Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.
Today: Paul talks about aspiring to be an artist:
Every writer and every filmmaker should aspire to be an artist. Throughout the years, the idea of being an artist has been associated with pretension and obscurity, and filmmakers who dare call themselves artists have been stigmatized as enemies of entertainment and popular appeal. But why does it have to be this way? I don’t know how many interviews I’ve read where filmmakers modestly state, “I don’t want to call myself an artist…” But in order to make great movies, we have to be great artists. Because in essence, art is truth expressed through beauty. And artists are simply people who have a poetic command of their craft that they’re able to express something meaningful and truthful in a way that has beauty and power.
The Quest is grooming us writers to work in the arena of popular movies. But in no way does that diminish the importance of art in our work. By working in a medium where our potential to influence society is perhaps greater than any other art form, we have an even greater responsibility to create works of art that will give meaning and wisdom to the world. And in order to do so, we must work honestly to draw upon our own experiences to express our knowledge of life to the best of our abilities. And if we do this well and we do this with sincerity and artistry, we will have the ability to move others through our work.
So this week as we explored the topic of theme and came to define theme as the meaning we wish to impart on our story’s audience, I’ve narrowed my purpose of writing to a simple goal: to write something fun and meaningful that will move me and move others. If people reading my script (or watching this movie one day), come away with a wonderful emotional experience, I feel like I will have succeeded. Of course, this is a gargantuan task. A task I could easily fail at and fall short of. But that is what I aspire to achieve. And even as I’m writing a four-quadrant action-adventure, I’d like to write a four-quadrant action-adventure that is a deeply felt work of art. Because honestly, that is the only kind of movie I care about.
Some would call screenwriting a craft. Some would call it an art. Most professional screenwriters would likely refer to it simply as work. But no matter how you perceive it, the simple fact is there is always an aspect of creativity involved in translating a story in our head onto the page.
So why not aspire to do your best work? Why not aim to plumb your creativity and craft something special? If the story you’re working on is a genre piece or big dumb comedy (not disparaging either as these are some of my favorite movies), then strive to make them the best damn stories possible.
Whatever it takes to compel your ass onto a chair to pound out a good story, grab onto that and ride it as far as it can take you. Who knows? Maybe you can become an artist.
Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.
About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.