Manhunter (1986)
Dir. Michael Mann

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Dir. Roman Polanski

Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy (2011)
Dir. Tomas Alfredson

In the pantheon of unusual main character introductions, this might take the cake. In his words, Tomas Alfredson wants to paint Gary Oldman’s Smiley as “someone you would immediately forget if you saw him on the street.”

We first see Smiley briefly in a wide, then out of focus in Ciarán Hinds’ coverage, followed by the back of Smiley’s slowly turning head, until we finally see a closeup of his face. It’s odd, deliberate, filmmaking that trains us to meet the film at its very peculiar pace, and also plays with our expectation of how we’re going to meet this character.

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

Dir. Andrzej Wajda

A 1995 photo collage taped to a school locker – this is some of the endearing, intricately detailed ‘production design’ in the story exploration video game ‘Gone Home’, by The Fullbright Company.

Are you kidding me with this title sequence for HBO’s ‘True Detective’?

Directed by Patrick Clair, through Elastic.

Martin Scorsese’s sound editor, Skip Lievsay, on sound mixing shots that are inserts (typically a close-up detail of an object or person) in Scorsese films:

“He almost never uses a close-up without a discrete, distinct sound. So you know for some of those close-ups you need something big. He’s doing the same thing with picture and we’re doing with audio, where you have the big scene, then he zooms in for a close-up on a certain word. The idea is that you’re in a big environment and can still be pulled in for something very intimate. That’s really the best way to get the most mileage out of a track.”

This is a part of what makes Scorsese’s sound mixes distinctive and alive. The choice to show the audience an insert with an equally specific sound is tactile and emotional, sometimes even frightening.

“I really love the black spaces. It makes me think about the geography of the painting, where the figure sits in the world. I quite like the paradoxical nature – the more he removes (the less he tells you about what’s out there), the more I find myself thinking about what’s in that dark space behind. Because you never have the resources to fully create the world that you’re creating, you’re leaving a lot of voids, you’re leaving a lot of gaps, and so part of what you start trying to do is using those necessary gaps intelligently so that where you’re not showing sometimes, it’s helping you rather than feeling the limitations of the world.”
— Christopher Nolan discussing filmmaking inspiration from paintings by Francis Bacon. Part of a short video series of filmmakers by Tate.

Merlin Mann, discussing the allure of counter-intuitive facts, and by extension, Upworthy-style clickbait:

“It’s this entire culture of needing to undo the conventional wisdom of things by showing you something ‘surprisingly obvious’ that nobody else got. The people who do the actual grinding work that leads to important scientific discoveries and social science discoveries – the grinding work behind that does not lead to that many ‘turns out’ things unless you really cherry pick from the information that’s available. It just doesn’t happen, and the problem is now that that’s begun to poison the well. […] It becomes a kind of intellectual M&M’s, where people get a little bit addicted to it, because it is really enjoyable to read about.”

For a staff that Ira Glass claims were “babies” in television production, ‘This American Life’ sure looks like it knows what it’s doing in its two seasons on Showtime. These are Ira’s on-location intros from each episode of season one.

Ira Glass, discussing the biggest difference to him in storytelling in radio vs. television:

On TV, that version of a story where somebody tells you something that happens in the past is not good TV, and what works on TV is for the camera to be there as the story unfolds.

“Basically, we lit the film by choosing the right places to shoot it.”
— Cinematographer Roger Deakins on building the look of ‘Prisoners’ by carefully selecting locations and using their inherent nature to motivate light. Despite the film it refers to, this is excellent, often forgotten advice.