Visual Encyclopedia

Ben Fancher

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My goal is to reinvent cinematic storytelling by introducing films rich with plot & visual effects.

Art Institute of Portland -graduated

BFA in Digital Film & Video

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Posts

The internet movie database (IMDb for short) has come to be considered standard by Hollywood. IMDb has become a great resource for knowing who's in a film, watching all the latest trailers, bits of trivia amongst other great information. Users can also submit information on their favorite films and IMDb will review it for possible inclusion as well as rate movies and add them to their watchlist to get notifications for theatrical/video release. What's more is IMDb is part of Amazon so if you already have an Amazon account, you can use Amazon to sign in.

Posted in Film

Hollywood Studios used to run a tight monopoly on film production, distribution, and exhibition. If you were an independent filmmaker, it was not possible to get your film distributed or seen on your own. You had to go through one of the major film studios and if they didn't like your film for any reason (perhaps a threat to one they're working on or just plain a really good film that could do well), it wasn't going anywhere. Then in 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that Hollywood studios could not own all 3 major arms for getting a film out and that the studios must part with one of them. Hollywood then decided that loosing exhibition would hurt them the least so they sold of the majority of their theaters.

Posted in Film

"I Love Lucy" shakes up filmmaking

The "I love Lucy" show was the first to use the 3-camera system that is now standard. It was also the first sitcom in front of a live studio audience. Lucy Ball owned a production studio called Desilu (Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball) with her husband Desi which upset many studios of the time because it was run by a woman and an interacial couple (Desi was Cuban) both taboo in 1962.

Posted in Film

Thomas Edison's Black Maria

Thomas Edison's theater, the Black Maria, was built on a pivot so the building could turn and be kept aligned with the Sun. A section of the roof could be opened up to allow the sunlight in to illuminate the set for filming.

Posted in Film

The First Theaters

The first theaters were called nickelodeons. Their name came from a combination of the admission cost (just one nickel) and the Greek word for theater. The nickelodeons were frequently storefronts.

Posted in Film

With the creation of the studio system came the major players who had the most say in the film industry. There were five studios in all which became known as The Big Five. The Big Five consisted of Warner Bros., Paramount, RKO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (later MGM), and Fox Film Corporation. These studios controlled most if not all aspects of the film industry at the time. There is rumor that The Big five still exist today though the lineup has changed a little. It may be worth a note that the top five grossing studios are: Warner Bros., Walt Disney, Universal, Fox, and Sony. www.metacritic.com

Posted in Film

End of the Silent Films

The 1920s saw the invention of sound added to films. At first, it was treated as more of a novelty has the mics had to be hidden on the set (usually in a prop like a flower vase or on the actors clothes) and would be stationary so the actors couldn't move very much. There was also the problem that the cameras made a lot of noise so they were placed inside a soundproof booth to mute the sound from hitting the mic. Eventually the boom pole was invented and quieter cameras were made.

Posted in Film

Filmmaking even has its own lingo as you can see in this link. A C47 is a clothespin. One of the stories on its name is a film was starting to run tight on the budget and they needed clothespins to hold some fabric together to keep out the light but were certain the studio would not approve the clothespins so they came up with calling it a C47 to make it sound cool and get the approval they needed to make the purchase. The list in the link does not include everything and there are numerous other great sites out there as well as actual books. One such book that was given to me is "Movie Speak" by Tony Bill. If you're interested in the work, learning the lingo will go a long ways.

Posted in Film

George Méliès

George Méliès is considered to be the father of special effects. He had a huge impact on telling a narrative film. He began the process of effects like the zoom close up (seen in his film "A Trip to the Moon") which he did by moving the subject closer to the camera. As a magician he experimented with many other special effects for the camera that later filmmakers would draw upon to produce films that told a narrative story.

Posted in Film

The Great Train Robbery is supposed to be the first narrative story film & was produced by Thomas Edison & directed by Edwin S. Porter. The actors used for the film were theater actors which is why their performance is over dramatized. They were used to performing in theaters were everything had to be a big flair so the audience way up in the balconies could see it & tell what was going on. The bits of color seen in the film & other early films would have been hand painted, frame by frame! It is believed that at one time more of the film was colorized this way but over time most of the paint has faded off.

Posted in Film