Saturday, September 28, 2013

Film Critique: 'Klopka'

Klopka (The Trap) (2007)
Crime Drama – 106 minutes
Srdan Golubovic

I knew nothing about Klopka, (a Serbian word meaning ‘The Trap”) before I viewed it, and I’m can only wish that it was more well known. Though it is obscure and hidden from mainstream audiences, it is definitely a rare and unique film that is worth seeing several times.

Although I must confess I have a weakness for dramas with this high level of intensity, the most compelling element of this film is not the high tension or the plot twists. The aspect of this film that captured my attention the most was the cinematography.

The cinematography is not only unique and beautiful, but often times the compositions communicate the feeling of the film in ways that few other films do.  Director Srdan Golubovic and Director of Photography Aleksandar Ilic were not afraid to compose shots in ways that force the viewers to feel a certain way about what is happening. In addition to this, the compositions also have an artistic freedom that isn’t seen in most other films.

The film carries us through a twisted journey of a man faced with dark choices about his friends and family. This leads to a rather dark and depressing conclusion, but the story couldn't have ended any other way. 

If you enjoy Klopka, be on the lookout for the director’s following project, ‘Circles’, which was a part of Sundance in January 2013 and is Serbia’s submission to the Foreign Film category of the 2014 Academy Awards.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NYC, IFP Conference, and thinking like an Entrepreneur...

This past week I had the opportunity to attend several days of the IFP Film conference at the Lincoln Center in NYC.  Some of the panels held unique perspectives of the independent film industry, and I’ve pulled together some of what I thought were the best takeaways from the conference.

      1)   Filmmakers need to think of their films like an entrepreneur thinks of a startup.  Entrepreneurs focus intensely on market research, market data, target audiences, and the like. They do everything they can to discover who is going to use their product or service before they do anything to actually launch their business. They know specific price points about how much a certain target market is going to value their product or service. They find out as much data as possible from comparable businesses and competitors. If a previous business or startup in their industry failed, they know why, how, and they learn how to avoid those mistakes.

In the same way, independent filmmakers MUSt start to think of films in this way – Filmmakers should know their target market, they should study their audience. They should know who is going to want to see their film, and who is not part of that market.

      2)   Filmmakers need to think of their viewers as their customers – And value viewer relationships in the same way a business values customer relationships.

A company is able to exist and thrive because it can build a connection with it’s customers. If a customer isn’t satisfied with a product or service, they’ll go somewhere else to find it. In the same way, if a viewer isn’t satisfied with a film, they’ll find another film that they will be satisfied with. For this reason, one of a filmmakers most valuable resources is it’s viewer relationships.

One final interesting takeaway from IFP…

     3)   Data is changing everything

The film industry has been behind in terms of data collection in recent years. Many studios and film companies have not taken advantage of the opportunity of collecting data about their customers (viewers).  They know how many people went to the movies, how much money they made, but the details of who, when, where – their viewers ages, what they shop for online, what other movies they’ve watched, music that they listened to, and more remain unknown.

Netflix changes that. It is no coincidence that Netflix’s original series ‘House of Cards’ was so successful. Netflix collects data on viewers habits the way that Facebook collects data for advertisers. Targeted and specific.

As data collection becomes a larger part of the film industry, and with the rise of new technology and distribution platforms, their will be more and more opportunities for creative ways of reaching targeted and specific audiences.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Upcoming Films You're Going To Want To See

The next six months hold the release dates of some cinematically awesome films. These are the five films that you will want to see in the next six months.

-Gravity, Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Oct. 4th
Why? The technology used to make this film is mind blowing. Also, James Cameron called it "The best space film ever done".

-Inside Lewllyn Davis, Coen Brothers, Dec 6th
Why? Because the Coen Brothers have proved they know how to seamlessly and artfully blend music, narrative, and striking period visuals together with films like "O Brother Where Art Though?", and "Inside Lewllyn Davis" will be capture a distinctive 

-American Hustle, David O. Russell, Dec. 13th

Why? Because director David O. Russell has had marvelous success in working with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jessica Lawrence in the past, and the chemistry between the actors in this film is sure to be dynamite. Also, the script, which I have personally read an early draft of, is very compelling.

I predict that the last two films on this list will not receive as much popularity at the box office or the press, although  I predict that '12 Years a Slave' has a good run at winning some Academy Awards (My award predictions are an upcoming blog post - look for those soon).

- 12 Years a Slave. Steve McQueen, Oct. 18th
Why? Director Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender have a chemistry like few other actors and directors do. Steve McQueen's raw and visceral style will be explosive when applied to this story and this setting. Michael Fassbender is also probably one of the best (if not the best actor currently in the industry).

Her, Spike Jonze, Dec. 20th.
Why? Because Director Spike Jonze always has a unique view on the world, and it is always a view worth seeing.