November 4, 2017

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.      

Your Comment

8 Comments

filmmakers getting into film only because they love film, rather than telling human stories, has produced an enormous creative vacuum in the last decade - primarily stuffed with nostalgia. it can only entertain us for so long, before those filmmakers self-referential works become void of meaning, and cinema becomes an antique medium. already we see younger people flocking to other mediums for their "authentic", authored experiences.

November 4, 2017 at 8:04PM

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Lucas
171

This is the core of the argument for getting a BA or MFA in film, instead of a two-year technical degree.

November 5, 2017 at 3:04PM

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Jon Kline
Director of Photography
133

Most of the young I meet tese day don't even have a degree on film or anyhting related.
They have a DSLR and they are filmmaker!
Their fame come with million of "fan" and followers without any idea of the real world is, completly under their digital world. no sens whatsover of reality.

November 6, 2017 at 4:53AM

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visionrouge.com
DoP freelance cameraman 4K HK & Shanghai.
86

I think this is the reason we get people like Michael Moore making documentaries. Zero substance. Zero life experience. Zero thought behind so many documentary ideas. If more film makers had any life experience, the documentary landscape would be very, very different politically. Currently, we're largely getting the results of an anti-intellectual echo chamber.

November 6, 2017 at 9:59AM, Edited November 6, 10:00AM

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November 6, 2017 at 10:49AM

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Reggie Bucks
Student
15

"...at the end of the day, take time to *clean your lens.."

November 7, 2017 at 10:52AM

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Christopher Evans
Video Artist
134

ALL of my inspiration comes from nonfiction that has nothing to do with film, and from real life. This is sooooo true. I hardly knew anything about film until around three years ago, and if I had been obsessively studying it for my entire life, I think it would have almost been a hindrance to certain inspirations. I had visions that I couldn't get out of my head, and I wanted to learn how to bring them to life, and this is what led me to study film. It's the whole which came first, 'the chicken or the egg thing', for me it was the egg, and I feel like when I meet people for whom the chicken came first (film), they seem to be a little lacking in inspiration. But this is okay. We need the chicken people for production and post production, and the egg people for pre production, writing, and directing.

November 7, 2017 at 11:12AM

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To paraphrase [Arthur Conan Doyle] Sherlock Holmes: "Don't just see. Observe!"

November 10, 2017 at 7:52PM

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Bob Byars
228