Filmmaking Advice from Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi (NSFW)

At Com­ic-Con 2009, some aspir­ing film­mak­ers had the chance to ask real-deal direc­tors how to make it in the busi­ness. Sam Rai­mi offered some very tan­gi­ble and prac­ti­cal advice — advice that prob­a­bly any young direc­tor should take to heart. Then Quentin Taran­ti­no fol­lowed up with some col­or­ful rec­om­men­da­tions (at the 2:20 mark) that may be more inspirational/aspirational than achiev­able. Robert Rodriguez and Guiller­mo del Toro also offer their thoughts.…

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Taran­ti­no’s Favorite Films Since 1992

Crack­ing Taran­ti­no (Award-win­ning Film From Brazil)

John Irv­ing: The Road Ahead for Aspir­ing Nov­el­ists

Demystifying the Protect IP Act

How to com­bat inter­net pira­cy, the dai­ly theft of copy­right­ed music, films and oth­er dig­i­tal goods? Our con­gres­sion­al lead­ers think they’ve fig­ured it out, and their solu­tion is called the Pro­tect IP Act. The only prob­lem is that the pend­ing leg­is­la­tion cre­ates more prob­lems than it solves. Kir­by Fer­gu­son, cre­ator of the Every­thing is a Remix video series, explains. And The New York Times offers its own objec­tions.…

Beware the Horror of…The Gawper

Abbott and Costel­lo meet Tim Bur­ton in this styl­ish lit­tle trib­ute to clas­sic hor­ror films by the British ani­ma­tion team at A Large Evil Cor­po­ra­tion. (Yes, friends, they’re peo­ple too.) The moon is full and the bell tolls two as a pair of bum­bling grave rob­bers enter a fog­gy grave­yard. What hap­pens next is unspeak­ably sil­ly. The com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed 3D film was direct­ed by Seth Watkins and runs an epic one minute, 28 sec­onds.

Watch the 1953 Animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Narrated by James Mason

Back by pop­u­lar demand, and cer­tain­ly the right video for today’s hol­i­day — the 1953 ani­mat­ed film ver­sion of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” nar­rat­ed by James Mason. Upon its release, the film was giv­en a bizarre recep­tion. In the UK, the British Board of Film Cen­sors gave the film an “x” rat­ing, deem­ing it unsuit­able for adult audi­ences. Mean­while, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was nom­i­nat­ed for the Acad­e­my Award for Best Ani­mat­ed Short Film in the US, though it ulti­mate­ly lost to a Dis­ney pro­duc­tion. The film runs a short 7:24, and now appears in our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

And then we have anoth­er small Hal­loween treat — your favorite actor, Christo­pher Walken, read­ing anoth­er clas­sic Poe sto­ry, The Raven. It’s now added to our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books, and don’t miss oth­er read­ings by Walken right below.

Christo­pher Walken Reads “The Three Lit­tle Pigs”

Christo­pher Walken Reads Lady Gaga

James Franco Reads Short Story in Bed for The Paris Review

James Fran­co gave The Paris Review a hand when he jumped into bed and start­ed read­ing “William Wei,” a short sto­ry pub­lished in a recent edi­tion of the sto­ried lit­er­ary jour­nal. Find a cleaned up audio file here, or in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books.

Last year, the aspir­ing writer and Yale doc­tor­al stu­dent also made a cameo appear­ance in Gary Shteyn­gart’s rather hilar­i­ous video trail­er for his nov­el, Super Sad True Love Sto­ry.

A short sto­ry by Fran­co, “Just Before the Black,” appears in Esquire. His fic­tion col­lec­tion, Palo Alto, can be picked up here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Paris Review Inter­views Now Online

Names of Paris Métro Stops Acted Out: Photos by Janol Apin

A lit­tle fun for any­one who has spent time on the Paris Métro, which car­ries mil­lions of pas­sen­gers through 301 often art­ful­ly-named stops each day. Shot dur­ing the 1990s by Janol Apin, this col­lec­tion of pho­tos takes the names of real sta­tions and acts them out in imag­i­na­tive ways. Enjoy the rest here. H/T @MatthiasRascher

Fol­low us on Face­book and Twit­ter and we’ll keep point­ing you to free cul­tur­al good­ies dai­ly…

