An artist, in any form, must have the backbone to continue their work no matter what. What, however, constitutes the “backbone of an artist?” It is my opinion that the backbone is twofold. The first element of the artist’s backbone must be the knowledge they have of the medium. It is very important to have knowledge of what you are doing. Yes, a lot of artists have a natural talent that they were born with, but even they have to learn elements of their craft. Whether it is color hues or good plot structure, we must have knowledge. Sometimes it is natural knowledge. Sometimes we just know how to do something. Other times we must study hard to learn this knowledge.
I will speak from a filmmaker’s point of view. One of the most important aspects any filmmaker can do is to study film theory. A lot of young filmmakers sometimes want to skip this step and go right into making their first film. This isn’t necessarily a bad move, but it isn’t the best one either. Once a person has a grasp on at least one film theory, and has studied at least one or two films, then he or she can begin to make films that will exceed whatever they would’ve made cold turkey. Once we see how others have done something we will then have the tools to make our own pieces. We also have the ability, and the knowledge, to make something even better. Film Theory is crucial.
Other art forms are the same way. Study what has come before and you will surely succeed going forward. The second aspect of the backbone of an artist is the drive to persist. An artist without the drive to persist is like a car without wheels. It will never go anywhere. Don’t get stuck in the mud. I have seen people with immense talent squander it. The problem is that they don’t have the drive to continue on with their talent. They don’t have a passion for it. It’s a shame when someone has talent but fails to use it. However, if you simply don’t want to do something, no matter how good you may be at it, you won’t do it or, at the very least, do a poor job. You can have all the theory and history packed into your brain, but without the drive and the passion to do the work, then nothing will become of it.
However, once you have these two elements you will be golden. As the writer of The Filmmaker’s Reel, I will strive to provide the first part of this backbone. In upcoming posts I will be diving into film theory and film analysis. Hopefully this can be a starting point for some beginner filmmakers out there. As for the second part, well, that is a natural drive that you must find yourself. Nobody can teach you to have a passion for something. It is a part of you.