...a Descartes of today would already have shut himself up in his bedroom with a 16 mm camera and some film, and would be writing his philosophy on film: for his Discours de la Methode would today be of such a kind that only the cinema could express it satisfactorily.
- Alexandre Anstruc: La camera stylo
I feel we have to move beyond the current obsession with technique or camera angles. It's a waste of time. How you shoot a film is a diversion. I think anybody can shoot a film....The minute you accept money you have to make concessions. And the minute people want to do it in a professional way, it's already a concession because you've got to work with people who are in a professional market.
- John Cassavettes
Let's face it, Hollywood produces a lot of wonderful things, and a lot of not so wonderful things. In Hollywood there are people who share the desire to evolve, to invest themselves more in their work, so they can get more from their work. There is no freedom without sacrifice and risks, and not everyone is willing to take more risks to grow spiritually. The people who control the economics are not that willing to take risks. We need to meld the forces of Hollywood and independent films.
There was independent filmmaking before there was Hollywood. I can't urge people enough to make their own films. We have the technology and we have the talent. Hollywood is a myth. Hollywood doesn't exist. We are the Hollywood we want to be if we are willing to take risks.
- Harvey Keitel
The future of cinematography belongs to a new race of young solitaries who will shoot films by putting their last cent into it and not let themselves be taken in by the material routines of the trade.
-Robert Bresson: Notes on Cinematography
...a whole era of moviemaking is fast disappearing. Films will soon be shot in the streets -- without stars, without scripts.
- Ferrand, Francois Truffaut, Day for Night
Take the camera out into the streets.
Stop aspiring. Start doing.
Factory-made movies lead to decline. There must be originality, and this cannot be achieved using the same pattern over and over.
- Jacques Tati
Young filmmakers must decide not to walk in the imprints of the "old cinema"; the point is not to make films of fifty million that ape luxury and the foolishness of large productions...expensive studios should be abandoned...films should be made in the streets and even real apartments.
A workmanlike system of production in natural locations, without stars and with less than a minimum crew, ultra-fast stock, no distribution guarantees, no authorization and no obligations of any sort.
- Jean-Pierre Melville
When are we going to give [the young directors] a hand camera and order them to forget all rules except the ones they invent for themselves as they write and not to fear spelling mistakes?....16 mm may be the sole weapon of the future for poets against "giantescorama", the daily bread of producers.
- Jean Cocteau
A film made by a team can be a fleeting success. It has an illusory homogeneity, but it doesn't hold up. Cinema cannot be an art so long as it is the result of the work of a group. Personal touches must replace the old, outworn tricks of the trade.
Down with immortal kings and queens of the screen! Long live ordinary, mortal people captured in the midst of life going about their daily tasks....Down with the scripting of life: film us unawares, just as we are.... We have absolutely no need of enormous studios and grandiose sets, any more than we have of 'grandiose' directors, 'grand' stars and 'fantastic' photogenic women. But we do need:
1. rapid means of transport
2. highly sensitive film stock
3. Light hand-held cameras
4. equally light lighting equipment
5. A crew of super-swift cinema-reporters
6. an army of kinok-observers
- Dziga Vertov
...on our own modest level we too should provoke two or three Vietnams in the bosom of the vast Hollywood...empire, and both economically and aesthetically, struggling on two fronts as it were, create cinemas which are natural, free, brotherly, comradely and bonded in friendship.
- Jean-Luc Godard
... to eliminate our egos, our bad faith, our mistrust, our sense of competition, of personal profit...this search is manifested through abandoning of all the existing professional, commercial values, rules, subjects, techniques, pretensions. Let us, therefore, be completely open. Let us go in any direction.
The film of tomorrow seems to me even more personal than a novel, individual and autobiographical, like a confession or private diary.
...a super-duper special...is the easiest picture to make. It requires little imagination or talent in acting or directing.
...he must renounce the use of stars and spectacle and reliance on literary properties, and that he must direct his efforts towards simplicity, uniqueness and the use of unknown talent....when the subject matter is strong and the acting is magnificent, then nobody cares whether it is grainy or in black and white or whatever.
...to create a kind of movie that would no longer be dependent on fiction and on inverted themes - for these are, by definition, bound less and therefore encourage the natural tendency of production estimates toward inflation - but would draw on the reality of everyday life that is already particularized and circumscribed.
