Remember the Star Destroyer blazing across the screen in the opening of Star Wars? Or Indiana Jones running from a giant rolling boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark?
The opening moments of a film are crucial for capturing your viewers’ attention and getting them invested in your story from the start—especially on the Internet, where that “next thing” is just a click away. When planning our documentaries, we often put more time and resources into that opening scene than anything else.
As a director for the lynda.com Creative Spark documentary series, I’m lucky to profile designers, photographers, and other artists who have cool creative spaces or exciting creative processes and tools.
But Mike Winkelmann—better known online as Beeple—had none of those.
You’ve probably heard that most feature films tell their stories with a three-act structure. So what are these three acts? The beginning, the middle, and the end?
Well … no.
Instead, let’s call them the Buildup (Act 1), the Adventure (Act 2), and the Resolution (Act 3).
Think about your favorite movies. In most cases, something big happens a quarter of the way into the story. You’ll see a change in location, a leap forward in time, or just a sense that the characters have left their comfort zones.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s when Indy and Marion arrive in Cairo. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s when we meet the astronauts (and HAL) en route to Jupiter. In The Avengers, it’s when the Avengers assemble on the giant airbase. And so on.
Published by Mike Wong | Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Most people know lynda.com for our immense training library of over 80,000 video tutorials. But we also have an in-house documentary team that’s producing some very compelling documentaries with the same high quality as our individual training titles.
Recently the Santa Barbara International Film Festival screened our latest full-length documentary Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography. The film takes us inside the home and workspace of husband-and-wife artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor, who push the boundaries of photography with their haunting, layered dreamscapes.
“It was a great screening with Bruce and Lynda in attendance. Full house, great Q&A session,” said David Niles White, documentary producer at lynda.com. “It was everything we could hope for as filmmakers.”
Members of lynda.com can watch Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography in its entirety in our library. If you have already seen it, be sure to watch the recently released bonus footage featuring more of Jerry’s darkroom techniques and Maggie’s Adobe Photoshop process, as well as a new video about Jerry and Ansel Adams in Yosemite.
Congratulations to the entire lynda.com documentary team on a wonderful movie!
Pictured left to right: Nick Passick (editor); Aron Ives (cinematographer); David Niles White (producer); Mia Shimabuku (cinematographer/editor); Scott Erickson (director); and Tracy Clarke (editor). Photo by Candace Schermerhorn.
The lynda.com documentary team is pleased to announce the release of Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography, our most ambitious film to date about photographers Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor.
Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography was shot in California, Florida, Wyoming, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, where we spoke with a diverse cast of museum curators, academic historians, digital wizards, and artists.
We spent over a week shooting with Jerry and Maggie at their compound in Florida, including an amazing six-hour session under safelights in Jerry’s darkroom to capture the first live documentation of Jerry creating an original piece of art. Fortunately, we were able to shoot this film on two brand-new Canon EOS C300 cameras, which have an ISO range up to 20,000!
We’ve entered Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography in a number of 2012 and 2013 film festivals. First up is the ArcLight Cinemas Documentary Film Festival in Los Angeles, where entry into the festival is contingent on community votes. If you’d like to vote for Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography, visit the ArcLight Cinemas Facebook page now through October 14, 2012 and select “Jerry and Maggie” in the Biographical/Historical Documentaries category. If you’re not on Facebook, you can also vote by clicking the Like button associated with the “Jerry and Maggie” trailer on the ArcLight Cinemas YouTube page.
We’re extremely proud of this film and hope you’re as inspired watching it as we were making it.
Director Scott Erickson checking the shot with a Canon EOS C300 camera.
Cinematographer Mia Shimabuku waiting for her next shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera.
Cinematographer Aron Ives shooting a scene with a Canon EOS C300 camera.
As the presenting sponsor of the 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, lynda.com is pleased to take you inside the festival’s entertainment industry panels featuring some of Hollywood’s top directors and producers.
Moderated by Peter Bart (vice president and editorial director of Variety) the Directors on Directing panel features a who’s who of Oscar®-nominated directors speaking candidly about the importance of great casting, a strong story, and the ability to listen to their audience through pre-release testing. Gore Verbinski (Rango) explains how he arranged for the ensemble cast of his animated film to record their voiceovers together, in order to take full advantage of their comedic interactions. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) talks about the challenges of getting a black-and-white silent film made in the 21st century. Terry George (The Shore) describes how he found humor in the otherwise serious conflict in Northern Ireland. Chris Miller (Puss in Boots) talks about leaving room in his script for improvisation. Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2) shares her darker moments during production, assuring a nervous studio that everything would work out. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) talks about rewriting parts of the script to take advantage of actress Melissa McCarthy’s comedic genius.
