How to build the perfect creative engine.
Create Originality in Filmmaking. Kayne West and Kim Kardashian are the worlds most famous couple. The idea that self-selective, self absorbed psychopaths building a brand of obvious that doesn’t really say anything, or change a single ounce of humanity, is what the western world wants to eat at the moment.
It doesn’t feel healthy, we all know it’s damaging, some of us choose to rightly ignore it, some pretend that they do, and the rest, either knowingly or unknowingly, allow it to inform the majority of their creative decisions.
Part of me wants to believe that the writers strike a few years ago in Hollywood was now the reason ideological writers and directors are finding their way through creating, and successfully selling, amazing TV shows like True Detective and Breaking Bad. All off the premise of expert storytelling, great directing and amazing acting. Certainly since the strike, quality on our television sets went kaaaabooooom!
A lot is going to have to change at the grass roots, right here, if we want mainstream cinema to-do the same.
To quote an ancient Japanese proverb…
“Rather than chase the cat, take away the plate…”
It’s not a question of money, nor of politics, it’s about…
“changing the perceptions of the young minds of the world.”
As the brilliant Jodorowsky puts it.
A young mind that wants change will seek out everything that grants this. Unfortunately not a great deal of indie cinema is aimed at the millennium generation these days, in fact, I don’t ever really recall it being the case when I was 15. But what was different was certainly the structure of the commercial film market and the type of films being released were very, VERY inspiring.
If you know that you may have had an issue with creating original content in your work, please take a look at this. We really think we’re on to something…
The boy meets girl, the zombie apocalypse ego fuelled nonsense that gives us nothing, and delivers little.
The same camera shot tracking with the “guy with the gun” over and over, film after film.
Sometimes we wish we weren’t so critical but it is hard not to be, especially when you know that the potential for maximum creativity is huge and even more frustrating, huge within you!
Open your mind to change.
A rising crane shot into the sunset, a war time silent sound track punctuated with a heart beat, the English bad guy, etc. etc. ad infinitum, were all once moments of pure creation. They were so powerful that they stuck in our collective subconscious and got recycled. Then these recycles got recycled and cliché was born. Is that moment that you fell in love with really pure invention? Look a little closer. Sometimes the answers arrived at most easily are not the best. Avoid cliché like the plague. It is a tricky beast and kills invention.
Avoiding cliché is a philosophy that should aim towards turning you into an artist. Making the art inside of you grow by understanding the fundamentals of acting, writing, directing, set dressing, dialogue, improv, and using this understanding to create genuine originality. If you make films or write scripts for any other purpose then either change your mind now, or unsubscribe.
The art will always win, we believe this to our core…
Hence the reason we put on our film festivals and continue to do so as often as possible, charging minimum entry fees to our audiences and trying as much as we can to return the investment through our knowledge and experience to the submitters that pay us.
“It’s so difficult to come up with ideas for a film, especially when the festivals, production houses, and sales agents all want originality…”
No it isn’t…
Originality is something that is so broad a subject and covers so much that it is difficult to really quantify without sounding either pompous, epically deranged, or completely full of shit… But we’ll try.
Find an ideology.
What do you like? Do you remember watching a particular film as a child, and finding yourself so incredibly submersed by it’s story that you’d rewind the tape or skip back the DVD (trying not to be ageist) and start it all over again?
For many of my generation the complete story was Robert Zemericks’ Back to The Future.
The films did everything right.
Robert Zemericks’ rule, his ideology was to tie the story up, leave no plot holes and end the stories (part 1, 2 and 3) each with a clear resolution but with an epic step forward at the end…
At the end of the first film…
“Roads! Where we’re going we don’t need roads…”
At the end of the second film…
Ext. Night. 1955. The time machine with the doc inside gets struck by lightning. A mysterious man turns up and delivers a note to Marty, who just witnessed the Docs epic accident. The man is from the US Mail service, the note is from the Doc circa 1885!!!
“1885!!! The Doc’s alive, he’s alive in 1885!!”
