I was over at a friend’s place yesterday, and we got to talking about doing things the right way and doing things the wrong way. We agreed that doing things the wrong way is often far more interesting, in terms of the experience and the results.
This conversation came about because we were talking about how we wanted to make films. My friend said he was more interested in working with people who didn’t really know how you’re supposed to make a movie, and by fumbling their way through it together, maybe they’d at least make something different. I often have a similar feeling, and am frequently interested in working with people who don’t have much/any film experience but have some particular quality that I think is interesting. I like working with artists and musicians more than I like working with people who studied filmmaking. I love working with theater people because they’re generally very willing to try new things, they’re super hard-working, and their skills and experience is directly transferable to filmmaking.
I am easily infuriated by people who make films in the way that they think they’re supposed to, but are incompetent about it. I know that I shouldn’t be infuriated by such a silly thing, as it doesn’t really hurt me. I don’t fully understand why I get so angry about it, except to say that I care a lot about filmmaking and my feelings about it can get complicated.
Part of the reason why it makes me so angry to see people incompetently attempt to make formulaic films is that the thought and only motivation behind it seems to be, “Well, this is the way that Hollywood does it.” Yes, but some of the most talented, skillful, hard-working people in the world are in Hollywood making those shitty movies, so why would anyone ever hire an incompetent buffoon to do what they already do, just not as well? Your movie looks awful, the writing and acting makes me want to vomit, and you can’t even get the sound right! You’re a terrible, empty person and I hope you’ll slip in the shower and die before anybody has to sit through your stupid movie!
… I’m sorry. I told you that it makes me angry.
I want to stress again that that’s my reaction when someone is trying to make movies “the right way” and isn’t very good at it. As soon as I see that someone is trying to do things at least a little differently, then I will instantly overlook anything that might normally be considered technical flaws, and the fact that it’s low-budget and rough around the edges will endear it to me rather than repel me. That’s because I’m a big, big fan of people trying to do things differently. Even if it doesn’t work, I’ll find something to be intrigued by. But if a movie is going to be by-the-numbers AND incompetent, then that is a complete waste of time.
This is made all the worse when more effort is put into “looking professional” than is put into “making a good movie.” This means you get all the benefits of annoying lingo and general douchbaggery without the hassle of creating something that anybody should ever have to sit through.
Sorry. I’m going to steer this away from the hate-filled rant that it’s becoming and focus on what I meant to write about: doing things the wrong way. What I really mean is not doing things the right way–the way that everyone else is doing it.
I like what James Dyson (yeah, the vacuum guy) says about it:
We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path.
Cinema is such a young art form that I feel it deserves to be taken on by people who are willing to make big mistakes and take big risks, whether through naivety or a deliberate avoidance of the “right” way of doing things.
I should say that there are different kinds of wrong ways of doing things. I’m really talking about the “I don’t know what’s gonna happen if I do this but I’m gonna do it anyway” kind of wrong way, and not the “I’m gonna buy a house I can’t afford and live off of credit cards because I just really like nice things and I haven’t thought this through” kind of wrong way. I think it’s important to do things uniquely wrong so that you can learn something that no one else could have told you already. But if you’re gonna make the same mistakes that a bunch of other people have already made, then that’s no good.
If you can do the wrong thing in a unique way, and do that over and over again, you might just stumble onto new discoveries, create intriguing art, and live a more interesting life. Or maybe not. But either way, it beats the hell out of doing the same old same old.