One of the first films I ever saw in college that truly blew me away was Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. The aesthetic, the contrasting B&W to color, everything about this film solidified to a very young, very trepidatious me the path on which I had already embarked upon. This German-born director opened up a world of poetic and lyrical filmmaking, and shared 50 "Golden Rules" with MovieMaker Magazine that are almost as beautifully and enigmatically communicated as his films. Continue on to read a selection.
I think that sometimes independent filmmakers get a little disheartened when they're reminded that making films is in fact a business. The process of getting something up on a screen somewhere depends mostly on money -- bankability and profits. An artist doesn't want to hear all that!
Would we like to make money? Yes, but oftentimes that means sacrificing some of your vision to get it. Wim Wenders says, "The more money you have the more you can do with it, sure. But the less you can say with it."
You have a choice of being “in the business” or of making movies. If you’d rather do business, don’t hesitate. You’ll get richer, but you won’t have as much fun!
Knowledge vs. Instinct
The more you know about moviemaking, the tougher it gets to leave that knowledge behind. As soon as you do things “because you know how to do them,” you’re fucked.
I can only speculate as to what Wenders means when he says this, but to me, it means that there's preciousness and value in your instincts. The tools we pick up through experience definitely serve us on-set -- I think that goes without saying -- but leaning on what we know too heavily will stagger us as artists. It's okay to branch out and try something new -- you'll never find new territories of creativity unless you're willing to stray from the path you've beaten.
A few tricks of the trade
Wenders shares a bunch of little tricks that will make your life easier when it comes time to shoot. Here are a few:
- Rain only shows on the screen when you backlight it.
- Before you say “cut,” wait five more seconds.
- Fewer words are always better!
- Let other people cut your trailer!
- A “beautiful image” can very well be the worst thing that can happen to a scene.
It's important to say that at the end of his list, Wenders echos other filmmakers' sentiment that there are no rules when it comes to filmmaking. Everyone's journey is different, so if what you're doing is working for you, then keep it up! Be sure to check out the full list of Wenders' advice in MovieMaker's article.
What do you think of Wenders' advice? Which one of his films is your favorite?