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Hollywood is not my goal!

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#1 Holly HeveronSmith

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 11:20 AM

My goal is to be a master at visual storytelling. I'm captivated by light and shadow, by using moving images to share an idea. I'm a novice filmmaker and have a long way to go before I'm an expert at any aspect of filmmaking -- but the passion and commitment to learn are ever present. What avenues of education and experience do you believe lead to a greater understanding of visual storytelling through film? What are your most powerful memories or impressions of making a film? How have those moments shaped or guided you as a filmmaker?

 

Thank you in advance for what you have to share. I'm excited to learn and grow!

 

Holly

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:44 PM

I taught myself by: (1) reading about movies and moviemaking; (2) watching movies, particularly any I could read about; (3) making movies and applying what I learned from 1 and 2 -- and then repeating 1 through 3 over and over again.  Outside of that was research into other visual arts.  

 

Just yesterday I read the book "Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard" and then watched the blu-ray of "Jaws".  Last week I watched the blu-ray of "Cleopatra"and then read the book "My Life with Cleopatra" by producer Walter Wanger and then watched the documentaries on the blu-ray.  


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#3 Holly HeveronSmith

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 04:19 PM

Thank you for your input, David! I mean no disrespect to filmmakers working in (or towards) the Hollywood entertainment industry. I've read several posts on here that strongly emphasize the importance of connections for making it big in the industry; I simply wanted to be clear that I don't aspire to take that particular path. I just want to make my little films as brilliantly and beautifully as possible, wherever I'm planted. What books do you recommend that give a greater overview of cinematography? Or do you think it's better to focus on text about a specific film?


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 04:58 PM

I think we still have a recommended books section on this website somewhere, we all contributed to the list.

 

In tandem with general scholarship to learn fundamentals, it is useful (and more fun) to start with what you know you like -- that way you are motivated to learn more about the particular work.  

 

I was a big science fiction fan as a kid and all the earliest filmmaking books I read were about the sci-fi movies I loved, particularly "The Making of Kubrick's 2001" by Jerome Agel.  I had just moved in the middle of high school from California to northern Virginia, during the summer of 1978, had no friends, and found myself in the gift shop of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and discovered that paperback book, full of photos from the production of "2001".  I read it until it fell apart and had to buy a new copy.  Not that it is the best book on filmmaking, nor even on the making of that movie (Piers Bizony's "2001: Filming the Future" is a bit better for that), but at the time, there were not a lot of books with behind-the-scenes photos of visual effects work being done.


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#5 Alan Rencher

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 09:31 PM

Seeing as this is a cinematography forum, I would assume you are looking to learn more about the photography side of movies. The best thing you can do to start is learn how to take a great photo. Take a photography course (preferably one that still teaches film as they can give you better discipline). Go to art galleries. Learn everything you can about composition in any visual art form.


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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 04:23 AM

Hollywood is NOT my goal! :rolleyes:

 

My goal is to be a master at visual storytelling. I'm captivated by light and shadow, by using moving images to share an idea. I'm a novice filmmaker and have a long way to go before I'm an expert at any aspect of filmmaking -- but the passion and commitment to learn are ever present. What avenues of education and experience do you believe lead to a greater understanding of visual storytelling through film? What are your most powerful memories or impressions of making a film? How have those moments shaped or guided you as a filmmaker?

 

Thank you in advance for what you have to share. I'm excited to learn and grow!

 

Holly

 

 

 

Well, the first thing I would do if I were you is find a story to tell. THAT'S gonna make a big difference in your mise-en-scene:

 

http://userpages.umb...se-en-Scene.htm

 

I.E., how you will tell the story visually. EVERYTHING you put into your frame effects how your audience will perceive your intended vision so the NEXT thing I would do if I were you would be plan your story thoroughly then make the best decisions you are able to make within your given circumstances. Thirdly, because there are innumerable ways to plan and shoot a film, if I were you, I would strive to find he strongest choices you can make for each element within your film. Fourthly, realize there will ALWAYS be compromises that will have to be made so you will NEVER get everything you want. If I were you, I'd learn to live with it and do the best you can with what you have. Lastly, even when things are their darkest, don't give up. That old saying, "make it happen" came from the fact that sometimes that's what you MUST do and only a liar would ever tell you that making a movie is easy. Sometimes you gotta plow through a river of crap to get to the other side.

 

I did have a little chuckle at the idea that you feel a need to get away from "Hollywood" in order to visually tell a story. MOST of the greatest films in motion picture history have been made at both the majors and minor studios, Both Jaws and Cleopatra were studio pictures, Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox respectively as were Gone With the Wind (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in association with Selznick International Pictures), The Exorcist (Warner Brothers) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Twentieth Century Fox), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures), The King's Speech (The Weinstein Company), Lawrence of Arabia (Columbia Pictures), Barry Lyndon (Warner Bros.), The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.), Star Wars (Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm), Star Trek and Star Trek: into Darkness (Paramount Pictures), Man of Steel (Warner Bros.), Chinatown (Paramount Pictures), Back to the Future (Universal Pictures), The Hunger Games (Lionsgate), The Matrix (Warner Bros.), Etc, Etc, Etc..... You should be so LUCKY as to get a "Hollywood" studio picture deal!! B)

 

 

 

 

 
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#7 Holly HeveronSmith

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 12:55 PM

Alan, that is some practical, solid advice. Thank you very much!

 

James, that is some wisdom of experience. I really love the thought that everything within the frame communicates, and to fill (or leave open) that space with intention. Thank you so much for sharing! Sidenote: I totally agree about some of the greatest films coming out of Hollywood -- my favorites certainly did!


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#8 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 08:42 PM

I did have a little chuckle at the idea that you feel a need to get away from "Hollywood" in order to visually tell a story. MOST of the greatest films in motion picture history have been made at both the majors and minor studios, Both Jaws and Cleopatra were studio pictures, Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox respectively as were Gone With the Wind (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in association with Selznick International Pictures), The Exorcist (Warner Brothers) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Twentieth Century Fox), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures), The King's Speech (The Weinstein Company), Lawrence of Arabia (Columbia Pictures), Barry Lyndon (Warner Bros.), The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.), Star Wars (Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm), Star Trek and Star Trek: into Darkness (Paramount Pictures), Man of Steel (Warner Bros.), Chinatown (Paramount Pictures), Back to the Future (Universal Pictures), The Hunger Games (Lionsgate), The Matrix (Warner Bros.), Etc, Etc, Etc..... You should be so LUCKY as to get a "Hollywood" studio picture deal!!

 

That all depends on what you believe to be the greatest films in motion picture history. Not everyone shares the view that Hollywood is the path for them, nor that such a brand of filmmaking is the best to subscribe to. I think there's a tendency to group together what is most often seen as the best movies ever, and the movies that are most aggressively marketed to American audiences. It's hard to think a movie is great if you don't know it exists, or if it's marginalized by an overbearing culture. 

 

You don't have to go with the pack to find success and fulfillment in filmmaking. People look at me like I'm crazy when I say I have no aspirations to shoot a McDonald's commercial, or shoot a Hollywood-theme-park-overblown-budget-sequel-remake of a movie. For some people that's great. For others, it's not. I say go wherever you want to go, and don't be ashamed of not wanting to fit into Hollywood. Tell the stories you want to tell, wherever that may be.


Edited by Jason Outenreath, 07 July 2013 - 08:43 PM.

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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:21 AM

Well, I might agree with you had I not seen literally THOUSANDS of movies and had learned a little about the business throughout my travels. There are some beautiful small films "Marty" , "Brick" (BRILLIANT FILM!!), "Napoleon Dynamite", "Monsters", "The Breakfast Club", "Rocky", " Reservoir Dogs", "Halloween", "American Graffiti", "Night of the Living Dead", "Easy Rider", "Blood Simple", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", "The French Connection", "Duel", "Eraserhead", "Badlands", "The Evil Dead", "Clerks", "Cemetery Man" and on and on, but HONESTLY, can any of these truly great films have what it takes to be considered the greatest in the history of film? They simply don't have the money to create the production value or hire the star power it takes to get to that level.
 
Low budget means compromise and often that translates to a compromise in universal appeal. You can't afford a film about the rise of Henry Ford that changed the world so you make a move about your grandmother's quirky obsession with cats. My thinking is if you' re fairly well versed in film and haven't heard of a movie that isn't newly produced, there's a REAL GOOD chance it ISN'T the greatest film ever made in movie history that's not to say it isn't a good or even great film. If it's marginalized, there's probably a reason for that, like it doesn't appeal to the majority of people, I.E. a limited or niche market. These heart felt, personal stories are fine, sometimes like "Marty", truly great, but they will always have a limited appeal and like it or not, making movies is expensive so getting distribution that's strong enough to make your investor's money back is going to be a bitch. That's another thing everyone wants to forget, that this is a business, so your film better DO business if you want to STAY in business. If your film doesn't get distribution, you're NOT gonna be doing any business.
 
