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Joachim Trier on Film School, Literary Adapations, and Some Advice for Filmmakers

05.27.12 @ 8:38PM Tags : , ,

Joachim Trier, the critically acclaimed Norwegian director of Reprise and the 2011 Cannes entry Oslo, August 31st, knows his way around cinema. From his time at film school to his many festival appearances, he’s garnered the respect of his peers and has earned numerous awards. He sat down with Scott Macaulay of Filmmaker Magazine to talk about Oslo, August 31st, which just opened in theaters, and the conversation shifted to his experiences at film school, literary adaptations, and some advice for amateur filmmakers. The video of that interview is embedded below.

Joachim Trier on Oslo, August 31st:

Something that seems to get lost on a lot of newer filmmakers is the fact that those who become successful in creative positions in the business are lovers of film. Many have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things movies, from actors, to writers, to directors. To make it in the industry as a creative (above the line), it takes incredible dedication. But above all, surrounding yourself with films, of all kinds and in all languages, is the only way to become a well-rounded filmmaker. You may not have to go to film school to learn filmmaking (part of the reason for this site’s existence), but at the very least you need to be constantly watching and studying films. Not just films you think you’ll like, either, because there’s always a potential learning experience you can take away from every single film you can get your hands on.

It’s also not enough to just be watching films, as the most creative people are students at heart, and take inspiration from paintings, novels, and all kinds of art. Being a good filmmaker is not just about learning the ropes, it’s about being a well-rounded person, and Trier certainly believes it has helped him get to where he is today.

[via Filmmaker Magazine]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 45 COMMENTS

  • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 9:21PM

    I will have to disagree. I rarely get around to watching movies any more and I don’t think it’s necessary to excel. That’s like saying a musician will only succeed by listening to other bands.

    I can’t speak for anyone other than my ridiculous self, but I know one of my goals is to create something truly unique. Something completely original. I would argue that becomes harder with the more films you watch since we ALL subconsciously pull on other people’s work for our own (if you say you don’t, you aren’t being honest).

    Not trying to sound like a jerk just wanted to point out that there is an opposite side of the coin on this. I think watching too much film (other peoples work) will cripple any chance of true originality. IMHO. Good article though, just didn’t agree with that one point.

    • Luke, with all respect, how can someone do something truely UNIQUE if he is not AWARE of everything that has been done before? Wathcing tons of films help you know if your idea has already been done, or maybe something similar, and that helps you make your idea different from others.

      • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 9:38PM

        Everything HAS been done. That’s the problem. How many truly original stories do you see any more? One big way filmmakers can set themselves apart is in style. My only thought is that if you are constantly watching other peoples work then you tend to adopt their styles. “Oh, that scene was awesome, I want to do that in my next film”. We have all been there. I totally have!

        How many of the filmmakers you like do you think take the time to watch a ton of other films? They are too busy!

        I don’t think this article is wrong, I’m simply pointing out that not everyone gets inspired by, or watches a ton of movies.

        I get inspired by sitting in the passenger seat of a car, turning on a soundtrack that I like and watching the scenery…no joke! Ha ha. That’s my point though, we all get inspiration from different areas.

    • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 9:32PM

      Spot on about being influenced by other forms of art though (music is my main one). I saw an interview with Ridley Scott where he said that sometimes they music means more to him than the images. I think each filmmaker has their own way of becoming inspired and for some it could be from watching other films. My point is that it doesn’t always come from there.

      • Yes I understand that point, but what I was trying to explain is that, with all the amount of films that are being made all around the world, from all kind, it is very difficult to do something unique, because its highly probable that someone in another place already did it, and that is why you need to constantly be watching every form of movie, to recognize if an idea really hasnt been done before

        • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 9:43PM

          I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m only saying that it’s not how I do things.

          “But above all, surrounding yourself with films, of all kinds and in all languages, is the only way to become a well-rounded filmmaker.”

          I agree with everything except the word “only” in this whole article.

          • I get what you’re saying, but your point about musicians – I’ve never met one or read/watched an interview with one who wasn’t absolutely in love with music and the music from other people. Musicians at the highest level rabidly consume music. All of them subconsciously or consciously take something that has been done before, and make it their own. I think that’s the real idea, that the only way to make something really your own is to understand the language of cinema. If most of your knowledge of filmmaking only comes from doing it, you’re missing out on how others already went through the same stumbling blocks as you and succeeded.

