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What is a passionate filmmaker


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#1 joshua gallegos

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 05:49 PM

I've come to my own understanding of what makes someone a passionate filmmaker, and the simple answer is subject matter. A camera, lenses, lighting- these are only tools to translate the story into a whole, but subject-matter is where the true passion lies. Or some may even find it in music, a painting, and the feeling of it, the story evolves from there. Filmmaking alone is an empty shell of nothing if the subject-matter isn't there or if it's not interesting. It took me a while to figure it out, but that is my definition of a passionate filmmaker, finding something that you love and immersing yourself in it. I forgot that the magic of cinema lies in the possibility of living many lives, to tap into the soul of a stranger and discovering something new, something that you never knew was there. I can see much more clearly now.


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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 06:10 PM

It took me a while to figure it out, but that is my definition of a passionate filmmaker, finding something that you love and immersing yourself in it. I forgot that the magic of cinema lies in the possibility of living many lives, to tap into the soul of a stranger and discovering something new, something that you never knew was there. I can see much more clearly now.

 

Now you got it!


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 06:24 PM

I agree... but "subject matter" is a broad category (as is "story") -- in a more experimental film, nature, natural light and weather conditions may be the subject matter that the filmmaker is passionate about.  And depending on how well they capture that subject matter, their work may touch other people as well, particularly those with similar passions.

 

My point is that everyone is different and one filmmaker's passion will be different than another's.


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#4 joshua gallegos

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 06:34 PM

Yes but the passion comes through what the filmmaker feels, for instance when Paul Thomas Anderson's father died, he dedicated Magnolia to his father, it was about him. Of course the story has to placed within a cinematic context, but that is usually found by watching other films. For instance, if I want to write a story about people who fall in love in a boat, I'd look at films like The Lady Eve, An Affair To Remember, etc. and automatically the film falls into that genre, because it has been written and structured similarly. But the passion stemmed from a feeling and placed within a dramatic context. My point is that films are like emotions stored, because all that you take with you in the end is a feeling. Life is similar, we are a mass thing of emotions, in our death beds (if any of us get there), what will we feel in the end? We won't remember every waking second of our lives, it will all be summed up by an emotion,,,,

 

But in the instance of someone like Paul Thomas Anderson, he said that the film 'Magnolia' was about his father. The story has already been predetermined by the writing in its structure and form, and has already been directed once through the writing. The filmmaking aspect is merely the act of realizing it through images as it is translated by the actor. which is why Huston once said that 80% of directing is in the casting. The editing is where you try to make sense of it all. 


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 11:16 PM

I'm sure Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick brought a lot of passion into the writing and making of "2001", but I don't think it necessarily was born from a strong personal feeling or intimate experience.  The short stories that the movie was based on were born of Clarke's imagination of what early contact with aliens might be like.  Of course, the passion to write such stories comes from an interest in science, human origins and destinations, etc. and a sense of awe about the universe but I think of the project as more starting out as an intellectual exercise rather than an emotional act.

 

Again, my point is that there are all kinds of filmmakers, all kinds of films, all kinds of motivations to making films.  I always get nervous when people start to define cinema in terms that mean something to themselves but might not encompass all of its variations.

 

And some movies do not start out with highly structured scripts, some are more open-ended and develop through the shooting and editing.  The movies of Wong Kar Wai or Terrence Malick, for example, evolve quite a bit in shooting and editing.  The story of "In the Mood for Love" developed during the shooting process.  Many scenes in "Tree of Life" were based on one sentence concepts that had to be created in the process of shooting.


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#6 joshua gallegos

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 01:10 AM

But isn't every film an intellectual exercise? Emotions can't be defined unless they are experienced in some way, so truly I feel film can either recreate an emotional experience to feel or simply record a moment in time to experience as observers. With 2001: A Space Odyssey, I felt as if I was witnessing an event, the camera was truly an observer, and I believe this style came to be in the way the screenplay was written. But I agree every filmmaker have their own source of inspiration. I figure if someone is going to make a film and be involved with it for years, they need to sustain interest for that amount of time. Still, inspiration and passion alone aren't strong enough to make a filmmaker "great", I don't think that particular quality defines the quality of a storyteller or his importance. To me, the quality that defines a great filmmaker is his perspective, the way he/she sees the world, and being openly honest about, a great filmmaker tries to define or find meaning in life. Of course since cinema is a craft it takes time to learn the language, but once that language is learned, a filmmaker is able to intellectualize his idea, making them openly coherent to an audience, which enables them to feel through an emotional journey. 

