Category Archives: Movie

How to Analyze a Movie and Write a Movie Review

How to Analyze a Movie and Write a Movie Review

Analyzing a movie is very important if you plan to write a decent review of it. Moreover, the fun of dissecting a work of a skilled filmmaker can help you enjoy a movie to a different level altogether. Read some of these expert tips on how to analyze a movie and discover the fine nuances which most people miss.

Why Analyzing is important before reaching a judgment

Because a glass maybe half full or half empty. It’s all a matter of perspective. Fortunately or unfortunately, good filmmakers do not often share the perspective of the audience. Therefore, it is critical that one understand the importance of another’s view point.Moreover, if you are watching any movie with your friends of family, then it is important that you take notice of the things which a casual movie-goer usually does not and this forms the basis for all your opinions about the movie in the end.

What to consider when analyzing a movie

There are plenty of things about a movie which can be dissected to get the best picture about what a movie is all about. Cinema can be interpreted in a thousand different ways, and each is correct. I will tell you what basically needs to be done.

  1. The themes and ideas that are touched in the movie – This is really important as this shows how relevant a film is for the current time. Is it meaningful cinema or is it just for entertainment? Is there are message that the filmmaker is trying to send? Are there any other underlying themes associated with the movie?
  2. The storyline and dialogues – These two aspects give a movie a lot of the needed feel. Without interesting dialogoes, a very well made movie can be a total disaster. Secondly, an original storyline plays an important part in making the message or purpose of the movie effective.
  3. Sets and Costumes – Again very vital to give a feel to the movie. Although sets and costumes are usually overlooked by many, they can add tons of believable elements to a dry script.
  4. Cinematography and Screenplay – Undoubtedly, these two are crucial factors of a movie which need to be given the maximum attention. A lot of questions usually arise in my mind when I am watching a movie related to the screenplay – is the pace of the movie fast or slow? Is it adequate? How is the lighting and camera? Are there any special effects used or techniques which are out of the norms of traditional film-making?
  5. Director’s distinctive style and fingerprint – Each filmmaker has his own style and fashion of making a movie. These can only be found out after watching a few films by the director. For example : Alfred Hitchcock used bizarre camera angles and zooms for the time ever which gave his thriller movie so much more depth. Stanley Kubrick could pause time in his films through static long shots of a particular scene to make them more dramatic. Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino have perhaps the most original filmmaking styles that I have come across in English movies.

Watch out for these aspects and you will enjoy watching movies a lot more than other people. These are just some tips which are considered while analysing a movie – there are lots of other nuances and fine prints which need to be observed and that takes a lot of practise. But for beginners, this will do.

Five Tips for Using Movies to Help Learn a New Language

Five Tips for Using Movies to Help Learn a New Language

Using Movies for Language Learning

Almost everyone loves movies. From action and adventure seekers to comedy or animated features to Romance and Westerns, there is a genre for you. You can follow the exploits of Indiana Jones and his search for ancient treasures or an odd couple of robots trekking their way through the galaxy. You can enjoy an emotional love story or split your sides laughing at a variety of antics by man or animals alike. You can also use movies to help learn a foreign language. Here are five tips to get you started.

Tip 1 Try Mimicking Select a character in the movie you identify with; the dashing, daring hero or the pretty, coquettish damsel in distress. Perhaps the supporting characters are more to your taste; the humorous side-kick, a brazen in-law or mischievous youngster. Pick one, then practice speaking their lines in a scene or segment from the movie. Be sure to imitate accent, tone and expressions as closely as you can.

Tip 2 Use a movie DVD The format most useful for you will likely be one which allows you to stop, start and repeat segments of the movie dialogue at will. If you don’t understand a sentence or phrase, stop, rewind and listen again. Do this repeatedly until your brain engages and you “get it” or try asking for help from a friend, teacher or native speaker if necessary. Using a DVD for this is less risky than using a tape. Celluloid tape can ultimately develop wear if a section is repeatedly rewound and played over and over again.

Tip 3 Use a short scene or segment Rather than try to “do” an entire movie as practice, why not select a dramatic scene with plenty of dialogue spoken by the character you’re mimicking? It’ll be much faster to repeat, simpler to memorize and easier to practice with. You can try staging the scene for yourself, adding dialogue, asking questions and even taking the roles of other characters in the scene. Once you’ve “mastered” a scene, go through and choose another from the movie. Then repeat the process to get more practice yet. Quite possibly, there are two, three or even more scenes which can inspire you to frequent practice helping you to learn your new language even faster.

