Film Education

Moviemakers’s Master Class By Laurent Tirard

Film Book Review by Oorvazi Irani

Film Book Review

Reading the book is like having the privilege of being in the company of some great filmmakers and being part of understanding their world of filmmaking. It’s a beautiful glimpse into insights, thoughts and techniques of the art and craft of filmmaking featuring a master class with Woody Allen, Wong Kar-Wai, Oliver Stone, Jean –Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, Sydney Pollack, Bertolucci and many more. In the words of one of the interviewees John Boorman “Wait a minute. You just stole all my little secrets here!”

A flavour of the book  follows:

What strikes you as a reader is that sometimes there are recurring thoughts and ideas which emphases their importance like what Martin Scorsese says “…you may find that the biggest problem of young filmmakers is that they have nothing to say. And invariably their films will be either very unclear or very conventional and geared towards a rather commercial marketplace. So I think the first thing you need to ask yourself if you want to make a film is “Do I have anything to say”. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be something literal that can be expressed through words. Sometimes you just want to communicate a feeling, an emotion. That’s sufficient. And believe me that’s hard enough.”

And another often repeated simple yet profound truth is as I quote Sydney Pollack

“I think there are basically two kinds of filmmakers: those who know and understand a truth which they want to communicate to the world, and those who are not quite sure what the answer to something is and who make the film as a way to try and find out. That’s what I do.”

Wong Kar Wai besides being a director of the second kind like Pollack, always searching and discovering more so while shooting, editing, sometimes three months after the first screening, also reveals a very significant yet often less understood aspect of filmmaking by young filmmakers. Wong Kar Wai says and I quote “ I have a rather unusual approach to screen writing (as he writes his own scripts). You see, I write as a director, not as a writer. So I write with images. And to me, the most important thing about the script is to know the space it takes place in. Because if you know that, then you can decide what the characters do in that space. The space even tells you who the characters are, why they’re there, and so on….So I have to scout locations even before I start writing. ..”

Takeshi Kitano speaks about his unique approach to filmmaking which is as follows

“…..At my level, I am happy if I can find only two or three images, maybe not perfect but in any case very powerful, to form the foundations of the film. For eg. In Kikujiro’s Summer, I knew even before writing the screenplay that I wanted to include the moment when the character I play walks off alone along the beach and the child runs after him to take his hand. This image, as well as a few others, was my reason for making that particular film. With that in mind, I invented a plot and wrote scenes to create a link between the images. But in the end, the story is almost an excuse. My cinema is much more a cinema of images than a cinema of ideas.”

There is a separate chapter dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard exploring the following:

Loving cinema is already learning to make films

You want to make a film? Pick up a camera

Making a film out of desire – or out of need

Duties of the director

The importance of the exchange

Directing actors is like training athletes

Moving the camera for the sake of it is a mistake

The danger of wanting to be an auteur

I would  like to end by quoting Claude Sautet as a film auteur and would want the reader  to ponder on this thought.

“The sets change, the characters too, but the same underlying themes return. Infact,  inspite the energy that I have put into each new project to make it different, in the end I have been making the same film all my life.”


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

it seems to make a film is a deep rooted desire which is bursting to be fulfilled. Claude Sautet’s remark is thought provoking.

Comment by Indu Raman

Indu, glad you found the quote interesting and thought provoking.

Comment by oorvazi Irani

Is this book available in local stores ? I can’t seem to find it.

Comment by Prp Gaddar

Yes it should be available, try Granth, Landmark, Crossword.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Beautiful! Where can I buy it?

Comment by Agastya Kapoor

Agastya! if there is a will there is a way. Granth had it some time ago. Speak to Hiren in their Juhu branch, give him my reference.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

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