THIS GUY. Last night, experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky spoke to my documentary studies class, and I’m re-posting some of his quotes and ideas here. I would have posted a video, but Dorsky films on 16mm and hates converting the film to digital. I’m almost positive there’s nothing online; my class had to watch Compline, Aubade, and The Return on a projector. Anyway, here’s some inspiration from his talk (which I’ll just list in bullet points, because I’m feeling a little lazy). Genius:
Compared montage to the haiku form: Establish/Establish/Break (break the order, break open the idea)
Asked himself whether film could continually open up, instead of building (narrative). Could a film exist for itself, without montage to serve the narrative?
Dorsky’s films are “documents of psyche, or dream language.” When you are in waking life, the mind demands a narrative to carry you through the day. However, when we are almost asleep, almost awake, or dreaming “Mr. Narrative” lets go of control. His films recreates that narration-free state of mind.
Let your footage determine what your film is.
Narrative film: you have an obligation to a third party, the character. There is no such obligation with poetry (which is why he makes “poetic films.”)
Poetry has always been a marginal source that infiltrated society. It got co-opted by the system. In the same way, poetic film may get co-opted by narrative film, which makes for “weak poetry.”
Dorsky said he would be interested if someone made a film without setting up an agenda first. Just collected images for 8 or 9 months and see where it went. “Let life dictate the film instead of breathing life into a story by constructing a narrative. Respect actual discovery and touch upon the mystery of the world.”
Dorsky doesn’t shoot people unless he captures them unaware of the camera. If they notice, they are already performing for the camera and it is no longer poetry. It’s now theater.
"I’m trying to place images somewhere between third- and first-person…Then the world is neither object nor subject." The screen itself becomes manifest.
Good filmmakers: screen is as alive as the world; Bad filmmakers: screen tries to show you pictures of the world.
"A film about truth is less than a film that is truth.”
"The best filmmakers are responsive to light. The world is light."
"There are times when you’re whole in life, just being and full. Other times, you’re in your own head and have a bad attitude or opinion about everything. But sometimes that veil is lifted and you’re [completely being].”
When you’re “whole in life,” the world is truly three-dimensional. When you’re inside your own head, you’re dead to life and the world is a flat image.
"Film is almost a spiritual discipline."
"With good filmmakers, every cut is refreshing."
Do not use the world to make your movie.
Maintain honesty when editing. Throw something out if it doesn’t work with the whole (even if you love the shot).
"A great film tunes you." (You’re attune to image and sound in life.)