- Vittorio de Sica
Let us instead be like auxiliaries; as we must earn a living in these hard times, let us do so as qualified technicians....Our mission would consist of transporting cameras and film equipment to any spot where something was happening.
The true neorealistic cinema is, of course, less expensive than the cinema a present. Its subjects can be expressed cheaply, and it can dispense with capitalist resources on the present scale....elimination of technical-professional apparatus, screenwriter included. Handbooks, formulas, grammars have no more application. There will be no more technical terms. Everybody has his personal shooting-script. Neorealism breaks all the rules, rejects all those canons which, in fact, exist only to codify limitations. Reality breaks all the rules, as can be discovered if you walk out with a camera to meet it.
The main thing is that low-budgets don't have to be a limitation to anybody. There's always a way to make a film.
I read recently that Americans are buying used cars for an average of $6,000 and I thought, why don't they take the bus to work and make a feature film instead?
Minimum resources. Maximum imagination. Maximum solidarity.
No stars, and mainly on location....Costs have to be held to a minimum in enterprises of this sort. This influences the form and structure of the film itself. It means long takes and the minimum of angles.
I have bought little cameras in order to make a film if I can find the money. I will shoot it in 16mm. The cinema is a metier...nothing can compare to the cinema. The cinema belongs to our times. It is 'the thing' to do....if someone wants to direct a film, he must think that he is good. A good artist should be isolated. If he isn't isolated, something is wrong.
Pure cinema. No more actors, no more story, no more sets, which is to say that in the perfect aesthetic illusion of reality there is no more cinema.
...there's no such thing as a big theme and a little theme, because the smaller the theme is, the more one can give it a big treatment.
There is no need to spend millions of dollars to tell stories....The small independents who love cinema and love being able to express the things that we feel are important - we will still be making films long after Telefilm is gone, long after CBC is gone, because there's more to making films than dollars and cents. There has to be passion, and most of us who are making these kinds of films are passionate about what we do and we'll do it whether they'll help us or not...So the only way to fight that, is, I feel, with a kind of guerrilla tactic of working on your own and generating your own projects, your own ideas, not with a market in mind, per se, but always making sure that the film is marketable relative to the budget.
-William D. MacGillivray
Anyone with a strong inclination to make films can do so....As long as one is endowed with an essential curiosity and a desire to express himself in film there is no problem which cannot be overcome. The desire is essential -- without it, however, very little will be achieved.
Youth is in a hurry, it is impatient, it is bursting with all sorts of concrete ideas. Young filmmakers must shoot their films in mad haste, movies in which the characters are in a hurry, in which shots jostle each other to get on-screen before 'The End', films that contain their ideas.
Take films back to where they started, as a cottage industry, made by serious craftsmen.
With a modicum of knowledge of composition and narrative, anyone can film something acceptable....Wide aperture lenses and emulsions able to capture extremes of light have only recently appeared on the market. This has indeed been a revolution, one that is still happening and has much further to go. I like to compare this revolution in cinematography with the revolution of the Impressionists in painting. With the invention of tubes of oil paint, the artist could leave his studio carrying only a case of these tubes, go anywhere- Rouen's cathedral, for example, like Monet - and capture fleeting moments of light on the cathedral facade on different canvasses....Nowadays, those of us who work with colour film can also capture instantly difficult and extreme moments of light even at low exposures....Films made out of a super-abundance of material tend to resemble each other, because they have all been shot according to the same methods....16mm [is] really an attitude, a state of mind.
Kids can make features. Kids can do these things. We don't need all this union nonsense. You're looking for content and style. You don't need heavy equipment. I admit that our sound isn't going to be perfect, because it's not shot in a studio. But that seems to me less important than the kind of freedom and flexibility in space and time you can have by shooting films this way.
-Brian de Palma
16mm is a state of mind. What matters for young filmmakers is to escape the system and assert their personality [sic], returning to it only when that personality is sufficiently strong to resist all pressure....It seems possible that we can make a film costing much less than 'big productions', of which the cost can be recouped on a very limited public....
