Where are you drawing your inspiration from?

The documentary behind the making of Apocalypse Now (Hearts Of Darkness) is for me essential viewing for all filmmakers. I have recommended it on pretty much every course I have ever run as it’s one of a handful of docs that genuinely captures the madness of production.

Watching it always reminds me of my first movie, The Runner – we were kids wandering North Wales mountains with too much kit, too much caffeine, no boundaries, automatic weapons and a heck a desire to leave our mark on the world. Madness yes. Great film? Well it was certainly ambitious and a great experience.

In ‘Hearts Of Darkness’ Coppola pretty much predicted the rise of technology and decentralisation of filmmaking. We find ourselves living into these exciting and democratised times, where cameras are cheap, collaborators a tweet away and distribution channels opening up daily.

I have also seen a slightly worrying trend too. When I was making my first film there was really no indie film scene. As such, my only influences and sources of inspiration were the films that made it to the cinema.

A worrying trend I have seen over the last few years is filmmakers competing with each other, attempting to fund their films from each other and seeking inspiration from each others work. I am all for innovation, and you certainly don’t find much of that watching traditional Hollywood fare.

But watching Vimeo and Youtube, while there is tons of amazing stuff, I do see too much work that…

1. Is really a camera test or lingers in kit / lens fetish pornography territory.
2. Features filmmakers friends acting and not trained actors.
3. Has very very poor sound.
4. Has been sloppily edited.
5. Has been even more sloppily written.

I know a career in film is a long journey with many tests, shorts and mistakes before ‘the big one’. And I also know if we never break rules we will never innovate.

But I like to be sure that I am drawing my inspiration from sources that are worthy of my time and the audience I hope to connect with. I try to compete upwards and not on my current level, or worse, below my level.

The world is MASSIVE and filled with fascinating people, stories and new ideas.

Maybe it’s time to get off Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and the Internet and draw inspiration from the glorious world around us.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
My movies www.LivingSpiritGroup.com
My Facebook www.Facebook.com/ChrisJonesFilmmaker
My Twitter @LivingSpiritPix

4 Responses to Where are you drawing your inspiration from?

  1. Grant Ellis August 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Cheers to this.

    I recall a time half a decade ago I produced a science fiction short and released it through my various web outlets for feedback. The biggest criticism was the acting was just not very good. While the cinematography was applauded by film making friends (and these were the days of the DVX-100B and LTM pepper kits), the laymen were emphatic “Well, it might look okay, but I am so irritated by these actors.”

    I made the decision then that from then on we would only use trained actors.
    What I learned from the next project was needed to raise our game when it comes to giving direction.

    It was a good experience overall, and a failure that was allowed to happen in relative obscurity.

  2. Mark August 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    I agree Chris. I’ve made my share of test films and I really DO want to make a feature. I don’t want to go the crowd funding route though.

    Just finished a pop video for a friend who helped me on my two shorts and a great bunch of kids.


    So once more to – you tube and Vimeo – for one more fling. and then onwards to adventure in the real world. OR-

    • Tom August 19, 2012 at 12:51 am #

      Interesting read and I think you’re right. I think the biggest problem is really in the writing. Most people don’t take chances with the writing and then they go on to cast actors who aren’t professional actors and they just focus on a the photography..the result not much of anything.
      Here is my answer to trying to take chances with the writing
      Its a long film at 25mins but working with professional actors and being prepared to make mistakes allowed for some interesting results.

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