“It’s not a matter of what you have, but how you use it.”
This quote popped up on a friend’s feed this week in relation to a man playing an old guitar with one string. But it got me thinking about my own work. When I was in college (in the early 1990’s – when we were still cutting and splicing film – ha!), my film school hosted an exchange program with instructors from Poland. This was just a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell. They arrived in New York and stood in front of a bunch of eager, if not jaded, film students and taught us one of the best lessons on resilience – ever. Under the restraints of communism, they were making films scrutinized by state censorship, using outdated equipment, and had little or no money. Despite all of this they were coming away with remarkable films – pushing their creative boundaries to work around their limitations and tell the story they wanted to tell. And in turn had great stories to tell about how they made it!
Today, things are different. Top of the line equipment and editing software are easily available and often affordable – and you can get your work to the whole world via the internet. So – my question becomes to filmmakers – with resources so readily at hand, are you still pushing your own limits? With everyone able to make a good looking, slickly edited film with nice title sequences and original music – what sets you apart as “you”? How is the story you’re telling unique? I think that’s important.
We’re all influenced by other artists, but then how are we taking that inspiration and filtering it through our own heart and mind?
In other words – what are you breaking to tell your story? Are you telling it like YOU want to – or are you thinking about industry standards and logistics you “need” to meet for one reason or another? That’s cool. But – I’m here to encourage you to do the former instead. Tell me about your story, not your equipment. Or rather – tell me HOW your equipment fits into your story. How did you make it work to give you exactly the shot you saw in your head as you were going to sleep last night? That’s the vision I want to see on screen, not an homogenized version. Your brain interests me, I want to see what’s in there – just as you’ve seen it, and immediately know it’s yours.
Below is a photo of my friend Connie, an oft co-conspirator – who takes amazing TTV photos (Through the Viewfinder) using a contraption she taped together. – And above, is one of my favorite images of hers. I learn so much from her willingness to try new things, and because of that have been pushing myself more to get exactly what I want – in visual, in story, in acting, in narrative structure… If a straight-forward approach is what’s in your heart – awesome, I want to see that too. I often refer to my cast/crew members as co-conspirators not only because we’re putting heads together to work out a production or creative issue, but because they keep my integrity and sincerity in tact. I prefer to work with people who will push me to use every bit of my resilience to achieve what’s in my head, and not short-change my story. For instance, my next project involves re-defining my own narrative structure to move through the set perimeters of another person’s film canon. (stay tuned…)
It’s all about the story, right? And whatever it takes to tell it – we’ll do it. Yes? The world’s audiences are savvy and ready for that. So, I want to say, if you haven’t already, take whatever you have at your disposal and cross your own boundaries! We can’t wait to see it.
(Connie with her TTV tunnel, to see more of Connie’s work, visit www.flowerquetzal.com)