Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Star Trek Franchise -- Movie or TV show - Which is best to tell Stories in the Existential Future?

Great Storytelling leads an audience to emotionally invest in the Narrative. The story being told can last 60 seconds... 120 minutes… or 1200 minutes.  
But to be successful, the Storyteller must tell his tale in a way that not only captures the audience’s attention, but keeps everyone engaged until the end of the story. 
In the modern world, it also helps if the story being told gets the audience to share their experience with others.  

Right now, the best Stories being told are on TV. 
It’s likely that this is also the medium where the best storytellers currently ply their trade.  
I’m excited to see the new Star Trek Beyond theatrical movie, but perhaps the most important development in the Star Trek franchise occurred in San Diego at Comic Con... which was all about the new Star Trek... TV Series.

Fans of the Franchise got a chance to hear from Bryan Fuller, the filmmaker who will have the burden of creating the new Star Trek TV series scheduled to debut on the new CBS streaming network in 2017.  I’m very optimistic that Fuller is the right man for the job. 
My optimism is largely based on the fact that he’s already faced the intimidation of making his creative mark in the shadow of another iconic Franchise – the series of books and movies based on the serial killing adventures of Hannibal Lector.   
Fuller was the creative brain that guided the innovative TV series “Hannibal” that aired on the NBC network  for three seasons. Fuller's effort on "Hannibal" ended up being both creatively daring and reverent, a yin and yang approach that any filmmaker must adhere to when dealing with a popular entertainment franchise.  

The big reveal coming out of San Diego is Fuller’s intention to break from the tradition of past Star Trek TV series –  

“It’s not going to be episodic. We’re going to be telling stories like a novel.” 
His vision to go deeper rather than episodic is probably one of the reasons he was chosen as the show runner. Deeper is better for modern audiences. Even with a series set in space. The second
incarnation of "Battlestar Gallatica" on Syfy proved this to be true. And there shouldn't be a rough transition for the hardcore fan base because the previous incarnations of Star Trek on TV always nibbled at the edges of continuity regarding the interactions of the main characters. Yes, Fuller totally looks like the smart choice as the next caretaker of the Franchise, the one bold enough to update the Star Trek storytelling to the 21st century. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Seeing the Future without 3-D Glasses

Years ago, just when 3-D films were taking off, there was an Industry Professional that wanted me to invest in the technology that retroactively converted Non-3-D shot films into movies that could be released theatrically as 3-D films. 
I ended up passing on the investment opportunity the Industry Professional offered. 
Now, in 2016, I can safely proclaim that my decision ended up being the right call.  
Let Jeffery Katzenberg  (in an article from Variety) explain why --

“It was a game-changing opportunity for the industry. When you gave them an exceptional film that artistically, creativity embraced and celebrated the uniqueness of that experience, people were happy to pay the premium,” he recalled with a note of sadness, citing “Avatar,” “Monsters vs. Aliens,” and “Life of Pi.” But other producers had “taken the low-road and gimmicked it. Instantly, we lost good will.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stream of Thought vs. Structure – How the Two Work Together when Professional Screenwriters Create

A filmmaker, George L. Heredia, posted on Facebook his technique for using index cards and a Large Board when he was writing his Screenplay.

I responded to his post, and one of the online responses to his post. I wanted to share his words and my words with those who are looking for Professional Screenwriting / Filmmaking guidance.

George L. Heredia: This is how I plot/outline my screenplays. 
We've heard of using 3x5 cards on a cork board (or software). Outlining software just doesn't work for me, I don't get to see the BIG picture and making changes is not always very visual. 

Instead I use a Magnetic white board so I can stick up cards and re-arrange, while giving me room to draw out character relationships and see how plots will work out. 

The top left card is beginning of Act 1, and the bottom right card is the finale. These are not scene cards but rather they are "sequences" which can be made up of 2-5 scenes. This way I am seeing the whole "film" idea from a high perspective allowing me the freedom to just sit and write. Knowing the sequences I can better write out all the scenes... for example, a sequence is two enemy agents are watching the hero from across the street and the hero needs to blow them up. That is about 6-7 scenes. You can already pretty much figure out what is going to happen, just write it as you see it.

John N Mare Washco: I'll bet you learned that back in the USMC. Let's move these troops here... then lets move those troops here. 

