the only new years resolution that ever stuck with me was this: "advice, don't give it and definitely don't take it." i've come to the conclusion over the years that the human species and possibly others (domesticated animals) are incapable of accepting advice and yet they must give it. in my studies, i have also found that the advice an individual tends to give is in direct relation to their own issues rather then the issues of who they "advising".
a career in the film industry can be sisyphean in nature with moments of bliss and long periods of dread. no "advice" or "tips" can change that. over the years some wise people have mentioned something in passing or told me a story that may have stuck with me and effected my behavior, but that is not advice.... that is me as an individual gleaning information that i find relevant or worthy of memory.... not an article that is directed at me, telling me what i should be doing differently.
the film business and the advice business definitely have a symbiotic relationship that seems to be growing stronger. what young film professional wouldn't want to be told the secrets of climbing up the ladder? but if you find film industry magazines from the recent past you will immediately notice that they actually talk about movies, not advice on making movies. in 1992 the only "advice" to filmmakers was a "new york film academy" advertisement in the back pages of a magazine. anyway, it's not in my best interest to criticize publications that i hope will write about me (wink wink)....... but i cannot help myself! here are some headlines from a certain online indie film website from the last few weeks:
- 13 ways to keep smart movie fans happy.
- the top junior agents you need to know.
- best advice from top junior agents.
- ten tips from making the transition from "writer" to "writer - director".
- attention filmmaker: don't panic on a indie film set.
- 4 tips on shooting a sex scene.
- how to maximize "cool", organic locations.
- the most important person on set you don't know about.
- 4 daring filmmakers you should know.
- michel hazanavicius's 5 tips for filmmmakes.
now to repurpose and plagiarize a groucho marx quote: "if this publication continues to write such scandalous articles i will be forced to cancel my subscription."... or in my case i will be forced to stop using it as my "homepage".
there was a great susan sontag quote on the back of a certain edition of andre bazin's "what is cinema vol 1?". for those who are not familiar with the book, it's a collection of essays that basically discuss how movies are "read". as usual, i will totally mess up the quote but it goes something like this:
"this book is one of the rare examples of writings on cinema that will increase your enjoyment of film rather then take advantage of it." - susan sontag
currently the mass majority of writings on the film industry take advantage of the readers interest in film rather than increase it. they steal your time and give you nothing in return aside from "advice" that could just as easily lead you astray as it could help you.
here are a few things that i have found that have increased my interest and love of film and cinematography.
- nestor almendros' book "man with a movie camera".
- alexander mackendrick's "on filmmaking". i read this book every year.
- the asc's podcast "conversations on cinematography". this is amazing stuff!
- making an effort to talk to other cinematographers as much as possible. (this one takes a lot of work cuz we are a prickly bunch and you have to leave your house).