Great screenplays write themselves. Great films shoot themselves. Your job as a creator should be to never question a signal, or inspiration – just go with it. And use your eyes, ears, and then, if you’ve appreciated and respected your creation, it’ll all be there. The skill is to not interfere with it. Give it some room to breathe.
A sentence like, “Listen to signs from the universe” might sound hokey but I’d still advise it. If you’ve written a scene to take place inside a garage and no matter what you try, no one will let you film in their garage, simply change it. If you fight it, the fight will wear down the natural flow and keep you from seeing what is truly supposed to be there.
When you’re writing a script and you hit a stumbling block, move on – go to another scene. If you’ve outlined your story and developed a clear structure, you can simply skip around. If you’ve foolishly started writing without a clear structure in place, stop whatever you’re doing and develop the structure before going any further.
If you’re a songwriter, and the lyrics just aren’t coming to you, put in some working sounds that may or may not even be actual words. Maybe they’re just noises and sounds, vowels, that you can place words upon later.
Realists have a more difficult time than the rest of us, because they get bogged down with the laws they were raised with. Or laws that have been pounded into them by society at large. Water is wet. The sky is blue. Neither may be actually true, but we are taught they are.
Letting go of the trappings in the world around you and allowing yourself to FEEL what you feel is a really hard thing to do for most people. But, I assure you, that once you get the hang of it, it’ll be easier and easier.
In my own work, I can see the differences between projects where I’ve opened myself up to the universe and let all the pieces fall into place, or on the projects where I’ve forced it to much. It’s taken me a decade to finally tap into something I can’t understand, and which is hard to communicate. But it’s there.
They say, “Write what you know.” And likewise: film what you know, sing what you know, dance what you know and paint what you know. Of course that’s wonderful and always enjoyable but it’s also fun to push yourself a bit into an area you don’t know.
People ask me what inspires me to make a film. The answer truly lands in what I’m interested in learning next. I’ve never made a proper horror film. Or a western. Learning how to do that is exciting to me. I’ve never made an erotic film. Having to learn about what makes eroticism work is a challenge. Especially if it’s a kind of sexuality I know nothing about.
I consider myself as a mad scientist in a way. Wanting to combine different genres, or starting a movie off in one tone and then ending in another. Like CASSEROLE CLUB, where we began with tongues planted in cheeks, then half-way through twisted the tone and moved into something serious, heavy and utterly devastating. I also love movies that stick in the same tone throughout, like FIRECRACKER, or OCCUPYING ED.
But regardless what story you’re telling, my advice is to be open to letting the creation have its own life force. Give it some room to morph, grow, and breathe. You might just find that it grows into its own amazing being.
Works of art are like children. And as a parent, it’s most responsible to let your children develop into who THEY are. It’s irresponsible for you to make them who you want them to be. Take a step back, and open yourself up to the possibility that they just might have their own voices and their own energies. And if you can learn to respect them, you might be surprised at what they become.