Nowadays, one can find online all sorts of advice on movie making but especially are aplenty the advice-quotes from the globally acclaimed filmmakers, film directors and screenwriters. Despite their fame and popularity, mostly attributed to 1990s and early 2000s, their advice can be misleading, for the gurus themselves are not quite perfect, which absolutely fine if one who reads the advice has an independent and analytical thinking.
Here is a list of the ‘gurus’ misleading advice-quotes together with some food for thought – the latter for the ones who wish to mule over the advice in question. Perhaps, while doing so, one will come up with one's own ideas and thoughts worth sharing.
1. Alfred Hitchcock – a master of sadistic suspense and audience manipulation – Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), Rebecca (1940)
Alfred’s ill-best advice: ‘Always make the audience to suffer as much as possible’.
Food for thought: Why would anyone want to make their audience suffer? Movies are supposed to educate, elevate, fascinate, entertain, and make people better.
2. Christopher Nolan – a master of psychological manipulation and dream hacking – Memento (2000), The Dark Knight Rising (2012), Inception (2010)
Christopher’s ill-best advice: ‘My approach with actors is to try and give them whatever it is that they need from me. Direction to me is about listening and responding and realising how much they[actors] need to know from me and how much they have figured out for themselves, really.’
Food for thought: A film director is not a counsellor or a psychotherapist who lends his ear to the ones in need of it, a good film director is the leader with a clear creative vision. The vision that shared in a comprehensive and engaging way with the team invites to contribute ideas and together make a successful filmmaking journey to the final destination of a completed movie.
3. Steven Spielberg – a master of sci-fi ‘horror’, war sufferings, and alien ‘invasions’ – War of the Worlds (2005), Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993), The Bridge of Spies (2015), E.T.(1982)
Steven’s ill-best advice: ‘You cannot start a movie with an attitude that the script is finished, because if you think that the script is finished, your movie is finished before the first day of the first day of shooting.’
Food for thought: If a film director cannot start a with ‘an attitude that the script is finished’ then such a director is either has not finished the script (in case if it is his own script) and thus starts shooting a movie with no clear vision of the final product or he/she does not respect the work of a fellow screenwriter who did finish his/her script and intrusted it into the hands of the film director. Working on the finished script means to visualising it into a movie and not wasting time thinking it is not finished.
4. Quentin Tarantino – a master of aesthetic violence – Kill Bill (2003), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Hateful Eight (2015)
Tarantino’s ill-best advice: ‘I steal from every single movie ever made.’
Food for thought: ‘To steal’ means to take something from someone in order to benefit from making it one’s own. In the context of movie making and screenwriting it becomes plagiarising someone else’s work. A true creative person does not plagiarise, he/she gets inspired by the ideas of others and with this inspiration in hand creates something unique of his/her own.
5. David Fincher – a master of distorted point of view – Gone Girl (2014), Fight Club (1999), Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), House of Cards (2013-2018)
David’s ill-best advice: ‘The thing I always say to any writer that I’m working with is this: Just make sure that in any argument, EVERYONE is right. I want every single person arguing the righteous side of the argument. That makes interesting drama.’
Food for thought: Although, there is some sense in the statement, for each argument has two or more sides or truths to it, absolutely EVERYONE cannot be right as there is a universal truth as opposed to the right of being right in any argument. The right of being right is just a point of view on a universal truth. Perhaps, what Fincher meant was simply everybody’s right to be right but then where one should look for the truth?
6. James Cameron – a master of physical and psychological destruction - Terminator (1984), Titanic (1997), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989)
James’ ill-best advice: ‘Pick up the camera. Shoot something, no matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and sister star in it. Put on it your name as a director. Now, you are a director. Everything after that, you are just negotiating your budget and your fee.’
Food for thought: Shooting just something no matter what and how and putting your name on it in order to negotiate the budget and your fee very much resembles a con. One cannot become a film director simply by putting one’s name onto something and asking for money. Film directors are grown out of and because of their experience, practice and talent.
7. David Lynch – a master of surrealism and complications - Twin Peaks (1990), Mulholland Drive (2001)
David’s ill-best advice: ‘Life is very, very complicated, and so films should be allowed to be too.’
Food for thought: Even though life might present itself to some individuals as very, very complicated, the genius still lies in the simplicity. Movies are made not to complicate already a complicated view of some individuals on life but to make things clearer, more comprehensive, and thus more understood and appreciated. Note: the meaning and the plot line together with the end of the David’s movie, Mulholland Drive (2001), is still a great mystery to movie critics and industry gurus alike. No one has been able to crack it yet. Q: what was the point then?
8. Peter Jackson – a master of the fantasy worlds just for one – Lord of The Rings (2001-2003), Hobbit (2012-2013), The Lovely Bones (2009)
Peter’s ill-best advice: ‘Film is such a powerful medium. It’s like a weapon, and I think you have a duty to self-censor.’
Food for thought: If one regards movie making and movies as a weapon then one is certainly in the wrong industry. Film is indeed a powerful medium and should be used to make world better – it is a transformer not a killer. Self-censoring seems to be the wrong word here, though, perhaps, the meaning of it is quite right. If one is mature and wise enough one will not need to self-censor, for one’s intentions will be the most honourable ones regarding the usage of the movie magic to common good.
Seraphima Nickolaevna Bogomolova