XMBA, film school

Kevin Coster spoke to Bill Simmons about his career in the movies. It was a good conversation. Costner was reflective and kind and none of the movie-star-tabloid-diva someone might expect. 

He told Simmons that when he knew he was going to star in and direct Dances with Wolves, he started paying attention to what the directors on the preceding films did. He watched how they interacted with the crew. He watched their style. He watched their techniques. That was his version of film school, living it, watching it, trying it. 

Robert Rodriquez famously got his start making inexpensive movies. In a YouTube clip he explains his process. For starters, if you want to do it, do it. When you do it, you are it. “The moment that you think you want to be a filmmaker you are that. Make a business card and pass it out to your friends. As soon as you get it in your mind that you’re one you’ll start thinking like one.” 

Then start watching movies. Learn to see things. “You’re learn some things from watching movies but you’ll learn more by picking up a camera and making movies and making mistakes.” 

Avoid film school, advises Rodriguez. “Start writing your way, that makes you unique. You can take writing classes but don’t bother going to film school or you’ll be making films like everyone else.”

Steve Boman though went to film school. In his book, Film School he addresses Rodriguez’s advice. Boman had to go to film school because he had to have the teachers, gear, time, space, and place to learn. Boman writes that he’d recorded eight minute videos of birthday parties but that doesn’t make it a film.

Film school is a non-stop mad-dash. In an interview about his book, Boman said the main lesson from film school is to not stop moving your feet. “(If) you stop pushing forward nothing will ever happen. That’s a guarantee. Nobody does anything by just dreaming about a good idea. If that were the case every person in the world would have their own television show or film deal.”

That’s what school can provide. The structure that allows someone to learn but it’s still up to the person to make the learning happen. Sometimes that’s in a place, and sometimes it’s not.