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May 1996, Week 1


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Pip Chodorov <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 4 May 1996 05:53:01 -0400
text/plain (58 lines)
Calvin Pryluck's thoughts on film school are interesting, as are the various
responses, but I find the essential consideration lacking. This for me is
that filming is an art, and that filmmakers are artists. Questions of the
value of art school for artists (whether Picasso needed art school, etc)
notwithstanding, if one sets out to make films, there is a measure of
personal expression and a need to create that will not stand still. Film
school may or may not satisfy this need or teach one to express. To be sure,
enrollment in a film school indicates immediately that one has embraced
filmmaking as a calling, and this in itself could be a personal reason to
enroll. But film school is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition in
becoming a filmmaker. Filming as an art must be developed constantly and
consistently through practice. Filmmaking doesn't start until you get out
there with a camera. The great artists, Picasso, Miro, etc., worked in their
studios every day, for long hours, at the times of day when they worked best.
Miro painted every day from 6am until noon, at which point he took a small
lunch and rested until 1pm, then he answered mail or saw friends until 2pm,
and then he painted another six hours until dinner. We get where we get
through work, practice, constant evolution. So my advice to someone who wants
to become a filmmaker today is: get a Super-8 camera, buy up and store all
the old stocks you can afford that Kodak has discontinued (Ektachrome and
sound film), and go out there and film. Film every day, whether ten minutes
or ten frames. Make film your medium, speak through it. For film is a medium
and not an end in itself. The goal is not to make a film, but to reach people
through film, to speak your heart through the images. When you start seeing
what you have been filming, and start manipulating these images, you will
discover not only your own film language and style, but what Calvin calls
"knowledge of the world" (personal ideas as well as learnedness) will become
subservient to the filming. "What to film" will become self-evident. So this
is my advice, shoot film any way you can. Either put thousands of dollars
into film school, or into raw stock (Super-8 film costs roughly $3/minute,
16mm film about $6/minute, and the chemistry needed to develop these films at
home is inexpensive).
For those of you who ridicule my position as a viable career choice, who
uphold film school as a way to a job, I still maintain that investing in
one's creative powers is key to a place in the film industry. The business is
based on strong ideas and touching people through the medium. Each time we go
see a new movie, whether we are a producer, a distributor, a studio head or
just a filmgoer, we are searching for an "ideal film," an intelligent film
that will respond to our sensitivities, a creative vision of the world or of
film. A filmmaker who has nurtured this creative vision will have more to
offer the film industry as well as the world than any technician; technicians
can always be hired. This filmmaker will offer truth, beauty, the essential.
So go out there and film, film, film. Each 400' can of 7245 has the potential
to bring the world 10 minutes of revelation, of celebration, of pure vision.
If only every can of film could spin through the Bolex of an inspired
filmmaker, instead of serving to strike print number 472 of Robocop VII.
"With every new buzz of our cameras, our hearts leap forward my friends"
   - Jonas Mekas, 1996
Pip Chodorov
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