            There isn’t an art form that has existed where the artists at the highest level aren’t inspired by those who have come before, and don’t “borrow” or “steal” ideas subconsciously or consciously. In the history of art this is how it’s always been – one generation influences the next, and they choose what parts they like and what parts they don’t, but it’s never a case of blindly pursuing a particular art form without knowledge of everything else that exists.

            I understand your point, and I appreciate that you want to be truly original, but many would argue that being truly original is taking the language of film that already exists and turning it on its head. If you don’t understand that language thoroughly, I’m not sure how you can do that.

            I don’t say this just from personal experience, as I said above many of the greatest filmmakers of our time live by this – people like Francis Ford Coppola and Jim Jarmusch have been famously quoted as saying this, and both of them are seen as some of the most influential and exciting filmmakers working today. I say well-rounded, because there are other aspects that make you well-rounded, besides watching films. Actually making them for one thing, and also being inspired by other art forms. Being inspired by life in general.

            While this is a terrible analogy, it makes a lot of sense to me – how can you be a good wine taster if you haven’t sampled a little bit of everything out there?

          • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 10:35PM

            I know you didn’t like your own analogy but I would say filmmakers are more “wine makers” and less “wine tasters”. I would argue that to be a good wine maker you need to know what you like in a few wines, maybe what you didn’t like in others and then, most importantly, you need your own inspiration for something original.

            Like I said, I get inspired by something as simple as a note in a song, the feeling before a thunderstorm, or just driving down the road. I have watched enough films to know what I want my “style” to be and I have learned the science and the craft of film making through trial and error and feedback on my work. I personally feel that going about it this way has kept a unique style intact where as if I would have gone to film school it might have vanished into thin air. I don’t think watching a ton of movies will do the same thing, but for me, I stay away from it because I’m afraid it might be the case.

            That being said, I will see The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, and The Hobbit and most likely will be inspired :)

          • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 10:43PM

            Also Joe, when most of the filmmakers I like are asked “What advice do you have for young filmmakers”, they generally say to go out and make movies, not to watch a bunch of them.

            That is my argument. You will learn a lot more from creating then you will from watching what others have created. That is just my semi-humble opinion. :)

            • I mean I hear a lot of both – watching and making. I think the reason most would say go out and make them, is because few actually get that far. I mean my point is that you can’t learn film theory from making movies – you learn the nuts and bolts, but there’s a lot that’s missing when you haven’t fully mastered the language. We can surely agree to disagree, I’ve got no problems with different points of view. :)

              As for filmmakers watching movies, I know many, many working filmmakers who are constantly watching movies and other media. Having worked for Ridley Scott, I know that he voraciously consumes media of all sorts, certainly movies chief among those. There are few people at his level who work as much as he does, especially at his age, so I don’t think it’s necessarily true that they are too busy for movies. For many, the love of movies is what got them there in the first place.

          • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 11:31PM

            I’m in the minority and I know that, but I think we, as a generation, are turning into office chair critics. We all talk a big game on the internet but how many of us are actually out there doing stuff? The people that are in the business are not on these forums talking, ever. You won’t get to where you want to go by watching a bunch of movies. You will get there by getting off your ass and creating. Plain and simple. That’s how I feel and it’s how I operate.

          • The obvious point here is that cinema is unlike music or literature — there simply isn’t the same scope for development. In a not entirely ridiculous sense, if you’ve seen one movie, you’ve seen them all. And most of us, by adulthood, have seen thousands, far too many. As for “mature” moviegoing — ask yourself how many indispensable cinematic experiences you have in these times.

            There’s a lot to be said, these days, for shutting out the world of cinema, though other art forms can be highly stimulative for the filmmaker.

    • You have to watch movies to make movies. The film language you compose with is a consequence of watching movies, and becomes more sophisticated with each film you watch. All the greatest filmmakers are film lovers, without exception. Tell me your favorite filmmakers and I will confirm it with interview quotations.

      • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 12:19AM

        Close. The language becomes more sophisticated with each movie you MAKE. That’s like saying basketball makes you better at basketball. PRACTICING basketball makes you better at basketball. Anyone who has ever played a sport knows this to be true. Same goes for music. Practicing makes you better than listening.

        • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 12:20AM

          *watching basketball

          • But it does, in a way.

