As independent filmmakers we put ourselves into our work. We pour our heart and soul into the stories we write and films we create and often what comes out is incredibly personal. Whether you are aware or not, you have a worldview.
The question is: how do we inspire people through our art if they’ve never experienced what we’ve experienced?
We grow up believing certain things based on what our parents taught us, what we learnt at school, what our friends think, what TV shows we watch – all these different experiences shape the way we think and form our worldview.
Every director of every movie has a worldview and no matter how hard they try or try not to show it, their worldview is on display.
As filmmakers this is something we need to be aware of because when we don’t think about the art we’re creating it might unintentionally turn into preachy propaganda.
Often, like politics, there’s a pendulum. Based on our values we may swing to one side or another and if unchecked that pendulum stays to the one side when we create.
This might be fine if we only want to reach people of our exact same demographic, but if our target audience is people not like us then it might be interpreted as one dimensional.
Our agendas and ideas may not seem obvious to us but to others they may stick out like a sore thumb.
Have you ever noticed how most directors will always have a similar theme or portrayal of character in all their movies?
- Alfred Hitchcock uses a prominent female blonde character in all his movies.
- Lars Von Trier will have you wishing death upon someone by the end of his films.
- Edgar Wright’s protagonists are often isolated individuals nobody understands.
- Darron Arronofsky makes you feel helpless.
- Mel Gibson is known for violence. His films are often powerful, impacting stories, but violent.
- Patty Jenkin’s protagonists are often fearless women.
- Spike Lee’s films often deal with race issues.
- The Cohen Brothers always have witty dialogue and take advantage of wide lenses, which usually makes a conversation feel more intimate.
- Terrence Malick blurs the line between story and modern art with long shots in a field and a voice over by the main character saying ‘God, where are you?’.
- Michael Bay loves explosions.
The best storytellers and filmmakers will usually know how to tell a good story without it feeling like their agenda is forced on us. The above list doesn’t mean they’re bad storytellers because they have obvious traits, but even when they attempt to be objective in their storytelling their personality still shines through, which is why it’s important to know what our worldview is, so we’re not hitting people on the head with our beliefs, etc.
A director like say, Lars Von Trier will cram their ideas down our throat till we gag, wishing we could take back the precious time we’ve wasted. His movies are the worst … Case in point: my own worldview is showing right now as I talk about a famous director such as Lars Von Trier, who I strongly dislike.
As we create our art and write our stories, we need to be aware of the filters we put our content through. The experiences of a female born to conservative parents in the 70’s in a small town in rural Queensland will be vastly different to a male born in 1995 in Las Vegas to rich parents who own a casino. All of those little details are filters which we might or might not be aware of, so it’s important to research the worldviews these types of characters may live to make them believable.
It’s important to know what our filters are so we can show the world for how it really is, as much as possible. Our brains always picking up little details of what’s around. Actively acknowledging it will give us more freedom to create.
Art asks questions and inspires thought, propaganda gives answers and leaves no room for thought.
Ask questions. Inspire. Let your art be interpreted differently because a good movie will speak to and inspire everyone differently.
Let your audience gain their own inspiration from your art.