I also have no aspirations to shoot a McDonald's commercial, but shoot a Hollywood-theme-park-overblown-budget-sequel-remake of a movie is a WHOLE different animal. I LOVE the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and would kill to direct one of the sequels.
 
I never did understand why self deemed "artists" feel the need to PROVE they're TOTAL commitment to their various muses by painting "Hollywood" as some faceless demonic monolith juggernaut bent on destroying the very foundation of western civilization through it's decadent corruption of sacred, pristine ART!! As though art should be worshiped like some kind of fanatic, evangelical cult. Look at the people that work with the studios. These are usually the smartest, most creative guys in the room. Why wouldn't you want to work with those people? But maybe I see your point. I mean it would be HORRIBLE to make a movie with a REAL budget that a lot of people would enjoy and you didn't have to shoot hand held on a HDV consumer video camera over a weekend with your unpaid friends.Why would ANYBODY want to give all THAT up?
 
 I gotta tell you straight up the VAST majority of low budget (no budget) personal films are flat out HORRIBLE messes that should have never been made in the first place, are a waste of the hour an a half you spend watching tripe and are nothing more than the embodiment of the film maker's overblown, self absorbed ego. So I disagree, DON"T go wherever you want to go. Go where the industry is alive and well and you have the support of industry professionals and the opportunities to network because the people in the industry you meet are the people that can help you get your film made and sold and you in turn will also help other people along the way as well. Be ashamed of making a bad movie, Hollywood or not. Of course you're gonna tell the stories you want to tell, what ELSE are you gonna do? However it might be nice if a few other people also want the hear the story you want to tell as well. If you're a film maker, having something people might want to actually see is always a plus.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 08 July 2013 - 02:25 AM.

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#10 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 12:01 PM

You misunderstand me James. I was trying to promote a fruitful discussion about different paths in filmmaking. Not antagonize those who currently work within Hollywood, or aspire to achieve that goal. You're totally right that Hollywood can be a wonderful and exciting opportunity for a lot of people. Given this person titled their post "Hollywood is not my goal", however, and anticipating the onslaught of posts reprimanding this person (aka "educating"), I thought it would be good to bring up the point that there are different niches and markets to work in, and many options outside of Hollywood.

 

Budget was the furthest thing from my mind. I also, have seen way too many low budget indie flicks that are absolutely terrible. All those films you mentioned in your last two posts (well the majority of them :P ) are films that I know and love. But I couldn't help but notice that your list of best films in movie history are all from the United States (although you left off my favorite American director of all time Billy Wilder :D ), are all narratives (no documentaries), and the majority were created post-1980. What about films by: Kieslowski, Bergman, Fassbinder, Wenders, Herzog, del Toro, Buñuel, Wong kar Wai, Hong Sang Soo, Park Chan Wook, Rossellini, Fellini, von Trier, Almodóvar, Egoyan, De Sica, Godard, Truffaut. Just to name a few foreign directors who've made a name for themselves. Or documentaries that are among the greatest films of all time: The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, Roger and Me, Restrepo, Dark Days, My Country My Country, The Interrupters, Who are the Debolts?, Capturing the Freidmans, Nanook of the North, 5 Broken Cameras, Where Soldiers Come From, Mugabe and the White Afrikan, Searching for Sugarman, Jiro: Dreams of Sushi, Land of Silence and Darkness, Last Train Home. I could go on and on here, and the majority of these films/directors at some point passed through a big studio. My point is that there's something more out there in the world other than JUST Hollywood big budget flicks for the masses. Not that those aren't good too. Hell, I loved The Avengers. In other words, I'm not saying Hollywood is bad. I'm saying that inevitably as big as the film industry is here in the US, and as big of an influence as Hollywood has on the diet of films people watch on a daily basis, other very good films from diverse niches are not given the attention they deserve (aka Marginalized).

 

Now, maybe you hate all or most of these films and/or directors I just mentioned. But hey, everyone's tastes run a little differently, wouldn't you say? As much as I hate The Draughtsman's Contract, I recognize that it's a valid film, and a different taste. I'm trying to promote diversity of taste here. People shouldn't be stigmatized for not wanting to be in Hollywood, or seeing themselves as fitting in differently. It has nothing to do with how big the budget is. And it certainly has nothing to do with issues of subsidiary importance, like making movies about your grandmother's cat, as you point out. I'm talking about films that people in the US don't see, that they would probably enjoy if they had the opportunity. And maybe they hate them and move on, but as I said before: you can't think a movie is the greatest in history if you don't know it exists (not insinuating that you haven't seen these directors/movies I mentioned, just talking generally).

