Friday, April 08, 2005

What is a Filmmaker?



Okay so what is my definition of a filmmaker? I've worked on numerous productions, and been on staff at various production houses & ad agencies, and the one thing that separates professionals from the wanna-be's is that they have the technical know how to put together a film no matter what the format is. Film, video, DV, or any other format a true professional filmmaker KNOWS the process of production from pre to post. That's not to say that you need to know ALL, but it sure does help when you're up against a deadline, and you have questions on how the production process flows.

I found out everything there is to know about filmmaking during my thesis film in "Production 40.3" in college. The film was a short 5 minute piece called "Freedom". It was about someone running form someone and trying to reach freedom from across the fence. I learned later while reading "Skywalking" that George Lucas did a film called "Freheit" which is German for Freedom. Similar story, but both films were executed completely different. Only saw Lucas's film many years later, and though Lucas is a GREAT filmmaker I do prefer mine, but that's another story. I even tried changing my film when I heard that Lucas had done something similar, but my production teacher wouldn't hear it, and so I had to finish what I started. On this film I cut my negative, which was a nerve wrecking experience. Though the film was not a sync film, and had no dialogue it was still quite a process to do, and I will NEVER do that again. A competent negative cutter is worth their weight in gold. I used one who live s in Florida for my film "Deadly Obsessions", and it was perfect. One mistake was done, and it was my fault, and so I went with a cut instead of a dissolve.

But by working and doing numerous jobs on a production I learned what it takes to do that job, and I've always appreciated good craftmenship in someone's work. I seem to be always playing catch up with the latest technology, and it's process, but having the past experiences has given me a good foundation to learn additional skills. I still don't know EVERYTHING, but I do know where to go when I want to know about something, or need something explained to me.

I also believe that the best way to learn film-making is by doing. Looking at films and studying them is great, but getting in the trenches is where it's at. I know several people who are head and shoulders above me in their prospective fields. The gentlemen who mixed my first feature is a phenomenal film-maker. I'll talk about him, and what we did sometime later, but he taught me a few things that I needed to know, so as you can see I'm always learning, and discovering new ways to do things.

The above picture is of me with my trusty old Bolex. I used that to do some inserts for the film "Freedom". It was a great learning experience, and something I want to do more of today. So go out and experiment with that video camera you have stuck in the closet. It's the best way to really start learning, and now you don't have to wait for film processing and or spend a lot of money to see if your idea is any good. The world of filmmaking is wide open, and YOU are the key. Read, watch, and do. It's as simple as that. Honest!

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