Interested in Joining JuiceMedia?

If you are a high school student interested in filmmaking, you should sign up for JuiceMedia!

Throughout the semester, students have the opportunity to create two solo film projects in whatever style or genre they choose. In the past, students have created narrative, documentary, experimental, poetic, animated films, and more. To see examples of some of these films, visit JuiceMedia’s Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/groups/juicemedia. JuiceMedia students often enter their films in both local and national film festivals and many of them have gone on to film school or careers in the film industry.

On top of their main projects, JuiceMedia students also participate in workshops, games, mini group projects, and visiting artist talks. Since the program is currently online, we’re able to bring visiting artists in from all over the country! Last semester, we had artists visit from Los Angeles and New York on top of local filmmakers from the Twin Cities and the greater Minnesota area.

Students also connect outside of our normal JuiceMedia meetings through weekly film watch parties and open labs (or TeaTimes). TeaTimes happen twice weekly and allow students to receive feedback or extra work time on projects, but also time to discuss and analyze films and the film world.

Applications for our Spring 2021 session are now CLOSED, however check back in early September for our Fall 2021 JuiceMedia program!

If you can’t wait that long, check out our FilmNorth summer camps: https://myfilmnorth.org/youth-programs/youth-camps/

Questions about JuiceMedia or other FilmNorth youth programs? Email the FilmNorth Youth Programs Instructor, Cait McCluskie, at cmccluskie@myfilmnorth.org or call 651.644.1912 (ext. 7)

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Cait’s Top 10 List

This month we’ll be featuring Top 10 Movie Lists from our interns and instructors! Our third list comes from our instructor, Cait (in no particular order):

The Gleaners & I Agnes Varda, 2000

Reason: This film examines life, aging, and class with a playful and light-hearted perspective while never taking away the weight of these subjects. Agnes Varda is a joy to watch on screen and changes what it means to be a documentarian.

Description: Varda films and interviews gleaners in France in all forms, from those picking fields after the harvest to those scouring the dumpsters of Paris.

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Suspiria Dario Argento, 1976

Reason: This is one of the most sensory films I have ever experienced with an incredibly striking score and visual landscape. It will redefine your concept of what horror films can be.

Description: An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.

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L’Avventura Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960

Reason: I’m a big fan of how unfocused this film is (in a good way!). It starts as a mystery, but quickly devolves into a wander through the Italian countryside – it’s very meditative and very beautiful.

Description: A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip. During the search, her lover and her best friend become attracted to each other.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014

Reason: This film is GORGEOUS. The cinematography is breathtaking, the pacing/editing is enthralling, and it’s cool to see an entire new take on the vampire film. Plus filmmakers need to use black and white more often.

Description: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

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Zerograd Karen Shakhnazarov, 1989

Reason: This film is absolutely bizarre, but totally enthralling. I’ve seen a couple of Shakhnazarov’s films now, and while this is the best one, I think his entire body of work is under appreciated.

Description: An engineer in charge of the production line of a factory in Moscow is sent to a small town to try to specify the distributor the new dimensions of a mechanic part they need. But in this town everybody seems to be crazy (a secretary who works naked, a group of people take the engineer as a rock & roll player, etc) and, in addition, this man is witness of a suicide, so he is trapped inside the town.

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The Sound of Music Robert Wise, 1965

Reason: I’m a sucker for movie musicals and I’m a BIG sucker for Julie Andrews so this is a perfect film to have on this list. Plus it was one of my favorite movies as a kid so it’s got the nostalgia factor.

Description: A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

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The Secret in Their Eyes Juan José Campanella, 2009

Reason: If you’re a David Fincher fan, you will undoubtedly enjoy this Argentine film. It combines mystery, drama, and memory into one dark masterpiece.

Description: A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior – both of which still haunt him decades later.

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Free Solo Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2018

Reason: This film got me into a number of nature, adventure, and climbing documentaries, but this one is still my favorite. Even though you know that Alex Honnold survives, this film will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

Description: Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.

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Goodfellas Martin Scorcese, 1990

Reason: I’m pretty sure this is the movie that made me decide to go into Film Studies. It has an impeccable script, fascinating editing, and Joe Pesci. What else can you ask for?

Description: The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga David Dobkin, 2020

Reason: I could watch this movie on repeat forever. Very few things make me happier.

Description: When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.

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Blongsha’s Top 10 Movie List

This month we are featuring Top 10 Movie Lists from our interns and instructors! Our second list comes from our intern, Blongsha (in no particular order).

Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
(original title)
Giuseppe Tornatore

Countries: ITA | FRA
Languages: Italian | English | Portuguese | Sicilian
R | 2h 35min | Drama

Synopsis
A filmmaker recalls his friendship with the home village cinema projectionist and how his love for cinema.

Image Description
Above the movie screen is the movie theatre’s name, Cinema Paradiso. On the movie screen, an audience is watching a movie that shows a young woman and a young man kissing in the rain. A young boy gleefully smiling and an older man are above the movie screen with stars in the background.


Princess Mononoke (1997)
もののけ姫
| Mononoke-hime (original title)
Hayao Miyazaki

Country: JAP
Language: Japanese
PG-13 | 2h 14 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

Synopsis
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatrigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Image Description
A young teenager wears a light blue top with a darker blue arm sleeve underneath. He is also wearing a bow case bag with arrows. On his left cheek below his eye, there is a scar. He defends himself with a sword from someone who is out of the image/poster. There is a group of Kodama, a Japanese folklore spirits that inhabit trees, in front of a village.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Denis Villeneuve

Country: USA
Language: English
R | 2h 44min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis
Young Blade Runner K’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former Blade Runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years
.

Image Description
Four characters are in the top/middle of the image/poster: Two men have a gun-a young man (on the left) is wearing a trench coat, and an older man (on the right) is wearing a t-shirt; A woman has her hair in a ponytail; Another man is wearing a kimono. Beneath them is the dystopian, punk futuristic cities. Two futuristic digital-out-of-home (DOOH) screens are on the side of the four characters. Aan orange-colored on the left and blue-colored on the right.

Blind Chance (1987)
Przypadek
(original title)
Krzysztof Kielślowski

Country: POL
Language: Polish
NR | 1h 54min | Drama

Synopsis
Witek runs after a train. Three variations follow on how such a seemingly banal incident could influence the rest of Witek’s life.

Image Description
An illustration of a person, in gray clothing, has a die as their head. They are holding a bigger die against their chest. On the opposite side of the die, it is open.

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
ワンダフルライフ (original title)
Ang Lee

Countries: TWN | USA
Language: Mandarin Chinese
NR | 2h 4min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Synopsis
A senior chef lives with his three grown daughters; the middle one finds her future plans affected by unexpected events and the life changes of the other household members.

Image Description
Three various age Asian women with long black hair are wearing white (semi-)formal clothes. There is colorful food in a traditional Taiwanese bowl.

Give Me Liberty (2019)
Kirill Mikhanovsky

Country: USA
Languages: English | Russian
NR | 1h 50min | Comedy, Drama

Synopsis
In this freewheeling comedy, medical transport driver Vic risks his job to shuttle a group of rowdy seniors and a Russian boxer to a funeral, dragging clients like Tracy, a young woman with ALS, along for the ride.

Image Description
Two men, one of them in a gray jack is slouching while the other is sitting upright wears a reflective vest over his black jacket and gray sweater, are smoking on a vintage orange, brown, green, and white floral print couch. Next to them is a young brown woman in a wheelchair. She wearings a fur dark green coat with a red sweater underneath, blue jeans, long white socks, and black shoes. Behind the couch are four elderly people standing in front of a white van and a “Do Not Enter” sign.

After Life (1998)
ワンダフルライフ | Wandafuru raifu
(original title)
Hirokazu Koreeda

Country: JAP
Language: Japanese
R | 1h 59min | Drama, Fantasy

Synopsis
After death, people have a week to choose only one memory to keep for eternity.

Image Description
Two people with short black hair are wearing black clothes. A blue/purple cloud-like sky is projected in the background.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jonathan Demme

Country: USA
Language: English
R | 1h 58min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Synopsis
A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Image Description
In a black and white washed-out image/poster, a woman’s eyes are brown and a colored moth covering her mouth. The moth has a death skull on its upper abdominal, and its lower abdominal is gold and black. Its upper wings are in a fall-like color scheme: gold, brown, and black; while its lower wings are in a washed-out yellow and brown-ish/black.

PlayTime (1967)
Jacques Tati

Countries: France | Italy
Language: French | German | English
NR | 2h 35min | Comedy

Synopsis
Monsieur Hulot curiously wanders around a high-tech Paris, paralleling a trip with a group of American tourists. Meanwhile, a nightclub/restaurant prepares its opening night, but it’s still under construction.

Image Description
An abstract illustration of a modern building has colorful squares and people inside/outside of the building. The word “play” is in black and “time” is in red.