I certainly believe that Hollywood's greatest weaknesses are obvious and extensive....an unwillingness to pursue a modest profit from a modest investment; undue allegiance to stars and ideas only because they've made money in the past; too many fingers in the creative pie; and a general administrative philosophy of 'cover your ass'.
...if you are confident when going into a project, that you are going to make a picture, you can then start addressing the material in your own terms: With that sense of conviction you can impress upon the sources of finance the 'need to seek out new subjects and explore them in new ways.
There's no point in trying to compete with JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.- it costs too much. We need to develop an indigenous cinema here and all we can hope for is to be rough and fresh....for $7,000 you can do a feature! If you're working with friends and editing yourself you can do something tremendously experimental and exciting.
...I think the small movies that are not spectacles must be made. It is good to have the dream movies, but we cannot always dream and dream. If we do, we lose touch with reality. We never wake up.
Think slow, act fast.
Free Cinema: Perfection is not an aim...The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. No film can be too personal. Size is irrelevant. A style means an attitude. An attitude means a style....Implicit in our attitudes is a belief in freedom, in the importance of people and in the significance of the everyday.
...it is a question of scope: when you're working with a smaller budget I suppose one of the things that has to be in your mind when you are writing is that you have to keep the characters down to a minimum; you have to be able to deploy the themes that you want to address with a minimum of means, otherwise you aren't going to be able to get it made....I think ultimately if you have a very high expectation of your audience and you know exactly what it is you're trying to express through the medium of film, there will always be an audience for you....Small budget, big conviction.
It's true that the less means that you have the more your creativity is somehow sparked because you have to come up with creative solutions to problems that normally in the industry would be solved by just throwing a lot of money and getting someone else to fix them.
[One] should be willing to gamble a little more in order to get effects that are a bit different. The normal thing is not really interesting; it's the unusual' and sometimes even accidental, things that are...You're breaking the rules, defying tradition and maybe even taking a chance, but why not? You just can't play it safe all the time and still progress.
-James Wong Howe
...a convention, to me, is a usage which has become acceptable through repetition. It is a tradition rather than a rule. With time the conven- tion becomes a commandment, through force of habit. I feel that the limiting effect is both obvious and unfortunate....the established Holly-wood conventions are accepted by audiences because of their frequent use. And this frequent use of conventions is dictated by pressure of time and reluctance to deviate from the accepted....Style too often becomes deadly sameness. In my opinion, the day of highly stylized cinematography is passing, and is being superseded by a candid, realistic technique and an individual approach to each new film subject. You will accomplish much more by fitting your photography to the story instead of limiting their story to the narrow confines of conventional photographic practice. And as you do you'll learn that the movie camera is a flexible instrument, with many of its possibilities still unexplored. New realms remain to be discovered by amateurs and professionals who are willing to think about it and take the necessary time to make the thought a reality.
It's encouraging to see people making low-budget features. We're spoiled. We expect to have two kilometres of Winnebagos lining the side of the road. How can art come out of such excess?
To coin an old phrase, 'The more we sweat in peace, the less we'll bleed in war', you know. If through the cinema we can provide our friends, our children, a deeper look at reality to help them better cope with these perils of living, that is our task. There's no sense in making any film unless it serves some sort of humanitarian purpose, to help people in their struggle to live. Of course, I'm excluding entertainment, which is another genre.
If you use your own money you're very careful in how you spend it. If you use someone else's money it's just made to go over with. Finish your script before you shoot....you gotta know what you're gonna shoot before you shoot it so you can plan things....You have to have a really good story. Money never had anything to do with telling a good story. Or making a good movie.
I think that one of the real misfortunes with our American Motion Picture has to do with the fact that it's almost entirely a dollars and cents conjecture. I think there's more to a motion picture than its commerce. I think its ideas is the untold worth.
Why such a desire to conquer the world? That's precisely the cause of the disaster. On the contrary, we should be trying above all to maintain [our own] audiences and only conquer the world as an indirect consequence. From the moment we start trying to manufacture international stars, from the moment we aim at making international films, nine times out of ten we'll fall flat on our faces....
In a word I think that what is most lacking in [our] cinema is a spirit of poverty. Its only hope now lives in ...new directors taking those risks making films with 20 or 30 million(f.f.), perhaps even less, and filming with whatever turns up, without putting their scripts forward for approval by the censors and perhaps without even putting them to the producers and distributors. I think that is the only hope for [our] cinema.
