Claire-Dee Lim

Writer, Content Marketing

Category: Movies (page 1 of 5)

DIY Ways to Learn About the Movie Business

UPDATED with screenplay link: 11/13/17

I get this question a lot from my film students: what more can I do to learn about filmmaking and the industry?

The answer is multi-fold:

  1. Watch as many films or TV shows as you can. From indies to blockbusters, foreign films, in a theater, streaming, it doesn’t matter. The more content you watch, the more you’ll learn about storytelling and filmmaking techniques. (Although, I’m not a fan of phone viewing; all you get is the story and not the incredible cinematics.)

This seems pretty obvious, right? You’ll be amazed at the number of students I’ve encountered who don’t see anything. The reasons why are always the same: any extra time is spent texting, on social media channels or watching YouTube. I admit to falling into a YouTube cyberhole (Dr. Pimple Popper, stop feeding our popaholic addiction!) but I can pull myself out. For some, it’s practically impossible. Which leads me to …

  1. Prioritize your viewing. If you want to be a director, cinematographer, editor or production designer, watch all the films made by your favorites and analyze them. Go the extra mile: listen to their DVD commentary, read interviews and film criticism. You love Christopher Nolan or Gordon Willis? Dive into their oeuvre—it’s the best kind of personal film school.
  2. The same goes for being a writer, producer, documentarian. Immerse yourself and become that annoying film nerd … and I say this with the utmost affection.
  3. Also, for aspiring writers … not only should you watch movies written by your fave screen and tv writers, read the scripts. It’s easy to get caught up in the visuals of a movie, so reading helps isolate the written storytelling and structure. Scripts are available online. For free! (Read the 2017 award season screenplays too.)
  4. Read the trades to find out what producers, directors, actors, and studios are doing what, what’s in development, what are the hot spec screenplay sales, ratings, studio wars, intrigue and more—this info is all there for the gleaning: THR, Variety, Deadline, Cynopsis, TV By the Numbers, to name a few.
  5. Listen to The Business on KCRW, hosted by Kim Masters, editor-at-large of the Hollywood Reporter, the weekly program covers an industry report then follows with interviews of mainstream to indie talent about their current projects. There are lots of insights to be had here.  Previous shows are archived.
  6. Listen to The Treatment, also on KCRW, hosted by film critic Elvis Mitchell. In his weekly show, he interviews innovative talent from the entertainment industry. He’s such a film champion that he can always find something informative and positive to say about any movie. I may not agree with his tastes but I always get something out of his perspective.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. Write and shoot. Technology has made it so easy to shoot and edit anything, and it’s cheaper than ever. And there’s really no excuse not to.

Trainspotting & the Worst Toilet in Scotland

Ever wonder what happened to Renton, Sick Boy and the other miscreants from the movie Trainspotting (1996) directed by Danny Boyle? Twenty years later we get to find out as the sequel T2 Trainspotting releases this week. I can’t wait! This was one of my favorite movies of the 90s. I loved it for its in-your-face visual style, insane characters and memorable performances, which introduced us to Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald.

This movie made such an impact on me that every film class I teach I show the infamous “toilet scene.” It is one of the great examples of how metaphor  is used filmically. Renton played by Ewan McGregor loves his drugs so much that he’s willing to “dive” into the “worst toilet in Scotland” to retrieve them. It’s a funny, brilliant and gag-inducing representation of a junkie’s priorities. You been warned. Enjoy!

Hey Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones Exhibit at Grammy Museum

There’s a theory that the musical tastes we develop during our formative years, say the mid to late teens, stick with us as we get older. This certainly explains my soft spot for punk, which always comes as a shock to those I’ve met later in life. As a teen, the Ramones were one of my musical first loves. I first heard the band when they were interviewed by Rodney Bingenheimer—the longtime DJ and musical tastemaker—on his Sunday night KROQ show. The band was promoting the goofy Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, in which they wrote the title song and were featured in the movie. Something about their distorted power chords, visceral, driving rhythms and knucklehead lyrics had me running out to buy their LPs Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin the next day.

To the dismay of my parents, I played those records endlessly and as loud as I could get away with. Soon after I experienced the Ramones live, followed by seeing so many other punk and punk-adjacent bands, like X, the Dead Kennedys, The Clash, that it’s a wonder why I don’t have permanent hearing loss.

So I was excited to take a trip down punk memory lane at the Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. On display until February, it has lots of quirky memorabilia like Joey Ramone’s report card, their signature leather motorcycle jackets, and quickly dashed off visa applications full of personal info. It’s a fun exhibit and homage to the four punkers from Queens.

While the music I listen to now is nowhere near as raucous and raw as punk, if it has robust and jangly guitar chords, or is rhythmically charged, it will likely be part of my playlist. Gabba gabba hey!


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