Filmmaking Tip #2: Watch The Same Movies Obsessively Until You Go Insane
This isn’t your average film school ideal. I’m borrowing this from my music teachers and journalists I’ve met.
When I’ve met great journalists, referencing here the few who care about journalism in an ocean of people who want free beauty products to review, they tell me they rewrote other publications’ magazine or newspaper articles until they caught the perfectionist modern journalism writing style.
My own music teachers used to break up sections of the music material really small. You had to replay a note, or I if in a private lesson on my flute, until you got it right. From there, you went to several bars of music. From several bars, a section. From a section, all the way through. Again! Repeat! And scales! Chromatic! Major! You get it! When it was all done, you guessed it. The next session was the same until you, or your class, got it right. Because of this rigid training, I remember a lot more of music classes and little of other things I studied as a youth. And, my attitude towards music is a lot more perfectionist. For other stuff, I couldn’t care less. For music, perfectionism goes.
Now, with film viewing, you’re probably used to viewing a favorite film a million times out of pleasure. Gladiator is on again! Sweet! My fav movie! I’ll kick back and view it! Really. my iPad at a boring appointment’s waiting room. Sure! Airplane!
Do not confuse that with what I suggest you do. No, I want you to treat your work goals like you’re livin’ All About Eve .
Are you serious about specific genres of movies? Who are your favorite directors or production companies within those genres? I love Pixar to tears but tend to favor DreamWorks and Illumination for animation based on the way it looks and the humor. And, I love Oscar type movies and action/sci-fi, more so when it’s a hybrid of the two. For me, I watch movies that fall within these areas and primarily from my favorite directors and, for cartoons, more on the production companies I like and Pixar second choice, followed by everyone else in animation. Your favorite directors can be people you’d like to be if you were to switch places and wake up as them one day.
Don't soak this in to copy people or their styles. Soak it in so you notice stuff. After a lot of viewings, your brain will do like mine as a music student. You’ll start noticing pieces of the actual filmmaking and less of viewing the film as a whole. Break up the films you like into chunks and feel free to make those pieces as lengthy or crispy short in terms of how long you watch things. Have a selection of rotating movies ranked amongst your favorite styles in your desired genre(s).
Pick about three movie directors you love, no more than that, and watch everything they have daily, only one per day. You need this as your inspo. I switch up my fav filmmakers I’ve selected with the animated works because I want to rule over animation and live action in this lifetime of mine. When done watching the movie, tomorrow try watching the behind the scenes clipping on your iTunes extras. Split things up into smaller dosages on any filmmaking you ingest so it’s never too hard on your brain.
Ever hear of fitspo or thinspo? Where girls obsess over fitness goals? Tack that ripped abs chick on the refrigerator? Do that with movies. Obsess over your favorite movies and filmmakers. Watch everything they do on YouTube. Read about them. If you happen to know any of the filmmakers you love, stick that note he or she gave you in your wallet for good luck. Wear the cool jacket he gave you for good fortune whenever you write a script or direct a scene. Little hints of positivity and things to make you feel closer to being who you wish you could be like. Think of it like filmmaking feng shui.
Once your mind starts noticing pieces of the movies you view, you’re going to be more alert and feel like you’re part of the making of that actual movie. You’ll catch things like knowing just when to cut a scene, how to get emotion out of people because you saw an actor you love do it working with your fav directors, write a compelling scene, build up to a scene, light a character to look evil, and all of the stuff people do by thinking when they need to do it without thinking. My music teachers used to say you need to make music look easy and do much of it without second thoughts.
Break it up if you want to focus on only one scene until you learn why that scene is amazing!
Feeing frustrated is easy. Stick reminders of the fav movies and fav filmmakers of yours everywhere so when you aren’t viewing the same scenes, you have constant pressure within yourself to be like person X. Do a vision board if you want, virtual or otherwise, all about these movies and you being like those directors you admire. Go crazy, big time crazy. I always say, “I’m only crazy about work” and strive to be crazy about it. The world can be falling down around me, people years ago could have lined up like an Apple store unveiling a new product to date me, people today could tell me someone is across the street handing out free sugar free ice cream, all of this in one moment, and I won’t care because none of it involves me getting my work goals accomplished. The older I get, the crazier I am to be about work and work goals because it makes me happy and brings me closer to getting stuff done better.
Obsess. Love your work goals like you hopefully love yourself and your kitten. Do like method acting for your filmmaking by thinking about these movies all day long and night and making them a hobby until you learn what you are doing instinctively!
Making your first handful of shorts or feature length movies is for most of you not going to happen overnight with the lower budgets and it all being new. I relate to this so much right now with my animated works I feel Are each taking too long because it all rides on me. When I look at people I’ve met and want to be like if I haven’t met them, I am so inspired and want to keep going to prove myself. I know the method acting meets obsession thing works wonders on music training and it will for my film career!
Shhhhh! I have more than three fav directors! ;)