On the Beach

Inspiration can strike you anywhere. Some people get inspired in their dreams; some people get inspired through things that they do, and some people get inspired by the places they visit. Nature is a great source of inspiration for many artists. It’s like a treasure trove just waiting to be unlocked. This week I took a walk on a beach and it got me thinking about all the stories that could be told from this location. You have the ocean, a great unknown, which could be the basis for many a story. Think of all the stories which could be told. You have the great depths of the oceans which are unexplored, you have boats, and you have the beach. I don’t find myself at the beach often (I don’t really like the beach if I’m being honest here), so I guess that would explain why I never really thought of the beach as a place to tell a story. I realize now, however, that every location on this planet can inspire some story to tell.

Film has the power to take an audience to a place they have never been before, and it has the power to show us a side of life we have never experienced. Every story, however, needs to start somewhere. It can be a fleeting thought which grabs your attention. That’s all you need. Just one thought. With that thought you can create worlds that don’t exist, or explore themes which create a fire within you. Run with it and don’t let it hinder your creative energy. If we give in and don’t explore a thought fully then we are only cheating ourselves. Explore the world and find your source of inspiration. It could be right around the corner.

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Don’t Compromise Your Vision

Have you ever had a vision of how your film should be, but then change it drastically because others around you are pressuring for the change? It is not a pretty sight. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t take advice and/or suggestions about your film. I think that there can be a healthy balance between your artistic vision and the suggestions made by cast and crew members. What I am saying is this: don’t throw out your idea completely just because someone tells you to. Unless you truly like their ideas better you will come to regret your decision. The best thing you can do is film their idea and your idea and see what works in editing. You could also not take their ideas into consideration at all, but at least make it seem like you considered it.

Sometimes we have to get creative because of circumstances out of our control. It is when a person on set constantly questions your visions that things can get troublesome. It has the potential of creating a toxic environment. Take a deep breath, be polite, and stick to your vision. There must have been a reason you had that specific vision, so don’t compromise it. The more you change your film based on the ideas of others around you (unless you genuinely like those ideas better), the more your film becomes somebody else’s vision. You see this kind of thing all the time in Hollywood when producers and production companies think they know more about film-making and storytelling than directors and writers. Many filmmakers have disowned films they have made because it wasn’t truly their vision. Never find yourself in this situation if you can help it. It can be a brutal experience.

The Vault: Volume 6

Hello everyone! It has been a while since the last edition of the vault, so what better thing to do than to write volume 6 right now!? This volume is going to be a little different from the previous five, however. This time around I will be including video clips to go along with each of my selections.

1.) Gettysburg (1993)

Gettysburg, a film by Ronald F. Maxwell, is one of my favorite historical films. It is based off the civil war novel Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The film is beautifully shot, and, along with the soundtrack (one of my personal favorites), really is able to create an atmosphere which grabs your attention and keeps you watching. This is important to note because the film is very long. It is over four hours in length (four hours fourteen minutes to be exact, and the extended edition is around seventeen minutes longer than that!). Don’t let the length of the film deter you, however. I can assure you that this four hour film feels like a two hour film. It goes by so quickly each time you watch it. As the name implies, much of the film focuses on the battle of Gettysburg, but the first half of the film does feature some other battles preceding Gettysburg. It is a fine film, and one which I believe everyone should watch at least once.

2.) In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Winner of the 1967 academy award for Best Picture, this film crime film really packs a punch even today. It tells the story of a black detective stuck in the Deep South who somehow helps solve a murder case. It has several tense moments during its run-time, and always keeps you guessing until the final moments. For anyone who is interested in crime films, or detective stories, this film is for you. It is a good example of how to bring pieces of evidence together so that the audience becomes another detective in the story trying to figure out whodunit.

3.) The Mirror (1975)

Andrei Tarkovsky is one of my favorite filmmakers. I have already included his 1972 film Solaris on a previous edition of the Vault. The Mirror, one of his most difficult films to get into, was my first foray into his films. I remember being completely confused by it. In fact, I still am. I mean this, however, in a good way. Each time I have viewed this film I have liked it more and more. It is essentially a collection of fragments like that of a dream, or of a stream of memories. There really isn’t much of a plot either. The film also switches between color, black & white, and sepia toned footage; seemingly at random. It also jumps around in time too. The result is both frustrating and brilliant. This film ranks among those that showed me that there is more than one way to make a film. The film is beautiful to look at, and challenging to understand. Tarkovsky, however, never made a film for no reason. This film is clearly very autobiographical, (Tarkovsky’s father narrates parts of the film with his poetry, and his Mother appears in the film as well). Don’t expect to understand the film, but be sure to give it a viewing.

4.) The Sword in the Stone (1963)

I had to include at least one lighthearted film in this edition, and this would be it! This is without a doubt my favorite animated film. It is the perfect example of early Walt Disney animated features. It has catchy songs, old fashioned animation styles, and a classic story: King Arthur. I wish they would make animated films like this again. I am personally done with these computer animated films. I want these older style, hand-drawn, films back! I can dream, can’t I?