An insightful fellow filmmaker made a comment, watching my latest film (Endings) that got me thinking. He said, quite simply, that he felt this film was my most “personal.” In another forum, I reflected on this idea a little bit and I wanted to expand those thoughts here.
In the context of some discussion of the “conflict” between commercial films and “art” films, the thing that struck me wasn’t the commercial or non-commercial nature of the film, but the degree to which any production actually seemed “personal.” In other words, in the film (or singing or performance) am I able to sense that there is someone who cares, who understands what is driving this?
I think there are plenty of commercial films (okay, maybe fewer than before) in which I can get a sense that someone cares. Typically they are not the most mass market films. I think everyone was having fun making Iron Man X, but it doesn’t feel personal to me. Rabbit Hole did feel personal. Blue Valentine felt personal. Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter felt personal to me.
So if I accept my concept that this quality of being personal - at least to some visible degree - is a distinguishing characteristic of authentic art as distinct from “empty entertainment” then I need to think about my options as a filmmaker. And, like practically everything really important in filmmaking, I think it all comes back to the story in that troublesome and odd form known at the screenplay. Which is why I’m not making a new film this summer - instead I’m devoting some of that same energy to three writing projects. More about those projects in the future and probably an open invitation to read and comment on the scripts when they are ready.