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Category Archives: Entertainment

Steps In Producing a Movie

Right from the inception of an idea through its material conceptualization leading to its successful completion as a film, the steps below will give you some insight into how you should proceed with producing your first film. Add your individual dexterity, creativity, right choice of cast and crew, adequate financial backing, and organizational skills to these and you’ll definitely have a blockbuster in your hands.

Come up with a Concept
This one goes without saying. Unless you plan on creating a random video collage, you need to zero in on an idea if you plan on making a movie. It is better to come up with 3-4 similar ideas and then decide upon one. When you have more ideas than one to work upon, you have the flexibility to decide on the best among them by checking in which direction each idea has possibility of further developing.

Scripting the Concept
Once you have successfully decided on your main theme, you should start preparing the script by further developing that idea. During this phase, it is advisable to carry writing equipment with you all time, as you never know when and where you get a cinematic inspiration that you would like to note down for adding sub-themes or twists to your main theme. Work hard on the dialogs as catchy movie quotes and their effective delivery are remembered even decades after the movie was released, and become imbibed in the common parlance of the global audience. Think of I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse from The Godfather and you’ll know what I mean.

Draw a Storyboard
This especially helps communicate to the tech-guys how you visualize a particular shot―say, an action sequence. A series of pictures is a better way to give your stunt directors an idea on how you see your film’s protagonist and antagonist positioned against each other in that final showdown.

Get the Money Rolling
Once you are final with your movie’s script and storyboard, you can assemble these together in form of a project and show this project to financiers and companies which may take interest in your project and finance your venture. The cost of producing a movie depends upon how big your project is, besides whom you hire as your cast and crew. Remember, how you present your script and storyboard is very important when approaching financiers. If you are not very confident about your drawing and writing capabilities, get professional writers and sketch artists to do the work for you so that your film project floors the big guys with the money.

Cast and Crew
These are the most vital components that would determine whether or not your film would be successful. A talented and cooperative crew coupled with the right star cast can go ways in making a film successful even if the idea is not very original or extraordinary. On the other hand, a lax crew and the wrong cast can make even an ingenious idea fall flat. Work hard to find the right cast, take auditions and screen tests to zero in on the right actors―don’t just hire any actor just because he/she is popular and has previously delivered many hits.

Hunt for the Locales
After your cast and crew is assembled, hunt for locations based upon your script and its central idea if you plan to shoot the film outdoors. Also, when hunting for locations, keep in mind the scenes that are to be shot in those locations. The proper visual backdrop defines the mood of any scene. Hence, a proper sync must be reached between the two.

Prepare the Shooting Script
This is the actual script based on which the film is shot. This contains the actual cinematic situations, dialogs, effects, and other things which you intend the audience to see once the film is screened.

Organize a Well-defined Schedule
Make a well-defined timeline for each day of the shooting and plan ahead on what proportion is to be completed each day. Make optimum exemptions for re-takes, etc., but make sure these things don’t take up more time than usual and delay your project.

Prepare Call Sheets
Call sheets contain information and schedule regarding which members of the cast are to arrive for make-up, which crew members are due to arrive at the sets and at what time, a record of the scenes to be shot and which cast members are in it, etc. In short, these sheets show a summary of each day’s activities and attendance along with time. Distribute a copy of the call sheet to each cast and crew member so that they know what is expected of them and at what time.

Get the Equipment
Once everything is set, concentrate upon the filmmaking equipment depending upon the requirements of the script and the scenes. Besides the basic lighting and shooting equipment, you may need advanced digital support if you intend to incorporate special effects in your film.

Arrange for Sounds
Arrange for the sounds, background score, and audio effects of your movie, and keep in mind the theme while doing so.

Lights, Camera, Action
Now that everything has been finalized, give your director the green flag and proceed on commencing the shooting of your first cinematic project.

The Unbelievable Evolution of Horror Films

It could just be me, and it might be a critical eye too fervently trained to pick apart the most basic miscues in Hollywood and the surrounding industries, but the horror film industry has hit something of a boon of late. It seems to come in waves. In the 1970s, it was exploitation, slasher flicks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and going into the ’80s, it was the uber long franchise exploitation of that slasher formula in Friday The 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. Then there was a lull for a few years, as audiences got bored with the same old movies.

Much like its oft resurrected villains, the horror genre always comes back though, and in the 1990s, it found its stride in the teen slasher genre, this time exploiting the exploding high school, college age teen drama, with films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Fast forward a few years, and once again the genre faltered. When you’ve seen one psychopathic, inhuman killer, you’ve seen them all. And so, the next step was something much different, and much more disturbing, born of the proliferation of stylized violence in the films of Tarantino and the psychological mind screws of Asian horror. Hollywood loves its psychopathic killers though, and so after a few years of remaking Japanese films and rewriting classic genres, the horror industry discovered something new―the torture subgenre.

