How not to film a sex scene

Adam StockhausenThe last three years have been profitable for production designer Adam Stockhausen. Academy Award nominations for “12 Years a Slave” in 2014 and this year for “Bridge of Spies” bookended his win for Wes Anderson’s kitsch caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2015. Stockhausen built Anderson’s fictional European nation of Zubrowka from the ground up, from hotel interiors to prisons to Mendl’s pastry shop — largely avoiding CGI in the process. Cue cardboard trains and copious amounts of fishing line.

BlaxploitationGeared towards a black urban audience, Blaxploitation flicks from the 1970s have always been met with ambivalence. Were they a symbol of black empowerment or did they merely perpetuate black stereotypes held by white people? What no one can dispute is the subgenre’s legacy when it comes to music and fashion on screen. Isaac Hayes’ iconic theme to “Shaft” won him an Oscar, and Pam Grier (pictured in Tarantino’s Blaxploitation revival “Jackie Brown”) never looked better than in wide collar and flairs.

CannesThe vehicle which launched a thousand careers, the Cannes Film Festival is the world’s preeminent showcase for new cinema. Founded in 1946, the 69th festival is set to kick-off with Woody Allen’s latest feature “Café Society” and will showcase directors from 16 nations in its official selection, among them Pedro Almodovar, Asghar Farhadi and perennial favorite Ken Loach. This year’s President of the Jury George Miller is riding high off the back of commercial and critical hit “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and will be joined by the likes of Valeria Golino, Mads Mikkelsen and Katayoon Shahabi in deciding the coveted Palme d’Or.

DriveNicolas Winding Refn won the Best Director Award at Cannes in 2011 for his neon-lit neo-noir, but perhaps its greatest legacy is the revival of the bomber jacket. Ryan Gosling’s unnamed central character patrols the mean streets of Echo Park, Los Angeles sporting a satin jacket that bears a large golden scorpion on its back. Many hyper-violent incidents later and the jacket isn’t quite as pristine as when the opening titles rolled, and yet Gosling manages to look effortlessly cool in his blood-splattered bomber. Everyone from the catwalk to high street took note.

Edith Head The undisputed queen of costume design was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won eight times — three more times than her nearest rival Irene Sharaff. Her considerable filmography includes long term collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock (“Vertigo”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”) and an uneasy alliance with Hubert de Givenchy, between them crafting the wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. But it was the controversy that surrounded “Sabrina” that remains the most notable tale from their relationship. Hepburn wore Givenchy throughout the film whilst Head took a back seat — it was the latter, however, who claimed the Oscar.

FrameFilms are called films for a reason: the photosensitive emulsion-coated plastic strips that were once used to capture all still and moving images. Broken down to their individual frames they are a thing of exquisite beauty, and impossible to replicate whatever digital trickery is at hand. Perhaps that’s why there’s a group of directors who refuse to move on from the medium; people like Christopher Nolan and J.J. Abrams shooting blockbusters on film, and Todd Haynes, who used a mix of 16mm and 8mm film to give a grainy, period look to last year’s “Carol”.

Grand GuignolWithout Grand Guignol the horror movie genre could have turned out very differently — and plenty of make-up artists would be out of a job. What started in a Parisian theatre in the late nineteenth century migrated to cinema in the silent movie era, and brought with it its dark themes of death, decay and psychological torture. Classics such as “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (pictured) dealt with grisly murders via sideshow freaks, whilst Sir Christopher Lee’s star turn in Hammer Horror “Dracula” showed the influence of the genre in the era of the talkies. Amid all the grizzle and gore, a legion of make-up artists were pioneering grotesque realism for the big screen — some of it laughable now, but terrifying at the time.

