How to Become an Artist: Legendary DP Christopher Doyle Talks About the Artistic Process
Here at NFS we've shared plenty of Christopher Doyle's enlightening advice, as well as a cinematography masterclass from the legendary Hong Kong DP. At this point, it's pretty safe to say that Doyle is one of my absolute favorite cinematographers. Maybe it's his fabulous hair style, or his unique sense of camera movement and light. Mostly though, it's due to the fact that he is one of the few cinematographers working in narrative features today who is a legitimate artist in every sense of the word. He uses cinematography as a vehicle to express his singularly fascinating worldview, which is one of the things that sets him apart from the crowd. Now we've got a fantastic piece of insight into Doyle's unique artistic process in the form of an interview from thefilmbook. Check it out below.
First and foremost, for those of you not familiar with thefilmbook, it's an excellent source of cinematography-related content that comes from one of the contributing authors of American Cinematographer Magazine. You should check it out every now and again because there's some delightfully enlightening content published there.
Now that we've got that out of the way, here's the always enigmatic Christopher Doyle on the artistic process:
As usual, Doyle is absolutely spot on with his advice. Perhaps the main commonality with all of his other advice is his insistence on people developing their own unique worldview. That is the primary thing that will affect how you create art and how that art will be perceived by the people who view it. It's something that you have to constantly work on and strive towards, however, because it's a process of observing the world around you and analyzing/contextualizing those observations.
That's not to say that becoming an artist is as simple as figuring out that you have something to say. As Doyle points out, that's only the beginning of the process. The next step is to force yourself into constantly making and being engaged with your work. Waiting for the inspiration can be a destructive process. Just like most writers have to sit down and force themselves to write, filmmakers should set time aside in which they'll be actively engaged in their craft and working to define their voice.
Of course, you can't really go out and shoot a quality narrative film whenever you feel like it due to the fact that it takes a small army of organized people to effectively make that type of film. However, you can always shoot b-roll footage for a documentary or even make experimental films in order to constantly be working to better yourself in your chosen field.
Doyle's process of becoming an artist is clearly not for everyone, but for people who are serious about taking their work to a personal level, and therefore differentiating their work from everyone else's, Doyle's advice might just be the starting point for a fruitful career of making meaningful content.
What do you guys think of Doyle's take on the artistic process? Let us know in the comments!