May 1, 2015

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.

 

Your Comment

12 Comments

Love this.

May 1, 2015 at 9:14PM

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Cool camera nerd info: The camera used for this film, the Eclair Caméflex - was the the best portable 35mm camera at the time and has been used for nearly a half century after shooting all kinds of films- in fact it used by Carroll Ballard to shoot a nearly all of the MOS scenes in "Fly Away Home", source: https://vimeo.com/58844978

I want one : )

May 1, 2015 at 9:21PM

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Wow, thx for this.

May 13, 2015 at 3:06AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2085

thank you, I liked this post very much.

May 2, 2015 at 5:05AM, Edited May 2, 5:05AM

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Edwin Smeets
not professional - learning process
74

"There are no rules in art" «« His point was, there are no rules as long as throwing out rules enables you to convey your story or thought effectively. We're not here for meaningless abstract art, we're here to learn ways of thinking out of the box to communicate stories, thoughts, and experiences effectively.

May 2, 2015 at 1:15PM

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what one person considers meaningless and abstract may inspire another to use a new technique in a piece that isn't 'meaningless'. And if something truly meaningless and useless is filmed, at least it's out of that filmmaker's system now and they can move on.

May 2, 2015 at 2:18PM, Edited May 2, 2:18PM

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A. Broad
140

"We're not here for meaningless abstract art, we're here to learn ways of thinking out of the box to communicate stories, thoughts, and experiences effectively."
You're an idiot. I guess you haven't seen Godard's last two film have you? Would you call it meaningless abstract art?

May 7, 2015 at 3:26PM

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Enrique Godinez
Director/Producer/Actor
491

Are u sure about what you said? about France experiencing high growth after WW2? Infact I think the financial troubles caused those people to experiment with Filmmaking with tigher budgets

May 3, 2015 at 2:46AM

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Lourdes joe Arputhan
Filmmaker
81

Yep, I'm sure. :) (Las Trente Glorieuses.)

May 4, 2015 at 2:32PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

.."Not to be absorbed in the film psychologically, but to be thinking about the film intellectually". right on. right frikin on

May 3, 2015 at 4:44AM, Edited May 3, 4:44AM

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Natan Bezalel
Film student
94

Nice post.

Thanks!

May 4, 2015 at 1:36PM, Edited May 4, 1:36PM

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Shiva
74

Very cool. Thanks for this post. It may seem to some that the New Wave is a well too often visited, but for me (and obviously many filmmakers we all admire) it's a source of constant inspiration, which is just nothing short of astounding considering it's a movement that happened over 55 years ago!

May 4, 2015 at 5:14PM

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Ian Mattingly
Artist/Film maker
91