Ars Poetica | Adhiraj Goel

The definition of art has been debated upon for centuries and some can argue that the undefinable factor of art is what truly defines it. Art is anything and everything; whether it is man-made or occurs naturally. However, beauty is subjective and the absolute definition of it varies from person to person. Moreover, the line between art and beauty is thin but prominent.

My arrogant view of beauty makes me reject other forms as art and gives me an almost binary outlook. Either I greatly appreciate a piece of work  or I am very critical on it. For the most part, my definition of art does not allow shortcuts which I find many other film makers do and cover it up under the context as “art”. Art is beauty and beauty is hard. Beauty requires work and persistence. But not only that, beauty and art are much, much more.

1. Attention to Detail

The magic of film happens behind the scenes, where the audience can not see. It is here that many filmmakers try and take the aforementioned shortcuts. And they can usually get away with it, but there is the heightened eye in the audience that can pick it up on screen. In my films, I try my best to cater to these attentive viewers who can note and pick out small details.

Many directors appeal to the masses but dismiss the dedicated audience that can form. An audience can be  amazed by small attentions to detail located throughout the video. However, this attention to detail must be noticed independent of the director and the team behind the film.

One of my most favorite examples of this is in the show Arrested Development created by Mitchell Hurwitz. Not only is the show hilarious, but what makes it truly beautiful to me is the attention to detail. I’ve watched through the entire series multiple time and, along with some further research, I am in awe of all the minor things that are consistent throughout the entire series. To me, this is the strength of the show: the precision and effort you can see during the viewing experience that the team puts behind the scenes.

This practice of making a film accurate, is one that I hold dear to me and one that I think is essential in creating a completely successful film. Of course, plot and cinematography are also essential factors. But it is the act of integrating the plot and mise-en-scene to make the film accurate is truly an art which can create something beautiful.

2. Entertain the audience

I always try and make my movies as ‘light’ as possible. That is,  the entire film watching experience as little profound as possible. I have difficulty in accepting things that are overly profound and then are called ‘art’. Moreover, I take issue with films that depict a personal journey and are mainly understand by the director who expects the audience to take away what they can.

I want to appeal to the general audience, something anyone can enjoy without the necessity for knowledge of complex isms and theories that are depicted within every shot of the film. A film can still provoke thought and make an emotional journey with simplicity. Mainly, this simpleness calls upon the use of classical directing techniques. However, these techniques lend themselves to be innovated in creative ways.

One of the best examples of this is by Godfrey Reggio in his movies KoyaanisqatsiPowaqqatsi and Noqoyqatsi. All these films have a thesis and a point that they try to make. However, these films are also surprisingly simple and appeal to the general audience. The first time I watched Koyaaniqatsi, I was amazed by how effective it was in drawing in the audience and capturing their attention.

One does not always have to make a point in a film. I feel it suffices for the audience to be entertained by whatever they see. But in most cases, it is the simple things that can be understood by the audience is what they will enjoy. And, ultimately, it is the audience’s approval that the filmmaker should seek. The acceptance of his techniques by the mass audience (not JUST the knowledgeable but remote film/art community) should be the ultimate goal.

I think another good example is Christoper Nolan who might not use the most subtle techniques, but certainly has the ability to entertain his audience which makes him one of the most successful directors today.

Thus, to me, films and filmmakers should aim to have two things: an attention to detail and the general audience in mind. For me, keeping the audience in mind means making the film simple and entertaining. The entertainment factor can be argued but it needs to stem away from the profound montages that is often produced out of a debauchery of video filters.

The attention to detail is also discouraging as it leads to very little reward and acknowledgement initially. However, a completely accurate film will pay off in the long run as it lends the film to multiple viewings. It is the attention to detail that will truly impress the ever increasing film-savvy audience. And it is the approval of the general audience that a filmmaker should seek.

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