No. of Recommendations: 1
Part of the problem, I think, is insecurity. People strive to make important films, so they latch on to something important. Often this is defined in literary terms. Books are important. Virginia Woolf is important. So if I make a film about Virginia Woolf, it will be important.

You often see this in movies, with critics and the Academy falling all over themselves to love movies that are about opera, pianos, artists, authors, or adaptations of novels that other people have already agreed are important. Oh, yes, overcoming your handicap. Overcoming your handicap is very important.

So people who strive to be important, make films about this important subject matter.

Yet the very best films, in my opinion, are that way because the people who make them are passionately involved with the subject matter. In other words, they're going to make this movie, regardless of whether other people think the movie is important or not.

I'll give an example, John Huston. Huston made The Maltese Falcon, which is an awesome film noir, as well as other great noirs like Across the Pacific and The Asphalt Jungle. He did this before the French discovered noir, before it was important. Huston is one of the reasons this area of film became important. His passion and brilliance made it important.

By the end of his career, Huston was doing James Joyce adaptations. Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller. He was striving for importance, by latching onto other people.

I'll give another example: Martin Scorsese. Maybe Scorsese has a genuine passion for Edith Wharton and the Dalai Lama. (Only he knows for sure). But I say with assurance that his best films will be those that he feels most passionate about, not those that have important subject matter.

This is not to say that people cannot feel passionate about art or music or Shakespeare, and feel a burning desire to make movies about this stuff. Clearly Shakespeare in Love was made by people who know and love Shakespeare a great deal. But Shakespeare is also one of those important figures that people strive to copy. Not because they feel passion for Shakespeare, but beause he's important. They want to gain importance through association.

You'll find people with passion in every movie genre. But I would argue that you're actually more likely to find true passion in unloved genres--like westerns, comedies, sci-fi, animation. This is where you are most likely to run into people who do what they do because they love it. And that (along with talent, of course) is the key to great moviemaking.

Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.