By Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais. Originally published in The Art(s) Of Slow Cinema Journal, issue 1, December 2018. Portuguese translation published in Multiplot online magazine, issue 6, December 2018.
1_The tools for filmmaking were invented less than 130 years ago, the medium is still very young. Even though many territories have been explored, some even entirely occupied, there are still many unexplored lands, many secret isles, hidden forests and uncharted seas. The artist filmmaker must be an explorer going into the unknown with only intuition as their guide.
2_The history of cinema began in the caves of our ancestors, the language of moving images has been with us since the dawn of time. Over human history there have been several attempts to create the tools to work with this language but it was only with the invention of the cinematograph and celluloid film that the disparate grammar of moving images was brought together into a single medium.
3_The history of cinema is now deeply entangled with that of celluloid film but cinema is more than film. As beautiful and magnificent as the film medium is, it also enslaved cinema to money and made it a tool dominated by an economic, industrial and intellectual elite. Celluloid cinema’s reign was luckily short-lived and now with the invention of digital video cinema has been liberated.
4_The liberation of cinema through the invention of digital tools is also a liberation of celluloid. No longer does it have to carry the weight of all cinema on its back. Celluloid is material and its mysteries are revealed in the impact of light on matter, digital is immaterial and its secrets are expressed through the mysterious language of Ones and Zeros. Zero the great potential and One the spark of creation itself.
5_The goal of an art-form is to be free, the tools must be available to all so that anyone from any walk of life who feels the call of art can leap to action and create. Cinema is finally in the place where it is free and accessible to all despite one’s economics, education or technical skills, now we can begin to see the fulfilment of cinema’s potential.
6_Some people believe all stories have been told, all inventions and technical advancements made, and that all ideas have been had – these people are only expressing the limits of their own imagination, to say “it has all been done” expresses only that the one speaking cannot envisage anything other than that which already exists. They do not speak for all. Creativity will continue to open doors to that which is as yet unknown.
7_Even though it is a common belief that film and video are mediums that document, filmmaking is not objective enough to ever be a truly scientific tool – its true purpose is to give shape to dreams and visions. To be both a presentation of fantasy and activator of the imagination. No filmed document can escape the transmutation process from reality to fantasy, through the split second capturing of images a new reality is born, a visionary reality of the filmed image.
8_The daily work of the artist is to develop a craft. Seek to have the widest possible creative tools available in order to best serve the images that need to materialise through you. Work on cinema and let cinema work on you; artistry and craft are ways of being.
9_Follow your creative instinct and every film that you make will be a success. How can a film fail when its only goal is to come into existence?
10_A new language of speaking about narrative is needed, the simplistic division of narrative/non-narrative does not suffice – all cinema is narrative: it starts, it ends and in between there is movement. More nuanced descriptions are required for the various approaches to narrative forms.
11_It is time for a non-hierarchical view of cinema, all films are born equal whether industrial, artisanal, personal and everything else in between. For example, in a wider sense there is no difference in value between a Jonas Mekas film and a Stephen Spielberg film, they of course exist as polar extremes of an industrial system but fundamentally they are only a series of still images that create an illusion of movement. Both are ingested into the consciousness of the viewer and each will mean something different to each person that views them.
12_Cinema is a first person experience, its value comes from the impact a film has on each individual. We cannot know or anticipate how a film will be received by the viewer so we must trust each one to find their own way and encourage them to value their own personal experience.
13_What we must fight for is the freedom for all films to exist, even the films we personally don’t like, there must not be a monopoly over culture. As artists and lovers of human creativity we must do the work to put light and value on those corners of cinema which are unseen and overlooked.
14_The production of films is easier than ever before, the great struggle now is exhibition. The context in which a film is shown is integral to the experience and meaning of the film. We must think hard about the appropriate context for showing the films. Some films work well on the internet or TV screens, others need a large screen and darkened room, others are best suited looped on a gallery wall – there is no one way but there is a right way for the films you make.
15_Everywhere we look there are moving images, many of us carry a screen with us at all times. The impact this is having on human consciousness is still unclear but what we do know is we are hungry for meaningful images, living images that speak to the depths of our being. Our job as artists is to create that which we feel passionately about, do not short change yourself or others by falling back on easy tricks and cheap expressions. Only make the film that speaks to you deeply, the film that has to exist and which only you can make.
16_If you truly care about the audience, begin by making art for yourself. To think you know what the audience wants and needs is a crime against free will. Do not seek to manipulate and do not fall into the trap of thinking you know what is best for someone else.
17_The industrial system of cinema has imposed a classification of national identity on films but as artists we must cultivate an international attitude. We are all of course born and live in a certain place that will impact on us and how we make our work but our true country is creativity, our shared language that of moving images and we must reject being the tool of nationalism. Instead of building walls around our films, we should seek through them to expand the limits of our personal identity.
18_We must see ourselves as contributors to an ongoing history of humankind, we should not reject the past, we should not seek to overthrow what has been but to be participants in a gradual mutation of human consciousness. The role of the artist is to bring into consciousness through the condition of themselves images that are expressions of the eternal in the clothes of the present.
19_As artists we have to work with the conditions of our time and we need to find a way to survive in the society and age we live in. There is never a ready-made answer to this struggle but in the face of all the options – the push and pull – stay strong and if something doesn’t feel right then seek another option, there is always another path waiting just for you. If something you need doesn’t exist then create it.
20_An artist is not a politician or a journalist, art is not about social commentary or propaganda. Take a higher path, offer something more meaningful than political statements, give the viewer your heart and soul, give them the deepest gifts of your spirit. Each human being is unlike any other, we are totally unique manifestations of matter and energy, there has never been one of you before and never will again. Celebrate this, inspire each viewer to go on a quest in search of themselves and lead by example.
21_When uncertain, leap. When faced with fear, embrace. When stuck, surrender. When lost, keep going. When tired, rest. When energised, act. When inspired, rejoice. When creating, listen. When disaster strikes, move on. When criticised, say yes and keep working. When praised, say yes and keep working. When in need, give. When in doubt, receive. And at all times do that which only you can do, seek to fulfil the potential of the uniqueness in yourself and celebrate it in others.