Directors on Directing panel discussing the importance of the script.
Directors on Directing panel discussing Silent Movies.
Directors on Directing panel discussing The Man Speech.
Moderated by Patrick Goldstein (Los Angeles Times columnist), Movers and Shakers was a panel of top-of-their-career producers with Oscar®-nominated films ranging from big-budget effects movies to smaller, ensemble-cast dramas. Graham King (Hugo), describes how he worked with Martin Scorsese to shoot their first 3D film together—and their first with kids and animals. Michael De Luca (Moneyball) explains how he developed a working relationship with Major League Baseball, which had final cut on his film. Bill Pohlad (The Tree of Life) talks about the 10 years of obstacles he faced on the way to getting his film greenlit. Jim Burke (The Descendants) talks about shooting on location in expensive Hawaii. Letty Aronson (Midnight in Paris) discusses the unique working relationship she has with director Woody Allen—who’s also her brother.
Movers & Shakers panel discussing how a great film doesn’t have to cost much.
Movers & Shakers panel discussing how to keep the studio happy.
Movers & Shakers panel: Letty Aronson (Midnight in Paris) discussing the unique working relationship she had has with director Woody Allen, who is also her brother.
At the final lynda.com employee quarterly meeting of 2011, Creative Inspirations subject Stefan Bucher made a surprise appearance. And he brought a friend. . . well, about 300 of them.
Upon being asked by Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City to create a Yeti plush toy for sale during the holiday season, Stefan came up with dozens of Yeti options to present to Saks, who ultimately left the final decision up to him. The complete Yeti-plush package included a Yeti hangtag book created by Stefan (complete with proper care and feeding instructions for the Yeti) and a customized bag designed by Stefan and dotted with snowflakes created by another Creative Inspirations subject, Marian Bantjes, with which to properly carry the Yeti (since the Yeti doesn’t fit in any of Saks’ standard holiday bags).
Stefan finished his December presentation by revealing the Yeti from his snowflake bag before handing the spotlight over to lynda.com co-founder Bruce Heavin. Bruce then revealed that as a special holiday gift, each lynda.com employee would receive their very own Yeti. Stefan was kind enough to autograph Yeti paws for employees after the presentation.
We filmed Bert speaking at St. Mary’s College of California, located in Moraga, California. He speaks to an attentive audience about the difference between Photorealism and his style that he terms Hyperrealism. He tells us that it’s his obsessive attention to detail that breaths life into his images.
Creative Inspirations guest Marian Bantjes is interviewed by designer Michael Bierut from Pentagram in NYC during AIGA's Pivot Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
Then, we went to “Pivot,” the 2011 AIGA Design Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, to screen our latest film in the Creative Inspirations series featuring graphic artist Marian Bantjes. When the lights came up, Marian took to the stage surrounded by thunderous applause to be interviewed by design legend Michael Bierut from Pentagram in New York City. Following their candid discussion, they took questions from the audience. And of course, our cameras were there.
Marian Bantjes’ entire Creative Inspirations segment, including our footage of Marian’s interview with Michael Bierut at the 2011 AIGA Design Conference, can be viewed in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
The recently released Marian Bantjes, Graphic Artist installment of our flagship documentary series, Creative Inspirations, had the documentary team racking up some serious mileage. We followed Marian to her one-woman show in Toronto, filmed her at her home on secluded Bowen Island (off the coast of Vancouver), and filmed segments in New York and Los Angeles. Marian is a delightful travel companion and always gave us her best whether the camera was on or off. This Creative Inspirations also features an original score written and produced by composer Reg Powell. We’re looking forward to a screening of the film at Phoenix Symphony Hall on October 14th as part of AIGA’s Pivot Conference. Marian will be in Phoenix and will be interviewed by design legend Michael Bierut after the screening—and of course, our cameras will be there.
The bonus feature release shows Marian’s presentation to a packed auditorium at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto. She speaks extensively about her creative process, including why rest and relaxation plays an important part in generating new ideas.