 

I stand by what I said before to the poster. Hollywood or no Hollywood, explore your options, and don't be made to feel that Hollywood is your only avenue for success.


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#11 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:11 PM

I never did understand why self deemed "artists" feel the need to PROVE they're TOTAL commitment to their various muses by painting "Hollywood" as some faceless demonic monolith juggernaut bent on destroying the very foundation of western civilization through it's decadent corruption of sacred, pristine ART!! As though art should be worshiped like some kind of fanatic, evangelical cult. Look at the people that work with the studios. These are usually the smartest, most creative guys in the room. Why wouldn't you want to work with those people? But maybe I see your point. I mean it would be HORRIBLE to make a movie with a REAL budget that a lot of people would enjoy and you didn't have to shoot hand held on a HDV consumer video camera over a weekend with your unpaid friends.Why would ANYBODY want to give all THAT up?

 

Straw man fallacy doesn't help your case much. Just a little hyperbole in there. We're all adults, is it too much to ask to have a respectful discussion of differing viewpoints without getting worked up about it?


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:18 PM

I don't think we need to really justify what inspires us -- for me, it was movies like "Lawrence of Arabia", "2001", "Seven Samurai", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"... but for someone else, it may be John Hughes teenager movies or Kevin Smith movies, and for someone else, it may be experimental video by Pat O'Neill or Nam June Paik, for someone else, movies from Eastern Europe, whatever.  

 

We can analyze why those things inspired us, but I don't really think we get to choose what inspires us. I may get emotional and become mystified & frustrated at times as to why someone else doesn't see what I see in a work of art, but I can be objective enough to know that we all have different tastes and come from different backgrounds, and have different goals.


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#13 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:46 PM

Well said David. I completely agree.


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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:10 PM

I tend to see mainly American films because I truly believe at the upper end of the scale, at the very pinnacle of the film maker's art, American films win out, though I am a HUGE Fellini fan (I'm also a HUGE Leone fan on the other end of the scale as well). It's possible it could be a cultural thing and I'm a little biased towards American films, but American films tend to speak to me more often than foreign fare and for return at the box office on foreign sales, they also tend to speak to the foreign market as well.

 

That's not to say I don't like foreign films, there a great many I do very much like. I liked Kurosawa's work. Herzog is great. I could never get into Truffaut though, although I thought he was great in Close Encounters :rolleyes: . Actually, I NEVER got into French cinema at ALL but I LOVE Italian cinema. I also, to a certain extent, love Russian cinema but I hated the fact that the Soviets censored everything before the 90s. I liked Bergman but his films are SO damn depressing. I used to like Guillermo del Toro until he became a Michael Bay wannabe and decided to make a giant robot movie! I've actually have seen a LOT of foreign films and have great respect for many of them just not "greatest movie ever made" respect.

 

 I also like Billy Wilder but don't tend to put him on the pedestal so many other people do. He was a great director but I don't think he was the greatest director although he was certainly the most successful (with the possible exception of maybe Woody Allen). I'd have to save that particular honor for Kubrick.

 

 As for docs, sorry, I just plain don't see them as "movies". They're documentaries and have a COMPLETELY different agenda than narrative films so comparing the two is like comparing apples to Buicks. I kinda feel the same way about experimental films, they're sometimes fun to watch but most of the time, they're just weird although strangely enough I DO like a few Avant-garde films. For some reason, many times they work for me where experimental films don't.

 

As for my assertion that a LOT of self pronounced "ARTISTS" tend to take themselves WAY too seriously, to the outer edge of absurdity, I can only say this, I also once haunted the halls of a university fine arts department back in the day and met a LOT of "artists", so THOUGH I might get a bit hyperbolic at times, being a writer who tends to work in strong narrative imagery, there is NO straw man fallacy present in my argument that many self proclaimed "artists" simply have an overblown sense of their own importance and very little understanding of their art. Most of them wouldn't know a piece of art if a clock melted on their face. You're only an "artist" when someone deems you to be an artist and THEN it's only that particular person and anyone else who finds your work to be a piece of art. There is NO reason to apologize for working in a town that rewards wide spread artistic endeavors with a LOT of cash so becoming successful in the film industry almost REQUIRES that you become an artist of some merit otherwise you end up living in obscurity, making movies no one ever sees. It's a ROUGH business and very few succeed. It's important you give yourself the best possible odds because competition in the film industry makes a Vegas casino look like some crazy millionaire throwing money to the passerbys on the street so you need to use every possible advantage you can get Trust me. I've let too many opportunities slip away that could have advanced my career and I'm not doing that any more. B)


