George Spyros to Speak on New York Women in Film and Television Panel on Mobile Media Tools: Fast, Cheap and Under Control

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I’m stoked on being a part of this!

Mobile Media Tools: Fast, Cheap and Under Control
Date/Time:  Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Quit the fundraising grind and get into production now. Mobile media tools can radically reduce budgets required to produce documentary work. Find out how you can bring your dream projects to life via the power of your mobile phone. Experienced producers, directors and innovators will discuss their mobile media work, tools and storytelling strategies.



Thunder Bay the first film in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

thunder bay poster movie james stewart first film 185 aspect ratio technicolor director anthony mann imageThe Filmakr app provides you with a range of Aspect Ratio Masks to prep your films for sharing on square-format social site such and Vine and Instagram, or to give your films that cinematic look such as 2.20:1 (70mm), 2.39:1 Anamorphic, or 16:9 which is the HDTV standard and for all intents and purposes at 1.78:1 is comfortably close enough to substitute for 1.85:1 Academy Flat.

What was the first movie released in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio Format? Thunder Bay

May 20, 1953 Thunder Bay opens in 1.85:1 (the American “flat” ratio) at Loew’s State in New York.

• Production Dates: late September to mid-November 1952
• Filmed during principal photography in 1.37 to 1 aspect ratio (Originally planned to be photographed in 3D)
• Released in 1.85 to 1 widescreen aspect ratio

BONUS FIRST: Universal Studio’s first use of stereophonic sound

The film marked Universal’s first use of stereophonic sound, which at the time was presentable only in select theaters. Some contemporary reviewers complained that the sound, with its use of three speakers, was loud and distracting.

Thunder Bay is an American adventure film directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. The plot is set following World War II, when ex-Navy engineer Steve Martin (James Stewart) and his friend Johnny Gambi (Dan Duryea) come to Louisiana with dreams of wealth. They build an offshore oil drilling platform with the help of a large company, and find themselves in a lucrative business. However, local shrimp fishermen are hostile, feeling their livelihood is at risk. A further complication is the budding romance between Steve and the daughter of one of the shrimpers. Most of the picture was shot in Morgan City, LA, and some scenes were shot in New Orleans and on an oil-drilling barge thirty miles out in the Gulf of Mexico


How to Use Filmakr Aspect Ratio Masks

Aspect Ratio Guide For Filmakrs

RIP Vilmos Zsigmond, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer

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After Haskell Wexler passed this week, our thoughts immediately turned to his contemporary Vilmos Zsigmond. Unfortunately our fears have been realized much sooner than we thought : (

Hungarian-born cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, winner of an Oscar for his achievements on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and a nominee for “The Deer Hunter,” “The River” (1984) and the “The Black Dahlia” (2006), has died at 85. His business partner Yuri Neyman said he died January 1.

VARIETY: Vilmos Zsigmond, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer, Dies at 85


Our Vilmos filter in our Warm & Natural set is one small way the Filmakr app pays tribute to Zsigmond. As well as our MaCabe filter.

Also check out the great documentary film No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos

Cinematography Tribute 2015 from Serena Bramble on Fandor

From a 70MM revival to iPhone filmmaking, enjoy what a year it was in cinematography.

Fandor — Video: Best Cinematography of 2015

Cinematography Tribute 2015 list of films and cinematographers with links to info in order of appearance:

CarolEdward Lachman
MeadowlandReed Morano
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on ExistenceIstván Borbás, Gergely Pálos
By The SeaChristian Berger
Far from the Madding CrowdCharlotte Bruus Christensen
Crimson PeakDan Laustsen
The RevenantEmmanuel Lubezki
Hateful EightRobert Richardson
TangerineRadium Cheung
SicarioRoger Deakins
Fifty Shades of GreySeamus McGarvey
Magic Mike XXLSteven Soderbergh
Ex MachinaRob Hardy
Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationRobert Elswit
Mad Max: Fury RoadJohn Seale
It FollowsMike Gioulakis
Beasts of No NationCary Joji Fukunaga
The WalkDariusz Wolski
The Stanford Prison ExperimentJas Shelton
Macbeth (2015)Adam Arkapaw
The Assassin (2015)Mark Lee Ping Bin

RIP Haskell Wexler, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer and Documentary Filmmaker

haskell wexler medium cool 35mm panavision silent reflex psr motion picture camera blimp cameraman cinematographer director matte box arriflex 1969 ronald grant black white photo

Haskell Wexler at work on Medium Cool, 1969 shooting with a blimped 35mm Panavision Silent Reflex [PSR] Camera. Photograph: Ronald Grant

Haskell Wexler belonged to a key time in the development of the art of cinematography. As we move completely to digital filmmaking, this era is now capped off with all the greats who will have pioneered and achieved great work shooting on film.

In addition to our Cool & Moody Wexler filter, our Warm & Natural Days of Heaven filter owes some debt to Haskell Wexler.

