Fellow film-makers, one piece of advice that I feel I can impart is the importance of looking to the past for guidance. It is, of course, extremely important to have your own point of view, but do not underestimate the value of what you can learn from the filmmakers and movements of yesteryear. They paved the way and got us to where we are today, special effects and massive budgets, for better or worse. Evidence of the most important film movements in film history can be seen in most current work, as even the top directors of today pay homage to their predecessors. So for kicks, a little history lesson:
One of the earliest film movements that most people have seen the vestiges of without even knowing it is German Expressionism. All one has to do is watch a Tim Burton flick or two to see the trace elements from this great movement that was prominent in the post-WWI years.
Dominated by abstract and often distorted imagery, with some symbolism thrown in here and there, Expressionistic films were a departure from the naturalistic style that had dominated art for so long. Spawning auteurs like Fritz Lang, one of the most famous examples of this style can be seen in Robert Wiene’s 1919 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I dare you not to descend slightly into madness while watching the bizarre dreamscape that is this film.
Another groundbreaking movement to look to for inspiration is the French New Wave that began in the 1950s. Pioneers like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard put this way of film-making on the map, establishing the ideas of mise-en-scene (“putting into the scene” and long shots in place of frequent cuts) and that a director’s work is his art form and he should therefore be in complete control of how it is handled and presented to the masses.
While this had proved impossible in earlier years with the control most studios had over finances and production, changing laws allowed new, unknown directors to establish themselves and create their visions.
Today, there are still funding issues and large studios that prevent some of the smaller talent from getting noticed, but there are also many resources for beginners and independent cinema has its day in the sun at film festivals like Sundance, venues created to champion a filmmaker’s artistic vision must like the New Wavers (and Hello! Fantastic sites like Zooppa!)
I could go on to describe the numerous other waves that filtered into film history, like Italian Neo-Realism, Film Noir, etc., but part of the fun of being a lover of film is looking back and discovering these things for yourself. With such differing styles, you’re bound to find some you don’t care for, and others that may inspire you in ways you never dreamed of. So I encourage everyone, take a breather every now and then from creating those awesome videos and treat yourself to a movie night.