May 20, 2019
SXSW 2019

'The Mountain': Why You Should Experiment Early In Your Film Career

The most freedom you will ever have as a filmmaker will be at the beginning stages of your career, take advantage.

If there's one universal truth about filmmaking, it's that it's hard as hell to get your picture made. So if you're going to go through all the trouble of making a movie, you better damn well make sure you're not scared to tell the story that you want to tell. Luckily, there's no better time to do this than at the very beginning.

Rick Alverson is one of the most daring filmmakers on the planet. His latest film, The Mountain, is a surreal odyssey concerning the very heart of creativity itself: the mind. Or rather the antiquated science behind destroying it. In the film, Tye Sheridan plays a young man who after losing his mother, goes to work with a doctor, portrayed by the unhumanly charismatic Jeff Goldblum, who specializes in lobotomies.

The timing of this film's release is no coincidence. While there may not be a literal blade held to our skull, every day we are subject to creative suppression from an overabundance of media, screens and pop culture. And while mainline cinema may do it's damndest to further this narrative, Alverson argues that it's our duty as independent filmmakers to buck the trend and create art that leads to critical thinking.

It's a truth that he learned some time along the middle of his career, that filmmaking should be about having a conversation with the medium and not a promotional exercise. Filmmakers should meditate on how they can contribute to the art form itself and not look for personal advancement. 

There is no better time to start this practice, than at the very beginning. I sat down with Alverson and Sheridan to discuss how filmmakers can look to achieve this very notion at SXSW. 


For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

No Film School's podcast and editorial coverage of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.     

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1 Comment

I disagree about creative freedom only being early on in one's career.

Typically the reason we see a decline in creativity once someone gets established is because they want to relax and enjoy what they have earned. There is nothing wrong with that, its just normal biological behavior that once all needs are met there is less of a need to innovate, grind, and work to the bone.

I don't think there are more restrictions, its just a matter of perspective and willingness to keep taking risks. Alfred Hitchcok is one the few film makers that did not stop innovating till he was very old.

But I certainly can understand in the current climate of large scale blockbuster films that require at minimum... $300-$500 million in the first month to even be considered successful... yeah, probably not much room there to be innovative.

May 20, 2019 at 12:22PM

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Kyle Dockum
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