It’s not new though. Films featuring sadistic violence and torture have been around for a while, but with nowhere near the following or financial backing of today’s Eli Roths. If you head back to the hey day of the 1970s exploitation films though and dig through those Cannibal and sexualized vampire films, you’ll find a huge array of scenes in which horrific, disturbing things are done to poor unsuspecting girls and young travelers. What’s different about the Cannibal Holocaust’s of the film industry is that they were incredibly censored, buried and hardly watched by anyone, for foreseeable reasons. If one were to look up the top 10 torture scenes in films (and yes, there are a few lists if you look for them) you’ll find that almost all of them are in films made after 1994, with Pulp Fiction preceding most of them.

Tarantino’s famous leather-clad gimp scene started the whole flood, and when filmmakers saw that they could make a movie with that kind of scene and make money, and win awards for it, the torture started popping up a lot more often. It’s a powerful storytelling device, if done properly. The kind of tension created by tying up the hero of a film and doing unspeakable things to him is two fold. It creates immediate drama, a situation that may or may not end in tragedy. Second, it creates the opportunity for revenge and exacting pain upon the perpetrators of previous torturous scenes.

It makes for good film. But, when the horror industry started drifting away from slasher flicks, a formula that’s fairly straight forward―psychopathic killer stalks and kills teen girls―and started introducing protracted, sadistic killers, with ridiculous methods and disturbing, exploitative plots, things changed in horror. You can take the effort and trace it to the Japanese roots from which it directly arrived, or you can look to childhood inspiration of the Tarantinos and Rob Zombies out there and the exploitation flicks of the 70s. Neither direction is entirely right, as the roots of the genre are a mix of just about everything. Today’s horror films are direct relations to the 70s exploitation flicks in style. Teens wandering a desert road on spring break, attacked and chased down by sadistic killers to commence in a painfully long, ever-tense sequence of events.

However, today’s victims are often not as innocent as they once were. The killers are still insane, and their motives skewed by that insanity, but filmmakers are finding more and more ways to imbue their motives with a sense of urgency and the exploitation of commonly ill-considered traits. Eli Roth’s Hostel, the most disturbing and gory horror film released in the past decade or so, prey’s upon the hedonistic expectations of European backpackers.

Many might disregard the torture films of today as disturbing, self ingratiating visions from disturbed filmmakers, but they are something more entirely. Instead though, I think it’s a natural progression and exploration of genre methods that we’ve visited before, but never quite accepted. In a society that finds itself inundated with constant fear of bodily harm, ideological warfare, and an enemy intangible in almost every way, these films offer a very real, very physical release. Looking at exactly how the torture is portrayed within the film is equally important. It isn’t merely a matter of capturing a few backpackers and removing fingers. These films are about figuring out why someone could be so disturbed and how anyone could survive such brutality. With that kind of terror and pain, what could possibly occur that could be any worse?

It’s the same argument that horror film popularity has been using for decades, and like it or not, war time and mass fear breeds artistic angst and disregard for decency. Horror films are a great example of that.

Mexican Music Genres

Folklore Music

At the time of the Mayan civilization, percussion instruments were primarily used, like the maracas and drums. Other instruments like the ocarinas and flutes were used a little later. During the time of the Aztec civilization, various kinds of hymns were introduced to praise the warriors and the cantares. These ancient musical forms were an irreplaceable part of the pre-Columbian era, till the exploration of Hernando Cortes, the Spaniard who defeated the Aztecs to conquer Mesoamerica. He brought the priests, soldiers, African slaves and melodious Spanish music along with him. It was not too long after that, that all the three cultures of music, namely Mesoamerican, Spanish, and African were unified to form a new and unique form of music.

Son
Around 1800, when Mexico got independence from Spain, Mexican music was introduced to the other European forms of music like the polka and the waltz. It reflected on the traditional music of ‘the nine sons’, with each one representing a particular Mexican region. The name ‘son mariachi’ means the ‘dancers on a wooden platform’ and was the most familiar son in the past. But today Mariachi is referred to as a band of eight performers. Usually three guitarists, three violinists and a trumpet player form a band. Modern-day Mariachis can be hired to play at events and are immensely popular amongst the tourists.

The band dresses in the veteran ‘charro’ (Mexican term for cowboy) costume, and usually plays the typical music from the state of Jalisco, in short, the music of the ‘Huichol’ people. Another traditional Son that is popular in Mexico is ‘Son Jarocho’. It is indigenous to the state of Veracruz. This Son has been tremendously influenced by the Creole, Cuban and African music. A special harp from Veracruz, better known as ‘arpa jarocha’, is the essence of the arocho. Before the Mexican revolution, another son named ‘Son Jalescenses’ used to be sung on the ranches of Mexico. That is the reason jalescenses is popularly known as ‘ranchera’. Ranchera symbolize the simple country music themed on the feelings of love and patriotism. It is deeply influenced by the European waltz and the romantic Latin bolero.

