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Tarkovsky, Kubrik, Paradzhanov, Pasolini


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#1 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 12:00 AM

Folks, who can give me that decisive, helpful bit of advice? What school in your opinion would give me the best film education?

The reason I am itching to study film (now, at 36, after about 10 years in design and advertising racket in NYC and Hamburg, Germany) are the great films by directors listed above.

I know quite a bit about still photography, film history, art in general, etc. I made a 15 min short, video art rather, it was shown at Transmediale in Berlin. But the last few years were - financially - bleak, so 30K a year for a private school is very, very, very unlikely (especially considering how un-commercial my aspirations are).

I know that VGiK first comes to mind, but I heard that it's not what it used to be,
and Moscow can be a bit hard on one's nerves, wallet and digestive tract
(language is no problem, it's my mother tongue).

Other considerations:
The two best German schools don't take students over 30.
Other German schools produce unbearable, uniformly saccharine "telenovela"-style melodramas (makes one yearn for a good car chase with explosions and good old ultraviolence).
Lodz is probably underfunded, but what a great tradition.

What about MFA programs stateside? After reading the postings here, I am even interested
in Brooklyn College - no MFA, but good program from what I could gather.

What are your opinions on the subject?

P.S. I don't want anyone to think that I am putting anybody down who makes or likes Hollywood films. Some of my favorite films are by Sigel, Frankenheimer, Fleischer and Mann. It's just Hollywood is not what it used to be, and it's not what I want to (or think I can) do.
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#2 Morgan Peline

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 06:17 AM

Do you want to be a director or cinematographer?
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#3 Morgan Peline

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 06:44 AM

If 3 out of your 5 favourites are Easter European then I would say got to Eastern Europe as it is more a way of looking at the world than anything else.

Technique is technique,where ever you go. Viewpoint...now that's a different ballgame.

Of course considering your 36 - you'll probably be over 40 when you leave either Russia or Poland - will that be an issue? Maybe a two year course is a better option as you can get shooting much faster. AFI maybe? Practical, intensive and faster than Poland or Russia.

If I had my time again I think maybe I would have liked to try Poland, but then many people seem to say that they are not a sgood as they used to be, are ver dogmatic in their teaching methods and nowadays their students make beautiful looking films but their stories are quite boring and always the same...maybe they're trying too hard to replicate Kiewslowski all the time and have become stagnant and stuck in a rut? Just like the Russians who people say are also not as good as they used to be - do their students always make bad copies of Tarkowsky because in the end like most film student the world over all they do is just copy their own cultural heroes?...Just a question.
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#4 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 08:32 AM

If I had my time again I think maybe I would have liked to try Poland, but then many people seem to say that they are not a sgood as they used to be, are ver dogmatic in their teaching methods and nowadays their students make beautiful looking films but their stories are quite boring and always the same...maybe they're trying too hard to replicate Kiewslowski all the time and have become stagnant and stuck in a rut? Just like the Russians who people say are also not as good as they used to be - do their students always make bad copies of Tarkowsky because in the end like most film student the world over all they do is just copy their own cultural heroes?...Just a question.



I would like to be a complete filmmaker, a director who is completely technically versed in all phases of putting a moving image n the screen - like Kubrik.

I don't want to be another Kieslowski, but if they really make beautiful films in Lodz, I'll think of somehing to say (and from what I heard, now - because of the money, mostly, - NYU and USC make the slickest, most visually impressive student films).

Are there any schools stateside that have the same 'auteur' slant and let you shoot a lot of film, and (ideally) help you get jobs, get into the festivals, and not just take your money and leave you out in the cold the moment you're done?
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#5 Morgan Peline

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 05:44 PM

Why not just read alot, make your own films and then just hire really good dps to make your films look 'slick'? I think most theory about directing taught in filmschools can be self taught by reading alot and shooting alot - could work out much cheaper than paying school fees. I don't know much about US film schools as I am in the UK but I doubt there is any school that can easily open doors for you as they have hundreds of students - I think much depends on having a good reel, working hard and being very lucky.

One thing I would say is 'slick and visually impressive' does not necessarily mean 'meaningful' in other words the US has always prided itself in making things look great but that doesn't necessarily mean the content is fantastic...

