Filmmaking is for Warriors: CineBeauty




The eye of the camera is a window into the filmmaker’s soul.


Think of it this way, Peter Jackson took on the awesome beast that is LOTR and he created images like this;


What you’re seeing is Mr. Jackson’s soul, as it experienced Lord of the Rings. He saw the mountains like his home of New Zealand, the Orcs like creatures brewed in the ground mixed with the warrior prowess of the Maori, and the captivating beauty of the land of the elves like the hidden paradises around which he grew up.

But he didn’t just envision the look of these things, he envisioned how the audience would see these things. Take the following for example:



Boromir is currently the coward in this scene. He gets a basic CU (close-up), which is traditionally from the mid-chest to the top of the head. Legolas on the other hand is defending his honor, showing that he is honorable and the one to pay attention to of the pair. He gets a closer CU.

He probably also gets that because someone thought he was prettier. Well, he was cast as the Elf.

Do you see how Mr. Jackson is showing you his soul? He shot The Fellowship of the Ring in a specific way so that you would feel the same way he feels about everyone and everything on screen.

But he didn’t just do it in a basic, boring, lets-cover-all-the-angles way. He created something gorgeous. CineBeauty – the act of using a video camera to create something beautiful.



Even hideous, creepy, evil things are somehow beautiful as seen through the eyes of filmmakers like Jackson.

There are so many things in the cinematography of the Fellowship of the Ring that are beautiful. And I haven’t even seen it in years. We could talk about the use of lighting to convey good vs. evil. We could talk about hero shots and sweeping angles and maximizing tension and showing the connectedness of a team…but this is just a post scratching the surface of beauty and the soul of the filmmaker.

What is CineBeauty to you? What other movies and filmmakers create gorgeous visuals to tell their stories? Go watch a movie and find out.


Screenwriting for the third time

I’m in the midst of modifying a Stephen King short story into a screenplay.  It presents some challenges.  Remember what I said about books being internal and movies being external?  Yeah, this story is a prime example of that.

It’s first person, for starters.

Much of the story takes place in flashbacks and narration.  Some of the story contains references to things that I don’t understand or am too young to know about.  Part of the story is so disturbing that I’m not sure how much should be shown in a film.

But, it’s a great experience so far.

My teacher taught us that in screenwriting you have to make choices.  I teach my acting students to “commit.”  Basically, in all writing and acting once you make a decision you need to stick with it.  Go to the place that is inevitable with that kind of decision.

When modifying any other medium into a screenplay, there are things that have to change.  Choices are not just important, but necessary.  I had a lot of friends who got all annoyed about LOTR and the changes that Peter Jackson made to the story.  But I even if I don’t agree with every change he made, I see that the changes made a better movie.

Let’s get back to what I learned before my last semester of film school.

There was a second magic thing that I discovered about screenwriting while on Christmas vacation.  It was: Write the screenplay however the heck you want and break all the rules, as long as you show the story.


I learned to be a rebel.

Nerds Are Cool

I’m in the process of developing a webseries.  It’s a comedy about a group of friends who decide to break social norms by doing crazy things in public.  It’s called, Things We Do In Public.

These are self-proclaimed nerds, of course.

A moment ago I searched Youtube for The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, for a completely different reason.  The ad that popped up beside it and on it was for a geek dating website.  Now why am I considered a geek if I look up The Lord of the Rings?  I might just like epic music.  Or maybe I’m researching influential American authors.  Or maybe I need background music for a sword fight I’m choreographing for a kids’ drama class.

It’s one of those reasons anyway.

Google says geek means,

  1. An unfashionable or socially inept person.
  2. A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest: “a computer geek”.

Suddenly because I like LOTR I am socially inept and/or eccentric.  Now, I know that the second one may be true.  I am a film/theater lover.  But I always think of myself as a nerd, not a geek.

Google says nerd means,

  1. A foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious: “one of those nerds who never asked a girl to dance”.
  2. An intelligent, single-minded expert in a particular technical discipline or profession.

Wow, maybe I don’t want people saying I’m a nerd.  I like this definition by author John Green much better:


This is the kind of people who will live in my webseries.  These are real people.  The google definition is just a reflection of insecure highschoolers who needed a category for all the people who made it through chemistry on the first try.  With an A.

Youtube, I resent your ad choices.  I’m not a geek/nerd.  Am I?  But maybe I don’t resent you.  Maybe I should be flattered that you think I’m the kind of person who recognizes the “miracle of human consciousness.”

I’m definitely the kind of person who choreographs sword fights.