"The world trip failed to materialize. Disconsolate, my wife and I decided to go back to finish college. Before we left San Francisco, I drove to the camera store to take one last look at the beautiful Bolex I had so set my heart upon. It was raining when we returned to the car. We sat there in silence for a long, long time. Broken dreams and youthful idealism are never comfortable companions. If there are critical moments in a career, this was one for us. Somehow we both knew what had to be. I walked slowly back unaware of the rain. I bought the camera, the lenses, the meters and tripods and from my total worldly fortune of $5,000 for school, I wrote a check for $1,800. Then I started to learn to make films."
-from"Making Films your business"
The most important asset for a young Canadian filmmaker is confidence. You must possess a deep belief in yourself and your project, and the ability to keep striving toward the making of that film. My advice is: surround yourself with people who support you, believe in you and share your dream. If you are going to make a film happen, you've got to believe. Faith in yourself and your visualization has to be deep and complete. It's a little bit like believing in miracles. Maybe that's what films really are - magical, mysterious flights of fancy that somehow happen because someone has unshakeable faith.
Your feature motion picture, to be successful, must capture the imagination of a worldwide cinema audience. It must communicate across cultures, and provide a good story filled with joy, anxiety, suspense, action and, you hope, some insight into the human condition. As a good book embraces readers throughout the world, or a great work of painting or sculpture thrills the viewer, your film must also inspire a global audience.
It may seem a daunting prospect, but don't be discouraged. Take heart and inspiration from the fact that all great filmmakers share the same struggle and have endured the same problems. Martin Scorsese tells of how he went, hat in hand, pleading for money to make his next film - after he had made Raging Bull. Bergman, Fellini, Cassavetes, all had to find independent financial backing for their films. Even when we have made successful commercial films, we must continue to prove ourselves; to push and sell our next project just as hard as the first.
Filmmaking is not for the faint of heart. You need the courage of Daniel and the tenacity of Terry Fox. Canada is full of talent. With confidence and the right amount of ambition, we will stun the world with our brilliance.
Producers no longer want to take risks for films that are out of the ordinary. Talented innovators are automatically shunted aside and discouraged, so they go elsewhere to work, e.g., Chaplin and Welles...Since its beginning, American cinema has experimented with every sort of mistake, and has now become the victim of the worst one of all: it follows, rather than goes ahead of, the crowd; it subordinates its tastes and will to that of the crowd instead of educating and directing them.
Make movies, in spite of everything.
If the worst consequence is okay, if the film does not get a distributor and if you are not able to pay people back and your friends will have worked on this and never get to see it in a theater - if all that's okay - then do it!
-Daisy von Scherler Mayer
If you're writing screenplays that you think will sell or will fill a portion of the market, you're going to fail. Make something from the gut...and let the chips fall where they may."
K.I.S.S.: Keep it Simple, Stupid. One basic location, a handful of characters and a straightforward narrative are all you need.
- Scott Mosier
...if you set your own limitations, it's a lot easier to break them.
- Chris Minz
Nobody Knows anything.
- William Goldman
The first lesson in [my] film school was that it's not your wallet that makes the movie. Any monkey can tap himself out financially. The idea is to tap yourself out creatively first.
- Robert Rodriguez
Necessity is often the mother of invention. Many great things have been done on low-budget films, and they have been done because there are certain parameters set ahead of time. I think that's the key thing. I think you have to conceptualize within certain guidelines. If you have your concepts set ahead of time, you can do incredible things. You can light your foreground, you can light your actors and choose locations in which the background lights itself, for instance, neon or high light-level in the background....Many cities...will go out of their way to get a film shot there. They'll deploy their police department, their fire department...and supplying just about anything you need....Often you can do very elaborate shots with very simple equipment. The key thing is time and intelligence in planning out the shot and the advance notice that you have before you do the shot.
- Peter Jensen
I think you make a movie with whatever you have if you have the passion to do it....Difficult just means "challenging". If you want to make the movie, you're going to go make the movie. You're going to do it whatever way you can. If you make seventy phone calls, your chance of getting someone to say "yes" is higher than if you make ten phone calls. That's the concept.
- Nicole M. Libresco