But like I say, I don't know anything about the US filmmaking scene...
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#6 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 08:24 PM

Thanks, Morgan, I appreciate your comments. I'm thinking about film schools as well as alternatives to film schools, it's just I don't know enough about the industry and practice to make an informed decision.
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#7 Leon Rodriguez

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:57 PM

Hey Victor,
Thanks for the nice note. I have to agree with Morgan on his last post. I myself never went to Film School but I've hired many film school grads over the years. I don't ever feel less qualified to express myself cinemagraphically for it either. I can see what the film students take away from film school and go into the world with. I personally think that if you follow your passion through to it's ultimate conclusion, your investment might be better placed directly on the screen. With the life experience your age gives you, you are more prepared than you might think. Buy or rent a camera, write a 5 page script about something you believe in, cast it with cooperative friends. See everything through to the end. It will NOT be perfect, a first film never is! No film ever is! But it will give you a glimpse of the filmmaker inside of yourself bursting to be set free. You must introduce yourself to that raw entity and begin a lifelong relationship with that filmmaker that is Victor Kaganovitch. Maybe your second project will be the pick-up shots for what you meant to say but didn't capture... I don't know; I'm speculating. But my point is, Just do it. Make a movie. Infect yourself with this strain of expression. See if the innoculation takes hold. If it does, you won't want to do anything else for the rest of your life. Are you ready for that?

p.s. Here's the beginnings of my newest one.
http://filmthreat.co...n...ch=0&page=2
http://www.imdb.com/...490847/combined
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#8 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 02:57 PM

Hey Victor,
Thanks for the nice note. I have to agree with Morgan on his last post. I myself never went to Film School but I've hired many film school grads over the years. I don't ever feel less qualified to express myself cinemagraphically for it either. I can see what the film students take away from film school and go into the world with. I personally think that if you follow your passion through to it's ultimate conclusion, your investment might be better placed directly on the screen. With the life experience your age gives you, you are more prepared than you might think. Buy or rent a camera, write a 5 page script about something you believe in, cast it with cooperative friends. See everything through to the end. It will NOT be perfect, a first film never is! No film ever is! But it will give you a glimpse of the filmmaker inside of yourself bursting to be set free. You must introduce yourself to that raw entity and begin a lifelong relationship with that filmmaker that is Victor Kaganovitch. Maybe your second project will be the pick-up shots for what you meant to say but didn't capture... I don't know; I'm speculating. But my point is, Just do it. Make a movie. Infect yourself with this strain of expression. See if the innoculation takes hold. If it does, you won't want to do anything else for the rest of your life. Are you ready for that?

p.s. Here's the beginnings of my newest one.
http://filmthreat.co...n...ch=0&page=2
http://www.imdb.com/...490847/combined


Thanks, Leon! This are very inspiring words.
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#9 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 05:08 PM

Just do it Victor. And read A LOT and more than A LOT. and most importantly learn from great filmmakers by watching their films. In the film school they teach you to not simply watch, enjoy and appreciate good films (which is the first step of course) but to deconstruct them (equally important). You should get past the enjoyment phaze and deconstruct every film you watch -- thats how one learns from my experience.

...and then read again. By reading I don't only mean technical literature (which is very important) -- read theory as well, but more importantly literature. Filmmaker without literary background is just like a deaf man aspiring to become a composer. :)

Edited by Raymond O'Neil, 04 December 2006 - 05:12 PM.

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#10 Jon-Hebert Barto

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 11:55 PM

Kubrick did not go to film school, barely passed high school....fwiw
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#11 Jean-Francois Morin

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 03:09 AM

Hi Victor, if I can say, I am student in filmmaking myself, and after having pass over 5 years learning filmmaking, watching films after films, etc., I can tell you this... What is filmmaking for you... I think that this is the most important thing to know first... So many young filmmakers have no identity, no vision... People don't try to create, people want to imitate... Thats why we are always repeating ourself, and that the most of the film made by young student etc. are so repetitive....

Cinema is a mean of expression, with is own language... As painting, dance, sculpture or whatever.... So, if you are really dedicate to be a filmmaker, learn the language first... Read about other filmmakers, cinematographers, watch and analyse as much as you can the film that you see... I think that it was Stan Brackage who said.."I haven't see a film before I looked at it at least 50 time..."