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#15 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 11:56 PM

Those are some very interesting points James. In particular the line you draw between docs and narratives. I also met a lot of artists like that in college who you refer to. Specifically, I met people who wanted to be known and respected for something, and picked art without knowing what they wanted to use it to say or express. I sympathize with your disinterest in those kinds of filmmakers.

 

Every path is wrought with it's own often extreme challenges. Filmmaking, is fun, which means that a lot of people want to be apart of it. Distinguishing yourself from the crowd seems to be of primary importance.

 

There is NO reason to apologize for working in a town that rewards wide spread artistic endeavors with a LOT of cash so becoming successful in the film industry almost REQUIRES that you become an artist of some merit otherwise you end up living in obscurity, making movies no one ever sees.

 

Agreed, that's a definite advantage of working in Hollywood. And there are a lot of possibilities that would otherwise be impossible. A dream factory.

 

It's all a matter of what you dream, and what you hope to accomplish through film.


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#16 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:50 AM

Film making LOOKS like a lot of fun from the outside looking in but down in the trenches, it's a Hell of a lot of work and at times can be just pure Hell. You spend most of your time looking for money and there never seems to be enough. You spend month or even years writing a script that you have labored over, sweating blood to make perfect only to have everyone tell you "I LOVE IT, It's terrific, brilliant, wonderful, PERFECT! Now let's change it" . You sit there at you desk for HOURS, DAYS, WEEKS pouring over the script you had to compromise in order to get made, breaking down every single detail, figuring out every minute element of what you're going to need, who you're going to need, where you're going to shoot, how long it's gonna take, how much it's gonna cost, who's gonna be where, when, What sequence you're gonna shoot in to maximize your budget, where you're gonna put your camera, how you're gonna move it and how you're gonna move the people in front of it, then taking take after take when an actor is having a bad day, sitting idly by while rain pours down or planes fly over or a pissed off actor intentionally comes late. You search for the best talent you can find but find the people you want have other commitments so you settle for the people you can get because you have a start date you HAVE to meet. You're losing the light or waiting for the light or setting up the lights. You work 12 or 14 hours on set then watch dailies, work on the script, fix tomorrows problems, rearrange the schedule, etc, etc, etc for another 3, 4, 5, 6 hours, get 2 hours sleep then get up at 4 A.M. and start it all over again for 6 to 12 weeks or more and that's just the sh!t I can think of off the top of my head.

 

Distinguishing yourself from the crowd IS of primary importance. There's only ONE Kubrick, one Spielberg, Scorsese, Lean, Hitchcock, Lynch, Scott (Ridley OR Tony), Ford, Hill and on and on.   Being an individual in THIS industry is as much a matter of business as it is personal style. You're known by the films you make, If you're REAL GOOD, the audience will know who made the film even without ever seeing the credits. That's when you know you've mastered the craft.

 

Hollywood is a dream factory with the emphasis in "FACTORY". Like I said, it's one HELL of a lot of work but when it works, it indeed is a dream made of shadow and light that will stay with you for the rest of your life and that thought, that little bit of what I can give back to humanity is everything to me. I'll never be the guy that cures cancer or solves the problems of cold fusion, but I can do this, this one thing and THAT'S what keeps me plowing through the muck towards my goal no matter HOW bad it gets.


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#17 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 08:56 PM

Hmm. Something that's always fascinated and inspired me over the years, is looking at the early work of good filmmakers. Every filmmaker had to make something before something bigger. And something I've noticed, is that greatness finds a way to succeed under any circumstances. Limitations are turned into opportunities and creative solutions. When money, star power, or other hallmarks of the big budget movies are lacking, great filmmakers always find a way to make something that's true to their style.

 

Before Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson did Bad Taste. Before Paris Texas, Wim Wenders did The Buena Vista Social Club. Before Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore did Roger and Me. Before Bad Lieutenant with Nicolas Cage, Herzog shot Land of Silence and Darkness. Before Berlin Alexanderplatz, Fassbinder did Love is Colder Than Death. Heck, even Roman Polanski before Chinatown, he did a little known short film in 1958 that I think is brilliant, called Two Men and a Wardrobe.

