Saturday, August 9, 2014
It would seen that most film schools have a knack for employing “teachers” whose understanding of character and story seldom stirs anything more potent than an academic pot of abstractions. Armed with a lexicon of jargon, these hapless “educators” strive to encourage their students to ‘develop the subtext’, attend to ‘the character beats’, and ‘work to strengthen the ending’, while sagely believing they are offering a real service. Wittingly or unwittingly, they seem to see their job as converting their likeable but naive charges into dutiful, passive apprentices, serving a set of formulaic recipes that encompass almost everything except heart, illumination and inspiration. Confident in their own habits of thought, these wise mentors - each, in his or her own way - will cajole the young filmmaker with their best advice, busy with the business of instilling “character arcs”, “inciting incidences” and “mid-points” - proof positive of the storyteller’s need to take control and shape the action like any cheap puppeteer in the everlasting theater of the deaf and blind. They are vandals, abortionists, usually without even suspecting it, and always with the best of intentions. What results are scripts and films that wind up being an approximation of other people’s tastes, proclivities, notions and vagaries, assembled out of the students’ need to please and impress rather than the students’ original vision and unique mistakes, which have never been employed because they were too busy making everyone else’s mistakes. You could say that film schools have a lot to answer for, but luckily they are all but irrelevant, particularly for those few, dedicated an focused individuals that are passionately interested in making stories for the screen. Their collisions with the ignorance of these well-meaning mentors provides only a temporary distraction, and is soon left behind.