Dear Filmmakers, Study More than Film
So, you eat, sleep, and breath cinema, huh?
Okay, so you're an expert on Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Steven Spielberg. You like Ozu and Kurosawa, know the dance from Bande à part, and can spell Eadweard Muybridge without googling it. You, my friend, know your shit about cinema. But still, despite the hundreds of film books and screenplays you've read and thousands of films you've seen, there may be so much more information you're failing to feed your brain. Andrew Saladino of The Royal Ocean Film Society suggests that while having an encyclopedic knowledge of and insatiable interest in cinema is great, expanding your education beyond it might actually be the best thing you could do as a filmmaker.
The message here isn't to knock your hustle. We all love cinema. It's the raging inferno that burns inside all of our hearts and drives us toward the incredibly foolish pursuit of making films despite the odds of ever finding financial gain or notoriety, so—of course you're going to study the shit out of it. Of course you're going to watch every movie and read every book on cinema that you can because that's what interests you the most. However, the point Saladino is trying to make is the same one countless other world-famous filmmakers have tried to make for years: one of the best things you can do as a filmmaker is live life to the fullest.
Read every book you can find. Take a class, any class, and lots of them. Learn how to kayak and sew and make balloon animals. Try bungee jumping, public speaking, and escargot. Drive a taxi. Live in the country, the big city, and the suburbs. Travel to Paris, France and Paris, Texas. Listen to Run DMC and Harry Partch. Do yoga. Visit Slab City. Wear footy pajamas to bed at least once in your adult life. Give a haircut. Do your own taxes. Talk to everyone.
How does this help you as a filmmaker? It gives you more materials for creating.
It's easy to get comfortable in the groove we carve for ourselves in life. We feel safe and satisfied doing the same things we've always done day to day to day, but complacency kills creativity. Always be hungry, always be curious, always be okay with the fact that we don't know as much as we think we know, because on the other side of our own existence is the rest of the world living and breathing and evolving apart from us.
The world is a big beautiful place and there's more in it than cinema.