Up Series (1964-Present)
Paul Almond (Seven Up!) and Michael Apted (all subsequent films)

Countries: UK | BUL | FRA | AUS | USA
Language: English
NR | 40-145 mins | Documentary, Biography

Up Series:
Seven Up! (1964)
7 Plus Seven (1970)
21 Up (1977)
28 Up (1984)
35 Up (1991)
42 Up (1998)
49 Up (2005)
56 Up (2012)
63 Up (2019)

Synopsis
This TV documentary movie series follows a group of seven-year-old British children from widely ranging backgrounds into their adult lives. The Jesuit motto: “Give me a child until [they are] seven and I will give you the [person].”

Image Description
Various colored and white and black photos are laid out depicting moments of the group from the age of seven years-old to sixty-three years-old in the Up series.

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Wyatt’s Top 10 List

This month we’ll be featuring Top 10 Movie Lists from our interns and instructors! Our first list comes from our intern, Wyatt (in no particular order).

2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick, 1968

Reason: highly influential on how to reinvent a film’s production quality

Description: An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. When Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behavior, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.

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Planet of the Apes Franklin J Schaffner, 1968

Reason: shows how to creatively construct a narrative that is not only reflexive on human nature, but also a public warning to what could happen

Description: Complex sociological themes run through this science-fiction classic about three astronauts marooned on a futuristic planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. The stunned trio discovers that these highly intellectual simians can both walk upright and talk. They have even established a class system and a political structure. The astronauts suddenly find themselves part of a devalued species, trapped and imprisoned by the apes.

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Do the Right Thing Spike Lee, 1989

Reason: carefully built complex story that illustrates race relations in the US while lending its audience different meanings every time they watch

Description: Salvatore “Sal” Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito), becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria’s Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin’ Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin’ Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.

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Boyhood Richard Linklater, 2014

Reason: a new way to show development of a character by utilizing real time to advance the plot

Description: The joys and pitfalls of growing up are seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), his parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke) and his sister (Lorelei Linklater). Vignettes, filmed with the same cast over the course of 12 years, capture family meals, road trips, birthday parties, graduations and other important milestones. Songs from Coldplay, Arcade Fire and other artists capture the time period. Directed by Richard Linklater.

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Seven Samurai Akira Kurosawa, 1954

Reason: highly influential film that inspired various films from spaghetti westerns to Star Wars

Description: A samurai answers a village’s request for protection after he falls on hard times. The town needs protection from bandits, so the samurai gathers six others to help him teach the people how to defend themselves, and the villagers provide the soldiers with food. A giant battle occurs when 40 bandits attack the village.

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Groundhog Day Harold Ramis, 1993

Reason: shows how accurate the repetitive nature of adulthood is, and how to get yourself out of it

Description: A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. His predicament drives him to distraction, until he sees a way of turning the situation to his advantage.

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The Shawshank Redemption Frank Darabont, 1994

Reason: such a beautiful formation of a friendship, it’s guaranteed to make you cry

Description: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.

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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope George Lucas, 1977

Reason: C’mon, it’s Star Wars.

Description: The Imperial Forces — under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) — hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.

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The Seventh Seal Ingmar Bergman, 1957

Reason: beautifully show imagery along with plot based allegories that lead you to question life and death

Description: When disillusioned Swedish knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) returns home from the Crusades to find his country in the grips of the Black Death, he challenges Death (Bengt Ekerot) to a chess match for his life. Tormented by the belief that God does not exist, Block sets off on a journey, meeting up with traveling players Jof (Nils Poppe) and his wife, Mia (Bibi Andersson), and becoming determined to evade Death long enough to commit one redemptive act while he still lives.

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The Room Tommy Wiseau, 2003

Reason: shows how even the worst of movies can be the best

Description:  Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored of him and decides to seduce Johnny’s best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.

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Heads Off to You

Happy Halloween from JuiceMedia! This year, we made 15 second horror super shorts during our JuiceMedia session (you can watch those here: https://vimeo.com/475222048). One of our students, Ryan, decided to write a scary short story instead!

Content Warning: Sword Violence (decapitations)

On the night of Halloween in the woods of England 1776, horseman Robert Jackson and
his friend Albert Marshall, a fellow horseman wearing black leather boots, a black
trenchcoat and a steel sword are walking and talking. Ayaan then asks Robert “So what is the thing you needed to show me?” Robert says while pointing in a direction says that it is right over there. As Albert walks towards that direction Robert pulls out his sword and starts to walk behind Albert, as Albert sees what Robert seemingly wants him to see he says “This is just a stump.” Robert then comes up behind him and says “You were always better than me.” but before Albert can respond his head is sliced cleanly off and falls onto the stump. Robert then buries Albert’s body near a nearby farm with a pumpkin patch and marks his grave with a big piece of wood, then he went home to tell his friends who also hated Albert.

