I finally got around to writing out a statement on motion pictures. As one does, I've developed certain predilections and theories over the years, and these from the same few recurring ideas, with a couple of basic questions at the root of them. What is so compelling about this particular medium? How does narrative film captivate and elicit such strong feelings?
Well to be honest, I've never felt very comfortable attempting to make sense of something as paradoxically trivial and important as art, at least without the proper degree. But I do know that you get out of life what you put in, and art is largely the same.
Here is a list of film theories birthed or adopted–more likely stolen–from several sources over the years: academic texts, how-to manuals, late night conversations with friends, hushed comments in the back of a movie theater, set debates, and the occasional urge to scream.
They are less of a "ten commandments" and more of a testament to the compelling nature of film, or why anyone would bother writing such a thing out in the first place. So if the subject interests you, particularly any production-types who may be stopping by: may you find some agreeance here. And please try not to be bothered by how many times I use the word "film"... I've run out of suitable synonyms.
1.) A film which wants to have personhood should create a dialog/dialectic with the audience, much like a relationship between two people. Films, like friendships, have the power to influence and transform the individual when taken to heart. But you the filmmaker must earn that trust by giving it to your audience first.
2.) The audience should be given the benefit of the doubt. If you consider their senses keen and fragile, as they might be when truly engaged in a film, as in friendship...then you might not quite so willingly exploit those senses to make some lame artistic point.
3.) Audience catharsis is important and should not be taken lightly. This is why, at least in my opinion, audience exploitation became a problem in recent cinema. The desensitization of people discourages them from genuinely attaching and believing, which is unfortunate, as people generally crave truth. Postmodernism has a part to play in this, as well.
4.) If a film is attempting authenticity, the voice of the filmmaker should never be heard or sensed (comedic scenarios excepted).
5.) All a film must do to be successful is be true to itself and the principles of the world/characters it has created. As with anything, consistency is very important. If a film pays off what it sets up, it works.
6.) All that being said, keeping the audience in mind is just a way of not being too self-indulgent artistically. The only critic to whom you're actually accountable is yourself. If you make every film for yourself, if you are true to yourself, you are actually making it for your audience, as well.
7.) Good art is what allows us to put the most of ourselves in it. This is true for the author as well as the audience. Filmmakers should strive to make open-ended films which can relate to people, encouraging thoughtfulness and participation. These will be the films which most impact others, to whatever end.
8.) "No artist believes in escapism. And we secretly believe that no audience does. We have proved, at any rate, that they will pay to see the truth, for other reasons than her nakedness." credit: The Archers
As I say, this manifesto is ongoing and subject to change.