George L. Heredia: Yep I did a lot of that in S-2

Richard Finney: I'd like to build on what I believe is a key element to keep in mind when Outlining your Screenplay. 
Taking in the military reference above (from John Washco), I believe anyone who goes through the trouble of clearly laying out the "plan," (of the plot/story) before actually writing should also be doing it to gain another creative opportunity. 
The outline/plan should always end up being a strategy map that is fluid, a point in the creativity process that then is able to absorb what is actually happening on the ground (the day to day writing). 
I always strive to make my outline as detailed and as worked out as possible, but when moving forward in the process to the actual writing, I allow for the creative energy that could and hopefully does dictate changes in the story, or the previously created outline. Initially I use the posted, worked out plot as a way of boosting my confidence which will allow my creative mind to wander, to be cognizant of the opportunity to add additional creative elements to the work. There is a confidence of knowing that whatever happens as I wander off the path to entertain something new, I have a "compass" to steer me back in the right direction. 
Wandering off the planned path is a key to exploring and expanding your storytelling capabilities. What you discover when you are not a slave to your outline is often times the breakthroughs one makes when one creatively elevates their story.
Again, I want to reaffirm that the technique Mr. Heredia writes about is the same one I use (not software). What is important is loading up the outline with details prior to posting on the board the map of your story. And then with the plot in front of you, the goal should be to free yourself from the map you've created so you are able to be creative yet again during the writing process.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why "Game of Thones" May be the Most Important Show on TV / Doug Pratt REVIEW

The Emmy Nominations were announced yesterday (July 15). To no one’s surprise, GAME OF THRONES received the most of any other show - an astounding 23 Nominations! So its perfect
timing for this blog to feature another Excerpt from the July Issue of Doug Pratt's DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter -- his critical thoughts on GAME OF THONES The Complete Fifth Season .

The TV Academy got a lot of things right if we were to look at the three shows that received the most nominations. Besides GOT, "The People v. O.J. Simpson" received a total of 22 nods and the drama series "Fargo" received 18 noms. Personally, I would rank all three shows in my top 5 list of best TV shows of the year. 
However, it is GAME OF THRONES  that I believe is the most important show in this current Neo-Golden Age of TV. 
Here is a short list of why I believe this to be true – 

GAME OF THRONES has reached the peak of how TV Series often look as glossy as Theatrical films. The penultimate episode of the recently concluded Season Six had a battle sequence worthy of any similar sequence in a major motion picture, with a sizeable matching budget for the episode, and an elongated shooting schedule to achieve the epic quality of the production.  

- The popularity of GOT came after the DVD market had crashed. The show ended up building its audience after its premiere year by being a bridge between the DVD market and the long gestating Streaming technology. Viewers who caught up with the show after the first couple seasons either watched DVD/Blue-rays or saw the show as streaming video. I can even make the case the show (along with HBOgo/and Netflix) were significant factors that helped usher in the “cord cutting” movement that recently swept across the nation. 

- The unique subject matter of GOT – adult-medieval-fantasy-war-genre – ended up crossing over to a main-stream audience, revealing that TV was more than ever before appealing to a diverse and younger set of viewers.  

- The rather complicated storytelling of GOT is a huge reveal of how TV audiences have changed during this neo-golden age. The series features many, many characters; and multiple sub-plots that have tested the creativity of the show's filmmakers. And the main storyline of the show has featured plots which have shockingly killed major characters involved in the series. This is a trend in TV storytelling that GOT largely deserves credit for. Most of all, the complicated storytelling which elicits fan involvement is a significant shift in entertainment. GOT highlights the strengths of long form storytelling vs. the weaknesses of the two-hour screenplay format. 

As I said, this is a short list of why I believe GOT is, and will end up being, a truly significant TV show for the ages. But don’t take my word for it… Read Doug Pratt’s take on Season 5 and why he believes the series keeps on getting better and better.   

