’s spawned a flood of sequels and remakes. The plot is as simple as dirt: Zombie hordes have arisen from their graves and are slowly lumbering across the landscape, desperate to feed on human flesh, while a group of survivors holed up in a farmhouse tries to remain sane and off the zombie buffet. If you’ve only seen the later versions, do yourself a favor and tune in to TCM on Halloween night (9:30 pm, EST) and see where filmdom’s zombie fest began.

5. Halloween (1978)


Turn out the lights: The original Halloween makes more use of shadows than special effects.

This one’s really a no-brainer, given the movie’s title and setting. However, be warned: There’s a hefty difference in quality between John Carpenter’s 1978 film and the many inferior slasher movies that it’s spawned over the years — both within the Halloween series and all the other popular maniac-with-a-knife franchises (i.e., Friday the 13thNightmare on Elm Street, etc.). And while villain Michael Meyers has legions of fans — in fact, it’s more appropriate to say that he’s the hero in the Halloween movies, considering that he’s the character that many (if not most) audience members are rooting for — the real star here is director Carpenter, who relies on traditional horror movie elements (such as expert use of spooky lighting and shadows) to get his point across. Does the original still deliver the goods? One viewing will give you the answer.

6. Below (2002)
(Stream Below tonight.)


What if you were trapped with ghosts? And what if you were six hundred feet underwater? Below takes you there.

Yeah, haunted houses are great for giving us shivers, but ghost stories can happen anywhere — such as onboard a claustrophobic U.S. Navy submarine during World War II. In Below, an American sub rescues some sailors from a sinking ship. The Americans quickly learn that no good deed goes unpunished as things start getting super-strange, with all kinds of paranormal activity taking place. Before long, the sub’s crew starts to crack up. The situation becomes so haunted and intense that in one amazing scene, one of the crewmen becomes completely unhinged and runs through and out the sub’s torpedo hatch while the vessel is still submerged. The sailor is so terrified by the ghostly visions he’s just seen that he doesn’t even pause to consider the watery fate waiting for him. Below is consistently tense and delivers a powerful underwater punch…maybe because it was written by Darren (Black Swan, The Wrestler) Aronovsky, who may just be the best American director currently working.

Gotta Have Horror
Horror movies start with an idea, but require the talents and skills of many creative professionals before they hit the big screen. For aspiring film directors and editors, it’s a thrilling time to prepare for a career in the digital arts. The key is receiving expert instruction from trained professionals, with the latest technological tools and cutting-edge software, such as Final Cut Pro. At Digital Media Academy’s summer computer camps, the emphasis is on hand-on training, delivered on some of America’s greatest college campuses. If you want to be there when the cameras start rolling, start learning the industry with DMA.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT – or – SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments