14 September 2009

Every House Needs a Solid Foundation



An interview with Peter Bogdanovich from 2009's Dallas AFI Film Festival got me to thinking about the classics, which Bogdanovich defines as the good stuff made between 1912 and 1962, and how it's necessary to have a foundation in them.  I for one, believe he's right.  It's brought out this little thought I had, and why I view myself as an absolute failure as a composer, but a filmmaker with some potential who salivates at the very prospect of learning something new. 

I'm a self-educated filmmaker, though my education has been going since I was five years old.  I was lucky enough, at a very young age to have a love of classic film ingrained in me.  Starting in kindergarten, I would stay with my grandparents every so often after school.  And everytime I did, my grandfather would rent movies from the library he thought I should see.


The first movie I vividly recall seeing?  Murnau's Nosferatu.  Generally, my grandfather only showed me black and white films, many silent.  It was a gateway drug for me.  By the age of seven, I could tell you the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene), but I couldn't tell you how many apples Johnny has if Susie takes 15 apples and splits them in half or whatever other ludicrous plot device a mathbook passed as a real-life problem. 


I liken the experience to being taught piano from the age of two, cultivating perfect pitch, etc.  Only with me, it was an appreciation for an art form, and the beginning of a "mouth wide open shouting cool" obsession with film history.

Music, on the other hand, was a different experience for me.  Largely, it was because I was forced to accept a view of things that I didn't accept, and foundations that I didn't enjoy.  I can write a piece of music when needed (I score my own projects), but it's not something I love.

Film is custom-tailored for the dilettantish.  Many different disciplines, and a short history to learn from.  That said, I view it as a another medium for storytelling, and believe that filmmakers should be going even further back than just films.   Read the Odyssey.  Look at cave paintings.  Devour comic books and hard boiled crime fiction.  Listen to the great pieces of music.  It's all storytelling. 

I will forever view myself as supremely adequate at music.  Mainly because the foundations didn't interest me.  I have no interest in digging deeper than my schooling showed me.  I love music.  I adore it.  I just don't have any interest in being part of it anymore.

But film?  Oh man oh man.  I love it.  I'm just as happy watching a Jean Renoir film as I am watching the latest Jason Statham crapfest - because even though it may be crap, I still learn something from it.

I guess that could be my personal logline:  Dedicated to learning what to do from the good stuff and what not to do from complete crap.

I'm indiscriminate.

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