THRONES CONTINUES                             Doug Pratt

Having hit its stride, the HBO Home Entertainment release, GAME OF THONES The Complete Fifth Season (UPC#883929482030, $35), is as grand an escapist entertainment as all of the seasons have been, and is probably a little better than most of them.  There are fewer cul-de-sacs in the narrative, and rather than saving the action for just one of the final episodes, all three of the concluding episodes in the five-platter ten-episode set, originally broadcast in 2015, have spectacular battles and amazing effect sequences.  Yes, the filmmakers still don’t know what they are supposed to do with the ‘ghost dogs,’ a too-convenient deus ex machina, and the one time that one of them appears in this season is especially ridiculous, but that
is a very minor and fleeting glitch in what is otherwise absolutely transporting, adult entertainment.  Running 600 minutes, the season can easily be watched in a day and that is pretty much the best way to watch it, to keep track of the multiple storylines that sometimes don’t make it into one episode or another.  
The story is a mix of chamber dramas and road dramas, which then culminate in action conflicts.  To identify the individual plotlines seems unnecessary—some of the characters go to new places while others are trapped where they have been in the past— but it is worth noting that one of those two utterly transfixing final action sequences involves dragons, and another involves a zombie battle.  Fewer major characters die than usual, but a couple of longtime secondary characters are gone for good.  

Filled with nudity, licentious behavior, violence and gore, along with meditations on leadership, survival, negotiation and other life skills, the show is a fairy tale for grownups in the very best sense, and becomes more unique and more important as a work of pantheon cinema with every advancing season.

Each platter has a ‘Play All’ option.  The picture is letterboxed with an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  The image transfer is sharp and darker sequences are clear.  
The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has a strong dimensionality, a good punch and periodic directional effects.  There is an alternate French track in 5.1 Dolby, a Spanish track in standard stereo, and optional English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Thai subtitles.  Along with 57 minutes of really good production featurettes and 8 minutes of dialog-heavy deleted scenes that were wisely trimmed but are worth having, there is terrific 40-minute segment that includes interviews with author George R. R. Martin and others about the genuine historical events—most specifically, Britain’s ‘War of the Roses’—that Martin 
sort of swirled around and jumbled about to put together his tale.
Additionally, twelve commentary tracks are spread across nine of the episodes.  The two on the first platter are a waste of time, since they feature mostly cast members who are trying way too hard to be carefree.  The rest of the talks, however, featuring other members of the cast and the crew, are very rewarding, sharing many details and production insights.  A cinematographer, for example, explains that while they do attempt to be original with each lighting situation, sometimes when things are rushed, they fall back on what they’ve done before.  For the costumes, texture is as important as color,
especially since different locations are shot with different color styles, some of which are highly monochromatic.  “I think desaturation is perfect when it works where it should.  I sometimes really struggle when places I’ve actually put in an enormous amount of thought to color, which is not on this, is then, people sometimes desaturate.  It’s like, ‘God, I worked hard to make the colors perfect, and you just sucked it all out.’  It’s so frustrating, whereas here, it’s so perfect.”
Sometimes, the talk turns to the story.  “We always kind of envisioned [Fourth Season] is kind of the halfway point, and now a lot of the storylines in [Fifth Season] are disparate characters meeting for the first time or being thrown together.  We’re bringing everything back home.”   Other times, it is about the unexpected requirements that the prop crew has to fulfill.  For a scene where an actress has to lick water off a floor, that section of the floor had to be, well, clean enough to lick.  They also talk about the special effects and the stunts (“It always makes you a little nervous when you’re shooting this kind of thing, because someone is really being lit on fire.  After we did the stunt, I went up to the stuntman and I was concerned for his well being, of course, and I asked him how he was doing, and he was like, ‘Do you need to go again?’  And I was like, ‘No, actually, it was great.  It was fantastic.’  You know, he performed really well.  And he said, ‘Because I’m fine to go again if you want.’  And I was like, ‘Really, we don’t need to go again,’ and then I found out subsequently that they get paid for every time they get lit on fire.”) and the controversies that have accompanied the broadcasts.  
In regard to the wedding night ‘rape’ scene: “It’s an upsetting scene, it’s a horrifying scene.  I guess where I took issue with some of the criticism was the idea that people criticizing were in our heads as to our motives.  Our motives were about telling a powerful story.”
But mostly, the talks are rewarding because of the detail and insight they provide, such as the description of the staging of the arena sequence that served as the grand finale for the ninth episode.  “Every spare moment in, you know, airports, airplanes, non-shooting days, [we] were huddled, going over and over and over and over the order that we were going to do this, and we ended up with, basically, a small phonebook. Everybody was issued one, and you know, we had to shoot a lot of it, quite a bit of it, out of order, and some of it was, you know, actor-logistic driven and so forth, but [the production team] was also indulging my need to try and keep as much of it back lit as we could, because if you do that, then you’re not having to bring in time-consuming equipment to control the sun, to make the actors look good, and you can make a great looking picture rather quickly.  I think it actually worked extremely well, and it was a circular set.  We got the Art Department to make all the entrances more or less the same so that we could clock the action with the sun as the day went on, so we could keep it feeling consistent, and also quite attractive, because, the truth is, to do that volume of work that we had to do, in such a short time, we didn’t have time to even, you know, deal with a flare in the lens, so I removed the usual diffusion filters that we use, because if we even had to fiddle around with the camera for a minute, six or seven times a day, that was potentially a shot we weren’t going to get at the other end of the day when that shadow started to creep across the floor as the sun set down behind the edge of the arena.  
We did use big lighting tools to create some shadow and some modeling on the actors’ faces, because each setup was potentially going to take, in the big scheme, only 5 minutes each, but over the course of the day, you know, if you did ten of them, that was an hour out of the day that could have been done doing shots, so I think what really worked for us was to clock the action and to shoot the action in an order where the natural light could do all the work for us.  Here’s a case where you’re doing a scene that takes place over 10 minutes, but you’re shooting all day long for 10 days, and keeping something the perfect continuity of lighting is next to impossible, so by being able to clock the action with the sun, it’s possible we were able to make it feel very consistent and like it was something that actually did take place in real time over 10 minutes, so you didn’t get thrown out of the story.”

