I generally stick to fiction – you won’t find a lot of posts about documentaries here. That’s about to change.
The last few weeks were challenging. I have looked at this blog on numerous occasions and thought, NO – I can’t. Going back to #31DaysofHorror feels wrong, in light of the real world horror I and so many others feel after the results of this election.
On the other hand, maybe you don’t feel bad about it at all. There are those of you who will call me a “special little snowflake” and tell me to “buck up, buttercup,” because this is reality. This is who won. Donald Trump is the next President of the United States.
You’re right. So what do I do now?
*Danger, Will Robinson: Affiliate Links Ahead! I’ve put together an easy list of books for you to grab on Amazon, and when you buy through my links, I make some cash. For full disclosure, scroll to the end of this post!*
Books on film, about films, for filmmakers, for film lovers…
Now that we’ve been doing my version of film school for a bit, I think it’s best we apprehend the right materials, don’t you?
There are Skillshare courses. We talked shot analysis. Today, let’s read a few books.
Whether you read on a kindle (I think you’re weird) or the slowly browning paper it was meant to be printed on, these are the Top 10 Books on Film I recommend for those looking to sink their teeth deeper into the world of movies.
Helpful Amazon links included – even for those of you who’d commit the ultimate sacrilege and download them to your iPad (David Lynch is judging you).
I’ve shared a little bit of “film school” with you before (see How to Actively Watch a Film, Reading the Shot). Today, I want to continue that series with some lessons from other filmmakers/students of film.
People hate criticism.
Writers, artists, scientists, your Mom – no one wants to hear all the ways they’re screwing up. The only thing they hate more than the criticism itself? The jerk who doles it out.
As a self-proclaimed critical bitch, I like to think I know something about criticism.
But the general presumption about critics (I think) is that while we know how to dish it out, we can’t very well take it in. I’d like to take this moment to disparage that idea (not for all of us, but for some of us) and tell you writers, artists, scientists, mothers – I too, have received my fair share of strongly worded criticism.
The best critics, the best artists, the best creatives, I believe, have been on both sides of the table.
Visual Literacy is how we make meaning from art.
Remember the first post in this series? In our increasingly digital, fast-paced, and visual world, visual literacy – knowing how to read an image (that is, determine its implied meaning and direction) – is absolutely the most important thing you can learn to do right now (says the filmmaker, artist, and illustrator).
As citizens of the world, we may not all speak the same language, we may never learn to write code, but we CAN all learn to interpret art. A visual language, and your visual competency, is something that has the power to bring us all together.
Now that you know how serious this is, let’s get down to it. Part Two of the Visual Literacy Primer:
What’s in a shot?
Now that you’ve begun to really watch films – not just passively observing – you’re ready to read them. Read what, you say? Let’s start with the basic building block of a movie:
So you saw Citizen Kane, read about the “Male Gaze,” and brushed up on your German Expressionism – now what? You can see every GREAT work – film, painting, sculpture, any art – that others tell you is important, and still have… well, not a lot to say.
Art is only as important as it is relevant to your life.
Seeing something a textbook once told you is the most important whatever of a generation or a century is unlikely to place it within a context suited to your emotions. And art, if nothing else, is meant to stir the emotions. So, what’s an aspiring arts-lover to do if the greats just don’t seem to be doing it for you?
Don’t dismiss them yet.
(And also, don’t forget any unlikely “art” that you already love – there is a place for The Super Mario Brothers Movie in even the most distinguished, critical, film buff’s heart. It’s simply your job to get others to notice.)
Instead, the discerning critic tries to look at them another way and actively engage with the images set before her. In other words, we make it relevant to us.