A film manifesto, as told by the [amateur] film critic, Shelby Cooke. Pretentious, but not as much as Dogme 95.
Film is Art, Not Entertainment. Hollywood producers have lost the essence of what films are. Producers make films that please the masses; they don’t make films that make art. This should not be the case. Cinema is the modern art form. Films should be treated as art, not merely as entertainment. Cinema has such a luxurious history of reinventing what art can be, but in 2016 we treat cinema as a numbing pastime. Rather than producing mindless nonsense, producers should support projects that reflect what cinema truly is: art.
[Film] Art Imitates Reality. Realism in film shouldn’t be a question. How can you create a work of art without it being real? Art imitates reality. Without the Italians, films would all be happy-go-lucky studio musicals with the protagonist getting the gorgeous girl in the end. Real life is gritty; it’s desperate and hopeless. It’s not all fairytales and happy endings. The paintings in the Louvre aren’t of superheroes saving New York City or aliens invading the Earth, but they’re of real people with their all their flaws and imperfections. So, why are films not the same?
A Film with Strong Mise-En-Scene is a Film Worth Remembering. I find myself completely engrossed in a film that is thematic and stylized. The mood of the film completely overcomes me, and, for at least two hours, I am transported into the world of the film; completely lost in the mind of the filmmaker. This feeling of the film, if presented well enough, will stay with me even after the film has ended. It’s a true triumph of the filmmaker if I find my mind lingering in the world of film.
Film is a Visual Medium. If a film doesn’t stimulate me visually, then I might as well just read the book it's probably based on. A film should captivate me from the moment it opens. A filmmaker should treat the screen like a blank canvas. The director uses the image on the screen to create a work of art the same as a painter with his brush.
Films Depend on the Relationship Between the Director and His DOP. The relationship between the director and the cinematographer is critical to making a visually stimulating film. When a director finds his soul in a cinematographer than magic happens and true art is created. A strong collaboration between the film's mastermind and the master of visuals will surely see to a beautiful, powerful, striking, and poetic picture. And, like Iñárritu and Lubezki, once a director finds his soulmate DOP, he should keep him forever because brilliance will always ensue.
Characters are the Story. Stories should be about characters, not plot. Everything in life is about the soul. We go about our lives with a personal drive within us. We don’t live our lives thinking about what will cause the most drama, but we live the life most fulfilling to our soul. And a film should depict the same. Films are a reflection of humanity; humanity is a reflection of personal drive and desire. Film’s stories should be about the drive and desires of the character, not the action of the plot.
Actors Should be Trained. Acting is more than just talent. It’s a craft that needs to be trained and perfected. Anyone who wants to do something successfully needs to be trained, and the best actors are trained.
Actors Need to be Anonymous. An actor has one main objective: to convince the audience he is someone else. But “A-List” actors lose that ability to connect with the audience because the viewer becomes fixated on the face of the celebrity rather than the character. An actor who remains anonymous to the viewer can create a bond between viewer and character that has the potential to transport the audience into a different life, a different time, a different existence. They have the power to generate performances that will resonate with audiences forever. An actor is meant to be unknown, not a pop culture icon.
Method Acting is the Only Type of Acting. I once overheard a conversation on the streets of New York that, I believe, sums up acting: "All actors are method. And if they're not, then they're shit." It’s quite an exciting experience watching an actor completely submerge himself/ herself into a role, to watch them physically change before your eyes. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things to see an actor fall in love with a character and actually become them. I don’t want to see an actor play a character; I want to see the character, completely there, bare to the audience. Raw.
Destroy the Blockbusters. In recent years, Hollywood has become a cesspool of irrelevant and uncreative works. I call this, “The Marvel Generation.” How many times can Hollywood remake the same movie? “The [metropolitan city] is under attack by [an unforgiving, violent, over-the-top villain], and it is up to [our generic group of superhero friends] to save the day.” Blockbusters are nothing more than mindless entertainment. Blockbusters are mere money makers for studios. Blockbusters neglect the passion, originality, and creativity of cinema.
Film Should Teach. Film should be used to teach its viewers the way of the world. Films put the world at the viewer’s fingertips. The audience can explore any facet of life, at any period, in any life within a film. Films make the world’s cultures, history, religion, and politics completely assessable. A film should be made to depict the essence and nature of our world. Films should teach life and reality.
Film is Power. Film has the power to re-adjust a person’s mind and soul. Films have the power to spark revolutions and promote political change. Films should challenge the viewer and their way of life; make the viewer rethink who they are and what they believe. Films should be made on the basis on impacting at least one person. If one person is truly affected and changed by a film, then that film has succeeded.