Now that the news media is slowing down their coverage of the life and death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, I thought I might post a few thoughts after filming in the country in early 2016. While most of the world seems to agree that he was a brutal dictator (according to CBS News, nearly 20% of the entire population of Cuba has fled the country since the revolution), it was surprising to see how laudatory many world leaders have been about his decades of rule. Some acted as if they were eulogizing a saint. So having traveling to Cuba to film earlier this year, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what I encountered in the country.
I’ve been reading the fascinating book “Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed.” I’m a huge fan of the enigmatic German filmmaker, especially his approach to documentaries. Since I’ve been involved producing “The Insanity of God” and “Let Hope Rise: The Hillsong Movie” this year, documentaries have been on my mind a great deal. I particularly love Werner’s advice on breaking into the industry. I only wish I had heard this after graduating from college:
Working with kids is one of the great challenges for beginning film and TV directors. After all, W.C. Fields said, “Never work with children or animals.” They’re both unpredictable and take real focus and skill. So I asked my friend Rafael Barreiro, a director and producer who’s worked internationally, and now teaches at the university level to give us some basic advice for novice directors. Here’s his thoughts:
Camera drones are all the rage, and we’re seeing them everywhere – like the snow ski run above. But a great number of young filmmakers are using them without any experience whatsoever. Not only does that end up with bad results, but with a drone, you can end up in jail! So I asked John Montana, from No Title Production Films to give us a few tips on using drones. Here’s what John suggested:
Just a tidbit: Since 1981, movies that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture often also won the award for Best Editing. No matter how well a scene is shot, acted, or directed; without editing, it won’t amount to much. Editing determines the rhythm and pacing of a scene. How music will engage the story. The impact of a particular line of dialogue. It keeps a scene moving. The truth is,
This past week I had two interesting experiences. First – it was the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Clayton Moore – who played “The Lone Ranger” on television. The series originally aired on ABC from 1949-1957, and was the highest-rated television program on the network in the early 1950s and its first true “hit”. As a kid, I watched it as re-runs, and it was one of my favorite shows. As you may remember, The Lone Ranger lived by a code, and as a kid, I knew the code by heart. Last week, during the news reports of the anniversary, his daughter, Dawn Moore said something remarkable:
The Los Angeles Times reports a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics that reveals violence in PG-13 movies is skyrocketing and almost 90% of the highest-grossing recent movies have violent characters, more than three-quarters of which also engage in drinking, smoking or sex. The study goes on to say that these PG-13 movies make violence look “as acceptable as these other behaviors.” The Times reports, “The study also found that the mixture of violence and at least one other “risk behavior” such as alcohol or tobacco use was nearly as common in films rated PG-13 as it was in movies rated R.”
My friend DeVon Franklin was the Senior Vice President of Columbia Tristar Pictures in Hollywood, and then launched his own movie production company. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to interview him onstage at a media conference here in Los Angeles. In fact, if you haven’t read his book “Produced by Faith” then I highly recommend it. During our session at the conference, I asked him what was the single most important skill it takes to reach the top in this industry. His answer?