Industrial Light & MagicEven “Star Wars” haters — they exist somewhere, we’ve heard — cannot argue the space opera didn’t generate a fantastic by-product: Industrial Light & Magic. Founded by George Lucas in 1975, the company is responsible for some of the greatest special effects to grace the silver screen. From “Indiana Jones” to “Harry Potter”, “Jurassic Park” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s few CGI extravaganzas that IL&M haven’t had a hand in. Perhaps that’s why long-term IL&M employee and visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren currently has the most Academy Awards of any living person: nine.

Jennifer LawrenceForbes Magazine’s best-paid actress of 2015 earned $52 million last year. The 25-year-old Academy Award winner and star of the Hunger Games and X-Men franchises is also bucking the gender inequality trend. After the 2014 Sony Entertainment hacks revealed Lawrence was paid significantly less than male cast members for her Oscar-nominated turn in “American Hustle”, it’s now reported she is commanding a paycheck $8 million more than her co-star Chris Pratt in upcoming space blockbuster “Passengers”.

Emmanuel LubezkiMexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is the most in-demand man behind the camera right now. On a hot streak of three back-to-back Academy Awards he was the cinematographer who recreated weightlessness in “Gravity”, tricked the mind into believing “Birdman” was shot in one take and captured the majesty of Midwest America in “The Revenant”. For the latter Lubezki shot predominantly in the magic hours after dawn and before dusk, painting a dream-like impression of the hostile frontier which evaporated whenever the camera found itself inches from DiCaprio’s face, his breath steaming up the lens. Rumors abound that Lubezki’s new project “Weightless”, his latest collaboration with Terrence Malick, could be on its way to Cannes.

MiniaturesIt’s all very well and good to have giant plywood sets in Hollywood backlots, but sometimes what’s required is a miniature. High-quality models have long been a staple of filmmaking, with clever cinematography often belying the size of the miniature. Take the cargo ship in Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”: a 20-foot long model, a low camera angle and actors stood a quarter of a mile away. More recently “The Lord of the Rings” used large miniatures — dubbed ‘bigatures’ — such as the 23-foot high, 1/72 scale city of Minas Tirith — filming the models before digitally inserting actors into the scene.

New Wave No one exemplified the qualities of French New Wave cinema more than Jean-Luc Godard. Operating in the 1960s and ’70s, the director was one of a group of continental filmmakers who abandoned the studios and turned their cameras on real locations with a focus on contemporary issues. Conservative filmmaking was thrown out of the window and cinema became the medium New Wave directors could use to meditate on complicated, abstract concepts. European art house cinema would never be the same.

OscarsIf Cannes is the pinnacle of the international film calendar, the Academy Awards is the zenith of Hollywood razzmatazz. First held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929 with 270 attendees, the event has since ballooned and is now live-streamed to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Nearly 3,000 statuettes have been handed out across 88 ceremonies. Normally plated in 24-carat gold there have been some exceptions however: for three years during the Second World War, winners made do with painted plaster awards because of a shortage in metals.

Quentin Tarantino Auteur or enfant terrible (or both): Quentin Tarantino has been called many things throughout his career. What no one can deny is that the writer/director/perennial cameo-maker is above all a film nerd — and his films are all the better for it. Whether he’s dressing The Bride in “Kill Bill” in an homage to Bruce Lee’s tracksuit in “Game of Death”, or having Butch in “Pulp Fiction” in a suede jacket astride a chopper like “Easy Rider”, the director knows his stuff and is willing to flex that muscle in the costume department.

Red carpetThe ubiquitous symbol of the premier and the awards season, the red carpet sits deep within the lexicon of cinema. What to the untrained mind is merely entering a venue has taken on a spectacle to match the exploits of the big screen over the years. Get it right and you’ll be lauded until the next occasion it’s rolled out. Get it wrong and you’ll be condemned for ever. (See: Bjork’s swan dress, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink strappy number and Cher — on multiple occasions.)

Stop-motionA craft pursued by arguably the most patient members of the industry, stop-motion animators are a special breed. A full 10-hour day can yield as little as two and a half seconds of usable footage, with animators painstakingly constructing each frame by moving scenery, bodies, even the hairs on models’ heads. A technique that has rebuffed the advances of the digital age, it’s still being used in high-brow films such as Charlie Kaufman’s existential drama “Anomalisa” from 2016.

