All entries for Sunday 11 September 2005

September 11, 2005

To Derive

During an interview with Spielberg and Cruise while promoting one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Spielberg had this to say to aspiring filmmakers: it is okay to be derivative in the beginning of your career.

Now, you can have whatever definition of derivative you want. If it makes you feel better, I suppose you can derive plot elements or ideas from other movies, if it helps you make a better movie. For me, as much as possible I'd prefer to avoid that. For me, to derive means to watch movies, many many movies, and try and figure out how they created that tone, that atmosphere, that feeling, that release of emotions in the audience, and see whether I can apply it myself.

Over the course of figuring out the themes and tones of the Jeremy Wakeham story, I came up with a list of movies with elements which I hope to be able to emulate. (If you're interested in helping me draft the screenplay, take note here …)

Snow Falling On Cedars – sensual, focuses on visuals and music

The Return – slow and symbolic/metaphorical, brooding and ominous realism

Chicago – musical structure, fantasy sequences weaving in and out stealthily

Empire Of The Sun – yearning, losing the past

Anywhere But Here – scenes of complete silence which still demands audience attention

Gattaca – frugality of information to audience, not everything is tied up nicely

Solaris – getting into the mind of the protagonist, and staying there throughout the whole movie; no obvious protagonist – but there is conflict

Hitch – every aspect of filmmaking is for the sake of making movie interesting to audience, no flashy stuff


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