Tip 4 Listen and Repeat Remember that your technique can be a simple one, just listen and repeat. If you truly want to take the process further, imitate body language, gestures and movements of your character as well. It’s important to get timing, rhythm and intonation as close to the original as you can. Language rhythm with speed, pausing and tonality are typically well illustrated when using movies for language learning purposes. You should be trying to mimic the actions, gestures and speech of the character as closely as you can for maximum language learning effect.

Tip 5 First be him, then be her Practice being different characters to help round out your foreign language speaking skills. If you’re a male, don’t be skittish about practicing female characters. If you’re a female, don’t neglect practice with male speaking roles. In many film genres, there are scenes involving extensive dialogue between a man and woman. These can be especially useful for their rich dialogue content. First be him for multiple practice sessions, then be her for a few practice sessions more. Soap Operas are particularly good for this and usually contain dramatic content to enhance the dialogue. No slapping, fist fights, cat fights or violence, please!

Use Movies for Foreign Language Practice

However you decide to do so, using movies for language practice is an excellent way to deepen your cultural knowledge, improve your use of idioms, expressions and vocabulary in context. It’s a great way to generally boost your speaking and listening comprehension abilities too. These five tips can help get you started beginning with the very next movie you decide to watch.

8 Top Tips to Choose the Right Online Movie Rental Service

8 Top Tips to Choose the Right Online Movie Rental Service

When deciding to rent online movies there are a number of companies who offer this service and you should consider your options carefully before choosing one. Below are some tips to help you choose the right service for your needs.

Tip 1: Check the company to see what is included in the membership. For example how many titles are available to rent. Do they offer a good selection of your kind of movies? What kind of plans do they offer? If you want to watch movies on Blu Ray or instantly on your TV or PC, some may charge you extra for this. If it’s an option you use often you may be better of finding a company that offers one or two of these options as part of the membership at no extra cost.

Tip 2: Make sure there is a good chance the company can deliver your movies quite quickly. The bigger the company, the more likely they will have many distribution centers. Meaning there is less travel time.

Tip 3: How do you like to watch your movies? If you don’t like to wait for movies to be shipped out to you, check for other options to suit you i.e. how many titles are available to download and watch instantly on your PC or TV. Also check the prices of the equipment required to do this and if the option to watch movies instantly is included in your membership. Or the extra cost is worth it.

Tip 4: Also check the return policy. Make sure that you can return the movie either by visiting a store or dropping it in the mail with no shipping costs. Most companies offer free shipping now. The return packaging is also ready for you to just to put the DVD in it to return by mail.

Tip 5: If you want the option to rent and return movies in store too, check for a service that offers this option, not many do. It is only companies such as Blockbuster who have the traditional bricks and mortar stores that can do this.

Tip 6: If you have a Blu Ray player, check for a good range of movies on Blu Ray to rent and the cost for this option. Some companies may charge you extra to rent Blu Ray DVDs.

Tip 7: If you are really want to get hold of the latest releases asap check for a service that allows you to do so, some allow you to rent online movies a day before official release. Remember though, that the availability of new releases really depends on supply and demand.

Tip 8: If you are still not sure if a service to rent online movies is right for you, see if they offer a free trial. This is the best way to check out a service and know for sure if it is right for you. Most of these free trials give you a good range of options, so you really can get a good idea of what’s on offer.

6 Tips On Renting Movies From Blockbuster

6 Tips On Renting Movies From Blockbuster

Trying to find a movie rental at your local Blockbuster may cause some people to get frustrated. Within this article I will detail some tips that will make the movie finding process a lot smoother.

By follow just a few of these tips will ensure a fast and easy way of finding movies at your local Blockbuster. Also it will help you get new releases as well as hard to find movies. Blockbuster carries thousands of titles and games and having some general knowledge will help you in your movie viewing entertainment. So let’s get to the tips.

Tip 1: Alphabetized Shelfs

All the movies at your local Blockbuster are going to be in alphabetical order. I’m sure there are thousands of reasons why they do this, but if you know the movies that you’re looking for, then you don’t have to spend hours looking for a movie. Now for the movies that start with a number like the movie 12 Monkeys, Its not going to be under the M’s for monkeys or even under the T’ for Twelve, it’s going to be in the being of right before the A’s. Numbers before letters. One other thing to keep in mind are tie-in, these are movies that ether have the same actor in a new release or are closely similar, which means if a movie is going to be somewhere on the new release wall. 12 Monkeys mite be a tie-in for the movie 16 Blocks. Bruce Willis stars in both of them.

