What Jean-Luc Godard's 'Breathless' Can Teach You About Indie Filmmaking
To call Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (À bout de souffle) influential would be a severe understatement. This 1960 French film paved the way for independent film, film studies, as well as the rise of the auteur.
This interactive video essay by San Francisco-native Tyler Knudsen explores four lessons Breathless teaches us about filmmaking.
Tyler highlights four lessons:
- There are no rules in art
- Seriously, there are no rules
- Make use of what you have
- Study film
These encapsulate pretty perfectly what the French New Wave was all about. If you want to learn more about the political and social events that influenced this film movement check out this post, but to sum it up, France was seeing great economic and population growth after WWII, which inspired a return to the more traditional modus operandi. The filmmakers who ended up becoming the leaders of the French New Wave movement were, in a way, rebelling against the norm -- creating films on shoestring budgets on location, experimenting with narrative and cinematic structures, and generally going against the grain and celebrating youthfulness and iconoclasticism.
If this sounds like today's independent film spirit, it's because the influence of the FNW is still alive and well today. So, if you're a filmmaker who has no money, no connections, and no resources, take a page from Godard (as well as François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Agnès Varda). You can make a film regardless of what you have (or don't). All you need is an idea and a camera. Period.