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>  News Releases >   2005 >   November

Filmmaking luminaries speak with students

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 11/11/05 • Contact Susan Knapp (603) 646-3661

In Hanover to receive the Dartmouth Film Award from the Dartmouth Film Society, director Sidney Lumet spent some time with students, along with his longtime friend Walter Bernstein, a member of the Dartmouth class of 1940, who is a screenwriter. They sat in on a few classes and offered their thoughts on the business and craft of moviemaking.

Sidney Lumet talks with Filmmaking II students
Director Sidney Lumet talks with students in James Brown's Filmmaking II class (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

"Good work comes from inner conviction," Lumet said when asked about what makes a good movie. "The key is honesty."

"See as many movies as you can," said Bernstein in response to a student's question about how to be a successful screenwriter. "Find out what attracts you, what repels you. ... And then you have to write, just write; write without any expectation of what might happen. ... Don't read screenplays; watch the movies and write." He added that there are three things that are important: character, conflict, and meaning. All of his work, he said, needs to have these three things.

Bernstein, who was blacklisted in 1950, first worked with Lumet in live television, on a program called "Danger." He and Lumet went on to work together on two films, That Kind of Woman (1959) and Fail-Safe (1964).

During one discussion with students, the topics ranged from the level of control Lumet has over his films, to how screenplays find their way to production.

Lumet talked briefly about the effect of the musical score on his film Murder on the Orient Express (1974). He said it helped add a lyrical and somewhat lighthearted, eccentric feel to the movie. He also discussed how his movie Daniel (1983), based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, was ignored by major media critics, which he said had an impact on how widely the movie was released.

Bernstein spoke about how he turned his real-life experience of being blacklisted into the semi-autobiographical comedy The Front (1976). He and a colleague sent the screenplay to Woody Allen, who liked it and eventually starred in it. With Allen's endorsement, the film was made, and it earned an Oscar nomination for Bernstein.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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