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Advice from Aronofsky // 14 Truths

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Darren Aronofsky isn’t afraid to get real when giving advice to filmmakers at a masterclass. Check it out. 

  1. Poor financing is not an excuse
    “The difficulty of telling stories on film is no longer a financial problem…There are no excuses anymore. You have the power now. So the question then becomes: now that you have that technology and that power, what are you going to do with it?”
  2. Focus on stories that only you can tell…
    “…Find a story that is true to your heart and true to your soul that is very personal…Filmmaking can take you into the mind of a six-year-old girl from Iran or a 75-year-old man from Canada, and that’s the great beauty of what we do”
  3. …But be prepared not to make any money
    “The reality is that if you tell personal stories, you don’t make a lot of money, unles you’re very, very, very, very, lucky and happen to have taste that connects with lots of people”
  4. Characters should be built from the realm of the personal
    “You can only understand a character if you make them human, and making them human is making them feel the same emotion we all feel, all over the planet, no matter where we’re from.”
  5. …As well as the realm of the ordinary
    “It’s about finding those ordinary people who you think are ordinary, and really looking closely at their lives to find that they’re actually extraordinary”
  6. Most importantly, make your characters relatable
    “…Finding a universal character is just finding a character that is truthful and honest”
  7. When choosing a camera, think long-term
    “We’re not just storytellers­­––we’re visual storytellers, so you have to think about the look of the film and how that helps to tell the story”
  8. Don’t limit the sources of your inspiration
    “As a storyteller, you want to expose yourself to every type of art that you possibly can. That’s our job, to experience as much as possible and then figure out a way to use it and adapt it to tell the story you’re telling”
  9. As a director, you’re just as responsible for an actor’s performance as the actor is
    “The most important thing between actor and director is trust…It’s about having a comfortable relationship with an actor where both you realize that you’re just trying to do the best possible work”
  10. Make time to find the grammar and language of your film
    “You need to figure out a language that tells the story the best possible way… you have to try to figure out all these different tools you have and how you can create a language that’s best for the movie.”
  11. Filmmaking is like telling a joke
    “Usually, with a joke you set something up, you set it up a second time, and then the third time you put a little twist on it. I think that works with languages and cultures around the planet.
  12. Make as many shorts as you can
    “Making a great shot is very different that making a feature, but you do learn a lot…It’s a great way to sort of see what connects with audiences and what doesn’t connect with audiences.”
  13. Kill your darlings!
    “I have a saying: ‘The film isn’t done until you cut your favorite shot’… You have to be completely open to losing everything in the edit room”
  14. Your biggest mistake as a director was probably making the movie itself
    “When you start off with an idea you get so excited by it that it actually makes you kind of naïve and stupid, and you think you can do it. But then when you finish a film and you look back on how many issues you had to deal with, it’s just endless”

Check out the full article at No Film School.

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Chantal Wong

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