Here at HeyUGuys, we aim to provide you with an all-encompassing look into the world of film. Whether you’re a fully-fledged cineaste, or just possess a casual interest, there’s something for anyone with our alternative A-Z of cinema, which starts today and runs through the week.

If you’ve ever wondered just what it is an Executive Producer does, or maybe if you’ve heard the ambient sounds of Tangerine Dream in an 80’s film favourite without knowing who you were listening to, this is the list for you!

Underground Film is a label which refers to a feature which exists outside the mainstream either in its style, genre or financing. The first use of the term was coined in a 1957 essay by famed American film critic Manny Farber, entitled Underground Films.

In the late 1950s, underground film was used to describe early independent filmmakers working in San Francisco, California and New York City. Leading figures who grew out of that era included Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, Jack Smith and Bruce Conner. By the late 1960’s filmmakers within the movement began to employ terms like avant-garde or experimental to describe their work.

Through both the 1970’s and 80’s the term would still be used to refer to the more countercultural fringe of independent cinema. Pink Flamingos (John Water’s transgressive tour de force from 1972) is an example of an underground film that, due to its notorious content, found a bigger, cult-like audience and become a permanent fixture on the Midnight Movie circuit.

Vittorio Storaro (1940-) is widely regarded as one of the masters of modern cinematography. By using and adapting the premise inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s theory of colours (which focuses, in part, on the psychological effects different colours have) throughout his own work, Storaro has influenced a whole generation of DoP’s.

One of his most famous and recognised work is in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam odyssey, Apocalypse Now. While many of the cast and crew were losing their heads (director included) Storaro soldiered on, imbuing the film with a bold visual landscape which undoubtedly attributed to a large part of it’s success.

Other equally productive collaborations with filmmakers from Coppola’s era have included Bernardo Bertolucci (Storaro shot his 1970 masterpiece The Conformist) and Warren Beatty. His oeuvre also includes the likes of 1900 Last Tango in Paris, Bulworth, The Sheltering Sky and Dick Tracy. He received Oscars for Reds (1981) and The Last Emperor (1987).

Waking Life is a 2001 feature from Slacker director Richard Linklater which explores the nature of dreams and the sub-conscious. Like his aforementioned 1991 debut, this film has a similar loose and free-wheeling structure, which is composed of various scenes where people muse over their place in the universe and what their purposes are within it.

The film is also known for its use of the rotoscoping animation technique. To achieve this, the animators overlaid the live action footage shot by Linklater (frame by frame) with animation, lending the film a surreal and dream-like quality of its own. Linklater fans will also note that the director has a couple of familiar faces amongst the ensemble. Dazed and Confused’s Wiley Wiggins plays the protagonist, while Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their characters from Before Sunrise for one scene.

Waking Life premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2001, and Linklater would later apply the same effect (with a bigger budget) for his 2002 Philip K. Dick adaptation, A Scanner Darkly.

X-rating. The original X certificate in the UK was issued between 1951 and 1982 by the British Board of Film Censors. From 1951 to 1970, it classified as being “Suitable for those aged 16 and over”. From 1970 to 1982 it was redefined as “Suitable for those aged 18 and over.” The X certificate was replaced in 1982 by the 18 certificate.

In the United States, the X-rating originally referred a film with extreme content that was for adults only, with no concessions made for minors.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) is the first and only X-rated film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Cult sci-fi comic book shoot em’ up RoboCop was originally given an X rating by the MPAA for scenes of “excessive violence” and director Paul Verhoeven (no stranger to controversy) had to remove the blood and gore from the most violent scenes for the film to receive an “R” rating.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too) is a 2001 Mexican coming-of-age/road movie. Directed by Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuarón, it follows the exploits of two male horny adolescents who end up taking a trip with an older woman to a beautiful, secret beach called Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth). During the journey, the duo’s playful and care-free outlook of life is challenged as painful truths are revealed and untapped emotions surface.

As well as being known for its frank and refreshing depiction of sexuality, it also launched the careers of both Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, who teamed up again in 2008 for comedy drama Rudo y Cursi. Their companion on the trip is played by Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, who was Ofelia’s weak-willed mother in Pan’s Labyrinth.

The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards (Cuarón co-write it with younger brother, Carlos), as well as receiving a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards that same year.

Zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words “zoe” (which means life) and “tropos” (turning).

It consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. Beneath the slits on the inner surface of the cylinder is a band which has either individual frames from a video/film or images from a set of sequenced drawings or photographs. As the cylinder spins the user looks through the slits at the pictures on the opposite side of the cylinder’s interior. The earliest elementary zoetrope was created in China around 180 AD.

American Zoetrope (the studio founded by Francis Ford Coppola in 1969) was named after the device. In 2008 a UK visual effects house built a 10 meter wide, 10 tonne zoetrope for a Sony promotional exercise, which has since been declared the largest in the world by Guinness World Records.

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Adam Lowes
Mild-mannered civilian by day, passionate cinephile and dedicated blogger at night, my obsession began with seeing the image of Luke staring wistfully at the two stars of Tatooine, and 30-plus years later, that love have never wavered.