20 years later Robert and his 3 friends Henry, Oliver and Steven decide to check on the
body even though it was dark. When they arrived at the spot where Albert was buried, they were surprised to see that instead there was a empty grave marked with the same big piece of wood. After a while of them freaking out that someone might know about Albert’s murder they realize that Oliver is nowhere to be seen.

They decide to split up and as Henry searches for Oliver in the barn he finds him headless and bleeding out, but before Henry can scream in terror he is decapitated by an unknown figure wielding a familiar steel sword.

As Steven searches in the corn field he keeps getting the feeling something is watching
him. “There is nothing watching you it is all in your head,” he told himself but he kept
looking back to make sure. As he reached the middle of the field he saw what looked like a scarecrow on a post, Steven then looked to the right for a second thinking he heard something but when he looked back there was only the post. As Steven thought if he should head back his head is cleanly cut off and lands near some familiar back leather boots.

As Robert was searching the pumpkin patch, he hears footsteps behind him and turns around thinking it’s Oliver but sees the corpse of Albert with a flaming jack-o-lantern for a head. Robert then starts to walk away backwards from this “Headless Horseman” saying “No! No! This is impossible!” until he trips on a pumpkin. The Headless Horseman then walks up to him and cuts his head off, puts the body in his old grave, then gets on a saddled black horse with red eyes and rides it into the woods.

Now on All Hallows Eve 2004, a teenager, Brian, and his friends John, Rick, Mari, Keith, Pete, Ziag and Morty decide to go camping deep in the woods. As they tell horror stories about the man that was killed in those very woods now called ‘The Headless Horseman’ Rick hears the snapping of a twig, John says “It’s probably a squirrel or something.”

The fire starts to go out so Pete volunteers to go get some twigs for the fire, though as he
heads deeper into the woods he hears what sounds like a horse. He heads toward the
noise and finds a saddled black horse with red eyes then turns around to see a man in black leather boots, a black trench coat, and a steel sword with a flaming jack-o-lantern
for a head. As Pete realizes this is the man from the stories his head is sliced cleanly off.

Time goes by and Rick gets worried while everyone is sure that he’s fine, after a while of waiting for Pete to get back everyone gets really tired and goes to sleep in their sleeping bags. In the middle of the night Rick wakes up and hears a weird sound, he tries to wake his friends up only to find them all headless and bleeding out in their sleeping bags. As Rick runs in terror he trips on a log and falls down a hill and injures his leg, as he attempts to get back up he sees back leather boots and looks up to see who it is. He sees a black trenchcoat and a flaming jack-o-lantern, but just before he screams in terror his head is cut off landing on the ground and the Headless horseman rides into the woods waiting for his next round of victims.

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Group Mini-Movie Challenges

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The students have just finished their group mini-movie challenges! They had one week (last Wednesday to this Wednesday) to make them. The theme was potato and the angle that they had to include was a wide shot. Within the groups, each student filmed and edited their portion of the film in their own style at their own homes. Then they sent it to one student to string the individual scenes together.

Each student was able to be very resourceful when it came to filming during quarantine, and effectively communicated with one another remotely. The JuiceMedia students never cease to amaze! The videos are up on our Vimeo page.

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“The Master:” The Little Secrets of Stories

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By Baine Avent

“The Master” is a film about many things, but I think a simple elevator pitch can do just fine. The film tells the story of a man named Freddie Quell, an alcoholic World War 2 veteran who seems to only be a pointless drifter, finding odd jobs wherever he can, usually ending each one by being chased out of it. This is all Freddie’s life seems to be, until he decides to take liberty to hop on an unknowing steamboat in the middle of the night. Upon waking up after what was possibly a typical booze-filled time, Freddie is introduced to the captain of the ship, Lancaster Dodd, or as his compatriots call him, “Master.” He’s the so-called leader of a new religion known as the Cause, a scientific belief system that was all created by Dodd himself. With his intelligence and charisma, Dodd convinces Freddie to come along and stay, hoping that this “animal”can become integrated. It’s the story of a man who seems to have every part of his life on a path, and another who has no path at all. And I’ll just go ahead and leave it there. 