Tip 2: Finding Information Online

Blockbuster’s website is not just for online members. Everybody can use Blockbusters website for find out movie information. Blockbuster website offers when movies are to be released and it can help recommending a movie that you haven’t heard of. Along with movie reviews, there is a lot of movie info there.

Tip 3: Forgetting your Blockbuster Card

If you’re like me and have a lot of card in your wallet or purse, then forgetting your blockbuster card can and in many cases be very frustrating. You many even have to fill out a new application for a Blockbuster account. Next time you go to Blockbuster, bring back at least one movie rental and when you get there don’t drop it in the drop box. Keep the movie with you and give them both to the cashier. Returning movies this way will insure that you’ll never have to fill out a application again, Also it makes sure that the movies that you rented will get turn in and you don’t have to pay any late fees.

Tip 4: Is this for Sale or for Rent

Every Blockbuster has hundreds of movies rental that they don’t need anymore, so they try to sell them. They have special like 4 movies for $20 & 2 for $20. Because not ever customer is going to put things back where they belong. There are going to be some moves that are for sale in the rental area. Make sure if you’re just trying to rent movies you have rental in your hand. If you get confused don’t be afraid to ask a employee.

Tip 5: Not All Blockbusters are Alike

Understand that not all Blockbusters are connected. This because that some Blockbuster are franchise and some stores are corporate owned. I don’t know why, but to me this causes more problems then it solves. This is a simple fix, all you have to do is remember tip 3 and it will solve this problem.

Tip 6: Checking the wall for In-store Info.

In every Blockbuster there will be a wall that has some information on it. This info consists of how much the movie rentals are and what new releases are going to be coming out. Knowing how much you’re really to spend and if the movie that is about to come out will help you keeps in your movie budget. For new releases are put out every Tuesday and it is always first come first served. So get there as early as possible.

Remembering just some of these tips will help in getting the movies you want. Tip number 3 is probably the most important tip out of all of them. This alone will save you time and money.

3 Reasons You Should Know About Film Making Tips

3 Reasons You Should Know About Film Making Tips

Ever thought about what if you really could create your own blockbuster? That identical idea has occurred to a lot of people. Some have in fact done it. Some got intimidated by the great unknowns and not got started.

Well, decelerate here. Let’s look at this. For you to consider, here’s three reasons for you to know about film making tips and of course film or movie training.

First of all, for the “Pro” side, I would point out that that a good movie training site has to offer the basics for newbies and intermediate techniques for more advanced people. All right, I acknowledge your objection, for the “Con” side, and I agree you have a valid point when you say but how can I learn film making with an online course. But I would like to additionally show that this is more than possible and it has some advantages if you get the right film making course.

Second off, You probably really should consider that you can get a complete education from the comfort of your home. This saves some money and time. And, additionally, consider that you have more time to stay with your family and friends. Just imagine when the weather is bad and you can study from the comfort of your home. Simply great!.

Third, you receive all the film making tips and techniques you need to create your own blockbuster movie. This means that you will be able to create some high quality low budget movies in a matter of time. And added to that, you will learn all about film making and the techniques used by the most famous people like Spielberg or Tarrantino!

Once you think about the reasons and evaluate them, I expect that you will have to admit that a compelling case can be made for considering the way to know about film making tips and film training.

Think this through seriously for a moment. What if you truly could create high quality movies and show them your friends. And what about making some serious money?

Movie Making Tips

Movie Making Tips

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If you are interested in movie making tips, there is a good chance that you have a lot of drive and ambition to make your production the best out there. However, when you are getting started, you’ll find that there are a lot of things that you can keep in mind, and if you are at a point where you are thinking about getting started, there are some facts that you should remember. For many people who don’t have a lot of backing or might be doing this in an amateur fashion, make sure that you think things through!

  1. Watch lots of movies.
    No matter what your chosen genre is, make sure that you watch plenty of it. Even if you are planning something totally new, take a look at similar examples of what you are trying to do. As many people will tell you, you need to know the rules before you can break them, so have a thorough understanding of the medium that you will be working on.
  2. Think about your movie budget
    There is a general truism that states, the more money you have to spend, the better your film will be. Now, you can probably think of many instances where that doesn’t work, but in general, you will still find that you have to have an understanding of the money that goes into the film such as location fees, editing software, and payroll. Make sure that you understand how much you are willing to put into your creative endeavor.
  3. Get a good script
    One important movie making tip is to get a good script, so make sure that you have a good one. Take a look at it, and make sure that it is solid. It can be risky and you may not be sure if it really works, but one of the most important things is to make sure that you have a great deal of faith in it. This is a fairly serious gamble you are taking in terms of investment, so make sure that it is worth it!
  4. Who’s on board?
    When thinking of movie making tips, make sure that you are aware of who is behind you and who is willing to help you put the work in. You’ll find that there is a great deal of work in making a movie, so make sure that you know who you can count and and what resources you have to take advantage of. Be aware that it will be a great deal of work, and make sure that everyone involved knows it.

