Brandon Schaefer at takes a great look at Woody Allen’s film posters:

The stories change, but a through-line exists from poster to poster that feels reminiscent of his approach to filmmaking. They spend less time interested in visual tricks or artistic flare, casting aside color in favor of the clarity offered by the contrast between black and white. While the posters themselves share certain stylistic practices of the period they were born out of (United Artist’s one-sheets for “Last Tango in Paris” and “The Passenger” reveal similar stylistic notes being played), taken in as a whole they reveal a distinct visual identity thoroughly appropriate for a director unconcerned with the seductions of style. Typography takes a more prominent role, with actor names highlighted more than what you’d find in your typical film poster, while the imagery used is often simple, with a single still photograph highlighting a mood or through a graphic symbol that brand’s a film’s identity. Lavishness is underplayed, with the few visual flourishes mostly being afforded to the film’s title.

This approach, of course, pairs nicely with Allen’s signature opening titles—black screen with white type set in Windsor Light with classical or jazz music playing—as they forgo certain stylistic choices and bind the movies together. They set the stage in an understated way as if to say “You are about to watch a Woody Allen film.”

While the posters for Annie Hall and Manhattan mean the most to me personally, I especially love the Zelig poster. I remember seeing it before seeing the movie and not getting it but now I look it and revel in its brilliance.

Also be sure to look through the international versions the site published as well—really fun and completely different than their American counterparts.

“Every time I go to make something, I’m trying to discover … what I like and what I’m into. It’s like I’m figuring out who I am again.”
Spike Jonze, The Working Light, quoted in this excellent profile in New York Magazine on the director and his new film Her.

Joss Wheden offered up an inspiring commencement at Wesleyan University’s 2013 graduation. My favorite passage:

And that’s why I’ve been talking only about you and the tension within you, because you are—not in a clichéd sense, but in a weirdly literal sense—the future. After you walk up here and walk back down, you’re going to be the present. You will be the broken world and the act of changing it, in a way that you haven’t been before. You will be so many things, and the one thing that I wish I’d known and want to say is, don’t just be yourself. Be all of yourselves. Don’t just live. Be that other thing connected to death. Be life. Live all of your life. Understand it, see it, appreciate it. And have fun.

“So what I finally decided was, art is simply inevitable. It was on the wall of a cave in France 30,000 years ago, and it’s because we are a species that’s driven by narrative. Art is storytelling, and we need to tell stories to pass along ideas and information, and to try and make sense out of all this chaos. And sometimes when you get a really good artist and a compelling story, you can almost achieve that thing that’s impossible which is entering the consciousness of another human being—literally seeing the world the way they see it. Then, if you have a really good piece of art and a really good artist, you are altered in some way, and so the experience is transformative and in the minute you’re experiencing that piece of art, you’re not alone. You’re connected to the arts. So I feel like that can’t be too bad.”
Steven Soderbergh, on the importance of the arts
“He was a very affectionate Dad, who could solve all your problems, and when he died our protective umbrella was gone.”

—Katharina Kubrick, from this fantastic Reddit Ask Me Anything with Stanley Kubrick’s daughter and grandson. It was endlessly fascinating to see the human side of Kubrick’s life.

(Sometimes I hear the way someone speaks about someone they love and hope one day the same compliment could be used to describe myself. The above quote is one of those—so beautiful, honest, and raw.)

“I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting. That’s just sort of my way.”
Wes Anderson, from this interview on NPR.

I don’t know exactly where or when I first came across the work of Hillman Curtis. I have a distinct memory of watching his Stefan Sagmeister film sometime during my senior year of high school. I proceeded to watch the rest oh his Artists Series, each of which left me inspired as I left for college and started my journey to graphic design.

I found myself returning to the films every few months during my first two years of school and having discussions with professors that derived from Hillman’s work. When I dabbled in film a few years ago, his short films were an inspiration. I know a lot of designers feel the same way and it was truly amazing to watch the outpouring of love and memories on Twitter through out the day.

Hillman died today after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 51.

A Conversation with Alfred Hitchcock

In 1964, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation filmed a two-part interview with Alfred Hitchcock that covers lots of ground with topics ranging from the technical aspects of making a movie, the nature of art, reflections on his favorite films, and the philosophies of storytelling. I’ve included both parts here for viewing.

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Alfred Hitchcock describing how to inject emotional tension into a scene:

Tell the audience there is a bomb under that table and will go off in five minutes. The whole emotion of the audience is totally different because in five minutes time that bomb will go. Now that conversation about baseball becomes very vital. Because now they are saying don’t talk about baseball there is a bomb under there! Now the only difference is, and I’ve been guilty of the sabotage of making a picture but I’ve never made it since: the bomb must never go off.

“I like the idea that the story changes over time even though nothing has changed on the outside. What’s changed is all in my head and has to do with a realisation on my character’s part. And the story can only be told in a particular form. It can’t be told in a painting. The point is: it’s very important that what you do is specific to the medium in which you’re doing it, and that you utilise what is specific about that medium to do the work. And if you can’t think about why it should be done this way, then it doesn’t need to be done.”
Charlie Kaufman on why he writes

In the making of The Godfather, writer and director Francis Ford Coppola kept a massive “prompt book” where he kept all his notes in the development of the movie as well as what would need to go into every single scene so the movie would not fail:

In theatre, there’s something called a prompt book. The prompt book is what the stage manager has, usually a loose-leaf book with all the lighting cues. I make a prompt book out of the novel. In other words, I break the novel, and I glue the pages in a loose-leaf, usually with the square cutout so I can see both sides.

I have that big book with the notes I took, and then I go and I put lots more observations and notes. Then I begin to go through that and summarize the part that I thought was useful. And quite naturally you’ll see that the parts fall away, or that you have too many characters, so you know that you have to eliminate some or combine some. Working on it this way, from the outside in, being more specific as to what you think… then when you finish that, you are qualified perhaps to try to write a draft based on that notebook.

In the case of “The Godfather” I did that, and although I had a screenplay, I never used it. I always used to take that big notebook around with me, and I made the movie from that notebook.

Francis Ford Coppola's Prompt Book

“The “real” reason you make films – or at least I do – is you get trapped in them, and you have to edit your way out.”