“Son, what does it mean? Do you need any help?!”
“There’s only one man who can help me!!!”
(Que the awesome soundtrack and shivers down the spines of the would be brave)
Cut to: The penultimate scene from the first back to the future.. The doc had just sent Marty back to 1985.
He let’s out a cheer.
The camera, on the jib, raises slightly to reveal the rest of the road behind the Doc…
Then, sprinting round the corner is Marty Mcfly running toward him (the 1955 Doc) to tell him about the bolt of lightning, the postal clerk, the letter and 1885.
The Doc sees Marty and screams!
“Doc! Doc! It’s me!! It’s me, it’s Marty!”
“No, it can’t be, I just sent you back to the future…”
“That’s right Doc, I’m back, I’m back from the future…”
The doc faints…
The ending of Back to the Future part 3
Totally sticking to the sewing up ideology of the writer/director – a top and tail ending a very similar visual reference from the first film…
EXT. Day. 1985. The train flys!!!!!
Absolutely, one of the greatest story paradoxes ever told in the history of humanity. In our opinion. Storytelling 101.
Think we’re being far fetched? – Watch those films again, they are perfectly crafted in many, many ways. And this is mostly in part to the directors relentless pursuit of tying his damnedness to tie up any possible plot holes.
That was his ideology, and from this ideology came his creativity and this is where the originality was born, where it was fed and where it grew.
Isn’t it thrilling? Self discovery is a pilgrimage many artists take, it can take us off course, back on to it, into many disciplines, and ultimately to locations of wonder and absolute amazement.
What you must do as a writer or a filmmaker if you want to create original work…
— engage with original work, originally.
— learn what you love.
— know why you love it.
— set out to create a world where the journey exists and is defined on those exact principle(s).
— sticking to your parameters/ideology prior to setting out, and never leaving it.
A story ideology never does anyone any harm. Before I give you the next example I’d like to make it clear that a story ideology isn’t a picture in your mind, a character, a shot, a conversation or a colour grade… It is a fully breathing machine that is created before everything else and it where you originality will be born.
Here, in my second example, an idea of another filmmakers story machine…
J.J Abrams gives below an excellent Ted Talk where he discusses his ideology and where, from engaging in the films he loved, he learnt to understand exactly what it was he loved about them and then used that love to form his own originality machine, the mystery box.
The idea of the mystery box – seems almost like a form of plagiarism but it isn’t, it’s just a drive J.J had installed, which now runs his creativity, giving him wave upon wave of originality, which has even crossed disciplines and moved into literature. He has tapped into something, and he is doing the most amazing thing, by sharing his ideology with the world…
See the Ted Talk here… https://www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box
Breaking down a few ideologies that I’ve noticed as an audience member it’s good to notice what sort of machines are out there too…
Tarantino (feature films)- an actor and dialogue driven ideology that at every opportunity the fantastical is bent to show humanity. A war path to make every film as heightened as possible but grounding it all in the everyday with mundane conversation being at the forefront of set-ups and character development.
Chris Cunningham (music videos) – the investigation into a limited colour palette that’s intention is to allow the music to be the spectrum throughout his music videos and to only associate the action on screen to the colours utilised, normally greys and blacks.
David Lynch (film and TV) – A singular aim to use depth of field, depth of character and the narrative environment to engulf the lead protagonists into a dream. The dream is the boundless environment, but the narrative always forms a loose cage, giving Lynch rules on where to move the story forward, where to ask a question of the character or where to question the audience. Lynch’s ideology spurred in the early 90’s and literally created the box set TV series. No Lynch, no Twin Peaks, XFiles, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, or True Detective…you get the idea.
Create Originality in Filmmaking. In Summary.
It is safe to say that it is now your task to watch all of the films you love and dig into them why it is that you do. Once you get that noted, build your ideology, get yourself embedded with the idea of what it is that makes you tick as an audience member. Then wait, the ideas will start to, absolutely, flood your mind. When they do, pick one, write it, film it…
Once this is all done, and the film is in the can, be sure to submit it.