To be honest, I have never thought of myself as an artist. My work, however, is heavily influenced by certain individuals that I do consider great artists. These artists have distinct features that makes them the artists I perceive them as. The standards they set, I can only dream of exceeding one day. In my view, these artists have redefined the idea of film as art, and have molded it into what I see as art today. It takes an insane amount of creativity to reach only half of what they are capable of. I like to try to at least reach that far. My biggest influence would have to be Christopher Nolan. Some call him the modern Kubrick. I see him as an original that doesn’t even compare to anyone else. Christopher Nolan got me hooked in the world of film. Throughout this post my vision for the future and path I want to take as a filmmaker will hopefully become clearer.
What Filmmakers like Nolan and David Fincher have done for me, is a very essential element of film. The element of surprise. Both of these filmmakers have left me stunned and have successfully created goosebumps inducing films. I don’t see this element as often as I’d like to these days, but when I do it is quite powerful. What I hope to achieve as a filmmaker is to introduce ideas into a viewer’s mind and make them question, what is reality? Or maybe ask them one question and answer it with a completely different question. I want to make the viewer believe in something and then make them question it. I want the viewer to think they know what they know, but then completely turn things around and move in a completely different direction. Life is usually very predictable. I don’t like ordinary stuff. I want to take the viewer into a world where they will never feel like they would in our normal daily world.
Creativity is the main ingredient in a successful filmmaker. I always like to take in all the creativity possible before starting the production of a film, because I feel that film as art requires a sense of magic and wonder to it that allows the mind to be exercised. A film is usually intended to entertain a person and the main way to acheive this is by taking them to a place they have never been before, or if a place is revisited, show it to them in another point of view. The film District 9 is such a great example. District 9 was a science fiction film that for me, redefined the genre. It is a film about aliens in South Africa that live in a segregated area away from humans. At the time of its release, this was the freshest film I had seen in a while, even though there have been numerous sci-fi alien films in the past. It showed a world in which the whole situation was a metaphor for the times of segregation in South Africa. It took something we had seen and twisted it into something entirely different. What I hope to achieve in my filmmaking career is to twist reality. I want to place ideas in people’s minds, they had never even dreamt about. Film in a way, is simply getting your ideas out there to the world. And ideas are the foundation of our progress.
I felt I had to make some critical changes to the original in order to get across my original intentions. I wanted the film to take the viewer through a narrative about a robot’s loss of love. I’ve always found the concept of something inatimate, robots/androids in particular gaining emotions out of some magical reason. I felt like with this poem, not only would the story work, but the poem would enhance the story as the poem states the writer, Gustavo Becquer’s love for someone will never die. Robots/androids have always been seen in media as some sort of indestructible force. But what happens when that indestructible force is destroyed? That’s where i felt the finger drawing the heart came in with some significance. The viewer could, and in my opinion should, interpret that as the robot’s heart being rebuilt.
Most of the issues centered on the fact that I shot three very different scenes and I will admit that. But in my head they connected very well. Sadly, the viewer cannot read my mind. I decided to make some visual changes in the first and last scenes by making the color of them match the color of the scene with the robot. I felt this put the three scenes in a world that they could very possibly coexist together. It also turned out that the color change turned the heart into a black heart rather than the pink heart I had in the original. This worked for me for several reasons. One, the color matches the tone of the poem. Two, it was a suggestion I had heard from several people in the workshop and I ended up liking the idea quite a bit.
The last thing I added to the revision were some transitions. The transitions actually made the biggest difference in my opinion. In the original first scene, we see a man’s face crying and then it cuts to a robot out of nowhere. Now on the revision there is a transition of a dream-like sense and it makes the viewer believe the face crying knew the robot/felt for the robot/ or maybe even was the robot itself. It’s up to the viewer.
I felt something very different with the poem I chose. Gustavo Adolfo Becquer’s poem Amor Eterno (Eternal Love) was one of the few poems I truly found captivating. Spanish is my mother tongue and the way he worded the poem allowed for some extraordinary visions inside my head. From imagery of a drying ocean to images of a breaking ground, the poem sets itself up for a cinematic translation. However, some problems came up during my creative process in which I developed a narrative.
Ever since I was ten years old, I remember finding stop-motion such an enriching/magical way to tell a story. It allows for some amazing visuals as well as the ability to construct the impossible. To be honest, nothing is impossible when it comes to animation/stop-motion. Or if there is, there’s a very thin line. I have worked with stop-motion at various points in my life and my favorite aspect of it all is being able to watch something so ordinary like a plastic cup or a stuffed monkey come to life. Sometimes, I even feel like stop-motion creates a greater sense of reality than real life.