Corrido
At the time of the revolution, the imperishable ‘Corrido’ took birth. Corrido is a form of ballad that tells the stories of the exploitation of the country during the revolution. Modern-day corridos reflect the day-to-day life of the Mexican people and still tells the tales of the political scandals and the recent happenings.

Norteño
Also referred to as the ‘el norte’, meaning ‘the north’, norteño is the most popular form of music in Mexico, as well as the United States. This genre was invented during the ’20s. The ‘bajo sexto’ (a 12 string guitar) and the accordion are the defining instruments of norteño. Norteño is mainly popular for the enticing aroma of its country music, and its clean and steady rhythm.

The Polka Effect
Mexican music is quite influenced by this lively form of dance music. Bohemian migrants to Texas brought the polka beats along with them. Eventually, both the mariachi and ranchera were blended in the lively polka beats, that later became an essential part of the norteño music.

Tejano
Tejano is also called the ‘tex-mex’. Norteño gave birth to this musical genre as well. The origin of tejano lies near the Mexico-Texas border. Tejano is a gift of the Mexican people who moved to Texas, especially in the Central and the Southern Texas. It is a blend of a variety of musical genres across the continent, including the blues, rock and cumbia. It also has the hip-hop and disco adding more lively flavors to it.

Banda
Banda is a blend of almost all the genres of the Mexican music, like the corridos, boleros, baladas, cumbias, rancheras, and also rock and pop. Banda is basically a big brass-based form of music that mainly relies on percussion. It originated in the Sinaloa state of Mexico. Around 10 to 20 people are present in a band.

Others

  • Colombian Cumbia – Till the advent of Banda, around the 80’s, this genre was more popular in Mexico than Columbia itself.
  • Gruperas – This genre is the most popular in the regions of mid-south Mexico. This is a ‘group form’, with a blend of rumba and the ranchera. Grupera is popularly enjoyed at parties and clubs.
  • Danzón – The Cuban people were immensely influenced by the African slaves who invented the rumba. Danzón is a refined dance form, introduced to the Mexican black population by the Cuban people, around 1879.

Modern Music

The music industry in Mexico is always bustling with new arrivals of various artists. An average Mexican listens to all the popular forms of music, such as the pop, rock, heavy metal, etc. Their songs are composed in both English and Spanish.

Rock
Rock is referred to as ‘rock nacional’, meaning national rock. The world rock events have definitely inspired the rock artists in Mexico. In the late 60’s, rock bands strictly had to organize underground events. The ‘Woodstock Music and Art Fair’ (Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro) was one festival where various groups used to display their talents. It was the time when Carlos Santana became hugely popular at Woodstock. The ‘Latin ska’ movement began around the 80’s. It was a movement inspired by the Jamaican ska which is a mixture of Caribbean mento, American jazz, Calypso, and R&B (Rhythm and blues). Mexican rock was limited only to Latin America till late ’90s. It is really a combination of its traditional music and daily life stories.

Young Mexicans
Young musicians have grown up on contemporary hip-hop, rock and jazz. This has made the paradigm shift from traditional Mexican regionalism to global Latin recognition. Named as the ‘Latin alternative’ from the 90’s, it has spread like a wildfire across the globe. Contemporary artists of this genre have raised the standards and the expectations of the Latino music lovers.

List of Historically Inaccurate Movies

Braveheart (1995)
This movie is based on the story of Scotsman William Wallace and his role in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward of England.
Bloopers: In Braveheart, the main character of William Wallace was shown to have led the Scottish crusade against the British authorities. William Wallace’s character as depicted in the movie had a relationship with Princess Isabella of France, who also bore him a child. The character of Robert the Bruce was shown to be fighting alongside the English in the Battle of Falkirk. The Prince of Wales, who went on to become King Edward II, was portrayed as an effeminate and weak person.

History Says: The real William Wallace had traces of Scottish nobility in his blood, he wasn’t a commoner as shown in the movie. Princess Isabella of France was around two years old when the Battle of Falkirk was fought, not the grown woman that she was according to the movie. Robert the Bruce was never a part of the Battle of Falkirk and King Edward II’s character was exaggerated in order to achieve a more dramatic effect.

Gladiator (2000)
The Roman General, Maximus Decimus Meridius is made a slave, after having his family killed and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ murder. Maximus rises to become a gladiator, and seeks his revenge from the Emperor’s treacherous son, Commodus.
Bloopers: In the film, Emperor Commodus was shown to have killed his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. His character’s reign also does not last long as he was shown to have been killed in the gladiatorial arena by the main character Maximus.

History Says: Emperor Commodus’ reign lasted for a good thirteen years before he was strangled in his bath by Narcissus. His father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius died of illness (plague, most probably). Allusions of Commodus’ character being incestuous are also incorrect.

The Patriot (2000)
This is the story of an American man pulled into the American Revolutionary War when he sees his family in trouble. The lead character of Benjamin Martin is inspired from actual Continental Army officers, Francis Marion, Nathanael Greene, Andrew Pickens, and others.
Bloopers: As the character was loosely inspired by Francis Marion, it was expected that the makers show him to be a slave owner. In fact, the concept of slavery itself was ignored by the makers of the film. British troops were shown to have killed prisoners of war, burnt a church full of civilians and committed other horrendous atrocities.

History Says: Slavery was rampant in those times, and the real Francis Marion was known to be a slave owner. The depiction of the British troops and the crimes they committed had an uncanny resemblance to those of the Nazis in WWII, which is a very glaring exaggeration. The image of the British was a far cry from reality according to most historians, who say that the scale of violence shown in the movie was stretched beyond imagination.

10,000 BC (2008)
Set in the prehistoric era, this film is about a young hunter who travels to far away lands in order to protect his tribe.
Bloopers: The construction of the Egyptian Pyramids was included in this film. The makers showed the use of trained mammoths in the construction of the Pyramids.

History Says: The historical inaccuracy in this movie was that the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids, with the Benben stone on top was shown approximately 7500 years too early. Geographically speaking, the movie shows a rainforest at the base of snowy mountains, with a desert in the vicinity, which are obvious inaccuracies, as they are natural anomalies.

Apocalypto (2006)
As the Sun sets on the Maya Empire, the rulers decide that the only way to survive is by offering human sacrifices to please the Gods. This is the story of a young man held captive for such a sacrifice.
Bloopers: The Maya tribes were shown to be blood-thirsty, uncouth and unhygienic people who indulged in grotesque brutalities. Mass sacrifices were attributed to the Maya tribes as well.

History Says: While the overall depiction of the Maya tribes seemed botched-up, the sacrifices shown were more in line with the Aztec civilization. Positive references to the Maya tribes were scant. Their scientific, agricultural, artistic and spiritual achievements were completely ignored.

Pearl Harbor (2001)
This film tells us the story of two friends, Rafe and Danny, and their love interest, set against the backdrop of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Bloopers: The cinematic version had us believe that the Japanese Zero fighter aircraft were green in color. Also, Admiral Kimmel was shown to be playing a game of golf as the news of the Japanese attack reached him. In fact, several inaccurate depictions of naval fleets and army guidelines were scattered throughout the film.

History Says: The Japanese Zero fighters were gray in color, and Admiral Kimmel was only scheduled to play a round of golf that morning, which he canceled when he heard of the unfortunate attack. Several other liberties taken by the makers raised questions, and the National Geographic Channel even made a documentary called Beyond the Movie: Pearl Harbor which highlighted them.

Amadeus (1984)
This is the story of the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told through the eyes of his one-time rival, Antonio Salieri.
Bloopers: The whole plot of the film was centered on Antonio Salieri as the antagonist and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mozart’s death.

History Says: Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart were rivals, but the supposed hatred that Salieri was shown to have for Mozart was far from true. While as per historians, Mozart and Salieri were never on back-slapping terms, they were not sworn enemies either.

U-571 (2000)
A WWII story, it tells us about the capture of a German submarine by American troops.
Blooper: Set in 1942, this movie tells us that the Americans daringly captured the U-571 German U-boat to take over their enigma cipher machine.

History Says: The real U-571 was never captured, neither was it a part of any such event. It was sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force flying boat off the coast of Ireland. The U-570 too was not captured by the Americans. It was the British Royal Navy who did it in the actual in 1941, even before the Americans had entered WWII. They also destroyed all the classified material found inside.

Alexander (2004)
Alexander, the King of Macedonia sets out to conquer the world. This movie chronicles the life of the great military leader.
Bloopers: The film’s climax shows the Battle of Hydaspes (on the banks of the river Jhelum) in which Alexander was crucially wounded by an arrow. Even the setting of this historic battle, bright and sunny as shown in the movie, is the exact opposite of what actually happened.

History Says: In reality, Alexander was injured by an arrow later that year in the siege against the Malhi (near the present-day city of Multan in Pakistan) in a different battle. The Battle of Hydaspes in fact, was fought on a dark, rainy night.

