Why learn film storytelling techniques?

I wanted to start this blog by unveiling a provocative though utterly open secret. Whether they want it or not, moviemakers are the heir of a century of filmmaking. Not only does their creativity draw inspiration from their predecessors’ and contemporary fellow artists’ work, but also from all kinds of artistic areas. The more they know about storytelling the better. Writing, acting, drawing, painting, architecture, music, geography, history, psychology, … All these fields and many more have fed moviemakers’ creativity for a hundred years. Great moviemakers are insatiable learners.

No wonder why film study is a necessity so as to learn about moviemaking. As French writer Paul Valéry said:

Talent without genius isn’t much, but genius without talent is nothing.
So if you want to develop your ability to tell stories visually, knowing your craft could prove essential.

 

Although late Blake Snyder’s famous/controversial best seller Save the cat! deals with screenwriting, there is on page 22 a bit about filmmaking that is especially relevant to us:

Yet surprising as it seems for people who are interested in pursuing a career in movies, I am shocked – shocked! – to find how many up-and-comers can not even quote from movies in their own genre, much less movies generally.

 

Trust me, all the big guys can.

 

Listen to Spielberg or Scorsese talk about movies. They know and can quote from hundreds. And I don’t mean quote as in “recite lines from,” I mean quote as in “explain how each movie works.” Movies are intricately made emotion machines. They are Swiss watches of precise gears and spinning wheels that make them tick. You have to be able to take them apart and put them back together again. In the dark. In your sleep. And your knowledge of a few movies you like is not enough. It is also not enough to know all the movies of the past five years. You have to go back, see the lineage of many types of movies, know what movie begat what in the line of succession, and how the art was advanced by each.

 

Well, if you are interested in learning more about film storytelling techniques, this blog is made for you. There are a zillion topics waiting to be published here so please bear with me.

 

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