The obvious answer to that question is that you should watch the great ones, the films that have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. It makes sense, right? If you want to be the best, you have to study the best. While that may be partly true, exclusively watching well-crafted films might not actually be the best use of time if your intention is to become a better filmmaker.
In a new video, Darious Britt challenges the notion that we should only watch good movies, and argues (very convincingly) that bad movies offer a treasure trove of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers because they show us what we should avoid doing at all costs. Check it out:
Darious makes a bunch of excellent points in this video, but the crux of his argument is this: breaking down great films and studying their individual components is vitally important, but it's also difficult and time-consuming. They're so well-crafted that, more often than not, we can't help but to get drawn into them. We may start watching The Godfather to study Gordon Willis's incredible cinematography, but it's impossible not to get sucked into the Corleone power struggle.
Films of questionable quality, on the other hand, usually make it incredibly easy to pick apart the individual elements and determine what is and isn't working. More importantly, these films make it easier to understand why those specific elements aren't working within the larger context of the film. Most of us are so accustomed to good filmmaking that when we see bad writing, cinematography, sound, editing, or special effects, it stands out like a sore thumb. We're then able to analyze and internalize those mistakes, which will hopefully allow us to avoid them when we're making our own films.
What are some of your favorite bad movies to study, and what have they taught you about the filmmaking process?
Source: D4Darious - YouTube