Special Effects

Special effects are used in movies to create a sense of excitement. They are most often seen in the action genre. Special effects are usually focused on creating an illusion on screen, but can also be physically happening as well.

Before the creation of CGI, many special effects were dangerous to shoot. Explosions were one of the most common forms in this regard. Experts in pyrotechnics were employed in Hollywood to make sure that these were done safely. Despite this it was still a dangerous aspect of production.

Vehicle crashes were also done using real life elements. These were usually too hazardous for the main stars to get involved in. Therefore lookalike stunt people were used to make it appear that the actor was in the action instead. These people are still used for perilous scenes in Hollywood today.

There have been a number of deaths and injuries due to physical special effects. An unknown amount of people drowned in the silent version of Ben Hur. Helicopter and motorcycle crashes have claimed the lives of stunt workers in more recent years. Because of this, CGI is used more predominantly.


Acting is an essential part of a successful movie. The people playing the characters need to convince the audience that the emotions they are feeling are real. In order to do this they need to have spent a number of years training.

During the silent era the mannerisms used by actors were much more exaggerated. This was due to the fact that many of the people on screen were used to being on a stage and performing for large crowds. However, this form of acting did not translate well when it came to close up shots.

Acting styles changed with the advent of sound on screen. People now had to use their voices to further convey their character. This was an issue for some in the industry and a number of big stars failed to continue their careers.

Today acting on screen is much more naturalistic. Performers in Hollywood films are highly paid and celebrities to the public. The Academy Awards give out accolades for the best in this part of the industry. The ceremony is watched by millions each year and is used to determine the most successful movies released.


A Definition

A film director is the creative visionary behind the motion picture. They decide the tone and overall look of the finished product. Directors are often seen as the author of the movie they are making. In order to become one a person has to have an in depth knowledge of creating films. This usually means that a director has been studying and experimenting with the art form since they were young.

Sometimes a director will also write the script. When the screenplay is written by someone else the director still has creative control over where the story will go. Therefore they will often rewrite the script to fit how they want the movie to be.

Film directors mainly focus on the production stage of move making. They oversee a large number of departments during this time. For this reason a director is usually seen as the boss of the project. They have one of the most powerful positions.

Famous Film Directors

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most revered film directors of all time. He was known as the master of suspense for the way he excited audiences. His career spanned from the early days of silent cinema up to the 1970’s. During these decades he made a number of masterpieces. Vertigo is cited by many critics as the greatest film ever made. Psycho has been extremely influential to the horror genre. Hitchcock contributed a number of important theories which have helped future creators of the art form.

Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director who helped to popularise the films of that country. His works were often sombre and reflected the human condition. He used a troupe of actors who became well known as the regular cast of his movies. The Seventh Seal focues on a knight who plays chess with the Grim Reaper. Wild Strawberries deals with growing old and facing the later years of life. Bergman made stage plays when not working in the film industry.

David Lynch is inspired by the Surrealist art movement. His movies more often than not have strange or incomprehensible plot lines. He is most noted for the high quality sound design in his work. Blue Velvet tells the tale of a young man who finds a severed ear and attempts to investigate further. Lynch also made a film version of his popular TV show Twin Peaks, which has since gained high recognition with the public.

Francis Ford Coppola is responsible for the Godfather films. The first two are on the lists of several critics favourite movies. They are about a mafia dynasty during the mid to late 20th century. Coppola also directed the war epic Apocalypse Now starring Marlon Brando.




Writing the screenplay is the first step to creating a feature film. Usually a screenwriter will give a brief outline of the story to a major studio. If this is accepted then the script can then be written in full. However, even when a screenplay is completed this does not guarantee that the film itself will be made.

The format of a screenplay is very specific and different to other forms of writing. If it is not written to the correct industry standard then it is likely to be rejected. It gives short descriptions of time and place, as well as character dialogue and actions. It is always written in first person. Those who want to write screenplays should learn the rules of the format.

During the early days of film making screenplays were written on physical type writers. These would then be copied and given out to the cast and crew of the production. However, in modern times screenplays can be written using a number of programmes on a computer. They can even be written using a smart device such as a mobile phone.

Famous Screenwriters

Screenwriters are not as well known as other people in the industry. Actors are often recognised because they are the ones on screen. Directors are also in the spotlight regularly. Those who write the story have more anonymity. Despite this there are a number of famous ones who are lauded for their skills.

Quentin Tarantino is often discussed due to his ingenious use of dialogue. His characters can be seen talking about seemingly incongruous aspects of life and popular culture. This gives them more depth and believability. He also references a number of well known films through his scripts.

Nora Ephron was once considered the greatest writer of romantic comedy movies. She managed to mix real life characters with sweet and funny scenarios. They were not just stories, but also commentaries on modern life.

Charlie Kaufman is popular in the industry because he manages to explore a number of serious subjects. He can do this even when the story itself is comical or silly. His scripts have helped independent films become more widespread in Hollywood. One of his most famous works is the metaphysical comedy Being John Malkovich.


Film is a visual medium and therefore the camerawork is one of the most important aspects of it. This can determine whether the film is a success. Good cinematography will be able to tell the story, even without the need for dialogue. Different shot types can be used to manipulate the audiences emotions and give them information about the characters.

Movies for most of the 20th century were shot on physical film stock. 35 mm eventually became the standard size. However, due to technological advances the way in which movies are made has completely changed. So too has the aspect ratio of the screen.

Digital film making is fast becoming the dominant way to create motion pictures. A digital film camera can be smaller, lighter and able to record for much longer. They also give the added convenience of not having to send physical film reels to cinemas. Instead the movie is on software.

Technology also helped to popularise widescreen. This new aspect ration completely changed the way screen space was used. It meant that action set pieces became more prevalent and wide shots were seen more in films.

Use of the focus pull is an important part of cinematography. It determines where the audiences eyes are drawn to. It can bring attention to an important character or prop. Focus pulling can also add depth to the image.

People can often tell the era a film was shot in just from the cinematography. It can show the techniques, film stock and style that was specific to that moment in time. This is often used by film historians to determine the date of a movie’s production.