Who needs film school when you can make your own curriculum?
How we approach history and how we approach film are very similar. As László Nemes puts it, history doesn’t work the way we think it works, we think we know more about these events in our past, but there’s no way of ever knowing firsthand what the atmosphere at the time actually was.
In much the same way, we can lean on popular conceptions of the way films should be made or we can question the existing language of cinema and follow our own inspiration. The truth is, you don’t have to start from ground zero.
As a filmmaker, you are already taking in an enormous amount of influences, every single day. Cinema is about your adventure. It’s not about what someone tells you will work. Nemes has followed his own guiding light, despite going to film school, on every project he’s ever made. History is his muse, but his style comes from a curriculum which he’s curated himself. This is something you can do too.
Nemes’ debut feature Son of Saul earned him an Academy Award, a BAFTA, several grand jury prizes at Cannes, and dozens more. His latest film, Sunset, features a stunning performance from Juli Jakab as a young milliner in Budapest before World War I, whose bent on finding out how her family lost control of their prized hat store. I sat down with both Names and Jakab at TIFF where we discussed making period films thrilling, ignoring your film school teachings and much more.
Editors Note: Apologies on the quality of Ms. Jakab's tracks. We picked up some strange radio transmissions up in Toronto and didn't get an entirely clean recording. You may hear some weird opera.