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Difference between Watching and Creating...

UPDATE: Today I read (on Medium) a really great piece on the subject of writing -- 7 differences between professional and amateurs written by Jeff Goins. His list has insightful info regarding the topic of creativity I was attempting to explore with this post.

I also have the link to the piece written by Goins listed on my blog sidebar - RECENT POSTS THAT I READ YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING

I'm really looking forward to watching the new series "The Night Of..." premiering on HBO this Sunday. 
I'm also using the premiere of the series as an opportunity to write about — the difference between the way a fan of good TV/Film thinks, and the way a professional Screenwriter / Filmmaker thinks when watching the same Show/Movie.  

The Evolution from being a Fan of Entertainment to becoming a Professional is a tricky and complicated process. It’s a journey filled with numerous obstacles, so many, that most people who really love movies and TV, end up never becoming a professional who creates entertainment. There are logical reasons behind this fact, some are obvious, but the critical ones are more complicated. One of the complicated ones is how a person ends up viewing entertainment -- the mindset of one who enjoys is profoundly different than the one who creates.  

One of the projects I'm working on is a Film Noir thriller. And in reading the review of "The Night Of" recently posted in Variety, I naturally began marking it up with notes. Making notes in the margins is often what I do out of habit, usually a warm up before I work on creating later. 
I now share with you two of several notes I wrote while reading the review. 

The Variety Review of "The Night of" is on the Left.
My Margin Comments are on the Right.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The answer to a Quora question about Pitching your idea to a big Filmmaker...

I'm asked this question a lot -- How do you get to a director to pitch your "idea" for a movie. 

I'm happy to share Ken Miyamoto's response on Quora that answers the general question of pitching a big time Filmmaker.

Question: I have an idea for a movie to be made by Christopher Nolan, like Inception. How can I contact Nolan or other directors of his caliber?

Ken Miyamoto, Produced screenwriter, former Sony Pictures script reader/story analyst, 

"How can I contact Nolan or other directors of his caliber?"

ANSWER: You can't.  You're not an established screenwriter and beyond that, Christopher Nolan and other directors of his caliber have a belly of projects and concepts on their own to choose from.  Their slates are full for the next decade plus.  

Movie ideas aren't enough anyway.  EVERYONE has a great idea.  It doesn't matter because it's the implementation that counts.  You can't even lay claim or copyright an idea or concept.  Why?  Well, because it's likely that a dozen others have had that same idea in what shape or form or will so in the future.  

It's the implementation (script or film) that matters.  

Beyond that, yes, you need to be established.  WELL established to even have the chance of getting your script connected with a studio caliber director.  I've been in the business for nearing 20 years with some varied success and it's proven to be VERY difficult to pitch my spec scripts to powers that be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016



Hollywood has made it difficult in the past for artists to break into the bubble. The invent and accessibility of good affordable cameras, gear and online classes has paved the way for a new wave of mavericks. 

Truth be told, these mavericks do not need Hollywood. Hollywood needs them -- but they're going to have to take a chance. Since it all starts w the script Hollywood needs to find fresh global voices -- voices that are outside the bubble. Voices that can bring fresh stories instead of revamped remakes and blockbuster formulas that don't always work. 

