Watch: What Role Does a MacGuffin Serve?

This video explains what the briefcase in 'Pulp Fiction,' the rabbit's foot in 'Mission Impossible III,' and the titular statue from 'The Maltese Falcon' have in common.

Every story needs a starting point, a thing for our characters to want, a goal to pursue. These wants can be as varied as true love, fame and fortune, the identity of the myysterious killer, and on and on. In some stories, however, the thing the characters seek, is well...nothing at all.

Well, it exists, but its existence is, in the words of Alfred Hitchcock, "nonexistent." If this sounds confusing, it's because the thing we are seeking is the elusive MacGuffin, a term coined by the master of suspense and explained in the below video from Fandor. Check it out, and read more about the MacGuffin below.

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Not a Trick Question: What Do ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Have in Common?

Goodfellas and Boogie Nights are more similar than you might think. These videos take a deep dive.

Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights were arguably two of the most stylistically influential Hollywood films of the '90s. Two new videos from Daniel Netzel (AKA Film Radar) and Entertain the Elk examine different aspects of the relationship between the two films. For Scorsese, Goodfellas was considered a triumphant return to form after a decade that started with the triumph of Raging Bull and then meandered through quirky one-offs like After Hours (which is, for the record, superb), his first Hollywood hit, The Color of Money, and the controversy of The Last Temptation of Christ.

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Watch: The Secret to the Success of ‘Mission Impossible’ is Not Just Tom Cruise’s Stunts

Mission Impossible: Fallout and its storied franchise masterfully use heist movie conventions to drive story.

As Michael Tucker of Lessons from the Screenplay admits at the start of this video, the release of every new Mission Impossible film is accompanied by lots of buzz about whatever new and "crazy, incredibly dangerous" stunts Tom Cruise has undertaken without the use of doubles (the latest film features a HALO jump from over 25 thousand feet.) And though these high-flying shenanigans might come across as a way for an adrenaline junkie to get his jollies while being paid a great of deal money—and to cause one to see the films as mere "flashy action movies"—the secret of the MI franchise, according to Tucker's latest video, is that it's actually made up of a series of heist films. Read on to see how the filmmakers employ this genre, and how it helps drive the stories forward.

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Hans Zimmer on How to Be a Composer with ‘No Technique and No Formal Education’

Hans Zimmer, the legendary Academy-Award winning composer of over 150 films, breaks down his most famous work.

[Editor's Note: Although it may appear that the same video is being featured several times throughout this article, we've actually set each specific one to the timecode of when Zimmer brings up an example of a particular movie. While the video's thumbnail may appear the same for each, click play and you will be taken to a specific portion of the lengthy conversation].

During the course of Hans Zimmer's career, the German-born composer has worked with directors from Christopher Nolan to Terrence Malick, and composed scores in every conceivable genre, from animated films (The Lion King, for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Score) to action movies (Crimson Tide) and blockbusters like The Dark Knight trilogy.

Earlier this month, during a talk presented by BAFTA at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Zimmer sat down with Tommy Pearson to look at clips from some of his most famous films and share some insights from his four decades in film.

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Watch: Breaking Down the Amazing In-Camera Effects of ‘Blade Runner’

Cinematographers Nic Knowland and Geoff Boyle analyze Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' and explain the craft behind the imagery.

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is one of the most beloved sci-fi films ever made. The film is celebrated for its story (courtesy of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), performances from Harrison Ford, Sean Young and Rutger Hauer, and, of course, the cinematic vision of Neo Tokyo, a futuristic megalopolis brought to life through the art direction of David Snyder and the cinematography of Jordan Cronenworth.

In the video below from CookeOptics TV, veteran DPs Nic Knowland and Geoff Boyle break down their favorite moments from the classic film, expounding on the techniques used to bring the world of 2019 (which was, in 1982, slightly further than the six months away it is now) to life on the big screen.

