Wednesday, March 09, 2016

No Rules

First rule of film is there are no rules. OK, there are rules, and it helps to know them, but once you know them, you can break them. There is a cinematic language, there is a way of doing things that makes sense, and it's best to understand that, so you don't spend a lot of time and money making crap, which will only delay you in the long run.

Here are some links to people who know what they're talking about. Filmmakers and teachers alike. People who taken the time to understand the craft of filmmaking, and it is a craft, things go together to make a final, finished product, and the more you study, the stronger and more beautiful the finished article will be:

Billy Wilder

This interview is a little dated, the questions are badly dubbed, and the sound isn't great, but if you ignore all that, everything Billy Wilder says is pure gold. Lots of great anecdotes, but also great advice about writing, and who better to learn from that one of the all time masters.

Every Frame a Painting

Short essays by film buff Tony Zhou, these little films are very well put together and really get you thinking about film form and how cinema works. They're energetic and inspiring.

Criterion Collection Closet

Strange one, but I love movies, and I love DVDs and Blu-rays. They might seem outmoded now, but for me it's the tangible aspect, and the instant access memory. When I see a wall of my DVDs, I can grab a box, or even just look at the title on the side of the box, and instantly access that movie in my mind, and everything it means to me, everything I learned from it. When it's on a hard drive I can't to that. The connection from our hands to eyes is important, it's in everything we do, especially as filmmakers, as people who make stuff, we use out hands and our eyes in sync. I like watching great filmmakers do that same thing, I love watching them light up as they talk about their favorite movies and it's good for suggestion of what to watch. I've discovered so many great films from these suggestions.

Stanley Kubrick

This short speech when Stanley Kubrick received the Life Time Achievement Award from the DGA says a lot, he even manages to redefine a thousands year old myth. - here's something to think about as well when think of Kubrick, who we all agree is one of the all time great cinematic masters: In 1953 Stanley Kubrick made the not-so-great "Fear and Desire", 3 years later he made the brilliant "The Killing", a year after that he made his first masterpiece - "Paths of Glory". 4 years, from wannabe indie filmmaker to legendary cinematic master. Vision and Persistence pay off. Don't give up. Keep at it. Believe and be better. Build Better Wings.

When I'm gearing up for a film, or feeling somewhat stagnant, these are the people I seek out, listen to, learn from. But for me, doing is learning, and nothing will be greater learning experience then going out and making a film. In the meantime, you should start to get yourself ready, and if you're in the waiting place, in between productions, it's important to keep the mind sharp, to remember and to be inspired.

I always think you need to surround yourself with the artifacts of you craft, find a space, a room, a workshop, a studio, and office, a corner of the bedroom, and fill it with books, and images, and scripts, and pencils, a notebooks and thing you can see and touch and go to. These things are time capsules, instant access memory folders, feeding you and reminding you. And part of that is constantly seeking to feed that hunger to create.

And of course there are many others things you can do to be a better filmmaker,  that don't involve the specific study of film. For one, read - read, read, read, anything and everything, not just books on filmmaking, in fact, read as few of those as possible, there are a couple of good ones, but mainly they're just other people's ideas of how to do it, what you want to do is find your own way of doing things. To that end, read, live and think. If you read, you will think, your imagination will be set alight, your mind expanded, you will be taken on a journey to places you did not expect, or could have gone on had you not opened that door.

Not only is it important to open the door and take the journey in you mind, but it is important to do that in real life too. Open the fucking door and take a walk. Get out of the house.  Get out of your head. We have these bodies so we don't have to stay in our heads, we can move around, spending too much time up there will drive you mad. Walk the town, the country road, the mountain pass, let nature blow the cob webs out, you will be refreshed and reinvigorated. Listen, listen to nature, to people, eaves drop on conversation, you don't know where they might lead.

Listen to music, see a concert, see live music, feel it. Go to a gallery, look at art, face to face, not on a fucking computer screen, stand nose to nose with a great work of a master and study the brushstrokes. Remember that Rembrandt stood where you're standing now with a brush in his hand and painted it. His breath were yours now filled the air, and touched the canvas. Living as you are and being present. Be present.

Get a job. Sorry, I know, t's not what an artist wants to hear and I'm not your Dad! But, the dole it's a drain on the soul. Believe me, I know, I was on it for years, thinking it was what I needed to have the time to make films. But you're being paid by the succubus that is the government to exist, and only that, endowed but indebted by them to jump through whatever jobs-bridge free-work scheme they can come up with to remind you that they own you for this measly pittance they put in your hand one minute, and take out the next. A job will give you more money, give you a sense that it is your money, give you a sense of pride and purpose and give you wealth of stories. Think about it.

I mean, aren't all your best stories the one's about the shitty job you worked, aren't all your best characters the ones you worked with on those shitty jobs. You won't be there forever, I promise, because you've got enough ambition and drive to get you there. Build your craft, in the morning before work, on your lunch break, in the evening,  read and write and shoot on the weekend. All the little pieces will eventually build your dream into a reality. Life, and what happens in it, will always be your biggest source of material and inspiration.

No comments: