Every time I try to write a blog post my browser crashes halfway though and I end up losing the 20 minutes worth of ramblings I’ve written down so far.
It just happened to me again, so, I’m going to try and tackle this topic/issue/question for the second time with hopefully a better approach.
Recently I’ve been reading a book of interviews from Spielberg, ranging from his first feature film Dual to his most recent work at the time of the books publication (2000).
During an interview after he’d released Close Encounters of the Third Kind the interviewer asks him:
“What advice do you have for those people that decide they want to make movies for the rest of their lives?”
To which he replies:
“For people who are interested in directing movies, I’d say: start as young as you possibly can and make your own films, rather than reading about other people who have made their own films.”
Now, after reading, re-reading and then feeling stumped/confused and slightly annoyed by his answer, I wrote it down on a post it note and stuck it to my desk. For the past week I’ve looked at that post it and thought, “I should really make a blog post about that because it’s bugging me and I need to find out why”.
So here it is, blog post #3 – Allowing myself to make films.
First off, the reason this quote really hit me is because I read a lot about other filmmakers, their films and film theory almost daily (probably daily - more like daily) and don’t make nearly as many films as I’d like to. I want to make more films but I almost prioritise learning about films that have already been made so that when I do finally get down to it, I’ll perhaps make something half decent.
I’ve made a couple of films so far, some that I’ve hidden away for no one to see and none of which I like. I just don’t think they’re good. To me everything that I’ve made so far has been a learning curve, and looking back on my films I can see that each time I make something it’s a little better, more coherent, thought through.
In this book of interviews it’s funny, I’m still yet to read Spielberg say he’s truly happy with what he’s made or looks back on it thinking it’s shows him best as a filmmaker.
I guess my problem is this – am I wasting my time reading about other filmmakers when I should be making my own films instead?
The simple and probably blatant answer here would be “why don’t you do both?”, but I feel as if Spielberg is giving me an ultimatum here. Either read about how other people have fulfilled their dreams or go and realise your own.
Can I just go off and make my own films though? Will they actually be good? Will they have thought out and realised characters? Will the story be one that furthers our society by making a comment on human nature, political corruption or that our lives really are extraordinary?
Surely I can only communicate these things effectively by studying the great filmmakers who have come before me and the cinematic techniques they’ve used? Or should I be making films once a week, learning, getting better, and telling my own stories?
What’s stopping me from making films?
I have such a belief in the fact that if you’re going to be a filmmaker and tell stories that whatever you tell should contribute positively to society. Make a film about something and have something to say.
I was listening to a podcast last week from Christian Schultz and Jared Hogan talking about Tarantino’s new movie The Hateful Eight and the topic up for debate was, is it a good film? To cut a podcasts worth of ideas short, it was concluded that the film although a thrill, didn’t actually have anything to say. I’m not sure what that has to do with the issue at hand, but it was an observation I thought on for the days following.
So what do I do? The one person probably reading this (Mum) will most likely be thinking, “he’s asking so many questions but hasn’t really found any answers”.
It’s true; I still have no real idea what to make of the quote and how it affects me. But there is one thing I know for sure, that I’m not making enough films.
Part of what hit me so much when I read Spielberg’s response was a sense of guilt. I know that I could be making more films, they might not be good, but I can be making more. I’ve set myself such a high standard for what I have to achieve in making a film that I’ve become afraid to make anything in case it’s ‘bad’.
So my solution – every week for the next 5 weeks I’m going to make a short film. They’ll be bad and probably worse than what I’ve got up online at the moment, but I’ll be making something and learning from it. And by the end of the 5 weeks I’ll have 5 new short films that I can either archive on my hard drive or upload to the Internet.
Although this doesn’t really provide an answer to all my questions, it’ll help me to stop feeling guilty that I’m not producing enough work and making enough films.
After I’ve made all 5 films I’ll re-approach this topic and see how I feel about it then. There’s definitely more to explore here, but I’m not going to crack it all in one night.
But hey, I’m 20, midway through film school and already asking these questions. That has to count for something right?