Take some time to make sure you know where you stand when it comes to your movie and keep the movie making tips above in mind!

Editing Your Home Movies A Basic Workflow

Editing Your Home Movies A Basic Workflow

With the advent of cheap consumer camcorders and cheap (or even free) video editing software, it is now very easy for anyone to put together the sort of home movie that was virtually impossible only a couple of years ago.

The top of the range editing programs are now the same ones that professionals use to produce films such as ‘O Brother where Art Though’ and other similar ones.

But if it all seems too much for you and you want to just put together some simple footage from your holiday, what do you need to do?

There are three steps to creating a video (assuming you have actually gone out and shot the footage using your camcorder)

1) Get the footage onto a PC

2) Sequence the footage together to form a movie

3) Output the movie to a format it can be viewed

The following does not rely on any particular piece of software but hopefully will indicate steps that can be taken on any software

1) Get the footage on your PC.

This is otherwise known as ‘capturing’ the footage. In years gone by this meant attaching your camera to your PC through a Firewire card and playing the footage onto the computer hard drive. However there are now cameras that capture the footage onto solid state cards which can be read by a PC directly, as well as cameras that record directly onto DVD. Regardless of what method you use to capture the footage it will need to end up as a set of files on your PC for editing. Some systems allow you to name your files to make it easier to identify them later, others assign a sequential number to each clip. If at all possible make sure you gather similar clips together , say in a folder, so they can easily be identified “Family at Sea World”, “Jimmy playing on the beach” etc.

2) Sequence the footage together to form a movie.

This is the heart and soul of movie editing. Taking your raw footage and massaging it into a format that people will want to watch. This is done through the creation of a project.

Here are a few tips to help you make better videos

  1. a) Watch ALL your footage before you start editing. This will give you an idea of what you have and what you don’t have. It’s easy when filming footage to forget that sometimes you need some little shots to help your edit. For example when you went to Sea World and shot footage of Shamu did you remember to get a shot of the main entrance with the “Sea World” logo? I bet you didn’t. Make a note of stuff you missed.
  2. b) Identify shots that will NOT appear in your video. These are the ones where the camera whips around quickly, where the focus is wrong, where there is nothing but zooms and pans. These will make your audience sick. Also identify the ones where there is lots and lots of repetition: Jimmy running into the waves and back is interesting once or twice, but not 8 or 10 times. identify the best shot from the sequence and use that
  3. c) Look for ‘reaction shots’ – ie shots that show people looking at things or discussing things or being candid. These are useful for bridging gaps in the action later on
  4. d) Cut in late and out early. By this I mean only use that part of a shot that shows JUST the bit your interested in and once that interesting piece has finished, cut out. So if you’ve got footage of Jimmy on the beach throwing a frisbee, show him throwing the frisbee. Don’t show him shouting at you to move back towards the left and ‘to go deep’. Don’t show him making a couple of practice throws or stopping to watch the dog play in a tidal pool. Just show the throw. Once he’s thrown the frisbee and it’s out of shot, cut away.

Once you have your footage identified – along with a list of shots you don’t have but do need – get in to your editing tool and bring all your footage in. Working through in a logical sequence start to drop the shots into the timeline. Don’t worry about titles, transitions and effects, just get the story working. Remember, ideally you should have something that tells a complete story from start to finish. For longer shots that are boring (or contain things you don’t want in your movie), use your editors trim’ function to cut bits out from the start or end of the footage. In some editors you may have to drag the same clip into the timeline several times to allow you to take chunks of it.

Now watch your movie. Does it tell a story? Does it flow? Does each shot cut in late and out early? Is there repetition. Remember that although you might find it interesting to watch jimmy throw a frisbee 15 times on a beach, everyone else will probably get bored after a short while.

Now you can go back to your footage and do a couple of things.

