As I am currently in pre-production for my first film, the basic question of why I want to make this film keeps coming up. A question I often ask myself is why did a filmmaker want to direct a certain project, or what drove him to want to tell this story. In a broader sense I wonder what drives filmmakers to make films in the first place, is it the need to tell a story; show their talent; or be challenged?
It seems no matter what the reason, it is rooted in a certain dose of selfishness. I use selfishness not in a negative sense, as this selfish need to express one’s creativity often blurs the line with being a generous act.
When Michel Gondry made The Science of Sleep, he did so as he felt he needed to deal with the emotions and unresolved feelings he had from years past. The film is incredibly personal, and in many ways it acted as a kind of self-therapy. And while I may call this selfish, it is in no way a negative term in this context.
While Gondry may not have been thinking of others when making the film, as he was attempting to replicate the feelings he had when he was younger, he inadvertently did something very generous. Watching the film was, and still is, an incredibly emotional experience for me as the emotions felt by the protagonist are ones I can easily relate to.
Gondry may have been thinking of himself when he made this film but by doing something so entirely personal, he was able to transcend being merely personal and make something people, or at least depressed film geeks, can relate to.
Just as Gondry’s alter-ego, Stephane Miroux, cannot accept adulthood and wishes he could still be young, I often feel the same. I may long for the days of being a child, and yet I know I can never actually return to that time. This is maybe the reason why I am so pulled towards films like Iron Giant, E.T. and Where The Wild Things Are. These are films which may not take place in our world, yet are able to capture the feelings of childhood and growing up. Whatever the reasons behind these directors wanting to make these projects, the end result was beneficial to others.
If a filmmaker tries to make a film that is too universal, they risk watering it down to a point where the truth is gone. When a filmmaker stays true to the inspiration which pushed them to make the film in the first place, they can make something which others can relate to on the simple basis that it is genuine.
As I one day want to be a filmmaker, my goal with my first project, The Dead Days of Summer, is not to make something everyone can relate to but make something which stays true to what inspired me to make the film in the first place. If I can do that, others may just be able to relate to it.
Filmmaking may be a selfish act, but the gifts that filmmakers have given us have changed countless lives and inspired many who see their films. By simply allowing us to experience the feelings of childhood once again by watching Where The Wild Things Are, or for me, being inspired to make films like Spielberg after seeing E.T., these films are gifts from them to us.
I am currently in the process of raising funds for a coming-of-age genre short film called, The Dead Days of Summer. You can donate and learn more here.