Focus on reality
We live in a certain period of time, and in each period a new worldview is created. To create a new worldview, you need new tools, the old ones won’t do. An artist’s vision changes, shifts, bringing about various images and styles. This was summed up very accurately by Czesław Miłosz: an artist pursues the reality. It often happens that time changes, and directors who do not keep up with it lose their edge: their grasp on the cinema weakens, they cannot produce good films anymore. Although these directors know their trade, they fail to capture the reality. The reality keeps unfolding and sometimes it unveils a great extension of artistic means. And it becomes impossible to use the old filming, lighting, acting or narrating techniques. The old means, ways and styles cannot be utilised anymore. They lose their vitality, their potency. And it is no use teaching those dead standards. And new standards can only be passed on by people who work according to them. The goal of our school is not just teaching basic skills. We want to teach our students to create films that are “alive”, not “dead”.
Language and Style
Stories never get old, the ways we tell them do. What does Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Neo-realism without bicycles” mean? It means that “bicycles” have become commonplace — a doxa. And art is not where doxa is, art is always a paradox. Every great writer introduces a language shift, and so does every great director. You need to absorb the spirit of your time. It does not mean that you simply substitute “old” characters for “new” ones or lofty speech for slang. This is often the case in modern cinema, theatre, literature, it is an attempt to make them “new”, but such “novelty” is false. The time spirit is not expressed through familiar everyday types and images or their slang. It is expressed through form, signs, contours that form a language, a style. Only by means of that language and that style can the true reality be reflected.
Learning to capture that reality in cinema is very important, as well as finding your own style. Even in American cinema, films shot by Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino reveal their likings, flaws, passions and fears. Their films show their character. So learning standards is not enough, you need to learn to listen to yourself, understand your fears and secret desires. Films often turn out poorly because they are full of clichés. Everything is done according to the standards, but the film is “dead”. It is not enough to stick to the standards of dramaturgy, of creating the right mise-en-scène or directing actors. It is not just these rules and standards that are needed to create characters and circumstances. You have to breathe life into them, out of your own lungs. And to do that you need pneuma. Films come out bad and superficial not because directors lack skills, rather because they use their skills only and work without any passion. You have to feel life and be able to track its pressure points. Their location keeps changing, and you have to be sensible to that.
It is not just the lecturer who teaches, it is also the specific situation. Students absorb knowledge when they are in that situation. In the right place even the walls can teach you. But today things are starting to change. The main task of every school is to trouble its students’ minds. Because only a troubled mind can learn the true skill and produce films that are “alive”. To celebrate the discovery of the Pythagorean theorem, Pythagoras sacrificed a hundred cattle to the gods. Thus it is believed that when something new is about to be discovered, oxen fret. So when you want to know if a film is good, see if oxen are anxious.