  1. a) Add in the titles Many editors have titling tools as part of their features. Use what you have. If your editing system doesn’t have a titler, make your own titles. Use a word processor, print the pages out, film them and add them in
  2. b) Add transitions. Sometime a good transition can be very useful. Generally I find there are only 2 types of transitions that make sense A dissolve and a fade. A dissolve is where one picture become another over a period of time and a fade is where one picture disappears (usually to black) and the other then appears out of the black. If you use too many transitions it will distract your audience (Unless your making a groovy pop video!).
  3. c) Add in reaction shots. If you have those shots that show Aunt Nelly laughing at something, or the whole family watching the fireworks display, add those shots in between a couple of other shots. This breaks up the flow and allows you to make an edit that otherwise would look wrong – say, for example, you have a shot of Shamu in close up and you want to move to a shot of the whole of Shamu’s tank, if you add a reaction shot of people watching the show in between the two shots it will make the edit work! This is also the tie to add in those shots you didn’t take at the time. If you need a shot of the logo of Sea World, look on the internet. Check out Flickr and search for Creative Commons images you can use to insert into your footage.
  4. d) Sound is an important part of a good video. I’ve had films where I have basically just added music underneath the whole video to cover up some awful camcorder audio. This works. Try it and see

3) Output the movie to a format you can use:

When you are completely happy with what you have (having added in the transitions, titles and sound) you are then ready to create a film from your project. Remember that saving the project in a tool will not actually create a film, just a record of what is in the project. Creating the film (or rendering) involves identifying how you want the project transferred into a format that you can watch.

Different tools deal with this in different ways but all of them will allow you to create a finished film in a specific format. This might be a Quicktime movie, or an AVI or even an MPEG. Regardless of the end product, most tools will ask you to specify things such as bit-rate or file size. Don’t be concerned about this. As video files generally are huge, playing them anywhere will require them to be compressed into something that can be processed by your computer. All movie files created from editing software will be compressed to reduce their size. Just remember a couple of golden rules

1) A high bit rate will result in a bigger file but will need a faster computer to play it without juddering

2) A smaller file will create compression artefacts (ie those square blocks you see when playing back videos)

So usually the creation of a movie is a trade off between large file sizes needing powerful computers and smaller files that have compression artefacts. The correct decision to make on this depends on where you want your final movie to be shown. If it is destined for YouTube then a smaller file size is acceptable. If it is going onto a DVD then you need as big a file as possible to keep the compression down to a minimum because the creation of the DVD will compress the file again and therefore reduce quality further.

The process of video file compression is something of a black art, with people trying to get the maximum quality from the minimum file size. All you need to know is that with most of the tools available today, especially free tools, you will always have a trade off between file size and quality.

If you want to make a DVD of your movie you will need to take the movie created from the editing software (which should be as high quality as possible) and pass it through a DVD creation tool (Something like DVD-Flick) and this will design and create your DVD for you. Obviously you will need a DVD player capable of writing disks as well as reading them.

How to Pick the Right Movie Every Time

How to Pick the Right Movie Every Time

Reward yourself: If you think of your movie going experience as a reward, your choice of movies will change drastically, they will become more rewarding and fulfilling. Your reward can be anything, from a long work week, completing an overdue project, meeting someone new, treating a family member or friend to a special occasion. So with all these technical issues to consider, how do you choose the right movie for the right occasion? Easier said than done; but really, it is very easy. Here’s how:

It always helps to do a little research about any movie before going to see it; that way, you won’t be disappointed for shelling out a few bucks. Decide on the location first because that could mean driving for forty minutes to an hour, or just enjoying the luxury of in home entertainment. You may want to look up where the movie is playing, then call the theater to confirm and even book your ticket over the phone or internet, hassle free. For those movies not in theaters, you may choose to rent a DVD or borrow one from a friend.

If you decide to go the extra mile, the mall or distant theater, make it worth your while. When making your movie decision, never choose a movie that is liked by everyone, try something new unless you are convinced this is the one. Avoid the in-crowd opinion; the everybody-loves-it mentality. Look for a movie that stimulates you intellectually, solves a problem or one that meets a need, whether emotional, psychological, adventure, escapism, triumph or just for added knowledge and self improvement. You should always learn something at the end of your movie.

Here is an example: After watching The Cinderella Man, I learned that men are by design, made to be the strength of their family; and that courage is more than just word of mouth, it takes sacrificial actions and willingness to risk everything. In “Glory” with Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, I also learned that one man can make a difference in the lives of others, and that doing the not-so-popular things and going against the grain can be more rewarding than never challenging the powers that be. Therefore, if we all just stay in our little corners, a change will never come. There are risks in the establishment of greatness, and an even greater reward in ceasing each given moment.