Bertrand Russell Explains How Smoking Paradoxically Saved His Life

In 1959, Bertrand Rus­sell, then push­ing 90, could still give a good inter­view. We have pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured vin­tage video of Rus­sell send­ing a mes­sage to peo­ple liv­ing 1,000 years in the future and also con­tem­plat­ing the exis­tence/non-exis­tence of God. Now comes more footage from ’59, and this time he tells us all about how smok­ing a pipe saved his life. It makes for a good anec­dote (get more on his near-death expe­ri­ence here), though not an endorse­ment for tak­ing up the habit.…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bertrand Russell’s Ten Com­mand­ments for Liv­ing in a Healthy Democ­ra­cy

Bertrand Rus­sell & Oth­er Big Thinkers in BBC Lec­ture Series (Free)

Down­load Free Cours­es from Famous Philoso­phers: From Bertrand Rus­sell to Michel Fou­cault

Bertrand Rus­sell Lists His 20 Favorite Words in 1958 (and What Are Some of Yours?)

Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, a Halloween Treat

Over the years, when Roman Polan­s­ki was asked to name the film he was hap­pi­est with, his answer was sur­pris­ing: The Fear­less Vam­pire Killers.

The film was a com­mer­cial and crit­i­cal flop when it was released in 1967, and Polan­s­ki was furi­ous when MGM chopped 20 min­utes out of the movie and changed the title from Dance of the Vam­pires to the far­ci­cal The Fear­less Vam­pire Killers, or Par­don Me, But Your Teeth Are In My NeckA review­er for The New York Times pro­nounced the film “as dis­mal and dead as a blood-drained corpse.”

But as the years went by, Polan­s­ki pro­fessed a fond­ness for it. “The film reminds me of the hap­pi­est time of my life,” he told Le Nou­v­el Obser­va­teur in 1984. “It’s Proust’s Madeleine to the pow­er of a thou­sand. All my mem­o­ries come flood­ing back in one shot.” Polan­s­ki fell in with actress Sharon Tate while film­ing on a sound­stage in Eng­land and on loca­tion in the Ital­ian Alps.

Polan­s­ki also liked the film because it was unpre­ten­tious. He told Cahiers du Ciné­ma in 1969, “As a film­mak­er who wants to show some­thing inter­est­ing or new cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly speak­ing, I made Cul-de-sac. But for those peo­ple who want to go to the cin­e­ma for two hours and have a good time, I made The Fear­less Vam­pire Killers.”

Some view­ers have protest­ed that the film is not espe­cial­ly fun­ny or scary. Polan­s­ki said his inten­tion was to cre­ate a kind of cin­e­mat­ic fairy tale, a fan­ta­sy adven­ture. “I want­ed to tell a roman­tic sto­ry that was fun­ny and fright­en­ing at the same time,” he told Posi­tif in 1969. “These are the things we like to see when we’re chil­dren. We go to the fun­fair, sit in the ghost train, and hope to be fright­ened. When we laugh or get goose-pim­ples at the same time it’s a pleas­ant feel­ing because we know there’s no real dan­ger.”

The film tells the sto­ry of the eccen­tric Pro­fes­sor Abron­sius (Jack McGowran) and his young appren­tice Alfred (Polan­s­ki) as they ven­ture into Tran­syl­va­nia in search of vam­pires. They arrive at an iso­lat­ed Jew­ish inn, where a hap­less pro­pri­etor (Alfie Bass) has trou­ble keep­ing tabs on his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter (Tate).

“In the film there’s an East­ern Euro­pean cul­ture which was des­o­lat­ed by the Ger­mans and that’s been killed off for good thanks to Pol­ish Stal­in­ism,” Polan­s­ki told Posi­tif. “It’s the kind of thing that you can see in the work of fig­ures like Cha­gall and Isaac Babel, and also in cer­tain Pol­ish paint­ings. This cul­ture, which nev­er reap­peared after the war, is part of my child­hood mem­o­ries. There just aren’t any tra­di­tion­al Jews in Poland any more.”

There are some beau­ti­ful, dream­like moments in The Fear­less Vam­pire Killers. The open­ing scene, in which the pro­tag­o­nists are pur­sued by a pack of wild dogs, evokes the sort of child­hood night­mare in which we find our­selves unable to call out for help. In anoth­er scene, a hunch­back uses a cof­fin as a sled, glid­ing over the curv­ing hills like a sur­re­al Norel­co San­ta.

The Fear­less Vam­pire Killers is good fun as long as you fol­low the direc­tor’s lead and don’t take it too seri­ous­ly. This ver­sion (which has been added to our col­lec­tion of Free Movies) runs one hour and 43 min­utes. The Amer­i­can the­atri­cal release ran one hour and 28 min­utes, so it appears that most of the miss­ing footage has been restored. Make some pop­corn, turn down the lights and enjoy the film!

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.