Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to create films that don't suck

I've been meaning to post these for some time now, and with the semester finally over, I can do just that. The great David Mamet has put together an excellent book called On Directing Film, which has pretty much everything a director would need to know about how to direct a film, and many more things that any artist may benefit from. I've read quite a few books during my time in school, and this is far and away the best among them. I've pulled the twelve best lines, for anyone who wishes to meditate on them.

Here they are, in no particular order…

1. It's unimportant that the audience should guess why something is important to the story.
2. If you find that a point cannot be made without narration, it is virtually certain that the point is unimportant to the story: the audience requires drama, not information.
3. The purpose of technique is to free the unconscious.
4. The audience will accept anything they haven't been given a reason to disbelieve.
5. To get into the scene late and to get out early is to demonstrate respect for your audience.
6. You cannot hide your objective.
7. The only reason people speak is to get what they want.
8. In film or on the street, people who describe themselves to you are lying.
9. Anything that is not based on things that are within your control is not a real technique.
10. The problems of the individual films will not get easier -- they only get easier for hacks.
11. The task of any artist is not to learn many, many techniques but to learn the most simple technique perfectly.
12. It's not your job to make it pretty. It's your job to make it correct.

Some honorable mentions:

"Almost all movie scripts contain material that cannot be filmed."
"Studio executives do not know how to read movie scripts. Not one of them."
"All you have to do on the set is stay awake, follow your plans, help the actors be simple, and keep your sense of humor."
"They always talk about the character out there in Hollywood, and the fact is there is no such thing. It doesn't exist. Character is just habitual action."
"The effort that the dramatic artist spends in analysis frees both him and the audience to enjoy the play. If this time is not spent, the theater becomes the most dreadful of marriage beds, in which one party whimpers "love me," and the other pouts, "convince me."
"They (producers) are like the white slave owners of old, sitting on their porches with their cooling drinks and going on about the inherent laziness of the Negro race."
"The film industry is caught in a spiral of degeneracy because it's run by people who have no compass."
"I defy anyone to act where they just came from.