A Lamp on a Dimmer

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Watch: Stanley Kubrick on Why Films Should be More Like Commercials

On what would have been his 90th birthday, we're highlighting this video that shares Stanley Kubrick's thoughts on a number of thought-provoking topics.

Stanley Kubrick was born in the Bronx on July 26, 1928, and in his 70 years on this planet, made 13 feature films, many of which are considered among the best ever made. In honor of his birthday today, we share this video from MUST SEE FILMS that features the director's thoughts on, well, many subjects.

Check the video out below, along with a few videos featuring little-seen footage, such as the documentary his daughter made during the production of The Shining.

On What Makes a Movie Disappointing

"Movies are not disappointing because they're disappointing visually. They're disappointing because they're boring and there's nothing about them that really gets to you or gets to your imagination."

"Movies are not disappointing because they're disappointing visually. They're disappointing because they're boring."

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Watch: 3 Tips for Multi-Camera Shooting From ‘The Hurt Locker’ DP Barry Ackroyd

Academy-Award nominated cinematographer Barry Ackroyd discusses the philosophy and merits of his multi-camera shooting style.

A theme of the English cinematographer Barry Ackroyd's career is collaboration. First, there is the matter of his work with directors like Ken Loach, with whom he has shot ten films, Paul Greengrass (with whom he has shot four), and Kathryn Bigelow (two.) There is then the fact that for films as diverse as Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), the DP has brought a unique and team-work heavy style that involves the use of three cameras, extensive handheld work, and artistic use of focus, a style that he expounds on in the below video from CookeOpticsTV.

Check out the video, as well as three insights from the mind of the cinematographer who compares focus-pulling to jazz.

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Watch: 6 Cinematographers on the Future of Their Art

In this video from CookeOpticsTV and the BSC, cinematographers including Guillermo Navarro and John Toll discuss the future of 'cinematography as art.'

Filmmaking's ongoing digital revolution has changed, and so has (over the past 20 years) the entire landscape of filmmaking. Granted, CGI effects have been around for quite some time, but it's only been in the past decade or so that Hollywood has really started to embrace digital cinematography.

According to these stats, the first high-grossing digital films appeared in 2002, but it wasn't until 10 years later that it accounted for half of the top-grossing movies. In the below video, DPs including Guillermo Navarro (Jackie Brown, Pan's Labyrinth), Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, The Painted Veil), and John Toll (The Thin Red Line, Cloud Atlas) provide their opinions on the current state of play (and future) of their craft.

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Three Essential Dynamic Camera Moves and When to Use Them

Camera movement is one of most important tools in any filmmaker's arsenal, but knowing how and why to move is as important as knowing how.

For much of their history, movies didn't move very much at all. For decades following the advent of sync sound, heavy equipment, loud cameras, and studio-bound methods of shooting kept cameras pretty much locked down (with some extremely notable exceptions). The introduction of the Steadicam in the 1970s was a huge step forward, and one key aspect of the digital revolution has been that even directors of the most modest means can take their cameras "off sticks" and move their cameras around with the felicity of Max Ophüls. But just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should, and camera movement can become a stylistic crutch as easily as it can be a stylistic coup.

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Watch: How the Screenplay For ‘Jurassic Park’ Creates Conflict Amongst Its Characters

Here's how 'Jurassic Park' uses its screenplay to do far more than merely showcase dinosaurs.

Ever since the on-screen introduction of Jurassic Park back in 1993, the franchise's main attraction has been those pesky dinosaurs and the hijinx they get up to on that island where nothing could possibly go wrong.

But as this video from Michael Tucker and Lessons from the Screenplay illustrates, what's more important are the way the filmmakers create "interesting characters who are used to explore an important modern theme," presenting what's ultimately more than a typical rollercoaster theme park summer movie.

The Theme

Quoting from the superb Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey into Story by John Yorke, Tucker gives the definition of theme: a theory is posited; an argument explored; a conclusion reached. "That, in a nutshell," says Tucker, "is what theme is," continuing, "Subject matter is a static, given. Theme, on the other hand, is an active exploration of an idea."

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