Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project — Movies

April 23rd, 2012 by

In order to be a good screenwriter, you have to do more than learn about screenwriting. Indeed you must immerse yourself in the world of cinema. There are several reasons for this:

* It is important to know at least something of the history of filmmaking in order to have a context in which you can write our own stories.

* You gain inspiration from seeing, studying, and analyzing movies and screenplays.

* Every time you see a movie, analyze a screenplay, read a book about film, you learn something about the craft.

* There is a Gestalt understanding of the screenwriting craft you gain from our lifetime experience of cinema.

* If you expect to work in Hollywood, it’s critical you have a broad exposure to movies in order to be able to traffic in the countless film references people in the industry use every day.

I’m sure you can add other reasons to this list. Suffice to say to have any realistic chance of becoming a working screenwriter, you need to immerse yourself in the world of movies.

And so this: “Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project.” Consider this a very poor man’s / woman’s version of film school, cobbling together titles, links, and resources you can use to go into the movies. There are five subject areas:

* Movies

* Scripts and Screenwriting

* Film Analysis and Criticism

* Filmmakers

* The Evolution of Filmmaking

The concept is this: I will create a post each day this week for each subject area. Included in each post is a list of resources. You may add suggestions in comments. I will update the original post as need be. Then I will create a link under List for Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project where you can access these five pages. Occasionally I will re-post them for additional suggestions and update the lists.

No, this is not the equivalent of an MFA from NYU or USC. But it reflects what I believe to be true as articulated in this mantra:

Read scripts.
Watch movies.
Write pages.

If you do that, if you immerse yourself in the world of movies and practice the craft of writing on a daily basis, you will exponentially increase your chances of success as a screenwriter.

For Subject Area I: Movies, see you below the fold!

SUBJECT AREA I: MOVIES

The AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies list

1998 List

1. Citizen Kane 1941
2. Casablanca 1942
3. The Godfather 1972
4. Gone with the Wind 1939
5. Lawrence of Arabia 1962
6. The Wizard of Oz 1939
7. The Graduate 1967
8. On the Waterfront 1954
9. Schindler’s List 1993
10. Singin’ in the Rain 1952
11. It’s a Wonderful Life 1946
12. Sunset Blvd. 1950
13. The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
14. Some Like It Hot 1959
15. Star Wars 1977
16. All About Eve 1950
17. The African Queen 1951
18. Psycho 1960
19. Chinatown 1974
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975
21. The Grapes of Wrath 1940
22. 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
23. The Maltese Falcon 1941
24. Raging Bull 1980
25. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
26. Dr. Strangelove 1964
27. Bonnie and Clyde 1967
28. Apocalypse Now 1979
29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939
30. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948
31. Annie Hall 1977
32. The Godfather Part II 1974
33. High Noon 1952
34. To Kill a Mockingbird 1962
35. It Happened One Night 1934
36. Midnight Cowboy 1969
37. The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
38. Double Indemnity 1944
39. Doctor Zhivago 1965
40. North by Northwest 1959
41. West Side Story 1961
42. Rear Window 1954
43. King Kong 1933
44. The Birth of a Nation 1915
45. A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
46. A Clockwork Orange 1971
47. Taxi Driver 1976
48. Jaws 1975
49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937
50. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
51. The Philadelphia Story 1940
52. From Here to Eternity 1953
53. Amadeus 1984
54. All Quiet on the Western Front 1930
55. The Sound of Music 1965
56. MASH 1970
57. The Third Man 1949
58. Fantasia 1940
59. Rebel Without a Cause 1955
60. Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981
61. Vertigo 1958
62. Tootsie 1982
63. Stagecoach 1939
64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
65. The Silence of the Lambs 1991
66. Network 1976
67. The Manchurian Candidate 1962
68. An American in Paris 1951
69. Shane 1953
70. The French Connection 1971
71. Forrest Gump 1994
72. Ben-Hur 1959
73. Wuthering Heights 1939
74. The Gold Rush 1925
75. Dances with Wolves 1990
76. City Lights 1931
77. American Graffiti 1973
78. Rocky 1976
79. The Deer Hunter 1978
80. The Wild Bunch 1969
81. Modern Times 1936
82. Giant 1956
83. Platoon 1986
84. Fargo 1996
85. Duck Soup 1933
86. Mutiny on the Bounty 1935
87. Frankenstein 1931
88. Easy Rider 1969
89. Patton 1970
90. The Jazz Singer 1927
91. My Fair Lady 1964
92. A Place in the Sun 1951
93. The Apartment 1960
94. Goodfellas 1990
95. Pulp Fiction 1994
96. The Searchers 1956
97. Bringing Up Baby 1938
98. Unforgiven 1992
99. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 1967
100. Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942