 

I just finished watching 'Winter Light', and most of the film is shot in close-ups. It made me think of this great quote by Carl Theodore Dreyer 

 

Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land one can never tire of exploring. There is no greater experience in a studio than to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.


Edited by joshua gallegos, 04 May 2015 - 01:11 AM.

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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 01:58 AM

All this is lovely, but I'm cautious. Becoming too wrapped up in the emotional baggage of it all leads young, inexperienced people to exploitation. Filmmaking is far, far too expensive a pastime to allow one's artistic inclinations completely free reign - sad as it is.

 

P


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 09:15 AM

All this is lovely, but I'm cautious. Becoming too wrapped up in the emotional baggage of it all leads young, inexperienced people to exploitation. Filmmaking is far, far too expensive a pastime to allow one's artistic inclinations completely free reign - sad as it is.

 

P

 

I disagree.  Now more than ever is the time for a young filmmaker to indulge in his or her own inner feelings and translate that free reign into a visual story.  Unless he becomes the next Steven Spielberg, he will never have more creative freedom than he does now, so he should run with it.


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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 11:48 AM

You have to start out with a lot of passion and unrealistic optimism... because a lot of it will be beat out of you over time, you need to keep a reserve!  ;)


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 05:34 PM

I think we're talking about circumstance. In personal projects, sure, go for whatever you're after. But I've seen far too many people leap with both feet into unpaid work, or work with no prospects, or working for awful, revolting people, because they were passionate about it.

 

P


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#11 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 06:57 PM

And some movies do not start out with highly structured scripts, some are more open-ended and develop through the shooting and editing.  The movies of Wong Kar Wai or Terrence Malick, for example, evolve quite a bit in shooting and editing.  The story of "In the Mood for Love" developed during the shooting process.  Many scenes in "Tree of Life" were based on one sentence concepts that had to be created in the process of shooting.

So true.  I've seen a few documentaries on Krystof Kieslowski and the whole Blue, White, Red trilogy is a great example of the passion of your idea falling into place in very unexpected ways.  According to him the structure of those films and their interconnected nature was found in the editing room.  All of them ending up on a boat, the banner ad of Irene being the last image of the film Red.  None of that was written down first.  It was all discovered later and those accidents don't happen without a strong passion for the themes and ideas you're working with.  Story and plot is important but, and as hokey as this may sound, "art happens".  If that is, you're lucky enough to be both talented and working with people who allow for it.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 04 May 2015 - 06:57 PM.

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#12 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 10:21 PM

Have you considered the difference between being passionate, or simply being excited?  


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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 06:45 AM

Have you considered the difference between being passionate, or simply being excited?  

 

Passion is in fact an over-used word.  It should imply excitement that may impact usefully on the awareness and evolvement of others,  may add to culture. 

Well spotted


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#14 joshua gallegos

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 10:10 AM

On the Roger Deakins website, someone asked him what was the greatest quality in a filmmaker, which he replied "passion". And Tarantino himself once said "If you love cinema with all your heart, you can't help but to make a good movie." I agree passion is a good quality but it does not necessarily make you into a good filmmaker. A little league ball player can have all the passion in the world, but that alone won't make him great, it will keep him playing baseball until he's old, but that doesn't make him great.

Truly, the best films I've ever seen come from filmmakers who have a unique vision, the best filmmakers are immersed within themselves, they seem to live in their own universe, and we get to experience that universe when they make films. I consider directors like Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Spielberg to be master craftsmen, they are able to forge films with strong sequences, but the true poets are filmmakers like Fellini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Welles, Kazan, Dreyer. When I see a Bergman film it's as if he's wrestling with himself, spiritually, and there's nothing like it. Sure they may all be passionate, but that quality alone isn't the the thing that defines them.
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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 02:43 PM

*Double Post*
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 02:56 PM

On the Roger Deakins website, someone asked him what was the greatest quality in a filmmaker, which he replied "passion". And Tarantino himself once said "If you love cinema with all your heart, you can't help but to make a good movie." I agree passion is a good quality but it does not necessarily make you into a good filmmaker. A little league ball player can have all the passion in the world, but that alone won't make him great, it will keep him playing baseball until he's old, but that doesn't make him great.