            In almost all sporting careers, the coach has the players watch replays of the team to learn their tactics, and to get a “feel” of them. That way when they get on the court they are vastly more prepared than if they went in blind. They also watch their own replays to see where they can improve and where they’re already excelling.

            Watching movies doesn’t mean you’ll be good at making movies. That would be silly. But making movies doesn’t mean you’ll be good at making movies either. Lots of people make movies and continue to make the same mistakes over and over because they don’t know they’re making them! But watching AND making movies can do only good things.

        • As Pacino says in the 3rd Godfather, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Thankfully you are a rational person, because this would get fairly ugly, but watching sports does actually make you better at those sports – maybe not necessarily physically – the more you are exposed to it, the more situations you can watch, the better you’ll be at recognizing them when they happen to you. The best way to learn how to do something the right way is to watch a professional do it. The sport that can really actually improve your game is baseball, because there is so much going on (even though it doesn’t seem like it). Learning when to throw certain pitches in different situations from Major League pitchers is extremely helpful. You can also watch how a professional hitter swings or how a particular fielder gets rid of the ball on a double play. You have to love the internet, though, there’s nothing you can say without someone having a problem with it somewhere. But I appreciate the back and forth, and your opinion on things – just figured I’d play devil’s advocate with the sports analogy because that one comes from personal experience.

          • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 2:29AM

            Yes, the sports analogy back fired on me a bit :) I would argue that watching game tape does a lot…until you start playing the game and everyone generally reverts back to muscle memory.

            My opinion on this boils down to the simple fact that I only TRULY learn through trial and error. That goes with everything in my life. I could watch someone do something a million times and not know how to do it. At the same time, I could figure it out myself after one try just through the act of doing it.

            Not everyone is built this way and I know that. That’s the beauty of art. There is no right or wrong way to go about it.

            I just believe that you don’t HAVE to watch a ton of movies to be a well rounded filmmaker (depending on your personality). Some filmmakers will benefit a lot more from the act of “doing”.

          • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 2:52AM

            What is “Godfather”?

            • It’s some movie about the guy who is the father of this almighty being. I think, “Who is Pacino?” would be funnier. But I see what you did there, regardless.

          • to really clarify Joe’s point: imagine a chess player who doesn’t study the games of the masters. There’s no such thing as a grand master who doesn’t study master games. Without chess books, there’s no Bobby Fischer.

        • (The language of sport is orders of magnitude lesser in complexity, and it isn’t a form of communication to the audience, per se, so it’s a bad analogy.)

          As a thought experiment, if you only watch all the movies made before 1943, then you would make very different movies today. If you traveled back in time and showed Griffith all the movies from 2010 alone, he would make completely different movies. Movies are your vocabulary and grammar, and they constrain what you can say. No artist creates in a vacuum.

          Now, you may be a genius and think up new forms of cinema, but even the greatest geniuses like Eisenstein didn’t foresee everything. I mean, why does the action genre change suddenly after Peckinpah? If you aren’t watching movies around the time of The Wild Bunch and you make an action movie, your scene construction is going to lack something (unless you innovate it in parallel with him) because he was making additions to the grammar of scene construction – stuff not idiosyncratic to his style, but available to anyone functioning in the medium, because they’re that fundamental.

          The point is that all the innovation is absorbed into your brain (hopefully) and you recombine it in your unique way, but these additions to the language aren’t from the forehead of the creator: they are flavours from the constantly boiling soup of the medium; and if you only watch a few movies, or only a certain kind of movie, your brew will be weak.

      • I think it depends on who you consider a great filmmaker. (Lars) Von Trier has actually stated that he doesn’t watch many films anymore because he knows “his voice” and what he wants to accomplish. And whether I enjoy his films or not, they are most often a function of his individual vision. Does that mean that all his ideas are “original”? Don’t know or care really, as long as the work is honest & specific.

        But that’s my perspective. My favorite Scorcese films are the ones in which he collaborated with Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Last Temptation). I haven’t enjoyed one of his films since the 90′s honestly, but I’m certain of that being a minority position on this site b/c “great filmmaker” or great film usually means something different to me than it does for most aspirants I know. Not a big fan of QT’s work post-Fiction either btw.