- Deb Havener is a Producer/Writer at Pretty Eggs Productions

Theatres in LA aren't posting what films are even playing on their signs or show times--giving up on casual movie goers as an audience. Stand alone art house theatres are virtually gone. 

- Jay Woelfel is Mangaging Member at Season of Darkness, LLC

Make new, original movies. Make movies for the world, not America. Make movies that have substance, like anime. Make movies that expose truth. Make movies that show how to create a new system. 

- Sean Browne is a Filmmaker at Atoms Movie, LLC 

I agree most of the interesting storytelling - and storytellers - have moved into TV. 
I'm not sure how to resurrect the "theatrical, David Lean" type production. (It's just so expensive to do a wide release now that the project has to be bland and bullet-proof.) 

- Michael Rogan is a Screenwriting Instructor, Screenplay Reader, and Author

Sunday, July 3, 2016

An Undiscovered Treasure - The Horror Film: The VVitch

There are only so many hours in the day. 
Over the years, reviewers of film working for major newspapers or magazines have either lost their jobs or have lost their influence on the audiences they once influenced. And yet, Book reviewers still have power over their readers when they cover the publication of a new book. 

It has something to do with the time one spends in choosing to read a book, rather than watch a movie or a TV show. Reading a 400-800 page book takes time, and this investment usually means that a reader is more open to taking in advice about how they should spend that time. 
We know this to be a factor by also comparing the value of Book reviewers with reviewers of Pop Music. Those who write their opinions about a song/singer pretty much have no sway/say over what your average person will end up enjoying. The investment of time by the audience spent listening to a song is
about four minutes. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to advise the audience for pop music and have that opinion taken seriously. People know what they like when they hear a song and usually only other members of their peer group will change their mind. 

There are other variables that impact the sway factor of a reviewer. An important one is the actual cost the audience must pay for their leisure activity. A major reason critics reviewing Broadway plays still have the power of influence is due to the high financial investment ($100 or more per ticket) one must make when choosing to see a play. 
However, the reason I believe critics (not reviewers) who write about movies/TV/media thoughtfully and insightfully still matter now (and will for years to come) is for an altogether different reason — There are only so many hours in the day.  As time becomes more and more precious in a person's life, spending it wisely becomes an essential issue as well. 

This is why Doug Pratt's DVD Laser Disc Newsletter is
essential reading. His July issue covers more than two dozen home video titles. He not only provides some keen insight on why certain titles are worth taking the time to watch, but his thoughts span a wide variety of home entertainment choices. Let me illustrate my point by highlighting a handful of quotes from his reviews (good and bad) on projects that run across the entertainment sprectrum -- a studio film; an indie movie; two different documentaries; and a video capturing the staging of a musical production at the Royal Albert Hall --  

"The images are so overloaded and cluttered that the film actually deadens your sense of imagination, rather than delivering just enough glimpses to inspire it.  Additionally, since most of the movie is being shot on a bare soundstage with blue screens, there is a subliminal sense that the space the characters are in is actually cramped, even though the feature is supposed to have an epic scope." 

"(The Movie) is filled with subtle moments where just a flicker in the eyes of one of the actors delivers paragraphs of what his character really thinks about
the other.  Maybe if you’re not quite as obsessed with writing as we happen to be, the film won’t seem quite as profound, but it is still an engaging, Amadeus-like tale about the specific nature of American genius." 
"It is true that the Syfy Channel makes more money doing movies about sharks swirling around in the sky, but this ought to be their real mission, to take intriguing science-fiction works that realistically cannot be marketed for the big screen and interpret them as accurately as entertainingly possible on film."  

"The post-War period was a time of fear and paranoia. Audiences responded to films noir because of their dark themes and foreboding atmospheres, a mood that was being reinforced in the media with stories of traitors and imminent atomic destruction, but the artists who created them were responding to the corruption of power and their own victimization, expressing through the movies the force of evil that was using them to whip up a frenzy of fear and hatred.  This seems to happen periodically."

"The reason it deserved the win ( the 2015 Oscar for "Best Documenary") is the same reason that local newspapers reporting on local events that also shake the rest of the world sometimes win the Pulitzer Prize. Poitras was in the right place at the right time, although she was there entirely because of who she was and what she had been doing before."  