Jeff Wexler:

His cool, uncluttered but visually distinct style grew out of his years as an educational and industrial filmmaker, which led to his photographing of documentaries such as Joseph Strick’s “The Savage Eye” in 1959. He continued to invest his own money in films that promoted causes because he saw them “as an instrument for social change.”

Variety: Haskell Wexler, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer and Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 93

Good overview of Wexler’s career in The Guardian: Haskell Wexler obituary

American Cinematographer In Memoriam: Haskell Wexler, ASC, 1922-2015

Haskell’s son Mark Wexler’s documentary on his father Tell Them Who You Are

Haskell Wexler at work on one of our favorites Elia Kazan’s America, America. Shooting handheld with a French Éclair Caméflex camera:

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Filmakr Filter: Days Of Heaven


Found in the Warm & Natural set, this Filmakr LUT-based filter is named after the 1978 film Terrence Malick film Days Of Heaven.

Malick and cinematographer Nestor Almendros modeled the film’s cinematography on classic silent films, which often used natural light. They drew inspiration from painters Johannes Vermeer, Edward Hopper (particularly his House by the Railroad), and Andrew Wyeth, as well as photo-reporters from the start of the 20th century.

Much of the film was shot during the early morning or late evening right before the sun has set, what has become known as “magic hour”, which Almendros called “a euphemism, because it’s not an hour but around 25 minutes at the most. It is the moment when the sun sets, and after the sun sets and before it is night. The sky has light, but there is no actual sun. The light is very soft, and there is something magic about it. It limited us to around twenty minutes a day, but it did pay on the screen. It gave some kind of magic look, a beauty and romanticism.” Lighting was integral to filming and helped evoke the painterly quality of the landscapes in the film. A vast majority of the scenes were filmed late in the afternoon or after sunset, with the sky silhouetting the actors faces, which would otherwise be difficult to see. Critics were unanimous in citing the photography as a technical milestone.

The production ran so late that both Almendros and camera operator John Bailey had to leave due to a prior commitment on François Truffaut’s The Man Who Loved Women (1977). Almendros approached cinematographer Haskell Wexler to complete the film. They worked together for a week so that Wexler could get familiar with the film’s visual style.

In 2007, Days of Heaven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. We’re looking forward to the remake with all those killer CGI effects — biplanes, locust swarms, digital sunsets! Not.

Original trailer for Terrence Malick’s Days Of Heaven

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Hair in the Gate

Back in the days of shooting film, the expression “check the gate” came into being because hairs or build up of film emulsion scrapings would get caught at the bottom of the rectangular opening, the gate, that allowed light to pass from the lens onto the film. So after each successful take, the assistant camera person would “check the gate” to make sure all was good. Not withstanding this procedure, sometimes these rascally imperfections made their way through…

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While plenty of technical issues challenge the digital cinematographers of today, fortunately gunk in the gate is no longer one of them.

LOTM: The Dickson Experiment

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LUT OF THE MONTH: The Dickson Experiment filter

In celebration of the US Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and in honor of the first known film to depict some warm contact between two men (ladies, this is for you too, we’ll follow up with something special for you as well) we’ve created The Dickson Experiment filter which Filmakrs can now download for free.

History of The Dickson Experiment film

The Dickson Experiment is the first “sound film,” the earliest  known experiment in creating a movie with a synchronized soundtrack.  It is also the first notable form of homosexuality depicted in film.  Made by William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson (1860-1935) in late 1894 or early 1895 in 1895, it depicts two men dancing together while director W.K.L. Dickson playing on violin a piece of “The Chimes at Midnight”, an opera by Jean Robert Planquette.  While commonly labeled online and in three published books as The Gay Brothers, at the time men were not seen this way as queer or even flamboyant, but merely acting fanciful.

The Dickson Experiment LUT

Our  LUT is fanciful and high contrast with whites clipping a bit to conjure the black and white qualities of The Dickson Experiment paper print embedded here, but also high in saturation to give the feeling of celebration. There are many colors of the rainbow (of course!) bouncing around with pinks in the mids to add a beautiful queer cast to the skin tones. Blues and Greens dance together in the highlights like the two men in film, bringing whispers of cyan to the whites, holding their own integrity but mixing with the reds while moving into the shadows adding a lavender foundation. Meanwhile, the yellows are pure, saturated and eye-catching; as they dive into the greens they bring a bit of earthy, muddiness and a sense of grounded reality to the entire scene. It’s all is topped off with a touch of underexposure to impart a sense of aged paper, like the historic artifact The Dickson Experiment film itself, and the historic moment today is and will remain.

The Dickson Experiment Fun Facts

• Filmed in Thomas Edison’s Black Maria studio.

• Preserved in the Library of Congress Film archive in 200o

• George Lucas, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light and Magic, Walter Murch, and American Zoetrope all played a hand in its preservation.