2007 List comparison

The AFI removed twenty-three films from the original top 100 films list when they cut 20% of the original nomination list (80 from 400):

Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Amadeus (1984)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The Third Man (1949)
Fantasia (1940)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Stagecoach (1939)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
An American in Paris (1951)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Giant (1956)
Fargo (1996)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Frankenstein (1931)
Patton (1970)
The Jazz Singer (1927)
My Fair Lady (1964)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Four films released between 1996–2006 were added:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Titanic (1997)
The Sixth Sense (1999)

Nineteen films made between 1916–1995 were also added:

The General (1926)
Intolerance (1916)
Nashville (1975)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Cabaret (1972)
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
All the President’s Men (1976)
Spartacus (1960)
Sunrise (1927)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Swing Time (1936)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Blade Runner (1982)
Toy Story (1995)

The IMDB Top 250 movie list

As voted on by IMDB users, here are the top 25:

1. 9.2 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 592,957
2. 9.2 The Godfather (1972) 458,660
3. 9.0 The Godfather: Part II (1974) 280,109
4. 8.9 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 187,449
5. 8.9 Pulp Fiction (1994) 471,257
6. 8.9 Schindler’s List (1993) 313,501
7. 8.9 12 Angry Men (1957) 141,389
8. 8.8 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) 245,273
9. 8.8 Inception (2010) 349,203
10. 8.8 The Dark Knight (2008) 529,719
11. 8.8 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 309,574
12. 8.8 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 411,055
13. 8.8 Seven Samurai (1954) 108,543
14. 8.8 Fight Club (1999) 438,090
15. 8.7 Goodfellas (1990) 260,100
16. 8.7 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) 353,179
17. 8.7 Casablanca (1942) 184,692
18. 8.7 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 433,737
19. 8.7 City of God (2002) 191,995
20. 8.7 Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) 86,116
21. 8.7 Rear Window (1954) 133,322
22. 8.7 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 268,914
23. 8.7 The Matrix (1999) 430,393
24. 8.7 Psycho (1960) 162,445
25. 8.7 The Usual Suspects (1995) 296,705

The first thing you should do is go through these lists and check the ones you have seen. The ones you don’t check, watch them – and mark them off one by one.

We are talking perhaps 300 movies between the three lists. Figuring 2 hours per movie, that comes out to 600 hours or the equivalent of 25 days. If the average lifespan is 80 years or 29,200 days. To spend 25 days of your life watching these 300 movies equals 0.00085616 percent of your time on this Earth, way less than 1%.

Surely if you are serious about immersing yourself in movies and learning the craft of screenwriting, you have the time to watch these 300 movies, right?

Of course there are tens of thousands of other movies and you can learn something for every single film you see, even the bad ones. To facilitate your movie viewing process, here are some online movie sites, several of them free:

Classic Cinema Online

Europa Film Treasures

Free Movies Cinema

Indie Movies Online

Internet Archive: Feature Films

QuickSilverScreen

World Cinema Foundation

Xfinity TV

If you have any recommendations or suggestions for additional resources to help people watch movies, please post in comments, and I will add to the OP as warranted.

Tomorrow: Scripts and Screenplays.

[Originally posted May 16, 2011]

3 thoughts on “Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project — Movies

  1. BillieJeanVK says:

    Haven’t seen 24 of these. That’s not too bad. Don’t know if I could ever watch The Deer Hunter. Platton messed me up too much.

  2. Haven’t watched 28 of all the movies listed in here and i must admit that these lists are the first step into growing interest for movies. If there’s one list i’d recommend as the most complete of them all (there’s always something missing) is the village voice list, which you may find here:

    http://www.filmsite.org/villvoice.html

  3. [...] Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project – Movies (gointothestory.blcklst.com) [...]

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