Also, I remembered how I felt after seeing “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe, and “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner” or “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, King of the Kick Boxers, with Billy Blanks, and “Everyone’s Fine” with Robert De Niro…just to name a few examples of great moments I have come to cherish over time. Some were filled with laughter, tears, triumph, courage, hopes and dreams; nevertheless, they were time well spent.

There are big benefits in choosing the right movie versus going the popularity route. And after watching this year’s Academy, you too will also realize that Hurt Locker was not the most talked about movie, but it sure took the spotlight over Avatar when all was said and done.

Some people choose movies based on their favorite actor/actress, but however you decide, a great movie makes for an even greater conversation with people you meet. Some movies will help to bridge the gap between people of varying nations, solve misunderstandings, and makes for great ice-breakers in uncomfortable settings.

I could go on and on, but here’s what I really want you to get from reading this article, your movie going should be a great experience that lifts your spirits, encourage you, make you cry at times and move you emotionally, open your eyes to new ideas, hidden truths and wildly adventures, bring people together, tear down barriers and build up new walls of hope and trust, and inspire people to dream, if only for a moment.

I love movies because they are in many ways, the untold stories of every human that ever walked planet earth and are a real world phenomenon of memories gone by. There is a hidden reality and realism in every movie or stories ever told via motion pictures. However, while not all are good for the soul, movie going is a experience that can be enjoyed even from the comforts of your bed room. But whatever your choice of location, let it be a memorable one. Here’s to your next experience! Lights…Camera…Action…Life!

Andrew Guy is a well sought out Motivational Speaker, known for his humorous approach to breaking down the myths of Leadership, advocacy for health & wellness, and empowering message for youth and others.

How Can I Invest in a Movie and Make Money With a Movie

How Can I Invest in a Movie and Make Money With a Movie

You may have heard that movie investments, especially low budget movie investments, can be very lucrative. This can be true, and you may be excited about investing in a movie, but not know how to find a movie project to invest in. You may also be wondering about what to look for in a low budget movie project, and what to watch out for. This article will explain how to find a movie project to invest in, and how to determine if it has a good chance of being a successful movie that will produce a good profit.

In your search for a movie project to invest in, you can simply search the internet using the key words “how to invest in a movie” and you will get a good start in your search. You will find a myriad of different articles, relating to this topic and associated topics. If you keep searching, you will find some movie projects with budgets that are within the realm of what you want to invest, and which have a story line that appeals to you. The term small budget in this article means movies costing under $300,000.

You will also find investment opportunities for bigger budget movies, where someone sets up a company which is funded by a pool of small investors. The budget for the movie may be 10 to 50 million dollars, and you can invest only $50,000 to $100,000 if you wish.

It is most important to know that movies with budgets under $300,000 actually have a chance of earning a much higher return than budgets costing in the multi millions. For instance, with a budget of 30 million dollars, the movie will most likely have to get a theatrical release to make a profit. Because of the limited number of movie screens available, getting a theatrical release is difficult, with strong competition from large Hollywood studios for those limited screens. On the other hand, a movie that costs $300,000, can break even if it is shown on TV only once. With TV networks worldwide on the constant lookout for new movies to broadcast, it can be relatively easy to double or triple your investment with relative ease. Some movies costing under $300,000 have made over a hundred million dollars. This type of return is rare of course, but it is possible.

For any movie to make money, the story must be interesting and captivating, and have something unique and special about it. Movies that are based on a true story have a higher chance of success. And here is smoothing very important to know. A good story is more important than big name stars, or special effects. You can verify this by checking the movie listings on TV. You will see movies you never heard of, yet they have big name stars. It is because they were actually box office flops. Yes, they are good enough to get on TV, but they may never break even.

A low budget movie on the other hand, can make good money if it is only shown on TV. If it turns out to be exceptional, it can get a theatrical release, and make really big money.

One thing to look for in a low budget movie investment, is to see if the writer/director is putting their own money into it. The writer/director should have some past successes, such as some awards, and TV sales, even if they are just with short films. Most low budget movies are made by writer/directors who are moving up from short films to feature films. If they have already made some feature films, they are also likely to now be working on bigger budget films. The key is to find someone who looks to be a rising star, and to capitalize on their strong commitment to their movie.

I am making a feature length movie, and I am looking for investors. The budget is only $100,000, and you can invest as little as $5000. I am investing my own money in the movie. I have won some awards and sold my short films to TV. I have what may be the most complete movie investment website ever made, with all the details, including details that some people try to hide. Just looking at my website is an education in itself, and if you look, you will be entertained as well.

