What Will's Watching: Understanding filmmaking
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:51pm
This is What Will's Watching, a weekly column about developments in film media and the expansion of the culture surrounding it. If you have a suggestion for a topic for Will to discuss, leave it in the comments section or email Will here at WhatWillsWatching@gmail.com
Ever since I made it clear that I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career, many people have asked me the same question: "What is it that you like about making movies?"
I'm sure that when people ask me this question they expect a simple explanation like "I really enjoy giving direction" or "I've had a lot of fun experiences with film" or even simply "I really like movies." These statements are all true, but the reason I want to pursue filmmaking as more than a hobby is a bit harder to explain. This is true for all kinds of art: it tends to just be a feeling that you can't explain or quantify.
Luckily, communicating this feeling has been the subject of many different films over the years.
One of the most silly yet genuine films of this genre is the movie "Be Kind Rewind." Jack Black stars as a doofy but loveable film enthusiast that runs an old video rental store. After a freak mishap, all the tapes are erased, leaving Black with nothing to give to the few customers he still has. In the mother of all last minute plans, Black and his friend attempt to recreate the erased films, using incredibly low budget special effects and inexperienced actors. This movie captures the manic fun and creative energy that can be found in filmmaking.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, "Living in Oblivion" is a much more darkly comedic and realistic depiction of film making. Steve Buscemi is a director that is working on a low budget independent film. Where "Be Kind Rewind" shows the fun ideal of working to create movies, "Living in Oblivion" depicts a project in which everything and anything goes wrong. Actors begin butting heads, the director of photography has an emotional breakdown, and the smoke machine explodes.
You watch as Buscemi and everyone involved in the project slowly go crazy with stress and begin to question their involvement in the project. Even though this film shows a lot of what can be stressful in this line of work, there's a particular sequence where suddenly and miraculously every element works perfectly together and the cast and crew become one flowing body. Because of elements like this, "Living in Oblivion" is a great movie to view if you want to understand the stresses a film maker is willing and prepared to go through in order to bring about his vision.
The final film that I will touch on is the critically acclaimed documentary "American Movie." It is the story of a modest but determined filmmaker named Mark Borchardt and his attempts to finish his long-running horror project "Coven." Mark is a hardworking and steadfast person who seems to embody the creative drive and resolve that many filmmakers aspire to. Mark works nearly 24/7 in order to make his film and finds a way to keep his optimistic and lighthearted attitude, even when everything seems to go wrong (and it often does). The documentary is fun and enjoyably goofy, as you quickly grow attached to Mark and the other varied personalities that work with him. You slowly become more and more invested in the story, hoping that Mark can somehow overcome the many roadblocks on the way to completing the project.
Viewing these movies should help you better understand what makes a filmmaker. Each artist has a drive to create, and will wade through rivers of stress and work to reach the few glimpses of creative accomplishment. Even though it looks like a demanding field of work, I guarantee you that each of the filmmakers featured would gladly suffer it and more in order to create.
If you have a suggestion for a topic for will to discuss, leave it in the comments section or email Will here at WhatWillsWatching@gmail.com