blake (directing_guy) wrote in directors,

amateur film-maker

Not sure if this has been posted here before but either way it's an inspiring short read.

Amateur Versus Professional
by Maya Deren

The major obstacle for amateur film-makers is their
own sense of inferiority vis-a-vis professional
productions. The very classification "amateur" has an
apologetic ring. But that very word - from the Latin
"amateur" - "lover" means one who does something for
the love of the thing rather than for economic reasons
or necessity. And this is the meaning from which the
amateur film-maker should take his clue. Instead of
envying the script and dialogue writers, the trained
actors, the elaborate staffs and sets, the enormous
production budgets of the professional film, the
amateur should make use of the one great advantage
which all professionals envy him, namely, freedom -
both artistic and physical.
Artistic freedom means that the amateur film-maker
is never forced to sacrifice visual drama and beauty
to a stream of words, words, words, words, to the
relentless activity and explanations of a plot, or to
the display of a star or a sponsor's product; nor is
the amateur production expected to return profit on a
huge investment by holding the attention of a massive
and motley audience for 90 minutes. Like the amateur
still-photographer, the amateur film-maker can devote
himself to capturing the poetry and beauty of places
and events and, since he is using a motion picture
camera, he can explore the vast world of the beauty of
movement. (One of the films winning Honorable Mention
in the 1958 Creative Film Awards was ROUND AND SQUARE,
a poetic, rhythmic treatment of the dancing lights of
cars as they streamed down highways, under bridges,
etc.) Instead of trying to invent a plot that moves,
use the movement or wind, or water, children, people,
elevators, balls, etc. as a poem might celebrate
these. And use your freedom to experiment with visual
ideas; your mistakes will not get you fired.
Physical freedom includes time freedom - a freedom
from budget imposed deadlines. But above all, the
amateur film-maker, with his small, light-weight
equipment, has an inconspicuousness (for candid
shooting) and a physical mobility which is well the
envy of most professionals, burdened as they are by
their many-ton monsters, cab1es and crews. Don't
forget that no tripod has yet been built which is as
miraculously versatile in movement as the complex
system of supports, joints, muscles, and nerves which
is the human body, which, with a bit of practice,
makes possible the enormous variety of camera angles
and visual action. You have all this, and a brain too,
in one neat, compact, mobile package.
Cameras do not make films; film-makers make films.
Improve your films not by adding more equipment and
personnel but by using what you have to its fullest
capacity. The most important part of your equipment is
yourself: your mobile body, your imaginative mind, and
your freedom to use both. Make sure you do use them.

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