Now, when I first chose the poem, I decided that even though the words have such visual potential I wanted to go on a more creative route and develop a story around the poem rather than centered on the poem. So what I told through the film was not a direct copy of what Gustavo was telling with his poem. I do feel like the film and the poem meet at some points and I did intend for the film to share some of the themes that the poem presented. I wanted to convey this sense of sadness to represent all the destruction in the poem and then build the film up to a happier conclusion like the poem did.
As I was searching around my room I came across this robot that my dad owned when he was little and I’ve always felt an attachment to his old toys. And one of my favorite films is Toy Story, so I thought how could I combine the two and create a story that could reflect some of the poem’s meaning. Then another thought came up that robots have this connotation of the future/destruction that film and fiction have created. So I found it made sense as the poem delved into all sorts of chaos and disorder, that robots tend to bring in both film and fiction. I decided to use the robot to tell the story of how love is so powerful that even when something comes along to destroy it, love perseveres and comes out on top.
This film is based off the poem “Amor Eterno” by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. The poem gives off a feeling of loneliness and sadness via destruction and other depressing things but then finishes off on a good note as the author states that his love for someone will never end no matter what happens.
The short film based on The Deserted House by Alfred Tennyson was my first true collaborative project. I worked on the film with Hala and it was an effective introduction into collaborative filmmaking.
As it was the first time I would be working on a film knowing I would have to compromise some of my own visions to fit the ones that both of us filmmakers would agree on, I did not know what to expect of our finished product. However, I did find the collaboration to be easier and more efficient that I originally had in mind. Having two visionaries allowed the project to expand beyond the narrow mindset I had for the film.
Although the pros outweighed the cons, there were still several issues that the collaboration presented. These were primarily concerned with the editing aspect of the process. My partner and I found ourselves constantly wanting to take the scene or shot in a different direction in the lighting, length, and placement areas. I was surprised to find that the issues rested mostly in the post-production of the film rather than the pre-production planning stages or even the shooting stages which went by very smoothly for a first time collaboration project.
One of the key things I took from this first assignment is the truth that collaborations are crucial in the world of film because not only does a filmmaker learn from other filmmakers but the fact that there is another person with different experiences who has different perspectives in many areas is so important for early filmmakers/auteurs. The film itself is enhanced when two different visions mesh into one to create a sequence that has the best of both of them. The influence a filmmaker has on another is a very powerful one that can open doors that were once locked in the filmmaker’s mind.
By Gustavo Adolfo Becquer
Podrá nublarse el sol eternamente;
Podrá secarse en un instante el mar;
Podrá romperse el eje de la tierra
Como un débil cristal.
¡todo sucederá! Podrá la muerte
Cubrirme con su fúnebre crespón;
Pero jamás en mí podrá apagarse
La llama de tu amor.
What I love about this poem (no pun intended) is that it has some rich imagery. From images of a darkening sun to images of the ground splitting, there could be some interested shots that would translate well into film. With the style of stop-motion some of these shots would be very interesting, like shots of crystals breaking and of a drying sea. Overall, the message of the poem also captivates me as it is about how nothing can stop this man’s (Gustavo’s) love for someone no matter how much his life or the world around him changes he will always have this intense love that will come on top from all and everything else.
What annoys me about film today is that the authority involved (Hollywood) seems to think lowly of its audience. They seem to keep recycling the same concepts and stories over and over and the idea of originality is scarce. What annoys me the most is that money is the primary driving force of mainstream cinema today where movies are sometimes produced solely for the purpose of generating the highest possible revenue. Cinema is art but seems to be treated as more of a business. Filmmakers like Michael Bay seem to be the leaders of summer blockbusters in an age where every movie needs to have an explosion even if there is no narrative reasoning behind it. Visual effects are apparently more important than captivating stories and the character development and the magic we used to see with directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock who used the camera as a way of transporting the viewer to an undiscovered world. What annoys me is that the general public today seems to think the only source of legitimate cinema comes from the projects directly approved by Hollywood and completely look past and disregard independent films. You have way more theatres like AMC and Regal than you do art houses likes the Charles Theatre, which contributes to the lack of exposure to independent filmmaking, which in my opinion is sometimes the greater kind. People today like to have everything spoon-fed to them which is why Hollywood is afraid to release more summer blockbusters like Inception and Prometheus which ask questions and require the viewers devoted attention. Filmmaking should be seen as a way for a filmmaker to express their views through what they show on a screen. This should lead to discussions and multiple interpretations of films; however, it annoys me and scares me that if people keep looking past all types of films and filmmakers and give their money to the cash-grab Hollywood projects, the true idea of film might get lost somewhere.