06 December 2011

On the definition of film-making

We often use the term 'film' (especially here in the UK) in place of 'movie' or 'motion picture', despite the relative rarity of celluloid in modern movie production.

The word 'filmic' is banded about to describe a film as being film-like (despite how unneccessary that sounds); but it could mean that the film in question exhibits the gloss and elegance of a classic Hollywood production, or merely that the film maker has achieved the hallowed 'film look', otherwise known as disguising the consumer video origins of the footage.

And amongst all this are the film makers. This one term bridges the gulf between the hobbyist grabbing shots at an antique car rally, and the household name in a far-flung country managing a crane shot with equipment that costs more than our house. Both of those film makers each see something that pleases the eye, that describes the moment so succinctly that we must preserve it for others -- which could be the intense stare of an outlandish character that we've come to know so well in just 30 minutes, or it could be the evening sun glinting off the chrome bumper of an Austin Healey. Nevertheless, we film makers nod to that dividing gulf with qualifiers such as amateur, or novice, or hobbyist -- lest someone might suppose we claim to be in the same business as Kubrick or Minghella.

Film makers are often described as storytellers. I've found that only good film makers qualify as storytellers; only great ones can be called story makers -- so refined is the skill to make film tell a story without the anciliary aids that other media can employ. But all of us film makers possess the core ability to visualise a shot and translate it to the screen. To develop we have to show patience and diligence to hone those choices, one day go beyond the pleasant images, and say more with less.

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