The Art of Film Making

Screenwriting

"I don’t believe that no one should ever be allowed to see Gone With the Wind again. Let it exist, but with even a slight bumper up front that might make for deeper conversations. Let us study it. Let us understand what was wrong about it, what did work in it."

       John Ridley

John Ridley won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave in 2013.  He was the first African-American writer to have written a film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in Oscar history.

"Nobody knows anything ... not one person in the entire motion picture     field knows for a certainty what's going to work.  Every time out it's a     guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one."

        - William Goldman, from Adventures in the Screen Trade, 1983

 

William Goldman won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1970) and for Best Adapted Screenplay for All the President's Men (1977)

 

He also wrote the novel and adapted the screenplay for The Princess Bride.

Spike Lee won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Black KkKlansman, a 2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Picture.  He was also nominated for Best Director but lost to Alfonso Cuarón, the Oscar winner for his direction of Roma.  Lee was previously nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing in 1990 and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2015 as "a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers."

"The 2020 Presidential election is around the corner.  Let's all mobilize, let's all be on the right side of history.  Make the moral choice between love versus hate.  Let's do the right thing!"

       Spike Lee

Directing

 "I left Mexico for artistic survival.  If I had stayed, I would have been forced by the government, who control the movie business, to direct TV shows or commercials or infomercials for the government."

       - Alfonso Cuarón

 

In recent years, the Academy Awards for Best Director have been dominated by Mexican-born directors Alfonso Cuarón (Oscars for Roma and Gravity), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Oscars for Birdman and The Revenant) and Guillermo del Toro (Oscar for The Shape of Water).

 "You do the best job you can.  You take it step by step.  It's hard enough to make a movie.  If it works, that's great.  If it means something beyond the moment to somebody, they can take it and if it lasts through the years, we'll see."

       - Oliver Stone

 

Oliver Stone has been nominated 9 times in various Academy Award categories.  For Best Original Screenplay, Platoon; Best Original Screenplay, Salvador; Best Original Screenplay, Nixon; Best Adapted Screenplay, JFK; Best Adapted Screenplay, Born on the Fourth of July; and Best Director, JFK.  He won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express; for Best Director, Platoon, and for Best Director, Born on the Fourth of July.

Acting

Two of the most esteemed actors of American cinema, Burt Lancaster and Fredric March, face off in Director John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May.

Burt Lancaster was nominated 4 times for Best Actor in a Leading Role; From Here to Eternity; for Birdman of Alcatraz; and for Atlantic City, USA.  He won the Oscar for Elmer Gantry.  

 

Fredric March was nominated 5 times for Best Actor in a Leading Role; The Royal Family of Broadway; for A Star Is Born; and for Death of a Salesman.  He won the Oscar for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Best Years of Our Lives.  He shared the Award with Wallace Beery in 1931.

"People will say to me, ‘You’ve played so many strong women’ and I’ll say, ‘Have you ever said to a man, ‘You’ve played so many strong men?"

       Meryl Streep

Surpassing all other actors and actresses of any era, Meryl Streep has been nominated 21 times for Academy Awards in either the Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress categories and won 3 times.  She won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Kramer vs. Kramer; Best Actress in a Leading Role for Sophie's Choice; and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in The Iron Lady.

Composing

"I usually do not use my music as a means for social or political propaganda. Because, although that was before I was born, seeing the way the Nazis used the music of Wagner traumatised me a lot since I was a teen. But as a person, I am deeply concerned about where the world is going, in the EU, UK, US, Asia and Japan. I never thought I would see the world get controlled by a dictatorial power in my life."

       - Ryuichi Sakamoto

 

Ryuichi Sakamoto of Japan shared the Oscar for 1987's The Last Emperor with Cong Su of China.  They were the first Asians to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

"There's a very basic human, non-verbal aspect to our need to make music and use it as part of our human expression.  It doesn't have to be with body movements, it doesn't have to do with articulation of a language, but with something spiritual."

       - John Williams

 

John Williams has been nominated for 51 Academy Awards and won the Oscar 5 times.  His wins were for Fiddler on the Roof; for Jaws; for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope; for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; and for Schindler's List.

Editing

"The editing hasn't changed because we're doing it digitally.  Editing is editing.  The decision of what to do takes the same amount of time, except, we get there quickly.  ... You don't edit from knowledge.  You edit from intuition."

       Michael Kahn

 

With 8 Academy Award nominations, Michael Kahn sits atop the list of acknowledged masters of film editing.  He won the Oscar for Best Film Editing for Raiders of the Lost Ark; for Schindler's List; and for Saving Private Ryan.

"We wear a lot of hats.  A lot of people say that editing is the final rewrite of the film.  Basically, what we try to do is help shape the movie and put forth the best product possible.  Sometimes it takes restructuring scenes, sometimes it takes deleting scenes altogether, sometimes you really have to look at the actor and see the performance that they are delivering and you try to make it, and shape it, to the best way possible."

   - Joi McMillon, on the role of a feature film editor.  McMillion became the first female, African-American Oscar nominee for Film Editing.  The film was Moonlight, winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 2016.

Cinematography

"All great films are a resolution of a conflict between darkness and light.  There is no single right way to express yourself.  There are infinite possibilities for the use of light with shadows and colors.  The decisions you make about composition, movement and the countless combinations of these and other variables is what makes it an art."

       - Vittorio Storaro

 

Vittorio Storaro has been nominated for 4 Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, including Dick Tracy in 1991.  He won the Oscar for Apocalypse Now; for Reds; and for The Last Emperor.

"Cinematography speaks to everything that women do inherently well:  It's multitasking, it's empathy, and it's channeling visuals into human emotion."

       - Rachel Morrison

In 2017 Rachel Morrison received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography for Mudbound.  She was the first woman ever nominated in this category.

Costume Design

"What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage.  We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not.  We ask the public to believe that every time they see a performer on the screen, he's become a different person."

        - Edith Head

Edith Head is the most honored costume designer in the history of the Academy Awards with an astonishing 35 Oscar nominations and a winner of 8.  Her wins were for The Heiress; for Samson and Delilah; for All About Eve; for A Place in the Sun; for Roman Holiday; for Sabrina; for The Facts of Life; and for The Sting.

"Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king.  It's been my life's honor to create costumes."

        - Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter has received 3 Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design, including for Malcolm X in 1992 and Amistad in 1997.  She won the Oscar for Black Panther in 2018, and in so doing became the first African-American woman to win in this category.