"The orchestra and a well-sized chorus are on the stage, and the principle cast members act out the show in the small area in front, a raised area behind, and the aisles between the instruments.  There are also dancers, a large Jumbotron screen that accentuates points in the narrative, and, in one passage, indoor fireworks. It is quite a show." 

This month's Exclusive Excerpt is about a horror movie that somehow slipped underneath my radar during its theatrical release. If not for Mr. Pratt's intervention, I'm pretty sure I would have missed seeing THE VVITCH for years, rather than seeking it out seconds after reading his words.  This is what a great film critic can do when they possess supernatural powers of persuasion. 

  America’s beginnings                      Doug Pratt

An outstanding depiction of America’s beginnings—including an eternal fear of what is not understood—THE VVITCH, has been released by Lionsgate on DVD (UPC#031398227809, $20) and on Blu-ray (UPC#0313-98227861, $25).  Depicting a pioneer Puritan family trying to scratch out a farm in the New England wilderness during the first half of the Seventeenth Century, the 2015 film meticulously reconstructs the speech (some viewers may find
the optional English subtitles come in very handy), the manners, the beliefs, the fashions, the tools, and the day-to-day life of the era, and then spices the whole thing up with a touch of supernatural horror.  Running 92 minutes, the film also examines the dysfunction and breakdown of a family suffering from stress, the result being that while the characters are wearing different clothes and saying funny words, their emotional conflicts are as recognizable and universal as those in one’s own home.  
The natural eroticism that comes from interactions in a cramped living environment is also conveyed.  Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie star, with Anya Taylor-Joy.  The family is ostracized from their community because of differences in how they conduct their beliefs, so they attempt to set up a life for themselves farther out of town.  Once they are settled, something bad happens, and an entity is lurking in the woods beyond their fields.  
There are several good jump scares, sometimes caused simply by a character pulling
an arm into the frame, and the final act builds to a celebratory wickedness that could have come out of Nathaniel Hawthorne or any number of early American folktales, or even the news of the day, which was often heavily apocryphal.  In any case, it is wild enough to make you forget how gratifyingly educational the movie really is, so that its historical lessons can be absorbed by the subconscious, while the conscious is being distracted by the fantasy.  Or, it is a genuine depiction of how America got started, which would explain quite a bit of what you see in today’s headlines.

The presentation is letterboxed with an aspect ratio of about 1.66:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  The cinematography is lovely and the transfer is exquisite, despite the many sequences of limited lighting.  The Blu-ray’s DTS sound is super, with many directional effects and a real decent kick, but even the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound on the DVD has some engaging separations and a strong, enveloping presence.  Both versions have the same special features.  In addition to the English subtitling, there are optional Spanish subtitles, a
terrific still frame collection of design drawings (every one of them seems like they could be hanging on a wall in a New England guest room today) and production photos, a superb for its length 8-minute promotional featurette that really gets to the heart of the film’s many thematic and production dynamics, and a super 28-minute interview with Taylor-Joy, director Robert Eggers and two Salem historians, in front of a live audience, talking about the film’s realism, working with the cast, and the film’s interpretation of witchery.  At one point, Eggers contemplates how much the film can relate to contemporary American society.  “I like archetypal storytelling, and archetypes constantly reconstellate themselves, so therefore it is timeless.  I also, like, didn’t necessarily set out to make a feminist film when I was dug into this, but, like, just feminism is just bursting out of the pages of history, so therefore it’s like bursting off the screen.”
Eggers also supplies a marvelous commentary track, talking about his staging of the production, but also about what life was like in the world he is exploring.  He is painfully aware of every flaw in the film, but shares them eagerly, whether it is a bland camera angle because there was not enough time to get
a better one, or a cinematic compromise on the movie’s historical integrity—the family, for example, could never have afforded to use as many candles as they use in the evening so that the camera can see what they are doing (he also reveals a longstanding movie trick—the candles have multiple wicks); it bothers him as well that they had to use professionally chopped wood in a stack because they needed more than they had at the last minute.  Eggers also learned about history himself by making the film.  “The goat shed is thatched, like all the other buildings, and Plymouth Plantation, where we did a lot of research, when I was a kid, they had thatched goat sheds, and now they have clapboard roofs on the goat shed, and I wondered why the change, but during the course of the shoot, the goats kept eating all of the thatch off the roof.  So that is why you don’t have a thatch roof on your goat shed.”