Project Management Kung Fu Theater

Project Management Kung Fu Theater

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Growing up in New York during the 1980s, I enjoyed watching what was called “The Sunday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater” on television. This meant four hours straight of Kung Fu movies, dueling techniques, avenging deaths, dubbed voice-overs, and wonderful noises for punches and kicks. There was also the additional two hours after the movies ended when my brother and I would re-enact the movies on each other (and destroy our house in the process). This article ponders these similarities of these movies to project management to see if it can help Project Managers attain their “black belt” in managing projects.

For those people reading this article who are not familiar with this genre of movies, I will give a brief overview. Each movie was about two hours long and they all had very distinct characteristics:

Each had a similar story in that a martial arts student has some wrong done to them (e.g. the killing of a master/brother/father, ransacking of the town/temple by thugs, etc.), then they go away to the mountains to train in some particular technique and would come back and avenge the wrong done to them.

The techniques that each student practiced made them super-human by having the ability to fly, smash walls with their fists, take arrows without being hurt, climb trees without using their hands, etc. (Do you begin to see the similarities with Project Managers yet?).

The styles of kung fu practiced were unique in that they mirrored specific movements and strengths of different animals (e.g. Tiger, Dragon, and Snake) and elements (e.g. Water, Fire, and Earth).
They were all filmed in Chinese and then translated with English voice-overs. This resulted in the actors’ lips moving (in Chinese) but the words being said in English did not match.

DIFFERENT STYLES

A common occurrence in the Kung Fu movies was when the combatants would yell out the next ‘style’ that they were going to use against one another during a fight sequence. These were usually based on animals (e.g. Tiger, Crane, Dragon, and Monkey) and had distinct movements to them. While (most) Project Managers don’t shout out their styles or techniques during action in the project, I have noticed that some of the Project Management styles mirror the styles used by the Kung Fu warriors. That is, there are several distinct ways that PMs manage their projects and resources.

Dragon style

The Dragon style is an aggressive style and is used by a PM who manages by shouting out orders (like breathing out fire). They often use the “just do it and don’t complain” approach. Fear may be used as a motivator for the Dragon because they believe that people should obey them because of their power or title. I rarely see the Dragon ‘on the floor’ interacting with the team members but rather in the tower looking down and ready to attack. My experience is that Dragons may get the work done in the short term, but they rarely have the motivation or dedication of their team members if this style is over-used. People start resenting the approach and see it as a lack of support and will not be as motivated or productive after some time.

Crane style

The Crane style requires Project Managers to stick out their necks. Cranes are risk takers who say that anything is possible (often before considering any consequences). These people tend to be more academic and enjoy the challenge of doing something that has not been done before (even if that is not what the project is asking for). I get nervous around Cranes because their ability to deliver on time is often diminished by their unrealistic expectations of what they want to deliver. However, there is value in being a Crane on projects where new thinking is required.

Snake style

The Snake style of Project Management involves being sneaky around the way in which the project is managed. These are the Project Managers who have major issues but always report their status upwards as green. They sneak their way around dates or deliverables by talking their way out of them. These people are very good talkers so they tend to look good in front of Senior Management. I have seen the Snakes have trouble because by the time they admit real problems the problems are usually enormous. They also lose credibility with their team members if the team does not feel that their problems are being heard or addressed.

Monkey style

The Monkey style entails being everyone’s friend. These are the social managers who make it a point to have a relationship which each team member. This results in great camaraderie on the team but it also has its faults. For one, the work may not get done because the PM doesn’t want to ruin any friendships by being too tough. There is another level to this style – the “Drunken monkey”, which speaks for itself and usually causes the water cooler talk the following day and results in what may be known as a CLM (Career Limiting Move). Monkeys are fun to be around but may not have the respect from the team when it comes to crunch time.

Cat style

The Cat is cautious and reluctant to act quickly. They like knowing all the available (and sometimes unavailable) information before making a decision. They take their time in analyzing all of the information. This style can work well for PMs provided that they are careful to make decisions in a timely manner.

WHEN TO USE EACH STYLE

There were always two types of Kung Fu Masters – those that were experts in one specific style or technique and those who had a fundamental understanding of several techniques. I think the Project Management master must be an expert in all techniques and know when to use them. All of these styles can work, if used in the appropriate way. Some techniques work better in certain situations than others. The PM must be nimble enough to change their style based on the project team and environment.

