Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lessons from Great Filmmakers

We've had some exciting filmmakers come to AFI this year, and I'll share some of the pearls of wizdom that stick out in my mind.

Chris Nolan (Batman Begins, The Prestige): One of Chris's earlier films, Memento, was an independent. One movie later, he was hired by Warner Bros. to direct their biggest film last year, Batman Begins. So I asked him what was the biggest difference between working on an independent film and large-scale Hollywood film. He said pretty much to him, he focuses on telling the story and depicting the characters. It's a bigger scale production, but the stroytelling remains the same. Story and Character are everything. Without them, special effects are nothing but blank fire works.

Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, Talented Mr. Ripley, Breaking and Entering): I was really curious about this one. Mr. Minghella always writes the films he directs. I plan on doing the same thing as for me writing and directing come hand-in-hand. But screenwriting requires obsessive isolation, and it's difficult to do when there are so many social distractions. So I was curious how he manages to have a family life and write, let alone direct his films and promote them. He said he goes out to a cabin away from society to do his writing. But the funny thing is that nobody takes him seriously when he says he's writing up in the wilderness. They think he's out playing.

David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mullholand Drive, Blue Velvet): David Lynch also writes and directs. But he makes the strangest/darkest films. Surreal journey films through the dark side of the mind. I love what he did in Mullholand Drive. His images don't leave your mind. Well, with his new movie, "Inland Empire", he went all out crazy. He used a little video camera and very little care with lighting. I think I hated the film at first, but then a while later I realized that it still resonates its madness. Anyway, so Mr. Lynch is big on meditation and philanthropic work. So it's interesting that in real life he's a good caring person, but in his movies he loves to depict monsters. Similarly, last year I met Quentin Tarantino at a coffee shop. We chatted for a bit and I found him to be a very nice and humble guy. Yet his movies are celebrations of violence. Bottom line, all this is comforting to me because I plan to make some really dark films in the future about psychologically fucked-up characters. Yes, I also plan to make comedies, but there's somethign really enjoyable about psychological suspense. Watch "Old Boy" or "Lady Vengeance". Amazing Korean films by Chan-wook Park that push the boundaries.

Jean Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen, A Very Long Engagement): I love Jeunet's films. He has a visual and rhythmic signature that defines his films as other-worldly. He had so much to share, but the big thing he kept reiterating is that all his movies are explorations of the same theme. I find that I have the tendency to write about characters dreaming of doing something bigger than their limits. Whether it's Abu Raed dreaming to see the world, or a kid wanting to break his socio-economic barriers, or even the stories of characters who want to be superheros, American or Jordanian, all these scripts and ideas explore the same theme. It's a fascinating thing, the sub-conscious mind. They say story-telling is merely us trying to understand the universe within.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Amin,

I think writing and directing is very important for those unique sensitive writers, who want to reflect their point of view and the main idia with all the tiny details to the viewrs.
Some call it "one man show" or selfish...I don't agree with them...I think the job will not be perfect if the writer didn't direct it himself. If you write the script, and I directed it, the end result will not be identical.
If the writer has the abilty to write and direct himself, the work should be perfect.
When I say perfect, I mean the work will be very close to the writers character, now it all depends on how people like this character, and how the writer's personality is accepted to viewers.
This kind of work, I mean combining writing and directing is very difficult, because you have to have to be alive, love what you are doing, work from your heart, and enjoy every single part of the work.
once you have it all, then you are on the track...
I think you have it all... just reading your article about "follow your heart" it says it all... and how you switched from your old career to making movies is a big jump, which need someone who loves his dream, and beleive he can make it happen...
Amin... when I read your cv... and your blog.... I know you will make might take some time, but you will make it.
Good luck, and God Bless you.

6:55 PM  

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