Hollywood is not just a business, it is a system of myths. To create your own industry, in addition to an elaborate system of cinematographic mechanisms you need a mythology.
1.One of the main goals of our school is to give the Russian film industry a breath of fresh air. It would be naive to assume that its current state is due to a lack of professionalism, skills or good scripts. The problem is rooted much deeper. Our school plans to launch a number of researches to study various levels of the American film industry, the world’s most successful one. The main component of that industry is its own mythology. Hollywood is much like Mount Olympus. The system underlying it is mythological rather than pragmatic, and it only seems to be pure business. This is our mistake: we only look at the surface, trying to copy Hollywood’s standards, while we should look deeper. What we really need is a system of myths. For instance, policeman and thief are mythological figures. We cannot make good films about policemen and thieves because we do not have those mythological figures, not because we write poor scripts or have bad directors. It is impossible to work with foreign mythology. We are at the point where Hollywood was in early 1920s. We have to start creating figures, mythological figures, find them in the reality that surrounds us and perfect them, give them all the traits that a figure needs — make them charismatic, defined, conventional.
All the figures and myths have to be created anew. We cannot use the ones that existed before. There was a soviet mythology, it was original. Cinema thrived in the soviet years. It had its characters, archetypes, genres, but it all turned to dust in one moment. We found ourselves in a different country without myths or figures, we lost our archetypes. Characters became deprives of their vitality, and a soldier was not a soldier any longer, a criminal — not a criminal, a professor — not a professor, and a lover — no longer a lover.
2. We need to understand that our reality is not as “real” as the American. That is why we should move away from it. We should follow this formula: the further from reality, the more true! This is the situation in Russia today, and if you understand it, you can start making your first steps. You should avoid reality, not attempt to capture it like art film does, but try to create a new one.
Learning to make films that are “alive” means learning to tell new standards from the outdated ones. Standards like people get old, stale, void and useless. Following those outdated standards leads to phoniness and shallowness. And sometimes everything is done by the rules, but it does not “work”. The audience perceive a film with their heart, not their mind. Films that are shot according to the standards but are not true to life bore people. That is because life has its own standards, and they are never yesterday’s standards. You cannot love by the book, equally you cannot shoot films by the book.
To learn skills means to learn to transfer life onto film. It has its own set of rules that are not as simple as they seem. They are not the copybook maxims of dramaturgy, directing and acting. Although those maxims do exist and are described duly in many American textbooks. Robert McKee talks about them in his books and lectures. But unfortunately, for those rules to work they have to be applied within the American film industry. But why? Are they not universal? Are the rules of dramaturgy, plot and character development, the rules of character interaction not universal? What sort of rules are they then? The rules are universal but to apply them you need something else — the “right” material you can use to write a scrip and shoot a film. To apply the rules you need the right ingredients. To cook something, apart from a recipe you need fresh produce. Rules are of no use if you do not have “life-like” characters, life itself and a myth. AND THIS MYTH HAS TO BE CREATED.
3. The industry needs to learn to create characters and make actors charismatic. Hollywood actors are not human, they are like Olympus gods and heroes — audacious, sly, insolent. This is their image, designed to create some distance. This distance is one of the main components of the myth system. An actor is distant, unattainable, high up on Olympus. He is not a mere human — he lives by different rules, incomprehensible for a commoner, yet mesmerizing, fascinating and interesting. In the American film industry a lot of attention is given to creating this contradictory image, which turns an actor into a mythological figure. And this wonderful, infantile, mysterious, capricious and wicked creature attracts the audience. People want to see him on the screen. In Georgia an interesting actor starts losing his appeal as soon as he gains public attention. Our film industry does not have the means to support an actor’s image. A real human and his image are two different things. In Georgia an actor demonstrates traditional family values, thus showing that he is no different from common people and destroying the distance between them and himself. He is no longer the mythological figure he initially appeared to be. People do not want to see films with him anymore. The film industry is a combination of many elements: dramaturgy, skills, images, myths and charisma.
Our school’s goal is to initiate a new movement that will give rise to film directors, scriptwriters, playwrights and sociologists who will help the Georgian film industry develop.