Last year, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I decided to enter the world of experimental filmmaking. Although I had my doubts in the beginning, I have never been more driven or determined about anything else before. As I currently write this, I’m in the process of making my first film Morning. Before I even loaded a roll into my super 8 camera, I wrote out a declaration of principals that I would follow for everyone of my films.
1) Everything must be shot on film (8MM/16MM)
I’m one of digital filmmaking’s harshest critics, I’m also a firm believer that CGI has ruined film. Celluloid is a part of our cultural history, and I feel it has to be maintained. With film, you get a finished product that has a certain look and feel about it, that you can’t replicate with anything modern.
2) Actors are not to be told what’s in a scene until just prior to filming
I can’t take credit for this one. This is one of the techniques Pier Paolo Pasolini used on the set of Salo. This is a technique that ensures you get a realistic response from your actors. Some of the most memorable scenes in film are ones that are summed up in a look or an expression. I also feel this brings their own emotional response to a scene, rather than trying to prepare for one.
3) No props/No Sets
This is another one I can’t take credit for, this is from the ‘Dogma 95’ film movement. Along with Pasolini, Lars Von Trier is one of my biggest influences. He’s always used film as a means to express his view of the world, and exorcise his own demons. Instead of having an elaborate sound stage, or a series of props that have nothing to do with the story, shooting on an actual location gives a film a more realistic feel. You can transform reality, simply by using its implements.
4) No tripods/Only handheld shots
Once again, this is another rule I adopted from ‘Dogma 95.’ (though to be fair Von Trier was influenced to use this technique by the television show Homicide: Life On The Street). I implemented this rule because of my favorite horror director, Dario Argento. In films such as Opera and Tenebrae he used the camera to tell the story, he let the camera work for him. Although Argento did use tripods, it’s the philosophy of camera movement I strive to emulate. The perfection of the hand held shot can be found in Touch Of Evil, directed by the cornerstone of American film himself, Orson Welles.
5) No Crowdfunding/Kickstarter
In this modern age, so many people have online campaigns to raise money for their ambitions. I’m completely against that. If you believe in what you’re doing, don’t ask others to pay for it. Filmmakers such as Werner Herzog made masterpieces strictly on their own passion and dedication, Other filmmakers, such as Jorg Buttgereit and Richard Kern made incredible works, with next to no money. So far, I have paid for everything out of my own pocket. Although it makes the process longer, Orson Welles said it best: “I use my own work to subsidize my work, in other words I’m crazy.”
Footage I shot last November in Jamaica Plain,MA