 

 

And Michel Gondry before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind did a great short film called La Lettre:

 

 

Lars von Trier's senior thesis in film school:

 

 

Play a game with yourself: pick any director you like, and watch their first 3 films listed on IMDB.

 

All of these early films by great directors, are unpolished works in progress, that are pretty damn good for someone with little to no resources. And their personality shines through, despite the lack in budget and professional shortcomings. They show potential, but have none of the grandiose production value, star power, or budgets of their later work. That said, they make something out of very very little. And this is ultimately what propelled them to greater things later. And this is a quality I see time and again looking at the work of my favorite directors: They're endlessly resourceful, and thrive under limitations and constraints. And in the end, never waited for some one to give them money before figuring out a way to make a movie that was meaningful to them (and other people!)

 

Indeed this is what motivated the von Trier film "The Idiots", which is my personal favorite by him (I'm not an avid fan of von Trier like a lot of people only a few of his films hit home with me). Basically, going into it, I was thinking "This is going to be a bunch of artistic crap that will waste my time... Dogma95 is just an excuse to make bad films that are 'valid'". As it turns out, I was really wrong. I don't remember all the rules, but most of the film was shot handheld, there's no stars, no artificial lighting, no sound effects or non-diagetic music, shot on I think a Hi-8 camera (in 1998). Ultimately it tells an incredibly powerful story that proves (to me), that great films oftentimes (and with many exceptions!) are based on creativity over budget.

 

And as a low-budget, indie filmmaker myself, how can I not subscribe to this belief? If a budget falls into my lap, or is attainable, then that's great. But I don't want other people to determine if I make, or don't make a film. If I have an idea that's too ambitious I write it down, maybe do some development on it, but then I move on to try and take on challenges I can handle in the moment. 

 

Gloss and production value are great, and sometimes they're absolutely necessary to tell a particular story. Me, I'm a huge Star Trek fan, I had watched the entire original series multiple times by the age of 8. And it's hard to imagine any episode or movie in the Star Trek franchise being shot with a serious compromise to production value. It is what it is.

 

I think though that today, young filmmakers are led to believe that a movie without the highest production value is not worth making--or seeing. Now, I'm not advocating for bad production value, but I don't think that's ultimately the distinguishing factor of a film--over say--the story. The only thing I see more often than bad, overly artistic indie flicks from pretentious artsy types, are overly ambitious technical geniuses who make films of impeccable purity, perfect sound, shot on animorphic Zeiss super-primes--with a story of little to no consequence being told. Or to put it another way, without original voice and creativity. I'm talking more about directors here than the cinematographer, who takes on a much different role. 

 

Since the barriers to production have lowered so significantly in recent years (man I feel old... in high school it was a HUGE deal to be able to shoot on the XL1), people can make high production value films for a fraction of the cost in times past. This is great. This relieves a huge pressure from the filmmaker. People are making higher production value films than ever before (at least in terms of video and audio quality). What isn't changing, and what will never change, is the degree of creativity required to be "recognized" by industry leaders. Ultimately, no matter how much more resolution we can squeeze into a frame, or how cheap a camera costs, or how big your budget gets, you get recognized as a director for telling a story people care about--even if only to a niche audience of passionate fans. I see greater value in telling stories that are deeply important to the director, at the sacrifice (if need be), of the masses. In other words, I don't see anything wrong with making films for niche or cult audiences, as long as people watch my films and enjoy them.


Edited by Jason Outenreath, 10 July 2013 - 09:00 PM.

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#18 Holly HeveronSmith

Holly HeveronSmith

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:11 PM

I love the conversation this has started. For me, filmmaking is a labor of LOVE. I truly love the creative process and the work of bringing a visual idea or concept to life on the big screen. In my little bit of experience, it's challenging, exhilarating, immensely satisfying and (am I allowed to say?) fun!  :) I've been incredibly blessed to have been involved with projects lead by a tight-knit community with a renegade, DIY spirit when it came to making movies. It bums me out a little to hear that it's such a grind to some. Or that money and business is such a driving factor. I hope that whatever your filmmaking goals are, you never lose your heart. It's your most valuable asset in life! Thank you all for the wonderful discussion and for sharing you thoughts and experiences. It's very helpful and thought-provoking to consider another perspective.


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