A Dreamer Walking

Trust the Audience!

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on August 19, 2010

Trust is a big key when it comes to making a film. Not just trust in the crew around you, but trust in the people you are making the film for. I have seen more and more shallow characters and predictable plots because  the film business has lost their trust in the audience that they make films for.

Filmmakers need to have a story worth telling. Part of respecting and trusting the audience is having faith that they can handle something new. We also need to have film with a message worth telling. I think that we often have predictable and shallow story lines because we claim to “not want to be preachy”. Even though I am fully against being “preachy” to my audience I have the responsibility to give them something to think about. “Preaching” is  telling the audience what to think. If you trust your audience you will not tell them what to think, you will give them something to think about.

A good filmmaker thinks just as much about what he is going to not show the audience as he thinks of what he is going to show the audience. It is often said that the audience could imagine far more creative things then what we are able to put on film. Because of the lack of special effects in the 1980’s, Steven Spielberg needed to find a different way to express the alien E. T in E. T the Extra-Terrestrial. All we are allowed to see of the main character E. T for the most of the film is his hands and voice. We the audience are able to create a picture of this character in our head. Even though the actual model of E. T didn’t work very well for Steven, he took away enough to make our mind fill in the wholes and E. T became just as alive in our heads as any human actor.

When studying someone like Clint Eastwood, you see that he does not like to answer every question that is thrown out in his movies. He allows the audience to make judgments for themselves. In  Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood leaves the future of  the main character William Munny up to the audience to decide.  Clint does not make everything that is going on in a characters head obvious, we need to study even the little things the character does to figure out what he or she is thinking. Clint has talked at length about not showing a character in the same light all the time. Clint intentionally lights his characters differently so sometimes the eyes or whole face is shadowed and we are not allowed to pay attention through the way we are used to  and need to figure the character out though studying different things such as the vocal tone or the way the character moves.

Trusting the audience can be a very hard thing. To figure out what is best to leave to the imagination is tough. However, what you leave out is just as crucial as what you put in. As filmmakers we need to figure out the fine line to walk. We need to realize that the audience can sometimes create things we can not. Movies are not about preaching, they are about letting the audience think for themselves. As filmmakers we must never forget that we make films for the audience. As a filmmaker I will give the audience something to think about and I will trust the audience to answer the questions my stories pose.

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