So, we all want to make movies, be in one, write one, make money on one, is that right? For most of the people I know who have such an interest, behind the interest lies a considerable amount of passion. The passion keeps them motivated (their emotion is the motive force), and, since movies are works which tap the imagination in a wholistic sort of way, they may also use movies as a distraction from life. I did this for years and still do it, I mean, whenever I write anything or go into "story mode" real life recedes and I "live" in the fantasy world for awhile. When I'm thinking about a movie script, that fantasy is in technicolor.

That's why personal films are so useful, in a sense, to anyone who wants to really get involved in movie-making. They can help you deal with reality.

(A friend once told me that after working on a film set for a month he realized that he didn't really enjoy making movies, he enjoyed watching them.) There's a big difference between making them and watching them. Making them is largely blue collar work.

So, why do personal films matter, why are they useful?

Arguably, all films are personal to the people making them. But a personal film, a film that is derived from the real life stuff of your day-to-day existence, is a unique form of creative exercise. On one hand, it could be a personal documentary, forcing you to see your life, and share it, in a new way, i.e., through a camera. Or, it could be a story manufactured from the real stuff of your life.

Here's a quote from a writeup about Sundance 2008:

Gilmore also noted the growth of a more personalized cinema. While last year he spoke of the large number of political and moral films at the festival, this time around he noted, "I don't see that as much this year. I see a lot of personally driven stories that are trying to talk about a kind of reaction to what is going on in the world right now." Continuing he added, "The reaction isn't necessarily an activist one, it's simpler than that, (there are) a lot of comedies. People are finding ways to survive or persevere, or keep on. They aren't attempting big picture solutions."

So, these kinds of movie can actually get screenings at Sundance!

My recollection of "personal films" includes the films of John Cassavetes and Henry Jaglom. Here's the Wiki on Cassavetes: Cassavetes on Wiki

Here's the Wiki on Jaglom: Jaglom on Wiki

Another interesting filmmaker in this realm is Hal Hartley. Here's a scene from TRUST that I found on YouTube:


Wow, I love the dialog in that scene, but did you notice how stagey their delivery sounded?

Now, the question is, how should one approach the making of their own personal film as a way of learning filmmaking, and as a way of taking a good long look at their own life?

//Les

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I think that making a personal film can be a way of confessing to the world of how broken you are. For example writing one of your socially unacceptable habits into one of your characters (drug use, uncontrollable anger, pornography addiction, chronic neck pains).
Like this conversation involving two co-workers in "A Distraction Called Life". The stronger character in this scene is the one who is least confident. "If you exalt yourself you will be humbled..." -Jesus
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That's a nice scene Matt, amazing how crisp the audio is.

Are you saying (in these posts) that this scene conveys one of your socially unacceptable habits?

Matt Nunn said:
Like this conversation involving two co-workers in "A Distraction Called Life". The stronger character in this scene is the one who is least confident. "If you exalt yourself you will be humbled..." -Jesus
Sure. I'ved used people for my own benefit, like Sean's character. I've also failed to stand up for myself, like Ehren's character.
So, doing this movie, or this particular scene, was cathartic for you? Or especially interesting and motivating because it was so personal?

I'm wondering about what motivates us as writers, and where we can look within ourselves for motivation, as we move toward making art out of life experiences. You see, I actually believe that so-called "personal films" are often the best films.

Matt Nunn said:
Sure. I'ved used people for my own benefit, like Sean's character. I've also failed to stand up for myself, like Ehren's character.
I agree. I'm also a firm believer that truth is much stranger and more interesting than fiction. That situation of your life and who you is so unique that a test tube story could never compare.

That was a great post,  and I decided not too long ago to try to make my first short a personal one. It will be very basic and crude I'm sure, but it's somewhat of a healing process for me. Having trouble finding instrumental music to use though. I'm sure that wont be my only issue however :)

Jon

 

Jon, my son, Lucas has some instrumental pieces he might let you use.  Also, there's this site with all sorts of free music, some of it is pretty good:  http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/

Lucas is a member of MAF.

Good luck with the short.  Do you have a camera and other gear for it?  I'm shooting a short for a friend soon if you would like to join us, probably in May.

Les

Thanks for the link Les. I know exactly the type of music I'm looking for, just have not been able to find it. My gear was stolen, unfortunately, but I do have access to some through a friend who has been kind enough to let me use it. Then I have to learn out how to edit...etc.

Depending on the times in May I'd love to join you. April-June are our busiest times in the store, so sometimes it's hard to break away.

Jon

 

 

Thinking about it, since I'm not doing this certain project for ANY type of financial gain, does it even matter if I use a soundclip that is copyrighted?

Yeah, you probably should avoid something you don't have rights to, since you'll probably want to share it online.  If its just for local use, screenings for friends, then its not really an issue.

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