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Monday, June 13, 2005

The Book Of Jeremiah

A special thanks to Jeremiah Kipp for posting as a guest correspondant for this savage art...Here are some words of wisdom from the hardest working filmmaker in NYC. Jeremiah's acclaimed work can be found here.

Jeremiah Kipp here.

I had the pleasure of being 1st Assistant Director to William Speruzzi on his short film, “The Face of the Earth”.

He asked me if I’d be interested in posting a few thoughts from time to time. I said I’d be happy to.

The Book of Jeremiah is a really good Old Testament yarn because my namesake was the prophet of doom. Thus, here are a few random rants about making movies...

1. If you want to be a writer that means you will be compelled to write every day. Writers write. Filmmakers try to make films. You only get better at something by doing it all the time. It will lead to years of depression, frustration, bitterness, and anguish. You will wonder why you want to do this. And you will try to quit. But if you really want to do it, you will do it. You will have no choice. You’re like an addict. If you have a choice, choose not to do it because it will lead to a lifetime of anguish and pain with a few fleeting moments of happiness, which will quickly dissipate. On the bright side, you will have a means of self-expression and feel less like a deaf-mute who is dying on the inside.

2. If you are going to write, you should pre-suppose an audience. You are telling a tale to someone. So they don’t want to hear your self-indulgent bullshit. They want to know what is going to happen next. Once you realize you are a writer and are writing every day, your next realization has to be you are not jerking off. You are jerking someone else off. You are providing a service. You are providing a point-of-view of the world and leading someone by the hand, saying, “Look in this direction...” If you are not doing anything for them they will turn on you and hate you, and spit on you, and throw popcorn at you, and walk out of your movie complaining that you have wasted their time.

3. The best way to gain insight into the human condition is not through going to the movies. Going to the movies means being told what to think and feel, being manipulated. Film school should not show movies. Listen to music that makes you feel something. Look at paintings. Fall in love. Read the newspaper. You’ll learn more from doing that than you will going to the movies.

4. Working with children actors is a very special experience. They are much more adept at tapping into an inner emotional life than adults. If a child actor is giving you any trouble, I threaten to fire them and they immediately fall back into line. Children need to feel protected and safe. But they also will walk all over you unless you realize you have something they want. If they give you any crap or kick you in the shins or pull the hair of other children you should threaten to fire them. They want to be in the movie so they will behave. If they really don’t want to be in the movie, they will lie down on the floor and fall asleep, or walk off the set, and you should let them go. No one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.

5. If you want to make a movie more than anything in the world, you will find a way. But as a friend once described it, it is like climbing up Mt. Everest, alone, without supplies, using a fork as your grappling hook. It will be a major financial burden and almost no one will help you. The only thing you can count on is your own passion. Passion has moved mountains and made movies, whether you are Werner Herzog, Mel Gibson, Vincent Gallo, Abel Ferrara, or Steven Spielberg. An interesting sidenote: with the exception of the uber-square populist Spielberg (one of the greatest directors of all time), the gentlemen listed above are quite insane. That may have something to do with it.

6. If you are a woman or a minority, you will have to work fifty times as hard as white guys like me and Billy Speruzzi. And you will be paid less, condescended to, and treated like dirt. You will need to work harder and your passion must be unyielding.

7. George Lucas is a fucking hack. How many scenes in SITH were comprised of two people in a room talking to each other, shot in the most conventional wide shot, medium shot, close-up coverage familiar to us from most TV sitcoms? If you thought that was genius filmmaking, you were deluded and hypnotized by the whizzing computer generated spaceships floating around behind Natalie Portman’s crazy hairdo.

Back to you Billy!


Anonymous Moses said...

Thanks for the advice. As a writer I particularly enjoyed, "Geroge Lucas is a fucking hack," and your advice to pre-suppose an audience. I think it's easy to ease your way into the movie theatre seat when you write. "Hmm, how would this look." Instead of how would this feel and, like you said, where is this taking them.

Thanks again. Honest and to the point. Love it.

7:21 PM  
Blogger William said...

Yeah, we pull no punches here at this savage art...


I like #3. Truer words have never been spoken....

Great comments. Thanks for your contribution.

11:26 PM  

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