At the moment, in the few spare minutes I get from time to time, I’m reading a book called Herzog on Herzog, which is about the film director Werner Herzog. He’s a brilliant director from what I’ve seen (admittedly, not much) and I honestly didn’t know exactly what I was going to make of the book. I thought, on one hand, that I know Werner has a lot of interesting insights and stories to tell but on the other hand, might get a little bit too deeply into it for my liking. Glad to say it appears Werner doesn’t go too deeply into anything and, in fact, describes cinema as an art for the illiterate. Not necessarily meaning film is dumb but rather simple, as it has to be when you’re task is basically to really spell out things to the audience rather than imply on infer them like when many people write novels, paint pictures or compose music. This I liked! Though I hate directors who have no vision whatsoever (I’m looking at you, Bay) I equally detest those directors who go too far in making films with deeply subverted philosophical under-tones and slight and only vaguely apparent references to religious imagery (Like Uwe Boll). Herzog seems to fit between the two extremes perfectly!
Furthermore it’s inspiring! One day I would enjoy making a film or ten of my own but am often disheartened by lack of time, money or chocolate chip cookies. Much of the contents of the book aren’t direct narratives on his films and instead can be used as inspiring stories on how to get a start in making movies! The book, and Werner himself, act as a sort of reminder that perhaps I don’t need to constantly be worried about writing a script that’s going to please some budget-conscious production company, or even writing a script at all!
And budget? What budget! As Werner would say:
“Rob a bank – for God’s sake!”
Inspired! Though I’m not going to rob a bank I get his point. Budget shouldn’t be the restrictive force that you can make it if you worry about it too much. I think it might be helpful to me in day to day life, as I set about trying to work on film ideas and stories, to think “What would Herzog say?” as a kind of motivator! When I’m sitting by the computer not sure how my lead character is going to put forward an accurate narrative that doesn’t go on too long yet speaks deeply of their role in a movie?
“I cannot work fast enough. I cannot cope fast enough, really. And just releasing a film is hard.”
Right… I can’t tell if that was relevant or not. How about if I’m out and about with my camera pondering what to shoot. Where should I point it to make for the most interesting footage?
“There are certainly laws and elements that make a film more accessible to mainstream audiences. If you’ve got Tom Cruise as a strongman, I’m sure it would have larger audiences, but it wouldn’t have the same substance.”
Yeah, um… Tom Cruise isn’t really an issue. Unless he was around to shoot but I think I’m a ways off from having Tom Cruise be interested in making a movie with me. Is there anything relevant you want to say, Werner?
“Let’s put it this way: art house theaters are vanishing. They have almost disappeared completely, and that means there’s a shift in what audiences want to see. And they have to be aware of that and be realistic. It’s as simple as that.”
Ah yes, I see now! What you’re trying to say is if I just… uh… What I mean is, if I’m struggling to think of a strong plot I should… No, you lost me. Does anyone else around here have any advice for a struggling film-maker?
“I like cappuccino, actually. But even a bad cup of coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
Lynch, that really had nothing to do with anything. Even your own work, please get back in the corner and think about what you’ve done.