15 capsules on the idea of doing something.
An approach to the personal project.
1.- What is a personal project?
In this scene from the movie 'Smoke', from 1995, two men look at several photo albums. They contain 4,000 photographs. The dialogue can explain what a personal project means.
I think it's important that the project consumes us.
I also believe that it is important that, whatever happens, the project remain a space of freedom.
Our rules, whatever we want.
2.- The three questions.
Cheryl Dunye, reflects on advice to a young filmmaker.
Question 1. What kind of author would I like to be?
To answer this question we can compare ourselves, without embarrassment, with other artists or writers. But also with athletes, fictional characters, or people we know. (Perhaps, to begin with, it will be easier to know what kind of author we do not want to be).
Question 2. Where am I speaking from?
What is our position in the world? What is our context?
Question 3. Who am I addressing?
Who are we making "our movie" for? What are we trying to accomplish?
I think that if we are going to generate a book (or an album, or a movie, etc) we have to remember that it will live alongside those that were there before and those that will come after.
3.- The idea.
I like this video by David Lynch, about the creative process.
I think having a notebook, writing things down, wasting time, looking at nothing, scribbling, walking, or spending time talking to oneself about "the project" are things that can help us.
In this other video the Spanish photographer, Javier Vallhonrat, talks about creativity, and how to organize it.
Rest is important.
Chance and luck, too.
Try to do new things for yourself.
4.- I want to make a book (or whatever).
I really like this video of how to make a fanzine.
We are amateurs, we can do whatever we want. We have a lot of freedom.
What can we do that a Hollywood blockbuster can not?
What are our virtues? How can we empower them?
What are our faults? How can we hide them?
Is being lackadaisical a virtue or a defect? And not having a lot of money?
How does what we are and what we do relate to what we want to be and do?
5.- Independent Production Unit.
Money is a subject that we have to think about. We have to be self-sufficient. We have to know how much what we want to do costs what we want to do. And we have to convince someone that our project is interesting for him to invest. You have to try to solve it. There are grants and there are other formulas. It's a headache.
You have to know how to explain our project.
Making a dossier is a weapon to convince others. It also helps us to think about the project and to synthesize ideas.
6. See 'The Watermelon Woman'
Cheryl, at the beginning of the movie, says this: "Hi, I'm Cheryl and I'm a filmmaker, Uh, no, I'm not really a filmmaker, but I have a videotaping business with my friend Tamara and I work at a video store, so I'm working on being a filmmaker The problem is I do not know what I want to make a film on I know it has to be about black women because our stories have never been told, so I've been renting movies - no, I have not been renting movies, but I got movies from the video store I work at and I've taken these films from the 30s and 40s with black actresses in them, like, um Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers and um, in these films, in some of these films, the black actresses are not even listed in the credits and I was just totally shocked by that. "
The imposter syndrome is always close to us.
We have to surf it: We are really writers (or filmmakers or whatever).
There is always someone who´ll come to tell you that you should know someone else's work. Or they´ll come to explain yours.
Do not let them you make you feel less than. You are not.
** You have to watch the whole movie. It´s fantastic.
7. Our history.
Our history goes through us.
Surely you've seen the video of The danger of a single story with Chimamanda.
I think it's important for black people to tell our own stories. Grada Kilomba says it in a very beautiful way.
8. Shamone effect.
Why does Michael Jackson say 'Shamone' in the 'Bad' music video?
We are now because they were before.
9. 'Copying Is Not Theft'.
Copying is not theft. I and II.
In this documentary about the album 'Bad' by Michael Jackson, directed by Spike Lee, they explain how that LP was generated and how their music videos were made. They show us many references.
How can we not copy? The "L" with the "A", "LA".
Do it your way, make it authentic. Will be yours. It will be your "LA".
Everything is referential.
Copyright is an invention of Satan.
10. Plain Writing Act of 2010.
On October 13, 2010, Barack Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law, a measure intended to simplify legislative language. It called for "clear, concise and well organized" language.
I believe that a text in this sense allows for communication to many more levels than does a complex or excessive language. Less is more.
The public also plays a part. Let it.
** You can have other types of strategies, but to me this one seems good.
11.- We have to have a plan.
We have to have a plan to be able to defend our project.
I think you have to let yourself go where the project takes you, listen to it.
Try not to have prejudices towards our own practices.
We have to have a plan, even if it´s just so we can betray it.
What are our criteria?
What do we like? What we do not like?
Use red lines with your own work. Without concessions.
We can make a map of ideas from time to time.
We can compare our maps of ideas with the of those authors that we want to be like. And also with those who we do not.
What decisions do we think they have made? What decisions are we going to make?
Each decision will define us as authors.
12.- 'Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death'
That's the name of this video by Arthur Jafa.
I think it is a good example of how emotional reactions can convey so much.
We have to always think of the reader-spectator. How will she feel? What do we want her to feel?
How are we going to get them excited? At what times are we going to shock them?
I like the idea of 'Imperfect Cinema' by Julio García Espinosa: "A perfect cinema, technically and artistically achieved, is almost always a reactionary cinema." "Imperfect cinema is one in which it is difficult to see the difference between those who consume and who produce, between the public and the author". A cinema´s more blurred, ambivalent and affective.
We have to think about what our narrative will be.
You can not do everything by yourself.
You need a team of people around you.
You will need someone to read you and be brutally honest, to help you, to correct you.
You will need someone to design.
You have to have a team that give everything for you.
We are the directors of our movie, it will be our name that is there.
14.- The project dominates you.
The project may be big.
We must try to avoid scenarios that we do not like.
We have to provoke scenarios that we like.
What kind of author did we want to be?
15. The time is now.
Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it."
Our time is now, it is always now.