Truly, the best films I've ever seen come from filmmakers who have a unique vision, the best filmmakers are immersed within themselves, they seem to live in their own universe, and we get to experience that universe when they make films. I consider directors like Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Spielberg to be master craftsmen, they are able to forge films with strong sequences, but the true poets are filmmakers like Fellini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Welles, Kazan, Dreyer. When I see a Bergman film it's as if he's wrestling with himself, spiritually, and there's nothing like it. Sure they may all be passionate, but that quality alone isn't the the thing that defines them.

Personally, I agree with your assessment but when it comes to making your own films (speaking from my own experience), this is an impossible standard to hold yourself to. It's for others to judge if they find your work poetic or revealing of the human condition or not. All you can consciously work on is craft, whatever comes out after that will be what is already inside of you - your own unique way of seeing the world.

I think certain films and filmmakers resonate with us because our souls recognize and sense a kinship in the other - and that only because of similar life experiences and emotional sensitivities to the world. So watching films is a very personal experience, and I don't think you can say with any certainty that any one filmmaker or film is 'greater' or 'truer' than any other, only that some resonate personally with you and others do not. And that is entirely because of what you bring to the table as a human being with a wealth of life experiences to draw upon.
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#17 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 05:51 PM

All you can consciously work on is craft, whatever comes out after that will be what is already inside of you - your own unique way of seeing the world.
 

I have to disagree there.  I think if all you're consciously aware of is craft you end up on autopilot just basically shooting and lighting on habit and what has been proven to work.  You're own unique vision doesn't stumble out by accident unless you really connect with or care about the material.

 

The passion, over-excitement, whatever you want to call it will push you to both take risks and add something more personal of yourself into the work.  Those will be conscious choices you make on set that will hopefully elevate the work beyond simple storytelling.

 

I do agree that judging one filmmaker against another is pointless.  Never made sense to me.  But it's obvious that some filmmakers care more about offering a reflective vision of the world they see rather than a complete escape from it.


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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 06:27 PM

I have to disagree there.  I think if all you're consciously aware of is craft you end up on autopilot just basically shooting and lighting on habit and what has been proven to work.  You're own unique vision doesn't stumble out by accident unless you really connect with or care about the material.

Well, you still have to nurture your own inner life day to day, choose projects that you feel an affinity for, and have the confidence to make choices and not just stand by them but build on them. But I think this comes naturally to most artistic types. The problem for those starting out is always the gap between what you want to express and the ability to actually produce it. That's craft.
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#19 John E Clark

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 01:48 PM

I think Ed Wood was passionate about his filmmaking... still it was not very good, even in the era he made such "greats" as "Plan 9 from Outer Space"(1959).


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#20 joshua gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 05:50 PM

Great filmmaking doesn't come from a pretty image, what I see in Vimeo is nothing but gloss and gorgeous set design. It's as if everyone wants to be Wes Anderson all of a sudden, and I resent this Instagram generation of idiots. Great cinema comes from having an EXPERIENCE, craftsmanship is all about having the ability to create an experience that is true and dramatic. The most powerful asset in a film is the actor, and I don't mean just having your actor moping around, isolating them in a grand cinemascope setting during magic hour, I mean let them think, let them live, not just exist. And the words that flow out of their mouth should tell you more than a thousand images. Take a look at this from George Steven's 'A Place In The Sun',  this is everything that i want to do with cinema. 

 

 

It may be from a bygone era, but it's more effective than the poop I'm seeing now. I detest how some people say that words are not cinematic, they are just as much as part of cinema than any image. Look at the way the images dissolve, the way it's all put together, that is amazing craftsmanship!

 

It's good to compare a filmmaker from one another, how else will you know what's for you and what isn't.

 

Now look at the staff picks on Vimeo, and you see nothing but gloss and people looking sorry at the camera, walking around during magic hour, looking at their own reflection, etc. it's **(obscenity removed)** cheap!


Edited by joshua gallegos, 08 May 2015 - 05:52 PM.

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