PRACTICE

Like Kung Fu students, Project Managers must practice their skills in order to attain mastery. Understanding the technical aspects of project management (e.g., issues logs, project plans) will not alone make a good project manager. It is the experience that a PM attains over many years of working on projects that lets them know what works and what doesn’t work. None of the movies I watched on those Sunday afternoons ever showed a student just reading a book of Kung Fu and then becoming an expert. They all took a few punches before learning how to block. It is the taking of these punches and kicks that make a Project Manager experienced to know when to punch, when to block and when to duck! It is the difficult project that instructs the most. You can’t learn martial arts very well by sparring with a wooden dummy – you want it to strike back at you.

DISCIPLINE

One of the most memorable movies was the one where the students had to perform several difficult activities within different chambers to attain mastery. They could only move on to the next chamber once the current one was completed. One of these activities required students to hold a scalding hot cauldron filled with boiling water between their forearms for a period of time to test their discipline and skill. Another activity required holding plates of water on their body as they stood in a particular position and not moving for hours. While I would hope that PMI doesn’t require any of these activities to get the PMP certification, the metaphor can be used here as well. Because projects usually involve a lot of moving and inter-related parts, Project Managers need a lot of discipline to be successful. There are several frameworks and methodologies for managing projects but it is the PM who must apply the appropriate rigor to using these. It is very easy to skip steps in a process or push things off until later. These are often shortsighted decisions that result in pain later (maybe not as much as the burning cauldron, but it does sometimes feels that way). For example, not having the discipline to plan for all activities on a project will result in rework or missed steps later.

UNEXPECTED PUNCHES

In Kung Fu Theater, no matter how good the master was they always took a few beatings during the big fights before they would make the comeback and eventually win the battle. Having discipline and practice helps to refine the Project Manager’s skills, but there are always those unexpected punches and kicks that they must absorb along the way to success. This is where your training will come in handy. Hopefully, you have learned how to take the punches and keep standing. It doesn’t make any sense just to train to avoid punches since it is inevitable that a few will be landed on you. Therefore, you should train yourself to take them and keep moving. PMs call this technique risk management.

BREAKING WALLS

Another favorite episode of mine features a Kung Fu master who had the ability to punch through brick walls. Today’s kung fu students use wooden boards. The technique for breaking anything is to strike through it and not at it. A martial arts student myself, I was taught to look six inches beyond the target and aim for that point. This metaphor can be extended to project management. The PM must ‘look beyond’ the problems of the day to be planful of what is to come rather than just striking at each problem. Once they make the plan, they should execute it with all of their focus, striking through the little problems that may stand between them and a successful project outcome. I have found in my experience that a lot of Managers tend to spend their days “putting out the fires” and not looking beyond them at the end goal. This is short-sighted and usually results in more fires and the endless cycle of firefighting (see my soccer metaphor article).

PROJECT MANAGEMENT VOICE-OVERS

For anyone who watched these moves, they know that the most entertaining part of Kung Fu Theater was the voice-overs. Since all of these movies were made in Hong Kong or China, they were in native Chinese. When shown in the U.S., English was dubbed over the dialogue. The result was lips moving in Chinese but words being played in English.

Oftentimes, a team member will report a major problem on the team. When this gets ‘dubbed’ for Management reporting, there is usually a voice-over that changes the meaning of what the team member said. Here are some examples.

Native Statement———-Voice-Over Statement
The work is half done———-The work is complete for all intents
We pray that we can meet the date———-We have a plan
The project is going well———-The project is going great
The project is having problems———-The project is going great
The project is really having problems———-The project is going great
The project is now in real trouble———-The project has some risks, but will come in on time
The project will never succeed———-We need more time than usual to complete it
The team is posting on Monster.com———-We have some potential show stoppers

It is very important to state information accurately so that expectations can be managed. I have found that it is better to state problems early (with proposed solutions) than to try to put off the information until later. Usually what happens is that the problem then snowballs into something gigantic and then no one understands how it got to be so big and unmanageable.

CONCLUSION

Project Managers resemble the Kung Fu masters of those golden days of Sunday afternoon television. They are super-human warriors who need to understand the different styles of Project Management and when it is appropriate to use each one. They need to practice their skills and focus on proper discipline. Even so, there will always be a kick or two that gets through and they need to have the stamina to absorb it. They also need to make sure that when their lips move their words match them.

One of my martial arts instructors once told me “To be the best that one can be, one must always dream of being better.” This means that the journey to mastery will never end and that there will always be battles to fight, new styles to learn, and punches to take.

Don’t forget to keep the cauldrons hot!