        I think watching films that inspire you is paramount, from whatever decade or film movement; however, just hitting the multi-plex each weekend to keep up with the latest trends in CGI when you have no desire to mimic or create the next “Avatar” is pointless imo. Jus’ saying…

  • Well I hope no one goes to watch any of your guys movies because if you don’t support each other by watching each others films then what is the point of making them. It’s very arrogant to say you don’t need or have time to watch movies. It’s such a weak excuse. If you don’t like watching movies then what is the point in making them. That’s the problem with my current generation of filmmakers.They only care about themselves and not the preservation and history of the art of cinema. It’s really sick to see some of these comments. It’s probably why they’re so many garbage films out there because everyone wants to be an “auteur”. And I disagree on some of these comments because most of the great directors have list of movies that must be seen. If you are so busy that you cannot take time to watch a two hour movie then I call that bull crap. It’s really a slap in the face to all of us who make movies.if your not going to watch films then I’ll make sure not to watch any of yours.

    • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 11:20PM

      Who are you to tell someone how to be creatively inspired? I am much more inspired by music and nature. That is how I usually get ideas for a film or story.

      I actually hate my own work and I only do it because it’s a creative outlet. I love the process of it. It’s fun and it’s a learning experience. Is it perfect? No. Would watching 10 films be better for my progress than actually going out and making one short film? HELL NO.

    • Luke Neumann on 05.27.12 @ 11:33PM

      “What is the point of making films if no one watches them”. Classic line. Putting it on my white board for inspiration every day.

      • Luke — dude, I actually agree with you. Methinks there are too many aspiring filmmakers watching WAY TOO MUCH of the same source material in an effort to absorb cinematic language. At a certain point, one’s hard drive becomes full and telling your own stories becomes priority over studying someone else’s. Just depends on what type of director one looks to become. I don’t know Rob but his comment seems off-base…I (personally) think the world needs more “auteurs.”

        But I get where Joe is coming from as well, I just think that you can over-study actually, which can be damaging to one’s development. Just depends on whether your desire & focus is to become an excellent storyteller, or a skilled film-maker, overly focused on the “fireworks,” while overlooking story & performance. Just my observation of things…

        • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 12:08AM

          Hooray! I was starting to think I would be crucified. I agree with Joe on points too. The only part I didn’t was when he said “it is the only way”.

          I learned this early on. My sister and I both took piano lessons and she excelled at the “learning” aspect of it. She knew music theory, she could play and name all of the chords and so on, a very good piano player. I, on the other hand, hated it. I didn’t like being forced to learn something I didn’t care about, I had decent talent but I didn’t take to the technical side at all.

          Many years later I write my own scores for my work using, you guessed it, a keyboard! I can sit down and write a song in half an hour. My sister on the other hand can’t write her own work for the life of her. She can play ANYTHING. Yet when she sees me come up with some piano line she is amazed. She became too reliant on being taught. At some point in her development she relied too much on what other people told her to do and how they told her to do it and it crippled her ability to create on her own.

          Now, if her goal was to be a pianist in a symphony, then she went about it the right way. Just like if you want to simply get a job in the industry, go to film school or rely on how other people tell you to do stuff.

          However, if you want to do something new, unique, and original, you need to break from that mindset at some point.

  • This was a great read. The comments are very amusing. I feel we filmmakers are so sensitive at times. Take things with a grain of salt. I also feel that people didn’t really (study lol) the Trier video that well.

    What Trier said has a lot of hidden meanings. I do think studying films is a smart thing, and I will also try to explain how film and sports go hand and hand.

    Let me get this out of the way, do I think watching a boat load of film is the right thing…NO! Because we lose direction. We lose our path in what we want. It ends up being a bragging point with all our friends. This is why I don’t think going to a million and one blog sites benefits the reader. Your mind will start mashing everything together thoughts become unclear. If anybody studied psych class you know what I am talking about. This plays into the sports world the same way.

    When I played football, we would study film on our opponent the week before and all the way to the day before the game. Here is the kicker, we didn’t just review them but we reviewed ourselves as well. It was to find our flaws, or our glitch in our matrix and try to fix them. Watching all that film wasn’t used as bragging point when talking to non football people. It was to used to learn from past mistakes and better them. The down side was watching to much film. After a while all the plays looked the the same and we would go out to the game and make the same mistakes we before. We learned nothing. We can tell the coach that we watched hour on hours of film, but we just did not execute on what we learned (OverLoad). It’s the same thing with film.

    This goes to my next point in what are you watching and how are you watching it.