Robin Hood (2010)
In this film, Robin Hood and his cronies battle the corrupt royals and keep the French from launching an invasion on England.
Bloopers: Yes, the character of Robin Hood is exempt from all historical inaccuracies, being somewhat of a legend himself, but King Philip Augustus of France was a real person who didn’t actually want to invade England, as shown in the film.

History Says: King Philip Augustus just fought to win what he thought belonged to France from the Plantagenets, and those territories were in continental Europe.

Inaccuracies are an inseparable part of Hollywood historicals. Movies like 300 (2007), Spartacus (1960), Troy (2004), King Arthur (2004), The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), Pocahontas (1995) are further examples of how history gets pushed into the background in order to make way for entertainment.

Documentary Filmmaking Tips

#1 Goals and Objectives
Unless you are clear about what you want to showcase, you will not be able to portray the same to your audience. Hence, it is important that you know the purpose and objective of making the movie very well. Once you know the subject well, it becomes easy for filmmakers to even make a documentary without words (which usually happens to be the soul of the movie). Moreover, if the objective of the movie is clear then the very purpose of screening this movie is successfully achieved.

#2 Understanding the Genre
Most documentary movies follow the thought-provoking style or rather the more intense genre, however, as a filmmaker you are free to explore all the different types. Now, it is the genre of the documentary that will decide the use of photographs, real events, videos and interviews, which when edited together will create an appealing impact. The genre would also determine how the scene has to be shot, therefore, it is important for a filmmaker to understand the style he wants to mold his documentary into.

#3 Defining Your Subject
The essence of a documentary movie is to fulfill its purpose; whether it is to inform, teach, educate, or entertain. Moreover, the subject should be defined in a way such that it makes the film dramatic, attractive, appealing and stand out from other films previously written or presented on the same subject.

#4 Thorough Research
Making a documentary film provides the filmmaker with a fair chance to communicate his opinions and ideas related to the subject of his movie. However, it is important to support claims with proper facts and proof, while providing opinions or a specific message concerning the topic. To gather all the proofs and facts, it is important for a filmmaker to conduct a thorough survey of the subject.

#5 Realistic and Believable
When you have authentic facts and information about the subject, it automatically makes your documentary look realistic and believable. The best way to authenticate your information is to interview people who are experts in the subject and take notes of the same.

#6 Getting the Sound Right
It is not very difficult to start rolling the camera and get the right shots needed to screen your documentary if you have a decent camera and the skill to shoot it right. However, the most difficult of all is to get the sound right, which is the soul of any movie and without which interpretation becomes difficult. So, make sure you have the right apparatus to record the sound in sync with the picture to create the right kind of impact.

#7 Exposition
Exposition usually occurs at the beginning of the documentary or when one has to introduce important subject matter in the movie. This aspect is important because it acts like a trailer, which gives the audience a brief idea of what the film is going to be like and introduces the audience to the content and characters (if any) of the movie.

#8 Ask for Opinions
When you are done with making the documentary, make sure you show it to a few close friends, family members, or your mentors to get proper feedback and some genuine critical reviews. If you’re convinced about what they have told you, get back to improving a few scenes or adding new scenes, whatever the case may be. Remember, it is your documentary, therefore, change the content or add new scenes only if you are convinced of the same, it is not compulsory, as reviews are subjective and might differ from person to person.

Choose a Good Film School in Mumbai

Bollywood and its Stalwarts

Mumbai is sometimes called ‘Mayanagri’, which in Sanskrit means ‘the land of magic and illusions’. And Bollywood is all about weaving magic on the big screen. There are some magicians of the film industry who claim that they can infuse their magical touch into the aspirants. These veteran actors have their own acting schools in Mumbai that cater to anybody who comes to the city with a dream in their eyes and, of course, ample money in their pockets.

There are more than a few film acting schools in the city . A quick look through the yellow pages or even the evening daily will have many ads screaming in your face about how they can make you the next big star – provided you pay them a fee.

And the names behind these film acting schools are not small. Big names in the film industry have understood that there is big money in small town people chasing big dreams in Big Bad Bombay. There are various reasons why these film schools work.

The biggest reason is the city itself. The city has this virus in its air that makes one believe that anything is possible and everything is achievable. You just have to run a bit faster, jump a bit higher, and survive a little more.

Another major reason is that almost everyone in this world has a secret and a not-so-secret fantasy. That is to either become a writer or a rock star. Of course, there are more than a few aspiring writers and rock stars in Mumbai, India and all over the world who have turned out to be better accountants, programmers and housewives (now homemakers).

Another reason that the city is swarming with film schools is that anyone can act. Or sing, or dance or paint, or weave. But that does not mean that everyone should act, dance, paint or weave. Taking my example, I can sell good enough, I can explain (some call it teaching) tolerably, and I can manage satisfactorily. But my best talent is writing. So I write. In a nutshell, this paragraph is telling you to do what you do best, and not do it because there is more money or fame in it, but because you have a love for it.