Tom FordFashion’s renaissance man confirmed his filmmaking credentials with 2009’s beautiful (and impeccably dressed) “A Single Man”, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. Not only was Colin Firth’s gay professor George Falconer sharp-suited, he also lived in a house designed by John Lautner, the architect’s first after leaving the tutelage of Frank Lloyd Wright. Ford also served as producer on “A Single Man”, financing the film itself, a bold move later justifying with a bevy of award nominations. All eyes will be on his follow up “Nocturnal Animals” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, principal photography for which wrapped in December last year.

Ursula Andress The original Bond girl first strode out of the sea over 50 years ago, and every subsequent conquest of 007’s has been playing catch-up ever since. As Honey Ryder Andress represented the burgeoning liberation of female sexuality in her white bikini, designed by Tessa Prendergast. Sales of two pieces soared shortly after, and decades later the Bond franchise, perhaps acknowledging the debt owed to Andress’ sultry scene, chose to recreate it with Halle Berry in “Die Another Day”, and then subvert it with Daniel Craig rising from the waves in “Casino Royale”.

Vivienne Westwood The British fashion legend is best known for her role in bringing the punk movement to the fore. What you may not be aware is that she also dressed Miss Piggy. It’s far from her only film collaboration — she provided costumes for “Leaving Las Vegas” — but Westwood went all-out for the diminutive puppet in “The Muppets Most Wanted”, designing four outfits including a tweed suit and a fittingly flamboyant wedding dress. Let’s hope Kermit appreciated it.

Harvey WeinsteinWhen it comes to award season lobbying, no one does it better than Harvey Weinstein. The former head of Miramax clearly has an eye for a good film — he was the man who nurtured the talents of Tarantino after all — and these days he’s just as likely to be casting his eyes on the runway, rubbing shoulders with the Wintours of this world. However it’s from December through February when the producer comes into his own. His ability to sell a film to Academy voters is legendary — a man who was able to convince audiences that “Shakespeare in Love” was worthy of Best Picture over “Saving Private Ryan”.

X-rated“Midnight Cowboy”, “A Clockwork Orange”, “Last Tango in Paris”: all great films and at one time, all X-rated for their adult content. In the extreme case of “A Clockwork Orange”, it would be 27 years until the full unedited version was available in the United Kingdom, due to its very public withdrawal by Warner Brothers when crimes were alleged to have been inspired by the film. Burdened with the infamous rating films often struggled with distribution, leading to studios pursuing edits that could pass for the more relaxed and socially acceptable R rating (which allowed supervised minors to be admitted into theaters). Confusion surrounding pornography’s use of the term ‘X-rated’ led to it eventually being scrapped, replaced with NC-17 in the U.S.

Sean Young Proving that Tech Noir can be soft around the edges, Sean Young as Rachael in “Blade Runner” was a dream frame on which to drape all manner of outfits. Costume Designer Michael Kaplan evoked sharp tailoring from the 1940s with wide shoulder padding, while drawing for audacious furs in metallic threads. Planting one foot in the noir past and another striding forward to the techy future, Young’s prim appearance provided hints as to Rachael’s true nature, as a robotic ‘replicant’ brought up to think she was human.

ZoolanderNo film has so successfully aped the fashion industry as “Zoolander”. Whether it was the inability of supermodels to turn in both directions or the vacuous nature of their lifestyles, Ben Stiller’s moronic creation found resonance in a community not above self-ridicule. In the original the late, great David Bowie stood in as a referee for an underground catwalk battle, Milla Jovovich became a villain’s enforcer and Donatella Versace, Claudia Schiffer and Tyson Beckford, amongst countless others, showed their faces. By the time a sequel was announced, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson appearing in character at Paris Fashion Week 2015, the industry was eating out of the palm of their hands, begging for a second helping of satire.

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