    Let’s start with the what. I write a lot of drama scripts, because it’s what I know best. I watch a lot of dramas too, it helps my thinking process. Doesn’t mean I just abandon all other films. It’s HOW i study and watch those other film. Ex: I watched Ryan Connelly’s shot film ‘Tell’ the other day (he did a great job). He showed me things in his (Horror) film that I could take and use in my (Drama film). I didn’t watch the film for that but it just happen that way. I watch Philip DeFranco who has nothing to do with film, but it’s his delivery to his viewers is what I take away. I can use his personality as a character in a comedy film or a thriller.

    The how is very simple. I watched the movie ‘Shame’ Directed by Steve McQueen, (A must watch). I went in watching this film as black male who wants to see how a black director breaks away from the pack of not stereotypical black films. I was drawn in by the cast the lighting the acting, the way he framed a shot with a simplistic touch. What I took away from this movie is that (I or we) don’t need all these flashy camera movements, that all film rules can be broken and blacks need to stop following the normal (Tyler Perry).

    It’s boils down to where you find your impression. When I write a script words flow easier when I listen to Japanese music. When I want to beak from the norm I will study an anime because even in cartoons they follow filmmaking guidelines. Hell I will go play a video game with my friends (who are not filmmakers) and in our convo something might trigger a thought that I can use in my short film.

    I know I went on this huge rant, but I will agree with Joe and Luke. Do you need to watch a boat load of films…again no. But SHOULD you watch film to learn from others…Yes! Hell read a book, go outside watch people do something to learn. The most important thing for creative people is to stay CREATIVE!. We filmmakers also need not get stuck in one point of view. We will end up becoming blind and forget that with a different lens…the scene can be interrupt in more than one way.

    Thank you.

  • Lliam Worthington on 05.28.12 @ 11:38AM

    What a lovely man. Great advice. Thanks for that Joe.



    • Yeah he seems like a cool guy and there’s no ego about him – he’s just full of life – which I admire when I see it in working professionals, because constantly working turns a lot of them bitter about a lot of different things. I guess staying away from Hollywood probably helps him, too.

  • Luke, new ideas do not come from a vacuum, an empty head is an empty head. I believe you are being naive if you believe (I was going to say ,think) your ideas are original, we all build on and are inspired by others work, either consciously or subconsciously.

    • Luke Neumann on 05.28.12 @ 1:53PM

      My ideas are only creative if I’m drawing on my own life. Putting your own voice in your work is the only way it can be truly unique and original. I stated earlier that it’s basically impossible to do now though. I think filmmakers need to set themselves apart though “style”. Cinematography+Music+Writing+Directing+Editing. Most stories have been done, but you can blend together your own mix of those aspects of filmmaking and still come up with a unique voice.

      My only fear is that by watching too many movies you will start subconsciously adopting styles too much. “That scene was awesome! I want to do that in my next movie”.

      I’m totally guilty of it too. I watched “Tree of Life” and I instantly wanted to do a movie with a voice over narration.

  • Film is a visual medium, basketball isn’t. The sports analogies don’t work. Inspiration can come from anywhere, a song, nature, a phrase or line from a movie, a phrase or line from your grandmother. I don’t think you should watch movies necessarily to get your inspiration, but watch them because it is what you are actually doing yourself, your craft. It is what you are making and creating… something VISUAL. You have to understand and study this visual art that you are creating, thus, you need to SEE and WATCH with your EYES this particular medium, and sure… go out and make one too.

  • I mean no offense, but I must say that the idea that cutting oneself off from cinema is somehow positive, holds no water. Film isn’t poetry, it is not a first person stream of consciousness, it is first and foremost a technical medium, smoke and mirrors, lights and magic, technique and trade. There are key elements of technique that absolutely cannot be inspired in a vacuum.

    The prime example of this is editing. Humans do not think in cross cuts and fade-throughs. In a conversation we turn our heads back and forth between targets, something just not done with a camera. If you haven’t seen 2001, chances are that you have no appreciation of the power of the match cut, and no concept of how to use it. If you’ve never seen Citizen Kane, chances are that you aren’t even aware of what can be done with deep focus. If you’ve never seen a film that uses montage, something pioneered by Sergei Eisenstein with Battleship Potemkin, then chances are you’d never think of it. All these comparisons to music and sports are strained, in my opinion, film is closest to architecture, structure through space and time. If you don’t know the strengths and weaknesses of a million other structures, how can you hope to build one soundly yourself.