Before Joining a Film School

One has to be careful before even thinking of joining a film school. One should do proper research and have a sound knowledge of the how things work in Mumbai before enrolling in an institute. Remember, there is one thing that a tourist in Mumbai should know. Back off at the first instance of smelling something fishy.

Probably the best bet of joining an institute in Mumbai is to check who owns the acting school. And while some may take it as a joke, but please heed this suggestion, if you are getting all starry-eyed about the name of the school – ensure that the person after whose name the acting school has been named is alive and teaches at the school. Now, there is this Ashok Kumar’s Acting School in Mumbai, which is named after Ashok Kumar, one of the sparkling gems of the film industry. Of course there is every chance that Ashok Kumar’s acting capabilities may have rubbed off on a talented aspirant, but the important words in the previous sentence are ‘may have’. Simply because Ashok Kumar has been dead for a couple of years now.

Who Makes A Film School?

Also, there have been cases where past actors, failed wannabes and other assorted people ‘related to the film industry’ have started their film acting schools for Bollywood. Another breed of individuals who create such schools are nameless personalities who are best known as the ‘second extra in the thirteenth action scene in the debut movie of that producer’s blue eyed girl’, or better still, ‘that child artiste in that movie which won that prize in that film festival in that country in 1963’. Other people are the crème de la crème of fly-by-night film acting schools. These people are just related (related, as in sons, daughters, cousins, friends) of some veteran and well-known actor.

There is Hope, After All…

Before we lose hope and shun the ideas of entering the Indian film industry entirely, let me confess that there is hope. Though there are schools not worth the papers on which they give you a receipt of your fee, there are some good film acting schools in Mumbai. These are the schools that have a better chance of having their students in Mumbai film productions. These schools have a definite structure, syllabi and teaching method. While most other film schools would propound about things like ‘everybody is creative’ and ‘anyone can achieve whatever they want’, the professional ones will give a definite roadmap to your dream destination.

These schools are a bit on the expensive side. Expensive is good, because one thing that an expensive school fee does is make a person self analyze and decide whether they actually want to pursue their dreams. But then, one can safely say that the fee is worth it, what with their way of teaching. Many schools like these do have veteran and experienced personalities of the film industry as their teaching or guest staff.

So, here’s a quick checklist to go through before opting for a film school:

Research: Take as much time as you wish before signing any document at a film acting school. Spend time on the premises. Look around and see whether there is actually some teaching going on.

Learn: Take a look at their past. Find out what the passouts from the school have been up to. Better still, try to communicate with the current students. You are certain to find some inside information on the way the school runs.

Acknowledge: Acknowledge the fact that even though it’s a film school, it is a school. A film school is never ambiguous and has various courses and a set duration for the same.

Finally, going to a film school is just like going back to school. Just ensure that it is as serious as you are in your pursuit of celluloid dreams, and no doubt, you will be on the big screen soon enough.

Cult Violence Growing in Popular Movies

In my last year of high school, my American history professor decided he would show us Saving Private Ryan. The result was a litany of forms to be signed by parents for those not quite 18, and questioning by most students why this was necessary. Only the year before a film had been pulled from an English class in the same school, only rated PG-13 for its portrayal of 19th century sex, but here was our teacher showing us an extremely bloody, violent battle-ridden film. The argument―”it’s history”.

Violence has long-held a certain mystique, the ability to stand tall above the censors and display endlessly gratuitous imagery for all ages. But it’s always been sex that truly upset the stuffy conservative minds of this country. The MPAA arose not because of excessive violence in films, but because of worries over indecent imagery related to sex.

A video game was pulled from the shelves and slapped with an Adult Only rating (the only time ever given) because of a possible unlockable sex scene. The game is one of the most violent offerings around―Grand Theft Auto. It’s an epic assault on every law written, complete with random shootings, drug dealing, and cop killing. But, sex put it over the top.

Left to their own devices, the sex and violence in film has flourished, finding routes of their own, slowly but surely pushing the censors to the borders, and squeezing as much as they can out of an R rating. The result is a numbing of audience receptors to the true ferocity of some violence.

If one is to show a particularly disturbing scene, it’s necessary to take it to an entirely new level of grotesque. Realism is the next key, in which these scenes are made to look as wholly and truly realistic as possible. Gone are the hokey squirts and sprays of dismemberment. Film makeup has gone beyond that. That limb can really come off and it will look incredibly disturbing.

This cult of violence in our films has bred a new way of approaching it entirely. Instead of submitting to the desires of a so many blood thirsty film goers, directors are starting to experiment with how to turn violent imagery into an art form, not mere grotesquery to satiate the masses.

Exploitation films have been around since the ’70s, when the splatter genre arrived in films like ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Those films took violence and made it so ridiculously over the top, especially in the case of Jason and his hockey mask, that they made it fun to watch. The idea was to be scary, but in truth it was a chance to watch horrific images so ridiculous that they toned down what you might see in everyday life.

Similar films came out of Asia in time, high-flying martial arts films with explosive bloodletting, almost comical at times in its lack of realism. A samurai sword to the shoulder blade might produce more blood than a typical adult male carries in his body. Anime took it to the next level, with gallons of blood spraying free of a severed limb.

Today’s experimental filmmakers are taking heed of the results and rewriting the violence code once again, crafting movies with all the sensibilities of a 70s splatter-fest or sword skewering anime in homage to a style that exploits. Comic books are proving a superb source for these films as well, the works of Frank Miller in particular finding a home on-screen when most assumed they never would. Sin City and more recently 300 are hyper-stylized affairs rimming with violence, the kind that you’d see on an ink drawn page, so carefully planned and executed as to be art rather than violence.

Quentin Tarantino started a trend all on his own when he filmed Reservoir Dogs, infusing what some would have seen as mindless violence with reams of witty dialog and well crafted plot, begging the question of whether the movie could be the same without those bloody scenes. Pulp Fiction’s gritty, humorous back and forths couldn’t exist without the explosive, disturbing images to offset them. It’s the perfect balance of that which both naturally disgusts and intrigues you and that which you find funny. The humor is only enhanced by all that blood.

Kill Bill, arguably Tarantino’s most exploitative homage, is a combination of all the stylistic elements he’d been developing, a campy plot with tons of splatter film derived frivolities, but more than enough serious, revenge driven action to drive the plot.

Dozens of filmmakers have followed suit, and not only have we seen a resurrection of the horror film industry as a result, the Tarantino-esque attempts of many directors to deftly combine slick gangster violence with humorous exchanges and a wickedly sadistic plot pop up annually.

Film’s cult of violent intrigue is one that some find disturbing, and still more find disgusting, but one thing remains true―human beings enjoy it. Whether it’s built into our genetic code, a throwback to caveman values and primal instincts, or an internal desire to find solace in all the violence that isn’t real to better absorb and digest the excessive destruction we wreak on each other in reality, violence has a particularly soft spot in our hearts. This is something that will always slide under the radar, as the staunch censor-happy few pick apart the latest revealing sex scene.

What is Entertainment

In a world where we find ourselves evermore overwhelmed by-and drawn to-bright images and flashing screens, it is worth asking a few questions about that most important of consumer goods: entertainment. What makes entertainment entertaining? Why do we need it, or do we? What is entertainment, anyway?

These are a few of the questions I set out to answer in a class I taught a year or so ago: Entertainment in America. And while we couldn’t quite come up with satisfactory answers, even after a semester of reading and discussion, I’d like to try to set down a few of the thoughts that came out of that course here. But I don’t want to shove the partial answers I’ve come to down your throat-that’s no fun for anybody. Rather, what I’ll do in the following is offer a list of questions that you might ask yourself, along with a few resources that might be worth looking at as you search for your own answers to these increasingly crucial questions. I’ll also note, from time to time, the conclusions I have tentatively reached regarding these questions.

Are you ready? Here goes…

What is entertainment? (Too obvious, but we’ll come back to it. If you keep this question in mind as you go down the list, you may find a definition beginning to come together. Try it out.) Even if you know it when you see it, does it bother you if you can’t come up with a good definition of what it actually is?

Is there such a thing as “only entertainment”?
Only Entertainment-Bad Religion
That’s Entertainment-The Jam
That’s Entertainment-Judy Garland
When you read the lyrics of The Jam’s and Bad Religion’s songs, and read about the history of the Judy Garland highlights film, what is your sense of the kind of material that makes for entertainment?

Who needs entertainment? What for? When you are entertained, what are you feeling? Read a Dilbert or Doonesbury comic strip, and try to record what happened inside of you while you were looking at the comic. Did you feel happier? A sense of release? The resolving of tension? Was that entertainment? Would you say that reading the comic strip was the same kind of experience as watching a television show? How? How not?

Are some kinds of entertainment better for you than others? Which kinds? Is it better to play internet poker or to watch a video? Try doing each for a little while and record your feelings. Was one more entertaining than the other? How? Why? Did one make you more aggressive? Less likely to do something productive in the world around you? Did either change the way you felt about yourself? How?