I’ll first start this off by saying that if I ever tried to write about the story or my interpretations of the film itself, then it would be an essay so long that I doubt anyone would even think of reading it. And I wouldn’t blame them, this film is something I annoyingly gush about to pretty much anyone I meet. And if you’ve maybe already guessed, it’s my favorite film of all time. It has most definitely taught me more about stories than I realize, which gave me a pretty good idea of how to show this film off while also not annoying anyone. I realize that mainly filmmakers will read this, so how about I speak on how this film both taught me and can hopefully teach all of us about making a movie.

One of the best parts of a film can be when everything is conjoined into a whole. When everything seems to lock into place as one piece. The Master has shown me that collaboration is what creates the film, not the initial ideas on their own. As incredible of a director as Paul Thomas Anderson is, he didn’t think of the entire film in its entirety and then have everyone read his mind. I wouldn’t be gushing about the film’s hypnotizing and ancient-feeling cinematography if Mihai Malaimare Jr. hadn’t found some old Hitchcock lenses to use, resulting in some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. I wouldn’t be mesmerized by the performances if actors like the late Philip Seymor Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix had completely immersed themselves in the role and added the smallest of details, such as Freddie Quell constantly holding his hips when he talks, referring to a single throw away line about his kidneys being torn up in the war. And lastly, I wouldn’t be absolutely going nuts about the score if it wasn’t for Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, who used instruments such as harps, bells, and strings to make a soundscape that makes you feel like you yourself might even be discovering this secret society. If someone like PTA could sit in a room and think all of that up, then he might objectively be the greatest living director of all time (which I already think). But either way, he didn’t. It was very much the people around him who helped make a great movie. And when I realised this, I began to learn more about filmmaking. This kind of storytelling comes from a group of people, each with their own special and weird little talents, that all have the passion to make something amazing. 

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“The Master” has also helped me cope with making the parts of a movie that never actually make it on… well… the movie. The feeling of putting your passion into something that never sees the light of the screen is never easy. But, with a film like “The Master,” I only grew more excited about the little secrets that only we know about. For pretty much every trailer of the film, no lie, about 75% of the footage is footage that isn’t in the actual film. This isn’t just because the studio had the great idea of having PTA himself direct the trailers, but also because even the lost footage almost seems like it still is the film itself. Online, there is an entire 20 minute short, “Back Beyond,” that contains a huge amount of the footage I just mentioned. It shows the characters in completely different locations and situations that aren’t even referred to in the film itself. It’s super fascinating, and in fact, these trailers are what actually convinced me to watch the film itself. It goes to show that every experience making a film, whether it is seen or not, is the film. It helped you develop your world and the people around it. I don’t think that we would’ve gotten the same movie otherwise. I realized this when viewing these lost scenes; I didn’t view them in the mindset that they didn’t happen, but that they did and I simply didn’t get to see them. Every rough cut, every deleted scene, every torn page, is always still your movie. 

So I hoped I was able to both fanboy about “The Master” all over this essay while also making something out of it. I hope I was able to catch someone’s attention for the movie, and if that’s the case, then that’s already good enough. But what I hope the most is that everyone reading this already knows that films aren’t a piece of magic that float onto a screen from the sky, but that they’re the labor of blood, sweat, and tears. Film is a work of extreme passion and hardship. It takes too much effort and such hardship to make a movie, so I cross my fingers that by reading this or even watching “The Master,” that this is all the result of human beings taking (a lot of their) time to tell weird little stories. 

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The JMYC & Our Visiting Artist

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The JuiceMedia Youth Committee has been meeting every other Wednesday to continue to discuss all things JuiceMedia! The youth have been giving amazing input about navigating our virtual format, and how to keep students engaged during quarantine and social distancing.

The students decided that they’d enjoy writing critical response essays about movies they love, which all have been posted here on the blog, as well as on our instagram. The youth also decided to take this next week to do a week-long mini-movie challenge in their peer groups, so be on the look out for those next week! We’re also going to compile a document full of tips and tricks about video production that the youth have learned during their time in JM, to be passed on to all current and incoming students.

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We were overjoyed to have John Akre visit JuiceMedia last week. He shared everything he’s learned about animation during his career, and how important it is to create art as a youth. We asked all sorts of questions about how he developed his style, what kinds of public art he does, and who his influences are. This week we have another visiting artist: FilmNorth’s very own Andrew Peterson! We’ll report back with all the things we learned in our next post. Until then!