  • A very interesting and entertaining discussion but the basic “I don’t need to study movies to be able to make great movies of my own” argument is a bunch of hogwash. As a story consultant I’ve heard this many, many times before – I’ve had several writers tell me about how “original and fresh” their work was because they were “untainted” by what had come before. Was their work original and fresh? Hell no! Their ignorance of the storytelling form ensured they had no knowledge that their story had been done before. In one case, a script I consulted on was pretty much a carbon copy of a relatively well-known genre entry.

    It’s much the same as when I hear filmmakers say that they are going to break all the rules – an acquaintance some years ago was writing a “ground-breaking” story where he killed the protagonist in the first twenty minutes. He thought he was being fresh because he had no understanding of story and of how it works.

    Can you spend too much time watching movies instead of making them? Absolutely. Can you watch so many movies that it turns you into an copy-cat? Yes. However, to be truly original and to truly break the rules with new innovations you have to know what the rules are to begin with, understand why you are breaking them and what the consequences of breaking them may or may not be on your audience.

    Many movies today I find generic and uninspiring because they are the victims of committee filmmaking and corporate branding. By the same token, many indies are uninspired, naval-gazing and pretentious because the filmmakers have no regard for film history or even basic storytelling (mumblecore is a prime example of this).

    To be a great artist one needs balance. You need to continually be creating, studying the art form and above all, living life and absorbing experiences in all shapes and forms.

  • I hope you’re wrong when you say watching lots of films is the only way to become a well rounded film maker because if you’re right then I’m scuppered.

    I suppose there’s always the pull toward writing empathic posts that stand out (I can feel the draw even as I write this little comment), but would you not agree that there are different ways of becoming a well rounded film maker?

    Hmm, that didn’t sound very emphatic, let me try and again..

    Joe, would you not agree that an infinitely superior way of becoming a well rounded film maker is to make lots of films!?!?!?!?

    …Damn. Now I just sound like a twat. And an inaccurate one at that.

    • I’m not saying you shouldn’t be making films, I’m saying that just going out and doing it is not enough. There is one particular example of a person I know, who typically only watches horror/sci fi films, is constantly making movies (and I mean constantly), and not one of them has ever been even marginally successful in actually telling a story. Not once. His technical proficiency has also never improved, as he shoots mostly everything himself. So what does this mean? Simply going out and doing something will not necessarily make you better – especially if it’s a creative field. You’ve got to broaden your horizons and see what’s out there, and understand what they’re doing and why it works. You also need to see movies at the budget level you’re working with. Your movie will not look like The Avengers, no matter how much you think it can. Seeing how people overcome budgetary concerns in their storytelling is extremely helpful.

      Making lots of films will make you competent, but filmmaking, just like any other art, builds upon its history. Everything affects everything else, whether you can see it or not. Trying to live in a vacuum, and only exposing yourself to one type of movie, will be detrimental to your growth.

      There’s also a big thing many people forget. Just because you yourself live in a vacuum and try to make work that’s original, doesn’t mean your audience is going to watch it that way. They are going to compare it to every film they’ve ever seen, and if they understand the language better than you, they are going to know what’s working better than you are – and that’s not a situation you want to be in.

      • To extend the sports metaphor to where it belongs, nothin’ but net!

      • Agreed.

        I put making films at the top, and studying films above watching them. There’s a big difference between the two, don’t you think? Letting a film wash over you vs really studying its mechanics. I don’t do enough of the latter. Bring on the self-enforced homework!

        • Yes, I would say so. But for me personally, unless the movie is unbelievably good, I’m usually studying it as I watch it. I’m always looking at focus, and camera angles, and light sources – always trying to figure out why a particular light is doing what it’s doing (motivated vs. unmotivated), or where it’s coming from. You’ll notice in tons of Hollywood movies that there are back lights that really shouldn’t be where they are – but it works, and an audience that doesn’t understand lighting would certainly not question it.

          But you’re absolutely right, there’s something to be said for actively studying a movie instead of just enjoying it. When I say watching movies – I am more referring to studying them. Studying why they work and why they don’t – and all of the technical aspects that make them what they are. I probably should have been more specific about that – but for me – watching and studying are more-or-less the same exercise, to a point.