from its beginning we looked at cinema as an end, not a means. we were attracted by its wizardry. we focused on expanding and refining its dramatic and aesthetic potential. with digital, that battle has been decisively won. we are now the complete masters of images. we can make them do and show whatever we wish. yes, the technology can still be enhanced in the future but the system has clearly reached a plateau. nothing radically new can be expected for the medium as we know it. already cinema feels worn-out, a contraption that has given its all, an apparatus that has earned a dignified send-off .
it is time to look elsewhere. my advice—it should be clear by now—is to go back to basics, to life 101, to what was always taken for granted by the medium, its substratum, its underlying layer, the vital forces that animate all there is in the world. as a civilization, we have barely scratched the surface in our understanding of life, nature, and the rest of the cosmos. the (your) challenge is to tackle the depth of our everyday experience, one step, one encounter, one situation at a time.
as soon as you turn pro, you are stuck in the system for the rest of your working life. hitchcock mourned the fact that his celebrity status kept him from directing the kind of low budget, more experimental movies truffaut, godard, and others were able to make at the time. once a pro, you can never go back. to be an amateur is to be free.
the danger whenever you make a film, even as an independent, is that you immediately begin stargazing. in other words, you start fantasizing about a successful showing at sundance or cannes, meetings with producers or distributors, a rewarding career thereafter, etc. in other words, you are putting yourself where the industry wants you: as a beggar. you have been tamed, defanged, castrated. with thousands and thousands in the same situation, you are putting all your hopes on winning the lottery. don’t fool yourself. most times, nothing happens.
a file however is something else. hollywood couldn’t care less. so you don’t have to kowtow to the big boys. you don’t have to beg. and you can avoid the foolishness that makes the industry what it is: the trappings, the egos, and the inanity of it all. keep the endeavor as simple as it can be. assemble the best sequence of images and sounds you are capable of and ship it out.
filemakers of the world: leave the plodding behemoth behind. it is time to create an art fit for this century.
you are not making a film because it is a job, because you like the work, or even because you are good at it. you are making a film because there is something about the project that intrigues you: a theme, a character, a location, and you want to discover what that is. it means you are going out on a limb. you hope there will be enough to keep you going as well as interest others in the project. but, and this is important, you are not making a film for yourself nor are you making it for other people. you are making it because you want to see what this film is like when it’s done. sure enough, there are times when you’ll end up disappointed. but epiphanies will turn up too. the feeling then is not unlike what you experience when, playing chess, your humble pawn turns into a formidable queen. these moments, i promise you, will be very sweet indeed.
i bid you godspeed.