BTRP Recommends-Looking for Richard

Image result for looking for richard movie poster

4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

How do you make a movie about a 15th Century King of England in 1990s Manhattan? Ask Al Pacino. He made Looking for Richard, a docu-drama adaptation William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Richard III.

Looking for Richard is Al Pacino’s interpretation of Richard III with Pacino directing and starring  in the title role. The film handles the complicated task of interpreting Shakespeare’s play by telling us historical context in which Richard III Gloucester came to power. It covers The War of the Roses, the victory of the Yorks, and the relationships between various royals, and relatives.  The film does this so well that the movie serves as a live-action Cliff Notes.

Pacino travels to England and visits Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born, but the much of the movie was filmed in New York City. He made the film on a small budget and couldn’t possibly fly his cast across an ocean, so he filmed of the scenes from the play in rehearsal, the actors reading the script around a table, or sometimes in full costume on a stage.  For a few key scenes, he managed to find a Medieval setting in Manhattan. Imagine that.

This is truly resource filmmaking at its best. Pacino filmed his exteriors at The Cloisters, a museum in Manhattan built to resemble a medieval castle, and his interiors at St. John the Divine, one oldest and largest churches in the US. Combined with period costumes and the acting chops of Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, and many others, the movie makes us believe we’re in the world of Shakespeare’s play.

In addition to showing us the inner workings of the play, we also see Pacino’s struggle in making his film which took four years to complete. We see him attempt to conquer the challenge of performing Shakespeare as an American actor, grappling with the language, and the challenge of filming the film’s climax, The Battle of Bosworth Field on a small budget.

This film is an extraordinary achievement considering Pacino essentially made the film in his spare time in between movies. He didn’t have money to buy himself out of trouble, so he employed old fashion movie tricks, creative editing techniques. It’s a lesson to any filmmaker you don’t need a ton of money in order to make an audience understand a 400 year old play about a 500 year old English king.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who is interested in Shakespeare or for filmmakers interested in making a documentary. It’s one of those movies that can be viewed over and over again. Seeing the Pacino’s process as he and his collaborators battle the play, make mistakes, but ultimately convey his love for Shakespeare and Richard III is both inspiring and entertaining. Much like Shakespeare’s plays, Looking for Richard has withstood the test of time. It was released in 1996, and is still just as enjoyable and relatable today as it was 20 years ago.

Advertisements

Cinesummit Part Six- Ryan Connolly

cs5feat

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

I learned about Cinesummit through Ryan Connolly’s YouTube channel, Film Riot. Connolly has become a master DIY filmmaker, and over the years, he’s created a successful production company. He’s built a million plus subscriber base on YouTube, and has an impressive body of work.

Film Riot breaks down the techniques used to create the special effects used in Hollywood films. They also show viewers practical hacks on how to get cinematic results with DIY equipment. The content is great for every level of filmmaker from novice to expert. I highly recommend his channel.

 

CINESUMMIT Part One: Roger Christian

cs5feat

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

CineSummit is an online educational event for filmmakers I was able to attend this year. It’s an forum that showcases filmmakers from around the world as they give helpful advice to up and coming film professionals.

This year the focus was on directing and featured directors from around the world including: Roger Christian, Adam Patch, Blake Farber, Alex Di Marco, Ryan Connelly, Martin Rosete, Verena Soltiz, and Matthew Jenkin. Each one had a different perspective and insights on the art of directing and the film industry itself.

Roger Christian is a legend. He is a Director/Art Director/Set Decorator who worked on the iconic science fiction classics, Star Wars and Alien. He has 18 directing credits and was a 2nd Unit Director on Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. He created the iconic light-saber for Star Wars, and is a wealth of knowledge and stories about the film industry.

In his interview, he talked about the way he managed to break into the film industry. For Christian, it was the art department. He has been to art school and connected with friends who were in the film industry. From there he networked as he moved his way up the chain and finally found himself in the director’s seat.

His first short film, Black Angel, was shown as a companion to The Empire Strikes Back. He was able to get the opportunity to direct that film because he had worked with George Lucas who encouraged him to make the film.

Roger Christian enjoys mentoring filmmakers and other industry professionals and saw CineSummit as a chance to pass on his knowledge to those of us who have aspirations to make feature films. His story is a delightful tale and the first one I watched.

Other than hearing about the rich history of the classic films Mr. Christian has worked on, I found the main takeaway was that the industry is about networking. He got the opportunity to work in the industry through his association with people in the Art Department of films and eventually was able to direct a film through his relationships with people like George Lucas. The thread of “it’s all who you know” could be seen in most of the talks given this year. It’s an important lesson to all of us in the entertainment community.