A Dreamer Walking

A True Artist

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 19, 2011

Did you know I do not like Alfred Hitchcock very much? Yes that is right, I do not like the master of suspense. The thing is I am fine with calling Alfred the master of suspense. He has done some brilliant things with suspense. My favorite movie of his is Psycho. I was dreading every turn in that movie. Killing off the main character half way through the film was brilliant. You had no idea what was going to happen after that. Hitchcock could give you a fright like no one else in the film business. However, none of this stuff makes me think Hitchcock was a great filmmaker. I personally think he was a very shallow filmmaker. After watching Psycho I was ready to eat not think.

Hitchcock’s films never felt like they went very much farther then the movie theater. They were admirable from a filmmaking standpoint but not from a personal standpoint. His suspense and storylines all felt like a means to an end not a beginning. I was reviewing a interview the other day on the artist Ralf Eggleston. He is a art director at Pixar. He talked about the importance of getting the idea down. He explained if you are not doing your art for the idea and emotion but only to make it pretty, it is not worth your time. Even though he was talking about the art of animation in his interview I think what he says applies to filmmaking in general. It is not good enough to have one of the two. If we create a movie with a lot of emotions, like Hitchcock did, but there is no real idea behind your film it won’t be worth much. If you create a movie with a lot of good ideas but don’t get the audience emotionally involved, we won’t care. Filmmaking is about the emotion and idea. Only when it is about both the emotion and idea, does it stop being a “nice thought” or “pretty picture”, and become something that will impact generations.

Most filmmakers these days don’t need to worry about falling low on the “emotion” aspect of movie making. They have all the tools to take us on an emotional roller coaster ride. However, most of the emotions they give us are pretty shallow. They know how to give us magnificent action sequences, luxurious love scenes, and gut wrenching shock moments. However, the ride ends as soon as you leave the movie theater. Their films usually do not satisfy because they don’t make us think. The audience is not as stupid as most movies these days lead us to believe. We can think, we actually want to think. The great filmmakers know this and they create characters, stories, and worlds that can be explored far after the audience member leaves the theater. Painting should never be about just making something look pretty and neither should film. We should not do our job just to give the audience eye candy.

Filmmaking is a personal medium where the emotion and idea is everything. Your films will stand and fall based on the strength of the idea and how well you are able to connect your audience. You are not a great artist because you can draw a pretty picture. The piece of art does not need to be pretty, it needs to be impacting. A great artist is someone who can impact us through the picture he draws, paints, or films. I personally want to make films that impact and at times even change peoples lives.  A true artist is a servant to the idea not the audience. Just, usually the best way to express the idea is through entertaining the audience. The reason why I want to give the audience a piece of “entertainment” is so they can be open to the actual idea I am presenting. You want your films to be warm enough to have audiences feel they are allowed in. However, don’t show them everything they want to see. Show them something that will impact and challange their thinking. People go to the movies to see things they haven’t seen before. Our jobs as filmmakers and artists is to explore new ideas, show the audience new perspectives, and unlock their imagination.

The Reason Why?

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on April 21, 2010

So I was watching a movie just for fun tonight. I chose one of my favorite superhero movies, Iron Man. My only intention was to veg out and be thoroughly entertained by Robert Downey Jr.’s fantastic portrayal of Iron Man. Watching the film I could not help but think about a film philosophy I am developing.

Even though I am a huge fan of the first Iron Man movie, the most interesting part, what I would call the heart of the film, comes right in the middle of the movie. The heart to me was when Tony Stark decides to fly to the Middle East and destroy his Jericho missile and stop some of the terrorism that his company was supporting behind his back.

When the movie was about helping a greater cause, I thought it was at its strongest point. When the movie turned to Tony’s long time executive co-worker Obadiah Stane as the secret villain, the movie began to lose some momentum.

Do not get me wrong, by fighting the villain Stane, Tony was helping the greater good. It just did not seem to be as relevant as fighting terrorism. The reasons to why Iron Man was fighting was not flashed before our eyes.

In the sequence where Iron Man (Tony Stark) chooses to go and fight the terrorists that had been using his weapons, we see the dilemma right in front of our eyes. Men with guns are holding Innocent civilians hostage. We, the audience, see these Innocent people and immediately feel for them. When Iron Man comes in and takes the terrorists out, we see reason to why he is doing what he is doing and the audience can relate.

Now flash forward to the sequence where Iron Man is fighting Iron Monger (Obadiah Stane), a mechanical monster that is as big as a semi and has a seemingly unlimited amount of ammo to use against Iron Man. We do not have as deep of a reason to why each character is doing what they are doing. To be honest it feels very unrealistic and thus takes away from the audience being able to relate.

It is okay to have unrealistic things in movies. The challenge however, is to make sure they still feel realistic. Everything must be grounded in reality. The strongest reality in Iron Man was terrorism. We as an audience could relate to terrorism and thus it served as a good villain.  However, the main villain was harder, for at least me, to relate to.

In each film you make, you should think of the reasons to why you are doing what you are doing. In the case of Iron Man, I saw that Tony Stark was fighting terrorism because of a conviction that he had something to do with supporting it and thus needed to set things strait. When it came to fighting the Iron Monger, the reason why became much more cliche and shallow. We saw a big monster that was fighting Iron Man, in order to get more power. We saw Iron Man fighting the monster in order to save his girl and “become a hero”. Tony Stark did not seem to have as much of a conviction while fighting Iron Monger, which made him as a character a little less interesting.

“Why” is a big question. The reason is everything. With a good film, you go into depth with your characters and story. The reason why the story goes a curtain way, needs to be thought of to its deepest point. When you find a conviction or a reason why you are making your story, you must find a way to stay with it.