Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old Stuff: Brevity Is Not Always The Wit Of Soul

Some of the feedback I've been getting is that my writing is long and "weighty". Someone even posted a note on the message board reminding me that "brevity is the soul of wit". Well, If I was merely trying to be witty, I would indeed be brief.

But I feel many of the issues I'm discussing need to be explored on a deeper level and thoroughly worked out. The other important point, however, is that what I am offering may simply not be of value to you. If the thickness and number of paragraphs tires you out before you even read them, then much of what I say will not resonate with you, anyway.

I want to explore complexity and contradiction, which doesn't always happen with a nimble turn of phrase. However, I do confess to being "weighty". I do often lean on the side of "serious" filmmaking issues. But when confronted by filmmakers who want me to address films that "only" seek to "entertain", I tell them that much of what I am saying is relevant for them, too.

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Even if you are making the broadest of comedies, the humor in it needs to be fresh and distinctive, taking us someplace unexpected. Also, you are kidding yourself if you think you are ever "only making entertainment". Every creative choice you make, no matter how frivolous the film, conveys a set of ideas, beliefs, insights and points of view. You are always saying much more in each frame than you may ever have intended and much more than you might even know.

Why not take ownership and awareness of that fact and make a conscious decision about a film's subtext, no matter how outlandish it is superficially? Why not subtley layer in other points and issues that color the film with your distinctive worldview and imbue it with so much more than a cheap joke? I got a big kick out "Airplane", but I personally prefer to make "Annie Hall". Not the slightest bit interested in "Scary Movie 7" or "American Pie 8". But that's just me.

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