As people said before me, and with what I do totally agree is, so many great filmmakers never went to film school, what is film school anyway... The best way to learn something is by doing it, and asking question about it.... Film school will provide you technology. equipment, friends, "tools"... However, Teachers who know about their stuff are good ressources.... everything isn't all good or bad...

But if you really want to know how works a film set... I suggest you to ask to be a P.A on a film near where you live for exemple.... If you want to know about DOP, read about ligthing, observe life around you, how does things react... etc... It is all a matter of logic... Filmmaking is the art of illusion, use you imagination and experiment... We are so lucky now, we can have access to so many information with forum like this one, and DVD's, etc.... If you knew how much I've learn just by walking outdoor, looking at the world around me... Light during a foggy day, color temperature during different weather, season, etc....

To make it short, What I want to say is this: Whatever the film school you will choose, it won't make of you a better filmmaker... A better technician, maybe.... it is what you have to say, and the way that you will say it who will make you a filmmaker... Whatever if you have the best knowledge of lighting, that you know every lamps name, every cameras name and pieces... it doesn't matter at all.... the best technician are not making the best film... Schools form technicians... not artists... " Conscience and content must come before any technique - for any artist, in any art form..."

And Sorry for my english folks.... :D
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#12 steve hyde

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 06:36 PM

I like Herzog's advice. In the interesting 2004 book "Herzog on Herzog" edited by Paul Cronin - Herzog explains why he has produced all of his films. He didn't go to film school and he didn't wait around for studios to fund his projects. He did all of his own fund raising and just went for it. Herzog advises against working as an "assistant" on funded productions and argues it will not likely give the aspiring filmmaker the experience needed to make films. If you want to make films just make films and don't be shy about asking film industry people for help. I am under the impression most "film schools" prepare students for taking jobs in the industry. We all know what that means.

I have only recently started making films. I got my first super 8 camera in 2004 and am now rolling out my first short films. I'm 35 and a returning student at a research university currently in a PhD program. I plan to do most of my fund raising from non-film industry sources: arts foundations, humanities, social sciences, non-profits etc. For now, my projects are self-funded (and modest)

Paul Cronin also edited "On Film-Making: an introduction to the craft of the director" by Alexander McKendrick (another good book that you might be interested in)


best,

Steve
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#13 janusz sikora

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 10:05 PM

Humbly personal opinion...
I believe American Universities tend to teach Formula Filmmaking... This pertains in particular to script writing. Styles of Tarkovsky, Kieslowski, Passolini, Fellini etc do not lend themselvs to formula filmmaking at all...
For people with established Thinking Modus Operandi best choice it to do some workshops in filmmaking and to use saved money to shoot their first feature film.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 12:34 AM

Humbly personal opinion...
I believe American Universities tend to teach Formula Filmmaking...


Not CalArts where I went to school -- our dean at the time was the 1960's experimental filmmaker Ed Emschwiller. At the other extreme from experimental filmmaking was professor Alexander Mackendrick, but he was trying to teach of classical narrative structure based on things like Greek plays, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc. The school and students were willfully anti-Hollywood, too much in some ways. When I would mention that I was a fan of Kurosawa's movies, someone told me he was too commercial. My cinematography professor was Kris Malkiewicz, who came out of the Lodz film school in Poland.
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#15 Sam Wells

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 12:17 PM

When I would mention that I was a fan of Kurosawa's movies, someone told me he was too commercial.


And likely they would tell you they prefered Mizoguchi or Ozu, but --- as they came of age in the late 50's Shohei Immamura and Nagisa Oshima rejected *those* directors as being too conservative......

Lately I've begin to think Ozu was one of the most radical of all filmmmakers, so sometimes it's a question of cultural zeitgeist, "anxiety of influence" etc or cultural, geopraphic, temporal distances and the perspectives implied...

-Sam Wells
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#16 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 10:40 AM

I must second that the best way is to READ, READ, READ, watch making of's, then get a camera and start doing. CARPE DIEM!
Maybe try to work on some student or other low budget films to observe.
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