One of the things I was struck by while teaching this course was the way entertainment can work as a substitute for action. If I can identify with a character on TV-on a soap opera, for instance-then I get to feel all the feelings that character feels, without having to do the actions that result in those feelings. I get to feel jealous without having a cheating spouse, excited by the intrigue of adultery without being an adulterer, and intimate without ever actually talking to a living human being. In short, I get to feel. Some researchers believe that feelings are the way we human beings experience our world most fully, but is there a price to pay when we feel our emotions in a way that’s disconnected from the physical world around us?

That is, if we get to feel feelings without taking risks, do we start to lose our ability to risk emotion in the “real world”? I don’t have a definite answer to that for you, but I do have one for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that entertainment is-while maybe necessary for emotional and psychological health-definitely a dangerous substance. Like fire. So, for my part, I’ll still watch a film now and then. But I’ll also think afterwards about how watching that film, getting that emotional satisfaction, affects my ability to act in the real world. You might consider doing the same; it actually turns out to be pretty entertaining.

Impressive Movie Review of Shrek Forever After

Shrek, now a father of triplets with a house and a loving wife, is living the life of a responsible husband and father. However, he begins to get bored with the mundane life of a married ogre (if ever there was one). He misses the days when he could just stomp off scaring villagers with his infamous roar. Due to the mounting frustration, in a fit of anger he stomps out of his children’s first birthday party. Wandering alone in the forest, he meets Rumpelstiltskin, who makes a deal with him, saying that in exchange of one day from his childhood, Shrek can live one day as a free, destructive ogre. Shrek agrees, only to later realize that the day Rumpelstiltskin took from his childhood is the day he was born. He now has 24 hours to save Far Far Away from falling into Rumpelstiltskin’s hands forever. He also has to make Fiona fall in love with him all over again.

After a highly disappointing Shrek The Third, Shrek IV does come across as a significant improvement. However, this movie has been unnecessarily complicated by showing the entire plot taking place in an alternate time zone when Fiona doesn’t recognize Shrek, and when Donkey has to start wooing dragon all over again.

The performances by all the stars of the movie, as expected, is impressive; nevertheless, the character that stole the cake in this installment is Rumpelstiltskin. Walt Dohrn has done an amazing job as the conniving little villain who wants to take over Far Far Away.

The biggest criticism of this movie, however, is the fact that it barely manages to make one laugh in the way the previous installments did. Even donkey’s lines hardly manage to evoke a smile (partly because he has relatively lesser lines in this movie). Another huge disappointment is that the 3D has not been used to its full potential. There are only a handful of scenes that really make use of 3D, whereas it could have helped to bring many scenes to life, which would have made the movie a lot more enjoyable.

The film basically tries to fill you with a feel-good factor, trying to make you realize that you need to be happy with what you have because things could be a lot worse, and even succeeds in doing so to quite an extent. All said and done, this is a step forward after Shrek the Third, and does have some moments where you get the humor that captured the imagination of millions the world over. So, although this isn’t really the most creative thing that you’ll come across, it is worth a watch, because after all, it is the last time our lovable green ogre will be seen on the big screen.

The First Horror Film Made

Popular belief tells us that it was a well-known French filmmaker Georges Melies, who made the first horror film. The film was titled as Le Manoir Du Diable (French for: The House of the Devil). It was released in 1896, on Christmas Eve, in Paris. It was a three-minute film and contained many traditional pantomime elements. This film also depicts a haunted castle and manor of the devil.

The Plot in Brief

The film begins with a bat flying into a medieval castle. The bat circles slowly and transforms into Mephistopheles. Preparing a cauldron, the demon produces skeletons, ghosts, and witches from its bubbling contents. Then, the demon conjures a young girl and some other supernatural elements. When one of these supernatural agents hold up a crucifix, the devil vanishes immediately.

History of Horror Films

The element of horror was initiated during the classic age of English literary history. Some of them are Gothic novels like Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

After the Second World War, the devastation caused by war gave rise to three genres: the horror-of-personality films, the horror-of-Armageddon sub-genre and the horror-of-the-demonic films.

However, during the age of modern and post-modernism, the element of sadistic horror and the supernatural ruled these films. Gore Verbinski’s “The Ring” released in 2002, can be named as one of the most effective horror movies of the modern era. Here, we can mention William Malone’s “FeardotCom” (2002), and James Wan’s “Saw” (2004), sequels of which were released in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Recently, the film directors have introduced a new trend ‘chick flicks’, which have the element of traditional horror-adventure. For instance, “The Descent” which was released in 2006. This film is regarded as the first chick flick which includes the element of brutal action.

Thus, portraying the gloomy and forbidden side of life and death, these horror films evoke a mixed feeling of terror and fear blended with a feeling of pity for the protagonist. Have you seen “The Wizard Of Gore” by Jeremy Kasten, “Dracula 2000” by Patrick Lussier, “Halloween Night” by Mark Atkins? If not, then try to watch some of these.