Interview with Brenda Landis

I write a lot about story structure in filmmaking on my blog because that is where my expertise lie. I wanted to get a better understanding of filmmaking and simple techniques for beginner, so I interviewed Brenda Landis who works for the Media Center at Dickinson College. She works everyday with aspiring filmmakers and she was the perfect person to talk to. She was full of insight and tips not just on film techniques but how to approach and think about film projects. The interview went long. It’s about 20 minutes. I decided to just cut out sections of audio that I found the most perceptive so you can get advice without having to listen to the whole 20 minutes. Everything is still in the original order. I also will post the whole interview at the bottom of the post so that if you are interested.

Q: I was wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself sort of what your background and what experience you have with filmmaking?


Q: Do you find certain techniques or certain skills are applicable towards the variety of films that people you often see people make? Do you have a ten commandments for making a film?


Q: You touched upon common mistakes that people made with bad time management and bad audio, are there any other mistakes that you see students making frequently?


Q:When it comes to filmmaking in the more traditional sense, where do you see people making the most mistakes?


Q: Are there any techniques either lighting or camera shots that would be good for new filmmaker to start with to the build a repertoire before they move on to something bigger?


Q: You talked about sound earlier. Are there simple things people can do to improve their sound quality?


Q: How important do you think editing is in the film making process?


Q: You touched on common editing mistakes, but I was wondering if you have any more that you have solutions for?


Q: My blog is about analyzing films to get better at understanding filmmaking. How important do you think that is?


If your interested, here is the full interview. I highly suggest that you check it out.


  1. sem581 · November 30, 2014

    I enjoyed listening to your interview with Brenda because it provided a unique perspective on the film process from the creator’s side. Breaking the interview into different sections kept me engaged, good choice! A point that Brenda made that stood out to me was how filmmakers should start out on the level of a song such as “Mary had a Little Lamb” and not leap into something overly complex. This reminded me Lamott’s article, “Bird by Bird” and how in the long run, starting small and building up will produce better results. I agree with Brenda that many people assume film making is easy because it seems fun, however, it is clearly much more challenging and requires a significant amount of time and effort. I also found the idea about old versus more modern production revealing. Previously I had not considered how technology can allow todays directors to get by with far less creativity than directors from past decades. Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite film from the “old production” days and what is a favorite film of yours from the more “modern production” days?


  2. gilligaj · December 17, 2014

    I don’t really watch a lot of older movies. I really like to watch whatever is new or whatever I totally meant to watch 6 months ago when it was in theaters. My favorite film from the “old production” depends on how far you want to go back. I love Metropolis, which came out in 1927. It is so old that there is no fully complete version of the film because of WW2. You should watch it. It’s one of those movies that everyone steals from. Something a little more recent, as in the 1960’s, that I really enjoyed was Hitchcock’s The Birds. It starts off as a romantic comedy which is wonderful because the audience gets so attached to the character. Then the horror movie happens about half way through. Even though there really bad puppets I was so scared because I cared about the characters so much. It was such great storytelling. As for “modern production” I don’t really have a favorite. I tell people The Fall by Tarsem Singh with Lee Pace because its super artsy so i get credit for that, also because it is the prettiest movie I’ve ever seen. And the story is beautiful.


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