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How The ‘Blade Runner’ Films Get Their Audience To Ask Questions

How the Blade Runner Films Get Their Audience to Ask Questions

by Ben Dreblow

Minor Spoilers for both films

If you know me it is no secret that I adore the Blade Runner films; they have had a profound impact on the way I view film. One of the things the films opened my mind to was cinema’s ability to cause its audience to ask questions. You cannot help but think about what it means to be human and how technology will impact society’s progress when watching Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel. These points are so discussed that you would be hard pressed to find a review or discussion of the films that does not mention these existential questions. Which got me thinking about another question: how can a film get its audience to respond in such a way?

Certainly you could have characters ask the questions themselves, within the film. For example, they could say the line: “what does it mean to be human?” However, audiences and critics would likely cringe at such obvious storytelling.  Besides, merely having characters ask the question within the film does not mean the film itself is asking the question. If you could insert that line into a stoner buddy comedy like Pineapple Express, would that suddenly mean that film as a whole is asking it? I would say no.

I believe it would be fitting to take a look at the Blade Runner films, and see how they achieve this response. I will be using the “what does it mean to be human” question that is often discussed in relation to these two films as the example question they are trying ask. Neither Blade Runner nor its sequel have moments like I described, where a character verbally asks the question the film is asking. So how do these films accomplish this effect?

Each of these films has a script that places the characters within a narrative where the subject of the question it wants to ask plays a central role within them. In Blade Runner, humans have created a race of androids that look and behave exactly like humans. Called “replicants,” these androids are essentially used for slave labor. Some of these replicants are starting to violently revolt and the blade runners are tasked with retiring (killing) these rebellious creations. Blade Runner 2049 escalates the conflict between humanity and its likeness with the reveal that some replicants are capable of conceiving children. A key moment in the script for Blade Runner that helps ask this question is the famous “tears in the rain” monologue delivered by the late Rutger Hauer. The night before filming, Hauer cut many parts from the monologue as he felt the moment had been overwritten on the page. In this moment, Hauer’s replicant character delivers a monologue describing the most striking experiences of his short life. Recalling life’s greatest memories and the miracle of childbirth are all deeply human things for a mere replicant to experience.

However, film is a visual art form, and having this story on paper does not mean it will be communicated effectively on film, nor will Rutger Hauer’s tremendous performance contribute much if it is not captured. Films need to use their visuals appropriately to ask their questions effectively. The Blade Runner films rely on their production design and lighting to ask the question visually. They do this through the design of the replicants. Think about how differently we would react to the replicants if they were not so similar to us in their design. What if the filmmakers behind Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 decided to give them translucent skin where one could see their mechanical internals, or if they put a glowing light on the side of their head? We would likely begin to feel as if they were less human than we are.  Instead, they look nearly identical, save for a lighting trick used in the first film to add a very subtle glow in the eyes of the replicants. (Which are the window to the soul after all!)

This is where the question comes to a head. When we see the similarity between the humans and the replicants, in look and behavior, when we hear them share their fondest memories of their lives, we think, “what makes us different from them?” In order to answer that we need to ask what makes us human to begin with. In this way the Blade Runner films invite their audience into a thought experiment that is both beautiful and bleak. The answers you get will certainly depend on your own beliefs and worldview. Perhaps what makes us human means we are different from the replicants, perhaps not. Either way, the ability of a film to cause such existential contemplation is truly incredible and at times mystifying.

The ways in which films can ask questions cannot be contained in one essay, and certainly do not read these methods I describe as the only ones out there. Every film is different, and different questions can require different methods. I hope that this essay has been helpful to you, and opened your mind like the Blade Runner films opened mine, to the ways films can ask questions.

 

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JuiceMedia Goes Virtual

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The pandemic sure has shaken up the world, but it hasn’t shaken our students’ commitment to JuiceMedia! On March 15th, JM made the move to online platforms. We now use Zoom to meet twice a week, and the JuiceMedia Youth Committee still meets every other Wednesday. The students are continuing the projects that they started while we were still in-person, and those who had finished their projects before moving online are coming up with quarantine-safe ways to tell visual stories.

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We have utilized screensharing in Zoom in many ways, one of which is evidenced above. Ben was able to give his prop-making presentation by screensharing his powerpoint, then showed us some props he’s made while we had a Q&A with the rest of the students.

We’ve also been able to play an adapted version of pictionary via Zoom! The students enjoy playing this during JM session breaks. We also are sure to stretch before or during our meetings:

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Suffice to say, JuiceMedia is still thriving and our students are rising to the challenge of filming while quarantining and social distancing. Hooray for the commitment of our students, interns, and instructors!

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